My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today with Rosie Goodwin #MondayBlogs

Over the last few months I’ve been chatting with authors who, like me, write Family Sagas, (#familysaga) a genre that can cover many countries, years  and cultures. I am thrilled that so many excellent writers agreed to meet here with me.  Rosie Goodwin is the last (and posted a little later than I anticipated) but is certainly not the least.  I’m sure you’ll  find her as fascinating as I do. her novels will definitely have your TBR list of books toppling over!!

 

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Welcome, Rosie, good to see you here today.

It’s good to be here, Judith.

Please tell us, first, where did your love of books/storytelling/writing etc. come from?

I can’t even remember a time when I didn’t love reading and writing. Even as a child I always had my head buried in a book or I was scribbling a story.

Dilly's Sacrifice (Dilly's Story Book 1) by [Goodwin, Rosie]The Ribbon Weaver: A young girl's sparkling future is thwarted by a devastating secret by [Goodwin, Rosie]The Maid's Courage by [Goodwin, Rosie]

How long have you been writing?

Again, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. I was always top of the class or close to the top in English at school although I was dismal at maths. However, I wrote purely for pleasure back then, I’ve only been published for almost thirteen years. My first novel, THE BAD APPLE was published in June 2004 and it’s been hectic ever since.  I have just finished writing my 31st book.

The Bad Apple: A powerful saga of surviving and loving against the odds by [Goodwin, Rosie]

What kind of writing do you do?

I write saga’s mainly although I have also written quite a few contemporary novels as well as a ghost story and a murder. I love sagas, they are a mix of everything.

What did you most enjoy about writing these books?

I love the whole thing, developing and bringing the characters to life, the plot, all of it whether they be contemporary or historic.

 

A Band of Steel: A family threatened by war but destroyed by love... by [Goodwin, Rosie]

 

Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does this affect your writing?

I write two books a year which is full time. It’s very different to when I used to write purely for pleasure as I’m now governed by deadlines. Thankfully I still love what I do so it isn’t a problem.

What are some of the day jobs that you have held? How does that affect your writing?

Until just over a year ago I was also a full-time foster mum and during that time I cared for dozens and dozens of children. I also worked for Social Services as a Placement Support Worker and an NVQ Level Three Assessor. I think this gave me a very good insight for when I wrote my contemporary novels.

Crying Shame: A mother and daughter struggle with their pasts by [Goodwin, Rosie]

What projects are you working on at the present?

I’m currently working on a seven book days of the week series, beginning with MOTHERING SUNDAY, which was released last week, and I’m delighted to say it went straight to number 7 in the Sunday Times bestsellers and this week is number 2. I’ve already also finished Monday’s child, which will be out in November and is called THE LITTLE ANGEL and Tuesday’s child, title to be decided.

Mothering Sunday: The most heart-rending saga you'll read this year (Days of the Week) by [Goodwin, Rosie]

What does your typical day look like?

I don’t have any set pattern but I do have a large house, five dogs and quite a large garden so I am never bored. The family are used to me disappearing off to the study at any time but I most enjoy writing in the evening when all the jobs are done and I can lock myself away in the study without interruptions. I also find it much easier to write in the winter when there’s no chance of me escaping out into the garden, but whatever time of the year it is I write every day.

 

Yesterday's Shadows: A gripping saga of new beginnings and new dangers by [Goodwin, Rosie]

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

It comes across very strongly in my reviews that my readers like the fact that I try to write about believable characters, i.e. they don’t all have to be beautiful and perfect. I like to write about people you might pass in the street, real people with flaws. I also love twists and turns in the story and my fans appear to as well. I’ve been in the top fifty library authors for some years now so hopefully I’m getting something right!

Today With Julie McGowan

Introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair, http://bit.ly/27XORTh, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival http://bit.ly/24eOVtl .  I’m looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of weeks. 

So far I’ve interrogated interviewed Rebecca Bryn: http://bit.ly/1XYWbtF, Thorne Moore: http://bit.ly/1P6zDQh , Matt Johnson: http://bit.ly/1RUqJFg , Christoph Fischer: http://bit.ly/1svniAr , Sally Spedding: http://bit.ly/1VNRQci, Wendy Steele: http://bit.ly/1PMoF8i ,Kathy MIles:  http://bit.ly/1twN3Bg , Carol Lovekin:http://bit.ly/1Y2z6HT, Colin R Parsons: http://bit.ly/1tvBc5G , Lisa Shambrook: http://bit.ly/28NMI5v:  ,Alex Martin:  http://bit.ly/28VLsQG ,  Judith Arnopp:  http://bit.ly/290cJMl , Sharon Tregenza: http://bit.ly/29frGPq    Juliet Greenwood: http://bit.ly/29jylrM , Nigel Williams: http://bit.ly/29racfO   and Alys Einion:  http://bit.ly/29l5izl And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me: http://bit.ly/1VTvqGq  Over the next week or two I’ll be introducing the rest of the authors. I’ll also be showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance and who will be giving short talks and may be able to give advice to would-be authors: http://honno.co.uk/ , http://www.fireflypress.co.uk/   and  http://www.cambriapublishing.org.uk/ ,

There may also be a short chat with John and Fiona of http://showboat.tv/ who, as usual, will be filming the event.

 

Today I’m really pleased to introduce Julie McGowan; a truly prolific author.

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Hi Julie, Good to see you here today to chat about your writing

 Hi Judith, pleased to be here… and happy to share.

Right, tell me, please, why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

My two novels set in Wales are both historical fiction set in the first half of the twentieth century. It’s a period of time that has always fascinated me, particularly how people lived through two world wars and still manage to do all the normal things like fall in love and get married etc.

The Mountains Between

Just One More Summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also write contemporary fiction, not set in Wales, and switch between the two as the mood takes me.

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

I read from an early age – not much on the telly then! Also, I was involved in amateur dramatics through our chapel from childhood and that inspired me to weave stories.

How long have you been writing?

Over 20 years

What kind(s) of writing do you do?

Novels, commercial short stories for women’s magazines, features for national publications, pantomimes, sketches for adults and children, songs.

What cultural value do you see in writing/reading/storytelling/etc.?

I think it widens people’s horizons and enables them to experience situations and places that they may never come across in their lives. I think this is particularly important for children, and get quite cross when publishers etc think children’s books should only reflect the lives children lead. Very pleased J. K. Rowling ignored that!

How does your book relate to your spiritual practice or other life path?

‘Don’t Pass Me By’ includes some scathing reflections on the narrowness there used to be in some Welsh village chapels. I’m a practising Christian, but firmly believe that everyone should be allowed to follow their own spiritual path and not be weighed down by church dogma from any faith.

Don't Pass Me By

What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?

I wanted to remind people that the movement of evacuee children during WW2 didn’t always have the  happy ending we like to glorify when these times are looked back on with rather rose-coloured glasses. I also wanted to show the difference between how children were treated then, and how our helicopter-parenting style today can be overprotective. I think I’ve achieved both objectives.

Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book?

My research was rather solitary, but after the book was published I was contacted by a lady in her 80s who wanted to share her harrowing experience of being an evacuee. Her story was more amazing than anything I’d written! But the message she wanted to give me was that she wasn’t destroyed by her experience and that life can turn around – she was just brilliant.

What are some of the references that you used while researching this book?

I read books about first hand accounts of evacuees from South Wales, and used the internet, particularly the BBC history website.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

Portraying elements of child sexual abuse that makes the reader understand the emotional turmoil the child is going through whilst not making the actual abuse too graphic.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Feeling I’d succeeded with the hardest parts as outlined above!

What inspires you?

Listening to ‘ordinary’ people talking about their lives

How did you get to be where you are in your life today?

By not being scared to take chances and change direction – which could be construed as blind optimism!

Who are some of your favourite authors that you feel were influential in your work?  What impact have they had on your writing?

The much under-rated, in my view, Monica Dickens, and Elizabeth Jane Howard, both of whom succeeded in building wonderful stories around everyday people and multi-stranded novels. They helped me to look at the subtleties of human behaviour and made me want to express those subtleties in short, often oblique descriptions or sentences.

What did you find most useful in learning to write?  What was least useful or most destructive?

Most useful was writing a weekly column for a local paper which had to have a strict word count, so I learned how to edit my work and make it ‘less is more’. Least useful were some of the rejections from agents rather than publishers, who seemed to enjoy a critical put-down rather than a polite ‘no thanks’.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

Part time, which occasionally makes it difficult to get back under the skin of a character.

What are some day jobs that you have held?  If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

Nurse, health visitor, school matron, town clerk, actress, theatre-in-education director to name but a few. Health visiting in particular I think increased my empathy and understanding of family dilemmas and I think has helped me to describe characters’ emotions.

How do you feel about eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

I think there is a place for eBooks but they will never replace the feel of a print book in one’s hands and the anticipation of turning to that first page… Alternative publishing, when done well, can challenge conventional publishing, as long as it’s well edited.

What process did you go through to get your book published?

I had already had two books produced by the same publisher, so this book was already agreed. For my first book I went through the usual tortuous process of trying to find an agent or publisher and in the end worked my way through the list of publishers who would accept unsolicited manuscripts.

What makes your book stand out from the crowd?

It’s a page-turning story, with a number of characters that resonate with the readers, and has a strong emotional content, set in a turbulent time, but in a beautiful place.

How do you find or make time to write?

I try to carefully portion out my week to include writing time amongst my other commitments, but it often goes wrong!

Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two?  Summarise your writing process.

I have a story and main characters in my head, and know how I want it to begin and end. Then I write, and often change the flow of the story as other characters work their way in, but the main plot ends the way I envisaged.

What are some ways in which you promote your work?  Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?

I do numerous book signings, talks, writing classes, book fairs and festivals. They do take up some time but are invaluable for meeting people and getting my name known – and often give me ideas for new characters!

What do you like to read in your free time?

Predominantly novels but of no particular genre – whatever intrigues me.

What projects are you working on at the present?

I’ve just finished my latest novel so am doing a final edit.

What do your plans for future projects include?

One of my books has been published in Germany, so my publisher is trying to get rights sold in other European countries. I may start another novel after the summer, once this year’s panto has been written, which has to be ready by September.

And my favourite for dealing with popular authors who’ve already done a lot of interviews: What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has? Write it out here, then answer it.

Question: Who is your favourite character in ‘Don’t Pass Me By’

Answer: It has to be Arfur, the young lad from the East End who finds it so hard to settle in a small Welsh village, and is so determinedly loyal to his good-time Mum, even in the face of all the evidence that she has deserted him. Once I’d got his character established I wanted to take  him home with me!

 

Find Julie here:http://amzn.to/29s1o9u

 

Brexitania (or Alan in Wonderland) by Alan A Roberts.   

Another gem from Alan Roberts, student of one of my creative writing classes. His last post was  here: http://bit.ly/29u7vui.  And then there was:  http://bit.ly/20Gvbh6 where he battles with the self service supermarket check-out

Here Alan finds himself in yet another quandary. But somehow he has returned to being a young lad. Well, with Alan, anything can happen… as we well know! 

alan in wonderland

Cleaning his large bedroom frustrated Alan and he lacked concentration, making the task long and boring.  His mind wandered until noticing the dust-laden air being sucked towards the bottom of the wall alongside the old wardrobe.  Perplexed he investigated, holding his hand near the wall feeling the air going in, slightly yet in.  He held his breath before deciding to gingerly peel away the wallpaper until a huge wrought iron door stood before him.  Where it might lead he couldn’t comprehend.

He lifted the handle, pushed the door, which opened slowly, its creaking hinges adding to Alan’s apprehension.  Although the inside was dark, he stepped timidly into the black void without considering where or what he had entered or whether he might get out again.  Powerful lights blazed into life but Alan had no time to think about stopping himself for he felt himself falling and whatever he had fallen into was either very deep or he was falling very slowly, for he had time to look about and wonder what might happen next.  He tried to look down but it was too dark to see what was below so he looked at the sides of the hole and noticed there were maps of European countries – in fact he counted twenty-seven maps and alongside each was a photograph.  Recognising the faces of Hollande and Merkel, Alan assumed every photo was of the Country’s political leader.  All poked their tongues out as he passed.

Down, down, down. 

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He thought the fall would never end.  Suddenly, thump! thump! he landed upon a pile of papers.  His fall was over and amazingly he was unhurt.  As he steadied himself he saw the papers were hundreds of thousands of the recent referendum ballot papers, each marked with an X alongside the ‘Leave the European Union’ statement.  Alan looked up from where he had fallen but all was in darkness overhead.  In front of him was a long passage and from there he saw a White Rabbit hurrying toward him.  Alan couldn’t believe his eyes; the Rabbit’s white fur was unkempt and had the face of Boris Johnston.

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“Welcome, Alan,” the White Rabbit joyously proclaimed, “you’re our first visitor since the victory.”  He grabbed Alan’s hand and continued to shake it until Alan’s arm ached.

“Where am I?” Alan asked.

“Why my lad, you’re in Brexitania.  It’s the Country’s new name – Britain sounds too much like Brittany and we can’t have any confusion with them lot over the Channel.  Do you like the new name?”

“It sounds stupid”, Alan responded.

“Sorry old boy, can’t change it now – registered it with the Copyright Office straight away.  Anyway, tell me what brings you here?”

“I found a secret door in my bedroom then fell into a hole that seemed to go on forever and landed here: I’ve no idea what’s happening.  It’s all a bit weird and a little exciting, if I’m honest.”

“Ah, that’s what we like to hear – yes – a bit weird and a little exciting – good combination of words – might put them in our manifesto when we get round to it,” Rabbit exclaimed.

White Rabbit struggled to pull a large pocket watch from a small pocket, looked at its face on which Alan noticed it had neither hands nor numbers and exclaimed,

“Oh my ears and whiskers, how late it’s getting! I have to be off to trigger article 50. We always knew Jean-Claude Junker would prove troublesome.  Anyway, follow me and meet the rest of the gang. This way, follow the path: hurry, there’s a good chap.”

Alan followed close behind but when he turned a corner marked, ‘Brexit Triumph’, the White Rabbit had disappeared.  He now found himself in a long, low hall that was lit by a row of lamps hanging from the roof.  There were doors round the hall, but all were locked; and when Alan had been all the way down one side and up the other, trying every one of the twenty-seven doors he walked sadly down the middle, wondering how he was ever to get out. Suddenly he came upon a little three-legged party table on which was placed a tiny golden key and Alan hoped it might unlock one of the doors; but as he tried each one their locks proved either too large or the key too small and none of them could be opened.  He tried a second time, hoping he might have missed one door on his initial round and he came to a low curtain that he hadn’t previously noticed.  Pulling the curtain aside he found a small door on which a sign declared, ‘BREXITANIA – ‘IN AND OUT’.  He tried the key and to his good fortune it fitted!

Opening the door, Alan found himself completely in the dark.  Adjusting his eyes, he saw two paths marked, ‘OUT’ and ‘IN’ but no instruction as to which of the two pathways should be taken or why.  He opted for the ‘IN’ path and walked its length, finally emerging into the light, into a place Alan recognised as Parliament Green.  He walked forward, becoming aware of a figure standing nearby, whose back was turned to him.  The figure wore a natty suit with a large stove-pipe hat perched precariously on its head.  As the figure turned he noticed a handwritten note pinned to the brim on which was printed in bold purple ink the words, ‘VOTE UKIP’.  Bizarrely, from beneath the rim the grinning face of Nigel Farage peered out; in his right hand he clutched a full pint of what Alan assumed to be froth-topped ale, which he instantly drank.  The Mad Hatter approached with his right hand extended.  Expecting to shake hands, Alan extended his but the Mad Hatter placed his thumb on his nose and wiggled his fingers, mockingly.

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“That had you,” the Mad Hatter gleefully spluttered before continuing, “hope you haven’t come for your share of the three hundred and fifty million quid we said we’d share out.” Bit of a porky but it helped get us OUT.  So, welcome to Brexitania – White Rabbit says you just dropped in. If you need a drink I’ll get Mock Chancellor Osborne over there to get you a glass of his ‘grumpy’.  Sorry, couldn’t resist that; cloudy lemonade’s your tipple, I believe?”

Carrying his lemonade, Alan wandered into the crowd gathered on the far side of the Green. A resplendent footman told him that a Cheshire Cat was due to make a speech.  Alan decided to wait and a few moments later the Cheshire Cat with Michael Gove’s grinning face jumped onto the dais and began addressing those assembled.

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“Welcome everybody – I’ve some announcements to make following our landslide victory.  First, Mr Justice Gums will be Lord Chancellor – boom! boom!; secondly we are banning the letters I and N appearing together and following Royal Assent words like ‘spin’ will become ‘spOUT’ and Cheshire Cat’s grin will become a ‘grOUT’; pubs called Inn’s will become OUT’s; legal terms will also change with Inns of Court becoming OUTS of Court and even Her Majesty’s family name will change from Windsor to WOUTdsor, difficult to pronounce but we’re certain you’ll get used to it.  Any questions?”

Alan raised his arm.

“And what’s your question, young man?”

“I can’t remain in such madness and I don’t want to be among all you mad people”.

Cheshire Cat Gove grinned from ear to ear.  “Oh no, you can’t REMAIN because we’re now OUT but also IN, if you get my drift. And anyway, we’re all mad here.  I’m mad, they’re mad and you’re mad.”

Alan indignantly responded, “You can’t say I’m mad, you don’t know me?”

“You must be mad,” grinned the Cheshire Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.” He paused for a moment, then continued, “No further questions? Then everybody OUT, quick as you can, there’s good fellows.”

Alan watched as Cheshire Cat jumped from the stage leaving behind his still wide grin.  From the Green he kept running until coming to a sign saying, ‘THIS WAY TO SEE ELIZABETH, QUEEN OF HEARTS’.  Alan took the path indicated and found himself standing outside a building resembling Buckingham Palace where a further sign proclaimed: ‘THE BREXITANIA GOVERNMENT GIVES NOTICE THAT BUCKINGHAM PALACE WILL BECOME BUCKOUTGHAM PALACE AND HRH THE DUKE OF EDINBURGH WILL BECOME THE DUKE OF EDOUTBURGH’.  Seeing another of the footmen, Alan asked if he might speak with the Queen.  With his request granted, Alan was ushered inside and approached the Royal couple seated on their thrones.  Alan thought they both looked decidedly sad although the Duke was making a valiant attempt to wave his EU flag, much to the annoyance of the courtiers.  The Queen wore a dress on which red hearts were sewn over its entire surface whilst the Duke had on his ceremonial uniform with plastic medals across the jacket, brown suede shoes and from his red tricorne hat a plume of feathers drooped over his face.  Alan forced himself not to laugh.  Advised to kneel before the Queen, announce his name loudly and tell Her Majesty why he needed the audience, Alan nervously approached the Queen’s throne, kneeled, cleared his throat and in a loud voice said:

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“Your Majesty, my name is Alan and I ask if you can please arrange for me to return home as soon as possible.”

The Duke looked down and simply muttered,

“Oh Gawd, not another bloody simpleton”.

The Queen, unfased by the Duke’s rude aside, looked over her bifocals,

“And where would one’s home be?”

Alan, stuck for a meaningful response, thought if he gave his address at 23 Alder Gardens the Queen would have no idea where that was or how he could get there, so answered,

“Back up the long hole, your Majesty.”

The ensuing momentary silence was broken when the Duke shouted,

“Back up whose long hole, you cheeky little bugger?”

“Off with his head,” the Queen commanded.  Attendants grabbed Alan and hauled him into a side-room where he was padlocked inside a small wooden cage.  Panicking, he closed his eyes to stop himself crying. He was, he thought, far too young to die.

Suddenly, loud knocking accompanied by his mother’s voice startled Alan back to the reality of his bedroom,

“Alan, Benny’s here and wants to know if you’re coming out?”

Staring at the ripped wallpaper, he wailed, “Mum, tell him I’m staying in,” and pulled the duvet over his head and thanked God he was safely back home.

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The Maid’s Account

A post from Maggie, one of my adult students.  I think this is a great idea. See what you think. Of course you’ll know the play … won’t you!

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There is so much being talked about Shakespeare at the moment that it encouraged me to go back and read some of my favourite plays. I started thinking about the role of some of the minor characters in his plays, and wondering what their story might have been. This is a short piece written from the perspective of a lady’s maid, who is gossiping with a friend. It will soon become clear which lady she’s talking about.

Maggie

The Maid’s Account

I’ve lasted a long time as her serving woman, longer than all the others put together. She’s not easy of course, very beautiful women often aren’t, and she is a beauty. Headstrong though. I’ve always thought that she’s the boss, he’s always been willing to do anything for her. Besotted with her and she’s obsessed with him, at it all the time. Children have to fend for themselves, poor little devils. That’s the trouble with the higher ups, they get someone else to do all that for them, and they haven’t worked out what they’re missing. She wasn’t as bad as some though, she nursed her babies herself, which was a surprise to everyone by all accounts.

That night though, something was going on. I’m not a superstitious person but the wind was howling and birds were calling, in the middle of the night when they should have been silent. I could hear the two of them creeping around and her voice telling him to be a man. Well he was a man afterwards all right. My God, they excelled that night in the bed department, even for them.

She told me later, much later, when she had started walking and  talking  in her sleep, that she always thought her husband was a good man, but he didn’t have the edge that would make him a powerful man.

‘And you know Elspeth, powerful men are very virile. Don’t you think so?’

Well, I didn’t know how to answer that one. I hardly get to see my Bert, I’m stuck in the bloody castle all the time at her Ladyship’s beck and call. It’s a wonder to me we’ve got any children at all. My Bert’s not like his Lordship though. He’s a gentle soul, not the brightest, but he’ll do me.

Anyway, I was telling you about that night. He came on ahead of the rest of them. You could see she was made up about something, she’d had a letter from him, sent on ahead. Turns out he’d had a promotion, and then the king himself was coming to visit. The kitchen staff were all of a flurry, preparing a big feast. Not everyone seemed pleased though. One in particular, the one who disappeared the following night, he was doing a lot of muttering to himself. Then of course the king’s two sons ran off early hours of the morning, after their father had been found with his throat cut. Everyone started saying that they must have killed him, but I never believed that. It’s surprising what you see and hear when no one thinks you’re important.

I saw her, my Lady that is, washing his Lordship’s face and hands, telling him to change quickly in to his nightclothes. I hardly dare tell you what happened, or what I believe happened, but he’s gone off now anyway, left her to her own devices, which she hasn’t been very happy about.

She talks to me when I do her hair. Tells me all sorts. After she’d told me about her wanting him to be a powerful man, she said that she’d lost him like that. He’d overtaken her, turned in to something she wasn’t expecting. I’m not that clever but it sounded to me as if she was sorry she’d encouraged him, because now he couldn’t stop and she’d gone to bits.

‘Look after your children Elspeth’ she’d said.

‘I’ve said some terrible things about mine and now I’m sorry.’

I overheard that too, all that business about dashing their brains out if she had to. All talk probably.

The country’s gone to the dogs of course, his Lordship seems to be creating chaos and mayhem wherever he goes. I heard a terrible story about someone’s wife and children all being killed, a good man he was too. Did you hear about it? It was all the talk here, but then that’s to be expected with him being the culprit more than likely.

Last night I found her wandering about again, all that beautiful red hair flowing down her back, her feet bare, in her nightdress, wringing and rubbing her hands as if she was trying to scrub them clean. Poor soul. They sent word to him and the doctor came out, but there’s nothing to be done for her. He asked me to take away everything that she might do herself a mischief with, so there’s not much left in her room. I had an aunt like that, but no matter how careful we were she managed to do herself in eventually. People with very troubled minds usually find a way.

Did you hear that noise? Sounds as if she’s creeping about again. I’d better check that she’s all right. Don’t go, I’ll be back in a minute and then you can give me all your news.

© Maggie Himsworth 2016

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And the answer: ? printed in 1623 after Shakespeare’s death.

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Meeting Marcia Meara

Today I’m thrilled to be chatting with Marcia Meara; author, generous blogger/interviewer and a thoroughly lovely person.

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 Judith: Tell us a little about yourself, as a writer and as a person.

MM: I live in central Florida, just north of Orlando, with my husband of 30 years, four cats, and two dachshunds. When I’m not working on my books and blogs, I spend my time reading, gardening, and enjoying the surprising amount of wildlife that manages to make a home in our suburban yard. Birds from hummingbirds to bald eagles show up here frequently, along with black racers (harmless, graceful snakes), raccoons, possums, various lizards and skinks, and of course, the dreaded, bird-feeder raiding squirrels, which I consider minions of Satan, sent to plague me.

JB: Tell us a little about your writing history/background. What inspired you to write? How did you come to writing? What is your main reason for writing?

MM: I made it all the way from age five to my last year of high school, assuming I was going to be a writer. Then, my parents announced they had other ideas, and that ended that. I got a business diploma, went to work, got married, raised a family, and occasionally, wrote poems just for my own enjoyment.

I never took a writing class, nor went to college, but I’ve read voraciously, all my life. When I was 69, I was lamenting that I had never pursued my dream of being a writer, and I was told to stop whining, go home, and write. So I did. That very day.

I write because I love it more than anything I’ve ever done. And because I want to make up for all the years I lost while doing other things. Not that the other things weren’t worthwhile or important, but rather that they just weren’t writing. And writing is what my heart has always wanted to do.

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Summer Magic: Poems of Life & Love is a collection of contemporary poetry about exactly that–life and love. Summer Magic was the second book I released, a little chapbook of poetry. The first half is a series of poems called “Mac at Ten,” and they all focus on MacKenzie Cole (the main male character in Wake-Robin Ridge) as a young boy, spending his summers on the Ridge. The second half is a collection of various sorts of verse, on a variety of topics.

JB: When did you decide to write in your chosen genre(s)

MM: I didn’t think about genres when I wrote my first book. I knew exactly the story I wanted to tell, because it had been in my head for close to ten years. So I told it. And then decided Romantic Suspense was the best fit, although you could certainly call it a ghost story, as well.

JB: How did you come up with the titles of your novels?

MM: With Wake-Robin Ridge, it was fairly easy. The book is set in the mountains of North Carolina, and the wake-robin is a spring flower (a wine-red trillium, actually) that carpets the forest floor for a few weeks every year. I’ve always loved it, so I named my fictional mountain ridge after it.

Swamp Ghosts was a perfect title for a book set along the St. Johns River basin of central Florida, and featuring several ghostly animals (metaphorically speaking).

A Boy Named Rabbit is the second book in the Wake-Robin Ridge series, and the name comes from the fact that it’s about a boy. Named Rabbit. J

Finding Hunter is the second Riverbend novel, following up on Swamp Ghosts, and it’s about a damaged man who loses his way after his nightmares come true, and the woman who refuses to give up on the power of their love.

And my work in progress, Book 3 of the Wake-Robin Ridge series, is about the legend of the Black Dog, as an omen of death, and is called Harbinger. That’s what he is, so that worked for me.

JB: Tell us about the concept behind your books. How did you get the idea?

MM: To keep it shorter, let me break this down by book.

Wake-Robin Ridge: On my mountain rambles, I used to drive by an old, deserted cabin that looked like it could have some interesting tales to tell. So I decided to use it as the basis of my first book. My story features two different women who lived in the cabin nearly 50 years apart, and whose lives intersect in a dramatic and frightening way.

Product Details

A Boy Named Rabbit: I discovered I wasn’t done with the folks who lived on Wake-Robin Ridge when the heroine whispered in my ear one night that there was a little boy alone in the wilderness who had a story to tell. I got up in the morning with Little Rabbit fully formed in my mind, knowing he was a remarkable child with the power to change the world for everyone he meets.

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Swamp Ghosts: I knew I wanted my second series set in Florida and to feature as much wildlife and habitat as possible. I was on a river eco-cruise when it occurred to me that my heroine was steering the boat. The good captain and her wildlife photographer husband morphed into Maggie Devlin and Gunnar Wolfe, an unlikely couple who discover that the most dangerous animal in the swamps walks on two legs, and that a serial killer is on the loose in the sleepy little town of Riverbend.

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Finding Hunter: For the second book in the Riverbend series, I wanted to feature the quirky and eccentric Hunter Painter, Gunnar’s best friend, and the idea that two people may have been in love with each other for many years, with neither the wiser. Enter Maggie’s best friend, Willow Greene. That took care of the romance part. For the drama, since a town of 6,000 souls can only have so many serial killers, I focused on the terrible damage a dysfunctional family can cause, through lack of communication and total denial problems brewing. When the inevitable happens, it sweeps Hunter along in its path of destruction, and leaves him a lost and desperate man.

Finding Hunter_kindle cover2

JB: Who are your favourite and least favourite characters?

MM: Easy. My favourite character (so far) in all of my books is Little Rabbit. That boy constantly surprises me with the things he tells me to write down, and he’s a joy to have living in my head. A close second, btw, is Hunter Painter, because I can’t resist a damaged, angsty man. (At least in fiction!) My least favorite character would have to be Lloyd Carter, a mean-tempered, stone-cold killer, though I’m thinking by the time I’m done with Harbinger, I may have a new candidate for that spot.

JB: What are the best and worst aspects of writing?

MM: Best aspect is the pure joy of telling stories that have been rattling around in my head for years. I start typing at the beginning and don’t stop until the tale is told, and I love it. Worst aspect is self-marketing. I find myself resenting the time it eats up, since it steals it directly from my writing time. The second worst aspect is that people tend to think writing isn’t really work, and writers should be free to do all sorts of other stuff during the day. I figure I don’t have decades left to tell my stories, and consequently, I need to write like a thing possessed before I fall face down on the keyboard.  Eeek.

JB: How do you balance marketing one book with writing the next?

MM: Balance? What is this thing you speak of? I’m afraid I’m listing to the starboard bow, and likely to capsize at any moment. Balance, indeed.

JB: What do you do when you don’t write?

MM: I love to garden, birdwatch, and read, not necessarily in that order. I also love spending time with my two grandchildren, Tabitha Faye, and Kaelen Lake, who make my heart happy. Giggling is good for the soul.

JB: Tell us one odd thing about you and one really mundane.

MM: I love reptiles, especially snakes. Even more than birds, and almost as much as cats. And I also love eggs, no matter how they’re cooked.

JB: Who would you like to invite for dinner?

MM: LOTS of folks. I’m very sociable. But I’d especially love to have dinner with all my beta readers, most of whom I’ve never met. We’d have such a good time! And you, of course. Why not? Barring that, could I please have dinner with Chris Hemsworth, in full Thor regalia? That would make my day! Or maybe my LIFE!

JB: What are you working on now?

MM: Harbinger: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 3. It focuses on the Appalachian version of the legend of the Black Dog, or Harbinger of Death.

Boxed Set: Wake-Robin Ridge & A Boy Named Rabbit

JB: Is there anything you’d like us to know about you and your books?

MM: Just that I came to writing very late in life. I wrote my first book, Wake-Robin Ridge, 2-1/2 years ago, at age 69. I’ve published three novels, since, and to have my fifth out by May. I have a deep love of nature, having worked for the Florida Audubon Society years ago, and I try to express some of that in my books. I love to learn new things, and to share them with others, and have begun doing presentations locally a couple of times a month, focusing on the wildlife and habitats of central Florida, writing in general, and a bit about my own books.

JB: Which writer would you choose as a mentor, living or dead.

MM: I think they’d be better at the whole mentoring thing if they were alive. *grin* (JB: “grinning back” )With that in mind, I’m going with my favourite Urban Fantasy writer, Jim Butcher. Toss in Neil Gaiman for general eccentricity, and Marisa de Los Santos for her poetic use of words, and I think I’d be mentored to a fare-thee-well. J If I did reach back to writers who’ve gone before, I’d choose Daphne du Maurier for her stunning use of descriptive prose, and her appreciation of the macabre, often culminating in endings impossible to predict.

JB: Who is your favourite author living or dead?

MM: Daphne du Maurier, since reading Rebecca at age twelve.

JB: What is your advice to new writers?

MM: Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t write, but please study your craft, and the details of good grammar and decent plot structure. Never stop learning how to do it better. And most important of all, READ. All the time. All sorts of books. You can get a pretty good feel for what a book ought to sound like that way. Buy a copy of Strunk & White’s Elements of Style. Keep it close by. You’re going to need it. And hire the best editor/proofreader you can afford. Trust me. You don’t see your own mistakes, because your eyes read what you think you’ve written, instead of what’s actually on the page. Even with editors, proofers, and beta readers, some things can still get by. When you find them, fix them. Readers notice.

JB: What would your friends say are your best and oddest qualities?

MM: Hmm. Depends on which friend you’re talking to. I think most would say I’m smarter than the average bear, which is true in SOME areas. Little do they know I’m also dumb as a rock in others. As for oddest, there are too many to choose from. Some of my friends think my love of snakes is a contender for first place. Could be they’re right.

JB: How do you handle criticism of your work?

MM: I snivel, whine, cry, stomp my feet, and shake my fist at the sky. Doesn’t everyone? (JB “Oh yes!”) Seriously, though criticism always hurts, I try to see what I can learn from it. I’m still a newbie at this, and I’d like to get better with each book. Sometimes constructive criticism is a good way to grow. (But if it’s mean or just plain nasty, then I refer you back to the first part of this answer.)

JB: Thank you, Marcia, for making this interview so much fun.

Thank you so much for this opportunity to chat with you and your followers, Judith. I appreciate it very much, and your thought-provoking questions have been a lot of fun.

FIND MARCIA HERE: She’ll be pleased to greet you.
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 And here are her books:

Wake-Robin Ridge: http://bit.ly/Wake-RobinRidge

A Boy Named Rabbit: http://bit.ly/ABoyNamedRabbit
Summer Magic: Poems of Life & Love: http://bit.ly/SummerMagicPoems
 

Wake-Robin Ridge

A Boy Named Rabbit: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 2

 

J

Writespiration #78 Write About A First Kiss

Sacha Black

Write About A First kissFirst kisses are hyped up to be this magical, calf lifting, tingly moment. In all honesty, they are usually cold, wet slug infested disappointments.

I remember mine even less fondly than that. I was in the back of a local disco for under 18’s. I forget exactly how old I was, maybe 14. The long-awaited, compulsory slow dance came on a few songs from the end. There’s that moment of sheer panic, every boy and girl in the disco freezes, and casts furtive looks around the room. No ones sure who will grab who and who will suffer the god awful fate of being left on the side.

On this occasion, some stinky teenage boy, from the popular group at school, pounced on me. He latched on with tentacle hands and dragged me (ok, willingly) onto the dance floor. He pulled me in tight like he was cinching a waist band…

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