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Welcome back Guest Author: Joe Cosentino

I'm pleased to welcome back today's Guest Author, Joe Cosentino. Yes, he was just here with his release through Dreamspinner Press, today now he's back to tell us about Paper Doll, his new release with Whiskey Creek Press. Way to go, Joe! He was nice enough to let me grill him once again, and if I'm lucky, he'll have some more releases coming through the pipe - I've still got questions I'd love to hear the answers to.

My first question is based on my initial response to reading the Paper Doll blurb. All I could think is I'd love to see this as a movie. Would you ever consider turning one of your novels into a screenplay? If so, any one in particular?

Chrissy, yes! Since I was a professional actor, playwright, and director, my writing has a definite theatricality and cinematography. All of my novels and novellas would make terrific movies. I have written film treatments (outlines) for PAPER DOLL (the first Jana Lane mystery from Whiskey Creek Press) and AN INFATUATION (MM novella from Dreamspinner Press).

The most obvious first choice is PAPER DOLL. I have always been captivated by child stars of the past like Shirley Temple, Hayley Mills, and Patty Duke. PAPER DOLL is the story of an ex-child star, now an adult, embroiled in the mystery of who attacked her on the studio lot at eighteen years old, and who is attacking her now as a wife and mother. Since Jana is headed for a film comeback, the entire Jana Lane series will include the film world. So I can see it morphing into a television series.

At the beginning of the first novel, Jana has lost the courage she had as a child. Throughout the novel, she finds the old Jana Lane and recaptures her confidence. I love Jana’s determination, wit, and compassion for others. Since she was a child movie star in adventure films, as an adult Jana uses the skills she learned as a child to investigate and solve the mystery of who attacked her then and who is after her now. Along the way, she uncovers amazing secrets about everyone in her life. I think Brooke Shields would make a great Jana Lane.

There is a section of PAPER DOLL, where Jana visits Hollywood. While Jana’s film company is fictitious, I was able to incorporate a number of real places into the story like the Hollywood Wax Museum, the Brown Derby, and Mann’s Chinese Theatre. The remainder of the novel takes place in the beautiful Hudson Valley area of New York State. Both locals are obviously quite cinematic.

I can see Matt Bomer as Jana’s husband, Brian; Rosie O’Donnell as Jana’s sister Tamara; Martin Short as Jana’s father Scott, Chris Rock as Jana’s friend Jackson, and I want to play Simon Huckby (Jana’s agent).

I’d also like to play Martin Anderson (the college theatre department head) in my Nicky and Noah mystery series premiering this summer from Lethe Press with DRAMA QUEEN, and Mr. Ringwood (the high school principal) in my novella AN INFATUATION released by Dreamspinner Press February 4.

So come on producers, let’s hear some option offers!

We're always advised to "kill our darlings" when we write. Is there a line in Paper Doll that is your favorite – and you left in?

Simon Huckby, Jana’s longtime agent, is the conglomeration of many theatrical agents and managers I knew as an actor. He is quaint and funny yet fiercely loyal to Jana and the film industry. He has so many wonderful speeches in each of the three Jana Lane mysteries I’ve written so far (PAPER DOLL, PORCELAIN DOLL, SATIN DOLL). Here’s one of my favorites from PAPER DOLL:
“After we saw you in that play in New York, I said to Jonas, ‘I’m gonna make that little girl a movie star. And I did!’ I got you the best writer, director, producer, studio. When you played the spy girl, the sale of spy toys went up forty percent. When you were the candy-striper, the hospitals were inundated with kids begging to be candy-stripers. When you played the hula girl, travel agents couldn’t book flights to Hawaii fast enough. You were royalty. American’s favorite child.” With a self-pitying sniff into his frayed purple and chartreuse polka-dot ascot, he added, “Then you retired and left me. Alone like a dog!”

During your last visit you mentioned three folders on your desk: Current Writing Project, Current Editing Project, and Current Publicizing Project. You sound wonderfully organized and I hope you might tell us a little about your process for each?

I learned my organization skills from directing plays. As a college professor and department head, I have to be very organized as well. So it’s no surprise I carry that through to my writing.

When PAPER DOLL was in my Current Writing Project folder, I knew as an avid mystery reader, my first novel would be a page-turning murder mystery with clever plot twists, engaging characters, romance, humor, and lots of clues leading to a surprising conclusion. I hope this doesn’t sound too odd, but when I create a character, as an actor or as a writer, I close my eyes and envision the character. I write a long character bio about him or her. I hear the voice. It’s as if the character is a friend of mine who I converse with frequently. As a writer, I put my characters together and listen to them speak to one another. I become the medium who writes down their conversations. Based on those conversations, it’s clear to me which characters are coming and going, and which characters are here to stay. I write an outline but deviate from it constantly since my characters don’t always do what I expect them to do. I write in the evenings. I find being a bit tired actually helps me not to censor my thoughts, and I can write more creatively. My philosophy as a writer is, “Make ‘em laugh then make ‘em cry,” so it is not unusual for me to laugh out loud when writing or shed a few tears. I generally do a first draft, have my spouse critique it then do a second draft and third draft. Currently, DRAMA CRUISE (the third Nicky and Noah mystery) and SATIN DOLL (the third Jana Lane mystery) are in this folder.

When PAPER DOLL was in my Current Editing Project Folder I worked with an editor from Whiskey Creek Press on finding any typos, storyline inconsistencies, and storyline errors. Thankfully there were not a great deal, and the editing process took only one week via email. After the manuscript was completed, I had one more read to find last minute typos and it went to publication. Also during this time I worked with the cover artist from Whiskey Creek Press who, based on my descriptions, gave me three possible cover choices. I think the one I selected is a real eye-catcher. Current in this folder is DRAMA QUEEN (the first Nicky and Noah mystery) releasing this summer from Lethe Press.

Since PAPER DOLL releases from Whiskey Creek Press on March 5, it is in the Current Publicizing Project folder. I have been doing interviews on various blogs and web sites as well as working with the publisher to make the book available for review. Also in this folder is AN INFATUTATION, which Dreamspinner Press released February 4.

What one question do you wish some one would ask you about your work but no one ever has? Could you write it out here and please answer it for us?

What do you look for when you read a book?

I want to become part of the novel. I like engaging characters and plotlines that zigzag with numerous surprises leading to a shocking yet totally justified conclusion. Finally, I enjoy beautiful, lush locations as I’m taken through the portal of the book. I want to feel sorry the book ended, and crave going back for more in the future. I try to keep this in mind when writing my books.

We all know the old joke about critics, but what is the toughest criticism you've ever received, and how did you deal with it?

My book reviews have thankfully been quite positive. Before I started writing I read hundreds of mystery novels. I learned a good mystery suspense novel needs careful dropping of clues and red herrings along the way that add up to a perfect climax whereby the various parts equal the whole, rather than the author pulling an ending out of the hat. Also, the “who-done-it” aspect shouldn’t be the only element of the book. Strong characters, humor, romance, and twists and turns in the story will keep readers interested until they get to the dynamic conclusion. So I haven’t received a great deal of critiques. However, like most writers, I have received a number of rejections from publishers. I learned if one publisher rejects your work, don’t fret about it, send it immediately to the next!

The Oxford Comma – for or against?

I love comas and use them a great deal. I think they help the reader understand the author’s thoughts. So I’m all for the Oxford comma. However, many editors are not, so sometimes they go by the wayside. By the way, I visited Oxford in England, and I loved it. I used it to create the fictitious Treemeadow College and community in Vermont for my Nicky and Noah series releasing this summer by Lethe Press with DRAMA QUEEN.

I look forward to that release. Until then, here's more about Paper Doll.

PAPER DOLL (the first Jana Lane mystery)


a novel from Whisky Creek Press

releases March 5

e-book $3.99

Available from Whiskey Creek Press and Amazon

Jana Lane was America’s most famous child star until she was attacked on the studio lot at eighteen years old. Now she’s a thirty-eight-year-old beauty and mother of two living in a mansion in picturesque Hudson Valley, New York. Jana’s flashbacks from her past turn into murder attempts in her present. Forced to summon up the lost courage she had as a child, Jana visits the California movie studio she once called home. This sends her on a whirlwind of visits with former and current movie studio personnel. It also leads to a romance with the son of her old producer – Rocco Cavoto – the devilishly handsome filmmaker who is planning Jana’s comeback both professionally and personally. Can Jana uncover a web of secrets about everyone she loves, including the person who destroyed her past and threatens to snuff out her future?

About Joe:

Joe Cosentino is the author of An Infatuation (Dreamspinner Press), Paper Doll, the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), Drama Queen, the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press-releasing this summer), and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming novels are Porcelain Doll (the second Jana Lane mystery) and Drama Muscle (the second Nicky and Noah mystery).

Contact Joe:

Website: https://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joe.cos.7
Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4071647.Joe_Cosentino
Amazon author page:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00KRPXJP6