Below are the latest (fabulous) reviews from today’s blog tour: day six of seven.
The lovely Sarah Hardy, over at my publisher (I’ll never tire of saying that!), has announced that the first in my serial shopping list series is available to request over on NetGalley.
“A laugh out loud read you will not want to miss!” (no pressure) 🙂 See https://www.netgalley.co.uk/catalog/book/143039 and for more details about my book, click here.
Yes! I’m beyond excited… my women’s fiction novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping List has been picked up by Bombshell Books, an imprint of Bloodhound Books! It’ll be published on Thursday 12th July 2018, available online and from all good bookshops (so do support your local bookshop and ask for your copy). 🙂
– Tagline: 31 men in 31 days what could possibly go wrong?
– Short blurb: Given the challenge of dating 31 men in 31 days by boss William, technology journalist Isobel soon realises that her list of ‘wants’ and the reality of the men she meets are eons apart. Will she meet the man of her dreams or does the mix of the weird and wonderful instil in her that she’s destined to be single?
– Long blurb: Isobel MacFarlane is a recently-turned-40 journalist who usually writes a technology column for a newspaper based in Northampton, England, but her somewhat-intimidating boss, William, has set her the task of meeting 31 men, via a local internet dating site, all within a month. Having an active, though fruitless, social life with her friend and ‘Health & Beauty’ colleague Donna, she knows what she wants in a man, so creates a shopping list of dos and don’ts, and starts ticking them off as she meets Mr Could Be Right Except For, Mr Not Bad, Mr Oh My Goodness and Mr Oh So Very Wrong. Follow the ups (there are a few) and downs (there are many) of the dating process and intertwined with her experiences, get to know her colleague and family, including her niece Lola who, apart from being an amazing storyteller, can eat ambidextrously whilst wearing a Princess glove puppet on her right hand, and Baby, William’s non-too-healthy African Grey parrot.
And you can watch John Scotcher read the first chapter… click the ‘play’ icon in the screen below…
Welcome to the five hundred and seventy-eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with multi-genre author JM Powers. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, JM. Please tell us something about yourself.
JM: Hi there! Though not my intention when I picked a pen name, everyone calls me JM. At first I found it weird, but it’s grown on me. (Call me Jeannie if you want to use my real name.) I’m based in Upstate New York near Niagara Falls, USA. Might I add I live on an island? Cool, huh?
Morgen: Me too (Britain), but probably a bit bigger than yours. 🙂 How did you come to be a writer?
JM: I came to be a writer more out of a need than a choice really. My father was in the Air Force, therefore, we moved every couple of years. I wrote stories while sitting in the back seat of our old station wagon to entertain myself on the long rides from one air base to the next. (I read them out loud to my siblings, but the only one that took an interest was my baby sister.) As I grew older, writing became an integral part of me—I suppose it always was, but as a child, I didn’t realize it. I thought my siblings were the weird ones. I couldn’t imagine why they would let a day go by without creating a new character or scene. Yeah, now I know I was the odd man (er…girl) out.
Morgen: What a lovely story. 🙂 I came to writing fiction in my late 30s and now feel a bit like you; that everyone should be writing so they can see how wonderful it is. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
JM: I’m a genre junkie. Though my first love is historical romance (excuse the pun), I delve into fantasy, sweet romance, erotic romance, women’s fiction, and even non-fiction. I’m constantly learning something new in the writing world. There is no such thing as polishing a craft too much.
Morgen: Absolutely. I often hear established writers saying they’re still learning. That’s life for you; always something new. What have you had published to-date? Do you always write as JM?
JM: Currently I have six books published under two pseudonyms: Summer Falls and J.M. Powers
Stellar Surprise (my first publication in 2009) I entered an international contest. When I received an email from the publisher, my husband had to pry the laptop from my hands to see why I was hyperventilating. A book contract became reality and I haven’t stopped since. Here is my current list:
- Stellar Surprise (Summer Falls, Breathless Press 2009) http://www.breathlesspress.com/stellar-surprise
- Basket of Hope (Summer Falls, Breathless Press 2010) http://www.breathlesspress.com/basket-hope
Magic Stone Series (Beautiful Trouble 2012)
- For All Time
- Timeless Valentine
- Margery’s Time
- Jewel of Ramstone (https://beautifultroublepublishing.com/xcart/Jewel-of-Ramstone-EBOOK.html)
(All books also available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon)
Jewel of Ramstone, a medieval romance will be released this summer. (Updates @ http://JMPowersRomance.blogspot.com)
Morgen: Congratulations. 🙂 Are your books available as eBooks? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of journaling, is brought to you by multi-genre author Karen Robbins.
Creative Travel Journaling
The Tools. When a computer has a problem with memory, you can install another chip. Unfortunately that’s not the case with the human brain. Therefore do take some type of recording tool with you as you tour and explore.
For me, recording on the go requires pen, paper, and camera. I tote a small notebook in which to record interesting tidbits. Background stuff. Things to spark more thought later. I pick up free leaflets or brochures and jot notes on them as well.
My camera is used as much to record written information as to take pictures. I snap a picture of written descriptions on plaques, etc. I can enlarge it with my pictorial software or even on my camera by pushing the zoom button when it’s in view mode. (Digital cameras are a dream). I glean the information I want and delete it later. The advantage: I don’t have to read it all standing there instead of enjoying the views around me–especially in the hot sun or, perish the thought, the rain.
My husband owns an iPad but we rarely use it to take pictures or keep notes. It’s a bit cumbersome to tote along on a tour but if you don’t have a travel computer and want to use a computerized device to journal on, that could be the way to go.
Our iPhones work well when we don’t want to carry the big camera. If you are adept at typing on the touch screen, it’s also a good place to keep notes.
While on the go, you want tools that will help you later to fully record your travel adventure. As my husband always says, a job well done requires the right tool. But then he’s usually off to the hardware store.
The Five Senses. What do the five senses have to do with journaling? Actually a whole lot! A picture may be worth a thousand words but it only goes so far in recording your travel experience. It won’t show what you smelled, tasted, felt, or heard (unless it’s video with sound).
Too often we only use our eyes and forget the other senses. On our river cruise through France, we awoke to find ourselves docked by the little town of Ville des Andelys. The view resembled a Monet painting. Slightly foggy air muted greens, reds, and blues around us like an Impressionist’s painting. What I heard as we walked into town was the morning quiet broken by a single bird calling. What I felt was the fresh dew on my feet.
The memory that lingers though comes from a Y in the road where suddenly the smell of fresh bread surrounded me. The baker was already at work making her baguettes for the day. Nothing tastes better than a fresh baked baguette in the morning. Absolutely heavenly.
Using all your senses will add depth to your journaling. Some smells (dirty barn) and tastes (mate-tea of Argentina) are pungent, revolting, or unappealing but are still a part of your journey. Others like fresh bread, salty sea air, and the scent of pine (ah, Canada) are important elements to include in your journal entries. Soft-needled pine trees in Australia or the skin of a muddy catfish as it wiggles in your hand stimulate the imagination. The cry of a howler monkey in the jungle of Belize sounded like an amplifier gone wild but what an awesome sound. Touch, smell, hear, taste as well as see your world.
Descriptive Language. A picture is worth a thousand words but a few well-chosen words can paint the best pictures.
Sometimes I find it difficult to describe what I see because of the colors. One way to enhance your description is to think of colors in terms of food. It’s something everyone knows. A cherry red door. Ice blue water. Pink cotton candy sunset. Whipped cream clouds. Burnt toast bark.
Like and as are great ways to give reference for better description. The thunder came and went like a noisy car booming the bass from the radio. The catfish felt as slippery as a wet slicker coated in mud.
Use action verbs in your journaling. Avoid was, is and are. The wind howled is a stronger description than there was a strong wind. Mosquitoes feasted on my arms paints a better picture than there were a lot of mosquitoes. Remember my fresh-baked baguette? Fresh bread aroma floated around me, engulfing me in its enticement. Okay maybe a little over the top but a lot better than there was the smell of bread. Rub out adjectives and adverbs with a good action verb.
The Journal. Once you have collected your notes, your pictures, all the things you want to keep as memories you need–the journal!
If you only want a written version, use a nice journal with blank pages and a good pen. If you’d rather use a computer (I do, my handwriting is atrocious) create a file in your word processing program for your travel entries. Find some fancier online journals that allow you to create and write to an online site that can be public or private. Journaling software is available too.
Blog a journal! Blogger.com is free and easy to set up and use. Use privacy settings to make it public or private. My public blog evolved into a travel journal. . . well, one of my travel journals.
I love to make books. I write but I also dabble in photography. My favorite way to document our trips is in a photo book. The photo books are fun to assemble online and allow you to add text for that descriptive language.
And of course if you are a lover of scrapbooking, there is always that option.
That makes me want to travel more (except planes and I don’t get on… anyone got a flying carpet they could lend me?). Thank you, Karen! I also recommend WordPress but then I could be biased. 🙂
Known as the Wandering Writer, Karen Robbins and her husband of forty-four years have stepped foot on all seven continents and have almost circumnavigated the globe. The love of travel was realized fully after their five children were grown and out of the nest and having children of their own. Karen’s travel adventures enrich her writing and her characters often travel in her stories.
Most of her life, Karen has lived in Northeastern Ohio in the U.S. She graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in art education and taught school until her twins arrived. Along life’s path in addition to being a writer and speaker, Karen has been a florist, a candle sales representative, and a paralegal student as well as wife, mother and grandmother.
Karen’s writing career started out with adult take-home papers for Sunday school. In a short time she was writing a column for a local newspaper and eventually for regional magazines. With five other writing moms she met online, she coauthored two books, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts and A Scrapbook of Motherhood Firsts. The Chicken Soup For The Soul books have included several of her stories. Her first love though is writing fiction. She has written women’s fiction and cozy mysteries. Her most recent releases are Murder Among The Orchids and In A Pickle.
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.
The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with non-fiction author and poet Estelle P Shrum – the five hundred and sixtieth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
** NEW!! You can now subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!
or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my Books (including my debut novel!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers.
Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.
Welcome to the four hundred and twenty-fourth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with novelist and scriptwriter Veronica Henry. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Veronica. Lovely to ‘meet’ you. Please tell us how you came to be a writer.
Veronica: I started work on The Archers, as a secretary, when I was about 20. I fell in love with the idea of creating fictional worlds for people to escape to. From there I went on to become a script editor, then a script writer, and wrote hours of television drama before finally getting down to what I really wanted to do: write books!
Morgen: 🙂 I wrote a couple of novels (still in files) before writing a script for the now-sadly-defunct Script Frenzy and, like you, much prefer the novel format. You generally write contemporary women’s novels (or as Amazon says “escapist fiction with an edge”), have you considered (or written) other genres? And have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym?
Veronica: I’ve spent quite a while building up the Veronica Henry brand now so I think it would be dangerous to go too far away from what readers are expecting – but sometimes I think it would be fun to have an alter ego and write something completely different. Maybe something darker; something a bit Fatal Attraction-ish.
Morgen: As a writer of ‘dark’, I’d love to see that. 🙂 Julie Cohen (who was also at this year’s Chipping Norton Literature Festival, as you and I were) writes erotic science fiction as Elektra Shepherd. I have her novella ‘Love Machine’ on eBook but haven’t read it yet but it does sound fun. 🙂 I write a mixture of genres but then I write mostly short stories so that’s easier to do. To-date you’ve had published ‘Making Hay’ (2003), ‘Wild Oats’ (2004), ‘An Eligible Bachelor’ (2005), ‘Honeycote’ (2006), ‘Love on the Rocks’ (2006), ‘A Family Affair’ (2009), ‘Marriage and Other Games’ (2009), ‘The Birthday Party’ (2011) and just recently ‘The Long Weekend’ (2012). Is it still a thrill when a new book comes out and are you ever nervous when submitting or releasing a new book?
Veronica: Absolutely – I think anyone who delivers a book with confidence must be either mad or not as good as they think they are! It’s part of the creative process, to be unsure. But I have a fantastic editor who knows my strengths and my weaknesses, so I look forward to her reaction. Even if I’ve gone wildly off course I know she can fix it. And the first time you hold the first edition of your latest novel in your hand is always special.
Morgen: I’ve self-published eBooks but I hope one day to have that, although I do have a story in a charity anthology so have held a book with my work in it (just slightly more thrilling than seeing a magazine with my work in it). I’m easily pleased. 🙂 Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Veronica: I adore Patrick Liddiard who features in the Honeycote trilogy. He’s self-assured and a little bit wild but he loves his family and will do anything for them. I love how he can be reckless one minute and responsible the next. I love his father Mickey too – he’s charming but feckless. I always saw him as a forty-something Anthony Hopkins – slightly dissolute but with mesmeric eyes.
Morgen: 🙂 What are you working on at the moment / next?
Veronica: I’m working on a book set on the Orient Express – an inspiring setting if ever there was one, but there are no murders in it. Yet.
Morgen: It worked for Agatha Christie. The wonderful thing about the Orient Express is that you could pick any setting that it goes to, and in any era back to the 1880s. Do you manage to write every day?
Veronica: I try to work office hours. The problem is nowadays that the business of being a writer often gets in the way of the actual writing, so you can be working flat out for three days and not have actually got on with the work in progress.
Morgen: When I ask authors of their least favourite aspect of writing these days, most say the marketing… some because of the technology involved but most say how much time it swallows up – we’re writers, deep down all we want to do it write. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Veronica: I often hit a brick wall or fall out of love with what I am writing. I find sleep helps – a lot of the knots untangle themselves in your subconscious.
Morgen: I think it was PD James who said she leaves sentences half-done so she can just pick them up in the morning. I think many writers, especially those early in their career, go to bed with a problem, and probably lose confidence in what they’re writing (I know I do) but then wake up with the solution, or an idea, and then re-read and think it’s not actually that bad (I do often :)) or at least see how to fix it. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Morgen: Isn’t that great, that has to be my favourite aspect, especially when the characters take over. Do you have a method for creating your characters, and what do you think makes them believable?
Veronica: They are very real, very vivid right from the start – but they still surprise me when I write. It’s like getting to know people in real life. You think you know them, and then they turn the tables on you. People you dislike reveal redeeming features; people you adore turn out to have feet of clay … it’s a journey of discovery.
Morgen: I write a short story a day as love it when I can bring back a character, as you say it’s like getting to know them better. I was chatting to Katie Fforde when she judged my writing group’s H.E. Bates short story competition last year as I’d been reading her book ‘Love Letters’ and asked if she was going to do anything with the secondary female character, Monica, and Katie’s face lit up and said she’d thought about it, so I hope she does. What point of view do you find most to your liking?
Veronica: I write in the third person, from an omniscient point of view. Having said that, I have a diary as part of the book I am currently writing, which is obviously first person, and I am really enjoying it – it feels more personal.
Morgen: First person really gets inside the character’s head, doesn’t it. Most books are written in third person omniscient as it seems to be what editors / readers prefer, and is more flexible with telling everyone’s story, but alternate first and third have become popular. You write features and short stories for magazines, do you write any poetry?
Veronica: I don’t write poetry now – although a friend found a poem I had written for our school mag and posted it on Facebook recently, about an abandoned gypsy caravan. I think it’s probably best if I stick to books …
Morgen: Oh dear. 🙂 Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Veronica: I think it’s vital to have an agent, to protect, defend and encourage you, and to act as a sounding board. It’s very important to find the right person for you – you might want someone go-getting and hands-on, or you may prefer someone more thoughtful and nurturing.
Morgen: Many authors I’ve spoken to have said they’ve tried the agent route and either been unsuccessful and gone the self-publishing route or found one (or more) and it’s not worked out but when they do find and secure a good one, they do sing their praises. 🙂 What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Morgen: I’m not a red tape fan. 🙂 If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Veronica: Aristotle, Picasso and Jack Nicholson. I don’t suppose they’d pay me any attention whatsoever. I’d serve a huge platter of garlicky prawns, then butterflied leg of lamb with sauté potatoes, tarte tatin – and a cheese board, so they could sit at the table all afternoon and outdo each other.
Morgen: But wouldn’t that be fun to watch. 🙂 Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Veronica: Meretricious, which means tawdry or falsely attractive. Meretrix is Latin for lady of the night! I just love how the word sounds.
Morgen: Maybe something for your ‘dark’ pseudonymed book. 🙂 What do you do when you’re not writing?
Veronica: My favourite thing in the world is to go riding on Exmoor. I’m a bit of a coward these days, but I love getting the nerve up for a good gallop, Lorna Doone-style. The adrenalin is amazing.
Morgen: Wow. My mum and aunt were grooms for racing driver Stirling Moss’s sister so I should have been horse-mat but a little fat pony on holiday as a teenager was as close as I got. Thank you so much, Veronica. Do let me know if you do veer off your genre and I’d love to have you back to talk about it (and have you back anyway of course). 🙂
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on this blog) is free.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
Alternatively, if you’d like a free Q&A-only interview, I now have http://morgensauthorinterviews.wordpress.com on which I’ve rerun the original interviews posted here then posted new interviews which I then reblog here. These interviews are Q&A only, so I don’t add in my comments but they do get exposure on both sites.
** NEW!! You can now subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!
or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my Books (including my debut novel, which is being serialised on Novel Nights In!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.
For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at this blog’s Feedback page.
As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. I welcome critique for the four new writing groups listed below and / or flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays. For other opportunities see (see Opportunities on this blog).
The full details of the new online writing groups, and their associated Facebook groups, are:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
We look forward to reading your comments.