Sunday, 30 May 2010

Interview with Rebecca Sutton

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend. The US and UK are both graced with long weekends this time, and although Monday's not a holiday in Germany, I have off, so I get a long weekend too. :)

To add to your holiday enjoyment, I've got a great interview with an outstanding aspiring writer. Let's welcome Rebecca Sutton.

Hi, Rebecca. It's great to have you here. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I have a double identity of sorts. My family and close friends have always called me Becky so it’s sort of funny for them to hear me referred to as Rebecca now. Feel free to call me Becky or Rebecca Sutton. I’ll respond to anything as long as it’s not mean!

After moving around the country the last 10 years for various reasons (art school, career) I’m back in my hometown in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Talk about full circle. I couldn’t wait to leave the second I graduated from high-school and leave behind small town life in the country to start college in Pittsburgh, then Los Angeles. Now there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. My family, my trusty green laptop, an internet connection, and a great sushi restaurant are all I need.

With the exception of my very part time job I’m fortunate to be able to stay home with my 2-year-old son. I have Nate’s naptimes, his school days, and nights (I’m a total night owl) to focus on my writing. When I’m not writing I’m reading. I might be 31, but I read more teen books now than I did when I was a teen.

Like my writing, my genre of choice is fantasy, but lately I’ve fallen in love with authors like John Green and Sarah Dessen. The next two projects I have planned are stepping out of my comfort zone. One’s a YA contemporary romance and the other is a MG fantasy with a boy’s POV. I’m thrilled to finally have a story that I can allow my 10-year-old niece and 8-year-old nephew to beta read.

Sounds great! (And by the way, I love sushi too! Yum!)So, how long have you been writing?

I’d love to be able to say I’m one of those people who started writing as a teenager, but I’m not. Not even close. I started writing about a year and a half ago and haven’t stopped since.

What is the name and genre of your current manuscript?

FORTUNE’S TELLER is a YA Urban Fantasy.

Here’s the part where you pitch it. What’s your story about?

When seventeen-year-old Tori Morganfeld’s grandmother dies, Tori won’t just inherit her Key West cottage and some plastic flamingos. She’ll also inherit her ability to see the future.

Ah, I'm intrigued. *makes gimme hands* How did the idea of the story come to you?

Like all my ideas it pretty much just popped into my head one day while I was driving or taking a shower.

Yep, the infamous shower muse gets 'em every time. Is your manuscript complete or still a work in progress?

Work in progress but I’m a few days away from finishing the first draft.

Do you have a word count goal, and how far along are you at this point?

My goal is 65k and right now I’m at 67k. Eek! Lots of cutting and adding to come next month.

What will be your next step?

Definitely querying for an agent!

Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

I work with critique partners and beta readers throughout the writing process. I’d be lost without them!

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

Getting the long stretches of time to write. Since I have a 2-year-old it’s very challenging to find blocks of time that aren’t late at night or the days I’m super tired.

I hear you. If only we could stop time so we could write ... See, another story idea! Any tips you’ve learned about writing you’d like to share?

Writing is not a solitary art. Sure, you have to sit there alone and write or type, but the support of other writers is by far one of the biggest things that has kept me going and growing. Connect with fellow writers that are at every stage of their journey on places like Twitter, writing forums, blogs. I’d be lost without them!

Me too! So, do you have an idea of your book’s cover art?

I did with my first book, but not this time. I think it’s because I’ve learned so much about the publishing industry since then and how authors don’t get much of a say in their covers so I haven’t put any thought into it this time around. But with my writing personality I’d hope the covers would be very graphic and eye catching, maybe a little dark and creepy. But now you’ve got me thinking…

Who are your inspirations?

There are many authors that have inspired me, but I’m very fortunate to have gotten to know Becca Fitzpatrick. I can’t begin to tell you how inspirational it is to work with and ask questions to someone who is living the dream I’m chasing. She’s amazing!

Stephenie Meyer’s background has been a huge inspiration for me as well. When I first began writing I read an interview with her and was struck with how she was a stay at home mom of 3 young boys and became this huge sensation with her first novel. When I read that I was the same age as she was when she wrote TWILIGHT so it really hit home for me.

And how could I not mention JK Rowling! Just thinking about what she accomplished and gave to this world makes me tear up.

There are so many individual books that inspire me but a few recent favorites are; BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia, THE DEMON’S COVENANT by Sarah Rees Brennan, CATCHING FIRE by Suzanne Collins (dying for MOCKINGJAY), BLEEDING VIOLET by Dia Reeves. I could go on and on. SO many incredible books out there.

Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. Can you name three non-writerly things about yourself that people may not know?

-My part time job is doing window displays
-I can cook all sorts of fancy gourmet meals but mess up the simple stuff like burning bacon
-I’m deathly and irrationally afraid of birds. Ducks, finches, an ostrich…keep them away!

Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Whom would you like to give a shout out to?

My son. He’s the reason I moved back to small town life and closer to family, and the reason I stopped working full time and was able to discover writing, just being around him I can’t help but want to conquer the world. My family. My beta reading ninja of a sister, Jenn. My critique partners, Jamie, Miranda and Sarah. And all the other incredible people online out there who send supportive tweets, or offer to beta read, or share insight into their own journeys. You all

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: pickle, revolution, and rocket.

She had ten seconds to fill the rocket with pickle juice or the revolution wouldn’t have a chance in hell of succeeding.

Heehee, love it! And finally, where can people find you online?

Twitter: @rebeccaYAwriter

Rebecca, thank you so much for letting us get to know you. I sense big things in your future and can't wait to get my hands on your books.

A big thank you to you, Dorothy, for inviting me to do this interview and giving me the opportunity to share a little about my writing. Great questions!

Friday, 28 May 2010

Interview with Roy L Pickering Jr

I promised you some new fun interviews, and I won't disappoint. We'll start with today's chat with published author Roy Pickering.

Welcome, Roy! Tell us a bit about yourself.

Well, I was born on the idyllic island of St. Thomas and now reside in a quaint New Jersey town where the residents are taxed far too heavily. In between I grew up in the Bronx, NY which is the setting of my debut novel - Patches of Grey. I began working on it while a student at NYU. This doesn’t mean it’s autobiographical, although I have received *side-eyes* regarding a few passages from my siblings (I’m the eldest of 5) who felt they recognized some snatches from our reality. I truthfully plead coincidence. Patches is only autobiographical in the sense that some of the issues it tackles are ones of personal interest to me, ones I’m rather opinionated about. Yet my goal and hopefully achievement was not to write a preachy book that lays out my world view and dictates to readers how they should feel, but rather, to tell an engaging story with issues of social relevance significant to the narrative. When not writing or spending time with my family, helping my daughter grow up into the most amazing person in the world, I’m a big sports fan. The Knicks are my basketball love and the Jets are my football love, so much so that this Caribbean born scribe is willing to endure cold winter days in the Meadowlands watching the latter play. Tennis is my other sports obsession, although I’d rather be out on the court than watching. My game has a long way to go, but that’s okay because I’m a patient and determined man. These are pretty necessary traits for a writer to have, along with enjoying the sight of my own words, which explains why I’ve become quite enamored with blogging and Twitter.

Let's talk about your books. What are the names and genres?

I suppose the label of literary fiction applies to my writing, though I basically consider myself to be a writer of stories that don’t neatly fall into any particular genre. Since the majority of major characters in Patches of Grey are teens, technically it covers territory one might consider Young Adult. But the language is a bit rougher than what you’d find in most YA novels, and the tone more intense. I suppose one could say it’s an urban novel since that aptly describes the setting, but my goals are a bit loftier than glorifying so called street life. Essentially Patches is a story of family, of how it shapes us, how we try to break free of the nest with varying degrees of success, and no matter how far away we may venture a part of us will always remain behind. It’s also a story of race, how it defines us, how we use it to figure out ourselves and others, and how it doesn’t really define anything at all because the shared color of our blood trumps the degree of melanin in our skins. If African American/Black is considered to be a writing genre then I suppose one would toss Patches in there as well, being that I’m black and so are most of characters in it. But would it be black fiction if I wrote it but the majority of characters were white (which is the case in a fair amount of my shorter fiction, not to mention cases where I make no mention of characters’ race at all)? How about if the story remained the same but I happened to be white? Are you stumped? Exactly, who the heck knows, which is why I’m not too concerned with literary labels. Individual readers can decide for themselves what they wish to consider my writing, just as I leave it up to them to decide its merits. In addition to my novel and short stories I’ve also had a novella published as an ebook by SynergEbooks. Feeding the Squirrels is even more genre-less than Patches of Grey. It’s more or less about sex yet isn’t nearly graphic enough to be considered erotica, nor romantic enough to be called Romance. Anti-romance is more like it, or so it may seem for much of the story. It has absolutely nothing to do with race, but I’m still black so is it black fiction? LOL. Perhaps my goal is never to be pinned down, whether on page on in life.

Sounds like a good goal to me. I've seen a few reviews for Patches of Grey on goodreads. What’s the story about?

Patches of Grey is the story of an impoverished African American family, contemporary in setting but pre “rise of Obama”, over the course of a tumultuous year. The narrative focus switches among the family members, but its center belongs to Tony who is a high school senior with aspirations of college and progressing further towards the so called American Dream than his parents did. Typically it’s the case that parents want their children to do better than they did. But it’s a bit more complicated than that in my novel because “moving up” is seen by some as a form of “selling out”, and Tony’s father happens to be one of those people. Tony’s choice of girlfriend doesn’t help the situation, being that she is white and his father’s emotional wounds from growing up in the segregated south are still festering. What the young man feels are simply choices about how to live his life and chase his dreams, the father sees as judgment of him. So they both condemn each other without truly understanding where the other is coming from. There are other plot points I could synopsize, but the strained relationship between Tony and his father is the heart of the story.

Wow, I can feel the drama already. How did the idea of the story come to you?

I’m not really sure how any of my stories come to me. They just do. I had some things to say about the ways in which people relate to each other and Patches of Grey served as vehicle to communicate them. Yet while one could categorize my novel as idea driven, it is equally character driven. I did not strive to write about the black condition or what an interracial relationship looks like or to tell the definitive coming of age story. There are countless variations on those situations, and my novel is but one of them, simultaneously specific and relatable to all who have interest in the human condition. My goal was to breathe as much authenticity into my characters’ lives as possible, because if I wish for readers to invest their time, the least I could do was provide characters to care about and root for. If different readers view Tony and Lionel and Caren and Janet and Tanya and C.J. in different lights according to their own personal backgrounds and perspectives then I’d say my mission was accomplished, because the same can be said of how we see flesh and blood people.

Tell us about getting Patches of Grey published.

I spent a good while pursuing the traditional path to publication (sign with a high powered NY agent who lands me a lucrative deal with one of the publishing giants) but it didn’t work out that way for me. I wasn’t particularly interested in self-publishing, or vanity publishing as it was mostly known as a few years back, so my manuscript was put on back burner and I got to work on a second novel which is now near completion (first draft anyway). Print on demand technology came about and self publishing became more attractive to those with limited budgets and storage space, yet I still resisted its pull. My plan was to do the same thing with novel #2 as I’d done with the first one, then once I was an established author I would get Patches of Grey published. First one written is not necessarily first one published after all, as the example of John Grisham for one shows. But then an opportunity came along (I won’t bore you with the details) to get my novel into print that I could not refuse and just like that I went from languishing in obscurity to… Okay so technically I’m still languishing in obscurity, but I also have a book out that can be purchased at Amazon as well as from a couple online booksellers. Now comes the next hard part, creating enough awareness of its existence that word of mouth is given an opportunity to propel its success.

Well I hope I've helped a little with this interview. :) Have you done book tours?

I have not. I’ve done almost none of the things that 21st century writers, however they end up being published, are supposed to do to put the word out about their books. Well, perhaps I’m being too harsh on myself. I do have a web site and a blog and I’ve set up promotional pages on a variety of book related web sites, though the wonderful is the only one I really actively participate at. I enjoy saying my piece about books I’ve read and GoodReads is the perfect place to share opinions with other avid readers. But when it comes to doing readings/signings and creating book trailers and having a table at book fairs and the various other methods authors use nowadays to say “hey, look at me”, I’ve been much more of a bystander than active participant. Will this change going forward? Your guess is as good as mine. I do have my first author event lined up in July. I’ll be one of a group of writers whose books are carried by the same online independent bookseller. Sharing the spotlight seems like a good way to dip my toes in the water. If it goes well perhaps I’ll take a deeper plunge and sign up for a book fair or two. I can reach a far wider audience via the internet than through personal appearances, and my time is rather limited, so the former has been the focus of my meager ad campaign.

Next up I intend to make a video recording of me reading a passage from Patches of Grey, have it hosted at YouTube. I love hearing authors read their work aloud so hopefully people will enjoy hearing my prose. I’m astounded by how many book bloggers such as yourself are out there, thrilled by the vast array of enthusiasm that can be found on the world wide web for the written word and those who put stories down on paper. I’ve never considered reading to be nerdy no matter what the cool kids in school may have said, but if it is then the nerds have clearly gotten their revenge, or at least their stage. I think this interview is going pretty well so far. Rather than touring perhaps I’ll throw all my eggs in one basket and wait for it to launch me to stardom. Is there any chance that Oprah is one of your readers?

Hehe, not that I know of, but she's certainly invited to join the fun! When writing, do you have a critique partner or beta readers?

I used to post short stories at writing workshop web sites such as WritersCafe and Zoetrope for feedback, but in truth I was really more interested in finding readers than obtaining critiques, and I didn’t end up making very many changes based on suggestions received. For better or for worse I basically (perhaps arrogantly) serve as my own beta reader. Well, not entirely me, myself and I. Once done with my novel in progress I’ll print a manuscript of the first draft for my wife to read and will certainly take seriously any feedback that she gives, just as I did with Patches of Grey and various shorter works of fiction. She’s an avid reader with good taste in literature and a great eye for detail (being a fantastic artist who does with paintbrushes what I try to do with pen and computer keyboard) so if it meets her approval I’ll feel confident that it’s ready for the world. Is she biased? Perhaps. But I still trust her to give honest opinions, and I trust my ability to effectively craft a tale.

What’s the hardest part of writing that you've struggled through?

I have yet to establish a set pattern to my writing schedule and would love to change that. Ideally I should be writing everyday, particularly when I’m working on a novel. But I tend to focus on longer projects sporadically, in explosive bursts, sometimes letting a substantial period of time pass when the well seems dry. It’s not that I don’t write regularly, because I do, but I’m usually jumping from novel to short story to blog editorial to sports article to whatever inspiration strikes next. I hope to become more disciplined and regimented, but it has been a great challenge to make this transformation happen. When I’m in “the zone” I go non-stop, my senses shut down the need for nutrition or comfort, my mind races with ideas and the hand holding my pen does its best to keep up with them. But to be a successful writer one needs to write not only when he is compelled to do so, but when he compels himself. The writing itself has never been a struggle for me. I suppose it’s what I was born to do. The re-writing, well that’s another story. If only I could get it down perfect the first time, but can anyone?

Don't look at me, lol. Any tips you’ve learned about writing you’d like to share?

Read a lot and write a lot, it’s truly that simple. I recommend diversity, even if you stick within a certain genre in your writing, even if you’re writing a series and following the same character from adventure to adventure with each subsequent book. Still you should read plenty of great writing in a wide variety of styles, on as many subjects as there are under the sun and over the moon, set in the historic past the imagined future and the rapidly developing present. A well rounded reader makes for a well rounded writer.

Who are your inspirations?

Those who have written great books before me. Certain authors hold lofty positions at the top of my favorites list such as John Irving, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Toni Morrison, John Updike, Phillip Roth, Pat Conroy, Kurt Vonnegut, Tim Robbins, Richard Russo, Cormac McCarthy, Ernest Hemingway, Charles Dickens. These are some of the writers whose works I seek out time and time again, but there are a great many more who have written masterpieces that make me exceedingly grateful to be literate. Obviously I don’t try to write like my muses since they are so varied and don’t write at all like one another. They each have their own unique powerful voices that I soak in one stunning page at a time. It’s challenging enough to sound like myself, no need attempting to imitate anyone else.

Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

I’m afraid I’m not particularly deep, Dorothy. Lol. Pen and paper is all I require. I used to have an office in the house I’ve lived in for the past 6 years, but then my daughter joined the family and my office became her playroom. Technically I share my wife’s attic studio as my current office, at least that’s where my writing desk sits, but I hardly ever go up there and she has grabbed just about every square inch as her own. No matter. I don’t need to be in a particular chair or at a particular desk to write. I don’t require a specific pen or brand of writing pad. I’m nocturnal by nature but have done plenty of writing in the morning and afternoon, it doesn’t really matter much to me where the sun happens to be. No good luck charm sits beside me when I scribble my thoughts. I’m somewhat superstitious when it comes to sports, particularly watching football on TV, but not at all when it comes to writing. Having four siblings I learned years ago that I don’t even require quiet. Some of my best writing has been done in deafening conditions. Blocking out distraction is no problem once I’ve entered a world of my own making. I’ve written at cafes and on barstools and while walking down the street, though bumping into a fellow pedestrian or tree will eventually force me to find a place to sit. Something to write with, something to write on, and something to say are all I require.

New Bonus segment! Use the following words in a sentence: papercut, jello, and whimsical.

Just when I thought I had emerged from this interview relatively unscathed. Okay, how about this:

Franklin felt he was being whimsical in replacing his girlfriend’s cold cream with jello after their heated argument, but she was not amused, and neither was he when suffering a paper-cut on the break-up letter left pasted to his beloved autographed photo of Derek Jeter.

Excellent! :) Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Who would you like to give a shout out to?

Not only did I marry someone who turned out to be a wonderful wife, but as I mentioned earlier she is an amazing artist as well. Erin created the cover for Feeding the Squirrels (it’s the background of my Twitter page) and also transformed one of her incredible paintings into the cover design for Patches of Grey. If/when I secure a 9-figure deal for the rights to my latest novel, Matters of Convenience, hopefully my future publisher will see the wisdom in bringing her along for the ride as cover designer. Until that happens she is my valued partner at M.U.D. House Books. I’ve also written a children’s story that my wife hopefully will illustrate when time allows, and I believe more children’s books are in store for me to pen, so a shout-out goes to our daughter Ava for her inspiration. I’d also like to thank Mahogany Books and {Indie}pendent Books for carrying Patches of Grey, the bloggers and web site owners who have interviewed me or spotlighted my novel at their cyber homes over the past year, and the book reviewers who to date have been quite kind and generous with their praise.

Where can people find you online?

My web site – particularly recommended for short story fans. My scattered, perhaps esoteric blog where you’ll find a little of everything (short stories, book reviews, opinion pieces related to sports, related to politics, related to pop culture, etc.). Those looking for book recommendations may find my GoodReads page of interest - and I’m always up for a good follow and be followed by interesting people on Twitter - After finding me if you care to locate my books please stop by or or where Patches of Grey is sold in print format. My novella Feeding the Squirrels is sold exclusively in ebook format at and since reading on electronic device is apparently the wave of the future, I’ve also made Patches of Grey available on Kindle - I believe that just about covers it.

Thank you so much for talking with us, Roy. I hope you much success with your current and future books.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

When it Rains it Pours

Although it is pouring rain outside, the header title also reflects my life at the moment. Not only am I super busy with home life, but I'm busy with writerly things as well. For one, I made it to the second round in JA Souder's Secret Agent contest. An announcement will be made soon about the top ten, so I'm going blue holding my breath over that one. Also, I was one among the Honorable Mentions in the Secret Agent contest over at Authoress's wonderful blog, and now I'm trying to scrutinize every word in my synopsis *groan* and my first 30 pages before I submit them to the agent. Hence my lack of interview posts.

But I promise to have very fun interviews posted soon. I PROMISE!

Until then, please enjoy the following comic, which I found on an old post by @inkyelbows's blog. (Credit to her and Katie Hart.)

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Interview with Denise Grover Swank

I hope everyone's week hasn't been as cloudy and gloomy as mine so far. If anyone's got any extra sunshine hanging around, feel free to send it my way. ;)

Until then, I'm here to brighten your day with another interview. We're talking with a busy and talented woman I'm sure you'll all be pleased to meet.

Welcome, Denise. Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Denise Grover Swank. I write adult thriller/paranormal and I am preparing to write a MG adventure/fantasy. I'm a single mom to six kids (three biological and three internationally adopted,) five of which still live at home. I'm currently work at home which allows me flexibility with my kids and writing.

Sounds like a full house. Let's talk about your writing. What is the name and genre of your manuscript?

CHOSEN is a thriller/paranormal.

Here’s the part where you pitch it. What’s your story about?

Emma Thompson was supposed to be a simple delivery for mercenary Will Davenport, but he’s repeatedly ambushed by gunmen hell bent on capturing her five-year-old son Jake, who not only sees the future, but tells Will he’s the Chosen One, the prophesied protector of his mother and the world.

How did the idea of the story come to you?

From my then three year old son. LOL One night my older son's girl friend told me Ryan counted to four, but only if he touched her fingers. I joking suggested perhaps he telepathically read her mind and that's how he knew the numbers. A light bulb went off in my head and I suddenly started playing the "what if" game. What if a boy could see the future? What if someone wanted him? What if his mother was on the run trying to protect him? And finally for a twist, 'cause I LOVE me a good twist, what if someone wanted HER and not her son?

I love good twists too. Sounds like an exciting read. Is your manuscript complete or still a work in progress?

CHOSEN is complete and ready to query. ARG!!!

Ah, the agent query-go-round. Tell us, do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

All of the above, plus one more: alpha readers.

I used four alpha readers as I wrote; two are writers (an man and a woman) and two a regular "readers" (also a man and a woman). They were crucial to help me stay on track with the story. One, just an avid reader, pointed out what she saw as a deviation from my character's motivation. She was absolutely correct and saved me a ton of future rewrites.

When I finished editing, I used both critique partners and beta readers. With my beta readers, I sent out questionnaires asking their reactions and opinions on particular areas of the book such as: what did they think of a particular scene, was the development of the relationship between Will and Emma believable? There were about 15 questions. God love 'em, they were all so enthusiastic about the book they answered my questions and offered plenty of their own opinion and insights too. I have to say, I was THRILLED to finally have someone read my book and see how much they loved it.

Sounds thorough. What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

The hardest part of writing is probably my criticism of my own work. I write a rough first draft but I have a friend who writes a beautiful first draft. Its hard not to compare. But I made my work shine in editing and at the end of the day, its how it reads when its finished, not when it's first written. (Thank God!)

Any tips you’ve learned about writing you’d like to share?

Read, read, read. Be open to constructive criticism. Accept that some days the words just don't flow like you want them too.

Good advice. Do you have an idea of your book’s cover art?

My reward for finishing my first draft was granting myself permission to make a book trailer. I created a book cover for the end of the trailer. The arm you see on the cover belongs to my 19 year old son. I had to do some major bribing to convince him to let me: 1) draw the tattoo on his arm 2) stand in our front yard while I 3) took his photo. (He is currently in therapy.)

LOL. Well then you've done your job as a mom. ;p Tell us about your inspirations for writing.

Music. I cannot write without music. I listen to lots of different genres, depending on the scene I'm writing. Some days I feel like I live with my headphones in my ears.

Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have
to have nearby when writing?

Internet. I research like crazy. I will spend 30 minutes researching something that is one sentence long. I have said if I am ever suspected of ANY crime, I will be arrested based on my search engine history alone. (gunshot wounds, how to pry open a gun cabinet, bullet proof glass, sniper tactics, you get the picture...)

I can just imagine! Pretty incriminating evidence, hehehe. Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Who would you like to give a shout out to?

My six kids who range from 23 to 2. They have been wonderfully supportive and never even considered that I couldn't write a book. Also, all my friends who not only begged to read my book when I was done but loved it as much a I do.

And finally, where can people find you online?


Thank you so much for letting us get to know you, Denise.

Thank you for the opportunity!

And good luck with your books!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Interview with Liz Czukas

Ready to meet another wonderfully talented aspiring writer? Well, I've got one for you! Let's welcome Liz Czukas. Liz is a 31 year-old, married mother of a 3 year-old. She lives outside Milwaukee, WI and her "real" job is as a Labor & Delivery RN. Amazing!

Good to have you here, Liz. Tell us a bit more about yourself.

I am an aspiring writer of both adult and YA fiction, generally of the romantic comedy bent. I have trouble taking real life seriously, so there is no way I can be in complete control of a fictional world and do much in the angst department. I'm a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl, love anything spicy and consider dancing to be the only viable form of exercise. Bad grammar on public signs sets my teeth on edge and the word 'pants' will always make me grin.

How long have you been writing?

The first time I really remember writing was when I was nine years old. I've been writing pretty much continuously since then. Almost always novels--even when I was way too young to turn out more than 25,000 words or so.

And now you've written a few more books that you'd like to get published. What is the name and genre of your current manuscript?

Right now I'm in the middle of revisions on my manuscript THE SORBET GUY which is an adult romantic comedy.

Nice title. What’s the story about?

THE SORBET GUY is the story of Joss (Jocelyn) and her ridiculous journey through the unstable world of dating, and her unique arrangement with her good friend Matt, who is always there to help her "cleanse the palate" after a break-up.

Sounds great, and I think it could have date-night movie potential. How did the idea of the story come to you?

Honestly? Listening to "Mr. Brightside" by The Killers. It was just a flash of an idea that begged to be played with.

I love music-inspired stories. What is your next step – are you self publishing, querying for an agent, etc.?

Right now I'm polishing the manuscript (I hope!) to get back on the querying journey. I'm looking for an agent. I know I don't have the business savvy to manage my own career. I've always thought expertise should be left to the experts.

Agreed! Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

All of the above. I'm generally a pantzer type writer--that is, I don't plot or outline, I just write until the story is done. Then I let it sit and mature in an oak barrel for a few weeks. Then, I do an editing pass on my own before sending it out to some beta readers and my critique group. The final say is always mine, of course, but I would say I get an average of six pairs of eyes on a manuscript before I think it's done.

Hehe, I need one of those oak barrels. What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

Having enough time! I work part time and take care of my son the rest of the time. My husband is a very loveable workaholic, who is gone long hours. The only time I'm really free is after bedtime. I wish I had more!

Wait! You're describing my life, lol. Any tips you’ve learned about writing you’d like to share?

I'd give all the basic writing advice, because it's all true. Read, and read widely, not just in your genre. Write everyday if you can. Show your work to other people, and take their advice when you should.

Also, I'd recommend getting on Twitter for any writer. There's a huge community out there using #amwriting #writing and a gazillion other trending tags. I've met some wonderful people that way, and gotten so much great information from and about agents--it's priceless. Not to mention free!

Agreed again! Let's talk about your inspirations.

My favorite authors run the gamut from Stephen King to Maureen Johnson with frequent stops in Nelson DeMille and J.K. Rowling, just for starters.
My favorite YA books of all time are The President's Daughter series by Ellen Emerson White.
My role models for romantic comedy/chick-lit would have to be Megan Crane, Caprice Crane, Meg Cabot...and that's just the C's.

Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

Only the Internet. I'm an obsessive researcher. Even when the details are insignificant or don't appear in the story, I need to know the who/what/where/when and why of my character's lives.

For instance, I was just working on a very romantic scene and I had to shop around until I found the right bra for my heroine. Weird, right?

Not weird to me; I think that's awesome. Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Who would you like to give a shout out to?

My husband, who has learned to live with my loud typing as the soundtrack to his evenings.
My extended family, who is doing a marvelous job of pretending my quest for publication is not at all outrageous.
My crit group, The Inkslingers, who have brought me out of my fetal position of shame for wanting this life, made me a better writer every time we talk, and put me into fits of giggles every single Wednesday.

And finally, where can people find you online?

I've got a website
a blog
a facebook fanpage
and a twitter profile

Thank you so much for talking with us, Liz.

Thanks for this opportunity. I really enjoyed myself!

Me too. And please let us know when you've reached the next stage of publication. I'm crossing my fingers for you.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

First Blog Award

What a thrill! My blog is only a few months old, and I've already received my first blog award. Woohoo!

Isn't it pretty? I received this award on Friday from Gina, a very cool person and wonderful blogger who runs Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers. Thank you so much, Gina. If you didn't know it already, you totally rock! Even though I'm not technically a book reviewer, I do learn about manuscripts and upcoming books of the writers I interview, so it's nice to be included with such a prestigious ensemble.

But wait, there are rules:

If you are given this award you must first accept it by leaving a comment on the post you were nominated on. Then copy and paste the post and add it to your own blog. Make a list of the last 5 books you read and pass the award on to 5 other bloggers (no backsies!). Please also identify the blog from which you got the award and don't forget to tell them they have a blog award!

My 5 Most Recent Reads
Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris
Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris
Graceling by Kristen Cashore
Club Dead by Charlaine Harris
Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

As you can see I've been making my way through the Southern Vampire Series - and yes, I'm a True Blood fan. And I'm Team Eric, in case you're wondering.

And now, without further ado, I present the award to the following bodacious bloggers:

Congratulations to each of you! All great and informative blogs which I encourage my followers to check out.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Interview with Eileen Schuh

Happy Friday, everyone!

Sit back and get comfy, because we have another great interview I'm sure you'll enjoy. We're chatting with another possible future best seller, Eileen Schuh.

Welcome, Eileen. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a journalist by training and trade, but currently I’m an aspiring novelist. My dream has always been to publish fiction. Now that my children are grown, and time and money are mine, I’m pursing that dream with a passion.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing for half a century. I was 14 years old when my first story was published in Wee Wisdom Magazine—that’s a bit less than 50 years but I was writing for almost a decade before I achieved that milestone.

Do you rely on critique groups or beta readers for your manuscripts?

I have used the Writers Guild of Alberta Reading Service to help me with my manuscripts. Throughout the years, I’ve discovered that my daughter is my most helpful critic. She’s honest but knows how to be gentle. (I have a fragile ego.)

I haven’t joined any critique groups but I’ve tried beta readers. The experiences started out well. We connected on line. However, all three readers vanished before I received feedback. It’s a bit mysterious...

Sounds like a mystery novel in the making, lol. What's the hardest part of writing for you?

Trying to get published is the absolute worst part of writing. It takes so much time and energy. Repeated rejections can devastate self-esteem. I’d rather be writing. However, if I want people to read what I’ve written, I must persist.

Out of the books you've written so far, which one are you currently pitching?

My pre-teen novel, Aerdrie, placed second in the 2009 Bookland Press Literary Award Contest. I’d love to see this timely novel published.

I’m also marketing my adult novel, NORAEBANG. It’s a crime novel that explores Stockholm Syndrome (the tendency for captives to bond with captors) and abusive relationships. An earlier version of this novel also placed well in the Bookland Press contest (in 2007).

Let's hear your pitches.

Aerdrie pitch: Aerdrie is my literary response to law enforcement’s recent pleas for community help in keeping youngsters from falling into the clutches of gangs.

Noraebang pitch: NORAEBANG is an irresistible, tightly knit, intriguing story set in an exotic locale and spiced with a few torrid love scenes. The characters’ inner lives drive the action in NORAEBANG. Their pasts, their emotions, their loves, and their fears are intricately intertwined with kidnapping, drug dealing, murder, and betrayal.

How did the ideas of the manuscripts come to you?

The NORAEBANG characters came to me while I was vacationing in South Korea. They were a bit of an annoyance—downright intrusive at times. It’s challenging to enjoy a gimbap with friends while an imaginary biker gang one table over is chugging Soju and plotting to import cocaine.

Wow! You've piqued my interest. So what's the best tip you can share with other aspiring writers?

Don’t do anything, listen to anybody, or make any decisions that lessen your desire to write. Be strong and persistent and always accept that you have much yet to learn. Above all else—enjoy.

Great advice. Who are your inspirations?

People inspire me. I’m a ‘people watcher’. Always have been. People do the most interesting, unexpected, and totally random things. Strangers as well

Hehehe. Good point. Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. Can you name three things about yourself people may not know?

    1.  I volunteer for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
    2.  “Eileen” is Irish and means “Goddess of Light”. In Cantonese, it means “lovely lotus.”
    3.  I love yoga. I can do the Tree Pose.

      Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Who would you like to give a shout out to?

      Many and much thanks to hubby for bringing home the bacon while I pursue my dream. Thanks to my daughter, Renita, for her careful and considered critiques, her enthusiasm, and her encouragement. Thanks, as well to my other daughter, Tracy, and my son, Chris, for their ongoing support. My family, my friends, everyone in my community—wonderful fans who are proving to be as persistent as I am. I can’t forget to thank Cheryl K Tardif, my cyberspace pal and my book marketing coach.

      And finally, where can people find you online?

      My website is I have several interesting features on my website. Aside from the usual (my bio, excerpts from my novels, etc.), I have the popular “Did you know...” page. As well, I get lots of traffic to my article “I met a man with empty eyes...”

      I invite everyone to visit my blog for a light-hearted and quick read. I update it often. I’ve written on topics as diverse as my Quest to Quit Smoking, writing tips, and interviews with authors. I’ve also posted some great guest blogs.

      As well, people can find me and the opening chapters to my Adult crime/romance novel FIREWALLS on the Harper Collins Authonomy website. Drop by for a free read. Leave a comment. Vote for me if you like.

      Eileen, thank you so much for letting us chat with you. It's been great getting to know you, and I wish you much success with your books!

      Wednesday, 12 May 2010

      Interview with Melissa Barlow

      If you take a look around the blogosphere, you're sure to find an agent-judged query contest or two. As aspiring writers, we feel both elated and anxious to take part in these.

      Today we're talking with a winner of one such contest. Melissa Barlow took part in Michael Broadway's Secret Agent contest recently and one first place! Congratulations, Melissa.

      For those interested, her entry can be found here.

      I'm so glad to have you here, Melissa.

      Thanks so much, Dorothy, for having me!

      Tell us a bit about yourself.

      By day I'm an administrative assistant, able to leap tall stacks of paper in a single bound, by night I sit at my desk and write, dreaming of that day I'll be published. I got my start writing picture books, very bad picture books with singing animals and horrible forced rhymes. Nowadays, I've dropped the singing, dancing critters and moved on to the wonderful world of YA. I'm the author of Knights of Avalon, as well as the YA Historical Surviving Matewan. My current projects include a sequel to Knights and the YA dystopian Beautiful Medusa.

      When not writing, I do cat rescue for my local SPCA, love to visit art museums when I can find the time, and I might have a bit of an obsession with 7-Eleven.

      You're certainly busy. Let's talk about your book. What is the name and genre of your manuscript?

      It's a YA Urban Fantasy called Knights of Avalon.

      Here’s the part where you pitch it. What’s your story about?

      Fifteen hundred years after the fall of Camelot, the Knights of the Round Table have returned, reborn as New Jersey teens. Most have no memory of who they once were, but unfortunately for them, Mordred and Morgan le Fay are back as well and they remember everything. Murdering the knights before they can become a threat, Mordred kidnaps the reincarnation of Guinevere, a girl called Gwen Martinez, to draw out the last few survivors.

      Mordred might've gone too far though, because Gwen's best friend happens to be sixteen-year-old Justine Kwiatkowski. Justine's not a knight, she doesn't believe in reincarnation or magic, but there's no way in hell she's going to let anyone mess with her friend. She'll do whatever it takes to get Gwen back, even if it means picking a fight with Mordred, even if it means becoming a modern day King Arthur and uniting the rest of the knights. But first, she's going to have to figure out what this sword is doing in this stone.

      I think it's a great concept. How did the idea of the story come to you?

      Strangely enough, the original idea had nothing to do with King Arthur or the Knights of the Round Table. I was playing around with a story about a girl who gets kidnapped by ghosts after the barrier between the living and the dead begins to break down, and her best friend, Justine, who's a skeptic, doing whatever it takes to get her back. I really wanted to write about friendship and loyalty, and to see how far someone would go to help their friend.

      I needed a last name for Justine and sometimes I pick off-the-wall last names like Einstein or in this case, Pendragon. I ended up changing her last name, but it got me thinking about the legend of King Arthur. Before I knew it, I was writing about reincarnated knights and I couldn't stop. I even had dreams from the POV of one of the crazier characters in the book. It got pretty intense.

      I can imagine. So how far along are you in the writing process and what's your next step?

      The manuscript is polished and done, but I know there's always room for improvement. I'm currently querying agents and trying not to stress out by focusing on my other projects while I wait.

      Good luck with that. If you learn how to do it, let me know your secret! Do you have a critique group or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

      I self-edit for the first couple of drafts, then I have a great group of beta readers who give me feedback. I have to say, one of my best beta-readers is my father. I know parents are supposed to love everything you do, but he's tough! Really, really tough and his comments are right on!

      What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

      Right now it's finding the time to write. My job and volunteer work keep me so busy, but beyond that, it's the fear that my writing can't get any better, that I've hit my limit and can't improve. But I just have to tell myself that as long as I'm open it, there's always room for learning and growth and that I can always make my stories stronger.

      Any tips you’ve learned about writing you’d like to share?

      Image by Nik Clark
      Two tips: 1. I'm going to try to sound zen and will probably fail, but writing is like stacking pebbles. You're not going to write a book in a day, probably not even in a month, and it's going to seem as if you're not making much progress at first, but if you work on it every day, adding a few paragraphs at a time, you'll eventually have a giant mound of pebbles that will fall on you and crush you...I mean, you'll have a novel (that might crush you if it's 250,000 words long).

      2. Revision is a skill in and of itself. Get used to doing it and learn to do it well. You can practice by joining a critique group or getting beta readers. If you're not willing to revise, you'll never be a successful author. It's that simple.

      Great tips. If you could choose, what would you like your book’s cover art to be?

      I am so not an artist, so if I'm ever lucky enough to get published, I'd leave it to the experts. But in my head, I see Justine and the rest of the knights standing on the Jersey shore, maybe on a boardwalk, your average teens, except they've all got their swords and weapons on them.

      Cool! So who are your inspirations?

      I'm strongly influenced by Cynthia Voight and Mercedes Lackey. Their characters always felt so real, their concerns so normal, despite the extraordinary circumstances the characters may have found themselves in.

      In terms of actual inspiration, I find that I get inspired by art...this can be Renaissance art in a museum, but it can also be something like grafitti. I have a thing for grafitti, I take pictures of it wherever I go, and it turns up time and again in my story ideas.

      Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

      I must have music, chocolate, and my beloved, but very ill-tempered beagle, Lucy. I find that an ill-tempered beagle is an absolute necessity.

      Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Who would you like to give a shout out to?

      To my Dad, for being my biggest supporter and my best critic. To all my other beta readers, especially Andrea and Jamie, and to anyone who's ever taken the time to give me feedback, because I know it takes time to do that. Also, to my blog readers and Twitter followers, you guys are pretty awesome!

      And finally, where can people find you online?

      My website is:
      I'm also on Twitter:

      Thanks so much for chatting with us, Melissa. And good luck with your book!

      Thanks again for the interview!

      Tuesday, 11 May 2010

      Separation Anxiety

      One of the things I struggle with when I write is separating writing from editing. I tend to correct as I go. I think it's something that was just planted in me, like a seed, and then grew and grew until it took over my thinking completely.

      On the one hand, I like that I scrutinize every word I write, every sentence and every paragraph, wondering if there is a better way to convey to the reader what I'm trying to say. But on the other hand, it's TOO MUCH PRESSURE. Words will not flow like they should if I'm constantly changing a sentence around before I get to the next one, right? Not to mention how long it takes to get that story out of my wee brain.

      I'm working on it though.

      I've recently started a new WIP, and I will try to remind myself to just write, write, keep on writing, and go back through it later for editing and revisions. You realize I used the word "try," right? ;p

      You tell me. Do you find it easy to separate writing and editing, or is it easier for you to correct as you go?

      Monday, 10 May 2010

      Interview with Milva

      Hello, everybody. I hope all the mothers out there had a fantastic Mother's Day.

      Today we have a special interview from across the pond. Well, across the pond from most of you—I live in Germany so it's more like right next door to me. We're talking with Holland-based Milva.

      Welcome, Milva. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

      My name is Milva (Chin Tjauw Yin). My husband's name is Dave van der Vinden and we have two children, ages 11 and 14. In real life I work in a store which sells diverse items from mugs to furniture. I started in the administrative field, but since my youngest arrived, I needed a part time job and I ended up in the store.

      Let's talk about your writing. What is the name and genre of your manuscript?

      The name of my book is Verloren Liefde, which translated in English is Lost Love. The genre is historical fiction, but I like to call it a historical chicklit.

      Here’s the part where you pitch it. What’s your story about?

      The story is about two people: The female character Maria Lynn lives in Amsterdam as a medical secretary. As long as she can remember, she has had vivid dreams about a past life. On the other side of the world is a doctor in India, Ray Agrawal, who also has the exact same dreams. They meet at a medical convention and when events move further they find out they have a connection, the connection of their previous lives together.

      At the same time the story goes back in the time. In 18th Century India, Englishman Lawrence and the lovely princess Amala meet in unusual circumstances. Their love is forbidden, because she belongs to another man. It’s a story where love overcomes time. From past to the present. Can they retrieve their love in the here and now, the love that was taken away from them?

      So it's a reincarnation story. Very interesting. How did the idea of the story come to you?

      The time the story came to me, I watched a lot of Bollywood movies. With the setting of India, the idea of reincarnation began to grow on me and at one point the story began to come alive for me.

      I understand you are published. Can you tell us about how that came about?

      I entered a writing contest and the prize was you could win a contract with a publisher. I didn’t make it to the short list, but a few months later the publisher called me and said they wanted to publish my story.

      It’s a print-on-demand publisher. That means if an order for the book is placed, they will print it. They have no stocking place. The only catch is you have to promote yourself. A lot. That’s a bit of a problem for me, because I’m actually too shy.

      Do you have any plans to have your book translated into English and have it sold in English-speaking countries? Is so, what are your plans to accomplish this?

      It’s a dream of course to get my book translated into English. Dutch is not a language everybody speaks around the world. I still have no idea how to accomplish this. I guess if I can get enough readers, it will get to the point where I can take that step. My ultimate dream is to get it adapted into a movie. I secretly already have a cast…hahaha.

      That would be amazing. So do you have a critique group or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

      At this point I do have some critique beta readers. Some are for spelling, others are simply reading the story. Is it exciting enough, that kind of stuff. When I wrote Verloren Liefde, I had just one beta reader and one corrector. I think I’ve grown since then.

      What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

      Writer's block. Sometimes I’m in a flow and I can’t stop writing. There are also months I just can’t write, and several storylines are battling in my head, so I don’t know where to begin.
      As for now, the research is getting in the way of writing. It’s important to get the research right, so readers will believe the story.

      Any tips you’ve learned about writing you’d like to share?

      The thing I’ve learned about writing is that you have to re-write, and that the story should be written in the past or the present tense. I just wrote and I had no idea about all the rules. It’s important you know that, it will save you a lot of trouble.

      Who are your inspirations?

      My favourite author is Stephen King, but I also read other genres like Fantasy. Lord of the Rings is also my absolute favourite read. Chicklits are also a great read and the queen of chicklit, in my opinion, is Sophie Kinsella. I get my inspiration from history. I just love history, from ancient Egypt to French royalty before the revolution.

      Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. Can you name three things about yourself people may not know?

      Three things that people don’t know about me? That’s a hard question to answer.

      I guess that I’m a complete nerd (proud of it). I’d like to stay at home with a good book and get totally lost in it.

      Second one is, I hate to admit it, but I’m addicted to little black dresses, shoes and bags.
      Especially little black dresses, I have a total of 5. Shocking! I won’t even mention the shoes and bags.

      Third, I love Fantasy and Sci-fi movies. But my favourite movie is the Sound of Music.

      Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Who would you like to give a shout out to?

      I'd like to thank by beta readers, but especially Jolanda who was there at the beginning of it all, and my corrector and online friend since 10 years Brenda.

      And finally, where can people find you online?

      People can find me on Facebook
      If the link doesn’t work, just look for Milva Chin.
      On Twitter
      I’m working on a website, but I’m a complete doofus..oops can I say that?

      You can say it, but I bet it's not true. *wink* Thank you so much for chatting with us, Milva. I'm sure if we have any Dutch readers they'll be looking out for your book, and please let us know once it's translated into English.

      Friday, 7 May 2010

      Interview with Kate Walton

      Happy Friday, everyone! Are you all ready for the weekend? Me too!

      And in that celebratory state of mind, let's welcome a wonderful aspiring writer to We Do Write.

      Welcome, Kate! Tell us a little about yourself.

      First, thank you so much, Dorothy, for organizing this interview. It is my first blog interview of all time. About me, well, I taught middle school language arts for ten incredible years and loved every single moment. Now I am an instructional coach for teachers, coaching them on how to make their instructional practice the best it can possibly be. It's a cool job. I'm also a writer (big surprise). I write a variety of things from picture books and middle grade to young adult and research books. The research book I co-authored on Numeracy mathematics instruction just got picked up by Corwin Press and has an April 2011 release date!! It was THE HARDEST thing I have ever written in my life.

      Sounds intense. Let's talk about what you're writing now. What is the name and genre of your manuscript?

      My fiction manuscript that seems to be getting the most attention at the moment is EVERYTHING'S NOT LOST.

      Aha, sounds familiar. I may have spotted your entries on a contest or two. Here’s the part where you pitch it. What’s your story about?

      Two sixteen year old boys, Victor and Bull, who are mortal enemies, find themselves in the same psych the same room. If they don’t realize how broken the other is and how similar their pain is, they may not survive.

      They each tell their story through alternating chapters in their own heartbreaking and humorous way.

      Wow, psych ward drama. Very cool How did the idea of the story come to you?

      I was actually in NYC at the 2009 SCBWI Winter Conference, and the idea of having a book with two alternating points of view came to me at one of the breakout sessions on character development. I went back to my room and wrote five pages of ideas and plot points out for the book. One character is the bully and the other the victim. It was really fun to get inside each of their heads.

      Is your manuscript complete or still a work in progress?

      It's as complete as I can get it. But every single time I go back in I make minor changes.

      And what is your next step?

      I am currently in agent query-land. However, this manuscript was one of the winners of the Sourcebooks TeenFire competition, and it's out with one of their editors as I type.

      Awesome! Congratulations. Speaking of editing, do you usually have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

      I have a small army of readers/writers who read and crit my manuscripts. I started a tri-ad crit group which went well for a while, and then sort of drifted away. The other two writers were/are super talented, and I learned quite a bit from their critiques.

      How long have you been writing?

      I wrote my first (and completely awful) middle grade novel back in 1993. But I didn't start querying hard until 2007 for my other (way better) MG suspense novel titled, THE END OF NORMAL.

      What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

      Carving out time to actually write. Working full time and having two boys and a husband certainly has a way of getting in my way. In a good way. :) However, a fellow blogger named Weronika shared the most brilliant idea of typing one page a day. It has worked for me this past week, and I'm thrilled beyond belief.

      Sounds like a great concept. Any other tips you’ve learned about writing you’d like to share?

      Take advantage of the internet. Enter contests, join groups, visit writing forums, read everything you can possibly read from the experts, get as much solid feedback from fellow writers as you can. Immerse yourself in all things writing.

      Exactly the advice I would give. There's so much information out there. So, do you have an idea of your book’s cover art?

      No, I've actually never thought about that. Now that I have, I'm envisioning a black, white and red cover with the silhouettes of both boys.

      Sounds great. Who are your inspirations?

      Favorite book inspirations:
      The ENTIRE Harry Potter series with the last book being my absolute favorite
      The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and An
      Abundance of Katherines by John Green -- both books contain brilliantly written dialogue and wicked humor
      The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho -- inspiration times infinity. Not a YA book but spectacular if you've ever doubted your destiny.

      Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. Is there anything you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

      My big, ear-covering headphones with classical music blaring through them. They are the perfect family-blocker-outers.

      Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Who would you like to give a shout out to?

      Again, thank you to you for offering to interview an aspiring author like me! 

      You're welcome!

      Next, thank you to my blog readers who have cheered me on during my most boo-hooey moments. Finally, thank you to anyone reading this interview about plain-old-me.

      And finally, where can people find you online?

      Writing site:
      Book Trailer for EVERYTHING'S NOT LOST:

      Thank you again, Kate, for letting us get to know you and your book. I wish you all the best on your publication journey, and please let us know when your book is available.

      Wednesday, 5 May 2010

      Interview with Vaughn McKenna

      Hello, everyone. I'm very pleased with the progress of the blog. We've gained a few more followers, and that makes me happy.

      Here's another thing that makes me happy. Today we're chatting with another awesome aspiring writer. Let's get to know her.

      Welcome, Vaughn. Tell us a little about yourself.

      I'm Vaughn McKenna, 29, living in Denver, CO. I work in the Loan Department of a bank. I’m single with no kids, but have two cats. I’m currently in school working to get my Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing.

      A perfect degree to get for a writer! Speaking of which, tell us what you're working on.

      I’m writing an urban fantasy series called Thirteen Kingdoms. The title of the first book in the series is “Moonlight in Purgatory.”

      Love the title. It already creates images and tone. Here’s the part where you pitch it. What’s your story about?

      “Moonlight in Purgatory” is a dark, dramatic and humor-tinged urban fantasy novel that follows the journey of a 21st century woman, Helen Troy (known as Hel). Hel is an unsuspecting mortal who is bitten by the faerie Tiberius and becomes a Blessed Mortal- - a human able to see the immortal beings who inhabit the Earth. One of the immortals is a man she knows and has lusted for in the past, the sensually appealing cupid, Gabriel Blackthorne. Hel is placed under Gabriel's protection after her transformation, but he is unable to save her from an attack by his own brother, the werewolf, Matt. She is nearly killed in the attack and finds upon awakening that greater powers have intervened, transforming her from a lonely, somewhat reclusive human to a feisty, sharp-tongued, shape-shifting griffin. She later learns that her transformation was thanks to the machinations of the hypnotically handsome vampire, Christopher, with the help of Loki, one of the Original Thirteen Immortals.

      Whoa! So this story has faeries and werewolves and griffins and vampires—that's quite a combination. I'm intrigued. How did the idea of the story come to you?

      I had created the character Hel about a year before I started writing Moonlight in Purgatory. One day, I just started writing an urban fantasy about a girl who was bitten by a faerie and could then see the new immortal world around her. I decided to insert Hel into the story, and voila! Nine months later, a novel about Helen “Hel” Troy.

      Nine months, just like a pregnancy! So you could say this book is your baby. So now that your "baby" is complete, what steps have you taken with it so far?

      I pitched “Moonlight in Purgatory” to a small publisher at MilehiCon in a scheduled pitching session. He told me if I sent it to him, he would send it on to his urban fantasy editor, which I did recently, and now I’m waiting to hear back.

      That's fantastic. Do you have a critique group or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

      I am part of a writers group. I also have a very good friend who does the editing after I have gone through the critiques I received from the writers group to make sure the content, continuity, grammar, and punctuation are correct.

      Sounds perfect. What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

      All of it! There are times when naming a character will keep me from writing for a week, or like right now I have this very intense scene I’m writing in the second book of this series, and I’m having a hard time with it because I’m not sure how to end the battle. It can’t be a fight to the death…yet. I know most of the story, but I don’t use an outline because I don’t find them very helpful, so there are things I’m not entirely sure about in terms of how they’re going to work out. They usually do, but it’s hard to see it and feel good about writing it until it’s done. But I love writing, and can’t imagine not doing it…so here I am.

      Any tips you’ve learned about writing you’d like to share?

      Have someone, anyone, look at your work other than yourself. You can’t see everything, and sometimes you forget that your readers can’t read your mind and won’t always know what you’re saying. A fresh pair of eyes is definitely key. Also, don’t ever stop writing. I think it’s important to keep writing, to keep venturing forward in your craft.

      All very sound advice. Tell us about your other projects.

      I’m working on the second book in the Thirteen Kingdoms series, “House of Eros.” I have another novel, inches away from a final draft, called “Kallisto’s Hold.” And a young adult book called “The Lost” is half written. I know how it’s going to end, and I continue to work on it intermittently.

      Who are your inspirations?

      I have many inspirations. There are so many good writers out there that have moved me and made me work harder to be a better writer: Aaron Sorkin, Joss Whedon, Bryan Fuller, Patricia Briggs, M. Night Shyamalan, Kim Harrison, Stephen King, James Cameron, Eric Kripke, Orson Scott Card, Mercedes Lackey, John Hughes, and I could go on and on. Also, Erin Brockovich was a huge inspiration to me for so many reasons. She fought a system that was clearly broken and she persevered. Her unwillingness to give up is something I aspire to in my life as a whole.

      Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Who would you like to give a shout out to?

      Mom and Dad. My writers group and dear friends: Stephanie Sage, Sara Roach, Gail Henry, and Sarah Doe. Mary Louise Brown. JohnMichael Thistle. Andrea White. David Hindman. My grandma Phyllis and my other grandma Andrea. Rosalie (“The Kid,” to me).

      And finally, where can people find you online?

      Vaughn, thank you so much for chatting with us today. I'm looking forward to the day I see your books in print. Good luck!