Mary and Rick Roberts

Writer’s Wednesday: An Interview with the Edgar and Stoker Nominated Author, Billie Sue Mosiman

I first discovered Billie Sue and her writing in the mid 90s about a year before she edited the anthology, Never Shake a Family Tree. It is with great pleasure to have her as our guest today. Please help me welcome her to The Editing Essentials!

Billie Sue Mosiman is an Edgar and Stoker Nominated author of  more than 50 e-books. She published 13 novels with New York major publishers and recently published BANISHED, her latest novel. She’s the author of at least 150 published short stories that were in various magazines and anthologies. Her latest stories will be in BETTER WEIRD edited by Paul F. Olson from Cemetery Dance, a tribute anthology to David Silva, a story in the anthology ALLEGORIES OF THE TAROT edited by Annetta Ribken, and another story in William Cook’s FRESH FEAR. She’s an active member of HWA and International Thriller Writers. She’s working on a new novel of suspense titled THE GREY MATTER. You can visit her at: The Peculiar Life of a Writer http://www.peculiarwriter.blogspot.com, or at Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/billie.s.mosiman or on Twitter: @billiemosiman or at Billie Sue’s Amazon Page.

WD: Does your family support your writing career, and if so, have they always?

BM: Yes, my husband has always supported me in my career. Before I sold a novel, all my other women friends had a job and I was at home, writing. I’m sure they thought I was being lazy because didn’t everyone work? My husband continued supporting the family and believing in me until I got my first contract. My daughters were raised with a writer so they understood what I was doing (I probably lectured them enough about how important Mama’s work was!). They tried hard not to interrupt me when I was at the typewriter and the computer.

WD: Does anybody in your family write because of your influence on them?

BM: No. My daughters are creative in various ways, but they haven’t been writing.

WD: What inspired you to begin writing?

BM: I can’t imagine. Since I wanted to be a writer from the time I was thirteen, I can’t say what inspired me. I think it was because I was raised around Southern storytellers who sat around telling one another tales, but it could also be because, or in addition to, my love of reading books.

WD: What author or authors influenced your own style?

 

BM: There were several. John D. MacDonald, Jim Thompson, Phillip K. Dick, Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, and a whole raft of mystery and suspense popular writers during the 70s and 80s.

WD: What is your own process for getting a manuscript complete? Any habits? How do you stay focused?

BM: I believe in dedication and discipline. I was under contract from year to year so I had novels to turn in and expected of me. I would write every day five days a week and take weekends off to devote to my family. That kind of schedule became a routine. I stay focused by reading over what I’ve written the day before and falling into the page, falling into the story so that I can see it in my head and can write the next scene or chapter.

WD: What are your thoughts on how the industry is radically changing to benefit the author? How do you see the industry changing for the better or worse?

BM: With digital books it’s changed almost completely. Writers in my early years of course sent their paper manuscripts in manuscript boxes to New York publishing houses or agents. Today writers can simply upload them to a digital online bookstore. I think the industry has changed for the better in giving the author more control and it’s changed for the worse in making people believe their work is ready to be “published” digitally when it isn’t, or when as writers they really have some way to go to be professional writers. I expect it will all shake out eventually, but the transition might be rocky.

WD: If you could give one tip to a new writer, what would it be?

BM: Write like it means something to you, like storytelling is your life’s goal and you want to tell the best stories anyone ever told. Try to write in a humane way, with heart, and hope to touch people. Write with nerve, take risks, try to do what hasn’t been done or do what has been done better. Lastly, get an editor. Your prose probably isn’t as polished as you think it is.

 

Thank you, Billie Sue, for being with us today! If you’d like to leave a comment or question for Billie Sue, we will be happy to pass it on to her.

Mary and Rick Roberts

Writer’s Wednesday: Award-winning, Best-selling Author Lawrence Block

I’ve been a fan of Lawrence Block’s writing for several years. I first discovered his short stories while I was working for Marty Greenberg. Then, I discovered his novels…and I’ve been hooked ever since! Because he has written such inspirational non-fiction on the craft of writing, we’ve also included an excerpt from his book, Spider, Spin Me a Web that we thought you would you enjoy!  Please welcome Lawrence Block to The Editing Essentials!

Lawrence Block has been writing award-winning mystery and suspense fiction for half a century.  His most recent novels are HIT ME, featuring Keller, and A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF, featuring Matthew Scudder.  Several of his books have been filmed, although not terribly well.  He’s well known for his books for writers, including the classic TELLING LIES FOR FUN & PROFIT, and THE LIAR’S BIBLE.  In addition to prose works, he has written episodic television (TILT!) and the Wong Kar-wai film, MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS.  He is a modest and humble fellow, although you would never guess as much from this biographical note.  www.lawrenceblock.com

WD: How did you discover writing fiction?

LB: When I was around 15, I discovered reading fiction—Steinbeck, Farrell, Wolfe, etc. And I decided this was what I wanted to be when I grew up.
WD: Was there someone in your life that supported or influenced your writing early in your career?
LB: I got some encouragement from a high school teacher.
WD: Has your family always supported your writing?
LB: Yes, always.
WD: You’ve written a lot of award-winning books. Do you have a formula? Or, are you just lucky? 🙂

LB: Just lucky.

WD: What’s one tip you’d give to every new writer out there just starting their career as a writer?

LB: Don’t expect too much. “Each writer has to find his own way to write his own story. Each writer is a stranger in his own strange land; how then can I presume to guide you through a country I myself have not visited?

The writer of fiction is a spider. Drawing upon his inner resources and shaping them with his craft, he spins out his guts to trap his dinner. There are no blueprints for the novel, for the short story. However well the spider may serve as a totem animal for fictioneers, there are fundamental differences between the weaving of webs and the spinning of tales.

…Writers, whatever they write, are apt to find the spider an apt totem. Indeed, I’ve learned that writers of all sorts have far more in common than one might suppose. And, too, the distinction between fiction and nonfiction has never been that clear-cut, and has grown increasingly blurry over the years.

In fiction, traditionally, the writer wants us to believe that he has made the whole thing up. In nonfiction, he wants us to believe that he hasn’t. Both weave much the same sort of web, and out of the same inner stuff.

I think it takes courage for any writer, novice or veteran, to begin a piece of work. Every time I start a book or story, every time I spoil a clean white paper with my own poor words, I am performing an act of faith. I’m hoping and trusting that my ability will be equal to the task at hand, or at least that it will not strand me unpublishably short of my goal.
I’m also hoping and trusting that my inspiration will not fail me. I never have the entire work in mind when I begin writing. Books and stories grown on the page, plots and characters are born in the process of writing. No matter how well I prepare, no matter how detailed an outline I draw up in advance, every book will be a happening, a spontaneous event. And I can’t change this. I can’t open the parachute until I’ve stepped out of the plane, and if it won’t open–well, all I can do is pull the cord and pray.
It takes courage, I believe, to do the very best one can do–at writing or at anything else.”
Excerpt from the Preface and Chapter 29: Take Courage of Spider, Spin Me a Web. Reprinted with permission by the author. Copyright © 1988 by Lawrence Block.

Thank you for being here today, Mr. Block. If you have any questions or comments for him, we’ll be sure to pass them on. Thank you! We hope you enjoyed it. 🙂

Mary and Rick Roberts

Writer’s Wednesday: Award-winning Author L.C. Hayden on Promotion

I invited L.C. Hayden to be our guest today because I’ve always been fascinated by her unique way of promotion. This is just one way to think outside the box when marketing your books. Please help me in welcoming L.C. Hayden to The Editing Essentials!

L. C. Hayden is the creator of the award winning Harry Bronson Mystery Series. Critics are hailing her latest release When the Past Haunts You as the best mystery of 2012. This February, the book was nominated for the 2013 Watson Award and hit the Number 2 Kindle Police Procedural Best Seller spot.

Visit her website at www.lchayden.com and check out her books at www.tinyurl.com/LCHayden. She invites you to be her Facebook friend at Lc Hayden and Tweet her @LCHayden1.

Cruising and Promoting

I’m lucky.

I’ve done over fifteen cruises. I’ve been to the Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Panama Canal, the Mediterranean, and others. Most, more than once.

“That means you’re rich,” you say.

“Nope. I’m just doing my job.”

“Wait! You get paid to go on these cruises?”

Yep. I’ve been contacted by Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Princess Cruise Lines to do writing presentations during their days at sea. They want and expect forty-five minute power point presentations that are both amusing and informative. That’s followed by a fifteen minute signing section.

That’s it. That’s my entire job. I’ve done as few as two presentations during a sixteen day cruise and as many as eight. It all depends on the number of days at sea.

There’s a set of guidelines I’m expected to follow, but they are all common sense rules. I’m not allowed to wear short-shorts. I can’t sit at the bar and drink. I can’t gamble or participate in any games where I can win, such as bingo. I’m not allowed to mention other cruise lines or seat up front at any of the cruises’ shows.

In return, I and my guest of choice receive a free cruise, discounts at the ship’s stores, photograph discounts, and more often than not, cruise excursion discounts. One of the ship’s stores carries and sells my books. At the end of each cruise, I pick up my check.

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?  It is. I love cruising all over the world and promoting my books at the same time. Some of my most faithful followers are those I met at one of these cruises. So how did I land such a lucrative job?

By pure luck. Someone heard me speak, and he (she?) recommended me to the person who hires for the cruise lines. They called and the interview lasted for a bit over three hours. At the end of the conversation, they said they’d send me to the Caribbean on a five day trial basis.

During those presentations, I had everyone from the captain to the cruise director to the bar attendant to the . . . well, you get the idea. Everyone was there to evaluate me. I must have passed because soon after that, I was sent on longer more exotic cruises. I average one or two cruises a year.

I’m now to the point where people are e-mailing me, asking when and where I’ll do the next cruise so that they can join me. Unfortunately, most of the time, I can’t tell them simply because I don’t know. Sometimes the company calls me one or two months ahead of time. Although it hasn’t happened to me, they might even give you a week’s notice.

I have such fond memories of these cruises. I remember one time in Tahiti I saw a gorgeous necklace made of sea shells and macramé. The natives sold it for $20. I thought that was a bit too expensive for macramé and sea shells so I passed it up.

Soon as I got back to the ship, I regretted my decision. But much to my heart’s content, the next island also sold them, and they were charging only $18. I whipped out my credit card only to be told that they didn’t accept credit cards.

I dashed to look for my husband—my walking cash machine. By the time I returned, they were sold out.

At the next island, I was prepared. The natives sold theirs for $15. I bought it and proudly wore my unique necklace for the rest of the cruise. When we got home, I went to Walmart to buy some milk. I got the milk and noticed that the store sold the same unique necklaces for $4.99.

Sigh.

While in Barcelona my husband and I walked Las Rambles, a mile long street filled with museums, eateries, parks, and stores. I wanted to take some pictures of Spain’s outstanding architecture, so we deviated one block away from the path. The visual site rewarded me with early European structures. Fascination filled me as I snapped picture after picture. I was so involved with the task at hand, I failed to notice the group of ladies who had gathered across the street.

My attention riveted toward them when one of them threw an unopened orange Fanta toward my feet. The can burst as it collided with the pavement. I distinctly heard them chanting, “No pictures. No pictures.” Then it dawned on me. We had wandered into the Red Light District.

Ooops!

Then there’s the time I decided to shoot some rapids in Huatulco. I love the feel of gently floating down a peaceful river and a size two rapid is nothing more than gentle moving water with a bump here and there. But as it turned out, the rapids were really four’s and five’s. Afterwards, I asked our guide about it, after all, we had been promised one’s and two’s.

He shrugged. “What can I say? It rained.”

Okay.

There’s so many more misadventures I could share, but space is limited. All I can say is that I’m so thankful that I’ve landed this oh, so tough job—but hey somebody’s got to do it.

Thank you, L.C., for joining us today! Feel free to post an questions or comments for her on how she promotes her books. She’ll be with us all day. Thank you!

Mary and Rick Roberts

Writer’s Wednesday: Award-winning Romance Author Kristine Cayne

Today we’re excited to have Kristine Cayne as our guest on The Editing Essentials. Please join us in welcoming her!

Kristine Cayne

 Award-winning author Kristine Cayne is fascinated by the mysteries of human psychology—twisted secrets, deep-seated beliefs, out-of-control desires. Add in high-stakes scenarios and real-world villains, and you have a story worth writing, and reading. Kristine’s heroes and heroines are pitted against each other by their radically opposing life experiences. By overcoming their differences and finding common ground, they triumph over their enemies and find true happiness in each other’s arms.Today she lives in the Pacific Northwest, thriving on the mix of cultures, languages, religions and ideologies. When she’s not writing, she’s people-watching, imagining entire life stories, and inventing all sorts of danger for the unsuspecting heroes and heroines who cross her path. To learn more about Kristine and her stories, visit her website: www.kristinecayne.com or her blog, http://kristinecayne.blogspot.com/ or on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/KristineCayneAuthor

WD: What is your favorite book of all time you can read again and again?

KC: My favorite book of all time, and one of the rare books that I’ve read several times is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Jamie Fraser will forever be the standard to which I compare all heroes. Likewise, Clare is the perfect example of the strong capable heroine who is nonetheless at ease with her femininity.

WD: What is your favorite part about creating a new story? Creating characters, plot, conflict, sex scenes, action scenes, etc.?

KC: There is so much that I enjoy about writing. If I have to pick, I’d say that my favorite part is romantic scenes. It can be sex, or it can be flirtatious bantering. Both are immensely fun to write.

WD: What do you like about writing your characters?

KC: One of the great joys I get from writing is seeing my characters come to life. When I first start planning a story, the characters are vague, ill-defined, and mysterious, like figures in a dream. I can see them, but I can’t quite identify them. As the story unfolds, the characters start to seem real. I find myself thinking things like: “no, he would never say that” or “of course, that’s exactly what she would do in this situation.” By the end of the book, I’m talking about them like they are my friends: “he wants to try something new tonight” or “he likes how the sunlight puts highlights in her hair.”

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to conduct interviews with some of my characters with my critique partner acting as interviewer. It was so fun to see how they responded to questions. 🙂

WD: What are your goals for 2013?

KC: I’ve got a full load planned for this year. My goal is to publish three stories this year. One, Deadly Betrayal, from my Deadly Vices romantic suspense series. And two stories from my Six-Alarm Sexy series, Everything Bared and one that is not quite officially named yet. My stretch goal is to publish an additional book from the Deadly Vices series, Deadly Deception.

I’ve never written this much before, nor have I ever written two books concurrently, but I’m going to give it a shot. Without goals, I’d never accomplish anything!

 

WD: What do you like about doing Blog Hops?

KC: I love the chance to meet new readers. A blog hop is like a huge party where every invitee brings a couple of friends from another “circle.” It mixes things up and expands your group, hopefully resulting in lasting friendships.

WD: What is the most outrageous, fun, or interesting giveaway you’ve done, or seen as a giveaway for a Blog Hop?

KC: While participating in an erotica/erotic romance blog hop, there was a grand prize of a gift certificate to an adult store. The gift certificate in itself was not super interesting or outrageous, but imagining all the items bought by the winner in a basket, well, that made me smile.

WD: What advice would you give to new writers?

KC: LOL! I’m still learning. Each book is a new adventure, and each day is a struggle to get focused. Before you publish, all you think about is writing. But afterward, you have a slew of different hats to wear and you quickly become distracted. I have to work very hard to keep myself on schedule and to pull away from online activities. As I said, I’m still learning. 🙂

Thanks so much, Kristine, for being our guest today! If you have questions or comments for Kristine, please feel free to post them here. She’ll be checking in throughout the day. Thanks!

 

Mary and Rick Roberts

Writer’s Wednesday Guestblogger: New Author Greta Buckle

I’m happy to introduce new author, Greta Buckle, as our guest today. I met Greta through Brenda Novak’s Online Auction for Diabetes Research. We’ve worked together on several projects, and it was a real pleasure for me to work with her on today’s feature novel, Mything You. It’s been a pure joy to get to know her and watch her grow as a writer. Please welcome Greta!

Greta Buckle grew up in Irish Catholic Boston before moving to the Miami sun. She’s worked in engineering, then in law. After realizing she hates clients, she became a high school teacher. Teaching is fun, but writing is her passion. She wrote one hundred and one fan fiction stories online before deciding to transition into writing her own stories. Never ask her about republishing her fan stories from age eleven- horribly written stories of princesses. Greta dreams of writing full-time, where her barista can make her coffee, and a walk on the beach can motivate her tales. The ‘Theseus’ story came to her when she was a freshman in high school when her English teacher, a nun, told her how life was hard and tragedy teaches lessons. The sci-fi stories come from years of Star Trek and Star Wars fandom. Greta’s love of writing has kept her centered and focused. How is she crazy? The voices in her head are characters in novels, and she’s not insane. Visit her website at: http://gretabuckle.com/

What event/person made you interested in writing? 

There wasn’t one event, exactly. I spent years and years writing fan fiction as a mental release. I wanted to tell stories not seen on TV. What happened to me to write full length novels was a realization. I was unhappy with my life, and no book told the story I wanted to see. I was so tired of not reading the story I wanted to read, then I realized why not write your own? I wrote it, finished, then asked myself what do I do now? This set off my interest in pursuing more. Do you know my eighth grade class in the yearbook voted I would most likely be a writer? My reaction then was to go home and cry. In my head I thought writers lived in the fortress of solitude like Superman’s home and never got to go outside. Such a strange reaction! I giggle over this now.

What made you interested in the Greek myths?

My family are nerds. My sister and brother had an argument in the ancient ruins of Rome over the Latin translation they were both doing there. At the dinner table we might discuss who killed who during the French Revolution. And, my father is a huge history and science fiction fan. Unlike most of my friends, I tended to know every story in the Bible and myths. Plus I took a class on the classics in high school. Either way, I’m a nerd and I love the stories.

What was your inspiration for Mything You?

I came home from a writers’ conference in Chicago, then I saw an open call for stories on Ancient Athens or Rome. They were looking for dark and gritty with more sex, so it wasn’t like my novel at all. Unlike the 50 Shades novels, I won’t write what I don’t feel. I was pumped from the conference, and the thoughts of the Ancient world had me buzzing. I penned the outline. I wrote the first chapter. Then I watched a movie starring Theseus to confirm… no my story is nothing like that movie at all. Good. At that point, I penned the story. I wanted to retell an ancient myth as a romance, and, of course, the characters had to be young. Theseus is in search of his father, and thirty year old men aren’t looking for adventure the same way a newly turned man is. In my rendition, love helps him win everything.

Tell us about your characters–Theseus and Ariande. How did you come up with these characters? Were your characters–the way they act in your novel– inspired by anyone specifically?

I wish I knew someone on an epic adventure. I’d have joined them. In my head I saw Theseus as an Indiana Jones, or Prince of Persia type character. The man on his journey, larger than life action hero intrigues me and grabs my attention. He’s on a mission, and will accomplish his goals.

Ari had to be strong-willed in order to keep up with Theseus. She was not to be weak and she’s not going to kill herself because a man might leave her. Vulnerable, yet strong. Not just the hero must save her girlfriend, but she’s not the kick butt, doesn’t need a man because she’s strong and hard either. Guess I was going for Drew Barrymore type in Charlie’s Angels, which is hard to mix. She’s strong yet soft.

What else can you share about yourself personally?

I worked from high school, through college, and after in the Engineering department of a major company. In high school, I made the photo copies of the plats. Talk about bored! I decided to go to law school. Think Legally Blond, though I’m not blond. In school, I thrived. I tutored people on course work. Then I had to get a job in the legal field. I had to meet clients… with problems…eww. Yes, I met interesting people, and I met lawyers who worked their entire lives, giving eighty hours a week, to Lady Justice and the reward was a huge alcohol bill and a lonely life. I couldn’t live like that either. So, again, I quit, and became a teacher. While teaching is a rewarding job, it’s not everything I want. Writing is the one constant in my life.

I have a cat, and his name is Anakin Skywalker though he’s yet to display any evil tendencies, at all. I’m excited about the Disney merger and new Star Wars movies.

I’m not married, no children, etc. But I do have two parents, two sisters and a brother. One sister has read my stuff, but the rest of the family hasn’t. I love my family, but I always call them the crazy Scorpio nest. Everyone but me, the exception, are all water signs, mostly Scorpios. I’m the odd one in the family. But if anyone knows Scorpios, you know they are intense. Growing up in that household meant living in a constant state of defensive warfare. Shouldn’t shock anyone I’ve turned to writing.

What is your plan for future novels?

Writing has taken over my life. Let’s see I’m penning a sci-fi short, which Brittiany, my editor, doesn’t know about yet. I always wanted to write my own version of Star Trek, but for that to happen you must have a ship full of interesting characters.

I’m writing a sequel right now for Haemon and Antigone. If anyone is familiar with the classics, I will state now, Antigone will not die. I never thought she should have. I’m mixing Antigone and Haemon’s love story with the original tragedy and the Seven Against Thebes myths. Add in a love story. Minus out the tragedy, and I’ve set up a nice war for a city state.

But what I’m really excited about is how we’re getting to work on my contemporary fantasy mixing in the Greek Gods to modern age, with a science fiction, Ancient Aliens angle. One epic bad guy. Seven love stories that must be told to break a curse and restore powers. This is the story that made me want to write. It started with the question, what if you were a god or had super powers, but you never knew it? You lived an ordinary life, never accessing your potential.

Which authors do you enjoy reading?

This is a hard question. I read so many throughout the years. This is the equivalent of ‘the what’s your favorite movie’ question. My dad worked for Warner Brothers before I was born. I’ve seen thousands and read even more than that. If I state Julia Quinn, Nora Roberts, JK Rowling, I skip a hundred more.

Thank you, Greta, for sharing with us today! If you’d like to leave a comment for her, she’ll be checking in throughout the day. Thank you!