I Finally Did It

I wrote a book.  It might not be perfect, but it is mine – all mine.

I have been ghostwriting Amish Romance Novels for quite a while now, and my husband told me I should think about doing my own book.  I kind of laughed when he first mentioned it thinking – Yea no way I could ever do that. Then I started doing some research on the popularity of Amish Romance and found out it is HOT.  Women love these clean romance novels. So by doing my searching, I then found by accident, the books I had been ghostwriting and I started reading the reviews.  Now the author changed the names and added a few details to the books but the story is mine, but the reviews were all 5 stars so it really got me thinking.

Long story short – I did it.  Not sure where this will go, but it has opened my writer’s gate and the floods of ideas are coming faster than I can handle it.

https://www.amazon.ca/Amelia-Part-1-Two-Brothers-ebook/dp/B01I3TX41Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1467981035&sr=8-1&keywords=Leah+Miller

 

 

Today’s Interview is with …..

James McHarg.  I had the pleasure of having an interview with James McHarg,  an up and coming new Author.  We worked together for several years and our days usually started out with coffee in his office chatting on a vast array of subjects.  When he retired, he was greatly missed.

One of the things I found out about him during one of our many morning conversations,  is that he loved to write and planned on pursuing this skill upon his retirement.  Well, he did exactly that.  He published his first novella which was a thriller titled Incoming Call and it was released world-wide in the fall of 2015.  Following that, his second suspense novella, Sins of the Past came out in May 2016.  Both wonderful reads I might add.

I admire him very much.  Most people have dreams that they never fulfill and live the rest of their lives with regrets.  We learn from people like Jim so I thought it would be  a great opportunity to ask him a few questions about his experiences and share with everyone.

So without further adieu, I give you my Interview with James McHarg.

  1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always had an interest in writing and penned a couple of short stories when I was in my twenties, mostly just for fun. At the time, being a shy person, I didn’t dare consider publication. Life went by, and, preoccupied with all that goes along with it, I didn’t pick writing up again until I retired.

  1. Where do your ideas come from?

I’m fascinated by ordinary people who find themselves plunged into extraordinary circumstances. For that reason, my story ideas tend to spring from every day events. From there, my imagination conjures up an unusual twist, putting the unfortunate protagonist in situations that would threaten the sanity of most people. The real thrill for me comes from creating that seemingly real person and discovering how he or she reacts to the surreal stuff I throw at them.

  1. What genre are your books and would you consider any others?

So far, I’ve written stories in the horror, thriller, mystery, and sci-fi / fantasy genres. For my next project, I want to pursue the mystery / suspense genre further through a planned sequel (a full-length novel) to my most recent novella release, Sins of the Past.

  1. How long does it take you to write a book?

The short answer is: Longer than it should. The longer answer: Between sports and recreational activities, limited keyboarding skills, a propensity to be easily distracted, and interruptions by life in general, I somehow manage to put words to the page … well, not as often as I’d like. To use a specific example, Incoming Call is a 78-page novella, and it took about 18 months to finally decide I had a marketable manuscript (draft 6 being the final version). By the way, I’m also a bit of a perfectionist.

  1. What type of research do you do for your books?

I can sum that up in 2 words: The Internet. I’m always substantiating my facts by searching the web for encyclopedic data, watching instructional videos, using map sites such as Google Earth to verify location information, and even viewing images to help with scene / character / structures and buildings descriptions. For example, the scene where Maggie enters the church in Incoming Call – I viewed many photos of old churches, which provided the inspiration for me to write that particular description.

  1. When developing your characters, do you base them on anyone you know or are they fictional?

I’d have to say a mashup of both. I often pull bits and pieces from real characters I’ve met in my lifetime and then add my own subtle nuances and quirks to make the characters both as believable and as interesting as possible. Of course, resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. (My lawyer made me say that.)

  1. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

I learned that writing is not as easy as it seems, that it takes a great deal of patience – which, by the way, I never thought I had – and that my wife is the best editor, promoter, and all-around supporter / ego booster a writer (and husband) could ever hope for.

  1. Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?

When I first began this writing hobby, I decided to take a course to learn more about the craft. The best piece of advice I can offer, I’d have to borrow from the writing instructor: Read. Read as much and as many different genres and authors you can get your hands and eyes on. And don’t just read, view each word, sentence, paragraph, and chapter through the eyes of a writer. It takes longer for me to get through a book because quite often I find my mind wandering to whatever writing project I’m involved in at the time.

Having said that, take what you’ve gleaned from your reading experiences, and simply use your own voice to adapt these learnings to what suits your writing style and personality.

  1. What do you think makes a good story?

For me, it’s definitely the characters. If readers don’t relate to, or care about, the people in the book, why would they care what happens to them?

  1. How do you deal with writer’s block?

Um… Can I come back to the question later? Maybe after I take a walk to clear my head, distract my brain with some TV sports, do a little reading, or grab a snack.

Bonus Questions:

If you could have lunch with a famous author, who would that be and what would be your most important question you would want to ask them.

I’ve always been a big fan of Stephen King. I think having lunch with him would be an informative and fascinating experience (maybe even a little spooky). I’ve always been in awe of his ability to write so prolifically. I suppose I would ask what his secret is to finding the time to craft so many great stories throughout his lifetime? If I could also ask him one bonus question, I’d like to know if he still gets the same charge from writing today that he did forty years ago?

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You can purchase James’ books at the following links:

Incoming Call 

Amazon (Kindle & Paperback) – https://www.amazon.ca/Incoming-Call-James-McHarg-ebook/dp/B01C68VXL8/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1465847258&sr=1-1

 Barnes & Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/incoming-call-james-mcharg/1123520245?ean=9781329655973#productInfoTabs

 Sins of the Past

 Kobo (The Kobo eBook can also be found on Chapters – Indigo) – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/sins-of-the-past-14

 Barnes & Noble (Nook Books) – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/reviews/sins-of-the-past-james-mcharg/1123783988?ean=2940153224695

 iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1112662104

 

 

Writing – Finding your Niche

cropped-cropped-mom-write-e1457650254439-1.jpg  So I have been unhappy with my blog the last little while.  Well maybe unhappy is not the right word because I was actually happy with it,  let’s say I was unsatisfied with it. It didn’t seem to be going anywhere.  I have been reading lots of articles about blogging and from what I understand, to have a successful blog you must find your “Niche”.  That one little thing in your life that you are good at, passionate about and can write about continuously.  My blog originally started off as just a way for me to write and get over the fear of putting words to paper but I found I soon became bored with that.  I wanted to find my Niche – so with much soul searching I have come to the decision that my blog will be about writing.  My experiences, my frustrations,  tips and tricks, interviews and other such articles. Writing is something I have always enjoyed but never did a lot of.  I had all these stories floating around in my brain, toying with me but every time I would sit down to write they would play a annoying game of hide and seek in my brain.  It wasn’t until I found a site for freelance writers that the words started to flow and the stories have come out.   I have been ghostwriting now for a little under a year and have been really enjoying.  It has allowed me to come out of my shell, gain my confidence and let my imagination run wild.  I may not be the best writer but I am learning and getting braver and braver.  As with anything they say research is the key and I have been doing quite a bit, bookmarking websites, pinning pins on Pinterest  any article or information I have found on writing.  There is a plethora of information out that which at times can be overwhelming.  One particular article I read I found very interesting and helpful.  It was an article by Stephen King who is well know in the industry.  I thought I would share with you, because everything he says makes perfect sense to me and it might help someone else along the way.

1. Stop watching television. Instead, read as much as possible.

If you’re just starting out as a writer, your television should be the first thing to go. It’s “poisonous to creativity,” he says. Writers need to look into themselves and turn toward the life of the imagination.

To do so, they should read as much as they can. King takes a book with him everywhere he goes, and even reads during meals. “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot,” he says. Read widely, and constantly work to refine and redefine your own work as you do so.

2. Prepare for more failure and criticism than you think you can deal with.

King compares writing fiction to crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a bathtub, because in both, “there’s plenty of opportunity for self-doubt.” Not only will you doubt yourself, but other people will doubt you, too. “If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that’s all,” writes King.

Oftentimes, you have to continue writing even when you don’t feel like it. “Stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea,” he writes. And when you fail, King suggests that you remain positive. “Optimism is a perfectly legitimate response to failure.”

3. Don’t waste time trying to please people.

According to King, rudeness should be the least of your concerns. “If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered anyway,” he writes. King used to be ashamed of what he wrote, especially after receiving angry letters accusing him of being bigoted, homophobic, murderous, and even psychopathic.

By the age of 40, he realized that every decent writer has been accused of being a waste of talent. King has definitely come to terms with it. He writes, “If you disapprove, I can only shrug my shoulders. It’s what I have.” You can’t please all of your readers all the time, so King advises that you stop worrying.

4. Write primarily for yourself.

You should write because it brings you happiness and fulfillment. As King says, “I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.”

Writer Kurt Vonnegut provides a similar insight: “Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about,” he says. “It is this genuine caring, not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.”

5. Tackle the things that are hardest to write.

“The most important things are the hardest things to say,” writes King. “They are the things you get ashamed of because words diminish your feelings.” Most great pieces of writing are preceded with hours of thought. In King’s mind, “Writing is refined thinking.”

When tackling difficult issues, make sure you dig deeply. King says, “Stories are found things, like fossils in the ground … Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world.” Writers should be like archaeologists, excavating for as much of the story as they can find.

6. When writing, disconnect from the rest of the world.

Writing should be a fully intimate activity. Put your desk in the corner of the room, and eliminate all possible distractions, from phones to open windows. King advises, “Write with the door closed; rewrite with the door open.”

You should maintain total privacy between you and your work. Writing a first draft is “completely raw, the sort of thing I feel free to do with the door shut — it’s the story undressed, standing up in nothing but its socks and undershorts.”

7. Don’t be pretentious.

“One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones,” says King. He compares this mistake to dressing up a household pet in evening clothes — both the pet and the owner are embarrassed, because it’s completely excessive.

As iconic businessman David Ogilvy writes in a memo to his employees, “Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.” Furthermore, don’t use symbols unless necessary. “Symbolism exists to adorn and enrich, not to create an artificial sense of profundity,” writes King.

8. Avoid adverbs and long paragraphs.

As King emphasizes several times in his memoir, “the adverb is not your friend.” In fact, he believes that “the road to hell is paved with adverbs” and compares them to dandelions that ruin your lawn. Adverbs are worst after “he said” and “she said” — those phrases are best left unadorned.

You should also pay attention to your paragraphs, so that they flow with the turns and rhythms of your story. “Paragraphs are almost always as important for how they look as for what they say,” says King.

9. Don’t get overly caught up in grammar.

According to King, writing is primarily about seduction, not precision. “Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace-up shoes,” writes King. “The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story.” You should strive to make the reader forget that he or she is reading a story at all.

10. Master the art of description.

“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s,” writes King. The important part isn’t writing enough, but limiting how much you say. Visualize what you want your reader to experience, and then translate what you see in your mind into words on the page. You need to describe things “in a way that will cause your reader to prickle with recognition,” he says.

The key to good description is clarity, both in observation and in writing. Use fresh images and simple vocabulary to avoid exhausting your reader. “In many cases when a reader puts a story aside because it ‘got boring,’ the boredom arose because the writer grew enchanted with his powers of description and lost sight of his priority, which is to keep the ball rolling,” notes King.

Life Keeps Getting In My Way, Damnit

mom writeSo another week that has been crazy busy and there just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day.  I was desperately trying to come up with a Blog Post that would be both interesting and titillating but damn if I could come up with anything.   So I was sitting pondering in the five or so minutes I have in the morning to think about these kinds of things when it hit me – I will post a sample of a book I have been working on.  It is kind of like my test book to find out just how hard self publishing is.  I don’t expect it to go anywhere, just want to try it and I certainly don’t want to attempt self publishing with my Wedding Book I have been working so hard on.  So, without further ado,  I bring you a teaser from my book I call Lies of Lace – (at least that is what I am calling it now, it very well may change.)   It is going to be about a women who is very promiscuous until she finally meets that one man who won’t bend for her.  Desperately wanting to add him to her list of conquests, she discovers that she has broken her first rule and this is – Don’t fall in love.  Will she forget her wicked ways and settle for just one man, or will she continue on her path of self destruction.

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Rebecca stood in the lobby waiting for the elevator to arrive. Come on damn it, she muttered to herself as she pressed the up button for the 5th time.  Finally, the doors opened and she went inside and angrily pressed the 9th floor button. Arriving at her floor, she dodged her way to her office, hoping no one noticed she was late.  Turning on her computer, she quickly scanned her emails to check if there was anything important.  Yawning she sat back in her chair and took  a few moments to catch her breath.  Thinking back on her evening, she smiled to herself. I really need to stop doing that, she thought to herself, but he was kinda cute. Rebecca and her friend had gone out last night for drinks after work.  After a few too many, they struck up a conversation with a fellow who was in town on business.  He was your typical tall, dark and handsome and he immediately took a shine to Rebecca.  Sensing that three was a crowd, Rebecca’s friend said her goodbyes and headed home.  Rebecca stayed, enjoying the sexual banter that was going back and forth between them.  Before she knew it, they were back at his hotel and the rest of the night was spent in a marathon of hot steamy sex.  Smiling, she thought to herself, I wish I could remember if he was any good. Rubbing her temples, she really hoped the throbbing in her head would go away.

“Hey Becca, you coming to the staff meeting,” Paul, one of her coworkers said popping his head in her doorway.

“Oh Shit, ya. I completely forgot about it,” she said slipping her shoes back on and grapping a pen and pad.

Entering the boardroom, Rebecca took one of the last seats available. The smell of cheap aftershave in the room always reminded her of her grandfather and jelly beans.  She felt her stomach do a summersault and poured herself a glass of water, hoping that would settle it.  She hated these meetings.  All everyone did was sit around and listen to the Director go on and on about useless crap that really didn’t matter.  When it came time for the roundtable, everyone was so bored; no one had anything to say. Looking around the table, she discovered she was sitting across from one of the most eligible bachelors in the office.  Corey had been with the company for less than a year and still had not come out on one of their bar hopping excursions that had become so popular.  Staring at him, Rebecca was hoping to at least make eye contact with him, maybe get a smile out of him.

“Good morning staff. Glad to see you could all make it,” Mr. Peterson said as he walked in and took his spot at the end of the table. At that point Rebecca tuned out. Hmm I wonder what he kisses like, Rebecca thought as she continued to glance at Corey across the table.  I bet he has muscles under that dress shirt.  I would love to undo each button with my mouth and then ….”

 “Rebecca, did you hear what I said,”

“Hum, no sorry,” Rebecca stammered realizing that everyone at the table was staring at her. “Sorry, Mr. Peterson, I was thinking about the report I am working on.”

“Well that’s what I was asking you. How is it coming?”

“Good, I should be finished today. I just have to make some edits and it will be good to go,” Rebecca said rather embarrassed at being the center of attention.

Once the meeting was adjourned, Rebecca grabbed her pad and headed back to her office. She had a full day ahead of her and needed some aspirin if she wanted to get anything done.  Grabbing two pills, she headed over to the water cooler to wash them down.

“Hey Rebecca, Jane was looking for you,” Paul said coming up to her. “She is in Production, something about the edits on the latest book or something like that.”

Nodding to Paul, “Thanks, I’ll head right over.”

Popping the pills into her mouth she washed them down with some water before she headed over to the Production Department.  Walking in  she saw Jane talking with Corey. They both looked up as she walked in.

“Hey, you were looking for me,” she asked.

“Morning. Corey and I were just going over the latest edits in the Anderson book and there seems to be some discrepancy with the wording of one of the sections.” Jane said. “Do you think you and Corey can put your heads together and come up with a solution?”

Looking at Corey, Rebecca smiled, “Yea sure. Corey, do you have some time today to go over this?”

“Yea sure, how about after lunch,” Corey said not looking up from the papers he was shuffling through.

Looking at Jane and shrugging, Rebecca said, “Perfect, see you at 1:00 then.”

Heading back to her office, Rebecca didn’t know why she felt excited but at the same time nervous about her meeting with Corey. Men normally tripped over each other to get to know her but for some reason, Corey hardly looked her way.  She always made it a rule to not sleep with anyone she worked with but for some reason, she looked at Corey as a challenge. She was bound and determined to add him to her list of bed partners one way or another.