Interview with N. L. Quatrano

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Wow, what a loaded question this is! I am all over the place, really. And, actually, my fiction writing doesn't get enough of my attention, to be honest. I run my own writing-services company (On-Target Words, LLC), I'm president of the Hastings Rotary Club, I'm active in the community through Rotary and our Team Up organization, I sing at our little church out here in Mocassin Branch, and I volunteer a few hours a week at the sheriff's office, helping out Standards and Accreditation with clerical stuff. My husband, home, and felines all require some of my time and attention, and I volunteer monthly at the Sisters in Crime meeting in Jacksonville and the Florida Writers Association meeting in St. Augustine. Washing the floors is at the bottom of my priority list, so don't EVER eat anything off my floor.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do. And it was really more of a lyric poem or a ballad, but it told a story. I was 11 and I fell hard for a boy I met when we were in the Great Lakes region camping, one summer. Of course, he went home and so did my family and that was that, but I was crushed. Around that time I picked up a $10 guitar and began to teach myself to play, and I spent several years writing lyrics and music. Later I discovered that was similar to poetry which I really liked, especially Poe and Frost. We won't discuss my first novel, however. It's too embarrassing to admit to.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Hmmm. I'm not a huge eBook reader. I really love to curl up in the office or in my recliner and hold my books, turn the page, pretend I'm a lady of leisure. But, when a friend or fellow writer comes out with a new book and I want to get it read so I can review it, then I'll get the eBook and read it while I'm waiting around at things like hubbie's doctor visits, sitting in the airport, waiting for an appointment to show up, things like that. The portability of eBooks is one of the nicest perks in my opinion. I am NOT a fan of "FREE" books. Authors deserve to be paid, just like musicians, songwriters, and artists do, so I never download a free book unless its a tutorial, maybe. I usually buy new authors or authors in my organizations.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I'm not sure I can answer this. Nancy Drew books introduced me to the genre I love most: mystery. Huck Finn was a daring and terrifying adventure for me and left a huge impression I've never lost, but same with Treasure Island, though in a little different way. I learned about new cultures and people and their challenges through those books. Black Beauty broke my heart and so did the Yearling but they'd be on this list. When I got to visit Marjorie K. Rawlings homestead a few years ago, I couldn't even speak, I just sat in different places and listened to the wind come through the trees and watched the water ripple at Cross Creek.
What is your writing process?
It's ugly but getting better. I generally get the title in my head, first. I'm a series writer, so the overarching purpose comes to me pretty early on and I back into it. I do spend a good deal of time developing my characters and keep sheets on them individually that I can add or subtract information from as they develop. I keep all of that on an Excel spreadsheet that I print out and keep in a 3-ring binder. As I come across them, I'll paste in photos of places, people and things that may be relevant to the story. I'm not so good at the plot ahead of time, though I do know what needs to go into each of the three acts, and I usually write up a short scene that captures the purpose of each chapter and how it links to the next clue or pivotal point in the story. Everything else is daily free writing. My promise to me is a minimum of 15 minutes a day. Most days I'm at it longer. I don't write on Saturdays, though. Gives me a break from all of my electronic tethers and I can focus on other things like helping other writers, church, and family.
How do you approach cover design?
I have learned that one place that writers should not skimp is in the domain of covers. It's such a vital piece of marketing real estate we cannot afford to put out books with covers that scream "amateur." I'm blessed that Rik Feeney of RickFeeney.com is my cover designer for the mystery series. He's got an awesome talent for amazing covers. For other projects, I've found a couple of talented and reliable artists through Fiverr.com, too. And, Carrie Richter, a talented artist and author who helps me keep up the local FWA site, has done covers for some of my clients and those are fabulous. She's a professional and worth every penny. Carrie and Rik's covers both win awards pretty consistently. Since it IS such a valuable marketing tool, it has to set the tone, genre, and maybe major point or black moment for the reader, so I always have to have that information clearly defined for the artists before ordering the cover, though.
What do you read for pleasure?
An easy one!! Yeah!! I grab a Scottoline DeNunzio book, or a Robert Parker, even if I've read it already. I love Sue Grafton so I'll see if I can find her latest, and since meeting Hank Phillippi Ryan, I'm reading her books, too. If I've been having a particularly tough time of late, then I look for Janet Evanovich and laugh myself silly. Almost always, I'm going to reach for a crime or legal mystery.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Since I don't own one, I read on the Kindle app I have on my cell phone. Someday I'm going to get a PaperWhite, I think.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I'm still in the trial and error phase of marketing and I'm beginning to realize that will probably be the way this goes forever. The market and reader tastes change pretty rapidly. I begin with making sure that the book I've written is the best it can be. If that's not the case, marketing is like locking the barn door and the horses are already gone. It's wasted - and expensive - effort. The series I co-author with bestie Daria Ludas has just been bought by a traditional publisher and will be out in March of 18. That publisher really likes authors to keep up their Amazon Author Central page. Others like Goodreads. The publisher also does a lot of getting advanced professional reviews and I can say personally that I know that makes a difference. I combine Facebook, newsletters, email campaigns with paid print ads and have had some success. I write a mean press release and get them out everywhere - locally, nationally and globally. It is a time commitment, but not too heavy on the dollar end. I also do a lot of speaking and training, but that helps the writing business more than my book sales, though often I'll see sales numbers go up after I've been at an event. Most of my books have sold through and are in the black, and that's happening faster now. I have learned that the NEXT book is what helps PAST book sales the most.
Describe your desk
I am SO glad this is not a video interview. It is not pretty right now, but then I'm getting organized for the new year, so I'll just stick to that story. We've just published 3 books for clients and completed their launches, so piles of files are everywhere. I share my office with two felines, one of who is snoring over on the futon. My husband is a frequent visitor because I'm in here some days for 10-12 hours. I've got a beautiful 42" window in here, too. My desk unit fits into the corner near the window, so when I turn to the left, I can see the driveway and trees beyond it, (we live on 3 acres of wooded, north Florida land) and often the little critters that eat the palmetto berries and things over by the well house. The desk connects on the right to a long desktop surface where files, printer, laptop and the mail usually reside. Underneath are file cabinets. I work on my desktop most of the time, though I run the laptop for updates and research sometimes, at the same time. I'm looking into buying one of those desks that go up and down so I can stand some, too. Better on this old back. I keep my novel "bibles" under the desk on a little organizer that should hold shoes. I don't need it for shoes - I need it for binders.
What's next for you?
Right now I'm working on the first draft of GONE IN A FLASH which is the 3rd book in the Point and Shoot mystery series. I hope that will be out by April of 2018. The NJ Sisters in Crime group and I just finished a 13 story mystery collection called, 30 Shades of Dead in honor of the 30th anniversary of Sisters in Crime, an international women's (mostly) crime writing organization. And, Daria Ludas and I are working on the 2nd book in the Amazing Grace series, called FAITHFULLY YOURS. Never a shortage of books to work on, for sure. Thanks for asking!
What's the story behind your latest book?
In GONE IN A FLASH, AJ is doing a photo portfolio for a group of woman Bed and Breakfast owners in St Augustine, Florida when they stumble on what they think may be a drug-running operation. Turns out it's worse - it's human trafficking. As usual, she and Travis get into all kinds of hot water. This one takes place close enough to home - Chastity Creek - that friends and family from MURDER IN BLACK AND WHITE will be back in the story. And, some new twists and turns regarding the truth behind her first husband's murder come to light, too.
Published 2017-12-28.
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Books by This Author

30 Shades of Dead
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 74,040. Language: American English. Published: December 28, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General, Fiction » Horror » Ghost
Lovers of any mystery genre will find something to love in this collection! Noir, cozy, historical, horror, psycho-thriller, suspense, private eye and police procedural can all be found between these covers. Join in the celebration with 13 award-winning and first-time authors! Buckle up – it's a wild ride! Karen Bostrom * Christine Clemetson * Christine W. Kulikowski * D. K. Ludas * David Manfre
Still Shot
Series: The Point and Shoot Mysteries. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 55,770. Language: English. Published: January 12, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
Book two in N.L. Quatrano’s hot new series, the Point and Shoot Mysteries, will rock your world! Weddings can sure be murder! Private eye Antonia Buchanan is back and up to her southern neck in alligators when a trip to her late mother’s homestead outside of New Orleans stirs up all sorts of dark things. Can she and Travis sort it out before she's the next one to the morgue?
Yellow Ribbon
Price: $1.49 USD. Words: 3,570. Language: English. Published: November 11, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Short stories
Thirty years after her fiance was listed as MIA, Marie Prolanti is ready to set down her yellow ribbon at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall. She expects to find peace before facing life's next big challenge for her. What she finds rocks her in a way she never expected. But then again, it takes real courage to hold on to hope. Fundraising project: 60% will help veterans in need.
Murder in Black and White
Series: The Point and Shoot Mysteries. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 61,150. Language: American English. Published: September 21, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
N. L. Quatrano writes a classic 'whodunit' with an edgy heroine, quirky characters, and an intricate plot that will keep the reader turning the pages into the wee hours!" says author Jan Coffey. In this contemporary southern P.I. mystery, AJ and husband Travis have little time to unravel who is behind murder and mayhem that threatens to take their lives.