If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

April Interviews

4/1 Jennifer Chow, Mimi Lee Gets A Clue
4/8 John Gaspard
4/15 Art Taylor, The Boy Detective & The Summer of '74
4/22 Maggie Toussaint, Seas the Day
4/29 Grace Topping, Staging Wars

Saturday Guest Bloggers
4/4 Sasscer Hill
4/18 Jackie Green

WWK Bloggers:
4/11 Paula Gail Benson
4/25 Kait Carson


WWK is proud of our four Agatha nominees. Kaye George for Best Short Story--not her first time to be nominated, Connie Berry and Grace Topping for Best First Mystery Novel (wish they weren't having to compete against each other), and Annette Dashofy for Best Contemporary Novel--her fifth nomination!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Look for Kaye George and Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Kaye's story is "Life and Death on the Road" and Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Kaye George's first novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Revenge is Sweet, will be released on March 10th. Look for the interview here on March 11.

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, will be released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here on April 29th.

Don't miss Shari Randall's "The Queen of Christmas" available on at Amazon. Shari's holiday story for WWK was too long so she published it for our enjoyment. It's available for 99 cents or on Kindle Unlimited for free!

KM Rockwood's "The Society" and "To Die A Free Man; the Story of Joseph Bowers" are included in the BOULD Awards Anthology, which was released on November 19. KM won second place with a cash prize for "The Society." Congratulations, KM! Kaye George's "Meeting on the Funicular" is also in this anthology, which can be bought for 99 cents on Kindle until November 30.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dire Threads Author Janet Bolin

Janet Bolin’s first-in-series, Dire Threads, came out in June. I wanted to interview Janet because I found the book a promising start to a new series. Dire Threads is a craft based mystery using the fictitious town of Threadville as its setting. Main character, Willow Vanderling’s store, In Stitches, showcases machine-made embroidery. As a Manhattan transplant, Willow not only is the new woman in town, but also a new shop owner and, as it turns out, she has much to prove. Please welcome Janet Bolin to WWK.   E. B. Davis

Welcome to WWK, Janet. Willow’s property becomes the source of conflict in the small, quaint town. Could you explain your hook, conflict and setting to our readers?

Janet: Thanks for inviting me! It’s good to be here.

The village of Elderberry Bay was declining until Willow’s best friend and her best friend’s three (!) mothers opened fabric, yarn, notions, and quilting stores, and Elderberry Bay earned its nickname of Threadville. Willow’s machine embroidery boutique is the latest Threadville shop. While Willow’s friends may feel that they rescued the village, some of the old-timers may not be entirely pleased by busloads of women arriving every day and energizing the once sleepy village.

Elderberry Bay is on the (fictitious) Elderberry River, which empties into Lake Erie. While Willow and others love the peaceful nature trail along the river, the village’s zoning commissioner wants to open the trail to motorized vehicles. He also plans to bulldoze the cottage that Willow plans to renovate and rent to tourists. She doesn’t really mean the dire threat she makes, but when he ends up dead in her back yard, her livelihood hangs by a thread . . .

Your characters are three dimensional because they have history, relationships and life conflicts. Have you written their futures as well?

Janet: I will put them into situations, and their personalities will determine how they’ll react. I’ve turned in the second book and have started writing the third, so I do know what their near future holds—more adventures. Their decisions and actions often surprise me.

Willow has two dogs. Are they based on your own pets?

Janet: Yes, they are, and they have similar histories of being found in Ohio when they were scared little 4-month-old puppies, and being kept in a very nice rescue facility until someone wanted both of them. They’re brother and sister. Their devotion to each other is strong and very touching.

What is the publishing date and title of the sequel to Dire Threads?

Janet: It’s scheduled for June, 2012. Berkley books come out the first Tuesday of the month, so that would be June 5. Not that I’m counting down, or anything . . . I’m calling it Threaded for Trouble, but Berkley may have a better idea.

Is this your first published book?

Janet: Yes, and it’s very exciting! I’ve had short stories and short humorous essays published and read on nationally broadcast programs on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) radio. Three of those essays were in an anthology, Dear Sad Goat.

How did BookEnds LLC become your literary agency?

Janet: It was a miracle! My friend and critique partner, Krista Davis, told her editor that I lived near a cozy village on Lake Erie and did machine embroidery, and the editor said she’d like to see a proposal. A proposal! This threw me, because I was determined to write an entire manuscript before attempting to sell it. I sent the proposal on a Thursday and had my offer of representation on Monday—yep, four days. Three weeks later, I had an offer for three books from Berkley. One agent, one publisher, less than a month. A miracle. Then I had to settle down and write the book—a very scary prospect. But it turned out to be lots of fun.

What is the editing process like at Berkley Prime Crime Mystery and how long did it take from submission to release?

Janet: The editing process was like a free writing course. My editor spotted areas that needed strengthening. She was very patient and understanding, and we sent the revised manuscript (a digital file, all done by email) back and forth until we were both happy with it. Then they sent the revised digital file to a copy editor who was fantastic, and even pointed out a couple of inconsistencies that we had missed (I had a state trooper sitting on slush-covered steps, which wasn’t very nice to him—I very kindly allowed him to brush the slush off, probably with his bare hands, and sit on a wet step. Luckily, he was a real trooper about it all .)

I got to look at the manuscript again as a PDF file when it was camera-ready, and found a few more bloopers and typos. The entire process took almost two years because they gave me a year to write it, then they needed a year to edit and produce the cover (which I think is beautiful) and put it into their catalogue, list it for pre-orders, send out their sales team and a barrel of review copies, and I’m not sure what else. Waiting was hard, and even when I had the book in my hands, I could hardly believe it I wasn’t dreaming.

Are you an embroiderer? How do you feel about machine-based embroidery? Those machines are darn expensive, aren’t they?

Janet: Machine embroidery is a really fun hobby. I sort of fell into it by buying a machine to which I could add an embroidery attachment, someday. Someday happened very quickly. It’s like a big toy. I’m very impressed by hand embroidery, but probably lack the patience. Yes, some of those machines can be expensive, but if you visit a sewing store that sells them, they’ll happily demonstrate them (at least Willow will!) Some folks call them killer sewing machines. Threaded for Trouble gives those words a whole new meaning . . .

Do you have any advice for new novelists?

Janet: Do you have hours? The first thing I’d say is to rewrite and polish before sending a manuscript out. And don’t rely on your own eyes or those of your friends and relatives to know when it’s ready to go. Competent, objective critiquers can be the difference between publishing and not. And this may be hardest to take of all, and seems to contradict what I first said—if your manuscript is not getting anywhere, consider a new direction. I had no success writing suspense—cracking jokes in dark moments can be frowned upon—but my first attempt at a cozy sold based on three chapters and a synopsis.

Would you self-publish?

Janet: Never say never, but I can’t see it happening as long as I’m writing for Berkley. I get beautiful covers and professional editing. Their sales force put my books into stores and libraries. If I had to do all that myself, I wouldn’t be very good at it. Besides, I might not have time to write. Or sew, knit, crochet, quilt, embroider . . .

Of your secondary characters, which is your favorite and why?

Janet: Whoa! You saved the hardest question for last. Willow’s best friend’s three mothers are creative and have the courage to be original, different, and themselves. They also may adopt strays, including Willow. I seldom know what they’re going to do next.

Access Janet’s website, The Threadville Mysteries, to learn more about this author and her books and view great pictures of her dogs! She can be found on Facebook as Janet Bolin-Author and on Twitter as @JanetBolin. This was a fun interview, Janet.  Thanks for coming to WWK, and when your sequel is release, please come back.


Warren Bull said...

What a great story. Thank you for sharing it with us.

E. B. Davis said...

I enjoyed reading this book. Janet's settings are active. The weather is very much a character is her book. Thanks for the interview Janet!

Kara Cerise said...

Wonderful story of how you found a literary agency. Or, how they found you!

Pauline Alldred said...

Thank you for sharing, Janet. I was impressed by the editing help you were given. After a while, it seems impossible to keep editing your own work. Good luck with sales.

Polly Iyer said...

I'm so delighted for Janet. She put her skills to good use by writing a character who could do what she does. Kudos.

E. B. Davis said...

Janet is a great example. How many of us want an agent and to get a book sold to a major house? You're an inspiration, Janet!

Kaye George said...

Thanks for bringing Janet and Willow here. What a success story? Brava, Janet!

Marilyn Levinson said...

Great interview. I can't wait to read DIRE THREADS!!

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Late, late, late!. E.B. and Janet, well done, and Janet, the plot sounds wonderful. I can just see te world you create from your descriptions. And of course you had me when I read she finds the zoning commissioner dead in her back yard. Best wishes on your debut!

Victoria Hamilton said...

What a great story... makes me want to move to Threadville!!

E. B. Davis said...

It's like a lot of places that rely on tourism, there's a love/hate relationship there Victoria.

Janet Bolin said...

Hi, I'm feel terrible that I missed reading your comments until today. I was in Newfoundland with no Internet access. Newfoundland is beautiful, BTW, with wonderfully kind people. Very . . . cozy.

Thanks again for letting me visit Writers Who Kill, and for your kind sords, Warren, E.B., Polly, Kaye, Marilyn, and Donnell.

Yes, Kara, and E. B. I'm still pinching myself about finding an agent and publisher so quickly.

I agree, Pauline, about editing and critiquing help. After awhile, I can't tell what my words even mean.

Victoria, if I find a real Threadville, I'll want to move there, too.

E.B., yes, you've got it right. Villages that depend on tourists have a different dynamic.