Saturday, March 29, 2014

That Spark (Saturday Ramblings)

I think you know where I'm going with this. That spark. The emotionally charged energy that directs itself at your creativity. That. Some know it as inspiration.

Sayings about inspiration abound, but the main one that writers hear is this: Don't wait for creativity in order to write.

That applies to painters (don't wait to paint!) and musicians and every other type of artist. But there's also something that artists need to do: Step back and assess. If something's not working, sleep on it. It's called rest, and I've been needing it lately.

I'm not taking a break from writing, per se. I'm taking a rest from pressure. Pressure actually doesn't turn a piece of coal into a diamond. Put pressure on coal and you have, well, coal dust. As faulty as that former statement is, there is a generous sliver of truth. Pressure can test and refine. A lot of times, pressure has positive results.

I guess all of this is an excuse to say that for the next few weeks, I'm going to be easier on myself and not force writing on myself. You can lead a horse to water, but don't stuff his snout in it for too long, 'cause he'll drown. Rest.

And while I'm resting, I'm going to reassess my platform. I'm a Christian first, a daughter/sister/aunt/friend second, and a writer third. Being a believer in Jesus Christ, I want to reflect that and not be a phony. I hope to do some good praying and reflecting in these next few weeks, and (try to) trust that when I come back to things with full(er) force, I'll be rested and more real.

Do YOU need to take the pressure off yourself for a little while? Don't feel bad and don't be hard on yourself. We have Sundays for a reason ;-)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Author Interview With Heather Fraser Brainerd

Today I have author Heather Fraser Brainerd on my blog talking about writing and her young adult paranormal romance/mystery novel Dream Shade.

Here's a blurb to whet your appetite: As if high school wasn't tough enough, sophomore Sarah Pasmore has one extra little problem: ghosts have started appearing to Sarah and they seem to want something from her. With help from her brainy best friend, as well as a few new friends (including the hottest guy in school), Sarah must solve the mystery of what the spirits want in order to put them back to rest. To complicate matters further, a more evil spirit will go to great lengths to make sure this doesn’t happen. As they investigate the past to unravel this supernatural mystery, the teens learn a lesson in the powers of friendship and love.

Me: What inspired you to write Dream Shade?

Heather:   I grew up in a haunted house. It wasn’t scary, but the experience inspired the plight of my teenaged heroine, Sarah. Decades later, while reading Twilight, I had an “I could do this!” moment. So I did.

Me: What does your writing process look like?

Heather: I’m a total pantser, which is weird since I’m overly-organized in every other aspect of my life. I write on my laptop in various locations (so convenient!) and draft, draft, draft until it feels right. My brother, who co-authors our José Picada, PI series, is the beta reader on my solo projects. He’s awesome.

Me: If you could meet any author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Heather: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I love mysteries, and Sherlock Holmes is the ultimate detective.

Me: Couldn't agree more! Love me some Sherlock. Are you working on another book right now?

Heather: My brother Dave and I are working on both the third and fourth José Picada books. That series is paranormal mystery for grown-ups. We’re also going through the editing process on our upcoming Middle Grade debut, Shadows of New York. This is a fun paranormal mystery that puts a new spin on the whole werewolf-and-vampire subgenre. In addition, I have three solo projects that I’ve sent to Dave for his input. I’m trying to be patient and not nag him too much for his response!

Me: Wow, working with your brother. That's pretty cool, having two writers in a family. Any advice for kids/teens wanting to write and get published?

Heather: It sounds cliché, but write what you know. It’s the little touches of reality that make a character come alive. Also, write what you love. If you love something, but don’t know a whole lot about it, research the heck out of it. You’ll have fun, learn a lot, and find inspiration for your writing. And I know this is said a lot, but don’t let rejections get you down. You might have to submit a book to a LOT of places before it finds the right home.

Thanks so much to Heather for being such a great sport! Here's some more about her:

Heather Fraser Brainerd is a renaissance woman. After earning a degree in Anthropology, she embarked on an incongruous career as a workers’ compensation insurance adjuster. She rapidly climbed the claims-handling ladder before surprising her colleagues by leaving the high-powered world of lumbar strains and carpal tunnel syndrome to run a child care center. Thousands of dirty diapers and gallons of strained peas later, she decided that maybe the insurance industry wasn’t quite as bad as she remembered. Unfortunately, it was. Fortunately, a few years later, she met the most wonderful man in the world. Now a stay-home mom to three amazing boys, she is able, at long last, to focus on her writing. Heather lives in New York with her family and their crazy pug/terrier.

Get Dream Shade from MuseItUp, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Author Interview: Marie Laval

Today I have Marie Laval on the ol' blog. She's the author of a book for the grown-up crowd: The Lion's Embrace. Keep reading to learn more!

Blurb: Arrogant, selfish and dangerous, Lucas Saintclair is everything Harriet Montague dislikes in a man. He is also the best guide in the whole of the Barbary States, the only man who can rescue her archaeologist father from the gang of Tuareg fighters that has kidnapped him. As Harriet embarks on a perilous journey across Algeria with Saintclair and Archibald Drake, her father’s most trusted friend, she discovers a bewitching but brutal land where nothing is what it seems. Who are these men intent on stealing her father’s ransom? What was her father hoping to find in Tuareg queen Tin Hinan’s tomb? Is Lucas Saintclair really as callous as he claims—or is he a man haunted by a past he cannot forgive? Dangerous passions engulf Harriet’s heart in the heat of the Sahara. Secrets of lost treasures, rebel fighters, and a sinister criminal brotherhood threaten her life and the life of the man she loves.

Does forever lie in the lion’s embrace?

Me: What inspired you to write THE LION'S EMBRACE?

Marie: I was always very interested in the history, the music and culture of North Africa where my mother grew up. One day I stumbled upon magical photographs of the Hoggar mountains and of rock art which showed that the Sahara wasn't always a desert. As I researched the history of the region further I read about the discovery of  a tomb filled with gems and precious objects in which the first Tuareg queen Tin Hinan was rumoured to have been buried. My imagination did the rest...

Me: What does your writing process look like?

Marie: I am a total pantser! I write my novels on the computer but I am a complete fan of notebooks. I always carry one or two around to scribble notes and ideas, bits of dialogues and anything that comes into my mind. The only thing is that these notebooks must be from the French make 'Clairefontaine'! My sister very kindly sends a pack over to England every so often. I was very lucky with THE LION'S EMBRACE. It only took me a few months to write and hardly needed any edits. My current project seems a lot harder!
Me: If you could meet any author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Marie: There are so many authors I would love to meet. Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas, for a start. Not to mention Isabelle Eberhardt and Colette - two great female writers who were very much ahead of their time and led very unconventional lives. I would also love to have a chat with Nora Roberts, one of my favourite romance authors ever, and ask her how she manages to come up with so many great plots and characters time after time. 

Me: Are you working on another book right now? If so, care to share a little about it?

Marie: I have just completed a contemporary romantic suspense set in Provence, in the South of France, and I am currently finishing yet another historical romance set in Scotland. I have a few other projects I can't wait to start, one of them being a Corsican adventure! I find the start of a new story so exciting.

Me: Any advice for kids/teens/adults wanting to write and get published?

Marie: Just one: keep writing. Never mind how many rejections you get from publishers or agents, or how many people tell you that you should concentrate on 'real' work, writing is magical. It's yours. It's who you are. And nothing can change that. 

Thanks, Marie! Here's some more about the author, along with links to her book:

Originally from Lyon in France, Marie Laval studied French History and Law at university there. Marie now lives in Lancashire, in Northern England, where she tries to balance a busy family life with her passion for writing and her occupation as a modern foreign languages teacher in a large secondary school.  THE LION'S EMBRACE is Marie Laval’s second novel.

Buy The Lion's Embrace from