The blog content here is not always family friendly. I OCCASIONALLY write/review in erotica, extreme violence, horror, foul language and otherwise questionable content. I will warn the readers when this content occurs.



Monday, October 28, 2013

Please welcome my guest Yolanda Renee, romantic suspense author of  Murder, Madness & Love, the sequel Memories of Murder. Take it away Yolanda . . .

As with most writers, I've been at it pretty much since I first picked up a pencil. My favorite classes always involved writing, including my Master's program. Give me a writing assignment and I'm all over it! It's one reason I love flash fiction challenges.

When it comes to writing style, I'm a pantster and a plotter. An idea forms and I will sit and write for however long it takes to get it out of my head. And I'm talking about all the characters, their voices, descriptions, and even dialogue–pantster. When on a project I can be very single minded.

 My first story came to me in a continuous flow, and took thirty-six hours to get down on paper. It's about a young woman who writes a novel about the mysterious disappearance of her mother. The book is to be made into a movie, and the author/antagonist is asked to be a consultant. During the filming they solve the mystery, and romance blooms between the author and the actor/detective. That story is still sitting in a file drawer. A good mystery requires intricate details, timing, and critical clues; and that's where plotting is vital.

I'm lucky that my family puts up with all my bad writing habits. Although they sometimes resent the lack of food on the table or the absence of clean towels in the linen closet, they are supportive. Of course, that may be because I'm the only one who can cook, who cares about a clean organized house, and the only one who knows how to use the washer and dryer. It's so good to be needed!

I'm also partial to a happy ending. Growing up in a very dysfunctional family will do that. My mother had seven pregnancies and five children by the time she was twenty-five. Married at the age of sixteen, her life was hell and her parenting skills reflected that. I was out and on my own at the age of seventeen, and determined that I would have that happy ending for my own life. I've had too many bad endings not to want the happy in my fantasy life!

I'm still working toward that end, and my writing reflects that. Although I've sometimes thought that my obsession with murder was a reflection of my own dark side – an overly sweet disposition hiding a true serial killer. Okay, not true; but I couldn't resist! I mean seriously wouldn't that make for an interesting blog post – mystery writer comes out as serial killer! Awesome headline, but completely false. I'm easily scared, squeamish, and highly emphatic; but somehow I manage to kill my characters with a relish that surprises even me.

I write mysteries or crime dramas because I've enjoyed mysteries since my first library card – Nancy Drew, Judy Bolton, Agatha Christie's Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, and the indomitable Sir Author Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. I also read Danielle Steel, Harold Robbins, Ray Bradbury, J R R Tolkien, and all the controversial books: Soul on Ice, Valley of the Dolls, etc. One of my favorites is, Gone with the Wind, and don't even get me started on Stephen King! I was a voracious reader and still am. I love books and the places they take me and read between 100 and 200 books a year.

Combining mystery and romance was always my goal, and I tried to do justice to both. I wanted Murder, Madness & Love to be a good mystery with a romance that interfered in the investigation. I took a few details from my own life to make the romance authentic. For instance, hubby and I swear we fell in love at first sight and during our first dance. He said I love you before me, and he proposed after only three months. It took me six months to say yes, and we eloped on Valentine's Day. I used all that in the story, but I'm not sure that people today believe in love at first sight, or marriage. I wanted Steven Quaid to lose himself in his feeling for Sarah, and the fact that he does moves the story in a new direction and directly to the next book Memories of Murder.

As for the character of Sarah, I based her on my mother, and named her after the daughter I never had. Sarah is an artist, just like my mother and while mom has never killed anyone – I clearly saw her in the role of the Black Widow. She was / is a woman who attracted men – and made her husband, my dad, a very, jealous man! Sarah's personality and sophistication came directly from how I viewed her when I was growing up. I wanted to be her, despite her lack of parenting skills, she's an awesome woman and with a bit of tweaking – a great character. Just promise me that none of you will tell her!

The character of Steven Quaid is a combination of traits I found during my research of the Tlingit tribe, stoic, determined and a great dancer. I always knew I wanted an Alaskan setting and an Alaskan hero. He had to be handsome, passionate about his job, and odd in that he's the one who wants the white picket fence! His anger and passion come from his Irish and Indian background, but I've never met any one man like him. Although, if I had, I certainly wouldn't have thrown him out of bed for eating crackers! Again, don't tell my husband. These are all secrets that I'm counting on you to keep! Hubby loves telling anyone who will listen, that I killed him off in the first chapter, so I'm sure he wouldn't be surprised by these revelations.

Why did I choose the black widow theme? Because it works. The technical term is misandry – the hatred of men as a sexually defined group, but the term black widow is preferred. It only really fits if the female has murdered two or more husbands or significant others, but when money is an issue, it quickly comes to mind. The term black widow is a favorite label, especially if the man dies under curious circumstances, for instance a car accident in a new Porsche, as in Murder, Madness & Love.

 Did you know that the history of misandry goes as far back as before 1600 BC? The first recorded instance was Queen Jia Xia of China who "killed three husbands, one ruler, and one son, and ruined one state and two ministers.” Another woman named "White-necked Crow," also of China, killed 36 husbands around the year 940 AD. The latest black widow killer in 2013 is 70 year old Colleen Ann Harris of California, who shot and killed her 3rd husband, and is suspected of murdering her 2nd husband also. "It is unknown how the 1st husband died."

Thanks Donna, for asking me to visit and discuss the choices I made while writing Murder, Madness & Love!

Yolanda Renée
Blogger at Defending the Pen

An adventurous spirit took Yolanda Renée to Alaska where she hiked the Brooks Range, traveled from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, and learned to sleep under the midnight sun.

She claims her vivid imagination as a blessing, a habit, a hobby, a calling and sometimes a curse.

Renée now resides in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, two sons, and Boston terrier, Patches.

Murder, Madness Love
Yolanda Renée

After a gritty detective becomes involved with a beautiful widow suspected of murder, rumor and obsession obstruct his quest for justice.

Sunlight blazes on an empty canvas.

Arctic winds gather snowflakes on a frosty window ledge as a statuesque form appears. She moves past a table littered with papers. Headlines splash news of murder, but it's the photo of another young woman with features mirroring her own that draws her attention.

A different headline peeks from underneath the Anchorage Times.

Wealthy Businessman Dies in Car Crash ... BLACK WIDOW SUSPECTED!

Graphic images swirl through her head and a tear rolls down her cheek. She drifts toward an easel and a trembling hand dips a sable brush into a palette of paint.
The Westminster doorbell chimes. The brush slips and blood-red paint stains the floor. 

Detective Steven Quaid waits. His Tlingit, Indian features carved from granite, mask his Irish passion ...

Will he arrest her this time? 

All fingers point to her guilt. 

But, is she guilty of this cunning plot? Or, just a victim of circumstantial evidence?

The door opens ...

His eyes lock on hers ... 

His heart races ...

Hers skips a beat.

~Available at~
AmazonKoboB & N

My Review:

Murder, Madness and Love by Yolanda Renee, is a romantic suspense novel about a high power woman who has become the inspiration for a series of murders in blizzard covered Anchorage Alaska. Although I’m not normally a romance reader, I picked up this novel because I've read and enjoyed flash fiction excerpts on Ms. Renee’s blog. A lot of the story elements had a cozy mystery/Regency feel to them.

As with a cozy mystery, the heroine Sarah Palmer is a woman of high intelligence and social standing, embroiled in a murder mystery only she has the information to solve. Where this romance differs however, is that Sarah Palmer is not the actual person investigating the serial murders. As Detective Steven Quaid realizes Sarah is the mysterious snow angel he was instantly attracted to before he knew how she was involved in the serial murders, he delegates the Anchorage investigation to travel to Seattle and clear her name in the death of her husband.

Set in the contemporary world with all its modern conveniences, the story has the feel of a Regency romance because of its focus on the social events, match-making, dinners, proper manners, and the delegation of responsibilities to trusted underlings. Sarah’s company – Palmer Industries – is run by her dead husband’s partner Gerry, leaving her plenty of free time to organize charity balls, lavish dinner parties, and retreats to Cliff House in LaPush WA for painting and recreation. Due to accusations that she killed her husband a year ago, the social circles are rife with gossip, which puts Sarah at odds with Detective Quaid while she protects the innocence of all her friends and business associates. 

The handsome gentlemen in Sarah’s life are all skilled investigators and executives, filled with warmth and family concern. Even in the midst of a crisis, they are solicitous to the physical and emotional needs of Sarah and more importantly, their own family obligations. In true romantic style, the investigations and murders are quickly narrated past unless pertaining directly to the developing romance between the two main characters, and the ghastly murders are described with phrases such as bloody or beyond description.

I enjoyed how the author mixed the feel of the Ton with a modern romance, and used the normal turns of the gossip mill to develop back story and characterization through dialogue. She was also skilled at adding multiple twists and turns to keep the conclusion as much an uncertainty as the happily ever after ending. Fans of Danielle Steel or Mary Stewart will enjoy the jet-setting social structure and common courtesy often missing in the contemporary romance.

I give the romantic suspense novel Murder, Madness & Love 4 stars.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

She might not have been the best parent, but your mother sounds like she was incredibly tough, especially to survive all of that.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Donna and Yolanda - yes as Alex says what an upbringing .. and you obviously decided on a different route as best you could.

I loved mysteries as a kid .. Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh and many more .. Father Brown stories et al ..

Cheers to you both and good luck with all your novels and writings - Hilary

Yolanda Renee said...

Lot's of tough women in my family, Alex! Mom did the best she could!

Hiliary, a very different route, and very determined to prove the world wrong! Happy to say that I have.

Thanks, both of you for stopping by and commenting.

Donna, thanks for the great review, and for hosting me, almost forgot what I'd written, and now putting on a hat and dark glasses. Oops!

Chris Fries said...

Wow -- what an in-depth guest post, Yolanda! I learned a lot about you and about your book, and Donna's review was great. It sounds like a wonderful story!

I also like happy endings. ;) I hope this book leads to many happy endings for you!!!

DEZMOND said...

What a short post this was, Donnzie :PPP

Congrats to Yolanda on her book!

Christine Rains said...

The black widow theme really does work. It made me wonder about Sarah all the way through, even when you were narrating from her POV! Wonderful to get to know more about you. Have a great week!

Pat Hatt said...

Wow, learned a bit there. Must have been rough growing up and being out at 17.

T. Drecker said...

I find mysteries hard to write, but love to read them. Thanks for letting us get to know you more. I'm looking forward to reading this.

Maurice Mitchell said...

I love happy endings Yolanda and yours is the best one. It's great that you found your passion and didn't let yourself become bitter. Thanks for hosting Donna!

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

Your book sounds very interesting.

Yolanda Renee said...

Thanks Chris, may have shared a little too much. LOL

Sorry Dez - I can go on and on!

Christine, thanks, so veryglad you enjoyed the book!

Pat, a little rough at times, but I've always been a very determined individual, or is that stubborn as hell. :)

T. Drecker, mysteries are tough, but I found the characters made it easy, they led the way!

Maurice, it is a happy one, isn't it, and no time for bitterness - to busy writing! LOL

Hey Michael, thanks for stopping by!

Thanks again Donna, you're a dear!

L.G. Smith said...

I love that you and your husband fell in love at first sight. We do enjoy that sort of thing in books and movies too. It's great to be able to use your real world experiences and emotions in your writing.

Yolanda Renee said...

Thanks L G, that's our story and we're sticking to it! LOL

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Donna, Hi, Yolanda,

Wow, so interesting to see that your mother was the basis for Sarah. No teenager could handle motherhood, no matter how much she tries. It's such a HUGE responsibility. Adults can barely handle it.

It's great you appreciate her now. It is tough to raise yourself. But from what Ive seen You DID VERY WELL!!!!

Terrific review, Donna. This book is on my next TBR list. Such a great premise.

Denise Covey said...

Hi girlfriends! Great interview, Yolanda. How much more is there to learn about you, my friend! So many layers, but all of them reveal a lady who writes, and writes mysterious romances. I think, like Donna says, romance might not be some readers' thing, but with all the murder and intrigue happening, it's certainly not a simple romance, but with a strong romantic element.

Ladies, great post. I'm about halfway through Memories of Murder and can definitely say I'm enjoying it even more than Murder, Madness and Love. I will do a review when I get it finished, but egad, November looms darkly....:D

Donna Hole said...

Hello Everyone :)

Thank you very much for stopping by and offering your support and encouragement to Yolanda. I hope you all enjoy the book as much as you enjoyed the guest post.

I will be surfing around the blogs the next couple days, but tonight I've had other off-line matters to handle.

Yolanda: thanks for the awesome post, and the insights into your personal and writing process. I am honored you shared on my site. It has been a pleasure working with you on this collaboration.

Wishing you much luck with your writing and publishing endeavors :)


Yolanda Renee said...

Hey Michael, thanks for stopping by! You're supposed to be soaking up the sun! LOL Mom, did the best she could, getting married that young was done back then. My aunt was married at the age of 14 - totally ridiculous.

Denise, thanks! Appreciate that you're enjoying Memories. I think we're all deeply layered people, and does it influence the writing - you bet! Looking forward to your next review, thanks again!

Donna, you've been awesome through out the entire process. Thank you,now enjoy your break - I'm going to try and take one too. I have some writing to do! LOL

Ella said...

Well done Donna and Yolanda!
Your mother sounds tough~ My grandmother had 4 children by 23 and was a widow. YOU shared so many fascinating layers-I can't wait to bury myself in your book! I know once I start, nothing will get done ;D

Lexa Cain said...

"but somehow I manage to kill my characters with a relish that surprises even me." That made me laugh, Yolanda! I sort of write for the same reason as you - I want things to have happy ending because they never seen to happen in real life. Wishing you much success with your new book!

Great review, Donna! I got a good sense of the atmosphere of the book and love the idea of a lot of twists.

Cate Masters said...

Congrats on the great review, Yolanda!

Murdering 36 husbands? That sounds like a full-time job!

Yolanda Renee said...

Thanks Ella, I think the true 'kick-ass' women of the times aren't the one's who kick ass so much as make it through a touch life with grace and class! I can't wait to hear what you think!

Lexa - Hehe! me too, happy endings are important. Escape from life into a book has to have its reward!

Cate: Thanks, that would be a full time job, wouldn't it!

klahanie said...

Hi Donna and Yolanda,

Once again, I'm fashionably late. I hate being fashionably late. Can somebody please send me a clone.

Although not exactly recommended, having being subjected to a dysfunctional family and the hellish situations, indeed, ironically, was the catalyst that inspired you to better your own life. Live the dream, one way or another.

You know that Gary, my alleged human and I, wish you all the success you desire, in all aspects of your life.

Pawsitive wishes to you and hi to Patches,

Penny :)

Julie Flanders said...

I loved Yolanda's book and it was so interesting to learn more about the inspirations for Sarah and Stephen. Late to this post but what a great read.

Yolanda Renee said...

Hey Gary, uh, I mean Penny:

Thank you for stopping by, fashionably late or not, it's nice to have you visit. Patches says hi back!

So glad you enjoyed to the book! Thanks, you've made my day!