Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Featured Author: LynDee Walker

Front Page Fatality: A Nichelle Clarke Headlines in Heels Mystery is LynDee Walker's humorous mystery published by Henery Press, and she's here today on her Cozy Mystery Book Review tour to tell us about it and to give us a sneak peak.

About the book:

Crime reporter Nichelle Clarke’s days can flip from macabre to comical with a beep of her police scanner. Then an ordinary accident story turns extraordinary when evidence goes missing, a prosecutor vanishes, and a sexy Mafia boss shows up with the headline tip of a lifetime. As Nichelle gets closer to the truth, her story gets more dangerous. Armed with a notebook, a hunch, and her favorite stilettos, Nichelle races to splash these shady dealings across the front page before this deadline becomes her last.

Part of the Henery Press Mystery Series Collection, if you like one, you'll probably like them all! Front Page Fatality is the first book in the Nichelle Clarke Headlines in Heels mystery series. Bonus: Includes book club discussion questions.

Interview with LynDee Walker

Welcome to A Blue Million Books, LynDee.

Thanks so much for having me today, Amy! I’m excited to be here!

If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose?

Nichelle—she’s so confident and sassy, and she can run in stilettos! I’d love to be her for just one day. But maybe not one of the ones where she almost gets killed.

Yeah, those days can get a little dicey. Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

Oh, only one? In the interest of not spoiling the story, I’ll go with the boat crash: I think the reader learns a lot about Nichelle and several of the other characters in just a few pages.

Describe Front Page Fatality in a tweet (140 characters or less).

Smart reporter+sexy mob boss+intrigue=story of the year. If she lives to see deadline. Plus: fabulous shoes & cute dog! #FrontPageFatality

You had me at smart reporter+sexy mob boss--the rest is just gravy. Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?

I outline the mystery, because it would be a nightmare if I didn’t. Other than that, discovering what Nichelle and her friends have in store for me is a lot of the fun of writing, so I let them lead the way.

Did you have any say in your cover art? Who is the artist.

I didn’t for Front Page Fatality, though I was asked for input on the cover for my new novel, Buried Leads, which is due out in October. But I couldn’t be happier with the job they did on my cover. The artist’s name is Fayette Terlouw, and I think she has a magic touch, or is slightly psychic, maybe. It’s so close to what I wished for, it’s downright scary. I can’t wait to see the new one!

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

That’s a tough one! I love Nichelle to bits, but Joey is a pretty fun guy to write. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him.

I’m constantly on the lookout for new names. How do you name your characters?

A writer girlfriend turned me on to an online random name generator that’s really helpful for me, especially when I’m naming unimportant characters. With recurring folks, I like to carefully consider their names (if I’m not lucky enough to just have one come to me), but for people Nichelle only interacts with once, the name generator saves me a lot of time.

That's a great tip. Thank you! Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

Bob shares a few personality traits and a fondness for his alma mater with my former boss, who is a good man and was a great journalist. Jenna is a talented artist with a big heart, much like my BFF, though there’s no real-life version of Pages. I wish there was, though. I’d go there every day.

What are your favorite books a) as a child b) as a teenager c) as an adult?

I’ve been a bookworm ever since I can remember, so in the interest of brevity, I’m going to choose just a few from each group:

a) Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Nancy Drew, Little House, The Three investigators, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Half Magic, Encyclopedia Brown, Wait Til Helen Comes, and The Dollhouse Murders.

b) Anything Christopher Pike wrote, but especially Remember Me, Sati, the Final Friends trilogy, and Chain Letter; Gone With the Wind, The House of the Seven Gables, Wuthering Heights, The Stand, Nightmares and Dreamscapes, The Firm, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Friday Night Lights, and The Forbidden Game trilogy.

c) Gone With the Wind, Rhett Butler’s People, the Harry Potter series, The Innocent Man, The Help, The Stranger, the Jane Austen mystery series, The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy, and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.

There are so many I didn’t have room to mention! I love good stories and funny characters and mystery. A touch of magic or a dash of romance make things that much better. Honestly, the list of books I don’t like would probably be shorter. But that at least gives you a peek at my keeper shelf.

Which author would you most like to invite to dinner, and what would you fix me? I mean, him. Or her.

Laura Levine, hands down (I’d love to have you, too, Amy, but you said pick one)! She has been so sweet to me when there was no reason on Earth she had to be. She agreed to read Front Page Fatality for a blurb when she didn’t know me at all, and then she said such lovely, amazing things about it. And she’s going to read Buried Leads, too! I would love to hug her and thank her in person. I’d fix my killer taco salad with homemade salsa. I spent months getting my salsa recipe right, and it’s pretty darned good if I do say so myself!

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?

I’m reading an e-book ARC of Larissa Reinhart’s new mystery, Still Life in Brunswick Stew, which will be out in late May. It’s hilarious!

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

Whenever the mood strikes me, and someplace where my children are not. I adore them, but they do distract me when I’m trying to write. My very favorite place in the world to sit and write is the beach, but I only get to do that about once a year. Other than that, the papasan chair on my deck and the old sofa in my sunroom are my favorite places to write. Starbucks works, too, if I need to get away from the littles.

Where’s home for you?

Now? Richmond. I love everything about living here. I grew up in Texas, and I do love to go visit (especially in the spring when the bluebonnets are blooming) but it’s not really home. My family has been blessed with wonderful friends and a great community, and we’ve built a wonderful life in Virginia. 

Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do when it happens?

I walk, and I talk through it. Moving seems to get my brain working, so when I get stuck and the words won’t come, I have to put my laptop away and go walk. Outside is best, and if I have a friend along to be a sounding board, that’s wonderful. If not, I talk anyway. I figure most of the people who live around here probably think I’m at least a little crazy, since they see me out walking around the lake talking to myself fairly regularly.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” —Thoreau

I have that one on my fridge, because it’s a good general life philosophy, I think.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Play with my kids and spend time with my husband definitely top this list. I have three young children and a wonderful “other half,” and they are the most important things in my world. I’m one of those moms who only has a clean house when company’s coming.  I’d rather spend my days taking the kids to the park or the pool or the children’s museum than cleaning when I’m not working. And quiet evenings with my hubby are the very best kind.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I love it here in Richmond, but if I could live anywhere, I’d want to live at the beach. Virginia Beach would be nice, I think, because it’s still urban enough for the city girl in me, but the beach is gorgeous.

If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? (Don’t worry about the money. Your publisher is paying.)

Australia! Could my publisher also give me the confidence to go snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, if we’re playing daydreams? I’ve always wanted to do that, but I’m a big chicken when it comes to wildlife. I’d probably drown myself trying to run away from a fish.

What are you working on now?

I’m in edits on my next novel, Buried Leads, which will be out October 15, and writing a novella for a Christmas anthology with two of my fabulous author friends, Larissa Reinhart and Terri L. Austin. It’ll be on sale just in time for the holiday season!

Sounds great. Please come back and tell us about them both.

Excerpt from Front Page Fatality

Thinking about blood spatters and ballistics reports before I’d even finished my coffee wasn’t exactly how I wanted to start my weekend.

“More dead people? Really, guys?” I asked, as if the beat cops whose chatter blared out of the police scanner in my passenger seat could hear me. They, of course, kept right on talking. Apparently, this dead guy had lost a good bit of brains to a bullet, too.

I reached for my Blackberry, keeping one hand on the steering wheel and my eyes on the morning traffic. A body before I’d even made it to the newsroom was usually a good thing—-but not that Friday. If I’d had to pay by the corpse, my MasterCard would’ve been maxed out by Wednesday that week. Especially given the eBay charge for the new heels on my feet.

I glanced at the clock and stomped my sapphire Louboutin down on the gas pedal, thumbing the speed dial for police headquarters.

“Aaron, it’s Nichelle,” I said when I got the department spokesman’s voicemail. “I hear y’all are having a party out on Southside this morning, and I seem to have misplaced my invitation. Give me a call when you get a minute.”

Tossing my phone back into my bag, I turned into the parking garage of the Richmond Telegraph. I had been hoping for an idiot crook who’d opened an account with his real address before he’d robbed the video store. Anything but another body.

I flashed a semi-grin at my editor as I strode into his office a few minutes later.

“I’ve got another dead drug dealer on Southside. They just found him this morning.” My words dissolved his annoyed expression to one of interest, his perpetual aggravation with my last-minute arrivals for the morning staff meeting forgotten at the mention of a homicide.

“Another one, huh?” He leaned forward and rested his elbows on his massive mahogany desk. “Do we know if this one is related to the guy they found out there a couple of weeks ago?”

“Aside from the bit about him being a dealer I caught on the scanner, not really.” I dropped into my usual seat. “I left a message for Aaron White on my way in. I should have something for you by this afternoon.”

Bob nodded, appearing satisfied and moving on to the sports section. “What’s going on in your world this morning, Parker? Anything worth having an opinion on, or am I paying you to make stuff up yet?”

Our sports columnist (and de facto sports editor since the real thing was still on leave with his wife and new baby) raised his voice over the round of laughter and began a rundown of the day’s sporting events. “And I’m writing my column on the women’s basketball coach over at the University of Richmond,” he finished. “She’s in the middle of treatment for breast cancer, and she still led the team to the playoffs again this past season.” He glanced at his notes. “This makes four years in a row.”

“Nice,” Bob said. “I love a human interest story on a woman in the sports section.”

The international desk was following an uprising after yet another questionable election in the Middle East, and the government reporters were still covering the bickering between the senate candidates who were gearing up for the fall race.

Political jokes fired faster than a drunken celebutante’s antics circle the blogosphere, and I chuckled at the warring punch lines as my eyes skipped between the faces of my colleagues—-my family in Richmond, really. They had adopted me the second I’d stepped into the newsroom without a friend in a six-hundred-mile radius, the ink still wet on my degree from Syracuse.


LyDee is giving away a $20 Amazon.com giftcard! To enter:
  • giveaway closes on April 23, at the end of LynDee Walker’s tour
  • winner will be contacted by email

About the author:

LynDee Walker grew up in the land of stifling heat and amazing food most people call Texas, and wanted to be Lois Lane pretty much from the time she could say the words “press conference.” An award-winning journalist, she traded cops and deadlines for burp cloths and onesies when her oldest child was born. Writing the Headlines in Heels mysteries gives her the best of both worlds. Her debut novel, Front Page Fatality, is a #1 Amazon,com new humor bestseller. When not writing or reading, LynDee is usually wrangling children, eating barbecue or enchiladas, or trying to walk off said barbecue and enchiladas. She and her family live in Richmond, Virginia. Visit her at:

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