Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Meet Connie Chastain.....

I "met" Connie in one of my writer's groups. It's exciting for me to see her published as I was able to read a lot of Southern Man before it was published and I'm here to say she's an amazing writer & you will fall in love with Troy ~ I sure did!

Where are you from? -- Originally from Dalton, Georgia but we moved away from there when I was in the second grade. I grew up mostly in central Alabama, a rolling prairie of grasses and forest. Cheaha Mountain, near a little berg where I lived, is the last outcropping before the coastal plain begins its gradual slant to the Gulf of Mexico. http://earth.unh.edu/thompson/al_cheaha_talladega.jpg http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2024/2346054297_db7bcd7445.jpg?v=0


When and why did you begin writing? -- I began to write fiction in the 1980s. I had not considered writing until my brother-in-law indirectly suggested it. He was stationed in Okinawa with the U.S. Navy for several years, and my sister and nephews lived outside the base in Naha City. I used to write them long, chatty letters, and he noted that I "turned a good phrase," and ought to try my hand at writing.

How many stories have you written? -- Back in the 80s, I started quite a few, hardly finished any -- a sci-fi adventure set in the Star Trek universe; the story of a young female solo-sailer, inspired mostly by Robin Lee Graham's Dove, a behemoth psychological romance titled Coquina, perhaps others I no longer remember. More recently, I've begun or planned about eighteen stories. They're all romances at heat with social issues embedded in the plot.

Have any of them been published? -- Southern Man was published in June 2009 by a small company my husband and I founded, Brasstown Books.

Are the characters in your stories based on someone you know, or events in your own life? -- They all reflect my values and worldview, but the characters, settings and situations are largely imaginary. Now and then they may do or say something I remember someone from my past doing or saying, but it would be a real stretch to say the character is thus based on that person.

What/who inspires you to write? -- Basically, I write to honor good, decent men because I don't like how men are vilified in the feminist age.

What books have most influenced your life? -- Fiction: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell; A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L'Engle; Alice In Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Louis Carroll; the Nero Wolfe series by Rex Stout; Steamboat Gothic by Frances Parkinson Keyes; Star Trek novels by a variety of authors. Nonfiction: the Holy Bible; Dove by Robin Lee Graham; Bride of Fortune and Gone Are the Days by Harnett Kane; and The Devil's Triangle by Richard Winer (something about the way he turned a phrase made me want to write!); How To Write, Speak and Think More Effectively by Rudolph Flesch.

Who is your favorite author? -- Rex Stout.

What book are you reading now? Several things I've read lately have turned out to be big disappointmens, so I'm not reading anything at the moment. I am beginning to accumulate a to-be-read list, though, that includes some nonfiction, some romance, sci-fi, and general fiction -- so long as it doesn't have vampires or Michael Jackson in it.

What are your current projects? -- Storm Surge, which is an orthodox category romance and Catlin, which is a romance with an embedded social issue (domestic violence).

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest story? -- Nothing major regarding characterization or plot. I might tighten the prose a little, use a different word here or there.

Can you share a little of your current work with us? Storm Surge is about a woman who infiltrates a small company to find evidence of wrongdoing by its founder and president. She comes to believe in his innocence and integrity and they begin to fall in love. But neither of them realize they're both in danger from an ex-con bent on vengeance.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? -- Yes. Writing is hard for me. I'm a made writer, not a born one. My writing is not a talent I'm nourishing; it's a craft I'm trying to hone. I'm The secret to getting started for me is to focus on the hero--to know all about him, to know how he was raised, what he believes, what delights him, what hurts him, what motivates him. Until I know that, the story just drifts even if I have a clear idea where I want it to go.

What was the hardest part of writing your book? With Southern Man, it was the men, particularly the hero, Troy Stevenson, realistic (I have a female brain, after all). Also, making the kids realistic, as I've never had kids and haven't been around them much. And, finally, intertwining the various subplots into a smooth whole.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it? -- Persevere. Keep working on the knotty problems, and eventually you'll get them straightened out. More than once I had to rearrange not only the timeline of story events, but the order in which they were told, before it straightened out. But the most important thing I learned was to be true to my voice and my story. I tried writing as writing articles advise; I tried putting action/conflict on the first page--in the first paragraph-- but you can't do that when you're telling a story that unfolds rather than explodes. If I ever write an exploding story, I'll make sure the action/conflict begins in the first sentence; but not in stories meant to open like a flower.

Do you have any advice for other writers? -- Do what works for you. Don't pay too much attention to rules and orthodoxy. Southern Man was nearly killed a couple of times when I tried to turn it into a romance, and "show" rather than "tell." Writing is a very personal process. Some writers are pantsers, some plotters. Some paint with broad brush strokes, some fascinate you with detail. If you're a detail person, you may do a few occasional broad strokes well but don't abandon detail completely; and the reverse is also true.

Is there anything you want to say to your readers? Just that I hope you like my stories, and I'd enjoy hearing from you.

Where can we find your book? It's available on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Southern-Man-Connie-Chastain/dp/061529801X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1245882533&sr=1-1 ----or---- http://tinyurl.com/melhk8

Where can we find you on the web? My website is http://conniechastain.com and my blog is http://conniechastain.blogspot.com

What do you like to do when you're not writing? This probably sounds crazy, but I love the Internet, and I can become absorbed with it for hours. It's instant knowledge; you can find out things that could take hours/days or weeks/months before the Internet. I also like reading, on and off net. I enjoy auto travel with my husband, watching football (Go 'Bama and Saints!), Southern history and culture, and my cats.

Where to find Connie....
Southern Man at Amazon.com
Southern Man Trailers
Author Website
Publisher Website

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Introducing Valerie Mann

I met Val in one of my writing groups and I can't say enough good things about her. She's honest and has helped me along in becoming the writer I am now. Her stories are....well, HOT! I have to tell this story ~ don't even think I've told Val yet. But my best friend in SC happened to check out Val's blog after I posted the link on my Facebook. Now, mind you, she is NOT a reader. But when she finished reading Val's synopsis of her book, she was ready to order it. Val did it ~ reeled her in ~ hook, line and sinker. Check her out & check out her books!

Care to share a short bio with us? Sure! I’m a mother of five, married to the hottest man on the planet (you wonder why we have five kids?), I’m a dental hygienist, currently living in Raleigh, NC. I was born in California, grew up in upstate New York, lived in central Illinois for ten years and the east coast of Florida for two. I can say honestly, I am a true patriot…I love my country because I’ve lived all over it.

Tells us about your two new releases

Fanning Old Flames…wow, what a trip this book has been! I grew up in New York, only a couple of hours from the Canadian border. My family spent many vacations in Canada on a small lake in Ontario. I fell in love for the first time there. Nothing ever came of it but I will always think about that time in my life with fondness. Do I want to find that man? No, but that was a very sweet time in my life. It’s these kind of experiences that mold us and make us dream and write.

As for my other story, a few months ago, I’d been talking to a critique partner who was writing a very erotic tale about two people who hook up at a party and I suggested that perhaps they could play hide and seek. She didn’t buy this premise but it definitely got me to thinking – how erotic would it be for adults to play Hide and Seek? Consider the possibilities of a man and a woman hiding in a dark place together? So, Kelly and Nick’s story was born. I’d unoriginally titled the story, The Game, but Wild Rose Press renamed it, Hide & Seek. It’s pretty hot if I do say so myself.

Can you remember when you received the emails stating you were going to be a published author for the first time?

Oh my gosh, yes! I sent my first submission to an electronic publisher who said the response time was 180 days…I calculated this to be Halloween of 2009. Nine days later, at about eleven o’clock at night, I checked my email before going to bed and found an email from the publisher in my inbox – my heart jumped – I figured the editor had gotten done laughing her butt off and rejected me nicely. My husband is snoring beside me and since I’ve learned not to wake him for anything other than a nuclear attack, I had to keep my private joy to myself that the publisher not only didn’t HATE my story but wanted to offer me a contract! Thank you Cobblestone Press for being so nice…you not only said you LIKED my very first submission, but you actually asked to buy it. Can it get any better than that?

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the hero and heroine?
Seriously, I don’t see anyone in Hollywood, Bollywood-or-any-other-wood playing any of my characters. But having said that, I could seriously adapt any hero I’ve created if Daniel Craig wants to jump on board and play one of my heroes. And I’ll play the heroine, just to keep things really simple. Yeah.

Do you have a writing soundtrack? Or movie or noise that plays in the background as you write? Absolutely! I don’t know how many times a song has inspired me. I adore grunge, post-grunge rock and post-alternative. I have the most inspirational incredible playlist of hard rock which includes Three Days Grace, Puddle of Mudd, Nickelback, Muse, My Chemical Romance, Seether, Saving Abel, Hinder and more. Most of the music I listen to is filled with testosterone and I get a lot of ideas for my heroes and their emotions when I listen to my music.

When did you first start writing?
When I was in fifth grade. My teacher had us all write a story about something that happened in a museum – I wrote about a stolen antique ring and the class was mesmerized. After that, whenever we had to write a story, the class always asked to hear MY story…talk about validation of your peers!

Who or what influenced you to submit your work for publication?
Oh boy…here’s where my critique partners get some credit. I always wanted to submit my work but never did. I always had excuses for not doing it – “it’s not ready, it’s not good enough, it still has problems”. Finally, my critique partners had enough and simply quit critiquing me – why bother? The fact that they’d put so much into my work and I never submitted totally insulted them. And that’s when I got motivated. I owed them that much.

Is there anything you learned from writing your latest book?
If so, what was it? Even if you don’t think it has any redeeming value…step away from it for a few weeks or months. You just might like what you find when you read it again. And if it needs fixing, you may have stepped away long enough to find the solution.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
Work schedule? What’s that? I’d love to have a writing schedule but for now, it’s as inspiration hits. Although I must tell you, I think my dental patients would be shocked at what I think about when I’m cleaning their teeth. ‘Nuff said….

What does your family think of your writing?
100% behind me. Although I must tell you that I don’t let my husband read my writing because it makes him laugh. And as a romance writer, that’s a total and complete turn-off. I love him but I don’t let him read my writing anymore. He just doesn’t get it. My mom, on the other hand, loves my writing. Erotic romance doesn’t bother her in the least.

What do you think makes a good story?
A seriously hot, alpha male and a woman who can stop him in his tracks. Now that’s sexy!

If you could compare yourself to an animal, which would it be and why?
I have dreams about flying high above the earth and I wake up with my heart pounding. I’d love to be a bird and be in complete control and soar above mere mortals.

What do you want to say to someone who is thinking of buying one of your books to read?
What kind of question is that? Of course I’d ask them to buy my book…but better yet, please buy my book and love it. That’s why I wrote it. It’s what I feel in my heart.

What is the best way for readers to contact you? Your websites, email address?
Please email me at valeriemann09@yahoo.com. And my website is www.valeriemann.com

Any advice for aspiring writers?
Listen to your critique partners. Find a good group to critique you and listen to them. Don’t be offended because chances are, they really do know what they’re talking about and if you don’t like what they’re saying, you may be doing yourself a disservice. I owe everything to Kimberly and HEART for giving me a chance when I knew practically nothing and not laughing their butts off (okay, they probably did but they never let on) and giving me timely and welcome advice. I took everything they told me to heart. And my more recent partners, Kris, Ash and Dena and also ERAuthors…you guys kick major romance butt.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Meet Becca Dale

I met Becca on Facebook ~ a friend suggestion by Valerie Mann. Here is the interview I did with her. Be sure to check out her works!

Where are you from? I am from the lovely but quiet state of South Dakota, and I cannot imagine living anywhere else.

When and why did you begin writing? I started writing in elementary school when I would make up stories for my friends. My mother still has copies of my middle school poetry too in which I often lament unrequited love. So I guess I was focused on romance almost from the beginning.

How many stories have you written? More than I can count. Unfortunately, most of them exist only in my head, but if you could read them, I’m sure you’d love them. LOL Have any of them been published? I have three ebooks available – four if you count the freebie from Phaze called “Woodland Wonder.” I also have several in the works which I hope to have published in hardcopy.

Are the characters in your stories based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Quite often my characters start out based on people I know or things that have happened to me, but usually they take on a life of their own. It doesn’t matter what I intended in the beginning. They all become their own people and often do things I don’t expect. My heroes have a little of my hubby in their personality as I think he’s about perfect, but none of them are much like him otherwise.

What/who inspires you to write? That’s a tough one to answer. I guess I do. Originally, my teachers wanted me to express myself in writing, and my mother encouraged me to read and write all the time. Mostly though it’s the voices in my head screaming to get out that make me sit down at the computer. Before I had a PC (yes, I’m really that old), I used to keep a notebook by my bed so I could write down what the voices told me in the night. I know it sounds completely crazy but I cannot remember a time when ideas for novels weren’t bouncing around in my skull. I do try to control them when I’m in public though. ;-D

What books have most influenced your life? I should say Shakespeare’s plays or some novel of “literary” merit, but honestly, I used to read Barbara Cartland all the time in middle school. She wrote cheesy, sweet and innocent romance novels that were calm enough so Mom didn’t freak out. I later moved up to Janet Daily in high school and Jude Deveraux in the early years of my marriage. Jude’s work is certainly more realistic, explicit and sensual than Barbara’s, but they still had that battle of the sexes thing going on. I guess those and gritty, realistic works like Their Eyes Were Watching God have impacted me more than the traditional works from the cannon. As an English major, I’m not sure I am allowed to say that, but it’s true. I emulate those books because I love a good escape that allows the reader to experience love and if it ends happily then what could be better?Who is your favorite author? Jude Deveraux and Zora Neale Hurston traditionally, but recently I found Lora Leigh and the Breed Series. If you’re into a little cross species fantasy, her work is hot.

What book are you reading now? A world Geography textbook – weird I know. My understanding of geography stinks so I’m trying to expand my grasp of the world and its governments. I think Political Science will be next.

What are your current projects? Mostly, I am busy playing mom even though my kids have both moved out. I’m helping my son remodel his home into a duplex so he can afford the payments and helping my youngest make curtains for her dorm room so my personal projects tend to get put on hold. I am really excited about a first person novel that I’m working on though. I don’t usually like first person point of view, but here would be an example of a character taking over. It started out as an experiment to see if I could write in that format but then Teri (the heroine) took over and demanded I finish her story. I love her and the hero so I have no choice but to complete it. I think readers will like it as well. A few people have taken a look at the beginning and told me to run with it.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest story? No. I love both Trea and Jason from Tied Up with Green. It was a challenge for me to write as it has a little bondage in it and the heroine is much more confident than I am, but it was fun to write and the bondage wound up to be a freeing element for characters and me.

Can you share a little of your current work with us? Sure. Here is a self-introduction by the main character from Promises-Promises cleaned up a bit for the casual reader.Let me start this story by saying I’m not a dog. I am perfectly capable of getting a date when I need one. Mostly, I’m a little above average looking, but not beautiful with small boobs and a big mouth. I’m a definite extrovert who loves kids and hates cats. Summation, I don’t want to wind up old and alone with no kids and a house full of felines trained to crap in the toilet so I don’t have to deal with a litter box. As you can tell, I’ve thought about this a bit. In fact, I contemplated putting the above description on a dating webpage, but my best friend Cass laughed her ass off when I showed it to her. Like many American women pushing forty, I long ago tired of playing the boyfriend game. I decided to avoid the whole messy middle step of marriage and have a child on my own. I thought about a sperm bank but I couldn’t afford it. That’s why I chose to have a kid the old fashioned way—find a guy I could tolerate sleeping with and get pregnant. The only catch was I needed to know his medical history so I could handle the no condom thing, but I didn’t want to get too friendly with him because then he might want to have a say in my son or daughter’s life. I actually wanted the guy to be disposable but I couldn’t find a dildo to do the job. I needed a man from out of town, somebody I could use and forget. I’m an HR consultant and travel a lot for my job, so I figured I’d wait until I had to speak at an out of town convention and find my mark. Anyway, that’s why I walked into the bar that Thursday night determined to get laid; well, not just laid, pregnant. It wouldn’t be easy. Nothing in the world ever is, but I was stubborn enough to give it an honest try. The crowded bar swarmed with men and women on the market for relationships or sex. I fell somewhere in between.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? I can’t write bad guys. I work with kids who have often been labeled as bad kids or trouble makers and I love them. As a result I have a hard time believing that anyone is all bad. My bad guys often come out stiff because I feel like I leave out part of their character. As soon as I figure out how to write a sweet and charming bad guy who still qualifies as a villain, you’ll see a lot more of them in my books.

What was the hardest part of writing your book? I hate editing. I suppose most writers say the same thing. I want to tell the story and make people laugh or cry or something, but I don’t want to go back and look for the little details like missing commas or wrong words even though it has to be done.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it? I learned that I could do it. It is scary to put myself out there, but my first positive review was a real confidence builder. Now I’m a junkie for the rush of a novel release.

Do you have any advice for other writers? Make yourself do the stuff you hate so you can celebrate the fun parts. I can’t write the end of a story before it’s flushed out, or I will not go back and finish it. For me the joy of writing comes in finding out what happens just like with reading. Some authors have outlines and everything all laid out before they start. That’s great if it motivates you, but don’t let people tell you your method is wrong. Plow through the tough stuff and dance naked with the rest.

Is there anything you want to say to your readers? Thank you. I feel so blessed to have readers. I don’t make much money from my work, but I gain a great deal from sending my stories into the world and hearing that they made someone smile. Even as a kid, I appreciated nothing more than feedback from my friends when I got a story right.

Where can we find your books?
Phaze Publishing ~ http://www.phaze.com is the main site and where you can find my free story.

Or this will take you directly to the page that lists my titles http://www.king-cart.com/Phaze/product=Becca+Dale/exact_match=exact

My releases are also available through Amazon and Fictionwise

Where can we find you on the web? Visit me on Facebook, myspace, and blogger.com http://beccadale.blogspot.com/

What do you like to do when you're not writing? I do everything and nothing at all. I hang with family, watch shows like NCIS, Bones and Drop Dead Diva, sew, read, ride motorcycle with my hubby, and garden. I do not clean. Well I do, but not by choice. I wish I knew a couple of little housework elves who would come in and do the laundry and cleaning while I slept. That’s not asking too much is it? A girl’s gotta have a dream. Thanks for having me visit, Cara.

Monday, September 7, 2009

It's not just about gemstones and jewelry!

Happy Labor Day to everyone. Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday!

Moonstruck Gems isn't just about gemstones and jewelry. It's about ME and my creativity. There's more to my creativity than just jewelry! It's a craft that goes deeper than that! It's WRITING. I began writing my junior year in high school ~ short stories about teens, teen pregnancy, suicide and several other topics that teens face. Sometime in my early 20's, I decided I wanted to tackle a novel. The journey began - page after page in long hand on a legal pad or in a notebook - long before computers were a household name. Then I became pregnant with my daughter and put my writing aside as life became all about her. I picked it up here and there and wrote a little bit....sometimes 2 pages; other times 20. My husband has never been a fan or supporter of my writing. He says I should be doing something useful with my time. I write when he's not around and we don't discuss it. But it’s part of me; part of who I am. It’s what I want to do and I’m going to do it. My head spins with ideas and characters constantly. I can’t sleep at night because my characters talk to me and tell me what they want to do next! As crazy as that sounds, it’s true. I think most writer’s will agree with me! When I see people, I see a story or an idea. Sometimes listening to a song will spark something and I’ll get a whole scene out of it! You just never know when it’s going to hit you.

Several years ago, I was in need of support and help, so I searched the net looking for online writing groups. I found one on Yahoo where I was welcomed and supported. It took me a long time to find the courage to put my work out there to get critiqued. I finally did - some liked it; others hated it. I've learned you can't please everyone. About a year and a 1/2 ago, I revamped the whole novel I had written; basically started it all over again. The characters names remain the same but the story has taken on a whole new feel. “Elements” is the working title. Whether that will be the finished title remains to be seen. My writing has improved a lot because of the ladies in my writing group. There are rules the group owner, Elly, has given us and I live by them:
Rules of Writing!1. Don't get it Right, Get it Written!2. You cannot fix a blank page!3. Give yourself permission to write crap, Crap can be fixed...see #2!

Four of the women have been published and I have chosen to interview them and let you get to know them, too. Their work is fantastic and I hope some day, mine will be just as good. They are wonderful ladies who are my motivation and inspiration. Over the next few days, you'll meet these ladies: Becca Dale, Valerie Mann, Connie Chastain, and Dominique Eastwick ~ all very talented, published authors.

Be sure to watch the blog for my interviews with them! Follow them, their blogs, their websites, and their work.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

September Birthstone = Sapphire

Since September is upon us, let's talk about the beautiful September birthstone, SAPPHIRE! This is definitely one of my favorite stones; however, it is one of the hardest ones for me to find in beads for bracelets. The last string I got came from India. The last batch I had came from Austrailia. But the time I spent searching & waiting was well worth it. Aside from being September's birthstone, Sapphire has healing properties as well.

Sapphire is known as the wisdom stone. If helps in focusing & calming the mind. It rids unwanted thoughts; brings joy & peace of mind by opening the mind to beauty & intuition. Known as the “stone of prosperity”, sustaining the gifts of life, eliminating frustration, & fulfilling the desires of consciousness. Tends to emanate & radiate energy without one’s conscious initiation. Provides strength to the user. The stone releases depression & spiritual confusion. It stimulates concentration. (This information was obtained from one of my favorite gemstone books, Love Is In The Earth by Melody & The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall)

The bracelet shown is currently for sale in my Artfire shop:

There is only one listed but others are available.....just ask!

Sapphire comes in an array of colors: blue, black, pink, green, purple, royal, white, yellow & star sapphire.