Getting to know… Carol Cooper

Welcome back! It’s NaNoWriMo month and I’ve been busy the last few days trying to meet my daily word count goal. Hope it’s going well for all you fellow Wrimers! Let’s take a little NaNoWriMO break and get to know another writer. This time we’re sitting down with Carol Cooper. Carol is a British author, journalist, and doctor. She practices medicine in London and writes on health for The Sun, Britain’s best-selling newspaper. After a string of parenting books and an award-winning medical textbook, she turned to writing fiction. Her novels are all about 30-somethings looking for love, and they’re laced with inside medical knowledge. Carol’s latest novel, Hampstead Fever, follows the intertwined lives of six Londoners as emotions boil over one hot summer. You can find it at Amazon and other retailers, and in bookstores in Europe. So get comfortable, grab a cup of java or a glass of wine and let’s get to know Carol Cooper!

 

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Today’s guest, Carol Cooper

Carol, thanks for taking time to hang out with us. Let’s start off by talking about where you’re from. Now I’m a born and bred Philadelphia girl, but I think you mentioned that you’re from a little of everywhere. 

My background is international as my mother had Lebanese and Syrian origins, and my father was British. I was born in London and lived in Egypt until I was eight years old, when my mother and I went to live in the USA. I was in Washington, DC, for more or less 10 years, though there were periods of time in Europe during my high school years. I then studied medicine at Cambridge University, and now live and work in London and Cambridge. The London apartment is in Hampstead, in the heart of the area where my novel Hampstead Fever is set. I don’t always find much time for leisure pursuits, but the riverbank always beckons.

I love London. It’s got to be one of my favorite places in the world–and Hampstead is such a beautiful area. And I love it that you set your novel in Hampstead. I haven’t had a chance to read Hampstead Fever yet.  For readers who are new to Carol, I’m going to share the blurb now: 

hampstead-fever-final-ebook-coverA heatwave in London and trouble is brewing…

Chef Dan should be blissfully happy. He has the woman of his dreams and a job in a trendy Hampstead bistro. But his over-anxious partner, engrossed in their baby, has no time for him now.

Stressed doctor Geoff finds solace in the arms of a moody actress. Journalist Harriet’s long-term relationship with Sanjay hits the buffers, leaving each of them with serious questions to answer. Meanwhile single mother of four Karen misses the intimacy of marriage, but lacks the appetite for a proper relationship.

Passion and panic rise in the heat, but who can spot the danger signs?

Okay, you’ve got me hooked–I’ve one-clicked it on Amazon, so it should be in my Kindle now.  Let’s talk a little about writing. I think I always knew I wanted to be a writer–what about you? When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

I was 100% sure by the time I was in my first year at university. As a child, I had wanted to own a button shop, and as a teenager my heart was set on becoming a nuclear physicist. Of course, when I first embarked on a novel at college, it never got off the ground because I knew nothing of life at the time, except how to pass exams.

I know what you mean about trying to write a novel in college and not having enough life experience. I never finished any of the novels I started in college. They just weren’t very good and it was mostly due to not having enough experience that the story or the characters even mattered. 

That’s exactly what I mean. A writer needs life experience in order to write something that’s interesting.

Was there a particular author or book that inspired you to become a novelist?

I’ve read a lot of inspiring books, and have been lucky enough to meet some great authors, but it was the queen of British crime fiction, the late Ruth Rendell, who convinced me to stick at novel-writing. She was the tutor on a writing course that I attended in the mid-1990s. By then, I was doing a lot of health journalism and already had some non-fiction books in the pipeline, but I had a hankering to write novels. It was Ruth Rendell who pointed out my strong points as well as my weaknesses, and persuaded me to keep going.

I am in awe. I love Ruth Rendell’s novels. I would have  loved to take a writing course with her. Her novel, A Dark Adapted Eye, is on my list of all-time favourite novels. Speaking of Ruth Rendell, she often tackled some very serious and controversial topics in her novels. Are there any subjects that are taboo for you when it comes to reading or writing? 

I’m an animal lover, so I would say cruelty to animals. It’s not something I’m very interested in reading or writing about.

I totally agree with you. I have a hard time even reading newspaper articles about cruelty to animals. And I doubt I’ll ever feature it in any of my novels. So do you think fiction address 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 believe it should. Books that ignore racism and other forms of injustice aren’t doing their thing, and they’re not realistic either. Even romantic novels need a toe-hold in the real world.

Yes! That’s how I feel too. Even when I read to escape, I want to feel that the world I am reading about it realistic. What about social media? Do you think today’s authors need it to survive?

Social media can take up a lot of time without necessarily selling any books. But today’s readers really do want to know more about authors and about the world around the books they read, so I think it’s almost essential for a writer to be busy on at least one social media platform, and to interact. I’m most active on Twitter and Facebook, and I dabble with Pinterest and Instagram.

Me too. I am a Pinterest junkie. I use it for inspiration. I have to rein myself in sometimes. It’s the same with Facebook. I have to make sure I focus and don’t get too sucked into it. Let’s talk writing spaces. Do you have a favourite place to write? 

It’s not exactly a writing space, but I love to write beside the river Cam in Cambridge (the one in England). It’s a place with a rich literary heritage, and it’s also where I was a student. I find it uplifting to be by the banks of the river with a notebook and pencil, perhaps under a weeping willow. These days Cambridge plays host to hordes of tourists, but you can still find spots where there are just swans, geese, grazing cattle, and the occasional boat going by.

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A slice of paradise in Cambridge

I don’t blame you. That is one stunning view. I could sit there and dream and plot… Now, I know most authors have a favourite character. Which of your characters is your favourite?

I love almost all my characters, though Laure and Geoff really stand out: Laure and Geoff. Laure, being half Lebanese, is insecure despite her career as a hot-shot lawyer, and she has a lot of uncertainty about her cultural identity. Geoff is special because, as a doctor, he finds it challenging to deal with the minutiae of present day medical practice that take up so much time when all he really wants to do is made people better. But there’s also Sanjay, who’s impulsive, inquisitive, loyal, and funny, and loves music…. Can I have three favourites?

Of course you can! 🙂 I think I have two or three who my favourites. It depends on my mood.

I’m always curious which authors other authors read. Who would you recommend to people looking for someone new to read?

Three British authors really stand out for me: JJ Marsh, Clare Flynn, and Jane Davis. These indie authors have an international flavor, especially Marsh and Flynn, and I think their stories will all resonate with a very wide readership. I’d especially recommend Human Rites which is a detective novel by JJ Marsh, The Green Ribbons by Clare Flynn, and Jane Davis’s I Stopped Time, or her latest title My Counterfeit Self.

 

 

I’m going to add those to my TBR List. Carol, it’s been so nice chatting with you. Before we finish off our session, what advice would you give to novice writers?

Keep writing, even when you don’t feel like it. Whatever shape your thoughts are in, get them down. You can refine a rough draft later, but it’s mighty hard to edit a blank page.

Thanks again for joining us today, Carol! Peeps, make sure you follow Carol so you can find out what she’s up to and stay up to date on when her next book is coming out.

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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…Danielle Allen

I’m a little behind schedule this week. Some things going on at work ended up crowding out everything else. But I am trying to get back on track again, and this time we get to meet author Danielle Allen! Danielle loves football, fashion, film and fiction. She spends her days teaching and event planning and her nights writing. She’s the author of the Back to Life Series (Back to Life, Back to Reality, and not yet released spinoff Back to December), Love Discovered in New York, Autumn & Summer, the Heartache Series (Heartache, Heartfelt, and the not yet released Heartless*), Work Song, and The One.

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Danielle, thanks for joining us today. I’m sure our readers want to get to know you better, so why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m from Virginia and I still live here. I am looking to move to another state to just experience something new. I am a professor at a college and when I’m not teaching, I enjoy creating female empowerment opportunities. As much as I love to get lost in a book, I also watch a ridiculous amount of TV and movies. I’m a huge fan of Shonda Rhimes!! I love karaoke with my friends and enjoying time with friends and family.

Ooh! I love karaoke and Shona Rhimes too. One of these days I have to tell you about the time my friends and I won a karaoke contest at a country-western bar in Richmond. But that’s for another time. 🙂 OK, so spill the beans, Danielle. When did you first know you wanted to be an author? 

I wrote a short story in elementary school and I always thought it would be cool to write. I didn’t actually make a point of doing it until I created my 30 by 30 list in 2011. And as I approached my 30th birthday in 2013, I told myself that I needed to do it. So I did and I haven’t looked back!

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What inspired you to become a novelist? Were you inspired by another writer or was it something else? 

Before the big Indie Author boom, I wasn’t finding too many books about African American women in their 20s that weren’t focused on stereotypical depictions. So I decided to write a book that I would want to read and that book ended up being Back to Life.

It was the same for me when I first began writing. I decided I had to write the books I wanted to read. So are you a plotter or pantster?

I’m a total pantser. I just like to see where the characters take me.

Speaking of plotting and pantsing, are you working on a new book now? Can you give us a sneak peek of the plot?

I am working on two different novels. One is a surprise sequel — it started off as an extended epilogue and then it just grew into a novel.

 

Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 22.32.17What are you reading now? 

I’m not reading anything. It’s difficult for me to read and write at the same time. I know plenty of authors who do it, but for me, I just need to focus on one or the other.

 

I know what you mean. As much as I love reading,  reading other books while I am working on something new can be distracting.  So tell me–what is your favorite part of being a writer? 

My favorite part of being a writer is being able to connect with people from all over the world. Having one of my stories or one of my characters touch someone by entertaining them, inspiring them, uplifting them, etc. I remember when I was looking for contemporary romance novels to read and not seeing myself reflected in the heroines. So being able to create that opportunity for someone else gives me joy.

 

 

I love it! I know exactly what you mean. Now tell me–what’s your take on writers being active on Twitter, Facebook, Periscope? Do you think being on social media is an absolute must for today’s authors? 

I don’t have a large following or a huge fan, base so being active on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram is important to me. With the reach on these platforms dwindling, trying to find new, creative, unique ways to interact with readers.

 

So Danielle, do you think fiction should take on 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?

Depends on the story. I believe a work of fiction should encapture whatever message the writer is trying to convey. Some stories don’t need the addition of social issues to tell the story. Some stories need do need it to tell the story. I think it’s most important to tell a believable story. In my novel, Work Song, the heroine deals with dating in the workplace, working in a male dominated field, and body shaming. My novel, The One, deals with the media’s treatment of minorities and women (specifically on TV). Although, both novels are primarily romance novels and focus heavily on the love story, they address those social issues.

If you could work on a collaborative project with any writer, who would be your dream writing partner?

My dream writing partner would be Shonda Rhimes!

Me too! I would love it if she read my books and developed them into a movie or limited run series. Now tell me–what was the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

You can’t please everyone, so write for yourself.

So true! And what advice would you give to novice writers?

Write the story that you want to tell! Your novel is a reflection of you so make sure you put out your best possible product.

Many thanks to Danielle for joining us today! Don’t forget to check out Danielle’s novels and make sure you follow her on

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Getting to know…Stephanie Williams

After a very long hiatus, the Getting to know… interviews have returned. Every second Friday, I’ll be featuring interviews with authors whom I think you should get to know. Today’s author is Stephanie Williams! Stephanie writes erotic fiction and based in Toronto, Canada. So pour yourself a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, kick back, relax and get to know Stephanie…

What is your favorite part of being a writer? 

It’s a mental escape for one thing. Also, I love world building and creating interesting characters. These are people that you may (or may not) want to meet in real life. I love for people to read places and situations that I’ve made up in my mind and they enjoy them.

In essence, I love telling the story. 🙂

twinpeakscover4 (2)Are you working on a new book now? Can you give us a sneak peek of the plot?

I am working on a ménage à trois series. It’s a series of three books. There might be a set of five. The first set is coming out now, slowly but surely, LOL.

TWIN PEAKS is now available and the second book in the series is ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT.

They’re all short shorts, ranging from 8k-12k, each .99 cents. The heat level ranges form Hot to down right raunchy! There’s something for everyone. But all the books deal with people getting or considering a ménage a trois relationship. For more details you can go to my blog.

 


Your stories are pretty steamy! When you write, do you imagine any particular actors/actresses as your leads? Or do you find inspiration elsewhere?

I find inspiration in The Hubster and Mutual Friend. For those that don’t know the story, check out my blog. I have yet to find an actress or actor that does it for me. If the hero is someone totally different from my guys, I look at cover models. They’re always inspirational. *WINK*

Should fiction address 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 think you should write what ever you want. Just because some people don’t want to read something, doesn’t mean there isn’t a group that’s not interested. There is something for everyone.

I hate spiders, but there are people who like them and they may want to read about them. That was so random, wasn’t it.

So if want to make a social statement about something, and you have that urge to write about it, go ahead! Someone will buy it.

So tell me: what are you reading now?

I, Claudius. I’m in a Classical Greek and Roman mood this month.

copcover4Tell me about a typical day of writing for you.

Since I have a new career outside the home, I had to change things up a bit. I write during my lunch break, and as soon as I get home for three hours. Saturday I write from 5am to 5pm. I’m consistent no matter what, unless sick of course, then I have a whole lot of catching up to do. LOL

 

 

Many 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? Is it vital for today’s authors? On which social media platforms are you active?

Yes, it’s still vital, but it’s not what’s going to bring in the huge readership of the big bucks. Not like it did from say, 10-12 years ago. When I first started writing, My Space (remember that social platform) was big. Yahoo Groups too. But there weren’t as many authors and would-be writers then.

Now the pond has become an ocean of writers, and it’s harder to vie for recognition. You have to use other avenues to advertise your work now. You need to be more creative.

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

Ursula Sinclair, she writes great suspense thriller IR romances , LaVerne Thompson, is a great NA writer. She has very edgy stories. Stacy Deanne, another great Romantic Suspense writer, Jamallah Bergman has wonderful IR Full-Figured Romances, Kate Richards, she has a great cowboy series and Dahlia DeWinters is another great multicultural writer.

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

Don’t just write what you know, write what you want to know more about. I got that advice from my old World Literature Professor from college.

 

What advice would you give to novice writers?

A: If you have a story inside you that you just need to get out, that you feel burning to be told–WRITE IT DOWN! Don’t let anyone (especially non-writers), tell you that story will never sell, or nobody wants to read story about…whatever. So what? You have a story to tell.

Many thanks to Stephanie for joining us today! Want to know more about Stephanie? Remember to head over to her blog to find out more about her ménage à trois series. And don’t forget to add Twin Peaks and Arrested Develeopment to your TBR lists!

Getting to know Ines Johnson

It’s time for another instalment of my “Getting to know…” series. Today, author Ines Johnson is joining us. I first heard about Ines through Facebook–we’re both passionate about diversity in romance writing– and after reading her novel, Pumpkin: a Cindermama story, I asked her to join my release party for Maybe Forever. Ines is based in Washington, DC and writes erotic, paranormal and fairytale romances. Add her books to your TBR list, and follow her on Amazon, Goodreads and Facebook

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 07.25.03When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?

I come from a family of storytellers. My mother would talk your ears off for hours and my father is a songwriter. I began my storytelling career in television, where I still dabble from time to time. A few years ago I’d written a script that I thought would make an excellent book, only I didn’t know how to write a book. So I took a couple of classes and started querying. I never received a single rejection letter. Instead, I got no responses at all in the beginning! But I never gave up and I never stopped writing. Wait, isn’t the the definition of insanity?

Do you have a favorite place to write?

I do my best writing at hightop tables where I can alternately sit or stand while typing on my laptop. A cuppa is a must. My favorite is a cuppa soy chai, sweetened with honey. I write best in the morning from 8am until lunchtime. Nights are reserved for reading.

Where do you find your inspiration when you write?

I’m a very bad Buddhist. I sit each week in sangha, which is similar to sitting in a church pew on Sunday. In a sangha the teacher, think preacher, will  lecture on spiritual teachings and guide the group in mediation. During meditation when I’m supposed to be getting my zen on, my mind always wanders back to the teaching and turns it into a story.

Tell us about your latest release. What inspired this book?

I released my debut fairytale retelling in March. It’s called Pumpkin: a Cindermama story. Here’s the blurb:

Single mother Malika “Pumpkin” Tavares lost faith in fairytales after she fell for a toad. Now she believes she’s not cut from the storybook, heroine cloth and searches for Mr. Good Enough amongst the sidekicks and supporting men of the town. Love at first sight isn’t a cliche for town royalty Armand “Manny” Charmayne because for generations the Charmayne’s have spotted their soulmates be seeing a golden aura around them the first time they laid eyes on them. When Manny meets Pumpkin he sees…nothing, but sparks fly off the richter scale. The more he gets to know her the more he considers defying fate, if only he can convince her to take a chance on love again.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Could you describe your writing process for us?

I love plotting. Its my favorite part of writing. I love to go into Scrivener and use the Outline tool to plan the journey of my characters. I can recite just about any plotting structure you can think of. The Hero’s Journey, Save the Cat, Romance Arc, Relationship Arc…I could go on.

The first time I tried to write a book it took me one year to write the first three chapters because I agonized over each word choice. Now, I believe in fast drafting. Vomit the story onto the page without a care for comma placement. All told, it takes me about six months from the first drafted word to the final polished manuscript.

I take three to four weeks for the first draft, which I call The Dirty. I let The Dirty breath for as long as I am able to be parted with it -usually a week or two. Then I come back and Sweep up the grammar and plot holes, which usually takes another three to four weeks.

Next I send The Swept draft out to my trusted critique partners. When it comes back I Clean it up for another three weeks focusing on my weaknesses which is setting. Finally, I send The Clean manuscript off to the copyeditor for two to three weeks. When it comes back I Polish up all the commas and rethink my overused words. Then I hit publish, and start all over again!

Whats the hardest part about being a writer?

I went to school for producing and screenwriting, and worked in the broadcasting industry for over a decade, before trying my hand at novel writing. I wrote my first novel in 2009. It was based on a script that I wrote but couldn’t find the financing for. I was so proud of my work, but readers and critique partners noted that it was evident that I was a screenwriter and didn’t understand the mechanics of novelization. Screenwriting consists of action and dialogue. That’s it. In scripts, there is no internal monologuing and setting is minimal. I had some learning to do. Five years, and a ton of classes later, I’ve got four published novels lush in setting and internal angst.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Why are you so partial to that character?

My favorite character is still my first hero, the pleasure monk, Jian, from The Pleasure Hound.

The elements of a great romance is when the hero and heroine fit each others need. There’s a preponderance of books where pain is pleasure. And that’s okay with me -when I believe that there’s actually pleasure being had. I’ve read too many books where women are getting spanked just to get spanked. It’s not clear how the act satisfies a need in them, nor is it clear that the man understands and is acting to fulfill that need. That understanding is the sexy part to me: a woman who knows (perhaps subconsciously) what she needs and a man who knows exactly how to give it to her.

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 07.26.23My book, The Pleasure Hound, came into being out of this frustration. I wanted to read about a heroine who was eager to explore pleasure. I wanted to encounter a hero who was skilled in, and solely interested in, that woman’s pleasure. My hero, Jian, studies women’s bodies like textbooks. After thorough perusal of, he emerges ready to ace the examination.

Do you have a critique partner? If so, could you describe how you work together?

I have a fairy book sistah in author L. Penelope. We’ve been sharing stories since our days as film students and college roommates. In 2014, after a few years at NANO and writing workshops, we made a pact to self-publish in 2015. Pulling, pushing and shoving each other along, we both made it through and haven’t looked back.

We share WIP drafts in the early stages of crazy sentences and plotting derailments; messy pages that we would never show our editors. For me, the early stages is the only time that I’m open to making changes in my story. Once I start painting my words with pretty prose I’m no longer open to critique.

Which books are on your TBR list? Do you have any particular indie writers who are your favourites at the moment?

I’m obsessed with Ernessa T. Carter who just went indie. Her book “32 Candles,” is an 80’s fairytale retelling for women of color.

Whats next for you? Are there any new publications in the pipeline? If so, could you tell us about them?

Author Ines Johnson

Author Ines Johnson

I’m currently working on the second book in the Cindermama series. These books are fairytale retellings featuring single mothers as the heroines. The first story is Pumpkin: a Cindermama Story, which is a retelling of the Cinderella story. This story is based on actual events. Shortly after my divorce, I was out with my two children at a community farmer’s market. A really handsome politician waved me over and began chatting with me about his platform. I was more interested in his light-colored eyes. But my burgeoning fantasy was dashed when my son sauntered over and embarrassing words spewed from his mouth. I ushered myself and my kids away, chiding my silly imagination. What man would be interested in a single mother of two school-aged kids? There are no fairytales featuring mothers as the heroines.

That night, I rewrote the events of the day to my liking. In my imagination, the light-eyed politician asked me out, after winning over my guard dog of a son. We got married and I moved out of my apartment and into some big mansion with a closet stocked full of name brand clothes. Oh, that closet…

Anyway, it was October, and so I plotted the book for the next month of NANO. The completed manuscript sat in a drawer for years because I didn’t think anyone would want to read a story where a single mother was the hero. Thankfully, I was wrong. Every woman deserves an HEA.

Thanks so much to Ines for joining us! Hope we can meet in person when I am in the US again! 

Review: Angelborn by L. Penelope

AngelbornWhat a beautifully written novella! What happens when a halfling angel falls in love with a human but is unable to bind with her soul? That’s the dilemma in Angelborn. In Caleb’s case, it lands him in the Wasteland, a dark place where those with no soul wait for the rare chance to get a new soul. But Caleb escapes and goes in search of the soul of the woman he loves–a soul that’s been reincarnated in the body of Genna, a college student whose modern sensibilities confuse Caleb.

And then there is Maia, Genna’s roommate, who is haunted–literally. She sees ghosts and is haunted by one whose anger sometimes physically manifests itself in violent ways. When Caleb and Maia meet, an undeniable connection is formed that leaves them both questioning what they want and why they want it. It makes them question the very nature of love. Maia and Caleb’s story was captivating from page one. One of my favourite aspects about Angelborn is how L. Penelope writes about angels *without* adding biblical overtones. Her portrayal of angels is more reminiscent of deities from mythology, which allows a secular person like me to be able to enjoy a story without getting a lesson from the Bible.

With finely etched characters and a compelling plot, Angelborn will leave you wanting to know more of Caleb and Maia’s story. This was my first time reading L. Penelope and I am sure it won’t be the last time.

My rating?

5_Star

Getting to know Michele Kimbrough

Time for another edition of Getting to know… Today, we meet fellow indie author Michele Kimbrough. Michele and I came into contact last year when both of us were going through a bout of writing malaise.  We’ve been cheering each other on every since. I had the chance to read Michele’s latest release, Dangerously in Love, a great film noir-esque story. (Make sure you add it to your TBR List or 1-click it ASAP!) I thought it would be fun to to get know Michele a little better. Let’s see what she has in store for us. 🙂 

 

Do you have a favorite place to write?

I started out writing at Starbucks and Panera Bread (very comfy seating). But one day, I was lying in bed ill but had an idea for a plot twist. So I grabbed my laptop, propped myself up on my bed and wrote. That was the most comfortable writing I’d ever done. So, now, I am often found sitting on my bed writing.

Book Cover - DILTell us about your latest release, Dangerously in Love. What inspired this book?

I’m in love with this story. Two things inspired this story. The first thing was an FBI case I read about. I thought it was so outlandish that it might make a great fictional story. That same day, I watched an old favorite movie of mine. Then I was struck by inspiration. 

I think my faithful readers tell what Dangerously in Love is about best. So I’m going to let them tell it: 

Bookclub Reader said, “The main characters are Hill and Caitlin. After a case Hill was working on went south, he decided to change his profession as a lawyer and became a landscaper. Also during this life change he became disengaged in his relationship with long-time love Samantha. Caitlin was on a journey of lust, deception, and revenge to make those responsible pay for the tragedy brought upon her family.” 

Journalist Reader said, “When we open up the book, we meet Ms. Caitlin stumbling into the gruesome scene of a triple homicide. One which almost found her caught up in it as well. Skip ahead a few years, and now Caitlin is the beautiful and desirable wife of a “Suge Knight” type husband named Adam. Adam hires an attractive landscaper named Hill. Hill flirts, from a distance, with Catlin and catches the swiftest, quickest, most thorough asskicking ever. That still didn’t stop the two from having some of the steamiest, hottest and riskiest sex ever.”

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Could you describe your writing process for us?

I’m most certainly a pantser but I never start a story until I know who the characters are and what the major plot points will be. Then I fly by the seat of my pants, allowing the characters to drive, until midway through the story. At that point, I outline the remainder of the story. 

By the halfway point, the characters are fleshed out, their antics have roots and I need a roadmap to direct them to the conclusion. 🙂 I usually have seven drafts by the time the manuscript is ready for the editor.

Which three authors would you love to meet for a good gab session? Why those three writers? What do you think you’d talk about and where would you want the gab session to take place?

I’d love to chat it up with Stephen King, Harlan Coben and Walter Mosley at a bar and grill over shots of tequila and burgers. These writers are masters at what they do and I’d love to just sit with them and have a casual meal to hear how their creative mind works.

Author Michele Kimbrough

Author Michele Kimbrough

What’s the hardest part about being a writer?

I think the hardest part for me is managing my expectations. When I’m promoting, I have great expectations that people will flock to Amazon and one-click my books, ascending them to the bestseller lists. On the flip side, when my books go live on Amazon, my stomach tightens and my heart races. Why? Because I’m often petrified of what people are going to think of my stories – fearing I’d get a bunch of hate mail telling me to keep my day job, which, by the way, is writing news articles.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, could you share your playlist with us?

I will listen to music before I write for inspiration or to set the mood/emotion for me. However, I cannot write with music playing. It’s too distracting. I get lost in the lyrics and my mind shifts from writing to listening. My playlist is quite varied, from classical to country to R&B.

What are three things you’ve learned since you first began publishing? Is there anything you’d do differently if you could do it all over again?

(1) Ego has no place in writing — it only serves to stifle you. (2) Lose the expectations (as I explained earlier). (3) Have fun. If you aren’t having fun, then you aren’t enjoying it. And if you aren’t enjoying it, that energy will transfer to the page and your readers will feel it. Not a good look. 

If I could do it over, I’d make sure I understood for certain what genre I wanted to focus on (not necessarily exclusively but if my readers were to describe me, they’d know what genre to associate me with). I’d also write under a pen name.

Which of your books would you recommend to someone who is new to your writing? Do you have a particular favourite? If so, why is it your favorite?

So far, each of my books are quite different and fall in different subgenres. If you like a really fast paced book, I recommend Dangerously in Love. If you like high drama, I recommend Prudence. If you love a good unexpected twist, you’ll enjoy Wildflower. My favorite is Wildflower because of the subject matter and family dynamics. I love the characters and how they interact with each other.

What’s next for you? Are there any new publications in the pipeline? If so, could you tell us about them?

Currently, I’m writing a story that was originally intended for readers between 9 and 12 years old. However, as I get deeper into the story, I believe this story will resonate with readers 12 and older. I expect that it will be ready for publishing by the end of Summer.

Connect with Michele Kimbrough

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Amazon

 

 

Blog Tour: Sins of the Father by Thelonius Legend

sotf announcement banner

10 Random Facts – Get to Know Thelonius Legend 

  1.  I’m the 2nd oldest of five kids.
  2.  I once held a meet record for the bench-press and dead-lift total. (If I tell you my totals I have to kill you.)
  3. I come from a working class family (OK we was po, not poor, but po!) and I was the first one to go to college.
  4. A girl once broke up with me because she said I read too much. (She tried to friend me on Facebook a few years back and she was, say it with me… DENIED!)
  5. I once sparred with ex-world champion William Joppy (have never had less fun in the boxing ring). Sometimes when I close my eyes I can still see the punches coming.
  6. Mild mannered IT consultant by day and did some work for a small organization called the IRS. One of my most famous or rather infamous applications while there was the Where’s My Refund link. (Don’t act like you don’t know what that is!)
  7. One of my pet peeves is reading terribly choreographed fight scenes. Fight scenes that make absolutely no sense logistically or stylistically. Drives me crazy.
  8. I can smoke ribs like no-ones business. No, I’m serious–I am really good at making ribs.
  9. When I was in college me and my buddies would have a big home cooked meal every Sunday and then each of us would take 100 pennies to the $1 movies show. The movie people hated but what can you do–it’s legal tender.
  10. The first book I remember reading and still love is the Purple Crayon.

Sins of the FatherAbout the Book

This was going to be a special year for the Parker sisters. Eve was going to dominate in the classroom and on the basketball court.

Gwen was going to make the starting five and go down in history as the greatest prankster ever. Ana was going to do as little as possible.

But without warning, all three sisters gain extraordinary abilities that defy science… powers that come with a cost. Now all they want to do is make it through the school year without drawing any undue attention, while racing to find a cure before the side effects of their new abilities kill them. Eve’s temperament, Gwen’s fondness for pranks, and Ana’s predilection for money, however, are challenges they must overcome to achieve their goals. Because if they can’t, they’re dead…

Book Links

Amazon: Purchase Link

Barnes & Noble: Purchase Link

Goodreads: Connect about it on Goodreads!

Book Depository: Pick up internationally!

 

TLAbout the Author

IT Professional by day, but by night I use my pen and pad as a canvas to explore questions of race, identity, privilege and class in a science fiction setting. Eclectic reader with a fondness for the classics and first generation Hip Hop snob. Don’t start none won’t be none! Philadelphia Eagles football fanatic and I also enjoy MMA from the safety of my couch. On the weekends you can find me wine drinking, rock climbing, fishing, or being an unpaid chauffeur to my daughters’ activities. Also I’m a snark purveyor and been making with the funny since it was called the ‘Dozens’. Get at me!

 

Connect with Thelonius Legend

Website: Official Blog

Facebook: Sins of The Father Page

Twitter: @TheLegendBooks

Goodreads: Author Profile

 

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Coming Soon: Defined by Others by MCV Egan

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 07.13.05

The Trailer for Defined by Others by MCV Egan

A Sneak Peek at Chapter One of Defined by Others

Chapter One

I sat in Pete’s office after the video ended, staring at the screen with her frozen image. The illness that eventually took her life left her looking gaunt and ravaged. When her coffin was lowered into the grave the day before I was left feeling as if with her body, her casket, her illness they were also burying that which makes life an adventure and with that much of my youth and perhaps some part of my future.
As I stared at her face my mouth felt dry, my hands had a slight tremor mimicking my lower lip, and not even in my thoughts could I quite find a word to define this moment, to describe my feelings. I burst out crying in loud, wracking sobs and I heard the door open. Through my heavy tears the contact lenses swam and moved in my eyes, making everything seem a blur. I felt the hand on my shoulder before he handed me the tissues.
“Can I get you something Anne? Anything? Water? Coffee?” he asked.
I blew my nose and composed myself as best I could.
“Water, ice cold water would be nice.”
“It’s a little early, but I can offer you something stronger if you’d prefer,” he said as he walked toward a bar in the back of his office.
“No, thanks. Water with ice will be fine.”
The musical clink of the ice cubes against the glass was the familiar tone made only by fine crystal. I recognized the Baccarat pattern; it was the same as the crystal in my parents’ home. He hesitated and cleared his throat before he spoke again.
“I know speaking ill of the dead is in very poor taste, but Amanda was not a nice person. I am bound, as her attorney, to follow her instructions to the letter. You can watch what is obviously a pretty nasty recording as many times as you wish, but when you are done I need to destroy it, in front of you. Then I am to hand you a box, and again you are to open it in absolute privacy, so preferably not in this office. Can I suggest I destroy it right here and now? I have pliers and I can smash the flash drive into nothing.”
“It really is not at all what you imagine. She was even nice and apologized in it. She could be an absolute bitch, but my tears and sadness are not for her.”
“Oh, I see. How’s your dad doing?”
“Better.”
“We were all surprised to see you at the funeral. I actually expected to fly down to Florida and hand all this to you there. She left a nice expense account for that. How long have you been in town?”
“Just a few days. Mom assumed they’d be flying up for Thanksgiving. They are so afraid Obama will get re-elected after the Romney tape that they wanted to vote in person.”
“He might win you know. Although you would not know it in this town by the Romney signs everywhere.”
“Signs can’t vote.”
“Spoken like a true Democrat.”
“Yeah, yet another choice where I absolutely failed my parents.”
“Don’t knock yourself, I do not think any of us live up to parental expectations.”
I drank the ice cold water and nodded my head at the screen. No words were needed as he closed the file and Amanda’s face disappeared from the screen.
He pulled out the flash drive and reached into a drawer. He crunched and cracked the flash drive so viciously that I knew he too had fallen prey to one or more of Amanda’s nasty games.
“I think it is pretty much done. If you are not sure, why don’t you shoot it?”
“That is not a bad idea.”
We started to laugh in unison. I did not recognize it at the time, later though it became clear that we bonded, laughing over the nasty remains of a common enemy. I gathered my things, including the package Amanda had bequeathed me, and Pete walked me to the car.
“It would only be a conflict of interest to offer help in anything regarding Amanda, so if you need any help with your parents’ home, don’t hesitate to call me. Do you still have the card I gave you yesterday at the funeral?”
“It is such a small town, Pete, even if I lose the card, now that everyone knows I’m here it will be hard to avoid me.”
I stopped at the grocery store on my way home since everyone in town knew I was there, there was no sense in driving into the city to get what I needed. I had already put a nice dent in Mom’s pantry and Dad’s bar. I had been there well over a week, trying to understand what I had missed, how I had not known about Frank. Then Amanda died and curiosity got the better of me. What did Alison say? Her voice echoed in my mind;
‘Enemies always attend each other’s funerals. I guess it is a way of knowing they won …’
Well, we weren’t always enemies, and sometimes it is the good and healthy memories that make someone attend a funeral. Amanda was the first of us to die. At forty-seven it seemed too young to bury a contemporary. Once she was diagnosed, it was only a matter of time. In fact, it was pretty amazing she lasted as long as she did, money it seems, can buy you time if nothing else. And in 2012, time can mean science and technology might just come up with some medication or medical treatment that changes everything.
Unfortunately, it had not worked for Amanda, but so far it had worked for my dad. This last stroke seemed to be the first time he had an untimely health issue, with no easy fix in sight.
Amanda fought hard for a good two years and then lost; the image of her greenish skin color and emaciated body made that perfectly clear. Her beautiful heart-shaped face was gaunt, and her eyes were sunken in the video. However, the voice was the strangest and most unrecognizable trait. Was it karma to go so slowly and with so much suffering? Our shopping carts collided, and I was startled by that as much as I was startled by the tone of her voice.
“Hi Anne.”
“Connie? I did not see you at Amanda’s funeral yesterday. I just thought you were not in town.”
“I don’t like funerals, so I sent flowers, I saw the comments and pictures everyone posted on Facebook.
Frankly I was surprised you were there.”
“Facebook? People posted pictures from the funeral? I have some friends in Florida who use it but I personally avoid social media; I did consider it as a tool to spy on my kids.”
“Most people in town use it in a very public way.”
She looked at me in the oddest way so I had to ask.
“Is something wrong?”
She sighed, loudly the way a parent or teacher does when exasperated that a kid cannot give the right answer or tell the truth.
“You really don’t know do you?”
Small town gossip and now combined with the use of cyberspace, I could only assume was not a great combination. I began to feel uneasy and wondered if it had anything to do with Frank. I decided to disregard the thought. I simply could not imagine that whatever Connie was referring to was of any serious consequence to me.
“You know Connie, my dad is really ill, I am just here getting the house in order for my folks and trying to figure out the best way to help get them settled in
Florida full-time.”
“I am really sorry about your dad Anne. We really need to talk; it’s about Frank and… well it’s about Frank. I can go over to your parents’ house tonight, I’ll bring a nice dinner.”
This time I could easily and clearly find the word, THE WORD that defined the moment; dumbfounded. In a small town gossip travelled like wildfire; at least in this small town it did, but mom had assured me no-one knew about Frank. I was not sure what to say, but Connie’s abrupt manner did not give me much of a chance.
“I…”
“Believe me, this is just as uncomfortable for me as it is for you, but we really need to talk. Simply put, it is about Frank and Mike.”
I learned at a very young age about the moments that define us in life and how sometimes they feel as concrete as a ton of bricks falling loudly and painfully on top of us. This was one of those moments; not at all like the subtle hidden moment when Pete and I laughed together. So my mother was wrong and if my Frank’s problem was involved with Connie’s Mike. Well, there it was and it made sense now the smartphones were clicking away at the funeral. It was my turn to sigh, this one was a sigh of defeat.
“At what time tonight?”
“Is seven okay? Like I said I’ll bring dinner.”
“You really think we’ll be hungry under the circumstances? I asked perhaps in a tone too sarcastic and maybe even with a touch of cruelty.
“Fine, I’ll bring wine she answered.”
“I nodded robotically, I started to pile food into the shopping cart, and as the salesclerk rang it up I noticed that I had chosen all of my husband’s, Frank’s favorite foods.

About the Author

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 07.20.23M.C.V. Egan is the pen name chosen by Maria Catalina Vergara Egan the author of The Bridge of Deaths in two versions as well as the soon to be released Defined by Others.
Catalina was born in Mexico City, Mexico in 1959, the sixth of eight children, in a traditional Catholic family. Communication in such a large family fueled her desire and need to find a voice and write.
She only spent her childhood in Mexico. Her father became an employee of The World Bank in Washington D.C. From the early 1970s at the age of 12 she moved with her entire family to the United States.

Catalina was already fluent in Southern English as she had spent one school year in the town of Pineville, Louisiana with her grandparents. There she won the English award; ironically being the only one who had English as a second language in her class. In the D.C. suburbs she attended various private Catholic schools and graduated from Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland in 1977.

She attended Montgomery Community College, where she changed majors every semester. She also studied in Lyons, France at the Catholic University for two years. In 1981, due to an impulsive young marriage to a Viking (The Swedish kind, not the football player kind) Catalina moved to Sweden where she resided for five years and taught at a language school for Swedish, Danish, and Finnish business people. She returned to the USA in the late 1980s where she has been living ever since. She is fluent in Spanish, English, French and Swedish.

Maria Catalina Vergara Egan is married and has one son, who together with their five pound Chihuahua make her feel like a fulltime mother. Although she would not call herself an Astrologer she has taken many classes and taught a few beginner classes in Astrology. This is one of her many past times when she is not writing or researching.

Get in touch with MCV Egan 

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THE BRIDGE OF DEATHS

4covert2overt A Day In The Spotlight

Is History The Agreed Upon Lie?

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