Wednesday Writes - After “The Call” By Jen Doyle

The Call came at 4:01 p.m. on September 1, 2015. I remember it vividly: I was on a party bus on the Mass Pike—somewhere around Exit 10—with fourteen other women I worked with, on our way back from a day job “directors day” trip to Mohegan Sun. I knew my agent had a phone call planned with Carina Press, so I’d been keeping an eye out for an email or text. But although I had (have!) an incredibly supportive group of colleagues, I didn’t want to let on that I’d be getting that phone call with them all surrounding me. What if it wasn’t the news I wanted? It was one thing to be disappointed, but to be disappointed in front of everyone, well, it wasn’t exactly the experience I was going for.

So I kept myself a little bit apart from everyone, up at the head of the bus. And when my phone rang I just ducked my head and turned to the window and closed my eyes as Sarah said, “I have good news, Ms. Jen.”

To be honest, I don’t entirely remember much about the phone call beyond that. I do, however, remember hanging up, turning to my friend and mumbling, “They want to publish my book.”

I think there was a double take. I know there was subsequent jumping up and down and screaming as well as a very exuberant dance session to Shut Up And Dance while the party bus continued along. It’s quite the memory, and, if this were a fairy tale, this would be the part where it says, And they all lived happily ever after.

As anyone who’s ever seen Into the Woodsknows, however, things don’t end there. There’s a whole heck of a lot after the ‘ever after.’

It’s been a year and a half since that phone call and a lot has happened since then. I know my experience has been different from other authors, and, I’ll fully admit, I was a total newbie so there was a lot I had no clue about but of which everyone else in the world might be fully aware. But in the event there’s anyone else out there like me, here goes…

Within about a week of that first phone call I had been introduced (via email) to my editor, Alissa, and the team at Carina. One of the first things that Alissa sent to me was what is called the “Art Fact Sheet.” This is a worksheet that the art team uses to design the cover. It asked for a short synopsis (no more than a few paragraphs), descriptions of the main characters, the general tone of the book, and, most importantly, if there are any specific physical characteristics that I want to convey. It also asks for any particular images that may have been used as inspiration.

In the case of CALLING IT, I had a very clear image of my hero and heroine, and I also had a strong sense of the town of Inspiration, IA, which is the small town in which the series is set. Sending pictures is never a hardship—and, thanks to Pinterest, I have boards upon boards to choose from—so that part was a lot of fun. I also had the benefit of stumbling upon the photography of Larry Lindell, whose spectacular images of Iowa conveyed the mood I wanted exactly. And, of course, there’s the baseball aspect—Field of Dreams, anyone? But I still had no idea as to how anyonecould take all of that and boil it down to one cover that represented all of those ideas.

Before I could think too much about that, however, I received my first set of developmental edits ever. And they were awesome. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE seeing all of the comments on anything I write. Even back in high school and college I was disappointed if I got a paper back with the only note on it being “good job,” even if it came along with an A.(To this day I’m smarting about the A+—yes, A+—I got on my Medieval European History final in college because that was, literally, the only mark on the cover of that little blue book. But WHY did I get an A+? Was it my stellar writing? My incredible ideas?My complete understanding of the topic? I have no clue and those are questions that will never be answered. I can live with it, but I’m not happy about it.)Having spent ten years in the world of Buffy fan fiction prior to submitting anything for publication, I’d grown greedy about feedback, even if it was from people who didn’t like what I wrote. I lived for those five paragraph notes about the latest set of chapters I’d published (known to me now as reviews, LOL), so getting that first set of edits from Alissa was incredible. I was ready to get down to the nitty gritty writing work.

Except the next day I also got what is called the “Retitle Sheet,” so first I had to think about that. Because, to be honest, I suck at titles. I mean, anyone who knows me knows I can, well, write a book. But coming up with a quippy, succinct, attention-grabbing phrase? Not my strong suit. I knew that “The Dream,” i.e., the original title of CALLING IT, wasn’t going to fly, nor was DREAMING OF YOU, my second attempt. And I was thrilled that there would be a team that would help me figure out what the book (I had a book!) would eventually be called. But one of the things that the retitle sheet asked for was—wait for it… Titles! Ugh!

Luckily, that very weekend happened to be what we call “Apple Picking Weekend” at the Doyle childhood home, so on that Saturday night, 14 of my closest friends and family members gathered around the table and brainstormed titles. We came up with a whole list, many of which officially made it onto the worksheet—and a few of which didn’t. (My personal favorite of the no-way-in-hell list was Approaching the Mound, a suggestion of my sister and brother-in-law). Should I mention that my 15-year-old-at-the-time daughter and one of her best friends were there brainstorming with us? No? Okay. Then forget that part.

The official list I submitted included thirteen potential titles. The one that was chosen was…not from the list. And, honestly, I’m not sad. Because the worksheet also included a whole lot of other information, some of it being similar to that on the Art Fact Sheet (synopsis, themes, mood, etc.), but also going into more depth about the book itself, and keywords.

But again I didn’t have too much time to dwell on that because the proposal for book two was also due. At this stage in the process I have a very strong sense of what comes next for me on my writing agenda. But back then I had no idea how it would all go. I had a contract for two books and I had several ideas about what pair came next, but I’m a pantser of the professional variety and had absolutely no idea how their story would play out. So in the midst of working on the developmental edits, I was also doing some major thinking (although I would love to call it ‘plotting’ I can’t honestly say that that’s a good name for what I did) about book two. Oh, and did I mention the day job and the husband and three kids? No? As you can imagine, all thoughts about covers and titles went out the window.

I turned in the proposal on October 15 and the edits on November 4. I got the official word that my proposed book two was accepted on November 17 and began working on it in earnest. And by ‘in earnest’ I mean ‘officially beginning to panic.’ Because, HOLD ON, PEOPLE. I had to write a second book? Was that what I’d agreed to? Who the hell thought that was a good idea? I’d never written a second book before and had absolutely no idea how to go about it. And there’s a lot in that first draft that goes like this:

This chapter has an AMAZING scene it where Deke and Fitz… Well, not sure what they do, but it will be amazing for sure.

No worries, though, because my line edits came in and it was time to edit again, which is my much preferred mode of writing. And, you know, Christmas. And my son’s birthday. And beginning to think about the fact that I was having a book published in April and I had absolutely no idea what that meant in actuality.

Huh. Is it any wonder that the rest of this last year and a half has been a blur? That’s only the first few months of it!

Suffice it to say, I got book two done. And then I got my title—CALLING IT, as you well know. The cover, too, which made me cry—in a very good way. The edits for book two also…which, well, that’s a whole other story.

CALLING IT was published on April 11, 2016, followed by CALLED UP on August 29, 2016, and then CALLED OUT, on May 29, 2017. HOLIDAY HOUSE CALL, a novella set in Inspiration, Iowa, will be out on October 23, 2017.

https://www.amazon.com/Called-Out-Jen-Doyle-ebook/dp/B01MYDLBKH/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1498473320&sr=8-2-fkmr0&keywords=Author+Jen+doyle

https://www.facebook.com/jendoyleink/

 

Wednesday Writes - The Importance of Capturing Your Stories by Gilda Morina Syverson

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Six days after my northern book launch on April 19, 2015 in Syracuse, New York at Eastwood’s landmark Palace Theatre, my father died. Even though Dad had been sick for a while, it was heartbreak for myself and my large Italian-American family. In readings, talks and speeches that I have given about my book My Father’s Daughter, From Rome to Sicily, I always say, if we don’t share our stories they will die with us. 

Fortunately, my father’s story was captured in two ways—first through my memoir, My Father’s Daughter, where Dad, Mom, my husband, Stu, and I traveled to Rome and then Sicily to the roots of my ancestors. The story, of course, is from my perspective. 

There is another collection that my sister Nicki wrote while Dad sat in his recliner and shared tales that Nicki captured in a personal, unpublished book entitled Money in My Pocket, An Oral History by Nick Morina. In the bottom right-hand corner of the cover is a delightful, one-word description behind my sister’s name, Nicki Morina Richards, Scribe.

Dad has been gone for over two years but his presence was so strong that for Mom, my seven siblings and myself, my father still lives on. Over the last few years as I have traveled for My Father’s Daughter, I have had the great gift of still living with Dad by talking about him through the various scenes in the book, reading excerpts of things that my father did or said on the trip, describing flashbacks of memories from when I was a child, reminiscing over the stories that my father had shared. 

And did he ever share! Dad loved to talk, tell us what he experienced as a barber, an immigrant, a soldier in Europe during World War II, and more.    

What I have learned over these last few years as I’ve been giving readings and speeches about the book, that for most people their two favorite characters in the story are Dad and my husband Stu. Both for very different reasons.

Dad is the in charge, everything revolves around him, person whom “I” really see as the central character, although my father is actually the antagonist, the adversary of the main character. Since the story is a memoir that protagonist happens to be me.  Stu is the comic relief, the glue that holds the rest of us together, the easygoing anything goes person. Since I married someone like my mother, Mom is the other character that stands back as Dad and I resolve our issues, even though we had no idea that was what we were out to do when we set off on our journey.

After the four of us landed in Italy, spent time in Rome and around the Vatican, we traveled by train to Sicily to two more locations:  my father’s region around Messina and his hometown of Gualtieri Sicaminò, before driving our rental car to the Mount Etna area and my mother’s family’s village of Linguaglossa. All the while I learned, especially through Dad’s eyes, about my Sicilian heritage. 

I never started out on the trip planning to write a memoir of my journey. But it was all I could think and write about when I returned. 

Now because of this story, I still get to live with my father again when I read passages of why Dad had for years refused to go to his hometown with me, how he responded to the taxi driver who tried to charge us more at Rome’s daVinci airport, and what it felt like to follow my father up and down the hills of his small Sicilian village.

If I had not written down my memories, they would have died with me. Instead I get to live with Dad over and over again each time I start a reading and say, “My story is about going to Italy and Sicily with my Italian-born father, my Italian-American mother and my very-American husband, and in the back ground is an emotional journey between a father and daughter. ” 

Gilda Morina Syverson, author, poet, artist, educator, and speaker, was born and raised in a large, Italian-American family in Syracuse, New York. Her heritage is the impetus for her memoir My Father’s Daughter, From Rome to Sicily. Gilda’s story was a Novello Literary Award Finalist, a 2015 Nominee for the Ragan Old North State Award for Nonfiction, a 2016 Nominee for Author of the Year for the Artist Guild Award, a 2016 Honorable Mention for the New England Book Festival, the 2017 Runner-Up for Autobiography in the Great Southeast Book Festival, and a Best Seller at Amazon.com.  Gilda has been a long-time Memoir Instructor in the Charlotte, N.C. area including 15 years at Queens University of Charlotte. 
Website:  www.gildasyverson.com
Facebook: @gildamorinasyverson.author
Instagram: @gildasyverson
Twitter: @gildasyverson

 

Write Life Wednesday - Recording an Audiobook

The Rhythm Within Me: the Experience of Recording an Audiobook 

by Ann Campanella

 

This past year, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to record an audiobook. The book is Motherhood: Lost and Found, a memoir about my mother’s descent into Alzheimer’s at the same time I was trying to become a mother and struggling through a series of miscarriages. My mother was ill for 14 years, and much of that time, I leaned on my horse Crimson, who happened to be a grandson of Secretariat. His presence on the farm was a stabilizing (no pun intended) force in my life. While this period of my life often felt hopeless, it changed me as a person, and eventually I was blessed with the birth of a precious daughter.  It seems like divine timing that after a year of working on various aspects of this project, the audio version is due to be released around Mother’s Day.

What was involved?

Recording the book was another transformational experience for me. I’ve always been a reader, but I hadn’t thought much about how this trait had been developed until recently. Every evening when I was a child, my mother came and sat on my bed. She would tuck me in and turn on the reading light she had asked my father to install above the headboard of my bed. She often read pages from a little green book by A. A. Milne called When We were Very Young or from A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. Sometimes she let me choose a book from the stacks on my bookshelf. I could stretch out bedtime and get her to linger if I asked for one more story or one more poem…which I always did.

Now, over 50 years later, I realize that my mother’s voice has become embedded within me. The week of her memorial service at the family graveyard in Upstate New York, I wandered through the old headstones under the pines and heard her voice, “The woods are lovely dark and deep….” from Stevenson’s “Stopping by Woods On A Snowy Evening.” It suddenly struck me that my poetry, which had provided the seeds for my memoir, was based on a rhythm I had unconsciously absorbed from her. This same rhythm is woven through the prose of my memoir. It is a language of love.

How did it get there?

Along with me my mother, I credit my writing groups. They provided an audience to whom I was able to share out loud the sections of my journal that eventually became chapters in my memoir. I didn’t just read these sections once. But over and over. As I wrote and revised, I wanted every word to be right, delicately woven into the tapestry, creating living scenes where the stitches of the story were invisible. My writing group members listened as intently and lovingly as my mother would have. Their nuanced feedback helped me toward my goal.

How long did it take?

Twenty years. Gulp. No, that’s not a typo. It was a long and arduous process, but I loved every minute of it. Each revision was an opportunity to study the prism of my mother’s life, to nestle against her again and feel the refrain of her love and tenderness wash over me.

There were long breaks in the editing process because I was in the midst of caretaking both my mother and my young daughter. But I was always drawn back to the page, lured by the embrace of my mother’s words. The rolling language that she had planted deep within me was familiar and became a treasured gift as Alzheimer’s gradually took away her ability to communicate.

Towards the end of her life, I couldn’t help but be aware that I was now passing this gift of words and reading on to my daughter, the way Mom had passed it down to me, and her mother had passed it to her and so on. Like I had done with my mother, my daughter snuggled against me at bedtime, and always asked for “one more book.”

Amplifying the senses

Recording my audiobook expanded my sense of what I had written. I was now able to share my story on another sensory level. As I read the words out loud, I re-entered the experience of my book, not just the writing of it, but the living of it, moment by moment. Speaking into the microphone, I lost track of time and simply allowed the rhythm of each scene to carry me away.

I felt the warmth of my mother’s presence, her soft voice speaking under the glow of my reading lamp. I sat with her on my couch when she was agitated because she didn’t know where she was. I walked the hills of her childhood home with her, sharing stories she had long forgotten. I stroked her rice-paper skin as she lay dying. 

Each sentence, paragraph and chapter was another opportunity to be with my mother, to feel her gentleness and the vibrations of a life deeply felt. 

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To order a copy of Motherhood: Lost and Found, click here. For the audiobook, click here.
Connect with Ann on her social media:
Website: www.anncampanella.com
Blog: Fields of Grace
Facebook: @anncampanella.author
Instagram: @horses_2nd_time_around
Twitter: @authorAnnC

Wednesday Writes - Discovery vs Plotting vs Edit-As-You-Go by Earl Chessher

Author Earl Chessher

Author Earl Chessher

Variations abound when it comes to how we approach writing. Seriously, however, they can be boiled down to three essential ways we pursue storytelling; discovery, plotting or edit-as-you-go. Why do we do this? Why can there not be one simple, effective, perfect way to tell a story? Well, it’s because we are all wired differently. Some of us can change, while others cannot. Some want to change, but cannot. And the rest of us play hopscotch between them all. You know these, but just to take one more look, one more time.

The plotter is a logically-minded individual who has a pretty decent handle on what she wants her story to be, how she wants it to turn out. Even so, our writer will have everything factored in, from characters and their biographies, to chapters, story elements and an outline that is usually adhered to like glue. The person who likes to edit-as-you-go can be a plotter, or a discovery writer (some say pantser, as to write from the seat of your pants —no safety net) but will take an exorbitant amount of time polishing and perfecting each sentence as they go along. Keep in mind, though, you CAN polish the shine right off. And, you can lose your sense of direction because you are so busy polishing and perfecting, you derail your storyline.

I used to be one or both; plotter and/or edit-as-you-go. I never finished anything more than a long short story using either of these approaches. And though I love short stories I also wanted to be a novelist. I had an epiphany at some point in my more than 50 years of writing and realized that, for me, there is a simplicity in the story first, edit last approach. I might create a bare bones outline at some point, but essentially I have a story idea and ponder what the ending should be. Once I get a feel for that ending, I write toward it, doing my best to not stop and polish along the way. I want to finish the story, see where it takes me (discovery), then clean up, polish and edit. I also get beta readers and hire a professional editor to help the process of FINISHED story.

Discovery writing has become, for me, like reading a book I cannot put down. It takes me places I never thought possible and lets me explore beyond the walls of hardcore planning while getting past the impulse to edit-as-I-go.

Grab a copy of Earl Chessher's latest book here on Amazon

Wednesday Writes - The Name Game by Susan Hanniford Crowley

Naming characters is a constant challenge for authors. I have a bunch of methods I use to find the right name. 

⦁    Dreams.
 I dream my characters and their stories. Many times first names come with the dream. I am sort of a reporter following them around in the dream. When I wake, I write the story as fast as I can. 

Max from Vampire King of New York and Noblesse his daughter both had their names already when I dreamt their stories.  

⦁    Other Characters.
It’s not uncommon for a character to receive nicknames from other characters. In Vampire Princess of New York, Max names his daughter Noblest, but she doesn’t accept that. Thinking she is damned, she calls herself Noblesse. Her brother David called her Blessie or Bless. Her best friend calls her Noble. The more the reader finds out about a nickname, the more they know about her.

⦁    Other Places when the name doesn’t come right away.
⦁    Phone Books – I love old phone books because you can mix and match.
⦁    Baby Name Books and Sites – I use those especially when I want to know the meaning of the name.
⦁    Cemeteries – Visiting cemeteries especially antique ones will give you access to some wonderful old names. I like to mix and match there as well.
⦁    Scrabble, the board game. When you want a really unique name, toss the letters.
⦁    Friends – While I do not use friend’s names, I sometimes take suggestions especially if I’m looking for names specific to certain countries. 
⦁    Outstanding physical or personality trait. 
Examples would be Flame for red hair or Smiley for one who is always grinning. 
⦁    Named after a great person.  
This may be a first name or last name.  Noblesse is a  Vander Meer and being the princess has to live up to the greatness of her father. In Vampire Princess of New York, she is in charge whenever the king is out of town. 
⦁    The name of an actual person in history. 
When using a historical figure in a fictional tense, be sure to get your history as accurate as possible. I make it a habit not to use a historical figure if they have heirs in present time. If an heir feels you have defamed their ancestor’s name in anyway, they may sue you for it.
⦁    Characters drawn from people you know. – Take Caution!
Always change the name and even the gender to protect an identity and a friendship. Some people are honored and some will sue you. They may be honored at first and then sue you. It’s hard to decipher what someone would feel if they decide they don’t like the character that has their name.  

A friend of mine wanted me to name one of my vampires after him. He wanted just the honor. Unfortunately, I did not get his agreement in writing that it was just an honor, the character in no way portrayed him, and he did not expect any monetary compensation. Shortly before I turned in the final manuscript, he died. Because I didn’t have it in writing, I had to change the name throughout the book before it went through the editing process with my publisher. Otherwise, his heirs could have felt they were due compensation from the book. The character in question did not portray him in any way.   

It’s best not to name your characters after real people. Remember your disclaimer that “the names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used ficitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, business establishments, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.”

Before I go, I give you the Name Test. I always Google the first and last name combined.  I check at least 10 pages.  My intent is not to make someone’s life unhappy because they happened to share the same name as one of my vampires or other supernaturals. I type in First Name, Last Name, City or Town, and Country. 

I’m working on a new novel in my second series and recently gave the Name Test to my hero. I was more than a little dismayed to find a young man around the age of my vampire. He is very active in social media and has exactly the same name and lives in the same city in the same country. So I’m changing the last name.  I may play Scrabble.  

Enjoy naming your characters.

Susan

 


Susan Hanniford Crowley, Amazon Kindle Bestselling Author of Vampire Romance
Vampire Princess of New York is available currently in Kindle by clicking here
Vampire King of New York is in Kindle ebook and Amazon Print here 
and at Barnes and Noble Print

Where you can find all her books: https://www.amazon.com/Susan-Hanniford-Crowley/e/B004YXOGXG
Susan’s website: http://www.susanhannifordcrowley.com
Susan’s blog: http://nightsofpassion.wordpress.com
Susan on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Susan-Hanniford-Crowley-Author-100144180076034/ 

About the Author: Susan Hanniford Crowley is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the Romance Authors of America, founder of Nights of Passion blog and an Associate Editor with Space and Time magazine. Susan is married and has children and grandchildren. Her passion is the paranormal, and she delights in writing books that readers find “sexy”, “suspenseful”, “a page turner”, “fun”, and “passionate”. 

Partially Handwritten by Ruth McLeod-Kearns

A line from a movie resonated with me recently. The protagonist’s voice-over said, “As hard as it is to write while happy, it’s necessary to write while broken”. Although the film was forgettable, that one sentence lingered - “it’s necessary to write while broken”. I wholeheartedly believe this statement to be true. In my opinion, some of history’s greatest writers were inherently unhappy, manic, and flawed. These exact qualities, as unfortunate as they may seem, were instrumental in molding me into the author I am today. This is my unedited, partially handwritten story.

One of my first defining moments as a writer was the day I declared a journalism major in college. I knew my parents wouldn’t approve, but little things like that didn’t matter to my younger, more free-willed self. The power of the written word was my dream and the world would soon be mine…just not as soon as I had imagined. For – er, um – personal reasons, it quickly became evident that I wouldn’t last four years at a university. Since dropping out wasn’t an option, I did the next best thing and enrolled myself into a two-year nursing program. Passing my boards with only six points to spare, I became a registered nurse before the age of 20. I wouldn’t know this for many years, but the choices I made that year would change the path of my life as a writer forever. Thankfully, this wasn’t exactly a bad thing.

Years passed, babies were born, and I excelled in my latest profession. As we all know, life doesn’t always go as planned, and mine was not the exception. With little notice, the writer within me was hushed by the bells of the emergency department and everyday life – but not silenced. During a brief shining moment in my early thirties, I came into the resources and the time to officially take a charge at my life-long folly. This revelation would produce a manuscript totaling 120 pages of unedited, partially handwritten greatness. Without as much as a re-write, I courageously released my creative spirit into the world and awaited my recognition.
 
The growing list of rejection letters wasn’t the response I had anticipated. Instinctively, I convinced myself to view the declinations as a rite of passage, not failure. I maintained morale by imagining what my picture would look like on the back sleeve, I practiced interviews in the mirror, and never lost sight of my goal. What I did not prepare for were the challenges a writer faces between the glorious moment of getting an offer and seeing their work published. Needless to say, when the opportunity eventually presented itself, I blindly leapt. 

I was paired with an editor that faced a serious challenge. Granted, my work wasn’t what you’d call, “clean”, but it couldn’t have been that bad. “Surely, my editor will cross a few T’s and dot a few I’s”, I thought. That did not happen. What I did receive was a critique totaling 220 pages - yes, nearly twice the size of my original manuscript. “A little braggy of him”, I scoffed. Those closest to me told me exactly what I wanted to hear and we concluded that the guy must have been crazy. Sadly, he wasn’t. 

After 5 ½ rewrites, the publisher sent me a letter stating that the initial payment would only be processed upon receipt of a final draft written in first person. “First person?”, I thought, “What the hell is first person!?”. The little story I had once loved was now a constant reminder of my frustration. I couldn’t give them what they had wanted and I hated it. I eventually tapped-out, accepted this defeat as a life-lesson, and quietly melded back into the world of trauma nursing. A tattoo of an old-fashioned typewriter on my ankle and an unpublished book are all that remain from this whimsical moment in my life. 

I can’t recall a specific loss that deemed me able. I can’t say that I’ll ever have an opportunity like that again. All I know is that the ability to tell a story, to captivate, to teach, to heal, to transform, is nothing short of incredible. Writers: we are one as creators yet differ through the conception of our intellect. Some of us use pencils, others type on keys; many of us are broken while others remain whole; whatever the tool or drive - hone it, respect it, never neglect it. Most importantly, don’t let time or rejection keep you from this craft. You must remember that it is not the writer that creates the experience, rather the experience that creates the writer.

In hindsight, I don’t think of my distant brush with print as the origin of my journey as an author. No – I guess I wasn’t a true writer until I had something to say. 

Let’s talk soon, I’ll bring the coffee. -R.
 

Ruth McLeod -Kearns is the author of the ’30 Minutes or Less’ compilation, creator of the ‘I’ll Bring the Coffee’ blog series and contributing writer for FOE and Things Women Want Magazines. Her work explores her experiences with trauma nursing, motherhood, love and loss. McLeod-Kearns resides in Central California and is a full-time author. Her next novelette is due early 2017.

Official Website:
www.ruthmcleodkearns.com

Facebook:
www.facebook.com/ruthmcleodkearns

Twitter:
www.twitter.com/mcleodkearns

 

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year - By Gerri Brousseau

Gerri Brousseau

Yes, it’s that time of year once again. The time when the aroma of a roasting turkey fills the house; when family and friends gather together, and the spirit of goodwill seems to take up residence in our hearts. For some reason, this time of year seems so magical, and it is by far my favorite. 

Despite ourselves there are things we seem to always do, traditions, so to speak. The Hallmark Channel has been playing Christmas movies since November 1st, and no matter how many times I may have seen a particular movie, I can’t seem to resist watching it yet once again. I look forward to seeing some of my favorites each year and it’s become a holiday tradition. I’ve even seen a post of Peanut’s Christmas on Facebook with the caption, “It’s not Christmas until you see this.”

Another thing that has become a tradition for me is to read books, stories, or novellas with a holiday theme. Over the past few years, I have had the privilege of being invited to write with the very talented authors in the “Season of” Series, which is a collection of holiday novellas placed in anthologies.

This year, my story is the 4th in a series and is entitled, “A Promise of Forever,” which I hope brings the previous three novellas to a happy close. 

Here is a little blurb as to what my story is about: 

Her virtue is lost, and her reputation in tatters when a twist of fate sends Lady Roxanne Rothchild from London to the vibrant city of Venice, and into the arms of the handsome and intriguing Danté. But she is not the only one vying for his affection. Anna Maria Delafino de Padova will use everything in her power to drive a wedge between Danté and Roxanne and win his favor, including revealing the truth about Lady Rothchild. Will Roxanne be able to put her blemished past behind her and find love, and will she have the courage to reach for a promise of forever?

                                            ~~~~~

Now, here is a little excerpt: 

London – June 1743
    “Uncle, surely you are not serious!” Lady Roxanne said as she walked across his study and took a seat in the leather chair beside the fireplace.
    “Completely,” Sinclair Rothchild replied from where he sat behind his desk. He held his pipe and stuffed tobacco into it with vigor.
    “You truly expect me to accompany you to the colonies and actually live there?”
    “You know I must go there to attend to the expansion of my business.” 
“Humph.” Roxanne crossed her arms over her chest and presented her uncle with a perfectly practiced pout. 
“Roxanne, how else can I provide for you if I am not able to continue to increase my holdings?” 
“I fail to see how that has anything to do with—”
“You are my ward, I could not very well leave you here to fend for yourself, an unmarried lady, unattended and living alone in London. The very idea is out of the question. You must accompany me—”
“I would rather die.” She scowled at her uncle.
“Roxanne.” A heavy sigh emphasized his exasperation. “You make it sound as if it were a fate worse than death. It is not at all horrible. In fact, you may discover it to be quite enjoyable.”
    Her level stare met his, her icy gaze forcing him to look away. 
    “Uncle, as my guardian, is it not your responsibility, nay, dare I say obligation to find me a suitable husband?” Roxanne rose to her feet and sauntered toward her uncle.
    Sinclair Rothchild cleared his throat and rested his unlit pipe back down on the copper tray upon the highly polished surface of his desk. He remained silent. 
    Knowing she had won this argument, a sly grin curled Roxanne’s lips.
    “And since you have been neglect in your responsibility to do so, I feel it to be unfair of you to place such a burden upon me as to expect me to give up my chances of finding a suitable match by removing me from the social life of London and forcing me to live in an untamed and savage land.” 
    “Roxanne, it is not a savage land. There are many upcoming cities,” he said, his volume raising a notch.
    “None of which could possibly offer me the opportunity to be introduced to proper society or offer the prospects of meeting a titled gentleman who would be an appropriate suitor.” 
    “Roxanne.” He rose to his feet. “You will accompany me to the colonies. We shall be leaving . . . together . . . in one month’s time. You are coming with me, and that is my final word on the matter.” His face was flushed red as a beet and his hands balled into fists at his sides.
    Roxanne shrieked and stamped her foot. “Never!” She turned her back to him and feigned tears.
    “What would you have me do then?” he asked. 
    “Why can I not stay with a lady’s maid as I did when you ventured to the colonies in the past?” 
    “Oh yes, because that worked so well the last time. Out of the question,” he barked.
    “There must be another way.” 
    “Roxanne, you are impossible.” He came around to the front of the desk and began to pace. 
    “What about allowing me to stay with Lady Moreland’s family?” 
    “I could never impose such a burden upon the Moreland’s.” 
    “Burden?” Her voice raised an octave.
    “Yes. My apologies, my dear, and I mean no offense, but at times you can be quite difficult to manage.”
    She pouted and a frown creased her brow, but suddenly her face lit up. 
    “Uncle?” she practically purred.
    “Yes,” he answered. His pacing ceased and his gaze met hers. 
    “What about your sister, Winifred?”
    “Winnie?” 
“Yes. She and I always got on quite amiably.”
“But, she no longer resides in England.”
“No?”
“No. She is remarried to some count or some such thing.” He returned to stand behind his
desk once again. 
“A count?” A smile curled the edge of her lips.
“Yes and as I have already said, they live in Italy.”
“Italy?” She glided her finger along the surface of the desk as she dallied before it.
“Yes, I believe her most recent correspondence said he owned a villa. The letter is here
somewhere,” he said pulling open the top drawer and shuffling through a stack of envelopes.
    “Hmm, a villa you say? How interesting. I have never been to Italy. Do you suppose I would be welcome to stay with her?” 
    “I couldn’t say. Despite her being on in years, she is newly married after all.”
    “We could ask her, could we not? Please, Uncle.”
    “Roxanne.” Lord Rothchild exhaled heavily, and after a long moment’s pause he said, “I fail to see how going to live with my sister in Italy would afford you the opportunity you seek to meet an appropriate suitor and engage in the activities of the social season as you would here in London.” 
    “Perhaps she would be willing to introduce me into society in Italy.” Her heart hammered against her chest.
    “I couldn’t say, but if you wish I shall write her immediately and inquire.” 
    “Oh Uncle, that would please me more than you know.” Roxanne spun around and hastened from the room in a swirl of skirts.
    He picked up his pipe from its tray and shook his head. “Lord help Winnie if she should happen to agree,” he mumbled to himself. As he lit his pipe, rich blue smoke swirled around his head. “But truth be told I would be delighted to be relieved of that responsibility.”
                                             

If you are not a fan of historical romance, there are five contemporary romances which will make you laugh, make you cry, and warm your heart. I invite you to spend your holidays with us. It is . . . the Season of Promises.  

    Please leave me a comment and let me know what your favorite holiday movie is, or your favorite holiday song, or even a favorite holiday themed book. If you include the words “Season of Promises” in your comment, you will be entered in a drawing for a chance to win a free e-book copy of Season of Promises. The winner shall be selected at random and there will only be one winner. The contest will be run from Saturday, November 19th and will end on midnight Sunday, November 20th. The name of the winner will be posted on this blog on Monday, November 21st. I can’t wait to hear the names of our favorite movies, songs and books, and best of luck to all who enter.

If you simply can’t wait to dig in to these fun holiday novellas, you can grab your copy over on Amazon. If you would like to be in touch with Gerri, you can find her on Facebook 

 

The Writing Process with Vicki Batman

Season of Promises Anthology 

I came into writing in what I refer to as the back door. I didn't have creative writing or journalism classes in high school or college. I did write good papers and some poetry. 

A friend challenged me to write. She knew how much I admired Dick Francis' books and the writing. All I had for me going was being a good reader which is where a lot of writers come from. So I took up the pen—slash—computer and plunked down eight chapters. I showed what I'd done to my friend and she said to keep going. 

I did. 

And in doing so, all I wanted to do was better myself in this craft. In a way, it's like knitting or any other hobby. In order to be very good, you have to practice. I took classes, read craft books, kept writing, critiqued, got critiques, and finally, I sold a bunch of short stories to the True magazines. 

Most days, I work out, eat, shower, and sit down for a good day's work. Sometimes, I do a lot of social media; on others, I work on my current project. Because I am a pantser, I don't have an outline and tend to write slowly. That is what works best for me. But in the end, I have a project I am proud of. 

From the Season of Promises holiday anthology, I present "The Littlest Angel," a romantic comedy short story. 

Two people. One Christmas ornament. Who’ll win this tug of war? Lauren MacDonald has always coveted her mother’s ornament, The Littlest Angel. When her mother gave it to another, Lauren finds a replacement only to have it snatched from her hands. Smith Hancock’s grandmother had a little angel which is now missing. Finding another at a flea market would make her holiday the best ever. Only a pretty girl is claiming it for herself. Can the twosome find common ground and learn the true meaning of Christmas? 

Find Season of Promises at: Amazon

 

An Interview with Tinthia Clemant, Author of The Summer of Annah: A Midsummer’s Wish

What would you most like your readers to know about you that they would not likely read in your official bio?

Just like Annah, I’m an earth witch. 

Tell us Scribblers a bit about The Summer of Annah, and what inspired this story?

The story was inspired by real life events—my search for love. It tells the story of a 55-year-old woman’s search for love. She soon learns that finding love isn’t the hard part—it’s trusting her instincts and recognizing love that challenges her. 

The decision to write The Summer of Annah came on the eve of my 59th birthday. I had all these wonderful stories about love clambering around inside me and Annah was the loudest. She spoke to me as I went about my day-to-day life, asking for a chance to have her story told. I like to say I live vicariously through my characters. Annah has the brave qualities I wish I possessed. And she has Eric.

I found it interesting how you begin with a love spell; did you simply make one up?  Do you think spells such as this work? 

As an earth witch, I am a believer in the power of spells, which is nothing more than channeling energy to bring about change. We do this whenever we make a wish for something, such as picking up a heads-up penny or blowing out birthday candles. Would I cast a spell for love? Well, let’s just say I lit my cones of sandalwood incense this past Midsummer’s Eve.

The older woman, younger man is not the typical in Romance stories. What drew you to taking on this topic in an industry that has hardly (if at all) addressed it?

Baby boomer women may be aging but we haven’t stopped our search for love. In many ways, the Romance industry is forgetting we exist, except to pair us with men our own age. Having the hero, Eric, be younger than Annah, appealed to me because I believe many women are missing opportunities by looking for love in packages we’re told we must accept—women fifty or above must fall in love with someone fifty or above. That’s stifling. If a person has a good heart, pure soul, and we feel the connection, love can spark and survive, despite an age difference. We need to be open to all possibilities.

Your heroine, Annah, and your hero, Eric, immediately intrigued me. What traits do you believe are necessary in creating characters that will keep the reader invested in their story and turning the pages?

Characters must live, breathe, love, and behave like real people. If they don’t a reader won’t invest the emotion the story will need to succeed. All my characters have backstories no one will ever read. I know their shoe sizes, when they first tripped and scraped a knee. By creating three-dimensional characters off the pages of the story, the characters will be three-dimensional on the pages of the story. They’ll come alive and, if I’ve succeeded, stay with the reader long after the story is finished.

What is the one thing about your heroine, Annah, that drives her hero, Eric, crazy? And what is the one thing about Eric that drives Anna crazy?

Hmm, well since Eric is the perfect man, there isn’t much that would drive Annah crazy. However, if she had to choose one thing, it would be his stoic temperament. For Eric, it would be her quick-temper. In truth, however, they balance each other. Eric is the tethered line that keeps Annah grounded, while Annah is the fire that Eric uses to fuel his decisions. 

How much influence do our characters have on the direction the story takes?

This question made me chuckle. There are days when I have a scene all played out in my head and just need to get it into the computer. The characters have other thoughts. They’ll pull me in directions that are completely out of line with my goal. 

When I first started writing, I used to fight this tug-of-war. Now, I’ve learned to trust them and allow them their freedom. Quite honestly, there are times when I sit back, close my eyes, and ask the character what she/he wants. For example, I struggled with the opening scene in The Summer of Annah. When I listened to Annah, the prologue came alive. It’s a wonderful experience to hear your characters whisper, and sometimes shout their input.

If this story were to be made into a movie, and you could cast anyone to play the roles of Annah and Eric, who would you choose?

I’ve had fun thinking about the casting of my characters for my fantasy movie. Without a doubt, Diane Lane would play Annah. Annah needs someone who had a spark to her, which Ms. Lane possesses. Eric, ah Eric. He’s more than a handsome face. He requires an actor who will bring his soul to life. I would love Chris Hemsworth for the part but I’m open to holding a casting call and getting my hands dirty during the selection process.

What is your opinion of traditional publishing versus self-publishing?

An article I read stated that over 60% of the books loaded to Amazon on a daily basis are self-published books! Self-publishing is here to stay. I knew I wanted to self-publish The Summer of Annah from the moment I typed the title. Why? I despise rejection. (By now, one would think I’d be used to it after being divorced from the same man twice. Alas, that’s another story waiting in the wings.) 

Going the traditional publishing route conjured visions of long days waiting for the rejection letters while empty containers of Chubby Hubby buried me. Moreover, I’m a control freak. Self-publishing affords me the opportunity to call the shots. It’s a great feeling. I’m free to choose my story arc, name my characters, color their hair, the list goes on. It’s wonderful to be in complete control, which I didn’t want to relinquish to a publishing house.

Soon Barnes and Noble will be featuring self-published books in their brick and mortar stores. Self-publishing is the sleeping monster and she’s waking up.

Do you write to a specific word count daily or write to the inspiration and mood of your muse?

I don’t write specific word counts. Each day is different. I choose to write in the early morning, each and every morning. Some mornings I’ll only get 300 words written and other times, I’m able to push into the thousands. It’s all in the content. If the story is flowing, I won’t stop, unless I have to. If a brick wall stands in my way, I admit defeat and reach for chocolate.

By the way, my muse is Jacqueline Suzanne. Obviously, on the days when the voices in my head are silent, she’s off helping some other writer.

If you were going to give only one tip to an aspiring writer, what would it be?

Never, never, never take criticism personally. Use comments and critiques to sharpen your skills but let the pain roll off like water off a duck’s back. Buy plenty of chocolate. Finally, write every day. Every single day! Even if the words are junk, write them down. You’re only going to improve by working on your skill. Remember what Raymond Chandler said about writing. ‘Throw up into your typewriter every morning. Clean it up every noon.’ (My bad, I gave three pieces of advice.)

What books or other projects do you have coming out in the near future?

I’m writing the first book in a new series due to launch at the end of 2016. The second installment of The Summer of Annah will continue Annah and Eric’s story in June, 2017, and I’m working on a darker story due out in the autumn of 2017. I’d like to dabble in science fiction and there’s a murder-mystery in my head. I also want to write a time-travel story. My fear is that I’ll die with all the stories I’ve kept bottled up still inside of me. 

Bio:

Tinthia Clemant was born in Medford, Massachusetts, over sixty years ago. In other words, she's old! As a child, she lived happily in a loving home with her three siblings and mother and father. She always wrote. From the time she first picked up a pencil, or perhaps it was a crayon, she wrote. Love stories. Happy stories. Stories about love with happy endings. Her first book was self-published. (At the tender age of seven, she stapled the pages together and presented it to her mother on Mother's Day.) As contemporary women's fiction's newest author, Tinthia fell in love with love stories and true love when she first learned about true love's first kiss. That did it for her! Unfortunately, she has yet to find that special kiss. Throwing her arms up in defeat, she decided to write about it and live vicariously through her characters. Tinthia lives on the banks of the Concord River and spends her time teaching science at a local community college, gardening, painting, feeding her multitude of Mallards (follow her natural history blog at: concordriverlady.com), reading, and, of course, writing contemporary women's fiction about romance, relationships, and true love. She also enjoys Chunky Monkey and American Dream Cone and other enticing flavors produced by Ben and Jerry.

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