Hello and thank you Margaret, for welcoming me!
My name is Grace Elliot.
By day I am a veterinarian and by night I write historical romance. Being a vet is my dream job, but it can be emotionally draining and several years ago I started writing as a form of stress relief. I live near London and I am married with two teenage sons, five cats (we peaked at nine) and a guinea pig.
Is this your first book?
I have written four novels prior to ‘A Dead Man’s Debt,’ but this is the first that I felt ready for the public to read. Writing is a learning curve and with each book I learnt something, improved and moved on. I expect that process will keep going for as long as I keep writing and publishing, especially as some reviewers make very perceptive comments.
What led you to tell this particular story?
The inspiration behind A Dead Man’s Debt sprang from a portrait of the young Emma Hart (who later married Lord Hamilton and became Horatio Nelson’s mistress)
The painting by George Romney shows an innocent yet lush young woman, scantily clad with a hint of bosom, brazenly staring out of the canvas with an allure that is quite hypnotic. It struck me as sensational for an 18th century work, that the sitter was not prim, proper, straight backed and starchy. At the time the picture must have been utterly scandalous.
But who would be bold enough to commission such a portrait? (As it happened Emma Hart was ahead of her time…but that’s another story.)
What a delicious idea for a story!
What if the woman in the portrait wanted to shock? From this idea, Lady Sophia Cadnum, Ranulf’s mother, was born. A woman who hated being a brood mare and resented her children….
What if years later, this same portrait threatened to disgrace her son, forcing Ranulf to do the very thing she resented…and marry out of duty…
Thus the stage was set for the story of blackmail, sacrifice and redeeming love that in ‘A Dead Man’s Debt.’
You’ve written a historical romance. How did you go about researching the period?
I came to writing historical romance through a love of history. I discovered the wonders of history whilst pregnant with my second son. It was a difficult pregnancy and I spent a lot of time resting and reading, and by chance picked up an engrossing book by Margaret George called ‘The Autobiography of Henry VIII.’ That this novel was based on fact was a revelation…but how could this be so when the book was so interesting? Out of curiosity I read my first non-fiction history book outside of school, and fell in love with the past. From then I was lost and history books became an addiction…and research from my HR is the best excuse yet to buy more!
How did you find working with your publisher?
I am eternally grateful to Solstice for taking a risk and giving me this chance to become a published author. One of the main benefits that I can see of belonging to Solstice is the network of supportive fellow authors, who are so generous with their advice and experience. I’m not particularly computer literate and with their encouragement I have started a blog (updated twice a week with posts on historical trivia) a website, Tweet (@Grace_Elliot) and am active on Facebook.
What are you working on now?
You can’t beat historical romance for sheer page turning, escapism and I hope my next novel ‘Eulogy’s Secret’ lives up to this.
‘Eulogy’s Secret’ is a story about hidden identity, dangerous assumptions and prejudice. Our heroine, Eulogy Foster, has a secret that could destroy lives…but will she keep that secret if, in the telling, she could win the man she loves?
Once again set in the Regency, this book is the first in a series of three, about very different brothers, and will be available later this year.
How do you feel that your work as a vet plays into your writing?
Oh, this is a good question!
Writing and being a vet are complimentary occupations. As I said earlier, writing is a release from the sad, raw emotional side of being a vet, (it’s so hard, saying goodbye to patients I’ve known for years.) In my work, each day I meet all sorts of interesting and very different people with all their quirks and peculiarities, and it’s a great way to get inspiration for characters! On occasions I’ve also woven some of my veterinary knowledge into a novel (such as when Lord Ranulf Charing meets Miss Celeste Armitage for the first time….not in a ball room, but in a muddy ditch as he’s helping a cow give birth to a breech calf.)
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever gotten? The worst?
The best writing I ever read was “Write every day, whether you feel like it or not.”
Even when I’m really tired after a hard day, I buckle down and write for a minimum of twenty minutes. If at the end of that time I want to stop then fine (mostly that twenty minutes stretches into two hours) ….but at least I’ve inched my WIP forward.
To be a writer you need to write and even if that twenty minutes work is poor, at least I can go back and edit it later, but you cant edit a blank page!
I don’t think I’ve ever been given bad writing advice….at least nothing that I thought worthy of remembering!
Any favorite authors/books in your genre?
My favorite historical romance authors are Julia Quinn (for her humor) Mary Balogh ( consistently enthralling books) Gaelen Foley (writes great heroes) Lisa Keyplas ( emotional depth) and Stephanie Laurens ( sheer numbers of books.) One of the joys of the internet and eBooks is the number of forums for fellow book addicts, I’m constantly discovering new and promising authors, such as Marissa Patzer (The Blighted Troth) and Rose Gordon (The Intentions of the Earl.)
Where can readers find your book?
‘A Dead Man’s Debt’ is currently available as an eBook from Amazon, Smashwords, Fictionwise and other eBook retailers. ($2.99 US, 2.14 GBP UK.)
Any last words?
If you have enjoyed this interview, or are interested by ‘A Dead Man’s Debt’ then you might enjoy my blog. This is a blend of history, romance and cats! I update twice a week at http://graceelliot-author.blogspot.com
I am also on twitter: @grace_elliot and I’d love to hear from you.
Today I have the pleasure of hosting attorney Joe Dadich who blogs about estate planning.
And here’s a plug from me:
Yes, I know, I, too, think I’m immortal — but, folks, you never know when you’re going to go — and when you do, the headache for settling your estate will fall on those near and dear to you: your spouse, your kids, your niece from Saint Loius. Someone will have to find them, and go through the trouble of settling your estate when they are grieving for you, and without a will.
Trust me, this is not what you want to wish on them.
A good friend died unexpectedly some years back, and he didn’t have a will. His four kids, then in their late teens and early 20’s, had to deal with not just burying their father, but with the resulting legal hassle.
So read Joe”s post and take it to heart.
Three Emergency Estate Planning Myths Online Will Company’s, Cable Finance Guru’s DO NOT KNOW about – that will knock your socks off!One of the biggest fallacy’s in the world of media is that there is so much mis-information. Take for instance the show I was watching the other night on a national cable station. They had one of the female finance hosts discussing what busy women should do to protect their kids in the event the parents pass on.
So, out of intrigue I watched to see what the answers were going to be. I was shocked when the first words out of the hosts mouth was flagrantly false!!
Not only have I studied what self-professed financial guru’s believe are in every family’s LEGAL best interest, but I’ve studied the online alleged legal solution providers. And long-time membership company’s that have been around for decades.
As I will share with you here and in the book is a peak into the mis-information and devious nature these outlets attempt to illustrate to you – the consumer and nightly news watcher.
Myth #1: YOUR ESTATE PLAN IS VALID FOR YEARS TO COME AFTER YOU SIGN IT. You should be hearing the Alex Tribek’s Jeopardy buzzer with this one. For the past 18 years I have always advised clients that once you sign a legal document what happens when you want to make changes? With every self-professed legal insider and estate planner they have failed miserably at providing the ability to allow for changes to be made. What do I mean with this?
At all of the conferences I speak at I provide a list of questions you should always ask your legal advisor (and quite frankly any financial advisor) who is attempting to provide you with estate planning advice. Here is the #1 item you should ask. How often can I come back to update my plan AND WITHOUT PAYING FOR THE UPDATES?
What happens why you go into a store that is offering a great deal of $9.99 and then you find out this item is only good for a short period of time or worse they are out of the item and now you are stuck buying another. It’s called a bait-and-switch.
Further, remember what happened when Michael Jackson passed away? He had originally signed a Will back in 2002. Now he had all the money in the world – allegedly. His Mother was contesting who was actually controlling Michael’s finances post-death. It was wildly reported Michael’s disgust with the current financial advisors who were controlling his Estate. The point is, what if this is you? Michael should have changed and/or updated his estate plan to have his new intentions known. What happens when you need to make a change?
They get you in for a certain price. And they don’t tell you how much (or where you can turn) it will cost to update the plan. To solve this problem you need to check out the nation’s first ‘Certificate of Guarantee’™. I have taken all the non-sense out of the mis-information and provided what is actually needed.
Make sure when you are creating your plan you get this in writing.
MYTH #2: A WILL IS ENOUGH TO PREVENT RESPONSIBLE FAMILY’S KIDS FROM BEING RAISED BY THE STATE OR UNWANTED FAMILY MEMBERS.
If you recall the reality tv show – Jon and Kat Plus 8 – the family there was raising 8 kids. Even before the trivial divorce, I was one of the first to write about what would happen should each parent passes away. What we discovered when I was asked to analyze what would happen to their kids we came up with a startling fact.
If you recall the reality tv show – Jon and Kat Plus 8 – the family there was raising 8 kids. Even before the trivial divorce, there were rumors about who would care for the kids if something happened to one of them. I was one of the first to write about what would happen should each parent passes away. What we discovered when I was asked to analyze what would happen to their kids we came up with a startling fact.
Imagine having the worse happen to you and your spouse (if married). So for Jon and Kate, who would raise their kids? Did you know if you only have a Will, and your named guardians are not located there is a chance the state you reside in could place your kids in the foster care system? Or worse, what would happen if you have an uncle or aunt that has alcohol or drug issue? Are these really who you want to raise your kids? A Will in the traditional sense does not address these issues.
To address this you need to make sure you nominate ‘Emergency Guardian/Conservators’ and ‘Temporary Guardian/Conservators’. Along with a clear set of guidelines for any caregiver and/or babysitter.
MYTH #3: 99% of Emergency Estate Plans do not have 24/7 access to their documents.What do you think happens to your emergency estate planning documents after you sign them? Well, if you are one of the lucky 28% that get a plan in place, then you know, that your documents are routinely placed in a safe-deposit box, shoe box under your bed, safe in your home – you get the picture.
Try to envision how would you get access to your most critical documents in a time of need? What would happen if you and a spouse are in a terrible accident on a Friday night? How are you and your loved ones going to get these documents to a hospital?
Further, if a loved one needs to make a critical life-saving decision did you know Probate Courts typically take up to 14 days, if not longer for the proper filings to obtain access to important health care documents.
The solution is a little-known strategy to work with a company that handles 24/7 medical access. This is an important item to discuss with your emergency estate planning attorney.
To recap, a responsible family that is concerned about reducing costs, staying out of probate court, ensuring access to your most important documents, ensuring a State or unwanted family members are not raising your minor kids then keep these simple strategies in mind when preparing your estate.
Joseph is the noted author of ‘Celebrity Estate Plans Gone Bad – Secrets Every Woman Needs to Prevent Emotional and Financial Turmoil when a Spouse Dies’. To contact Joe, email him at email@example.com to find out how you can get a copy of your very own Free VIP Will.
Tell us something about yourself
I’ve been an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy since about 4th grade when I picked up a copy of Space Cadet by Robert Heinlein from my school library. My current day job is data management for an environmental remediation and emergency response contractor. I’ve also worked as a Unix and network administrator, a programmer, a data entry clerk, and an administrative assistant. I’m a life-long resident of New Hampshire. My wife and I currently share a house with six cats, who let us live there in return for providing them with food and a comfy bed.
Your book, “Embracing the Dragon,” is being released on April 13th. Can you tell us a little about the book?
Embracing the Dragon is the story of Danny O’Riordan, a young man from Boston, in the not too distant future, and his romantic entanglements with two very powerful men, as he comes to terms with his sexuality. He’s sworn service to an Elf, King Aran of Avalon, and when he begins to consider the possibility that he’s attracted to men as well as women, he naturally turns to him. Of course nothing is simple in Danny’s life. He started exploring the idea that he might be interested in men because of a vision of a past life where he had a male lover. As you’re probably already suspecting, that old lover has been reborn too, and the fire between them has not gone out. Danny knows he shouldn’t restart that other old relationship. Elves don’t believe in monogamy, but it would be a political nightmare. But his heart is saying yes, even while his head is saying no. Will he succumb to the temptation of that second relationship, or lock his heart away and focus on his duty to Aran?
I understand the setting is a joint creation of yourself and B A Collins. How did that come about?
It started many years ago as a fantasy role playing game. I think we started around 1985. B A ran the game, and devised the original world background. We played weekly until the early 1990’s and the world background became deeper and more complex. B A and I were sharing an apartment, and so we passed a lot of ideas back and forth.
She moved off to the wilds of northern Vermont to get married, and the game stopped, with the major story line unresolved. One summer I spent much of a solo drive from New Hampshire to the western edge of Pennsylvania thinking about how the major plot arc would make a pretty good epic fantasy novel, but didn’t do anything with it. Eventually my new roommate, who had aspirations to be a writer, sold her first novel.. I was between jobs and decided to resurrect the old idea for the fantasy novel. I asked BA if she minded me using the setting, since even though it was my character, and I’d added a lot to it, it was ultimately her creation in the beginning. She got excited about the idea. Along with a couple of other friends we started a local writing group in 2004.
We’ve spent a lot of time working out the changes we need to make to move the setting from being a successful game world to one suited for writing about. You can’t just write up what happened in a game and have it work. We did keep major events from the game, but pruned a lot of dead wood. And no, in case you’re wondering, the game was nowhere near as x-rated as the novel.
Can you tell us a little about Avalon and the Tengri Empire?
It’s another world, reached by magical Gates, where the energies which support magic are stronger than in this one. It’s peopled by a variety of races. There are fairly traditional Elves – tall, fair people with magic and pointed ears. There are Tengri – closely related to the Elves, but with more oriental features. There are Kennakriz barbarians, who started out as humans, but were improved physically by their god Glaive thousands of years ago. There are ordinary humans of various ethnic flavors. There are some other races such as Dwarves, but they haven’t come on stage much. And then there is Hell, which is still another world, with odd physical and magical properties, peopled by demons. The Tengri have a lot of ties with Hell, politically and magically.
The major plot arc is that there is a race of very alien beings, commonly referred to as the Devourers, who are moving from world to world like a horde of locusts, devouring the life energy of worlds, leaving them as frozen husks before moving on to the next target. The Elves and Tengri held them back for a long time, but eventually the Gates were breached and Avalon was invaded. The Elves were pushed back over the course of several years, and in 2017 opened the Gates from Avalon to Earth, which had been sealed for centuries, seeking allies. The Elves have lost much of their territory on Avalon, and are maintaining a government in exile on Earth. The Tengri are holding their own, barely.
On Earth it’s a time of re-awakening magic, returning gods, and desperate heroes. The current novel is set midway through the war. The Devourers will be turned back, but only at a terrible cost. By the time it’s over casualties on both Earth and Avalon will be reckoned in millions.
Are you planning more work in this setting?
Absolutely. I have two other short stories featuring Danny already available from Torquere Books, and a g-rated, non-romantic short story featuring a different set of characters coming out in December in Spells and Swashbucklers, a collection of stories featuring pirates and magic, coming from Dragon Moon Press.
I have a sequel to Embracing the Dragon in progress. There’s another novel which needs a complete rewrite before it sees the light of day sitting on my hard drive – it was my actual first, and as you might expect, the first draft is crap. I also have a skeleton plot for a spin-off novella featuring a couple of minor characters from Embracing the Dragon.
B A has a romantic trilogy, involving mostly heterosexual relationships, and an occasional ménage for spice, complete in draft. She’ll probably be putting out queries for that one soon.
There are lots of ideas for this setting. We have a long timeline, and plenty of room to play. You can definitely expect more.
How long have you been writing? Do you write full time?
I started writing actually trying to write, as opposed to daydreaming story bits, in 2004. Unless I win megabucks I don’t think I’m going to be a full time writer before I hit retirement. While I like writing, I do actually like my day job too. I’d miss it. I might work less hours, but even if I hit the lottery I don’t think I’d quit completely.
How do you structure your writing time?
Structure? What’s that? Seriously, I don’t try to structure myself. I know a regimented schedule works well for many writers, but it’s not for me. I think if I tried to force myself to do that I’d eventually start resenting it, and that would be it. I’d stop. I do a lot of processing in the back of my head, a lot of daydreaming, before I sit down to write out a story. If I don’t give that time to happen, and try to just write for the sake of having a word count, the results are crap that I end up throwing out. Although it is true that deadlines are marvelously inspirational.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten as a writer? The worst?
The best advice is a line from Kipling:
“There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays,
“And every single one of them is right!”
(“In the Neolithic Age”, http://www.kipling.org.uk/poems_neolithic.htm)
There’s no one true correct way to write. There are ways that work better than others for most people, and ways that are easier than others to execute well, but for every rule there are a dozen successful exceptions. The right answer is the one that produces a story that works for your readers.
The worst advice is a prize I’ll give jointly to everyone who has offered me the latest and greatest theory on how to write, or how to structure your book, as the One True Way, handed down from on high. I’ve seen aspiring writers spend so much time studying theories and trying to make their story fit them that they lose all touch with the story. You can make anything fit a model if you break enough bits off, but by the time you’ve made it fit you may not have anything left worth keeping.
Any favorite authors you’d care to recommend?
This is a list that could go one for pages. I’ll offer a few that I’ve been reading lately: Elizabeth Bear; Jacqueline Carey; C. J. Cherryh; Charles de Lint; C. S. Friedman; George R. R. Martin; Jane Yolen.
What are you working on now?
Aside from the sequel to Embracing the Dragon, I’ve been working on a thriller set in Israel featuring a special department of the Mossad which deals with magical problems. This one is a complete departure from my published work – it has no romance elements in it at all, although there may be a side plot in the sequel.
I’ve also got a historical fantasy set in early 1900’s Dublin on the drawing board. That will have a romance element, but only as a subplot. The focus of the book is an alternate history of the Easter Rebellion.
Where can readers buy your book?
The best way to buy it will be directly from the Torquere Books web site: http://www.torquerebooks.com . I won’t have a buy link available until it releases on the 13th, but once it’s out it will be on my author page, along with my other Torquere stories here: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=272&zenid=cb8fe5149023c93c1fd04d2623e53cdf&main_page=index
Torquere also offers books through All Romance Ebooks, Amazon, Fictionwise, Ingram Books/LightningSource, Mobipocket, and Rainbow Ebooks.
Any last words?
I love to hear from readers. You can contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Today I’m delighted to host Jennifer (J.R.) Turner on my blog.
Award-winning author J.R. Turner lives in Central Wisconsin with her husband and three children. She began writing in high school, and after a decade working as a commercial artist, started her first novel in 1999. Aside from crafts, camping and cooking, she loves holidays. A favorite is Halloween, a combination of spooky supernatural fun and chocolate. Visit her at http://www.jennifer-turner.com to learn more!
Alliteration in Literature
Writing is a journey—and often this journey takes us places we never thought we would go. I enjoyed poetry in my teens and played with the different forms and variations over the years. In fact, the very first time I wrote something I was proud of, (in 2nd grade, bless you Mrs. Sanders!) turned out to be a poem:
1-2-3 Birthday wishes go so fast
Like the breeze in the willows
Dancing among the grass
As you can see, I never forgot those three lines. Of course I used slant rhyme and my meter was way off, but this began my love affair with alliteration. The way words can come together, sounding so similar, intrigues me to no end. When I write, I often fall back on alliteration to heighten the pace or the sense of place. There’s a difference between the lines:
The farmer struggled to control the tractor and steer it away from the derelict henhouse.
The farmer fought for control of the tractor, turning to avoid destroying the derelict henhouse.
For me, the more the words slide together, the less intrusive they are. My mind can melt into the story and forget I’m reading. You’ll find tons of this in all my books and short stories, and yes, even in those few poems I still write today. Just look at the title of my new series:
Delbert Dallas and the Dragon Diaries: #1 Voyage to Viking Island (link: http://www.omnilit.com/product-voyagetovikingisland-527701-228.html )
#1: Voyage to Viking Island—Release Date: March 22nd.
When the new guitar Delbert Dallas got for his birthday turns into a dragon named Barbecue Bob, the adventures are just beginning. First stop—Viking Island where Prince Rolloff is running away from his wedding—at the age of twelve. A Viking afraid of a girl? Even more shocking is Rolloff’s new best friend.
Walter Wheeler, a bully held back two grades, has discovered his own time-traveling dragon, Firebrand. When the prince offers a bag full of gold to get him off the island, Walter happily accepts, once he hears the plan is to escape on the royal longboat. Not only will he take Rolloff’s gold, he’ll take all the treasure on board.
Can Delbert convince Prince Rolloff that Walter Wheeler is no valiant Viking in shining armor? How do you explain a dragon named Bob to a Prince? What will happen when the rival dragons meet snout to snout? Find out in the first adventure of Delbert Dallas and the Dragon Diaries.
Each story in the series will be released on the 22nd of each month:
#2 Civil War Skirmish
#3 Viva La Francine!
The first in a series of once-monthly releases for reluctant readers, part of the Electric Shorts program for middle-grade kids, is just the beginning of the fun I have writing with alliteration. So what do you think? Do you enjoy reading or writing with allitearation?
Thanks so much for having me here, Margaret!
Jennifer Wylie was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. In a cosmic twist of fate she dislikes the snow and cold.
Before settling down to raise a family, she attained a BA from Queens University and worked in retail and sales.
Thanks to her mother she acquired a love of books at an early age and began writing in public school. She constantly has stories floating around in her head, and finds it amazing most people don’t. Jennifer writes various forms of fantasy, both novels and short stories. Sweet light is her debut novel to be published in 2011.
Jennifer resides in rural Ontario, Canada with her husband, two boys, Australian shepherd a flock of birds and a disagreeable amount of wildlife.
Tell us a little about yourself
I’m a stay at home mom of two darling boys. When I’m not reading or writing (or editing) I putter about with various crafts. Otherwise I try to to be Supermom and keep my chaotic house in some semblance of order. I suppose I should also note I live in Ontario, Canada. Yes we get a lot of snow. I dislike snow. 😛
When did you start writing?
I started writing in public school, but really got into it in high school. It was just something I wanted to do, needed to do. I have so many stories in my head and they need to come out. I did go to university and got a degree, however things happen, as they tend to do, and I ended up being a Mom rather than finding a career. I wouldn’t change that for the world. I didn’t write for a number of years when the kids were little but once they were a bit older, and my brain started functioning again, the need to write came back. Writing is something I can do from home, so I certainly lucked out there. 🙂
Why did you start writing fantasy and science fiction?
I grew up reading fantasy and science fiction from a very early age. I had barely reached my teens before my mother had me reading Pern books. So far I don’t think I have the technical savvy to write sci-fi, so all of my stories are some type of fantasy.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Plot? That word sounds familiar… 🙂 I don’t write things out, or do story boards. I will imagine scenes in my head, like a movie, until they are perfect, and then write them down. Occasionally near the end of a book I will jot down a sentence or two of notes, mostly to make sure I don’t forget to tie up lose ends.
How did you end up with Echelon Press?
I had read about Echelon Press online and found them interesting. I started following them on Twitter and had some nice tweets with Karen there and also in a comments section on another’s blog. I checked out the publishers website, and also the books they’d published so far and thought they would be a great publisher for me. I have been very pleased with everything!
What are you working on now?
I recently finished a young adult fantasy book which has been submitted to my publishers. I’m currently working on a sequel to it. I’m also puttering at a few other books and short stories. I sometimes almost wish my mind would stop coming up with ideas for a while so I could get caught up. 🙂 My second short story to be published in March is currently in edits, so that has been keeping me busy as well.
What’s the hardest thing about writing fantasy?
The hardest part is stopping. There are so many things which can happen it is easy for a book to go on forever. I often have trouble finding an ending, even when I am planning a sequel. Many of my books have turned into a series, at least in the planning stages.
What kind of research do you do, and how?
If I need to research I do so with the most wonderful Google. I rarely research in advance, but do it as I go. Since my books are all in worlds of my creations there often isn’t very much I actually do have to research.
Any advice for other writers?
Always keep writing. You can always improve, and practice helps this. Not only do you need to know how to write, but to edit. Research editing online, make sure you are using correct grammar and punctuation, be wary of being repetitive in your word use. If you can find readers or editors to go over your work then use them. Fresh eyes are always helpful.
If you are searching for a publisher I definitely recommend you create a web presence. Most either require this or it is an added bonus. Have a website, twitter, facebook, blog. Even if you aren’t published yet you can gain followers over time. It is also an excellent way to meet authors, agents and publishers.
Any favorite writers?
I’ve just always loved reading and writing and it just comes to me. I have too many favorite authors to count, and too many supportive loved ones and friends to mention. 🙂 I’m a lucky girl I guess.
Editing, editing, writing, editing… My next short story, The Forgotten Echo was released March 1, and my fantasy novel Sweet Light in May, both through Echelon Press. I’ve a number of shorts and another book also submitted, and am writing away whenever I have the time on new work. I’m currently looking into getting a clone so I have time to mop the floors.
Jump by Jen Wylie
If you were told to jump off of a bridge would you?
Perhaps it would depend on who was doing the asking. Our heroine has spunk and a sense of humor, however suffers from an extreme case of inappropriate clothing. When things take a turn from dangerous to worse what will she do when fantasy becomes reality? Warning: May include hot leather clad men, singing and demons.
Jump is available at :
Barnes & Noble
How long have you been writing and what inspired you to write?
I’ve been writing for almost five years now. I never thought I would be a writer, it just sort of happened. After the birth of my second child, I decided to stay home and quick working. At first, I was okay with being home all the time, but after awhile . . . well let’s just say you can’t go from working 50-hour weeks to not working. So that’s when I decided to write for a hobby and took a course at the Institute of Children’s Literature. Of course, my hobby became more than that.
What is a typical writing day like for you?
I don’t have a typical writing day. Maybe it’s just me, but with children in the house, I find it hard to stick to a schedule. I write and check email when I can. I find I do most my writing when the older kids are in school and the baby is taking a nap. The other time I write is late at night when everyone is sleeping. I tend to run on about five hours of sleep and so far, I’m okay with that. However, I do look forward to the day with I can sleep in and longer.
What was the first thing you ever had published?
A short story about my father as a kid called “Flying Upside Down”. It was published in the Ezine Fandangle Magazine back in 2006. I had a lot of fun writing this story and never thought it would be published because so many people told me your first manuscript never sees the light of day. I guess I was just lucky and a good thing too because seeing my story published only encouraged me to keep going.
Have you had any training to become a writer?
Yes and no. I say no because I never went to college to become a writer and didn’t major or minor in anything related to writing. The only classes I’ve taken is the general course at The Institute of Children’s Literature, some workshops at conferences—both online and in person—and from being in critique groups. I have also being learning a lot being on the editor side. One thing I’ve learned about writing is you never stop learning. No matter how long you’ve been doing it.
Do your children inspire any of books, characters, or plots?
My children have inspired some of the short stories I’ve written and I do have one picture book based on my five-year-old. But, most of my writing is based off my own childhood, family members, or friends. It’s not that my kids don’t give me ideas for stories. I just haven’t used it yet. I guess I just need more hours in the day so I can write more.
Can you share with us a little about your most recent book?
My most recent book is Babysitting SugarPaw. This is also my first picture book. Babysitting SugarPaw was published in the late summer of 2009. It’s a picture book about a little bear named SugarPaw who hopes to get rid of his babysitter, Bonnie Whiskers, by getting her into trouble after making changes to his rules chart. As this loving story unfolds, SugarPaw learns about honesty and friendship.
Babysitting SugarPaw, with its child-centered plot on getting to know others, is the perfect book for little ones scared of being left alone with a babysitter for the first time and is endorsed by MommyPR.com. You can read the review at http://www.mommypr.com/index.php/2009/08/babysitting-sugarpaw-book-review-giveaway/
Kevin Scott Collier, who has won awards for his illustrations, did a wonderful job. Each illustration really brings the story alive for children ages 3 to 8, especially for those who like to create mischief.
Your readers can find out more about Babysitting SugarPaw at http://vsgrenier.com/BabysittingSugarPaw.aspx
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Sitting down and just letting my mind wonder. I love going back and reading what I wrote. Sometimes I love it and other times I hate it. Either way, I’m creating something that my family can look at after I’m gone. I guess you could say my writing is my way of leaving a bit of myself for future generations.
What is the most difficult part of writing?
Finding the time to write all the things I hear in my head. I find it hard sometimes to sleep because a character will be talking to me about a new scene or storyline. It’s crazy I know. I’m worried that if I don’t ever get it all down on paper . . . my family will lock me away in my old age because of the voices in my head.
What is the best writing advice you ever received?
Only you as the author know what’s best for your manuscript, and to look at critiques and criticism as a learning experience to help you hone your skills. You don’t always have to revise based on suggestions, however, if more than one person points out a problem area . . . then it’s time to take a workshop to help you fix it.
And here is some writing advice I give writers. The rules of writing are like the Pirates Code . . . meaning their more like guidelines and it’s okay to break rules if you break them in a way that only enhances your manuscript.
Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?
I have two picture books and two YA novels I’m working on in whatever spare time I get throughout the week. One of the picture books is almost ready for submission. It’s about a little girl who can’t whistle. The story is based off my childhood. The others are still being fine-tuned so I don’t want to say anything about them in case I make some major changes.
Tell us about your writing space?
I have pretty big area compared to what most of my writing friends have. I’m lucky to have a bonus room in my house where my office is. Of course, that means the whole family likes to join me from time to time or I get to listen to the play by play of my son’s computer games. LOL. I have an L-shaped writing desk with drawers for all the SFC files, contracts, etc. Then, to my right is another computer desk tucked into a wall of bookshelves. This is where my kids do their homework, play online, and where my sisters or brother come to get their high school/college work done as well. Even my dad pops in to use the extra computer from time to time. It’s funny, hardly anyone, besides myself, my mom and husband, touch the books.
Behind my writing/computer desk is a futon couch, the TV with the Wii, my daughters’ dollhouse, the toy box with Thomas the Tank Engine stuff, and the air hockey table. You can say this office gets a lot of action and not all of it is writing! It’s also how you access our backyard.
The world of children’s book publishing is extremely competitive, with many authors hesitating between trying their luck with a traditional publisher or self publishing. What advice would you offer writers who are oscillating between these two publishing venues?
Virginia, what tips can you give parents looking to share the love of reading and writing with their child(ren)?
Here are some tips I’ve written for Stanley Bookman to share in Stories for Children Magazine each month.
Visit the library often. Let your child pick out her own books.
Ask your librarian to suggest favorites.
Make book time a special time just for you and your little one.
Let your child see you reading.
Stop for a while if your child loses interest or gets upset. Reading should always be enjoyable.
Children who enjoy books will want to learn how to read and write!
Children learn new words by doing things with you, like talking with you about what is going on around you. Talk about how things work, feelings, and ideas. Reading together every day and talking about the story also helps your child learn more and understand words from their context.
Reading informational books on subjects your children like helps increase their vocabulary. Children with bigger vocabularies become better readers and can more quickly understand the meaning of words in context. Remember, children learn best when they are in a good mood.
Early literacy comes from knowing about reading and writing before a child can actually read and write.
The first words children learn to write often have emotional content. Ignore the niceties of spelling and penmanship . . . for now, at least. The mechanics of writing are taught in elementary school and if your little one isn’t learning this in school yet, don’t worry about it. If they are, then get a children’s dictionary and look up a few of the words together. However, keep in mind a child writes with a lot of personal feelings, thoughts, and emotions. Pointing out mistakes may make a preschooler or young elementary student self-conscious and reluctant to write.
Young children should learn that writing is a useful and enjoyable way to express oneself—and the rest will follow in good time.
What would we be surprised to learn about you?
I went to college to be a fashion buyer and did that for just over 10 years before giving it up to stay home with my children. I’ve worked for some really interesting places like Motherhood Maternity, Frederick’s of Hollywood, Hot Topic, Inc. (I opened the first 5 Torrid stores and helped design them.), L’Occitane, and Brighten Collectibles to name a few.
Also, in high school, I took freshman English three times and my highest grand in English was a C. However, when I did take exams and my S.A.T’s, I scored in top 10 for my class. My problem was I just didn’t want to do the work or go to class. The lesson I learned . . . If you don’t do it right the first time or really hate a subject in school . . . you just might find yourself doing it for a career.
To learn more about Stanley Bookman, the SFC mascot in the World of Ink visit us at http://storiesforchildrenmagazine.org. The magazine is on hiatus until April 2011, but we have book reviews, tips, fun links, and some other free stuff currently on the site.
For those who love to write and want to learn, they can visit our newest site Stories for Children Publishing, LLC at http://storiesforchildrenpublishing.com. Your readers can also sign up for our FREE newsletter, SFC Newsletter for Writers which is sent out monthly and is full of articles on writing, markets, contest, workshops, conference, and much much more. It was voted one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers in 2009 by Writer’s Digest.
If your readers would like to learn more about me, my writing services, school visits, and my books . . . they can visit me at http://vsgrenier.com
And lastly, there is the SFC: Families Matter blog. Here families can get information on just about anything. We talk about vacations on a budget to helping children in school. Visit us bi-weekly at http://familiesmatter2us.blogspot.com/
It was a pleasure sharing Babysitting SugarPaw and my writing with you and your readers. Thank you again for having me on your blog.