Friday, September 26, 2008

GCC Presents: Roberta Isleib and Asking for Murder

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with reading mysteries (often murder mysteries, which, hmmm, I have to check in with my parents about why they allowed that!), and from the sound of Roberta Isleib's new book, Asking for Murder, I think I'm going to take them back up. This one, the third in her Dr. Rebecca Butterman series, sounds soooo juicy. I'm posting the scoop below, and then be sure to read on as she answers my usual five questions. I really, really liked her story on how she found an agent because it shows that determination and grit can definitely pay off in our industry.

Here's the scoop:

Psychologist/advice columnist/sleuth Dr. Rebecca Butterman plunges into her third mystery in ASKING FOR MURDER by Dr. Roberta Isleib (Berkley Prime Crime, September 2008.) When Rebecca’s close friend and fellow therapist Annabelle Hart is found beaten and left for dead, Rebecca is determined to help search for answers. But this time, no one wants her help. Not Detective Meigs, who thinks the crime was either a botched robbery or the result of a relationship gone sour. And not Annabelle’s sister, who makes it clear that Rebecca isn’t welcome in family affairs.

The only place where her opinion matters is the therapist’s couch. Rebecca's agreed to see Annabelle’s patients while her friend is hospitalized, but it won’t be easy. Annabelle’s area of expertise is sandplay therapy, which Rebecca knows little about. While she studies the images in the patients’ sand trays and puzzles through Annabelle’s family secrets, another victim is murdered. With a killer on the loose, she can only hope the clues in the sand are buried within easy reach.

1) What's the backstory behind your book?
When I wrote the first book in the advice column mysteries, I gave Dr. Rebecca Butterman, my protagonist, a friend who conducts sandplay therapy. I can't remember why--I knew virtually nothing about interpreting sand trays! So when Rebecca's friend, Annabelle Hart, became a main focus of ASKING FOR MURDER, I had to do some research. I found a wonderful therapist in New Hampshire who walked me through the theory and practice of sandplay--it's fascinating!

2) It seems that a lot of readers confuse fiction with real life, assuming that a novel must be an autobiography of the author as well. How many elements of your real life are reflected in your book?

I am a clinical psychologist and I had a therapy practice in New Haven, very similar to that of my character. After that, our lives diverge! I'm married to a lovely man who isn't in the mental health business (thank goodness!) and we live near Rebecca Butterman's town. I would never investigate a murder--I'm a very big chicken. I love to eat, but Rebecca is a better cook than I am!

3) A lot of my blog readers are aspiring or new authors. How did you land your first book deal?
I studied Elizabeth Lyon's The Sell Your Novel Toolkit and Jeff Herman's Writer's Guide to Book Editors, Publishers, and Literary Agents. I contacted agents who had interests like mine (mystery, sports, psychology), or who had some feature in their personal background that made me think we might connect. I hired an independent editor to give me fairly inexpensive but useful feedback on my manuscript-she directed me to several agents. I attended mystery conventions and talked with people there about the process. I attended the International Women's Writers Guild "Meet the Agents" forum in New York City. I groveled in front of everyone I even remotely knew connected with the publishing business. And I suffered through multiple rejections and shouldered gamely forward, my skin toughening by the hour. Finally an agent I'd met at IWWG called: Another agent had visited her office, seen my manuscript, and fallen in love with it. We're still working together!

4) I have a serious procrastination problem when it comes to tackling my fiction. What's your routine? How do you dive it? Do you have any rituals or necessary to-dos before or while you write?
I have a serious email addiction. If I'm on a deadline, the best thing I can do is to work offline. I set mini-goals about how many words have to get done before I can check for mail. It works!

5) Clearly, your book will be optioned for a multi-million dollar film deal!
Who would you cast as the leads, if you were given creative control?
I'd consider Sandra Bullock, Reese Witherspoon, and Meg Ryan as the three women friends. Probably Tom Hanks as the ex-husband...I'll take suggestions for Detective Meigs.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

And The Winners Are...

Thanks once again to everyone who participated in this week's contest! I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed reading the posts, and I'm certain that I'm not alone in that.

So, without futher ado, here are the winners - I chose 'em from a big bowl in my kitchen last night. Please email me as soon as possible, and I'll get the books out to you right away!

Amie Stuart
Amy Nathan
Kristen Dedeyn Kirk
Ramblin' Girl

Sandra Joseph


Thanks again, guys! What fun this was. Maybe I'll do it again soon!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What If I Had Awesome Readers of This Blog?

You guys are so awesome! Your answers to my "what if" contest were/are so amazing: funny, ponderous, inspiring. I just wanted to let you all know how much I've enjoyed reading them and knowing (and understanding) that regardless of how different so many of our lives are, how divided we might be politically, how varied our romantic situations, incomes, family lives, extracurricular pursuits might be, how, really, many of us don't know each other beyond the internet...we're all in this together and we all share the same universal questions and beliefs and theories and answers that life in general throws our way.

So thank you for posting! If you haven't yet posted and want to enter the contest, I'm closing it tonight, so add your "what if" moment in the below post, and I'll be back tomorrow to announce the winners! (Which I'll draw at random.)

Thanks, you guys! I've had so much fun reading each and every one of them.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Book Giveaway Bonanza!

So, on Friday, I received two big boxes of ToML...mine to do what I wished with. And what I wish is to give some of these suckers away! So, from today through Wednesday, I'm giving away SEVEN copies to bloggers and TWO copies to non-bloggers. Here's the deal:

To enter, you have to post your own "what if" moment below. What is one of your big life "what if" moments - those moments that you sometimes wonder that if you'd made a different choice, if your entire life wouldn't have taken on a different trajectory? This isn't a regret - it's just a "what if," and there's an important distinction! I have a lot of "what if" moments (and I think all parents out there do because it's so strange to consider how chance timing determined your future children and how different it might have been if, er, you hadn't chosen that exact moment to, um, do the deed, so to speak), but one of my biggies is "what if I hadn't joined the gym at which I met my husband?" (Yes, my husband and I met at the gym. Ugh! I know.) But I moved to a new 'hood, and had a choice of gyms, and opted for that one for no particular reason (actually, now that I think of it, I think I opted for it because I had an ex at the other gym - ha!), and one day, my husband crossed in front of me while I was on the stairmaster, and having just recovered from aforementioned ex, I saw stars. I stalked him (seriously) for several weeks straight until I finally shamelessly hit on him...and he all but blew me off. :) Anyhoo, when a clue finally entered his brain and he realized that I was making a play for him, he meandered up to me two weeks later and made small talk. And when he STILL didn't ask me out, I finally handed him my card and told him to call me.

(Yes, I've always had a brazen sense of overconfidence! LOL) But this is my what-if moment. What if I hadn't joined the gym? What if I hadn't worked up the nerve to talk to him? What if we had been on different work out schedules? Who knows where my life might have gone, but certainly, it wouldn't be the life I lead now.

So tell me, what is your what-if moment, and enter the contest! Just be sure to let me know if you have a blog or not. If you have a blog, the only rule of the contest is that I ask you to post something - a review if you have time to read it - a mention - something - the week that the book comes out.

Thanks! Good luck!