Amanda Kyle Williams is in the House!

    **7/4/2014

We have our winners! So, will Sheila Pearsons, Sandra DeHelen, and Beth (metalbeth) please PM me your selected format and where you want it sent. Thank you all for participating, and thank YOU, Amanda Kyle Williams!  

 

 

“An explosive read . . . Amanda Kyle Williams sets the classic private eye                   novel on fire.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child.

Photo credit Kaylynn Gilstrap Photography

Photo credit Kaylynn Gilstrap Photography

jpeg Last October I had to good fortune to meet Amanda in Palm Springs, and had the opportunity to spend some time talking with her. I knew she wrote thrillers, (her first “The Stranger You Seek”) but I was rather self-absorbed with my own writing and hadn’t read her work.

 

jpeg-1That all changed after spending some time getting to know more about her. I bought her second book (“A Stranger in the Room”) at the airport on the way home and found what I had been missing. It taught me some lessons, which I shared in a review A Cautionary Tale.

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I happily looked forward to her third book in the Keye Street series,“Don’t Talk to Strangers” which, debuts–TODAY–July 1, 2014. [*you may win one of 3 free copies to this new release from names drawn randomly from commenters.]

Now, here’s why I’m blogging about this. Due to health concerns, Amanda was unable to attend the numerous promotional events throughout the country. So getting the word out about her book by personal appearances was curtailed.  I offered her a short interview as a way to reach a few more people. And she graciously accepted. If you knew Amanda, you’d know she’d do the same, should the need arise.

Without further ado, let’s chat with Amanda Kyle Williams: Gourmand, Creator of Savage serial killers, and Patron Saint of Animals.  

Your success is inspiring and well deserved. I have followed Patricia Cornwell for a long time and I’m happy to have another strong, unique female protagonist on the scene. -As a newbie writer, I am curious about process, craft, and balancing writing (the part we love) and the part where we have to market the books…

AKW: The promotion stuff can get in the way of writing when there’s a new release. It took me a little while to find the balance. Now I plan for it. I know it’s just part of getting a new book out there in a sea of other new books. You’re not finished when you type the end. I really enjoy the entire process now. I love the prerelease jitters, the early reviews from media and from reader’s sites like Goodreads and Library Thing. And once the book drops, being able to talk to readers is a blast, fan mail, social media, conferences, Skype and Google Hangouts, indie bookstore appearances, book clubs, media—it’s all a big rush, and the exact opposite of the writer’s real life, which is to sit alone in a room with a keyboard and maybe some animals.

When the first book in the series, The Stranger You Seek, launched to great reviews and landed on a couple of shortlists for literary awards, I was both ecstatic and utterly terrified. I was writing the 2nd book on a deadline. I was writing fulltime for the first time, and I didn’t have the discipline yet or the confidence. I was convinced the first book was some sort of fairy-dusted fluke. So, I had to force myself into my chair every day. But then, as always, when I spend enough time building the framework, however awkwardly at first, the ideas begin to pop. That’s when inspiration hits for me, a few hours into the excruciating process of hammering out a foundation word-by-word. Of course, the foundation is full of holes and my 1st drafts are flat out awful, but I’m a lot calmer now about the process. I build the shell, I go back, refine, expand on ideas, discard others, and then I start putting meat on those bones—details, a timeline that makes sense, adding tone, adding place and setting to the dialogue I’ve roughed out so my readers can see what my characters are seeing and feeling, what it looks like, smells like, feels like on their skin. This is where the magic happens for me and where I get the most enjoyment and satisfaction from writing—in the revision process.

-So, Book 3 in the Keye Street thriller series, “Don’t Talk to Strangers” will be released July 1st—Whoot! Are you excited? I know your readers are, and early reviews have been great.

AKW: Really exciting time for me. I love the fanfare around a release. I mean, come on, this is the payoff. The reviewers have been good to me this year. The librarians have been great. They embraced Keye from the beginning of the series. This time around the support has been amazing—buzz on social media and in ALA publications like Booklist, which starred the review of Don’t Talk To Strangers. I’m so grateful to them, to the book bloggers who have taken me under their wing, and to the readers that have been patiently waiting for the 3rd installment. Great reviews in major publications are huge. But there’s nothing like one reader, or one bookstore owner, or one librarian, recommending the book to someone.

-Would you describe the “birth” of a new story, or your process? i.e. Do outline extensively? Or Do you start by creating the mystery? Badguy? And just rough out the story?

AKW: I outline as much as I’m forced to outline. My contract requires me to submit an outline for approval. So I do that. It’s barebones. But I think my editor has come to trust that things will open up for me during the writing process. If I veer off too far from the original idea, I let her know, we brainstorm. And let me tell you something, there’s nothing like brainstorming with the great Kate Miciak. I dedicated the book to her. She’s brilliant. As for where I start, I get a working title first. The glimmer of an idea usually follows.  I rough out a first scene, then a final scene, because I need to decide early on where I want it to end in terms of tone even if I haven’t plotted it yet—where my character is emotionally at the end, and how I need to write that final scene so that readers feel what she feels when they close the book. And then, it’s about the 120 thousand words in between. Easy, right?

-I was intrigued by this quote:  “It takes time and work to find that unique voice as a writer, and for that voice to reach pitch.” Would you please say more about how you did this and what you mean by pitch?

AKW: By pitch I mean, you’ve found your voice as a writer. You’ve found a way to get something authentic and honest out of your neurotic, insecure, scrambled writer’s brain. I like to think of it as tuning a guitar. You’re finally in the right key, you know? Took me a long time to find my voice as a writer. Not that I feel my voice has reached its zenith. I just finally found the right slot and the right character to help me begin to develop my craft. And your question was how did I do that. I know that it was years before I could put a character on the page who’s struggling, questioning, wrestling down the little demons on her shoulder—selfishness, self-indulgence, jealousy, envy, self-pity, heartbreak, addiction, the petty and heroic deeds humans commit every day.  I think as new writers we tend to be self-conscious. We desperately want to be liked, to impress. It took me a minute, oh wait, it took twenty-five years, to get real, to be willing to strip a character down to their flesh and bones. And there’s still so much to learn. You never stop growing as a writer. You’re always a student.

-By now, you have some regular characters, a familiar locale, and a strong protagonist. Was book 3 any easier since you have developed the framework for the series?  

AKW: Well, I wanted to shake it up a little in this book and step away from the formula. I didn’t want to rely on that cast of characters I’ve developed for Keye to bounce off of. I didn’t want to depend on Atlanta, which is an important character in the series. I wanted to take my protagonist away from the city, her lover, her family and coworkers, all the characters we’ve gotten to know in books 1 and 2. I wanted to pull the safety net out from under us both. I wanted to see if Keye was strong enough to carry a private eye novel without the props I set up in the first two novels. And I wanted to surprise readers. The book was a confidence builder for me. I don’t mean a pound-on-my-chest, I’m-so-great kind of confidence. I mean confidence in the writing process. I know now that I can write the story, whatever it is, if I just sit down, get still, shut off the noise in my head and start, one word at a time.

-Have you started the next book and how is that going? 

AKW: Book 4 is currently under construction. Working title, A Complete Stranger. I’m excited about this one. It’s terribly creepy. And it’s going verrrry slowly. I’m a terribly slow writer, anyway. I haven’t delivered a book on time yet, though I try. I want to be considerate of my editor and publisher’s time. I’m just not one of those whistle-while-you-work people who spit out ten thousand words a day.

This year has been challenging for me, as you well know.  I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer in March. I had surgery, and now I’m in follow-up treatment. On the bright side, I haven’t had drugs this good since I was 25. Downside-I can’t go on tour to promote Don’t Talk To Strangers because of immune system issues. My publicist and publisher have been fantastic. We’ve arranged some Skype events with libraries and living room book clubs. On July 8th I’ll be live steaming at 7PM ET on BookTalk Nation via Google Hangouts. We are finding ways, thanks to the Internet, to promote, and it’s a way for me to interact with readers, which I absolutely love doing.

Friends on social media sites have been helping to get the word out, too, sharing book links and book trailers and reviews. Cancer challenges you on so many levels—physically, emotionally, and financially—that it takes a lot of what I’d be pouring into my book right now. It doesn’t leave you much some days. But it does force you to find some interior calm. When you’re first diagnosed, it’s like stepping into a hurricane. Your life, your schedule, it’s not yours anymore. You’re just a passenger on this crazy, swirling ride. But eventually, you dig down deep and you take the wheel again, take control of your emotions and thoughts and life and healthcare, and decide this is temporary and you’re going to climb out of this hole. I can’t wait to be on the other side of this. And I want to thank everyone for the support.

-You have a huge social media presence, which I think has greatly added to your popularity. I’m envious! How hard is it to maintain that consistently and are you coached or monitored by your publisher? Do they help with your promotion?  

AKW: Random House marketing is the admin on my Facebook author page and they are a huge help with creating giveaways and posts that build excitement and attract attention when it’s time for a new release. On pub day, they’ve planned a great giveaway package of all three Keye Street books. They write the posts, install the buttons, pick the winner, and handle fulfillment. It’s fantastic. But that’s only around publication of a hardcover or paperback. I write 99% of the posts myself. I like interacting with readers and friends. And yes, I’m loosely monitored. Big Brother is watching on all my pages, my personal page included, but this is a good thing. I’ve had a couple of gentle notes in the last few years just reminding me to always put my best foot forward.

Sometimes I’ll share something before it’s approved—artwork, a book cover, a review before it’s released—and I have to pull it back. It’s good to have someone nudge you from time-to-time and reel you in. In terms of a presence, my numbers aren’t where I want them but engagement is huge. What I learned about social media early on is that you have to develop relationships. It can’t just be about promotion. You have to be sincere (not boring) and you have to put yourself out there (with your filters on), let people see your heart. That’s when people want to know you and your work, and they will forgive you for the occasional self-promotion. They will help you promote and support your career when they’re invested in you as a person. I try to make all my pages accessible, public, fun, funny, non-political, and I don’t talk about who I’m pissed at or who’s bickering or who said what. Never, ever hang your dirty laundry on Facebook or Twitter. You may not lose followers in numbers, but they’ll check out. You’ve lost their respect.

Biggest rule for a happy social media experience, don’t be a negative, gossipy jerk. People are attracted to positivity, to success, and to humor. I try to give my social media family a place to land that makes them happy.

-You’ve said that you’re happy with the Keye Street series; do you ever get uninvited ideas for something completely different? Would you consider writing something like comedy, historic, dystopian, or dinosaur porn?  

AKW: I don’t know a damn thing about dinosaurs, Jeanne. How about just porn porn? Seriously, Keye is the voice in my head right now. I’m sticking with her as long as the voice is still strong and fresh. Right now, with the third book about to drop and the fan base still building, it doesn’t feel like the time to make a change.

-What’s the best thing about reaching the level of “successful author”?  

AKW: Being able to be a full time writer and buy the groceries.  

-Thanks, AK

www.amandakylewilliams.com Barrett's phone_20131011_01720131013104933   Thanks for joining us, and Please leave a comment for Amanda for a chance to be entered in the drawing.You may choose the format. We’ll pick 3 winners Friday afternoon!

Meet My Character Blog Tour starring Silke Dyson

Barrett_GCLS 2014 ad (1)

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by the award-winning author, Jae, and invited to participate in a character blog tour. I was flattered and a little intrigued.

If you are not familiar with Jae’s (Amazon) incredible books: Backwards to Oregon, Second Nature,  Something in the Wine, Conflict of Interest, Next of Kin and Hidden Truths–you might check them out.

Jae is also a generous mentor and teacher.  She will be joining us soon at the 2014 GCLS

On with the questions….

What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

I just wrote a rather lengthy blog on the Damaged Series—Book 3 will be released in a couple of weeks)—I’d like to focus on one of the characters from my last novel, 19140588“Balefire.”

Silke Dyson is a fictional contemporary character from Wisconsin. Average height, strawberry blond hair, green eyes, and the body of a swimmer. Silke’s a free spirit with an eye for beauty.The other main character is Kirin Foster, a travel writer with a romantic heart.

When and where is the story set?

 The story starts out on a turbulent flight to Belize, where a significant part of the story is set up. They meet there and fall under it’s spell. As they navigate the initial awkwardness, they discover similar roots in Wisconsin.

 What should we know about him/her?

Silke is an artist/professor in an unhappy relationship with a charismatic narcissist.

 What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

 A bitter argument got physical resulting in Silke’s traumatic tunnel vision. She becomes dependent, distrustful, and trapped.

 What is the personal goal of the character?

 Silke wants to achieve enough independence to support herself and her career, without falling victim to outside forces.

 Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

 There were several working titles, but it was published seven months ago as “Balefire”  along with a follow-up novella, “Flights of Fancy.”

When can we expect the book to be published?

 When Jae, invited me to do this blog, I was going to talk about the enigmatic Zeke Cabot, star of my Damaged series, and her new release, “Dispatched with Cause,” but something made me choose Silke and that set me to wondering whether I was finished with that story. Who knows? There may be another story…

Meanwhile, I’ve passed the torch to two of my favorites: Critically acclaimed novelist, Ann McMan–Famous Author, mother of the Jericho series, Co-author of Lambda Finalist “Hoosier Daddy” with her dear wife Salem West, and the Neon Prairie Chicken, Sandra Moran. Her Edmund White Finalist, “Letter Never Sent”, “Nudge” and soon the fabled “Addendum.” Their answers will appear next Monday July 7th on their blogs.

Thanks for joining me, please check with Ann and Sandra next week.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

**But… that’s not all, because I’ve been a lazy blogger, I’m going to give you a super special treat–

TOMORROW! With great pleasure, I will present a personal interview with the remarkable Amanda Kyle Williams, critically acclaimed author of the Keye Street thrillers. Her third book “Don’t Talk to Strangers” will be released tomorrow! **

Don’t miss this one.

Barrett’s Book Blog–the Update

Well, apparently I’ve been on sabbatical or I’ve been working hard on my latest manuscript. Either way I’ve been very neglectful.

I do hope you enjoyed the previous blog about Andi Marquette’s new release “From the Hat Down” which is the sequel to her novella, “From the Boots Up.”

DwS

 

Now it’s my turn. Coming very soon is the release of “Dispatched with Cause” —the third Book in the Damaged Series.  I originally released the second edition of “Damaged in Service” in November of 2012. I followed with “Defying Gravity” in March 2013. I needed a break and wrote “Balefire” in November 2013.

 

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Balefire_light

 

(Note: After living in poor Zeke’s head for about 4 years, and researching the PTSD, I needed something a little lighter, so I basked in the Belizean sun with Balefire <g>)

 

WindyCityThere were also two novellas, “Windy City Mistletoe” about a future holiday for Zeke and Anne.

 

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The second “Flights of Fancy” was the follow-up for“Balefire” and the first in the Forever Windsor Series to celebrate Marriage equality.

In order to bring you up to speed, I thought I would do a series overview. Many readers enjoy waiting until the entire series is written before starting. Others jump in with both feet, finish a book, and then tear their hair out until the next book is released. For those souls, I am truly sorry.

So let’s take a look back…

Book 1 “Damaged in Service”

In book 1, we meet our beloved protagonist, FBI Special Agent Zeke Cabot. She’s the only character I’ve ever visualized from a real-life person, and that was Halle Berry. It didn’t start that way, but the more I wrote her scenes, the clearer the vision became. So if you can picture a taller more muscular Biloxi woman of mixed race with a 15 year career as a federal agent and a newly diagnosed case of PTSD—that is Zeke.

The first book was set up to introduce Zeke, her baggage, her love interest, and a number of predicaments that seem to follow her to New Mexico.

Anne Reynolds is a lovely introverted divorced nurse healing from her own unhappiness. Their serendipitous meetings foster an unavoidable attraction. Her beautiful home in the mountains outside of Albuquerque is the ideal place for Anne to have an attractive stranger dropped in her lap.

As the relationship begins to bud, they are tracked and assaulted by an angry suspect from Zeke’s last case in Chicago. Loose threads from that case along with her doubts send Zeke back to Chicago.

So now we have the set-up–love and a bad guy.

Book 2  “Defying Gravity”

This story is where we delve deeper into the romance between Zeke and Anne. Attracted and tentative, they gingerly test the waters of a serious relationship. Hassan, their nemesis, has not given up harassing Zeke to find his brother.

Anne’s personal tragedy forces Zeke to focus and support the woman she loves.

When Chicago boss, special agent in charge Frank Hartbrooke authorizes her for a special undercover op for the Albuquerque field office, it triggers a flashback along with introducing a major crime figure.

Zeke and Anne surrender to their powerful attraction and commit to making it work. But…

And now we’re up to book 3. “Dispatched with Cause” July 2014

DwSWe’ve met the characters; looked behind the curtain with each of them, and now the roller coaster begins.

The book begins with an accident, a kidnapping, abduction, and a confrontation between Zeke and her two most fearsome antagonists. Zeke gets hurt; Anne gets worried, and complications arise.

Zeke…and Anne can no longer ignore the proverbial “elephant in the room” that is Zeke’s head injury/PTSD. She ends up in the hospital again, and Anne needs help.

Once some loose ends are tied up, and the two women have some serious decisions to make.

Balancing the story, they meet new friends and develop a small support network that will benefit both women.

There’s hope for a bright future…if. If Zeke steps up.

 

Book 4  “Deliver Me” is tentatively set for early 2015.

In which, Zeke is finally forced to accept help from an unusual resource because she makes a new friend in a position to help her.

Things are about to change.

In case there are distant whispers, “Is that the end of the Damaged Series?”

I don’t know. For now, yes. We’ll have to see because I do love these characters, and they have just begun their lives together.

I started a story Zeke’s earlier years because I needed to know who she was before she developed PTSD. There are also a couple of other characters that might be interesting.

What am I doing now? There’s Book 4 in the Damaged series, and I have a YA/mystery/paranormal screaming for attention. Then there’s a fun romantic romp behind the scenes of an opera house, and a chap-book pulp fiction series…

So many words and so little time.  Stay tuned! I’m enjoying the process, learning the craft, and meeting wonderful new friends.

 

Books are available at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bedazzled Ink Publishing

 

Celebrate with Andi Marquette

 

Howdy! Today is a special Blog tour event to introduce those of who may not have fallen under the spell of Andi Marquette to a great writer.

I hope you enjoy today’s blog about Andi Marquette’s new release “From the Hat From the Boots Up FINAL 300 dpiDown”  the sequel to her novella, “From the Boots Up.”  

Andi has long been one of my favorite authors. Her work is wise, wicked, and wonderful. The New Mexico Posse is my fav, but “From the Boots Up” was a short, smart romance that I loved.

 

19268_298262092137_6653704_n Meet the Author:

Andi Marquette is a native of New Mexico and Colorado and an award-winning mystery, science fiction, and romance writer. She also has the dubious good fortune to be an editor who spent 15 years working in publishing, a career track that sucked her in while she was completing a doctorate in history. She is co-editor of the forthcoming All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Erotica and Romance. Her most recent novels are Day of the Dead, the Goldie-nominated finalist The Edge of Rebellion, and the romance From the Hat Down, a follow-up to the Rainbow Award-winning novella, From the Boots Up.

When she’s not writing novels, novellas, and stories or co-editing anthologies, she serves as both an editor for Luna Station Quarterly, an ezine that features speculative fiction written by women and as co-admin of the popular blog site Women and Words. When she’s not doing that, well, hopefully she’s managing to get a bit of sleep.

 

From the Hat Down coverSynopsis of From the Hat Down:

Meg Tallmadge is a veterinarian at a clinic in Laramie, Wyoming. She’s got a great job, great friends, deep ties to the family ranch, and big plans for her vet future. Sure, there are bumps in the road, like her mom’s continued denial about who Meg is and her painful and infuriating attempts to make Meg a “proper” woman. Then there’s Meg’s recent breakup with a girlfriend, which has her wondering why she can’t seem to open up to relationships. But Meg knows that life is messy, and sometimes all you can do is get through and shake it off. What she can’t seem to shake off, however, is her past.

It’s been almost ten years to the day since she met the love of her life, and about eight since she let her go. Meg has a hard time admitting that maybe she didn’t really let go, and that maybe some things you never really get over, no matter how hard you try. But her past is half a world away, caught up in her own life, relationship, and journalism career, and Meg isn’t one to chase the ghosts of past relationships. Even if they send you a birthday card and nudge what you thought were the closed-off parts of your heart. After all, second chances are the stuff of fantasies and movies where the good guy always gets a happy ending. You can’t count on something like that.

Or can you?

 

And now a taste of…  From the Hat Down

Excerpt from Chapter 2

Meg stared out the windshield, brooding all the way into Laramie, feeling guilty about Kate and, inexplicably, about someone else who still haunted her thoughts, even after eight years. A Dixie Chicks song started playing on the radio, as if somehow the DJ knew who Meg was thinking about. She smiled. It wasn’t the one Gina had sung to her ten years ago at the bar in Saratoga, but it didn’t matter. The Chicks would always make her think about Gina. She sighed. Not like she needed music to remind her. She slowed down at the city limits and braked at a stoplight then turned left onto Grand, toward the University. As she pulled into the clinic parking lot, her cell phone rang with a specific tone. She answered, keeping one hand on the wheel.

“Hey, Dad.”

“Hey, hon. Glad I caught you,” Stan’s soft deep voice greeted her.

“What’s up?” She steered into a parking spot right behind the clinic and shifted into park.

“Your mom called. She said she left you a message a few days ago but hasn’t heard anything.”

Meg turned off the engine and leaned her head back, staring at the gray cloth ceiling of the cab. “Damn. I totally forgot—”

“It’s okay. You’re busy and I told her that. But brace yourself. She’s flying out next week for your birthday.”

She froze. “You’re kidding.”

“Nope.”

“Why the hell would she do that?”

“You know how she is,” he said with a shrug in his voice. “She gets it in her head to do something and you might as well just ride it out.”

She sighed heavily. “So she’s actually coming to the ranch?”

“Yep. She’s flying into Cheyenne a week from Friday. She said she’d rent a car and drive out.” He paused, then cleared his throat.

She waited. There was something else. She could picture him, sitting at the big desk in his pine-paneled office, fidgeting with a pen. He’d run a hand through his thick black hair, shot through now with gray, then tug on a strand at his temple, maybe toy with his mustache a little.

“And?” She pressed.

He didn’t say anything for a moment. “She’s bringing someone.”

Meg’s stomach clenched. “Who?”

He cleared his throat again. “Now, honey, promise you won’t blow a gasket.” He sounded worried.

“Jesus, Dad. Have I been that shitty lately?” Christ, had she?

“It’s just that I know how she is about you and your relationships.”

“Oh, for—she’s bringing a guy?

“Well. . .” The discomfort in his voice provided the answer.

“She is. She’s bringing some goddamn guy.”

He didn’t respond but she could hear him breathing.

“That is—holy shit,” Meg said, both frustrated and irritated. “She’s bringing a guy like I’m some kind of broodmare. What the hell?” She glared out the windshield, grip tightening on the steering wheel.

He burst out laughing. “Broodmare,” he sputtered. “Christ, that’s—you have to admit, that’s pretty much how she sees it.” He broke off, laughing harder and Meg cracked a smile.

The more she thought about it, the more she smiled. She released her chokehold on the wheel as laughter overtook her as well.

“It’s a hell of a birthday present,” he finally managed, which only made Meg laugh harder. It felt good. Cathartic.

“Poor guy,” she said as she wiped her eyes.

“And I doubt she told him that there’s just one little problem with that scenario.”

“Which one? I can list several.”

“True. But the most obvious is that you don’t ride that side of the fence.”

Meg sat, stunned. He hardly ever said anything like that and it left her elated, the comfort with which he expressed it. “Um, yeah. That is the most obvious.” She brushed at some dirt on her knee. “I’ll call her,” she added, letting him off the hook for further discussion along those lines.

“He probably already bought the ticket.”

“No, she probably already bought the ticket for him,” she pointed out. “So it’s her loss. But it’ll save him some embarrassment. Give him time to take that ring back to the jeweler.”

“Or the pawn shop,” he said innocently. “Your mom doesn’t always pick the best of the bunch where you’re concerned.”

She laughed again. “Dad!”

“It’s true. If he’s breathing, he’s fair game.”

She shook her head, grinning. “Or we could just. . .not say anything.”

“Whyever would we do that?” He chuckled and she pictured him again, pulling on his Wyatt Earp mustache, gray eyes twinkling.

“Ah, hell,” she relented. “I can’t do that to him. Her, yes. Him, no. He doesn’t know what he’s up against. I’ll call her tonight.”

“Probably a good idea.” He paused. “How are you?”

A leading question. Meg took the opportunity. “So-so. Work’s good.” she picked at her jeans some more. “Kate came by yesterday to get the rest of her stuff.” She said it in a rush, before she could talk herself out of it.

He made a sound that Meg knew would be accompanied with a “well, shit” head motion. “I’m sorry, hon. That’s rough. How’d it go?”

“As well as can be expected. It wasn’t ugly. Just sad. I feel bad about it, though.”

“You’ll get through it. And maybe you’ll know what works next time around.”

“That’d be nice. I’m not doing too well in the relationship department,” she said wryly. “Anyway,” she continued, releasing him from more deep and meaningful conversation, “I have to get some stuff done. I’ll call Mom later on today. I won’t forget.” She opened the driver’s side door. “Hell, I can’t, now.”

“Let me know if you actually manage to change her mind,” he said and she could hear the grin in his voice.

“Yeah. Wish me luck.” She took the keys out of the ignition. “Thanks, Dad.”

He hesitated before answering. “I worry sometimes. That’s all. Talk to you later. Love you.” And he hung up before she could respond in kind.

“Love you too,” she said to the phone as she pressed “end.” She put it into her belt holder and got out of the truck. She’d get things squared away here, check the schedule for the next morning, and hopefully she’d be home by six. She’d call her mom from there since it promised to be a conversation that would require a beer afterward. Plus, Sean was coming by, and that would help with the mood she knew she’d be in once the conversation ended. She locked up and went inside.

Andi Marquette, © 2014

 

 

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“My Writing Process Blog Tour” Barrett’s Turn

BinkLook! A Blog!!

At the behest of Jody Klaire, I am participating in the #Mywritingprocess Blog Tour. The purpose is to give each author and opportunity to discuss her work briefly and pass the torch to another author.

I’m delighted and honored that the irrepressible Jody—one of the bright new stars in the Bedazzled TOTS Brigade—chose me. (Look for her new book, Empath soon)

On with the questions.

1. WHAT AM I WORKING ON?

At the moment, I am working on revisions to book 3 of the Damaged series, Dispatched With Cause. After books 1 and 2, Damaged in Service and Defying Gravity, I needed a mental-health break and worked on a brand-new romance, Balefire.

The Damaged series was started in 2009. At the time, the story manifested so quickly, I could hardly keep up let alone worry about grammar or punctuation. That was a painful mistake that I am still correcting.

After some wonderful editorial coaching on my earlier works, I needed to make some signification changes to the third book in the series. In addition to cosmetic changes, I wanted to amp up the tension since this is the third book of four, it needs to produce a major turning point.

Now that I have pushed Zeke and Anne to another new challenge, I will begin work on revising book four.

 

2.   HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS IN THE SAME GENRE?

I guess I would say that the major difference is the story arc, which is deliberately written over a span of four books.  I envisioned the story like a television drama. It would be an end to season with a cliffhanger, then resume with the next season. Evidently, that’s not how commercial fiction is written. Who knew?

If you read the series, you’ll know that cliff-hanger was not a popular option for many of the lesfic community. They wanted HEA – happily ever after, as well as all the loose ends tied neatly.

I radically changed the story in book 2, but needed to keep the storyline intact. (Note: writing “by committee” is not the wisest direction.)

I consider this series romantic intrigue. However, that wouldn’t describe each individual book. Yet there are strong elements of both romance/love and intrigue in all.

 

3.   WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?

 

Like many others, I write the kinds of books I want to read. And in fact, it’s one of the things that make it difficult for me to read them critically. Almost every time I start to don my editing cap, I get caught up in my characters lives and don’t see the minutia. It makes me lousy editor. But…a good reader!

Recently I had this discussion with a friend and told her that I enjoy writing romance because I want to learn to be a better writer. I want to learn the craft by reading and writing stories that resonate with so many people.

When I’m ready, I have at least three books in my head that will be much closer to literary fiction. In the meantime, there are at least three or four manuscripts already written that I want to revise and submit.

And besides, I can’t NOT write.

 

4.   HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?

Glad they saved this one until last.

I would best be described as an imaginative, unrepentant, undisciplined, procrastinating Panster (someone who writes from the proverbial Seat of her pants). This is the polar opposite of a plotter (someone who lays out a foundation with a plan, notes, and or an outline.) I attended a conference with a very successful plotter who brought her outline in the form of an excel spread sheet 12 feet long!

At that moment I feared that I just didn’t have the fortitude to become a writer. But, at some point, I realized my strong suit was story-telling. I come from a long line of Gaelic story tellers.

Most of the stories I’ve created initially character driven, so I begin by creating the individuals around whom the story will grow. For the purpose of this blog I’ll use Balefire is an example.

I scoured several name lists to find Kirin Foster and Silke Dyson. I made up birthdays and did horoscopes on each woman, including their compatibility.  I threw them into an actual situation based on a true story to see what would happen. I knew I wanted a Romance that was fairly uncomplicated. (Insert snickering)

I transported each woman to the airport. Coincidently, both left from the Milwaukee airport, where their paths did not cross. During this process, I found out who the secondary characters were. I also learned some of the back story.

Each scene unfolded moment-by-moment depending on whose point of view I was writing from. If it was Silke’s point of view, everything was painted with a level of anxiety, resignation, and her visual disability.

When I was with Kirin, I became a type A impatient, irritated, and disconnected frequent traveler.

Voila! The scene is set and I just need to navigate my two characters through it. The rest comes from my own history of traveling the same route, from the same airports, with the same conditions. The only thing I needed to change was the point of view. Then add to the mix a circus-trunk full of imagination.

One scene begets the next scene. For me, it’s linear and organic. I don’t create scenes independently and try to fit them into the story. On rare occasions, when I have been asked to move the scene or event to another part of the story, it’s been incredibly difficult, because each piece of the story is built on the information provided by previous blocks.

I have tried outlining a new story first, and I’m stopped at the gate. My brain just doesn’t work that way. I can use the structure to evaluate AFTER the story-line is written.

The downside of the linear approach is breaking the scenes and chapters into manageable pieces, while still keeping the reader turning the pages. I like to take breaks ;)

The upside? I love to makeup stories and then “Spackle” them with ambiance and emotion. It’s been fifteen years since I started writing the Epic Medical Mystery with 22 characters and 6 subplots, all from a singular omniscient narrator.

Thanks for stopping by!   I’d be interested if anyone has questions, please share.

 

And now, it is with great pleasure I pass the baton to another of our Bink TOTS, Baxter Clare Trautman. 

Baxter Clare Trautman earned a Masters degree in Biology at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and promptly turned her hand to writing. Her thesis became Spirit of the Valley, published by Sierra Club in 2000, and was immediately followed by Bleeding Out, the first in the critically lauded L.A. Franco mystery series. Her latest Franco book is  in the pipeline.

A practicing wildlife biologist, Trautman lives in central California with her wife, dogs, cats, and chickens.

Her latest release: The River Within