Tag Archives: Ink Drop Interviews

Mary Ellen Bramwell

Today I welcome another author from Black Rose Writing, Mary Ellen Bramwell, author of The Apple of My Eye.

IDI – Hi Mary Ellen. How are you today?

MEB – I’m feeling wonderful. Thank you for having me.

IDI – Tell us, Mary Ellen, when did you have your Eureka moment? When did know that you were born to be a writer?

The Apple of My Eye

The Apple of My Eye

MEB – I discovered writing when I was ten, and from then on it was my favorite hobby. However, years later, it had to find me. When my youngest child started school, I was looking for work, but no one wanted to talk to the stay-at-home mom. I started to write because it was one of my last options, only to discover that I love it more than life itself. I am definitely addicted, and I don’t ever want to be cured.

IDI – How important are your reading habits to your writing habits?

MEB – I think I have the greatest job in the world, because I get to read and call it work! How great is that? Reading inspires my writing and I read all different genres and authors so I can learn my craft better. If I’m not reading a lot, my writing suffers.

IDI – Favorite author, and why?

MEB – I like this question, because I don’t have a straight answer for it. My taste in books and authors is very eclectic. For instance, I love Agatha Christie because she is so clever. I enjoy Kate Morton for her multi-layered stories. One of my favorite books is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak because of the fascinating choice of death as the narrator along with all the wonderful metaphors and imagery. However, I read one of his other books and absolutely detested it.

IDI – I also have read a book by an author and wished it would never end and their next book I had to drag myself through.

We all draw from within and I believe there is an element of ‘us’ in everything we write. How much of you will a reader find in any given book?

MEB – Probably the biggest influence my own life has on my writing is my religious beliefs. None of my books or stories are overtly religious, however, I have a great sense of faith and hope. Hope is the underlying theme of everything I write.

IDI – What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt maybe to tickle our tastebuds?

MEB – I’m working on a novel titled, When I Was Seven, narrated by a seven-year-old boy, Lucas. The first chapter begins:

When I was seven, Grandma came to our house to live. It felt like something familiar, yet something that’s hard to put into words. It’s as if when she came she left the front door open. Only you’re not sorry it’s open because you sense that spring has finally come. You rush to the door to discover that the world looks exactly the same as when you last looked, only it smells better and it makes you smile. And when you tell Mom, she looks up with tired eyes and doesn’t see the difference. But Grandma saw it; Grandma was it.

But then this is how that chapter ends:

“ … the next thing I knew, Grandma was moving into our house to live, or actually she was coming to our house to die.”

IDI – Sounds intriguing. Define a great book for us.

MEB – A good book has an interesting story; a great book has a satisfying ending. The ending should put an exclamation point on the whole book. The last sentence, even the last word, is the most critical part of an entire book to me. Of course, the rest of the story should be compelling enough so I keep reading to the end.

IDI – Who is the most supportive of you and your dream to be a writer?

MEB – My family. My husband has taken over most of the household chores so I can write. My daughter is my first (and most amazing) beta reader. My parents have always been ardent cheerleaders.

IDI – What is the hardest or most frustrating aspect of writing? Ideas, getting started, writer’s block, re-writing?

MEB – Actually, for me it’s getting over the fear that my book is boring. It can take a while to create a scene. When you read it, it goes fast and the suspense or drama flows. But when you write it, it’s slow. I have to stop periodically and reread from the beginning to know that the flow and timing are what they should be.

IDI – You’re absolutely right about that. The writing process is much slower than the reading process and it does make the scenes seem like they are dragging, but when you read it, it often seems too short.

What’s one thing you would like to do to improve your writing?

MEB – I would love to travel more. There’s nothing like describing a place you have been or something you have experienced. You can’t fake that in writing. For instance, in my WIP, a character walks along a beach. Having been there, I can describe the feel of the sand or the waves as they wash over your toes.

IDI – In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions new authors have about the publishing industry?

MEB – That if you build it, they will come. Marketing is the elephant in the room. You may have a great book, but if people don’t know about it, they’re not going to buy it. I thought it would be like – I tell a few friends, and they tell a few friends, and so on. My friends love my book, but I can’t expect them to be my marketing partners.

Mary Ellen Bramwell

Mary Ellen Bramwell

IDI – I once thought that, too! It’s a lesson soon learned.

If you could pick a fictional character to have as a friend, who would that be and why?

MEB – Elizabeth Bennett. She is intelligent, unafraid to speak her mind, yet humble enough to accept her own failings and make changes.

IDI – Okay, something fun to finish up with.

Can you tell us three interesting things about you that you’re sure we don’t already know?

MEB – Don’t already know… let’s see,

1 – I have five children ranging in age from 27 to 8. They provide interesting perspectives.

2 – I used to work as a computer scientist. The puzzle of writing a computer program isn’t much different from crafting an intricate plot.

3 – I won awards in high school for drama and acted in many plays. Whenever I write characters or dialog, I imagine saying those lines or acting that part. If it works in my actor’s brain, I go with it.

IDI – Twenty-seven to eight, wow. It’s a wonder you have time to write! Mary Ellen, thank you so much for being here today and the very best of luck in your writing endeavors.

If you would like to know more about Mary Ellen and her work, you can follow the links below:

Amazon  –   Facebook  –  Website

k.e. garvey (formerly and regrettably known as Kathy Reinhart) is the award-winning author of Lily White Lies, The Red Strokes & Missouri in a Suitcase

Kathy Reinhart

              k.e. garvey

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D. A. Roach

I’d like to welcome YA fiction author D. A. Roach, who as it happens just released her latest book, Rarity, today.  Check for the link at the end of the interview to get your copy!

IDI – I’m sure you’re busy with the release of your book so I truly appreciate the time you’ve taken to chat with me.

DAR – I’m happy to.

IDI – Who’s your target audience? What aspect of your writing do you feel targets that audience?

Rarity

Rarity

DAR – I mostly write books for late teens-30’s.  My stories usually encompass that awkward transition between teen and adult.  I, personally, grew up a lot emotionally in college.  It’s an interesting time in life with so much change and insecurity…it;’s like giving an artist a blank canvas with paints in every color – the possibilities are endless to create an interesting story.

IDI – If you could meet one character from a book, who would it be and why?

DAR – Evan Mathews from The Breathing Series by Rebecca Donovan. He is the most supportive boyfriend ever created. Emma has some pretty deep and dark issues she is dealing with and Evan is the sun in her cloudy world – radiant, reliable, and comforting. The world would be a better place if we were all married to an Evan Mathews.

IDI – If you could give your main character a million dollars, how would he/she spend it?

DAR – My character (from my latest book, Rarity,) would give a portion to her mom’s bills (she adores her mom), some would be used for her college tuition, and the rest would go toward researching a cure for the rare disorder her boyfriend is diagnosed with.

IDI – How has your writing evolved from when you began as a writer to now?

DAR – My writing has changed a lot since becoming an author.  People who have read all my books comment on how my writing has improved from book to book.  I’m considering reworking my self-published titles and submitting them to the publishing company to see if they want to publish them.  But it’s a dilemma, does the band KISS (2015) look at their first album (1973) and consider reworking it?  If they are doing that I’d tell them to leave it be – it’s classic.  But despite this argument, I  will modify some of my previous self-pub stories to breathe new life into them.

IDI – Have you ever wanted to give up? What stopped you?

DAR – No, no quitting yet.  I’m still learning.

IDI – What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about writing? How has this helped you as a writer?

DAR – Focus on the storytelling, don’t fixate on the errors.  Editors can fix the errors or at least point them out to you.  

IDI – What’s the best advice ever given to you, and by whom?

DAR – Honestly, it’s a quote, “Leap and the net will appear.”   by American naturalist John Burroughs.  It’s easy to worry and try to plan for everything but sometimes it’s best to take the leap and trust it will be alright.

IDI – What advice would you give to new/unpublished authors?

DAR – Only read the 4  & 5 star reviews, let them encourage you to write more rather than dwelling on the negative.

D.A. Roach

D.A. Roach

Also, seriously consider a traditional publisher.  It’s raised my bar and helped me put more effort into my book and strive for the best.  And I’ve met a ton of other authors which provides a great support system & a wealth of tips and information.

IDI – What do you do when you’re not writing?

DAR – Reading! I also advocate  for a rare disorder, pull weeds, listen to music, and watch horror movies (Exorcist, The Ring, and The Shining are my favorites).

IDI – How important are your reading habits to your writing habits?

DAR – Reading is very influential to my writing. When I immerse myself in a story I am aware of how the author builds the characters.  Do they take us through the daily mundane tasks to help us live in the character’s shoes?  Do they use dialogue?  How do they get us to care for the character?   I also enjoy uncovering how an author starts their book.  When someone walks into the bookstore and picks up a book, they look at the cover, title, read the book sleeve, and then start the first chapter.  If the author does not get the story rolling quick enough, you lose a sale. So reading influences my writing by providing me with examples of what works…and what doesn’t.

IDI – Can you tell us three interesting things about you that you’re sure we don’t already know?

DAR – I was a retail pharmacist years ago and hated it.

I did not begin reading for pleasure until after college (my parents were immigrants from Lithuania and since reading in English was a challenge – we did not have many English language books.

I spent 10 days in Japan during high school as an exchange student,  I lived with a Japanese family in the countryside it was an amazing culture and experience. I am still fb friends with the host girl who was my age.

IDI – Thank you so much for joining me today. I wish you the best of luck with your new release.

DAR – Thanks for having me.

To learn more about D. A. and her work, visit any of the following links:

WEBSITE FACEBOOK RARITY ON AMAZONTWITTER

Kathy Reinhart is the award-winning author of Lily White Lies and The Red Strokes

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Kathy Reinhart

Kathy Reinhart


Michael Hughes

Today I welcome another author from Black Rose Writing, Michael Hughes. Michael has two published novels with Pumpkin Farmer being his latest.

IDI – Good morning, Michael. Thanks for joining me today.

Michael Hughes

Michael Hughes

MH – Thanks for having me.

IDI – Let’s begin with your growth as a writer. How has your writing evolved from when you began as a writer to now?

MH – I started writing in earnest during the summer of 2012.  I’ve written six novels to date.  Only two have been published; Loafing by La Brea, which I self-published on Kindle, and Pumpkin Farmer, which is published by Black Rose Writing and is available in paperback and digital formats.  My first two novels had very little dialogue, and I really didn’t make much effort to put in paragraphs.  I just sat down and started writing.  Needless to say, those works are pretty rough with respect to editing, but the fact that I could write a 90,000 word draft in three weeks made me feel pretty confident.  My later works were a bit shorter, but much more polished.  I guess I’ve sort of internalized the novel format of writing, as opposed to just banging away on the keyboard.

IDI – What inspired you to write Pumpkin Farmer?

MH – I attended college at Stanford University, near where my novel is set.  That probably isn’t coincidental.  I’d often go on driving trips around the San Francisco Peninsula, including some of its more rural parts.  I used to drive through La Honda and out to San Gregorio, on the coast.  During the fall, there are a lot of pumpkin patches in this area (even more a little bit to the north in Half Moon Bay).  I thus got the idea to write about a wayward pumpkin farmer, hence the title of the book.  I had already written four novels beforehand, but they were all set in the present.  I wanted to write a novel set in an area with which I was familiar, but in a different time period.  I’ve always had an interest in history and politics, but I wanted to set the book in an era close enough to the present for people to be able to relate (Pumpkin Farmer is set in 1979).

IDI – I believe we all have an unpublished manuscript or two hidden in a drawer. I call them practice stories.

We all draw from within and I believe there is an element of ‘us’ in everything we write. How much of you will a reader find in any given book?

MH – I think they’ll find at least a bit.  It depends on what book, of course, but I’ll admit that at least a few of my characters think somewhat like I do.  I don’t know if writers can help it, to be frank.  When I write, I have to anticipate how a character will respond to a certain situation.  I think it is inevitable that some of my own quirks and reactions will seep into the narrative.

IDI – Who’s your target audience? What aspect of your writing do you feel targets that audience?

MH – Actually, just about anyone who reads fiction.  Clearly, there are some people who prefer reading thrillers or horror novels, but I think my writing is a good fit for anyone who wants a good story.

IDI – Let’s talk about your process. What works for you? Give us a rundown of your ‘writing process’ from beginning to finished product.

MH – I usually have an idea for a book in advance, but it isn’t set.  Eventually, I sit down to start writing, and I see what

Pumpkin Farmer

Pumpkin Farmer

happens.  I don’t have an outline, just a general idea of a plot.  I see where the writing takes me.  The first drafts of my novels have taken between three weeks and five months to write.  It just depends.  The draft for Pumpkin Farmer, my sole paperback so far, took me five months to write, in part because I was working (I wrote the prior four books while in college or during summer break), and in part because I didn’t know how to end it at first.

IDI – In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions new authors have about the publishing industry?

MH – I’d say the biggest misconception is that it will take you longer to write the book than to find a publisher.  I’d say that many times, it’s the reverse.  You not only have to write the draft, but you have to approach a lot of agents/publishers.

IDI – What advice would you give to new/unpublished authors?

MH – It’s clichéd, but don’t give up.  If you want to be published, you can’t worry about rejection.  Keep sending queries out regardless of whether or not you think anyone will be interested.  Do not be surprised if you send out over a hundred letters or emails and hear nothing back.  Keep plugging away.

IDI –   Define a great book.

MH – A great book is one where you come away and say, “I got to take some time to think about all of that.”  In other words, it’s a book that has characters, themes, and situations that are at least somewhat out of the box.

IDI – We all  know how important our online presence is. How much time/effort do you give to social media as a means of self-promotion?

MH – I give it a decent amount of time, actually.  I don’t expect it to translate directly into sales, but I do believe it helps to get my name out there.  I use Facebook to connect with family and friends with respect to my novels, as they are generally your most enthusiastic supporters.  I use Twitter, as well.

IDI – One last question, Michael. Do you have any other works that are available/published?

MH – Yes.  As I said, I’ve written six novels, but only two are currently published.  The first, Loafing by La Brea, I self-published on Kindle.  It tells the story of a young, unemployed college grad living in Los Angeles.  As mentioned above, Pumpkin Farmer is available in both digital and paperback formats.

IDI – Michael, thank you so much for being here today. It was a pleasure. Best of luck with your writing endeavors.

For more information on Michael and his work, follow these links:

Amazon/Pumpkin FarmerFacebook/Pumpkin FarmerBlack Rose WritingAmazon/Loafing by La BreaFacebook/Loafing by La Brea 

Kathy Reinhart is the author of the award-winning Lily White Lies, The Red Strokes  and Missouri in a Suitcase written under the pen name, Nova Scott.

Kathy Reinhart

Kathy Reinhart

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The Husband’s Secret… by Liane Moriarty

This is one of those times when I find myself swimming upstream. Upon finishing The Husband’s Secret, I browsed through the Amazon reviews to see where mine would fall in line with others. Not. Even. Close.

First, I found the book to be extremely hard to get into. Each of the first few chapters was from a new and different person’s POV. Had it been one or two people introduced in each of the first three chapters, it wouldn’t have been so much to sort and keep straight, but there were multiple characters in each and the switches were abrupt. A chapter heading such as ‘Rachel’ or ‘Tess’ would have indicated that the author had moved on to another setting since the changes came before the reader had a chance to know any of the characters.

The Husband's Secret

The Husband’s Secret

Next, the beginning of the book was slow to start. Even when I hit a tension-filled scene between Tess, her husband, and her cousin, the author broke the flow of conflict with unnecessary narrative about the color of eyes. In the scene, she learned that her husband and cousin are ‘in love’. It should have been a tension-charged scene and not a time to consider eye-color. But, most of the first third of the book seemed to jump around from topic to topic. I wasn’t fond of the narrative sections and tended to skim read.

I realize that the author is Australian and certain words we use in the US are different elsewhere, such as lawyer, barrister, solicitor, depending where you are. But I found things that I don’t believe are different in Australia. Some can read over them and not seem to notice, but for me, they stick out and interrupt the flow. I have to re-read to make sure I read it right.

Page 47 – “When do you leave?” Rachel SAID to… (Should be asked, as in a question. There were several of these tag mistakes)

Page 52 – “It got me to thinking about my dad and the things he didn’t get to say after he died.” (It reads as if his father hoped to speak AFTER he died, or did the author mean that the person speaking got to thinking… AFTER their father died? Unclear writing, which again made me re-read for comprehension)

There were a number of other attributes that kept me from loving this book. I didn’t hate the story, the last third was a bit better, but its slow start, mediocre characters, and predictability made it very easy to put down. The blurb on the back of the book was intriguing, but it took too long to get into the premise of the book. Love or hate? Right down the middle at 2.5-stars.

Kathy Reinhart is the award-winning author of Lily White Lies among other titles. Learn more about her and her work below.

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Kathy Reinhart

Kathy Reinhart


Mark Love

Today I have the opportunity to talk with Mark Love, another author at Black Rose Writing. After the interview, I urge you to check out his many titles available on Amazon.

IDI – Welcome Mark. You are the fourth or fifth Black Rose author I have interviewed in the past few weeks. It seems they have a lot going on there.

We’ll talk about your previous works in a minute, but first, what are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt maybe to tickle our taste buds?

Mark Love

Mark Love

ML – I’m working on the sequel to “Why 319?” about the detectives who solved the mystery of the serial killer.  This one is about an entrepreneur who gets killed at a paintball battle. Here’s an excerpt:

It didn’t look like the type of morning for someone to die. The mist burning off with the rising sun revealed a gregarious crowd, struggling for some semblance of order. Green and brown camouflage fatigues, plastic goggles and leather boots adorned many of the participants. Some were clothed in sneakers, jeans and sweatshirts, mostly black or dark in color.  From a distance it looked like a raiding party from Selfridge ANG base.

Up close was another story. These were not the lean, mean physiques of true military men and women, but the various shapes of weekend warriors, seeking a little fun and games. Much of the clothing was worn and mismatched, probably from an army surplus supplier.  The group was quickly separated into four divisions, designated by colored armbands.  An elaborate version of capture the flag was about to begin. But one participant was after much higher stakes.

The sun was quickly warming the grounds when the target was spotted. It took him a while, since he didn’t want to get too close and risk being recognized. Surprise was going to be a major part of his game.

The second round of games was about to begin. On the far side of the staging area he saw his man, a large blotch of yellow paint adorning his neck and right shoulder. His eyes never left the target.  The man was slumped on the ground, breathing heavily, with his back braced against a tree. Sweat beaded his face. He pulled off his hat, wiping his face with his bare hands. The camouflage shirt and pants were also darkened with sweat.

As the battle began, the target got to his feet and wandered away from the others. He ducked into a cluster of willow trees.  The hunter trailed behind. He made his way slowly through the low hanging branches. The game went on around him. His eyes remained narrowed and focused. Nostrils flaring, he was searching for the scent of his prey. His ears were attuned for the slightest clue of his target. He checked each area cautiously before moving on.

There!

The target was making this too easy. He had isolated himself from the group.  The target had straddled a fallen log and was holding his head in his hands.  The hunter moved closer, still cautiously checking his surroundings before taking even a single step.  He was less than ten feet away when the target looked up.

“Go away. I don’t want to play today.”

“Sorry, pigeon. This game’s for real.” He brought the gun up and extended it toward his quarry.

“Okay, shoot me and get it over with. I feel like shit anyway.”

“When I get done, you won’t feel a thing.”

At that moment the target looked up and studied the weapon drawn on him. This looked different from the paint ball guns everyone used in the game. This was a revolver, with a large dark tube attached to the muzzle.

“What kind of paint gun is that?”

“I don’t play with paint, Morrissey. I use the real thing.”

Morrissey raised the goggles from his face and squinted at the hunter in the sun-dappled shadows. Recognition finally registered. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“I’m taking care of business.”  With that he lined up the sites on the victim’s chest and nonchalantly squeezed the trigger. What sound the suppressor did not muffle, the willow branches did. He watched the body jerk spasmodically as Morrissey slid off the log onto the ground. Stepping closer, he fired an insurance round directly into the heart. Then just because, he placed the barrel against the victim’s forehead and squeezed the trigger again. He lifted Morrissey’s weapon and fired a red paint pellet at his own left leg. The killer jumped in surprise at the pain of the impact at such close range. The paint was a brighter shade than the stain spreading on the ground below the body. Satisfied, he turned from the log and began working his way through the willows toward the neutral zone.

“Game over.”

IDI – I like the way you end it. ‘Game over’ is short and sweet, reminiscent of ‘Make my day,’ or ‘I’ll be back.’

When did you know you were a writer?

ML – I’ve always been a storyteller even back when I was in grade school. But it wasn’t until I took a creative writing class in college that I knew being a writer was a part of who I am. I guess those nuns in the sixth grade were right!

IDI – Funny how sometimes others can see things in us that we don’t see ourselves until much later.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about writing? How has this helped you as a writer?

ML – Never stop writing. There have been situations where my time to write has been limited (the demands of work, school and family) but to write is to live. Sometimes it’s a matter of reviewing the last thing I wrote, going back and editing a bit, getting into the rhythm of the story, but it only takes a heartbeat or two to reawaken the urge to write. Then it feels like my muse is perched on my shoulder, thwacking my ear with her fingertip, asking ‘why do you stay away?’

IDI – What works for you? Give us a rundown of your ‘writing processes’ from beginning to finished product.

ML – Outlines have never worked well for me. I start out with a main character or two and a basic idea for a story. It’s important for me to get the characters right. Then I just follow along and record their actions. My characters have a tendency to take the story in a totally different direction than I may have originally had in mind.  I probably changed the killer a dozen times in Why 319? until it felt right. Then it’s a matter of editing, revising, and more editing. I have a couple of friends who are Beta readers. Their input is priceless. Once I’ve gotten that back and taken their recommendations into consideration, I’m ready to send it to a publisher.

IDI – Online cafés or writers groups (aside from social networking). Do you belong to any and if so, help or harm?

ML – I’ve never tried the online version but I have been a part of several groups over the years. The best was a number of people who were serious about writing and never failed to bring something to the table. Other writers can be a great sounding board, picking up on nuances that you may not realize were missing. But everyone in the group has to be committed and feel comfortable giving constructive criticism. One woman in the group used to say ‘Oh that’s nice’ about everyone’s effort. I’m not aiming for nice. I want real reactions, real insight. Particularly if I’m writing something meant to grab you by the throat or some other part of the anatomy. (Laughs) Now that I think about it, the others voted her out after a while.

IDI – I can’t say that I’ve found writing groups beneficial. The last one I joined had a particular member who used to come in late and then ask to give/get all of her critiques out of the way because she had to leave early to go home and make dinner. After three or four meetings I realized we were there for her and her only. I imagine it would be nice if all members were there to not only take, but to give also. I think you all have to be on the same page, so to speak.

What is the hardest or most frustrating aspect of writing? Ideas, getting started, writer’s block, re-writing?

ML – Getting started can be the most frustrating part for me. I get ideas all the time on scenes, dialogue, conflicts and characters, so that’s not an issue. When I can block out time to write, I sometimes have to go back and read over the last segment I wrote, just to get my neurons firing. I’ll often stop writing in the middle of a scene, so that will be a spot I can easily pick up on.

IDI – How do you conduct your research?

ML – Beyond the internet, I like to connect with professionals in the field and draw from their experience.  I’ve interviewed cops, forensic scientists, a fitness instructor who taught a number of different programs including pole dancing, nurses and a couple of guys who ran a shop that specialized in surveillance devices. And that was all for one book. Most people enjoy talking about their work.

Devious

Devious

IDI – How has your writing evolved from when you began as a writer to now?

ML – That’s a great question. I’ve gone back and read some of my earliest efforts for comparison. I’ve developed a better flow of the story, learned when to interject humor and how dialogue can really help carry the story. My characters are stronger now, more detailed, more complete, with their own baggage that makes them unique.

IDI – How important are your reading habits to your writing habits?

ML – I’ve always been an avid reader. I think it’s important to read the work of others, both for entertainment and for education. I’ve learned how to sharpen my dialogue, infuse moments of humor and tension into a story and surprise a reader with a twist. These are all traits I’ve gleaned from different authors over the years.  No one writes a great story in a vacuum. We’re all influenced by what we read.

IDI – Who, in your opinion, was the best written character of all time, and why?

ML – I’ve got to go with Travis McGee, the protagonist of 21 mystery novels by John D. MacDonald. McGee was not your typical hero. He was a Florida beach bum who enjoyed life and only got involved when a crime was committed against a good friend or when his ‘retirement’ funds ran low.  I can see parts of him and MacDonald’s influence in James W. Hall’s Thorn, Robert Crais’s Elvis Cole, Robert B. Parker’s Spenser and a number of characters by Elmore Leonard. I liked McGee so much that I named my oldest son Travis.

IDI – What’s the best reaction you’ve ever gotten to your writing?

ML – I had a friend in college who kept bugging me to read one of my short stories. She was very interested in mysteries and mayhem, which is right up my alley. I finally gave her a story that I thought had potential. The next day I was outside of a class talking to another guy when she walked up and punched me as hard as she could. Fortunately, she was a petite girl so it was more surprising than painful.  When I asked what that was for, she told me that she had nightmares after reading my story and dreamed the killer was coming after her. That was a great compliment.

Why 319?

Why 319?

IDI – Let’s jump to the future. Everyone has visions of where they see themselves in the future, be it a year or five. Where do you see yourself in five years? Where did you see yourself five years ago? Did you make it there?

ML – Five years ago I was just starting to consider e-book publishers. I had been trying diligently to get in with a traditional publisher, but couldn’t knock down the door. I found one new house that was only going to do e-books and I thought it was worth a shot. They accepted a couple of my novels but they didn’t stay in business very long. That gave me the incentive to keep looking and focus on smaller publishing companies.  Within the next year or two, I’m hoping to land an agent who can help me get in with a larger house, and reach a greater audience. Time will tell.

IDI – Mark, thank you so much for chatting with me today. I loved your answers and wish you the best with your writing.

ML – Thank you for having me. I’d also like to let everyone know that on June 20th I will be signing books in Ann Arbor MI for the Ann Arbor Book Festival. Hope to see you there!

To learn more about Mark and his writing, follow the links below:

Blog  –  Facebook  –  Why 319?  –  Devious  –  Vanishing Act  –  Fleeing Beauty  –  Amazon Author Page

Kathy Reinhart is the author of the award-winning Lily White Lies, The Red Strokes and Missouri in a Suitcase.
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Jessica A. Scott

One of my recent interviews was with Glenn Maynard who is signed to Black Rose Publishing. After our interview he asked if he could send a few of their other authors to me for interviews. To date I have had the pleasure of working with four more of their authors. Today, I welcome the second of the Black Rose writers, Jessica A. Scott, author of Chase and Charlie in her very first interview.

IDI – Let’s start with your process. What works for you? Can you give us a rundown of your ‘writing process’ from beginning to finished product?

Jessica Scott

Jessica Scott

JS – A lot of people would find my ‘writing process’ to be very arduous, but I love it; it is the only thing that works for me. I start by writing the entire novel out by hand (Chase and Charlie took up six spiral notebooks, two of which were the five-subject kind). Then I go back and reread and revise it before typing it up on the computer. That part can take months, depending on how much I type per day, but it is essential, because it gives me the opportunity to really slow down and pay attention to the words I have written, and to see what works and what doesn’t. After that, I print the novel and read it over again, and after making the necessary revisions to THAT draft, it is finally ready to start shopping around to publishing houses.

IDI – Wow. That process certainly takes dedication to the craft. We all draw from within and I believe there is an element of ‘us’ in everything we write. How much of you will a reader find in any given book?

JS – In Stephen King’s book, On Writing, he says that all of the characters you write have an element of you in them, and I find this to be absolutely true. In Chase and Charlie, for instance, I can of course see some of myself in the way the main character talks and thinks, but I can also see glimpses of myself in the character of her mother, or her brother, or even in the antagonist, which is a scary thing, if you think about it! But that doesn’t mean that these characters ARE me. They all have their own wants and dreams and life goals like real people, completely separate from mine. I don’t consciously base any of my characters in any of my novels on myself or people I know, but I think it is impossible not to allow a bit of yourself to spill over when you are creating and developing a character.

IDI – What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt maybe to tickle our tastebuds?

JS – Sorry, but no. I am pretty private when it comes to my writing, because I find that if I tell people anything about my works in progress, it jinxes me, and I get a raging case of writer’s block! I am not sure why that is. Perhaps subconsciously I feel more pressured to finish something or write a certain way if someone else knows about a specific project, or maybe, for me, writing is an intimate thing that only works if it is between me and the characters in my story. Whatever the reason, I have a policy of not revealing anything about my books until they are finished. So I’m sorry, future readers, you will just have to wait!

IDI – Jessica, you have the distinction of being the first person to ever refuse to share your current work. I’m not sure if that leaves me in awe or incredibly eager to see the finished product!

What is the hardest or most frustrating aspect of writing? Ideas, getting started, writer’s block, re-writing?

JS – Publishing. For me, writer’s block is pretty terrible, but trying to get published is like trying to drive the wrong way down a one-way street. A lot of times I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, and I didn’t seem to be making any headway, and there didn’t seem to be anyone who really wanted to give me a hand. Then, once I finally got my book accepted by a publisher, the REAL work started! I had to become not just a writer, but a businesswoman, and that is something that I still struggle with. Writing itself is beautiful to me even when I am struggling, because I know that the struggle makes me stronger, and will eventually make my writing better. Even though it is the end goal of the writing, this philosophy seems harder to implement when it comes to publishing. But I am learning, and I will surely get better and more savvy over time. Still, though, if it were possible to write for a living without ever having to deal with the publishing process, I would sign up for that career in a heartbeat!

IDI – Have you ever wanted to give up? What stopped you?

JS – I think all writers have thought about giving up at some point, whether it’s when you’re enduring the agony of writer’s block, when you’re not getting anywhere when you’re submitting your manuscripts or query letters, or when you’re just trying to make your friends and loved ones understand that writing is a valid profession. But I’ve never actually seriously considered giving up. Writing is too important to me. It is the thing that makes me happy and gives me fulfillment in life. I don’t know who I would be without it. And I don’t want to find out!

IDI – This is your first published book. What part of being a published author are you looking forward to the most?

JS – Most authors want to see their book for sale, or on bookshelves in a bookstore, but for me, the most exciting part of being published will be going into the library down the street and seeing my book on the shelf next to all of the other writers’. I have found many a book in that library that unexpectedly changed my life in some way, and I am hoping that my book can do that for someone else. And in the library, as opposed to a bookstore, all they would need to have that experience is a library card. Somehow, to me, that accessibility makes it more meaningful.

IDI – What is something you have learned from another writer, and how do you incorporate this into your own work?

JS – I mentioned Stephen King before, but he is an extremely influential author for me. I am not a huge fan of horror novels, but I admire the way that he makes his characters “real.” He is a big advocate for having your characters speak and act in the way that a real person would out in the world, and I try to do that in my own writing as well. I don’t just make the characters speak as they would if they were real people, but I also write in a style that is accessible to people, so that they feel like they are talking to a friend instead of just reading a made-up story.

IDI – What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about writing? How has this helped you as a writer?

JS – The most important thing I have learned as a writer so far is that you have to try not to get in your own way. I have a tendency (and I think a lot of other writers do too) to overthink things, and to constantly critique my own work. In the moment, when I am writing, things are fine, and the story seems great. But the more I think about whether what I wrote was good or not, or whether eventual readers will like a certain part, the more difficult it becomes to just write the story. So the lesson I have learned is just to allow myself to make mistakes, and save the criticizing and self-doubt for the second draft.

Chase and Charlie

Chase and Charlie

IDI – In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions new authors have about the publishing industry?

JS – I know that the biggest misconception I had was that it would be easy to get published. I figured I would just go straight to the top and submit my unsolicited query to the top publishers in the business and be published in no time. In reality, though, it is much harder than this, and you have to do lot of work and research and make a lot of connections before you can really start to get anywhere. So if you want to get published, you have to be prepared to put in the effort, for sure!

IDI – I think that is probably the biggest misconception among new writers. I also believe that is why there are so many new writers. If only it were that easy.

What advice would you give to new/unpublished authors?

JS – DON’T GIVE UP!! As a newly published writer myself, I can tell you that writing is the easy part when it comes to getting published. You are going to face A LOT of rejection from agents and publishers and everyone else when you try to get your book out into the world, but don’t lose hope. Keep querying, keep researching, and just keep trying, because you’ll make it eventually. You just have to stick with it and have faith in yourself and your book.

IDI – Great advice! Writing is not for the faint of heart or thin-skinned. Perseverance is key! Jessica, thank you so much for chatting with me and best of luck with Chase and Charlie.

Interested in learning more about Jessica and her work? You can visit her at the following links:

Website – Facebook – Black Rose Writing – Goodreads – Amazon

Kathy Reinhart is the author of the award-winning Lily White Lies, among other titles.

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One Moment, One Morning… by Sarah Rayner

Occasionally I post reviews for books I have recently read. Sometimes they are very positive and other times, they are my honest thoughts and most likely won’t be considered positive, especially by the author. I am never mean-spirited in my reviews, but I also stink at sugar-coating. It is what it is…

One Moment, One Morning

One Moment, One Morning

This week I finished One Moment, One Morning by Sarah Rayner. When I first went to the bookstore after hearing wonderful things about this title, they were out. So, I ended up ordering it and purchasing another of her titles, The Other Half, while there. I enjoyed The Other Half and once finished, couldn’t wait to receive the ordered book.

It never ceases to amaze me how one author can write two completely different books, so different that they don’t even read like they were written by the same person. One Moment, One Morning had a lot more ‘English’ words, expressions and such. Not something that took from the read, but I wasn’t expecting it after the other book. I can sum up my review in one word.

Fluff.

At almost 400 pages, 300 of them could have been cut… Here is the Amazon review (with spoilers):

First, I picked up this book after reading another Sarah Rayner novel, The Other Half, which I enjoyed…

The opening of the novel held promise. The author could have taken it in so many directions, but didn’t. Instead, it was almost 400 pages of boring fluff. The actual ‘story’ could have been told in 100 pages or less.

The biggest disappointment was that at no point while reading was I drawn in enough that I couldn’t put it down, and during some points, found myself skimming and wanting to put it down.

I wasn’t particularly fond of any of the characters. Lou finds a love interest and announces to her mother she’s gay. First, it was extremely predictable, as much of the book was. But even in that, there was no real emotion in her coming out, nothing to keep me turning pages to see what happened.

Karen is grappling with the sudden loss of her husband. But she does it in the most ordinary way possible. I waited for something out of the ordinary to happen, to make it worth reading, but nothing.

Anna is involved with an alcoholic. She dumps him. Big deal. Again, a story we’ve read over and over, no twists, no A-ha moments.

I would have put the book down long before the halfway mark, but continued to read because I actually thought that Lou and Anna might get together. Not sure why I thought that, maybe their shared experience on top of one having no love life and the other having a bad one. And even though I was looking for it, it still would have been something out of the ordinary.

I suppose I can wrap up the review with one sentence: The book was ordinary. Everything about it, their lives, their reactions, their interactions… six days of ordinary.

International bestseller? I don’t know how. This book bored me silly.

I certainly don’t mean for this review to sound harsh, just honest. I know what it takes to write an entire novel. It isn’t an easy task, especially when done right. As I’ve seen from the reviews, there were enough people who liked it. Hell, I may even be in the minority here. But even knowing that I was the only person in the world who didn’t care for it wouldn’t change anything I’ve written. It wasn’t my cup of tea, so to speak.

But, if you’re looking for an enjoyable read, don’t hesitate to try Sarah’s The Other Half. Well worth the time investment.

Happy reading!


Steven Daniel

Steven Daniel

Steven Daniel

Today I welcome a man who writes in reverse! Rather than write a book he hopes to turn into a movie, he takes his television/movie ideas and turns them into books. His process is unique and he has a lot of interesting things to say. Please help me to welcome Steven Daniel…

IDI – Thanks for joining me today, Steven. Let’s start off with a question I’m sure you’ve been asked many times in the past, but readers never tire of hearing the ‘magic moments’ stories. When did you have your Eureka moment?  When did know that you were born to be a writer?

SD – Since high school, I aspired in becoming a film director.  I could not get in the right film schools due to cost and did not have the right connections.  I was not ready to give up.  I decided to turn every movie and television show idea into books.  It took off from there.

IDI – That’s different, I’ve always heard it said the other way around, books into movies. What are you working on now?  Can we get a peek, an excerpt maybe to tickle our tastebuds?

SD – I am currently working on a thriller that is a dark twist to the Peter Pan story.

IDI – What works for you?  Give us a rundown of your ‘writing process’ from beginning to finished product.

SD – Once I have an idea, it is time to create a chapter outline of the book.  I listen to the film score channel on Pandora and figure out the main events of the story as well as filling in the blanks.  I look at the book as a season of a television show and chapters as the episodes.  When I am ready to write, I do not bother with names of characters and locations.  For example, in “Nightmare Lane” I wrote ‘vampdaughter’  for Iris.  I do not worry about errors, I just write.  Once I am done, it is time to edit.  I read and edit seven times before having two people read it before publishing the book.  If you could afford it, this is the stage where you would want to hire a professional to edit before publishing the book.

IDI – What is the hardest or most frustrating aspect of writing?  Ideas, getting started, writer’s block, re-writing?

SD – I believe that the hardest aspect of writing is the editing phase.  It requires much patience during this process.  The anticipation of wanting to sell it after writing will drive you crazy.  Even if you have hired a professional, you still have to read it.  I read and edit my book front to back seven times before publishing it, which took a little over a month to do.

IDI – Who’s your target audience? What aspect of your writing do you feel targets that audience?

SD – I imagine my target audience as the audience of movie theatre.  I will have fans of all kinds, some who will love my romance novels to others who will crave my science fiction books.  I want to write for all genres and have my books spread out in a bookstore.

IDI – Everyone has visions of where they see themselves in the future, be it a year or five. Where do you see yourself in five years?

SD – I see myself taking the way we read and listen to books to a whole other level.  Visit my website in the near future for more information on a big project I am organizing. ( www.StevenDanielBooks.com )

IDI – What sparked the idea for Nightmare Lane?

Nightmare Lane

Nightmare Lane

SD – One night I had watched the animated film, “Hotel Transylvania,” and a comedian on instant Netflix afterwards.  The comedian, who was from South Africa, mentioned how he had seen a commercial for starving children in Africa.  He explained how confused he was.  Wondering where in Africa is this happening.  That sparked an idea for a story regarding perception.  I started thinking what if all the monsters, creatures, and entities that give us nightmares, are individuals who try to live regular lives like us.  That is how Nightmare Lane came to be.

IDI – What do you do when you’re not writing?

SD – When I am not writing, I am spending time with my wife and two children, watching movies and television shows, looking for funny YouTube videos, playing video games, reading the works of self-published authors, 3d modeling, and window shopping.

IDI – Define a great book.

SD – You know when you have read a great book when you find yourself convincing a non-reader to read it.

IDI – What advice would you give to new/unpublished authors?

SD – Keep writing and find what motivates you to avoid distractions.  One completed project beats a million ideas.

IDI – Thanks again for joining me and I wish you continued success in all of your writing endeavors!

 

* Steven Daniel is an author of all genres.  He has recently released a fiction novel, “Nightmare Lane.” He is a military spouse and when not getting lost in the crazy world of his, he is with his beautiful wife exploring their new city.  Visit Steven Daniel at www.StevenDanielBooks.com.

 

Ink Drop Interviews are conducted by Kathy Reinhart, award-winning author of The Red Strokes, Lily White Lies, and Missouri in a Suitcase, written under the pen name, Nova Scott.

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The Red Strokes

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Martin Hill

I’ve been side-stepping interviews a bit recently in order to bring you articles of interest, but this week, I’m back at it and I have a wonderful guest.

Please help me to welcome Martin Hill, author of ‘Empty Places’, ‘The Killing Depths’, and ‘Duty’.

IDI – Martin, when did you have your Eureka moment? When did know that you were born to be a writer?

Hill Photo SM

Martin Roy Hill

MH – I came to that conclusion in high school. An English teacher enjoyed my essays and encouraged me to write. I joined the school newspaper, started studying journalism, and started writing short stories and sending them out to publishers. It was years — no, decades — before I sold one, though I did sell a Humor in Uniform snippet to Reader’s Digest when I was 19. That was my first professionally published piece.

IDI – Believe it or not, the humor sections of Reader’s Digest have always been my favorite! Tell us, within your writing, what are you the most passionate about? What is it that keeps the fire burning?

MH – I enjoy the act of writing. I feel dread each time I sit down to write, consumed by all those insecurities that every writer probably fears. Can I pull this off? Who am I to think I can write a book? Will anyone buy it? But when I finally get into the act of writing, it’s wonderful. When it’s going really good and the words are following, it’s like a high. That’s what keeps me going.

 IDI – Something every writer is asked to the point of exhaustion – where do you get your ideas?

MH – I get ideas from reading newspapers and magazines, and asking “What if?” The idea for The Killing Depths came about when I read several articles about men and women serving together in the first Gulf War and Bosnia. I started wondering, “What if men and women served together in something as confined as a submarine?” Then I thought, “What if someone didn’t like the idea of men and women serving together?” Finally, I thought, “What if that someone was a serial killer?”

Eden, on the other hand, was conceived after reading an article that said recent satellite imagery may have confirmed the location of the Biblical Eden in Iraq. I started thinking, “What if American GIs stumbled on proof of Eden? What would they find?”

IDI – What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt maybe to tickle our taste buds?

MH – My next book is in production and should be out in the fall of this year. It’s a sci-fi novella called Eden, about a group of American soldiers in Iraq who stumble onto an ancient secret about the origins of mankind.

I am also in the process of writing a sequel to my first novel, The Killing Depths, featuring NCIS special agent Linus Schag. Schag made his first debut in a short story published by Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, and The Killing Depths has been selling very well. In the sequel, Schag has to try to stop a good friend and fellow agent who has gone rogue.

IDI – When people say ‘why do you write’, I reply ‘I’m either creative, or a pathological liar. I haven’t decided yet’, just for shock value. Actually, I think (in part) that writing is almost like being schizophrenic, but without the personalities coming out verbally. Seriously, we ‘become’ the people we write, at least for a time. We have to feel what they feel, think what they think, and know what they know… so how can we not ‘be’ them? Agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts?

MH – Oh, I definitely agree we become our characters sometimes. And sometimes our characters take on a little of us. I often lie in bed at night and think through scenes and, suddenly, I’m in the story, sort of as if I were dreaming the scene. I think we become our characters even more when writing in the first person narrative. When you write in the first person, you have to sort of get into character the same way an actor would before a play. That happened with me with my latest novel, Empty Places, and my novella, Eden, both of which are first person narratives.

IDI – Everyone has their own dream. What’s yours… best seller, feature film adaption, fame, riches, Oprah, Pulitzer?

MH – To be honest, I’m too old and too cynical to have dreams anymore. I have enough awards from my journalism career to cover three walls in my home, but they don’t mean very much to me anymore. I just want to write books people will buy, read, and enjoy.

IDI – Online cafés or writers groups (aside from social networking). Do you belong to any and if so, help or harm?

MH – I really have no opinion on writers groups or forums. I haven’t belonged to a writers group since college. I know many writers who swear by them, and that’s great. But I have so little time to write that I can’t spare it going to meetings or whatnot. I do, however, have a small knot of author around the world that I keep in touch with, and we provide each other with a mutually supportive network.

IDI – Which is it, a laptop or desktop computer for writing?

MH – I actually do most of my writing on a Kindle Fire HD tablet. I carry it and a small Bluetooth keyboard in my backpack wherever I go. When I get a chance, I bring them out and pound out a few lines.

IDI – I envy  you. I use a 23″ screen for my heavy writing and still have trouble with blurred letters from time to time. Tell me, i your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions new authors have about the publishing industry?

MH – I think it’s the idea that writers get rich and famous. I recently read David Morrell’s excellent book on writing, The Successful Novelist. He points out that only a handful of novelists can support themselves on their writing alone, let alone get wealthy. It took Morrell decades to get to the point he could support his family on writing alone — and this is the guy whose first novel created the character Rambo (as in Sly Stallone’s movies) and who is considered by many to be the father of the modern thriller.

Morrell also points out that no matter how popular your books may become, most people still have no idea who you are.

IDI – That’s true. There are very few authors with ‘household names’. What’s the best advice ever given to you, and by whom?

MH – The advice came from my late father-in-law Robert Wade. Bob wrote some 40 mysteries under his own name as well as the pen names Wade Miller (with writing partner H. Billy Miller) and Whit Masterson, as well as others. He gave me a great deal of help on my book Empty Places, which I actually wrote before my first published novel, The Killing Depths. In fact, I dedicated Empty Places to him. Among the things he told was this: You’ve got to create characters that the reader will like, even the bad guys, even just a little. He also said in the end, you have to give the reader a little hope for a better world, either for the protagonist or the readers themselves. As originally written, Empty Places had a kind of downer ending. I did a major rewrite of the book after that, changing some of the characters’ motivations and creating a completely different ending.

IDI – Besides writing, what other interests do you have?

MH – I have a background in emergency and disaster response. I served 13 years of active and reserve duty in the U.S. Coast Guard doing small boat search and rescue, or SAR. I was also a medic with the local Sheriff’s wilderness SAR unit as well as with a federal Disaster Medical Assistance Team, and I currently serve on a local county disaster response team. I’m also a medical service corps officer with a small component of the California National Guard called the California State Military Reserve. I hold a national certification as a homeland security specialist, too, with an emphasis on medical response. And, until readers start buying my books by the thousands, I make my living as a Navy analyst in combat medical operations.

IDI – Wow, quite a list of credentials. It just goes to show that you never know who the writing bug will bite. Martin, I’d like to thank you for appearing on Ink Drop Interviews and wish you the very best of luck in all of your writing endeavors!

If you’d like to know more about Martin and his work, or contact him with your questions, he’d love to hear from you!

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Ink Drop Interviews are conducted by Kathy Reinhart, author of the award-winning LILY WHITE LIES, THE RED STROKES, and MISSOURI IN A SUITCASE. Keep up with books, interviews, and upcoming contests in any one of the following places:

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Write. Or your creative ink will dry up.

Write. Or your creative ink will dry up.

 

 


Arm Pit Farts – Building 3 Dimensional Characters

An older post, but today, I was in the mood to reminisce. The daughter I refer to in this post is about to give birth to her third child. I hope they all grow up to be as outgoing and genuinely kind-hearted and likeable as she is. True story, enjoy!


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