Are you a Part-Time Writer Looking for Inspiration for 2014? You’ve Come to the ‘Write’ Place!

I’m starting of the year with a guest post from Nikolas Baron, from Grammarly.com. Have you heard of them? It’s a great site for writer’s who need help proofreading their work. From blog posts to essays, they’ve got the tools you need! But first, get inspired to start 2014 off the ‘write’ way!

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The Part-Time Writer

part_time_writerBeing a writer is, for many, a lifelong dream. Writing for payment is a thrilling accomplishment, but it’s usually soon followed by the realization that most writers do not make a living from writing alone. In fact, many writers pursue a separate, unrelated career while writing part-time, whether as a hobby or as a secondary source of income. For the part-time writer facing deadlines, a quality online spelling, grammar, and plagiarism checker can be a valuable tool. Saving time is just one aspect of creating success as a writer, however. Writing takes dedication, patience, and a willingness to learn the craft.

Being a writer is an admirable goal, but it’s not a realistic one. How does one become “a writer”? There is no pill, no bottled potion to be ingested, that will magically bring about the transformation. Becoming a writer begins with picking up a pen; but, having taken that first crucial step, the aspiring writer will discover that the journey has just begun. First, the writer must decide what type of writing he or she wants to do. Fiction or nonfiction? Short stories?

Articles? Novels? Each type of writing requires a unique skill set, and there is a distinct path to follow to the individual definition of success for every writer. It’s important to study the craft and read within and outside the genre to become a well-rounded reader and a better writer. Wanting to be a writer isn’t enough. It’s important to decide upon a genre and a style that best suits the writer’s individual dream. Becoming a writer is a dream. Transforming an abstract desire into a concrete success takes deeper thought.

Once the budding writer has decided upon writing mystery novels, for example, the next step is to set some goals. Novices may want to keep the goals reasonable, setting themselves to the task of writing for a set amount of time per day or obtaining a certain word count, depending on the time that can be found in between other obligations. Some professionals suggest that writing every day is critical to success, while others claim that a certain amount of time must be invested. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Time and discipline are important, but the definition of success is an individual one that only the writers themselves can create. Goals create personal milestones, giving the writer a measuring stick against which to check progress. Setting the goals is entirely up to the writers themselves.

Time can be a precious commodity in our fast-paced world. Between work, family obligations, hobbies, volunteer work, and other commitments, the idea of finding time to write might seem out of reach. However, it can be done. It may be necessary to write out a simple schedule, noting work, family obligations, and other time constraints, and then consider the blocks of time that are not already committed to other pursuits. Television viewing might have to be sacrificed. Getting up a little earlier in the morning, for a morning person, or staying up a little later in the evening, for a night owl, might be an option as well. Moreover, a shorter lunch break might provide some time to indulge the muse.

Time, however, is not always the only consideration. Many writers need to “warm up” to the page, to shift gears from their day jobs into the mental work of writing. It is necessary not only to find time to scribble a few words on a page but also to find long enough blocks of uninterrupted time suitable for writing. Indeed, protecting the quality of one’s writing time is as important as finding time to write in the first place. If writing is not a priority and if the commitment is not as firm as the Saturday-morning golf game or the monthly martini lunch with the girls, it will never get off the ground.Marjorie Facklam, author of numerous children’s books, began writing while raising her five children, with several still in diapers. If a harried mother of five can find time to research and write rhyming science picture books like Bugs for Lunch while chasing toddlers and maintaining a household, any writer can find time in their schedule. Often, the question isn’t one of time, but of commitment.

Connect with  Nikolas Baron on Google+      Plagiarism Checker

nick-Grammerly Guest posterAbout the Author:

Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown childrens’ novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling, and reading.

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow this blog!

MJ

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#NewRelease- Exit Strategy- A Parody: The Ghetto Girl Romance Quadrilogy by L.V. Lewis

Maybe you’ve heard of it….that novel that parodies 50 Shades of Gray, but is about a lot more than ‘the life’, 50 Shades of Jungle Fever? If not, you need to catch up!

I’m happy to share the second release of my good friend, L.V. Lewis’s second novel in The Ghetto Girl Romance Quadrilogy, Exit Strategy! 

ExitStrategy_LVLEWIS_Ecover_final

 

Ex·it Strat·e·gy (noun) 1. A preplanned means of extricating oneself from a situation that is likely to become difficult or unpleasant. 2. The method by which a venture capitalist or business owner intends to get out of an investment that he or she has made in the past.

 

Will Keisha and Tristan exercise their elaborate EXIT STRATEGY and end their unorthodox arrangement?

Assailed by demons she thought she had conquered, Keisha Beale has uttered the words to end her tumultuous relationship with Tristan White. Separated, they grapple for a time with their personal demons. However, when their lives apart become unbearable, a credible threat brings them back together prematurely.

As they seek to discover who is responsible for the threats, several seemingly unrelated incidents throw them into a tailspin. Will Keisha’s youthful indiscretions or Tristan’s un-reconciled feelings for a former sub derail their tenuous arrangement?

In the meantime, trouble in Nathan and Jada’s paradise send dramatic ripples that hint of future difficulties in the idyllic pairing.

Nothing Ventured…

Tristan uses his vast wealth and connections to correct a gross miscarriage of justice, while Keisha makes herself utterly vulnerable to Tristan and fears he has chosen to exercise his own exit strategy.

…Nothing Gained!

Will this be the end of the indecent arrangement that became a fairy tale? Or will Keisha and Tristan reveal the trauma from their pasts so they may heal and completely embrace their relationship?

Sensual, suspenseful, and still infused with the riotous levity of Triple-G and Fairy Hoochie Mama, the Ghetto Girl Romance Quadrilogy departs from full parody with a distinctive take on love, loyalty, sacrifice, redemption, and acceptance.

Amazon     Barnes & Nobel     iTunes     Smashwords     Kobo     Sony eBook Store

 

Excerpt: Chapter Seven

“Tell me again why you can’t stay?” Tristan says as we stand in front of the elevator.

“Because it’s just not a good idea. And I don’t have anything to wear.”

“Actually, you do,” he says. “Mrs. Naven found some things in the laundry after you left. Problem solved.” He takes both my hands and backs up into the sitting room.

“Tristan, we still have some things to sort out. Tonight was great, but I still don’t think I’m cut out to be your submissive.”

“Just my submissive, Keisha?”

I drop my head. “No. Anyone’s.”

“You’re afraid you’ll have panic attacks again, aren’t you?”

I feel like I’m about to be swallowed up by the sincere blue eyes tracking and pinning mine so effectively I can’t look away. “Yes. And I’m no use to you if I can’t endure the scenes, particularly the occasional disciplinary consequences.”

“What if there was a way you could?” His finger traces a gentle path down my cheek.

“What do you mean?”

“Just what I said. If there was a way we could work around the panic attacks, would you come back? For good?”

“You mean until you perfect your exit strategy? That’s what you venture capitalists call it, don’t you?”

“Ah, someone’s been paying attention at our semiannual business meetings?”

“I have a rather exacting mentor who insists on being heard.”

“Asshole,” he says and pulls me close.

I place my hands on his chest in an effort to sustain some emotional equilibrium, but he doesn’t let me go. “I’m the one who’ll be ass-out when you lose confidence in your investment and decide it’s time to diversify your portfolio again.”

“I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon.” He draws me closer, palming my hips, and I get his point. Pun intended. “I can’t seem to get enough of you.”

I slip out of his arms and put some space between us. “Chemistry has never been an issue for us, Tristan. I know your lifestyle is important to you, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up.”

The truth is, I’m hopelessly in love with a man who hasn’t given me any indication that he will ever want a real relationship. Nothing has changed on that front. He still just wants just a Dominant/submissive relationship, which might enjoy a longevity his other arrangements haven’t had, but it will eventually end.

Can I really do this? I certainly don’t think I’ll become any less in love with him over time. Reentering a sexual relationship with Tristan now would be exceedingly counterproductive to the reasons I left in the first place, but I am hard-pressed to make myself walk away again.

Tristan moves so close behind me that I can feel the warmth of his skin, his breath wafting over my ear as he speaks. “We’ll take things slow—again.”

He runs a finger along my arm, and gooseflesh sprouts like ivy in its wake. I feel a pull toward him that can only be described as magnetic—my body eager to be reunited to his. Even though it could conceivably be more painful for me this time around, I’m not sure if leaving him again is within the realm of possibility. I can’t rationalize staying, but leaving becomes increasingly more difficult with each second I remain in his presence.

I turn to face him. “Slow isn’t necessarily going to keep the attacks at bay.” Or guard my heart if he decides he’s done with me.

“We’ll figure out a way to do that together.” He takes me into his arms again. “These three weeks have been  . . . just please stay.”

I look into his eyes, and all I want to do at that moment is kiss him senseless. He may not have given me a declaration of love, but somehow I know this is as close as I’m going to get with a man like Tristan White. For now.

As an answer, I stand on my tiptoes, throw my arms around his neck, and kiss him with everything in me.

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Master w Whip (1)

L. V. Lewis doesn’t have the financial means of Tristan White, but she wouldn’t want readers to go away from this new release empty handed, so she’s giving all readers the chance to win some fabulous prizes.

This time there are too many to list, but you can read the list and “Like” or “Follow” the Authors participating in my Release Day to enter the attached rafflecopter giveaway!

The giveaway will run from now until November 28, so like and follow my friends, then tweet about the giveaway daily to increase your odds of winning!

The giveaway will run from October 29th – November 28th.

During the week of October 29th – November 5th, Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever will be on sale for $.99!

giveaway-time

 

 

DISCLAIMER:  If for some reason the book doesn’t load on all the platforms by the release date, this will be due to circumstances beyond my control. I apologize in advance for any snafus that might occur.

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR

L. V. Lewis has one foot in South Georgia and the other in North Florida. She’s been blessed with a husband who’s put up with her for a lot of years and has given birth to four children, two of whom she has raised to adulthood and one to near adulthood. She delights in her almost empty nest status so much that she writes the kinkiest novels she can conjure up.

L. V. Lewis’s Exhaustive List of Contact Info:

 Email: lv.lewis148@gmail.com

 GoodReadsTwitterFacebookThe Block, & Pinterest

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

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#WriterWednesday- Interview with M. O. Kenyan!

Today I welcome fellow 5 Prince Publishing author, M. O. Kenyan! She is a versatile writer from South Africa with an overactive imagination and an unlimited amount of stories to tell. Take a moment to get to know her!

author pic

Welcome, M. O.!

What inspired you to write?

Plenty of crazy thoughts go through my mind. I love daydreaming a lot, thinking up situations, relationships, and events that I would like to be in. It’s my time out from the real world. I spend a lot of time in my head. I thought that maybe it would be a great idea to put it down on paper and welcome the rest of the world into my wacky mind.

What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?

Romance is my main thing. I write fantasy and contemporary. I have an action thriller coming out in July COVERT EXISTENCE with LazyDay Publishing. It’s the first I have done and I have developed a taste for it. I am looking forward to writing more of it.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

It depends. Sometime I go to a publisher’s site and see that they have different themes they are looking for. I write to their deadlines. Otherwise if it is something of my own, unattached I can write a book for a whole year. Right now I am finishing a book called THE NEWYORKER’S BETRAYAL. I started it in 2012 June, and I am yet to finish. I at times put ongoing projects aside if I’m stuck and work on something else to keep the creative juices flowing.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I can write three books at a time. I have a wandering mind.

Are you a pantser or plotter?

 I go with the flow. Planning hasn’t always turned out the way I want it to.

Are your stories based on experiences based on someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share and example?

I put a little bit of myself in everything I do. An example is my upcoming release DENOUEMENT with Secret Cravings publishing. The cheating part is something I pulled out of my own experience. It brought a lot of anger to the surface.

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?  Write what you want. I am a Kenyan girl, who is living in South Africa. I don’t know how the hell New York looks like, other than what I see on television. That doesn’t stop me from writing. A better example is AVATAR the movie, I am quite sure there are no blue giants walking around somewhere.

Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

I have only self-published one book THE MARA SONG this is set in the Kenyan Mara. My other books are published by independent publishers.

What are your current projects?

Currently I am working with my publishers to get my work published and out in July. I am writing the second book of my sports series SPORT KINGS THE GIANT’S TRUTH. And I am also trying to complete THE NEWYORKERS BETRAYAL. I am keeping myself busy.

ShadesOfSpring1964-1

Maxine tries to deal with her mother’s death in her own way. But when she finds old letters revealing her family’s past she finds herself creating a bond with someone else, not knowing how far their history goes.

Taylor is amused and infuriated with Marine, and no matter how hard he tries he can’t stay away from her. Now he finds himself being her main supporter, the only one she can lean on as she travels back to the past. And when the past is resolved they now have to think of their futures, while they concentrate on their present.

Amazon      Amazon Author Page

About the Author: 

Reading,Writing, Romance, Creativity and Imagination. These are the words that describe my work.
I was born in Nairobi Kenya and had a passion for books ever since I could remember. Romance and love have always been a strange phenomenon for me. I have always wanted to change the ending of a love story. I decided to start writing my own. I am a published author attached to 5 Prince Publishing, Secret Cravings Publishingand LayDay publishing. I have one book out at the moment but more is coming your way in 2013.

Enjoy!!!

 

Twitter     Facebook     Goodreads     Google+     Blog     Website     Linkedin

 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

 

MJ

 

About Me     Twitter     Facebook     Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

 


#WriterWednesday- Intervew with Belinda Nicoll!

This weeks featured author is Belinda Nicoll, and does she have an interesting story to tell and wonderful advice for aspiring authors! Sit down with your cup of coffee and get to know her!

Belinda Nicoll

Welcome, Belinda!

What inspired you to write?

I grew up in South Africa in an era of storytelling as television viewing wasn’t an option. The National Party (apartheid) government of the time saw television as a potential threat to their control of the broadcasting media—nationwide service only commenced in the mid-70s. Injustice aside, listening to the radio, reading books, telling stories and stargazing were our main forms of home entertainment. I guess it was thanks to this influence that I excelled at literature as a high school student. My formal writing career started as a copywriter in the advertising industry. While I loved the creative process and being part of an innovative team, I really wanted to tell stories. But that opportunity, ironically, only presented itself years later as a compulsory career change, details of which form part of my memoir: Out of Sync.

What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?

My first published book is a memoir. It chose me through the circumstances of my expatriation from South Africa to the United States in 2001. It was a period of upheaval in my life: a divorce and empty nest followed by an unexpected romance, an expatriation motivated by my second husband’s career, arriving in the U.S. on the day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and multiple relocations and career changes over the next ten years thanks to a declining global economy. Working as a life coach for a big part during this period, I was familiar with the dynamics of change, so I decided to write about the impact my own transformation together with the changes in a post-apartheid South Africa and post-9/11 America had on my life, career and relationships.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I make myself comfortable in front of the computer with my first cup of coffee as early at 7am. I break for a gym session or a walk either late morning or early afternoon; I try to be disciplined about this as all-day sitting tends to take it’s toll on my body. There was a time when I’d work some more after dinner and over weekends, but these days I’m more inclined to give myself a break from the computer by catching up on reading, watching TV, going to movies with my husband and socializing with friends. As much as I sometimes allow myself to become preoccupied with a writing project, I believe the world’s obsession with work is more a need to be fashionable than a necessity and has given rise to blatant abuse in the workplace. Everyone seems to be driven by deadlines and social media obligations. Meanwhile, the world is engulfed by information. Have we lost our awareness of the need for balance?

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I tend to over-think things before committing thoughts to paper.

Are you a pantser or plotter?

 I am so NOT a pantser!

Are your stories based on experiences or someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share an example?

 In the case of my memoir, I’d probably answer YES to both questions. I guess my work-in-progress novel can be considered historical fiction, though I’m exploring both historical events and universal concepts. The Anglo-Boer war in South Africa and Hurricane Katrina would be two historical events that feature in my book; the concepts of war, rape and intergenerational shame are examples of universal phenomena that I’m exploring.

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Think things through: What are your real motivations for writing? What type of writer do you want to be seen as? What kind of stories would you like to be known for? What can you do to ensure that your writing rises above the clutter, and jewels, out there? Do you aspire to entertain, educate or change the world? Understanding yourself better can only lead to works of greater depth.

Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

I am an Indie author. At one point, my manuscript was under serious consideration; in the end, it did not crack a sale—the writing was already on the wall with regards an industry collapse. I wanted to move on, not only with my book but my career. I don’t regret my decision at all. I don’t expect a literary agent or publisher to back an author unless they feel passionate about the project, but that the chances of perfectly capable newbie authors are jeopardized by the industry’s greed is despicable.

What are your current projects?

I’m working on the novel that I’ve describe above as well as a creative writing guide, which is my first priority and should be published by the end of the year.

About the Author: 

Belinda Nicoll is originally from South Africa. She expatriated to the United States in 2001 and has been a citizen since 2010. She holds a BA degree in the social sciences and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Belinda was a talent agent and drama coach before venturing into the advertising world as copywriter. These days, she works as a freelance writer and teacher of creative writing. She’s an active blogger, and her favorite subject to explore and write about is change.

 Website     Blog     Amazon Author Page     Facebook Profile     Facebook Page     Twitter    LinkedIn

book cover

In 2001, when a couple leaves South Africa for a stay abroad, they land at JFK International Airport on September 11th, unprepared for the sight of smoke billowing from the Manhattan skyline or the horror of a second plane exploding into the North Tower.

Over the next ten years, as their host country confronts fundamental change of its own, their marriage buckles under the strain of their disparate experiences. With the international economic crisis making it all but impossible for them to return to their country, they relocate from California to the North, the South, and the Midwest searching for a place they can call home.

Out of Sync is an insightful tale about marital endurance that promises to enthrall anyone, expatriate or not, who has ever felt at odds with themselves or the world.

Out of Sync (where to buy)        Out of Sync (Amazon)

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook     Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

#WriterWednesday- Interview with Dianne Harman!

Today I welcome author, Dianne Harman. Grab your coffee, sit back, and get to know her!

Dianne Author Pic

Welcome, Dianne!

What inspired you to write?

I’d always wanted to write but I didn’t feel that I had enough credentials, you know, the how many workshops have you attended, how many writing groups are you in – and then my husband gave me Stephen Kings seminal book, On Writing. It gave me the freedom to just do it.

What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?

I really struggle with that question because I just don’t have an answer. My first book, Blue Coyote Motel, has been called a romance, a mystery, a thriller, a travel story, Americana, Alfred Hitchcockian and Twilight Zone like. Other than a basic premise and a couple of characters who immediately fit in the book, the rest evolved.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Blue Coyote - Dianne Harman for ad2I generally split my time between writing, marketing and editing and re-editing.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I sit down and write. I have a very general idea of what the plot is and where it’s going, but what I find is that the characters begin to take over the story and tell me where it’s going. It’s fun because I get to read a novel while I’m writing it!

Are your stories based on experiences based on someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share and example?

I think if writers were honest, and if they’re writing contemporary fiction, there is going to be an element of their experiences in the novel. Two examples come to mind.  In Blue Coyote there is a scene where Jill treks to the Mani Rimdu festival in Nepal. I did that and it was one of the more interesting experiences in my life. In Tea Party Teddy, the main character is a composite of many of the Senators and Assemblymen I came to know when my husband was a California Legislator.

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Edit, edit and re-edit. Ask people to be Beta readers and ask for feedback from them. We often are so caught up in our slant of the book that we miss things that will make it better. There’s a tendency not to share our writing, kind of like what if someone said your firstborn was ugly, but it’s critically important to get feedback.

Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

Tea Party Teddy by Dianne Harman ebooksmI am self-pubbed. A mentor of mine was very strong about self-publishing since he had lost a lot of money because he had gone with a publisher. I have complete control over everything and I make more money.

What are your current projects?

I am in the process of re-editing books two and three in the Coyote series as well as the sequel to Tea Party Teddy. I’m about halfway through a boomer novel about women and what they deal with as they begin the second stage of life, plus I’m playing with doing a series based on one of the characters in Tea Party Teddy, a private eye who has captured my imagination. But ask me tomorrow, it will probably change as something new captures my interest!

Connect with Dianne on these links!

Twitter     Facebook     Google+     Goodreads     Smashwords     Amazon     Email

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook     Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

 

#WriterWednesday- Interview with Florence Osmund!

The one thing I love about writing is the opportunity to meet a wide variety of authors from various genres. I meet Florence when I joined the Women’s Fiction author group on Goodreads. Take a few moments to learn about this talented author!

Osmund_7786

What inspired you to write?

Years before I started writing novels, I jotted down anything and everything that I thought I could use in a storyline. Then, when I was ready to write, I retrieved those hundreds of scraps of paper, sorted through them, put them in piles, and lo and behold, a story emerged. So when you ask what inspired me, I have to say it was family, friends, and strangers saying and doing a vast array of different things.

What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?

So far I have written two historical fiction books and am currently working on a third. My first two novels take place in the 1940s, and the third one takes place in the 1950s. For reasons unknown to me, I am drawn to that time period.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I typically spend mornings participating in on-line discussion groups for authors (LinkedIn, Goodreads, and Facebook), marketing my books, and managing e-mail and Facebook messages. In the afternoons, I write.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I donʾt know if this qualifies as a quirk or not, but Iʾm not motivated to write unless I have at least two hours at a time to devote to it.  I would be interested in knowing if thatʾs the case for other writers. On the other side of that, I find myself having to take at least an hour break after writing for four hours.

Are you a pantser or plotter?

With regard to writing (and I assume thatʾs where youʾre going with this question), I fall somewhere in between a pantser and a plotter. I typically start out with a brief outline of the story—beginning, middle, and ending—and go from there. However, sometimes as Iʾm writing, the story takes on a life of its own and goes in another direction, in which case I go with it and revise my outline.

Are your stories based on experiences based on someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share and example?

As I mentioned in an earlier response, when I hear or see something in real life that I think would make a good scene or storyline, I jot it down. For example, one day I was walking down a Chicago street on my way to a restaurant. A young couple was in front of me. All of a sudden, the man leapt into the street toward a moving car. The back door of the car opened, and he jumped in, but only after turning toward his companion and yelling, “Iʾll catch up with you!” She was left standing there with her mouth wide open, obviously dumbstruck. I used that scene in my first novel. It fit beautifully.

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?

I devote much of my website to offering new author advice—advice I wish I had received before I started writing my first book. The most elementary and important advice I have for them is to read, read, and then read some more. Read books in your genre, and keep notes on what made the books good or not-so-good, and then use that knowledge in your own writing. For example, did you feel connected to a certain character? If so, why? Were you unable to put the book down? If so, what kept you turning the pages? What did you consider to be the bookʾs value? Learn from other authorsʾ successes and failures.

Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

I self-published through CreateSpace.

What are your current projects?

My current project is titled, “Mystic Coins.” The male protagonist in this novel, Lee Winekoop, comes from extremely wealthy parents who give him everything anyone would ever need to be successful in life. That seems to work for his two older brothers, but unfortunately, not for Lee. This is a story of how a young man deals with weaknesses, frustrations and feelings of inadequacy, but more importantly, this is the story of differing views on what defines success in life.

1Coach House Front Cover

1945 Chicago. Newlyweds Marie Marchetti and her husband, Richard, have the perfect life together. Or at least it seems until Marie discovers cryptic receipts hidden in their basement and a gun in Richard’s desk drawer. When she learns he secretly attends a mobster’s funeral, her suspicions are confirmed. And when she inadvertently interrupts a meeting between Richard and his so-called business associates in their home, he causes her to fall down the basement steps, compelling Marie to run for her life.

Ending up in Atchison, Kansas, Marie quickly sets up a new life for herself. She meets Karen Franklin, a woman who will become her lifelong best friend, and rents a coach house apartment behind a three-story Victorian home. Ironically, it is the discovery of the identity of her real father and his ethnicity that unexpectedly changes her life more than Richard ever could.

BUY your copy today! 

About the Author

Florence Osmund grew up in an old Victorian home in Illinois, complete with a coach house, the same house she used as inspiration for her first two novels. She earned her master’s degree from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management and has obtained more than three decades of experience in corporate America. Her website is dedicated primarily to helping new authors—offering advice she wishes she had received before she starting writing. Osmund currently resides in Chicago where she is working on her next novel.

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Interview with Minnie Lahongrais!

                                             

I had the privilege to meet Minnie on Twitter over a year ago, in response to a blog post she’d written about dealing with the negativity family/friends can have towards your writing. Since then, we’ve become friends and have encouraged each other along the way. I’ve had the opportunity to read her first novel, Sinner’s Ride, and I have to tell you, that was a different type of story, nothing like what I’ve read before! I like different, something that steps outside the ‘box’ and breaks the rules, because it’s what I do with my writing as well.  December 12th was the release of her second novel, Divergent Lives, and let me tell you, it too is different! Next week, Minnie will be dropping by again to talk about her new release, so for now, I’ll let her tell you about herself!

Welcome, Minnie!

What inspired you to write?
I have always been an avid reader and I still have books I purchased as a teenager. In fact, I was a member of the Doubleday Book Club as well as the Book of the Month Club since I was about thirteen until my early forties. I still have books I purchased that way. I absolutely love the smell of a new book as you crack its spine.
My father passed away in 2005 and I became increasingly despondent. Four years later, after enduring a really bad break-up that left me in the hole for thousands of dollars, I still wasn’t any better; in fact, my depression became worse. I was broke and couldn’t afford therapy and a friend suggested I keep a journal to pour my feelings into. I didn’t want to do that because if anything happened to me, I didn’t want anyone to know what I was really thinking or feeling. I put on a smile and every day I went to work.
The fact that there were constant terror alerts in the neighborhood where I work – Times Square – didn’t make it any better.
While sitting on the train one day, I glanced over at the woman sitting next to me who was holding a book opened to a chapter entitled When Dreams Die and I had an epiphany. I desperately wanted to know what she was reading but didn’t want to intrude.
As I walked to my office from the train station, I asked myself “What if dead dreams could be resurrected?” and Resurrection of Dead Dreams was born. That was on May 13, 2010, a week before my father’s birthday.
I began writing in earnest that day, at my desk, at my day job.
What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?
I’ve created my own genre: the Pink Diamond Genre! I am often asked that question and frankly, I don’t like being boxed in. Labeling myself feels claustrophobic to me. That is why I enjoy being an Indie Author. Both Sinner’s Rideand Divergent Lives are psychological thrillers. My Resurrection of Dead Dreamsseries is urban fantasy.
As a newbie author, I want to try different things. I do have a dark imagination so I will probably write more books like my two previous works, but I would also like to try my hand at erotica … oooh. That didn’t sound right! Ah! Double entendres!
What you probably won’t see from me – I won’t say never because never is a long time – but it is unlikely that I’ll be doing love stories with any happily-ever-afters. Call me jaded, but I can’t relate.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I have a very demanding day job where the hours tend to be long. I’m usually up between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m. when I automatically reach for my phone and go through emails, tweets, blog posts and Facebook postings. I then physically get out of bed around 6:15, perform morning prayers then get ready for work.
My commute is between an hour and an hour and a half long, so I usually read from an eBook or research I may have printed previously. If I don’t have lunch plans – which I rarely make – I write or research during my lunch hour and then I read some more during my evening commute.
When I get home during the week in the evening I do the social media thing for about an hour, exercise a bit and then I prepare to do it all over again the next day. I’m usually in bed by 9 p.m.
Weekends, I don’t leave the house unless it is absolutely necessary. A couple of times during the month I’ll hang out with my daughter and her family or I’ll have my grandson over. When I don’t have plans with them, I will leave my office Friday night and not leave my apartment until Monday morning because I’ve been writing or researching.
Since I’m just recovering financially, when I take vacation time, I stay close to home and spend 90% of that time writing. I am my most productive when I know that I have a big block of time that I can dedicate to writing.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I can only write in complete silence because I am living what I write. I become my character. Also, I don’t drink alcoholic beverages when I’m writing and my best writing is done at night.
Are you a pantser or plotter?
I am more pantser than plotter though I have begun to list the issues I need to address in my manuscripts.
With Divergent Lives I did use the Marshall Plan to flesh out the characters but I couldn’t get into planning every little detail of the story. Whenever I tried to stick to the plan, the characters rebelled and went their own way. When I allowed them to take over, the story flowed and evolved organically.
I’m thinking I might try Scrivener for Resurrection of Dead Dreamsbecause it is a much bigger, more complex story. I’ve put together a masthead for the characters already created along with background information on each, psychological profiles and their connections to each other.
Are your stories based on experiences based on someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share and example?
All of my stories have a grain of truth in them. They all contain an experience, a feeling – something from my own life that I engorge with fiction.
For example: Like Adina and RJ from Divergent Lives I was born of immigrant Puerto Rican parents in the dead of winter in the middle of the night. I grew up in East Harlem in the late 60s and 70s — just like Adina.
RJ grew up in Lebanon, Pennsylvania where I have cousins.
I live near Riverdale.
I actually frequent the Thai restaurant Qi — the place where Adina has a major event.
Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Write, research and write some more. Never stop looking at the world around you. Let your imagination roam freely. Don’t be afraid to fail. Not everybody will like your work, but don’t stop writing.
 MJ: Wonderful advice and oh so true!!

Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?
Sinner’s Ride was published by a vanity press. Divergent Lives is published under my own banner Lahongrais Books.
I love the creative control I have being a self-published author. I love being able to see in real time how my book is doing. I love choosing my own team. I don’t love the expense, but I love what I do and I know I will always find a way to make things happen.
What are your current projects?
Right now I’m focusing on marketing and promoting Divergent Lives. Soon, I’ll revisit the eighteen chapters I have completed in Book One of my series Resurrection of Dead Dreams. I have a list of things I need to research before I can begin thinking about how this story is going to play out.
                    

Blurb: 
Divergent Lives is a psycho-thriller with decidedly deviant twists to a sociopathic theme. It tells the story of RJ and Adina who enter the world as fraternal twins, one raised by old-world, controlling immigrants in El Barrio, the other sold into a religious home filled with lies and scorn. Both are sociopaths.

Turns out, RJ’s got a secret that enrages him with the flip of a switch. Adina uses her sexual power to dominate every man in her life. They are on a mysterious trajectory to cross paths in New York City, where the end of their lives culminates in an apex of horror and carnage.

Links:

Check back next week for a guest post by Minnie sharing more about her current novel, Divergent Lives!

Interview with Debbie Brown!

I am often amazed by the people I’ve meet along my publication journey. Everything from fellow homemakers to to full-time, hard working professionals. I meet Debbie about a year ago and was startled by  what she told me about her work history, as well  as what inspired her to write. I’m sure you’ll be just as  fascinated with my Canadian friend!

Welcome, Debbie! 
      What inspired you to write?
Although I have always had a fertile imagination, loved reading and never left home without paper and a pencil, I didn’t start writing stories until I hit high school.  Always hoping I would eventually write a novel, it wasn’t until the tragic loss of my baby that I finally found myself turning to writing as an outlet. I did not want to write about my experience, I needed to create a place where people truly cared about others.

MJ: I am so sorry for your loss. I know many writers have found writing to be a great outlet  to help us heal. I know I have. 

   You have a lot of irons in the fire. Not only are you a wife, mother, and author, can you tell us a little more about what else you do? What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I am a member of the Canadian Forces, Captain and 2nd in command of an army cadet corps.  An injury from the time of my loss has left me with a seriously damaged ligament, and I have since had to stop teaching Karate, flying, and working outside the home. I had enjoyed teaching on military bases but can no longer keep up since there are days I walk with a cane.
I write every day, with the exception of a day a month where no computer-no internetis imposed for peace of mind. Some mornings I get up before anyone else, and other days I write long into the night. I have to write around everyone else’s schedule, but so far it seems to be working. I can’t imagine having time to just sit and write undisturbed.
      What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Are you asking me if I miss my exit driving because I’m having a discussion with my characters? ;o)  Well, for one thing, I tend to research everything to death. For example, instead of picking an existing town, I take the details of the town I’ve created and find its match on internet. When I wrote Amethyst Eyes, I didn’t know if the Earth setting was in Canada or the U.S. until I found a place that fit all established criteria. As it turns out it is in Invermere, British Colombia. I have been known to spend days doing research for something that had no more than a line in the story, but I want my facts to be accurate.
MJ: I once got stuck in a six level parking garage while plotting out a scene in my head. I didn’t realize it until I passed the same car for the fourth time! LOL!

    Are you a pantser or plotter?
So not a plotter…
I let the story unfold before me and hurry to type what I see. (My mind is faster than my fingers…). I am totally detached from what’s going on to the point where my characters manage to surprise me with what’s happening.
I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have recently completed an advanced writing course and had to plot out my stories…sheer torture. I would rather be out on survival training than have to do that again. I use charts though, character charts with everything from physical description to quirks, and because I write Sci-Fi, I have charts for food, clothing, technology and whatever else might be needed. Much easier than sifting through pages and pages to know what so-and-so was doing/wearing.
 Are your stories based on experiences based on someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share and example?
I think my experiences has served me to no end, from nursing to martial arts, raising animals to military training, and so much more. Having taught martial arts, gymnastics, baseball, elementary, high school, and military candidates has given me a whole slew of characters and characteristics to choose from. I do have the writer antennae though…observing people, places and situations, and either describing it through a narration or fitting it into a scene somewhere. My mind is seldom at rest…and being able to multi-task is not always a good thing.
   Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become better writers? If so, what are they?
Write. Don’t wait to find the time, take the time.
Don’t look to others for support if it is something you want to do, just do it.
Read all you can read, and learn anything and everything about writing.
Write what you know, what you like, what you are comfortable with.
You will need an author platform, might as well get started on it early.
Don’t wait until your book has been released to start promoting it, start now.
Ask questions, engage in discussions, get your work critiqued, and most of all…have fun.
     Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?
Although I had been offered a traditional contract for Amethyst Eyes, when I was told it would take 12-18 months before the release of the novel (and then they added “…though lately it’s more like 18-24…”)  I declined the offer and went with Assisted Publishing. I was dying inside and needed to see this project through. I loved the service I got, though I found the final cover to be too dark (my pic is much lighter), and the fact that the book appeared worldwide…but let’s be honest, what are my chances of selling a book in Croatia?
For Rebirth, I have a contract.
MJ: Congratulations! We’ll be looking forward to your new project! 
  What are your current projects?
Rebirth has been offered a publishing contract, and they are waiting on the completion of Amethyst Eyes, the Legend Comes to Life as well as Emma, to Begin Again.  I am ecstatic. 
I handed in my last writing assignment a few days ago, and that takes a load off of my shoulders.
Marketing is not something that can be ignored, and I can’t help but wonder what the impact of marketing one vs. marketing four novels.

MJ: Debbie, with my  second novel due out in March, I think we’ll be learning this step together! 

AMETHYST EYES
Waking up in the hospital from the car accident that claimed his mother’s life, 15-year-old Tommy is told his father is on his way. Unaware of his father’s true identity or the reason he left so long ago, the teen is unprepared for the reality of the life he must now lead. In the blink of an eye Tommy finds himself on an alien vessel…his father is not from Earth!

The challenges Tommy face go beyond adapting to a new home and school. But first, he has to survive Jayden…the reluctant, unsympathetic tutor, tasked to help him fit in. When he finally thinks things are getting better, things come crashing down as he learns that being born with amethyst eyes has made him the target of some very unfriendly beings.

AMETHYST EYES…THE LEGEND COMES TO LIFE
Three years after his arrival onboard, Tommy begins Specific Training to assume his place in his father’s society. The transition to adulthood, laden with unexplored emotions and overwhelming responsibilities, have made this unstoppable change too much to handle. Tommy wants to go back home, to Earth, to a way of life he’d been forced to leave behind. An unforeseen attack on his father, a disaster on Earth, and the added weight of responsibility take their toll on the young man, who suddenly finds himself struggling to save the ones he loves.
REBIRTH

Chased from their homes in the city by aliens bent on destruction, three teens suddenly find themselves on the run with little kids in tow. As people vanish and buildings crumble, they seek shelter and safety in the nearby mountains of Montana. Survival depends on their ability to adapt with nothing more than the items pilfered from a crumbling store. Hovering in the background is the constant threat of being discovered by the aliens, adding to the pressure the teens already feel having no shelter, a limited supply of food and the well-being of three children to ensure. The teens must come up with some creative solutions before the inevitable onset of winter while attempting to remain “invisible” to avoid capture. Being mature and responsible is no longer optional as they deal with their individual personalities, traumas, and learn to raise a baby. Unaware of the extent of the alien destruction, they cannot help but wonder if all their survival efforts are just putting off the inevitable.


EMMA

As an ER nurse, Emma knows life can change in the blink of an eye. When fate comes knocking, she finds herself far away form the city and back on the mountain ranch where she grew up -with the intention to close up and sell so she can move on.

But fate isn’t done with her yet, and that’s when she finds him, the one Two-Feathers refers to as ‘Star Brother’. Wounded and unconscious, Emma assumes he’s a military test pilot, until he opens his amethyst eyes and stares into the very essence of her being.

ABOUT THE  AUTHOR
I am a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature, and have completed an advanced writing course for select graduates as well.

I have been traipsing around the depths of my imagination for as long as I can remember and began writing stories back when I was twelve. I love to read just about anything, from technical manuals to self-help, sci-fi to romance. I do avoid anything overly violent or graphic and have never been a fan of horror. I have a good memory and vivid imagination so I avoid reading or watching things I don’t want stored in my mind.

Amethyst Eyes was my first published novel. It is about a 15-year-old boy who has to leave his life behind to go live with his father after losing his mother in a tragic accident. Although the setting becomes sci-fi (since his father is not from Earth and Tommy has to live on his father’s spaceship), the story is more about growth and human interaction. There is a lot of adventure and a few twists to keep the readers busy throughout the book.

Over the years I have worked as a nurse, a school teacher, a martial arts instructor, baseball, figure-skating and gymnastics coach as well as an artist, selling my paintings in an art gallery. I have been part of an orchestra, flown planes and gone on wilderness hikes. I am an officer in the Canadian Forces, and though I have taught on different military bases, I now work primarily with cadets. Writing full time is my next goal.

Never having been much of a city girl, I live with the youngest of my four children, my husband Jean-Pierre, and Wookie, our Cardigan Corgi, in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec. I could not imagine life without the beauty found in the mountains and lakes that surround me. I enjoy the change in seasons and my perfect cure for a long winter’s night is curling up in front of a fire with a good book while snowflakes drift slowly past my window.

Follow these links to connect with Debbie online or purchase her book! 
Purchase links:

To Hire an Editor or Not to Hire an Editor…That is the Question!

Editors. In the world of writing, we all need one. The question is when.

During my writing journey, I’ve heard various tales, feedback, and opinions.

No, don’t hire an editor to read your work before submitting. You’ll be wasting money. Let the publisher pay for it.

Yes, hire an editor; it could increase your quality of your product and give you an opportunity to actually find and agent and/or publisher.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

When it all comes down to it, the true question is: how much money do you want to invest?


Two years ago, the thought of an editor reviewing my work scared me. The idea of someone ripping it to shreds, and spitting it back at me, demanding that it be re-written because it wasn’t good enough, had me cursing the profession. I pushed that thought aside and focused on writing a story I wanted to tell. Next, I focused on learning as much as I could about sentence structure, setting up the paragraphs, scene breaks, chapter breaks, and POV changes. Then, I built the infamous repeated/passive word list to tighten up my prose. I’ve gone over my list so many times while doing my own edits, I rarely have to pull it up to know what words to avoid. In fact, when I write a scene, I now catch those words and change them before they hit the screen.

However, that doesn’t cover everything. There are still the annoying details of correct grammar usage, using the right word tense, and spelling. Unless you were a serious English major in high school, college, or took a class specifically for this type of detail, there’s no possible way you’ll ever be able to catch every errorl. To be honest, no one ever will, even if that’s what he or she does for a living. Why? Because we are all human. And humans make mistakes, whether we want to believe it or not.

A perfect example: how many times have we as readers picked up a novel by one of our favorite New York Times Bestselling authors who have the backing of a big name publishing house, only to discover a major editing error? Come on, we’ve all done that. Why? Human imperfection. No matter how many hands and eyes touch a manuscript is read, no matter how many attempts are made to dot all the ‘Is’ and cross all the ‘Ts’, humans make errors, especially if it is your own writing.

So, what does that mean for the aspiring author, or for an author who is self- published?

It means you have a decision to make. How much do you want to invest in yourself?

The investment is not only about money; it’s also about time.

If you decide to use an editor, how do you know you’ve found an editor you can work with and who is qualified? Of course, the first thing everyone looks for is reputation. Word of mouth from other authors in your writing network is great, too. Nevertheless, in the end, it comes down to one-on-one communication. Does the editor understand your type of writing ? Do they edit a lot of work in your genre? Will they be able to understand the rules of the genre you’re writing? What time-frame are you looking for? Will it take a few days or a few weeks before they return your work? What type of editing are you paying for?

Type of editing? If this is new to you, then it’s something you must know. There are several types of editing available. What’s the differences?

Copywriter or Copy-Editing:
Their job is to be sure your story is written well and logically structured. Correct grammar and spelling is checked, as well as ensuring the manuscript fits the publishers ‘style’. They ask questions of the author and check story facts.

Content Editor:
Their job is to ensure your work meets the standards for accuracy and style. They check for spelling, grammar, coherence, consistent style. They also proofread to be sure copy-editing work has been completed.

Proofreader:
In the publishing world, a proofreader is generally the last person to see your manuscript after it’s been through other editors’ hands and before it goes to print. Their job is to do a final read through to catch any mistakes the first editor may have missed. This is generally the most affordable.

If you are not shopping your manuscript around and have decided to self-publish, you should seriously consider having at least one of these editors review your work. Depending on what phase of your writing career you are in, it may not be in your budget. If you go the proofreading route, then know, you MUST review your work again after it is returned. If you don’t and there are issues that were pointed out and you don’t review them, it is on you, not the editor.

So, what route will you choose?

Here’s what I’ve learned. Today’s agents are meticulous. Not only does your story have to engage them and keep them interested for at least the first three chapters, the quality of your writing has to as well. Sending them an unedited copy – and by that I mean, work you haven’t spent time searching for errors yourself – makes a difference. The cleaner the read, the more focused on the story they will be, not the plethora of errors littering the pages. Taking that amount of time, or money, also lets them know that you, the author, are willing to put in the work it takes to make a better product. With the current economy, every business is looking for ways to cut down their expenses. If you walk in the door offering a product they can spend less money on before making it available for sale, you increase your chances of them choosing your manuscript.

Sell yourself.

Here’s another fact you must remember: if you decided to use an editor…don’t just pay them and expect what they send to you in return doesn’t need to be reviewed. Any editor, especially a professional, will tell you that after they do their magic, it’s up to you, the author, to review your manuscript. Just because they make changes or suggestions does not mean you have to accept it. It’s up to your discretion. But, you still have to re-read your work from beginning to end. It’s up to you to put that stamp of approval on it before sending it out into the world . That requires more work on your part. If you don’t do the work, then you will have to deal with the consequences of any un-corrected errors. The editor’s job is to work with you, which means you in turn must work with them.

I’ve had the opportunity to talk to a proofreader many of you may have seen on Facebook or Twitter, @TJProofs. She shared some helpful information on how to determine what type of editor you need, depending on the amount of work you’ve put into cleaning up your manuscript.

“A proofreader, which is my specialty, is generally the last person you see. They focus on clean manuscripts, after they’ve run their gamut (through a publisher), but many people try to skip the steps. The fact of the matter is, if you are horrible at punctuation, you choose a copy-editor. If you feel you’ve got punctuation licked, but your story needs a scouring for consistency, you may choose a content editor. If you have a great idea, but need someone to go through your MS with a fine-toothed-comb – rewriting sentences for clarity, passive statements, content, and punctuation – then you need a full-scale editor.” 


To learn more about TJ and the services she offers, visit her at www.ManuscriptProofing.com. Other places where she can be found are:

Facebook, Twitter
Blog: manuscriptproofing.blogspot.com
Email: TJProofs@gmail.com or TJ@ManuscriptProofing.com

I hope this information has been informative. Whether or not you choose to use the services of any of the above editors, I wish you the best on your writing journey!

MJ