The Writer’s Online Presence: A Guest Post from Marianne Sciucco

Welcome, Tomato Pie Fans! I’m taking a hiatus from blogging to finish the sequel to DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME. Meanwhile, I have a series of guest bloggers taking care of the place. Let’s hear from today’s guest, Marianne Sciucco.

How Important Is An Author’s Online Presence?

All the publishing pros will tell you that having an active online presence is an author’s most important asset. How else will readers discover your work? How will those interested in what you have to offer locate you? How else will you stand out from the rest of the crowd? I recently experienced firsthand how imperative it is for an author to be available to an audience online. I consider myself to have a solid online presence and what I saw when I researched other authors baffled me.

A few weeks ago while at work at a community college in upstate New York, I got a call from Dorene who works in our continuing adult education program. She asked me to help her locate the author of a book she wanted to purchase for a class. She wanted to buy the books directly from him. I teach a few classes in self-publishing at the college, so although I am officially a campus nurse Dorene figured I’d be able to help.

“Did you look him up on LinkedIn?” I asked.

“No,” she said. “Great idea.”

We looked for him on the site and came up with nothing. We checked his Amazon page, but there was no author profile and no contact information listed. We looked for him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, all the usual places authors set up an online presence, but did not find him. We did a Google search and came full circle back to the Amazon page with no info.

Stumped, I apologized and said, “I guess he doesn’t want to be found.”

She was disappointed. “We’re looking at another book, and that author is approachable, so I guess we’ll go with him.”

I felt bad for the author who lost the opportunity to put his book into the hands of a classroom of students. If he had simply set up an author profile on his Amazon page with contact info, he would have made a nice sale.

Not long after that I was talking to Gail, my contact at Thrall Library who works with me to coordinate the library’s Local Authors & Illustrators Showcase, coming in September. She had an author she wanted me to invite to the event. She gave me a slip of paper with his name and phone number.

Before I contact an author for this event, I check him out online to make sure he fits with the program and to see what he can offer to our patrons and the other authors attending. And although I had a phone number for this guy, I wanted an email address, my preferred method of communication for this event. As you can imagine, coordinating 20+ authors can become confusing and overwhelming. An email trail keeps me organized and sane.

So I did my research on all the usual sites and discovered this author had no online presence other than his Amazon page with no author profile. Bummer. I resorted to calling him, and after we played some telephone tag he agreed to participate. He gave me an email address, and we are now communicating online, although he says he does not have internet service at home and visits his local library once a week to take care of his email.

After our initial conversation, I shook my head, amazed that the author of five print books would opt out of an online presence. We live and work in a global market. There’s no telling who might be interested in what this author has published or who might want to invite him to an event where he can share his work with an audience and perhaps sell a few copies. Again, a profile on his Amazon page including contact info is all he needs to avail himself of opportunities.

A year ago, I attended a local author event at another library (it’s where I got the idea for the event in my hometown). I met a few authors of children’s books. I’m in need of these authors to round out my program so I thought I’d invite them to join us. I had the event program and lots of info I’d collected (bookmarks and postcards) from these authors and sat down to do some investigating.

I was shocked to find that although many of them had some online presence – a Facebook or Twitter page,  a website –  many of them were inactive and had not posted or updated their sites in months. What was going on? Were they interested in getting out there with their books? None of them had listed an email address. Of the five I checked out, two looked promising, so I reached out to them via their Facebook accounts, but we are not friends, and such messages get sent to a secondary inbox. I learned this when I reached out to a blogger for a possible interview and didn’t get a reply for months because she didn’t realize she had mail waiting for her in this box. I imagine my messages to these authors will lie undiscovered, and they will miss out on an opportunity to connect with readers and other authors, and sell books.

One more story regarding my locating authors for this event: I learned of a local guy with a new book and decided to invite him. He had a great online presence – Amazon profile, and Facebook, Twitter, and About Me pages – but I couldn’t find an email address. I decided to contact him via Twitter and he responded! Happy ending! But I shouldn’t have to work so hard to get in touch with someone who has recently published a book.

What’s the moral of these stories? If you’re serious about your career as an author, indie or otherwise, it’s imperative you establish an online presence. You can do this for free. At the very least, build an Amazon author profile. Then start a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, About Me, or Google+ page (one or all, your choice, but at least one.) Create a webpage, your home on the web. On every site, include an email address. If you don’t want to use your personal email address establish a new account specifically for your author activities. Remember to check it daily. Update your Amazon page and social media pages frequently. It’s important to look active and engaged to potential readers and those looking to establish a relationship.

Publishing is a competitive business. Discoverability in a field of millions is difficult. Don’t make it hard for people to find you. Not everyone will be as patient and determined to track down an author as I am.

Marianne Sciucco, Author

Marianne Sciucco is not a nurse who writes but a writer who happens to be a nurse. A lover of words and books, she dreamed of becoming an author when she grew up, but became a nurse to avoid poverty. She later brought her two passions together and writes about the intricate lives of people struggling with health and family issues. Her debut novel, Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story, is a Kindle bestseller, IndieReader Approved, a BookWorks featured book, a Library Journal SELF-e Selection, and winner of IndieReCon’s Best Indie Novel Award, 2014. A native Bostonian, she lives in New York’s Hudson Valley, and when not writing works as a campus nurse at a community college. She loves, books, beaches, and craft beer, and especially enjoys the three of them together.

Here’s more about Blue Hydrangeas by Marianne Sciucco:

Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story by Marianne Sciucco

What if the person who knew you best and loved you most forgot your face, and couldn’t remember your name?

A nursing facility is everyone’s solution for what to do about Sara, but her husband Jack can’t bear to live without her. He is committed to saving his marriage, his wife, and their life together from the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease. He and Sara retired years ago to the house of their dreams and operated it as a Cape Cod bed and breakfast named Blue Hydrangeas. Jack has made an impossible promise: He and Sara will stay together in their beautiful home no matter what the disease brings. However, after nine years of selfless caregiving complicated by her progressing Alzheimer’s and his own failing heart, he finally admits he can no longer care for her at home. With reluctance, he arranges to admit her to an assisted living facility. But on the day of admission, Sara is having one of her few good days and he is unable to follow through. Instead, he takes them on an impulsive journey to confront their past and reclaim their future. In the end, he realizes that staying together at any cost is what truly matters.

On Amazon + Amazon UK + An Interview with  Author Marianne Sciucco + Audible + Barnes and Noble + Facebook  + Goodreads + Google+ + iBooks + Kobo + Linked In + Nook + Pinterest + Scribd + Twitter + Website

Interview with Annie Douglass Lima

Today I bring you an interview with author Annie Douglass Lima.  Her latest book is out, so let’s hear more about it.  CollarCavvarach

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire’s most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie’s escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time.  With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?

What is the Collar for, and what is a Cavvarach?

The story is set in a world very much like our own, with just a few major differences.  One is that slavery is legal there.  Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone.  Any slave attempting to escape faces the dilemma of how and where to illegally get their collar removed (a crime punishable by enslavement for the remover).

Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil.  It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with “have a rack”), an unsharpened weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge.  Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades.  You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.

 
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Tell us about your most recent work.  How did the idea come to you?  How long did it take you from start to publication? 

I’ve just published a young adult action adventure novel called The Collar and the Cavvarach.  It takes place in a world very much like our own, except that slavery is legal there.  The main character, Bensin, is a teenage slave who is trying to protect and free his younger sister Ellie.  He’s an athlete, and he competes in a martial art called cavvara shil, with all the prize money going to his owner, of course.

It’s hard to say exactly how the idea came to me.  It just grew gradually in my mind until Bensin and the others were as real to me as my family and friends.  I drafted the novel in November 2013 for National Novel Writing Month, and I’ve been working on editing and polishing it ever since.

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Annie Douglass LimaIdea, research, editing, design…What was your favorite part of working on this project? What was your least favorite? 

My favorite part was working on certain scenes in the first draft that just seemed to come to me on their own.  Though I had the story pretty well planned out before I began, there were some surprises along the way.  For example, a character named Kalgan Shigo, a City Watch Officer (the equivalent of a police officer) grew in a way that I did not anticipate.  I had planned two little scenes for him, one at the beginning and another near the end, and that was all.  His purpose in the story was to make it more difficult for Bensin to reach his goals.  But Officer Shigo decided he wanted more of a role than that, and he stepped forward and claimed it.  I don’t want to give anything away, but he appears a number of times now, and does much more than just make Bensin’s life harder.  The story is much better this way than it would have been, and it was exciting to watch that change.

My least favorite was the research I had to do before I could write certain parts.  Even though my book is fiction, I had to get my facts straight!  For example, since one of my characters is an athlete and another is his coach, I spent a lot of time researching training and workouts, healthy diets for athletes, types of martial arts, names of specific types of kicks, and so on.  Even though the martial art Bensin practices is made up, I wanted it – and his training regimen – to sound realistic.

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Tell us about how this work came to reach us:  did you go the self-publishing route or did you contract with a publisher?  What was that like? 

I chose to self publish.  I like having control over all aspects of my writing and publishing.

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What other things in your life do you juggle in order to keep at your writing?  How’s that working out for you?

I’m a fulltime teacher (5th grade), and while I love my day job, it leaves me with a lot less time to write than I’d like.  Most of my writing happens during school vacations and weekends, except on the rare occasions when I have enough brainpower left in the evenings.  This year I’ve started getting up early to put in an hour or so of writing before school, and that’s been working pretty well.

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Setting, characters, plot, mood, tone… What would you describe as your greatest strength as a writer?

I think my greatest strength is creating characters and their dialog.  Most of the time I find it easy to get into their heads and know what they’re thinking, what they would say to each other in any given situation.

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Conversely, if you could change one thing about your writing style, what would it be and why? 

I would love to do better at making my characters’ lives worse.  Sounds awful, doesn’t it?  😉  A good story involves lots of problems for the characters, and I think sometimes I tend to make things a little too easy for them at first.  I mean, they’re so close to my heart that I want everything to go well for them, you know?  But I keep finding myself having to go back and change things to make it harder for them to attain their goals. It makes for a stronger story, but they would probably hate me for it if they ever met me!

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Lastly, where can we find your work, a. k. a. give you our hard earned cash? 

Click on the links below to view or purchase The Collar and the Cavvarach for:

Additionally, here are some ways you can connect with me online:

7QT: An Interview with A. K. Frailey

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It’s Friday, and it’s 7 Quick Takes over at Jennifer’s very own ConversionDiary.com!21

Today is my pleasure and honor to have a visit with Catholic author A. K. Frailey.

Author A. K. Frailey

Ann has a B. S. in Elementary Education and has taught in Milwaukee, WI, Chicago, IL, Los Angeles, CA, Wood River, IL and for Peace Corps in the Philippines. She was married to John Frailey who was an educator for many years. John died from cancer complication December 2013. Ann has eight children and she home educates them while maintaining a rural home – including chickens, bees, cats and dogs, apparently in early retirement.  Ann has a B. S. in Elementary Education and has taught in Milwaukee, WI, Chicago, IL, Los Angeles, CA, Wood River, IL and for Peace Corps in the Philippines. She was married to John Frailey who was an educator for many years. John died from cancer complication December 2013. Ann has eight children and she home educates them while maintaining a rural home – including chickens, bees, cats and dogs, apparently in early retirement

Ann is one of the first Catholic writers I really got to consider a friend after meeting her through the Catholic Writers Guild.  Her work is shot through with the dignity and integrity with which she lives her whole life, and you’ll be honored to get to know her too.  Let’s meet A. K. Frailey!

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Tell us about your most recent work.  How did the idea come to you?  How long did it take you from start to publication?  

I wrote Georgios as a continuation in the “Conversation with God” theme I have in all my books.  It is a story about a young Greek boy named Georgios, growing up on the island of Patmos which is where St. John the Apostle spent some years in exile. I read an article about the island and thought it would be a great setting for a story.  It took me about a year to do the research and write the first draft of the story.  Then it took some months to get it edited and revised.

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Idea, research, editing, design…What was your favorite part of working on this project? What was your least favorite?  

I enjoy coming up with the initial plot outline and then beginning the writing process after getting some research in place to back up the setting and the physical aspects of the story – like what people eat, how they dress and what kind of housing they might live in. My favorite part is when the characters begin to take over, usually somewhere near the middle of the book.  The characters become so real that they act the story out according to their own nature and I just come along for the ride.

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Tell us about how this work came to reach us:  did you go the self-publishing route or did you contract with a publisher?  What was that like?

I am a self-published author and I learned about this blog from the Catholic Writer’s guild.  I have met a lot of supportive writers through the guild and have become a better writer for the experience. Self-publishing is tough since you have to do or hire someone to do pretty much everything from writing the story to editing, and marketing.  But I do believe that as a self-published author I know the process from start to finish, and I not only have better skills as an author now, but I certainly appreciate other authors more honestly.

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What other things in your life do you juggle in order to keep at your writing?  How’s that working out for you?

In addition to being an author I also home school my children.  I have eight children, though one is in college now.  I have had to learn how to balance my priorities so that I can fulfill my vocation as mother and manage my job as educator, yet still have some time for writing and the whole self-publishing package.  It is a difficult balance to maintain, but it is worth the effort.  I believe that my writing has made me a better person, more thoughtful and introspective, and also more certain of what I think is really important.  I have learned to take necessary risks and to accept defeat.  But I have also learned to keep moving forward even when things are beyond difficult.

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Setting, characters, plot, mood, tone… What would you describe as your greatest strength as a writer?

I definitely focus on character.  I love humanity and I am constantly encountering amazing stories of real life heroes who strive for the best in themselves and others despite incredible obstacles.  When I engage in the process of forming a character I reflect the reality that I know to be true and there is a point when something new happens – something that is beyond my conscious thought – and it is there, that I as the author, learn something important. I love that.  I need that.

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Conversely, if you could change one thing about your writing style, what would it be and why?

I wish I knew the secret world of commas and punctuation better…  It is morass which sends me into grammar hell on occasion.

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Lastly, where can we find your work, a. k. a. give you our hard earned cash?

My books are all available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble as both paperback and e-books.  There are other book sites which carry them but you’d have to Google them…

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7QT: Interview With Author Amanda Lauer

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Welcome to Seven Quick Takes Friday, hosted by the lovely and talented Jennifer over at Conversion Diary  Jess at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Remember when I reviewed this book?

The author of A World Such as Heaven Intended has stopped by the tomato pie shop to have a little chat with us.  Let’s welcome Amanda Lauer!

ALauer-headshotAn avid reader and history buff since childhood, Amanda Lauer fulfilled a lifelong goal with the publication of her debut novel, A World Such as Heaven Intended. Lauer learned the technical aspects of writing as a proofreader in the insurance, newspaper and collegiate arenas. Over the last ten years she has had more than twelve-hundred articles published in newspapers and magazines throughout the United States. Lauer is the co-author of Celebrate Appleton, A 150th Birthday Photo Album, and contributed to the books Expressions of ITP…Inside Stories, and Living Virtuously — Keeping Your Heart and Home. In addition to her writing career, Lauer is involved in the health and wellness industry, striving to spread the message of true health — physical, mental and financial. Residents of northeast Wisconsin, Lauer and her husband John have been married thirty-three years. They are involved in their church and community and in their spare time travel for business and pleasure, play golf, run, bike, read, and further their education in the area of personal development. They are the proud parents of four young adult children, have a son-in-law and daughter-in-law, and are grandparents to one grandson.

And now, without further ado, here’s all you ever wanted to know about Amanda Lauer and A World Such as Heaven Intended!

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Tell us about your most recent work.  How did the idea come to you?  How long did it take you from start to publication? 
My debut novel, A World Such as Heaven Intended, was released October, 2014. I’m a freelance writer by trade and one of my jobs is writing for local newspapers. I had written an article about a family’s Civil War memorabilia and the gentleman told me the story of his great-great-great uncle’s experiences in the Civil War and I thought it could be the basis for an excellent book someday. An acquaintance of mine was working on a book herself and she challenged me to write one chapter of a book each month and we’d get together and copyedit each other’s manuscripts over coffee. So it took two years to write the book, then two years to find a publisher. In that time frame, I only queried twelve publishers because our daughter was a Make-A-Wish Child, so most of my energy was spent caring for her. About a year ago I queried Full Quiver Publishing and was offered a contract earlier this year. In total it was about a six-year process.
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Idea, research, editing, design…What was your favorite part of working on this project? What was your least favorite? 
My favorite part of working on this project was writing the dialogue between the main two characters, Amara and Nathan. I was literally laughing out loud as I wrote some of the lines and at times crying when the conversations got deeper. I also really enjoyed researching and learning more about the Civil War. I’m a history buff and it was fascinating delving further into this subject. My least favorite part was all the revisions. I realize now that every bit of feedback that I got made helped turned this book from a good story to a fantastic novel but it was a little disheartening at times. One particularly harsh criticism about the book literally had me walk away from the project for nine months; it was daunting considering what had to be reworked. But again, it made it the book it is today.
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Tell us about how this work came to reach us:  did you go the self-publishing route or did you contract with a publisher?  What was that like? 
From day one I was determined to go the traditional route and find a publisher who believed in this work as much as I did. While I could have done self-publishing since I am also a copy editor and proofreader, I never pursued that seriously. I had thought about getting an agent at one point, but did not want to put the time and energy into that endeavor either. By the grace of God, my book made its way into the hands of Ellen Gable Hrkach of Full Quiver Publishing. She is a fantastic publisher and editor, and her insight really brought this book to life.  Plus her husband James did an outstanding job creating the book cover. If this book turns out to be a million seller someday, I will have that team to thank!
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What other things in your life do you juggle in order to keep at your writing?  How’s that working out for you?
In addition to working on novels, I write for the Green Bay Diocese newspaper The Compass, I write for The Business News, I proofread for Saint Norbert College, I do product testing for a local personal product manufacturing corporation, I write product reviews online, I do commercial acting and modeling, and I own my own business that promotes true health — financial, mental and physical (www.KangenWisconsin.com). There’s never a dull moment around here, but I wouldn’t trade my life with anyone, I thank God every day because I’m so blessed with all these opportunities.
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Setting, characters, plot, mood, tone… What would you describe as your greatest strength as a writer?
My greatest strength as a writer is the technical aspects of writing. Years of proofreading other people’s works helped me to figure out the mechanics of writing so I feel that I see the big picture and attend very closely to details. I do love writing dialogue, especially lines that reflect my sense of humor!
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Conversely, if you could change one thing about your writing style, what would it be and why? 
Having worked in the newspaper arena for many years, my writing is very concise. We are generally limited to 800 words per story. I would love to be able to enhance my work more with descriptive wording but that just isn’t my style at this point.
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Lastly, where can we find your work, a. k. a. give you our hard earned cash? 
My book is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Thanks for your support!
Thank you, Amanda, for chatting with us!  Now, readers, go pick up your copy of A World Such as Heaven Intended!

WWRW: The Grace of Yes by Lisa Hendey

It’s time for What We’re Reading Wednesday, occasionally hosted by Jessica over at Housewifespice.  Even if she’s not hosting right now, go on over there and give her blog a cuddle.

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This week it’s all about saying, “YES!”

In The Grace of Yes: Eight Virtues for Generous Living, Lisa Hendey gives us a firm but gentle walk down a path out of the fear and selfishness that tends to be the natural human state into a way of living that is made larger and more free by all the ways we can give, and in giving see ourselves as the gifts we are. Each chapter includes a down-to-earth, pointed-to-heaven reflection from Lisa, a set of thought-provoking questions on the virtue being discussed, and prayer. Few writers have the gift of being able to give us a kick in the pants without it hurting like the dickens. Lisa Hendey is one of those who has this gift. If you’d like such a kick in the pants and have others getting kicked along with you (that sounds much worse than it sounded in my head), I also encourage you to participate in the CatholicMom.com Grace of Yes book club going on right now.  Say “yes” to The Grace of Yes!

#7QT: An Interview with Author Amy Bennett

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Join Jennifer and all the coolest Catholics for the 7 Quick Takes Friday Linkup.

Well, it’s another 7QT that I’ve gotten somebody else to write for me!  I’m thrilled to host author Amy Bennett, who brought us the hilarious and suspenseful mystery End of the Road, the first book (of many, I hope), in the Black Horse Campground Mysteries series.  Her second, No Lifeguard on Duty, is the second and latest.

Allow me to introduce you to Amy.

“I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, so that automatically makes me a native Texan… but then I’ve spent most of my life in New Mexico, so I can claim dual citizenship! End of the Road is the first book in the Black Horse Campground series.  The Black Horse and Bonney County exist in my imagination, for the most part, but visit the Ruidoso/Lincoln County region of New Mexico and you’ll see how I happened to find it!  As for Corrie Black and her friends, I hope you enjoy reading about their adventures as much as I enjoyed writing about them… and I hope there are many more to come!  When I’m not writing, I’m a cake decorator at Walmart in Ruidoso Downs, NM;  slinging vino at Noisy Water Winery in mid-town Ruidoso; and being a wife to Paul (since 1988) and mom to Paul Michael (since 1994) as well as enjoying life in general in Bent, NM.”

Now let’s hear from Amy about how she writes, why she writes, and so and so!

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Tell us about your most recent work.  How did the idea come to you?  How long did it take you from start to publication?

My most recent work is No Lifeguard on Duty, the second book in my Black Horse Campground mystery series.

 

 

I actually came up with the idea for the three main characters—Corrie, Rick, and J.D.—first and wanting to tell their stories, and their involvement in a murder mystery grew from my own love of mystery novels, in particular the romantic suspense of Mary Higgins Clark.  And reading novels, particularly mysteries, by other New Mexico authors like Aimee and David Thurlo, Steven F. Havill, Michael Orenduff, and Michael McGarrity, convinced me that my own “stomping grounds” (south central New Mexico) would be a perfect setting for my stories. I started the first draft of No Lifeguard on Duty when I got stuck trying to wrap up the first book in the series, End of the Road… I had no idea how to end it, so I decided to see what the next book was going to bring!

All in all, it probably takes me about a year to draft, write, and edit one of my books.

 

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Idea, research, editing, design…What was your favorite part of working on this project? What was your least favorite?

I love coming up with ideas, letting the characters loose in my mind and seeing what they do and say (really, I’m not that much in control!) and just putting it all together like a puzzle.  I know when I get stuck it’s because I missed something important or else I’m trying to force my characters to do and say things that are completely out of character.  The least favorite part was sometimes just sitting down and getting it on paper.  And let’s not even discuss promo work!

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Tell us about how this work came to reach us:  did you go the self-publishing route or did you contract with a publisher?  What was that like?

My first novel, End of the Road, won the 2012 Dark Oak Mystery contest, sponsored yearly by Oak Tree Press, a small independent publishing company.  First prize was publication and a contract.  Up to that time, I had resisted going the self-publishing route because I knew that I didn’t have a lot of contacts and that getting the word out would be even more difficult than it already was with my busy schedule. Plus, there is a little more credit given to books published with a traditional publishing house, even if it is a indie publisher, and I had hopes of seeing my books in bookstores, not just online.

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What other things in your life do you juggle in order to keep at your writing?  How’s that working out for you?

I’m fortunate to have a husband and son, family, and friends who understand how important it is for me to have time to write.  I try to keep writing materials handy at the other jobs for those times that inspiration strikes or I have a few minutes to jot down ideas.  And I’ve learned to take the writing seriously.  I’ll never forget the day I got to meet fellow mystery author Mike Orenduff in person.  He offered me a lot of encouragement and I mentioned something about finding time to write in the midst of “the real jobs” (full-time cake decorator at Walmart and part-time “vino slinger” at Noisy Water Winery.)  He stopped me right there, pointed his finger directly at me, and said, “The WRITING is the REAL job.”  It was the first time someone, besides my husband, had ever taken my writing with that degree of seriousness and I knew that, no matter how busy the other jobs kept me, the writing would always take priority—it would always be “the REAL job”.  So now I MAKE time to write instead of just trying to FIND time to write.

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That’s so true.  Our writing is only as real a job as we make it.  Now on to setting, characters, plot, mood, tone… What would you describe as your greatest strength as a writer? (I would say your ability to handle gut-busting humor and spine-tingling suspense all in the same paragraph, but that’s just me….).

Well, as I said before, my characters came before the story and most of the good reviews I’ve received have mentioned how much the reader likes my characters and really cares about them.  I find that if I take care of making my characters as interesting and real as possible, then the mystery can be anything from who killed the victim, to how is the love triangle going to work itself out, to a question of who ate the last piece of cake and the story will engage the reader.

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Conversely, if you could change one thing about your writing style, what would it be and why? 

I think I have a tendency to “script” everything my characters do, instead of just letting the story flow.  I’ve tried to learn to let go of controlling my characters’ every move and just let the story flow.  Does it really matter if one character says their line, then gets up and walks across the room, or whether they walk across the room, sit down, then deliver their line?  What really matters is what they’re saying!And I have to learn to not worry about filling in every crevice in the back story. Time and experience are teaching me that I don’t need a gigantic “info dump” at the beginning of the story… the reader will get it just fine as the story unfolds.  I’ve had to learn to trust my readers!

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Lastly, where can we find your work, a. k. a. give you our hard earned cash? 

I would really, really, REALLY appreciate people going to their local bookstores (indie or big box) and asking for End of the Road and No Lifeguard on Duty.  Bookstores will always have a special place in my heart and I really want to see them stay open!  But if your area is light on physical bookstores, there’s always my publisher’s website (www.oaktreebooks.com) and you can find both books on Amazon.

Thank you, Amy, for your work and for visiting us here at Will Write for Tomato Pie!  I’m looking forward to reading more from you!

 

#7QT: An Interview with Author Leslie Lynch

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We’re just a couple of wild ‘n’ crazy Catholics here, participating in 7 Quick Takes Friday, hosted by your friend and mine, Jennifer at Conversion Diary.  Go on over and jump on the link-ridden bandwagon!

Today I am excited to host Leslie Lynch, whose first novel, Hijacked, dropped last weekend.

You don’t know Leslie?  Allow me to introduce her!

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Leslie lives near Louisville, Kentucky, with her husband and her adult children’s cats.  While not engaged in wrestling the beautiful and prolific greenery of her yard into submission, she flies as a volunteer for the Civil Air Patrol, loves the exuberant creativity and color of quilting and pottery…and, of course, writes.  Her first love is fiction.  She has completed two award-winning, book length manuscripts along with occasional nonfiction articles.  She is a dedicated member of Romance Writers of America and has served as President of her local chapter, Louisville Romance Writers.

Here are my thoughts on her recently released Hijacked:

From the very first chapter, I was hooked on Hijacked! I don’t think I’ve ever read a stronger first chapter–one that grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let go. Throughout, the characters Lannis and Ben are complex: endearing yet never saccharine. The plot veers from heart-pounding action into tender introspection without missing a beat. In Hijacked, Leslie Lynch shows us how two very imperfect people brought together under perhaps some of the least romantic circumstances one could imagine could in fact find themselves while finding love in each other. I’m greatly looking forward to reading more from Leslie Lynch! Read Hijacked, and you will be, too!

So Leslie wrote a heart-pounder, is in the middle of promoting it, and still she had the time to stop by and visit us Tomato Pie fans?  What a sweetheart!  At least, I think so, and after this interview, you’ll probably think so, too.  Let’s chat with Leslie.

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Tell us about your most recent work.  How did the idea come to you?  How long did it take you from start to publication? 

Hi, Erin! I’m delighted to be here, and am excited to be interviewed on your blog for the first time as a published author! (Deep breath! That’s a pretty heady feeling!) Thank you so much for inviting me.  Hijacked, my first novel, just launched. I am embarrassed to say how long I’ve been working on it. This has been my “learning” manuscript, and has been through so many revisions that I lost track years ago. Okay, that sort of gave it away, so I’ll own up to the fact that I began writing this story in 1998 or so. Of course, the first draft was so terrible craft-wise (insert technical stuff that authors need to know in order to make your reading experience seamless and engaging) that I immediately embarked on a quest to fix the numerous and glaring errors. Along the way, I taught myself/learned other useful skills, from how to use a computer to how to format a book for publishing.

The idea for Hijacked came to me one morning as I was pre-flighting a Cessna for a seven a.m. departure for a traffic reporting flight. (My other passion is flying, and I am a pilot.) For being in the midst of the city of Louisville, Kentucky, the general aviation airport is deserted at that time of day. Being blessed—or cursed!—with an overactive imagination, the thought of being hijacked took root, then wouldn’t let go. The characters sprang into my mind pretty much fully formed, but as I wrote, I discovered they had secrets. And then things got interesting.

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I was wondering  if you had flying experience, after reading your book.  Thanks for giving us an example of how our real-life experiences can bring us inspiration.  Okay, next question.  Idea, research, editing, design…What was your favorite part of working on this project? What was your least favorite?

I love the writing process. I try to write stuff that doesn’t require a lot of research, because I find it boring and time-consuming if I’m doing it online or in books. Now talking to people is a different story, so I draw a lot on what I’ve seen or experienced, and ask questions of anyone who might be able to shed light on the subject at hand. I’m a little shy about contacting people out of the blue—“Hey, I’m writing a book about… Would you be willing to answer some questions?”—but I don’t have any trouble asking that of people with whom I’ve established a relationship.

My least favorite part is marketing. I’m an introvert and I do not like to toot my own horn.

Honey, can I relate or what?  

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Back to you, Leslie.  

Being the center of attention is intensely uncomfortable. Then I realized two things: Readers are interested in the product—the book. It’s much easier to talk about my book than it is to talk about me. The second, more important, at least for my sanity, is this: Marketing is about creating relationships. Now that I can do! It’s even fun! My life is immeasurably enriched by getting to know so many wonderful people whose paths I would never have crossed otherwise.

I’ve been blessed with awesome team partners. No author can do this on her own. Many writers have been incredibly generous in sharing their time and expertise on a wide variety of issues. Pam Berehulke, my editor and the owner of Bulletproof Editing, is wise, kind, and a taskmaster. I couldn’t ask for anyone better, and she has made the editing process a lot of fun. I found my cover artist, Marion Sipe of Dreamspring Design, by looking at freelance cover artists’ sites. Her work had a depth that appealed to me, and I haven’t regretted a moment of working with her. Rob Preece helped me with some sticky formatting issues and taught me a few tricks to make the next project go more smoothly.

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Tell us about how this work came to reach us:  did you go the self-publishing route or did you contract with a publisher?  What was that like? 

I’ve shopped Hijacked around to traditional publishers of all types for years. Admittedly, the first few years it wasn’t ready, plus it took me a long time to discover my voice (rather than copying writers/styles that I like). Responses have been very positive in terms of the strength of the writing, but publishers know their readers and have very specific guidelines for reaching their audiences. My books don’t fit the templates. When I realized I wasn’t willing to compromise (i.e., add sex scenes, cut my very gentle mentions of God, or remove any hint of Catholicism), I decided it was time to step up and get the work out there myself. There is no better time to be an author. After much prayer, I was “nudged” off the cliff by the Holy Spirit (once described by a good friend as wearing a hard hat and driving a bulldozer!). Many hours of toil later, Hijacked is available.

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I love that description of the Holy Spirit!  Thank your friend for me!  What other things in your life do you juggle in order to keep at your writing?  How’s that working out for you?

<sigh>  I just juggle. Sometimes I get up early and write. I write in the spare minutes I can eke out during the day between my own responsibilities—and I will say right now that my house is in dire need of dusting and my paperwork in dire need of filing, and soon my garden will be in dire need of weeding, then harvesting. But providing care for grandkids and support for adult children as they strive to meet their goals takes precedence. Honestly, when I look at my life, I wonder, too, how in the world I ended up with three completed books! The other day I was overwhelmed and tempted to skip daily Mass (which I have taken to attending in order to keep calm and my priorities correct during this publishing journey), but the Holy Spirit delivered a clear thought to me: Make time for Me, and I will make time for what you need to do. Hey, if God created time in the first place, He can help me out on this itty bitty project (in the grand scheme of things), so I’m gonna take Him up on that and quit worrying. One step at a time…

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Great insight there–an approach I try to take myself.  As for setting, characters, plot, mood, tone… What would you describe as your greatest strength as a writer?

Picking the right words. In my critique group, each of us has a strength that the others lack. I’m the go-to person for “what word should I use to convey…?” I’m also good at picking out what is important in a paragraph or scene or a characterization and keeping everything focused so the end result is coherent.

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Conversely, if you could change one thing about your writing style, what would it be and why? 

I’d write faster!!! Because I’m slow. Maybe that should translate into: I should trust myself more. On the occasions (NaNoWriMo) when I’ve pushed myself and thought, “Oh, well, it’s drivel but I can revise later,” I’ve been stunned to find that the writing isn’t nearly that bad when I look back at it.

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Lastly, where can we find your work, a. k. a. give you our hard earned cash?  

Hijacked is available on Amazon in either print or ebook form. Look for Unholy Bonds in a few weeks, and following it, Opal’s Jubilee. Those two will be available on other formats as well, like Nook and iPad, etc., and Barnes & Noble (print).

Again, Erin, thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your blog today! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being here!

And thank YOU for visiting us!  I’m honored to have had the opportunity to be the first to review Hijacked, and I’m looking forward to reading more from you!