Friday, September 30, 2011

Interview with Margery Scott


Hi everyone! I'm so pleased to introduce you to Indie author Margery Scott as my guest blogger!


Here is a little background on Margery Scott straight from the author:

"For me, writing in only one genre is like eating only one kind of candy. Boring. A late bloomer, I didn't start writing until I found herself with an empty nest, some free time, and an old standard typewriter my father found somewhere I'd rather not think about. I still have the empty nest (except for my husband) although now it's on a lake far away from the city, the typewriter has been replaced by a computer, and free time is a thing of the past. I write all across the genre board as the muse and the mood hit me, but these days I tend to stick to either historical romance or romantic suspense. When I'm not writing or traveling in search of the perfect setting for my next novel, you can usually find me wielding a pair of knitting needles or a pool cue.

I love to hear from my readers. Contact me through my website at http://www.margeryscott.com/ or directly at margery@margeryscott.com.

You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter."

Thank you so much for being here today Margery! Readers, Margery is offering a free copy of one of her books to someone who comments on the blog today. So don't be shy! We want to hear from you.

I asked Margery a few questions and here is what she had to say...

Lisa: Tell us how you got started writing.

Margery: I wish I could say I'm one of those writers who can't not write, whose brain is filled with ideas, plot points and dialogue, and who knew she'd be a writer almost as soon as she could hold a pencil. Not so. I didn't realize what I wanted to be when I grew up until I was in my forties, which only goes to show it's never too late to go after your dreams.

As a kid, I lived on television - westerns and cop shows. In high school, I detested English literature and history. So, doesn't it make perfect sense that I'd write historical romances and romantic suspense?

Lisa: You write in many different genres. Don't you find it difficult to switch time periods and voices?

Margery: I'd find it much more difficult to only write in one genre. I get bored easily, both in my life and in my writing. I thrive on change. I'm interested in so many historical periods and settings that restricting myself to one setting would really stifle my creativity. I trust my muse, and tend to write whatever genre she's in the mood for .

The first two books I self-published, EMMA'S WISH and WILD WYOMING WIND, are western historical romances. The third, WINTERLUDE, is a contemporary romance set in a Vermont ski lodge. My latest book, DEVIL'S HARVEST, is a romantic suspense with a medical theme. For now, I'll be sticking with romantic suspense, but I do have an idea for a time travel to medieval Scotland niggling at my brain.

Lisa: What inspired you to write Devil's Harvest?

Margery: Beginner writers are often told to "write what you know." Even though I'd been writing for quite some time, it's still much easier write an occupation or a setting you're intimately familiar with. For me, it's hospitals and medicine. All my adult life, I've worked around medical students, interns and residents. I'm well aware of the stress, the fatigue, the pressure to be the best. Taryn is such a resident, dedicated and driven to be the best she can be, no matter what. I can't really say more than that without giving the plot away

Lisa: What was your favorite part about writing Devil's Harvest?

Margery: I loved watching the relationship betweenTaryn and Luke change and grow. Opposites attract, remember? Taryn is a woman who believes only in facts, while Luke trusts his gut instincts. When she meets Luke, he challenges her firmly-held beliefs and through him, she learns to trust again, to believe in something other than an ECG tracing or a laboratory result.

Lisa: Did you identify with any of the characters on a personal level? Or are they completely fictitious?

Margery: In a sense, I can relate to Taryn's drive to be the best. I've been told once or twice that I need to deal with my perfectionist issues

Lisa: What is your next project?

Margery: My next book is a entitled OUT OF TIME, and should be available within the next couple of months. The blurb reads: A sympathy card. A mutilated rag doll. Cryptic messages on an answering machine. Amanda Beckett has no idea why someone is terrorizing her and her daughter, and she has no choice but to ask for help from her ex-husband, Josh, a detective in the Boston police department. As the threats increase, they find themselves running OUT OF TIME to save their daughter's life - and their marriage.

Lisa: Can you tell us a little about your writing process? Do you plot out your stories or fly by the seat of your pants as you write?

Margery: I think of myself as a plotser. The anal-retentive side of me loves charts, graphs, lists. So I start there. I like to write a fairly detailed outline so I don't feel as if I don't know where I'm going. I need to know I have a safety net if I get lost, but if the story is going well, somewhere in the process the outline is forgotten and my muse takes over, often leading me in the opposite direction of where I planned to go.

Lisa: What's a typical writing day for you?

Margery: I could say I'm super-disciplined and treat writing like a day job, but I'd be lying. I am an early riser so I do get a head start on email and posting on Facebook and Twitter. I try to write until about 9 am, then have breakfast with hubby, then head back to the computer for a couple of hours. The rest of the day is filled with errands and home repair (we're gutting and renovating a house on a lake). I have discovered sprinting with friends, and it is an amazing tool. We meet in a chat room, write in 20-minute segments, chat/brainstorm for 10 minutes. Repeat.

Lisa: How has your experience with self-publishing been?

Margery: I'll be completely honest. I'm not getting rich but I love having complete control over my stories, from the cover design to the type font to whether or not I add an excerpt from another book as a teaser. And the best part is that readers are finding - and hopefully, enjoying - my stories.

Lisa: Do you take ideas from real life to write your stories?

Margery: All my ideas come from real life in some form or another, whether it's a newspaper clipping, something on Discovery Channel, or even a snippet of conversation I overhear in the supermarket. Ideas are everywhere. The hard part is learning to pay attention. I still struggle with that.

Lisa: Do you have any advice for writers who are just starting out?

Margery: Write. Find a critique group, not your mother or your sister who will stroke your ego. Find people you trust to tell you the truth. Write more. Enter contests. Write more. Submit.

Lisa: Do you have any advice for authors who are interested in taking the plunge into self-publishing?

Margery: Write a quality book!!! Publishing a book yourself doesn't mean you can skimp on quality. A fabulous cover is important, so if you can't do it yourself, find the best cover artist you can afford. Make sure the book is well edited and proofread. Nothing will turn off readers faster than a book riddled with grammar/spelling errors. And most of all, enjoy the ride!

Lisa: Thank you so much, Margery! Devil's Harvest sounds like a great book. Where can readers get it?

Margery: Devil's Harvest can be found at Amazon, Smashwords, All Romance Ebooks


*****Congratulations to Chris Andersen who one a copy of a Margery Scott book. Please contact Margery Scott at margeryscott@gmail.com to claim your prize.   
Lisa Mondello

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Petit Fours and Hot Tamales!

Hey, all!

I'm blogging over at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales today, talking about writing what you know. Stop by for a chance to win the entire Fate with a Helping Hand series!

http://petitfoursandhottamales.com/2011/09/lisa-mondello-guest-chef/

See you there!
Lisa Mondello

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Story Behind the Story: Guest Blogger Sandra McGregor



I'm so excited to introduce you to Sandra Elzie who writes fiction under the pen name Sandra McGregor.

Author Bio:
Sandra Elzie was challenged by her husband in 2001 to not wait until retirement in 2005 to start writing the book he had been hearing about almost since they had been married. Picking up the gantlet he had thrown down, she spent the next 8 years honing her craft and finishing 21 manuscripts—two of which have been published by Avalon Books under that name.

Writing under the name of Sandra McGregor, she has published several e-pub books and more will be added to Kindle & Nook in the very near future.

She now lives in South Georgia with her husband and cat and enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with her children and grandchildren.

http://.www.sandraelzie.com/


Sandra is going to tell us a little about the story behind her books in the Duty Free series. So good to have you Sandra! Take it away!


Lisa




THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY
By: Sandra Elzie
(e-books published under Sandra McGregor)

Good morning and a big “Hey Y’all!” from down here in the beautiful state of Georgia. Thank you so much for inviting me to join you today and I hope to “meet” some of you and get acquainted.

My writing journey started at an early age when I wrote five-page stories and thought how cool it would be to sell my stories for five dollars. Boy did I have delusions of grandeur!

But, life happened and I got married, became a mother, had a career and eventually, started looking forward to retirement. For the last seven years or so of our careers, hubby and I dreamed about retiring in 2005 and spending six months touring the U.S. before we moved from the West Coast to the East Coast. Big plans. (BTW, we did the six-month tour AND the move)

In 2001, on the way to work, once again I started talking about the book I would write once I’d retired, but on this particular day, he threw down a gauntlet and challenged me to take half the time I spent reading and watching television, and start writing. He said I didn’t have to be retired. Thus began my journey to publication. To date, I’ve sold two books to Avalon, The Diplomatic Tutor and In Daddy’s Shoes and I recently self-published four (soon to be six) books, under the pen name of Sandra McGregor, through Smashwords and they are now for sale on Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Pennies On The Dollar, Wrangler For Hire, Into My Dreams and The Duty Series, Book One: Duty Calls and Book Two: Duty Bound. The third book in the series, Duty Free, will be available by the end of September.

I’ve been asked if there’s any part of me in my stories. The answer is always, “yes.” I write what I know…romance…but I’m a very strong personality, so my heroines are also strong. Since my husband is a loving, considerate and dependable man, so are my heroes. But, hold on, because that’s just part of the story.

There is almost always a story behind my stories--tiny bits of my personality, experiences, observations, etc show up in my books. My daughter-in-law is adopted, so you’ll find adoption in a couple of my books. In Daddy’s Shoes, it’s loosely based on my daughter’s best friend who had a small son and her husband committed suicide. The book covers some of the issues the young boy faced when he felt he needed to be the man of the house at ten-years old and take care of his mother and then her challenges in allowing another man into her life and around her son.

Also, my son-in-law is an accomplished Ironman tri-athlete—as is my daughter—so you’ll see some of my heroes and heroines being athletic and participating in marathons or triathlons.

I just self-published the first in a three-part e-book series about three Air Force men (Duty Calls, Duty Bound and Duty Free) and the hero in the first book is loosely based on my son-in-law, who is an Air Force pilot, and it includes his participation in marathons and his goal to do an Ironman race. (He has since done several Ironman races since I originally wrote that book in 2002, including one this past month that he and my daughter participated in)

I don’t think it’s unusual for authors to put a bit of themselves in their novels, and I’d venture to say that some authors, (myself included), put a LOT of themselves in their books. But, you know what? The closer the subject is to the heart of the author, the more interesting it is to write that book, and, hopefully, that makes it more interesting to read.

Thanks again for letting me visit with you today and I’d love for all of you to join me for a cup of coffee at the local Starbucks, but since that’s not possible, I guess I’ll have to settle for sending one of you a $5.00 Starbucks gift card. All you have to do is leave a comment to be eligible. ALSO: If you have an e-reader (or have downloaded the Kindle program to your computer) I’d love to send you a copy of one of my e-books…your choice.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_9?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=by+sandra+mcgregor&sprefix=by+Sandra

You can learn more about Sandra Elzie at her website: http://www.sandraelzie.com/

Or on her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/Sandra-McGregor/e/B005LXGXZM/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

___

Thank you so much Sandra. Oh, man, I'll join you in a Starbucks coffee! I'm always up for that. Please leave a comment so can get a chance to win a Starbucks gift certificate!

Lisa




********




Update: The Winner from yesterday's drawing is Carol Burnside AKA Annie Rayburn. Congratulations!!!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Writing Without a Compass - The Pantser

For some years I've given a workshop on Writing Profiles. After years of writing and talking with other writers about the writing process, it was only while teaching 1st and 2nd graders writing that I discovered that even at a very early age, our patterns of writing are set. It's almost like a fingerprint that stays with you for life. In other words, how you approached your writing when you were 6 is how you approach your writing now. No fooling!

There are 4 basic Writing Profiles; Linear Writer, Plotter, Pantser, and Puzzler. When I refer to these profiles, I'm talking about the way a writer approaches writing their FIRST draft. Revisions are a whole different ball game.

As a first draft writer I am a puzzler through and through. When I'm working on a story it comes to me in pieces. I have an opening, possibly a scene in the middle somewhere and the ending. I can't even tell you how many story ideas are sitting on my hard drive with an opening and ending already written and nothing in between. They'll get written eventually. (If I can add a few more hours on to my day, maybe a little sooner.) Some writers would be boggled by this process. For me it works.

Over the coming weeks I'm going to go into detail about all 4 writing profiles. But for today I'm going to talk a little bit about the PANTSER. As you might have guessed from the title of this blog that a pantser is a writer who writes without a compass.

Pantsers are cool. They constantly live in the ZONE. No walls. No barriers. The whole world is open to them. They're the writer that loves to sit at the computer and let inspiration take them from Massachusetts to California and zigzag back before they reach Ohio. Never mind that they never had to drive through the Rocky Mountains at all. But they do it to find their way. And they eventually do find their way.

It's not uncommon for a pantser to set out to write a 400 page manuscript and end up writing 500 or 600 pages before they reach the end. They throw everything in there as it comes to them and just cut what's not working when they get to the revision stage. If you're a pantser you'd better be really comfortable cutting chunks of your work out, even if what you've written is brilliant. If you've goine to California and California doesn't belong in your manuscript, it's got to go.

Another problem pantsers have is writing that dreaded synopsis BEFORE the book is written. If you need to write a full manuscript before you go to contract, no problem. Write the book and then write the synopsis. But once you get to a point of selling your work on proposal or even using a treatment/synopsis, you need to be able to put together a story that has a cohesive and compelling beginning, middle and end in order to get that contract. For the pantser, this is torture. Many pantsers would rather give themselves a root canal than write a synopsis.

One author that has had much success being a pantser is Hannah Howell. During a workshop on Writing Profiles that I did for the Rhode Island RWA group, she told me that she learned a long time ago that she needed to make a list. That list consistent of what she needed to have in her manuscript and in what order. We went back and forth over whether or not that was her way of making a road map/synopsis and she said no, it's a list. Just a list. Whatever you want to call it, it works for Hannah Howell and her books are fabulous. Rock on, girl!

I'm a firm believer in graphic organizers, be it the 3 Act Structure template filled in with scenes and turning points, or sticky notes posted on a wall. Whatever works. It really doesn't matter which "tool" you use. Any tool will work. But if you're a plotter you're going to approach that writing tool different than if you're a pantser.

For instance, let's take a character chart. A plotter will fill in every single detail of that character chart and still want more room to add what the character's favorite food was for breakfast when he was six. Not that we really need to know that. But the plotter will add it. A pantser may know the color of the character's eyes and color hair. Where a plotter will have ink all over the page before even sitting down to write, a pantser can use that same character chart to fill in detail along the way as inspiration strikes. At the end of the manuscript the pantser knows almost as much about that character as the plotter did at the beginning. They both get to Ohio.

Pansters sometimes have difficulty with revisions, too. Since they're all over the place, it's hard to see the entire arc of a story without going off on tangents. While it may be time consuming, it's really not a waste of time. It's just their process.

Are you a pantser? What writing tools do you use? What works and what drives you crazy? Let me know!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New Release...New Series...

I'm very excited to tell you that I've just rereleased my first book All I Want for Christmas is You on eBook for Kindle and Nook for only 99 cents! All I Want for Christmas is You is the first book in my new Fate with a Helping Hand series that includes All I Want for Christmas is You, The Marriage Contract and a brand new book called The Knight and Maggie's Baby.
All I Want for Christmas is You...

Sometimes fate needs a little hand...
Santa is going to have a rough season... Lauren Alexander is raising her daughter alone. Abandoned by her family for her decision to keep her daughter, Kristen, she has done a pretty good job alone for the last six years. Or she thought she had. That's why she is crushed when little Kristen gives up her wish for a toy or goodie and instead asks Santa for a present for her mother. She wants Santa to bring a Daddy. Delivering Daddies isn't Santa's bag.
But this Santa has a plan...
Kyle Preston knows what it is like to be abandoned too. Luckily he found the support of loving adoptive parents and has turned himself into one of the most successful real estate developers in town.
Building a house is easy. Building someones trust is a whole other story. But with a little helping hand, a little Christmas magic can make all the difference in the world.
All I Want for Christmas is You is available on Kindle and Nook for only 99 cents!

Good Reads Review

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