Teaching at Writer Zen Garden

wzgI’m teaching my FEARS workshop this weekend at Writer Zen Garden if anyone is interested. Classes are free to members. Membership is free.

http://writerzengarden.com/forums/

Feel free to share with any writer friends.

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AuThursday – Julie Lence

me-mediumI see you write Western Romances. What draws you to this genre?

I grew up watching John Wayne on Sunday television. I loved his cowboy characters and the fact he rode horses (horses are such beautiful creatures). I also liked the long, colorful dresses his female costars wore, the ranch houses and the scenery. Something about that era was simple and fascinating and stayed with me through. When I began writing, I started with a contemporary story but quickly switched to western romance. The heart of a cowboy, the code of the west, the horses and the rugged land were too hard to ignore.

How much research do you do?

It depends on the story and the characters. Two books I did a lot of research for Lady Luck and No Luck At All. Lady Luck is set in 1860 San Francisco and I needed to find out what the city was like at that time. I discovered tall ships permanently dry-docked, the color of a policeman’s uniform, and a street map from that time; all of which were incorporated into the story. For No Luck At All, the hero is a doctor. His heroine is a Boston socialite.  For that to work, I had to find out if Boston had a medical college and what medical discoveries were made in between 1860 & 1874 that I could use in the story.

One book I didn’t do much research for is Debra’s Bandit. Since this is the 3rd story in a series, the facts I needed had been researched with the 1st book. But Debra does work in a mercantile, so I did read up on mercantile (stores) to get an idea of what her day would be like and how important the mercantile was to society in the 1800’s.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

About 1 year. Sometimes less than that. I self-publish, so writing, editing, and cover design fall on my shoulders, which I love.

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

Making them speak like a man. A man’s dialogue is different from a woman’s. They usually don’t string together a bunch of sentences or speak in complete sentences. Nor do they overly describe something or talk about their feelings. They speak in as few words as possible. Perfecting their short answers, comments and sarcasm is often a challenge.

How do you select the names of your characters?

Girl names are easy. We all have our favorites, or what we think is a pretty name. I have a list of girl names and add to it when I come across another that I like. Boy names are harder. I do have a short list that I refer to, but if nothing catches me attention, I begin running through my mind character names from television shows and movies. From there, I branch out to country music singers and football players. Football players have great unusual names and often I find the last name that makes a great first name for a cowboy or an outlaw. My biggest challenge is the last name. I obsess on last names until I hit on one that ties perfectly with the character’s first name.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Getting my muse to cooperate. Usually, I find on the days I have time to write, the muse is sleeping and takes forever to wake up and get in gear. On the days when I don’t have time to write, I have complete conversations between characters in my head. Or, I’ll hit on a plot point and run for a piece of paper and a pen to jot down notes.

Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?

No. I have critiqued with other authors, contributed to a round-writing blog where each author writes one chapter to the story and contributed to a compilation of authors who each wrote about how they met their husband, but I’ve not co-authored a book with someone else.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Writing is a hard and lonely existence. To succeed, one must write every day and write what you know or love and for yourself. Keep at it, develop a thick skin when it comes to rejection, and don’t worry about what other authors are doing or have accomplished.  Stay true to yourself, dedicated to your craft, disciplined, and have a set of goals to work toward.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Website: www.julielence.com

Amazon: www.amazon.com/author/julielence

Facebook: https://facebook.com/#!/JulieLence

Twitter: @julielence

AuThursday – Jeanne St. James

What genre are your books?bangedup1-200x300

Contemporary erotic romance, I write m/f, m/m, and m/m/f (ménage).

What book(s) are you working on presently?jsj_doubledare_coverlg

I am currently working on two books right now. The first one is Made Maleen (a modern twist on a fairy tale). This novel will be in a multi-author anthology that is expected to release on 4/15/17. The other one is a m/m/f interracial ménage for The Dare Ménage Series. It’ll be the third book, though they are all stand-alones.

thumb_jstj_brothersinbluemax_coverlg_1024I see you’ve written a number of series including; BROTHERS IN BLUE, DARE MENAGE and RIP CORD.  Can you tell us your thoughts on writing a book series?

I only started writing series this year and I’m enjoying it. The Brothers in Blue trilogy books can all be read as stand-alones, but since it’s about three brothers who are cops, there are recurring characters. My Rip Cord trilogy consists of three novellas following a geek, Gil, and the Bad Boy of the NFL, Rip, who were high school crushes and as an adult found each other again at a class reunion. The Dare Ménage Series will be a continuing series which are all interracial ménages. The characters from previous books will have cameos throughout the series, but, as I stated above, they can all be read as stand-alones.jsj_ripcord_coverlg

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

My goal per day is 1000 words. Somedays I do a lot more, some less.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

I’m a pantser (which means I write by the seat of my pants). I write organically, so I let my characters tell what I need to know about them and they decide the direction they want to go as I write. I usually start with an opening scene that pops into my head and I figure out everything as I write.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Putting yourself out there. When you publish a book—which you consider a labor of love (your baby),—you have to expect some bad reviews (and a whole lot of good ones—which makes up for the bad ones). However, this business is cutthroat and some people write some cruel reviews (for all authors, not just me) and they forget that there’s a human behind the book. Constructive criticism is great, being petty is not.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

For the most part, no. Sometimes I’m waiting for my characters to tell me where they want to go next, so I mull over it a little, or go back and read the few paragraphs I wrote previously just to get my creativity flowing.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Keep writing. You learn from writing. Don’t be afraid to ask other authors questions. Many are willing to help or point you in the right direction. Join writer’s forums and groups and absorb everything you can. Learn to love grammar. (I started with a love of grammar in high school so that’s helped me.) Don’t give up!

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Website: http://www.jeannestjames.com

Blog: http://jeannestjames.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JeanneStJamesAuthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jeannestjames/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JeanneStJames

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/jeannestjames

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/JeanneStJames

Newsletter: http://www.jeannestjames.com/newslettersignup

Review & Book Crew: https://www.facebook.com/groups/JeannesReviewCrew/

 Join me on Saturday when we read an excerpt from Jeanne’s book RIPCORD EVER AFTER. ~Tina

AuThursday -GD Ogan

Please welcome back Guy (GD) Ogan to the Clog Blog.  GD – How long have you been writing?

Well, of course, there is all the “writing” required by schools and while in the military. But I feel sure you’re talking about fictional and non-fictional books and articles. My expressing things using the written word probably started when I was running long distance, cross-country events in high school and college while living in Northern California. There were a few magazines dedicated to running sports that published some of my submissions about the races I ran. One was “The Long Distance Log” where I described the trials and tribulations (tongue-in-cheek) of the dusty and sometimes dangerous courses the race promoters provided for us. Much later many of my photographs and stories were published in “Cruisin’ Style” a car magazine. I also had a book published while at Hardin-Simmons University titled, “Can Anyone Help My Child” about diagnosing and finding various treatments for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

Q: To date which of your books was the hardest to write and why?

A: I’ve always had a very fertile imagination. Perhaps that is one reason that “story telling” has come easily for me. I never felt that any of the series was difficult to write. Maybe I’ll answer by saying not writing the forth book in the series yet, because I wanted to wait until I had more readership, has been the hardest. My characters always press me to continue writing their story.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your IMMORTAL RELATIONS series?

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A: After my mother passed away, five years after my father did, I finally felt that I had to clean out my father’s file cabinets. My father had worked for the Federal Government with industrial, heavy duty, seven and eight drawer security file cabinets. By the time I was through, over fifty of the largest 55-gallon trash bags were filled to overflowing. In the oldest cabinet, in the back of the bottom drawer, I found a very old and yellowing envelope I thought was empty. But when I picked it up to throw it in the trash it felt heavier on one end. When I ripped it open an old black and white photograph fell out. The photograph was of my late father as a young man in his late twenties or early thirties standing in front of an extremely old building with a clock face on it. On the back, in a very feminine hand was written: “I’ll always be waiting here.” Finding that message on the back of that photograph is what started me writing, “Immortal Relations.” It confirmed what my late mother said about my father when I was a very young child…that I didn’t understand at my early age. A copy of the photograph is shown on page two of the first book in the series.  I’ll use an excerpt below (Saturday)to give a hint of my mother’s concerns.

Q: When you are writing, who is in control, you or your characters?

A: Unquestionably the characters are in charge although they are kind enough to allow me to discuss “options” with them. However, I’ve tried to no avail to reduce some of what I call the “explicit togetherness” (sex) they are routinely involved in.

Q:  You’ve set some of your stories in foreign lands, which country would you most like to visit and why? 

A: The Czech Republic would be my first choice to visit. When I was in the military I’d visited England, Japan and even the (then) British Crown Colony of Hong Kong and what was called “The New Territory” (the latter two are both now part of Communist China). Off limits, to me, while I was in the service was Czechoslovakia as, at that time, it was controlled by the (then) Soviet Union. I’d also like to visit The Russian Federation since much of the action in my books take place there.

Q: What are you doing to promote your book?

A: Aside from being on blogs provided by friendly authors, I’ve been part of muli-author book signings at libraries and other venues throughout West Texas and had my novels on consignment at our local Hasting’s Books and Entertainment Store (Hasting’s is sadly now out of business).

Q: What books can we expect to see in the near future?

A: Book four in the series is ready to be typed up as soon as I get more readers. I have the cover ready for it as well as books five and six and my characters are chomping at the bit. In June I had a marvelous and funny comment left by Pat G. that she had read all three of the current series out of sequence and she attested that they were “stand alone.” She said it was the top vampire story she’d read and among the best in sci-fi (the third book has a sci-fi component).

Here is Pat’s comment

immortal-relations-25 Stars The best vampire novel I ever read. By Pat G. June 16, 2016, Format: Paperback This novel rates number one in vampire writings, and close to the top in science fiction. Ogan is an excellent writer. There is an occasional misspelled word, but it does not detract from the quality of the book. Ogan shows a deep knowledge of warfare and weapons perhaps from his service as a major in the USAF. The killing of others is handled very well and realistically. It is heavy on sexual content but again done well. I shared the book with a friend who came back to me and said, “I think this writer has overdosed on Viagra.” I laughed. I also liked the writing in (the) first person since it showed each person’s involvement and participation in the main theme of bringing the story to the front. It is not necessary to read the books in order unless you are one of those people who prefer it that way. The books stand alone. I read the second, the first, and the third. Loved all three and look forward to number four. It depicts vampires as friends of humans rather than monsters. It also shows a great love for animals.

Q: Is there a question you would like to answer but it wasn’t asked?

A: I hadn’t thought about it, but perhaps “Are any of your characters based upon real people?” The answer is yes, Gary Logan is based upon my own years of military training, knowledge, and experience. There are others, especially in book three, but that is for the readers to determine.

Q: Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

A: A lot more information about the books can be found at http://immortalrelations.blogspot.com and I do have Facebook and Twitter accounts (but I don’t look at them all that often).

Please join me on Saturday when we read and excerpt from GD’s book Immortal Relations.

AuThursday – Amber Daulton

Please welcome my fellow Resplendence author, Amber Daulton.  You’ve written so many books, how do you find the time?

I write whenever and as often as possible, but it can be difficult. Trust me. I’ve had nine books published so far and there are several more collecting digital dust on my computer. I don’t have children—so no distractions there—but my cats are demanding little creatures and I have to appease them. My hubby is the cook in the household so luckily I don’t have to worry about fixing my meals. I just keep on writing, usually with a cat on my lap.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

It depends on the length I plan to write, the research I need to do and the amount of edits each book will need. On average, I can usually churn out a novella (say 15 to 35k WC) in maybe a month or so. For a full-length novel (80k plus), around three or four months.

You write in multiple genres, what draws you to each genre, do you have a favorite?

I love so many sub-genres of romance. It’s hard to choose a favorite but I’d probably have to pick contemporary or paranormal. Since some stories and characters only work in certain settings, I try to read a wide variety of books to get a feel of all the flavors so to speak. In essence, I write the same way.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

I tend to write late into the night, sleep late in the day and do it again. My muse really comes alive at the witching hour. Sometimes I have to put aside my precious WIPs and clean. *Grrr* Why can’t the laundry do itself?

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I’ve been writing since I was twelve and, when looking back at my old attempts, I flush in embarrassment. But hey, everyone starts somewhere. My stories have become much more complex over the years. I still like to write the boy-meets-girl storyline but it’s not simple and dry. There’s danger, death, divorce, betrayal and lies, real human emotion in all the characters, even the minor ones. Every little detail adds to the H/h’s relationship. I can’t take anything for granted when it comes to creating a character’s world but it took me a while to realize that.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

The hardest thing for me is deciding on character names. Now, that might not sound like a big deal, but the names have to fit with the characters I see in my mind perfectly. I feel stumped and lose my creativity if I assign a name to someone and it just doesn’t feel right. I usually choose the names based on their personality, physical characteristics, family dynamics/heritage, the time period of the novel or just what I find sexy! I sometimes spend hours, if not days, just scouring through baby name books and websites for the best names.

 What are you working on at the minute?

I’m in the process of writing the final book in my Arresting Onyx series. The sexy, dirty-talking contemporary romance series spans five books with a standalone HEA for each rough-and-tumble hero and their spunky heroines. The first book is out on call and I hope to have it picked up soon.

 Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I absolutely love talking to readers. They can find me here:

Blogsite – http://amberdaultonauthor.blogspot.com/

Facebook Author Page – www.facebook.com/amber.daulton.author

Twitter – https://twitter.com/AmberDaulton1

Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/amberdaulton5/

Goodreads – www.goodreads.com/author/show/6624921.Amber_Daulton

Amazon Author Page – http://amzn.to/14JoZff

Resplendence Publishing, LLC. – http://www.resplendencepublishing.com/

AuThursday – Kathryn Lively

katlivelyTell us a little about yourself and your background?

I have worked in publishing for about a decade now, doing various things. I have written everything from books to greeting card verse, and I have worked as an editor and a publisher. Presently I write fiction – mystery and romance, soon to branch into more genres – and I work in romance ebook marketing.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

For me, it’s settling down and getting into a place – physically and mentally – to do it. When you have so many hands on your time, you tend to drift in other directions. I find I can’t say no when people want help, and I have to learn to be selfish.

What is the easiest thing about writing?

Once I get into a story, into the zone, I just do it. The dialogue and actions come to me, and the characters come alive. All it takes is a moment to get into the book.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

It will vary. I’ve completed first drafts in 3-4 months; others have taken longer. My first book probably took over a year to complete.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

I suppose I do, but I prefer to call it Writer’s Fatigue. There are days where I don’t write simply because I don’t have the mental energy. It happens usually after I’ve finished a big project. I have to take some time off to recharge.

Did you receive any rejection letters, and if so how did you handle them?

Oh, yes. I could paper a house with them. In the beginning, it used to upset me, but now it’s part of the circle of a writer’s life. I find not all the rejections are based on the quality of writing; there are different factors at play.

Can you tell us your story of getting the call?

It’s kind of a bittersweet story – this was in the late 90s. I had submitted an inspirational novel to a new publisher looking for work. I actually received a phone call with the offer to publish. The publisher was very nice and enthusiastic. I recall I was happy because earlier I had an “almost” but ultimately the first publisher couldn’t get the funding.

After my book came out, however, I soon learn the publisher I went with lacked experience and reneged on a number of points. After 9/11 they decided to shut down altogether and I never got my final royalty check.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write, revise, write. Think of publishing as a marathon, not a sprint. Your time will come.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Subscribe to Kathryn Lively’s mailing list for news on eBook sales and new releases from Kat and other romance authors. Copy and paste to join:  http://eepurl.com/bq-RML

Visit Kat Online!

Website: www.KathrynLively.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kathrynlively

Twitter: www.twitter.com/MsKathrynLively

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/KathrynLively

Join me on Saturday when we read an excerpt from Kathryn’s latest release, “Finish What you Started” ~Tina

AuThursday – Miguelina Perez

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Originally born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I first discover romance reading during my years in High School. I discovered Barbara Cartland, then Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney. I was hooked. From there I went to Harlequins. Back then they were clean which is what I was allowed to read. I move to the Washington, DC area back in 1985. Moved around a couple of times; including a stint in Texas for three years before coming back here. I used to have these little stories form in my head, but never knew what to do with them. Until one day I started hearing authors talking about the stories within them wanting to be written, I realized that I had been experiencing the same thing since I was very young. One written line led to another and then another line till I had a completed novel. I began with poems, prose and then short stories. By then I was confident I could write a full-length novel. Hence the Vicar’s Deadly Sin was born.

I am also the coordinator for the Lady Jane’s Salon Silver Spring. A gathering that takes place 8 times of the year where I invite local romance authors to read from their latest releases. We meet at the La Madeline’s in Bethesda, Maryland. It is my hope to connect readers and writers. Right now it is on hiatus but I hope to bring it back soon. I need to work on a way to bring readers in. So when not working, I am writing and doing anything that involves the writing romance world.

Which writers inspire you?

I love Nora Roberts and was honored to have met her twice at a picnic in her home. I have come meet some real talented and gifted ladies in my journeys to authorhood that have inspired me: Sally MacKenzie, Leigh Duncan, Mary Behre, Harper Kincaid, Ingrid Hahn, TW Knight…I can go on and on. I have been very fortunate.

So, what have you written? 

I have an anthology out called Pieces of Me, these contain short stories, prose, poems and essays. My romance regency mystery is now out called The Vicar’s Deadly Sin.

What genre are your books?

Right now VDS is a Regency romance mystery. It is called The Lady Jane Bartholomew and Miss Margaret Renard Mystery, Book 1 of the Seven Deadly Sins series.

What are you working on at the minute?

I am working now on the sequel to VDS called Angel’s Lust, The Lady Jane Bartholomew and Miss Margaret Renard Mystery, Book 2 of the Seven Deadly Sins series. AL will have a little of paranormal elements in it.

What’s it about?

A new force is in town and young maidens are going missing and being sacrificed. The young ladies are up to their investigative snooping, but this time around, Jane newly engaged does not have her heart in it-she is focused on her upcoming wedding to Sir Hugh Cameron. So Margaret is the one trying to find out what is going on.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Finding the time when you work full-time. But what really gets me is people telling me to write within the constraints of what a publishing house dictates you should write. For example, Random House was interested in VDS and when they asked where is the sex? I said it didn’t have any. VDS is sort of a Jane Austen meets Nancy Drew. That quickly closed my pitching of the novel. I totally understand readers want sex, but VDS was never that type of novel. So after beta readers and more beta readers, and then getting an affordable editor, I published it.

What is the easiest thing about writing?

When you have the scenes in your head and you transform them into the paper. Writer’s block can be a true pain, so I try not to let it control me. Writing your story – When the characters come to life and you create the world in which they live in and interact with the secondary characters.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I have several sites. The main one is www.miguelinaperezauthor.com. I have another site where I do author interviews and reviews, www.theregencyinkwell.wordpress.com, but it has taken a side trip since I am trying to market VDS and finish book 2.

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

Sure:

The Vicar’s Deadly Sin

A Touch of Romance…A Touch of Regency…A Touch of Murder… Lady Jane Bartholomew and Miss Margaret Renard have been friends since the age of twelve. Together they share their dreams, hopes and a love for reading. However, it is their wild imagination and a penchant for solving mysteries that will test their abilities when the Vicar of Dover is found murdered. The young ladies are joined by two gentlemen, also eager to find the murderer in order to prove to the ladies that detecting is a man’s job, though the gentlemen find their beauty, wit, and pride more troublesome than solving a murder. The Vicar’s Deadly Sin is a delightful and witty Regency romance mystery about two friends and their love for solving crimes while keeping society and its rules at bay.

Join me next Thursday when I interview writer Kathryn Lively. ~Tina