We are joined this month by Mark Leichliter, author of The Other Side, a mystery set in Montana (I love Montana!) and released by Level Best Books June 8. Learn more about Mark and follow along with on my own publishing journey in this edition.
If you read and enjoyedA DEAD MAN'S EYES,please consider clicking on a rating or leaving a review on your favorite website, such as Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Book Bub. Reviews are important to newbies like me, who are also published by small presses. We greatly appreciate them.
If you haven't read the novel, you can order A DEAD MAN'S EYES through any of these links or from your favorite book store.
Book two in the Lisa Jamison Mystery Series arrives in bookstores in April of 2022! For a description of NEVER BROKEN and my other upcoming novels, click here.
Meet Marck Leichliter
The Other Sideis Mark Leichliter’s crime fiction debut. Writing as Mark Hummel, he is the author of the literary novel In the Chameleon’s Shadow and the short story collection Lost and Found. He has been publishing stories, articles, essays, and poems in literary and mainstream magazines since 1991.
Mark is a long-time writing teacher and an active editor. He grew up in Wyoming and his work is influenced by the wildness and beauty of the Mountain West. He writes from his home in Montana’s Flathead Valley.
About the Book
The Other Side asks the question: How do you start an investigation when you have no evidence a crime has been committed? It opens with the abrupt disappearance of a seventeen-year-old girl from a charming NW Montana tourist town. There one day and gone the next, the leads on Britany Rodgers’ case appear as cold as the October waters of Flathead Lake.
Q: Who or what was the inspiration for Steven Wendell, the main character in your novel, The Other Side?
Mark: Wendell is named after my father, who was Albert Wendell Leichliter. My father was a deeply moral, sincere man who was relentless in going after the things he believed in. There are aspects to Wendell as a cop that are drawn from a friend, who, like Wendell, enrolled in the police academy in his forties. But most of Wendell just comes from my imagination while listening carefully to him as his voice and personality emerged organically.
Q: What drew you to crime as a genre?
Mark: Elements of the novel were born from weather and long walks in misty woods when I first moved to Montana after years in Jackson, Wyoming. In mist and rain, it’s easy to let the questions run and imagine things like the challenges involved if a criminal really wanted to hide a crime in a remote place. From an intellectual standpoint, I’ve always appreciated how well crime fiction serves as a mechanism for the examination of societal patterns in and contemporary constructs in specific locales and environments.
Q: You are a ghost writer, a writing coach and a magazine editor. With all you are juggling, how do you find the time and energy for your own writing projects?
Mark: It really can be a juggling act. It’s not unusual that I am working on four different books at the same time alongside numerous short pieces. I’ve long followed advice I first heard William Stafford talk about, which focuses on regimented compartmentalization of my time. He broke his day into segments, and I do the same. I am religious about preserving my mornings for my own work. I start writing early and work through until about 11:00 AM, when I take a break to work-out, then it’s a shower, lunch, and then I move on to projects for other people. Doing something strenuous like trail running or a spin class and getting out of my head by focusing on the physical helps me reset so that I can be fresh as I start an afternoon of writing or editing on book projects for others or coaching writers who are looking to improve their craft. Typically, late in the workday I turn to reading submissions or editing for the magazine. After an evening relaxing with my wife, before turning in, I like to review the work completed on my own project that day, which gets me ready for the next morning. While the juggling act is demanding, I am very lucky that I get to work with smart, motivated people who are passionate about books and ideas. That in turn can fuel energy for my own writing projects, although I must admit that there are many days where I wish I had the freedom to focus only on the novel that is consuming me at the moment.
Q: Have you always known you would write novels someday or did you once have other plans?
Mark: I started college intent on becoming an architect. But not only did calculus humble me, statics and other courses reminded me of my academic weaknesses. I’ve been an avid reader all my life, and I’ve been writing stories since about the second grade. Even as I struggled with the introductory curriculum in the engineering school (I would have to transfer universities to complete an architecture degree.), I took courses that interested me and those were heavy on English, Journalism, and Sociology. Once I took a creative writing course with Don Murray, who was a visiting professor my sophomore year. I was hooked.
Q: Do you have any advice for struggling writers?
Mark: Find writing rituals and tools that work for you, make writing commitments and stick to them. I’m a great believer in writing process—things like breaking down a writing task into manageable sized pieces, producing poor work in order to get to good work, that sort of thing. And write the books that you want to write, not the ones you think would please others or that you’re convinced will sell—not only does good work find a way, you’ll never outguess the whims of others or the marketplace.
Q: What can we expect from you next?
Mark: I’m in the research stages of a novel that features three of the characters in law enforcement from THE OTHER SIDE. The book will focus on human trafficking, specifically on the trafficking of indigenous women. While set in Montana’s Flathead Valley again, it will deal with crimes that cross international borders.
I’m also about fifty pages into a standalone novel that’s more historical in nature and focuses on a woman who, at age forty, abandoned one life for an entirely different one and ultimately ended up serving in roles for the State Department in a number of hot spots, including working in Saigon starting in 1966 at the height of the American involvement in the Vietnam War.
This is where you will find me virtually and in person!
(For the always-updated website version, click here.)
July 10,From My Shelf Books,
7 East Ave #101, Wellsboro, PA. Book signing, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Come
visit with me and browse Kacey and Kevin’s and awesome selection of new
and used books! Kevin is also author of the Totally Ninja Racoon series,
a fantastic series for kids!
The World Mystery Convention, New Orleans, Louisiana. Come join
hundreds of authors, fans, publishers reviewers, booksellers, and
editors for five days of panels, parties, and pure mystery fun at the
world’s premier annual crime fiction event. I will be there. I hope you
will be there, too!
Two of my favorite things about this time of year in North Central Pennsylvania are wild blackberries and Tiger Lilies. We have tons of blackberries on our property that I pick for munching and cereal. Tiger Lilies are everywhere, adding even more color to the yellows, purples and whites that have been luring butterflies and bees into our meadows for the past month.
What's up with my books?
I spent a few days alone at an Airbnb this month, trying to finish book three in the Lisa Jamison mystery series before moving on to edits of book two, NEVER BROKEN. I didn't meet my goal, but I came so close! I reached the climax of the action, so only the resolution remains. That is a good feeling.
I am far less stressed now going into the edits of Never Broken. I pulled the manuscript up on the Fourth of July and took my first peek in more than a year. I am excited to dive into it and to prepare for its April of 2022 release!
What's up at home?
What a different world from last year at this time! The entire family is vaccinated and that is a huge relief. The twins are enjoying summer track club when the weather cooperates. (We've had lots of extreme heat and thunderstorms on track nights.) They are headed to a Baltimore Orioles game with my husband later this week. Soon, they will be off to summer camp in the Finger Lakes for the first time in two years
The older kids are rebuilding their savings accounts with summer work and getting excited for in-person classes to resume at Penn State and Temple University. My husband is still working from his tree house instead of the office and loving it! I am fortunate that my job is super flexible and part-time because book promotion is far more time-consuming than I had ever imagined. The flexibility of my other job allows me time to enjoy the summer with the family.
I hope you are enjoying the warmth of summer and finding ways to stay cool if the heat does you in.
Happy writing and reading. I hope you enjoy A DEAD MAN'S EYES!