Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I don’t think there’s anything I hate more than talking about myself, so I’ll try to make this as painless as I possibly can. I’m Luke Ganje and I’ve been writing seriously for over a decade, not just because I love to do it but also because a writer is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to be. It wouldn’t be any great exaggeration or burst of dramatic flair to say that I have no interest in a life that doesn’t include telling stories. It is, in a sense, everything I am. As such, I’ve written five novels (seven if you count the two I’m not proud of), somewhere in the neighborhood of seventy short stories, and hundreds of poems, and they range in tone and genre from absurdist humor to horror to contemplative fiction. Someone asked me once what I want out of this, what the goal of my artistic pursuit was, and to be honest the answer was simple enough: In time this life will end and in the blink of an eye who we’ve been and what we’ve done will be lost to an inevitable decay. I write because, while I’m here, I want to experience this life just a little bit more and feel and understand things I might have otherwise missed.
How do you make time to write?
For me, it’s all about routine and dedication. I set aside two hours a night to work and no matter how trivial the project of the day, I fill that time. I no longer work a day job on Fridays, having set aside that day for a sort of mini marathon in which I can make significant headway in whatever novel happens to be my primary focus, and that’s been a joy to experience. In those moments I almost feel like the full-time writer I aspire to be, whether it’s a self-constructed illusion or not. The time to write, to pursue what you love, is always there. Sacrifices simply need to be made or else that pursuit and the work that stems from it will only ever wind up being hollow, empty, and dead.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you?
My process in this regard has changed over the years. When I first started, I spent a great deal of time wandering down the unmarked roads of exploratory writing but as the years go by and my attention span and memory continue to falter and fade, I find myself having to outline a little more each time. These days I tend to write all my dialogue in a notebook, filling pages as if I’m script-writing, and then rewrite the entire thing as a finished and detailed experience on my laptop. It works well enough and tends to give my dialogue a lived-in edge that I prefer, so I’ll continue down that path until I have to tinker with my process again for the sake of clarity and not driving myself completely insane.
What are you working on at the minute?
Frustratingly enough, I’m torn between two projects that both demand my full attention and yet I haven’t quite decided which one to focus on. I don’t mean to treat trivially the perils of wartime, but I’m almost positive this is precisely how Meryl Streep felt in Sophie’s Choice. As it stands, I’m splitting my time between my first ever horror novel and a more quiet and contemplative piece of magical realism. The former will be bitter, vicious, and unforgiving. The latter is a character piece about a young man whose life begins to fall apart because he continually sees one small thing no one else can, and believes without a shadow of a doubt that it is real. Both deal with family, loss, and our uncomfortable relationship with mortality, but neither is the clear front-runner and so I’m a bit adrift at the moment. I keep trying to reach out to Mrs. Streep for advice, but sadly she won’t return my calls.
I’m almost afraid to ask, where do your ideas come from?
I suppose it would be abhorrently trite to simply tap the side of my head, doubly so seeing as how this isn’t that kind of visual medium. Nevertheless, this is something that I think about a lot. Sometimes you write things that push you to places you don’t want to go and yet you have to for the sake of the story, so in that sense a French term comes to mind: l’appel du vide. The Call of the Void.Known also as “High Place Phenomenon”, it’s the little trigger in your mind that kicks in when you’re standing on a ledge and tells you to jump, or while you’re driving down the highway and you suddenly have the urge to whip the steering wheel into oncoming traffic. It’s an ordinary part of the human experience and something I’ve felt in waves my entire life, heightened as it is by anxiety (of which I have plenty), so it weaves almost constantly in and out of the stories I tell. Complicating things is the manner in which I tend to process even the most mundane aspects of everyday life, where everything shows as infinite spirals in which I find myself reliving conversations dozens of times right after they happen, following them down rabbit holes until I find myself having visceral emotional reactions to things that never happened and words that were never said. That’s probably where my stories travel from, I suppose. Out of the void and along an incessantly spiraling road.
Do you ever get Writer’s Block?
Put simply, no. I view writing not just as my passion but also as work, as a job, and the funny thing about work is that responsibilities don’t just magically go away if you’re not feeling it. So I’ve had bad days where the words don’t flow quite like they should and there are definitely days where I haven’t managed to write much of anything at all, but it’s never been a lingering thing in the form of that towering “Writer’s Block” wall. Doing what you love is hard work and I’ve never once found that it gets any easier by avoiding thought obstacles that inevitably pop up along the way.
It looks like you independently published “It Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time”. What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
Put simply, I have a hate-hate relationship with self-publishing. It’s not something I ever really saw myself doing as I tend to see life as overcoming obstacles and there’s little about the process that I see as anything more than an end-run around the publishing world’s absurd hurdles. It’s like running a marathon and then taking a taxi from mile three to mile twenty-five, expecting the same accolades when you cross the finish line as those who’ve traveled the road of the established process. So that’s my annoyed sense of the disadvantage. There’s a stigma around the whole affair and, while there will always be exceptions, the framework of stigmas exists for a reason. Then again, there’s a fairly sizable advantage as well and one that made me put all my annoyance and irritation into my anthology that was released in August: It takes away the chance of you dying before any of your creations are unleashed on the world, and that was always an odd little fear of mine. So it’s not how I saw things going and to be honest I’m unsure whether or not I’ll self-publish anything again; there might be another anthology but my novels are reserved for the traditional road I will always pursue. That being said, it was a nice experience and for the most part it was undertaken so that all the people who’ve supported me over the years could have a memento of my time here sitting comfortably on their bookshelves. In a way, I couldn’t ask for anything more.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
I have two actually, which would make me the world’s worst version of Superman. It’s basically a two horse race in which both the horses have to be euthanized because they’re rabid and ate a jockey. But I digress. The first is that I will always possess a crippling self-doubt when it comes to my work, to such an extent that (with one exception) I’ve never finished anything without feeling like it’s the worst thing ever committed to printed page by a functioning adult. That may sound like an exaggeration but it’s not. As much as I’m driven by the love of the written word, I’m just as driven by the creeping sense that I’ll never write anything of note and anyone who’s said differently has been lying for the sake of some strange social etiquette I don’t understand. As you can imagine, this makes me a joy at parties. The second piece of Kryptonite is at least functionally more problematic and can be found in the slow but inevitable decline of my memory. It’s frightfully true that, no matter what I write on a given day, I will not remember what it was by the time I sit down again twenty-four hours later. Characters, plots, names, descriptions…they vanish as soon as I close my eyes, and so every day when I sit down at my desk, my process begins with an hour spent re-reading all that I wrote the previous night and hoping I still know where I’m going. It’s scary, in a way. What a terrifying thing to forget the friends I’ve made.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
My work is most prominently displayed on my website www.keywordnovelist.com and that’s where you can find a lot of my short stories and poetry. There’s also a blog, because blogs go with writers about as reliably as pumpkin spice lattes flock to their own comically specific demographic. There’s some good stuff on there and, if all you know of me is the absurdist comedy found in my anthology release, it’ll be sure to raise some eyebrows. I can also be found on Twitter and Instagram under that very same moniker: Keywordnovelist.
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
Certainly. This snippet is taken from the story that leads off my catastrophically absurd debut, “It Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time.” Author’s Note: It only gets weirder from here.
“Hello? Hello? How’s the reception up there?”
Artemartedoxtorix, called Art by his friends, squinted at the blood in the sand as it rolled like the weeping tides of humanity and also heavy cream. It danced with static before it eventually flared to life when the sound of screaming filtered through. Art looked around but no one was really paying attention. He covered his blood screen anyway because he wasn’t the type to make a scene if he could help it. Some jobs you just don’t want to draw attention to yourself while performing and his hallowed position of receptionist was one of those jobs.
“Art? Is this Art? I was told to call Art,” screamed the voice from the other end of the line.
“What? Well yeah of course it’s me. Is this…” he looked at his sheet of paper. “I’m sorry, I can’t pronounce your name.”
Art stared blankly at the dancing blood. “I’m sorry, that doesn’t help,” he said. “What does that rhyme with?”
“I don’t know…Cave?”
“What about Potato?” asked Art. “I know that one.”
“My name doesn’t rhyme with Potato, Art,”
“Ah…” said Art. “Well can I just call you Potato? It’d make this a lot easier.”
For a long moment there was silence on the other end of the line.
“Can I talk to someone else?”
“I’m afraid not. Everyone else is out on assignment,” said Art. “What’s the problem?”
“Well, I put the kid in the burlap sack but he doesn’t seem to be drowning and now the whole thing is wet,” said Dave, also known as Potato.
“Do you have the blood already?” asked Art.
“The what?” he asked.
“The blood. You know you can’t kill him until you have his blood, right?”
“Oh yeah. For sure. Totally,” said Dave. “I was just about to do that.”
“While he’s underwater and suffocating in a sack?”
“Yep. I’m thrifty,” said Dave.
Art looked around the receptionist center and threw a rock at a winged adder. This wasn’t his fault. The project had been passed on to him by someone with a better castle in the aftermath of one of Potato’s many mistakes, at which point his superior decided that temptation and possessions were more his bag. He’d said Art was on track for a promotion if he succeeded, so the receptionist who’d always seen himself as more of a hero type leapt at the opportunity. It was only a matter of time until greatness was his.
“Look, Potato,” said Art. “We’re in this together so all I need to know is one thing.”
There was silence on the other line. “What?” asked the human.
Art rubbed his temples and winced when he pricked himself on a horn.
“Can you find a rock?” he asked. “I just threw a rock at a flying adder and that seemed to work.”
“What’s an adder?”
“A snake,” said Art, and for a moment Potato was silent.
“Wait. There are snakes down there?” he asked finally. “If there are snakes down there I don’t think I can do this.”
Art looked up at the swarms of flying adders that soared through lakes and clouds of fire.
“Are there what?” he asked, a master of changing topics.
“Snakes. Are there snakes in hell?”
If a demon could look awkward, Artemartedoxtorix, Demon of the Fourth Degree, definitely looked awkward.
“What? Oh yeah no, definitely not,” he said. “You misheard me.”
“Well what did you say then?
Art looked around for anything his mind could seize on.
“Pits of endless despair,” he said finally when his eyes fell on the pool of weeping where acid carved canyons in the faces of the suffering.
Please welcome Sofia Sawyer to The Clog Blog. Sofia, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m a contemporary romance and women’s fiction author based in Charleston, South Carolina. I write about independent women who take control of their destiny.
I was born and raised in a small New Jersey beach town before fleeing to Charleston with my best friend a decade ago. Since then, I’ve lived in Boston for about three years before migrating back to Charleston with my husband and dog.
I work as an employer branding and recruitment marketing program manager for my day job (I’m in the process of leaving my employer to become a consultant and freelancer). When I’m not working, I travel as much as I can. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have gone to so many beautiful places these last few years and I’m looking forward using these trips as inspiration for upcoming books.
When I can’t hop on a plane, I’m usually taking advantage of everything Charleston has to offer. The beaches are gorgeous, and the food scene is hard to beat. Also, as an amateur photographer, the historic buildings downtown give me a lot to work with.
And, of course, I read a ton.
How do you make time to write?
I’ve gotten serious about my writing these last few years and work to protect my time. Rather than set daily goals, I focus on weekly goals because it offers more flexibility to account for the unexpected things life throws at me. My goals could be hitting a specific word count, getting a synopsis to my agent, taking an online course, drafting a book outline, creating a freebie for my newsletter subscribers, building a launch plan for a new release, and so on.
Every Sunday, I identify my top three goals for the week and look at my availability, slotting in chunks of time to dedicate to them. I also wake up an hour earlier before work to write because it’s easier to let the words flow first thing in the morning before my brain turns to mush from my day job.
Where do your ideas come from?
They pop up at the strangest times. Usually, while I’m trying to escape the mundane tasks of everyday life like going to the gym or washing dishes. However, music is the most consistent source of inspiration for my stories. If the lyrics are just right, my mind makes up a “music video” that goes along with the song. From there, I develop a full story from the little snippet of inspiration.
For example, I’m starting to plot a friends-to-lovers romance that was inspired by the song “Blinded” by Third Eye Blind. It popped up on my Pandora station one day at the gym and a clear vision of a story filled my mind. I just knew I had to write it.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I did for a bit but realized it’s something that can be overcome. When I lived in Boston, I couldn’t write a word. Nothing worked and I felt incredibly uninspired. Later, I realized my writer’s block was caused by some sort of challenge rather than lack of skill or inspiration. I found that taking courses, getting involved in the writing community, plotting, and generally building writing skills helped solve those problems. Now, if I feel like I’m hitting a wall, I take a step back and try to uncover what’s really causing the issue and tackle it head on.
Since looking at it that way, I’ve been writing consistently for more than three years after my Boston hiatus. I’m confident this approach will prevent me from running into that issue again.
So, what is you most recent project?
I’m juggling a few different projects right now. Typically, I try to stick to writing one manuscript at a time but because I have a couple with my agent and a couple that I’m self-publishing, I need to incorporate time to manage the process for all of those too. Here’s a quick run down of what I’ve been working on:
Finished edits for a forced-proximity romance that my agent is putting out for submission
Started working with an editor for my frenemies-to-lovers romance I plan to self-publish
Just completed the first draft of a contemporary romance (a modern Cinderella retelling)
Starting to plot my friends-to-lovers romance
Where can we buy or see it?
My frenemies-to-lovers romance will likely be released in summer 2020. You can subscribe to my newsletter for updates on its release date. Otherwise, my debut novel came out this past October and is available to purchase on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and iBooks. It’s a romantic suspense based in Portland, Maine. You can read the blurb for No Place to Hide here (the links to purchase are also on this page).
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Probably social media or my phone in general. Because I’ve worked in marketing for years, I’ve had multiple corporate social media accounts on my phone. Even if I turn off the notifications, my habit to pick up my phone and check if I’ve missed anything leads me to mindlessly scroll for several minutes. I started to put my phone in another room when I write, but even then, my computer distracts me with email alerts and what not.
I just finished reading a book called Digital Minimalism that had a lot of great advice about how to manage digital tools in a world where they’re working to grab your attention and keep it there. Although I won’t nix social media altogether because it’s been valuable to connect with readers and writers, I want to be mindful about how I use it. That might mean creating more meaningful posts even if that leads to posting less frequently. I need to put aside some time to think through my approach. I’m really curious to see how taking the social pressure off transforms my writing. Will it allow me to write more openly if I don’t compare myself to others or worry about letting readers down? It will be interesting to find out.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Get involved in the writing community ASAP. For years, I was terrified of putting my work out there. I finally found the courage in October 2018 and started author-focused social media accounts. It opened up a whole new world for me. Not only did I connect with other writers who I could relate to, I joined a writing association, found helpful writing resources, and even discovered Twitter pitch contests that ultimately landed me a literary agent. I wish I had done this back in 2013 when I finished my first novel-length manuscript. I can only imagine how much further along I would have been in my writing career had I done it then.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
I’m present on most of the social media channels but I’m mostly active on Instagram and Facebook. Additionally, my newsletter is a great way to get a look behind-the-scenes and exclusive details that I don’t share elsewhere. Subscribers can reply to my emails too, which is a great way to connect.
Please welcome my fellow ND author, Sue L. Hamilton to The Clog Blog. Sue, tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Growing up on a family farm in north central ND provided a strong work ethic that lead to a 20-year corporate career, encompassing direct sales, upper management, employee training, customer service, and business development.
For the last 15 years, I’ve redirected my passion by encouraging others through the gift of speaking and writing. This allows others to be motivated and energized and bring them hope.
I’m an eternal optimist that loves life. On a personal note, I love gardening, cooking, and classic cars and is especially fond of being a wife of 31 years and mother of two grown sons.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you?
The structure I use on a regular basis while writing is the following:
Thoughts about the problem
Lessons learned – teaching
What to inspire or to move to action
Do you ever get writer’s Block?
Okay, I’ll say a little more. I’ve felt like I’ve had writer’s block ever since I completed my memoir Carried by Faith in the fall of 2017. I worked at it for seven years. In the last two of those years, I worked at it every day, even if it was for fifteen minutes. Now I have to force myself to write a weekly blog and most recently have went to an every other week blog because I just don’t feel like writing. UGH!!
What genre do you write, and what draws you to it?
Blog posts are geared mostly to middle-aged women working on self – improvement.
Memoir Carried by Faith is a wide range audience from male or female, age 16-70 years old.
How do you come up with the idea for your book?
I was forced into writing! While doing a lot of public speaking I use my life stories in the presentation/training and afterward people would ask me if I had a book or a website that I shared my stories in detail. The answer was always a resounding, “No!” I continued to hear it and decided to begin writing even though I wasn’t a writer. So, the idea for my memoir was my life stories from around the age of 5 – 30years old and a tragic motorcycle accident I survived.
My current project is a self-help book with the “rest of the story” from where I left off in the memoir.
How do you publish your book(s) and why? (Indie, traditional or small press)
Self-publish. I used TLC Design https://www.tlcbookdesign.com/ which allows for a la carte or packaged options. I’ve chosen this route because of the cost and the control of timing in producing a finished product.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Start writing and keep writing! Huh – maybe I need to take my own advice.
Find your writing voice and style. The only way I’ve found this is by continuing to write and seeing what I like and don’t like. In addition, I suggest that you get used to being told you need to improve and change things that you thought were wonderful and after someone else reads it they give you feedback for improvement. Be ready for constructive criticism because it will help you and improve the end product.
The high, thick walls of protection became my life; they bordered my heart, so no one could enter. Others didn’t understand what I was living in, this living Hell. The walls hid the pain and unspeakable things associated with the hard years of alcohol and drug abuse.
I believed no one would understand, so it was easier to keep everyone away with high, cold walls of silence and no emotion. No form of light, goodness, or happiness was allowed in. Alcohol and drugs filled the silence.
It was nice and quiet in the walls of protection, I didn’t have to explain myself, but then again, I couldn’t explain myself. The silence was best, and that is why I would use the “liquid forgetter,” alcohol and drugs. I craved the effect they gave me, and they kept my level of chaotic thinking at bay. They did for me what I could not do for myself.
I ran after the effect and did whatever I needed to get my supply. The concoctions of alcohol and drugs along with the need to keep my supply met took me to some very dark places. It can be explained like this – wickedness danced in the darkness of night, moving in and out of its hiding places and drunkenness was the painful bondage that took over my mind and body. When I would awaken from its stupor, I would wonder, “Where am I?” “What happened to me?” “What have I done?”
“What was to become of my miserable life?” “Why was I here anyway?”
I looked for a way to escape my life, even a slit to my wrist one dark night would not stop the pain. I had no answers. It felt like a knife stabbing in my heart. The pain would dull occasionally, but I always felt its continual throb, reminding me of my bondage.
I was constantly trying to get back to the original first feeling of catching a “buzz” or “getting high”. It would not come back.
Nights turned into weeks, then months, and years of crying and sobbing into my pillow. The pillow stopped the loud wail coming from deep within my soul. It silenced the fear and absorbed the tears that I couldn’t vocalize.
No words would ever reach my lips to explain my hopelessness. I continued to repeat in my head, “Why God…why am I here?”
I didn’t have any answers, so I continue to hide behind my protective walls.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Oh my, this may be the question I least enjoy answering. I am a retired software manager from corporate America who always loved romance as an escape from life’s realities. I grew up on romantic musicals like “My Fair Lady” and “Gigi” and so, when I had time on my hands after years working 60 hour weeks, it felt natural to write romance. I had no expectations but the writing bug bit me and I am hooked.
I still love to read romance. I love to travel. I love the movies and exploring Chicago’s neighborhoods and restaurants. I am close with my family and friends who give me loving support and edit my books. And I am almost always surrounded by cats, junk food, and 24-hour cable news.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?
I do a broad brush outline to get a novel started, what Point of View I will use per chapter, how the plot will unfold chapter to chapter. I never stick to it. My characters take over about ¼ into the book and everything starts to change.
Do you ever get writer’s Block?
Writer’s block is just the worst! I had it for about three months last winter and thought I would never get back on track. I did a lot of research for my books during that time and wrote blog posts, but I just could not get my novel going. Finally, I came across an article that mentioned that writer’s block was really the brain saying it didn’t like the project. It rang true for me, so I did a deep dive on my characters, got to know them better and poof – the block was gone.
What genre do you write?
Mostly I write contemporary romance because I like dealing with the issues facing couples today – careers, families, and friends that pull couples in so many directions. Also, I enjoy the steamy aspects of a contemporary romance. But, I have written a time travel novel, Our Love is Here to Stay, and I had a wonderful opportunity to research Chicago in the 1950’s and keep my characters true to the period. I would love to do that again, or even try writing a Regency Romance. I love the manners and the clothes.
How did you come up with the idea for your book?
Besotted is the fourth novel in a series about four friends so the idea was really coming to me as I wrote the prior three books in the series. I loved creating four separate stories yet overlapping the characters so that readers could really get to know them. I am more about the characters when I write than the plot and I expect that the characters from the Beguiling Bachelor series will continue to make appearances in future books as well.
How are you publishing this book and why? (Indie, traditional or small press)
(Indie) I have more control over my story this way – the length, the plot lines, cover art, every aspect. I have a passion for marketing and interaction with my fans that equals my love of writing. I want to stay close to the novel and the readers.
All of my books to date have been published by me. I love being an indie publisher.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Don’t be too hard on yourself. I actually mentor a few aspiring writers and I warn them to keep moving forward and avoid falling into the rewrite pitfalls until they finish a full draft. Its great to polish until you are happy, but not until you actually have a full work to publish. Also, start small if you are unsure. Write short stories, write novellas so you can put yourself out there and get reader feedback, and momentum. Talk to other authors, they will be encouraging. You, on the other hand, will be your harshest critic.
I see your write in the Urban Fantasy Genre, what draws you to this genre?
As far back as I can remember, I ‘ve been fascinated with the supernatural. It began with the I heard from family members when I was too young to know what they were. From there it was easy to move to tales of Dracula, the Wolfman, and other legends. Urban Fantasy is a nice combination of the two, taking the familiar creatures from distant past and far off places, and dropping them into our own time and culture. There is always the possibility of a new “what if” that brings another fantasy creature or culture into our path.
Which actors would you like to see playing the lead characters from your most recent book, HOUSE OF THE RISING SON?
Well, I love to see Jason Momoa playing any role but I think he would be perfect for Alexander. Cheyenne is tougher. Tom Cruise if he were younger ( is anyone sexier than Stacee Jaxx? Elliot Knight when he had longer hair? Or the late great Prince.
Tell us about the cover for HOUSE OF THE RISING SON, and how it/they came about?
I was lucky enough that my editor asked what style cover I was attracted to, as well as how I pictured my leads. I was allowed to choose the models and poses for the cover.
If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about it?
HOUSE OF THE RISING SON IS the first book in the series. Cheyenne just wants to play music but as the son of the ruler of the Incubi, he cannot escape his heritage. He and his children have a role to play in the survival of his race and circumstances keep drawing him into the family drama.
His role as single father raised questions. After Midnight, the prequel to HORS, answers some of those.
Where do your ideas come from?
I find inspiration in many places but most often in music. Either the melody or lyrics will resonate with me and ideas for scenes start to flow.
Did you receive any rejection letters, and how did you deal with that?
I did receive a few rejection letters but most were along the line of “paranormal isn’t selling” or” I just don’t know where this would fit.” Thankfully I never received any of those soul-crushing rejections you hear about.
Can you tell us your story of “getting the call”?
It was actually an email. Basically, it said, “I would like to offer you a contract.” I said yes. The funny thing was that within a week I got two more emails with basically the same message. That is a great feeling.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
My advice to anyone who wants to write is to not rush yourself. Learn everything you can about the craft of writing, learn everything you can about the business of writing, and decide what kind of career you want. Not everyone has the same career goals. Writing is not a “one size fits all” lifestyle.
Please welcome my fellow LSB author Kelli Evans. I’m so excited to interview Kelli since we met at Lori Foster’s RAGT in June. Kelli,tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Hi Tina! I’m so happy to be here. I was born and raised in the middle of the mitten. I live in a small community on the outskirts of a medium sized city – and from the wrong side of the tracks, or in my case river. I am married and a mother to two hilarious girls, my oldest just turned two last month.
What genre are your books?
I write steamy contemporary romances. My Whisper Hollow series is set in a small town, and it’s very light hearted and funny (I hope.) The first two books in The Falling series will be re-released in the fall and a third never before published edition will be available come November and these books are a little darker, either in angst or just dealing with heavier subject material. Still smokin’ hot though.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
Ha! I write part-time, full-time. Whenever I get a second to write I’m writing. That’s usually after my husband comes home from work, at night when everyone is sleeping, or if by some miracle the heavens align and my girls go down for a simultaneous nap.
Where do your ideas come from?
Everywhere. Something my friend says at lunch, an article I read, a song on the radio, a couple on the street …
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I’m a total pantster. I’ve tried and tried to plot, but my writing feels stifled and my characters are too unruly to be tamed so, I just let the story grow naturally. It’s a lot more fun for me and probably for the reader as well.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
These days it’s really just about finding the time.
You’ve written two book series, WHISPER HOLLOW and THE FALLING, can you tell us more about them?
The Whisper Hollow Series follows three sisters and three friends falling in love in a small town.
In Lucky Enough, book one in The Whisper Hollow Series, Reagan Hilt is at her lowest low. Her fiancé called off their engagement over Skype, she has a hideous wedding dress hanging in her apartment she can’t even give away, her land lord has served her with an eviction notice, and her unpaid parking tickets have finally caught up with her. The only golden thread is this flirtation with a smoking hot guy she ran into while in court. After being sentenced to community service with a troubled youth outreach program Reagan meets Chloe a feisty fifteen year old who just so happens to be hottie’s daughter. Chloe forbids them from seeing each other, and because Reed (AKA hottie) is really trying to work on his relationship with Chloe, they agree their relationship should stay platonic. The chemistry sparking between them has other ideas.
The second book Just Her Luck follows Ronnie Hilt, Reagan’s twin and sexy cop Joe Aarons. He’s been trying to wear her down for a while and one drunken night she does give in. The one night stand spirals into something frighteningly permanent as Ronnie learns she’s pregnant with Joe’s child. Conservative, type-A Ronnie, has a very hard time trying to control the situation. She wants to get married to keep up her pristine public image and Joe wants to do right by her and the baby. The two enter into a marriage of convenience that quickly becomes much more for Joe. If only he could get Ronnie to realize it too.
One Lucky Deal, the third book in the series is a friends-to-lovers story. Candace, the youngest Hilt sister and Tad Dundee have known each other since that summer they spent together at 16 at camp. Now as two grown adults with commitment issues and very competitive natures, their friends make a bet with them that they cannot refuse. It tips their entire world upside and creates a new level of intimacy between these two old friends and roommates.
As for The Falling Series, book one Chasing Dreams opens the series with Nathan Lawson and SelinaLeclezio. Selina works for a tour boat at Niagara Falls. Nathan and his frat brothers are on spring break in Niagara when the two meet. It was only supposed to be a fling but when tragedy rips them apart much too quickly neither of them can shake each other. Very sexy and very emotional read. Due out in September.
The second book, Chasing Angeline follows Angeline, Selina’s sister and Dylan, Nathan’s frat brother, several years later. Angeline has a very dark past and has shut herself off from anything that isn’t safe and secure. Dylan is neither. He’s too sexy, too alpha, too all-male for Angeline. The worst part is this reformed bad-boy is very charming and when it comes to her – very sweet. She’s not sure she can resist him for long but knows that her baggage is too much to unload on anyone and expect them to stay. He also might not be the only one Chasing Angeline. Due out in October.
Playing with Fire is the never before released book in this series and it is hot. Ryleigh Lawson, Nathan’s sister is heading home after spending Christmas with him. Caught in a snow storm a dog darts out in front of her causing her to lose control on the slippery roads. She crashes her car and walks to the nearest structure – a bar. Jude Thomas had sent home his patrons hours ago knowing that the roads would become treacherous when the cutest most aggravating woman shows up ruining his peace and quiet. Their book is funny and smoking hot. I can’t wait until November when it will be available for you guys to read.
What are you working on at the moment?
So many things! I’ve got book four in The Falling, Ryleigh’s best friend Kat and Jude’s brother Joel’s book that I’m writing – They are probably the most fun characters I’ve ever had. I love Kat. I wish she were real so we could be real life besties. She’s a size 22 and she owns it. She’s loud. She’s so funny. Smart. Thoughtful.Is unapologetic for her love of slurpees and romance novels. Joel is all muscle to Kat’s curves. He is an up and coming boxer and was completely enamored with her right from the start. I’m in edits for PlayingWith Fire. I pitched a book at RAGT but my betas wanted to see something changed which changed half the book so I’m working on that so I can finally get it submitted. It’s working title is Harvest Moon and would be the first book in another series that I’m calling The Port Luna series for right now. It’s a double romance. It’s a romance … Square? 😉 For the first few chapters it’s very ambiguous who might end up with who and that part tested very well with my betas. It’s fun, it’s emotional, sexy, romantic, there’s intrigue and action. This one really has all.
Please welcome International Bestselling Romance Author Christine Donovan. Christine please tell us your latest news.
In March my third regency, LORD SEBASTIAN AND THE SCOTTISH LASS, and the third in a Seabrook Family Saga Series came out. The fourth book, SPENCER FIND HIS LADY LOVE, will be out in June. I also have three books in a contemporary series out. BLACKJACK, BRIDGET and MITCH part of A Standish Bay Romance Series. The fourth one, MORGAN, will be out by the year’s end.
Q: I see you write in two different genres, Historical and Contemporary. Are there any particular challenges with that?
Sometimes. It’s much easier to get in the mind-set to write a contemporary, as we live it daily. When I’m preparing to write an historical I read and watch films pertaining to the Regency Era to immerse myself in that life. I love writing in two genres though, because I never get bored.
Q: You have two series, Seabrook Family Saga and Standish Bay Romance. What are your thoughts on writing series and what draws you to them?
As a reader I tend to love a good series. When I begin writing a book, I don’t have anything mapped out for the series or how many books it may become. As the first story unfolds I get attached to all the secondary characters and their stories evolve in my head and I make notes for when I do write the next in the series. Of course, the more books in a series I write, the more planning I need to do to keep everything straight.
Q: Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I don’t write on a daily basis. My part-time job, my children and everyday stuff hinder that. But the several days a week I do get to write I can managed 5 or 6 thousand words at a time.
Q: Where do your ideas come from?
Daydreams and my vivid imagination. Sometimes it’s from something that happened in my life that I twist into a story. Several years ago, I went on an Alaskan Cruise, so one of my books is partially set on a cruise ship. It was a blast reliving my trip and spinning it with fictional characters. The only resemblance to my actual cruise, is the ship itself and the ports of call. The characters and what takes place are all fictional. But it made one heck of a backdrop for a story. Next month I’m going on a Mediterranean cruise. I can’t wait to see what book that turns into.
Q: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
The only time I plot is when I do NaNoWriMo. I find writing 50,000 words in a month is hard without an outline. A very small outline of perhaps 2 pages. Otherwise I sit at my laptop and just begin typing.
Q: Do you ever get writer’s Block, and any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
I think I went a year without writing anything new once and it was torturous. The stories left my head and I panicked thinking they would never come back. To get over my block, I went back to books I’d written earlier and never did anything with. I edited them that way I was still writing to some degree. That was also when I decided to tackle a Regency. I thought if I wrote something in a different genre it would spark my creative juices. Thankfully it did.
Q: What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
I have not been published in any other form than indie-publishing so I can’t say anything about the advantages, although being a procrastinator having deadlines would work well for me. As far as indie-publishing goes, I love being able to write what I want and working with my cover designer. I do book my editor in advance so I have a self-imposed deadline to work with. I don’t love the business side of things, or the internet presence. I have to force myself to get out into cyberspace. But putting yourself out there comes with being published either way.
Q: Do you have any advice for new writer’s just starting?
When you finish the best book you can write and it’s been edited over and over and over, hire a great editor, a cover designer. Have it formatted by a professional, until you are comfortable doing it yourself, and have the courage and confidence in your ability as a writer to put it out there. And remember, you cannot please everyone all the time. Some people will love your book and others will not. It happens to everyone.
Q: Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Please welcome fellow LSB Author PG Forte! Anyone who has read her stuff knows she is anything but PG. :0 Okay enough kidding around, let’s get down to business. So PG, Where are you from?
I’m originally from New Jersey, but California has been home for quite some time now.
Q: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
A: Actually, I was a little slow on the uptake. 🙂 Even though I’d been writing poems and stories all my life, I thought of myself more as an artist until.
Q: Where do you get ideas for your books?
A: Oh…ideas are all around! Sometimes I get them from dreams I have or a conversation I happen to overhear or some interesting behavior I observe. Sometimes the perfect opening line will just pop into my head and I’ll have to write the story to find out what it all means. At least two of my books started that way.
Q: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
A: I’ll admit that once in awhile I’ll use an event that’s actually happened, but only as a starting point. And, yes, upon occasion I’ve based the idea of a particular villain or murder victim on someone who’s annoyed me. LOL! But the connection is purely in my own mind—it’s not really that person, at all.
Q: What book are you reading now?
A: This time of year, I’m all about re-reading old favorites. So, right now I’m reading Pride and Prejudice (for the I-don’t-know-how-many hundredth time) after that, it will once again be time for Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker’s Creek. After that it’s back to my TBR pile, which is heavily weighted with the backlists of my fellow Nine Naughty Novelists: Meg Benjamin, Kate Davies, Kinsey Holley, Kelly Jamieson, Skylar Kade, D. McEntire, Erin Nicholas and Sydney Somers.
Q: What are your current projects?
A: I’m currently working on the second book in my Children of Night series about the Fischer-Quintano Vampire Clan. This book is titled Old Sins, Long Shadows and it picks up about three months after In the Dark (the first book in the series) ends. I have five books planned for that series and in between I’ll probably write at least a few shorter stories.
I’ve also recently completed a very short m/m paranormal erotic story that’s yet to find a home.
Q: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
A: Actually, the most challenging thing about writing is balancing it with everything else—having a life and a family, attempting to stay healthy, getting out there and promoting the books I’ve already written.
Q: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
A: Thank you for reading. 🙂 Also, I love to hear from readers and hear what they have to say. Obviously, this is especially true if they’ve enjoyed one of my books.
Q: Which one of your covers is your favorite and why?
A: Ooh, that’s tough. I’ve had some awesome covers! I think one of the ones I’ve been most pleased with is the cover of Let Me Count the Ways. I just felt it captured the feel of the book and the relationship between the characters. However, I’m frequently most excited about my newest cover, which in this case is for In the Dark. This is another cover that perfectly captured the feel of the book. Also, the model looks strikingly like my niece and the book was actually released on her birthday…so that’s kind of special.
Q: If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
A: I don’t know, but I’d probably be a world class grump while I was doing it. Writing has become such a habit I go through withdrawal every time life intervenes and I have to cut back.
Q: Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?