Monday, January 31, 2011

How "A Case of Infatuation" found a publisher.
Interactive books with reading and video. Check it out.

Mitch Malone Mondays - Alina Adams

Today my guest on the hot seat is Alina Adams, author of the figure-skating cozy mystery series of books including “Murder on Ice,” “On Thin Ice,” “Axel of Evil,” “Death Drop,” and “Skate Crime.” She also has a background working on web publications for Proctor and Gamble for a couple of soap operas. Let's see what kind of inside scoop I can get her to reveal.

Alina, my sources tell me you've got a whole different kind of book. A book with movies in it. Can you explain how that works?

This is an e-book that you can experience via the Kindle app on your iPad, your iPhone and/or your desktop computer. You download it just like an e-book, and you read it just like an e-book, but, at certain points, you can also watch a video that pertains directly to the story. It's really a one-of-a-kind thing. No one has ever done anything precisely like it before. Because my background is both novels and television (I've worked for E!, ESPN, TNT, ABC Daytime and ABC Sports - the latter as a figure skating researcher, just like my series' protagonist), I have naturally been fascinated with the potential of enhanced e-books ever since the idea became technically feasible. However, most of what is currently available is either non-fiction or, if the enhanced book is fiction, it features extras like author interviews, music, special effects, or historical context (one exception is a Jude Deveraux novella: I was itching to make the added videos an integrated, vital part of the story itself, like I had with my on-line work. “Skate Crime: Multimedia” fits that bill. It’s not exactly a book and it’s not exactly a movie. I see it more as Storytelling for the 21st Century.

Storytelling for the 21st Century huh? Interesting. How did you come up with this idea?

I got the idea after spending ten years as Creative Content Producer at TeleNext Media/Procter & Gamble Productions. While at P&G, I developed two on-line properties for them, and Mindy’s Twitter, which told serialized, romantic stories in a combination of words and video clips. Basically, a part of the story was written as narrative, but, along the way, there would be clips from the shows to help illustrate a point, draw a parallel, or serve as a flashback. I thought that if it worked for on-line soap-operas, it would be even better for figure skating, which is such a visually-oriented sport. You can describe a skating routine all you like, but nothing compares to actually seeing it.

So, if I understand this right, you took the work you did for the website and applied it to your book? Is it more than just dropping in video clips from the The Ice Theatre of New York?

Selecting the clips was a major process! "Skate Crime: Multimedia" deals with the murder of a skating coach the night before his televised tribute, and the suspects who've come to praise (or is that bury?) him. One of them is his former pairs partner, an African-American woman whom he was romantically involved with when they were younger. Thanks to Ice Theatre of New York performers, I was able to "cast" the parts, so readers can see not only their performances, but the chemistry between them, as well.

All in all, I must admit that the road to creating an e-book hybrid proved rather nerve-racking. I had no blueprint or precedent to follow. It’s not like I could say, well, this author did it this way and this publisher did it that way, let me see what I can learn from everyone and incorporate it into my own project. I had to start from, more or less, scratch. It wasn’t so much a matter of learning a new storytelling language as inventing one. And the only way to test out if it’s understandable is to see what an audience thinks!”

That ice is awfully cold. Do all your books deal with ice skating?

In addition to the five Figure Skating Mysteries, I've also written four romance novels, two non-fiction titles, and three tie-ins to "As The World Turns," (Oakdale Confidential and The Man From Oakdale) and co-written one for Guiding Light (Jonathan's Story).

Can you skate?

No. I don't like to fall down. However, my younger brother was the 1996 US Open National Novice and 1997 Collegiate Junior Ice Dance Champion. I spent many years driving him to the rink and waiting around for him to finish practicing so I could drive him back. You pick up stuff...

Thank you Alina for sharing your ice skating and video experience with us and your new book. To check it out for yourself, check out Alina’s website:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Boxcar Children opened my world to writing about crime and killing people. See more at

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Author Sunny Frazier spills all in Mitch Malone exclusive interview.

Mitch Malone Mondays with Sunny Frazier

Mitch Malone here. This is my second interview of authors although I have interviewed plenty of people as a crime-beat reporter for the Grand River Journal. Today's guest is Sunny Frazier, author of the Christy Bristol Astrology Mystery series. Her books include Fools Rush In and Where Angels Fear. She has a new one coming out this year. Enough background. Let’s get to the questions.

Hey Sunny, nice to be able to talk to you in person. You and I would be great friends if we were in the same city. I can see you giving me some great tips on stories from your work in the Sheriff's Department. Were you friendly with any reporters?

Well, Mitch, I was a reporter myself in the late '70's. Actually, I've always felt like a reporter from the time I was the editor of the Lemoore High newspaper, The Tiger's Voice. It ran in the town paper, they gave us two pages. I had my own column, “On the Sunny Side.” Even had psychedelic art to go with it. Those were the hippie '60's. I also did stories for military publications while in the Navy. An article on the Navy's views of abortion caught the attention of DC. I got out after 4 years and got a degree in journalism at Fresno State University.

You're probably wondering how I went from a “plush” job as the only female photojournalist in the San Joaquin Valley to working for the sheriff's department. Easy answer: wage discrimination. I was the “token” female on a small newspaper and told by the publisher that I should have a husband supporting me. It seems Medieval now and this was 1979! I sued but the paper folded before it went to court. Once in law enforcement I found myself on the other side of the counter—literally. Reporters thought they had an “in” and would get the scoop. Not so! Law enforcement officers in Fresno are guarded with the press—as you well know. I was now in a position of being a guard dog. Nothing leaked on my watch!

You write about your experiences similar to the books where I'm the main character. This Christy Bristol character sounds a bit off. Tell me about her.

Christy has her problems, of course. She's a bit naive despite the fact that she works in a support staff position in the Central County Sheriffs Department. Part of the reason for her cluelessness is that she's like an ostrich with her head buried in the sand. She WANTS to be a wallflower and blend into the background. Why? Because she has a “secret.” See, Christy comes from a family of clairvoyants. Her sister, Celeste, is a nun who has visions. The sisters communicate from Illinois to California via ESP. Much cheaper than the US Postal Service, more reliable than e-mail. Her grandmother is also “gifted,” but she uses it for her gambling habit. Christy just wants to be normal. On the other hand, she's been drawn to astrology and it has been a doorway to her own paranormal tendencies. Not always in a good way. Although she'd like to block it out, the Zodiac lures her back. She does charts to supplement her meager wages at the sheriffs department but inevitably casting a horoscope casts her in the path of danger.

Astrology? Really? I can't believe real police officers would credit any cases to the stars lining up in the right order? How do you make that work?

I know, it sounds crazy. The first book, FOOLS RUSH IN, was based on a real case of a methamphetamine dealer, the first case I worked start to finish as a narcotics secretary. We discovered via phone records that this guy was calling the 1-900-Astrology hotline. The detective, known as “Wolfe” in the book, approached me to do a horoscope on the man. We knew he'd ordered several murders and the detective was hoping to hink him up by planting a fake horoscope in his mailbox. The idea was that he would lead us to one of the bodies. I declined. I mean, come on, how would that hold up on the stand? “Yes, your honor, I did his horoscope to make him paranoid and entrap him.” I could see being laughed right out of the courtroom and into the unemployment line. But, there was all that info at my fingertips. All the birthdates of the criminals in the gang just itching to be charted. Yeah, I did it. Not for the detective (who went on to plant tarot cards in the mailbox) but for my own purposes. I wasn't sure people wanted to read about astrology and its practical use, but the reaction of my writing group proved me wrong. There seems to be a big interest in astrology out there and I try to make it accessible to readers. And, before you scoff, let me tell you that many police officers have asked me to do their horoscope. Their #1 question? “Will I get shot on the job.”

Is it true that you yourself do people's horoscopes? What sign do you think I am and why?

Yes, Mitch, I do horoscopes. I've been doing them for 40 years. I do the future, which most astrologers won't touch. I'm about 95% accurate. But it wears me out, especially a bad prediction. Like I say in the book, a part of my soul leaves with every horoscope. You are, like everyone else, under the impression that you are one sign. What you don't understand is that you have a universe inside of you. While your Sun sign might be Cancer (my guess), you could also have more influence from a secondary force, like Pisces. Pluto (still a planet in astrology-speak) defines your generation. The Moon controls your moods, Mercury is your psychological make up. And Venus and Mars are your sex signs. Listen, buddy, I know all about your lack in THAT department! Even Christy is luckier in love than you are! Step up to the plate, man!

Hmmm. Well...What is next for Christy? I bet she is not going to listen to the stars and stay home. Am I right?

Well, Christy has this sidekick, Lennie. Lennie is what we in the Central Valley refer to as “a good ol' girl.” She loves sex and is willing to take one for the team. I don't think the women would normally be friends but they've worked together and were once roommates. Christy is pretty judgmental about her friend. I find that annoying. In A SNITCH IN TIME, the friendship of the women is at risk. Lennie has hooked up with a newspaper reporter who needs her new-found wealth to take over a newspaper up in the foothills. He's pretty much a jerk (sorry for the slam Mitch, but I'm getting some revenge for my past) and treats Lennie like she's an airhead. Christy goes up for a visit and wouldn't you know, several murders happen. The homicide team needs someone to type reports so she's conscripted. She's on the outs with Lennie but the two have to mend fences and solve several murders so Christy can return home to her cat Shamus. To keep the astrology fresh, I'm playing with the concept of using horoscopes as a profiling tool. Is this possible or even logical? I don't know. I'm sure there are astrologers out there who will knock me for trying. But, you know, it's fiction. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Thank you Sunny for agreeing to the interview. To find out more about Sunny or her astrology series, check out her website at
If you would like to be interviewed for a Mitch Malone Monday, please contact W.S. Gager at

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mitch Malone Mondays With Joselyn Vaughn

Mitch Malone here. This is my first attempt at interviewing authors although I have interviewed plenty of people as a crime-beat reporter for the Grand River Journal. Today's guest is romance writer Joselyn Vaughn whose latest book, Courting Sparks, was just released.

So, Joselyn, if I may call you that, did you decide to write romance? Wouldn’t a mystery be a better format?

I decided to write romance when I heard you wanted to sink your teeth into a mystery writer. Wouldn’t a doughnut be better? LOL. Actually I decided to write romance because I didn’t want to visit the darker side of life. I wanted to focus on the things that people celebrate and what makes them happy. What could be happier than finding true love? Mysteries have so many dead bodies.

Tell me about what’s going on? There is an arsonist on the loose, right? This sounds like a great story for me to cover.

Really Mitch, you should have been there. In fact, I kinda hoped you’d show up, so Ellen would leave Noah alone. She’s the police detective and has a thing for Noah. She may have transferred her affection to you. Well , depending on what you look like with your shirt off, that is. Anyway, if you were there, you’d have ferreted out who was behind the fires before Daphne’s kitchen burned down. It all started with a woods fire at a local teen hangout. Noah’s a volunteer fireman and spent most of a Saturday trying to put the fire out. They discover some pictures and beer bottles and think they belonged to the arsonist. The pictures are of Daphne.

This Noah guy sounds like a great source. Where can I find him?

He’s the athletic director at the Carterville Public Schools and they could really use some good sports writing in the local newspaper. Could you arrange that? I hear you do workshops. The pathetic football team gets enough coverage. Let’s hear about the cross country and track teams. They’ve made the state finals for three years in a row. When Noah isn’t at school, he’s working at the fire department or hanging out with Daphne.

Now, Daphne sounds like someone that needs a little backbone. Can’t she just say no to these friends who want her to be a bridesmaid? I mean she’s paying for the dress, let her pick out something suitable.

That’s not very nice, Mitch. Daphne could kick your butt and outrun you to boot. She’s had a rough couple years and is just getting back on her feet. It’s like your relationship with Dennis and the Captain. You have to give something to get something sometimes. Dennis has kept your rear-end out of jail on more than one occasion I’m sure, so you help him out by keeping him in the loop on your investigation. Daphne does little things for her friends like wearing an ugly dress or six, knowing that her friends will be there for her when she needs them. Peggy definitely steps up-or steps on the gas-when Daphne needs her.

Well, err, thanks for coming Joselyn. I will certainly keep my distance from Daphne. She sounds like a....lovely person. If you are into romance, check out Courting Sparks at Joselyn's website:

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Just committed to writing for 45 minutes before getting sucked to the internet or email. I've been surfing way too much. You can join.

Monday, January 10, 2011

My mystery sleuth is taking over my blogs on Mondays to interview authors and get the skinny on Mitch Malone Mondays. Check it out!

Announcing Mitch Malone Mondays

Mitch Malone here. I’m a crime-beat reporter for the Grand River Journal but W.S. has been whining a lot about not having enough time to write the next of my adventures called A Case of Hometown Blues due out this summer. So, being the gracious guy I am, I’ll be taking over the blogging duties on Mondays interviewing authors about their books. The first one will be next week and feature Joselyn Vaughn and her book Courting Sparks.

W.S. gave me a hard assignment on this one. Ms. Vaughn writes romance. Yuck! However, I’m a consummate professional so it will be a great interview and you will learn all about the book which W.S. assures me is terrific. How she had time to read it when she should be working on my next adventure, I’ll never know. I think she needs some time management or just maybe a single vision focus to her job like mine. I won’t stop at anything to get the story. Speaking of stories, my latest adventure—A Case of Accidental Intersection—just came out in Kindle. Now there is no reason not to read it. Get it in e-book form. For those with the Nook and other readers, it is available in those formats too. Personally, I would prefer you go to your favorite bookstore and pick up a copy. Those bookstores are a dying breed, kind of like crime-beat reporters. So, next Monday. Be here to read about romance from Mitch Malone. (This is going to be one tough assignment. Don’t miss it.)

Oh, yeah. If you have a book and would like to be interviewed by yours truly, just drop W.S. a note at A good mystery author is something I could sink my teeth into. I’m letting W.S. do the scheduling. I’m the star reporter, not the secretary, but if it all the books are romance, W.S. and I will have words.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Finally, the kinks are out. My second book, A Case of Accidental Intersection is available on Kindle. WooHoo.

Friday, January 7, 2011

See how Billy Joel's song, Piano Man, running through my head leads me to write when all I want to do is drink...

Music sparking the imagination?

"It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday
The regular crowd shuffles in
There’s an old man sitting next to me
Makin’ love to his tonic and gin.
He says, son, can you play me a memory?
I’m not really sure how it goes.
But it’s sad and it’s sweet and I knew it complete
When I wore a younger man’s clothes"

from Piano Man by Billy Joel

I’m sitting here trying to write and the only inspiration I feel are the strains of "Piano Man", a Billy Joel song, running through my head over and over and over.

“It’s nine o’clock…” It’s nine here too and I think is it time for me to quit even though I’ve only just started writing at my computer. It has been a full day and I’ve only just now put all my other responsibilities to bed, both literally and figuratively.

“The regular crowd shuffles in…” Seems it gets later and later when I can sit down and write and I don’t feel like I’m really at my best.

“Makin’ love to his tonic and gin.” What I really want is to drink myself silly and forget for a while that I have a book to finish, a class to prepare for and the constant drone of marketing needs.

“But it’s sad and it’s sweet and I knew it complete When I wore a younger man’s clothes…” This song mimics my mood exactly and while I want to get lost in its beauty, my practical side won’t allow it. I try to shift my thoughts to my own prose but the song keeps drifting through like it’s caught in a skip. If I can’t get rid of the words, I try to figure out why. I discover that these words are great little bits of description that convey great emotion. I’m a minimalist when it comes to description and setting in my books. I’ve always hated reading long passages of description and typically skipped them when I read. But as I look at these words I think what great writing. What a picture they paint. My mind finally shifts to my own work and I jump in. Ready to try my hand at the prose. The music and words swirling in my head have sparked my creativity. Maybe someday someone will pick little pieces out of my work and say the same thing. Now I have to get to work or there will be nothing to comment on.

Thanks for the memory, Piano Man.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The 1-2 inches of snow turned into 5-6 and looks pretty by treacherous! Why is it that snowplows are always going the other direction and not yours?