Author Archives: Deborah J Ledford

About Deborah J Ledford

Deborah J Ledford’s latest novel, CRESCENDO, is book three of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series from Second Wind Publishing. Other novels include: SNARE—The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist and the NM-AZ Book Awards Finalist, and the classical music-themed STACCATO. Three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize, her award-winning short stories appear in numerous print publications as well as literary and mystery anthologies. Part Eastern Band Cherokee, she spent her summers growing up in western North Carolina where her novels are set. Please visit: www.DeborahJLedford.com for more details.

The Importance of Locations by Deborah J Ledford

Crescendo F. Cover -w blurb 7 HR-FinalOkay, so keeping with the “Importance of” theme, let’s discuss locations. How important are they to you as a reader? How about as a writer? For me, the main location for my Steven Hawk/Inola Walela has definitely become a main character.

I grew up spending my summers in a small town nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina. This is a place that remains close to my heart and senses. There are times when I awake in the middle of the night, replaying events long passed, the scent of “green” still nestled in my brain.

The summertime nights were humid during those cherished weeks every year, but that never bothered me as I chased fireflies, capturing them in the Mason jar my grandmother would provide from her stash under the sink.

fireflies-two

The drives with my grandfather are gems I unfortunately only remember snippets of—sitting in the back seat of his huge Buick as he backed up the long drive to the two-lane, twisting highway that would lead us to the gas station/country store where he would buy me a paper sack full of Atomic FireBall jawbreakers. Even decades ago Kudzu vines hugged the trees and power poles, massive hulking monsters, disturbing yet fascinating.

kudzu

The fog that would rarely completely lift hovered over the expanse and deep in the valleys when we reached a rise high enough to look down at the most enchanting, wondrous Great Smokies I will never release from my memories.

smoky-mountains-sunrise

I go back from time to time to the real city of Bryson City, where Inola Walela, Steven Hawk and his family live in my books. My imaginary characters visit locations I still remember; essentially playing out the life I could only dream of. I suppose that’s one of the best parts about being a novelist…the “what if” and “why not” of every story one can create.

Deborah J Ledford’s latest novel of suspense, CRESCENDO, is book three of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela series. Other novels include, STACCATO, and SNARE, Finalist for The Hillerman Sky Award and the NM-AZ Book Awards. Deborah is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and her award-winning short stories appear in numerous print publications as well as literary and mystery anthologies. Part Eastern Band Cherokee, she spent her summers growing up in western North Carolina where her novels are set. Deborah invites you to visit her website.

Photograph Credits: Smoky Mountains Sunrise ©Dave Allen. Kudzu ©Felicity Green.

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The Importance of Secondary Characters by Deborah J Ledford

Have you ever read a book and found the secondary characters more fascinating than the leading men or women? I must admit, the only reason I pick up a Patricia Cornwell book is to read about Scarpetta’s niece, Lucy, and to see if Pete Marino is still kicking. And let me tell you, when two of my favorite mystery authors, Louise Penny and Craig Johnson don’t feature their fantastic cast of secondary’s, I get beyond angry and frustrated.

I’ve had a blast creating a supporting cast for CRESCENDO. Tried and true, rock and Hawk’s right-hand man Deputy Kenneth Stiles can be found in book three of the series, as well as Mama and Annie, but I’m most excited about introducing Inola Walela’s grandmother, Elisi to readers.

Elisi is full-blood Cherokee, lives on the North Carolina reservation, is a weaver, and knows her hard-headed but warm-hearted granddaughter even better than Hawk.

After a routine traffic stop involves a shooting, Inola is forced to watch from the sidelines as her colleagues investigate the case she’s stuck in the middle of. As the only female Native American Bryson City, NC cop, she must always play her A game, but now her best efforts, training and capabilities are shunned.

On official leave from the force while her case is being investigated, Inola reluctantly allows Elisi to join her in the hunt for a young boy no one—not even Hawk—believes is missing. Their exploits include amusing banter, contentious friction about their past relationship, and conflict that ultimately brings them closer as Inola travels a journey where she vows: Redemption with a bullet.

I hope you enjoy the ride!Crescendo F. Cover -w blurb 7 HR-Final

Deborah J Ledford’s latest novel of suspense, CRESCENDO, is book three of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela series. Other novels include, STACCATO, and SNARE, Finalist for The Hillerman Sky Award and the NM-AZ Book Awards. Deborah is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and her award-winning short stories appear in numerous print publications as well as literary and mystery anthologies. Part Eastern Band Cherokee, she spent her summers growing up in western North  Carolina where her novels are set. Deborah invites you to visit her website.

 

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Introducing a New Leading Lady by Deborah J Ledford

Crescendo-DJLedford- Front Cover HRFebruary 19, 2013 Inola Walela takes center stage as the leading lady of my latest novel of suspense, CRESCENDO from Second Wind Publishing. Inola is no stranger to readers of my thriller series, but this is the first time Inola has carried an entire book.

For those of you new to the mystery series, Inola is Steven Hawk’s love interest. We jump ahead one year from the previous book, SNARE. Hawk is now the sheriff of SwainCounty and Inola continues on as the only female Native American officer on the Bryson City, North Carolina police force, Inola Walela, must always play her A game. All bets are off when during a routine traffic stop the passenger insists her son has been kidnapped but is struck by a car before Inola can glean any hard facts. An altercation ensues and Inola’s partner is felled by a bullet—possibly from her gun. On administrative leave, fraught with guilt for allegedly killing her partner, and obsessed with the possibility of a missing child out there somewhere, she defies the force and her fiancé, Sheriff Steven Hawk. Inola sets off on her own journey to find the missing boy.

The tagline for CRESCENDO is: Redemption with a Bullet

I knew from day one that Inola would be the lead character for this novel. Like me, she’s part Eastern Band Cherokee and the entire location takes place in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina where I spent my summers growing up.

No, Inola is nothing like me…but I am very proud to have her in my life, and to present her to you in my latest novel of suspense.

Deborah J Ledford’s latest novel of suspense, CRESCENDO, is book three of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela series. Other novels include, STACCATO, and SNARE, Finalist for The Hillerman Sky Award and the NM-AZ Book Awards. Deborah is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and her award-winning short stories appear in numerous print publications as well as literary and mystery anthologies. Part Eastern Band Cherokee, she spent her summers growing up in western North Carolina where her novels are set. Deborah invites you to visit her website.

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Pre-Release Jitters by Deborah J Ledford

Okay, so the final steps for my next suspense novel, CRESCENDO, are at last being taken. All looks great for the February 19, 2013 release date. The cover turned better than I could ever have hoped, two very talented authors provided glowing blurbs for the back cover, the interior look is professional and pleasing to the eye. And after numerous read throughs of various versions my first readers, have given me their blessing…so why am I so nervous?

After all, this is Book Three of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela suspense series which takes place in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. I should be over the jitters by now, right?

Well, two full years have passed since SNARE was released and the release phase feels a little new to me. There have been a lot of changes since December 21, 2010 yet I anticipate that nothing much truly changes. I’ll still be doing my best to promote CRESCENDO at my personal page on Facebook, my STACCATO book page on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Goodreads.

In March I’ll unveil the release at the Tucson Festival of Books and the Left Coast Crime conference, as well as numerous appearances around Arizona.

The CRESCENDO Pre-Order Page is now available on the Second Wind Publishing website. Stay tuned for Amazon, Nook and Smashwords details.

Lots of excitement going on over here as I type this. As well as butterflies, worry that I’ve forgotten something crucial, nervous nights without sleep as I anticipate the birth of my next baby.

I mentioned the cover earlier. This is a visual I’ve had in mind ever since I knew we would be continuing on with the hand theme for the front covers of the entire series. The fantastic photographer, Ted Stratton from Moving Pictures LLC, took the great photograph and the fantastic writer and former art director, Martin Roselius, did the layout.

Crescendo-DJLedford- Front Cover HR

The blurbs come from Jeffrey Siger and Darrell James, both I am honored to say are not only fantastic, talented authors, but also very good friends:

“I love Deborah Ledford. Every time I tried putting CRESCENDO down Ledford hooked me into reading ‘just a few more chapters.’ The action in this book is dangerous to sleep cycles.” ~ Jeffrey Siger, author of The New York Times Book Review Pick for the Summer,Target: Tinos

“Deborah Ledford directs suspense like a highly skilled maestro, taking us on a thrill-ride that builds to a powerful, climactic conclusion.” ~Darrell James, author of the award winning novel, Nazareth Child

Soon all of the hard work over many, many months will soon be over. I can’t wait to receive my box of books from publisher Mike Simpson and his hard working Second Wind Publishing team.

I invite you to join me on the CRESCENDO journey which continues the 5th of every month here at the Second Wind blog.

Deborah J Ledford’s most recent suspense novel SNARE, The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award Finalist, is book two of her Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. STACCATO, book one of the serial, is also available. Both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing. To find out more about Deborah, receive a Free Download of the first chapters of her novels, and to read a few previously published short stories, she invites you to visit her homepage at the Second Wind Publishing website and her personal website.

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The Next Big Thing: CRESCENDO

I’ve been invited to participate in the Next Big Thing blog series, in which authors get to describe what they are working on right now. I was invited to participate by my fellow Sister in Crime member, Donis Casey, who posted her own Next Big Thing last week at http://www.doniscasey.com/?p=690.

At the end of this blog you will see other writer friends of mine who will tell you about their Next Big Thing next week. Each of us will answer the same ten questions about our upcoming books or projects. Here they are:

What is your working title of your book?
CRESCENDO is book three of my Steven Hawk/Inola Walela trilogy, scheduled for release February 19, 2013.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
Actually the first climactic scene came to me in a dream. A woman clutching a small duffel bag, her hand pulling out a fistful of money, wind whipping the bills into the air, her screaming, “Where is my son?” The visual kept haunting me until I figured out a way to work the scene into the main plot of the novel.

What genre does your book fall under?
As with all of my novels and many short stories I’ve written: Psychological Suspense

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Angelina Jolie would be the dream Inola Walela. I’ve always envisioned Henry Simmons as Steven Hawk. Tantoo Cardinal would be fantastic as Inola’s grandmother, Elisi…but Cher would be a blast!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Native American female cop risks everything to keep a boy safe.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The entire series is presented by Second Wind Publishing, an independent publisher just outside Winston-Salem, NM

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
About one month. I do my best to write 2,000 words per day when I’m working through the first draft.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
This is always a difficult question as I strive to create books and stories that are truly original. I suppose Lisa Gardner’s Gone.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
No real inspiration, except that I knew I wanted to feature a strong Native American woman. I enjoyed writing the Inola scenes with her grandmother most. Thinking I may write a novella or two featuring these two characters.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Along with this being a suspense novel, featuring the granddaughter/grandmother relationship, NA elements, probably the location of the Great Smoky Mountains of North   Carolina. It has been a pleasure sharing what I know and what I’ve discovered during my research of this breathtaking region of the nation.

Crescendo-DJLedford- Front Cover

Thanks so much for the opportunity to give you a little teaser about CRESCENDO. Here’s a bit more of a synopsis: One murdered woman. A missing child. The diabolic father who will do anything to get his son back. The female cop who risks everything to keep the boy safe.

And now, here are the links to other excellent writers who will be telling you about their own Next Big Thing during the week of December 10th.

Fellow Second Wind Publishing author, Christine Husom – www.christinehusom.webs.com
Aaron Paul Lazar - http://aaronlazar.blogspot.com/
Connie Flynn – http://imaginationgonewild322.blogspot.com/
Clark Lohr – clarklohr.com

Deborah J Ledford’s latest suspense novel SNARE, the New Mexico Book Award Finalist, and The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist, is book two of her Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. STACCATO, book one of the serial, is also available. Both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing. To find out more about Deborah, receive a Free Download of the first chapters of her novels, and to read a few previously published short stories, she invites you to visit her homepage at the Second Wind Publishing website and her personal website.

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CRESCENDO Cover Sneak Peek – by Deborah J Ledford

I am thrilled to announce that Book Three of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela series is scheduled for release February 19, 2013. Here’s a sneak peek of the cover:

As with SNARE and STACCATO, CRESCENDO features the same law enforcement characters, however the novel is a standalone—this time with Inola Walela playing the lead roll. All of these novels are presented by Second Wind Publishing.

Big thanks to Eric Beetner for suggesting CRESCENDO as the title—absolutely perfect for the final book of the suspense series.

Looking forward to sharing more highlights about this upcoming suspense novel with you in the coming months.

So, what do you think? Thumbs up, or down, for the cover?

Deborah J Ledford’s latest suspense novel SNARE, the New Mexico Book Award Finalist, and The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist, is book two of her Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. STACCATO, book one of the serial, is also available. Both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing. To find out more about Deborah, receive a Free Download of the first chapters of her novels, and to read a few previously published short stories, she invites you to visit her homepage at the Second Wind Publishing website and her personal website.

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SNARE Award Finalist – by Deborah J Ledford

I received word last week that my latest release, SNARE, is a Finalist at the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the Mystery/Suspense category. I am honored beyond words to be on the list of other nominees.

Although SNARE was released December, 2011, the New Mexico Book Awards are held every two years, therefore the book qualified for consideration. These awards are sponsored by the New Mexico Book Co-op, headed by the fabulous Paul Rhetts. He and his team received Southwest location/themed submission from all over the country, 45 categories in all. No doubt, a daunting task.

One of the main locations for SNARE is the ominous and intriguing Taos Pueblo Indian Reservation, which is the main reason the book qualified for this book award.

The complete list of Finalists can be found HERE. The awards ceremony will take place November 16th in Albuquerque, NM.

Congratulations not only go to me as the author of SNARE, but also to Second Wind Publishing for presenting these words in print and for e-readers. Huge thanks to publisher Mike Simpson, Pat Bertram and Tracy Beltran.

This validation could not come at a better time! I’m polishing the third book in the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series, Crescendo, which will be released by Second Wind Publishing mid-February, 2013.

Big thanks to everyone out there who took the time to read, review, and promote the book. Your support means more than you could possibly know. I will be most grateful for you all to continue spreading the news about SNARE.

Deborah J Ledford’s latest suspense novel SNARE, the New Mexico Book Award Finalist, and The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist, is book two of her Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. STACCATO, book one of the serial, is also available. Both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing. To find out more about Deborah, receive a Free Download of the first chapters of her novels, and to read a few previously published short stories, she invites you to visit her homepage at the Second Wind Publishing website and her personal website.

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Edit for the Editor – by Deborah J Ledford

Whether you write novels or short stories, once you’ve polished your final draft give your pages another look and keep the following in mind.

Simple editing examples:
Rework “was” words to make more active:
1) “He pointed to the hat that was on the counter.” = Merely deleting “that was” makes the sentence more active.
2) “There was the smell of garlic in the air.” Instead consider: “The aroma of garlic permeated the air and filled his nostrils, taking him back a decade to his grandmother’s kitchen.”

By presenting the passage this way, you not only kill the “was” word, you present the character’s emotion, and tap into the sense of smell, which is the strongest memory center of all the senses.

PET PEEVES:
WORDS: Was, that, with, it, just. In many cases you won’t need “That” or “with”.
Clarify “it” whenever possible.
Reword sentences with “was” whenever possible. Sometimes only “was” will work, however do your best to fully flesh out your sentences actively.
ADVERBS: Kill them all—if at all possible.
CLICHES: Never
SIMILES: Do your best to avoid them, or make the “was like” an original description.

Word Counts (markets may vary—check Submission Guidelines on websites):
Flash Fiction: 50-500 (sometimes up to 1,000) words
Short Story: 1,00-7,000 (although many editors prefer to receive no more than 5,000 words)
Long Story: 7,000-10,000 words
Novella: up to 15,000-40,000 words
Novels: 80-90,000 words maximum ideally (except for Historical Fiction)

PRINT OUT YOUR PAGES and read them out loud. You’ll be amazed by how many errors you will find. Especially echo words.

READ:
Read a lot. Read everything. However resist reading within your genre while you’re writing your first draft. You don’t want to risk finding yourself falling into another author’s voice.

You will also need to be familiar with authors and titles within your genre to get a feel for the market when you’re ready to compile your query letter list for agents, or publications for short story markets.

MY PERSONAL WORK PROCESS while writing a first draft:
I shoot for 2,000 words, or one full chapter per day. I compose the first draft of the chapter, print it out, edit, load the revisions to my Master File, print that version out, revise, load revisions…and so on until I’m pleased with the chapter. Then I print the pages out once more and read them out loud.

This turns out to be about the 7th or 8th draft, which saves me a lot of time editing subsequent drafts.

BUT overworking can be detrimental. I keep a DELETES file and drop elements I kill into that Word document. You never know what you will want later.

REMEMBER, your main objective is to complete your writing journey. If you prefer to write your novel straight through, even if it comes to 200,000 words, that’s fine. Every writer has their own process. Do whatever works best for you.

Your editor will love it if you keep all of these elements in mind.

Deborah J Ledford’s latest suspense novel SNARE, The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist, is book two of her Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. STACCATO, book one of the serial, is also available. Both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing. To find out more about Deborah, receive a Free Download of the first chapters of her novels, and to read a few previously published short stories, she invites you to visit her homepage at the Second Wind Publishing website and her personal website.

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Summer Writing Conferences – by Deborah J Ledford

Okay, six full months have passed in this new year…have you kept your promise to focus and finish that manuscript you’ve been working on for far too long? If you need a little nudge, here are a few conferences certain to motivate.

The Book Passage Mystery Conference is a highly respected, small and intense conference July 19-22, 2012 – Corte Madera, CA. Two of my favorite authors will be featured during this four-day event: Cara Black, author of the Paris-based Aimee Leduc mystery series, and my all time favorite female thriller author, Karin Slaughter.  Also stoked that my critique group colleague, Arthur Kerns, will be appearing on the Law Enforcement panel where he’ll discuss his time as an FBI Special Agent and a CIA agent.

The Taos Summer Writer’s Conference, July 15-22, 2012 looks to be an intriguing conference. Touted as one of the top 10 writer’s conferences in the US by USA Today, is held in stunning northern New   Mexico. Taos is one of my favorite areas in the nation, which is why I selected the Taos Pueblo Indian Reservation for one of the main locations of my latest thriller, SNARE, book two of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. If anyone out there has attended this conference, please leave us a comment about your experience.

As current President of the Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths Chapter, I would be remiss not to mention our annual mystery writers conference, “Criminal Minds: Investigating Today’s Writing Scene” August 11, 2012 at the Millennium Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. We have a fantastic lineup this year, including licensed psychotherapist and author Dennis Palumbo, publicity guru Dana Kaye, multi-award-winning author Sean Chercover, and an FBI Special Agent. In addition, acquisitions editor for the East Coast-based Five Star Publishing (an imprint of the internationally renowned Gale Publishing), Denise Dietz, will be accepting 15-minute pitches.

I’m most excited about learning more about marketing and PR from Dana Kaye, owner of Kaye Publicity. She has created innovative media campaigns for award-winning, bestselling authors such as Jaime Freveletti, Jesse Kellerman and one of my all-time favorite thriller authors, Gregg Hurwitz—methods that have proven successful.

I’d love to see you if you’ll be in the Phoenix, AZ area in August. Please visit the Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths Chapter website for complete conference and registration details.

Wishing you a fantastic summer of writing!

Deborah J Ledford’s latest suspense novel SNARE, The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist, is book two of her Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. STACCATO, book one of the serial, is also available. Both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing. To find out more about Deborah, receive a Free Download of the first chapters of her novels, and to read a few previously published short stories, she invites you to visit her homepage at the Second Wind Publishing website and her personal website.

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Rubicon Ranch Released – by Deborah J Ledford

It’s been a pleasure collaborating with eight other Second Wind Publishing authors to create the mystery novel Rubicon Ranch: Riley’s Story. Many readers have been patient, reading chapter by chapter as they are released online. Now I’m thrilled to announce that Rubicon Ranch: Riley’s Story is now available for all markets.

Kudos to Second Wind Publishing for presenting another publication opportunity for Lazarus Barnhill, Eric Beetner, Nichole R Bennett, Pat Bertram, JJ Dare, Christine Husom, JB Kohl, Nancy A Niles and myself.

The Trade Paperback print version is now available from Second Wind Publishing and Amazon. E-book versions are available for the Kindle and on Smashwords.

Some of the authors of Rubicon Ranch: Riley’s Story had such a great time working on this collaboration that we’ve started Rubicon Ranch: Necropieces, book two of the ongoing saga. Once again, this novel will unfold online chapter by chapter at the Second Wind Publishing blog. Can’t wait to see what kind of mischief I can create for my character, retired Lieutenant Colonel Eloy Templeton Franklin, this time around.

Deborah J Ledford’s latest suspense novel SNARE, The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist, is book two of her Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. STACCATO, book one of the serial, is also available. Both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing. To find out more about Deborah, receive a Free Download of the first chapters of her novels, and to read a few previously published short stories, she invites you to visit her website.

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