Blog Takeover – Nina from Crisis of Love

Hey there. Sheri Williams here. Fangirl extraordinaire and new author. I’ve sort of taken over Tami’s blog for the day, and I’m ready to share my interview with the lovely Nina. Nina’s story begins in Crisis Of Love, which is being released by Silk Words Publishing Nov. 8, 2014.

I sit down with my handy notepad all set to interview Nina but she is nowhere to be found.  I glance at the giant clock over the bar and am surprised to note that I am not early, she is late. Almost rudely late. I take a sip from my drink and glance up again as I hear the doors close. Suddenly there she is,plopping down in the chair opposite me. She looks flushed, like she may have run here and I feel guilty for thinking bad thoughts. She may have been delayed at work for all I know.

I straighten my notebook. I’m suddenly nervous. This is my first interview after all. I’m about to ask my first question when she finally looks at me.

“Blue hair huh? Maybe I’ll try that. I’m kinda at a crossroads in my life. Time for a bit of fun.”

I don’t know what to say. Blue or not, I’m not used to people actually asking me about my hair. Anyway, this isn’t about me.

“So a crossroads you say? Would you mind talking more about that?” I resist the urge to tap my pencil. She’s a bit more unfocused than I expected.

“Um, yeah sure. Let me just order a drink. Did you see that bartender? He’s pretty freaking gorgeous. I’ll be right back.”

She gets up and walked over to the bar. I can hear them laughing. She’s openly flirting with him. I can’t believe it. Shit, I’m actually tapping my pencil. Finally, she’s back, now carrying a rocks glass full of a dark amber liquid.

“Scotch?” I ask.

“Whisky. Just a splash of water. I’ve discovered a taste for it lately.”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Already this interview is veering of course. I had notes, suggested topics of conversation, but I seem to have forgotten everything.

“So, um, you were flirting with that bartender right? I thought you were married.” Her gaze turns sharp and I think I need to backtrack, but I don’t get the chance.

“Well. Since you ask. I am married. Not sure for how much longer, but yeah. Tom and I are still deciding what we want to do about it.”  She takes another deep drink and I struggle to think of something less obtrusive to ask.

I’m still racking my brain for the forgotten notes when she speaks to me again. “Sorry. I’m snappy. I know it. So much upheaval going on.”

I seize the olive branch. “A crossroads, you said earlier.”

“Yeah. That’s it. So many choices in front of me right now.” She finishes her drink and raises the empty glass to get the bartender’s attention. “You have to understand, my life has been so boring lately. I feel as if I’ve been walking around in haze and all of a sudden it’s clearing. I see my options now. And some of them are sweet.”

I find that an odd turn of phrase. “Sweet? What do you mean by that? Could you elaborate?”

She smiles and it’s a bit wicked. Not at all what I expected from her.

“I could, but wouldn’t it be more fun if you found out for yourself? It’s the adventure that’s the fun part.”

I take a sip of my drink, which has been neglected for so long, it’s watered down. “An adventure, is that what you want at this point in your life?”

She doesn’t answer me as she is too busy giving the cute young waiter a sexy smile, while he delivers her fresh drink. He leaves and she blatantly stares at his behind. I’m afraid she might whistle.

“What did you ask? Oh dear lord, look at his ass.” She runs her fingers through her hair before taking a drink. “Oh, adventure. Yes. I definitely want adventure in my life. A good screw against a wall, something, anything new. You know?”

I am about to ask her to elaborate but her cell rings. Her eyes light up when she sees the I.D. “Sorry, but I’ve got to take this.”

Back Camera

She walks over to a corner and answers the call. I can see her face light up from where I am, and she starts talking quietly. Her actions betray her voice, though. I could see her physical reaction to the caller, and before I have a chance to even think of another question she is out the door. Waving the cell in one hand as she goes.

Sitting alone at the table I grab her drink and down it. Much stronger than mine, I almost choke.  Well that interview was shit. I didn’t learn anything about her. Ugh. Definitely no good at this. I have to say though, I did get one valuable piece of information during the past hour. The waiter does have a nice ass.

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Sheri Williams is new to this author thing. She has one novel in editing purgatory and one short written under a pen name that will never be talked about in public. Crisis Of Love will be her first story published through Silk Words, but hopefully not her last. Sheri is a social media glutton and can be found on Twitter https://twitter.com/mygirljuju , on FB https://www.facebook.com/Williams.Sheri.Author , and blogging with her writing group at http://writingwenches.com/.

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Did you like this takeover? Head on over to Writing Wenches for more fun posts like this. Or, check back here next week. There’s always something new going on.

Journaling to Become a Better Writer: Author Interview with Danielle Hanna

I had the pleasure of interviewing Danielle Hanna, a woman who is an author, but not exactly a romance author. She’s the kind of author that writers like: she writes how-to books. While I love to support my fellow romance authors, I also love to expand my own personal boundaries, and Danielle’s interview was so much fun, I had to blog about it.

When I asked Danielle to tell me a little about herself, this is what she had to say:

I begged my mother to teach me how to read and write when I was four years old because I was jealous of my older brother. She gave in, and It’s all been down-hill ever since. I started writing stories immediately, began keeping a journal when I was five, and I knew by the time I was about seven that I was going to be an author. DSC01646 (3) (481x640)

 My other loves are my pets and the outdoors. I go hiking, biking, and camping with my dog Molly (German Shepherd/Rottweiler) as often as I can, and I’ve even been known to take my cat Juliean along. Although “hiking” with a cat is remarkably non-directional, my dog puts up with it marvelously. 

While today we are focusing on her book, Journaling to Become a Better Writer, I asked Danielle if she writes any other genres, and here’s what she said:

If I had to pidgeonhole myself in two words, I’d say “crime fiction.” But while there’s plenty of action and murder and mayhem going on, my books are constantly exploring the idea of family—loving families, dysfunctional families, broken families, and every variation you can think of. Hence my tagline, “Hearth and Homicide.” 

 I’m also working on non-fiction titles geared toward other authors—how-to books and collections of notions and techniques that I’ve developed along the way. 

I then asked Danielle if anything specific inspires her. How did she come up with the idea behind her most recent book?

My upcoming book for authors, Journaling to Become a Better Writer, was inspired by my own journal, which I’ve been keeping since I was five. I write my journal exactly as if it were a novel written in first person—dialogue, narration, showing versus telling, tension building toward the climax … the whole bit. During a recent low in my life, I regularly shared my journal with a good friend. In addition to offering support and advice, she commented that she couldn’t help looking forward to the “next installment” of the story.  

I began to realize then that I’d been using my journal as a place to hone my writing skills, and that keeping a journal had helped me develop my technique and style in a myriad of ways. I first wrote a series of blog posts on the subject, then decided to expand them into a full book. 

I love it. I love the idea of accidentally stumbling upon the realization that one ought to be a writer. I then wondered (out loud) how many books she’s written, and Danielle said:

I have been produced as a playwright, but have since retired from that niche. My novels—somewhere around twenty of them—are all in various stages of dvelopment. I’ve finally bit the bullet and decided to polish them up and put ‘em out there. But my non-fiction title, Journaling to Become a Better Writer, will be my first published book. Pretty excited! 

I’m excited for her! I truly think this is a great concept. Makes me want to bust out my own journal and see if I can pull any ideas from the musings of an angst-y teen. But I digress. Let’s talk about Journaling to Become A Better Writer:

In each chapter of Journaling to Become a Better Writer, I’ll present a specific technique that can be practiced in your journal, such as recognizing the elements that make a story worth telling, making use of basic story structure (conflict, climax, resolution), getting in touch with and writing your emotions, honing your observation skills, etc. Each chapter ends with a suggested “homework” assignment so you can go give it a try. 

The beauty, I think, of practicing story craft in a journal is that you are relieved of the burden of creating a world and a story from scratch and can focus on the art of describing that world and telling that story in a compelling way. 

 An analogy I reference often is the artist sketching in the park. Her sketchpad is filled with brief studies of the duck pond, the old man on the bench, and the flower growing out of the crack in the sidewalk. What is she doing? She’s practicing her craft by working from life models. She’s training her eye to capture life with accuracy and detail and to recognize art in the everyday world. Then, if she chooses to go draw something from pure imagination, it will have increased realism because she practiced on life models beforehand. 

Keeping a journal is the writer’s answer to drawing from life models. 

And since I’m a strong believer in using examples, the book contains several excerpts from my own journal—many of which are unashamedly honest about my lost childhood and longing for real family, espeically someone I could finally call “Daddy.” 

Fascinating! And because I am a romance author, I always ask how steamy a book is, from 1 (behind closed doors) to 4 (erotica). Danielle’s answer made me laugh:

Mmm … I’d put it at a zero. 🙂 Here’s the teaser: 

 You’ve heard it said: Good writers keep journals. But are you getting more out of your journal than just word count? Your journal is the ideal place to practice your craft, from capturing life in stunning detail to recognizing a story worth telling at all. Learn how to turn your mental meanderings into powerful storytelling. 

Great advice! I then asked Danielle if this was one of the favorites of all the books she’s written:   

It certainly holds a special place in my heart. I’ve kept a journal almost my entire life, and I credit that journal as one of my major tutors as a writer. I’m passionate about journaling, about discovering the stories in your own life, and about exploring and expressing those stories through the power of words. Beyond that, the excerpts I include from my own personal journal tell the story of the best plot twist ever to happen in my life. 

When I asked if it has been released, Danielle said:

I had certainly hoped it would be out by now. The original concept was for a short booklet—but the book itself has demanded otherwise! I’m just now beginning to appreciate the true scope of this project. All I can say now is that it will be out before 2014 is up. It will be available first as an ebook on Smashwords (which will also distribute the book to other popular sites such as Barnes & Noble, Apple iBookstore, and Kobo). After that, I’ll explore putting it on Amazon and possibly even creating a hard version of the book. 

 For anyone interested, I’ll be posting progress reports and release updates on my blog, www.DanielleHanna.com

I plan to follow. I am intrigued by this concept. Here’s an excerpt:  

Journaling cover 05 600 02A car whipped by with wrong-colored license tabs. The sheriff’s deputy hit the lights and shot into the highway traffic. The force of our acceleration threw me back against my seat, but I didn’t flinch. I was just along for the ride—whatever the ride may bring. 

Sam caught up with the little ‘90’s-something Toyota Camry and pulled it over to the shoulder. A young couple sat inside. Teens, early twenties. 

Sam radioed in his stop, then pause  before getting out of the patrol car. “See that massive collection of air fresheners hangin’ from the rear-view mirror?” 

I nodded. 

“That means they’ve got somethin’ in their car. They’re tryin’ to mask the smell.” 

The way he said “somethin’,” I knew what he meant. Drugs. 

I cocked my head like a dog. He could tell that from air fresheners? 

Sam got out of the car. Glanced at me. Locked the doors. 

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Sounds like an excerpt from my latest novel, right? 

Nope. That’s a snippet out of my journal. My first sheriff’s ride-along. 

I’ve been keeping a journal since I was five. Yep. Five. I’d already been writing fiction for a year before that. (Beware the four-year-old who demands to be taught how to read and write. They may be choosing their life career.) 

At some point in my early teens, I heard it said that good writers keep journals. At the time, I wasn’t sure how jotting down events from my boring little life could possibly affect my ability to pen a novel. But since I was already keeping a journal anyway, I filed the tidbit away in the back of my mind and waited to see if journaling would contribute anything more than word count. 

A couple of decades and more than a million words later, I now credit my journal as one of the primary tools that helped me become a better writer. (My penmanship has also improved drastically since I was five.) 

I am hooked. If you are too, here’s how you can stalk Danielle:

Now, whenever I do these author interviews (which I love to do, by the way, so if you’re an author reading this, contact me and we’ll set up a date…), I like to ask the interviewee to ask the readers a question. Feel free to provide your answer via the comments below. And thank you for joining us today! Now, for Danielle’s question:

Do you keep a journal? Do you think keeping a journal has helped you become a better writer, or that it could if you started one? 

Thank you, Danielle, for joining me today! Now, for the important question: How can we read your books? 

Once the book is available for sale, all the info will be right here: www.daniellehanna.com/for-writers/.

Like this blog post? There’s a new one every week. I also blog over at #writingwenches. If you still can’t get enough, I write books too. Check them out by clicking the links above. And if you like them, please considering leaving a review where you purchased them or on Goodreads. Thank you!

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Evolution of the Beach Experience

Readers often ask, “Where do you get the inspiration for your books?” Book Publishing PicThe easy answer is … Everywhere. I once concocted an entire novel in my head, about a wedding planner and one of the guests, along with some intrigue for excitement, while sitting through one of my husband’s cousin’s weddings. When the hubs nudged my arm and said it was time to go to the reception, I protested. “I haven’t worked out the ending yet.” (Luckily, he was used to this sort of behavior by then, so he did not make me an appointment for psychiatric treatment.)

A perfect example of inspiration is this particular blog. Last week, I read a blog about going to the beach and the differences between childless individuals who go to the beach and parents with children who go to the beach. It was utterly hilarious (because it’s so true), and the link is here: http://www.sunnyskyz.com/blog/286/This-Mom-Perfectly-Explains-Going-To-The-Beach-With-Kids-Vs-Going-Without-Kids.

This past weekend (not surprisingly, if you know me at all), I went to the beach, with my kids and a few of my neighbors and their kids. As I sat there, half paying attention to my kids and sipping cocktails with the neighbors, I thought about the above blog, and about my personal beach experience over the years. So was the inspiration for a blog about the evolution of my beach experience.

When my husband and I were searching for our first home (which happens to be the same house in which we still live), just a couple years after we were married (so yes, a long time ago), we had a handful of criteria:

  1. The house had to be located in a decent school district (for our future children)
  2. It had to have a fireplace (we live in the north and roaring fires go a long way towards helping one deal with the long, cold winters)
  3. It had to have a garage (see long, cold winter comment above)
  4. It had to have access to a beach (also see long, cold winter comment)

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Lakefront would have been nice, of course, but we were poor as dirt back then and were lucky to even afford a house at all. We ended up in an established neighborhood with residents that were a healthy mix of retired folk (my kids call one of our neighbors “Grandma”) and young couples either with children, or, like us, planning to start families of their own soon. The house also had access to a private beach that was owned by the neighborhood association.

For the first two summers, we simply walked down to the beach, towel, sunscreen, and book in hand. That’s it. Every nice weekend, all summer long. Then we had our first child. And then the second.

For years, my beach experience involved standing over two young children who were generally content playing in the shallow water near shore. This slowly evolved into two young children who were trying out their wings, or rather, fins, and were determined to give their mother a heart attack, as they swam into deeper and deeper water. I was afraid to turn away, even for a second. Except to grab another drink, that is. Drinks became a requirement at the beach, just to keep me somewhat sane during this phase.486541_10151192409961579_1171425848_n

One summer, a few years ago, the kids became brave enough to swim out to the floating raft. Without lifejackets. Then they became brave enough to jump off said raft. Without lifejackets. I can say with all honesty that my heart lodged into my throat every single time.

Now, finally, they are old enough and experienced enough swimmers that I do not think twice about them swimming out to and spending hours leaping from the dock. In fact, my thoughts are usually along the lines of, “Oh good, they will probably fall asleep early tonight.” The next rite of passage is the swim across the lake, but we’ll cross that bridge when we have to. Until then, I am enjoying this phase of the beach evolution.

We have not been alone throughout this nearly fifteen year cycle. In fact, I would venture to say we have almost never been alone down at that beach. This perfect neighborhood really is just that, and together, we are raising our children. We are standing over them at the beach and chewing our nails as they swim to the dock for the first time and holding our breath when they leap off the dock for the first time. Each and every summer weekend, I say a little prayer of thanks that the hubs and I were too poor to afford lakefront property back in the day. Because the experiences I have with this neighborhood are something I would not trade for anything.

320359_10151114685666579_519189452_nThere’s more where this blog came from. I post a new blog every Monday. I have also written a few books. You can check them out through my website. If you purchase them, and you like them, please leave a review. Thank you!

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