Spotlight on Nia Forrester and her new release, FOUR

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Some of you already know that Nia Forrester is one of my favorite authors. I 1-click all of her books and I’m never disappointed. As soon as I found out she was releasing FOUR, I made sure to pre-order it. Get to know Nia and FOUR.

Screen Shot 2018-10-06 at 09.39.12When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer? 

I don’t know that writing begins as a realization. I just know that I always have. From the time I could string together coherent sentences and write them down, that’s what I did. I remember writing something like poetry when I was about four. Something about raindrops and the sounds they made. I only remember because I had an aunt who was so impressed, she acted as though I’d split the atom and kept reciting the poem to everyone and saying how amazing it was. I guess that makes her my first reviewer. 

Which authors have been your literary inspiration? 

Some writers I admire are Donna Tartt for her keen insights into human nature; Anne Rice for her rich detail, Agatha Christie for her tightly woven plots, Stephen King for his ability to use simple almost mundane prose to convey situations that are anything but mundane and also his ability to create equally fascinating characters as plots. And more recently, I’ve enjoyed Lisa Jewell and Peter Swanson’s mystery suspense novels.  My classic favorites are Nella Larsen and Zora Neale Hurston. My by-far favorite independent author is Jacinta Howard, because she doesn’t just share characters and their stories but portrays a world that’s rarely seen in contemporary fiction – young, Black, talented, and socially-conscious hipsters (who sometimes fall in love with each other).

What’s a typical writing day like for you? Could you describe it for us?

I wake up thinking about writing, and where the characters and story were when I last left them. I start counting in my head all my other obligations for the day, and the hours I can spend writing. I think about the characters as I shower (which is where some really great ideas come, interestingly) and when I get out, I may scribble down the thoughts that came to me. I work a day job, so I don’t write (much) while there. But when I get home, I go immediately to my computer and turn it on. I set the intention to write, even if I don’t get many words down. But on average, I think I get about 2,000—3,000 per evening on paper. And maybe about 1,000 of those words survive the evening.

Writing CaveWhere is your favourite place to write?

My home office. Sometimes in my bed, if I use my iPad or Surface. Things don’t work out well when I write from my bed.

Which themes recur in your writing? 

My most frequently recurring theme, I think, is that imperfections and even glaring flaws in who a person is, or was, shouldn’t deny them a chance at happiness. Another would be that, contrary to popular wisdom, you can become your best self through and with another person; and there is no rule that says you have to self-perfect before finding love, and growing in love. I also like to insert a lot about how our families can make us, and how we can make our own families.

What inspired the stories in FOUR? How did FOUR come into being?

Quite honestly, FOUR is my gift to readers. The characters in that book are the ones that they ask about the most, who they constantly refer to over and over again, and who, I think resonated with the largest group of people. So, though I have other stories an ideas that I am eager to get to, I wanted to give my readers deep thanks, for reading about these people and their lives, for loving them, and for letting me know they loved them.

Of the four couples in focus in FOUR, is there one that you would call your favourite? Why?

I think Tracy and Brendan. Because Tracy is so outwardly difficult to love, even while she loves fiercely, and permanently. And because Brendan is her soulmate, her complementary other half who could not be more different from her, and could not be more perfect for her.

Many writers have said they’ve found it difficult to focus on writing in the current political and social climate. Has our current state of affairs affected your writing? 

It is difficult to think about relationships and love in a time when we’re having so much difficulty relating to each other. I can focus on writing only if I incorporate some elements of our time into what I write. I can’t write as pure escapism, and I suspect that the readers who dislike my work may dislike it in part because it doesn’t offer that pure escape. When I write, the people in my books may lie, cheat on partners, make ill-considered decisions, have sketchy pasts, or are just plain stupid. They also interact with the world as we do. They confront racism, colorism, classism, homophobia, abuse … So, I can focus, but the work definitely takes on a darker, more edgy tone in times like this.

Is there a story you would love to tell but haven’t dared to write yet? Tell us about it. Do you think you’ll ever write it?

I want to write a period piece. About what it was like to be Black in America in the early 1900s, when there we were almost one generation past Emancipation, and beginning to embrace the idea of having full agency, or ”freedom.” I want to write a story centered on the journey, hopes and dreams of a young woman in that time, her work, her loves, her ambitions. I may write it, but it’s so perfect in my head that it’s tough to make the leap to putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

What’s next for you? Upcoming 2019 releases? Events?

I may do two events in 2019. Wine with Writers, which I do with Lily Java, Rae Lamar and Jacinta Howard, and one other, as yet to be determined.  As far as upcoming releases, I have three or four that I know I want to do, and plan to continue writing my ’Shorts’ as inspiration strikes me.

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Four couples, four transitions, four seasons of marriage …

Grace

Most couples wouldn’t have weathered one mistake of the kind Shawn made when he and Riley first got married, let alone emerge with a commitment that’s stronger, a beautiful family and a love that’s even deeper. Is there any way their relationship can survive mistake number two?

Balance

Whatever Brendan wants, Brendan gets. It’s an arrangement Tracy doesn’t mind, because he provides everything she needs: love, financial security and the comfort of never having to work outside the home. But now, the most important thing she wants, he doesn’t have the time—or maybe even the will—to give. With a relationship built on giving all of herself, is it fair to now ask for a piece back?

Growth

Robyn’s career is in a growth-spurt just as Chris’ seems to be at its natural end. No longer empire-building, he’s struggling with his new reality, and the need for a sense of purpose separate from his work. His wife seems way too busy to notice. That is, until someone else does. 

Renewal

Once a mistress, now just a suburban wife and working mother, Keisha doesn’t recognize herself most days. The problem is, Jayson doesn’t either. If he’s reading her right, she wants out. And unless she’s mistaken, he might not mind too much if she decided to go.

The ‘Commitment’ series finale.

On Sale October 21

Pre-OrderEnter to Win

About Nia Forrester

Nia Forrester lives and writes in Philadelphia, PA where, by day, she is an attorney working on public policy and by night, she crafts woman-centered fiction that examines the complexities of life, love and the human condition.

She welcomes feedback and email from her readers at authorniaforrester@gmail.com or tweets @NiaForrester.

 

AUTHOR SITEFACEBOOKTWITTERGOODREADS | AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

 

Foster an Author 3: Get to know KA Duggsy and Lexi C. Foss

FA3 2017

Happy Monday! Welcome to the start of Foster an Author Week! I thought it would be fun to get to know K.A. Duggsy and Lexi C. Foss so I asked them both to answer a few questions. Let’s see what answers they came up with!

Name three things you never leave home without.

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Neither author would leave the house without their cellphone. (Photo credit: Thom Weerd/unsplash)

K.A. Duggsy: My children, keys and my phone. Super boring answer, I know but very practical.

Lexi C. Foss: My cellphone, passport and money.

Who would you include in your list of your top 3 favourite authors and your favourite books by them?

K.A. Duggsy: One would have to be Tillie Cole – she’s so versatile with her genres and yet I’m still to read a book of hers I haven’t loved, my fave of hers would be a toss up between her Hades Hangmen series or her Sweet Home series. Next is Dean Koontz, I love reading the twisted worlds he creates and the quirky characters. I read The Funhouse years ago and it played on my mind for weeks. And I can’t pick a third, I have too many top authors, so I’m going to cheat… Lauren Rowe, Samantha Towle, Jodi Ellen Malpas, Martina Cole and probably a million more I can’t think of off the top of my head.
Lexi C. Foss: Definitely Lindsay J. Pryor and Blood Shadows (note from Kim: also a fave of mine!), Keri Arthur and Full Moon Rising, and Nalani Singh’s Angels’ Blood.

Who is your celebrity crush?

K.A. Duggsy: This is quite new to me, I’ve never really had a celeb crush since I got old lol but… My daughter recently forced me to watch The Vampire Diaries with her and I got hooked. Ian Somerhalder was a huge reason why – those eyes, need I say more… yum! 
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Ian Somerhalder – K.A. Duggsy’s celebrity crush

If money were no object, where would you go for a month to write?

Lexi C. Foss: Iceland – It’s quiet, gorgeous and peaceful; the prefect place to write!
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Iceland – where Lexi C. Foss would love to go and write if money were no object. (Source: Taylor Leopold, unsplash.com)

When and why did you first start writing and what is your favourite of the books you’ve written?

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K.A. Duggsy: I started properly a few years ago. I’d always wanted to before then but just couldn’t seem to do it. Poems were all I was ever capable of.
I have an anxiety disorder and at times it’s awful. After a particularly bad attack, I decided I wanted to write down exactly what it felt like when in the grip of it and somehow a story ended up wrapped around it which became my first novella. From then on the ideas just kept coming.
My favourite of my books has to be my time travel romance – Advance (Advance Industries #1) it’s a genre I never thought about writing but the idea happened and it clicked – it’s also my first full-length novel. The reviews it received blew my mind.
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Lexi C. Foss: I started writing in 2009, but I didn’t publish until 2017. I’ve always loved paranormal romance and urban fantasy, but wanted something a little edgier and decided to let the voices in my head come out to play. Before I knew it, I had over 500,000 words of world building for my Immortal Curse series. It came so naturally, and I loved it.

Of all the books I’ve written, I would say Blood Laws is my favorite because it was the first story I allowed others to read. Stas and Issac will always hold a special place in my heart.

What does your writing room look like (or where do you like to write)?

K.A. Duggsy:  I’d love a writing room but no such luck. Usually I’m at the kitchen table where it’s easier to re-fill my cuppa and grab snacks. A lot of times it’s whilst I’m in bed with my laptop propped on my lap and my partner begging me to stop tapping.

Lexi C. Foss: My writing room changes depending on my mood, but I usually work in my office. It gives me easy access to my bookshelves, and it’s comfortable. Sometimes I prefer to work downstairs in the living room so I can cuddle one of my dogs while I write.

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Blog Tour: More than a Mistress by Delaney Diamond

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Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 15.49.52Title: More Than a Mistress

Author: Delaney Diamond

Genre: Contemporary Romance, IR/MC Romance

Release Date: March 31, 2017

Synopsis

Will their arrangement ever be enough?

Relationships are not a priority for restaurateur Esteban Galiano, and when he sees Sonia Kennedy at a party, he plans to make her a conquest in a long line of many. But she rebuffs his advances and forces him to adjust—determined to meet the challenge and do whatever he must to make her his.

All her life, Sonia’s beauty has caused unnecessary problems, and right now she needs a job, not a suitor. When Esteban makes an indecent proposal, her first instinct is to turn him down. But soon she’s rethinking her response. Maybe it’s time for her to use what she’s got, to get what she wants.

Getting to Know Delaney Diamond

Tell us about yourself.

I’m the middle child of three and an aunt to one nephew and one niece. My siblings and I are very close and live near each other. My favorite TV shows tend to be comedies, such as Modern Family, Blackish, and Fresh Off the Boat. I also like documentaries, romantic comedies, action flicks, and stand-up comedy—which, thanks Netflix, I can get my fix of numerous options. My biggest pet peeve is meanness. I think we can have a difference of opinion without tearing each other down, but nowadays that’s becoming more and more difficult to do.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I won some writing contests back in high school, but I never considered becoming a romance writer until about 8 years ago. I did my research, joined the Romance Writers of America, and within a year I was published. My first book was a novella titled The Arrangement, and it was the first book in the Latin Men series.

Name something readers would be surprised to learn about you.

People are always surprised when they find out I don’t like musicals or plays, lol. I know, I know, what’s wrong with me! I’ve tried to get into them in the past, but it never ends well. Years ago I went to see “Cats the Musical” with a friend and dozed off. The production was great, but it just didn’t hold my attention.

What are your favorite genres to read?

I read romance more than any other genre. Within romance, you’ll most often find me with a contemporary or historical novel, but I also enjoy a good romantic comedy. The other genre I enjoy is thrillers—the more over-the-top the better—and a well-paced suspense keeps me up all night and turning the pages.

Your bio states you like to travel. Tell us about one of your favorite trips.

Is it okay if I mention two? The first is the summer I spent in Paris, ages ago when I was in graduate school. The friends I made then are still friends I have today. My French-speaking skills got a lot better, and I traveled throughout the country of France, visiting Marseille in the south and Dunkerque in the north. I had a blast.

I also thoroughly enjoyed my trip to the Galapagos Islands, where I spent a week. It was on my bucket list, and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to visit. It’s practically untouched. I was able to get up close and personal with seals (they’re very tame and not afraid of humans), turtles, hike to a volcano, eat some great food, and go snorkeling in some of the most beautiful water. I still love looking at the photos from that trip.

How do your travels influence your stories?

Traveling gives me ideas of places I can write about. For instance, in Perfect (book 2, Johnson Family series), the hero and heroine went to southern Spain for their honeymoon. I was able to incorporate some of what I experienced when I went there myself, such as the burro (donkey) taxis and dining at a seaside restaurant.

 More Than a Mistress (book 5, Latin Men series) takes place in Miami. I visited there in January, so the setting was fresh on my mind—eating brunch on Ocean Drive, the craziness of South Beach at night where everyone is showing off their cars, and checking out the homes of the wealthy on Star Island, which is where my hero, Esteban lives.

Tell us about the excerpt you brought to share with us.

This scene takes place before Sonia becomes Esteban’s mistress, but after she agrees to work as a wine consultant for a private party at his home. The attraction between them is mutual, and Esteban has no qualms about letting her know how he feels about her.

MTM blog tour prizes

 Don’t miss out on your chance to win Delaney Diamond’s More Than a Mistress Giveaway!

PRIZE DETAILS: $25 VISA gift card and a Blakemore Winery Duet gift basket from Wine Country Gift Baskets that includes a chardonnay, cabernet, wine stopper, and several sweet and savory snacks. NOTE: If the winner is from a state that restricts wine sales, they will receive a gift basket that does not include wine. Contents may vary.

ELIGIBILITY: Open to U.S. entrants only.

HOW TO ENTER: Enter your name and email address on the form below.

DEADLINE TO ENTER: 11:59 PM EST April 10, 2017

*Winner will be contacted via email.

Excerpt

For the multicourse meal, she picked a red, with a rich, earthy flavor she thought would go well with the meat dish, and a white for the fish course.

When Esteban came out, he was scrumptious in a pale blue button-down shirt and dark slacks. Sonia averted her eyes and gestured toward the table. “Well, what do you think?”

“Lovely. Surpassed my expectations.”

Pleased, she turned to look at him again, but he wasn’t looking at the table. His eyes were on her, his hot gaze tracing the curve of her behind in the figure-hugging skirt.

A soft blush crept into her cheeks.

Esteban walked closer but stopped a few feet away. “It’s unfortunate you’re not accustomed to hearing compliments.”

Sonia clutched the back of one of the dining chairs as his gaze practically caressed her, sliding from her face down over her body.

Her heart raced. She told herself she hated the way he looked at her, but a little voice inside whispered, Liar.

Guilt deepened the heat in her cheeks.

“You clearly don’t hear compliments enough, or you’d be used to them.”

“I get compliments, but I’m not used to receiving those kinds of compliments from men I work with.”

“I find that hard to believe. I think…” He gave a knowing smile. “I think maybe you are not used to liking to hear those things from a man you work with.”

BUY LINKS

Autographed print copies – Amazon – Amazon UK – Amazon Canada 

 Nook – iBooks –  Google Play – Kobo

About the Author

Delaney Diamond is the USA Today Bestselling Author of sweet, sensual, passionate romance novels and the owner of Garden Avenue Press, a digital-first press that publishes romance novels and women’s fiction with people of color. Born and raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Atlanta, Georgia is now her home. She reads romance novels, mysteries, thrillers, and a fair amount of nonfiction. When she’s not busy reading or writing, she’s in the kitchen trying out new recipes, dining at one of her favorite restaurants, or traveling to an interesting locale. To get sneak peeks, notices of sale prices, and find out about new releases, visit her website and join her mailing list. Enjoy free reads and the first chapter of all her novels at www.delaneydiamond.com.

Keep Up with Delaney Diamond

Website – Facebook – Twitter – Pinterest

Getting to know…Karen King

I thought life would calm down a bit in November, but it’s been even more hectic than October. It started with NaNoWriMo, add to it a crazy blizzard here in Stockholm, then a death in the family, add a few more unexpected events and you get a month that has made me want to hibernate. But now I am trying to find my bearings again. Whew.

We’re back with another instalment of Getting to know… and today we’ve got author Karen King with us. Karen writes sassy, contemporary romance just right for reading on the beach. ‘I do – or do I?’ is her first chick-lit for Accent Press and has recently been nominated for the RONA (Romantic Novel of the Year Award). She has also written several short stories for women’s magazine and had 120 children’s books published.When she isn’t writing, Karen likes travelling, watching the ‘soaps’ and reading. Give her a good book and a box of chocolates and she thinks she’s in Heaven. So let’s get to know….Karen King!

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Author Karen King

So tell me, Karen, what is your favorite part of being a writer? 

Getting a letter or email from someone who’s enjoyed reading my book. That makes my week! It’s so heartening to think that someone has not only read my book and enjoyed it, but also taken the time to write and tell me so. I really appreciate that.

I know what you mean! Sometimes fan mail can make up for all the times I’ve wanted to give up on a difficult story or character. Or when my writing day hasn’t gone as planned. What would you say is the most difficult part of being a writer and how do you deal with it?

Finding time to write down all the ideas that are whizzing around in my head. I have notebooks everywhere, failing that I’ll write on anything, receipts, serviettes, the back of my hand.

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Karen’s latest novel, I Do? …Or Do I?

I agree. Sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in a day. I try to jot plot ideas down as soon as they pop into my head. Sometimes I lose the notes and have to try to remember them…well, it happens sometimes. 🙂 So tell me, with all the ideas buzzing around, are you a plotter or pantster?

A bit of both. I like to know my characters really well before I start so I’ll write character profiles for them, and then do a basic outline of the story. After that I start writing and let it flow.

It’s the same for me. Started off as a pantser, but now I am a little of both. By the way, I love the cover of I Do…Or Do I? I just want to take a minute to share with my readers the blurb: 

Local journalist Cassie is getting married to hot-shot lawyer, reliable Timothy, and his mother Sylvia, who Cassie has nicknamed ‘Monster-in-Law’, wants to plan the entire wedding. When Sylvia books the exclusive ID Images to take photographs of the extravagant do, Cassie has no idea what she’s walking into. 



The elusive JM, ID Images’ newest photographer, just so happens to be Jared, Cassie’s first love and ex-fiancé, who broke off their engagement to travel and take photos of far-reaching wonders. He’s back to pay for his next wild adventure. 



Cassie decides it’s best to pretend not to know him, but when she’s asked to write an article for her newspaper, she’s tasked with a column surrounding all things wedding related. When Cassie jokingly writes a column meant for herself depicting her situation, a co-worker submits it in place of the real article and it’s soon making headlines, with readers asking the age old question – Who Will She Choose? 

Sounds like the perfect book for this Thanksgiving weekend!  So, readers, if I Do?…Or Do I sounds like your cup of tea, make sure you pick up a copy. Get your copy here:

Amazon – Accent Press – Waterstones – Book Depository – W.H.Smith 

What’s your typical writing day like? Do you write full-time? 

I switch on the computer as soon as I’m showered and dressed, then it’s butt on chair, fingers on keyboard. I answer urgent emails, do a bit of social media then start writing. I’ll carry on writing all day, with the occasional coffee and social media breaks. Often, I’ll write for a couple of hours in the evening too. But I only get a couple of actual ‘writing days’ a week, other days I’m marking assignments (I’m a writing tutor), running courses, visiting schools and other stuff so might write in the evenings.

I write whenever I can snatch away time for it. Still working full-time, but hoping to eventually write full-time. When you write, do you imagine any particular actors or actresses as your leads? Or do you find inspiration elsewhere?

I don’t imagine actors or actresses as my leads but I do look through magazines and cut out pictures of people similar to how I imagine my heroine and hero to look. I also do a Pinterest board of work in progress and pin pictures of things related to my plot on it. For example, for ‘I do?…or do I?’ I pinned lots of wedding related pics, as well as pics of France and Venice which both feature in the story.

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Karen’s writing room – organised chaos 🙂 

Another Pinterest enthusiast! I do the same. I love Pinterest. I even have a board for my dream writing space. Right now, I do most of my writing in my messy home office/guest bedroom, while sitting on my living room couch or in cafés. What abut you? Do you have a favorite writing space?

I’m lucky enough to have my own room to write in. It’s usually very messy, but it’s organized chaos and I know exactly where everything is. If I tidy up I’ve had it, I can’t find anything for weeks.

I am with you there! Whenever I clean my writing space, I can’t find any of the things I need. But when I don’t clean it, the chaos can sometimes overwhelm me. Let’s talk reading. What are you reading now?

I’m reading The Pact by Jodi Picoult.

I read that one a few years ago and loved it. She is one of my favourite authors. Are there any subjects that are taboo for you when it comes to reading or writing?

Horror – I scare easily.

Once upon a time, I wanted to write horror. Nowadays, I prefer writing love stories. Now what about social media? Some people say we authors can’t survive without it.What’s your take on social media? Do you think it’s vital for us?

Yes, I think it is. One well known publisher told me they wouldn’t even consider a book unless the author had over 1,500 followers on Twitter. I like Social Media, it’s a great way to interact with people but it’s easy to while away hours reading the latest Facebook posts or chatting on Twitter so I try to restrict myself. Twitter is my favourite platform, then Facebook and Instagram. I’m on Google+ and Pinterest too but am not as active on them.

What was the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

It was back in the early days of my writing career when I was writing for several children’s magazines and had to come up with story ideas at very short notice, sometimes having to write one in a couple of hours. An editor told me to ‘give a character a problem and solve it’. I added ‘in an unexpected way’ to that and it’s been the basis of my stories ever since.

What advice would you give to novice writers?
Stop faffing about and get that first draft down. Then you can go back and reread, revise and rewrite. If you don’t write something you have nothing to hone.

Thanks again for joining us, Karen! Readers, make sure you follow Karen so you can keep up with the latest! Follow Karen here:

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Getting to know… Laurie Ellingham

Welcome back for another instalment of Getting to Know… Today we have author Laurie Bellingham with us. Laurie  is the author of The Reluctant Celebrity and How to Throw Your Life Away. She lives on the Suffolk/Essex border in the UK with her husband, two children and a cute cockerpoo. I think she loves coffee just as much as I do. 🙂 

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Author Laurie Ellingham

Laurie, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from originally? 

Firstly, thanks Kim for having me here today. Such a treat to get virtually out and about as a writer. I’m grew up in Rayleigh, Essex and featured Rayleigh in my second novel How to Throw Your Life Away. I called the town Henley in the book so I could add a bit of creative license. I studied Psychology at Hull University and lived in East London for many years. I now live on the Essex/Suffolk borders with my hubby and two children who are six and five and both happily settled at the village school.

When I’m not ferrying the kids to clubs, cheering on the sidelines of football matches, cooking (which I don’t really enjoy), tidying and cleaning (I HATE), then I’m running in the countryside, writing and reading. Oh and I like chocolate too.

I love chocolate too. It’s one of my favourite things in the world… Now tidying and cleaning…hate doing them, but one must do what one must do. 🙂 When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

I had my first rejection letter when I was 10. I sent a story about a family of peas to the Oxford Press. They sent back a very nice letter and lots of stickers. I miss getting stickers with rejection 🙂

So you could say that I’ve always wanted to be an author. From a very young age I became interested in people and why they behave in certain ways, and filtered this into storytelling.

Imagine if every rejection letter came with nice stickers! That would make them a bit nicer to receive! 😀  Fast-forwarding to now: as a writer, are you a plotter or pantster?

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Oh, definitely a plotter, which is madness because the rest of my life is generally rather messy and chaotic *husband nods from over my shoulder.*

At the start of the year I read Stephen King’s On Writing and was taken with his suggestion to wing it and enjoy where the story takes me. I wrote the first 20,000 words of my latest novel like this but I had to stop and plan and get all my characters sorted out. Once the plan is in place I don’t go back and look at it, not once, but it’s comforting to know it’s there, and I’m happy to change direction if I have a great big light bulb moment when I’m brushing my teeth.
Q: Are you working on a new book now? Can you give us a sneak peek of the plot?
I am. It’s book two for my publisher, Carina (Harper Collins). I’m expecting the first draft finished in a couple of weeks and I cannot wait for the world to see it. Here’s my draft blurb and title (it all might change still)…
The Stranger on the Boat.
‘My name is Abigail Rose Wick. My parents are Sarah and Michael Wick. And I’ve been missing for fourteen years.’
A missing girl returns unharmed. A family torn apart by tragedy begin to heal.
But strange things begin to happen to the Wick family. The media are tipped off, throwing them into a spotlight they cannot hide from. DNA results go missing. Holes begin to appear in the girl’s story.
Is the mysterious girl Abigail Wick?
Who is the stranger on the boat who took Abigail?
What happened fourteen years ago?
Only one person knows the truth.

I sat down expecting this novel to be a fast-paced thriller, but it’s not that at all. I love it.

I know that feeling! I once started working on a book thinking it would be literary fiction and it suddenly veered into a holiday romance. But, wow, I really like the premise of your story!  I would definitely add this to my TBR list.

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Laurie’s writing space

So when you’re writing, do you have a favorite writing space? 

Here it is.

It used to be an entrance hall and front door, then it got an internal door and became a space to stash the dog when he gets under our feet, and now the dog has to share it with me. It smells like musky dog most of the time and doesn’t have a view, but it’s one of my favorite places to be.

I’m fortunate to live in the countryside so anytime I get a bit stir crazy I just take my notebook to the meadow behind our house and write outside for while.

By the way, which titles are on your must-read list this year?

Being part of a fantastic online book community for authors and bloggers (Book Connectors) I see so many amazing books I’m desperate to read. Next up I’m reading The Mountain in My Shoe by Louise Beech. I’m saving it for when my first draft is finished so I can give it the attention it deserves.

And what are you reading now?

Right now I’m reading A Suitable Lie by Michael J Malone. It’s the kind of book that stays with you long after you’ve put it down. For me it is compelling, gripping, and uncomfortable all in one.

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Her adorable dog, Rodney

So which authors would you recommend to people looking for someone new to read?

S.E Lynes or B.A Paris for a fabulous thriller, and Louise Beech and Catherine Miller for some amazing women’s fiction with depth.

What’s a typical day of writing like for you?

I like to sit down and crack on in the mornings, which means getting the kids off to school and being back at my desk for 9am. By 10.30 I’m ready for a break and Rodney (here’s a pic) is ready to go out so we either run or walk together for an hour.
Then it’s right back to my desk with more coffee and some chocolate (usually a Twix) until it’s time to collect the kids. These are the best days and I usually hit my daily word count of 1000 words with time to spare, but for every day like this there’s a day when life gets in the way and I’m up until late still tapping away at my laptop.

Sounds enviable. 🙂 So on these days when you’re writing,  do you imagine any particular actors/actresses as your leads? Or do you find inspiration elsewhere?

Yes. In fact, one of the first things I do when planning my novel is search Google Images for photos that fit with the images of the characters in my mind. I find it helps to look at these pictures at the start of each chapter as it reminds me of their different mannerisms as well as their personalities.

I do something similar with Pinterest and Google Images. I’ve got a few favourites who’ve become my muses and some characters I absolutely adore. What about you? Which of your characters is your favourite?

There is a character in my first book called Guy Rawson. He’s this brooding model turned singer, and hopelessly flawed. I missed him so I found a part for him in a later novel – Three Months to Live (out in April 2017). Although the two novels are nothing a like – the Reluctant Celebrity is a romantic comedy and Three Months to Live is edgy women’s fiction – Guy slotted in nicely for a little guest appearance.

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-12-07-19One of the things I love about writing is when the story first begins to form in my head. What about you? What’s your favourite thing about being a writer?

I love creating a story in my head and characters that feel as real to me as anyone; this is the amazing thing about being a writer. I like hearing that people are enjoying my books as well but that comes later. Mostly though, writing is when I feel most like myself. I’m a mum and wife and a friend and a daughter and a sister, and that’s great, but when I’m writing I’m me.

What would you say is the most difficult part of being a writer and how do you deal with it? 

Loneliness and self-doubt.

The first is less of an issue in recent years because social media has opened up many wonderful writing communities which means I now feel part of something amazing.
The self-doubt is a harder fix. It can hit anytime and completely out of the blue. I try and just see it as the rough with the smooth as there are as many days I’m excited by what I’m writing.

I know exactly what you mean! But, just to change the subject a bit…a lot of people say they read to escape. They don’t want to be reminded of the harsh reality  of the world when they sit down to read a book. What’s your take on this? Should fiction address topical social issues? 

Absolutely. A skilled author can write about topical social issues whilst still offering the escapism of well written characters. Michael J Malone has done just this by writing about domestic abuse with the female as the abuser. It was uncomfortable at times but it had all the elements of a great read too. I feel richer for having read it.

I so agree with you. I think reading shouldn’t simply be about escaping, even if sometimes that’s all I want. Usually I  want to see things from another perspective, even if it means that the writer makes me feel uncomfortable. 

So tell me, what was the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

Read lots of books in lots of different genres. It keeps your mind focused on writing and novels and opens your eyes to other writing styles.

Before we close up, what advice would you give to novice writers?

Firstly, write. Then write some more. Prioritise writing in your life. If you wait until all your other jobs are done, you’ll never get any writing done.
And at the same time read. Then read some more.

Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Laurie! And readers–make sure you connect with Laurie and check out her novels! 🙂 

Connect with Laurie Ellingham

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Getting to know… Beth Miller

Welcome back for another instalment of Getting to Know… Today, we’ve got British author Beth Miller in the hot seat. Beth is originally from London but now she lives in Sussex.  She’s written two novels: When We Were Sisters and The Good Neighbour. She’s also written two non-fiction books, For The Love of The Archers and the just-published For The Love of Shakespeare. Beth’s taken a break from working on  her third novel to hang out with us for a bit.

 

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Beth Miller (Photo credit: Katie Vandyck)

 

Thanks so much for joining us today, Beth. It’s always great to have a chance to meet another writer. Did you always know that you wanted to be a writer? Do you remember how old you were when you knew?

When I was six. I knew I wanted to be a writer because I loved writing stories. I got a lot of encouragement from teachers and my parents who thought I could write well. I got published at the age of 47. I am a slow-burn kind of gal.

Then we’re birds of a feather. I always knew I wanted to be a writer. It just took me until I was 43 to actually publish a novel. 🙂  Now when it comes to writing, are you a plotter or pantster?

I’ve been both. First novel: pantsed it. Took 12 years. Second novel: plotted it. Took eight months. Current novel: a mixture, which is going to take roughly two years. I think plotting is a very good idea, but probably not everyone needs to. I’m just not a very good pantser.

I’ve got both of your novels on my Kindle, but haven’t had a chance to read them yet. I’m looking forward to reading them in December, once NaNoWriMo is over. Now, I know you’re working on a third novel. What can you tell us about it? 

I’ve nearly finished the first shoddy-looking draft. It’s about Hana, who comes from a very restrictive and sheltered family, and leads a double-life. It’s got lots of lists in it (I love lists), and it’s really about love, and the mistakes we make when we’re young. And the mistakes we make when we’re older, too. I think it’s funny, though I’m often the only one who finds my writing amusing.

It sounds intriguing! I can’t wait to read it! Speaking of reading,  what are you reading now? And what’s on your To-Be-Read List?

I usually have a fiction and non-fiction book on the go. The non-fiction currently is Contested Will by James Shapiro, about the was-Shakespeare-really-Shakespeare conspiracy. It’s for a talk I’m doing later this year. And I’ve just finished a couple of fiction books because of being on holiday: Girl on the Train (I was late to this particular party, though I wasn’t mad about it), and The School Gate Survival Guide by Kerry Fisher, which was great. The next one on the pile is Beyond the Sea by Melissa Bailey, and I’m very much looking forward to Rebecca Mascull’s next novel, The Wild Air, out next spring. Her books are different from anything else out there.
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Since I am American, I don’t know anything about The Archers. I’ve heard British friends mention it, but other than that, I don’t really know what it is. 🙂 Could you tell us a little about the Archers and how you decided to write about the program? 

The Archers is a long-running radio drama which is set in a fictional area of the Midlands. In fact it’s the longest-running radio drama in the world. I was commissioned to write the book because a friend of mine who’d been asked to do it turned it down and offered it to me. She didn’t listen to the Archers but I was a fan and had already written an Archers blog for years.

What made you decide to write about Shakespeare?

The same publisher (Summersdale) asked me to write the Shakespeare book for no other reason than I’d done the Archers one for them and they thought I could do it!

I think I’m going to have to check out the Archers. 🙂 Maybe I can listen to it while I am working. Now, speaking of work, what’s your typical day of writing like?

Take my boy to school, come back, make tea, and go up to my messy desk in the loft. Faff around on the internet for a while, then gradually pick up from where I left off last time. I edit the last couple of pages and then write onwards from that point. This makes it sound really smooth. There’s a lot of stop-starting and popping downstairs for a biccy before I get my head back into it.

Are you one of those writers who has rituals need to have certain things with them when they write or start a new project? 

I do buy a notebook at the start of each book but don’t think that’s a ritual so much as a necessity – I use the notebook! I’m not a very ritualistic person.

I always buy new notebooks when I start a project, but then I end up doing most of the work on my computer. So I think the buying of notebooks must be my ritual.  So what would you say is your favorite part of being a writer? 

Without question, people who have read the books telling you what they thought. I don’t mean Amazon reviews, though I do love reading those, even the bad ones. I mean in person, when people stop you in the street and tell you how a certain aspect resonated with them or how it made them feel. Those encounters keep me going through the arid periods of unsuccessful writing.

You are also an editor/book coach/ writing teacher. Does having this background make writing easier? Or do you find that your inner critic is more relentless?

I see the book coaching and writing as slightly separate to my own writing. I can’t assume that a client or student will have the same difficulties or strengths in writing as I do, so I try to be where they’re at with their writing. There are a few universal rules, though, that apply to everyone (such as ‘get some words written!’) I’ve been through the mill with writing, getting rejected, re-writing, getting rejected again, etc, and I have made every mistake in the book, so I think I know a few shortcuts now that I can pass on to people. But there are no shortcuts when it comes to getting the words down in the first place.

So true! I think a lot of people believe we writers can magically make words appear, but it’s all about putting in the time and actually writing. There’s no magic to it.

What about characters? Now when it comes to yours, is there a particular one who’s your favourite? 

In my first novel (When We Were Sisters), my favourite character for a long time was Miffy, the young girl. But I came to realise that the other main character, Laura – self-centered and bitchy – was a bit closer to my heart. In my second novel (The Good Neighbour), my favourite is definitely Davey, one of the three narrators. He’s a nine-year old boy, a wheelchair user, who’s brilliant at technology. I love his resourcefulness and his generous spirit.

 

What about social media? What’s your take on it? Do you think it’s  vital for today’s authors? 

I think it works for a few people, those who already have a built-in audience, such as Caitlin Moran. I’m not convinced it works so well for new authors. My twitter feed sometimes seems to be made up entirely of authors shouting, ‘read my book!’ in increasingly desperate ways. I worry that they are spending so much time on it, when they could be getting on with the next book. And there’s often a lack of wit and flair in the way people try to draw attention to themselves.

And there’s also a law of diminishing returns. I might see a post about a book that looks interesting, but by the time I’ve seen six, ten or even more tweets about the same book, I’m sick of the sight of it. Sorry. I don’t know what the answer is. I enjoy Facebook and Twitter but I’m not expecting them to make or break this thing I laughingly call my writing career. My current favourite social media is Instagram, though I don’t really follow any authors on it. I just like looking at the pretty pictures.

I know what you mean. I love Pinterest and Instagram for the very same reason. 🙂

What about writing advice? What was the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

‘Don’t get it right, get it written’. I don’t remember who said it to me, but I now say it all the time to writing students. It means don’t go back endlessly over your work rewriting; don’t sit there pointlessly worrying that it doesn’t say exactly what you want; don’t waste time moving commas about; don’t be neurotic. It means churn out the words, and trust that you can make them better later. I have this as a mantra in my head the whole time I’m writing the first draft.

So true! You have to write the words first. You can always revise and make it better. But that dirty first draft is a necessity. 

Now, when you’re reading or writing, are there any subjects that are taboo for you?

I would never write about child sexual abuse. Not because I am squeamish, but because I think it has become over-used as a plot device, and its horror is becoming diminished. I also don’t like killing people off in my books, as I think that can often be a slightly lazy device to move on the plot. But I love writing sex scenes – the raunchier the better!

Heheh! Sex scenes are always fun to write. Some of my readers tell me I don’t write enough of them, maybe I need to change that.  Now what about dream projects? If you could work on a collaborative project with any writer, who would be your dream writing partner?

In fact, my dream job would be to work as a collaborative writer, on an American TV comedy such as Frasier or Thirty Rock. I love writing with people but hardly ever do it any more. My dream writing partner would be Tina Fey, but she hasn’t called back.

You and I are on the same wavelength. I would love to work with Tina Fey–especially since we come from the same city. Well, maybe if we send her boxes of Philadelphia delicacies, she’ll give us a call. 😉

Thanks so much for thanks so much for joining us, Beth! Readers, make sure you check out Beth’s books. And don’t forget to follow her website so you’ll know when her next book is coming out. 

 

Foster An Author: Esther E. Schmidt

So you’re Dutch, do you run into complications when writing?
Yes, I’m Dutch but write books in English. My PA (Christi) does all the first rounds of edits. Or as she puts it… translates my dutch-glish. This sometimes leads to interesting discussions when Dutch traditions or sayings flow into my stories.

What made you decide to write?
The first erotic novel I wrote was Zack. I started writing after I saw a black and white picture of Joshua Sean McCann by FuriousFotog (Golden Czermak). I shared the photograph on my facebook with the statement that I could write a biker by just one look at this picture. My friends told me; do it. And so I did. Funny detail? One year later to the date, I have Joshua on the cover of book three in that series.

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Coming soon from Esther E. Schmidt

When you self-publish, do you do it all yourself?
The majority, yes. But there are a few things you can’t do yourself, or make that I won’t do by myself. For one, my PA, Christi Durbin. She’s my rock and also does the first round of edits for each of my books. She’s also the main editor for one of my series and will be for other books in the near future. I love her opinion and also all the work she does as my PA (and that’s a lot!). Then I have another editor for my main series. I also have a few amazing readers who pimp the hell out of me and I appreciate everything they throw out there. Although the word self-publish sounds as a one person job… it clearly isn’t. It’s hard work for the writer but also for the team around her and I am truly grateful to have the people around me who work with me.

Any addictions?
Yes. I’m a gum addict. My favorite brand is Mentos White. I like to pop too, not blow bubbles but keep it in my mouth so it pops louder and many times in one go. Annoys the hell out of my husband.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Cardio. It’s as simple as that. When my feet are running, so is my mind. I can go over storylines and it just flows freely.

Getting to know… Catherine Hokin

Hi everyone! I’ve finally recovered from a nasty bout of bronchitis and also back from Dublin, Ireland (more about that later). I fell behind on a few things while I was ill, but I am trying to catch up now. Today’s the day for another edition of Getting  to Know… our spotlight author is Catherine Hokin, whose debut novel Blood and Roses was published in 2015. Catherine is a Glasgow-based author whose fascination with the medieval period began during a History degree which included studies into witchcraft, women and the role of political propaganda. And this sparked an interest in hidden female voices, which plays a big role in Blood and Roses. So let’s get comfortable and get to know Catherine!

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Thanks for joining us today, Catherine! Let’s start off by getting to know you a little better. 

I’m from the Lake District although I’m a complete city-dweller now and too much countryside brings me out in a rash. I live in Glasgow, which I love, in the West End which is over-run by hipsters (of which I am not one), like a mini – McHoxton. I did a history degree at Manchester University and then set out on a very varied career which took me through the fashion industry, politics, teaching and the green industry – my CV looks mad but, like many women, it was often dictated by needs other than mine. Outside writing I go to concerts of the loud, guitar-driven type (Biffy Clyro was the latest), I love to travel (Sicily next) and I am helping with the organization of the Havana Glasgow Film Festival – I’m not sure how that happened.

I’ve always wanted to visit the Lake District. It’s on my bucket list of places to visit in the UK. I haven’t been in Glasgow in a while. Maybe next time I’m there we can meet for writing and chatting. Now tell me, when did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Since I was in my early twenties – before that I wanted to be a ballerina, a fashion designer and a forensic detective, none of which worked out! I’ve had a couple of near misses years ago: one was a children’s book but then a certain wizard appeared and I didn’t have any wizards; the other was a novel about Anne Boleyn but Ms Gregory beat me to it. Like a lot of women I got buried under children and the demands of full-time work and I simply couldn’t snatch enough time to string verbal sentences together never mind written ones. I finally started getting serious (ie. carved out thinking space) a couple of years ago when the youngest one went to university and then, this year, I got a mentorship through the Scottish Book Trust and decided to take the plunge and write full-time. That decision’s paying off in everything except money…

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Blood and Roses, is the story of Margaret of Anjou and her pivotal role in the War of the Roses. 

I know what you mean. But it’s fantastic with having the mentorship. So happy for you! And I can see your interest in history started early. 🙂 Was there any particular author or book that inspired you to become a novelist? 

If I had to pick one author I think it would be Margaret George. Her novel The Autobiography of Henry VIII was published in 1986 and I loved it, also her novel about Mary Queen of Scots: Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles. Until I discovered those I’d only seen historical fiction either of the type written by Jean Plaidy and Anya Seton which was far too romance-driven or Robert Graves, which was brilliant but way more literary than I wanted to/could ever imagine writing. Once I found George and also Sharon Penman’s The Sunne in Splendour, which again takes historical characters and breathes real plausible life into them, I realized historical fiction was a genre I could not only love but write in.

Speaking of writing, are you one of those people who is a plotter? Or are you a pantster?

I’m a plotter with a little bit of panster thrown in. I start with an idea, which is a bit of an itch, and then do preliminary research to see if it is an idea with legs or a non-starter. Then I spend about 5 months in solid research, taking notes, using Pinterest, building a story arc. The next stage is a long synopsis (a very rough skeleton draft) of about 40,000 words were I put the notes to one side and write the story – this is when I let it flow and start feeling my way round the characters. If that works it’s time for storyboarding and a proper first draft – and lots more research. That never stops!

Are you working on a new book now?

My second novel is set in the fourteenth century and is an exploration of the relationship between Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt with a bit of help from Chaucer. Plague, political machinations, a crazed king and a very frightening monk plus one of the most powerful love stories you’ll find in any historical period. That is with my agent and you can find out more here. While that is being dealt with, I am busy on book three which is set in the twelfth and sixth centuries and has a cast of interesting women.

I love the premise. I will definitely be adding this to my TBR list. What about your favorite books of 2016–which titles are on your must-read list ?

Far too many! High on it was Summertime by Vanessa LaFaye which I’ve just finished. It is a wonderful book set in 1930s Florida which weaves together the worst hurricane to hit that area with racism and the treatment of WWI veterans. It is a visceral book and I devoured it. The next pile contains The Muse by Jessie Barton, The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola and The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. I’m also keen to read The Girls by Emma Cline – I’ve just been watching the tv show Aquarius about Charlie Manson and am a bit obsessed with the case.

I’ve got the Girls on my TBR list. I’ve always been fascinated by Charlie Manson and his influence over the people in his gang. I read Helter Skelter a few years ago and remember being terrified of the sway he held over people. I need to add Summertime to my list as well–that one’s especially relevant for me considering the current tensions in the US. Now, I’m one of those people who usually end up writing in cafés. Where do you usually write? Do you have a favorite writing space? 

I have a study and I love it. My desk is in the front of a window looking out onto the River Kelvin, although admittedly I’m usually squinting through rain as this is Glasgow. I have an internet radio permanently on, my favourite movie posters on the walls, a sofa for when I’m ‘thinking’ (that’s my excuse) and a reading corner. It’s the first time I have ever had a proper workspace that wasn’t fighting family needs – the children are no longer allowed home.

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Catherine’s writing space. Cozy, isn’t it? 

I know what you mean. It’s important to have writing space of one’s own. I have a little home office, but I need to make it feel more mine. Now, I still work every day and have to fit my writing around my 9-to-5 job. What’s your typical writing day like? Q

I keep office hours – it’s a hangover from ‘proper jobs’ I can’t shake. Like many writers, I have 3 books in different stages: Blood and Roses is out and there’s still a lot of publicity to do including 3 bookstore events in October; book 2 is with my agent; book 3 is in research/draft/fear stage. I start the day with admin, emails and social media – then research/reading moving to writing in the afternoon when I’ve been for a head-clearing walk. It’s quite ordered but I like it that way!

I think I need structure like that. Once I can actually write full-time  I will need to follow a similar schedule. When you write, do you imagine any particular actors/actresses as your leads? Or do you find inspiration elsewhere?

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Julianna Margulies, who plays Alicia Florrick on The Good Wife, could make a good Margaret of Anjou.

I love the whole movie casting thing although I sometimes think it’s just an excuse to look at pictures of attractive men! I’m very visual and use Pinterest boards a lot. When I was first starting to imagine Margaret of Anjou I had pictures of tv characters like Claire Underwood from House of Cards, Alicia Florrick from The Good Wife and Marvel’s Jessica Jones. All feisty, challenging women who fight convention. As to the casting of Blood and Roses, I’ve always wanted Oona Chaplin for Margaret and Richard Armitage for Warwick – actually Armitage would make a great John of Gaunt and I’m sure I can write him into book three…

 

I think most writers have a favorite character. Which of your characters is your favorite? 

It’s a funny question to answer as I think each character becomes my favourite as I write about them: they have to be challenging and strong, and flawed, to interest me or I wouldn’t be able to bring them alive. I found Margaret of Anjou, who was a very complex woman, fascinating partly because the myths around her are nothing like the accounts written at the time – she has really fallen foul of propaganda – and also because of the relationship with her son. Katherine Swynford in my second novel is another woman who has come to us in one-dimension (romantic heroine) when she was multi-layered and at the centre of one of the most turbulent centuries in English history. She was also my ancestor so perhaps I should choose her!

 

A lot of people say that writers need to be active on Twitter, Facebook, Periscope, etc if they want to make it these days in the literary world. What’s your take on social media? Do you think it’s an absolute necessity for us? 

I do think it is vital – when I was taken on by my agent she asked for a writing CV which needed to include my internet presence and how confident I was using social media. Her advice was that publishers expect authors to market their work and every writer I know has borne this out: my first novel was with a small publisher who had no marketing budget so I expected to do a lot but writers at large houses do no less. It’s a competitive world and there’s no point pretending it isn’t. My advice is to pick a couple of platforms you are happy with, make relationships, learn every wrinkle and stick to just them so you don’t get overwhelmed – I do Author Facebook and Twitter, that’s plenty!

Since I am an indie writer, I end up spend a lot of time on social media, but it’s a necessity. It’s just trying to find a good balance. What about taboo topics? I know a lot of people have lists of what they refuse to read or write about. 

I am an adult so nothing is taboo when it comes to what I read and I will challenge myself to read things that might be out of my comfort zone, whether I ultimately enjoy them or not – the recent A Little Life is a good example of that. When it comes to writing we all draw on our personal experiences – with historical fiction there are ways that you can explore difficult emotions and people in your own life without it being seen as autobiographical and I take a lot of comfort in that!

So true! People are always giving writers advice. I know I’ve had my share of it. 🙂 What about you? What was the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

Treat it like a job, ie. give it serious time, set deadlines and expectations and finish things. Also draft and edit, then redraft and edit, then redraft… Nothing is ready when you think it is and everything can be re-edited. The other thing that has worked for me is writing short stories and entering competitions which give critiquing feedback – it is a great way to learn your craft particularly in terms of story structure.

Catherine, it’s been so great getting this chance to get to know you and your writing. Have you got any final words of advice you’d like to share with aspiring authors?

Respect your readers: do your research but don’t show off your knowledge; care about the characters you are writing about so they will care to; edit your writing even when you think it has been edited enough. Be brave and send your work out but don’t let the first person other than you who reads it be the agent or publisher you send it to. Take criticism positively and never respond to bad reviews, ever – once the work is out there, it’s out there. Enjoy very success, no matter how small – it’s all steps on the way to being published and that’s the big celebration!

Many thanks to Catherine for doing us today! Make sure you follow her:

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Getting to know…Cat Hogan

We’re back with another instalment of Getting to Know… Today, we have Irish author Cat Hogan with us. Her novel They All Fall Down came out in July, and I’ve just added it to my TBR/1Click list. If you like novels about love and obsession, then you should do the same. Cat lives in County Wexford in Ireland with her partner Dave and her two sons Joey and Arthur, loves storytelling, and has a cat with the cool name of Jim Hawkins (I’m guessing this cat is a bit of an adventurer like his namesake in Treasure Island). So pour yourself a cup or glass of your favourite beverage, make yourself comfortable and let’s get to know Cat Hogan! 

13124599_10153655434767549_3085583176196253113_nCat, I have to tell you that I love the cover of They All Fall Down. It’s on my TBR list and I’ll probably dive into it this weekend. It sounds like my cuppa tea. So tell me, which titles are on your must-read list this year?

The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney. I can’t wait to get my hands on this. Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent. This was one of the most anticipated releases in Ireland this year. Published by Penguin in July, it didn’t disappoint. It was number one best seller for quite some time. The book certainly lived up to the promo and the hype. Liz is an exquisite writer.

There are so many amazing titles out there.

Now I am intrigued! I will have to add these titles to my TBR list as well. They All Fall Down is out and it’s getting great reviews.  Are you taking a writing vacation to recharge your creative batteries, or have you already begun working on a new book? 

At the moment, I am working on two!

Two? I’m impressed! I have a hard time concentrating on writing one book. Can you give us a sneak peek? 🙂

One of the two is a standalone and the other is a sequel (of sorts) to They All Fall Down. The plot is evolving as I go on these two- particularly the follow up, but what I can tell you is I am wandering around souks and alleyways in Marrakesh, drinking mint tea and getting up to no good.

The standalone, at the moment, revolves around a not so tough guy who’s past is about to catch up with him in a very strange sequence of events.

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Cat Hogan

Ooh! Now you’ve got me hooked. I’ll probably start bugging you about your writing progress so I know when they’ll be launching! Now, I think every writer has a favourite place to write. Where is yours? Do you write at home or do you go to a local café or someplace like that?

My current hide away for writing is in my local library. I don’t have the luxury of an office space and trying to write at the kitchen table with my two boys running around, is not always conducive to creativity. I usually end up running around with them- an avoidance technique. The library in my home county of Wexford is a beautiful space and the staff are all fantastic. It’s a community.

So what’s your typical writing day like?

A routine for me is hard to achieve. My older boy, Joey (11), returned to school last week and Baby Arthur(3), has just started in Montessori. This frees me up and I go straight to the library until about 2pm. After that, I come home and do the Mammy thing for the afternoon. I pick up the writing again when my boys are asleep. It doesn’t always pan out like this but I tend not to stress over it either.

I know what you mean. I’ve been trying to fit my writing time around my work schedule and it’s not always easy. If I’m having a hard time writing, I end up working on an inspiration board to help me visualise the characters and settings. What about you? Do you look for images of actors or actresses as inspiration for your lead characters, or do you find inspiration elsewhere?

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Aidan Gillen

When I wrote They All Fall Down, I pictured Aidan Gillen’s face for Scott. It’s funny, the initial inspiration for me comes from location and sometimes a lyric in a song but when you hit a certain point in the story, the characters take over and tell the story for you.

I think a lot of people have this idea that being a writing is easy, and we both know it’s not. What do you think is the most difficult part of being a writer? How do you deal with it?

The most difficult part for me is trying to establish a writing routine around my boys and home life. The process happened very quickly for me. I finished the first draft in June 2015 and by November,I had a two book publishing deal. They All Fall Down was released in July- meaning lots of promo and events. Book 2 is due back with the publishers this month!! It’s a real juggling act.

What is your favorite part of being a writer? 

The freedom. The idea that you can be anything or go anywhere in the world while sitting at your desk. I always loved reading and writing, from the time I was a small child, but the reality was, I never really knew what I wanted to do with my life. Two degrees and my own business later, the penny finally dropped.

Last question: what was the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

Just keep writing. Write the book you want to write, and believe in yourself.

Thanks so much to Cat Hogan for joining us today! Make sure you add They All Fall Down to your TBR or 1click it today. Don’t forget to connect with Cat on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads

Getting to know Avylinn Winter

And we’re back with a new instalment of Getting to know… Today, our guest is Wattpad sensation Avylinn Winter.  We first met last autumn through a mutual friend and spent a great day together drinking coffee, eating pastries at a wonderful café just outside of Stockholm and writing. Volatile, Avylinn’s debut novel, launched recently and it’s already getting rave reviews. 

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Avylinn Winter, author of Volatile and Wattpad sensation

Avylinn, I am so glad you could join us today. And congrats to the release of Volatile!  I’ve been following the reviews and readers are really connecting with it–but we saw that already on Wattpad.  Let’s get started, could you tell our readers a little about yourself?  

I’m from a smallish town in Sweden, but I’ve moved around a bit since I left my hometown ten years ago. Currently, I’m based in Stockholm, which is a great city with loads of possibilities. I’m one of those boring people who don’t have a lot of interests outside of work and writing. I used to ride horses, but after an accident last year, I’ve stopped that endeavor. I guess I should take up another hobby soon, but I’ve not found anything that holds my interest for long.

I think we don’t need a lot of hobbies. If you have one or two things that make you happy, then that works. 🙂 I don’t have many–mostly writing and traveling and enjoying good food. 🙂 

 

volatile_9781786514547_xlrgSo tell me, what is your favorite part of being a writer? 

I love creating characters and stories, and I absolutely love to discuss my creations with readers. I have a very fulfilling interaction with my readers on Wattpad, and it’s absolutely wonderful. Without that interaction, I’m not sure I would have continued to write these last three years.

Did you always know you wanted to be an author? 

I’m not sure there was a particular moment. I more or less grew into it, I guess. When I began posting stories for free online, it was more of a steady progression than a sudden realization. I’m still not sure I’m an author to be honest.

Trust me, you are definitely an author. You’ve been writing such great M/M stories that are connecting with readers. I’d say you are a natural born storyteller. When you write, would you say you are a plotter or pantster?

I’m definitely a pantser, but I do try to have a general idea of how I want the story to develop. It’s more like a guide than a strict plan, however. And most of the times, my characters end up going their own way, leaving me behind to chase after them. I have a feeling I might plan a bit more if I end up writing more plot-driven stories in the future. With character based stories it seems natural for me to let them have their way once in a while.

What about writing spaces? I know I love writing in cafés. I also love sitting on my balcony and writing (when Swedish weather permits). What about you? Where’s your  favorite writing space? 

I mostly write from my couch, staring at the screen with next to no distractions in the background. I’m not one of those who can work to music, instead I prefer silence. I’ve tried other settings as well, but it doesn’t work as well. I think I need my peace and quiet.

What’s your typical day of writing like?

I don’t write all that often, actually. I typically write a chapter on Saturdays or Sundays when I have enough time on my hands. I prefer longer sessions where I can finish a chapter since I post all of them as first drafts on Wattpad. I have a loose schedule that my readers keep reminding me of. Some days I tend to sit until I’m finished without stopping in between, other days I take breaks, so I’m not sure if I can tell you what’s my typical day. I try to keep the pressure low, that’s all.

I know what you mean. Some days I can write for hours until my fingers hurt. Other times, I can write a couple of scenes and then take a break. Sometimes I can spend hours just looking for images that help inspire my writing. What about you? When you write, do you imagine any particular actors/actresses as your leads? Or do you find inspiration elsewhere?

I usually have a face of a model or an actor in mind when I write because it helps me focus on certain physical aspects that I might otherwise forget. I’m not a very visual writer, so it really helps me along. I’ve also found that it helps me keep descriptions solid throughout a series since I have the worst memory ever and keep forgetting to type up what traits I’ve used to describe someone. I’m very inefficient that way.

Readers often ask me if I have a favourite character. I think it changes based on my mood. What about you? Have you got a favourite character that you’ve created? 

I think I have to say Joachim. He’s in the third book of the Treacherous Chemistry series. I can relate a lot to Joachim, and I think that’s why I like him so much. He’s from Stockholm, which helps a lot. He’s also trying very hard to be the person others want him to be. He keeps up a cheery façade even though he’s not actually happy all the time. I’m not as good as Joachim at hiding when I’m unhappy, but I still feel very connected to him. Whenever I write about him, I tend to smile a lot.

That’s definitely the sign of a favourite character! It’s like that me when I write about Mads. 🙂 Now, Avylinn, you have to tell me–what are you working on now? Can you give us a sneak peek of the plot?

I’m working on two books actually. I have already written the first, second, third, fourth and fifth draft of my second installation in the Treacherous Chemistry series, but I’m still not happy with it. While revising, I’m also writing on the third one. Attraction is still in the first draft stage, though, which makes it a bit easier to write. At least when you compare it to the manuscript from hell, i.e. Toxic.

What are you reading now?

I’m reading a book written by an acquaintance of mine, Christian Baines. I was seriously impressed by the first novel I read from him which is called Puppet Boy. This second story of his that I’m reading is called The Orchard of Flesh, and it’s just as dark as Puppet Boy, but with a bit more romance going on in the background. If you enjoy dark and gritty stuff with a lot of sharp wit, give Christian a chance. He’s really an excellent writer and I don’t say that because we’re friends.

Have you ever thought about co-writing a book with someone? If you could work on a collaborative project with any writer, who would be your dream writing partner?

I would actually be super interested in writing something together with Christian Baines, but I have a feeling both of us would tear each other’s throats out before finishing the first chapter. But I was allowed to dream here, after all.
What would you say is the most difficult part of being a writer? 

Currently, I find it most difficult to reach the right kind of readership. I’m not in 100% control of my marketing since I’m with a publisher, which means that I have to follow their lead. For instance, my recent release, Volatile, works for a YA audience, but since my publisher is an adult publisher, I can’t market it for YA.

What was the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
I think the best advice came from a quote. I’m not entirely sure where it originated, but the gist of it is that the first draft is telling yourself the story, the second draft is preparing to tell someone else. It gives me a lot of freedom to feel that I can play around with the first draft (even though I actually publish my first drafts online).

What’s your take on writers needing social media? Is it vital for today’s authors? 

It appears to be absolutely necessary when you’re starting out. We have the tools today to seek out groups of people who can support you from afar, but I’ve also found that a lot of what happens online is empty content. It’s not absolutely certain that it will help regardless of how active you are. I have my platform on Wattpad which is a social reading and writing community, but I’m also on Facebook and Twitter. I’ve found that I can’t really keep up with all three in a good way, however, so that’s another complication to consider.

What do you think about fiction addressing topical social issues? Some readers say they only read to escape and don’t want to be reminded of racism, social inequality, etc when they open a book. What’s your take on this?

I like to be challenged when I read, but I also see the point of books with escapism in mind. I think readers tend to interpret content in their own way, however, so I’m not entirely sure that it’s always up to the author. I don’t know if that answer made any sense at all, but I’m rolling with it.
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It made perfect sense! I am like you–I read to be challenged and have new experiences. But sometimes I just want to escape. 🙂 

Before we sign out, could you share with our readers the advice would you give to novice writers?

Write because you love it, write for yourself, write what you’re passionate about. The rest will sort itself out.

Wise words, indeed! I hope you’ve all enjoyed getting to know Avylinn! Make sure you connect with her!

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