Paige Lavoie Talks Creating A Girl Called Monster

Paige A girl called monsterIn “A Girl Called Monster” author Paige Lavoie tells us that it’s okay to walk away from unhealthy relationships. You don’t owe them your life, even if they created yours. This is the case for her main character, who remains nameless in the first few chapters. Created in a dark laboratory, she’s expected to accept her life as an experiment with no sign of purpose or a life outside the walls she was ‘born’ in.

She’s curious, a little rebellious, and begins to find her escape in books, wondering if the outside world will be the same as what’s described in the pages. When she finally makes her escape, she’s both awed and taken aback by the bright colors and loud noises as well as the kindness and cruelty of strangers.

Bumbling around a new town, it’s clear to all who see her that she’s an outsider. Lost and covered in scars, she struggles at first. Unsure of how to handle social situations and money, she begins to feel unwelcome until she meets a delightful crew of punky stylists. She finds happiness and acceptance with every step she takes away from the doctor. Until, as most proponents of unhealthy relationships, he reappears when she least expects it.

Our Monster is now left with a choice of who to trust, and wonders if her friends will truly accept her even if they learn the truth about her past.

“At first, I thought maybe I’d write it as a romance, but realized towards the end that was wrong. My protagonist deserved so much more than that ending. I wanted her to find true happiness and she just wouldn’t have it at his side.”

In her writing, Lavoie drives home the point that you decide what you’re “made for”. The choice on how you want to live your life and the goals you achieve are up to you. No matter how big or small those goals may seem, they’re yours. Life is all about chasing after them and finding little joys in the short time we’re given.

A Girl Called Monster is a heartfelt journey of self-discovery, acceptance, and taking control of your destiny. Continue reading

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Cecile Tellier Shares Her Adventures as an Author

Cecile Teller InterviewWhat is the first book that made you cry?

Well, books frequently make me cry but I would say Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire.  She was my first major author addiction, and I fancied myself a bit like Claudia.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Comparisons.  This is a trap for new and seasoned writers as well.  You should never compare yourself to others.  At the end of the day, you are your own biggest competition.  Every project I take on, I hope is better than my last.

Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

Ego is often talked about in the negative but it is just someone’s sense of self-esteem or importance.  We should have good self-esteem and definitely a sense of importance. When having a big ego hurts a writer is if it stops them from accepting criticism, or relating to their readers.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Time, I have to manage my time wisely.  I think most writers who are also mothers, wives, etc., have to balance their time.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Hands down I would say conventions and signings.  If I didn’t have an opportunity to come out and meet everyone it would be so much harder to make some of the reader connections that I’ve made.  I truly love hanging out with everyone!

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

The internet is amazing, however, if I can’t find information that I can trust on the web, I will contact someone who is an expert.  An example of this would be the time I asked about a rocket launcher and was given a million youtube links to what they actually do to buildings.  That was research gold.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones? Continue reading

Being an immigrant takes a special kind of crazy

What if you had a chance to pick up your life and move to a foreign country? Would you do it? Author Stacey Keith did just that and I had the opportunity to find out how she did it. Below is part 3 of my interview with this remarkable author.

If you had to do it again, what would you do differently?

Despite having taken French, Russian and Japanese, I wish I’d studied more languages. You really can’t speak enough of them. Rice University in Houston (at that time) offered Italian classes. If I had come to Italy speaking better Italian, I wouldn’t hit these walls where the overwhelming urge to ask questions, obtain information, learn more is stymied by my inability to communicate. John speaks perfect Italian. He even does a radio show in Italian. But speaking it at home is a bit of a busman’s holiday for him, so I’m on my own.

Men and women, I’ve found, approach the language barrier a little differently. Like most women, I refused to open my mouth for the first year I was here unless I was absolutely certain that what I was saying was correct. Men just dive in. They don’t care that their grammar is road kill and their accent sounds as though they’re gargling rocks.

What advice would you give to someone who has the desire to pick up and move to another country?

Do it. Even if it kicks your ass, do it. Don’t use your age as an excuse. Don’t worry about not knowing the language. If you can point at something, you will always be able to communicate.

Comfort and ease are soft chains. You swap truly living for cable television and the bleak ugliness of modern American life. How will you ever discover what you are made of unless you put yourself to the test?

We think we have time, but we don’t. What we have is conditioning. We are conditioned to go to work, get married, have kids, pay our taxes, not ask questions.

Moving to another country is like living inside a soccer riot and you’re the ball. Continue reading

David Wind Answers The Question

David Wind Answers The Question

David Wind authorFirst of all, know that I am a writer, not a regular blogger. Just like any other person in any profession, writers come in different sizes, shapes, and genres.

There are bloggers, journalists, biographers, how-to-writers, Indie writers, Traditional writers, non-fiction authors, and novelists, and even within the writer categories, there are untold sub-categories.

Novelists write in hundreds of genres; non-fiction writers also have hundreds of genres to choose from… I could go on and on, but let’s stop here for now.

There is one thing that I believe crosses every category, every genre, and every writer: ‘The Question’.

What is ‘the question’? Well, obviously, it must be the most burning issue ever, if it affects all writers, right? Well, maybe. Here are two versions of the question: Where do you get your ideas from? Where did you get your idea for this book from?

While there is usually a generic answer most of us use—unless there was an earth-shattering and mind-blowing epiphany—that goes something like…

”I watch people and as I observe them going about their lives, questions [a]rise in my mind and soon I find myself creating a story around that particular situation.”

I believe what I’ve just told you is absolutely true, for the most part. But it’s just outside of the most part’, where the real answers lay. Just the mention of my new novel brings the question out immediately. “Why write a novel based on a song, and, really, who does that?”

So, before you have a chance to ask me that question, let me answer it. I first heard Harry Chapin in the early seventies—’72/’73— on the radio, and I  became a fan.

I never missed a Harry Chapin performance at Alice Tully Hall, and listening and watching him perform, was like having a friend playing guitar and singing in my living room.

I think if you ask any fan, you’ll get a similar response. “Harry wasn’t just a singer, he was a friend. Somehow, Harry Chapin crossed an invisible barrier and achieved what few do. And for me, the aspiring writer, he spoke to me as a storyteller even more than a singer.

Let’s fast forward to one of his concerts, where he performed ‘A Better Place To Be’. The first time I heard that song was my epiphany, so to speak. The song created a question in my mind: Who was the man he was singing about? What had happened to him, to create the situation the song detailed? Oh, yeah, I’ve been carrying the germ of an idea around in my head for far too many years.

In the time between then and now, I’ve had three children and written and published thirty-nine novels. A Better Place To Be, released December 1, of this year, will be my fortieth—it is also the first novel of this type I’ve written.

What pushed you to finally write A Better Place To Be, comes the question again.

I have no choice but to answer in the arena of brutal honesty. The death of my son, Zach, this past January, pushed me to write the book. There is nothing like the loss of a child to make one examine one’s own life. And this was no exception. Continue reading

Truths, lies and then some with Erica Kiefer

Erica Kiefer photoBefore becoming an author, I first certified as a Recreational Therapist. Most people outside of my field don’t understand what that even means, so let me tell you. In short, recreation therapy uses team challenges and various methods of play to help individuals discover truth in themselves, like strengths and weaknesses or opportunities to heal.

It also provides fun ways for groups to get to know each other. One of my favorite introduction games is Two Truths and a Lie, where participants prepare three statements: two of which are truthful and one that is made-up. (Every writer loves the opportunity to spin a good story, right?) So, to allow readers to get to know me better, let me offer the following possibly-true statements:

  • In my high school, there wasn’t a wrestling team for girls. In my fight for equality, I put up enough of a stink that the boys’ team was forced to let me join and wrestle against them—at least until I quit.
  • When living in Jakarta, Indonesia, my family and I were evacuated when political turmoil and rioting became too dangerous. I didn’t have to take final school exams that year!
  • Since the age of four, I’ve had a scar that runs along my forearm, remnants of a severe burn when a hot iron fell on it. Ouch.

Now, if you had to guess… which one is the lie? (Answer provided below) While you’re thinking, here are five more TRUTHFUL facts about me: Continue reading

Out of Character with Molly Zenk

Out of Character tourCan you tell us a little bit about the characters in Out of Character?

There are four main characters in the book which also means 4 points of view characters. They are:

*Harmony – a young actress. This is her first role ever beyond high school. She hasn’t even done any college productions. She sends in an audition tape and is plucked from obscurity. She feels like she’s in over her head and always worried she’s going to get fired.

*David – The ‘It’ boy from across the Pond. He’s a model/actor. He acts super confident and secure but that’s all a front for his inner insecurities. He’s kind of flashy with his faith which can get on the other characters’ nerves, even though they are on a faith-based family show.

*Elliot – he’s hoping for redemption and to get away from it all after his ex-girlfriend goes on a smear campaign against him on national TV. He and David are in a scripted love triangle with Harmony which goes off script into real life. He’s used to playing stalkers and serial killers so [he] is looking for a career/image makeover as well.

*Katie – She’s been acting a long time without a big break. She’s envious of Harmony or just being handed the lead role. How she handles that jealousy is questionable. She’s very ambitious. You’ll hate her one minute, and she’ll break your heart the next. Katie and Elliot are the two characters that surprised me the most while I was writing. Continue reading

Stacey Keith’s Italian Adventure Part 2: Civita Castellana

In part 2 of my interview with Stacey Keith, she shares how her move to Italy, despite her hardships, made her life richer and her advice to anyone wanting to make the jump.

How did you discover Civita Castellana? I checked it out after I read your article on moving to Italy and I was intrigued.

John’s apartment in Calcata was Hobbit hole sized. With the two of us there, it was like living in a shoebox. To make matters worse, the apartment was smack dab on top of a restaurant called Il Graal, which was run amok with loud, Italian tourists, shrieking babies, and screaming Calcatese. The residents of Calcata loved to dance, sing, eat, play music—and yell at the top of their lungs at each other. Fights were an everyday occurrence, most of them over nothing. No one can seethe like an Italian can seethe.

Across from us, there was an aging film star who had a coffee shop filled, floor-to-ceiling, with photos of his glory days (and only marginally less public photos of his penis). A brilliant, albeit vitriolic, right-wing Italian prince lived around the corner. There were enormous caves carved right into the rock that had been turned into grottos, artists’ workshops, even a cave full of birds that were tended by the village “strega” or witch.

But there were no banks in Calcata, no grocery stores, no post offices. Most days you couldn’t even buy a cappuccino, and most of the restaurants were only open on the weekends. Between the tight quarters, the noise, the drama and the inconvenience, John and I decided to relocate about twelve kilometers north to Civita Castellana, another village on a rock, only a far bigger rock.

Civita CastellanaCivita Castellana is three thousand years old. Mozart played in the nine-hundred-year-old Duomo there. Heretics were burned in the piazza in front of the Fontana dei Draghi (Fountain of Dragons). An abandoned twelfth-century church sits directly in front of our house. For a fifth of what a decent apartment in Houston costs, we live like kings. And yes, there are plenty of cappuccinos.

How long did it take you to plan your move?

Once John asked me to come to Italy (I knew this was his decision to make and never pressed him or hinted at it in any way), things moved quickly. His invitation came in June. By August, I was on my way.

I Craigslisted pretty much everything I owned in that awful, health-hazard apartment I paid $1500 a month for, and my sweet friend Joyce helped me sell my car—a stick shift that lessened the car’s resale value, but THANK THE GODDESS I could drive a stick because that’s pretty much all you can get in Europe.

Saying goodbye to my students was hard. They threw me a fabulous party where the city of Houston, as a goodbye present, towed my car. I spent my last night in Houston at the impound lot. If that’s not a sign, what is?

With my daughter due to follow me over in one month, I packed all my earthly belongings into two duffel bags (a shocking proportion of which was taken up with books) and flew stand-by to Rome.

I didn’t speak Italian, only phrasebook. I have a long-standing terror of commitment. But I knew that a far better life lay beyond the Atlantic, a life that fed my soul instead of depleting it. I had to take that chance because if I didn’t, I was going to be eaten up with regret for the rest of my life.

My advice? TRAVEL LIGHT. The point of these adventures is to not be burdened down by the past, but to make room for the future.

Yes, it requires living with a huge amount of uncertainty, insecurity and fear. But life is tenuous at best no matter where you call home.

The abyss yawns for all of us. Learning to let go of the branch and sail down the river is a life skill. Yes, there are rocks. Yes, they may hurt you. But at some point you will make it through the rapids and float blissfully on the other side … before you hit the rapids again.

Hey, this is life we’re talking about.

What was the biggest obstacle you faced with your move?

As a writer, I’m a born communicator and compulsive reader. So the language barrier was a problem (and continues to be—real fluency in any language takes years). Once you get out of Rome, the number of English speakers drops to near zero. Plus I am not one of those expats who expects everyone in Italy to speak my language. It is my responsibility to speak theirs. I study, but it’s admittedly a slow arduous process.

The biggest obstacle I faced and continue to face is not seeing my kids.

Being a writer and being a mom are antithetical. Writing requires quiet and privacy. Motherhood requires everything else. I’d been a hands-on mom for nearly twenty years before I came to Italy, but that didn’t make it easier to go. Not seeing my kids as often as I would like is the one enormous hairy fly in my ointment. Had I given up John, Italy, and quite possibly my writing career, I would have faced an empty nest anyway. But that sacrifice is felt by all of us every day.

Had I stayed, there would have been a different set of problems. The human body can only take so much physical stress, and I was teaching sixteen classes a week. Both my shoulders were blown (as I discovered after moving here). I write longhand but couldn’t properly hold a pen. I assumed it was neurological damage from the grueling nature of my work at the gym. As it turns out, I was simply exhausted. But when you’re on that rat wheel, it’s sometimes hard to tell how fast it’s going.

Missed part 1 of the interview? Check it out in the Related Post below.

Photo Stacey KeithAbout Stacey Keith

Stacey Keith is the award-winning author of the Dreams Come True series (Kensington Books), Dream On, Sweet Dreams and Dream Lover, in addition to A Wedding On Bluebird Way with New York Times Bestseller authors Janet Dailey, Lori Wilde and the talented Allyson Charles.

Twice a Golden Heart finalist, Stacey has won a Maggie, two Silver Quills, a Jasmine, a Heart of the Rockies, and over fifteen other first-place finishes in Romance Writers of America contests.

An avid writer of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and short stories, Stacey doesn’t own a television, but reads compulsively—and would, in fact, go stark raving bonkers without books, which are crammed into all corners of the house. She now lives in Civita Castellana, a medieval village in Italy that sits atop a cliff, and spends her days writing in a nearby abandoned 12th-century church.

The two things she is most proud of are her ability to cook pasta alla genovese without burning down the kitchen and swearing volubly in Italian with all the appropriate hand gestures.

Connect with Stacey:

Website | Facebook Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest Amazon | Goodreads

Books By Stacey Keith

Dream on Stacey Keith

Click on the cover to learn more

Stacey Keith Sweet Dreams

Click on the cover to pre-order Sweet Dream

Dream Lover Stacey Keith

Releasing in May

 

Can Glory live up to her illustrious name?

Best selling author, Dani Collins share how she created the character Glory in her On The Edge novel.

Dani Collins blog tourCan Glory live up to her illustrious name?

When I started plotting the book that eventually became On The Edge, my husband and I were redoing our will. My writing career was established with a backlist of twenty-plus books. I had to appoint someone to look after that side of things if I were hit by a bus.

That started me thinking that maybe my heroine, Glory, administers her mom’s literary estate. I decided her mother was an iconic romance author like Nora Roberts, beloved by millions. She left Glory’s father such a fortune, he’s able to sink it into the run-down Blue Spruce Lodge.

Glory’s mom had a long battle with cancer, so Glory has had to step up with increasing skills over the years. It started as stuffing bookmarks in envelopes, but by the end, she’s heavily editing books from her mother’s backlist.

Glory always wanted to write. In fact, by Grade Nine, she was so inspired by her mom, she scribbled scenes into a notebook Love scenes. Ones that starred a boy she had a crush on.

That was when that jock-pig, Garrett Waters, grabbed it and read it to the class. It was beyond humiliating.

Glory continued to dream up stories, but they didn’t make it onto paper. She couldn’t risk it. She didn’t write again until she began editing her mom’s books. Then her mom died and writer’s block hit, but before that, she was writing lengthy passages, sometimes whole chapters.

She never takes credit, though. Too scary.

Now her father is renovating Blue Spruce Lodge. He needs the cash that would come with a new release, but Glory’s mom is gone. Glory starts writing with the intention of publishing the book as an ‘undiscovered’ title of her mother’s.

I won’t spoil how that turns out, but I will tell you that the hero, Rolf—a serious jock who is a gold-medal alpine champion—is her inspiration for her own hero. And Rolf finds out what she’s doing.

Fun Fact: The book Glory writes, Blessed Winter, is a book-within-a-book. You get to read it as Glory writes it while she’s fighting with/falling for Rolf in On The Edge. Continue reading

Writing Mystery, Horror, Paranormal Thrillers

Willow Rose blog tourWhat draws you to write mystery, horror and paranormal thrillers?

I love the supernatural and you can feel it even in my mysteries and thrillers. I like the creepy and my books are often gritty and scary. That’s why they named me the Queen of Scream I guess.

How difficult is it to maintain the suspense and intrigue in your books while still building up to a satisfying ending?

That’s actually my favorite part. The plot. In my books, you’ll meet several people whose stories don’t seem to have anything to do with each other, but at the end, you’ll realize it is all connected somehow and I make sure you’ll be surprised when you realize how. That is a lot of fun.

You have a knack for creating characters who readers care about. What is your secret to creating compelling characters?

Oh wow. Thank you. I am happy to hear that. I think that I care a lot about them myself. And I try to make them have more than one side to them. Especially the bad guys. There is always a very good reason for them to be the way they are and I take my time to explain what happened to them. Their motives are important. And even my heroes mess up now and then. Just like the rest of us. I am also not afraid to make them be emotional. I spend more time writing about their emotions than describing what they look like or what the place they’re at looks like.

Tell us a bit about your writing habits. Do you plot your books before you start writing?

It is very different, actually. Sometimes I dream something, other times it’s just something that comes to me and I think, Hmm that’s interesting or scary, maybe my readers will find it interesting or scary too. I always try to go places where I frighten myself, where there is pain or fear. Like recently I read a post on Facebook about a woman warning other mothers that she and her daughter were being approached by this man in Target and then afterward in the parking lot outside and she had heard about this trafficking ring that targeted mothers and their children. Reading that post scared me like crazy so I knew I had to write about it. It turned out it was a hoax, but the idea was planted and soon it became a book.

What do you do when you are busy writing a book and the next idea is nagging at the back of your mind? Are you one of those authors who write multiple books at a time? Continue reading

Inspiration for your next book can be found anywhere

Author Rachel Brimble shares where she gets inspiration for her novels.

The single most common questions author get asked by readers and interviewers is where we get our inspiration. This is such a difficult question to answer without leaving the person asking the question no more informed than they were before speaking with you!

Rachel Brimble blog tourInspiration is everywhere…snippets of conversation, news articles, TV programs and movies, your experiences/others experiences, places, history. I could go on and on 🙂

Let’s start with one aspect at a time…

Setting

This is where the majority of my stories begin taking shape in my imagination. I love visiting new and old places, looking for that new story idea. I’m lucky enough to live in one of the most beautiful parts of the UK. Wiltshire is rich with history, phenomenal countryside, and beautiful villages. On top of that, I am just thirty minutes drive from the famous Georgian City of Bath.

There are so many places to inspire me from the churches and cathedrals to the tiny hamlets hidden away which are bound to hold secrets. I love wandering around Bath and thinking of the many, many generations of people who have lived in this wonderful city and the struggles they faced and conquered.

Look around you and ask yourself, “Who lived here?” “Who fought here?” “Who fell in love here?” “Who lost a loved one here?” And then ask yourself, “Why?” “Who?” “How?”

Templeton Cove came alive in my mind by reminiscing about my childhood holidays – the beaches, piers, oceans, and shops all mixed and merged until I had created my own fictional town. Eight books later and I still love Templeton more than any place I’ve created.

Characters

This is a difficult one for me – many writers start their stories with the character, especially in romance. This rarely happens for me. Occasionally, I hear a voice or a line of dialogue and have to find out who said that and why. It usually turns out to be the hero or heroine––although, other times it has been a secondary character shouting to be heard.

I start finding my characters by trawling the Internet for pictures of famous actors or models. Usually one of the faces catches my eye and ‘speaks’ to me. I’ve found my character. After that, I complete a full character sketch looking for their story. The sketches usually produce the characters’ Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. After that, I have to start plotting… Continue reading