Books/blogtour/fiction/writing/authors/interview/crime fiction

Fixed in Writing about Blood

Author Interview: T.E.Woods

The Justice Novels: Fixed in Blood

  1. Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?

I’ve been interested in the notion of justice for a long time. When you think about it, is there really such a thing? If someone has wronged you, can you ever really be made whole? Surely you can be compensated or you can learn to forgive and forget. And certainly you can punish. But once someone has harmed you, you can never go back to that pre-harm moment, can you? You are forever changed.

My curiosity about the notion of justice led me to develop this series. I like the idea of a female avenger. We don’t see much of that…well, there’s Xena, Warrior Princess. I also liked the idea that Lydia is finding her own healing by providing whatever justice she can to others when no one was there for her when she needed it most. I also like the relationship between Mort and Lydia. There’s genuine love there…without the typical romantic side of it. Theirs is a different kind of love…but a love nonetheless.

I think my years as a clinical psychologist give me a unique perspective through which to view my characters. I’ve been told by many that they seem more fully developed than most characters in the murder mystery genre. It’s probably my trained-in tendency to go for the deep, underlying motives of behaviour that allows me to write my characters in what some view as a rich and layered way. Anyway, I hope the readers find it unique.

  1. How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?

I don’t think about things very long at all, actually. If I think something’s a good idea, or if I have a thought as to how to move the plot along, I’ll start writing. I’ll let it develop as I write. There’s an organic side to writing that sounds odd, but really does happen. Once I start writing, the story and the characters lead me along to what should happen next. Now, this style of operation means a lot of words get edited out, but I’d rather capture my ramblings as they’re popping in my head than to overthink and self-edit before my fingers touch the keyboard. Besides, lots of things I’ve edited out wind up finding a place in another story, so the words aren’t really wasted.

Sometimes (often?) I get stuck. For that I use a whiteboard I have mounted to my office wall. I’ll diagram the scene and sit back and look at it…always hoping there’ll be some magical glowing arrow that will appear and tell me where to take the scene. So far, no luck with the magic neon. But if I stare at something long enough, the way out will emerge for me.

  1. How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?

I research as I go. If I get to a point where, say, I need an untraceable poison for my murderer to use, I’ll not research it beforehand. I’ll wait til I’m at the point in the scene and then I’ll look for the answer. Sometimes I’m researching when I’m not even planning to. I might walk into a restaurant or drive by a particularly steep cliff, and realize this would be great to use in a story. I’ll whip out my phone or my tablet, take a few pictures, jot a few notes, and file them away until my writing seems to find a place for them.

My day job (I’m a shrink, remember?) allows me work with incredibly brave people who are working hard to change their lives. I hear stories of abuse and abandonment; urges and obsessions; secrets and shames. It’s hard to un-ring that bell once their experiences have made their way into my awareness. While I would never duplicate a patient’s story in one of my books, I guess you could call my daily exposure to the glories and the darkness of the human condition a sort of research. I’m always amazed when a reader tells me “Oh, that was so entertaining, but of course something like that could never happen in real life”. I want to tell them that I’ve heard countless stories of experiences much more bizarre than the scene I wrote. But, of course, I can’t. But wait, didn’t I just?

  1. What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?

I use the internet incessantly. I tell my husband he’s only allowed to die of natural causes after a well-documented and easily explained illness. Should he perish suddenly and detectives pull the searches from my laptop? Let’s just say the cuffs would be on my wrists faster than butter on popcorn and I’d have some explaining to do. I also use my colleagues. My job has me interacting with social workers, physicians, police, crisis workers…any number of professionals one might imagine would be involved should there be murders or mayhem afoot. They’re quite generous in answering questions like “How does a regular person get in to see someone in prison?” or “Where would a person need to be cut so that they could bleed out in less than thirty seconds?” I also use Google Maps a lot. It’s amazing that I can be sitting in my home office in Madison, Wisconsin, decide Lydia is going to have dinner in some bistro on Whidbey Island, and with a few strokes of the keys learn not only the names of the streets she’d take to get there, but also how long it would take and how many miles she’d travel.  The last two books I’ve written have characters in the Russian Mob. I’m learning all about translator apps. I can type what I want my character to say using English, press “enter”, et voila, the Russian translation instantly appears.

  1. How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?

Like I said, I use my buddies. I’m lucky in that regard. The old cliché is true. Ask someone to start talking about themselves, especially if they love their work, and all you have to do is sit back and listen. I think professionals want authors to get it right, so they’re eager to help if you convince them you’re going to treat their profession respectfully. Sometimes they’ll ask that I use their name for one of my characters. I have no problem doing that. It’s interesting, though. I’ve not encountered one person who wanted me to use their name who asked that I use it for a character in their same profession! Everybody wants their name to be either the powerful millionaire or the bad guy. What’s that tell you about the kind of people I hang with?

  1. How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?

You know how people use grains of sand or stars in the sky to denote big numbers? Let me tell you, a new, probably more accurate, metaphor for gigantic numbers is how many times a writer gets rejected. My agent shopped the first book I wrote to every agent around…big, small, independent, corporate…you name it, she pitched it. So many houses “loved” it. Yet not one of them bought it. Fortunately, I have a bull dog of an agent. She told me to go write another book. I did. She started shopping it around. It took nearly two years and dozens of rejections before Random House bought it. So, if you’re a writer who’s reading this…don’t stop. Don’t give up. A “no” means nothing more than “Not this house, Not this time”. If your writing is strong and your story is good, (and if your agent is a bull dog) you’ll find a home for it.

  1. Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?

Yes. I think that’s a strategy more and more houses are using. Self-publishing has, in my opinion, become somewhat like the minor leagues for the major baseball franchises. If you self-publish and demonstrate you can build an audience and bring in the sales, a major house will be much more inclined to invest in you. But you’ll need to sell big numbers. I’m talking several tens of thousands of self-published books.

  1. Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?

I think first and foremost any writer should get an agent. Let your agent guide you. Let your agent become your champion. He/she knows the business, has the contacts, and knows who’s buying what. If, after your agent has tried his/her damnedest to sell your book and your agent tells you it’s a good book, then go ahead and self-publish. Build those numbers. Give your agent the ammunition he/she needs to go back to the houses that rejected you and convince them they missed an opportunity. Let your agent guide you. Let your agent guide you. Let your agent guide you. Then trust your agent. (In case you haven’t noticed, I’m crazed about my agent.)

  1. Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?

Depends on how you want to live. This is my first series. I’ve got four books out now. That means I’ve got five units on the market: the four books and a boxed trilogy of the first three books. Random House pays me quarterly. I make enough money now to live a VERY simple existence. Did you notice the VERY was in capital letters? I’m hoping, of course, those royalty checks grow and someday I’ll be able to write full time. Nothing would please me more. I love the time I spend writing. I love the marketing. I love hearing from the readers. Alas, at this age and stage of my life, I’m not interested in living a VERY simple existence. I keep my day job. Blissfully, it’s a day job I love. I’m a very lucky woman.

  1. What is the funniest thing that happened to you on a book tour?

I enjoy book tours so much. It’s great to meet the readers and hear what they liked/disliked about the book. There are always funny stories, too. I guess two pop into mind as I think about your question. One is a woman at a signing. You could tell she was a serious reader…and she took her critique of what she reads very seriously. During the Q and A she stood up, nodded to me, and promptly turned to face the audience. She started off on the character of my detective. She went on and on about the symbolism and metaphor he represented. She equated him to various characters in other works ranging from Shakespeare to Voltaire to Hemmingway. At one point she dramatically announced “Even his name…Mort…speaks to the death that surrounds him.” Finally she sat down. I thanked her for her kindness and called on the next person. I simply didn’t have the heart to tell her I’m not that deep. Mort was named when, as I was conceptualizing the book, I sat my husband down and told him I needed a name for my detective. “It should be one syllable,” I said. “Strong and clean.” Without thinking he said “Mort”. And that was that. Of course, he was drinking a can of soda just before he answered. My Mort could have been nothing more than a simple belch.

Another funny thing that occurs to me happened at a book club. One of those “meet the author” kind of things. The group had read my first book (The Fixer) and invited me to come to their meeting. Now, I don’t write cozy mysteries.  At the book club this sweet lady, older by several decades than the other members of the group, waited patiently while the others asked me their questions or shared their comments. Finally this lovely lady raised her hand and said, “You use the fuck word a lot in that opening chapter. I’m not that used to reading the fuck word. I was happy to see the fuck word wasn’t used much throughout the rest of the book, but I was wondering why you felt the need to use the fuck word so often in that first chapter. Aren’t you afraid of turning people like me off?” As she was speaking I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from laughing. I respectfully apologized for any offense she felt and explained that my bad guys talk like bad guys. Like with the first story I told you, I didn’t have the heart to tell her most folks say “the f-word”. I mean, once you say “the fuck word”, you’ve pretty much let the cat out of the bag.

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net galley/book review/crime fiction/Fantasy/fiction

Motorbikers are Wolves in disguise?

Wild Nights with a Lone Wolf


Elisabeth Staab


Netgalley review


Wolves operate in packs and like to do things together. As do werewolves.

They can also be somewhat impulsive and aggressive within the pack and to those outside of the pack. They like to hunt – search, pursue and capture together.

They also need an alpha dog and his mate. This is part of the ‘top dog’ effect. Packs need a leader and the leader must demonstrate strength and ability to dominate.

This means that weres often get into trouble with the law. So much so that some werewolf - Motorbikers are Wolves in disguise?packs find that only illegal jobs or ways of earning a living are available to them.

So some packs become biker gangs trading in drugs and girls. Bikers because the thrill an adrenaline rush of riding a motorbike suits their personalities.

In this book we see a clash between members of a pack where some want to operate within the law and others – the majority – don’t.

A young FBI agent on holiday falls into the centre of this clash accidentally and it changes her life. She goes from prim and proper to enjoying an adrenaline fuelled relationship.

I am not sure that this books adds anything much to this genre. The storyline – good girl meets bad – but reformed guy – and falls for him before she finds out he is reformed, is very common. That said, it was a fairly enjoyable read and reasonably written stylistically.

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humour/knitting/Random and interesting items/Feminism/meaning of life/Older women

Mind Matters and Knitting and Hats

Voltaire says:

Think for yourself and let others enjoy the privilege of doing so too.

I will respect  that not everybody needs to be perfect. Sometime just knitting is enough.

See Knitting Meditations

female magician - Mind Matters and Knitting and Hats

Also Erma Bombeck says:

I have a hat. It is graceful and feminine and gives me a certain dignity, as if I were attending a funeral or something…

So there are 5 reasons to knit a hat:

  1. They are a small project;
  2. A great deal of body heat is lost through the head;
  3. A great hat makes up for a bad hair day;
  4. They knit up very quickly;
  5. Even timid dressers will wear a hat.

streep - Mind Matters and Knitting and Hats


There’s a technicality to designing and wearing hats. A hat is balancing the proportions of your face; it’s like architecture or mathematics.

I have different hats; I’m a mother, I’m a woman, I’m a human being, I’m an artist and hopefully I’m an advocate. All of those plates are things I spin all the time.

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gardens/flowers/London/Random and interesting items/meaning of life

A period of recreation and rest is here:

For those who engaged in gardening for recreation not profit, according to the Gardener’s Almanac. Certainly we are beginning to wind our efforts in my garden, but still our Yellow book (National Garden /scheme) doesn’t happen until mid July, so we need to keep up our efforts and maintain the peak of perfection (!) we have achieved.

According to St Phocas, a gardener from the 3rd century AD the so-called dog days are 3rd July to 11th August and are the hottest of the year. So clearly we need to keep a wary eye on our plants and ensure they are well watered. there is an argument raging about whether you water in the evening or  the early morning – ie about 6am or even 5am if you can get up. I guess it all depends on whether or not you can get a mildew over-night. Just how susceptible are your plants?

When we open again for visits we have decided to open in late May or early June as our garden is really beautiful now. so here are some of our flowers –

white clematis - A period of recreation and rest is here:

White clematis and Bleeding Heart (Dicentra)

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anemone blanda - A period of recreation and rest is here:

Anemone Blanda

art in garden - A period of recreation and rest is here:

Phormium and artwork

begonia and nettle - A period of recreation and rest is here:

crab apple and pear - A period of recreation and rest is here:

Flowering pear and crab apple

fire red perennial wallflower - A period of recreation and rest is here:

Red perennial wallflower

greenfinch - A period of recreation and rest is here:

Elayne Coakes’ urban garden in North London

hellebore double yellow speckled - A period of recreation and rest is here:

hellebore single speckled - A period of recreation and rest is here:

Freckles: winter flowering

hellebore double apricot2 - A period of recreation and rest is here:

the blue have it - A period of recreation and rest is here:

Clematis Wessleton

the new black tulip - A period of recreation and rest is here:

Black Tulip magnolia

the orange contrast - A period of recreation and rest is here:

Orange tulips and Euphorbia









and the roses are coming out too….


you can see more of our flowers on our Facebook page:

and come and see our garden if you are in London on July 5th in the afternoon.

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Soldiers, romance and heroines: Regency stories

The Major’s Faux Fiancée

Oh my – another story about a soldier and a Georgette Heyer heroine. I just adored Heyer when I was younger and read every one of her books.  Now I’m reading a new author: Erica Ridley. She’s interesting indeed if even half of what she says in her bio is true!

Erica Ridley is a USA Today best-selling author of historical romance novels. Her latest series, The Dukes of War, features roguish peers and dashing war heroes who return from battle only to be thrust into the splendor and madness of Regency England.

ericaridley - Soldiers, romance and heroines: Regency stories

When not reading or writing romances, Erica can be found riding camels in Africa, zip-lining through rainforests in Costa Rica, or getting hopelessly lost in the middle of Budapest.







Street Team:

Here are some trivia about her. Does this count as an author interview? I guess it does, but I will try and get more from her another time.

Born: Indiana
From: Florida
Lives: Costa Rica
Dogs or cats? Dogs
Beer or wine? Tequila
If there were no tequila: India Pale Ale
Beach or mountains? Mountains
Football or soccer? Da Bears
Favorite movie genres: Action/Adventure, Comedy
Favorite book genres: Suspense, Thriller, Romance
Favorite pastime: Traveling
States visited: 26
Countries visited: 30
Morning or night person? Morning
Walk or run? Rollerblade
Plotter or Pantser: Storyboard + Scrivener
Apple or Android: Apple
Tea or Coffee: Coffee
Chocolate, light or dark: Yes, please
Meat or veggies? Vegetarian
Favorite foods: Indian, Thai, Italian
Favorite music: All of it
Instruments played: Piano, guitar, violin
Biggest fear: Snow

majorsfauxfiancee - Soldiers, romance and heroines: Regency stories

So here is some info about her latest book due out in June, plus a teaser or two from the book. Sounds quite saucy…

A full review will come out later too.

When Major Bartholomew Blackpool learns the girl-next-door from his childhood will be forced into an unwanted marriage, he returns home to play her pretend beau. He figures now that he’s missing a leg, a faux fiancée is the best an ex-soldier can get. He admires her pluck, but the lady deserves a whole man—and he’ll ensure she gets one.

Miss Daphne Vaughan hates that crying off will destroy Major Blackpool’s chances of finding a real bride. She plots to make him jilt her first. Who cares if it ruins her? She never wanted a husband anyway. But the major is equally determined that she break the engagement. With both of them on their worst behavior, neither expects their fake betrothal to lead to love…

The Major’s Faux Fiancée  is a standalone story in the Dukes of War  regency romance series, featuring roguish peers and dashing war heroes who return from battle only to be thrust into the splendor and madness of Regency England.

Release Date:                                                June 2015

Publisher:                                                       Intrepid Reads

Genre:                                                             Historical Romance

The Dukes of War romance books in Series Order:

#1         The Viscount’s Christmas Temptation                 Nov. 2014

#2         The Earl’s Defiant Wallflower                                Dec. 2014

#3         The Captain’s Bluestocking Mistress                   Mar. 2015

#4         The Major’s Faux Fiancée                                     Jun. 2015

#5         The Brigadier’s Runaway Bride                            Sept. 2015

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