Virtual Visit from Author Emma Lai!

Hi everyone! Thanks for coming by, especially on author interview day! Make sure to read on for Emma’s surprise revelation 😀

Thank you so much for accepting a place in the bloglight, Emma! Always great to welcome a new face to my blog! Let’s get started: 

What do love best about writing? I’m a complete panster and love watching the characters and plot grow. It’s like watching a movie unfold, and I love movies!

Sometimes, I’m surprised by what the characters do, and for me, if I tried to plot then I would feel compelled to force my characters to act in the predetermined way. Plus, it makes the writing process more emotional for me, allowing me to experience the highs and lows as the characters would when faced with, well whatever they’re faced with.

I can so relate, Emma. When I’m in first draft, I feel as though I’m the reader, waiting as the story unfolds. Makes for writing that’s as much fun as reading! What do you like least? This is a moving target. Edits are always difficult, but if they strengthen the story then they’re well worth the blood, sweat and tears. Promotion is also difficult, partially because I have a hard time putting myself out there, partially because of the time involved. However, I love interacting with other authors (we have a solitary lifestyle by profession) and hearing what readers have to say.

Wait. The answer just came to me. I hate the waiting. I hate waiting while my characters figure out what comes next because once I start a story I have a pressing need to finish it. I hate waiting after I’ve sent the draft to my critique partners because I’m anxious for first reactions. I hate waiting to hear back on queries and submissions, mostly because I’m not patient…though I’m sure you’d never get that from this post. 🙂

What started you as a writer? My husband. He loves to read, yes even romance. I needed something to occupy my free time while I studied for my comprehensives, so I wrote him a story, which he insisted I share with his mother, who has some experience with the publishing world. They both pushed and pushed until I bit the bullet and submitted. Here I am two years, five releases and eight contracts later. Guess their faith wasn’t misplaced.

What keeps you writing? I would literally go insane if I didn’t write. My mind is constantly working, and writing stories gives it something productive to dwell on. Writing is a great stress reducer for me.

How has your writing impacted –or significantly changed—other aspects of your life?

I guess it’s time for the big reveal…

The biggest way writing has impacted my life was to inspire me to start a small e-publishing press, Twenty Or Less Press. I’ve found that while there are plenty of romance publishers who provide awesome feedback, even on rejected works, there just weren’t that many—or at least I didn’t come across them—e-publishers of other genres who provide much more than form rejections.

As a writer, I continually strive to improve my skills, and one of the most helpful things I’ve received, is criticism from others. My publishing house provides constructive feedback on all legitimate submissions. (Legitimate as in following the submission guidelines.) I’ve received dozens of emails from authors expressing their appreciation for my honest feedback even though, for the most part, the feedback included rejections. My goal is to help other writers be the best writers they can.

How exciting and mazel tov! I am so impressed by you taking on the business of publishing in today’s changing publishing paradigm. How did you come up with a name as intriguing and unique as the one you chose?

Sorry; sidetracked! Back to the interview:Where do you get story and character ideas? And for those who write across cultural lines, how do you market or generate mainstream, typical reader’s interest in your books? I think this question applies to those who write across genres while using the same pen name. That said, I have just submitted my first interracial/cross-cultural story. Either way, my answer is the same: market the characters. Plot drives the story, but it is through the eyes of the characters that the journey is made. Strip the characters of whatever makes them genre specific and tell the reader what she has in common with them or why she’ll love them or hate them.

As a reader, sell me on the characters, and I’ll read anything.

Me too! I’m currently reading a book and getting through it exactly b/c the author got me interested in the characters AND the story is compelling enough to keep me turning the pages. (The actual writing falls pretty far short of my tastes.) Talk about current, past and future projects, upcoming releases, maybe your ‘dream novel’? I have a couple of ‘dream novels’. I just submitted my first full-length book for consideration by Loose-Id. It’s not only my pet because it was the first book I wrote when starting my career as a writer, but because the heroine shares part of my personal life journey–walking the line between two cultures while feeling part of neither. Or, maybe that’s what I tried to write and didn’t succeed at. We’ll have to wait and see what the editor says. 🙂

My other ‘dream novel’ is a YA sci-fi/fantasy. I’ve always loved science fiction and once I discovered fantasy in my college years, I fell in love with that as well. I thought combining the two would make an intriguing read. The project has been slow going. The first book is over half complete, but I’ve taken a long hiatus from it while I’ve learned more about the craft of writing. Some things take time to do full justice. (Just hope I remember that if I get a rejection on the cross-cultural romance.)

Are we soul-sisters? I feel the same way w/a very slow-going project, but in the meantime, I’ve learned tons about web presence and social media. Please tell our readers how you juggle work (other than writing, assuming you work ‘outside the home’), time to write and all that goes along with it, especially as a published author (i.e., promo, etc).

My life is one of deadlines. Everything is prioritized based on that. I’m blessed to have a husband with a flexible schedule so when due dates loom, he steps in to take care of the little one.

If you please, talk about ‘my life is one of the deadlines’ in the comments’ section. In the meantime, kindly share the three ways you find most effective to promote your work: Promoting is about keeping your name out there even when there’s not a release in the near future. So, I tweet and do blog posts—though keeping with my desire to help other writers, most of my blog is devoted to showcasing the work of others. As time allows, I leave comments at other blogs as well. However, just as big as promoting is making sure I keep readers supplied with new stories.

Now in honor of the two-year anniversary of my first published story, I’m sharing covers and blurbs from the entire Mates of the Guardian series, which includes the upcoming Book 3: His Capture, Her Rescue. (Stories are available at The Wild Rose Press, Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com)

Leave a comment for a chance to win your choice of any of my published stories and an ARC of Book 3–when it becomes available. I’m also offering a $25 gift certificate to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or The Wild Rose Presswinner’s choicefor rebranding suggestions left on my blog at http://emmalaiwrites.blogspot.com/2011/08/its-all-in-branding.html.

BTW, Emma, these covers are stunning. Love the colors. And the model on His Capture Her Rescue reminds me of Twilight fame’s onscreen hero, Robert Pattinson. (That’s a good thing! :)) 

   His Ship, Her Fantasy:  Ellie Woods is in love…with a ship. When an argument with the ship results in a bump on the head, she finds herself in the strong arms of Alastair. But, who is he, and where did he come from?

Alastair has loved Ellie from afar for years, but duty has kept him from revealing himself to her. When a grave threat reveals his true identity, he hopes that Ellie will choose reality over fantasy. (Read an excerpt.)

   His Hope, Her Salvation: Promised in marriage to an abusive oaf, Judith resolves to find out if there can be passion without love. Snatches of conversation overheard at the local inn lead her to a mysterious American merchant who might be able to satisfy her carnal curiosity and capture her heart.

Donovan, a Guardian Hunter, is on the trail of a rogue Elysian in Georgian England. As the son of the First Hunter, he long ago gave up hope of finding his heart’s mate. When Judith appears in his study, his inner beast and his heart demand he answer her plea for help.

Will their passion answer their hearts’ pleas, or will it wither under the threat of reality? (Read an excerpt.)

  His Capture, Her Rescue (Coming soon from The Wild Rose Press)Masquerading as an American, Eallair, a Guardian Steward from another world, is searching Victorian England for the kidnapped mate of a fellow Guardian. When he meets Miss Harriet Cartwright, he knows her for the spirited, intelligent mate he has longed to find.

Since the death of their parents, Harriet has used her intelligence and sharp tongue to guard her sister from fortune hunters, but now that Prudence is close to choosing a husband, Harriet can consider her own future—one hopefully filled with adventure. When she meets Eallair, an American rancher who likes to travel and isn’t put off by her outspokenness, she is intrigued.

But before Harriet and Eallair can explore their attraction, she and her sister are kidnapped. While Eallair scours the countryside for them, Harriet discovers Eallair’s off-world origins. Now she must decide: just how much adventure does she want in her future?

So which of Emma’s titles has YOU most intrigued? (#2 has my attention.) Any of you who’ve already read her work, please leave the rest of us a recommendation! As always, thanks to all of you who stopped in! Stay tuned for two or three reviews next week (maybe even tomorrow! :)) 

Until next time, 

Joanna

Prolific Author Alert: Sarah McNeal is Here!

Good day, friends!

Hope all is well in everyone’s world today. Please extend a warm welcome to paranormal romance author Sarah J. McNeal! 

So glad to have you here, Sarah! Start us off:

What do love best about writing?

I love the creative process.  Hanging out at restaurants and the library listening to other people’s conversations and jotting down notes in my writer’s journal makes me feel like a mystery sloth.  I love when an epiphany presses the happy buzzer in my mind and helps me pull together the story I’m working on.  Shoot, I love everything about writing including the smell of pencils and the sight of stacks of notebook paper.  I love to settle down at my computer and transfer my handwritten text onto the screen.

What do you like least?

I almost hate to say it—promotion of my work.  I hate going around begging readers to check out my blogs and visit my website.  I feel like I’m on a street corner with a tin cup of pencils to sell.

What got you started?

March 18, 1947, I took a breath and, with it, came my imagination and the desire to share it.  I made up songs when I was three years old and told “adventure stories” by the time I was four.  I wrote my first story when I was nine.  The longing to share my stories has always been inside me.

What keeps you writing? 

It is my joy and aspiration to write—and then write even better.  It’s not something I control as much as it’s something that is basic element of myself.

How has your writing impacted –or significantly changed—other aspects of your life? 

After I published my first book, everything changed including my belief in myself.  Until then, I saw my career as nursing.  Nursing was the career my father chose for me.  Because he was a Great Depression survivor, he wanted me to choose a practical career that would not be dependant on the economy—and, believe me, it wasn’t.  I have never been without a job.  So, I have gratitude in that respect.  But the deep yearning to become a published writer had finally been fulfilled with the publication of my first book.  I planned to retire from nursing the first chance I got so that I could devote myself to my first love—writing.  After a few years of saving and planning, I took an early retirement. Even in the face of a declining economy, I have never regretted it, never looked back.

(Oh to retire early…what a joy…)

Where do you get story and character ideas?

Mostly from the world around me.  I keep a writer’s journal with me everywhere I go and jot down tidbits of things I see and hear.  I wrote Bitter Notes based on a real life event.  Someone threw their baby grand piano out in the front yard and let it rot in the elements. Every day I passed it as it fell into pieces of rotted wood and despaired over it.  Why?  Why would anyone do that?  I felt driven to write its story.

I was fooling around one day playing my harmonica with my feet propped up on my Grandfather McNeal’s trunk and it made me think about the things in that trunk and what they were like when they were new.  That’s how I found my inspiration for Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride.  All of my stories started with something that crossed my life’s path.  When all else fails, I play the “What If” game.

For those who write across cultural lines, how do you market or generate a mainstream, typical reader’s interest in your books?

Generating interest from any reader I believe begins with producing the best story I can write.  Good writing speaks to readers more than anything else.  I don’t write cross-culture stories unless you count fantasy cultures—not yet anyway but, if I did, I would give it my all.

Talk about current, past and future projects, upcoming releases, maybe your ‘dream novel’?

Bitter Notes is a novella published by Amira Press.  Logline: An abandoned piano heals a broken heart.

The Violin is a story about a member of my family that died too young.  I brought John back from the brink and gave him a life in this book from my heart.  Although currently in re-edits, it is contracted by Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery for its second edition. Logline: Timeless love brought together by a violin.

Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride is my latest release. (Logline: A haunted house, a trunk and a date with destiny. Below are the blurb and an excerpt.

I am presently working on the sequel based on a secondary character that I fell in love withBanjo (Logline: Deceit stands between a man’s love and his destiny.)

For those who don’t know me, they can get a couple of my free stories; download them at my website or from Amira Press.

*** For more of Sarah’s very intriguing titles click here.***

Please tell our readers how you juggle work (other than writing, assuming you work ‘outside the home,’ as a patient aptly asked me many years ago J), time to write and all that goes along with it, especially as a published author (i.e., promo, etc).

I used to have a very difficult time dragging myself away from my writing to go to work in the ER and then I finally decided to take an early retirement after I sold my first novel.  No regrets.  I do however, make time for my family.  As much as I love writing, my friends and family do come first and I make time for them whenever I need to.  It’s easy to get so caught up in writing that it takes over my life so I do have to force myself to come out of my writer’s cave from time to time and become a social being.  My sister never gets this about me.  Traveling and enjoying theater and other people are her main enjoyments so it’s hard for her to understand that writers are accustomed to being alone.

Please share the three ways you find most effective to promote your work!

1.  The number one thing a writer needs for promotion is to produce the best story they are capable of writing.  Quality writing counts more than any other thing.

2.  I do not like to go into readers’ groups and post blurbs and excerpts then take off.  I like to interact with the readers and authors on the loops.  I have a banner that tells about my books and directs them to my website.  I don’t need to hammer it down their throats every single day.  I think authors who do that, risk losing the interest of readers.  They just grow numb to the constant barrage of “look at my books.”  I’m sure that some may disagree with that point of view but that has been my experience. I think interacting with readers and other authors and always remembering to be polite, answer questions and say thank you when someone compliments me.

3.  Blogging I find is a very effective way to present myself and my work to others.  When people read about the things that concern or interest me, I think they can often relate to me better.  It’s a way of getting readers to know me and where my heart lies.  I am a person first and then I’m a writer.

    (Love this cover! Gorgeous!) 

Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride

Blurb: Lola Barton discovers a warp in time in an old trunk when she falls into 1910. She finds herself married to Joseph Wilding, a stranger shadowed by secrets. Mistaken for Callie McGraw, a thief and a woman of ill repute, Lola finds her life is threatened by a scoundrel. Joe stands between her and certain death. With danger threatening all around and secrets keeping them apart, can Joe and Lola find their destiny together? Or will time and circumstance forever divide them?

Excerpt:  Harmonica music floated down from the attic—the last place in this tumble down wreck of a house Lola Barton wanted to go.  Had someone or something taken up residence there?  Lola made her way up the darkened attic stairs measuring each step as the ancient boards creaked in protest under her feet.  Her flashlight beamed a narrow circle of light illuminating the cobweb-covered door at the top of the landing.  Her heart raced and pulsed in her ears.  Hands trembled with the surge of adrenaline as she pressed forward.  She ignored her inner voice that warned, “Don’t go!”

Her cynical mind told her the rumors that Misty Oaks Plantation had ghosts weren’t true.  The tales of murder and betrayal had to be the overactive imagination of the local townspeople.  A homeless vagrant had to be the most logical explanation for the disturbance.

Once she gained the landing, she blew the cobwebs from the door and leaned her ear against it to listen for any movement on the other side.  Wisps of harmonica music lifted in the air.  Perhaps someone left a harmonica lying around and the wind blew hard enough through the cracks in the walls to make it sound as though someone played the instrument.  Just the wind.  No ghost.

With her courage bolstered by her logical conclusion, she grabbed the doorknob and turned it.

BUY LINKS:

Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride

By Sarah McNeal

ISBN: 978-1461087731 1461087732

Available at:

Western Trail Blazer Novels

Amazon.com

Lulu Book Store:

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

Available in print, too!

Thanks so much, Sarah, for sharing your author’s journey with us! I’m always in awe of authors who can take ideas and see them to so many complete stories. Best wishes and may you continue to experience the joy of creating!

Have a wonderful day, folks!

Joanna

 

She Waited Long Enough!

Good day, all!

Two school days to go, Wimbledon is in full force and I’m blogging again.  Life is good!

Before I move into the fun stuff, I’d like to take a moment and remember Clarence Clemons, saxophonist extraordinaire for NJ’s own Bruce Springsteen and later, solo artist. I was quite saddened by the Big Man’s passing but know the legacy he believed he was born to leave behind (bringing joy) will go on. Had the pleasure of seeing Clarence play with the E Street Band live once—awesome show, exuberantly led by a guy who exuded fun and goodness. He will be missed.

Back to today’s order of business: If everything happens for a reason (the topic of my  previous post) then it was meant for me to completely format, photo and tag
Pat’s interview—only to lose it when a glitch (?) in the browser failed to save and deleted all my work.  (Spme other glitch seems to be messing with my formatiing, so please excuse the appearance if not all the text is where it should be.) I’m not sure, Pat. Maybe this interview wasn’t meant to be?

Actually, folks, I’m very happy to set this up again. (Think it turned out better.) I’d invited today’s very kind soul and online friend to be a guest sometime in February (?). Unfortunately, timing issues on both sides and the work-related chaos springtime heaped upon my head brings us to today. Pat has been gracious and patient throughout this time. For that, I thank her and now proudly present:

  Poet, Ghostwriter and Author: Pat Andres

Author of  Love From the Ashes, MAGGIE: A Savannah Dog and ROSEANNA : A Savannah Squirrel (each available from Pat!)

                 

So tell us, Pat: what do you love best about  writing?

I am in love with  words. The rhyme of poetry, the flights of prose enchant me, take me outside  myself. The process of bringing out my thoughts using language is irresistible.

What do you like least?

Marketing and  promotion, unlike writing, are very hard.

To this I can really relate. Since January,  I’ve spent quite a bit of time learning about social media, an absolute necessity in today’s digitally-driven world. I recently realized I’m currently working on my ‘third’ education.

 Sorry! Wound up off-topic. What got you started?

I was an only child  for many years. My grandmother, an immigrant who did not read, warned me that  reading would ruin my eyes. I used to hide under the porch and read my way  through our tiny two-room public library before I was ten years old.

Talk about different worlds. My dad was so into my reading he’d patiently wait at the library while I took out the maximum number of books I could. I was so attached to my books, I’d use my stomach to keep one in place while I ate dinner, lol. He never said a word.

I did it again. (Hangs head and shakes it.) Back to Pat: what keeps you writing?

I have a keen interest in the lives of people I meet. Everyone has a story that deserves to
be told. I’m finishing a biography of a transgender person that has taught me how difficult existence can be outside the mainstream we call “normal.” Focusing on the conflicts and growth of others has changed the way I view life in allits grand array. There is more than one kind of flower in the field, after all.

Where do you get story and character ideas?

I’m a watcher. I look around me and imagine how I can illustrate human characteristics using words the way a painter captures a person on canvas.

How do you promote your work?

I use word of mouth and social networks like e-mail, Facebook and my website. I also distribute giveaways.

Contact Pat: pattyflea2003@ yahoo.com (Bet she loves feedback on her stories ;))

Find Pat here: www.patriciaandres.com   (Chances are, she loves visitors!)

Thanx, Joanna, for the opportunity to show off.

You are so very welcome, Pat; my thanks to YOU.  So sorry this took so long. If, however, we’re all exactly where we’re supposed to be in God’s plan, then this was meant to take place today, right?

 Thanks to all of you who took the time to support my friend and me! Don’t ever underestimate how much each of you (known and unknown) means to me.  

How about we spend Friday having some fun beefing about pet peeves? Bring yours and share. A good kvetching session is always in order, lol.

 A great day to all,

Joanna

Call Me Aphrodite…er…C.R. Wills

I happened on this gentleman when I came across his article, Designing Characters Using Mind Maps at SellingBooks.com. I very much liked the graphic organizer he used, commented on it and invited him to be a guest. So today, as part of Wednesday’s craft and/or author days, I present to you young adult author Christopher Wills, writing as C. R. Wills.

       

Welcome, Chris! Tell us a bit about yourself:

I wrote my first book, Call me Aphrodite, about a teenager who ran away from home and ends up in London having lost her memory. It has some uncomfortable scenes in it so although I say it’s YA it’s more A than Y. I used to be a teacher of 13 – 19 year olds in a good Roman Catholic school and I got the story from seeing a pupil disappear. I asked her friends where she was and was told she’s run away to London. l ended up reading a report on the Barnardo’s website (a British charity that looks after children who have had a tough time). The report was about child prostitution in London and my story was born. It was a story I felt I had to write.

I designed the cover myself because I wanted to do it all myself, probably more ego than sense… I’m going to get a professional to design my next cover.

My current book is much lighter, it’s a YA ghost story (Okay, it’s my Harry Potter genre attempt). It’s definitely Y and not so much A. I wrote it during 2009’s National Novel Writer’s Month (a.k.a., NaNoWriMo, which runs every November) in  and I’m now editing it. I love NaNoWriMo.

I give you so much credit for NaNoWriMo, Chris. Never had the discipline to take that on. And you go on to prove that time very well spent, as all of the books you mention in this article appear to be products of NaNoWriMo. Tell us about other aspects of your life.

I have been a soldier in the ranks, a sailor as an officer and a teacher of Physics and Math. I have three degrees, A BS in Electronics, an MBA and an MA in Creative and Critical Writing. Currently I work for air traffic control in the UK as a technical author. I have just started my three year plan to become a full time fiction author. The ebook revolution may (hopefully) speed things up.

I am a positive person myself and I love the positivity I get from your blog. No negative karma there.

I so thank you! These are the moments one is so happy to be putting oneself out there to the world. J

What do love best about writing?

I am happy to be left alone, so I love the solitude of writing and being in the world I have created.  (I can so relate; must be a writer-thing.) It’s as good as reading. Also I love problem solving because when I write I create problems for myself that I need to solve. Sometimes it would be easier to ignore the problem and write around it, but I can’t do that.

A good example is in the book I am writing at the moment. It’s a paranormal about a 15-year-old girl who becomes a ghost after a road accident. It’s an adventure about her looking for her dad who passed away when she was young. She believes he will also be a ghost so she sets off to find him.

Unfortunately one of my previous incarnations was as a Physics teacher and I am used to asking and answering silly questions. Of course I had to start asking myself questions like, “How can a ghost walk through a wall but not fall through the floor?” (Great question!) And, “If a ghost is invisible how come her clothes are invisible too?” (Why would a ghost wear clothes, lol?) When I was a teacher these are exactly the kind of questions I was faced with every day, not that ghost studies was on the curriculum. This was the part of teaching I loved: taking knowledge the pupil has and accepts, and using it to get them to understand something they don’t understand.

What do you like least?

Nothing. I am currently a technical author so I write engineering manuals all day and I enjoy that. If pushed I would say I get frustrated when I see a piece of writing that I think I could improve but the author thinks otherwise. I run a creative writing group and I often get to read and constructively advise others.

What keeps you writing?

The need to justify to myself that I am a writer. I have friends who paint and knit and take photographs in their spare time and they all have output to show as a result of their efforts. I want to have a shelf full of books and be able to say, ‘I wrote them’.

Where do you get story and character ideas?

I may have made myself creative by reading and writing a lot. Also I draw mind maps and other types of diagrams, which I think are amazing ways to stimulate you. There is no such thing as, I can’t draw; scribbling and doodling is drawing; just doodle to a theme or to a question and you will stimulate your brain. (I like that perspective.)

Ideas are floating all around us like word clouds. When I need an idea I pluck a cloud from the air, unravel it and copy down the words or phrases I find useful, then I scrunch them back together into a cloud and throw it up in the air so somebody else can use them. (Interesting image.)

Talk about current, past and future projects, upcoming releases, maybe your ‘dream novel’?

I have more ideas for novels than I could possibly write in a lifetime. My ghost book is my current project. It’s my Harry Potter replacement attempt. I’m sure everyone’s tried it, although, maybe I should be trying to emulate Amanda Hocking. I don’t think I could write in her field so her crown is safe. (She’s done amazingly well and now a full-time writer herself, proving, it can happen.)

Please tell our readers how you juggle work, time to write and all that goes along with it (i.e., promo, etc).

Although I have been writing for years it has been haphazard, and only this year have I started to treat it more formally in a business sense. I completed nanowrimo in 2003, 2008 and 2009. My recently self-published novel, ‘Call me Aphrodite’ was my 2003 NaNoWriMo project. The ghost novel I am currently working on is my 2009 NaNoWriMo. I plan to do it every year because it gives me 50,000+ words of editable text, which for me is about 2/3 of a novel.

I was inspired by reading J A Konrath’s blog, that now is the time of the independent self published e-book writer. I realized I had to get into a schedule if I wanted to join in. So this year I decided to get up at 0500 and do an hour’s writing Monday to Friday. It’s an hour earlier than I normally get up, so I try to go to bed an hour earlier and often it means I fall asleep in my chair in the evening for twenty minutes but that’s okay. I used to try and write in the evening but I was always mentally tired after work so it was difficult. It works. I love my hour of quiet in the morning. My mind is fresh and I can write uninterrupted. Wonderful. (I can so relate about the magic of that quiet time. That’s probably my biggest challenge these days: too much activity in my home for too many hours of the day.)

Please share the three ways you find most effective to promote your work!

This is my weak point. Everyone says one must blog and tweet, which I do, but I wonder how many book readers buy books on the strength of blogs and tweets. I have a feeling it’s a bit like selling lemonade from a table outside your house; it’s not exactly Walmart or Barnes and Noble. I am currently learning about tagging which I think can help.

Tagging has me a little confused but we’ll be exploring that topic next Wednesday, when the bloglight will again be all yours, Chris. Until then, please feel free to check out Chris’ very cool blog as well as his books. And, as per Chris’ request, should any of you happen on Call Me Aphrodite at Amazon he’d appreciate a tag or two. Here are the links:

     Call me Aphrodite is available here.

Here’s a blurb (very intriguing!) Aged 13 and alone in London, Aphrodite has lost her memory. She desperately wants to know who she is, but the more she learns, the more she becomes afraid to learn.

Call me Aphrodite is the story of a 13 year old girl, dragged from the river Thames by Leon a young boy who lives with his prostitute sister. She calls herself Aphrodite because she can’t even remember her own name. What dark secrets are behind the locked doors inside her head? What is her mind trying to protect her from?

As she struggles to forge a new life for herself, she is forced into the dangerous world of under-aged prostitution by a collection of twisted characters that both terrify and fascinate her. Then one traumatic night a shocking event smashes through the barriers in her mind, and the real horror of what she has gone through in her past is revealed to her. Aphrodite has paid a terrible price to regain her memory. What can she do next?

She can’t change her past. Can she change her future? To read more, click here.


Chris’ post on using mindmaps for creating characters is here! (Worth a look, I promise!)

Thanks so much, Chris, for stopping by and giving us the opportunity to know you as well as sharing some of the knowledge you’ve gained on your writing journey to date. See you next Wednesday!

And thanks to all of you who stopped in today. Don’t forget to drop by on Friday. I’ve got a special post lined up in honor of my wedding anniversary. See you then!

Joanna

 

 

And the Winning Entry is…Sanguineous!

Good day, all!

As promised, here is the follow-up to yesterday’s author interview: a sampling of Anna Kittrell’s poetry and the entry that surpassed circa 600 entries to take the prize: publication in Writers’ Digest! And, in the pay-it-forward spirit of all the writers I’ve been blessed to know, Anna has already connected me to another writer friend. Thanks,  Anna! 

To the rest of you, as always I thank you for making this such a fun place to be!

Alone With Me

Alone with ears too wise to hear

And eyes to blind to see

Dear Lord Jesus, please don’t leave

Myself alone with me

In darkness vengeance steals my thoughts

And rolls within my head

I taste the words I long to say

Words better left unsaid

My twisting, turning, twiddling thumbs

Will not be bored for long

Bad habits jump into my hands

Where soon they will grow strong

 My feet will run to Trouble’s door

And beg to come inside

Where they will roam forbidden halls

Built up by foolish pride

Lord, please stay beside me now

God hear my humble plea

I’m formed of dust, and just can’t trust

Myself, alone with me

Anna Kittrell

And here is Sanguineous!

I plunged the claw of my hammer between my agent’s startled eyes and twisted the handle.  The dust from her shattered face assaulted my lungs, making me cough and wheeze.  Figures.  Matilda Blakely always got the last word.  I yanked my hammer out of the plaster and gave the wall another crack.  Matilda would agree that my talent for conjuring up faces in wall texture superseded my talent for conjuring up an original protagonist.  I gave the wall a dozen more Lizzie Borden-style whacks. 

Matilda couldn’t get enough of me two years ago when my first novel, Vein Girls, debuted on the New York Times Best Sellers list.  She had sucked up my glory like the teenaged vampires between the covers sucked up blood.  I had even let her talk me into buying this dilapidated 1849 Victorian which once belonged to famed horror writer Vincent Griffin, on the premise that it would generate for me an “eccentric appeal.”  But as the angst-ridden coattails of the teen vampire genre wore thin, Matilda’s friendship responded likewise. 

“Cruella Deville, Cruella Deville, if she doesn’t scare you, no evil thing will…”

Matilda was calling, demanding chapters instead of puppies.  I didn’t answer; I already knew what she was going to say.  My deadline for the new book was tomorrow. 

I hurled my hammer at the fractured wall like a shot put.  It tore completely through and landed on the other side with a thud.  My pulse quickened; I thought the wall was peripheral.  I tapped along the wall, listening for variations.  Suddenly, the taps changed tone.  With a surge of adrenaline, I kicked the plaster to pieces, revealing a solid oak door underneath.  I opened the door and stepped into the stale, dark space on the other side.

I shined my pocket penlight around the room and spotted my hammer against the far wall.  A cobweb-cloaked mahogany desk sat in the middle of the room topped with a heavy, antique-looking typewriter and a stack of papers.  I scanned the title page, “Sanguineous, a novel by Vincent Griffin,” was typed in the center.  Unbelievable.  I had unearthed the secret writing room of Vincent Griffin and uncovered one of his manuscripts.  I felt lightheaded, and steadied myself against the desk.

Carefully, I picked up the manuscript and carried it through the door into my living room.  I considered my options.  On one hand, I had discovered an original manuscript written by a famous novelist.  The find was enthralling, but not lucrative.  I would be expected to hand it over to a historical museum, smiling all the while.  “Oh, your welcome, Mr. Museum Curator, it is the least I can do; after all, a literary masterpiece of this caliper will benefit all of mankind.”  I took a sweeping bow, nearly spilling the pages onto the floor. 

On the other hand, I would inevitably be dropped from Matilda’s client list if I did not produce-first thing in the morning-a marketable manuscript minus pubescent vampires.

I ran my fingers over the manuscript’s yellow-tinged edge and resolved myself to a night of reading. 

Chapter One.  The graceful rhythm of Vincent’s words caused my eyelids to droop.  By the third paragraph I was drooling on the hardwood.

“Cruella Deville, Cruella Deville…”

My eyelids sprung.  It was morning.  Matilda was calling for her book.  I promised to meet her at Thornbriar’s Bistro in an hour, my manuscript in hand. 

Matilda grabbed the manuscript from me in the doorway and fondled it all the way to the table. 

“Brilliant!  It appears to be typed on a manual typewriter.  Where on earth did you find that font?  The antiqued paper looks so authentic!  I’m picturing an aged leather cover with golden stamped letters.  If your story is as exceptional as your concept, we will not only have another best seller, but will also start a trend in antediluvian packaging.”

 Matilda caught her breath, then kissed me on both cheeks. “Forgive me, but I must go.  I’ll call you.”  She breezed out of the bistro clutching the sole copy of a priceless manuscript in her coral tipped fingers.

 ************************************************************************

Sanguineous, a novel by Vincent Griffin,”  I stared at the title page.  It was all that was left of the irreplaceable book.  Matilda assured me she had “done me a favor” by incinerating that “ridiculous waste of antiqued paper” in her fireplace.  

Incidentally, it turns out the word “sanguineous” means “bloodthirsty.”  It seems Vincent Griffin penned the very first teenage vampire novel of all time. 

 

 

And the Winner Is…Anna Kittrell!

Happy Wednesday, everyone! As I strive to put structure to this virtual rest-stop on the World Wide Web, Wednesdays will be designated to craft and/or getting to know the awesome individuals life puts in this author’s path! I contacted today’s guest after reading her winning entry in Writers’ Digest’s monthly column/contest: YOURSTORY. (I may have discovered a soul-sister in Oklahoma—and she loves my favorite Fran Fine, too.) We’ve had a blast connecting through Facebook and email messages for over a week now. You all know I had to ask her to visit with me here.

 

 To keep things brief, I’ll run the prompt and her winning story tomorrow. Anna also explores and creates in other areas of writing. She’ll share as we go.

 Welcome, Anna! I’ve had the best time getting to know you this past week. Definitely one of the perks of writing and social media: the wonderful people we get to know.

 What do love best about writing? Writing transports me back to my childhood, in a sense.  Creating characters and the world they live in allows me to indulge in two of my favorite past times, pretending and escaping.

What do you like least? It upsets me when I allow myself to lose valuable writing time by obsessing over one single sentence, or sometimes one single word, during the writing process, instead of letting my writing flow. 

What got you started? I have been writing stories and poetry since I was a little girl, and have saved several of my childhood manuscripts to this day.  I used to bring my handwritten stories to school, and at times my teachers would let me read them aloud to the class.  Sometimes I would sell them to classmates for a dime a piece afterwards!  (Do you consider yourself self-published, lol?)

Couldn’t resist, Anna. What keeps you writing?  At times I feel a sense of dread at the beginning of a project because I know that stories are selfish, and will not rest until they are well written.  But it is during the writing process, within those inspired, magical times when I am pulled into the vacuum of my own story, and the hours tick away like moments, that I remember why I love what I do.  (Amen.)

Where do you get story and character ideas?  A great deal of my story and character ideas are inspired by the people and places within my memory, especially my childhood memory, which makes considerable contributions to my work.

How has writing impacted your life? Writing deeply impacted my life through my favorite teacher.  When I was a freshman in high school, I could not wait until I was a sophomore, because creative writing class was available as an elective to tenth graders.  On sophomore pre-enrollment day, I excitedly circled Mrs. Tinch’s creative writing class as my first choice, and can honestly tell you it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. 

 Mrs. Tinch often disassembled our entire class, sending us out to find interesting, unpopulated spaces in which to write individually.  I would creep silently into the shadows of the quiet auditorium, or sneak up into the rafters and put pen to paper while perched on the catwalk over the stage.  Other times I would lope down to the tree line behind the football field to enjoy some fresh air and shade. An hour later we would regroup, holding spiral notebooks filled with the most amazing creative stories, poetry, and self reflections.  Mrs. Tinch taught me, along with the rest of her students, how a fresh perspective can be the life’s blood of creativity. I’m twenty two years past my last creative writing class with Mrs. Tinch, and she still receives my excited emails when I accomplish a goal in the world of writing.

 Writing has also impacted my life by introducing me to countless interesting people. I write customized poetry for individuals in honor of birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers, etc.  In preparation, I give the person requesting the poem a questionnaire to fill out using the recipient’s information in order for me to create a personalized poem.  The information I receive always astounds me.  Once, a daughter asked me to write a poem for her father.  While we filled out the questionnaire together, she informed me that her father had worked for NASA when she was a little girl, and had designed the lightweight American flag planted on the moon by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin!  On another occasion, a wife’s questionnaire revealed to me that her husband had invented an early rendition of the color copier machine, invented a vibrating toilet seat, and that he had developed a technique which allowed him to extract gold from sand. 

 Even more amazing than the information provided on the questionnaire, is without fail the love that is expressed by the person requesting the poem for the recipient.  People are very appreciative of my services and don’t normally realize that they are the ones who write the poems for their loved ones.  I merely rhyme their information.

 You commented in our FB messages about exploring romance and having written short stories—tell us about those and other works in progress.

 I enjoy writing short stories, and have had the thrill of seeing a couple of them in print.  My short story, Ashes, placed first in the “anger” category of Faithwriter’s short story competition in 2005, earning publication in Faithwriter’s anthology entitled, In the Beginning. I am still giddy over my win in Writer’s Digest’s YOURSTORY competition #29.  My winning entry, Sanguineous, appears in the March/April 2011issue of Writer’s Digest, presently on shelves.

In addition to customized poetry, I write inspirational poetry which appears weekly in the church bulletin of First Assembly of God in Anadarko, Oklahoma. I have written one small middle grade novel, entitled, Madstone, and am currently working on a longer middle grade novel entitled, Witcha’be.  Both novels are thrillers with Christian elements. 

For my next project I want to write a romance about a forty-something couple who have been together since their teens.  After raising their children they find themselves alone together, and decide to recapture the excitement of their youth by making a list of their favorite teenage moments and reliving them all over again, over twenty years later.

If Sanguineous was any indication of what your stories are about, Anna, I know I look forward to the original spin you’ll put on a romance.

Don’t forget: stop by tomorrow to read a sampling of Anna’s poety and her winning entry! Visit her on Facebook, too, and check out the incredible job Anna and her family did restoring the 1925 Victorian they call home. Is it possible a little inspiration for Sanguineous came out of THAT undertaking?

See you then,

Joanna
 

 

 
 

 

 

Inspirational and Edgy!

Welcome to Friday, friends! (Fridays are for Fun will resume next week. I’d promised today’s guest this spot before I came up with the ‘column’ idea.) Before we start, I’d like to take a moment and remember those suffering in Japan and in all the locales our media doesn’t cover. Thank you.

And here is our guest:

Bio: Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

Welcome to my tiny corner of cyberspace, Pamela. Let’s jump right in:

What do you love best about writing? I love the creative part – that first draft is always the most fun. Everything afterward is work LOL!

What keeps you writing? Books have always been a passion of mine – that same passion as well as my desire to touch a hurting world with the message of Christ is what keeps me writing.

How has your writing impacted –or significantly changed—other aspects of your life? As Christians we are called to look a level deeper – as writers we are taught this same attribute – therefore, writing has encouraged me to open my heart and mind to ‘see’ what’s in the heart of people instead of what’s on the surface – to be more understanding, tolerant and accepting of folks for who they are, not who I think they should be.

Please tell our readers how you juggle work (other than writing, assuming you work ‘outside the home,’ as a patient aptly asked me many years ago), time to write and all that goes along with it, especially as a published author (i.e., promo, etc). Up until 2010 I worked outside the home so writing was done in my ‘spare’ time – an hour here, 30 minutes there – nights, evenings and weekends. When actively working on a project I spend as much time on that project – doing my best to concentrate on it alone. When not actively working on something I spend my time promoting myself and my work as well as editing/promoting for other authors.

Talk about current, past and future projects, upcoming releases, maybe your ‘dream novel’? Currently I have 5 novels (4 part Tempered series & The Inheritance) published. All are available in print and ebook. I also have 6 short stories (1 FREE!) available through White Rose Publishing. My debut women’s fiction novel, The Visionary is due out in November from Five Star Expressions. As for future projects, I have a list of non-fiction short ebooks I want to write and twice as many fiction projects in various stages of completion I hope to finish this year. I also enjoy sharing my knowledge and experiences with others and hope to develop and teach several online workshops.

Here are Pamela’s virtual ‘hotspots’: Website; blog; Facebook and Twitter. Stop by one or all, say “Hi!” and stay a while!

A visit to Pamela’s website taught me this lady’s talents extend to other areas of writing, too. She’ll edit, type, create websites and work with clients in other areas of promotion. Definitely worth a look, I think.

Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Pamela!

Next week, Diane Lang is back. Not sure if I’m doing one or two days with this one, but she’ll be sharing sage advice geared specifically to those who’ve experienced job loss. We’ll run a Fridays are for Fun, too.

Before you go, please remember to click one or more of the share buttons below. As always, I thank you!

Wishing all of you an awesome weekend,

Joanna