Sunday, April 7, 2013

Guest Author Day with Terry Ambrose

Welcome to my Reading Nook, Terry Ambrose. Please make yourself at home and let my cabana boys/girls get you a drink.

Comfortable? Wonderful. Now let’s get started.

Tell us about your favorite character from your books.

Oh Dawn, I have a lot of trouble with that question. To me, it's like asking a parent which of your kids do you love the most? I like different aspects of each character. In PHOTO FINISH, I love McKenna's quick wit and his snarky attitude. In LICENSE TO LIE, Roxy's ability to lie without batting an eye and Skip's cool under pressure are my favorite traits. 

Tell us about your current/upcoming release. What inspired this story? You might say that LICENSE TO LIE was inspired by the war between the sexes. Human behavior fascinates me. Why do men look at things differently then women? What about law men and criminals? Where one sees a crime, the other just sees a an opportunity. The genesis for LICENSE TO LIE was rooted in those differences. I wanted to deal with both sides of the issue in a way that hadn't been done before. That desire ultimately led me to write LICENSE TO LIE, which has the tag line, never trust a soul...even your own.

When in the day/night do you write? How long per day? My schedule is so weird because I'm never quite sure when I'll write. We run our own business, so like so many writers, I have to squeeze in time when I can. With that said, one of the best tricks I learned was to turn off email and social media. If I can get in two solid hours on writing, I can get a lot done. If my schedule allows more time, I'm delighted!

What is the hardest part of writing your books? The hardest part of writing the McKenna Mysteries is being funny. Writing suspense is far easier than creating a situation that will make people laugh. So often, the line that I thought was hysterical and laughed so hard about when I wrote it falls flat either when I read it in an edit...or worse, when readers don't get the joke.

What does your family think of your writing career? My wife has been very supportive of my writing career. And, in fact, she's turned into an excellent editor. However, I won't show her a manuscript until the second draft is complete. I want her to be able to react without any prior knowledge so that her criticism will be similar to that of a distanced reader.

What do you think makes a good story? Conflict. Conflict. CONFLICT!!! If conflict doesn't exist on the page, either in the form of the character facing a difficult situation or person, the scene becomes nothing more than exposition as far as I'm concerned. This doesn't mean there needs to be a gun battle or car chase on every page. In fact, just the opposite. I think writers resort to violence on the page far too often. The writers who can put two characters with opposing goals on the same page and make them go against each other without throwing in lots of violence are my favorites.

Plotter or Pantser? Why? I'm a bit of both. Even though my novels have a lot of twists and turns, those twist are
driven by the characters. I'll start out with an overall idea of where the story will go and will have most of the major plot points in the beginning. However, along the way, as new characters become involved in the story, new twists crop up. I like this process because it makes the writing of the story a journey.

How do you develop your plots and your characters? Do you use any set formula?
If there's a formula, it's stimulus and response.

Here's how the plot for LICENSE TO LIE started. I wanted two equal protagonists with opposing goals. Roxy Tanner, a con artist, is about to close a huge deal when her father disappears. Skip Cosgrove is brought in to help Roxy find her missing father. Skip, who is a criminologist, soon realizes that he's over his head and must make choices that conflict with Roxy's.

The real problem for both protagonists is that they're attracted to each other...for different reasons. Skip finds himself falling hard for Roxy and knows he should walk away, but he can't because he suspects her of fraud. Roxy sees Skip as a conduit to one of the richest men in San Diego and the score of a lifetime.

Once I had those two characters in mind, the story became like a game of chess. For each move that one character would make, there was a logical countermove by the other. As each character becomes more involved with the other, their choices just become harder and the stakes larger.

So, those moves and countermoves, which are all part of the character responses to each different stimulus that appears along the way, shape the plot and the next stimulus, which influences the protagonists to generate more plot twists and turns.

What book are you reading now? Any favorite authors/books you want to do a shout out for? Right now, I'm reading an ARC of “The Famous and the Dead” by T. Jefferson Parker. He's definitely on my list of favorites, as is Hank Phillippi Ryan for the way she dealt out the twists and turns, but also the angst between her two main characters, in “The Other Woman.”

What do you do to unwind and relax? I swim a few times a week and I really should take more walks. I've also become addicted to trips to Starbucks to get me into an environment where there are no phones and, until I'm ready to connect, no Internet.

Are you a morning person or night person? I'm definitely a morning person. This is the opposite of what I was when I was younger.

Coffee, tea or other drink to get you moving in the morning?   I get started right away with nothing more than water. But, I'll have some coffee around 10 or so.

What is coming up from you in 2013? Anything you want to tease us with?
I have two releases coming this year. The second McKenna Mystery will be out this summer. In that, McKenna goes to Kauai to get a story on an identity theft ring and finds more trouble in paradise.

The sequel to License to Lie will be out late in the year. So far, it has a tag line of no matter how strong you are, everyone has a breaking point.

Anything else you want to add?

My newsletter is called The Snitch. It provides recipes, contest information, and writing news along with first crack at getting Advance Review Copies of future books.  Find the latest edition of The Snitch or learn more at

Photo Finish:
Catch island fever with Wilson McKenna as he tracks down a killer, a con, and exposes island secrets.
Amazon link for Photo Finish:

License to Lie: Never trust a soul...even your own.

Two experts in the art of communications. Both are driven by their goalsand theyre on opposite sides of the law. But, when her father is kidnapped, they join forcesand learn that with $5,000,000 and their lives on the line, its hard to trust each otheror themselves.

Amazon link for License to Lie:

Excerpt from LICENSE TO LIE:

 I was eight years old when I discovered how badly I wanted to live—and how easy it would be to die.  I’ve lived with that lesson for twenty years.  Despite all the cons and scams I’ve pulled, despite all the lies I’ve told during those years, I’ve never revealed that one simple truth.  I’ll probably die with my secret.  Given the life I’ve chosen, maybe sooner than I’d like.
My mouse hovered over the bank balance number on my computer monitor.  I wet my lips and suppressed a giggle.  I exaggerated each syllable as I mouthed, “Four mil-lion eight hundred thirty-seven thousand two hundred ninety-eight dollars.”
I winked at the monitor.  “And fifteen cents.”
Rustling noises from the other room drifted in.  My secretary getting settled.
“One last investor.” The words came out as no more than a breath.  Soft as the silk of my favorite blouse.
I nudged the number with my mouse as though I could bump the dollar amount up by sheer force of will.  It didn’t matter.
I had that last investor on the hook.  In about 15 minutes, he’d park himself in the chair opposite my desk.  Closing the deal would be easy.  A pretty smile.  Chitchat like I was interested. Flirt as though I cared.  I’d learned a lot in the past twenty years. Especially about how to bury pain.

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