#Interview & #Giveaway ~ Author, Sandra Block

Meet this amazing author, Sandra Block! She is giving away a copy of each of her books, which I will post my reviews for this weekend, when most of us are snowed in!!! So, join in the fun, and comment below!!!

Sandra BlockQ: When did you realize you were a novelist?

 I was a poet first. I remember writing on little scraps of paper around seven years old, describing the jet trail from a plane as “chalk across the sky.” My mom asked with some surprise, “you’re writing poetry?” I realized then, “oh, that’s what this is.” I guess I always knew I’d be some kind of writer. 

 

Q:  I see that you are a practicing Neurologist! Where do you find the time to do both jobs? How do you manage both careers?

It isn’t always easy, but it is doable. I usually write first thing in the morning, before anyone in the family is up. For years, I didn’t write because I was too tired after a full day of work, not to mention kids. Changing my routine to writing first thing in the morning made all the difference. 

Q:  Does your medical career help with your stories?

My medical career definitely colors my writing. Both Zoe books were based off memories of my neurology residency, a formative time for me. At this point, I subspecialize in sleep disorders and epilepsy, so I don’t really see some of the cool cases that pop up in my novels. But, I know enough psychiatry to fake it at least! 

Little Black LiesQ:  As you geared up for your Book Releases, what was the most exciting part(s) for you? 

For Little Black Lies, I was having a medical procedure done on my pub day  (everything turned out fine 🙂 ) so I was pretty much sedated. Not an ideal pub day. For The Girl Without a Name, my pub day was quite special – like a hundred birthdays. One of my fondest memories is an unlikely twitter exchange with Salmon Rushdie. It turns out his newest book came out the same day. In response to his simple tweet of “pub day,” I joked how I was sorry that his book would likely be overshadowed by my book, but “take heart, your day will come.” With utter grace, he retweeted: “Happy to stand in your shadow. Have a great pub day.” to his 1M (seriously, one million!) followers. I still smile thinking about that. 

Q:  How long did it take you to write each book? Releasing two books in one year is huge accomplishment!  

The Girl without a NameThank you! It took me about one year for each. I was writing The Girl Without a Name before I even sold Little Black Lies. When negotiation came around and they were willing to do a two-book deal, I just happened to have one all ready! It definitely taught me the lesson that no matter what happens: keep writing. 

Q:  Is there an author that you feel resonates with you and your writing style?

I would say Gillian Flynn and Meg Abbot for their colloquial, yet poetic style. 

Q: When do you typically write?  Where do you write?  Set this up for us

 I write whenever and wherever is my honest answer. As I mentioned above, I definitely put in a good forty-five minutes in the morning. But then I just grab time. I write on my iPad and take it everywhere. I might write while waiting for my daughter at school or my son at a swimming lesson for example. Even if it’s just half a page, it’s something. 

Q: May I ask who your favorite authors are?  Books?

I split my reading time between mystery/suspense and literary fiction. For literary, I would say Ann Tyler, Sue Miller, and Richard Ford. Oh, plus Louise Erdrich and Jennifer Egan. (I could go on and on.) For mystery/suspense, I love Henning Menkel, Charles Todd, Gillian Flynn, and Kate Atkinson. Plus Sara Gran. (I could go on and on.) 

Q:  What is your favorite part of being an author?

I would say the writing community. I belong to a group of women writers (shout out the Tall Poppies!) Some days writing is drudgery, some days it’s a joyful. The publishing side is also full of highs and lows. But writing friends are always there for you. That’s been a wonderfully unexpected side benefit. 

Q:  Lastly, Book or eBook??

Both, baby! Read, read, read, I don’t care how you it!

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#INTERVIEW & #GIVEAWAY ~ Gary Welch, Author of “The Magic Phone”

Comment below to enter our Giveaway. Gary is offering one lucky winner an autographed First Edition of his book, “The Magic Phone”.

This book is a great gift idea for your child reader, age 8-12.

Gary Welch 2Q:  When did you realize you were a novelist?

I began to realize that I may have the potential to be a novelist when I began to read my manuscript, to edit the story. I would read what I wrote and smile, because I thought that the story was coming together well, and I couldn’t believe that it was coming from me.  But, maybe it was when I wrote “The End”; that felt pretty good, and the thought entered my head.  However, it was when the book was printed and delivered to my house. I remember opening the box and pulling out the first book. My daughter Abigail was with me and when we saw the book, both of our jaws dropped and we got so excited. This is when I knew that I made it as a novelist.  

Annie: I can see your excitement, and I am excited to post my review HERE tomorrow.

Q:  Did you ever write fiction prior to this story, or did this story ignite your interest in writing?

Great question Annie!  I did not write fiction before this book. The only thing that I wrote prior was articles and a manual that was all related to physical therapy. The manual was used in my class for the doctorate students who were learning advanced techniques in manual and manipulative therapy.  The story of The Magic Phone started with my daughter, Abigail, telling me about her a dream that she had. I asked her what the dream was about?  She told me that in her dream, she got a phone. Well, I rolled my eyes because she was always asking about when I would buy her a cell phone.  She told me “No dad, the phone I had in the dream was magic”.  She went on about her dream and I was in awe about her story.  In the end, I thought that it was such a great idea, because it incorporated technology that kids love and it added a big splash of magic.  So, I took notes later that day, and about a month later, I began writing the first words in the book.  I had so many ideas in my head when I started, that I wrote almost five full chapters! 

Annie: Abigail needs to share more stories with you, as you are a great writer!

Q:  As you geared up for your Book Release of “The Magic Phone” on July 25th, 2015, what was the most exciting part(s) for you?

The thought that I had finally finished this project!!  That was pretty exciting. Although, I would say that the most exciting moment during this time was when someone wanted to buy a pre-first edition, and wanted me to sign it!! What? You want me to autograph the book? That was really cool. Nobody had ever asked for my signature before.  

Annie: Here is Gary at his release party, signing a book for his fan, Rachel!

Gary Welch with Rachel

Q:  Do you think you will always write for the 8-12 age group?

No, I don’t thinks so. As this story progresses, the main character will get older, along with her target audience.   

Q:  When do you typically write?  Where do you write?  Set this up for us…

I would write at night when the household would settle down, but I needed at least two hours of uninterrupted time or I wouldn’t even try to begin writing again. When you have a full time job, a part time job, a wife and kids it may be a few weeks before you have a chance to write something down, and when this happens, you have to remember where you left off or have to re-read some of the chapter to get back up to speed. Then, I would begin to write more of the story.  Let me tell you where I wrote the most, which was surprising to me. It was when we would go on a trip or when I would travel.  I could zone out the world around me and get entrenched into the story.  I remember when we would drive up to Maine; my wife would do the driving so that I could write.  Seriously, I would look up, amazed that eight hours went by so fast, and we were there already!!  I wrote most of this story on my Ipad and transferred it over to a Mac book pro towards the end of my writing.  

Q:  What is your favorite part of being an author?

Being immersed in the story while all of this creativity comes out of nowhere. Words filling the pages, forming a story that you hope people will enjoy. While writing this book, I felt like I was on this amazing journey with Abigail, wishing at times that I owned the magic phone, and what I would do with it, if it were mine! So, writing the story, the creative part coming together, and accomplishing your goal when the book is done. 

The Magic PhoneQ:  I see you have many jobs, so how did you find the time to write “The Magic Phone”?  How long did it take to write?

Ok, let summarize all the things I have been doing lately.  I own Spectrum Physical Therapy with my wife. I’m the manager at another PT facility at Brookhaven National Laboratory, and I’m an adjunct professor at Stony Brook school of Physical Therapy, and Touro College’s residency program in physical therapy.  I was actually asked this question quite a few times by my patients, and I remember telling them “I don’t know where I had the time” It was difficult at times. When you own a business, it is pretty much a 24/7 job, but I was motivated by the potential this story had and to continue on to see what would happen next. All in all, it took me 2 ½ years to finish writing and editing it to the best of my abilities.  

Annie: You are rather inspiring!!

Q:  When can we expect your next book?  Do you want to tell us a little bit about it?

I’ve started the next book, but I haven’t had a lot of time to dedicate to it yet; because, as an independent writer who self-published, I have spent a lot of time marketing this book. There’s a lot to do after you publish. My son Gary, helped me with creating the website, http://abbysmagicphone.com/ , I needed to start the facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/themagicphone,  which helps me reach out to fans.  I also started reaching out to libraries to schedule book readings and signings, and send the book out for reviews, etc…  I really hope to continue the second story real soon. Time permitting, the entire story will require three books. I know how the second and third books end too!!!  And the end of the third books ties into the first chapter of this book.  I can’t wait to accomplish this and I know everyone will like how the story progresses from a ten-year-old girl to a teenager and then to a young adult. Each story gets more intense, when Abigail learns how to become one with the phone.  

Q:  Any advice for someone that wants to write a book?

Yes, it takes a lot of work to get the book written, edited, illustrated, interior set, cover designed, formatted for eBook, uploaded, and then published! But the sense of accomplishment is awesome! Keep your chin up and persevere; there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Also, I encourage a new writer to forward their manuscript to literary agents and publishers. I didn’t have any luck with that route, and 99% of them didn’t even respond to my story. This was discouraging, and I didn’t want to self publish; but, in the end, self-publishing isn’t such a bad trade off.  Self publishing is flourishing these days with all of the new opportunities out there. You can set up an account at Amazon and the Itunes store for free. If self-publishing, I would recommend uploading your finished manuscript and cover to Ingram Sparks. Their printing services are second to none and they get your book out to well over 3,000 libraries and bookstores worldwide. In fact, two days later, the book was on the Barnes and Noble website. When I uploaded the eBook to Amazon, it only took five hours for the book to be available, and the hard cover and paperback from Ingram was carried over, and right next to the eBook at Amazon.  

Q: Lastly, Book or eBook??

Personally, I like the physical book, but you have to satisfy the market. Therefore, I would recommend both the book and eBook. Oh, and you can upload your manuscript in PDF and Ingram Sparks will convert it to an eBook format for a nominal fee. The cost to convert this book was around $120, where other companies were going to charge me four to five times that amount.

Annie: Thank you for all of this “inside” knowledge…You are definitely a force to be reckoned with.

 

#INTERVIEW & #GIVEAWAY ~ Get to know Vicki Abelson, author of “Don’t Jump”

Vicki AbelsonComment below for your chance to win a print copy of her book, “Don’t Jump” (US Only)

Q:  When did you realize you wanted to add author to your list of accomplishments?

On October 27th, 2015, when Don’t Jump was published and I became one.  Seriously, during all the years writing the book, I barely considered myself a writer, let alone an author. There’s something kind of weighty and serious about that title isn’t there?  

Don’t Jump began as a two-page rant. I showed it to my writer husband and he encouraged me to continue. When I’d written about twenty pages I committed to seeing it through, having no idea it would be a thirteen-year journey. 

I’d written a screenplay and some television treatments, one was even optioned, but, it wasn’t until I published my first column in The Huffington Post  that I called myself a writer without looking over my shoulder to see if the authenticity police were about to haul me in for fraud.  

Q:   I love your cover.  How hard was it to choose one? 

Thank you. I do, too. It exceeds my highest imaginings. I’d had a few ideas over the years and had brainstormed them with smart, creative people.   Vicki Abelsons Dont Jump

Over a lunch with publisher, Lawrence O’Flahavan, we discussed the book, and some of the ideas which had been bandied about. After about an hour, Larry picked up a pencil and a scrap of paper and started sketching. I have no idea how he came up with the traffic signal, but as soon as he did, it became the perfect focal point. He continued to add elements and allowed me a couple… but, the genius of it, is his.  

Q:   Can you tell me more about your Literary Salon, “Women Who Write”?    

My original intention was to transform the prose into a play.  That was my ultimate goal from the get-go. When I began working with editor David Tabatsky on the revision of the first draft, I was new to Los Angeles and had no idea how to get stage time to workshop the thing. David suggested I start my own group––invite others to read with me, and local mommies to listen. I knew a few respected writers, and well-known performers who wrote, and used that as my hook, whilst slipping in a chapter of mine each month. When, six months in, Carol Leifer asked if her friend, Academy Award Winner, Marlee Matlin, could come read, that was the game-changer.  With the help of introductions from friends, Facebook, and even Twitter, the readers and musicians who’ve read and performed for us rivals any talk show, and many of the women who attend are equally accomplished.  

Over the eight years we’ve morphed into a solid community of support, friendship and fun. We have writing workshops, I coach individually, and we have a Facebook group where all are encouraged to promote their work, ask for help, guidance, and support. We have 30-Day Writing Challenges and many of us are accountable on the site, daily.   

We support each other’s work and projects in the real world, collaborate, socialize and have become very much like family.  

First-timers are welcomed into the fold as if old friends, and, we’ve opened the door to some special men.  

Q:  As you geared up for your Book Release of “Don’t Jump”, what was the most exciting part(s) for you? 

A few months prior to publication I sent the manuscript out to people I respect and admire in hopes of gathering blurbs. Who the hell was I? I was the host, who wrote, they were the authors––accomplished celebrities.  I was more than a tad terrified. Within two days, responses started coming in––beyond my wildest dreams. I hoped the book would resonate… I had moments over the years where I believed it was worthy… and, more, where I doubted it. Not a negative word came back. The reactions were effusive… thrilling. The books were available for order on pre-sale. Inadvertently, Amazon jumped the gun and sent out about a bunch of books before the launch. The gift of the error was discovering that not only were people ordering the book, they were reading it… for the most part in a couple of days, and have continued to. It’s been an extraordinary validation.  

I had an amazing launch party, thanks to Annie and Jake Deptula (brother and sister producing partners), with incredible music from the Night Train Music Club and a stellar turn-out of amazing people. Selling and signing books for the first time was an absolute trip. Living the dream…  

Being a guest on radio shows and podcasts, answering questions rather than asking them has been a  “please pinch me so know this is real” continuing excitement.  

Q:  Does your character “Andi Stone” represent you or anyone you know?

Yes.  

Q:  Is there an author that you feel resonates with you and your writing style?  

There are many authors who resonate with me. I’m not sure my style compares to any of them, specifically, but I’ve surely been influenced by many I admire.

Stephen King’s On Writing is my bible. Which, I’m certain, I’ve desecrated more than once. He was my “ideal reader” as I wrote. Unbeknownst to him.  

Q: When do you typically write?  Where do you write?  Set this up for us… 

I committed to writing at least five minutes a day 3,928 days ago. I’m accountable to a very generous woman from my NY writers group who’s received my daily emails for the past almost eleven years.  

I’m at my computer all day and most of the night. Much of what I write most days I post on Facebook. It’s where I found my voice, and my audience. I hate the way that sounds. It’s a “grouptually” reciprocal arrangement.  

I write Morning Pages daily, whenever the spirit moves me, oft late night… I  take notes throughout the day/night for articles I’m working on, treatments I’m developing and the two books which loom ahead. My desk is in the kitchen… it’s open, has good light, and easy access to snacks. When I get serious, am ready to hammer out a final draft, I write with my computer on my lap, in bed. And I don’t get up, till I’m done.  

Q:  May I ask who your favorite authors are?  Books?

Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar transformed me. I adore Dostoyevsky, especially, The Brother’s Karamazov, Augusten Burroughs Dry and Running With Scissors, David Sedaris’ Naked, Stephen King’s The Shinning was one of my favorite books, ever, as was all of his work before it and what followed for many years after. I read a load of Jonathan and Faye Kellerman and love them both. James Clavell’s  Shogun and Tai-Pan have stayed with me, Love Erica Jong, John Grisham, and ate up bestsellers prior to starting Women Who Write, when memoir became my focus.  Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies had profound effect on me as has Marianne Williamson’s Return to Love and Illuminata 

Q:  Can we expect another book? If so, do you want to tell us a little bit about it? 

I have two books I’ve been unofficially writing in spurts.  It was essential to me for Don’t Jump to publish before I turned serious attention to them. One is my misadventures as a sober, single, now, sixty year old woman. WHAT?!? That’s just crazy to me. The other is how I went from being a housewife and mother to creating and hosting a renowned literary salon in less than a year… thanks to the Facebook.  How Facebook has transformed my life in every way. How it can be used for good. Lord knows I abuse it, too.   

I also have a compilation book I attempted to do outreach on last winter. I had zero credibility as an author and got little response from the lofty list I pursued. Perhaps on next attempt I’ll fair better.  

Q:  Lastly, Book or eBook?? 

I’m new school with just about everything. Books… I want to hold in my hand. With a cover, pages and a bookmark. 

I read one book on my computer and iPhone Kindle. It was fun. I read at red lights, on line at the grocery store, everywhere. I get it. I may try another. I’m mostly iTune’ing these days… so, who knows .

 

#INTERVIEW & #GIVEAWAY ~ Award Winning Author, Bette Lee Crosby answers a few questions, and she is offering an eBook copy of “The Memory House” to one lucky winner!! You must enter, this is one of my favorite stories!

For a chance to win an eCopy of “The Memory House”, please leave a comment below.  Winner to be announced on Monday, September 14th, 2015, after 5pm. 

I can honestly say that most of my friends and family will ADORE this book, and get on board with all of Bette Lee Crosby’s writing after reading this! She is stunning!

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DIRECTLY FROM THE DESK OF BETTE LEE CROSBY!!  AN INSIDERS LOOK!!

Q:  When did you realize you were a novelist?

About a year after I finished 4 years of college studying to be an artist. Haha. I started out as a packaging designer and when one of the salesmen asked me to make up some copy to fill the empty space on the back of a pantyhose package I got hooked on words. It is a form of painting – but instead of a brush you use letters.

red brushstroke

Annie: This explains why your writing is so “fluid”, like a brushstroke.  I love getting to ask these questions.  I learn so much about the author, and it explains a lot.

Q:  With “The Loft” being released on September 15th, 2015, have you started your next big story?

I am getting very close to completing Book 3 in the Memory House Series – which will be called “Flawed Memories” – and I must say I am loving this series. It is sort of a mix of mystery, magic and a bit of romance. A bit different than some of my other books – more contemporary and with a magical realism sort of twist.

Annie:  So excited for your next book! I was drawn in by “The Memory House”, I need to catch up! As a book reviewer, it is hard to find the time to read all of the books that you want to…but, I have purchase ALL of your books, and plan to read them while on vacation next month.  I get a lot of books in exchange for an honest review, but I have to say that I just had to have your books in my library!!!!

Q:  As you gear up for a Book Release, what is the most exciting part(s) for you?

By far it is hearing the comments from early readers and reviewers.  I spend all this time writing a book and worry right up to the very last minute of release day wondering whether or not readers will like it. When someone writes to me and says something like “I fell in love with this look, Annie is so like me…etc.” My heart melts. Reader acceptance, this is what it is all about. When readers enjoy my books, I do a happy dance.Happy Dance

Annie:  I did a happy dance too! As a reviewer, it is always great to read a book that you love, and I surely devoured yours!    My tagline is “Devour Books”, so that is awesome!!

Here is a Link to my review of “The Memory House” THE GIVEAWAY BOOK:

https://thewritereview.com/2015/06/02/may-book-club-choice-memory-house-by-bette-lee-crosby/

 

Q:  I always enjoy your book covers, especially the one for your new book!  Are they hard to choose, design? The Loft

Some are very difficult, some are easier. The key is finding the right image to portray what you want people to see in the story. It is always a bit more difficult when you have a story set in the 1940’s or 50’s because a lot of the images are too contemporary for that time frame.  I was extremely pleased with the job the designer did on Passing through Perfect.  That cover is perfect for the story and it was one of the first ones he did.  However on The Loft, the final cover was the 12th design submitted.  Having come from an art background I am probably way too nit-picky, but I want my readers to feel the same magic I feel when I finally see the right cover.

Annie: I love a great cover, and you certainly offer several!  I love looking at your authors page on Amazon and Goodreads.

 

Q: When do you typically write?  Where do you write? Set the scene for us….

I am by nature a night owl, but the funny thing is my best writing time is in the early part of the day. That is mostly because I think about my story before I go to sleep, often include it in my dreams and wake up anxious to get back to it.  I try not to get online until late afternoon because once I start that, I go back to being me and lose the personality of the character I am writing about. I have an office in the front of our house. It is a very serene spot that looks out onto the lawn and a HUGE oak tree. My office has double doors and when they are closed hubby knows not to disturb me.  My writing buddy is Sugar. She sits in my lap a good part of the day and when she isn’t in my lap she is under my desk. Her toy basket is in my office and if she gets bored, she rummages through the basket and hauls out a toy for me to throw. We play for five minutes, then it is back to work.

Annie: Sounds like me with my dog, Simon!! Aren’t they the best!  He is always with me when I read and write the reviews.



HERE IS BETTE WITH HER DOG, SUGAR!

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Q:  May I ask who your favorite authors are?  Or, Books?

Favorite books more than authors, and my taste is somewhat eclectic. To kill a Mockingbird is one of my all time favorites; s fairly new favorite is The Night Circus and an even more recent favorite is The Nightingale. All of these are very different. I loved Mockingbird for the strength and authenticity of the characters, I loved Night Circus for the beauty of its prose and I loved The Nightingale for the way it captured the heartache of a war-torn country.

Annie:  Ok, Now I know I must check out Nightingale, are you speaking of the book by Kristin Hannah? I have heard great things about this book! 

Let me add, “You are one of my favorite authors, Bette Lee Crosby!” I can see how you have earned so many awards and being on best sellers lists!

I am lucky to know you!  You are not only a great author, but a wonderful person!

Lastly, Book or eBook?

E-books. I love the instant gratification of hearing someone talk about a great book or seeing it online and then having it in my hot little hands in less than a minute. Also, as an author I am very appreciative of the fact that e-readers enable me to offer my books to readers for far less than I would pay if I had to pay for paper, printing, storage, and distribution. Is it sad to see less print books in circulation? Yes, perhaps it is, but I believe the good far outweighs the bad.

Annie: Great take on this.  I love having the book in hand and being able to share the book with others.  But, while traveling, eBooks are certainly wonderful.

Thank you for taking the time to let me interview you…My mission is to inspire others to read, and your books are definitely inspiring!  I love spreading the word!!

To purchase Bette Lee Crosby Books, please go here:

http://www.amazon.com/Bette-Lee-Crosby/e/B005TLT1PK/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1441912463&sr=1-2-ent

“Up to I Do” By Samantha March

Up to I DoCalling all Chick Lit Lovers!! This is the perfect book for you!! Bridezilla at its finest! Pretty names and prettier people! Fashion, Fun, Fights…this book has it all. A true women’s story!

It is hard not to enjoy this romp through a year of planning the most elaborate wedding that this small New Hampshire town has ever seen. The Van Guilder/Sinclair/Worthington wedding has to be big, and it has to be picture perfect. One good enough to be on television!

Samantha March hits the nail on the head with the story of Emerson planning her big day, and all the things that can go wrong….or, right. This is a year of self-discovery for the Bride-to-be, and it is a very endearing read. No stone goes unturned regarding all of Emerson’s relationships. Emerson’s relationship with her Grandmother was so touching, that you felt their love so strongly throughout the book. That really touched a place in my heart. It was just beautiful.

In trying to create this perfect wedding, Emerson seems to be losing a bit of her true self….and begs the question…Is it really worth all of this fuss?

I highly recommend that you check this book out, and find out if Emerson comes out of her wedding preparations a happily married Mrs. Logan Worthington?

4 Stars.

#GIVEAWAY & #INTERVIEW: Margaret Locke, author of “A Man of Character”

COMMENT BELOW FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A SIGNED COPY OF HER BOOK!!!

You will adore Margaret, this interview was alot of fun!!  I am reading her book, “A Man of Character” right now…and looking forward to getting back to it with my cup of coffee!!

MargaretLocke

Q:  When did you realize you were a novelist?

Wait. I’m a novelist? Bwah ha ha!
I’m not sure when the transition from “I’m giving this a go” to “I think I’m actually a writer” fully happened. The main turning point was probably when I typed “The End” on that first draft of A Man of Character, way back on December 31st, 2012.
Sure, I was still naïve enough not to realize how far from The End that first draft’s “The End” actually was, but I had also accomplished something I wasn’t positive I could do, and that was write a complete romance, with a beginning, middle, and end.
As to calling myself an author? That came the day my book released; no more was I a writer striving for publication—I was a published author, baby!

 Q:  As you geared up for your Book Release on May 26th, 2015, what was the most exciting part(s) for you?

Hands down, the day my physical proof copy showed up in the mail. I ripped the package open, and there it was—my book. MY book, with my name (okay, pen name) on my cover, and all the words in between that little old me had written.
I was so excited that I ran right out the front door and halfway down the street to show my husband and daughter (they were chatting with a friend). And I. Don’t. Run.
A close second was watching the pre-orders tick up. Sure, they were probably all from friends and family, but who cares? Knowing thirty people were willing to take a chance on my book before it even hit the (virtual) shelves? That was thrilling!

Q:  Will you always write romance with a bit of whimsy?  Is that your favorite topic to explore?

Whimsy. What a wonderful word. And, gosh, I sure hope so. I absolutely adore romances with witty interplay between hero and heroine, that back-and-forth dance of verbal seduction, and hope to someday be half as good as Julia Quinn at writing that kind of prose. I also love romances that don’t take themselves too seriously, that can have fun in the middle of all the chaos and heartache, that can poke fun at themselves (like Eloisa James’ recent Four Nights With the Duke). That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a good, heavy, angst-ridden read—I do (think Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm). But books with that magical balance of humor and emotion always hook me. Please let me live up to that wonderful descriptor for my writing—I would most definitely love to be known for writing whimsical romance.

Q:  Did you know someone like “Cat”? 

True answer? Yes. Very, very well. Cat is me. And Eliza is me. Hey, they say write what you know, and especially for my first book, it was very easy to tap into the person I both know the best and often understand the least: myself.
Cat is the Eeyorish side of me, the side that falls down into pessimism, that worries, that struggles to believe good is a comin’.
Eliza is me on chocolate. Okay, rather, she’s the Tiggerish side of me, the side that is optimistic, that believes in true love and happily ever afters, that cracks sarcastic comments and consumes entirely too much cheesecake, and is basically a goofball.
Of course, as I was writing, each character took on a life of their own, so by the end, are Cat and Eliza truly me? Yes and no. There are elements there, similarities, but no, now they are definitely their own people. I think.

Q:  Is there an author that you feel resonates with you and your writing style?

Well, the authors I most want to emulate are what I call my Regency Triumvirate: Julia Quinn, Sabrina Jeffries, and Eloisa James. Of course, now Sarah MacLean, Erin Knightley, and Tessa Dare are nosing their way in there, so it’s more like a Regency Sexumvirate. Uh, is that a word? If not, it should be. And it sounds, ahem, perfect for describing romance writers, doesn’t it?
However, my first book is not the Regency historical I always thought I’d write. No, of course not. The first one is a lightly paranormal contemporary romantic comedy, because the book’s premise (what if a woman discovers the men she’s dating are characters she created long ago?) hit me over the head and wouldn’t let go.
Given that I don’t read a lot of lightly paranormal contemporary romantic comedy, it’s hard for me to know if I sound like anyone else, although a recent reviewer said my writing reminded her of Cecilia Ahearn. (I promptly picked up a number of Ms. Ahern’s books and added them to my Leaning Tower of To-Be-Read Books, but haven’t gotten to them yet.) I can only assume someone saying I reminded them of a popular writer who’s had books made into movies is a good thing, right?

Q: When do you typically write?  Where do you write?  Set this up for us…

Oh, wouldn’t it be lovely if I could tell you I adhere to a regular daily schedule? Wouldn’t it be lovely if I did? Most of the time, my primary writing time is the morning, and, ideally, you’ll find me down in my Writing Cave (desk in the one room in the basement that has no windows, so yes, literally a cave), typing away. Or, I admit, checking Facebook and Twitter far too often, and then maybe typing away.
Occasionally, when I can’t go another hour without sunlight somewhere in my vicinity, I settle into the big, falling-apart armchair in my living room, and type, type, type away there.
Sometimes I break it up by heading out to Panera, to type among people—being social while isolating myself, as it were …

Q:  May I ask who your favorite authors are?  Books?

I have a zillion. I listed six above, who are all Regency authors. In the ‘80s, when I first fell for romance, I couldn’t get enough of LaVyrle Spencer, Johanna Lindsey, Catherine Coulter, Susan Johnson, Pamela Morsi. I fell in love with Lisa Kleypas, Jane Feather, Betina Krahn, and many more.
Then I <cough cough> went on a romance hiatus for about five or so years. I had small children, but also, some silly part of me felt like now that I was married and a mom, I ought to give up the romance. Luckily, stumbling across Julia Quinn’s “The Duke and I” cured me of that dumb notion, and launched me into a love affair with a bevy of new-to-me authors, like the Sexumverate above, and new names I discover all the time.
I just wish I had more time to read. Scratch that: I wish I took more time to read—writing has definitely sucked away a lot of my free time, but I must admit, if I stepped away from the computer, if I gave up my evening habit of delving into a BBC show episode or two, I’d get more reading done. I do, however, read for at least 5-10 minutes every day. It just needs to be more.
As for specific books? I did blog about my 5 favorites once (http://margaretlocke.com/what-are-your-top-five-favorite-romance-novels-of-all-time/), but I’m sure I could add more to the list. I tend to fall in love with authors more than specific books, but the one book I refused to give up when on that idiotic self-imposed romance hiatus was Lynn Kurland’s Stardust of Yesterday.

Q:  What is your favorite part of being an author?

On the practical side, I love that I get to do something that fits in with my family’s schedule and needs. I’ve been at home with my kids since they were born. Now that they’re older (9 and 14), they’re much more independent, but it’s still much easier to have me available (for taxi service, meal prep, deep philosophical discussions) than not.
Oh, also on the practical side? I love that bras and showers are sometimes optional.
On the emotional side, first and foremost, I love the fact that I followed through on a dream I’d had since I was a teen. I love the ecstasy of the first draft, of amusing myself with something I’ve written, of watching characters and scenes and story come alive.
And second, I love the people that writing has brought into my life. Writing, by nature, is a solitary activity, perfect for the introverted half of me. But the extroverted half craves interaction and connection, and I cannot believe how much my life has changed for the better now that I’ve added so many writing-related friends to my life. Whether in person or online, whether talking to writers or readers, it’s been such a blessing to me to surround myself and be surrounded by people who love what I love. Can a girl get any luckier than that?

Q:  When can we expect your next book?  Do you want to tell us a little bit about it?

A Matter of Time is set for a fall debut, although I don’t have the date narrowed down just yet; I’m waiting to see what my editor says about the draft I sent her this afternoon.
In it, A Man of Character’s best friend/sidekick extraordinaire Eliza James gets her own shot at finding her happily ever after – in England. With a Duke. In 1812.
It’s long been Eliza’s fantasy to live out a love story worthy of the Regency romances she loves to read. Every girl deserves her own Darcy, right?
Only what happens when the Duke in question turns out to be less than Prince Charming?

Lastly, Book or eBook??

There’s room for both. I admit, I love a physical book. That’s one of the key reasons I turned down the digital press that offered to publish A Man of Character: I couldn’t imagine not holding this book in my hands.
However, I, who once swore she’d never get into reading online (the eye strain, people!), now happily own far more Kindle titles than I ought, and I enjoy reading them on my iPad’s Kindle app.
I do worry that digital reading makes books feel more disposable and less valuable (especially since their price points are often so low).
And hey, you just can’t beat snuggling in bed with a good book propped open over your face, and a cat sitting at your side, right? Still, let’s not make it book versus ebook; let’s make it book plus ebook. The more, the merrier, baby.

Thank you so much for letting me blather on here on your blog, and for reviewing A Man of Character! I’ve had a blast!

Interview with Samantha March, author of 4 novels, including the newly released “Up to I Do”

marchsamantha

Q:  When did you realize you were a novelist?

When I was about 9. Seriously. I have it written down in my childhood memory books that when I grow up, I want to be an author J 

Q:  As you gear up for a Book Release, what is the most exciting part(s) for you?

The most exciting part is probably seeing the reviews and feedback. It’s also the most nerve-racking part! But it’s so fun to see how readers connect with the characters.  

Q:  I love all of your covers.  Are they hard to choose, design?

Kind of! It’s hard because you want it to be perfect and reflect the book and the story the best you can. My latest novel features a personal wedding photo of mine, which was an idea I had when the book was first being plotted. I love how it turned out! 

Q:  Will you always write about strong female bonds?  Is that your favorite topic to explore?

It really is my favorite topic to explore. It’s utterly fascinating to me, and I really think it will be a big focal point in my future novels. That and love…because who doesn’t love love J 

Q:  You have just released your 4th novel, have you started your next big story?

I have! Book 5 has been plotted since early this year and I have a few scenes written so far! 

Q:  Is there an author that you feel resonates with you and your writing style?  

I really think Emily Giffin, and she is the author that really pushed me into finally start writing after I read Something Borrowed. I love the topics she explores in her books, in particular Something Borrowed and Something Blue. 

Q: When do you typically write?  Where do you write? Set the scene for us….

I have an office in my house with a nice big desk…and a chair that I share each morning with my Vizsla puppy! Typically I write in the morning, before I let the stress of my to-do list really start to bother me! I have a word count goal each day that I achieve that helps keep me on track! 

Q:  May I ask who your favorite authors are?  Books?

Emily Giffin, Sarah Pekkanen, Jen Lancaster and Sophie Kinsella!  

Lastly, Book or eBook?

eBooks solely because of my job as a book reviewer – it makes my schedule much easier!

#GIVEAWAY ~ Interview with Wanda Wyont, author of “Barkley’s Great Escape”!

Wanda WyontCOMMENT BELOW TO BE ENTERED INTO THE GIVEAWAY!

  1. When did you know you wanted to write a children’s book?

Annie, I have always been a storyteller. From the time I was a young girl, I wrote short stories. I use to say that I wanted to be an author. But with the demands of family and career, my dreams got put on the back burner. As a former college instructor, I taught Children’s Literature many times. During a class, I mentioned my own dreams of becoming a published author. One of my students challenged me to get my story published. I took her advice. A short time later my first book, Sunbeam, became a reality and it helped me get my second book published.

I knew that I needed to write Barkley’s Great Escape, after my daughter’s dog got into a neighbor’s swimming pool and nearly drowned. (The book is based on a true story). As a former early childhood instructor, I was aware of the high numbers of drownings among children. While I think the book is fun and entertaining, the message of water safety is not lost on the reader. For many young pre-readers, an adult will be reading the book. Hopefully, parents and teachers will use Barkley’s Great Escape as a tool to expand conversations about water safety. I shared the book recently with a group from the YMCA. The director told me that the story was right on target. It pleased me to hear that.

  • Are you planning any other books?

Yes. I have my third manuscript written. It is about several animals with special needs. As they adjust to their handicap, they discover rewarding jobs for their lives. The message in this book is for all children to recognize that a special need should not limit them from their goals.

I will submit the manuscript after my publicity period has slowed down for Barkley’s Great Escape. In addition to book signings, I am currently visiting libraries, colleges, schools, and child care centers. I have a presentation on the writing process that I share with elementary schools.

  • If yes, will they all involve a “safety lesson?”

I hope that all of my books have multiple lessons including safety. But, my third book will focus more on overcoming hardships. It is a positive story that I think children, parents, and teachers will like. One commonality of all of my books is that the leading characters are animals. I love animals and I think we can learn from them. Also, children identify with animals. They are uninhibited around animals. Recently, I was sharing Barkley’s Great Escape, at an elementary school. A second grader jumped up and announced that he had kissed his dog on the nose, too. I loved his spontaneity and the fact that he related to one of the characters.

  • What is your favorite children’s book, other than the one you wrote?

I love many children’s book. For young children, I like to read Mother Goose books. The rhyming words build phonetic skills. ABC books are important for young readers as long as the objects make sense. In other words, I like to see a picture of a rabbit to represent the letter “R” instead of using a picture of a rabbit to represent an “H” for hare. An adult should examine the ABC closely to make sure that the pictures coincide with the letter.

One of my favorite books is Miss Fannie’s Hats by Jan Karon. It is a great book and one that I love to share with a large group of children. It has a spiritual lesson about giving. I collect hats and this book provides a perfect opportunity for me to use my collection of hats. I take hats on and off throughout the story. This story gets the audience engaged!

  • Were you inspired by anything in particular?

In the case of Barkley’s Great Escape, I was inspired by Barkley to write about his experience. I felt compelled to write about water safety. I was hopeful that the adult readers would be reminded to keep gates locked and to be vigilant about other bodies of water. I use the opportunity to talk with groups of children about being safe around water.

After retiring from my position at Gaston College, I knew that I had the time to pursue my love of writing. My biggest inspiration was my grandfather. He lived to be 107 years old. He was driving his tractor and planting a garden at age 100. He visited the nursing homes in his area and shared stories. It never occurred to him that he was probably older than the residents. At age 65, I now have the time to write. I am inspired everyday by animals and people. I hope that I’m writing at 85.

  • How long did it take to write this story?

From the time I began writing until I was ready to send a proposal to the publisher, it took around three months. I write stories without regard to grammar or punctuation. After I get my thoughts down, I began the arduous task of cleaning-up and editing my writing. Once the manuscript meets my approval, it is time to share it with others. I like for others to read it for word flow and to begin looking for any errors. I read it to groups of children. I share it with librarians for their opinions. I make adjustments during this time based on other’s feedback.

One of the last individuals that looked over the story was a college English Instructor. She went through it looking for any errors..

There were some suggestions that I did not heed. For example, I have a few challenging words in my book. Several manuscript readers mentioned replacing the words with easier text. But, I don’t agree with the view. It is important for children to stretch their vocabulary. I would expect the adult reader to point out the words and clarify the meaning. As I read the story, I stop and say what you suppose the word “miffed” means? The children usually answer me correctly.

  • When and where do you do most of your writing?

With my laptop, I can be mobile. It is a luxury knowing you can work anywhere. I do have an office that provides a quiet space. I wrote Barkley’s Great Escape at my desk. However, the manuscript that I am working on now has required some research. I’ve visited several equine therapy facilities. I asked questions and take some pictures. Friends have invited me to stay overnight at their equine ranch in their bunkhouse. Hopefully, I can capture the feel of the environment as I add the finishing touches to the story.

It has been a pleasure responding to these questions. I hope that your readers will visit me on my website at www.wandawyont.com. I would love to hear from them. My book is available on my website BarkleysCompany, Amazon, and BarnesandNoble. (I will be glad to sign and inscribe a name for book orders coming from Barkley’s Company.)

Barkleys great escape

Interview with Theresa Rizzo: Best-selling, award winning author that I had the pleasure to chat with!

the lives between us Theresa Rizzo

I connected with Theresa Rizzo, author of “The Lives Between Us”, and several other astounding novels.  She is simply amazing!  I know I need to read ALL of her books now.

Since this time, I have had the pleasure of reading her book, interview her and we will be doing an eBook GIVEAWAY of this book on Monday, July 13th, 2015.

As I work on the review, (You know I have a hard time when I really love a book)…Here is the amazing interview:

Q: When did you realize you were a novelist?
A: I always enjoyed creative writing. But when we had children, I wrote about them and    their escapades in my annual Christmas letter, and friends and family got such a kick out of my stories, I thought it was cool I could entertain them that way.

Q: Will all of your stories be hot topics, like in “The Lives Between Us”?:
A: Not all, but most. I like writing about things that fascinate me, but my stories always have a romance, because that’s what I enjoy. Love is the glue that holds relationships together.

My debut book, He Belongs to Me is a child custody battle story between parents and grandparents, Just Destiny revolves around a woman who fights for the right to have her dead husband’s baby. Just Beginning: The Prequel to Just Destiny is a straight romance requested by Just Destiny fans.

My next book, The Sound of Silence is a romantic suspense, but it also explores the disparity between the ultra-wealthy of Grosse Pointe and the poor/struggling neighbors next door in Detroit, right before Detroit declared bankruptcy.

Q: Do you find yourself compared to Jodi Picoult?
A: My books have been compared to Jodi Picoult’s. I think my writing style is less literary than hers, and I pretty much need to have a happy ending with my stories, and I’m not sure I would say Jodi’s books all have happy endings, but they do explore current issues and moral dilemmas.

Q: When do you typically write?  Where do you write?
A: I’m a binge writer, and I write in the mornings, afternoons or evenings or all three—or none. I write a bunch for many months on end to get a draft down, and then let it sit for a couple of weeks before going through numerous revisions.

I write all over my house. In my study, at my desk over my treadmill while I get my 10,000 daily steps in, on my family room couch, in my bedroom… pretty much wherever I feel like it. Not outside much… too many distractions.

Q: Then, I asked the “dangerous” question, that she was so kind to answer!  May I ask who your favorite authors are?
A: Oh, you ARE trying to get me into trouble aren’t you? There are so many, well, I can’t even name them all, but a few that come to mind are: Lisa Kleypas, Susan Collins—the Hunger Game series was pretty spectacular—Harlan Coban, Christine Feehan, Susan Wiggs and Jodi Picoult.

I would like to thank Theresa Rizzo for taking the time to answer these questions!  I am truly honored, and it was fun doing my very first interview with an author!