Tuesday, September 27, 2016

An Emotional Novel Tackling Abuse & How it Healed an Author

Author Veronika Gasparyan

If I say that writing my personal story wasn’t a hard thing to do, I would be lying. It was the most challenging thing I have ever done in my entire life. I am not even talking about the language barrier I had to face or the grammar. I am talking about being caught up in a total emotional roller coaster, with “giving up” moments.
It was already bad enough that most of my relatives thought it was not a good idea and that the book will be a total failure. To add to the challenge, English isn’t my first language. But, I knew in my heart that I am doing the right thing. Plus, it was not the first time I was alone in my idea. It was not the first time I was told that something I am doing will fail. It was also not the first time I was not supported by the people who are supposed to be there for you, no matter what.
My book is not about playing a victim or trying to make others feel bad for me and it’s not about explaining how I was mistreated, neglected, and abused. It’s about the inner powers that we are all born with and are given to us by nature. It’s about one’s courage to survive and to beat the odds from the harsh, challenging destiny. All I wanted to do is to show the world and others who struggle daily, those stuck in very bad situations that with the power of faith and belief in brighter days, everything is possible.
My survival story was always there for me to share but I was not yet ready. It took me almost 20 years to finally tell myself that I am brave enough to talk about what I lived through and to tell others how to persevere. No one has to be stuck in an abusive or bad situation.
Mother at Seven
“Mother at Seven” was the title that I came up with the second I decided to write my book. The cover of it is my actual picture. I choose that particular photo because the first chapter of the book takes place in the same exact location. By the balcony window of our 5th floor apartment.
It took me about 3 months to write the original manuscript. Most of the chapters were pretty smooth in terms of the structure and the flow, with only few breaks that I had to take, due to the content being hard to describe. But the breaks were only a few days long. Now, when it came to write the very last chapter, that is where It became emotionally challenging. It took me 3 weeks from the time I finished the 10th chapter to just start on the 11th. Then, it took me another 2 weeks to write it and edit it.
I gave my book all of my feelings and memories, without sugar coating or hiding the true facts and emotions. To me, if my readers take even a few teachings from it, I would feel that I have accomplished something very big.
My belief is that if a 7 year old girl found the way to survive and prove to destiny that negativity and bad in your life is only temporary, than any of you can do the same! Have faith in yourself and believe in better days! As my grandfather always said “No matter what happens, you need to dream big!”

I want to end with this thought. We only have one life to live and to give that up because of others who abuse us, emotionally, financially, or physically, would be really wrong. It’s unfair to ourselves and to those who love us! Why give pleasure to the ones who harm us and want to see us fail? We have to fight for our better future and happiness. We owe it to those who don’t have that opportunity any longer and are dying at this very moment. Those who are taking their last breathe as I am writing this sentence. Those who are wishing right this minute to be able to live for just another hour, another day, or just to see another sunrise. Be thankful for what you have and that is - your life!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Art of Memoir Writing

Those who praised A Penny a Kiss, Judy McConnell’s first memoir about growing up in Minnesota, will not miss a beat as the rebelliousness of her early years continues in this engrossing sequel, Just Keep Shooting: My Youth in Manhattan Memoir of a Midwestern Girl in the 1950s and 1960s. The new book finds her fresh from college and anxious to shake off the past as she strikes out forge a career in the challenging business mecca that was New York City in the Fifties and establish a life as an independent woman in a conformist era when young women were expected to marry and reproduce. Her experiences as a female lose in a male-dominated society where women were blocked at every turn predicted the radical feminist movement of the following decade.
Just Keep Shooting by Judy McConnell
The author’s personal struggles and offbeat adventures in France, California, and most crucially, New York provide fascinating drama. Her search leads her through career crises, roommates, boyfriends, and sexual involvements, and she reveals her feelings with vigorous honesty.  An engrossing read, Just Keep Shooting reflects McConnell’s keen ear for detail and an almost photographic memory of events. Ultimately, the memoir is a vivid and heartfelt reminder reflecting a journey many of us growing up in any era can relate to, searching, testing, and experimenting as we forded the turbulent waters of our twenties. But McConnell gives us more: a glimpse of the innocence of the bygone era of the Fifties and the rising spirit of revolt and change that anticipates the upheavals of the Sixties and Seventies as the civil rights and women’s equality movements began to evolve and shape our collective experience. 
The road to the Promised Land is a rocky one. McConnell’s memoir of wanderlust and search for identity captures her struggle to forge a life with one hand in the pragmatic world of work and the other reaching for the remote shining star, towards which she never ceases shooting.
Check out Judy's book on her Website.

Friday, July 22, 2016

A Young Reader Turns to Writing Award Winning Romance

Author Heidi Ashworth

As the sixth girl born into a family of smart women, I had something to prove and I set out to do so at a rather young age.  I was only four when I wandered into my 17-year-old sister’s bedroom and spied the paperback novel she was reading.  The cover was just too swoony to ignore:  a man with a bandaged head propped against the pillows of a bed draped with a colorful patchwork quilt.  Beside him sat a lovely young lady, her hand tender on his arm. 

I should have been too young to pick up on the implied message, but having five older sisters is an education.  In fact, I was already in the throes of a dizzying crush on one of their boyfriends.  He had a California tan (we lived in the San Francisco Bay area), very white teeth (his father was a dentist) and his sun-streaked hair curled just right against his brow.  In my hand was an illustration that seemed to encapsulate all that my tiny heart felt.  As such, I had to have that book. 

Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind
I begged, I pleaded, and cried until my sister said she would give me the book if I could read it.  I opened the cover and read the first three words before, in her shock, she slipped the book from my hands and marched away.  I never saw that book again.  Some years later I learned that the stories she and my other sisters were reading so avidly were Regency romances, particularly those by Georgette Heyer.  I promptly attempted to write my own, but knowing nothing about the genre, or romance novels, or book-writing in particular, I ended up with a (very) short contemporary story that took place in Paris.  It was, of course, awful, including my use of the word “sashay” to describe the way the heroine made her way down the “gangplank” of an airplane.

O'er the River Liffey by Heidi Ashworth
This was when another sister introduced me to the fantasy genre to which I was faithful to the point of exclusivity until I was twenty-five.  Then I read my first Regency romance and I immediately abandoned the fantasy novel I was working on to write a “Regency”.  The result was eventually published in 2008 by Avalon Books as Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind.  It does not have a scene with a patchwork quilt or a wounded hero.  However, it does contain one with a fainting heroine who is carried to safety by a frantic “Regency dandy”.  I can’t express how much I love these two characters who knocked on the door of my brain and demanded I tell their story.  I have been writing Regency romance ever since. 

My most recent release, O’er the River Liffey, takes place in Ireland just after the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo.  It is part of the Power of the Matchmaker series and includes sights and characters inspired by my 2014 trip to one of the most magical places on earth.  I directed the photo shoot for the cover photo for O’er the River Liffey in England last year.  Tales of that day, my books, and my travels can be found on my blog at www.heidiashworth.blogspot.com

Oh!  And the name of the book with the wounded hero?  The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer.  The copy I read had a much less interesting cover but I recognized the scene the moment I read it—over twenty years later.

Heidi can be reached on her Website and Facebook

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Historical Romance Author Cheryl Holt Showcases Her New Debut: Only You

Author Cheryl Holt
When I first sat down to configure the plot for my next book, ONLY YOU, I quickly realized that it actually needed to be told in two novels.  So I have a 2-book "duet" coming.  Book 1, ONLY YOU, will be here on July 1st.  And the companion novel, ONLY MINE, will arrive in October.
The heroine in ONLY YOU is Lady Theodosia Postlewaite.  She first appeared in a Christmas short story at the terrific blog site, Ramblings From This Chick.  Every December, the site hosts a fun event where authors are given a holiday topic and asked to write a story about it. My topic was, “Caught in a Compromising Situation on Christmas Eve.”
Only You by Cheryl Holt
In my story, Lady Theo was unwittingly caught in a dark parlor with England’s most notorious roué—on the night her engagement was to be officially announced.  As you might imagine, her engagement never occurred, and she was completely ruined.
After the story appeared, I heard from many readers who wondered—with her life in tatters—what would become of her?  I thought she was a delightful and very sympathetic character, so I decided to tell her story in ONLY YOU.
The prologue to the novel is the actual short story that appeared last Christmas.  Also in the prologue, there is a cameo appearance by one of the most intriguing and infamous characters I've ever created:  Charles Sinclair, Lord Trent.  For those of you who read and loved my "Lord Trent" trilogy, I thought it would be fun to see the wily rogue back again--and definitely causing his usual kind of trouble.
The two heroes in ONLY YOU and ONLY MINE are Soloman Grey and his cousin, Benjamin Grey.  Both men suffered through a terrible scandal when they were twenty years old that chased them out of England.  Soloman has been in Egypt, passing the time as an adventurer and explorer.  Benjamin joined the army and has been away for a decade, fighting for the Crown.  But their old scandal has to be resolved, and they both come home to London make things right again.  
I hope you'll read and enjoy both novels:  ONLY YOU  on July 1st.  ONLY MINE in October.  Happy reading!

Only You
CHERYL HOLT does it again with another fast-paced, dramatic tale of seduction, passion, and romance. This time, love blooms on a lazy, decadent trip down the Nile! 

Lady Theodosia Postlewaite, known as Theo to her family and friends, has always had the worst luck. On the night her betrothal was to be announced, she was unwittingly caught in a compromising situation. With her engagement ended and her reputation in tatters, her incensed father demands she flee the gossip by accompanying her dour, grumpy aunt on a sightseeing trip to Egypt. Theo reluctantly agrees, and she's determined to spend the months abroad proving she possesses the highest moral character. Most especially, she vows to never so much as speak to a handsome man ever again.

Soloman Grey has lived in Egypt for the past decade. His own scandal chased him out of London, and he's built a new life for himself as an adventurer and explorer. Because of the gossip that ruined him, he doesn't trust anyone, and he constantly vows that he’ll never so much as glance at a pretty woman ever again.

But when Soloman meets Theo, he's dragged into her world in a dozen ways he never intended. She's beautiful, funny, and lonely, and he can't resist. Yet, he's the bastard son of an earl, so he could never be worthy of her. When her relatives would do anything to keep them apart, dare he risk all to have her for his very own?

Check Cheryl on her Website, Facebook ,or Twitter

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Discover how a Comedian Writes Horror

Author Robert Ryan

Hello everyone! I’m Robert Ryan, horror novelist, but don’t be afraid. Renee has built a nice fire and made this a cozy place to gather around and chat about Dracula Lives. As Dracula himself says in Bram Stoker’s classic novel:

“Enter freely. Go safely, and leave something of the happiness you bring!”

As a writer of horror novels, my ultimate goal is to scare the bejeezus out of people, but I am a comedian by nature—even dabbled in standup years ago. I love to laugh and make people laugh. One of the cornerstones of my philosophy is that laughter is the medicine of the world. But seriously folks…

I took an early retirement several years ago to pursue the goal of having a second career as a novelist. I had gone the traditional route, writing query letters, getting an agent, and so on. The rejections got more encouraging, but they were rejections nonetheless. Then Amazon changed everything with their self-publishing Kindle platform. I re-wrote the novel that had been rejected as The Root Of All Evil and published it as 2013: Beyond Armageddon. It spent six months on one of Amazon’s bestseller lists, got about a hundred reviews, and—voila! The dream had become reality.

Dracula Lives by Robert Ryan
Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version of Robert Ryan (friends call me Bob):

We lived behind the neighborhood movie theater, and my mother took me to everything from the time I was barely out of diapers. When I reached the ripe old age of about six, I couldn’t wait for the Saturday creature features. Giant mutant bugs, the monsters of Ray Harryhausen, Roger Corman’s Poe films, and the frightfests of William Castle were among the early influences that warped my writer’s muse into a breeding ground for—to borrow a line from Morbius in Forbidden Planet—my 
“Monsters from the Id.” On the literary front I soon discovered Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft and followed the trail they blazed into Poe’s “ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.”

All of that somehow came together as the inspiration for Dracula Lives. Writers are always told to “write what you know.” I kept thinking how much I loved the classic horror from Universal Studios that I had watched so many times—Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, and what became known as their “monster rally” movies, in which they combined as many monsters as they could: Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, Ghost of Frankenstein, House of Frankenstein, and so forth. I kept thinking: “What if I could capture the feel of a monster rally in a novel?”

2013: Beyond Armageddon by Robert Ryan
The seed from which the novel grew was the idea of having someone who worked on Dracula in 1931 being still alive. From there I started—to use Poe’s words from The Raven—“linking fancy unto fancy,” and that became Dracula Lives. The dedication reads: “This novel is dedicated to all those who love the classic monsters from Universal Studios.”

See you in the haunted places I call The Shadowland. Best Regards to all—and don’t forget to tip your waitresses!

Check out Robert on his website

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

On Writing in Chaos and other Necessary Habits

Author Adriana Koulias

Every author will tell you that he or she has developed habits proven to help in the conjuring forth of magical words and brilliant sentences, habits that dictate where and how they write and writers can be as superstitious as sailors when it comes to them. For instance, Stephen King hibernates in his den, which is off limits even to his wife, until a book is finished.  Earnest Hemingway wrote in the early hours of the morning when everyone was asleep; Vladimir Nabokov wrote standing up; Truman Capote lying down; Richard Powers in bed; Junot Diaz in the bathroom perched on the edge of the tub with his notebook; Victor Hugo wrote naked and William Wordsworth composed out loud to his dog - if it barked he knew a revision of his work was necessary!

I write in the midst of the chaos of family life, in other words, before and after P and C meetings, around car pooling, piano lessons, HSC exams, parent teacher interviews and concerts, house renovations, house selling and house buying, helping with homework, training in a new puppy and even while cooking dinner! And for me every book starts with the end, which often forms the beginning. This end meets itself again at the end - somehow - but I never know how! This means that what arises in the middle has to connect the two - and it always miraculously does, but not without moments of uncertainty!

Temple of the Grail
So, I often go back to my old characters for advice when I’m feeling particularly stressed. I like to hear their voices in my head. When I do, there is an added bonus - I remember when my son was composing a piece of music or what chapter I was formulating when my daughter was rehearsing for a play, I recall how, during a particular spot in the Sixth Key, my daughter called about her orthodontist appointment, and I vividly relive the struggles I was having with a plot point when my son wanted a recipe for Teriaki tuna. In this remembering there is a form of comfort, because I know that I have been here before and I will finish the book!

I look back at twenty one years of writing and I see that not a lot has changed! I'm still writing around the chaos of life and I admit that I couldn’t write any other way, so I suppose not having a habit is my habit!

Follow her on Facebook, Twitter or her Website

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Characters Make the World Go Round!

Author D.L. Gardner

I wanted to talk about characters because good heavens, this world is filled with them!

We all have our strange little quirky things that we do, the way we talk, walk, laugh and bat an eye. Maybe it’s our hair that won’t rest against our heads but instead flies around like a mad spider’s web, and we just let it!  It could be our energy, (or lack of) our cool, our crooked smile or laughing eyes. Maybe our voice. Or maybe it’s the clef in our chin or the size of our ears, who knows?
To ‘have character’ means you stand out in some way. There’s something about you that people remember you by.

Character is important in novels. Who wants to read a book when the characters are flat and uninteresting or all look the same?

Take caricatures, for instance. A cartoon artist has a comical way of portraying public figures so that they stand out in the crowd. I’m sure you’ve seen those funny drawings, especially this election year!

An Unconventional Mr. Peadlebody
For me, as an author, creating characters is one of my favorite things to do. Whether they are serious individuals stuck in some kind of drama, having to fight a dragon, (the Ian’s Realm Saga) fall through a time portal (Cassandra’s Castle), contend with a Seed company taking over the world (Altered) or mermaids fighting the oil tycoons (Pouraka) I’ve had an interesting time coming up with the characters in my books.

Some of the most amusing characters I’ve created, though are in An Unconventional Mr. Peadlebody. Why? Because the story is a comedy, a vampire comedy, none the less, and I could make these guys over- the-top whacko!

Of course, we have one handsome young half-breed vampire in love with a perfectly sane young lady to hold the story together. But the others?  Yes, they’re nuts! And I had a lot of fun spending time with them!

So some people might be wondering how do I come up with these personalities?

Good question!

Creating characters isn’t the first thing I do when I begin writing. First I design a premise, that is, a story line. After that I figure out what kind of people need to be involved on all sides of the spectrum; good, evil, and in-between. I have to come up with fellows who will contend with each other and grow, (or fail) as the story progresses. Discovering the protagonist’s weakness and why he can’t succeed (at first) to accomplish his goal, who and what prevents him from moving forward, and how he deals with it will open the door to his, or her personality. The story line will also uncover the personality of the antagonist, because he too will be struggling toward a goal.

Granted, the imagination has to be pretty active when creating these fictional people. Pulling different traits from individuals we know is certainly possible. (That’s why I have a T shirt warning folks to stay on my good side!) The most important thing is that they be consistent in their speech, their actions, the way they dress, and their habits.

Creating characters is enjoyable and I discovered that my fictional characters can be almost as entertaining as those in real life!

D.L. Gardner can be found on Facebook, Twitter or through her Website