Five For Friday: Patti Callahan Henry

Five For Friday: Patti Callahan Henry

pattichat***I am re-running this fun interview with Patti Callahan Henry this week to let you know about a LIVE CHAT with Patti on Tuesday, June 25, at 3:30 p.m. EST on BookTribChat! During the chat you can:

  • Ask Patti questions directly
  • WIN a free copy of the book
  • See Patti’s fabulous, creative writing space where all the magic happens

I will be there, and I hope to see you guys there too! 

I was first introduced to New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan Henry. I was introduced to Patti when I was assigned to work on her novella, The Perfect Love Song. Telling a complete story in that condensed format is no easy feat, but Patti pulled it off–so much so that I immediately read her other books once I’d finalized the edits.

High Res_Author Photo CREDIT Shawn Heifert Photography_PATTI CALLAHAN HENRY

Patti has such a strong presence on the page, editing her is almost too easy. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again and again, no one puts emotion on paper as gracefully and seemingly effortlessly as she does. I know for me as a writer, sometimes trying to convey my soul in words feels like a dopey kitten that’s gotten all tangled up in a ball of yarn. Patti takes that “yarn” and weaves it seamless into a beautiful shawl you can’t help but wrap yourself in. Don’t believe me? Read the excerpt at the end of this interview from And Then I Found You, about the main character, Kate, and her experience placing for adoption the baby she just brought into the world. (Have tissues or at the very least, a dry sleeve, handy. You’ll need it)

Before we get to know Patti and what fuels her as a writer, here’s how to find her out in the world:

Facebook

Twitter

Website

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1. I am a big fan of your books and And Then I Found You, did not disappoint! I laughed and I cried. I couldn’t put it down; actually read it in two sittings, the second sitting in the middle of the night. I know this story is particularly special, for you and your family. Can you tell us a little bit about the background of the story?

Can I say that I’m glad I made you cry? Hopefully in the good kind of way. The background of the story is that twenty-three years ago, my sister, Barbi, bravely placed her baby daughter for adoption. And then three years ago, that beautiful girl found us on Facebook. The real story is full of magical synchronicity and reunion. I wrote a fictional version using this backdrop.

2. We all put bits and pieces of people we know into our books, but your characters and at least “the big event” that grounds the story are very real. Did you have any issues with family members and friends when they learned you were doing this?

My family wanted me to write this book. The only issue we had was when I tried to write the “True Story” – I couldn’t do it. I sat down with my sister and told her that it was her story to tell; I couldn’t “become” her. So we agreed that she’d work on a memoir while I wrote a fictional version. What I did was ask myself this question: What is the heart of the story FOR me? And then I took it from there.

3. You have a such a gift for describing emotion. It seems to glide through the story without any awkwardness whatsoever. Do you find it easy to write emotion or do you struggle with it? And can you give some advice on how to craft it as you do?

This is the nicest compliment. It means so much to me because this is an important part of the writing for me—to convey emotion while moving the story forward. I don’t know if it comes easily; I don’t think anything about writing comes easily if it is any good. Advice? For the first draft: Pour it out there on the paper. Dump it without editing. Dig deep. Tell the truth. THEN edit it to smooth. I think maybe it’s like making something out of wood and then smoothing it with sandpaper when the shape of it is done. But you can’t smooth it if you aren’t pouring the truth (the emotion) out there.

4. Do you have any special rituals for writing? A time of day you like writing, a special drink to sip, or sweater to wear? Or maybe a special feather to have close by… (Read the book, guys!)

I believe I do my best writing when I get up to my attic (my office) first thing in the morning. Light a candle. Wiggle some words around in a journal and then dive into the story. This might be a myth I’ve created for my own use, but it works. My office is full of all my favorite things: feathers, books, photos of my children, poems, artwork, etc… and I believe this helps.

5. It was such a great idea to release Friend Request as a lead up to And Then I Found You. Do you see yourself doing more of that kind of thing with your books going forward? How do you see yourself evolving as an author in this ever-expanding publishing environment?

Thanks again for the kind words! I do see doing this again. Because I always love to read “the story behind the story” I assume others do also. I don’t exactly know how I see myself in this expanding publishing environment—I think it has something to do with continuing to try to write a story well told while staying active in the social media community. A fine line to be sure.

BONUS QUESTION: Thanks to advances in technology and communication, you could literally “be” at a book club meetings anywhere in the world, just by sitting in front of your computer. Is this something you’re doing now or may consider doing going forward?

Absolutely. I’ve done it before and I love talking to my readers.

Great to know, Patti. Maybe sometime we can do a Google Hangout book event together. 🙂

Thanks for sharing with us today!

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Excerpt from And Then I Found You

There was, she found, a tunnel of darkness that she willingly entered as she pushed Luna from her body and into the world. Only the two of them existed—the crush of body cooperating outside time and space, allowing life to endure. The doctor, the nurse, and her mom were all in the room, yet they seemed somehow outside the world, another dimension.

Bearing down one final time, Katie was silent and resolute as Luna was born. For the briefest moment, the baby was simultaneously attached to Katie and in the world. The doctor cut the umbilical cord, releasing Luna from Katie’s body. It would be Katie who would have to release Luna from her life.

The nurse walked around the bed and placed a wide-eyed Luna into Katie’s arms. Katie looked down into her daughter’s face. “Oh, she’s the most perfect. Most perfect.” Luna’s hair was dark and thick, poking out in wet clumps after her journey. Her eyes were green, clear: Jack’s eyes. If grief had a sound, it was the silence of that birthing room.

Nicole walked over and took Luna from Katie’s arms, and the room filled with the deepest and most awful knowing: They would hold Luna this once and then she would be gone. Somewhere in the same hospital, a family waited to hold their new daughter.

Nicole held Luna and stroked her face, staring into her eyes. “We love you, baby Luna. We will, from this day forward, pray for you every day.” Nicole handed Luna to Katie.

Pictures were taken as if it was a normal birth—a day of celebration even—and then it was time to say good-bye.

“How do I do this?” Katie looked to her mom.

“I don’t know.”

Katie held her daughter, her heart yielded to the good-bye she hadn’t yet spoken. “I can’t go through this pain if there isn’t peace at the end. I can’t. Please promise me there is peace at the end of this.”

Nicole placed her hand on Katie’s forehead, but didn’t promise anything at all. The nurse entered the room with her own tears. The social worker stood at her side with papers and a sad smile. “Are you ready?”

Katie pulled back the blanket, memorizing every bend and curve and sinew of Luna’s body. Touching her. Kissing her.

Jack was there, at the hospital, waiting in a separate room to both meet and then say good-bye to his daughter. If a last living piece of Katie’s heart existed (which she wasn’t sure about) seeing Jack would have killed it.

“You, Luna, are beautiful and special and you are going to have a wonderful mother and dad. I want you to grow up to know your God, and be surrounded in and by love. Be a good girl. I love you with every piece of me.” Katie kissed her daughter’s forehead as a tear dropped on Luna’s wild hair.

In a motion she would have thought impossible, Katie handed her child to the social worker and then reached into her bag. “I have something I want to send with her,” Katie said in a voice suffused with sorrow. She handed the social worker a small feather.

“It will be up to the parents whether they will take this,” the social worker said softly.

“I found it the first day I thought I might be pregnant. It’s my only gift.”

Nicole laid her head on the pillow next to her daughter. “Life is your gift, Katie.”

“Kate,” Katie said to her mom. “Now, from now on, call me Kate.”

Kate handed Luna to the nurse, and something felt torn away, a hollow feeling like her insides had been scooped out. A great wind could blow through her without hitting resistance.

Kate’s words echoed across the empty hospital room. “What will fill the place where you were?”

The question was meant for her daughter, who was now someone else’s child.

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Order it now!

High Res_Front Cover Art_AND THEN I FOUND YOU

Kate Vaughan is no stranger to tough choices. She’s made them before. Now it’s time to do it again.

Kate has a secret, something tucked away in her past. And she’s getting on with her life.  Her business is thriving. She has a strong relationship with her family, and a devoted boyfriend whom she wants to love with all her heart. If Kate had ever made a list, Rowan would fill the imagined boxes of a perfect mate. But she wants more than the perfect on paper relationship; she wants a real and imperfect love. That’s why, when Kate discovers the small velvet box hidden in Rowan’s drawer, she panics.

It always happens this way. Just when Kate thinks she can love, just when she believes she can conquer the fear, she’s filled with dread. And she wants more than anything to make this feeling go away. But how?

When the mistakes have been made and the running is over, it’s time to face the truth. Kate knows this. She understands that a woman can never undo what can never be undone. Yet, for the first time in her life she also knows that she won’t fully love until she confronts those from her past. It’s time to act.

Can she do it? Can she travel to the place where it all began, to the one who shares her secret? Can the lost ever become found?

And Then I Found You gives new life to the phrase “inspired by a true story.” By traveling back to a painful time in her own family’s history, the author explores the limits of courage, and the price of a selfless act.

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Advance praise for And Then I Found You:

“Patti Callahan Henry … writes this story with eloquence and beauty. This is her most personal and her most powerful story to date.”
Huffington Post
“The smart path to a delicious read featuring all of the elements of love, loss, and familial tension without the schmaltzy tones and wistful cries for help a la Nicholas Sparks.”
The Atlantan
“The fact that it was based on a true life story made me love it even more. This love story is timeless…”
“It’s an emotional, heartwarming story…can’t wait to read more by this author.”
“AND THEN I FOUND YOU will capture your heart.”
“Passionate, stirring, and full of sentiment…”
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The Importance of Being Edited

The Importance of Being Edited

I talk about editing on my creative services website today. Come on by!

BAY ROAD CREATIVE LLC

***First published in Louise Wise’s Wise Words – Book Blogger, Revised and Updated***

When I tell people I’m a book editor, they generally reply: “Wow, you must be a great speller!” Well, the thing is, I’m an exceptional editor, but not the best speller. Gasp! How can that be? Keep reading, because I’m going to get into all the aspects of editing and, most importantly, why you cannot, cannot, CANNOT put your work out there without passing it under a set of editorial eyes–or several even. Even if you are able to spell antidisestablishmentarianism without looking it up. Or spellcheck. (And yeah, I needed both for that.)

First, the WHY.

Number 1:

It’s an important part of the process to self-edit, but in all truthfulness, you cannot successfully edit your own book unless you are a robot. It’s impossible for us as human beings to regard ourselves with complete objectivity. I’m…

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Five For Friday: Mim Eichler Rivas

Five For Friday: Mim Eichler Rivas

I can’t express how excited I am to have Mim Eichler Rivas in the Shed today! Some of you may know that in addition to being a novelist and blogger…and copywriter…and mom… I’m also a collaborator and ghostwriter.

Well, Mim is the Queen of Collaborators. Her stories, the stories she’s so masterfully and beautifully helped others to tell, New York Times bestselling stories, have been inspiring me for years. A couple of years ago, when I was assigned to be editor of one of her books, Saving Each Other, by Victoria Jackson and Ali Guthy, I was as excited and terrified as I could be. I, me… I was going to be editing Mim? Crazy! But true!

authorheadshotmim
Mim was fantastic. A total pro. The way she helped capture the voices of both Victoria and Ali and shape them on the page helped me be more sensitive to story and voice. Also, she’s really just a beautiful and very cool person, which is why I’m thrilled to pull her out from behind the curtain and share her mind and method with you!
Before we go any further, be sure to find and follow Mim online:
Now let’s meet her!
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1. Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what were some of your early career plans? And if so, is the kind of writing you do what you imagined yourself doing?
Until I was 28 years old, I didn’t consider writing as something I could do to make a living.  Writing was what I did to live—like breathing—as a way of keeping track and making sense out of the incongruous parts of my life.  For most of those years, my focus was on making it as an actress. But after graduating with a major in theatre from Sarah Lawrence College and heading to LA, I soon confronted the unfortunate reality that Hollywood didn’t have a niche for me.  I was too quirky to be the girl next door and too much of an ingénue to play offbeat.  Fortunately, I had studied fiction writing with E.L. Doctorow and when the time came to find something else that I could love as much as acting, my true calling was right there in my back pocket waiting for me.  When I began to take myself seriously as a writer, my interest was definitely more in fiction and film than in the calling card I have earned as a narrative non-fiction author.  That said, I ultimately see myself as a storyteller—whether I’m acting or writing, regardless of the genre.
happyness

2. You’ve worked on some pretty big collaborations, Chris Gardner’s The Pursuit of Happyness and its sequel, Start Where You Are, Antwone Fisher’s Finding Fish, and Becoming Dr. Q with Alfredo Quinones; you collaborated with Victoria Jackson and Ali Guthy’s Saving Each Other. I know for me as an editor, spending a lot of time in other people’s stories has helped me better see “the big picture” when it comes to my own life and how circumstances, good or bad, are really just passages or chapters of a bigger “book.” How has helping tell other people’s stories affected you?

What I learned early on in helping other people find or understand the narrative through-line that connects the different chapters of their lives is that most of us resist becoming the protagonists of our own stories.  Books have beginnings, middles, and ends.  Life doesn’t.  However, when we take a step back to look at the why’s and how’s of our experiences, it becomes easier to see how our choices, good or bad, contribute or detract from our happiness.  Or happyness as Chris Gardner would say. In that way, I agree, helping others tell their stories has helped me to see that bigger picture, and to take ownership—or authorship—of my life.  I also feel so lucky to be that fly on the wall in situations I will never have in my own life and to come away incredibly inspired and motivated. On Saving Each Other, for example, after spending time with mother/daughter authors Victoria Jackson & Ali Guthy, I took away insights that guided me to be a better mother to my son. When I worked with NBA superstar Dwyane Wade on his memoir, A Father First, a NY Times bestseller, I got a crash course in why you never give up on the people you love or on yourself.  On the downside of helping others tell their stories, I too often shirk my own stories and my own writing projects.

saving each other
3. Can you tell us about your process of working with others to bring their “voice” to the page? Do you have a method that works for all, or do you find yourself re-inventing with each project?
Every time I take on a writing-for-hire job, the overall process is different.  Sometimes I’m shaping or reshaping material that’s already been written; sometimes we’re starting with a blank page.  In all cases, however, the first hurdle is to make sure the narrative voice has what I call the three A’s – Authority, Authenticity, and Accessibility.  A lot of times the person who has a story to tell or an expertise to offer has repeated themselves so much that I approach capturing their voice by trying to ask questions they haven’t been asked before. So before we delve into shaping the story itself, I do a couple of non-linear interviews with games and exercises I imported from my training in acting and comedy improv—where the challenge is to find a voice for the character.  This is the same approach I teach in workshops with writing students who are seeking to develop their own voices on the page.  The challenge for me is to recognize the DNA of the person’s voice and be able to clone it in scenes and narrative.  I also have to work hard to get my own voice out of the way.
start where you are
4. Many of my readers are mothers, many of them wanting to write more but not having a clue how they’d ever have time for it! How have you juggled writing with motherhood, and if there’s anything you could change about it, what would that be?
All of us, moms or not, juggle and struggle in trying to find that balance between family and work as well as between doing what we really want to do and what we do to make a living.  On the one hand, I feel so fortunate to be able to do what I love and make a living; on the other, as a free-lancer who has a home office, I have done a pretty bad job at creating boundaries between work time and family time.  We have had so many family vacations where my husband and son were off enjoying wherever we were and I was in the hotel room churning out pages.  The best thing that I did early in my son’s life was to create stories with him.  My husband, an actor, and I volunteered in the classroom by teaching storytelling and acting.  We started when he was in kindergarten and continued through his senior year in high school.  One of the perks of being a writer is that there is no date stamp or retirement age looming ahead. So the thing that I would want to change for myself would be to slow down and enjoy more vacations and do more to celebrate accomplishments as a mom.
findingfish
5. What’s the best advice can you give other writers looking to break into collaboration writing?Write a killer proposal on spec for someone else.  In every community there is someone who has enough of a platform to prove he/she can sell books, along with a riveting story or unique expertise.  That person may in fact hire you to write the proposal or better yet decide to self-publish and hire you to write the whole book; so you won’t necessarily have to do it on spec.  But the publishing industry will look to see that you have a track record and writing on spec is the best way to overcome that hurdle.  Being known for writing killer proposals is also a goldmine.

BONUS QUESTION: Can you share for us what’s next for you?

I’m working on a big sprawling novel, historical fiction, about a self-improvement circle formed by six mill girls in 1841 New England. It’s based on their actual journal. The documentary filmmaker David Hoffman, who brought me the story that became my non-fiction book, Beautiful Jim Key, brought me the journal and will hopefully be doing a documentary based on this fascinating, much overlooked period.

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Sounds exciting! Glad to hear you’re working on fiction. I can’t wait to read it! Thanks so much for visiting, Mim!
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Order Beautiful Jim Key~~~~~~~~~~~~~MIM EICHLER RIVAS is the best-selling author/co-author of The Pursuit of Happyness with Chris Gardner, Becoming Dr. Q with Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, Finding Fish with Antwone Fisher, and Beautiful Jim Key, soon to be a major motion picture. She and her husband, actor/activist/author Victor Rivas Rivers live in Hermosa Beach, California, and have one son, Eli, a rising sophomore at Harvard.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

162762_2662032389151_5076510_nLet’s connect! Find me on Twitter and Facebook, and email me: francine@francinelasala.com.

“Where I Write,” by Zanna Mackenzie

“Where I Write,” by Zanna Mackenzie

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I’m self-employed and work from home as an editor and proof reader of business publications so where I write my novels is also ‘my office’ for my day job.

Our living area is all open plan so the kitchen leads into the extension, with a sun room off, and the extension links in to the lounge area. My office is right in the middle of all this, in the centre of the house and my husband, also self-employed, works from home some of the time too, but generally I don’t need peace and quiet for my work – unless I’m having to concentrate on proof reading for the business publications or edits for my publishers for the novels. I tried working in the spare room but found I preferred to be ‘in the house’ rather than be off in a separate area. Being in the centre of the house has its advantages – it’s next to the kitchen for making cups of tea and snacking (!) and handy for cooking dinner whilst dashing back and forth to the computer (yes, food does get burnt!). My desk is also next to a window so I have views of the garden which I love.

When I don’t need the computer and am writing with pad and pen, or editing off screen, for a change of scene, I like to head to the sunroom with views of the garden, a comfy chair and a footstool – I have to share it with two of the dogs though!

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frontMake A Wish…

Kat can’t help wishing there was more to life than this. What happened to her dream job? What happened with Nathan?

Summer is wondering where her life is going too… battling the developers of a controversial housing estate and working out why boyfriend Rob is increasingly distant.

When the developers win the battle and move into town everyone’s life is turned upside down.

Kat meets building site project manager Alex. She enjoys his company far too much, even though he’s on the town’s most hated list.

Summer meets Tom who has plenty of relationship troubles of his own, so things could get really complicated.

Soon everyone is keeping secrets, lives change and hearts are broken. Is everything falling apart, or does life just work in mysterious ways…

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Start Reading Now! Excerpt from How Do You Spell Love?
Kat pushed the last of the cottage cheese and shrimp sandwiches into the cool box and slammed the van door shut. As if her life wasn’t enough of a disaster zone as it was – no money, lousy job, losing Nathan, having to move back home to live with her parents – now this had to go and happen. Plus, of course, it didn’t help that today she was feeling shattered after spending half the night chanting some ridiculous protection spell in the middle of the allotments with Summer.

Cringing as a van full of builders stopped at the nearby traffic lights, Kat braced herself for the inevitable. After the standard-issue wolf whistles had drifted across from their van, next came the leered, “Wouldn’t argue with that, love!” as one of them nodded towards her sparkling clean van, parked neatly at the curb. The words “A Bit of Crumpet on the Road” emblazoned down the side in deep purple, glittery lettering. Not for the first time Kat cursed her boss Janice for calling her bakery-cum-deli that name.

Kat sighed, well it certainly drew comments from the public and from their customers, not always welcome ones, but as Janice was always keen to point out, any kind of publicity and attention was, in her eyes, good publicity and attention.

Pulling her navy and white striped apron more tightly around her T-shirt and shorts, Kat ignored the builders and climbed into her van to begin that morning’s deliveries. As she indicated to pull out into the busy street in Luisborough, she mulled over the bad news – that she was to add the controversial Netherton Meadows housing development to her daily sandwich round.

Netherton Meadows. Yippee. If Summer found out, she’d surely be ostracised for fraternising with the environmental enemy. This was a development that pretty much everyone in Luisborough had fought against for getting on towards a year. It had been the focus of STW campaigns. It went against everything that Kat believed in environmental-wise. Everyone hated the Netherton Meadows developers. Except, it seemed, Janice, who was perfectly happy to, in her words, ‘supply yummy builders with yummy sandwiches.’

Lost in thought, Kat just managed to spot the approaching traffic lights had turned to red and hastily slammed a foot on the brake. The van lurched to a halt and several boxes of crisps and one of the cool boxes in the back tipped over. Damn. It was shaping up to be one of those days.

Two hours later Kat had visited all her usual drops, was extremely hot and bothered, and could put off going to Netherton Meadows no longer.

Driving through the assorted vans, machinery and portacabins Kat parked next to a building marked as being the Site Office and hit the button on the dashboard. Tinkling chimes filled the air as Kat climbed from the driver’s seat and made to open the back doors of the vehicle. It was embarrassing enough that the van had the company name in large lettering along its side but, just to make sure that it received maximum exposure – and achieved maximum embarrassment – Janice had had some irritating chimes fitted to the vehicle too. Kat was under strict instructions to sound the chimes when she called at all of the sites where people came out to the van; such as they were about to at Netherton Meadows.

A man came down the steps of the office with a grin on his face and walked towards her. “Hi, you must be Kat.” He wedged a clipboard under his left arm and offered a hand to shake. “I’m Alex. Project manager for the site.”

“Hi,” mumbled Kat, spotting a group of hard-hat-clad builders advancing towards her with hungry expressions on their faces.

“Right, lads,” Alex turned towards the men. “This is Kat and she’s very kindly agreed to venture onto this site to bring you all your lunch. Don’t give her any hassle, OK?”

The men laughed and then nodded. “Sure, Alex. You’re the boss.”

Fifteen minutes later it seemed that all of the team at the development had made their sandwich, crisp and drink selections and sloped off to devour them in the sunshine. Only one of the builders, a portly man who must have been twenty years Kat’s senior, had pushed the boundaries a little, despite Alex’s earlier warning. As he’d selected a smoked salmon and cream cheese roll – a choice that had surprised Kat somewhat, having pegged him as a ham and cheese kind of guy – he’d asked Kat if she’d fancy joining him for a drink sometime. She’d politely declined his offer, saying that she had a boyfriend. No need to tell him that, technically, she and Nathan were no longer an item. No need to tell him why either.

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ZannaMZANNA MACKENZIE lives in the UK with her husband, 4 dogs, a vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever expanding library of books waiting to be read. Being a freelance writer and editor of business publications is her ‘day job’ but, at every opportunity, she can be found scribbling down notes on scenes for whatever novel she’s working on. She loves it when the characters in her novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from the original plot! Formerly a travel agent and therapist (she has qualifications in clinical aromatherapy, crystal healing, naturopathic nutrition and herbalism) she loves walking the dogs and gardening – that’s when she’s not writing or reading! Zanna has written two novels, The Love Programme (Astraea Press) and How Do You Spell Love? (Crooked Cat Publishing), both published in 2013.

Find Zanna online:

Blog

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Amazon Author Page

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162762_2662032389151_5076510_nLet’s connect! Find me on Twitter and Facebook, and email me: francine@francinelasala.com.

Rocking the Book Blurb

Rocking the Book Blurb

Today I’m talking about book blurbs over at my Francine LaSala Productions site. Come on by and take a look!

BAY ROAD CREATIVE LLC

It’s sort of a universal truth for authors… We can knock out  60, 80, 100 thousand awesome words of story. But when it comes down to writing our cover blurbs, generally around 150 words, we feel overwhelmed, uninspired, even intimidated. Heck, as a professional copywriter, even I struggle with writing my own blurbs!

There’s more than one reason for this, and it has nothing to do with not being able to write. The main issue with blurbbing (we’re hereby making that a word) is that it’s almost impossible for any of us to create the kind of emotional distance from our work needed to see those elements that will most appeal to the would-be reader–who’s deciding to chose our books over a million others. We know why we love our books, but why should others love them?

Here are a few tips to help you craft a killer blurb:

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Meet the Indies!

Meet the Indies!

Excited to do a “meet and greet” with two awesome indie authors who will be doing the Stamford Author Event with me on August 10! Keep reading!

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Amy's Author PhotoAMY MILES
Amy Miles has been a carbaholic since birth and is hopelessly addicted to Dr. Pepper. When she’s not chatting with fans on Facebook she can be found goofing off with family, traveling or stomping her husband at Scrabble. She is an obsessive writer and an avid reader and loves to chat about all things books. Her teen paranormal romance books, Forbidden and Reckoning, have been on several of Amazon’s Top 100 lists as well as best seller lists in both America and the UK. Her highly anticipated final book in the Arotas Trilogy, Redemption, is due out 2013. She is currently hard at work on a two new series, The Rising Trilogy and The Remnant Trilogy.

Find Amy on Facebook: Amy Miles, Author

Twitter: @AmyMilesBooks

Want to check out Amy’s Books on Amazon?

Defiance Rising

Forbidden

Reckoning

 

Pulled Back Author PhotoDANIELLE BANNISTER
Danielle lives in Mid-Coast Maine with her two children and husband. She holds a BA in Theatre and a Masters in Writing and the Teaching of Writing. She has two novels currently out, Pulled and Pulled Back and is working on several others, including Pulled Back Again, releasing soon, and Netherworld, which she is co-writing with author Amy Miles, which is due out in December, 2014.  She also has a collection of short stories, brilliantly entitled, Short Shorts, and her work is also featured in several anthologies: GooseRiver Press 2012 Anthology and the Maine Writing Project’s anthology, Writious. Both titles are available on Amazon.  When not writing, she can be found pouring her heart out on the stage.

Follow Danielle on Facebook: Bannister Books

Blog: Danielle Bannister

Twitter: @getPulled

Pulled

Pulled Back

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Do you recall the first thing you wrote?

Amy:  I sure do. I began writing in grade school and had dragons attacking a fair maiden, who of course was later swept off her feet by a dashing knight.  Kissing always ensued.

Even at a young age, I was obsessed with danger, adventure and torturing my main characters.  My writing did eventually progress into writing my own version Nancy Drew Mysteries and then into the fantasy realms when I was in high school, but my passion for make-believe began long ago.

Danielle: The first real thing I wrote, honestly, was the first chapter of Pulled. I went to school to act, not write. Once I caught the writing bug though, I was hooked. It does mean, however, that I’m behind the curve in terms of learning about the craft so I’m trying to play catch up!

At what point did you start feeling it was okay to call yourself a ‘writer’?

Amy:  Calling myself a writer was never hard.  Thinking of myself as an author was a different story.  At what point are you considered an author?  When you write “The End” on your first rough draft, trudge through countless edits, and finally hit publish on Amazon Kindle?  Or is it when you complete your second book?  Third?  A series?

I think this question is answered differently for every writer.  For me, I didn’t feel like an established author until after my third book recently came out.  Probably had a lot to do with the fact that I take great pride in Defiance Rising, because it was technically my first book.  Now, I feel proud to tell people that I am a full time indie author.

Danielle: It took me awhile, actually. I was enrolled in the Maine branch of the National Writing Project, and I still couldn’t call myself an author. It wasn’t until I got in the mail a little white cup that said ‘Writer’ on it that I actually felt like I had the right to call myself a writer. So lame, I know!

Can you bring us back to the first book you published on Amazon. What was it and what was that experience like?

Amy: Oh my, it was a nightmare!  Probably not what you expected to hear, huh?  Seriously though, it was pure torture to figure out how to properly format a book, upload a book cover and do everything in-between.

People sometimes get the idea that being an author is glamorous, and trust me it has it’s great moments, but learning how to publish a book for the first time is not one of them.  I distinctly remember wanting to bash my head against a brick wall for days on end as I tried to wade through the complicated jargon.  I’m not exactly your most computer savvy person!

My first book I released was Defiance Rising.  It had a different cover and a completely different storyline.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that what I thought was a good book was far from marketable, so I pulled it off, did some more research and began writing Forbidden. It was a great lesson to learn and I’m thankful I learned early on.

Danielle:  Mine was Pulled. I didn’t know Amy at the time. I actually met her by asking her to review my book on her blog page. We became friends on Facebook after that and started chatting everyday.  But I digress; publishing for the first time on my own was terrifying! I really had NO clue what I was doing, to be honest and it took several months of tweaking Pulled before I was happy with the final product. I have learned a ton since that first publishing and will continue to learn with every book I write! There is a great support among Indie Authors who are, for the most part, eager to help new comer so that they don’t need to feel as lost as they did. At least, that’s how I’m seeing things.

With several novels between the two of you, what is some advice you might give those just starting out as an Indie Author?

Amy: The best advice I can give is to write what you love.  Yes, it’s important to know your market, but you don’t have to follow the money train to stand out.  Be yourself.  Do your thing and people will notice.

I learned a hard lesson with Forbidden on the importance of hiring an editor.  In the beginning, I didn’t have the money to pay for an editor so I figured I’d do it on my own.  Big mistake!  Editors don’t just look for typos, they look for character development, holes in your plot and inconsistencies that you are too close to see for yourself.  Find an editor that gets you and gets what you’re trying to accomplish and you will be thankful you did.

Another crucial point is your book cover. Pick something that captures the feeling of your book’s theme or character.  I have met my fair share of “book whores” and they will be the first to tell you they only buy a book if the cover appeals to them.

Danielle: The best advice I ever got was summed up by writer Ron Carlson, who said that want-to-be-writers are often ‘distracted by things they put in their own way, all day, all the time: leaving the room to get coffee, checking the mail, get coffee, walk the dogs, go to the bathroom, get coffee, look something up, get coffee. The writer is the one who stays in the room.’  I never knew how hard just being at the computer and actively writing actually was until I had to do it!

Okay, now to the good stuff.  You are currently working on a couple of projects. Can you tell us a little bit about them—spoiler free of course.

Amy: Oh my, I am always working on something.  Usually more than one thing at a time.
I’m currently diving into the final draft of a new novella, Faceless, that will jump start readers into my Cherished Hearts inspirational romance books.  I’ve always had a passion for inspirational romance, but up until this point have always remained in the fantasy realm.  It’s great to break out of that every once in a while. I’m also obsessing over the completion of my Arotas Trilogy. Redemption has a lot going on, with several POV shifts and tons of action so it’s kicking my butt right now!  As soon as I finish with Redemption, I will be jumping straight into the prequel, Immortal Rose. I hadn’t actually planned on writing this book but so many of my fans wanted to know Fane and Roseline’s tale, so I caved.

I’m also currently working with Danielle on Netherworld. This joint venture has been a lot of fun, melding romance with fantasy and of course banshees ROCK!  I’ve having a blast designing the underworld and playing around with some mythology.  It’s a good thing Danielle loves writing about human’s cause there is no way I would give up working on the hot and steamy, Aed, god of the Netherworld!

Danielle: Amy and I came up with the idea to co-write Netherworld almost as a joke. A sort of ‘We should totally write a book together!’ But the more we chatted about it, the more it makes sense. We write in completely different genres, I do romance she does fantasy. So we thought what if we had a fantasy sort of character fall in love with a human character?  We tossed out some ideas and soon the Netherworld was born. We’ve just started drafting the early scenes and I’m really excited about what we’re coming up with! Netherworld puts us into the world of the Banshees, the mythical creatures sent to carry the dead to the other side. The Banshee’s are supposed to be unseen by the living, but one mortal sees a banshee. What happens when they fall in love?  It’s soooooo cool!  She writes the fantasy parts, I write the human parts! It’s perfect!

Between the two of you, you have a pretty large fan base. What would you say is the ONE question they want answered most, and are you willing to answer it here?

Amy: There are several burning questions that I hear quite often.  Will Gabriel and Roseline end up together? Does Sadie live?  Will Bastien return in the sequel to Defiance Rising?  Am I Team Bastien of Team Eamon!

If you have read my books, you know that I don’t make romance easy for my characters.  Life happens, people get hurt, hearts get broken.  I love a happy ending just like the next gal, but I also like realism.  If my characters are going to be happy in the end, they are going to go through some tribulation along the way.  Also…I hate to be predictable.

Danielle: I think most people want to know if Pulled Back Again will finally deliver the happily ever after ending they are looking for. All I can say is…maybe? Ha!

You are both going to an event in Tennessee in January called UtopYA. Can you give the readers a little info about what this is and why it’s so cool?

Danielle: I’ll let Amy handle this one!

Amy: UtopYa is one of many conventions that are being held this year to enable readers to meet up with some of their fave authors.  For those of you who were lucky enough to get tickets before it sold out, you will get to attend panels, chat with authors, buy books and attend a fabulous award’s ceremony.  I, for one, can’t wait to go dress shopping for this event!

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Thanks for coming by, ladies! Please check out their books:

Pulle Cover AprilBUY NOW!

Pulled Back AprilBUY NOW!

Forbidden CoverBUY NOW!

ReckoningBUY NOW!

RedemptionCOMING SOON!

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162762_2662032389151_5076510_nLet’s connect! Find me on Twitter and Facebook, and email me: francine@francinelasala.com.

Harriet’s Helpful Hints – For Mothers Everywhere!

Harriet’s Helpful Hints – For Mothers Everywhere!

My "dream" Harriet, should GIRL ever become a movie. (Are you listening, Hollywood?)
My “dream” Harriet, should GIRL ever become a movie. (Are you listening, Hollywood?)

To wrap my “Month of Mothers,” here’s some great advice from one of my favorite characters. Learn something useful–and enjoy!

How to be a domestic goddess! Or at least pretend to be one.

by Harriet Saunders

**First published by Louise Wise, Wise Words – Book Blogger January 18, 2013**

Squalor is the new black.
Who says that? I say that! In this day and age, it’s much more important to over-parent your kids. To get down on that filthy floor and play with them rather than clean it. Of course there does get to be a point when cleaning is necessary. In that case…

Never clean your house in full.
Straightening up is really all you ever have to do, most of the time. Just let the neighbors’ kids leave their shoes on when they come over so you don’t have to explain to their parents why their once-white socks are as black as your soul. (If you don’t care about their stupid parents and what they think, by all means have those kids run around in their socks and pick up some of the dirt and grime while they’re at it. Mop, schmop. Am I right?!)

If you must scrub, don’t wimp out on the chemicals.
Especially if you clean as infrequently as I do. As well-meaning as vinegar and baking soda are, they’re just not going to cut it on a toilet bowl ring that’s had months to set in. No. You’re going to have to go with the strongest cleaning chemicals you can legally buy. If they burn your skin and your throat when you breathe them in, you’re doing it right.

If you want your husband to help you clean, clean naked.
You know you can get your husband to do whatever you want him to as long as you ask him when you’re naked. Also, cleaning naked means no bleach stains or other crap on your clothes, which is kind of a plus because god knows, if you’re hanging around your house with your kids all day, your clothes are crappy enough as they are.

Don’t have rugs.
Why? Listen to these words. See these words in your carpets. Play-Dough. Mashed potatoes. Rice. Grape juice. What else do you need to know?

Do “all-socks” loads of laundry.
This one may seem practical, smart even, but I have to be honest with you, it’s just plain lazy. The whole thing about where do the socks disappear to… It’s no great mystery, folks. They get tangled up in your other clothes. Speaking of socks, instead of going through the torture of sorting and balling them up, when they come out of the dryer just pile them into a giant tub you set in the hallway and let everyone fend for themselves. It’s great fun! Especially in the morning.

Stain removal.
Fact: I haven’t been able to keep even a single article of clothing unstained since I got married. If I went to task to remove all the stains in my clothes, there would be no time for drinking. So what’s my solution? I don’t bother–and neither should you. Look, any mother who walks around in fresh, crisp, immaculate clothing is just doing a disservice to every other mother out there. If there’s a stain on your shirt, wear a dramatic scarf or necklace to divert attention. (Unless the stain is by your neck. Then I guess you’re probably screwed.)

Let’s see… Let’s see. Oh yeah. Sewing!
Is never worth it. Never.

Dogs make excellent vacuum cleaners.
Or so I am told. Sammy, my husband, won’t give in to a dog right now. As if he’s the one who’s going to take care of it! A dog is a great investment–and cheap if you’re smart about it. If you have enough kids under the age of eight in your house, throwing and dropping food all over the place, you won’t even need to buy dog food. Think about it.

Have an even number of kids.
I don’t know why more people don’t know this, honestly. When you have an odd number, someone’s always left out, and you can bet that little bugger’s going to be up your butt looking for a bud. Give the kid a bud. (Then go grab yourself a Bud or a bottle of gin or whatever’s going to get you through having all those kids.)

Make dinners that seem like more effort than they are.
I’ve learned you can make pretty good things with practically no involvement on your part, and also make the people who live with you think they’re getting something special while you’re at it. (Be careful of cooking too well, however. You don’t want them to expect it.) Here’s a recipe:

Pasta With Meat
(I suppose you could say “bolognese” if you’re feeling fancy, but that seems like a lot of trouble to me. And I’m sure more goes into bolognese, but I don’t really care.)

You need this stuff:
Olive oil
A sweet onion, roughly chopped (some people call this “country-style” but let’s be honest that it’s “lazy-style”, okay?)
Some garlic (I’m not going to tell you how much, that’s between you and your spouse)
A splash of wine, red or white (you know, whatever’s open)*
A can of crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper
A package of ground beef
A box of pasta

Here’s what to do with it:
1.  Toss into a pot: olive oil, onion, and garlic. When it all gets nice and soft and hot, splash in wine, then pour in the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer.
2.  Cook pasta in boiling water for however long it says on the box. (If you made the pasta fresh by hand, you’re not doing this right.)
3.  Brown meat in a frying pan. Don’t drain it. (Blah, blah, blah health. But who cares. It’s better this way.)
4.  Now: The sauce goes in to the meat; they both go over the pasta. And you’re done.

Did you just make special “homemade” tomato sauce? You bet you did, you clever thing! Now pat yourself on the back, pour yourself a drink, and go catch up on The Real Housewives of Whatever.
 
* Please note: Dry vermouth is very cheap and not that tasty. And if you, like me, prefer to save every last drop of your wine for drinking, I say buy a giant bottle of dry vermouth, keep it for cooking, and be done with it. (If you do ever run out of wine or vodka, you can probably tolerate some vermouth over ice. I’ve suffered it. I didn’t die. Drop a couple of olives in there and it will almost kill the taste. And remember, it’s cheap! So why not?)

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Note: Harriet Saunders is a supporting character from my second novel, The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything. As one of my main character Mina’s only friends, harried Harriet helps ground Mina in her life–in fun and irreverent ways! The character herself is a cocktail / composite of all the frazzled mothers I have known, myself included. In this “Anything Goes” post I did for Louise Wise’s WISE WORDS, I imagined someone had asked Harriet to write a home-making column, sharing some of her best tips for domestic bliss. Please leave me comment sharing one of your most incredible household hints, helpful or horrid. I’d love to hear them!

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I just wanted to take a quick moment to thank all the moms who took part in this promotion! (Find a list and links by clicking here!)

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539286_10200439346445319_1446602713_nMina Clark is losing her mind—or maybe it’s already gone. She isn’t quite sure. Feeling displaced in her over-priced McMansion-dotted suburban world, she is grappling not only with deep debt, a mostly absent husband, and her playground-terrorizer 3-year old Emma, but also with a significant amnesia she can’t shake—a “temporary” condition now going on several years, brought on by a traumatic event she cannot remember, and which everyone around her feels is best forgotten. A routine trip to the dentist changes everything for Mina, and suddenly she’s not sure if what’s happening is real, of if she’s just now fully losing her mind… especially when she realizes the only person she thought she could trust is the one she fears the most.

BUY IT NOW!

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162762_2662032389151_5076510_nLet’s connect! Find me on Twitter and Facebook, and email me: francine@francinelasala.com.