I don’t usually re=post things of this nature. I prefer to talk about what I love, writing, But this is worth sharing with anyone who will listen, Who knows, maybe it will save a life.
This is one of the most unusual interviews I have ever done since starting Author Interview Friday. As you can tell from the title, My Husband’s a Woman Now, it is quite an unusual story. So it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Leslie Hillburn Fabian, today’s Author. And because this is such an unusual topic, I’d like to change the order which I normally do my interviews. So hold on to your seats readers, as I reverse the order. (just to keep you on your toes LOL)
What shelf would we find your book if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?
With the ease of ordering on-line these days, I seldom go into book stores anymore, so I’ll have to create some shelf labels, to wit: LOVE STORIES; TRANSITION STORIES; RELATIONSHIP HELP; PERSONAL GROWTH & AWARENESS; MEMOIRS; TRANSGENDER…things along those lines.
Leslie, Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to whet our appetite?
From My Husband’s a Woman Now: A Shared Journey of Transition and Love by Leslie Hilburn Fabian, LICSW (Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker)
“When I met my husband, he was wearing a dress.” I had occasionally made this surprising declaration during the first twenty years of my marriage to David. I’d been selective, of course, trusting my instincts to determine when and to whom it was safe to reveal this.
Making this bold pronouncement, I’d been “outing” my husband as a cross-dresser, exposing his life-long secret of sometimes wearing women’s clothes. The statement was invariably shocking and confusing to others, but I had found it the least complicated, most direct way, of opening a conversation about who he truly was—or rather, who we thought he was.
Then, in 2009, after twenty-one years together, we both realized that David was more than “just a cross-dresser” and he began moving in a much more audacious direction. His sporadic feminine expression, the act of cross-dressing, had morphed into a plan to become a woman full-time. This revelation was alarming to the majority of people in David’s life. They’d known him only as a man and it was unlikely they’d ever thought to question his undeniable masculinity, a perception based on observable details.
…All who know David saw a skilled orthopedic surgeon, beloved and respected by hospital and office staff, patients, family, friends, and particularly by me, his wife. But the physical form, the skills, integrity, and brilliance of this individual—all that one could witness of his life—masked the inner workings of David R. Fabian, M.D.
This transition story begins in middle age, in our early sixties. It is about the deconstructing of our previous life and the creation of a new one. My husband, David Robert Fabian, M.D., began living as a woman in the fall of 2011. This woman, Deborah Rae Fabian, has existed internally for all of David’s remembered life.
Did you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time’s?
I have no formal training in writing, other than occasional weekend workshops and a class I attended years ago. All of the reading I’d done throughout my life, prior to beginning my book, contributed to the structure I used. There was, in fact, little structure in the beginning. My daily writing was essentially a “free-form” recording of what was occurring, both internally and around me. As I promoted my husband’s transition, maintaining a desire to remain in our marriage, emotional fluctuations were rampant.
In the second year of my three-year writing process, the composition emerged. Working with a book shepherd was enormously helpful, as she guided me in structuring my work into the finished product that manifested. The book gradually took a chronological shape in four parts: our past, the process during the two transition years, journal entries from the first year after transition, and, finally, what I learned from the entire process.
As someone who’d never before written a book, how did you know how to start, once you believed you had something to say?
After I’d written for a year and had accumulated 150 pages of writing, I believed I had a book-in-the-works, yet had no idea how to proceed. Fate stepped in; a book on self-publishing practically fell into my lap at a Barnes & Noble! In the midst of looking there for clues to my next steps, I read about the concept of Book Shepherds, people whose work it is to advise, encourage, and support writers. This led to four phone interviews and the hiring of my incredible book shepherd, Judith M. Weigle, Book Shepherd, Judy@JudyWeigle.com.
For two more years, to the completion and publishing of my book, Judy was a God-send who kept me afloat and assisted me in creating my first literary work. I doubt I’d have done it without her!
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?
Both of my parents (now deceased) aspired to write; each wrote beautiful, inspiring letters. While providing incentive, however, neither ever got serious enough to create a book.
In the nineties, I was in graduate school for social work at Boston College, and a professor noted on one of my papers, “You are a gifted writer!” I’ve always loved writing and was pretty sure I did it well, and that short statement stuck with me until I got serious about it in my sixties. Then, with a profound transition occurring in my life, I felt compelled to write the on-going story as it unfolded. Voila! A love story emerged, and my first book was published.
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 Indi publisher to a colleague?
I actually used a print-on-demand publisher called Virtual Bookworm. I consider this a “step above” self-publishing, as companies such as VBW provide myriad services, much as a traditional publisher does, for which the writer contracts. Their services are available both individually and packaged, and they are selective about what they publish.
There are many reasons why I avoided the traditional route. Foremost was the warning of a friend who’s published several books and found that the results of using a traditional publisher for one of them have been highly disappointing. The publisher made changes to her book with which she was not in agreement. She makes a pittance on the thousands of books sold, while the publisher makes much more. Further, the publisher now owns the book and she must buy it back if she wants to change publishers. She also warned me that it would likely take a couple of years to see my book in print, since I was a first-time, unknown author.
I chose Virtual Bookworm after researching print-on-demand publishers and liking their services, packages, and responses to my inquiries regarding their work. They have been wonderful to work with; I highly recommend them.
Authors and publishers are always talking about finding your “Voice”. Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?
As I said, I felt compelled to write this book, under the circumstances occurring in my life. I found the writing to be therapeutic and instructive to my own process, as I have for thirty years of daily journaling. I also knew that what I had to say could be helpful to others—to those going through similar processes, to anyone going through a huge transition, and also to those who might be curious about our situation and how my spouse and I handled it. There was no stopping my “Voice,” once the writing began!
What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?
I developed this technique in graduate school, with lengthy papers to write, and it’s continued to work for me whenever I have a project of any kind. First I decide on a total time I want to write for that day. Then I prepare my work space, read something inspiring, and set a timer for one hour. I work until the timer goes off, then take a break. If I’m highly engaged in my work when an hour is up, I might continue working for another half-hour or to the completion of that piece, and I’ll set the alarm again for thirty minutes (to keep track of my total time). Then I get up and do something fun, completely unrelated to my writing, for fifteen to thirty minutes—e.g., walk the dog, grab something to eat, read something unrelated. Then I begin writing again, resetting the timer until I reach my total time for the day. This system promotes meeting my daily goal, as well as providing rewards for satisfying work.
Thank you Leslie. This is a strange and compelling story. It took a lot of courage to expose your personal life, knowing that some people would never understand and attack your views and decisions. Yet, it is something you felt compelled to write. Reader, to learn more, go to her website: www.lesliefab.com
Below is a intro into her story and links to buy her book.
Nothing is more certain in life than change, and this change is bigger than most. In 2009, Leslie Fabian’s husband, David-an orthopedic surgeon who’d been privately cross-dressing for most of his life-realized that brief forays into the world as Deborah would never be enough.
This came as no surprise to Leslie. For two decades, cross-dressing had been a part of their lives; but she had witnessed her spouse’s devastation each time he returned to his male persona. To purchase, go to any website below. These are for Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and my publisher, Virtual Bookworm.
Candy Cooper McDowall
This is a Facebook post from my daughter that I wish to share with you (with her permission). I am sure you will love it as much as I did. No author/writer lessons here today or Author Interview. But I think you will find some wisdom and humor.
posted August 22, 2014 at 4:51pm
When I was a teenager, my father told me I was not allowed to date until I was 16. Yes, you read that right. 16. That’s not to say I didn’t hit the occasional basketball game with a “friend” or double-date for the movies (that we walked to). But for a legitimate date, one that involved alone time between me and A BOY, I had to wait until that magical age of teen maturity. Sweet 16.
I remember pretty distinctly sitting at the dinner table telling my dad that I had been asked out for my first date, and having to ask his permission to go. He tried to be funny. He failed. I will leave the out the details.
However, this was 1982 or thereabouts. There were rules. Some of them were imposed by my dad. Some were just, you know, how it was done. But there were guidelines we pretty much all knew ahead of time. It never occurred to me they might be variable. They just… were. Which, I suppose, was fairly naïve considering dating in the 8Os was not very much like dating in the 50s, which is equally not like dating in the 20s. Still, these were the times I knew, along with the rest of my contemporaries. We were trying to act all grownup in our awkward bodies with our rampant hormones and having no idea what we were doing, guessing at societal norms in order to know how to proceed. Whether we followed them or not is not the point. They were there.
Fast forward 30 years…or so…
Stepping back out into the world of dating as a single woman in her 40s, with almost grown children watching, has been daunting. I’ve changed. The world has changed. But the one thing I did not expect is that DATING HAS CHANGED. Caught me totally off guard with that one.
I was scared enough as it is, with my previously unscarred heart now battered and slightly bruised. But at least, I thought, this time I had experience. This time, I knew what was coming. This time, I am all grown up in my not-too-shabby-for-my-age body, possibly with some raging hormones (which are likely menopausal), having some idea of what I am doing, because this time I KNOW the societal norms that tell me how to proceed. Whether I follow them or not is not the point. THIS TIME at least I know the rules.
Hah. Ahaha. Ahahahahahahaha! WRONG.
I give you…online dating.
If you had said the words “online dating” in the 80s we would have wondered what laundry had to do with your love life.
And so at this time, I would like to enumerate for you lucky souls who are NOT negotiating this newly-laid digital landmine, or maybe those of you who are jumping into those waters again, what is it like to be a teenager of the 80s dating in this new millenium. For those of you already doing it, high five for bravery.
80s Rule #1 – If a boy asks you out, he probably likes you.
I mean, he had to get up the nerve, look you in the eye (or write you a note), get made fun of by his friends, and then wait nervously for you to say yes. You don’t do all that for somebody you aren’t really interested in. It’s too nerve-wracking.
2014 Version – If you see a picture of someone you find interesting, and he sees yours, you might start a conversation. You will probably be emailing or texting for awhile. This might lead him to ask if you possibly want to get coffee or something. Maybe. He might just flirt. Or be cautiously distant so that you aren’t sure if he is interested or just bored from sitting home alone. And then right about the time YOU are ready to ask HIM if he wants to get coffee or something, because, you know, you are a modern confident woman and he already said he likes coffee, he will suddenly disappear and delete his profile. Likely in the middle of the conversation you were having and probably right after he just asked you out for that coffee.
80s Rule #2 – Your date must pick you up at the door.
There was no way in hell my father was going to miss out on the chance to terrorize any potential suitor of mine, even while being polite. I think it was the smile that threw them off. The anticipation of meeting The Father was likely much worse than the experience of meeting The Father himself.
2014 Version – Your date must not know where you live for a very long time.
It’s very possible you don’t have a good idea of what your date really looks like, since those pics he uploaded were from when he still had hair. (Side note: Beware the naked bathroom selfie. That would have gotten you arrested in 1982.) And since you are a single woman now, probably alone in the house in the primping hours prior to any first date, for safety’s sake, a new guy can’t get within 100 yards of you without a room full of caffeinated strangers, who may or may not be looking up when you walk in, but could at least call 911 if they heard screaming.
80s Rule #3 – Your date pays for dinner.
His dad probably slipped him a 20 on the way out the door, and reminded him to tip the waiter.
2014 Version – You get there early enough to buy your own coffee so there is no awkward reaching for your wallet as he reaches for his, not knowing if he really wants to buy your coffee or just feels socially obligated. Or he buys his own coffee and leaves you standing there feeling like a dolt for assuming those were together.
80s Rule #4 – If it is a nice date, he might ask you out again before the night is over.
I mean, you like each other. It was fun. Why not?
2014 Version – If it is a nice date, he will likely wait until he gets home, and then text or email you a day or two (or 5) later to see if you would like to go out again.
I had a guy say to me in all honesty, “I never ask a woman out for a second date while we are still on the first date, because then it avoids the whole awkward refusal thing.” Because truthfully, the chance of being turned down for the second date is much higher when you don’t know each other to begin with. I can’t exactly fault the guy. So you might be waiting for awhile for that second request. Or it might not be coming at all. Hard to say.
80s Rule #5 – If it is a nice date, there might be a goodnight kiss.
There might not, if one or both of you is shy. But there was little chance of more happening on that first date than a bit of awkward groping in the driveway. Not to say that more wouldn’t happen later, but much first date action was unlikely.
2014 Version – You have to state in writing on a public forum whether or not you are willing to have sex on a first date.
I wish I was joking.
80s Rule #6 – Once you are a couple, it is ok to slide across the bench seat and sit next to him while he is driving.
2014 Version – First, you probably aren’t even in his car for awhile. See Rule #2. But if you have made it that far, the bench seat is long gone. The best you can do is try to hold hands over the console between the bucket seats and hope you don’t lose feeling in your wrist.
80s Rule #7 – If your friends like him, he’s probably ok.
2014 Version – If he’s ok, your friends might like him. But not necessarily.
80s Rule #8 – If things don’t work out, there is probably an emotional breakup in person, but if he’s a real heel, it might be over the phone.
But if he did that.. COWARD! Couldn’t even look you in the eye. (spit) And then all your friends and family get to say mean things about him, and he wasn’t worth your time anyway.
2014 Version – If things don’t work out, a text message is a convenient and efficient way to get out of a potential relationship without having to bear witness to the other person’s heart breaking right in front of you.
But then, all your friends and family get to say mean things about him, and he wasn’t worth your time anyway.
Some things don’t change that much at all.
80s Rule #9 – If it all goes well, you gaze happily into each other’s eyes, put your picture in the newspaper, and start planning that over-the-top wedding with the giant cake and people from your dad’s office you’ve never met.
2014 Version – If all goes well, you slowly introduce each other to your respective children, quietly move in together one dresser drawer at a time, and maybe sneak off in a private little ceremony to tie the knot at some point. But not necessarily. Let’s not move too fast here.
Wish me luck. At least now I know the rules.
Candy Cooper McDowall ©2014
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).
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
Her website: www.BelleoftheGladesBooks.com.
There is now a contest exclusively for you!
WFWA Rising Star Contest for Unpublished Manuscripts.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 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?
Leona: Hemphill 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
B & N : http://tinyurl.com/k597f84
The Darwin Murders: http://goo.gl/YX3Xre
Joanne: Thanks Leona. Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to wet our appetite?
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.
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.
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 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
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.
Brought to you from my friend Deb Coats.
Click on link below.