Posted in books, fiction, ghosts, novels, writers, writing

The Bonnie Neuk Tea Room: Friends and Uninvited Guests (Ghosts) by Connie Hope

the Bonnie Tea room

 

Welcome Connie.  You are a versatile author, writing cook books and then a paranormal ghost  book.  When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

I was ten years old and won a writing contest for the C.A.R.(Children of the American Revolution).  I knew that I loved to write and was fair at it.  My mother said you need to find a profession to make money at not play.  I went to college for Elementary Education.  I should have done English.  But it took 50 years for me to have the time—kids, work, life.  I remember the day, we had moved to Florida to retire.  I figured I’d take 2 months off then go look for a job. I was a mortgage closer at the time.  You remember what was happening in 2007 and 2008 the housing market was going into the toilet.  I was sitting on the lanai with my eyes closed.  I felt this tap on my shoulders, looked around saw nothing. I closed my eyes again and something said to me, “You now have time to write your cookbook and novel, go to it NOW.” I got up and started putting together the outline for my cookbook—In Addition…to the Entrée.  Three years later it was done and printed.  Now a year later, I have my novel completed and being edited and hopefully printed in October.  The Bonnie Neuk Tea Room:  Friends and Uninvited Guests (Ghosts).

Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

I have a degree in Elem. Education with a minor in Photography.  The Photograph helped me with the cookbook.  All 200 photos were taken by me. I have taken several courses in writing, character development and plot.  I still am taking course now.  I always think you can learn something new.

How long did it take you to publish your fist manuscript?

I self printed my first book, the cookbook.  My son has a printing company in China so I printed through him—PRC Book Printing. jacob@prcbookprinting.com  It took me a year and a half to write, photography and get it edited. Then about six months to have a book design work with me on the layout. It was a back and forth for 10-15 hours for 5 days a week.  I knew just what I wanted the book to look like. It took time.

ConnieCover1a

 The novel took about a year of writing, re-writing and re-re-writing.  I would write a chapter, then wait a day and print it out and edit it, then re type it and them re-edit it and change things, then re type it. Now I am having it professional edited.  I’m not the best person in grammar.

Do you always write in the same genre?

I do not always write in the same genre.  My first book was a cookbook.  My second is a novel—paranormal mystery.  Who knows what the next will be.

Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

You could find it on the mystery section, but maybe in the paranormal also.  Although this is not like some of the paranormal violent novel, it’s just a friendly ghost or two.  

Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and   publisher?

 No, I self printed my cookbook.  The novel I am self publishing through Create Space.

Author, Jennie Nash was quoted on Writer Unboxed that she reads other novels to study structure. Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s.

 I do not follow a structure pattern.  I write from the heart and see where it takes me. I do outline each chapter, but I also change the outline as I get into the story.

What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the  story itself?

 I can’t say which was the hardest—they are all challenging as you are writing. As I said I make an outline, but change it at times as I am writing and get another twist in.  Building the story is the fun part, not necessarily the easy part.

It is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

Writing the book was the easy part, marketing it the challenge as in trying to sell the book and get it to an audience.  I still need help with that part.

Are you a pantser or a planner?

I am definitely a planner.

What advise would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

My advice is to keep writing.  Write everyday and edit the next.  Then write again.  It doesn’t have to be a long period of time, but do it everyday. Not everyone likes to write, then edit, I just find it more rewarding to complete a chapter that I am comfortable with, then move on to the next.  Not saying, I haven’t writing two or three chapters at a time because I get on a roll before I go back and edit it.

What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today? The Bonnie Neuk Tea Room: Friends and Uninvited Guests (Ghosts)

Victoria Storm, divorces her husband of twenty five years, takes her comfort, stuffed bear and starts out on a new life’s adventure.  One day her phone rings and someone tells her that her grandmother owned a tea room in 1932.  Who was this anonymous caller?  She returns to her hometown of Metuchen, New Jersey, buys and renovates an old house, and creates a tea room called the Bonnie Neuk—named after her grandmother’s tea room.  She meets new friends, shares new experience and finds out that her tea room has some unexpected guests from out of this world!  The adventures with these uninvited guests go on all while serving tea, scones and homemade soup to her guests.

Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to whet out appetite?

Here is a page from my novel:  The Bonnie Neuk Tea Room:  Friends and Uninvited Guests (Ghosts)

Working hard until late in the evening after moving in to my new home, I wanted to unwind.  The best way is to make a cup of Rooibos tea and relax in Auntie’s chair that enveloped me with its sturdy arm. It made me feel secure. These herbal leaves or tisanes are from Africa.  Tisane is a catch-all term for any non-caffeinated beverage made from the infusion of herbs and/or spices.  It is naturally caffeine free,  with a rich red color and a sweet nutty flavor.

Closing my eyes to inhale the fragrance of the nutty tea, I felt a cool breeze and a hint of lavender.  Suddenly, the room became extremely cold and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.  Despite my fear, I looked up to see in the far corner of the room what looked like a person—a young man, his body image not defined, but rather fuzzy. I stared at the figure until I gathered enough courage to speak.  “I pray for the white light to protect me.  My name is Victoria Thorn Storm.  Having bought this house as a means to a new start for my life, I mean you no harm and come in peace. My dream is to remodel this house into The Bonnie Neuk, a tea room similar to the one my grand mom Thorn had in Metuchen many years ago. Who are you? What is your name? What do you want?”  The room remained deadly cold and quiet.  His shape became more defined, and I noticed he was dressed in a WWII Army uniform.  I sat still for what seemed like hours. In reality only minutes had passed.

The voice said with surprise, “You can see me?  Time is irrelevant. I have been drifting in this house for many years.  I can’t leave. Most people don’t see or hear me, and some tried to ignore me. I want to be known and looked upon with respect.  I am a soldier and have fought for the honor of my country. I was one of the twenty-seven killed many years ago in a freak bus and train accident. We were returning to the base from maneuvers.  I was the oldest soldier.  The young man sitting next to me was twenty one.  Your name sounds familiar.  Did I know you?  My name is Derrick,” he stated in a scratchy, but audible voice.  “I hope to be friends with the owner of this house.”

On a hunch, I asked him, “Did you move a lunch bag of one of the workers the other day?”

“I could have…  It did make everyone laugh.”  After a long pause he said, “I will return.”

The air turned warmer and the room silent.  The voice, fuzzy figure, and the smell of lavender vanished as quickly as they had appeared.  It’s un-nerving from the get-go to realize that you are seeing a ghost let alone talking to one.

 

Thank you Connie. Where can readers buy your books?

My website is www.thebonnieneuktearoom.com You can buy my book on my website and I will sign it for you.

You can buy my book on Create Space using this link.  https://www.CreateSpace.com/4775503. Click Add to Cart and Check Out.

Or you can order on Amazon on the following links.

http://www.amazon.com/Bonnie-Neuk-Tea-Room-Paranormal/dp/099165384X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1410882393&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Connie-Hope/e/B00LD8117Y/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1

 

 

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Posted in authors, characters, conflict, faces, fiction, Florida, ghosts, mystery, novels, thriller, writers, writing

Bitter Secrets by Patty Brant

Patti Brant

Today we have my friend with us on Author Interview Friday. I first met Patty last year at a book event in Mt. Dora and had the privilege of spending some time getting to know her.  Welcome Patty.  Why don’t you tell the readers how you got started in writing.

I always enjoyed writing but I never did anything about it until I went to work for the Caloosa Belle, local newspaper in LaBelle. That was in 1985 – so I’ve done a lot or writing since then, all with a journalistic approach. There were times when I thought “Wouldn’t it be great to write a book?” That was followed immediately by “You’ve got to know something to write a book!” So that was always the end of it.

A lot of people could relate to that. The hard part is pushing past that.

It wasn’t till about ten years ago that I seriously thought I could do it. That’s when an idea hit me for a story. I was just driving home, nothing on my mind in particular. Then it was like someone opened up my head and dropped the words “I see faces” into my head. I thought, “You could write a story around those three works. Heck, you could write a whole book around just those three words.

So for the next couple weeks I was thinking about who these faces might be; what their circumstances were; Where in time they were as well as place. It became a mental exercise. When I wasn’t thinking about something else, I was building my little framework for these faces. I actually had the first several paragraphs in my head when I thought I should probably get them down in writing, and it all just grew from there.

They say there is a story inside all of us. Did you have any friends or mentors to help you?

I happened to know a very wonderful published writer named Barbara Oehlbeck who had written a book on roses, one on the sabal palm tree and many poems. A couple of years ago she wrote a wonderful memoir called Mama; Root, Hog, or Die. Barbara had always been very complimentary of my writing and even asked me once if I ever thought of writing a book!

I showed her what I had and she was very supportive. Every so often I’d show her what more I’d done and she would encourage me to keep going.

Finally, I had it done – but I finally finished my first book, Bitter Secrets, a mystery about a missing family with an otherworldly twist.  It took me at least three years – probably more.  I write off and on when I have the time. I can write all day, all night and all day again, but I have to be alone and have quiet. That just doesn’t happen.

Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

Just with the newspaper – 29 years now. I have an AA degree in liberal arts and did well in writing classes there. Funny, though, I went to Catholic schools for 12 years – starting elementary school in 1955. I can still remember things the nuns said about writing.

What else can you tell us about yourself?

I’m from Canton, Ohio. Lived in Virginia Beach for two years (my husband was in the Navy at the time), moved to Florida (my husband’s home) in 1969. My husband was in law enforcement for 40 years. He’s retired now and keeps wondering when I’m going to retire.

We have two grown daughters, a son-in-law, and three grandchildren.

Do you always write in the same genre?

Not sure how to answer that, but I think so – so far anyway. I’m putting the finishing touches on my second book now – Full Circle – which is a sequel to Bitter Secrets. It’s a little different, though. The mystery of what happened to the Parker Family has been solved, of course, and Full Circle picks up the lives of my protagonist and several other characters from that point. There is another mystery to solve and other threads in this new story as well.

Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

Both my books are in first person. I chose that originally because everything I write for the paper is in third person, so I figured it might be a nice change.

I had several publishers try to steer me away from first person. I’ve never understood quite why.

Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s?

My stories alternate in time. The original mystery in Bitter Secrets actually occurs in the 1940s. It isn’t solved until the 1980s, so I kind of straddle those four decades in that story.

There are several story lines in Full Circle, so I do more alternating of the story line in that one. That can be a little tricky because you still need the action to flow.

I also don’t want to get stuck into formula writing, I know that’s what a lot of publishers want, and it might sell, but that’s not my idea of what I want to do.

Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

I guess it would have to be Mystery. Like most things in my life, I find it hard to categorize.

Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indie publisher to a colleague?

I checked companies out online and sent many, inquiries to traditional publishers. I got a few nice letters, but no takers. Talked to people who said yes, you need an agent; others who say no you don’t After going on this way for several years, I finally took the plunge and decided on iUniverse.

They have been very professional and very helpful. I know you have to be careful about “add on” services that you may not really need from any self publisher. I have used several of these services for my second book Full Circle, They were quite expensive but I also think I have learned a lot from them and I think the developmental editing service has made my book much better than it otherwise would have been.

What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Well, I didn’t do an outline – maybe I should have but I really didn’t know where Bitter Secrets was going. I just kept coming up with scenarios and wrote some more. I was probably about half way through when I knew my ending, so then I could head for the light at the end of the tunnel.

I really hate trying to do a synopsis or query.

I have to laugh at that. “the dreaded synopsis and query.” Every writer’s worst nightmare. What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

First of all, know your English – grammar and spelling do count to professional writers and to serious readers. The best story in the world can be ruined by lack of attention to basic English rules. It doesn’t have to make your work stuffy.

Beyond that, I think you need a good story to tell. I think my problem for a long time was that I just didn’t have a story I wanted to tell. When I found one, I went with it!

Tell us a little more about your current work in progress.

As I said, it’s a sequel to Bitter Secrets called Full Circle and it takes up my protagonist’s life where Bitter Secrets ends. Actually, in some ways it’s an extension of Bitter Secrets. At the end of Bitter Secrets Molly (my protagonist) was given a job to do by her friend and other main character in Bitter Secrets so she must find a way to carry it out in Full Circle. Full Circle also incorporates a little romance and a good old fashioned cop story.

I’m doing the final rewrite of Full Circle now (wish I had a nickel for every time I said that!). In a week or two I should be sending it back to the publisher and the race will be on.

We must have you back on Author Interview Friday when that book comes out. I loved Bitter Secrets and look forward to the sequel. Can you tell the readers  the premise of  Bitter Secrets,  the  novel we are promoting today?

Bitter Secrets

Molly Martindale came to Oxbow, Florida, (a fictional town in Southwest Florida’s inland area) as a scared and lonely 13-year-old orphan to live with an aunt she barely knew. Sixteen years later she is a reporter for her hometown newspaper when she becomes interested in a family that “moved away” 40 years earlier. She’s never heard of this family before – in a small Southern town that prides itself on its roots, that’s hard for her to understand – and even more perplexing is that no one will talk about them much. She’s also the focus of visits by bone-chilling “faces” that seem to be begging her for  . . . something. So Molly’s reporter instincts are roused and she starts poking around in old matters some folks would rather be left covered with dust.

In her quest for the truth, she gets help from the town drunk, a wheelchair-bound Viet Nam veteran, a savvy old black man and, of course, her faces.

A little bird told me you won an award for Bitter Secrets. Congratulations. Tell us about that.

Yes, quite an exciting surprise. Bitter Secrets was a finalist in the 2013 Indie Excellence Book Awards. 

Please share a few paragraphs from Bitter Secrets.

 

Excerpt from Bitter Secrets by Patty Brant

I see faces.

I can’t quite remember when I first started seeing them. They were so faint, so unobtrusive, like mist gliding above the sand. More like a sigh, really, flitting just at the periphery of vision, or tangled among leaves like low-lying clouds. At some point, they began to register in my consciousness like little feathers gliding across the bottoms of my feet. Almost imperceptible, but not quite.

I had been in this small town since high school, coming as a brokenhearted thirteen-year-old orphan to live with a widowed great aunt I barely knew. Now a reporter with the Oxbow Independent, our local mullet wrapper, I, Molly Martindale, had settled quite comfortably into my life. This town had become my own.

I remember quite clearly the day I could no longer ignore these faces. I had just spent the better part of my day wrestling with an absentee boss—you know, the kind who rarely shows her face and still manages to give you grief. As I finally hung up the phone for the last time and switched off the light, it was just about dusk. When I pulled the key from the front door lock and turned to the darkening street, it must have been bedtime for the birds. They were swishing through the air, calling to each other, making quite a ruckus. At first I hoped the waning light was playing tricks on my strained eyes.

But no, I was certain. There really was something up in the branches of that old orchid tree. All my instincts said there was.

 

Thank you so much for this opportunity to connect with other writers and readers. It’s always encouraging when someone shows an interest in your passion.

My Blog: http://bittersecrets.authorsxpress.com

 My Web site: http://pattybrant.com/

Online sales: http://www.amazon.com/Bitter-Secrets-Patty-Brant/dp/1462071562/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398340649&sr=1-1&keywords=bitter+secrets