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

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

Blueberry Falls. Carol Kusnierek

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the premise of Blueberry Falls in Love?

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

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

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

“Cody, it’s been a lovely evening—”

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

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

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

 ********

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where can readers buy your book?

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

Can you share a little from the  book?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sure.”

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

“I think you should sit down, Beth.”

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

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

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

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

Petey looked up, his eyes also wet.

“He’s gone.”

Posted in authors, 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 authors, books, characters, Florida, writers

Streets by W.C. Highfield

W.C. Highfield photo

Welcome, W.C. Highfield to Author Interview Friday.  Highfield is a graduate of the University of Delaware and also a native of The First State. After a decade of employment in the moving and storage industry, he embarked on a twenty-year run of ownership of a residential and commercial painting business. In 2006, he moved to Fort Myers.

Since 2007, he has written numerous articles for the Island Sand Paper, a weekly on Fort Myers Beach. He also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of   Stay Alive….Just Drive, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. He is a member of Gulf Coast Writers Association.

Sports have always been a big part of his life. Baseball was tops from an early age, and culminated with playing ten years in the Delaware Semi-Pro League. Later, he picked up the running bug and participated in hundreds of road races ranging from 5Ks to half-marathons.  He continues to take part in various forms of physical activity, and endeavors to enjoy outdoor life.

W.C., do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

In the 1990s I had a desire to write children’s stories. I successfully completed a Special Publishing course from the Institute of Children’s Literature. Shortly thereafter, I decided I would rather write for adult audiences. In early 2000, I self-published my first novel, In Sun Down Far. The novel is set in a fictitious Southwest Florida beach town that I modeled after Fort Myers Beach. The story is a slice of life about a group of friends and their interactions. Emotions escalate as the story goes on.

in-sun-down-far- highfield

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

I prefer to write exclusively in first person. It allows me to sink myself inside the skin of the narrator and, essentially, act out his character. In this way, the narrator can express his thoughts and feelings personally to the reader. The reader doesn’t know what the other characters are thinking, only what they say and do. I like the way it creates a one-on-one relationship with the reader.

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

I think it is important to capture random thoughts on paper, even if they are unrelated bits and pieces. The organization of these diverse ideas can come later. Plus, what seems to work for me is to just start writing from these notes, whether it turns out good or bad. I find it is much easier to come back later to pick and chose what you like from your writing—and what you don’t. When something is in black and white, and not just in your head, it is less demanding to edit it than to write it in the first place. I find that editing is at least fifty percent of writing.

streets- book  Highfield

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

My most recent novel, Streets, is set in Key West. The main character is thirty, and has lived on the streets of Key West for many years. His life is transformed by a series of unusual, out-of-the-ordinary experiences. We are not talking about typical Key West experiences here. These odd occurrences slowly start to have a positive impact on his life. I wanted to deal with the issue of homelessness, but I didn’t want the book to be negative or depressing. So I took a quirky approach to a serious subject and made the story go in a more uplifting direction.

Can you share a small sample from your book to whet our appetite?

One creative way to cool off when it’s really hot is to walk up and down Duval Street and slow down in front of the entrances to the stores. Most of them have the doors open, which allows the air conditioning from inside to pour out onto the sidewalk. When your appearance is one of a street person, you can’t loiter for too awful long, though. You’ll quickly get chased by store management. Our types can easily have the tendency to discourage the purchasing public from shopping at a place that looks like a deadbeat hangout. That would be especially true at one of the swanky-ass art galleries. They really crank the air conditioning, which is nice. But the clientele the galleries are catering to needn’t have to rub elbows with a street dweller. Management at those joints keeps us moving on down the sidewalk.

Do you have another manuscript in progress?

Yes, Joanne, I am in the process of putting the finishing touches on my third novel. It is scheduled to be out in November. The book is entitled, Sanibel’s Secret Bank. The bank is evil and ruthless. And it is very powerful in the international banking industry. This is not your typical neighborhood bank. The residents of Sanibel are not aware the bank even exists because it is camouflaged in the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. There is a nepotism requirement for employment. In this way, the secret is kept protected more easily. But several of the younger employees are outraged by the cruel and brutal actions of the bank, to the point where they are driven to bring it down.

W.C Highfield’s website is  http://www.wchighfield.com/

His author page on Amazon is  http://www.amazon.com/W.C.-Highfield/e/B00424KLKO

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

The Writing Process Blog Tour

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

http://pattycampbellauthor.blogspot.com

PattyWebsitephoto

My answers to the four questions:

1.  What am I working on?

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

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

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

3.  Why do I write what I do?

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

4.  How does my individual writing process work?

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

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

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

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

Lg cover from Creat Space      Town Without  Mercy 2.27.14

 

Posted in authors, books, characters, Florida, writers

Rare Ghosts in the Everglades inspire D.K. Christi

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWelcome D.K. Christi M. Ed., CWDP Consultant, Speaker, Author & Journalist. She is a member of the Authors Guild and Naples Press Club. She is a feature writer for  Spotlight Magazine.  http;//members.authorsguild.net/dkchristi/ . She  has so many credentials, I am not even sure what they all mean. LOL

Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way? I started out planning a career for radio or television news.

I majored in English and wrote curriculum for universities and state education departments. I was an editor for an international CPA firm, a grant-writer, a technical manual writer and contributed articles to professional journals. In my spare time, I wrote fiction stories, kept a diary and started writing my first novel while sailing in the Caribbean for three years. I spent many years working and traveling abroad which I feel provided my best background for writing.

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

I have remained with small presses finding the search for an agent grueling, time consuming and perhaps a lot of work with little return. Many middle range authors with major publishers do no better than popular authors with small presses and even self-published. EBooks and self-publishing are changing the landscape and the publishing industry itself is in flux. The best route may differ for each author.

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

My writing lives in the first person, present that is a hard sell to publishers. Thus, the most difficult part was putting my stories into third person, past tense. Actual events inspire my plot that builds through additional fiction events, places and characters. None of the writing is difficult. Edits, queries, and marketing are the major challenges.

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?

I’ve become quite proficient with social media and Authors Guild membership includes a great web site builder for members. My best marketing comes from the pre-press for signings, and speaking at events. Bloggers and reviewers are great for Internet exposure. I have joined everything to join for exposure and used many sales promotions. I believe, however, the best technique is knowing a celebrity and having a national platform.

What inspires you to keep writing when you’re feeling down or less confident than usual?

Writing is a business. There are no down times. I also write for newspapers and magazines with deadlines and interviews to fulfill. Southwest Spotlight News Magazines in print and online http://www.swspotlight.com carry my Our Best Friends (dogs) column and five or more feature articles each month in two editions, twice monthly. I also write for Examiner.

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

Write a page a day. In one year 365 pages will be ready to edit. Skip no days. Build a contact base and a platform ready for promoting the finished work. Join a critique group and writing organizations for fine tuning and networking.

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

More edits and more attention to dialogue. In the future, I will think about the novel as a piece for television with scenes and a director. I started as a story teller. Today’s readers don’t want a story told to them, they wish to see it come to life with little background and all action. I was schooled in the classics and enjoy long passages of beautiful prose. Today’s readers don’t have patience for all that background and appreciation for language.

Why do you write? Give us three reasons.

I write to release the tension from all the things I think about and experience and need to put somewhere beyond my brain. Then I write to entertain a reader and bring them into the world I know. In the end, I write because I am a person of words and they simply flow. My art is the story. I am addicted to writing and lost without a pen or a keyboard.

What’s your next big writing challenge?

My next big writing challenge is to finish Bamboo Rings, Caribbean Odyssey and an anthology of my short stories.

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

The rare and endangered “Super Ghost” of Blair Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is mystical and magical as it touches the lives of all who observe its ghostly beauty and changes them forever. Neev found the roots for which she hungered at the ghost orchid while searching as a photographer for the perfect subject in the perfect light and the answer to the question: Is love eternal? Ghost Orchid was inspired by the real “Super Ghost” orchid plant that bloomed on my birthday in July 2007 and broke every wild ghost orchid record since. I am personally obsessed with its mystery and beauty and incorporated that obsession into a fiction mystery of love, lies and redemption set in the Everglades. NPR Reviews praised Ghost Orchid for the beauty of the Everglades that shines through on every page.

www.swpotlight.com

http://www.dkchristi.webs.com

http://www.amazon.com/D.K.-Christi/e/B002BLQG4A/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Ghost Orchid by D. K. Christi

Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to whet our appetite? (if so, please copy and paste here –no more than one page.

Excerpt:

These were her friends, her companions during her afternoon walks. She spoke with them as though they would respond to her inquiries.

She stopped; and the two of them simply stared at each other. She began her journey again, walking slowly down the path. Glancing back, she saw the owl surreptitiously following her with its head moving around on its perfectly still body, the eyes glued on her, piercing and watchful.

After she passed, she heard another owl calling “Whoooooo?” from deep in the swamp; and she recognized her owl answering. She smiled and commented to the quiet vastness of the swamp,

“Ah hah, so you have a mate.”

The little anoles were every color on this day, black and brown and green. One day she saw one actually changing color, mesmerized by the miracle. Another squirrel decided to join her. They were the least timid, apparently enjoying the company of those who walked along the boardwalk. A bright red flower, all by itself, surrounded by gigantic ferns and alligator flags, five large, red petals on a tall, too-thin stem, bobbing a little in the swamp breeze, a swamp hibiscus, seemed to say,

“See, I am still here.”

Paper white blooms and a white swamp lily or two were also dressed in their finest. The more she looked, the more flowers she saw. The purple morning glories were still partially open. Tall ferns, reminiscent of the age of dinosaurs, rose from the dry swamp floor, surrounded by other broad leaf, alligator plants, trying to catch a little dew and a wisp of sunshine. The mysteries of the swamp were like a well in a story she loved, beautiful because they were initially hidden, just waiting for the right conditions for their dramatic entrance. Some pine tree seeds only opened after a fire cleared the way, dormant for years. Thus, the Everglades were always beautiful for two reasons: the obvious beauty and the mysteries left to the imagination, waiting to burst forth in the future.

The swamp was the coolest place she knew this time of year. Even on the hottest and most humid day, a little swamp breeze wafted through the trees, rustled the dry leaves and cooled the sweat on her face and arms. Her hat acted like a sweatband, stopping the salty, pooling drops from slipping down her forehead and into her eyes. She loved the winding boardwalk where she threw her shoulders back, looked up into the green canopy overhead that provided some shade and did not miss a step on her brisk walk. She breathed in the oxygen, knowing her lungs were saying “thank you” with every step.

One thing she knew about walking in the swamp: she did not cry. An overwhelming sense of peace filled her heart to overflowing with joy from the first step into its wonders until the last step out. Tears were for lonely automobiles, the back of the church, the empty rooms. She knew that her Creator who made this swamp such a beautiful and serene place where nature lived in harmony according to its predestined imprint had done no less for her. In the swamp, she felt her God filling the void in her soul; and she was at peace. This walk was the highlight of her day, a raison d’être for the long drive to a job that lost its spark with an accumulation of career disappointments. The swamp was never disappointing.

Thunder began as a rumble in the distance but rolled forward with loud crashes. Lightning soon followed all across the sky, long, jagged lines of white light connecting the growing cumulus clouds with the earth. These bolts of lightning were frightening this time of year. They started the unmanageable fires in the swamplands that filled the air with acrid smoke and threatened the homes of those who ventured too far into the wilderness. The heavy wind howled through the cypress; and heavy rains broke through the canopy, dancing on the wide alligator fronds and turning the moss covered walk to “swamp ice.” Her hat had a bill, and the initial drops simply glanced off the hat as she quickened her step. She enjoyed the warm, summer rain. She did not like the lightning. The air was alive with the crackling lightning, and she counted in her mind’s eye how far it was to the next protected area where she could wait under a shelter until the lightning subsided and the rain diminished. She was noticeably wet, her blouse clung revealingly to her skin, and the cool dampness became a bit uncomfortable.

Just as quickly as the storm arrived, it passed away. The sun returned in all its hot glory; diamonds glistened on the broad, deep green fronds and cool drops still fell from the canopy overhead. She was cool and wet, but she would dry sufficiently by the time the walk ended so she could return to work with no one knowing she came through a storm. Her recent hairstyle was straight with short bangs cut across her forehead. She wore little makeup to wash away in the rain. The main disaster was the shoes. The damp leather soles sloshed through the rain, gingerly traversing the slick pine needles, and they might separate from the straps. This happened before. The swamp was the dividing line between before and after.

Before, she talked for the entire walk with the man who resided in her heart. She shared the serenity, the pure joy of this special place that meant so much to her. In spite of the “no cell phone rule,” she was eager for his calls that he actually timed for her walks in the swamp. Perhaps for him it meant she had private time to chat, away from the office, just the two of them. She found a bench off the beaten path to be away from the occasional patrons who might give her the evil eye for whispering into a cell phone.

A radiant smile filled her face the whole time, heart racing, heat rising. He had that power over her. He was “the one,” the soul mate for whom nothing was sacrosanct, except for her painful secret that was buried too deep to reveal. They were of one mind and heart, and her very essence with all its greatness and its flaws was safe with him. He would do her no more harm. As soon as their conversations ended, she thought about all the things she should have said or chided herself for talking too much, being too eager to share every thought with him to make up for all the years of separation.

“Maybe I should have held back a few more secrets,” she thought in the painful time that came after.

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

Bamboo Rings is under contract to Black Rose Writing, the first novel in the Bamboo Rings series that includes Ghost Orchid, already published, as the third novel. Bamboo Rings provides back story for the characters Mel and Jack briefly mentioned in Ghost Orchid. Bamboo Rings is an international adventure to exotic foreign locations woven together with a love story that begins in the Orient in the 1970’s.

Thank you D.K. It has been  real pleasure too have you on my blog. Best of luck with your newest book and the series.

 

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

Cheryl Abney writes Middle-Grade Historical Fiction

cheryl abney

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

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

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

 

 The_Bone_Field_Myste_Cover_for_Kindle Cheryl Abney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you a pantser or a planner?

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

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

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

What inspired you to write your first book?

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

How did you come up with the title?

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

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

How much of the book is realistic?

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

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

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

What book are you reading now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Her website:  www.BelleoftheGladesBooks.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in authors, books, characters, fiction, friends, humor, Indie, mystery, novels, womens fiction, writers, writing

Shannon Danford writes “Mystery Blues”

Shannon Danford

Welcome Shannon Danford to Author Interview Friday. I have met Shannon twice now in author events such as Marco Island’s AuthorFest. It is a pleasure to have her on my blog today.

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

Some of my earliest memories are of my parents reading to me, reading whatever they happened to be reading.  Not surprisingly, I became intrigued with the magic of the written word.  Then, in the fourth grade, my teacher published some of her students’ stories and after seeing my story in ink, I knew writing was in my future.   That future turned into a circuitous journey that ultimately provided the stories that needed a voice.   I saw my first book in print at age 49.  It’s been a long road.

I know the feeling.  Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication?

I have an undergraduate degree in marketing, so I have a basic understanding of the pipeline from creator to end user.   And since I’m not a fan of traditional marketing, I’m employing a strategy that makes more sense to me – place a high value on creativity throughout the product cycle; it keeps things fresh and authentic.  To that end, I think the wordsmith/creator has to reinvent herself to adapt to a new literary world where she has to escort the book from concept all the way to the end reader and employ her creativity in ways that defy traditional marketing.  At this point, if a major press became interested in my books, I don’t think I’d sell out the flow and process I’ve forged.  I like being a rebel.

What does finding your “Voice” mean to you?

I think part of the human experience is coming to understand your authentic self which naturally includes the discovery of your own voice.  Whether you play an instrument, dance, cook, paint or write, that spark that animates us wants to be known.  For me it happened while working in a nursing facility.  Watching people die (often without any family around) and handling things like adult briefs that no one wants to touch, takes a toll on you.  To get through the day, I started imagining I was on the set of a sitcom.  If I didn’t figure out how to laugh about my situation, I would be too depressed to function.   That humorous perspective allowed me to survive and ultimately flourish.   Back then, finding my voice was liberating.  Today, writing in that voice keeps me grounded.

What was  your biggest challenge in learning to write or in the industry?

For me, the hardest part of writing is changing hats from writer to editor, to publicist, to publisher, to marketer.  But the literary world is in flux and I believe to survive it, one must adapt.  On a positive note, I have to think that with every book the obstacle course gets more familiar and easier.  I look forward to the day when I can take off my training wheels.

Do you have any advice for new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Believe that you can’t fail.  You are the only person who can speak in this voice; you have a story to tell.  The only way you can lose is to stop writing!  When you have a finished manuscript, get as many people to read it as possible and listen to their feedback with an open mind.  Then buy the best editing you can afford.

Complete this sentence……. My favorite place to write is …..

My favorite place to write is at my desk with a cup of coffee on my right and a lighted fragrant candle on my left.  Celtic music plays in the background and it is raining outside.  Ahhhh

What’s your next big writing challenge?

Everything I’ve written to date has been humorous and I plan to continue in that genre for at least two more books; however, my sister writes screenplays and encouraged me to give that a try.  So I’m working on a story that is told largely through pictures.  It is a challenge that I think will help sharpen my dialogue skills and allow me to explore another writing medium.  Beyond that, I’ll go where the muse leads.

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

This excerpt is from my third book in the blues series – Chinese Takeout Blues.

“What the hell is this?” Bucky knelt down and picked up the script. He began to read the questions out loud. When he looked up, Bucky’s mouth hung open, unhinged; his eyes were black pinpoints of malice.

Mo collected the rest of the pages and tucked them away. Then he stood and faced his colleague. “I would like to say I’m sorry, but I’m not, Bucky. You don’t deserve to serve the people of this county.”

Fern made no move to turn off the camera when she left the sound booth. Hiram followed behind and they entered the chamber where the two commissioners were still facing off.

“You did this!” Bucky shook the paper at Fern, spittle flying from his mouth.

Fern nodded. “Yes. I had to do something before you hurt anyone else.”

Bucky stormed toward her full of enmity and rage. “Are you trying to shake me down?” He drew up to within a foot of Fern and stood, nostrils flaring with each breath, oblivious to the fact that his entire comb-over hung free, dangling from his barren pate down to his shoulder like a threadbare beret. Buell closed the gap between them to inches. “This is setup!” He held the script under her chin and then released it. It floated harmlessly to the ground.

“No, sir, this is justice.” Fern said the first words that came to her. She stood toe-to-toe with the man, daring him to push her further. Buell flinched first, turning to the sound of the chamber doors opening. After several very tense seconds, all of which were being recorded, Fern knelt and picked up the paper, turned on her heel, and left him seething in his Kenneth Cole loafers.

Thank you Shannon.  Where can readers buy Chinese Takeout Blues or your other “Blues” mysteries?

To purchase my books at the best price, go to my website:  www.mamasluckymojo.com

There are also available on Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=Shannon%20Danford&search-alias=books

 

Posted in authors, books, characters, coming of age, editing, fiction, KIndle, novels, proof reading, writers, Young Adult

Young Adult Novelist and Editor, Sarah Towne

Sarah Towne

Sarah walked in to Marco Island Writers and stole everyone’s heart.  She is a breath of fresh air among most of us grey haired (if we were honest – only L’Oreal knows for sure.) To my great surprise, Sarah was anything but a novice.  Tell the readers a little of your background.

Sure. When I was an undergrad, I took several creative writing courses. I took two or three poetry classes, one fiction, and one creative nonfiction course. I majored in English and had a creative writing minor. After undergrad, I earned my Master in Fine Arts in Creative Writing. I took two years of creative writing courses and finished my degree by writing a thesis that was a full-length book. My first book, The Other Summer Girl, was not my thesis but I did get started on it while in grad school.

The Other Summer Girl - no cover

How long did it take you to write The Other Summer Girl?

From first starting the book to pressing Publish on Amazon, it took about a year and a half – I wrote the first 60 or so pages while I’m grad school, took almost exactly a year off from writing The Other Summer Girl, and then finishing writing and editing in six months.

Tell us aboutThe Other Summer Girl.

If I could say which shelf in the bookstore my book would appear, I’d have to say Young Adult. Some might consider this YA Romance, some might say just YA, and others might consider it New Adult (NA) because the protagonist is a freshman in college.

I do think that my book would speak most to a YA audience because I feel like it speaks to the issues a freshman might experience – homesickness, social anxiety, love, being in a new place, growing up and so on. When you’re a freshman in college, you are technically a new adult but I think there’s a blurred line between this YA/NA genre labeling. Melanie Collier, the main character in The Other Summer Girl, is very much a young adult – yes, an older young adult but still a young adult – when she enters college. Her naïveté and social hesitations make her a character that I think a lot of high school students could look to and get an idea of what college is like – I wish there had been a book like mine or like Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl when I was freaking out about leaving home and being in a whole new town. It is my hope that the YA audience will connect with Melanie on some level and be able to go on this college journey with her. I am working on the sequel, The Fall Of Us (working title), that will be out by late summer.

Let’s talk about writing  style. Do you always right in the same POV?

I started writing The Other Summer Girl in 1st person and discovered that I wanted the story to be told with more uninhibited  observation, so I moved it to 3rd person past tense. I felt like 1st person, especially in present tense, didn’t offer the reflective distance I was looking for the main character to have. I also feel like the 3rd person/past tense gives the story the feel that the character can make it through her social struggles in the end and that there is a summer after that first year to regroup and grow and move forward.

I sometimes write poetry in 1st person, and I think I will experiment with 1st person in future novels. But for now I like the 3rd person POV.

Sarah, what makes you tick? In other words, why do you write?

I write for many reasons but if I had to choose I would say because there’s something about it that fulfills me. When write a sentence or paragraph or scene of dialogue that just clicks and reflects exactly what the feeling is for that moment, it makes me happy and I hope that others can gain something from my story if it’s something as simple (and amazing) as just enjoying the story.

My favorite place to write is anywhere that serves fresh coffee and a has large windows. But there are those nights, especially when I was finishing The Other Summer Girl, I wrote on my big comfy couch with my laptop into the early hours of the morning. I also have to play music while I write – there’s something about it that makes the writing flow easier.

I hope you all will check out my debut novel, The Other Summer Girl, available for 99 cents on Amazon. If you want to learn more about the book and read some of my blog posts, head on over to my website: sarahdtowne.com

In addition to writing, I am also an editor. I co-founded E&E Literary Services with my mom; we work with writers on developmental editing, copyediting, and proofreading. We also have been beta readers and can help you with your social media creation and management. If you would like more information, you can visit our website eeliteraryservices.com or email us ateeliteraryservices@gmail.com

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

T.M. Jacobs presents SW Florida History

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

Bitter Secrets by Patty Brant

Patti Brant

Today we have my friend with us on Author Interview Friday. I first met Patty last year at a book event in Mt. Dora and had the privilege of spending some time getting to know her.  Welcome Patty.  Why don’t you tell the readers how you got started in writing.

I always enjoyed writing but I never did anything about it until I went to work for the Caloosa Belle, local newspaper in LaBelle. That was in 1985 – so I’ve done a lot or writing since then, all with a journalistic approach. There were times when I thought “Wouldn’t it be great to write a book?” That was followed immediately by “You’ve got to know something to write a book!” So that was always the end of it.

A lot of people could relate to that. The hard part is pushing past that.

It wasn’t till about ten years ago that I seriously thought I could do it. That’s when an idea hit me for a story. I was just driving home, nothing on my mind in particular. Then it was like someone opened up my head and dropped the words “I see faces” into my head. I thought, “You could write a story around those three works. Heck, you could write a whole book around just those three words.

So for the next couple weeks I was thinking about who these faces might be; what their circumstances were; Where in time they were as well as place. It became a mental exercise. When I wasn’t thinking about something else, I was building my little framework for these faces. I actually had the first several paragraphs in my head when I thought I should probably get them down in writing, and it all just grew from there.

They say there is a story inside all of us. Did you have any friends or mentors to help you?

I happened to know a very wonderful published writer named Barbara Oehlbeck who had written a book on roses, one on the sabal palm tree and many poems. A couple of years ago she wrote a wonderful memoir called Mama; Root, Hog, or Die. Barbara had always been very complimentary of my writing and even asked me once if I ever thought of writing a book!

I showed her what I had and she was very supportive. Every so often I’d show her what more I’d done and she would encourage me to keep going.

Finally, I had it done – but I finally finished my first book, Bitter Secrets, a mystery about a missing family with an otherworldly twist.  It took me at least three years – probably more.  I write off and on when I have the time. I can write all day, all night and all day again, but I have to be alone and have quiet. That just doesn’t happen.

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

Just with the newspaper – 29 years now. I have an AA degree in liberal arts and did well in writing classes there. Funny, though, I went to Catholic schools for 12 years – starting elementary school in 1955. I can still remember things the nuns said about writing.

What else can you tell us about yourself?

I’m from Canton, Ohio. Lived in Virginia Beach for two years (my husband was in the Navy at the time), moved to Florida (my husband’s home) in 1969. My husband was in law enforcement for 40 years. He’s retired now and keeps wondering when I’m going to retire.

We have two grown daughters, a son-in-law, and three grandchildren.

Do you always write in the same genre?

Not sure how to answer that, but I think so – so far anyway. I’m putting the finishing touches on my second book now – Full Circle – which is a sequel to Bitter Secrets. It’s a little different, though. The mystery of what happened to the Parker Family has been solved, of course, and Full Circle picks up the lives of my protagonist and several other characters from that point. There is another mystery to solve and other threads in this new story as well.

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

Both my books are in first person. I chose that originally because everything I write for the paper is in third person, so I figured it might be a nice change.

I had several publishers try to steer me away from first person. I’ve never understood quite why.

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

My stories alternate in time. The original mystery in Bitter Secrets actually occurs in the 1940s. It isn’t solved until the 1980s, so I kind of straddle those four decades in that story.

There are several story lines in Full Circle, so I do more alternating of the story line in that one. That can be a little tricky because you still need the action to flow.

I also don’t want to get stuck into formula writing, I know that’s what a lot of publishers want, and it might sell, but that’s not my idea of what I want to do.

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 guess it would have to be Mystery. Like most things in my life, I find it hard to categorize.

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?

I checked companies out online and sent many, inquiries to traditional publishers. I got a few nice letters, but no takers. Talked to people who said yes, you need an agent; others who say no you don’t After going on this way for several years, I finally took the plunge and decided on iUniverse.

They have been very professional and very helpful. I know you have to be careful about “add on” services that you may not really need from any self publisher. I have used several of these services for my second book Full Circle, They were quite expensive but I also think I have learned a lot from them and I think the developmental editing service has made my book much better than it otherwise would have been.

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

Well, I didn’t do an outline – maybe I should have but I really didn’t know where Bitter Secrets was going. I just kept coming up with scenarios and wrote some more. I was probably about half way through when I knew my ending, so then I could head for the light at the end of the tunnel.

I really hate trying to do a synopsis or query.

I have to laugh at that. “the dreaded synopsis and query.” Every writer’s worst nightmare. What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

First of all, know your English – grammar and spelling do count to professional writers and to serious readers. The best story in the world can be ruined by lack of attention to basic English rules. It doesn’t have to make your work stuffy.

Beyond that, I think you need a good story to tell. I think my problem for a long time was that I just didn’t have a story I wanted to tell. When I found one, I went with it!

Tell us a little more about your current work in progress.

As I said, it’s a sequel to Bitter Secrets called Full Circle and it takes up my protagonist’s life where Bitter Secrets ends. Actually, in some ways it’s an extension of Bitter Secrets. At the end of Bitter Secrets Molly (my protagonist) was given a job to do by her friend and other main character in Bitter Secrets so she must find a way to carry it out in Full Circle. Full Circle also incorporates a little romance and a good old fashioned cop story.

I’m doing the final rewrite of Full Circle now (wish I had a nickel for every time I said that!). In a week or two I should be sending it back to the publisher and the race will be on.

We must have you back on Author Interview Friday when that book comes out. I loved Bitter Secrets and look forward to the sequel. Can you tell the readers  the premise of  Bitter Secrets,  the  novel we are promoting today?

Bitter Secrets

Molly Martindale came to Oxbow, Florida, (a fictional town in Southwest Florida’s inland area) as a scared and lonely 13-year-old orphan to live with an aunt she barely knew. Sixteen years later she is a reporter for her hometown newspaper when she becomes interested in a family that “moved away” 40 years earlier. She’s never heard of this family before – in a small Southern town that prides itself on its roots, that’s hard for her to understand – and even more perplexing is that no one will talk about them much. She’s also the focus of visits by bone-chilling “faces” that seem to be begging her for  . . . something. So Molly’s reporter instincts are roused and she starts poking around in old matters some folks would rather be left covered with dust.

In her quest for the truth, she gets help from the town drunk, a wheelchair-bound Viet Nam veteran, a savvy old black man and, of course, her faces.

A little bird told me you won an award for Bitter Secrets. Congratulations. Tell us about that.

Yes, quite an exciting surprise. Bitter Secrets was a finalist in the 2013 Indie Excellence Book Awards. 

Please share a few paragraphs from Bitter Secrets.

 

Excerpt from Bitter Secrets by Patty Brant

I see faces.

I can’t quite remember when I first started seeing them. They were so faint, so unobtrusive, like mist gliding above the sand. More like a sigh, really, flitting just at the periphery of vision, or tangled among leaves like low-lying clouds. At some point, they began to register in my consciousness like little feathers gliding across the bottoms of my feet. Almost imperceptible, but not quite.

I had been in this small town since high school, coming as a brokenhearted thirteen-year-old orphan to live with a widowed great aunt I barely knew. Now a reporter with the Oxbow Independent, our local mullet wrapper, I, Molly Martindale, had settled quite comfortably into my life. This town had become my own.

I remember quite clearly the day I could no longer ignore these faces. I had just spent the better part of my day wrestling with an absentee boss—you know, the kind who rarely shows her face and still manages to give you grief. As I finally hung up the phone for the last time and switched off the light, it was just about dusk. When I pulled the key from the front door lock and turned to the darkening street, it must have been bedtime for the birds. They were swishing through the air, calling to each other, making quite a ruckus. At first I hoped the waning light was playing tricks on my strained eyes.

But no, I was certain. There really was something up in the branches of that old orchid tree. All my instincts said there was.

 

Thank you so much for this opportunity to connect with other writers and readers. It’s always encouraging when someone shows an interest in your passion.

My Blog: http://bittersecrets.authorsxpress.com

 My Web site: http://pattybrant.com/

Online sales: http://www.amazon.com/Bitter-Secrets-Patty-Brant/dp/1462071562/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398340649&sr=1-1&keywords=bitter+secrets