Sunday, December 13, 2015

Ava mallory, and 'Tis the Sneezin', a cozy mystery

Update on our snow...not good. Although many people are happily running around in December with temperatures some 8 degrees above freezing, rain makes for sad snowmen. We want snow! I am going to have to teach my girls the snow dance...

But let's focus on our featured author, Ava, whose book was released on Dec 12th 2015. Yes! Check your calendar, that book is hot off the presses! Quick, read on, and let me know what you think.

Could you share a little about yourself and what led you to become a writer?
 I'm a mom to four children between the ages of 23 and 10. I was a hospice and dementia care nurse for 20 years prior to putting pen to paper in any serious manner. I'd always written, dreaming of one day becoming a published author. My dream and what I believed was possible (for me) didn't always go hand in hand, so I never let anyone else see what I'd written until self-publishing as we know it now came to fruition. One of the others made the comment about being comfortable writing for an audience of one. Maybe this would have allowed you to share your work earlier, though I believe things happen when they are meant to happen.

In 2014, my marriage came to an end. I needed an outlet to deal with the pain and heartache of that and came upon an article about publishing through Amazon KDP. I dared myself to be brave and to go for it in a big way. That very day, I joined Camp NaNoWriMo and spent the month writing longhand to get words that I intended to publish one day on a page and the rest is history. Good for you!

Do you write full time? How much of your life is set aside for writing?
 In October 2014 I became a full-time writer. Writing time was hit or miss for the first few months while I tried to figure it all out. I failed miserably, but didn't give up completely. I finally had to create a schedule that included dedicated writing time and hours dedicated to all the busy work associated with self-publishing.

I write eight hours per day five days a week. Those five days vary depending on what's going on at home. I write first thing every morning. That means no social media, no emails, no chores, etc. I write for a couple of hours before my youngest wakes up for the day. While he's in school, I split up my day between writing for an hour and tending to household chores and author busy work for an hour. One hour on, one hour off throughout the entire day. My other children are all in college so the only one I have to work around is my youngest. If I don't hit my targeted word count for the week, I make up for it on the weekends with longer writing sessions. Wow, I admire your dedication. I like this, though for now, my poster child for the terrible two's won't let me squeeze in much of any alone time lol.

Could you tell us a little about your novel?
 'Tis the Sneezin' is a companion novella to my A Mercy Mares Cozy Mystery series. Mercy is put in charge of collecting donations for an annual toy drive. The donations take over her house so she rents a storage pod to put them in, but a week later, she's robbed and thousands of dollars worth of toys are gone. With everyone in her small northern California town blaming her for yet another mishap, she has to find the thieves or replace the toys with money she doesn't have.

What lead you to choose a Christmas theme?
 I love Christmas! My fondest memories in life revolve around the holidays. I grew up thousands of miles away from grandparents. Every Christmas we'd travel to see them and extended family. Nothing ever went right, but it was always memorable. Does it ever? I think the important thing is that family came together over the holidays.

Would you take us on a brief tour of your novel and the world you’ve created?
 Mercy is a forty-four-year-old traveling nurse, who is utterly flawed but wonderful in so many ways. She lives in a double-wide trailer, surrounded by quirky characters, most of whom are elderly. She travels the country taking assignment after assignment. Along the way, she finds trouble, but she also finds another piece of herself at every stop. Mercy's world is filled with colorful characters, tender moments and a healthy dose of shenanigans. Ooh! That sounds like a great premise for an ongoing series.

Where does the inspiration for you main character and story come from?
 Mercy Mares is a combination of many of the wonderful nurses I had the pleasure of working with over the years.

What is the message behind the story? Was it something you specifically wrote a story around or did it develop as your characters came to life?
 I wanted to write about a woman that was real on so many levels. Mercy is not model gorgeous, but still beautiful. She's not perfect. Mercy is everything most of us are and more. She does and says things we all have done and/or said.

My goal was to have her be very authentic. She does things that make you want to pull your hair out, but also brings a tear to your eye. I'm learning more and more about her as I write and can't wait to see where her journey will take her. Now that I can appreciate! I write primarily YA, but wrote a novel that told the story of my MC's parents. I told the story of how they met, fell in love and how Tommy  came to be. I was in unfamiliar territory here, writing about adult emotions, so I started reading contemporary romance to see how the others portrayed emotions. My first and strongest response to their choice of heroines was this: Women are not that stupid! That said...I'm all for authentic!

Do you work from an outline or just go with the flow? If you use an outline, how detailed is it?
 I use an outline. Now, I don't always follow it, but I do write out an outline for every book I've written. I write under my own name and two pen names to separate genres. Outlines help me tremendously.

I use Libby Hawker's “Take Off Your Pants” method of outlining. It allows me the freedom to be very detailed when I want to be or to pare it down when I don't need a huge outline. I am going to have to check that out, thanks.

What is the time span in your novel, weeks, months, years? 
 The Mercy Mares series books take place one right after another in terms of weeks or months. With eight books in for this series, readers have spent about eight months with Mercy and her band of misfits.

Could you tell us how you go about your research, how you ‘catalogue’ information to make it all work?
 This series isn't heavy on research. Because I was a nurse for so many years, a lot of the information is stored somewhere behind my grocery list and my unending list of household supplies I need to buy before I die. In all seriousness, if there is something that requires research, I use Scrivener to keep the files. I really have to get serious about Scrivner.

How does this book differ from what you have written in the past?
 As mentioned previously, I write in multiple genres. Cozy Mysteries are the first books I loved to read as a teenager, so I always knew I'd move into that space someday.

They differ in that the stories don't focus heavily on Romance or horrifying details like in Psychological Suspense and other, darker genres. Cozies are light, easy reads. Nice! I have always wondered what the difference was, and now I might venture a little more into reading that genre.

How have the changes in present-day publishing impacted your schedule as a writer?
 I don't know that they've changed how I write because I learned to write professionally during Camp NaNoWriMo. I still write fairly quickly. Often, I can write two novels per month. Editing takes a bit longer, but writing for me goes fairly quickly.

How do you handle marketing? Do you have a plan, a publicist or just take one day at a time?
 I'm a control freak so I do all of my own marketing. It is time-consuming but necessary to keep momentum. I dedicate time every single day to keep the marketing end of things going. I am going to ask you to come back so we can focus on your marketing techniques...if that is OK with you.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
 My biggest advice is to write what you want to write. You are the only thing holding you back. All of the other stuff associated with writing can be learned, but you can't fix what hasn't been written yet.

Could you tell us what you’re working on now?
 I am in the throes of NaNoWriMo now. I'm writing a new Cozy Mystery series to be released in 2016. It's about a reluctant witch and her foibles around learning to embrace her calling. She's a small town twenty-something with a heart of gold and a knack for mishaps. Ha! Now that sounds like fun.

Tagline: Feisty traveling nurse Mercy Mares needs two things in life: a regular paycheck and a band of misfits, prepared to help her solve the mysteries that follow her from coast to coast.


Traveling nurse Mercy Mares is up to her eyeballs in donations for the town's annual holiday celebration. Every nook and cranny of her house and all of her friend's and neighbor's houses are overflowing with gifts for ill children in her local hospital. It's all she can do to keep track of what is what and who is who. 

On the night that she and her merry band of helpers are to deliver these gifts, everything, including gifts she bought for her loved ones, simply disappear without a trace. 

Now, Mercy has to find the thief before those who appointed her this year's Mrs. Claus find out that they're missing and dozens of children are left disappointed. 

Enlisting the help of her reluctant loved ones, Mercy has a humdinger of a mystery to solve in a flash in order to save Christmas. 

This is Volume 7 of the A Mercy Mares Cozy Mystery Series. Each book is a standalone. 


“Well, I never!” The aforementioned rabble-rouser, self-proclaimed Queen of Christmas,  Dorothy Condor exclaimed before removing herself from my line of vision.

I mumbled, “Well, I should hope not! It's not like I asked for any of this. In fact, I wanted nothing to do with this whole debacle. If it wasn't for Charlie and his position, I wouldn't be in this predicament to begin with, so there. How do you like them apples, Dorothy?”

She'd already rounded the corner and huffed off in search of someone who cared. I had enough problems to deal with; I didn't need nor did I want to concern myself with the likes of her. With all the problems springing up out of everywhere, she'd have to wait in line because I may be a little plump in places, but there surely wasn't enough of me to go around – at least not for someone to chew on and spit out, that is.

“What are you mumbling about over here, Mercy? Isn't it bad enough that the whole town thinks you've swindled them? Do you have to make them think you're out of your mind to boot?” Ruby squinted her green eyes at me in that I-told-you-so kind of way.

I pouted, feeling deflated like a discarded Thanksgiving Day parade balloon. I messed up, I know. Having everyone looking at me sideways wasn't going to help matters. What they needed to do was pull together a good old fashioned search party and find the scoundrels who decided that Lake Villa's Christmas celebration needed to come to an end. Those were the real bad guys in this situation, not me. Besides, what did I know about organizing a toy fund drive? I had one child and that child was set to walk down the aisle in a week and go off to have children of her own.

Ruby looked at the furrowed brows of the legion of volunteers and donors. “I hope you have a plan.”

“Me? Plan? I didn't plan to spend Christmas Eve hunting down a bunch of hooligans! I don't think I penciled that in my planner. See my secretary and let's reschedule it for some time after never.” I answered with sarcasm oozing out of every thread of the ridiculous Mrs. Claus getup I'd been roped into wearing for this oh-so-joyous of occasions.

This book has not yet been published so there are no reviews as of yet. It will be released on December 12th.


Book Purchase Link:

Bio: Ava Mallory is a slave to the written word. While some authors have trouble keeping up with one persona, Ava greedily gathers many personas and they converge into what she likes to call her "World Domination Posse". 

Ava writes any and everything from Cozy Mysteries to Psychological Thrillers to Gothic Romance, Paranormal Romance & Romantic Suspense. Never a day goes by when there isn't a new project in the works. Her alter egos are the stuff legends are made of or so she'd like to think.

Currently, when not catering to the needs of her four children or not actively collecting hoards of books to read, Ava is writing the next few books in her new A Mercy Mares Cozy Mystery series and developing two new Cozy Mystery series' for her readers.

Thank you fro stopping by. I will look into your series, it seems like so much fun!

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