Posted in authors, books, disabilities, elder care, family, Indie, love, parents, purpose, readers, remember, schools, senior care, support, writers, writing

5 time author Pauline Hayton never intended to be a writer

Pauline Hayton

Pauline Hayton was born in 1946 in the north east of England and worked as a probation officer in her hometown of Middlesbrough before emigrating to the United States in 1991. She and her husband currently live in Naples, Florida with four abandoned cats who adopted them.

She started writing in 1996, after listening to her father’s war stories and reading his wartime diaries. She found them so interesting, she felt compelled to write her first book, A Corporal’s War.

Researching for this book, she discovered the true WWII story of a remarkable woman, Ursula Graham Bower and wrote Naga Queen. While researching Naga Queen she became friends with Ursula’s daughter through whom Hayton became involved in bettering the lives of the Naga tribes in north east India. This also led to a new book,Chasing Brenda, a lighthearted adventure in Nagaland, written after the author visited Magulong village where she and her husband support a school.

Myanmar:In my Father’s Footsteps. A Journey of Rebirth and Remembrance is a travelog of a trip taken in 2006. After recovering from two battles with cancer, Hayton wanted to do something to make her feel alive and decided to visit the places where her father fought the Japanese in Burma during WWII. It was a healing, life-changing journey for her.

Her latest book, If You Love Me, Kill Me,  is based on the author’s painful, personal experiences while caring for her elderly parents.

If you Love Me, Kill Me

You can purchase her books by going to her Amazon Author page  http://www.amazon.com/Pauline-Hayton/e/B003YGSLJY/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Naga Queen by Pauline HaytonChasing BrendaA Corporal's WarIn my Fathers Footsteps

Joanne:  Pauline, it is a pleasure to have you on Author Interview Friday.  You say you never intended to be a writer, yet you have five books published. How did that happen?

Pauline: Thanks for having me, Joanne.  It’s true. I still don’t enjoy being a writer; it’s such hard, lonely work, but the stories keep coming into my head, and I need to share them for other to enjoy them. I started writing when my dad began to tell me his WWII stories. I was 55 at the time and was living in Florida after emigrating from England.  I thought them so interesting that I wanted to write them down for my grandchildren to read. They had only ever known their grandfather as a doddery old man. By reading his stories, they would discover that in his younger days he was a dynamic leader and a brave hero. His memory was detailed and incredibly accurate when he was telling me of his experiences at Dunkirk. Then he brought out the tattered diary he wrote when he was sent to India, and I discovered there were detailed records available at the Public Records Office in London and at the Imperial War Museum in London that I used to describe the bigger picture in which my dad’s personal story was taking place. The project blossomed into a book.

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

Pauline:   I took a Writer’s Digest novel writing course which helped a lot and read books on writing. Before that, the only writing I had done was as a probation officer when I wrote reports about defendants for the courts.

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

Pauline:  It took three years. After almost 40 rejections, I self-published. My dad was growing old and before he died, I wanted him to hold his book in his hands.  

Joanne: Do you always write in the same genre?

Pauline:  No. When I was researching for “A Corporal’s War”, I came across another amazing WWII story of a young British woman who was living with the Naga tribes of NE India, doing anthropological work. She was recruited by a clandestine unit of the British Army, V Force, to spy on the Japanese who were expected to invade India. She received a medal for her activities. I knew immediately that her story would be my second book, which I called Naga Queen.  Writing this book changed my life.

Joanne:  Naga Queen changed your life? How so?

Pauline:  I became friends with Trina, the Naga Queen’s daughter, when I researched her mother’s private papers. Trina moved to New Delhi, India and became involved in the neglected Naga tribes’ welfare. She told me how sad she was that one village school looked like it was going to close, because it was so remote and most of the villagers were so poor, they could not afford to pay teachers to teach the 100 school-age children in the village. That village was Magulong, the school was Mount Kisha English School. This village was Ursula Graham Bower’s (The Naga Queen’s) favorite Naga village, and it was where she married her British Army officer husband in a true Naga ceremony. In 2007, my husband and I took on the job of sponsoring the school. Now all the children in the village are being educated. We have been there twice. The village is like paradise, well worth the eleven hour journey from the nearest town of any size, in a four-wheel drive vehicle, over crumbling mountain roads, followed by a five hour hike up a mountain. The villagers treat us like family, and indeed to us, they are our extended family. 

Joanne:   That is a fascinating story and I can see how those people have changed you forever. Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, If you Love Me, Kill Me, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore and what is the premise to the story?

Pauline: It would probably be in general fiction.  I hope If You Love Me, Kill Me will help anyone going through tough times caring for a loved one to forgive themselves for not being perfect in their care. All you can do is your best. I didn’t have a support system during the years I cared for my parents. Get one in place before you become so worn out that you don’t have the energy to do it.

Joanne:  Let’s talk a little about the writing process.  Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?

Pauline:  No. After numerous rejections, enough to paper a wall, and being a cancer survivor who wanted to ensure my stories were available for others to enjoy, I self-published. I don’t waste time trying to deal with regular publishers.

Joanne:  What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indie publisher to a colleague?

Pauline:  I published through Create Space, a part of Amazon.com. I am delighted with their service and would highly recommend them.

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

Pauline:  I wrote If You Love Me, Kill Me in first person. It is a very personal story interwoven with some fiction, based on my 7 years of caring for my elderly parents.

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

Pauline:   I generally write in third person and usually stay in chronological order. However, I wrote my dad’s story, A Corporal’s War first of all in third person then rewrote it as a memoir because, in first person, it felt more personal and poignant. If You Love Me, Kill Me I also wrote in first person for the same reason. As in If You Love Me, Kill Me, the book I am currently writing will have some flashbacks.

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

Pauline:  Building the story itself is the easiest part, especially since a psychic told me I had to write about my own life in order to have success in my writing. I’m afraid I laughed at her and dismissed such an idea. I couldn’t imagine anyone being interested in my life. Nevertheless, I wrote Chasing Brenda and If You Love Me, Kill Me, two stories based on personal experiences, as is the book I am currently working on. Once I decide to write a particular story, I let the idea ruminate in my subconscious and after several weeks, the storyline and title suddenly appear. Then I start pounding my keyboard. I find writing the synopsis and outline difficult and ask my writing friends to advise me about how to improve and tighten them up.  

Joanne: What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

Pauline: Marketing is my weakness. (Laughs) In my twenties, I once took a vocational guidance course as I had no idea, and therefore no direction, on what to do in my life. I scored the lowest marks possible for sales and marketing. The only things I do are to tell my Facebook friends when I have published a new book, hand out bookmarks I have designed when I meet people who are interested in my writing and ask Tom Witt of the Naples Daily News to review my books. I must say I have noticed my Amazon.com sales are slowly increasing in a few countries, which I assume is from word of mouth advertising.  

Joanne:  What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Pauline:  Don’t let the big picture of writing a novel make you freeze. Start with a vignette or a scene and build from there.

Joanne: I too was the primary care giver of my father, so I can relate to this story. I know many others will find your book encouraging and helpful when they take on this task so foreign to most of us.  Can you share a few paragraphs from If You Love Me, Kill Me, to wet out appetite?

I half carried and half dragged her into her bedroom and laid her on the bed. Her left side seemed paralyzed.

“I won’t be a minute. I’m going to call 911.”

Waiting for the ambulance, I held her hand, stroked her hair—and silently cursed God.

   How cruel can you be, you sick bastard? She’s blind, deaf, can’t walk, and now you’ve given her a stroke! Couldn’t let her die peacefully in her sleep, could you? No, you just have to keep heaping on the shit. I despise you!

The paramedics arrived, and I took them to Mum’s room.

“I think she’s had a stroke.”

They took in her distorted face, asked questions, and generally agreed it looked like a stroke.

“Which hospital do you want us to take her to?”

I was flummoxed. I hadn’t been expecting the question, thinking the paramedics would make that decision. I was too distraught to think straight.

“I don’t know.”

“The Community Hospital has the best reputation for treating heart and stroke patients,” said one paramedic.

“Oh no, I don’t want her to go there!” I blurted out. “They killed my father.”

He looked at me questioningly.

“They infected him, and he died,” I said.

“It’s where I’d take my mother,” the paramedic persisted. “It will give her the best chance.”

Overwrought, I kept looking at my mother and back to the paramedic not knowing the best thing to do. Close to tears, I surrendered my power and acquiesced to his suggestion. They quickly gathered her up and carried her from the house.

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Posted in books, education, family, Florida, history, Indie, non-fiction, remember, writers

Local SW Historian brings Florida history to life

I am so pleased to have  Elizabeth “Betsy” Perdichizzi with us today on Author Interview Friday. I first read her book, A Girl Called Tommie when I moved here in 2008. Betsy made Tommie jump off the page and come alive for me. I could see her forging creeks and plodding through swamp land to bring civilization to Marco Island.  Like Betsy, when I moved here, I was craving the history of the island.  It was the best book  I had ever read on the local history of the area.  It is such a joy to say that Betsy and I are now friends and share the joy of writing together.

Betsy Perdichizzi

Betsy, please tell the readers when you first knew that you wanted to be a writer and if there was a particular inspiration to get started?

Our move to Marco Island in 1989 sparked my interest in learning about my new Florida home.  There were no books in the bookstore, only one or two in the library to read about the history of the island.  Most newcomers like myself came just for fishing, boating and leisure.  Doug Waitley, author of the Last Paradise, spoke at a luncheon that I attended. He said that he too had come to the island wanting to read about the history, then decided he had to write it.  He wrote about the Deltona development which we call modern Marco. In my mind, his words helped spark establishment of the Marco Island Historical Society in 1994 the need to capture oral histories of pioneers and their descendents.  I sensed time was running out. Those Old Timers and their descendents were dying off or drifting away. I met Kappy Kirk, Tommie Barfield’s 80 year old niece and legal ward, who introduced me to her friends.  That was a real break through, I wanted to  interview them all and write their stories.  So I became an actress telling the story of Tommie Barfield and her friends, then I became an author, writing about these people and how three communities developed.   I eventually found myself chairing the Capital Campaign to raise $4.5 million dollars to build the Marco Island Historical Museum to tell the story of the Calusa, the Pioneers and the 1960 Deltona history that led to modern Marco Island.

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

I learned the rudimentaries of writing for newspapers in a high school journalism class, but my real training was on the job experience writing as a freelance columnist, writing for the historical society newspaper then spent ten years writing a  newspaper history column “Days Gone By’ in the Suntimes, for which I won the Golden Quill Award.

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

I would say two years. My book was a one-woman play before it was a book. In 1998, I collected information about Tommie Barfield with the Kappy’s help and we formed a company to publish the book “A Girl Called Tommie, Queen of Marco Island” in 1999.

Do you always write in the same genre?

You’ve heard the old saying “truth is stranger than fiction” is true.  I am fascinated by the stories of pioneers and try to make them come alive for people, using their own words where possible. The SW Florida region is captivating, with new information about the past turning up everywhere, all the time. I can’t make it up any better than this, it is more interesting to me fiction.

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?

Florida non-fiction.  For the past six years I have been on a journey with the Olds family, discovering what it was like down here one hundred years ago.  When I was writing “A Girl Called Tommie, Queen of Marco Island” Kappy took me to Miami Beach to meet Tommies’ little sister Hazel.  Walking into Aunt Hazel’s house with pictures of her mother, sisters, the boarding house, made it all come alive for me, I hope I passed it on..

One of my readers, Dr. Robin Brown, a noted author in Fort Myers, wrote, “I just finished reading A Girl Named Tommie. What a very fine piece of work! I am helping write a summary of material pertinent to the presentation of Marco’s history for your new museum and I learned more about Marco during the century from 1850 to 1950 from your book, than from any other source. It needed to be written. And writing readable non-fiction is not easy. Your combination of dry historical fact with poignant human detail is well crafted

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?

Desk-top publishing or Indi-publishing as it is now called, blossomed with advent of the computer offering writers an economical way to publish their work  and become authors of published books.  I loved the writing part of it. Marketing the book and making it profitable thus rests directly on the author and if I do a little bit each day, even that part is getting interesting.

What does finding your “Voice” mean to you and how did you find yours?

Documenting the history of real people and telling their life-stories is of great interest to me. In the non-fiction books my Voice is just the narrator giving some necessary background information.  In the early book I was a character in order to tell the story. 

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

I read contemporary and classic authors and find myself studying how other authors express themselves, handle delicate subject matter, or admire a well-turned a phrase.  Writing for a newspaper helped me write clearly and cleanly, eliminating unnecessary words or flights of phrases. I like beginning at the beginning, but am not adverse to back flashes that explain a point in the story. 

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

In writing about real people it is sometimes easier to find the beginning and the middle than it is to find the end or conclude the story.  In the “Tommie” book I I searched for a good ending, with what I thought was her vision of the future.  Readers always want to know what happened to your main character and I handled that  in a postscript, just as in a performance, you conclude the presentation in first person, getting out of character in the end to answer questions from the audience. 

Into the Wilderness offered my biggest challenge because I felt that Mary commanded the heart of the story with her very personal and revealing letters.  Mary’s daughter Saloma picked up the legacy with a beautiful letter that made it come full circle.

What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

One of the lecturers the 2013 Florida Heritage Book Festival remarked that if you do a little marketing everyday, it isn’t so overwhelming.

I found that I had made a good start, was doing some things right, 1. Establish my publishing business with Florida Sales Tax and ID tax number using an on line accounting program such as Quickbooks. 2. Establish website. 3. Contact Barnes & Noble or Amazon.  I acquired a Vendor of Record for companies who do not deal directly with authors or Indiepubs. 4. Actively working to market my books at least 30 minutes every day. 5. Enable myself to take cash, check and credit cards. I acquired a smart phone and Square reader for credit cards. Obtained credit card slips for back up when there is no WIFI or internet. 6. Obtain a banner, posters, and provide a table set up at book fairs that will attract people to my table.

I need to do more on social media, I don’t think it will ever end.

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

It you have the passion, don’t worry too much about details down the road…write it and it will come.

How does this book relate to the issues of today?

Some of the political issues touched upon one hundred years ago are still with us.  It is sometimes good to look over your shoulder and see how far we have come, and see what we can learn from the past. The pioneer had to be hardy, independent, self sufficient, and make do or do without.  You have to ask yourself, when disaster strikes are we prepared to meet and overcome the challenges as they did?

What is the premise of your novel, Into the Florida Wilderness,  we are promoting today?

Into the Florida Wilderness

Into the Florida Wilderness, Pioneer Life and medicine is based on fascinating first-hand accounts of life on the edge of civilization before Florida became a tourist and snowbird haven. The story is told in first person through the lively written diaries, photographs, and letters of three growing daughters of homeopathic doctors Mary and Louis Olds who lived on Marco Island from 1903 to 1920.  Dr. Mary and her family dropped out of Society and wrote about it, just as Al Seely, the hermit, would do 150 years later.  Mary followed her husband, the love of her life, with three little girls into the unknown backward civilization of primitive Florida. How do you survive in a place without roads, electricity, sewage, running water, hospitals, churches, or grocery stores. How do you preserve food without refrigeration? Wealthy and socially prominent northerners were attracted to their modest two-story home on the Marco River, becoming friends and sharing beach picnics and family suppers.  The girls took pictures with their camera and developed the film themselves…when they had ice! Names like Pinchot, Hornaday, Fielding, Dimock and Halderman float through the narratives like next-door neighbors.

 Dr. Mary’s challenge was to create a cultured home, and educate her daughters.

Betsy, I know the readers would love a little sample of your story.  Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to wet our appetite?

Mary writes to her Smith college classmates of 1884. (word count 831)

Marco Island, FL.

Oct. 25th, 1911

Dear Eight-Four: –

What a pleasure it is to hear from you once more! And what interesting letters you do write! It is a great delight to all our family to hear from you – and quite an education to our three country girls to touch so many phases of life through your rich and varied experiences.

Since I wrote you at Reunion in June 1910, the chief event in our history has been the great hurricane of Oct. 17, 1910 and its consequences.  During the whole summer following that June the country here seemed unusually prosperous: crops were most promising, both fruit and vegetables, for the fall and winter; and the tropical fruits of the summer were luxuriant in quantity and variety. We feasted on mangoes, guavas, sapodillas, sugar apples, avocados, etc. and then often felt little need of anything else except a little bread and butter.  Dr. Olds was greatly interested in propagating the finer varieties of mangoes, and had a beautiful nursery of young trees, and some fine specimens beginning to fruit, among them a fine Mulgoba, which proved to be as perfect and wondrous a fruit as it is claimed to be.  For the first time since we came to Florida, Dr. Olds began to feel that reasonably financial comfort was in sight. ‘But alas! Though we did not see winter as an enemy…“rough weather” did come- rougher than we had ever known.

We have often been on the edge of the great storms that have devastated Pensacola, Key West, Cuba, and other places within the sphere of influence of the Caribbean seas: but had always been fortunate in escaping with a gale tide, a high wind, and a day or two of hard rain but last year we were at the very center of the storm’s mischief. Five days it rained and blew-and when finally it seemed that the storm must be over, the very worst of it came on.  The rain did not fall down, it came horizontally, dashing at the house and forcing its way in at every horizontal crack.  Great sheets of salt water were swept up by the wind from the bay and dashed over the house. All day long we worked like Trojans, mopping up the water and trying to save our possessions from ruin. At dusk, the trees began to crash and break, and the rain poured in through the shattered roof in hopeless floods-.  Buckets did not avail to catch it- and it poured down through the second story floor to the ground floor where Dr. Olds bore holes for it to escape. It seemed every moment as if the whole roof must crash in, and we did not dare stay up stairs. Finding one dry corner we dumped the children there to try to sleep-but they could not, exhausted though they were by the day’s labors. Finally they arose, and tried to relieve the strain by playing Parcheesi! Dr. Olds and I were meanwhile going through some of the most anxious hours we had ever known. The tide the day before had gone lower than we had ever seen it before, almost baring the bottom of the bay, and Dr. Olds had known that this presaged an extraordinarily high tide on the return flood, and had felt all the time that we ought to escape to higher ground, than our own place afforded. But the wind was so terrific that none of our little boats could live in the angry waters as they rolled back.  Dr. Olds himself could not stand against the wind, and with trees crashing and timbers whirling through the air it seemed sure death to venture out of the house at all. By midnight our dock was swept away, the launch unroofed and sunk, the skiffs disappeared, palmetto trees torn up by the roots, the large sea grape tree in front of the house (the larger of the two trees in the photo) torn limb from limb until little more than a stump remained. No words can describe the force of those frightful gusts of wind as they beat against the poor little house – like a giant fish beating on a band box, like blows from a colossal club, each one harder than the last, getting worse, worse, incredibly worse, the house trembling and shaking, (flapping its wings: the children said), the kitchen roof rising and falling a foot or more with every gust, and each time it fell the stove pipe knocked against the stove with the weirdest sound!  Meanwhile the tide was rising a foot every five minutes, and we could see the water approaching the house.  The wind changed, and the chances were that storm and waves and wind would knock the house “all to smithereens,” as Dr. Olds said.

Go we must, but how?

Thanks Betsy. Readers, if you are interested in SW Florida history, you will love her books. Betsy’s website is www.CaxambasPublishing.com where you can see all of her books.

Posted in authors, books, characters, conflict, fiction, Indie, mysttery, novels, readers, real estate, womens fiction, writers, writing

“I took a timeout from being a real estate agent, got bored, and started killing people.”

I am so honored to have Nancy Jarvis with us today on Author Interview Friday. I can not wait to get my hands on The Widow’s Walk League. Nancy Lynn Jarvis was a Santa Cruz, California, Realtor for twenty-five years but decided she was having so much fun writing that it was time to retire as a Realtor.

After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, she worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News. A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager of Shakespeare/Santa Cruz.

Nancy’s work history reflects her philosophy: people should try something radically different every few years. Writing is her newest adventure.

She’s working on the next book in the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mystery Series after putting Regan, Tom, and Dave on hiatus to write Mags and the AARP Gang, a comedy/adventure about a group of octogenarian would-be bank robbers.

Joanne:  Nancy, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

Nancy:  I didn’t realize I wanted to write until I took a timeout from being a real estate agent, got bored, and started killing people. Maybe I better back up a bit. I’d been a Realtor in Santa Cruz, California since 1989 and had seen down markets with all their cruelty before, so when the real estate market tanked in 2008, I hung up my for sale signs and experimented with being retired. I got bored within a couple of weeks and decided, strictly as a game, to try and write a mystery.

I had the beginning and ending in mind and lots of stories I could use as background if I made the protagonist a real estate agent. I set the book in Santa Cruz since I knew the community so well. The protagonist, Regan McHenry, began her life as me, only younger, thinner, and more successful than I was. She didn’t stay me, though. Like a method actor who feels his role, I’m a method writer. Regan had to become her own person about the time she found a body because I couldn’t take being her any longer. I couldn’t keep up with her any longer, either. She’s much more daring than I am and eagerly gets herself into messes I would avoid.

Nancy Jarvis
Nancy Jarvis

Joanne:  As an active Realtor myself, I can relate to exactly what you are saying. But I am still plugging along – and I haven’t started killing people (yet), in my stories or otherwise. But someone (or two) always end up dead in my stories anyway. So tell us, do you always write in the same genre?

Nancy:  I don’t. I wrote three mysteries featuring Realtor and amateur sleuth Regan McHenry, but as I was finishing up The Widow’s Walk League, the fourth book in the series, this eighty three year old woman character started interrupting my concentration. She told me to put aside what I was writing and tell her story. The result was Mags and the AARP Gang written in first person, which is not how the mysteries are done. Mags as a one-off book, though, and I’m presently finishing the fifth mystery, “The Murder House.”

Joanne:  Love it. I’ve got to get it. The Widow’s Walk League. Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication?  How long did it take you to publish your fist manuscript?

Nancy:  As I said, writing began as a game for me. I wanted to see if I could begin with a premise and carry it logically to a conclusion. I assumed, once I did ― if I could ― that would be the beginning, middle, and end of my writing career. I finished the first book, “The Death Contingency,” and consigned it to a shelf in my office, but I’d had so much fun with it that I began the book I really wanted to write, “Backyard Bones,” which is a traditional mystery with lots of twists in the plot.

I had been “caught” writing “The Death Contingency” by a visiting friend, a woman who always wanted to be a writer. She was angry at me for attempting to write a book the way I was. She said I needed to take classes, find a mentor and a critique circle, and suffer for my art the way she had. I don’t suffer when I write; I love it, and told her so.

She called while I was in the midst of writing the second book. She had a terminal brain tumor and was dying. She said her big regret in life was that she had never seen her name in print. My husband and I threw together a little publishing company ― which was surprisingly easy to do ― and printed one-hundred books dedicated to Charlotte Bridges so she could have her wish.

I expected ninety-nine of them would live in the garage in perpetuity, but when we took a few to a local bookstore to see what would happen, they sold. We sold them all and ordered more. Then Amazon came along and then e-books. We’ve never looked back.

Joanne:  Ahh, that was so nice of you. What a great tribute to her. I love writing too but like Charlotte, I have had to “suffer” a little along the way. Are you a pantser or a planner?

Nancy:  It depends on the book. With Mags, I was definitely a panster. I just listened to the character I’d created speak and wrote down what she said. I didn’t know where the book was going at any point in it.

With the mysteries I have to have a timeline and an outline to keep on track, but I’m open to being flexible within that framework. In Backyard Bones, I deliberately decided to wait until I was about half way through it to decide which of two characters had committed the murder. It was easy to do because their alibis supported one another so either alibi could be broken by the other character. But when I got to the decision point, I realized neither was the killer, that the murder had been committed by another character.

When I went back to insert clues pointing at my new murderer, I discovered that they were already there. So, does that make me a panster or a planner, or merely someone as mislead by the killer as my protagonist was?

Joanne:  Maybe your are a “plantser”. LOL  What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

Nancy:   Santa Cruz husbands are being murdered.  The local news media is buzzing because a dark-clad figure witnesses describe as Death has been seen lurking nearby each time a murder is committed.

When new widows start hiring real estate agent Regan McHenry to sell their houses, she discovers all the murdered men have something in common: their wives belong to a walking group called The Widow’s Walk League.  No wonder Regan is worried when the group’s leader starts paying special attention to her husband, Tom.

Regan invites you to attend Woodies on the Wharf and go to a séance with her as adventures unfold and she tries to keep her husband safe in the fourth book in the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mystery Series. Her best friend, Dave Everett, Santa Cruz Police Community Relations Ombudsman, is back to lead a new cast of quirky characters and struggle with Regan’s amateur detecting.

Joanne:  Where can people go to buy your books?

Nancy:  Links follow for Amazon author page, Facebook page, and my website. If your readers would like a recipe for mysterious chocolate chip cookies that goes with the books, they can pick up a copy at the website. (You occasionally bake cookies at open houses to homey-up the house, don’t you?) They can also read opening chapters of all books at the website if they don’t have a Kindle that lets them.

http://www.amazon.com/Nancy-Lynn-Jarvis/e/B002CWX7IQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1379289376&sr=1-2-ent

https://www.facebook.com/ReganMcHenryRealEstateMysteries?ref=ts

http://www.goodreadmysteries.com/

Joanne:  Thank you so much for sharing. I am heading right to Amazon to get “Widows”   Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to wet out appetite?

Front-Cover-Nancy Lynn Jarvis

Regan has been invited to the séance by Tika, one of the widows, who hopes to contact her dead husband. She agrees to go, expecting to see a show put on by a con-man :

Regan might know the tricks; nevertheless, the show promised to be entertaining.

“Now let us all join hands and as a loving united body call upon our Charlie to come to us.” Sebastian closed his eyes and slowly swiveled his upper body in small circles.

Tika’s eyes were closed, as were Karen’s and Helen’s, but Linda, a fellow closeted skeptic, Regan guessed, was, like her, watching the performance.

Joyce’s eyes remained open, too, though probably because she was afraid Sebastian might actually raise the spirit of Charlie Smith.

“Come, Charlie, we are waiting for a sign from you.” Sebastian issued the invitation in a stage-worthy slightly wavering voice.

Joyce, who was holding Regan’s left hand, suddenly tightened her grip until Regan’s wedding ring became an instrument of torture. Sebastian’s polished invocation was interrupted by her chilling shriek. “Death!” Joyce screeched. “Death is here. He’s looking in at us!”

Regan followed Joyce’s terrified gaze, spinning her head toward the window. Death was indeed there, his bony face peering at them from its shroud through a haze of gauzy curtains, and though he dissolved a second later, she was certain she had seen him.

For an instant everyone at the table remained frozen in place, unable to speak or even release hands. Regan was the first to break their stupefaction. She bolted toward the living room and cleared the doorway before Sebastian, Linda, and Karen, all quick to their feet, collided there and jostled one another through the narrow opening. Tika, hoisting her skirt to move more quickly, came next. Even timid Joyce, still pale after her fright, and Helen, the last of the women to reach her feet, joined the rush.

Posted in authors, books, characters, editing, education, Indie, non-fiction, writing

Tell Me (How to Write) A Story by E.J. Runyon

E.J. Runyon, author of the story collection, Claiming One, and the writing guide, Tell Me (How to Write) A Story also runs  BridgetoStory.com a creative writing website. Her next book is a novel, A House Of Light And Stone  due Oct 2014, and the upcoming writing guide, Revision for Beginners, is due out in 2015.

Picture of EJ

Welcome E.J. It is a pleasure to have you on Author Interview Friday.  How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?

About 10 years, I’d say, collecting it all together. My short story collection got picked up the first place I sent it to. But the 17 stories had been written, edited, and polished since about 2001. That work led to Claiming One, being published in 2012 – by the first and only place I tried. They like me well enough that, Tell Me (How to Write) A Story was released next, and a novel will be out soon. Sara Jayne Slack’s baby, Inspired Quill, is a UK Social Enterprise program and that interested me much more than the idea of publication.

Book cover for EJ

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

I may try Indy publishing one day, but so far things are via Inspired Quill. Online I have a few personae, none of which use E.J. Runyon as a screen name. So my first connection with Sara, my publisher, was through one of these forum nom de plumes. She mentioned her new press. I sent off my submission, agentless, without mentioning that we knew each other online. She had no idea what my actual name was anyway. Would I have submitted if Inspired Quill hadn’t been a Social Enterprise concern? I doubt it.

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

(laughs) Read my latest book! No. I think you’ve got to put it all down first. Don’t spend all your energy polishing one scene or chapter. You’ll never get anywhere that way. No matter if you re-read and aren’t happy with it. Save the editing for when it all exists and you have an ending to consider. In Tell Me (How to Write) A Story I talk about highlighting what you want to edit, but holding off on the changes until you can look at a chapter or scene and see all those highlights. Knowing how often you do something– will help you stop doing it that way in the next scene you write. Editing means a writer is stepping back and seeing it all from a small distance; not cleaning up one step at a time.

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

Luckily, no. I’ve got no problem with hearing various voices in my own mind. Maybe there’s a bit of actress inside, willing to take on new roles. And I’ve studied the basic storytelling methods so that’s allowed me to stretch and try lots of different voices in my works.

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 deconstruct scenes from novels all the time. I’m famous for leading my coaching clients through doing that too. I’ve got whole classes on how to do a syntax deconstruction for bettering your own writing. There’s a section on that in my book too, you can follow how to do it step-by-step. Good strong syntax, when you recognize it, can be the road-signs to better writing. I try stealing as much as I can from writers whose way of saying things I admire.

Authors and publishers are always talking about finding your “Voice”. Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?

In 1996, it dawned on me that I’d made it to a place where my characters sounded like real people. The Narrator-voice I started with had receded to the background. I wasn’t using my words for telling, or explaining things to the reader. I think it was then that I realized ‘that way of writing’ was the storytelling ‘voice’ that people were talking about finding. Without that stilted sounding, overt describing, things began to sound right on the page for me. I knew I’d found it then.

Thank you for being with us today E.J. I am sure many people will want to log on to your creative writing website and look to your for some pointers. This writing business can be very frustrating and sometimes lonely. It helps to have someone like you in our “corner.”

Readers – here is how you find E. J. and her books

Tell Me (How to Write) A Story” Good, Basic Advice for Novices Ready To Write. By EJ Runyon

US: http://tinyurl.com/kkcfsjz    UK: http://tinyurl.com/kjon5ub

CA: http://tinyurl.com/klq7ls9    IN: http://tinyurl.com/lv8wnwh

Twitter: @TellMeHow2Write

Websites: Author site http://ej-runyon.com    Coaching site http://bridgetostory.com

Posted in authors, books, conflict, editing, favorite books, fiction, Indie, mysttery, novels, series, thrillers, writers

Rich Goldhaber talks about writing a series.

It is my great pleasure to have my first author of a series on my blog. Rich Goldhaber spent forty years in Research & Development in the medical product industry. He has leveraged his knowledge of science and Technology into a second career as a Mystery/Thriller writer. His five books, The Lawson Series feature his main characters; Dr. Sally Graff and Detective Dan Lawson.  Her skills as an emergency room physician, and his as an energetic detective, make them a modern-day Dr. Watson and Sherlock Homes. Trouble always seems to find this pair as they travel the world in pursuit of bad guys.

Rich Goldharbor
Rich Goldharber

Joanne:  From my limited understanding of a series, there are several formats it can work.

Spinoffs: A series of novels that take an existing minor character, setting, or concept from the first stand-alone story and create a new plot/situation for additional stand-alone stories. Spinoffs are very common in the Romance genre

Serials: A series of novels that follow one particular character throughout many different, mostly unconnected episodes. Each novel is self-contained and could be read as a stand-alone title, though each successive title reveals more about the continuing character(s). Serials are seen most often in Mystery/Suspense and Action/Adventure

Sequels: A series of novels that contain one continuing story in a finite number of volumes. While each volume has a beginning, middle, climax, and denouement, the main plot/conflict of the series continues throughout the series and finally comes to a climax and resolution in the final volume. This main plot/conflict must be introduced early in the beginning of the first book. Sequel series are most common in Science Fiction, Fantasy (just do a search for “trilogy” in the books section of amazon.com!), and Historical Fiction/Romance.

What style of series did you choose and why?

Rich: My five novels clearly fit into the serial classification.

the 26th   Stolen_Treasure_Cover_for_Kindle  vector cropped  succession plan_edited-1  risky behavior coveredited-1

Joanne:  Did you plan out all of your books ahead of time before you started to write your first book?  What was the process?

Rich: Halfway through the writing of my first book in the series “The 26th of June”, I realized that the characters deserved more than just one story to fully tell their stories.

Joanne:  When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

Rich: I am an avid reader. About six years ago I was reading a New York Times bestseller. I thought it was terrible. I said to myself, even I could write better than this. That was a challenge I couldn’t refuse.

Joanne:  How long did it take you to publish your fist manuscript? Also, did books two through five come faster?

Rich: Once I settled on going the self-publishing route, I began exploring various self-publishing companies. Create Space, an Amazon company seemed the best, and once that decision was made it took me only three months to see my first book in print. Now I’m an expert using Create Space, and once I finish formatting my text in Word, and creating a PDF for my cover using Photoshop, it only takes a week to get a proof of my new book.

Joanne:  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?

Rich: I tried going the classical route by trying to find a mainstream agent. It became clear to me after six months of trying that my query letters were for the most part not even being fully read. Feedback from my author friends indicated the general unhappiness of using second and third tier agents.

Joanne:  Do you think you have a distinctive “Voice” to your stories?  Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?

Rich: My technical background has allowed me to always have a credible technical aspect to my stories. Whether it’s about terrorists making a neutron bomb or a biological weapon, I like the reader to learn something new about a technical subject that they never explored. The trick is to do so without it appearing too much like schoolwork.

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

Rich: Being a technical person during my business career, I was skilled in writing technical papers. Technical writing, however, is heavy on nouns, verbs, and numbers. Adjectives, adverbs, and emotion are out of the question. As a writer of novels, I had to learn to write with emotion. Easier said than done for a technocrat.

Joanne: What advice would you give to new writers that think they want to write a series. What factors are important for them to know before  they start?

Rich: Write the first story and then decide whether the main characters are worth additional exploration.

Joanne: One of my favorite series writers, Randy Wayne White always brings us exciting new stories but as a fan, I have my favorite characters that I would be so disappointed if they were not included. Do you have a favorite character that is in all your books?

Rich: Of course the main characters are my favorite, but one minor character, Benny Cannon is always exciting to write about. He’s the super-geek working at the FBI. He’s like the character “M” in James Bond movies. He always has a technical gadget to help Dan and Sally solve a problem. Also, I position him as a weird dresser (e.g. one green sock and one red sock).

Joanne: Do you have anything new in the works? If so, is it another book in the series or are ever planning on writing a new, totally different series?

Rich: After five books with the same people, my next novel moves to a new set of characters. It’s called “The Cure” and involves a young engineer who begins working for a start-up company that has found the cure to cancer. Is it really a cure or are there others factors at play? If it’s too good to be true is it always too good to be true?

Joanne:  Where should readers go to purchase your books?

Rich: My books are available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. Book stores are also able to get this book through their normal distribution channels.

Joanne:  Can you share a few paragraphs from one of your book to wet out appetite?

Rich: The beginning of my second book “Succession Plan” follows:

I had been living with the guilt for almost a year. Disgrace began on the last day of my father’s life. I sat silently at the side of his bed in the nursing home waiting for what I knew was inevitable. As always, a potent cocktail of urine and Mr. Clean filled the air.

The special care facility where he had lived for the last six months was one of the finest in the city, but all of the Andrew Wyeth prints and brightly colored rooms could not alter one overriding fact. This place specialized in managing death. His cancer had slowly eaten away his self-esteem, and the frail man who now resided in what was once a fit athletic body, clung tenaciously to life.

He suddenly awoke, and his dark sunken eyes reached out to my inner soul. He searched for my hand, squeezed it tightly, and reminded me of my promise to take care of the ring. He then closed his eyes forever and left on his ultimate journey.

Tears welled up in my eyes. I bent over, kissed his forehead, held onto his now lifeless hand, and openly cried; not over his death, his passing had been a blessing. During the last six months, his life had been filled with miserable pain and suffering, dulled only by the increasing dose of prescribed narcotics. Instead, my tears were shed over his last words.

You see, the ring was the problem. He had given me the present on my eighth birthday.  The gift was bestowed along with one of his famous long rambling speeches, and as he held the cheap looking plastic gold colored object reverently in his hand, he explained it was an authentic Captain Video Secret Decoder Ring.  He wanted me to understand its true value lay far beyond its intrinsic worth. Rather, it was a symbol of the wonderful memories of his own childhood. Captain Video was a TV program from the early 50’s, and when my father was a young boy, he had used the ring to decode special messages from the Captain. Handing me the ring in front of the extended assembly of family and friends, he made me promise to save his most cherished possession and pass it on to my children when the time was right.

I didn’t know what to make of the gift or the ceremony, but I did hide the ring in the safest most secret spot I knew, a small shelf hidden from view behind a built-in bar in our basement.  To reach the special place, a person needed to crawl behind the bar and reach up inside a cabinet; a difficult set of physical maneuvers unless you were less than four feet tall and weighed under fifty pounds.

Posted in authors, characters, conflict, fiction, Indie, KIndle, love, romance, WFWA, writers

International Consultant and Author, Jerilyn Willin

Today on Author Interview Friday, I have Jerilyn Willin. She writes both fiction romance and non-fiction self-help books. Jerilyn is an international consultant, author, and speaker. She helps organizations and individuals discover their unique strengths, develop their talents, and deliver solid, more satisfying results.

Willinheadshot

Joanne:  Jerilyn, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

Jerilyn: I have been writing various things since high school. In fact my current novel, Unless A Love Be Free was born from a story I wrote as a high school senior. My college and grad school years saw me take a hiatus from writing for pleasure, but soon after graduating from grad school, I collaborated on a play for YA that was actually produced at a local Jr. High. Seeing my characters come alive on stage is what got me back on the track of writing for pleasure.

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

Jerilyn: I took some seminars at the Iowa Writer’s Festival in the early 2000’s. They really bolstered my confidence. I’ve also had seminars with Debra Dixon and Jennifer Greene.

Joanne: How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?

Jerilyn: Do you hear me laughing? In 2001 I signed with a NY agent and just as she was beginning to shop Unless A Love Be Free around, Sept 11 happened. All of NY (and the world) was in shock. Needless to say, nothing happened with my manuscript. In 2003, I received a breast cancer diagnosis and for a year I did nothing but work to get and stay well. When I got a clean bill of health, I worked to re-build my consulting business. In 2008, a colleague and I collaborated on a journaling/self-help book titled Deep, Deeper, Deeper Still. It is a “guided journey for people who journal”. We went directly to POD. The relative success of that book and what I learned when I joined a writer’s marketing group got me re-interested in having Unless A Love Be Free see the light of day. I decided to publish it via CreateSpace for paperback and as an ebook through Barnes and Noble (for Nook) and Kindle Direct Publishing. I started that process at the start of 2012 and Free came out in May 2012.

 Unless a Love Be Free

Joanne: 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 Indi publisher to a colleague?

Jerilyn: I would definitely recommend CreateSpace to a friend. I choose a professional to format and upload the manuscript for me. His name is Donnie Light. donnie.light@gmail.com He came highly recommended and lived up to his reputation. He formatted and uploaded both the paperback and the ebook. I chose the indie route because basically I was tired of rejections that said, “we love your story, but it is not right for our line.” It’s true that Unless A Love Be Free is not a typical romance. It is not set in England/Ireland/Scotland, and while the hero is noble, he is not a nobleman. Traditional publishers are skittish to go with something different than the tried and true. The writer’s marketing group I joined (www.author-author.org) opened my eyes to indie publishing. As a member of RWA I thought traditional publishing was the only way to go. Thank goodness groups like RWA are seeing that indie publishing is a viable alternative today. While it would be wonderful to be on the shelve of Barnes and Noble, I am “on the shelf” of amazon.com and bn.com and that is just fine.

Joanne:  Do you always write in the same genre?

Jerilyn:  In terms of fiction, yes. I love historic romance. As I said earlier, I have also written a non-fiction book.

Joanne:  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?

Jerrilyn: It would be in Romance area. I call it an historical romantic adventure.

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

Jerilyn: Right now I don’t have different stories.

Joanne:  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

Jerilyn:  One of the things that makes Unless A Love Be Free different is that the “prologue” and Part II of the book are set in the same time period. Part I takes place five years earlier. There are four point of view characters in Free: the hero, the heroine, the antagonist and the heroine’s best friend. When I change POV, the POV character gets the entire scene. I work hard not to head-hop.

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

Jerilyn:  I don’t use an outline. I am a seat of the pants writer. The hardest part for me is the synopsis. Yuck!

Joanne:  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?

Jerilyn:  Social media, signings. Had a few days of free books through Kindle. Literally thousands of people downloaded it. I was shocked. Hope they all read it. Wished most would have reviewed it on amazon! I travel a great deal for my job and confess that I leave bookmarks in magazines in the seat pocket.

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

Jerilyn:  Keep writing. NEVER say, “What makes me think I can write?” and don’t listen to people who say it. We all have stories inside us. One of my favorite quotes is “Most people go to their grave with their songs still in them”. Song or story…get it out there.

Joanne:  What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

Jerilyn:  That everyone deserves a second chance and many times we don’t give it to ourselves. Free is a story of redemption and love through self-acceptance.

Joanne: Where can readers go to buy your book and learn more about your writing.

Jerilyn:  I have a blog as mentioned below. I also have FB and amazon links below. The books are available at bn.com and amazon.com. If a reader would like an autographed copy, they can contact me at Jerilyn@speakerwritercoach.com. I add $3 to the cost of the book for postage.

FB:  https://www.facebook.com/SpeakerWriterCoach

Blog:  http://speakerwritercoach.wordpress.com

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0085OVXL8/?tag=mh0b-20&hvadid=1848399725&ref=pd_sl_6sy03nl53g_e

Joanne:  Thank you Jerilyn.  I am sure authors that are considering the Indie route will be very interested in your comments above.  I am sure that the romance buyers will want to get a sneak peak into your story. Can you share a few paragraphs from your book with us?

A “taste” of

Unless A Love Be Free

“Wait.” McKenzie closed the distance between them, laying a restraining hand on his arm. “Garrick, I…there is something I must say.”

Her look wrapped him in soft velvet, warm, rich. It got inside him, and set his blood racing. Did she know what she risked touching him like this, looking at him as she did? His defensives, already weakened, shook with the pounding of his heart.

She looked away, and he knew she was changing her mind, backing away from what she wanted. “Say it, McKenzie.”

“I realize circumstances might have been quite different these past weeks. I want you to know I’m grateful for…your honor and protection. You have nothing to fear from me, Garrick Stuart. Whatever happens, I won’t betray you. I know the man you are.”

Before he could stop, before he could warn himself that to act on his feelings would bring disaster, Garrick brought his lips to hers. To his amazement, she did not pull away. The havoc her response wreaked stunned him. Rocked by a surge of emotion, he could contain neither his will nor his words.

“There is something powerful between us. Do you feel it?”

“Since the day on the dock.”

She tilted her head and their lips met again. This time he kissed her as he hungered to, deep, long, filling his senses. His arms came around her and his heart missed a beat as her body melted into him. His loneliness and need poured forth. It was too much. As quickly as he embraced her, Garrick pulled away. He needed time to think, distance to clear his head. Ignoring the questions in her eyes, he left her standing in the circle of light.

Garrick didn’t stop until he reached the ledge just above the water mark. He crouched down, watching the incoming tide. The canoe fought the ropes securing it, battling to join the tide surging around it on all sides.

“Damn it all!” Garrick ran fingers through his hair in frustration. Caring about this woman was not in his plan.