Essays

Author Feature: Maggie Tideswell, Paranormal Romance Author

Mom

Please welcome Maggie Tideswell, paranormal romance author, to Dropped Pebbles! Today she stops by to share on a subject that’s close to her heart, a piece she entitled… 

I love the paranormal romance genre! 

Let’s face it, love really is all around us and it is love, not money, that makes the world go round. Even when you read a murder mystery or a horror novel, there are romantic elements in it, because people fall in love all over the place and in any kind of a setting. People find each other in the most unexpected or dangerous situations. It is human nature.

People want to be scared. Fear gets the primitive fight or flight response going. And that is where the paranormal comes in. When I say paranormal, I don’t mean zombies and vampires. Creatures with tentacles and many teeth also don’t interest me. Those are not scary and only have entertainment value as far as I am concerned. Don’t get me wrong, I am not putting authors of those genres down, all I’m saying is that those elements are not what I write about. I am interested in what isn’t visible to the eye, things that go bump in the night, ‘nothing is as it seems’, and witches getting up to mischief or doing genuine work to help. And ghosts, of course.What fascinates me about romance is firstly what characteristics attract people to each other enough to fall in love and secondly, what traits keep them in love for a lifetime when one in three relationships fail. This is the mechanics behind relationships, a throw-back from studying psychology at university.

We all have those creepy little experiences of something moving just at the edge of your vision and when you turn to look, there is nothing there. Or the sound we hear for which there are no logical explanations. And who of us haven’t known what was going to happen next or what somebody was going to say, before it actually happened? This is what is termed déja-vu.

paranormal

People are not always what they seem. It is a known fact that people represent themselves in the best light and what they show to the world is only the tip of the iceberg of their personality. I like to say people wear ‘masks’ to hide their true selves from others, for reasons of their own.

But my biggest interest is ghosts and why some people seem to get stuck on the earthbound plane after death. I even joined a paranormal investigation group, but I am yet to come face to face with a ghost I could have a conversation with. I have been told I look too hard and that was why I am unlikely to see a ghost, but I do experience them. On one occasion I had fallen asleep on the couch and I startled awake with the distinct feeling that somebody was leaning over me. There was nobody there, but the room had been freezing. It was the middle of summer.

Romance in combination with the paranormal is what I write. Instead of placing my characters in mortal danger of burning buildings, an erratic gunman or in the path of a tidal wave, I scare them with what they cannot see.

Cover - CoupleThe first book in my new series about bridesmaids, weddings and honeymoons was published on 1 July 2015. In The Run-Away Couple, it is more Piper’s perception of Marcus that was a bit skewed. To her he was a nuisance because that was how she got to know him growing up. When she thought of Marcus at all, it was to anticipate his next humiliating prank. And now Piper’s sister appointed her and Marcus to be maid-of-honor and best-man at her wedding. Disaster, for Piper at least. And of course there are things happening that scared the whatnot out of Piper. Would it be better for her to keep Marcus with her and risk another prank, rather than being alone?

Want to know more about Maggie Tideswell and her books? Have a look here:

http://maggietideswell.blogspot.com/

https://twitter.com/LunaMags

Misc, Stories

Nor’easter by Dyane Forde

It’s here! My story, Nor’easter, short-listed for the Storgy writing contest is published!

NOR’EASTER

by

Dyane Forde

typewriter love

North

“Wake up.”

I opened my eyes against the morning glare but immediately shrunk back from a headache. White and black stars pulsed before my eyes; those two words, “Wake up”, a hammer pulverising the side of my face. Wind blew in from the open window, admitting a mean downdraft which pressed me into the bed. I knew, from the smell of rot trailing in on the draft, how this scene was going to end: a storm was coming, and that storm was me.

The voice. It was Dale’s. Uncle Dale, my blood. My savior. I shook my head to let the information slide into place, but my brain rebelled. It crackled with pain, interference. Tenderly, I put a hand to my forehead, as if that would steady the tumult inside, and felt relief. My face, my skin, my head were whole. Only, I wasn’t. Skin…

View original post 4,270 more words

Author Interviews, Essays, Misc

Author Interview with Fantasy Writer Piper E. McDermot

Today, I am excited beyond words to introduce to you Piper E McDermot. We met a while ago through the reader-reviewer service known as Authonomy. Piper’s writing is truly some of the most beautiful, visual and sensory I’ve read in ages. But more than that, Piper is a beautiful and humble human being, and getting to know her made me appreciate her writing more. What follows is a reflection of a thoughtful, wonderful soul, fascinating in every way. I quite appreciated her smart and wise thoughts on writing as well. So pull up a seat, and settle in to meet this fabulous writer. 

Piper! I’m so glad you agreed to talk with us today. Can you tell us about yourself? 

Piper E. McDermot, fantasy writer
Piper E. McDermot, fantasy writer

Can I first say thank you for this opportunity, Dyane?  You were one of the first to ever read and crit some of my chapters, so it’s quite a thrill to be doing this with you! 

You’re welcome. And as noted above, reading your work was my pleasure. 🙂 

Righto, then  – me, me, me ….Gosh, it’s awkward, and yet the urge to jabber on is so powerful! 

Firstly, I’ve chosen to write under the pen name Piper E McDermot in honour of my Irish gran and mum – they are my good-luck charms. 

I live in a small seaside village about 50km from Cape Town in South Africa – the physical environment alone is great inspiration, with epic mountains encircling the area, and the ocean just down the road.  A husband, a daughter, a son, and two mentally disturbed border collies making up the family menagerie. There used to be several cats, a rat and a seal as well, but they have moved on.  We miss them all! 

Um…did you say a…seal??? 

My motto for many years has been that when I am really old, like reeeally ancient, and sitting in my rocking chair on a porch somewhere, I want to look back on life and think that I had a grand old time of it. 

I have both a great desire for adventure, and a healthy dose of fear.  I think I’ve managed to combine the two nicely by doing things that terrify me, surviving them, and then living for ages off the high that gives me. 

Although my formal studies at University were English, Archaeology, and Psychology, I am a firm believer in self-education.  If you can read and you have curiosity, you can learn as much as most formal courses of study can teach you. 

Wanderlust had me travelling a lot in my youth, but with age has come responsibilities and financial restrictions–but hubby plans to sell up and sail one day soon, and I’m all for it. I even have my yacht skipper’s ticket in preparation! 

I’ve never settled down to one ‘career’–I’ve done all sorts, from secretary to sales-rep, from Irish dance teacher to English teacher, and have even worked at the Cape Town Aquarium.  (That’s how I ended up with a seal in my dining room – but that’s another story.)

 No, no! I want to hear the seal story!!!

 More recently, I was a photographer– for 10 years, so I must have been doing something right! 

Right now, I wish I were heading to South Africa on a plane. You sound like the coolest person to meet. 🙂 

Are you interested in other forms of artistic expression besides writing? Where does writing fit in, and why are you drawn to it? What keeps you motivated/inspired? 

Absolutely!  In fact, writing is what I’d call the “laat lammetjie” (late lamb) of artistic expression for me.  I’ve always felt a bit odd about calling myself an artist, but over the years I’ve tinkered with all sorts–from drawing and painting to rustic jewellery making and constructing furniture.  That one was quit a riot–I used to make quirky items for craft markets, and would end up sawing, banging, and hammering until the wee hours of the morning to get things ready in time.  At the time I lived in a small block of apartments – needless to say, I wasn’t popular with the neighbors!  

For the last ten years I was a photographer–mostly slaving away in the weddings and social events scene, but it was a good time to be involved, as this kind of photography underwent a tremendous transformation from ‘recording’ events to true artistic expression.  It was great to be a part of that, and to have contributed in a small way. 

With writing–as with all the previous experiments–I think what drew me to it, and keeps me inspired, is the sheer thrill of creation, bringing something to life that simply wasn’t there before.  I’m sure there’s all kinds of things a shrink could make of that 🙂 

No, no, you’re perfectly normal! (says the other weirdo writer in the room, lol) 

What forms of writing and genres do you prefer and why? What can you never see yourself writing?

As a reader, I’ve always been a door-stop novel girl, through and through–if I like it, I want lots of it. Greedy, that’s me!  I can remember even as a kid wishing that books would be longer, and would end up re-reading them to keep the experience going.  It’s probably not a good thing–the door-stop issue has spilled over into my writing, so editing has become a massive task of cutting things down to a manageable length. Not that I don’t enjoy short stories occasionally–Roald Dahl’s are amongst my favourites.  

As for genre, fantasy in the style of Tolkien, Hobb, and Zimmer-Bradley are my staples, but historical fiction is another favourite.  As a young teen I devoured all of James Michener’s work–now those are real doorstops for you.  What I didn’t realise until recently is what a sci-fi geek I am–it’s only when I did one of those silly surveys on favourite books and films that I realised how much sci-fi I love. 

What could I never see myself writing…hmm…a book on good housekeeping!  Domestic duties are low on my priority list most of the time, but are rock bottom since I’ve been writing.  The family suffers through it with great tolerance…bless them. 

(Coughs) I know nothing about that last one at all. Nothing at all, do you hear me? 

I’ve read books which annoyed me to the point where I wanted to throw them across the room. As a reader, what do you think makes a good story? What’s one thing a ‘bad’ book taught you to not do in your own writing? 

This made me laugh!  I think the only book I’ve ever literally thrown across the room was Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code – sorry, Mr. Brown!  Not because of his writing style, or even the story, exactly.  As an adventure/conspiracy thriller, it certainly had the power to hook readers in–it hooked me.  What infuriated me was the way in which (in my opinion) he had piggy-backed on excellent and extensive research by dozens of serious investigators, and turned it all into a shallow, cheap thrill.  You see, one of my other life-long passions has been reading and researching ancient ‘mysteries’– it’s one of the reasons I studied Archaeology at University. Dan Brown’s book(s) certainly raised popular interest and awareness, but I feel they also managed to relegate the topic to the level of the lunatic fringe. That infuriates me!  It could just be all the subsequent hype around those books, but I was left with the sense that Mr. Brown did not truly respect the researchers or the material on which he based his books. 

Apologies–that was a rant, wasn’t it? 

Rants are accepted. I did ask the question, right? (Hides Mr. Brown’s books behind my back while moving on to the next topic…) 

If I had to take this specific example and figure out what it has taught me not to do, I guess I would say “Be extremely cautious. Be respectful.”  In my case, I’ve drawn much of my inspiration from various indigenous peoples’ mythology, including Celtic legends, so I’ve tried to respect and honour them without ‘rewriting’ them.  I wanted to be sure that I was clearly making my own world and story so that I don’t end up treading on anyone’s cultural toes.  I think that’s why I write in the fantasy genre – you have the freedom to use those influences, but also to make them your own. 

Very good point. 

As a writer, what elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses? 

I didn’t really answer your question about what makes a good story, so I’ll try to work out what I feel is crucial…erm…*steam emits from ears*…  Food?  I read LOTR 11 times during high school alone, and some of my favourite scenes were when the hobbits were eating, or making something to eat.  Could be a result of cross-identification–tough times in high school = comfort food!  

Seriously, though–at a details level, I feel the reading experience should be immersive, so that the reader can literally open the door in their mind and step into another world, with all the range of possible experiences at least given a passing nod during the tale. We want a fantasy to be just that–to take us elsewhere–but there has to be those elements of reality that allow us to hook into and care about the characters. 

Of course, the characters themselves are the keystones–I believe reading is largely role-playing. We don’t want our characters impossibly perfect, because we are not perfect. Even the character we are supposed to fall in love with needs his/her flaws, so that we can feel that perhaps, someday, somewhere, this person might really exist. At the same time, whatever their flaws may be, they have to be presented in a way that the reader can imagine themselves behaving like that, feeling like that, in whatever circumstances we throw at our characters. 

Equally important to me is sub-text–what is going on in the mind behind the characters’ dialogue, or in the plot behind the narrative.  In real life we seldom present ourselves–our motives, thoughts, and feelings–straight out and with 100% honesty.  There are things going on behind what we say and do whose influence may be recognisable, but are not stated.  I think it’s crucial that characters in the first place have this element to their make-up, and in the second place that we trust readers to recognise it when and where it shows up.  Sub-text applies equally to plot or the ‘stakes’ in a story–everything needn’t be spelled out repeatedly just in case the reader missed it the first time.  It’s a fine line to walk between mystery and confusion, but it’s important to try!  Sub-text adds layers of richness and complexity–and ultimately reader engagement–that makes for a more satisfying experience.

 I’m so glad you spoke about sub-text. I agree that it’s an essential but also difficult tool to use in one’s writing. 

Who/what are the biggest influences in your writing? How do they influence what your write?

Wow – the list could get quite long here!  Starting from when I read Elyne Mitchell’s Silver Brumby series as a 7yr old, works like Watership Down, T.H. White, Rosemary Sutcliffe, LOTR, Herbert’s Dune series, Jean M Auels’ Earth’s Children series, Marion Zimmer-Bradley and more recently Robin Hobb stand out–but pretty much most of the now classic, fantasy series authors. I guess as a chronic reader of series in this genre, I was bound to end up writing one!  

What appeals to me about a series is the scope to follow a character across lengthy periods of time–to experience and grow with them.  And of course, a series allows room for plenty of twist and turns in the plot. 

A couple of years ago I discovered Dianna Gabaldon’s historical time-travel series. She’s an incredibly talented writer, doing vast amounts of research that she slips seamlessly into the story, so that the reader is barely conscious of it. It’s always about the characters, and how they cope with what she throws at them via the plot. I especially admire the way in which she doesn’t shy away from the ranges of human emotion or behaviour–she plumbs the depths.  More prosaically, her female lead does in fact have everyday concerns like feminine hygiene and going to the loo in the 18th century! 

You have great taste. I’m so glad you mentioned Dune—it’s one of my all-time favorite books/series, and Auel’s series directly influenced the series I’m writing now. 

What draws you to your preferred genre? What do you think makes your genre unique? And why is it so popular? 

I was a strange child.  We used to live in the UK, and my favourite thing even as a 5 or 6yr old was to go and visit ancient ruins and castles–even old graveyards were fine in a pinch!  It was the air of mystery, the sense of the past still reaching out across time, and trying to imagine who those people were and what they were like, that enthralled me.  More than that though, it was an odd sense of ‘connection’.  I love what George Martin said about fantasy and historical fiction–that they are ‘sisters under the skin’.  That rings true to me.  I’m fascinated by the past, and epic or ‘high’ fantasy usually incorporates that sense of the bygone. 

I think that desire to connect to our past, to our roots, is what makes both historical and fantasy fiction popular.  Fantasy fiction is often poked fun at for its ‘tropes’–but I think those very tropes are what give it its appeal.  There are certain archetypes in all mythology that seem to resonate with us–well, most of us–as human beings, and I think that good fantasy usually manages to tap into that psychology. 

On the other hand, the label ‘fantasy’ does tend to put some readers off, as if fantasy were something for children or teens rather than adults.  For years I’ve been telling my parents how some of the best writing I’ve ever come across is in the fantasy genre. They never believed me until I managed to drag them off to see the first LOTR movie.  I still haven’t managed to convince them to read a fantasy book, but they are now avid fans of the Game of Thrones TV series.  *sigh* I will not give up! 

Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on? 

7th Gate bookcover-front-back-for-e-promos

The Seventh Gate is the first book in a projected series of four.  From a character perspective, it follows a relationship across the course of many years and explores how a romance grows into a more seasoned and mature love, and what it takes to keep that love alive in the face of circumstances delivered up by the plot.  In terms of the plot, I have always had a great fascination with the Arthurian saga–and particularly the mystery around its origins.  The Seventh Gate is–to a degree–based on indications that the Arthurian romance of the Middle Ages, and even the earlier Dark Ages oral tales, may well have had their roots in far older Celtic mythology, in the myths of the Celtic gods and the Invasion Cycles of Ireland. 

So … to put it in a Twitter catch-phrase, perhaps it’s “Ancient Celtic Aliens meets King Arthur in an epic, time-slip love story.”  I think I might hate that–I’ll let you know! 

Right now, the book is in its final round of editing, and The Summer Wife (book 2) is about to go through the same.  Then all my focus will be on finishing books 3 and 4.

I do have some other ideas on the back-burner–perhaps some short stories covering Elen’s journey to and early life with the Aniwaya (the people from whom my female MC, Nyani, comes), or some spin-off tales concerning the Aniwaya.  Beta-readers seem to have really enjoyed what little of these people is shown in the book, so it might be worth expanding on them.

Another completely separate project that’s brewing purely in my mind at the moment is one based here in Africa…

 I have to say, that of all the books I read on Authonomy, The Seventh Gate was one of the most beautiful. In my head, I can still remember the sound of the water as it slipped past the boat and the oars in the chapter I read. That was years ago and I still remember it to this day. Readers, this is a book you must have, once it’s available.  

Why is promoting/connecting with other writers important to you?

Writing is a lonely business–all that time spent inside your own head!  It’s important to me to connect with other writers not just for feedback, but for that emotional support and empathy–we get each other, no matter which genre we write in!

 Aside from that I believe in paying it forward, these days Indie authors need to really stand together and support one another.  The market is tough, crowded, and in a state of flux.  I really believe that working together will always have a better outcome than remaining isolated and purely competitive.  I think of it like this–I love Robin Hobb’s fantasy books, so if she were to recommend another fantasy author, I would probably buy that book.  Would I then not buy her books anymore?  Of course not!  Her support for someone else will not lose her my business–and I think that’s something we new, Indie authors need to remember.  Sharing the love doesn’t mean you will receive less of it yourself 🙂  Plus I think for many of us, our first readers come from within our author community–we can help each other up that first step towards regular, reader-only fans.

What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?

 Coffee addiction–getting up to put the kettle on every half hour is very distracting!  I think the hardest part for me has been switching into editing mode too soon.  I really wish I hadn’t discovered Authonomy and critiques until I had finished writing all the books in the series.  Switching back into full writing mode is tough at the moment–I need to find a way to turn off the internal editor and just write.

 I know all about that. Sigh…

 What advice would you give to new writers, especially those looking to break into your genre?

 If you haven’t read a lot of fantasy–go and do that first!  Chances are, though, that a writer is an avid reader, so I would say that when you start to write your story, keep going until it is finished.  Don’t read anyone else’s work while you are still busy writing–whether a published author or someone in a crit group.  It’s bound to either make you feel inadequate and insecure (published books) or maybe even worse, over-confident (crit groups).  Get your story down, then worry about measuring it against all else that’s out there. 

How can readers get into contact with you?

 I have a fledgling blog just started up – www.pipermcdermot.wordpress.com

Soon it will be the place for readers to go and discover everything about the characters and worlds of The Seventh Gate. For now, it’s a place to pop in and say hello, and perhaps enjoy some of the art, music, and mythology that have helped to inspire me.

 There’s a Facebook page too :  https://www.facebook.com/theseventhgatebook1

and I’m Google+ as Piper McDermot

 and finally, Twitter  https://twitter.com/PiperMcDermot (@PiperMcDermot)

Piper, you did great! I loved getting to know you and of your fascinating life–you really have to tell me the seal story later, lol. Readers, I hope you felt the same way I did about Piper and that you will look her up at her links or drop her a line in the Comments section below. 🙂

Thanks for reading! Have an excellent week!

 

 

 

Author Interviews, Essays, Guest Blog, Misc

Author Interview with Horror and Paranormal Romance Writer Su Halfwerk

Today’s guest author is another miracle find. Mutli-talented and brimming with experience, wisdom and common sense, it was a joy for me to interview Su Halfwerk. I know every one of you will be similarly touched by her humor, honesty and advice, so I invite you, dear Reader, to have a seat and and meet this wonderful woman…

Su Halfwerk 1

Dyane, thanks for the opportunity to visit your blog and meet your readers. As you might already know, I’m a big fan of your blog and a very dedicated follower.

Thanks, Su! It’s fantastic to have you here today. Can you start us off by telling us a little about yourself?

Sure. I’m a writer, artist, wife, and mother. Writing became my escape when my son was an infant and I became a super-sanitary-freak, which put painting with oil paint and turpentine out of the question.

Whether I’m writing or designing graphics, Ramona, my son’s cat and my literary sidekick, curls up in my lap. She thinks she inspires my creativity, I let her think so.

What other artistic interests do you have besides writing? Where does writing fit in, and why are you drawn to it? What keeps you motivated/inspired?

I like to paint and design book covers and book trailers. As with writing, they are about creating worlds with words, brushes, or mouse clicks. I found that my creative activities complement and support each other. They also inspire me to research more which in turn leads to new avenues to express myself in my writing and the graphic designs I create for authors.

What forms of writing and genres do you prefer and why? What can you never see yourself writing?

Short stories, novels, and novellas are my favourites. In writing, I focus on paranormal romance and horror, while in reading I add suspense and thrillers to the list of genres.

It’s difficult to pinpoint a genre as a No-No for me to write because I refuse to restrict creativity but I did find myself hesitant to intrude on my characters’ private and more intimate time together. Keeping this mind, I think erotica is the one genre I might never write. Nothing against it as a genre, but it might not be my cup of tea.

Then again, we never know! 🙂

AVENGER

I’ve read books which annoyed me to the point where I wanted to throw them across the room. As a reader, what do you think makes a good story? What’s one thing a ‘bad’ book taught you to not do in your own writing?

I know, right! I make it a point to finish any book I start reading but it’s a struggle sometimes. A good story is one that doesn’t jar with typos and errors, one that has intrigue and suspense, keeping the readers on their toes, guessing, questioning, and sometimes even hating the author for what he/she did to some characters. A good book stays with you for sometime, pondering sub-plots, remembering touching or funny scenes.

I learned a lot from reading bad books, so I’ll mention two lessons instead. I learned to never ignore the need for fresh eyes to go over my books, best option is a dependable and honest editor. The second lesson I picked up was to avoid what I call “character’s self-pity party.” It’s when a character spends a good portion of the book bemoaning his luck and questioning fate instead of taking action. Action moves the story forward while a plentiful self-searching usually becomes the sagging middle.

 As a writer, what elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Elements that revolve around the senses are essential to involve readers. If they don’t feel, smell, hear, and taste with the character, then they’re distanced from the story. They need to feel the afternoon sun warming the character’s skin, the way a mother inhales deeply the scent of her baby’s clean skin, and the voice of a loved one, be it in distress or happiness, can evoke all sorts of emotions in one’s heart.

Weaknesses? I suck at marketing and promoting myself *shakes head*

I guess being an introvert is a big part of it, but I DO love to use my time to create and not promote. Funny enough, I’m quite good at promoting others!!!

Another weakness is nitpicking. I know when a book is finished but I don’t know when to stop going over it since I like to give my editor a clean copy.

My strengths? I’m flexible. If something, say like a scene or an event in my life, isn’t going the way I expected, I pout but I look for other ways to overcome the obstacle.

I also have a tremendous hunger for learning. I learn from everything I watch or read and subsequently, use it.

SEEKER

Who/what are the biggest influences in your writing? How do they influence what you write?

My mood controls my writing. I tend to swing like a pendulum between dark fiction and romance to balance the darkness with light in me. Well, we all have that small devil within us, difference is, I embrace mine fully.

When I’m in a dark mood I write horror, otherwise it’s sweet paranormal romance.

What draws you to your preferred genre? What do you think makes your genre unique? And why is it so popular? (Or perhaps less popular than it could be?)

It’s difficult to choose between horror and paranormal romance since I read heavily in both. I’m drawn to their extreme contrasts…in the destruction of lives and the wooing of the heart.

Horror is unique because as a reader you get to experience that rush of adrenaline from the safety of your home, knowing and believing that it can’t touch you. (Think again.)

 Paranormal romance has the allure of mixing the dangerous with the protective, of taming the beasts known for bloodshed and carnage into romantic partners who would do anything to keep their loved ones safe.

Horror is popular within its own circle because it requires a strong heart. It’s an acquired taste really. Because of paranormal romance’s romantic elements it is very popular among adults and young adults. Romance is a winner wherever you go.

Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on?

HISTOPOSSESSThere’s the sweet love story between a ghost and a woman in His to Possess, then there are the spirit hunters who must find their destined ones while battling the possessed in the Unsettled trilogy. I’m currently working on book 3 titled, Beholder.

In horror, I have Intricate Entanglement which consists of 7 short stories (or 8, depending how you look at it) that take place in a mental hospital for the criminally insane. You get to hear/read first hand about what brought each there. Hellbound contains 3 stories that are either from, to, or in Hell. Zuphreen is about a demon that comes bearing gifts, except there are strings attached to that service.

IntricateEntanglement_300dpi_eBook

Currently, I’m outlining a book that will have short stories linked by an unnatural thread. 

Why is promoting other writers important to you?

Nowadays, literary survival is through connections and networking. Visiting each others’ blogs is one of the most effective tools to help a fellow writer/blogger while spreading your name and keeping it alive on the internet. It’s also the best way to meet new readers and for readers to discover new authors. 

What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?

Staying focused and finding the time to write. There are two types of distractions: Family and muse. With family, sometimes, saying you need writing time works. Forget that with the muse. He is stubborn (yeah, mine is male and he is gorgeous,) tenacious, and won’t let go until I listen. A new idea is great, but when it nags to take center stage, it can distract me from my current work in progress. If I give in, I’ll have loads of unfinished manuscripts. I deal with it by writing all I have about the new idea in a file and saving it in my IDEAS folder. This way I reduce the nagging (note: not eliminating. My muse is mighty) and at the same time I have basis for a new story.

Who are your favourite writers and why?

Stephen King in horror. He has a way with words, of gripping your attention until the last word. Sometimes the ending is not to my liking, sometimes it surpasses it, either way, the journey to reach that ending is worth it.

Gena Showalter in paranormal romance. She has an astonishing sense of humour and a solid vault of imagination that she dips in and paints the most rewarding romances I ever read. I love her heroes and heroines, they are strong and witty. 

What advice would you give to new writers, especially those looking to break into the horror or suspense genre?

My advice applies to all genres. Like all writers, you will go through moments of self-doubt. It’s cool but do it while WRITING not while sitting and mulling over it. And while at it, find out what caused that self-doubt. Is it the plot? The characters? Errors in continuity? Use that negativity, be it self-doubt or any other emotion, to push forward. You’ll be surprised at how many of your weakness can be turned to strengths with dedication.

Specifically for horror writers, beside the above, read in the genre; connect with other readers and writers on loops and groups to stay up-to-date. Horror’s share in the market might be less than romance but its fans are super devoted.

How can readers get into contact with you?

I haunt these places online:

Website: www.su-halfwerk.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Su.Halfwerk

Blog: www.suhalfwerk.blogspot.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SuHalfwerk

Please stop by and holler. One of my 14 personalities is bound to answer!  Dyane, thanks again for the fun interview.

You’re welcome, Su. I’m just glad you took the time to talk with us about your loves and interests and I just know the Readers each took something valuable away from the interview. Please, Readers, visit Su–or one of her other personalities. We wouldn’t want them to get bored now would we?

Have a great week, everyone! See you soon!

 


Author Interviews, Essays, Guest Blog, Misc

Author Interview with Romance Writer Michelle Abbott

Romance author Michelle Abott

Over the last few months, Dropped Pebbles has had the privilege of interviewing authors from various genres. Today we have the great pleasure of featuring Michelle Abbott, our first Romance author! Please take a few minutes to read more about Michelle and why she is so passionate about writing and her preferred genre, Romance.

It’s so great to have you with us today, Michelle. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I live in the countryside in the UK. I’m mum to two adult boys.

Are you interested in other forms of artistic expression besides writing? Where does writing fit in, and why are you drawn to it? What keeps you motivated/inspired?

I occasionally knit, I don’t know if that counts as artistic expression.  I enjoy photography. Writing is something I’ve always been interested in. I used to write poems as a teenager and I kept a diary, though that was mostly full of proclamations of love for whatever boy I had a crush on at the time. I had pen pals across the world and I’d hand write every letter. I’ve always found it easier to express myself on paper than in person. My love of writing is what keeps me motivated, I genuinely enjoy it.

Ah, yes…I remember writing similar poems back in the day…

What forms of writing (short stories, poetry, novels, essays, etc.) and genres do you prefer and why? What can you never see yourself writing?

I prefer to write novels or novellas and right now, my genre is romance because it’s what I love to read and I enjoy exploring emotions and feelings, romance seems to be the best outlet for that. I can’t ever see myself writing horror.

As a reader, what do you think makes a good story? What’s one thing a ‘bad’ book taught you to not do in your own writing?

For me to enjoy a story, I have to believe in the characters and feel their emotions as if they were my own. The things ‘bad’ books have taught me, is not to describe every little detail. I hate it when I have to skim pages because I’m bored, or when a book is super long because an author has taken twenty pages to describe something that could have been said with one page. Also to show rather than tell the readers what my character is feeling. I once read a fictional book that involved abuse and when I’d finished I honestly felt nothing, I didn’t care less about the character because the author hadn’t shown me what the character was feeling, instead just telling me what had happened to her. It may just be me because that particular book has rave reviews.

No, I don’t think it’s just you. I think most people prefer to be drawn into a story for the experience, rather than to be ‘told’ what they should be feeling.

As a writer, what elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I’m all about emotion, I want my readers to feel what my characters are feeling, so I always try to show that and I believe it’s one of my strengths. My weakness is probably that I don’t include enough of a back story. I like my stories to be fast paced and not bogged down with what I consider to be unnecessary details.

Who/what are the biggest influences in your writing? How do they influence what your write?

I can’t name anyone in particular, but no doubt I’ve been influenced by the many good romances I’ve read over the years.

What draws you to your preferred genre? What do you think makes your genre unique? And why is it so popular? (Or perhaps less popular than it could be?)

I’m drawn to romance because it’s a genre I love to read and because it has maximum potential to explore emotions and relationships. I’m not sure that romance is unique because other genres can have romance in them too, it’s just not the main focus of the story. Romance is one of the most popular genres, and I guess that may be because readers can escape from reality and experience falling in love all over again.

Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on?

In Chains is a dystopian style romance, book one of a series. It’s not Ebook JPG - Copytechnically dystopia because it’s set in the world as we know it, with one major difference; those with Neanderthal DNA are kept as slaves. It’s legal and government run.

My heroine, Savannah, has just escaped a violent relationship, she has self-esteem issues. My hero, Kayden, is her brother’s slave. They are both ‘damaged’ and they give each other love that neither of them has ever known before, but Savannah’s brother does not want his sister involved with someone he sees as property, he’s determined to keep them apart.

locked together

I’m currently working on the sequel, Locked Together, which I aim to publish at the end of September 21013. It continues Savannah and Kayden’s story and brings it to a close.

They sound great! I hope everyone reading will dash out and buy them! Readers, click on the books covers to see where they can be purchased.

Why is promoting other writers important to you?

I know how difficult it is to get noticed in such a big pool, so I like to help other writers when I can. Of course I also hope that people visiting my site to read about other authors, will notice and be intrigued by my own book.

What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?

When I know what I want to say but can’t find the right way to explain it. When that happens I just write it the best I can and continue with the story. I come back to it when I edit and usually by then I can re-word it in a way that pleases me.

Who are your favourite writers and why?

My favourite writers are those that write characters I can believe in, like, and become attached to. I like writers whose characters are flawed in some way, or who have had a hard time. I can’t possibly name all my favourites but a few that spring to mind are C.J. Roberts, S.C. Stephens and Jamie McGuire.

What advice would you give to new writers, especially those looking to break into the market?

I’d say write the best book that you can. Learn from writers whose books you enjoy. Promote, promote, promote, it’s not enough to just write a great book, the market is flooded and readers need to be able to find your book amongst the many.

How can readers get into contact with you?

My website: http://www.michelleabbott.com

Email: michelleabbott@michelleabbott.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MichelleAbbott4

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MichelleAbbottRomanceAuthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/michelleabbott

Michelle, it was a pleasure getting to know you today and I wish you all the best with your books. Readers, if you enjoyed this interview as much as I did, please leave Michelle a message below. Or, visit her at one of her sites. I know she’d love it.

Have a great week, everyone!

Google+: https://plus.google.com/108843127772064472946