Steal away with mystery author Lynda Lock

Steal away with mystery author Lynda Lock

Canadian mystery author and blogger Lynda L. Lock transports us to the fabled island of Isla Mujeres on Mexico’s Atlantic coast not far from Cancun. First known for her popular blog from Isla Mujeres, Lynda’s new mystery series is a charming slice-of-island-life with a mystery twist featuring authentic island life and an ensemble cast that hangs out at a restaurant called the Loco Lobo.

Lynda and I met through the dynamic Mexico Writers group on Facebook and I can’t wait for her next book!

Carmen Amato: Lynda, thanks so much for stopping by. We’re both members of the incomparable Mexico Writers group on Facebook and you were one of the contributors to The Insider’s Guide to the Best of Mexico. I love your blog about life on Mexico’s Isla Mujeres, but you also write mysteries! Tell us how your writing career has evolved.

Lynda Lock: Hi Carmen, and thank you for the invite and for including me in The Insider’s Guide to the Best of Mexico. My writing career started with a Christmas story I wrote in grade five. It ended in a complete disaster as I nervously shredded the paper while trying to read what I thought was a hilariously funny story to my stone-faced classmates.

Over the years I wrote hundreds of stories for my own entertainment.  Eventually I was offered a position as a contributing writer for an American magazine, while at the same time I managed our bed and breakfast and worked in our micro-brewery. When my husband and I retired to Mexico I rediscovered the desire to write books. I started with a bilingual book for children and then progressed to novels. The Adventures of Thomas the Cat / Las Aventuras de Tomás el Gato won a silver award at the International Latino Book Awards in LA for Best Picture Book Bilingual in 2016.

CA: Your mysteries, TREASURE ISLA and TROUBLE ISLA, capture life on Isla Mujeres down to the smallest detail, including the impact of its relative remoteness. How does setting influence your mystery plots?

LL: I enjoy the Mexican culture, but living on an island is entertaining, no matter where the island is located. The people who inhabit islands are typically self-sufficient, resilient individuals, with quirky personalities that make great characters for novels. We lived on a similarly sized island in British Columbia Canada for 17 years. One day I intend to write a series of novels based on that experience.

CA: One thing I love about the Isla books is the wonderful cast of continuing characters and the touch of romance. The population of Isla Mujeres is quite a mix–Mexicans, expatriates, vacationers, etc. How did this inspire you?

LL:  I am fascinated by pirates; their history, their stories, and their personalities. A few years ago our well-respected local historian, Fidel Villanueva Madrid, wrote an interesting account about the pirates that had visited and at times inhabited the Isla Mujeres.

Another islander, Ronda Winn Roberts, enjoys translating articles from Spanish to English and posting the translations on her blog to give English speaking newcomers have a sense of the island’s history. That’s how I first discovered the story of the blonde-haired Dutch pirate, Captain Laurens Cornelis Boudewijn de Graaf.

The possibility of the handsome, charming and apparently well-educated de Graaf, nicknamed the Scourge of the West, visiting Isla over 300 years ago was the spark for TREASURE ISLA. He reportedly sailed to Isla Mujerea in 1683 after the siege of Veracruz and buried his plunder here on the island. According to all accounts de Graaf never returned to the island but was killed in another battle. Alright then, let’s go find that treasure.

Another pirate, who is better known to islanders, Captain Fermin Mundaca lived on Isla in the mid-1800s. His empty tomb really is located in the cemetery in Centro, and his hacienda covers a large part of the center of the island.

The second book, TROUBLE ISLA begins with a kidnapping of one of the main characters from Treasure Isla. It seems that the pirate’s horde is just bad luck for everyone. The story is more about the present day characters; their interactions, friendships and love affairs and less about the historical characters of Mundaca and de Graaf.

The third book continue to explore relationships between the characters while they deal with murder, mayhem and a hurricane.

I enjoy researching and writing stories that have a historical basis. Digging out the bits and pieces and trying to reconstruct an era is fascinating. Fortunately for me there are a number of webpages and blogs with interesting tidbits of information about pirates and the items have been found over the years.

The interactions and reactions are a never ending source of material for the novels, too. Everyone has an opinion on how the island should be managed and many discussions start with, “my little Isla …” There is an amusing rivalry between the born-on-the-island locals and foreign residents, between the home owners who live here six months of the year and the visitors who have been vacationing every year for 30 years, but everyone picks on the dreaded day-trippers arriving in hoards from the Cancun hotels.

CA: I wouldn’t call your books cozy mysteries, but neither are they hard-boiled crime fiction. How do you categorize them?

LL: I think they are humorous-adventure-mysteries. Is there a category for that?

CA: What is next for you as a blogger and a mystery writer?

LL: Book #3 TORMENTA ISLA is scheduled to be released in February 2018. The cast of characters still have a few more stories to tell. Meanwhile, the blog is a weekly labor of love and both my husband and I contribute articles. It’s a good vehicle to congratulate volunteers, to introduce old-time islanders to the newbies, to express our quirky humor, and to just generally get to know other people who love Isla Mujeres.

CA: You can invite any author, living or dead, to dinner at your home. What are you serving and what will the conversation be about?

LL:  Oh my, so many choices. I read a novel a day and have many favorite authors, but I will have to say Ken Follett would be my first choice. I am a huge fan of his Kingsbridge Series; Pillars of the Earth, World Without End, and the newest one just released A Column of Fire. His attention to historical detail, his characters, and his descriptions are breathtaking.

I have read the first two books three times each and still discover things I missed in the previous readings. As for dinner, we are very basic cooks. We live on the edge of the ocean with sand drifting through our patio doors and the turquoise sea to enjoy. Our meals are basic and easy, giving us more time to soak up the beauty of our view.

Assuming Mr. Follett isn’t a vegetarian, we would probably grill steaks and an assortment of vegetables like peppers, onions, baby carrots and broccoli, then make a crispy salad, and set everything on the table with a couple of bottles of good wine. If we were lucky the grocery store might have a freshly made baguette – not quite but almost as good as the baguettes in France. The fresh bread would go nicely with our stash of imported New Zealand butter. (Good butter is a rare find on the island! When a supply comes in we buy lots and stash it in the freezer.)

CA: Can you leave us with a quote, a place, or a concept from a book that inspired you?

LL: “No regrets. No bad memories.” It’s a favorite saying we picked up from two friends who are slightly older than us and also on second marriages. What it means to me is enjoy life, learn a new skill, be open to new adventures and don’t worry about the past. Life is short, savor your time.

Thank you!

Facebook Lynda L Lock

Twitter Isla Mysteries

Intragram Isla Mysteries

Amazon Lynda L Lock

Bookbubs Lynda L Lock

Goodreads Lynda L Lock

BLOG: Notes from Paradise, Isla Mujeres

You may also like

CARMEN AMATO

Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.

 

A Tale of Two  Murders, courtesy of the John Feit trial

A Tale of Two Murders, courtesy of the John Feit trial

A few days ago I got an email from Josh Gaynor, a producer for the CBS show 48 Hours. He had run across my short story “The Angler” about the 2007 murder of Father Richard Junius in Mexico City. Father Richard was the pastor of Saint Patrick’s Church when I was president of the parish council, although I’d left Mexico by the time of his death.

Gaynor and I ended up having a phone conversation surprising to both of us, although in different ways. Gaynor was following the Texas trial of John Feit, accused of murdering a woman in 1960. At the time, Feit and Father Richard were young priests assigned to Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas. The woman, Irene Garza, reportedly went to the church intending to speak with Father Richard but ended up speaking to Feit. More about the trial from the San Antonio Express-News: http://www.expressnews.com/news/local/article/Feit-s-conflicting-1960-statements-reviewed-12404560.php

Gaynor was trying to get a clear picture of who was who in 1960, but as I met Father Richard some 40 years later, I wasn’t much help. But I clearly surprised Gaynor when I pointed out that Irene Garza and Father Richard had died in similar fashion: tortured and strangled. Irene was raped while Father Richard’s 79-year-old naked and bound body was found with porn magazines.

Related post: How Father Richard Inspired the fictional church of Santa Clara

Father Richard’s death was first pronounced murder—which is what the head of his religious order and his family were immediately told—and then changed to death by sexual misadventure a few days later. The final verdict was greeted with massive street protests from his many faithful parishioners, protests from his Oblate missionary order, and complete disbelief from those who knew him like myself.

I told Gaynor about Father Richard’s missionary work in Mexico, his prison advocacy, and his popular radio show as well as his naiveté in dealing with criminals. While pastor at Saint Patrick’s he was defrauded by workmen as well as beaten and robbed of the collection money several times. His death in the rectory of Our Lady of Guadalupe church in Mexico City, which suffered an arson attack the same night, came only days after he publicly called out the owners of a local bar for serving alcohol to minors.

Gaynor seemed shocked at the suggestion that the scene of Father Richard’s death was staged and potentially connected to the disagreement with the bar owners. “Why would anyone want to cover up a bar serving to minors?” he asked.

I tried to explain the complexities of Mexico’s drug war. Who owned the bar? Did they pay protection money and to whom? What business were they running out of the back room? Who else frequented that bar, i.e. influential gang members or minor government officials who got a kickback from the drug trade? Were the minors halcones, indispensable lookouts for drug gang transactions? The reasons not to have activity at the bar looked into were more than I could enumerate in a rushed phone call.

The next day, Gaynor emailed another question: Had I seen the police report on Father Richard’s death? I almost laughed.

The term “police report” is a much looser concept in Mexico than in the US. Not only are formal police reports a rarity—family members often have to pay for private detectives to investigate and compile reports—such reports are hardly available to the general public in a country without open trials or trials by jury. Victim advocacy is a relatively new concept.

Mexico’s drug war has seen as many as 90,000 dead or disappeared in less than a decade. Each death like Father Richard’s is a small but never-ending battle for truth and accountability.

Related: The real story behind 43 MISSING

You may also like

CARMEN AMATO

Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.

 

The real story behind 43 MISSING

The real story behind 43 MISSING

43 MISSING, the latest Detective Emilia Cruz novel, is fiction but is based on a true, unsolved crime.

A big, terrible, words-fail-me unsolved crime.

43 Missing

In September 2014, forty-three students from the Ayotzinapa Normal School disappeared while in Iguala, Guerrero attempting to commandeer buses to take them to a rally in Mexico City. Three years and dozens of arrests later, the details around the crime are still sketchy and the families of the missing still do not have closure.

Neither truth nor bodies have been found.

I was just beginning the Detective Emilia Cruz series in 2014 when the 43 students disappeared. As time went on and the aftermath became spotted with half-truths and confusion, I wondered if I should write about it. Fiction has been my way of bringing awareness to the scores of Mexicans missing amid the country’s drug violence, but this crime and the possible secrets behind it, were almost unthinkable.

If Detective Emilia Cruz took on this investigation, I had to bring honesty and compassion to the project while creating both a believable motive and a firm resolution.

Research

As I researched the book that would become 43 MISSING, Francisco Goldman’s reporting in The New Yorker provided crucial details. I met him in October 2017 and thanked him for the superb reporting. He in turn praised the work of John Gibler, whom Goldman quoted in one of his articles:

“Scores of uniformed municipal police and a handful of masked men dressed in black shot and killed six people, wounded more than twenty, and rounded up and detained forty-three students in a series of attacks carried out at multiple points and lasting more than three hours,” Gibler wrote to me in an e-mail. “At no point did state police, federal police, or the army intercede. The forty-three students taken into police custody are now ‘disappeared.’ ”

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/crisis-mexico-disappearance-forty-three

The motive for the assault on the students in the city of Iguala, not far from Acapulco, remains a mystery. One hypothesis reported by OpenDemocracy.net and other outlets which sparked my interest is that “the police were not after the students, but their bus . . . carrying shipment of drugs and/or money, which corrupt officers were trying to recover.”

https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/manuella-libardi/ayotzinapa-three-years-later-new-light-few-answers

The novel 43 MISSING tackles many of the real anomalies related to the case, including a discredited motive, how the 43 bodies were disposed of, and multiple identical confessions.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-missing-forty-three-the-mexican-government-sabotages-its-own-independent-investigation

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-missing-forty-three-the-governments-case-collapses

“Damning”

The case quickly became a political hot potato and still is. In 2016, the Organization of American States was called in as a neutral party but its investigation withered. James Cavallaro, Stanford law professor and human rights expert who led the effort, had this to say in an interview with Americas Quarterly magazine:

Americas Quarterly: Mexico’s attorney general has called this “the most comprehensive criminal investigation in the history of law enforcement in Mexico.” What does that say about law enforcement in Mexico?

James Cavallaro: Unfortunately, given the results of the investigation, it’s quite a damning statement. It’s a damning statement because we don’t know what happened to the 43 students, we don’t know where they are, we don’t know who was responsible, we don’t know how they died. None of the most important questions have been answered. And if that’s what the most comprehensive investigation in the recent history of Mexico can produce, any rational observer should be extremely concerned about the state of criminal justice in Mexico.

http://www.americasquarterly.org/content/oas-human-rights-chief-galling-errors-obstruction-case-43-missing-mexican-students

As I write this at the end of 2017, most pundits say the families will never know what happened. While the mystery of the 43 missing is solved in fiction, I pray that it will some day be solved for real.

Click here to read Chapter 1 of 43 MISSING.

You may also like

CARMEN AMATO

Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.

 

Sailing the Mystery Sea with Author Penn Wallace

Sailing the Mystery Sea with Author Penn Wallace

Pendleton C. Wallace writes two gripping mystery series, lives on a boat, and has had careers as diverse as restauranteur and cyber security expert. He took time out from his busy schedule to chat about the origins of his stories and what’s next for both series. Check out his website at pennwallace.com where he talks about life as an author and adventurer.

1  Carmen Amato: You write two great mystery series, each around a strong central character: hacker Ted Higuera and cop Catrina Flaherty. Ted and Cat weave in and out of each others’ series, which I find fairly unique, and both have compelling backstories. Tell us about how you developed these two multi-dimensional fictional characters.

Penn Wallace: My mother is a first-generation American. Her parents were refugees from the Mexican Revolution. My father is of Scottish heritage. I grew up with a foot in both worlds. In the Ted Higuera series, I modeled Ted after my Mexican half. I was a software engineer and cyber security analyst, like Ted. Ted’s best friend, Chris Hardwick, is modeled after my American side.

Catrina is a whole other story. I did some consulting work for her firm in the 1990’s. Of course, I changed her name for the series, but she was essentially the character I portray in the Catrina Flaherty Mysteries. She was the scariest woman I ever met, but she really did the things I write about and built her practice around saving abused women.

2  CA: Will you continue both series indefinitely? Do you find writing one more rewarding than the other?

PW: I’m in love with whichever character I’m writing about at the time. I plan to keep on writing both series, however, Cat and Ted and going their separate ways. SPOILER ALERT: At the end of The Chinatown Murders, Cat throws in the towel, quits the PI business and goes to visit a friend in Panama.

In the new Ted Higuera book, Ted takes control of Flaherty & Associates and continues on without Cat. The next Cat book will pick up her story in Panama and Ted won’t be in it.

I have another character I’d like to write a series about, but I just can’t get caught up with the Ted and Cat stories that are bubbling over in my mind.

3  CA: Penn, we are both members of the Mexico Writers Facebook group as well as fellow mystery authors. Tell us about your connection to Mexico and how you’ve used that in your writing.

PW: As I mentioned, my mother’s family came from Mexico. We made several trips to Mexico when I was a kid. I grew up in the back end of a Mexican restaurant.

After I grew up, I owned two Mexican restaurants and made frequent trips to Mexico. Mexico is in my blood. It was a natural that my hero would be of Mexican heritage and The Old Country would be a subject of my writing.

4  CA: I’ve read many of your blog posts about life on the water. You are a true adventurer! How has sailing helped hone your mystery writing skills?

PW: Wow! I don’t even know how to begin answering this question. Let’s try this:

Sailing has taken me to a lot of exotic locations that are the venues for my books. The Inside Passage takes place mostly on a sailboat on Canada’s Inside Passage. I spent many a summer cruising those idyllic islands.

After I quit my day job and sailed to and lived in Mexico, it became natural that some of the places I visited became locations for my books.

Then there’s always the excitement of sailing. Things never seem to go as planned and life on a cruising sailboat is anything but routine. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet lots of people who made their way into my book. Maria and her family are modeled on friends that live in La Paz. (No, they are not really drug lords.)

As an author, I’ve learned that if you keep your eyes open, you’ll see fodder for your stories all around you.

5 CA: How do you go about researching your books? How do you know when you have done enough to begin a project?

PW: I was always told, “write what you know.” This doesn’t work for me. I’ve never been a drug lord or a female PI. I’ve never run a chain of bikini barista stands or stolen airplanes and gone on a nationwide crime spree.

I spend a lot of time researching. Fortunately for me, I can do most of my research on the Internet, no matter where in the world I am.

I usually spend from a couple of weeks to a couple of months researching before I begin outlining my story. Then, as I write, I’m constantly finding items that need further research to make the story believable.

I needed a gun that Hope could realistically carry. I found all sorts of information on the ‘net. Then there was the question of how she would conceal it. Research led me to a neat little bra holster. This kind of stuff comes up all the time as I write.

6 CA: You can invite any author, living or dead, to dinner at your home. What are you serving and what will the conversation be about?

PW:  May I invite two? First, I would invite Edgar Rice Burroughs. I grew up on his work. I love Tarzan and John Carter of Mars. I can imagine an evening, lying at anchor in some tropical cove lined with white sand beaches and palm trees, pumping him for information about life on Barsoom.

At the same time, I’d love to have Larry McMurtry sitting in the cockpit sipping a cool one with us. I adore the Lonesome Dove series. I want to know how Larry researches his series. In Dead Man’s Walk, he uses my great-great-great uncle, Big Foot Wallace, as a character. He has Big Foot killed in the book. This is not the way family lore tells the story. I’d love to know how he researched this.

7 CA: Can you leave us with a quote, a place, or a concept from a book that inspired you?

PW: Don Quixote de la Mancha. I read the book when I was a teenager and have spent the rest of my life tilting at windmills, trying to save the fair Dulcinea, and defeat the evil wizards and sorcerers, and establish the right in our world.

Thank you!

I loved THE INSIDE PASSAGE, the first Ted Higuera thriller. My review will appear first in the Mystery Ahead newsletter, which you can get here.  THE INSIDE PASSAGE is a 5 star thriller with all the ingredients I love: “everyman” hero, a  politically-charged villain, an unexpected setting, and a swift pace that tumbles us headlong from one dramatic moment to another. Find it on Amazon.

Pacific ReaperP.S. The first chapter of MURDER STRIKES TWICE, a Catrina Flaherty mystery, is included as a bonus in the Kindle edition of PACIFIC REAPER, the 5th Detective Emilia Cruz mystey. One good female sleuth deserves another!

You may also like

CARMEN AMATO

Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.

 

Author to Author with Susan Spann

Author to Author with Susan Spann

I’m thrilled to host Susan Spann, author of the Hiro Hattori mystery series. Even if you don’t like sushi, you’ll be riveted by this series featuring a ninja warrior in medieval Japan.

1  Carmen Amato: Susan, thanks so much for stopping by. I found your mystery series books via Twitter and was immediately struck by their uniqueness. Two terrific key characters: master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo investigate crime in 1560’s Japan. Tell us how you came to write the Hiro Hattori series.

Susan Spann: Thank you so much for inviting me, and I’m delighted that you enjoyed the books! I fell in love with Japanese history and culture after reading James Clavell’s Shogun back in the 1980s—enough to major in Asian Studies at Tufts University during my college years—but the idea for the Hiro Hattori novels didn’t come to me until many years later. While getting ready for work one morning in 2012, I had the random thought: “Most ninjas commit murders, but Hiro Hattori solves them,” and knew immediately that I had to tell that story.

2  CA: Hiro Hattori is a “master ninja” but certainly not a caricature. What was your inspiration and how did you craft him as a multi-dimensional character?

SS: Real ninjas—shinobi in Japanese—were masters of espionage as well as highly trained assassins. I’ve always felt the Hollywood portrayals (though entertaining) didn’t do them justice, and I wanted to make sure my ninja detective was closer to the real thing. I wanted Hiro to feel real—in his weaknesses as well as his strengths—and I did a lot of research to ensure I was portraying ninjas accurately while still creating a page-turning mystery adventure.

3  CA: Hiro Hattori’s sidekick is a Portuguese Jesuit priest. You have really departed from the norm here. Tell us how you came to match up these two unique characters.

SS: When creating the Hiro Hattori series, I needed a “cultural translator” to make the intriguing facets of Japanese culture and history more accessible to readers, most of whom wouldn’t know much about ninjas or samurai Japan. Since Jesuits came to Japan in the 16th century, which also happens to be the height of real ninja activity in Japan, pairing my ninja with a Jesuit priest seemed like a perfect solution.

Originally, I intended Father Mateo to serve as a “Watson” – more of a sidekick than a real partner in crime (solving). As it worked out, the characters felt differently, and I have to admit I’m glad. I love the dimension Hiro and Father Mateo’s relationship gives to the books.

4  CA: You weave together historical myth and true history. Please share a surprising detail about your research process.

SS: People are often surprised to learn that I’m allergic to fish—which means I’ve had to find alternative ways of researching and describing many of the popular foods that appear in the novels, including Hiro’s favorite dish: udon (noodles) topped with onions and grilled fish. Fortunately, the allergy doesn’t stop me from enjoying my research trips to Japan—people are also often surprised to learn that a lot of Japanese cuisine does not involve fish at all!

5  CA: Medieval Japan has been the setting for some great movies aka The Last Samurai but what makes it a good setting for a mystery series? How do you use setting to create and build suspense?

SS:  Medieval Japan—what people sometimes think of as the “samurai era”—was a time of many contrasts. Samurai warriors often studied painting, literature, and flower arranging as well as martial activities like archery and swordsmanship. The juxtaposition of beauty and danger, as well as the intricate social rules and severe penalties for disobedience or dishonor, make it a fascinating place in which to set a mystery novel, because the characters often have far more to worry about than *just* who wanted the victim dead.

6  CA: You can invite any author, living or dead, to dinner at your home. What are you serving and what will the conversation be about?

SS: The list of authors I’d like to meet and talk with is so long…if I could choose only one, I think I’d like to meet Agatha Christie, and talk with her about plotting, twists, and where she got her fantastic ideas for her classic traditional mysteries. As far as the menu, I’d love to introduce her to shojin ryori—traditional Buddhist temple cuisine. It’s one of my favorite styles of cooking, and I’d love to hear her thoughts on that as well!

7  CA: Can you leave us with a quote, a place, or a concept from a book that inspired you?

SS: One of my all-time favorite novels is Michael Crichton’s JURASSIC PARK. I loved the film, but I read the book first (and several times since), and it remains a go-to when I need a familiar adventure. His worldbuilding, pacing, and dialogue are fantastic, and he manages to weave real-world wisdom into a page-turning thriller, with lines like “In the information society, nobody thinks. We expected to banish paper, but we actually banished thought.”

I hope that my novels never banish thought, and I aspire to someday write as well as he did.

Thank you so much for inviting me!

An attorney as well as a mystery author, Susan was the 2015 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Writer of the Year and is a former president of the Northern California chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and a member of Sisters in Crime, the Historical Novel Society, and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Association. She is represented by Sandra Bond of Bond Literary Agency.

Find Susan online at her website (http://www.susanspann.com), on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/SusanSpannBooks) and on Twitter (@SusanSpann), where she loves to share photos and stories from Japan.

 

You may also like

CARMEN AMATO

Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.

 

Playing Big as an Author

Playing Big as an Author

I was on Facebook recently (who among us can’t start a sentence that way?) and someone in a writers group asked what was our biggest concern. My answer was “Playing small.”

Does anybody else feel like this?

Although I’ve been a published author for 5 years, I can’t shake the notion that I’m playing small. My dream is to rank alongside authors like Jo Nesbo, Ian Rankin, and Louise Penny. Yet my day-to-day goals are pretty tame. I’m pushing the boulder up the mountain but with teeny steps, not long strides.

I’m not sure why. I mean, I do alot. Enough to sound convincing on Anne R. Allen’s blog with a recent guest post entitled “What’s Your Author Strategy? 3 Mini-Strategies To Jumpstart Your Career.”

Am I lazy? Have a hidden fear of rejection? Afraid of taking risks? Hello, Dr. Freud?

Related: 5 Lessons after 5 years as an Indie Author

These thoughts have been plaguing me since that Facebook a-ha moment. So imagine my surprise when I found  PLAYING BIG by Tara Mohr. She’s a professional coach and her book is all about why women play small and how they can start playing big.

Her research and advice crosses all occupations and interests. While her target audience is female, I think her ideas are for everybody.

The main themes in PLAYING BIG are about believing in yourself, shutting out negative self-criticism, forming action plans, and advancing a purposeful agenda. Mohr offers a ton of actionable ideas, peppered with case studies and her own experiences.

For example

One of her chapters is about “unhooking” from praise and criticism, a seesaw many new authors ride. Mohr writes “One of the most important mental shifts a woman can make to support her playing big is to stop thinking of criticism as a signal of a problem and to start thinking of criticism as part and parcel of doing important work.”

Mohr goes on to urge readers to check out reviews of favorite authors. Read all the praise, then all the criticism. “The polarization and diametrically opposed opinions . . . become almost humorous. Reading a handful of reviews, it becomes obvious that any substantive work draws a wide range of reactions.”

Playing bigger

I’m still mulling over PLAYING BIG and thinking what I can do to lengthen my stride. I’ve started a list.

First entry: Spend less time on Facebook.

But seriously. What does playing big mean to you?

You may also like

CARMEN AMATO

Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.

 

Author to Author with Brian Stoddart

Author to Author with Brian Stoddart

I’m thrilled to host mystery author Brian Stoddart, creator of the Superintendent Le Fanu historical series set in India in the 1920’s. Think Sherlock Holmes meets The Jewel in the Crown, with a bit of my favorite thriller, too.

Brian is a New Zealand-based but globally engaged writer whose historical crime fiction is based in Madras, India of the 1920s. He trained as an historian, and worked as an academic in Australia, Malaysia, Canada and the Caribbean before becoming a university executive and later an international consultant on World Bank, Asian Development Bank and European Union projects in Cambodia, Laos, Jordan, and Syria. Follow him at www.brianstoddartwriter.com.

1.Carmen Amato: Brian, thanks so much for stopping by. I love historical mysteries that teach me something and your Superintendent Le Fanu series set in 1920’s India reminds me of the BBC’s Jewel in the Crown, with a touch of Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts thrown in for verve. Tell us how you came to write such a complex and fascinating series.

Brian Stoddart: My PhD research was on modern nationalist politics in South India, and even as an academic I thought that those times and events had great dramatic qualities. That backdrop immediately allowed me to develop characters and events that were based in the historical record and, as we all know, truth is often more fascinating than fiction.

Some of the characters in the Le Fanu novels really did exist, and around them I can orbit fictional characters who also draw off people who were working at that time. The detailed historical knowledge allows me, then, to weave these stories in detail.

That said, I have had also to revisit Madras (now Chennai) as a writer rather than historian, because the city is as much a character as the people. Knowing the city well has allowed me to make the blend and set a place that is different, exotic but knowable. I am delighted that readers have felt that they learned something from the stories as well as being entertained by them.

2. CA: How do you create multi-dimensional fictional characters, including your lead character Christian Le Fanu? Where do you look for inspiration when creating characters?

BS: Those historical characters who lurk behind my fictional ones were all multi-dimensional and complex, often controversial, frequently combative and sometimes illogical. All those traits feed into Le Fanu and his colleagues as well as his opponents.

For example, I wrote a biography of an Anglo-Italian named Arthur Galletti who served in Madras and was the archetypal square peg in a round hole: anti-authority, hugely intelligent, socially awkward, pro-Indian and all the rest. Others were themselves writers who questioned the British regime. All of this feeds easily into creating characters who belong in the time. So that inspiration comes from the past and the historical record.

The other influence is from other writers and seeing how they create characters who live. Among my favourites are writers like Evelyn Waugh, Ian Rankin, Kate Atkinson, Parker Bilal, Fred Vargas – this is by no means exhaustive but will give you the idea. I also draw ideas and influence from television writers like Sally Wainwright, Anthony Horowitz, Neil Cross and others, because they create visuals that transfer well into print.

3. CA: Le Fanu has a personal relationship that was not allowed under British law in India at that time. How will this impact his decision-making as the series goes on?

BS: It was not so much “not allowed” to have a relationship between European and Anglo-Indian (mixed race) as severely damaging to a reputation and career, much the same if not even more so as a relationship between European and India. That is a trope for several novels, of course, perhaps beginning with E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India.

I use Le Fanu’s complicated relationship with Ro McPhedren almost as a lodestone to that complex matter of race relations in India at the time, and that shows up in how some other European characters relate (or do not relate) to Indians both professionally and personally.

By definition, the relationship will continue to bear on Le Fanu’s life as a whole, and be something of an allegory for the broader relationship patterns as independence nears for India. At the same time, the relationship allows me to explore the nuances of all this community-based activity in British India: Anglo-Indians who dominated the railway services, the missionaries who brought another corrective, the European business classes who had different outlooks again, and a range of others. India was all about relationships, in many respects, and Ro McPhedren helps focus that.

4. CA: What makes India a good setting for a mystery? How do you use setting to create and build suspense?

BS: As I say, Madras for me is really another character that influences the interactions between the characters. There are those Europeans who hate the place because they hate being in India and refuse to understand the locals. Le Fanu’s boss and bête noir Arthur Jepson is like that. As a result of WWI, Le Fanu now understands India and Indians better and is at home exploring it. That is why the Udipi food stand is in there – Le Fanu is the only European in the small eatery (which itself is drawn from reality and was the beginning of what has become a major restaurant chain). Habi, Le Fanu’s sidekick, provides the strongly necessary Muslim element in the story because Madras has always had a big Muslim presence.

In many ways, India is such a natural setting for these kinds of stories because of multiple cultural strands (the north differs from the south), cross-faith issues, caste, education, and all the rest. The historical context itself provides so many opportunities which is why the Le Fanu plots and storylines move across all these things and others like them – Madras in the 20s was replete with visitors blundering into systems and situations of which they were ignorant. That makes for great stories.

5. CA: You can invite any author, living or dead, to dinner at your home. What are you serving and what will the conversation be about?

BS: Oh wow! I will cheat and pick one dead, one alive. The latter first. Andrea Camilleri, the marvelous Sicilian creator of Commisario Montalbano. The books and the television series are captivating because they so “get” local nuance, story, history, relationships and networks. The menu would be all seafood drawing on the restaurant favourites and recipes that appear in the books. I am a huge fan – my wife and I have even been to Ragusa and that area of Sicily to immerse ourselves in the Montalbano story. The conversation would be about writing and storytelling based on local knowledge and insights, and how far fact can be stretched into fiction.

The writer from the past would be Robert Louis Stevenson who was one of the very first writers to impress me way back when, and who I talk about these days in my cruise lectures. When he went to Samoa he immersed himself in local politics and culture, and the stories from then reflect that. The food would be Polynesian, and the discussion would focus on the relationship between history and fiction. And the fact that he was a Scot is a bonus.

6. CA: How do you go about researching your books? How do you know when you have done enough to begin a project?

BS:  Really great question. The research for Le Fanu has, of course, been done over many years and is almost natural. I have a lot to draw on. Because of that, the idea of when is enough really does not arise. What I tend to research now are the details of places and historical figures.

I spend a lot of time on geography, for example, trying to get the streetscape right. That includes finding local tales and myths that might add to the plotline or the storyline. Those are things that historians sometimes overlook but are the things that writers rely on. When I am happy I have enough of that to pace the book, then I am happy to quit, until the next time.

7. CA: Can you leave us with a quote, a place, or a concept from a book that inspired you?

BS: I am really driven by the idea of what I call “crime and place”. That is, in all locations and settings the best storylines and plots are driven by local history, folklore, events, characters and conditions. So the concept of place in crime fictions is something I am always trailing after and I always get a great buzz and a sense of encouragement when I find examples that push the boundaries in the genre.

For that reason I find great encouragement in work by people like Barbara Nadel (Istanbul), Donna Leon (Venice, although I think she is having trouble aging Brunetti), Michael Connolly (a really complex character in Bosch set in the ultimate tangle of LA), Paul Thomas (Auckland, with a Maori cop), John Enright (Samoa) and others like that. The inspiration, then, is from the interplay between location, background and character. Hopefully, something of that emerges in the Le Fanu series.

Thank you!

You may also like

CARMEN AMATO

Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.

 

5 Lessons Learned in 5 Years as an Indie Author

5 Lessons Learned in 5 Years as an Indie Author

It is hard to believe but I’ve been a published independent author for 5 years. In May 2012, after a tearful breakup with a publisher, I released THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY via Amazon and Createspace. Once headed down the indie author road and loving the creative freedom that came with it, I kept going in that direction.

So far, I’ve published 5 Detective Emilia Cruz novels and a collection of short stories with the same character, plus two suspense novels.

After 8 books, I’ve accumulated a few lessons learned:

In charge of the railroad

As an independent author, I’m totally in control of every aspect of writing and publishing. Not only do I set my own production schedule and quality control, but there’s branding, marketing, and outreach to consider.

I’m the only one running the railroad; stoking the engine fire, laying down track, taking tickets, and serving drinks (that I mixed myself) in the club car.

I wanted all of that creative control when I started and I still do. I revel in the complex writing life I’ve created and the skills I’ve acquired along the way. I know my characters well and love the process of creating multi-layered mystery plots. Learning Photoshop and WordPress allowed me to create the branded website and social media platforms I envisioned.

Doesn’t mean everything is easy.

But owning it all is exciting. I’m an entrepreneur.

Volume sells

We all chug along at our own pace but in today’s environment, the more you write, the easier it is to gain traction and be discoverable.

Amazon’s Author Central pages showcase an author’s books all in one place. Ebooks can lead a reader from one book to the next with links in the text.

This means that 1) the more books you have, the more likely your backlist is to sell, and 2) books in a series sell better than one-offs.

The question I get most often is “How many Emilia Cruz novels will you write?”

As many as I can.

You can always choose to fight

Now and then, the train slows and a cinder gets in my eye.

I find myself staring dully at lists full of Important Things to Do and not doing any of it. Or looking at meh sales stats because Everybody’s Books Sell Better Than Mine. I wish I made enough to hire a big-deal PR firm. I wish the LA Times and the Washington Post book reviewers had me on speeddial.

But would I trade this railroad for one led by a different conductor with competing clients and a controlling interest in my schedule and plot ideas? Who swallows up X% of my income?

Uh, no.

The author blues are best fought with action.

Stoke the engine. Write something new or query a blog for a quest post. The feeling will pass.

Everybody wants your money

There are hundreds of marketing and promotion options for increasing a book’s discoverability.

Over the past 5 years, I have been swayed by the siren call of Generic Marketing. Sucked in by great copy promising to get my book in front of Important Book People, land more reviews, be the Book of the Day, or feature my book in a list touted by a Publishing Insider Publication. None of it paid off.

At least all were legit. Sadly, there are an incredible number of scams out there preying on indie authors.

Finally, I got it. I should be laser-focused on the specific audience for the genre of my books.

The Detective Emilia Cruz novels are a police procedural series. My audience likes intense plotlines, visual settings, and authors like Jo Nesbo, Ian Rankin, and Louise Penny. Now my Mystery Ahead newsletter caters to those interests, I target that audience in Facebook and BookBub ads, look for guest posts on mystery-themed blogs, and so on. Much more effective and better value for my money.

I’m not alone

Being in a community of writers makes a huge difference in terms of confidence and productivity. Of particular note, the Mexico Writers Facebook group has been a inspirational source of support, fun, and creativity.

A monthly local critique group has sharpened my prose and increased my coffee consumption. A weekly memoir group brings me into contact with people from all walks of life and makes me think outside the mystery writing box.

I’m grateful to all the writers willing to share their time and attention with me, but the readers are the stars along my personal walk of fame. Now and then, a reader reaches out to tell me they enjoy the Emilia Cruz series or that they cooked the recipe and how well it turned out (there’s a recipe from a scene at the end of every book). Many email me after reading the monthly Mystery Ahead newsletter. A number of readers emailed gasps about the end of PACIFIC REAPER.

I’m not the only one on the train. A few more board every day to talk, laugh, and share stories.

Meet you in the club car.

You may also like

CARMEN AMATO

Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.

 

New Release! PACIFIC REAPER, the New Detective Emilia Cruz Novel

New Release! PACIFIC REAPER, the New Detective Emilia Cruz Novel

New release!

Detective Emilia Cruz goes up against the cult of Santa Muerte, Mexico’s forbidden saint of death in PACIFIC REAPER, the 5th novel in the series set in Acapulco.

Without giving anything away, early reviews say REAPER is the most powerful Emilia Cruz mystery yet. But you be the judge. Get REAPER on Amazon and please remember to leave a review.

In case you missed the run-up to REAPER, check out some background on the cult of Santa Muerte and read Chapter 1 for free:

When Detective Emilia Cruz Meets Santa Muerte

Background to PACIFIC REAPER

PACIFIC REAPER, Chapter 1

Thanks to great readers like you, PACIFIC REAPER debuted on Amazon’s Hot New Releases list for the International Mystery and Crime category next to some of the genre’s heaviest hitters. Matt Chase’s stellar cover art held its own next to the likes of Jo Nesbo’s THE THIRST.

You may also like

CARMEN AMATO

Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.

 

Taxes and the Mystery Author: Winners and Losers

Taxes and the Mystery Author: Winners and Losers

In May I will celebrate my fifth year as a published author. For most of that time I was what the IRS would term a “hobbyist” but in April 2016 I embraced full-time authordom. Here were my priorities:

  • Publish AWAKENING MACBETH, the romantic thriller that I’d written years ago and serialized in 2015.
  • Polish this website, both to boost my author branding and to hone my online skills.
  • Position the Detective Emilia Cruz series as one that deserves shelf space alongside international mysteries like Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole Series, Donna Leon’s Guido Brunetti series, and Martin Cruz Smith’s Arkady Renko series.

The taxing reality

As I printed out receipts for the accountant, the year’s wins and losses stared me in the eye:

WINS

Signed an option contract with a major US network for a Detective Emilia Cruz television show. I don’t know if it will become reality; the operative word is “option.” The validation felt good for a couple of days but my glass remains half empty until something actually happens.

Appeared on NPR’s Alt.Latino show to talk about Latino mystery authors and the music soundtrack to the Detective Emilia Cruz series. It was an awesome experience and host Felix Contreras will forever be in my personal Hall of Fame for the opportunity.

Steadily rising newsletter readership. The Mystery Ahead newsletter gives readers solid information and entertainment, as well as letting them know about my books. Mystery readers and writers get protips, books reviews, interviews with authors and bloggers, and more.

The website, after an unwise flirtation with Genesis and a web design studio with sketchy notions of customer service, looks polished, professional, and informative. And I did it all myself. I’ve defined my signature color, created a classic logo, and add more content every week. The framework is Divi by Elegant Themes.

Rebranded the Detective Emilia Cruz series with new covers drenched in the sunny colors of Mexico. Graphic designer Matt Chase has been incredible to work with. The new covers helped refine branding across social media platforms and the new Mystery Ahead newsletter.

Detective Emilia Cruz series

Rebranded THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO with a new cover in keeping with the romantic suspense genre. It is the book’s third cover in five years and I love it.

The hidden Light of Mexico City

LOSSES

Advertising that didn’t show results. Only advertising that specifically hits targeted readers, like BookBub, is worth the money. No more generic “Book of the Day.”

Paying for a book cover for AWAKENING MACBETH through a 99Designs.com contest. The winning graphic artist either did not understand directions or for other reasons couldn’t deliver everything. I didn’t have the skill to replicate the cover design and wasn’t going to pay someone else to redo it. I ended up using a different cover consistent with the new cover of THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY.

Big ticket literary reviews—my jury is out. Pricey literary reviews are useful for quotes and to fill that space on your Amazon sales page. But quality can be inconsistent. The Kirkus Review for KING PESO (Emilia Cruz #4) was worth it, with telling insights into character, action, and setting. On the other hand, the Kirkus Review of AWAKENING MACBETH was merely an inaccurate and dull synopsis.

As if the review wasn’t enough of a disappointment, the debut of AWAKENING MACBETH, which contains my most imaginative and inventive storyline, was a mess. The Kindle file became corrupted not once, but twice, and the launch fizzled. I lost interest and went back to work on the next Detective Emilia Cruz. I feel bad about that.

Marketing mindset

My mental transition from hobby writer to professional author is still a work in progress.

I’m fairly introverted and reaching out in marketing mode is hard. Don’t get me wrong. I love answering emails from readers, chatting on Facebook, trading pins on Pinterest, and receiving invitations. I’m an accomplished public speaker and a good guest who does her homework.

But I’m squeamish about making the first move. When it comes to asking for reviews, guest appearances, or signing up to give a talk . . . well, I’d much rather sit in Peet’s Coffee and write another scene or a blog post or something for the Mystery Ahead newsletter.

Speaking of, the next edition of Mystery Ahead comes out 19 March. Use the form at the bottom to subscribe and you’ll also get a free copy of the Detective Emilia Cruz Starter Library.

Now go do your taxes.

 

MORE INSIGHTS

 

Book Review: THE GUILTY DIE TWICE by Don Hartshorn

Book Review: THE GUILTY DIE TWICE by Don Hartshorn

THE GUILTY DIE TWICE offers a memorable cast of characters, two pivotal crimes, lots of deliciously grubby political machinations, and both sides of the death penalty argument. The writing is both fluid and precise, without (thankfully) lots of legal jargon. The...

read more

 

Subscribe

FYI: Carmenamato.net uses Amazon Affiliate links.

Leighton Gage’s Legacy

Leighton Gage’s Legacy

On Wednesday, 13 May, Facebook reminded me that it was Leighton Gage’s birthday. I found the reminder somewhat disturbing.

Salute to a Pioneer

Disturbing, because fellow mystery author Leighton Gage passed away some time ago. I never met him, but respect him tremendously as a pioneer. His was the first commercially successful mystery series I encountered with a Latino central character.

Chief Inspector Mario Silva is Brazilian.

Not American. Not British.

book coverrelated post: Book Review: Blood of the Wicked by Leighton Gage

At the point I read an article about the series, and rushed out to get the first Chief Inspector Silva book, I was still smarting over advice received from an Important Author who assured me that a book in which all the characters were Mexican would never sell.

Huh.

related post: Why Write a Book About Mexico

RIP, Social Media

Facebook wants me to celebrate Leighton Gage’s birthday. Goodreads wants me to suggest books to him.

The social media machinery doesn’t know when we have passed away. On one hand, this reassures me that we are not yet robots; embedded into social media so much that it knows our every move, every thought, every hope and dream.

But on the other, it is as if our lives never stop. Without being able to log in one last time and cancel an account, our personas last forever inside The Great Web.

Memory trumps machinery

So much for Great Thoughts on life and social media. I choose to regard Facebook’s prompt as a gentle reminder of a great mystery author, who if he got the same advice I did, chose to ignore it.

We never met, but his choice unlocked a door and made all the difference to me.

You may also like

CARMEN AMATO

Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.

 

The Elusive Charms of Productivity

The Elusive Charms of Productivity

I’ve been reading the blog of James Clear, a life coach and productivity expert. While I mostly agree that productivity is all about Me, I also think it’s all about Them.

Where for art thou, Productivity?

Clear gives great advice on how to live a richer life and enjoy the ride as you journey toward your goals, which I soak up like a sponge. As a mystery author, it is easy to lose sight of why I started writing in the first place and instead focus on sales numbers, useless comparisons with other (invariably more clever and successful) authors, and what I’m doing wrong (no marketing acumen) instead of what I’m doing right (creating memorable characters and stories that resonate and entertain).

Clear’s advice on productivity is thoughtful and practical. But he’s not the only one. There are oodles of tips for authors looking to maximize their time: write 1000 words a day, use these writing prompts, set a timer to take a break every 45 minutes because you’ll work like the dickens before the break.

But progress on the next Emilia Cruz novel, KING PESO, is merely crawling along. With all this great advice out there, why isn’t my productivity through the roof?

Maybe it’s not about me at all.

The Therapy Chair

For years, I wrote in the spare bedroom. The room featured a desk, a computer, and a pull out sofa. The kids were small and my writing time was limited to weekend mornings when Dad kept them busy.

When we moved, the new guest room featured two twin beds. The bed closest to my desk was a magnet for the kids as they made their way through elementary, then middle school. They’d lay back and talk about everything; teachers and homework and dogs.  They jokingly called it “the therapy bed.”

Another move and I gained a proper writing office, albeit with only enough space for an extra chair. It was promptly dubbed “the therapy chair.”

Over the years, I spent hours at the computer, hands in my lap, mystery plots replaced by conversations about teen romances, crazed teachers, and American TV shows the kids were missing because we lived overseas. The doctor was in.

Of course I don’t begrudge that time with my kids, and think those conversations helped them both to be the college honor students they are today. Could I have written more without that therapy chair? Possibly. But I would have missed the important stuff.

The most fascinating person in the world

Sometimes it is hard to be productive because you’re just too fascinating. Everybody wants to be with you. Talk to you. Have some of your glitter rub off on them.

Fellow scribbler Deb Nam-Krane wrote a short but brilliant list of why productivity can be so elusive and gave me permission to reprint it here:

1. If you want to convert Night Owls to Morning People, just start waking up really early (like 4:30 AM early) so you can work out, wash the dishes and get some writing in. This will ensure that everyone else will start waking up early, too, no matter how quiet you are. Because you are the most fascinating person ever.
2. Take advantage of every second of Adult Alone Time you have if you’re trying to be productive in ways that require concentration; otherwise you’ll be trying to get things done while two of your children are chatting in your room. Never mind that Every. Other. Room. in the house is unoccupied. Because, again, you are the most fascinating person ever.
3. The best way to get people to stop complaining about things you do and decisions you make is to put them in your shoes. It might take a long time, but it works.
4. Laundry is always there for you, just like the dishes.
5. Don’t waste energy resenting that you have to clean up after people who technically should be able to clean up after themselves. Just do it for your own survival– and then start throwing away anything of theirs you find in a place you disapprove of.

You can read more of Deb’s clever observations on life and writing on her blog: http://writtenbydeb.blogspot.com/

Productivity goes to the dogs

The therapy chair was semi-retired when the kids went to college.

But then we got a puppy.

A killer attack voodoo puppy. Or for the layman, a Belgian Malinois from a breeder who sells to Navy Seals.

While we lived in Mexico, our big dogs thwarted more than one robbery. When it was time for another dog, we knew we wanted one that could keep our home safe no matter where we live.

Well, the home is now safer than Fort Knox. The dog is slowly becoming a good citizen, as long as you aren’t the pizza delivery guy, the mailman, or other intruder with evil intent. Training takes time. Plus there are toys to destroy, endless trips to the back yard to investigate the woodpile, walks to get used to her new urban setting, and an insatiable need for belly rubs.

Hmm. Maybe productivity is overrated.

2016 update

The killer voodoo puppy passed away and we now have a charming lab-shepherd-beagle-boxer mix. The kitchen sink could be in his bloodline, too. He has become my faithful companion, snoozing on my feet as I write. With him around, we’ll never need a therapy chair again.

You may also like

CARMEN AMATO

Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.

 

Carmen Amato at Spring Hill

Top Secret(s) for You

The Mystery Ahead newsletter gives you exclusive news & behind-the-scene content every other Sunday. Subscribe today!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest