CHAT WITH NINA ROMANO

Nina Romano earned a B.S. from Ithaca College, an M.A. from Adelphi University and a B.A. and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from FIU. She has authored a short story collection, The Other Side of the Gates, and has published five poetry collections and two poetry chapbooks with independent publishers. She co-authored a nonfiction book: Writing in a Changing World. Romano has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry.

Nina Romano’s historical Wayfarer Trilogy (Turner Publishing) consists of The Secret Language of Women, Book #1, a Foreword Reviews Book Award Finalist and Gold Medal winner of the Independent Publisher’s 2016 IPPY Book Award; Lemon Blossoms, Book # 2, a Foreword Reviews Book Award Finalist; In America, Book #3, a finalist in Chanticleer Media’s Chatelaine Book Awards.

Her latest novel, The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley, a Western Historical Romance and a bestseller in Australia and the UK, (Prairie Rose Publications) is a semifinalist for the Laramie Book Awards.

Time to chat with Nina!

What is your latest book?

The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley, published by Prairie rose Publications. It’s a Western/Romance set in New Mexico in the late 1870s. I’m super delighted to say it just received BESTSELLER status on Amazon Australia and hit # 1 in the UK in the category of Native American.

What are the greatest challenges in writing short stories?

Many people believe that poetry is the most difficult genre to write in, but for me, short stories are the most challenging. I write them, have written them, and probably will write some more, but it’s the compression that’s difficult. I realize there’s a great deal of compression in writing poems, however, poetry has always come easily to me. I have five traditionally published collections with small, independent publishers, and two poetry chapbooks that I keep wanting to put together with new poems to form a New & Selected Collection—but I’m way too involved in writing prose and fiction.

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

Historical fiction chose me. I think about the past and have done so since childhood. I always wondered how it was to live in those bygone times, that former particular era, the long-ago. I also love reading all types of historical fiction—whether it be mystery, mayhem, murder, biography, or romance!

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

I believe it’s a little of both, but when I do a major edit or rewrite, I print out the manuscript and read it out loud with a pencil in my hand to correct, add, delete, and transform.

How many unwritten books are in your head? How do you decide which ones come to life now and which ones stay on the back burner?

Actually, only two. I don’t know which one I’ll draft next, but I have a beginning for one of them already written, of course that might change—beginnings usually do. This would be my first attempt at a biographical novel, based on my Aunt Lina, who passed away last year at 104 in Palermo , Sicily. She lived through WWII, and I find her life story fascinating.

The other novel I think I’d like to write is about my characters Darby and Cayo from my novel, The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley.

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

I usually have a working title—sometimes I will change the title at the end of a work to something more fitting. However, I never know the ending to a novel or a short story. I follow the characters around and the story grows organically from the plot, the character’s actions, desires, motivations, and from the causes and effects of their deeds.

What else have you written?

I’ve written the three novels of the historical Wayfarer Trilogy:

The Secret Language of Women, set in China during the Boxer Rebellion.

Lemon Blossoms, set in Sicily during the late 1800s

In America, set in New York during the Great Depression.

Five collections of poetry:

Cooking Lessons

Coffeehouse Meditations

She Wouldn’t Sing at My Wedding

Faraway Confections

Westward: Guided by Starfalls and Moonbows

A collection of short stories:

The Other Side of the Gate

A nonfiction collaborative book on Writing:

Writing in a Changing World

Do you dread writing a synopsis for your novel as much as most writers do? Do you think writing a synopsis is inherently evil? Why?

That’s a three-part question. I like these compound questions—they make you think! No, I don’t dread writing a synopsis. I don’t think it’s inherently evil thing to do, but it certainly isn’t always easy. Why? Because it makes you focus on the narrative and be concise. You have to think about the plot and, at this point, you have to know the ending to the story. You have to consider plot points and reversals and make sure to follow through with these if these techniques are used in the novel.

In writing a novel synopsis there’s no place for subplot or minor characters. The synopsis compels you to concentrate on the main characters and what they’re involved in doing: what they risk, their actions, motivations, causes and effects.

This information also must be single-spaced to fit onto one page. Therefore, it has to be compact. An agent or editor doesn’t want to see extraneous material at first glance. Perhaps later they may ask for something more elaborate.

I’m writing one now for my new WIP set in Soviet Russia.

How would you define your style of writing?

I write lyrical prose because I’m a poet and I love language. For me, cutting and tightening are the things I have to consider when I’m editing and auto-critiquing my own prose. It’s sometimes difficult but necessary to “kill your darlings” but I think that’s where this expression comes in handy. I also use many foreign words and expressions in my prose—and while this makes it all the mover convincing, you have to make sure these are understood in the dialogue or exposition. For my new WIP, I’ve decided that since Russian is not a language I speak to write a Glossary!

What’s your all time favorite film?

I don’t have ONE favorite movie. That’s not how my brain works. I’m a movie buff and have several I love and would watch again in a heartbeat. These are the films:

The Young Philadelphians, The Great Escape, The Magnificent SevenStalag 17, Love with a Proper Stranger, Marjorie Morningstar, Picnic, Dances with Wolves, Shawshank Redemption, All the Pretty Horses, Gone with the Wind (I’ve seen it at least thirteen times!), The Godfather — all three!

Favorite book?

The same with books–how can you pick just one? It’s impossible. Here are some of my favorites: Anna Karenina, Gone with the Wind, Little Women, East of Eden, The Grapes of Wrath, Lonesome Dove, The Idiot, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Dracula, Wuthering Heights,  Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Lolita, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, To Kill a Mockingbird,  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and All the Pretty Horses.

Thank you, Lisette. I’m grateful for every opportunity to talk about a subject that I love—writing—and to showcase my work.

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CHAT WITH S.S. BAZINET

S. S. Bazinet lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After raising a family, she’s gone on to write more than a dozen books. Her favorite theme revolves around the ways that a person can embrace change and learn to appreciate themselves. Whether in a romance, fantasy or thriller, the theme of self-worth is usually woven into her stories.

Time to chat with Sandy!

What is your latest book?

The title of my latest book is Forgotten Blood. It’s about a demonic ghost named Col whose only aim is to destroy those who once called him a brother. When it came to fighting Col, nothing worked. Col was a master when it came to using anything combative or aggressive. And even worse, he knew how to manipulate a person’s mind, taking advantage of their guilt and fears. Being a ghost who had all the time in the world, he also had the advantage. No matter how long he had to wait, he promised he’d have his fun tormenting his victims.

While I was writing the story, Col was so unrelenting in his desire to wreak havoc that I began to worry about the fate of my main characters. I wondered if they would ever find a way to stop his destructive need to mete out misery. I was amazed and relieved with the way the problem was resolved in the end.

Is your recent book part of a series?

Forgotten Blood is part of a series, but it’s also a stand-alone book. It’s the kind of scary story that can capture a new reader’s attention very quickly. Plus there’s an ample amount of back story included. Without too much detail, new readers will quickly be brought up to speed with previous characters in the series.

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

I’m very fortunate, my first series, The Vampire Reclamation Project, chose me. It’s a metaphysical fantasy about reclaiming vampires. I’d had writer’s block for many years and grappled with a harsh inner critic. Finally, I surrendered. I decided to just have fun and appreciate whatever story came forth. It was the best thing I could have done.

Shortly after my decision, I sat down in the back yard with pen in hand. I didn’t know what type of story I was going to write, but a story began to write itself. I soon went from pen and paper to writing on the computer because the story was flowing out so fast. Within a little more than a year, I had the first drafts of six books. It’s taken me all this time to edit them and let them come to publication on their own timeline. The sixth book in the series, Forgotten Blood, has just been released.

I find it interesting that the series and I share in the idea of surrendering. In the first book in the series, Michael’s Blood, my main character, Arel, is desperate to get his life back. Believing he’s cursed, he’s willing to do anything to accomplish his goal. Before I wrote the series, I was desperate too. I’d been suffering from writer’s block for so long I didn’t know if I’d ever write successfully. We both got the help we prayed for. I couldn’t write fast enough after I let go, and Arel had an angel show up on his doorstep. The angel becomes his friend and mentor.

We were both “reclaimed” in a sense. I began to channel a beautiful story of love and devotion, and I also had an inner renewal. I began to take long, meditative walks, listen to music, and dance. I became a much happier person. While Arel, with the help of his angelic friend, Michael, was able to come to grips with his inner demons and his curse.

All these years later, I’m so grateful that this series and genre chose me and that all my books continue to write themselves. Could a writer ask for anything more?

What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?

After having writer’s block for so long, I love it all, whether it’s starting a new book, editing it numerous times, or finally declaring it finished. For me, every aspect of the writing process is an adventure and a gift.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

Yes, indeed. As I explained in an earlier answer, I had to deal with a demonic ghost in my latest book, Forgotten Blood. This ghost was a totally despicable entity with no redeeming qualities.

Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?

I’ve found social media to be a perfect vehicle for meeting other writers and authors. Many of these wonderful people are happy to share their thoughts and offer support. However, social media can be very time consuming. Therefore, I’ve had to decide how long I’m going to be on it each day and stick to that decision.

Do you ever have animal characters in your books? If so, do you find it a difficult thing to do? If yes, why?

Some of my stories have included dogs, cats and even pet mice. I find it very easy to describe their behavior and how they relate to humans. Maybe it’s because I’ve always loved animals and have noted the way they express their friendship and moods. In my story, Vampire In Heaven, a dog named Nippy becomes a very close friend and helper for my main guy, Alan.

What else have you written?

One of my favorite novels is Traces Of Home (Book 1 of Open Wide My Heart). I loved writing about all the characters and the story. In fact, I loved everything about the novel so much that it took me a while to release it. What if someone hated it? Finally, I had to let go and surrender it just like I had to surrender my writing in the first place. Happily, many people have also loved the novel. I’m so grateful for that blessing.

Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?

I always wait until a story is not only finished but thoroughly edited. When I give the story to someone to read, I want it to be a wonderful adventure. If it’s not at its best, it could be disruptive to that experience.

Do you dread writing a synopsis for your novel as much as most writers do? Do you think writing a synopsis is inherently evil? Why?

At first, writing a synopsis was really tough. Now, after so many attempts at trying to convey what needs to be said in a few words, it’s getting much easier. The important thing is not to give up. Try writing one synopsis a day just for practice. Give yourself five minutes and then stop. If you do that for a couple of weeks, hopefully it will help.

Do you have any advice to a new author if they asked you whether to pursue the traditional route to publishing or to start out as an independent writer?

If you decide to be an indie writer, you have to be prepared to do all the jobs that a publisher does. All in all, it’s a big undertaking. Happily, with so much information available on the internet, you can research every part of the process and learn what generally works. After that, you can customize the information you’ve found and use it to fit your needs.

An important lesson I’ve learned is not to have impossible expectations. Building a readership and establishing a sound knowledge base takes time and patience. Enjoy the journey as much as possible. For me, writing and sharing my stories is a reward in itself.

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?

I think a professional, eye-catching cover design is crucial. It gives the reader a heads up idea of what your book might bring to the table. It can pull them in or leave them flat.

Have you ever started out to write one book and ended up with something completely different?

I never know exactly what kind of story I’m going to end up with. For example, I didn’t know that my story, In The Care Of Wolves: My Brother’s Keeper, was going to be a werewolf thriller. I didn’t know I could write one. I simply started writing about two teenagers. Before I knew it, the story morphed, and they were fleeing from people who were out to kill them and their families. However, the story has other elements that I found very comfortable to write about. Besides being a thriller, it’s a story about family, love and loyalty. It’s also about going beyond the narrow labels that people give themselves and believing in who they are. I call it a thriller with heart.

I also got a big surprise when I began writing Dying Takes It Out of You. I was writing the story in the third person when all of a sudden I noticed that the story was being told in the first person. I guess my main guy, Dory, needed to have a stronger voice. After that I noticed that I enjoyed writing in a first person POV. It’s like I can get a little closer to my character and understand what he sees and feels.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you were younger? Five years ago?

When I was younger, I wish I could have questioned and rebutted my negative self-talk. Five years ago, I wish I knew enough to check out a negative review without getting upset about it.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Least favorite food?

Really spicy food doesn’t work for me, but Italian food, that’s another story. It’s the coziest.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever given?

My children! I call them Earth angels because they are the best ever!

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

A cup of morning coffee. ☕️

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A RIDE DOWN THE CALIFORNIA COAST … and a big surprise!

 

 

Hello, Friends:

I thought I would share some recent photos from a beautiful, albeit quick, trip down the California coast. As I didn’t plan to blog at the time, I’m sorry that I don’t have a location to offer for every spot pictured. But I hope you’ll enjoy the photos and share in the delight of our surprise find at the end!

As a note: italicized captions for photos will be on the bottom of the photos.

Here are some photos from Fort Bragg, CA where we spent the night.

This was the view from the patio of our room.

Some old boat fenders for decoration

A calming view of the ocean

Looks interesting, but seemed unwise to investigate!


Walking under the pier at Fort Bragg

The glass is long gone at Glass Beach. It has been for many years.

We left Fort Bragg and headed south to our next stop, Carmel-by-the-Sea on California’s Monterey Peninsula. A charming beach city with approximately eighty art galleries, fairytale cottages, superb restaurants, museums, libraries, and much more.

As the sign says, this is the Tuck Box.

A gorgeous Spanish-tiled staircase

Carmel has many tasty delights like this shop offers. Luckily, I’m able to resist! Though that carrot cake looks quite tempting.

Another of Carmel’s fairytale cottages

I just loved this house.

One of several galleries we spent time visiting

Another view of the town

Carmel’s Church of the Wayfarer

A charming old door which I believe opened into a garden at a private home.

What the street signs look like in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Spent a little bit of time on Carmel’s beach before getting ready to make our way down the coast. These (above) are the last photos of Carmel.

One of the first vista points after getting on the road again

One of my very favorite vistas. Love the swirls in the sand. Below, is a close up of the same scene.

So pretty! Wish we could have spent more time here.

A car driving south on Route 1. This photo is typical of what you might see.

A photo from the east side of the road. Almost looks like a shot of the Earth. Sort of?

Route 1 curves a lot. Sometimes, going south, you’ll be right at the ocean’s edge as in this shot.

One of my personal favorites. Light hitting the Pacific Ocean. Very serene and spiritual.

I love the color of the water in this area.

As we continued to drive, it was getting closer to sunset. We had planned to stay on the scenic route until it got dark. There wasn’t much time to stop, but when we got to this last, huge vista site, we wondered what so many cars (and people, of course) were doing there. Naturally, we had to check it out.

Okay, so you’d think that when I saw this sign, I was prepared for what would be on the beach. But for some reason, I just thought it was a random sign about wildlife in the area. So, I was absolutely shocked when I finally caught sight of what was on the beach below.

At first, I didn’t think there were so many.

To my surprise, there were thousands of elephant seals on the beach … and it was mating season!

Worn out from all of the fun!

Here are a couple of the signs posted to teach visitors more about elephant seals.

To give you a bit more information, the males can grow up to 5,000 lbs (2300 kg) and 16 ft (5 m) long. Friends of the Elephant Seal News tells us that in the December-through-February mating season, males contest for breeding rights for up to 100 days without food or water.

The female seals grow to as much as 1,800 lbs (800 kg) and 12 ft (4 m). In an average of 34 days, the female loses 40% of her weight while she births, nurses, weans her pup, and breeds before returning to the sea.

I’m sorry that the video I took isn’t better quality, but you can imagine my surprise to see this activity on the beach below. At first, the e-seals looked like fictional creatures to me … the first thing that came to mind were heffalumps from Winnie the Pooh.

That’s about all.  Except to tell you that you can learn more about elephant seals at Friends of the Elephant Seal. Their website has lots of great information, ways to help the e-seals, fantastic souvenirs,, an ESeal live cam, and much more.

One of the last photos I took from Route 1 as the sun was setting on our day.

Thanks for sharing my trip with me!

Best wishes to all,

Lisette

 

CHAT WITH G.P. GADBOIS

G.P. Gadbois is married, has three grown-up children, a grandchild, a couple of dogs, a cat and perhaps mice as the cat is too lazy to catch anything. She started writing her first novel when her children left home, and they all came back, but it didn’t stop her from writing a second and a third. When she is not writing, she loves spending time with her grandson, Arrow. She is also an avid reader, loves gardening, and in the winter, she enjoys curling.

Time to chat with Ginette!

Is your recent book part of a series?

Yes, my latest book is part of a series. It’s called Destiny, it is the third novel in the series A Moment in Time.

What are the special challenges in writing a series?

For me, the biggest challenge in writing a series is wanting each individual book to be a standalone as well and I don’t think the second one is.

My second challenge is remaining true to my main characters. To do so, I have an up-to-date document with all the names of main and secondary characters with a description for each. I started the series over five years ago and since I have a hard time remembering what I did three weekends ago, this document is my lifeline.

Do you write under a pen name? If so, can you tell us why?

I am not using my full name because it’s too long. Also, since writing is a hobby and at the moment, I prefer to keep my author career separate from my present full-time employment, shortening my name seemed sensible.

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

The genre chose me. It all started with a dream. I rarely remember my dreams and wondered why I remembered this odd reoccurring one – of ghosts and murders. I jotted the main idea and thought I’d look up it’s meaning in a ‘dream’ book. Weeks went by, I never found the book that explained my odd dream and the more I shared my story with others, the clearer it became – I had to write about it. I added several characters, created additional conflict, researched details, and thought love scenes would add flavor to the mix.

Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

I write scenes in order. I might move them later, if I’ve come up with a new idea, and need to insert something in between; but I prefer to write scenes from point A to point B and so on until I reach the end.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

When I wrote Caught Between Worlds, my first novel, I wrote it all without editing. For many reasons, it needed major editing. For example, I had never heard of head hopping before I sent my manuscript to a small publishing company. They were not interested in the novel; however, I am thankful for the feedback they gave me. I joined a writing group on-line, participated in a writing boot camp and edited the novel – gave it a facelift and sent it off to other publishing companies.

For my second and third novel, I wrote, proofread and edited as I moved along.

How many unwritten books are in your head? How do you decide which ones come to life now and which ones stay on the back burner?

I will follow my dreams. I have at least three stories in my head. I know which one I will write first because it is the last book of the series A Moment in Time. The series’ features four women and each one has her own novel, her own story.

How much of your own personality goes into your characters?

Gabrielle’s personality, the female main character in my first novel, is in many ways like I am. I thought it would be easier for my first novel and sadly I discovered that by doing so I didn’t develop her character on paper as much as I should have – if that makes any sense. I did in the editing, but that took considerable time. BIG mistake.

I do include events, trips, and other incidents that my girlfriends and I have experienced.

Do you ever act out your scenes while writing to help you gauge how authentic it feels?

Yes, I act out scenes and for a while, family members thought I had serious problems.

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

I always know the ending and the message I want to convey. The title is tentative; it’s a work in progress just like the story.

What else have you written?

Caught Between Worlds, A Moment in Time Novel One

Trust Me, A Moment in Time Novel Two

Melissa’s Sweetheart, short story

Many of us get stuck in our stories at one point or the other? What helps you to break through in these frustrating times?

I put it aside for a week or two and when I return, I’m rested and ready for more.

How important is the choosing of character names to you? Have you ever decided on a name and then changed it because it wasn’t right for the character?

In my opinion, names are important. My novels take place in the mid-eighties; therefore, I try to select names that were popular during that era.

Yes, I have changed a name because it didn’t feel right for the character.

Authors, especially Indies, are constantly trying to understand why some authors sell well while their talented fellow authors have a hard time of it. It’s an ongoing conundrum. What do you make of it?

Since I have a full-time job and writing is a hobby, I never really thought about this. Your book can be the best, but if it’s not well promoted, it may never reach #1 on the charts. Like everything else, it’s a business. Some people seem to be lucky, they might not have the best novel, but they were at the right place at the right time. I’m not convinced their work would become classics, though…

Can you tell us about your road to publication?

I sent my first manuscript to sixteen publishing companies total. I received eight rejections, five didn’t reply, two maybes, and one yes.

My first two novels were published by Roane Publishing, and then they closed their doors.

I updated a few things in each book, gave them new covers and published myself.

Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?

Social media is my favorite past-time/procrastinating tool. I love interacting with readers and other authors.

Do you have any secrets for effective time management?

Stay off social media for at least one or two hours a day.

Do you ever have animal characters in your books? If so, do you find it a difficult thing to do? If yes, why?

I have dogs and horses in my books. I love them.

Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?

Yes, I allow a few chosen BETA readers who are truly amazing.

What would your dream writing space look like?

A room with a door upon which I could hang a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the handle. For the past year, the only available place to write was the kitchen. I should have put a ‘no vacancy’ sign at the end of my driveway when all my kids came back home, and they had multiplied. Instead, I took them in, and the kitchen table became my desk. I’m not complaining though, I’m simply answering your question.

Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?

I was born to do many things and discovered a passion for writing.

Do you dread writing a synopsis for your novel as much as most writers do? Do you think writing a synopsis is inherently evil? Why?

Yes, I dread writing a synopsis and I dislike the blurb even more.

What have you done to market your novel and what did you find the most effective? The least effective?

I’ve done public speaking at my local library, book signings, I am on Facebook and Twitter. I haven’t found one super-efficient way. I ran a FB ad for a special deal, and it did not generate any sales. Amazon ads might generate better results, but I will concentrate on promotion once my fourth book in the series is done, and I’m retired from my full-time job. Hopefully in a couple of years.

Having our work out there to be judged by strangers is often daunting for writers. Do you have any tips on handling a negative review?

One must grow thick skin and keep in mind that everyone is different and not all will enjoy our work. If the person criticizing the work is an expert, I take notes and learn from their critique. Good or bad, I value each review.

Many authors do giveaways; have you found them a successful way to promote your book?

I tried and I don’t know if I chose the wrong time of year to do it or did not promote it enough; but mine didn’t help.

Do you miss spending time with your characters when you finish writing them?

Yes, I miss my characters until I start something new, and because I am writing a series and the main characters appear in each one of the books, I get to hang around with them a bit more.

I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?

Yes, I am happy to share this exciting news. I will be publishing Destiny, A Moment in Time Novel Three as soon as my editor and I finish working on the famous edits.

I’ll be doing a cover reveal soon. It will be posted on my Twitter and my Facebook pages.

If you were to advertise your book on a bumper sticker, what would it say?

Trust Me, it’s Destiny, you’re Caught Between Worlds!

What genre have you never written in that you’d like to try?

I’d like to write a historical based on true story or maybe a thriller.

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

I was a city girl when I was single. I’ve been married for almost thirty years and my husband said he’d move to Montreal when hell would freeze over, so I moved to the country and I’ve been here, in Morrisburg, Ontario, Canada ever since. When I can no longer maintain my house or hell freezes over, I’ll move back to the city.

Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats?

Automobile, bicycle, snowmobile, plane, train and then boats.

Okay, I’m going to grant you three superpowers? Think carefully. Which ones would you like and why?

The power to heal. Healing hands. For one, I’d have cured my childhood girlfriend from cancer. I’d heal children and anyone in pain.

The power to go back in time. To give me the opportunity to take back some of the hurtful things I’ve said or done to people I care about.

The power to slow down time. To extend happy moments spent with loved ones.

Care to brag about your family?

My husband of thirty years still makes me laugh. Our oldest son, Jean-Sebastien and his partner Lisa have two dogs, two cats, and several rabbits. Our daughter Tanya and her husband Zak have a wonderful son Arrow, two dogs, and one cat. Except for my husband, all the above have moved away from home this past December 2019. The only one left at home is our youngest son, Elijah who has been dating Josee for a year now.

When I first finished writing my first manuscript, I asked Elijah if he’d read it. I needed someone good in English to proofread. He said, “Mom, I’ll wait until it’s out in theaters.” I was disappointed and thrilled at once. He couldn’t be bothered, but he had high expectations.

To read more about my family, visit my FB page and look for the Memory Lane posts.

What makes you angry?

People who are toxic.

What music soothes your soul?

Pop, classical, country, and rock. Metal, not so much.

If you could add a room onto your current home, what would you put in it?

A whirlpool.

What’s your favorite film of all times? Favorite book?

I have several favorite films, but the one that had an impact on me was Love Story.

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

A child’s laughter. A good shot when I’m curling. A person smiling. Book reviews.

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COLLABORATING ON A NOVEL WITH A FRIEND


Co-Authors Kathleen Harryman and Lucy Marshall talk about their collaboration on The Promise, a World War II romance.

 

Lucy Marshall (left)
Kathleen Harryman (below)

 

 

Kathleen: I’ve known Lucy for years, she’s a superb actress and friend. We first worked together on my thriller When Darkness Falls; Lucy played The Yorkshire Slasher in my promotional film. When she came to me about a World War II romance, I was on board from the beginning.

Lucy:  I have always been so interested in Kathleen’s work, I find her so inspiring and caring. She’s a wonderful friend, and I’ve really enjoyed reading her books. I have read When Darkness Falls three times now. It’s hard not to read it without imagining myself playing the main character when you’re an actor.

I’m always told, “if you are struggling for acting work then make your own.” It is a source of inspiration which keeps me furthering my belief not only in myself but also in helping others.

I used to spend most of my weekends in my caravan on the Yorkshire coast. It was a war memorial in Filey that started to give me the idea for The Promise. The stories around World War II have captivated me for many years. As I had a lot of time to myself, I started to think of the story of one girl’s courage and passion to help in the war.

After I worked with Kathleen on When Darkness Falls, I knew we both had a passion for bringing stories to life, and I needed to work with her again. When I asked Kathleen if she could help me write a script from the synopsis of The Promise, it overjoyed me when she wanted to turn it into a book. I can’t thank Kathleen enough for all the hard work she put into researching and bringing each character to life.

Kathleen: I’d always thought about writing a story based on my grandfather, who died in France, as part of the second phase in the D-Day Landings. My dad was only a small boy when his dad died. The stories he’d tell me, and those of my great uncles, filled my mind with such pride and awe. Lucy gave me that shove, and together we merged Lucy’s idea for a World War II love story with my grandfather’s bravery. We also incorporated the stories of my other family members. In Arthur Shearsmith’s chapter, this really happened. Arthur Shearsmith was my mum’s dad (my grandfather) and having undergone his training ready to fight, his appendix burst as they were about to leave for France. He never made it to France or the frontline. Instead, the military utilised his skills as a metalworker in Hull. These personal stories helped to shape mine and Lucy’s vision for The Promise and the story.

Lucy: I’ve had many people tell me how much they love The Promise. How the story has sent them on a roller coaster of emotions and how they have told all their friends about it. I knew what would happen in the story and it still had me bursting into tears when reading it.

One of my acting friends bought The Promise for her mother as her holiday read. She loved it so much she told all her friends and people on holiday to read it.

I feel so admired when people say how much they loved it and how they couldn’t put it down and didn’t want it to end. I’m always having a look at Goodreads and Amazon for the reviews, I just can’t help myself.

Kathleen: The Promise isn’t only about the war and the historical facts surrounding World War II. It’s about the people that fought, and that remained, working together to keep the country going. It’s about real people, and real circumstances interweaved with fiction. I think that’s why readers go on a journey with each character, they really feel their struggle and uncertainty, and their loss. Maybe it’s why The Promise has had so many great book reviews and why Readers Favourite awarded it five stars.

Lucy: When I mentioned to Kathleen that I had already thought of some actors to play the roles, she wanted to meet them straight away. I got all my friends to send in their head shots and then we had a meeting at Kathleen’s. They all felt so welcomed and were all excited to read the story. I can’t wait to see them bring each character to life and start working with them. They are all so passionate about their work.

 

Kathleen: Lucy’s suggestion to get some of her acting friends to come around to my house was brilliant. We sat munching on crisps and biscuits, drinking copious amounts of coffee, discussing The Promise. I got such a buzz out of it, and we based many of the characters on the people sat around the table that night. It really helped to build the characters, and what I also found was that the story took a different shape because of it. We made connections and relationships between characters that night that we hadn’t even thought of; it was how everyone interacted and talked that brought about such a shift in the story. For a writer to see and talk with your characters, in your head is how a story normally comes together. But to have them right there physically with you, talking and laughing… wow, it blew my mind.

Lucy is a source of inspiration and her enthusiasm is encapsulating. I’d definitely write another book with her. We got on so well, bouncing ideas off each other until the words flowed.

Kathleen: Co-writing The Promise with Lucy was a dream. Lucy and I have a healthy friendship. We both understand the day-to-day pressures each of us are under. This made our co-author collaboration for The Promise work seamlessly, allowing each other time and space to form ideas and to get it down on paper. Lucy’s dyslexic, so it made it easier for me to do the writing and research. Personally I feel that’s why our co-author collaboration worked so well, with just one of us doing the writing. It also allowed for the book to have one distinctive writing style.

I’m lucky because Lucy had already scoped out her plans for the story when we talked about writing The Promise. I just added the meat to the bones, undertaking the writing and research. We went on location together, with Lucy showing me the house which she wanted to use as the convalescence home, which would become The Turnstones. We also spent a lot of time going over ideas, on how we wanted the story to flow. Lucy’s great because she had some clear and clever ideas. I just made them work in the story. I think our partnership worked because we are friends and we both respect each other. I’ve seen Lucy on stage, and she’s captivating. It was that magnetism that instantly made me sign onto the project.

The key things that worked for me when writing The Promise with Lucy, was the amount of planning and discussion we had at key stages of the book. As character relationships changed and developed, we’d talk about how this impacted on the story and where we wanted to go with it. Because Lucy had some really clear ideas and an incredible outline, I understood what she wanted. We also allowed each other time and room for ideas to grow. Never adding deadlines onto each other, made our working relationship easier. What might surprise people, (given that both Lucy and I are the creative type), is that we have never argued. We get along really well, and admire and respect each other, we’re open and honest, and I feel that The Promise in part reflects our own relationship.

Lucy: I couldn’t have felt more comfortable working with Kathleen. She is a pure delight and so inspiring. She was so supportive when I mentioned about my dyslexia and we worked together to bring The Promise to life. I always look forward to our little meet ups as we both always have so much to catch up on. Her husband and daughters always make me feel so welcome when I go to see them. I keep thinking of little ideas that could be our next project to work on. When I worked as the Yorkshire Slasher in When Darkness Falls I knew it was only just the start and we would be working together so much more. I ended up reading When Darkness Falls again and then read The Other Side of the Looking Glass. Both of those books pulled me in and I couldn’t put them down. She is so creative and I’m not surprised she is an award-winning storyteller. She is a true friend and I am so happy we get to share this journey of The Promise together. I hope we get to do something else and share the experience again.

I loved our time onset of When Darkness Falls, Kathleen knew exactly what she wanted and how she wanted me to play the Yorkshire Slasher, I loved it! Thank you for everything you have done Kathleen, I really can’t thank you enough.

 

CONNECT WITH KATHLEEN & LUCY

Amazon (The Promise)

Kathleen Harryman: Amazon Author Page

Kathleen Harryman: Website

Lucy Marshall: Twitter

Kathleen Harryman: Twitter

Kathleen Harryman (BookBub)

CHAT WITH BRENDA GUITON

Brenda is well travelled and has led a colourful life, providing her with a rich source of material for her novels. They are in the suspense genre and Brenda feels she has mastered the ability to surprise. Now happily retired, she lives with her husband, Derek, in a South Yorkshire town in England.

What is your latest book?

Suspicion: A cold-case mystery & suspense, is set in the magnificent Yorkshire Dales.

Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

I always write the scenes in order. They appear in my mind’s eye like a reel of film.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

I edit each chapter as I go along (some might say excessively), but I have to feel reasonably satisfied with what I’ve written before moving on to the next chapter. Despite this, I still edit ruthlessly once the draft is finished. It’s the way I’ve always worked and, unlike many authors, I don’t find the editing process a bind. I enjoy restructuring sentences and refining my work to make it the best that it can be.

How much of your own personality goes into your characters?

It’s hard to be the judge of that; not too much, I hope, since some of my characters possess very unenviable traits! I have a strong personality; I’m tenacious, outspoken, and can be a tad too opinionated at times. As all of my books contain strong female characters, it’s fair to say that this will be reflected in my writing.

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

Yes and no. I have to know the fate of my main characters, even though the details haven’t been fully thought out. In other words, if one of them were to kill someone, the method isn’t always clear, but invariably comes to me as the story progresses. As for the title; I never worry about that until the book is finished.

What else have you written?

I have written a good few poems, but never had any of them published. This is mainly because I was inspired to write them after I lost my father. He was very special to me, so the poems are heartfelt and never intended for publication. A fellow author has read some of them and urged me to consider publication as she feels a lot of people would be able to relate to the sentiments.

I have also written several short plays, three of which were performed at the former Bradford Playhouse. These were page-to-stage productions with the minimum of props, but, nonetheless, for a paying public and all were well attended. As a newcomer to script writing, I was quite proud of this achievement.

Before retiring, I spent seven years as Administrator for an independent library where I produced a quarterly magazine. As editor, I had the freedom to write book reviews and articles which was a rich experience and helped to hone my writing skills.

What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?

I like writing dialogue, which I feel is my strong point. I particularly enjoy this when it involves a humorous character where I’m able to bring some wit or sarcasm into the conversation. I also enjoy writing the dramatic scenes after I’ve racked up the tension.

The thing I dislike the most is writing the synopsis and blurb. Perhaps because I have a tendency to overwrite, I struggle to condense a complex storyline into a few short sentences and never feel entirely satisfied with the results.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

I love writing characters I truly despise. It’s one of the joys of being a writer – the freedom to say and do as we please. How powerful is that?! In the same way that actors love playing the part of villains, I find bad characters great fun to write.

Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?

I love the interaction with members of the writing community, some of whom have become good friends. I enjoy seeing the success stories, reading the many interesting articles and hearing about the books that fellow authors are currently working on. It’s wonderful to receive such great support by way of retweets, but I it does concern me a little that people might tire of seeing the cover. Maybe I’m not alone in that?

How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?

I do a fair bit of research for my books, mostly on the Internet. As far as the setting goes, where possible, I try to visit the places I’m writing about. My debut novel Taking Chances alternates between the Yorkshire Dales and Cyprus, both being familiar to me. Suspicion is also set in the Dales, but I still revisited Bolton Abbey and its surrounding area as part of my research.

Do you have any secrets for effective time management?

I wish!! All I will say is that I try not to put myself under too much pressure by setting strict deadlines. I write as often as I possibly can, so there’s no point in beating myself up if the word count hasn’t gone according to plan on a particular day.

Do you feel your latest book is your personal favorite or one of your previous novels?

I am proud of all my books, but if I had to choose a favourite it would be my second novel At the End of the Sentence.’ I labored long and hard over that one, which is fast-paced and has a complex plot with lots of unexpected turns. Despite being suspenseful, I was able to bring some humour to it; the character who made this possible an ex-con (nickname RT). I loved writing RT and he still remains one of my favourite characters.

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

I live in a South Yorkshire town in England. If I had to move, it would be to somewhere warm. I hate the miserable British weather!

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you were younger? Five years ago?

That everything can change in the blink of an eye, particularly as we get older; the reason we should embrace every day.

Care to brag about your family?

I consider myself extremely lucky. I have a lovely son, a husband who supports and encourages me in everything I do, and two wonderful brothers – the youngest being only four days older than my son. We call him the golden child as he was a late arrival and helped to keep my parents young at heart. They shared 62 happy years together, which is an amazing feat, considering they met and married within two weeks of meeting (a book waiting to be written). With our support, despite her disabilities, Mum manages to live independently at the ripe old age of 94! She is still as bright as a button, so if her genes are anything to go by, I hope to have a good few years writing left in me.

If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?

I would love to be able to play a musical instrument. My dad played the piano and accordion, which gave us so much pleasure as children, especially at Christmas time.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I’m an armchair mountaineer and devour books on the subject. I have a shelf full of fascinating stories, written by some of the world’s most famous climbers. I’ve read so much about Everest that, in my dreams, I could find my way to the summit – amazing if you realised how much I hate the cold. Although the stories hold me in thrall, my fascination is more to do with the mindset of the climbers – what drives them to attempt such formidable challenges.

What are three things you think we can all do to make the world a better place?

Be kinder to one another.

Educate our children to be less materialistic.

Do everything within our power to help those in need, especially the homeless.

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

The sound of birdsong.

 

CONNECT WITH BRENDA

Amazon Author Page US

Amazon Author Page UK

Twitter

CHAT WITH MILLIE THOM

Millie Thom is a former geography and history teacher with a particular passion for the Anglo-Saxon and Viking period. She is the mother of six grown up children and lives near Lincoln in the U.K. Since retiring, Millie has written four books: the first three in her Sons of Kings historical fiction series, and a book of 85 flash fiction pieces and very short stories. Millie hopes to publish the fourth and last book in her series early in 2020.

Time to chat with Millie!

What is your latest book?

The last book I published was Wyvern of Wessex, the third book in my historical fiction series, Sons of Kings. It was published over a year ago and I’m feeling quite guilty at not having the fourth and final book in the series finished by now. Unfortunately, health issues in the family (including my own) have slowed me down, but I hope to have Book 4, King of the Anglo Saxons, published early in 2020.

The four books tell the story of King Alfred of Wessex – known as Alfred the Great in later centuries. Shadow of the Raven, Book 1 in the series, starts soon after Alfred’s birth and most of the events take place while he is still a child. This allowed me to focus more on my second protagonist, the fictional eleven-year-old son of real-life King Beorhtwulf of Mercia. Eadwulf’s story unfolds very differently to Alfred’s following his capture by raiding Danes and his future years as a thrall (slave) in the Danish lands.

In Book 2, Pit of Vipers, the focus is more on Alfred, although Eadwulf’s story also progresses significantly.

Wyvern of Wessex highlights difficult times for both characters and takes them through the storm to a period of relative peace. Initially, I intended to end the series at this point, but half way through Book 3, I decided to take the story to the end of Alfred’s life in order to show the full extent of his achievements. So, what I had intended to be a trilogy, simply became a series (or perhaps a quadrilogy!).

What challenges have you found in writing a series?

The biggest problem I’ve found with this particular series stems from the fact that I have two protagonists – one real-life, the other fictional. In telling Alfred’s story I need to make sure I keep to the historical timeline. Changing the dates of historical events is a definite no-no. Consequently, I also need to ensure that events in Eadwulf’s life ‘fit in’ with that timeline, especially as the two characters are linked by relationships within their families.

Other than that, there are the usual problems of keeping details consistent throughout the four books, even simple things like the ages and appearances of characters, and even their names. It wouldn’t do to have brown-eyed woman from one book suddenly becoming blue-eyed in the next. The changing appearance of characters and places over the years is something else I need to consider, especially as the series covers a period of fifty years.

Do you write under a pen name? If so, can you tell us why?

Millie Thom is a pen name, chosen because they are the names of my parents, Millie and Thomas who, sadly, passed away some years before I had the chance to start writing. My own name is actually Patricia, which I chose not to use as my author name simply because my married surname is just too boring! Naturally, my husband disagrees.

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

The answer to that is probably a bit of both. I’ve always loved history – any time period, any location – so, in a way, choosing to write historical fiction was a natural progression. Even many of my flash fiction pieces in A Dash of Flash have historical settings. The genre chose me because it was one of the subjects I taught throughout my teaching career, so I simply became more and more immersed in it over the years.

Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

Yes, I’m definitely a scene-by-scene author. I need to keep the chronology of the book intact so writing scenes from various parts of the book wouldn’t work for me. I tend to plan out events to be covered with their dates and so forth, and set out to work through them. However, it’s never as simple as that. Sometimes, characters lead me in unexpected directions as I write. If I’d written scenes from later in the book, I’m pretty sure I’d spend a lot of time modifying them due to ‘things’ that just seemed to have happened as I’d sunk into each scene.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

Despite all the advice about getting the story out in the first draft, I have to say that I do edit as I go along and tend to re-read the last section I wrote every time I start writing. I wouldn’t be happy thinking I might have left obvious errors in the text or glaring grammatical errors. As well as helping me to spot any typos – which I make a lot of –re-reading helps to get the story refocused in my head so I’m ready to move on.

How important is the choosing of character names to you? Have you ever decided on a name and then changed it because it wasn’t right for the character?

When writing historical fiction, authors are often confined to names in general usage at that time period. It would be ridiculous to call a young woman in Tudor England, Kylie, or Mercedes, for instance. As my series is set in the Anglo-Saxon period, many of my characters’ names are very different to those we recognise today. Many people of noble birth have names that begin with the prefix, ‘Aethel’, which simply means noble. Alfred’s father, for example, is called Aethelwulf, meaning Noble Wolf. Alfred’s four brothers and sister also have names beginning with Aethel – Aethelbald, for instance.

Names like these are certainly not easy on the eye or the tongue, and I’ve had a few reviewers say they found the names confusing. Unfortunately, as they are real, historical names, I can’t change them, but I do intend to add a pronunciation guide to all four books once the final one is ready for publication.

So many things influence the choice of character names, another being geographical location. In a novel set in India, we would expect at least some traditional Indian names. In contemporary novels, I’m sure many names are chosen to suit the personalities of the characters although, perhaps, giving a character a name totally at odds with his/her character could have an interesting effect.

How much time do you spend doing research for your books?

I’ve spent many months – probably years! – doing research for my series. When I first started to write about King Alfred, I knew little about him, other than the general idea that he stopped the Vikings from taking his kingdom and that he burnt a peasant woman’s cakes! Anglo Saxon and Viking history was rarely taught in schools years ago. We tended to leap from the Roman Empire to the Norman Conquest and leave the parts labelled the ‘Dark Ages’ between them alone. I happily delved into research, and had some fabulous ‘research holidays’ in the process. Apart from museums and sites in the U.K., we also went to Denmark doing the same, and had a wonderful trip to Andalusia in southern Spain as part of my research for Wyvern of Wessex.

I record and photograph anything I think might be of use, including details of buildings, landscapes and associated wildlife and vegetation. When I write, I’m careful to describe how these would have looked in the 9th century. To talk about horse chestnut trees or rabbits at that time, for instance, would be dreadful. It’s also important not to flood the book with irrelevant description that does not move the story along.

Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?

I don’t see the need for anyone else to read my books until they’re finished and have been edited, both by me and the professional editor I use. I often discuss scenes I’ve just written with friends and family and that helps me to think them through again myself. I’d hate anyone to read a really rubbishy piece of writing! Perhaps I’m just over-sensitive in this respect. But, hey, we’re all different, aren’t we?

Do you write anything besides novels? Care to share?

Yes, I also write flash fiction. I started writing it on my blog in 2015 and soon became addicted to it. I accumulated quite a lot of stories and in 2016, I published A Dash of Flash, an eclectic mix of eighty-five flash fiction pieces ranging from one hundred to a thousand words, although most are around two hundred words. Many are on my blog, but I wrote over twenty just for the book and roughly two-thirds are accompanied by colourful images from Shutterstock or Pixabay. I haven’t written any this past year, but I intend to return to it when my current WIP is published.

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?

I think the cover of a book needs to be eye-catching and give an idea of the genre, time period and an overall ‘feel’ of what the book is about. From what I’ve seen of people browsing around bookstores, most of them do (initially at least) judge a book by its cover! I wouldn’t know where to start with designing a cover image and have used a professional designer for the four books I’ve written so far. In general, I’m pleased with what he’s produced, although I was initially a little unsure about Eadwulf’s face on the cover of Shadow of the Raven (Book 1). The hair is the right colour but I can’t quite take to that nose… Lol

A lot of authors are frustrated by readers who don’t understand how important reviews are? What would you say to a reader who doesn’t think his or her review matters?

Reviews mean so much to most authors, including me, primarily as a means of letting us know what people think of our work. Nice, positive reviews can really spur us on with future projects, but it’s also important to treat negative ones as being helpful rather than damning. If a few reviewers find fault with a particular character or aspect of the story, perhaps we should look more closely at the issue in question and consider whether they could be right. Having said that, it’s important not to take individual criticisms to heart and just accept that not everyone is going to love our book!

Reviews are also a way of helping prospective readers to decide whether the book would appeal to them. After all, most of us are influenced by other people’s opinions. Unfortunately, many readers don’t bother to review at all, which is a shame. It doesn’t take long to write a short review, and just a sentence or two can be enough if time is an issue. However, I’ve seen some quite offensive reviews on Amazon, such as, Don’t bother with this one, it’s rubbish, and A five-year old could have written a better story. Comments like that aren’t helpful to either authors of possible readers and I can only wonder why some people feel the need to be so unpleasant.

What genre have you never written in that you’d like to try?

I’d love to write a murder mystery but it would still have to have an historical setting – and that isn’t just because I’m a history lover. I read a lot of contemporary crime novels and love them, but writing one would be a different matter. I have to confess I know zilch about police procedure, forensics or pathology, or even legal issues and court cases. So, a murder (or four, as in Midsomer Murders!) set in the past, would suit me much better. It would still involve a lot of research but it wouldn’t be as hard as delving into 21st century scientific methods of solving crimes.

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

We’ve been living midway between Newark and Lincoln in Nottinghamshire, UK, since our six children were young, and as all but one are still living in this area, I can’t see us moving away in the near future. I have to say, it’s ideally situated for travelling to most areas of the UK by either road or rail, and we have plenty of airports relatively close by. Lincoln’s a lovely old city, and holds a fabulous Christmas Market every year.

I often have yearnings to live in the Highlands of Scotland. The mountains and lochs are simply magnificent and instil a sense of calm in me. I suppose we’ll just have to be content with taking regular holidays up there.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Least favorite food?

I have lots of comfort foods and most of them are very calorific. Ice cream is a summer favourite, but I also love (and bake) cakes of all types. I adore Cadbury’s chocolate, but try not to eat it too often, but I give in rather a lot to salted snacks like crisps (US chips) and nuts, especially cashews. My least favourite food is shellfish of any type! Yuk.

What makes you angry?

Any form of cruelty, whether to other people or animals, makes me livid – cruelty to children particularly so.

What music soothes your soul?

Celtic music is my favourite at the end of a long and tiring day. Its hauntingly beautiful melodies and vocals conjure up visions of ancient mountains and forests, with tinkling streams winding between them. Perfect harmony and calm.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

 I’m very short – little over five foot nowadays. I console myself in knowing that Queen Victoria was even shorter than me, and she proved to be a real Mighty Mouse! Unfortunately, Victoria and I differ in the fact that she had lots of money and I haven’t.

CONNECT WITH MILLIE

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Goodreads

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Guest post by Terry Tyler: Where do writers get their ideas?

 

Hello, Lisette and her readers―and thank you so much for stopping by on the blog tour for Hope!

Lisette gave me free rein on subject matter for this article … which always makes my mind go completely blank. Then, the other day, I found my topic quite by accident when a reader asked me this question: Where do you get your ideas from?

Writers are often asked this, by readers, or by new writers who are putting fingers to keys for the first time. I shy away when asked in person, as I was the other day, as I find talking about what I do quite difficult; I say something like, ‘I dunno, it just happens’. Writing about it, though, is so much easier.

The truth is that ideas come from all sorts of places. The easiest, for me, was The Devil You Know, which came from the title of another book: The Serial Killer’s Wife. I saw it during an Amazon browse, and thought, wow―what it would be like to fear that the monster in the newspapers was your husband, or your son, or friend? The plot, and even the title and some of the main characters, appeared in my head, just like that.

It’s rarely that easy, though, and Hope was one of those that took me a long time to pull together in my mind.

A subject that interests me greatly is how the our thoughts are influenced by the media, especially what we see on social media sites, and how attitudes follow trends, and can be cyclical. One day, out of the blue, I began to wonder if there would ever be a backlash against the way that ‘fat-shaming’ is now such a no-no. Instead of the Dove cosmetics ethos of ‘everyone is beautiful in their own way’, which was maybe a reaction to the ‘size zero’ fad of the noughties, I considered how today’s young women would react if―as was the case when I was a teenager―fashion shops sold no size higher than a 14 (US size 10), and if even this size 14 was inches smaller than it is now.

Then I thought: what if fat-shaming became the norm? Would people be considered unemployable if they were ‘plus-size’? Could this prejudice be used as a tool by government and employers, in a world only a decade into the future when so many jobs will be lost through increased automation? If many people were unable to find work, for this reason and that of the downturn in employment opportunities, how would they live?

I had the beginning of a plot!

My books are always totally character driven, so I needed an observer who would watch all this coming to fruition―and, in my future UK, who better than a popular blogger and social media influencer? Lita Stone arrived in my head fully formed, with even her name attached; it happens like that, sometimes. Next, she would need what she saw in the online world to start affecting her personally―enter the ‘plus-size’ flatmate.

I had a great deal of trouble with the first draft of the book; I’d let it head off in directions that weren’t working, and I nearly scrapped it at 50K words in, but a discussion with my husband helped to streamline the plot. He asked me these two questions: Who is the bad guy? What is the struggle? It was only when I worked this out that the book fell back on track. I’m so glad we had that talk, because I believe Hope to be one of my best books.

If you’re at any stage of your writing career and are about to abandon a book because it’s not working, try discussing it with someone, because it really can help―and if you’re not a writer but a reader, believe me: those plots sometimes arrive out of nowhere, but, more often than not, they take a hell of a lot of mulling over before they hit the page!

Thank you, Lisette, for inviting me to your blog. 🙂

Terry Tyler’s nineteenth published work is a psychological thriller set in a dystopian near future – the UK, Year 2028.

Blogger Lita Stone and journalist Nick Freer live and work online, seeing life through soundbites, news TV and social media. Keeping the outside world at bay in their cozy flat, they observe the ruthless activities of the new PM and his celebrity fitness guru wife, Mona (#MoMo), with the mild outrage that can be quelled simply by writing another blog post.

Meanwhile, in the outside world, multinational conglomerate Nutricorp is busy buying up supermarket chains, controlling the media, and financing the new compounds for the homeless: the Hope Villages.

Lita and Nick suspect little of the danger that awaits the unfortunate, until the outside world catches up with them – and Lita is forced to discover a strength she never knew she possessed.

About the Author

Terry Tyler is the author of nineteen books available from Amazon, the latest being Hope, a dystopian psychological drama set in the UK, a decade into the future. She is currently at work on Blackthorn, a post-apocalyptic stand-alone story set in her fictional city of the same name. Proud to be independently published, Terry is an avid reader and book reviewer, and a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

Terry is a Walking Dead addict, and has a great interest in history, (particularly 14th-17th century), and sociological/cultural/anthropological stuff, generally. She loves South Park, Netflix, autumn and winter, and going for long walks in quiet places where there are lots of trees. She lives in the north east of England with her husband.

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Author Page: Amazon UK

Author Page: Amazon

 

 

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LOVE, LOOK AWAY: The non-sequel to Molly Hacker Is Too Picky!

 

Greetings, friends:

I never imagined that I would write a romantic comedy. But in 2009, I published one, Molly Hacker Is Too Picky!, and believe it or not, I didn’t even think of it as a rom-com. Rather, I thought of it as a book that allowed me to flex my comedy-writing muscles. And here I am, having just published my second romantic comedy, Love, Look Away.

Humor has always been part of my work. Even when I’m writing what might be considered dark and heavy, comedy is usually lurking around the corner, waiting to jump in and stir things up. Conversely, when I’m writing comedy, darkness often lurks as well.

Molly Hacker Is Too Picky! features a 32-year-old woman, a newspaper journalist in her home town of Swansea, New York (fictional), who has given herself one year to find Mr. Right.

To introduce Molly to readers, about eight months before the book’s publication, I started an illustrated blog at mollyhacker.com. Molly, the journalist, interviewed many creative people, but she also blogged about her own life, especially her dating life. The blog was tough to write, because I didn’t want to cover any topics that were in the novel or that in any way conflicted with the story.

As it turns out, Molly made lots of friends throughout the years. And the number one question from readers was almost always, “Are you going to write a sequel?” I always answered with a hard no. For one, Molly’s story had an ending and I had no idea where I could possibly take a sequel.

Additionally, while I had written a YA paranormal trilogy, The Desert Series, I didn’t want to write another series. I just wanted to write standalone novels that could be read in any order. Lastly, I didn’t expect I’d even write another rom-com.

But when I went to write my ninth book, after having written two literary fiction books in a row, Barrie Hill Reunion and Hotel Obscure: A Collection of Short Stories, I wasn’t ready to dive into my next idea. With everything going on in the world and my own state of being, it felt too burdensome for me. Like a lover of good food taking a spoonful of sorbet after each course of a gourmet meal, I needed a palate cleanser. And I needed to write more comedy.

So, I thought, while I’m not going to write a sequel about Molly’s life, why not write a new romantic comedy and set in the same town? Wouldn’t it be great to introduce brand-new characters, bring back Molly and a few others as supporting characters, and watch the fun begin? And that’s exactly what I did.

The heroine of Love, Look Away is 29-year-old Sage Gordon. Unlike Molly, a lover of designer clothes and Jimmy Choos, Sage prefers the Bohemian look and runs a metaphysical-themed gift shop, Sage Earth Gifts. Whereas Molly was always on the lookout for Mr. Right, Sage is on the “look away” from them.

As the book opens, Sage, after being burned five months prior by her fiancé, has no interest in meeting anyone. Aside from being hurt by the breakup, she’s never gotten over her childhood love, Jimmy Cole, who disappeared with his parents when Sage and he were both eleven years old. As a child, she always thought she’d marry him someday. As an adult, she knows he’s long gone. Nearly two decades have passed and there’s no trace. She wants to move on; but cannot deny that his disappearance not only haunts her but somehow keeps her from wanting to find someone new. She’s content to run her store, Sage Earth Gifts, and spend time with her dog, Rufus, her two cats, Finlay and Babaloo, and her friends and family. Do things become more complicated? Well of course they do!

Sage’s dog, Rufus

In Love, Look Away, Molly and her co-worker/best friend Randy, are friends of Sage’s. And, as in Molly Hacker Is Too Picky!, the town’s most visible socialite, Naomi Hall Benchley (The “She-Devil”), is still causing all kinds of trouble and sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. Seriously … some people just have nothing better to do!

Maybe some Molly readers who choose to pick up Love, Look Away will indeed see the book as a sequel, though I’m certainly not calling it that. (For readers who haven’t read Molly, but may wish to, rest assured the ending is not given away in the new book.)

Maybe, if I ever write a third book set in Swansea, I’ll probably give in and call it a series.

Thanks for reading and helping me introduce Love, Look Away.

 All of my books are available in both paperback and Kindle editions. And for those who are members of Kindle Unlimited, you can ready any of my books for free.

Click here (Amazon.com) to purchase either the Kindle of paperback edition.