Happy Release Day To Paul A. Shortt

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

Happy Release Day! 

Welcome back to the blog! I looked back at your first interview from August of 2011. So much has changed for you since then!

Thanks for having me again! Yeah, things have come along a lot. It's been a really exciting time.

First, tell us about Locked Within.

Did the inspiration for this book come from any particular source? 

I had seen an increase in the amount of books where the hero was some powerful supernatural creature. I wanted to try something different, where the hero was just a man. Sure, Nathan Shepherd gains knowledge from past lives through the course of the book, and learns how to harness the power of being reborn, but compared to his enemies he's just a mortal. He has vulnerabilities and has to use his wits to get by.

Reincarnation has always interested me. The idea that we've been here before, and will be again, is kind of comforting. One thing I hadn't seen much of was a setting where reincarnation was considered the norm, and it was assumed that most people had been reborn at least once. Although Locked Within features conflict over the matter, it's still a world where reincarnation forms a central point in the development of the supernatural society.

Locked Within is set in New York City. I know you recently took a trip there. Had you visited there before writing the book? Where did you visit that is mentioned in the book? 

My wife and I had our honeymoon in New York 4 years ago. The book was firmly in my mind at the time, and had been for many years, but I hadn't started writing yet. We spent 2 weeks in Manhattan. Between that and our week there earlier this year, we still haven't seen or done everything we wanted to!

I've visited several places that appear in Locked Within. The New York Public Library and Riverside Park in particular play important roles, and Grand Central Station appears as well. There's also a bar called Druids in Hell's Kitchen which pretty much serves as the location for a disused bar that features in a particular scene.

Can you describe the feel of holding a book with your name on the cover? ('cause some of us are still waiting for that, you know!)

There's no one feeling that can really describe it. Excitement. Fear. Giddiness. Pride. Fear. It was more than just a feeling of accomplishment; it was also a sense of responsibility. I'm a professional author now, I've achieved my lifelong dream, so I have to work even harder than ever to stay here. 

But at the same time, yeah, I've achieved my lifelong dream. It's amazing to look at the book, feel the pages, smell the paper, then read my name on the cover and think "Wow, I did this."

So, you are doing a live book launch as well as a virtual launch on Twitter (which I think is awesome.) How is that going work? 

The live launch is being held in Hughes and Hughes bookstore in Dundrum, which is near Dublin. The store is doing an amazing amount to promote the event and we've already reached 100 confirmed guests on the Facebook event. I can't wait!

The virtual launch will be the following night. I'll make sure to start it at a time when people from the other side of the Atlantic can make it. I'll assign a Twitter hashtag for people to use so that anyone who's online can join in and chat about the book. 

And, do I understand correctly, that you are already working on a sequel? Tell us about that and when we can look for it. 

Yeah! I've actually been working on it since last year. I'm currently in the middle of a hefty re-write before sending it back to my publisher. Originally my plan was to write 6 books about Nathan Shepherd, but after thinking things over, I decided to shorten the series into a much more manageable trilogy.

The sequel, Forgotten Cause, continues Nathan's story and has him facing not only the consequences of his actions in Locked Within, but also actions taken in his past lives. He comes face to face with an old nemesis, and a woman who could be an ally, lover, or a traitor. If the manuscript is accepted by my publisher and the editing goes well, we should be on course for a release date in 2013.

Last, on a personal note, tell us about the twins! 

Hehe, yeah, those two are currently kicking lumps out of my wife's insides. As you may know, last year we had our first baby, a boy named Conor. We lost him after only three days. It was a really hard time, the worst we could possibly imagine, but we had our friends and family to get us through.

We knew we wanted more kids, so when we found out Jen, my wife, was pregnant again, we were thrilled. You can imagine our surprise at the first scan when the midwife said "I think that's another fetal sac." It was small, less than half the size of the larger one, but there was a definite heartbeat. The midwife was concerned we might lose the smaller one. My wife said that as soon as she saw the heartbeat on the monitor, she knew the second twin would be fine. At the next scan Twin 2 had caught up completely and now the pair of them are weighing in well above the average, even for single babies!

We're expecting them to be delivered by c-section on the 28th of December, but based on their size they could decide to come early. It's been a pretty incredible year. Our lives are changing in big ways and I can't wait to see what's next!

It has been awesome getting to know Paul through his writing journey. 

What else would you like to know? You can leave a question in the comments, or if you have minute, leave him a note of congratulations on his first release. 

Welcome Jill Myles!

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday


and her alter egos: 
Jessica Sims and Jessica Clare

Let's get to know Jill!

Introduce yourself and all of your alter egos (pen names). What does everybody write? 

I write under three (whew!) names currently:
Beauty Dates the Beast
Jessica Sims – paranormal romances
Jill Myles The Succubus Diaries (a quasi paranormal romance/urban fantasy) and self-publishing
Jessica Clare – starting next year, I’ll be publishing under this name. The books will be erotic contemporary romance.

 What made you decide to write?  What did you do before becoming a writer?

I worked (and still do work) for a very large financial institution. I love the thought of writing full time, but I love a 401k and health insurance more at the moment! I’ve always written here and there, though – it wasn’t until I hit my mid-twenties that I was bored with my career path and decided to turn all my journal scribblings into a novel.

I loved Wicked Games, what inspired you to write about a reality show?
Wicked Games

I really love reality TV gameshows. Not bridezilla or dating stuff – but I love Survivor and The Amazing Race. There’s just something so exciting and adventurous about those sorts of things. Plus, it really brings out the worst (and the best) in some people. I’ve watched so many seasons and I’ve always thought that it would be the perfect opportunity for a pair of characters to hook up. So I wrote it!

Do you have a writing routine? What does it look like? Where do you usually write?

I credit my husband with my productivity. He’s my coach – he encourages me to hit my word counts every day, and nags me until I do. It’s so effective I ask him to constantly stay on me to ensure I get stuff done! I’m kind of, what’s the word, FLAKY, so if he isn’t there to remind me, I might get distracted by shiny objects and not follow through.

My writing routine is not so glamorous. I sit in a chair with a lapdesk and my Alphasmart, and write until I get my word count. On weekdays, it’s a smaller goal (1k) and on weekends it’s a larger goal (anywhere from 3k to 5k). Writing every day really makes the word count fly, but I don’t beat myself up too much if I can’t swing it that day.
Is the life of a writer what you thought it be? What is different?
It’s what I imagined it would be…and not. Lots of deadlines, lots of writing. Sometimes a little stressful when reviews aren’t what you hoped they would be. I thought I’d be able to write full time, too! So much for that. J

With as many books as you have out, do you have any special time management tricks for working in writing time and living a normal life?
I don’t have children, so I credit a lot of productivity to that. Plus, my husband coaching me (as mentioned above). Other than that, you just have to want it really badly. You have to recognize what sorts of things derail your productivity and cut them out. I love video games, but when I’m on deadline, I can’t play them because they eat at my brain and distract me. I can’t work at my laptop because the internet distracts me. It’s all about finding the things that bog you down and cutting them out.

 What is the best advice you have received about this journey?
Write the book you want to read, but also write the book that plays to your strengths. If you’re not good at certain aspects of writing (be it world building or sexual tension), write stories that don’t focus on those parts so you end up looking smarter than you are!
Also? Writing advice is crap, for the most part. Find what works for you and stick with that.

What advice do you wish someone would have given you when you were starting out?
You really don’t have to put a book aside for six months to revise it. Not everyone can handle that well. I did that when I first started writing, and by the time I’d go back to the manuscript, I’d lost all enthusiasm for it and didn’t want to edit it. I’m a writer that works best when I still have the fire burning in my belly. If you’re like that, don’t put the book aside for six months! You’ll kill it! Finish that last page, then start over and edit right away.

 What do you do to fight burnout? Do you ever worry about "running out of stories"? How do combat that?
I stack stories. Which sounds crazy, but I usually don’t get burned out on writing, just on the story I’m working on. So I give myself a second story as a ‘carrot’ to encourage me to write. I can work on this shiny new project if I get my wordcount in on this other project. Plus, I read a lot.

 What kind of scenes do you have a hard time writing?
That’s hard. I always struggle with the climax of the book, I think. I dread it and my writing slows down as I move toward it, and then one day, it just all arrives on paper in one massive brain dump. But I never look forward to the climax of a novel.

 Do you ever write material based on your close relationships, such as a best friend? How do you balance that material with the need to tell an interesting story?
God no. I mean, I think we are all inspired by things that happen in our lives, but overall, I don’t cobble characters from other people that I know. I think that can get you into more trouble than its worth!

 What sources do you use for inspiration? ( Music, movies, people watching)
I read a lot. Watch TV (who doesn’t?) and I try to pick up on the quirks of people. Oh, and I’m addicted to Wikipedia and reading up on obscure figures in history. Oddly enough, they figure into my writing quite often. One of the characters in an upcoming book is based on an infamous Greek hetaera, for example. I take what we know about those characters and I let my brain roll their timeline forward, imagining what they’d be like now.

 What do you do when you aren’t writing?
I sleep. There’s never enough hours in the day for sleeping. Plus, I’m a video game fanatic (current favorites are Uncharted 2, Left 4 Dead, and Dead Space) and I read a lot. I try to read at least a book or two a week. Sometimes I go through dry spells, but overall I hit about 100 books a year.

 Tell us a bit about your work in progress.
I’m almost done with a first draft of The Care and Feeding of Alpha Males – it’s going to be the next book in my Bluebonnet series for Berkley Heat. After that, I am full steam ahead on Succubi Are Forever.

What is next for you?
My next release is a short story in the Agony/Ecstasy anthology. My next full release (not counting Succubi Are Forever) is The Girl’s Guide to (Man) Hunting under my Jessica Clare name. It comes out next May. Next fall I’m going to have three releases in a really short timeframe – a second Jessica Clare book, and two more Jessica Sims books.

 How can we find out more about you? Blogs? Facebook? Twitter?
I have a blog, but I mostly use it for announcements at this point. I tweet under @JillMyles and I have a facebookpage (though I don’t check it as often as I should).

Thank you so much for stopping by, Jill!
So, anything else you want to know about Jill? 

California Dreaming

Thinking about Thursday

In honor the first week of school, this is a re-post from January. It just still seemed appropriate. 
 California Dreaming
(Or is it gray? Did you know there is actually a website devoted to answering that question?   

             I am not really dreaming about California, but I felt like giving  a nod to The Mamas and The Papas anyway. Today, like most days when I am flat tired from my day job, I am dreaming about the life of a full time writer.
           I picture it like this :
  1. I send the kids off to school with a smile because I haven't spent the morning yelling things like,    "When you are late, then I am late! I don't care the socks don't match. Put them on and let's go!"                 
  2. I walk an hour on my treadmill while analyzing my plot points, constructing my character arcs and composing witty, believable dialogue. Added benefit: I lose 20-75 pounds while  working.                                                                                                                                                        
  3. I walk through my clean house with no dishes in the sink and no mound o' laundry poised to avalanche on to the kitchen floor to my computer.
  4. I write uninterrupted for hours as the words flow freely in the silent buzz of the empty house. I pause only to smile at my four legged companion who likes to sleep on my feet. Several thousands words a day grace my work in progress.  
  5. I have a quiet, peaceful lunch with my husband without having to remind someone not eat with her face in the plate like she is a dog. We also discuss sensitive topics without converting the conversation into "hide -the- true -meaning- from- the- kids" code which neither one of us can understand, but the kids can decipher with little effort. 
  6. I go back to writing for hours when he returns to work. Then easily shut down the computer when my children arrive home. Confident I have written my best and expended my creativity for the day.
  7. I spend the evening guilt-free. I cheerfully help with homework and prepare dinner instead of trying to write, microwave chicken strips and recite spelling words.
  8. I check homework, make the costume for the school play and remember snacks for the Girl Scout meeting because I am focused and organized without the added responsibilities of teaching
  9.  I check my email, converse with my friends on twitter, and prepare my blogs.
  10. I climb into bed at a decent hour, knowing all my ideas will wait. I have all day tomorrow to write. There is no need to stay up until all hours of the night.
*SIGH* So that is my dream. I know nothing is ever like you think it will be and my dream probably needs a reality check.

So tell me, what do you picture being a full-time writer to be like? If you are a full-timer, what is your day like?
( Be gentle. It is the only bubble I've got, don't burst it too harshly)

Welcome Wendy Lyn Watson!

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

Wendy Lyn Watson teaches constitutional law to college students by day and writes deliciously funny cozy mysteries, with a dollop of romance, by night. While she does not commit–or solve–murders in real life, her love of ice cream is 100% true. She’s also passionately devoted to 80s music, Asian horror films, and reality TV. A native of Ohio, she’s lived in Virginia, Michigan, Minnesota, Louisiana, and Texas, where she currently lives with her husband and four spoiled felines.

I am a fan of Wendy's Mystery a la Mode series. In fact, I have about ten pounds I blame squarely on Scoop to Kill as well as You Scream, I Scream. As I have mentioned before, the woman describes ice cream in a way that makes you swear it was almost as good as sex! The third book in the series, A Parfait Murder,  is due out this summer.

 Let's get to know Wendy
   Do you have a writing routine? What does it look like? Where do you usually write?

I don’t have a specific routine, but I’m definitely a sprinter.  I have to think about scenes—let them percolate on the back burner—for quite a while.  Then, when I sit down to write, they come tumbling out.   Doesn’t really matter where I am when that happens:  couch, desk, coffee shop … it’s all good.

Is the life of a writer what you thought it be? What is different?

Honestly?  No.  At the risk of sounding hopelessly naïve, I really thought that once you sold a book the hard part was over.  Uh, no.  Not so much.  I also foolishly assumed the money would be better, that even mid-list authors would at least make enough money to live modestly.  Again, naïve.

    Do you have any special time management tricks for working in writing time   and living a normal life?

I don’t know if this counts as a trick, but I’ve redefined “normal”.  I’m not magic, after all.  At the end of the day, I’m working two full-time jobs.  I had to wake up and realize I cannot work two full-time jobs AND have a vibrant social life AND be a good homemaker AND get my Christmas cards out on time … something had to give.  Giving myself permission to let the laundry pile up was the best thing I ever did.

 What is the best advice you have received about this journey?

The only thing a writer can control is the words she puts on the page.  Write well and that is success. 

    What do you do to fight burnout? Do you ever worry about "running out of stories"? How do combat that?

Every time I sit down in front of the computer I worry the words will not come.  I combat that fear by free writing.  Divorcing the writing from the task of spinning a story allows me to tap into a well of creative images and ideas.  I’m constantly amazed by what I dredge up during a free writing exercise.

     What kind of scenes do you have a hard time writing?

    The first scene in a story is always the most difficult for me.  Picking the precise moment to join a life in progress, figuring out what information is necessary and what can wait … that’s a lot of pressure!

    What sources do you use for inspiration? ( Music, movies, people watching)

All of the above!  I draw on my own relationships, stories I read in the news, random people I meet in the community, snippets of lyrics … it all gets mixed up and mushed together in my head. 

    What do you do when you aren’t writing?

I earn a living teaching government to college kids.  I spend “free time” hanging out with my friends, watching movies with my husband, napping with our cats, cooking, crafting . . .

    What is next for you?

I just finished up the third Mystery a la Mode (A Parfait Murder).  I’ve got a few projects in the hopper right now—another cozy series, a darker mystery series, a romantic suspense—and I’m trying to figure out which is the best fit for me right now

You can find out more about Wendy on her website or her Facebook. You can also find her blogging on www.killercharacters.com 

In honor of Wendy's Mystery a la Mode series, let's talk ice cream! What is your favorite flavor? Favorite brand? Weirdest flavor you have ever tasted/heard of? 

Sharla Lovelace

    Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

Please welcome 

Sharla Lovelace

Sharla is represented by Jessica Faust of Bookends.  She is an author of women's fiction with a paranormal romantic twist...of the lighter variety. Anything ghostly or surreal or not quite of this world that doesn't spew anything gross and maybe make you laugh. She's a huge fan of romantic comedy, so "funny" always squirms its way into her writing. 
You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Let's get to know Sharla!

  Do you have a writing routine? What does it look like? Where do you usually write?   I work full time and have a teenager so my “routine” is pretty much whatever time I manage to grab.  Sometimes that is in the form of sitting in my car in someone’s driveway, with a notebook and pen.  On weekends I usually get up at 6am and sit in my living room recliner with my dog and my coffee and write for 3-4 hours before anyone is moving around.  That’s precious time. 

   Is the life of a writer what you thought it be? What is different?  Nothing is different yet.  LOL.  Since being agented, the only thing different is the conversations.  I’ve spent years with the goal of “get an agent”, now the goals and topics are new, like learning a foreign language.

    Do you have any special time management tricks for working in writing time and living a normal life?  The above-mentioned driveway…

   What is the best advice you have received about this journey?   To never give up.  And do your research.  Know everything about the agents you query, read their blogs, follow their tweets.  Don’t do the very things they’ve publicly posted that annoy them…those are silly careless mistakes that can be avoided.   And at DFWCon, the amazing Sandra Brown told me in the book signing line to “keep the faith and it will happen”.  Sounds good to me.

   What advice do you wish someone would have given you when you were starting out?   Find out all the publishing and formatting rules before you start writing!  LOL.  My first book was written before I ever looked up a thing on the internet.  It was 219K words.  Yep, I learned all about editing.

What do you do to fight burnout? Do you ever worry about "running out of stories"? How do combat that?   I don’t have burnout, but I do get writer’s block and it freaks me out.  I start worrying I’ll never write another book.  What if the publisher wants a multi-book deal and I’m left catatonic?  I tend to stress myself into writer’s block.  Once I relax, the clouds part and the ideas rain down like manna.

     What sources do you use for inspiration? ( Music, movies, people watching)  Definitely people watching.  I get the best stuff just by listening and watching.  And also TV.  I’ll hear a line or (and my husband hates this) I pick up plot ideas off TV shows we watch and analyze it and figure out how to do it differently.  I can’t just watch TV anymore, I’m picking apart the story structure.

     What do you do when you aren’t writing?  Laundry.  Oh, and going to work while wishing I was back in that recliner.

      Tell us a bit about your work in progress.   Hmmmm, can’t do that yet.  It’s still in the infant stage and may self-destruct if I expose it.  I write paranormal women’s fiction, so I’ll tell you it has to do with psychic ability….that’s all.  J

 What is next for you?   Hopefully a book sale for Anything But Normal!

I had the pleasure of hanging out with Sharla during DFWCon. She is great!
You can follow her blog at  http://sharlalovelace.com/

Say Hello to Jeanne Guzman

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

Featured Author:
Jeanne Guzman

             Hello out there, my name is Jeanne Guzman and I write Paranormal Romance.  Married to my best friend for 28 years, 4 wonderful children, and 7 (yes, you’re reading that right) grandchildren.  

          I’ve been 38 for 8 years now and have no intention of getting any older.  I’m also the keeper of the zoo with 4 dogs, a cat, a rabbit and 6 fish. 
           I have the first book in my “Dragon Hunters Series” titled “Dragon Lover” making the rounds to agents and editors, and my fingers are crossed and a candle is lit in hopes that I hear back from one particular acquisitions editor soon.   

            If you get a chance, stop by my website
and read a snipit of Dragon Lover.  

            Or, if you’re in the neighborhood, 
look for me on Facebook.

             Until we meet again, God bless America, and God bless Nora Roberts.

Let's get to know Jeanne better!

    Dawn:      Do you have a writing routine? What does it look like? Where do you usually write?  

     Jeanne:  I have a very strict routine. 
 I get up every morning, make that first cup of tea (I don’t do coffee) let the dogs out (they sleep in my office), turn on my computer, then I sit in front of the empty screen until my brain kicks in. 

Dawn:     Is the life of a writer what you thought it be? What is different?

Jeanne:  Well, I thought all I had to do was write a book, send it into the publisher, and within weeks I’d have a check in the mail for fifty thousand dollars.  I’m sure there are others out there that are laughing right now, I know I am.  It’s not that easy.  Writing is work.  It’s blood and sweat and tears.

     Dawn:     Do you have any special time management tricks for working in writing time and living a normal life?

 Jeanne : I find that any time I have the house to myself is the best time to write.  Sometimes it’s in the middle of the night, mostly it’s Monday through Friday from sun-up until my husband gets home from work.

     Dawn:   What is the best advice you have received about this journey? 

Jeanne:  Never give up.  If writing is your dream, then write.          

    Dawn:    What advice do you wish someone would have given you when you were starting out?

Jeanne: Forget whatever it is you thought you knew about writing and do your research.
    Dawn:   What do you do to fight burnout? Do you ever worry about "running out of stories"? How do combat that? 

Jeanne: I think the answer to all three of those questions is critique partners.  I’m lucky to have two of the best at my disposal.  They push, prod, browbeat, and are there to dry my tears when I need them.

   Dawn:   What sources do you use for inspiration ? 

      Jeanne: My inspiration comes from several different sources. 
      A certain song can inspire a scene, an actor or model can inspire a character, 
      people  watching can inspire a  storyline, and family can be there to give advice
      on where to go from the blank page. 

Dawn:    What do you do when you aren’t writing?  

Jeanne:  When I’m not writing, I’m traveling around in my motor coach with my husband and my youngest children, Oso and Dakota (my Yorkies)
    Dawn: Tell us a bit about your work in progress.

  Jeanne:  My work in progress is the second in a paranormal series.  It has a working title of Dragon Within and it’s about an orphaned girl who grows up to rid the world of evil, about a dragon who’s soul mission in life it to protect her and their journey to find happiness and love (this is a romance)

Dawn: What is next for you?
Jeanne: Next—book 3 Child of the Dragon

Thank you so much for stopping by! 
Check on Jeanne Guzman on her website