Tag Archives: debut novels

Welcome Sean Keefer, Author of The Trust

“…I don’t specialize. I don’t work for a huge firm with posh offices, and I don’t turn the television on at night hoping to see my latest commercial. I just practice law….” ~ from The Trust

Often, a Lawyer is the last person you want to call, because it means you’re either in trouble or in for a big bill. But, Noah Parks – an attorney and the main character in Sean Keefer’s debut novel The Trust – is an unassuming lawyer, a gentleman, and not really in it for the money.

He’s the perfect man, then, to handle the probate of Leonardo Xavier Cross’ will. However, a simple probate quickly turns into a case of murder, and Noah Parks finds himself sleeping in the same house as the number one suspect. And, she parades through the house in his boxers and tee shirt.

How’s that for a tease?

In real life, Sean Keefer is a practicing attorney in Charleston, South Carolina where he lives with his wife and two Australian Shepherds. Today, he stops by to talk about The Trust, about marketing and promotion, and to offer his key advice for others working toward publication.

Oh. You wanted more on the boxers and tee shirt character? You’ll have to read the book. Better yet, leave a comment after the interview, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a copy of The Trust. Random.org will choose a winner on Tuesday, August 16th.

CC: Writers often debate the pros and cons of using real versus imaginary cities for settings in a novel. The story in your novel takes place in Charleston, South Carolina, your home town. Were there any challenges (or perhaps big perks) you encountered in rooting THE TRUST in such a familiar place?

SK: It was an interesting thing, setting The Trust in Charleston.  I consider Charleston my “adopted” hometown as I am actually from a ways up the SC coast.  That being said I’ve always loved the city.  I had the opportunity to visit several times during my childhood and, in many ways, I feel I was destined to end up here.

Something about this area just motivates me to write and while I discover new things about the city on a daily basis, it felt only natural to set the book here. The most challenging part of the process was taking the time to describe the area and remembering that not everyone knows the area as I do.  Many times I was tempted to simply jump ahead in the plot, but I found it fit the character of Charleston to blend the setting into the story.

CC: Your novel has received some exciting recognition – Honorable Mention in the 2011 Beach Book Festival Awards and The Bronze Medal in the Mystery-Suspense-Thriller category of the 2011 Independent Publisher Book Awards – which I imagine helps promote your book. As an indie author, what are some other routes of promotion that have helped spread the word about your debut novel?

SK: A writer friend told me something recently – Anyone can write a book, that’s the easy part, it actually can be harder to read a book. The real challenge comes in marketing what has been written. No one told me, or should I say, made me believe the true challenges of book marketing.  Particularly as an indie author.  While I have perhaps a stronger desire to have my book succeed than any marketing professional may have for any book they are marketing, the professionals typically have large bank rolls behind them.  I just have little ol’e me.

I’ve learned that to successfully market a book you have to do it everyday and you can’t get upset at rejections or failures.  I make daily use of a variety of social media, but my most successful efforts have been when I get out and meet people and talk to them about my book.  People don’t get to meet a lot of writers and I’ve been humbled and flattered by the reception I have received (and continue to receive). The more people you talk to, the more people that will perhaps want to read your book. Of course the awards help too.

CC: I’m a believer that life informs writing (and vice versa). Since you are a lawyer in real life, I’m curious as to how that experience translates into your work as an author?

SK: As an attorney I am amazed by the fact that truth is always stranger than fiction.  I find inspiration on a daily basis from what I see in my work.  Many of my characters are amalgamations of people whom I meet in my work.  The struggle is to make sure that my writing doesn’t imitate my work life.

CC: What are you reading these days?

SK: Recently, I read In Leah’s Wake by Terri Giuliano Long.  I also just finished Iron House by John Hart.  I make sure to read Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole, at least once a year.

CC: Do you have any advice for writers on the rise?

SK: My advice for anyone starting out writing is simply to write.  If you don’t write something, you don’t have anything to read or even edit.  My motto when it comes to writing is “Write, Edit, Repeat.”

~

For more information on Sean Keefer and his novel, THE TRUST, visit his website, like his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter. Also, don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered to win a free copy of his debut novel. Check back on August 16th for the winner.

An interview with author, Linda Cassidy Lewis, on her novel, The Brevity of Roses

“It was time to stop looking backward. . . . He opened the new journal and its blankness sent a ripple of fear through him.”
~ from The Brevity of Roses

The middle ground, I’ve been there: hesitant to let go of the past (if I let go, will I forget? And, then what?), unable to embrace the future (so many possibilities…too many possibilities!). It is only when I am completely present in the moment – when I throw caution to  the wind and ignore logic and follow my gut – that I wind up moving in the exact direction meant for me.

Linda Cassidy Lewis spins a tale of redemption from the middle ground for the characters in her debut novel, The Brevity of Roses. Jalal, Meredith, and Renee have little in common, except that each is tethered to the weight of a painful past. Incidental decisions, like a left turn instead of a right, bring the characters together. Unexplained connections urge them forward, to new life and to healing. Linda gives her readers a well-designed book and a story with unforgettable characters.

I’m honored to host Linda here today for an interview, where she talks about turning a short story into a novel and about coincidences in writing and life. At the end of the interview, leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway: a soft-cover copy of The Brevity of Roses. Random.org will choose the winner on Tuesday, July 19th, at noon.

CC: Linda, in your interview with Kasie West, you say that THE BREVITY OF ROSES grew from a short story. As you worked to expand the story into novel length, did the rest of the plot and additional characters unfold with ease?

Linda Cassidy Lewis

LCL: I wrote Brevity in total panster mode. The original short story was a skeletal version of chapters 2-7 in the novel. Before I finished polishing that story, I saw a mental picture of Jalal, despondent and alone in his house. I knew I had to explore that. At the end of writing the second story, I wrote a long letter to Jalal from Kirsten, the younger woman in his story (a character 180 degrees from Renee).

Soon after, I revised that letter into a separate third short-short. At that point, I viewed Brevity as a novella, a trilogy of sequential stories. I set it aside, for later revision, but I couldn’t quit thinking about it. Additional scenes for each story played out in my head. Meredith “told” me I had misunderstood her feelings about her first husband. I “heard” Jalal’s father explain the cause of their conflict. Renee appeared, revealing Kirsten as imposter. I started revisions and ended up with a novel.

CC: In your novel, the story of Jalal and Meredith reflects a philosophy that there are no coincidences in life. Chance encounters are often the catalyst for change, if we, like Jalal and Meredith, embrace those moments. Have you experienced coincidences in your own life that later proved to be much more pivotal in your journey?

LCL: I believe we only see “coincidences” in our lives because, most of the time, we live on an underground level, like ants. If our view were from above it all—the Eye of God view—we would see life from beginning to end and recognize the interweaving, the synchronicity of it all. Since you mentioned Kasie West, I’ll share how my “chance encounter” with her has been pivotal to my writing journey. In 2008, I attended my first critique group. That same night, Kasie also attended for the first time. I don’t remember that we spoke directly for the first couple of meetings, but I loved her critique comments to everyone in the group. Eventually, she became my chief go-to person when I needed another pair of eyes. And she became my lead cheerleader. She never let me give up on Brevity—and I wanted to do that many times. In my acknowledgments, I thank her for the “pushes and pulls that took me to the finish line.”

CC: You published this novel on your own (creating the artwork for the cover as well!). Since publication, what has been the best part, and the most challenging aspect, of being an Indie Author?

LCL: The best part, of course, is when a reader tells me they loved the book. That will never get old. The biggest challenge is finding ways to connect with more of those readers … and developing the patience to wait until that happens. Promotion is not something I have a natural affinity for, so the whole process after publication has been a challenge.

CC: What are you reading these days?

LCL: I’m reading Dancing in the Shadows of Love by Judy Croome, a writer from South Africa. It’s beautifully written, poetic, delicious. Next on my list is David Malasarn’s The Wild Grass And Other Stories. I’ve read a couple of excellent stories from it and can’t wait to read more.

CC: What advice would you offer an emerging writer?

LCL: In the past, I’ve glibly said, “Don’t listen to advice.” I apologize. Certainly, there is good writing advice out there. The trick is not to be a slave to it. If you try something, but it doesn’t work, it’s the wrong advice for you. I suppose my best advice is to write from your heart. If you don’t love what you’ve written, neither will anyone else.

~

Linda Cassidy Lewis was born and raised in Indiana and now lives with her husband in California where she writes versions of the stories she only held in her head during the years their four sons were growing up. At Out of My Mind, she blogs about her writing experience—typos and all. THE BREVITY OF ROSES is her debut novel. You can follow Linda on Twitter and like her on Facebook.

DON’T FORGET: leave a comment for the chance to win a copy of The Brevity of Roses!

Interview with Author, Kaira Rouda, on Her Debut Novel Here, Home, Hope

Yesterday, I posted a review on Kaira Rouda’s debut novel, Here, Home, Hope. Today, I’m honored to host Kaira on my blog, where she talks about writing the novel, balancing life as Mother and Author, and taking note of the most important tip for success.

After the interview, leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway: a free copy of Here, Home, Hope. Random.org will choose the winner on Tuesday, July 5th, at high noon.

CC: While HERE, HOME, HOPE is your first novel, you were already a successful entrepreneur and published author (your nonfiction book, REAL YOU INCORPORATED, received great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads). How was the process of writing and publishing a novel different from your other endeavors?

Kaira Rouda

KR: Writing a novel is completely different than writing anything else. You’re right!  I think I have written in every type of format from radio and television commercials, to product catalogs, to press releases and web copy, newspaper and magazine pieces and a nonfiction book. Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs was to me a celebration and culmination to an amazing career building a company as a woman entrepreneur. I had so many lessons to share, so many women I had learned from that I wanted to profile. In nonfiction, it’s pretty much that: here’s what I know, here’s how I did it, and here’s what I hope will work for you. Straightforward, but I hope, too, inspiring. The response to that book continues to be amazing and I love hearing from women across the country who have taken that book to heart.

And now, I’ve finally donned my fiction writer hat – a hat I’ve dreamed of wearing since 4th grade. After we sold our company and I became a consultant I said to myself, now is the time.  In Real You Incorporated I had helped other women articulate and go for their dream. I knew what mine was. It was time to try, again. You see, I’ve been trying to be a published novelist, off and on, for 15 years – and that’s a lot of rejection slips, as you can imagine. For me, the process of writing is a pure joy. I love it – and writing books has been my escape for years. I decided to give it one more chance and fortunately, this time, the timing was right.  Seeing my novel on the shelf in a bookstore is one of the most thrilling moments of my life. Truly.

CC: I love the book trailer for HERE, HOME, HOPE! The music is a perfect match for a book that’s upbeat and “genuinely hopeful” (as quoted in Jenna Blum’s blurb). I imagine much of this book was a joy to write. Do you have a favorite scene or chapter?

KR: Thank you! I love the book trailer, too! An old friend, Pete Howland, and his firm Edge Creative produced it for me and it was their first book trailer. His wife, Heidi, is the lovely voice in the trailer and I chose the music! It makes me smile that you enjoyed it. Here, Home, Hope was a joy to write. I had a great time creating the characters and they’re all close to my heart.  So, picking a scene is tough, but I’ll tell you one of the hardest  scenes to write was Chapter 16, Bob and Kelly’s encounter in his empty house. I wanted to capture the tension, the threat, the possibility of violence,  without  going over the edge.  Because, as you and the wonderful Jenna Blum noted, the book is “genuinely hopeful”.

CC: I know you are mother to four teenagers (let me just say — wow). I’m raising two young children, and there are days when two feels like four. How do you balance life and writing?

KR: I learned a long time ago that balance is something you swing through on the way to something else. What we all need to remember, especially us moms, is that what our kids really want is a happy mom. If you’re happy, they’re happy, so we need to define lives and careers that work for us as individuals. My “balance” won’t be the same as yours, or anyone else’s, but if it’s right for me, that’s what’s important. And, we need to value and support each other’s choices. Once we begin to do that, genuinely, as women, we’ll be unstoppable. And I have to say, I do have an amazing partner in my husband, Harley, but no – he is not as perfect as Patrick, Kelly’s husband, in Here, Home, Hope.

CC: What are you reading these days?

KR: I am a voracious reader. At any one time, I’ll have two or more books going. I recently finished VIOLETS OF MARCH by Sarah Jio (loved it),  was lucky enough to read the ARC for BEST STAGED PLANS by Claire Cook (loved it), and I’m diving into WATER FOR ELEPHANTS right  now (I can’t believe I haven’t read it yet!). This month another special book is released, Amy Hatvany’s touching novel, BEST KEPT SECRET. I had a chance to read it as an ARC, too, and highly recommend it. Do you want me to keep going?

CC: Do you have any advice for writers on the rise?

KR: Aside from writing, I’d recommend reading. Voraciously. The best writers I know are readers. They love books, their own and others’. They celebrate the written word and they see the publishing industry as a world of new possibilities today. Stick up for other authors, too. Be supportive. That’s your job as a part (or hopeful part) of this industry. One of the most amazing outcomes of publishing my first novel has been to become friends with wonderful authors across the country. Women such as Eleanor Brown, Caroline Leavitt, Sarah Pekkanen, Katrina Kittle, Jenna Blum, Amy Hatvany, Claire Cook, Robyn Harding, Talli Roland and many more. These women embraced me, and my dream, and I hope to return the favor. That’s the power of sticking together.

It’s an exciting time to be in this industry and it has been an amazing journey for me. The most important point: don’t give up.

~

You can find more information about Kaira Rouda, her novel and her nonfiction books, on her website. You can also follow her on Twitter or Like her on Facebook. And, don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of HERE, HOME, HOPE!

Book Review: Here, Home, Hope

“I believe the saying that people come into your life for a reason. And things happen, like cancer scares, to keep us moving forward. Trying new things.” ~from Here, Home, Hope
~

There comes a point in our lives, sometimes more than once, when we reach a crossroads or a dead end, complacency or crisis, and we realize that change is inevitable, even necessary. Some of us pack up and move, others get married or have a baby, a brave few branch out into new careers or hobbies.

In Kaira Rouda’s debut novel, Here, Home, Hope, we are introduced to Kelly Johnson — a mother of two, a domestic engineer, and a woman in flux. Coming off of a recent breast cancer scare, and beginning to understand (and accept) that her sons no longer need every minute of her attention, Kelly Johnson sets out to find a new purpose for herself.

As it says in “About the Book” on Kaira Rouda’s website, “Kelly takes charge of her life, devising a midlife makeover plan.”

In her quest, Kelly discovers a passion and a hidden talent for a new career, as well as an appreciation for old friends, young teenagers, her life and her home.

Here’s a sneak peek at the book:

Kaira Rouda, herself, is a woman redefined, moving from Author of women’s business books to Novelist. She aims to translate her real life goals, of enlightening and empowering women, into the fictional tale of Kelly Johnson. There’s much to appreciate in Here, Home, Hope (and some to envy), like the value of risk-taking, the importance of genuine friendships, and of the support of a loving husband — who’s devotion goes unnoticed by Kelly at first. However, as a reader, I would have liked to see the story spend a little more time on some of the bigger issues broached in this novel, like eating disorders and depression.

On the other hand, many readers prefer books that don’t perseverate on the darker side of life, and, as Jenna Blum says in her book blurb, Kaira Rouda’s novel is definitely “upbeat” and “hopeful,” a light read. So, if you’re looking for a story with a taste of real life and a feel-good ending, you’ll enjoy Here, Home, Hope.

And, tomorrow just might be your lucky day. I’ll be hosting Kaira Rouda here for an interview, where she’ll talk about the move from writing nonfiction to novels and the one thing that so many of us strive for in life: balance. Stop by tomorrow’s post as well, get to know a little more about Kaira and her novel from her perspective, and enter the giveaway: one free copy of Here, Home, Hope.

Welcome Ilie Ruby, Author of The Language of Trees

The willows here grow to enduring heights of one hundred feet, their narrow leaves and long branches bent toward the ground, never forgetting their home. ~The Language of Trees

Trees are a life force around us. They lay claim to a land, bear the weight of change with the seasons, and, as they grow, become living evidence of the history of a place.

And sometimes, trees harbor secrets.

Ilie Ruby’s debut novel, The Language of Trees, is a story about place, as much as it’s a story about the people who live there. It is the sight of the Diamond Trees along the shore of Canandaigua Lake that draws three small children to the scene of a tragic accident. And, it is the power of that place that implores two of the main characters, Grant Shongo and Echo O’Connell, to return home to Canandaigua.

While Grant and Echo travel back to Canandaigua separately, their past, and the mysterious disappearance of a young woman named Melanie Ellis, brings them together. As they help search for Melanie, Grant and Echo find  healing, they rediscover their faith in family and in love, and they uncover the truth behind a secret that has haunted Canandaigua for years.

The Language of Trees is full of surprises and revelations — about the characters and about life. Ruby masters the craft of imagery and prose throughout her novel, hinting at answers but keeping the reader guessing. I’m honored to host Ilie Ruby here today.

At the end of the interview, leave a comment and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a copy of her novel, The Language of Trees. *Random.org will choose the winner on Tuesday, May 17th.*

***

CC: One of my favorite scenes in your book is between Lion and Melanie on their first date: Lion realizes that “memories were something you could decide to make, rather than the results of things that just happened to you.” That scene is such a sweet moment between two people and one of healing for them both. Do you have a scene that was your favorite to write?

IR: I’m so glad you like that scene. It takes place during a blizzard and it was one of my favorites to write. You know, I spent half of my life learning how to navigate a world of snow and ice. It will come as no surprise then that many of my childhood memories took place during blizzards. Blizzards are, come to find out, a good time to be inside with people you like (although when you’re a teenager you want to be out there in the midst of them). With everyone in an atmospherically-compressed space, lovers collide; intense family bonding or strife is created.

It’s hard to pick a favorite scene because all the characters came alive for me and have their own voices, magic, and sense of urgency and purpose. But Joseph’s scenes were especially meaningful because I based his character on a magnificent friend who has passed on, who had a way of enveloping those he held close in what can only be described as immense grace, perhaps the most powerful feeling of warmth, love and protection that I’ve ever felt in my life. It both startled and comforted me as I re-experienced that grace while writing Joseph’s scenes. I still feel that sense of comfort when I re-read the book and any scene that has Joseph in it. I hope others do, too.

CC: What was the inspiration behind writing a character that is a spirit? 

IR: I think one reason I write is to learn about things I’m compelled by or exceedingly interested in. Part of what fuels the desire to write about spiritual things is a wish on some level that we exist in a benevolent universe, that there is a rightness to it that can be defined in human terms. From the age of about nine onward, after learning about the loss of so many of my relatives in the Holocaust, I voraciously read everything I could find about religion and spirituality. In this novel, I wanted to show how the dynamic coexistence of light and darkness is reconciled through generations—ultimately, how a child can bring healing and triumph over a painful legacy. The character of Luke, a healing spirit, must transcend the darkness of his father, a hunter, both on this plane and from the spirit world. There is a wheel of energy at work. The character of Melanie fights addiction in order to mother her own child, becoming a person that uses art to transform pain into beauty so in my mind hers is a spiritual gift as well.

CC: What are you reading these days?

IR: I’m re-reading The Giant’s House because Elizabeth McCracken has an incredible gift for making the unfamiliar relatable. She’s a writer that takes chances and I’m awed by her creativity and her ability to render the human heart and the complexity of relationships so uniquely and beautifully.

CC: What is your advice to writers?

IR: Write truth. Write where there’s “heat”. Follow your questions and relate them to universal themes. Know that if you’re wondering about something, it’s likely other people are, too. If your book evokes questions and discovery, that’s a good thing.

Ilie Ruby grew up in Rochester, NY and spent her childhood summers on Canandaigua Lake, the setting for her debut novel, THE LANGUAGE OF TREES. She is the recipient of several awards and scholarships, including the Edwin L. Moses Award for Fiction and the Phi Kappa Phi Award for Creative Achievement in Fiction. In 1995, she graduated from the Masters of Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California, where she was fiction editor of The Southern California Anthology. Ruby is a painter, poet and proud adoptive mom to three children from Ethiopia.

***

For more information about Ilie Ruby, her book, and her upcoming events, visit her website. Also, check out her fan page on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, or keep up with her on Goodreads.

And, don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway!

On Stiltsville: A Novel — An Interview with Susanna Daniel

“This is what it means to be part of a family. There are no maps and the territory is continually changing. We are explorers,
traveling in groups.”
~ From Stiltsville

~

Seconds after I read the first page of Susanna Daniel’s debut novel, Stiltsville, I closed the book quick. I was in the middle of the after-school hustle (homework, dinner, baths and bed), and after taking in the opening paragraphs, I thought, This is gonna be good. I didn’t want to start the story until I could do so with the least amount of interruptions.

I should back up. The cover of Stiltsville is what hooked me first, with its beautiful image of a house on stilts — a dream-like vision of something mystical and maybe unreachable. Daniel’s story inside follows suit. Stiltsville is a tale of relationships and marriage, and the house on stilts serves as the backdrop, as a reminder that much in life is magical, and sometimes fleeting. Daniel writes about this sense of place with authority and vivid detail, so that I felt not like a reader looking in, but as if I were actually present.

I loved so much in this book, from the beginning when Frances and Dennis first meet, through to the end when I became witness to endearing moments between husband and wife. There are passages in the book, like the quote at the top of this post, that gave me pause and insisted I read them again. I am honored to interview Susanna Daniel here today, where she talks about her novel and writing.

(For a chance to win a copy of her book, leave a comment at the end of this post. I’ll draw a winner on Tuesday, March 15th.)

~

CC: Your biography on the back flap of your novel mentions that you spent much of your childhood at your family’s own stilt house in the Biscayne Bay, and the setting in your novel plays a strong role in the story — both literally and  metaphorically. How much of your experience with the real Stiltsville  informed your novel?

Susanna Daniel

SD: I think often with first novels, the most vividly autobiographical element of a novel is the setting — and this is true of STILTSVILLE. As a child, my family visited our stilt house monthly, for the weekend, and I had many of the same experiences there that the family of a novel does: jumping off the porch at high tide, slinging water balloons at  sailboats, walking the flats in old shoes and avoiding all the dangers that lurk there, sleeping on the porch, watching storms from inside, and so on.

CC: In an essay you wrote for Slate.com, you talk about the time it took to get Stiltsville from its “conception” to its place on the shelves, “a staggering 10 years.” Now that you are working on your second novel, has your writing process changed? Are there any new techniques or rituals that you practice?

SD: The actual act of sitting down and staring at the computer screen hasn’t changed much, the gritty work of laying down the story — but with the first novel I earned the luxury of time, at least for a little while. So instead of squeezing my writing sessions into the mornings before work and late nights, I work regular hours, four days a week  (my son is home with me the fifth day), and on the weekends, I usually manage to let one good session in when my husband takes our son skiing or sledding or  errand running.

I don’t think writing one novel taught me much about writing another, but it did give me some confidence that I’m able to do it, at least. I am better organized this time around, and I have a stronger grip on where the story is headed at any given time. With STILTSVILLE, I had written several chapters late in the novel  before I’d written the second or third. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it meant that I was doing a lot of gutting of the manuscript that, if I’d written from start to finish, I might have avoided.

CC: Writers work in isolation, but we thrive in communities, local or online. Where have you found the greatest community of writers who support and encourage your work?

SD: For a lot of writers, there’s a fine line between too many cooks in the kitchen and too few. I have one close friend from graduate school who has published extensively, who is invaluable to me as a reader. I also participate in a small writing group here in my adopted hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, which is home to many excellent published novelists — these women act not only as my readers, but as a support group as we navigate the pressures, disappointments, and jubilation of publishing.

CC: What are you reading these days?

SD: I’m reading Karl Marlantes’ excellent MATTERHORN, a classic South Floridian historical potboiler called A LAND REMEMBERED (this is research), and Leah Stewart’s wonderfully compelling HUSBAND & WIFE. I’ve been writing a lot, which means my reading is slower than usual.

CC: Do you have any advice for writers on the rise?

SD: My advice, always, is not to worry at all about publishing, and to concentrate completely on the story you want to tell and the voice in which you want to tell it. Find a workshop or graduate program or trusted reader — whatever one suits you — and get as much feedback as possible from other writers. Be ruthless with yourself.

*****

To learn more about Susanna Daniel and  Stiltsville, visit her website or her Facebook page.

To enter the drawing to win a copy of her debut novel, DON’T FORGET to leave a comment here. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, March 15th.

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A Baker’s Dozen of Links for Writers

It’s the season of sweets, gift giving, and toasting to a new year.

So, from me to you…

…A Baker’s Dozen of links to articles, interviews, and posts from this last year that have inspired me to write, reaffirmed my commitment to write, or changed my perspective when I write.

1-5. Stocking Stuffer posts by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi (at The Bookshelf Muse) on:

Each post offers five simple tips that will help you tighten up your writing and/or strengthen your story.

6. Lynn Capehart’s article in The Writer on inclusionary writing. I won’t ever look at character descriptions the same again.

7. Lydia Sharp’s post on the Difference between inciting incident and catalyst. This post, along with a great first chapter critique I won over at Becky Levine’s blog, helped me reshape the first chapter of my novel and set my story on track again.

8-11. Author interviews I’ve had the honor to conduct, in which authors share the story behind the story, offer insights into the challenges of historical fiction and research, or talk about the passion behind their characters:

I’m looking forward to several more author interviews this year from Cathryn Grant (whose debut novel, The Demise of the Soccer Moms, will be published as an e-book in January), from Danielle Evans (Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, a wonderful collection of short stories), and from Rebecca Rasmussen (The Bird Sisters, due to be released April 12, 2011).

12. Kristen Lamb’s post on the Writer Reality Check. “Takes guts to be a writer,” Kristen says, and she lists some realistic expectations for those of us who want to make writing more than just a fun little hobby.

13. A call to action from Writer Unboxed for all Writers to Pay It Forward. “Paying it forward is something we can all do because no matter where we are in our writing careers, there’s always someone just one step behind, hungry to learn.” Much of the time, I’m the one a few steps behind. I could not grow without the encouragement, support, and wisdom from writers who are further along than me, and I can’t fully embrace those lessons until I pass them on to someone else.

There you are! Happy New Year, my friends!

May your days be full of writing and your muse be close at hand.

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