Writer Wednesday – Lola Grace Stevens

1. Who are you? Lola Grace Stevens 
2. What type of stuff do you write? Historical Western Romance
3. What do you want to pimp right now? ‘The Redemption-Bren’s Story’, released on December 23, but I’d love to have my upcoming book mentioned ‘The Debt-Gavin’s Story
4. What is your favorite book? Harry Potter series, Anne of Green Gables series, Bridgerton Series- I’m a series junkie LOL
5. What other hats do you wear besides the writer hat? Wife and mother, also homeschool teacher for now.
6. What link can we find you at? Website- Home lolagracestevens.com & FB- Author Lola Grace Stevens
Salvation
I learned how to read before I was even three years old. It was my way to escape from the world I was living in, which was filled with abuse and terror. Books were what saved me. I read a lot of books through the years, but one day I found a book that the library was throwing out. The cover was half-torn and the pages were yellow. It was crazy, because the book didn’t seem like it was that old. I decided to take it home.
My foster mother was furious, see as a foster child I wasn’t supposed to own my own books. At least the home I was in at the time. I was about eight years old. Anyway, this book was called ‘The Lottery Rose’ by Irene Hunt. It was the first book where I felt like I was reading about me in the beginning and then… I just saw this kids life change. It made me wonder if I could change my life too.
Could I overcome growing up in foster care? Could I overcome the abuse I had suffered, and find my own happy ending? Was it possible anyone could love someone who was as damaged as I was?
Those were questions I asked myself constantly as I grew older. My favorite brother died when I was 10 and I read this book again. I cried as I read about Georgie leaving his beloved rosebush at Robin’s grave, and I knew I was going to be all right. Maybe not that day, but eventually.
I made it through hell, and I came out on the other side stronger than I could have imagined. I have a wonderful husband, and three beautiful children. Books saved me life, but this book was different. In some ways I feel like it healed my soul.
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Writer Wednesday – Herika R. Raymer

1. Who are you? (A name would be good here…preferably the one you write under)
Herika R Raymer reporting!

2. What type of stuff do you write? (Besides shopping lists)
Right now writing short stories and working on my first novel and novella.

3. What do you want to pimp right now? (May it be your newest, your work-in-progress, your favorite or even your first)
Have some short stories in several anthologies, the newest being:
Children of Ghennharra in Luna’s Children – Full Moon Mayhem
Piasa Remains in State of Horror – Illinois

4. What is your favorite book? (Okay, or two or three or… I know how writers are as readers.)
Traveler in Black by John Brunner
E Pluribus Unicorn by Theodore Sturgeon

5. What other hats do you wear besides the writer hat?
Mother – this means keeper of schedules (bedtime everyone!), forager of foods (preferably sweets), driver to fun places (grandparents the most popular), tolerant of whines, healer of boo boos, maid, breakfast short order cook, and censor of movies.
Also wife (hehehe)

6. What link can we find you at? (One or two please; don’t go overboard here!)
Website – http://herikarraymer.webs.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Herika-R-Raymer-WriterEditor/218450834882572?fref=ts

 

 

 

*****

How To Take Critique

The hardest writing lesson I had to learn was how to take critique. I would ask for it, listen, and then hide the piece of work before anyone else had a chance to rip it apart. I really had to learn that if I was to get better at writing, then I needed a thicker skin. Yes, all my stories are my darlings, but if I want them to be the best I can make them I have to learn to listen when someone is offering critique – especially if it is from an author I respect. It took years, but I finally learned and I like to think my writing improves with every story because of this.

 

imaginarium

Writer Wednesday – Tammy-Jo Eckhart

Who are you? (A name would be good here…preferably the one you write under)
TammyJo Eckhart

What type of stuff do you write? (Besides shopping lists)
Science fiction, fantasy, horror, contemporary, and historical fiction, often classified as erotica since I don’t “pull my punches” and believe that sexuality is a natural part of life.

What do you want to pimp right now?
Book 3 of the “Beyond the Softness of His Fur Trilogy” has just been released by my publisher, Circlet Press.
Also my non-fiction and award nominated book, “At Her Feet” has continues to be widely read and apparently empowering as we hoped it would be.

What is your favorite book? (Okay, or two or three or… I know how writers are as readers.)
I always go back to “The Silver Metal Lover” by Tanith Lee because it really touched what was happening in my own life when I was finishing high school and starting college.

What other hats do you wear besides the writer hat?
I’m a wife, a partner, I storyteller/game master for RPGs, I’m an educator and arts community volunteer, but most of all I’m a survivor of several things.

What link can we find you at?
My main website (find it here!) is the best since it links to my books and gives some other information about me.

*****

The Danger of Fans and Lack of Privacy for Writers

We often think of writers as being little celebrities but I’ve learned over the two decades I’ve been published that this comes and goes in cycles and that all attention is not good or desirable attention. Let me explain a bit more.

After my first book, “Punishment for the Crime,” a collection of short stories, came out with Rhinoceros, an imprint from Masquerade Books, back in 1996 I started to get emails and letters from readers, even the occasional flowers when they ran into me at events. This wasn’t an everyday experience but living in NYC at the time where I was doing readings to crowds or meeting folks through my publisher who was right in the same city it happened far more frequently than after I moved back toward the Midwest. It always felt good to be recognized but sometimes it also felt a bit creepy.

Most readers were sweet. They’d want to shake my hand or simply tell me that they liked my book. If I were selling books or at a bookstore for a reading they’d want an autograph. Meeting people face-to-face at scheduled events was expected and cool. Not all encounters with my readers were at these sorts of events.

This was still in the early days of the Internet and it took work for someone to find me or find out about me. Yet within a year of the first book with Masquerade coming out I started to get emails from strangers. I didn’t broadcast myself around at that time — the concept of networking on social media wasn’t a thing writers were supposed to do. And yet because I happened to various community bulletin boards or email lists, my email was out there. Once my email was found by one person, it was found by several and for the second and third year my first and second books were out, I got an email a week.

I’d like to say that most of the emails were cool and sweet like most of the face-to-face meetings but I can’t say that and be honest. Honesty is a big deal to me. No, instead the majority of the emails I got were a bit creepy. They hoped I was as mean as a character in the title story or that I was as hot and sexy as another one. They wanted me to crush them with my boots or they’d ask about my sex life. I just deleted the creepy ones. Problem solved right?

For the most part, yes.

My third book came out with a different publisher as Masquerade struggled with some internal issues and I moved back toward the Midwest. Every now and again I’d get another email and a few times some gift might arrive in the mail… a bit creepy how they found out where I lived but most often it was through this new Amazon.com thing which wasn’t supposed to tell anyone I didn’t allow what my address was.

Then the creepiest fan contact happened. Someone called me. It sounded like either a very butch woman or a transguy by voice but I frankly didn’t ask because I didn’t care. What started off as “I really liked X” story turned quickly into questions about kink looking for advice which deteriorated into sex talk and attempts to ask me about my sex life. I told the caller time and again to stop calling and finally had to threaten to call the police. These calls lasted over three years.

Now I’m sure that more popular authors out there have even creepier experiences but I’ve never forgotten my own experiences. This hasn’t stopped me from joining social media, my agent and all of my author friends claim it is a must, but I had to learn that even just being published puts you out there, it takes away some of your privacy. You have to learn how to deal with it or decide to never publish at all. After all you can’t control who is reading you any more than you can control how many people are reading you.

My lesson learned then is that if you want to be read you must give up some of your privacy. Not all of it but once that book is out there in public view you’ll have to fight to protect yourself and your family because you can never tell who is reading and how they might react. Never be afraid to put out your work but be realistic about what you are also risking.

Writer Wednesday – Rita Webb

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Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
Rita Webb, author of PLAYING HOOKY (the first book in the Paranormal Investigation series) and DAUGHTER OF THE GODDESS

Tell us (briefly) about you…
Wife to the sweetest man, mom of 3 extraordinary girls, adventurer, dancer, crazy lady.
I’m not a vampire (even if I am pale and allergic to the sun) or a werewolf (though I am married to one) or a faerie. I’m just a woman with an overactive imagination.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
Loads of shorts stories (published in various anthologies), several unpublished novels, TEARS (my first novel, no longer in print), and the following novellas (currently available:

PLAYING HOOKY (Paranormal Investigations #1)
DAUGHTER OF THE GODDESS

…and what you’re working on right now.
My husband TJ and I are now writing together. We’re working on the sequels to PLAYING HOOKY:
BREAKING ANGELINA (Paranormal Investigations #1.5)
TAKING CHANCES (Paranormal Investigations #2)

What are your earliest book-related memories?
Visiting the library with my mom and picking out books:
The Lion and the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

I loved them both and was forever addicted. Strange how both are on banned book lists, and I’m impressed that my very religious mother actually recommended them to me.

What are your three favorite books?
I hate this question. I have hundreds of favorites, different ones in each genre, plus my childhood favorites. Really my favorite book might be whatever I just finished reading.

But if I have to narrow it down, this is my list:
The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews
The Mercedes Thompson series by Patricia Briggs
Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

OK, I cheated. I named 3 series instead of individual books, but if you think of them as never-ending books that are just so long, they had to be separated into smaller editions…

How many books to do you read at any given time?
Sometimes I have two or three books that I’m reading. One will be an audiobook, one will be a paperback, and another might be a book I’m reading with the kids or maybe another paperback.

What are you reading now?
I’m reading MAGIC RISES by Ilona Andrews!!! I’ve been waiting sooooo long for this book.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
…forget the rest of the world exists.

To re-read or not to re-read, that is the question.
Definitely love to re-read good books! I’m on my 5th read of the Kate Daniels series, and I’m sure I’ll read it again next year in preparation for the next release.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Very likely! Especially if the recommendation comes from someone I trust…

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
All the time! First off, I love promoting other authors. Second, I love books. I became a writer because I love to read.

What do you look for in a good book?
Lovable characters and good dialogue. Plots are important to keep the intensity of a book, but it’s not the plot I remember, it’s the people.

I discovered this when re-reading some of my favorites. The plot was a rediscovery as I couldn’t remember what was going to happen, who the bad guy was and why, but the scenes that burned into my mind were the ones related to the interactions between my favorite characters.

Why do you write?
Because I have to or I’ll burst into flames. Once I started on the road to writing, I couldn’t stop. I’ve tried. Many times.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
Dancer, artist, musician… Writing has made me fall in love with the arts. I probably wouldn’t be any good at it, but I still have a day job. However, my day job is not ME.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My family, my friends, movies, books, art, music, a hike in the park. Writing, like all artistic endeavors, is best when it comes from the soul, and therefore, you must always keep your soul brimming with life.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
That I’m a dreamer. That I have determination. That I fight for my dreams and never give up. That I am officially insane.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
My husband TJ has supported me, believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself, and helped me every step of the way. Now I’ve finally convinced him to write with me. We can live in insanity together.

My oldest daughter writes stories and creates characters now too, and she and I are writing picture books together. My other girls love to read what I write (when it is not too adult for them), and so I’m (slowly) working on a few Middle Grade books.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
The stereotype of the absent-minded writer is absolutely… Oh, did you say something? I just had this epiphany about a character.

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
The learning curve is steep. First, you have to learn all the techniques of writing (like how to craft interesting dialogue, how to pick strong verbs, how to show and not tell, how to intersperse description without bogging down the story), and then grammar is a whole other monster to tackle.

Then you have to learn how to lead a reader through a story. You have loads of threads to keep track of and characters that must be flushed out if you don’t want cardboard people walking like zombies through your stories.

Then you have to learn how to market those stories, whether to an agent, publisher, or directly to the reader. And if you decide to self-publish, you’ll have to learn about how to run a business.

Thankfully, in our day and age, there’s loads of information and resources to make things happen…if you have the determination to learn.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
All the time! But that’s how we learn, by making mistakes, falling down, and getting back up. Your understanding is more complete when you know what fails.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
No, I have projects and ideas coming out my ears. I’ve scheduled my writing time for the next 3 or 4 years, and then I have another series I can’t wait to get started on.

How do you deal with your fan base?
I always try to answer emails and be available for conversation. You can often find me on Facebook.

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
How shy I am. Sooooo glad I can do this interview by typing on my computer. 😛

And yet this year, I performed a monologue in front of 300+ people and danced 3 performances (hip hop, lyrical jazz, and musical theater) in front of 500+ people. I try my hardest to ignore my shyness.

Anything else we should know?
If you come across an Elvin wizard, don’t drink anything he gives you.

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Because this post was a wee bit late, I present you with a bit of bonus material – the first chapter of Rita’s novel!

 

 

EXCERPT FROM PLAYING HOOKY


 

Chapter 1

~ EMMA ~

 

THE ALARM CLOCK hammers ice picks into my brain. My freshman year of college, I swore I’d never do another eight o’clock class, but here it is my junior year and I am torturing myself with English Lit after staying up until three in the morning to finish a paper.

I try to peel my eyes open, but they’re glued shut. I rub them and squint at the clock, trying to read the red numbers swimming in circles, but nothing makes sense.

Letting my eyes drift shut, groping for the right button with my hands, I punch snooze and roll over.

It’s Thursday. Valentine’s Day.

My twenty-first birthday.

And all I want is the pounding headache to go away.

It seems like no time at all before the alarm goes off again.

“Emma, either get up or turn it off.” My roommate Maggie—but we all call her Magpie—kicks the thin wall separating our rooms.

With a groan, I turn off the alarm, roll out of bed, and pad into our kitchen, still in my cotton panties and T-shirt. Sleepwalking, I fill the coffee pot with water, scoop one tablespoon of coffee grinds into the filter—no, two, because Mr. Linden likes to drone on about eighteenth-century poetry—and hit the start button.

Coffee. Breakfast of champions. And sleep-deprived college students.

A knock on our apartment door, and my sister trills a happy, “Good Morning, Emma,” and begins to sing me Happy Birthday, along with several embarrassing verses we wrote when she was five and I was seven. It includes something about monkeys slipping on banana peels.

“Someone shoot her.” Magpie grumbles from her doorway and slams her door shut.

Still in my skimpy sleep-clothes, I open the door to find my sister—long, blonde hair curled to perfection, not a strand out of place, red hair band matching her flouncy short skirt and the red hearts on her too-cute-for-words tights. Glimmering strands of silver lace peek through her pink sweater. As always, Angelina’s the image of vomit-inducing school-girl perfection.

And standing behind her—

Jason.

My best friend from childhood. The boy—er, man—who should be ten hours away in Kodiak, Alaska, rather than here in Anchorage.

The man staring at my naked legs.

And I’m standing here in my panties and baby-doll T, which clearly shows I’m not wearing a bra, especially as Alaska is cold in February and the door gapes wide open.

I cross my arms over my chest to hide my breasts and duck my bottom half behind the door. “Jason, what are you doing here?”

“To take you out for the day. It’s your twenty-first birthday. Did you think I’d let you celebrate without me?” He grins and slips into the room before I can stop him. His eyes travel up my bare legs (thank goodness I shaved last night) with the ugly wool knee-high socks, the black T with the pink Batman symbol, and ending with my short, blonde hair, sticking up in all directions on one side, matted on the other.

I glance out the door. A few girls, gawking at the man who is too handsome for his own good, stand out on the landing and whisper. I grab Angelina’s hand and drag her inside and slam the door.

“What about what’s-her-name? Sarah? Sally? Mandy? Whoever your latest thrall is. She really let you come out and play? I thought she’d have your Valentine’s Day booked.”

“I broke up with her right after Christmas.” He shrugs.

For the first time in about ten years, neither of us has a significant other. Once upon a time, when I was twelve, I decided Jason was the one for me, and I set about trying to get him to kiss me. He was clueless, and I settled for Mark Jameson, a boy down the road. Three years later, Mark moved to Ohio somewhere. Or was it Idaho? And I never heard from him again.

By then, Jason had a girlfriend, and though he never took her fishing with him or mountain biking (my role in his life), they went to homecoming together and then to the prom. And I went out with Troy Simmons up until the middle of our first year of college when I caught him in another girl’s dorm room where he’d sacked out for a week.

Troy was so pissed about the breakup—because I should just forgive and forget the cheating, since it was my fault because I refused to sleep with him—that he spread rumors about our supposed sexual escapades.

Whenever I tried to date since then, the guys I went out with only wanted me to put out, so I’ve been single ever since. Whenever I consider dating him now, I remind myself of all the ways we are incompatible. We would fight over everything as we’re both too stubborn for our own good.

Angelina tucks her hand through his arm and smiles up at him. “Isn’t he sweet? You have the best friends.”

Not even a note of jealousy in her voice, even though she’s had a crush on him ever since third grade when he put a band-aid on her skinned knee.

My sister Angelina is too perfect. Straight-A honor student. Mother’s sweetie pie. Father’s angel. Never snuck out of the house to go partying. Always kept her curfew. Never broke her leg jumping out of trees while trying to chase squirrels or ramping bikes on the homemade ramps. Always prissy and clean. Never leaves anything out of place.

Always the perfect lady in her cute little outfits.

I can’t hate her for it because she doesn’t even act superior about it. She’s never been the goody-goody. Never lectures me on my messy room, sloppy hair, torn jeans, or skipping classes.

Jason grins. “I’d never miss your birthday. Remember last year?”

“Ugh! I thought I’d never thaw out after we went skiing in a blizzard. We were stranded for three days in that cabin we found in the woods.”

“Aw, come on, you didn’t even get frostbite. I took care of you.”

“At least I didn’t end up with any broken limbs. That time.”

“I still can’t believe we went snow-boarding on East Pillar Mountain Loop. That’s a tough trail, and then you broke your arm slipping in the parking lot on the way to the truck.”

My muscles were exhausted, and carrying my board on my shoulder, I wasn’t watching where I was going. I didn’t see the patch of ice. “Remember when you took me spelunking?”

“I had no idea that bear was in there.”

“I can’t remember ever being that scared.”

“But it was fun! Come on. We can’t break tradition.”

“What are you planning this time?” Angelina smiles up at him with a glimmer of wistful longing.

“It’s a secret.” He extricates her hand from his arm and takes a step away from her, and her hand falls back to her side.

For a moment, her smile falters, but then she bounces from the room. “See you! Tell me all about it later. Emma, I’ll tell your professors and coach that you are sick today, and I’ll collect your notes and assignments.”

“Thanks, Angelina. You’re a sweetie.”

She gives me her smile, cheeks dimpling in the cute china-doll way she has, and blows us kisses. Sometimes I wish she could be a real human being for once—throw a royal temper tantrum, break a rule, or actually make a mess—but either she keeps all negativity bundled up deep inside or she really is incapable of baser emotions.

I’m left alone in the apartment’s tiny entryway with Jason.

“Emma,” he says, stepping closer, his head leaning down toward me. He is way too close, and I remember I’m not dressed.

Tall with wide shoulders, Jason is muscular from hard labor (construction and welding) and athletic adventures (kayaking and mountain biking). The perpetual scruff movie stars work hard to perfect shadows his jaw, and his tousled black hair kept short. He cuts it every week because it grows too fast, like at least a half inch a day. With the smoky blue eyes and the confident grin he usually wears, he’d make any girl swoon.

Well, any girl but me. I’d more likely hit him upside the head with a broom than swoon over him.

“Coffee’s in the kitchen. I need to get dressed and showered; then we can go for pastries at the bakery around the corner.” Just off campus, there’s a scrumptious little shop, but I never have time in the mornings. I turn back to my room but then stop. “Oh, how do I need to dress for the day?”

“Sure.” He runs his hands through his hair, but his eyes are too busy following my ass to pay attention to anything I said.

“Jason.” I snap my fingers. “Up here. What do I need to wear?”

His gaze shifts to my face, and he grins, not even having the decency to flush. “Dress warm.”

Good. So we’re going to have an adventure.

Writer Wednesday – Jessica O’Gorek

gemini rising

Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
Jessica O’Gorek

Tell us (briefly) about you…
I’m a mother, wife, author, full time sales person burning my candle at both ends. I dream therefor I will.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
A series of young adult paranormal romance books that focus on Mother Earth, what we have done to her and how she might retaliate in the future.

…and what you’re working on right now.
Book 4 of my series.

What are your earliest book-related memories?
When I was twelve I was writing 2000 page romance novels in spiral notebooks.

What are your three favorite books?
Twilight, Eclipse and Braking Dawn

How many books to do you read at any given time?
I can only read one at a time.

What are you reading now?
Beautiful Chaos

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
snack habitually.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
Not

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Eh, not very likely.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
Very likely.

What do you look for in a good book?
Suspense, deep strong characters and very real environments.

Why do you write?
It’s fun. I love my characters and I miss them if I don’t let them play in the pages. It keeps me alive inside when the world around me is too painful.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
An actress

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
The mystery of life, nature in the spring time and my beloved father

What has writing taught you about yourself?
That I am stubborn, smart and must addicted to creating

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
They have their fingers crossed for me but I don’t think they think I will make it and that makes me strive even harder!

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
Agents who don’t even bother reading submissions and the big publishers who won’t even consider your manuscript without an agent.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
I am not good with commas, semi colons or the word “and.” Bless my editor!

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
Making a 6th Twilight movie.

How do you deal with your fan base?
Well, when I have a fan base I will adore them!

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