Getting to know Ellen Green Andrews #author #contemporary #erotica #romance

I’m pleased to introduce my guest today, author Ellen Green Andrews, who brings her love of architecture to her characters and stories. But let’s take a gander at her bio and then we’ll find out more about her writing process, shall we?

Ellen Green Andrews is a retired nurse, with a penchant for reading, with a broad and eclectic genre choice. Encouraged by her husband and grown children, she began writing her own stories five years ago. She is an accomplished seamstress, and has a collection of textiles from around the globe thanks to a friend who travels extensively. She loves to paint, and crafts of all sorts. She is a certified landscape designer, with a concentration on residential design. She is proud of the fact that she has 174 college credits but not a single degree, always feeling being broadly educated was more important than adhering to a degree seeking curriculum. She grew up in Northern Indiana but has lived throughout the United States, following her husband’s military career, she resides at present in North Central Florida. She is member of WFWA and ALLI.

You can find her here:   Website   *     Facebook      *   Twitter

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Ellen: I have published 2 novels and I’m currently working on my third.

Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Ellen: The first two are Romance (steamy) and the current book is more women’s fiction. I like a happy every after ending. I like reading most genre’s but when it came to writing, this felt right for me. I guess I am a romantic at heart. The characters come to life for me in this genre. The current novel is a love story, but multigenerational. I wanted to show that even though the current younger generation thinks they invented love and sex, that is far from what is true. I also think young people think problems in relationships are exclusive to them. Sex, love and all that entails is the same from one generation to the next.

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?

Ellen: Growing up I wanted to be an architect, but it was at a time when women were not encouraged to pursue higher education in anything other than education or nursing.  I took drafting in my sophomore year of high school but my drafting table was in the far back corner of the room. I think if the teacher could have set me outside on the window ledge he would have. I have always loved architecture so some element of that will probably always be a theme in my novels. I am also a crafter and love working with paper, and while writing my first book, took a course on paper making. So my characters, regardless of how flawed they might be, will always be clever and DIY’ers.

The book I am currently working on features cooking which is another love of mine. This one will have recipes from a cookbook that once belonged to my grandmother.

If love and sex are included in a business deal, can it still be called business?

Charleigh Chace lives in Naperville Illinois. She spent her childhood and youth in the gymnastics gym and her adulthood pursuing her MBA and starting her upscale stationery store. Maybe that’s why at the age of twenty-seven she is still a virgin. Now the business is in serious financial trouble, and the money she borrowed from her parents, which they will soon need to retire is in jeopardy. The only solution in sight looks like bankruptcy, abandoning her dream, and moving far from the parents she has already let down. Then Charleigh meets Elias Graham, a thirty-one year old junk man. He works in the business his parents have spent their entire married life building, and though he believes they need to retire, they won’t hear of it until he demonstrates he has his feet firmly planted in the business. Through his acumen, Elias helped their little business named Jeff’s Salvage Yard, grow into a multi-million dollar business by the name of Urban Recovery; one that Hollywood turns to when they need historically accurate set elements. A chance encounter at a bookstore brings Elias and Charleigh together where Elias proposes a business deal that benefits both of them: Charleigh poses as his rock solid girlfriend; he pays her to do so, and everyone can move on. Fate has other plans for them. Both fall in love with the other but know the deal is off the table the moment either reveals their true feelings. The inability to say how they truly feel about each other leads to misunderstandings, heartache and separation. Only time and circumstances beyond their control will determine whether they can find a future together.

Amazon

Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?

Ellen: Yes, I am fortunate to have a dedicated office space. It doubles as my painting space also, but the room is all mine and I treasure it. I’ve never had my own space where I could leave things out and come back to at a later time. But there is a trade-off for all this space. It means all our children are grown and on their own. I am thankful that they come back often and visit. Revisions are completed in the same place. It is a room that is at the back of the house, so very quiet and peaceful.

Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?

Ellen: Coffee is my drug of choice and all of my MC have a caffeine addiction. I listen to music sometimes, but it can’t be anything with words as I always want to sing along. It seems the brain can’t handle two language tasks at the same time. Either sing or write, but not both. I can however listen to opera’s sung in a foreign language as long as it isn’t one I know. Then it’s just like instrumental to me. I tend to be a night owl which means I tend to sleep late, so writing begins somewhere around ten o’clock in the morning, coffee mug in hand. Unless appointments get in the way I will write until about 6 pm. When I wander into the living room, my husband greets me with “you are home!” which I find funny as I’ve been home all day. lol

Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?

Ellen: I tried the query/agent route with my first book and after 8 solid months and no requests, I became frustrated with the entire process. As I have read more about the publishing world and the agents world, I get even more disgusted with the entire traditional publishing route. This is not mean to be a slam to E.L. James, but most writers will give her Fifty Shades book the same critique. They are not well written, grammar wise, but they are certainly titillating and guaranteed money makers. And that is all it took for a traditional publishing house to pick them up. I find traditional publishers to be fickle, saying they want “good literature” but then they publish some of the worst rubbish because they know it will make them money. I lost faith that they would recognize good literature when it’s presented to them.

My other pet peeve is agents who develop new vocabulary, to turn you down. Recently I read an article where the writer queried an agent and the agent requested chapters. The writer with great hope sent off the requested chapters only to be told her MC “lacked agency” but why not just say, “your main character is allowing the plot to direct her, instead of her directing the plot? So those of us who don’t swim in the publishing wading pool have to google the vocabulary to see why we’ve been rejected. Seems those agents take great pride in coming up with creative ways and confusing vocabulary to reject you. You end up mistrusting not just the publishing houses but agents also.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

Ellen: I tell a really good story. I am a wordsmith, but I don’t believe in using a prodigious vocabulary for storytelling. Interesting language does not need to be pretentious. Reaching people’s hearts and making them become of the book is what I aim for. I am told by everyone who reads my books that that is exactly how they felt as if they were part of the story. 

Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?

Ellen: For me it is situations. From there I ask, “what if” and that is all it takes.

Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is it more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?

Ellen: I may not always be happy about interruptions but life happens. I am pretty fluid in when I write. After writing my last book All The Words We Didn’t Say, I took off two months and traveled with my husband throughout the U.K. After we returned, I sat down to do the editing. I turned it over to my beta’s while I was gone. That allowed them plenty of time answer the questionnaire that I have all my beta’s do. It helps so much for the editing process.

Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?

Ellen: For a while I’d given up my office when our youngest son, his wife, and two boys stayed with us when they were house hunting. I’d become so accustomed to having that dedicated space that I found it difficult to write anywhere else. Then holidays crowd in and that takes time out of writing time. Once I start writing I like to go at it hard until I am done. When I have disruptions, it takes me a long time to get back on track, often I have to read what I have written to know where I want to go. I am a pantser, with a deep seated need for organization so I pants, then go back and form an outline to keep track of dates and events and make sure everything meshes.

Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?

Ellen: I have a 4th book that I wrote during NaNoWriMo, but I have not edited. It is not strictly Women’s literature and has a basis in truth, so the editing will be more difficult for me. I did that two years ago and not since. I am not sure I ever will again.

Betty:  What are you reading right now?

Ellen: Five Things by Lynne Marino

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Ellen: I don’t really have a favorite. I read historical fiction, romantic comedy, suspense, sexy steamy romance. I love a well-constructed novel set during WWII. I like and have an incredible need to explore new things and ideas that just about anything is game. I am not a big fan of paranormal/Warlocks and Witches sort of writing.

Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?

Ellen: Outlander series. Leon Uris, everything he’s written I’ve read many times. Ken Follett is one I could read again and again, although his last few have been daunting and I’d probably not re-read them. I’ve re-read Dan Brown a few times. I’ve read Nevil Shute’s A Far Country many times. Michael Grumley is a recent writer I’ve read. His Breakthrough series is totally fascinating. I’ve read them twice.

Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?

Ellen: I don’t necessarily read the genre I’m writing in. If I see something I think is interesting I will read it regardless of whether it’s in my genre or not.

Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

Ellen: Full time writer.

Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?

Ellen: It’s fickle. Never forget they are out to make money and putting out good literature is secondary to making money.

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Ellen: Put your butt in a chair and write. There isn’t a secret to it. You must put words on paper (or into a document) for them to become a book. Don’t worry if it’s good writing, just write, you can always go back and make it good. Find some good books on writing. Read Story Genius by Lisa Cron, The Forest For The Trees by Betsy Lerner are both good guides.

Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?

Ellen: Temporary title is In The Margins and it is based on a cookbook of my grandmother’s. It is handwritten. It is more a diary of her early love life with recipes thrown in. She says she wrote it that way because her mother would not question or look at a recipe book, but most likely would a diary. I am shocked at some of the revelations, but oh, grandma you were a thoroughly modern woman!

Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?

Ellen: I want to write a suspense. I have an idea and I have been keeping track of the basic ideas and developing characters in my head, but that is down the road a bit.

I love that you’re working on a cookbook slash diary, Ellen! I bet that’s a fascinating read. Thanks for sharing your background and process with us.

Happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Why I wrote Notes of Love and War #WWII #Baltimore #historical #fiction #books #inspiration #amwriting #amreading @Baltimore_City

“Where did you get the idea to write…?” This is a common question I receive from my readers. So I thought I’d share the genesis of a book I wrote that is very near and dear to my heart. Notes of Love and War was inspired by, though most definitely is not the story of, my parents’ courtship correspondence before, during, and after World War Two. Let me explain.

After my father died in December 2011, my grief and sorrow lingered for years. He was one of my champions and best friend all of my life. Six years passed before I could bring myself to go through his accumulated letters and papers. Part of my reluctance stemmed from knowing that those letters included dozens if not hundreds that were exchanged between my mother and father before they married. My oldest sister had forewarned me they were somewhat “racy” but what exactly did that mean? Just how personal were the contents?

Stacks of my dad’s letters… and this doesn’t include all the Victory mail during the war!

I sorted them out by year, then by month and day. And there are a lot of letters! Then I read them. One by one, with growing interest as the insights into my parents when they were young (early to mid-twenties) played out in my hands. The jokes, the concerns, the sharing about their daily struggles with finances and family matters. The songs and books they enjoyed. Hints of intrigue and private moments shared and cherished. The resulting overarching concept of how they grew to love each other through their letters became an idea I wanted to explore in a fictional setting. I wanted to replicate the intimacy evoked through their words but also through the handling of a piece of paper that could physically, tangibly transmit those thoughts into the hands of another. The sense of intimacy coming from holding the same piece of paper as your lover which leant a shared moment of contact over long distances.

Letters sorted by year, not including those between my parents nor V-mail.

My mother’s letters proved far more enlightening to me than my father’s. Why? You’d think I’d have been more keenly aware of my mother’s attitudes and desires, one woman to another. To an extent I had spoken with my mother about her life as a young woman, just not nearly as much as I wish had in my later years. I knew, for example, that she’d been engaged to another man during the war but that they’d ended their engagement and he went on to New York to become a lawyer. But…what I didn’t know, what Mom had never told me, was that the man’s mother had something to do with them breaking up. Mom hinted about it in one of her letters to Dad, but never disclosed what exactly. Talk about getting my imagination spinning! What would a mother have to do to break up an engagement? Perhaps I don’t really want to know.

Dad, likewise, had frequently and at some length talked to me about his life and the decisions he made, including those related to moving from Miami, Florida, to Baltimore, Maryland, in order to marry my mother. His comment to me, which is echoed and substantiated within the letters, was that his job in Miami fell through and he knew that Mom wouldn’t be happy in the hotter climate and so far from her family. (An aside: my mother’s side of the family has lived in Maryland for many generations. I was also born and raised in that beautiful state.) So he decided to move north to make her happy. This self-sacrifice for the woman he loved with all his heart resonated with me, as both his daughter and an author of romantic fiction.

So the initial kernel of interest in writing what has evolved into Notes of Love and War came from wanting to recreate that intimacy developing through letters. Of getting to know one another through what they shared about themselves on paper. Of course, that’s not enough of a premise to build a novel-length story, but it’s a strong foundation.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll share other elements that I’ve woven together to create the framework for the story. Elements such as spies and journalism and music, each based in the actual history of Baltimore and Maryland during the 1940s. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about my journey through my hometown history as imagined in my novel.

Happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Now available for preorder! Notes of Love and War will release on July 28, 2020, in honor of my dad’s 100th birthday!

Audrey Harper needs more than home and hearth to satisfy her self-worth despite being raised with the idea that a woman’s place is in the home. Working as a music critic for the city newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland, during the Second World War, she’s enjoyed both financial freedom and personal satisfaction in a job well done. When she uncovers evidence of German spies working to sabotage a secret bomber plane being manufactured in her beloved city, she must choose between her sense of duty to protect her city and the urgings of her boss, her family, and her fiancé to turn over her evidence to the authorities. But when her choices lead her and her sister into danger, she is forced to risk life and limb to save her sister and bring the spies to justice.

Set against the backdrop of the flourishing musical community during the 1940s in Baltimore, Notes of Love and War weaves together the pleasure of musical performance with the dangers of espionage and spying.

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Getting to Know Skye Taylor #author of #contemporary #romance #timetravel #politicalintrigue #books #fiction

Please help me welcome Skye Taylor as my guest author today on Betty Bolte’s Musings. Skye has a varied and interesting background she brings to her stories, but I’ll let her tell you more about that! Take a peek at her bio and then we’ll get started.

Skye Taylor lives in the oldest city in the US where she participates in historical reenactments, walks the beach and volunteers at the USO when she’s not writing. Loving travel and adventure, she’s a skydiver and sailor, camped on tropical Islands, climbed a volcano, ridden an elephant, rafted down rivers, snorkeled over coral reefs and explored cities and castles in 15 countries on 5 continents. She spent two years in Peace Corps (2002-2004). She’s a mom and grandmother and the author of the Camerons of Tide’s Way contemporary romance series: Falling for Zoe, Loving Meg, Trusting Will, Healing a Hero, Keeping His Promise and Worry Stone, a time travel romance: Iain’s Plaid and a mainstream political intrigue: The Candidate. Her newest project is the Jesse Quinn Mystery series: Bullseye due out in February. Skye is a member of Florida Writers Association, Sisters in Crime, RWA and Women’s Fiction Writers.

You can find out more about her at www.Skye-writer.com or you can follow her on Facebook, All Author, or Instagram.

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Skye: The Candidate, Falling for Zoe, Loving Meg, Trusting Will, Keeping His Promise, Healing a Hero, Worry Stone, Iain’s Plaid

Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Skye: With the exception of The Candidate, my books to date have been romance, 6 contemporary (series) and 1 time-travel. The Candidate is a mainstream and was written because the story just grew out of a combination of experiences, my own, my brother’s and others who came of age during the Vietnam War. But it’s a contemporary story of a man running for president who suddenly comes face to face with a piece of his past during the campaign. He has two formidable adversaries which makes it a suspense and an intrigue. I wrote romance to start with because I love a good love story, but have some trouble keeping my stories within the sometimes confining limits of the genre. I guess I like pushing the envelope, but I’ve had good reviews so perhaps someone else also likes the same thing. I am now working on a mystery series – I also like a challenge and have discovered mysteries are very challenging, especially since I am basically a pantser. I create characters with detailed dossiers, put them in an inciting incident and let them run with the ball. But having to know how it’s going to end is the challenge, leaving hints along the way and still having little in the way of an outline.

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?

Skye: Ever heard of a “worry stone?” A small, smooth stone you can carry in your pocket. Something you can touch, rub, hold, etc. while calming your worries. My mom had dozens and I often found them on the beaches in Maine where I lived at the time, made incredibly smooth by the constant action of the waves and sand. In Worry Stone, my heroine, Sandy finds just such a stone on her first date with Cam and she presents it to him, explaining what it is for. He is doubtful about the powers of this little bit of rock, but because she gave it to him, he put it in his pocket. There were times he felt nothing but despair and came close to tossing it into the sea, but something made him return it to his pocket. As this book opens, this little worry stone is still in his pocket when he is standing at the window in the waiting room of the local hospital while Sandy is rushed into emergency surgery, her life hanging in the balance. He pulls it out, still warm from his pocket, while he’s praying for her.

Is love enough to heal a soul-wounded Marine?

Cam wasn’t planning on getting involved with anyone until he put the war firmly behind him but the hope and love Sandy brings to his troubled heart is irresistible. Will Sandy’s love be enough to bring Cam back from the edge of despair and convince him to get the help he so desperately needs? Is his love for her strong enough for him to pull his life together and be the man she believes in?

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Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?

Skye: I converted the second bedroom in my beach bungalow to a library/office. I have bookshelves on three walls filled with books of all kinds, fiction, non-fiction and books on writing. My desk sits beneath a window that overlooks the ocean, so when I’ve hit a wall, or need to think, need inspiration, I can sit back and watch the endless parade of waves, listen to the roar of the sea, and work out where to go next with my book.

Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?

Skye: My best time of day for writing is mid-afternoon to 8ish in the evening. Since I’m a widow with grown kids, I can go ahead and get immersed right through what would normally be the supper hour. But I’ve also been known to think about where my book is going after I’ve climbed into bed for the night, come up with a whole new plot point, a scene complete with dialog or something I just don’t want to disappear in the night, so I’ll get up, wake the computer up and type away until I get the ideas outlined. Then I can fall asleep knowing right where I’ll start in the morning.
Sometimes I do put music on, but it has to have no words, and the tempo has to match the scenes I’m writing. If it’s tense, urgent, dangerous, etc., maybe it’ll be Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. If it’s a romantic scene, perhaps music by André Rieu or Johann Strauss. I do have an entire collection on my laptop, a compilation of my favorite music to write by, from a dozen different composers and artists.
One other writing ritual, although not strictly a ritual, is to pick out a talisman that fits each book I write and it sits beside my monitor while I’m writing the book. My brother made me a lovely display case where all those talismans end up after the book has been published. Currently I have a pair of cufflinks while I’m writing a mystery and my heroine is a deputy detective. And, of course, while writing Worry Stone there was a whole row of smooth little stones sitting next to my keyboard.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

Skye: Good question. You might want to ask my readers, but perhaps it’s creating complex characters that captivate my readers and make them care. I am not a plotter. I create in depth dossiers on all my main characters and somewhat less detailed for all secondary ones. Once I know these folk really well, I drop them into the middle of the inciting incident and let them tell me how the story is going to unfold. Although I usually have a very clear idea of where and how the story will end, my characters really drive the plot.

Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?

Skye: Well, first I have a nugget of an idea. I don’t really brainstorm to create them – they just come to me. I people watch everywhere and sometimes ideas come to me there. Sometimes it’s an experience I’ve had or someone I know has. Once when I was exploring an island off the coast of Maine with a fascinating history, I stood on an old foundation and the big stone beneath my feet wiggled. I jumped off before I could fall into the yawning, grass lined old cellar, but on my way home the thought came to me: “What if I had fallen in, hit my head and woken up again in another century. Which, of course became the start of my time travel romance, IAIN’S PLAID.

Then I brainstorm the characters who will fit into this nugget of an idea and they take over.

Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is it more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?

Skye: As a retired widow with my kids all grown, I am very fortunate that I don’t have to squeeze my writing into a structured lifestyle. I live on the beach so when I’m stumped, I just go for a walk on the beach and let the story rattle around in my brain, come home and type it all up. Or, as I said before, whenever an idea hits, even in the middle of the night, I have the freedom to just sit down and write.

Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?

Skye: Most recent struggle was and is the learning curve for moving from writing romance to mystery. As a panster, I have never had detailed plots, but with a mystery, I needed to know all those details, how to present them and where. So learning to at least do a bare bones outline was a challenge. Also the change from romance to mystery brought a whole new feeling to the process and the story itself.

Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?

Skye: No. If it were any other month of the year, I’d have given it a go, but I have a big family with 12 birthdays between Oct 20 and Dec 18, plus five kids and 13 grandchildren, and 8 spouses, a sister, niece and more to prepare for Christmas. And since I almost always travel for Christmas, this means having all my gifts bought, sewn, or created, wrapped and shipped by mid-December. Thus November is an impossible month for me to commit to anything like NaNoWriMo. I wish they’d choose March instead. NOTHING happens in March except St Patrick’s day so why not that month instead of the outrageously busy month of November.

Betty: What are you reading right now?

Skye: I just finished the most recent Tom Clancy book as well as a romance by a new author. I also have three books going I’ve promised a review for. My current book in progress just for pleasure is David Baldacci’s The Escape, and to enlarge my understanding of current national affairs, The Problem with Socialism by Thomas DiLorenzo.

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Skye: I used to read mostly romance, but that genre has become so narrow and same old same old, I have moved on to mystery, action adventure, espionage, and military thrillers.

Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?

Skye: Outlander, by Dianna Gabaldon – which I first read when it came out more than 20 years ago. I also have an entire shelf of W.E.B. Griffin, all of Georgette Heyer, and a Maine author most have never heard of, Elizabeth Ogilvie. I’ve read all of them more than once and now and then I take one down and read it again. But less often these days with so many books coming out every day and a finite amount of time to read them in.

Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?

Skye: Never. I always read a totally different genre than what I’m writing.

Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

Skye: Writing is my day job. The fruits of retirement….

Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?

Skye: I wish readers could fully grasp the absolute reliance any author today has on getting reviews. The number of reviews is what drives the search engines and the Amazon algorithm. Without reviews it’s hard for even the most compelling book to get noticed.

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Skye: Develop a thick skin and ask for honest critique of your work. We all, even already published authors, learn from the things people tell us about our work. Believe in yourself and never give up. We all have dozens of rejections so don’t get discouraged.

Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?

Skye: My next book out is Bullseye, the first in my new series: The Jesse Quinn Mysteries. I’ve had a grand time with the research, joining the Citizens Law Enforcement Academy, going on ride-alongs and picking the brain of some detectives who’ve been on the job for years.

Jesse Quinn used to be a dutiful daughter and wife … until she discovered her husband was cheating on her and the promises her mother made about being a lady turned sour. Then she followed her heart and into the footsteps of her dad, her idol who had died in the line of duty when she was twelve. She’s been on the job long enough now to have risen to detective and she has a fun new partner who is a perfect foil for her style as they pursue investigations on the Major Crimes Squad of the St John’s County Sheriff’s Department.

Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?

Skye: I already have one mainstream, political intrigue out, The Candidate (https://amzn.to/2C8Zg83). It was the most challenging book I’ve written to date and one day I’d like to try another mainstream novel.

You’re tempting me with the idea of a ride-along… Did they have those in the past, do you think? Anyway, thanks, Skye for stopping by and sharing with us today.

Happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Breakfast Martha Washington Style #colonial #foods #recipes #research #historical #fiction

Years ago I began researching colonial life with a particular fondness for recipes from the 1700s. At the time I was writing my historical romance series, A More Perfect Union, set in Charleston during the American Revolution and so I wanted to have an all-encompassing view of the life and times. Food is a very natural and important part of survival. You may recall I’ve spent a good deal of time sampling and converting colonial recipes to ones we can enjoy today. In fact, the stewed pears have become one of my hubby’s favorites!

The covers for the 5 books in the A More Perfect Union series.

As part of learning about Martha Washington before writing Becoming Martha Washington: A Novel which is planned for release this summer, I tried making sausage and flapjacks that George would enjoy. In fact, Martha included the sausage recipe in her own cookbook.

Before I started, I checked with my hubby to see if he felt brave and daring. After all, while in general we both enjoy the same things, sometimes the recipes don’t turn out as expected. I chose Oxford Kate’s Sausage (1749) and Slapjacks for Ichabod Crane (1796) out of my favorite historical recipe book Our Founding Foods by Jane Tennant. While I realize that 1796 for the slapjakcs is rather late compared to the earlier date for the sausage, I’m guessing that the recipe didn’t change significantly from 1749, just that it wasn’t deemed necessary to write it down before the end of the century because it is such a simple one. But not one I’d have thought of, let me tell you!

I wonder how frequently the Washingtons dined on these sausages. I also wonder if they enjoyed them or adapted the recipe in some way to suit their palates, like I’ve done. For one thing, beef suet is not readily available in the United States today, so I had to find a substitute. I imagine they harvested their own fats/greases when they slaughtered animals on the plantation, so they didn’t face the dilemma of finding an appropriate ingredient.

Let’s start with the sausages. The Tennant recipe called for a food processor, which I do not own, and I’m pretty sure the cooks in Martha’s kitchen didn’t either. A quick online search revealed several other ways to make sausage: 18th Century Recipes: Sausages the 18th Century Way  which shares how the British made them, and Smokehouses which included the fact that pigs were only butchered in cold winter months and then their meat smoked. So why does the recipe call for fresh pork? Makes me wonder again about what might have been included in the actual recipe. But my concerns about seasonal availability aside, let’s see how breakfast turned out.

Ingredients and finished sausages and slapjacks. Yum!

For the sausages I had to make several changes to the original recipe, including shredded butter in lieu of the beef suet, and garlic powder instead of mace. (Mace is a strong spice which neither of us enjoy.) The original recipe called for 2 Tablespoons each of salt and pepper, which I thought was too much, so I cut those back to 2 teaspoons pepper and 1 Tablespoon salt. I bought ground pork and ground beef, both lean, to use; though I could have used venison instead of the beef. The result was very good, and made much more than the recipe said it would. My hubby and I will have many more breakfasts with Kate’s Sausage since the recipe said it yielded 12 and I actually made 26! I could eat only one for breakfast, it was so filling!

After seeing how much sausage I had, I decided to cut the slapjack recipe in two, since the cakes are the size of a medium frying pan. Again, I couldn’t eat a whole one, but I ended up having the second half and another sausage for breakfast the next day. The slapjacks were also good, but I messed up on the eggs when I was halving the recipe and put in 2 instead of 1, which made the batter thicker than optimal. We enjoyed our slapjacks with butter and maple syrup, although George preferred his with honey.

I hope you enjoy the following recipes, and maybe make some adaptations of your own. After all, recipes for me are starting points, something I modify to suit our tastes and preferences.

Betty’s version of “Oxford Kate’s Sausage”

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 lb. lean ground pork
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, frozen and shredded
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon ground sage
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten

Instructions

  1. Blend seasonings together in a small bowl.
  2. Crumble meats together into a large bowl.
  3. Sprinkle seasonings over meat.
  4. Add eggs and shredded butter.
  5. With your hands, mix together until all ingredients are well blended. Roll sausage out into logs the size of the length and bigness of a finger. Grease a deep frying pan and heat to medium. Add butter to cook the sausage in, be sure the butter is “boiling” before you add the sausage. Cook until brown.

Yield: 26 sausages

Slapjacks (Full recipe)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ground corn meal
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Butter to fry
  • Maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add milk, butter, honey and eggs. Mix until well blended.
  2. Heat frying pan to medium, add butter to fry cakes. Pour about ½ cup of batter into the center of the pan to spread evenly across the heated surface.
  3. Cook until bubbly, then turn over with a large spatula and cook a minute or two on the other side. Remove from pan and keep warm while frying the rest of the slapjacks using this method.

Yield: 6 slapjacks

What do you think? Want to try these? I love the fact that there is no artificial anything in these recipes, which is one of the reasons I wanted to look into adapting colonial recipes to begin with. To find some new-to-me recipes to add a bit of variety to my diet.

And heads up, folks! Stay tuned for more information about two new historicals I’ll be releasing in June and July. I am really happy to be able to bring these stories to my readers for many reasons which I will share over the next few months. Thanks for reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books, including the A More Perfect Union historical romances.

Don’t forget about my latest historical! The first in my new Fury Falls Inn series! Book 2 is planned for release in October 2020…

Cover of The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn

Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. She has a plan, too. Seduce the young man, who is acting as innkeeper while her father is away on business, into marrying her. He’s handsome and available even though he doesn’t have feelings for her. Marriage is her only escape. Despite her mother’s strenuous objections.

But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. He’s focused on securing his reputation in the hostelry business to make his father respect him. He quickly learns that running a roadside inn in northern Alabama in 1821 means dealing not only with the young woman and her hostile mother but also with horse thieves and rogues.

When tragedy strikes, Cassie and Flint are forced to face unforeseen challenges and dangerous decisions together in order to attempt to rid the inn of its newly arrived specter—who doesn’t have any plan to leave…

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Getting to know Densie Webb #author of #nonfiction #fiction #WF #PNR #romance #books

I’m pleased to introduce my guest today, author Densie Webb. We share a love of coffee and of taking walks, but let’s let her tell us about her writing process and her latest release. First, a glance at her official bio and then we’ll dive in.

Densie Webb has spent a long career as a freelance nonfiction writer and editor, specializing in health and nutrition, and has published several books on the topic. She grew up in Louisiana, spent 13 years in New York City, and settled in Austin, TX, where it’s summer nine months out of the year. She is an avid walker (not of the dead variety, though she adores zombies, vampires and apocalyptic stories), drinks too much coffee, and has a small “devil dog” that keeps her on her toes. In addition to her novels, her essay: “Boob Job Regrets: In Appreciation of Your Previously Small Chest,” was included in an anthology compiled by Randy Susan Meyers, titled Women Under Scrutiny: An Anthology of Truths, Essays, Poems, Stories & Art. All proceeds from the anthology go to Rosie’s Place in Boston, a sanctuary for poor and homeless women. And her flash fiction piece, The Prank, was in the top ten finalists for Women on Writing’s Summer 2019 Flash Fiction contest.

You can find out more about Densie at www.densiewebb.com or by following her on Facebook (Densie L. Webb), Twitter (@dlwebb), or Instagram (densiewebbbooks).

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Densie: 2—You’ll Be Thinking of Me, which is romantic suspense and Le Remede” a paranormal romance. I’m under contract for a third, tentatively titled The Opposite of Amnesia, which is women’s fiction.

Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Densie: My first novel was romantic suspense. My second was paranormal romance, and my third is women’s fiction. I guess I haven’t quite settled on a single genre. I gravitate toward stories that deal with relationships, not just romantic. It can be with parents, friends, or even your relationship with yourself.

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?

Densie: So far, all of my stories deal with serendipity, random encounters that change the course of the characters’ lives, as well as everyone in their orbit. And secrets. My characters always have secrets.

Andie Rogé craves control like some people crave chocolate. But she can’t control her feelings when she encounters Vincent Dubois at Lizzie Borden’s Bar.

Tortured by blood lust that has ruled him for almost two hundred years, Vincent is unprepared for the pull he feels toward Andie. He can only surrender to what he knows is fate.

Offered a cure from a rare black orchid, he faces an agonizing choice—take the only dose and join Andie in the human life he so deeply desires or give the cure to his Kindred brother to stop his bloody rampage. Fate brought them together but will it destroy their chance at a future?

Amazon

Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?

Densie: I do most of writing/revising at coffee shops. I have a favorite that is decidedly uncool, but it offers wide booths with tabletops that allow me to spread out and nobody gives the stink eye when I’ve been there for hours. I occasionally write/edit at home, but I do my day job at home and I find getting out helps to spur my fictional thought processes.

Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?

Densie: I always listen to music while I write. Spotify is my go-to music source. I often get ideas for scenes from song lyrics or I can simply set the mood with music. And coffee. Always coffee.

Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?

Densie: I spent a few years going to Writers Meetup groups in Austin and getting feedback from a wide variety of writers before taking it to the next step, which for me was hiring a professional editor and then submitting to agents and publishers. I also belong to Women’s Fiction Writers Association, which is full of very supportive and helpful writers and authors. Also, Writer Unboxed has a website with daily posts from writers and authors, which are incredibly motivational and informative. They also hold a Writers Unboxed Unconference that happens every two years. I’ve been to all three and hoping to go for a fourth.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

Densie: I’ve been told that I have a knack for dialogue, which is ironic since I clearly remember voicing my doubts when I first started about being able to write realistic dialogue. Also, I’m a huge fan of similes, metaphors and analogies that can really bring home a thought or an emotion without stating it outright. I really work at trying to come up with the perfect ones.

Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?

Densie: I always like to know how it’s going to start and how it’s going to end. Those two things will get me from point A to point B. They often change during the writing and editing, but it’s enough to get me going.

Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is it more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?

Densie: I definitely do not have a writing schedule. I know all the writing tips says you should write every day and have a dedicated time for writing, but so far that hasn’t worked for me. But that’s probably why I’m such a slow writer—3 books in 6 years.

Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?

Densie: Right now, I’m trying to come up with a new story idea that I think will work. So far, I’ve come up with a couple of intriguing beginnings, but no endings. I like twists at the end of a story, which for me anyway, takes a lot of thought. I want it to be surprising, yet in retrospect seem inevitable.

Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?

Densie: I definitely do not. As I mentioned, I’m a slow writer. I edit and edit and edit as I go and it’s unfathomable to me to write 50,000 words in a month, especially a month with a holiday. Nope. I have absolutely no desire to torture myself like that.

Betty: What are you reading right now?

Densie: Just finished Regretting You by Colleen Hoover. Lots of relationships, both romantic and familial. Just finished Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodessor-Akner. Also about relationships, dysfunctional as they were. And I just started Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center.

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Densie: Ooooh. That’s a hard one. I love thrillers, women’s fiction, some literary and occasionally historical. It’s easier to say what I don’t read and that includes science fiction, cozy mystery, experimental, faith-based, or traditional romance with Hallmark-like happily ever after endings (unless there’s a lot of gut-wrenching emotional turmoil to get there.)

Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?

Densie: I’m not a big re-reader. A novel that I have read more than once is Dry by Augusten Burroughs. Another book that I loved and intend to re-read is Post Birthday World by Lionel Shriver.

Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?

Densie: I do like to read while I’m writing, but I don’t stick to the genre that I’m writing. In fact, I rarely read paranormal romance, but I just wanted to write the story.

Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

Densie: I’m a freelance nonfiction writer/editor by day. My degrees are in nutrition, so I write about health and nutrition for magazines, newsletters, websites, and industry. I would love to be able to write fiction full time.

Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?

Densie: How slow the wheels turn, how difficult it is to get published and how little money the vast majority of authors make. It burns me up when, in movies or shows, a writer has an easy meeting with an agent, throws out an idea, and the book is on the shelves in a couple of months with a book tour and tons of publicity and they’re suddenly rolling in dough. It’s more like a couple of years, if you have an agent and are published by one of the “big 5” publishers. I have gone with smaller publishers that don’t require manuscripts to be submitted by agents, so my timeline has been more like one year. And only a lucky few get book tours and publicity from the publisher. These days most of that stuff is generated and paid for by the author.

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Densie: Try, try, try not to get discouraged and be open to any and all feedback. Much of it can be dismissed because it doesn’t help, it’s hypercritical, or the person providing the feedback is trying to turn your story into theirs. But, I also find that in almost all feedback, there is a least one little nugget of insight that can help make you a better writer and improve your story.

Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?

Densie: As I mentioned, I’m still trying to come up with a solid story idea, but it will most likely involve heartbreak and a (hopefully) satisfying resolution. My first novel involved a celebrity. I’m thinking about dragging a (fictitious) celebrity into this one as well. I’m always intrigued by celebrities lives—not the glamour and the fandom, but the lack of control and the sometimes messy stuff that inevitably happens when you’re in the bright spotlight.

Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?

Densie: I’ve always wanted to write a thriller. I love to read them, but I’m not sure I could pull it off. The closest I’ve come was with my debut novel, You’ll Be Thinking of Me, which dealt with a celebrity stalker and the havoc it wreaked on several lives.

Thanks, Densie, for stopping by and sharing about your stories and writing process. Your advice for new writers is also spot on! Thanks for that.

Happy reading, folks!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

My Thoughts on the RWA Scandal #RWAshitshow #RWA @romancewriters #ResignDamonSuede

I’m appalled and angry. Let’s start with that. I do not normally comment on organizations I belong to. But I have to say something on this matter. I admit that I don’t understand the entirety of what actually happened, despite author Claire Ryan’s amazing compilation of the time line of events. RWA has hired an outside law firm to conduct what is hopefully an independent audit of the actions taken by the board and their impacts, and I hope we learn from their report the facts, which should be shared with all RWA members. It seems like every day there are new revelations, so I can only wonder what else we don’t know yet. But in the meantime, thank you, Claire, and all those who contributed to this collection of information, accusations, rebuttals, impacts, and ramifications of the actions of all involved. But as a General member in good standing of RWA, and definitely not speaking on behalf of any of my chapters, I felt it necessary to say something. To remain silent would imply my approval or acceptance, which is most definitely not the case.

I don’t have a lot to add to the ongoing discussions about all of the egregious actions of certain of the RWA Board of Directors. I’m angry about the hidden agendas and maneuvering going on behind the scenes last year, actions that have undermined the intent of the DEI efforts of the past several years to improve the culture and climate within this organization. Actions that have done monumental harm to authors of color, marginalized members, and to RWA as a whole. I had hope for a better place for all authors. I’ve worked at my local chapter level to ensure a safe space for all our members to the best of my ability. Have I been perfect? Probably not! But I’m striving to listen, to learn, to improve.

But to Damon Suede and whoever approved the changes to both the policy manual with regard to how the Ethics Committee is formed and who oversees it after the ethics complaint was filed against Courtney Milan (which should NEVER have even been reviewed let alone acted upon!), shame on you for attempting to undo the strides made toward a more inclusive, diverse, and welcoming organization! Changes to the rules of the Rita contest to reduce the ability to monitor the fairness of the contest judges against bias and discrimination are also a disgrace. I do not know specifically why so many of the board members resigned in protest rather than staying and trying to fix this mess from the inside, so I’m wondering just how bad things were. If the people elected to help improve the organization found it impossible to stay, then it must have been very bad indeed.

I have pulled my book from consideration for the Rita this year, which hurts my heart because I had high hopes of at least a final for my entry but I feel it was necessary. As I said in my email to Executive Director Carol Ritter: “It saddens me to write to you and ask that you pull my contest entry, Charmed Against All Odds, from consideration in the Rita awards. I had high hopes for the story but with the current climate and taint to the final results even before it actually gets underway, any final or prize would not have the meaning and respect of years past. I have hopes for the future of RWA and the Ritas, but cannot in good conscience condone the actions taken by certain members of the board.” That is an understatement, folks. I’m appalled at their actions! On top of that, I learned about how much profit RWA earned from last year’s contest and am wondering where that money went and for what purpose. Why would the cost of the contest need to remain at $50/$75 per entry when they reportedly made close to $100K in profit in 2018? I’d like an explanation.

I’ve always advocated for RWA national and most specifically for my individual chapters, encouraging other writers to join and benefit from the networking, advocacy, and education. But the many rule changes flowed down from above over the past several years have continued to hurt the chapters, the life blood of this organization. I know of several chapters who have closed down due to lack of membership. The forced-upon-chapters standardized bylaws have actively worked against the very chapters they are supposed to help. Without enough members, the rotation requirements for the board members is next to impossible to sustain. In fact, I’ve heard of several chapters in 2019 forced to disband due to no member willing to fill the required board positions. Now this! I wouldn’t be surprised if more chapters lose members and are forced to close as a result of the Board’s actions.

I’m saddened by all of what is happening at the RWA national level. I am hopeful we can turn around this burning, sinking ship, but that’s all I have. Hope. The silence from the RWA board on what they are doing to correct this mess is unacceptable. The members deserve answers.

I’ve said my piece. Next week I’ll return to talking about my research and writing, my stories, etc. I need to let my blood pressure calm a bit. . .

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Charmed Against All Odds is also part of the Common Elements Romance Project. More than 75 romances—historical, sci fi, fantasy, contemporary, paranormal, suspense—which include the same 5 elements. Those elements are a guy named Max, a lost set of keys, a tall stack of books, a haunted house, and a lightning storm. Visit the website for a listing of all the books by subgenre and for monthly giveaways.

Loving her brings out the magic in him…

Wedding bells are ringing, but not for Roxie Golden. If she can survive another round of wedding plans, then her life can return to normal. She’s perfectly happy running the bookstore and weaving helpful magical spells. Then one stormy day, her ex-fiancé strolls back into her life with a gift neither of them wants.

Leo King wants to flee the small town for the big city. Forget about the shame he brought upon himself when he abused his magical powers. First, to satisfy his warlock father’s final wish, he must deliver the mysterious box to Roxie’s bookstore.

But when Roxie opens the box, revealing an enchanted bracelet and a quest spell, their plans and their lives are changed forever. Trapped in a reluctant partnership with the woman he once loved, he risks everything—including his heart—for a second chance.

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Getting to know Jean M. Grant #author of #historical #romance #paranormal #WomensFiction #mustread #fiction #books

Please help me welcome author Jean M. Grant to the interview chair today! Jean keeps very busy between her writing, reading, editing, reviewing, and all of the time and attention she needs to raise her kids. But let’s hear from her, shall we?

Jean’s background is in science and she draws from her interests in history, nature, and her family for inspiration. She writes historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction. She also writes articles for family-oriented travel magazines. When she’s not writing or chasing children, she enjoys tending to her flower gardens, hiking, and doing just about anything in the outdoors.

You can find out more about her at her Website or by following her on social media: Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Bookbub, or Instagram.

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Jean: Five so far: 3 full-length novels, 1 novella, and 1 novel is contracted for a mid-2020 release. I have two more books currently in the writing/submission queue.

Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Jean: I write historical romance (with paranormal elements), contemporary romance, and contemporary women’s fiction.

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?

Jean: There is a central thread weaved into all my stories: journeys of hope, spirituality, and usually happy-ever-after. Or as I like to say: stories of heartache, healing, and hope. My women’s fiction usually has a romantic element, too. Even though I write across genres and sub-genres, I find that I focus on a central theme with each story. Each character has an emotional wound and backstory they must heal (in some way or another), and I always end with hope. This story deals with grief and parenting a special needs child.

Living is more than mere survival.

Young widow AJ Sinclair has persevered through much heartache. Has she met her match when the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, leaving her separated from her youngest son and her brother? Tens of thousands are dead or missing in a swath of massive destruction. She and her nine-year-old autistic son, Will, embark on a risky road trip from Maine to the epicenter to find her family. She can’t lose another loved one.

Along the way, they meet Reid Gregory, who travels his own road to perdition looking for his sister. Drawn together by AJ’s fear of driving and Reid’s military and local expertise, their journey to Colorado is fraught with the chaotic aftermath of the eruption. AJ’s anxiety and faith in humanity are put to the test as she heals her past, accepts her family’s present, and embraces uncertainty as Will and Reid show her a world she had almost forgotten.

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Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?

Jean: Anywhere I can! I have a nice old consignment and spend a good deal of time writing at it. I also take my laptop here, there, everywhere: kitchen counter, couch, bed, coffee shop, waiting areas, school pick-up line…With earbuds and music I can drown out distractions.

Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?

Jean: I am a morning lark. By evening I fizzle out. I enjoy having background music, quite often sans lyrics, to invigorate the muse within. Sunshine drives me; cloudy days can inspire, too, but sometimes suppress the muse, too.

Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?

Jean: My 3 P’s: Patience, Perseverance, and Putting in the Time. I’ve written three now “filed-away as practice” manuscripts, attended conferences and workshops, met agents, researched the business end of publication and marketing, tended relationships with other authors, ramped up social media usage, and have honed my craft over twenty years. I believe it’s key to approach writing as a business, not a hobby. Ultimately it was a small press that took a chance on this new author three years ago. I’ve been with them ever since. My advice: never give up. Keep at it: the craft, marketing, and business end. There is always more to learn.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

Jean: I am in love with scenery and landscapes. I can be a bit purple in my prose on my first drafts, but I have an amazing critique partner who reins me in. I lean toward plot-heavy, forward-moving stories, but also focus on building my characters before I even set pen to paper.

Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?

Jean: It used to be the setting, followed by the situation (plot), then characters. Now it’s probably still setting (I love exploring nature and traveling; the world is my muse!), but characters now come first and foremost. What are their goals, motivations, conflicts? What’s at stake? Their emotional wound? What makes them tick? I dig in deep first and do lots of charting.

Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is it more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?

Jean: Nooks and crannies. Even though I left my career years ago when I had children, and then ultimately left a part-time job three years ago to pursue writing full time, I still find my time is not always mine. So I juggle. I write during the day, but I use every morsel of nook and cranny when I need to. In between errands or appointments, and have down time? Computer comes with me and I hang in a coffee shop. Vacation? Bring a manuscript to edit or book to review for another author. Holiday break? Take some time off, but also read/edit/revise/market a bit, too.

Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?

Jean: Confidence (that always comes and goes). Marketing and the business of writing has been a big struggle. Authors these days are expected to do nearly all of it on their own. But, the world (and online market) is saturated with books and authors. How do we stand out? How do we garner reviews and new readers and establish our following?

Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?

Jean: Once. I usually am too busy in November, and I plan my writing around my own schedule. When I put my mind to it, I can guide myself through deadlines and wordcounts. However, like Twitter, Nano is a great way to meet other authors.

Betty: What are you reading right now?

Jean: I am on an audiobook kick. I just finished Crime and Paradise by Julie Howard (suspense, Women’s Fiction), on the heels of Dickinsen Academy by Christine Grabowski (YA Fantasy). Now I’m listening to A Thousand Years to Wait by L. Ryan Storms (YA Fantasy). I’m also reading When We Believed in Mermaids (Barbara O’Neal, Women’s Fiction). I read/listen across genres.

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Jean: Romance and Women’s Fiction.

Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?

Jean: Outlander! I love the new series they’ve created for TV, too.

Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?

Jean: Both.

Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

Jean: I write full-time, but I am a busy parent to two children, one with special needs. I am on too many committees (library board, church…) and volunteer with the school library.

Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?

Jean: The time that goes into writing, editing, waiting, and marketing. We pour blood, sweat, and tears on our pages. Reviews mean the world to authors. Liked a book? Please drop a brief review on Amazon so it helps the author get more exposure.

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Jean: Spend time learning the industry in’s and out’s, and dedicate time and a budget to marketing. Also, an agent is not always the path to publication. I went with a small press. Hone your craft, take your time. Go to conferences, meet other authors, get into a writer’s group online and in person. Network. Your first manuscript might not be your first published, and that’s okay! Write and use what you know. Follow your passion and don’t let the market drive you.

Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?

Jean: I’m finishing a women’s fiction novella as part of an e-book series put out by The Wild Rose Press over the next two summers. I just contracted the third book of my historical “hundred” paranormal romance trilogy. I’m also writing a new contemporary romance. Always have something in the queue…

Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?

Jean: In Will Rise from Ashes, I have two POV characters, and one is in first person and one in third. I’d like to do more of that. I’ve also longed to write children’s books. That is a very hard genre to break into, and my skills are not refined for it yet. One day.

A fellow Outlander series fan! Hubby is also reading the series in addition to watching the Starz series with me. And I thoroughly enjoyed Barbara O’Neal’s When We Believed in Mermaids. I think we share similar tastes in fiction, Jean! Thanks for stopping in for a chat about your writing process and your stories.

A new year has begun and I’m looking forward to a several new releases this year and an appearance or two. Time to buckle down and work my plan!

Happy reading!

Betty

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