Thursday, July 24, 2014

~ Is there a draft in here ? ~

If you look closely you'll notice I only have a few hairs left on my head !!!! Here's why:

 Is there a draft in here? 
Oh no, my lovely readers. There are NO MORE DRAFTS.

I am thrilled to announce that the final words have been written. 

The End
has been lovingly typed on the last page and

 The Bootlegger's Wife
is ready to meet you.

When? Soon, very soon.
The Bootlegger's Wife
is scheduled for release on October 24th .

 I am  giddy and can't wait to hear what you have to say.

In these last 90 days I will be opening the door a little wider, 
just enough for you to peek around the corner.
We've been partners on this journey, my dear readers, and we're not done yet.

The best is yet to come.
Come along.

Stay tuned for the cover reveal, coming soon.

Monday, July 14, 2014

~Suanne's at the Author's Table ~

Look who joined us at the author's table today !!
You know it when you see it. 
That moment when you stumble upon something special,
a piece of art
the perfect dress
a song that could have been plucked from the pages of your diary
But in this case, it was a book. 

by Suanne Laqueur

I fell in love.
That's what it feels like when 
you FALL into a great story. 
You lose track of time.
Nothing exists but you and the words on the page.
I let myself go 
willing to be swept away 
into the world of

Erik Fiskare & Daisy Bianco

Here's a snippet of the review I left for The Man I Love. This will give you a little hint of what I'm feeling about this book. 

As a reader, I gobbled this story up in giant spoonfuls, like the best homemade ice cream on a hot July day. As a fellow author, I stand in slack-jawed awe saying, "how did she create this magic?" There's no formula. We can't put it under a microscope, peeling away the layers, so that we can dissect it, diagnose it and reproduce it. Magic defies our clumsy attempts at affixing a label. But this story is pure magic simply because the author had the courage to write the truth. She gave us real people, in real moments dealing with the truth about life in all its glorious mucked up mess. And it was beautiful. 

So you can imagine my giddiness, when the opportunity came my way to host an interview with one of my new favorite authors. I'm bouncing up and down like my pre-teen self when I heard David Cassidy was coming to town to film an episode of The Partridge Family. 

But enough about me and my silliness. Let's get serious. Because this is a seriously
great book.

Thanks for stopping by to chat today, Suanne. Let’s start with something basic: why are you a writer? Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you to authorship?
I write because my mind never shuts off. I write to get things out of my head and stomach so I can sleep. I write to capture moments, I write to create understanding and I write to connect with people.

I’ve written little stories since I was about ten. From a young age, I had very sharp powers of observation which made me retain details of experiences. I was a steel trap. I kept a journal for most of my life and this, coupled with my very strange photographic memory, led me to start recording conversations as dialogue. Complete with quotation marks and “he said,” “I said.” As I got older, I noticed how much people enjoyed when you shared memories of them: what they were wearing, what they said to you and how it made you feel. Or an act of kindness you remembered. Or when you observed them doing something they loved and how it affected you. People love to be noticed. People love to be remembered. People love to connect and that’s what’s inspired me most in my writing—the thought of being able to connect with people emotionally by drawing on my own memories and observations. Letting them know that what they perceived as a throwaway moment was actually a story to be told.
As for inspiration, I set the goal to finish the novel in 2014 and put it out there. And I posted about it to all my friends. Public accountability is a spectacular motivator. 
I know that some authors use outlines, while others “write by the seat of their pants.” So, are you a planner or a pantser? Could you describe your process for piecing together this book?
I wrote The Man I Love using both methods. The characters have existed in my head for years. They were sort of playmates for me. Literary dolls. I just made up little scenarios and vignettes for them but there was no storyline, no arc. In that regard, the universe of the novel was “pantsed.” When I made the commitment to create the story, I had to plan it out and make a start-to-finish outline. So I had a mix of highly-polished, finished work interspersed with what I call “chapter sketches”: raw material, snippets of dialogue or a quick outline of “this has to happen.”
How was the story born?
The Man I Love was written from the outside in.  In other words, I had the story of Erik and Daisy meeting in college. Then I had the story of Erik and Daisy finding each other in adulthood. There was nothing in the middle. And I think this is because I created those two characters when I myself was in college, in a novel I was tentatively calling All the Running You Can Do. I tinkered around with it for years and actually sent it away to an editor, who came back with this breathtaking observation: “You have a 500-page character analysis but no story.”

So I got discouraged and sulky and I put All the Running away for a long time. Sometime in my thirties I picked it up again, and the college storyline was totally boring for me. I had moved beyond that twentysomething drama and just couldn’t relate to it anymore. I didn’t care. But it occurred to me that Erik and Daisy were in their thirties now as well. Where were they?  Were they together?  Suddenly I knew they weren’t together. Furthermore, they were very badly not together. Estranged. Disconnected. But they had never forgotten each other. In fact, the abrupt disconnection was haunting them. They had to find each other again just so they could be free of the past. I wrote that reconciliation. Then I began to wonder what had happened. What drove them apart all those years?  And from there, the story that became The Man I Love began to emerge and take on a life of its own.
I think it was a courageous choice to write this story from the male perspective, what made you decide that was the right course of action?
Originally the novel started out from Daisy’s point of view. It made sense to me: as a woman, to write her story. Why wouldn’t I? I kept writing and writing Daisy but the material seemed strangely stagnant. I’d write chapters and scenes from her adult life and yet nothing was happening. I tried adding in some chapters from other points of view, just to make it interesting, including a few scenes from Erik’s perspective. I didn’t know what I was doing, I still didn’t know what the story was. I took the whole mess and put it in the lap of my friend Ami. And she came back with Daisy’s chapters separated, saying “These are all right.” Then the chapters from other characters and her feedback was, “These are a distraction.” Finally she indicated the few chapters from Erik’s point of view and said, “This.  This is your story.”
I was like Are you kidding me?  Write from his point of view?  But then I realized Ami was right. It wasn’t Daisy’s story at all. It was Erik’s. He had the evolution. He chose to leave and he eventually chooses to go back and the choosing, the deciding to decide—that is the story.  Once I had him in my mind, it was very easy to write from his eyes. It felt very natural to tell his tale. It was fascinating to watch him emerge off the page, take on life and embark on this incredible journey.
 It’s a big challenge, going it alone. How did you come to the decision to self-publish?
Going the mainstream publishing route can be heartbreaking. I am not a thick-skinned person and I sensed shopping the manuscript around to agents and publishers would get me very discouraged. I took a good hard look at the goal I had set for myself, which was to finish the novel and get it out there. I wasn’t after fame or fortune, I simply had a good story to tell and I wanted to tell it. To show people another side of me. I wanted the story to be the best it could be, which is why I chose to work with a professional editor. But I also wanted to retain control of the manuscript and in that regard, self-publishing was the way to go.
The thing with self-publishing is what we refer to as APE: you must be Author, Publisher and Entrepreneur. The latter is where I do not shine. I have an inherent shyness which makes me reluctant to “push.” You cannot be shy or reluctant. You have to talk about yourself and talk about the book at every opportunity because nobody else is going to do it for you. You do not hit the “publish” button and suddenly the phone rings with your lucky break. You have to stop thinking of yourself as solely a writer and start thinking of yourself as a brand. That’s a hard step for authors because you don’t think of writing fiction as providing a service. It takes a lot of introspection and deep digging to find out who is going to be looking for what you have, and what’s the best way to let them know you got it and more. And then you have to kick shyness to the curb and start introducing yourself as a writer at parties and talking about the book any chance you get. You have to work the network like crazy.
Are you working on anything else right now? 
I’m not entirely sure what’s next but I have a feeling I’m not yet done telling Erik and Daisy’s story. There’s a whole new phase of their adult lives to explore. And I’m just as curious as some of my readers to know what exactly happened to Erik’s father. I think any novel I write next is going to be much more thought-out and planned. I’ll have an outline much earlier and an idea of the arc of the story. Nothing is in stone, but let’s just say I’ve checked out some books on Swedish history and Swedish immigrants in America, and leave it at that for now.

 I've been happy to host two new authors within the last two weeks. 
What a wonderful treat for my readers, to be introduced to just talented women on the cusp of their careers. Not only talented, but women with the DRIVE to go out and 
grab their dream with both hands. 
Here's to dreams coming true.
  Thanks for taking the time to share with us today, Suanne. 
And here's wishing you all the best 
with The Man I Love 

You can find Suanne here:


Thursday, July 10, 2014

~ Hi Ellen !! ~

One of the great things about being a writer and being in a writers group, is the fellowship.
What could be better than meeting a group of people who suffer from the same multiple personality disorder that you do?What joy to find a group of people who understand what it's like to have strange people living in your head, leading you down the garden path and demanding that you tell their the way that they want it told? Yeah, we're a crazy lot. But I digress.

Another great thing about least all the ones I've met so far, is their generosity. Generous in their time, and in sharing any hard earned wisdom they've gleaned along the way. Ellen Harger is such an author.

I'm honored to say I know this woman.You have no idea what words are capable of , until you read one of her books.Not only can she write the pants off a story, but she's smart and witty and you're going to love her.
Her newest novel : The Anonymous Blog of Mrs. Jones is a story about love, loss, pain, starting over....basically a story about LIFE. It's just that in Ellen's hands it's more beautiful !

So pull up a chair, grab your cup of coffee and say hello to Ellen Harger.
Honoring the theme of Ellen's book, her answers are in RED.

Aright, alright...enough applause. Let's settle down. 

Ellen, having read both of your novels Strong Enough and your latest novel,
The Anonymous Blog of Mrs. Jones, I'm curious. How was the writing process different this time around?

With The Anonymous Blog of Mrs. Jones (from now on known as Anon Blog), I hit on the hook pretty early--a blog between two lovers. Having a solid hook was a huge leap forward. My first novel, Strong Enough, was written by trial and error. That and pure determination to finish. I wrote scenes to figure out who the characters were. I tried various situations on several characters, fired an important cast member, and totally cut the unifying image--a key. 

The one technique I continued to use was procrastination. I called it "incubating the story." Letting it simmer in my sub-conscious. Which meant I was stuck. Maybe because originally in Anon Blog, Mr. Write was a blast from Mrs. Jones' past who looked her up on the internet, but the blog never really fit them. So even though I had a hook and blog posts written between Mrs. Jones and Mr. Write, the story wasn't flowing. Plus, in the first version they didn't make it. It was a fling, an experiment in fresh love until the world noticed their private world on the internet. 

I write to music and love soundtracks, so I incorporated that passion into my first novel. In the spring of 2013, I immersed myself in P!nk's album, The Truth About Love, and found the missing ingredient. Fear. Fear was driving Mrs. Jones' actions. Now I needed to know why.

But the most significant change was music enjoyed a new role with Anon Blog. The songs on The Truth About Love meant something to Mrs. Jones while they underscored the theme that love is hard. After that, I didn't need an outline to write. I was flying on instinct. I joined a writing camp with the goal of completing my novel in a month. My first draft was Swiss cheese. The next step was to hire the writing coach from camp as my editor, but I didn't let her see my newest draft for three months as I filled in all the holes.

An editor is a gift you offer yourself. No matter your writing style, that's a universal truth.

What have you learned about yourself as a writer, after completing this book?

After writing Anon Blog, I learned to trust my unique voice. I spent years envying other writers--usually people from my classes. In my mind, they wrote cleaner, crisper imagery and expanded moments so the reader could relax into the book. Even though I never copied another writer, I did focus on clarity. Last summer I found a local writing group and love our monthly critiques. I didn't offer my writing until Anon Blog was a solid, cohesive draft. But after hearing, "I love your voice" a few times, I stopped coveting other writer's style. 

Did my voice change radically? No, I've workshopped short stories written years ago and quirks are still there. What I learned was to trust my instincts. Anon Blog is written in first person, present tense. It savors the fragment sentence like a fifty-year-old Scotch. So much of the prose happens in Gillian's head that I had to forego italics to denote every internal thought or italics would drown the prose. This is my voice and I pushed it with Anon Blog. I took changes and tested rules. It doesn't always work. I have unpublished pages of experiments, but I kept trying and finally, I trusted.

Like a lot of people, I love to peek behind the curtain of authors and celebrities and catch a glimpse of who they are when we're not looking. What's your writing space look like? Are you neat as a pin? Or a messy genius?

Yes, and at the same time. I love my writing space. The desk is large with two long drawers. The renovatino of the space into my dream office began with a lamp and while I have lots of plans, I'm enjoying the slow transformation. I have fabric for pillows and to cover my reading chair, folded into a neat pile. It's been a year but I've yet to sew. I think I'm waiting for my custom made bookshelves and a slender table beneath my bulletin board. My husband doesn't trust me with his saws. 

As far as neatness...everything has its place. My calculator goes in the drawer on the right, small note pads on the left of my miniature hutch. All my graph paper pads belong in the desk drawer on the right with my tape, label maker, checks, and supply bin (lead, paper clips, mini post-its, etc.) On the left is my laptop and miscellaneous items. Which reminds me, I think it's time to clean out the drawers and reorganize. However, on each corner of my desk are batches of things to do/deal with. I like colorful folders with printed labels, but I don't like to file until I have a good stash crowding my work space. My shredder is currently full with a pile of papers on top. 

While you're in the mood to divulge secrets...give me more. Tell me something crazy. Surprise me.

1. After years of dancing in my basement while watching Solid Gold Dancers, Flash Dance, Turning Point, I took a dance class for the first time when I was eighteen, and danced in theater productions for four years 
2.I'v lived in ten states, Germany and spent a summer in Italy. 
3. My parents considered leaving our dog Mittens in WV with my Mamaw when we moved to Germany. I was seven and informed them I would stay with dog and Mamaw. Luckily my parents hadn't made the final decison and Mittens came to Germany. It would have been epic to see me and my mom square off. I'm not sure, but I think she would have won. I was lucky she hadn't made up her mind. My mother had one major go-to rule for parenting: once she said "No" she never backed down. 
4. Marion Zimmer Bradley rejected a short story I submitted to her Fantasy Magazine when I was nineteen. 
5.When I was six, I twirled a baton in the Ceredo-Kenovo Sweethearts ( because my sister did). Later, in high school the experience helped me to become a twirler for the Highlander Drum and Bugle Core.

Wow! Those were fun facts. You are full of surprises.

Still on the topic of sharing, but on a more serious note, what advice would you offer to aspiring authors who think they don't have the TIME to write?

Theories abound. Some adhere to the write an hour a day. Other's prefer a daily minimum word count. I didn't learn which was best for me until I participated in National Novel Writing Month. I'm more comfortable with a time frame, but to help me write and not edit the same sentence for ninety minutes I use focus booster. The ticking should be annoying but it honestly boosts my focus. Maybe the sound distracts the fear like a laser light does a cat.

You won't know what works until you try a few techniques. Discover the best way to motivate you. I got to the point with Strong Enough that finishing was my only remaining incentive. I wanted to at least say I completed a novel (endings are tough). Who cares if it takes you a decade to finish? As long as you keep returning to your characters to tell their story, isn't that progress? Keep going. The more involved you get with your plot, the more you'll want to share with readers. 

For those who have a hundred stories competing in their head, awesome! You have a catalog waiting to be brought into existence. If selling your book, not just finishing it, is important, regular writing sessions are critical, so my theory is write the first draft in a month. The best thing I learned from NaNoWriMo was to stop editing and push through the scene. However, I cannot use word counts. I have two NaNo manuscripts that made it to 50,000 words in a month. I must completely rewrite one--I followed a tangent and missed my story. The other followed an outline, but the editing is daunting.

All those tips people offer in their blog posts and articles? That's motivation. I know they can sting when filtered through your fear and translated into "You can't be a serious writer unless you write twenty-five hundred meaningful words a day." 
Don't stab yourself with all the tips you're not doing. Take comfort in the fact that you keep searching for a key to unlock your writerly style. 

Writing is difficult. Keep writing. Don't let anyone else tell you how fast you need to be. Let the first book teach you about what kind of writer you are. When it's Theory vs Experience, experience wins. Try different tips: write with a timer, with headphones, with a writing prompt, a coach, in a coffee shop. Try until you find the formula that is your writing style.

And finally, what did Gillian ( your protagonist in The Anonymous Blog..) teach you?
What is essential can't be destroyed.
Ash is fertilizer.
Truth is more attractive than we know.
And moving is critical. 

Thanks for taking the time to stop by today Ellen. Readers, now that you've been properly introduced, introduce yourself to her writing. Make sure to grab her book when it comes out on July 21st.

From the author:

I'm a word gypsy and emotion sifter, writing about broken condoms, unhappy marriages and women's issues at the chick-lit end of women's fiction and women's fiction end of chick-lit.
I believe great storytelling asks readers to confront what they've stuffed deep down. We all get blinded by emotion and stuck in ruts: in June 2005, I woke up to a wall of fire. Watching the flames eat away at my life was my biggest turning point in life. 
My first novel Strong Enough released February 2013. My sophomore work, 
The Anonymous Blog of Mrs. Jones debuts this July.

In the mean time you can find Ellen everywhere: