Gayle Trent is a cozy mystery writer who has agreed to answer a few questions for us today. She has two series out: the Daphne Martin Cake Mystery series (written using her own name Gayle Trent) featuring a cake-decorating sleuth, and the Embroidery Mystery series featuring Marcy Singer, an embroidery shop owner living on the Oregon Coast with her Irish Wolfhound Angus. The embroidery series is written under the pseudonym Amanda Lee. She has generously offered to give away a copy of Stitch Me Deadly, the second in her Embroidery Mystery series, to one of you. Just leave a comment and I'll notify the lucky winner here on Plotting It Out on Friday.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading her novel, The Quick and the Thread. Marcy Singer is a fun, full of life character that made me laugh throughout the story and left me wanting more. I’m looking forward to reading more from this mystery writer. Now, let’s meet the author, Gayle Trent and find out how her cozy mysteries came to life.
Thanks so much for having me here! It's a pleasure to have this opportunity to connect with you and your readers.
How and when do you write? Do you keep yourself on a schedule or do you work while the muse is with you?
I have to keep myself on a schedule. Every weekday morning, I check my mail and eat breakfast at my desk while the kids are getting ready for school. I take them to school, come home, and am supposed to exercise. Often I do, but if the house is really messy or I'm under a tight deadline, I'll use that as an excuse not to exercise. Then I write from 9:30 - 11:30. I then take a lunch break and eat and check my mail, Facebook, etc. Then I write from 12:30 until time to go back to school. Other than that, my schedule varies by deadline and flow. For example, if inspiration strikes, I'll work in the evenings or after everyone else has gone to bed. In the summer, that's some of my prime writing time.
Give us a line from one of your books that you personally love.
Can it be more than a line? Here's a scene from Killer Sweet Tooth (coming out in October) that I love:
“You’re going to hurt yourself in those shoes,” I said.
“Nonsense.” She lifted her chin. “I believe the Bible, and it says, ‘He will make me walk on my high heels.’ New King James version.”
“Myra, they didn’t have high heels in Biblical times,” I said.
“It’s the last verse in Habakkuk.” She nodded smugly. “If you don’t believe me, look it up.”
I cannot simply let a challenge like that slide. I went into the bedroom, got my New King James’ version Bible, and returned to the kitchen. I fumbled around until I finally had to look Habakkuk up in the table of contents. Then I flipped to the last verse and read aloud:
The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.
- Habakkuk 3:19
“It says hills,” I said, placing the Bible on the table so both Myra and Juanita could read the verse for themselves. “High hills…like little mountains.”
Myra huffed. “Look down at my dear feet. If these shoes ain’t little mountains, I don’t know what are.”
I love the puzzles presented by mysteries, but I don't think they require a lot of gore and profanity to be absorbing. I'm not currently keeping up with a particular series, but I love Mary Higgins Clark, Dorothy Cannell, Jennie Bentley, and Diane Mott Davidson. I have several others in my TBR stacks, and I'm sure I'm forgetting some wonderful cozy writers.
Do you share any similarities with either of the main characters in your books?
Like Marcy, I love big dogs! We have a Great Pyrenees who loves to lie on your lap! :) And, like Daphne, I rescued a one-eyed gray Persian cat. She was beautiful. And she left us three kittens, two of which we still have. I also enjoy embroidery and cake decorating, but I'm no way near as competent as my respective heroines in those departments.
Which character from your books is your favorite and why?
I love Myra (see the KST excerpt above) because she's just so outlandish and fun. She can get away with anything. I figure if she makes ME laugh, she might make you laugh, too.
How did you come up with the ideas for your books?
It varies by book, although it often starts with me saying, "Wouldn't it be weird if...."
When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Were you interested in mysteries at a young age?
Everything! A spy, a singer, an actress, a detective, one of Charlie's Angels, Nancy Drew, a flight attendant, a journalist.... And, yes, I WAS interested in mysteries. Anyone out there remember the book series The Secret Seven?
Oooh, that's a toughie. If it was one of MY characters, I'd pick Myra. I think we'd have a blast. If it was from someone else's book, I think I'd choose Ranger from the Stephanie Plum series. :)
Would you describe yourself as an introvert or an extrovert?
What are your favorite books to read?
Where is the most unique place you have traveled?
Hawaii. I wanted to stay there.
What would your dream vacation be?
Once again, I'd have to say Hawaii. I'd also like to go to Paris and Belgium.
What secret indulgence do you allow yourself? (i.e. you watch daytime drama, like to sing Karaoke, read bodice busters, etc.)
That's a tough one, too. I eat too much chocolate, but if you look at me, you could tell, so it's not really a secret! The one time I did sing Karaoke, I had a blast.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
I'm a natural-born mimic (it's why I'm decent with languages). One day, I was talking like Prissy from the movie Gone With the Wind to one of my coworkers. I was telling her, "I'm just totin' my weary load." And my uptight, straightlaced boss walked up and caught me! He said in a monotone and without cracking a smile, "That's amusing." ARGH!
What is your greatest regret in your life?
Maybe that I didn't realize soon enough to accept myself the way I am. In fact, I still struggle with it, but I'm kinder to myself these days.
Aside from your successes in the writing industry, what in your life has given you the greatest sense of accomplishment?
My children. They're terrific! I can't take much credit for that, but they bring me so much joy.
How many books have you written and how many of those are published?
Let's see...I've written about 12 novels and novellas, and four are currently in print.
How much character and plot detailing do you plan out before you begin writing a novel, or are you a “pantser”?
A combination of both.
So many that I've blocked those painful memories from my mind, Maureen! :)
How often and when do you write? Are you more creative during certain times of the day? (i.e. morning or night)
I try to write every day while my children are in school. In the summer, I try to write before they get up and after they go to bed. Sometimes at night when everything is still, I'm most efficient.
If you have a new release coming out, tell us about it.
Murder Takes the Cake is coming out March 29. In this book, Daphne Martin is just getting her cake decorating business off the ground when she finds her first client dead. Naturally, folks in a small town are going to think it was her cake that did the old girl in, so Daphne has to discover the real culprit.
Give us a short overview of your book series.
The Daphne Martin Series centers around a Southwest Virginia cake decorator who just turned 40, got out of a bad marriage, and returned to her hometown to basically get a fresh start.
The embroidery mystery series focuses on Marcy Singer, a spunky thirty-something who just opened an embroidery specialty shop in Tallulah Falls, Oregon, down the street from her best friend who owns a coffeehouse.
If you could give one piece of advice to writers trying to get published, what would that advice be?
Don't give up! EVER! You don't know how many times I nearly gave up writing completely.
Where can we read more about you and your work?
What's up next for you and your writing?
Thread Reckoning, the next book in the embroidery series, is due out on August 1. And Killer Sweet Tooth, the next book in the cake decorating series, is due out in October.
Anything else you'd like to share with my blog readers?
Please "like" my FB book page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Gayle-Trent-and-Amanda-Lee-Cozy-Mystery-Writer/123653074333103). For every book, I have a virtual book launch party where I give prizes away all day long!