Monday 31 October 2011

Authors In The Limelight: Linda Benson

The Girl Who Remembered Horses
I want to thank and welcome, Linda Benson for sharing her personal writing journey with us on my blog today. Her book, The Girl Who Remembered Horses, will be released through Musa Publishing, Friday, November 4th, and will be available at your favorite on-line bookstore.

How long have you been writing, Linda?

Although I wanted to be a writer ever since second grade, and I've dabbled in poetry, song-writing and short story writing over the years, I've been writing seriously for publication for about ten years.

Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write The Girl Who Remembered Horses?

I recently found the pages in my journal where I had the first seed of inspiration for this story. It was six years ago, right after Hurricane Katrina, and I realized how nature could easily hand us a catastrophic event that might change everything we know and the way we live. And I wanted to write something about horses and their changing status in our lives as we become a more urban society. I've been involved with horses for 45 years, and I'd recently done a college research project about women and their obsession with horses, and all of those things clicked together.

What sets The Girl Who Remembered Horses apart from other books in the same genre?

Well, there aren't too many horse stories set in the future, for one thing. The other is that although this book might be billed as speculative fiction or apocalyptic fiction, it isn't fantasy. I've tried hard to make all of the situations involving horses and animals as real as possible - something that might actually (in those given circumstances) happen that way.

As an author, Linda, what is your writing process?

I guess you'd say I'm a pantser. I don't write from an outline or any given plotline, but by the seat of my pants. I get an idea, a character, or the spark of a story and just sit down at the computer and see where it takes me. Sometimes it takes me surprising places!

So, how long did it take for you to start and finish The Girl Who Remembered Horses?

It took me a few months to write about half of the story, and because it was so different, I was almost hesitant to show it to my critique group. But they loved it, and prodded me to finish it, which I did. But I got stuck in it a few times, put it aside, and came back to it. So maybe a year or a year and a half to finish the first draft. I had an agent for awhile with this novel, and she and I worked on editing it for several months, but she ultimately wasn't able to sell it. I was thrilled when Musa Publishing picked it up for their Euterpe YA imprint, and I'm excited to finally bring this exciting story to readers!

I’m excited for you too! Do you have any advice for other writers, Linda?

Yes. After you've finished a manuscript, put it aside and let it sit for awhile before you read it again. Then find a critique group or some good beta readers to help with editing. If you want to be a published author, don't give up. Keep trying all the different doors, avenues, and windows until one finally opens. And most importantly - Believe in Yourself!

Great advice, and so true! What’s next for Linda Benson the author?

My next YA novel, called Six Degrees Of Lost, was just accepted by Musa Publishing for release in 2012. It's a contemporary story set in the Pacific Northwest, told in two alternating voices, a boy and a girl. And my current work-in-progress is a YA novel in verse.

Wow, sounds like you’ll be quite busy! Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series – If you could time travel anywhere in history, where would you go, and why?

Probably back in time to pioneer days. Although it would be difficult to accept the constraints on clothing, work, and women's roles, I would love to be able to experience the vastness and beauty of the western United States before it became populated and civilized.

The Girl Who Remembered Horses comes out on November 4th.

Monday 24 October 2011

The Joy of Purging

Something must be in the air. It’s infectious. It’s freeing. It’s exhausting. And I think it always happens around this time of year. I’m talking about purging. The dictionary defines purging as to cleanse or to rid of impurities, foreign matter, or undesirable elements. Yes, I would agree. Just open a junk drawer and you get the meaning loud and clear. Look at any tree with leaves, and they do it naturally. Purging gives you a clean slate, and a new way of looking at your life. It also makes room for new things and opportunities to come.

In order to grow and evolve, the old stuff must be purged to make way for the new and improved stuff. As an author, this is tough advice to take. I mean, getting rid of words I’ve written with my blood, sweat and tears? Killing my darlings? Cutting away those adverbs and adjectives? Stripping away the worthless scenes – even if you like them? Be still my beating heart! But in truth, this necessary cutting makes room for recovery, renewal, and a hell of a better book.

In the popular television show, ‘Hoarders’, those ill people fill up every nook and cranny until their space is ready to explode. Yet they know not what they have done. Their mindset does not allow them to purge. They are truly stuck. Learn from them, learn from their demons, and learn to purge the crap in your life. You’ll be thankful you did.

Some words of wisdom to help purge by: Die you gravy-sucking pig! Steve Martin, comedian

Thursday 20 October 2011

So Many Choices, So Little Time ...

Musa Publishing
Euterpe ~ Young Adult
I’ve got a dilemma. On October 21st, 2011 – tomorrow folks – Musa Publishing’s YA Imprint Euterpe debuts. My problem? I have as yet to purchase an ereader to download all these wonderful books I know that are coming down the virtual pipeline. I plan to ask Santa Claus for an ereader this Christmas, which takes off some of the pressure, but which brand do I need?

So, I hopped on my black shiny steed (read – computer), and I’ve journeyed to the different websites to peruse their wares, learnt many things, got my mind boggled with some, looked at all those lovely accessories that go with each unique ereader, and still I’m as confused as ever. Then – do I want to limit myself to one on-line store? Or go for a tablet that has social networking, downloading and email capability? Woe is me!

Now, on the cusp of Euterpe’s grand opening, with a new stable of authors selling their new books, I sit patiently and wait for a solution – that elusive ereader that will fit my lifestyle to a tee. So, my apologies go to – Arely Cole, author of The Blacksmith’s Daughter, Linda Benson, author of The Girl who Listened to Horses, and Stephanie Campbell, author of First Dragon – you’re all on my wish list for great books to download ASAP. Sigh.

The best advice I can ask is your advice. If you own an ereader, what brand of do you have, and why.

Monday 17 October 2011

Authors In The Limelight: Arley Cole

The Blacksmith's Daughter

Since this is my first author interview, I wanted to define what ‘being in the limelight’ means: "in the full glare of public attention.” So, it is with great privilege to shine the limelight on today’s guest author, Arley Cole whose book, The Blacksmith’s Daughter will be released through Musa Publishing on Friday, October 21st.

Sharon: How long have you been writing, Arley?

Arley: I wrote my first story in first grade. It was a play about Charlie Brown and Snoopy. I was also addicted to those pages they used to give us that had a blank space at the top for an illustration and lines at the bottom to write the story. I filled a world of those!!

Sharon: Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write The Blacksmith’s Daughter?
Arley: At the risk of sounding like Stephenie Meyer, I did indeed dream the first major scene of The Blacksmith's Daughter! But I dream a lot of stuff. I dreamed one night that I was going to blow up the Death Star but ran up on the food court where all my students (teaching college at the time) were working at the Chick-Fil-A to pay for school, so I had to get them off first. Then I blew up the Death Star. My dreams are legendary around our house!

Sharon: What sets The Blacksmith’s Daughter apart from other books in the same genre?
Arley: As far as the YA angle, I think it is different because it does not star young people. The protagonists are all in their late twenties/early thirties. However, they are all dealing with issues of finding out who they are and what their role is in their world. So I think that makes it appealing to a YA audience. Also, it contains both a fair amount of romance for the romance lovers and a fair amount of violence for the action lovers. Plus, the magical system in this book is not like anything I've run across lately. I have had a lot of fun developing it.

Sharon: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish The Blacksmith’s Daughter?
Arley: Well, when I finished the manuscript for The Blacksmith's Daughter I was not working full time, so it took about 6 weeks start to finish with a week off for Thanksgiving. Now I am a wage slave and it takes more time! I do spend time plotting while doing housework, especially ironing.

Sharon: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Arley: Write all you can. There are so many great places to post your work for feedback and review. Don't let your stuff just sit on your hard drive. Take a chance and let somebody read it. That's how you'll get better!

Sharon: What’s next for Arley Cole the author?
Arley: I sure would like to quit my day job!! Then I would have plenty of time to iron and write The Merchant's Son---sequel to The Blacksmith's Daughter---and finish my regency Little Season and work on several other projects I've got in the lineup. But right now, I want to get The Blacksmith's Daughter on everybody's e-reader!!!

Now that sounds like a plan! I want to thank Arley Cole for taking the time to answer a few questions about her new book, The Blacksmith’s Daughter. You can help Arley quit her day job by purchasing her e-book at your favorite on-line bookstore!

The Blacksmith’s Daughter - Musa Publishing, October 21st

The Blacksmith’s Daughter - Musa Publishing, October 21

Thursday 13 October 2011

Something Lost?

I found this posted on a recent Crosscut blog by Skip Ferderber. He wrote …

There’s little doubt that the digital revolution offers all of us a far greater ability to fulfill our curiosity about our world. More of us are turning to tablets, smartphones and similar devices because we’ve grown accustomed to having the world at our fingertips. If you, like I, have fallen in love with those little gadgets that are our eyes and ears to the bounty of human knowledge, you know what I’m taking about. Try to imagine what life would be like without them. I really would rather not.

No longer is it a valuable argument to say, “Well, if you didn’t waste your time on those gadgets, you’d have time to read a book!” The reality is that many of us read more books because we can carry them with us all the time.

What is being lost, however, is a piece of our society that we’re missing terribly and haven’t yet come to realize what its loss means.

I’m talking about the loss of gathering places: the record stores, book stores, libraries and movie theaters, among others, where people met in person to see what’s new, to learn from one another, to see all their choices and come closer to each other even if it’s something as ephemeral seeing someone pulling a book off a shelf and wondering what they’re looking at.

This isn’t a reminiscence of the old days although, on one hand, it certainly qualifies as that. But it does raise the question, at least in my mind, about what portion of our society, our culture, our well-being, we could be giving up with this shift toward individual experiences and away from the common face-to-face, person-to-person sharing of humanity.

Skip has a point. I mean every author dreams of going on book tours, doing book signings, meeting readers and connecting with them on a personal level. Recently, my friend, Kevin Craig had a book launch at his favourite independent book store. I heard it was standing room only. So what’s the solution here? How do you launch an ebook, and at the same time come face-to-face with your readers? Good question, and there’s probably a ton of good answers.

But that doesn’t take away the truth in what Skip wrote – the fact that life is all about relationship – the human experience. That’s the reason why we’re all here in the first place. And that’s the reason why I write.

Saturday 8 October 2011

Thursday 6 October 2011

Know Thyself - Know Thy Characters

To know yourself, look at your behaviors. Observe your choices. How do you spend your time? Your choices tell you and others, who you really are inside. This goes ditto for your characters. A character – based on his or her actions – tells all to the reader. Kick a puppy and your character is condemned. Save a puppy from becoming road kill and you’ve made thousands of best friends for your character.

It’s the little things that count – those small actions that can make or break your character. A young kid visiting a grave everyday after school has my vote. But a drunken teen desecrating a grave gets the thumbs down.  But wait. What if that kid visiting the grave is riddled with guilt because he believes it’s his fault his mom is dead? And, what if the drunken girl was molested by the person buried there? Both choices can change the reader’s point of view rather quickly.

It’s when you pierce the armor of your character that you find the true grit. Test your character’s mettle and see where it leads. You might be surprised to find out that who you thought was a villain was – like Humpty Dumpty – so broken inside he/she couldn’t be put back together again. Then again, duct tape works wonders!

Monday 3 October 2011

A New Face In Publishing

Musa Publishing
I’m still reeling. Overwhelmed. Excited. Enthused. Why? Because Musa Publishing – the publishing company I signed with – opened its doors for business over the weekend. This new kind of publishing company operates as an on-line bookstore delivering books directly to the reader. This new kind of publishing company puts their authors first. And this new kind of publishing company is part of the changing face in the publishing industry.

I’ve never seen such comradeship as I have this past weekend. Facebook was abuzz with congratulatory comments, ‘likes’ and sporting the Musa logo proudly. I’ve gotten more friend requests than I’ve ever gotten, and requested to be friends with other authors and their friends. It was an amazing show of support and I’m happy to be part of it.

Tomorrow (October 4th) I’ll be featured as one of the guest authors on Euterpe’s blog. Euterpe is the YA imprint for Musa Publishing. It’s nice to be part of a family that values your input and realizes that you have something to say. To that, I say thank you, Musa Publishing, for the chance to lend my voice to the new face in publishing.  

Euterpe ~ Young Adult