Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The Art of Story Telling

As a former television news and documentary writer/producer, I've always enjoyed meeting a fellow journalist so I was eager to learn more about the background of today's guest in My Writing Corner, author Jill Ocone. 

She has been a writer/editor for Jersey Shore Magazine/Jersey Shore Publications since 2014 and a high school communications, journalism, and English teacher since 2001.

In addition to writing, she says she loves making memories with her nieces and nephews, seeing new places, laughing with her family and friends, and sharing her Jersey Shore home with her husband.  Her new book is Enduring the Waves and it is her debut novel.  Let's find out more about Jill.

What do you enjoy about being an author?

Painting with words is what makes me come alive. The colors of my soul and the textures of my heart combine with my mind’s words to create unique masterpieces on the blank pages that are my canvases.


What do you find is the most challenging part of being an author?


Finding the time to write consistently. As a full-time high school journalism teacher, I’m coaching young writers all the time, and it’s difficult to write for myself after my school day ends because my energy has been depleted. I try to write every morning at school for 45 minutes before my day begins.


Tell us about your road to publication.


I began writing what was first titled “Finding Shannon” in 2017 and finished it in 2018. I queried it as "Chapter One-A Novel” for a little over four years. The Wild Rose Press offered me a traditional publishing contract in February 2023, and after consulting with my editorial team, we agreed to change its title to "Enduring the Waves." 


The wavelike appearance of the triskelion's three spirals and the trials the main character, Kelly Lynch, endures make "Enduring the Waves" the perfect title for her compelling story. The revised title also reflects the novel’s growth into its own identity. 


What is your book that you will feature today and how did you come up with the idea to write it?


I traveled to Dublin for the first time during the summer of August 2014, eight months after losing a cherished friend. On three separate occasions, I swear I saw her face in the crowd (twice on Grafton Street and once near Trinity College). She was an avid James Joyce aficionado but had never been to Ireland despite being of Irish descent.


One night in late 2015, I was jolted awake after dreaming about an old woman who said to me, “Once you write CHAPTER ONE, everything will fall into place.” There was a symbol in my dream, one I had never seen before, and I scribbled a very rough replica of it.


Turns out it was a Triskele/Triskelion.


Both the symbol and the phrase "Chapter One" would mysteriously appear in my life countless times from that point forward. The universe used many additional signs to guide me to Dublin three more times in the summers of 2016, 2017, and 2018. I had no idea what the hell I was doing there, but I trusted I was being led to my purpose. On my first trip, I planned to visit the James Joyce Centre and the James Joyce Tower and Museum, but I stumbled into innumerable additional fortuitous experiences and fell in love with Dublin more and more with each visit. My journey inspired me to write Enduring the Waves.



Let’s get a blurb:

As Waterville High School’s newest English teacher, Kelly Lynch befriends fellow educator and James Joyce enthusiast Shannon Moran. While Kelly grapples with deep scars from her past, she struggles to balance her active life as a teacher and her stagnant marriage to shiftless alcoholic Wayne Coopersmith. Shannon’s encouragement resurrects Kelly’s passion for writing, while Kelly inspires Shannon to pursue her lifelong dream of studying in Dublin, Ireland.


After two devastating events fracture Kelly’s life, she searches for meaning in her grief by following a trail of mysterious clues that guide her from the New Jersey shore to Dublin.


Sparks ignite her long-dormant creativity and a raging inferno in her heart while on the Emerald Isle as two unsuspecting Dubliners combine forces to hearten Kelly’s awakening. She returns home to the Jersey Shore having endured the waves spurred by her past, present, and future and ready to pursue her true calling.


How about an excerpt:


        I trail that red hair like a bloodhound. Shannon’s doppelganger expertly threads between the vehicular traffic then weaves through the innumerable people on Grafton. I fall in step behind her and panic for a split second when I momentarily lose sight of her, but then the hair darts left onto Duke Street and into a place called Davy Byrnes. I loiter outside the pub with the oddly familiar name.

        Well, here goes nothing.

        I casually stroll through the mostly empty pub like a detective looking for a missing person. My gaze scours the entire establishment, but I don't spot the mystery woman.

        She’s got to be in here,so I will wait it out.

        After sitting on a stool where I can see almost every high-traffic area, the bartender asks with a fabulous Irish accent, “What’ll it be, love?”

        “What kind of soft drinks do you have?” I absently inquire while combing through my wallet for money.

        “For minerals, I have cola, lemon lime, orange, and of course, beer and whiskey if you feel so inclined.” 

        “Orange, please.”

        “As you wish.” He fills a glass with ice and places it in front of me along with an open glass bottle. I hand him three euros, and when his hazel eyes meet mine, he slaps his palm against his forehead. “Go way outta that, weren’t you over by Parnell Square earlier today?”

        I am face to face with the chestnut-haired puddle jumper I encountered in front of the Dublin Writers Museum.


What’s your next project or what are you working on now?


I recently finished a nonfiction manuscript telling the stories behind the names and vessels on the local Fisherman’s Memorial statue at the Manasquan Inlet and submitted it to a local publisher for consideration. I also have two novels about half finished and hope to finish one of them by year’s end. I am a senior writer and editor for Jersey Shore Magazine and Jersey Shore Publications, so I’m always working on something for that publisher.


Here are the buy links for Enduring the Waves and social contact information to get in touch with Jill.


Buy Links:


Amazon:  Enduring the Waves

Barnes and Noble: Enduring the Waves

Apple:  Enduring the Waves


Social Contacts:


Website:  jillocone.com  

Email:  jillocone@gmail.com

Facebook:  @jillocone

Twitter:  @jill_ocone

Linkedin:  @jillocone

Instagram:  @jillocone


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


Tuesday, November 21, 2023

A Flaming Choice

 As the holiday season draws nearer, I don't know about you, but I am researching books I might want to buy for my friends as gifts or to read myself as the cold days keep me inside. Today's guest, in My Writing Corner has a new book that sounds like it might be perfect to give to one of my long time buddies. Joining me today is Author AK Nevermore and she is introducing us to her new book, Flame & Shadow that was just published.

AK says she enjoys operating heavy machinery, freebaseing coffee, and gives up sarcasm for Lent every year. A Jane-of-all-trades, she’s a certified chef and restores antiques when she’s not running down the dream in her beat-up camo Chucks.

Unable to ignore the voices in her head, and unwilling to become medicated, she says she decided to write Science Fiction and Fantasy full time.


Along with books, AK tells us she writes copious amounts of copy and a column on SFF. She belongs to the Authors Guild and is an RWA chapter board member. According to AK, she volunteers for far too many committees, while also teaching creative writing. She does admit to sleeping on rare occasions. In other words, AK is one busy woman!


Her first novel, Flame & Shadow, debuted November 13th and will be featured here today.  Her second in the Dae Diaries series, Air & Darkness, is slated for release late 2024.  Let's find out more about AK and her new book.


What do you enjoy about being an author?


Reading something I’ve written and having it surprise me. There’s no better feeling than turning a page and spitting out your drink, belly laughing. Like, did I seriously write that? Yup. Yup, I did! That always gives me the warm fuzzies.


What do you find is the most challenging part of being an author?


The route to publication and trusting yourself to make the best decisions for your career. There’s so much of what “you should do and how you should do it”—and yes, that was totally finger quoted. It feeds all of the self doubt authors so often suffer from. At some point you have to pull up your big girl pants, just say “Screw it!” and go get yours. Finding the courage to do that is super hard, and I don’t think that ever goes away. At least, it hasn’t for me yet.


How do you develop characters?


I write them. Hah! I say that like it’s easy, but I’m a pantser, so it’s a lot of literal writing and then going back and solidifying what comes out of my characters being in situations. That’s one of my favorite parts because I never know what they’re going to do until they do it. It definitely keeps things exciting!


Tell us about your road to publication.


Flame & Shadow is published by The Wild Rose Press. I hooked up with them through the RWA’s Romance Authors Mentorship Program, so it wasn’t a conscious decision to send them my stuff, but it worked out. I wish I had some grand plan, but that’s usually how I fall into things. The important take-away is just to put yourself out there.


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


The Dae Diaries is my newest series, and I’m currently working on book 3. But honestly, the first book, Flame & Shadow, was written entirely out of angst. I had been in the querying trenches for way longer than was healthy and the amount of conflicting advice you get is ridiculous. One day I just decided to follow all of it.


And I don’t mean in a studious, “hmm, I’ll take that into consideration,” kind of way, I mean in a, “That’s what you want? Well, watch out because here it comes,” passive aggressive throw down that came out just ridiculous. Everything I implemented was tongue in cheek and had a sarcastic spin to it. I literally wrote the book laughing, and at that point, I really needed that. It was super cathartic and pretty shameless. Writing Envy and the gang is a ton of fun.


Whuie Flame & Shadow,was just released, the second book in the Dae Diaries series, Air & Darkness is slated for release late 2024. For a free prequel, you can visit: https://aknevermore.com/books/one-night-in-bliss/



Let's get a blurb:


Half-daemon Envy Starr is destined to die on Midsummer's Eve, still a virgin, on some crappy cult's live-stream feed. With thirty days left to live, the chance to escape her fate and get some action compels her into her absentee father's world of beautifully cultured cruelty. 


Once there, she's the object of a deadly game, slated to alter the Fae realm's power structure. Worse, the rules keep changing, and everyone has an ulterior motive, including her dae-licious guide, Brennan. Under a geas he's desperate to break, she can't trust him, or herself. Stupid Stockholm syndrome. 


But unless she can come to terms with what lies in her heart, her unlikely survival will be a fate worse than death. For her, and the rest of Fae.


How about an excerpt?


I scrabbled at the pitted metal. How was it even possible? It had no keyhole, just two thin lines like the halves had been snapped together and the ring for his leash.

I started hyperventilating.

“Pet...” The sing-song whisper almost made me piss myself it was so close. I jammed my fist in my mouth, keeping still. A twig snapped to my right, and I screwed my eyes shut. 

A massive crash followed it, and I took off. In retrospect, that was my first mistake. I mean, my first mistake since I’d tried to knee him in the nuts. I was racking them up like student loans otherwise.

The forest floor quickly smoothed out and become easier to navigate, but the trees here were spiky, twisty things crowded close together. They didn’t look, I don’t know, earthly. I had a bad feeling that I’d somehow wandered into Fae.

It doesn’t happen often, but there are some places where the veil is thin enough to walk right across. Usually it corrects itself, but I’d told you this whole thing with Mica felt scripted. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was holding a way open, funneling me exactly where he wanted me to go. I thought about it, but stopping and waiting for him to show up with his rifle

seemed worse.

I stayed on the stupid path. Through narrow gaps in the trees I could see patches of mire and bracken, some clusters of stone, but getting to them would be a bitch. Mica ’s howl in the not-so-distant distance took that off the table.

I kept running.


What is your next project?


I’m currently working on getting book 2, Air & Darkness, through production, and fiddling around with the so far unnamed book 3 in the series. I also have a dark SFF romance series I’m getting geared up to rapid release next year, and another project has recently popped up that I’m pretty excited about, but keeping quiet on until it pans out, so there are a lot of irons in the fire.


How do you come up with your plots?


Usually by accident. See my above answer. Generally I’ll have a scene in mind, or sometimes just a concept for a world. My characters will come in, populate it, and then what they do there determines where the plot goes. Usually around the halfway point I’m like “Oohhh… that’s what this is about…” and then I'll go back and seed the ending, or what I think is the ending. That usually changes at some point near the actual end, and then I have to write the beginning again, but being surprised is totally worth it.


What advice do you have for beginning writers?


Just write. Forget about all of the so-called rules and just get your idea down on paper. It will suck and that’s ok. The first draft is your discovery draft, telling yourself the story. Once you do that, celebrate! OMG you wrote a frickin’ book!! Don’t worry about making it good until after the morning after hangover fades.


Here are the Buy Links and Social contacts for AK:

Amazon: Flame & Shadow  


Apple BooksFlame & Shadow 


Barnes & Noble:  Flame & Shadow 


How to get in touch:


Website:  www.aknevermore.com

Facebook: @AK Nevermore

Twitter: @AkNevermore

Instagram: @AKNevermore

TikTok: @AK.Nevermore


Email: ak@aknevermore.com


Thank you for being my guest today, AK. Any questions for AK?

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

A Writing Journey

As the holiday season gets closer, aren't we all looking for books to either give as gifts or to enjoy ourselves during any free relaxation time we might get? Today's guest in My Writing Corner brings us a tale that sounds like it would be great for escaping the upcoming holiday bustle and reading for a while. My guest today is Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy, and her newest book has just been released.

Lee Ann's journey to being an author began when she was young. She says that from an early age she began scribbling stories inspired by the books she read, the family tales she heard, and even the conversations she overheard at the beauty shop where her grandmother had a weekly standing appointment. She says she was the little girl who sat at the feet of the elders and listened.

As an author, she has published more than sixty novels and novellas written as both Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy and as Patrice Wayne for historical fiction. She is also the author of a new Faery Folk series from Evernight Publishing writing as Liath├ín O'Murchadha. Her books are found in many places, online and in brick-and-mortar stores including some in both Ireland and Australia.  Her current publishers include The Wild Rose Press, World Castle Publishing, Evernight Publishing, and Champagne Books.


She spent her early career in broadcast radio, interviewing everyone from politicians to major league baseball players and writing ad copy.  In those radio years she began to write short stories and articles, some of which found publication. In 1994 she married Roy Murphy and they had three children, all now grown-up. Lee Ann spent years in the newspaper field as both a journalist and editor and was widowed in 2019. 


She teaches 7th and 8th graders each Sunday at church. In late 2020, she hung up her editor’s hat to return to writing fiction. A native of St. Joseph, Missouri, she lives and works in the rugged, mysterious, and beautiful Missouri Ozarks.  Let's find out more about Lee Ann.


What do you enjoy about being an author?


I’ve always been an avid reader so for me, writing fiction is the ultimate experience because as the author I’m in the driver’s seat. I take the story wherever it goes. It’s like reading intensified. I also love sharing my stories with others and I’m stoked when readers like my work.


Tell us about your road to publication.


My ambition was to become a writer from the time I was nine. Over the years I scribbled and wrote. In college, some of my work appeared in campus literary magazines, then after I went to work as an advertising copywriter in broadcast radio, I began writing, submitting, and seeing some acceptances of my fiction.  Fast forward to when I got married (1994) and after having twin daughters in 1996, I realized if I didn’t make a real effort to write a novel, my biggest dream, then I might never do it. I would be an old woman with regrets so at the craziest time ever, with twin toddlers, I sat down and started writing novels. After 80 rejections, the first one was accepted. I worried I might be a “one hit wonder” but my husband’s uncle assured me that wouldn’t be the case and it wasn’t.


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


My newest title is The Scarred Santa (The Wild Rose Press) and it was released on November 13, 2023.  For my plots, I usually have a rough idea - usually with a “What if?” question or a “why”....for The Scarred Santa, it began with what if a guy who used to be super handsome was scarred with PTSD after military service? I imagined him going through job after job and brainstormed about what job would work for a scarred man….Santa at the mall cause no one sees his face. From there, the plot developed…he’s lonely, wants love, etc.


Let's get a blurb and excerpt:

Once handsome Rafe Sullivan is left scarred, injured, and with PTSD from his Marine Corps service in Afghanistan, returning to civilian life is far from smooth, and the burn scars on his right side are extensive. Although he lives close to family, he lives a solitary life and changes jobs more often than most people change their socks. A temporary job as Santa at the mall is presented, but Rafe first rebels, then relents. His Santa gig affects his PTSD. Then he meets Sheena Dunmore. When she doesn't run from his scars or issues, she intrigues him. An unmasking by some rowdy children is a test of his stamina and spirit. His greatest fear is fire. Will Rafe conquer the fear so he can move forward into the new life he desires?

How about an excerpt:

    
“Rafe?” Mike spoke out of the darkness in the back yard.
    He halted. “Yeah, it’s me.”
    His brother approached, face tight. “Are you okay? I’ve been worried sick ever since I heard
you had to leave work early.”
    He should have phoned but never thought about it. The last thing Rafe wanted was to worry
his family. “I’m all right. How did you know I wasn't there?”
    Mike sighed. “I went to the mall, trying to find a present for Charlotte, a pearl necklace I
saw in one of the sale ads. I went by the Santa Claus scene so I could say hi, and it was closed. I
figured you were on break until I saw Steve Kristoff, and he told me you had to leave early. Are
you sick or something?”
    “No, I’m not.” A month ago, even a week ago, Mike’s brotherly concern might have made
Rafe mad. At least it would have irritated him. Now, he accepted it for what it was and why—
his brother and his family cared. “Mike, I got a little freaked out. Too many crowds and people, a
lot of sights and sounds, and it got to me. Sheena is the one who asked Steve if I could leave early.”
    “Are you okay? I was about to go hunting for you, and so was Gabe.”
    Unshed tears burned in his eyes. Rafe was grateful for their love. “Yeah, I’m good. I’ve been
with Sheena.”
    Mike exhaled a long, slow breath. He put a shaky hand on Rafe's shoulder. “Thank God. I
wish you’d called, though. We were afraid… oh, never mind. You’re home safe. It’s what
matters.”
    A knot in his stomach formed. “What were you so scared I might be doing?” In the dark,
Rafe couldn’t see his brother’s face, but he picked up on the tension in Mike's voice.
    “Gabe and I worried you might have a bad meltdown somewhere, alone, and we didn’t want
to think about the possibility. Or wonder if you might be so upset that you would do something.”
    “Like what?” Rafe’s emotions threatened to erupt. “Shoot up the mall or take a hostage or
what?”
    Mike moved closer and put his hand on Rafe’s shoulder. “No, nothing as extreme or
violent— but we were worried you might take your life.”
    The words dropped between them like a stone in a well. Rafe shut his eyes as emotional pain
washed over him, powerful enough to make his stomach hurt. “I’m sorry you thought it might be
possible. I’ve never actually considered it…well, I take it back. Maybe once or twice…I know
it’s a huge problem. A lot of vets who served in the Gulf, especially those with PTSD and
massive injuries, have committed suicide. But not me, okay?”

What’s your next project?


I like to multi-task. My next submission to The Wild Rose Press is called The Cajun Cowboy. I am currently working with my very thorough and dedicated editor on The Cowboy’s Last Chance although no release date yet.  I am also working on a family saga series. The first two books in it have been contracted by World Castle Publishing.  I have a long story, The Ice Man Melts, in an upcoming anthology (Tell Me No Lies) from Evernight Publishing and a romantic suspense titled Huck’s Legacy, also from Evernight.


Here are Lee Ann's buy links for Scarred Santa and her social media contacts to learn more about her and her other books.


Buy Links


Amazon: Scarred Santa


Barnes and Noble:  Scarred Santa


Social Media Contacts:


 https://leeannsontheimer.blogspot.com/

Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy: Rambling and Writing (blog)

https://leeannsontheimer.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/leeann.sontheimermurphy/

 Personal page

https://www.facebook.com/leeannwriter/ Author page

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100085056318192 

https://www.facebook.com/authorPatriceWayne/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboar

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/leeannsontheimer/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/leeannwriter/

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/lee-ann-sontheimer-murphy-a753a422/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/leeannwriter

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa11tpg_gGG80lh6uR-dNUw


Other:


Audible: https://www.audible.com/author/Lee-Ann-Sontheimer-Murphy/B004JPBM6

https://allauthor.com/author/leeannauthor/

https://www.waterstones.com/author/lee-ann-sontheimer-murphy/2236830

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/%22Lee%20Ann%20Sontheimer%20Murphy

Amazon author page:

https://www.amazon.com/stores/Lee-Ann-Sontheimer-Murphy/author/B004JPBM6I?

World Castle author page:

https://www.worldcastlepublishing.net/lee-ann-sontheimer-murphy

Evernight author page:

https://www.evernightpublishing.com/lee-ann-sontheimer-murphy/


Thank you, Lee Ann, for being my guest today. Any questions for Lee Ann?

LIving the Dream

While the calendar may read December, this is the time we all want to start thinking about those great warm days that will be coming soon (h...