AuThursday – Stanalei Fletcher

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Please welcome Stanalei Fletcher to the Clog Blog.

Thanks so much for having me today as part of my Blog Tour sponsored by Reviews by Crystal. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into my writing world.

SF author photoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

-I was born in small town in Idaho and raised in an even smaller town, still in Idaho. It was there, through my school years, I had an inkling that I might have a bit of talent for writing stories. I’d even won a contest in high school for a short story.

How do you make time to write?

-Until recently, I struggled to get the time I wanted to write. I set aside Tuesday and Thursday evenings and as much as Saturday as I can get after my chores. But during NANOWRIMO this year, I committed to get up early every morning and write. It was such a success, that I’m committed make it my new routine.

What genre are your books?

-I’ve wrapped up a romantic suspense series. There are five books in the series and they were a blast to write. I also have time-travel story and plans for a contemporary small town series. All the books are romances.

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What draws you to this genre?

-I love romances. I love the promise a happy ending where 1 + 1 doesn’t equal 2, it equals 3. It equals “us”. Where two people create a third, greater than two, entity. What other genre offers that?

What are your current projects?

-I’m currently working on the first book in a two book series for a contemporary, home town romance.

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

-I am an introvert. It helps when I need to hole up and spend time alone to create stories. However, it’s a challenge when I need to market and put myself in group to network. I’m learning, but it’s still hard.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

-Great question! I’d have to say my grandchildren. It’s next to impossible to say “no” when there’s something involving my grandchildren. Whether it’s tending or baseball games, it’s challenging to write when the kids want me around.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

-The best advice I can offer aspiring writers is to study craft, study story. If you want to rise with the cream at the top, you need to learn how to write a story that reaches your reader’s heart and mind. Never stop improving. Stories are the stuff life is made of. Make yours worth giving up hours to read.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

-I can be found in a lot of areas on the World Wide Web. If you stop by my website here: http://www.stanaleifletcher.com/index.html, you can find all my other hangouts, including a place to sign up to join my reader’s club.

Thank you so much for having me here and taking time to meet your audience.

 

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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

AuThursday – Vivian Kohlman

LichtPlease welcome Vivian Kohlman to the Clog Blog.  Vivian – Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I was born and raised—by a single mother—in the Washington, DC area, with one older sister. I’m currently married with no kids (intentionally), and still live in the DC area. I love this town so much that even after my sister moved to Los Angeles, I just couldn’t make the switch—though I tried to live there a couple of times.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in English and an MBA in the Management of Global Information Technology (IT). I work as an IT Consultant for federal agencies and private companies, and I love my job…but I love my hobby—writing romance novels—even more! I picked up writing as a hobby only a few years ago and I’m already on my fifth book as part of the Young and Privileged of Washington, DC series. And I’m sure there are many more to come!

Aside from writing, I enjoy travelling and hiking (well, walking around wooded areas—low-impact hiking, you could say). And I love champagne brunches and Friday happy hours, or taking a walk in nice weather.

How did you come up with the idea for your YOUNG AND PRIVILEGED series?

The very first book started with the urge to write about a story of my youth, but making it play out and end much differently than it did in reality. I used the experiences and characters of my friends and me in our teens and twenties (in all of the books). The first book was very personal; the subsequent books flowed from there.

Most people think of Washington, DC as only a political place, full of stuffy congressmen and sleazy lobbyists. But the DC I know is much cooler, and much livelier. My stories focus on the part of society that doesn’t care much for politics—young and privileged adults who are lucky enough to enjoy life and all the nice things this area has to offer.

Why did I focus on this group? Because their life is fundamentally different than the average young adult’s—and it’s exciting. They live like Paris Hilton or a Kardashian—without the fame and notoriety. I think Gossip Girl (the TV show and the books) helped to lead me to this series, but on behalf of DC youth instead of NY.

What are your current projects?

I’m working on book #5 of the series right now, which is a follow-on to book #4 (“Girls Like Me”). Book 5 (still unnamed) continues the story of Ava and her boyfriend; in book 4, they met and got together.

All of the books in the series can be read alone, in any order, but it’s best to follow the series’ books sequentially to best understand the characters and storylines. Since I’m just starting out as a writer, and self-publishing, I’ve begun to try to market the series and have set up my website, Facebook page, etc—these are all in the beginning stages right now, but I plan to work more on them in 2018.

What genre are your books?

Contemporary romance. Although the characters are aged anywhere from late high-school to late twenties, the books are filled with scenarios and language that only mature audiences should read.

What draws you to this genre?

Who doesn’t love a romance? Especially one that is earth shattering and deep…a love that causes emotional elation and is usually followed by destruction. I get lost in contemporary romance stories, and hope my readers get lost in mine!

Writing romances allows me to express stories and characters from a view of what I find romantic—which isn’t always the norm. I don’t write erotica, but some scenes can be steamy. Writing about the ups and downs of falling in love, or out of love, is as much fun to write as reading about it!

How much research do you do?

Because most of what I write is from my own experiences, I don’t need to do too much research. But each story may cause me to research and item or two, and sometimes ask people for their experiences. On top of that, I sometimes choose to try out new locations around the DC area myself.

Most of the locations—bars, restaurants, neighborhoods, etc—I visit myself often, and feature the places I like (or liked, when I was younger) the most.

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

Nope, I write in spurts. I’ve gone as much as six months without writing anything new; alternately, I’ve written over 3,000 words in a day before. I have a process worked out where I write the basic story very quickly (usually when the story strikes me), then spend the next 6 months or so revising and adding to it. Since this is just a hobby, I want to make sure I continue to enjoy it, so I put no pressure on myself to write.

Which writers inspire you?

Writers? No writer directly inspires me, but I do get inspired by movies, songs, and TV shows. So much so that I plan to stat a blog someday soon that defines all the inspirations for each book. Book 3 was inspired by a dream I had, the nuances of all the books are influenced with whatever music I’m drawn to at the time, and Games of Thrones inspired a main character in Book 4.

Although I can’t say other authors inspire me, I do enjoy reading other peoples’ work. Ironically, I like easy-to-read romance novels that are contemporary or fantasy, such as:

Jessica Sorrensen

Suzanne Collins

Bella Forrest

Cecily von Zeigesar

Jane Austen

L J Smith

Stephenie Meyer

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.viviankohlman.com

https://www.facebook.com/viviankohlman/

https://www.instagram.com/viviankohlman/

amazon.com/author/viviankohlman

All of my books are currently FREE for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. In the future, I may move to other platforms.

Do you have a sexy teaser you’d like to share with us?Book4Series

From Girls Like Me, Book 4 of the Young and Privileged of Washington, DC

I walked straight to him, knowing that the right thing to do would be talking to Miko first. But I didn’t care; I could still feel King’s arms around me, and that made me feel fantastic.

“Hey thanks for taking me off the floor,” I said, sitting down next to him on the sofa, but not too close.

“Don’t mention it. I saw the fight brewing from up here, so went down to warn you girls. You were about to be in the middle of it and my yacht’s parked closer than yours…I didn’t want to have to take you back to my place and get blood all over my pristine decks,” he said, not looking at me once, just staring at his phone.

And we’re back to mean King.

I wasn’t sure what to say, but I didn’t move an inch either. I pulled my eyes away from his face and looked down, resting on the amazingly large watch he was wearing—it was a Breitling that had diamonds around the face and it glittered slightly when the club lights hit it. Strong/soft, basic/decadent, nice/mean, hates me/wants me…this guy is an enigma.

Why is he being a dick again? Didn’t he just purposely save me from harm? So why is he acting like he hates me now?

“Uh huh. Well, I can take care of myself, you know,” I said, feeling hurt for some strange reason.

“No, you can’t. You didn’t move. Every other person outside of the fight fled the dance floor—you stood in one place, dumbstruck,” he said.

He still hasn’t looked at me once.

“Have I done something to greatly offend you, King?”

“No.”

“You seem to be, I don’t know, angry with me,” I said tentatively.

“You’re wrong.”

“So, what’s up with the short answers and you not even looking at me?”

He put his phone down and looked me directly in the eyes. Damn his eyes are so beautiful. A heat wave went through my body when our eyes locked.

“I’m pissed as hell for having to touch you. You felt so fucking good,” he said, putting a lot of emphasis on the last part of that statement.

 

AuThursday – Nix Whittaker

author photoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

I was born in South Africa but because of the violence and political turmoil, my parents moved the whole family to New Zealand. The best move ever. It also helped to broaden my view of the world. I work full time as a high school teacher so a little cliché that the English teacher is writing books.

How do you make time to write?

I’m single without kids so not too hard to find the time. The problem is not to be distracted by everything else in my life. Also, I have trained myself to write anywhere. As part of my job, I’m often lugging around a laptop so I write whenever I have time, a lunch break, waiting for parents at a parent-teacher interview. I think we would be surprised by how much time we waste waiting for something.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Yes and no. If you have writer’s block it is your brain trying to tell you something is wrong with your story. You have to figure out what is wrong before you can write again. I usually leave things to stew in the back of my mind and start writing short stories while I leave my subconscious to come up with another dilemma for my character instead of getting kidnapped for the sixth time. That is my block at the moment. Out of my 7 books that are published my character getting kidnapped is the number one crisis.

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

I write Science Fiction Romance. Though really I consider steampunk to be more fantasy than Science Fiction. I love it because you can deal with serious issues with a lightness to it. I have a lot of discussion about prejudice in all my books but somehow it is easier to write about when people are being prejudiced against dragons.

How are you publishing your recent book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)

I’m an Indie publisher all the way. I didn’t even look at Trad. I’ve had this discussion with fellow authors, some who are exploring both. I like the freedom and the speed that Indie gives me.

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

I can be both. I’m originally an Introvert but since my job literally requires me to be bubbly and outgoing I’ve learned to be the extrovert as well. The skills I’ve learned as an extrovert has given me a thicker skin to criticism so I recommend at least exploring all aspects of yourself and making yourself more flexible.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Give yourself permission to write a bad book. You can always fix it but getting to the end is more important. You can learn so much from writing a book to the finish that it doesn’t matter if it is terrible. You don’t have to know everything when you start.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.nixwhittaker.com

Join me on Saturday when we read an excerpt from Nix’s Book, Blazing Blunderbuss. ~Tina

AuThursday – Irina Shapiro

Irina (400x400) - CopyTell us a little about yourself and your background?

I was born in Moscow, Russia, and came to the US when I was twelve years old.  Unlike many Russian immigrants, I had no trouble adjusting and becoming part of a new culture.  I found it extremely liberating to have choices in what I read and what type of music I could listen to.  My literary interests turned to British history, and it’s still one of my favorite subjects and the background for most of my books.

How do you make time to write?

I left my job ten years ago to focus on my autistic son, so I’m a stay-at-home mom.   I’ve always been a morning person, which means that I do my best work at the crack of dawn.  I sit down to write as soon as my son leaves for school and keep at it for at least three hours each day.     Sometimes I’m really not in the mood, or the ideas aren’t flowing, but when I open my manuscript and put my fingers on the keyboard, I instantly get sucked into the story, and the words just come.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I haven’t suffered from any prolonged bouts of writer’s block, but like any writer, I’m afraid of running out of ideas, and I think that one day I will.  We all tend to return to certain themes and time periods in our writing, and eventually, it becomes repetitive and feels regurgitated.  Once I think that that’s beginning to happen, I will either stop writing altogether or maybe switch genres and try my hand at something new.   I like cozy mysteries set in England.  That could be an option.  I could be the next Agatha Christie.

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

I write time-travel romance and modern gothic.  I love those genres because I can incorporate my love of history and travel into the narrative, enriching my characters’ experience and broadening their horizons and range of emotion.   Time travel opens up all kinds of new possibilities since my characters can go anywhere, anytime.  I can allow them to come back, or leave them trapped in a time period of my choice and watch them struggle for survival.

And with modern gothic, I can add a supernatural dimension without going full-on paranormal.    For example, the main character in my new series, Echoes from the Past, has the ability to see into the past when holding an object that once belonged to the dead.  As an archeologist and a historian, she finds this gift very useful, if at times frightening and unsettling, because she gets drawn into the stories of the dead and relives their tragedies.

How are you publishing your recent book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)

My newest book, The Lovers (The Echoes from the Past: Book 1) is a Kindle Scout winner and has recently been published by Kindle Press, the new publishing branch of Amazon.   I’m excited to see how it will perform against my self-published books, which I promote regularly.

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

I think I’m actually a little of both.  I love being around people, socializing, and getting involved, but I also enjoy being alone.  I spend a lot of time in my head, but I’m rarely bored.  I have all these thoughts and ideas that frequently find their way into my stories.  I also quite enjoy doing research.  I’ve learned so many new things since I began writing, and I look forward to learning more.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

Just do it, because ultimately, that’s what it all comes down to.  We either do something, or we don’t.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

My advice to aspiring writers is to stick with their projects, get professional, but affordable help, and grow a thick skin.  There will be many people who will criticize their work and hurt their feelings, especially in the beginning.  Bad reviews and cruel comments come with the territory.  If they truly want to succeed, they need to look beyond that and keep moving forward.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

You can find me at www.irinashapiro.com

https://www.facebook.com/IrinaShapiro2/

or on Twitter at Irina Shapiro Author@Irinashapiro2

Writer Wednesday – The Holidays

X-mas WritingI’ve returned from a holiday  in early December and now Christmas is fast approaching.   I’ve gotten most of my shopping done, and need to mail presents.

My goals for the month of December were small.  I knew with NANOWRIMO behind me and Thanksgiving being the sign that Christmas was fast approaching, I would feel the rush of the season.

So I put my submissions to agents on hold until the new year. When I do my goal setting for next year, I’ll review whether I still want an agent or if I want to navigate on my own.  I’ve been slowly writing during the season to maintain momentum.   But if all I do is my Morning Pages, so be it.

I also set a goal to read during the season.   I’m a fairly avid reader anyway, but I wanted to look at the season as well…holidays.  I’d lost my job and I didn’t want to stress about writing when I might be blocked because of stresses I hadn’t anticipated.

My goal – to keep the season simple and enjoyable.

Tina

AuThursday – Leslie Scott

Please give a warm welcome to my fellow RWA Online member Leslie Scott.  I’m so happy to have her joining us.  Leslie, Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Well, I’m a full-time writer and homeschool educator of my gifted ten-year-old son (he teaches me math and dissects sheep brains, no kidding). I’ve been a writer my entire life (winning awards and contests all through school), but it wasn’t until about five years ago, I decided to actively pursue my passion. Since then, I live and breathe the characters and stories I write. Nothing, to me, is more exciting than a good story (whether I write it or not).

Currently, I write spicy Contemporary and New Adult Romance through The Wild Rose Press, though I’m hoping to dabble in a more quirky paranormal romance series soon.

What excites you most about your current WIP?

When you read my new release (The Finish Line) you’ll be introduced to the heroine’s snarky baby sister, Breanna. My current WIP is the third novel of the Arkadia Fast series and Breanna’s novel. She’s cocky, sassy, and all sorts of fun! Also, rather than street racing (the backdrop for the other two novels in the series), Breanna takes us into the world of big-time drag racing. So, not only is she a different type of character for me to write, but the world is brand new for me.

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

Nah, not usually. As long as I’m writing something, I’m happy. Some days I can throw five to ten thousand words to a page. Other days I’m lucky to hit five hundred.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

No. There was a time when I was a jerk about this and said I didn’t believe writer’s block existed. But then, I read where a famous author said if you get writer’s block then something is wrong with your story and you need to fix it. That got me to thinking. When I first started out there were a lot of half-finished manuscripts (maybe one day I’ll revisit those, lol). Because in truth, I had no real grasp on what conflict really was. Not so much that I could complete an entire novel. Once I figured that out, finishing them became easier. If you’re stuck, there’s a reason.

For me? I don’t allow myself to get stuck. I live by the rule of three. At any given moment, I have at least three projects going. If I can’t figure something out with one, I move on to another. Currently: I have a novel (the third of my Arkadia Fast series) in first draft stages, a novel, and novella in edits with editors, a romantic suspense novel I’m revising to submit, and a proposal I’m working on submitting. It sounds like a lot, but it keeps me motivated and inspired.

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

I’ve only ever submitted (unsolicited) one manuscript. With that manuscript, I received a mixed bag of rejections and requests (and eventually multiple contract offers from small presses). A few I laughed (form letters that had zero relevance to the submission), a few I rolled my eyes (like that one editor who told me I needed a critique partner before I submitted again, not realizing that my critique partner was a bestselling romance author), and one, in particular, was like a punch in the gut.

The gut-punch came after weeks of a back and forth with the editor and her enthusiasm for my writing and my novel (we’re talking BIG house) only to get a form rejection with no personal response. Then a friend pointed out to me that just because you’re rejected doesn’t mean you aren’t good. It means at that time, that particular publisher doesn’t have a place for your novel.

I suck it up and keep trying. I make sure to be polite and kind and grateful that an editor took the time out of their busy schedule to talk to me and especially they read or make comments on my manuscript. I make those connections because I never know when I might have exactly what they are looking for.

Can you tell us your story of getting “the call” (or e-mail)?

It’s a depressing story, actually. No party, no celebration. I was sick as a dog, sitting in the waiting room at the urgent care clinic when I got the email. I looked at it, made a strained attempt to smile, coughed up half my lung, and then went back to see the doctor. I told my doctor I just sold my first novel and she celebrated with a little dance. But me, I was too sick to care in that moment.

About two weeks later it finally hit me. From then on, it’s been rather busy and non-stop. My dream has become reality, it’s a surreal and amazing thing.

How do you relax?

Writing or reading, usually. Both relax me and make me happy. There are a lot of other things we have to do as authors, so sitting down for the sake of just writing takes my mind off those responsibilities as well as everything else that comes with being an adult.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

In the words of Nora Roberts: ASFK. Ass to seat, fingers to keys. Get your butt in the chair and write. Never stop writing.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

My website:  http://lesliescottromance.com

On facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lesliescottwrites

On twitter: @leslieSwrites

Join me on Saturday when we read an excerpt from the Finish Line.~Tina