Tag Archives: Interview

An Interview and a Question: What Does it Take to Make You Feel Like an Author?


strange thing 2

A strange thing happened on the way to the blog.  I received an email out of the blue from someone I’ve never heard of.  That’s not so strange in itself; I get enough spam to feed a spambot until it vomits flowery poetry.

 

What was strange is that it was a request for an interview.  This wasn’t the usual, “Let’s fill out interview questions and share them on each other’s blogs to cross promote ourselves,” interview request.  This was a straight up, “I want to interview you.”

It surprised me.  The first thing I did was check the email address it came from.  It looked legitimate.  Then I skimmed (that’s what my eleven year old called it) her online.  I Googled, found and checked profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn, investigating if the person looks legitimate.  She looked legitimate.

uh oh

 

It was time for the, “Oh, uh, wow?” moment.  Me?  Why me?  Out of all the authors out there?

Now I had to know.  I’m not a cat, so hopefully curiosity won’t bring me to my swift demise.

I asked others on one of the author groups what they thought.

I contacted the young lady requesting the interview to ask those two big questions: Why me? – and – How did you happen to find me?

Honestly, I didn’t think I would be all that findable without specifically looking for me.

Her answers were simple.  I’m an author and she got my information from the local writers’ guild, which I’m a member of.

 

terrorThen I had a moment of terror.  I’ve never had a real interview.  I almost did once on a blog radio show, but it fell through due to technical issues.  We, the interviewers and my fellow intervewee, spanned states and countries.  Something went wrong and we couldn’t call in.  The blog show failed after too, so there was no redo.

Why does that even matter?  Because, I was in very near to a state of panic.  An actual talking interview with people I have to answer on the spot.  I can’t come back hours later when I think of something that I think sounds clever.

And now I’m panicking again at the thought of a face-to-face interview.  I would have to try to be clever on the spot.  I can’t do that.  I can write, the words coming effortlessly and fluidly, and sounding marvelous.  I can’t bloody talk.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I sound like a complete moron when I talk.  The words in my head just don’t come out the same way through my mouth.  My brain freezes, I jumble, stumble, and stutter.  I couldn’t do a speech with my eyes glued to the cue cards I’m reading mechanically from.

 

leave your comfort zoneTo truly live, you have to step out of your safety zone.  I decided to swallow my anxiety and give it the old college try.

It made it easier that I wasn’t doing it for myself.  I can’t count the times I opted not to do something because it was just for me.  I’m not used to doing things just for me.

The young woman interviewing me is from McMaster University. She won funding for a research project exploring the connection between Canadian literature and identity.  I was a stop on her trek across Canada interviewing authors about their craft and sense of identity as Canadians.

I went to the interview hoping that I would be of help, but still with that nagging doubt pulling on me like a toddler sized imp trying to whisper in my ear, “Why you?”

I survived the interview and she didn’t look ill listening to my jabbering.  I have to say, the best part of the interview was the end when I gave her a copy of my latest published book, The McAllister Farm.  She was actually excited I gave it to her.
impAfter the interview, that same nasty little imp kept tugging on my shirt hem and whispering my doubts.  Why me?  There are a lot of authors out there, ones people actually heard of and know; authors who sold a lot book books and made bestseller lists, and everything.  Telling me, “You don’t even feel like a real author.”

 

magic quill

What does it take to make you feel like an author?  Of course, the simplest answer should be, “You wrote a book,” or, “You published a book.”  If only life were so simple for everyone.

 

In all the years I spent writing, I’ve always had that nagging doubt.  I’m nobody.  Unknown.  Just some person with a story in her head (okay many stories) that need to get out.  I’m not James Patterson or Stephen King.  I don’t go by the moniker Dean Koontz or any other name anyone would recognize and say, “Hey, that’s an author!”

I always had the doubt, expecting anyone at any time to say I’m wasting my time, I’m not a “real” author, or that my writing stinks like the rancid breath of the partially desiccated reanimated corpse of a komodo dragon with a dead skunk stuck in its mouth.

Even after my first book, Where the Bodies Are, was published, doubts remain.  It’s only one book, after all.  But, it can’t be all that bad if someone else found it worthy of publication, right?  I still didn’t feel like a “real” author; which is probably odd, since I would without question think of anyone else who published a single book as a “real” author.

Now I have a couple of books published, with Indigo Sea Press picking up not only Where the Bodies Are, but also my latest book, The McAllister Farm.

With published books I now have to count on more than one finger, I still don’t feel authorey; and yes, I did just make up that word.

 

intangible personTo me, an author has always been that intangible person on the other side of the book.  The magic behind the story.  Funny, I don’t look or feel magic.  Not mystical in any way.  I’m just me.

If I had ten published books, I would probably feel the same way.  I’m just me.  Someone asked me to autograph my book she bought and it felt really weird.  I very recently sold a few books to a few people I know and they asked me to sign them.  It felt just as strange, awkward really, in a, “This is a joke, right?” kind of way.  And these were all people I’ve known for years.  I might get sucked into an abyss of weirdness in the floor if an actual stranger wanted me to sign a book.

I’m not sure what it will take before I feel like a “real author”.  At what point this will happen, if ever.

I asked my eleven year old what would make her feel like a “real author”.  Her answer: “If my books sold; lots.  A lot of them.”

I asked my thirteen year old the same question. Her answer: “When a lot of people buy my books and are asking for them, and when I’m making a good profit.  And, when I’m a New York Times bestseller, because all my books are New York Times bestsellers.”

pose question.jpg

I pose the question to you, and this is all about YOU, not for you to try to convince me that I’m a “real” author.

 

Authors: What made or would make you feel like a “real author”?

Readers: What defines a “real author” for you, as opposed to thinking, “Yeah, whatever, so you wrote a book, but you aren’t a real author”?

 

Let the game begin.

 

Can you handle a little darkness?

L.V. Gaudet is the author of the McAllister Series.

Tormented by his inability to stop killing, the killer is taunted by his need to find the one thing he must find …

where the bodies are

Learn the secret … behind the bodies and how the man who created the killer became who he is …

McAllister Farm cover 052316_edited-1 - front cover.jpg

The third book will bring these two stories together for a dramatic climax… but no story truly ends.

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Interview With Sherrie Hansen, Author of Merry Go Round

1. What is your book about?

Merry Go Round is about Tracy Jones Tomlinson, the youngest of three sisters in my Maple Valley trilogy. Tracy married her childhood sweetheart, is a minister’s wife, and has three lovely children. In the first two books, Rachael and Michelle’s mother brags about how perfect Tracy and her husband are. “Why can’t you be more like Tracy? Tracy never gives me this kind of trouble…” When Merry Go Round opens, it quickly becomes apparent that Tracy’s supposedly perfect life is anything but. When her husband leaves her for another man and she’s faced with moving out of the parsonage, she has no where to turn for help but to her older sisters. Rachael, her oldest sister, from Stormy Weather, is none too eager to help, and frankly, feels that it’s about time that Tracy gets hers. Tender-hearted Michelle, from Water Lily, wants to help however she can and offers Tracy a job painting and wallpapering the home of Barclay Alexander III, the owner of the house she’s decorating. Between Barclay’s critical parents, Tracy’s three kids, and a town full of people who are depending on Barclay to keep Elk Creek Woolen Mill open despite his father’s insistence that the factory be closed, there are all kinds of ups and downs in this story. The extreme changes occurring in Tracy’s life make her feel like things are spinning out of control and that all she can do is hang on for dear life.

2. How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

I think I wrote the book very shortly after the idea first came to me.

3. What inspired you to write this particular story?

I guess on some level, I’m like Rachael, Tracy’s oldest sister – I thought it was time for Tracy to “get hers”, to have to deal with her pride issues and becomes a real person instead of a perfect, plastic, Barbie doll character. People who have been humbled a little are so much more loveable.

4. How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

In a long ago life in a different place and time, I loved a man who turned out to be gay. I remember how it felt, and how hard it was to move on after I found out. I do need to add a disclaimer at this point, however. Like Trevor, Tracy’s husband, who is gay, my husband of seven years is a pastor. He is definitely not gay! The first draft of this book was written before I even met Mark and became a pastor’s wife. I think of all the sisters in my Maple Valley trilogy, I am least like Tracy. Maybe that’s why she was so fun to write!

5. Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

I love this book because it has several scenes that involve all three sisters from the Maple Valley trilogy, together in the same room, duking it out. I loved writing Rachael in this book because she gets to say things to her sisters that I never would. She’s very gutsy, and totally justified. I love it!

6. Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

Barclay (Clay) Alexander III is very unlike my other heroes in that he is wealthy, and has a very distinctive plot line and character arc of his own. He’s trying to do the right thing by several different people, and try as he might, he can’t please everyone… anyone, or so it seems for a time. Clay is falling in love with the wrong woman, but she is so right for him that it is painful. He has the weight of the whole town of Maple Valley on his shoulders. When he finally gives in to his feelings for Tracy and lets himself indulge in a bit of selfish pleasure, the results are devastating. I have a lot of respect for Barclay and hope my readers feel the same although he is a much more complicated hero than most.

7. How long did it take you to write your book?

I wrote the rough draft of Merry Go Round several years ago in about six months time, tabled the project for years, and then spent the last year re-writing and editing the book.

8. How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

I always have a specific framework in mind, but the characters and plot details evolve and grow as the book progresses.

9. Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

I interview people when needed and look up details about places on the internet, visiting in person when I can.

10. How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

I think my characters have very distinctive personalities, and in Merry Go Round, the differences in the sisters is very apparent when they’re all in the same scene, interacting with one another. I try to get into their heads and consistently think and act like they would.

11. Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

I pick my husband’s brain occasionally and I constantly ask the question, “What if…?”

12. How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

I have no idea! I just seem to know.

13. What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

A song we used to sing in my adult Sunday School class in Colorado Springs comes to mind… “Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up…” I think when we are prideful, and refuse to let people see our imperfections and idiosyncrasies, we make it very hard for people to know and love us. It’s our humanness that makes us loveable. When Tracy finally lets down her defenses, drops her perfect life facade, and lets people glimpse a little of what she’d been going through, she is lifted up and at long last, truly loved for exactly who she is.

14. Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

The subject of homosexuality and the church, nature or nurture, sin or not sin, etc. is a touchy issue for many right now. I tried very hard NOT to let this book become a forum for my beliefs and thoughts on the issue, but to accurately reflect the feelings, emotions and conflicts my characters go through as they struggle through the implications of Trevor admitting he is gay, and dealing with the ramifications to his children, extended family, and church. I have been told by my advance readers, whose opinions on the subject probably vary from mine, that I was successful — that they finished the book not knowing what I, the author, thought about the subject. I took that as high praise and hope other readers agree.

15. What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

The only struggle I seem to face with my writing these days is finding enough hours in the day to sit down and write. I own and operate a bed and breakfast and tea house and am a pastor’s wife. I maintain four houses. It’s a good, but very busy life, and when the day is done, I am often too exhausted to think.

16. Do you think writing this book changed your life? How so?

I think each book that I’ve written has changed my life. I remember an episode of Star Trek, Next Generation, when Jean Luc Picard was swept away to live out his life on another planet. He eventually fell in love, married, had children, and learned to play a musical instrument. When his new world came to an end, he learned that he had never left the Enterprise, and that the whole alternate life experience had occurred only in his mind, in a few days time. I feel like that every time I finish a book. It’s like I’ve visited some alternate reality and lived the life of my character from start to finish, feeling what they feel and experiencing what they experience, when in reality, I’ve just been sitting at my desk, typing away. In a very real way, I think each book makes me a richer, more multi-faceted, more understanding person because when I’ve walked a mile (or a hundred) in my character’s shoes.

17. What has changed for you personally since you wrote your first book?

When I first started writing, I was single and had been for almost 20 years. My life changed dramatically when I met my husband and remarried (in a good way, but still… it was a big adjustment!)

18. How has your background influenced your writing? How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

I was raised in a very conservative Christian home. My upbringing and personal beliefs color everything I do and think. I have lived in many parts of the world, known many people and experienced many things. My writing is filtered through each of the things that have made me the person I am. Although my books do not fit into the Inspirational Fiction category because they contain some adult scenes, they definitely have a Christian world view which includes characters honestly struggling through issues of faith. The mistakes I’ve made and life lessons I’ve learned over the years have become fodder for many interesting characters and scenarios in my books.

***

Click here to read an excerpt from: Merry Go Round

Click here to read first chapter of: Merry Go Round

Click here to buy: Merry Go Round

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Interview with Michael Murphy, Author of Scorpion Bay

Tell us a little about your main characters in Scorpion Bay. Who was your favorite?

Handsome and popular newscaster, Parker Knight is a rising star at a Phoenix television station. Just don’t call him “pretty boy.” His life is shattered in the opening chapter when his wife, a prosecuting attorney, is killed in a car bombing. When authorities seem unwilling or unable to pursue the most obvious lead, Parker uses his investigative newscaster skills and his background in the military Special Forces to go after the man he thinks is responsible for his wife’s murder. Parker is driven by the sudden loss of his wife. In spite of his quest for revenge, he vows not endanger the lives of his friends, but before his wife’s murder is solved, he learns he needs friends more than ever.

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

This is an easy one; definitely Tina Banks. Author Alisha Paige recently mentioned during Academy Award time that if there were Oscars for literature, Tina would win best supporting actor in a novel. Tina “steals” every scene she’s in. She is the most interesting character in any of my seven novels, like an onion, she has many layers.

At the start of Scorpion Bay, the best friend Justin has a new girlfriend, Tina Banks. Tina enjoys being the center of attention is of the high maintenance category of girlfriend and prone to say and do the outrageous such as keeping a pet boa constrictor in her apartment. But Tina is also funny, gorgeous, and a deeply caring person, and Tina knows what she wants out of life. Parker and Justin would not have survived their numerous scrapes without Tina being there to help, especially at the end of the novel when their lives are in danger.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

Since I write mystery/suspense novels, I’m always researching police procedures, and the latest in forensic medicine. I did so for Scorpion Bay, including taking an eleven week citizens police academy that allowed me to drive a police vehicle, shoot weapons officers use and see the inside of a jail, which fortunately I’d never seen before. My main character is Parker Knight, a Phoenix newscaster. A local television station was very generous in showing me how newscasts are made. I hope the authenticity shows through in Scorpion Bay.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

I write mostly mystery/suspense novels, so it’s fast paced with twists that will surprise readers, but my style of writing includes splashes of humor. The writer who has influenced me the most is Nelson DeMille, a great writer of thrillers and suspense, yet there are always laugh out loud moments in his books. I strive to do the same and in Scorpion Bay a tale that deals with murder, revenge and a desperate quest for justice, I think I’ve found moments that will make my readers laugh. At least I hope so.

How has your background influenced your writing?

I’ve always been an avid reader. I read Gone with the Wind when I was nine, all 1,027 pages. Guess I was a geek even back then, but reading novels has always been important in my life. Writing them, especially the kind I enjoy the most, mystery/suspense with a touch of humor, seemed like a logical thing to do.

Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?

Surprisingly, my audience consists of an equal number of women as well as men. The male audience likes the suspense, danger and humor, while women seem to enjoy the surprising touches of romance and tender interactions between characters that doesn’t always occur in mystery and suspense novels.

Do you have a favorite snack food or favorite beverage that you enjoy while you write?

I allow myself one Diet Rockstar per day whenever I write. And on days that I don’t write, I usually sneak one anyway. I think I’m addicted.

What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?

The most important thing I’ve learned about novel writing, is how much rewriting is involved. Learning this has made writing easier. Now when I write a first draft, I don’t worry about the details. I focus on characters and plot. When I’ve completed the first draft, it’s like an artist sketching an outline on a canvas. I go back repeatedly and add color and depth to the manuscript.

I’ve also learned to give myself freedom to cultivate characters and relationships. Often I’ll find characters surprising me. This allows characters to grow and develop providing depth to characterization and scenes. In nearly every novel, I’ve had one-scene characters become so likeable that they just have to spend more time on the page.

What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?

Unlike most mystery/suspense novels, mine are primarily character driven. In Scorpion Bay for example, not everyone would react to the death of their spouse the way Parker Knight does. His reaction and love for his wife drives the story.

In my opinion a good story has conflict throughout and characters the reader will care about. I don’t believe the story, what happens to the characters is nearly as important has how these events impact the character’s lives, how they’ve evolved and grown, or in some instances, how they’ve stuck to their principles and are not changed by events in the story. An example of this type of story would be the movie High Noon.

What are you working on right now?

My current work in progress is a real departure for me. It’s a story about the Woodstock nation, as they are now and what it was like those three magical days in August of 1969. There’s plenty of humor and of course sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. Hey, it was the sixties!

Click here to read the first chapter of: Scorpion Bay

Click here to read an excerpt of: Scorpion Bay

Click here to buy: Scorpion Bay

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Interview With Mickey Hoffman, Author of School of Lies

What is your book about?

School of Lies is a funny mystery novel about a bunch of teachers who work in a dysfunctional, urban high school. The stressful environment is a perfect catalyst for the murder that takes place. My new book, Deadly Traffic takes a teacher out of her comfort zone into the word of human trafficking when female students disappear from campus.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

My MC is a Special Ed. teacher named Kendra Desola. She’s compulsive and overly inquisitive; every problem has to be examined and solved. She is devoted to her students but has learned the hard way that the best way to help them often involves breaking the rules. There’s a tension between her wanting to be a good role model and her willingness to lie when she thinks it’s useful. In Deadly Traffic, Kendra meets a young man, Win Ni (who my brother decided to call Win Ni the Pooh). Win has a good heart but he wants to be rich and is willing to do almost anything to achieve his goal. I wanted to make him a lot darker than he ended up because I became fond of him.

Who is your most unusual character?

I’d have to say most of them are unusual, but they’re true to form. The good characters I create are never all good and that bothers some people. Readers who aren’t familiar with what really goes on in public schools may think the teachers I portray are over the top. I’ve had people react in shock. They say, “A Vice Principal wouldn’t talk like that.” Oh, but they do, they do.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

For School of Lies I relied on my own experience moving through different schools. I mentally filed away what other teachers told me of their experiences as well. The book, in fact, started because some of my fellow teachers knew I liked to write and said, “You should really make a book about some of this stuff because no one would believe it.” For my second book, Deadly Traffic, I read several nonfiction books about modern slavery—in this country as well as overseas—and human trafficking, and visited many websites.

What was the first story you remember writing?

My family used to make up poems and stories in the car during road trips when I was very young and I’d try to contribute when my older brother would stop torturing me. Just kidding. I do recall writing a play in 9th grade with some friends about a super pigeon named Supersplatt.

What do you like to read?

I like mystery novels, fantasy and science fiction. I try to find mysteries with puzzles and with as little gore as possible. Some of my favorite writers are Elizabeth George, Ian Rankin and Tad Williams.

What writer influenced you the most?

Mark Twain. Absolutely.

What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?

Hitchhiker’ Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?

I want the main characters to have a “quest.” The quest can be a real journey or one in their heads and if there’s mystery involved all the better.

What is the best advice another writer gave you?

I asked how you tell when your manuscript is finished. The reply: “You don’t leave a book when it’s done, it leaves you.”

See also:

Mickey Mickey Hoffman’s author page at Second Wind Publishing, LLC
Interview of Kendra DeSola the Hero of School of Lies by Mickey Hoffman
The first chapter of School of Lies by Mickey Hoffman
Review of School of Lies by Mickey Hoffman

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WhoHub Interview with Claire Collins

Interview with:

Claire Collins [clairecollins]


WRITING

What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
My love of reading and writing began before I started elementary school. It’s always been a part of me. As an adult, I put that love aside for several years while I started my family. When the children got old enough, I once again turned some of my attention to writing.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
I don’t have a favorite genre to read or write. I read anything and everything. So far, I have written mostly romantic suspense novels because that’s been the mood I’ve been in lately. I also have ideas for straight suspense and a twist on the romance.
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
I don’t have much of a process. Whenever I can find some quiet free time, I tend to sit down, open a manuscript and start typing. The story evolves as I write. When I’m unable to sit and write, the details of the story are working their way through my mind while I’m driving, cleaning, shopping, or working.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
I don’t think reading inspires me to write. My brain is overactive and doesn’t seem to need a lot of stimulus to come up with an idea.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
Beginning, middle, and end. Strong plot and subplots. Likeable characters and realistic situations. The reader has to be involved in the story and they need to care about what happens and they should feel fulfilled at the conclusion.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
I’ve written in both. I don’t have a preference. It depends on what the story calls for.
What well known writers do you admire most?
Do they have to be well known? I admire anyone who has had the will and determination to create a quality novel-length manuscript whether they are famous or not.
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
Characters come in all shapes and sizes. They have every personality trait imaginable. Wow, so do real people. Just like real people, my characters have an entire life even though I may only tell the reader about a small piece of that life. They are born, have siblings and parents. They are creatures of their environment. They aren’t perfect and they don’t pretend to be. They are the same as normal people the reader knows. Mine start as a glimmer of a person and then they tell me their life story.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
Actually, I am horrible at telling stories in person. I talk too fast and blurt out too many clues or I skip too much. Writing it all out is so much better because I can edit myself before anyone else knows the story!
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
I write for myself. It feels good. It’s also a nice boost when readers come back and tell me they loved my books. There’s no other feeling in the world like that.
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
Writing is absolutely a form of personal therapy. Parts of my personal life are dispersed throughout the pages of my novels.
Does reader feed-back help you?
Of course! When someone reads the book and tells me they enjoyed it or if they ask what I have coming out next, I get a thrill.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
I have participated in the past and my first novel “Fate and Destiny” was chosen as an editor’s pick and made it to the top 25 semi-finals. I have also received excellent feedback from other contests.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
I have at least 4 people who always read my drafts as I write. They tell me what works, what doesn’t and always help me over the humps when I get stuck. These people are as valuable as the final readers.
Do you believe you have already found “your voice” or is that something one is always searching for?
I think my voice changes with every book. Each book is unique and my voice changes with the characters and plot.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
My life is too hectic and busy to impose schedules on myself. I fit writing in whenever I can.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
My work area changes with my mood. Sometimes I’m sitting at my desktop pc and other times I’m roaming around with my laptop.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
It’s all on the computer. I have a reader who prints everything off. With my first book, I printed it and marked it up with a red pen. With the second book, it was easier to edit on the computer.
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
I blog at http://clairecollins.wordpress.com/ and the authors from our publisher blog at https://secondwindpub.wordpress.com/. We are also on Facebook, myspace, Gather. etc.
What has been your experience with publishers?
I submitted a ton of queries and hunted for publishers before I was picked up by a small publisher called Second Wind Publishing. www.secondwindpublishing.com

My experience with my publisher has been fantastic. The people are great and I’ve watched the company grow. It’s an incredible journey.

What are you working on now?
My next novel is called “Seeds of September”

In 1956, Tommy Benson left the plains of Kansas for a new start in California. Little did he know when he started driving down Route 66 that his childhood friend Lainey had stowed away in his truck. Seeds of September relates the story of Tommy and Lainey’s life together through fifty years of joys and sorrows and an everlasting love.

What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
Take them out, dust them off, and read them. If you still love them, find someone else to read it. Submit it to contests and see what kind of feedback you get from an impartial audience.
If you don’t love them, either rewrite them or use them to inspire you to work on something new. Just don’t give up.

[clairecollins] Claire Collins

 

 
 
 
 

 

© Claire Collins
Web address for this interview: http://www.whohub.com/clairecollins

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Lazarus Barnhill Interviews Pat Bertram

Lazarus Barnhill: In December, I posted an article on this blog called “How to Tell if You’re a Writer.” If you can answer yes to three of the questions in that article, it means you’re a writer.

Pat Bertram: I don’t fit into any set definition of a writer. What does that make me? Is there a definition for one who has written and who will probably write again?

Lazarus: A whole bunch of the characteristics on that list must apply to you! Do you mind if I ask you the questions?

Bertram: No. Ask away.

Lazarus: Do you have the ability to tell what a character in a book, play, movie or TV program is going to say long before it’s actually said; or the ability to tell what’s going to happen to each character before the story is half-over; or the desire to rewrite the ending of the story before it’s over?

Bertram: I usually know early in a book what the ending will be, but that has nothing to do with being a writer and everything to do with being a reader. After having read more than 20,000 books, I seldom find a story or a twist that hasn’t been done before. That’s why when I write, I’m more interested in telling a good story than in trying to be original. As for the rest of your question: no, I never have any desire to rewrite the ending of a book. A book is complete in itself. I accept it as is, even if I hate it.

Lazarus: Does it irritate you that professional critics often don’t understand the most basic elements of the books, movies, plays or stories they are critiquing? 

Bertram: No. I don’t read critiques. And even if I did, it wouldn’t bother me if they didn’t understand the basic elements. Sometimes it seems as if the author doesn’t understand the basic elements.

Lazarus: When you sit down to write a story or to describe a character, does he or she take on a totally unexpected life or “say” something you never consciously intended?

Bertram: No. My characters never do anything I didn’t intend. They are my creations and are totally dependent on me for their very being. Sometimes the preponderance of information I have about them gives me only one way to make them act, but it’s never more than that.

Lazarus: Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you, his or her creator?

Bertram:  No. For me, story is sovereign. Everything must serve the story, and if the death of a favorite character will serve the story, then that’s the way it has to be.

Lazarus: Have you ever been unable to sleep because a character or story was creating itself in your mind; or awakened from sleep because a character or story needed your consciousness to develop itself; or stayed awake and focused for hours while you were driving, walking, run or pretending to work as a story wrote itself in your mind?

Bertram: No. When I lose sleep, it’s because of real life concerns, not bookish ones, though I have to admit, I have lost sleep trying to figure out how to promote my books.

Lazarus: Did you ever write or create a story and afterwards discover that it fit a genre you had never written in before; or created a character who was totally unlike anyone you had ever known, and yet was totally believable?

Bertram: I’m not sure that this question fits with what I write. Though they are being sold as mystery/crime, my books are basically genreless in that they encompass many genres — suspense, mystery, romance, thriller, bits of science fiction. And while my characters may not be like anyone I know in real life, they encompass bits of characters I have read in books or seen in movies. Is it possible to write a character totally from scratch? I don’t think so — everything we do and have ever done is part of us, and comes out in the work in some way or another. As for believable characters — that’s for readers to say, not me. (Even as a reader, I don’t really relate to characters. I relate more to stories.)

Lazarus: Do you consider the finished stories you have written to be creations you value somewhere between children and friends; yet do you yearn with each new story to “get it right this time?”

Bertram: I work on each book until I get it right; so no, I have no such yearnings. Each book is what I want it to be. As for my finished books being somewhere between children and friends — not really. More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire have been released, which means that they no longer belong to me, and I no longer feel a connection to them. Like all books, they now exist complete unto themselves.

Lazarus: Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?

Bertram: I do have a file, but it’s mostly ideas a friend suggested, and I don’t intend to write the books. Ideas come slowly to me. It’s a good thing, because I also write slowly. I can’t imagine writing a hundred books like some authors do.

Lazarus: Have you ever had the experienced of a family member, acquaintance or friend being totally amazed at the world you created in a story you wrote and then regarding you differently; and then did you feel as if you had “exposed” yourself?

Bertram: Since no family member has yet read one of my books, no. As for feeling exposed, I don’t know how I’ll feel. Actually, I do know – it won’t matter. As I said, I no longer see the books as having anything to do with me.

Lazarus: You didn’t answer “yes” to at least three of these questions; so according to this survey, you’re not a writer. But I know you are. There is another test. It’s been said that a writer writes; always. Do you?

Bertram: No, not at all. For me, writing is a choice, not something I am compelled to do. Right now, I am more interested in promoting my books, so that must mean I’m a promoter, not a writer.

Lazarus: Yet you now have two books published.

Bertram: There is that.

Lazarus: Next time, I’m going to ask you some tougher questions!  You handled these a bit too adroitly.

Lazarus Barnhill is the author of Lacey Took a Holiday and The Medicine People
Pat Bertram is the author of More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire
All four books are available from Second Wind Publishing, LLC

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What a Character

Have you ever had a character invade your mind? When you thought you were done with him, has he ever come back to haunt you, or to prove otherwise? It happened to me. When I began to write Nora’s Soul, the character of Dante was just a satellite character in my mind, a device to move the story forward. But he had other ideas and he just wouldn’t be silenced. He invaded my mind, took over my thoughts, and even tried to –

Dante: Stop, woman! You like to think you’re my creator, but we both know the truth of that, don’t we?
Margay: But I did create you.
Dante: Tell them how I came to you in a dream.
Margay: All right, so you came to me in a dream –
Dante: I love invading dreams. I don’t get to do it very often.
Margay: Can I tell the story?
Dante: Oh, yes. Please do.
Margay: Thank you. As I was about to say, it was one of the more vivid dreams I’d ever had, a fully realized scene of the two of us on the dance floor, dancing the night away.
Dante: I love dancing.
Margay: Dante, please.
Dante: Oh, sorry. Go on.
Margay: But you were something of a devil and that is how I first thought of you. But as the story came to develop, I realized that you were more of an angel, just a…misguided one. You’d lost your way somehow. You’ve been rather stingy on the details.
Dante: If I told you everything up front, what fun would that be?
Margay: Yes, I must admit it’s been more fun pulling the details out of you with a pair of tweezers. I just wish I didn’t have to go through Nora to get them.
Dante: Ah, yes, Nora. Sweet girl.
Margay: We’ve talked about this, Dante. You can’t have her. She’s not meant for you.
Dante: Can’t I have anyone? What kind of power do I have if I can’t take whomever I want?
Margay: Don’t forget free will. It’s all about free will. You see, they have to choose you. If they don’t choose you, you can’t have them.
Dante: I never did like free will. It’s always messing things up.
Margay: Dante, come on now. Maybe we should just talk about the book.
Dante: Yes, do that. Talk about the book.
Margay: At its core, Nora’s Soul is a story about one woman’s journey to rediscover her faith – in herself, in her beliefs, but along the way, she is challenged by two angels, one light and one dark. The light angel, Peter, wants to help her reconnect, but the dark angel, Dante, wants something entirely different. He wants her soul.
Dante: Nice summary.
Margay: Thanks.
Dante: I just hope you got the story right.
Margay: Well, I guess you’ll just have to wait until the release date to find out.
Dante: So you’re not even going to give me a little hint about how it turns out?
Margay: Nope. But if you go to my website http://margayleahjustice.com, you can read an excerpt.
Dante: And you thought I was the devil.
Margay: If you’re done, I’d like to regain some control over this article.
Dante: Oh. Sorry.
Margay: Right.

Well, there you have it. Character. You just never know when a character is going to invade your thoughts – or take them over completely and try to run your life.  But what are we without the characters that populate our books, our movies, our lives?

If you would like a chance to get to know Dante better, read about the havoc he wreaks in Nora’s Soul. He is quite a character. Hope you enjoy him as much as I do.

Margay Leah Justice is the author of Nora’s Soul from Second Wind Publishing, LLC. Now available on Amazon.com

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Interview with the Author

Interview with the Author

Interview used with the permission of Dante and the author.

Dante: I am here with the woman who likes to think she is my creator, but we both know the truth of that, don’t we, Margay?
Margay: Ah, excuse me, I did create you.
Dante: Isn’t it true that I came to you in a dream?
Margay: Actually, yes.
Dante: I love invading dreams. I don’t get to do it very often.
Margay: Can I tell the story?
Dante: Oh, yes. Please do.
Margay: Thank you. As I was about to say, it was one of the more vivid dreams I’d ever had, a fully realized scene of the two of us on the dance floor, dancing the night away.
Dante: I love dancing.
Margay: Dante, please.
Dante: Oh, sorry. Go on.
Margay: But you were something of a devil and that is how I first thought of you. But as the story came to develop, I realized that you were more of an angel, just a…misguided one. You’d lost your way somehow. You’ve been rather stingy on the details.
Dante: If I told you everything up front, what fun would that be?
Margay: Yes, I must admit it’s been more fun pulling the details out of you with a pair of tweezers. I just wish I didn’t have to go through Nora to get them.
Dante: Ah, yes, Nora. Sweet girl.
Margay: We’ve talked about this, Dante. You can’t have her. She’s not meant for you.
Dante: Can’t I have anyone? What kind of power do I have if I can’t take whomever I want?
Margay: Don’t forget free will. It’s all about free will. You see, they have to choose you. If they don’t choose you, you can’t have them.
Dante: I never did like free will. It’s always messing things up.
Margay: Dante, come on now. Maybe we should just talk about the book.
Dante: Yes, do that. Talk about the book.
Margay: At its core, Nora’s Soul is a story about one woman’s journey to rediscover her faith – in herself, in her beliefs, but along the way, she is challenged by two angels, one light and one dark. The light angel, Peter, wants to help her reconnect, but the dark angel, Dante, wants something entirely different. He wants her soul.
Dante: Nice summary.
Margay: Thanks.
Dante: I just hope you got the story right.
Margay: Well, I guess you’ll just have to wait until the release date to find out.
Dante: So you’re not even going to give me a little hint about how it turns out?
Margay: Nope. But if you go to my website http://margayleahjustice.com, you can read an excerpt.
Dante: And you thought I was the devil. Anything else you would like to say?
Margay: Yes. Nora’s Soul was published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC and will be available in November 2008.
Dante: Thank you for this interesting chat, Margay.
Margay: Yeah, it was…interesting. Thanks for staying in one place long enough to conduct it.

Nora’s Soul, by Margay Leah Justice, published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC, http://www.secondwindpublishing.com.

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An Interview with Dante

Bertram: Thank you for joining us today, Mr. Dante.

Dante: Just Dante.

Bertram: Okay. Dante. I’m pleased you consented to this interview. We are all interested in your story.

Dante: I am my story. I am the hero of every story.

Bertram: I’m not sure I understand. Let’s start with a simple question. Where you live?

Dante: I live everywhere.

Bertram: Everywhere? What are you, some kind of god?

Dante: I am immortal, but I take what I can, where I can, and live it up like a mortal. I control my own destiny. I am what I want to be.

Bertram: Aren’t you what Margay Leah Justice wants you to be?

Dante: She might think so. She’s made a good start, but there is so much about me that she doesn’t know, so much more that still I have to tell her. But I have every confidence that when I do, she will do a fine job of portraying me the way I want to be. She is such a stickler for accurate portrayals, after all. And she loves me. She just doesn’t know it yet. But I’m working on her. I’ve already convinced her to keep me around for a while.

Bertram: Do you love her?

Dante: I love only Lyric. She was all that mattered to me. My life was damned after I lost her. Now I live in the moment.

Bertram: Living in the moment must be adventurous.

Dante: My existence is an adventure.

Bertram: We don’t seem to be getting anywhere. Maybe it would be better if you just told me a little about yourself.

Dante: I like myself. I like everything about me. What’s not to love?

Bertram: Have you ever failed at anything?

Dante: Of course.

Bertram: Has anyone ever failed you?

Dante: I’d rather not get into that.

Bertram: Have you ever failed anyone?

Dante: You are obsessed with questions of failure. Why is that, I wonder?

Bertram: Perhaps if you’d just answer my questions we could get this interview over with. You don’t seem to be enjoying it any more than I am. And Margay promised you would cooperate.

Dante: It wasn’t for Margay to promise, but you’re right. Let’s get this over with. What do you want to know?

Bertram: Your achievements, fears, hopes, sadnesses, regrets, disappointments.

Dante: Those are all questions for mortals. I don’t bog myself down with petty human emotions. Disappointments? Not on my radar.

Bertram: What about favorites? Food? Drink? Music? Scent? Item of clothing. Prized possession? Favorite book?

Dante: I don’t need to eat or drink. I like classical music because it reminds me of heaven, and I love lavender because it reminds me of Lyric. I have no favorite clothes-they all look good on me. I don’t need possessions. And I have no time for reading. Anything else?

Bertram: You must do something. Do you have any special skills?

Dante: Oh, I am very skillful, but I don’t like to brag . . . Let’s just say the ladies love me.

Bertram: Do you have any distinguishing marks?

Dante: Careful. I think that could fall in the unmentionables category.

Bertram: Look. Just give me something, and I’ll tell Margay everything went fine.

Dante: Peter. I’ll give you Peter. He’s my only real problem. Why won’t he just step away and let me have a little fun, already? It’s a good thing I love to create conflict. And where better to be than right in the thick of it? Run from conflict? Ha!

Bertram: What is your most closely guarded secret?

Dante: If I told you, it would no longer be a secret. I’m no fool. But I’ll tell you one thing, life is made for living. Now I have to go see what I can do about stirring up a little conflict.

Bertram: Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to reading your story.

Dante: I’m sure that’s true. All you mortals want to live like me, you’re just too afraid to take the chance. So you’ll have to make do with the book. It will be availabe in November by Second Wind Publishing.

Norah’s Soul (Volume One in the Dante Chronicles) by Margay Leah Justice.

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Second Wind Interview with Dellani Oakes

Second Wind: I am joined today by Dellani Oakes, author of the historical romance novel, “Indian Summer” available through Second Wind Publishing.  Hello, Dellani, and welcome.

 

Dellani: Thank you.  I am delighted to be here.

 

SW: What inspired you to write this novel?

 

D: When I moved the Florida twenty years ago, I was overwhelmed by the wealth of history.  St. Augustine, as the oldest established city on the east coast, holds an extra special fascination for me.  I wanted to bring a bit of that history alive.

 

SW: Why the time period, 1739?  I’m guessing that’s significant.

 

D: Yes, it is.  There was a great deal of enmity between the Spanish and British in Europe and Florida gave them another venue in which to fight.  The British were constantly trying to take over the fort in St. Augustine, the Castillo de San Marcos.  In 1740, they very nearly succeeded. 

 

SW: Why all this fuss over Florida?  Grant you, it’s pretty country, but with the climate and the diseases

the mosquitoes carried, why would anyone want such an untamed place?

 

D: I asked that very question too.  What I found during my research was that St. Augustine was a strategic military position.  The Spanish were shipping their treasures from Mexico and Central America.  They used the trade routes along the Florida coast.  Those waters were full of pirates as well

as British warships.  Imagine what the British could have done to the Spanish trade routes if they controlled those waters instead?

 

SW: An interesting historical twist.

 

D: Yes, I think I just gave myself an idea for a new novel.

 

SW: Now that we’ve established a bit of the history, tell us about the story itself.  Was there really a Gabriella Deza daughter of the Spanish governor?

 

D: No, there wasn’t.  I tried very hard not to pattern her after a real person and did hours of research to find a name not common to the area.  If Gabriella resembles any historical person, it’s purely coincidental.

 

SW: Give us a brief synopsis of your story.

 

D: The story opens in the spring of 1739 and Gabriella is almost fifteen.  After an accident injures both Manuel, her father’s confidential aid, and Governor Deza, Gabriella is staying at the hospital to help care for them.  She overhears a conversation between two British spies.  They are talking about an attack on St. Augustine.

 

SW: What does she do?

 

D: She runs to tell her father, but he’s unconscious.  Instead, she goes to Manuel.  However, after a brief and very embarrassing conversation with him, it slips her mind.

 

SW: How could talking to Manuel make her forget something that important?

 

D: He is nearly naked, very handsome, well built and charming.  Keep in mind, she’s only fourteen and he is an older man. She’s so flattered that he has shown interest in her, she simply forgets.

 

SW: How much older is he?D: Manuel is twenty-one. 

 

SW: Isn’t that a little old for her?  She’s just a child.

 

D: Perhaps by today’s standards, but back then girls married young and their husbands were often even older than Manuel.  It wasn’t unusual for a girl her age to marry a man in his thirties.

 

SW: Does she ever remember the conversation she overheard?

 

D: No, but when she is sick with a fever, she reveals everything to Manuel and her father.  Armed with this information, they set a trap for the spy, but by mischance, Gabriella is caught in it.  She is kidnapped by the spy, escapes and is rescued by a band of friendly Indians.  Now Manuel must find her and get her back.  Then he has to bring the spy to justice so they can be married.

 

SW: I trust it all works out?

 

D: You’ll have to read “Indian Summer” to find out.  But I will say I do like happy endings.

 

SW: Dellani, thank you so much for talking with me today.

 

D: I’m delighted to.  Thank you for inviting me. 

Dellani Oakes’ book, “Indian Summer” is available at http://www.secondwindpublishing.com  It is also available at Amazon.com

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