Tag Archives: debut author

The Frustration of Changing Writing Habits

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I’m pretty sure it’s a solid fact of humanity that we’re not very good with change. Sure, there are the exceptions. But from changes at work to changes in our own selves and relationships — especially if we’re not expecting it — change tends to make us all react in bizarre and unhelpful ways.

Writers are particularly finicky. Hell, we can broaden that statement to artists in general. A lot of us have particular elements or situations we need in order to write (like needing silence or white noise or a cup of tea handy or a particular kind of music playing). Changing or not getting a particular element can throw a writer off, terribly.

But what happens when the routine itself… changes? What happens when the tried and true methods no longer work?

I used to be able to write in almost any scenario; music always helped, and I liked to shift positions and sit weirdly all the time. But the only consistent element in my writing routine was that I worked best during late morning and late evening. I could write other times, but it was only when those particular times hit that I really got on a roll.

I’m sure you can guess my next statement.

My writing routine is changing. Heck, it’s changed. In the evenings I’m usually too exhausted to form coherent sentences, and during the late morning I’m at work, so that doesn’t work. But even before I started working full time I was noticing a shift.

I’m not sure how to pinpoint the causes. Working full time is an obvious one for part of this (equaling lack of time and exhaustion), but even going to college full time and working, I made writing happen in the snippets and furious late night sessions.

What is it about now that’s messing up everything?

Maybe this is combined with plain ol’ growing older. I’m almost 26. My brain is officially shedding any functions I don’t use often, my body is setting into a shape with a much lower metabolism, no one is really interested in my hopes and dreams so much as where I’m working and what I’m doing with my life. I have responsibilities. I can’t skip work because I don’t feel well or because I’m feeling particularly inspired by a story. I’m managing to handle my migraines and my health. I’m working on saving enough for my own place.

I’m no longer a driven, mature kid – I’m an adult and the behavior is expected of me.

It’s not exactly the thing the sparks the imagination. Between everything – pressure and responsibilities and mental issues – it’s so very easy to fall into a rut of… nothing. Daily actions repeated for necessity but no desire.

Why is being an adult so busy?

In my last Behind the Scenes in Publishing post, I touched upon how my approach to writing is shifting because of the business side of being an author has been taking up a lot of brain space lately. I think that has a part to play in my whole writing routine being messed up, too.

Struggling or being unable to write seems to be a common complaint among my fellow debute-ers. Between marketing and exposing your heart to the world with a book baby and exciti-waiting for this book thing to happen… can we really be surprised that energy level and creativity might be a little shaky?

The other day I realized I haven’t finish writing for almost three years. Besides the commission from my publisher of writing Pridem (the prequel to my Obsidian Divide series that will now be my debut), which was different because it’s short and I already knew the story. I haven’t finished anything since I signed my publishing contract, in fact, which I talk about more in depth in the above blog post I mentioned.

I’ve written quite a bit, and almost finished a few projects… almost. That scares me. I’d been consistently writing at least one book a year before that. Between focusing on learning all this marketing and working full time and various other stressors (starting with mental health and ending with plain ol’ ridiculous life situations), it feels like my writing escape is starting to become… just another stress.

A stress I highly enjoy, mind you. But the BUSINESS part of being an author has taken over my head, and it’s leaving me terrified I’ll never write a book again because I’ve always written from a place of hidden-in-my-own-world. That doesn’t really exist anymore. Maybe it can be at an idea’s inception. But at some point I have to think about selling the thing so I can keep writing. Writing isn’t just escape and satisfaction when my brain is on fire. Writing is now… creativity making a world people can escape to and maybe learn from that holds a piece of my soul.

Which means, really, that my way of approaching writing has shifted. So maybe it’s no wonder that my routine is up in the air.

I did have a bit of an epiphany the other day. And it’s a silly, simple thing, that we often hear as writing advice but I didn’t really understand until this moment.

I’ve got to figure out how to get back to writing for myself. That’s how I wrote all of my other stories. Maybe some people can, but I can’t seem to write without the passion for it. It just falls flat, boring. It also feels like pulling myself through molasses to get anything on the page.

And yeah, that ‘business’ side of writing is constantly in my head. But, as I read in an article that I now can’t find, that’s what editing is for.

I’ve got to banish thinking about genre and craft and market and character arc and just write. And then when the whole damn messy thing is out on pages, I can turn it into something that I can actually use as Professional Author.

It’s bizarre, this uneasy marriage between creativity and business. I’ve always heard of it but never realized how crippling it can be to learn how to balance it.

Anyway, I’ve somehow wandered off my original subject, writing habits — but the vomit of words above seems to have a lot to do with it. The point is, I’ve somehow got to get back to my well of creativity, and I think fostering new writing habits is key. My old writing habits have to change, for obvious practical adult-life reasons, and because I think it can nurture my creativity.

I guess my point of all of this is, maybe don’t be afraid of writing habits changing. As humans, we’re creatures of adaptation and change, our lives by very definition cannot stay the same. Maybe our writing — the content, the style, and the way we go about it — is meant to change, perhaps with each era of our lives. Be willing to try new ways of doing something.

Now… off to build new habits, inspire creativity, and make something great.


Published: Behind the Scenes (June 2018)

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Well, it’s been a while since we’ve had an update with this! Partially because hey it turns out debuting brings out a whole plethora of various doubts and weird quirks you didn’t know you had, made especially worse if you already struggle with these things. But also because not a lot has really happened. It is pretty mind-boggling how slow publishing works. But I digress.

If you’re not caught up: I sold my New Adult alternate-history fantasy series late 2016 to Glass House Press. Since then, I’ve been detailing my journey of what goes on behind the scenes for fun, but also in the hopes that someone might gain some benefit from it. My publishing journey will obviously be different than someone else’s, but there might be some inspiration or advice in my tale.

Just in case you need it, here is:

The last time I wrote on this subject, I spoke a bit about marketing in my perspective, and the start of designing Pridem’s cover.

Some updates about that! Pridem’s cover is still in the works. It’s hopefully going to be done in a couple weeks. We hit a few snags with designers, but I’m still very excited about what’s happening. There’s a lot of excited-waiting in publishing, that’s for sure.

Hell, if you’re interested, I’m going to be revealing sneak peaks in my newsletter that you can sign up for here. (You’ll also get snippets from Pridem and other goodies.)

Which leads me into marketing updates! I know, the concept of marketing is super scary. It’s sounds like a really dry, painful thing to do, and it’s not writing.

Honestly, I’m finding a lot of things about marketing is pretty fun (I think I’ve mentioned this before). Because while you’re going to have to put in a lot of work to make yourself successful as an author, I’m pretty against the idea that you have to do things you absolutely hate just because everyone tells you that you need to. In the same vein, it’s easy to get sucked into all of the information you can learn and have.

Maybe that’s me; I tend to get obsessive about something when I know I need it and it’s remotely interesting. And marketing is the kind of thing that never ends, so I’m fast reaching the burn out stage of it instead of just learning and moving on.

It’s causing a weird shift in my writing. Because I’m focusing on the Business side versus the Creativity side of authorship (as I should, but also, maybe a little on the unhealthy side), I think my approach to writing has changed. And it’s kind of uncomfortable.

I’ve heard that this is pretty typical. When you move from Writer to Author status (whatever that really means), you have to think about actually selling the books you write. For me, I wasn’t thinking about an audience or selling books for a looong time. I wrote because my skin itched if I didn’t. I wrote because the pictures in my head were so vivid I had to write it down. I wrote because it was an escape and a comfort. I was also a kid when I started writing, so most of my experience takes place in the fury and passion of teenagehood. Needless to say, this change to the reality of authoring may be particularly harsh.

I think the truth of it is you have to find a balance (my favorite word!) between the business and the creativity. Or maybe a more accurate word is a harmony. Because focusing totally on one or the other isn’t going to help garner success.

Well, I’d been figure out this harmony damn quick, because it seems to be having a very tumultuous effect on the actual writing part of writing. I realized the other day that I haven’t finished writing a book since I signed with Glass House Press. I don’t think that’s a coincidence, because before that I was fast on my way to finishing two books a year. The anticipation and excitement and frustration is immense, and I think I’m letting the stress of being successful overshadow all. Honestly, getting my book out is starting to become a relief simply because all this exciti-waiting is taxing.

Actually, hold up. I have completed a book since then. PRIDEM was completed under the guidance of my editor early last year (duh). That was my shortest novel yet, and it was under deadline, so that was definitely a different kind of getting a book done! I guess more accurately, I haven’t finished writing a novel in over a year.

I don’t think I can blame all my problems on debuting, however. There are a few personal issues that have cropped up over this time period, along with learning how to manage a mental illness and straight up learning how to be a friggin’ adult.

I think I might have had some unreal expectations about what writing would look like once I was an adult. As a homeschooled teenager, I could write as soon as I finished my work. In college, it was busier, but about the same. Now… with all this responsibility and my body saying hello to late 20s and life and adulting, writing time has to be squeezed out between responsibilities and exhaustion.

(Actually… I did delve into our perceptions of what an author’s life looks like in a blog post found here)

I wanted to mention this in my official Behind The Scenes In Publishing series because I think there should be some warning about how long publishing takes, and how much it messes with your head when it comes to creativity. You may not have as much of an issue – god, I hope you don’t! – but I did want to give a heads up.

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Jumping around a bit, I have a piece of advice I want to impart:

When you debut, I HIGHLY recommend that you find a debut-authors-of-your-year group and join. I joined #Authors18 late last year and it’s been a whirlwind partnership of advice, guidance, general support, and commiserating. Debut author groups are all in a similar situation of needing reviews, help, and someone to listen – often, everyone is willing to help you out if you’ll help them out. And it’s a serious boost to know people who are going through the same stresses you are.

Also! In case you haven’t seen from social media or from my newsletter, I got a pretty author logo:

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This is actually a present from my publisher, because GHP is super awesome. But I think it’s pretty dang cool and I’m glad to be using this to tie my writing presence together!

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Final updates:

My editor and I touched upon development edits in the actual content of Pridem. She’s trying to ease me in slowly and develop a good working relationship, so she sent me a taste of the first few pages instead of an overwhelming chunk. I’m already loving her insights and how she’s pointing out things I’ve overlooked, though I’m so hungry to really dive into it! She’s very good about layering in compliments along with suggestions for improvement.

Either which way, I’m so ready to make this book the best it can be. It might be easier to tear this book apart because it was technically written at my editor’s behest and isn’t as close to my heart as the rest of the series, but I’ve also been readying myself for constructive criticism for a long time. I’m itching to do this.

Oh, speaking of the whole series, it has an official name. My editor and I worked out a name for the whole series based off of some particularly crucial world-building events and overall themes, and it is officially: The Obsidian Divide series. I think it’s unique and catchy enough to do the job!

And! My editor and I almost have the back cover copy and tagline done (back cover copy: what’s on the back of the book that makes people want to read it). So I’ll be revealing the official description of Pridem and what to look forward to as soon as I’m able. (I have an unofficial version on my blog’s front page “Home” if you want to check that out.)

That’s probably where I’m going to end things, because this is getting pretty long already. I’m hoping to have cover updates and edit updates here in a month or so, and I’ll detail all those adventures next time!

 

If you’d like to stay up-to-date on all my adventures and get sneak-peaks into my New Adult alternate-history fantasy, sign up here!


Debut Authors of ’18: Rachel Pudelek

Hello and welcome to my blog series dedicated to author interviews for 2018 debut authors! This has been started as a way to support some of my fellow ‘debutantes’ of 2018. Some of the genres may be a little outside while I usually write/talk about here, but each of these I share struck my interest in one way or another.

(See past author interviews at the end of this post!)

Oh. My. God. have I been waiting excitedly for this book. Now only is it Urban Fantasy (one of my favs) and has an incredible premise, but it’s rooted in fantastic, women-power mythology that gives us all a wonderful twist to old tales. I am so excited to dive in!!!

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GENERAL

– Author Name: Rachel Pudelek

– Book Title: Freyja’s Daughter

– Book Genre:Urban Fantasy

– Release Date: May 22, 2018

– Publisher: City Owl Press

THE BOOK

FREYJA’S DAUGHTER is the first in a feminist fantasy series and introduces Faline Frey, a bounty hunter and member of the Washington huldra coterie, who must unite the succubi, harpies, mermaids, and rusalki to rescue her sister and escape the clutches of the Hunters, the mysterious men who have been controlling the Wild Women for centuries.
Teaser time!

Well behaved women seldom make history, but they still end up as the monsters in folklore.
– Where did you get the idea?

While researching ancient goddess-worshipping cultures I noticed how mythology about goddesses and folkloric females shifted as women became more oppressed due to political and/or religious changes. I wanted to tell a similar story, about folkloric women who used to be wild and free and powerful, who were told lies about their very existence, that their wildness must be contained due to its uncontrollable nature. Until one huldra stumbles upon the truth when her own containment cracks open and her wildness flows freely.
– What’s the story behind the title? (e.g. who came up with it, did your publisher change it, etc.) 

Each book in the Wild Women series is based on a goddess of each Wild Women group. The first book concentrates on the huldra, and their goddess/creatrix is Freyja, so that’s why I call it Freyja’s Daughter. I came up with it and both my agent and my publisher loved the title so it stayed.
– No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.

Each of the different Wild Woman types were created by a different goddess who breathed her life and abilities into her highest temple priestesses before her temple fell to patriarchal invaders. This backstory is touched on throughout the book (more will unfold as the series progresses) and is the basis for the Wild Women’s belief systems and moral codes as well as differing values.
– Tell us about your favourite character.

I love the main character Faline, but the funnest character to write was Marie, the succubi leader. She’s morally ambiguous, says what she thinks, and just sees life itself as a play thing. I love that about her.
– If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do? 

I’d pick the brains of the rusalki, ask them about everything spiritual. The rusalki in Freyja’s Daughter are a group of Wild Women whose power has a lot to do with divination. They’re odd (think adult, recluse Luna Lovegood’s from Harry Potter) and speak mostly in riddles, but spending a day learning their secrets sounds like fun to me.
– Are your character based on real people, or do they come from your imaginations?

My characters are based on real folklore, except for the Hunters, I made them up by tying bits and pieces of groups who oppressed others throughout history and mythology. Each group of Wild Women is from legend. Each goddess they worship is from ancient mythology/belief systems. Their personalities, though, I absolutely fabricated.

 

WRITING PROCESS

– How long did you take to write this book? (You can share about the timeline from drafting to publication)

It took me about a month or two to draft this book, but it took many more months of editing and revisions as my agent and I passed it back and forth, before it was ready to go on submission.

– What kind of research did you do for this book?

I actually have a list of non-fiction books I read as research for my Wild Women series on my website. I read books, visited museums, listened to podcasts, and watched documentaries on ancient goddess cultures, mythology, and matrilineal and matriarchal cultures.
– What did you remove from this book during the editing process?

After the first pass by my agent I had to totally rewrite the first five or so chapters. My agent is incredibly editorial. But once the book sold to a publishing house, I removed nothing.

– Are you a plotter or a pantser? Both and neither. I write a one-page outline and then pants it from that outline.
– What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?

The drafting phase is my favorite.I love getting the chance to create worlds and beings in those worlds, to allow my imagination to unfurl.
– What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?

I don’t enjoy the early editing phase, the part when I have to figure out how to fix major plot issues or rearrange difficult scenes.
– Can you share your writing routine? (e.g. How do you carve out your writing time? Where do you normally write?)

I don’t have much of a routine. I do what I call “book work” every week day. I mostly work from my couch, or on particularly distracting days I’ll work in a cubby desk at my local library.

– How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

At this moment I have five full-length unpublished novels and one novella. And three half-finished novels.

– Do you have any writing quirks?

I’m not sure if this is a quirk, but I have a Costco-sized box of caramel-covered apple suckers that I’m only allowed to enjoy while editing. They help alleviate some of the sting.

 

THE WRITER

– How did you get into writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I still have a writing reward from elementary school. 🙂

– What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love wine tasting and hiking and kayaking–just getting out in nature and enjoying its offerings.

– Share something about you most people probably don’t know.

I’ve lived in four states and two countries

– Which book influenced you the most?

This may sound cliche, but the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer was huge for me. I gave up my passtime of reading and writing when I had my kids. The Twilight series sucked me in in such an emotional way, (even the setting of my home state of Washington acted as balm to my homesick heart) that it reignited my creative side and made me want to write again.

WHAT’S NEXT

– What are you working on right now?

I’m currently working on Lilith’s Children, the second book in the Wild Women series, and putting the polishing touches on a paranormal YA.
– What’s your favourite writing advice?

Perseverance is key.

TELL US…

– The book you’re currently reading

Right now I’m reading Viking Warrior Rising by Asa Maria Bradley, and loving it.

THE PITCH

Well behaved women seldom make history, but they still end up as the monsters in folklore.

Faline Frey is a bounty-hunter, more comfortable relying on perp files and handcuffs than using her huldra powers to take down a suspect. No sense in catching the unwanted attention of her local Hunter authority, a group of holy soldiers born to police the supernatural and keep Wild Women—huldras, mermaids, succubi, rusalki and harpies—in check.

All that changes the night she heads out for a date, hoping to get lucky. Instead, she gets screwed.

Now her sister is missing, along with Wild Women from all over the country. The Hunters are on her tail and the one person offering to help is her ex-lover, Officer David Garcia, who has just enough ties to the supernatural world to hang her with. To unite her enemies against their common foe, Faline will need to convince the Wild Women to do the one thing she fears most—exhume their power buried deep beneath centuries of oppression. That is, if she can keep them from killing each other.

BUY LINKS

http://smarturl.it/FreyjaAmz

 

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BIO

Rachel Pudelek is a dog-hugger and tree-lover. Growing up with three sisters sparked her passion for both women’s history and women’s advocacy, which led to her career as a birth doula and childbirth educator. These days she channels those passions into writing fiction. When she’s not writing, Rachel enjoys hiking, attempting to grow her own food, or reading.

Rachel lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband, two daughters, two dogs, a cat named Lucifer, and two well-fed guinea pigs. Freyja’s Daughter is her debut novel.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Website: http://rachelpudelek.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRachelP/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rachelpud
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachel_pud/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/dog0hugger/freyjas-daughter-by-rachel-pudelek/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17238794.Rachel_Pudelek

 

Previous author interviews:

Pamela Kopfler – BETTER DEAD

Anna Quinn – THE NIGHT CHILD

Clarissa Harwood — IMPOSSIBLE SAINTS

Negeen Papehn — FORBIDDEN BY FAITH

Clarissa Goenawan — RAINBIRDS

Cass Morris — FROM UNSEEN FIRE

YZ Chin — THOUGH I GET HOME

Jennifer Haupt — IN THE SHADOW OF 10,000 HILLS

Carolyn M. Walker — IMMORTAL DESCENT

Samantha Heuwagen — DAWN AMONG THE STARS


Debut Authors of ’18 Interviews: Carolyn M. Walker

Hello and welcome to my blog series dedicated to author interviews for 2018 debut authors! This has been started as a way to support some of my fellow ‘debutantes’ of 2018. Some of the genres may be a little outside while I usually write/talk about here, but each of these I share struck my interest in one way or another.

(See past author interviews at the end of this post!)

I AM SO EXCITED AN URBAN FANTASY (which is probably my most favorite genre ever). I’m a bad, bad reader and author and have not made the time to read this yet (bad, bad Rebekkah), but I am SO excited to partake on the journey Ms. Walker has crafted.

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GENERAL

– Author Name: Carolyn M. Walker

– Book Title: Immortal Descent

– Book Genre: Urban Fantasy

– Release Date: 4/3/18

– Publisher: Clean Reads/Astrea Press

THE BOOK

Immortal Descent is about the mystery of immortality coming to the forefront in the modern world. A young man gets thrown into the underground world surrounding an age-old secret and he discovers he plays an integral part in a dangerous plot that has potentially epic consequences.

Teaser time!

He couldn’t explain it; he couldn’t justify it. All he could think of in that moment was it was all real. What he’d just seen in those memories had been real.

“The woman—what was she?” Ethan asked, still speaking just above a whisper.

“It was a Lorn.”

 

– Where did you get the idea?

The idea originally came from studying world religion. The notion of immortality and how it was portrayed across world cultures was fascinating to me. The more I thought about it, the more I thought “what if” and before I knew it I said, “why don’t I write a novel about it.”
– What’s the story behind the title?

I came up with the title myself. I love to play on words and the title has a dual meaning. Immortal represents immortality of course but descent represents the mysterious lineage of the Lorn creatures in my story, as well as the downward spiral into the unknown—a descent which the main character makes.
– No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.

There is an entire backstory to Ethan that plays an important role in the story. It will also come up again in future installments since this book is the first in a series.
– Tell us about your favourite character.

My favorite character is Rue. She is the main female character, opposite Ethan. Her sense of duty, strength, and ethics are deeply rooted qualities that make her memorable.


– If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do? (P.S. Please keep it to PG-13)

I would spend the day with Oryx, one of the oldest Lorns in the book. He is one of the most interesting characters with an interesting past, and the ability to see the future. He is very knowledgeable about the world of Immortal Descent and I know he’d be a most gracious host as is his personality!
– Are your character based on real people, or do they come from your imaginations?

I would say certain elements might have been plucked from a person or two but really just certain attributes from here and there. I didn’t base any character on any one person. The majority of their makeup was from my crazy imagination!

 

WRITING PROCESS

– How long did you take to write this book? (You can share about the timeline from drafting to publication)

The mere notion for the story came as a partial short story idea way back in 2002. Shortly after, I shelved the idea for years before picking it back up in 2015. I finished writing it that year, began querying it out in early 2016 and a few months later I landed my publishing contract with Clean Reads.

 

– What kind of research did you do for this book?

I did TONS of research for Immortal Descent. I did a lot of reading of historical books, mythological texts, and scholarly journals. I also had to brush up on international travel because half the book takes place in Western Europe.
– What did you remove from this book during the editing process?

I had a scene that was heavy foreshadowing of the conflict that comes to the forefront in Book 2. I found it to be ill-placed so early on in Book 1, so I omitted it and saved it for the early part of the next installment.
– Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Definitely a plotter.
– What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?

My favorite part is the research in the beginning because I love to learn and educate myself on new things. I also enjoy the editing process where I’m polishing it up for the final run. I love seeing the finished product, so I can sit back and just be proud.
– What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?

The most challenging part for me is laying the groundwork in writing. There are times when the story comes to me like a flowing faucet and I can’t type fast enough to keep up. Other times (when the faucet seems clogged) it can be frustrating and challenging to keep plodding along.
– Can you share your writing routine? (e.g. How do you carve out your writing time? Where do you normally write?)

Normally I plan ahead in my mind with a goal, such as “I am going to write for two hours today.” Then I devote time to that writing without distractions in my home office. I tend to be a night owl, so a lot of the magic happens at night.
– Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?

If it means sitting and staring at a blank screen because I literally have no idea on how to start (or continue), then yes! I combat it by either skipping the troublesome area or throwing myself into research. Research gets me thinking about stuff and before I know it, an idea pops into my head and bam, I’m writing again!
– If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Do NOT doubt yourself! Thinking you cannot do something is as good as not doing it. Oh, and stop editing stuff to death—learn to let go!
– How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Oh boy. I’d say about a couple dozen!
– Do you have any writing quirks?

I talk to myself. I always read blocks of passages out loud before moving on. It helps me understand the writing beyond just what’s on paper.

 

THE WRITER

– Tell us about yourself. (e.g. day job, family, pet, etc)

In addition to being a creative writer, I write professionally as a copywriter. I’m also a mom to a fast-growing teen girl and a loving wife to my hubby of 13 years! We have a long-haired chihuahua named Dixie. 😉
– How did you get into writing?

Writing has been a part of my life since childhood and will be for the rest of my life. I wrote my first short story at 6, won my first state-wide writing award at 12, and published my first short story at 19 in a small literary journal. My mom fostered my love for words with an endless number of books and writing tools at home.
– What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to read (surprise!) but I’m also a serious foodie and I like to recipe scrapbook! Making and cataloguing Halloween treats and holiday sweets are especially fun for me!
– Apart from novel writing, do you do any other kind(s) of writing?

I sure do! I’ve worked many years as a professional copywriter, technical writer, and ad copy writer for several firms, nationwide. I also dabbled in ghostwriting for a brief time.
– Share something about you most people probably don’t know.

I’m 20% fluent in Japanese, ha ha! I took it as my foreign language of choice in college, and I’ve always admired the culture, food, music and fashion, alongside the language. Some day I want to become fully fluent; it’s a work in progress. 😊
– Which book influenced you the most?

Many books have influenced me, but I would say that C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe really got me fascinated with fantasy as a child. To this day, I still adore that story!

 

WHAT’S NEXT

– What are you working on right now?

I am working on a couple of different projects right now. One is a heartfelt romance, another is a young adult thriller, and the third is a sci-fi story. I’ve always wanted to write a really good sci-fi story!
– What’s your favourite writing advice?

Always keep writing. It’s simple but really means the most to me. As a writer, I must keep doing what brings me the greatest joy—write (even if it’s for 10 minutes in a day, never stop).

TELL US…

– The book you’re currently reading

The Condition (book 1) by Alec Birri.

– What is one of your favorite quotes?

Smile. “Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.” – Dale Carnegie

 

PITCH

Ethan West knows what it means to be different, with a haunted past and a strange sixth sense he sometimes can’t control. When he’s brutally attacked and narrowly saved by a beautiful and mysterious woman, things quickly become strange.

Ethan learns an ancient race of immortal beings known as Lorns exist and he is to be reborn as one. Suddenly thrust into a dark and bizarre world of underground societies, ancient secrets, and an age-old war, Ethan becomes a target to some and a savior to others. With a dark faction after him, Ethan struggles to understand his own purpose and power—an ordeal that tests his loyalties, beliefs, and sanity in ways unimaginable.
– Give one or two of your favourite blurbs.

“Deep in the caves of rural Western Germany, the truth about immortality has remained a secret for centuries, but now that secret is about to break free…”

“Ethan West knows what it means to be different. With a haunted past and a strange sixth sense he sometimes can’t control, Ethan’s in search of a better future. Instead, he’s brutally attacked. Narrowly saved by the beautiful and mysterious Rue, Ethan quickly learns the world is darker and more bizarre than he had ever imagined. And sparing his life comes with a price: being reborn immortal. Now, a dark faction of ancient, cursed immortal beings known as Lorns are after him. And they want his rare, newly awakened soul.”

“Descended from the mythological Nephilim, Lorns are bound by either the divine force of order or the mortal force of chaos. Ethan is a rarity, bound by neither, yet he is ruled by both. Now, wielding an ancient and volatile power, Rue and her Alliance work to keep Ethan from spiraling out of control. At the heart of a terrifying underground war between Lorns, Ethan becomes the target of one side and a savior to the other. Amid everything, Ethan struggles to understand his own purpose and power—an ordeal that tests his loyalties, beliefs, and sanity in ways unimaginable. And the greatest danger is yet to come.”

 

BUY LINKS

AMAZON: https://amzn.to/2jEGjxZ

 

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BIO

Carolyn M. Walker is a California native and lover of all things literary. As an avid reader, she’s always enjoying new and exciting reads. Now as an avid storyteller, it is her mission to bring that same joy to her beloved readers. After earning her Bachelors in English Literature and Psychology, Carolyn went on to pen the draft for her first fiction novel and hasn’t looked back since. Aside from writing, she is also passionate about art, food, travel, history, and music. Carolyn now lives in sunny Florida with her husband and daughter. Carolyn’s debut novel Immortal Descent, comes out in April 2018.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Website: https://carolynmwalker.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carolynmwalkerwrites
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MissWriteWise
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/misswritewise/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/misswri/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17271041.Carolyn_M_Walker

Previous author interviews:

Pamela Kopfler – BETTER DEAD

Anna Quinn – THE NIGHT CHILD

Clarissa Harwood — IMPOSSIBLE SAINTS

Negeen Papehn — FORBIDDEN BY FAITH

 


Authors of ’18 Interviews: Jennifer Haupt

Hello and welcome to my blog series dedicated to author interviews for 2018 debut authors! This has been started as a way to support some of my fellow ‘debutantes’ of 2018. Some of the genres may be a little outside while I usually write/talk about here, but each of these I share struck my interest in one way or another.

(See past author interviews at the end of this post!)

Here’s another literary fiction for you — and another one I can’t wait to read. This looks heartwrenching and fascinating!

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A Conversation with Jennifer Haupt, Author of In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills

Jennifer Haupt’s moving debut novel, In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills, is a multi-cultural story deftly weaves together the journeys of three women from vastly diverse backgrounds searching for personal peace in post-genocide Rwanda. At the heart of this novel that Bustle.com named as one of 19 debut novels to watch for in 2018 is the search for family, and the discovery of grace when there can be no forgiveness.

 

Q: Why did you go to Rwanda in 2007?

A: The short answer is that I was a reporter exploring the connection between grief and forgiveness. I went there to interview genocide survivors. I also went to interview humanitarian aid workers about why they were drawn to this tiny country still grieving a decade after the 1994 genocide.

I had an handful of assignments for magazines, writing about humanitarian efforts and they all fell through for one reason or another. That’s when I decided to hire a driver and go into the 10,000 hills to visit the small churches and schools with bloodstains on the walls and skulls of anonymous victims stacked on shelves. I wanted to trace the steps of the genocide and talk with the genocide survivors, mostly women, who were guides at these rarely visited memorials.

 

Q: What did you find in Rwanda that was surprising?

A: I didn’t even realize until I was in Rwanda that I needed to address my own grief for my sister who died when I was age two. It was forbidden to speak of Susie in our household; that’s how my parents dealt with their grief and I respect that. In Rwanda, it felt safe to grieve for the first time. My grief was miniscule compared with the genocide survivors. And yet, we shared a powerful mixture of emotions — compassion, sorrow, longing — that crossed the boundaries of race and culture.

What struck me was that many of the aid workers I interviewed were also grieving over the loss of loved ones. They came to Rwanda as a way of reaching out to help others, and also to heal their own souls. Most of the people I spoke with, no matter if they were Rwandan, American, European, were, in some way, grieving. I had always thought the universal commonality that connected all of us was love, but I learned in Rwanda that grief is an equally strong bond. Grief and love form the bridge that connects us all.

 

Q: How did your Jewish background effect you?

A: Fifteen years before I went to Rwanda, I visited the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial site in Germany. The site is an impressive museum with photo exhibits and artifacts. The former prison barracks and crematorium where some of my relatives may have been imprisoned and murdered were now scrubbed clean. I went to Dachau expecting to feel sorrow, maybe anger, but instead I felt a disturbing emptiness. Nothing.

During the two weeks I spent traveling in the ten thousand hills of Rwanda, I couldn’t help but think of my visit to Dachau. Thousands of people visit Dachau each year; we Jew vow to remember the atrocities that happened there. Never again. It struck me that I was nearly always the only visitor at the dozens of tiny bloodstained memorials I visited. There was always a guide, usually a woman, a lone Tutsi survivor whose family members were murdered at the church or school.

I remember at one church, I was met by a woman named Julia, in her mid-forties, around my age at the time. She had survived by laying on the floor among the dead bodies. Now, she gave tours so that no one would forget. I talked with Julia about her family members and friends who had been murdered here. We cried together; my tears were, in part, for my relatives and members of my tribe who had been murdered during the holocaust. I experienced a powerful connection with this stranger who lived halfway around the world from me, in a culture so different than mine, through both love and grief. I wanted to share that experience with others through the characters in my novel.

 

Q: Why did you write this novel, instead of a memoir about your time in Rwanda?

A: Amahoro is a Kinyarwanda greeting that translates literally to peace, but means so much more when exchanged between Hutus and Tutsis since the genocide. It’s a shared desire for grace when there can be no forgiveness. It’s an acknowledgement of shared pain, an apology, a quest for reconciliation. I wanted to be the conduit for telling the stories of amahoro that I had heard in Rwanda, from Tutsis and Hutus. I wanted to explore more deeply the meaning of amahoro, from many different world views. I wanted to excavate my own grief more fully and, perhaps, find my own vision of amahoro. I could only do all of that, I felt, as a novelist.

 

Q: Why did you choose to tell this story through the eyes of three women of different ages and cultural backgrounds?

A: I wanted to offer Westerners a window into a very different world, and to do that I started with an American protagonist leaving everything she knows to try and find amahoro. Rachel Shepherd is searching for her father, Henry, in Rwanda. She is also searching for the piece of her heart that he took when he left her twenty years earlier. The piece that knows how to love: like a child, like a wife, like a mother.

I also wanted to connect the African-American civil rights struggle with the struggle for civil rights of the Tutsis in Rwanda. That’s where Lillian comes from. Once I decided that she and Henry Shepherd had an ill-fated interracial love affair during the late 1960s in Atlanta, their story took on a life of it’s own. Lillian is on equal footing with Rachel as a central character in this novel.

Originally, this was just Rachel and Lillian’s journey: The intertwining stories of two women searching for the man they both love. Two women trying to piece together a family. I didn’t add Nadine’s story until eight years after I started writing this novel. She’s based on a 19-year-old woman I met in Rwanda who had left after the genocide and was returning for the trial of a Hutu man, a former neighbor, who she had seen shoot her mother and sister.

Nadine is a fusion of this woman’s story as well as other stories I heard in Rwanda — and then, of course, my imagination. She’s the lynch-pin that hold together the stories of Lillian, Henry, Rachel, and Rachel’s love interest in Rwanda, an American doctor running from his past who has become like an older brother to Nadine.

 

Q: Is this a political story about the genocide?

A: No, this is a story that is set against the backdrop of pre-genocide, the genocide, and then after the genocide. I conducted a lot of research about Rwandan history but I don’t claim to be an expert on the country’s politics or tumultuous past. I do present some background about the genocide, which is factual, but this is historical fiction. The story is about the experiences of the characters during this time in history.

 

About the Author

Jennifer Haupt has been a journalist for more than 25 years. Her essays and articles have been published in O, The Oprah Magazine, The Rumpus, Psychology Today, Travel & Leisure, The Seattle Times, Spirituality & Health, and many other publications. Her well-read Psychology Today blog, One True Thing, is a collection of essays and interviews with bestselling authors. In the Shadow of Ten Thousand Hills is her first novel. She lives in Seattle with her husband, two sons and Duck Toller.

 

For more information about Jennifer Haupt and In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills please visit www.jenniferhaupt.com.

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Previous author interviews:

Pamela Kopfler – BETTER DEAD

Anna Quinn – THE NIGHT CHILD

Clarissa Harwood — IMPOSSIBLE SAINTS

Negeen Papehn — FORBIDDEN BY FAITH


Debut Authors of ’18 Interviews: YZ Chin

Hello and welcome to my blog series dedicated to author interviews for 2018 debut authors! This has been started as a way to support some of my fellow ‘debutantes’ of 2018. Some of the genres may be a little outside while I usually write/talk about here, but each of these I share struck my interest in one way or another.

(See past author interviews at the end of this post!)

Alright, so reading through the inspiration and motivation behind this book gave me shivers. It looks incredibly poignant and thoughtful, and I’m seriously looking forward to sitting down and reading it.

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GENERAL

– Author Name: YZ Chin

– Book Title: Though I Get Home

– Book Genre: Literary Fiction

– Release Date: April 10, 2018

– Publisher: Feminist Press

THE BOOK

Though I Get Home is a collection of interconnected stories that spiral inward to paint a picture of current-day Malaysia. The book is tied together by Isabella Sin, a young woman thrown in jail without trial for writing “controversial” political poems. Other characters include Isa’s grandfather, an immigrant to Malaya who becomes a butler of sorts under colonial masters.

Share a teaser:

            Hunger pinned her to the bunk. Starvation impaled her through the stomach, keeping her down on the thin mattress, resisting the momentum of her feebly raised head. Her neck strained to bring her vision to the requisite level such that she could observe the movement of sun against her prison walls. The sun was her way of telling time and estimating the next delivery of food.
– Where did you get the idea?

  • My great fear as a writer is self-imposed censorship. When I first started writing fiction seriously, it was pointed out to me that I was really holding back from writing about “taboo” topics like sex. I spent a lot of time exploring the roots of this self-repression, and I realized that I had been conditioned by a lifelong atmosphere of state censorship. That realization formed the seeds for Though I Get Home.

– What’s the story behind the title? 

  • The title is from an Emily Dickinson poem (#199 Franklin; #207 Johnson). The poem is complex and full of turns, succeeding in being both emotionally heightened and ambiguous at the same time – which mirrors how I feel about the idea of “home.”

– No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.

  • There is a surprising development in the main character Isa’s story arc (Kirkus called it an “unexpected twist” in a starred review). There are also explorations of Isa’s relationships with her grandfather, her mother, her father and her best friend.

– Tell us about your favourite character.

  • Isabella Sin, the young woman who is thrown in jail without trial for writing “controversial” poems. Her grandfather immigrated to Malaya and served under colonial masters, and her relationship with her parents are strained because of their separation and her preference for dating women. She is dealt a poor hand by fate, but she does her best to add a personal touch to the roles she is given to play.

– Are your character based on real people, or do they come from your imaginations?

  • Government censorship of the arts is a very real threat. In recent years, dancer Bilqis Hijjas was arrested and charged for releasing yellow balloons bearing the words “Free media,” “Democracy,” and “Justice” during an arts festival opening. Cartoonist Zunar has previously been arrested, and is still under travel ban for his political drawings.

 

WRITING PROCESS

– How long did you take to write this book? (You can share about the timeline from drafting to publication)

  • The book took about five years and at least four drafts. I worked full-time as a software engineer (partly to maintain legal status to remain in America), so I could write only on the weekends and in the seams of workdays. Drafts took so long to write that by the time I reached the end of the book, I was already a subtly different writer than the one who wrote the beginning of the draft, and I would have to throw out the beginning to start all over.

 

– What kind of research did you do for this book?

  • Two books by unjustly imprisoned men especially informed my work: Universiti Kedua (“The Second University”) by Kassim Ahmad and Sengsara Kem Kamunting: Kisah Hidup dalam Penjara ISA (“The Tortures of Camp Kamunting: Life Behind Bars in the ISA Prison”) by Saari Sungib. And of course, the daily news coming out of not just Malaysia, but also the U.S. and beyond.

– Are you a plotter or a pantser?

  • I sometimes pretend to be a plotter, but the stories and characters inevitably bring me down endless unexpected paths. I follow them willingly.

– What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?

  • Oddly enough, my favourite part of writing does not always take place when my fingers are on a keyboard or holding a pen. It can be in the shower, or while I am taking a long walk to clear my head – the magical moments when a beautiful sentence assembles on my tongue, or when an unassailable truth about a character makes itself known in my head, and my heart knows it to be real.

– What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?

  • Honestly, the most challenging part is finding enough uninterrupted time to write while working full-time in an office.

– Can you share your writing routine?

  • I write in dribbles before work and on the weekends. If I am feeling particularly inspired, I squeeze in bits of writing time during lunch breaks and after work, even though I am usually drained by then.

– Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?

  • Explore another (short) project. Expand a dream into a scene. Flesh out a “what if” idea into a plot or a flash fiction piece. Flip through a notebook I keep of scattered thoughts, half-formed musings, and sentence fragments.

 

THE WRITER

– Tell us about yourself. 

  • I work as a software engineer coding in C, which is a programming language invented in the early seventies. My husband and I have the world’s most beautiful and softest cat named Meursault (after Camus’ The Stranger). I was born and raised in small-town Malaysia, and I left at 19 for an engineering education in the U.S.

– How did you get into writing?

  • I was a fat kid with a skin condition who was bullied at school (and Buddhist camp). For a while I had no friends. Books were my connection to the world. I want to extend that connection. Books also saved my life, and my hope is that someday my words can do the same for another lonely person.

– What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

  • Reading, of course. Exercise-wise I used to do a lot of weightlifting, and then I started doing more rock climbing. But I dislocated my elbow last year when I fell 15 feet during rock climbing, so I suppose I shouldn’t say it’s something I like to do anymore?

– Apart from novel writing, do you do any other kind(s) of writing?

  • I am also a poet. I have two poetry chapbooks published or forthcoming: In Passing (Anomalous Press, 2019) and deter (dancing girl press, 2013). And my very first longform personal essay will be appearing soon in a magazine!

– Share something about you most people probably don’t know.

  • I used to do weightlifting as a form of exercise. I once deadlifted 245 pounds, which was 2.5 times my body weight. Ah, the glory days.

– Which book influenced you the most?

  • Toni Morrison’s Beloved changed what I thought was possible in writing. It is a masterpiece that depicts extreme brutality with intelligence and utmost tenderness.

 

WHAT’S NEXT

– What are you working on right now?

  • I’m working (for some reason) on two very different novels. One is about intimacy and the tough choices so-called “skilled worker” immigrants have to make, especially when facing health issues. The other I’m not quite ready to talk about yet.

TELL US…

– The book you’re currently reading

  • Jeremy Tiang’s State of Emergency. It’s a tightly woven story about the leftist movement in the immediate aftermath of colonialism in Malaysia and Singapore, told from multiple angles.

    PITCH

Though I Get Home is an intimate exploration of what it means to be an individual and a citizen within a state that wishes to control the narrative, which is a description that fits more countries than we would like to admit in today’s world.

FAVORITE BLURBS

“YZ Chin’s tender and furious debut, Though I Get Home, is a long gaze into a black sky; her characters are defiant enough to find light.” —Catherine Lacey, author of The Answers

“Sharp as an old wound that never heals, these linked stories remind us afresh of what it takes to survive in a brutal, racially fraught society.” —Shirley Geok-lin Lim, author of Among the White Moon Faces

BUY LINKS

 

BIO

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YZ Chin’s debut book of fiction Though I Get Home (Feminist Press, 2018) is the premier winner of the Louise Meriwether First Book Prize. She is also the author of poetry chapbooks In Passing (Anomalous Press, 2019) and deter (dancing girl press, 2013).

Born and raised in Taiping, Malaysia, she now lives in New York. She works by day as a software engineer, and writes by night.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Website: https://www.yzchin.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yzxyz/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/yz_chin
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36393578-though-i-get-home

Previous author interviews:

Pamela Kopfler – BETTER DEAD

Anna Quinn – THE NIGHT CHILD

Clarissa Harwood — IMPOSSIBLE SAINTS

Negeen Papehn — FORBIDDEN BY FAITH


Author ’18 Interviews: Clarissa Harwood

Alrighty, hello and welcome to my blog series dedicated to author interviews for 2018 debut authors! This has been started as a way to support some of my fellow ‘debutantes’ of 2018. Some of the genres may be a little outside while I usually write/talk about here, but each of these I share struck my interest in one way or another.

(See past author interviews at the end of this post!)

Clarissa Harwood’s debut — Impossible Saints — just hit the world on January 2nd. It’s historical fiction, involving all sorts of themes that tickle my interest. You’ll see why below!

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GENERAL

Author Name: Clarissa Harwood

Book Title: Impossible Saints

Book Genre: Historical Fiction

Release Date: January 2, 2018

Publisher: Pegasus Books

THE BOOK

The setting is 1907 England. Lilia Brooke, an agnostic militant suffragette, believes marriage to a clergyman is a fate worse than death. Paul Harris, a quiet, intellectual Anglican priest, is well aware that falling in love with Lilia is incompatible with his ambition to become the next cathedral dean. Lilia and Paul must decide which compromises they’re willing to make and whether their love is worth fighting for.

 

Book Teaser:

“How well do you know Whitechapel?” she asked.

He hesitated.

“Have you ever been there?”

“No,” he admitted, “but I don’t need to go to Hell to know I don’t want to spend time there.”

She laughed. “That’s a terrible analogy.”

“Don’t you think you could better achieve your ends by adding a little prudence to your fearlessness?”

“You sound like my mother.” She tapped her foot impatiently. “Why is it that men’s courage is called bravery but women’s courage is called recklessness—or, even worse, foolishness? If I were a man, would you urge me to be prudent?”

“I certainly would,” he said firmly. “Not everything is a question of sex.”

“That’s where you’re wrong. Everything is a question of sex, but because you’re a man, you don’t see it.”

 

Where did you get the idea?

The genesis of the novel was a scene that popped into my head about twenty years ago: it was as vivid and detailed as if I were watching a movie. I saw a confrontation in a meadow between a studious boy who didn’t know how to play, and a fiery girl pretending to be Jeanne d’Arc, leading her army of brothers. That scene haunted me for many years before I finally gave in and started writing Paul and Lilia’s story. The scene doesn’t appear in the finished novel, but both Paul and Lilia refer to it and remember it as their first meeting.

What’s the story behind the title? (e.g. who came up with it, did your publisher change it, etc.) 

The original title was Marching as to War, but by the time I signed with my agent I had changed it to A Battle Worth Fighting. I was quite attached to the latter title because it’s a direct quotation from the novel, but my editor rightly pointed out that it sounded more like nonfiction than fiction. The final title, Impossible Saints, was the result of a fun brainstorming session with my editor and my agent. While the others enjoyed my contribution of The Suffragette with a Priest on a Train, it didn’t make the cut!

 

No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket

My protagonists’ choice of heroes says a lot about them. Paul’s hero is the Victorian founder of the Oxford Movement (and ultimately Anglo-Catholicism), John Henry Newman. Lilia’s hero is early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, who wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

 

Tell us about your favourite character.

It’s tough to choose a favourite because I love Paul and Lilia equally. I used to tell people that Paul is who I am, and Lilia is who I want to be. This isn’t really true, though, and my husband keeps telling me that I’m Lilia, even though I don’t see her qualities in myself. The novel is told from the points of view of both Lilia and Paul. Because this was the first novel I wrote that includes the point of view of a male character, I was nervous about expressing a man’s attitude and thoughts convincingly, so I deliberately gave Paul my personality (INFJ, for Myers-Briggs fans). Over the course of multiple revisions, he changed and became his own person, but I still identify with many of his strengths and weaknesses. Lilia is much braver and more outspoken than I am. She’s also an extrovert and has much more energy for people than I do. But I admire her and her convictions!

 

If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do? (P.S. Please keep it to PG-13)

I’d be happy to spend a day with either Lilia or Paul, but Paul is harder to get to know and I could see myself becoming frustrated with his reserved nature. The two of us might just sit in opposite corners of a room reading books! It would be more interesting to follow Lilia around, hearing her speeches and watching the effect she has on the people around her: she’s very charismatic and passionate about women’s rights. Maybe she’d let me be her personal assistant!

Are your character based on real people, or do they come from your imaginations?

The only real person who makes an appearance in Impossible Saints is Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), the best-known British militant women’s suffrage organization in the early 20th century. I’ve already mentioned that I based Paul’s personality on my own, and I do rely quite a bit on the Myers-Briggs personality typology when I create characters. If I’m struggling to understand a character’s motivations, I’ll often ask someone with a personality similar to my character’s for help.

WRITING PROCESS

How long did you take to write this book? (You can share about the timeline from drafting to publication)

The novel took about twenty years from conception to publication. The first draft took me a little over a year, but I’ve written so many drafts since then that I’ve lost count. I gave up on it several times and wrote other books, but I kept coming back to it. You can read more about the timeline, including signing with my agent and getting the book deal in this blog post.

 

What kind of research did you do for this book?

As a doctoral student and later an English professor, I specialized in nineteenth-century British literature, so the poetry and fiction of that era always sparks my research and leads me to primary sources. An early influence on Paul’s development as an Anglican priest was Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Towers, with its delightful melodrama surrounding the lives and loves of cathedral clergy. Poets associated with Anglo-Catholicism inspired Paul’s story too, such as Gerard Manley Hopkins and Christina Rossetti. First-person accounts of the suffragettes’ destruction of property, hunger strikes in prison, and the brutal force-feeding they endured, especially Emmeline Pankhurst’s My Own Story and Constance Lytton’s Prison and Prisoners, were especially influential in shaping Lilia’s experiences.

 

What did you remove from this book during the editing process?

Deciding what to include and what to exclude is always difficult, but I’m fortunate to have people with great editorial eyes looking at my work—critique partners, beta readers, my agent, and my editor at Pegasus.  I’ll admit I was dismayed when Laura, my agent, first suggested killing off a fairly major character in Impossible Saints, but Laura has an uncanny ability to detect which elements of a story should be left in and which should be left out, so I knew I could trust her judgment. I was also disappointed when I realized on my own that I had to kill off my only Canadian character and put a New Zealander in his place! It’s obvious to me now that both “murders” improved the novel.

 

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

My natural tendency is to be a plotter, but I’m trying to let my inner pantser come out more often! I never plot a novel in great detail, though. Before I start writing a novel, I usually write a brief synopsis. Writing a synopsis for a finished novel is painful, but writing one early in the process is a helpful exercise to work out what the important turning points and key scenes will be. Of course, the synopsis I write at the beginning bears little relation to the one I write at the end, but that’s as it should be!

What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?

I love revisions, whether I’m doing them on my own after having written several drafts, or whether I’m doing them based on my agent’s or editor’s feedback. There is no “terror of the blank page,” so I don’t experience writer’s block when I’m doing revisions. I already know the story and the characters, so I don’t have to create anything from scratch. Instead, I’m adding layers and depth, polishing something that is already a solid story.

 

What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?

The first draft! How I hate the first draft! I hate not knowing my characters. They aren’t my friends yet, and I miss my old friends from the previous novel. The characters in a first draft are people who’ve dropped out of the sky and are ordering me to tell a story I don’t know.

Can you share your writing routine? (e.g. How do you carve out your writing time? Where do you normally write?)

I’m very fortunate to have flexible hours in my day job (I teach online courses at my local university), so I can work at home most days and organize my time the way I want to. Mornings are my sacred writing time: I try to write for at least an hour or two every morning. But my writing routine is quite different depending on whether I’m writing an early draft or a later one. I give myself a minimum time period when I’m working on a first draft (only ten minutes if I’m really struggling). When I’m working on a later draft or revisions, I give myself a maximum time period: otherwise I miss appointments, meals, and sleep because all I want to do is write!

Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?

Yes, usually when I’m working on a first draft or if I’ve been away from the manuscript too long. I’m a recovering perfectionist, so my first step is usually just reminding myself that it’s ok to “write crap.” In fact, this is how I wrote my entire dissertation! When my writer’s block is really severe, I use the ten-minute minimum time period I mentioned before and let myself make point-form notes if I can’t form complete sentences. Another trick I use for severe writer’s block is stolen from the movie The King’s Speech: to work on the king’s stutter, his speech therapist had him shout out swear words to loosen him up. I do this with writing if I’m really stuck: I just write long lists of swear words!

 

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I wrote two novels as a teenager that were awful. I rewrote one of them in my twenties, but it was still pretty awful. I’ll call those my three practice novels. Then I signed with my agent based on a finished novel that didn’t sell, and I recently finished a sort of sequel to Impossible Saints. That’s two finished unpublished novels. I also have two unfinished first drafts of new novels.

Do you have any writing quirks?

Ha! Is there a writer who doesn’t have writing quirks? I look like a maniac when I’m revising a novel because I often talk to myself loudly and gesticulate wildly. Fortunately I’m usually alone at home when I do this, but not always. I also do my best writing when I’m “inside the purr machine,” which is on my sofa with one cat on either side of me and another behind my head.

THE WRITER

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love reading, watching movies, going for long walks, traveling, and making snow women.

 

Apart from novel writing, do you do any other kind(s) of writing?

I’ve done my share of academic writing as an English professor, but these days most of my academic writing is making comments on student papers. My comments are usually pretty dull, but occasionally I feel inspired to write things such as “Your essay is like a garden with some lovely flowers but far too many weeds.”

 

Share something about you most people probably don’t know.

Songs by the 70’s Swedish pop group ABBA are the soundtrack to my life.

 

WHAT’S NEXT

What are you working on right now?

A historical novel about a Victorian woman mountain climber.

 

What’s your favourite writing advice?

Don’t wait for inspiration. Inspiration comes after you start writing, not before. The best writing advice I’ve heard for writer’s block is “butt in chair” and “lower your expectations.”

TELL US…

The book you’re currently reading

I always have several books on the go. This week they are a nonfiction book about scandalous Victorian court cases, Peter Pan because I’m teaching it this week in my Children’s Literature course, and Song of a Captive Bird, a novel about the 1960’s Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad that I’m reviewing for the Historical Novel Society.

THE PITCH

Give us a short pitch of your novel

England, 1907. Lilia Brooke bursts into Paul Harris’s orderly life, shattering his belief that women are gentle creatures who need protection. Lilia wants to change women’s lives by advocating for the vote, free unions, and contraception. Paul, an Anglican priest, has a big ambition of his own: to become the youngest dean of St. John’s Cathedral. Lilia doesn’t believe in God, but she’s attracted to Paul’s intellect, ethics, and dazzling smile.

As Lilia finds her calling in the militant Women’s Social and Political Union, Paul is increasingly driven to rise in the church. They can’t deny their attraction, but they know they don’t belong in each other’s worlds. Paul and Lilia must reach their breaking points before they can decide whether their love is worth fighting for.

Give one or two of your favourite blurbs.

“The perspective is refreshing in that the church is not the villain, nor are all the suffragettes cardboard cutouts. One interesting aspect is the novel’s exploration of the contrast in ideologies between the more conservative, peaceful suffrage groups and the militant, property-destroying Women’s Social and Political Union. This parallels the spectrum in today’s protest-heavy atmosphere, lending the novel contemporary social relevance in addition to its romantic plotline.” – Booklist

“Harwood brings us vividly and convincingly into the past, as we see the whirlwind of social changes in early twentieth century England through the lives of two passionate and authentic characters.” – Jessica Brockmole, internationally bestselling author of ‘Letters from Skye’

BUY LINKS

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Impossible-Saints-Novel-Clarissa-Harwood/dp/1681776243

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/impossible-saints-clarissa-harwood/1126706953

Chapters Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-CA/home/search/?keywords=impossible%20saints%20harwood

 

Clarissa_Harwood Authors18

Photo credit: Anita Watkins Photography

BIO

Clarissa Harwood holds a PhD in English Literature with a specialization in Nineteenth-Century British Literature. In addition to being a proud member of the Historical Novel Society, Clarissa is a part-time university instructor and full-time grammar nerd who loves to explain the difference between restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses. She lives in London, Ontario.

Social media:

Website: www.clarissaharwood.com
Facebook: @ClarissaHarwoodAuthor
Twitter: @clarissaharwood
Goodreads: Clarissa Harwood

 

Previous author interviews:

Pamela Kopfler – BETTER DEAD

Anna Quinn – THE NIGHT CHILD


Debut ’18 Author Interviews: Anna Quinn

Welcome to my new blog series dedicated to author interviews for 2018 debut authors! This has been started as a way to support some of my fellow ‘debutantes’ of 2018. Some of the genres may be a little outside while I usually write/talk about here, but each of these I share struck my interest in one way or another.

(See past author interviews at the end of this post!)

Anne Quinn is coming out with a Psychological/Literary Fiction titled THE NIGHT CHILD which is coming out tomorrow. I was intrigued by all of it — the premise, the concept, and the cover. It’s definitely something I need to get my hands on.

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GENERAL

– Author Name: Anna Quinn

– Book Title: The Night Child

– Book Genre: Psychological/Literary Fiction

– Release Date: January 30th, 2018

– Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

THE BOOK

Please describe what the book is about.

The Night Child is the story of Nora Brown, a young mother and high-school English teacher, whose unremembered childhood trauma returns to threaten her sanity in the form of a child named Margaret. This exquisitely nuanced and profoundly intimate novel examines the fragile line between past and present—it is a story of resilience, hope, and the capacity of the mind, body, and spirit to save itself despite all odds.
– Share a teaser from your book.

“Her past—a malevolent undertow she cannot escape from simply by swimming parallel to and waiting for release; no, this is a force demanding a surrender she cannot allow.”

Where did you get the idea?

The Night Child was born from my memoir. When I finished writing the memoir, deeply cathartic as it was, it still wasn’t the story I most wanted to write, but I wasn’t able to articulate why. Weeks later another story began to push up, a story with similar themes to the memoir (identity, power imbalance, betrayal, resilience, hope) a story that wanted to go beyond my singular experience—beyond the way I’d been telling it. I realized the problem was in the form—the memoir wanted to breathe, break free, it wanted to be a novel.

What’s the story behind the title?

The original title was SPLIT, but in 2016 a movie came out with the same title and similar themes to my book. And to make it worse, the film perpetuated harmful stereotypes of mental illness instead of countering them. I was devastated. I told my publisher I wanted to change the title and they agreed. The new title, The Night Child, came to me in a dream soon after, and it encapsulates one of the primary characters, a child named Margaret—who only appeared at night. The good news is I love the new title even more than the old one.

– No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.

Literature shaped Nora’s identity as a feminist, teacher and mother.

The following books are mentioned in The Night Child:

  • To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  • The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown
  • The Tempest by William Shakespeare
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • The Crabapple Fairy by Cicely Mary Barker
  • The Book of Light by Lucille Clifton
  • Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung
  • Lord of The Flies by William Golding
  • Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton

 

Tell us about your favorite character.

I love Margaret. She is a fierce six-year old who attempts to save the protagonist, Nora, and her daughter, Fiona, from a terrible danger. Margaret’s courageousness both gutted and inspired me beyond measure.
If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?

I would love to spend time with Margaret—I’d take her out for strawberry ice cream, the local bookstore, buy her a beautiful red coat and maybe the kid version of Doc Martens.
Are your characters based on real people, or do they come from your imagination?

As with almost any work of fiction, the characters are composites of people I’ve met in my life, deepened and expanded by my imagination.

 

WRITING PROCESS


How long did you take to write this book? (You can share about the timeline from drafting to publication)

I wrote The Night Child in only a year, but that’s because I used a great deal of content from my previously written memoir. It took another year to edit The Night Child, and yet another year to call up the courage to submit it. I queried twenty-four agents and within a month, received nine requests for partial manuscripts and three requests for full manuscripts. Soon after, two agents expressed interest in representation—one NY agent, and Gordon Warnock from Fuse Literary in San Francisco. The NY agent wanted significant developmental changes that involved sensationalizing certain scenes for commercial purposes, and Gordon loved the book enthusiastically as it was, so I accepted his offer. Nine months later he called to say Blackstone Publishing had offered a fabulous contract. After an additional three months of editing with Blackstone, my book was ready for publication and will be released Jan. 30th, 2018.

 

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I used notes from my own personal history of dissociation, and spent hundreds of hours reading about psychiatric therapies, and interviewing psychiatrists and people who had experienced, or were experiencing dissociation.

 

What did you remove from this book during the editing process?

I’m a fairly spare writer (my poet husband calls me a haikuist novelist) and I often need to elaborate rather than cut. However, the editing exercise that helps most regarding cutting words is to read the entire manuscript aloud underlining all the places that cause me to falter or lose attention. Later, I go back and either cut those sentences or rewrite the passages. I also used Microsoft’s Word Usage and Frequency add-in, to find repeated words. The words “actually”, “shrugged” and “sometimes” were my top three most overused words. I also removed an excerpt of Hemingway’s, Clean Well-Lighted place because my publisher and I agreed it would be too much effort to secure the copyright from Hemingway Estates as they are known to be a pretty tough crowd.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?

 One of the most exhilarating things about writing is the mystery and complexity of it, so while I have a sense of big what if questions when I begin, I allow my imagination free rein during the first draft— I become a combination of interviewer, recorder and witness. I observe my characters, follow them around, ask them things along the way like: What do you want? Why does this matter so much to you? What are you looking for? What’s standing in your way? What are you afraid of? and What next? Over time they lead me into scenes, into answers, and a story emerges—the structure revealing itself as I write.
What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?

Revision thrills me—re-visioning a draft from a critical perspective, listening to the sounds of language, playing with rhythm sentence by sentence, magnifying the abstract for an  unambiguous detail, cutting irrelevancies (even if it means pages and pages) adding complications, and creating metaphor completely absorbs me. The first few drafts allow me to discover the story—what it’s really about, where the vulnerability of being human lives. Revision allows me to clarify and deepen the emotional truth of it.

 
What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?

Finishing a piece. But really, is any story ever finished?
Can you share your writing routine?

Now that my boys are grown and I run my own business, I’m fortunate that I can create my own schedule. I’ve designated Mondays and Tuesdays as sacred writing days and I sequester myself in my writing studio—a little tugboat with horrible internet access. I write from 7 a.m. until midnight each day, only stopping to take an occasional walk, eat something, or shoo away the gulls who like to crack clams open on the boat roof. The rest of the week I write at home for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening.

 

Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?

Ha, I decided long ago to reframe writer’s block. When the words don’t come I tell myself  I’m in a receptive phase. I’m not saying I don’t sometimes panic (I do!) but it definitely takes the pressure off to trust that my words and ideas just need time to sort themselves out. Sometimes it’s realizing that I’ve been asking my characters the wrong questions. Taking long walks, taking photographs, practicing yoga, listening to music or reading, eventually opens up spaces within me where words once again find their way to the page.
– If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Write whatever you want and write it without apology—there are no forbidden, unspeakable, illicit, feelings or experiences in writing.
– How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have an unpublished memoir that will stay that way, half of a poetry chapbook, a rough draft of a book called “Book Stories” about strange/cool/funny things that happen at the bookstore, one almost completed first draft of a new novel and three pages of a third novel.

– Do you have any writing quirks?

I have to write the first draft of anything in long hand with a Uniball 207 pen.

 

THE WRITER

– Tell us about yourself.

I’m an introverted extrovert—I can be sociable, but it seems for every hour I socialize I need hours of solitude to recover. Running a bookstore is like attending an all-day bookish cocktail party, and though I love placing great books into new hands, I do limit my time at the desk. I also teach workshops, so I pace myself there too, keeping my teaching time to a couple of hours, a few days of the week. I’m married to a poet who understands me, and gives me plenty of space and support. I also have three grown boys I love to hang out with whenever I can.


– How did you get into writing?

My mother taught me to write when I was four. She taught me words create worlds and that imagination is everything, and I believed her then, and still do today. I was fortunate also, to have teachers along the way who encouraged me to keep writing. One particular teacher taught me that if I didn’t like the story I was in, then I should write myself into a new one—her words pretty much saved my life.

 

– Which book influenced you the most?

Ach, there are so many. My top ten books of all time are:

To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison

Ariel by Sylvia Plath

Look At Me by Anita Brookner

Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson

Bluets by Maggie Nelson

Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch

Oranges are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

The Bone People by Keri Hulme

 

WHAT’S NEXT

 

– What are you working on right now? I’m working on a novel set in the Pacific Northwest, but that’s all I can say for now.


– What’s your favourite writing advice?

Write what you want without apology.

Participate mightily in your writing community.

Be extraordinarily gentle with yourself, always.

TELL US…


– The book you’re currently reading:

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tennant. Achingly dark and beautiful.

– How do you feel about The Night Child being compared to the Bell Jar?

Completely honored. Both stories are about a woman’s descent into mental illness, her breakdown, and attempts toward recovery. Both protagonists, Esther in the Bell Jar, and Nora in The Night Child, had achieved academic success and were raised in a typical middle-class family and yet things weren’t as they seemed—both have a disordered identity. Both Esther and Nora offer raw perspectives about the experience of a breakdown. The Bell Jar opened up conversations about mental illness and I hope my book does the same.

Give one or two of your favorite blurbs!

”A powerful, beautifully written, transformative novel…’Must-read’ is not a phrase I use often; I am using it now: you must read this book!” –Garth Stein, New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

“Packed with riveting detail and radical emotional honesty, motored by a powerful (what I think of as a “life depends upon it”) authorial voice, this book does at least fifteen things novels are not supposed to be able to do.  I won’t name them, but I will tell you that it will stand you up against yourself in all the best ways possible. You will love this night child, and she will remind you to love the night child inside you. I can’t remember a novel in which I have been more deeply emotionally invested. “-Pam Houston, author of Cowboys Are My Weakness and Contents May Have Shifted

And now… buy links!

www.writersworkshoppe.com

https://www.amazon.com/Night-Child-Novel-Anna-Quinn

AUTHOR BIO

anna author picture .jpg

Anna Quinn is a writer, teacher, and the owner of The Writers’ Workshoppe and Imprint Books in Port Townsend, WA. She has thirty years of experience teaching and leading writing workshops across the country. Her writing has appeared in various literary journals and texts, including Literature Circles and Response, Practical Aspects of Authentic Assessment, Instructor, Tidepools, IS Literary Magazine, Manifest-Station, Lit-Fest Anthology, 2016, and Washington 129 Anthology. Anna’s first novel, “The Night Child”, was acquired in a world right’s deal by Blackstone Publishing, and will be published Jan. 30th, 2018.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Website: annamquinn.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anna.quinn.9277

Twitter: @annaquinn55

Instagram: annaquinnpt

Pinterest: annaquinn5480

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35390279-the-night-child

 

And there we are. I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into Anna Quinn and her debut coming out (tomorrow!)!

Previous author interviews:

Pamela Kopfler


Omens of the Moon – Part 4: “End of the World Party

So you might have noticed that fellow Glass House Press author KristaLyn A. Vetovich have been embarking on a story swap journey, where each of us alternate writing a section of a story each week.

We were originally inspired because of what’s happening with the moon on January 31st of this year: it’ll be a full moon, a blue moon, a supermoon, and a lunar eclipse. Well, KristaLyn’s and my imaginations couldn’t handle all the delight. We had to write a story about it.

We’ve been building off of each other’s pieces this whole month, and — wow, time has flown! — we’ll each write our own endings on the 31st of January… just in time for you to have your own moon adventure.

If you’ve missed the previous segments, go catch up on them right here:

Part One: Gasp! The beginning! The start! The liftoff!

Part Two: Intrigue begins… mwahahahah. (Also, annoying siblings.)

Part Three: Should we believe it? Can we believe it? Do we want to believe it?

… and here we are! Part Four:

 

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“Boy, I am teaching you how to clean after this,” Sophia declared at 1:30 in the morning, stumbling through the door after her shift at the hospital. Trevor came to his feet, the only thing in his head what had happened at the dock.

“You said clean it, not how well,” he answered hurriedly. Passive-aggressive sarcasm was his default mode.

“Don’t be a dick.”

He felt a faint twinge of guilt, pulled into the present as he realized how exhausted she looked.

“All right, well,” she said, throwing her purse and coat across the couch, which was probably once black, but was now more of a grey. “We’ve got half an hour until people arrive.”

“What?”

“Party. Friends. Fellow interns. Didn’t I tell you they were coming over?” She batted her eyelashes.

“Uhm, no.” Trevor felt a little hostile, shrinking in on himself at the idea of having to face people after the day he’d had. He wasn’t about to tell a room full of people what he’d seen in the water.

“Well, they are. And they’re cooking since I’m hosting, which is fabulous, because Maria makes effing amazing carnitas.”

“What is the occasion?”

Sophia snorted, pulling bleach out of a cupboard Trevor didn’t even realize existed. “The end of the world, of course.”

Oh. Right. The eclipse. His mouth dried a little. He’d managed to forget that phenomenon in the face of the water… creature.

They couldn’t be connected. No, they weren’t. These were two separate things –

“You. Here’s the mop. Floor. It’s sticky, and I have no idea why, so it needs to not be sticky anymore.”

Trevor had a mop and two different large bottles of something promptly tossed in his direction, half of which he dropped. Thankfully, nothing broke. Trevor juggled the items and stared at them for a minute.

“Do you need a lesson in mopping?” Sophia put her hands on her hips.

Trevor clenched his teeth for a minute before he made them unclench. “Yesssss.”

Sophia was silent for a long minute, until her lips twitched and then she broke out in one of her signature grins. “Little bro, I am going to teach you so much.”

 

His sister became a whirlwind when cleaning, which made it impossible to interject anything outside of what she was doing. Trevor beat down impatience. His stomach felt like it had a boulder in it, taking an enormous amount of effort to force it up his throat into words.

“Why are there so many damn cleaning products?” he muttered instead.

“Because germs are naughty,” she responded from across the room, somehow hearing him.

She was currently balancing on a chair dusting something up high. Who the hell cared if there was dust up there?

She finally became quiet, after barfing up everything that had happened at the ER that day. It had been a madhouse, like usual on the full moon, but Trevor had started sweating when she’d told him there had been a much higher rate of water related injuries.

Maybe she was quiet because she was thinking about what they’d seen last night, too.

“I went to the dock today,” Trevor blurted.

“Oh! God, I’m an awful sister, I forgot to ask: How was your day? Besides not cleaning.”

The boulder in his gut got stuck in his esophagus and made his voice weird. “I saw something.”

Out of his periphery, he saw his sister turn to look at him.

“What kind of something?”

“Like the thing with fins we saw last night – ”

There was a knock on the door. Sophia’s attention snapped to the door and back to him, expression serious. “Let me get her set up and we’ll talk, okay?”

Swallowing hard, he nodded.

Sophia danced to the door and jerked it open. “Woman! You’re early. I’m still in my scrubs.”

“And you’re damn cute in ‘em!”

“Fawnia! You’re here too!”

Trevor scrambled to try to shove cleaning products away as two women – both stocky, one brunette and the other black-haired and Hispanic-looking – dressed in sweaters and leggings came into the small kitchen, one carrying a bag and the other carrying a crock pot. They were talking a mile a minute as Sophia trailed behind them – how the hell did they have this energy at almost 2 in the morning? – but both stopped as they saw him.

“You didn’t tell us the brother would be here!”

Both women deposited their items on the counter and offered him their hands, beaming.

“Maria.”

“Fawnia.”

“… Trevor.”

“We’ve heard so much about you – I know, very cliché – but it’s wonderful to finally meet you!” Fawnia exclaimed.

Sophia smirked, leaning in the doorway to the kitchen behind them. Great. She’d been talking about him. And knowing her, they probably knew horribly sordid little details about him, too. Sophia didn’t view things with the same level of embarrassment as he did.

“All right, I’ll get you guys set up and then we both need to change and fresh up,” Sophia said, giving Trevor a meaningful look.

His gut cramped. He stuffed his hands into his jeans and tried not to squirm with impatience as Sophia tried to extract herself from her doctor friends. She finally did, glancing at him as she headed down the short hallway towards her bedroom.

There was another knock on the front door. Sophia looked at Trevor with resignation and went to open it.

 

Friend after friend arrived, until the small apartment was filled with bodies, heat, and the smell of good food. Also: alcohol. That came out, which was more than a little interesting to Trevor.

When Sophia did manage to get away to change her clothes, two of her friends followed, talking, so she wasn’t alone and Trevor couldn’t talk to her.

Trevor also had his own issues extracting himself from her friends: as the new addition to the obviously close group, and apparently his sister’s favorite thing to gossip about, he was the center of attention.

He was uncomfortable. But he was also the center of attention of a group of very intelligent, driven, and compassionate women – and they weren’t hard on the eyes. So being straight and, well, you know, interested, he decided a little discomfort was okay. He knew nothing would happen with any of them, but that didn’t stop the pleasure of having so much female attention.

“Are you interested in pharmacy? My dad is head of the one a few hours south of here – I bet I could get you behind the scenes,” one of them said – Carmen? He thought? She had light brown hair and was cute as hell – and towered over him at 6 feet tall.

“I don’t know… that’s the problem, I have no idea…” How could he decide what to put all his energy into when he didn’t even know what he cared about?

“You need to explore! Make your mark! Figure shit out!” Maria pushed another glass in his hand, the second Spanish Coffee she’d handed him. His eyes darted around for Sophia, but she was currently miming something while the two women around her were in stitches of laughter. He had no idea what was happening: she looked ridiculous.

They were mixing all their drinks with caffeine, as some of them were going on 24 hours awake. He downed half of the scalding liquid quickly: it was making the boulder in his stomach go away, and he was damn okay with that.

“It’s starting, it’s starting!” someone bellowed.

Trevor almost dumped hot liquid all over his lap.

Everyone crowded over to the sliding doors that opened to the balcony. This building was freaking archaic, with terrible water pressure and sometimes cockroaches and a hot water heater that went out at times, but Sophia loved this apartment because of the huge balcony and view.

There was about a mile of quaint ocean town between Sophia’s place and the ocean that stretched out like a giant, dark blanket. Above the dark waters, the full moon hung; along its edge, a sliver of rust was forming.

Which god is swallowing the moon? Trevor wondered, before he mentally shook himself. He’d been listened to too much folklore podcasts today. Er. Yesterday, since it was technically the wee-hours of the next day.

He swayed a little where he stood. Haaaa, he needed to eat.

“Okay, that’s cool, this is going to take a while. Food time!” Maria clapped her hands together.

Trevor startled at the abrupt return of conversation that filled the apartment, not realizing how quiet it had been a second before.

 

It turns out, the eclipse takes hours to occur. While the eclipse technically started at almost 3 in the morning (their time anyway), the moon wouldn’t be at full eclipse until almost five. He hadn’t stayed up this late in a while, but between the conversation and the coffee, he wasn’t having too much of a problem. He perched on the armrest of the couch and stuffed his face with food (and another Spanish Coffee – why the hell were these things so good?), pretending he wasn’t nervous as his leg bounced up and down erratically.

Then, somehow, it was almost five in the morning. Sweat broke out on Trevor’s back as he stood on the balcony and stared up at the ruddy monstrosity in the sky. Did the moon seem bigger? It seemed bigger. Technically, a casual observer couldn’t tell that Supermoons were closer, the difference was so minimal. It shouldn’t seem bigger.

Ridiculous name. ‘Supermoon.’

The crimson crept, inching… inching… inching towards completion. He felt his heart race, the silence around him deafening as every eye in the room was riveted. It was so slow – was the moon completely red now? Now? Now? Every time he thought it was, he refocused and saw another tiny sliver of white.

What was going to happen when it was completely red?

In horror, Trevor realized he actually thought something was going to happen. Nothing is going to happen! It was just animals in the water and conspiracy theories and –

An ear-splitting noise exploded in the room.

Trevor yelped, bumping into the railing of the balcony as he jumped. He wasn’t the only one: Sophia’s friends jerked, a few swearing.

It took him a second to realize that his darling sister Sophia had her head bent backwards and she was howling up at the sky.

“What the f – ”

“We have to scare it away!” Sophia cackled. “We have to scare away whatever is swallowing the moon!”

She lifted her face to the sky again and howled at the top of her lungs.

“Jesus Christ,” Trevor muttered, his heart trying to declare mutiny in his chest. Laughter bubbled around him. He wondered how long his sister was going to keep this up –

Maria cupped her hands around her mouth and bellowed at the moon.

“Oh for – ”

Fawnia and Carmen immediately joined in.

“Oh god.”

Trevor covered his eyes with his hand as Sophia and all her friends began to howl, raising a racket the likes of which would probably wake the neighborhood. He shook his head, not able to believe this was happening right now.

His lips started switching. Hilarity bubbled up before he could stop it, and his shoulders quivered with laughter.

Sophia wacked him on the shoulder without saying a word.

“Aaaaooooooo,” he said half-heartedly.

Maria bumped him with her shoulder, repeatedly, with surprisingly violent nudges.

“All right, all right!” Trevor cupped his hands around his mouth, lifted his head, and howled at the moon at the top of his lungs.

Laughter broke out around him, followed by a cacophony of sound that made him laugh so hard he couldn’t breathe. Shivers raced over his skin, down his spine, elation filling his stomach until he felt light-headed.

Trevor howled until he threatened to make himself pass out, leaning against the railing and gasping for oxygen.

They all began to fall silent, one by one. Only breathing and occasional giggles broke the quiet. Sophia was next him, her eyes riveted to the sky; as he watched, her expression melted, turned serious. Trevor felt his skin prickle, something shivering down his spine.

He looked up… just as moon turned blood red.

 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Hope you enjoyed this segment! Man, it’s been really fun to watch these characters fumble around. Tune in next Wednesday as KristaLyn and I both write our conclusions to the mystery (it’s going to be so fun to see where we both end up!). 

Oh! And in case you’re interested, we both have novels coming out Fall of this year. You might want to hang around and see what they’re all about. (The best way to keep updated on me is to follow my blog or sign up for my newsletter here; you get goodies and exclusive sneak peaks!) You should definitely head over to KristaLyn’s place to see what she’s up to… 


Debut ’18 Authors Interviews: Pamela Kopfler

I mentioned last week that I was starting a new blog series, and here it begins! To help my fellow 2018 debut-ers, I’m implementing a new blog series dedicated to author interviews which intersect with my genres or interest, or just plain sound interesting. Some of the genres may be a little outside while I usually write/talk about here, but each one I post struck my interest in one way or another… and I decided I must share.

Pamela Kopfler has a cozy mystery that just released, titled BETTER DEAD. Cozy mysteries may not be my usual style of reading, but the premise sounded so funny and interesting I decided I’d better read it anyway. It’s sitting on my kindle right now, and I’m pretty excited to start it!

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A feisty B & B owner believes her cheatin’ husband deserves to choke on his divorce papers and spend eternity roasting in hell after nearly bankrupting her Louisiana bed and breakfast. At least, she’s half-right when he turns up dead, but she’s dead wrong when she accidentally calls him back from the grave. Unfortunately, he has unfinished business. Unless she wants to be stuck with her ghostly ex forever, she has to wedge him through the pearly gates by cleaning up the mess he left behind—a smuggling ring he started behind her back at her B&B. Now she has thirty days to solve her not-so-dearly-departed’s murder or she’s stuck with him for life. Or worse, she may be doing life.

TEASER

Holly Davis wanted a divorce, not a funeral.

The young widow eased her desk drawer open and removed two files. The first held the divorce papers her husband hadn’t lived to receive. The second was filled with every reason to divorce him in full-color, glossy prints. She strolled to the fireplace of her bed and breakfast and dropped both files onto the cold ashes.

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

Where did you get the idea for your book?

The inspiration for BETTER DEAD came during a writers’ retreat at Nottoway Plantation in Louisiana. The organizer challenged the authors to write a ghost story in the spirit of Lord Byron’s challenge to Mary Shelly to write a supernatural story at a retreat in 1816. Shelly gave us the classic Frankenstein. Pamela twisted Frankenstein and added a funny bone when she remembered a lament of many women going through divorce. It would have been easier if he’d just died. But what if he did die and he came back as a ghost? That thought sparked the premise for BETTER DEAD.
What’s the story behind the title? (e.g. who came up with it, did your publisher change it, etc.)

The title came with the inspiration for the Better Dead. Titles always come to me with the premise. I’m not sure I could write a book without a title. I’d feel all wishy-washy about it. A title is like a rudder steering the story and keeping it from drifting in the wrong direction. Thank goodness my publisher liked the title too.
No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.

Everyone knows everyone’s business in a small town but not their secrets.
Tell us about your favourite character.

Ha! Just one? Impossible. Burl, the not-so-dearly-departed, was so much fun to write. I had to keep reminding myself he was dead. Miss Alice almost sat on my shoulder and fed me lines. Of course, Holly’s nose for trouble kept the me busy. Nope. I can’t pick just one.
If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?

That’s another tough one. I’d take Holly on a road trip to New Orleans and try to keep up with her. If we made it back alive, I’d have another story to tell.

 

Are your character based on real people, or do they come from your imaginations?

All of my characters are conjured up from that child within that still pretends.

 

WRITING PROCESS

How long did you take to write this book? (You can share about the timeline from drafting to publication)

It took seventy-eight days to draft Better Dead. The revision took much longer, but I don’t remember how long. Revision is something that is never really complete.

 

What kind of research did you do for this book?

Oh, it was grueling…I visited many historic homes that had been converted to beautiful bed and breakfasts, sipped lots of cocktails, and ate some of the best southern style food on earth. Don’t pitty me too much though. (Excuse me while I bless my own heart before you do.) Actually, that part of the research was serious fun! Other than that fun B & B research, my family has orders to bleach bit my computer to hide my search history.

 

What did you remove from this book during the editing process?

I cut ten thousand words. I had a subplot that my editor felt needed to go and she was right. I hope to add some snips from the editing room floor to my newsletter. I really did cut my darlings.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Both. I have a general idea of the whole story and an opening when I put my keys on the keyboard. After I get the opening down, I write a short synopsis just for me. As the pages pile up, sometimes the plot changes because I’ve found a better twist, so I go with that.
What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?

Revising. It’s like makeup. Everyone looks better with a little lipstick on.
What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?

Starting, hands down. Once I am writing the real world fades away, and I’m in a timeless place where the story comes to life.
Can you share your writing routine? (e.g. How do you carve out your writing time? Where do you normally write?)

It’s not pretty, but it works. First, I’m easily distracted, so write alone in a room, any room. I face a wall and listen to Bach or ambient sound on and wear noise-cancelling headphones. All notifications are turned off on my computer, and I don’t answer calls except designated rings. My best writing times are first thing in the morning or late at night.
Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?

I think writer’s block is fear and almost every writer has that, even if they don’t admit it. I pull up my Kevlar panties and tell fear to suck it up because no one is going to die if I write a bad page. The power is in my bowed up pinkie finger. Backspace, baby, and that bad page never happened.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Write like you know what you’re doing and one day you will.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have one dusty novel rotting away on my hard drive. I call that one my training wheel novel and it will never make a two-wheel track to publication. I have one women’s fiction complete that I hope to home soon. My work in progress, Downright Dead, is book two of the B & B Mystery series coming later in 2018. Book three, Hog Wild Dead, is a twinkle in my eye.
Do you have any writing quirks?

Yes, but I’m, um, recovering. I have a sticky note compulsion that I’m trying to break. I also often say the dialogue aloud. That’s another reason I write alone in a room. Mumbling about murder in a coffee shop could get me in a world of trouble.

 

THE WRITER

Tell us about yourself.

My husband and I have a blended family of five, which is sometimes a circus and sometimes wonderful, but always a blessing. I count my days on earth by the lives dogs adopted. My current fur baby is a solid black standard poodle who thinks he’s the sixth child. Between you and me, he is.
How did you get into writing?

I took the scenic route, as I often do. I was hosting a home and garden show on a local TV station, telling Southern anecdotal stories on a local NPR affiliate when I met Mr. Deluxe, my current husband. After a year of our long distance relationship, he popped the big question, but someone had to move. That someone was me. The only marketable skill that survived the move was my ability to write, so write I did.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Read a good book. Walk my big black poodle. Try a new restaurant or an old favorite.  Paint. Cook. Decorate. Garden. Watch the Tigers or the Saints play. Travel. I don’t get to do these things as much as I’d like, but each interest fills the well that spills out stories.
Apart from novel writing, do you do any other kind(s) of writing?

I write an occasional blog and have a non-fiction book simmering in the background.
Share something about you most people probably don’t know.

At an air show once, I was invited to fly in an old World War II double-winged, two-seater plane that had been used to carry injured soldiers in its belly. I jumped at the chance, and it was so worth it. There was no pressurization and I felt like Snoopy and the Red Barron as the wind whipped through my hair.

WHAT’S NEXT

What are you working on right now?

Downright Dead, book two in my B & B Spirits Mystery series.
What’s your favourite writing advice or quote?

“We are all apprentices in a craft where on one ever becomes a master.”

Ernest Hemingway

 

Give us a short pitch of your novel

Have you ever heard a woman going through a divorce say, “It would have been easier if he’d died?” Have you said it? Thought it? But what if he did die?

Better Dead is a romp of a mystery about a B & B owner who wants a divorce. She gets a funeral and thirty days to solve her not-so-dearly-departed’s murder or she’s stuck with his ghost for life.
What are your favourite blurbs for BETTER DEAD?

Better Dead is written with an incredible Southern twist, as charming as the author herself! Page turning, fun, and filled with suspense–and very unique characters! As the saying goes, a “keeper,” and just the beginning of the series!”

Heather Graham, New York Times Bestselling Author

 

Better Dead was impossible to put down—a sassy Southern romp of a read.” ~~ Susan M. Boyer, USA TODAY Bestselling author of the Liz Talbot Mystery series.

 

“Better Dead is brisk, witty, full of unexpected happenings and wonderfully real characters. Pamela Kopfler has given us a fresh new heroine in bright and funny Holly Davis, deftly mixing homicide and haunting with Louisiana charm.” Carol J. Perry, Author of The Witch City Mysteries.

 

And without further ado… BETTER DEAD buy links! 

Amazon: https://amazon.com/author/pamelakopfler

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Pamela+Kopfler/_/N-8q8

BAM: http://www.booksamillion.com/search?type=author&query=Pamela+Kopfler&id=7071813415350

Target: https://www.target.com/p/better-dead-paperback-pamela-kopfler/-/A-53068142

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/pamela-kopfler/id1246309242?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?Query=Pamela%20Kopfler&ac=1&acp=pamela%20kopfler&ac.author=Pamela%20Kopfler

 

BIO

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Pamela Kopfler is a novelist, Southern-fried and sassy. She writes award-winning humorous mysteries with a kick of Southern sass. Her debut novel, BETTER DEAD, is the first in her B & B Spirits mystery series, to be followed by DOWNRIGHT DEAD, and HOG WILD DEAD. (Kensington Books) She is a four-time Golden Heart® finalist and a Daphne du Maurier award winner.

She can stir up a roux, mix a cocktail, and loves swapping stories. Putting words on the page keeps her alligator mouth from overloading her hummingbird heinie in real life. She marks her time on earth by the lives of the dogs she has loved­­––who often show up in her stories.

Pamela lives in South Louisiana where the spirits are restless, the food is spicy, and the living is divine.

For lagniappe (a little something extra), sign up for her newsletter at https://pamelakopfler.com ~~ Unique cocktail recipes, finger-licking-good Southern recipes, and other goodies.

Website:  https://pamelakopfler.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Pamela-Kopfler-Author-1976343685981613/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/pamelakopfler
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pamelakopfler/
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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16661977.Pamela_Kopfler