Why I Set My Novel in My Hometown

 

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Aurora, Illinois has the Fox River flowing through downtown

 

 

The idea for New Duet ruminated in my mind for a while before I chose a setting. During that time, my husband and I went to a First Friday celebration. (Aurora, Illinois has fun events downtown every first Friday during the summer, starting in May and runs until September.)  The theme for that Friday was spotlighting local artists.

 

My husband and I walk around downtown visiting art galleries and stores, bars and restaurants that featured artists and photographers’ offerings from Aurora and surrounding areas.

 

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Isabell Wilson is inspired by this sculpted water fountain called The Dancing Stones

 

When we visited some artist’s studios, I knew my characters would meet in Aurora. Isabella has an art degree from a Chicago art school and yet, she married a music minister and never create art again.

Isabella needs to rebuild her life after her husband’s untimely death. Resurrecting her art muse in a city that supports the arts was a perfect plot twist.

 

Aurora has a diverse ethnic population of over 200,000. Museums, fun restaurants and the beautiful Fox River gave me scene settings—not to mention possible date opportunities in Chicago, 70 minutes to the lake shore by car. The local college and wonderful local architecture play a part in my story.

 

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The Paramont Theater a great place to see Broadway quality productions

 

The biggest challenge for me is I’m directionally challenged. My sweet hubby double-checked all my physical references and made sure they were on the correct street and my characters were headed in the right direction.

An extra bonus to placing my setting in Aurora are local book signings. I’ll be signing books at If These Walls Could Talk this summer.  This lovely framing store is also a gallery for local artists to display their work.

 

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If These Wall Could Talk Framing and Gallery

 

A wonderful scene in New Duet takes place in that shop. The co-owner and gallery manager, Jennifer Rauch was happy to feature me on…drum roll… First Friday in August. What a great cycle of creativity.

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Buy Link Click here

If any of you are in the Aurora area the First Friday in August come by and say hello. I’ll be sharing more behind the scenes things from New Duet in future posts. Don’t miss out. Subscribe.

 

 

 

 

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A Visit with Meghan Kelly Audiobook Narrator

Meghan Kelly hsI am so excited to welcome the narrator of my audio version of Secrets and Charades to Jubilee Writer. I had a great time working with Meghan Kelly. She is a wonderful professional. I thought it would be fun and interesting for all of you to get a behind the scenes look at the creation of an audiobook and the life of a narrator.

  • How long have you been recording Audio books? And how did you get started?

I started doing audiobooks almost 5 years ago.  I had been doing Voice over work for several years and was always a voracious reader so when I came across the platform ACX I was thrilled.  And also hooked!  I was lucky enough to get work immediately and I haven’t stopped!

  • How long does it take to record a book?

It’s much more time consuming than most people think.  You can’t just walk into the booth and give a perfect read…unfortunately that just doesn’t happen.  Each finished hour of audio takes approximately 6 hours to produce.  That includes initial read, prep, recording, editing, proofing, pacing and mastering.

  • What’s your favorite genre to record?

I love Love LOVE Historical Romance!  I do a lot of Romance in general but I have a soft spot for Historical fiction.  My Mom loved it and I think that’s where I got it from.

  • How do you find your projects?

I work primarily through ACX and submit auditions to projects I’m interested in.  I also work with a few of the smaller publishing houses.  Although I’m working toward transitioning to the bigger ones.  With over 200+ audiobooks under my belt I think I feel ready!

  • Do you need special equipment?

Yes, I have a custom home studio at home that my wonderful husband built.

  • Walk us through a typical recording day.

I do most of my promotional work, answer emails, read auditions in the mornings.  Then I record usually everyday from 12-5 and edit in the evenings (if I have not been fortunate enough to be able to bring on an editor).

  • How is a narrator compensated for their work?

With ACX I do a mix of Royalty Share books and Per Finished hour projects (paid for work no royalties).  Publishing houses are straight PFH projects. 

  • What is the most difficult part about your job?

Lack of promotion and support on the sales of RS audiobooks.

  • Tell us what lead you to embraced audiobook narration.

I was that girl in HS who was totally into Drama and Choir.  I was lucky enough to sing at every function (shows, concerts, games, graduation) and then I went off to college to study musical theatre and Opera.  The Opera part was a mistake…I wasn’t as suited as I thought.  I did not fare well in competition. I also was not getting the acting roles I had always been able to get back home.

 Crushed, I switched schools and majors and didn’t sing again for 12 years.  After college I still wanted to work in the Entertainment business some how…so I moved to NYC and managed to get a job in Casting/Talent Agenting.  

After 2 years there I moved back to Detroit area and became a Franchised Talent Agent for 6 years.  That’s when I fell in love with Voice Over work.  Burning out from the hard work of a talent agent. And being requested by clients to audition for commercials, industrial work etc.  I gave it a shot and did pretty well.  Also, from the urging of a very dear friend I auditioned for ONE Rock band on a NYE resolution and got it which lead me to singing in bars, restaurants and festivals for 15 years.  

  • I have to know why you auditioned to narrate Secrets & Charades?

Because I LOVE Historical Romance and the Book cover was beautiful!  Once I read the book and realized how talented you are I was absolutely Thrilled!!

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Well, I’m blushing. Thank you do much for a peek into your world, Meghan.

My audiobook is available  on Amazon audibles  and iTunes. Those who prefer disks can find those on Amazon as well.  Meghan Kelly does great work and I’m honored she chose my novel to audition for and I’m glad I chose her.  If you love to listen to audios, grab a copy. There’s a free sample to listen too. You’ll be hooked.

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Announcing My New Baby : New Duet

My new baby, contemporary romance, New Duet arrived May 1st on Amazon in e-book format. It already has 5-star reviews. Check out the wonderful cover.

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Here is the back-cover blurb.

Isabella Melinda Wilson has been squeezed into the music ministry model of her controlling husband’s making. Before she can leave him, he leaves her a guilt ridden widow. Her mother-in-law is no comfort and presses the guilt button at every turn. Isabella flees to her sister’s home in Aurora Illinois insearch of her own identity and a new beginning.

Dan Sweeney has one goal. Be as normal as possible. After losing a leg, some fingers and his self-worth, he needs his service dog Brutus to help keep his PTSD at bay. Career-less and clueless about the future, he struggles to put his life back together.

Isabella isn’t looking for a new relationship and Dan feels unworthy of one. Can these two broken people heal into one whole love?

Here’s the buy link for the e-book.

Paperback coming soon.

Why I wrote a contemporary romance

Writing a contemporary romance after writing a Historical romance was a challenge but so much fun. An editor at a conference asked me why I wrote a contemporary after writing a historican. I told him the  characters called to me. I had to write this story.

The struggles these characters face is in part things people I love have gone through. But the lessons they learn about life and faith are mine.

Stay tuned for some fun upcoming blogs. I’ll be talking about New Duet’s setting. And interviewing Isabella and Dan.

I hope if your purchase New Duet you will leave a review. That would be wonderful.

If you’d like to keep tabs on my upcoming babies, read other author interviews and learn writerly things please sign up to receive this blog so you don’t miss a thing.

 

 

 

Catherine Brakefield shares her writing journey

 

Cathy holding Destiny's Whirlwind Never, never give up! I am living my dream-come-true in my Destiny saga! Swept into Destiny was published in May 2017, and this is Destiny’s Whirlwind debut! Destiny of Heart is scheduled for late 2018, with Waltz with Destiny for spring of 2019.

Looking back, I can see the hand of God orchestrating the events leading up to this Destiny saga, and the people who helped make my dream come true.

 

I grew up with free technical apparatuses: black and white television set, no computers, no internet, and, would you believe—no cell phones. If I wanted three dimensional characters, I read a book. The rhyming sonnet of words and flowing musical notes of the written language captivated me, but I never dreamt I’d become a writer!

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I entered the job force after high school and went to night-school for college, focusing on business. I acquired a secretarial position and worked my way up the corporate ladder to purchasing director. Meanwhile, I wrote stories. I was an avid Jesus follower. I never missed Billy Graham on television.

I married a wonderful man. Then three years later, became pregnant. While reading Decision Magazine one day, I noted a writing competition. I entered and won a trip to the Billy Graham headquarters, which was then in Minneapolis, MN., for the Billy Graham School for Christian Writers. My daughter was born four months later. I left my job to be a stay-at-home mom, planning to write the great American novel!

Then my grandmother came to live with us. Gran had severe rheumatoid arthritis. Later, she had a stroke, shingles, an amputation, and another stroke. My writing took a detour into the inner recesses of my file cabinet. Baby bottles, diapers, special care for Gran, and doctor visits took over.

Little did I know I was now enrolled in God’s School of Christian Learning. From those twelve years Gran lived with my family, the inspiration of this Destiny saga evolved, and the idea of writing a faith-based epic historical romance formed.

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Beginning in the Antebellum Era this four book saga transports readers into the Civil War, Gibson Era, Spanish-American War, World War I, Great Depression, the Big Band Era, and through World War II.

My books did not arrive without conflict. I would often pray, arguing with God! I wanted my characters to be the perfect individuals like I wanted in myself, my husband, and my children. God let me know—that was not His plan.

Take courage! We serve an awesome God who carries my imperfect characters through their mishaps into a heart-wrenching climax!

What has been the outcome so far for Destiny’s Whirlwind?

Some of my readers have bought more than one book. One reader, when purchasing Destiny’s Whirlwind told me that her teenage son is reading Swept into Destiny for his history and literature class. She asked me if my publisher would consider making two different covers. Her teenager wanted to take it with him to class,but didn’t want to carry around a book that had a girl on the cover.

My readers are as diverse as my characters. And come back each time for my next book, like my Amish friend.

I am blessed by my publisher, Tamara Clymer; editor, Debra L. Butterfield; and agent, Cyle Young who have stood by me in this adventure to do God’s will. Yes, my characters are flawed, some more than others. I obeyed God and by writing of my characters’ constant failures, I witnessed—the love of an unfailing God!

  Destiny’s Whirlwind, Book 2: Bound by her words… Collina McConnell promises her dying father to uphold the legacy of their Kentucky estate. Rough Rider Franklin Long offers his help. War is declared and he leaves for Cuba. He holds the key to her heart, but will he return? As Collina fights to keep her promise to her father, the words of Esther 8:6 ring in her thoughts. “How can I endure to see the evil that will come to my people?” https://www.amazon.com/Destinys-Whirlwind-Destiny-Book-2-ebook/dp/B07C6NSCSZ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1524488271&sr=8-2&keywords=catherine+ulrich+brakefield

Swept into Destiny Book 1: One brave decision leads to serious consequences. Maggie Gatlan is secretly educating the slaves at Spirit Wind Manor when she meets Ben McConnell, an Irish immigrant. Civil War erupts and Maggie must choose. Does she care more for Ben or for her beloved South? https://www.amazon.com/Swept-Destiny-Catherine-Ulrich-Brakefield-ebook/dp/B0719RRHXG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1524488327&sr=8-1&keywords=catherine+ulrich+brakefield

 

Wilted Dandelions The story begins in 1837. Rachael Rothburn is a high-spirited woman who feels she doesn’t need a husband. She wants to become a missionary and travel out west to share the salvation message with Native Americans. Jonathan Wheaton desires the same. They agree on a marriage of convenience and in the process of co-existing, they discover God doesn’t create coincidences—He designs possibilities. https://www.amazon.com/Wilted-Dandelions-Catherine-Ulrich-Brakefield-ebook/dp/B01349SZKA/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1524488327&sr=8-4&keywords=catherine+ulrich+brakefield

Bio:

Catherine says, “My readers inspire my writing!”

Catherine is an award-winning author of faith-based historical romance Wilted Dandelions. Her new Destiny series begins with Swept into Destiny. The second of her four-book Destiny series Destiny’s Whirlwind has just been released.

She has written two pictorial history books: Images of America: The Lapeer Area, and Images of America: Eastern Lapeer County.

Her short stories have been published in Guidepost Books True Stories of Extraordinary Answers to Prayer,  Unexpected Answers and Desires of Your Heart; Baker Books, Revell, The Dog Next Door, Horse of my Heart, and Dogs/Rescue scheduled for October, 2018 publication; CrossRiver Media Publishers, The Benefit Package and Abba’s Promise; Bethany House Publishers, Jesus Talked to me Today.

Catherine Brakefield

She is a longtime Michigan resident; she enjoys horseback riding, swimming, traveling the byroads across America, and spoiling her two handsome grandsons and two beautiful granddaughters! She lives with her husband of 45 years and their Arabian horses in the picturesque hills of Addison Township.  Visit her at CatherineUlrichBrakefield.com; Facebook.com/CatherineUlrichBrakefield; and her blog; Hopes, Hearts and Hoofbeats.

www.CatherineUlrichBrakefield.com

Download a free bonus chapter from my publisher, CrossRiver Media.

Blog:  www.Hopes,HeartsandHoofbeats

Author Facebook:  www.Facebook.com/CatherineUlrichBrakefield

Twitter: www.cubrakefield.com

Linkedln:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/catherine-brakefield-4710b315/

I very much enjoy Catherine’s books and look forward to the next installment. 

If you love learning about authors journeys and other writerly stuff please subscribe. You’ll receive the latest blog post in your email.

Reflecting on a weekend writer’s retreat

How about a mini-conference?

This past weekend was my local Word Weavers’ retreat, titled Cultivate. Attendees got a taste of what a writer’s conference is like without taking a week off or spending a lot of money.

Everyone left at the end of the sessions rejuvenated and encouraged.

 

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Erin Curtis, President of Word Weavers, Aurora,IL chapter gives opening address.

 

Writers are a lonely breed because other people don’t understand us. We wonder sometimes if this writing journey is worth it. But get a group of us together and we come to life.

No one thinks our love of words is peculiar. We discuss our characters and plots like they are real people and events. Friendships are renewed, and new ones forged.

Add a couple of workshops with Ginger Kolbaba and Rowena Kuo then finish with a critique session, and you’ve got a day of inspiration to recharge the wordsmith in all of us.

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Ginger Kolbaba. Author and Speaker shared her expertise

More than once I heard attendees tell me how at-peace it felt to be there. They didn’t know there were groups like ours. One woman said she was so surprised others liked her work. Sharing our word babies with anyone besides our mother can be daunting.

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Rowena Kuo, CEO of Brimstone Publishing taught a session

Retreats and conferences help writers realize they are not alone in their pursuit of publication. They have comrades-in-arms to battle discouragement.  Registration, breaks, and lunch serve as opportunities to build a network, and in the classes we learn what we didn’t know or had forgotten about our craft.

It’s a wonderful thing.

 

 

Share your small retreat experience. I’d love to hear about it.

 

A Visit with Krysten Lindsey Hager

Today I welcome  YA  authorr Krysten Lindsay Hager to Jubilee Writer.  I always enjoy learning about authors, their projects and what makes them tick. Let’s begin, Krysten what’s your latest published project.Krysten Hager

Can Dreams Come True is my latest young adult novel. It’s about a girl named Cecily who has always had a huge crush on singer Andrew Holiday. She wants to be an actress, so she tags along when her friend auditions for his new video. However, the director isn’t looking for an actress, but rather the girl next door—and so is Andrew. Cecily gets a part in the video and all of Andrew’s attention on the set. Her friend begins to see red and Cecily’s boyfriend is seeing green—as in major jealousy. A misunderstanding leaves Cecily and her boyfriend on the outs and Andrew hopes to pick up the pieces as he’s looking for someone more stable in his life than the models he’s dated. Soon Cecily begins to realize Andrew understands her more than her small-town boyfriend—but can her perfect love match really be her favorite rock star?

 Sounds like sonething many young adults dream about. How did you research for your book?

I read a lot of biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs of singers and watched a lot of music documentaries and biographies as well. I decided to use singers from different decades for a wider range of material. Some of the singers I included were: Ed Sheeran, Elvis, Justin Bieber, Whitney Houston, Katy Perry, Marvin Gaye, George Michael, Andy Gibb—and several others. I ended up walking away with a different picture of what it’s really like to be a performer.

Researching  real celebrities lives for deeper background is a great idea. Interesting.

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What inspired you to write your book?

I used my own celebrity crushes to create a “what if” moment and to see what the mindset would be for a girl who was put in that position to date her ultimate crush while being a normal girl next door. I wanted to explore that relationship and compare it to the high school relationship she had been in.

It is obvious you are still in touch with the younger version of yourself.

When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but it wasn’t until college that I knew it was my calling for sure. I read a biography of Paula Danziger and I could really relate to why she wanted to write for teens.

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 tell myself the importance of enjoying the writing process and not to focus just on getting published. I think too often writers put this insane pressure on themselves to get a book published. Put the focus on the writing.

Excellent advice. Now tell us who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

Having friends who enjoy the books helps so much. I had a friend who was messaging me how much she loved Dating the It Guy and then when I’d respond she’d tell me to leave her alone so she could get back to reading! That helps a lot to know people are enjoying the work. My best friend encouraged me to keep going with Can Dreams Come True when I stopped for a bit after my pop star crush passed away unexpectedly. That helps a lot.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

I love biographies/autobiographies and YA books.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I write in my office. I was a military wife moving around for years, so having a place to settle down and actually have my books unpacked and on the shelf is sooo inspiring.

Thanks so much for stopping by Krysten, thanks for sharing links so my readers can contact you and buy your books.

Biography: Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star,  Landry in Like, Competing with the Star, Dating the It Guy, and Can Dreams Come True? True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book and the Dayton Book Expo Bestseller Award for childen/teens. Competing with the Star is a Readers’ Favorite Book Award Finalist. Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times, Springfield News-Sun, Grand Blanc View, Dayton Daily News, and on the talk show Living Dayton.

WEBSITE: http://www.krystenlindsay.com/

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/krystenlindsay/

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/KrystenLindsay

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/KrystenLindsayHagerAuthor

PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.com/krystenlindsay/

Buy links:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079S3KJSH

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B079S3KJSH

Amazon IN: https://www.amazon.in/dp/B079S3KJSH

Amazon Germany: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B079S3KJSH

Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B079S3KJSH

Amazon AUS: https://www.amazon.com.au/Dreams-Come-True-Cecily-Taylor-ebook/dp/B079S3KJSH

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/can-dreams-come-true-krysten-lindsay-hager/1128104849?ean=9781621357469

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Why I’m Excited about my Audio Book

audio-1867121_640This week I’ve been listening to the audio version of my novel Secrets & Charades. I’m excited about the prospect of a new audience for my novel. My reader, Meghan Kelly, is doing a wonderful job of bringing to life the story of Evangeline and Jake.

Several friends and at least one family member prefer audio books. Therefore, marketing to listeners is a good idea. Who are these listeners? There are commuters, those driving to work or taking the train. And sales persons who listen between calls. My husband’s cousin listened to a lot of books on her assembly line job. A friend of mine listens while she cleans house. Those who are blind or have brain injury also love audio books.

Some may ask why I didn’t record the book myself.

Three simple reasons

  • Publisher offered it
  • Although I love reading out loud—even doing voices, turn on a recorder and I stumble a lot. I get frustrated doing over my voice mail message.
  • I lack the proper equipment.secret-charades-front-cover

Advantages of using a professional narrator

  • They have “the voice” for the job
  • They have the professional equipment, eliminating unnecessary background noises.
  • They have a following of readers who love their narration
  • Together, we double our marketing stream.

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After auditioning five narrators, Meghan Kelly had the voice that best captured my story. The combination of a wonderful story read by a woman who understands my characters adds so much to the readers experience. In my mind it’s a win-win. I’ll post the link  to my audiobook when it is available.

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Here’s some info on my narrtor. I’ll be posting and interview with Meghan once the audiobook is available.

PLEASE!  Like my Facebook Page!!
e-mail: mustsing71@hotmail.com
Direct hire link: https://www.acx.com/narrator?p=A2FDC5ZS8UJAMN

Share your experiences with Audio books. I’d love to hear them.