Tuesday, November 22, 2022

A Trip to the Past

We're getting to the beginning of the Holiday Season, and to me that is a perfect opportunity to do some holiday book shopping. It's also a good time to look for that new author to read or even try reading in a new genre. What better way to spend those long winter nights than curled up with a good book in front of the fireplace or sitting by the window watching the snow fall?


To me that means looking for new authors or going back and re-visiting some authors whose books always entertain. Today's guest in My Writing Corner, L. B. Griffin, has visited with us in the past, but her books are great to keep in mind as you either select books as gifts or to read during your own holiday vacation.  


L.B. Griffin was born and raised in Bath UK, and she says she absolutely loves writing fiction. She is happily married and surrounded by her family in Wiltshire. She has always written around the full-time paid job and pays tribute to everyone she has taught and met. They have been her inspiration to write.


Whilst her stories are a complete work of fiction, they touch upon social issues, the reality of life. They are filled with gentle hints of romance. Her women are strong, courageous, they are survivors. Though they don't necessarily see themselves that way, they certainly are. Her debut novel, Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox was released world-wide mid-2021. It immediately received rave reviews. The sequel, The Twenty-One-Year Contract, also a standalone, also continues to receive excellent reviews. These are complete works of fiction. 


Tell us about your road to publication.


I don’t think it’s that unusual to find authors writing around the full-time paid job. This is what I did, for years. I’d get up at silly o’clock, before flying out the door to do the work that paid the bills. Then I retired.  


I’d never been confident enough to submit my work, However, I continued to write as my imaginary friends always start yammering away when I’m trying to sleep. They tell me what to write, what to say, and how important their stories are.  I have to listen, and I have to share their stories, after all, who am I to argue? 😊


Then one day, not so long ago, a friend, who turned out to be an editor in our critiquing group, suggested I should get my story out there before ‘I popped my clogs.’ Yes, that blunt! I think it was the push I needed. Three months later and I was offered a contract! I’m still stunned. Of course, there is more to this than I can share right here, but all I’m saying is if I can do it, then I urge you to try before it’s too late!  


How do you come up with your plots?


My imaginary friends are to blame for the plots. I just write what they tell me to write.


How do you develop characters?


I have a characterization sheet. It’s on my blog. www.wifeinthewest.com but I guess you can find one on the net easily enough.


I used to use this as a starting point to get to know them better. To know what’s in their fridge maybe, even though I might not use it in the story. I want to know what makes them tick. Now it feels more natural just to go for it as I’ve had a bit of practice. If I’m stuck I will check the list and see what I might have missed.

 

What is your latest book and how did you come up with the idea to write it?


My latest book is called The Twenty-One-Year Contract and although standalone, it is the sequel to Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox. 


My books reflect all the layers of life. It comes from a lifetime of experience, and working with all walks of life, from cleaning to teaching. Each person I have met has taught me to listen, not to judge, but then I carefully reconstruct those stories into fiction. They are my inspiration.  I write about the survivors. They are my hero’s. I admire them the most. However, it never fails to surprise me how my bullies tend to shine, because they are the people you love to hate.

I also encapsulate coincidence because life is full of it. Ask yourself, have you ever walked down a street and bumped into someone you haven’t seen for years and would never have expected to meet again? I’m sure you can think of a strange coincidence of your own. It has happened to me, so many times, and in so many extraordinary ways. 


BLURB:


1950s London. Who would have guessed a contract, a friend, and a simple shoebox would hold life changing secrets…


Kathleen Gray—talented, a little wild, at times rebellious, but always popular—has a fun, easy life in rural Somerset, with a doting family.


Suddenly, they are gone, everything is changed, and she has only Uncle Jack. Try as he might, he cannot be father and mother to her—he has a business to run and his own life to manage.


Kathleen takes a chance and becomes Kate Westfield, fending for herself in London, with a new life built on her hopes and dreams and new friends. She could hardly have imagined that one of those friends has a shoebox full of answers.


EXCERPT:


The more Kate understood, she didn’t like, and a niggle of doubt grew. Then one evening everything seemed to slot into place. Girls came and went. It hadn’t been obvious, at first, but why she’d missed it to begin with she couldn’t understand. One party they were there, the next they had vanished, and new girls replaced them. Kate couldn’t work out who they were, where they came from, or why they disappeared. Forever curious, she just had to find out, and tonight was the perfect time. A young girl caught her attention. She was on a much older man’s arm. It wasn’t an unusual occurrence, but soon after a few drinks she looked wobbly on her feet, and slightly distressed.  He could have just been helping her to the bathroom, but Kate doubted it. She decided to follow them at a discreet distance, stopping when necessary, looking at paintings hung on the wall, still watching the girl who, by her walk appeared inebriated. Before long, the couple arrived at a door marked private. They went in. Worried, more for the girl than her own safety, she turned the knob.


What are you working on now?


Work in progress. Contemporary romance with lots of tongue in cheek humour. Maybe, dare I say, a more rounded Brigit Jones. No more on that subject. Lots of work to be done. 😊


What advice do you have for beginning writers?


There is no right or wrong way to begin writing. The best bit of advice I can give is write whatever comes into your head, fact, or fiction. Ask yourself what makes you tick? What gives you that buzz when you think about it? 


This is what you should start writing about. It will give you the motivation, the drive to keep you going because it is something you know and love.


I would also suggest you join a critique group and/or a creative writing course. Writing is a lonely occupation. It is important and good to have the support of like-minded people around you.


Here are the Buy links for her books:

mybook.to/twentyone

http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/isbn9781509239733

Amazon

Barnes and Noble


Here are her Social Contacts:

LBGriffinAuthoruk

mybook.to/twentyone

Where silence turns to courage, survival and happiness

https://fb.watch/b3c2bZPyRF/

www.instagram.com/lynngriffinauthoruk 

www.Facebook.com/lynngriffinauthor/

www.twitter.com/lbgriffinauthor

www.wifeinthewest.com 

#WorldLiterature #fiction #womens #British #romance #mystery #historical #suspense #mystery 

@kindlestore @kindle ebooks @LBGriffinAuthor #wrpbks mybook.to/twentyone

mybook.to/twentyone

Blackwell Press

Waterstones

WH Smith

And all good bookstores

Thank you, Lynn for being my guest today. Any comments or questions for Lynn?


Tuesday, November 15, 2022

A Visit to the Wild Wylder West

The world of journalism is a fascinating place, and that is why I can really relate to today's guest in My Writing Corner. As someone who dreamed of joining that special world from the time I was in grade school, until I got my first job at a college newspaper, and through later years as a broadcast journalist, I've always been partial to people in that profession. Today's guest in My Writing Corner is not only someone I can readily relate to, but I am also excited about her latest work that is set in my area of the country.

Barbara Bettis is a multi-award-winning author who says she can't recall a time she didn't love the adventures of daring heroes and plucky heroines. She is a retired journalist and college English and Journalism teacher, She lives in Missouri where she tries to keep her grandchildren supplied with cookies. When she's not editing for others, she's working on her own stories with heroines to die for-- and heroes to live for. 

Barbara, tell us about your road to publication.


I began writing fiction late—after I’d retired from teaching and after my husband died. I had wonderful friends and crit partners and from one of those good friends, I learned about The Wild Rose Press, which she published through. So when I was looking for a publisher for my first medieval, I contacted it. I was thrilled to be accepted and I’m still happily publishing with TWRP. 

How do you come up with your plots?


I pick out a general time frame and location, know the political situation in the country (usually England) at the time, and come up with a hero and/or heroine. My heroes are almost always mercenaries looking for their own holding. Then I do some brainstorming on paper, some freewriting, and a lot of staring into space as my mind tries out various situations and conflicts. I have been known to get up in the middle of the night to record an idea, because I’ve learned that no matter how clear it might seem at midnight, it might be gone by 8 a.m. 


I have published five medieval novels and one short story that have formed a series with characters introduced in or connected to those from the first book. I’m hoping to set up a series like that with the story I’m plotting now.


How do you develop characters?


Technically, I figure out their physical characteristics, their backgrounds—what brought them to the point where the story begins. Then when writing starts, they seem to develop themselves. I know, that sounds vague, but it’s rather accurate. My writing is a combination of plotting and pantsing, (plotser?) so the characters round out as they go. Their personalities are pinned down in a general way at the start, and as the story grows, so do the characters. Sometimes one takes an unexpected turn as the storyline unfolds, which sends me back to revise. And, yes, characteristics of people I know or have observed sometimes turn up in my books. Mostly good. Mostly. 


What is your latest book and how did you come up with the idea to write it?


My latest title is Last Stop, Wylder, an historical Western. A fun change for this medieval gal. LOL. TWRP put out a call to its authors for stories set in 1878 and centered around a fictitious Wyoming town called Wylder. (The series has opened up to non-historical stories set around the town.) I did a bit of reading about early Wyoming Territory and was fascinated by the fact that it was the first place in the country or territories to allow women to vote. That and my interest in frontier newspapers formed parts of the story.


Let's find out more about your book:


A gunman’s word is his bond, and a lady’s trust can shatter.


Gunman Morgan Dodd is headed to a new life in California, where no one knows his name. Or his reputation. Just one last job to raise money for his fresh start—gunhand for a railroad agent in Wyoming. Easy enough. Until he meets the woman who could change everything.


After ending her engagement, Emily Martin longs for independence. She sets out for Wylder, Wyoming, to help her brother with his newspaper. But when she arrives, she finds he’s off investigating a story. Well, then! She’ll simply publish the paper herself until he returns. Emily’s prepared to face challenges, but not the dangerous stranger who ambushes her heart. The same man hired to destroy her livelihood.


When a common enemy threatens, Morgan and Emily must find a way to defeat danger and save their budding love. But a gunman’s word is his bond, and a lady’s trust can shatter.

How about an excerpt?

From the crest of a bluff east of Denver, Morgan Dodd considered his future. 


A new start where no one knew his name. A new life.  


West to California? Beyond the snow-flecked mountains to his left, barely visible in the early evening haze.  A land of opportunity with booming cities, wide valleys to ranch. 


He shifted in the saddle, his gaze drifting northwest. Oregon, maybe. Word of rich, fertile land sounded mighty appealing. He could settle down there, farm a little. If he remembered how to farm. God knew, it’d been long enough.


He settled back into his familiar saddle. First, though, north to Cheyenne. Where one last job awaited—and the money for that new start, wherever it lay.


Morgan glanced again at the blue-shrouded foothills to his left. The unknown. Deep in 

his chest, a hitch of anticipation had him straightening. If he rode hard, he could reach Denver by dark. Then at first light, off to start over.  Perhaps…


Something moved. His attention focused on the edge of a clearing just below. In the light dusk, three antelope ventured from a clot of trees to sample the tall, lush grass of late July, tender again after last night’s rain. 


His brief reflections forgotten, Morgan brought up his Winchester and sighted. For a moment he hesitated. The three animals were beautiful. Young, their lives ahead of them. He hated for a gun to change one forever. Nostalgia hit him, as unexpected as it was unwelcome. He swallowed it.


He had a duty and he’d best get it done. One shot brought down the biggest of the trio, sending the other two leaping for cover. 


A breeze carried the distant murmur of cattle settling in for the night on rich grazing ground to the east. Morgan dismounted and strode to collect his kill. Tomorrow his fellows on the drive would dine on something other than beans and rabbit. 


Then they’d head out for the rail head in Cheyenne. 


Cheyenne. 


His path had always been set. A new job.  Gunhand for a Union Pacific agent. 


He threw one last glance toward the mountains. 


Maybe next year. 


                                                         *****


Sounds interesting and here are the buy links to keep on reading Last Stop, Wylder:


Are you working on a new project?


I’ve  started plotting a new medieval and hope to begin on the writing in a few days.


That sounds like you will be very busy.   To learn more about Barbara and her other books, her author links follow:
Thank you for being my guest today on My Writing Corner. Any questions or comments for Barbara?

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Falling into A Dream World

As someone who has been constantly searching for new reading material ever since I was ten years old, I'm always  ready to enjoy a new story or discover a new author to read. That is why I enjoy featuring authors every week in My Writing Corner. The stories are always as varied as the books these authors produce. My guest today is author C. J. Zahner, whose latest book just came out at the beginning of the month. Let's find out more about her and her new book!

Tell us about yourself, C. J. :


I am a digital-book hoarder, lover of can't-put-down books, wife, mother, grandmother, and author. I've published six novels, am editing number seven, and writing eight and nine. I was a full-time grant writer and part-time freelance writer until 2015, when I stepped down from both jobs to write books. My freelance articles varied from business to women’s health to the paranormal while my novels center on thrillers and Chick lit, depending upon my mood. I post about can’t-put-down books I loved and other topics at
https://cyndiezahner.com/reviews/.


Tell us about your road to publication.


Fate has a way of guiding us toward the path we were meant to walk.


I selected English as a major when I applied to college. The summer beforehand, I worked at a retail store alongside four women with English degrees, so I switched my major to accounting.

I worked in the business world, but my writing skills always led me to unique assignments. Eventually, I became a full-time grant writer/administrator and a part-time freelance writer.


I quit my full-time job and began writing novels in 2015 after my brother and sister-in-law were diagnosed with early-onset dementia and Alzheimer’s. When something like that hits your family, you grab life by the reins and redirect.


Immediately, I began writing stories. I found a publisher for my first novel, published my next five novels through Kindle Direct Publishing, and here I am. 


How do you develop characters?


My novels are character-driven. I’m a runner and with every book I’ve written, the characters have run alongside me for miles before I ever wrote a single word of the book’s manuscript. 


I love people and I love studying them. Everyone has quirks, and it’s those harmless, little idiosyncrasies that bring a character alive. 


I often use experiences from my own life or the lives of my friends to build my characters. Brent, one of the characters in The Dream Diaries is a true-to-life race-car driver. He actually helped me write Brent’s chapter. Of course, Real Brent doesn’t remember a past life like Book Brent, but his personality inspired the character. It’s the same with the daredevil teacher, Annie. I used a picture my daughter, Jessie, had taken of my granddaughter for Annie on the cover of The Dream Diaries. My granddaughter could climb the refrigerator before she was two years old, just like Annie. (Let’s hope she doesn’t grow into a daredevil pilot like her!)    


What is your latest book and how did you come up with the idea to write it?


The Dream Diaries is my newest novel and the third book in my Dream Series. 


The first novel of my series, Dream Wide Awake, was inspired many years ago on a night I met fright. I was sleeping in the attic of my grandparent’s home—like LeeLee in the book. In a pitch-black hour, I awoke when someone grabbed my hand. My arm was wedged between the headboard and mattress of my bed. I felt someone’s fingers slip into mine and when I opened my eyes, he didn’t let go.

I say “he” because I was sure I clasped hands with a devil. I screamed and my mother rescued me. She said I was dreaming, but it had seemed so real I never forgot it.  Fast forward forty years. This single incident, still so alive in my memory, inspired my Dream Series. 


This third book, The Dream Diaries, was inspired when I wrote a short story for an anthology published by The Wild Rose Press. I elected to write about one of the characters from book two, Project Dream, after readers asked what happened to him—Chase. 


I knew, of course. I had Chase’s life planned out in my head. To keep characters in a series straight, a writer has to know more about them than what is written—especially minor characters. Their existence is so important to a novel, but their individual stories may not contribute to the main plot, so much of their lives are left out.


I loved several minor characters in Project Dream: Chase, the villain named Dawn, and one teacher at the military-type school, Annie. I decide to tell their stories and my first novella, The Dream Diaries, was born.


Let's get a blurb:



They were children chosen for their gifts.

One hundred kids were enrolled in a U.S. national defense program between 2002 and 2004 because they could remember past lives, read a person’s future by the touch of a hand, foresee events in dreams, or speak with angels.


The government had explored adult intuitive programs, but after 9/11, military scientists speculated young minds might be easily trained to identify threats to the American people through training. What they were unprepared for was the utter success and transcendence of the bending of a child’s mind.


These are their individual stories—the first chronicles—of the Project Dream characters who could not get out alive.



What is your next project?


As a reader, I never read one book at a time, and as a writer, I’m the same. I’m currently editing one novel and writing two.


I write two genres, Thrillers and Chick Lit, because, well, sometimes you’re in a spooky, need-a-good-scare mood, and sometimes you’re in an I’m-a-girl, need-a-good-laugh mood. I’m working on Book Four of my Dream Series, The Dream Snatchers, and Book Three of my Mothers You Hate Loving Series, Please Post Bail, Love Mom.


I am also editing a book close to my heart, The House that Loved. Many years ago, my mother took a drug called Diethylstilbesterol (DES) while pregnant with me. DES was distributed to women in the United States between 1938 and 1971. It was touted as a miracle drug for women prone to miscarrying and those who had morning sickness, but it ended up causing cancer in the mothers who took the drug, and cancer, infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, ectopic pregnancy, and a slew of neurological disorders in the children. The House that Loved is my memoir, and I hope to inspire women to ask their mothers or grandmothers if they took DES.


Let's get an excerpt:


Annie, Age Four


        I don’t dream like normal girls. Dolls and boys and money bore me. My dreams are magical. In them, I fly faster than the speed of sound and swim quicker than all the sea serpents in the ocean. 

        I live in a house at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, close to the Mexican border. My father taught us how to swim as soon as we could walk. He didn’t baby us like my mother. He said every kid needs to cough up a wave at least once in their life. I coughed up plenty, but I never feared the water after I drowned.

        Momma doesn’t know about the day I drowned. This is when the angels began appearing. I had swum too far from Daddy, and a wave swept me out farther, flipping me over. I don’t remember my father searching for me and dragging me out. I only remember two things: the brilliant colors I saw at the bottom of the ocean after the water filled my lungs and the lady with wings who hovered over my father’s shoulders as he breathed life back into me.

        The woman smiled and talked to me in a humming way that tickled my ears. She said she was my guardian angel, and I thought she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. 

        “Never tell your mother what just happened,” Daddy warned after I coughed salt water out my nose and mouth. “She’ll never allow you to swim in the ocean again.”

        Later that evening, when he tucked me in for the night, he whispered. “So now you know what it’s like to drown. It’s discomforting but fascinating; did you see the colors?”

        I bobbed my head up and down, rapidly. “I did. Did you drown, too, Daddy?”

        “Yes. It happened the same way. A massive wave dragged me away, and my father rescued me.” 

        “How come we don’t have those pretty colors here?” I asked.

        “Those are the colors of the angel’s wings.”

        “Oh.” I sat up in bed. “Did you see the angel when you drowned?”

        “The angel?”

        “She was lovely, her skin a milky white, and the edges of her glittery gown were trimmed with tiny gold flowers.”

        My dad fell silent. 

        “You didn’t see the angel, Daddy?”

        He glanced away and took his time answering. “No, I didn’t. But I know one thing. You are a special person, Annie, and if an angel was going to appear to someone, I think she’d choose a girl as determined as you.”

        “What does determined mean?”

        “It means you might not be as strong or skilled as your brothers because you’re smaller, but what you have up here.” He tapped my head above one ear. “Makes you as powerful. You’re tough, Annie. I imagine that’s why the angel appeared to you. What did she tell you?” 

        “She said she had a hard job to do.”

        “A hard job?”

        I nodded.

        “What hard job did she have?”

        “She’s my guardian angel.”

        My dad busted out laughing then covered his mouth and glanced toward the bedroom door to see if my mother had heard him.

        He wrapped his arms around me. “It will take one tough angel to watch over you, sweet girl. I can’t be with you twenty-four hours a day. No, I can’t.” 

        It didn’t seem as if he was talking to me anymore. He tucked my head under his chin. “I’m glad you have a protector.”

        He tightened his arms, hugging my breath away and whispering toward the ceiling. “Watch over her. Watch over my brave girl.”

        He kissed me goodnight, and when he was gone, a light appeared in one corner of my room. My guardian angel was back. At least it appeared to be the same angel who came when I drowned. She was like a puff of powder, all white and cloudy.

        “Annie,” she whispered.


What advice do you have for beginning writers?


I’m going to be blunt because I believe this is important. 

First, the best advice I received was from an established author. She said to begin writing my second novel before I found a publisher for my first. In the end, I elected to self-published my second book at the same time my publisher released my first. It truly paved my way into the indie world.


Second, and here is where people are going to cringe, there are two ways to hit the ground running as an author. If you are young, concentrate on perfecting your first novel. Turning out a great debut novel is gold. Find a good agent, editor, and publisher to help you (but don’t stop writing until you do!).


If you are older, you have to come out fighting. Write, not a great book, but a fabulous one. Take a look at the faces of the editing and agenting world. Many (not all but most) are young. You’re writing for the masses—and much of your audience is younger than you. The agents know that, so it’s imperative you remain current and trendy. 


Finally, blog or freelance to keep growing your platform. The publishing world is tough business. Approach an agent, editor, or publisher with a large platform and you have a better chance of winning them over. It’s simple for them to market a Michelle Obama novel. Not quite as easy for a Jane Doe book. Do the best you can to build your audience.


                                                                    ******


Thank you, C. J., for being my guest today.  Your featured book is quite a grabber!  Here is the buy link for The Dream Diaries and C. J.'s contact information to learn more about her and her other books.


https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BGYY87S7/


Social Contacts:


Website/blog: 

CJ_Zahner

 

Social Media links:

Instagram  ~  Twitter  ~  LinkedIn  

Facebook  ~ Goodreads  ~  BookBub  


Another Buy Link:

Amazon



Are there any comments or questions for C. J.?

A Trip to the Past

We're getting to the beginning of the Holiday Season, and to me that is a perfect opportunity to do some holiday book shopping. It's...