Posted in books, characters, fiction, love, romance, womens fiction, writers

“What would you do with Three Hundred Million?”

The Lottery Heriess by Angelina Assanti

Angelina, Thank you for being on Author Interview Friday on Wiring Under Fire. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

I knew since I was a kid. I was always writing short stories or poems. By the time I went to college, I decided to major in business. I didn’t start being serious about writing until a couple of years ago. I was tired of people telling me I should write a book. I started thinking maybe they were right!

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

When I was in high school, my mom sent me to the University of Massachusetts for a summer writing camp. That didn’t help me focus on writing. Maybe if there was a cute teacher?

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

It was about a year. I had the idea for a long time but I didn’t know how to put it all together. I gave it to some friends and family members and then my editor. It takes a village to write a book!

Do you always write in the same genre?

No. I have a very short attention span. I get bored very easily. I like all different types of genres. In fact, my follow-up book to this one is not as humorous or romantic, it is more fiction than anything else. My main character is in rehab – I mean, really, how funny can that be?

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

I really wanted it marketed as humor but it was ultimately decided it would be put in romance. I thought that would limit the audience but men are buying it, too!

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

I was published through a small publishing company. I am related to the publisher. And, I just want to go on the record that I think nepotism is wrong – unless it helps me get my book published, then I’m okay with it. Let me just add that someone isn’t going to stake their reputation on a crappy novel. It’s good and getting good reviews! Nepotism only gets you so far!

I obviously would recommend my publisher. But, you would have to follow in my footsteps – that is use the same editor, etc. You have to trust someone who knows what they’re doing – especially for the first-time writer.

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

My first novel was in the first person, but the follow-up (Mark Taylor’s Checkered Past) is in the third person because I am writing from his perspective and I obviously don’t exactly know how a guy thinks!

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

The voice in my first novel is opinonated and sarcastic. She eerily resembles my real personality. I think you’re supposed to write what you know – I know sarcasm. It’s a gift!

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

My opening scene starts in current time and then I go back seven years to show you how she wound up in the situation she was in…I think it’s okay to bounce around, as long as it’s not confusing for the reader.

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

For me, it was the chronology. I had written the beginning, middle and end. I just had to figure out how to advance my story forward and have it make sense to the reader. Again, that was why an editor was so critical for me. She let me know, very bluntly in fact, when the story needed to be more concise.

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?

Social media is a good way to get your message out. I also like the fact that newspapers will advertise book signings for free. I still think “word of mouth” is the best way to advertise.

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

Have other people read it and make sure that you hire an editor. And, don’t get insulted when people critique your work. Be open to some constructive criticism.

When will your next book be out?

I am finishing “Mark Taylor’s Checkered Past” now. I hope to have it in editing in February. The last novel in the series will be out shortly after that. I am about halfway done with that one. And, that one will be funnier than Mark Taylor’s novel because now my characters have moved to Miami to reign chaos on the city.

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

The Lottery Heiress is a story about Megan Pagano, and woman who just graduated from college. She gets the perfect job and perfect man but when a tragic accident takes everything away and leaves her with millions, her life spirals out of control. Just when she gets her act together, a handsome movie star, named Mark Taylor comes to town to shoot a movie. The question is: Will she be able to resist his charm or will she fall back into the same reckless lifestyle?  I know it doesn’t sound funny, but it is!

Where can readers buy your book?

http://www.amazon.com/Lottery-Heiress-Angelina-Assanti-ebook

http://www.amazon.com/The-Lottery-Heiress-Large-Print

http://www.cityofpalmspub.com

It’s also available on the web at Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and even eBay but I tell everyone to buy it through amazon for the best price.

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

The Lottery Heiress

I was already having a bad day. Instead of drinking like usual, I decided to go shopping. I went to Bloomingdale’s and Saks, because that’s where my peeps go. Did I need to be driving a $200,000 car to an outlet mall? Probably not, but that car makes me feel pretty. After I had dropped a few grand on more stuff I didn’t need, I felt like it was time to go.

As I walked to my car, I did what I always do when I drive myself anywhere – I scanned the parking lot for potential threats and saw none. I unlocked the seat then threw my small packages on the passenger seat. I sat down and looked around the parking lot one more time and checked myself out in the rear-view mirror.

It was the end of the day with the sun setting in the pink sky. I decided to go topless – not like college, I meant my convertible. My body stuck to the leather seats as I put my key in the ignition and started the car. Before I knew it, a man came up to the driver’s side window and stuck a gun in my face.

*If you like this, you can go to amazon.com and read the whole first chapter for free!

Posted in authors, coming of age, family, literary fiction, love, mystery, novels, readers, womens fiction, writers, Young Adult

Judy Hill says inspiration is everywhere.

Judy Hill

Judy,  it is such a pleasure to have you with us today on Author Interview Friday.  Tell us a little about yourself.

Originally from downstate Illinois, I now live in rural Virginia, inspired by the history that surrounds me. I have six grown children, nine grands and great grands, and a growing bunch of furry grandchildren. I have been writing seriously most of my adult life, first as a school administrator in charge of producing newsletters, enrichment class lessons and the flurry of papers all of you parents receive from your child‘s school daily.

Under contract to the Department of Defense in the Pentagon, I wrote proposals and training, testing and technical support materials. Now retired, I write for pleasure alone drawing on a background of many classes, extensive reading, a love of history and the English language, working in the theater and as an historic house docent. These days I can indulge full-time in writing short stories, poetry, and novels.

 

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Around the age of ten. I wrote a play about a band of gypsies gallivanting around a forest – kind of a cross between Carmen and Robin Hood. My very best 4th grade girl friends and I produced it for our parents to thunderous applause. I was hooked and have been writing ever since.

Where do you get your inspiration? 

I find inspiration everywhere. For instance, the inspiration for my recently published first novel was the book, Born Fighting, How the Scotch Irish Shaped America, by the former Senator from Virginia, James Webb. I also love the story of the founding of America, and my own trip to Scotland where I unexpectedly discovered that my family name, Allen, has Scottish roots.

Primarily, when I sit down to write, I draw on my pool of distilled experience: everything from people I have known to places I have been to achievements and failures, pleasures and pain. The memory bank can be a strange place to visit, but so much of what I dredge up from there often lands on the page – a fit of laughter, a painful affair, the scent of a long desiccated sprig of lavender plucked from a childhood garden, all woven together with fragments of truth and wild sprints of imagination. And that is why I write. It is such an adventure.

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

I like to say I have a PhD in Living – a little conceit of mine, as much like my secretly adopted mentor, John Steinbeck, I have never completed a degree program, but if experience has anything to do with putting words on paper, I’ve probably done it or taken a class in it. But the daily practice of writing to make a living has been the best education. I have written newsletters, white papers, administrative, technical and financial reports, government proposals, user guides and training plans, software test plans, meeting minutes – facts, protocols, standards. All wonderful training for learning how to organize thoughts, write succinctly, and deliver an exact message. My relief from this routine was reading the best fiction I could get my hands on, working evenings in the theater and as a docent at the historic house of James Madison, Montpelier.

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

From first ‘bee in the bonnet’ to actual publication of my first novel, The Secret Diary of Ewan Macrae, took about eight years of fits and starts, several iterations of the story, and at least two years of rewrites.

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?

After hearing Kathryn Stockett’s story of having her novel, The Help, rejected by 60 literary agents, I decided I was getting too old to go through that ordeal and chose to self-publish. It has become an accepted and much more respected way to go than in the past.

I investigated several independent publishing houses, but after attending a seminar run by a fellow writer, I published through Amazon’s Create Space. I am a bit of a technical dunce, but after an initial learning curve, found the process easy, and am quite pleased with the final products: a print-on-demand quality paperback and a Kindle version. And I might add – at no cost.

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

Interestingly enough, The Secret Diary of Ewan Macrae is written in three POV’s – that of the two contemporary main characters living in 1946, and of the 1746 writer of the titular diary.

With part of the story taking place in the 1700’s, I would guess your story would fit under Historical fiction. Did you do a lot of research to make sure the scenes fit the era as far as language, clothes,  mannerisms? How closely do you stick to history to make sure it is correct? What other challenges do you face when writing in a different era?

My novel should probably be listed first as Historical Fiction with sub-genres (if there is such an animal) of mystery, literary fiction, family, love, and with a stretch of the parameters, ‘coming of age’ because the primary character, Margaret is a naïve 21 year old with as much ‘street sense’ as a 12 year old.

However, the background is American History. I wanted to explore life’s experiences during two eras not only very different from today but were, in my opinion, incubation periods for the country we have today: 1746, when waves of immigrants were arriving in America just as it is poised to launch the war from which it grew into a fledgling power; and 1946, when the United States, victorious in World War II, emerged as a world power.

I have tried to make the historical references, locations and culture as authentic as possible by doing extensive research on both eras. It was necessary to verify all of the items you mention as well as current events, laws, economics, antiques, plant life, food – I could go on and on but I think you get the point. Then I began on research of Scottish independence, emigration, indenture, migration, frontier life and finally Cherokee culture. It was great fun.

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

 My novel is strong on character development and in order to accomplish that I needed to ‘befriend’ my characters. Strange as it may sound, they became as familiar to me as family. I found I could think like each one, talk like each one, and each one is very different. The process started as I wrote back stories for the two main characters, Margaret and Phil. Where were they born, what were their family and childhood experiences, their coming of age, education, conflicts, and the problem or event that brought them to my novel. My “Voice” actually became theirs.

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?

Marketing is not my strong point. I know that a good platform is important: social media, website, blogs, etc.  And I am working on these. But as a neophyte, I find my best results to date have come from personal appearances, talks and book fairs.

As my website is in the design stages, please find The Secret Diary of Ewan Macrae  on Amazon at the link below:  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=diary+ewan+macrae

 DIARY cover  for Judy Hill

Are you a pantser or a planner?

I have a blanket plan and usually an ending. Getting from the beginning to that end, I am a pantser. Also I have experienced the phenomena where my characters dictate what they want to do. When I follow their lead, the results are often better that what I had planned.

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

 Write, write, write. Let the story flow. Get involved in a good critique group that understands your genre and listen to their criticism – it is good food for thought. You can take it or leave it, but do consider it. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.

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

The Secret Diary of Ewan Macrae is a story of self discovery and America’s early years told through the experiences of Margaret Macrae, a naïve North Carolina small town girl trying to survive on her own and Phil Domin, a jaded New York City writer running from the law. Together they search for the answers to a mystery, uncover a conspiracy, and fall in love. A source of strength and inspiration for them both is the 200 year old diary written by Margaret’s Scottish ancestor who fled to America in 1746. The accounts, spanning two centuries have amazing parallels.

Thank you Judy.  Your book sounds intriguing. I can’t wait to read it.  Can you share a few paragraphs to wet our appetite? 

 Shafts of light leaked from the edges of the drawn shades of Marlin’s Cafe. Thinking these security lights, Margaret piled the cookie tins against the door when, startled – she toppled into a snow drift – Marlin opened the door. “What’s all the racket out here? Well, look who it ain’t. Come on in, gal, ya look like a block o’ ice. What in the world are ya bringin’ me?”

“Cookies,” said Margaret, her teeth chattering, “I made so many, I thought maybe you could use them.”

Marlin pulled the lid from one of the tins. “Lawdy, lawdy, will ya smell that – cinnamon and cloves.” She opened another tin, “Good gracious, these’re chocolate and nuts.” A third tin revealed, “lemon, just like they’re fresh from the tree.” On and on, “Mincemeat, almond, peppermint sprinkles, Christmas trees and stars. Gal, you are really somethin’. You musta used yer entire month’s sugar ration coupons.

“Come on in here. I am gonna fix you a big old cuppa hot cocoa. Take the chill outa your bones. Phil, will you come see what just dropped in.”

Out from the kitchen, wearing a long white apron, wiping his hands on a greasy towel, came Phil Domin. Another surprise.

“I been here all day,” said Marlin. “Gettin’ ready for the big Christmas day crowd. Bakin’ hams and turkeys. Can ya smell ‘em? Phil stopped by for coffee on his way home.

“Say, we got nothing else to do tonight. My money says you’re in the same boat. How ‘bout stayin’ and helpin’ with the cookin’?”

Margaret nodded – an uninvited impulse. The day was full of them. The warmth of the room – perhaps it was the company – melted the cold from her body and the usual shyness from her heart. Cocoa was brewed, three cups poured, a plate of cookies shared, stories of culinary disasters, remembered snowball fights, embarrassing moments, and the pageant chaos that, doubling over in laughter at the telling, they dubbed, the Christmas Riot of ’46.

Marlin rose from the table. “Y’all stay put. Time to check on the turkeys; take out the hams. We can sneak a bit for us to lay on some supper. If one of you knows how, you might throw together a little punch. And put on some music, Maggie, honey. It’s just plain dark outside. You best plan to stay the night with me.”

Margaret didn’t protest, but stacked the player with records and switched it on. Phil swirled together in a big glass snifter, a potent mixture of orange juice and champagne with a shot of Cointreau, a dash of sugar.

“Here, taste this.” He handed Margaret a tiny glass. She sipped the bubbly liquid and her nose began to run. It was her first taste of alcohol, titillating and wonderful.

Marlin returned carrying plates of turkey, ham and crusty bread, spicy apples, brandied pudding, ripened cheese and walnuts. They feasted and drank and laughed some more.

The café was warm and filled with the smells of cooking: cinnamon and nutmeg, pineapple and cloves, rosemary and sage. Marlin lit the strings of tiny white lights that hung round the windows, the red, blue and green ones on the tree that sat in the corner. Phil dimmed the café lights. The strains of White Christmas drifted from the record player. Snow began to fall.

With one hand at her back, Phil lifted Margaret from her chair and drew her close. As his lips brushed her cheek, she warmed with the feeling of falling into white clouds of soft cotton and silk, and smooth as breezes blowing through the trees, they moved as one to the enchantment of the song.

Who knew Christmas could be such a magical time? Who knew a grieving girl could grow into a woman overnight? Who guessed a cynical old New Yorker and a shy naïve mountain girl could fall in love?

“I did,” smiled Marlin. “I did.”

Posted in authors, characters, family, readers, romance, WFWA, womens fiction, writers

Karoline Barrett brings us The Art of Being Rebekkah

Welcome Karoline. I am sure you are excited about your book coming out December 9th. Congratulations. Let’s start by learning all about you.

Karoline:  Thank you. I am excited. As for about me: I love reading and writing women’s fiction, romance, and humorous cozy mysteries. Right now I’m working on a cozy set in upstate N.Y.

My short fiction has been published by various places:

Every Day Fiction.

The Visit published back in 2010 by Eastown Fiction.

 L’Chaim was  published by All Things Girl, October 2013.

I was born in upstate New York and have lived in South America, Indiana, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. At the moment, I live in a small Connecticut town with my husband.

When I’m not writing, I love reading, spending time by the water, traveling, and doing anything that has nothing to do with math.

 Other random facts about me:

  •  Favorite colorsRed, pink, yellow
  •  Dog or catDog. But cats are okay, too
  •  Favorite go-to authors: Ann B. Ross, Debbie Macomber, Jane Heller, Danielle Steel, Janet Evanovich, Sue Grafton, Anne George 
  •  Favorite place to be: The beach!
  •  What I really needA maid
  •  I wish I livedOn a beach in New Jersey
  •  Favorite places I’ve livedSão Paulo and New Jersey
  •  Favorite moviesNacho Libre, Coming to America, My Cousin Vinny, Ushpizin, The King’s Speech
  •  Wish I could writeDeep literary fiction
  •  Favorite poet: Sylvia Plath
  •  If I wasn’t writing I wouldBe a math person, maybe

Joanne:  I always love to hear how everyone got started in this crazy world of writers.  When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

Karoline: I’ve always been an avid reader, and writing was always in the back of my mind. One day I decided to stop thinking about it and actually do it. I started with short stories and eventually wrote The Art of Being Rebekkah.

Karoline Barret book cover

Joanne: That is a big leap from short stories to a novel. Some people  may not realize that. Easy to say, sometimes hard to do. Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

Karoline:  I took writing courses through Long Ridge Writers Group.

Joanne: Do you always write in the same genre?

Karoline: I tend to gravitate to women’s fiction and romance, but my second novel, in progress right now, is a humorous cozy mystery. I can’t see myself ever writing science fiction; my mind just won’t work that way!

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?

Karoline: The Art of Being Rebekkah is a romance at its heart. I’d place it with women’s fiction.

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

Karoline: In the fall I’m going to be published by E-lit books, a company  started by my agent, Frances Black of Literary Counsel. My book was finished in November of 2011, I began querying agents in January 2012, and signed with Frances in October 2012.

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

Karoline: Oh, the synopsis, definitely! I love outlining and building the story.

Joanne:  I can certainly agree with you there. The synopsis can be brutal. Are you a pantser or a planner?

Karoline:  Planner! I have to outline, even though my outline evolves as my characters and story evolves.

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

Karoline:  Of course! Happy reading-

The Art of Being Rebekkah

“I do want children, a lot of children,” Rebekkah cried, unable to stop herself. “I don’t have a career. Being a wife and mother is all I want to do.” She didn’t know why she continued to sit, spilling out her private life to this stranger, but she couldn’t seem to get up and walk away.

It was Ellen’s turn to pale as her eyebrows rose and her mouth formed a surprised O. “Then you don’t…” She closed her eyes then opened them slowly. “I’ve upset your life enough as it is in the last few minutes.”

“I don’t what?” asked Rebekkah, grasping Ellen’s forearm. “You were going to say something. What could be any worse?”

Ellen squirmed in her chair and murmured something Rebekkah didn’t catch, then ran her fingers through her bangs, causing then to stick out at pointy angles. “I know it’s not my business, but it’s obvious you don’t know anything about this. How old are you? If I wasn’t sure it was pretty much impossible I would think you were his daughter.”

“Twenty-five,” Rebekkah replied quickly. “What were you going to say? If what was impossible?”

“I don’t think I…” By this time Rebekkah was sitting so close to the edge of her chair that another inch and she’d be on the ground. “Please, just say it.”

“God forgive me if this is wrong of me, but you so obviously want children.” Ellen paused and played with her wedding ring. “You’ll never be pregnant. Not by Avram, anyway. He’s had a vasectomy.”

Joanne:  Thanks Karoline.  Oh boy. And just how did Ellen know that? That certainly wets my appetite for your book. Where can readers get your book?

Karoline:  I love connecting with other writers. My website is karolinebarrett.com.

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Art-Being-Rebekkah-Karoline-Barrett/dp/061592056X/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1385167117&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=the+art+of+bein+rebekkah

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/books/the-art-of-being-rebekkah/vmxYO9xpDUK6xkplKcVckg

Website:           Karoline Barrett

Facebook:         Karoline’s Facebook author page

Twitter:             @KarolineBarrett

Pinterest:          Pinterest

Email:                karoline@karolinebarrett.com

Agent:              Frances Black, Literary Counsel

Publisher:       E-Lit Books

Publicist:         CHARLEEN FAMIGLIETTI  charleen@djccommunications.com 

Where to Buy:      AMAZON PAPERBACK

                                    AMAZON KINDLE

                                    B&N NOOK

                                    KOBO

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, Christian, God, novels, purpose, womens fiction, writers, writing

Christian writer, Brenda Brown Elliott brings Courage Times Three

Please welcome Brenda Brown Elliott. She is a Christian woman who loves writing literary fiction and inspirational works as a source of comfort for all. Honesty & integrity are priorities in her life.

Brenda Brown Elliott
Brenda Brown Elliott

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

Brenda:  The idea for my novel came to me while living and working in Phoenix, AZ back in 2001.  Many of the patients at the clinic I worked for were elderly, people who had emigrated from Europe and had survived the world wars over there in the middle of horrendous living conditions.  They ended up retiring in the warmth and sunshine of Sun City, AZ and became friends.  I worked as a Patient Service Specialist back then at the front desk.

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

Brenda: No, My novel was the first project I have ever written.

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

Brenda: I wrote the entire story in four months in 2008 and but I just got it published.  I tucked it away for years due to chronic illnesses on my part.   Although I was bedridden most of the time while writing it.

Joanne:  Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. What shelf would we find Courage Times Three  if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

Brenda: I have a publicist, Hajni Blasko of Substance Books and she chose Literary Fiction for first genre and Inspirational Journey for second represented genre.

Joanne:  Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication?

Brenda:  For me, it was the right choice. The cost effectiveness, my own choices, and quicker output were just a few of reasons.

Joanne: What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher?

Brenda:  I heard good things about Create Space through Amazon.

Joanne: Would you recommend that same Indie publisher to a colleague?

Brenda: Absolutely

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

Brenda: This story was in my heart, it was a Godly inspiration by the time I finally wrote it after I had been on my Christian walk for some time. I could see and hear the pain of living through these heavily accented voices of survivors how much they had overcome to get to their happy years in retirement.  Many widows by then tho.

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

Brenda: I did read other novels to recognize how the flow should be patterned and to remember to go back to earlier references I had made in the story.  Not dropping anything of consequence was key to bringing it all together.

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

Brenda: As a self-published author, I did not have to do any query letters or synopsis. With my illnesses, my cognitive abilities pretty much threw out my organizational abilities which caused me much frustration due to a lack of concentration. Also.  I just could not work on my project for several days.  On some days I couldn’t even get energized enough for a shower…I was very weak during those periods of time (which were frequent). So for me it was literally a physical struggle to keep going until the end of the story.

Joanne: That must have been very hard. I must commend you for sticking with it and accomplishing your goal. As I have heard many times, “It is easy to start a novel, it is finishing one that take real perseverance.”

As we know, 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?

Brenda: I hired a publicist.  I created a website (quite poorly I think).  I started a blog on WordPress and I advertise on them with links to Create Space and Amazon.  I have set up my own appointments for book signings along with an upcoming radio interview.  I follow instructions daily from my publicist to give my novel further exposure.  I am joining various writing groups.  Looking to give and get reviews.

Joanne: Was there any mistakes you made in your writing process you could share with us and save a few steps for new writers?

Brenda: Don’t hand the manuscript over to anybody to read until you are near finished with it.  They may likely tear it apart wanting to seem knowledgeable. I found that minimal feedback works best for me.  If you don’t have a pretty good idea of just what you are working to achieve, nobody else really can either.

Joanne: That is so true. You must believe in your work before anyone else can. What is the premise of Courage Times Three that we are promoting today?

Brenda: To be the best person you can be.  To serve God’s purpose for your being.  To appreciate all of our liberties here in the United States in comparison to numerous countries throughout the world.  To be kind and gracious to others.

Joanne: Those are lofty aspirations Brenda. Sometimes easier said than done. Perhaps your book will be a guiding light for others to find their way.  Where can readers find your book?

www.createspace.com/4406951

amazon.com/author/amazon.com.brendabrownelliott

bbelliott.vpweb.com   – website address

1brelliott1@wordpress.com – blog address

1brendabrown1@gmail.com – email

couragetimesthree.bbelliott.vpweb.com

Thank you Brenda for being a part of Writing Under Fire’s Author Interview Friday.  Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to wet out appetite?

 Brenda Brown Elliott book cover

               Centrally located in the heart of the city, they were greeted by the concierge of the well established Hotel Concorde Saint Lazare. As with all prestigious guests, the concierge assumed full responsibility for their check-in and baggage. After receiving a quick history of the hotel, including the many amenities offered, the travel-weary, yet enthusiastic bride and groom comfortably settled themselves into their suite. A large sterling silver bowl, filled with various fruits, and an exquisite bottle of Dom Perignon, chilling in an ice filled silver bucket, awaited them in their luxurious suite. Madeleine was sure to remove the bottle from the ice once it had reached the perfect temperature of 45 degrees, a well known fact shared by most Parisians. 

Set high above the streets, the locality of their suite offered  sweeping views of the charming city. Never had Hal felt more like royalty. He had never been privy to that kind of luxury. But it also was a lavish treat for Madeleine.

The magnificence of the suite was more than intoxicating. Furnished in high-backed Queen Ann chairs and tables designed of rich marble, the rooms were dressed in finely hand-painted vases, filled with red, white and yellow long-stemmed roses strategically placed throughout their expansive quarters. Fluffy, white lace beddings adorned an enormous bed, lavished with soft, inviting pillows in the bedroom area. Massive, beautifully framed oil paintings, providing a taste of delicate French gardens, hung stately upon the softly painted walls.

The restaurant, located within walking distance of their hotel, provided a welcomed opportunity to stretch their legs as they leisurely strolled the cobblestone streets. Dining that first evening in Paris, Madeleine and Hal savored every bite of the fine French cuisine they’d been advised to experience. Always a necessary accompaniment with dinner, the fine wine they enjoyed was expertly chosen by the lovely Madeleine.

Feeling the after effects of their journey the lovebirds returned to their hotel for a good night’s sleep.

Standing on the terrace accompanying their suite, inspired by the nightly view of the city all aglow, they sent a sincere thank you to their Heavenly Father for providing their undeserving souls with such grandeur and beauty. With the charm of the city still enticing them, they closed the doors to the outside world, allowing themselves to fulfill each other’s Godly created desires.

Posted in authors, books, characters, conflict, editing, fiction, friends, novels, romance, suspense, womens fiction, writers, writing

Hemphill Towers makes a debut appearance

I am so excited to have Leona Pence on Author Interview Friday. Leona and I both started our novels about the same time and worked on them together with line-by line feedback through Writers Village University in 2011. Wow, Leo, has it really been that long ago? For both of us, this has been a long haul and I am tickled pink that her novel, Hemphill Towers is now out with MuseItUp Publishing.

Leona Pence
Leona Pence

Leona started reading romance novels as a teen. She graduated from Nancy Drew stories to Harlequin Romance, and then to her favorite author, Barbara Cartland and her vast Regency romance collection. Happy endings were a must. Leona began writing late in life after the death of her husband of forty-four years. They married on her 19th birthday after a three month courtship – and yes – love at first sight really did happen. She enjoys reading, writing, online pool, and especially being a Mentor in F2K, a free online writing course.

Leona:  Thank you for having me on your blog today, Joanne. It’s been awhile since we critiqued each other’s work in the WVU novel group. I know at least five of us from the group are now published. We must have done something right, I’d say.

Joanne:  It was a great experience. I know I never would have made it without all the help from that wonderful group.  Tell the readers when you first knew you wanted to be a writer and the inspiration to get you started.

Leona:  My novel started as a joke between me and two online friends. I was only planning to write a short spoof with no idea that I had any writing talent. I’d say I knew I wanted to be a writer by the time I’d sent out ten of my fifteen installments to family and friends. My inspiration was the camaraderie from many online friends.

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

Leona:  Not until after I’d written my manuscript. Then I discovered F2K (fiction for 2000) and WVU (Writers Village University)  They provided critique groups and writers from all over the world to lend support. We had fun in the Novel Group, didn’t we, Joanne?

Joanne:  Yes we did, Leo. What a great bunch of girls, and from all over the world. How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?

Leona:  It took three months to write a first, very rough, draft. It sat on the shelf for a long time, so approximately five years before publication became a reality.

Joanne: Do you always write in the same genre?

Leona: Most things I write involves romance. It’s the easiest to write a happily-ever-after ending

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?

Leona:  I’d say Contemporary Romance, but maybe Romantic Suspense.

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

Leona: I’m published through MuseItUp Publishing, a Canadian house. A mutual friend introduced me to the publisher, Lea Shizas. I sent her my manuscript and she offered me a contract.

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

Leona:  I’m more comfortable using third person POV. I haven’t switched yet.

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

Leona:  In Hemphill Towers, I alternated between my three heroines. Birdie Orrwell’s story took place in Italy, and it was a little difficult to keep the three stories intertwined without messing up the timeline.

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

Leona: The dreaded synopsis and query letter are part of the reason it took me so long to submit. Yeah, writing the manuscript was easier.

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?

Leona:  My daughters raised a media blitz for me. I had television and newspaper coverage with more to come. I blog, and guest on as many as I can. I use Facebook and Twitter. I’m limited on marketing outside my computer. Being deaf and in a wheelchair puts a damper on live appearances. However, have you noticed via Facebook, that my overzealous supporters are trying to get me on the Ellen show. It would be funny if they weren’t so dead serious.

I am having a-Celebrate With Me- Facebook event November third. I have some cool prizes including my ebook.

Joanne:  That sounds like an exciting event. And we will watch for you on Ellen’s show. It could happen. We will all watch for the Facebook Event on November 3rd. Here that readers? — cool prizes including her e-book.

Do you consider yourself a pantser or a planner?

Leona:  I’m a pantser. I sit at my desk and write what pops into my head.

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

Leona: I’d tell them Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a good book. Patience is definitely a virtue. Never give up. Cut unnecessary words like ‘that, just, really, suddenly, seemingly, to name a few, and remember, a person cannot laugh, snort, or yawn words. Watch those he said/she said tags.

Joanne:  How do you feel, now that your novel has been published?

Leona:  I feel such a sense of relief that it’s finally happened. All the hard work, along with the agonizing wait, has faded, just like birthing pains do. Ooops, is that comparing apples and oranges?

Joanne:  I don’t think so at all. The waiting is really painful (and rejections along the way) What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

Hemphill Towers
Hemphill Towers

LeonaHemphill Towers is about romance, art, stalking, wine forgery, the Russian Mafia, and friendship.

Joanne:  Where can readers get a copy of your book and other works of yours?

Hemphill Towers 2013 MuseItUp Publishing:    http://tinyurl.com/lrqon56

Amazon:    http://tinyurl.com/krom6yw

B & N :   http://tinyurl.com/k597f84

Blog:    http://leonaschatter.blogspot.com/

Anthology:   http://goo.gl/T97WNW

The Darwin Murders:   http://goo.gl/YX3Xre

Joanne:  Thanks Leona.  Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to wet our appetite?

Hemphill Towers

A little later, Stella put down her fork unable to eat another bite. She was listening to JB tell Federico a story about his latest fishing trip. JB raised his arm in a mock casting of a line, and in doing so, hit the wine bottle with his arm causing it to strike Stella’s full glass. The contents of both poured all over the front of her clothes.

Stella gasped when the chilled liquid came in contact with her body, soaking through her white blouse and bra. JB jumped up, grabbed a cloth napkin and began dabbing at the rapidly spreading red stain. Then the inevitable happened. First one button then another popped from her blouse and landed in the middle of the table.

JB stood dumbfounded, staring at the lacy exposed bra. Stella snatched the napkin from his hand and covered herself. Her face was much redder than the spilled wine. Riley could no longer contain her laughter and was soon joined by Birdie. Stella looked at them and then at the stricken face of JB Edwards; she began to laugh herself. Tears ran down their cheeks. JB sat back down, relieved there would be no repercussions from his gaffe.

Posted in authors, books, family, womens fiction, writers

Louder Than Love by Jessica Topper.

I simply love the title (and the cover) to this book. Please help me welcome Jessica Topper to Author Interview Friday.  Jessica, When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

Jessica Topper
Jessica Topper
photo credit to Jay Blaskesberg

Jessica:  I wrote stories all through junior high and high school on an old clunky Underwood typewriter. They were mainly adventures starring my friends, with an evil teacher or a celebrity thrown in for good measure. Some kids excel in sports; other kids are the class clowns. I was the scribe. I entertained my friends with my tales and would custom-fit the stories to their wishes. And I enjoyed doing it in the process!

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

Jessica: I went on to earn my B.A. in English, but I focused on the classics and shied away from most of the creative writing courses. I didn’t think I knew enough at the time to write a book people would take seriously. For graduate school, I surrounded myself with books once again, earning a Master’s in Library and Information Science. I still dreamed of writing a book (or ten) of my very own, and working in libraries was a great motivator.

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

Louder Than Love photo credit Jay Blakesberg
Louder Than Love 

Jessica: It took me about five years to write Louder Than Love, my first full-length novel. I wrote it in fits and starts, and I vow never to take that long on a book again! Ironically, the publication process was rather speedy compared to the writing. I landed my agent the same month I finished the novel, it sold to Penguin within a year of completion and released digitally nine months after that.

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?

Jessica: The book sold as Women’s Fiction, but it is very romantic in nature. Still, I think it would land on the regular Fiction shelves. Many readers commented that they were drawn to the cover and assumed it might be New Adult, but I assure you, it’s not!

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

Jessica:  I’ve been experimenting lately. Louder Than Love was completely first person POV, one character. I’m not as comfortable in deep third person, but I think it’s a good exercise. Currently I am playing around with two alternating first person narrative in a story. It’s a comedy of errors tale so it’s been fun to take those liberties.

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

Jessica: I think author Chuck Wendig said it best: “You will never find your voice. It isn’t a car and you aren’t a dog chasing it. It’s not a pearl in an oyster or an elk in the forest. Your voice is who you are. The way you think. The way you speak when you’re not thinking about how you speak. You are your voice. If anything it’s like a lost key. It’ll turn up just when you stop hunting for it.”

I love the way words sound and I love manipulating them. Music and reading have always been important in my life so marrying both loves to create lyrical fiction speaks to me. It speaks for me. I adore alliteration. The classics I studied were all about imagery. I love stringing readers along a path of pretty words and then dumping them into the brambles with harsher truths. That’s the “me” that has always been there.

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?

Jessica:  I have no idea if it is directly increasing sales, but I have worked hard at creating an online author presence that is genuine and engaging. I’d much rather chat about music, for example, than share my daily word count. I’ve been posting bonus deleted scenes from Louder Than Love on my web site as well, which has been fun. It provides a bit of a cure for readers who were crying “book hangover” while at the same time, might pique the interest of someone who hadn’t yet heard of the book.

Joanne:  I love the idea of the deleted scenes. I think all writers have a lot of them on our cutting room floors. What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Jessica:  Write for an audience of one: yourself. Keep reading: for joy, for fun, for inspiration. Trust your process. What works for you may not work for others, and vice versa.

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

Jessica:  Louder Than Love is a love/loss/love again story set in Manhattan and the quirky comfort of a fictional suburb called Lauder Lake. It stars a young, widowed librarian, a charming, recluse rock star and a comically lovable 5-year old girl with a full-blown addiction to PBS. It’s about second chances and opening your heart to the possibility that there are all different kinds of love.

Joanne:  Please share with us where readers can get your book.

Links to buy: website: http://www.jessicatopper.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JessicaTopperAuthor

Twitter: @jesstopper

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/jessicatopper

Amazon: www.amazon.com/Louder-Than-Love-ebook/dp/B00AR49H2Q

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

Jessica:  Sure! I think this one echoes what I shared in the premise.

My life had followed the grid of good grades, decent colleges, and impressive résumés, which landed me professional nine-to-five employment with solid benefits. I had lined up and shelved those accomplishments as deftly as books on a library shelf and stood back with the calm and cool satisfaction of a job well done. Next came Pete and love . . . then Abbey. I watched her streak past after the balloon, shrieking with uncontrolled delight. And then nature’s cruel curveball: the un-navigated fork stabbed in the middle of the road. The sun kink. Whatever you wanted to call it.

Despite all my organizing and arranging, I had never noticed the logical order to it all. The Dewey Decimal System placed Marriage and Family at 306.8. And Death and Dying at 306.9. How very tidy. Grief and love, hand in hand. Yet beside me sat Adrian, and what I felt for him defied classification.

“You look troubled, luv.” Adrian’s brow wrinkled in sympathy.

“I’m trying to figure out where you fit into the order.” Was there a place for reclusive rock stars?  For a heavy metal hero with a heart of gold? “You,” I kissed each temple, then nose tip and chin. “You are glorious chaos.”