Welcome Karen Fowler

Karen Fowler has stopped by to visit with us today.  She has some sage advice for writers, and she shares some of her works with us.  Please welcome Karen.

How did you come up with the idea for your book?

The art term “still-life” depicts a moment frozen in time, and I thought it would be an apt name for a story where the paintings show a suspended moment or idea, but together tell a story. From there, the title short was written, but it wasn’t until I started Indie Publishing that I realized I could make a collection of it as well, tying them all together by the theme of painting.

What do you think readers will appreciate most about your book?

Still Life Paintings is a genre sampler in a way, and unlike typical story collections, this one crosses genres quite a bit. The first story is sad, the second one touching, and the third has a happily-ever-after ending. So there’s something for everyone!

Tell us a bit about your writing process.

My process depends on what I’m trying to accomplish. For shorts and collections, I just fly by the seat of my pants, making everything up as I go. For longer works, that approach has only left me with a migraine trying to make a cohesive story from rambling pages, so I tend to write with vague chapter outlines as I go to help keep me on track. Before writing each day (let’s pretend I do get down to business each and every day!), I go back and read over the last chapter. It helps me to focus, and I get some of the minor editing done at the same time.

What is different about this book compared to others you’ve written?

I’d say this collection (barring the first story) is a bit perkier than my normal. While I am a fan of the mythical happy-ending, I’m far too cynical to create them in my writings. The most I can manage is resolution, contentment, and other middle-of-the-road endings.

Most unique or unusual research you’ve ever done for a book?

Does watching hours of Ghost Adventures count? How about True Blood episodes? No, then I’ll have to go with where my current work in progress has taken me– to the legends of the Strega (witch) in Italy.

What is your greatest writing strength?

I tend to write vividly, usually because the story plays like a movie in my head. I attribute this to my other career as a photographer. In fact, I believe my writing has become stronger due to the visual-meets-the-verbal melding. My brain has rewired itself, which has turned out to be a good thing!

 What is the hardest part about writing?

Doing it– the actual sitting down and pecking away at the keyboard. I find this is harder to do now that I have a few published books under my belt. The writing doesn’t flow as unfettered, and I can totally see why a lot of famous writers turn to the drink in order to free themselves from the pressure. I’m not at that point yet, but I do have a bottle of Grey Goose on standby, just in case!

Who are your favorite authors?

I grew up addicted to Poe and Anne Rice. Orwell, Flaubert, and Sinclair also nurtured me through angst-ridden teen years. These days, I find myself drawn to Jodi Picoult when my heart is due for a good twisting or popular paranormal authors when I want an escape. I’ve been reading a good bit of indies lately, and I have found more than a few gems among them as well. Beautiful, Naked and Dead by Josh Stallings comes to mind as does Debora Geary’s Modern Witch Series.

Can you tell us a little about your next project?

I’m currently working an a paranormal tale titled Blood Chord (think dastardly vampires, a haunted violin, and a powerful, yet unaware single mother caught up in it all), and that should be ready for release this fall. Before then, I plan on releasing another a novel-in-stories about a house that changes all who live there in subtle but profound ways, aptly named Home Is Where The Haunt Is.

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Website: http://www.quirkygurl.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/imaquirkygurl

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4740694.Karen_Fowler

On Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Karen-Fowler/e/B004TUFF9S/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

On Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/still-life-paintings-karen-fowler/1104219161?ean=2940012845269&itm=11&usri=

On Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/KarenPFowler

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Welcome Shea Macleod, Author

Welcome Shea Macleod.  She’s here to discuss the first book in the Sunwalker Saga, Kissed by Darkness, and the second in the series, her upcoming novel, Kissed by Fire

How did you come up with the idea for your book?

I was always a huge fan of Buffy (the series).  But being in my 20s at the time, I often thought it would be cool to have a sort of older more grown up version of Buffy.  I also thought it would be cool to have a sort of private detective company that secretly investigated the paranormal (too many episodes of Ghost Hunters, I guess).  Those ideas sort of rattled around in my brain for awhile before morphing into something that actually looked vaguely like a real story.  Add to that my obsession with Templar Knights and the lost city of Atlantis and Kissed by Darkness (the first book in the Sunwaker Saga) was born.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why?

That’s a hard one.  There are so many fictional characters I enjoy, but one of my all-time favorites has to be Jessica Fletcher of Murder, She Wrote.  Don’t laugh! lol  Seriously, she’s smart, sassy, and independent.  She doesn’t take any cr*p and she’s not afraid to try new things or put herself in danger in order to get at the truth.    A lesson we could all learn.  In her own elegant sort of way, she kind of kicks butt. Lol

What is your greatest writing strength?

I write the way people talk, the way they think.  My “voice” if you will is very raw and real with a touch of snarky humor.  My readers seem to like that.

Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication?

Sure.  There was never a time when I didn’t want to be a writer; it just took awhile to find the courage and confidence. 

When I finally started sending query letters about 2 ½ years ago, I got nothing but rejections.  It was a big knock to my confidence, especially after a very well-known agent in my genre asked for more of my work and THEN sent a form rejection.  It hurt, and it pissed me off.  She ASKED for my work.  She could have at least taken the time to type a single personal sentence.

But I got over it.  And I kept writing.  And then in April 2011 I discovered JA Konrath’s blog, and things were never the same.  I realized I had another option.  So I got off the query-go-round, and I went indie full tilt.  It was the best decision I ever made.  Kissed by Darkness was published at the end of June, and I have been surprised and thrilled and completely overwhelmed by how much people seem to like it. 

If you could meet any author who is no longer living, who would it be?

Hands down, Agatha Christie.  It was her writing that originally inspired me, and I am still her biggest fan-girl.  Being able to visit her home in Devon was one of the highlights of my travels. 

Why did you decide to write in this genre?

It was more like it decided for me.  I love to read in many different genres, ones that tend to cross over a lot.  I’ve always been keenly interested in the paranormal, so it was just a natural fit.  Being indie means I can mix genres however and as much as I want, and that’s really exciting.  It means I can take my favorite bits and pieces and mash them all up together.  Post-apocalyptic scifi paranormal romance?  Why not!

What are the best and worst writing tip you’ve learned?

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.” – Stephen King

Best writing tip ever.  How else can you possibly learn your craft but by studying it?  Painters and sculptors copy great works of art.  Actors and singers listen to and watch other performers both in their best performances and in their worst.  In the case of writers, the only real way to study the craft is by READING.

The worst advice I’ve ever heard is “write what you know.”  Um, hello?  If we all followed that piece of rubbish advice, there’d be no such thing as FICTION! 

I say write what you love.  Write what you read.  Write what you can’t NOT write.

Can you tell us a little about your next project?

Absolutely!  The second book in the Sunwalker Saga, Kissed by Fire, will be out later this month.

In the meantime, I’m working on a new post-apocalyptic (with elements of paranormal romance) series called The Dragons Wars.  It’s a trilogy and the first book, Dragon Lord, should be out in October.  And, yeah, there are dragons.

Because, like I always say, everything’s better with dragons!

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 You can purchase Shea Macleod’s books at the following sites:

Amazon UK

 Smashwords

 You can contact Shea Macleod at her blog.

Blog:  http://sheamacleod.wordpress.com

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Welcome LeAnne Shields, Author of The Alestrion Chronicles

Slaves Redeemed, from the series The Alestrion Chronicles, is a science fiction/ fantasy novel for young adults to adults.  
 
The book is a moving story of redemption and growth as you cheer for the young heroine’s
growth from the lowest of the low class to eventually the princess of her world.
       
Aria is a 13-year-old girl that was captured by pirates when she was 5 years old and sold into slavery. Rescued by Jarron Latron, she and her friend Catanya are taken to Aria’s home world of Tanul. There she meets the High King who knows she’s his long-lost granddaughter, but for her safety he lies. This causes her to go into an apprenticeship with a griffin trainer.
 
After a year in apprenticeship, she becomes a griffin pilot in the village of Delthen where she begins her career with her abusive grandfather. Her friends find a new home for her with her uncle who tells her who she really is.
 
All the while a man named Galdon is plotting to take over the throne of Tanul and is not happy that the princess has been found. 
 
 
Slaves Redeemed, from The Alestrion Chronicles, can be found at all major online book retailers.  $12.95 for paperback — $3.99 for digital.
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Welcome Melissa Foster, Author of Megan’s Way

Award winning author of two novels, Megan’s Way and Chasing Amanda, Melissa Foster, has stopped by our blog to share with us some of her wisdom on writing and publishing.  

Just a little bit of information about Melissa:  she is the founder of The Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, designed to help women better themselves and escape the chaos of their daily lives.  Melissa and the other women of  The Women’s Nest are working hard to bring you the best women’s community on the web!

Coming September 2011: WoMen’s Literary Cafe, an extension of The Women’s Nest, will promote the writing community, bridging the gap between readers and authors. The WoMen’s Lit Cafe will offer free promotions to authors, reviewers, bloggers, and editors–bringing readers, authors, and author services together under one umbrella in a free, easily navigable venue. http://bit.ly/o2oxCi

Melissa also hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children, she’s written a column featured in Women Business Owners Magazine, and she has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. 

What a talented and gifted woman.  Where does she find the time to do it all?  Well, maybe she’ll enlighten us on how she does it.  Let ‘s talk with Melissa.

Melissa, how did you come up with the idea for your book?

So far, my ideas have been born from true events and/or my worst fears. MEGAN’S WAY bloomed from an event with my mother, and it took me several years to weed through my own feelings and get to the heart of the story. CHASING AMANDA touches on every parent’s worst nightmare, and my own fear about not recognizing what is unfolding right before my eyes. Interestingly, the idea for COME BACK TO ME hit me like a Mack truck when I was jogging down Route 6 in Wellfleet, MA.

My eyes and ears are always open. Do you know those t-shirts that say, “Watch out or you might end up in my novel”? I travel through my days wondering how every person, action, activity, and even voices and mannerisms, can fit into my stories.

What do you think readers will appreciate most about your book?

When I write, my main concern is creating characters that readers can easily relate to. I write about women who are flawed, yet strong, women who must decide between real-life issues and their desires. I think readers appreciate the ability to connect with the characters.

Your book is being adapted to film.  I am sure you are excited about it. 

The world of film adaptation is a very exciting one. I’m not at liberty to discuss the details at the moment, but I’m thrilled about this new endeavor.

Tell us about your writing process.

I am definitely what you might call a pantzer. I don’t use formal outlines, and I usually begin my story with a strong protagonist and the ending of the story (which often quickly becomes the beginning or the middle of the story). I write for 5 hours each day while my children are in school, September through June, and I only leave my desk under duress.

What is your greatest writing strength?

Easy – dedication. I love writing, so for me, every second of my writing time is cherished. I plan phone calls and errands around my writing time. I even hustle through lunch (if I eat), so as not to lose too many minutes.

What is the hardest part about writing?

The most difficult part of writing is definitely editing. I find that when I read my own work, I see the story in my head—the story I told—rather than the words on the page. I really have to be overly vigilant when reading my own work.

What is the most unique or unusual research you’ve ever done for a book?

I think the most unusual research was trying to find out how people keep their secrets. This involved talking about uncomfortable subjects and reading between the lines, into the gray areas that people painted.

Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication?

My journey was an interesting one. When I first published MEGAN’S WAY, it was mid 2009, and we were in the midst of the recession. Agents were shying away from books that dealt with sad topics, or so I was told. I decided to put MEGAN’S WAY out to readers as a trial, to see if my writing was strong enough to develop a following. I was shocked when I immediately began receiving emails from mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, and even husbands and fathers, who had been touched by, or lost a loved on to, cancer. My book was giving people hope for what lies beyond our earth, and readers were finding comfort in understanding the decision Megan made, which seemed to translate to how their loved ones made their own decisions. There’s no better feeling than knowing you’ve helped someone through a rough time.

My second book, CHASING AMANDA was picked up by the first publisher I sent it to.  I was surprised, worried, scared, to put it out to the public after MEGAN’S WAY was so well received. So far, the reviews have been wonderful (hope I don’t jinx the process!).   I’m not sure that fear of giving my books to the public will ever go away, but I’m excited to release my third book, COME BACK TO ME. All of my books are very different genres and cover different subject matters, and this is a no-no in the publishing world. As I recommend to others, I have to follow my heart and write the stories that feel right.

I’m glad I didn’t snag a great publisher/agent for MEGAN’S WAY. Somehow, having to market my book from scratch, having to prove my writing abilities, makes it all feel more real. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, and I have learned a tremendous amount about our ever-changing publishing world. I’m able to use that knowledge to help other authors weave their way through the same tangled web.

If you could meet any author who is no longer living, who would it be?

I would love to meet AA Milne. He created such a wonderful, simple world, all based on his son’s toys. His son resented his stories, and failed to see his father for many years, including when he was on his deathbed. I find myself wanting to understand the conflict that must have sparred between his paternal emotions and his love of writing. Obviously there is much more to the story, and not for the eyes of the public, but he fascinates me.

What is the best and worst writing tip you’ve learned?

Best writing tip – Don’t listen to all of the advice you’re given. Do your research, but most importantly, stay true to the story that comes from your heart.

Worst writing tip – I have never followed this advice, but too many authors are touting it: Put out as many books as fast as you can to gain a following. BIG red flag. I would never sacrifice quality for quantity. Research, write, edit, rewrite, edit, rewrite, edit, polish, reread, publish. Don’t skip any steps.

Can you tell us a little about your next project?

I would love to! My third novel, COME BACK TO ME (working title), is an international love story/tragedy. As with each of my prior books, the ending will throw you for a loop.

Tess Johnson has it all—Beau, her handsome, photographer husband, a thriving business, and a newly discovered pregnancy. When Beau accepts an overseas photography assignment, Tess decides to wait to reveal her secret—only she’s never given the chance. Beau’s helicopter crashes in the desert.

As Tess struggles to put her life back together and deal with the pregnancy she can no longer hide, a new client appears, offering more than just a new project.

Meanwhile, two Iraqi women who are fleeing Honor Killings find Beau alive in the middle of the desert, his body ravaged. Suha, a doctor, and Samira, a widow and mother of three young children, nurse him back to health in a makeshift tent. Beau bonds with the women and children, and together, with the help of an underground organization, they continue their dangerous escape.

What happens next is a test of loyalties, strength, and love. 

Awards: 
Megan’s Way

2011 Beach Book Award Winner (Spirituality)
2010 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist (Spirituality)
2011 Readers Favorite Awards, Finalist in two categories: Fiction/Drama, Women’s Fiction (Winners TBD Sept 2011)
Nominated Dan Poynter’s Global eBook Award 2011 (Winners TBD summer 2011)
 
Chasing Amanda
2011 Readers Favorite Awards, Finalist in three categories: Women’s Fiction, Paranormal/Fiction, Suspense/Mystery (Winners TBD Sept 2011)
Nominated Dan Poynter’s Global eBook Award 2011 (Winners TBD summer 2011)
 
 
Follow me, Facebook, Twitter, FB Fanpage
Chat w/me on The Women’s Nest

Find out more about the Women’s Literary Café here:

http://thewomensnest.com/content/coming_soon_womens_literary_cafe

Find out more about the Women’s Nest here:

http://www.thewomensnest.com

Thank you so much for inviting me to chat with you today. I have really enjoyed answering your questions, and, as always, I’m happy to answer reader questions or questions from writers.

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Welcome Laura Yirak, Author of Delivered to Eternity

Welcome Laura!

Laura Yirak was born and raised in Scotland and moved to the US in her pre-teens! She loves having a cup of tea while writing and is an avid camper, hiker, and sunbather!

In college she spent two years writing poetry and didn’t discover that she loved writing longer works until her late 20’s.

She is currently working on a children’s series and a psycho-thriller. She will continue the Alesta series after.

Excerpt from Delivered to Eternity
 
The fire was out now. Alesta just sat in the dark and relaxed. If there was anything she had learned over the years it was that time would pass. It was inevitable. Her time passed slowly and endlessly, although she was accustomed to it. It had been hard in the beginning watching her loved ones die and seeing others have children that she could never have. They lived eternally through their offspring, while she just lived eternally.
 
http://www.amazon.com/Delivered-Eternity-Alesta-Vampire-ebook/dp/B004RPTJJC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1310779672&sr=1-1
 
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/70225

http://dreamsofdiamondsauthor.blogspot.com/ 

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Welcome Karin Cox, Author of Cage Life

Karin Cox, author of Cage Life, has stopped by to visit our blog.  She brings with her some very interesting  information about her life, her writing process, and her works.  She is also an editor, having edited David Gaughran’s self-publishing guide Let’s Get Digital: How to Self-publish and Why You Should.  Let’s welcome her to our little abode. Welcome Karin. 

What do you think readers will appreciate most about your book?

  I hope they appreciate how real I’ve tried to make the characters in Cage Life, as well as some of the prose. I wasn’t really sure where either of these stories was going when I first started writing. Although I had the setting and the characters, their tales kind of wove themselves, but I’m happy with the personal growth that the characters experienced throughout the journey.

Tell us a bit about your writing process.

I am an editor by profession, so the writing process is a long one for me. I have had to train myself to let go and just “get it all out there” on the page, no matter how rough, rather than nitpicking along and constantly editing what I have written in an endless quest for perfection. That is still a battle, but now I am more confident in my writing ability, and, at the very least, I know I can (mostly) edit what I have into shape, although I still always run my work past another editor (luckily, I know lots of them) before I commit it to publication.

What is different about this book compared to others you’ve written?

 I have published more than twenty-eight books, but they have been non-fiction and creative non-fiction (first-person memoir or biographical) this is the first book of my own that I’ve published that has been entirely adult fiction. In my spare time I’ve always written poetry and fiction, and I’d love to eventually be able to write fiction fulltime. So I suppose what is different about this book is that it is a figment of my imagination. 

What is the most unique or unusual research you’ve ever done for a book?

I had to do a lot of research into the convicts exported to Australia on the First and Second Fleets, and also into the early relationships and interactions between Australian Aborigines and white settlers for Amazing Facts about Australia’s Early Explorers and Amazing Facts about Australia’s Early Settlers. There were some incredible tales. Some of the petty crimes that resulted in exportation (particularly of children) were really eye-opening, and the Aboriginal reaction is surprising, poignant and very measured considering what was taking place. Overall, the hardships suffered on both sides made it easy to see why Australians are so resilient, even today.

When did you decide to become an indie author?

I have never had a problem with people self-publishing. In fact, in my mid-twenties when I worked for myself for a short time as a freelance editor, I actively assisted several of my clients in self-publishing their work because they had a good platform for selling their own books and didn’t want to hand over any of the proceeds to a publisher. That was a great experience in print self-publishing, back in the old days of shelling out for offset printing, but I didn’t really consider digital self-publishing until the start of June 2011.

I’d been watching the market carefully, more because my publisher, Steve Parish Publishing, was working on some digital kids books and thinking about converting some titles. However, for my own work and for fiction, my concern was whether people would take a self-published e-book seriously, because I was no stranger to the divide between trade publishing and indie publishing and the tendency to rubbish self-published work.

I have to credit Dave Gaughran with persuading me to eventually take the plunge and publish to Smashwords and Amazon. Dave was going through the process himself for the first time and documenting it on his blog. He wrote so candidly about it, even giving his sales figures, and really did his homework in investigating the publishing industry and the self-publishers like JA Konrath and Barry Eisler who were having success. When he sent me his experiential self-publishing guide Let’s Get Digital: How to Self-publish and Why You Should to edit, I read it and decided to give it a shot. I’m sure many other writers who read Dave’s book will come to the same conclusion.

One of the stories in my collection Cage Life has been published before in an online and print anthology called [untitled], so I knew my work had merit, and I just wanted to test the water. I am notoriously bad at even bothering to submit to publishers, purely because I never find the time and I hate the three- to six-month wait to hear back and not being able to send multiple submissions. A lot of my work has been sitting on my hard-drive for years and I keep saying, “I must print that out and submit it” and then life gets in the way, the printer is out of ink, I can’t find a stamp, and, for whatever other reason, it never happens. So this seemed like something good to try. So far, I’ve been pleased with the results.

Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication?

 I got my start ghostwriting memoir and creative non-fiction more than twelve years ago. It was a really worthwhile introduction to writing and developing characters and scenes, and to pacing a full-length creative work. Because the plot was pretty much taken care of, being someone’s life, it meant I could concentrate on other elements, like making dialogue work and using foreshadowing and metaphor. I was working as an editor, editing mainly textbooks and children’s books at the time, so I was supplementing that with freelance editing adult fiction and memoir, and with writing my own fiction and poetry.

I then moved to the UK and spent several years working for a large London-based publisher, editing accountancy and legal texts (snore!). It was a dry old job, but if I finished the rest of my work on time or early, my manager didn’t care if I wrote the rest of the time, which was great because I found if I avoided the watercooler and tea room, I could manage to finish a lot more quickly than many others (I think it is an Australian thing; we tend to not be slackers). I got stuck in and finished my first YA novel in that time (although I think it also helped that I didn’t have a television because my housemate was too cheap to pay the license). Incidentally, I’m still not done with that YA novel, and I’m in the process of reworking it … again. When it is finally done I think it will be a cracker. Its conceived as a trilogy and fully outlined, but it has a very complex plot with historical elements and I despair some days that it might never happen!

After three years, I moved back to Australia and ended up working as the Senior Editor for a publisher here in Australia, editing natural history, mass-market non-fiction and travel, and children’s fiction. Within a few years, they offered me a fulltime writing position, and I have been a bit of a “writer for hire” for them ever since, writing kids’ storybooks, travel guides, Australiana books, and books about Australian history and society.

I’ve been shopping a few other things—stories, novels, poetry—around very, very haphazardly for a few years. I tend to not commit myself enough to sending things for submission. I do it once and then get it back and stick it back in the drawer. I tried a couple of literary agent (yes, literally a couple! I know!) about six years ago, and then never bothered querying more even though one of them wasn’t a form rejection and gave feedback. I am not sure why I am so slack. Maybe it is just that if I don’t submit I can still hope without experiencing the rejection or frustration of hitting agent after agent, editor after editor. Stupidly, I know that’s part of publishing success and I need to put my big girls pants on and do it, but I am just so lazy about submitting. The tendency to just keep editing is strong for me, and I know I need to sometimes just stop and trust that I’ve edited it to kingdom come and that I need to stop procrastinating and send it out into the world somehow if I don’t want to be a headline: 80-year-old Cat Lady Lands Six-figure Publishing Deal! “I’ve had it in a drawer for forty-five years, she says.”

What is the hardest part about writing?

Editing is the hardest part about writing; not so much when I’m editing someone else’s work, but editing my own work is (a) compulsive and (b) impossible to do with any objectivity.

Editors read with a certain kind of clarity. We force ourselves to read more slowly when editing than when reading for pleasure, so we can focus on each word. We also sometimes read backwards, read aloud to think about cadence, onomatopoeia, alliteration and how sensory information is used to evoke a scene, read every second word, pull out the verbs and assess them for strength and appropriateness, and do weird things like that. It’s a different way of looking at a book, and it demands a critical eye (which is often what bothers authors, but it is an editor’s job to a pedantic pain-in-the-butt).

Editors are trained to find fault and think critically, the aim of that is constructive and the intent is purposeful, but it is no wonder some editors are hard to please when it comes to submissions.  Only the best work will really send shivers down an editor’s spine, although a good editor must also be able to appreciate latent potential in manuscripts. As a result, my editorial background is a both a blessing and a curse. It can lead me to be very over-critical of my own work, yet simultaneously proud and protective of it. I know I share that with many writers. Luckily, I trust several of my editor friends with my work one-hundred percent, and I’m still always humbled by what they pick up and by how much their suggestions improve my writing. I believe it is impossible for a writer to remove herself and her ego from the work enough to edit it to a professional standard. Hard questions always need to be asked. 

If you could meet any author who is no longer living, who would it be?

 It would be Mary Renault. I’ve been fascinated with her books since I was a kid and first read The Bull from the Sea at eleven. I didn’t even appreciate an eighth of it, being so young, but it made me fall in love with ancient Greece and is one of the reasons I studied Greek at university and spent five months living in Greece as an adult. She has a fabulous, lyrical quality to her writing that could easily descend into purple prose, but never quite does. I was fascinated by how she portrayed historical and mythical events, and the way she writes about love is just awesome. Although a woman, she wrote a lot of her books with a male first-person protagonist and yet remained entirely believable. I must have read some of her novels hundreds of times, and each time I’ve always stopped at several times, struck by the beauty of her prose. Most of them still make me cry in parts, even after countless reads.

At a time when homosexuality was still very much “in the closet,” Renault, a lesbian, also wrote very candidly and honestly about homosexuality. I see her as a bit of a trailblazer in writing about love, whether between same-sex partners or a man and a woman, and also in writing about history, as some of her suggestions, although well researched, were rather controversial.

Why did you decide to write in this genre?

 I think genre tends to find writers as they write, rather than the other way around. I have never been one to stick to genre, whether reading or writing. Perhaps that is the “editor” thing, too, that I like to try to dissect a novel and see how it works and what elements make it fit within genre guidelines, and I like to see a few of them break the rules and still work.

I’ll read anything that’s good. I like to experiment. I know that if I sat down and thought, right I’m going to write a paranormal romance because they’re popular, it would be limiting. Although I’m a bit of a plotter (or at least an outliner), I still like to give my characters and my story free reign to change and evolve as I write. I think my work will probably always have literary aspirations, but that doesn’t mean everything I write will be literary. I have an outline for a thriller novel, and several historical novels in a drawer somewhere.

Luckily, e-book publishing tends to allow more scope for cross-genre works. Publishers have traditionally pigeonholed manuscripts (or actively “wrangled” them) into genres, and it is true that sometimes “fence-straddlers” can confuse consumers, but I think e-books, particularly at low price points, are convincing readers to take risks. Ironically, most of the genres that are popular today are bastardizations of earlier genres. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, anyone? I don’t think the hardcore genre writers would have seen that coming.

.Can you tell us a little about your next project?

 Yikes! Which one? I have several on the go at once. I am notoriously bad at sticking to one WiP. Maybe that’s an excuse for not finishing/submitting anything, or maybe I just like variety. At the moment, my priority is finishing off a quasi-romance novel. It’s a strange one for me, but I had this idea (essentially a conflicted romance plot) that plagued me, and chick-lit/romance seemed the likely way to write it. I wouldn’t say it’s all heaving bosoms and love tunnels, but it does have some elements of traditional Mills & Boon style romance, which has given me a bit of a giggle. It will be interesting to see how it does and I’m not sure I want to release it as my first full-length novel because I’m not sure it’s entirely representative of me as a writer. Although if the genre-hopping is anything to go by then I suppose it is. 

The other priority is finishing off a young adult apocalyptic, which has really captured my heart and I feel is my best work so far. I’ve hit a rut in it over a very minor plot point, so I need to stop obsessing about that and carry on, giving myself the freedom to come back and dwell on that later on (I find that very hard to do, but know I have to or I’ll stagnate). I’ve also got several children’s storybooks in the pipeline and am working with illustrators for those. My four-month-old baby girl has really renewed my passion for writing for little ones, too. All of that is the reason my blog is a little neglected!

 **********************

Karin Cox’s ebook of short stories, Cage Life, is available from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Cage-Life-ebook/dp/B005DC6AHM/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1  or from Smashwords http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/74484

She has also published a poetry collection, Growth.

You can visit karin’s webiste http://www.editorandauthor.com

You can read her blog at http://www.karincox.wordpress.com

You can follow her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/KarinCox.Author

Or you can follow her on Twitter at @Authorandeditor

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Mary Pat Hyland, Author of The Terminal Diner

We are pleased to welcome Mary Pat Hyland to the blog.  She brings with her some delectable treats, some tasty and some not so much.  Let’s sit down for a spell and sample what she has to offer at The Terminal Diner.

How did you come up with the idea for your book? The Terminal Diner’s humble beginning was a short story I wrote for a contest. Spice of Life didn’t win, so it was tucked away in my short story file. I started thinking about the story again with the angle of involving one of the main characters in the military and played with it a bit, but set it down again. Another contest came up—the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award—and I thought the story could be revisited as a possible entry. This time I wove in the events of Sept. 11 into the story. Since then it has been revised further with some new characters I adore.

What do you think readers will appreciate most about your book? The
characters Rhey White and Simon. Rhey is an unexpected delight and Simon
steers the story into magic realism. My stories often detour that way. I
think it’s the influence of Latin American literature on my writing.

What is different about this book compared to others you’ve written? This book deals with some very difficult issues (had a few sleepless nights
after writing a couple of scenes) and it’s my first foray into the
suspense genre. That said, it retains the humor in my other works, too.

What is the most unique or unusual research you’ve ever done for a book? One of my characters in the Maeve Kenny series, Andy Krall, is a paraplegic. To understand what someone with that disability experiences, I visited a chat board where people hoping for a viable stem cell treatments gather. It
gave me a good idea of the flexibility people with his spinal cord injury
would have, the daily health issues they face as well as the power of
humor in their lives.

What is your greatest writing strength? Dialogue. I’m also a musician, and
when I write conversations, I hear the cadence of speech in my mind. When
I was younger, I was quite shy and spent a good deal of time sitting
silent while others chatted on. Because of this, I’d pick up details about
people that everyone else would miss. Useful skill for a writer.

What is the hardest part about writing? Keeping a commitment to write
every day. It’s like exercise. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Who inspired you to write this book? Inspiration came from several angles.
When Sept. 11 occurred, I was working at a daily newspaper. With
Associated Press bulletins flying across the wires all day, it was
absolutely terrifying in the newsroom. A couple of days later I found out
that an old friend was killed at the World Trade Center. It was
heartbreaking to see the toll his death took on the family. The loss has
changed their attitudes and given them courage to greet each new day that
I find inspiring.

Who are your favorite authors? Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor, Anne
Tyler, John Irving.

Why did you decide to write in this genre? The story decided it for me. As
I made revisions it turned down a path I’d never been on before. I
thought, OK, let’s see where this takes me. I found out that it was quite
fun to write suspense.

Can you tell us a little about your next project? I’ve already written the
first draft of the third book in my Maeve Kenny series, due in December.
No title yet. In November, I’ll start writing The House With the
Wrap-Around Porch for NaNoWriMo. A collection of short stories might come
out before that.

Book links:

CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/3627529

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/The-Terminal-Diner-ebook/dp/B005BYPB8Q

Amazon paperback:
http://www.amazon.com/Terminal-Diner-MaryPat-Hyland/dp/1463573545

Book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cxwu8B2UYo

Links:

Website: http://marypathyland.com/

Blog: http://www.marypathyland.com/thehylander/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/cailinAolain

Facebook author page:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mary-Pat-Hyland/148592325665

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1282032.MaryPat_Hyland

Shelfari: http://www.shelfari.com/authors/a2484397/MaryPat-Hyland/

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