Getting to know Olivier Bosman #author #historical #mysteries #LGBT #fiction #books

Today’s guest is a writer after my own heart. Olivier Bosman likes to visualize the scenes before writing them, as I do. But let’s let him tell you more!

Born to Dutch parents and raised in Colombia and England, I am a rootless wanderer with itchy feet. I’ve spent the last few years living and working in The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Sudan and Bulgaria, but I have every confidence that I will now finally be able to settle down among the olive groves of Andalucia. I am an avid reader and film fan (in fact, my study is overflowing with my various DVD collections!) I did an MA in creative writing for film and television at the University of Sheffield.  After a failed attempt at making a career as a screenwriter, I turned to the theater and wrote and produced a play called “Death Takes a Lover” (which has since been turned into the first D.S. Billings Victorian Mystery). The play was performed on the London Fringe to great critical acclaim. I am currently living in Spain where I make ends meet by teaching English.

Website * Facebook

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Olivier: I started writing twenty-seven years ago. Initially I wanted to be a screenwriter or a playwright, as what I most enjoyed writing was dialogue. But screenwriters are often employed to adapt somebody else’s book or tinker on somebody else’s story, and I wanted to create my own characters and tell my own stories, so I started writing novels five years ago.

Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?

Olivier: I’ve always taken my writing seriously. I did an MA in creative writing for film and television and I have attended many workshops to improve my writing. I was a little insecure when I embarked on my first novel, as prior to that all I had written were plays and screenplays, so I joined a writing group where we critiqued each other’s completed manuscripts, and I have a learned a lot from that.

Betty: What authors or stories do you feel influenced your writing style?

Olivier: Screenwriting has very much influenced my style. I picture the complete scene in my mind before I write it and lot of the story is told through action and dialogue, rather than narrative prose.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Olivier: An innate desire to make up stories, I suppose. I’ve been making up stories ever since I was a child.

Betty: What do you wish you knew before you started writing/publishing?

Olivier: I wish I had found out about self-publishing before everyone else did. With so many authors publishing their own books, it has become quite difficult to get noticed.

Betty: What other authors inspired you (either directly or through their writing) to try your hand at writing?

Olivier: Wilkie Collins inspired me to write Death Takes a Lover (the first D.S Billings Victorian mystery). In fact, I first wrote it as a play. I was looking for a genre that would work well in the theatre, and after reading The Woman in White I found it: Victorian Gothic. It was the right mix of chills, thrills and melodrama to a keep an audience entertained on a cold, dark autumn night.

Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?

Olivier: I was explaining what my play (Death Takes a Lover) was about to someone. I told him that it was about a gay Quaker detective with a morphine addiction who had to investigate the suspicious death of a house maid in an isolated mansion in the Yorkshire Moors. My friend said I should turn it into a detective series. And that’s exactly what I did. Rather than adapting Death Takes a Lover into a novel (I did do so later) I decided to introduce my character properly. Give him a back story and a cast of supporting characters which would reappear in subsequent books. The Ornamental Hermit is the first of the D.S. Billings Victorian Mysteries. There are four books in total (plus the play, which has since been turned into a novella). DS Billings delves into a new mystery in each book, but his personal life, his trials at coming to terms with his demons, carry on.

Dimly lit cobblestone streets. Sinister looking men in top hats lurking in the fog. The first three books in the DS Billings Victorian Mysteries Series have been bundled together to chill you to the bone. Detective Sergeant John Billings is an honest and hard working man who has risen swiftly through the ranks to become one of Scotland Yard’s youngest detectives. But in his private life he struggles with the demons of loneliness, morphine addiction and homosexuality. In these mysteries he will lead you on a thrilling journey into the darkest recesses of Victorian society.

“He’s been ill for some time.”

Mrs. Forrester sat next to Billings. Her eyes were still gleaming with the joy of seeing him after all these years.

“He’s never been the same since Sebastian went missing. It’s his heart. I blame it on the stress and expense we incurred in finding Sebastian. Do you know how much money we paid those incompetent detectives in Cumberland? We should have employed you. They profited from us!” She let go of his hands. “They milked us. Combing the hills, dragging the lakes. That’s what hurts the most. That in the midst of our desperation, our grieving, somebody else tried to profit.” She took off her gloves and stared out at the bare trees which lined the cobbled streets of Chelsea. “We got a letter,” she added.

“A letter?”

“From him. From Sebastian. He’s back in Oxford. He sent us a letter.”

“I thought he was dead.”

He realised his clumsiness immediately and cursed himself inwardly.

Mrs. Forrester ignored the gaffe. “We were in Oxford last week. Mr. Forrester, sick as he was, insisted he’d come with me.”

“How did you find him?”

“We didn’t. We waited for a whole week at that tea room he’d suggested for our meeting, but he didn’t show up. And we had no way of locating him. So we went back home. Mr. Forrester thinks it may have been an impostor.”

“An impostor?”

“Mr. Forrester is dying, John. I told you that. There’s a large inheritance at stake. Anyone can pretend to be Sebastian. It’s been ten years.”

Buy links: Amazon

Thanks for stopping by, Olivier, and sharing about your writing, your inspiration, and your latest books.

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.

Getting to know Lexi George #author #editor #paranormal #romance #fantasy

My guest today is Lexi George who also writes under the pen name Alexandra Rushe. Lexi is a fun lady to get to know, so settle back and let’s see what has inspired her to be the wonderful author she is…

Lexi George writes snarky paranormal romance for Kensington Books about hunky, immortal demon hunters and the Southern women they love. There are five full-length novels in the series, plus a novella, and she is hard at work on the latest, Demon Hunting with a Southern Sheriff. She also writes fantasy under the pen name Alexandra Rushe. A Meddle of Wizards, the first book in the Fledgling Magic series, was released in January of 2018. The second book, A Muddle of Magic, came out in October of the same year.

Website: www.lexigeorge.com * www.alexandrarushe.com

Facebook: Lexi * Alexandra

Twitter: Lexi * Alexandra

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Lexi: I’ve always written something, starting with bad poetry in the third grade and progressing to really, really bad poetry in high school and college. My day job for nearly thirty years was as an appellate attorney, which means I wrote briefs for a living, but I didn’t begin seriously writing until my first child was four. That child is now twenty-eight. Gulp!  

Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?

Lexi: I started my first novel, a fantasy about a young woman’s adventures in a magical land, in 1995. I didn’t have a clue about the craft of writing, but I was having enormous fun. I wrote and wrote. Finally finished the darn thing in 2005 and started querying agents. Much to my dismay, not one of them recognized my brilliance, and I received over 100 rejection letters. Sobering, to say the least. Discouraged, I decided, the Universe was telling me to try something different, so I turned to my other love, romance. I joined a writer’s group and RWA and took craft classes and wrote and wrote and wrote. I was fortunate enough to get a contract with Kensington in 2010, and Demon Hunting in Dixie was released the following year.  

Betty: What authors or stories do you feel influenced your writing style?

Lexi: Georgette Heyer, for sure, and David Eddings, an old-school fantasy writer. I adore Heyer’s sly wit and memorable secondary characters. Eddings Belgariad series greatly influenced my writing style. As a result, I tend to write an ensemble of characters in both genres.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Lexi: Loneliness, I suppose. I was in an unhappy marriage and working and raising small children pretty much on my own, so I turned inward for companionship and escape.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Lexi: I dove right in with a full-length novel, the fantasy I mentioned. It probably would have been better if I had started with short stories and moved up to full-length novels, but the story that came to me could not be told in a few words.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Lexi: I really enjoy dialogue, especially if the character talking is being lewd or snarky. Great fun. As a writer, I have trouble with what I call “filler” phrases, those physical descriptions moving a character from one point to another. Much easier for me if they just talk! And sex scenes are the worst for me!  I spend days writing them and fretting that I haven’t reached the right emotional level.

Betty: What do you wish you knew before you started writing/publishing?

Lexi: Not to take myself seriously. New writers tend to think their words are golden. Someone (I think it was Ray Bradbury) said the first million words you write are practice. I would also tell my younger self to toughen up. Rejection sucks, but you WILL be rejected, and readers will say rude things about your baby, and there ain’t a damn thing you can do about it. It comes with the territory.

Betty: What other authors inspired you (either directly or through their writing) to try your hand at writing?

Lexi: Oh, so many! Too many to name, but I remember sighing over Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels,and The Belgariad and Lord of the Rings were my great fantasy influences. I laughed until I had tears running down my face when I read Janet Evanovich’s One for the Money. That book greatly inspired the zany antics in Demon Hunting in Dixie. As a matter of fact, I remember pitching the book as “Stephanie Plum if she lived in the Deep South and had a Southern mama.”

Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?

Lexi: Duncan and Cassie are secondary characters in book four, Demon Hunting with a Dixie Deb, and it only felt natural to continue their story! Duncan is something of a misfit among the Dalvahni. He has a sense of humor, and his brother warriors don’t know what to make of him.

Cassandra Ferguson McKenna, aka the Witch of Devil River, has only one thing to say to her demon-hunting ex: We are never ever getting back together. Sure, Duncan Dalvhani may be the hottest thing this side of the Mason-Dixon line. He’s got a body to die for—which is hard to ignore when he skinny dips in her river every day—and swears he loves her. But as a demon hunter, Duncan is the sworn enemy of a demonoid sorceress like Cassandra. Give him another chance to break her heart? Witch, please. But when Cassandra is attacked by a werewolf, Duncan not only comes to her rescue, he helps her take on a band of magic-drunk moonshiners, fire-breathing demons, shifty shapeshifters, and a pet Sasquatch named Sugar. Welcome to Alabama. But when a portal opens up for even more hellaciousness, Cassandra has to admit that Duncan is slowly opening her heart—to a whole new world of unearthly delights . . .

“Go away, Duncan,” Cassie said. “We’re no good for each other.”

“I could go away, I suppose, but I would only return.” His mouth twisted in an expression of self-mockery. “I fear I am a pathetic creature where you are concerned.”

Cassie gazed at him in mingled panic and exasperation. There was nothing pathetic about him. The harder she resisted, the more he would take it as a challenge. So, where did that leave them? An affair was the logical solution to their problem, in a hair-of-the-dog that-bit-you kind of way.

“Let’s have sex,” Cassie said, taking the plunge. He blinked, and Cassie felt a ping of satisfaction. She’d thrown him. Good. “Friends with benefits, you know?” She gave him a bright smile. “Want to go for a roll in the hay?”

“You wish to engage in coitus with me?”

“Yup, plain, uncomplicated sex,” she said. “Two consenting adults enjoying one another’s bodies. No mushy stuff. No jealousy or insecurity. Sex, and no strings, and then we move on.”

“Agreed, but with one condition.” His eyes were flinty. “I do not share. I have exclusive use of your body while the agreement holds.”

 “Of course,” she said, striving to sound nonchalant, though her stomach was doing a roller-coaster free fall. He’d called her bluff, damn him, and she wasn’t sure how she felt about that.

He turned and strode away.

“Wait,” Cassie said. “Where are you going?”

He stopped in the doorway and looked back. “To the kitchen to prepare a repast.”

“Don’t you want to talk? About . . . you know . . .” Cassie gazed at him in frustration. “Our agreement?”

“Talking is overrated, and I would have you rebuild your strength. I mean to make the most of our bargain.”

He walked out, leaving Cassie rooted to the spot.

Buy links: * Amazon *  KoboB&N  * BAM * or your favorite retailer.

Wow, that sounds like such a delicious read! Thanks, Lexi, for stopping in and sharing that drool worthy excerpt 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!

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

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.

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.

Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ iTunes ~ Kobo ~ GooglePlay

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

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.

Getting to Know Leanne Treese #debut #author of #WomensFiction #communicationbreakdown #books

I know of many professionals who have started writing fiction after leaving their day job. My next guest author is a former attorney who now writes women’s fiction. I’m pleased to introduce you all to Leanne Treese and her debut novel. First let’s look at her bio and then we’ll find out more about her book and her writing process.

Leanne is a former attorney who specialized in the amicable resolution of divorce matters. She is best known for cheering wildly at her kids’ activities, spoiling her dogs, and drinking obscene amounts of coffee. When not at home with her husband of twenty-five years, Leanne is most likely to be found on a New Jersey beach. The Language of Divorce is her debut novel.

You can find out more about her at www.leannetreese.com, or follow her on Twitter (@authorleanne), Instagram (@leannetreese), or Facebook (@authorleanne50).

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Leanne: The Language of Divorce is my debut novel!

Betty: What genres do you write in and why?

Leanne: I write women’s fiction because I enjoy books which focus on the growth of the characters.

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

Leanne: One major theme in my story is miscommunication. I previously worked as a divorce lawyer and found miscommunication to be a major factor in the escalation of divorce matters. Another theme in my book is how individual perspectives impact how people interact with each other. To explain, the lawyers in my book each bring to the table their own experiences which impact the advice they give to the main characters.

Hannah and Will Abbott define the American dream: two kids, a home in the suburbs, and a seemingly perfect marriage. But discontent beneath the surface of their outwardly happy lives. Each Will and Hannah each suspect the other of infidelity. When they independently consult divorce attorneys, the conflict escalates and Hannah flees with the children against a court order. This snap decision starts a social media firestorm and, suddenly, the Abbott divorce is big news. With family stress and legal fees rising, Will and Hannah accept an invitation to appear on a reality television show for divorcing couples. During filming on the beautiful island of St. John, the Abbotts must decide once and for all: can their love survive their past?

The story unfolds through viewpoint of four characters: Will, the affable boy-next-door everyone loves; Hannah, the fastidious wife still in love with her husband; David, the tough-talking attorney with a heart of gold; and Rachel, the insecure novice lawyer infatuated with the Abbotts. Written with both humor and heart, The Language of Divorce is a captivating debut featuring deeply drawn characters who will stay in readers’ hearts long after the final page.

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

Leanne: I can write or revise anywhere as long as it is completely silent. Because of this, I usually work early in the morning at home.

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?

Leanne: When my daughters were in high school, they left at 6:45. My son, then in elementary school, did not have school until 9:00. I wrote the entire book in that two-hour time frame on weekday mornings. Without it, I am positive that I never would have finished the book.

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

Leanne: I attended a writing conference and pitched a bunch of agents, a handful of which were interested in my book. I wrote to them and heard nothing. I started listening to writing podcasts and learned about Twitter pitchfests. I was not a Twitter user but became one to participate in the fest. I received two offers of publication as a result of the pitchfest.

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

Leanne: Creating real characters and dialogue. I struggle with descriptive writing. In the future (a book or two down the road), I am going to write a novel which requires world-building as I think this would be a way to improve this skill.

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

Leanne: For me, the situation comes first, then characters, then setting.

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

Leanne: When I wrote the novel, I wrote it in the mornings with a goal of 500 words per day. I am an extreme morning person and, also, like to do only one thing at a time. Because of this, I do not try to fit in writing at night or around family obligations.

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

Leanne: My editor asked me to add some chapters in the end. I did and thought they were the best things ever (really). She did not like them. What?! When I looked at them later, though, I could see they weren’t as great as I thought. I think the difference was, when I wrote the book, I read it over and over and let it go for periods in between. With the extra chapters, I wrote them and dashed them off. Lesson learned: put writing aside for a week or more and then review again.

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

Leanne: I have always wanted to do NaNoWriMo. I think it is an awesome idea. With past family and work obligations, I would not swing the time to do that. My kids are older now so maybe……

Betty: What are you reading right now?

Leanne: I just finished Her Daughter’s Mother by Daniela Petrova and loved it. Before that, I read Little Lovely Things by Maureen Joyce Connolly – a beautifully written novel.

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Leanne: I like women’s fictions, historical fiction, and some suspense novels, i.e., Gone Girl.

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

Leanne: I loved the characters in The Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood and also Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. More recently, I loved Small, Great Things by Jodi Picoult, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, and all the Me Before You books by JoJo Moyes. I don’t typically re-read books because there are so many to get to!

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

Leanne: Though I write women’s fiction, I read all the genres I enjoy when I am writing. I am trying to incorporate reading more into my daily routine as well as listening to audiobooks.

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

Leanne: I previously worked as a lawyer. My book publication coincided with some family changes and it seemed a good time to give writing full-time a try. So far, so good!

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Leanne: First, write consistently, every day if possible. Second, remember that most of what you write will get revised or eliminated in the end. Don’t stress about it. My novel contains about thirty percent of my original draft. But you have to get it down to improve it. Worry about the story first and the details later.

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

Leanne: I have a women’s fiction book in mind for my next book. After that, I have a good idea for a middle grade fiction/Harry Potterish novel. This one will require some major world-building so I will need to hone up on that descriptive writing!

I love how Leanne has more stories to tell and now the time to tell them! Thanks for joining me today, Leanne, and I hope you have a long and fun writing career ahead!

Happy New Year’s, everbody!

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.

Getting to Know Dawn Baca #author of #contemporary #romance #WomensFiction #books

I’m pleased to introduce to you all my next guest author, Dawn Baca. She is a busy woman with some interesting stories to tell, but let’s hear it from her, shall we? We’ll peek at her bio and then get right to the good part.

An insatiable reader of all genres since her childhood, Dawn is a globetrotter hungry to discover new places and experience unique adventures. She can be found indulging in her husband’s first love of summer camping in the mountains or luxuriating on the open seas while cruising to exotic destinations during the frigid winter months. When she’s not jet-setting she can be found in Central Valley California with her husband and their many rescue animals.

You can find out more about her at www.DawnBaca.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube among others.

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Dawn: I have two books published, and the third book in the series is expected to be out before this Christmas.

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

Dawn: I write contemporary romance stories laced with a heavy dose of women’s fiction, that revolve around dysfunctional family dynamics. Some write romance to create a happily ever after they only dream of for themselves, while others write what they know. I’m one of the latter. I am far more familiar with dysfunctional families than I’d care to admit sometimes. I started out writing more women’s fiction with the family stories, only to turn them into romances after and turned them into a series instead of a single book. I have found my happily ever after with a wonderful husband that I’ve known since high school and have been married to almost 18 years.

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

Dawn: I write characters that live or visit foreign countries. So far my characters have been to Russia, France, the United States, and Bali. The series will continue with more characters visiting places like Easter Island, Australia, and Egypt as well. I love to travel so having my characters visiting the world gives my soul a little chance for wanderlust when I can’t go.

A loving woman’s desire . . .
Sophie Compte leads a charmed life. Blessed with brains, beauty, and wealth she’s spent her whole life preparing to someday take the reins of the family business, a horse breeding farm world-renowned for its championship lineage. Also lucky in love, Sophie expects to marry the only boy ever to win her heart—if she can convince the man he’s become to bury his foolish pride.

A strong man’s honor . . .
Claude Durand loves Sophie more than his next breath, but loving her and being worthy of her are two different things. He appreciates the long-term employment assured to him and his widowed mother by Sophie’s family, but he is determined to earn it for himself. For Claude, this means becoming an accomplished veterinarian so his value to the Compte business will never be questioned. He’ll marry Sophie because she owns his heart, but not until he’s proven to the world he’s the man she deserves.

Threatened by scandal and pride . . .
Turmoil erupts when the elite Compte horses are compromised by drugs. As the spiraling scandal threatens Sophie’s legacy, Claude’s hard-earned reputation, and puts their families at risk, the lovers race to find the culprit before all they’ve worked for is lost. Sophie believes their love is strong enough to survive anything but fears Claude’s stubborn pride is stronger. She’ll do anything to convince him that win or lose, he is her heart’s desire.

Amazon      Books2Read

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

Dawn: My husband set up our second attempt at a home office for Christmas a few years ago for me, a new desk and monitor with a docking station etc. It’s fabulous. (Our first home office ended up being a catch all dump station we shut the door on to avoid looking at!)

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?

Dawn: I usually have music or the TV on in the background while I write, and I try to listen to instrumental music or environmental sounds when I’m editing.

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

Dawn: My mentors are Amabel Daniels, Casey Hagen and Deb Julienne. They have been such a great support system. Joining RWA and going to the conferences has given me the opportunity to meet so many wonderful like-minded people.

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

Dawn: I think the ability to write on the go. To throw my thoughts down in my phone app while riding in the car with the husband or siting in the reception area of the doctors. It doesn’t matter, for me a few minutes to jot it all down is all I need. Unfortunately, this also means that I’m not a linear writer.

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

Dawn: For me as a non-linear writer, it’s all a whirlwind of thoughts. I have the characters pretty much set out for this series, but every once in a while a new character sneaks in and they end up becoming a central part of the series theme and they end up with a story of their own.

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?

Dawn: Last year I was able to focus on just writing and editing, though this year has been a juggle between the day job, commuting, writing, and editing. So now it’s all about squeezing everything in while on the go.

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

Dawn: For each book I try to beat my previous writing time. This year I was on track to finish the third story by May until I started a new day job, got bogged down in editing gigs, and life at home went pear shaped. I couldn’t seem to write any new words for months no matter how many times I sat down at the keyboard.

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

Dawn: I did the first two years I was writing, and then the last couple of years I haven’t because we tend to go away for the holidays to Mexico and I want to be able to spend quality time with my husband and our friends.

Betty: What are you reading right now?

Dawn: I’m reading Dead Eye by Alyssa Day

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Dawn: I don’t think I really have a favorite. For me it’s a mood thing. I love everything. I read romance, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, suspense, paranormal, young adult, every genre has something wonderful to offer.

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

Dawn: My book shelf currently hosts hard-cover copies of the Harry Potter Series, Julie Garwood’s Saving Grace, Elizabeth Peter’s Amelia Peabody Series, Deborah Harkness’s Discovery of Witches trilogy and Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code. I re-read these all about once a year. I also have dozens of books by James Patterson, Clive Cussler, Kay Hooper, and several paperback books by Casey Hagen and Amabel Daniels.

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

Dawn: I try not to read contemporary romances when writing, though I do find myself sometimes beta/critique reading for others when I’m in the middle of writing one of my own stories. And I have to be extra careful not to let their voice stay in my head when I’m trying to write.

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

Dawn: My day job is a program coordinator for a fortune one hundred company.

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

Dawn: There is so much to learn, never be afraid to ask questions, and find like-minded people in the industry to connect with, this alone is a life saver.

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Dawn: First keep writing. If at first you don’t succeed, set it aside and write something new. The more you write, the more you learn, and the better you become. It takes courage and perseverance to make this dream come true. It was my third book written that was the first published. The first two books are still being heavily edited, and will come into the series in the middle. And second, keep reading. Read the popular, read the classics, read your favorite authors, read as much and as often as you can. Absorb it and let your mind grow.

Betty: Any hints of what your next writing project might be?

Dawn: My series was originally going to be the story of five sisters and their dysfunctional family dynamics. Then a couple of background characters came forward and demanded a book or two of their own, so now it’s morphed into a life of its own… Once Sophie’s second part comes out in December we are going to focus on giving her fiancé’s mother Leila a happily ever after of her own, establishing another intricate layer within the multiple families already introduced.

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?

Dawn: Eventually I’d like to write more suspense, I’m slowly adding a little bit of mystery/suspense to my current series just to get the feel of it, but eventually I’d like to write a complete series.

Sounds like you’ve definitely have a plan! Thanks for stopping by to share with us your writing process and stories, Dawn.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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.

Getting to know Samantha Bryant #author #feminist #menopause #superheroines #superheroes #fiction #books

My guest today has some very interesting stories to tell so I’m happy to introduce you to Samantha Bryant! First a glance at her bio and then we’ll dive right in.

Samantha Bryant teaches Spanish to middle schoolers. Clearly, she’s tougher than she looks. She writes The Menopausal Superhero series of novels, and other feminist leaning speculative fiction. When she’s not writing or teaching, Samantha enjoys family time, watching old movies, baking, reading, gaming, walking in the woods with her rescue dog, and going places. She’s a Shakespeare nerd and a board game enthusiast, as well as a comic book reader and burgeoning houseplant whisperer. Her favorite gift is tickets (to just about anything).

You can find out more about her at http://samanthabryant.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Samantha: I have three published novels under my belt, all of them in the Menopausal Superhero series, which will, when complete, have five novels. Going Through the Change, the first of the series won a Jacquis from Legendary Women, which is a prize for feminist writing. I also have my shorter form work included in eleven anthologies, running the gamut from horror and superhero to nonfiction and romance.

I’ve written complete drafts of three other novels: a young adult book (Rat Jones and the Lacrosse Zombies), a historical women’s fiction book (Cold Spring, which is the first of a planned trilogy), and a women’s issues fiction work (His Other Mother). I’m always torn between going back and getting those books publication ready and making progress on my new work. I shelved a dystopian novel after working on it for a year because I found it too depressing and am currently writing a Gothic romance, The Architect and the Heir.

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

Samantha: I’m a Jill of all trades in that I like to dabble. One reason I enjoy writing short fiction is for the opportunity to play with something new, trying a new genre, point of view, or style without the commitment of a full-length novel. Trying something different gives me the chance to learn and grow. I do notice though, that all my work is women-centered, regardless of genre.

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

Samantha: Face the Change, the third of the Menopausal Superhero series, is at its heart, a story about women’s friendship. The entire series has themes of aging and women’s experience. There are too few stories about women over thirty where the female characters have real agency. I find it surprising because my experience in life says just the opposite: women in middle age and beyond are formidable and fascinating. Focusing on these characters is my way of bringing those stories to the forefront.

The Menopausal Superheroes are coming out of the closet and the pressure is high, both on the job and on the homefront.

Now that he knows what it’s like to be a hero, Leonel “Fuerte” Alvarez can’t imagine going back to his former life as a grandmother and housewife. But putting his life on the line may cost him his husband even while he saves the city.

Jessica “Flygirl” Roark is holding on to her second chance at love with both hands while learning to balance single parenthood with her new career in crime-fighting.

Patricia “Lizard Woman” O’Neill is blindsided by an unexpected romance just as she signs on to join the team.

Meanwhile enemies old and new abound. When superpowers alone aren’t enough, what a woman really needs are her friends.

Amazon     Barnes & Noble     The Scribbling Lion

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

Samantha: For the longest time, I just took my laptop with me wherever I was going. I wrote on the Mom couch at lessons, sitting in cafés, waiting in my car, standing in the kitchen, hiding in the bathroom, wherever I could find a little focus. But when my eldest daughter went to college, we reshuffled our house and now I have an office. It’s still a little hodge-podge, furnished with what I could beg, borrow, or steal, but it’s a space that’s all my own and that is making a HUGE difference in my productivity.

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?

Samantha: Mostly, I write in the evening, after my school day, after supper and house responsibilities, and after giving my family whatever kind of support they need. On average, I get 1-2 hours per day. I begin with a cup of Tension Tamer tea, which is lovely and aromatic, but uncaffeinated, so I can drink it at night without messing up my sleep. Often, I write in silence, but if I’m feeling unfocused, classical music can help. I’m fond of Dvorak and Rimsky-Korsakov. I’ve trained myself well to this schedule and can usually get 800-2000 words in a session.

Since teaching has a seasonal aspect, this is reversed in the summer, when I begin with a walk and can usually get in a three hour writing session before my teen daughter wakes up.

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

Samantha: I turned 42.

Since I’m a Douglas Adams fan, I knew from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that 42 is “the answer to life, the universe, and everything” so I took this as my cue to start taking my craft seriously after years as a hobbyist who would become a published author “someday.”

 I’d already been working with a critique group for a few years, but this was when I committed to a daily writing habit (my daily writing chain is now six years long) though the Magic Spreadsheet and stopped letting myself wander off without finishing the projects I had begun. I took to heart Neil Gaiman’s simple but reliable advice: Write. Finish Things. Keep Writing.

No one was going to publish my starts and fits, no matter how brilliant they were, so I forced myself into better discipline and pushed through the hard parts. NaNoWriMo was a breakthrough for me as well, teaching me to plough onward and not stop so often to lose myself in research or overthink the moment, but trust instead to the editing and revision process to clean up my drafts into something suitable for a reader.

My participation in the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and several online communities and groups for writers really helped. Writers can be so generous with their time and so willing to share the details of their own experience, trying to help those coming behind them.

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

Samantha: Character creation. When I get compliments on my work, it is nearly always about the characters. Linda/Leonel Alvarez is a crowd favorite. When I’m writing, my characters become very real to me, almost as though they are actual people in my life. When it’s going very well, I feel as though I’m channeling the story rather than carving it from stone.

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

Samantha: The first vision of a new story for me is usually a mix of character and situation. There’s a person experiencing a moment of some kind. Because I’m mostly a pantser, I sit down and write that and discover the rest of the context and layers as I go.

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

Samantha: I’m both rigid and fluid. I write every day, but when I write is structured around my job and my family obligations. During the school year, writing is usually the last part of my day before bed. During off-season for school, it’s usually the first thing I do upon waking. If I could have my ideal situation, I would give up my day job and write full time, but I’m not willing to wait to build my writing life until I can afford to retire, so I make this work.

I’m fortunate to have fantastic familial support. I get away for a retreat once a summer which is heaven on earth. It’s also become easier now that my daughters are older and more able to take care of more of their own needs.

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

Samantha: Time is always my issue. At this stage of my career, I have opportunities that could easily fill full time hours: invitations to write something for a collection or publisher, events to participate in for promotion, and my own fictional endeavors. Unfortunately, my writing doesn’t yet bring in a full-time income. I’m always working to balance my creative life alongside my mundane one. I’m better at it some times than others.

Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo? Why or why not?

Samantha: Not always. But I have. I find it really helpful when I’ve got a new project I want to jump start. I’m participating for the seventh time right now drafting The Architect and The Heir and I have won three times–one of those became my second published novel: Change of Life, book 2 of the Menopausal Superheroes series. Even in the years I didn’t make 50,000 words, I still felt like I won, though, because I made more progress than I would have without that external structure and support.

I enjoy the enthusiasm that surrounds NaNoWriMo. All that positive energy is fueling and energizing, and that’s just what I need in November when my school year is trying to kill me and the change in light is draining me.

Betty: What are you reading right now?

Samantha: I’m always reading several things at the same time.

I run a book club at my local library in partnership with another local author, The First Monday Classics Book Club, which, as the name suggests, discusses a classic novel on the first Monday of each month. Our next selection is Call of the Wild by Jack London, so I’m currently revisiting it. I first read it as a child, so it’s interesting to see how time and experience has changed it for me. Now, I’ve lived in Alaska myself, and shared my life with a husky dog, so it’s quite a different experience than when Alaska was as much of an alien setting as Mars.

I’m also beta reading a friend’s fantasy novel. Beta reading is different than other kinds of reading because I’m trying to analyze it more deeply as I read so I can provide feedback and help the author make the book better. Of course, now that I write, it can be just as hard to turn off that critical eye when I’m supposed to be reading for pleasure.

Between these, I’m sneaking some strictly-for-pleasure reading. I subscribe to Fireside, a literary magazine, and I’m behind on enjoying those issues. As I move graphic novels and writing related books to my office from the rest of the house, I keep falling into those stories as well.

Really, a perfect day would be 30% reading 40% writing and 20% eating with the other 10% spent outside in the sunshine.

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Samantha: Today, I’m going to say Gothic romance and mystery, but that’s probably because I’m steeped in it right now for my own project. I also love historical fiction, science fiction, memoir, biography, informational nonfiction, comic books, poetry, classics, and so much more! It might be shorter to make a list of what I don’t like to read: technical manuals and  literary fiction with testosterone poisoning.

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

Samantha: Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle has always had a place on my shelves since I first read it as an older child. I revisit it every few years. I open my Emily Dickinson at least monthly, always finding delight and inspiration in those pages.

There are others I keep and would never part with, but don’t often re-read like my copy of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott or A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. Sometimes beloved childhood reads don’t hold up the same way when read as an adult and I’m cautious about spoiling my nostalgia, though I do also love the chance to revisit these with my daughter when she has an interest. We read Little House in the Big Woods together last year, and both enjoyed its sweetness alongside the font of information about frontier life from a child’s point of view.

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

Samantha: Not usually while I’m writing, but in the lead-up period, while I’m thinking my way through a new project, I steep myself in the genre. I want to be well read within any genre I’m trying to write, so I understand the reader expectations and can choose when to make use of tropes and when to flout them to great effect. A good third of the reading I do while I’m actively writing is nonfiction on topics related to the time period or plot elements of my project.

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

Samantha: Boy do I have a day job! I teach middle school Spanish, seven classes a day, four different lesson plans. Even though it’s difficult, juggling my teaching, writing, and family lives, I take joy in each. I’m one of those greedy women who wants it all. When I do retire from teaching, I’ll miss it.

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

Samantha: The time constraints. I don’t think many readers understand how much time actually passes between “I have an idea” and “you can buy my published book here.” I’m so pleased when someone likes my work and is anxious to read more, but it does take time, and if you’re traditionally published, some of the timetable isn’t in your control.

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Samantha: Start building your community now. Find a critique or support group. Attend local literary events and start building a circle of colleagues and friends who write. Surrounding yourself with creative people at all stages of career is a great way to learn and grow, and when you’re ready to put your work out there, they’ll be your most ardent cheerleaders. Writers are among the most generous and helpful people I know!

Betty: Any hints of what your next writing project might be?

Samantha: My next novel will be a gothic romance, working title The Architect and The Heir. I began writing it this summer and I’m hopeful of finishing the first draft in late 2019 or early 2020. I’ve also got a collection of short stories I’m hoping to release as my first all indie project in 2020. Stories from Shadow Hill is a set of thirteen weird tales (think Twilight Zone for feel) all set in a suburban neighborhood suspiciously like the one I live in. After that, I’m back to my Menopausal Superheroes. Falstaff Books has contracted me for three novellas in 2020 and the fourth and fifth novels in 2021 and 2022, so it’s time to get cracking!

Thanks, Samantha, for stopping by today! It sounds like you’ve got your hands full for the next few years. Thanks for sharing about your stories and your writing process, too.

Happy holidays!

Betty

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