Life’s your turn on the dancefloor; give it all you’ve got: Morgan Silver (WIP Q&A)

Morgan Silver, pen name M.W., has an MA in Creative Writing and a love for (cosy) mysteries and magical realism. She’s currently querying her first two novels, a YA mystery and a cosy mystery, while working on the first draft of a magical realism novel. She has lovely beta readers, naughty pet dragons, and an addiction to snacks.

Morgan , thank you so much for being here. Before we talk about your WIP, why don’t you tell us a few things about yourself?  

Thanks for having me! The virtual cup of tea is lovely, by the way. Well, by day I teach English and by night I write novels. I’m kind of like Jessica Fletcher, only I haven’t solved any real-life murders yet. (It will happen one day.) I feel like life’s your turn on the dancefloor so why not give it all you’ve got? I’m teaching myself Japanese and how to play the violin when I make time for it. I read novels, manga, and watch TV series, including Japanese and Korean dramas and anime. My characters are mostly quirky and I was definitely born a writer. I have that annoying thing that all born writers have; the NEED to write.  Sometimes I even neglect my pet dragons for that reason.

Your “our turn on the dancefloor” analogy I will use to promo this post! Awesome! What are you working on right now?

The Chess Club – Image used by author on Wattpad

My current WIP is absolutely different from what I usually write and strangely enough I am the most excited about this one. Perhaps because after a few written novels you notice you’ve grown as a writer.

My WIP was inspired by the Addams Family as well as a cartoon about zombies. (Yes, I sometimes watch cartoons.) Victoria Woods is always surrounded by death and doesn’t have much of a life herself. A twist of fate leads her from a funeral parlour to a strange mansion on a hill. Most people are afraid of this place and its inhabitants, but Victoria feels right at home in this world that contains unusual beings, experiments, more dead people, new friends, and even romance. As if having a life all of a sudden isn’t stressful enough, she also encounters enemies who are in search of eternal life and don’t care who they have to hurt in the process. Now that she finally has something to live for, she has to do something she’s never done before…fight back.

Writing this novel is like falling in a dark and deep puddle from which it is hard to emerge and novels like this make me really passionate about writing.

I’m a blurb enthusiast (always pick them apart as I read them) and I have to tell you, I love your ending! Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

When I didn’t have a day job, yes. My aim was always 2K a day, which was usually easy to manage because I had nothing else to do. Apart from staring at the shiny internet of course. Now, not so much. When I have day off my goal is 1K, but sometimes I write 4K or 6K. It depends on how long it’s been since I’ve written. I guess the words just spill out of my fingers at some point.

What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

LIFE! I just get distracted doing stuff for work, hanging with awesome people, or staring at a wall because I’ve had a long day. Not to mention my pet dragons who also require daily snuggle time.

You can’t not love your pet dragons! Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing? 

Morgan's workspace

I usually write at my desk, sometimes in my bed. Inspiration isn’t tied to a place for me, I just sit down and let the events in my head inspire me. I am a bit messy and that can sometimes affect my concentration. Regular cleaning sessions are therefore a must for this writer.

Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

I tried things like Scrivener, Ommwriter, and a bunch of other ones. I like Ommwriter because it prevents you from being distracted but I still use yWriter5 and writeordie.com. Especially the latter is highly recommended. You can just use it on the website for free. I use yWriter5 to summarise chapters and nothing more. I really just prefer physical notebooks and Word. Plus, with actual notebooks you get to use post-its and highlighters. It’s way more fun.

I like Scrivener. It gives me a purpose in writing. I’ll check out yWriter5 and Ommwriter, which I hadn’t heard of. Does the agent-hunting process have a deadline for you? Are you considering self-publishing?

No deadline, I just keep at it until someone bites. I have to have faith that it will happen when it’s supposed to happen. I do find myself getting a bit impatient and I’m kind of running out of agents with my first novel. I’m querying two novels while finishing a third, so luckily I can keep querying new novels. I am considering self-publishing my first novel, though. It would require a lot of money and hard work, because I’d want to do it right and I’d want to self-publish paperbacks only. I’ve posted the first chapter of my first novel on Wattpad to see if people are interested.

You’ll be hearing from me then… Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

I mostly live in my head, so I feel like marketing is something that is on the other side of the looking glass. I do have to say that I really love Twitter and it allows you to be yourself and find people who like you for you. Having a blog is also great for connecting with like-minded people and showing the world a piece of yourself. It’s wonderful how some parts of the internet can bring strangers together.

Fun stuff now: Let’s do a rapid fire round.

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GIF Friday: Beat It #4 (Matt Bomer)

Last week’s winner of a free book promo: David Proser. Check out the other awesome offerings of last week’s Beat It #3 with Emma Stone. This week, it’s Matt Bomer. Okay, you may just look at him… 🙂

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Don’t you sometimes struggle to add the right body language description (beat) to amp up your dialog? One that conjures just the right image, is not cliché and sounds fresh?

Then this meme-type exercise is for you. Read on for a quick how-to.

GIF Matt
Matt Bomer @Jean_Nelson (depositphotos.com)
  • Take a good look at the GIF below.
  • Using the scene set up I give you, describe the body language you see just as you’d do if you were writing out the scene yourself.
  • Post your “beat” until Wednesday as a comment here, blog it, post on Facebook, wherever.
  • If you don’t post here, leave a comment with a link to where you posted, so I can find you.

I will then update this page to include all offerings I gather with links to participants’ sites or social media.

No judging, no winners. My aim is to gather lots of different body language beats describing a visual action/reaction for my readers (and yours) to read and maybe learn. An added perk: each week, I’ll choose a random participant who will get FREE book promo on my promo blog mmjayepresents.com.

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GIF Friday #4 starring Matt Bomer

Source: idk-lets-just-do-it.tumblr.com

“Are you properly warmed up?” My trainer’s smirk smacked of arrogance, expecting me to stumble over his suggestive words and embarrass myself like I did yesterday. His white tank top made an even stronger statement.

I focused my gaze on the framed painting on the wall. Anywhere but on him. “Five-mile workout with increasing interval runs, fifty crunches and twenty push-ups.”

(insert beat) He motioned me to enter his studio.

Better not mention the million-calory, death-by-chocolate waffle I gobbled up right after, I thought, closing the door behind me. If I had to resist an eyeful, at least I’d have my stomach full.

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I wonder why I suddenly have a strong sugar craving. Hmm… Your turn now. Remember to add a workable link in your comment so that I can credit you properly.

GIF Friday: Beat It #3 (Emma Stone)

Last week’s winner of a free book promo: C.H. Little for her newly released The SearchCheck out the other awesome offerings of last week’s Beat It #2 with Kristin Kreuk. This week’s star is Emma Stone. She has such a mobile face, I couldn’t resist.
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Don’t you sometimes struggle to add the right body language description (beat) to amp up your dialog? One that conjures just the right image, is not cliché and sounds fresh?

Then this meme-type exercise is for you. Read on for a quick how-to.

SCULPTURE & ART (1)

  • Take a good look at the GIF below.
  • Using the scene set up I give you, describe the body language you see just as you’d do if you were writing out the scene yourself.
  • Post your “beat” until Wednesday as a comment here, blog it, post on Facebook, wherever.
  • If you don’t post here, leave a comment with a link to where you posted, so I can find you.

I will then update this page to include all offerings I gather with links to participants’ sites or social media.

No judging, no winners. My aim is to gather lots of different body language beats describing a visual action/reaction for my readers (and yours) to read and maybe learn. An added perk: each week, I’ll choose a random participant who will get FREE book promo on my promo blog mmjayepresents.com.

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GIF FRIDAY: BEAT IT #3 starring Emma Stone

I led her on. I kept the stutter, blinked whenever she looked at me and let her choose from the wine list. She went for the $100 Château Clinet, her eyes twinkling, probably relishing the prospect of embarrassing me when the bill came. She kept her condescending air throughout the meal, her speech over-enunciated as if talking to a hearing-impaired toddler. Either that or my affected stutter was infectious.

“And what … are your plans after graduating? Will you … still live … at your mom’s?” Her nodding was nothing short of patronizing.

I took off my glasses and tucked them in my breast pocket.

Showtime.

“Actually, it’s my mom who lives with me. It’s temporary until she fully recovers from the accident. Jobwise, I’ll take over this restaurant, since I own it.” I held the wine bottle in my palm and shook my head. “This wine list needs serious upgrading.”

(insert beat)

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Well, turnabout is fair play, as they say. Here’s how writers described this:

Nicholas C. Rossis

Her breath exploded from her mouth. “Wow!” she mouthed, then turned away so I wouldn’t see her expression sour as if her Château Clinet had somehow turned into a bucket of vinegar. Somehow, I managed to keep my own face expressionless as I pretended to study a tiny crimson drop rolling down the inside of my glass.

David Prosser

She stood up her face reddening. “Hell” she said “”wow, I’m astounded. You do realise I’ve been teasing you all night don’t you”? She sat down again with her jaw still opening and closing from little gasps of breath like a fish out of water.Gradually she paled and her shoulders slumped knowing she’d gone too far.

Andrea Cooper

At my news, her eyes widened and “wow” popped out of her mouth like meeting a rock star for the first time. Then the realization of my words sunk in and her mouth stayed agape for a second too long. She glanced away with her face holding the appalling thought that she’d just blown it.

Vicki Jamieson

She recoiled from me as I spoke, the confidence draining from her body. She tried to hold my gaze and some measure of composure on her face, but as I finished speaking we both recognised my revelation had caught her off balance. She turned away from me, drawing breath and trying to compose herself, but she couldn’t hide the widening horror in her eyes and the way her shoulders slumped forward as her misjudgment sank in.

Anke

Her eyes grew to the size of saucers. “Wow!”, she yelped, all pretence forgotten. Then, als the impact of my revelations fully hit her, she turned away. She wasn’t as much amazed as outrightly shocked. Her mouth opened to let out a moan of incredulous surprise. She was defeated, and the vertical line that appeared between her eyes gave away the anger she felt at herself. She had chosen the wrong tack with me, and the horror at having missed her chance crept all over her face.

Rebecca McKinnon

Her eyes immediately widen in shock at the grossness of her misconception. Her shame is palpable; she can’t continue looking at me under the weight of it. She turns her head away and downward, her awkward reply making a circular O of her mouth: “Wow…”

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Thanks to all writers who came out and played this week!

GIF Friday: Beat It #2 (Kristin Kreuk)

Don’t you sometimes struggle to add the right body language description (beat) to amp up your dialog? One that conjures just the right image, is not cliché and sounds fresh?

Then this meme-type exercise is for you. Read on for a quick how-to.

  • SCULPTURE & ARTTake a good look at the GIF below.
  • Using the scene set up I give you, describe the body language you see just as you’d do if you were writing out the scene yourself.
  • Post your “beat” until Wednesday as a comment here, blog it, post on Facebook, wherever.
  • If you don’t post here, leave a comment with a link to where you posted, so I can find you.

I will then update this page to include all offerings I gather with links to participants’ sites or social media.

No judging, no winners. My aim is to gather lots of different body language beats describing a visual action/reaction for my readers (and yours) to read and maybe learn. An added perk: each week, I’ll choose a random participant who will get FREE book promo on my promo blog mmjayepresents.com.

Two science fiction writers are last week’s winners: Margaret Fieland and Nicholas C. Rossis, who will both get free book promos. Check out GIF Friday: Beat It #1 to see how they described last week’s GIF.

Would you like to join the fun? Then go ahead and “beat it”.

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GIF FRIDAY: BEAT IT #2 starring Kristin Kreuk

My temples pounding in sync with the banging, I reach the shed and swing the door open. Yup, I found the source of all the noise that woke me, and boy, is she worked up.

“Jesus. You assembled the bookcase by yourself?” I ask. The thing ate up the entire space.

(Insert beat) “What? You thought I couldn’t wield a crowfoot wrench? By the time you got around to doing it, it would have turned moldy-green.”

I scratch the back of my head. “Umm, okay, but how are we getting it out? It won’t fit through the door.”

She stands up and brushes her hands on her jeans. “Well, I’ll leave you to ponder on that. You woke up at two in the afternoon. I’m sure you’re full of productive energy.” Passing by me, she pinches my cheek. “Just make sure it’s in our living room by five, before your parents arrive,” she says oh so sweetly. “I did promise them you’ll have it on display today. They paid for it, after all.” She leaves, closing the door behind her.

I guess she found out Doug’s bachelor party wasn’t held at his basement.

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And here are the awesome offerings:

Nicholas C. Rossis

She blows off an errand strand of hair that tickles her nose. Her gaze bores two holes into my skull. Ants crawl up and down my spine.

C. H. Little

Those catlike eyes flash with fury she doesn’t bother to conceal. I’m in real trouble this time. An errant strand of the hair she never seems able to tame falls across her face and she blows it away impatiently, a challenge blazing in her eyes.

Rebecca N. McKinnon

She didn’t look up from her work so much as she could’ve broken her neck with the force of its upward trajectory. Her unblinking eyes bore into mine in silent challenge. She huffed powerfully, sending a loose strand of hair shooting above her sweaty brow.

Vicki Jamieson

She looks up at me, a determination I haven’t seen before burning behind her eyes. She fixes me with her gaze, pouts her bottom lip and blows an errant strand of hair from her face defiantly. Her eyes are hard and her gaze doesn’t shift; only a twitch of her eye gives away any emotion as speaks.

Anke

She looked at me defiantly. A loose strand of hair got in the way of her stare. Normally, she would sweetly tug it away behind her ear. Not now. She did away with it with a forceful blow of air from her mouth. The agressive, unyielding twitch of her eyes warned me not to mess with her, either.

GIF Friday: Beat It #1 (Robert Pattinson)

Don’t you sometimes struggle to add the right body language description (beat) to amp up your dialog? One that conjures just the right image, is not cliché and sounds fresh? Well, I do, and I hope this meme-type exercise proves helpful.

I’m going through a phase of introspection writing-wise, and I’ve cut down on blogging and using social media as much as I did before (which was not much to begin with). BUT, I came up with this idea for a brand new meme that I think will be both fun and provide good training to that writing muscle of yours.

Image copyright: Jean Nelson (depositphotos.com)
Image copyright: Jean Nelson (depositphotos.com)

Here’s the drill: I’ll post a GIF every Friday. It will be a close up of someone recognizable. I’ll give you a brief scene setup, and if you want to take part, you’ll have to describe the body language you see just as you’d do if you were writing the scene yourself. You can write it in the comments’ section, you can blog the meme using the same GIF, you can even post on Facebook. No weird linkies. You can post from Friday until Wednesday. I will then update this page to include all offerings I gather with links to participants’ sites or social media. The only requirement is for you to link back to my blog’s relevant post, and—if you don’t post here—leave a comment with a link to where you posted, so I can find you.

No judging, no winners. My aim is to gather lots of different body language beats describing a visual action/reaction for my readers (and yours) to read and maybe learn. An added perk: each week, I’ll choose a random participant who will get free book promo on my promo blog mmjayepresents.com.

Sounds like fun? Then go ahead and “beat it”.

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GIF FRIDAY: BEAT IT #1 starring Robert Pattinson

A glowing red charcoal rolled out of the fire pit. I used a stick to push it back. “What about your parents?” He was finally opening up. This was my window to peek in.

He instantly sobered. “My dad passed two months ago. I was trekking the Andes, I didn’t get to say…” (insert beat)

tumblr_n7kxjiDOBX1qkbr8xo4_400
Image found on http://www.robsessedpattinson.com

And here are this week’s offerings:

Nicholas C. Rossis

He pulled his sleeve around his fingers and picked up the tin mug from the fire. He blew into the bubbling liquid. Steam surrounded his face as he stared at the mug with unseeing eyes. The rich aroma of his coffee hit my nostrils, making my mouth water. I said nothing, not wanting to interrupt his thoughts.

“Doesn’t matter,” he said in the end. “It’s too late now.”

Margaret Fieland

He pressed his lips together and a muscle in his cheek twitched. He blinked, glanced down. A second or two passed, and when he spoke again his voice was barely above a whisper. “I never got to say goodbye.”

MM Jaye

His mouth quirked, but there was no humor in it. He looked away. Then he blinked. Several times.

Were his eyes misting over?

A trip that changed it all – Lena Mikado (WIP Interview)

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This week’s guest is an author with whom I have a lot in common: love for languages, translation experience, writing in our second language (English) and juggling motherhood, work and homemaking with writing. Ladies and gents, I present to you the beautiful and talented Lena Mikado.

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Hello, everyone! I’m really happy to be here – Maria, cheers to you for inviting me to your beautiful blog. My name is Lena Mikado, and I am the author of My Journey to the Ocean – my debut novel and the first one of the All Colors of the Rainbow trilogy.

Lena, thank you so much for being here. Before we talk about your WIP, why don’t you tell us a few things about yourself?  

I’ve been so many things lately, I don’t even know where to start. First of all, I am mom to two little boys (they’re 5 and 2) and a happy wife. Secondly, I am a translator – foreign languages had been my love long before I became a mom and a wife, so… not sure – maybe I should have given priority to the languages 🙂. I graduated from Voronezh State University, Russia, with the Degree in Translation, Linguistics and Intercultural Communication. Oh – yes, I am Russian. 🙂 I moved to the United States at the young age of 22, but I like to think of myself as a citizen of the world. I absolutely adore traveling – to the point that I cannot imagine my life without it – and belly-dancing 🙂.

MyJourneyToTheOcean-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700

How did My Journey to the Ocean came to be?

One day, my very good friend, who now lives in London, told me that we all should write a book about our first summer in the United States. When I say “we all” I mean “four Russian girls who came on a J-1 program to America in the summer of 2004 and who never got back to be the same people before their plane left the tarmac in Moscow”. Back then, I just had my first kid (which totally rocked my world – and I don’t mean it as necessarily 100% positive experience) and I was working for a corporation that was consuming me with all my sweat, blood and tears as corporations tend to. So at first I laughed a little bit and politely declined. But then I thought… and thought… and thought about it… And I realized that I did have a lot to say. I wanted my sons to know my story. After all, what do we really know about our parents? And I started writing. It took me 5 years – and now my third baby is here 🙂.

There’s another thing we have in common. My little one also rocked my world in a non-positive way until I realized that going down the road she paved made me a better mom. What are you working on right now?

I started working on the second book of the series – A Year in the Sky. The novel will be about traveling all around the world, while trying to deal with jealousy, insecurity and fear of losing that bright future that you already directed for yourself in your head :). I have to share a little secret with you. The full name of my 5-year-old son is Liam Ocean and the name of my youngest – Maximillian Sky ;). 

That’s super sweet. Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

To be honest with you, I am constantly under the impression that I need to do more. I am trying to juggle my translation business with my writing career – and family life – and sometimes I feel like the ground is slipping from under my feet. My main goal in writing is to complete whatever I have started – when? Not sure about that. Perhaps, I will be able to stay more organized and deadline-oriented once the boys grow up a little.

Plotter, pantser or both?

More of a pantser 🙂. I do tie it all together when I write, but I don’t necessarily plan it ahead. I’m just constantly thinking about what I want to say throughout the day, sometimes I write thoughts that come to mind in a little notebook I carry with me. But I’m definitely – 85% of the time – surprised by what is coming out of me when I write 🙂. Like – wow, where did that come from?

What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

Lack of time. I wish we didn’t have to sleep 🙂.

You’re telling me. Have you ever experienced lack of inspiration or drive to write? If so, how do you motivate yourself?

Yes, I have. I typically just sit down and write anyway. And the inspiration comes back.

Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?

Photo Feb 10, 12 28 28 PM

This is the view from my window. 🙂 My office is at the marina. I don’t have the Ocean view, but I love looking at the boats. There is also a birds’ nest up top in the corner of the window, and we typically communicate with them through the glass 🙂

Very interesting view! Now your view is pinned on my Featured Writers’ Workspace board on Pinterest. Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

I use a few websites that help me with synonyms and descriptive words – But generally I’m your Google/Word girl 🙂.

How do you intend to celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?

With a glass of nice Chardonnay. And a bath. Definitely a bath, because otherwise the kids won’t let me enjoy that glass of nice Chardonnay.

Makes sense 🙂 Which book publishing processes are you going to outsource and which are you confident enough to undertake yourself?

I hired an editor, Courtney Diles– since I believe that there always must be a second pair of eyes. Working in the translation industry, I know for a fact that we cannot write a piece alone. There is always room for improvement. Plus, Courtney helped me immensely with the formatting. I have also hired a book cover artist, Fiona Jayde – and she did an amazing job. She literally read my mind. As far as everything else goes – all done by myself.

Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

I’m really very new to all this. I like Twitter a lot. I managed to connect to a lot of very interesting people there. Besides, Twitter moves so fast that it offers you plenty of opportunities for marketing. I do some Facebook, Google Plus and Goodreads, but there is still lots for me to learn.

Your blog is http://lenamikado.blogspot.com/. Do you follow a specific branding pattern with your posts or is it a free writing platform?

Totally free! I’m trying to be myself, but that’s about it.  

Is chick-lit the genre you will stick to or do you see yourself branching out in the future?

I think I’m a chick lit author for life. 🙂 I’m pretty sure I will always be writing light and funny books. This life is too full of horrible things, and I like to create a happy reality. I’m not a fan of dark stuff. J

Fun stuff now: Let’s do a rapid fire round.

  • Flavored sorbet or chocolate ice cream? Flavored sorbet!
  • Pizza or sushi? Sushi 🙂
  • Twilight or The Hunger Games? None 🙂
  • Ryan Gosling or Benedict Cumberbatch? Ryan Gosling… because I had to google Benedict Cumberbatch. I’ve seen the Sherlock Holmes show, but I didn’t know the actor’s name :).
  • Trek in the Andes or snorkeling in Tahiti? Both! As long as I don’t sit at home.
  • Ugg boots or red-soled designer stilettos? Stilettos. Definitely.

Ah, there’s the chick-lit girl 🙂 Finally, please share with us links where we can find you and your work.

Amazon Link – myBook.to/MyJourneytotheOcean

Facebook Link – https://www.facebook.com/lenamikado?ref=hl

Twitter Link – https://twitter.com/Lena_Mikado

Goodreads Link – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23698308-my-journey-to-the-ocean

Google Plus – https://plus.google.com/u/0/+LenaMikado/posts

Blog – http://lenamikado.blogspot.com/

Thank you, Lena, and best of luck with your future projects!

Thank you very much, Maria, for having me here. 🙂 I wish you the best of luck as well.

Jessica Cale: Music beats writer’s block (WIP interview)

Jessica Cale

I’m quite busy promoting Fate Accompli, and writing Fate Captured, so I have stopped actively seeking out authors for the WIP column. But when I saw the cover of Jessica’s debut novel, I just wanted it on my blog!

Jessica Cale is a journalist and author currently based in North Carolina.  She is the author of Tyburn, her first novel for Liquid Silver Books. Tyburn is a dark historical romance set in Restoration London and is the first book in her new series, The Southwark Saga.

Jessica , welcome to MM Jaye writes. Before we talk about your WIP, why don’t you tell us a few things about yourself? 

I’m originally from Minnesota, but I lived in Wales for seven years and earned a BA in Medieval History and an MFA in Creative Writing at Swansea University. My husband and I both studied history in Swansea and we met when I crashed a beach party there back in 2005. Now we live in North Carolina with our Welsh rescue cats and life is good. I have a full-time day job as well as writing, but it’s for a great non-profit organization and I work with a lot of lovely, supportive people, so I’m very lucky in that respect. I collect tea cups, history books, and I bake macarons on the weekends. I’m always trying to come up with new flavors!

*Ignoring the saliva influx in my mouth*Exercise in lean writing: give us a synopsis of your current WIP in under 200 words.

Lady Jane Ramsey is ruined.

Valiantly rescued from her kidnapping by a gorgeous highwayman, she thanked him as enthusiastically as her imagination allowed, only to find her marriage prospects greatly reduced when she returned home. She doesn’t mind. All she can think about is her highwayman, and she is determined to find him again.

As the daughter of an earl and one of the wealthiest heiresses in England, she is expected to make the best match possible before her reputation is damaged beyond repair. Her father accepts an offer from the repulsive Lord Lewes and expects Jane to comply.

Jane has other plans.

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Intriguing! And isn’t that cover a study in perfection? Compelling! What are you working on right now?

I am working on the second book in The Southwark Saga, which picks up immediately where Tyburn leaves off. This book follows Lady Jane Ramsey, a supporting character in Tyburn. It’s nice to work on something so close to Tyburn because I’m still so immersed in that world, and I can spend more time with the characters. It’s great to be able to check in on Nick and Sally, too.

I know exactly what you mean. The best part about writing a series is that you can interact with all the characters you’ve nurtured in every book. Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

I’d like more time to write. I work full-time, but I start unbelievably early in the morning (you don’t want to know) so I have more time to write when I get home. I usually work on writing, editing, research, or promotional things until I have to go to sleep for the next day. I don’t get time off, and I don’t get a lot of sleep. It’s still worth it, and my husband and friends are very supportive. On a good writing day, I’m happy with anything over 1,000 words. On my best writing day, I made it to 9,000. That was a long day. I ended after midnight and went downstairs to find my husband and friends having a party. I hadn’t even noticed it was going on. I was still pretty energized, so I made everyone crepes!

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And we have the picture to prove it! Plotter, pantser or both?

I plot the absolute heck out of everything. I have a notebook for ideas, and about a thousand post-its stuffed into it from when I thought of something away from the house! It’s difficult to plot on demand, though, so the books evolve slowly over time in pieces. They usually start with a scene or two, and I try to fill in everything else from there.

What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

Time and work. I get so into it that I don’t want to stop, but of course I have to. The ideas keep coming, though, and that’s where the Post-Its come in…

Have you ever experienced lack of inspiration or drive to write? If so, how do you motivate yourself? 

Definitely. When I was doing more journalism in the UK, I went for a few years without writing any fiction, just because I didn’t have time between the journalism and working in the day. I was doing mostly music journalism then, so I’d work all day and then have shows to review at night. It was crazy. I didn’t want to give it up, but it was either that or fiction, and fiction is what I’ve always wanted to do. It was a little tricky getting back into fiction after the break, but music helped. Music continues to be a great way to beat writer’s block for me. When I’m thinking of ideas for a book, I imagine the whole thing in vivid scenes like watching a movie, I cast the characters, and the songs are the soundtrack. it’s not the lyrics themselves, but the mood. There’s something about music that taps into that creative part of my brain and makes everything work a little bit better. If I’m really having trouble or a project just isn’t working, I’ll write something completely different, like horror or satire, just to switch things up a bit. That usually works, too.

That usually does the trick, yes. Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?

IMG_20140601_084125

One of your Welsh rescues I presume? Now your workspace pic is pinned on my Featured Writers’ Workspace Pinterest Board. Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

I actually really like using Pinterest as a sort of idea board. I have secret boards of photos and pieces of research for future stories, plus fun public boards for possible characters, locations, and costumes to help readers to picture the Restoration world. This is a work in progress, but it’s a lot of fun. I also use Google Sheets to organize my characters, chronology, research, and outside commitments and obligations. I color code everything, because things are less intimidating when they’re in pastel.

Google Sheets as an organizing tool is definitely something I’ll have to look into. How do you intend to celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?

I probably won’t. By the time I finished Tyburn, I was already halfway through Jane’s book (the result of a lot creative exercises to beat writer’s block — they are worth doing!), and then I was worried about editing and pitching it right away. I edit everything I write several times before I’ll show it to anyone, so I never really feel like I’m done. I did celebrate signing the contract by going out to dinner with my husband, his parents, and our friends, and that was great. There’s just so much to do and it’s such a continuous cycle of work that it’s hard to pick one time to stop and celebrate anything. I’m usually too busy! The first draft of Jane’s book is done, but now I’m working on rewrites. Maybe I’ll celebrate when that one gets published!

Which book publishing processes are you going to outsource and which are you confident enough to undertake yourself?

I’m very lucky to have a fantastic publisher and they help so much with the editing, layout, cover, and marketing. Apart from that, I undertake a huge proportion of the promotional duties myself. I’m doing the line edits and layout for the print version myself, and if I could physically print and assemble the books myself, I probably would. I would be a lot happier if I outsourced more, but I come from a very DIY background (I published an independent zine for ten years), so I tend to just do things myself if I know how, and if I don’t, I figure it out. I would get a lot more sleep if I could learn to outsource!

Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

I’m very new to the whole marketing side of things, so I’m still learning. From my very limited experience, I would recommend befriending other authors (of any genre/subgenre) and learning from them as much as you can. Be nice to each other — you’re all in the same boat! — and thank people for their time and help. Be grateful, and be mindful of others: when someone helps you, return the favor. Also, be on the lookout for new opportunities. The Marketing For Romance Writers Yahoo group is a fantastic source of continuous opportunities for networking and promotion. I would definitely recommend checking it out.

I’ll second that. MFRW has taught me so much in such a little time. That’s how we got in touch! Is dark fantasy the genre you will stick to or do you see yourself branching out in the future?

Tyburn is very dark, but Jane’s story has a completely different tone — it’s almost a comedy! The third one will have more of a mystery element to it, but the whole series will still be historical romance. Someday I’d like to branch out to try some other things, but for now, I’m very much rooted in the seventeenth century.

Fun stuff now: Let’s do a rapid fire round.

  • Flavored sorbet or chocolate ice cream? Chocolate ice cream! My favorite is So Delicious chocolate ice cream made with soy milk.
  • Pizza or sushi? Pizza with anchovies, olives, and capers. Yum!
  • Twilight or The Hunger Games? The Hunger Games.
  • Ryan Gosling or Benedict Cumberbatch? Benedict Cumberbatch
  • Trek in the Andes or snorkeling in Tahiti? Trek in the Andes. I love a great view.
  • Ugg boots or red-soled designer stilettos? I have a pair of black Converse ballet flats I wear everywhere. They go with anything! (I’ll have to Google these!)
  • Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights? Wuthering Heights
  • London or Paris? London
  • Beatles or the Rolling Stones? The Rolling Stones!

Finally, please share with us links where we can find you and your work.

My website is http://www.authorjessicacale.com

You can find Tyburn as http://www.lsbooks.com and http://www.amazon.com/Tyburn-Southwark-Saga-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00PQV6H9Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416519139&sr=1-1&keywords=tyburn+jessica+cale

You can also find me here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjessicacale

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessicaCale @JessicaCale

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JessicaCaleWrites

Tumblr: http://authorjessicacale.tumblr.com/

Pintrest: http://www.pinterest.com/rainbowcarnage

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Jessica-Cale/e/B00PVDV9EW/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Thank you, Jessica, and best of luck with your future projects!

_________________

Fate Accompli is now out on Amazon in two heat versions. The links below will take you directly to your Amazon store.

Fait Accompli - Spicy version

Fate Accompli Spicy: getBook.at/FateSpicy

Fate Accompli Clean: getBook.at/FateClean

If you’d like to read the first chapters of Fate Accompli, they’re available on Wattpad. (3,000 views and counting…)

Sandra Danby – On adoption dynamics and work process (WIP interview)

Sandra Danby Author - photo Simon CooperWhen Sandra Danby contacted me for an interview, my first move was to check out her site and book covers. I ended up spending about an hour that I did not have there, drawn by the power of simplicity and her strong theme. Therefore, it’s with great pleasure, I feature Sandra and her work today.

Sandra Danby’s debut novel ‘Ignoring Gravity’ is just published and she is now writing the sequel ‘Connectedness’. Both novels examine how a person’s sense of identity is affected by adoption.

Sandra, thank you so much for being here. Before we talk about your WIP, why don’t you tell us a few things about yourself?  

If I could, I would write all day every day. And when not writing, I would be reading. It’s always been that way. I grew up on a small dairy farm at the bleak edge of East Yorkshire where England meets the North Sea. So I am a proud Yorkshire woman, tea drinker and tennis fan. When I am not writing, which I can do while drinking tea, I can be found reading a book or watching tennis on television.

Ignoring Gravity by Sandra DanbyExercise in lean writing: give us a synopsis of your current WIP in under 200 words.  

‘Connectedness’ – the second book in the series about ‘Rose Haldane: Identity Detective’ – features controversial artist Justine Tree. She is a Marmite artist: some love her emotional honesty, others say she is attention-seeking. Disapproving critics say her work could be done by primary school children with empty cereal boxes, fingertips and potato prints. Fans say her work has an emotional freedom that 21st century society could learn from, that she has unbuttoned the British stiff upper lip. But are the emotions Justine puts into her collages real? Truth or Lies: only Justine knows how and why she manipulates the truth.  So when she confronts her past and asks journalist Rose Haldane to find her lost baby, two strong personalities clash. Rose tries to untangle truth from lies in order to find Justine’s daughter who was given up for adoption when Justine was an art student. Justine, who has never told anyone she had a baby, is desperate to find her daughter but ashamed of the truth, desperate to have her daughter’s love but terrified she will find hate.

Connectedness will be published in late 2015.

This will make an interesting read! Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

At the moment my writing has halted temporarily as I concentrate on promoting ‘Ignoring Gravity’, but I plan to return to ‘Connectedness’ in January 2015. I am a disciplined writer, which comes I think from 35+ years as a journalist. Writing is my job. I don’t have a specific daily word count and I don’t have a target word count for the book. My first draft of ‘Ignoring Gravity’ was 140,000! Through re-drafting and polishing, that finally came down to 99,000. I hadn’t targeted 99,000, I just polished the manuscript until it felt right.

Plotter, pantser or both?

Plotter, always a plotter. That’s the journalist in me again. But I have learned to plot loosely and let the story develop.

What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

Easy, social media. Essential today for writers to promote their work. But it sucks the minutes out of a day.

Hear, hear. And if one is not as disciplined as you (that’s me!) then the writing time goes out the window. Have you ever experienced lack of inspiration or drive to write? If so, how do you motivate yourself?

Nope, never not wanted to write, never had writer’s block. I think my journalism training knocked that out of me years ago. When writing is your daily job, and you have a deadline and an empty page to fill, excuses don’t count.

Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?

Sandra Danby - where I writeThis is my desk in the attic of our house. I have no view as the loft windows are higher than my desk so all I can see is sky. I am the first in the house to know it is raining. My desk faces the wall and I have a huge whiteboard to which are stuck photos of my characters, inspirational notes and photos of locations. All my books are here, the bookcases are bulging and books are beginning to form piles on the floor. There is a sofabed as my study doubles as a bedroom for visitors, but I rarely sit on it. I did entertain ideas of sitting there, reading… but that has never happened. What else? A floor-standing fan as the room gets stifling hot in the summer, and a small electric radiator to keep me warm in winter. And my CD collection, I couldn’t do without my music. As I write this, Mozart is playing gently in the background. I always write to classical music – Mozart, Verdi, Karl Jenkins, Elgar, Holst – as I find lyrics too distracting.

Lots of wonderful light there! The concept whiteboard is a great idea! Now your workspace pic is pinned on my Featured Writers’ Workspace Board on Pinterest! Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

I have read a lot of adoption/family history, books, mostly requested from my local library or in the Reading Room at the British Library. For ‘Connectedness’ I researched art, again lots of reading but also visits to art galleries in London. My favourites are Tate Modern, Tate Britain, The Royal Academy, and the Victoria & Albert Museum. I also watch specialist television programmes. Two key TV series for me are ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ and ‘Long Lost Family’ have been enormously helpful. And the BBC has excellent arts coverage.

How do you intend to celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?

No celebration planned, the end of the first draft is the beginning of the next stage of the writing process for me. I find it useful to take a break from the work in progress though, so at the end of the first draft I will write shorter fiction, perhaps some flash fiction, and get out more. Go to art galleries and the theatre! It’s also a great time to research the next book. I am always thinking ahead.

Which book publishing processes are you going to outsource and which are you confident enough to undertake yourself?

I am a writer, that is what I do best. I outsourced copy editing, manuscript formatting, front cover design, book trailer production, website design and e-mail marketing.

Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

Network like mad: blog, tweet, Facebook and share. Don’t bore people with constant requests to buy your book, social media is swamped by repetitive messages like that. And don’t just retweet other people’s original thoughts. Find an original way to communicate, tweet your own ideas and support other writers. There is a great network of mutually-supportive writers out there to tap into.

True words! Your blog can be found here. Do you follow a specific branding pattern with your posts or is it a free writing platform?

My writing blog has transferred in the last few weeks to a website promoting my books, but the content and purpose of my blog remains the same. I’ve been blogging on WordPress since February 2013, my new website is WordPress too. I blog about my thoughts on writing and the world of books. What other writers are saying and doing, I review books [new releases and classics] and publish some of my own short fiction. Writers’ BLOCKbusters is an occasional series offering solutions to get the creative juices started.

Is contemporary women’s fiction the genre you will stick to or do you see yourself branching out in the future?

Who knows what the future will bring. At the moment I am concentrating on the ‘Rose Haldane: Identity Detective’ series, with storylines planned for books three, four and five. Beyond that, I have ideas for two standalone novels set in Yorkshire.

Fun stuff now: Let’s do a rapid fire round.

  • Flavored sorbet or chocolate ice cream? Strawberry ice cream
  • Pizza or sushi? Sushi
  • Twilight or The Hunger Games? The Hunger Games
  • Ryan Gosling or Benedict Cumberbatch? BC of course.
  • Trek in the Andes or snorkeling in Tahiti? Trek in the Andes. I have flown over them, on the way to Santiago, Chile, and they look amazing.
  • Ugg boots or red-soled designer stilettos? Scruffy blue Converse

Finally, please share with us links where we can find you and your work.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ignoring-Gravity-Haldane-Identity-Detective-ebook/dp/B00O3D2PFI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415632368&sr=8-1&keywords=sandra+danby

Website: http://www.sandradanby.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sandradanby

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sandradanbyauthor

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sandradan1/

Watch the book trailer for ‘Ignoring Gravity’: http://youtu.be/jpzWKR4gx8I

Thank you, Sandra, and best of luck with your future projects!

 _____________

Fate Accompli is now out on Amazon in two heat versions. The links below will take you directly to your Amazon store.

Fait Accompli - Spicy version

Fate Accompli Spicy: getBook.at/FateSpicy

Fate Accompli Clean: getBook.at/FateClean

If you’d like to read the first chapters of Fate Accompli, they’re available on Wattpad. (Almost 2,000 views in one week!)

Janice Ross – WIP interview

In today’s WIP edition, I’m pleased to welcome author Janice Ross. Janice was born in Guyana, South America and migrated to the USA in 1980. Although her citizenship certificate now reads the United States of America, she considers herself a citizen of the world. She enjoys writing about social issues and personal experiences. Janice’s debut release was entitled Damaged Girls. She uses the three books in that series to detail the effects of different forms of abuse, discussing issues that are known to be taboo. Her next release, Jumping Ship, is a dedication to her country of birth and an introductory novella to the Island Hopping Series. She has also penned Loving Nate, a novella with an alternate ending, that I reviewed here.

Janice is also a devout supporter and promoter of other authors through social media. She hosts a weekly show, Cultural Cocktails, on the largest social radio network, Blog Talk Radio.

Thanks for having me, Maria! You are truly supportive and amazing!

What are you working on right now?

Oh my goodness, Maria! I am always working on several different projects, at any given time. I’m still attempting to plot out and finalize the next books in the Island Hopping series. And although Loving Nate is a stand-alone novella, I’ve been in talks with Nate (smirking) about telling his side of the story. Those are just two of my current WIPs. And as if I’m not having enough fun, I’ve recently begun writing paranormal stories through an alter ego.

Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

I am actually pleased with my overall pace. I used to be concerned when I felt that I wasn’t progressing along too well, but I’ve learned to manage my stress much better. Perhaps, this is why I have multiple storylines at any given time. I typically aim for at least 3,000 words/piece/day. There are days when I’m able to achieve this and days when I’m not able to. I try to remain focused on what I produce instead of how many words I produce.

Plotter, pantser or both?

I used to be big on plotting out everything. This method never works out entirely because there’s a certain level of spontaneity that’s needed, so I try to keep a healthy mixture.

What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

I am my worst enemy in getting through the first draft.

Have you ever experienced lack of inspiration or drive to write? If so, how do you motivate yourself?

I’m always motivated to write, though I don’t always have the time to do so.

Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing? 

photo (7)

 

I love the fruity energy booster! Now this picture is pinned on my Featured Writers’ Workspace board on Pinterest. Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

I try to go to the source – people from different backgrounds, regions and experiences.

How do you intend to celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?

I celebrate “The End” of a draft by taking a day or two off from writing. I might also go to happy hour with my friends, as a method of relaxing.

Which book publishing processes are you going to outsource and which are you confident enough to undertake yourself?

Although I enjoy many aspects of editing, I believe in having my work edited by someone else. I also have certain parts of Marketing outsourced.

Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

I came across this site when I first published, and have since used it as a reference point:

http://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com

Is women’s fiction the genre you will brand yourself with or do you see yourself branching out in the future?

I most enjoy writing women’s fiction, with a twist. I’ve recently taken on an alter ego and ventured into paranormal. I hope to continue to grow and expand.

Would you like to share with us links where we can find you and your work?

You can connect with Janice on

Website: www.culturalcocktails.com

Talk show: www.blogtalkradio.com/culturalcocktails

http://myculturalcocktails.wordpress.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/JGRWriter

FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/Cultural.Cocktails

&

https://www.facebook.com/jgrwriter?ref=hl

Google+https://plus.google.com/104579627944902429382/posts/p/pub?partnerid=gplp0

LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/pub/janice-ross/58/691/894/

Thank you, Janice, and best of luck with The Island Hopping series!

14 Examples on How to Sharpen Your Sentences (reblogged)

Pic picked up right from Jenni with an “i

Cheeky, cheeky writer Jenni Wiltz finished a draft and all she could think of is “word bloat!” Who hasn’t been there? But Jenni is not one to sit and ponder for long. After some serious line-editing, she shares her takeaway from this process in an excellent blog post I had to share. What drew me to her site? Her clever tagline:

“They say modern writers need a “platform.” I have plenty of these in the closet, but apparently they aren’t the right kind.”

So, without further ado, here’s Jenni for you 🙂

_______________________________________________

I just finished the third draft of a book that’s going to take at least five drafts to finish. The biggest problem until now was sheer word bloat. I knew I couldn’t make the additions the book needs until I made a buttload of subtractions. Imagine trying to evaluate the health of a garden when it’s so full of weeds and overgrown shrubbery you can’t see a single stalk or bloom. All you know is there’s an awful lot of green shit underfoot.

To hack away at that green shit, I focused on sentence-level editing. This meant fixing (or deleting) things like:

  • Sentences that use imprecise verbs or descriptions
  • Sentences that convey the same information in two different ways
  • Bloated sentences with filler words like “just,” “only,” “that,” etc.

This is no small task. And a lot of writers never do it.

These days, a popular piece of advice for self-published writers is to PUBLISH AS MUCH AS YOU CAN, LIKE, A MILLION WORDS A YEAR AND IF YOU DON’T NO ONE WILL EVER DISCOVER YOUR WORK LET ALONE BUY IT AND YOU’LL NEVER MAKE A DIME AND THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO PROVE YOU’RE REALLY COMMITTED.

This strategy might work for some people, but I’m not one of them. For starters, I don’t see how it’s possible to publish that quantity of words that have been edited and polished to perfection. As Miracle Max said in The Princess Bride, “You rush a miracle man, you get a rotten miracle.”

How to Look at Revision: Don't Rush Your Miracle.

For the spot-on examples right from Jenni’s own manuscript, click here for the rest of the article.

When you’re done, come back here to learn about

The 4 Elements of a click-worthy title” and what to do

When beta readers come with an agenda

and if you don’t want to miss any posts, just subscribe on the upper left corner.

Thank you for reading!