Monday, August 24, 2015

Denise Moncrief - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Denise Moncrief. She is a Romantic Suspense author of the Colorado series, the Haunted Hearts Series and the Crisis Series.

Author Genre: Romance, Mystery & Thrillers

Website: Denise Moncrief - Suspense, She Writes
Author's Blog: Suspense, She Writes
Twitter: @dmoncrief0131
E-Mail: denisemoncriefbooks(at)gmail(dot)com
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Amazon Author Profile

Author Description:
Denise is a Southern girl. She has lived in Louisiana all her life, and yes, she has a drawl. She has a wonderful husband and two incredible children, who not only endure her writing moods, but also encourage her to indulge her writing passion. Besides writing romantic suspense, she enjoys traveling, reading, and scrapbooking.

Accounting is a skill she learned to earn a little money to support her writing habit. She wrote he first story when she was a teen, seventeen handwritten pages on school-ruled paper and an obvious rip-off of the last romance novel she read. She's been writing off and on ever since, and with more than a few full-length manuscripts already completed, she has no desire to slow down.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: SHAW’S LANDING. Rumor has it that you have another book on the horizon called CHELSEA LANE. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

Shaw’s Landing and Chelsea Lane are books three and four in the Haunted Hearts series. Shaw’s Landing released in July 2015, and I plan to release Chelsea Lane in late October or early November 2015. My original concept was a five-book series set in Arkansas, but I’ve enjoyed writing this series of books so much, and I’ve gotten such positive response from readers that I am continuing the series. The second set of five books will be set along the River Road between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and will release throughout 2016.

Here’s the book description for Chelsea Lane:

Searching for a reason to go on living…

All her life, Chelsea has suffered feelings of worthlessness from being abandoned—time after time—causing a huge pile of hurt to reside in the deeper recesses of her heart. When James Standridge kidnaps her, he gives her a new name and a new reason to exist. The will to survive keeps her going from one day to the next until his death changes everything.

Fearing freedom after living so long in the shadows…

After years of being a missing person, Chelsea is suddenly free to reclaim her lost identity, but she doesn’t know where to start rebuilding her interrupted life. Hovering around the fringes of her former existence seems easier than facing the dangers of becoming Cherish Duncan again.

Finding that hope happens when you least expect it…

When Chelsea begs him to help her, Jordan Clark can’t resist being Chelsea’s knight in shining armor. After all, he feels deeply the need to make up for the mistakes he’s made in the past. Living with Chelsea in the house she shared with James Standridge ignites more than the promise of romance. Jordan’s presence energizes restless spirits who would prefer their secrets remain buried for eternity.

Can love conquer fear and free the ghosts haunting the house on Chelsea Lane?

Here’s just a little snippet to tease readers from Chapter One:

Kristie glared at Chelsea through the opening above her. The woman’s long hair fell around her anxious face. For a moment, it seemed as if Chelsea was nothing more than a frightened little girl. She raised a finger to her teeth and began to chew on the nail.

A white light appeared behind Chelsea, glowing around her.

“Dig,” Chelsea shouted again and the light dissipated.

Kristie flinched and picked up the shovel. Before she drove the tool into the dirt at her feet, she fired her warning shots at Chelsea. “You could have helped us, but you didn’t. Don’t pretend any longer that you’re one of us. You’re not. You’re just like them.”

Chelsea’s face hardened, her jaw setting into a rigid line, her eyes narrowing into two slits. “I’ll never be like them.” She knelt and watched Kristie through the opening. “Start digging further back in the basement. There’s already someone buried where you’re standing.”

Kristie gasped and jumped back a couple of feet.

“Right there is good. You better get started.”

Kristie forced the shovel into the soil. She paused and stared up at Chelsea one more time before she went back to her chore. “Sharona is going to haunt you for the rest of your life. Until the day you die a miserable death. Yeah, even after you die, she’s going to haunt you. And if she doesn’t…I will.

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

For a while, I really concentrated on building my Twitter following. I followed anyone who had similar interests as well as asking contestants in giveaways and contests to follow me. It took time and a lot of patience to build up a following. What I’ve found is that most of my connections on Twitter are doing the same thing I am: promoting their work. There are so many automated tweets on my feed that it’s hard to find a real time human being to interact with on Twitter. It didn’t used to be that way. When I first opened my Twitter account, I made several Internet friends that are still my Internet friends today, and I met them by socially interacting on Twitter.

Despite recent changes in Facebook policies, I’ve discovered that Facebook is a much better platform for social interaction with authors and readers than Twitter. I built my following on Facebook much the same way as I did on Twitter with one exception: I promoted my Author page. Since the change to Facebook’s policy about posting to news feeds, I wouldn’t recommend paid promotions on Facebook to gain new followers any longer.

I’m not sure how much developing a following on either platform has driven sales. My primary focus on Facebook is less on book promotion and more on social interaction. I’ve found that readers love to interact with the real person behind the name on the cover of a book, and I love getting feedback from my readers.

You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. 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?

What a great question! I have asked my readers to search for pictures that would work for the cover of an upcoming release. That was so much fun because the people that responded really seemed to enjoy it and sent me some great cover ideas.

In the past, I’ve had varying amounts of input on book covers depending on my publisher. I’ve worked with three different publishers, and they all have differing processes for cover art submission, everything from asking for a lot of input to not asking for any input at all.

Self-publishing is a whole different process. I have a terrific cover artist, Keri Neal. She conceived the cover for Laurel Heights and has carried the theme forward with the rest of the books in the series. She brilliantly interpreted my vision for both the series and the branding. I don’t know what I would do without her!

Sometimes Keri finds the basic picture for the cover and sometimes I do. We really work well as a team. I am involved in the process, but usually all I have to do is give Keri a vague idea of what I want, mention the elements I’d like to see, and she creates stunning covers. So far, I think the cover for my upcoming release The Memory Catcher is my favorite.

I like the idea of Author bundles. You are a part of a collection called Dangerous Encounters, Thirteen Romantic Suspense Novels just released. What was the main objective of bundling your works with other romance authors? How did you put something like that together?

I have to confess this was my first experience with a bundled set, and I would not have known how to put the set together. Fellow author Chantel Rhondeau took the lead on Dangerous Encounters and did a magnificent job. It’s a process: Gathering a group of compatible authors in the same genre. Organizing the funding and submission of promotions. Agreeing on cover design and book order. Engaging a service to format the book. Then promoting it. It took all of us doing our part to make it work.

It’s really difficult for a new, or even an established, author to get his or her book in front of readers. The idea behind bundled sets is exposing readers to multiple authors. Maybe one of my readers will purchase the set because she’s familiar with my work and then she will discover she really enjoys one of the other authors in the set. Authors are generally supportive of one another, and this is a fun way to cross promote each other.

What writer support groups do you belong to? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

As a self-published writer, I need association with other independent authors. I belong to several groups on Facebook that were specifically organized for the cross promotion and support of authors in a specific genre. What I love about these groups is the freedom to discuss issues and concerns in the publishing world in a closed, non-public setting. These groups are where I learn about trends in marketing and publishing. They are also a safe place to vent when I’m frustrated and ask questions when I’m unsure of what to do. Writing can be a lonely profession, but with these associations, I feel connected with other writers.

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?

My Beta readers receive free copies of my books, and occasionally I will offer a signed paperback as a prize in a contest. If I’m involved in an author group event where all the authors are giving away eBooks, I will offer an eBook as a prize. I have used a read and review program through a web based advertising site to solicit reviews and offered free copies in exchange for an honest review. Other than that, I don’t give away free copies.

When I was first published, I gave away books as a way of introducing myself to readers, but it’s been my experience that giving away books for free rarely results in increased sales or posted reviews. I suspect that a lot of free books sit on Kindles or Nooks unopened. As a reader, if I purchase one book and download another book for free, I’m going to read the one I purchased first. Yes, I want my book in front of as many readers as possible, but being a published author is also a business with associated publishing costs, so at this point in time, giving away books for free doesn’t get my books in front of truly interested readers and costs me more than it is worth.

How do you start your book launch process for a new book? Give a brief outline of the steps you go through to get your book to market. What methods were the most successful?

Recently, I’ve been placing my books on pre-sale for 4 to 6 weeks before official release. During the pre-sale period, I do a cover reveal and begin soft promotion on Facebook and Twitter. My main marketing focus is a Facebook event, usually on the day of release, followed by a blog tour or book release blitz. Ahead of the official cover reveal, I give my newsletter readers a sneak peek of both the cover and the first chapter of the book.

What methods were most successful? This is a great question and one that authors think about a lot. We are always looking for new and better ways to get our work in front of new readers. What strategy works? I think it’s still a mystery. My Haunted Hearts series is selling very well, but I’m still not sure which piece of my promotion strategy launched it into best-seller status. I believe the series sells well because it is a series, and the first book got its initial boost from an ad with a major advertising site.

You have written a short story called Ghost in the Garden with a link to your newsletter subscription page. What is the objective for your newsletter? Do you build a list of readers? Do you see a carryover to the sales of your novels?

My goal in offering a newsletter is to first allow my readers to get acquainted with me as a person and not just as a name on the cover of a book. Along with giving updates on upcoming releases and tidbits about projects in process, I give sneak peeks that are exclusively for subscribers. I also try to put a little bit of myself into each newsletter, something relatable to the reader. For instance, in my last newsletter I talked a bit about my recent trip to Florida.

Does providing a newsletter generate sales? I’m not sure how many, if any. However, quite a few of my subscribers are devoted fans that have bought copies of my books as soon as they were available and have given me valuable feedback. Would those readers buy my books anyway if I didn’t offer a newsletter? I don’t know. I do know that I appreciate the fans that I have, and I want somehow to reach out to them to let them know I appreciate them. A newsletter seems the best way to do this.

What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?

Oh, wow! That is a complicated question and one that every author struggles with. I used to submit to every review blog I could find, but the process was a lot of work for very little benefit. So many authors are submitting for the same spots that it’s difficult to stand out from the pack. Usually, I rely on my reading audience, but an incredibly small percentage of purchases result in reviews, and what authors crave more than anything is feedback—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Recently, I discovered several ad sites, such as Choosey Bookworm, that have begun read and review programs where readers sign up for the program and authors submit their books for review. This seems a safe and easy way to connect with potential readers and reviewers for a minimal fee. Relying on a read and review coordinator to connect my book with reviewers frees up my time to do what I love most…write.

Author's Book List
The Memory Catcher
When someone touches Naomi Fuller, she catches visions of dark memories that fill the other person’s soul with regret, fear, or shame. Living with other people’s guilt leaves little room in her psyche for her own history. She recalls seemingly unconnected events, but did those horrible incidents happen yesterday, last week, or six years ago?

Naomi believes someone is messing with her mind, so she turns to Sidney Ashe for help untangling her distorted timeline, but the more she leans on him, the more she questions his motives. Can she distance herself from Ashe when her heart is hopelessly falling for him?

As Naomi struggles to understand how her emerging memories mesh with the guilty memories of everyone around her and things become clearer, she fears there is a killer in Clallam County who would do anything to stop her from remembering.

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble

Shaw's Landing - Haunted Hearts Series Book 4
Tired of keeping secrets that could get her killed…

As long as Courtney lived with Jared Crenshaw, she was able to keep his secrets and stay alive, but now that he’s dead, what she knows could get her killed. Hiding from the good guys can be just as dangerous as running from the bad guys.

Protected by a man who seems too good to be true…

Just when she thinks she has nowhere left to run, an investigator with the Arkansas State Police helps her find a new place to hide. Shaw Bennett seems to be everything Jared wasn’t, but can she trust him? He is, after all, just another cop.

Her life threatened by the father she never knew…

Shaw’s Landing seems a great place to disappear for a while until the night terrors begin. Are the visions she sees her imagination, the product of her increasing fear, or something more sinister? Has the curse of Haskins blood followed her?

Can the promise of love overcome the ghosts of the past at Shaw’s Landing?

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Barnes and Noble

Ashley Ridge - Haunted Hearts Series Book 3
Trapped in an affair with a blackmailer...

After Ashley Rivers is involved in a hit and run accident, she picks up the pieces of her life and tries to move on, but the tragedy ruins her friendship with the two people most important to her. To fill the void, she falls into a psychologically abusive relationship with a sociopath.

Estranged from the man she has always loved...
Giving up her place in the North Arkansas Paranormal Society isn’t easy for Ashley. She longs to go back to the old ghost hunting days with her partners, Josh and Gray, but the hurt Josh inflicted on her is hard to forget. Distancing herself from him is even harder.

Entangled in a dark web of murder and revenge...
When a mysterious death on Ashley Ridge stirs up old haunting rumors, Lead Crime Scene Investigator with the Hill County Sheriff’s Office, Josh McCord, pulls Ashley into the investigation. Investigating the haunting draws Josh and Ashley together, but Josh fears Ashley will crush his heart again.

Can two wounded hearts repair the damage done by the past and find love on Ashley Ridge?

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Barnes and Noble

Cross Examination
No longer able to tolerate her husband Scott’s abuse, Tamara Slay packs up her daughter, Gabby, and moves to Louisiana, hoping a new life and a new identity will give her a fresh start. An unexpected phone call from a Sheriff’s deputy in Florida shatters her sense of security. Scott hides a much darker secret than abusing his wife. Above all else, she must protect Gabby from Scott.

Lt. Martin Beck of the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Department has been investigating the death of Brandy Fuller for years. Sidetracked for a while by his wife’s murder, Beck finally reopens the cold Fuller case and discovers a thin lead. The new evidence takes him to Louisiana to meet the estranged wife of his primary suspect. Together, Beck and Tamara conclude that Scott not only murdered Brandy Fuller, but seven other women on the Florida Gulf coast.

As Beck dives deeper into the investigation, he draws closer to Tamara. Passions ignite as the one woman who wants Scott dead the most allies with the one man who wants Scott dead the most. Can Beck protect Tamara and Gabby from Scott and stop a serial killer from killing again?

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Barnes and Noble

Victoria House - Haunted Hearts Series Book 2
Haunted by a dark mystery in her family’s past... When Tori Downing takes possession of the abandoned Hamilton estate on the longest peninsula on Lake Jefferson, Arkansas, she avoids revealing her connection to the ill-fated Hamilton family. Is the glowing image that shimmers in the second floor window of Victoria House the ghost of Victoria Hamilton? Can Tori handle moving into a house with paranormal activity...again?

Tormented by a scandal she thought she’d left behind...
Until she leaves her career at the Arkansas State Crime Lab behind, she never even considers moving to Lake Jefferson, but the fallout from scandal gives Tori a very good reason to escape to Hill County and refurbish and restore the old family mansion. She settles into her new life...until the old accusations from her past start resurfacing.

Attracted to a man haunted by secrets of his own...
Drawn together to solve the murder of Jared Crenshaw, Tori and Lt. Grayson of the Hill County Sheriff’s Department dive into a tangled web of jealousy, deceit, and revenge as they attempt to solve both crimes, Jared’s death and the mysterious death years ago of Victoria Hamilton. Grayson’s past keeps interfering with his present, causing turmoil in both his professional life and his personal life. Can their love survive revealing the truth—from both the past and present—surrounding the tragedies at Victoria House?

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Barnes and Noble

Twin Rivers - Colorado series Book 3
Country music star, Summer Jackson, left fame and fortune behind in Las Vegas one fateful night--the night an anonymous stranger checked her into rehab--the same night her partner Houston Pierce was murdered. Living out of the spotlight as Johanna Caldwell should be easier, except her fractured heart and her infamous past won't allow her any rest.

When Johanna arrives at Twin Rivers looking for a job, Austin Pierce remembers her as Summer Jackson, the woman he's always blamed for causing his brother's death. Pierce hires the woman who calls herself Johanna, but her presence rekindles his feelings of resentment toward the woman he knew as Summer Jackson.

Will a new threat expose their secrets and endanger their future before they have a chance to forgive each other and build a new life together?

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Laurel Heights - Haunted Hearts Series Book 1
Book One of an exciting new series filled with paranormal activity, delicious romance, and plenty of suspense.

A dark cloud of deceit hovers over her family tree...

Left an estate by an aunt she’s never met, Laurel Standridge takes possession of Laurel Heights, hoping it will be the safe haven she needs to recuperate from her ill-fated relationship with Rand Peterson. Secrets long buried rise to the surface when her cousin James is murdered and dumped on the highway just outside the gates of Laurel Heights.

Her past trails her to the mountains of Arkansas...

Caught in an obligation Chase Peterson feels he cannot ignore, he agrees to help his brother Rand take back the property he believes Laurel stole from him, but Chase remains at Laurel Heights after he discovers Laurel took nothing of Rand’s away with her except nightmares, fading bruises, and a broken rib.

Unexplained disturbances shatter her hopes of a normal life...

Are the strange bumps, thumps, and bangs reverberating through the night caused by the murderer of Laurel’s cousin James, someone Rand has sent to exact his revenge, or a disturbed soul existing in another dimension, trying to communicate with the living? Drawn together by the intrigue surrounding Laurel Heights, Chase and Laurel become hopelessly entangled in a relationship that goes deeper than mere physical attraction. Can their love survive the haunting of Laurel Heights?

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Crisis of Serenity - Crisis Series Book 2
Tess Copeland lives a quiet life in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Thanks to the government’s witness protection program, she enjoys the freedom of never having to glance over her shoulder to see if someone is following her. Life has become safe, serene...and boring. Her heart longs for something more than just existing...until a ghost from her past shatters her serenity.

Once upon a time, Tess was caught between the FBI and the men the feds were trying to take down. Jake Coleman is the U.S. Marshal who extracted her from the jam she was in with the FBI, a man she could have fallen for...hard...if she had let herself. It’s been a year since she last saw Jake, and in all the months that have passed, he’s never tried to find her. The longer he keeps his distance, the more she wonders why his absence hurts so much.

When a stranger comes to town searching for her, all of Tess’ old fears are resurrected. Asking Jake for help with her current crisis might lure him into a dangerous trap involving murder, kidnapping, and revenge. When Jake and Tess come face-to-face with the past, they will have to use all their wits to survive.

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Barnes and Noble

Purgatory - Colorado series
Five years ago, a tragic accident robbed Chris Smith of a normal life. Left with only a jagged scar, a set of wedding rings, and bits of memory—smells, sounds, and fleeting feelings—she copes with the loss of her identity. Amnesia has made her life a living purgatory…until she meets Steve West.

Steve’s construction company is remodeling the ski lifts in Purgatory, Colorado. However looking at Chris is seeing the face of his deceased wife. Now the truths he’d been forced to believe have him searching for answers.

Murder, deception and missing ransom money. Can Steve protect Chris…and prove she’s the wife he never believed dead before the killer tries again?

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The End
Sometimes the end is only the beginning.

Almost a year after her husband dies, Ellie Marston opens the file for Tab’s last manuscript, a thriller so compelling it reads like a true story. His manuscript needs an ending, so Ellie writes the obvious conclusion. The same morning she types The End, her career as an assistant district attorney falls apart. Accused of throwing the high profile Patterson case, she resigns in disgrace. The only friend she has left in the criminal justice system is Det. Paul Santiago, a man she has worked closely with on numerous cases. While she was married to Tab, she squashed her growing feelings for Paul, determined to make her deteriorating marriage work, but circumstances after Tab’s death bring Ellie and Paul together.

Ellie’s paranoia increases as she becomes convinced Patterson is harassing her, certain that someone is searching her belongings for any hidden evidence she might have that would reopen his case. It becomes clear there was a conspiracy to release Patterson. She seeks help from her former co-worker, Presley Sinclair, but soon discovers Presley is deeply involved in the subsequent cover up. Worse yet, Tab’s affair with Presley drew him into the twisted conspiracy as well.

Together Paul and Ellie attempt to uncover the conspiracy in the District Attorney’s office, the set up that forced her to resign. The key to the mystery is hidden in the pages of Tab’s manuscript. Once Paul and Ellie come to the correct conclusion—Tab’s manuscript is a true story and Ellie’s added ending is the only logical outcome—Ellie attempts to reveal Patterson’s hidden partner in the District Attorney’s office, but the co-conspirator she uncovers is not whom she suspects. Danger swirls around her as she steps further and further into the conspirator’s trap.

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Barnes and Noble

An Impostor in Town - Colorado series Book 1
Peyton Chandler has done everything to protect her son Jake from the evil men who would destroy her by destroying him. For years, she has allowed another woman to raise her son, kept herself apart from him, and hidden behind her dead sister's identity, never allowing herself to get close to anyone--not even Sheriff Brian Parker, the one man whose love and respect she craves. When Brian receives a note claiming there's an impostor in town, he doesn't know where to start his investigation. Peyton fears she will lose the man she loves if he discovers she's not the woman she claims to be.

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Deceptions of the Heart
Surviving as Jennifer Cristobal isn't easy for Rhonda Prentiss. Three years ago, a sudden, fatal trauma stripped Rhonda of her middle-class, stay-at-home-mom existence. A brand new shock prompts Rhonda's essence to invade Jennifer's soul, suppressing the other woman's memories and replacing them with her own. When Jennifer's heart transplant surgeon, Dr. Crane, can't--or won't--help her understand her unusual body-swapping dilemma, she turns to the only man she can trust. But can she fully trust Jennifer's husband, Anson? Rhonda's memory proves faulty--and sugarcoated. Multiple threats from her past shake her fragile hold on mental stability. If one of her enemies succeeds, he will kill Rhonda's soul...or Jennifer's body...or both.

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Crisis of Identity
Tess Copeland is an operator. Her motto? Necessity is the mother of a good a con. When Hurricane Irving slams into the Texas Gulf coast, Tess seizes the opportunity to escape her past by hijacking a dead woman’s life, but Shelby Coleman’s was the wrong identity to steal. And the cop that trails her? He’s a U.S. Marshall with the Fugitive Task Force for the northern district of Illinois. Tess left Chicago because the criminal justice system gave her no choice. Now she’s on the run from ghosts of misdeeds past—both hers and Shelby’s.

Enter Trevor Smith, a pseudo-cowboy from Houston, Texas, with good looks, a quick tongue, and testosterone poisoning. Will Tess succumb to his questionable charms and become his damsel in distress? She doesn’t have to faint at his feet—she’s capable of handling just about anything. But will she choose to let Trevor be the man? When Tess kidnaps her niece, her life changes. She must make some hard decisions. Does she trust the lawman that promises her redemption, or does she trust the cowboy that promises her nothing but himself?

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Barnes and Noble

Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
HBS Author's Spotlight
eBook Author’s Corner
Top Shelf Author Advice
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Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for hosting me today. I enjoyed the Q & A very much. Thank you for everything you do for mystery/suspense/thriller writers, James!