Saturday, April 26, 2014

April's Round Robin Blog Fest

Welcome to April's Round Robin Blog Fest!!
Hope you like our new photo. I wasn't going to participate in this month's blog circle due to an abundance of activities going on in the "real world," but here I am!
This month's topic is:
 You loved the blurb. First page sounded interesting. You bought the book. What makes you throw the book you're reading across the room, stomp on it, and go find another?

I have read two novels that I've grown frustrated with. One at the beginning of the book, the other at the ending. Both were "critically acclaimed," but not books I'd ever recommend.

The first was The River King by Alice Hoffman. While I loved the idea of the story, the actual plot itself was difficult to follow. Just as the reader is absorbed into the thoughts and story of one character, another character passed by and we'd hop into his head, then he'd pass a neighbour sitting on her front porch and we'd hop into her head, suddenly a dog ran past and we ran along the river barking at a duck. No focus. No explanation, just continuous head-hopping as the story flowed along like the river outside the Haddan School. Apparently, this meandering form of storytelling is a tendency of Hoffman's and one reason I don't read any more of her work.

The second book was one I read recently, Triggers by Robert J. Sawyer. I have to admit, I read this one for a local "One Book, One County" program. I even paid for it, met the editor who helped publish it, and will get to meet the author next month at a wind up party. While I normally don't read much in the sci-fi genre, Sawyer's writing is crisp and clean and, up until the bitter end, I actually enjoyed the book.

Then came Chapter 50. Without giving away the ending, the book lost all the credibility for me. Up until then, I'd suspended all doubts and enjoyed the plot, characters, and plausibility. 

I didn't throw the book against the wall, as much as I wanted to. I did vent to my other friends who'd already read the book and came away with the same impressions I had. The ending of Triggers was a cop-out. 

I have read books-traditionally published as well as self-published-that have broken several "rules" but still tell a great story. I've also read books that should have had a few more solid edits before being released to the general public. So what turns me off a book?
* If I have to work too hard to weed the story from miscellaneous, unnecessary information.
* I have to suspend all belief at the end of a really good novel to accept a "feel-good" ending.
* Dialogue tags for a character that are a paragraph away from the dialogue.
* If, as in one book I read, an entire chapter is devoted to character and a situation that has nothing to do with the story whatsoever.
* I can't stand the main character and want him/her dead by the end of page 3.
* The plot is totally unbelievable. I'm not slamming fantasy or sci-fi novels here. Sometimes novels that aren't realistic can still become believable. Stephen King novels, Dracula, even The Hunger Games, are all "unrealistic" novels I can read and manage to temporarily suspend all disbelief to become part of their worlds. Twilight, not so much. 
* The ones I hate the most: Books written and/or edited by people who cannot write or edit. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a book snob! I love to read new authors, up and coming authors, and anything my friends have written. I'll gladly read anything once and will happily promote and review those books I love. I know how hard it is to follow your dreams to write and edit books and I have learned a great deal working with my friends, my agent, and my publisher!

To all my fellow writers:  Don't Give Up! Fiona McGier hasn't! Click on her name to visit her blog and find out what books she's thrown against the wall!

Our participants in the Round Robin Blog this time around:

* Heidi M. Thomas
* Ginger Simpson
* Rhobin Courtright

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Q & A with Juliet Waldron

 Thank you to the lovely Juliet Waldron, a fellow author with Books We Love, for linking up and asking the tough questions today. You can find her information at the bottom of my post. Be sure to check out her website and novels!

1) What am I working on?  Lately, I'm working on moving my oldest back from University and helping him find a job. Writing wise, I'm at work on the third book in the Wild Blue Mysteries series called The Bakery Lady. I am also gnawing on my fingernails while my agent queries another one of my mysteries Death of a Jaded Samurai.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?  One of the book series that prompted me to become more serious about writing was Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels. I loved the sense of humor and romance, but wanted something a little more. My Wild Blue Mysteries also has a sense of humor and romance and is a borderline cozy mystery, meaning I use two points of view in each book - a man and a woman.
Death of a Jaded Samurai is a true cozy based in a small down, one protagonist, but set in a martial arts school. Since my whole family has trained in karate for many years, this setting seemed natural, especially after I started working at the school.

3) Why do I write what I do?  Several years ago, I stumbled on a writing contest for a murder mystery sponsored by Wynterblue Publishing. Up until then, I'd only written general women's fiction. After I won the contest with Murder on Manitou, I realized how much I enjoyed working on a whodunnit and went back to one of my novels--The Bookstore Lady--to make it more of a mystery.
I love cozy mysteries for their humor, their small town settings, and their friendly tone. I try to make my main characters people my readers would like to sit and have tea with or even befriend. Having appealing characters is a great way to attract and keep readers!

4) How does my writing process work? My books always seem to start off with a scene that pops into my head or appears in a dream. I have favorite places I sit and write, working on bits and pieces that I will eventually string together into one whole manuscript. Sometimes I manage to follow an actual outline, sometimes my characters or story take over and things go awry from my original plan.
Once my first draft is complete, I'll put the novel away for a couple weeks to detach from the story so it's easier to edit. Even better, I'll send either the whole novel or a few chapters to a Beta reader for feedback. After a few rounds of edits, if I'm happy with the book, I'll submit it to my agent for her approval.

Thanks again to Juliet Waldron. You can find her at:
Musing and Rambling @ 
See All my historical novels @

Sunday, April 6, 2014

On Air Book Review and a Fear of Success

After the March 22 book signing at BookLore, I was approached by Ann Moyer from Mix 88.1 in Erin, Ontario. Ann had found my book in BookLore, enjoyed it and wanted to do an on-air book review on her radio spot on April 2, 2014. In order to prepare her piece, she and I sat down together in my kitchen for a one hour interview about me, my books, my writing, and a bit about what she would say in her review.
I do have the review recorded, but am someone technically challenged. I will have it online as soon as I can figure out how!

One of her questions that struck me was "Did you write this with turning it into a movie in mind?"
I'm sure there are some writers out there who wouldn't want to see their work on the big screen. Hollywood has a habit of changing things to fit their time frames, but turning books into movies have done great things to get many authors' names out to the general public. While there are many cases of the movies not meeting the high standards of readers, in many cases the viewers of movies can turn to the book later for more details and richness in the world they've had the pleasure to visit.

Another question she asked regarded why I ebbed and flowed in my writing, not doing as much to get my books into print years ago. With three kids, lack of time is always an excuse. One thing I do remember from years ago is having a fear of success. I had babies in the house and was afraid I might be good enough to become successful and I would have to leave them to do book tours and travel without them.

Looking back, my fears stifled my writing creativity. I could have taken classes back then, worked on my editing skills, prepared myself and my work. But, and I truly believe this: It wasn't my time.

Over the past ten years, I've been able to do more writing, have stories and novels coming out of my ears, closet, drawers, whatever...and have developed the confidence to dive right in and not care if I fail or succeed. We all want success, we all want a job well done, but it doesn't rip my heart out any more if I get a rejection or someone gives me a bad review. I've developed a thicker skin thanks to critiques by Beta readers and others.

The one piece of advice I would give other writers, photographers, martial artists, anyone pursuing anything they are passionate about is DON'T GIVE UP!! Even when things look miserable and the world seems against you, keep going and give it all you've got.