My guest today is Jinx Schwartz. Raised in the jungles of
and Haiti , with visits to Thailand in-between, Jinx followed her father's
steel-toed footsteps into the Construction and Engineering industry in hopes of
building dams. Finding all the good rivers taken, she traveled the world and
built mega-projects in Texas , Alaska , Japan , New Zealand Puerto Rico and . Mexico
Like the protagonist in her mystery series, Hetta Coffey, Jinx was a woman with a yacht—and she wasn't afraid to use it—when she met her husband, Mad Dog Schwartz. They opted to become cash-poor cruisers rather than continue with the rat race. They sailed under the
, turned left, and headed for Golden Gate Bridge . They now divide their
time between Mexico and Arizona 's Mexico . Sea of Cortez
Jinx's seventh book in her award-winning series, Just Deserts: Book Four of the Hetta Coffey mystery series, was recently released. Her other books include a YA fictography of her childhood in Haiti (Land of Mountains), an adventure in the Sea of Cortez (Troubled Sea) and an epic novel of the 30 years leading to the fall of the Alamo (The Texicans).
It’s a pleasure to chat with you today, Jinx. Let’s talk writing!
Anne - When did you first realize you were destined to be an author?
Jinx - I did not set out to be a writer. Not once, even though I have been an avid reader my entire life, did it occur to me to write a book until I found myself afloat with no television, no job, no phone, nada.
Over twenty years ago, my new hubby and I decided to take our boat from
to San Francisco , on a three-month voyage. Much like the
crew of the Minnow, we never returned. No, we were not shipwrecked, we just
decided we liked Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and since all we owned was the boat, we
would opt out for awhile. It turned out to be a very long while. Mexico
During the summers, when the
is hotter than the hinges of Hell, we
returned to Sea of Cortez , my native state. Okay, so it wasn’t any cooler
there, but we have fantastic air conditioning. Texas
As a ninth-generation Texan, I knew some of the family history, but that first summer back home I spent many hours in frigid libraries, putting faces to that boring genealogy chart. Of course, I had to make up my own faces, as many were around before photography and not rich enough for portraits. Why, oh why, hadn’t someone, when I was slogging through those same history books back in school, tell me these people were my relatives?
I made my own charts, wrote small stories about each of these people with information gleaned from Texana sections all over the state, and finally focused on one couple I found especially interesting. Next thing I knew, I had written The Texicans. Actually, it took three years of research and another year of writing and rewriting and editing before I had to pull on my big girl panties and search for a publisher. Like that was going to happen.
With spectacular naiveté, I sent a copy of the manuscript, unsolicited, to Elmer Kelton, the premier
writer, and since God protects fools,
he actually answered and gave me great advice. ( Texas SHOW, DON’T TELL, being the best.) Still unable
to find a publisher for my GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL, I dug into the coffers and
self-published The Texicans. In hard cover. I do not recommend this.
Again, someone was watching over my shoulder. (Are you seeing a pattern here?) Books in Motion picked it up as an audio book, which they rented out at truck stops all over the
. I was written up in Trucker Digest! U.S.
Finally, I found an Indie publisher for the paperback. Since 2002, I have published six more books with the same publisher. Most are in audio and print, and all are in some e-book format.
Anne – What an incredible journey! Tell us about your most recent release.
Jinx - Just Deserts, is book 4 in the Hetta Coffey Mystery series. This award-winning series features a woman with a yacht, and she’s not afraid to use it. Hetta Coffey is single, pushing forty, and runs a one-woman engineering consulting firm, Hetta Coffey, S.I. LLC. The S.I. is a little phonetic joke, her acronym for Civil Engineer.
With a penchant for high-paying but odd-ball projects (read: somewhat unethical and politically incorrect) she earns enough to keep her floating home afloat. Just Deserts finds her high and dry on the tumultuous Arizona/Mexico border while her boat is in dry dock in
. All hell is breaking loose, even
before she gets there. Mexico
Anne - Of all the characters you’ve created, does one hold a special place in your heart? Why?
Jinx - HETTA COFFEY is my favorite character. She’s a woman with a yacht, and she’s not afraid to use it. The problem with Hetta though, is that no matter how hard I try, I cannot keep that Texan out of trouble. Just Deserts is no exception.
Some folks think this series is autobiographical. I call them fictography, a word I blatantly lifted from a John Grisham book back blurb. Just Add Water, first in the series, won an EPPIE award in 2007 for Best Mystery, and Just Add Trouble, was a finalist. Just Add Salt, second in the series, takes Hetta into hot Mexican waters.
Anne - I often write while sitting in my car. Parked. In my driveway! I call it my “cone of silence”. My very own writer’s cocoon, if you will. Do you have a unique place to write?
Jinx - I do most of my research and storyline work during the summer, where my desk faces a vista comprised of the mountains of
and Mexico , and a golf course. Then, during the
winter months, I do the actually writing aboard our boat, away from
distractions like television and telephones. Arizona
Anne - Any words of advice for struggling, unpublished writers?
Jinx - Write the best book you can, get a really good editor (no, not your mother, even if she is an English teacher), find another editor to check the first editor, then re-edit the whole thing yourself, about a hundred times. Did I mention EDIT? It is the most important thing you can do for your book. Rushing into publication, which is easy these days, with grammatical and spelling errors is disastrous. Don’t do it.
Anne – Where can readers find you online?
Anne – You’re offering a giveaway to Mystery We Write Blog Tour readers. Tell us about it.
Jinx - To introduce readers to the hilarious adventures of Hetta Coffey, I am offering a copy of Just Add Water, first in the series, to the first person to respond to this blog with answers to the following questions:
-Where in the world is the Mar de Cortez?
-What makes a boat a yacht?
-Do you have to have a license to drive a boat?
Anne – Thanks so much, Jinx, and good luck to readers on her Just Add Water giveaway.
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AKA Update: I’m visiting Ron Benrey today. Please drop by his blog, and leave a comment to win one of three e-copies of Frank, Incense and Muriel, book one of the Muriel Reeves Mysteries. The winners will be announced December 9.
Tomorrow on Day 3 of the Mystery We Write Blog Tour my guest will be Mike Orenduff.
Comments are always appreciated and welcome, have a super day, and happy reading!
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