Author Interview: Erika Armstrong

Erika Armstrong 2Erika Armstrong is the author of A Chick in the Cockpit: My Life Up in the Air, which I found on Book Club Reading List. I don’t typically review non-fiction, but this biography really caught my eye! Read on for my interview with the author.

How did you come up with the idea for A Chick in the Cockpit?

This is a true story and the heroes are my book club! Too often, the heroines of popular real life stories hurt others (and themselves) while trying to find or repair themselves. They leave their husbands to travel the world, shoot heroin, or hike a trail because they’re hurting, but the majority of us have to just keep it together. We don’t have the option to just walk away, so I wanted to give readers a different perspective of how to survive a traumatic event/life. But, I believe in balance, so the reader also gets to sit in the cockpit of a commercial airliner with me. After thousands of hours being locked in the cockpit with men, I have gathered a few funny stories! I promise this story will make you pee your pants with laughter, cry with anger, and smile at the power of women.

Who is your favorite character?

Since this is nonfiction, they’re all great characters!

Describe your writing process.

Spastic. Sorry, that’s the best term for it. I’m a single mom and during the time of writing this, I owned and operated a horse boarding facility while also working 60 hours/week at another job. I just wrote when I could, so don’t let anyone think you have to sit down and write everyday, or that you have to meditate before, or some other ritual that magically makes you great. That’s all crap. You just do what works for you.

Who are some authors who have influenced you?

Every book I’ve ever read. Truly, I don’t have a favorite author, but IA Chick in the Cockpit have some favorite stories. I pay more attention to the story than the way it’s written, so I just wrote the story the way it happened and the way I think.

What made you want to become an author?

I enrolled in the journalism program at the University of Minnesota when I was 17 and thought I wanted to be a journalist. I did, but what the heck do you have to write about at that age? I ended up being lured into aviation, so now I have lots of things to write about. I am a professional pilot columnist for Disciples of Flight, NYC Aviation, Contrails, Flying.com, Mentor and Business Insider. My true story is what made me want to become an author.

What advice would you give to other aspiring writers?

Don’t take other author’s advice! Don’t let anyone think you’re doing it the wrong way. Your way is the right way.

Thank you Erika!! Readers, watch for my review of A Chick in the Cockpit coming soon! …after the holiday 😉

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Author Interview: Teresa Richards

Teresa Richards

I was able to speak with Teresa Richards, author of Emerald Bound, a young adult dark retelling of the princess and the pea fairy tale. After the interview, read on for more info about Emerald Bound and enter the *giveaway* for a signed copy of the book!!

How did you come up with the idea for Emerald Bound?

I’m cringing as I admit this but, honestly, the spark that started Emerald Bound was from a dream. In the dream, I had to save a friend who’d been taken captive, and a gemstone under her bed had the power to hold her there.

So weird, I know.

When I woke up, the gem under the bed immediately reminded me of the pea in the fairy tale, The Princess and the Pea. I’ve always loved fairy tale retellings and the idea of twisting up The Princess and the Pea intrigued me because I hadn’t seen it done before.

My creative juices went to work and I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. The story unfolded and grew and morphed into something I was so excited about. Seeing it come to life on the page was a ton of fun.

Who is your favorite character?

Garon is my favorite, simply because he was a surprise. As in, he was not in my original plan for the book.

Gasp, right? Now that he’s here I can’t imagine the book without him.

I knew I wanted to have a love interest in there somewhere, but I wasn’t sure who it would be or when Maggie would meet him. In the chapter where she literally runs into him as she’s fleeing the scene of her attempted crime, my original plan was to have her run back to her car and come up with a new plan. But she turned the corner and suddenly, Garon was there, in my head and on the page. It just happened. One of the best kinds of writing surprises.

As soon as he showed up, I knew he was a keeper.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

Yes and no.

None of my characters were based on real people on purpose, but several of them seem to have bits and pieces of my favorite people woven into them in different ways.

Some of my characters share characteristics with people I know, or they might share certain life experiences that have shaped them. And sometimes they might just talk the same.

For example, my fourteen-year-old son was reading Emerald Bound and at one point exclaimed, “Wait, am I Tanner?”
He was reading a part where Maggie’s brother, Tanner, drinks directly out of the kitchen faucet without using a cup. Maggie tells him to get a cup and Tanner says, “What for?”

I didn’t write this scene specifically with my son in mind, but it’s highly likely that I had that exact same conversation with him the day I wrote that scene, because we have that conversation on an almost daily basis.

So characteristics from people I love often creep into my fictional characters, sometimes without me even realizing it.

Fair warning.

Describe your writing process.

For my first drafts, I just sit down and write. The only thing I need is my laptop and complete silence. I often go to the library so I can concentrate on my writing without getting distracted by all the other jobs around my house that need to get done, but I like writing at home, too.

It’s a little different when I’m editing or doing rewrites–I can work on those almost anywhere, and I bring my laptop everywhere I go so that whenever I have down time (usually while waiting for one of my kids to be done with an activity I’m picking them up from) I can stay busy.

Sometimes I even leave my laptop out on the kitchen counter so I can tweak sentences in the down times while making dinner.

Who are some authors who have influenced you?

Maggie Stiefvater, A.G. Howard, and Rae Carson through their awesome writing, and several others like Lori Goldstein, Brenda Drake, and Diana Urban through their support and advice to beginning authors.

What made you want to become an author?

I’ve always loved to read, and writing has been an outlet for me since my earliest years of writing away a bad day in my journal. But it wasn’t until I’d spent several years raising babies and yearning for a creative outlet that I decided to write a book.

I wrote my first serious novel in three months and it was a magical, wonderful, amazing time. During that time, I didn’t think about anything but my book. I’d be pushing a kid on the swings and daydreaming about my characters, or doing the dishes while planning plotlines in my head, or driving my kids around and working out the perfect metaphor for my next scene.

In the end (after attending a writers’ conference, spending a year or so querying, and receiving a mountain of rejection letters), I realized that initial book wasn’t good enough to be published. But it had a ton of heart. And writing it made me realize I wanted to do this writing thing for real.

I started researching publishing, reading craft books, joined a local critique group and the online writing community, had a couple of short stories published, and tried again with Emerald Bound.

What advice would you give to other aspiring writers?

Everyone says this, but that’s because it’s true: Keep at it. Don’t give up.

That doesn’t mean your first book will be published. Or even your second or your fifth. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from reading other people’s success stories, it’s that every writer’s path is different.

But if you really love writing, and you can’t imagine keeping your stories inside you, then it’ll be worth all the time you invest in learning how to do it right. It will be hard, and it will probably make you cry a few times. But it will also be one of the most rewarding journeys of your life and you’ll make some great friends along the way.

The writing community is so, super supportive. Published authors are eager to share their knowledge because, in almost every case, someone once did the same for them. Everyone starts at the beginning.

Thank you Teresa!!

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Emerald Bound

 

Teresa RichardsEmerald Bound cover

Fantasy, Romance, Suspense

Evernight Teen Publishing ~ 83,000 words

Editor’s Pick

A princess, a pea, and a tower of mattresses. This is the sliver that survives of a story more nightmare than fairytale…

Maggie Rhodes, high school junior and semi-reformed stalker, learns the tale’s true roots after a spying attempt goes awry and her best friend Kate ends up as the victim of an ancient curse. At the center of the curse lies an enchanted emerald that has been residing quietly in a museum for the past fifty years. Admirers of the gem have no idea that it feeds on life. Or that it’s found its next victim in Kate. 

 Enter Lindy, a school acquaintance who knows more than she’s letting on, and Garon, a handsome stranger claiming he knows how to help, and Maggie is left wondering who to trust and how to save her best friend before it’s too late.

 If only Maggie knew her connection to the fairy tale was rooted far deeper than an endangered best friend. 

Excerpt: 

A part of me died long ago.

It was the part of me that feels, and it was Calista’s fault.

What happened tonight was nothing new—innocent victims welcomed into our home, not knowing they would never leave. I learned long ago I could not help them, so I stopped trying.

But this time something was different. This time I was awake, burning with a gut-wrenching guilt, as the next victims slept downstairs. This time I knew the victims. And they didn’t deserve what was coming.

It had always been hard for me to make friends. I’d been called loner, loser, outcast, and freak. Even still, I remembered Maggie offering to show me around when I first transferred to their school. Through her, I met Kate and Piper. The three of them were always nice to me, while other kids kept their distance and spread rumors behind my back. I told myself I didn’t care—I wasn’t like them.

But being a loner was lonely.

So tonight when I saw Maggie and her friends here, something inside me snapped. Or, perhaps it was the dead piece of me coming back to life. Now I cared desperately about what was happening in the room below mine.

But there was still nothing I could do.

Calista usually lured in victims from out of town to avoid arousing suspicion. Pregnant ones were a particular favorite—easy prey, she called them. But Maggie and her friends came here all on their own. The opportunity was too good for Calista to pass up.

Everyone thought Calista was my mother, but she wasn’t.

Back in my day, almost four centuries ago, Calista had an alternate method of luring in victims. She and her husband, Theodore, advertised for hired help with their inn. The number of parents willing to sell their daughters into a life of servitude in exchange for a forgiven debt or a clean slate was staggering.

My father was one of them.

By the time my mother found out what he’d done, it was too late. There was no escape. I was bound.

My story was well known in this land, whispered as a bedtime tale to ease children into sleep. But, just like any other story passed down through time by rumors and idle gossip, the fragment that survived was woefully incomplete. It began something like this:

There is rumored to have been (once upon a time, of course) a princess, a pea, and a tower of mattresses.

That much was true, though in actuality it was only one mattress, not twenty. The pea was also real, though most would call it a precious stone—an emerald, to be precise.

The gem that sealed my fate was now in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. Calista was furious when she found it missing. She thought I’d stolen it until she remembered my limits. The identity of the true thief remains unknown.

Even though the emerald is no longer in our possession, we are still bound to it, as it is bound to us. Admirers of the opulent necklace where it rests don’t understand it. Like me, the gem is a prisoner, struggling against its fate.

Even now, centuries later, I don’t understand all the details of what happened to me that night. But it began with a troubled slumber on a bed of enchanted emeralds.

About the Author:

Teresa Richards writes YA, but loves Teresa Richardsanything that can be given a unique twist. Her zombie stories ‘Are You My Mombie?’ and ‘The Zombie Code’ can be found in Z Tales: Stories from the Zombieverse by The Fairfield Scribes.

When Teresa’s not writing, she can be found either chasing after one of her five kids, or hiding someplace in the house with a treat her children overlooked. Emerald Bound is her debut novel.

You can connect with her on twitter @BYUtm33 or at authorteresarichards.com.

Giveaway:  1 signed copy of Emerald Bound!

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Author Interview: Andi O’Connor

Andi O'ConnorAndi O’Connor is the author of fantasy novel ‘The Lost Heir’, book one of the Dragonath Chronicles. It can be found on Book Club Reading List.

How did you come up with the idea for ‘The Lost Heir’?

The idea for ‘The Lost Heir’ came from my fascination with space and what it would be like to suddenly find yourself in another world similar to Earth, yet different enough for the protagonist to need to adapt. In some ways, the countries on Dragonath are more advanced than our first-world countries here on Earth, yet in some ways they’re extremely far behind and don’t have many of our modern conveniences. I really wanted to explore the difficulties someone would face. Not only is Darrak a stranger and outsider who must learn the ways of his new world, but he must also convince the people of Dragonath that he can be trusted.

Who is your favorite character?

I think my answer to this changes every time I’m asked this question!

For now, I’m going to have to say my favorite character is Mionee. She’s the main antagonist in ‘The Lost Heir’ but I wrote her in a way that is a bit different from most we see in fantasy. Instead of making her a blanket ‘bad guy’ I dug down into the reasons WHY she does what she does. She also evolves greatly because of events that occur to her and around her. Through that, I raise the question of how many good deeds does someone need to do to negate one bad deed they performed in the past. Can someone truly repent or will they always be remembered and hated for one atrocious act they committed?

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

Some of Darrak’s characteristics come from my husband’s college days as well as myself. I draw a great deal of characteristics from life experiences and people I’ve met, but I’ve never exclusively based a character on a real person.

Describe your writing process.

I’m definitely a pantster! I don’t outline or even plan out my story in any way. An initial idea pops into my head and I just start writing! Many times, I don’t even know where the story is going to end, and I never have any idea where it’s going to take me or how it’s going to develop. I let the characters and events carry me through.

That being said, I do take notes as I write to make sure there aren’t any inconsistencies within the story itself or between different books in a series. If I get an idea when I’m writing, I do write it down, but I don’t hold myself to it. Sometimes I’ll come up with something different or my characters will take me in a completely separate direction!

Who are some authors who have influenced you?

Terry Brooks is the author who has influenced me the most. He was my first introduction into the fantasy genre when my mom bought me his entire ‘Shannara’ series at Goodwill when I was 12, and he still remains my favorite author! What I really got from him was the realization to not limit myself within the common tropes of the genre. I allow myself to push The Lost Heirboundaries and write about topics that perhaps make people uncomfortable. I write to entertain, but I also write to make my readers think.

Ignoring an issue and pretending it doesn’t exist doesn’t make it disappear. Rape exists. We don’t want it to, but it does. It’s a cold, hard fact. Perhaps my character contemplating the time she was raped and learning to not let it control her life or define who she is will help some of my readers who experienced the same thing. Maybe, just maybe, it will help someone who DID rape someone else see their victim as a person and realize what their actions actually did, not just physically, but mentally.

Reading Terry Brooks and witnessing how real his characters are helped me realize that I shouldn’t be afraid to write about something because it might offend someone. There will always be someone who’s offended. And honestly, that’s not the end of the world. Talking about something is what brings about change. Ignoring it allows it to happen again.

What made you want to become an author?

I actually can’t say I ever had a moment where I decided I wanted to become an author. I had started writing ‘The Lost Heir’ during college just as something fun to do. I went back and forth, sometimes not touching it for months or years at a time. When my mom died in 2011, I decided to sit my ass in the chair and finish it in her memory. Once I did that I thought I might as well look to get it published. It was accepted by a small press and the rest is history!

Since its release in 2013, ‘The Lost Heir’ was recommended by the US Review of Books, and one of my short stories, ‘Redemption’ was a 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semi-finalist. My novel ‘Silevethiel’ is the 2015 Best Indie Book Award winner for Science Fiction/Fantasy and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2013, so I guess it was good I decided to plant my ass in the chair and finish my first book!

What advice would you give to other aspiring writers?

Stick with what works for you. Take others’ advice as simply that, advice. If you try it and it doesn’t work, don’t fret over it. Just because something worked for George R. R. Martin or J. K. Rowling doesn’t mean it will work for you, and don’t try to force it!

Be yourself. Write from your heart. Always strive to put your best work before the public. Hire a professional editor and don’t be afraid to take their suggestions. Sometimes the hardest thing about being an author is admitting you missed something or should have expanded/explained a situation or character better.

But the hardest thing? Not letting yourself get discouraged by that first (or subsequent) 1 star review. Everyone gets them, no matter what. It’s a part of being an author. Read it. Learn from it. If they give constructive suggestions, remember them in your future writing. But most of all, realize that you can’t please everyone, nor can you take everyone’s advice. Take the 1-star review for what it is and move on. Remember that if you bow to everyone’s suggestions and try to please every reader, not only is it impossible, but you’ll no longer be writing as you.

Best of luck in your endeavors and always remember to #embraceyourcrazy!

Thank you Andi!! Readers, watch for my review of ‘The Lost Heir’ coming soon!

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Author Interview: Patrick F. Rooney

Patrick F RooneyPatrick Rooney is the author of the epic historical drama The Angel of Innisfree, which can be found on Book Club Reading List.

How did you come up with the idea for The Angel of Innisfree?

Both of my parents were born in Ireland. They immigrated to the U.S. as teenagers after WW II. I always thought the dilapidated Creevelea Abbey was very mysterious when we would visit my grandfather in Ireland when I was a child. I also lived in Virginia for three years, where I became fascinated with Civil War history when I visited the many battlefields in the area. I was especially interested in the role the Irish played on both sides of the struggle, after many of them had immigrated to America on famine ships.

As an engineer, I’ve always been interested in studying inventions such as the telegraph and how they changed society, just as the Internet is doing today. I was fascinated when I learned how President Lincoln used it successfully to help win the Civil War. Writing this novel gave me a chance to do a deep dive into the history of the telegraph as well as all the other aforementioned topics.

Who is your favorite character?

Actually, it is Elizabeth, the concert pianist who falls in love with the main character, Brian O’Rourke.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

The main characters are fictional. However, the historical figures they encounter as well as the historical events described in the book are real.

Describe your writing process.angel of innisfree

I spent several weeks outlining the book to ensure the historical event timeline I planned to use was in place. I then went back and filled out the story lines over several iterations, developing the characters, settings, and theme.

Who are some authors who have influenced you?

Ken Follett, Tom Clancy, Edward Rutherford, Robert Ludlum, Frank McCourt, and John Steinbeck, to name a few.

What made you want to become an author?

I’ve always loved to read as well as write. I was fascinated with words when I was a child, so I’d often just read the dictionary when I didn’t have anything else to read. I wrote mostly poetry and short stories when I was younger. I became more serious as an author once I was financially successful to the point where I could take early retirement so I’d have time for all the research I do when I write a novel.

What advice would you give to other aspiring writers?

Read as much as you can from as many different genre’s as you can stomach. There are some excellent books written by successful authors that have been very helpful to me. Try to write at least something every day in a space where you can concentrate without being interrupted. Attend local critique groups to get feedback and encouragement for your work.

Thank you Patrick! Readers, watch for my review of The Angel of Innisfree coming soon!

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Author Interview: Quintin Peterson

I had the chance to interview Quintin Peterson, author of noir novella Guarding Shakespeare, which can be found on Book Club Reading List.

How did you come up with the idea for Guarding Shakespeare?

The Folger Library obviously was Quintin-Petersonthe inspiration for this noir novel. I started working at the Folger as a Special Police Officer in December 2010, about eight months after I retired from the Metropolitan Police Department after more than 28 years of public service. The Folger Library is a fascinating place and while guarding the treasures, a story occurred to me: A disgruntled security guard close to retirement is tapped for an inside job by a beautiful young femme fatale to heist a priceless artifact from the Folger vault. Think The Maltese Falcon meets The DaVinci Code. I wrote a short story version, which appeared in the January 2013 issue of Heater (formerly eNoir) Magazine (now known as Heater Magazine) and in March 2013, the novella version of Guarding Shakespeare was published. Although I have been a crime fiction author for several years, that story would not have occurred to me had I not been employed at the Folger.

Who is your favorite character?

I identify most with disgruntled security guard Norman Blalock because I understand him more, but Kavitha Netram, the beguiling femme fatale, is my favorite character.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

No. Characters in the book who have anything to do with the plot are purely fictitious. The rest are actual people the fictional characters either interact with in passing, or who witness the actions of the fictional characters. Fact and fiction collide. It’s also my way of acknowledging coworkers.

Describe your writing process.

Whenever a story occurs to me, I know, in general, the beginning, the middle, and the ending. When I prepare the first draft, I am telling myself the story…and ideas come along as I go. All the editing that follows has one purpose: telling the reader the story.

Who are some authors who have influenced you?

A few of my favorite authors are James Baldwin, Octavia Butler, Richard Wright, Tananarive Due, Chester Himes, Laura Lippman, George Pelecanos, James Patterson, Nelson DeMille, James Grady, and Lee Child.

What made you want to become an author?guarding-shakespeare-cover

I love the art of storytelling. I enjoy hearing a good tale as much as I enjoy telling one.

What advice would you give to other aspiring writers?

Aspiring fiction authors should first pick the genre they are most interested in, read a lot of work in that genre, and then write a lot.

Thank you for your time Quintin! Readers, watch for my review of Guarding Shakespeare coming soon!

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Author Interview: Laurel McHargue

Laurel McHargue

I got to speak with Laurel McHargue, author of “Miss?”, a realistic fiction novel that showcases what happens in public schools today. You can find “Miss?” on Book Club Reading List.

How did you come up with the idea for “Miss?”?

As an ex-Army officer with an MA in English and sons who no longer needed me full-time at home, I decided to teach what I know and love. I wrote in a journal nearly every day of my first year of teaching 7th grade English in a troubled school district and promised my students I would someday write a story about our year together. Seven years after making that promise, I knew it was time to tell the story.

Who is your favorite character?

Harry is my favorite character, probably because he is based on my dad, who died two years ago, just after I published “Miss?” My dad had a joke for every occasion. I felt that a character like this old man would create a nice balance for Maggie.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

Most of my characters are based on real people. As I mentioned above, Harry is based on my dad. Maggie, of course, is a single, younger, perkier version of myself (so I could add in some romance and intrigue)! Kirby is based on a real science teacher, and the other teachers are composites. The students I represent are composites of the over 120 students I taught that year, though a few who are represented are almost entirely based on specific students.

Describe your writing process.

My writing process is SO varied! I do well with specific challenges, so NaNoWriMo was a great tool and motivator. I finished a littlemiss-cover over 50K words of “Miss?” during NaNoWriMo 2012 and then finished the first draft by March of 2013. It helps me to write with a writing buddy who shows up for a couple of hours every weekday morning (and who helps me eat the bowls of almonds and M&Ms that invariably end up in our work space).

After trying almost every room in the house, I ended up being most comfortable and inspired writing on my living room couch with my feet up and a fire in the fireplace. I hate getting up early, so after a decent breakfast, I’m ready to start clicking away by about 08:30. By dinner time, I’m ready to relax and think about what comes next on whatever project I’m working. I take many breaks throughout the day to stretch, eat, walk the dog, chat with friends and family–so it’s not like I’m writing for hours on end, although I wish I could do that. I also use my voice memo option on my phone to capture ideas throughout the day, especially if I’m not ready to write. I type them up later and keep them in a file. Often, I will use timed writing prompts to take my ideas to new places, and I’m generally pretty pleased with what comes from them!

Who are some authors who have influenced you?

I loved Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” series as a young girl and particularly identified with Jo, but I’ve got to confess that the first book that had me sitting at the edge of my seat while reading was “Coma” by Robin Cook. I’ve been re-reading the classics lately and have newly fallen in love with Steinbeck. His “Grapes of Wrath” wrenches me to my core, and “The Winter of Our Discontent” is a gorgeous study of character. Bill Bryson is informative and entertaining, and I do love to laugh out loud while I read, something Erma Bombeck brought out in a younger me. Barbara Kingsolver’s books are treasures . . . I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here for now!

What made you want to become an author?

As a youngster I had a talent for making people laugh by recounting my adventures (and maybe because I was a funny-looking kid). My stories became more embellished as I told them. I loved timing my delivery of exciting moments and playing with new words.

Somehow, I became a moody teen, and found great solace in my journals. I liked to write about my feelings. It made me feel good.

Friends often told me I should write my stories, and I always felt that when the time was right, I’d be ready. I’ve written poems and essays and other short pieces over the years, but it wasn’t until I decided to complete the story I promised my 7th graders I’d write that I felt like a true author. Now I feel like the spigot is open and there’s no stopping me!

What advice would you give to other aspiring writers?

1. Write what you believe in, what you’re passionate about, what you truly want to write, not what someone tells you you have to write.

2. Keep a recording device or notepad with you ALWAYS!

3. Attend workshops that focus on the creative process.

4. Read as much as you can because that’s how you’ll learn new words and effective phrasing and how dialogue works (or doesn’t).

5. Do not expect to get rich fast, or ever, from your writing. Write because you feel like you must write.

6. Start a blog. It’s a great way to write short pieces about whatever’s on your mind, and you might even build an audience of people who like your style and what you have to say.

7. Try to gift yourself with a minimum of 30 minutes each day to write uninterrupted. Your goal, of course, will be to increase your writing time, but you’ve got to start somewhere, and a half-hour is doable for everyone.

8. Follow other writers, read books about writing, subscribe to things like Writer’s Digest and Grammarly and any other writing-focused groups.

9. Look into the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenges throughout the year and give one a try!

10. Don’t get discouraged by anyone. If you’re realistic in your expectations, your writing will bring you great pleasure. If it brings pleasure to others as well . . . BONUS!

That is fantastic advice! Thank you so much Laurel!

Watch for my review of “Miss?” coming soon!!

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Author Interview: Susan Sands

Susan SandsI had the opportunity to interview the lovely Susan Sands, author of Again, Alabama, which can be found on Book Club Reading List.

How did you come up with the idea for Again, Alabama?

I grew up in a really small town in Louisiana–I mean crazy-small. So, I have lots of memories of all the fun real-life happenings and people I met through the years. They say to write what you know…

I’m a real sucker for second chances and happy endings, and I love Southern food and culture; well, most of it, anyway. 🙂

Who is your favorite character?

I really love the Laroux family matriarch, Maureen. She has secrets–and comes to realize that no matter how old you are, you’re not too old, if you know what I mean.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

I cannot reveal the truth or I would lose friends and alienate family members. Actually, I tend to combine personas of those I know. I take traits from one and habits from another to create a hot mess.

Describe your writing process.

How it really is? Or how I wish it was? I’m not nearly as strict with a routine as many of my writer friends. I came to writing so late in life that it’s hard to create a structured day. I try really hard to spend a couple hours–or more–writing in the the morning. Sometimes, I don’t. But I tend to make up for it in the evenings or on weekends when I need to catch up on my word count. I don’t have a real job, so I’m very lucky!

Who are some authors who have influenced you?

I have authors who have mentored me through this journey. KarenAgain, Alabama White, Eloisa James, and Wendy Wax have all in one way or another given me a hand up, some really great advice, or a shoulder to cry on during the process. My critique partners and fellow authors, Tracy Solheim, Christy Hayes, and Kimberly Brock have been in the trenches with me and all have found their own success within their genres.

I read everything by Kristin Higgans, Eloisa James, and Karen White. Early on, I adored Sandra Brown, Judith McNaught, Kristin Hannah, and Luanne Rice.

I read historical romance, romantic suspense, contemporary, romance and some literary fiction. So, I don’t necessarily read only within my genre.

What made you want to become an author?

I was always a huge reader. There wasn’t much else to do growing up where I did, but I continued to read into adulthood. When I turned forty–call it my midlife crisis, if you will, I decided to give writing a try.

It was a shock to me that there were actually thousands of other people out there who had the same crazy idea as me. I joined my local and national chapters of Romance Writers of America. I tend to write along the lines of romantic Southern women’s fiction.

What advice would you give to other aspiring writers?

Don’t give up. You will be rejected. It hurts every time someone criticizes your work. Try and take something constructive away from it and understand that in most cases, whomever took the time to give you feedback wasn’t trying to hurt your feelings–they were trying to make you a better writer.

Take heart. It’s a tough business. Keep at it!!

Thank you Susan! Watch for my review of Again, Alabama coming soon!

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