Author interviews

 

Today I have Katie Oliver on my blog. She’s talking about Bic lighters and over priced beer!image1-2

If you know anything at all about Mr Darcy, then you will certainly know Katie. Katie Oliver is the best-selling author of Prada and Prejudice and the Dating Mr Darcy/Marrying Mr Darcy series. She loves romantic comedies, characters who “meet cute,” Richard Curtis films, and Prosecco (not necessarily in that order). She currently resides in South Florida with her husband. If you haven’t read her Mr Darcy series, what are you waiting for? I’ll put the links below for you so you can check them out. Meanwhile, Katie has some news to share, and it isn’t about Mr Darcy this time. It’s about authors changing genres. As I know all about this, I was interested to hear what Katie had to say about it too.

 

So without further ado, here she is.

Rock on, Katie

‘When I was younger, I loved going to rock concerts. Heart, The Beach Boys, Paul McCartney and Wings, Steve Miller Band, Def Leppard, Journey, Alice Cooper, Poison, The Police, 38 Special… It didn’t matter if the venue was large or small, indoors or out. Of one thing I was certain. Me, my overpriced beer, and my Bic lighter would be there. 

What we fans wanted were the hits. We wanted to hear Every Breath You Take and Roxanne. We wanted Band on the Run. We wanted School’s Out and Hold on Loosely and Don’t Stop Believing. We wanted, needed, to hold up our lighters and sing along to the anthems of our youth.  

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We didn’t want to hear the “new stuff.” Oh, we listened to songs from the upcoming, as-yet-unreleased albums and afterwards we clapped politely…and then yelled “Play Free Bird!” or “Photograph!!” the minute the “new stuff” was over with. Because the hits were what we knew and loved. The hits were familiar, like a favorite denim jacket or your best friend. We knew the words. We could sing along. 

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It’s not much different if you’re a published author. If you’ve had a bit of success with a book, especially a series, everyone wants more of the same. They want to read the next installment, share in the new adventures of familiar characters. And that’s fantastic, and certainly what every writer hopes to achieve. It’s a wonderful, flattering thing. And we love it. 

But sometimes writers, like musicians, want to try our hand at something different. Take genres, for instance. I’m known for penning romantic comedies.  Chick lit. And I love writing them. They’re fun, flirty, frothy…and perennially popular. But after nine books in three years, I felt a bit uninspired. I was non-effervescent, like a soda gone flat. I needed something new. Something different. Something a little more exciting. 

So I decided to try my hand at writing some “new stuff.” In my case, a new series of romantic suspense novels. It’s been fun, and definitely challenging, because writing suspense isn’t easy. (Not that ANY writing is easy.) it requires thought. Planning. Foreshadowing. Drawing out expectations and making the reader wait almost to the bitter end for the payoff, while still delivering a happy ending. 

In the spirit of trying new things, I also contributed a short story to Christina Boyd’s upcoming anthology, Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentlemen Rogues. Having never written Jane Austen fan fiction before, it was an education in all things Austen and familiarized me to a greater degree with the Austen canon. I enjoyed penning a story set during the Regency period, so much so that I may write a historical romance novel in the near future. 

So, readers, have patience with us authors if we decide to switch genres. We know you like our greatest hits. But we hope, by stretching ourselves a little and expanding our writerly horizons, that we might pen a few new hits. 

And we hope you’ll come along for the ride. (Bic lighters and overpriced beer optional.)

You can connect with Katie by following the links below

Website/blog: http://katieoliver.com/ko/blog/ Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/KatieOliverWriterInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/katiewriter/ – @katiewriterPinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/katieoliver01/  Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7565829.Katie_OliverTwitter: http://www.twitter.com/@katieoliver01Jane Austen Variations Author Page:http://austenvariations.com/aboutold/katie-oliver/

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Buy Katie’s books using the links below

AMAZON UNIVERSAL BUY LINKS:

DATING MR DARCY series:

Prada & Prejudice  – myBook.to/Prada Love & Liability – myBook.to/LoveandLiability Mansfield Lark  – myBook.to/MansfieldLark

MARRYING MR DARCY series:

And the Bride Wore Prada – myBook.to/ATBWP

Love, Lies & Louboutins – myBook.to/LoveLiesLouboutins

Manolos in Manhattan – myBook.to/ManolosinManhattan

JANE AUSTEN FACTOR series: What Would Lizzy Bennet Do? – myBook.to/WWLBDThe Trouble With Emma –  myBook.to/TroubleWEmma Who Needs Mr Willoughby? –  myBook.to/WNWilloughby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meeting Heather McCoubrey

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Today I am delighted to welcome my novelist friend Heather McCoubrey to my blog to tell us about her new novel. Heather is the self-published author of To Love Twice, her debut novel. Her second novel, Back to December, was released in June 2014 and the novel that she wrote in high school, EMILY’S CHOICE, was released in March this year. She is currently working on her fourth novel, scheduled to be released in the summer of 2016.

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I seriously don’t know how Heather does it. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, three children, Rex the Chihuahua, Killer, the outside cat, and Fatty the goldfish. When she’s not being super-mom and wife, she ekes out time to write, watch football, practice her British accent and dream of living on an island where it’s eighty degrees year-round.

I think Heather is secretly Superwoman.

Hello Heather, thanks for joining me today. Tell us a little about yourself.

Hello everyone, I’m Heather. I’d like to thank Lynda for having me on her blog today! I’m a Stay-at-Home Mom, who in her spare time, writes books. This book that is being published this month is EMILY’S CHOICE, has been a real labor of love. I first wrote this book twenty-three years ago, when I was a senior in high school. I wrote a very rough draft and put it aside, intending to send it out to agents and publishers. I joined the Air Force right after graduation, and in the demands of military life, my book got shuffled to the bottom of my priority list. I would take it out every so often, read it, edit it, rewrite portions and then it would get filed away, forgotten in the bustle of life.. When I left the Air Force, another chapter of my life took priority and I found myself a newly married woman, living in a new city, with a new job. Again life took me down a road I wasn’t expecting and again my writing kept collecting dust on the shelf. I won’t say I didn’t do any writing, because that would be a lie. I started several story ideas, even getting thousands of words written. But I never finished a project and I never published anything. I worked my writing in when I could spare some time, which wasn’t often..And then came the babies. 

In October 2011, a friend of mine finally convinced me to participate in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). My debut novel TO LOVE TWICE was started during that event and I finished it in January 2013. After beta reader input and some revisions, I published it in March 2013. My second novel BACK TO DECEMBER was published in June 2014.

 I truly hope you enjoy Emily & Jason’s story! They’ve gone through many ups and downs, some you’ll read about and some that are lost forever in the memory of a girl who worked so diligently on her first novel so many years ago.

 Happy Reading! xoxo

I asked Heather what inspired her to write ‘Emily’s Choice’

Book Inspiration:

The inspiration for this book came from looking at old copies of National Geographic magazine. I was a senior in high school and living with my grandmother. In one of the issues, there was an old map that was folded in such a way that New Mexico was on top and a small town named Mosquero was smack in the middle. We were learning about the Native Americans and something I’d read recently told me that Pocahontas’ real name was Matoaka. I thought it was a beautiful name and while looking at all of this, I had an idea for the book. What started out as Matoaka became Emily’s Choice and twenty-three years later it has gone through several major rewrites. The general plot for the story is the same, but everything else is different. I love this story and I love that it is finally off the shelf and into the reader’s hands.

 

Also Heather, can you share your writing space with us.

Writing Space:

 My writing space. I wish I had a specific writing space. I’m a Stay-At-Home Mom, which means my writing time and space change constantly. I do have a space down in the basement, which when I’m super lucky (or up in the middle of night) is where I write on occasion. Usually, I steal time to write—using old fashion pen & notebook (or if I’ve remembered to update the files in Evernote, I use my phone)—between Girl Scouts, TaeKwonDo, Dance class or the school pick up line. And because Home is so chaotic, I also seek solitude at my local Panera. There’s free wifi and no one bothers me. I duck my head, focus on my work and can usually write a few thousand words in the free time I’ve managed to find. Here is a picture of my messy basement writing space. heather7

 

Whet your appetite with an extract from Heather’s novel

‘Two hours later, Emily was sitting with her aunt and cousin when Tyler appeared in front of her. “There’s someone here to see you, Em. I put him in Dad’s office.”

A puzzled frown crossed her face. She wasn’t expecting anyone and couldn’t fathom who would be here for her. “Who is it?”

Tyler shrugged. “Don’t know, but he said it was urgent and would only take a moment.”

“Hm.” Emily stood and went to her father’s office. She opened the door and found a man standing by her father’s desk. “Can I help you?” she asked.

“Hello, Emily.” He walked toward her with his hand held out.

“I’m sorry, do I know you?” she asked, folding her arms against her chest.

“Not yet, but we’re about to get very well acquainted.”

Emily took a step back. “Listen, we’re in the middle of a funeral. Whatever you have to say to me is nowhere near as important as that.”

“I think you’ll change your mind once you hear what I have to say.”

Emily tapped a finger against her arm, eyebrow raised. “Then say it so I can get back to my guests.”

“You need to come with me.”

“Excuse me?”

“The life of your daughter depends on it.”

Emily’s heart stopped and she dropped her arms to her sides. “What are you talking about? What have you done?”

“She is safe right now, but if you don’t come with me—quietly and willingly—then I can’t promise her fate.”

“Of course she’s safe,” Emily said with forced bravado. Sadie was still next door with Papa Joe, she had to be. He would have called her if Sadie was missing.

“No, that she isn’t.”

“Who are you?” Emily yelled.

“My name is Edward.”

“What do you want? How do I get Sadie back?”

“Come with me.”

Emily took a deep breath and nodded. “All right, I’ll come. What do I need? Money?”

“No.”

She followed Edward out of her father’s office, down the hall, and through the living room. She kept her eyes on his back, knowing if she caught anyone’s eye, she’d give up the charade and risk Sadie’s safety.

Scenarios flew through her mind, all bad. She tried to tamp down the panic that was threatening to take over. Her mind was so busy on the worst case thoughts that she almost missed Sadie’s giggle. But there it was, distinct and safe across the room.

She stopped in her tracks and quickly scanned the room. Her eyes almost immediately found Sadie, sitting on Jason’s lap. Her panic dropped a half level. But she was still scared. Right on the heels of “she’s safe” came “who is this man and why is he threatening us?”

She caught Jason’s eye for a second, and he must have sensed something was wrong because he handed Sadie off to Phoebe and started in her direction. She averted her gaze and caught up with Edward who was just opening the screen door.

When he cleared the threshold, Emily closed the screen door between them. “I don’t know what game you’re playing, but it ends now. If you show your face around here again, I’ll call the sheriff.”

Edward walked to the screen door and tried to open it. “Your daughter’s life is hanging in the balance, lady.”

“My daughter is safe and sound, this I know as fact. Get off my property.”

He opened his mouth as if to say something, but Jason arrived and stood like a sentry behind her.

“Problem?” he drawled.

“No, this man was just leaving.”

Rage burned in Edward’s eyes as he turned on his heel and left.

“Who was that?” Jason asked.

“I don’t know who he was,” she said, turning away from the door and moving into the living room. She scanned the room again, searching for Sadie. She needed, more than anything right now, to hold her baby girl. Who would threaten a baby?

She found Phoebe by Grace’s piano. Tyler was playing one of Grace’s favorite songs. Sadie was smiling, clapping, and dancing in Phoebe’s arms.

“Mama! Dance!”

Emily smiled, tears brimming in her eyes. The sudden release of adrenaline made her weepy and even more out of sorts than she already was.

“Why are you crying?” Jason asked.

She jumped, not realizing he’d followed her. “You know why I’m crying,” she said, keeping her face averted. She held out her hands and Sadie jumped into her arms. Emily buried her face in Sadie’s neck, breathing deeply of her baby scent. Thank God she was safe.

Jason took hold of Emily’s arm. Startled, she looked up and knew immediately that she’d given everything she was thinking and feeling away.

“What’s going on, Emily?”

“I don’t know!”

“Who was that man? What did he want?”

“Look, this isn’t the time or place.” She nodded toward Sadie.

“You’re scared. I can see it in your eyes!”

Emily sighed. She nodded toward the kitchen and handed Sadie back to Phoebe. Emily walked through the kitchen and out onto the back porch.

“I don’t know who he was. He said his name was Edward. He just showed up and told me to go with him because Sadie’s life was in danger. He wanted me to believe he’d kidnapped Sadie. And I was on my way to go with him when I heard Sadie giggling across the room.”

“And you didn’t think this was important to tell me? She’s my daughter, too.”

“I know that. But it was over, he left. And Sadie is fine.”

“But there was still a threat. A threat happened. One that you were gonna sacrifice yourself for.” He reached out and pulled her to his chest. “When are you gonna realize you don’t have to do this all alone?”

For a moment, she allowed herself to revel in the strength and comfort he offered. She’d missed this. She could admit it to herself. But never to him. She took a deep breath in, capturing his scent in her memory, and then stepped back.

“He said he’d hurt her. I couldn’t risk not going with him.”

Jason nodded. “Until we figure out who he is and what he wants, Sadie can’t be left alone.”

“Jason, she’s eighteen months old. She can’t be left alone anyway.” She smiled to take the sting out of her words.

“Right.” He grinned. “You shouldn’t be alone either. It’s obvious you were his main objective.”

She sighed. “Jason, I’ve told you. We,” she moved her finger between them, “aren’t a thing. Don’t try to use this as some way to slither your way back into my good graces.”

He stiffened. Hurt and anger flashed in his eyes. She immediately regretted her words.

He turned and started walking away from her. “I need some air. Tell Sadie I’ll be back in a little bit.”

Emily reached out a hand. “I’m sorry,” she said softly.

Turning, he glared at her. “Excuse me for still caring about you. But hey, you’ve proved just how independent you are. I get it. You don’t trust me. You don’t need me.” He turned his back on her. “Do what you want. You’ve been doing that all along, anyway. Why stop now?” With that stinging barb, he stalked off.

You can purchase Heather’s book by following the links below

Amazon Author Page: : http://author.to/AuthorHeatherMcCoubrey

http://myBook.to/EmilysChoice

To connect with Heather follow the links below.

My Blog: Romantic Escapes (http://heathermccoubrey.com)

Twitter: @h_mccoubrey (https://twitter.com/h_mccoubrey)
Facebook: Author Heather McCoubrey (https://www.facebook.com/AuthorHeatherMcCoubrey/)
Goodreads: Heather McCoubrey (https://www.goodreads.com/heathermccoubrey)
Amazon: Author.to/AuthorHeatherMcCoubrey

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/hmccoubrey/

Google+: google.com/+HeatherMcCoubrey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Meeting Amy Lynch

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I love featuring other authors on my blog and today I’m thrilled to welcome the lovely Amy Lynch, whose debut novel titled of ‘A Bride Without a Groom’ is now available from Amazon and bookshops.

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Amy is here to tell us why she feels books need to have that all important X factor.

Why books need to have that all important X Factor                           

Amy Lynch

OK, so you’ve all seen the X Factor, right? You know the drill – a panel of judges decides the fate of the aspiring singers, pressing their buzzers if the act displeases them. Some competitors astound you, soaring through round after round, until they reach the climax of the glittering finale. And then there are the singers that are hopeless. I must admit, these are the ones I enjoy most. Why their nearest and dearest didn’t take these delusional, tone deaf, cringe-worthy people aside and say ‘listen, love, you can’t sing, OK? Try knitting. Or flower arranging. Anything but singing.’ is beyond me. And one thing is sure – you can always count on it that someone will murder a ‘Whitney Houston’ classic.

Well, writing is a bit like the X Factor. A couple of years ago, I decided that I was going to take my writing seriously, and not just mutter that it was ‘just a little hobby’ when friends would enquire as to how it was going. The next time someone at a dinner party asked me ‘so, what do you do?’ I wanted to proudly declare that I am an author. However, there was one thing continually getting between me and my place on the bestseller’s list: rejection. I was becoming accustomed to the dreaded buzzer.

A bit like an audition, you only get one shot with a publisher. A friend gave me some advice that has always stuck with me. ‘Imagine presenting your work to a panel of stern faced judges,’ she said. ‘Try and get as far into your performance without them pressing the buzzer.’ It was a terrifying thought, but a clever one. You see, if a publisher doesn’t immediately like your work, he or she will press the proverbial buzzer and say “next!”

Just like the X Factor, publishers are looking for something that little bit special. Singers are judged on whether they are commercial enough, hard-working, different from the rest, talented, and likely to sell millions of records. And so it is for authors – if they appear not to have these qualities within the first thirty seconds of reading their work, they are buzzed, and must leave the stage, dejected.

I started to see my work through new eyes, and determine where I was going off-course. The exciting, funny bits of the novel were in the middle of the manuscript, not slap bang wallop on the front page where they should be. There was no page-turning, un-put-downable hook in my first paragraph, the reader would have to dig through mediocre rubble until she found the golden nuggets buried in the center. And let’s be truthful – most of us (me included) are fickle. We get bored if the beginning of a book is not living up to our expectations, cast it aside, and read something else. It’s only the hard-core among us that will stick it out, hoping that a book improves are they plough faithfully on.

So, I did what needed to be done. At first, my manuscript resembled Frankenstein’s monster, all hacked and sewn back together. But it didn’t matter; it would be stronger after undergoing the necessary surgery. It would be sturdier, sleeker, a new generation. The dilemma of the book was brought forward to the prologue. The punchlines were made punchier. The synopsis teased, promising all kinds of hilarity and intrigue.

When I stepped back from the operating table, I took a fresh look. The manuscript was now something to be proud if. More importantly, it was less likely to get buzzed, and stood a better chance of holding its head high on the stage. So, I did what all writers do – I picked myself up, and tried again. Before I knew it, I had passed the first major hurdle: an actual, real-life literary agent had contacted me to say that he loved the first three chapters, and was wondering if I could possibly send him the rest of the manuscript. On average, he rejects ninety nine manuscript submissions and accepts one. Cue deep breathing into my paper bag, and a frantic telephone call to my husband who has backed my obsessive dream since day one.

With a contract signed, our next objective was to pitch publishers in the saturated genre of commercial fiction. A few months later, Avon (a division of Harper Collins) expressed interest. With the contract signed, the new book cover revealed, and a London lunch-date with my darling of an editor set up, I’m starting to feel like one of those smug finalists on the X Factor. But don’t worry, I promise not to sing Whitney Houston.

You can purchase ‘A Bride without a Groom’ here 

You can contact Amy at her twitter page here

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hello to Jo Lambert.

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Jo is a fellow author and friend. I’m delighted to welcome her to my blog to tell us all about her writing day and of course about her new book.

So without further ado, let’s crack on. Over to you Jo …

A typical writing day for me starts with breakfast – cereal, fresh fruit and that much needed cup of coffee.  I then check up on social media to see who’s about and say good morning to the world.  As I love music when something  takes my fancy, I might check it out on YouTube and share with everyone.  Then I answer e-mails.  I have to confess to being totally dreadful at responding, a casualty of the ‘I’ll do that tomorrow’ syndrome.  If you are reading this I guess you’ve decided I look as if I’m a completely disorganised individual? But actually I’m not.  I spent most of my working life in office management and PA roles.  When it’s all about organising other people, you have to have structure – lists, diaries wall calendars – be one step ahead and ready for anything.  Now I’m a full time writer those same rules need to apply.

However, although I’m quite orderly, my writing style is a little less so. Once the characters are in place I work from an basic outline plot; something which allows me to cut out what doesn’t work and add in new ideas which crop up as I go along. It might seem a bit ‘seat of the pants’ but I like this flexibility and for me it works well.

I write from eleven to one, break for lunch and then for a couple more hours in the afternoon.  I don’t own a dog; if I did I think that would probably get me out for more walks.  However, I do feel the need for fresh air and getting away from the keyboard, so most afternoons I manage a walk, even if it’s down into the village or just around the block.  We’re right on the edge of the countryside here with plenty of different routes to take and views to die for.

After the evening meal I usually spend time going over what I’ve done that day and putting reminders in the diary for things I need to do the next day. Then after a final check on e-mails and social media it’s close down for some evening TV or reading.

Currently I’m on a one month break from all this. Summer Moved On has been published and I plan to begin writing the sequel, Watercolours in the Rain, in September.  This means my working day has changed somewhat as I’ve been using the time for much needed electronic housekeeping.  Sorting out old files, archiving, scribbling down ideas for Book 2 and getting the PC ready for September when the new project begins.  And the spare time has also allowed me to meet friends for lunch and catch up on news.

Oh and I’ve been reading too.  As a Brook Cottage Book Tour Host and Reviewer, August has also been a quiet month.  However, I have used the time to get some reading in for September when it everything starts up again.  Currently I have three reviews scheduled; two books read and am just about to start the last one.

This month has also given me time to set up a series of interviews on my blog for my weekly feature. Tuesday Talk is where I invite writers, bloggers, cover designers, editors – anyone with a connection to writing – to come and chat.  August has given me the opportunity to organise interview dates well into October.  The link is: www.jolamberetwriter.wordpress.com.  If you would like to come and sit in the big chair then please contact me at taurusgirl185@gmail.com

And if you’re interested in my books check out www.jolambertbooks.com for titles, sample chapters and reviews.

Thanks so much for joining me today, Jo. If you want to contact Jo, follow the links below.

googleplus: google.com/+JoLambert

twitter: @jolambertwriter

Facebook.com/joannalambert

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/jolambertwriter

Honouring Sue Guiney

My love for Cambodia is well-known by most of you who have read my blog.

My introduction to this beautiful country took place several years ago. I cannot wait to return.

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But not only did I meet the most wonderful people while there but I also made some brilliant new and talented friends.

One was an author by the name of Sue Guiney. I happened to pick up a copy of her book ‘A Clash of Innocents’ while browsing a book shelf in Siem Reap.. The book came back to England with me and I would read it in bed savouring the flavours and sounds of Cambodia through her beautiful and flowing words. I had to make contact with her, never realising that we would one day meet and become friends and that we would, sometime in the future, spend time together in the country that bonded us.

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Sue has gone on to do far more wonderful work in this beautiful country. I have nothing but the highest admiration for her.

So, less words from me and more from

Sue Guiney.

To Write or Not to Write…..

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 A lot can change in a year.

Early in 2014, I was grateful to be asked by Lynda to post something here about my latest novel, Out of the Ruins  http://www.wardwoodpublishing.co.uk/titles-fiction-sue-guiney-out-of-the-ruins.htm. Lynda and I have bonded over our shared love of Cambodia, and that novel is the second in my collection of books set in modern day Cambodia. Twelve months later, that book is out in the world, finding it’s readership, garnering (thankfully ) excellent reviews. But so much has happened since then….

For the past five years, I have been teaching a creative writing programme in one specific educational shelter in Siem Reap, Cambodia, called Anjali House http://anjali-house.com . Last June, I decided to turn my little programme into a full-fledged NGO and allow it to become part of the curriculum in a growing group of schools throughout the country. That programme is now called, Writing Through http://writingthroughcambodia.com and in less than a year I have launched it in over ten different NGO’s, shepherded it into remote areas of the country, and trained a host of volunteers to run the workshops for me — surprisingly enough, it seems I can’t be everywhere at all times. But making all this happen, allowing all this to happen, was a huge decision for me. It meant more travel, more time, more speaking engagements, more teaching, more organising. And less writing. Gulp. What about my next novel, the third in my Cambodia collection? I already had the idea, and my characters (not to mention my readers and my publisher) were waiting. And what about the poetry collection I had started working on? I’m already half-way done, but there’s still a long way to go.

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Running the workshops and setting up Writing Through is some of the most important and rewarding work I have ever done. And the most surprising. Never would I have dreamt that I could be spending so much time so far away. Never did I ever imagine that I would be learning to speak Cambodian. Never had I hoped that I could ever make such an impact on the education of such a far-away place, and such a different one from where I had grown up. And yet it was all happening. Writing Through takes the English language and teaches its students, through the writing of poems and stories, how to think conceptually, how to discover what they think about their world, and to find the courage to stand up and announce their presence. Language fluency, conceptual thought, self – esteem — these are all, I believe, antidotes to poverty and the real meaning of ‘finding your voice.’ Via Writing Through, I am having an impact on the world that I never believed I could have. Isn’t that more important than writing my own books?

A friend of mine was helping me think my way through this process of change, and she asked me the question, ‘what if you stopped writing?’ My answer was clear. I started to cry at the thought of it. ‘Okay, then,’ she said. ‘Then what will it take for you to remember that you are a writer, even if you take time off from writing in order to launch your new NGO?’ Now, that was a different question and, again, the answer was clear. I closed my eyes and visualised the book shelf in my office where all my books sit. There are 3 published novels, 2 poetry collections, 5 anthologies and a host of magazines. They would still be there whether I was adding to them or not. They were there to show me that I could do it again, and I will, but perhaps, not just yet. Right now, perhaps, I had different fish to fry.

So over the past ten months, I have created something new. I have taken my place in a long history of writers who go on to create social programmes, to bring their visions of the world a bit closer to the reality of the world. I have expanded Writing Through to include adults at risk, as well as children at risk; to include teacher training; to spill over onto the borders of other SE Asian countries; to offer an opportunity for the more privileged to reach out to the less. But something strange has also happened. As soon as I gave myself permission not to write that new novel and those new poems — for now — I started to write, anyway. Like a little kid yelling, ‘you’re not the boss of me,’ I thumbed my nose at myself and somehow found time to write a few more poems and to start organising that latest novel. Writing, teaching, organising – it’s been quite a year. And I’ve never felt quite so alive.

The second of in the trilogy of Sue’s books based in Cambodia ‘Out of the Ruins’ is available on Amazon here and you can follow her work at

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tracie

Today I’m welcoming the author Tracie Banister onto my blog. Tracie is the author of ‘Twin Piques’

And, while Tracie is enjoying her time on my blog, I’m hogging hers. So do pop over and check it out. Once you’ve finished here, obviously. Just click the link Tracie below.

Tracie

An avid reader and writer, Tracie Banister has been scribbling stories since she was a child, most of them featuring feisty heroines with complicated love lives like her favorite fictional protagonist Scarlett O’Hara.

Twin Piques is her third Chick Lit release. The pet psychic character in this novel was inspired by Tracie’s rascally rescue dogs. She’d love to know what goes on in their heads!

So, I’ve plied Tracie with champagne and cupcakes (oh yes I know how to conduct an interview) and have now released her from the green room. Hopefully she will talk a great deal of sense whereas most of the time I don’t. So let’s crack on.

Welcome Tracie. Can you tell us about your latest novel? Does the title come first? Or is it characters, or plot? And if title do you always manage to keep to the one you choose?

My new novel, Twin Piques, chronicles a critical few months in the lives of sisters Sloane and Willa Tobin. They’re identical twins, but polar opposites in every way. Sloane’s a hyper-intelligent, sharp-tongued forensic accountant who’s focused on getting a promotion at work while Willa is a sweet, kooky pet psychic who’s on a search for true love. How the two of them help (and sometimes hinder) each other from reaching their goals and finding happiness is the core of the story. There’s comedy, romance, cute guys, and even cuter dogs in Twin Piques!

Characters/plot always come before titles for me, but I don’t start writing a book without at least a placeholder title. The working title for Twin Piques was Rhyme and Reason, which was a shout-out to the twin princesses in one of my favorite reads from childhood, The Phantom Tollbooth. Somewhere along the way, my friend, author Jackie Bouchard, suggested the title Twin Piques and I thought it was so clever that I decided to make the change. The only other time I changed a title was after finishing my first book, Blame It On the Fame, which had a working title of And the Winner Is . . .

 What made you choose romantic comedy as your chosen genre?

My two favorite elements in fiction have always been humor and romance. Combine the two and you get Romantic Comedy! I love reading the genre because it’s so fast-paced, uplifting, and entertaining, so I naturally gravitated toward it when I decided to start writing novels myself. Romantic Comedy is great escapism, not just for readers but for writers as well!

Do you use beta readers to test their reactions?

Absolutely. They’re always a big help with catching little things I miss, like typos, continuity errors, or bits that might need clarification. Fortunately, I’ve never had to make any huge edits to a book based on my beta reader feedback.

 Is there any subject matter you’d shy away from?

I like to make people laugh, so you’ll never find anything heavy or depressing in my books (no illnesses, deaths, or catastrophes the characters can’t recover from). When I do touch on a serious subject, I always do it with humor.

Something else you won’t find in my books is super graphic, 50 Shades-style sex scenes. Things might get a little steamy for my characters once in a while, but nothing beyond that.

Do you get a lot of feedback from readers?

Thanks to social media, I get lovely comments from readers all the time. It always makes my day to hear that someone enjoyed one of my books! And it’s fun when they tell me what their favorite moments in the book were, or ask questions about the characters and storylines.

What approach do you use in marketing your books?

I’m big on social media – Twitter, Facebook, my blog. Writers and readers get to know me there then they check out my books. I’m really not much of a salesperson/marketer; I just like connecting with people who share my interests. I think it’s really important to establish good relationships with book bloggers who will review your work and feature it on their blogs, thus exposing it to their followers. When I do a promotion, I try to do fun giveaways that invite reader participation and tie into my book(s). For instance, when I recently participated in a Facebook party with several other authors who had new releases, I did a twins trivia game during my hour, posting pictures and asking questions about twins in books, movies, and TV. It was a blast, and I met a lot of new people through the party/game.

 

Do you write full-time, or have you got another job as well?

Right now, writing is my only job, but I wouldn’t say that I do it “full-time.” More like five or six hours a day.

What’s the best thing that’s happened in your writing career so far?

For me, it’s just a continual thrill that people are reading, enjoying, and commenting on my work. I love getting positive feedback and knowing that I’ve touched a chord in someone.

If you could have one writing-related wish, what would it be?

I could die happy if one of my stories was turned into a movie, big screen or television I don’t care. I’d just love to see a book of mine brought to life in a visual medium. Call me, Hallmark Channel! 😉

What is your advice to a writer who wants to self publish?

Make sure you’ve got a polished, professional-looking product before publishing. Invest money in a cover artist, have the book proofread by several people and do several rounds of edits until you’re sure your book is the best it can possibly be, write a snappy blurb, and build buzz for your book via social media and your blog in the months and weeks leading up to your release. Also, and this is really important, have realistic expectations about your book. Finding readers takes a lot of time and effort. It’s a marathon, not a race! So, don’t get discouraged if you don’t sell a zillion books and hit the bestsellers’ list right out of the gate. That rarely happens. Just hang in there, keep writing, and doing everything you can to spread the word about your books and you will eventually see results.

Thanks so much Tracie for popping in. I wish you’d left a little bit of champagne but never mind …

 Thanks so much for having me on your blog today, Lynda! It’s been a pleasure. I invite your followers to connect me with on social media, where I spend way too much time! 🙂

You can contact Tracie by going to any of the following.

Buy Twin Piques (Amazon US):  

Social Networking Links

Blog:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/tracie.banister

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/traciebanister

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/tlbani

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5448518.Tracie_Banister

Today I’m thrilled to feature on my blog one of my fave authors, Jon Rance. I’ve loved all Jon’s books. His latest is most certainly my favourite and I cannot wait for his new one. Today Jon and I are hijacking each other’s blogs. You can read my guest post on Jon’s blog which is about my own experience on a boat, which differs very much from my character Poppy’s experience in ‘Fudge Berries and Frog’s Knickers.’

Here Jon talks about his own experiences as a parent and what Family Life has been like for him.

Thanks Jon, so much for coming on my blog today. I’m sorry I didn’t have cakes and tea when you arrived and I don’t even have children as an excuse. I’m simply rubbish, where you are the best. So, let’s crack on. Here is Jon Rance who you can contact via his website  www.jonrance.com or on Twitter  @jrance75. I know he would love to hear from you.

BeFunky_NEW-JACKET-FOR-AMAZON jpg

My Family Life by Jon Rance
 
My third novel, ‘This Family Life’ is about one man’s struggle to survive the first year of parenthood. It’s a comedy about many things (parents, children, family, work, love, and what it means to be a parent), but essentially it’s a story about survival.
 
As I’m sure all parents will know, the first year of parenthood is all about survival. It really is. You have no idea what it’s like, what to do, and so many other questions while you’re tired, disoriented, and completely terrified. I went through this twice. Admittedly, it was much harder the first time, but with both of our children, there’s differences and elements of the new. It’s scary. Really scary. I can’t even tell you how many times over the last five years I’ve thought…WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING?! I suspect that will continue for the next five years and beyond.
 
It has become easier though. Slightly. I’m not terrified quite so often and quite so much and I feel like I have a better idea of what I’m doing. My wife and I reached a place where we were like, “yeah, we can do this”. So what did we do? We moved from San Diego, California to Brighton and Hove, England. We went from the safe and secure life we’d created to the complete unknown. With two kids. Without the safety net of jobs and family nearby, we took the plunge. You’re probably thinking why and trust me, I’ve had the same thought myself many times since the big move.
 
But here’s the thing. It’s like becoming new parents. You’re putting yourself out there. You’re doing something terrifying, scary, and completely new…but, it’s the most amazing, life changing thing you will ever do. Moving country and starting a new life has been really difficult, but like writing ‘This Family Life’ it’s about finding the humour in the everyday because no matter how difficult something is, there’s always room for a laugh.
 
Here’s the blurb for ‘This Family Life’ and as it says, it’s the ultimate comedy for anybody who is a parent, has a parent, or is thinking about becoming one. I’d also like to add, for anyone thinking about moving countries.
 
Things that might happen during your first year of parenthood:
 
1. You’ll get covered in a ‘nuclear’ poo.
2. You’ll be convinced your son is talking with a Japanese accent.
3. You’ll worry that when your son waves, it looks like a Nazi salute.
 
Of course, this might just be Harry Spencer.
 
Taking up where ‘This Thirtysomething Life’ left off, Harry Spencer and is wife Emily are back and trying to survive their first year of parenthood. It has its ups and downs (and a few bits in the middle), but along the way they begin to understand the true meaning of family and what it takes to be a parent.
 
Featuring a hilarious cast of extras including Harry’s father-in-law Derek, who has a unique problem with Scotch, Steve and Fiona, the parents from children’s entertainment hell, and a yoga instructor with a prominent camel-toe, ‘This Family Life’ is the ultimate comedy for anyone who is a parent, has a parent, or is thinking about becoming one.
You can purchase this fab book on Amazon here BeFunky_NEW-JACKET-FOR-AMAZON jpg
 
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