Friday, January 30, 2015 | By: Cafe
Remember: plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.
- Ray Bradbury
Thursday, January 29, 2015 | By: Cafe

An Interview with Kristina Knight

The Write Way Café welcomes Kristina Knight. She shares her discovery of turning off her inner editor and writing from her heart.  

Kristina is giving away a physical copy of The Daughter He Wanted to one reader - please be sure to leave your email so we can contact you if you win!

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
I can't remember ever not  wanting to write a book! I know, weird, but even as a little kid I would read a book and think, "Oh, but what if ____ happened?" And I would be off in another world thinking about that story. The first time I thought I was writing romance was kind of accidental: I'd decided, during the summer of my 6th grade year, to write a girl-power version of The Three Musketeers. Everything was going along swimmingly until all 3 of the friends decided to fall in love rather than save the king, lol. From that moment, it was all romance for me.

What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do? 
Long and meandering! haha The Daughter He Wanted is kind of the story of my heart. My husband and I adopted our daughter 6 years ago, after a long battle with infertility. While most of the people in our lives were completely supportive of our decision to adopt rather than continue that roller coaster, a few had ... inappropriate questions. I'll leave it at that. But I wanted to write a story about choosing a family. There is an saying in the adoption world that family isn't necessarily blood but the people you go into battle for (and with). In my book Paige and Alex have all kinds of obstacles and they each have baggage they have to learn to live with and let go, and at the heart of it is the choice Alex has to make: can he be a father? Does he want to?

As for the path to publication, it was fairly simple! I had the idea and wrote the first three chapters in about a day and a half. I showed them to my agent - who is so talented! - and we shipped them off to my editor at Harlequin. I'd just finished a novella series for their E line, and my editor loved the idea and bought the book for SuperRomance.

Where did the idea for your story come from? 
The basis - choosing family - came from my life, but I didn't want my own experience with adoption to color the book too much...so I made Paige the natural mother rather than an adoptive mom and gave Alex the role of sperm donor/dad...or is he?

Why did you pick the setting you did?
Well, I'm from Missouri and I love all the different parts of it! St. Francois County, though, is one of my favorite places. Some of the old timers there still speak Paw Paw French, which is a dialect that is nearly dead and is a hold-over from the old trapping days. The land is rolling and hilly and just beautiful.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself? 
They are purely my imagination, although some real people served as inspiration in the looks department! lol You can check out my Pinterest board to see who inspired them...and, a disclaimer, when I say 'inspired' I mean a hairstyle or type of clothing...not the actual features!

Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret? 
I don't really believe in writer's block. I know if I'm having a problem in a certain area there is probably something in the scene or chapter before that needs to be smoothed out. I did have a problem with Alex, though, because he did NOT want me to go as deep into him as I did. He was perfectly happy to pretend to be completely over his past...I got in there, but it was a ride, let me tell you.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after?
How excited people are about this book, and not just my friends or my agent or even my editor. I've received such great feedback from people I've never met in person about the book, how much they loved that Paige was far from the perfect mom and how they cried when Alex...I don't want to spoil anything. But, a decision Alex makes in the book is really gut-wrenching...

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about being a park ranger, fertility clinics, and single parenting issues? 
Gah, more than I ever wanted to know about how 'donations' are made at the fertility clinics, how samples are coded...and how those codes can be messed up. I didn't get to hike the trails that Alex hikes in the book, but I studied so many pictures of them that I feel like I know them. And I learned that I can turn off the internal editor and just write what is in my heart. I have to clean it up when I'm done, but getting those words down, even imperfectly, is a win.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you. 
I have two writing spaces. 1) while I'm drafting, it's anyplace with my iPad and lapdesk. I move all over the house - living room, bedroom, even in the carpool line while I'm waiting for bebe. I love the versatility. When I'm editing, though, I'm more sedentary. My desk is a mess with a plethora of 'stuff' hanging about - my fitness watch, a half-empty jar of Mentos gum, a couple of CROC keychains (I don't know why they're here, they just are), a stress ball with orange Troll hair and a goofy grin, my To Do lists, calendar and a broken bottle of nail polish that I'm determined to get open again...some day. I can't tell you why the mess works, but when my desk is clean I can't focus and when it's messy I can lose myself in writing/editing for hours at a time.

What are some of your favorite books and why? 
In general, romance books are my favorites. I love the character journeys inside the stories, how the characters grow and change throughout the book. I love Suzanne Enoch's "Billioniare" series (Samantha Jellicoe) because the growth of that heroine in each of the books was so spot on. I was so sad to read the last line of that last book! Delores Fossen wrote an amazing series for Harlequin Intrigue a couple of years ago, set in Silver Creek Texas and filled with cowboy lawmen brothers who were just yummy. And I can't not mention Pride & Prejudice because I think my Romance Writer Card will be revoked if I don't...more Mr. Darcy, please!

What are you working on now? 
I'm in the middle of two sets of revisions - my second SuperRomance for Harlequin (a reunion story set near my home - yay!)  and another single-title project that I'm hoping to start shopping around in another couple of weeks.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why? 
I would love to write a cozy mystery series some day. I'm not sure I ever will because I can't keep a secret to save my life and cozies are built on red herrings and not giving away the whodunnit...But I would love to try it!

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be? 
I already had it! I worked as a producer in television news for 10 years before leaving the business to write full time. I loved my job, the people (well, most of them) and the stories! Gah, the things I saw.... If I had to choose something new to do...maybe travel writing, because who wouldn't want to travel the world and write about the places you saw?

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble? 
The outlining. I work from a basic outline and it really helps me get my drafts down fast...the only problem is getting the outline actually DONE. Those 5,000 - 10,000 words are the hardest of any book I write!

Who is your favorite hero/heroine? 
Of the ones I've written...I'm going to say Paige and Alex. They're the newest, so there is that...but also, they were so real to me as I was writing. They just came alive. Of characters I didn't write. Hmmm...I absolutely LOVE Cilla and Ford from Nora Roberts' Tribute.



The Daughter He Wanted
Harlequin Superromance, January 2015

The Daddy Surprise 
     Since the loss of his wife, Alex Ryan has been living a half-life. But with one phone call, Alex discovers he's the biological father of a four-year-old girl…and everything changes. 
     Single mom Paige Kenner preferred to have a family without the man. Now suddenly there's Alex, who desperately wants to be a father to her little girl. A gorgeous, kind and committed father. Letting a stranger into their lives is far too dangerous—especially if his presence stirs a part of Paige that she longs to forget…

Buy Links:

About Kristina:  Once upon a time, Kristina Knight spent her days running from car crash to fire to meetings with local police--no, she wasn't a troublemaker, she was a journalist. Her career took her all over the United States, writing about everything from a serial killer's capture to the National Finals Rodeo. Along the way she found her very own Knight in Shining Cowboy Boots and an abiding love for romance novels. And just like the characters from her favorite books, she's living her own happily ever after. Kristina writes sassy contemporary romance novels; her books have appeared on Kindle Best Seller Lists. She loves hearing from readers, so drop her a line!

You can find Kristina here: 
Website     Facebook      Twitter     Pinterest     Tumblr     Goodreads     Google+


Tuesday, January 27, 2015 | By: Cafe

Tuesday Special: Jill James

JILL JAMES
http://www.jilljameswrites.com/

Love in the Time of Zombies
     Guess you never know. Who would have thought something as terrible as the zombie apocalypse would bring me something as wonderful as Seth Ripley?
     Of course, the zombies got my mother and my father, and my husband, Carl. Pretty much, they got my whole family. Okay, my husband Carl had been an asshole so he was no great loss. Never could keep it in his pants, if I may be so crude. If he could’ve kept it in his pants, he may have kept that appendage altogether. But, it was the early days of the Z virus mutation and how could he know the hooker he took to the cheap by-the-hour motel had the sickness? I’m sure he didn’t realize anything until the woman chewed it off, to be honestly blunt. He never was a great one for paying attention during sex as it was. Oh, maybe in the early days of our marriage, but he’d changed in the last few years, just before the end of the world.
     Five years of him spreading it far and wide to prove his virility and all I was left with was a one-sheet police report and a blurred photo of Carl with one between the opaque, dead eyes. The police had stopped trying to take sickies to the hospital a couple of weeks before. By the time Carl was attacked it was kill ‘em, identify ‘em, and burn ‘em in a pile. KIB was the order of the day. A few weeks after that and they skipped the identify part of the acronym too. A few weeks more and there weren’t enough police or bullets for the killing part either.
     Six months had passed and the police were all gone, along with the military. Now it was survival of the fittest. Never in a million years would I have pictured myself; neglected society, trophy-wife, Emily Gray, in that category. Guess you never know.
     Your day could start so shitty and end so... well, not great, because there weren’t too many great days anymore. The only definition to divide the monotony of the days were get bitten by a zombie day and not get bitten by a zombie day. But that day would turn out better than most. At least it would with a great deal of hindsight and distance from the event. Adding a whole hell of a lot of seeing a silver-lining after the fact helped too.
     As with most days, I had zombie patrol for the morning, which was so not my best time of the day. But zombies don’t have an off switch so we had to hunt first thing in the morning to clear the perimeter around the giant mall.
     Did you know shopping centers are the best defense against zombies? Me neither, until I got shipped out of what was left of San Francisco to the middle of nowhere—Brentwood. I’d never even heard of the town before I got sent there. Shopping centers are like medieval castles. Brick up the front doors and small back doors and the roof is like the battlements of a castle. Zombies can’t climb. Thank God for any small favor we could get. It’s about the only advantage we have. Because we have to sleep and the zombies don’t.

Love in the Time of Zombies is available at:     Amazon    Barnes & Noble     iBooks

About Jill:
     Jill James is a published author with The Wild Rose Press and now self-published. Her books are contemporary romance, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy romance. She lives in Northern California with her husband who is the inspiration behind all her romance novel heroes.
     Jill has been a member of Romance Writers of America since 2004. She started her work career as an accountant but soon realized that books and writing were her passion. Her first published book, Tempting Adam with The Wild Rose Press was a combination of her love of romance novels and the golden era of Hollywood movies.
     Her hobbies are writing and reading, not necessarily in that order.
     You can find Jill on Facebook and Twitter.



Friday, January 23, 2015 | By: Cafe
Treat every setback as an opportunity to learn the lesson and move you closer to your dreams.
- Billy Cox
Thursday, January 22, 2015 | By: Cafe

An Interview with Zrinka Jelic

The Write Way Café welcomes prolific author Zrinka Jelic, who offers this insight and more: the only author I try to be like is better than the one I was yesterday.
 
Zrinka will be gifting an E-copy of Rose of Crimson to one lucky commenter.  Be sure to leave your email so Zrinka can contact you if you are selected!

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
     I’ve always made up stories, be it totally made up ones or different endings of fairy tales, what if versions of the movies I’ve seen and so on. I never really thought of writing them down until high school when I wrote by hand my first short romance. Can’t remember the title of it, but all I know is it got passed around and eventually ripped to pieces in some cat fight over who got their hands on it first.
     I guess the love from romance comes from fairytales. There’s always a prince who rescues the princess and they lived happily ever after. Who wouldn’t love that? Only my princes and princesses are ordinary everyday people and princesses can hold their own and don’t need to be rescued by the prince in shining armor. In fact, Sirena, the pirate captain in Treasured Chest saves the hero, then he repays the favor.

What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
     Rose of Crimson was released by Secret Cravings Publishing on December 23rd, 2014. This is a prequel to Bonded by Crimson which was published on January 15th, 2012. I’ve started working on the prequel the day I was offered a publishing contract for Bonded by Crimson. Then it got pushed to the back burner while I worked on other projects. Since then I’ve written and published Treasured Chest, a pirate romance, Love Remains, a time travel romance and Deck the Halls, a Christmas novella.
     The kind of research I’ve done for this book was mostly online, but I did travel to Croatia in summer of 2012. The plan was to visit Rušinić castle in Kaštel Lukšić, but it just did not pan out. Trotting on the bus for a few hours, even if air conditioned, in the heat was not in my plan and renting a car with automatic shift is virtually impossible. All the rent-a-car agencies have is manual shift which I’m not comfortable to drive, especially on those roads with crazy drivers around me.

Where did the idea for your story come from?
     The Miles’ story is original Croatian legend from late 17th century, but I added a few details to make it interesting.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
     With the story comes the setting. Since this is (for the most part) based on the true love tragedy, I had to stay true to the setting.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
     As I mentioned above, the two characters are or rather were real people. Heroine, Kate in a small way reflects me.

Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret?
     I read all the time and find the inspiration in the books I read so I guess that’s my secret for not having a writer’s block. Though, some chapters/scenes do occasionally give me grief and I can’t clearly see them, but if I keep plugging at it, they’ll eventually surfaced out and come together just fine. So another secret is, keep at it.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after?
     Not sure, really can’t think of any.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about time travel and aristocrats?
     A hard question. Every book is a learning process. One tidbit I’ve learned is that aristocrats at the time this book takes place were a spoiled bunch of weaklings dependent on the working class.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
     All I have is a couch, a small laptop table that tilts and my computer. It works because it’s in the living room and tiny so clutter is not an option.

What are some of your favorite books and why?
     There’re too many to list here or to single one out. Right now I’m reading the second in the series of A Song of Ice and Fire, A Clash of Kings, or better known as HBO series A Game of Thrones. I didn’t think I’d like this enormous saga, with the numerous characters that I’ve heard is hard to keep up. I’m only on the second book and so far finding it OK, but I’ve been warned about the third book. Still, the only author I try to be like is better than the one I was yesterday.

What are you working on now?
     My work in progress is titled In the Stars, it’s a suspense romance about the high school sweethearts separated 14 years ago by the heroine’s parents. Now she’s back in town, still very much in love with the hero, and he’s in love with her, but trouble’s following her, plus she has a secret of her own.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why?
     My work in progress is a tryout in suspense genre. I’ve been published in historical and paranormal romance, but love to read a good suspense novel, it’s hard to find one with a strong romantic theme.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
     I’d like to try myself as a yoga instructor or maybe a personal fitness coach.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
     Usually it’s the middle of the story. I get the beginning and the ending. But the middle can quickly turn to soggy and I need to keep reminding myself to wind the story up not down, to keep that suspense going, to entice the reader to keep reading as they come to the end of the chapter.

Who is your favorite hero/heroine?
     My favorite is Matthias Zrin form Bonded by Crimson and its prequel Rose of Crimson if I must choose one only. But honestly, they are all my favorites.


KATE ROKOV‘s grades are plummeting. She needs to get the voice out of her head or she will flunk her finals.

MATTHIAS ZRIN, a three centuries old immortal, born into an aristocratic family as Miles Rušinić, is enthralled with Kate. It is his voice preventing Kate from sleeping and her ignorance is testing his limits. He wants her to write down his story to settle his wife’s earthbound spirit. His tragic love story has become Kate’s obsession since fifth grade during her summer trip to Rušinić castle.

You can pick up a copy for your Kindle, Kobo, Nook, or iPad

About Zrinka:  Zrinka Jelic lives in Ontario, Canada, with her husband and two children. A member of the Romance Writers of America and its chapter Fantasy Futuristic &Paranormal, as well as Savvy Authors, she writes contemporary fiction—which leans toward the paranormal—and adds a pinch of history. Her characters come from all walks of life, and although she prefers red, romance comes in many colors. Given Jelic's love for her native Croatia and the Adriatic Sea, her characters usually find themselves dealing with a fair amount of sunshine, but that's about the only break they get. "Alas," Jelic says, with a grin. "Some rain must fall in everyone's life."

You can find Zrinka here:    Blog     Facebook     Amazon     




Tuesday, January 20, 2015 | By: HiDee

Words to Live By

About five years ago, I read Debbie Macomber’s Thursdays at Eight. I confess it’s the only Debbie Macomber book I’ve read, despite my mom and aunt raving about and plying me with more of her books. They just keep getting shuffled in the to-be-read pile in my back room. And yet, something about Thursdays at Eight spoke to me.

The four women in the book were constants in each other’s lives. The last line of the blurb sums it up well. Their experiences become “opportunities for all of them to learn, to nurture, and to overcome life's obstacles--together.”

One of the ways the women supported each other was by choosing a word for the year. I loved this idea!  In the chaos of everyday life, it helps to have something to keep you centered. Having a word as a theme for my daily life resonated with me.

Each year since reading Thursdays at Eight, I’ve chosen words I hoped would encourage and enhance my creativity; words like choices, write, progress, accomplish, and focus. Sometimes they were simply written on a piece off paper and kept near my computer. Other times they were printed on index cards, and carried with me. The words were never far from my thoughts, though. Any time I thought about something writing related, the words were there reverberating in my brain, motivating me to write.

But words are just words by themselves. I had to choose to put them to work for me, to live by the words I had chosen in order for them to serve their purpose and allow me to improve my writing. Along the way, I learned my words often applied not just to my writing, but to my life in general.

I took advice from that cover blurb and decided to look upon each day as an opportunity to seize with both hands. My word for 2015 is persevere. I will need to make conscious choices in order to meet my writing and other goals. I also need to nurture my muse, so I plan to stop and smell the roses along the path of perseverance, and savor the journey.

What book(s) have you read that resonated strongly with you?  Please share.

Friday, January 16, 2015 | By: Cafe
The biggest decision you can make about your goals is what you are willing to give up in order to achieve them.
- Unknown
Thursday, January 15, 2015 | By: Cafe

An Interview with Jennifer DeCuir

The Write Way Café welcomes author Jennifer DeCuir, who believes home is where the heart is but loves to visit her small hometown through writing her books that feature small-town living.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
I wrote a really dark short story when I was in eighth grade. A friend insisted it was so good I needed to read it in front of the class. I either blew them away or freaked them the heck out, because everyone was staring with their mouths open. No one said a word. So I originally thought I’d write Stephen King type books. But by the time I was in high school, I was hopelessly addicted to Harlequins. And I was one of those critical “I could do that so much better” readers. I’ve been writing romance ever since.

What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
This is my 4th book with Crimson Romance, but the first that I sold based solely on proposal (submitting a manuscript with just the synopsis and the first three chapters). And yet I still didn’t feel comfortable submitting the proposal until I was in the editing phase, having just finished the rough draft. I didn’t really do much in the way of research, as most of it is based on my hometown. A little Pinterest trolling for just the right inspirational pictures.

Where did the idea for your story come from?
I grew up in a small town and couldn’t wait to leave. The opportunities, the excitement and adventure – it was all somewhere else. Anywhere else. Though the coffee shop idea is strictly because I am hopelessly addicted to coffee!!!

Why did you pick the setting you did?
As a young woman, I may have been thrilled at the opportunity to leave my hometown, but not a day goes by that I don’t miss it now. My fictitious town of Scallop Shores is based on my old hometown and every time I sit down to write a scene where I can describe even a tiny bit of the town, it’s a chance to “visit” with my hometown memories. The next best thing to being there.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
Cady’s need to leave town was the same as mine. But her personality couldn’t be any more different. Her family is quirky and loving and probably a bit stifling, something I always wanted. So I am living vicariously through her. I’d guess 99% of what I write comes out of my imagination.

What are some of your favorite books and why?
I love the Malory family books by Johanna Lindsay. And just about any family trilogy by Nora Roberts (bonus points if they’re set in Ireland). I have always enjoyed getting to know an entire family through a series, and revisiting them through the next books and so on.  At the moment I am reading and re-reading The Hobbit. Someday I swear I am going to give Thorin, Fili and Kili happy endings.

What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on Book 5 in my Scallop Shores series. This is Bree’s (the children’s librarian and everyone’s favorite ‘go to’ person) story, and probably the last in the series, though I have left it quite open-ended…just in case.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why?
Funny you should ask, because the series I am plotting out right now is fantasy. Such a huge departure from what I have published so far. I’m equal parts terrified and excited to see if I can pull this off. But part of me realizes that from the moment I entered J.R.R. Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth, I was meant to try my hand at something similar. I tell my kids I was a hobbit in a past life. 

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
I love to crochet and tried, at one point, to build a business around it. I did a few craft fairs, and had a booth in a crafters’ co-op. Now that Etsy is around, I think it’d be fun to see if I could actually turn a profit crocheting baby shower gifts, scarves, slippers, etc. 

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
Would you believe the love scenes? I have no problem reading them, but writing them? Honestly, you should see me blush. It’s so ridiculous. I’m on my fifth book so far and I still blush.

About Jennifer:  Jennifer is a busy writer mom, juggling play dates, sports schedules and book deadlines. She lives on coffee and chocolate and keeps the local pizza delivery service in business.

Keep in touch with Jennifer at:

Website: www.jenniferdecuir.com
Blog: blog.jenniferdecuir.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JenniferDeCuirauthor
Twitter: @jenniferdecuir
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/mzdecuir/

Buy links for Trapped in Tourist Town:
Amazon     Barnes & Noble      Crimson Romance      Kobo



Tuesday, January 13, 2015 | By: Cafe

Tuesday Special: Ashley York

Ashley York


The Saxon Bride
     Rowena, the lone surviving member of the powerful Godwinson family, must bow once again to the Normans with a marriage to one of the King's most favored knights. Why should she set aside her proud Saxon heritage to become this warmonger's latest conquest?
     John, the bastard son of unknown parentage, follows the dictates of his King, William of Normandy, without question. That is until he is saddled with the spoiled Saxon princess as a bride. What can William be thinking to tie him down to these barbarians?

Available here:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

Excerpt:
     "Methinks your way is more than clear."
     "No," John's voice was quiet again. "You called out to me as sure as a Siren's song."
     She shook her head, her lips in a tight smile. "So now you are a hero that legends are written of?"
     "I came across a beautiful woman I would rather die than not have."
     Her lips parted with her quiet gasp, her silver eyes rounded with the longing he'd sensed in her response to him.
     John stepped toward her and continued, "I was a drowning man and you were refreshing water."
     Rowena seemed to lean toward him as well. A knock at the door startled him, breaking the spell.
     "Who is it?" They responded at the same time.
     After a long pause, a woman's timid voice answered. "It is Joan."
     "Come in." Rowena's voice held a note of desperation.
     "Go away." John commanded
     At the sound of the retreating steps, a crest-fallen look swept across Rowena's face. He had hurt her yet again. But she was not screaming at him or beating his chest. She glanced at the ground.
     John fought the need to take her into his arms and finish what he'd started. His hands clenched at his sides to stop from reaching out to her.
     Her eyes finally met his, the look of longing replaced by anger. "Why have you come back?"
     "I have come to be your husband."

About Ashley:
Always an avid romance reader herself, Ashley York enjoys bringing history to life through vibrant and meaningful characters, writing historical romance novels full of passion and intrigue set in the 11th and 12th century British Isles. Her latest release, The Saxon Bride, is the first in The Norman Conquest series.

When she is not writing, talking about writing, or thinking about writing, Ashley relaxes with visits to the local pubs listening to live Celtic tunes. She lives in southern New England with her husband and 3 very spoiled animals.
Friday, January 9, 2015 | By: Cafe
A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: 
1. What am I trying to say? 
2. What words will express it? 
3. What image or idiom will make it clearer? 
4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?

- George Orwell, Politics and the English Language
Thursday, January 8, 2015 | By: Cafe

An Interview with Ashley York

The Write Way Café welcomes author Ashley York, author of medieval romances. Read where she got her inspiration and how she turned her love of writing into becoming an author.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
     I was always going to be a writer. When I was in high school, I took all the writing courses I could. My first story was really a YA (even though that wasn't a genre then) about a friend of mine who was a lesbian. My teacher, who had been very supportive of my writing, was diagnosed with breast cancer that semester but continued to work with me on the story. I would send it to her via the substitute. One day I saw the substitute reading it. I was mortified. I got a manila envelope for it after that. It was a very tender love story about her and her girlfriend.  I still have that story. 
     I have been reading romances forever. I think my sister-in-law gave me my first one and I wish I still had it. It was great. My first favorite romance writer was Janet Dailey. I loved her books. She wrote western romance. It was the most popular romance genre in the early eighties. Ride the Thunder. The Calder Saga. So well written.  I was very saddened by her recent passing. When I moved to Colorado from Connecticut, I decided I should write a western romance. 
     I lived up in the mountains in a town with a population of 550. Our cabin was located right across the street from the tiny building which housed the Gilpin County Library. I did all my research there. It was a romance with a native American whose father was a French fur trader. When his father died, his mother and him were allowed back into the tribe but never really accepted. He had long black hair and bright blue eyes. 
     The story never got very far because even though it is historically accurate that some of the tribes did steal the settlers and some did rape the woman, rape in romances, no matter how delicately handled, was a burning topic of discussion and became frowned upon. Violence against women at all became totally unacceptable. I guess I never realized exactly how involved I was at the time with goings on in the romance field but I remember that very specifically. I needed to re-think my story so it never got anywhere. I still have the beginnings of that book. I may write it yet.
     I was in Colorado for Margie Lawson's Immersion Class in November. The cabin we lived in was still there but the library was gone. Disappointing since I wanted to take a picture of it.  
     The next romance writer I absolutely loved was Johanna Lindsey. She writes all different time periods and in all different places. Her medieval books were my favorite (naturally) but I did love the Mallory family, too. Through her stories I got to go everywhere. I was amazed at her breadth of knowledge. It was all so intriguing. I never went to college until I was in my thirties but number one on my agenda was to learn about all those historical places and events for myself. My research got to a new level with my history degree. It was great.

What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
     In 2006 my husband and I went on a trip to Scotland. I was finishing my MA in History and it was a class they offered over the summer. As always, my husband was the biggest supporter of the trip. I just made him go along with me. I knew nothing about the place. What was the big deal about the Jacobites? I didn't know. It was an amazing trip. I fell in love with the place. I decided I would write my graduate thesis on the Scottish Enlightenment and my deep love for Scotland grew. I am Scottish but I haven't learned where my ancestors were from yet.
     A short time later, my daughter bought me the first in the The Outlander Series as a present. I was hooked. Scotland and romance? Life could not get better than that. Ha ha. The Bruised Thistle was my Scottish romance book. Keep in mind what happened with my western romance. It went nowhere. So I took a writing class with Carol Monroe and her encouragement was tremendous. She told me about a local writing chapter and when they met. I decided to check it out. That was the Charter Oak Romance Writers (CORW). I was hooked and decided to join the Romance Writers of America (RWA).  
     I think RWA was just starting when I was in Colorado. I had read an article about this new group and I always thought how cool it would be to be a member. My husband had encouraged me to find out more about it but I didn't think they wanted me. I think I remember Janet Dailey was a guest speaker. I was nobody. What a different path my life might have taken if I had followed his advice. He'll be the first to tell you that's usually the way of it. 
     CORW  was a group of  writers at various stages of writing. Maybe the nicest ones in the group were the published authors. That was not what I expected. They were so supportive and patient. The group offered workshops and speakers but most of them were contemporary, paranormal writers. I needed to find like minded writers to make the most of this association.  I joined an on-line group of Celtic writers (Irish, Scottish, Welsh) called Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. I felt right at home. I took my first on line classes through them. I started to think I may actually be able to do this. RWA and all their support really made it possible.
     The overwhelming obstacle that I kept hearing about was medieval romances didn't sell.  I knew it was what I wanted to read so was I really all alone? I was at one workshop where a guest editor took the first few pages of our works-in-progress (WIP) and showed how an editor actually worked. Naturally mine was first but it was anonymous so as long as I didn't react, she'd never know. Immediately she attacked the time period and said "I don't even know who you would query for this" meaning she didn't know any publisher that would even look at it. She proceeded to belittle my opening line, my choice of beginning POV, and never even got past the first page. Hmm, wasn't looking very good for my dream.
     Then the CORW had a weekend conference featuring the very entertaining Mary Buckham. She taught about Scene and Sequel but it was the off lecture moments where she really showcased her wisdom. She explained how important it was to have clear goals at every stage of writing and how this helped keep your eye on what you really wanted to accomplish. She also said to keep querying even if all you got back were rejections. What if you sent out 39 query letters, received 39 rejections and just stopped. You said you had enough and that was that. But what if it was the fortieth query that was going to say "give me more"? How could you stop? You need to keep trying. Her encouragement was the best part of the whole weekend. 
     Mary also explained the difference between indie and self publishing. E-books were growing in popularity. There were a lot of changes going on in New York and nobody was really sure how it was all going to play out. I think it's safe to say we still don't know. Vanity Presses and small publishers were springing up all over. Self-publishing was becoming a viable option but the term "self-publishing" had a bad connotation. It immediately brought to mind  people that think they've written the great American novel. No special training. No critiquing. No feedback of any kind other than their mother who told them they could do anything.  They publish it and there you go. This is not to say that is actually what "self-published" meant, it was just a bias many had at the time.
     "Indie pubbing" was the term coined  for the writer who saw the benefit of others giving them feedback. They became the writer and the publisher. Professionalism was everything. They realized they couldn't objectively see their own work because they loved their story and everything about it. Their minds filled in the parts that weren't on the page and they needed someone objective to point that out and help fill in the pieces. Most of all, they believed in hiring professionals to help polish their work. That includes editing,  a professional cover,  proper formatting, etc. Mind you, that is not the way the two terms are used today. They're pretty interchangeable and no assumption should be made with either term. But I usually do refer to myself as Indie-pubbed. I decided that would be the route I tried. I also couldn't see wasting time trying to learn how to write a query when what I wanted was to learn how to write a good book. I hired professionals to support my book. It is certainly not easy and I made quite a few mistakes with the people I hired to work with. I have to say after trial and error, I  finally have a really great "team" that I love.  
     BTW that WIP the guest editor was not very complimentary about was published as The Saxon Bride. It's how I made it to became a PAN (Published Author Network) member in the RWA. It also became a #1 Best Seller on Amazon UK. 

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to become a writer? 
     What makes a writer, is a person who actually writes. If that's your dream, you need to do it. Don't go further than that because that will hold you back. Go ahead and tell a story. I recently read that the ability to tell a good story is something that can't be taught. I think if you have the desire to write, however, it probably comes from that innate ability you already have. Diana Gabaldon told her stories before she ever wrote them down. At least that's what I've always heard about her. A desire to become a writer is the first step. 
     The craft of writing can be learned and improved upon. Take a class. Not just any class, but the right class. When I was in Colorado I took an adult education class at the University of Colorado with Barbara Steiner. I suffered from agoraphobia so this was a very big deal for me. It was extremely nerve wracking.  I still have my assignment from her and her comments. I really had no idea how to go about writing in a formal way. She'd asked for a short story, I gave her just the opening. Oh well. But her response stuck with me. There was a lot of possibilities in the piece but I needed to work on it, build on it, bring it to fruition. Work! Focus! Finish! 
     No one should believe writing is easy. It's not. But  it's very rewarding. I've gotten some wonderful letters from readers. They encourage me.  I write for them. 
     I've met a lot of different types along the way. Would be writers just waiting to get their wonderful work "perfected" for publication. The woman who believes her story is wonderful and it's the audience who doesn't appreciate  her work. Mostly I've met people who had that desire to write inside them from the beginning. They do it for the sheer love of creating interesting characters and placing them in exotic settings to tell their enthralling stories. My advice would be — do it.

The Bruised Thistle is available at:
Amazon 
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Kobo


About Ashley:
     Always an avid romance reader herself, Ashley York decided to get her BS in History to learn what she'd only read about in these books and maybe become a teacher. When she got her MA in History, it was so she could realize her lifelong dream of becoming a romance novelist herself.
     She enjoys bringing history to life through vibrant and meaningful characters, writing historical romance novels full of passion and intrigue set in the 11th and 12th century British Isles. Her debut novel, The Bruised Thistle, is set in Scotland and is the first in The Order of the Scottish Thistle series.
     When she is not writing, talking about writing, or thinking about writing, Ashley relaxes with visits to the local pubs listening to live Celtic tunes, participating with guitar, voice, and whistle. In the words of one of her favorite songs, she enjoys "…singing songs to pass the night away…"
     She lives in southern New England with her husband and 3 very spoiled animals.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015 | By: Cafe

Announcing Tuesday Specials!

This year, we wanted to do something to give back to all the authors who have generously given of their time by being interviewed and writing guest posts for The Write Way Cafe. Today, we kick off with a preview of what you can expect from our new Tuesday Specials. Starting January 13, every other Tuesday we'll offer a new special, putting the spotlight back on authors.


Rena Koontz
www.renakoontz.com

The Devil She Knew
     "You have to trust somebody, Cassidy. It might as well be me," he said. But she didn't know him. And something her mother taught her once always stayed with her: "Better the devil you know than the devil you don't."
     When reputed mobster Tony DelMorrie feuds with his girlfriend and wins the fight by killing her, Cassidy Hoake is the only witness. She quickly becomes a target when DelMorrie skips bail—running is Cassidy’s only option. Now, she’s hiding from the devil, living in a small Ohio town, aware that only her anonymity protects her. She can’t afford complications like Clay Cestra. His police uniform fits like a second skin and he looks even better with his clothes off.
     But he is the law and she is a fugitive. A life with him means risking everything, confronting her demons and defeating the devil.        



The Devil She Knew will be discounted to $0.99 between January 8 - January 16 at these E-retailers: Amazon; Barnes & Noble; Apple iBooks; Crimson Romance and Google Play.


Excerpt:
     Black rivulets swirled in the white porcelain sink, gurgling in the drain as it swallowed her old identity.
Her head under the faucet, Cassidy Hoake watched the waves of dark liquid fade while she continued to massage her scalp under the warm water. The box said to rinse until the water ran clear. Just a few more minutes.
     She grabbed a towel, draped her head, and stood, rubbing vigorously with her eyes closed. Ready or not, she looked at her reflection in the mirror behind the sink.
     The new look surprised even her. Gone was the thick, auburn mane her mother had often bragged about. She’d replaced the shoulder-length locks she’d worn since high school with a lustrous black, short haircut that she planned to spike up and out and fringe to frame her face. She stared wide-eyed at herself,
then walked barefoot into the bedroom and retrieved a pair of burgundy-framed eyeglasses from the bureau. Thank goodness she’d discovered that year-round costume store. Buying items for a disguise was easy.
Standing in front of the mirror again, she took a deep breath and carefully edged the eyeglasses up her nose. Her eyebrows raised in surprise at the result. She barely recognized herself.
     Surely, he wouldn’t.


About Rena:
     After a successful journalism career, Rena Koontz now focuses her award-winning writing skills on her love of romantic suspense. "The Devil She Knew" is one of three of her novels. A fourth book releases this summer.
     Rena recently relocated to Florida where she doesn't have to shovel sunshine and the only salt she encounters rims her glass. She lives on the Gulf Coast with her husband, her dog, and her intriguing cast of characters who, in her mind, are real people—even the dog.

Friday, January 2, 2015 | By: Cafe
So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.
- Dr. Seuss

Thursday, January 1, 2015 | By: Cafe

Happy New Year!


Wishing you a successful New Year!

The Write Way Café