July 6, 2017 by Valerie Ullmer
Book Spotlight – Euphoria Lane (A Homeowners Association Mystery) and Author Interview – Tina Swayzee McCright
Amazon is placing Euphoria Lane on sale for $0.99 as part of their Kindle Press Favorites promotion from July 5th – July 11th.
How far will one person go to stop the HOA?
Andi Stevenson knew her life would never be same after purchasing her new condo on Euphoria Lane. On day one, she finds the body of the Homeowners Association president. Day two, she discovers the property manager is her former fiancé. Day three, the new president begins his campaign of violation letters to force her to move. Day four, her sister, the owner of a detective agency, needs her help with the investigation of the murder. And day five, a full scale neighborhood war!
Author Interview with Tina Swayzee McCright
When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?
About 14 years ago. I was skimming a career book at the library with my daughter and found a page with only the address for Romance Writers of America and thought, “I can do that.” Of course, I had no idea how much there was to learn, but it did start me on my path. I read some “How to” books and then joined a chapter of RWA and learned so much more.
How many books have you written?
I’ve written six, but I have only published two and a short story. I pulled my rights to Liquid Hypnosis so I can give it a new cover. I will rerelease it this summer. My book, Euphoria Lane, won the Kindle Scout Award.
How long does it usually take you to write a book?
It used to take me years, but I recently retired from a high-stress job and am writing full time now. Ask me again next year.
How did you come up with the idea for your book?
Euphoria Lane is a cozy mystery set in a crazy homeowners’ association. Our HOA was a bit wild years ago. I like to say that I was once president, secretary, and victim of the HOA.
Who are your favorite authors?
Nora Roberts, Janet Evanovich, Kathryne Kennedy, Jenn McKinlay, Juliet Blackwell, and the writers who are a part of The Butterscotch Martini Girls.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Beginning a story. I need to hash out the mystery, the romance, and the characters. I need red herrings, a good twist, a black moment, the reason these two should be together, how they grow as people, etc. It can be a bit overwhelming at first. I feel lost until it comes together.
Where is your favorite place to write?
In the main room of my home or at the Barnes and Noble café. I’m experimenting with different places.
When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?
I know their occupation, what they look like and the romantic conflict. They develop more as I write them.
Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
I write a scene at a time.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Getting started each day. A book is a huge project that I want to be perfect. I need to constantly remind myself to sit down and work on one piece of the puzzle that day.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
Rereading the finished book. Sometimes I read a line, smile and say, “That was good. Wow, I wrote that.”
Do you use images to develop your character’s looks?
Yes. I currently have a picture of Alyssa Milano posted on my plotting board.
Are your characters based on people you know?
They may share a trait or two, but not totally based on anyone. My brother Chris wanted to be a villain in one of my stories. The character only looks like him. Chris is no villain. My college roommate is convinced she is the heroine in Liquid Hypnosis. They do share many traits.
Do you use your experiences in your books?
Sometimes, but I usually alter them. I took some experiences in my HOA and made them much worse in Euphoria Lane. For example, I took our speed limit (that I broke once or twice) and divided it in half for the story.
Do you ever get writer’s block?
No. Knock on wood.
What do you think makes a good story?
I mainly read cozy mysteries. I need a likable main character who makes logical decisions while solving the mystery. If the book feels too contrived, I’m gone. Also, I don’t want the bad guy to be too obvious. I enjoy trying to solve the mystery as I read. My pet peeve is when the author doesn’t give you clues to who the bad guy is until the end. I once read a story that mentioned a character, but he did not make an appearance until the end when we discovered he was the killer. I felt ripped off.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both. I am excited when I come up with a new piece to the puzzle, or I make a sentence stronger. I am exhausted after pouring my soul into a story for hours.
What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as an author?
Making connections with other people. Most of my closest friends are writers because we are alike in many ways. They understand the triumphs and struggles of this business.
I am also thrilled when I receive feedback from readers. My favorite story is about a high school student who kept reading my book in class. Her teacher finally took it away but gave it back later. My friend’s son just happened to be in that class and told me.
What do your friends and family think about you being a writer?
They are very supportive. My adult daughter wrote a couple of short stories that were well-received. She also created my Euphoria Lane cover. My husband helps me come up with ideas, and he helped edit Euphoria Lane. I couldn’t write full-time if he didn’t support my desire to follow my passion.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I watch my granddaughter two days a week. She is a toddler, so I have my hands full. I look at her, and my heart fills with love. My husband and I enjoy watching movies together. We look up actors later and discuss their careers. We also make it a point to get out of town occasionally. We enjoy trips to Sedona and San Diego.
Do you like music or silence when you write?
I need background noise, but not music. Growing up, the television was always on, so I grew used to doing homework while blocking out the noise. I set the TV to something I won’t pay attention to while I write. I own Ghost Hunters on DVD. Sometimes I put that in and only check it out when someone yells, “What the – was that!”
Do you outline or do you just write?
I need to outline. I have most of the short story I am working on for a Christmas Box set plotted. I am missing part of the middle, so I wrote two chapters of what I had plotted. The rest of it is coming to me. I write bits and pieces on Post-It Notes and tape them onto a board. The romance, mystery, and character arcs have different colored notes.
Do you prefer pen and paper or computer?
Laptop for the book. Pen and paper for notes.
Do you write as routine or do you write when you feel like it?
When I was a teacher in a high-risk area, I was exhausted and wrote when I had energy. Now I am trying to write every day. I am more of an afternoon writer.
What do you love best about your current book?
Euphoria Lane is the book where I found my author voice. I let loose and wrote what I wanted, the way I wanted, without worrying too much about what other authors were doing.
What is your next project?
I have several on the burner. My main focus in on a short story due the end of August for a Christmas box set for The Butterscotch Martini Girls. I recently joined their group. It is set in a Christmas town in the mountains, and every story has a touch of magic to it. Of course, my contribution is a romantic cozy mystery.
I am editing Liquid Hypnosis in the evenings for rerelease this summer. I love the new cover!
I’m also plotting a superhero cozy mystery for Phoenix Comicon 2018 next May. And, I am reworking my rough draft of the second book in the Homeowners’ Association Mystery Series.
Thank you for inviting me to join your blog. This has been fun!