Handbags, Books...Whatever

Handbags, Books...Whatever (http://www.vickibatman.blogspot.com) is the website of Vicki Batman, sassy writer of sexy and funny fiction. Handbag lover. Avid Jazzerciser. Mah jong player. Yoga practioner. Movie fan. Book devourer. Choc-aholic. Best Mom ever. And adores Handsome.

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Author Interview with Sue Fineman, The Mitchell Money

Welcome Sue! It's wonderful to have you talk about your new book, The Mitchell Money. Let's start with some questions.

Who is your favorite author(s) and why? I like Susan Wiggs, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Debbie Macomber, and anyone who writes about multi-dimensional characters. But I'll read nearly anything except fantasy and erotica. Although I don't write historical, I can get lost in a good historical romance.

Tell us about your new book. The Mitchell Money is the first book I wrote, and rewrote, and rewrote. Rachel has just discovered her husband had hidden most of their money before he died. She's living in an old motor home behind the building site for her half-built home, and if she doesn't find the missing money within the next two or three months, she stands to lose everything, including the land.

Gary Martinson is the surly ex-cop who owns the ranch next door. He had a little fender-bender with Rachel and she doesn't want anything to do with him, but he's the only person in the area who can help her find the missing money. Gary hires Rachel to cook at the ranch and offers to trade her cooking for his investigative services. She reluctantly agrees, but she doesn't expect him to dig up so much information on the man she'd been married to for so many years, the man she thought she knew so well. And then a young teenage boy shows up on her doorstep. He's skinny and dirty . . . and he looks just like her dead husband.

Here's an excerpt from The Mitchell Money:

The woman stared at his cell phone and her eyes narrowed. Her lips pressed tightly together, and she looked like she’d erupt any second.

“What’s wrong now?” he said in frustration.

“Were you talking on that thing when you ran into me?”

Oh, no! She wasn’t blaming this on him. She’d backed out right in front of him. “Lady, if you’re implying I can’t do two things at once, you’re wrong.”

She lifted her chin. “If you’d been watching where you were going, you would have seen me and stopped in time.”

He snapped back a response. “If you’d bothered to look first, you wouldn’t have backed out in front of me.”

After a withering glare, she said, “I’ll wait for my car.” She opened the door, slid off the seat and walked to the bench nearest Joe’s office, muttering something to herself. He couldn’t hear her words, but it was probably just as well. She was obviously irritated, but so was he. The woman backed right into him.

Bert arrived and, ignoring the scowling woman on the bench, Gary pointed to her car. “See if you can pop the fender out so she can drive it.”

Bert reached under the fender with a rubber hammer and, in three quick whacks, popped the dent out. A crease remained, but the metal no longer touched the tire.

“You want this fender replaced?” Bert asked the woman.

She peered at the fender. “Can I drive it like that?”

“I don’t see why not.”

“Then that’ll have to do. How much do I owe you?”

“I’ll take care of it,” said Gary.

She scanned the front of his old truck. “Are you sure your truck is all right?”

“It’s fine.” Best truck he’d ever had.

Her eyebrows knit as she peered closer at his pickup. “You mean it always looks like this?”

Gary looked to see what she was talking about. It was scratched and dented and the bumper hung a little askew. The hot Arizona sun had faded the light blue paint until it looked white in spots, but he didn’t see anything wrong. “Like what?”

“Like . . . like this isn’t the first time you’ve hit something.”

A burst of laughter erupted from Bert’s mouth. “She’s got you pegged, Gary.”

“Mind your own business, Bert.” Gary turned to the woman. “Are you making fun of my truck?”

“I didn’t mean to insult you or your . . . uh . . . lovely truck. Thanks for taking care of this. I’ll try to stay out of your way from now on.”

He tried to explain his rude behavior. “Look, I’m not having a very good day today, and—”

“Well, neither am I,” she snapped. Without another word, she got in her car, slammed the door, and drove away, leaving him standing in the street beside his truck, feeling like an idiot. Frustrating woman. She’d be nice looking if she’d get rid of that angry scowl on her face. With any luck, he’d never see her again.

What is the appeal of writing your genre? I love writing books with a little mystery or suspense in them. No matter that I begin a book expecting it to be something else, the suspense and mystery always sneak in. And I love writing about older characters, like the ones in The Mitchell Money. There's such richness in life experiences, richness you don't necessarily find in younger characters. Gary and Rachel are old enough to have grown children, but they're not too old to enjoy each other in every way.

What kind of writings turns you off? What stops you from writing? I can't wrap my practical mind around fantasy and way out there paranormal. I have a whole lot of respect for people who can write it, but it's not for me. The same with erotica. Although my books contain love scenes, I like a love story, not a story focused on sex.

If I'm not writing, I'm usually thinking about the characters in my next book. I've written over 30 books and thrown some away because they were so bad. I don't plot or do character sketches, but if I can't find the right names for the characters, the story just won't come together.

How have you shocked your readers? Some of my endings might surprise readers, but I don't think I've written anything that shocking.

How do you get your ideas? What is your writing day like? Ideas come from the news, like when the Tacoma Police Chief shot his wife and then killed himself. My grandparents used to live in a big old house in Columbus, Ohio. They called The House on Livingston Avenue, so I used that. Only in my book, there's a hidden staircase and a body buried in the basement.

I don't spend as much time on the computer as I once did, so I write about four or five hours a day, with plenty of interruptions from my husband and two little doggies. And then there's email, contests to judge, promotions for the book that's coming out . . . there's never enough time in the day to get it all done.

Can you share three writing tips?

1. Characters are primary. No matter where you set your book or how the plot plays out, if you don't have strong, likeable characters, what's the point?

2. Find a good critique group or partner, but don't let anyone change your voice. If you don't get good advice or if they're too intrusive, don't be shy about moving on. You don't want your book to sound like THEY wrote it.

3. Figure out your process, what works for you, and stick with it. If you plot, great, but if you don't, that's fine, too, as long as the process works for you.

Thanks, Sue, for blogging today. Good luck with your new  book.


Kathy Ivan said...

Good morning Vicki and Sue!

This book definitely sounds right up my alley. I love deep and rich characters who can grab you from the beginning and make you go on that emotional rollercoaster ride with them.

And I'm always a sucker for that mystery/suspense element thrown in. I'll definitely be checking this book out.

Great interview and blog, ladies!

Patricia said...

Thank you, Sue, for commenting that we all don't have to make extensive outlines and character sketches to be able to write a novel. I am a pantser and it works for me. Good interview!

Elizabeth Essex said...

Loved the excerpt, Sue. And I completely agree with your emphasis on character development. Where did you get the inspiration for this rancher hero?

Pamela Stone said...

Great excerpt. Sounds like a wonderful story. I'm a pantser, attempting to be more of a plotter. I get to know my characters and they tend to drive the story more than an outline.

Ann Yost said...

Hi Sue - love the title of your book. I like that mystery element, too and my grandparents lived in a big house in Ann Arbor!
Congratulations on your book. It sounds great.

Linda said...

Sounds like a great book. Where can I get it when it comes out?


chris k said...

LOL- kathy you took the words right out of my mouth!! - Sounds right up my alley-

I love a good womans story and a little mystery thrown in is always a plus!

Guess I'm stopping on at the book store this afternoon!

Do you have plans Sue for any more books?

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Intriquing story and characters! Love those characters that pull you right into a story.
I'm a plotter but I have written a story before with just a sketchy outline. It turned out well too. But usually I like a good synopsis beside me. I'm in awe of pantsers.
Wishing you many happy readers! :-)


Author said...

Hi, Kathy. I appreciate your comments. I loved Sue's excerpt!

Thank you, Patricia, for stopping by. I agree with Sue--I don't make extensive outlines either.

Author said...

Helloooo, Ms. Essex. You're a peach!

Hi, Princess Plotter Pam. Yep, pantser here, too.

Thank you, Ann, for commenting. Small world!

Author said...

Sue, can you tell us where to buy your book?

Author said...

Jeanmarie--I'm in awe of plotters. lol. That kind of work is cool.

What's in the future for Sue?

Aileen said...

Sue, I'm really looking forward to reading this!

Liz Lipperman said...

Great interview, Vicki and Sue. As a mystery writer who always throws in a little romance, this story sounds like exactly what I love to read.

As for characters names, I recently had a friend tell me, she has a board with the letters of the alphabet on it. When she uses a name she enters it in both the first and last name letter. That way, she never reuses a name. Since I am writing series, that is doubly important.

I'm chuckling because that would be really hared for you with 30 books!!

See you tomorrow, Vicki.

Melissa said...

Great interview! I'm still working to figure out what process works for me. LOL The book sounds very interesting. I'll be picking this one up! :)

Karen Cote said...

Great way to get to know the author behind the book. I too love Susan Elizabeth Phillips and I can see bits of her in this excerpt.

Thank you for sharing.

Vicki Batman said...

Thank you, Liz. I will see you soon!

Thanks, Melissa and Karen. Isn't SEP great? I had the pleasure of being her moderator at RWA last year. Perfectly delightful!

Hi, Aileen!

Gretchen Craig said...

Hey, Vicki. Hey, Sue! I loved reading your excerpt. The teenage boy showing up in an intriguing development. I'll be looking for it.

Catherine Bybee said...

Hi Sue and Vicki -

Great interview and best of luck on your release!

Cara Marsi said...

As someone who is one of Sue's online critique partners, I can tell you what a wonderful writer she is. I love the way she weaves suspense into the plot. And her characters are always fully fleshed out.

Sue, looks like you and I have the same interruptions during the day, only I have a kitty and not doggies interrupting me. But hubby interrupts a lot.

Good interview.

Sue Palmer Fineman said...

Thanks everyone for your comments and compliments. I'm sitting here blushing.

The Mitchell Money will be available April 29th, both in ebook formats and in print, from The Wild Rose Press. It should be available on Amazon, too.

I love the characters in The Mitchell Money. It was the first book I wrote, and although I rewrote it several times, the characters, location, and plot have never changed. Gary may not be the picture of the perfect hero, but he's the kind of man you can take into your heart and love forever.

Robin Haseltine said...

A really nice interview, Vicki. And Sue, I am so excited for your book to come out. I love all your work -- great plots, multidimensional characters, and love the humor. Can't wait to see the sparks fly between these two. Best of luck!

Misty said...

Very fun excerpt, Sue! Men and their trucks, right?

Good luck and best wishes for many sales.

Vicki said...

Thanks to all of our Elements friends and all friends who posted today. You are so nice.

And thank you, Sue, for providing an interesting interview.

Diane Kelly said...

Great tips! Thanks for the info!

Ilona Fridl said...

Great excerpt, Sue!

Ilove your tips at the end. I try to stick to that myself when I write. Wishing lots of sales!

Sue Palmer Fineman said...

Vicki, thanks so much for having me on your blog, and thanks to everyone for their comments.

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