Posted in authors, characters, favorite books, fiction, Indie

Happy Birthday to Me

 

The earliest photo I have with Mom
Mom,  my  brothers  and  me

Today is my birthday, so I’m allowed to post about myself.  Life has taken me thousands of miles and blessed me with hundreds of friends, acquaintances, and family along the way. They haven’t all stayed in touch and that is okay. People come in and out of your life for a reason and I accept their time with me as a gift and their absence as a sign our time together has naturally come to an end and we each have different people to meet, to love, to aspire to be.

I usually ask authors questions about themselves and their writing. Today, I’ll ask myself the same questions.  Don’t worry. I will only pick a few.

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

I wrote my first short story at the age of ten, but I am not sure now that I really thought through the idea of being a professional writer. That didn’t really happen until fifty-two years later, in 2010, when I realized that I would like to make a profession of the passion I have always loved.  (okay, you can do the math)

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

I have no formal training.  The only college classes I took were for my real estate career. But once I decided to take this seriously, I havent’ been able to stop learning. I read hundred of blogs, endless amount of books, attend every conference and workshop I can.  Since I am the president of my local writer’s group, I often have to fill in when a speaker suddenly backs out. If I am going to get up and teach a workshop, I am going to research until I know everything I can about the subject.

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

I wrote my first published work in 30 days during a NANOWRIMO challenge in 2010. It took another  two and half years before it was even close to being ready to publish.  I look at it now and know I could do so much better today.

Are you published through a traditional publishing house or Indie published?

I am Indie published through Create Space and as far as self-publishing, you can’t beat it. But, I would love to find a traditional publisher and my desire it to secure one for my current work in progress. It is currently in the editing and re-writing stage.  I hope to complete that within the next six months so I can start sending out queries.

Are you a pantser or a planner?

I am a planner. I write and outline and a timeline. Then I search photo sites like Istock and Photo.com for pictures of my protagonists. If I can see them, it is easier to write about them. I also write a character sketch for each of my main characters. All this said, once I start to write,  things sometimes take a life of their own. When that happens it is like someone else’s fingers are typing, and all I can do is sit back and say “WOW, How did that happen?”

Was there a mistake you made in your writing process you could share with us?

The biggest mistake  I made was publish too soon.  Even with tons of beta readers and an editor, there was more work that needed to be done on that first book.  My second biggest mistake was getting discouraged too fast and self-publishing.  I  hope I have the stamina to keep seeking an agent for as long as it takes next time.

What genre of book do you love? Do you write in that same genre?

I love women’s fiction, stories about women’s journey’s in life.  My favorite writer of all time is Jodi Picoult. I can only hope to write as well as her. Yes, I do write in that same genre.  My books are current events (typically within the last ten years). I get my ideas from watching the news.  Accident is about an alcoholic soccer Mom from the suburbs that causes a fatal car accident. Town Without Mercy’s inspiration came from the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.  My WIP (work is progress) is about international adoption.

Tell us about one of your books in one sentence.

I’ll give you a peek into my current work-in-progress.    Re-homing Pigeon is the story of a Louisiana Cajun woman and an orphaned Russian child that must lose everything, including each other, before they can find what family really means

Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to whet our appetite?   A sneak-peek into the first chapter. of Re-Homing Pigeon.

If it weren’t for the voodoo curse, she would have been a terrific mother. Cecile Lafayette Boudreaux stroked the Gris-Gris amulet around her neck, and then the mound around her middle. We’ll get through this, Junior, don’t worry. Born in the Louisiana bayou, she wasn’t supposed to scare easily. The weatherman had drawn spaghetti lines that snaked through the Gulf of Mexico, all heading straight toward the mouth of the Mississippi. They named her Katrina. The die-hards planned hurricane parties. Fire up the outdoor cooker; them mud bugs were waiting for cayenne pepper, hot sauce and ‘taters. Laissez les bons temps rouler (Let the good times roll.) Mayor Ray Nagin issued a mandatory evacuation. Governor Blanco told anyone refusing to leave to write their names and social security number on their arms in magic marker so they could identify the bodies.

Cecile told herself that she’d be safe in their sturdy home in Saint Bernard Parish. Armand had boarded the house so not a sliver of daylight peeked through the plywood sheets. This wasn’t the first hurricane in her thirty years, and it wouldn’t be the last. No matter the warnings, she couldn’t leave without her husband, who had responsibilities as drilling manager for the Murphy Oil Refinery.

She opened the door and stared at ominous dark clouds and things that had no business being airborne. Thousands of mosquito hawks (dragonflies) flew in a frenzy, forming a gossamer purple and green funnel. It’s coming . . .

Thanks readers, for letting me indulge in a little self-promotion. Where can people buy my books?

                   https://www.createspace.com/4441710
Posted in children, coming of age, family, humor, love, writers

In Honor of my Mom, Bernice Hammar Simon

Her Wedding Day Sept. 14, 1940
Her Wedding Day
Sept. 14, 1940

Because I can’t wrap my arms around her and tell her that I love her, I dedicate this day to my Mom, Bernice Hammar Simon.

August 28, 1918 – January 17. 1997.  Rest in peace Mom.

15  Things I remember about Mom  (I could do a hundred more)

1. Seeing my Dad’s face when he came home from work and found my brothers, me and MOM, all lined up in the hall doing a head stand.

2. Mom riding my brother’s mini-bike right up a pine tree – and being madder than a hornet that nobody told her the gas was on the grips of the handlebars.

3. Mom sticking her head, full or rollers  in the oven to dry her hair.

4. Me, sitting on the red stool,at the red Formica counter-top, in the red plaid kitchen, watching my mother cook, dressed in her favorite red sweatshirt, shorts and saddle shoes.

5. Hearing my Dad tell me stories about Mom riding in open cockpit planes when she was a teenager.

6. Her love  for her 1966 Mustang, red, of course.  And how she liked to drive fast.

7. Mom dressing up like a beatnik , all in black with me and my girlfriends when I was a teenager and  driving us around looking for boys. (because I was too young to drive)

8. Her laughing until she cried or peed her pants (or both.)

9. Going to Mother-Daughter luncheons at the Swedish church with Mom and Grandma Hammar the week of Mother’s Day.

10. Her meatloaf – the best ever… and her baked macaroni and cheese  OR  letting me have spaghetti and pumpkin pie for my birthday.

11. Hearing her tell the story of when she sewed my sister-in-law’s bridal nightgowns together and let Pat’s sister take the blame for many years.

12. Her face when she was with the grand-kids – she loved them so much.

13. Her sitting on the floor playing with the grand-kids – or doing board games on the card table.

14. Her love for family genealogy, and her bumper sticker that read “I collect dead relatives.”

15. Her holding me when I had a broken heart /  Me holding her when she struggled to breath.

Okay, so I squeezed a couple favorites together because I could not choose. So shoot me. Mom was a 5 ft. 2 ” fireball most of her life. But she was a smoker, and spent the last decade of her life gasping for air with only one quarter of one lung.  She coughed until she turned blue, and each time we wondered if it would be her last breath. But it wasn’t  until she fell and broke her hip, that she never recovered. Her last words , spoken before going into surgery, after the doctor asked her if she  had dentures out, panties off, etc.  “Yep, I’m as free as a bird.”  Fly free Mom, we miss you.

The earliest photo I have with Mom
The earliest photo I have with Mom
Our family, seated MOm & I standing Dick, Gene, Dad, Don
Our family, seated Mom & I
standing Dick, Gene, Dad, Don
Mom and Dad with their 1st grandchild, my Candy
Mom and Dad with their 1st grandchild, my Candy
Out little family kept growing with baby Dru.
Out little family kept growing with baby Andrew.
Mom in her favorite color
Mom in her favorite color
Mom and brother Don
Mom and brother Don
Mom's "Famous Cake" Every candle with a name "Worlds Best ...."
Mom’s “Famous Cake”

This was just a few of the candles. She had a candle for every member of the family.  The cake was blazing with candles.  Each candle had a different tag. “World’s Greatest ….. ” My son Dru’s , who was 15 said “Andy – World’s Great Break Dancer”.  She had something special for everyone. That is just the kind of person she was.

her happiest time with all her children and grandchildren
her happiest time with all her children and grandchildren
Mom and the grandkids
Mom and the grandkids
Mom. me Candy and first Great Grandchild Chelsea
Mom. me Candy and first Great Grandchild Chelsea
last professional photo
last professional photo
Last photo I have of Mom
Last photo I have of Mom.

Of course,  she was in a red bathrobe.

 

 

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 art, Florida, literture, love, novels, romance, science, writers

Can true love happen twice?

Joh fishwick

Welcome John Fishwick to Author Interview Friday. I love our tag line, “Can true love happen twice?” That is obviously the crux of the story in A Flight to Romance. I must admit that your background does not lend itself to imagine a romantic a heart.    

Well, beneath my background of cold, logical science lies a hot, beating romantic heart.

Okay, LOL, please share your background that led you to writing novels?

I graduated from Liverpool University in England in 1955 with a degree in Geology and Chemistry.  After studying Russian with British Intelligence, I emigrated to Canada , where I worked as a field Geologist looking for nickel deposits and as a Research Chemist for the Uranium industry.

In 1959, I  left Canada for the US , where, after working on a secret project for the US Government, I became a citizen. I published a book and over fifty technical papers and holds several patents.  I started a hi-tech materials company about 35 years ago, which I continue to operate.

I am  a member of the American Ceramic Society and of American Mensa and past president of the Everglades Astronomical Society. I lecture on Astronomy, various Science subjects, and on several items of Topical interest, including Global Warming and Critical Thinking. I lecture at colleges in Florida , North Carolina , and worldwide on various cruise ships.

I live in Naples , Florida during the winter months and in Western North Carolina in the summer with my wife, Nancy.

What Inspired You to Write this Novel?

I am fascinated by everything, except perhaps fashion. And basketball. I would regard it as a distinct honor to be thought of as a polymath. Even a scientist-philosopher.

Following my lectures at Universities, Colleges, and on cruise ships, I am frequently asked if I have a book containing details of the subjects covered in my lectures. So, I began a technical book several years ago based on a visit to various sites in England concerned with Astronomy, Geology, and Evolution. Then my first wife, Barbara, died from cancer and my enthusiasm for writing died with her.

But my fascination with all things scientific remained and I decided, with the encouragement of my second wife, Nancy, to resurrect the book as a novel in which many intriguing aspects of science are interwoven into a conversation between my two protagonists. The lady protagonist-Stephanie-, being a retired teacher of English and a lover of art, brings her knowledge to the discussions and, I believe, gives the reader a break from science and a welcome entrée into the world of literature and art.

An old friend, now deceased, told me that everyone should, in his or her lifetime, plant a tree, have a child, and write a book. I have now accomplished all three.

Do you have any advise for new first-time authors?

I would recommend getting help from someone who   has already been through the writing and publishing process before.   Also, don’t approach another writer until you have done your own homework  and have most of the book already planned and written.

Flight to Romance Fishwick

Would you give me a synopsis of the novel:  A FLIGHT TO ROMANCE?

It was true, she had thought his science trips would be a little tedious, but they were actually quite fascinating, and she was intrigued by his big quest.

Can true love happen twice in a lifetime? Find out in John Fishwick’s debut novel, A Flight to Romance. A thoughtful reflection on everything from art and science to romance and relationships, its raw emotion will captivate even the most casual reader.

Jeremy Rowlands lives a quiet life as an astronomy professor at the University of Florida. When he loses his wife in a car accident, Jeremy leaps at the opportunity to spend three weeks abroad to reevaluate his new role in life.

Meanwhile, Stephanie Marks embarks on a trip to visit the historic homes of famous British authors. As a retired English teacher who lost her husband to cancer, she has finally settled into a resigned solitude.

When Jeremy and Stephanie meet on the same flight, their lively and meaningful conversation sparks something in them both. Their decision to become traveling companions for the remainder of the trip allows their tenuous bond to grow, forcing them both to face a painful question: Is it really possible to fall in love again?

How About a Short Paragraph or Two From the Novel?

Waking surprisingly early in the morning after the previous long day, Stephanie was rewarded with the fine view she had been unable to fully enjoy the night before. Throwing back the covers, she headed to the window and pulled the curtains farther apart. Opening the window, she inhaled the clean morning air. This was not a typical day of rain and cool weather in the Lake District, but a brilliant, clear morning with the lake shimmering in the distance. A number of small boats bobbed next the pontoons to which they were tied. A sprinkling of sailing boats were moored farther out in the lake, and she saw steep peaks in the distance on the far side of the water. “O to be in England / Now that April’s there / And whoever wakes in England / Sees, some morning, unaware,” Stephanie recited. She closed the window, thinking that Robert Browning had it right. She sighed happily, savoring the early morning and imagining the next few hours with Jeremy as they explored the countryside and the homes of William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter.

As she headed to the shower, her thoughts went back to the wonderfully happy days when she taught high school Shakespeare and to the plots of his magnificent plays. She remembered that the starcrossed lovers always encountered a block to romance built by a stubborn father or a family feud. If the block remained, the play ended in death and tragedy; if not, the play was a romance. The third act, she told her students, was a critical point in each play. It foretold the outcome, romance or tragedy.

Fresh with her memories, she turned off the shower, grabbing a fluffy white towel and then heading into the bedroom. She pulled open the wooden wardrobe. A long mirror on the inside of the door reflected the full length of her body. “Not bad,” she muttered. The slightly dowdy, retired teacher who had mourned for the last few years, was now rested and enjoying life once again. She now felt attractive—and desirable. Selecting an outfit for the day, she smiled and scrutinized herself once again. Aloud, she said told her reflection, “Act 3 is about to begin.”

Where can readers go to get your book?

From Create Space:  http://createspace.com/4410601

On Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/A-Flight-Romance-John-Fishwick/dp/1492921092/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390671677&sr=8-1&keywords=a+flight+to+romance

On Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-flight-to-romance-john-fishwick/1118026627?ean=9781492921097

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

5 time author Pauline Hayton never intended to be a writer

Pauline Hayton

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

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

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

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

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

If you Love Me, Kill Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne: Do you always write in the same genre?

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

Joanne:  Naga Queen changed your life? How so?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I think she’s had a stroke.”

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

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

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

“I don’t know.”

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

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

He looked at me questioningly.

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

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

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

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 books, characters, country, love, novels, romance, sci-fi, writers

Ever want to dance in the Outback? Let S.E Gilchrist take you there.

Sue Gilchrist

Hi Joanne. Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog today. I’m a big fan of Florida, having visited my brother and sister-in-law in the Keys a few times. I hope to get back there someday and do more touring of the US.

A little about me: I’m Australian, live in the beautiful Hunter Valley of NSW and have three wonderful children in their twenties and two dogs. I love bushwalking, kayaking, swimming and am interested in the environment, astronomy/science and animal welfare.

Writing has long been a passion for me, borne from an insatiable love of reading and books.  I also love sci fi, history and fantasy/mythology and longed to read a book which combined both romance and these elements.  So I guess it was a natural progression to end up writing a story that I’d always wanted to read.  In January 2009 I experienced a bit of an epiphany. I decided either take my writing seriously or stop doodling with bits and pieces of stories. I took it seriously, joined writing organizations, attended writing seminars, workshops and bought bookshelves of how-to books.

After starting a couple of contemporary romances, I put them to one side and began a sci fi / space opera romance. This book ended up being 100k words and took around two and a half years to finish. I wrote my first ever love / sex scene in this book, it was my first single title and garnered me my first placement in a writing contest. Legend Beyond the Stars came third in the RWAustralia Emerald Contest in 2011. I also received an awful lot of rejections with this story when I started to submit, I shelved it for a while and went onto write other stories. I re-visited it in July 2012 and did a re-write. That version was then accepted by Escape Publishing (a digital imprint of Harlequin Australia) in September 2012 and was e-published in January 2013.

Since that time, I’ve had two short stories published with Escape Publishing (both continuing on in the Darkon Warriors series), a post-apocalyptic, erotic short story published by Momentum Moonlight (a digital imprint of Pan MacMillan Australia). I’ve also indie published two erotic novellas, both pre-medieval novels with a touch of magic set in Ancient Britain. I’ve recently been awarded a contract for my second, sci fi single title of the Darkon Warriors series, Star Pirate’s Justice, and given a release date of February 2014.

In late October, I indie published my first contemporary rural, Australian romance, Dance in the Outback. I will also indie publish in November a short erotic novella, Storm of Fire, set in a post apocalyptic world.

Dance-in-the-Outback--8.9.13 (2)

As you can see, I don’t restrict my writing to any particular genre. My stories are written in either third person or first person but I’ve never tackled present tense and can’t see myself doing so. The individual stories and the characters tend to dictate the heat levels (hot to sweet / sensual) and also from which perspective I write. I dread writing a synopsis and endure editing. My usual pattern is to start with an idea and then the characters come to me. I’ll write about three chapters, while the time the story is percolating inside my head. Then I sit down and write an outline of the external storyline, do detailed character sheets and GMC’s. I always know how I want the book to end before I start.

For anyone starting on their first manuscript, I recommend join a writing organisation, undertake courses or if dollars are tight, borrow how-to books from your library. I can’t stress how important it is to find like-minded people; I’ve made some wonderful friends through my writing. They’ve provided motivation, inspiration and support and I believe my road to publication would have been a lot longer, and certainly a lot less fun, if I’d never met them.

Thank you very much for joining me here today. I’d like to leave with a short blurb about my current release and an extract which I hope you’ll enjoy.

BLURB: Years ago Melanie Black was rescued from a burning house by her best mate and fellow foster child. When he begs for help, she can’t refuse. Melanie takes off to an Outback cattle station to supervise his children, while her friend and his wife use a second honeymoon to rekindle their romance. Out here, there isn’t a mall in sight. It’s hot and swarms with flies and yet, her soul tells her she has finally come home.

Station owner, Dirk Tanner, can’t believe his eyes when his brother-in-law’s ‘friend’ alights from the plane. She’s far too pretty, distracting and has brought pampered pets with her! Then he recognises her as the do-gooder who gave his ex-wife advice on ‘living her own life’. No way will he allow Melanie to meddle in his sister’s affairs too.

Both soon realize pre-conceptions can be wrong and a near brush with death reveals their true feelings for one another. But will this newly forged love be strong enough to overcome their painful pasts? Or will Melanie’s dream of belonging be reduced to ashes.

Extract from Dance in the Outback © S. E. Gilchrist 2013

Frowning, Dirk stroked his chin as he stared out over the parched land that stretched endlessly to the horizon, paying no attention to the awkward silence that had fallen over their small group. Bloody hell, I’ve still got those fences to check not to mention the homestead bore. He shot an exasperated glance up at the sun now beginning its descent.

“Aunty Melanie, over here,” hollered Tammy in such a high voice she could have been auditioning at the Sydney Opera House.

A dozing black cockatoo rose shrieking from its perch on a large mulga tree beside the runway. The huge bird flapped his long glistening, black wings and circled above their heads displaying the brilliant crimson-red feathers of his under tail.

The mutt in the dog carrier yapped hysterically.

Startled from his ruminations about what could be causing the bore’s engine to misstep and his ears ringing from the racket, Dirk swung back towards the plane.

The pilot was handing down the few steps of the plane, a young woman who exuded an aura of warmth and gentle energy. Dirk noted with disbelief the fatuous look on Tom’s face and the faint noises of encouragement he made to the woman as if she attempted a hazardous climb from the summit of Mount Kosciusko.

Dirk couldn’t blame the young pilot for his obvious interest. Even from this distance, Dirk could see how shapely her legs were beneath the short skirt of her buttery yellow sun-dress fluttering in a teasing dance against her thighs.

His hands fisted involuntarily and he heaved a resigned sigh as Tammy danced off again.

The woman raised her head and directed a sunny smile towards them before turning away.

Unease prickled along the length of Dirk’s spine.

Something about her…no, he must be mistaken. He was certain he’d never met the ‘family friend’ before.

The woman spoke to Tom who then began to enthusiastically haul more luggage from the interior of the plane. Tammy reached her and the woman scooped the young girl into a big hug. Then, hand-in-hand they strolled across the red dirt, faces turned towards each other, chatting as if they had all the time in the world.

“Catherine, how lovely to see you again. And there’s my darling Anabelle,” the woman called out. Her voice as thick and smooth as treacle slid over Dirk’s senses. “Tammy, be a sweetheart and let poor Muffin out of her carrier before she becomes traumatised.”

“Okay, Aunty Melanie.” Tammy ran off to fumble with the latch of the dog carrier.

An unearthly yowl split the air. “Oh poor Mister Gibbs,” crooned the woman bending down. The movement caused her honey blond curls to bounce and glow in the bright sunlight.

With an effort, Dirk wrenched his stare onto the box she carried; another animal carrier.

For the love of…not another pampered pet. My dogs are going to go ape-shit. Dirk directed an irritated glare at the woman. Their eyes met and all the air wheezed from his lungs as he received the shock of his life.

Her.

He stood and gaped, vaguely aware his sister was introducing the ‘family friend’ but the words flowed over him like the background noise of waves on a beach. All he could think of was the last time he’d seen this woman.

Sure, it had been years ago but he’d never forgotten that day — the day that had marked the end of his marriage.

Thank you Suzanne, for your interesting promo of Dance of the Outback and your other works.  Readers,  here are the links for you to buy her books, I know you will want to jump right on that.

LINKS:
Website – http://www.segilchrist.com

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/S-E-Gilchrist/e/B009F6LGXA
Twitter – @SEGilchrist1
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/SEGilchrist
F2F writing group – http://hunterromancewriters.wordpress.com/

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.”