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 – Sylvie Grayson

Please welcome Romantic Suspense and Fantasy Author Sylvie Grayson.  Sylvie I have to ask, what challenges do you find writing in two different genres?

Hi Tina, thanks so much for hosting me on your website. It’s a real pleasure to be here. I love writing in two different genres – romantic suspense and sci-fi/fantasy. I have found that once I’ve finished one novel, there is another one calling to me in a different tone. It keeps me excited about my writing. But the challenge of fantasy is to keep your created world in perspective – I have copious notes, lists of new words, maps, family trees for the characters. It’s a lot of fun.

Q: Do you write full-time or part-time?

I write when I can, no pressure (at least, not too much!) I work, and have a family who keep me pretty busy too.

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

I’ve published about three books a year, with editing and book covers and all the other stuff that needs to be done.

Q: Which of your covers is your favorite and why?

I love the cover of The Lies He  Told Me. The woman’s face is quite compelling, but we can see the bad boy in the background. But I also love the cover on Khandarken Rising, The Last War: Book One. That is my first fantasy and it was a lot of fun imagining the cover for it.

Q: Who designed the covers?

Steven Novak designed all of them. He does an amazing job and is open to all kinds of suggestions. If anyone wants to see his work, you can find his website at http://novakillustration.com/bookcovers.html  You can also go to my website http://www.sylviegrayson.com to see all my book covers.

Q: What are your current projects?

I am just in the process of getting the cover done for Truth and Treachery, The Last War: Book Three, and doing the proof reading for that MS. It’s time-consuming but essential to get it right.

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

My website is at www.sylviegrayson.com where I post quotes that appeal to me, and blog about writing and life. My Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/sylvie.grayson, and my twitter link is https://twitter.com/SylvieGrayson?lang=en

 

 

AuThursday – JL Wilson

JL Wilson also writes for Resplendence Publishing.  Let’s get down to it shall we:

Q: How long have you been writing?

I’m a professional technical writer and I’ve been doing that for almost 30 years. As to fiction, I started to seriously write in 2004 and I sold my first book in 2006.

Q:  What books have most influenced your life most?

Different books influenced me at different times. My mother served on the Library Board in my town, so she was a buyer and she let me help select books (what a fun time that was!) She encouraged me to read outside my age group, and I did so, reading a lot of mysteries and science fiction when I was young.

In high school I read a lot of classics. Then I went to college and majored in English and I fell in love with William Dean Howells, William and Henry James, and Scott Fitzgerald. Along the way, I read a lot of mysteries and science fiction: John Creasy, Anne Perry, Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert.

I think three books that influenced me most are Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I had never read a romance novel before reading that, and it opened up realms of reading to me. I read that book in 2003 and I realized, as I read it, that she wrote exactly the book she wanted and she got published. Maybe there was hope for me.

Another book was …And Ladies of the Club. This was written by an elderly lady and is a charming novel about life at the turn of the last century. Again: she wrote exactly what she wanted, persevered, and got published.

And lastly is Frank Herbert’s Dune. It was such a richly developed world with such strong characters.

All three of those books taught me to follow my heart in my writing and to write the story that I want to read. If I do that, the book will appeal to others.

Q:  What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both? Do you use mood music, candles, no noise, when you write?

I fly by the seat of my pants, mostly. I usually start with the germ of an idea. Here’s what I’m working on now: a woman’s late husband, a firefighter, was killed in a fire. His ghost comes back to haunt her when the investigation into his death is reopened. She feels guilty because the last words she spoke to him were to tell him she wanted a divorce.

Now: where will the book go from there? Who will the hero be: the late husband? Or the ex-cop whose wife was also killed in the fire and the man who requested that the investigation be re-opened. Where will it take place? When (spring? Summer? Fall?) Who’s the bad guy? Why was he killed?

What is her motivation for finding his killer? How will she manage her guilt? What kind of person is she? What are her habits, her loves, her dislikes?

Somehow, by the time I’m done, I’ve created the people, answered the questions, and had a lot of fun writing the book.

Q:  Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I tend to get sloppy when I have an idea I want to get on the page. I repeat words, phrases, or my characters will often sound alike. I have to go back through and tweak it, looking for my ‘bads’ – I keep a list of words handy and I search for those to change them. And I make sure to read each character’s dialog separately from other dialog, so I can be sure it sounds true to the character.

Q:  Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

I don’t travel to do research, but a lot of what I see on my travels ends up in my books. I do travel, though, on book-related business because I attend several writing conferences a year, and frequently speak on panels and give talks.

Q:  How much research do you do for a book?

For my historical books (the History Patrol series) I do extensive research. Those books involve time travel so I have to make sure my details are correct.

For my contemporary mysteries, I have to do a moderate amount of research. I usually end up talking to someone in ‘the business’ – a firefighter, a cop, etc. And of course I love to search the Web and find details, etc. I keep all of that sort of information in a spiral notebook, one for each book and it goes with me wherever I go.

Q:  Do you have any advice for other writers?

I teach a writing class, and I try to stress that your writing should be enjoyable for you. It should never become a chore, because if it does, that will come out in your words. Enjoy what you do, make time for your writing every day (even if it’s just carving out a few minutes), and keep learning. You can always take online classes, talk with other writers, join a writing group – think of yourself as a Writer and act accordingly.

Q:  What are your current projects?

I had 11 books release in 2011 (see my web site, jayellwilson.com, for the complete list). Some were new releases, some were re-releases, and some were print versions of previously released digital books. So in 2012 I’ll be promoting those books.

I’m planning on a mid-year release in 2012 for Twistered, my Oz-as-mystery story.  I’m now working on using Winnie the Pooh as the basis for a murder mystery (yes, my mind works in odd ways). I’m also working on a new History Patrol novel, this one set in 1897 and it involves the assassin of John Wilkes’ Booth (the man who killed Booth—true story).

Q:  How did you come up with the idea for your “New Human” series?

The series began as a conclusion to a 6-book series I’ve been writing, off and on, for a year or more. That series is set in an alternate America, and when I mapped out the final book in the series, I thought, “What am I going to do with my villains?” There is a rival group vying for power on Earth and I couldn’t just kill them all off. So I sent them to a new planet—Delmorna.

Once I got them on the planet, so to speak, I had to decide what to do with them. That gave me an opportunity to address what I perceive as many social problems: racial inequality, law enforcement issues, and poverty. This was a whole new world I could design myself. And I had a lot of fun doing it!

I think that’s why it appeals to people—they see a lot of our current problems ‘solved’ but other problems crop up along the way. I think it gives people hope that by working together, the big problems can be resolved.

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

My web site is a good place to start since it has pointed to other spots: http://www.jayellwilson.com.

Or readers can find me at Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/jayellwilson ) or Twitter (@JLwriter).

AuThursday – Temple Hogan

Q:  Which country would you most like to visit and why?

 Hi, its great to be here and to be interviewed by you.and to have the change to communicate with all my readers. As to what country I would most like to visit and why?  I loved Scotland and Ireland when I was there and would love to return there anytime.  There is a certain romance in the air.  I love the personalities of the Scots and Irish.  They such strong, gorgeous heroes and irresistibly beautiful heroines.  The first time we went to both countries, we took a train through the mountains and countryside which revealed the breathtaking beauty of both countries.  The second time we drove and had a ball finding our way down narrow country roads with their pull offs and sheep whichblocked the road.  Of course, I bought a ton of books in both countries and had to buy an extra suitcase to cart them home.  This was before the big hike in luggage fees.   I was so inspired, I wrote and sold two historicals when I got back. .  I just finished the first in an Irish Trilogy I’m currently doing for the e-book market, called LADY OF THE ISLE and have started the second, called THE NAUGHTY PRINCESS.

Q:  When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Easier to ask myself when I did not think of myself as a writer.  Certainly when I was little and my mother, first read THE WIZARD OF OZ to me.  I’m not sure I was even in school yet, but oh, how I loved Dorothy’s adventures and I remember thinking if only I could write a book like that.  When I got into school and my teachers told my mom about my writing abilities, that kind of sealed the deal.

Q:  What books have most influenced your life most?

You know, I wish I could think of something truly profound but the truth is GONE WITH THE WIND and JANE EYRE were two of my favorites when I was in my teens.  I loved the dark, mysterious heroes in both and Jane with her steadfast love for Mr. Rochester and Scarlett and Rhett.  Frankly, darling, I don’t give a damn.  Well, I knew he did.  He just had to.  And I certainly cared.  Those two books fueled my imagination further.  I know I could say  one mainstream writer, who shall remain nameless, influenced me as well.  Her book was so depressing and sad I vowed I’d never write a book like that.  I was dedicated to a book with an HEA ending, which are mostly romances!

Q:  What book are you reading now?

I confess that as much as I love romances, I also love Suspense Thrillers and am currently reading a Steve Martini book.  Some of my favorite e-book authors are Brynn Paulin, Bronwyn Greene, Abigail Martin, Jennifer Armintrout, oh gosh, I could go on and on.  Few authors I don’t like.

Q:  What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both? Do you use mood music, candles, no noise, when you write?

My writing process?  I tend to do a bit of both seat of the pants and outlining.  I can’t even begin to write a book, if my characters aren’t sharp in my mind and named properly.  That’s why a baby naming book is my most treasured research book.  If I’ve name my character Shelly and she’s really supposed to be Lucy, she won’t behave right.  She does things that just don’t go with Shelly’s role.  Some character just jump into your head full blown, like Billie Stone in Dirty Little Secrets from Ellora’s Cave.  She’d been left at an orphanage by her mother when she was seven, by the time she was thirty, she was pretty well off, owning her own building in downtown Detroit with her own lucrative business as a CPA, but Billie was really a con artist at heart until she met a tough, sexy detective who showed her a new way.  As you can tell my books are first and foremost Character driven.  Once I know who they are, then I consider what sort of things are going to befall them.  That’s about the extent of my outlining.  I go with the flow and let my characters tell what they’re thinking and feeling.  UNLESS I get stuck.  Writer’s Block is so debilitating to a writer.  That’s when  a pencil and pad come out and outlining a scene or chapter gets me started again.

 Do I use mood music?  I used to prefer silence until I discovered that the right music can mellow the mood of a scene and open up your mind to a whole new approach.  I mostly write during the day and I have a naughty little Shitz Tzu who distracts me.  I never use candles, but that’s a possibility I may yet explore.  If  I’m desperate to get focused I use chocolate, deep dark chocolate and pretzels.

  Q:  What do you feel is the most important aspect for all new authors to remember when writing or creating their own stories?

Get to know your characters.  Until you know them as well as you know yourself, you can’t get into their heads and without knowing what they’re thinking or how they’ll respond, you can’t make your story believable.  Characters, characters!  First and foremost!

Q:  Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Oh, my goodness, you can’t begin to learn how to write, without writing.  The more you write, the more you learn.  The process is so intermingled.  Learning to create your characters, finding a suitable plot are the easier part of writing, the fun part, but sitting down and facing that blank page which YOU are suppose to fill up with scintillating prose can be daunting.  As I said before, you just have to begin and force yourself to keep going.  That’s probably the biggest thing you learn in writing a book, that and the shocking, joyous revelation that yes! You can do thin.  Finishing a book is like losing 20 pounds and fitting into those old jeans.  That elation is what keeps you going back again and again to create characters and tell their story.

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

OH this is a fun question.  What writer doesn’t like talking about his/her creations.  In a few days, HER PIRATE LOVER, the second in my Pirate Booty Series will be out from Resplendence Publishing.  The first book, THE VIRGIN PIRATE was a bestseller at All Romance e-books. 

I’ve also just had DARK PARADISE, a funny paranormal out from Respendence Publishing and DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS from Ellora’s Cave.

Coming up are the third Pirate book, titled THE PIRATE BRIDE and the beginning of my Irish Trilogy, LADY OF THE ISLE, followed by THE NAUGHTY PRINCESS and finally, ENCHANTED ISLAND.  I hope to follow up with a sequel to the paranormal DARK PARADISE which is about vampires.

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

 I can be found on www.TempleHoganblogspot.com and at www.TempleHogan.com

I’d love to hear from my readers.

AuThursday – Anna Mayle

Welcome fellow Resplendence Author Anna Mayle.  So Anna,where are you from?

I was born on Drummond Island, in a log cabin my mother built with her own two hands. In the summer we lived in a teepee in a large clearing in the woods. We held rendezvous there where trappers and traders and Native Americans would gather to live a tiny bit in a time that had already been and gone. Later we moved to New Mexico and even later we came back to Michigan, even if it isn’t the island anymore, but I’ve always considered myself as being from that tiny piece of yesterday that we worked so hard to hold on to.

Q:  When and why did you begin writing?

I can’t remember a time I wasn’t creating stories. At first it was just something fun to play around with. Later it became a way to shape the world into what I wanted it to be. I hid in my writing for a long while. Actually, I only surfaced to find friends and join the real world a few years ago. Before that it was always my family and my writing, nothing else mattered.

Q:  When did you first consider yourself a writer?

 I’ve always considered myself a writer, but I guess I really saw the possibility of being a professional writer when I finished my first novel ‘Such Bitter Heaven’. It still isn’t published yet, but I have hope for it. ^_^

 Q:  What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both? Do you use mood music, candles, no noise, when you write?

 I make up the characters first, and write a scene (not necessarily the first one), then I just let them play. Even I don’t know how my book will end before it does. Sometimes I have a vague idea, but the characters usually go somewhere I was really not expecting. Honestly, it’s a bit like having a multiple personality disorder sometimes. My head gets very crowded.

As for the physical conditions, it depends on what I’m working on. Usually quiet or soft instrumental music (my current favorite for my WIP is ‘Song of a Secret Garden’) is preferable. I fix a hot cup of spice tea then curl up at my desk, feet on the chair or tucked under me because I can’t stand sitting with both feet on the ground. Occasionally a cat or lizard will join me while I’m working and keep my head, neck, or lap warm while I type.

Of course, those are preferable conditions, all too many times I’m scribbling on a napkin, or scrap paper at work while I’m on break, on the bus, or in a loud room while family and roommates play and I try to drown out just enough of the din to focus, and fight the cats away from my keyboard since they think it’s the neatest toy ever. *sigh* good times.

Q:  What books have most influenced your life most?

Monica Furlong’s ‘Juniper’, I always wanted to grow up as strong as the Dorans in that story. Kahlil Gibran’s ‘A Tear and A Smile’, the lessons in that book are what I was raised on. While some kids are quoted bible verses, I was quoted bits from those pages. More secrets of life and happiness were found in ‘The Little Prince’ by Antoine de Saint-Exupery and ‘The Big Friendly Giant’ by Roald Dahl. ‘The Last Unicorn’ by Peter S. Beagle was my favorite book as a child, I must have worn out three or four copies of that book. And ‘The Last Trail’ by Zane Grey, that one not for the contents of the book as much as the memory of being curled up with my brothers, beside our mother in the guest room at my Great Great Uncle Bill’s house in Newburry, snuggled warm against the cold while she read to us in her soft, musical whisper. I remember looking up and seeing my Grandad looking in on us from the doorway and thinking ‘all is right with the world’.

 Q:  What are your current projects?

I have a full length novel finished and awaiting approval (fingers crossed) called ‘In The Shadow of A Hero’. It was supposed to be for the Handcuffs and Lace line, but it ran away with me and got too long. The story is about a homeless man, Maxwell Thomas, full of self-loathing and hiding from his past by trying to save the city he feels he wronged. When Nick Kenna, a truly good hearted cop, stumbles upon him and tries to pull him out of the darkness, they both end up caught in a fight for their lives, and Maxwell’s sanity.

I’ve also got a short story in progress about a young musician who stumbles across the journal of  a soldier from WWII. The more he reads the more he sees the shade of the soldier in his dreams, the more he dreams, the more they blend with reality until he isn’t sure what’s real anymore, or what he wants to be real.

Q:  Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Nature. I can’t begin to tell you how many times, when life began to pull me down, I would retreat to my garden or the woods or water. Without mother Earth about to ground me… it’s terrifying to wonder where I would be today.

Q:  Would you tell us your story of getting “the call?”

 The call hmm?

Metaphysically I think it was more like a telegram buried in the annals of my psyche. I had to keep writing more and more because if I didn’t, I started to talk out scenes to myself…out loud. It was scaring people. My dad thought I was going insane. ^_^

If you mean the physical ‘you’re going to be published’ kind of call. The Email actually got eaten by my Hotmail account. I waited for a month or so and the gave a tentative message to Resplendence asking if I’d just not been chosen or if the story hadn’t been read yet. Instead of the brush off I was expecting I was told that I was going to be published.

Honestly, I think I almost fell out of my chair, I was so shocked.  

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

www.annamayle.com, it’s not much yet, but it’s a start. I also used to write a lot of fanfiction under another name, but that’s a s-e-c-r-e-t. shh.

Join me on Saturday when we read an Excerpt from Anna’s Bedtime Stories for a Stolen Child.

Tina

AuThursday – Alianne Donnelly

Please welcome my fellow Liquid Silver Author Alianne Donnelly.  So tell us Alianne, where are you from?

A: I am originally from Slovakia but for the past eleven years I have been living in California.

Q:  What inspired you to write your first book?

A: Lol the first one was mainly a challenge to see if I could do it – keep a story going for 100k words or more. The very first day I sat at a computer and typed 20 pages. Yeah, it was a mess… But five more books later, I learned how to do it right. It’s true what they say: Practice, practice, practice.

Q:  What books have most influenced your life most?

A: Early on it was fairy tales, and they still fascinate me to this day. They’re the reason I write Happily Ever Afters. Now I read mainly romance and history/mythology books. When life gets really stressful or glum books become my escape. More often than not, what I read tends to influence what I write and how I write it.

Q:  Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

A: Names. This gets me every time. I come up with an amazing place, or a really great character, and I can’t for the life of me think of what to name them. I even put together a notebook of just names I like. Now I read through it and think… what the heck kind of a character would be named that?? Lol

Q: What was it like, getting the “call” that your first book, “Blood Moons” would be published?

A: When I saw the email in my inbox I figured it was another rejection. I read through it, looking for the “regrettably…” part and never got to it. I think I actually stopped breathing and my eyes went wide as saucers when I read it a second time and realized it was an acceptance. I called every person I knew just to say, “I’m getting published!!! Okay, gotta go!”

Q:  Who designed the cover?

A: I honestly don’t know. I believe all the back-and-forth was handled through an intermediary. I wish I knew so I could thank them in person. The cover came out even better than I imagined. I love it!

Q:  What was the hardest part of writing your book?

A: Writer’s block. Most of the time I fly through a story blind and let it develop the way it wants to. The hardest part is when I get stuck. I’ll sit there, staring at my computer screen for hours and end up browsing the web instead of writing. Usually it means I messed up somewhere. I’ve scrapped entire chapters before and rewrote whole sections just to steer the story in a better direction.

Q: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

A: I learned that you should write what you want to read because you never know what an agent or publisher will respond to. Blood Moons is the first of my novels ever to get published and if you’d asked me a year ago, I would never have guessed this would be the one. But I would have written it anyway. =)

Q: Do you have any advice for other writers?

A: Don’t give up. People will put you down, they’ll condescend to you, they’ll tell you it’s all nonsense and nothing will ever come of it. I’ve been there. I’m still there with some people around me. I don’t write for them. I write for myself, because it’s what makes me happy.

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

A: My blog: http://aliannedonnelly.blogspot.com and

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Alianne-Donnelly/136408409725584?ref=ts

 

Join me on Saturday when we read an excerpt from Alianne’s book Blood Moons.

Tina

AuThursday – Rhonda Print

Please welcome fellow Liquid Silver Author Rhonda Print. 

Q. What inspired you to write your first book?

 I love to read and always wanted to write a fiction. When my children all went back to school, I thought, I can do this and began to fulfill my livelong dream of writing. After that the book just took on a life of it’s own.

 Q. Do you have a specific writing style?

 I try to put myself in my characters world. What would he or she do or say? Then I take it from there.

 Q. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

 Wow. There are so many excellent authors to choose from and for different reasons. Nora Roberts writes great romance and family dynamics. Keri Arthur and Laurell K. Hamilton have strong female characters and I just finished reading a series by Kelley Armstrong that was awesome.

 Q. Who designed the covers?

 April Martinez and she absolutely nailed my vision of Ian Nightwalker and the way the characters relate to each other.

 Q. What was the hardest part of writing your book?

 Okay, this may sound strange but the first thing that pops into my head is writing the query letters. The second was coming up with names that fit the personalities of the characters.

 Q. Do you have any advice for other writers?

 Write something that excites you. Don’t write to impress anyone but yourself. When I started this, my goal was to finish writing the book. Then I did and my goal changed to getting a publisher to look at, and so on and so on. I took each process one step at a time and had fun doing it, even when I wanted to pull my hair out. J My current goal is to finish writing book two of the series.

 Q:  How do you make time to write?

 I love this question because the answer is simple. I have a very understanding and supportive husband and children. I tried different scenarios, for example, I’ll try to write x many hours a day, or I’ll write from this time to this time. What really worked out was writing when I felt inspired, even if that means jotting down some notes in the grocery store or doctor’s waiting room. When an idea hits me, I try to get it on paper so I don’t forget it.

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

 Definitely my characters! My husband and I attended the Tucson Festival of Books last year and there were two seminars that I wanted to take, both at the same time. So he went to one with a notebook and pen and I went the other. One of the speakers said that your characters should always be talking to you. Both of our reactions was the same, “how do you shut them up” I can even picture my characters when I’m not writing standing around doing nothing and saying “hey lady, you started this, tell us what to do next!” J

 Q. Would you tell us your story of getting “the call?”

 I don’t know if it was a call. I just had the ideas and characters floating around my brain until I finally had to start writing. Once I did, it took on a life of it’s own.

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

 rhondaprint.blogspot.com  and www.RhondaLPrint.com!

Join me Saturday when we read an excerpt from Rhonda’s story Nightwalker.

Tina