Welcome to Sunday and you know what that means, AUTHOR OF THE WEEK! Starting in March, I am moving this segment to Mondays so I can work on my SIX SENTENCE SUNDAY and some other goodies that I am working on.
I am also going to be hosting ROCK STAR WEDNESDAY and I will be letting you in on a backstage pass into the lives of some awesome musicians!
They are calling for snow here today in Maryland but it isn’t supposed to amount to very much, thank goodness.
Today I am hosting mystery writer Joyce T. Strand and I hope you enjoy meeting her! She is a very intelligent and talented author who will take you into the world of Jillian Hillcrest.
I hope you have a great day and thanks so much for stopping by to say hello! 🙂
~AUTHOR OF THE WEEK~
Today I would like to introduce you to the lovely and talented mystery writer, JOYCE T. STRAND!
Much like her fictional character, Jillian Hillcrest, served as head of corporate communications at several biotech and high-tech companies in Silicon Valley for more than 25 years. Unlike Jillian, however, she did not encounter murder. Rather, she focused on publicizing her companies and their products. Joyce received her Ph.D. from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C. and her B.A. from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA.
Joyce is the author ON MESSAGE which is the first book in the JILLIAN HILLCREST MYSTERY SERIES
“Murder intrudes on Jillian Hillcrest’s routine as head communications executive at a small Silicon Valley biotechnology company. She is eagerly staying “on message” to inform investors, the media, and the community about her company, Harmonia Therapeutics, and its latest drug candidate in Phase 2 clinical trials for the difficult-to-diagnose and treat autoimmune disease, lupus. When someone near to her is murdered, a determined San Francisco police inspector involves her in the investigation, convinced she is key to solving the crime. She co-operates fully only to find that solving a murder is more hazardous than writing press releases. On Message is the first of a series of Jillian Hillcrest mysteries. “
I had the pleasure recently of interviewing Joyce and getting to know her a lot better! She offers some very good advice for writers and like her, I enjoy listening to people. It really helps me with my character’s dialogue. I am excited for her and look forward to more of her books in the series!
1.) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I have always enjoyed writing – in junior high I realized that I prefer essay questions to multiple choice, and I always chose writing papers over taking exams. When I searched for my first job, “writing skills” were at the top of the list of my selling points. I spent more than 25 years in a career that required writing, such as, 100s of press releases, by-lined articles, white papers, SEC filing documents, speeches, etc. I discovered that writing could be therapeutic.
However, I decided to become a writer of my own fictional novels with my own plots – as opposed to corporate promotion — approximately a year and a half ago. I was unsuccessful at finding a job, and was not happy about it. My husband suggested that I write mysteries – since I like them so much. Seemed like a good idea. So I started to write the first Jillian Hillcrest mystery. Then I attended the La Jolla Writers Conference where I listened to authors, publishers, agents and others involved in the publishing world. That’s when I really decided that I wanted to be a writer.
2.) What type of genre do you write in?
The Jillian Hillcrest series is current day mystery/suspense. Next I plan to write historical mystery/suspense.
3.) What inspires you to write in this genre?
Bottom line: I really enjoy reading mysteries. It is usually clear who the good guys are, and usually they win. I like solving the puzzles to help them win, being kept in suspense, and meeting the hard-nosed private detectives, lawyers and cops in the Connelly, Patterson, Grisham, Baldacci books; or the amateur sleuths like Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Miss Marple and the more modern, less innocent Lisbeth Salander. I find these books entertaining and usually I even learn something from them. But mostly I really like solving the puzzle so that the bad guys get caught.
4.) Where do you get your ideas for your writing?
I get my ideas for the Jillian Hillcrest mystery series from two sources: (1) real cases in the news, particularly cases that could impact a PR executive in California and (2) my experiences as a PR executive for 25 years at several high tech and biotech firms.
5.) Who are your favorite authors and why?
My all-time favorite author is James Clavell. Reading Shogun was a unique experience because I actually shared the perspective of historical Japan and what it meant to be a Shogun.
John Grisham – his legal thrillers keep me engrossed, and I appreciate learning about significant issues. I like his characters, particularly in A Time to Kill, The Client and The Pelican Brief. Although not perfect, his protagonists exhibit courage and resourcefulness.
Stieg Larsson’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – couldn’t put his books down; I really appreciated sharing the characters’ perspective of Sweden.
For character, context and well-written literature – Harper Lee’s To Kill Mockingbird is a favorite, and Atticus Finch is a true hero; and John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday have a lot to say about friendship.
6.) In your opinion, what key parts of a story make it great?
(1) Making the reader care about the characters so that we want to engage in their joy, successes, and pain. (2) Providing a predicament that clearly exhibits their character traits as they work to overcome it. (3) Enabling the reader to be part of the story and its characters.
7.) What activities do you do for inspiration?
(1) Read books, blogs, newspapers.
(2) Listen closely to conversations.
(3) Watch and listen to people – at the supermarket, in an emergency, at a performance
8.) Do you belong to any writing communities, or critique groups?
The La Jolla Writer’s Conference
Sisters in Crime
WoMen’s Literary Cafe
9.) Has your work won any awards?
10.) Do you have a day job?
I do some part-time consulting. It would be difficult to write and have a full-time job – especially to self-publish. Marketing a book is time-consuming. I have a lot of respect for authors who have a full time job and write at the same time.
11.) What advice would you give to others who are interested in pursuing a career in writing?
Just do it. Start to write. Then just keep at it. If you have difficulty getting started, create a list of your characters and think about details to describe them. If you start to produce a book or short story, but begin to lose heart, check out a writer’s conference in your area to “feel out” the writer’s world and get a sense of direction – they are typically not expensive, and you can meet lots of people and learn a lot about a writer’s world in just a couple days.
It’s all about perseverance.
12.) What is the title of your upcoming/newly released novel, and where can we find it?
The title of my first Jillian Hillcrest mystery is ON MESSAGE. You can find it anywhere e-books are published, including the Kindle (Amazon.com), the Nook, or I-book. If you want a paperback, go to my web site at http://joycestrand.com Eventually I hope to distribute it more widely as a paperback.
My web site is the hub of all my activities, so the best place to start is there. http://joycestrand.com My e-mail address is email@example.com
You can also keep up to date with what’s happening to Jillian Hillcrest by going to her website and blog: http://jillianhillcrest.com; and http://jillianhillcrest.com/blog
Also, Jillian has her own Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jillian-Hillcrest/134951169919477 Twitter: Joyce Strand@joycetstrand
14.) What is your ultimate goal/dream concerning your writing?
To sell enough books to make house payments!
15.) Any final thoughts?
In today’s world, self-publishing is becoming more common place. It is a viable alternative for new authors. At a minimum, authors need to consider it, and decide which way to publish. When new authors decide to write a book, they also need to learn the business of publishing– the traditional publisher’s route or the self-publishing route. The business of publishing and marketing a book is as critical as writing a book.
~REVIEWS FOR ON MESSAGE~
“There are many wonderful story lines in this book that are beautifully orchestrated to produce a masterpiece. I’m waiting for the next book to see where this author takes Jillian in her corporate and personal life.”
“I could not put this down!
Character development was great, Jillian is fun and awesome, and the knowledge of her profession provides some nice ‘education’ in a new and interesting field, her historic insight provides a nice base.
And the adventure! Pulls the reader in from the start and just does not drop pace!
Love the start, “damn, damn”, and my favorite line has to be the exclamation decrying the lack of vines in California!
Hercule and Ms. Christie, and Philip, I think you’ve all met a wonderful companion in the twenty-first century!”
“I could not put down Joyce Strand’s first book “On Message”! For a new author it kept me hooked just like the Myron Bolitar series by Harlan Coben or the Reacher series by Lee Child. It was easy to picture the locations in San Francisco since Ms. Strand did an excellent job of description without too many mundane details. I lived in the Silicon Valley area; SF was not as familiar to me but I could visualize where Jillian lived and the surrounding areas with all the local eateries. The threads of mystery with the biotech firm and internal company intrigue between executives and potential investors was fantastic. I can’t wait to see how Jillian handles the next situation she steps into… the teaser chapter makes me hope that I won’t have to wait too long to find out.”
ON MESSAGE can be found on Amazon.com Amazon.com
It is also available on iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/on-message/id485047383?mt=11
Thank you so much Joyce for visiting us today. Thank you too for hosting me on your site. It was a blast and I wish you many blessings in life and in your writing career! 🙂
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“When a man is sufficiently motivated, discipline will take care of itself.”
– Sir Alexander Paterson