One of the very best things about working with a new publisher is new author friends! Since being contracted by BelleBooks (writing contemporaries as Dana Ransom for Bell Bridge Books and vampire romance as Nancy Gideon for ImaJinn) my Kindle runneth over with exciting, heart-tugging, and downright hilarious reads.
As a lover of all things fur, fin and feather, how could I resist titles such as Desperate Housedogs, Get Fluffy and Kitty Kitty Bang Bang in the Pampered Pets cozy mystery series by Sparkle Abbey? Right off the bat, I’ll solve the first mystery – Sparkle Abbey is actually TWO writers. I don’t want to spoil everything so I’ll let the authors “Take Five” with a little Q & A.
First, meet Sparkle Abbey.
Sparkle Abbey is the pseudonym of mystery authors Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter. They’ve chosen to use Sparkle Abbey as their pen name on this series because they liked the idea of combining the names of their two rescue pets – Sparkle (ML’s cat) and Abbey (Anita’s dog). The authors co-write the bestselling Pampered Pets Mystery Series which focuses on the wacky world of precious pedigrees, pampered pooches, and secrets in posh Laguna Beach, California. The main characters and amateur sleuths are Texas cousins, Carolina Lamont, a pet therapist, and Melinda Langston, a pet boutique owner. The first books in the series, Desperate Housedogs, Get Fluffy, Kitty Kitty Bang Bang, Yip/Tuck, Fifty Shades of Greyhound, and The Girl with the Dachshund Tattoo have received rave reviews. Midwest Book Review calls the series, “A fun and sassy mystery!”
The next installment, coming in June, Downton Tabby, is currently available for pre-order on Amazon. The authors love to hear from readers so stop by their Website or visit them on Facebook and Twitter to check out all their news.
And now “Take Five”
1. Is there a story behind your unique and uber fun series concept?
There is a story and like most authors’ stories, it begins with rejections. You see we’d both been writing for while and submitting our writing to editors/agents. We’d each had some minor successes: contest wins, nibbles of interest, but no sale. Then we were attending a conference where we had a chance to sit and talk informally with a NY agent who advised us that if we wanted to write cozy mysteries we needed a stronger hook. (Cooking, knitting, antiques, scrapbooking, etc.) We brainstormed ideas and hit a lot of dead ends. Our thinking was that if we were going to do a series it should be something we had some expertise in, and also something we truly cared about. When we hit on the idea of a series around pampered pets, it seemed natural to work together on it, as we’d come up with idea together.
2. Do readers ever catch on to a difference in Sparkle Abbey’s writing voice between Caro and Mel’s books?
That’s an interesting question, Nancy. Our publisher tells us though not exactly alike that the voices are so similar they can hardly tell the difference. At first many readers didn’t notice any difference at all in the voices. We had one or two comments but that’s about it. However, as we’ve had a chance to meet more of our readers in person, there are some who notice a few differences. Because the books have two difference protagonists, the slight difference in voices seems to work in our favor.
3. Do you ever write parts of the other’s book or is it “Step away from the keyboard”?
We edit each other’s books and make suggestions, but we’ve never actually written full sections. We’ve talked with a lot of other collaborators and it seems there’s no one way to write together. The writing team seems to figure out a hybrid that works for them.
4. Ever have stylistic or artistic differences when plotting or with character development? How are they settled?
We have very few differences and we think that’s partially a product of the way we collaborate. However, of course, we sometimes have different views on plot or characters and we’ve always settled the differences by figuring out what is the best solution for the story or character development. Collaborating definitely means setting egos aside!
5. What’s the most fun, the plotting, the writing or the promoting?
We love the plotting! We’re both plotters and love setting up the twists and turns of the story. Although it morphs and changes as we begin the writing, we love thinking through the “what if” scenarios of building a story. This often involves a plotting retreat with white boards, sticky notes, and lots of chocolate.
Extra Credit: What’s next for our daring Pet Detectives?
The next book (out in June) is Downton Tabby which is a Caro book, and up after that is, Raiders of the Lost Bark, a Mel book.
My take on the Pampered Pets series – I LOVE it! It was a toss-up whether to start with dogs or cats. The cats may have won out but I was quick to go right from there to the dogs. What delightful reads! The characters are as unique and eccentric as their pets. The dialogue is quick and snappy. You can’t read it without a smile. I adore Caro and Mel and their madcap (and wonderfully drawn!) friends who make you feel like part of the neighborhood. The clever twists and turns of plot snatch you up and take you on a hands in the air ride. A good thing you don’t have to get off – the next installment is just a One Click away. In fact, Downtown Tabby is enjoying its cover reveal today over on Goodreads.
It’s a dog’s (and cat’s) life and I’m thrilled to be a part of this one!