One of my old mentors had a favorite expression. “Sometimes you’re good, sometimes you’re lucky, and sometimes, it’s a little bit of both”. That’s always stuck with me.
So maybe it’s a combination of being lucky and good that’s brought me this far with writing my stories. But one of things that’s been a pleasant surprise is doing podcasts.
Over the years, I’ve done a few of these, hoping to connect with different audiences and share some of my stories. Most were interviews, where you talked about the craft of writing, gave a little synopsis of your latest book and where people could find it. Those were good, but they were lacking in anything that could really hook a reader.
That’s what is so different from Diana K. Plopa’s “Indie Reads Aloud” program. Diana does a brief intro, a little background on the author, then lets us read selected scenes from our books.
I first met Diana at a book festival a long time back. She’s also an author, editor, and promoter extraordinaire. We hit it off and have been friends ever since. When she decided to start the Indie Reads Aloud program, I was one of the earliest guests. The interest in her shows continues to grow.
My fifth visit was released today. You can now hear me read scenes from Stealing Haven, Devious and Vanishing Act from the Jamie Richmond series, along with The Wayward Path and Why 319 from the Jefferson Chene series. You can find links to each of those programs on the right-hand column on the blog.
Listening to these podcasts allows you to sample a bit of the story. Then you can decide if what you hear appeals to you.
We have such a great time doing these recordings that Diana has invited me back to read the rest of the books in the catalogue.
Am I that good, or that lucky? Or maybe, it’s a little bit of both. I’ll let you decide.
The hits just keep on coming. As quickly as one issue is wrapped up and posted, I strive to get things started for the next one. That means coming up with a new topic, an update and lining up another author to stop by for a visit. Time, and timing, is everything. With that in mind, let’s jump into the April issue.
Over the years I have worked with a number of different editors at several publishing houses. It’s been my practice to always submit the manuscript in the best possible shape. This usually happens after several rounds of revisions and utilizing a small crew of beta readers who don’t hesitate to give me honest feedback.
When a friend recently asked about this process, she thought I’d be insulted that the editor wanted to make changes.
“Not at all. I’m too close to the story to see obvious issues or mistakes,” I told her. “A good editor can spot them. A great editor can help guide me and the story, making it so much better.”
Some editors just glance at the story, make a checkmark here or there and pass it on. Then after it’s printed, mistakes are discovered. It’s too late to fix it now. I always take the heat for anything that sneaks by. After all, it’s my work. Any mistakes are mine.
This month I’m working with a new editor on the “Chasing Favors” manuscript. The latest adventures of Jamie Richmond came together well. I’m pleased with the comments and suggestions the editor has made so far. We’ve exchanged notes on the first round.
A great editor can make a tremendous difference in the story.
And for that, I’ll always be grateful.
Work In Progress:
The crime novel continues to move forward. A couple of new characters have been developed. The research has become intriguing. Since most of the story is set in 1992, I’m frequently jumping back to learn what was going on in Motown at that time.
I don’t have a daily word count (never could work with that) but I do try to spend some time with this project each week. With the current semester coming to a close, I’m hoping to have a few extra hours in the next few weeks to make great strides in the story.
Like many authors I know, the characters we create are real. I can envision the way they act, think and talk. Some would say writers are more comfortable with their own characters than we are with family or friends. I’m not arguing that. But there are dramatic differences between my ‘crew’. If Jamie was involved in this story, she’d be urging me to hurry up and get back to work. Leo Agonasti is more laid back. He knows in the end his story will do him justice. See how relaxed he looks!
A few months ago at one of the author’s workshops that I facilitate for the local library, I met Samantha Moran. During the session, Sam was able to share some of her work with the group. The reaction was very positive. Sam and I started talking afterwards. Not only did I invite her to visit the blog, but Sam will be joining me at several upcoming festivals.
Let’s get to know more about Samantha.
Tell us something about yourself and how you became an author.
Hello! I’m a proud graduate of Western Michigan University with a background in English Secondary Education. I am the mother to two amazing kids, and I’m also a Multiple Sclerosis warrior.
I’ve wanted to become an author since I was twelve years old. In middle school, I attended the “Live Poets Society” weekly meeting at the Northfield Township Library in my hometown (Whitmore Lake, MI), but at some point as I grew up, I stopped believing in my dream. I didn’t start writing again until I was twenty-five after my first child was born.
One day in 2017, I confessed to my husband that writing a book had always been my dream, but I felt like no one would want to read it. I had a plan for a book in my mind but wasn’t going to see it through. That night, he handed me my laptop and told me to get to work! Since then, we started our own imprint (Obsidian Inkwell Publishing, LLC) and I’ve released five works: “Stages of Grief,” Without You, Tales of Grief and Healing, Dealings in the Dark, and Bound and Betrayed. I have two more book releases coming this year, as well as a short tale.
Do you ever imagine one of your novels being made into a movie or television series?
If one of my books were ever to be made into a movie or television series, I would hope it was Dealings in the Dark. This is the first work in my ongoing Cursed Souls series. It’s a supernatural and occult horror with witches, demons, hellhounds, and a deal gone very wrong. This particular work lends itself to the screen because it’s short, fast-paced, and riddled with secrets and generational trauma.
Any favorite actors you’d cast in the lead roles?
The two main characters in Dealings in the Dark are Alexandria Hendricks and Iroth, an insufferable demon. As I wrote these characters, two actors came to mind. Ironically, and completely coincidentally, the actress I would cast for Alexandria Hendricks has a similar name. I would love to see Alexandra Daddario fulfill that role. For Iroth, I envision Jensen Ackles. He had the right swagger to create the insufferable demon’s personality.
What is your writing process? For instance, do you do an outline first? Do you write the chapters in sequence?
Typically, my writing process starts with a vague idea and free flow. I find it hard to sit and outline a book from the beginning. I sometimes write a brief summary of where I want the book to go, but not always. More often, I simply sit down and start writing. I work with whatever comes out, adjusting as needed. At about the halfway point, I start outlining what remains. Doing so once my mind has already latched on to the story helps me stay on track but still gives me creative freedom.
Tell us a little bit about the characters in your latest book.
On February 1st, of this year I released a short work, Without You: A Novelette. Without You is a sequel to my first published work, “Stages of Grief.” In addition to the individual publication, I released Tales of Grief and Healing: A Complete Duology which contains both of these tales in one binding. My goal was to make the work more accessible for readers who needed different things.
Without You: A Novelette tells the story of Owen, a character from “Stages of Grief,” who has recently lost someone close to him. In the wake of her death, he has to learn to live without this person and discover his new “normal.” This tale covers the ups and downs in the days following tragic loss. For example, it discusses the days that are so difficult that the character can barely take care of himself because of the crushing depression he feels, but it also covers the days that are surprisingly okay and how that’s somehow worse because he feels terrible about experiencing happiness without her there.
I wrote this book because, though I’m only thirty years old, I have lost a significant number of people in my life. While it is fiction and does include a paranormal component (not scary), my hope is that it provides others with a safe space to process their losses and accept that their feelings are valid. We all need that. As I like to write in my inscriptions, hearts are always broken in the end, but you have to let the good things in.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
My characters tend to pop into my mind as they are needed. I try to begin the story with two or three main characters and fill in the blanks as the plot progresses. Sometimes, the side characters become my favorite!
What is your latest book about?
My latest release is Without You: A Novelette. Here are the back cover details:
Life after loss is so hard to find, but you have to let the good things in.
Owen Josephson knows that life doesn't always end with death. He has spent his own life watching the ghosts of strangers’ pine after the lives they've lost and the loved ones they've left behind. But after a tragic loss, Owen is faced with a reality he never expected to endure. Without the one he loves most, Owen must learn how to move on with the life he has left and put her ghost behind him. Follow his journey in this heartrending tale as grief becomes hope after profound loss.
Can you share an excerpt, too?
There are many different kinds of loss in life. Some are small, a favorite toy misplaced as a child or a missing ring of keys. Some are larger, more impactful and challenging, like a friend who moves away or a career ending. Then, there are the greater moments, profound in their depth, things that tear at your soul and leave you raw and empty.
We try so hard to avoid these losses, even though they are inevitable. For most, the singular comfort in these endings is that they are final, absolute.
Death is meant to be a permanent departure. Those who leave us cease to exist on the earthly plane. They’re not meant to be in pain. We are. It’s devastating for those of us who are left behind. It’s a person-sized hole punched into the fabric of the universe at which we stare until we can no longer make out the edges.
It hurts, plain and simple, but then we somehow move on. We let go of that emptiness and continue with our lives, accepting the new job, splurging on that trip we always meant to take, moving into the new apartment, adopting a dog, or maybe making friends with the cute server at the bar.
The only thing that allows this forward momentum is the acceptance that nothing will ever change. Resisting death is futile, and abandoning life is obscene.
Most people don’t see what I see.
I know that “dead” doesn’t mean “gone.” I know that the ones who leave us can linger for weeks, months, and sometimes decades. I see the figures that trail behind weary travelers on the subway. They sit beside us in the cafes. They stare at our computer screens at work.
Death isn’t as final as everyone believes.
To read the rest of the prologue from Without You: A Novelette, visit my website here. I always post the first section of my published works there for free.
What’s the next project you’ll be working on?
At this moment, I’m almost finished with my rewrites of The Ruin, the first manuscript I ever completed. This is the story that started it all, the one my husband insisted I write after I told him about my dreams on the beach in South Haven, MI. It’s been six years in the making, and I can’t wait to share it with the world! The Ruin is a crossover between literary fiction, urban fantasy, and Norse mythology reimagining.
For two years, twenty-one-year-old Kara Edwards has struggled to keep her mother alive after a terminal cancer diagnosis. She's working herself to the bone at a minimum-wage job and sinking deep into debt to pay for expensive treatments. Unfortunately, when the final procedure does not go according to plan, she’s run out of options. Her world teeters on the brink of collapse as she faces the reality that her mother is out of time. That is until her mother’s doctor offers Kara one more option, an expensive and illegal experimental drug called Novemion.
To make matters worse, her absent father is suddenly back in town, and he’s brought an unbelievable family secret with him, one that presents Kara with the strangest of opportunities. If his stories are true, she might be able to save her mother’s life with a dangerous supernatural ability, but it would put the whole of humanity at risk.
Once again, Kara is faced with an impossible choice, and each comes with a steep price. She can place her hope in the untested experimental treatment, give into the temptation of the mythical family secret and risk millions of lives, or allow the mother she idolizes to die.
What will she choose, and can she live with the consequences?
You can learn more about Samantha and find her works at the links below.
"Stages of Grief: A Short Story" (http://amazon.com/dp/B0B85VQML6)
Without You: A Novelette (http://amazon.com/dp/B0BQRTVG7R)
Tales of Grief and Healing: A Complete Duology (http://amazon.com/dp/B0BR8CNPPT)
Dealings in the Dark (http://amazon.com/dp/B0BFJNK2VX)
Bound and Betrayed (http://amazon.com/dp/B0BNGC5G53)
The Ruin (https://www.amazon.com/Ruin-Samantha-Moran-ebook/dp/B0BWVF17ST)
No newsletter can be complete with a musical guest. I enjoy variety and both my Spotify and Pandora accounts have favorite tracks in many genres. This month Norah Jones has been popping up a lot.
Norah Jones established her catalog of hit songs beginning in the early 2000s. With her skills as a vocalist, pianist and songwriter, it didn’t take long before she began attracting worldwide attention. Jones has been nominated for more than 40 Grammy awards, winning 14 times.
Billboard magazine named her as one of the top jazz artists of the 2000 decade.
Here’s my top five favorites from Norah Jones.
Don’t Know Why: https://youtu.be/tO4dxvguQDk
Nearness of You: https://youtu.be/hsczuCzyUs4
Come Away with Me: https://youtu.be/lbjZPFBD6JU
Shoot the Moon: https://youtu.be/TENV8IhpZ2A
Chasing Pirates: https://youtu.be/uTxythHY09k
The Wayward Path
Your Turn To Die