Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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A Real Live Texican!

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it or not, but I have a special place in my heart for Baja Oklahoma. (also known as Texas.) My mama graduated from high school there and one of her favorite sisters as well as one of her favorite niece live there. What’s not to love about Texas? And I have another reason I like the place–a really sweet friend lives there that I’d love for you to meet. And we just might get a peek into her office. :D Here she is . . . Linda Broday! 20150412_155251_resized I first met Linda when she won a contest our writers’ group hosted. I asked her if she could come up and speak to our group, and she happily drove up in her motor home at her own expense! Talk about a great lady! Me- Do you always write in your office? If not, where else do you write.

Linda: I always write in my office. I require a large monitor because I have vision problems and need everything enlarged. And too, the atmosphere in there inspires my creativity. That is so very important, especially since I’m having to write three books a year. Just crazy. But I love this journey I’m on and want to soak up everything along the way.

Linda Broday's office Me- Where’s your favorite place you’ve ever written?

Linda: Outdoors on my patio. I love to listen to the birds chirping and the fresh air. Nature provides great inspiration.

Me- Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever written?

Linda: Once I had to write in the car so I could meet a deadline. That’s probably the strangest for me, but I also wrote in the hospital when my husband was fighting cancer. I didn’t want to leave his side, especially since his time was short.

Me- Oh, wow, Linda. I’m wowed that you could think well enough to write your name, much less an entire book. You’re amazing! Me- Do you do anything before you write? Light a candle? Put on music? Waltz around the house?

 Linda: I put a low-calorie snack in my desk drawer for later because I seem to burn a lot of energy when I write. (Maybe it’s all the chase scenes and gunfights or it could be the tender love scenes. Hmmmm.) Sometimes I light a candle and breathe the fragrance. Peach is my favorite. Sometimes I meditate for a few minutes. Then I close my eyes and envision the scene I’m going to write in my head. I see it like a movie with my characters doing the acting. Once it’s clear in my mind, I begin to type. Candled

Me- Do you write every day?

Linda: Yes, I have to because it keeps me in touch with my and story. If not, I have to go back and read the last chapter or two to remind me where I am. I don’t want to have to lose time. I want to sit down and get right into my writing.

Me- What’s the atmosphere in your office?

Linda: It’s calm and peaceful. Everything is in its place. I can’t write with a lot of clutter. I have a lot of my favorite books around me. It’s as though the words of the authors I love flow around the room and drop into my head. Since I write western romance, I have things with a western-y feel sitting around and on the walls. All of it adds to the atmosphere that I need in order to create. _jpg

Me- If you play music while you write, how do you choose it?

Linda: I don’t play music. I tried once but it’s very distracting to me. I need silence. 20150412_130849_resized_1

I love the buffalo picture!

 Me- If you could have your dream office, what would it be?

Linda: Oh, I love this! The sky is the limit and I don’t have to worry about the cost. Here goes: One whole wall would be floor to ceiling windows that allows light so spill in, creating lacy images on the floor. I would look out into a beautiful garden. A small indoor waterfall would sit in one corner, filling the room with gentle, soothing splashes on the rocks. On the opposite wall would be a huge desk with  research books at my fingertips. Indoors flowers would fill every space and infuse the room with wonderful fragrance. The flooring would be dark, rich wood with colorful rugs everywhere. I would have a sofa with lots of pillows where I could take a nap when I wanted. Bookshelves from floor to ceiling crammed with all kinds of books. Oh, man, I don’t want to wake up from this dream! It’s too nice. Now, I just need to find a rich bachelor (preferably a cowboy) who yearns for love…..

Me- How did you get started writing?

Linda: I read a romance book (can’t recall the name right name right now) and hated the ending. I sat down and rewrote it the way I wanted. Doing that gave me confidence that I could write my own books. The first attempt was start and stop. It took me five years. But I did it and that was the best feeling in the world. One led to another and I was on a roll. Untitled-4

Me- Did you struggle as a new writer or were you blessed with sales from the word go?

Linda: I’ve had wonderful luck and I thank God for that. I began winning writing awards with my first book, Knight on the Texas Plains. Sales were pretty decent and set the stage for the second release. I was lucky though in that I already had an online presence before I published. That really helped. Having a following is priceless. Untitled-1

Me- What’s your process for starting a new book?

Linda: Once an idea (or sometimes only the characters) are in my head I let it steep like a good cup of tea. Usually for about a week. After I have their names and know a little about them, I do a loose outline. Then I do a little research about some of the details of the story. I don’t indulge in a lot of pre-writing stuff though. I like to sit down and just let the story unfold. See where the characters take me. I love the surprises that come along the way.

Me- Are there any how-to books you recommend for writers?

Linda: Painting With Words by Rebecca McClanahan – this is a great book that I think every writer should read no matter where they are in their writing. Writing With Emotion, Tension, and Conflict by Cheryl St. John – this book covers almost every aspect of writing. I fully recommend it. 45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt 20 Master Plots by Ronald B. Tobias Writers’ Guide to Character Traits by Linda N. Edelstein, PH.D Creating Character Emotions by Ann Hood

Just click on the link to find the book. :D Me- Do you write in more than one genre? Ever write under another name?

Linda: Except for one pirate story when I was first learning to write, I’ve always written western historical romance and never under another name. That pirate story will NEVER see the light of day. It’s awful.

LOL! Me- What piece of advice do you have for a newbie struggling writer?

Linda: Never, ever give up. Perseverance is the key to success. When something doesn’t work, try again. Take time to write the very best story that you possibly can. Find a good critique group and let them help you. Have patience and don’t get in a big rush because throwing a poor quality story out there will only hurt you.

Me- What are your latest books?

 Linda: My latest is a series called Bachelors of Battle Creek.  The first book – Texas Mail Order Bride – came out in January of this year and the second, Twice a Texas Bride, will be out next month, May 5th. The third – Forever a Texas Bride – comes out in December. (Not available yet for preorder.) Having all three of a series come out in the same year took a whole lot of fast writing. I’m so excited about this series that is about the deep bond that formed between three boys in an orphanage that follows for the rest of their lives. Each, for different reasons, have decided they will never marry. They’re so committed to remaining single that they form the Battle Creek Bachelors’ Club. In the first one, rancher Cooper Thorne thinks his life is finally on an even keel. He has his land and the ranch he wants and that’s enough. He gets the shock of his life one day when Delta Dandridge steps off the stagecoach claiming to be the bride he sent for. Cooper is fit to be tied and promptly sets her straight, then offers to pay her way to wherever she wants to go. She refuses to take a red cent and gets a job in the mercantile. He can’t keep from running into her at every turn, reminding him of everything he’s desperately trying to forget.

Me- Those sound wonderful!

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Me- Do you have anything in the works?

Linda: I’m currently writing the first book in a brand new series called Men of Legend. It’s about three brothers who carry the last name of Legend. The first one is about Texas Ranger Sam Legend. After getting injured, he’s trying to protect a woman on the run and get home to his family’s Lone Star Ranch. Only an outlaw gang is trying to keep him from it. I’m having so much fun with this. Lots of twists and turns and I’m never exactly sure where the story is going to go.

I love reading a series, and yours sound like so much fun. I can’t wait to read them! Thank you so much, Linda, for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions. Looking forward to seeing you again! So, guys, anything you want to ask Linda? What time her books are set in? Or maybe what conferences or classes or organizations she recommends? All you have to do is ask. She’ll be more than happy to answer!


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Have You Met Jean?

So far, I’ve been introducing you to people I know, love, and love to read. This week is no exception! Jean Brashear is one of those authors I love, love, love!

When I asked if I could talk to her about where she writes, she was more than happy to comply. (Thank you, Jean!)

Me: Do you always write in your office? If not, where else do you write.

 Jean: I just about never write in my office, nor do I do my first drafts on my computer. :) I wander, thanks to my old-school Alphasmart.

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Jean: The rocker where I often sit to re-read drafts and wield my red pen. (Behind me, the first 4 shelves are copies of my published books in various languages…the 4th shelf with Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Chicago Stars series in front of me, as it should be.:)

Me: Where’s your favorite place you’ve ever written?

 Jean: My back deck under the live oaks, sitting in a cushion-y wicker rocker.

 

Me: Ooh, that sounds like a great place to be, writing or not! Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever written?

 Jean: No physical place that weird. I save the weird for inside my head. ;)

Me: Do you do anything before you write? Light a candle? Put on music?

 Jean: Can’t write to music! Don’t want to influence where the story goes—I’m too busy feeling the characters and can’t afford to interfere with feeling the music.

jean-herself

Jean: And while we’re living in the Land of Make Believe, here I am, pretending that I actually write at my desk.;)

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And this is her favorite part of her office. Can’t say that I blame her!

Me: Do you write every day?

Jean: Weekdays, yes. I save weekends for my honey.;)

Me: Did I mention she writes romance? No wonder! What’s the atmosphere in your office?

Jean: Not good for writing—though I have photos of my beloved, a comfy rocking chair and a dog I love. Too many reminders of business, otherwise, though!

Me: If you could have your dream office, what would it be?

Jean: I like mine fine, though a separate little writing shack might be fun. On the other hand, I get up and wander a lot in between scenes, and a lot of a book forms in my head during my rambles, so not sure one little building would work.

Wait—a tree house! Wow…I might need that. ;)

Me: How did you get started writing?

 Jean: My husband and I were having one of those “what do we want to do with the rest of our lives?” conversations when our last child was about to graduate. As an avid reader since childhood, I said “I’ve always thought it would be amazing to see my name on the spine of a book.” My honey, Mr. Pragmatic, basically said “What’s stopping you?” and proceeding to support me in every possible way as I took the leap into a dream I’d never imagined possible (and if I’d understood publishing better—don’t know I’d have had the courage! LOL)

Me: Are there any how-to books you recommend for writers?

Jean: How-tos just freeze me up. I SO wish I were a writer who could plan and follow the plan, but the reality is that I dive into the story and just feel my way through, however impossibly inefficient that might be. (And trust me…it is.:( )

Me: What’s your process for starting a new book?

Jean: We’re supposed to have a process?? (You’d think, after 40+ books, that I would, but truthfully, I have a few snippets of ideas rolling around, and most of it is just finding a scene that grabs me—and readers, I hope—and diving in.)

plotsJean: Here is the wall I recently created, thinking I could actually change myself and my process aka Jean Pretends She Will Actually Plot:

Me: Did you struggle as a new writer or were you blessed with sales from the word go?

Jean: I wasn’t one of those “I sold my first book” luckies, no. Got the rejection letters to prove it!

Me: Do you write in more than one genre? Ever write under another name?

Jean: I have written romantic suspense, women’s fiction and paranormal romantic suspense, but no other name.

Me:  What piece of advice do you have for a newbie struggling writer?

Jean: These days, though indie publishing is an option and one I’m loving, I would still urge a new writer to write more than one book before publishing any. And get help from experts—all of us need editing!

For one thing, things we think are on the page may not be—with the story so alive in our heads, we may not realize that we know things that aren’t coming across. I don’t mean endless details—readers don’t need to know all we have to know about our characters—but that what we think we conveyed may indeed not be what’s there.

We need objective eyes, and we have all seen our words way too many times to trust that we truly know what’s there!

I will say that the few times I’ve been able to let a story sit for at least a few months (a luxury I never had when writing for a traditional publisher) I never cease to see new things I could do with it to make it better.

Ergo my advice above: don’t publish your first effort. You will learn with each one and get better. All of us get better—or we’re doing something wrong if we’re not—over time.

Let that first effort sit and ripen while you write something else. Then go back and see what you think, see if fresh eyes helps you make the story stronger and better.

That said, your story is your story, and only you know what it should be. Get professional eyes on your work, but never be afraid to stick up for your vision of what your story really is.

Me: What are your latest books?

Jeans: I’m releasing my first-ever serial, a 3-part story (with a surprise connection to my Texas Heroes Sweetgrass Springs books) called The Book Babes.

Part One, Texas Ties, released on 3/15, Part Two, Texas Troubles, releases on 3/26, and Part Three will wrap up the story on 4/9. All are available for order/preorder at all retailers, and here are the links plus an excerpt: http://jeanbrashear.com/texas-heroes-series/the-book-babes/

book-babes

Me: Do you have anything in the works?

Jean: I’m starting the next Sweetgrass Springs story—which totally changed, in the wake of the Book Babes and its surprise connection that I never saw coming.;) Hey, I like surprises, too!

Me: Thank you so much for letting us visit your office, Jean! That was fun!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Behind the scenes with . . .

better-meme Me! (Yikes!) As you can see, I’m not good at taking selfies. :D Here’s a tiny corner of my office. I especially like the thingy with all the drawers, because a dear friend gave it to me not too long before her death. deskish But I don’t write in my office anymore. Most of the time I write in my recliner in the family room. When I look up, I see this picture. viewI won this picture and I love it, because it reminds me of my Small Town World. (Funny how that works.) When I got my new hip, I wrote here– writers-couchand if you can see above the couch, those are my kiddos looking on. My first desk that I claimed all for myself was this one– 2nd-deskIf you think it looks like an old vanity table that’s lost it’s mirror, you’re right. Back then it didn’t have the game boards or the kids book on it, but it did have a big monitor and keyboard. Not an ideal place to write, but I learned a lot on that mini-desk. (Thank you, Grandma Reeves!) While I wrote there, I read through Deb Dixon’s Goal, Motivation and Conflict several times. And I still keep it handy. Now I want to introduce you to my muse. I don’t think any of the women I’ve interviewed have mentioned their muses yet, so maybe I’m the only writer with one. My sisters gave me Minerva for my birthday the month before we lost our mom. museMinerva is an Attic Baby. She’s wearing a housecoat and slippers and in her basket she has cleaning equipment and a mop and tucked in one corner is a Romance Novel called True Romance. I love her! Once in a while, Minerva just takes over and writes for me. muse-writesThat’s okay, too. :) IMG_0724When the weather’s right and it gets light early enough, I like to take my laptop outside. And yes, Linda, I have that “Oh! A Squirrel!” problem, too. I’m trying to get over it. When I’m outside here’s my view– lakeWe live on Keystone Lake, and this is the prettiest part! So, the questions I make everyone else answer. (I’ve probably answered them already, but just in case . . .) Question: Do you write in your office? If not, where else do you write.

Me: Never.

Question: Why not?

Me: Don’t ask. It’s not pretty.

Question-Where’s your favorite place you’ve ever written?

 Me: We had a retreat once at a place on Grand Lake and I loved writing there. I don’t know why, either. I might have been because I was with other writers, it might have been because our speaker did a fantastic job, or it might have been because each time we had a few free moments, my roomie went straight to her computer and went to work. So I did, too.

Question-Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever written?

Me: I don’t think there is a weird place to write. I haven’t written at work (really! I haven’t!!!) and I’ve never written anything during a funeral, but I usually have stories going on in my head. I’m afraid I’ll never have time to write all of them.

Question-Do you do anything before you write? Light a candle? Talk to Minerva?

Me: I write best in the early morning, so I make coffee before I write. Wish I did something more interesting.

Question-Do you write every day?

Me: As much as possible, unless I oversleep. I have more time on weekends, so I love writing then. Sometimes I take Christmas off.

Question-What’s the atmosphere in your office?

Me: Easy going. The kitchen’s right over my left shoulder, so I refill my coffee as often as possible. My writing partner sometimes interrupts to go outside, then to come back in. But until G-Man wakes up, it’s pretty quiet.

Writing Partner

Bossy Writing Partner

Question: Do you play music while you write? If so, how do you choose the music?

 Me: I tried to. But I found myself singing along with the music instead of writing. Silence is best for me.

Question-If you could have your dream office, what would it be?

Me: I used to think I wanted an office off by itself, but I know better now. I’d never go out there to write. And I don’t play the guitar to get my juices flowing. (Wish I could, though.) Since the kids are all married and living somewhere else, I have the entire house to write in. So my dream office is where ever me and my laptop are.

Question- How did you get started writing?

 Me: Well, it’s not because I made straight A’s in English. The truth is, I’m a huge reader. If I don’t have something to read, I’ll go nuts. And when I can’t read, I’ve always made up stories in my head to entertain myself. I found out writing them down is even more fun than just thinking them, because you get to find out how the story ends. Good stuff!

Question- Are there any how-to books you recommend for writers?

 Me: Deb Dixon’s Goal, Motivation and Conflict and just about any of James Scott Bell’s how-to books.

Question- What’s your process for starting a new book?

Me: I wish I could say, I do this and this and this, but sadly, I can’t. Sometimes I play the What If game and sometimes a character takes shape in my head and won’t leave me alone until I write her story. That’s what’s happening to me this time. I wish I knew where this story was going, but I don’t. I do think it’s a Christian Suspense, though.  Maybe.

Question- Did you struggle as a new writer or were you blessed with sales from the word go?

Me: I wish you hadn’t asked that question. The truth is, I struggled. And I’m still struggling. I sold lots of short stories, but I can’t tell you how many novels I learned on before I started selling.

Question- I know you write in more than one genre. Can you tell us a little about that?

Me: My first book was To School a Cowboy, a straight romance. The second one was Blind Sight, romantic suspense, and the third one was Make Me Howl, which is a werewolf story. Those three were published by The Wild Rose Press and under my name, Susan Shay. I just finished a manuscript called Jordan Valley that I call Christian Women’s Fiction. The new one I’m working on is also set in Jordan Valley and is (hopefully) going to be a suspense. I plan to write those as either Susan Spess or Susan Spess Shay, unless someone changes my mind for me.

Question- What piece of advice do you have for a newbie struggling writer?

Me: The best advice I can give anyone is stick with it. Find a good critique group. And read. I met a guy once who had written a long, long book he wanted to get published, so I asked him what he liked to read. He told me he didn’t read. I was shocked. Writers read. Maybe not all the time, and maybe not in the genre they write, but if a person doesn’t like to read, why would he want to write? And don’t take yourself too seriously. Look for the glee in life and laugh as often as possible, especially at yourself. After all, you know the inside story. You know how funny you really are.


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Come With Me To HollyWorld!

Holly Jacobs, one of the nicest and most prolific writers I know, is letting us into her office. I love Holly. She’s one of those people who’s always willing to help out if she can. She’s just the kind of author I want to be when I grow up! LOL.

Anyway, I couldn’t wait to get a peek into her office. Shy person that I am, I asked, and guess what! Sweet Holly came through. :)

Me: Hey, Holly Jacobs! Would you share with us a little bit of the behind the scenes of your writing life?

Holly: Sure. What would you like to know?

Me: This might seem like a silly question, but do you write in your office?

 Holly: I used to write almost exclusively in my office.

HollyJacobsOffice2-(2)

Holly cont: But as the kids got older and the house got quieter, I started writing in the backroom on the couch.  The dogs like it better.  Normally they’re right next to me as I write…they were cuddled in the recliner when my daughter took this picture!

HollyJacobsOffice-(2)

Me: Where’s your favorite place you’ve ever written?

 Holly: Really, writing on the couch in front of the fireplace is pretty near perfect!

Me: Okay. Well, tell us about the best cool weird place you’ve ever written. Dungeon? Mountain peak? Bottom of the ocean floor?

 Holly: Uh, I don’t know if I have any of those.  But I’ve written poolside, at the beach, in a hotel, in a car, at a sporting event…  I’m not sure those are weird though.  Now I’ll be looking for someplace weird to write!  LOL

Me: Cool! Be sure and share it with us when you do.

Me: Do you have a ritual you follow before you write? Light a candle? Dance naked in the moonlight?

 Holly: I’m not a naked dancing in the moonlight type.  LOL.  I tend to get up very early and answer any email and visit my social media.  Then it’s breakfast, a walk with the dogs and then I write.

Me: Do you write every day?

 Holly: Yes.  Not as much on the weekend.

Me: What’s the atmosphere in your office?

Holly: Well, when these pictures were taken, I was just getting home from a trip, so the actual office was a bit chaotic.  But this time of year sitting on my couch, it’s peaceful. The house is quiet other than the crackling of the fire.  I have a slight Yankee Candle addiction, so frequently there’s a candle burning.  The dogs are snuggled close.  It’s darn near perfect.

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Me: Do you play music while you write? If so, how do you choose the music?

 Holly: Nope. I can write in the midst of family chaos, but I prefer the quiet.  I do tend to have songs that remind me of my books.  Sometimes I listen to those repeatedly as I mull.  For instance, August’s SuperRomance, Her Second-Chance Family, has a troubled teen, and Sister Hazel’s Concede was my go-to song.

Me: If you could have your dream office, what would it be?

 Holly: I pretty much have it.  When we moved here a decade ago, I went from a huge office, to this one which has two doors so it feels like a glorified hallway.  And I lost so many bookshelves.  My husband gave me such a lovely gift.  He had a carpenter come in and put in these beautiful floor to ceiling bookshelves on two of the walls.  It’s so amazing to have everything close at hand. And frankly, every time I see those shelves I realize how much this man gets me.  He’s such an awesome husband!

DJHollyMe: I’ve heard about Holly’s wonderful husband for years, but I’ve never met him. Naturally, I asked for his picture, so she sent me this from their recent trip to Disney World. Is that cute or what? :D

Me: Tell me, Holly. How did you get started writing?

Holly: My youngest was getting to a school age and I realized that I might need a real grownup job.  I thought about all the things I might enjoy doing, and writing was the answer that kept buzzing around in the back of my mind.  But it was scary saying it.  It was such a long shot…such a dream.  Saying I want to write out loud was one of the bravest things I ever did.  And I was lucky my husband supported me from the get-go.

Me: You and your husband make an amazing team! I wish every writer had that kind of support!

Me: Are there any how-to books you recommend for writers?

 Holly: I loved Anne Lamott’s, Bird by Bird.

HollyJacobsOffice5-(2)

 Hey, TD Hart–Holly has a guitar in her office, too. Wonder if she uses it like you do?

Me: What’s your process for starting a new book?

Holly: An idea starts nibbling at me and I start jotting notes and before I know it, that idea has become a story.  I don’t know how to explain it.  It’s like magic.  Or maybe like farming!  LOL  Yes, I mean, there’s this tiny kernel and it becomes something so much bigger.

Me: Did you struggle as a new writer or were you blessed with sales from the word go?

 Holly: I was lucky in that my early stuff sold.  I sold a lot of short stories, and then some books…and I’ve been writing steadily ever since.

Me: You write in more than one genres and under more than one name. Can you tell us a little about that?

 Holly: I write as Holly Jacobs and write, straight up romantic comedy, some sweet contemporary romance and family dramas.  Then I branched out a did a comedic mystery series with a splash of romance (Maid in LA Mysteries) and most recently I’m writing blends of women’s fiction and romance.  That’s what April’s Carry Her Heart is, and last year’s bestselling Just One Thing was.  I’m enjoying these stories that are a women’s journey…that has romance in it.

It might seem that I jump around a lot, but really whether it’s a comedy or a drama, a mystery or women’s fiction, all my books are about people…about love.

Me: And you do a wonderful job of it!  What advice do you have for a newbie struggling writer?

Holly: My favorite piece of advice is write something—anything—every day.  For me, making writing part of the rhythm of my daily life!

Me: Thank you so much for letting us visit you and your office, Holly! I can’t wait to read your next book.

Holly came to Oklahoma one year to speak at our writers’ retreat, and I enjoyed that retreat more than any other one I can remember!

Holly-&-Linda

This is Holly with Linda Trout, whose office you’ve already visited, at the retreat at Grand Lake. :)

You guys can get to know Holly better at her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter @hollyjacobs1 .  And if you don’t read her already, check out her books. You’re going to love them!


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Sweet Little Wild Child

Today I’m reintroducing you to a friend of mine with a ton of guts– Ashlynn Pearce. She’s a young-in-years writer who’s lived a lot of life! On the day her first book, Rough Edges, came out, she had a stroke.

Remember, from back in January?

Even though she thought she’d never write again, she’s made her way back and is now burning up the process. I thought I’d see how and where she does it!

I love this girl, so be sure you stop by the comments section and ask a question or just say hi!

Me: Do you always write in your office?

Ashlynn: Most the time, but not always. I have a Mac laptop hooked up to a large screen with full size keyboard- but sometimes I need a change. So I’ll take it into the living room with me. Especially if I’m doing edits.

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Me: Where’s your favorite place you’ve ever written?

 Ashlynn: I’d have to say my office. It’s a cool place.

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Me: Hm. Okay, where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever written?

 Ashlynn: Years ago, I would go to Panera Bread or Barnes and Noble and write there. I really enjoyed that. Since I’m not allowed to drive any further than the bank, which is two minutes away, I don’t do that anymore.

Me: Do you do anything before you write? Light a candle? Dance around the house?

Ashlynn: I kinda have a pattern. I do email, blogs, social media first and then hit writing.

Me: Do you write every day?

 Ashlynn: My goal is to write every day during the week but because of health issues, that doesn’t always happen. And life can sometimes get in the way. Laundry doesn’t wash itself. I don’t usually try on weekends. Family time and whatnot.

Me: So tell us about the atmosphere in your office.

 Ashlynn: It’s colorful. Bright pinks, blues and purples decorate my office. Hubs won’t let me paint the walls a crazy color, so I do it with nick-knacks, a very colorful rug and bright pink curtains.

That said, I love to write when its raining. It’s my favorite writing weather and I like my office dim. I realize that’s a complete contradiction, but it’s no secret I’m a li’l odd.

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Me: You listen to music while you write. How do you choose the music?

 Ashlynn: I have playlists for every book I write. And the music depends on the story. But I always have music playing. I can’t write without it.

If you want to listen to the music that inspired my books, you can follow all my playlists on Spotify here 12169150219. There is a wide range of music and it all depends on the characters.

Me: If you could have your dream office, what would it be?

Ashlynn: You know, this is going to sound weird, but I have it. There are two large windows in my office that face our waterfall and pond. I can’t see it, but I can hear it if I open the windows. I have my favorite gargoyle licking a pen on my desk.

I have a stuffed dog my son got me when I had my stroke and it went everywhere with me. It’s had MRI’s and all sorts of tests done on it. A picture of my hubs and the kids when they were little. A pen holder in the shape of a pink tulip. A replica time-turner from Harry Potter.

Me: So how did you come by this magical writing space?

 Ashlynn: This room was originally supposed to be a very open formal dining room. But, it was very important to my Hubs that it was closed in and double French doors put in before we even moved in.

That he made it so important, makes me love this room that much more.

Those things make it my dream office. :D

Me: How did you get started writing?

Ashlynn: How did I get started? A dream. No, literally, I dreamed a story. And thought, why not? So I bought a good pen and a notebook and started writing.

I didn’t know anything about computers back then. I didn’t know what program you used to write or that there was a format that you needed to use.

All I knew was I’d read thousands (and I mean thousands-I started reading them when I was 13 and would read no less than 2 a week from there on out) and this story dream wouldn’t leave me alone. No, that one isn’t published, but I plan on releasing it one day.

Then I joined this amazing writers group. They taught me, encouraged me, pushed me and I absorbed as much as I could from them. (Ms. Susan is one of them, btw) I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without them.

I still love every single one of them. They were, and still are, super supportive. Even if they would laugh at my lack of grammar abilities. (still suck at grammar-but I keep trying and I have an editor— know your weaknesses!)

Me: I laughed because your grammar abilities are so much like mine!

What books to you keep close at hand while you’re writing?

Ashlynn: Writers books I use regularly— The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi (AWESOME book! Helps you really dig into showing the emotion and not telling), The Writers Digest Character-Naming Sourcebook by Sherilyn Kenyon (I love original names) and Thesaurus online. (I have a habit of getting stuck on one word and using it a lot. It helps me switch it up. Do NOT use it to find words no one has every heard of… Just a tip)

Me: Click on the title to check out those books!

What do you see when you look out that window?

The windows face the front of the house and I see the backside rock of the small waterfall, that leads into a short creek, which falls off into a bigger waterfall and large pond. There is a small bridge you have to walk across to get to our front door, so thats in my view.

In every season but winter there are all kinds of birds and squirrels that love to play in the creek and eat from the bird feeder. They are so fun to watch.

My puppies hang out with me in my office and they like to bird and squirrel watch, too.

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Me: What piece of advice do you have for a newbie struggling writer?

 Ashlynn: #1-The first draft of anything is crap. The second draft of anything is crap. If you can accept that and realize the editing and polishing are what make it a good story, you will quit worrying if you’re any good.

#2- You can’t edit a blank page. And I do know that blank page staring at you with the little cursor blinking at you is the most intimidating thing in the world. (I face it every time I start a new story) Grit your teeth, hunker down in your chair and just write.

#3-Don’t get caught up in the “right” way to do it. Not when you start out. Refer to step number two.

And the last thing, probably the most important, find one or two critique partners you trust. Not family if you can help it. People you can bounce ideas off of and read your stuff when your stuck. Believe me, they are worth their weight in gold.

Me: Do you have any advice for people who find themselves struggling through bad things that happen in life, such as your stroke?

Ashlynn: Life is short. Really, really short. So chase that dream, whatever it is. Make time for it. Don’t put it off. You never know when your number is up or when the ability might be snatched from you. Take it from someone who thought I’d never be able to write again after suffering a stroke. Don’t waste time worrying about what other people think or might say. Just do it. It’s your life and you only get one. Do it your way.

Thank you for sharing, Ashlynn! BTW all y’all–you can follow Ashlynn on Facebook , her website, and Twitter @ashlynn_pearce .

She has a new series called Dirtslap and the first book in that series is called Fuel (click the link to purchase) and another coming on May 7th called Wreck.

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11 Comments

Jennifer Adolph in the Wood Shed!

I know some of the nicest people in the world. And I want you to know them, too! Meet my friend, T.D. Hart aka Jennifer Mathews Adolph. Click on her name and it’ll take you to her website, tdhart.blogspot.com.

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She’s one of those people who just amazes me. She’s a large animal veterinarian (hard to imagine!) who retired and is now writing full time. She has three kiddos, one husband, rent houses she takes care of, she just sold one home and moved into another, and she’s still a prolific writer!

And even though she hasn’t published a book yet, it’s just a matter of moments before she does. How do I know?

Because I’ve read her work. And (in case you don’t quite trust my reading taste) she won first place in both categories she entered at the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. contest last year.

three-of-usJennifer is the gorgeous blonde in the middle holding two (2!) first place certificates. Rhenna Morgan is the blonde on Jen’s left, and I’m not sure who the dorky photo-bomber on the right is. ;)

Me: So, Jen, where’s your favorite place to write?

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Jen: This is where I go every year–Longbeach, Washington–and where I hope to move when the kids graduate.

For me, writing is an immersive process. To write authentically, I need to slip into my character’s skin and see/feel/experience what she’s feeling, ask how she’ll respond to the situation I’ve put her in. For that, I need solitude.

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Me: Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever written?

Jen: Okay. The strangest place I’ve ever written is where I’m sitting this very minute–a plywood garden shed (not a wood shed!) in our backyard, surrounded by tools and paint cans and fertilizer. I’ve been spoiled up to this point, so I’m not complaining. But I’ll be glad when we get it cleaned out/insulated/painted/heated.

My old writing nook is now Chris’s home office, and that’s where my books are–Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing, Lee Lofland’s Crime Writer’s Handbook, Strunk and White. When we get the shed redone I’ll bring them out here.

(Click on any of the titles and they’ll take where you can buy your own copy!)

Jen: I always keep a guitar in my writing room. There’s something magical about making music with your left hand that frees up the creative part of your mind. I don’t understand it, but I’m glad it works.

Me: I wonder if a kazoo would work? That’s about the only instrument I can play. So, do you only use your office for writing?

Jen: I’d like to tell you I only use my space for writing. Um…yes, that’s what I’m going to say (wink, wink.)

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Jen: This is our template for remodeling a small shed in our new backyard.

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Jen: This is the view was taken from a balcony at Big Cedar Lodge in the Ozark Mountains, where I just spent four days grinding through the next Sam Benning story.

Me: I’m surprised the outdoor gorgeousness doesn’t lure her away from her writing, but like I said, she’s dedicated! So, Jennifer, do you have a ritual you follow before you write? Put on music? Sacrifice small mammals?

Jen: LOL. I’ve never considered blood sacrifice. Seems appropriate given my subject matter.

I do light candles. Usually I start my morning clearing the wreckage left by my family, then have a quiet breakfast and take care of the dogs. When my mind is settled, I fire up the laptop and get right to work. Around noon I take a break, eat lunch, and work until it’s time to get the kids.

I keep track of my words/hours on an Excel spreadsheet, and try to hit self-imposed goals. I don’t always hit them, but find I do a better job when I measure my results.

About once a month I take off for writer’s retreats at the lake, where I write like crazy–cranking out huge sections the book. I gain momentum and always come home feeling like I’ve caught the thread of my story.

Did I mention there’s no internet at the lake?

At home, I’m most productive in the morning. At the lake, I write until I get sleepy, then wake up and write more. Some of my best scenes have come at two in the morning.

Me: Aw, man, I want to be you when I grow up! What advice do you have for other writers to help them in their journey?

Jen: For the newbie, I’d say, “Just start writing–with the understanding that it won’t be as good as you think (yet.) Then, when you’ve written enough to recognize some of your craft deficits, seek feedback from a professional or group of published writers, and listen to what they say. Recognize it’s going to take longer to get good than you’re hoping. And read everything in your genre.”

Jen: If you’ve been writing for several years and haven’t sold, I’d again try to get honest feedback. If you’ve been getting great reviews and won contests, but just haven’t attracted a traditional publisher, I’d say hire an editor in your genre and self-pub. Or try some other form of publishing–say, putting your work on your website a chapter at a time.

Me: I can’t thank you enough for letting us have this peek into your writing life. I feel like I’ve been a fly on your office wall.

As soon as your first book is published, I hope you’ll come back for another chat! This was fun!

Hey, all y’all, you can find TD/Jennifer on her website, on Facebook  and on Twitter @theladyvet. Be sure and tell her Susan says hi!

So . . . any questions for Jennifer? Why’d she give up the glamorous life of a veterinarian to be a writer? How long does she take to write a book?

All you have to do is ask!

 

 

 

 


22 Comments

Linda Trout’s Closet

Let me explain–

There’s this thing about me. I think people are fascinating . (ie: Everybody has A Story!)

I might have mentioned, I’m not only a writer, I’m also a reading knitter (or a knitting reader.) Naturally, I like to read about other people’s lives. I’ve suffered mightily because most knitting magazines only have patterns, nothing about the knitters who created them.

There is one TV show I watch about knitting. This past season, they advertised they’d changed their format to include a segment that was about studio to studio, I was so excited! I thought we’d get knitting area tours of their homes. I hoped they’d show us the whys and how-I’s of their lives.

Again, disappointment! Turns out, it’s just a segment done with the host in one place, the guest in another, but nothing about the guest’s home or knitting area or how they make life work while knitting.

Now that’s a real a bummer. ;)

So I started wondering, are there other people like me? People who like to see behind the scenes and inside the lives around them? Where people (writers) work, how they work and why?

Ummm, could be!

So I decided to take up the slack.

(♪♫ Fanfare! ♪♫) Let me introduce to  you to–

 Linda Trout’s Closet

linda-at-her-deskI’ve introduced Linda to you before. She’s one of those nice ladies who is really gorgeous and talented and writes tension filled books. She writes suspense and has two books and a novella to her credit!

Her most recent release is Last Hope Alaska.

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It’s a fabulous read! (If you click on the title, it’ll take you to the place where you can buy it, and I’ll get the credit!)

I’ve never been in Linda’s home, so I asked her where she writes.

Linda– “My office is a former walk-in closet that’s shaped like an L. The ‘L’ part is used as storage…has a set of shelves that are loaded down w/blankets, extra pillows, etc.

 

Me: Where are some other places you write?

Linda–“When I’m at home, my office is the only place I write. I make it a point to not write outdoors. I’d be too much like, “Ooh! A squirrel!” Soon the writing would be totally forgotten as I can find all sorts of things to do in the yard.”

Me: What’s the atmosphere like?

Linda– “It’s grand central station. Cats come in to bug me to pay more attention to them. One wants in my lap and another wants me to rub her belly. The credenza is packed full of writing stuff, a lot of which could be pitched so the drawers would open easier. As I said before, the ‘L’ is a storage area. Suitcases, old press kits that the lady from the Tulsa World brought to our meeting that time, tote bags from conferences, bedding, office supplies, table decorations for book signings, business and personal receipts. You name it, it’s probably stuffed in there. LOL.”

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“I always have a glass a sweet tea sitting next to the computer and a bag of cinnamon roasted almonds on the shelf for a ‘brain’ snack.”

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“You can see some of my contest certificates hanging on the wall as well as a couple of quilts. One, my MIL made for us as a thank you for putting a new roof on her house a couple months after my FIL passed away. The other is a Yo-Yo quilt top my maternal grandmother made for me when I was a teenager.”

Me: So, do you have a ritual or something you do to start your writing time? Light a candle, play your sound track, bite the head off a chicken?

Linda– “Sorry. No chicken sacrifices. Unlike a lot of writers, I don’t play music, either. I do my best writing at night when all is quiet, the cats have settled down-or gone outside, hubby has turned off the TV and gone to bed. All the lights are out except for the one in my office (we have a very open concept home). The office is just around the corner from our bed and even though the man is out like a light 90 seconds after his head hits the pillow, I still try to be quiet. I guess this helps to center me so I can focus. It’s amazing the plot points I get figured out after 10pm.

Me: That is amazing, because I’m out like a burned down candle stub after 10 pm.

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Linda– “Oh, and I always work in sweats in the winter, and shorts and a t-shirt in the summer. Comfort all the way! LOL.”

Me: Okay,  so where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever written?

Linda– “It really isn’t a weird place, but I once wrote several hundred words on a Dana on my way to Alaska for vacation. Then I wrote while sitting on the bed and looking out of the window of our B&B and watching a pair of Bald Eagles teaching their chicks to fish.”

 Me: That’s so cool! (Not sure I could stay in and write with all that going on.)

Linda adds: “I’m pretty plain Jane, I suppose, compared to a lot of other writers. Too bad I don’t dance around in colorful outfits, blaring music that could wake the neighbors 10 acres over. My quieter side (some would say my inner psycho, since I write suspense) seems to be where my stories come from. Hmm I write about killers and I do my best writing when it’s dark outside. What does that say about me?”

 

Me: It says you’re a darned interesting lady! I knew there was A Story there!

So, anybody else have a question for Linda? Anything you want to know such as how many hours she writes each week, how long it takes her to write a book, does she take her characters from real life or what her favorite part of the process?

All you have to do is ask! I’m sure she’ll be glad to answer. :D

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