AUTHOR: Colleen Collins
BOOK TITLE: THE NEXT RIGHT THING (release date March 2013, but available for pre-order)
BUY LINK (Amazon): http://www.amazon.com/Next-Right-Thing-Harlequin-Superromance/dp/0373718403
GIVEAWAY? Happy to giveaway several copies of the book when they arrive (I should be getting my authors’ copies sometime mid-to-late February). Be sure to leave contact information, so Colleen can contact you to arrange for delivery.
Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? What genre do you write in and why?
I published my first novel, a romantic comedy, in 1997 for Harlequin’s now-defunct Love & Laughter line. After that I wrote different romance subgenres, including paranormal romance and romantic suspense. In the last 9 years, I have worked as a private investigator, which affected my writing. I wrote a mystery (THE ZEN MAN), and several nonfiction books on private investigations. Now I’m paring back on my PI career and focusing on writing, thrilled to be working again with my Harlequin editor, Wanda Ottewell, who is the senior editor for their Super Romance line.
Tell me about your current book which you are promoting.
Probably no surprise it features a female private eye. Here’s the book blurb:
Tough-minded private investigator Cammie Copello always gets results, even if it means stepping into a gray area where rules are broken. That gray area is what caused the breach between her and high-profile attorney Marc Hamilton. But when his career is on the line, and the only one who can save it is Cammie, she has to make a choice that will either redeem or shatter both their worlds, and hearts, for the rest of their lives…for Cammie, what is the next right thing?
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been a full-time writer since 1986 (I worked as a technical writer for a number of years). I sold my first novel in 1996 (it was published the following year), and I’ve written 24 books (fiction and nonfiction) since then.
What got you interested in writing, and what inspired you to write your first book?
Even when I was a kid, I was always writing. But it’s one thing to dabble, and another to make a commitment to writing as a career. I think an impetus for me to take my fiction writing seriously was when I moved to Colorado in 1989. It was a pivotal time in my life, lots of change, and it seemed the right time to make a serious commitment to writing. I told myself I would write every day until I finished my first novel, and I did.
Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?
I’m an outliner. I don’t start writing the book until I’m happy with the synopsis.
What comes first: the plot or the characters?
Did your book require a lot of research? How long does it take to write a book for you?
I always do a lot of research when writing a book. However, for THE NEXT RIGHT THING, I certainly didn’t need to research what it’s like to be a female PI in today’s world. Nor did I need to research all of the types of equipment or techniques a PI employs. I say “all” because I still double-checked some newer tools before I wrote about them.
It takes me anywhere from three to six months to write a book.
What are some of the challenges in your writing process?
Describe your writing space.
I’d like to say I have an office with a lovely view, but I don’t. I write in bed. I have a snazzy backrest that’s my “chair.”
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing, I sometimes conduct investigations for my husband’s law practice. He used to be my PI partner, but now that he’s a lawyer, I’m his live-in PI (sounds like the makings of a story, doesn’t it?) Otherwise, I love walking our dogs, cooking, watching movies, and pretending I know how to garden.
What do you see for the future of publishing and e-books?
It’s been a whirlwind of self-publishing these past few years. Some authors have become millionaires, others produce wonderful ebooks but they make very little money. I’d be surprised if this glut of ebooks continues. I think Amazon and other e-distribution venues will start competing with authors more. Maybe they’ll want a higher percentage for each book, or maybe they’ll tighten their self-publishing policies as they build their own publishing units. Who knows? I have a feeling we’ll look back at this time as the Wild West of E-Pub’ing.
What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release?
THE NEXT RIGHT THING will be available March 2013, but people can pre-order e-versions or print now. I’m working on a sequel (working title LOST AND FOUND) that will be out late 2013. And a third book in the series (as yet untitled) to be out in 2014. All these books will be released by Harlequin.
I’ll be self-publishing a nonfiction book (SECRETS OF A REAL-LIFE FEMALE PRIVATE EYE) sometime later in 2013.
What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
Join a writer’s organization. Find a critique group you feel comfortable with so you can share your writing and learn how to critique others, too. Write everyday. Read, read, read.
Where can people learn more about you and your work?
Writing blog: Colleen Collins Books http://colleencollinsbooks.com/
Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Colleen-Collins/e/B001H6SFP8
Private investigations blog (many articles are geared to writers): Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes: http://writingpis.wordpress.com/
Cammie eased her 2006 silver Monte Carlo, named Phil after the fictional private eye Philip Marlowe, next to the dirt-crusted red pick-up she’d been following for the last hour. The subject--Ray “Rebel” Nathan--had strolled his six-two, cowboy-booted self into the burger dive a few minutes ago. If he was picking up to-go food, he’d be out in ten minutes, maybe less.
Cammie had to move fast.
Earlier, she’d slipped the GPS device and its battery pack inside the pocket of her jean jacket. She double-checked the bulky parts with a quick feel, then slipped out the driver’s side. Standing between Phil and the pick-up, she blinked against the surging winds while quickly scanning the area. Across the parking lot, several teenagers squealed and laughed while chasing a plastic bag the wind had wrested from their hold. A late-model Dodge Charger droned by. Its driver, an older dude with a skinny gray ponytail, puffed on a cigar. Trails of blue smoke and the 70s Bee Gees hit “More than a Woman” wafted through the half-open driver’s window.
More than a woman. Being a female in the private eye business often felt like that, plus some. A woman had to be more resilient, sharper and often tougher to last in this male-dominated profession.
Dude turned right onto Boulder Highway, the Bee Gees’ trilling vibratos merging with the drone of noon-day traffic.
Cammie quickly moved to the front of the pick-up and plunked her butt down on the asphalt.
The device clattered out of her jacket pocket.
Cursing under her breath, she snatched the metal GPS unit and its egg-shaped antennae. After quickly verifying their connecting wire was intact, she shoved them back into her jacket. Leaning back, she grabbed the grill with both hands and pulled herself underneath the pick-up. Her legs stuck outside the front of the vehicle, but they were only visible from the Boulder Highway, a mash of speeding cars, honking horns and exhaust. It’d take someone with a sharp eye to see her limbs--and if they did, who’s to say they didn’t belong to the owner of this truck?
Carefully, she inched the device from her pocket.
She’d always figured life for most people was a rush of events and faces, racing by like the Boulder Highway traffic outside. But whenever she was battling high emotions, time had a nasty habit of snagging her, pinning her like a fly. Caught, she’d grow aware of every movement, sound, subtlety.
Like right now. Battling her anxiousness, time had slowed to a crawl. The stench of twenty different fluids from the engine stifled her breath. The heat from the asphalt seeped up like steam through her clothes. And that relentless Las Vegas wind swirled around her like a ghost, its chilly breath caressing and prodding her with things she didn’t want to think about…it’d happened so long ago, it no longer mattered…go away, go away…
A blustery gust of wind rattled past, chasing away the ghost. Particles of dirt spit at her face, stung her hands.
Time sped up, snapped to the present.
She pressed the GPS unit against the bumper, reassured by the clank of magnet against steel. Gotta love these older trucks and their metal parts. She lightly tugged the electrical wire connecting the unit and antennae until the wire was taut – didn’t want it to drag, catch on anything in the road while the truck was moving. She positioned the antennae to the back of the grill, moving it back and forth until she hit a sweet spot where it’d easily pick up satellite signals.
She smiled, her body tingling with that familiar rush of relief and satisfaction after successfully fastening one of these babies. Maybe her uncle thought she should’ve stayed in law school, but what he didn’t get was that she dug the thrill of investigations. What lawyer got to crawl under cars, track missing people, find someone’s long-lost sibling or high school sweetheart? A PI’s work was the most exciting game in town. Better than any eight-to-five.
After scooching from underneath the truck and carefully rising to her feet, she nonchalantly looked around as though absolutely nothing unusual had just happened. She eyed a few parked cars, a woman in a blue jogging suit scurrying into a store, her cell phone glued to her ear. A burst of the teenagers’ shrieks and laughter momentarily crested the wind, although they were no longer in sight.
No Rebel, either. Still inside buying his greasy burger.
Oh so casually brushing dirt off her jeans, Cammie got back into Phil and drove off.
Across The Boulder Highway from the burger dive, she parked in the lot in front of the Firelight Lounge at Sam’s Town. From here, she had an unencumbered view of Rebel’s pick-up. Time to relax, check the GPS tracking software on her smartphone, double-check everything was hooked up correctly and getting signals.
Plus she knew Rebel Boy would likely next be heading down the highway to his paramour’s apartment and Cammie was in a primo spot to slide into traffic and follow. Her client, Rebel’s wife, didn’t know the girl’s name, or her address, but had plenty of reason for suspicion. Lipstick on his tidy whities was the clincher. Then a friend who worked at Sam’s Town had reported to the wife that Rebel’s truck had been seen tooling east down Boulder Highway almost every day around lunchtime.
Cammie plucked the elastic rubber band that confined her curls in a thick knot. Ruffling her hair loose, she checked the time on her smartphone. Twelve-twenty. Must be eating his lunch before his noontime tryst. Too cheap to buy girlfriend a burger, too?
Distant sirens wailed. As their screams pulsed louder, she surveyed the highway for their approach. Two fire engines, horns blaring, careened down the highway. Cars pulled over to let pass.
More sirens joined the ruckus.
A police unit, lights sparkling, charged into the burger lot across the street. Another bolted into the Firelight Lounge lot, bouncing over a speed bump. Several white Crown Victorias--unmarked vehicles--trailed the police unit into the lot, all them bouncing over the same bump.
The first unit screeched to a halt.
Right. Behind. Her.
She froze, stared in her rear view mirror at the police vehicle with its blue, white and yellow lights swirling.
“This is a felony stop,” a male voice barked over a loud speaker. “Keep your hands on the dashboard, continue facing forward, do not move. I repeat, do not move.”