SM: Today it gives me great pleasure to introduce author Cary Ashby to Sylvia Says. Cary (and no, his surname was never “Grant”) and I met online on one of those David Bowie forums. As we are both diehard Bowieheads, it only made sense that we’d start chatting about our hero, then one thing led to another and we discovered we were both working on novels. Cary was working on his debut novel while at the same time he maintained the very busy role of roving reporter.
Now, before we go any further, readers, being an Aussie I use Aussie spelling in all my blog posts, and being a Yank, Cary uses “U.S.” spelling (so no, you’re not seeing spelling mistakes). Okay, so I can finally welcome Cary. Therefore, without further ado: welcome to Sylvia Says, Cary. It’s such a pleasure to have you featuring on my blog today.
CA: I am quite honored you invited me to be interviewed. Thanks so much! This should be fun.
SM: Before we get into the interview, you may want to tell our readers a little about yourself (just leave out the “real” dirty laundry). LOL. But seriously, aside from the fact that you’re US-based, a reporter, and most importantly, a Bowiehead (like me), what else do you wish to share about yourself?
CA: For the past 16 or so years, I have been a newspaper reporter. I have always covered our local school districts and lately, my focus has been on doing features. Of course, I will write as many A&E (arts & entertainment) stories as my editors will let me. LOL. Since I did the “cops and courts” beat for 12-plus years it’s nice to chip away at and redeem the black parts of my soul. For some extra money, and I do mean a little bit, I also cover high school football and basketball games. In my spare time – and when the motivation hits me – I write op-eds* and reviews about various comic book projects and the related media on my Cary’s Comics Craze blog. So basically, I feel like I write, or should be writing, all the time. And that can be a double-edged sword.
[*Note by SM: meaning of “op-ed” – jargon speak for a newspaper page opposite the editorial page, devoted to personal comments, feature articles, etc.]
I grew up in the beautiful state of Virginia in a VERY small town called The Plains. I earned my B.A. in English with minors in secondary education and music at James Madison University. My plan was to be a band director and/or a high school English teacher. Life took some detours and here I am, where my late mother said I should have been as a back-up plan – working in journalism. Since September, I have returned to singing in the church choir and playing handbells, which has been great for my soul. I live in a lovely little city called Norwalk, Ohio, and it’s a wonderful place to call home.
SM: Life always seems to throw us detours, Cary, and here’s another one for you: I know of many reporters/journalists who have turned to writing books; so what was it that made you turn to novel writing?
CA: It really started with my writers group, which meets once a month. We read our works in progress to each other and get wonderfully constructive feedback.
I hadn’t done any fiction writing in years, so I started out just reading some of my nerdy blog posts. Having been a long-time mystery reader, I realized I always wanted to create my own P.I. or investigator. But it had to be original, not a knock-off of another character.
SM: And this brings us to Colt Maverick. What inspired you to invent this character? Tell us a bit about Colt. What is he all about?
CA: As I said, I wanted my character to be as original as possible. That’s tough when you’re writing mysteries. The name Colt Maverick came to me literally, when I was going to bed. It speaks to his somewhat rebellious nature and the name spoke to me, so suddenly I was ready to go! As an aside, many of my friends and readers say they absolutely love the name Colt Maverick. So if nothing else, I gave him a memorable first and last name.
I couldn’t just have Colt be a P.I., so I made him a retired pro football player who had been a Marine sniper. Colt is a bit full of himself; some of my readers have called him arrogant. Really, all this happened in just what was going to be an experimental scene, but I ended up loving this guy. He’s fun to write, and you just never know what he’s going to do or even say. But, as a P.I., he’s always going to end up pursuing justice for everyone involved. That’s why I started the hashtag on social media of #WhatWillColtDo or #WWCD for short.
SM: Well, he certainly sounds like an original character with an impressive background. Now, you released Colt’s debut novel not so long ago, so what’s coming up next for him?
CA: I have been working on a follow-up story for not quite a year. There have been several stops, starts and do-overs. The writing hasn’t been nearly as “easy” as the original. It’s been tough going and honestly, Colt and I are just off a couple-month “break.” But I’ve found something I can stick my teeth into – and it gets Colt into a mess at the same time. That’s where he shines. Colt is investigating a security breach related to the murder of an attorney. What’s been fun is bringing back supporting characters from my first novel. That’s challenging at the same time because, as my writers group told me early in this draft, I can’t assume everyone read the first book.
SM: Well, I can relate to that with my Mia Ferrari series. I believe there is a fine balance between not telling too much about the characters, but enough so that if a reader comes in at say, novel number three, they can still relate to the main protagonist and to the regular characters. This is not easy to do.
The same goes for continuity. Recently, I read the third book in a mystery series (written by a well known author) and a character this author had appearing in novel one ended up with a totally different name in novel three. This put me off as a reader, and it isn’t the first time I’ve come across inconsistencies in the novels of bestselling authors. If I may be so bold as to suggest a method I use for consistency: I keep a file of white cards for each character, which come out of the file every time I start a new novel—this way I’m reminded of the little things that I may no longer remember from two novels ago.
CA: That’s a great idea. I may steal that tip from you. Continuity is tough; I can’t imagine what you face with your Mia Ferrari books. I actually have a Colt Maverick sourcebook of sorts. I started a notebook devoted to the world of my novel, which details everything from who is related to whom to what they drink. It’s been helpful.
SM: That’s a great idea, Cary. I think all authors have their own methods so they can remember and ins and outs of their characters. I could go on about this topic as it would be interesting to see what other authors out there do to remember all the details when they’re giving life to their characters, but now we’re running out of time; therefore, before we conclude I have a couple of quick questions: 1. Do you have a release date for the next Colt Maverick novel? 2. Is there anything you’d like to tell potential readers out there?
CA: No release date on the sequel. Or even a tentative completion date. Not even close! I really am taking it slowly, mainly due to finding time with my work as a professional writer, but most importantly, so I can do it well. Lately I have taken to writing during my lunch break. SO many people who have read my novel have an immediate question when they see me: How is the next one coming? It’s incredibly exciting to know people want to read more about Colt, and honestly see my debut novel as the first in a series. Guess I must have done something right! Hahahaha.
To any potential readers, it’s a blessing that you support authors, especially independent ones like Sylvia and me. Also, once you do read someone’s book, please post a review or send the author an email and/or direct message on social media and let him or her know what you think. Give us shoutouts! Constructive feedback is very helpful. Personally, there’s also nothing better than knowing you enjoy what I wrote. I have taken to heart the constructive criticism on my first book; that’s only going to help push me to make the next one even better.
SM: Well, thank you so very much for taking the time to feature on Sylvia Says today. I really enjoyed learning about Colt Maverick and I look forward to reading about his adventures.
Cary, I wish you all the best with the Colt novels, and please make sure you cut me into the deal when those film options come knocking at your door. Did I tell you I’m really good with continuity? LOL.
CA: Good try, Sylvia! Hahahahaha. It has been a pleasure to be on Sylvia Says; thank you!
For more information on Cary Ashby and where you can purchase Colt Maverick’s first mystery please CLICK here.
Perhaps, it is just like the author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy states... "If the answer is 42, then what is the real question to the mystery of life in this universe?" Frankly, I’ve just about given up on this one.
For years, I’ve been into the works of "Abraham" and Esther Hicks, Louise Hay, Bob Proctor, Wayne Dwyer, Susan Jeffers, and a whole lot more. I've also explored the philosophy of Buddhism and Hinduism; but to this day, I've yet to find a satisfactory answer, especially when it comes to karma and the law of attraction.
For instance, if we're meant to work off karma from a previous life, how useless is that when we don't remember what we did in a previous life in the first place? So how can we learn from what we did in another life? Shouldn't we be learning (and paying) from what we did in this life?
This explains why many evil or bad people get away with murder--basically all sorts of crimes, betrayal, hurting others' feelings, and so on--and the unnerving part is that many of them go on to flourish, live long lives in good health, have money, and even find happiness; while some poor souls who try to do right in this life are beset with illness, poverty, abuse, or whatever calamity life throws their way. So I've given up on the notion of karma--unless it's in this life and you pay for it in the same lifetime.
As for the law of attraction--I've lost faith in this, too. I mean, if you are in this life to work off negative karma (and this is why things are falling apart around you according to the karma gurus), then all the law of attraction in the universe isn't going to fix it. No amount of positive thinking is going to "burn off" this so-called negative karma if you're meant to really work it off. One concept seems to contradict the other! So which one, if any, is right?
I've tried for years to think positive; I’ve applied the advice given by Abraham/Esther Hicks, Louise Hay, Bob Proctor, and all the others. Unfortunately, nothing has worked out right for me. I mean, none of the things I've wanted--and I wasn't asking for millions either--just things like health and being able to earn a modest living while doing what I love (my writing). These things still remain dreams for me.
Meanwhile, I look at ex-partners, ex-friends and ex-bosses who’ve turned out to be real users and abusers. Now, I know for a fact that some of these people are thriving. Makes you wonder, right?
The only thing I've found to be valuable in my exploration of all these issues is what the Buddha said: "Don't believe anything anyone tells you, even if I tell you, unless it makes perfect sense within your heart and soul." Or words to that effect. In any case, I have found this to be the most sensible thing of all that any spiritual teacher could have taught me.
I guess I will always have a problem with karma--and if it really does exist, then it sucks. I think justice should be served when someone hurts another person--and not ten lives from now.
I tried to get all spiritual and fluffy, but in the light of pain, betrayal, and other hurtful things (plus all the awful things that happen to people, animals, and mother nature), it's very difficult to remain light in spirit. As for reincarnation--I hope this doesn't exist either, because there is absolutely no way I'm coming back unless it's as a cherished kitty to a loving family!
You will have to pardon my cynicism, but after some of the things I've been through and seen in this world of ours, I need a better answer than karma or the law of attraction. I find people use these concepts too lightly in order to explain why things happen. Sometimes, it's just a convenient cop out for society at large.
You see someone who is homeless or disabled, and you dismiss it as "Oh, it's just karma they're paying off." So this makes it easy to walk away from the helpless millions who are sick, starving, living in war-torn nations, victims of crime, abuse, etc, etc. It's all so "permissible" when you think it's their karma, or that they're attracting this into their lives through the law of attraction.
Well, I'm more of an "eye for an eye" kind of person even though I don't believe in traditional religion. But it's a bit like being in the mafia. You hurt me or my family, and I'll get you back with the proverbial horse's head, among other things—of course, I’ll make sure the horse is only a prop as I couldn’t kill an animal.
Blame it on my Italian heritage, but until I find another answer, which at the moment keeps eluding me, I will always wish for revenge (or poetic justice) for the evil doers. You know what they say, what goes around, comes around--yes, but when? And why did it come to those of us who are trying to do the right thing?
Well, as for why bad things happen to good people, I still can’t explain this one. So if I cannot have justice, I'll have to stick to the best answer possible for the moment: "42".
It’s been less than a month since I returned from a cruise to New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands, and already I am looking forward to another one. What was so good about the cruise? Well, if you look at it from my protagonist, Mia Ferrari's point of view, it was the cute, young officers.
You can’t blame Mia, older-woman and wannabe investigator, seeing as she likes Playing with the bad boys, right? (Also the name of her first mystery adventure). Mia likes them young and good looking (even if they’re gay!), and on a cruise of over 1700 passengers and around 700 crew, one is bound to run into some young flesh ;) And she did.
But what was the real reason for going on this cruise? Namely,
relaxation, and to plan my next murder mystery, which will take place on the high seas and will feature Mia, her friends, and a host of other characters.
I will be starting to write Mia Ferrari’s next mystery adventure The South Pacific Murders in the next few weeks, and hope to release it in early 2014..
You can expect a number of murders, sexual tension, and quite a few suspects. Mia is going to be under pressure to solve these murders in a short time span, seeing as the cruise is not a long one, and she must solve the murders before the ship arrives at its destination. So the pressure is on.
This is why Mia’s creator, little me, is in need of another cruise in order to relax :)
While you are waiting for Mia’s third mystery to be released, why not grab a copy of her first two adventures? Click HERE to have a look at where you can buy them.
So, see you on board soon, and Bon voyage!
That’s right, online friendships can turn to murder—but it’s fictitious, so that’s a relief.
You’re probably wondering what in heaven’s name I’m talking about. Let me explain: some time ago, I read a couple of humorous fiction novels by British author, Carol E. Wyer. I met Carol when I used to run a vlog, interviewing authors on their respective work, and we maintained contact since. So ours is what I call a cyber-friendship.
In her novels, Carol developed a character that followed the blog of her main protagonist, Amanda Wilson. The blog follower went by the name of SexyFitChick, and she was from Australia. SexyFitChick became a good online friend of Amanda Wilson, Carol’s main character in her two novels, Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines and Surfing in Stilettos.
Carol later revealed to me that SexyFitChick reminded her of me, although I don’t know about the “fit” part *laughter and wink*, but I do agree about the “sexy” bit :D
Over the next couple of years, Carol and I maintained our cyber-friendship, and I really enjoyed reading about the escapades of Amanda Wilson. So much so, that when my own protagonist, smartarse, older chick, super-sleuth, Mia Ferrari, was published in her second adventure, The Gay Mardi Gras Murders, I decided to bring Amanda Wilson (Carol's protagonist) to the land down under for a visit with Mia.
In the story, Amanda (or Mandy) is suffering from “grumpy-hubby syndrome” and so she runs off Down Under to visit with best online friend, Mia Ferrari, and catch the world-famous Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras at the same time.
As it turns out, not only does Mandy become part of an investigation into several murders, one of which involves a transsexual with a very valuable diamond that carries a so-called curse; but she is thrown into Mia’s world—a world of luxury international hotels, Ferrari cars, insidious characters, younger men, a bunch of bitchy drag queens, drop-dead gorgeous gay boys, and a lot more. To make matters worse, and really test the friendship between the two protagonists, Mandy develops a crush on Mia’s archenemy, the very good looking Detective Sergeant Phil Smythe.
I won’t go on with the plot and spoil it for you, but I want to point out that from a cyber-friendship between two authors who are continents apart was born the fictional friendship of Amanda Wilson and Mia Ferrari (our respective protagonists). This led our protagonists--both strong and independent mature women, to adventure, the challenge of overcoming rivalry between two good friends, sexual fantasies of "playing with some bad boys", and even hoping to convert a few sexy gay boys--and finally, solving a number of murders before more bodies piled up.
The message in this particular novel, The Gay Mardi Gras Muders, is that through all the obstacles of life, friendship is the most important thing there is—sometimes, friendship is stronger than love, as Mia Ferrari soon learns.
So how’s that for the power of a fictional friendship, which was born in the minds of two authors who became online friends? Personally, I think this takes friendship to a whole new level.
Okay, this is really spooky. It seems that every time I write a novel I am either on the way to fulfilling some kind of unknown or subconscious prophecy, or my life changes in such a way that I start to become like the main character in my novel.
For instance, when I wrote the romantic comedy, The Other Boyfriend (TOB), in 2010, there were certain elements in the story that at the time were mainly fiction but partly based on an old ex-boyfriend. But lo and behold, within months of publishing TOB my marriage broke up and I discovered in my ex-husband aspects of the lying, cheating and thieving person he turned out to be--and which he shared with one of the characters in TOB! Ironically, when I started my first draft of TOB, I hadn't even met my now ex-husband. Yes, I started working on TOB about a year before I met him!
Now, I have just finished writing Playing With The Bad Boys--A Mia Ferrari Mystery; and suddenly, I've started to become more like her: confident, sassy, doesn't suffer fools gladly, assertive, strong, and a whole lot more. Well, I've always possessed these personality traits, but now they have become a lot more pronounced. And what's really strange is that Mia Ferrari works for a hotel group and this is where she stumbles upon her mysteries. Now, only this week, I have started consulting for a hotel group! You see, my bread and butter comes from consulting (this is until I become famous like JKRowling. LOL), and in between my consulting I write.
One of my present clients is a wholesaler and I have been consulting to them for 20 months. But as soon as I finished writing Mia's first mystery I landed my second client, and sure enough, like Mia, I will be working within a group of hotels Australia-wide. So how's that for spooky? I only hope that when I start consulting this coming week I won't stumple upon a dead body, like Mia does in her first mystery!
I know that writers draw from their life experience, but it all starts to get a little weird when something I write about ends up happening in my life at a later stage. On the upside, this sets me to thinking that I should write about winning Lotto! Hmm. Food for thought.
Author Sylvia Massara's: