Interview with the Author: Amy Beth Arkawy on Dead Silent

There is a lot going on today!  First, please visit for a Ramblin’ review from Laura of TIARA TROUBLE–be sure to browse her blog because she’s got a litany of great books listed.  An amazing review that made me fly around the living room (because this is the review I’ve been sweating!) is up on Chick Lit Plus.  I was out of touch this weekend, helping my mom, so I wasn’t able to post about the 4-Star review and giveaway over on Books ‘n Kisses.  Please visit them today, too, because the giveaway is still on!

I will also be visiting with Amy Beth Arkawy on her blogtalk radio show today at 12 EST.  Amy Beth is a fellow Cozy Cat author, and we’ll be talking about cozy mysteries and whatever else sounds like good fun.  And in that spirit, I’d like to introduce you to Amy Beth, author of Dead Silent.

About Dead Silent:

It’s summertime, and in Goodship, New York, the living is anything but easy. Controversial radio shock jock Paul Hackett is found strangled to death with his headphone cord around his neck in the studio of local radio station WSHP. There’s little evidence beyond the initials V.O.S. scrawled across the studio window in red lipstick and a list of suspects that could easily fill the Goodship phone book. And that’s not all. Eliza Gordon, former soap star turned local soup aficionado and amateur sleuth and her pal and unwitting snooping partner radio DJ Midge Sumner must contend with in Dead Silent, the second in author Amy Beth Arkawy’s Eliza Gordon Mystery series. The locals are also on edge thanks to the rumors rolling across The Goodship Grapevine, a new toxic gossip site, and bemused by flyers heeding folks to follow an enigmatic cult known as “The Quiet.” Eliza’s instincts have her searching for clues and connecting the mysteries together, but they also put a strain on her burgeoning romance with Tom Santini, Goodship’s dishy police chief (who also happens to be her late husband’s best friend). The sudden reappearance of her elusive playboy brother-in-law, Jonas Gordon, sparks unexpected feelings in Eliza and may hold the key to connecting the mysteries and solving Hackett’s murder. Join Eliza Gordon and sidekick Midge Sumner as they embark on this intriguing and dangerous sleuthing escapade. Will they solve the mystery or wind up Dead Silent?

Amy Beth Arkawy
Amy Beth Arkawy

Amy Beth Arkawy is the author of Killing Time: An Eliza Gordon Mystery (Hen House Press). Her story “Dangerous Appetites” is featured in the collection, Fiction Noir, also by Hen House Press. She is also the author of several plays including: Psychic Chicken Soup (McLaren Comedy Award nominee); Full Moon, Saturday Night; Listening to Insomnia: Rage Amongst Yourselves; Crazy Vivian Doesn’t Shop at Bloomie’s Anymore; The Lost Mertz and The Postman Always Writes Twice. Her work has been produced in New York City and across the country and featured in several anthologies.

Amy Beth is also a creativity coach/writing teacher, freelance journalist and radio talk show host. She is the Arts & Entertainment Editor for the popular website News Junkie Post and writes the Radio Graffiti and Scribbler’s Folly blogs. Her film/TV reviews and political commentary are featured on PopNet and other outlets.

A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, Amy Beth was awarded a Master of Fine Arts Fellowship at the University of Massachusetts and earned her M.S. in Mental Health Counseling from Long Island University.

The Outside Lane: How did you get started writing?

Amy Beth Arkawy:  I’ve always loved stories.  As a little girl, my dad regaled me at bedtime with colorful tales from Winnie the Pooh to Amelia Bedilia  and I made up little stories and skits to entertain my sisters and friends. I actually wrote my first two (VERY short) books from a kit my mom bestowed upon me at seven or eight. And when I got to high school an inspiring English teacher recognized my talent and encouraged me to nurture it. In college, at Sarah Lawrence I was privileged to study with such literary luminaries as Alan Gurganus and Russell Banks. In fact, the first story I ever sent out was a finalist in the Redbook Young Writer’s Contest. Pretty heady stuff for nineteen.  Of course, I’ve amassed my share of rejections and taken a few detours, the most joyous being my misadventures in Marconi’s box. Radio, too, is a great place to tell stories. Along the way I have also been a freelance journalist, playwright and trained as a psychotherapist and now work as a creativity coach and writing teacher.

TOL: Where do your ideas come from?

ABA:   It’s hard to say. Characters and stories are always rumbling around in my head. The one that screams the loudest, comes through the most clearly, is the next one that needs to be told. Before Eliza Gordon  ever entered my psyche I was playing around with the idea of doing a mystery series. I had never really done one before, but certainly read a bunch and thought it would be a fun genre to try. At some point,  Soup Opera, the little café that Eliza runs came into my head. And I guess it made sense that an ex-soap star would run such a place. Then Eliza emerged with her back story, which continues to unfold organically, along with her sidekick Midge Sumner and the rest of the Goodship crowd.

TOL:  What was your greatest Learning Experience from your first release?

ABA: I guess I learned just how daunting marketing and promoting a book can be. And like many writers I prefer the actual writing. But I do want people to discover and read my books so the efforts are essential to success. Perseverance is key.  And networking with other writers and readers through social media makes the journey less treacherous.

TOL:  What’s coming up next for you?

A: Much to Eliza and Midge’s chagrin, I’ve just started working on a psychological thriller. But I’m sure they’ll get at least one more turn to solve a murder in the third Eliza Gordon mystery.

TOL:  Do you have any advice for writers?

AA: the oldest advice is the best: if you want to be a writer you have to write. Every day. No excuses. And read everything you can that sparks your imagination. Experiment with different genres. If you‘re already out of school and feel isolated, join a writers’ workshop. It’s a great place to garner feedback and keep you accountable to a writing schedule. It’s amazing what you can actually produce with a deadline looming. But whatever you do: always cultivate your own voice and hone your own style.

TOL:  How did you come to Cozy Cat Press?

ABA: I was searching for a new home after my original publisher, Hen House Press which released the first Eliza Gordon mystery, Killing Time back-burnered new releases-, when I came across an article about Patricia Rockwell and her burgeoning little company. I sent off my Dead Silent manuscript and she offered me a contract on my birthday! Talk about a great present—and a good omen.

TOL:  That is a great omen.  Amy Beth, thank you so much for being with us today!

For more information about Amy Beth, visit her website at, and follow her on Twitter at @abwrites.  Also, remember to tune in to her radio show every Monday.  Always something interesting going on there!

Interview With the Author: The Fast Lane

It’s here!  It’s that day!  The official launch date of TIARA TROUBLE!  Yay!  Wahoo!  Woo!  *confetti*

Kate Eileen Shannon has a review on her blog, Rantin’, Ravin’ and Reading–she calls TIARA TROUBLE “criminally funny”, and there is an excerpt up on Lavender & Camomile Press.  Check out both blogs for even more reading goodness.

Right now, though, for Author Monday…How exciting is this?!  I get to interview myself.

Lane Buckman and her little prince.
Lane Buckman and her little prince.

So a little bit about me.  I’m Lane Buckman, and I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember.  My first major work was some decent tabloid journalism, cataloging bits of information I had overheard at an adult’s party, carefully transcribed and hand copied, and delivered to the doorsteps of all pertinent neighbors.  I expected they would be thrilled to find themselves included in my fledgling newspaper.  Thus, I learned all about bad reviews at the age of 7.  My mother fired me from my own tabloid, and I went to work on a novel about a duck who goes into land development.  Thus, I learned all about the importance of writing from a perspective you actually understand at the age of 8.  (and the importance of having a good book cover.  Ducky Wonder was done with glitter.  it was beautiful.)

Tiara Trouble is my first cozy mystery, and I could not be happier to present it to you.  Without further adieu, here is me, interviewing me.


The Outside Lane:  Lane, how did you come to writing?

Lane Buckman:  I come from a long line of story tellers.  It was just natural that I start telling my own.  Since I can remember, my parents and grandparents have been entertaining me with fact and fiction, and now I do my best to entertain others.

TOL:  How do you craft your ideas to build a novel?

LB:  I’m not very organized.  I roll things around in my brain, working them like a puzzle until they fit.  When that last piece clicks into place, I write like a monkey on crack.  I do use Scrivener to list out my characters.  I am terrible with continuity and have to keep notes so I don’t end up writing about 1946 when it’s really 1972.  Otherwise, it’s scraps of papers with notes, napkins with bubble charts, and emails sent to myself with ideas.

TOL:  What’s been the biggest learning experience of your first release?

LB:  The amount of marketing required has been staggering!  It’s really funny because you labor so long and hard to produce a book, and it’s really like childbirth.  Then, you have your book in your hands and, just like your child, you still have to raise it.  Calling and setting up author events is a bit like trying to get your child into that super exclusive play group.  You want what is best for your baby, and you work to get it.

TOL:  What are your plans for your next novel?

LB:  I am finishing up the second Destinee novel, Miss Mayhem.  Right now, that’s the only goal I have.  December 31.

TOL:  What advice do you have for writers looking to be published?

LB:  Find a good editor.  I really believe that having Arwen Bicknell edit Tiara Trouble for me made the difference in how quickly it sold.  It certainly made the difference in how proud I was to show it.  Thank  you, Arwen!  I was also extremely fortunate to have Darice Moore and Nancy Wardle doing simultaneous tertiary edits after Arwen had taken two go’s at it.

TOL:  What is your best advice for published authors who are trying to market their work?

LB:  Have your sales pitch ready.  Marketing is just a different sort of querying.  Expect to be called upon to tell bookstores why they should have you, your book, your bookmarks in their stores–be ready to tell them why you, your book, your bookmarks are awesome, special, and why they will make the store some money.  Above all, be gracious.  Be extremely gracious.

TOL:  How did you come to your publishing house?

LB:  I pulled lists of agents and publishers who were interested in cozy mysteries, and I started working my way down the lists deciding which ones best matched my work.  Then, I started to query.  Patricia Rockwell, the managing editor and owner of Cozy Cat Press contacted me and the rest is lovely history.

TOL:  Lane, thank you so much for being with us today!  You are delightful, and brilliant, and your hair smells like love.  What is the best way for readers to contact you?

LB:  Thank you!  This is my favorite blog.  I come here every day.  Readers can find me  on Facebook, Twitter, and can email me at lane (at) theoutsidelane (dot) com .

Buy TIARA TROUBLE on Amazon here.

Buy TIARA TROUBLE at Barnes & Noble here.

Interview With the Author: Stephen Kaminski’s Dabbling Detective

In today’s Interview With the Author, we are talking to Stephen Kaminski, another of my fellow Cozy Cat friends.

Stephen Kaminski
Stephen Kaminski

STEPHEN KAMINSKI is the author of the Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series published by Cozy Cat Press. The first cozy mystery in the series, IT TAKES TWO TO STRANGLE, was the winner of the 2012 Reader Views Literary Award for the Mid-Atlantic region. He has just released the second offering in the series, DON’T CRY OVER KILLED MILK.  Stephen is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Law School. He has practiced law for over a decade and currently serves as General Counsel to a national non-profit organization. He is a lifelong lover of all types of mysteries and lives with his wife and daughter in Arlington, Virginia.

DON’T CRY OVER KILLED MILK brings Damon Lassard back into action.  Jeremiah Milk lived a life filled with emotional extremes. Amniotic band syndrome—a congenital condition—left his fingers and toes malformed. Ridiculed as a child, he became an adolescent hermit. As an adult, Jeremiah’s wounds healed when he landed a position as a park ranger and married a woman who loved him despite his physical appearance. But fate ripped his life to shreds when his wife and infant son died on the same night in separate calamities. Shortly thereafter, the tides turned once more as an act of Jeremiah’s ostensible benevolence translates into a financial boon. The book on Jeremiah’s life closes without mercy when he’s found murdered at Tripping Falls State Park.

Damon Lassard—Hollydale’s loveable civic leader, amateur sleuth, and Jeremiah’s neighbor—springs into action. He’s obstructed by a prickly lieutenant, but wriggles information unknown to the police from a colorful bevy of suspects. Aided by his best friend Rebecca and his reluctant ally Detective Gerry Sloman, Damon engineers a deep dive into Jeremiah’s past to solve the crime. Along the way, Damon strengthens his relationship with the breathtaking Bethany Krims, cracks a local horticultural mystery, and tries in vain to tame his wickedly sarcastic mother.


The Outside Lane:  How did you get started writing:

 Stephen Kaminski:  I began writing in earnest when my wife decided to go back to school in the evenings for her PhD. After we put our daughter to bed, she spends several hours on her school work. So I decided to fulfill a lifelong dream and write mystery novels so we could spend those evening hours together (like nerds on our computers side-by-side).


TOL:  Where do your ideas/main character come from? 

SK:  The ideas for my books come in large part from my life. While the stories are not tied directly to life events, the characters and settings are those with which I’m familiar. For example, in my first cozy mystery, It Takes Two to Strangle, a large part of the book takes place at a traveling carnival. I spent several summers during my youth working at such places (from manning the balloon darts to hawking corn dogs).  In my second book, the victim is afflicted with a congenital condition similar to my own.


TOL:  What’s been the biggest learning experience of your first release?

SK:  The most significant learning experience from my first release took place in the writing phase. My first manuscript was far too long and the pace of the book too slow. Working with Cozy Cat Press, I whittled it down about 30,000 words and sped up the pace. While writing the second book in the series, I found my plot moving along much more quickly.  In addition, I learned a lot about writing snappy dialogue and post-release marketing.
TOL:  What are your plans for your next novel?
SK:  The second book in my Damon Lassard series has just been released. I have begun plotting a third – hopefully for release in the fall of 2014.


TOL:  Any advice for writers?

SK:  My advice for new writers is to keep pressing forward.  Finish a draft, have others review it, edit it repeatedly, then submit it with a very thick skin (even the best of manuscripts will be rejected repeatedly). But most of all, write because you love creative writing. If others eventually read and enjoy what you’ve written, that’s just gravy.


TOL:  How did you come to Cozy Cat Press?

SK:  Through perseverance. After I finished the original manuscript for It Takes Two to Strangle, I submitted it to numerous agents and publishing houses as a general mystery.  It was Patricia Rockwell — the head of Cozy Cat Press – who recognized that my manuscript had a cozy mystery trapped inside. Working with her, I transformed the book (and now the series) into a true cozy.


Stephen, thank you so much for taking time to be with us today!  To learn more about Stephen and his books, follow these links.

Amazon link to Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk

Amazon link to It Takes Two to Strangle

Author’s website:

Interview with the Author: Swinging by a Silk with Barbara Jean Coast

I want you to read everything that follows with a mental martini in hand, your most fabulous frock or dinner jacket, and some Dean Martin playing in the background.  This post is to introduce you to Barbara Jean Coast, author of the Poppy Cove Mysteries, rather, to introduce you to Andrea Taylor & Heather Shkuratoff, the best-friends-since-childhood writing team behind Barbara Jean Coast and Poppy Cove’s silky style.

I was hoping to have STRANGLED BY SILK finished in time to add a review to this post, but (as usual) I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, so pleasure reading is taking a backseat to freelance writing work.  What I can tell you is that from the start of STRANGLED, I was smiling over the style.  I am really looking forward to being able to sit down and sink into the atmosphere.  Until then, I am enjoying Barbara Jean’s Facebook page, where she posts witticisms and wisdom daily.  Things like, “I was tickled when he told me I was the apple of his eye until I saw how many trees he was harvesting!” and “If ‘happy’ only lasts one hour, you’re going about it all wrong” and “Fancy soaps and clean towels make guests feel welcome. Now you know what to do when you want them to leave!”

You get the idea.  The Poppy Cove stories are set in the fictional town of Santa Lucia, loosely based on Santa Barbara in the late 50′s, early 60′s and revolve around the glamorous comings and goings of the social set of the town, with a little murder and mayhem thrown in for good measure.

Definitely check out Barbara Jean Coast and Poppy Cove!  They are my fellow Cozy Cat friends, and have already shot up to the most recommended for Kindle in the cozy mystery ranks.

The Outside Lane:  How did you get started writing?

Andrea Taylor:  Since childhood, my imagination was working overtime.  As soon as I could hold a pencil, I was putting my ideas on paper.  There was a great joy in making up stories, games and play-acting.

Heather Shkuratoff:  I have always been an avid reader of every genre, but I’m especially fond of cozies.  I like the way they create worlds and characters in a bucolic fashion that make a person want to know the people and visit the places.  The idea for the Poppy Cove Mystery Series felt like that kind of story of place and time that wanted to be told.

TOL:  Where do your ideas come from?(Or, more specifically, where did your series’ main character come from?)

HS:  I have a background as professional dressmaker and seamstress, even ran my own shop years ago.  Shortly after I decided to close up shop, I approached Andrea about the idea of a cozy mystery based on a design atelier and the people who frequented it.  She liked it and within a few hours we were brainstorming.  She really caught on to the basic concept and had some great descriptions of the main characters and plot lines, while I focused more on clothing details and place descriptions.  The more we talked, the more we felt we were on to something.

AT:  My ideas about our main characters for STRANGLED BY SILK (the first in our series) came from what I imagined two, young independent women of that time period to ideally be.  I also knew that the characters needed to be distinctive from one another.  Margot’s the cool, calm and creative intellectual.  Daphne’s the sporty, fun-loving quick thinker.  As the series goes on, we’ll all learn more about what makes these two girls tick and click.

TOL:  What’s been the biggest learning experience of your first release?

AT:  For me, the biggest learning experience I have had with the release of our first book is juggling and balancing between writing, promoting and living.

HS:  I agree.  Before when we were just writing the first book, that’s all we were doing in the course of the series.  Now, we’re working on the second, keeping track of notes for series consistency, marketing and promoting the first book and still looking (and occasionally finding!) time to have a life.  All in all, we’re pretty lucky and happy.  There are certainly worse problems to have!

TOL:  What are your plans for your next novel?

AT:  For our next book in the Poppy Cove Mystery Series we are bumping off a beauty queen!  Also, we’re introducing some new characters to the Santa Lucia canvas as well as bringing back the cast from STRANGLED BY SILK who are still alive to add in all the delightful background story lines and details.

HS:  It starts a few weeks after the first novel with the fall fashion show at the Santa Lucia Charity Ball, held at the Yacht Club where Nora Burbank, Miss Santa Lucia, is the darling of the show.  Things go terribly, terribly wrong for her shortly after that.

TOL:  Any advice for writers?

AT:  My advice for writers is to love the story your are telling, be patient, have perseverance and just keep writing.

HS:  Yes, keep writing!  Do your research and craft your words.  Above all, enjoy the process and get lost in your own world.

TOL:  How did you come to Cozy Cat Press?

AT:  We found Cozy Cat Press online, read an interview with Patricia Rockwell and were comfortable with the idea of this being the right home for our series.  We sent off a query and manuscript as we were doing with various presses, and when an invitation for a contract arrived, not only was it exciting, it felt like it was the right fit.

HS:  We were very grateful for the opportunity and really glad that we signed on.  There was a quiet knowing under the excitement, that sense of something that’s meant to be.  We’ve had great support and met such talented, interestingly diverse fellow authors that have been very helpful and nice people to boot!

Facebook:  “Friend” Barbara Jean Coast & “Like” Poppy Cove Mysteries

Andrea and Heather, thank you so much for being with us on The Outside Lane!