Historical Fiction Fanatics, you’ve got to read this.

Do you often find yourself browsing your local antique stores, binge watching shows like Penny Dreadful and Downton Abbey, and fondling leather-bound classics at the bookstore?

I know I can always count on Jane Austin and Henry James to lift my spirits whenever I’m down in the dumps. Give me a sunny day at the Renaissance Fair and I’m giddy for a week.

I found my love of literature by reading historical fiction and romance. Today, I’m happy to share that love with you by introducing you to three talented writers who just so happen to write historical fiction.

First up is Mari Christie, writer of historical fiction and editor extraordinaire. She has a brand new release out about a newsman that’s caught between his Southern family upbringing, his own values, and his life in the North with his wife and children just as the Civil War breaks out. I’m in the middle of Chapter 11 and completely enthralled. Here’s a peek into Blind Tribute, which just released July, 28th, 2017.

The Wentworths were founding members of the club, had contributed most of the building fund and many of the Negroes who had built it. Behind the wall to their left, on one of the frame beams, he and Edward had carved their initials when they were seven or so.

Harry’s father—Palmer Harrold Wentworth the Second, called Second since the day his son was born—came through the door from the dining room.

“You have no claim on our family history or this club. I’m sorry I gave you my name.”

His father’s tall, thin frame was tensile as a fencing foil, and his face like the dry husk of a topiary labyrinth, sharp angles and deep lines, compelling, thorny, and difficult to escape. His grey hair, the thick, wiry hair he’d passed down to Harry, and to Harry’s son, was tied in a queue and much thinner after ten years, but his suit looked exactly the same, as did the expression on his face.

“You’ll not be joining anything,” he barked. “You are a damned Yankee and a traitor to the South. Go back to Philadelphia where you belong.”

“Father. It’s lovely to see you in such good spirits.” His half-smile hid wary eyes. “I had assumed from your responses to my past infractions that the shock of my arrival might have killed you.” He raised his glass to his father’s health and took a sip.

The long veins on the sides of his father’s neck distended and began to quiver. “I am long since accustomed to your disregard for your family and position.” His tightly-wound fists were a concession to his better nature. “Your mother and sister are distraught, and you would have them ostracized rather than rein in your propensity for gossip and scandal.”

“My opinions are hardly gossip. Not a year ago, Harper’s called me a national treasure.” Harry turned to the man who had declined his cigar, now two seats away at the bar. The man stuttered and tried to look away, but Harry kept his gaze. “I’m sure you must have read a few of P. H. Wentworth’s opinions. Would you consider them gossip?”

His father was the one who answered: “Your opinions are nothing short of treason. Only your mother’s defense has kept me from calling you out already.”

“I have no such compunction,” Edward spat. Harry remembered Edward had been a hell of a good brawler in the down-rent pubs at Oxford, and he had the same look in his eye now. He might finish off hundreds of Yankees before the war was over, starting with Harry. “Unless you’d like to meet me at dawn, I’d suggest you leave.”

“I try not to do anything at dawn but read the newspaper. But,” Harry offered, “I’d be happy to meet you for supper any evening to renew our acquaintance.” Harry considered his cigar, which might not be in his hand much longer. “Either of you.”

“I am nothing but sorry we ever had an acquaintance. It’s time for you to leave.”

Harry puffed on his cigar, and waited to see if his father or Edward would be the one to bodily throw him out the front door. Before the answer presented itself, two big barmen converged and tried to grab his arms. He yanked himself away, downed the last of his drink, and thumped the glass back onto the bar. “I suppose I shouldn’t bother to come to the house.”

Harry’s father took two threatening steps toward him. “If you contact your mother or sister, I will run you through.”

Harry held his ground without flinching, but a sense of finality imbued his father’s words, such as Harry had never heard in more than fifty years of animosity between them. He drew on his cigar one last time and strategically retreated before his father decided to murder him in cold blood, in broad daylight, before witnesses.

“Anne and your grandchildren send their best,” Harry called over his shoulder. The manager handed him his coat and hat as he reached the door.

Harry had answered his own question, with less trouble than expected. If his own family would cast him out, he couldn’t count on anyone in the Confederacy remembering him fondly.

 

Every newspaper editor may owe tribute to the devil, but Harry Wentworth’s bill just came due.

As America marches toward the Civil War, Harry Wentworth, gentleman of distinction and journalist of renown, finds his calls for peaceful resolution have fallen on deaf—nay, hostile—ears, so he must finally resolve his own moral quandary. Comment on the war from his influential—and safe—position in Northern Society, or make a news story and a target of himself South of the Mason-Dixon Line, in a city haunted by a life he has long since left behind?

The day-to-day struggle against countervailing forces, his personal and professional tragedies on both sides of the conflict, and the elegant and emotive writings that define him, all serve to illuminate the trials of this newsman’s crusade, irreparably altering his mind, his body, his spirit, and his purpose as an honorable man. Blind Tribute exposes the shifting stones of the moral high ground, as Harry’s family and friendships, North and South, are shattered by his acts of conscience.

Mari was “raised up” in journalism (mostly raising her glass at the Denver Press Club bar) after the advent of the web press, but before the desktop computer. She has since plied her trade as a writer, editor, and designer across many different fields, and currently works as a technical writer and editor.

Under the name Mari Christie, she has released a book-length epic poem, Saqil pa Q’equ’mal: Light in Darkness: Poetry of the Mayan Underworld, and under pen name Mariana Gabrielle, she has written several Regency romances, including the Sailing Home Series and La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess. Blind Tribute is her first mainstream historical novel. She expects to release the first book in a new family saga, The Lion’s Club, in 2018.

She holds a BA in Writing, summa cum laude and With Distinction, from the University of Colorado Denver, and is a member of the Speakeasy Scribes, the Historical Novel Society, and the Denver Press Club. She has a long family history in Charleston, South Carolina, and is the great-great niece of a man in the mold of Harry Wentworth.

All links to purchase Blind Tribute may be found here: www.books2read.com/blindtribute

You can find Mari online at www.MariAnneChristie.com/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MariChristieAuthor

Next up we have Quenby Olson, writer of historical romance and historical suspense. I have read several of her books, and each and every time I fall more in love with her writing. A master of prose and imagery, I’m always eager to get my hands on her next release. Here’s a peek at The Bride Price, available August 1, 2017.

“And if I do marry this man you’ve chosen, do you promise—” She stopped herself there. All her life, she’d known how well her father had kept to his promises. “Will I still be able to see Katie and Sarah? Will they be allowed to visit with me?”

He eyed her for a minute, and she wondered what thoughts he was choosing to entertain. “You may see them as often as is convenient,” he said at last, and in that moment she knew that he was keeping something from her.

“I see.” She needed time to think, a day, a week, perhaps an entire year. But she knew her father and she knew that he would not give her the single tick of a clock if she asked for it.

Her sisters. . . If she was still allowed to see them, to have teas and outings with them, maybe even to have them over to stay at her new home, then perhaps she could still have some influence over their lives and prevent their father from using them as pawns in the endless game he played to regain the fortune he’d already lost.

“Make your choice, Emily.” Her father had turned back to the fireplace, his fingers sliding over the elaborately carved woodwork with the caress of someone who would pinch the entire house and place it in his pocket if he could. “The sooner we can sweep up this mess you’ve made, the less tarnish we’ll have to scrub off the family name when we’re trying to dupe a few fellows into picking up Katie and Sarah, eh?”

She heard the sound of footsteps above her, followed by the opening and closing of a door beneath her feet. It was almost profane, she thought, that the day-to-day activities that burdened other people’s lives should be allowed to continue while she stood there and watched as her own life, her future, was so swiftly and irrevocably demolished.

To save her family from scandal, Emily Collicott must marry.

Ruined in her first season in London, she is given no choice but to wed her father’s pick for a husband, or be cast out from her home. Emily agrees to marry William Hazlitt, a man she hardly knows. But William remembers her. Growing up as a tenant on her father’s estate, he admired her from afar, their lives kept separate first by class, and then by loss.

Emily seeks to begin a new life with this quiet man to whom she finds herself wedded. But the scandal she escaped in London soon finds her again, the very man who destroyed her reputation threatening to tear down the happiness she’s found with her new husband. To keep from losing everything, she must either make a deal with a devil… or learn how to defeat one.

 

Quenby Olson lives in Central Pennsylvania where she spends most of her time writing, glaring at baskets of unfolded laundry, and chasing the cat off the kitchen counters. She lives with her husband and three children, who do nothing to dampen her love of classical ballet, geeky crochet, and staying up late to watch old episodes of Doctor Who.

You can purchase The Bride Price on Amazon here: http://a.co/1BWn24d

You can find Quenby online at https://quenbyolson.wordpress.com/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/QuenbyOlson/

Last, but not least, we have Lawrence Hogue, writer of historical romance as well as other fiction and non-fiction. As a member of The Speakeasy Scribes, I have read a couple of his shorter works, and can vouch for his mastery of ink on a page. In a nutshell, he’s awesome. Here’s a little peek at Daring and Decorum, also available August 1, 2017.

At last Anthony broke the silence. “Elizabeth, I have been meaning to apologize for my behavior when the highwayman assaulted you.”

“Apologize? For what should you apologize? We were all of us in danger.”

“Yet I should have prevented his outrageous behavior toward you. It is a moment I will regret for the rest of my days. When I think that we used to play games of chivalry in this very spot, and then when the opportunity for true chivalry arose, I was not up to the challenge. You stood up for yourself more than I did.”

I stole a glance to see him staring dejectedly at the lane before us. “Perhaps, in such a situation, a woman can get away with what a man could not. Had you provoked him more than you did, he might have shot you. And you did challenge him to a duel.”

“Empty bluff and bluster. I knew he wouldn’t honor such a challenge. No, it was my duty to protect you, and I failed. And now Father bids me to follow him to London.”

The silence lengthened once more. “You depart today, do you not?”

“We leave within the hour. I wanted to pay my respects before leaving.”

“It is most appreciated,” I said, employing that cautious reserve through which I had always hoped to safeguard both our hearts, though now my preoccupation with the highwayman also played a part. I was searching for a different subject for our conversation when he went on.

“Elizabeth, is there no chance your father will send you to London for the latter part of the season?”

I allowed him half a smile, careful not to let my gaze linger too long on his bright blue eyes or the smooth skin of his high cheekbones, tanned from his recent outings afield. “I’m sure he’s worried that an eligible bachelor would capture my heart and take me far from home.” Anthony knew as well as I that Father had not the means to send me, along with Mrs. Simmons, to London. “No, he is happy that I content myself with Devonshire society. It does not trouble me.”

He was silent for several moments more, then said, “I wish I could stay in Devon. Town is not for me — too crowded, too many people to know and their ranks to keep track of. I prefer it here in the country. I don’t see what London has to offer, and I grow tired of having my every move directed by my parents.”

I kept my attention on the lane ahead of me, unwilling to lead him farther into danger. “What is there to occupy you here, now that the sporting season has ended?”

But my efforts were of little use. He stopped in the lane and placed a hand on my arm, his voice low and filled with meaning as he replied, “More than you know, Lizzie.”

That was the moment at which, to please Father and Mrs. Simmons, I should have turned my pleading eyes upon him and asked, in all innocence, whatever could he mean? Following which, he would no doubt pour out his heart and kiss my hand, pledging that he would stand up to his father in choosing a mate.

But I knew how that would end, for I was sure that Anthony had not the heart to defy his father for long. And even if he did, where could it lead? For it was well known that the bulk of Holbourne’s lands were free of entail, and Lord Highdown could dispose of them as he wished, leaving Anthony the poorest Earl in the kingdom when he took the title. Would Anthony commit himself to a life of relative poverty and humiliation in order to marry me? I was certain not. The inevitable result would be heartbreak for us both, the loss of our friendship, and my own reputation sullied as the foolish girl taken in by the frivolous romances of a nobleman.

Now I was glad for all my father’s training, as it allowed me to steady myself for what I must do. “Come now,” I said, masking my true feelings with more playfulness than I felt. “I haven’t a doubt that you will be a great hit in the ton. Half the eligible girls will be falling over themselves to capture your attentions. You will make your parents very happy and proud.”

For a moment he seemed to consider defying his parents’ wishes, proclaiming allegiance to his own heart, but then his expression grew more determined as his upbringing as a gentleman and heir to the Earldom asserted itself. “You have always been my greatest friend, Lizzie. You always have much better sense than I do.”

“You sound as if you are off to war! I hope we will be the best of friends for years to come, when our children are playing together on family visits.”

I gazed at him as calmly as I could, then we continued our walk, maintaining our silence until we reached the joining of the lane that led to his family’s estate, where we bid our farewells. I continued toward the village, conscious of a certain hypocrisy in urging my friend to ignore the demands of his own heart, when I could not quiet my own thoughts after one kiss from a stranger, and a rogue at that.

Elizabeth Collington, the twenty-year-old daughter of a country vicar, longs for more than the circumscribed life of her 18th-century Devonshire village. When a highwayman steals a kiss along with her mother’s necklace – provoking feelings of which her father would never approve – she suddenly has a secret no one must know. But the highwayman also has a secret: “he” is actually a woman.

Will the story of the highwayman’s past – complete with a tyrannical husband, a gloomy castle, and a daring escape into London’s underworld – persuade Elizabeth to abandon propriety in favor of passion? In the end, can the lovers make an independent life in a world where women are little more than property, evading both the redcoats and the jealous young lord who would tear them apart?

Daring and Decorum is comedy of manners wrapped around a gothic tale; a mashup of Jane Austen, Alfred Noyes’ poem The Highwayman, Robin Hood, and Moll Cutpurse; and a passionate case for the freedom to love whom one chooses.

Buy Links for Daring and Decorum:

Amazon | Amazon UK | B&NWebsite | Smashwords

Lawrence Hogue’s writing is all over the place and all over time. He started out in nonfiction/nature writing with a personal narrative/environmental history of the Anza-Borrego Desert called All the Wild and Lonely Places: Journeys in a Desert Landscape. After moving to Michigan, he switched to writing fiction, including contemporary stories set in the desert and fanfiction based on the videogame Skyrim. He’s a fan of folk music, and got the idea for Daring and Decorum while listening to Loreena McKennitt’s outstanding adaptation of Alfred Noyes’ poem, The Highwayman. When not speaking a word for nature or for forgotten LGBT people of history, he spends his white-knighting, gender-betraying energies on Twitter and Facebook, and sometimes on the streets of Lansing, MI, and Washington DC. He’s been called a Social Justice Warrior, but prefers Social Justice Wizard or perhaps Social Justice Lawful Neutral Rogue.

That’s three fantastic books for all you histfic fanatics. That should keep you busy for a while.

So tell me, what’s the last historical fiction or historical romance you read that knocked your socks off?

 

I write sweet and spicy romance, and enjoy reading a wide range of genres. Exploring the art of the written word is a passion, and I delight in both page-turning conflict and stomach-flipping chemistry. Other than English, I speak Spanish, Moroccan, and a little French. My dream is to travel the world with my laptop, creating captivating characters and dreamy escapes. I sing constantly, if a bit off-key to my family’s chagrin. I’m also a klutz, and in my own mind, I’m hilarious.

Website: http://www.yoursweetandspicyromanceauthor.com/

Signup to join My Dream Team: http://eepurl.com/bjAzz1

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No More Excuses

CellRecently, I came to the realization that my excuses for not having time to write were… poppycock. Yeah. I said it. I love old-timey swear words. I could have gone with horsepucky or shite… but I digress.

What really gets my goat (ha, there’s another one) is when writers preach about writing every day. Every flipping day? I don’t have time to write every day. I barely have time to go to work, eat, and sleep let alone give my children and/or husband any sort of attention. Oh and I’ve been sleep deprived for years. On average I go to sleep at 1am and get up at 6:30am. So there’s no getting up before the crack of dawn to write. If I could, I’d be out getting the exercise I desperately need.

But you know what? Those writers are 100% correct. I’m the one who is full of it.

A little background: I work full time and spend about forty-five minutes commuting each way to work. My job is high-stress and I vary rarely get an actual break, usually opting to shovel food into my mouth while continuing to work at my desk. I sneak out for a cigarette or two every five hours or so (I know they’re bad for me, don’t judge) at which time I catch up on social media or read on my Kindle app. When I get home, I’m bombarded with “Mommy, I’m hungry,” or “What’s for dinner?” before I’ve even closed the front door. Writing time comes in the form of either blocked time on the weekends in which I have more than five minutes to sit down and concentrate, or isolating myself at a coffee house. That’s what has worked for me in the past. That’s what I’ve been doing thus far.

Last week, I had a breakthrough. I’m part of a few writing groups that I’m deeply grateful for. They offer encouragement, share knowledge, and are full of genuinely giving people. Last week, my peeps over at The Cerulean Project were sitting down for some silent writing time as a group, which I’ve taken part in before. I’d been stuck, mentally plotting a scene in my current WIP for about ten days. And so even though I had yet to arrive home from work, I thought I’d experiment with writing the scene a few different ways to see which way would work best with my current outline. The commute train I take every day leaves its passengers just enough room to squeeze in like sardines and hold on for dear life. Getting a seat and opening up a laptop is out of the question. But I managed to write about 900 words anyways.

How did I accomplish the amazing feat, you ask?

I tapped out the words with my thumbs on the notes app on my cell. Yep. On my cell. As far as writing goes, I’d only ever used my cell for quick notes before, opting for anything longer to be handwritten in my notebook when away from my laptop, which is also impossible to pull out on the train. But I did it. Cell phones are not the devil. In fact, I was so encouraged, the next day I chucked my social media time on my morning commute in favor of writing again. I did the same on the way home. End result: Over 2700 words written on my cell during three train rides. Amazing. Of course, I didn’t know how much I had actually written until I went home that second night and transcribed it all into my WIP, but still…

So to all the naysayers, who claim they can’t find time to write, I call bullshit. You can write anywhere. Where there’s a will there’s a way. Stop making excuses. If you don’t have time to write, it’s because you’re not making time. Turn off the T.V. and social media. Make time. If I can do it, you can do it. Now, go write.
Author Pic Final 2016

I was born and raised in San Francisco, CA, and have a husband and two children. Music is an addiction. I can often be found in the car, singing along at the top of my lungs to whatever is playing. I work full time, and I split my spare time between family, reading, blogging, and writing. I’m a habitual quoter. Lines from films and TV shows constantly pop into my head—my kids are the only ones that really get it. I’m an only child, and so of course I married a man who is one of ten children. Other than English, I speak Spanish, Moroccan, and a little French. I love to travel, but don’t do enough of it. Reading has been a passion for most of my life and I now love writing. I’m klutz, and in my own mind, I’m hilarious.

 

 

Find me at http://www.yoursweetandspicyromanceauthor.com/

Signup to join My Dream Team: http://eepurl.com/bjAzz1

When did writing become a quick-buck business?

Fountain Pen MF

Growing up, I developed, as I’m sure many others did, stereotypical opinions of what I thought it meant to be a writer.

I placed them in two distinct categories:

The romance writer – The creators of paperback fantasies shelved on the bedside tables of women everywhere. They inspired hushed whispers about heart-throbbing heroes and an equal amount of snide comments from critics. After all, they were just trashy romance novels, not to be taken seriously.

The fiction writer – The introspective creators of literary fiction, suspense, horror, mystery, and fantasy. They spent years perfecting the next great American novel. They agonized over their notebooks and typewriters in darkened coffee houses and bars. Often loners, they were intimidatingly intellectual, and consumed by their goal of winning a Nobel Prize in literature.

I pictured the classic starving artists: The, forty-something man in a sweater vest and glasses, drowning his sorrows in bourbon as he throws balled-up pieces of paper to the ground containing words he deems unworthy of publication. And Miss lonely heart who once loved and lost it all, smoking her cigarette while pouring out her lack of love-life onto the page causing women everywhere to swoon and blush. Both misunderstood and most likely suffering from depression. These were people who spent their lives perfecting their craft. They either traveled the world searching for inspiration and insight into the human condition, or shut themselves away, introverts to the core.

Those were my stereotypes growing up, before I really fell in love with the written word. My ideal of what it’s like to be a writer has since drastically changed. I know that each has their own method, desires, passions, drive, experiences, and motives. I look up to them, romance writers included. After all, wasn’t Jane Austen a romance writer?

However, the “I will write to get rich quick” philosophy was never part of my musings. Sure, we heard about the rare writer who through their prolific words inspired generations. They attained fame as a respected wordsmith, winning awards and accolades from the literary world. But even with modern fiction authors like Stephen King, John Grisham, Nicolas Sparks, and Nora Roberts, who consistently attain bestseller status and secure film adaptations of their work, it’s never crossed my mind that they do it for the money.

J.K. Rowling’s rise to fame certainly changed the image of the starving writer for many people. She wrote fabulous books and won the literary lottery, earning more money than any of us can even fathom. We are happy for her and look to her as an inspiration for struggling writers everywhere. But wait, let’s back up a minute. She wrote fabulous books; books that will forever be classics. That is the key. Her books inspired millions to read. Suddenly, children and adults, who never read for pleasure before, picked up her books and fell in love with reading. Her books will live on, well past her lifetime. Why? Because they were really well written, extremely creative and original, delivered a powerful message about friendship, love, and loyalty, and were freaking awesome books. Her fame is well deserved.

That kind of fame for writing is extremely rare and wildly misunderstood. Unfortunately, I think too many people have started writing for the money. Please don’t misunderstand me. Writers should be paid for their work and paid well. This business of giving away books that writers have spent months or years writing for free is total horse sh!t.

However, somewhere along the line, in my opinion, some writers went from being passionate about writing the next great novel, to passionate about making a quick buck. This is not to say I look down on the successful writer. I don’t. I’m happy for them and want my own success someday. Success is a funny thing though, and everyone has a different definition of what success means to them.

Would I be upset at achieving true bestseller status? Hell no. I’d be proud, excited, and a bit scared if I’m being honest. But I’m having trouble getting to the point in this post, which may be why I’m not a successful writer yet.

Okay. My point is this: Why is it so damn hard for writers to accept that writing takes time, effort, passion, experience, and practice? Why are so many writers complaining they aren’t making enough money? Why do authors get angry when they don’t make it big?

I don’t freaking understand. When did writing become a quick-buck business?

It’s the same reason I don’t understand why teachers complain they are underpaid. Of course they are underpaid. It’s a travesty how undervalued teachers are. My father is a retired teacher. I have two kids. Teachers deserve more money. Their job is one of the most important on the planet; shaping young minds. But for crying out loud, they knew when they became teachers they weren’t going to make any money. Teachers barely make a living, this is nothing new. So they must have become teachers because they were passionate about teaching. Right? Right?

So why in holy hell are authors complaining about the money? It makes me want to tear my hair out. Writers are not paid enough. Most of them cannot live on what they make writing and have other full time jobs to support themselves. It’s a sad truth, but a truth just the same and is nothing new. Just like other artists, few are financially successful. We know this. The big time financial success is an exception, not the rule. This is no surprise. So what are they bitching about?

The only thing I can come up with is this: They started writing with the goal of making a ton of money.

Again, I will reiterate, there’s nothing wrong with writers making money for their work. They should make money. I applaud those who have. Every writer who becomes financially successful is an inspiration. But they aren’t really doing it just for the freaking money? Are they?

What happened to inspiring a generation? Where’s the passion? What happened to wanting to win a Nobel Prize? Where’s the joy of writing? Are you an artist? Are you interested in learning a craft? Yes, you can be passionate and make money doing it, but that’s not what I’m asking.

I wrote my first book just to see if I could do it. It was on my bucket list and something I had wanted to do for many years. So I did. And I fell in love with writing. I continue to write because it has become a passion. The honest truth is I’ve published two novels, one novella, and one short as part of a larger anthology and still haven’t broken even on my costs. So what. I didn’t start writing for the money. I fell in love with it. If money never comes, I will still love it. If money comes down the road, I’ll be grateful, but money is not my motivation. I consider writing an art. I want to learn as much as I can about the art of writing. I want to create my own masterpieces.

So it comes down to this: Do you write because you are passionate about it or to make money?

Let me hear your thoughts.

Author Pic Final 2016

I was born and raised in San Francisco, CA, and have a husband and two children. Music is an addiction. I can often be found in the car, singing along at the top of my lungs to whatever is playing. I work full time, and I split my spare time between family, reading, blogging, and writing. I’m a habitual quoter. Lines from films and TV shows constantly pop into my head—my kids are the only ones that really get it. I’m an only child, and so of course I married a man who is one of ten children. Other than English, I speak Spanish, Moroccan, and a little French. I love to travel, but don’t do enough of it. Reading has been a passion for most of my life and I now love writing. I’m klutz, and in my own mind, I’m hilarious.

Find me at http://www.yoursweetandspicyromanceauthor.com/

Signup to join My Dream Team: http://eepurl.com/bjAzz1

 

Sucked Into a Vortex

Sucked Into a Vortex

I used to be a bi-weekly blogger, posting every Monday and every Wednesday, on two different blogs. One, dedicated to Romance for Real Life; the other to Exploring the Art of Writing and Self-Publishing. Both blogs feed into my website, which I also update regularly. Oh, and once a month, I posted on the Writing Wenches Blog in addition to guest posting on other blogs when time permitted.

But it’s been three months since I’ve been really active on any of them. Oh yeah, there have been a couple posts here and there announcing new releases by writers in my community, but my own posts have fallen by the wayside.

Why?

The craft vortex has sucked me in. No, I don’t mean the kind of crafts that others get lost in; making doodads for family members, scrapbooking, or shabby-chic home décor. I’m talking about writing. The beauty that is the written word.

Let me backtrack for a moment…

After my last novel, Choosing to Dream, was released, I took a big break from marketing and writing. It’s the exact opposite of what you’re “supposed” to do: Keep the momentum going. Get the book in front of readers. Sell, sell, sell.

Nope. After my release I pretty much collapsed into a heap of “I don’t wanna,” and took a break. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing. I love the writing community. I love seeing my books in print. My stomach flutters every time I hear someone has read my book(s).

But there was something about my last book that sucked the motivation right out of me. Maybe it was because I worked so much harder on it than my previous books? Maybe it was because I have a high-stress day job? I’m not even really sure. But there you have it; I retreated, overwhelmed.

Once I got over my exhaustion, I focused all of my extra time and energy on learning how to take my writing to the next level. I’m one of those people who knows a little about a lot, but I’m not an expert on anything. I am, however, a quick learner, and someone who always wants to be the best at whatever it is I’m doing. This includes any of the number of jobs I’ve had. From the hotel and restaurant business to my career in escrow, and all the weird jobs in between, I’ve always strived to be the best line-cook, bartender, hotel/restaurant manager, smoothie-maker, receptionist, waitress, and/or escrow officer I can be.

Writing is something that’s extremely important to me. I’m a veracious reader, which is exactly how I got sucked into the vortex of writing craft. I’ve found excellent resources—follow me on Twitter if you’re interested as I share often—to help me level-up my writing: Podcasts, blogs, broadcasts on Periscope, YouTube, and Blab, along with my writing gurus and writing community, have fed and continue to feed my appetite for knowledge. I binge on these lessons, taking notes and more notes, mentally plotting for hours on end how to use these lessons in my own writing.

The result: I’m writing my third novel. The stakes are high. Will I be able to incorporate all the beautiful techniques I’ve learned and continue to learn into my current story? I don’t know. It’s my biggest fear. It’s terrifying and exciting all at the same time. But I’m writing. I’m doing it. I’ve departed the procrastination station and have commenced my journey into the scary realm of better writing. I’ll still Tweet and Facebook and blog occasionally, but my main focus is exploring the rich land of well written words and how to use them to knock the socks of my readers. It’s an endless paradise.

If you’re looking for me, I’ll be there. Don’t worry, I’ll check in now and again. Feel free to check in with me too, once in a while. Heaven knows I have to leave the cave at some point.

Have you ever felt like going off the grid? Turning off all social media and mobile devices? What would it be like to leave the house without a cell phone? The only time I’ve ever completely unplugged was when traveling abroad. It was fantastic. Freeing. Not at all realistic for me on a daily basis, but still…

If you’re reading this you’re either some kind of voodoo psychic or you’re still plugged in. But could you unplug? Have you ever tried it? What was your experience?

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I was born and raised in San Francisco, CA, and have a husband and two children. Music is an addiction. I can often be found in the car, singing along at the top of my lungs to whatever is playing. I work full time, and I split my spare time between family, reading, blogging, and writing. I’m a habitual quoter. Lines from films and TV shows constantly pop into my head—my kids are the only ones that really get it. I’m an only child, and so of course I married a man who is one of ten children. Other than English, I speak Spanish, Moroccan, and a little French. I love to travel, but don’t do enough of it. Reading has been a passion for most of my life and I now love writing. I’m klutz, and in my own mind, I’m hilarious.

Find me at http://www.yoursweetandspicyromanceauthor.com/

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Feature February Author Keisha Page

It is a great pleasure to introduce you to my friend and fellow Writing Wench, Keisha Page. She is a very busy lady, so I am honored she took the time to speak with me today.

Keisha Page

J-Keisha, thank you for joining me. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

 

K-I always hate that question. I’m 42, a married mom of 5 and social media manager. I help businesses and authors use social media to build their brand. I’m getting ready to launch a website to help people learn to nurture the social part of their business, or decide when it’s time to bring in help. Looking at my personal life, I have wild dreams of being this hippie earth mother Goddess-type, but they’re usually derailed by picky children who won’t eat whole wheat pancakes no matter how much syrup I put on them, and my cravings for orange soda.

 

J-Haha. I love picking your brain with my SEO questions. What genre do you write and why?

 

K-Romance. The people who are telling the stories in my head insist on falling in love with each other. In truth, I’m pretty romantic, and between working full time, busy kids, and managing the house, there’s just not a lot of time for romance. So I make it happen for the voices in my head.

 

J-What is different about your writing style?

 

K-My writing style is always evolving. My first short, Rhythm of Love, was so “formal” that my editor had to tell me to add contractions. It’s a fluid, growing thing, which I love.

 

J-I have the same issue. I constantly have to remind myself to contract and use more casual language in my contemporary writing. When did you start writing?

 

K-I started writing in high school. I was published in our school’s literary publication, which I also edited. I wrote horrible angst-filled prose about poverty, corruption, and boys.

 

J-What have you published as an adult?

 

K-As of today’s date, I’ve published Rhythm of Love, available in the Writing Wenches anthology, Unwrapping Love.

Unwrapping Love Cover

J-I love that book and I loved your story. Leslie was a great character and so  easy to identify with. What is a typical day or week like for you? How do you find time to write?

 

K-I work full time, but I have two nights a week where my husband cooks and handles kid duty so I can write. Usually, it works.

 

J-That sounds familiar. What are you reading right now?

 

K-Love and Libations by Patricia Eddy, and Travels with Penny by David Alan Morrison.

 

J-What are you working on next?

 

K-I’m currently writing a short, called Breaking The Horizon, for the next Writing Wenches anthology, and my first novel will be out in September. It’s called Voices In The Wind.

 

J-Exciting. Are you traditionally published, self-published, or with a vanity press?

 

K-Unwrapping Love was published through PageCurl, which is a vanity press. They will also be handling the next anthology. My novel will be indie.

 

J-Do you use experiences from your own life in your writing or does it all come from your imagination?

 

K-It’s mostly a mixture of both. Every character I write has a piece of me, or someone I know, in them. Leslie in Rhythm of Love, Sarah in Breaking The Horizon, and Bridget in Voices In The Wind are all older women, like me, and I’ve been divorced, like Leslie. But their experiences are mostly uniquely their own. I’ve never been to New York, where most of Rhythm of Love takes place, and Bridget has some life experiences that I hope I never have to share.

 

J-I love that. What is your favorite curse word?

 

K-Fuck Monkey.

 

J-What is your favorite word to use while writing?

 

K-Laughed, according to my editor.

 

J-Do you plot or outline when writing?

 

K-No. I’ve tried, but just can’t get there. I find that if I try to plot beforehand, and things change, I fight against that change for the sake of the plot I just wrote down. I do run dialogue and such while I’m folding the laundry or walking the dogs…which is kind of embarrassing when someone catches me.

 

J-The talking to yourself thing, yeah I do that too. Do you listen to music when writing? Name three songs on your current playlist?

 

K-Absolutely. Music is a mainstay in my life. My current playlist includes “Summertime Sadness” by Lana delRey, “Would” by Alice in Chains and the latest album by Queensryche.

 

J-Are you a cat or dog person?

 

K-Both.

 

J-If you had your choice of writing retreat would you choose, a. Villa in Italy, b. Cabin in the woods, c. English estate in Derbyshire (think Pemberly) d. Beach house in the Virgin Islands

 

K-I’ve actually lived in a cabin before, and between wild animals (bears LOVE trash), chopping wood for heat (cabins have no insulation, and generally aren’t centrally heated) and the huge amounts of snow, the romance is pretty much gone from that one. I’ll take a Beach House!

 

J-Haha, good reason. Tell us a funny story about you that we can’t find on your bio.

 

K-Don’t all good stories start with “This one night I was out drinking with friends”? Well, this one is no different. I used to be the only paid employee for a volunteer fire department. My job was all of the administrative mess that the volunteer firefighters, who were already giving of their time away from work and family, didn’t have time to deal with, like filing and submitting paperwork to various agencies and insurance companies and stuff like that. Every year, the fundraising arm of the department, called an auxiliary, put together a dinner to show the firefighters how much the community appreciated them. One year, the dinner was held in a hotel that had a rather nice bar, and after the dinner, I was invited to hang out with a bunch of them in the bar. The evening progressed pretty well until one of them started buying everyone shots of Patron. I had four. Which was four too many. By the end of the evening, I was, as they say, “ten feet tall and bulletproof.” I got in an argument, and almost went to blows, with a guy who is about a foot taller than me and outweighs me by a good little bit. That was the last night that I drank Patron. I haven’t been bulletproof since.

 

J-Tell us a funny story about one of your characters that was not included in Rhythm of Love.

 

K-In rock band circles, just the fact that Alex is the bass player, and got laid, is a funny story. The joke is that bass players don’t get laid; most groupies want to be able to drop names, and no one ever knows the name of the bass player.

 

J-Ha, that is so true.

Thanks, Keisha. You can find Keisha online at the links below.

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You can find me online at www.jennifersenhajiauthor.com

Feature February Author Patricia D. Eddy

Best selling author, Patricia D. Eddy is here with me today. She’s one of my favorite authors, she’s my new editor, and she’s a friend.

Patricia D Eddy Headshot1_sq

J-Thank you, Patricia, for joining me. Can you tell our audience a little bit about yourself?

 

P-I’m a romance author—paranormal, contemporary, and erotic. If characters fall in love, I write it. I’ve even got a lesbian paranormal romance published. I live in Seattle, Washington with my husband and three cats. Oh, and I have a full time job too. I don’t get a lot of sleep. Or downtime. I’m addicted to coffee, love red wine and good scotch, and have a single piece of chocolate almost every night.

 

J-Do you only write romance? Why?

 

P-I write love stories in all forms. I started with paranormal, and that’s still my first love, but lately, I’ve branched out into contemporary romance as well—military heroes and the strong women who love them. I also have an erotic romance series which is my answer to Fifty Shades of Grey.

 

I write romance because I love the idea of falling in love. I suppose it’s because I fell in love late in life. My husband (my second husband) and I fell in love during my 31st year, so I know what it’s like to start over as an adult and remake myself. Renewal, growth, and overcoming odds also factor quite heavily into my novels.

 

J-What books have you published?

 

P-My first book was By the Fates, Freed. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D9FX86G

My lesbian paranormal romance is in the same series and it’s called Destined. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H0K5D96

 

I also have a vampire series – Secrets in Blood is out now and I’m writing Revelations in Blood currently. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00F8KAR9Q

 

My erotic romance series is the Restrained series and its first book is In His Silks. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KSNRZFC

 

Bestseller status was achieved with A Shift in the Water, an urban fantasy (with a solid romance in it) set in Seattle. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MXBBTQS

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And finally, my newest series is the Holiday and Heroes series. Mistletoe and Mochas is the story of Mac and Devan. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OXAOZE0 Love and Libations is set in Seattle and is the story of Lilah, an abused woman who must find the courage to leave her boyfriend. Garrett James, a local bartender and an army veteran amputee, finds her a year later and sparks fly between them. Love and Libations is now available for Pre-Order. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RSDC1RM

LoveLibationsCoverPE

J-I loved Shift and can’t wait for the next one. In His Silks was amazingly hot, and Mistletoe and Mochas was a great holiday read. Destined was the first book of yours I read. Dark, but really good. What is a typical day or week like for you? How do you find time to write?

 

P-I get up at six in the morning and take the bus to the gym. I try to get in 500 words on the trip. After a workout, I spend the next eight hours working the grind – aka the day job. I take the bus back home, try to get another 500 words in, and then it’s dinner, seeing my husband, getting gym clothes together, answering email, scheduling social media posts for the next day, answering more emails, editing (I’m also a professional editor), more emails, marketing, and then bed.

 

J-What are you working on next?

 

P-I’m working on the sequel to A Shift in the Water, called A Shift in the Air. It’s Liam’s story and it’s set in Ireland. I’m actually headed to Ireland for research in a little over a week. I hope to write at least half of the book while I’m there. It’s not often I can write “in place” and in a place like Dublin, but I can’t wait.

 

J-That’s very cool. I love that you are going to write on location. Do you use experiences from your own life in your writing or does it all come from your imagination?

 

P-Yes. To both. I tend to dream (or imagine) the vast majority of my plots, but the characters themselves often draw a lot from my own life. They either have character traits that I want to have, traits that I do have, or have undergone experiences that I want to experience or have experienced. For example, in Love and Libations, Lilah McKinney is in an abusive relationship. Her relationship, though it was fictionalized and dramatized for the book, is one of my past relationships.

Evangeline, a character in Secrets in Blood, embodies who I want to be.

Mara from A Shift in the Water, has to deal with some health scares that mimic some of the things I’ve dealt with (though thankfully, mine were significantly less serious). Elizabeth from In His Silks, is who I want to be in the bedroom.

I both write what I know and what I want to know.

 

J-Yeah, I wouldn’t mind being Elizabeth from In His Silks either, as long as Alexander is there. What is your favorite curse word?

 

P-Shitballs. Fuck is a close second.

 

J-Are you a cat or dog person?

 

P-Cats! To be fair, I love dogs too. One of these days, we’ll get a dog, but we’ll have to run it by the three cats first.

 

J-If you had your choice of writing retreat would you choose, a. Villa in Italy, b. Cabin in the woods, c. English estate in Derbyshire (think Pemberly) d. Beach house in the Virgin Islands

 

P-Ooo. I’d pick a Villa in Italy. For the wine.

 

J-Yes. I love Italy. I’ll meet you there. Tell us a funny story about you that we can’t find on your bio.

 

P-I don’t do funny well. In fact, if I get one funny line in an entire book, it’s a miracle. But, here’s something that most people probably wouldn’t expect.

I signed up for a triathlon five years ago because I couldn’t swim. I figured if I signed up, it would force me to learn and yep. It worked. I now have a nice little collection of triathlon medals.

 

J-That’s a great story. I think if I participated in a triathlon, I would pass out before the first event was over and I’ve been a swimmer all my life. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions. Have a great time in Ireland. Make sure to come back though.

Patricia is having a release party on Facebook for her new release, Love and Libations on February 12th and you are all invited. Click on the photo to join the party.

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You can find Patricia online at the links below. I highly recommend her books.
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If you’re looking for me, you will find me online at www.jennifersenhajiauthor.com