AuThursday – Tessa McFionn

Tessa BannerTessa McFionn author picTell us a little about yourself and your background?

I would be delighted. So, I have lived in California for the whole of my life, but oddly enough, you’d never know by looking at me since I have no tan and inherited the East Coast attitude from both my parents. I’m a huge nerd, and very proud of the fact. I’ve collected comic books since I was in elementary school, I had a Star Trek bridge play set growing up instead of Barbie, and my idea of a perfect date night is the latest Marvel flick and pizza. Like most authors, I started writing when I was in junior high, but never took it seriously. I took Creative Writing classes in college, got my teaching credential and even taught English for a brief period before I decided to really give my own words their due. I still collect comic books. In fact, as I write this, I’m preparing to attend a comic book convention over the weekend.

How do you make time to write?

Ugh. I carve it out of every day with both hands, since I do have a rather full-time, full-time job as a teacher, that only leaves me weekends and vacations to dive into my WIPs. But I make sure that I make the most of the scant time I do get. Sometimes much to the chagrin of my hubby.

Do you ever get Writer’s Block?

There are times when my muse seems to be more interested in surfing for porn on the internet. (In my mind, I see my muse as a drunken frat boy. Don’t ask.) But honestly, I think because my writing time is so precious when ideas don’t flow, it can be almost debilitating. Generally, I just open another WIP and that usually helps to kick things back into gear.

Give us an insight into your main character, Kahlym cal Jhuen, in “To Discover a Divine. “What does he do that is so special?

Ah, my beautiful misfit. When I first imagined my sci-fi hero, I wanted him to be fierce and strong, yet have a vulnerable side. In the early phase of world-building, I saw him with not just mismatched eyes, but each eye having two colors. This trait made him an outcast from everyone, but through the love and guidance of his brothers, he became the hero Evainne meets. He has telepathy, but for me, it’s his heart and his courage to rise above that makes him special.

How do you select the names of your characters?

Oh, gods. The names. Especially in sci-fi, it’s all about the names. I wanted them to be unique, but still pronounceable. For me, I think of sounds and the feelings and pictures that come to my mind when I hear them. So, I play with variant spellings, like k or an x instead of ch and such, and voila! A new name is born. It’s one of the parts I truly love to do.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

Honestly, on this part, I think I have a bit of a leg up. I’ve never been very good at being a girl. Remember the whole comic book thing? Yeah, well, I also played D&D, street football, and fenced competitively in college. Also, I spent a lot of time with my brother and his friends until I graduated from high school. So, because of spending lots of time hanging out with boys and listening to their conversations, I found it easy to slip into the minds of my boys. But there are times when I run some things past my current guy friends, and even sometimes my hubby.

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?

I am a huge extrovert. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been accused of being shy my entire life. By being more outgoing, I tend to talk to more people and get some amazing ideas, and personality quirks, for new characters. I do love talking to people, and watching people, too. It’s great fun to eavesdrop on Joe Q. Public in open spaces. Tons of great material.

How do you relax?

LOL! Actually, writing is my relaxation. Aside from that, I love watching movies. But for ultimate unplug time, I go to Disneyland. I know, I know. For most people, that would be stress central. Not for me. I have an Annual Passport and go at least once a month. It’s my way to escape the world and be a kid again.

How did you deal with Rejection Letters if you received any?

I did get them, and it’s so odd. I knew they would be coming. I promised myself I would be strong when they came. And after the first, I nearly folded. So much for being tough. But I put on my big kid pants and kept going. I reminded myself that rejection is a part of persevering and nothing good comes without work.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Never quit. If you have a story to tell, there is someone out there who wants to read it. Trust your muse, and don’t fight the plot.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

If you go to my website, www.tessamcfionn.com, there are links to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also, I have a monthly newsletter. Sign-ups for that are also on my website.

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share?

“I do. Thank you so much for chatting with me.” ~Tessa McFionn

DivineThe dunk into the pool was just what the doctor ordered, the temperature somehow perfect. Evainne hoped it would be cold enough to jolt her brain into some emotional state aside from pissed off, but she didn’t relish the idea of a long swim in the arctic. The thing seemed almost intuitive, the water warming after one lap.

Why was she so angry? It wasn’t as if she’d never been rejected before. She should be used to that, but she wanted so much to believe he was not like the asshats back home. Guess it’s a male thing, no matter what planet you’re on.

So lost in her own head, she didn’t realize he was in the water until she heard him call her name. His voice brushed against her bare back, the single word trailing like fingertips along her skin. She closed her eyes, seeking strength in the darkness behind her lids.

“I don’t know if I’m not mad at you anymore.” She swallowed hard, listening carefully as he stepped closer, the wake of his approach lapping gently at the tops of her thighs.

“I do not wish you to be angered, but you must understand—”

That did it. She spun around to meet his apologetic stare, an unspoken sadness casting shadows in his tourmaline eyes.

“No, Kahlym. I don’t have to understand anything. I have no friggin’ clue about of the rules here. I was never one to stand on ceremony on my own damn home planet and I’m not about to start now. I was an outcast, tossed out and alone, and I had to make my way without a whole lot of help. Hell, even the crazy homeless had people willing to step up and say, ‘Yeah, that’s my family.’ All I trust is what I see from people’s actions and what my gut tells me. And I just don’t get you sometimes. One moment, you’re all hot and bothered and the next, you shove me away, spouting all about how you’re not worthy. I’m not some kind of princess or anything special, no matter what you might think. I just want…” She paused to take a breath and sort out her thoughts as they rocketed through her head.

That was when she realized he was naked.

 

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Writer Wednesday – Writing tools I use

So I’ve prepped a bit for Camp NaNo and getting The Alchemists of Archangel completed.

Some authors Love Scrivener and there are some wonderful features, that can be very helpful when developing characters, plot lines, timelines for series, etc.  I actually debated purchasing it, but have opted to use Google Keep in conjunction with Google Docs and Word.

I find myself looking back at tools I’ve used in the past.    Here are some tools I use during my rough draft phase:

  1. Cherry Adair’s – Plotting with Post its.   I admit I loved this when I learned it, but I still found it daunting.  The Pantser in me fought it, hard.  I still use a form of it today in Google Keep.
  2. My friend Arden uses an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of Character Profiles and Plot devices, Chapters, etc.   It is daunting.  And I admit I never mastered it the way she did.   Bob Mayer uses an Excel Method as well.
  3. Google Keep – So this is where I use a bit of Cherry’s technique and start mixing in my own blend of stuff (research, worldbuilding, character profiles, setting, and plot)
  4. Source Sheet – I keep a word doc of where I find all my research for the novel.  I also include worldbuilding notes in here.  My outline may not survive the process but this almost always does.  I usually turn in a copy with my manuscript when I begin the editing process, to help the copy editors.
  5. Sex in Romance Website – I don’t use this as much as I used to but it is still a great place when you want variety in your manuscript during a love scene.
  6.  Word Counter – I got this idea from Allie Pleiter’s Chunky Writing Method.   She has some freebie’s on her website for this.  Basically, you are counting words whenever you work on your ms.   I made some modifications to mine. 🙂
  7. Pinterest – Before Google Keep I would create character profiles for my stories.  I actually found looking at pictures beneficial to driving my description of clothes and setting.  Once my book is published, I’ll make the pages private.  The Courtesan of Constantinople is the first book I did this with so Y’all will have to wait. 🙂
  8. Pandora – I love listening to music without words when I’m writing.  Usually, I pick a channel based on the mood of the scene.   I’m sure part of this has to due with the fact that I learned to type to music in school.   Nothing like typing words to the William Tell Overture.

And I haven’t even started on the Reference Books I use regularly…

AuThursday – Suzanne Jefferies

Watched banner26-IMG_0088Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

 I’m originally from a valley in Wales that rains sheep and folklore about dragons. But right now, I live in South Africa. I’ve done everything from writing press releases about powerboating to trading futures on the South African futures exchange. I love chocolate, rainy days, and jiu-jitsu.

How do you make time to write?

 A thousand words a day squeezed in between meetings or deadlines or waiting for the wash cycle to end.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

 I believe in story block. Sometimes, the story takes a while to show up. When it does, I can write. Until then, I read.

 Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.

 Contemporary and paranormal are my preferred genres, with varying heat levels in each. I love to write erotica, for me, it’s poetry about the body and soul.

 How are you publishing your recent book and why?

Wild Rose Press are my publishers. With every new book, I learn from the pros – that’s what traditional publishing offers, and it’s invaluable.

 Are you an Introvert or Extravert? How does this affect your work?

 Totally an introvert. It means my work is best suited to me; writing is lonely, it’s just you, your machine/notepad, and the story.

 What is your favorite motivational phrase?

 “Just do it.”

 What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

 The road is long, winding, with slopes and inclines. Sometimes it’s tough, and sometimes you’re freewheeling. Sometimes there are road bandits, other times a wise sage. But it’s a journey – keep one foot in front of the other.

 Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

My website www.suzannejefferies.com, or Facebook SuzanneJefferiesAuthor or Twitter @suzannjefferies

Watched_w12142_med Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?

 “His gaze on me is like a caress on the back of my neck; my senses alert to the pleasure that’s to come. He likes to walk behind me. His shoes scrape against the tar—the sta-stop rhythm.

I know he’s there. Waiting.
I know he’s there. Watching.
His face flashes in the reflection of a car window. In the reflection of a paned-glass window. Distorted night lights, strangers, and him. Sometimes I try to give him the slip. Turn a different corner. Run up a different pathway. But, after a beat or two, he’s there. That same sta-stop rhythm.”

Writer Wednesday – Solo Retreat

In the fall I take an annual writing retreat and I find that it replenishes my soul.  This past weekend I treated myself to a Solo Retreat.  I didn’t travel to an exotic location or rent a rustic cabin, or even leave my house.

DH was gone most of the day on Saturday with a flight student, so I had the house to myself.  I set some goals for myself, to do classwork and write. I was taking two classes simultaneously – The Artist’s Way at Writer Zen Garden and Writing and Resistance: Overcoming Our Blocks to Success by MM Pollard at RWA Online.

My Retreat went like this:

  1. Slept in – I’m retreating so working on my own timetable.
  2. Coffee – I’m a bear without my coffee.
  3. Morning Pages – It’s part of the Artist’s Way
  4. Class Work – Basically Log on and do homework. However long that took.
  5. Lunch – On my lunch break I watched the latest YouTube videos by First Draught and Jenna Moreci.   I find this a great way take a break and learn.
  6. Meditate – I used the 12-minute Focus Meditation on Calm.
  7. Write for 60 minutes – I’ve been using the help of the 90-day novel by Alan Watt to help flesh out my current WIP.
  8. Read for 30 minutes- Along with Artist’s Way for class.  I’m reading The Art of Working by Jeff Goins that I checked out from my Library.
  9. Write for 60 minutes
  10. Read for 30 minutes
  11. Repeated Steps 8 and 9 until DH came home and we had dinner.

I accomplished my goal and was able to enjoy my One Day Solo Retreat.

Can you do this?  Sure you can.  It might be easier for me because I live on a farm and don’t have a day job, but this is doable for anyone.

Some recommendations.   Pick some goals.  Are you burned out?  Maybe you need to build more Meditation and Yoga into your retreat than I did.  How about a luxurious bubble-bath or painting your toes, etc.

I often listen to Pandora on the farm.  I choose stations based on mood.  I recommend outdoor time if weather permits.  I avoided the snowy sub-zero temps…hence some meditation planned into my day.

Regarding Food – If you love to cook, incorporate this into your retreat.  Plan a favorite meal to prepare.  If you live in a large city consider delivery so you can enjoy the experience and maybe treat yourself.  I like to cook, but I wanted to keep the time to myself so I picked up some fancier microwavable meals.  I picked up beverages I like, chocolates, and some snacks I love.

If you have other passions like painting, drawing, knitting, scrapbooking, or other creative pursuits into your retreat…especially if you have more than one day.  This is a chance to fill your creative well.  Who knows, maybe while you are coloring in a color book…that writer’s block will finally release.

I would caution against spending the day binging TV shows or even reading for pleasure. Not because these things are bad, but because they distract you from yourself. If you want to watch that movie you’ve never seen, or read a book, do it in the evening or maybe only for a couple of hours.

Ultimately a Solo retreat is what you make it.

Happy Retreating!

 

AuThursday – Madison Micheal

OLIHTS Banner

madison michael author photoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

Actually I just rewrote my bio for my website to share more of who I am and where I came from. It sounded so dull before, and I am not a dull person. I am opinionated and not shy about sharing my thoughts. I love to give advice – unsolicited. I adore expensive shoes, bargains on everything else and long baths with a good book. I am addicted to the movies – at the theater. Currently I am acquiring a appreciation for opera and live theater. I love dogs but like to share my digs with cats.

I am originally from Chicago but I have lived on both coasts from Boston to San Francisco, with several stops in between. I spent my career as a technical consultant or manager for a huge software company, but I retired in 2014 and got away from the 9 to 5 life. I miss my coworkers but not the job. To entertain myself upon retiring I started taking classes including one on “How to Write a Romance Novel” and with encouragement from friends, the rest is history.

I am close with my family, reside in suburban Chicago and I love to travel. I am on the board of directors of Mental Health America of the North Shore because they do good work and a member of Romance Writers of America.

How do you make time to write?

I am very fortunate because I am able to write full-time.

What genre are your books?

I write contemporary fiction, usually with some steamy sex. That is my wheel-house so far in my

“Beguiling Bachelor” series. But I did just complete “Our Love is Here to Stay”, which is a time-travel story.

I love reading mysteries, literature, and romance in every genre, so I have sprinkled small pieces of these into my books where I can. My mother was a librarian. She taught me to love reading and respect writers of every kind. Every word I write can be traced back to her teachings in some way or another.

What draws you to this genre?

I grew up on Regency romance, and I am drawn there but haven’t braved the genre yet. Instead, I write more of what I know – current times and current places. I set my books in places that are familiar and I make my characters a bit older than in some romances. Women in their late 20’s and early 30’s and men in their mid-30’s have problems to overcome, responsibilities to juggle and they have sex. That is what I like to write about – their flaws, their journeys, their struggles and the wonderful ways they fall in love.

What are your current projects?

I have just completed the first book in a new series, the Billionaire B&B series. The book, “Desire & Dessert” will be published in a collection this spring, with at least two more volumes to follow. My Beguiling Bachelors will return this summer, and I am always toying with a short story or two.

I am very excited about another new project – a blog for romance writers. Today I blog for my readers, my story every Thursday and an introduction to another author every Tuesday. But begging next month, on Monday’s, I will begin sharing what I have learned about writing and indie-publishing. Am I THE expert as I begin my third year as a writer? Hardly. But I have learned tons about being a new writer that experts have forgotten. Sometimes it is the non-expert that new writers can relate to. I hope to share my wisdom with those people.

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?

My whole life I was an extravert, but once I became a writer, I became the complete opposite. Anyone or anything that takes me away from my computer is a disruption. That said, once I have made the break, the extravert in me rules again. I love being with my friends and family, networking with other authors and meeting fans. I just need that initial nudge to put down my writing.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

No feedback. No reviews. I send my books out there into the world representing my hard work and heart. They are a labor of love for me – my babies. When I have no idea how they are received, that leaves me wondering ‘do I write something similar? something different?” I don’t write only for me. I write for my readers and their feedback is priceless.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

I speak with more aspiring writers than I ever could have imagined and I tell them all the same things – read more and write more. I tell them the different betwee a writer and a want-to-be writer is that a writer finishes something.

When I got ready to write my first novel I read tons of romances, paid attention to the covers, the titles, the back-cover blurbs, even the author bios. I wrote down words and phrases that I loved from my favorite books. This became my library of inspriration. Then I wrote and wrote and wrote, edited and rewrote until I finished my first novel, “Bedazzled.”

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I hope readers will visit me at www.madisonmicahel.net  where I have a blog and a wonderful giveaway for joining my insider group.

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AuThursday – Caroline Walken

How I make time to write

With little time during the week to write, you will find me camped out on my laptop from Friday evening until Sunday.  During the week, I may take the time to edit a chapter or work on flash fiction.

Additionally, I write the bulk of my novels during the winter, I hate the cold!  You won’t find me playing in the snow, I would much rather be cozied up to my characters!

 Writer’s block

I don’t know if we suffer from writer’s block or that like any form of work we become bored.  Creating a full-fledged novel may take you over a year.  It is easy to understand why we run out of things to write!  This is one reason I have started working on flash fiction, entering writing contests and similar exercises like these.  This keeps writing fresh for me, it challenges me and each time I learn more about the craft. 

 When I do have the opportunity to delve into my WIP then I feel refreshed and eager. 

 My Genre

I write fiction/romance and put the emphasis on fiction.  I like female characters that are strong and feisty!  I grew tired of reading about characters that relied on the male counterparts for the solution.  My girls will keep any man on their toes.

I do have a passion for the Roaring Twenties and the Gangster age of the Thirties.  My current WIP and two other books are set in that era.  I enjoy researching real places or crimes and weave them into the story.  It is just such an exciting time and let’s face it, we all enjoy a bad boy! 

Publishing

I am an indie author and currently publish through Amazon.  Similar to others, I queried traditional publishers and agents but at the time, the market struggled since Amazon had just come on strongly.  In the end, it came down to wanting to share my stories so alas, I went alone.

 I believe in time, this will even out and traditional publishing will come to appreciate what we as Indies have learned in our craft.

 Introvert/Extrovert

I am an extrovert, in addition to writing, I show horses and I work as a consultant in a field other than writing. 

 Motivational phrase

“You learn more from you failures than from your successes.”

Advice to aspiring writers

My advice to aspiring writers is to invest in yourself, reserve your time for writing and improving in the art of storytelling. 

 Invest in a good editor; there is a variety available for all price points.  No matter how well you comb your manuscript, it is like your child; you won’t see its faults. 

 If you work more than an hour to format your manuscript or work on a cover, find a resource to help you.  Writing should be your priority; you can quickly find assistance for these basic tasks and do so very affordably.

 Lastly, know that everyone gets a bad review, and yes, it will feel like a knife through the heart.  Take away any useful information there is and grow from it.  After that never read it again! 

 Links

Amazon Link

https://www.amazon.com/author/carolinewalken

Facebook Link

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100014819192480

Goodreads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16623832.Caroline_Walken

WordPress–

https://authorcarolinewalken.wordpress.com/

Twitter— 

https://twitter.com/caroline_walken

Join me on Saturday when we read an excerpt from Caroline’s book “From Nowhere on the Map”~Tina

Writer Wednesday – Editing

book-editingI’m not talking about dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s here, or finding spelling mistakes, although those are important.

I’m talking about looking at your work as a whole and saying to yourself – is this working or why isn’t this working.

I’ve finished up my 2nd round of layering and usually when I do the layering I find other issues.  And I’ve found some frivolous plot lines that need to be dealt with.  I can still use them, but they don’t make sense so I need to dig deeper.

I need to make these plot points stronger to thread through this series on a bigger level.  I have a lot of side notes like “Needs to be more significant” or “what are you trying to say”

This is an interesting process – I have to be objective looking at these items and I’ve been fortunate that I’m usually willing to change plot lines if necessary and I think this is necessary.

I’m off to it.  ~Tina