I’m pleased to have author Paige Sleuth (Marla Bradeen) here to speak about her writing and new release, Murder in the Cards: a Psychic Poker Pro Mystery that is on blog tour with Escape with Dollycas Into a Good Book.
Hi, Paige. Please tell us about yourself, where you live, how long you’ve been published, and what titles and/or series you write.
My real name is Marla Bradeen. I have books published under both my name and as Paige Sleuth. Paige is much more ambitious and popular than me, so these days I focus on her works.I live in Las Vegas, Nevada (USA), where it is HOT this time of year. But triple-digit temperatures just give me an extra excuse to stay inside and read! I have written 31 books, all of which are self-published. I published my first book in March 2013, a chick-lit mystery called Lethal Injection. After that, I wrote a handful of other standalone novels that came out over the next two and a half years, all published under my own name. Then, in August 2015, I published my first book as Paige Sleuth. It was a cozy mystery centered around cats called Murder in Cherry Hills. That was my first Cozy Cat Caper Mystery book, and my first attempt at writing a series. At the time, I figured I’d be lucky if I could come up with 12 books. I was positive I’d be completely out of ideas by book 15. I was convinced there would be absolutely no way I would ever make it to 20 books. Fast-forward to 2018, and I now have 22 Cozy Cat Caper Mystery books with no plan to end the series anytime soon.
Wow! That’s quite a publishing record. About your Cozy Cat Caper mysteries, I’m surprised I haven’t heard of them. I’m a big cat mystery fan and also write a cozy series (up to Book 4 right now) that features a library cat, Sneaky. He even has his own blog where he interviews pet characters. I think he’d like to interview one of your cats.
Tell us more about your books.
The Cozy Cat Caper Mystery series stars Katherine (aka “Kat”) Harper and her two rescue cats, Matty and Tom. Kat somehow always finds herself involved in the latest crime to hit Cherry Hills, Washington, the small town where she lives. Luckily she has Matty and Tom around. Sometimes they help Kat solve the crime, sometimes they help her escape from danger, and sometimes they’re just there for moral support. Kat, Matty, and Tom are like family to me, and I love visiting with them in each new story. But just like with real families, sometimes you need a break from each other. To that end, last year I started brainstorming ideas for another series. That was when I came up with the Psychic Poker Pro Mystery series starring professional poker player Tiffany Swanson. Murder in the Cards is her first book, and although Tiffany only has one adventure to brag about right now, I’m hoping many more are in her future!
Judging from the success of your cat cozy series, I’m sure this will be a long-running one.
Describe your goals as a writer. What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?
My only real goal is to create stories that are enjoyable and entertaining. I don’t have a publishing schedule, or deadlines, or any type of real marketing plan. I know that makes me a terrible small business owner (which is really what us writers are), but I find all that to be really stressful so I don’t do it. Instead, I tend to work on whatever I feel like working on. I can go months at a time without writing, and some weeks I write every day. I guess you could say my personal goal is to just keep on writing for as long as I enjoy it, and if it ever loses its appeal to find something else I love.
Interesting attitude. I agree with you that the writing business can be quite stressful, so it’s important to enjoy the process.
What type of reader are you hoping to attract? Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?
Paige Sleuth’s Cozy Cat Caper Mystery series is geared toward cat-loving mystery fans who enjoy light, clean reads. The Psychic Poker Pro Mystery series is actually geared toward the same type of reader, although cats won’t feature as prominently in my new series. But Tiffany is on the verge of realizing that the alley cat named Amber who she’s taken in “temporarily” is about to become a permanent fixture. Both series are intended to be fun and humorous. Kat is a little more serious than Tiffany, and Tiffany is a little more sarcastic than Kat, but I hope readers embrace them both and come to love them as much as I do.
Your books sound like ones I would enjoy. I’ve found that if you like your characters, they will be appealing to readers.
What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?
Mainly, keep writing and never give up. Also, find ways to connect with other authors, whether it be on social media or by joining local writers’ groups. Your fellow authors are invaluable sources of advice and support. And you’ll soon find out that most of us struggle with the same things.
That’s very true. I’ve found so much support in the writing community.
What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?
I actually finished my first book, The Amicable Divorce, in 2004. That one took me two years to write, mostly because I didn’t know what I was doing and had a pesky job that ate up a lot of my time. Back then self-publishing wasn’t really an option unless you planned to sell books out of your car trunk. So I did the typical query route in search of a literary agent. Nothing can kill your motivation more quickly than receiving rejection after rejection or, worse, being flat out ignored. I finally gave up querying in 2006. I still wrote off and on, but I didn’t pick it up seriously again until 2012, when I quit my job and needed something to do. Lucky for me, by then ebooks had taken off, and self-publishing had boomed. If you had told me in 2006 that one day I would be glad I’d never found an agent, I wouldn’t have believed you. But now, looking back, I’m so pleased things worked out the way they did.
My first book, Cloudy Rainbow, was self-published in 2008, but I didn’t do it myself. I used a self-publishing company. I’m actually reprinting that book soon with better edits with my current publisher. Although I no longer self publish, I haven’t given up and am still querying agents because I’d love to be published with a large publisher. Your story is a good example of the theme of my first Cobble Cove mystery that things happen for a reason or don’t happen for a reason, as in your case.
Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?
I do not belong to any writing groups. However, I belong to a lot of author groups on Facebook, and we all share advice and experiences. The author community is one of the best, and one I’m so happy to be a part of.
Yes, social media has done a great deal for authors.
What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?
Well, my number one hobby would be reading. I could read all day, every day if given the chance. But I’ve been told it’s good to get out of the house every now and then, so, like Tiffany, I play poker on occasion. And now that I have a series featuring a poker player, I figure I can write off any losses as business expenses (don’t tell my accountant).
Lol. As a librarian, I’ve always been a big reader, but it’s hard finding the time now that I write.
What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?
I probably enjoy the marketing part the least. Getting the word out about my books is definitely the toughest challenge, especially since I’m not someone who really enjoys going on and on about themselves. Although, writing in general can be pretty painful, and depending on when you ask me I might hate it all. But the absolute best part of being an author, hands down, is interacting with readers. There is nothing better than getting a note from a stranger who has read and loved one of your books. I’ve met some wonderful people through my books, and I treasure their support and friendship.
I feel exactly the same way.
What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?
Most of all, I love the characters in cozy mysteries. They’re often quirky, and it can be a lot of fun to see what they do next. Often they start to take control after I’ve gotten their personalities fleshed out, and watching them mold my stories into something bigger and better than I imagined is a wonderful thing to witness.
That’s true for me, too.
Can you share a short excerpt from your latest title or upcoming release?
I’d love to! Here’s a snippet from Murder in the Cards, when Tiffany first discovers she’s telepathic:I walked out of the bathroom, running smack-dab into the guy from my table who had smiled at me earlier.
“Oomph.” The air rushed out of my lungs as I collided with his hard chest.
He grabbed my arms. “You okay?”
“I’m fine.” I steadied myself. “Sorry about that.”
Now that I’d regained my footing, I expected him to let go. Instead, he kept his palms on my arms, his eyes fixed on mine. My heart sank, and I mentally prayed he wouldn’t ask me out. He was attractive enough, with thick brown hair, blue eyes, and a full, warm smile, but I didn’t get involved with out-of-towners. Too much heartache when they returned home to the wives and girlfriends they had never bothered to mention.
Not that I would have any experience with that.
I was about to wiggle free of his hold, but at that exact moment my skin started tingling and my vision blurred. An image of a man sprawled atop a sea of plush white carpet flashed through my head. The blood-red stains splashed across the front of the man’s torso and staining the carpet around him formed a picture vivid enough to make me gasp. I groped for something steady to lean against as nausea surged through me. Somehow I made it to the wall. I collapsed against it and bit my tongue hard, hoping I didn’t retch.
“Hey, you okay?”
I was vaguely aware of the handsome stranger gripping my elbow as he said the words, but my throat was too tight to respond. My pulse was pounding so hard I could feel it in my temples.
“Let’s get you seated.”
I let him guide me over to a bank of slot machines, then fell into one of the chairs like a sack of potatoes. The image had faded, but the emotions it had stirred up still lingered.
The man took the seat next to me. “You feeling all right?”
I blinked, unsure how to respond. Did I feel all right?
“I can call somebody for you, if you’d like,” he offered. “Or flag down security.” He perked up, clearly buoyed by the possibility of pawning me off on someone else.
Evidently I no longer needed to worry about fending off the guy’s advances.
“I’m okay,” I told him. “I just felt a little woozy there for a second.”
Out came that friendly smile again. “Glad to hear it. You went really pale.”
“I’m not really sure what happened. I had this vision of someone, a guy. He was lying on this white carpet, and there was blood everywhere.” I clamped my mouth shut, not sure what had compelled me to explain myself to a stranger.
The man’s face went slack. “What?”
I shook my head. “It was nothing, just something that popped into my head. I probably saw it on one of the television monitors hanging in the poker room.” Now that I had my bearings back, I was embarrassed I’d even brought it up.
My explanation didn’t seem to offer the man any comfort. He gripped the side of the slot machine and pulled his body to the edge of his seat, his knees grazing my thighs. “What exactly did you see?”
I angled away from him. “Just some guy.”
The urgency in his voice took me aback. Although I didn’t care to dwell on this topic any longer, I figured I owed him some explanation after he had been nice enough not to abandon me when I had been on the verge of passing out.
“He had brown hair, kind of like yours,” I began. “And his eyes were the same blue as yours.” When the man sucked air through his teeth, I rushed to add, “Except it wasn’t you.”
His words came out garbled, and it took me a second to decode what he’d said. When I did, my heart stopped beating. “Your brother?”
The man nodded, his movements rigid and mechanical. “My older brother. Randy. That was his name. He was killed, murdered.”
Thank you. Well written.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you or your books?
Yes! Right now I’m running a “Buy in July” promotion where $1 from every Paige Sleuth book purchase made in July (excluding ebook purchases of Murder in Cherry Hills) will be donated to the Community Cat Coalition of Clark County (C5). C5 helps to curb the cat overpopulation problem (and therefore the number of cats euthanized) in the Las Vegas area by spay/neutering ferals.
I’m definitely interested in supporting that. I believe strongly in cat causes, and I know many of my followers do.
Please list your social media links, website, blog, etc. and include some book cover graphics and author photos if possible.
Author Links (for Paige Sleuth):
I’ll connect with you. Thanks so much for the interview, and best wishes on your new series and blog tour. Here’s a link to your rafflecopter that readers may wish to enter: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/02887792737/?widget_template=56d5f80dbc544fb30fda66f0