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.
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?
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.
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