Writing to the Stars with Pippa Jay Green

The indies gals would like to welcome back Pippa Jay Green to the Indies Books R Us blog. She’s here today to share her author journey. We last spoke with Pippa when Cate and I reviewed her book Keir. Since then she’s released another delicious sci-fi adventure with more on the way.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, from the day I badgered my dad into showing me how to write out my full name–a long WP_001151winded affair to be sure. As for when the stories started…well, they must have come soon after that. From stories about ponies when I went through that stage of my childhood, to fantasy inspired by The Lord of the Rings and The Dark Crystal, then the shift into scifi after Star Wars: A New Hope hit my TV screen one Christmas. I went from wishing to be a magic-casting, arrow-shooting elf to a lightsaber-wielding, mind-influencing Jedi Knight in the space of a hundred and twenty-one minutes.

But it’s another cult scifi with a very British origin that sparked off my first novel. The story behind my debut Keir started as a Doctor Who adventure waaaay back in the 90’s when I was a teenager and a devoted fan. Now, I have seen a lot of controversy over the writing of ‘fanfic’. Some declare it to be ‘not proper writing’ and a waste of time. Others claim it as a writing release, to be able to free write about favourite characters and explore ideas without having to create whole new worlds and people. Frankly I think writers should be able to express themselves in any way they wish, but back then I’d never even heard the term ‘fanfic’. All I wanted was to be the Doctor’s latest time-travelling, non-screaming companion (as the ‘becoming a Jedi and building an X-wing’ ambition hadn’t worked out for me). So I wrote an adventure called The Shadowshaper over a three week Christmas holiday–featuring a red-haired teenager by the name of Quin–and sent it off. It didn’t get published, but it was the first complete book I’d ever finished, and I had some fantastic feedback from the then publishers of the Doctor Who books. Enough to feel that perhaps I wouldn’t completely be wasting my time to keep writing and submitting.

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Real life got in the way after that, but the ideas never stopped coming. One night I dreamt of a broken and beaten man trapped in a dungeon. I woke up with the name Keir in my head. I didn’t know why he was there or what had happened to him, but as I wrote I found all that out. He needed someone to save him, and that someone was Quin, my time-travelling, red-haired heroine. Of course, the Doctor himself doesn’t feature in Keir, but he’s there in spirit. Because if it wasn’t for him, I don’t think Keir would ever have existed.d teenager by the name of Quin–and sent it off. It didn’t get published, but it was the first complete book I’d ever finished, and I had some fantastic feedback from the then publishers of the Doctor Who books.

gethyon_300Enough to feel that perhaps I wouldn’t completely be wasting my time to keep writing and submitting.

As for my first love… My latest scifi novel Gethyon pays a passing tribute to Star Wars in feel, more than Keir did. My hero is a young, troubled would-be adventurer with unknown powers, who has to combat his own divided nature as much as he must master his abilities. If it hadn’t been for those early scifi influences, perhaps I’d be writing fantasy now instead. Maybe I’ll revisit that genre one day…

Keir Pippa  Jay GreenBIO:

A stay-at-home mum of three who spent twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay bases her stories on a lifetime addiction to science-fiction books and films. Somewhere along the line a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moments trying to learn guitar, indulging in freestyle street dance and drinking high-caffeine coffee. Although happily settled in historical Colchester in the UK with her husband of 20 years, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.

Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the SFR Brigade, a community of science fiction

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Guest post: Huw Thomas

A couple of weeks ago, Huw emailed us about a promotion he was running to benefit ShelterBox, an international relief organisation that provides emergency help to families who have lost their home as a result of disasters. Half of the royalties from his book The Vault will benefit this worthy cause. Check Huw’s blog for more information. 

 

Vault Kindle Comp CoverWriting a novel can be (relatively) easy. You start with something to catch the reader’s attention, move on to develop the story and let it all build to the climax. Simple, yes?

I’ve managed this approach with several of my books. Problem is, though, my novels generally develop a life of their own and the little critters don’t always do what I tell them.

I do plan to some degree – principally to ensure continuity – but I’m much more of an intuitive writer. I generally know where I want to go but I work from a road atlas, not a detailed map with every contour and feature carefully plotted.

With my mystery thriller The Vault, I think I must have hit roadworks. Either that or I’d got the pages of the road atlas jumbled up.

Shortly after starting my journey, I found myself with a book that involved four separate – seemingly unconnected – sets of route instructions (storylines). And while these four trips overlapped, they weren’t even taking place at the same time.

It’s not that I set out to make life difficult for myself, or my readers. It’s just where the story took me!

Anyway – leaving the road trip metaphor for the moment – whether it’s just because of the complex plot I don’t know but The Vault was probably the book over which I’ve moaned, cursed and despaired the most.

It began with an idea for a scenario describing a night-time kidnapping. This evolved into a longer story about an armed raid on the home of a reclusive billionaire – coupled with a parallel tale involving schoolboys playing in an overgrown wood. (There is a connection, honest.)

I think I got about a third of the way into the book – and had an ending in mind – when I ground to a halt. Something wasn’t working. There was no flow, no ease to the story. It just didn’t feel right.

I shelved the project for a while. Several months later, I went away for a weekend course on screenwriting and, afterwards, decided to try turning what I’d written for The Vault into a film script.

It was a move that transformed the process. I began to think of my story in much more visual terms. What would viewers (readers) see? What did the image convey? How did it relate to the story? What was its purpose?

Thinking in terms of a script also focussed me on the dialogue, something that previously wasn’t one of my strong points.

The Vault never made it into a becoming a full-length screenplay but taking a different approach to the story cleared my mental blockage.

I went back to the novel and wrote the rest of it with real purpose. It was complex but not impossible. I kept thinking in visual terms, imagining the story as if it were scenes from a film or TV show.

I also tried to keep my focus on the purpose of each scene. What was it there for? Was it a complete digression (always tempting) or did it add to the overall story?

I wouldn’t say it made me a completely ruthless editor. I’m not one of those authors who delete every line unless it moves the story on. Personally, I don’t mind the odd moment of humour, romance, background etc.

As a writer you’ve just need to keep a tight grip on the purple prose and make sure any flights of fancy words are little flashes – short enough for those who don’t like that kind of thing to skip over but entertaining for those that do.

With The Vault, I think the end result was a good book. It’s not perfect but it’s a complex, multi-layered mystery that mixes action and suspense and – I hope – brings in some characters that readers will find very real and believable.

I’m not sure I’d chose to write such an involved novel a second time… but there again, I’m only the guide on the tour bus, I don’t plan the itinerary.

 

The Vault is available at Amazon.

 

Find Huw at:

Blog: hdthomas.wordpress.com
Facebook: Huw Thomas
Amazon.com: Author’s Page

Lois Winston – My Author Journey

Today, we have award-winning author Lois Winston joining us and sharing her journey,

Love_Lies_eBook_Cover_v04_x1000What did you want to be when you grew up? I think at one point I may have wanted to be Annie Oakley. I don’t really remember, but I’ve seen pictures of my four-year-old self dressed in a red skirt and vest with white fringe, cowgirl hat perched on my head and a six-shooter strapped to my waist. Did I ask for the outfit, or was it someone else’s idea? I have no idea, and there’s no one left to ask.

The first time I remember consciously thinking about my adult life was during NASA’s Mercury Project. I remember standing outside, searching the skies for a glimpse of Alan Shepherd and John Glenn. I decided I wanted to be the first female astronaut—until my parents burst my balloon by reminding me of my propensity for motion sickness. NASA wasn’t interested in astronauts who couldn’t keep from tossing their cookies, they told me.

I’ve always loved musical theater and in sixth grade decided I wanted a Broadway career. My elementary school was planning a talent show. I tried out. Major embarrassment! I was laughed off the stage for not being able to carry a tune. Goodbye, Broadway.

What I never thought about doing was becoming an author. I wasn’t one of those kids who sat around penning stories. I spent my free time drawing and painting. So eighteen years ago when a story popped into my head, and I decided to sit down to write it out, no one was more surprised than I. The next thing I knew, I’d written a 50,000 word romance.

So what do you do after you write a book? You try to get it published. I set about submitting my novel to literary agents and very soon learned I had not written the Great American Novel. One after the other, the rejection letters rolled in. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, I didn’t know the first thing about writing a book.

What I had discovered, though, was that I enjoyed the process. So I set about learning how to write.

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Ten years, almost to the day that I first sat down to write that story, I sold my first novel, Talk Gertie to Me, a humorous book about a mother and daughter dealing with life-altering experiences. One year and countless rewrites later, I sold that first 50,000 word romance after turning it into Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception, a 74,000 word emotional romantic suspense novel.

 

 

I was on my way. Or so I thought. I didn’t expect that my New York publisher would begin having financial problems. The publisher stopped sending out royalty statements and checks. Eventually, the publishing house folded, owing hundreds of authors hundreds of thousands of dollars.year and countless rewrites later, I sold that first 50,000 word romance after turning it into Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception, a 74,000 word emotional romantic suspense novel.Gertie to Me, a humorous book about a mother and daughter dealing with life-altering experiences. One

 

I kept writing. In 2009 I was offered a 3-book contract for a humorous amateur sleuth series I’d created. Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series debuted to critical acclaim in 2011. Death by Killer Mop Doll followed in 2012, and Revenge of the Crafty Corpse in 2013. I was a very happy camper.

Until I wasn’t.

As much as I wanted to continue to write the series for the publisher, we couldn’t resolve certain issues with the new contract. I made the difficult decision to walk away. I’m currently looking for a new home for the series, but in the meantime, other opportunities have arisen.

Indie publishing has offered authors a chance to take more control over their writing and their careers. If I don’t find another publisher to pick up my mystery series, I can publish it myself. The stigma of self-publishing no longer exists. Many well-respected authors are publishing their backlists and also new work. Fabulous books that were turned down by established publishers are finding a home and an audience.

While I make a decision regarding the future of my series, I’ve indie published two mini-mysteries, Crewel Intentions and Mosaic Mayhem. These are novelettes that take my amateur sleuth on side adventures. I’ve also published my backlist and five novels under my Emma Carlyle pen name.

It’s good to have choices.

About Lois:

lois-winston-low-res-fileAward-winning author Lois Winston writes the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series featuring magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack which Kirkus Reviews dubbed, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” Lois is also published in women’s fiction, romance, romantic suspense, and non-fiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Visit Lois at www.loiswinston.com, visit Emma at www.emmacarlyle.com, and visit Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com. Follow everyone on Twitter @anasleuth.

 

Author Journey – Kendall Grey

So excited to have one of my favorite authors PERIOD on the blog today! In case you’re new to the blog, or your memory is . . . about as good as mine, Kendall’s novel Inhale received YAY ratings from both Landra and me, so it’s a good ‘un.

And here’s her journey.

Take it away, Kendall!

 

Every writer—published or not—has story to tell about her “journey.” Here’s mine in easy-to-digest bullet points, pre-chewed for your convenience:

1. I read TWILIGHT and decided I should write a book. How many times have you heard that one before? 😉

2. I wrote a book and thought it was totally badass. All my friends agreed.

3. I queried agents and editors. I quickly learned my book was not, in fact, badass. Rather, it was just plain bad.

4. I screamed, cried, cursed my friends for lying to me, and tore out my hair. Oh, the misery! Oh, the depths of despair!

5. I blew my nose and started looking for solutions to my bad book problem. I joined some writer groups and found a critique partner.

6. I revised the book with my CP’s help.

7. I sent it out again. More rejection. More wailing. More mourning and gnashing of teeth.

8. I joined a specialty group of fantasy writers and got more feedback. I revised the book again.

9. I entered contests and failed miserably at them. More revision ensued.

10. I got a big nibble from my dream agent after winning a critique from her. She asked me to revise and resubmit.

11. More contest entries. I finaled in a few and won 1st place in one.

12. At the husband’s insistence, I decided that if my dream agent said no again, I would self-publish. It had been 3 years. Enough of this crap.

13. After 40+ rejections, more than 10 contest finals, thirteen major rewrites, and four years of blood, sweat, and tears, I self-published INHALE in 2012. I vowed to donate all profits from that book and the rest of the trilogy to programs that educate people about whales.

14. Great! I was finally published. But I wasn’t selling very many books, so no profits for the whales. Damn it.

15. Back to square one with a new twist. How do you get noticed when you’re buried under a million other authors who are all vying for the same audience?  (When you figure it out, let me know.)

16. I used all sorts of marketing ploys to attract potential readers. Most of them didn’t work. So I wrote another book and published it.

17.  Yada, yada, yada…Same shit, different book, but sales increased once I had a book in the back catalogue.

18. I published my third book in January and wrote my first donation check for $5,000 to Whale Camp. I guess maybe I have sold a few books after all. 🙂

Most days I don’t feel like I know any more now than I did four years ago. One thing I do know, however, is that the more you publish, the more books you sell. That’s a fact. So, I’m back to plotting and planning my next series, taking what I’ve learned from the awesome writer friends who’ve helped along the way, and putting my creativity to work.

Number one lesson learned: The destination isn’t nearly as important as the journey.

Thank you for joining us again, Kendall. We love having you grace our blog.

All of Kendall’s stuff is available through:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

The Author’s Journey – Donna Cummings

This week, Lord Midnight author Donna Cummings is gracing our blog with her presence once again! This time, she’s sharing with us her author journey. Thank you for your post, Donna!

If you missed the Lord Midnight review, check it out here, and her author interview here.

The Author’s Journey

For anyone who has been on the author’s journey for a little while, it’s comforting to think it’s always going to be a straight shot, and that you actually know where you’re going. But it’s a comfort only because it’s a delusion. Whatever you know about writing or the writing journey is based on someplace you’ve been, not where you’re headed.

You change as a writer with every book you write. So it makes sense that the path you’ll take is going to morph as your writing abilities grow and improve. Also, every “next book” we write is always going to be slightly outside our skill set. Even though we’ve just added to our resumé and repertoire by writing that last book–the one that stretched us way beyond our comfort zone, leaving us half-dead on the side of the road–we won’t be writing that book anymore. We have to accept the fact that we never really know how to write the book we’re writing–until we’re done writing it.

The other thing I’ve learned about the author’s journey — and let me stress that I have resisted learning this — oh boy, did I resist: this is a journey without an end goal.

Now, before you start wailing because you’re envisioning a football field that goes into infinity, with no goal posts. . .well, that’s kind of what I’m talking about. Those yard markers are the real goal. They represent what we’re trying to reach when we talk about getting published, or getting an agent, or hitting a bestseller list. It’s important that we celebrate each and every one of these awesome achievements.

But we have to remember they are “a” goal. Not “the” goal. Because if we’re writers, “the” goal is to keep writing, no matter what. No matter if we get bad reviews, or editor rejections, or a story idea that kicks us in the groin every time we try to whip it into shape. “The” goal is to keep putting words down, yanking them back out, figuring out where they really belong, and polishing them until the gleam of that awesome story brings tears of joy to a reader’s eyes.

Now, I know it’s not easy to accept that we’re on a trip that has no real destination. We’re writers, and we’re used to having a beginning, a middle, and an end. What I’m saying sounds like there’s just middle, endless days and days of middle, without the bookends of a beginning or end.

But instead of being discouraged by that, it’s actually kind of liberating. We can continue jotting down every story idea that comes to us. There’s never going to be a time when a proctor says, “Put down your pencils”. We get to decide when we’ve accumulated enough writing goal markers along the way.

At least once a month I’m convinced I’m done writing. I tell myself it’s not worth the time and effort I put into it. I want to have a life that doesn’t include writing, or at least one where I don’t have to feel guilty about not writing, or despairing about how to get a written story to match the perfect one in my imagination.

When I have these thoughts, it’s usually because I have a specific end goal in mind, and I’ve just plowed into it face-first. I’ve practically garroted myself by flying into that goal line that has no business being there. But since my mind has installed it, stopping me from moving forward, I have to sit down and re-evaluate. This is not when I want to gauge how far I’ve got to go. No, this is when it’s important to look back, to see where I’ve been and how far I’ve come.

It doesn’t take too long on that jaunt down memory lane before I get antsy. Quit writing? What was I thinking? I just needed a little R&R, a reminder that I felt this same way with the last book, and the one before that. And then I’m off on another new adventure. . . one without any kind of final goal to impede my progress.

That’s what the author’s journey is really all about.

Bio: I have worked as an attorney, winery tasting room manager, and retail business owner, but nothing beats the thrill of writing humorously-ever-after romances. I reside in New England, although I fantasize about spending the rest of my days in a tropical locale, wearing flip flops year-round, or in Regency London, scandalizing the ton. In addition to my current release, I Do. . .or Die, a romantic comedy/mystery, my available books are Summer Lovin’, a free romantic comedy novella, and Lord Midnight, a Regency romance. My contemporary novella, Back on Track, part of the Strangers on a Train collection, will release from Samhain on April 2, 2013.

Links:

Website/blog: http://www.AllAboutTheWriting.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@BookEmDonna

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Donna.Cummings.Author

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5349107.Donna_Cummings

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/bookemdonna

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