Posted in authors, characters, love, novels, readers, romance, writers, writing

Everyone has a story to tell says Blueberry Falls author Annika Hansen

Blueberry Falls. Carol Kusnierek

Please help me welcome Annika Hansen to Author Interview Friday. It is a pleasure to have you with us today.  Before you became a novelist, what other work have you done, and how has it impacted your writing career?

I’ve been a proofreader for much of my adult life, beginning at the University of Chicago Press right after college.  Later, when I was working toward an MA in Drama, I proofread for American Bar Association publications, and as a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto I was a nightshift proofreader for Harlequin Enterprises—yes, THE Harlequin, romance super-publisher. We toiled in a high-rise office building with a big pink neon heart on the side. The offices were decorated with original cover art.  It was by far the most entertaining job I’ve ever had! All of us nightshifters were convinced that we could write a book as good as most of the stuff we were reading . . . and many of us were inspired to try.

Interesting. That must have given you very good insight into what the “Big Five” wanted, or didn’t want.  How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?

About a year after completion, my book was accepted by North Star Press, an indie publisher specializing in works set in or relevant to Minnesota.

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

Building the story.  I’m not a systematic writer; I don’t do outlines and I don’t necessarily know how the story will end.  I begin with a set of loosely-defined (age, gender, appearance) characters and a series of situations.  As the characters grow, develop their own personalities and begin to speak in their own voices, the situations also get fleshed out.  It’s a bit like being a stage director, giving the actors basic information about the characters they’re playing and watching them define their roles.  (Not for nothing was I a drama major!)

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

Just do it—tell your story.  Don’t wait for the magic bullet—one more class or one more bit of research that will make the whole thing fall into place. It really helps to do your first draft in longhand, on legal pads or in a notebook.  When you’re composing at the keyboard, it’s virtually impossible to restrain from editing as you go along.  Let me restate that, it IS impossible not to tweak and tinker, when it’s so easy to do so.  Write in longhand.  Let it flow, and get the story out.  Make marginal notes about things you might like to expand or change, but KEEP WRITING.

What is the premise of Blueberry Falls in Love?

St. Paul attorney Jessica Skoglund’s world came crashing down when she failed to protect her client from a murderous ex-boyfriend. When Jess learns that her late aunt has left her a derelict farm outside her hometown, Blueberry Falls, MN, she decides to leave the urban fast track for the slow lane of rural life, setting up a solo practice on the little town’s Main Street. She inevitably encounters her high school sweetheart, Cody Ouellette, now the county sheriff, who is grieving the loss of his fiancee in Iraq. The old spark between the two is rekindled, and their growing attachment is followed avidly by the townsfolk. When Jess’ client and friend, Lutheran pastor Mavis Tostensen, draws her into a dangerous situation involving the battered wife of Cody’s deputy, Cody must prove his courage and love for Jess while staying inside the bounds of the law he has sworn to uphold.

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

They turned down the road to the farmstead. Jess had left a single lamp on in the parlor, which glowed dimly and invitingly as they approached the house. Cody got out of the car and walked around to her side to open the door. She climbed out without protest, placing a hand on his arm to steady herself as she jumped down. When they stood in front of her door, she extended her hand shyly and formally.

“Cody, it’s been a lovely evening—”

 “Ah, crap, Jess!” Cody pulled her to him and kissed her fiercely.

They were both out of breath when he finally released her. He still held her by the shoulders. Her hands were on his chest.

 She laughed nervously. “Is this the part in the film where we tear off each other’s clothes and have wild, passionate sex?”

 ********

 She dialed 911 with trembling fingers and forced herself to speak calmly. “This is Jess Skoglund out on Niedermeyer Road. I’m reporting a break-in in progress—”

 “Bitch!” roared Randy, increasing his blows until he almost split the wood.

 “I know, hon,” Marlys responded. “Cody’s on his way. Hang in there.”

 Suddenly the hammering stopped. Goosebumps prickled Jess’s arms. “I’ll try.” She heard glass shattering in the kitchen. “Tell them to hurry!” With a wordless snarl, Randy crashed into the room, grabbing Jess’s shoulders and shaking her violently. The phone flew out of her hand. Randy’s face was purple, the veins popping in his neck. He slapped Jess hard across the face.

Do you have another manuscript in progress?  If so, can you tell us a little about it?

I’m currently at work on a sequel to Blueberry Falls in Love. The emphasis is on suspense, not romance. I’m introducing several new characters, although the central characters from the first book have a role to play in this book as well. A secret from long ago resurfaces to haunt the present, and creates a moral dilemma for both old and new characters. There are also several contemporary issues I’m hoping to work into the plot.

Where can readers buy your book?

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Blueberry-Falls-Love-Annika-Hansen/dp/0878397019/ref=la_B00HQMX4S0_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412089321&sr=1-1

Can you share a little from the  book?

Beth had known Josh since the first year of college. He was from Hutchinson, the town they later called home. She grew up in the cities, and wanted to get out of the busy, urbanized area. Beth had always felt trapped by the tall buildings and fast paced way of life. Both had attended many of the same general education classes, and the friendship grew into love. He proposed the week after graduation, and they got married the following April. Even at 23, she knew with him was where she was meant to be.

One thing that drew Beth to Josh was his willingness to help. It was no surprise to her that he desired to follow his dad’s footsteps and become a member of the Hutchinson Volunteer Fire Department.  He joined the spring before school was out, and commuted from Hutch to school every day. He didn’t want to miss any called and let his numbers slip. The fire department was a second family to him.  His best friend Petey, the brother he never had Josh always said, was the best man at their wedding.  It was a great source of friendship for both Josh and Beth.

They had been married 3 years when they started talking about having a baby. They were lying in bed tossing around ideas of what to name the future little one when Josh’s pager went off. He kissed her good-bye, and told Beth he loved her before grabbing his socks and getting his jeans on as he ran out the door. Beth caught part of the end of the page, hearing it was a car wreck on the main highway. Please keep the guys safe and get the people the help they need, she said in a quick little prayer. It became habit when she knew he was on a call.

A few minutes later, Beth heard the sirens. Their house was less than a mile from the fire hall, which usually resulted in Josh getting on the first rig to leave. About ten minutes later, there were more sirens. Car accidents meant at least one fire truck, the rescue rig, and an ambulance. She waited to hear the third set of sirens, and then got out of bed to get some things done. Josh wouldn’t be back for a while, longer if it was a really bad accident.

Beth worked on getting laundry done, cleaning the living room, and headed to their office in the half story of the house. The office was on the main level, and their room and a third room that was mainly used for storage in the top level. Beth went upstairs and stood at the doorway of the storage room, trying to picture what it would look like with a crib. They were ready to be parents. Josh would be a great father.

As the afternoon went on, Beth found herself cleaning the spare room. There were a lot of things kept in the room that could be moved to the basement already. She took a trip down memory lane as she flipped through photo albums of their wedding and honeymoon. Beth found a box in the garage and labeled it “Photos” before adding the albums and other pictures to it. She brought the box to the basement, along with a few other boxes.

As she came up the steps the last time, she took a look at the clock and decided to start making supper. Beth was filling a pot of water when she looked out the kitchen window and froze. The Hutchinson Fire Department car had just rolled up to the curb in front of their house. Petey got out, wearing a tired look. This couldn’t be good, Beth thought. He rubbed his face for a second, and then crossed the street and walked up to the door. The first knock on the door jarred Beth back to the present, and she turned off the water. Walking to the door, she knew Petey wouldn’t have shown up unless something had happened to Josh. She opened the door, and saw it was grim by the look in Petey’s eyes.

“Can I come in?” he asked her, leaning on the doorway.

“Sure.”

They walked into the living room, and Petey sat on the couch. Beth stood with her arms crossed.

“I think you should sit down, Beth.”

Beth let out the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding, and sat on the couch with Petey.

“What happened?” she asked, fearing the reason he was there.

“Do you know what the call was for?” Beth nodded yes, and Petey continued. “ We were out on 7 for a roll-over. The car was smashed so bad, but being the first crew on the scene, we were doing as much as we could to assess the victims’ conditions. Josh was on the driver’s side when a truck came barreling through our scene. The driver didn’t see Josh.” He put his head down in his hands. “He hit Josh.”

Beth didn’t notice the tears falling until they started hitting her arm. “Where’s Josh? I need to go see him.”

Petey looked up, his eyes also wet.

“He’s gone.”

Posted in authors, children, fiction, novels, publishing, readers, writers, writing

The Ghosted Bridge by Kristy Abbott

Kristy Abbott pic

Welcome Kristy,  When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

I’ve always had the desire to write.  I composed my first book in the second grade.

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

I have an undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California in Journalism and a Master of Professional Writing Fiction also from USC.  I am a working online content writer specializing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) content (such as blogs, website copy, social media messaging and eBooks) for companies in a wide variety of industries.

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

From start to finish 4 years.

Do you always write in the same genre?

Ha Ha!  No.  My first book was a novel – a ghost story set against the backdrop of Minnesota’s I35W Bridge collapse in 2007.  My second which has just debuted is a children’s picture book about a homeless cat searching for a name and a forever family – opposite ends of the spectrum!

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?

The Ghosted Bridge shows up on a number of shelves. Paranormal, fiction, I’ve even seen it in fantasy. Of course in Minnesota it also appears on local author shelves. You can even find it at the USC bookstore in the Alumni Authors section.
For Finding Home you’ll hopefully find it cover front out on a shelf in the Children’s section surrounded by loads of happy kids sitting on the floor with the book in their laps!”

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

Yes, both of my books were published by a small regional press.  I did many query letters to agents and publishing houses to no avail.  This publisher – North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc. – was looking specifically for Minnesota topics and Minnesota authors.  I scored on both fronts for both books.

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

I did try to change one of my books from 3rd person to 1st person after I read Angela’s Ashes but it didn’t work for my story.

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

I think the topic of Voice is quite interesting.  The main thing I know is that my writing voice is sometimes quite different from my out loud voice.  For me the writing lets the real Kristy Abbott come out to play without judgment.

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 actually write the type of structure I like to read and that means shifting back and forth between characters as the story progresses.  This includes jumping back and forth in time because I like to explore generational themes – i.e., the ghost in my book is actually the relative of someone living and both story lines happen concurrently. 

I purposely used this tactic to build suspense in The Ghosted Bridge and actually sped up the pacing of the character shifts to heighten the reader’s captivation as I got closer to the climax. I think it worked quite well.  Nearly every reader I’ve talked with brings that up and says, “You captured me.  I couldn’t put it down.”  I’m happy to have contributed to some sleepless nights!

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

A few things were difficult, the query process is very disheartening.  You feel like your work doesn’t warrant an agent or publisher’s interest when you send dozens of letters out without feedback.  However, I have learned that there are LOTS of small publishing houses that are looking for niche books so I don’t feel discouraged anymore.  I’d tell any hopeful writer to acquaint themselves with publishers who might be interested in your theme or subject.

I also found it challenging to make my characters believable.  It’s easy to have a strong picture of them when they live in your head but you’ve got to make them solid for readers, too.  My main character in The Ghosted Bridge is a psychic and I had to really believe that she had these gifts to make her real.  Interestingly, the psychic goes through the book questioning her own abilities and is validated at the end. 

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?

Well this is the biggest thing I’ve learned about having a book published.  It doesn’t matter who you are, when you become an author, the hard work is just beginning.  I wrote a post on my blog called, Get out Of Your Longsuffering Writer’s Chair, You Are an Author Now, about the transition from being a writer to being an author.  The writer is the artist who creates the work, the author is the marketer who sells it. 

Today’s authors have to be committed to a nearly full-time effort toward marketing.  You’ve got to have a website, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a Goodreads and Amazon profile, and a big email list.  I am good at some things and not so much at others but I’m doing everything I can think of – including getting television, radio and print interviews to get the word out about my books.

Are you a pantser or a planner?

I think I am a combination.  In terms of marketing, I go in stints and try to stay committed for the long haul.  In terms of writing, I let the story come out when it wants to.

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

I say allow the story to be born without judgment.  I have author friends who write a few pages, maybe a chapter and then they go back and edit it before moving forward.  I feel like this completely stalls my process.  I don’t allow the editing policeman in the room until I’m pretty sure the characters are done telling their tale.

What is the biggest thing you didn’t know about being an author?

I never realized how terrifying it can be to do a book signing with the prospect of no one showing up.  We’ve all had to do events at independent book stores or Barnes & Nobles never knowing if the advanced preparation of getting the word out worked.  On those days it didn’t it can be discouraging but as an author you can’t let that derail you.

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

I’m encouraging people to check out both of my books.  My novel, The Ghosted Bridge, is a fun paranormal mystery for adults.  The children’s book, Finding Home, is the heartwarming tale of second chances for lucky creatures for kids of all ages.

Ghosted Bridge Cover_The Ghosted Bridge Layout 1

Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to wet our appetite?

Attached chapter from The Ghosted Bridge.  In these paragraphs, Sedona psychic Madison Morgan is visited by a mysterious ghost for the first time, setting off a search to determine who the ghost is and what she’s trying to communicate.

 

Madison didn’t notice it at first.  The psychic was having so many readings a day that her tablet pages covered with numbers were filling up fast.  She made a note to go to the office supply store and get another.  She looked at her watch and then contemplated the rest of the day, one more reading, and then off to yoga at 5:30.  The phone rang.

“Yup, I’m coming.”  She told the perpetually crabby Miriam.  As she trotted down the stairs she realized that the heaviness that had been hanging around her had lifted a bit.  Mercury was leaving retrograde, she guessed.

Fifteen minutes later she was just warming up her new client (an eight of diamonds – business expertise extraordinaire) in a session on opportunities coming down the pike, when a peculiar vibration filled the room.  Immediately, Madison’s hands went cold and her hair stood on end, but she was so intent on the young woman in front of her that for a minute, she didn’t even see the older woman standing in the corner.  With the ghost’s entrance, she got a stronger shiver that told her someone from the other side was about and she lifted her eyes to meet the measured grey stare from the woman by the door.

“Holy shit,” Madison squeaked.

“What?”  The young woman sat up straight in her chair.

“Nothing, just, just…shut up for a minute.”

The girl sat back quickly with a look of shock.

Madison turned her attention to the woman in the corner.  She looked older and was dressed in a plain pastel dress.  The woman’s skin shimmered as her visible molecules filled the space where she stood.  Madison sat fascinated.  She knew from experience that these people didn’t typically speak in words. In fact, they rarely made themselves seen.   They used pictures instead.  This woman’s ability to crystallize impressed her.

The ghost stood in the corner silently.  Madison realized that this amount of energy was a huge effort.  She whispered softly to the woman.

“You have a word for this girl?”  Madison pointed at the silent girl whose face still registered confusion.  The girl looked over her left shoulder.  Seeing nothing, she looked back to Madison, eyes wider than before.

The woman gave no trace of response.  Madison tried again.  “You need something from this girl?”  The woman’s quiet presence entranced her.

“Is your mother still alive?”  Madison asked the girl quietly.

“Yes.”

“Grandmothers?”

“Yes.”  The girl was brimming with prickling curiosity.  “Is there somebody here?”

Of course there is somebody here, Madison’s internal dialog snapped.  What are you an idiot?  Do you think I’m making this up?  But the voice that left her lips was soft and gentle.  “Yes, we have a visitor here.  Do you know an older woman who has passed?”

The girl brought a ragged fingernail to her mouth and began furiously chewing.

Madison breathed deeply and spoke from inside herself.  “Who are you here for?”  It seemed as though the presence would not respond but then ever so faintly, the woman moved her head slightly toward the door.  It was a subtle gesture but one that effectively told Madison this visitor wasn’t attached to the girl in the chair.

“I can’t think of…I don’t really know anybody….”

“That’s ok.” Madison cut her off.  “Just remember it.  Maybe it will come to you later.”

“Oh, ok.”

Madison looked back at the door.  The corner was empty.  She felt unbearably tired all of a sudden.  This typically happened when spirits spent that much effort to connect with her.  It was as if they tapped her energy to create a link.  She felt the weariness settle about her shoulders.  She passed her hand across her face and turned her attention back to the reading. A familiar tingle rose behind her eyes.  The sensation was a sign she’d get when she realized a heightened sensory connection.  She hadn’t felt this way in a long time.  It took nearly all her concentration to finish the reading.

 

Thank you, Kristy, for being one Writing Under Fire’s Author Interview Friday.  Where can readers go to buy your books?

My website: www.KristyAbbott.com where you can read more about me, purchase my books and leave comments. I encourage you to check it out.

 

 

 

Posted in authors, musician, pianist, readers, Taichi, writers

Marc Meyer presents Taichi, The Story of a Chinese Master in America

Marc Meyer pic       cover Taichi book Marc Meyer

Please help me welcome Marc Meyer to Author interview Friday.  Marc is a professional pianist who has worked with prominent jazz and pop musicians throughout the industry. He is also a T’ai Chi instructor and writer who has diligently pursued the dream of having his first novel, ” Taichi: The Story of a Chinese Master in America.” published in 2014. With the help and support of his publisher, family and friends this dream has become a reality. As an ongoing project Marc continues to write short stories and book manuscripts dealing with a wide variety of topics. He hopes the successful launch of this book will not only help him to establish his place in the literary world but also enable him to give back a portion of the gifts he has received through his involvement with Chinese martial arts for almost two decades. Marc’s home for the past twenty years has been in Naples, Florida where he makes his living as a pianist and teaching T’ai Chi to residential communities.

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

In the beginning my intention was not to become a writer but just to see if I enjoyed the process of writing. I started a detective novel in the late 80’s and gave up after a few pages. Even with this rocky start I was hooked and knew that it was something I would be coming back to in time. It wasn’t until Christmas of 2004 that I once again decided to try my hand at writing and because I had been fidgeting until the last minute trying to decide what presents to send family members for Christmas. I managed to dash off five short stories, each about two pages long, which I made copies of, wrapped in a cone shape with a ribbon and sent out as a substitutes for presents. The maximum reaction I hoped for was that they might think it was cute or perhaps just a sweet idea and I would have been completely satisfied with that. Little did I expect the overwhelming reaction I got to these stories not only from family members but friends to whom they were shown. I never heard the end of it and to this day I still get comments about those stories whenever I see anyone who’s read them. They have yet to be published. It was that same year I decided to attempt a novel dealing with a subject that I really cared about. I was a slow start, getting ideas while I was in the shower mostly, then toweling off and racing to my computer hopefully in time to capture the ideas before I forgot them. That started me off on a path to writing my first book.

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

Getting my first manuscript published has admittedly been a long and involved struggle with many roadblocks thrown in my path from the start. Just as an example a friend of mine and I set out to publish our first books at the same time. I attended a writers conference in which the main speaker, a publisher, went on and on for an hour about how difficult it was for writers to get published and how fewer than one percent actually do. An extremely discouraging talk. After he’d finished I decided to approach him with a synopsis. He shrugged it off. I left and called up my friend asking him to come down and give it a try though I felt it would probably result in a dead-end for us both. Unbeknownst to me, until a about two months later, my friend  told me he came down and walked out of the same conference 30 minutes later with a book deal from the same publisher I talked to!

Ouch! How did you feel about that?

I was devastated but it would be the first of many lessons I was about to learn in the book publishing business. My book languished through various subsidy publishers I decided not to accept for various reasons for about eight years and close to 100 rejections.  ( This is usually the point at which most aspiring authors give up). Finally a Canadian publisher came to my rescue, or so I thought, about a year ago. Subsequently after agreeing to publish my book, the publisher, having been in business for the previous eight years, suddenly and inexplicably closed their doors after I had been up on the retail sites for a week and a publicist had already begun the process of sending out press releases!

Oh no, not another set back!

Yes, yet another blow, which would set back the career I envisioned for myself for another heartbreaking year. I finally decided to go with a subsidy publisher I had heard about with the best reputation I could find and do what I could to get my book back up on the retail sites as soon as possible. Armed with a new eye catching book cover, a couple of great reviews and my book once again featured on the main retail sites I’m at it again and hoping for the best.

As an author myself, I can feel your pain. But now that you are over that hump, let’s hope for nothing but good things from here  on.

What other work have you done, and how has it affected your writing career?

I’ve been a successful professional pianist with a career spanning 39 years.I toured with the famous soul group “Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose” who had chart topping hits such as “It’s Too Late To Turn Back Now” and “Treat Her Like A Lady”, recorded with members of the outstanding jazz group “Spyro Gyra” in the early 80’s and received acclaim from music producers Van Dyke Parks and Quincy Jones. I have been involved with the arts all my life, was a competent sketch artist in my younger days and writing just seemed like another natural extension for me.

Do you have any special time or place you like to write?

I’ve read about many so called “purist” authors with well known names who use legal pads to write. I started this way too but eventually all the erasing and crossing out got to me. Now I write on my word processor with a cup of coffee as the sun comes up until no later than noon, even though sometimes I’ll continue until two in the afternoon without even realizing it. The I use the standard 12 point Times Roman type and I’m always pleased with the result as it ends up looks like a book page when I’m finished instead of a bunch of scribbling.

Tell us about “Taichi: The Story of a Chinese Master in America” in two sentences

My first published book is a family story based around the nucleus of the art of T’ai Chi Chuan. A famous T’ai Chi master immigrates from Taiwan to New York City in the mid- 1960’s to start a T’ai Chi School and reconnect with his Asian American family in Chinatown.

Do you have another manuscript in progress?  If so, can you tell us a little about it?

I’m currently working on three additional manuscripts at the same time. The first is a memoir called “Xpat” which is based around my adventures growing up in Europe and attending school overseas as a child before my family moved me to the U.S.at fourteen. I’m very excited about the other two manuscripts and unfortunately unable to give anything away about them at this point but hope my first book will provide you with enough intrigue to continue enjoying me as an author throughout the continuation of my career.

Thank you Marc. Where can readers buy your book?

My book Is currently available on the following retail sites under the title “Taichi: The Story of a Chinese Master in America.”:

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Marc-Meyer/e/B00JW41ZFO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/taichi-marc-meyer/1119321692?ean=9781632631046

ITunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/taichi-story-chinese-master/id873958595

my publisher,Booklocker: http://booklocker.com/books/7399.html

Please check out Amazon. com for reviews.

 

Posted in authors, books, family, funny, humor, old, old fart, readers, writing

CHANGING TIMES: RAMBLINGS OF AN OLD FART

Marsha Gordon

 Marsha Gordon;  “Let me tell you at the outset: It is exceedingly difficult to be a female old fart. Men old farts are thought of as funny. They are respected for their skewed humor, although sarcastic and uncomplimentary. Women old farts have a similar message, but are considered un-ladylike. I love being an old fart, even though sometimes it embarrasses my children”.

 

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

It was a couple of years after World War II. Patriotism was at a high in the United States and there was great pride in being an American.

I was in junior high school when I discovered I wanted to write. The last question on an English exam was to write 250 words about how it felt to be an American. I wrote a paper about flag-waving, and marching bands in small town parades. Then I added baseball and Girl Scouts.

I wrote 300 words!

The teacher sent my work to the local newspaper. They printed it on the front page. I was asked to read it at a high school assembly, some churches and the synagogue. The attention was head spinning.

I knew then that I wanted to be a writer, forever.

I knew I didn’t want to write “stories”. Remember, this was just after the “War to end all Wars”. There were women in the military, the Civil Rights movement was stirring, and the airplane was replacing the train for just plain folk. I wanted to write about real life – and I still do.

Changing Times front Marsha Gordon

 

What is the theme of CHANGING TIMES: RAMBLINGS OF AN OLD FART?  Does it fit your criteria of writing about ‘real life’?

CHANGING TIMES: RAMBLINGS OF AN OLD FART is about change, yesterday and today. And how people react to change personal, local, national and international. There are many laughs in the book, some surprises, and maybe a tear or two. One reviewer said, “It is like eating bon bons. I never know where the next story will take me.”  Though I call them ‘stories’, they actually happened, in the past or now. CHANGING TIMES: RAMBLINGS OF AN OLD FART is definitely non-fiction. The book appeals to all ages. It makes a great gift.

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

As a non-fiction author, I usually attempt NOT to show my POV. My goal is to impart information, not to cajole the reader into agreeing with me. I have recently written two articles: one was about legalizing medical marijuana, the other about powdered alcohol. In these, I did not show my bias.

However, the essays in CHANGING TIMES: RAMBLINGS OF AN OLD FART are not informational. I put them together for entertainment. They are fun to write and fun to read. “The short essays and large print make this an easy take-along read,” says another reviewer.

What advice would you give to new writers?

I think the advice is the same for fiction and non-fiction writers.

1. Keep writing. If you are having a severe case of writer’s block, stay right in that chair and write gibberish, or nursery rhymes OR, the best, is to free-write. You will soon find you are back where you want to be, in your story.

2. Stop writing for lunch or for the day when you are at a GOOD spot, not BAD. When you come back to work, it will be so much easier for you to find your groove.

3. Having trouble getting started on a new novel?  Start your story with an action point from the middle of your story. The exposition will occur as you are writing. This will make your reader more interested and curious.

4. Believe in your talent, keep writing and Good Luck.

 

WRITING SAMPLE

BUILT-IN OBSOLESCENCE

Warning: Products manufactured today  may have a predetermined life span

My computer stopped working last week. Not a warning, not a gasp, not a sigh; it just died. I punched all the keys. Not even a flutter. I called my son-in-law, who knows about these things.  Rick tried everything he knew but could not bring it back.

“What about my files, Rick?”

“I don’t know, Mom. We’ll have to wait and see.”

My files may be gone?

Rick saw the horror on my face and tried to cheer me up. “You’ve had this computer at least five          years! That’s a long time.”

Five years? A long time? Rick is telling me, born smack in the middle of the Great Depression, how long things  should last? That five years is a good life for a computer?

Now I would need to purchase a “bigger, better, newer” one at a higher cost. And it would have a different program I’d have to learn. Would people buy new cars if they had to learn to drive all over again? The “old” computer was headed for the dump. Oops… I mean the politically correct “landfill.”

In the years after the Depression, people were cautious with what they threw in the trash.  Nothing was ever discarded. If something broke, there was always someone who could fix it. Remember Mr. Bob? His shop was just down the hill. He fixed irons and toasters and radios, usually for fifty cents.  He wouldn’t be able to stay in business today. We throw everything away.

There were no single-service items such as paper towels, paper napkins, paper cups, and on and on. Only when people had a little more discretionary income did disposable products hit the shelves. People began buying, rolled paper towels, tissues… Our landfills are full and our air and water are foul.

Now I have the use of a brand new laptop. The piece I was writing is gone! It disappeared. We looked everywhere and finally found a bit of it in the recycle bin. How did it get there? I didn’t put it there. Or did I? Did I hit the wrong key? Which one?

I don’t like all these new machines that are supposed to help us: the washer, the dryer, the microwave, the copier, the scanner. They are not loyal. Each time one of them breaks down I feel somewhat responsible and ungrateful. I also get unreasonably angry.

Just give me an old typewriter and a clothesline.

website:  msfart.com

 

Posted in 2014, 80's, dating, friends, funny, guy, help, parents, readers, romance, rules, technology, writing

9 Ways Dating Has Changed In The Thirty Years I Have Been Away

candy 2013

Candy Cooper McDowall

This is a Facebook post from my daughter that I wish to share with you (with her permission).  I am sure you will love it as much as I did. No author/writer lessons here today or  Author Interview. But I think you will find some wisdom and humor.

posted August 22, 2014 at 4:51pm

When I was a teenager, my father told me I was not allowed to date until I was 16. Yes, you read that right. 16. That’s not to say I didn’t hit the occasional basketball game with a “friend” or double-date for the movies (that we walked to). But for a legitimate date, one that involved alone time between me and A BOY, I had to wait until that magical age of teen maturity. Sweet 16.

I remember pretty distinctly sitting at the dinner table telling my dad that I had been asked out for my first date, and having to ask his permission to go. He tried to be funny. He failed. I will leave the out the details.

However, this was 1982 or thereabouts. There were rules. Some of them were imposed by my dad. Some were just, you know, how it was done. But there were guidelines we pretty much all knew ahead of time. It never occurred to me they might be variable. They just… were. Which, I suppose, was fairly naïve considering dating in the 8Os was not very much like dating in the 50s, which is equally not like dating in the 20s. Still, these were the times I knew, along with the rest of my contemporaries. We were trying to act all grownup in our awkward bodies with our rampant hormones and having no idea what we were doing, guessing at societal norms in order to know how to proceed. Whether we followed them or not is not the point. They were there.

Fast forward 30 years…or so…

Stepping back out into the world of dating as a single woman in her 40s, with almost grown children watching, has been daunting. I’ve changed. The world has changed. But the one thing I did not expect is that DATING HAS CHANGED. Caught me totally off guard with that one.

I was scared enough as it is, with my previously unscarred heart now battered and slightly bruised. But at least, I thought, this time I had experience. This time, I knew what was coming. This time, I am all grown up in my not-too-shabby-for-my-age body, possibly with some raging hormones (which are likely menopausal), having some idea of what I am doing, because this time I KNOW the societal norms that tell me how to proceed. Whether I follow them or not is not the point. THIS TIME at least I know the rules.

Hah. Ahaha. Ahahahahahahaha!  WRONG.

I give you…online dating.

If you had said the words “online dating”  in the 80s we would have wondered what laundry had to do with your love life.

And so at this time, I would like to enumerate for you lucky souls who are NOT negotiating this newly-laid digital landmine, or maybe those of you who are jumping into those waters again, what is it like to be a teenager of the 80s dating in this new millenium. For those of you already doing it, high five for bravery.

80s Rule #1 – If a boy asks you out, he probably likes you.

I mean, he had to get up the nerve, look you in the eye (or write you a note), get made fun of by his friends, and then wait nervously for you to say yes. You don’t do all that for somebody you aren’t really interested in. It’s too nerve-wracking.

2014 Version – If you see a picture of someone you find interesting, and he sees yours, you might start a conversation. You will probably be emailing or texting for awhile. This might lead him to ask if you possibly want to get coffee or something. Maybe. He might just flirt. Or be cautiously distant so that you aren’t sure if he is interested or just bored from sitting home alone. And then right about the time YOU are ready to ask HIM if he wants to get coffee or something, because, you know, you are a modern confident woman and he already said he likes coffee, he will suddenly disappear and delete his profile. Likely in the middle of the conversation you were having and probably right after he just asked you out for that coffee.

80s Rule #2 – Your date must pick you up at the door.

There was no way in hell my father was going to miss out on the chance to terrorize any potential suitor of mine, even while being polite. I think it was the smile that threw them off. The anticipation of meeting The Father was likely much worse than the experience of meeting The Father himself.

2014 Version – Your date must not know where you live for a very long time.

It’s very possible you don’t have a good idea of what your date really looks like, since those pics he uploaded were from when he still had hair. (Side note: Beware the naked bathroom selfie. That would have gotten you arrested in 1982.) And since you are a single woman now, probably alone in the house in the primping hours prior to any first date, for safety’s sake, a new guy can’t get within 100 yards of you without a room full of caffeinated strangers, who may or may not be looking up when you walk in, but could at least call 911 if they heard screaming.

80s Rule #3 – Your date pays for dinner.

His dad probably slipped him a 20 on the way out the door, and reminded him to tip the waiter.

2014 Version – You get there early enough to buy your own coffee so there is no awkward reaching for your wallet as he reaches for his, not knowing if he really wants to buy your coffee or just feels socially obligated. Or he buys his own coffee and leaves you standing there feeling like a dolt for assuming those were together.

80s Rule #4 – If it is a nice date, he might ask you out again before the night is over.

I mean, you like each other. It was fun. Why not?

2014 Version – If it is a nice date, he will likely wait until he gets home, and then text or email you a day or two (or 5) later to see if you would like to go out again.

I had a guy say to me in all honesty, “I never ask a woman out for a second date while we are still on the first date, because then it avoids the whole awkward refusal thing.” Because truthfully, the chance of being turned down for the second date is much higher when you don’t know each other to begin with. I can’t exactly fault the guy. So you might be waiting for awhile for that second request. Or it might not be coming at all. Hard to say.

80s Rule #5 – If it is a nice date, there might be a goodnight kiss.

There might not, if one or both of you is shy. But there was little chance of more happening on that first date than a bit of awkward groping in the driveway. Not to say that more wouldn’t happen later, but much first date action was unlikely.

2014 Version – You have to state in writing on a public forum whether or not you are willing to have sex on a first date.

I wish I was joking.

80s Rule #6 – Once you are a couple, it is ok to slide across the bench seat and sit next to him while he is driving.

2014 Version – First, you probably aren’t even in his car for awhile. See Rule #2. But if you have made it that far, the bench seat is long gone. The best you can do is try to hold hands over the console between the bucket seats and hope you don’t lose feeling in your wrist.

80s Rule #7 – If your friends like him, he’s probably ok.

2014 Version – If he’s ok, your friends might like him. But not necessarily.

80s Rule #8 – If things don’t work out, there is probably an emotional breakup in person, but if he’s a real heel, it might be over the phone.

But if he did that.. COWARD! Couldn’t even look you in the eye. (spit) And then all your friends and family get to say mean things about him, and he wasn’t worth your time anyway.

2014 Version – If things don’t work out, a text message is a convenient and efficient way to get out of a potential relationship without having to bear witness to the other person’s heart breaking right in front of you.

But then, all your friends and family get to say mean things about him, and he wasn’t worth your time anyway.

Some things don’t change that much at all.

80s Rule #9 – If it all goes well, you gaze happily into each other’s eyes, put your picture in the newspaper, and start planning that over-the-top wedding with the giant cake and people from your dad’s office you’ve never met.

2014 Version – If all goes well, you slowly introduce each other to your respective children, quietly move in together one dresser drawer at a time, and maybe sneak off in a private little ceremony to tie the knot at some point. But not necessarily. Let’s not move too fast here.

Wish me luck. At least now I know the rules.

Candy Cooper McDowall ©2014

 

Posted in books, characters, editing, fiction, purpose, readers, thanks, womens fiction, writers, writing

The Writing Process Blog Tour

Thanks to Patty Campbell for inviting me to be a part of the “Writing Process Blog Tour.   Reaching her goal to be published by a royalty paying publisher, Jelly’s Big Night Out, was released in 2012, and Once a Marine was released in late 2013. And that’s just the beginning. Her newest novel Still a Marine will be released soon. To check out her answers to these four questions, go to

http://pattycampbellauthor.blogspot.com

PattyWebsitephoto

My answers to the four questions:

1.  What am I working on?

My current work in progress is now in the final draft stage where we authors bury ourselves behind closed doors to edit, kill our darlings and tighten saggy middles. The premise of my novel, Re-homing Pigeon is about a Louisiana woman who wants to be a mother more than anything in the world. The problem?  She believes she has a Voo-Doo curse. Still her husband talks her into adopting a child from Russia. Things don’t go well and they have to make the decision whether to give the child up through disruption – commonly called “re-homing”.  That’s all I am willing to give away at this time.  No spoiler alerts.

2.  How does my work differ from others in the genre?

That’s a big one. I write women’s fiction. At a glance I fit into the typical mold for women’s fiction – a woman protagonist that experiences an emotional, spiritual or psychological journey. Where I stray from the norm is the subject matter. I always write about controversial, current day issues that force the reader to question what they thought they knew about a subject.

3.  Why do I write what I do?

First, I have to say that I don’t write to change anyone’s mind. But I do write to make people aware that sometimes (usually) there are two sides to a story and before you start to judge someone, walk a mile in their footsteps.  More or less, life is messy and it takes tough decisions.

4.  How does my individual writing process work?

I usually get my ideas  from watching the news. Then it stews around in my head for awhile to morph into a story.  I start by writing a character sketch for the major characters and a time line. Then I work on a very basic outline.

Once I start writing, the characters take over and  it always makes some detours. My outline goes through many revisions in the process. I spend a lot of time on research, trying to stay as accurate as possible about my subject matter. There is nothing worse than reading a book and thinking, “This author has no idea what she is talking about.”

Some stores fall flat on their faces. Others make it to final drafts and so far, two have made it to publication.

Want to know more about my books? Log on to my website.  http://www.joannetailele.com 

Lg cover from Creat Space      Town Without  Mercy 2.27.14

 

Posted in authors, books, poetry, purpose, readers, support, writers, writing

The Life of a Poet – Thomas Noel Smith

Thomas Noel ,

Joanne:  Welcome Tom Noel Smith to Author Interview Friday.  Tell us a little about yourself.

Tom:  I am interested in promoting my book anywhere I can. I am a local Florida writer—Arcadia—I have written three books of poetry.  “’Dust’ and Other Poems,” “Words of the Times,” and “Impressions and Memories.”  “Impressions and Memories” has just recently been published.  I have also written several short stores,  not yet  published.  I am currently working on my fourth book of poetry as  well as two short stories.

Dust  Words of TimesImpressions and Memories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joanne: It is a pleasure to have you with us today. Do you have a background in writing or did you take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

Tom:  I have a degree in English and a degree in Theatre.  Speaking strictly as an English major, I found myself fascinated by literary works of all genres.  In poetry I was fascinated by the works of such writers as Andrew Marvel, Matthew Arnold,  Longfellow, Emily Dickinson.  Of course I was enthralled by the master, Shakespeare.  I studied their words and listened to the rhythms of each piece.  It was like a grand symphony—words and rhythm, all working together to weave a wondrous spell on the mind, the heart, and the spirit. Yes, poetry touched me in that way and I wanted to be able to write with command of words and rhythm and music.

In terms of writing I was swept away by such writers as Dickens and Conrad.  I was fascinated by the works of Twain and Cooper, and even contemporary writers such as Pat Conroy fired my imagination.

But my background…I suppose life’s experiences demanded that I listen and hear and feel.  I spent the early years of my childhood in France, Germany, and England.  I lived in a number of states and I guess that the knowledge that we would be moving about every 18 months (or every 3 years, if we were lucky) taught me about the instability of the world around me, and that in itself must have sparked  the creative demon that came to live within me.  I suppose all of that guided my steps toward writing.

Joanne:  I think life’s experience can sometimes be our biggest inspiration.  You know the old saying, that truth is stranger than fiction. What other work have you done and how has it impacted your writing career?

Tom:  I began my experiences as a magician.  I did stage shows, close-up magic, mentalism.  I have worked in professional theatre.  I went to Ringling Brothers Clown College and travelled with a small, one ring circus for two years. I was a professional clown, I also did magic in the show.  I taught Theatre in the public schools, but I gave up teaching and went back to my first love—acting.  I now work as a film actor in Florida.

How has this impacted my writing?  I think that it is rare that any individual gets to experience so many different phases and faces; smiling faces, young faces, old faces, care-worn faces.  How can all these work experiences not impact my writing?  Just being an active part of life and all its experiences—all this must impact the manner in which one writes and the subjects about which he writes.

Joanne:  A magician, that is interesting.  Do you have any special time or place you like to write?

Tom:  Yes. I do have a special time.  I like to write late at night when all the world is sleeping.  The air is still.  There is a quiet that I may not find during the earlier hours.  I go into my office and I write for hours.

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

Tom:  I think that our “voice” is always within us, just begging for the chance to free itself and find its way onto our pages.  Finding a voice, for me, is akin to listening to a melodic sound and then humming what’s within one’s head.  For me, it means casting away one’s inhibitions and allowing the passion that burns inside to have a vent, a way to express itself.  It means to me, that one must give himself permission to be himself.

I went to a poetry conference not too long ago, and there were poets who were telling me that I did not write in the modern style or the style that was accepted by the contemporary world.  At first I felt dejected. I felt as if I didn’t have any talent.  However, there was something within that telling me that if I heeded all those voices, I would not be true to myself. I would not be an individual poet.  I remember they kept asking me rather contemptuously if I just wanted to write for myself.  I took this as a rebuke.  Then I found myself.  Yes, I want to write for myself. If I am not pleased with my words how can I expect any reader to be pleased?  But I am writing with my own voice not someone else’s.  The key to finding one’s voice is to remember the words: “And this above all: to think own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Joanne:  I can’t agree with you more. First, we must write for ourselves, before our voice can be heard by the masses.  What inspires you to write when you’re feeling down or less confident than usual?

Tom:  This is the time the I do my best writing.  I don’t know why but when I close myself off and I begin to write and the words seem to come more easily, and I often surprise myself at what happens in those dark hours when I am down or upset.

Joanne: Why do you write?

Tom:  Why does the sun rise each morning? Why do we pursue dreams that could easily be deemed foolish.  I write because there is that within me that I cannot explain. The words must come out.  They aren’t always intelligent words, sometimes the words weave nonsensical tales, but all those words are a part of me and they beg for release.  I would be miserable if I did not write.  Isn’t acting enough?  Acting is a very concentrated art form, like writing.  But each art form is different, and while acting satisfies one aspect of fulfillment, I also need writing to make me complete.

Joanne:  Spoken like a true poet. Thank you Tom. You are not alone in your feeling. I have heard it said “Writer’s write because we have no other choice.”  We walk around with these characters or thoughts in our heads all the time. We are never really alone.

Readers, if you enjoy poetry, click here to buy Tom’s books on Amazon.

Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Noel-Smith/e/B004MIE73C/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

 

 

 

Posted in authors, books, editing, education, favorite books, fiction, history, literary fiction, memoir, non-fiction, novels, political injustice, readers, spiritual, spiritual, womens fiction, writers, writing

Janet Levine bring us Leela’s Gift

Janet Levine
Janet Levine

Today’s author, Janet Levine was born and raised in South Africa.  Multi-published, from her political memoir, Inside Apartheid to her women’s fiction novel, Leela’s Gift, she is a superb writer with a superb grasp of the art of story-telling.  Welcome Janet. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

There was never a time I did not want to be a writer. I still have my five-year old scribbles. Vividly I remember the first book I read on my own. It was about a visit to the circus and described the dawn colors and the day’s events. I was enchanted, exhilarated at the world evoked on the pages and I told my mother I was going to do that, write a story. So I did, and I’ve never stopped.

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

At fourteen, a short story I wrote was read on the national radio in South Africa, and was a finalist for the best teenage writer prize that year. What a thrill. Since the age of eighteen I became a published freelance journalist in the national press in South Africa in those “liberal” newspapers that were against the apartheid regime. I have continued to write articles all my life. I now blog and write book reviews. I also wrote novels from about the age of twelve but none of them were publishable. Because of my involvement in the anti-apartheid struggle I did not have time to polish and revise. My political memoir Inside Apartheid was my first book length manuscript to be published. I started it in 1985 shortly after we immigrated to the USA. My then husband is American and we arrived to live in the Boston area with our two sons. I craved peaceful time to write after the drama of South African politics and wrote the book to establish that a number of white activists were part of the human rights struggle, too. Americans seemed to think that all whites supported apartheid. Because of my reputation in political activities and journalism, I was invited to be on the MacNeill/Lehrer News Hour commenting on the situation in South Africa, and interviewed by Judy Woodruff. A few days later PBS forwarded me a letter from a New York agent who asked if I was thinking of writing a book. I told him I was already working on one. Several months later we had a contract with a large Chicago publishing house.

Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. What shelves would we find your books in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

I’m a cross over writer; I’ve published a political memoir, two psychology books, and a novel. The book we are promoting today is a novel and we would find it under fiction, women writers, and spirituality.

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

POV is one of the most challenging decisions for a fiction writer. My voice is decidedly first person. In the novel I am working on now I have two first person narrators; I enjoy making readers “work” a little at figuring out what is the structure. This is highly experimental and unconventional and I still need to work on smoothing the transitions between the voices. In a recently published, magnificent novel The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (recently won the Pulitzer Prize for literature 2014) the author mastered the first person POV to perfection. A pre-pub novel (by a well-known author) I am reading now for review has two, third person (omniscient) narrators, and he works the transitions between their POVs superbly.

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

Currently the hardest part of the writing process (for me) is deciding to go the traditional route of seeking an agent, or trying to find an indie publisher, or to self-publish. What I have learned is that however long your work takes to write and revise, it is pristinely your baby, until you hire an editor to bring that professional polish. But the aggravation of the editing process and all those revisions is nothing compared to the resilience and patience (and time and/or money) you need to publish your book. You have to absolutely believe you have something to say that other people want to read or don’t even begin the publishing journey. It is a tough world out there.

Tell us about one of your books in 3 sentences

In Leela’s Gift the protagonist, a New Yorker, undertakes an enriching spiritual journey in the mountains near Darjeeling, India. The novel uncovers highly relevant spiritual teachings for our modern world. In captivating prose the novel intertwines modern philosophy and ancient wisdom in telling a story as old as the human heart.

Complete this sentence……. My favorite place to write is in almost total silence in a room surrounded by my favorite books and pictures and with a window that looks out on a garden or some greenery.

How about this one. …. A book about writing I love is Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings.

Where can readers buy your books?

My website is  www.janetlevine.com. All four books are linked to Amazon from my website and readers can follow me on twitter @jlevinegrp

Thank you Janet.  I know we will have you back to tell us more about Inside Apartheid.  Can you share a few paragraphs from the book we are promoting today, Leela’s Gift?  

“There was no mistaking Maharishi, standing amidst a group of solemn looking men all dressed in white. Pausing with one hand on the gate, Maharishi looked searchingly at me, drawing my attention back to him. He wore a long, immaculate white kurta, a collarless Indian shirt, over wide white trousers. Open sandals adorned his thin feet. In his other hand the beads of his mala slid effortlessly and deliberately through his slender, elegant fingers. His gaze seemed to penetrate my being and warmed to life many layers of my inner self that until that moment lay dormant; quickly I lowered my eyes, the force of his energy overwhelming. In his presence I struggled for breath.

His dark, deep-set eyes were softly luminous, and they smiled as he opened the gate. At the abrupt loss of his presence I felt cold, as I were in the Atlantic Ocean in winter. His presence radiated such heat and desire than when he left I was bereft. Considering this state along with my urge moments earlier to sink to my knees and prostrate myself at his feet, there was every reason to ask with rising hysteria; what was happening to me? After five minutes at the ashram my inner being swirled in choppy eddies. Maybe I should return to the taxi and drive back to Bagdora airport. The familiar known world tugged at me—standing at the threshold to this world seemed perilous, too risky.”

 

Posted in authors, characters, children, Christian, coming of age, fiction, Indie, KIndle, mystery, novels, parents, readers, teaching our children, Young Adult

Cheryl Abney writes Middle-Grade Historical Fiction

cheryl abney

Cheryl Abney is a retired educator with over 30 years’ experience as a teacher and counselor at all levels—college, high school, middle, and elementary. She is a current member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Florida Writers’ Association, Gulf Coast Writers’ Association, and the Society of Children’s Writers and Book Illustrators. Cheryl loves to create historical fiction stories and has written two middle-grade readers set in the Florida Lake Okeechobee area, circa 1918—Belle of the Glades, and its sequel, The Bone Field Mystery. She lives in the Florida Glades area of her story’s setting with her husband, two Jack Russell terriers (Zoey & Ditto), and her tortoise (Theo). She loves her current freelance position of creating short historical fiction stories for www.TheFreedomkids.com, and she hopes you’ll like reading them as much as she has enjoyed writing them.

Cheryl Abney weaves a new adventure in the old frontier as a young city girl meets rustic fish camp in her book Belle of the Glades. When recently orphaned Isabelle Lacy, is sent to live with her uncle on the shores of Lake Okeechobee in 1918, a whole new world is opened to her–a world shared with snakes, alligators, outlaws, and a new Indian friend.

 The Bone Field Mystery is the sequel to Belle of the Glades, and it takes Belle on an adventure to solve whether there is a Bigfoot at the Bone Field. Both Christian oriented middle-grade readers can be purchased online at www.BelleoftheGladesBooks.com as an e-book or softcover through links to Amazon and Barnes & Noble (iUniverse for Belle of the Glades only).

 

 The_Bone_Field_Myste_Cover_for_Kindle Cheryl Abney

Cheryl, do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I think I inherited my note-writing from my father, who would leave these small manila- work-tags scribbled with notes on his desk (the top of the refrigerator). I kept diaries when younger and still journal, was PTA secretary a number of years, and loved English and shorthand classes. My first remembered interest dates back to a fourth grade activity of creating a class poetry book—which I still have. We each had to create three poems for this hard-cover book. I was ecstatic.
What type of writing do you do?

I have written nonfiction articles for magazines, newspapers, websites like The Parenting Network and Kids Faith Garden, but my books and short stories are historical fiction for middle-grade readers. That’s where my heart is.

Why did you choose the self-publishing Indie route? Why did I choose this publisher and would you recommend that same Indie publisher?

I was probably premature to self-publish BOTG, because I’d only submitted it half a dozen times, and was encouraged to hang tough by a writing mentor. I retired in 2011 and I wanted to see it in print…felt I didn’t have the advantage of youth to wait years. I chose iUniverse after speaking with a friend who used them, and I did my homework researching the different Indies. My sequel, TBFM, was published through CreateSpace. It involved more work on my part, but I had more control over the product price…which dictates our profit margin.

I know that feeling of wanting to hold your book in your hands. I don’t think patience is an easy virtue for authors.

Do you always write in the same POV or do you switch it up.

I have always written my books in third person POV. It wasn’t until this year, when hired to write historical-fiction short stories for middle graders in first person, that I attempted this POV. It was definitely a learning curve, but I do feel it more effective in getting your reader into the story—as if they’re experiencing it.

I am also working on my adult historical romance, but keeping it in third person POV; so yes, I’m switching it up. I find I have to edit the short, first-person stories carefully so I don’t slip back into my books’ POV.

Are you a pantser or a planner?

I have done both, but I tend to grab an idea and jot a few notes, then write, write, write. I usually end up stopping at some point and creating a plan. But over all, I’m a pantser. I must admit to trying some excellent planning programs, but don’t follow through with them. However, I think it’s extremely important that you do lengthy character sketches of each main character before starting to write. I clip pictures from magazines for images. I’ve heard it said that you don’t “write what you know, but who you know.” Personalities, I steal from people I know. I heard one author assigned character names starting with the letter of the known person’s name, who she could relate the character’s personality to. Important thing, is to get to know your character well, before writing.

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

Two notes of advice—join a supportive, productive writers’ group and an editing group; and practice discipline. Set a definite, nonnegotiable time of the day to write, and write most every day. I’m most productive when I treat my writing like the business it is—showing up regularly.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I enjoyed reading Patrick Smith’s A Land Remembered, and Zora Neale Hurston’s There Eyes Were Watching God, both about the everglades; I thought it’d be enjoyable and educational to write about the area I reside in from a young reader’s view.

How did you come up with the title?

When I was a young college student first introducing myself to a class, the professor kiddingly referred to me, that one instance, as “Belle of the Glades.” I’ve never forgotten it, even though I now know the label was referring to Belle Glade (my residence then) by its original name.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

May sound corny, but I like to think it says “home is where the heart is.” Home has nothing to do with money, possessions, popularity, location—but a lot to do with security found in family, faith, and friendship.

How much of the book is realistic?

The dates and locations of the islands and settlements bordering Lake Okeechobee, the Palm Beach Canal, 1918 flu epidemic, and environment are realistic. I’ve created the Glades Runner, Sam’s store, and Hayes’s Fish Camp—but representative of the real things.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Pieces of every author creep into their writings. In BOTG, my youth was more like Belle’s after she came to live at her uncle’s fish camp. I loved wading and catching pollywogs, frogs, and turtles in the pond near home. My friends and I climbed the sand hills and wandered paths in the woods.

What book are you reading now?

I enjoy historical books like BOTG. Right now I’m reading the second in a series that started with an historical time-travel plot—Tomorrow & Always by Barbara Bretton. It’s captivating, as I hope Belle of the Glades is.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

I belong to several writing groups, but Gulf Coast Writers Association (Fort Myers) has definitely been the most interactive and rewarding. They meet the third Saturday of every month. I also meet with three other ladies, Critique Critters, to edit each other’s work once a month.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Francine Rivers is my favorite author. I just finished her current series that starts with Her Mother’s Hope (Marta’s Legacy). It is historical and crosses three generations. This Christian author, whom I’ve heard and met at conference, writes detailed accounts of another time and place, so that the reader is transported to that era.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)

No, because I’ve lived in the area of my setting, Lake Okeechobee, for 43 years. I have, however, visited many of the museums within driving distance to research the material in BOTG. Have you learned anything from writing your book?

I’ve learned how difficult it is to publish and market a book for profit. I’ve learned to stress less and enjoy the journey. An author needs to enjoy the accomplishment—the fruition of their efforts. Enjoy the kind comments and support from readers, and keep their eyes on the original goal to share knowledge and pleasure. I would advise young writers to follow their dream now—for it’s true that “tomorrow never comes.”

Writing for profit has a long learning curve, so take advantage of writing clubs, online seminars, workshops—and write. Google “young author publishers,” and check out CreateSpace. Parents can encourage their children’s writing by helping them navigate CreateSpace and publish 5 copies of their book for a minimal fee.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

A link to a short-story sample can be found at www.BelleoftheGladesBooks.com, as well as book purchase links. I hope you enjoy Belle’s adventure and will contact me.

Thank you so much for a wonderful interview.  Cheryl’s  books are available through:

Create Space:  The Bone Field Mystery:    http://www.createspace.com/4500669

Her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylabney

iUniverse : http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000603311/Belle-of-the-Glades.aspx

Her website:  www.BelleoftheGladesBooks.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in authors, books, characters, Florida, history, Indie, readers, writers, writing

T.M. Jacobs presents SW Florida History

T.M. Jacobs
T.M. Jacobs
Welcome, T.M. Jacobs to Author Interview Friday. Tim is on the Corporate Board of Directors for the Gulf Coast Writer’s Association and Owner/President of Jacobs Writing Consultants in Fort Myers, Florida.  He is also Advisor to the Board of Directors for Southwest FL Historical Society. It is my honor to have him with us today.
Tim, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?
For me it was the sound of the typewriter. My mother used to do some typing at home for work, and I fell in love with the “click-clack” of each letter as she typed. I was probably around 5 or 6 years old at the time.
Do you always write in the same genre?
No, I don’t. I write a little bit of fiction, I have written poetry, but I love to write non fiction, especially local history. I believe that writing in different genres helps the creative part of mind to always be going, always searching for ideas, twists, plots, etc.
For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?
It would be in the local Florida section, as it covers Harvie Heitmanof Fort Myers, as well as other events and histories of that area.
Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication?
I wanted to have more control in the overall process of the my book. I also wanted to learn as much about the industry that I could. Prior to publishing my first book in 1996, I took a job at a publishing company was able to learn all the ins and outs of the business before venturing out on my own.
What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?
I’ve seldom used an outline for my writing. I think both the synopsis and query are a challenge. It’s hard to focus your novel or book down to a mere page or two, but that’s how you make the sale to an agent or publisher. As far as the building the story, I’ve always felt that the stories build themselves. In fiction it’s the character that tell the story, you just write it down. With non fiction, let the facts tell the story.
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?
You need to constantly put yourself out there, or your book out there. Constantly repost to Facebook, send out emails, mention your book to organizations that you belong to you, write articles for newspapers and magazines and put in your byline your book title and where it’s available. Think outside the box. Set up tables at craft fairs and other events. Do book signings and lectures, lunches, etc.  
What advise would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?
Don’t give up. Keep writing. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, join a writing group or form one of your own – they’re so valuable. It’s where you find support because everyone there knows what it’s like to be a writer. They understand the struggles you will encounter and will be your loudest cheerleaders when you reach a success.
What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?
Tim Jacobs book cover
“H. E. Hiemtan, An Early Entrepreneur of Fort Myers, Florida” is the biography of Harvie Heitman, the man who practically built First Street in downtown Fort Myers. It’s also the history of the businesses that flourished downtown from the 1880s to the 1920s.
Where is your book available?
It’s available at Savvy on First in downtown Fort Myers,  Bombay Liquor/Book Den on Marco Island, the Southwest Florida Historical Society, the Southwest Florida Museum of History, or by emailing me attjacobs@jacobswc.com.
How did your consultant business come about?
With the advent of Kindle, Nook and e-readers, it has become easy for anyone to upload their novel or book, and become a “published author.” I was amazed when I began to download books and read them, only to find there was little to no editing done. It’s like the author thought he or she wrote it without error and quickly posted it for the public to buy and read. In some cases the story was fantastic, but difficult to read as you had to think or (in your mind) put in a comma, figure out where the missing quotation mark goes, or who’s speaking in a dialogue. So, I got together with a few editors, and put together Jacobs Writing Consultants to assist writers. Our tagline is “We ignite your writing – one page at a time.”
How can a writer contact Jacobs Writing Consultants?
The best way is through our website – http://www.jacobswc.com./ One thing we tell potential clients: “We’re so confident you will love our work, we’ll do the first four pages free and you’ll decide to say, ‘yes. . .finish it!'” Send us four double-spaced pages of your current project, and we’ll edit them and show you what we can do to enhance your writing.
What’s the most challenging aspect of being a consultant?
It’s difficult at times to get clients to see and understand that their writing or their story needs work. They believe because a co-worker or their best friend read their manuscript and loved it, that it’s good. True, the story may be good, but the nuts and bolts of it need to be tightened and adjusted. Sometimes the writer is too attached to their work, and it’s hard to get them to step back, let go and to take an alternate view of their book or main character.
Thank you Tim, for being on Author Interview Friday at Writing Under fire today. You can find out more about Tim, his writing and his consulting firm on his website:  www.jacobswc.com.