Awesome here, wanted to let you know that Menace is still bothering me something awful. He enjoys his daily hop on top (much like HOP ON POP) of me, like I’m a bull. I try and buck him off, but the little man is strong. His paws wrap around my neck and he just hangs on for dear life. I do manage to get him to fall off, but he hops back up too quickly that I can’t run away. I think Mom should have him try out for the rodeo. It would give him something to do outside of the home and I think he has real talent for this. Of course, Mom would probably chew her nails off and scream “MY BABY, MY BABY BOY!” the whole time, so okay, scratch the rodeo. Maybe Mom will just buy him a cowboy hat and chaps and he can chew those up for an activity.
Your writing comes off so well that several times I stopped reading and wondered, gosh did she really have this happen to her in real life! Do ideas come to you that you DIDN’T experience as a journalist?
First of all, thank you, Savannah! That’s a very kind thing to say. I definitely used my experience in the newsroom and on the crime beat to help shape my main character, Julia Gooden, and as background for certain scenes in the story.
But as a journalist, I never covered a child abduction case.
As a mom, the thought of something bad happening to my children is my greatest fear. So in this book, I wrote about what scared me the most.
The majority of the story was my imagination running away with itself (with a bunch of fact checking when I was done, of course). I’ve been a huge mystery, suspense, thriller, horror (with a touch of supernatural thrown in for good measure) fan for a long time. My mom, who was also a journalist, loved mysteries and read me, “And Then There Were None” when I was eleven, and I’ve never been the same since (in the best possible way).
So I think my experience as a journalist helped create a framework for the story, but most of the book wasn’t based on personal experience, and hopefully, years of reading mysteries helped spark a seed of creativity inside of me.
Do you find when you write powerful scenes, like many in this book, that you are exhausted afterwards?
Interesting question! No, I’d have to say that when I write an action-packed scene, I feel energized. Same thing when I was a reporter chasing a story. When you’re covering a breaking story, there’s a major adrenaline rush. My husband— who I first met at a newspaper where he was covering politics and I was covering the crime beat—and I used to talk about this after we got home to decompress about our day. Of course, if it’s a story where there are victims involved, you can’t desensitize yourself to that, and I would always have a hard time shaking what happened to them long after the story was written.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I’ve got two sons (Nash and Beck, both great little boys), and my writing desk is smack in-between the kitchen and our family room, so my “office” is located in command central of our house. That’s the only place where I write. Working in a newsroom helped me tune out background noise. A former city editor called it “being in the zone.” I’ve never gone to a coffee shop to write. My cluttered desk that has my kids’ homework piled to the side of it is my one and only writing spot. I have some treasures around it though: a black and white picture of my parents on their wedding day, and photos of my kids. There’s a bunch of clutter, but I love having those pictures around me when I write.
Is there anything you do to help spark your creativity?
No. I wish I had that magical formula though! Story ideas to me are like gifts. If I’m lucky, they come, and I follow their lead.
I do always draft a synopsis of the book (and man, I hate writing a synopsis, but in publishing, you can’t dodge that). For my own roadmap, I outline chapters before I write them. For me, sometimes the story will take a different turn as I’m writing it, and I just go with it. I just finished writing book 3 in the Julia Gooden series and the original synopsis I sent my agent and editor is going to need to be updated (ugh), because the story led me in a different direction.
If I ever feel stuck when I’m writing, I find that working out the scene in my head while doing mundane tasks (insert folding laundry here), helps. Just walking away from the story for a few minutes has always seemed to do the trick for me.
I love the cover, and thank God for my editor and publishing house because I’m horrendous at anything that is remotely art-related. Before the book came out, my editor asked me if I had any ideas for the cover. I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to give him one okay option, and truth be told, my ideas probably completely stunk. I’m not being self-deprecating. I truly lack any artistic skills. When my 10-year-old son Nash has an art project for school, he knows he better ask his dad for help, because everyone in my house knows I’m helpless in that area.
If you could have been the author of any other published book on the market, what would it be and why?
Oh boy. Tough question. Stephen King is, was, and always will be my favorite author, but I can barely put myself in the same sentence with him. As far as mystery writers, there are so many I admire, Michael Connelly, John Sandford, Robert Crais, Michael Koryta, Lisa Jackson, and Lindwood Barclay. But one mystery novel I truly admire, from one of my all-time favorite mystery authors, Dennis Lehane, is Mystic River. Gone Baby Gone, another of Dennis Lehane’s books, is also a favorite. He’s brilliant. And he’s from Boston, where I used to live, so he has my hometown vote!
Do you prefer your watch/read order to be: book, then movie based on book OR movie based on book, then book?
I’m a book then movie type of gal. Books rule!
What do you like the most and the least about the main character Julia?
When I first started writing The Last Time She Saw Him, I wasn’t sure if people would like Julia. She’s certainly a flawed character. She is ultra-paranoid about her two boys when it comes to their safety (which I hope is understandable since her brother was abducted when they were kids). She’s stubborn. And she’s tough, out of self-preservation, something she learned as a little girl, since her father, a grifter, and her mother, an alcoholic, abandoned her after her brother, Ben, was abducted. But I like the fact that Julia is a good mom, an ethical, yet driven reporter, a loyal sister who’s never given up on the memory of her brother or her pursuit to find out what happened to him, and she is fearless when it comes to doing anything to bring her child home. I think she’d be a very loyal friend. I’d like Julia to have my back if I were ever in a fight.
I first thought about turning this into a series when I was trying to land a literary agent. One agent who I queried asked me if the Julia Gooden story line would be a series. It got me thinking, and that’s when I started to come up with an idea for the second book.
Duplicity (releasing April 2017)
Detroit newspaper reporter Julia Gooden is up against the city’s most devious criminal and her own painful past.
Julia Gooden knows how to juggle different lives. A successful crime reporter, she covers the grittiest stories in the city while raising her two young boys in the suburbs. But beneath that accomplished facade is another Julia, still consumed by a tragedy that unfolded thirty years ago when her nine-year-old brother disappeared without a trace.
Julia’s marriage, too, is a balancing act, as she tries to rekindle her relationship with her husband, Assistant District Attorney David Tanner, while maintaining professional boundaries. David is about to bring Nick Rossi to trial for crimes that include drug trafficking, illegal gambling, and bribery. But the story becomes much more urgent when a courthouse bomb claims several victims including the prosecution’s key witness and leaves David critically injured.
Though Julia is certain that Rossi orchestrated the attack, the case against him is collapsing, and his power and connections run high and wide. With the help of Detective Raymond Navarro of the Detroit PD, she starts following a trail of blackmail, payback, and political ambition, little imagining where it will lead. Julia has risked her career before, but this time innocent lives, including her children’s, hang in the balance, and justice may come too late to save what truly matters.
Awesome here, hello. The other morning Mom did something horribly awful. She threw Menace’s most favorite toy in the whole wide world over the fence. (Think of the other side of the fence as no-man’s land, much like The Sandlot movie). The fence was behind her, not in front of her. I’m not sure how this happened. I watched it, so I know how it happened, but not how it happened. Get me? Mom kept saying “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.” She claims it was an “accident” however if you look at the situation with the fence behind her you will see why after further discussion Menace and I agreed that the word “accident” means “on purpose.” Of course I could care less about Menace’s favorite ball, but since he is going bonkers with it missing…Mom was basically outside of Petco doing the OPEN OPEN OPEN like it was Mervyn’s.
Celine’s hands shook as she clutched the letter. “This can’t be real.”
She read it for a second time, tapping her free hand on her knee. She put the letter back into the certified envelope. Celine bounced her feet and patted her knees, then pulled the letter back out and re-read it. She took a deep breath, set the letter down, and pulled out her laptop. Celine searched for an airline ticket, and purchased the soonest one to Rome she could catch.
Celine sat in seat F24 and opened up the pocket in the seat back in front of her. She always checked for the air-sickness bag. Not for her, but to see if the previous seat filler had puked on the plane. No bag meant they had. Celine located a bag, and sat back with a rather comforting feeling.
“On spring break from college?” the lady, who barely fit into seat F23 asked.
“No, just a …trip,” Celine replied.
“No one takes just a trip to Rome,” the lady remarked. “I’m Margaret.”
“Celine,” she said, without offer a handshake.
“A trip to look for love? Discover yourself?”
“My father passed away, and left me his mansion.”
Margaret leaned closer toward Celine.
“I don’t want to talk about it, if you don’t mind,” Celine stated.
“Okay,” Margaret roughly remarked.
The cab dropped Celine off at the front door of her estranged father’s mansion. She rolled her suitcase through the grass, over the gravel, and onto the path to the front door. Celine pulled out a key from the black velvet bag and unlocked the door.
She pushed the door open with a deep sigh. Celine took quiet steps into the middle of the massive foyer and slumped down, leaning against a nearby wall. She placed her head between her knees, interlaced her fingers behind her head, and started crying.
When the sun moved low enough to cast beams of light through the windows, and bounce off every curve of every wall, Celine pushed herself up and moved into a giant room. The room had several sitting areas and could easily accommodate a party of a hundred guests.
The couches were stallion tan. The lounge chairs were the palest of creamy milk. Pillows were plump, the floor white marble, and the crimson jar candles sat just so on glass table tops.
Hanging from the vaulted ceilings were three crystal chandeliers. And as the sun lowered through the window panes it bounced off every inch of the crystal, casting rainbows, even up into the arched corners of the vaulted ceiling.
One of the rainbows suddenly caught Celine’s eye as it glared on a framed photo off to the left of a side table. In the photo stood a man and a blonde haired two year old girl…it was her. Celine had the same photo tucked in a box in her closet.
“So…Dad, why leave your daughter who you haven’t seen or talked to a mansion half a world away?” Celine asked the room so grand it echoed.
When Celine had booked her ticket to Rome she was unsure about where she was going in life. And this gifted mansion made every thought more difficult than the last. She didn’t have much in Minnesota, but she had a job, and a nice little condo she had finally finished decorating.
Celine had never seen a mansion that was not on television or in the movies, but she was sure this place took the cake. The big five layer butter crème frosting with strawberries on top cake. Celine’s mom, the only family she had otherwise known, passed two years ago from the worst case of pneumonia the Rochester Hospital had seen in five years.
Celine wandered through the rest of the five bedrooms and six bathrooms, locating a fully stocked wine cellar.
“Ahhh, red, white, and even pink,” Celine declared. “I think I’ll take one of each.”
Celine wrapped her left arm around the two bottles and gripped the top of the third bottle in her right hand and headed to the kitchen. She opened cupboard doors until she found a glass, and then used the table top wine opener.
She poured the red wine into the glass, swirled it a few times, and took a quick sip. Her eyes grew wide with delight.
“Now that is amazing wine,” Celine said, raising her glass to the empty kitchen. “Welcome to Rome. And I’m hungry.”
Celine opened the refrigerator and found it empty except for a few bottled waters. She opened the freezer side to find several instant American entries. Celine popped a Lean Cuisine into the microwave, and then took her wine glass to the foyer. With a few more gulps along the way she had nearly finished what she had poured. She unlocked the French doors leading to the back veranda.
“Wow!” Celine declared, already slightly buzzed.
The sun was setting ever so slowly behind the olive trees that lined the hills. Celine was engulfed by a feeling of warmth and peace even with the unknown that lay ahead. She leaned forward as though she was making room for fairy wings to feather out on her back. It might have been the wine, but Celine felt suddenly optimistic about her future. As she was leaning forward she noticed the table top was resting atop a bronze coated seahorse.
“Well look at you,” Celine stated.
With her glass in hand she bent over sideways.
“Hello little seahorsey,” she slurred. “I have a rather large conundrum. See this house – mansion, well it’s all mine, little ole me. Mind you I have a very small condo back home with thick velvet curtains to keep the world out. And now I’m here at…my mansion, which has so much light from the world shining in.”
Celine looked out as the sky darkened and the stars starting to show their spender. She slumped out of the chair and onto the ground, and then wrapped her arm around the seahorse.
“Tell me what choice to make,” she sulked “this beautiful place with nothing familiar but unanswered questions, or comfort with everything familiar, but nothing magical.”
Tears formed and streamed down her checks.
“Why did he leave me with so much, but never even a minute of himself,” she whispered.
Celine woke to find a seahorse nose above her. She slowly stood up, trying to avoid hitting her head on the table top.
“What a beautiful view,” Celine commented as the sun started to cast its shadows as it shined over the rolling hills.
She made her way into the kitchen to grab some water. As Celine’s mind began to un-fog, she remembered the instructions on the letter from the lawyer. She made her way to her suitcase and unzipped the front pocket, pulling it out. At the bottomed she re-read the sentence.
There is a note from your father in the master bathroom at the bottom of the left hand drawer.
Celine made her way down the hall and into the master bathroom. She looked at row upon row of drawers, and then glanced at the note again.
“Which left hand drawer? There are six,” she questioned.
One by one Celine opened the drawers, moving around the items. In the last drawer Celine located an envelope with her name scribbled on the front. She sunk to the bathroom floor and tore it open.
This letter will never be able to cover the answers you need because as I write this I still don’t have them. I can’t explain how I fell out of love with your mother, but it was the opposite of how deeply I fell in love with Rome. The reason you are reading this is because the adventures of my life got the best of me. I left you the cars, the house and everything in it; I know you will love life here in Rome.
Sorry will never be enough,
Celine pushed herself up off the bathroom floor. She had hoped the letter would mend at least a percentage of her heart and wondering mind. Instead it sprouted seeds of anger in the middle of her chest.
“You couldn’t love me in person, you clearly can’t love me with your leftovers,” Celine declared.
Two months later Celine pulled back her condo’s grey curtains to let in the midmorning sun. She was waiting for a delivery today and hoped they would get there before she needed to head out.
Sure enough right when Celine was losing her patients the doorbell rang.
“Celine Fisher?” the man with the clipboard asked.
“Yes,” Celine replied.
“Sign here and here,” he said, handing her the clipboard.
And with that, crate after crate were rolled into Celine’s condo. She instructed the men where to put the extra few crates that didn’t fit in the spare bedroom. Once the men left, Celine headed out.
She returned exhausted and headed to one of the crates. Celine took a crowbar and popped open the lid. She reached inside and pulled out a wrapped bottle.
“Oh yay, pink,” Celine cheered as she grabbed her wine opener and a glass.
She took the glass and laptop out onto the patio. One new email message was in bold with a subject line of Labels. She clicked it open and then clicked the download button.
On her screen was a picture of the bronze seahorse with FAIRY TALE in cursive across the top.
“To my winery,” Celine said, raising her glass with a smile.
“Your winery?” said a voice from the patio next door.
Celine nearly choked back up the vintage wine.
“You startled me,” Celine said, clearing her throat. “Yes, I’m just getting ready for the grand opening.”
“A winery in Minnesota, I guess the winters will be tough,” the voice said.
“I’ve got it all worked out,” Celine told the voice.
“What’s your name?” the voice asked. “I have never seen you outside in all the years I’ve lived here.”
“I’m Celine. And you are?” she asked.
Celine leaned forward to see a lady watching the sunset dip beyond the trees.
“Margaret,” the lady said.
Celine’s eyes bulged as their gazes meet.
“The plane!” both ladies said breaking into laughter.
“I think you have a story to tell me about Rome,” Margaret said. “And bring the wine.”
© 2016, Savannah Hendricks
Unless your book is becoming a movie, you will most likely see sales fall after the release hype has died off. It’s important to keep people talking about your book in order to make sure the sales don’t forever see the bottom of the cliff. I have picked up a few pointers along the way for my book, which was released back in December of 2014.
- If you are able, host a Amazon, Goodreads, or LibraryThing giveaway to get your book cover back in front of people.
- Does your book have a theme that you can use to spark attention again? For example, Nonnie and I, is about the fears of starting school, so the perfect time to chat my book up is during the yearly Back to School happenings.
- Do searches for your name and the book within social media to see if anyone has been talking about it that you may not have know about. For example, Amazon listed Nonnie and I as a free e-book for 1 day and that popped up several search alerts of people promoting my book (that I wasn’t even aware of). Use this as a way to understand what works and doesn’t work in social media, and to thank the person who is spreading the word.
- Schools are always short on funds and often ask the public for assistance from authors to send in their books. Doing so might lead to a upcoming school visit or Skype visit that would promote your book even more.
- Offer to do interviews for blogs or vlogs. This is a great way to make more connects and find new readers.
I’m sitting here, watching the waves crash along the rocky cliffs of the Malibu beach. The water turning into a million foamy bubbles as it washes over the sand. I’m not in California. I’m watching it on television.
I can’t remember the last time I was on the beach, it has been too long. I can still remember my toes sinking in the sand, forming a dented print as the waves pull back out. When you grow up with the beach only a few miles away, you miss it more when you can’t get to it like you once did.
This is probably where I’m to share some wisdom, but I’m plum dry of anything at the moment. I’m just here, listening and watching the waves, feeling peaceful. Thinking of wet sand under my feet and foamy white bubbles rolling over my toes.
by Savannah Hendricks
Ryan shuffled his weary feet down the deserted and frozen Las Vegas strip; the sound of his arms swishing against his jacket disrupted the silence. He was unaware of the day or month. Every form of media had ceased since July 4, 2018. Snow, which was more ice than anything had piled up against the edges of what Ryan could only assume was the sidewalk lip. Tire tracks created during the mad escape of vehicles were molded ice fossils to the road.
Ryan’s eyes caught the brass of the dolphin statues in the frozen waterfall staircase outside The Mirage. The hazy daylight would keep him safe from the Owats who would wake at night fall.
He crossed the street and made his way to the long patio of the Palazzo. Ryan thought of the Owats’ glowing black eyes, sticky wing span, and their ability to rotate their furry heads completely around. The Owats’ didn’t start out that way. They started as women, and then they grew owl type fur over their skin. The eyes, whatever color before, changed pitch black. Next their limbs were affected, arms turning into black sticky wings. Lastly, their legs shriveling up into two paws for balance with curled claws for hanging.
Looking into the remoteness of the patio that lay before him, Ryan glanced up towards the decorative faux beams. He saw two sleeping Owats hanging upside down when he heard the sound of a woman calling his name.
“Julie?” Ryan yelled toward the noise.
He had been searching for her for some time now.
Ryan followed the noise, tripping on the first few steps leading up to the entrance. His boots crunched on the broken glass from the damaged doors. At first all Ryan could make out was the intense black eyes creeping towards him.
“Julie?” Ryan called, the movement was heading his way.
Ryan felt for the handrail as he stepped backwards. The figure came into the daylight and Ryan knew it was too late. The transformation had started, and that’s why it was still able to move around during the day. Julie’s fur looked as smooth and soft as her skin once had. The Owats had gotten to her, biting her, changing her slowly. Her limbs had been affected and wings were taking shape.
Ryan now knew he could only save himself, to keep from being hunted, to keep from becoming a mere snack.
Ryan’s back banged into the Corinthian columns. The ice below made for a poor grip and his feet flew out from under him. His tailbone smacked onto the ice. Ryan pushed back into the column. He could still smell the flower notes of her perfume. Julie opened her jaw and let out a deep vibrating hoot. He swore he smelled cinnamon gum.
Ryan feared what would come next and he looked away. He could feel her breath on his ear…then wetness. Julie was licking his ear with the tip of her tongue. Ryan calmly turned his head back, their eyes meeting.
“Julie,” his voice trembled.
Julie’s mouth opened as if she was yawning, then she arched forward and nibbled with her ever sharpening teeth into Ryan. At the last seconds of conciseness he felt the crunch of his skull between her teeth, her tongue searching for his brain matter. As Ryan’s soul voided his body he saw what remained of Julie’s hands, now spread out on his lap as she chewed apart the succulent brain from the cranium like marrow in a dog bone.