"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Why I Write

Today is the “Why I Write Blogfest” hosted by Kayeleen Hamblin. If you would like to join in the fun, please visit Kayeleens Creation Corner.
So, why do I write? The answer is simple - because I am driven to do so.
“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” - George Orwell
The desire to write can be a very fulfilling compulsion. You are creating something new, original and hopefully compelling to readers. However, Orwell was correct that it can be a horrible, exhausting struggle. If you are like me, there is a bit of the perfectionist in you and you will never be completely finished or happy with your art. You just have to decide when to let it go.
Below is an updated version of my post (Dec. 2010) tited “Why Do You Write?”

I fell in love with writing at the age of ten when my cousin and I were playing school. I was the student and she was the teacher – that time. My writing assignment for her became the first of many. I was hooked, in love with the writing process.
I’ve written a lot of fiction and poetry, but (until recently and with the exception of one poem) I’ve only tried to publish my newspaper articles – at least under my real name. I suppose in many ways my writing is a personal experience. I was writing for me, for my enjoyment, for my personal expression and I didn’t want to explain myself to anyone. Some of my pieces are similar to diary entries since they express emotions or circumstances I experienced at the time.
When asking others, I usually hear two answers to the question “Why do you write?” The “It’s-in-my-soul type” (which I have always been a part) claim they write to express themselves and enjoy the creative process. That’s honest and to-the-point. These writers can be happy journaling for themselves or just to share with friends.
The second group says “I want to be published or paid to write” (which I am now a part – I figure if I enjoy writing so much, why worry what others think and I might as well get paid for it). If this is you, it’s not that tough. Modern technology allows easy publication with blogs, websites, or self-publishing your books.
However, if you want a legitimate or well-known publisher to pick up your work, you may have to write about topics that bore you. I’ve done this before. Some will tell you it’s a sell out, but hey, it’s a paycheck and a credit on your resume’. Unless you’re very lucky, you’ll never make millions of dollars writing, but many can make a decent living doing so.
If money is more important to you than the byline or author credit, or if you are the shy writer who doesn’t want the attention, consider ghost writing. Many authors will actually pay you more than they get for the piece to write it for them. They do this because they don’t have time or the inclination to write the required pieces for their editor. The reason the author will offer to pay you more than they will get for the piece (and believe me, you will have to sign a confidentiality clause contract) is because they are protecting their name and credibility. You might be surprised how many “popular” authors today employ ghost writers.
I see many writers committing to write, submit or publish a specific amount of their work. They are so worried about the quantity, I wonder if they will lose quality and I can’t help but ask them “Why do you write?”

Monday, June 27, 2011

Author Interview: Paula Martin

Paula Martin’s fifth book, His Leading Lady, is now available from Whiskey Creek Press. Her next book is set for release in early 2012. She is also the author of more than a dozen published short stories and numerous articles. You can learn more about Paula by visiting her personal website http://paulamartinromances.webs.com/, her blog http://paulamartinpotpourri.blogspot.com/ or reading the interview below.

1) How did you develop an interest in writing?
I’ve written stories all my life (at least, from when I was first able to write!).  I was a voracious reader as a child and my first stories were about the characters in the books I read – school, pony and theatre stories in particular.  From there, I started inventing my own characters and, as I progressed to my teens, my stories became romances, written for my friends.  In my twenties, I expanded one of these stories to novel-length and it was accepted by Mills and Boon here in the UK (way back in the 1960’s!).   

2) Tell me a little about your blog - address, how long you've been blogging etc.
I started my own blog in late 2009, but didn’t do very much with it until earlier this year when I decided to kick start it into action again.  Taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge in April was a great way to make new blogging friends. In late 2009 I also joined a group blog (http://heroineswithhearts.blogspot.com/) which is still going strong.  There are 5 of us, and we choose a topic for each week then all write about the topic.  It’s been great to be part of this group.  I find some of the topics fairly easy but others are more challenging and really made me work out my own ideas about them.  I learn a lot from the others’ posts too. 

3) I see you are working on a MS - please tell me a little about it - Title, genre, how you got the idea etc.
My current ‘work in progress’ is ‘A Nile Romance’, a contemporary romance about a tour guide on a Nile cruise ship and an archaeologist who works in the famous Valley of the Kings, near Luxor.  The idea came when I went on a Nile Cruise last October,  One afternoon I was relaxing on the sundeck, and started to wonder if a ‘hero’ could vault the rails from one moored cruise ship to another!  From that has developed a far more complex novel than I initially imagined, with old feuds threatening the relationship between the hero and heroine.  I’m still trying to work out how to get them together for their ‘happy ever after’ ending!

4) What other styles do you write - genre novels, poetry, articles, memoirs etc.
I’ve always been a contemporary romance writer and I have to admit that other genre novels don’t really interest me (as a writer).  Although I’m an historian by profession, I’ve no real desire to write an historical novel – the research scares me, because the historian in me wouldn’t accept anything but total accuracy, and I’d have to spend too much time researching every little thing!  I had a long break from fiction writing after the mid-80’s.  In the 90’s I wrote articles for the national Girl Guide magazine here in the UK.  I had my own ‘slot’ for about 5 years, and wrote an article each month, mainly ideas for group leaders but also training articles for district leaders.  I also had a small booklet published with ideas for youth leaders.   

5) Is this a hobby or do you plan to make a career from writing?
I’m in my 60’s now and retired after about 25 years of teaching history in high schools, so it’s basically a hobby.  Even in the heady days of the 60’s and 70’s when my books were published by Mills and Boon, and also Harlequin, I didn’t earn enough to live on, despite the very welcome checks every six months.  So I’ve no illusions about earning millions from my writing, even though that would be very nice!

6) What authors do you admire?
My favourite author is Sharon Penman, who writes historical novels.  Her research is superb, and she also brings to life people from the past.  I have a lot of other favourite authors, usually historical authors like John Jakes (I love his Civil War trilogy) and Edward Rutherfurd, who has written sagas centred around specific places from past to present – at the moment I’m reading his book about Dublin.

7) What music, places, people inspire you?
Places inspire me the most.  My second novel, ‘Fragrance of Violets’ (to be released early next year) is set mainly in England’s Lake District, which I know and love. 
A year ago, I couldn’t ever have imagined setting a novel in Egypt, but my trip there inspired my current novel. More recently, I was in Ireland, and visited a place which was used as a location for the movie ‘The Quiet Man’ (with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara). A cottage there has been transformed into the cottage in the movie, and in the visitor’s book I saw Maureen O’Hara’s signature (she was there the day before we visited – bad timing, what?)  But that triggered an idea for a future novel.

8) What do you do when you have writer's block?
I don’t think I get writer’s block as such, but I do get stuck sometimes on how to get my characters from A to B in my novels (or in some cases from Y to Z!).  Most times I tend to write through that – hard to explain but I let the characters sort themselves out!  I might eventually delete some of what I write, but at least it has got my characters from one important point to another in the novel.

9) Have you submitted anything yet? Even a letter to an editor, written for high school publications, other blogs etc?
Short answer – lots of times! I’ve been incredibly lucky, actually.  The first novel I wrote in the 60’s was accepted by the first publisher to whom I sent it, with a contract for 2 more which I duly supplied.  Another novel was accepted by Robert Hale (UK) in the 70’s. More recently, ‘His Leading Lady’ was accepted, as a first submission, by Whiskey Creek and they have also accepted my second novel ‘Fragrance of Violets’. 

10) How long did it take you to write your latest release?
I wrote it, put it aside for a couple of months, then went back to it and, with the help of my two critique partners, tightened it up.  So, all in all, probably about 9 months.  A bit like the gestation of a baby, actually!

11) Are you part of a critique group or writer's guild?
I have two great critique partners.  I couldn’t survive without them!  They’re totally honest, which is what I value the most.  They’ve helped me to improve my writing and to see when something isn’t working right.  They’ve also brainstormed ideas with me when I’ve got ‘stuck’ at some point of the plot.  I’ve learnt a lot from critiquing their stories too, so it’s a two-way process.

12) Where do you live - city, state?
I live just outside the city of Manchester in the north-west of England.  I have been here for 45+ years, although I grew up in a medium-sized town about 35 miles away.  So I’ve lived in north-west England all my life, and I love this area.  There is so much history, going right back to the Romans, and so much beautiful countryside surrounding the city.  I can be in the countryside in about 15 minutes. 

13) When working on your novels do you complete an outline first or did you just start writing?
I’m basically a pantser.  When I start a novel, I have a vague idea where it’s going and what the ending will be, but I let my characters lead me.  It’s a voyage of discovery with them, even though they do things that surprise me at times, and then leave me to sort out the problems they have created!  When I started ‘His Leading Lady’ I had some basic ideas but my characters added other ideas.  With my ‘Nile Romance’ I had no idea when I first started that it was going to be as complex as it has become!

14) What is your writing process like? Certain hours that you find more productive, a routine, a set amount of time or a number of pages you make yourself write everday etc.
I’m a night owl, my brain works better in the evenings. This is possibly a throwback to when I was teaching, so evenings were my only time to write.  Or maybe simply that I just don’t ‘do’ mornings!  I’m in awe of people who can start writing at 6am!  Maybe they are in awe of me that I can still be writing at 1am! I don’t set myself any word or page targets. Sometimes I can agonise over 20 words, other times I can write 2,000 with no problem. 

15) Would you care to share your latest release with us?
‘His Leading Lady’ was released in June by Whiskey Creek Press.  It’s a contemporary romance, set mainly in London’s West End theatre world. Jess Harper’s predictable life is turned upside down when she discovers that Lora, her twin sister, has disappeared.  It’s just a week before rehearsals are due to start for a new West End musical in which Lora has the lead role.  Jess decides to pose as her sister in order to save Lora's career.  This brings her into close contact with arrogant theatre director Kyle Drummond.  Attraction sparks between them but there’s also evidence that he had been dating Lora.  So is Jess simply a substitute – in real life as well as in the show?  And what will happen when Lora eventually returns?

The first chapter is available as a ‘free read’ on the Whiskey Creek website –

Saturday, June 25, 2011

5 Steps to Writing a Successful Speech

A speech can be nerve racking to write and tongue tying to deliver. Whether you are preparing a speech for yourself or someone else to deliver, there are five steps that can make the process much easier.
1.)    Length of Your Speech - Determine how long your speech should take. If you don't have a time limit, try to keep your speech brief yet informative. Rehearse and time your speech before delivering it. Prune it if necessary. If you'll be presenting a great deal of information, consider using handouts or visual aids to help your audience remember your points. Remember not to cram too many ideas into your speech. Research shows the audience will forget 75 percent of any speech within 24 hours. The important thing during your talk is to repeat and reinforce the key ideas.
2.)    Choose a Topic - Are you there to train, motivate, or entertain? How about a combination of all three? You have to know the purpose of your talk. If you are asked to select a topic for your speech, then pick topics with which you are familiar. Don't choose a particular topic just because it is currently in vogue or merely because you want to sound intelligent – you will fail. The demographics of your audience can influence your topic as well. Know as much as possible about the age, political affiliation, gender, race, ethnicity, education background and personal experience of the majority of your audience. Then plan your speech to suit them. Think about your audience and let your perception of the audience shape the tone of your speech as you write it.
3.)    First Draft - Begin with an introduction that establishes who you are, what your purpose is, what you'll be talking about and how long you're going to take. You may want to include a joke, anecdote or interesting fact to grab the audience's attention. The introduction should make up about 10 percent of the total speech. The conclusion should make up 5 percent. Organize your information into three to seven main points and prioritize them according to importance and effectiveness. Add support to each point using statistics, facts, examples, anecdotes, quotations or other supporting material.
4.)    Another Pass - When preparing your speech, make your notes easy to read by writing or printing them in large, clear letters. Some say writing a speech is in many ways like writing a paper, except that there is no penalty for spelling and punctuation errors. I disagree with this statement. Spelling and grammatical errors can cause the reader (even when it’s the same person who wrote the piece) to err in the delivery. Misspellings can cause mispronunciation. Grammatical use can cue the reader for appropriate pauses and emphasis that when lost can ruin the effectiveness of delivery. Try not to use words you are not comfortable pronouncing or don't know the meaning of because it can lead to a less fluently delivered speech. Write it the way you would like it to sound during the actual presentation. By writing all these out, you won't leave out any good phrases, proverbs or quotes which you want to incorporate in your talk. Remember you are there not to read but present, so go for short sentences. Avoid pompous or big words. Use natural conversational style of language. Don't worry about short abrupt incomplete sentences. Choose strong suitable verbs and direct speech for stronger emphasis.
5.)    Final Copy - Delete points that aren't crucial to your speech if you have too many for your time frame. Start with your most important point. Next, go to your least important point and move slowly back toward the most important. For example, if you have five points with No. 5 being the most important and No. 1 being the least important, your presentation order would be 5-1-2-3-4. Link your introduction, points and conclusions together with smooth transitions. Make certain the conclusion summarizes each of your points, restates your main purpose and leaves the audience with a lasting impression.
Follow these five speech writing tips when you are planning your next speech or presentation. Can you think of any other tips to add?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Author Interview: Ann Best

Ann Best is the author of IN THE MIRROR, A MEMOIR OF SHATTERED SECRETS. It is the story of a woman who planned on her marriage lasting forever.

When Ann marries Larry in September of 1961, she is certain he will be that eternal companion. Eleven years later, she is devastated to learn that he has been having affairs with men. She wants to help him. She wants to save her marriage. However, powerful emotions pull Larry away from his family, and eight years later their marriage ends. As a single parent, Ann is now faced with four grieving children who do not want to leave their father and their home in Utah Valley. But Ann needs to start a new life in a new place. In the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Ann at last makes peace with the past.

The book was released in May 2011 by WiDo Publishing. Ann lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia and you can learn more about her from the interview below or by visiting her blogs: http://annbest-jen.blogspot.com/ and http://annbestblog.wordpress.com

  1. How did you develop an interest in writing?
I can’t say how I “developed” an interest. I only know that as far back as I can remember I liked to write stories, maybe because my mother read to me, nursery rhymes and fairy tales; I do remember those. That was 1946. I vaguely recall my first grade teacher encouraging me to do a “newspaper.” I still have it, two front-and-back brittle and yellowed pages that were printed on some kind of old printing device. I was the publisher, editor, and writer. Then in sixth grade (1952) I wrote a story I called “Call of the Canyon” that the teacher had me read to the class. It was heady stuff.

2. Tell me a little about your blog - address, how long you’ve been blogging, etc.
When I signed a contract in December of 2009 with my publisher, I was told I needed to set up a website and/or blog because with a disabled daughter I wouldn’t be able to leave my home to promote my book. Now I know that a static website isn’t worth much alone. Blogging is how you make contacts with people. I started with WordPress that my son linked to a website, but he didn’t have time to help me, and so, especially at the urging of well-known Blogger Karen Gowen, I set up a blogspot blog. As simple as it is, it still took me months to learn it. But now I also have a WordPress blog that I just put up, with a little bit of hired help. I love it. I love the sleek, professional look. I love the way you can reply right beneath each comment. And I love its flexibility. So I’m maintaining both, hoping to make even more new friends through each channel.

3. I see you are working on a MS - please tell me a little about it.
Working Title: Loving My Brother Again
Genre: Memoir
How I got the idea? Well, when I first entered the graduate writing program, back in 1982 after my divorce from my first husband (main thread of my current published memoir) I took an autobiography writing workshop. After seeing some of the scenes I wrote, the professor encouraged me to write an autobiographical thesis, which turned out to be the beginning over thirty years later, of In the Mirror. So you can see I was in the memoir writing mode, and by now, at age 71, I’m definitely at the age to write a memoir. After graduate school and my daughters’ accident that crippled the oldest one, my younger brother, recently deceased, came into my life again. For a while he was homeless. I took him in. I had experiences that I recorded at the time, in narrative style. Lots of dialogue, which is my strong point. I even wrote a short story with some of the material that I submitted to a high-paying magazine, The Sun, who didn’t accept it but in a handwritten note the editor encouraged me to submit again. So, this is the novel, maybe novella, I’m working on now. I have quite a bit written, but I’ve got to figure out how to weave the past into it.

4. What other styles do you write? I have written poetry, one a poem that won first place at George Mason University and then Grand Prize, a thousand dollars back when it wasn’t a commercial thing. I really did get the money, on a day I needed it, and it was published in the American Poetry Anthology. I wrote a lot of other poems, too, that have been published. I actually did part poetry, part fiction for my MFA degree at GMU. I’ve also published some short stories and personal essays.

5. Is this a hobby or do you plan to make a career from writing?
At my age, it doesn’t seem likely I’ll make a career from writing, not in the way that, for example, Stephen King has. My writing hasn’t been what you would call a career in the strict sense of the word. It’s just something I always loved, and have always done. It was my one main interest in life, outside of family and church.

6. What authors do you admire?
There are so many. Recently I’ve felt drawn back to the writers I read in my youth, some of whom who were still living and writing when I read them in the Fifties and early Sixties: F. Scott Fitzgerald (I was born May 1940, he died that December), Ernest Hemingway (died in 1961), Harper Lee (she’s now 85 - if I wrote only one To Kill A Mockingbird I’d be satisfied). Superb writers. I read Dostoevsky and Boris Pasternak. I read Bernard Malamud and Saul Bellow (in a graduate class). I also admire Black Like Me that I remember vividly, a powerful non-fiction book by Howard Griffin. I was 21 when it was published and I read it. Incredible authors. I also admire the confessional poets Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, and Robert Lowell. I think Stephen King is superb, and Pat Conroy. And Richard Bausch, prize winning novelist who is five years younger than I and who was one of my thesis advisors. He’s an awesome storyteller. There are just so many…I’d better stop.

7. What music, places, people inspire you?
Music: The classics: Vivaldi, Beethoven, Brahams. Johnny Cash. Anne Murray. Juice Newton. The Beatles (I was there in 1960, age 20, when they arrived on the scene). Peter, Paul & Mary. Mormon Tabernacle Choir. And many, many others.
Places: Virginia, especially the Shenandoah Valley where I now live. But I’ve seen some awesome places: Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and the small farms of the state where I was born: Utah.
People: Of course I’m drawn to great leaders of strength and integrity, but even more to the “little” people of the world who quietly, with dignity and love, raise their children and contribute to their community.

8. What do you do when you have writer’s block?
I stop what I’m writing and work on something else. Or, more frequently, I just do something different. Walk. Blog (I can spend far too much time on this). Watch movies (I grew up on Hollywood movies and love them, and a few years ago wrote two screenplays that I’m itching to get back to). Recently, having been so bogged down with revisions and now book promotion, I was wondering if I could write again. So I decided to do it Hemingway style: write at least 1000 words each day (I’m glad it’s so much faster on the computer than composing in longhand and then typing on the typewriter, the one I did it long ago). I wanted to write a short story, maybe enter it in a contest, deadline two weeks away; a story I roughed out in graduate school that was sitting full-blown in my mind. I did my thousand words a day, and emailed it to the contest with no days to spare. So for those who think they have “writer’s block,” just ignore it.

9. How long did it take you to write your current MS?
I wrote my autobiographical thesis, the basis of the memoir, in 1988. I wrote snatches of “memoir” off and on after that. Then finally, with the help of excellent editors at WiDo Publishing, I finished In the Mirror.

10. Are you part of a critique group or writer’s guild?
No. Though I have been in the past. They can be helpful if it’s a group of people who are honest with their responses.

11. Have you ever attended a writer’s conference?
Yes, in 1976. None since then.

12. When working on your current manuscript, did you complete an outline first or did you just start writing?
Regarding my recently published memoir: as I said above, I wrote the beginning first as a thesis and then began revising/adding to it. Then, after I got a contract, I realized that The End wasn’t the end. I needed to keep going, so I brought in pieces I had written as part of what I thought might be a different memoir. It was a ragged way of doing it, and for my second memoir I’m determined to lay it out, maybe on a storyboard as some blogger recently called it, so that when it’s time to put it together from beginning to end I won’t get so confused!

13. What is your writing process like? Certain hours that you find more productive, a routine, a set amount of time or a number of pages you make yourself write every day, etc.
I’m most productive early or later in the day, never mid-day. But I have stretches when I don’t write anything. In graduate school I had to write because there were deadlines. There were contests I wanted to enter, so there were deadlines. When I got the contract for the first memoir, deadlines. So I wrote and wrote long hours every day. Once I get started on this second memoir, I think I’ll do what I did with the short story I sent to the contest and write a minimum number of words at least five days a week. Or, in the planning stages, I’ll make myself write at least two hours a day.

14. Do you have an editor or agent?
I had an editor until recently when she turned me over to the sales and distribution department. This was when the last galleys of In the Mirror were done.

15. Would you care to share your opening paragraph (hook) with us?
For my memoir in progress, Loving My Brother Again, I might use this as my opening (hook). I submitted it to Nathan Bransford’s “contest” back in January 2011 and won honorable mention out of over 1500 entries. That was exciting. I don’t know what the beginning will be--they usually change when the whole thing’s done--but this might not end up on the cutting room floor.


Emotionally, I knew the desert long before I learned about its history. As a child growing up in it, I felt the wilderness beyond Jordan, fifteen miles of useless alkali flats that bring you to the Great Salt Lake desert, once the graveyard of western wagons, its waterholes seventy-five miles apart, its heat blistering, its white wastes as hard on the eyes as a snowfield. Oxen, horses, and men left their bones in this desert, the same desert that killed Jed Smith when he made the first crossing in 1827, and betrayed the Donner party, killing their cattle, weakening them, and slowing them down as they struggled toward California. The same desert country I crossed one summer in a car with my parents and my brother to visit my sister in California, naively thinking that I was safe. Years later, I would recall that trip and see it as metaphor of the trouble I would have with my brother.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Writing the Stress Away

I am sitting on the couch; cuddled up with my youngest while my oldest is at Mother’s Day Out. We are recovering from a girls get away and the inevitable “catch up” period of returning home from vacation. My mother, daughters and I recently returned from a trip to Dallas to find all sorts of problems. It’s strange how so many things can go wrong while you’re out of town.

I spent all day yesterday trying to get things back in order. Today is my spa or therapy day.  I write and blog for fun. I know if I start visiting blogs and typing comments or random thoughts, the words will flow. This is the miraculous process of writing, and why it can be so therapeutic.

It's amazing the freedom one can feel when they find a way to express themselves. Some people draw, play the piano, crochet, etc., to relieve their stress. Writing is my creative outlet. When I write, I am happy.  I can create entire worlds and creatures for the entertainment of my children, I can have the insurance agent die from a car bomb (see how I deal with annoying characters from real life? ;-) and I can give my characters the happily ever after we all secretly want.

I know what my gifts or talents are in life. I’m still developing mine and it can be a great escape or relief from the stress of daily life. I write for myself first. I hope you do as well.
If you are interested in sharing your own stressful tales, Chicken Soup for the Soul has a call out for a new book. Say Goodbye to Stress! - Everyone feels stressed out at some point in their lives. Many people have trouble getting their stress under control and are looking for help. They're seeking stories about people who have felt or feel stressed out, found a way to resolve their stress, learned to rethink their stress, improved their lives by handling stress, etc. Your stories will provide the inspiration and comfort to those who are stressed out. The deadline date for story submissions is August 7, 2011.
I’m sorry if I haven’t made it around to your blog in a while, posted your interview or guest blog yet. I promise to get to it as soon as possible. Happy Writing!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Author Interview: Kathy Stemke

Day 6 of Kathy Stemke's Book Tour June 18th

Sibling Rivalry

Kathy Stemke has a passion for writing, the arts and all things creative. She has Bachelor degrees from Southern Connecticut State University and Covenant Life Seminary, as well as graduate coursework from New York Institute of Technology and Columbia University.

Hanging her hat in the North Georgia Mountains, she has been a teacher, tutor, and writer for many years. As a freelance writer and ghostwriter, Kathy has published hundreds of articles in directories, websites and magazines. She is a contributing editor for The National Writing for Children's Center http://writingforchildrencenter.com/ and a reviewer for Sylvan Dell Publishing. As a retired teacher, Kathy has several activities published with Gryphon House Publishing. Kathy is also part of the team at DKV Writing 4 U. http://http://www.dkvwriting4u.com/

Kathy’s first children’s picture book, Moving Through All Seven Days, was published on Lulu. Her next picture book, Sh, Sh, Sh Let the Baby Sleep, was released in May of 2011. Her third picture book, Trouble on Earth Day is scheduled for release in June of 2011.

1. How did you develop an interest in writing?
During my teenage years I began writing poetry. Later, I coupled my poetry with my photography to create books. Soon I found myself writing poetry online which lead me to Helium. When I sold a Helium article for $240, I was hooked. As a retired teacher, I now had the confidence to start my own blog for teachers.

2. Tell me a little about your blog.
Since my background was in dance and primary education, I often joined the two disciplines together in the classroom with great success. I soon found out children retained more of what they learned when they moved their bodies while learning. I invented all kinds of games, songs, and activities that taught phonics,
math and science. That’s what I share on my blog and in my free monthly newsletter titled, Movement and Rhythm. You can sign up at http://educationtipster.blogspot.com/.

3. Are you part of a critique group?
Yes, it’s called bridging the gap. We’re all children’s writers from picture books to YA. Each lady has a different strength and it all works well together. It’s the encouragement we give each other that keeps us plugging away.

In my new picture book, Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep, Zachary exhibits some sibling rivalry when his new baby sister arrives. I’m sure most of us can relate to that. When given the task of keeping her safe, however, his deeper feelings come to the surface. Being a superhero helps Zachary defend his sister during some dangerous events.

4. Kathy what is your most vivid memory of sibling rivalry?
When we were young, my brother and I had to share a room. We hung a rope across the room and draped a blanket over it. That gave us some privacy. But the door was on his side of the room. Sooooo my big brother yelled at me every time I left or entered the room. Then there’s the time he tried to strangle me…..hehehe. Now he’s my best friend.

Question for my readers: What is your most vivid memory of sibling rivalry?

SUPERHERO TRIVIA QUESTION: DAY 6 Who would you expect to find in the Bat Cave?

Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson are just two of this super hero's loves. Who is the super hero?
ANSWER: Spider-man. Gwen Stacy was killed by the Green Goblin. While Mary Jane Watson, the girl next door, went on to marry Spider-man. Of course we must not forget his Aunt May as one of his loves!

Remember; Every answer or comment you make during this book tour puts your name in the hat for a fantastic prize, which includes amazon gift certificates, books, superhero figurines, and much

Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep can be found: Guardian Angel Publishing: http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/shshsh.htm


Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/sh-sh-sh-let-the-baby-sleep?store=book

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Glimpse of the Book Fetish

My husband often picks on me about the number of books I read at one time. I tend to keep a book in each room, in my purse/diaper bag and several on the night stand. I never know when I will find the time to read. Sometimes it may be only five minutes in the kitchen while I wait for dinner to come to a boil. Subsequently, I’m seldom reading only one book at a time. I can't even manage to stick to the same genre!
I also have a Nook Color (Christmas Present from my husband) that has more than one hundred downloads. While I enjoy my Nook, I tend to use it more as a tablet or notebook than just an e-reader. My children love running their fingers across the screen to turn the pages and the zoo/animal show applications. They may use it more than I do. I still prefer the tangible page turner.
My husband once asked me how I can read the same book more than once. “Don’t you sometimes watch the same movie more than once?”  Bless him he is so patient and understanding of my book fetish. Even after losing almost all of my books in a flood three years ago, I own more than I have room for on the shelves.
How about you? Do you prefer hardback, paperback or e-reader? What are you reading now?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Author Interview: Denise Covey

Denise Covey currently lives in inner-city Brisbane, Queensland, (Australia) and also has a beach house at Peregian Beach (100 kilometres north) on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. She says people are surprised when she, a country girl, say how much she loves inner-city living.
“It suits me for now. Everything’s just a quick walk away – the best libraries, research facilities, museums, art galleries, performing arts centres. I love it. But I do enjoy the beach every chance I get.”
In addition to being a published author, avid blogger and traveler, Denise hosts writing competitions for other writers and is planning an anthology. To learn more, you can visit one of her blogs mentioned in the interview below.

 First of all, thank you so much Sylvia for inviting me to your blog today. I’m more than happy to answer your questions.
SYLVIA: How did you develop an interest in writing?
DENISE: I’ve always been a bookworm and loved English at school. By the time I was 11 I had a story published in our local paper so that inspired me no end.
SYLVIA: Tell me a little about your blogs - addresses, how long you've been blogging etc.
DENISE: I began blogging when I returned from my last overseas trip in 2008.  I wanted a place to write about my travels (one of my goals is to write a travel narrative.) I’d just given up full-time high school teaching and decided my next phase of life was to be devoted to writing.
I used to call myself TrainsandBoatsandPlanes. My first post was about being robbed in Italy. I spent so much time writing that post and adding photos I’d taken and still love it even though I don’t think anyone else actually read it. It’s right at the bottom of my L’Aussie posts if you’d like to be the first, ha ha.
I have several blogs. Last year I decided my writing blog, L’Aussie Writing  (http://laussieswritingblog.blogspot.com/) was getting very cluttered so I decided to have different blogs for different aspects of my writing.
My other blogs are:
http://laussiestravelblog.blogspot.com for my travel stories/photos. Here I wrote daily posts during the recent A – Z Challenge so there are many exotic destinations to check out. I’m currently posting my travel itinerary and research for my next trip – France – Spain – Morocco…
http://pichetsinparis.blogspot.com devoted to my regular travels, stories and book reviews.
http://flashquake.blogspot.com dedicated to my #fridayflash stories most Fridays.
I also collaborate on a book review blog, Reading at Dawn, with Dawn Embers and Writers Block NZ. Its address is: http://readingatdawn.blogspot.com. I post a review every fortnight.
I’ve just launched a Romantic Friday Writers site where romance writers can showcase their work. I’ve teamed up with my Pommie blogger friend Francine Howarth from Romancing the Blog for this project. I hope any romance writers reading this will check it out and join in the fun. We are going to feature a Writer of the Week and are considering collating an anthology of the best romantic flash fiction stories to publish in Summer 2012. http://fridaynightwriters.blogspot.com.
SYLVIA: I see you are working on a MS - please tell me a little about it - Title, genre, how you got the idea etc.
DENISE: I am actually working on two ms’s (when I’m not blogging, ha ha.) Both are stories I wrote during NaNoWriMo’s madness. My story ideas come from my travels and general people watching skills. I have a lot of cultural interchange in my novels – that’s what always drew me to the old Mills and Boon plots – exotic locales, clash of cultures… My stories I believe are good stories, but they still need a lot of editing. I try to be working on one of them at all times (in between blogging and other projects like short story writing and flash fiction.) Hopefully I will be finished editing at least one before NaNoWriMo this November. I love NaNoWriMo for getting words on the page, it’s what comes after that hurts.
SYLVIA: What styles do you write - genre novels, poetry, articles, memoirs etc.
DENISE:  My first love is short story writing which I have published in Australian magazines. I always have several on the go and they usually feature gutsy strong women. The ones that gather dust are often reinvented for blogfests. Both of my novels lean towards the romance genre, but my second is romance suspense, not Mills & Boon style. I also have written and published travel articles and as I say I am burning to get a travel narrative underway but it’ll have to wait until I return from my next overseas trip (June/July this year.) More research. I love it.
SYLVIA: Is this a hobby or do you plan to make a career from writing?
DENISE:  Hard to say. I’d love it to be a career but I’m juggling too much at the moment. I would love to dedicate more time to writing, but like most people, I have a lot of other responsibilities.
SYLVIA: What authors do you admire?
DENISE:  The list would be endless, but my favourites who come to mind are Anita Shreve, Pat Conroy, Jodi Picoult, Frances Mayes (and many other travel narrative writers), Paullina Simons, Lisa See, and oldies but goodies like Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway and F Scott Fitzgerald.
SYLVIA: What music, places, people inspire you?
DENISE:  I love 60’s music – the Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkle etc, Enya, U2 and most anthem rockers. I’m inspired by the beach, Europe, Australia’s wide open spaces.
SYLVIA: What do you do when you have writer's block?
DENISE:  I don’t really suffer from this malady. If the words aren’t flowing I’ll take myself off the computer and go for a walk, read a book, have a coffee. By the time I sit down for a coffee, the notebook is out again.
SYLVIA: Have you submitted anything yet? Even a letter to an editor, written for high school publications, other blogs etc?
DENISE: Yes, I should submit more as I have files full of work ready to send off. I regularly submit to a woman’s fiction magazine in Australia and have been accepted there. I’ve had articles/photos published in Australian travel magazines, and regularly write new stories for #fridayflash fiction which I publish most Fridays. Writing book reviews is something else I do. I’ve had reviews published on bookseratz and now contribute to the book review site, Reading at Dawn.
SYLVIA: How long did it take you to write your current MS?
DENISE:  One month during NaNoWriMo, but it will take me a year to rewrite, edit and polish.
SYLVIA: Are you part of a critique group or writer's guild?
DENISE: No, sadly. I was a member of the Australian Writers Guild but not anymore. I’m not really a joiner but I guess I should be (((sighs))). But I do swap critiques with other trusted blogger friends. Any offers?
SYLVIA: Have you ever attended a writer's conference?
DENISE:  No, not officially, but when the Brisbane Writer’s Conference is on (just across the road from me), I go over and do a bit of meeting and greeting and buy a truckload of books. Each year I promise myself I’ll put my name down for the sessions I’m interested in before they’re booked out.
SYLVIA: When working on your current MS did you complete an outline first or did you just start writing?
DENISE: I had a pretty good idea of most of the outline before I started. I also knew my main characters well before I put my fingers to the keyboard. My first novel was pretty much written pantser style. I tried to go through the whole outline process, character interviews etc for the second, but still ended up being a pantser rather than a plotter.
SYLVIA: What is your writing process like? Certain hours that you find more productive, a routine, a set amount of time or a number of pages you make yourself write everyday etc.
DENISE: I work as an English tutor most afternoons/evenings (gotta keep working if I want to keep travelling), so I get up at 6 am every day and can get hours of writing done on an uninterrupted day. I drink gallons of tea and water, and get up regularly for snacks or go for a walk and sit in the sun awhile. I come back inspired. It’s a sad day when I can’t write anything due to other commitments. Sometimes I get good short story ideas whilst waiting for my students and they often find me scratching away in my notebook when they arrive.
SYLVIA: Do you have an editor or agent?
DENISE: No I don’t. I haven’t gone looking for one, but I did have a call from an American editor last Christmas when I was up at the beach. I’m still tossing emails back and forth with her. Who knows where it will lead?
SYLVIA: Would you care to share your opening paragraph (hook) with us?
DENISE: Yes. Okay. If you’re game. Here’s the opening paragraph of my 2010 NaNoWriMo novel, The Search for the last Cowboy. If anyone would like to critique it, please feel free…I need to get back to it…
Looking back on the day, she had no idea it would be the last time she would ever be truly happy. If she’d known, she would have spent time soaking up the sight of her freshly-hung white voile curtains flapping in the morning breeze. She would have relished the perfect blueness of the spring sky, inhaled the aroma of the freshly-mown grass. She would have listened more closely to the birdsong. She would have stepped through the trees to the beach and watched the delicate waves breaking against the soft, pale sand. She would have run along the beach, feeling the squelch of wet sand through her toes. She would have done all those things and more if she had known what was about to happen.
Denise recently won second place in the Lost on the Rock short story contest, and her story can be read here: