CHAT WITH ANGELICA KATE

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-4-42-56-pmAngelica Kate (pen name) writes contemporary and inspirational romances primarily, but occasionally likes to dabble in other genres. She is a lifetime scribbler who has always enjoyed writing as a release from the reality of life. In 2014 in keeping a promise to a friend that has since passed she published her first book Loving Abby through Amazon’s self-publishing tool and was bit by the bug. The feedback both positive and negative continues to propel her to hone her writing chops, and she still reads every review (even those that require a glass of wine to stomach). 

What is your latest book?

My most recent release is Out of Solitude, which is a story of two people that overcome horrifically tragic circumstances. Rather than make their stories highlight just the positive, this book was about a woman who blocked out the world after losing her children and a little girl who quit talking in response to losing her mother. Their meeting was the healing salve the other needed, and is a story of the triumph of the human spirit and victims who earn their happy ending.

outofsolitude

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

I do write under a pen name of Angelica Kate, which was a name that I thought lent itself well to romance writing and featured prominently my grandmother’s name of Kate whom I am actually named after, Angela Katherine.

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

I am an addict of good romance stories, with well-developed strong heroines, so this was a no-brainer when I started writing. I love a story of a woman rising above her circumstances and a man never overwhelms her story, but enhances it.

Are your characters ever based on people you know?

Yes, many of my characters and story lines are based on my own personal interactions. My friends and family members actually joke to each other how certain situations we are going through will end up in a book someday. I think the best writing has to have some baseline in real life for it to feel authentic, so many circumstances, people and event current events end up central to my books.

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

That they cannot get published and thus their work is sub par. I never tried the traditional route and now that I’m an indie author have no desire to do so in the future. Indie writers aren’t below average writers, but rather many times strong, determined writers in charge of their own destiny. They have conquered their goals and dreams every day to see their dreams of being published happen.

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-4-36-50-pmHow often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

Often! I allow my stories to develop organically as a journey through each book’s inception to publish date. My most surprising character development saw one of my main heroine’s actually die in a scene, and I remember stopping and out loud exclaiming how I couldn’t believe she died. My daughter looked at me and said, “Mom, you write the story and can change it.” I could not change the scene it would have not been true to the story, but I still can remember the shock of not seeing the happily ever after I came to expect of my main characters

discord5-01Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

I write the book and then worry about editing. I need to get the story on paper and see where it is going, many times how I edit or the extent will be determined by the tone and texture of the story’s development.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

Absolutely! Often my stories have been about domestic violence, murder and other current event themes. I have chosen not to focus on the monsters of these stories but rather give voices to the victims. Unfortunately, to provide a full canvas for these fabulous characters you need to pen the opposing forces and characters that made them the people they are in the story. I dislike have to channel the hate, despair and intent of these characters and find them the hardest to pen.

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

I live in Sarasota, Florida which is where I would live if I could be anywhere. After living in some big cities around the country for my career, and also in the Midwest to take care of family this was a decision we made last year for the beaches, weather and culture. I absolute adore this area, and cannot imagine every relocating anywhere else.

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

When I was 30 my daughter who was six at the time, approached my sister about wanting to get me an awesome gift. Together they bought me this delicate sapphire necklace, that I treasure. The pure joy on her face when she gave it to me has always stayed with me every time I put it on.

Care to brag about your family?

I have two fabulous polar opposite children that I adore. My creative artist child has made me look at life with different lenses from the moment she came into the world. My youngest child is a math genius who challenges me every day and has made me an advocate for education and more equality for subjects I never knew I would come to care about. Without both of them balancing out my world, I’m not certain who I would be today. My husband the gentle force that allows me to be me along with a bevy of family that make up a unique list of characters in my own life, has definitely been both a blessing and curse in my world.

What makes you angry?

People who talk before they think. I try my hardest to know when I should say something, and when I need to walk away and give a subject more thought before vocalizing an opinion. We live in a world were too many people have become intolerant, and believe that freedom of speech is a right they own to hurt others around them. I would love to see a heap more tolerance in our society and people who find constructive solutions, rather than just boisterous opinion making.

What music soothes your soul?

 Country – especially the old crooning kind that tells a story. Sometimes just getting into the car and turning that style music on can dissolve an entire rough day in the span of a few minutes.

If you are a TV watcher, would you share the names of your favorite shows with us?

Big Bang Theory and Scorpion.

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

 Give your time to just one cause you believe in.

Find one person to be kind to, even if just saying good morning, each day.

Find a person who represents a cause you disagree with, and have a discussion with them on the topic. Really listen. Not to change your mind, but just to maybe understand more than you did before.

CONNECT WITH ANGELICA

Amazon

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Save

Save

Save

Save

CHAT WITH HEIDI SWAIN

Heidi_Swain

Although passionate about writing from an early age, Heidi Swain gained a degree in Literature, flirted briefly with a newspaper career, married and had two children before she plucked up the courage to join a creative writing class and take her literary ambitions seriously.

A lover of Galaxy bars, vintage paraphernalia and the odd bottle of fizz, she now writes contemporary fiction and enjoys the company of a whole host of feisty female characters.

She joined the RNA New Writers’ Scheme in 2014 and is now a full member. The manuscript she submitted for critique, The Cherry Tree Café, is her debut novel and was published by Books and The City, the digital imprint of Simon and Schuster in July 2015.

She lives in Norfolk with her wonderful husband, son and daughter and a mischievous cat called Storm.

Time to chat with Heidi!

What is your latest book?

My debut novel, The Cherry Tree Café, was published by Books and The City, (the digital imprint of Simon and Schuster), on July 16th 2015.

It follows what happens to flame haired Lizzie Dixon when she is unceremoniously dumped on her birthday and moves back to Wynbridge, the small East Anglian market town she grew up in.

There are cupcakes, crafts, love and friendships and of course, bunting in abundance!

Cherry tree cafe green cover-1

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

Yes, I have phenomenally exciting news! I have recently signed another two book deal with S and S and both novels will be published in e-book and paperback format this time around. The first will appear on the shelves in time for Christmas and the next in summer 2017.

I am absolutely delighted that I will be having two novels published this year, (Summer at Skylark Farm will be published on June 2nd), and seeing the announcement in The Bookseller really was a dream come true for me.

What else have you written?

Summer at Skylark Farm, my second novel with Books and The City will be published in e-book format this June and follows the story of Amber who decides to leave the hectic city life and career she has established and help her other half, Jake, turn around the fortunes of Skylark Farm.

The farm is located in the countryside around Wynbridge, the town where The Cherry Tree Café is set, so readers can expect so see some familiar faces from the first novel popping up again! Summer at Skylark Farm isn’t a sequel but a few of the characters were determined to nudge their way back in!

Skylark Farm final cover

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

I always write scenes in order, but with one eye on what is going to be happening further down the line. Consequently I carry a notebook at all times and have paper to hand when I am typing, so if an idea materialises I can jot it down and include it later. I find some of my best ideas and plot twists come to mind when I am ironing or taking a walk and I am always amazed when I look back through my original planning that the plot has taken on such an energetic and fluid life of its own.

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 a great question and the answer is, I imagine, unique to everyone. What works for me might be anathema for another author!

Personally, I find it too easy to get caught in that ‘editing as I go along’ trap. If I’m not careful I can find myself reading and re-reading a chapter when I know full well that I just need to get the words down and work on them after I’ve typed The End.

Discipline is required and lots of it. I work three days a week which I find really helps when I’m writing a first draft. Those brief snatches of time before work and during my lunch break, when I write longhand, are hugely productive because they have to be. Some days they are the only time I can write so I just have to keep moving forward.

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?

When I was starting out and considering the best route for me, a fellow author reminded me that the path I was on was my own and that if I was serious about my writing then I should just get on with it. It was quite simply the best thing I could have been told at the time!

After hearing that I was adamant that The Cherry Tree Café was going to be my first published novel and that I wasn’t going to wait any longer to get things moving. I had a cover designer and independent editor all lined up and then my publisher came knocking. All I needed was that one little nudge to take myself seriously, stop procrastinating and get the ball rolling!

Personally I think both routes have their pros and cons, just don’t sit around waiting for one or the other to happen. Make a plan and stick to it because at the end of the day, you are in control and you are the one who can champion your work best and make it happen!

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?

Negative reviews are the pits. Fortunately I haven’t had many, but one I read last December was simply horrid and of course those absolute stinkers are the ones that come back to haunt you in the darkest watches of the night.

‘You’ll never write something that pleases everyone,’ is a little nugget of truth courtesy of my husband, while my daughter goes for the ‘but look at all the five stars you’ve had!’ train of thought.

At the end of the day, if I’m feeling that downcast I’ll log on to Amazon, have a look at the reviews of an author I admire and take heart that not everyone loved everything they had written either.

It’s tough out there and you have to face the fact that some people seem to relish writing bad reviews, a quick look at other reviews they have written often proves that point, so don’t give them too much headspace or you’ll never pen another word!

Do you know anyone who has ever received any auto DM on Twitter (with a link) who was happy about it?

Nope. When will people learn? Unfollow. Move on.

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

An original oil painting called The Moon and The Hare by Norfolk artist Hannah Giffard. Hannah’s paintings are simply mesmerising and highly sought after so when my husband presented me with this beautiful canvas I was absolutely stunned. I had spent hours sighing over it in a little gallery in Wymondham, Norfolk, just up the road and wishing I could afford it. The prints were lovely, but nowhere as spellbinding as the real thing. Fortunately I now have the real thing hanging in my house and I would never part with it!

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

Be the very best version of yourself that you can possibly be, every single day.

Don’t waste time. Life is too short. Chase your dreams wholeheartedly.

Be kind.

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

Reading, gardening, spending time at home with my family, oh and Galaxy bars. Never underestimate the pleasure chocolate can bring!

CONNECT WITH HEIDI

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

* * * * * * *

 

 

Blogs, guest blogs & interviews from lisettebrodey.com.

Follow on Bloglovin

CHAT WITH KATE JAMES

KateJamesKate spent much of her childhood abroad before attending university in Canada. She built a successful business career, but her passion has always been literature. As a result, Kate turned her energy to her love of the written word. Kate’s goal is to entertain her readers with engaging stories, featuring strong, likeable characters. Kate has been honored with numerous awards for her writing. She and her husband, Ken, enjoy travelling and the outdoors, with their beloved Labrador Retrievers.

Lisette, thank you for this opportunity to be a guest at your writers’ chateau.

You are very welcome, Kate! Delighted to have you here.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Don’t give up on your dream!

There are so many viable options to getting your work published these days, you just need to keep at it and believe in yourself. If I have one regret, it is that I didn’t follow through when I first had the dream of writing. I got caught up in my professional life, and my first attempt, a half-finished manuscript, is tucked away in a storage box somewhere in our basement, possibly breeding some form of mold worthy of a sci-fi thriller.

Also, having someone who believes in you can be enormously helpful, even if you are a self-motivated individual like me. My husband buying me a personal laptop for my writing was the start of Silver Linings. I was wrongly convinced that I did not need another laptop, as I had a perfectly good one already. Psychologically, it made a huge difference. Thankfully, my husband has never said, I told you so—at least not directly!

This leads me to another bit of advice. If you have a “day job”, creating a clear separation between it and your writing may help, as a separate laptop for my writing did for me. As another example, an author friend works from home and has a home office. When she writes, she purposefully does it in a different room in her home.

Finally, read as much as you can, for enjoyment—of course—but also for learning! It’s a rare book these days that draws me in so much that I don’t at some level of consciousness analyze the writing to seek to improve my own.

SilverLinings

Can you tell us about your road to publication?

I either got very lucky, my business background came in handy or, more than likely, it was a combination of the two. There is the artistic, creative side to writing, but there is an entire business side to it as well. Publishing is a business and for an author to excel, I believe they have to be able to understand and effectively deliver on both the creative and business aspects. Querying agents and/or publishers requires a combination of creativity and business acumen.

I was fortunate to have my very first manuscript picked up by a publisher. Although the publisher is small, and thus doesn’t have a large budget for marketing and promotions, they were a dream to work with both for editing and cover art/design. It also meant that my first book was in print and in book stores in about eighteen months from when I first sat down at my new laptop to start writing Silver Linings. The experience also afforded me the opportunity to learn a great deal about publishing, which I believe was invaluable in securing my contract with Harlequin.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to write for Harlequin, and have the privilege and pleasure to work with two of the most amazing people in the business: Victoria Curran and Paula Eykelhof.

Do you have any grammatical pet peeves to share?

This is an interesting question for me, and perhaps you’ll allow me to go on a bit of a tangent with it.

I had to “retrain” myself when I started writing fiction. Most of us have heard the axiom that in business we should write to the average grade eight intellect. I consider that a sad and demeaning statement. When I was in business, I always encouraged our communications teams—everyone in the organization, in fact—to strive to release high-quality, well-written, well-presented material. Annual reports, marketing materials, routine correspondence and e-mails all reflect on the brand of an organization. I was a stickler for proper sentence structure, grammar, spelling and so forth. When I first started writing fiction, I had to consciously retrain myself, for example, to not use “proper” sentence structure, especially where dialogue is concerned.  We don’t speak in proper sentences, and if my dialogue was constructed in that manner, I can guarantee it wouldn’t make for an enjoyable read!

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

Perhaps surprise is not the right word, but I continue to be amazed by and appreciative of the informal feedback and more formal reviews that Silver Linings has been getting. Reviews mean a great deal to authors, and I am grateful to everyone who takes the time to write one.

I was very pleasantly surprised and honored for Silver Linings to have received first place recognition in both readers’ choice contests it was entered in. The fact that people are reading my work and enjoying it is a thrill. The positive feedback is something I will never take for granted.

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 am glad we’re not having this discussion in person at a writers’ workshop, as I expect some people may be inclined to throw things at me. I enjoy writing a synopsis. It may have something to do with my business background, but I enjoy switching gears and writing the synopsis. To me, writing a synopsis is also an organizational tool, as it is essentially my outline for the manuscript. Writing it, I challenge myself on the characters’ personalities and motivations, and the key plot elements, and then I expand and embellish as I write the manuscript. To be clear, with respect to this latter point, I am not referring to a two page synopsis, but rather a much longer version that my editor wants to see as a proposal for a book.

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

I generally write scenes in order from my synopsis. If I find that I am not progressing quickly through a particular scene, I may jump ahead. I do this for a couple of reasons. Inherently, I don’t like to waste time, and if I am belaboring the scene without making progress, that’s what I feel I am doing. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, if the scene is not progressing well, there is a chance that it just doesn’t fit, and I have not yet admitted it to myself. If I jump ahead and finish the rest of the manuscript, I might find that it needed to be cut anyway. Once my first (rough) draft is complete, I go back and invariably add, remove, rework or reorder scenes before I venture to call it a completed first draft.

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

All of the above! Okay, almost all. I was a full-time CEO when I wrote Silver Linings and my second manuscript. By necessity, that meant writing very early in the morning and late at night. I enjoy coffee, chocolates and wine. Add in tea (hot or iced) and more than likely one or more of those is within easy reach whenever I am writing. Music only enters the equation if my husband is home, as he loves to have it playing all the time.

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?

To the contrary! I believe the cover can have a huge impact on the success of a book, especially for lesser known authors. I believe most of us have picked up a book by an unknown author because the cover appealed to us. Although I don’t think people pass up on a book by their favorite author because the cover isn’t appealing, I do believe that some excellent work by unknown authors doesn’t get the same uptake as it could, if the cover isn’t appealing or appropriate for the genre.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

Despise? No. Disrespect, most definitely!

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

We live north of Toronto, and we split our time between our home and cottage. We are fortunate to have two large, scenic properties, but if we were to move, my husband would want to be somewhere without snow! Texas and Arizona come to mind. Kelowna in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley is a beautiful spot, too. I would need to have a large property. I like to visit cities, but I love nature and the outdoors, thus I would need to live somewhere we could have significant acreage.

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

My husband is really great at surprising me. The converse is much harder to do, as I have to get really creative with how and what I wrap for him, as he has an uncanny ability of knowing exactly what it is.  A particularly nice surprise, and one that is related to my writing, had to do with my contract with Harlequin. I was on a ten-day “world tour” and in Dubai when I received the e-mail from my editor with the good news. I, of course, shared the news with my husband immediately (time difference be damned!), and he was very happy for me.

Five days later, I arrived home at about seven in the evening after a thirteen-hour flight from Hong Kong, and very little sleep during most of the trip because of the full schedule, overnight flights and numerous time zones changes. I walked in to candlelight, a bottle of champagne on ice, a wonderful dinner, and a beautifully wrapped gift with a huge bow on it. If you have read my responses to the questions above, you may have guessed correctly that the gift was a new laptop!

CONNECT WITH KATE

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Amazon

Chapters