Saturday, December 8, 2012

Finding Irène Laureux

Collin Kelley
Without German director Wim Wenders' classic film, Until the End of the World, the character of Irène Laureux in my novels Conquering Venus and Remain in Light would not exist. When I came home from my first trip to London and Paris back in the summer of 1995, I saw UTEOTW and the legendary Jeanne Moreau's performance inspired the creation of Irène, a Parisian widow searching for the man who killed her husband in the chaotic May ’68 riots.
In the movie, Moreau plays a blind woman whose scientist husband has invented a video camera that captures images and feeds them into the visual cortex of the brain allowing her to see once again. William Hurt and Solveig Dommartin race around the world to collect images while a rogue nuclear satellite is falling out of the atmosphere and threatening to contaminate the planet. It's a complex, audacious thriller and Moreau is the heart of the story.

When I checked into the Bel Air Hotel on Rue Rampon in June of 1995, my room was across the street from an apartment building. On the third floor, there was a long balcony full of flowers and the French doors were always open revealing a desk and shelves lined with books, but I never saw who lived there. So, I created Irène to fill in that blank and UTEOTW and Jeanne Moreau were the catalyst.

UTEOTW also lead me to Moreau’s other incredible films, including Francois Truffaut’s Elevator to the Gallows and The Bride Wore Black and Louis Malle’s The Lovers. Many writers take their inspiration for characters from other books, but I’ve found that my best characters begin on the screen. Merci, Madame Moreau, for helping me find Irène.
Collin Kelley is the author of the novels Conquering Venus and Remain In Light, which was a 2012 finalist for the Townsend Prize for Fiction. His poetry collections include Better To Travel, Slow To Burn and After the Poison and the forthcoming Render. Kelley is also the author of the eBook short story collection, Kiss Shot. A recipient of the Georgia Author of the Year Award, Deep South Festival of Writers Award and Goodreads Poetry Award, Kelley’s poetry, essays and interviews have appeared in magazines, journals and anthologies around the world. He lives in Atlanta, GA. For more information, visit, find him on Facebook at CollinKelleyWriter or follow him on Twitter @collinkelley.

Conquering Venus and Remain In Light are available in ebook and trade paperback formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, Smashwords and through your favourite local bookstore.

Collin will giveaway an eBook edition of each of his novels, Conquering Venus and Remain In Light, via Smashwords to a lucky winner. The eBooks will be available for download in multi-formats including versions for the Kindle, Nook and other devices. Make sure to leave a comment and Collin will randomly draw a winner, which will be announced at his Modern Confessional blog ( on Dec. 11.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Welcome Jean Lauzier

Jean Lauzier   
Cande Hernadez is the product of a chat room discussion of character names and the stereotypical things attributed to them.  She started out as Candy; kind of sweet, being teased by her male co-workers and not very memorable. I put her aside and continued with other characters until challenged to write a short piece for Halloween.
Having Halloween in mind, I thought Candy would be the perfect name to use. I even planned to have someone comment how much he’d like to find her in his trick-or-treat bag. But then I realized, she wouldn’t put up with that kind of remark. She may be a nice person but she demands respect, especially from her co-workers. It was about this time I realized she was Hispanic and her name really was Candelaria, Cande for short.
The more I got to know her, the more I liked her. Raised in the small East Texas town of DryLake, she often had to stand up for herself as a bi-racial (American/Mexican) child. Not only did this contribute to who she is today, it gave her a special affinity for those who are weaker and a dislike for those who bully them.
While not drawn from anyone I know, she is the type of person I’d like to have as a friend. Compassionate, fiercely loyal, strong-willed but always up for some fun.  Plus, she gets to say things I’d like to but can’t.


Website –
Twitter - @JeanLauzier
Facebook – jeanlauzier2319
Bio:  Jean Lauzier has always been a writer though life just recently settled enough so she can spend the time needed at the keyboard with her characters.  Jean writes mystery and fantasy for the most part but enjoys playing with romance and western genres ever so often.  When not writing, Jean spends her time trying to keep her Bonsai alive, learning Spanish and training the cat.
Her short story collection, Six Pack of Murder is available on Amazon.  She is president of the East Texas Writer’s Association.
During the tour, Jean will be giving away at least three copies of Six Pack of Murder and three copies of the soon to be released Dark Descent. Be sure to leave a comment along with your email address to be entered in the drawing. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Creating Dae O'Donnell

Joyce Lavene
I really created Mayor Dae O’Donnell from a composite of many people I knew. I was working at our local newspaper at the time. I attended many town meetings and elections.

The one thing that stood out for me was that small town mayors love their town. They want to see it grow and thrive. They’re interested in every aspect of it – from trash pick up to new housing and shopping.

I chose the mayor’s office in particular because I had been asked to run for mayor the year I wrote the first story. Everyone knew me in my small town outside Charlotte, North Carolina. Someone even offered to put up the money for signs and other aspects of a political race.

I knew it wasn’t for me. I don’t like long meetings and I’m a fiction writer at heart. I said no, thanks, but I was thinking all the time about Dae O’Donnell. What would she say?

Her father is Horace O’Donnell, twenty-year sheriff of the county they live in. This helped shape her life. Her grandmother, Eleanore, had Dae’s gift for finding lost things, but she died right before Dae was born.

Dae’s life was also shaped by her mother’s death. Her mother was killed when Dae was still in college after a fight they’d had about Dae’s grades at school. Her mother had been the one that had always told Dae that her gift had to be used for the good of the community. She told her that it was like a service she provided, almost the way her grandfather’s occupation was.

So Dae was born out of real-life and fantasy. Being from a family of firefighters, I understood service. I wanted more for Dae. She needed more since she also carried a psychic gift. The background of her life, set against the folklore and legends of the Outer Banks helped with that.

Dae’s gift, being a finder of lost things, has grown and changed in the first three books in the series. It changes again in the fourth book, A Haunted Dream. Lucky for her, she has the character and strength to know who she is and what she needs to do.
The mayor of Duck, North Carolina, Dae O’Donnell, is a woman with a gift for finding lost things. When her boyfriend Kevin’s ex-fiancée Ann arrives in Duck looking for a second chance, Dae suddenly finds herself facing certain heartache. And while her romantic life is in shambles, she’s even more concerned by the sudden change in her gift. After touching a medallion owned by a local named Chuck Sparks, Dae is shocked when her vision reveals his murder—and a cry for help. Dae doesn’t know what to make of the dead man’s plea to “Help her,” until she has another vision about a kidnapped girl—Chuck’s daughter, Betsy. With a child missing, the FBI steps in to take over the case. But Dae can’t ignore her visions of Betsy, or the fact that Kevin’s psychic ex-fiancé might be the only person who can help find her.

Joyce Lavene writes bestselling mystery with her husband/partner Jim. They have written and published more than 60 novels for Harlequin, Berkley and Charter Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. She lives in rural North Carolina with her family, her cat, Quincy, and her rescue dog, Rudi. Visit her at, Facebook/ Twitter: @authorjlavene,

Win a copy of A Haunting Dream, the fourth book in the Missing Pieces Mysteries, by leaving your name at my blog: 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My Protagonists

Jean Henry Mead 
Thanks for inviting me here today, Patricia. Although you asked for one character, I’m about to describe two because my amateur sleuths are inseparable. The 60-year old widows who people my Logan and Cafferty mystery/suspense series are feisty and as determined as bulldogs to solve the murders they encounter.

Dana Logan and Sarah Cafferty gestated in my mind for a while before my computer gave birth to them more than a decade ago. Both women are loosely based on the relationship I’ve enjoyed with my friend, Marge, whom I’ve known for forty years. Marge is the witty one, so Dana shares some of my characteristics and Sarah inherited Marge’s. Together they form a team I originally called Shirl Lock and Holmes. When I left my former publisher, I renamed Shirley Lock and Dora Holmes and they found two additional homes.

Although I’m not the life of the party, humor manages to creep into all my books, including nonfiction, which my readers seem to enjoy. I’ve only been criticized twice over the years for inserting humorous dialogue into a novel with a serious theme. And Sarah Cafferty usually provides the witticisms along with a few quirky characters.

In A Village Shattered, the two women meet in my home state of California in a retirement village where their friends begin dropping dead alphabetically. They soon realize that the killer has stolen their Sew and So club roster, which contains their own names. When the newly elected sheriff botches the investigation, Dana and Sarah decide to discover who’s hiding in the San Joaquin Valley fog--and killing their friends. Dana’s beautiful journalist daughter Kerrie then arrives unannounced and complicates the plot.

After the murders are solved, the sleuths buy a motorhome to travel the West. While in Colorado, Dana learns that her wealthy sister has died and her widower claims it was suicide. When they arrive in Wyoming, they discovered the sister’s diary in Diary of Murder and nearly lose their own lives when they encounter a vicious drug gang. Dana inherits her sister’s money and mansion, which then becomes their headquarters.

The third novel, Murder on the Interstate, begins on a northern Arizona highway. While traveling in their motorhome, the two women discover the body of a young woman in her Mercedes convertible. The discovery leads to their kidnapping by a homegrown terrorist group as well as another murder. I researched explosives and terrorist activity along the Mexican border and placed Dana and Sarah in one dangerous situation after another.
Gray Wolf Mountain is the latest release and again takes place in Wyoming. Someone shoots at Dana’s Escalade, which rolls on the mountain where they’ve been taking photographs. They’re rescued by an old man they learn is saving the wounded wolves that someone is systematically shooting. Soon humans are also turning up dead. This novel is set on the mountain where I live, and I enjoyed writing about the area. I conducted a lot of research on aerial wolf killings and how nature suffers from eliminating keystone predators. It’s a serious subject interspersed with humor and a little romance.

Dana Logan and Sarah Cafferty haven’t changed much over the course of the series, although they’ve become more savvy in their investigations and increasingly risk takers. Sheriff Walter Grayson usually comes to their rescue, when needed, as does Dana’s daughter, Kerrie.

Bio: Jean Henry Mead has published 18 books, including the Logan & Cafferty series and Hamilton Kids’ mysteries. She’s also a national award-winning photojournalist, published domestically as well as abroad, and has served as a news, magazine and small press editor.

Giveaway: I'll be giving away a print copy or Kindle copy (winner's choice) of Gray Wolf Mountain at the end of the blog tour.