with author Joel M. Andre
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
with author Joel M. Andre
Friday, February 24, 2012
Have you ever attended a séance? Tales of the supernatural and other-worldly events have always fascinated me, so when it came time to write the third Louisa May Alcott mystery, Louisa and the Crystal Gazer, I knew I wanted to include a séance.
Imagine the very intelligent, and very curious, young Louisa May Alcott sitting down at a séance table with characters such as P.T. Barnum, busily looking for new acts for his ‘museum,’ and others who, while fictional, represent some of the people Louisa might actually have encountered: impoverished upper-class ladies, still single and on their way to become ‘old maids,’ retired army majors with tales of India and the opium wars, and her own best friend, Sylvia, newly longing to speak with a long-dead father.
Louisa, at this time, is still in her early twenties, still very attached to home and family – and still facing tremendous financial problems. Her father, the famous philosopher Bronson Alcott, doesn’t bring in much income, and how much can Louisa earn stitching shirts and teaching geography to the neighborhood children?
Louisa has already solved two previous murders, in Lousia and the Missing Heiress, and Louisa and the Country Bachelor, so when a murder victim appears soon after attending her first séance, she’s ready, and more than willing to dive back into detective work.
What many readers don’t know about the beloved author of Little Women is that she was very active and very involved in her world. Her parents were abolitionists involved with the underground railroad, helping slaves make their way to Canada and Louisa kept fascinating diaries and journals about her own real adventures, including being a nurse in the Civil War. She was no shrinking violet, hiding in the parlor! That was the Louisa I worked with, when creating this murder mystery about spiritualists and heiress and lost love.
An excerpt from Louisa and The Crystal Gazer
“I miss Father,” Sylvia signed one morning as we took our walk along the harbor. It was a misty cold day, and the harbor waves were tipped with frosty white.
“Unfortunately, your father passed away when you were a child,” I answered gently. “You barely knew that long-enduring man, so how do you now claim to miss him?”…
“My point exactly,” my companion responded…“I feel the need for a masculine presence in my life, and would like to converse with my father. I will, with the assistance of Mrs. Agatha Percy. Please come with me to one of her sittings!”
I groaned and jammed my hands deeper into my pocket, despite the stares of several passersby; a lady did not put her hands in her pockets. She did if they were cold, I thought. Ship rigging creaked in the wind and bells chimed the start of a new watch, and I pondered Sylvia’s statement of that questionable group of individuals known as ‘spiritists,’ or mediums…
“I can think of better ways to spend time and money than sitting in the dark and watching parlor tricks. I would much rather, for instance, attend one of Signor Massimo’s musical evening.” The signor, a famous pianist, was touring the United States from his home in Rome and had decided to winter in Boston. He was giving a series of performances – performances I could not afford, since the tickets were as much as three dollars apiece, even when they were available.
“Mother tried to get tickets and could not. She was furious,” Sylvia said. I could understand; women with Mrs. Shattuck’s family name and wealth were not accustomed to hearing no.
“Look, there is ice in the harbor,” I said, putting my hand over my eyes to shield them from the glare.
“I will have your answer,” Sylvia persisted.
I introduced several new topics of conversation, hoping to distract Sylvia from her mission – Jenny Lind, the Wild West, a newly published travel book about France that was flying off the shelves – but each topic she cleverly rejoined and detoured back to Mrs. Percy…
“Don’t you see?” Sylvia sighed in exasperation, pulling at my hand to prevent me from taking another step. “The spirits themselves wish you to visit her. They put those very suggestions in your mind!”
“Then they should put a plot or two in my mind,” I said, remembering the still-blank sheet of paper before which I had sat that morning at my desk. Being between stories was an unpleasant state for me, when no plot or story threaded the random thoughts of every imagination.
“I am unconvinced that ‘fun’ is the correct word to describe an hour of sitting in the dark, pretending to speak with the dead,” I said.
“Spirits,” corrected Sylvia. “The dead don’t like to be called dead. Such a harsh word.”
Neither of us was yet aware of exactly how harsh that séance would become.
Jeanne Mackin is the author of several novels: The Sweet By and By (St. Martin’s Press), Dreams of Empire (Kensington Books), The Queen’s War (St. Martin’s Press), and The Frenchwoman (St. Martin’s Press). She has published short fiction and creative nonfiction in several journals and periodicals including American Letters and Commentary and SNReview. She is also the author of the Cornell Book of Herbs and Edible Flowers (Cornell University publications) and co-editor of The Norton Book of Love (W.W. Norton), and wrote art columns for newspapers as well as feature articles for several arts magazines. She was the recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society and her journalism has won awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, in Washington, D.C. She teaches creative writing at Goddard College in Vermont, has taught or conducted workshops in Pennsylvania, Hawaii and New York and has traveled extensively in Europe. She lives with her husband, Steve Poleskie, in upstate New York.
Book Link: http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9781101506141,00.html?Louisa_and_the_Missing_Heiress_Anna_Maclean
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Friday, February 10, 2012
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Hello to everyone at Moonlight, Lace, and Mayhem! I wanted to thank you for letting me stop over for a visit today. It’s always wonderful to make new friends in the writing community. Today I’m here on the blog tour for my debut novel, The Star Child.
Some questions that I get asked a lot, particularly by other working moms is: “How on earth did you find time to write a novel?” This is usually followed, almost immediately by the statement, “I’ve always wanted to write but I don’t know where to begin.” So I thought I’d address these two items in today’s guest post, based on my own experience. If you don’t have these same concerns, then let’s use this as an opportunity to get to know one another, shall we?
Where To Begin?
Initially, I started writing for two reasons. One, because it was a great emotional outlet. And two, because I was reading a popular series and I was furious that it ended. That meant that I had to wait for the author to write another book! Waiting for a new book or CD to come out is always one of the most frustrating things to me. I keep checking the calendar, wondering when it will be released. Although I am general patient, this is one area where I don’t like to be kept waiting.
When I got the idea for The Star Child, I’d written some newspaper articles and short stories, but mostly focused on technical writing which was miles away from Young Adult Fantasy. So I took out the laptop, opened up a word document, and started typing. I had no idea what I was doing; I just knew that a story was pouring out of me so quickly that I couldn’t type the words fast enough to match the running dialogue in my mind.
I wrote the first three chapters and then realized that I had no idea where the story was going. So out to the local pharmacy I went to go and buy index cards. I bought a 100 multi-colored pack and used them to outline the entire book. Though the subplots changed slightly as the book was written, that framework was the one that I followed throughout the creation of the book.
• When you first start writing, get your ideas down in any format that you can. Whether you use my approach of typing them out or use a journal or sketch book, the only requirement is that you are comfortable with the format that you choose in the short term.
• In the long-term, you’ll need to consider if you’d like to have your work published. If you do then you’ll eventually have to enter your work into a software solution such as Microsoft Word or Scrivener.
• My motto in the beginning was: don’t think, just write. It’s important during this initial phase to get your ideas down. You can worry about what everything looks like later on. Just capture your thoughts in the moment.
Finding Time To Write
Finding the time to write was so difficult for me. Every moment that I wasn’t with my son, left me feeling guilty for not being with him. The first step that I had to take was to check my baggage. I was walking around, interacting with others, and carrying this enormous weight on my shoulders. Then as a mother, I began to realize that my son got the best version of me when I allowed myself a little “me” time. So when Guilt came knocking at the door, I didn’t answer.
I also picked a time when I was at my best. Rather than trying to cram in writing late at night when I was wiped out, I would write during the weekends within the confines of my son’s nap times. Normally, I could carve out at least two hours of uninterrupted time and that made the writing that I did do all the more meaningful. Then I didn’t have additional guilt to pile on later because he was asleep that entire time. I wrote The Star Child in nine months of (mostly) guilt-free nap times.
• Let go of the guilt! You deserve some time for yourself. Start with ten minutes every day and see where it goes from there.
• If you’re considering writing, be sure to pick a time when you are at your best, if possible. For me that does not include anytime prior to 10am.
• Put your writing time on the calendar and mark it as your own.
• Keep all of your materials and resources handy so that you can easily access them when it’s time to write.
Editing, Editing, Editing
After the book was written I wanted to get as much feedback on it as possible, so I reached out to every teenager I knew. Coworkers children, family members, it didn’t matter. I joined a book group and asked my friends, mother, aunts, and my husband to edit it. While they edited, so did I, and slowly, the initial version started to become more solid.
After about a year and a half of editing (also during my son’s the nap times) I was asked to join the Love a Happy Ending group. It’s a wonderful team that brings readers and authors together. It was there that I met Kit Domino.
Kit thoroughly edited The Star Child twice, finding things that I missed and providing me with advice on how to avoid common mistakes that writers make. The experience overall was invaluable to me. By the time The Star Child went to print on December 15th, 2011, it had undergone fifteen rounds of editing.
• Seek as much feedback as possible. You can’t create in a vacuum, so the more you get input from others, the more you can flesh out your ideas.
• Don’t worry that they won’t like it. Writing is a lot like music: it’s highly subjective. If someone doesn’t like your work then it’s possible that your book just wasn’t for them instead of worry about it, ask them open-ended questions to get to the heart of their comments. There could be some wonderful data points there.
• Get a professional editor. No matter how detailed you are, you can’t edit it all yourself. A third party can find mistakes in your work but also give you suggestions on continuity issued in the book.
About the Book:
Stephanie Keyes is the author of The Star Child, the young adult, epic fantasy about Kellen St. James, a seventeen-year-old prodigy and Calienta, a Celtic goddess. The novel blends fantasy and modern reality in a book that has received several four and five star reviews and spent nearly two weeks in the #3 slot in Epic Fantasy in the UK and #5 in the same category in the US. It is described as a “fabulous and engaging fantasy debut”.
The Star Child is available on:
About the Author:
When Stephanie isn’t writing, she works full time as a Corporate Educator and Curriculum Designer. She holds a M.Ed. from Duquesne University and an undergraduate degree in Management information Systems from Robert Morris University. Stephanie is a clarinetist, saxophonist, and vocalist, and is always making music somewhere at sometime. She credits her loving husband of ten years and her two sons for all things writing. The Star Child is Ms. Keyes’ debut novel.
Find out more about Stephanie at the new http://www.stephaniekeyes.com.
Friend her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephanie-Keyes/150860604966160
Follow her On Twitter: http://bit.ly/jjneXg
Monday, February 6, 2012
This is the second week of my return to regular posting. Woohoo!
I've been working on my latest story for quite awhile now, but it keeps changing on me which seems to making harder giving it some flesh. Just when I think I've got a handle on where it's going and what's going to happen, it changes.
So, I'm kind of in shock mode right now because there were some changes that just came out of nowhere and I'm not entirely sure how to handle them.
Hahahaha! Yeah, them! About a faction of new characters, lol!
That's the biggest problem! I've got a group of new characters that are decidedly villains and they've decided to absorb one of my secondary characters! I don't know what to do or how to handle this latest change. I really don't. I don't even know how the characters are going to handle this latest change.
Now, I have to figure out a whole new set of character dynamics - something I thought I'd had solid. This is turning out to one beast of a story!
That's not even the interesting part, either. It turns out the main hero of this story is really the main hero from two other stories I've been working on. I can tell you, I sure didn't see that one coming!
I like surprises while reading, but I'm not so sure how I feel about them as an author. These surprises - and the physical illness I've been fighting - are making it difficult to get this story on track!
I will continue to work on the story and I will just go with the flow... I should be used to that, but the fact I started working on this one with an outline first and have been so organized before now seems to be throwing me. That outline has since been tossed out the window.
I find myself treading in the sea of chaos and heading toward the straits of mayhem!
I will do what all great writers have done before me - persevere!
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Megan Johns Invites: A Warm Welcome to Margay Leah Justice
Descended fr...: A Warm Welcome to Margay Leah Justice Descended from the same bloodline that spawned the likes of James Russell, Amy and Robert Lowell, Mar...
Whispered by Margay Roberge at 8:45 AM
Dragon shifters. Oh yeah, how unique is that? Well, these fellas are heavily underrated in my opinion. While there are some books out there about dragon shifters, there don't seem to be as many books as there are about the vamps.
Dragons are sexy, hell yeah they are. Just the other day while running errands I could have sworn I came across a dragon shifter. Yes, a real live dragon shifter. Some of you may think. Now that gal has totally lost her ever- loving freaking mind! No seriously. C'mon. Use a little imagination here. This is what inspired me to write about More Than Human. I've discovered several things about dragon shifters, too many to list here:
1. Whenever you're in close proximity, the heat rolls off them in waves. Yes, seriously.
2. They growl. Ever been near someone and hear them growl? I mean a deep, guttural growl??
3. They're marked with tats and symbols of their sign.
Sometimes I see things. No, not dead people. I see energy in a person's aura. At times the energy level is normal, but man sometimes it's powerful and overwhelming...,which leads me to believe. Oh yeah, there are definitely supernatural creatures surrounding us....
Have you ever walked past a person and were immediately captivated by them? I mean you just had to stop and think…hmmm? There’s something about him/her that I just can’t put my finger on. They just seem to intrigue you a bit.
I think maybe I'm just a little intrigued or my muse may be kicking into overdrive. Yeah, I'll go with that. But, you must admit that your mind tends to wander about certain people, places or things that may cross your path.
Thanx my friends and thank you Gracen for having silly ole me on board today.
Totally not crazy,
More than Human Blurb
Dragon shifter, Bane wants Tori with every ounce of his being but he must protect her at all costs. Letting her in on his secret identity too soon may cause problems for them both.
Thrust in a difficult situation, Bane fights to protect Tori from an old nemesis and claim her before anyone else does. However, claiming the fiery raven-haired vixen means she must fully embrace his identity while accepting an even darker secret of her own.
He gazed at her naked body as he explored her curves. While he explored her thighs, she shuddered. Tori tried sucking her stomach in when his hand glided over her tummy bulge.
More Than Human will be available sometime in March.
My Blog is http://velvetroxxx.blogspot.com/