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… Ursula Sinclair

It’s Friday again, which means it’s time for another Getting to know… session! Today we have romance author Ursula Sinclair, the alter ego for LaVerne Thompson, an award winning, best- selling, multi-published author, an avid reader and a writer of contemporary, fantasy, and sci/fi sensual romances. She writes romantic suspense and new adult  romance under the pen name Ursula Sinclair. Ursula shares a little of everything with us–including an excerpt from her latest book, Shaken, which is part of the Club Prestige series. Make yourselves comfortable and let’s get to know Ursula. 

LaVerneWhen did you first know you wanted to be an author?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, even before I was old enough to realize what I was doing I wrote my stories on the walls. Much to my mother’s chagrin. lol

I can imagine! My mother would have gone ballistic if I’d written on the walls. 🙂 So tell me, which author or book inspired you to become a novelist? 

I’ve always been a voracious reader so I can’t say it was one particular book or person, but I will say that Octavia Butler’s work opened up a whole new sci/fi world for me.

I was late discovering Octavia Butler, but I totally fell in love with her stories.  They were so innovative and she was inclusive in her writing from the very beginning. With that in mind, do you think fiction should  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 authors should write whatever they want to write about, and if that includes relevant social topics of the day I have no problem with that. I don’t believe authors should be limited that way. Just as readers are free to read whatever subject matters or genres interest them or not. There should be something out there for everyone.

I am with you there. I think, even if we write romantic fiction, we should be able to write about whatever issues feel natural to the story or write the stories we want and need to tell.  So tell us — are you a plotter or pantster?

Pantser. Woot Woot! lol

Haha! I am a little of both. I love the freedom of being a pantser, but then I never get to the end. I need a bit of a roadmap.  🙂 So what is your favorite part of being a writer? 

The freedom to let my imagine run where ever it wants to take me, and the freedoms being an indie author brings. I have no limitations and I reap what I sow. But most of all I love bringing something entertaining and enjoyable to my readers.

 

What are you reading now?

I don’t have a lot of time to read so I’ve been listening to a lot of audio books. I can workout while I listen to them. It’s great. Right now I’m listening to Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews, I’m enjoying it.

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

I’m always working on a new book, usually more than one at a time but in different stages. One that I’m working on today is called Lost Gods. It’s about Zeus and how he’s been reborn several times with no memory of his past and his powers have been bound. But the world now faces a great danger and there are powers trying to get him to remember so he can put a stop to the world’s destruction while at the same time trying to ensure that Zeus won’t then turn around and destroy the world himself in his vengeance against the Fates who took away his memories. All the gods are dead, long live the gods. *grins*

Oh wow–I love this idea! I can’t wait to read it!  What do you think is the most difficult part of being a writer? 

For me the most difficult aspect is finding the time to write. As an indie author I’m a self-employed business person and, while I have people behind me, I still have to organize everything and still have to market myself as well as my books. All of which takes up a big chunk of time in which I’d rather be writing.

I know that feeling. I would much rather write than spend time doing promo, which brings me to my next question. 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? Is it vital for today’s authors? 

I can’t speak for all writers, I’m sure there might be a handful not on social media yet they still manage to sell a handful of books. However, to reach the masses it’s a must. The world has become very small and the way it’s accessed these days is through the thing called the internet. More specifically social media platforms. Some people have better success in reaching an audience on one platform over another. Depends on many factors. For me I’m very active on Facebook and Twitter. A little on Google and Pintrest. But the bulk of my connections come primarily from my interaction on Facebook. That’s where the core of my readers are so that’s where I have to be.

Do you have a favorite writing space? Could you describe it for us? 

Ballerina seriesI have an office upstairs, it’s in a lot of disarray right now because I’m collecting swag to take to a few conventions and I’m in the process of renovating the master bathroom and bedroom and I my office is used as a holding area. But it has windows on two sides so I have lots of light. I’ve two framed large oil paintings my kids did for me in art camp when they were younger. My desk is a table I got from an antique shop sanded it down and painted it yellow. My chair is a Henry Miller chair which my cat decided to chew on the handles can you say I want to murder an animal. Yeah.

Sounds like my dearly departed cat, Smokey. He loved to scratch and chew everything.  So what’s your typical day of writing like?

Everyday for me is a writing day. I turn on my laptop and my fingers hit the keys and I just keep going.

 

 

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

JR. Ward.

Angel RisingWhich of your characters is your favorite? Why is she/he your favorite?

My favorite male character is Maze from my Ballerina Series. He does what he has to do and makes no apology about it. Lol My favorite female character is Thalya from Angel Rising. She’s strong willed and can kick ass too.

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

Don’t stop.

What advice would you give to novice writers?

Keep writing. And when you’re finished that book, go on to the next.

Thanks for joining us today, Ursula! Before we sign off, let’s take a sneak peek at Shaken

Shaken Cover

Ursula’s latest book, Shaken. Available now for Kindle, Kobo and iBooks. Cover artist: Minx Malone

Excerpt 

Chapter One

Redd

 I couldn’t quite stifle a yawn. Between my law school classes during the day, studying, and coming into the club every night this week to help out in the Martini Room, I was exhausted. Yet, I wouldn’t trade any of it. Even this, our regular monthly meeting. We would bring up names for consideration of membership in our exclusive strip club. Now after just a year, it was doing very, very well. We even had a waitlist. We were extremely selective in who we allowed in. If you had to ask about our fees, you couldn’t afford us. I glanced around the room at the other four women. I couldn’t have been happier to call them friends and partners in this extraordinary enterprise.

The first time we all met seemed like so long ago, back when some of them were stripping and I was only a bartender. Working in a place that was nothing but a job, a paycheck. No matter how good the money had been, the crap most of us had to put up with drove us to begin our own club. One we could control. A very different kind of place where our employees were safe, which wasn’t always the case in some strip clubs. We were not a brothel. Everyone who worked here and entered the premises knew it.

Olivia tossed a flyer on the table, bringing my attention back to the meeting.

“What’s this?” I picked it up, and after reading it, passed it around.

“This is bullshit,” Andie exclaimed.

We all knew it was. The flier was asking for signatures to shut down the “whorehouse” known as Club Prestige in the middle of their nice, gentrified neighborhood.

The five of us sat upstairs in the four-story building we owned. The top floor held our offices and was where we conducted the behind-the-scenes aspects of the business, but the real running of the club happened on the other floors.

Assholes! Didn’t even know we were not a whorehouse, but a legitimate strip club. Licensed and registered appropriately. We had all of our permits in line. Since I handled the legal aspects for the club, I damn well knew that. Whoever this person was trying to stir things up needed to get her facts straight. For one thing, this area was zoned for both commercial and residential. We also had some pretty influential clients, so I didn’t think this petition would get very far.

“We’re up to date and in compliance with all the city regs,” I said. “So these busybodies need to go get laid.”

After finishing our business, we went our separate ways for the evening.

We each had a room, or section, within the club that we liked to oversee. It made things easier. My favorite place to be was The Martini Room, third floor. I rode the elevator down, and as soon as it opened, the music piped into the hallway flooded my senses. Tonight, the bouncers were dressed in white tuxedos. They nodded at me as I passed. We placed at least one on each floor to keep the clientele and staff safe.

Our club catered to both male and females, having both sexes of dancers for his or her viewing pleasure. Some of the rooms were separated—male dancers in one room, female in another. Some had both.

The Martini Room was where everyone could mingle, and people came together to drink and chat. Not much dancing was done in here, but when it was done, the strippers present made it standing-ovation worthy. The concept of the lounge was my creation, and I loved the atmosphere.

The room was done in purple—so dark, at first glance it looked black—and emerald green. But it was the bar that truly made the room. Handcrafted using a combination of dark mahogany and pinewoods, it took up the entire back wall. The rest of the room had low tables with lush, comfortable S-shaped leather couches where groups could sit, mingle, and drink.

This was more of a social lounge, a place to sit down and enjoy an appetizer or one of the many flavorful martinis the room offered, hence the name. The music was lower here, more soulful, at just the right volume to allow for conversation.

Unlike the room next door. There was a bachelorette party happening there. Every now and then the frosted glass doors to my room opened and I could hear the excited screams of the women. I grinned, knowing they were enjoying Harper’s performance. At six-three with two hundred pounds of lean, rippling muscle, it would be kinda hard not to scream when he moved.

I made my way behind the bar and motioned for Jay. “Go ahead and take off. Congrats and have fun.”

“Thank you, Redd,” Jay said. “You’re the best.”

I usually helped out or filled in for any of the bartenders in the lounge. We had one out sick, and today was Jay’s wedding anniversary. He wanted to surprise his wife by taking her out of town for the weekend. Lucky. I couldn’t remember the last time I had a boyfriend or got laid.

I wasn’t shy. I enjoyed sex as much as the next breathing woman, but my schedule left me little time for a relationship, which I tended to shy away from anyway. I was still fashioning me. Besides, not many could live up to my idea of perfection, at least no one I wanted to come home to every night. So, I settled for a once-in-a-blue-moon scratching, no strings, no expectations. Somewhat lonely perhaps, but necessary. I still had law school to finish and a future to plan before adding anyone else into my chaotic life.

I took a quick visual inventory behind the bar to make sure we had enough supplies. My pom and blueberry martinis were legendary in this town so I had to make sure I had what I needed.

I glanced over the room. Even though the lighting was muted, my eyes were familiar enough with the space to know what to look for. I was making sure everything was as it should be and that our customers were happy. Almost all of the lounge seats were taken, but a few remained at the bar. It was still early in the evening for us. Judging by the glasses in front of everyone and the orders being placed, as well as the smiles and laughter, I’d say it was a good guess everyone was enjoying themselves.

Movement in my peripheral vision had me turning my head in that direction. Someone had just taken a seat at the far end of the bar. Pat, the other bartender, was closer, but I placed a hand on her shoulder, staying her movement and headed toward him.

He had on what looked like a chauffeur’s uniform. The cap he took off and placed on the counter gave it away. A rare sight in here, but sometimes the members are generous and pay extra to have their drivers on premises.

My heart pulsed harder against my rib cage the closer I got and the clearer the lighting became so I got a better look at him. Thick, dark hair and sharp features that could have graced a movie screen or fashion magazine. Damn.

Gunmetal-gray eyes zeroed in on me. I had a sudden itch that needed immediate scratching.

“What can I do for you?” I asked.

Don’t forget to check out Shaken’s trailer. Shaken is available now for your e-reader!

KINDLE | KOBO | iBOOKS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Interview: Getting to know Tia Kelly

A few weeks ago, I discovered indie writer Tia Kelly via another fellow writer, Nia Forrester. I’d just finished reading Nia’s novel, Mistress, which I loved, and was waiting for her next book, Wife, to come out. Then Nia shared a post on her blog about Tia Kelly and her latest novel, Taste for Love, and it sounded like it was right up my alley–and it most definitely was.

So without further ado, let’s get to know Tia Kelly!

10364484_215119008697142_832864325_nWhen did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always loved reading and enjoyed the creative side of story telling. I guess it’s in my bloodline and I’ve always known the passion existed.

How would you describe your writing for people who’ve never read your work before? And which book would you recommend they start with?
I am a contemporary fiction writer. My novels have elements of realism and romance, but I love to explore characters lives…. one moment at a time. I would recommend The Love Sessions to become familiar with my work.

How would you describe your writing process?
That’s a hard one. The writing process for me changes with each novel. It all depends on what my characters lead me to do and I will follow wherever they want me to go. Chances are I will play with a few ideas in my head just to get the characters talking. Then I will either just start writing or jot down a very loose outline. I hate to even call it an outline. From there, anything goes.

When did you decide you wanted to self-publish your writing?
A wonderful author suggested it a few times and I was always afraid to give it a try. One day, I uploaded Love’s Rebound just to get reader’s feedback using Amazon as a pseudo-online writing class and haven’t looked back since.

What would you say are the most important lessons you’ve learned since you began publishing your writing?
Patience. I sometimes struggle with patience in my every day life, but it’s something I am getting better with thanks to writing. I had to learn that I need to give a story time to grow before it hits the pages… patience in the process of seeing it evolve while I write it… extreme patience when I get excited to write or release the next one. Learning how to give my story time to breathe… Patience would be one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned so far.

One of the aspects of your writing that I really admire is how your characters come across as real, flawed and not necessarily perfect. How do you go about creating characters? Do they come to you fully formed, or is it a long process in creating each nuance?

Thank you. I just want to write real life, especially with love. I am an unapologetic people watcher. I observe and listen to everything. I watch mannerisms, I listen to tone, I try to get all of my senses involved so when I write those elements are translated to the characters I see playing the scenes out. Usually these characters whisper softly, hinting about what they have the potential to become. Then out of the blue they show up ready to go, literally taking me by the hand and jumping into the story with me.

A lot of writers complain about finding a good balance between “real life” and writing time. How do you manage the delicate balance?

I haven’t figured that out yet, but when I do I’ll be sure to let you know. I write all the time, especially in my head. Writing rarely takes time off and pushes it’s way into my real life.

What’s next for you now that Taste for Love is live? Have you already started working on your next book? If so, could you tell us about it?
I am working on a few things right now. The one I can talk about is the next novel in the Wilkersons in Love series. Jeremy Wilkerson is content with his life and has no desire to fall in love again in Ready for Love. This novel features Alejandra, Javier Fernandez’s sister from my novella, Yours.

Tia’s Taste for Love Playlist

Philadelphia plays a big role in your latest release, Taste for Love (which pleases me as a transplanted Philly girl). Tell us why Philadelphia ended up being the setting for Taste for Love, and what is it that is so special about Philly that non-natives just don’t understand?
Philadelphia is just a great city. Perfect location for so many other things outside of the city, too. Taste for Love ended up in Philadelphia because that’s where the entire series takes place. It’s where a few of the characters play professional sports, which is perfect since Philadelphia is such a big sports town. My next novel, Ready for Love, is about Jeremy Wilkerson and he works with renewable energy. Philadelphia plays a big part in the country’s renewable energy market, too. It’s just a great city and one of my favorite places. It just felt right to use it as the setting for a few of my novels.

What advice would you give to young writers who are just starting out?
Just keep writing and never stop. And read!

Many thanks to Tia for taking the time to answer my questions! Interested in finding out more about her writing? Check out her Amazon Author Page for a list of all her available titles. 

Guest Post: Getting to Know Mara White

HOD_quote_01A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon fellow indie writer Mara White on Goodreads. It all happened by chance–another member posted a short note about a book she was reading, and the synopsis sounded pretty intriguing. Who knew it would lead me to reading a book that beautifully captures the dilemma of craving someone you know should not want? I’m halfway through Heights of Desire, and it’s a definite must-read if you like your books hot!

Could you tell us what inspired the story of Heights of Desire and the Heightsbound series?  

My main inspiration has come from living in Washington Heights and closely watching the wave of radical gentrification that the neighborhood has been experiencing within the last five years or so.  The story and plot line developed as I started writing, but the inspiration for Kate and Jaylee’s relationship definitely came from witnessing the changes in the neighborhood.

Mara White Author

Mara White, author of Heights of Desire

Two years!!  My kids are toddlers, so there was a lot of interference from daily life.  About three-quarters of the way through the novel I started to feel disillusioned with the genre and actually gave up.  Then I read a new novel and it inspired me, so I decided to reach out to the author.  She took me under her wing, beta read for me, walked me though the self-publishing process and helped turn my disheartened attitude into determination.  Without her, HOD never would have come to fruition and she’d kill me if I revealed her identity so I’ll just say that she is a phenomenal writer and quite possibly the kindest and most generous person I know.

When you were writing, did you envision any actors or actresses to play the leads? Or did you find inspiration elsewhere? 

Not really.  Dare I be inflammatory and controversial here and say that Hollywood does not fairly represent the US population.  Knock, Knock, Hollywood – let the world in!  How hard is it to cast HOD?  Hard enough that I gave up on doing a blog post on casting despite help from friends.  I would absolutely love it if readers would chime in and throw ideas for casting my way.  But to answer the question – whenever I felt that the age difference between Kate and Jaylee was too extreme or bordering on inappropriate, I would look at pictures of JLo and Casper Smart together and channel their chemistry.  I also have become – of the corner boys as well as the young men that work out on the neighborhood playgrounds in the Heights (as you can imagine) so I picked up a lot of inspiration from listening and watching.

Heights of Desire CoverHow would you describe your typical writing day?  

Oh Lord!  Write if I possibly can.  Write after the kids are asleep if I’m not too exhausted.  My most productive writing time happens on the NYC subway on my commute to work (if I get a seat) with a pen and a notebook and bumpy train handwriting.

Do you have a special place where you like to write? Could you describe it for us?  

The train!  Somewhat dirty, oftentimes packed beyond belief, always entertaining (with performers or just regular, crazy old, New Yorkers), always infuriating (late or stuck underground or running on an alternate track) and forever epic – the best mode of NYC transportation hands down.

Did you have a special playlist or soundtrack which you listened to while writing Heights of Desire? Could you share it with us? 

I mostly just listened to the soundtrack of my neighborhood seeing that wherever you go in the Heights there is always music playing!  For the playlist for HOD, I collaborated with a dear friend and fellow WaHi resident, Leslie de Jesus.  She runs a music reviewing blog called http://sinistergirlz.com  The fist song Leslie gave me was ‘Llévame Contigo’ by Romeo Santos and I listened to it repeatedly while completing the end of HOD so that’s how it became Kate and Jaylee’s song.

 When will the next book in the series be released?  

As soon as I can finish!  Late 2014

Sale Graphic-2What has been the biggest challenge for you as an indie writer? What lessons do you feel you’ve learned going through the process?  

Definitely trying to get the word out about he book to the general public.  Accept any and all help offered because you can’t possibly do it all on your own.

Have you already got plans for other standalone novels or series? Could you share any info about those with us?  

I do have new ideas as well as some older work that I’d like to revisit at some point but for the immediate moment I’m just putting my energy into finishing the Heightsbound sequel.

What advice would you like to give to aspiring authors?  

Write because you love to write.  Don’t let the criticism get you down.  Break the rules.  Run from convention.  Push boundaries.  Challenge your readers.  Scare yourself.

Many thanks to Mara for making a book blitz pitstop with us! If you like sexy women’s fiction, then head over to your favourite online bookstore and get a copy of Heights of Desire. It’s on sale this week for e-readers for only 99 cents–but I can tell you this book is definitely worth the normal price. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Heights of Desire Synopsis

A woman who has everything meets a man who can offer her nothing but trouble.  They bring each other to a height of desire neither thought possible, but is it enough to overcome the differences that tear them apart?
Kate Champion, a forty-two-year-old, married mother of two, leads an enviable upper class life of luxury.  Her comfortable path takes an unexpected detour after a chance encounter at a neighborhood playground.

Jaylee Inoa is a twenty-two-year-old, second generation New York Dominican with close ties to the Heights and the gangs that run them.

Her life of privilege is no match for the code of the streets he navigates with ease.  When a crime of the heart leads to a crime in the flesh, how far will she go to redeem him?  Can she risk all in her life that is golden for the love of her golden-eyed man?

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Heights of Desire is on sale for $.99 during the blog tour!

Purchase Links:  Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Kobo | Google Play | Smashwords

 

About the Author

I’m a reader, a writer, and a lover of all things romantic.  I’m also a coffee, hot sauce, ink, telenovela, and Bikram Yoga enthusiast.  I live in New York City with my husband and two children, and I spend a lot of time on the playground.

Connect with the Author:  Facebook | Twitter | Blog  | Instagram | Goodreads 

Enter to win an autographed copy of Heights of Desire in paperback:

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NaNoWriMo is coming…

Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 2.27.25 PMIn a few days it will be that time again. That time when my friends will wonder if I’ve fallen off the face of the earth and my husband will be grumpy because I am not spending enough time with him. That time we call…NaNoWriMo.

For those of you unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month and–despite being called “national” it’s actually a global phenomenon. The goal? Write a 50,000+ word novel between 1 and 30 November. The prize? There is none–this is all about staying motivated and encouraging others to reach their goal while you reach yours. So if you think you have a book inside you, why not give NaNoWriMo a try? Just think how pleased you’ll be when you write “The End”. And this gives you a good excuse to be anti-social for a while. 😉

Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 11.08.21 PMThis is going to be the ninth time I embark on NaNoWriMo, and I hope I finish on time. I’ve got a busy November ahead, so I will have to pace myself and make sure I finish my 1650 words/day. My novel this year will be entitled Near Enough to Hold. I have two very different story ideas swirling around in my mind, but I think I have a pretty good idea which of them I will write. And as always, I will post rough and very unedited chapters here, so you’ll be able to follow my progress.

I also made a mock-up of a cover to help me stay motivated. No, this isn’t the final cover. I don’t own the rights to this image. I am just using it as inspiration for when I write. Whenever you get stuck, you need something to “unstick” you, and I think this will do the trick.

If you think you’re ready to give NaNoWriMo a try, head over to the official website. There is still time to sign up and it doesn’t cost you a single penny! Even if you don’t finish, the fact that you tried is impressive enough! 🙂

Happy writing (and reading)!

 

Choose Me is doing well, waiting for edits of The Time Is Now and Snowbound

ImageThis has been an interesting experience for me–so far Choose Me is selling well. It was at #36 for Kindle ebooks/African American/Women’s fiction at the weekend and stayed there until yesterday. Now I am at #52.  There’s also a steady flow of people borrowing it via Amazon Prime, which great, and people rediscovering Linger: a short story. I’ve been working on a few more short stories, so I think there could be another story coming soon while we wait for the The Time Is Now

On the 16th I should receive edits for The Time Is Now, which I want to release as soon  as I’ve made any necessary changes. 

Other books coming soon: Playing House, A Little Night Music and Another Cup of Love.

I’ll keep you posted on upcoming publication dates and cover reveals! 😀

Happy reading (and writing)!  And remember: if you read and enjoyed Choose Me: a novella, please consider writing a review on amazon.com or Goodreads. 🙂

 

Choose Me is live…

Choose Me Version 3So Choose Me is finally live. It’s not the collection of short stories I’d originally planned. A few months ago, I decided I’d rather release a novella instead of more short stories. I figured it was time for a longer piece of writing and–let’s face it–I am a little behind schedule. I can only blame it on having a heavy workload at the office and the fabulous weather here in Stockholm. It’s not often we have a summer like the current one–hardly any rain–amazingly blue skies…yes, this is the weather that makes you fall in love with Sweden. 🙂

The idea for Choose Me first came to me back in 2007. I think that was the year I reluctantly decided to try Nanowrimo–thanks Rebecca F. for encouraging me to do it! In fact, Choose Me (which was called Horizons back then) is part of the Nanowrimo novel I *almost* finished on time. I was one day late meeting the deadline due to illness and teaching an insane intensive Business English course. Instead of finishing on 30 November, I finished 1 December.

Jessica and Chris’s story starts in Choose Me. The second part of their story will come soon. 🙂 Possibly in October. And the stories I’d originally planned? Well, they’ll be released around November or December.

At the moment, Choose Me is a Kindle-only novella. I hope to be able to release it for Kobo and Nook very soon. There won’t be a print version of Choose Me but if you’d like it as a PDF, you can always contact me here and we’ll see if we can work something out. 🙂

Mid-afternoon ramblings and wishing Abigail and Karen had new books out…

Found at zazzle.com, not sure who made it but it's definitely true for me. :)

Found at zazzle.com, not sure who made it but it’s definitely true for me. 🙂

The last few weeks have been hectic, to say the least. It’s left me feeling a little worn out, a little less writerly (which is not good) and in need of being out in the sun (which is good, but also not good). So while I struggle to finish revising and formatting and all the other various things on my to-do list, I’ve been thinking about two of my favorite writers–Abigail Bosanko and Karen Siplin–and wishing they’d come out with new books.

Now, I know they both have their own lives to think about and they are just as super-busy as I’ve been, but I still wish they would send me an email and say, “Guess what, Kim! Our new books are coming soon–in fact, in just a matter of weeks.” Oh, that would make me so happy. And these days it’s easy to make me happy–especially if it also involves a perfectly chilled glass of dry rosé wine and sitting outdoors.

So, Abigail and Karen, please let me (and your other fans) know–is there something new in the works? Will we be able to read it soon? 😀

Simona, I borrowed this from your blog. :) Photo: Simona Ahrnstedt

Simona, I borrowed this from your blog. 🙂 Photo: Simona Ahrnstedt

On the plus side (for me since I can read Swedish), Simona Ahrnstedt–the Swedish romance author I interviewed a while back–has a new book out called De Skandalösa. Going to pick it up this weekend! And everywhere I look in Stockholm I find adverts for her new book–and they’ve crowned her Sweden’s Queen of Romance. Nice! 🙂

But now…Abigail, Karen and Simona…the three of you really ought to come to Matera at the end of September for the Women’s Fiction Festival so we could all finally meet and talk about writing and what you’re working on and I can bore you with talking about my WIP. 🙂 And we can sip white wine in Piazza del Sedile and figure out life, the universe and all that jazz…and somewhere along the line we’ll write. 🙂

OK, now I have to get back to work. 🙂

Happy reading (and writing)!

Happy Mother’s Day, Barbs!

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My mom, Barbara Golden

I don’t usually write about my mom here but I thought it was a good idea since it is Mother’s Day. My mom and I don’t see each other so often since I live in Sweden and she is still in Philadelphia. But once or twice a year, when I am in Philly, I drive her crazy with telling her what to do (like take more walks since her doctor said she should) and she drives me crazy by hovering when I try to cook dinner for her. We bicker with one another but we know we love each other.

When I first told my mom I wanted to be a writer, she thought I meant I wanted to be a journalist. Heck, I thought I wanted to be a journalist too. I thought I could be a clever news reporter by day and a novelist by night. When I was in high school, I won the chance to take part in a semester-long journalism workshop at the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News. While it was interesting, I realized I didn’t want to be a reporter. I wanted to be novelist. My mom (and my dad) wanted me to have a job with a steady income–I think she really wanted me to be an accountant or a lawyer. But I didn’t have a head for numbers and I thought courtroom antics were boring. Plus, I had this aversion to having to represent anyone I thought was guilty. And when I was in college, everyone I knew in law school always looked miserable. I didn’t want to be miserable. I wanted to be happy writing short stories and novels.

So when I told my mother I was going to graduate school to study creative writing, she was a little concerned. How would I support myself once I graduated? Would I be able to find a job that would pay enough to cover my student loans? While she tried to get me to see reason, she didn’t try to force me into something that wouldn’t make me happy. I think she realized that sending me to a high school that specialized in engineering and science was a big mistake since I didn’t understand anything while I was there. I am still amazed I graduated with as good of grades as I received. I felt lost the entire time.

My mom grew up in Smithfield, Virginia and moved to Philadelphia when she was a teenager. She didn’t get a chance to go to college until she was older and had already raised three kids. My granddad was a bit old school and didn’t believe in paying for his oldest daughter to go to college. He thought she would just drop out and get married. But going to college was always important to my mom, and she encouraged all of us to go–she didn’t want us to be stuck like a lot of other kids in similar situations. She wanted us to see the world and to experience new things. I watched her studying for her courses and it increased my interest in going to college. So–even if I didn’t always tell her this–she was a role model for me. I saw how she worked during the day and went to school in the evening, and I knew I could study too. I knew I could do whatever it took to get an education.

I never used to let my mom read the stories I wrote. I thought she would be shocked or angry about anything I wrote, especially since whatever was going on in my life usually ended up in my fiction. And my mom is more conservative than I am. But when she read my graduate thesis, she didn’t raise an eyebrow at the stories–not even the ones that were a little graphic. She just told me how proud she was of me. And that made me feel like I was doing the right thing.

So I hope my mom is having an awesome Mother’s Day in Philadelphia. I’m pretty sure my brother and sister have done something nice for her. I will treat Barbs to something nice when I am next in Philadelphia. I keep telling her that Tord and I are going to take her away from everything for a few days. Maybe we’ll actually succeed this time. 🙂

Love you, Mom! 🙂