Posted in authors, books, family, food, friends, humor, Indie, readers, real estate, traditions, writers, writing

Recipes and Life: Life is too Short to be Stuck in the Kitchen

It is my great pleasure to introduce Alice Oldsford, author of  Recipes and Life: Life is too Short to be Stuck in the Kitchen.

Alice

Who am I and what do I write?

I wear a variety of hats – wife, mother, grandmother, Realtor, author, herbalist. On reflection I note that those pursuits relate to land use, not as a result of some grand plan, but simply from a conscious connection to the earth we call home.

It is my good fortune to pursue what I love, which is mostly found outdoors, whether walking, gardening or locating the perfect home with a client.

I raised 5 kids in the most self-sustaining environment I could conjure, of home-made and home-grown. My kids remember no one would trade lunches with them because their sandwiches consisted of home-made peanut butter and jelly on home-made whole wheat bread, an adolescent’s version of yucky.

My grandkids look forward to walks in the woods or even the neighborhood seeking traveling gnomes, puzzle rocks and edible wild plants.

And, as for my role as a wife, part of what attracted me to my husband was his love of vegetable gardening.

As a Realtor, I get to help people realize the American dream. Mark Twain said, “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.”

My NJ Trails books:

You Can Get There from Here: Hiking Hunterdon County Trails and the sequel  Hiking NJ Trails – Hunterdon County and Beyond: You Can Get There from Here Too, have been my most fun land use activities yet, sharing my love for the outdoors with folks who want to give it a try.

The NJ trails books are meant to inspire people to enjoy the trails and prepare them for what to expect. It is my contention that knowing what you are likely to encounter enhances the enjoyment. More than maps provide, this book comes from my own perspective and love of the trails.  I have walked each and every trail in all seasons.

When I started to write Recipes and Life: Life is too Short to be Stuck in the Kitchen, I thought “Whoops, how does this book fit in with my love of  nature and the outdoors.” Then I realized it absolutely reflects my passion for home-made and home-grown as well as embracing what Mother Nature has to offer.  In addition, it reflects my desire to get out of the kitchen and embrace the outdoors.

This is my collection of inspirations sprinkled with favorite recipes. My intention is to spark the reader’s imagination and offer practical tips gleaned from a chef and friends/foodies who have shared their recipes and insights. These thoughts confirm for the reader that nutritious and delicious food patterns can be established without dedicating countless hours in the kitchen and outside the fast food forum.  It is a jumping off place for adventures in the kitchen.

Writing Challenges and Finding your Voice

When I was writing my first trail book, which was published in 2009, I found staying on track a bit of a challenge. There are lots of distractions in life, which we all experience.  I remember moaning about “not having time” and one of my sons reminded me we have time to do the things that are priorities for us. I had offered this advice to my children, and now it came back to me. I got back to work and finished the book. If a writer will do something each day, progress is inevitable.

Recipes and Life was about 3 years in the making.  My original vision kept evolving, and I was having trouble finding my voice. Then I moved from NJ to Florida.  Oh my, that literally created some technical difficulties as to gardening in Florida and food mores.  In the end, I decided I needed to tell my readers who I was, where I had come from and how I got into writing this book.  That allowed my voice to come through.

Alice's book

My favorite anecdote/excerpt from Recipes, which actually reveals a lot about me:

Thanksgiving

In the late 60’s when I was a young married woman, we lived in a duplex with a nice backyard and the smallest kitchen I have ever seen – no more than two steps to any appliance or work space. We had a purebred German shepherd named Mingo. I thought it was a good idea to invite the family for Thanksgiving dinner. I think it’s called “Ignorance is bliss.” I was organized and excited to host my first big dinner party.

The day arrived, and the turkey was awaiting the stuffing and roasting. The turkey proved too much of a temptation for Mingo. While I was in a different part of the house, there was quite a commotion in the kitchen. When I arrived, I found Mingo had wrestled the turkey to the floor with the intention of devouring it. I was able to rescue the turkey and banish Mingo to the yard. Now what? With no experience and only my creativity to rely upon, I washed the turkey then took needle and gold thread and sewed up the torn skin. Why gold thread? I reasoned it would blend with the roasted turkey.

The family came and enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner. No one noticed the stitched up skin, and I did not tell the story until sometime later.

Why Self Publishing and Promotion

When I was writing my first trail book, I realized the market was very regional, so publishing options would be limited.  I contacted a couple of small publishers, which were not as prolific in 2009 as they are today.  They were not taking on new titles. I did not feel discouraged, and self-publishing seemed a natural solution. The trail books were never stigmatized as a result of being self-published, and they have done very well in their target market. It helped that I lived in an area where Indie bookstores are embraced.

With “Recipes and Life”, it was just natural to do it my way, so to say. The publishing industry has evolved  since my first book in 2009. Established authors are self-publishing and using small publishers, and that gives credibility to those of us who are newbies, who follow their lead.  Although there are fewer Indie bookstores in this area, Florida does seem to encourage local authors.

When I published my first trail book, a long-time journalist/family newspaper owner in NJ advised me that I would need to rely on myself to get the word out and market my book. His newspaper had done some local publishing, and he disclosed that sales and distribution had less to do with the quality of the book and more to do with the author’s efforts to promote it.  He told me they had boxes of excellent books in the office basement that the author just did not push.

I start with my network, arrange signings and presentations, and ask anyone who might be remotely interested in putting my book on their shelf.  Press releases are often helpful in garnering attention and invitations to present.  I have a website and blog for the trail books.  I am about to create a blog for “Recipes” which will allow followers to share recipes.  I always have books in my car. I ask other authors what they do.  Check out local authors shelves in your favorite book store.

My advice to new writers:  Keep on keeping on!

 “Energy and persistence conquer all things” Benjamin Franklin

My website with links to blogs: http://www.aliceoldford.com/

Thank you Alice. Your humor and zest for life is contagious. This has been fun. Come back to Writing Under Fire sometime soon.

 

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Posted in authors, characters, fiction, friends, history, mystery, non-fiction, novels, readers, writers

Welcome back, author Dan Goldstein to Writing Under Fire

Please help me welcome back, Dan Goldstein, to my weekly Author Interview of the Week. He was a guest on one of my very first posts, as an a good friend and author, I am pleased to have him back. Dan is has written several Indie novels and some children’s stories. His latest book, Wild Bill Hickok, is the true adventure of the famous wild west icon’s last few weeks of his life as portrayed in a journal of his sidekick, Nathan Bernard and passed down to his son, grandson and then to Goldstein.

Joanne:  Do you have a background in writing?

Dan: Not really. Up north before coming to Florida I started writing children stories. When I arrived in Naples I joined an evening class and shortly after, my teacher took me aside and told me she liked the way I did my dialogue and that I should try a novel. I thought she was crazy. Me? Write a novel? But I started one and found that I picked the right topic and the words just flowed out of me. It was an adventure story and now it’s in print and also e-books.

Joanne: Do you always write in the same genre?

Dan: Mostly. I have some great children stories but I prefer to write adventure stories.

Joanne: Why did you choose to go the self-publishing route instead of traditional publishing?

Dan: Now-a-day, I believe that if you’re not a big name writer or you know somebody who knows somebody, or you are extremely lucky, it is rare an agent will touch you. I have also discovered that most publishers won’t touch you without an agent. It feels like a catch-22 situation. I believe that the big publishers are losing out by not representing more local writers.

Joanne: Do I always write in the same POV?

Dan: I tried writing in first person and found it much too difficult. I switched to third person and that was much easier reading and writing.

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

Dan: I find the synopsis the hardest in writing. I tend to get inside the story too much and the synopsis gets too lengthy.

Joanne: Are you a pantser or a planner?

Dan: Not knowing exactly what a pantser is, I assume it is somebody that writes by the seat of his/her pants, while a planner has a good idea what the story is about and plans each step. Actually, I write quite different from most. I start with a title and start the story never knowing what the story is about until I get into it. I also usually put myself into the story and respond as I would to whatever event I’m writing about. I never write an outline or plan any events until they actually arise. I have written six novels this way, and what I have found as my only problem is my English knowledge and building sentences in the correct English. I write as I have learned to speak, mostly while in the streets of Boston. Since writing novels I have found myself correcting other writers in their spelling and use of words. Many times while reading some ‘big named’ writers like Stuart Woods I have said to myself, “this sounds like me writing”.

Amazon link to Hickok novel

Thank you Dan, for taking the time to be my guest on Writing Under Fire.

Goldstein is the author of Wild Bill Hickok – The True Story about his last six weeksBoston / Moscow Connection and Destination: Croatia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nancy Jarvis
Nancy Jarvis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne:  Where can people go to buy your books?

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

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

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

http://www.goodreadmysteries.com/

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

Front-Cover-Nancy Lynn Jarvis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in authors, books, characters, 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, children, family, fiction, friends, love, parents, romance, small towns, writers

Author of the Maverick Junction series visits Writing Under Fire

Today I have the honor of having Lynnette Hallberg, writing as Lynnette Austin, with me on Author Interview Friday. Lynnette has six books already in print, two more scheduled for release and a ninth book in progress. All of this beginning in 2000, with the majority in the last three years. This is one busy woman. Lynnette, it is such a pleasure to have you. I know you must have tons of great advice to share with other writers and avid readers.

Lynnette Austin
Lynnette Austin

First, Joanne, I’d like to tell you how wonderful it is to stop by your blog. Thanks so much for having me. I hope everyone will get comfy, pour a cup of coffee or something cold, and enjoy!

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

Lynette:  In 2000, I sold my first book, Enchanted Evening, to Kensington. Before they could buy the second, though, the line closed. I spent the next nine years writing, writing, writing, and receiving rejection letters—even with an agent. But I kept at it—and have a pile of manuscripts in my basement to prove it.

In 2010, I heard about a fairly new small press—The Wild Rose Press—and published three books with them that year—Moonlight, Motorcycles, and Bad Boys; Night Shadows; and Chantilly Lace and a Pretty Face.

In 2011, I sold Just a Little White Lie to Carina Press, an arm of Harlequin.

Then in 2012, my new agent sold my Maverick Junction series to Grand Central Publishing in New York City. Grand Central is under the umbrella of Hachette Book Group. The first, Somebody Like You, came out last December. The second, Nearest Thing to Heaven, releases October 1st. Can’t Stop Lovin’ You will be out in February. I’m working on the fourth, tentatively titled The Heart Won’t Lie.

I guess the important point here is to never, ever give up on your dream.

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

Lynnette:  The first is simply to write. I know. Basic. But in order to be published, you have to keep that butt in the chair, keep that story moving, and get it finished. Then you need to go back and edit, edit, edit. When you send that baby into an agent or editor, it should be looking its Sunday best.

The second piece of advice would be to persevere. It’s so easy to get discouraged and give up. Don’t. If you really want published, hang with it, listen to advice, use what you can, and discard the rest. Always remember that the story, the voice is yours. You will not fail in your quest for publication until YOU quit trying. Perseverance truly is the keystone to getting and staying published.

I’ll share, too, a piece given to me by another writer, one I think is so important. Someone told me early on to keep in mind that the writing community is actually quite small. Editors and agents move around a lot. Don’t burn your bridges—ever. Always remember this is a profession and behave accordingly. Don’t let your emotions rule.

Okay. A couple more things. J Writing is a habit, kind of like exercise. Train yourself to grab spare minutes rather than waiting for those huge blocks of time. When I was still teaching, I’d get up at four-thirty or five in the morning so I could write for an hour or so before getting ready for school. When I came home, I’d write for half an hour before starting dinner. It’s often about making time and setting expectations.

Keep writing—every day—and keep the story moving forward. Don’t worry about getting every word, every scene perfect the first time through. So many new writers work and rework those first few chapters, polishing them until they shine. That won’t get the book completed. Chances are, by the time you do finish, you’ll have to go back and edit those first chapters again anyway because by then you’ll know your characters inside and out. You’ll know what they’d do and how they’d react so much better than you did when you started that manuscript. Don’t waste time striving for perfection on the first draft.

Keep in mind, too, that yes, your manuscript is your baby. Yes, you’ve poured your heart and soul into it. Yes, you’re deathly afraid an agent or editor might say something bad about that baby. If you don’t submit, though, you won’t sell. That’s one of the few guarantees in this business.

Joanne:  What is the biggest mistake you made early in your career?

Lynnette: I think the biggest mistake I made was in not following up when an editor sent a rejection letter asking to see my manuscript again after specific rewrite suggestions. I made the rookie mistake of assuming that was simply her way of letting me down easy, and that’s so not true. If an editor takes the time to give you suggestions and asks to see it again after you’ve made them, he or she is serious. Editors—and agents—have way too much work to do to spend time on a manuscript that doesn’t show promise for their line.

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

Lynnette:  Nearest Thing To Heaven is the second in my Maverick Junction series and, at heart, it’s a story about being given a second chance at love.

Maverick Junction, Texas, is kind of the quintessential small town, full of quirky characters and neighbors who watch out for each other, who take care of each other. I love writing small towns. There’s a flavor to them that can only exist there. Maverick Junction is a blend of every small town I’ve ever been in. I swear, after spending three books, and now working on a fourth, in this Texas town, I know it as well as I do my small hometown in Pennsylvania. Maverick Junction—and its people—have become very real to me.

With the holiday season fast approaching. Sophie London finds herself back in Maverick Junction for her cousin’s wedding to Cash Hardeman and runs headlong into Ty Rawlins, the widowed father of rambunctious triplets. Sophie, owner of Stardust Productions, believes in fairies and magic. Long-horned cattle, wide-open spaces, and four-year-olds with fishing worms dangling from their poles are enough to make any city girl run all the way back to Illinois in her Jimmy Choos. Ty, busy with the day-to-day duties as single daddy and owner of the Burnt Fork Ranch, has no time for romance. He’s had love and lost it. Yet he finds himself thinking of Sophie night and day. Can Ty convince both himself and Sophie that Maverick Junction is where she belongs, right beside him and his boys?

Nearest Thing to Heaven

Nearest Thing To Heaven will be released October 1st. It’s currently available for preorder on both Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Nearest-Heaven-Maverick-Junction-ebook/dp/B00A2DONIU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377959365&sr=8-1&keywords=nearest+thing+to+heaven

and Barnes and Noble:   http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/nearest-thing-to-heaven-lynnette-austin/1113742241?ean=9781455528387

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

 

Nearest Thing To Heaven

Ty Rawlins banged around in his kitchen, feeling more than a little frayed along the edges. Things weren’t going well. He glanced at the clock, then did a double take. The thing was practically sideways on the wall. Twelve o’clock settled somewhere around the spot where two o’clock should be. One of the triplets must have whacked it with a sword during last night’s duel to the death.

Guess he’d have to hang it higher.

He should have let one of the hands finish up the horse feeding so he’d have enough time for the kid feeding. Somehow, time was something he never had enough of.

Okay, so he was a single parent. All across America, single moms managed to take care of the kids, the house, and hold down a job. If they could do it, he sure as hell ought to be able to.

And now he had to go to this damn dinner tonight. He dropped a spoon into the far-from-empty sink. It wasn’t that he wasn’t happy for Cash and Annie. He was. But it stirred up memories he didn’t want to visit. Memories of far happier times now gone. Forever.

A crash sounded from somewhere in the vicinity of the living room.

“Uh-oh. Daddy’s going to be mad.”

That would be Jonah, Ty thought. The conscience of the trio.

“It was your fault.”

Jesse, the finger-pointer.

Ty set the pan of over-cooked spaghetti on a hot pad and strode off to the front of the house to check out the latest damage. He took a deep breath and surveyed the mess. Nobody was hurt. No blood anywhere. And Josh was right. Nothing was broken. In the grand scheme of things, this was a minor bump. A mere blip on the uh-oh meter.

Again, thanks so much for having me today! It’s been fun! Please come visit me at http://www.authorlynnetteaustin.com. Nearest Thing to Heaven, along with Somebody Like You, may be purchased through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. My earlier books are published under Lynnette Hallberg.

Posted in writers

Author Interview Friday invites Janina Chung

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Please help me welcome Janina Stankiewicz Chung to this week’s Author Interview. I first met Janina when she spoke at our local writers group, the Marco Island Writers about her book, Far East of the Sun in April. Her novel is heart wrenching and informative about her family that were displaced during World War II.

Janina Stankiewicz Chung was born in Belarus in 1938, and came to the United States with her family through the Displaced Persons Resettlement Program in 1951. Far East Of The Sun, her first novel, explores another side of World War II, that of the displaced person. Janina and her family endured thirteen years of life under Communist oppression in Russia, forced relocation to Hitler s Germany and its hellish concentration camps, and the confusion of postwar displaced persons camps. As a mother of four, with four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, Janina thanks God everyday for my mother and father. They had the vision and endurance to bring us to freedom and opportunity that my family and my sibling’s families now enjoy.

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

Janina: I have always had the aspirations to write. With my mother’s passing at age 93, the story of my family’s life needed to be told. Fortunately for me, I was an avid reader throughout my life so that fact alone helped me to get started.

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

Janina: I don’t have any writing experience or training. I hired an editor to work with me. As I was writing, the editor edited my manuscripts and mentored me.

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

Janina: It took almost two years.

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

Janina: My book is published through a traditional publisher. Getting a book published is not an easy task. First you have to find an agent to represent you. Then an agent does the leg work, getting the manuscript to the publishers. I sent out my manuscript to numerous agents, all turned me down due to work load so big, that they couldn’t take on additional projects. “That was their excuse.” Publishing companies won’t talk to you without an agent. So….my editor opened her own small publishing company and a year and a half later, my book was the first she published.

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?

Janina: If you are not with a “big time publisher,” to start the money rolling in, it takes a lot of leg work. You can’t expect to see any money for a long while. Most of my marketing has been through speaking engagements and book signings. It is one way to reach the reader, “on one-on-one” basis. Other promotional techniques are through the internet blogging, sales through a variety of different websites such as Kindle, Ebook and Amazon.

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

Janina:  Discipline and concentration. Be consumed with your story. Don’t take too much time away from your desk. Your story should be fresh on your mind at all times.

Joanne: Are you currently working on a new manuscript? If so, can you give a sneak peek into the premise of your story?

Janina: Yes, I am working on a new manuscript. It is based on my life.

Thank you Janina for being a part of Writing Under Fire.  Readers, you may purchase her novel, Far East of the Sun by going to www.reededwards.com.

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Now readers, please enjoy a sneak peek into the first page of Far East of the Sun

Chapter One

1938

 

Sasha’s cheeks were red: lips chapped, pressed tightly together were turning blue from the bitter cold wind. Wisps of wet, blonde hair escaped from the rough handmade cap, formed small icicles on his forehead that melted against his skin like teardrops. Intense cornflower blue eyes full of despair squinted through snow-covered eyelashes, searching for the winding road buried under a foot of falling snow.

Pine trees, tall and majestic with branches covered in snow and ice, hung low with long icicles that reached out like fingers against the passing sled, like sentries protecting the occupants from the howling wind and blowing drifts.

Sasha was perched on the small front seat of the sled. His muscular arms strained, as he pulled on the reins, guiding the tired mare in the right direction on the once visible dirt road. Wild-eyed with fear, the mare whinnied, blowing puffs of steam from her nose, she desperately, shook her head to rid the snow off her long mane which blinded her vision. Her hooves slid on ice, causing her to stumble, threatening to overturn the precious cargo inside.

“Whoa! Szarna…Pomaludku. Whoa! Szarna… Easy now,” in a raspy voice barely audible to her ears, Sasha tried to soothe the skittish mare.

Huddled in the back of the sled was his wife Anya. Gripping the sides with frozen numb fingers, she tried to shield herself with wet threadbare blankets from the falling snow.

Agonizing moans muffled by the wind reached Sasha. Anya moaned again. This time, long, deep, guttural. Each bump of the sled was like a knife stabbing her back, causing a new contraction, each one more intense. Her deep blue eyes, brimming with tears, were full of terror. Gasping with dry lips, she prayed: Hospudzi Pomarzy Nam….Hospudzi Pa Miluj Nas…God help us….God love us, let this child be born safely. Anya took a deep breath and closed her eyes before the next contraction ripped through her.

I must find shelter soon….or we will perish….Hospudzi…Pomarzy nam….God…. Oh, God….Help us!…I have to find a way out of this whiteness. Sasha’s thoughts echoed his wife’s plea. He was lost and desperate.

 

Posted in writers

R is for Read

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Reading is my favorite hobby. When life is stressed, I read a book. When life is relaxed, I read a book. Pulling just a few of my favorite quotes about reading, I will share them with my comments.

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“A good book on your shelf is a friend that turns its back on you and remains a friend.”  ~Author Unknown

                So true. And it doesn’t get mad if I ignore it for a few years. I am a re-reader and eventually come to re-read my all-time favorites. They always welcome me back, no matter how long I have been gone.

“A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.”  ~Edward P. Morgan

                Without books, so many subjects would have gone unexplored. Things I didn’t even know I was interested in have expanded my horizons. All because of books.

The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it.  ~James Bryce

                Through books, everyone can learn a new skill, become a better person, learn to love.

“Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.”  ~Author Unknown

                This is my favorite quote. I am blessed with many friends, but books can take me to another life like no person can.

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What is your all-time favorite book? Mine is Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosna.