Sunday, October 15, 2017

Author Interview with T.K. Lawyer

Today, we have paranormal romance author T. K. Lawyer visiting us for a chat about her books and her writing process.


·         Tell us a little about yourself.

I have always had an interest in the strange and unusual and I’m a romantic by heart.  So how did I come into writing, you ask?  Well, I stumbled into it.  Yeah, that’s pretty much what happened.  I never pictured myself as a writer but sometime in 2011, craving some kind of excitement and adventure in my life; I jotted down a few notes for a book idea and never looked back.  Funny part is, the notes I wrote never became a book, instead I took on subjects as wolf-shifters and angels and created their worlds and I have loved every minute of it. 

I write passion-filled paranormal romance- weaving tales of alpha males willing to do anything for the one feisty, curvaceous, strong-willed woman who has won their heart.  They will go to any length to please their mate, in and out of the bed.

·         What type of books/stories do you write?

I write Paranormal Erotic Romance and Contemporary Romance.  My male characters can be wolf shifters or Guardian Angels and they are all loving, protective, strong, alpha males.



·         What does the start of a project look like for you? (Where do your ideas come from, what prep work do you do before starting a new project, any writing rituals, planner or pantser, etc.?)

I am a pantser.  I get a general idea for a book or a series and I go from there.  When I sit and write it is because I got inspiration for a particular scene in a book.  This inspiration can come from anything:  something I hear on the radio, an event that happened to me before, or even sometimes, a dream I had that would make a great scene in a book.  I start writing these scenes down, placing them where I think they would be best in the book and then one by one, they start falling into place and a book magically appears.  It’s really amazing how it all comes together and just from my thoughts and ideas.

·         What did your path to publication look like?

Well, I never pictured myself as an author.  Frankly, I figured writing was a hobby and never considered it a career but when my full-time job became tedious, writing took me away to new adventures.  It tapped into the buried passion I have inside of me and unleashed it into words, sentences, paragraphs and eventually published books.  I sent my first book, Nightfall, to publishers and agents without a hit and then I shelved it until a year later, I tried again and landed a publishing contract within days of inquiring.  Opening my e-mail to find a reader who not only enjoyed my work but loved it enough to offer me a publishing contact was amazing!



·         Is there anything that you’ve learned through the process that you wish you’d known at the beginning?

I wished I had the opportunity to have a mentor.  There is so much to learn as an aspiring writer that no one teaches you.  With a mentor, they can show you the basics and advise you so you can find and build on what works for you, faster. 

·         Do you have any tips/tricks/resources you’d like to share with other writers?

Marketing is key.  If you find something that works, stick with it.  There will be times when you might have tried a blog tour or a review site and you come away feeling like you wasted your money.  That’s okay.  It was a learning experience.  Try another site or company and keep moving on until you have a list that works for you.



·         What part of the writing process do you find most exciting?

When I can actually sit down and write, it’s a lot of fun for me.  After writing for a while, I find the characters amuse me and I will find myself laughing at their quips or antics that I write down.  What started as an outlined scene in my head changes as I write sentence after sentence.  It’s quite thrilling how this occurs and the final product is always better than I imagined.

·         What part of the writing process do you find most challenging?
Finding that extra time and having the energy to write.  I have a full time job and several family responsibilities that take up a lot of my free time including weekends. As a result, I am drained most of the time and it’s a process of “psyching” myself up to sit down and write a new scene.

·         Any new work from you we should be watching for?

My next book in the Guardian League Series, Aeron, Book 4, is expected to be released in October 2017.  I am currently writing Book 5- Orion and hope to have this published sometime next year.



·         What’s one piece of advice you’d give new writers?

 If you want to write, go ahead and do it.  Don’t let anything stop you from pursuing your dreams.

Thanks, T.K.!

If you want to find out more about T.K. Lawyer, you can check out her website. She's also on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

You can find her work for sale on the Foundations Books website, or through these links:

Jasper (The Guardian League, book 1)
Centurion (The Guardian League, book 2)
Apollo (The Guardian League, book 3)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Guest Post: Planning with J. Ross

Today's guest post is from indie author J. Ross, who wants to give us some insight into planning a story.



Have you ever tried writing while having a full time job? If you haven’t, let me be the first to tell you that it is one of the hardest things that you can ever do.
This is my second year teaching elementary school, and to call the job demanding would be an understatement. Grading papers, writing lesson plans, filling out paperwork, meetings before, during, and after school all take most of your time and energy; and I haven’t even mentioned the time it takes to answer all of the emails and texts from parents! One of the biggest blessings, however, is that I am the Reading/English Language Arts teacher. Which means that my focus is on teaching the writing skills that I use in my (for the moment) side gig as a novelist.
I loved teaching my fifth graders my favorite part of the writing process: the planning process. As I taught, I was hit by the realization that if I want writing to be my full-time job I needed to really put some time and effort into the planning process. The book that I published over the summer, General Leila, is one that I actually wrote in 2009. For that book, as well as much of my writing since then, I’d relied largely on the “write when you’re inspired” model of writing. I realized, as an adult with a full time job, I’d need a more structured approach to writing in order to spend what little time I do have to write productively.
Teaching my fifth graders last year really allowed me to see how important having a plan was. Especially considering that I usually have a million story fragments and ideas floating around in my heads. Actually seeing the words on the page helps to make sure I focus on the one story that I’m working on. I had my students start with several ideas, then choose one idea to work on, and from there,create a plan of action. Since my students were only writing short stories, a five-paragraph essay format was a good enough plan for them.
With that thought in mind, my first step was to decide how I was going to do my plan. Was I going to write out a detailed chapter outline? Write bullet points? Do character sketches? Was I going to put all of this into a separate document on my computer?
After some consideration, I decided to use a hybrid method. I basically wrote out an outline of the story on paper, with blurbs of the major plot events.



This way, I was able to cross off what was done, as well as add details or new plot points as I needed them. Mapping out the plot like this allowed me to quickly see holes that needed filling or if certain characters needed more fleshing out. Having the paper beside me as I write also makes it easier than clicking back and forth between documents on my computer.

One of the things that I had to help my students with was actually using the outline to figure out what was important to add in the story. They always wanted to just jump into writing, which invariably ended up with them writing a disjointed story rather than an outline. Forcing them to slow down and really plan made a huge difference in their drafts.
By the same token, I had just been inspired with a new story when I decided to use this process, so I was anxious to start writing. But I forced myself to slow down and really focus on having a solid plan for what I was going to write. I wrote character names, background information, specific details, all in a rough plot map.
It definitely paid off.
Using this method, I wrote 20,000 words in about two weeks, something I had never done before. Normally I had to wait on sudden bursts of inspiration to write three or four pages, and then I might struggle for weeks to continue. I was extremely excited, and I can’t wait to see where else this story will go!
Now that the first two weeks of school are over, and both myself and the students have adjusted to the new school schedule, I’m going to pick up my computer and my notepad and get back to work. With my plan in hand, I’m confident that I’ll have another book ready to go in the next year or so!
If you’d like to find out more about me and my work, feel free to find me on Facebook! My novel GENERAL LEILA is available on Amazon and CreateSpace.com. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Beat the Block with Katherine Eddinger Smits



This week's guest post is by author Katherine Eddinger Smits, who wants to share her insight into writer's block.

 

Do you have Writer’s Block? You know, the feeling that stops you from sitting down to write? It prevents you from starting a new story or blog. It halts your work in progress like a naughty pony skidding to a stop in front of a jump (usually tossing her rider over her head to a crash landing on hard ground). It sends you into the kitchen or bathroom to clean until the house shines, or out on a shopping spree, anything to avoid the blank screen or page. Yeah, that’s the feeling.

Over the last few years, I’ve read a lot about Writer’s Block. Lots of people write about it and propose solutions or ways to deal with it. Force yourself to write. Give yourself a break from writing. Sit down and write anything that comes into your mind, even if it isn’t related to your work. Journal. And more. All are good ideas, and I’m sure they help some people. However, I’ve never heard of anyone approaching the problem the way I do.

I’d like to propose an experiment. The next time you get this feeling, stop and sit with it for a minute. Don’t try to force yourself to write. Don’t beat yourself up for not writing. Don’t get busy so you can avoid the feeling, telling yourself you’ll get back to writing later. Don’t try to psychoanalyze yourself into revealing the deep-seated fears that prevent you from working.

Sit. Breathe. Feel. Wait. 

Now, change how you think. Instead of labeling your feeling, Writer’s Block, call it something else. Call it resistance. Say out loud to yourself, “I’m resisting writing at this moment.”

How is this different? If something blocks you, you’re stuck. You might envision yourself stopped by a giant, brick wall, or some other obstacle that is much too difficult to break through. You’re passive. There’s nothing you can do about it.

However, if you are resistant, you have the power to change. You’re in charge and you’re only holding yourself back.

Now sit with the idea of resistance rather than block for a minute. Notice the resistance with curiosity instead of judgement. Oh, I’m resistant to writing today. I wonder why that is?  See how different that is from, I have Writer’s Block. What’s wrong with me?

The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with you. Everyone feels resistant to doing things sometimes. It’s easy to understand when you’re resisting doing something you truly don’t want to do, like going to the dentist. It’s harder to understand when you’re resisting doing something you love, like writing.

In addition to writing, I also ride horses. (You might have figured that out from the pony reference above.) I love horses and riding. But some days, I don’t want to go to the farm and take my lesson. I’m resistant to it. If I sit and let myself feel my resistance with curiosity, sometimes I realize it’s because I’m tired, or fighting a cold, or scared of falling off and getting hurt. Maybe my body just wants to be comfortable and staying inside in the air conditioning is a lot more comfortable than putting on long pants, boots and a helmet and then exerting myself in 90+ degrees. Maybe I’m worried I won’t perform well. Riding lessons involve getting yelled at a lot. Whatever the reason, some days, I feel resistance. After I notice resistance is the little voice whispering in my mind, Cancel that lesson. Stay home. You know, you really need to clean the house, I know I can either decide to take the lesson or skip it, but it’s my decision, not something outside myself preventing me from doing it.

Writing is the same way. Once you realize that the little voice is your own, it doesn’t seem so overwhelming anymore. The awful feeling is not so strong because you have interpreted the situation differently. Maybe you’ll decide to skip writing that day. Or maybe you’ll decide to sit down and write just a few words. Before you know it, you may have written a lot. 

In counseling, we call this technique reframing. It works because most of the time our emotions result from the messages we give ourselves about a situation, rather than the actual situation itself. For example, if you’re driving and someone speeds by you at 100 mph, you might think: That reckless person is going to cause an accident! That’s terrible. You get mad. Adrenaline spikes in your bloodstream and you’re ready to fight, or at least give the person a piece of your mind. 

But what if the person speeding by you is driving an ambulance, with lights flashing and siren blaring? That’s different. You might think: There’s an emergency and they’re on their way to help someone. You don’t get mad. Your main concern is to get out of the way, so they can reach their destination.

Reframing works just as well when we do it for ourselves as when a counselor does it for us. Try it when you’re feeling resistance to writing. Say to yourself, “Well, I notice I’m resisting writing today.” How does that feel? Is it less debilitating than thinking, “I have Writer’s Block”?

I’d love to hear from you. Did this experiment help you? Or not? Do you think this is a completely crazy idea that can’t possibly work? That’s okay. There’s no universal cure for much of anything. Maybe you have a better idea, or something that worked better for you. I’d love comments. 


Katherine Eddinger Smits has a BA in Psychology and Sociology and a Masters in Social Work. She retired after over two decades of helping veterans, families and community agencies as a clinical social worker. She has published two paranormal romances and has several more in the works. You can find out more about her at her website.  You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Interested in Katherine's books? Check them out here:

Water Dreams

The Sea Witch and the Mage





Sunday, September 24, 2017

Author Interview: Robin Leigh Anderson

Our first interview is with Robin Leigh Anderson, a fellow Foundations, LLC author. She's been gracious enough to offer us some of the insight she's gained from her experiences.



Tell us a little about yourself. 
I was born and raised in Montana but escaped those winter climes as soon as I could for California, which I consider my true home.  I live not far from the State Capitol surrounded by stately old growth trees.  I believe in reinvention, having done so a number of times in life, my most recent as fulltime writer.

What type of books/stories do you write?
I write novels-based-on-true-stories and science fiction.

SUNCATCHER, Robin's Sci Fi novel


What does the start of a project look like for you?
For the true/novels, something that happened to me I witnessed or is told to me is the beginning of crafting the story.  For scifi, I let my mad imagination take flight, often in lucid dreaming which I have been doing since childhood, calling something to mind as I fall asleep, and the story writes itself!  I have on but to get up quickly enough to write it down.

What did your path to publication look like?
I’d all but given up every getting Accept the Broken Heart published, since it straddled so many genres.  18 months ago someone introduced me to a small press who weren’t concerned with this conundrum, they just wanted good work.  And they also were not concerned that I wrote in different genres!  They immediately accepted my first scifi novel, Suncatcher.
 

ACCEPT THE BROKEN HEART, Robin's novel based on her own experiences


Is there anything that you’ve learned through the process that you wish you’d known at the beginning?
Never listen to anything but my own gut.  I allowed myself to be distracted and sidetracked by the voices of others who did not believe in me.

Do you have any tips/tricks/resources you’d like to share with other writers?
NEVER TALK ABOUT a story before you have written the first draft.  Take that “first best energy” and put it into the story, just let it all come out.  DO NOT stop to edit as you go along.  As my dear pal the late Ray Bradbury (to whom ATBH is dedicated) said: Vomit on the page, then clean up.

What part of the writing process do you find most exciting?
There is always that magical moment when the story comes alive, often taking on a life of its own that I never anticipated.  This is another piece of advice to other writers: get out of your own way, let it happen.  If you insist on adhering to your arbitrary outline, you could simply stumble right over top of that magic.

What part of the writing process do you find most challenging?
Knowing when enough is enough!  I often find myself wanting to add and add and…and there comes a time that you simply have to know, this is the story, I don’t need all that detail.

Any new work from you we should be watching for?
I am working on two new True/novels, one about gangs and one about a WitSec situation, and two new scifi pieces and a fantasy piece I call “a grownup’s faery tale”.  No dates of completion for any of them at this moment.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give new writers?
Don’t stop, never give up.  You can keep dreaming AND be practical, many writers work and write on the side.  Don’t think you have to sacrifice your life for your art.  Almost no one starts off a writing career with enough work and success to call it a fulltime income.  I was working 60+ hour workweeks and it took me 54 weeks to write 186,000+ words that eventually became Accept the Broken Heart.  If I can do that, what is stopping you?


Thanks, Robin!

If you want to find Robin or her work online, here's where to go:




Facebook Street Team Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/RobinsRebels/ 
Twitter: @rlauthor1

More about Robin's books:


ACCEPT THE BROKEN HEART
What can be said of hell, when at its most quiet, I was most terrified? The explosions that had rocked every fiber of my being and made my bones feel like they could simply shatter like tempered glass still resonated. I looked over at the wounded, wondering if I had the same haunted look in my eyes, and thought I probably did. In this war, no one leaves. No one goes home...and everyone is a casualty of war. You 'don't read war stories'? This is unlike any other you'll ever read, unbelievable love set against unbearable challenges. This true story is a cautionary tale against involvement of yet another war where we don't belong and soldiers and innocent civilians are put in harm's way. I lived every word of this novel. We need to learn, and teach others, to study war no more.



SUNCATCHER
A meteor shower forces Lieutenant Ard Jay Solstad to crash land on a sandy, unknown planet. He knows it’ll be at least 90 days before a droid rescue ship will reach him.  With 9 weeks of food left, Ard sets out to map the desolate planet and is stunned to meet the planet's sole survivor, a silicon-based humanoid.  Despite all odds, they fall in love.  Leaving the planet will kill her, staying will kill him.  When the droid ship arrives, Ard must leave TeeCee behind knowing she won't survive.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Three Years pass and Ard, now Captain, returns to the Preth planet to stake his mining claim and to reestablish a generational world there, a fitting tribute to the unique woman he loved.  With him come the miners and everyone else needed to set up a new society and reclaim the now empty world. But what he finds will challenge him in ways he never expected and bring Captain Solstad to an amazing point in the evolution of humanity.   
A love story for the universe!  Venture to a world where aliens are valued and respected and the correct side wins!  

Hardbound Lulu link

Video trailer