Write Life Wednesday - Interview with Jane Risdon


Welcome to Scribbler’s Jane.

Hi Scribblers, thanks so much for the opportunity to tell you more about myself. I really appreciate it.

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

Gosh that is a hard one. Let’s see. I have so much I could put here. I’ve recorded the voice over for a United Airlines introduction to ‘in-flight’ entertainment featuring one of our recording artists whose material was played on long-haul flights from America world-wide. That was fun.

I’ve done the ‘talk-down’ for American Air Force Fighter Pilots practicing landings and take-off – barely touching the runway – from an American Air Force Base Flight Control Tower in the mid-West of the USA. We were on tour with a band we managed and our Radio station representative decided to take us on a detour to meet up with some old Air Force buddies. We went into the control tower and I was invited to take over flight control – talking directly to the pilots, guiding them down and then up again, as they went through their practice. So very exciting.

I’ve been interviewed by the (then) BBC World Service – radio - as part of their series in the 90s – Women in Rock. As a female artist manager they were interested in my take on all aspects of working in a mostly male environment, and in such a competitive industry where failure is annihilation.

Tell us Scribbler’s a bit about your story; Only One Woman and what inspired it?

This is a long story, so I will try and keep it as brief as possible. I’m married to a musician, I met him when I was 16 and he was 18, when his band came to England to record and tour. The band’s management employed a fan-club secretary who was a rock/pop journalist and short story writer for Teen magazines - Christina. Through our connection – my husband’s band - we all became great friends.

She went on to become a best-selling award-winning author and I married my musician and when he grew tired of touring, we went into international artist/record producer management.

Christina and I had always talked of writing together. It was my dream to be a crime writer – but time was always against me. Christine’ssuccessful writing career, and my constant touring internationally wasn’t conducive, andwe kept putting it off. Besides, she doesn’t write crime and I don’t write Bucolic Frolics (her genre of Romance) so eventually we decided that as we had a shared past with a love of music, fashion - all things late 1960s - we should use our experiences to write about those times.  Eventually we decided to stop messing about and get on with it.

Drawing upon all our shared experience we decided that it would be great to tell a story through the POV of two young girls, caught up in the excitement and vibe that was 1968/1969, and that they would also fall in love with the same musician. That enabled us to litter the story with music and also show just what the music and fashion scene was like in England during those first heady days of what became known as the British Invasion - of music - around the world. They lived through some major events in history too and these are woven into the story too.

1-only one woman purple (1).jpg

Is this story at all autobiographical?

It is not, but of course like most writers we use what we know to embroider our stories. There are elements of us both in the two main characters I am sure; Christina was a rock and pop journalist who wrote short stories – just as Stella does in the book. My boyfriend – later my husband – was a lead guitarist and his band came to the mainland for touring and recording and that is when we met - just they way Renza met Scott.

They say write what you know and we have done so, with lots of poetic license and imagination.

You wrote this with Christina Jones. How did it feel to write a collaborative story with another writer; did you have a lot of differences? How did you mesh your two voices together?

It has been a challenge. We don’t live near each other and everything has been done via email and Facebook…how 21st century! 

We met up a few times to chat about the book generally but she was caught up in several deadlines for producing novels for her then publishers and I was very shyly writing crime stories – short stories and a couple of novels – with no real intention of anyone ever seeing them.

I moved home and whilst unpacking came across old letters, post cards, diaries and tour posters from my husband’s group days, and I began to make notes. The notes became a story with diary entries as the headings and Only One Woman began to take shape. Christina joined in and we wrote it over a period of years.

I had by this time signed with a publisher, which I later found out was publishing some of Christina’s books, and she sent the first few chapters to them – telling me afterwards. They signed the novel immediately and we had a publishing date of 2014. Due to various reasons this was changed several times and at last Only One Woman is being published November 23rd 2017.

Apart from time constraints and a lot of research we’ve both had to do regarding everything 1968/1968, it has not been difficult. I don’t know why but our ‘voices’ seemed to merge really well. I suppose our shared musical background and love of that era has shone through. We hope so. Only our readers will know and I am sure they’ll tell us.

Neither of us have ever done this before so it has been a learning curve for us both. Writing with someone who is so experienced and with such a fabulous track record was daunting to begin with but she was nothing but kind and helpful and encouraging. She was the person – other than my husband - who made me believe I could write and supported my efforts. If it hadn’t been for her reading my early stories I would never have climbed out of my hole and entertained the idea of showing my work or being published. She was very trusting of me placing her name with mine on a novel.

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

Mostly my experience is with crime writing and I am forever surprised at the actions of my characters and where the story goes. I never have an ending planned and write by the seat of my pants. Exciting but it can get hairy. Ms. Birdsong Investigates – my series featuring a former MI5 Officer fallen from grace and going nuts in rural village until she becomes involved with Russian Mafia, Ukrainian gun and drug runners and murder - is very unpredictable. She does the most amazing things without ever asking me first. She writes her stories and I just follow obediently.

Only One Woman was a little more planned in that the diaries, cards, letters and posters were a starting point and so Renza was the main character to begin with and her voice drove the story until Christina – and Stella – took over. Writing the novel in diary format enables both characters to take the lead and to tell their own story according to a time-line.

If Only One Woman were to be made into a movie, who would you cast as Renza, Stella & Scott?

I’ve been asked this before and my answer is always the same. I have no idea. If we were in the late 1960s I could name several actors/actresses to play the leads but having worked in Hollywood and been involved with movies and television series, I know that the whole story would end up being changed to fit ‘Hollywood,’ and the leads would all be American so what we’d end up with as a movie would be ions away from what we’ve written. They’d put an American lead in to ‘sell’ the movie to American audiences - that is how things work. If someone says they want to make a movie, I am sure we can swallow our pride…

How do you normally begin your stories – with a phrase, a character?

I get ideas from over-heard conversations, news items, or from my own experiences more often than not. I try to write the same way I’d make a record. Start with a good hook and draw the reader in as fast as possible. Writing for me is just like creating a piece of recorded music. The highs and lows – action - and constant theme (chorus and melody) which embeds itself (one hopes) in the mind of the reader (listener) ending with a climax leaving the reader/listener wanting more…well that is the plan anyway.

Only One Woman begins with Renza’s thoughts as she rushes home from the Top Rank where she and her friends have seen The Equals playing.

‘…What a flipping nightmare of an evening. I really thought I’d never get home inone piece.Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. Someone up there hates me I’m sure…’

What is your opinion on self-publishing vs traditional publishing?

My knowledge of self-publishing is zilch. I have not gone that route so far. I’ve contributed to anthologies which have been published by groups of authors but I have never been involved in the publication side.

I know I’m always comparing writing with music but there are so many similarities. Take a large record company signing new artists, they are enthusiastic about the artist, and often really push the boat out for them with money thrown into PR and marketing, making sure the record has the best producers working on it and that they spend a lot of money on videos and radio exposure and possibly touring. The artist receives an advance (or not) to pay for all this and if there is anything left over, they get some cash to spend on what they like. It is all recoupable from future sales. So the artist is in debt from day one.

If the artist is lucky the record sells and everyone is happy and recoupable advances are paid off and the next record advance is paid and the process begins again. Any un-recouped advance is rolled over to the next album(s) and added to additional advances and so on. If the artist never recoups by the time they split from the label the money is written off. This is why so many artists are actually broke.

However, typically a record company allows so many weeks for the record to do well – to sell and chart. If it is not charting, sales are not happening fast enough and everything is taking too long, well, they don’t actually stop working the record they tell you, but in actual fact they are concentrating on the other artists releasing at that time. They concentrate all their efforts on their ‘star’ artists anyway, so until they ‘break’ an act, it is a case of sink or swim.

I see this with book publishing.

Back in the late 1980s and 1990s the music business was in the doldrums and frustration with the way the business operated saw the birth of the Indie record labels, and home recording. There weren’t any advances, and the artists had to survive the best they could. The live scene died due to lack of financial input by the established record labels – pay to play became common in most venues where new bands cut their teeth. Major record companies became lazy and they began to trawl the Indie labels for artists who had created a ‘buzz,’ developed their own ‘following’ and had something the bigger companies could move in on and benefit from – all the hard work having been done for them.Some of those artists became successful and others didn’t. The major record labels dropped those who took too long to make money – the accountants had begun running the music business.

I can see similarities with book publishing, as I said. There is a lot to be said for control of your output, about keeping money you earn without paying the middle man. But, hit the jackpot with a major player with their resources and contacts, with a big push – well, one could find oneself as a New York Times best-seller and a major book prize recipient. In my opinion it doesn’t hurt to try either route as a writer. Whatever feels right.

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

I have no idea about muses – I don’t think I have one. I thought painters had those. I write whatever comes to mind and I write until I am done. It may take a week and it may take a few years, but I please myself in the main unless I am meeting deadlines set for me.

I often have to write to deadlines and word counts for projects. It doesn’t worry me to have to do so. As I’ve said, I can relate book writing to record production and song-writing too. Discipline kicks in. One has a time-line for release and one has to provide so many songs per album to get written and produced within that time. One has approximately 3minutes to about 3.5 minutes per song to write – so one gets on with it. If I have been told to write 90,000 words in a month I will do it.

If I set myself goals for my own non-publisher projects, I’d never reach them, however. I write when I feel like it and the story dictates the length of the piece. It is done when it is done.

There wasn’t a word count for Only One Woman. The story is about 160,000 words long – it is as long as it needed to be to tell the story.

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

Go for it. You have no idea what you can achieve until you try.

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

Book one in my series, Ms. Birdsong Investigates: Murder at Ampney Parva is in with my publisher. I hope they’ll take it. I’ve part written books two and three so far.

I’ve started part two of Only One Woman – name to be decided – which follows Renza on her adventures beyond 1969. Our editor thought it was a good idea to begin it, just in case there is a demand to know what happened next. It is quite a tale. Stella appears later on. So part two is mainly about Renza. There may well be a book three…

I’m always writing short stories and contributing towards anthologies – often for Charity.

I’m part way thorough a novel based in Bollywood following two English men and their fortunes following the Mumbai bombings in 2008.

I have enough work to keep me out of mischief for years to come.

Thanks once more for this fab opportunity to share my story with you all. Much appreciated. Jane x

1-oow blog tour-001.jpg

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. 


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

Kristin and Bobbie's Write Life Wednesday : Weather to Write

Does your muse pull the blankets over her head and give you her most confident you-don’t-tell-me-what-to-do-dearie sneer at the sound of a driving rain hitting the window panes? When the sky is the perfect summer cloudless blue and warm sun is streaming down, does your muse blow you off and head to the beach?

Weather affects our moods. Weather affects our productivity and our creative flow. It only makes sense that weather can also affect our muse.

How do you entice her back, you ask?  There are a variety of schools of thought on this matter. Some say ignore her, play hard to get (yeah right, like any self-respecting muse would fall for that old trick), or show her your independent streak, telling the old girl you don’t need her, you’re just fine on our own. Problem is, muses tend to be highly intelligent, perceptive and all knowing, and your BS is gonna bounce right off them. Negative thought will send your muse hopping onto the next train out of dodge until there is a definite atmospheric change.

Now, me? I say at times like these there is only one road to go. A change of venue is what is most likely needed. Forget cleaning the bathroom, the laundry, figuring out which bills to pay, making supper for your husband (he needs to learn to cook!) Boot out your inner drudge, embrace your repressed adventurer and follow her.

If she heads to a nice sandy beach where they also have an ocean front bar, I say anchor your umbrella and get to writing. Your muse turns out not to be a beach person? Not a problem. Settle in with her at a local café or coffee shop. Listen in on conversations around you. Writers are not only allowed, but expected to do this. Not to mention the best dialogue and lines have been discovered from a good eavesdropping session. Do you really believe Shakespeare came up with “A plague on both your houses,” sitting around the house moping?

If your muse turns out to be a film buff, take advantage. Take in a foreign film together and listen to her when she instructs you to read the emotions playing out on the screen before you.

My muse tends to be an active one, seeking new experiences, scents and visuals. You’re muse on the other hand my prefer a walk, stretching out on a soft patch of grass and studying the clouds, or a simple, but energy replenishing nap. No matter, stay with her, listen to her suggestions. Be grateful she is letting you hang out with her on an unexpected walkabout.

At the very least it’s time well spent. In the end the lesson is not necessarily about how many words you wrote that day. The lesson is weather always changes and sometimes while your waiting it out, you might as well have some fun!

Happy writing!


Kristin and Bobbi's Write Life Wednesday - 5 Places to Find Your Muse NOW

Writing can be hard. I get it. Really I do. We've all stared at the blank page or blinking curser, questioning why the universe would give us this passion if not the words to fulfill it. But here's the thing. Whether you call it inspiration, your muse, or a cure for writer's block, the answers to the question of where to find inspiration are all around you. Here are 5 places to find your muse now.

Read More

Kristin and Bobbi's Write Life Wednesday - Practice Writing

From my experience, free writing or practice writing as Natalie Goldberg refers to the exercise, is one of the best tools for writers of all levels. From the person looking to write their first piece, to the seasoned writer needing to break out of a seemingly endless block and reconnect with their lost or forgotten muse, timed prompt-writing never fails to jump start one’s creative flow, help discover your writer’s voice, or strengthen the one already in place.

Read More

Kristin and Bobbi's Write Life Wednesday: Hooking Your Reader - Opening Hooks that Work

The hook is a tried and true technique in the opening of a story that snares the readers attention to a degree that he/she will keep reading even if the family dinner may be burning to a charcoal crisp on the stove, your husband/partner states they have something important to discuss, or your all-time favorite television show is about to begin. A good hook leaves the reader unable to resist turning the page. A good hook tugs at your emotions and gets under your skin compelling you, the reader, forward into the story to follow where the writer wants you to go.  

Read More

Kristin and Bobbi's Write Life Wednesday: Author Swag - Pre Goody Room

This weekend, Bobbi and I are headed to the New England Chapter Romance Writers of America Conference Let Your Imagination Take Flight, where we will be presenting the workshop Prompt-Writing to Unlock Your Muse. 

It's going to be a lot of fun, and if you are in the Boston area and haven't yet registered, you should do that! Go ahead, it's fine... I'll wait.

Read More