September! That magical month when students return to school, the weather takes on a crispness (at least here in the Mitten State), Halloween is just around the corner and the official start of football! Gotta admit that Autumn is my favorite time of the year. Time to catch up on writing, projects, events, an interview with another great author, and of course, music.
Last weekend I participated in another event. This was a two-day gathering in Paw Paw, MI, celebrating a wine and harvest festival. The weather was picture perfect, drawing a large crowd who attended multiple events and strolled through the arts section where my booth was set up. Author Cecila A. Garcia joined me, so we had plenty of books available in different genres.
The weekend was a hit. We both sold a lot and had the opportunity to speak with plenty of readers.
I had two memorable conversations. One was from a young man interested in writing. Looking at the arrangement of our books, he shook his head and told me he could never do something like this, talking to people about his stories in the hopes of making a sale.
I explained that marketing should be part of the job description for any author. Writing a good story is extremely important. Getting it published, either through a traditional publisher or independently, is the next step. But if you think that’s all you have to do and the sales will automatically pour in, you’re sadly mistaken. Even bestselling authors do some events to connect with readers and promote their books. John Sandford and James Rollins are just a couple who come to mind that routinely will schedule appearances in different cities whenever a new book is released.
Many other authors will utilize social media sites, employ promotional companies and advertising to attract readers. Putting forth a good promo effort is as important as writing a good book.
In my youth, I would have never expected to be comfortable, standing at the table, engaging people in conversations about my stories. But that’s like anything else. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
I wished the young man well with his own efforts.
My second memorable conversation was at the end of Sunday, as we were about to pack everything up. A lovely young lady, who just so happened to be a redhead, was looking over the Jamie Richmond series, drawn in by the incredible artwork on the covers.
I told her if she bought a copy, she could always tell her friends that not only did she model for the cover, but that she was in fact the inspiration for the character. Her personality was a perfect match for Jamie.
She beamed a smile and said, “I do have some very gullible friends.”
She bought a copy of “Chasing Favors” and went on her way. I have no doubt she’ll convince her friends that it’s true.
Next up on the circuit is the Creative Arts Festival on September 30th in Otsego, MI. There will be a lot going on at this venue and I’m really looking forward to it. Once again, Cecilia A. Garcia will be joining me. Let’s hope Mother Nature continues to smile upon us.
Work In Progress
I have been diligently working on the crime novel. New scenes have been devised, a couple of new characters added and a bit of rearrangement with the manuscript is underway.
Since I don’t work with an outline, I write the scenes as inspiration strikes. Often when that particular scene is done, it will trigger the idea for several more. These can be sequential or occurring at an earlier or later date in the story.
I’m close to the midpoint now. Just over 40,000 words have been written. Rearranging the manuscript allows me to work on the flow, see what scenes are necessary to be moved around and what needs to be added. When I have it blocked out, then it’s time to consider what is missing and what scenes can tie this all together. Sounds confusing, right?
Maybe so, but that’s the method that works best for me. And as long as it’s moving the story forward, I consider that progress.
It’s always a pleasure for me to meet other authors. There are so many talented people out there. Sometimes we connect through the magic of social media or the internet. Others it can be where we attend an art festival. I first met Mandy Jo when we both were participating in last February’s monthlong mystery event. We shared quite a few laughs during those evening Zoom calls. Earlier this summer, we met in person for the first time.
Tell us something about yourself and how you became an author.
My name is Mandy Jo. Growing up, I always enjoyed writing. I even went to a creative writing summer camp. While going through my parents’ basement, I did come across some of my early writings. You know the ones that were “printed” and bound with cardboard and a fancy covering. I’ve always been an avid writer and reader. Fast forward to 2017 when I decided to answer the questions of my walkers in a book. I didn’t want it to be just a training manual. I changed it up into a fictional easy read story format. I have kept moving forward with more and more stories, some have made their way into a published book. Non-writing things about me: I love to cook, travel, and spend time with friends and family. My favorite color is purple.
Do you ever imagine one of your novels being made into a movie or television series?
I would love for my Stormy Travel Thru Time to be a movie. It’d be such fun with the time travel.
Any favorite actors you’d cast in the lead roles?
I would say any of the Hallmark or Great American Media stars, I would be happy with.
What is your writing process? For instance, do you do an outline first? Do you write the chapters in sequence?
I did an outline for my first book, because part of it is a training program for walkers. I don’t typically do outlines. I start out with a few paragraphs and go from there.
Tell us a little bit about the characters in your latest book.
Heinrich Rindhage is my great-grandfather and the main character of A Stormy Travel Thru Time with his brother Gustav Rindhage.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
They appear as I write. Sometimes I don’t even have names for them.
A Stormy Travel Thru Time is about two brothers that head off on the SS Kroonland for America in 1903. As they start their journey out into the ocean, a storm crops up and sends them forward in time and to a different location. Each time a storm comes along, the process repeats itself - multiple times. There are familiar locations and events to Michiganders in the story.
Can you share an excerpt?
The clouds go from a light gray to a dark black color as they are tumbling in faster and faster. There are streaks of lightning and crashes of thunder. The waves are getting higher and higher on the ship.
Heinrich looks at Gustav and says, “Wow, these waves are getting big. I am sure we’ll be getting wet very soon.”
“Yeah, maybe we should go inside,” he replies while looking around seeing the other men heading for cover.
“Let’s stay outside for a bit longer. I love the adventure. So what if we get a bit wet.”
The ship moves closer to the dark clouds. The lightning is appearing more frequent along with the thunder following each streak. As Heinrich looks around the deck of the boat he is seeing everyone has taken cover. They are alone.
“Ok, let’s go inside,” he says to Gustav.
A wave comes up and gets the deck wet, missing them by inches. They change their walking to running. Lightning is striking all around the ship when the entire sky lights up blinding them, a loud thunder cracks deafening them, and the next moment everything goes dark and silent.
Opening their eyes, blinking a few times and scanning the area around them, something is dramatically different. “This does not look like the same ship. This is much bigger,” Heinrich says.
“So, what ship are we on?”
“I have no idea. Let’s go find out.”
Standing up, getting their balance and then stretching, they slowly walk towards the flags on the boat and turn to see what else is around them. There’s writing on the ship and it says,
What’s the next project you’ll be working on?
I have a few writing projects that I am working on: mystery, paranormal, and a Hallmark type story. I am simultaneously working on the Creative Slingers of Ink writing group where we have multi-author book signing events, writing sessions, and our brand-new Small Business Saturday Book Sale. This book sale is taking place on Saturday, November 23, 2023 with up to 40 authors! You can find all the writing group details and events at https://creativeslingersofink.com/
You can purchase a copy of Mandy’s book here. https://www.mandyjo.us/time-travel/
I am quick to admit that it’s impossible for me to work in silence. There must be music. While I like a wide variety of artists, I noticed a pattern this last month, where strong female vocalists would distract me. Maybe it was dancing in my seat or singing along. I couldn’t nail down any one in particular, so it seems fitting to shine the spotlight on some of my favorites.
Bonnie Raitt: Something to Talk About: https://youtu.be/mJ58TVYNFro?si=N8E54lmfI7g9wcoa
Linda Ronstadt: Blue Bayou:
Ella Fitzgerald: At Last
Aretha Franklin: Until You Come Back to Me:
Lizz Wright: Singing in My Soul