Friday, September 20, 2013

Sparkle Abbey - An Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Two Bestselling Mystery Authors writing under the name Sparkle Abbey. They are in real life Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter. They have written the bestselling Pet Mystery Series.

Author Genre: Mystery, Crime, Humor And Comedy

Website: Sparkle Abbey - pampered pet mysteries
Author's Blog: Sparkle Abbey
Twitter: @sparkleabbey
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description:
Our author picture is a shot of us with the real Sparkle and the real Abbey. Don't you love the stare down? Our real names are Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter. We write the Pampered Pets mystery series together. We're also friends and neighbors so you'll often find us writing at ML's dining room table or at our local Starbucks.

We chose to use Sparkle Abbey as our pen name on this series because we liked the idea of combining the names of our two rescue pets - Sparkle (ML's cat) and Abbey (Anita's dog).

We live in the Midwest, but if we could write anywhere, you would find us on the beach with our laptops and depending on the time of day either an iced tea or a margarita.

We have had so much fun writing this series and we hope you enjoy Caro and Mel's adventures!

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: Yip/Tuck. What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

Next up is “Fifty Shades of Greyhound.” We’ve just finished it and turned it in to our publisher. We had so much fun writing this book as there was a lot to learn about Greyhounds and Greyhound rescue groups.

In Fifty Shades of Greyhound, Caro Lamont, Laguna Beach’s favorite pet therapist is back with a sudden death at a Greyhound rescue fundraiser. Soon Caro is racing against time to figure out who the victim really was, who had a reason to kill him, and who is keeping secrets.

You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? Do you see a carry over to your writing success?

Absolutely! The great thing about Twitter and other social media is…well, the social part of it. It has allowed us to connect with readers in a way that wouldn’t have been possible a few short years ago. We’ve had the chance to get to know readers from all around the U.S. and even some UK and Australian readers.

Do you do book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

As time permits, we do quite a few personal appearances. We love to pair book signings or appearances with raising awareness about animal rescue, so we often work with a rescue group. We’ll be doing a book signing in Independence, Missouri at Dog Eared Books on October 12th. This particular appearance we’ll be signing with our friend and fellow author, Angie Fox, and the event will benefit Wayside Waifs and Great Plains ASPCA. Readers can look for our schedule on our website at:

You have great covers. They carry your theme with a unique flavor. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

Our publisher, Bell Bridge Books, handles our covers and so far we’ve loved all of them! They’ve won several awards for cover design and it’s clear they work very hard to represent the flavor of the story. You can see more of the cover design on their website at: We can’t wait to see what they’re going to come up with for this next book!

Have you created a book trailer for any of your books to promote them online? Your books have a great subject matter and think a trailer would be quite. Do you use the trailer in your character development? Are the pictures and background the way you see your characters and scenes?

Our publisher created a book trailer for the launch of the Pampered Pets series. You can see it here: We think it’s a fun book trailer and totally captures the feel of the series.

We’re both very visual and do use pictures and background to keep the story setting in mind. Pinterest is a fun way to be able to share some of those visual ideas with our readers. Our Pinterest page is here:

What writer support groups do you belong too besides each other? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

We belong to Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America. We’re also active members of the local chapters of those groups and we have a critique group that’s been together for several years. The professional organizations have been a tremendous help in keeping up-to-date on what’s going on in the publishing world and the local groups not only provide support, but also the camaraderie of other writers. They’re the best!

Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you both manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it by ear? We already know about the margaritas.

Yes and no. Because we have wonderful full family lives and also day jobs, time management is essential. We do try to keep to a regular writing schedule, but have also learned that life happens; and so we find that we also have to stay flexible and make adjustments as things come up. As they always seem to do…

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

Our publisher has worked with both Amazon and Barnes & Noble a couple of time to do a free special or a reduced price special and we’ve found those to be pretty successful. The best thing that comes out of that type of a promotion is that new readers find us and we’re thrilled by that result. There are a lot of books available and readers have a lot of choices so when you’re able to make the connection with readers who love what you write – that’s exciting!

With both of you writing, how do you manage your plots, characters and timelines to keep your stories going? Do you use any software to keep track of your books?

We have a very unique approach in that we take turns with the books. So what that means is that one of us (Mary Lee) writes the odd numbered books, and one of us (Anita) writes the even numbers books. The odd numbered books feature, Caro Lamont, a pet therapist; the even numbered books feature, Melinda Langston, a pet boutique owner. The two protagonists are cousins, so they share background information. And the books share setting, locale (Laguna Beach, CA), and secondary characters. We create the plots together and work closely on the storylines to keep everything consistent.

We have had several authors with pets as companions on their writing adventures. Tell us briefly the story how Sparkle and Abbey come into the picture?

When we proposed these stories to Bell Bridge Books and they made us an offer for a four-book deal, we assumed we’d each us our own names. However, the publisher asked that we use a pen name to make it easier for people to know that it was one series. We tried various combinations of our names but we weren’t wild about any of them. Finally, we were talking (It might have involved margaritas.) and came up with the idea of using our pets names, Sparkle (ML’s cat) and Abbey (Anita’s dog). We recently lost Abbey but she lives on as part of our pen name. We’re friends as well as neighbors and so often our plotting is done at ML’s dining room table and Sparkle join us when we’re working. Although, we truly believe she thinks our laptops are actually cat warmers.

Here's a video of Sparkle helping us edit:

As you can see, she's tough!

Author's Book List
Yip/Tuck - Pampered Pets Mystery
A killer has been unleashed. Book Four in the bestselling Pampered Pets Mystery Series

One of Laguna Beach’s best-known plastic surgeons may need a new leash on life. Unless he’s just taking a very long nap on the bench outside Melinda Langston’s Bow Wow Boutique . . .

Dr. O’Doggle continued to give us the silent treatment. Fluffy eyed him intently. I studied him too. Tova Randall wasn’t my BFF, to say the least, but I didn’t wish her boyfriend any bad luck.

My neighbor, Darby, relaxed her grip on Fluffy’s leash. The big Afghan lunged toward Dr. O and knocked him over.

Tova’s handsome hunk rolled off the bench and dropped with a thud at our feet.

Darby gasped. My stomach knotted. “No, no, no.” I shook my head. “Not again.”

I knelt down and shook his shoulders. “Dr. O’Doggle?” I grabbed his suit lapels and yelled, “Jack?”

No response. No, “I’m fine.” No, “Stop yelling in my face.” No, “Get your hands off me.”

No, no, no.

I checked his throat for a pulse. Nothing. But he was still warm. My fingers brushed against something knotted around his throat, and I’m not talking about his tie. I pulled back his shirt for a better look. I sucked in a breath, my nose filled with a light female perfume I didn’t recognize. A thin dog leash was wound tightly around his neck. Identical to the kind I sold at the shop. This was not an accident.

“Is he . . .?” Darby asked softly.

I looked up at her. “Dead. No more late night walks for him.”

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Kitty Kitty Bang Bang - The Pampered Pets Mystery Series
Caro Lamont—pet therapist—and her cousin Melinda Langston—owner of The Bow Wow Boutique—pamper the kitties and pooches of Laguna Beach’s elites. Unfortunately, their human clients keep turning up dead.

“We were at an art exhibition at The Montage,” I told the detective, “and Kitty asked me to take her cats home because something had come up. Something urgent. It seemed strange, but then the whole evening was strange with dogs and cats. Ones that paint, I mean. And Kitty would never leave her cats, but she did, so it must have been really urgent . . .”

Detective Judd Malone looked past me. “Are those the cats?”

I nodded.

“What kind are they? They’re huge.”

“They’re Bengal cats. Bengals are a hybrid. A cross between a domestic cat and an Asian Leopard Cat. It’s a relatively new breed. Most have . . .”

Malone’s face said TMI. Fair enough, more info than he’d been looking for. “I imagine you know I’m here about Ms. Bardot?” Malone was suddenly all business.

“Yes.” I held my breath and hoped for good news.

“Caro.” He paused. “She didn’t make it.”

“She—” I felt my throat close, and I swallowed hard trying to get control of my emotions. “Too many injuries?” I finally asked. Whatever her emergency had been, it had seemed to upset her. She’d been shaken, and Kitty was never shaken. I remembered her voice as she’d asked me to take care of Tobey and Minou and get them home. The cats. What would happen to the cats now? “Was she driving too fast?”

“Not exactly.” Malone’s voice was serious and grim. “We won’t know until we have a lot more information from the crime lab. It’s too soon to tell, but it may have been a case of road rage. Kitty Bardot was shot.”

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Get Fluffy - Book 2 in the Pampered Pets Mystery Series
“A mystery worth barking about.” – Linda O. Johnson, author of THE MORE THE TERRIER, Berkley Prime Crime Disgraced Texas beauty queen, Melinda (Mel) Langston, owns Laguna Beach’s Bow Wow Boutique. Mona Michaels, Mel’s most despised client, owns a star dog, Fluffy, who's worth millions.

When Mona is found whacked in the head with Fluffy’s Daytime Emmy, everyone wants Fluffy. And someone won't stop at murder to get the pooch. Secrets. Blackmail. Mel tackles the case like a dog with a bone. But can she dig up the truth before the killer buries her? I stumbled through the doorway into a mini-palace fit for a movie star. Fluffy’s palace. A white sheepskin rug in front of her personal fireplace, a king-sized sleigh bed and a dressing screen (why a dog needed a dressing screen was beyond me).

Fresh, filtered water dripped into her Wedgewood doggie bowl.The room looked like it had been ransacked.Mona was sprawled on the floor as if posing for a men’s magazine. It was almost picture-perfect, except for the blood matting her five-hundred-dollar haircut and the gold statue stuck in her head. I hesitantly moved closer. Fluffy nuzzled Mona’s cheek. When she didn’t move, Fluffy pawed her shoulder, still whining.

“I don’t think she’s getting up, girl,” I said softly.Mona was deader than a stuffed poodle. Sparkle Abbey is the writing team of Anita Carter and Mary Lee Woods.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Desperate Housedogs
When Caro Lamont, former psychologist turned pet therapist makes a house call to help Kevin Blackstone with his two misbehaving German Shepherd dogs, she expects frantic dogs, she expects a frantic dog owner, she even expects frantic neighbors. What she doesn’t expect is that two hours later the police will find Kevin dead, his dogs impounded; and that as the last person to see Kevin alive (well, except for the killer) she is suddenly a person of interest, at least according to Homicide Detective Judd Malone.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble

Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
eBook Author’s Corner and HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

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