**Blog Tour** Her Last Breath by J. A. Schneider

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I’m very pleased to be taking part in the Blog Tour for Her Last Breath, the second psychological thriller by J.A. Schneider,  released on October 21st and described as…

A chilling psychological thriller about a woman caught between two men…
Mari Gill wakes to horror in a strange apartment next to a murdered man, and can’t remember the night before. Accused of murder, she feels torn between her husband, a successful defense attorney, and a mysterious, kind man who wants to help. Can she trust either of them – or even her friends? Detective Kerri Blasco battles her police bosses believing Mari is innocent…but is she?

Here, Joyce writes about how and where she writes and I totally understand her need for peace and quiet and the hectic days of raising small children! 

How and Where I Write

 by J.A. Schneider 

First, disclosure: my children are grown. As any author with young kids knows, that makes all the difference. I remember entire days never taking my jacket off, dropping off, picking up, driving to lessons, waiting trying to write in the car, or making a mad dash to the supermarket and then running back to pick up again. And always, in the scrambled-brains head, trying to figure the next page, the next sentence. I wrote in the oddest places! Once I got a whole two pages down in a pediatrician’s waiting room, filled with yelling, bawling, sneezing, coughing kids. “A contagion ward,” my husband called it when I got home. Oh yeah, I came down with strep thirty-six hours later. Couldn’t write or do much of anything for days. 

Frustrating times, end of disclosure. I was, and am, a good mom, but I’ve never forgotten those early, hard days of writing, the feeling of struggling against chaos. 

Which is why I now love as few distractions as possible…and sameness, predictability. Writing Fear Dreams and Her Last Breath, I tried to work daily from noon to six, give or take, in the same small room usually lying on my back on pillows with my laptop on my knees. It was pretty much the same writing my Embryo medical thriller series. The curtains stay closed, because if I look out I’ll fret that there’s weeding that needs doing or quick – move the car, it’s blocking the driveway, or no end of things. Even with the blinds closed, a gorgeous, glowing shaft of light will squeeze through and start slowly sweeping across the rug, and I’ll stare at it. Two minutes pass – it’s moved, the earth is turning faster than we realize, it’s like watching an ancient timepiece. Concentrate, self, I’ll think. Focus

Writing is incredibly hard, and it never gets easier. Thinking is hard. That, plus what I consider the hardest part: the first draft, the weeks and months of the daily blank page. For editing, after I’ve gone through all the tough, early drafts and I finally know what my story’s about…then I could work in Starbucks, or while waiting somewhere to pick up a loved one, or even standing in line at the supermarket, going over a familiar page in search of typos. 

But that’s when the story’s down, the hardest mental lifting part is over. For the weeks and months preceding that, I practically need a monk’s cell to do the job. And even then, I’d notice the spider spinning her web and become fascinated, or hear a bird and want to run to see it. Once, on a windy November day, I heard the most delicate thump against the window, and I had to run out and see. A little sparrow had broken its neck, and for the rest of the day my heart was broken. What do you do with a poor little dead sparrow? I got busy, it found is final resting place under a blue hydrangea, but I felt too depressed after that to work. 

Friends have suggested that I use earphones and listen to music. “It’s terrific,” they tell me. “Shuts out the world!” 

Wouldn’t work with me. I’d be constantly tempted to switch to Bob Seger, wake up my sleepy head with his “Roll Me Away,” or “Centerfield.” I love music. Have no need for earphones, actually, music often goes through my mind as I write. There are some Beethoven concertos that also help. 

But those daily six hours in my “cell,” argh, headache. Once, writing Her Last Breath, I decided to give my smart NYPD Detective Kerri Blasco a headache she had to force herself through. It worked. The scene got written because I made the character feel what I felt. 

Eureka! Writing that scene was my first taste of a new kind of progress – give my problems to my characters, let them slog their way through it. A lot of writing got done that day of Kerri’s headache. Maybe I won’t need that monk’s cell after all… 

Her Last Breath is available to purchase here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
 
J.A. (Joyce Anne) Schneider is a former staffer at Newsweek Magazine, a wife, mom, and reading addict. She loves thrillers…which may seem odd, since she was once a major in French Literature – wonderful but sometimes heavy stuff. Now, for years, she has become increasingly fascinated with medicine, forensic science, and police procedure. Decades of being married to a physician who loves explaining medical concepts and reliving his experiences means there’ll often be medical angles even in “regular” thrillers that she writes. She lives with her family in Connecticut, USA.
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Read My Latest Musings & Writing Tips

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You can now read my latest writing tips and book review in the current edition of The Fens – a FREE lifestyle magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens.

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This month, continuing on from last month, I offer another 5 tips to those of you thinking about writing your first novel:

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And this month’s book review is for the wonderfully witty crime caper, A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza, by the equally witty author, Pete Adams.

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Also, if you turn to page 16 you’ll see there’s a chance to win a signed, personalised copy of 183 Times A Year – offer ends 10th October!

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So – what are you waiting for? Grab your copy and enter NOW! Good luck.

If you are interested in reading recent editions of The Fens simply click here to take a look.

Another Wonderful Book Review and Shed Loads of Heart!

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After a not so brilliant start to my day this morning I was more than chuffed and cheered up tremendously when I read this recent lovely review of 183 Times A Year by writer Beverley Harvey.

Thank you Beverley!

Book Review: 183 Times a Year by Eva Jordan

Eva Jordan’s debut novel 183 Times a Year is the story of beleaguered mum Lizzie and angst-ridden teenage daughter Cassie’s relationship and their chaotic ‘blended’ family.

Thanks to a first person narrative by Lizzie and Cassie alternately, we get both sides of the story. There is never any confusion about who’s talking as the two protagonists have their own distinct tone of voice.

A rich supporting cast of characters speeds the action along and the goodies and baddies are clearly flagged from the outset. Other family members add depth to Lizzie and Cassie’s characters (for instance, Cassie’s empathy for her cancer-suffering Nan rescues her from being a monster), then there are friends, boyfriends and a loathsome ex-husband to contend with; all vividly drawn and believable.

It’s a book of two halves; the first is brimming with laugh-out-loud comedy – mainly due to Cassie’s utterly selfish take on the world, and her frequent malapropisms. In the second half, the book takes on a darker tone, becoming less slapstick and more thought-provoking. You’ll get no plot spoilers from me – but a shocking twist changes the direction of this novel entirely, adding layers and depth.

The complex (and often toxic) mother-daughter relationship theme will resonate with women everywhere and you don’t have to be a parent to get it; if you are child-free, just think back to your own teenage tempest. Expect a roller coaster of emotions that includes tears, laughter, anger and indignation. Above all, this book has shed-loads of heart.

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You can read the original review here on Beverley’s website.