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For Your Reading Pleasure…Allison Maruska

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We have Allison Maruska here today. Her YA novel will release soon so be sure and check out her blog and Facebook page for updates!!!

1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page)

In addition to being a writer, I’m a wife, mom, teacher, owl enthusiast, and Colorado native.
Author website and blog: allisonmaruska.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/allisonmaruskaauthor
Twitter: @allisonmaruska

2. How do you choose names for your characters?

It depends, but most of the time I’ll imagine the character’s features and mannerisms, then I resort to my Name Dice app. I literally roll the dice until I land on a name that “feels” right. If the character is from a time in the past, I research popular baby names from that time period and use one of those.

3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real? Yes, especially when hashing out ideas with someone. Sometimes I forget my characters aren’t real and get sad when reality hits again. They begin to feel like friends I haven’t seen for a long time but I know completely.

4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind?

Nope, I need it quiet. But a few of my characters have “adopted” songs to match their personalities, so I’ll listen to those before writing about them.

5. How long have you been writing?

I started blogging in March of 2012; consisting mostly of humor, parenting, and teaching posts. Fiction writing came later. I had the characters for my first book in my head around this time, but it took me a year to figure out their story. That was after five attempts.

6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer.

Oh, wow. I’m not sure. Looking back, it seems like it should have been obvious. When I was in fifth grade, I won a short story contest at school and had to read it in front of everyone. I didn’t tell my mom until the morning before it was supposed to happen because the attention embarrassed me.
I didn’t think I could really be a writer – like someone who could do this for a living – until much much later. Like a month ago. Ha.

7. Do you have a muse?

Not really… sometimes ideas just seem to pop out of nowhere.

8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading)

I’ve done quite a bit of reading and have my favorite “writing” authors – Chuck Wendig and Nathan Bransford are two. But I’d say the biggest source of improvement is my online writing community at Critique Circle. There are writers representing every genre and skill level from all over the world. In the group that critiques my work, I have one writer who focuses on how I’ve developed my characters, while another picks out my unnecessary wordiness. The other seven offer suggestions from their own strengths – plausibility, sentence construction, etc. And I offer suggestions to them in their work. Once the trust is established, only constructive criticism and improvement follow.

9. Writing quirks or superstitions?

No, but I’m open to suggestions.

10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress.

I guess I have two – the one in the critique group now and I’m polishing is an adult mystery/suspense novel about four strangers who learn their ancestors worked together to bury something in a locked safe in a Virginia courthouse a century ago. Their ancestors came from diverse backgrounds, having no obvious reason to work together. The descendants have to find the keys left to their families to unlock the mystery, which ends up being much more serious than they could have imagined.
The book I’m actively writing probably couldn’t be more different – it’s a YA urban fantasy/dystopian about a teenage boy who survives a global pandemic along with a handful of other teens. Instead of the virus killing them, they develop the ability to shape shift into various flying creatures. It’s a story of how they all try to fit into their new world.

11. What book are you reading now?

Mostly my friends’ projects in my critique group. As far as actual published books go, I’ve been reading a lot of self-published work by authors I’ve met in the critique group or on Twitter. Recent titles include Savvy Stories by Dan Alatorre; IA: Initiate by John Winston; and I’m currently reading Necromancer Awakening by Nat Russo.

12. What genre do you write in? What about PoV?

I favor mystery/suspense, but my work seems to always have bits of sci-fi in there too. Third person limited is my fallback POV for novels, but short stories are usually in first person.

13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines?

I plan the major plot points ahead of time but “pants” most of the in between events. I’ve outlined a couple books more thoroughly, but I found myself changing a lot of what I planned as I went along.

14. Do you know how your stories will end?

Not usually at the beginning. I have to get a feel for the characters and how the story’s going before I can figure out a great twist and satisfying ending. I love twists. Readers of my short stories are nodding in agreement right now.

15. Do you books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment?

I’m not sure I consciously have a theme, but one usually emerges as I’m going along. Since all but one of my books so far are YA, the theme usually is in the spirit of finding your place in the world, learning who you really are, and fighting for what matters. But the reason I write is to entertain.

16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing?

If I’m stuck I eat sweets. If I’m cruising along I usually forget to eat.

17. Tell us about your other passions.

First place would be my husband and our two elementary-aged sons. Listening to my boys read is one of my favorite parts of my day.

I’ve been an elementary school teacher for thirteen years; I had my own classroom for the first ten years. I’m currently a part time “certified interventionist” at a school with a high-poverty population. The kids are amazing and funny.

I also serve in our church as a second grade teacher and as a keyboard player on the worship team. It can be a lot of work sometimes but I love it.

18. What’s something interesting about you?

I can drink a gallon of milk in ten seconds.
I really can’t, but whoever knows what that’s from gets a million bonus points.

19. Share a small sample(limit to one paragraph, please) of your writing… can be a WIP or already published.

This is the first paragraph from my soon-to-be-released YA novel.

Levin looked away from his computer screen and back to the torn open envelope on his desk. At first, he’d kept it in a drawer, but he found himself opening the drawer repeatedly to ensure the envelope was still there. He moved it to his desk top for more convenient visual confirmation of its presence.

20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?

THANK YOU!! I obviously wouldn’t be able to do this if it weren’t for you.

Thanks Allison! Looking forward to your release day!!
E&M

For Your Reading Pleasure…Debbie Alferio

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Our feature today is with Debbie Alferio. Let’s read about her writing process. 🙂

1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page, etc.

I’m an award-winning inspirational romance author and speaker from northern Ohio. My husband, two sons, and I live just outside Cleveland with our little “zoo” of fur babies which includes seven cats, two dogs, a ball python, and a little white mouse I call Juliette (whom I saved when the snake decided she wasn’t hungry!). My Forever Love series was inspired by a dream; I currently have two novels published, and am hard at work on the third. I’m a member of the International Writers Association, American Authors Association, Ohio Professional Writers, Writer’s Ink, and the Sauna Friends Writers Group. I’ve also been honored to be the Ohio Representative for a literacy campaign called Authors Across America, and have listings in two Who’s Who directories. Having lost several relatives to cancer and knowing many others who have been touched by the disease, I donate a part of my profits to the American Cancer Society. You can find out more about me and my books at http://www.freewebs.com/debsbooks, pick up writing tips at http://www.debbiealferio.blogspot.com, or check out my pages on Facebook and Amazon.

2. How do you choose names for your characters?

In the dream which sparked my writing career, I was talking to a man I addressed as “Mitch.” Strange to me, because I’ve never known anyone by that name in my life! My hero, Mitch Tarrington, was born from that event. The names of the other characters came to me as I was writing. I’ve never had to think about this issue at all. The info, believe it or not, just seems to be there!

3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real?

You mean, they AREN’T? J My characters are as real to me as my actual family and friends. If an author can’t relate to her characters in that way, how can she properly portray them to her readers?

4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind?

While I love music (primarily country and 80s rock/pop), I’m too easily distracted to play anything while I’m working. When I do, I find myself fiddling with the iPod or radio to find my favorite songs instead of typing!

5. How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for a little over ten years.

6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer.

In September, 2004, I dreamed I was sitting in an office, talking to a young man I didn’t know. I looked at him and said, “Okay, Mitch!” Then I woke up. A story started to form in my head, and something told me I needed to write it down (the “divine intervention”). I went to my computer and the words just flowed from me as if they’d always been there. A little less than six months later, I’d completed the manuscript for my first novel, “A Forever Kind of Love.” I’ve been writing ever since, and loving every minute of it!

7. Do you have a muse?

I do, but it’s been on vacation a lot recently! LOL Seriously, though, I’m not one of those writers who finds it easy to write something worthy of reading every time I sit down at the computer. Sometimes the muse decides to take a day off, and when it does, I try not to worry about it. My motto is “you can’t force creativity.” But, when the muse kicks in, the results are awesome! Fortunately, those days happen more than the off ones.

8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading)

All of the above! I’m also fortunate enough to have a great group of friends who are authors that I can network with on a regular basis. I’m a member of several writing groups, as well. I’ve found that there is always something new to learn and always some way I can improve upon my craft.

9. Writing quirks or superstitions?

My biggest quirk is that I tend to edit as I go along, and that can really cut into my progress. I’m too much of a perfectionist, I guess.

10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress.

Due to what I’ll call a “series of unfortunate events” within my family, my third novel has taken much longer than I had hoped. However, I’m starting to get back on track, and hope to have it released by this time next year, if not sooner. It will “solve” the cliffhanger ending posed by “Waiting for Tomorrow” and will continue the story of my couple, Mitch and Dana Tarrington. My readers have been eager to find out whether or not poor Mitch is still alive. (read the books to find out what I’m talking about!)

11. What book are you reading now?

I just finished the Flynn Brothers Series by Heather Graham. Very good!

12. What genre do you write in? What about PoV?

My genre is inspirational romance—in other words, romantic theme without the explicit scenes or graphic descriptions. The books in my series are appropriate for ages 14-15 and up. As far as POV, I tend to break the rules a little there. In my series, I write in both first and third person. Some may see this as taboo, but I’ve been told by a few editors that this is okay as long as I’m careful about transitioning from one POV to the other. I’ve found out recently that a lot more authors are doing this, and my readers have told me they like the style, soooo….

13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines?

I don’t outline. Can’t outline. Drives me crazy! I’m far too detail-oriented, and if I try to follow an outline and happen to stray from it, I get stressed out! I’m what you call a pantser—I fly by the seat of my pants and let the characters/scenes/muse carry me. I always have some idea of where I want the story to go, but if it ends up taking off in another direction, I’m okay with that. Keeps things interesting for me.

14. Do you know how your stories will end?

Not always. Again, part of that whole “pantser” thing. In fact, I had an entirely different ending lined up for “Waiting for Tomorrow,” but on the advice of my husband, ended up changing it at the last minute. It honestly worked out for the better!

15. Do your books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment?

My series actually has various themes. My heroine is learning how to trust; my hero is growing spiritually (in the first two books—he may not live to see Book 3, remember). I also hope to inspire my readers in some way through my work.

16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing?

My addiction is Dubble Bubble bubble gum. It’s my stress reliever. I chew two pieces at a time, and tend to “chain chew”—when the flavor runs out, I reload! Doesn’t do much to keep my TMJ in check, but it does help me concentrate.

17. Tell us about your other passions.

Besides my family and pets, I’m in the process of starting a youth group at my church. At this point, I’m going into the project as blind as can be, but I figure God will show me what to do! I’m excited about the possibility of reaching out to the teens and young adults in the community, and being a positive role model to them. It should be fun!

18. What’s something interesting about you?

I’ve never had any formal training in writing and never aspired to become a writer prior to my dream.

19. Share a small sample (limit to one paragraph, please) of your writing… can be a WIP or already published.

This is the opening paragraph to my second novel, “Waiting for Tomorrow”—I turned the dial on the timer and set it on the counter, found a magazine, and took my place on the couch in impatient waiting. My fingers fumbled to turn the page, and my mind refused to concentrate on the words printed there. Ten minutes. It wasn’t long in reality, but I knew it would be the longest, most nerve-wracking time in my existence thus far. Deciding to give up on my attempt at reading, I tossed the magazine on the coffee table and settled back into the softness of the cushions as I let my thoughts take control. (What is Dana

waiting on? Read the book to find out!)
20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?

I’d like to thank all those who have taken the time to purchase and read my books, and for the outpouring of love and support you’ve given me and my family over these past few years. You all mean more to me than I can express in words, and without you, this journey would be lonely and meaningless. I look forward to many more years of getting to know my current readers better, and making new friends with new readers. I promise to do my best to continue to deliver books that you can enjoy for years to come. Love and blessings to all!

Thanks Debbie! We enjoyed having you!!
E&M

For Your Reading Pleasure…Liana Brooks

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Our feature today is Liana Brooks. Let’s see how she approaches the writing process…

1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page)

Let’s see… I’m an extrovert, I love mint-chocolate chip ice cream, I want to live on a tropical coast, and I travel a lot. The extrovert part explains my social media addiction. I’m on Twitter and FaceBook all the time! And the traveling is why my blog is getting neglected this month. It’s hard to find computer time when you’re catching flights and camping in hotels.

FaceBook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Liana-Brooks/278779308851471
Blog – http://www.lianabrooks.com
Even Villains Go To The Movies – http://www.lianabrooks.com/2000/10/even-villains-go-to-movies-official-page.html
Jane Doe: The Day Before – http://www.lianabrooks.com/2001/01/jane-doe-official-page.html

2. How do you choose names for your characters?

It really depends on the book. Sometimes I have a name before I develop a story, sometimes I go on Twitter and ask for suggestions because I know the character but not the name. Sometimes the names are written in stone from Day 1, but there are books where I’ve changed the main character’s name twelve times in two drafts. In most cases I try to choose names that have some meaning.

3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real?

Yes! Doesn’t everyone?

4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind?

It depends on the book. In EVEN VILLAINS GO TO THE MOVIES I have a salsa scene and when I was writing and editing it I had a couple of salsa songs playing on repeat. I wrote most of JANE DOE: THE DAY BEFORE (out in April) without music because, to me, it’s a tense book and the main character appreciates silence. I have another WIP that I made a soundtrack of Celtic music for because the book needs music.

5. How long have you been writing?

Professionally? My first published-for-money short story came out in 2009, so five years. I’ve been writing for fun longer than that, but 2009 is really when I switched from being a hobby writer to pursuing publication in a serious way.

6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer.

Don’t hate me for saying this, but I’ve never felt that way. I know some authors feel they were called to write, but I’ve never had a flash of inspiration that compelled me to write. I think I’d be good at anything I put my mind to, and writing was an easy thing to focus on when I was a young mother fresh out of college. I was in a situation that made working outside the home difficult and writing was something selfish that benefited only me. Being a full-time stay-at-home parent can be draining emotionally and psychologically and, at least for me, I found writing was a good way to refill my emotional reserve so I could turn around and be the person I needed to be for family and friends. It was a form of therapy that I’ve turned into a career.

7. Do you have a muse?

No, but I have skeletons in the closet.
Honestly, I can’t have a muse and meet deadlines. If I only wrote on the days I felt creative and energized I’d still be writing my first novel.

8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading)

Reading and listening. I would love to attend workshops and cons but I’ve never managed to fit one into my schedule. Luckily for me (and you!) many people will live-tweet events and there are millions of talented people who blog about every aspect of the industry. If there’s something I can’t find with a quick Google search than I turn to my writing group or industry friends.

9. Writing quirks or superstitions?

I always expect my book to fail. I send queries out expecting rejections. I publish planning to receive one-star reviews. I don’t daydream about the best seller list. If those successes come, I’m ecstatic, but I’m expecting the worse so it isn’t a horrible shock when those punches come.

10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress.

Ah… just one? I have a Lazy Susan method of writing so I have multiple projects in different stages at once. Right now I’m writing the first draft of JANE 2, the fourth Heroes and Villains novella is on draft three, and I have some short stories bouncing around on the pot boiler. And I have an urban fantasy novel about the search for the second King Arthur that’s with my beta readers for editing. That one’s really fun. Fairies and guns are a good combination.

11. What book are you reading now?

IN THE MIDST OF ALARMS by Dianne Graves a book about the women involved in the War of 1812. My husband is a big history buff and when we travel we like to stop at historic sites. While we were in Charleston, South Carolina, a number of years ago we went to Fort Sumter and I was struck by the poignancy of the stories we didn’t hear. Three women were at Fort Sumter during the Civil War, isolated from society, marooned on this island with the soldiers and their husbands, and their voice in history is largely silent. I wanted so much to read the journals of these women and understand how they felt during those battles. Since then I’ve made a point to buy any book written by or about women in times of war. We don’t learn these things in history class and we’re missing so much because these women who framed history left a written record. They wrote in journals. They kept diaries of their life in the wilderness and under siege. And I find it fascinating.

12. What genre do you write in? What about PoV?

Most my books are sci-fi romance or sci-fi with a touch of romance. Explosions, fast ships, and happily ever after make me happy. And I usually write in third person point of view. Science fiction tends to have a larger cast of characters than some of the other genres like contemporary or historical romance and having a third person POV means I can tell the story from multiple angles.

13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines?

When I get a new idea I’ll write the first few thousand words before I sit down to work out details and outlines. Most ideas don’t pan out. I have a folder with all the books I’ve started and on average I start 75 new story ideas each year. Of those 75 three might become finished stories. The first few chapters let me get a feel for the world. If the story gains traction I sit down and plot out my villains, my plot twists, and what my character’s want. Some stories get very elaborate outlines with inspiration boards and timelines, some of them get very little. It just depends on what I need to make the story complete.

14. Do you know how your stories will end?

I always think I do! I won’t write the book if I don’t have an ending in mind, but often enough the ending I planned isn’t the one you see in the finished manuscript. Stories change as you write them and the plot needs to grow with them.

15. Do you books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment?

Even books written purely for entertainment have a message. How could they not? Books reflect the values and prejudices of the reader, they make us think, and any book you read will tell you something about yourself.
That being said, I’ve noticed a tendency to write about choice and consequence a lot. There’s an underlying theme of “Your choices define you.” But I hope I don’t beat readers over the head with that.

16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing?

Chocolate, of course! And water. And I really like toasted acorn squash seeds. They’re so much yummier than pumpkin seeds!

17. Tell us about your other passions.

Cooking and parenting are where most my time is spent. I love to cook elaborate, gourmet meals. Good food can be hard to find if you don’t live near a big city so I’ve taught myself to make some delicious dishes. If I had free time (and unlimited funds) I’d do more SCUBA diving. And if a spaceship ever lands in my front yard I am stealing it so I can explore the stars. You’re welcome to come along.

18. What’s something interesting about you?

English is not my first language. Both my parents speak Spanish and we lived in a part of San Diego where most people didn’t use English at home so I the first few years of my life I knew more Spanish and ASL than I did English. That changed when we moved to Chicago and now I can barely say hello in either language.

19. Share a small sample (limit to one paragraph, please) of your writing… can be a WIP or already published.

This is from the urban fantasy my critique partners are reading right now. The working title is LADY OF THE LAKE:

The cloying scent of damp moth and rotting leaves perfumed the air, but there was a tainted smell beneath that. A hint of poisoned blood that made my skin prickle. “I read a book once,” I told Colina as the forest canopy grew thicker.
“Oh, aye? That’s bonnie. Everyone should read at least once in their life.”
I’d have punched her in the shoulder but she’d traded her forest rags for heavy leather and chainmail. Even in my own plate armor I wasn’t sure I could bruise her. “I was saying I read a book once with a dark forest like this.”
“How’d it end?” Colina asked as something skittered in the underbrush.
“Everyone died.”

20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?

I love you! Writing a book might be a solitary act but the fun part is always sharing the story with someone else. I’m so grateful for the people who are willing to invest time and money on an unknown author. Thank you so much for giving me a chance to share the stories I love. You are the best!

Thanks, Liana. We are so glad you featured with us today. Best of luck to you!!
E&M

For Your Reading Pleasure…Melissa Palmer

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For our Black Friday feature, we have Melissa Palmer, author of the recently released book, Twin Oaks. We’re glad to have her with us to talk about the writing process.

1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page)

I’m Melissa Palmer, not the doctor who writes about Hepatitis or Missy from Homestarrunner, but the author or strange short stories, the autism and mental health crusader, and the author of TWIN OAKS and A LIFE LESS NORMAL. I’m also known as @Noompsydahling where I tweet entirely too many pictures of my cat, cupcakes, and Supernatural memes.
My facebook is http://www.facebook.com/MelissaPalmerWriter

I blog at http://www.melissapalmerwritesbooks.blogspot.com

My Twin Oaks site is here https://www.facebook.com/notes/open-books/open-books-to-release-twin-oaks-by-melissa-palmer-on-december-10-2014/10152117907352824

I’m also on Goodreads, but I am a notoriously bad Goodreads updater.

2. How do you choose names for your characters?

Some just come to me because they sound cool, as in the case of Wilma Womack. But some are me being crafty. I have a girl named Iris in the book I’m working on who is based on my daughter Sophie. So I wanted a name we considered for her, plus one that really captures her personality. Mrs. Ringhaus of Twin Oaks is a character who realizes she’s spent her life running in circles…so…I kind of play with names a little bit there. Other times I’m just goofy, as in Gustav the dog, who is based on and named after my cat Gus.

3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real?

They’re not?

4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind?

I have a steady diet of pre-writing music to get me in the mood. Right now it’s a lot of Hozier. I don’t think I’ve ever connected to an album the way I do with Hozier’s latest release. Some of those songs get me right in the back of the throat. My WIP, BAKING FOR DAVE was born out of the Dave Matthews Pandora station. I guess I have music for baking too.

5. How long have you been writing?

Since first grade, kindergarten really.

6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer.

I remember being in second grade and waking up in the middle of the night because I “had to write an idea down”. It was a haiku about squirrels, I think, but I remember as a little squirt sneaking into my closet (there was a light in there) and writing into the wee hours of the morning.

7. Do you have a muse?

The right music definitely impacts what I’m writing. Also, as strange as it sounds, water. So many story ideas have come to me when I was in the shower or doing dishes.

8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading)

Rewriting. Teaching writing helps. I am kind of mental about writing, as far as making sure I get it in. I never stop. Even if I’m “blocked” I’m working on other aspects of the writing; things like this, or pre-writing, short stories if I’m not working on a novel. Also, I try very hard to pick at scabs. That is, if something bothers me in real life, I try to slay it in a book. That’s why there are so many things that happen in my books that are mirrored in my life in some way. It’s cheaper than therapy. :]

9. Writing quirks or superstitions?

I always write better when I’m ovulating. I only edit when I am cursed.

10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress.

Baking for Dave follows the journey of a young girl with autism who runs away from home to compete in a national bake-off. She connects to the world through Dave Matthews music.

11. What book are you reading now?

I am in mourning for having finished the GoT books. And by the time this is published I will have finished the new Lestat book.

12. What genre do you write in? What about PoV?

I write contemporary and psychological literary fiction. POV changes depending on the story. My memoir was in first person. And as different as my two books may seem they are really quite similar. While I was frustrated writing my memoir I started thinking about people and their secrets. Then I started thinking, Wouldn’t it be better if everyone just dug the skeletons out of their closets? That ended up being the question that started Twin Oaks. Writing fiction got me to the heart of my non-fiction and both works benefited.

13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines?

I am definitely a bit of a madwoman when it comes to the way I write. First there is a notebook where I scrawl down the idea. Then I rewrite that idea in a neater hand, with some semblance of organization. (Sometimes this second step of the process will include sketches. I don’t mean this in the sense of literary character sketch. I mean this in the sense of- I grab my daughters’ crayons and colored pencils and draw out characters and neighborhoods. After that I type out all my notes. They become the skeletons of chapters.

14. Do you know how your stories will end?

Always

.
15. Do you books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment?

I always start out telling myself it’s just going to be a story. But no matter what I’m writing there is always a theme of isolation, of individual versus the “norm”. I guess I have some demons I still have to work out in the old noggin’.

16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing?

I try not to just because I don’t eat after 8 pm and I’m a nocturnal writer. But oddly enough, I noticed when I wrote TWIN OAKS I had a bit of a tradition of the pre-chapter beer. Otherwise I was getting way to precious and nit-picky about what I was doing.

17. Tell us about your other passions.

I LOVE baking, probably too much. I like to make baked goods that are like my writing, fill them with unexpected surprises like bacon and booze. There is a character in TWIN OAKS who is probably a little too much like me as far as getting mental about distance running. Running, as I forgot to mention in the other question, is also another way I get inspired. Something about the silence and solitude, the rhythm of those steps. I get some really good stuff halfway through a run. I also have a character in TWIN OAKS who talks to her dog like he’s a person. She may or may not also be based on someone very close to me. But in my defense I also talk to my cat and fish like they are people.

18. What’s something interesting about you?

I have a cadaver hip. (Side effect of way too much distance running.)

19. Share a small sample (limit to one paragraph, please) of your writing… can be a WIP or already published. This is the blurb I wrote up for my publisher for release.

Twin Oaks is the ideal neighborhood. It’s got manicured gardens, potluck dinners, and good neighbors—the kind that keep their bodies buried deep.
Mrs. Womack is the eyes and the ears of the cul-de-sac, who sees everything but her own loveless marriage. She could be plotting murder as she makes small talk with her genius dog, or she could be thinking about her next sandwich. Mr. Chalmers doesn’t like to leave the house much, but he does love explosives and things that go boom. Mrs. Ringhaus likes a life of structure and rules. The thought of ripping off her clothes makes her blush. At first. Ms. Bea is the reasonable type who is good at pretending folks don’t stare, especially when they do. Then there’s Mr. Pollack, the frustrated painter in a search of truth and love. His wife April searches neither. She never asks once about Mrs. MacMillan, the founding member of the ladies club who has disappeared. Instead she takes in tea with Mrs. Granger, whose teeth look too long for her mouth; and with Annabelle, a known man-eater; and Abigail, who seems to have misplaced her mind. April doesn’t question why the Twin Oaks Homeowner’s Association is not what it seems.
Nothing in Twin Oaks is.

20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?

Thanks so much for reading. This has been a big year for me. To think after ten years of submitting I got two contracts in the same week. It’s unbelievable the way these things work. I cannot express my gratitude any more than that.

Thanks, Melissa. Good luck with Twin Oaks.
E&M

For Your Reading Pleasure…Dara Morris

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Today we have a special Wednesday edition of For Your Reading Pleasure. Dara Morris is one of my very first author friends, and a fellow Louisiana girl. Last month, she released her first book, “Only the Scars Remain” with Cool Beans Publishing. Lets see what Dara has to say about her writing process.

1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page)

I have always loved to read since I was a little girl. I would lose myself in the pages of another world, one that always seemed more interesting and fun than mine! I excelled in writing in school but it wasn’t until last year that I decided to write a book. And once I did…I became hooked. I can’t imagine not writing now. It’s like breathing to me, a must. I love to write romance and in the magic of true love.
I live in West Monroe, Louisiana with my three beautiful children, two teenagers and a seven year old. I also work full time so I stay pretty busy. Once I get home and everything is settled, I pop my earbuds in and it’s just me, music, and my book. Writing brings so much happiness to my life and I hope my readers feel it too!
Author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cypress-Bayou-Series/725579504185537

2. How do you choose names for your characters?

In my novel, the main characters names are Alyssa and Ryan. I’ve always loved names that start with the letter A, and I thought Alyssa had a pretty, feminine sound. Handsome Ryan Gosselin is one of my all-time favorite actors, so I picked his name for my hero’s. My other character’s names were chosen pretty randomly, some after people I know.

3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real?

I do! Sometimes people look at me like I’m crazy. But in my head they are real, and I have to get their story out so that others can share in their lives.

4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind?

I listen mostly to rock and alternative. John Mayer is a favorite.

5. How long have you been writing?

I started writing last summer. We were on a family vacation, and it popped in my head to write a book. I’d always been a good writer and loved to read, and I felt like I could really do this. It took me six months to finish my book, and another three to edit all my mistakes. I was pretty clueless!

6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer.

I would say it was when I was about halfway done with my first book. What I had wanted to accomplish was right in front of me, and all I had to do was finish it. I knew that I could do it again.

7. Do you have a muse?

My muse would be music. It helps me focus and places me in my own little world.

8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading)

I do research online. I’m hoping to attend some workshops and conferences in the near future.

9. Writing quirks or superstitions?

I like to have a candle going and music up. That sets me in a great mood for a productive writing session

10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress.

Right now I’m working on the second book in the Cypress Bayou Series. It’s the story of Fran, Alyssa’s sister. She struggles with drug and alcohol problems, but meets Lucas and he helps to turn her life around. He is a world famous musician who has issues of his own. But with the power of true love, happiness is found with the other.

11. What book are you reading now?

I wish I had time to read a book! Between work, kids, and writing, I haven’t had much time for reading but plan to squeeze some reading time in because I miss it.

12. What genre do you write in? What about PoV?

I write romances with a bit of magic thrown in. It makes me so happy to create a story where true love is found and there is a happy ending. I write from third person POV.

13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines?

I have a spiral notebook that I keep for each book. I like to write each character’s looks and personality down for future reference. I write the outline for the book initially, and as each chapter emerges, I map out what I want to accomplish in that chapter.

14. Do you know how your stories will end?

Yes. The middle part is the hardest to write!

15. Do you books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment?

I would say mostly for entertainment. But I hope my books inspire someone to believe in true love, and if it’s real, it will always find its way back.

16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing?

Diet dr pepper and dill pickle chips

17. Tell us about your other passions.

I love to shop with my seventeen year old, and spend time with my boys. The only thing I watch on TV is sports; I’m a huge football and basketball fan. I also love to go fishing, and plan vacations.

18. What’s something interesting about you?

I love roller coasters! Busch Gardens was an awesome theme park to visit last summer because of all the rides, I was thrilled.

19. Share a small sample(limit to one paragraph, please) of your writing… can be a WIP or already published.

From Only the Scars Remain:
Ryan was gone, he hadn’t returned home since that summer ten years past. Alyssa wrapped her arms around her waist, anguish filling her soul for all that had been, and all that was lost. As she stared painfully upon their initials forever inscribed, she shivered as she was catapulted back to when their friendship had led to a fierce, sweet hell of an extraordinary love.

20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?

I would just like to say thank you for giving my work a chance. I’ve worked hard to realize my dream, and I hope all the care and dedication shine through to the reader.

Thanks Dara! Good luck to you and the Cypress Bayou Series!
E&M

For Your Reading Pleasure…Tom Beck

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With us today is Tom Beck. We’re glad he stopped by to share all his writing secrets with us. Enjoy!!

1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page)

Facebook under Tom Beck, Thomas Beck is my facebook published site. Thomas Beck’s Blog Covers hospital stories, flash fiction/, poetry, family tales, etc.

2. How do you choose names for your characters?

Names can come from anywhere. Church bulletins, family members.

3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real?

I write mostly from first person, sharing what my brain thinks the character sees, hears, and feels. When I write the character, it is me seeing through their eyes

4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind?

Usually if I have the radio on, it’s a talk station.

5. How long have you been writing?

I have written as soon as I knew letters could make words. Only recently published. I have reams of poetry, folders of haiku, A play script, several children’s stories that I illustrate myself. (Unpublished)

6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer.

It was a slow evolution that I knew I wanted to write and be published. Working as a nurse and having a family didn’t allow for much time writing. I think it was writing compositions and the professors’ encouragement that finally sealed it.

7. Do you have a muse?

Three muses so far. For Tommy Two Shoes Minerd it is his finicky deceased uncle Aidan Leclerc. For Mary Alice (Brandi) the P.I. it’s Mae West, and for Luigi Garibaldi, it’s Margo, the Shadow’s assistant. Guido isn’t actually a detective, but is a gambler in hiding from a casino owner and has clues dumped in his lap.

8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading)

I belong to three writer’s group, an organization to promote new writers (CAW), and I attend and read at salons.

9. Writing quirks or superstitions?

The only thing special is that I hand write my stories and do my first edit when I enter it into the computer. I can write faster than I can type and I don’t want to impede the flow of words and ideas.

10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress.

How many works do you want. I have probably 15 or more. Tommy is about to become a P.I. He figures if he’s solving mysteries, he needs paid. Brandi is investigating the spouse of a woman. She thinks that he is prostituting himself. I just entered a flash fiction contest where the entire story had to be 100 words or less.

11. What book are you reading now?

A book titled “What’s the Smallest Thing You Will Do Today.” By Dylene Cumraes.

12. What genre do you write in? What about PoV?Most of my writing is from the view of first person singular, but have been dabbling in third person for some.
13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines? )

I don’t have a specific outline. Just a general idea of a plot. Sometimes it’s based on a single phrase or sentence. Everything spills out of a disorganized, creative mind. The characters will often write the story themselves. I am often surprised how an insignificant detail will show up later and become very important.

14. Do you know how your stories will end?

I will have a general idea of an ending, but there are times when the character steps in and changes things.

15. Do you books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment?

The kids books, a specific message, poetry, message, haiku to share beauty, the cozy mysteries, entertainment.

16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing?

Unsweetened iced tea or Diet orange Crush. I eat anything that isn’t nailed down.

17. Tell us about your other passions.

My deceased wife Cindy. Gone 12 years in March. Ovarian cancer. my three kids, and my three granddaughters. Also reading Louis L’Amour books. He has the most fabulous turns of phrases.

18. What’s something interesting about you?

The way I became published was unusual. I would have remained in obscurity if by happenstance I hadn’t met a woman at one of my writer’s groups. She liked some of the stories that I had written, had decided to edit and to start a publishing company. She asked me if I had anything to publish. The rest is history. As an aside we have about 8 to 15 members and out of that number, five of us has had our writing published in the year that we started the group. (No they aren’t all under the same publisher.)

19. Share a small sample(limit to one paragraph, please) of your writing… can be a WIP or already published.

Her Beauty
She stepped onto the bus. Her tresses cascaded over her shoulders in shimmering chestnut waves. Her smile immediately filled the bus with sunshine. That smile seemed directed at me. With amazing grace, she dropped her money into the change box and sauntered down the aisle. She stopped.

“Is this seat taken?” she asked.

I glanced around. The bus was nearly empty and yet she chose the seat beside me.

“N-n-n-o-o,” I managed to stammer.

She slid into the seat. Her delicate scent filled my nostrils.

“I’m on my way home,” she shared, glancing over at me.

I felt a lump in my throat and couldn’t speak. She was so beautiful.

“My husband isn’t home at present,” she murmured and placed her slender hand on my thigh.

My breath caught in my throat. My brain began to spin as her heady perfume captivated me and her suggestion sank in.

She slid her hand up and down my thigh, stirring a feeling in my loins.

The bus hissed to a stop. Taking my hand, she led me down the aisle and off the bus. I held my newspaper in front of me to avoid embarrassment.

She closed and locked the apartment door behind her. Pulling me close, she whispered in my ear, “What do you want for supper, dear?”

“Whatever you want, but it’s my turn to pick you up on the bus tomorrow.”

20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?

A word of encouragement to all readers and would-be writers: May all of your romances be real, your mysteries, solvable, and your adventures be pleasurable. Thanks for your interest. If you should need anything, I am quite a character myself.

Thanks Tom! Good luck to you!
E&M

For Your Reading Pleasure…Charon Lloyd Roberts

Today we have Charon Lloyd-Roberts with us. Let’s see what being creative looks like for her…

1. Tell us about yourself. May include links.

My name’s Charon I work in the Digital medium.

As of May 2014 I’ve moved onto a different profession and am now writing a book series.

I’m self-taught in the Digital medium even though I only started painting seriously in 2013.

My Digital Art is a mix of Astronomy and the floral with a macabre twist.

My pages:
https://www.facebook.com/djlediperehodov
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Putsch-Trilogy/1450635768557884
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Schism-Putsch-Trilogy-Prequel/334115496770262?ref=profile
https://www.facebook.com/redskiesbrokencities
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Forthcoming-Trilogy/376786482474823
https://www.facebook.com/solatiumbook
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fracture-Trilogy/1465586520362140
https://www.facebook.com/Disquietude.Trilogy?ref=hl&ref_type=bookmark
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LediPerehodovArt
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CharonLRoberts
http://charonlloyd-roberts.deviantart.com
https://www.behance.net/CharonLloydRoberts
http://lediperehodovarts.tumblr.com
http://lediperehodovphotos.deviantart.com/
http://shadowness.com/CharonLRPhotos
https://www.behance.net/CharonLRobertsPhotos
http://lediperehodophotos.tumblr.com

2. How do you choose names for your characters?

I go for the weird obscure names and a majority of the names of my characters are just hard to pronounce anyway its fun.

3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real?

Yes I do I get carried about talking about especially if I’m discussing a scene in my book.

4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind?

It honestly depends on my mood, but sometimes I do

5. How long have you been writing?

Well back in Secondary school I got bored in my lessons so I used to write stories I recently got back into it back in May 2014.

6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer.

I changed my profession in May 2014 as I wasn’t getting much out of my Digital work I still do it mind you but not as often

7. Do you have a muse?

I’ve been inspired by James Dashner, Ally Carter, Suzanne Collins just to name a few.

8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading)
I read new books every month and I learn from them.

9. Writing quirks or superstitions?

Asking the staff at my local book store for bizarre subject matters for my book research.

10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress?

I’m in the process of working between the main book series and working on the timeframe between that and the prequel series.

11. What book are you reading now?

I’m swapping between a few books The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, The Eye of Minds & Timeriders.

12. What genre do you write in? What about PoV?

General fiction but I like to focus on fantasy mainly.

13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines?

It’s best described as “Organised chaos”. I can’t put it any better then that.

14. Do you know how your stories will end?

I have a rough idea for my current book series and its prequel.

15. Do you books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment?

Well during the current state of the government in the UK I’ve taken note of how messed up the system is. But I’ve added some comic-relief in my book for good measure.

16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing?

I only really eat if I’m drafting out rough ideas but that’s mostly in random public areas.

17. Tell us about your other passions?

I mostly draw traditionally, do digital paintings and have the odd photography session but I do enjoy the odd train commute twice a month.

18. What’s something interesting about you?

I don’t see myself as interesting at all I just have my head either stuck in a book or I draw things.

19. Share a small sample of your writing.

“The final contender for this years ISL Tournament is… Mitra Delmir!” I suddenly felt a gust of air a small camera was circling me I dropped the sachel in my hand and looked up my face was on the screen all the blood drained out of my face I looked pale my blood orange red hair blowing around my eyes purple eyes fixed on the screen I gasped to see myself my legs began to feel heavy. Again Governor Silmois showed her face on the screen “Congradulations to this years contenders you have five hours to sort yourselves out and you’ll soon be picked by escorts from the Presivida wall who will take you to Islette.” My back slumped agaist the wall I slid down to the ground the people around me where muttering I couldn’t make it out I felt Trielnois’ beak on my hand nudging me I remained still my body felt numb

20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?

I hope you enjoy what I have offer in the writing industry any support I get for my work is appreciated because I really use some right now.

Thanks, Charon. Great hearing from you.
E&M