Granddaughters, Christmas Trees, and the Writing Craft

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Right after Thanksgiving my granddaughters once again helped me decorate my Christmas tree.  This experience was far more enjoyable then the first time I allowed them to help me. The girls are older, and their patience and ability have grown too. When they first started helping they were four, three and one. There were lots of clumped ornaments on the lower branches. Fights over who got to hang the pretty ones. It was a hard-fought battle of patience on my part to help them get the job done. This year frustration turned to joy as the girls work together to do a good job.

Grandaughters

I instructed them to take their time and fill in all wholes on the tree, making sure each ornament is nicely displayed. It was a delight to watch them do just that. They asked my opinion on where something should go and helped each other adjust the ornaments. Grampa remarked on how beautiful it was, which was a first. He stays far away from the fray and helps me move any ornaments in a clutter later.  And it does look lovely thanks to my talented granddaughters.

Writing Craft

Gazing at our tree I am reminded of my writing journey. I hurried to get my first novel written. In five weeks, I had 100,000 words down. My granddaughters use to grab as many ornaments as they could and place them all in one spot.

A few months of editing with a friend who wasn’t a professional editor and I thought it was an award winner. My granddaughters insisted they knew best how to decorate. They got mad if I correct them.

Ten years later after learning to patiently rework sentences and fill in the holes in my stories with the advice of critique partners and editors I finally had a novel that was beautiful.

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Like my grandchildren who’ve matured in their tree decorating abilities, I’ve matured in my writing craft. I continue to fix POV errors and rewrite weak paragraphs and eliminate weasel words. I’m on my fourth novel and much wiser to the time it takes to craft a saleable book that holds the reader’s interest and garners positive reviews.

Christmas Decorating

Next year the girls will be on their own. Their family will be moving into their own home and decorating a tree of their own. They have the skills to do a wonderful job. Yet they will help each other and seek their parent’s counsel as they complete the project.

As I work on my current WIP and move on to the next I’ll continue to grow in my ability to create stories. Like my Christmas tree decorations, I hope readers will consider my stories beautiful.

Don’t forget to subscribe to recievenew posts in your email.

 

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Diane Samson shares about Gems of Fire and her writing journey

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Welcome Diane E. Samson, author of Gems of Fire. It is a delight to have you with us to talk about the writing life and your debut novel. Let’s start off with you telling my readers a little about your writing journey. There are areas that  parallel mine and many authors I’ve interviewed in the past few years. So exciting to see that.

I loved reading as a young child, but the beginning of my writing journey began with reading C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia in third grade. Although I might not have understood the underlying parallels until I was older, I remember clearly thinking to myself that I wanted to make other people feel the same magic, wonder and adventure that I felt from reading those books.

I was the editor of my high school newspaper, which for high school, was a rigorous program. My teacher encouraged me to major in journalism in college, so I earned a degree in magazine journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia and began a career in that field. Though I worked in journalism, I still held close the dream that someday I’d write fiction, but at the time I’d use up all my words at work. So, I didn’t begin my fiction journey in earnest until I stayed home with my children and also worked as a freelance writer.

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I wrote Gems of Fire (working title was Finding Anna) during my children’s nap time and sometimes late at night. I finished the first draft more than ten years ago. I pursued agents and publishers at writing conferences and was even asked to submit some sample chapters to a famous editor, but in the end, no contracts came. Life got busy. We moved twice. While living in Connecticut I became friends with an incredible woman who worked for a literary agency. She was kind enough to read and edit a few chapters of my manuscript as well as coach me on my writing, including recommending several books to read and apply to my work. I spent the next year re-working my manuscript. I submitted to #Pitchwars and then to #PitMad, which led to a contract with Clean Reads. I am overjoyed to be a published author as of November 2018. A writer’s journey can be lonely, but I had a lot of help along the way.

Your story reminds us it truly takes years to get your first book out there. Thanks for encouraging us all to press on.

Now tell us about Gems of Fire.

My debut young adult fantasy is Gems of Fire, released Nov. 6, 2018. It’s about a princess overcoming fear and figuring out how she fits in her world.

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Palace of Sunderland. Paradise to the peasants. Prison to sixteen-year-old Anna, daughter of the king. She can never escape the castle’s cold walls and scorning disapproval of her father and his brute royal counsel, Seamus. She’ll always live in the shadow of her late mother the queen. Will they ever see her for who she really is?

A riding accident lands Anna in the hands of traders who sell her as a slave in distant Kasdod to none-other than her father’s enemy, Lord Anwar. After overhearing a dangerous plot to conquer Sunderland and kill the royal family, Anna must escape and warn her father, even if it means facing her greatest enemy.

With the doom looming over her, Anna is approached by a dangerous-looking man in the dark. He claims to want to help her, but can she trust him with her secrets? The perils of the journey ahead will push Anna to the limit and answer the one question that has always plagued her. Will she ever be enough?

Anna’s adventures continue in the next book in the series, Valley of Bones, which I’m still writing. I’ve especially enjoyed plotting all three books and am excited to see where Anna’s journey has taken me.

 

Sounds exciting. Your cover is stunning.

 How did you research for your fanatasy world?

Part of Gems of Fire’s fantasy world is loosely based on a medieval European culture, but Morocco serves as the loose setting for the desert scenes. I also researched weapons, sword fighting, armor, moon phases, approximate distance one could travel in a day on horseback and other details. Though it’s set in a fantasy world, I wanted to the details to feel authentic.

I love when fantasy authors research real time things and add them to their stories.

What inspired you to write your book?

The inspiration to write has always percolated in the back of my mind. I was often plotting stories in my head. Specifically for Gems of Fire, when I transitioned from a working woman to stay-at-home mom, I sometimes felt like I was locked in Anna’s room with her. Though I loved being at home with my children, writing was a much-needed creative escape for me.

I can never answer this question without referencing not only Narnia, the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, but others such as Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, the City of Ember, Graceling series, Throne of Glass series, and the incredible, wonderful Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima, which begins with The Demon King.

Writers write what they know as well as what they love. Clearly you love fantasy. As an avid reader of the genre you can craft a compelling story. Love it.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

It’s hard to just have one favorite verse. Proverbs 3:5-6 is always a comfort, while Romans 8 continues to be one of my favorite chapters. A passage that resonated with me while revising Gems of Fire and now writing the next two in the series is Psalm 18:30-36.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

I would invest in a mentor early on. I had learned what I could about writing, but until someone sat down with me and showed me how to apply writing principles specifically to my own work, I got stuck at a certain level.

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

Writers need to be self-starters, but we also need community. Right now, my community is mostly online, but I have been part of a writers’ group in the past.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

I almost always read young adult fantasy with romance subplots. Can’t get enough!

I am not surprised. 😊

 Where is your favorite place to write?

I enjoy writing in a quiet place, in view of nature. Our home backs to a small lake, so it’s a perfect setting. I’m not a coffee-shop writer because I get too distracted.

What a wonderful setting. Thanks so much for being with us today. Readers, continue scrolling to learn more about Diana and a chance to win a copy of Gems of Fire.

 

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Don’t you just want to open this cover and read. Check out the order links below.

 

More about Diane:

Diane E. Samson is the author of Gems of Fire. She was lucky enough to grow up on acreage just north of Kansas City, Missouri, with horses and dogs in the backyard. When she wasn’t dreaming of Narnia, she was outside riding her horse, training her dog or spending time swimming at the lake. Her love of words led her to earn a degree in magazine journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She subsequently worked as a reporter, editor and in public relations. After moving around the country, she has returned to the Kansas City area where she lives with her husband, children and dog. She will never be without a golden retriever.

Visit Diane on social media:

Website: http://www.dianesamsonauthor.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/diane_samson

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dianesamsonauthor/

Order Gems of Fire :

Amazon order link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07JWB434F

Barnes and Noble order link: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/gems-of-fire-diane-samson/1129907813

Giveaway!

Diane is giving away an e-book or signed paperback version of Gems of Fire to one lucky winner. Sign up for her newsletter following the link below for a chance to win. Winners outside the US will be sent an e-book copy only.  Drawing will be December 15th.

Diane’s newsletter gives you exclusive updates, new release info and author news https://mailchi.mp/737d6fa20356/authordianesamson

 

 

 

When Writing Gets Scary

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Writing can be scary. Anyone who has never written for publication may feel I’m exaggerating.  But the fears are real. I’ll only speak from my own experience. There has not been a time when I wasn’t at least a little concerned about my words as I craft or submit them. The longer I work at this creative craft of writing the scarier it can become.

At first, I fought fear:

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  1. When I sat down to write wondering if it’s any good.
  2. Sharing my work with others.
  3. Having my work critiqued
  4. Pitching it at conferences
  5. Sending out manuscripts to agents, editors and publishers
  6. Receiving Rejections
  7. Receiving a call saying a contract is on the way
  8. Working though the publication process
  9. Marketing that book
  10. Writing the next book

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Now I only get scared when:

  1. I begin a new book
  2. Pitch a new idea
  3. Complete my Manuscript
  4. Receive an email request for my manuscript
  5. Get a rejection
  6. Get the call of acceptance
  7. Get a call from an editor to write in a novella collection
  8. Write the novella
  9. While finishing a requested manuscript
  10. I wonder if my readers will love it

And at times I feel the fear more intently because I know how much work is involved in getting the story out into the marketplace. Each new cover gives me a feeling of joy and dread. Will the readers like it? Is it my best work? Will sales be good enough to get me noticed so I can continue to do what I love.

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For me all through this scary journey as an author I have recalled the verse: “Whenever I am afraid I will trust in You.” And mant other passages draw me out of my fear. My faith keeps me focused and brings peace amid the stormy times. Reflecting on God’s Word is my calming place. Those powerful words written by the Author of the Universe remind me who is in control of my life and I need not be afraid.

What is the scariest part of the writer’s life for you? What calms your fears ?

A Visit with My Favorite Novella Author Pegg Thomas

Illinois is having it’s first significant snowfall. This is a great time to cozy up with a good book. If you’ve never read a novella collection this is the perfect time to do it.  Each story can be read in a matter of hours. It’s the ideal companion with a hot beverage and a blanket. Today’s guests is one of my favorite novella writers,Pegg Thomas. I want ot pick her brain a bit about her newest project, The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection. Welcome Pegg.

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Pegg Thomas and Kathy Rouser at a booksigning. If you’ve been followng me you read Kathy’s story a few weeks ago.

 

Pegg, you’ve been in several Barbour novella collections. I think I’ve read them all by the way. Why write in a novella collection?

I’ve written for four Barbour novellas so far, and have a couple more proposals out to them. I didn’t actually set out to write novellas, I more or less fell into the first one. I prefer to read full-length books myself, so these never crossed my radar until God put one right in my path. He has a way of doing those things. And thank you for being a reader!

How popular are they?

I wish I knew. I know the current release, The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides, has been on Amazon’s top 100 for collections and anthologies off and on for the past few weeks, even before it released. But I don’t get any stats from the publisher as to what’s selling off the shelves in other outlets.

 

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I enjoyed this collection so much. Not being from Michigan I loved visiting the lighthouses through these stories. I discovred some new authors to follow.

 

Tell us about The Great Lakes Lighthouse Bride Collection.

This collection is my “baby.” I wanted to showcase our Great Lakes, and so I came up with the idea, contacted the other authors, and put the proposal together. Many people told me that Barbour would only take prairie romances, but I wanted to try and the rest. . .as they say. . .is now history.

How did you come up with the idea? 

I was born in Michigan and have lived here almost my entire life. I love everything Great Lakes. Our historical lighthouses, many of which are open to the public in the summer months, have always held a special place in my heart. And really, is there a more romantic setting than a lighthouse on some distant shore? I think not.

What was it like to be in charge of the production?

Nerve-wracking. I’ve always been a take-charge, get-er-done kind of person, but suddenly I had six other authors depending on me doing a good job of selling this proposal to Barbour’s publication board. Yeah. That was a bit unnerving.

How did you choose your authors?

As with any collection, you want to put together the best authors you can. I started with authors who had some connection with the Great Lakes. My agent asked me to try to field the authors from our agency, which eliminated a couple I would have liked in the project, but I think we did wind up with a very strong cast of authors. I’m particularly happy that Candice Patterson is onboard with this project. Candice and I have been critique partners for more than six years, and she’s an awesome writer. I just had to convince her to take a stab at writing historical. She did a great job with it.

Other than the lighthouses was there any other connection between the stories?

When I contacted the authors, I left it up to them where they wanted to set their stories. We have five Great Lakes and they touch two countries and eight states. Everyone “claimed” their lighthouse so we didn’t wind up with two stories set at the same place. Our stories include three of the lakes, Michigan, Superior, and Huron, and each one is set in Michigan. That was totally by chance, not design, but of course being my home state, I love it. Since lighthouses were put where they are for a reason—dangerous areas to navigate—of course there are some shipwrecks in the stories too.

As with each of my releases, I’m giving away one of my signature handspun, handknit wool shawls. This shawl is called Beacon on the Bay in honor of our lighthouse stories. The only way to get into the drawing is to subscribe to my newsletter. The drawing will be November 30th.

 

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Here is the shawl she’s giving away. Beacon on the Bay was not only knitted by Pegg, she spun the yarn from her own sheeps. She’s a eral pioneer woman.

 

About Pegg:

Pegg Thomas lives on a hobby farm in Northern Michigan with Michael, her husband of *mumble* years. They raise sheep and chickens, keep a few barn cats, and Murphy the spoiled rotten dog. A life-long history geek, she writes “History with a Touch of Humor.” Pegg is published in the Barbour historical romance collections. Pegg also works as Managing Editor of Smitten Historical Romance, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. When not working or writing, she can be found in her barn, her garden, her kitchen, or sitting at her spinning wheel creating yarn to turn into her signature wool shawls.

 

Links:

Facebook 

Twitter

Goodreads

Pinterest

Google+

PeggThomas.com

Amazon

ColonialQuills

Stitches Thru Time

Before I go I promised to post the winner of Normandie Fischer’s newest novel  The Sea Prayers  in ebook today. The winner is cydnotter. Cydnotter please contact me at cindyhuff11 (at)gmail(dot)com to claim your prize.

If you stumbled across my blog this week and enjoyed it. I’d love to have you subscribe so you don’t miss fun interviews like this and other writerly stuff.

An interview with Normandie Fischer and a Release Day Giveaway

Welcome, Normandie. I love your novels centered around sailing. Excited about your newest one  The Sea Prayers releasing today. I just got my preordered copy today. So excited. Before we talk about your novel let’s talk about your writing journey.

Author N Fischer

My brilliant eighth-grade English teacher inspired me to write poetry, and that poetic voice carried me through the turbulent teen years and all that came next in a life filled with messy moments. In my mid-twenties, I was hired as a proofreader and moved from that to copy editor and finally to senior substantive editor for a publishing company in Washington, DC—excellent for honing my skills in non-fiction and narrative non-fiction. It wasn’t until my early thirties that I decided to try writing fiction as a creative outlet. I’d been sculpting (mostly commissioned portraits by then), but I wanted more, and writing what I loved to read seemed to fill that need.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to go from paring a manuscript to bare bones for a technical tome to enlarging those spare words to create a fictional world? I read every how-to book published by Writers Digest Books, and I wrote, slashed, added, rewrote, and learned.

My first foray into crafting a full-length novel brought accolades, a contest win, and my first agent, but no publishing contract. So I wrote another manuscript and another and another. By now I had a second agent to whom I submitted manuscripts from on board our boat, Sea Venture. I was having so much fun sailing the Sea of Cortez that I didn’t push very hard for greater success; I just wrote and rewrote in gorgeous settings.

By 2011, my husband and I had to return home to NC to care for my aging mama. My life as a published author began with the sale of my debut novel, Becalmed, (which happened to be my third manuscript) and its release in 2013. Now I write from the Carolina coast, which is spectacular in its own way, and instead of dodging hurricanes by sailing to a safe port, we dodge by driving to a safe haven.

What a wonderful adventure you’ve had. Now let’s tak about your latest publishing project?

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The Sea Prayers!

Release date Today!

A waitress, a megastar, and an ex-addict wage war for the heart of a young girl.

Thirteen years ago, a spiked drink left Agnes with a permanent reminder of the man who date-raped her.

Her daughter looks like him, sounds like him, and even listens to his platinum records (of course, the dude’s a mega star because nothing is fair) but Brisa is everything Agnes has in the world. At least, she is until the day this music star sets his sights on getting himself a ready-made family.

He’s got millions of dollars, millions of fans, a high-powered legal team, and half Brisa’s DNA. Agnes has a run-down house, a friend who’s almost three years sober and afraid to say he loves her, and a lawyer willing to work pro bono.

Oh, and the whole town of Beaufort. That’s right. She’s got all those Beaufort folk at her back, praying to the God she has rejected, and not one of them is going to let Brisa go without a fight.

Another story of faith and redemption from the author of Sailing out of Darkness.

What inspired you to write The Sea Prayers?

Characters show up in my head, hinting at a story through snippets of dialogue or a line of narrative. For The Sea Prayers, it was this one: “How had her accidental sperm donor—or, to be more precise, her rapist sperm planter—found her?”

I couldn’t wait to find out more. Think of the questions those words generate.

Who was raped? What was she like at the time of the rape—and now?

What made her vulnerable?

Who raped her? What happened to him?

Were there consequences for her? How does she deal with them?

What happens?

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice to tour younger self about writing, what would it be?

You don’t have to aspire to be someone else’s idea of great; you have to aspire to be the best you possible. Don’t put off beginning the process just because you imagine you’re better at something else and don’t ever let rejection hit a pause button in your head.

What’s next after The Sea prayers.

In what I imagine will be the final Carolina Coast story, my WIP, Shoal Waters, revolves around a woman who discovers that her memory is failing—and who tries to protect herself while she still can from her manipulative and very unhappy daughter. (I’m also working on a third Isaac’s House novel, just to keep my hand in the world of romantic suspense.)

What genre do you read for fun?

I require happy endings—or at least hopeful ones—in the books I enjoy. My attention was caught early on by comedy of manners authors such as Jane Austen and Balzac in translation, then by the humorous books of Georgette Heyer. But I read prolifically, which means I’m open to many genres if the books are well written (excepting futuristic, vampire, or erotica). Currently, my very favorite author is Charles Martin, who just writes good books.

More about Normandie:

A life-long sailor, Normandie Fischer has been writing and editing professionally since the seventies. She and her husband retired from cruising Pacific Mexico in their ketch, Sea Venture, to care for her aging mother. In 2013, the three of them sailed from Beaufort, NC, to NYC to publicize Becalmed and to welcome Normandie’s first grandchild, Ella, into the world. The Sea Prayers is Normandie’s seventh book, and number five among the Carolina Coast novels.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

My Website:

www.normandiefischer.com

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

Amazon Author:  https://www.amazon.com/author/normandiefischer/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WritingOnBoard/

Buy Links:

Carolina Coast Novels:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07H5PYJSW/

Isaac’s House Novels:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MYV8IHQ/

The Sea Prayers

https://amzn.to/2wFSa5X

https://www.books2read.com/u/m0geDl

Thanks for sharing Normandie. Now for your giveaway. Comment on this post for a chance to win an e-book copy of The Sea Prayer.  Tell me what part of her interview inspires you and/or if you sail.  Winner will announced next Tuesday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips for Participating in Novella Collections

Today I’m reblogging Linda Yezak’s post on novella collections This is more helpful information for those who have wondered about participating in a collection. writing novellas is a different skill set than writing a novel. Linda is a master at both. She and I will be part of a collection in 2019. Looking forward to sharing the stage. Take it away Linda. Thanks for letting me reblog your great information.

Linda W. Yezak

The newly publishedA Southern Season is the third novella collection I’ve participated in, the first that was traditionally published, and I can tell you—I love writing novellas and being in collections.

As I’ve mentioned before, I use these novellas to play in genres I don’t usually get to write in—in other words, I play outside my brand. Is that smart? Well, let’s consider that, among several other things about participating in collections.

The Pros and Cons of Participating in Collections

As with anything else in this business, there are good points and bad…

Pros

  • Increased visibility and opportunity to expand your audience:

Most collections have an “anchor” author, a more established writer who is likely to bring in readers. People buy the collection based on that person’s name alone and will often (but not always, sad to say) read and appreciate any new-to-them names in the collection.

  • The…

View original post 1,247 more words

A Successful Author Fair

 

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Here I am at White Oak Author Fair in Crest Hill Illinios. Note I didn’t bring a lot of books because sales is not the focus.  This library treated the authors well, even provided lunch.

 

How to get the most out of Author Fairs

In case you haven’t guessed Library Author Fairs are not to sell books. Which is why I am very selective about the ones I attend. That is a day of my life I can’t get back, so I try to choose wisely. A well-run fair like the one I attended recently, can be of benefit to you as an author.

Let me list the ways

  1. Exposure

Smile and chat with readers who walk by. Have lots of bookmarks and other swag available for passersby to take. Invite FB friends and family to stop by.

  1. Grow your email addresses

I offered a chance to win a $10 Amazon card for signing up for my e-newsletter.  I got more names then I sold books. Those I hope to convert to fans as they receive my monthly e-newsletter.

 

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Author Mary Lynette More stopped by and agreed to guest on my blog

 

  1. Networking

I love to interview authors for this blog. I found some interesting ones to add to my calendar. Fairs are a time to share information such as advertising tips, best places to have book signings and find other serious writers to form writer’s groups or just hang out with. I make it a point to do something for other authors if I can, you never know when a connection will be advantage in the future.

  1. Donate your books

Check first to be sure your book will be displayed on a shelf rather than sold. Having your book on a local library shelf is huge. That donation is tax deductible by the way.

  1. Sell books

Yes, you may or may not sell any books. The average is 1-5. The co-authors at the table next to me sold out because family members and friends of one of the authors made it a point to come to the event. (refer to tip #1)

 

Writers what has  been your experience at Author Fairs ?

Readers why do you attend author fairs?

Don’t forget to subscribe before you leave if you want to recieve author interviews and other writerly things in your email.