I am thrilled to have been invited to participate in the “Death & Damages” box set anthology with a stable of talented bestselling authors like the one you are about to meet.
These amazing writers have graciously agreed to let my blog readers share in an exclusive interview AND get a sneak peek at the book they have contributed to the Death & Damages box set – 25 stories for 99 cents!
Today, we sit down with Alexa Padgett, author of “Facing The Past”
DAN: Tell my readers briefly about the story you are contributing to the Death & Damages anthology. What inspired this story?
We have to go back over a decade for the answer to that question. I had a conversation with my father about grief and how each person is impacted differently. At that point, I was a new parent and the idea of losing a child–how I’d struggle with that loss–those thoughts kept tossing about in my head.
Eventually, a very rough, terrible version of this story emerged. It’s taken years to write this version. The storyline just wasn’t meshing like it should. I was going to give up on it for good because I knew I needed to toss my latest version.
Frustrated, I sent it to my editor and she, the brilliant lady that she is, said I was trying to write two stories in one book. Once I let the mystery come to the fore–well, I wrote that in a week. (And, no, I do not suggest trying that at home, kids. My brain hurt.)
How long of a piece is it?
For me, it’s relatively short–just 160 pages (about 42,000 words).
Tell me a little bit about you. Where do you do your writing?
My husband built me a gorgeous, study desk. He stained it my favorite dark espresso. I have all my important papers on it…and I sit on my couch in the living room with my laptop balanced on my knees to write my books.
Don’t get me wrong: I love my desk. I do. But my husband now works from home, too, and we share the office. I have the laptop, so it’s easier for me to go elsewhere. We’re both more productive that way.
What does writing success look like to you?
This question…there are many ways to answer it. Success in writing means bestseller status. But it also means impacting a reader’s life in a positive way. I enjoy when people tell me they love my books (who doesn’t?), but, for me, the moments I’m most excited is when a reader says my book made them pause and think or helped them through a hard time in their lives.
Do you ever collaborate with others?
I’m currently co-writing a series with Allyson Lindt. Not for your readers, Dan, but if you know someone who enjoys sexy contemporary romance, Trail of Secrets will be a great book for them!
Tell me a little bit about your process. What is the path from idea to finished story? Do you use critique partners? Do you have a favorite editor?
As George R. R. Martin says, I’m a gardener. I like to see what grows (within my well-thought-out story arc, mind you). Usually, I write a loose outline–mainly beats–and then I start the book based on whatever scene took root first. I prefer to write the story as it progresses; I don’t love jumping around because I find those transitions harder to write.
I work with two editors. I know, I know, but I came over from the traditional publishing side–I was a literary agent back in the day (ahem, I mean, like seven years ago). So, yes, I see the value in multiple eyes on a manuscript. I have my developmental editor, who I usually schedule three weeks before my line editor.
I’ve been toying with building up a beta reader group, but I’m not yet committed to the idea fully.
What do you do for your cover? It’s always hard to find a good cover. How do you find yours, or the artwork?
I use a few different cover artists. Each has her strengths. For my mystery series, I used Emma Ryder because she was willing to custom-shoot my covers. I’m quite pleased with the brand we’ve built. Daqri Combs created the cover for FACING THE PAST, the book in this box set. It’s all moody and broody. I love it!
What about your blurb and tagline? What is your process for arriving at a really killer tagline and then a blurb that makes readers want to buy the book?
Oh, I wish I had a good one. I have a background in copywriting and marketing and I find tags difficult to create. If you have a process, I’d love to hear it. For my mystery series…well that one popped in my head and it was right. We use it on each of the books in that series.
* EXCLUSIVE SNEAK PEEK *
Facing The Past
Nancy was dying. Cancer nibbled away at her insides.
No more time.
She picked up the phone and called the detective who’d worked on the case all those years before.
“Chief Hardesty,” he rumbled into the phone.
“Arlen?” Nancy licked her lips. “This is—”
“Nancy,” he said, his voice softening. “I haven’t heard from you in years.”
“Probably ten, I’d guess. I wasn’t sure you were still there.”
He chuckled half-heartedly. “They haven’t gotten rid of me yet. Got about five more weeks till I’m outta here for good.”
“Oh.” She paused.
“What can I do for you, my dear?” His voice was softer still. He’d always tried to help her.
“I . . .” What to say? What to do?
“I wrote journals,” Nancy blurted, unsure about this call, about the decision she’d struggled to make for years.
“All right.” His voice stayed pleasant.
“I want . . . make sure Danielle gets them. Not Hank. Please.”
Chief Hardesty was silent for a long time. “Only way I can do that, Nancy, is for you to hand them over to my department or for them to be part of a search warrant.”
“In the attic. Boxed up in the back. Hank can’t have them. He’ll . . .” She blew out a breath. “He hired Trevor Dresden. He plans to put Trevor in the directorship for his foundation.”
“Hadn’t heard that,” Hardesty said, his voice contemplative.
“You need to talk to him.”
“He was a little boy Nancy,” Hardesty said. His voice held a hint of pity, maybe even frustration. “The FBI did talk to him. I was there. He was so scared.”
Nancy clutched the phone. “I’m dying, Arlen. Soon. Trevor knew. He was there. Closer to the killer than I was even. Please. The journals. For Danielle—after you go through them . . . promise me.”
Chief Hardesty sighed in a long, drawn-out affair. She sensed that he wanted her to leave him alone. He must yearn for a time when the case of a kidnapped and murdered seven-year-old quit haunting him. At least that’s what Nancy supposed his sigh meant.
“You want me to reopen the case?” Arlen asked.
Nancy thought of Danielle, of her pretty green eyes and the worry she buried deep inside herself. The idea that came out, ever so softly over the years, that Danielle considered herself unlovable. Nancy’s fault for not being the mother her daughter deserved.
With each passing moment, Nancy’s mistakes piled higher, choking her. She leaned her head back against the recliner’s tufted pillow. The memory bubbled up, taking over her consciousness as it always did.
Nancy screamed his name. Danielle was pressed against Nancy’s heaving chest, clutched tight. Too tight. Nancy couldn’t make her arms loosen. Her heart beat so hard, her ribs ached with each pounding.
Danielle mewled into Nancy’s neck.
The street and park were empty; it didn’t matter how many times Nancy looked, how far she jogged up and down the road, clutching her daughter, yelling Jonny’s name.
Nancy’s breath broke as she stumbled over Jonny’s ball glove lying on a crack in the sidewalk. Just five feet from their station wagon.
“Yes,” she gasped, pulling herself, grief fresh, from the recollection.
“I’ll do what I can,” Arlen replied.
But Nancy heard the skepticism in his voice.
She’d waited too long.
About Alexa Padgett
With a degree in international marketing and a varied career path that includes content management for a web firm, marketing direction for a high-profile sports agency, and a two-year stint with a renowned literary agency, award-winning author Alexa Padgett has returned to her first love: writing fiction.
Alexa spent a good part of her youth traveling. From Budapest to Belize, Calgary to Coober Pedy, she soaked in the myriad smells, sounds, and feels of these gorgeous places, wishing she could live in them all–at least for a while. And she does in her books.
She lives in New Mexico with her husband, children, and Great Pyrenees pup, Ash. When not writing, schlepping, or volunteering, she can be found in her tiny kitchen, channeling her inner Barefoot Contessa.
Gang, please join me in thanking Alexa for sharing her authorly insights with us.
Click HERE to order your copy of Death & Damages TODAY and read the rest of this great story when it is released in the Death & Damages boxed set!
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Danger lurks around every corner as these courageous cops, adventurous agents, and daring detectives hunt for the answers to stop the crimes by vicious killers.
But what if the damage is already done?
Inside these pages, you’ll find 25 adventures full of captivating conundrums, hair-raising homicides, and suspenseful secrets from today’s USA Today & Wall Street Journal bestselling and award-winning authors.
Become a private investigator yourself when you inspect plots of deadly assassins, cold-blooded killers, and bone-chilling suspense inside the pages of DEATH AND DAMAGES, an enthralling mystery and thriller boxed set.
Fans of Lee Child, James Patterson, Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, and John Grisham will devour these puzzling mysteries and gripping thrillers.
Including Stories From…
- New York Times bestselling author Patricia Loofbourrow
- USA Today bestselling author Pauline Creeden
- USA Today bestselling author John Ling
- Award-Winning author Alexa Padgett
- Siera London
- USA Today bestselling author Shereen Vedam
- Multi-Award-Winning author, Deborah Shlian
- USA Today bestselling author Kelly Hashway
- USA Today bestselling author JB Michaels
- Maggie Carpenter
- USA Today bestselling author Tiana Laveen
- Angela Sanders
- Award-Winning author Karen M. Bryson
- Aime Austin
- Lisa B. Thomas
- USA Today bestselling author Fiona Quinn
- Kerry J Donovan
- Jane Blythe
- Bestselling author Dan Alatorre
- USA Today bestselling authors Muffy Wilson and Dariel Raye
- Ja’Nese Dixon
- USA Today bestselling author Terry Keys
- Bill Hargenrader
- Wall Street Journal bestselling author Judith Lucci
- Award-Winning author Maria Grazia Swan