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Author: Christi Corett
Christi‘s Question: At the beginning, what made you decide to sit down and actually start writing something? Christi‘s Response: First, I’d like to give a big thank you to Karen for allowing me to participate in her Asking Authors series! I truly appreciate her sharing her readers with me as I celebrate the release of Tainted Dreams, a clean Historical Western Romance about settlers who survived the Oregon Trail, only to discover a whole new set of problems as they stake claims in Oregon Territory.
It’s a little wonder I got the idea for my books (my debut novel, Along the Way Home, shows the struggles of crossing the 1843 Oregon Trail.Tainted Dreams is the standalone sequel) while on a cross-country road trip. Allow me to set the scene…
My fiancé (now husband) and I were traveling from Green Bay, Wisconsin to Marysville, Washington. We’re driving my 1992 Hyundai Excel and the backseat and hatchback are loaded to the windows with all my worldly possessions.
As an extra bonus, my husband is 6 feet 4 inches tall. Plus it’s February, and since the middle of winter in the Midwest is brutally cold we’re sporting layers of long underwear, flannel shirts, and puffy coats.
We decided to take our time and stopped off at a number of landmarks, including Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, and Wall Drug. By the time we reached the Montana border my hubby was ready to rip out the front seat and drive from the back one and I was beyond bored.
Around mid-Montana I started whining about how long it was taking, how there was nothing to do but sit, and how the scenery never changed. Mid-complaint it hit me—we were traveling in one hour what would take nearly three days to accomplish in the 1800’s. (Recall we’d just come from Wall Drug in South Dakota so I think “the old times” were fresh on my mind.) I whipped out my notebook and the ideas just started flowing.
Soon I had pages and pages of notes and ideas about a possible book. Here’s the actual first line that started it all: A fantastic idea just occurred to me in light of the journey I have just taken…
Occasionally I will pull out that same notebook to see how far I’ve come. (For starters, I learned using the same word twice in one sentence is a big no no.) The descriptions for the two main characters are completely different from what Jake and Kate are now and there wasn’t one mention of a covered wagon or the Oregon Trail, but the basic idea was there. Make it about a man and a woman who travel west, each for their own reasons, to start a new life. And from that moment two separate, but connected, books were born.
Author: Helen Pollard
Helen‘s Question: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing your books? Helen‘s response: As a world-class cynic, I was surprised to find I had such a strong romantic streak. And I don’t do it tongue-in-cheek, either – romance is a serious business. I have to wholeheartedly believe my characters will find their way and each other. My rebellious teenage self would be rolling her eyes in embarrassment, but I guess there’s nothing wrong with softening a little with age! I have other works in progress that are not full-on romances, more the story of a character’s journey through a difficult patch or a turning point in their life … but somehow the romance creeps in a little – or at least, the promise of romance. It’s hard to keep a good thing down!
Author: Krysten Lindsay Hager
Krysten‘s Question: What’s more important: characters or plot? Krysten‘s answer: A lot of people would say plot drives a story, but for me it’s the characters because I think we can connect with characters and they can make us feel emotions. A lot of plots are pretty standard and some people would say a lot of books have the same old storyline: boy meets girl, etc. But if you truly get attached to a character in a book that is what makes that plotline just come alive. Gone with the Wind is an example of a great character who brings out emotions and sparks passion in people. The storyline itself is interesting, but what do you think of when you hear the title—the war or Scarlett? And there have been a lot of great boy meets girl books throughout the years, but the ones with dynamic characters are the ones that really stick out. For instance when I say the name, “Holly Golightly,” that stands out more than the actual plot to the book, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In a way, having an amazing character for a story is like casting just the right actor for a part that makes the whole film or show come alive. One thing a lot of people talk about with my Landry’s True Colors Series is how they connect with my main character, Landry, as well as two of her friends in particular, Peyton and Ashanti. I get comments in reviews and emails about how readers feel for Landry, cringe when she goes through difficult (or embarrassing) moments, and laugh and cry with her. So for me it’s all about a character driven book.
Author: Wendy May Andrews
Question for Wendy: At the beginning, what made you decide to sit down and actually start writing something? Wendy‘s response: I have been an avid bookworm since I learned to read around the age of four or five. My mom gave me her old copy of Anne of Green Gables when I was ten and I have been absorbed in novels ever since. My aunt got me hooked on Regencies by introducing me to the works of Georgette Heyer. When I was single I read multiple books each week. And then I got married. My husband is not an avid reader. Obviously he knows how to read and does it when necessary for work and such. We even took a literature course together at the University of Toronto and he did really well. But he does not read for pleasure and cannot comprehend my love of books. He especially doesn’t understand how I can become so absorbed in a book that the house could fall down around me and I wouldn’t notice. So in frustration he told me I ought to write a book instead of reading them all the time. At first I didn’t think I could, although I had written while in school. But then I saw it as a challenge and put my butt in the chair and tried it out. Now he has created a monster and I have come to love writing almost as much as reading J I’ve often read quotes where authors say that your first work should never get published. While I now understand what is meant by those statements since I have learned so much since writing that first book, if it hadn’t been published five years ago, I’m pretty sure I would have given up by now because the publishing world sure does have its challenges. But I love the world of books and am thrilled to be here. And I love the irony that I have my non book loving husband to thank for it.
Author: J Andersen
Jessie’s question: Have you ever written anything that you thought would be controversial and found it wasn’t? Or was it? J. Andersen’s response: “YES! It seems like everything I write is controversial. At What Cost, which is published by Astraea Press, now Clean Reads, tackles the topic of teen pregnancy and abortion. There’s no way I wouldn’t ruffle a few feathers with that one. But surprisingly, I had a very positive response to it. I’ve only had one glaringly ugly review, which I left in place, even though it is filled with spoilers. I knew going into writing the story that coming at the abortion topic in the way I did (I won’t tell you how, that’ll ruin the surprise) would make people uncomfortable. But I also think that we tiptoe around controversial issues, worried we’re going to offend someone. Guess what? We will… offend someone, that is. It’s inevitable. We should accept that fact, get over it and write what’s in our bones to write.”
Kathleen‘s question: What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received? Kathleen said, “The best writing advice I ever received came from Joseph Campbell. He said, ‘Greatness comes from looking into the eye of the tiger.’”
Michael‘s question: Who, or what, first inspired you to write? He answered, “My dear old friend, Gaydell Collier, stuck the largest thorn in my side. When I said, ‘I’ve always wanted to write a book,’ she said, ‘Then hadn’t you best be about it?’”
Author: Aldrea Alien
Aldrea’s question: At the beginning, what made you decide to sit down and actually start writing something? Her response: “It was more of an accident. I was solidifying back-story and world-building for what was originally a pair of role playing characters my friend and I used to do (a silly thing where my characters would bumble around her world and hers would do the same in mine). After twenty thousand words with no end in sight, naive twelve-year-old me thought “why don’t I just turn it into a book?” Heh. It took a long time to get the story right, a lot of determination, but I think that, if it wasn’t for the spark those characters made, I probably wouldn’t still be writing their story.”
Author: Sandy Bruney
Sandy’s question: Have you ever written anything that you thought would be controversial and found it wasn’t? Or was it? Her response: “I thought when I switched from women’s contemporary to fantasy/paranormal I would lose my readers. To my surprise they read the new book and loved it.”
Author: Heather Gray
Heather’s question: What’s more important: characters or plot? Her answer, “Characters are absolutely more important! No matter how good your plot is, if your characters are flat, annoying, or underdeveloped, readers won’t be able to relate to them and the plot will fail. Well-written characters have depth – including virtues, quirks, and flaws. That depth allows readers to relate to and become invested in the characters’ journey through the pages of the story (be it hero or villain). Characters that jump off the page and come to life can carry a weak plot, but a strong plot has a much more difficult time overcoming the shortcoming of badly written characters. No matter how fantastic the plot is, if the readers don’t care about what happens to the characters, the book as a whole will be forgettable. Having said that, as writers, we should all strive to provide the best of both. This isn’t a career that lends itself to shortcuts on either front.
Author: Iris Blobel
Question for Iris: If you were to do your career as an author again, what would you do differently, and why? Her response, “That’s a great question. Because my first book was really only meant for family and friends, I only invested the cash I had at hand. There’s no doubt, I had a great editor, but having written a few more books, I’d love to re-write a few chapters. The whole idea of POV and backstory for example – I had no idea. And it’s so important. I’m learning more with each book I write, so by the time I’m going to be 80 years old, I should theoretically write that bestseller ♥.”
Author: Lucia St Clair Robson
Lucia St. Clair Robson is best known for her historical fiction novels.
Lucia‘s question: What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received? Her response, “Hard to decide between the two best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard: 1) when beginning a book say to yourself “The trouble all started when…”and go from there. But for simplicity and brevity, my favorite advice is from Mark Twain: 2) “The road to Hell is paved with adverbs.”
Author: Page Lambert
Page Lambert has been “writing nature” since the mid-80s. Her memoir, IN SEARCH OF KINSHIP, was once named “one of the summer’s hottest reads” by the Rocky Mountain News, and SHIFTING STARS was a Mountains and Plains Book Award finalist. In 2012, Page won a CAL Writing Award.
Page‘s question: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing your books? Her answer, “Writing books isn’t about putting down what you think you know. It’s starting with what you know, then entering the huge world of what you don’t know, then trying to lasso all that new knowledge back into the body of your work without creating a monster. I never realized that writing would expand my world so much, yet at the same time challenge me to rein it all in!
Author: Ian Wilson
Ian Wilson, author of the ‘Railway’ series, a non-fiction collection of the steam railway operations of Ontario Canada, and also the new ‘Angus Wolfe’ mystery series beginning with THE SECRET OF THE OLD SWING BRIDGE. More information on Ian and his books can be found at www.ianwilson-author.com
Ian‘s question: At the beginning, what made you decide to sit down and actually start writing something? He said, “I was dumped by my first girlfriend (in university). To deal with the heartbreak, I started writing a journal, which had been recommended by a self-help book. The girlfriend is long forgotten, but I’ve now been keeping the journal over 30 years. It took me quite awhile, through some ten published books, to realize that I became a writer the day I started keeping a journal.”
Author: Michele Barrow-Belisle
Michele Barrow-Belisle has written several books, including FIRE & ICE which has been optioned for the big screen by Khando Entertainment. Congratulations Michele! Find out more about Michele by visiting her website at michelebelisle.blogspot.com/
Michele‘s question: Have you ever written anything that you thought might be controversial and found it wasn’t? Or was it? Michele said, “I haven’t actually published anything controversial yet, but I am in the process of writing something that gave me a moment of pause. It’s a YA historical paranormal romance, and one of the central themes centers around religion and beliefs. It takes place in a world where there is zero religious tolerance, and shows the rising up of those who have a different belief set. Of course, the hero and heroine who rule this realm, are on opposing sides and must find a balance and room for their differing opinions. I worried while writing it (and still wonder) how it’s going to be received, but so far my beta readers are barely noticing the subject at all. No one felt offended or put off by it, so I admit I was a little relieved. I guess we’ll see what others think once it’s released!”
Author: Alethea Williams
Alethea Williams writes historical novels about Wyoming.
Alethea‘s question: If you were to do your career as an author again, what would you do differently, and why? Her response, “If I had my career as an author to do over again, I would have explored the advantages of self-publishing sooner. I was afraid to take on all the responsibility of a website, a blog, promotion on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. And guess what? I have had to learn to do all those things for myself anyway, because the publishers I’ve dealt with expend little to no effort promoting their authors. From now on, instead of 10, 15, or even 25%, all earnings from my new books will go directly to me.”
Author: Bill Groneman
William (Bill) Groneman, at the time of his retirement, was the company commander of Engine Company 308 and worked at Ground Zero just hours after the attack on the world Trade Center on September 11, 2001. A longtime student of the battle of the Alamo he has written books and articles exploring some of the myths and misconceptions of it. Death of a Legend is the first book to compile all the accounts, debates, and legends relating to Davy Crockett’s death.
Bill‘s question: If you were to do your career as an author again, what would you do differently, and why? His response, “First of all, I wouldn’t say “author” I would say “writer,” because to quote my hero John Steinbeck, ‘I don’t know what an author does.’ Anyway, among many things I would do differently, I would start earlier. I’ve always loved books, even as a kid, (to the point of being accused of being a “book worm”) and I’ve always thought how great it would be to write a book. Well, in my wrapped-too-tight childhood, I somehow got the idea that you couldn’t be a writer until you were about 40 years old. Don’t ask, I don’t know why. I should have started writing earlier even without thought of getting published and just wrote whatever I wanted and not worry about what other people thought I should write. I don’t think I would have told anyone I wanted to be a writer. In the blue-collar New York City neighborhood in which I grew up that would have been akin to announcing you wanted to be a ballet dancer. It invited trouble.”
Author: Clayton Emery
Clayton‘s question: At the beginning, what made you decide to sit down and actually start writing something? His answer, “Robin Hood. Always loved RH as a kid, tried to read every book and see every show/movie. But 90% of books were just retellings of the origins, and the few original adventures were spare. I’d always been interested in storytelling, and one day mused, “Why doesn’t someone write a really rich detailed exciting Robin Hood book?” And as they say, “That ‘someone’ should be you.” So I started scribbling and was lucky enough to interest an editor. Still writing, now screenplays, where the same applies. “Write the movie YOU want to see.”
Author: David W. Landrum
Question for David: What’s more important: characters or plot? David said, “Characters are more important. Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird, once said start writing the characters and the plot will form. I’ve found this to be generally true. The characters guide the book’s development.