Q&A with Anita Kulina, Question of Devotion Excerpt

A Question of Devotion: A Mrs. B Mystery (Mrs B Mystery #1)

  • By Anita Kulina
  • Editions: ebook, paperback
  • Published: November 7th 2016 by Brandt Street Press
  • Genre: Adult Cozy Mystery
  • Then she saw it – a sheet of paper in the mailbox, underneath the mail. It was white with large black letters and said LEAVE IT ALONE.
    Mrs. B has a quiet life, and she likes it that way. Morning pinochle games at St. Mary’s Senior Center. Afternoon lunches with Myrtle, Anne and Rose. Peaceful evenings with a cup of coffee and the classic movie channel.
    But one day she wakes to a phone call, which leads to consequences she could never have foreseen. Secrets snowball and threaten to change the neighborhood of Burchfield forever. Someone has to make things right. It’s up to Mrs. B.

    ~ VABT

    Amazon | Book Depository


    See the first part of this excerpt here: https://staceyschneller06.wordpress.com/

    Myrtle nodded and started to cry at the same time. No sobs, just big tears rolling down her ruddy face. Mrs. B reached into her purse and handed Myrtle a handkerchief, the embroidered one her cousin Minnie had given her for her birthday years ago. It had orange leaves on it and yellow flowers.
    Mrs. B looked around. She didn’t want Myrtle to be embarrassed, and she was glad they weren’t in sight of the Senior Center door. Though in truth, half their friends couldn’t see this far anyway.
    She looked in the other direction toward the schoolyard. Empty. No one was around except for two people at the bus stop across the street. Neither of them paid the old ladies any attention.
    Mrs. B opened her mouth to ask her friend what was wrong, then closed it again. When Myrtle wanted to tell her, she’d tell her. Instead, she reached out and held her friend’s hand.
    They sat quietly for a while, staring straight ahead at the church and school.
    Both of Mrs. B’s kids had gone to St. Mary’s. The welcoming yellow-brick buildings were the reason she and Albert had moved to this part of the city. Their neighbors were welcoming, too, and the young couple soon felt right at home. Mrs. B’s son Leo and Myrtle’s son Ronnie were best friends in Little League, along with a little boy from around the block, Danny McCoy. Danny was the only one who had any athletic talent, but the three of them seemed to be experts on how to have fun. Even when they were getting into mischief, the antics of that trio could warm a heart of stone.
    Maybe something was the matter with one of Myrtle’s kids. Maybe that’s why Myrtle was crying. Maybe not. Maybe Mrs. B just thought that because she worried about her own kids.
    Mrs. B looked over at her friend. Myrtle was wiping her eyes with the handkerchief. Mrs. B patted her hand.
    The two ladies watched the people across the street board the 85 bus. Then they watched Father Clancy leave the priest’s house and get into his Cadillac.
    Father always drove nice cars, and he wasn’t fussy about them. When he was a brand new parish priest, he took the boys in the neighborhood fishing during the summer. He would let those raucous children crawl all over his car’s nice upholstery.
    Myrtle and Mrs. B loved Father Clancy. Most everyone in the parish did, right from the start. Leo, Ronnie and Danny were so excited the first time Father took them fishing all the way out at Pymatuning Lake. They could hardly sit still while they waited on Mrs. B’s front steps for him to come by to pick them up. Then again, she had to admit, the three of them seemed just as excited when Father took them a mile down the hill to fish in the Monongahela River.
    Leo would come back from fishing smelling of river water, even after she told him never to swim there. She’d scold the lot of them, but she couldn’t stay mad because they were so happy. Leo and Danny and Ronnie would bounce through her back door, laughing and shouting and shoving each other. If Albert was working the night shift at the mill, he would be home on those hot summer afternoons. After he’d hollered at the boys for causing a ruckus, he’d sit them down at the kitchen table to hear their stories while they all ate crackers and Polish sausage and pickles and whatever cheese Mrs. B had in the house for Albert’s lunch.
    Myrtle watched Father drive away. Mrs. B followed her gaze. After another minute or two, Myrtle let go of Mrs. B’s hand. She braced herself on the bench with her right arm, then stood up. “I better head home,” she said. “Thank you, Edwina. You’re a good friend.”
    So Myrtle didn’t want to talk after all. What she wanted was comfort. “Aren’t you coming to the Senior Center?” Mrs. B asked.
    “I want to go home first and wash my face. I’ll be down.” Myrtle looked at the handkerchief. Mrs. B nodded. Myrtle handed the handkerchief back to her friend, then began to walk up the little hill to her house.
    Mrs. B watched her friend until she disappeared from view. Then she looked at her watch. Her card game would start in ten minutes. She could still make it.
    Poor Myrtle. Mrs. B hoped she was all right.
    She crossed at the corner and went down the little hill that led to the Senior Center in the basement of St. Mary’s Church. As she reached the door, she shifted her purse to her left hand so she could grab the doorknob with her right. A larger hand moved hers aside.
    “Let me get that for you, Mrs. B.”

    This excerpt continues on April 13th here: https://celticladysreviews.blogspot.ca/


    1. If you were to describe your e-book/book in only one word, what would it be?

    2. What would you say inspired you to write it? ?
    A news article I read years ago. I often find little items in the paper and think, “Now what could I do with that?”

    3. What was the source of inspiration for your protagonist? What about your antagonist? ?
    Mrs. B was inspired by older women I admired, especially women in my own family and in my neighborhood. My antagonist (whose name I can’t reveal, since it’s a mystery) is a composite of people I have known.

    4. Have you ever been hit by the infamous “writer’s block”? What did you do to escape it? ?
    It happens to me on a fairly regular basis, but it’s always temporary. I take a walk, and that always clears my head. Working on a different project for a while helps, too.

    5. Your all time favorite book? ?
    It’s not a novel. It’s Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.

    6. What made you pick that one above all others? ?
    I was a shy, anxious youngster when I got into junior high. How to Win Friends and Influence People was a practical manual that taught me how to talk to people without being afraid. Learning that other people might be nervous, too, helped me get through those awkward teenage years.

    7. What’s the longest time you’ve spent working on a project? ?
    My first book, Millhunks and Renegades: A Portrait of a Pittsburgh Neighborhood, took ten years to write. Eight of those years were research. It was my very first book, and I was learning as I went along.

    8. Was there ever a time, during your work on the e-book/book, when you felt like giving up? What made you change your mind? ?
    Never. I was having a blast creating these characters and inhabiting their world.

    9. What does your day-to-day life consist of? What else do you do, aside writing? ? I work at a university in Pittsburgh, a city full of universities. My husband and I run a small publishing company. I have family, including nieces and nephews, and great-nieces and great-nephews, that live nearby. The universities offer lots of theater, music and lectures at reasonable prices. I try to squeeze all that in when I’m not writing!

    10. How do you deal with bad reviews or acid criticism? What would you advise other authors to that effect? ?
    If someone doesn’t like my book, they’re not my audience. I don’t like every book that’s out there. I don’t expect everyone to like mine.

    11. Is this title part of a series? Without giving us spoilers, of course, what can we expect from the next e-books/books in the series? ?
    Yes, it’s the first book in a series. In the next book, Mrs. B and her friends go to a restaurant with the Senior Center Supper Club. When it’s time to leave, someone is missing, and Mrs. B has another mystery to solve.

    12. What do you have stored for us in the future? What are you working on/planning on next, aside this title/series? ?
    Right now I’m concentrating on the Mrs. B series. It’s so much fun.

    13. What made you decide to go the self-pub way? ?
    When I wrote Millhunks and Renegades, I had a vision for the layout and printing of the book. I didn’t find an outside publisher who shared that vision, so I decided to create Brandt Street Press and do it myself. Eventually, Brandt Street Press grew to publish other authors as well.

    14. What would you say was the toughest part? ?
    It was all difficult at first. I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. Thank goodness for the library – I checked out book after book on self-publishing.

    15. Did you hire professionals for editing, cover design, formatting? ?
    Yes! I would never do otherwise. My books are important to me, and they deserve help from professionals.

    16. How did you decide who to hire, if you worked with pros? ?
    I worked with a designer I knew. He was willing to give me his “friends and family” discount. My husband is an editor, and I asked him. That might not always be a good choice, working with family, but I was willing to listen to his criticism. I took most of his changes, and I was willing to fight for the ones I wanted to keep.

    17. How long did the production part take, from the moment you began working on the manuscript to self-pub to when you hit ‘Publish’? ?
    Millhunks and Renegades, including the research, took ten years. Eight years of research, a year of writing, and a year of editing and layout and getting the book to print. A Question of Devotion, the first Mrs. B book, took about a year to write, then a few months of getting honest feedback from beta readers, people I knew and trusted. Final edits, layout and printing took it to probably two years total.

    18. Where is your work being distributed, Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, AllRomanceEbooks/Omnilit, some other distributor? How did you decide which one(s) to go with? ?
    Millhunks and Renegades was my first book, and I sold it on Amazon. I also printed copies to sell myself. Since it was local history, I wrote an article for a local paper and contacted local organizations, which ended up generating most of my sales in the first two years. For the Mrs. B book, I use Amazon for online sales and IngramSpark for bookstores. Ingram makes my book available nationally and internationally, which is why I chose them.

    19. If you could turn back in time and do things differently, would you? What would you change? ?
    I would ask for help from someone who had self-published before. Over time I’ve learned to ask for help, and when I do, people are so nice about it. I don’t know what I was afraid of.

    20. If you were to recommend one article, blog, post, or book to someone hoping to self-pub, what would it be? ?
    CJ Lyons, a highly successful self-published writer, is so inspiring, and so knowledgeable. http://cjlyons.net/extras/for-writers/

    21. In retrospect, what was the toughest part of self-pubbing? Was it the part that you thought would be toughest before embarking on this adventure? ?
    The toughest part was learning distribution. Learning who my readers are and getting my book in front of them is always the toughest part.

    22. What’s one characteristic of an author who self-publishes, one word that would describe them? ?

    Fun facts: :

    1. If you could wish for any one thing, and it would immediately come true, what would you wish for? ?
    Money. If I had lots of money, I could write all day and hire people to do all the other stuff.

    2. If you were stranded on an isolated island, what’s the one book you’d absolutely wish to have with you? ?
    Truthfully? I’d need Wilderness Survival for Dummies.

    3. Name your favorite fruit. ?

    4. Coffee or tea? ?
    Coffee. Strong and black.

    5. Favorite season? ?
    I like them all.

    6. How about fav time of 24 hours? ?
    I’m a morning person.

    7. Favorite food for breakfast? ?

    8. Latest book you’ve bought and read? ?
    I’m making my way through Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s and 50s. So far my favorite is Dorothy B. Hughes’s In a Lonely Place.

    9. Favorite color, you know you want to tell us! ?
    Turquoise. Even when I was a kid I used to fight for the blue-green crayon.

    10. Drama or comedy? ?
    I like all kinds of stories.

    Full Disclosure:

    1. Your oldest memory is… ?
    Sitting on my father’s shoulders while the circus parade went by. Elephants!

    2. The one thing you’d do anything to avoid/get out of is… ?
    Drying dishes. And ironing. Both were my chores growing up!

    3. Your favorite part of a date is… ?
    My husband making me laugh.

    4. If you could have any one superpower, it would be… ?
    I just learned how to make cheese and bacon biscuits on Saturday. I took my first bite and now I feel like I have a dangerous superpower.

    About the Author & Links:

    Like most people who love to write, Anita Kulina has been telling stories since she was old enough to hold a pen. Her first publication was in the letters-to-the-editor column of Adventure Comics #341. Nowadays, much of her work centers on the rich and colorful lives of Pittsburgh’s working poor. Since Anita spent much of her life in those ranks, it’s a subject dear to her heart.

    Her book Millhunks and Renegades won her the Achievement in Literature award from the community of Hazelwood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is currently at work on the next two Mrs. B books.

    Website | Facebook | Goodreads


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