February! How did that happen? Seems like just a blink ago, we were settling down for the Christmas holidays. Now we’re racing through the second month without a look in the rearview mirror. Progress is actually happening. As Dr. Amy Cuddy says ‘small steps can lead to big changes.’ I’ll run with that.
Meanwhile, it’s time for my thoughts on writing, an update on my latest efforts and news about an absolutely crazy virtual event. There’s also an interview with author Chloe Holiday, and music. There’s gotta be music.
Here we go!
Earlier this month, I participated in a book event at the local library. They pulled out all the stops to make this special. More than 20 authors were in the house, staged in different rooms. There was a small jazz band performing, food and even prizes. Yes, food and music in a public library! Who would have believed it? Nearly 200 people visited that night, which was remarkable for a three hour session.
One lady stopped by my table and after looking at all seven books, raised a quizzical eyebrow at me. “You just make this stuff up.”
I gestured around the room at the other nine authors. “Everyone in here writes fiction. So in a sense, yes, we make it up. The stories come from our imagination.”
She glared at me. “Just what I thought!”
“But you should know, there’s a fair amount of research that goes into my work. I can’t speak for everyone here, but I’m always researching things to include in my books.”
Now I had her. She picked up The Wayward Path. “What did you research in this one?”
“I interviewed a woman who trains human remains dogs and used that information to open the book. I also talked with an old friend who is an expert on the Civil War. He also participates in reenactments.”
She put the book down and asked about others. I explained that over the course of the books, I’ve interviewed people who work in technology, law enforcement, the medical profession, a yoga instructor and a firearms expert. There were others but she didn't want to hear it.
“But you still make things up!”
I agreed. She bought a copy of Devious and moved on.
Research is important to my work. It’s part of weaving an intriguing, believable story. I want details that will be accurate for everything I’m writing. Sometimes I can get that information on the internet. Or I may know someone who knows someone and that leads to expert information. Many people like to share the details from their careers or hobbies.
But in the end, we do make things up. How the characters interact, how the conflicts are resolved, what happens next to the main characters and the secondary ones, are all a result of the authors imagination.
That’s why they call it fiction.
Work In Progress:
In addition to work on the next book, I contributed to a new promo system called Shepherd. This one’s a little different. Authors are encouraged to list five books that they enjoyed that could have influenced their work.
Since I write the two different series, I put together favorites for cozy mysteries (that would be similar to the Jamie Richmond books) and one for contemporary mysteries.
Here are the links so you can check them out.
My efforts on the crime novel slowed, but the story continues to evolve. I’ve added some new scenes, fleshed out a couple more characters and added a twist here, a twist there. Progress. Slow steps but now that football season is officially over, I may be able to spend more time with Leo and the other players. Fortunately, Leo is much more patient than Jamie.
Nothing specific on a title yet, but that doesn’t worry me. Inspiration is liable to hit me like a lightning bolt from Zeus. When it does, I’ll be ready.
Virtual Book Festival:
This event has got to be one of the funniest things I’ve ever been a part of. On any given night 20 or more authors appear on the Zoom screen. Usually two of them will read short scenes from one of their books. Later in the show, autographed copies of those books will be awarded to prize winners. After the readings, we all dive in to the ‘investigation’. It’s shifted now to a murder mystery.
The interactions with the suspects and the sleuths is hilarious. There has been so much laughter in these interrogations that it’s impossible to keep a straight face. Diana, the ringleader/moderator has almost fallen from her chair at the shenanigans. You can also watch the recordings from previous sessions on YouTube by clicking on the links for each day’s featured authors.
The craziness will continue until February 27th. The last day of the month will be a wrap up, revealing the final part of the whodunit and awarding the grand prizes and other goodies. So even if you can only pop in occasionally, it’s definitely a fun time.
Click on the link to register and learn more about the ‘case’.
A few months back, I connected with Chloe Holiday. We both have novels published with Wild Rose Press. Chloe has also been featured on the Indie Reads Aloud program and she’s currently one of the ‘suspects’ in the virtual book festival mentioned above.
It was a golden opportunity to get to know more about her.
Tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I spent years in a crazy busy profession, and suddenly retired because of a family member’s illness. This entailed a move to another state, and with the real estate market at the time, I was apart from my spouse while he readied the house for sale. I developed a terrible case of insomnia from worry and separation at the same time I’d suddenly gone from no time at all to lots of unscheduled hours.
I read ravenously, indulging in a beloved pastime that had been “back-burner” for way too long, and to distract myself from family concerns. Some of the stories were wonderful, but some…weren’t. The more I read, I thought, “Maybe I could do this.” That’s how my first novel came about, fueled by a sleep-deprived mind.
Do you ever imagine of your novels being made into a movie or television series?
I suspect most people do, in their manic moments. I’m no different, but mine would take a high budget, with the flying and underwater scenes, and foreign locations.
Any favorite actors you’d cast in the lead roles?
No, though of course, there are many I love. It’s because by the time anything is ever made into a movie, the “it” actors are decades older.
What is your writing process? For instance, do you do an outline first? Do you write the chapters in sequence?
My first novel came from a desire to write a STEM heroine in an action story, and because of a misdelivered postcard for a scientific conference in Boston. That one just sort of bubbled out—but it was two novels shoved together, not one. The experience taught me that some sort of a plan is best, so now I do a rough, skeletal outline before I jump to the fun part—writing. As I go along, more ideas come to me, so I go back and add in details and hints to previous chapters. I generally go in order, but there are times I’m on fire to write a certain pivotal scene, and for those I jump ahead to “get it out of my system" and revisit them later.
Tell us a little bit about the characters in your latest book.
Desire in Deutschland is about a young military policeman, newly stationed in Germany, and a Kaiserslautern girl who runs across him after a soccer game. It’s a spicy insta-lust, crossed-wires, culture shock story, and was lots of fun for me to write, since we were stationed in Germany for three years. I never did THAT in a castle ruin, though!
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
The heroes and heroines are usually first, as a “what if” idea--what if the hearing loss a woman struggles with every day is an asset during an underwater excavation? What if a commander’s apparent dislike for the hero hid something much more nefarious? Many of the side characters develop more as I write—my goal is to make them fun and memorable, too. I incorporate past experiences for that touch of authenticity, so many of my characters are military, medical, pilots, etc.
Sometimes, it’s all at once. For my first published novel, Helios, I was stuck on what to write, so I drew tropes and character types out of a bowl, which got me Rich Foreign Alpha Male, Repressed Young Woman, Workplace/Travel Romance. For the All-American Boy series, each story had to have “Boy” in the title—but at first, it seemed like all the good ones were taken! I wracked my brain, and came up with A Boy & his Dog (about an ex-military bomb tech trying to reunite with his former K-9 partner) and Fly Boy (about a crop duster and a woman reluctantly teaming up to saver her family orchard).
What Is You Latest Book About:
One smoldering look from the sexy American draws Birgitte across the cultural divide into passion she never dreamed of...
Never again. University student Birgitte Schumacher swore off men, after an American GI seduced her, then left Germany for good. But when she runs into a sexy military policeman on the streets of Kaiserslautern, he just might be her ruin.
Just one beer was Lee Klein's plan. Yet when he sees the woman outside the pub, she’s all he wants. Birgitte’s irresistible pull leads him into a steamy rendezvous. He hopes for more until a conflict of interest ignites a culture clash of simmering attraction versus duty.
Can you share an excerpt too?
Sure! Here, Birgitte is taking Lee on a tour of the local castle ruins:
What Lee needed was more time around this woman, with her sexy accent and cheerfulness. “I’m glad you were available. I was tempted to just stay in today.”
Birgitte laughed, a warm chuckle. “Sometimes you have to ignore your innerer schweinehund and make yourself do something.”
Lee frowned, picking apart the words. “My inner… pig dog?”
“Yes, your inner pig dog. You don’t say this? It’s the thing that makes you want what you want, even if it’s a bad idea.”
Lee laughed. “I’ll remember that one. German is more fun than I thought, with all those words strung together.” He watched the road curves ahead, instead of staring at her legs the way his pig dog wanted.
Lee smiled. My innerer schweinehund is strong. Very strong.
What’s the next project you’ll be working on?
I generally juggle two or three at once—one first draft, one in revision, and sometimes a final polish on yet another. Right now I’m working on revisions for No Easy Match, a story about a transplant surgeon recruited to start a program in the Caribbean, and a first draft for a story about a pool shark and a college woman.
Include buy links, cover art and a picture of you. Please attach the photos in jpeg to the email.
You can find more about Chloe and hers books on the following links.
Universal book link (it’s wide!): UBL: https://storyoriginapp.com/universalbooklinks/747fa55e-5ed8-11ed-80c2-3f4c5b771926
Check it out on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/63163565-desire-in-deutschland
It’s available in audio, too!
AUDIO: Universal link: https://storyoriginapp.com/universalaudiobooklinks/417a5f70-7cc7-11ed-a724-ef92dfdad290
Direct from the author via Gumroad & BookFunnel: https://chloeholidaywriter.gumroad.com/l/ojzqg
Libro FM https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9781952775178
Variety is the spice of life. That’s especially true when it comes to music. I’m constantly rediscovering talented artists from the past who pop up on Spotify, Pandora or YouTube.
Anita Baker is the latest example. This songstress has ties to Detroit, where she was known for her soulful ballads. During the height of her career, she captured 8 Grammy Awards and had 4 platinum albums. With a three octave vocal range, Baker has always wowed her audiences. After taking a break to raise her family and enjoying a brief retirement, Baker has undergone a comeback. She is also touring across the country this year.
Here’s my top five favorites.
Caught Up in the Rapture: https://youtu.be/Oz-b86LZ21c
Sweet Love: https://youtu.be/2w6udgiojlE
Same Ole Love: https://youtu.be/e1aSkJ7HNxA
Giving You the Best: https://youtu.be/8lbJgOJIS_8
Body and Soul: https://youtu.be/7IwIUYSE5Tg