Monday, July 19, 2010

Welcome Billie Williams!

**Update February 2014: It is with great sadness I report that Billie died this month.  She was a generous spirit who will be missed.**

I've known Billie since I became a Wings author six years ago. She now has thirteen books listed on her author's page! Amazing -- with more coming! Among authors she is a prize--generous, helpful and supportive to her fellow authors, besides being a prolific writer. She lives with her husband in Amberg, a small town in Northern Wisconsin, where Billie claims the winters are cold and long, but the people are warm and friendly. Her Maine Coon cat (love them), Lady Slipper, arrived the day she received her contract for The Pink Lady Slipper (for excerpt), her bed and breakfast mystery from Wings. The Pink Lady Slipper is set in Michigan, as are a few of her other books, which makes her feel like a neighbor to me -- well, if I take the Ludington ferry to Manitowoc and drove north for a couple hours, she is!

And because she feels like a neighbor, in addition to her contest (read offer below) I'm making an offer too! One download copy of any of Billie's books from Wings! Just leave a comment before July 30, and one lucky person's name will be drawn for the prize. So you have a couple chances to win something! Here is the link, again, to her author's page -- go peruse her titles. And mention the book title you'd like in your comment!

Billie is stopping at my rambles as part of her blog book tour to promote her new mystery Money Isn't Everything from Wings Press. (Read an excerpt.) She is a multi-published author with several publishers, plus an award-winning writer of articles, short stories, flash fiction, and poetry as well. Check out her blogs:  Printed Words and One Woman's Garden. (She gardens, too? No wonder I love this lady!) Plus she has another website for writers, Writing Wide, where you can find plenty of writing tips, tricks, and good reads. Okay, as if that weren't enough, she has a current novel in progress, Printed Words, serialized in her newsletter -- which you can sign for on her web page, just click on this blog's title line to go to her home page.

So, with her having written so many cozy mysteries, I asked Billie how she creates fresh characters and murder plots for each story. Does she have a process or keep a list of her characters and their traits? This is Billie's answer:

It really is amazing, at least to me, that my characters appear as flesh and blood humans when I'm writing their stories. When I begin, I usually have an idea of what my character might wish to accomplish, i.e., the plot of the story, so I go to my zodiac chart where I have a simple breakdown of character traits, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, etc. and choose a sign that would have the characteristics and that would help me develop the character and premise I need to serve this story idea.

The good part of using this method is that I can then find an antagonist  or even a romantic interest that would be a worthy match/opponent. For instance a fire sign and a water sign would be very much antagonistic to each other. Also two of the same sign could be cause for a head on collision. Makes for some interesting scenarios that I may not have thought of otherwise.

I think it also helps me develop well-rounded, believable characters.. The story greatly influences the characters and vice-versa.  My latest book Cauldron is a suspense thriller -- some how I can't picture Mary March from Money Isn't Everything, playing the part needed for the protagonist in Cauldron. Mary March is an Aries/Ram, Tiffany Tarus from Cauldron is a --Taurus/Bull. Mary is assertive, fearless and courageous, likes nothing better than a challenge.  Where Tiffany is Calm and practical taking her time to make decisions, preferring the familiar.

I wrote a book on developing characters Characters In Search of an Author [ISBN 978-1-932794-15-1] specifically to help others develop characters - it  is full of all the things I use to develop my characters. I don't use every one of the charts or interviews etc. provided in this book every time, but if I get stuck it gives me a great boost in moving forward with the character.

The series I've been developing for the last 5 books have all been tied to the Zodiac, Thus the series is dubbed the Zodiac Sleuths. I hope to have a final book, once I've used all the signs of the Zodiac, that will bring all of these sleuths together  to work on a case together - I still have a ways to go before I get to that one. I am currently working on book number six July Heat, the name of the protagonist is Judy July aka Brianna Strong, she, of course, is a Cancer/Crab sign.

Thanks for inviting me to your blog and thanks to all your readers for participating. I hope they all win a prize. Billie

Billie's Contest
Each person who comments on blogs in Billie's Tour will have a chance to win either a 
* $100 note pad, a $100 pen, or a $100 bookmark magnet. (They all incorporate an image of the hundred dollar bill into their design) Pens Bookmarks Note Pads
* Everyone that comments should email Billie at for a chance at a bookmark with the cover of Money Isn’t Everything and one lucky winner will get an autographed poster of the cover of Money Isn’t Everything.
* Billie will draw one name from all the blog sites to get an autographed copy of the print version of Fin, Fur and Fatal another Mystery in the Zodiac Sleuths Series. (That is stateside – if the name drawn is overseas or Canada-- it will be a download version.)

There ya go folks! Please leave a comment!


  1. What a fascinating series and to tie in the last book with all the sleuths together is what hooked me to seek out the books. Nice! Very NICE!

  2. I think three dimensional characters make a story. Like you, mine live, and breath through me. I loved reading your post. Good luck with your books.

  3. Hi Lea and Margaret, Thank you for your kind words and for joining in the fun here. Rhobin's blog is beautiful - so much information I could spend a week here and not see everything.
    Thank you for visiting.

  4. I met Billie years ago through Wings, too. It's awesome to have remained friends with her through the years as we've both grown as authors. Of course, we haven't aged a bit, but our writing definitely shows our experience. Loved the post, Billie, and it's nice to reach out and support a good pal. I enjoyed catching up by reading your answers.

  5. You are a trooper, Robin. I checked in at 8:30 EST this morning and nothing was up...but you rallied...good for you.

    Billie you are going a great job especially on a stormy night in the wilds of northern Wisconsin and one tiny mix-up is forgivable. Keep up the good work and the great writing. Loved the first chapter of Tracker. Dogs like that get me every time.

  6. Great interview, ladies. I totally enjoyed it. Billie, I'm going to check out your garden site.

  7. Hi, Robin!
    I checked in earlier with the incorrect addy and wondered what happened. Then a new email arrived with the correct addy. Lovely blog and your information on Billie is intriguing. Love her idea on the Zodiac Books and the final one she has planned. Billie is a fantastic writer and a wonderful friend. Thanks for hosting Billie for us.

  8. Well, Robin, your blog is certainly first class, fantastic and perfectly crafted. I'm so impressed. Makes me want to go back to the drawing board for mine.

    Billie, you're the most to say the least. The tip-top is just around the corner for you. I've started a cool collection of Billie A. Williams mysteries. Now I have to build more shelves to make room for more. When people ask my favorite author I used to say, Stephen King. Now I say, Billie Willieam.

    And so it goes, dear friend, keep on writing. Love you.

    Pee Wee (Sylvia Hamilton)

  9. Hi Robyn,

    I like your blog. I read further down too about that little boy. That sure is terrible. I wonder sometimes how much of that goes on here in Tucson. Murder is an everyday thing down here. It is sad.

    Billie has been a great friend and I enjoyed our years together when I lived up in her neighborhood. It was nice of you to include her in your blog tour.

    Flesh and blood characters are great and also very hard to get out of your mind. I've found that out writing my own book. You think about them even after you say The End.


  10. Hi Rhobin and Billie.
    You have a lovely blog Rhobin, and Billie, wow, all those books.
    Good luck with all your ventures.


  11. what an interesting way to give your characters character. I just might try it.

  12. I hope you all didn't lock the doors. Darn you didn't well I am breaking in because Billie is worth a breaking in entry... Rhobin, your site is wonderful, I love it. I am glad to meet you on Billie's tour. Well I have to go the alarms are ringing and don't wanna get caught because authors this amazing would be more than a misdemeanor if I had missed out.

  13. What can I say, except thank you all for visiting. Rhobin has done a fantastic job and her blog is awesome to say the least.
    I am both delighted and proud to be here.
    Thank you all for your comments - and your kindness.
    I know Gayle Kelly and Ron Berry tried to comment as well and couldn't get the message to save. So count them in Rhobin. And anyone else who has trouble just email me or Rhobin and we'll count you. Thanks!
    Keep your eyes open for news about prizes as soon as the tour is over.
    Great job Rhobin- Thank you!

  14. Thank you all for leaving your comments. Billie, it is always a pleasure to have you visit. And I will add Gayle Kelly and Ron Berry to the book drawing.