WHEN YOU ASSUME… part 2 in the series EDITING: MORE THAN I BEFORE E.

.

 

“When you assume, you make an ASS of U and ME”

By Laura Daly

When you’re editing, whether it’s your own work or someone else’s, you may find there are common problems in the writing that boil down to this: assumptions being made about what readers know.

Readers don’t know what you know. They don’t have plot outlines in front of them, detailed character sketches and descriptions of scenes. With a nonfiction book, other than an index and a table of contents, they may not understand fully what the scope of your book is. They don’t know what’s coming up, what’s happened before page 1, what’s possibly going to happen in the epilogue. If they’re reading a nonfiction book—a biochemistry textbook, for instance—they don’t know that a term that comes up in chapter 2 is going to be fully defined in chapter 6, so they don’t have to worry that in chapter 2 they’re totally lost in the language. Whether you’re dealing with a work of fiction or nonfiction, you owe it to your readers to set up scenes, set up information, fill them in on what you know.

Readers, for instance, won’t know what something looks like until you describe it, which doesn’t mean you have to go into minute detail, but you do have to establish the details so that THEY MAKE SENSE. They won’t know, for instance, why the protagonist, Joe Blow (Who’s he?), got in the car (What car? Where? How? Why?) and drove to Slobville (From where?) to visit a sick friend, Thelma (Who?), who lives on the block near the abandoned factory that has the big ready-to-crumble smokestack that … Where were we? And it’s not because you’re the omniscient narrator and know all, and therefore they couldn’t possibly know what you know. I mean they don’t have the facts, Jack.

{Yeah, I know, creative writers in Iowa are waving minimalism banners right now. But, see, minimalism, or the lack of details, has to have a point. And not providing details—information, definitions, description, context—can be really annoying to readers when there isn’t a point to the writing and when the lack of details is because of a writer’s (fill in the blank) sloppiness/laziness/ignorance.)

BooksEditing

Readers don’t know about your characters, for example, their backgrounds and traits. And by characters, I’m not just thinking of fictional characters. For me, living, breathing people in works of history are characters who, even if they’re well known, need to have details established—personality traits, say, or events in early life that can be seen as influencing the person’s later decisions. A common approach taken in historical biographies these days is to assume that readers are already fully familiar with a figure’s general life facts, so there’s no need for the writer to review them. I understand that not every biography should be a multivolume work, but I wonder how helpful it is to not set facts within a context, to instead assume that readers know that context and can make their own connections.

I’ve come across this same problem in memoirs. Now, in a memoir, the reason why details aren’t given may be because the subject doesn’t want to spill the beans on everything or doesn’t quite remember the events or wants to gloss over details that are, oh, embarrassing. But a memoir should feel honest to readers, and that means details should be connected and built on, and readers’ familiarity shouldn’t be assumed. A guy can’t be describing with relish his bachelorhood and sexual exploits with numerous womenfolk in various parts of the country while on the road with his band, say, then throw in, “By the way, I got married.” To whom? When? More importantly, why? Then the wife doesn’t show up again until five chapters later, when wife number 2 comes on the scene after the divorce. Say what?

Set up details early so that later details have a context, have meaning.

This assumption problem reminds me of a pithy rebuke by Felix Unger in an episode of “The Odd Couple”:

“When you assume, you make an ASS of U and ME.”

(A friend of mine recently groused that he never agreed with Unger’s dictum: “The first part makes sense. But how does what U do make ME look bad? It’s on U.”)

Whether we agree with what Mr. Unger says or not, we can all agree that making assumptions can be very bad in writing. Don’t do it.

Oh, and don’t be an ass.

285005_250819414929166_5880600_n

Laura Daly, a freelance editor, writer, and proofreader based in Maywood, NJ, has worked on fiction and nonfiction trade books, textbooks, trade magazines, and journals. She can be reached at laurajdaly@earthlink.net.

CHAT WITH RAINE THOMAS

-1

Raine Thomas is the award-winning author of bestselling Young Adult and New Adult fiction. Known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination, Raine recently signed with multiple award-winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions to bring her popular Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to the big screen. She’s a proud indie author who is living the dream. When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

Time to chat with Raine!

What is your latest book?

My upcoming release (date TBD) is titled For Everly. It’s a New Adult Contemporary Romance novel about a bright and determined 22-year-old college student working on her doctorate in physical therapy and a 24-year-old professional baseball player struggling to recover from an injury before his team doctors and the media catch wind of it. Everly Wallace and Cole Parker are the main characters, and they’ve been so much fun to write!

Is your recent book part of a series?

For Everly is a standalone novel. This is the first standalone I’ve written, so I’m excited about it.

What else have you written?

I’ve written six YA fantasy/romance novels and one short story about the Estilorian plane. The books are broken up into two trilogies, the Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy (Becoming, Central and Foretold), and the Firstborn Trilogy (Defy, Shift and Elder). The short story is free on Amazon and is called The Prophecy. My first novel, Becoming, won an award in Nashville last year at the UtopYA Awards, as did the trailer for Defy. Switching from fantasy to contemporary has been a challenge, but I’m really enjoying it.

RaineT2

What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?

I think the greatest misconception is that indie authors haven’t “paid their dues.” I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I assume that people who say it are referring to the fact that indie authors haven’t gone through the same steps as traditionally published authors to get their books on the market. While that’s true, I certainly disagree that indie authors haven’t worked at least as hard as a traditionally published author in achieving their publication goals. The “dues” might be different, but we’re all paying them.

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

Every single time I write a book! I start with an outline, but I never stick to it. The characters always make the story their own. In For Everly, the main characters accidentally kissed not long after they met. It was totally “unscripted” and made my day.

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?

In my experience, all new authors can benefit from attempting the traditional route to publication. While many agents won’t give custom feedback for every submission, some do. Those are the ones who offer the most priceless criticism and/or praise about your book. Smart authors will take that feedback and make productive changes to their work.

Also, writing query letters is a humbling experience. They take a certain knack and plenty of research to do effectively. By going through the process of writing and submitting queries and synopses, authors get to know their books in a new light. This is also the first stage of learning to accept rejection. By attempting the traditional route to publications, authors can develop a thicker skin.

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?

The first few times you receive negative feedback about your book, it hurts. Most authors take every review personally, so negative criticism strikes the heart. What I suggest for new authors is to go to Amazon and look up your favorite books. Then read the reviews. You’ll see that even the books you find to be the most amazing examples of literature on the planet have negative reviews. There’s no pleasing every reader, so brush off the criticism and get back to writing!

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 place a very high level of importance on my book cover design. My very first sales were a direct result of the fact that I used my book cover as my Twitter avatar. Without knowing anything about the book, people tweeted me asking where they could buy it. Readers absolutely judge books by their covers. Invest in a spectacular designer!

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

Funny enough, this happened to me after I published Elder (Firstborn Trilogy #1) at the end of December. I had every intention of writing a futuristic YA thriller series with a male protagonist named Parish. Then I sat down to begin fleshing out the world where Parish and his love interest, Azure, lived.

I couldn’t get past some of the most basic questions. As I struggled to think things through, another story that had been dancing around in the back of my mind kept pushing itself forward. I tried to ignore it, as I hadn’t planned on writing a New Adult Contemporary Romance…but I couldn’t. Thus, For Everly will be my next release. Sorry, Parish!

RaineT1

What’s the coolest surprise you’ve ever had?

The bridal shower hosted by my cohorts in my master’s degree program. I’m very hard to surprise, and they planned it to take place during class. I was completely blown away.

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

My husband recently had a pendant custom-made for me in the design of the emblem from our publishing company, Iambe Books, LLC. It’s both beautiful and a symbol of all we’ve achieved in the past couple years. I know I’ll treasure it for years to come.

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

I’d love to be craftier and more artistic. I thought I would get into scrapbooking, but I did one page and that was it for me. I’d love to be able to design my own book covers and swag, but I just don’t have the ability. I marvel over people with artistic talent!

What makes you angry?

Websites that pirate books. I know how much time, work and effort goes into publishing a book, whether it’s traditionally or indie published. Sites that sell books for profit without the authors’ consent make me quite angry.

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

Pay it forward, treat others with kindness and read lots of books!

CONNECT WITH RAINE

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Pinterest

LinkedIn

Website

Blog

CHAT WITH DOROTHY DREYER

DorothyDreyer

Dorothy Dreyer has always believed in magic. She loves reading, writing, movies, take-out, chocolate, and spending time with her family and friends. Half-American and half-Filipino, Dorothy lives in Germany with her husband and two children. She also tends to sing, so keep her away from your karaoke bars.

Time to chat with Dorothy!

What is your latest book?

My Sister’s Reaper releases May 29th. It’s my debut novel and is in the genre young adult urban fantasy/paranormal.

DorothySisReaper

Here’s the blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Zadie’s first mistake was telling the boy she liked she could bring her dead sister back to life. Her second mistake was actually doing it.

When Zadie accidentally messes with the Reaper’s Rite that should have claimed her sister Mara, things go horribly wrong. Mara isn’t the same anymore—Zadie isn’t even sure she’s completely human, and to top it off, a Reaper is determined to collect Mara’s soul no matter what. Now Zadie must figure out how to defeat her sister’s Reaper, or let Mara die … this time for good.

Is your recent book part of a series?

Yes! The second book in the series comes out in May, 2014.

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

It’s funny, but when I start to write dialogue, my characters suddenly become snarky or witty. I don’t know where that comes from. Maybe I’ve been suppressing something, lol.

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

The title usually comes to me at some point between starting the book and the first few chapters. But I don’t fixate myself on the title, because I know this could easily change at the hand of my editor or publisher. The ending is important for me to know, however. I need direction. And if I don’t know where I’m going, I can’t take the first step.

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

This is something that has changed as I’ve gotten into the business. I used to just draft a novel and push forward, full steam ahead, without looking back until I got to the end. But now that I’ve been doing revisions with my editors and I know what they look for and have learned how to better formulate my prose, I tend to revise as I go along. The downside to this is it now takes me much longer to turn out a book.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Read! That’s my number one advice. Know what’s out there and learn from it. My second piece of advice is: Never give up!

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 have two people I trust with my work as I go along. The first is my crit partner, who is also my pub sister and co-blogger, Elizabeth Holloway. She’s a critique ninja and I’m so glad I have her drop-kicking my chapters into shape. The second is a very dear friend of mine, Sarah Howell, who never says no to reading my work. She works for an editor and has a degree in English Lit, so I really trust her judgment.

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 have to admit, a book cover can make or break a purchase for me. I love gorgeous, inviting covers, and having that eye candy on my book shelf is a thrill. I am very pleased with my book cover. The designer who created it makes just beautiful art.

What are the most important traits you look for in a friend?

Honesty. A sense of humor. And someone who doesn’t judge other people or see the negative side of everything.

Care to brag about your family?

What kind of mother would I be if I didn’t brag about my kids?

My  fourteen-year-old daughter is an up-and-coming talent. She’s been in theater school for almost seven years now, had a role in a musical, was cast in a Siemens ad campaign, and interned at the state opera house. Her performance group has put on shows all over Germany. She’s an amazing singer and has plans to start her own YouTube channel. She also writes on the side, which I’m pretty stoked about.

My twelve-year-old son, whose main hobby is playing video games, is an awesome guitarist. It gives me chills when he plays, and I think it’s awesome that he loves making music in this way. He wants to form a band one day and also give guitar lessons when he’s older.

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

Photography. I take blurry pictures. I don’t know why. I think my hands shake too much, lol. Or maybe I’m just cursed. I would love to be able to set up an awesome shot and make it turn out like art.

What’s your favorite film of all times?

I’m going to have to say Moulin Rouge, though many films come in close to this one. I love everything about Moulin Rouge, from the music, the comedy, and of course Ewan McGregor.

CONNECT WITH DOROTHY

Website

Facebook Author Page

Twitter

Goodreads

Barnes & Noble

Amazon.com link coming this spring!

CHAT WITH W. M. DRISCOLL

 

WDriscoll

W.M. Driscoll is a poet and author. He can currently be found working on The Gods Trilogies.

Time to chat with Will!

What is your latest book?

The Living Gods. It’s a high fantasy turn with a lit bent. Hopefully more interesting than the description makes it sound.

LivingGods

Is your recent book part of a series?

It is. The series is called, The Gods Trilogies. It’s not really about gods; name’s more ironic than descriptive. It is about all sorts of fantastical events and people though. I saw it originally as a nine-book series, a trilogy of trilogies: the three books in the first set, The Living Gods (The Living Gods, Awakening in the Hollow and The Dark Gate) are in a finished form with the first book out and the second slated for a drop later this year. The next two trilogies, The Gods of Festival and The Fall of the Gods are still in the workshop getting their wheels put on. What comes of it beyond the first three books is still anybody’s guess.

What else have you written?

I’ve published a few short prose pieces over the years, done some ghost writing and scripts (plays and screenplays) too, but primarily I’m a poet. Consider the rest to be a grandiose hobby.

Lyrics

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

Not often enough for me, to be sure. Consider such things gifts from the muse and treat them accordingly. I had one character who started out as a plot device to help the protagonist accomplish some minor but important bit of business, then was supposed to disappear without explanation. Trouble was the character wouldn’t leave; he showed up later in the chapter, joined the main character and is now a POV character with his own story arc and an integral part in the series conclusion. Nobody asked me if that’s what I wanted, but that’s how it happened. Another one, a character I loved writing (a fallen she-devil creature with a heart of gold) stayed behind to help the main characters escape some evil minions. She was supposed to have died there. Later, one of the main antagonists even tells my POV character that she is dead, just to turn the knife a bit. Imagine my surprise when she turned up later in the book alive. My protagonist even tells her that the evil baddie said she was dead, to which she laughs and says he’s a liar (an observation very true to his character). The whole thing shocked the hell out of me, but works beautifully for the story, I think.

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

When it comes to writing in general, I love to write poetry the most. It comes to me naturally, like breathing; always has. I could no more stop it than stop my pulse. Has its downside, of course, especially in a time and place that values surface and money over depth and art. As for long prose, Dorothy Parker summed it up for me when she said, “I hate writing, I love having written.” I guess that’s it for me too. I enjoy putting the ### on the last page knowing I eked out everything I could with what I brought to it. Of course, I’ll doubt it all later and want to rework it, but for that moment, I can be content.

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

Not at all. I write organically, as if I’m on a journey each time and don’t know where it might take me. I do grow, shape and prune it as I go along though, am more gardener than god, if you see what I mean. I always want to keep myself available mentally for lightning to strike, for a character to say or do something I hadn’t consciously intended, or an event to present itself in a different way. That’s when the magic happens. If the muse lights a fire in my mind and gives me one or the other, the ending or the title to start with (something that rarely happens), I’ll take it, but I won’t hesitate to change either as the full piece becomes clearer to me.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

When I was starting out, hawking scripts in L.A., an old pro gave me the best advice I ever got for any hard, lonely and often disappointing and depressing pursuit like writing. He said, “If you can do anything else. Do it.” It was only when I eventually realized that I couldn’t, that I became content to put up with the downside.

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

Don’t know how candid I should be with this one. Let me put it this way, I’ve seen people who are artists at it all and who truly seem to enjoy it, but I don’t. I hate Twitter like crotch-rash. Facebook makes me itch. Feel like the poor cousin at the party on LinkedIn. The only thing about any of it that I can stand is meeting the occasional authentic human being and making a real connection. I can tolerate Pinterest and DeviantArt a little more than the others, I think, because I’m a frustrated artist. Would be painting nudes or landscapes instead of writing, if I had any artistic talent (and my wife would let me have young models running nude around the place). As it is, my stick figures don’t even resemble stick figures. I look at all the social stuff as a part of the job, I guess, and not my favorite part.

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

Since my novels are set in a fantasy world, everything is research, my life, history, the name of a tool used to card wool, all of it. There’s nothing good or bad, fair or foul, important or trivial that I can’t appropriate in one way or another and use in my world creating.

Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you? In what way?

Yes. People have liked it. Being my own worst critic, that always surprises me

If you were to write a non-fiction book, what might it be about?

If I were to write a non-fiction book it would probably be a philosophical treatise. I’ve thirty years of thoughts, aphorisms, dreams and observations written, first in notebooks, then later in computer files, just waiting for me to be foolish enough to try to pull it into some coherent form. Still, given my odd take on most things, without the recognizable characters and narrative flourishes, I don’t know who would ever want to read it.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you get around it?

I don’t think poets get writer’s block, at least I don’t. That’s for diligent, disciplined and paid writers. We poets work mostly on inspiration, not perspiration. Since being a poet, for me, is a lifestyle choice as well as a vocation, I can merely live when I don’t feel like writing and that becomes my work too.

Would you like to write a short poem for us?

Only if you’d like to do the rest of the interview for me. Seriously, I couldn’t, even if I wanted to. After all these years, and hundreds and hundreds of poems, I can’t write poetry on demand. Maybe there are some prodigies or savants or prodigious craftspeople who can, and make it more than schlock, but not me. What I can do is share a short poem with you that I wrote for a poet friend. He’s an extreme minimalist in his writing, and one day decided it would be fun to take a poem of mine and cut it to the bone then share it with everyone. It was his subtle way of chiding me for being grandiose and verbose, two sins I’m particularly guilty of, by the way. So, I published a short, two stanza rhyming note for all to see addressing him as “Pith-master”- it went like this:

Pith–master must you take my vines

and rend them down to juice and rinds?

skimming off the vintage hue for whom

a thimble full will do?

 

Pith–master, Pith–master, such a wine

is only for the serpentine

Pith–master, Pith–master, such a hue

is for those pithy piths like you!

If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?

Imagine what any thirteen-year-old boy would do. I would do worse.

What are the most important traits you look for in a friend?

Never really thought about it. Don’t pick my friends, my heart does. Once that happens, for good or ill, they’re friends. Some stay, some leave, some return. For the most part, I stay the same.

Care to brag about your family?

Always. It all starts, revolves around, and ends with my wife, Kelly, a very remarkable woman. Graduated from Hampshire College in Massachusetts having studied journalism and worked at the Soho Weekly News for a while in NYC. She was accepted to the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, a very prestigious institution, but threw the opportunity away to sing in an ‘80’s rock band called Lipstick. She’s a tall leggy blonde of Danish descent and the pictures of her onstage from that time, with her platinum eighties hair, all decked out in black leather, are stunning. When the band broke up after a few productive years, she decided she’d like to run restaurants and without any training made a career of it, first in upscale urban ones (the kind that serve three raviolis with a lot of attitude and charge you twenty bucks) then later in mega-chain businesses. Frankly, the fact that she married me at all and has put up with me for all this time speaks volumes about the powers of the heart to cloud good judgment.

We have three wonderful kids together, well not kids anymore, I guess. Our son Sean is twenty-three and an aspiring young writer, despite the fact that I tried to talk him out of it on numerous occasions. He has a big heart, a wonderful intellect and imagination and is developing real chops. Our daughter Erin is Twenty-one. She’s a makeup artist and a striking alternative model complete with dreads and piercings. We’re very proud of her. And then there’s our youngest son, Erik, who’s still in high school. As smart as a whip and a really decent young man. Can’t wait to see what path he chooses.

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

Two come instantly to mind. I’d love to be able to paint, and not just for the nude models. Like to do landscapes and evocative paintings too. If not that, I’d want to be a composer of classical music, maybe show tunes as well. Since I quickly discovered as a young man, in my pursuit of both, that talent was required, I’ve had to settle for being a music and art lover.

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

Both are hard for me to choose. There are too many. If I were forced to say, I’d have to go with The Godfather and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Citizen Kane, Gone with the Wind, Casablanca on the movie side and Shakespeare’s collected plays and poems, Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird on the books side are close behind them, along with many, many others.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

I love anime. Love the art and think the storytelling, often very Japanese in nature with long story arcs and character development, is marvelous. There are a few I’ve seen that I wouldn’t want to broadcast, but mostly watch the more serious adult themed and historical fare.

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

Am a bad one to ask this question. Am more cold and philosophical than hot and fervent when it comes to changing a world (if by that you mean us, human nature) that history and all the wisdom traditions seem to fundamentally agree, changes very little from era to era. But, I could be wrong. I’m only a poet, which makes me basically a walking heart. I try to change the world every day by changing my world, by loving what I do, who I meet and being as vital and decent as I can be. I’ll leave spirit perfecting, governing and crusading to those talented at such things, and wish them well. I would love to be proven wrong in this.

CONNECT WITH WILL

Facebook

Goodreads

Twitter

LinkedIn

 

CHAT WITH PETER CARROLL

PeterCarrollPeter Carroll is a Scotsman with a penchant for black humour and gritty realism. He lives in Dunblane with his wife and daughter and as well as writing he plays bass guitar. Peter has three novels under his belt so far. His literary heroes include Stephen King, Irvine Welsh and Christopher Brookmyre.

Time to chat with Peter!

What is your latest book?

I’m just about to launch the third in a series of police procedurals featuring Scottish cop, Adam Stark, called Stark Realities. It opens with the apparent suicide of a young woman but, as Stark begins to investigate, all is not as it seems. The bridge featured on the cover plays a pivotal part in the story and the photo was taken by a talented friend, Alan Gray.

STARK

What else have you written?

As I said, Stark Realities is the third Adam Stark novel. The first is set in London and called Stark Contrasts, while the follow-up sees him return to Scotland and is called Stark Choices. I’ve also written a couple of Glasgow gangster novels – In Many Ways and Drivers – and an apocalyptic horror story called Pandora’s Pitbull.

PeterC_InManyWaysWhat part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most?

I love the flow of ideas; those moments when you think, “Aha! If that happens, then this could happen, and, and, and…”

The least?

I really don’t like the physical process of typing! I am not a single finger operator but nor am I a touch typist, so I find it frustratingly slow translating thoughts into sentences.

PandorasPitbull

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 all the time as I go. I know there are plenty of “gurus” out there who insist you should write it all first, then go back and edit, but I am not comfortable doing that. I like editing actually! I think I’m pretty good at it. This approach helps me recheck the flow of the story, adapt structure, plot and so on as I go, rather than getting to the end only to find a tedious pile of typos, grammatical errors and plot holes!

CHOICES

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

There are lots of good things about Social Media – advice and other learning opportunities abound, nice people offer help (and I enjoy reciprocating), it can be amusing and let’s face it, it’s free advertising and marketing.

The only thing I find frustrating is the automation people are increasingly using on Twitter. Just today, someone I added to a list, automatically retweeted my last tweet using some program or other, but it was part of an exchange of banter between me and a Twitter pal that made no sense in isolation and would baffle anyone reading it on its own. A potentially helpful gesture rendered pointless by a computer. The Direct Messaging is another bugbear of mine. Yesterday, a guy sent me a link to his book asking if I’d downloaded my review copy yet. Puzzled, as I didn’t recall offering to review his book, I opened his account only to see he’d sent the identical spam email to dozens of his followers. Not cool, so I told him so and unfollowed. Using lists to follow people’s tweets used to help clear the wheat from the chafe. However, now people schedule dozens of tweets a day and the list becomes a long procession of repeated tweets, clogging up the timeline and preventing me seeing all those I’ve picked out as being interesting or whatever.

Did you ever get your review copy of “A”? Getting great reviews. Contact me if you need 1 or get it at Did you ever get your review copy of “A”? Getting great reviews. Contact me if you need 1 or get it at http://amzn.to/RmXnpU  #Boston #CIA

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

Like most indie writers I don’t have a budget for marketing; I just pick up whatever freebies I can as I go. I’ve added my books to several free promo sites, offered review copies (with only minor success so far), joined Goodreads, set up a website with a blog, and created Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest profiles.

My Mum is funny; she took it upon herself to contact the local paper, without me knowing, and they have since interviewed me twice. Once, I made the front page! Not a high circulation but nice nonetheless.

My wife got the local librarian enthused enough to go and buy a copy of In Many Ways (the only one on paperback at the moment) for our town library. That was a big moment for me. Finding out someone actually borrowed it was awesome!

I think it’s very hard to judge how any of these things directly affect sales, but I definitely saw a rise in sales after the newspaper features. I probably don’t use LinkedIn or Google+ enough for them to be having much influence.

DRIVERS

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?

The problem with all art is that it’s subjective. Two people can have polar opposite views of the very same object, painting, film, book or piece of music. You have to accept this and therefore know that sometime, somewhere, someone will read your book and not like it. You are not alone. Pick a classic book or something by your favourite author and look at the one star reviews they get. If it happens to them, it will happen to you. Assuming there’s not an avalanche of poor reviews, you probably wrote something decent.

Have you been involved with the Kindle Direct Program? If yes, do you believe it’s worthwhile?

I have, and with mixed results. I think it’s an approach that appears to work best with a series; where you can offer the first book for free, as a way in, and hope it leads to increased sales of the subsequent novels. My plan is to do that with Stark and see how I get on.

Where do you live now?

I live in Dunblane – a small, provincial town in central Scotland, UK.

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

The only place I’ve visited in the world that I thought would be a realistic alternative to Scotland was Australia. Scotland is great in lots of ways: people, scenery, wildlife, safety, liberal attitudes, and untroubled by natural disasters — but it rains a lot (and I mean a LOT!) and I would like to see blue skies and sunshine more often.

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

Without doubt, I’d add a recording studio. I love music – I play bass, guitar and a little keyboard and love composing. Having a proper facility to make music would be awesome.

What’s the coolest surprise you’ve ever had?

For my 30th birthday, my wife organized a surprise trip to the Canadian Rockies to go birding and wildlife watching. It was a brilliant trip and how she, my workmates and other family members kept it secret was impressive (and a little worrying!).

CONNECT WITH PETER

Website and Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Google+

Goodreads

 

 

CHAT WITH DIONNE LISTER

DionneListerDionne Lister is an author, editor, co-host of Tweep nation podcast and lives in Sydney with her husband and two sons. She is almost finished a creative writing degree and is working on the second book in her epic fantasy series. Dionne loves sharing her stories but wishes they wouldn’t keep her awake at night.

She has recently published a humorous women’s fiction under the name of Eloise March. Close Call is the first in the series and is also a standalone novella.

Time to chat with Dionne!

What is your latest book?

Shadows of the Realm, an epic fantasy ideal for adults and teens.

SOTR

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

Yes, how did you know? I’ve been asked to sit on a panel at the NSW Writers Centre’s Speculative Fiction Festival on 16th March. I’ll be talking about my experiences with self-publishing. It’s an honour because all of the authors attending are some of the best traditionally published fantasy authors in Australia like Kate Forsyth (the festival’s organizer) and Ian Irvine. I was shocked to be invited and I can’t wait.

Is your recent book part of a series?

Yes. I’m working on the sequel and I am hoping (and by that I mean madly typing and praying) that it will be out by the end of March, 2013.

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

Psst, wanna buy some dragons?

What else have you written?

I’ve written a collection of short stories called Dark Spaces. They’re all suspenseful and involve intense emotions. There may even be a psycho or two in there as well.

What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?

That we don’t take the business seriously. Unfortunately it’s true for a lot of us (there’s no smoke without fire) but I’m studying writing at university, have my books edited and I’ve had professional covers done for my fantasy series. I want to put out the best books I can and I plan to be doing this for a long time.

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

A lot. The worst is when you find out a character you love is going to die. I had tears in my eyes last time they dropped that on me.

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

I love writing the first draft and I hate it from the third edit onwards. I don’t enjoy it again until I get the cover and press ‘publish’.

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

I never know the title until the book is finished. I was racing to find one for my first book because the cover art was ready and they were waiting on me to give them the title. The one I’m currently half way through writing is nameless and I hope to think of a name before the cover is done lol. I don’t always know how the book will end, as I write as I go, but I do know the ending of the current book and the end of the series.

CloseCall

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’m an editor by profession so I sometimes edit as I go. It’s painful and slows the process so I have to remind myself to stop and keep writing. Before I was an editor I was more free to write and wait till the book was finished before I did any editing.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Have patience, know that after the tenth rejection you’ll get used to it, learn the craft – good writers are ones who learn, practice and take legitimate criticism on board. Don’t ask someone for feedback then argue about it. Remember that reading is a subjective pastime and that not everyone will love your work so it’s best to get over it quickly and move on. And remember that you write because you love it.

Can you tell us about your road to publication?

I wrote Shadows of the Realm about nine years ago. I had it critiqued, worked on it a bit and sent it out to publishers (this is in a time before digital publishing was around). I finally realised, after a ton of rejections, that my writing needed work and I was not going to be the next squllionaire best-seller (surprise, surprise). Two years ago I started a creative writing degree and a year ago I had my book edited, went through it about eight times, employed an artist to do the cover and then self-published. I have no regrets.

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

I love that I’ve met so many awesome, encouraging writers who have helped me get where I am. If it weren’t for those people I would have no blog and wouldn’t be self-published. What I don’t like is that I love chatting and I get stuck on there too often. It’s like a giant magnet and I’m a helpless iron filing; I just can’t get away. If it weren’t for social media I wouldn’t be published, but I would have written three more books lol.

What do you like best about the books you read? What do you like least?

I love poetic prose that has me saying I wish I could write like that, and in-depth characters. I also like humour (when it’s called for) and writing that allows me to escape.

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

He, he, none. I chose to write epic fantasy not only because I loved it, but also because there is no research involved. It’s my world and you can’t tell me it’s wrong.

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 have a friend who offered to beta read and she is always waiting for the next installment so I’m letting her read it and I’ve told some of my secrets to another author friend too (I just can’t help myself). I get so excited when I’m writing that I just want everyone to see it.

Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you? In what way?

Every time someone loves it and has great things to say, I get excited as if it were the first time. I’m surprised because even though I love my book, it doesn’t mean anyone else will and it’s such a thrill when I know someone has enjoyed something I’ve done.

Do you write anything besides novels? Care to share?

I write short stories and flash fiction. I find with flash fiction I can get emotions out in a hurry and it tends to be intense

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

I was born to write. As a child in primary school, one of my teachers wrote, “Dionne is a daydreamer,” on my report card. It was meant as a negative criticism but now I look back and laugh and think, “Yay, I’m a daydreamer.”

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?

Oh my God yes! Synopsiseseses (oops) suck (can I say suck, here?). I hate them and they are evil. How do you squish a whole novel into a paragraph or even a page? You’re supposed to write the relative exciting bits, but to an author, all their book is exciting and of course, it never sounds as good as you know the book is ;).

If you were to write a non-fiction book, what might it be about?

Hmm, that’s a tough one. Maybe my dad’s life because he was born in a village in Cyprus (he’s Greek) and his mother used to get angry at him and he’d have to sleep up a tree to avoid getting a beating, and of course he always complains how he never had shoes.

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?

I’d say do both at the same time. There is no penalty for being self-published nowadays. When I started (9 years ago) it was the kiss of death and was called ‘vanity publishing’. Now you have the opportunity to have people actually read your book, which is really all we writers want (not to say that fame and fortune isn’t desirable). At the same time, if you do it right, you can attract the attention of publishers and agents. Harper Voyager is a prime example of the industry taking notice of self-published writers. They had an open submission for writers without agents and although not everyone who submitted had self-published, it shows they know there is potential out there. If I hadn’t self-published, Kate Forsyth would never have asked me to sit on the panel and who knows what will come out of that? At the very least, more people will know who I am and that I have a book out there.

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

Hmm, now where to start? Hours and hours every day on social media—Twitter, Facebook and to a lesser extent Goodreads and Google+. You have to build relationships and respect so people know you are producing a good product. Your friends are the ones who help spread the word on their blogs when your book comes out or if you have a sale (you, of course, will do the same for them). I also gave out maybe six or seven free copies in exchange for HONEST reviews at the beginning. I figured I needed to know the truth and if it happened to be that people liked the book I could keep going, and if not, I would have to look at trying to improve it.

I’ve tried Facebook ads, which did NOT work—they got me plenty of page likes but no sales. I ran an ad on Bookbub for my latest sale and it was a massive success. Shadows of the Realm reached #610 paid overall on Amazon and #1 in two categories. It worked because I already had some good reviews and the cover was well done. If you don’t have a good cover or a certain amount of 4 and 5 star reviews, a lot of the places who advertise won’t approve the ad (again it comes down to being professional).

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

My latest one is my baby and I love it.

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?

Lol! I’m smiling (I think I must be cruel). The first few criticisms will sting like you’ve been slapped across the face with a wet fish and the pain might last for a few days, but then you toughen up and go about your day. Everyone has an opinion and their own taste so you have to respect that and not get offended. I think the bad reviews hurt less if you have confidence in your work. The reverse is when everyone is saying the same thing. Maybe they’re saying the book has too many typos or grammar errors—take that seriously because if you haven’t put out the best product you are ripping off your customers and they have every right to get snarky. You are also helping to give indie authors a bad name.

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

I did a couple of small giveaways and I received reviews from every winner so yes, it is a great way to promote your book.

Have you been involved with the Kindle Direct Program? If yes, do you believe it’s worthwhile?

No I haven’t and I don’t believe in giving books away for free or exclusivity. The disliking of the free thing is not because I think my work is so precious, but so many people give away free books that readers have e-readers stuffed with 500 free books that they may never read. In my opinion, if the reader has paid for the book they are more likely to read it because they have invested something in it already. I understand it can get an author more readers but it’s not something I’m interested in doing.

Are you an early bird writer or night owl? And do you have any must haves like coffee, chocolates, wine, music or something else?

Music is a must, although I can write without it, but I like that it creates a mood. I start writing at about 10.30 am (after I’ve had 2 coffees) and write on and off until about 10 pm. I have to fit writing in with looking after two kids, a university degree and editing work.

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?

My book cover is just as important as what’s inside. When I grew up I loved to see what the covers would be in my favourite series and I know I was disappointed with some of the covers done for Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. I think especially with fantasy there is an expectation of dramatic covers that capture the spirit and feel of the world you’ve created. I employed Sydney artist Robert Baird to do my first cover, and soon I’ll be working with him on the cover of my next book. It’s the best money I ever spent.

Every day brings forth new changes and shifts in the world of publishing. Any predictions about the future?

I wish I knew. I’m hoping there is some middle ground where professional indie authors are more easily found by the buying public. I would like to see the big publishers stay around because most of the time they set a standard we should all be following in terms of editing and putting out good material. I would hate for readers to read so much bad writing that it becomes the expected and accepted norm. I do think publishers are recruiting books from the ranks of indie authors and I think we may be taken more seriously in the future.

How would you define your style of writing?

I actually write in different styles for fantasy as opposed to my short stories. My writing is more descriptive in my fantasy novels and more economical with the short stories because of the settings and subject matter. I like to use evocative words and create an intense mood as well as in-depth characters. I don’t use a lot of big words and hope it’s writing that anyone can enjoy.

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

Not yet. I may change my mind when my fantasy series is finished, but I still get to spend every day with them.

Have you ever wished that you could bring a character to life? If so, which one and why?

Sinjenasta is a giant panther in Shadows of the Realm. He is strong, cynical and loving and of course very cuddly with big floppy paws. I’d definitely love to have him around.

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?

They are very important because it gives other readers an idea of what to expect from your book. It also matters for your Amazon ranking which, if you rank highly enough, helps boost sales. But I understand that some people don’t feel confident to write a review, or maybe they feel they don’t have time. I guess if it’s something you’ve never done you might feel shy about doing it. But readers, if you love a book (or hate it enough to warn others), please consider doing a review, even something simple. I had one of the most wonderful reviews the other day and it was two sentences. A lady just wrote that she really enjoyed reading it with her son and they thought it was great and a lot of fun.

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

No, but I have with short stories. I’ll have a character and a setting and nothing else and start writing. The stories write themselves sometimes. When that happens it’s always a great feeling.

If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?

I’d stand next to people and whisper, “Shadows of the Realm by Dionne Lister. It’s the best book ever. Go and buy it.”

What’s the coolest surprise you’ve ever had?

My husband used to make surfboards when he was young, and even after he had moved on to other work, he made one for me for my birthday and it was a total surprise. Surfing is something I did before kids lol.

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

I’d be a better artist. I love to draw and paint but it doesn’t come as naturally as writing.

What makes you angry?

Oh wow, there are so many things *snickers*. I get angry when people walk behind my car when I’m reversing out of a parking spot (those little white lights aren’t there for decoration) and I also get angry when people dent my car with their doors at the shops and don’t leave a note (you know who you are, and karma is gonna get you).

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

Stick up for what you believe is right and support those asking for equality, try not to judge people because you don’t know where they’ve been or how they got to where they are, do something nice for someone because it not only makes you feel good, but spreads happiness and goodwill.

CONNECT WITH DIONNE

Twitter

Blog

Amazon

 

It’s Only Logical: part 1 in the series EDITING: MORE THAN I BEFORE E.

 


It’s Only Logical: part 1 in the series EDITING: MORE THAN I BEFORE E
by Laura Daly

Tomorrow is the last day of Words Matter Week, so it seems appropriate to start a blog entry on editing and writing. My friend Lisette had suggested a while ago that because I’ve been a freelance editor since 1984, I might have some knowledge, tidbits, tricks of the trade, or advice to give on the subject. I believe my initial reaction to her was “Huh?” because, from my perspective, I’m still learning how to be an editor. The longer I work at it, the more I realize how much I don’t know, how much there is for me to learn. But she persisted, and I can never say no to Ms. Brodey, so, what the heck, I’ll give it a shot and put out some ideas and offer some suggestions and probably some two-bit opinions that I hope may be helpful.

Where to begin: Well, I think I’ll start with internal logic and why it’s a very good thing to watch for in any writing. Now, I’m not using the term in the strict Introduction to Aristotelian Logic sense. I mean it in the sense of maintaining coherency and consistency. So, for example, when writing a work of fiction, that means paying attention to the details: the descriptions of characters, their backgrounds, their traits (character A is X, Y, and Z); the main developments in the plot and their relations to each other (plot point B happens because of points C and D, which are foreshadowed by point E); the time, both within the actual boundaries of the plot and before and after the storyline (plot point F occurs at X location on the story’s timeline); the locations—where events in the narrative take place, where characters are from or are going, that kind of thing (character G came from place H and currently is in place I and will wind up in place J); and the influences on the storyline, or why things occur (plot point K happens because of L, M, and N). (Being a J school grad, I resorted, if you noticed, to calling on the 5Ws: the who, what, when, where, and why of the story.)

CandleGlassBook

Writers have different ways of keeping track of these details. Many do up copious lists, outlines, and descriptions, per character or chapter or major developments in the plot. Some do character sketches that may include details that never make their way into the story but that act as biographies for characters and help to keep traits, descriptions, and so on, clear. For a story covering a particular period of time, whether 24 hours or 3 months or 200 years, a timeline showing the plot points is helpful. Not all of these recorded details may wind up in the final story, but they help a writer stay true to the characters and the plot.

Editors can keep track, for instance, of descriptions of characters: Susie, 24, blonde, lives in Aberdeen, Maryland, hates crab, came from Dubuque; Butch, 39, wears flannel shirts, speaks with a drawl, once worked as a carny; plot point O takes place on planet Zoltar, which is two light-years from Boldorf—whatever details the author provides. With an involved storyline, editors may want to keep some notes or rely on the very helpful find feature in Word. Also, quick fact checking is very important and useful (even though publishers these days don’t seem to bother having fact checkers on staff). I’ve been asked to submit lists of characters, with descriptions, along with place names, as part of style sheets. As a matter of course for works of nonfiction, I keep lists of place names and proper names, along with a basic timeline, when needed. I also do fact checks, which are speeded up thanks to online sources. (A discussion on finding reliable sources might be good for another blog entry down the road.)

WomanReadingUnderTree-300x240

More importantly, things have to make sense within the context of the work. They have to be logical, even if a story itself is not meant to be realistic. So, for instance, a character who is in his late 20s in a story, which takes place now, can’t have been the set designer for a movie from 1985; that would mean he would have to be at least in his 50s, unless he was a child genius set designer, in which case he could be in his 40s. (This kind of discrepancy actually came up in a recent project.) A villain who is creeping up the stairs to a second-floor bedroom can’t suddenly be downstairs in the basement burying a body unless a gap in time is acknowledged in the story. An Edwardian gentleman can’t recite “In Flanders Fields.” You get the idea.

So, the lesson today is be consistent, be coherent, be logical. Oh, and don’t forget: words matter.

If you’ve come across odd internal logic problems in anything you’ve read recently or want to share some ideas on how you maintain internal logic in your own writing or editing, join the discussion.

285005_250819414929166_5880600_n

Laura Daly, a freelance editor, writer, and proofreader based in Maywood, NJ, has worked on fiction and nonfiction trade books, textbooks, trade magazines, and journals. She can be reached at laurajdaly@earthlink.net.

CHAT WITH BRENDA SORRELS

BrendaSorrels

Brenda Sorrels is a writer who grew up in Fargo, ND and attended Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY.  She now lives in Dallas with her family, including small dog, Charlotte – and spends summers writing in Connecticut.

Time to chat with Brenda!

What is your latest book?

The Bachelor Farmers, an historical love story set in Northern Minnesota in the winter of 1919.

Is your recent book a part of a series?

No, it’s not part of a series, but there will be a sequel.

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

The Bachelor Farmers – a love story to fall in love with!

What else have you written?

I’ve been writing short stories for many years, but this is my first published novel.

What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?

I think the biggest misconception is that the quality of the writing is not up to the level of traditionally published writers. This is changing fast. Many Indie writers, (just like all writers) are working very hard to become better at their craft. They’re having their work professionally edited, and are serious about taking it to the next level. In a way I think Indie writers are harder workers because they almost always must do everything themselves…this includes writing intros, synopses, bios, inside covers, back-of-book content, questions for discussion – you name it. Plus, they must promote themselves with very little help.

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

Great question. This happened a few times in The Bachelor Farmers which was a big part of how the story developed. I don’t want to give away the plot, but when I was certain one of the characters would not act a certain way, I switched the action to his brother and it became a huge twist in the story. I try to think out my characters ahead of time, but as you write they develop and sometimes go in directions you could not possibly have imagined. It’s one of the things I enjoy most about writing which leads into your next question:

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

The character development is definitely one of the most enjoyable parts of writing for me. There are always surprises around the corner! You have the story line going one way and then suddenly you realize that one of your characters would never do that…so you have to adjust and make some changes. They end up going in another direction which causes other things to happen.

I also really love the beginning when you have an idea and you must flesh it out.  I usually do an outline first, then write a short story.  If there’s enough there, and I love it, I will think about expanding it.  Right now I have several short stories that I think would make wonderful novels.

I love all of it really, but if I had to pick something I enjoyed the least it would be spending a lot of time writing a scene or say, an ending and realizing it doesn’t work, then having to scratch it and start all over again.  It’s a lot of work and very time-consuming!

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

I believe this is different for every writer or maybe I should say may be different for every book. For The Bachelor Farmers, I had the title in my mind well ahead of time. I just liked it and it triggered the story for me, though there was a lot of discussion in the end. Some people in my inner circle thought it could have been misleading, that people would associate it with old men in overalls, rather than young, hunky Norwegian brothers! I love the title and am glad I hung in there and kept it. The ending was changed a few times. I remember at one point having the entire book, but no ending. It took a few months to iron that out. Like I said before, I wrote a couple of endings before I was happy.

5969178BC_Front Cover

For my upcoming book, The Way Back ‘Round, I had no title for awhile and then my editor came up with it and I knew it was perfect.

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 work with my editor during the entire process of writing, so I would say I edit excessively as I write. I will do a first draft and when I’m ready I’ll give it to Margaret Doud, my friend and editor. She’ll read it and give me notes. I’ll redo it, add scenes, expand, change things, etc. on and on. We go back and forth like this until the changes we’re handing off fade away. You could actually fiddle with a book forever. At some point you must declare it “finished” and move on.   It takes many months and rewrites to get to that point.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

I wrote a small article for my blog which anyone can read on my website called  How I Wrote a Book. Here are some of the highlights: Start thinking of yourself as a writer, create a sacred space, write every day, take a writing class, write a messy first draft, try a short story first, find an editor, find a publisher. All of these things are important. You must think you’re a writer to become one…that’s key. After that, find the discipline to sit down and get the words on paper…if you can get this far I would also add…don’t send your work out too early. This is a huge mistake that most of us have made. You must edit and rewrite and edit and rewrite. Most of the work is really in the rewrite. I would also caution new writers to be careful who they share their work with. When you’re first starting out, you’re very fragile and almost no one hits a home run the first time to bat. Find someone you can work with who believes in your work. Be gentle with yourself and have patience!

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

I have had a lot to learn with social media. I didn’t realize how time consuming it would be and how much work it is to keep up with it. Because I am in the middle of writing another book I’ve had to make some serious choices about how much time I devote to social media. I decided to cut back quite a bit because I wanted to get back to my writing. This is one of the problems with being an indie writer!

I understand now that social media really is about building relationships and interacting with people. Right now I devote my time to Facebook, my book page there, my blog, my reading group on Shelfari and reviews I do for Goodreads, guest blogs and interviews like this one. I also do some Twitter and  Linkedin.

Favorite part is meeting wonderful people.  Least favorite is the time it takes!

What do you like best about the books you read?  What do you like least?

I like books best when they are well written, portray characters with dimension and have interesting plots. I love it when characters are developed as much as possible. I just read an interview with the creator of Downton Abbey and he said he thinks a big part of the show’s success is that even the minor characters are fully fleshed out. If you watch that series you’ll see it is true! I also love books that have a strong sense of place which I think is very true for The Bachelor Farmers. A story that engages all of the senses as much as possible.  I like books where things happen.

I dislike bad writing, but I might excuse it (a bit) if the story itself is really good.  I don’t like a lot of gratuitous anything… violence, bad language etc. I am really sensitive to anything regarding animals and hate cruelty, even a little. I didn’t enjoy the book Like Water For Elephants because of this reason.  I don’t read a lot of fantasy or sci-fi, though I know some of it can be really good and a lot of fun.  I don’t like stories that take place in someone’s mind or are too psychological. I prefer stories to be a little more concrete. I also don’t like books that are too stylistic, where the writer is trying too hard with the language.

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

I’d been writing a lot of short stories and I had it in my mind that I wanted to make one of them a love story that would be set in very beautiful place. A sense of place to me is important and is a huge part of this book. I have a large extended family and on my mother’s side (15 kids in her family) I had two uncles that were ranch hands, farmers, who never married. The concept stuck with me because it was so odd. When we think of farms we always think of families. When we think of bachelor farmers we think of old guys in overalls, but I wanted to make these bachelor farmers young and hunky – which I did. Ironically, these boys love horses and horses ended up playing a significant role in the story, especially at the end. Many Norwegians settled in ND and MN and so I thought of Northern Minnesota, and I began to research that area.  I did a lot of research on line, but I also found the Voices of America books on ND, MN, Pioneer Women, Cass County and several others were great. A River Runs Through It, by Norman Maclean was one of my favorites for the ambiance and feel of the forest, etc.  The Haymakers by Steven Hoffbeck, Spirit of the North and The Lonely Land by Sigurd Olson, Tales of Spirit Mountain by Anne Crooks.  I also read countless articles on how the land up north was settled, who lived there and what happened. The Native Americans at the time, the Ojibwa, were in and amongst the Swedes, Norwegians, Finns, Danes, and French Traders – and the logging business was thriving. All of this played into the story. Mahal, a beautiful half-Ojibwa woman is hired as the brothers’ cook when her abusive husband is injured in a logging accident.

Is there a question I haven’t asked you that you would like to answer?  If so, what is it?

Yes, what is my new book about?

The Way Back ‘Round is a story of family and friendship, of a boy who makes an innocent, but terrible choice that haunts him for the rest of his life.

The story begins in the summer of 1937, rural Minnesota, when twelve-year-old Jake Frye breaks a promise to his parents that results in a tragedy that shatters his close-knit family. Unable to face his guilt, Jake hops a freight train joining thousands of other depression-era men and boys riding the rails. Fate brings him together with another boy named Franz and they form a friendship as close as brothers.

As they journey through “jungle” camps pitched along the routes to picking fruit in California, cotton in Texas, a Roosevelt Conservation Corps Camp for itinerant men and WWII – they face the ultimate challenge. Will they survive the cold hungry life on the road or be killed by one of the brutal “Bulls” who patrol the tracks? Will Franz ever marry the red-headed girl he dreams about? Will Jake ever see his family again?

As challenges are met, Jake learns what it takes to survive in an unfair world, what it means to forgive and ultimately what it means to love. Themes of friendship and family, loss and guilt weave through the story and reinforce the truth that our lives are shaped by the choices we make.

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?

As I mentioned before I work very closely with my editor through the entire process. I also have a group of what I call my “Core Readers.” These are very smart, literary friends who like to read and will give me their feedback. I give different people different drafts at different times. It all depends on how I’m feeling or what I want to know.

Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you?  In what way?

Yes, some of the reactions and feedback has surprised me.  I was surprised at how people got attached to certain characters and why. Some people mentioned the sadness and their feelings for different things that happened. It surprised me because I hadn’t given much thought to people’s reactions, etc. I just wrote the story that was inside of me. I imagine I’ll have many more surprises down the line.

Do you write anything besides novels?  Care to share?

I write a lot of short stories as I’ve mentioned.  I also write a blog every month and post it on my website.

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

I have always loved writing though as a child it was letter writing, journaling, pen pals, etc. I developed a real love for it in college but didn’t start taking workshops until years later when I was married. I got really serious around eight years ago and have been going strong ever since.

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?

I will admit that it’s not one of my favorite things to do.  It’s one of the most difficult things to write, but I also think it is invaluable in helping a writer articulate to other people what their book is about.

If you were to write a non-fiction book, what might it be about?

This is amazing because I was just thinking about this the other day. I would like to write a book on what it takes to be a good step-mom. I’ve been married for 13  years and have two wonderful stepdaughters. I’d like to share my experience.  Most of the times stepmoms get a bad rap and I’d like to write a book about how being a stepmom can be a rich and rewarding experience.

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?

I believe that this really depends on the writer. If you have the time and patience to pursue the traditional route, it’s probably worth giving it a try. It would be wonderful to have help with promotion, publicity, etc. though for new writers, I’m told publishing companies don’t really do that much. It’s not an easy route either way, I think. Traditional publishing takes a lot of the writer’s income unless you land a huge book deal somewhere. Indie publishing is growing and you have more control over your destiny. If you go the traditional route you must find an agent  (this could take forever!) They then, have to sell your book to the publisher (this could take forever) and then who knows when or if they will ever publish it. If you’re very young and have years and years before you, it could be worth it. If you’re impatient and want to do your own thing, there are so many choices now – it’s really quite wonderful.

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

Another great question!  I’ve done as much as I can via social media.  I’ve tried all of it, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linkedin, Amazon Boards, Goodreads, Shelfari, Pinterest on and on. I wish I had time to do more. This is by far, the biggest challenge I am facing right now. Getting people to review the book, leave reviews on Amazon and other places, etc. has been the most important thing and I believe has helped me the most. I’ve decided to cut back and do the things I enjoy doing, because I need my time to keep writing. Right now Facebook is the biggest thing for me and I’ve been able to connect with some great people like you! I’ve gotten into Pinterest too and love it. I matched photographs with dialogue from the book, so it’s like looking at a small movie. Really fun! I think it helps to do interviews like this one and anything else that comes your way, book clubs, book fairs, etc. Anything at all to get the word out. All of these things present an enormous challenge to time management, so you have to pick and choose the ones you enjoy and the ones that will give you the biggest amount of momentum.

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

It is because this is my first published novel, but I’m also really excited about The Way Back ‘Round which I hope to have out within the next couple of months.

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

Take what they say and if something rings true for you like – how to improve your writing, do it in the next book. Otherwise try not to think about it and move on…keep going. Understand that not everyone is going to like everything you write.

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

Yes, I think giveaways are fantastic!  I’ve done several and people love them.  I would definitely recommend doing as many as you can handle.

Have you been involved with the Kindle Direct Program?  If yes, do you believe it’s worthwhile?

I’ve never been involved with Kindle Direct.

Are you an early bird or night owl? And do you have any must haves like coffee, chocolates, wine, music or something else?

I do my best work at night. I’m not a morning person at all. I like to get up and get all of my errands out of the way for the day. Once I sit down at my desk I do not like to be disturbed and I can go until all hours of the night. That’s what I enjoy most about writing in Connecticut. It’s quiet and there are few disturbances. An afternoon cup of coffee or tea is nice and sometimes at night when I’m winding down, a glass of wine. I like to do a final read-through after a day’s work with a glass of wine. It makes me sleepy and when I’m done, I’m ready to head back for the night!

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 place a huge amount of importance on the cover design. This is the first meeting people will have with your book. If they are not attracted to the cover, they may not even pick it up. I don’t think you can spend too much time designing the cover. I spent hours and days searching for the perfect photograph for my book cover. I love the cover and never tire of looking at the image. I’ve also had many people comment on how much they love the cover. I would say take your time…do all that you can do to make it perfect.

Every day brings forth new changes and shifts in the world of publishing.  Any predictions about the future?

I think that indie publishing is going to keep moving into the mainstream and will continue to gain respect as more and more indie authors are discovered.  I also think there will be more electronic reading…the trends that are happening now will continue. However, I also believe that there will always be a desire for real books. There is nothing like the feel of a real book in your hands. I love my Kindle but I also love my books…books warm up a room, they make you feel good, you can write in the margins and pick them up and turn them over, give them as gifts. There will always be people who feel like this.  I think there will always be people who will gravitate to the small bookstores too.  Some small bookstores will make it, others won’t…but I don’t believe they will ever die out altogether. At least I hope not!

How would you define your style of writing?

I am extremely visual and I think of my writing as descriptive with a lyrical quality to it.

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?

For a reader who doesn’t think reviews are important, I would argue that many times it is one of the only tools that potential readers have to help them find a new book. Unless someone recommends it to you or you read about it somewhere, how are you going to find out about what a book is about? Reviews help the writer get the word out about their work, but it’s also extremely helpful to go to new readers to help them not waste time and money on something they will not like, etc. It helps readers as much as writers. As writers, we are going to have to keep emphasizing this to our friends and readers. If you want to help a writer, there is no better way than to leave them a good review on one of the social media sites.

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

I live in Dallas, Texas now but grew up in Fargo, North Dakota then headed east for college. After graduating from Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY, I worked in NYC as an editor for Mademoiselle Magazine. I moved to Wilton, Connecticut with my first husband and lived there most of my adult life. My first husband died suddenly at a young age, and I decided Los Angeles would be a great place to start anew. I ended up working for the Fox Broadcasting Company in National Media, where we promoted the shows that ran on the Fox Network.  Movies and storytelling is what LA is all about, and it was here that my interest in writing really began to take shape. For the next five years, I took countless classes through the UCLA Extension program on storytelling, character development, script analysis, etc. However, I missed the change of seasons, my house, the beauty of Connecticut and eventually moved back east.

Eventually, I married Barry Sorrels, my college boyfriend (he went to Columbia University in NYC) and moved to Texas.  I live in Dallas now with my husband and small dog, Charlotte. I have two step-daughters who are grown but are a big part of my life. I like to return to Wilton to write, especially over the summer months when it’s too hot in Texas. If I ever had to move again, it would be back to Connecticut I’m sure.

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

If I could add a dream room to my house I would add a very personal writing space, cozy but not too small either. I’d have floor to ceiling bookshelves with all of my favorite books…a couple large windows, a fireplace, a large desk, my favorite pictures hanging on the walls…a special spot for my small dog, Charlotte.

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

I think we could make the world a better place if we all slowed down a bit.  Everyone I know, including myself, is always short on time or rushing to get somewhere or do something. Our culture could take a few lessons from the Europeans…longer vacations, more time off for family, etc. If we slowed the pace I think we’d become more tolerant of one another. We’d be more likely to know who our neighbors are and to get involved if they need help. On the other hand I also believe that people are basically good and in some ways things are better than they used to be. There is a lot more opportunity out there for writers and anyone willing to work hard to make their dreams a reality.

I think the world would be a better place if we went back to some of the core values of our grandparents’ era. Less materialism and more emphasis on what’s really important in life, like the intangibles…time spent with a loved one, caring for a pet, growing a garden, picking flowers, reading a child a book, saying a prayer now and then…all of the lessons that come from the countless things in our everyday lives that we take for granted.

I think the world would be a better place if every person lived consciously,  (In fact, I just wrote a blog about this very subject!)  if they thought about their own imprint on the planet and what it means for themselves and other people. I think more people would take the time to recycle and show concern for environmental  issues – the quality of our air, the state of our oceans, forests, the animals and other people around the world. The good news is that there are a lot of people out there who are thinking about the way they live and getting more involved in their communities, etc.  If everyone did their part, it would make a huge difference.

 CONNECT WITH BRENDA

Amazon

Barnes &  Noble

Website

Facebook

Twitter

 

 

A POET IS PUBLISHED – A MERE 50+ YEARS LATER

 

 

Hi, Everyone:

How many of you remember being read to by your mother or father when you were a child?

When I was a child, I remember my mother reading poetry to my brother and me, and as I grew up, I remember her writing it. During her 20s and 30s, she wrote hundreds of poems. In her late 30s, she went back to work, and her love for writing poetry was set aside.

My mother, Dr. Jean Lisette Brodey, a retired Temple University journalism professor, is now in her 80s. About a year ago, I asked her where her poems were, and she said she feared they were lost. I knew they were not, as I’d seen them in her house. During a visit back to Philadelphia in September 2012, I found the poetry and began making plans to choose 50-some poems for a small collection.

FINALMyWayToAnywhere

That is how the book My Way to Anywhere began. Most of the poetry, expressed through imagery, abstract concepts, and word portraits, is about people who affected my mother’s life. My favorite poem in the book is called “An Ending.” It is a poem that tells of the death of my mother’s friend’s 27-year-old husband who died of cancer.

Here is an excerpt:

Why do we rend the days with our grief?

He would not have it so

For he respected life

Too much to bewail its passing

And death was too obscure

To have a place in his philosophy.

The thing has been decreed

(he would have said)

So if you have to pause

Let it be to reason

Not to mutter or complain

Then go on to ponder things

That somehow can be explained.

Death is a void, that’s all.

He would not toy with idle questions

For reason was his god and he was twenty-seven.

On a lighter note, there is a section of the book called FOR CHILDREN. Here is one short poem:

2

A wondrous number is 2.

There’s so much

2 can do!

2’s less than 3

2’s more than 1.

2 is an awful lot of fun!

My Way to Anywhere is not my mother’s first book. In 1983, through Westminster Press, she published Mid-Life Careers.

Mid-life Careers

JAY LENO AND THE CHICKEN WINGS

The heading above is probably the last thing you’d expect in a blog about my mother and her poetry book. Well, let me explain.

When Mid-Life Careers came out, my mother did a great deal of publicity for the book in Philadelphia, New York, and Los Angeles.

One of her bookings was on an early morning Los Angeles talk show, and Jay Leno was one of the other guests. I have no idea why, but Jay was cooking up chicken wings on the show. My mother had five minutes to talk about her book, and while on the air, Jay came over to her and said he’d like “the doctor” to taste his chicken wings. My mother wasn’t about to give up her five minutes tasting Jay’s chicken wings and promptly declined, whereupon Jay called her a “party pooper” or something like that. After that, she was never a fan of Jay’s. I think she’s gotten over it, though. But I do remember having to rip off the cover of her TV Guide when he was on it. (And yes, it was the very same cover seen below!)

JayLeno

On a New York talk show, my mother was lucky enough to be a guest along with legendary singer Eartha Kitt and after the show enjoyed a wonderful lunch with her.

But the most memorable moment after the publication of Mid-Life Careers was seeing a downtown Philadelphia bookstore filled with copies of her book. What author wouldn’t love that?

Throughout her career as a tenured professor at Temple University teaching public relations, my mother won many prestigious awards, including induction into the Philadelphia Public Relations Association’s Hall of Fame.

PLEASE MEET DR. JEAN LISETTE BRODEY

Mom

Well, enough of my reminiscing. I have interviewed my mother for this blog, and I do hope you’ll enjoy meeting her.

When did your love of poetry begin?

When I was about five years old, my mother read Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses to me. It was better than hearing a story. The rhymes delighted me, and I found them to be lots of fun. Because the poems were read to me on a regular basis, they became a part of my young life. I still remember some of the poems by heart, such as “My Shadow” and “The Swing.”

Do you remember when you wrote your first poem?

I don’t remember my first poem. But when I was in the first or second grade, I wrote a poem and showed it to my father. I told him that I had written it, but he didn’t seem to believe me. He asked me again if I had written it and then asked me if I had copied it out of a poetry book. I was pleased that he thought it was that good, but I was also hurt that he didn’t think I had written it.

Did any of your grade school teachers recognize your talent for writing poetry?

I can’t recall which grade it was, but I had a teacher named Mrs. Schulke who liked my poetry so much that she had it illustrated by a talented student named George Logan and put it together in a book for me.

Did your love for poetry continue throughout junior high and high school?

Yes, as a matter of fact, under my photo yearbook in Philadelphia’s General Louis Wagner Junior High School, I stated that I wanted to be a journalist when I grew up. I didn’t really know what journalists did; I just knew that they wrote. And I figured that they wrote poetry.

I remember writing poems for special occasions. A poem I wrote for my aunt Nancy is still in my head. It goes like this:

On Christmas and your birthday,

Any occasion of the year,

You can always depend on stockings,

That come from Nancy dear.

You earned a degree in journalism from Penn State University. What did you hope to do with your degree?

I wanted a job that involved writing, but I had no specific expectations. At a local youth hostel, while attending a meeting for hiking and camping enthusiasts, I met a man who was a job recruiter. Through him, I was hired at the Frank H. Fleer Company in Philadelphia. The company manufactured Double Bubble gum, and I was hired to edit the company’s internal publication and to write facts and fortunes for bubble gum wrappers. During my three years at this company, I got married and then became pregnant with the person interviewing me right now.

When did you seriously begin writing poetry?

Once I stopped working outside the home, my love for writing poetry became more intense.

How did you judge your own work? Did you think you were a good poet? How does one define “good” in terms of poetry?

The answers are complex. For every poem I wrote, I had a general idea of what I wanted to say and how I hoped readers would perceive it. Even though I wrote in abstract terms, it was always my hope that my words would stir the reader. My right to use the label “poet” often changed depending on my own feelings about a poem and other people’s comments. Sometimes how I felt had nothing to do with the poetry and everything to do with what was going on in my life.

You felt very strongly about the widow of poet Edgar Lee Masters, Ellen Coyne Masters. She had a great influence on your work. Please tell us more.

I met Mrs. Masters at Penn State (Ogontz campus), where she was teaching an adult class in reading literature. When I first saw her, I had strong negative feelings. But those feelings changed very quickly into positive ones. She had a strong personality, and I suppose not knowing her at first, I perceived her differently.

Shortly after meeting her, I read her late husband’s masterpiece, Spoon River Anthology, which is a collection of fictional epitaphs about a community called Spoon River. I was inspired by the work of Edgar Lee Masters. I even wrote some fictional epitaphs of my own in the same vein. [Two of them are included in My Way to Anywhere.] I also was inspired to write poems about the poet and his wife.

Mrs. Masters was gracious enough to look at my poetry from time to time and encouraged me to write more. Positive reinforcement from her gave me an incredible joie de vivre.

Do you remember the first time one of your poems was accepted for publication?

Yes! My family and I had been away on vacation, and the post office was holding my mail. When I went to collect the mail, I saw a letter from a national poetry magazine. I opened it up and found out that it was an acceptance. I was overjoyed, thrilled, and, most importantly, felt like a poet.

Who are some of your favorite poets to read?

My favorite poet is Wallace Stevens. I also love Emily Dickinson, Amy Lowell, Walt Whitman, James Joyce, e. e. cummings, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Theodore Roethke, William Wordsworth, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and, of course, Edgar Lee Masters.

Your poetry is now being published some 50 to 60 years after you wrote it. How does that make you feel?

Wonderful. I had stopped writing poetry after I went back to work. Several years later, I earned my master’s and doctorate degrees in education and worked until retirement as a journalism professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, so there was no time in my life to pursue poetry. Having this collection of my poetry published now makes me realize how important poetry has always been to me.

Thanks for a great interview, Mom!

September 14, 2014: It is with a very heavy heart that I must add that my mother died on April 30, 2014. I was blessed to be with her at the very end.

Buy Links for My Way to Anywhere

Amazon (Paperback)

Amazon (Kindle)

Barnes & Noble (Nook)

Amazon UK

 

 

Save

CHAT WITH MOLLY RINGLE

 

 

Molly Ringle has been writing stories since middle school, and especially likes creating fiction about love, humor, and frequently the paranormal. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family, because a climate without rain would make her sad.

MollyRingleTime to chat with Molly!

Can you tell us about your road to publication?

It got off to a slow start, with years and years of rejections, nibbles that ended up going nowhere, and publication by small houses that soon went out of business. But finally in 2008 The Wild Rose Press accepted my manuscript, The Ghost Downstairs. Hurray! My experience with that press was so positive that I decided to approach another small press (Central Avenue Publishing) two years later for one of my YA titles, What Scotland Taught Me. The editors there have turned out to be wonderful and attentive too, and we’re now talking together about my next novel, a YA paranormal based in Greek mythology.

MollyScotland

What do you like best about the books you read? What do you like least?

I like novels that bring a setting alive for me, and have lovable characters who feel real. Moments of humor are always appreciated, as well as fresh ways of phrasing things; and, of course, a plot that makes me want to keep reading. Accordingly, books I dislike tend to feature anything that bores me or pulls me out of the moment: info dump (“the author did a lot of research and is going to make you pay for it”), characters who are flat or annoying or who don’t lift a finger to get themselves out of scrapes, and clunky phrases or excessive clichés.

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

One type of research I did with both What Scotland Taught Me and Relatively Honest was to employ Britpickers. I’ve been to the UK, but my memory isn’t perfect, and neither is Internet research. So I sent the manuscripts to British friends and begged them to fix the dialects, the setting details, anything they could catch. And I’m glad I did, because they all caught things I never would have guessed were wrong.

MollyRelativelyHonest

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?

When I was a teenager, I used to have my sister and friends read my works in progress. But these days I feel more comfortable composing a semi-decent complete draft before unveiling it to others. I tend to feel first drafts are not to be seen. I do my own first round of fixes and edits before even letting the beta readers see it. If nothing else, I don’t want to make everyone tired of the story before it’s even officially done. For my upcoming YA paranormal, I have posted occasional small excerpts to show people what I’m up to–just a few lines here and there. I’m hoping those serve as teasers or appetizers, making people curious to read it later. But even posting those made me a bit nervous.

Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you? In what way?

It interests me when some readers hate the protagonists and others love them. This has happened most dramatically with both What Scotland Taught Me and Relatively Honest. The teen narrators for those books make a lot of ethically dubious decisions, which I knew would pose problems for some readers. And indeed, for the Scotland novel, some hate Eva (the narrator) while loving Laurence (another main character); but others ended up feeling vice-versa. And with Relatively Honest, I’ve had some people say narrator Daniel is loathsome scum, while I’ve had others say he’s lovely and tame and adorable. What I’m hoping this means is I’ve created actual three-dimensional characters with many facets, just like real people

Do you write anything besides novels? Care to share?

Parodies, mainly. I find it funny to condense a whole movie or book into a ridiculously short format (say, a few pages), which alone is amusing, but which I augment by cracking jokes along the way. I’ve done this for several of the Harry Potter books, and the Lord of the Rings films, as well as the unabridged Les Misérables (they’re all available on my website), and people seem to like them. Despite my laughs at the expense of these films/books, I only write parodies for material I honestly like. I wouldn’t bother spending that much time and effort for something I didn’t like.

If you were to write a non-fiction book, what might it be about?

Perfume. It’s one of my main hobbies and biggest non-literature-related loves. Scents fascinate me because of how closely they’re tied to our emotions and memories, and perfume is the art form of the scent world. So when it’s well done, it makes me swoon. Plus it involves a lot of science, and science is sexy.

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?

Just don’t answer it. Anything you say will call attention to it. Silence is the best revenge. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll have fans come to your defense with their own outrage, which is always satisfying.

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 love my covers, because I’ve been very lucky: both of my publishers asked for my input on what I’d like the covers to look like, then employed graphic artists to create them. (Good thing, since I have almost no graphic art skills myself.) Are they important? I think they are, more than the old saying would indicate. We can’t help being psychologically influenced by a cover. Haven’t we all hesitated to be seen in public with some book whose cover features a couple ripping off each other’s clothes, or a gory weapon splattered with blood and a cheesy horror font?

Have you ever wished that you could bring a character to life? If so, which one and why?

I wish it with every book. And of course these days I wouldn’t mind meeting some of my Greek-god characters. But one of the most enduring favorites of mine who I’d like to meet is Daniel, narrator of Relatively Honest. His whole persona revolves around being charming, flattering, clever, and hot. Plus he’s got a London accent. So, though it’s shallow of me, naturally I want to meet him, just to listen to him talk, and to let him flatter me. Even though I already set up a girlfriend for him.

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

I live in Seattle, and most of the time I’m content to be here. But sometimes I miss the warmer, milder climate of Oregon, where I grew up–especially the smaller cities with less traffic. I also suspect I’d do pretty well living in Provence or the south of England, but those are more like pipe dreams. I do require pretty landscapes and some rain in the climate.

Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats?

I can’t help thinking trains are coolest, and my young sons would agree. But planes sure are faster. I just wish they’d give you more legroom without asking an exorbitant fee.

Care to brag about your family?

My parents, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunts–they’re all quirky, hilarious, and far above average in intelligence. They’re a fabulous gene pool to have come from, and I treasure them. As for my main household: my 3-year-old can already read lots of words! My 7-year-old has gotten 100% on all his spelling tests this year! And my husband puts up with me with far more grace than anyone, ever! That alone qualifies him for a Nobel Prize, believe me.

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

This is surely not the most practical answer, but what first leaped to my mind was, “Greenhouse!” A sunroom/mudroom, basically, would be awesome. Glass walls or at least big windows on three sides, lots of plants, space to leave your muddy boots before entering the rest of the house, and informal places to sit and read. Maybe we could camp out in there on warm summer nights. Yeah. All sounds pretty good.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Most sane people would say I have a ridiculously large number of perfume samples, decants, and bottles, more than I can use in a decade. So sniffing at those, and selecting the “right” one to wear each day to suit my mood, probably counts as a guilty pleasure. Also chocolate. Not a day goes by without my nibbling bittersweet Ghirardelli chocolate chips.

CONNECT WITH MOLLY

Website

Blog

Facebook Author Page

Twitter