Tuesday, November 25, 2014

November Mini Book Reviews: A. Mulligan, L. Rosenberg, Lorrie Thompson

Lovely November is here with it's rain, wind, cold. Winter is setting in and I need to read. Don't you? ;-)


CHAPEL SPRINGS REVIVAL Ane Mulligan: Christian Women's Ficiton

Chapel Springs Revival is humorous, charming, and completely Southern fired. Believe me, you will laugh out loud at the antics of Clare and Patsy as they try to revive their Georgia mountain village. The Christian messages of this book are understated and rooted in the faith of the character, not preached to the reader. This is a solid story that will warm your heart.

THE MOONLIGHT PALACE Liz Rosenberg: Historical Fiction

The Moonlight Palace is an enchanting story set in Singapore in the early twentieth century and tells the fascinating coming or age of a remarkable girl.

EQUILIBRIUM Lorrie Thompson: Literary Women's Fiction

Sorrow and its effects are the central theme of Equilibrium. The story is an amazing look at how Laura and her children deal with unthinkable sorrow and find they equilibrium from within and in their relationships with each other and their friends. Equilibrium  was the Goodreads' Women's Fiction Book Club for October.


Next Week: December Mini Book Reviews Part 1. (You know you need those last minute gift ideas. See you In the Shade! ;-)

Advent is nearly here and starts on November 30. Be sure to get ready and take A Christmas Walk. Ebooks are available at Amazon. It makes a great gift for those buddies who read ebooks, too. ;-)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November Author Interview: RITA Winner Joanna Bourne

I met Joanna Bourne at the Books and Writers Forum when I joined in 2008. Immediately, I was drawn to her as an author, teacher, and friend. Over the years she has written some of the best historical romances ever published and I’m thrilled to get to interview her. Her latest Rogue Spy came out on November 4 and I expect it will be in contention for a RITA just like her award-winning The Black Hawk and My Lord and Spymaster. Be sure to check out her blog (there will be a link here) that’s full of info on writing and various research topics she’s uncovered while working on her wonderful books.


For years he’d lived a lie. It was time to tell the truth . . . even if it cost him the woman he loved.

Ten years ago he was a boy, given the name Thomas Paxton and sent by Revolutionary France to infiltrate the British Intelligence Service. Now his sense of honor brings him back to London, alone and unarmed, to confess. But instead of facing the gallows, he’s given one last impossible assignment to prove his loyalty.

Lovely, lying, former French spy Camille Leyland is dragged from her safe rural obscurity by threats and blackmail. Dusting off her spy skills, she sets out to track down a ruthless French fanatic and rescue the innocent victim he’s holding—only to find an old colleague already on the case. Pax.

Old friendship turns to new love, and as Pax and Camille’s dark secrets loom up from the past, Pax is left with a choice—go rogue from the Service or lose Camille forever…


ZM: I’m so excited to get the chance to interview you for In the Shade of the Cherry Tree! Your historical romances are so much more than just romances. The historical accuracy speaks to my historian’s heart and your characters’ intelligence speaks to my mind. How did you come up with the idea of spies in the French Revolution and Napoleonic era as a setting?

Jo: In this era --  from a bit before the American Revolution to the Battlefield of Waterloo -- most of what we take for granted about how we run governments and how we think about personal freedom was decided.  This was a time of Big Ideas clashing. People were fighting over the right to vote. Freedom of religion. Equality under the law. Fair taxation.

Folks on both sides were passionate. People of Good Will disagreed. What better time and place to spy?

ZM: What draws you to the romance genre? Have you ever written any other genre?

 Jo: I’m Historical Romance all the way, though I wrote nonfiction for years before I started writing fiction.

 I want happy endings. I want heroes and heroines. I want brave, clever, principled characters who behave well under difficult circumstances. So I write Romance. Romance is, by definition, generally optimistic and with an upbeat ending.

 ZM: As I said earlier, your characters are full and three-dimensional. Do you have any certain techniques for discovering them?

 Jo: I think the answer to creating rich characters is to give yourself time.  Sit and think about them. Go for long walks and imagine them. When you’re falling asleep, dream about the scenes of the book.

 And then write the story. When you’re writing the characters will reveal themselves by their actions.

 ZM: Many craft books stress that writers must read and read a lot. Who is your favorite author, or what is your favorite genre? What draws you to a book you read for enjoyment?

 Jo: I don’t actually read much Romance genre. I have no idea why this should be the case. Maybe I’m scared that I’ll find myself picking up ideas from other writers. Maybe when a story is similar to my own it comes to jostle in my head too much.

 So what do I read?  I read strong stylists in any field. They have lots to teach me if I can only be sharp enough to pick it up. Dunnett, Sayers, Peter S. Beagle, Bujold, Douglas Adams ...many others.

 But mostly what I read for fun is nonfiction. A good bit of that is the diaries and journals of people in my era of interest. I also read just off-the-wall stuff about the weird, unusual corners of reality.  I’m re-reading Plagues and People right now, with its somewhat off-beat version of history. And I recently finished Travels With Charley.   I’m a sucker for road books.

 ZM: Are you already working on the next book, or is it time for a break? What do you do after the final rush of publication is over?

 Jo: What do I do to celebrate the completion of a manuscript?

A nice meal at a good restaurant. Out for coffee with my betas and my friends and I buy everybody chocolates. And maybe I raise a glass of wine.

No time for a long break though.

As to the next work ...   I’m frantically plugging away on the next manuscript. This will be the Severine story.

I’m at the stage when it seems impossible to write and nothing is fitting together and I am totally certain I will never be able to get it right. This stage starts when I realize I have another manuscript due and I don’t know what it is.  It continues until I get the galleys of the book and know it is now  Too Late To Change Anything. 

ZM: Finally, what questions do wish interviewers would ask, but they never do?

 Jo: I want interviewers to ask -- Do you have a Writer’s Cat?

And I will say that I have a Writer’s Cat who contributes bushels of fur to my efforts and lies across my keyboard when I am particularly brilliant and filled with ideas.

Everyone should have a Writer’s Cat.

ZM: ;-) My toy poodles are filling that function at the moment. Thank you for a lovely conversation and for such wonderful reads!


Joanna Bourne is the award-winning author of historical romances set in England and France during the Napoleonic Wars, including My Lord and Spymaster and The Spymaster's Lady. Joanna lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge with her family, a medium-sized mutt and a faux Himalayan cat. She writes Historical Romances set in England and France during the Napoleonic Wars. She's fascinated by that time and place - such passionate conviction and burning idealism ... and really sexy clothes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

November Tip Week: Moving or Manipulating?

In a guest post at Amy Sue Nathan's Women's Fiction Writers, Traci Borum asks a great question: Do Books Move or Manipulate You?

Poor kitty! There's only one way to go. (Source)

I've been thinking about this since I first read it. It's easy to manipulate readers by setting up the emotions we want them to feel. But is it a good idea? I say NO! (How loudly do you want me to yell? ;-) Readers aren't idiots. They can tell when writers take short cuts to emotions and telegraph what they should feel. It makes your stories forgettable and feeble, in my opinion. I don't like being manipulated by writers and usual quit reading because of the manipulation. 

My stories center around deep social and family issues. I could easily fall into the manipulating side of writing, but I truly think the characters of my stories can carry the problems they face and share their trials and triumphs without it. 

Traci Borum suggests several ways to avoid manipulation :
  • Write the story with truth.
  • Stay honest in the moment by being in the moment yourself. 
  • Don't worry about the reader's reaction.
  • Be invested in the characters. Care about them and the readers will too.
  •  Listen to your gut. If it feels like you're trying too hard, dial it back.
What about you? 
Have you read books that manipulated you? 
How did it make you feel? 
Do you have any more suggestions for writers?


Next week: Author Interview! What? You were expecting the mini book review? Well, Thanksgiving made me do it. Really! ;-)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November Snips Week: NaNo Edition

To NaNo or not to NaNo. That is the question...

Are you participating in the National Novel Writing Month? AKA NaNoWriMo. Though, many novelists shorten that to NaNo.

Trying to make this... (Source)

into this!

The rules are simple:
  • Come up with an idea
  • Aim to write a 50,000 word rough draft in November
  • Track your progress on the NaNoWriMo site
  • Earn badges
And then brag about it in December when you have to take a breather. There's a month dedicated to editing the new manuscript too. The idea is to take the solitary task of writing and create a way to share and challenge each other along.

So, if your writer buddy has all but disappeared from all the usual social media haunts this month, they might be madly scribbling down words or clicking their way through a rapid start on their latest book.

Now for the nitty gritty--Am I aiming for 50,000 new words this month? 

And the answer is: No. My hands would never forgive me. ;-) I did write 28,000 new words in 2010 by playing along with my NaNoing buddies at the Forum.

This year I have another goal in mind. I'm very near a goal that is very dear to every writer's heart--a complete manuscript. It's been said that most writers never finish a first draft. It maybe as high as 95%! I have finished two devotionals and I'd love to add a novel to the list. I'm nearly there and my November will be dedicated to completing MOTHER'S DAY.

Mother's Day Update: October was a very good month. I entered a contest, edited 70 pages, and wrote 2000 new words. To say I'm pleased would be an understatement. ;-) 

Next week is Tip Week. Drop in and share your opinion on whether books move or manipulate you. 

New Book Releases:
Kerry Lynne's second novel in The Pirate Captain Chronicles--NOR GOLD--is out.
Joanna Bourne's newest in the Spymasters Series--ROGUE SPY--comes out today. 
I interviewed Kerry on March 12, 2013 and will have an interview with Joanna on November 18. Be sure to check them both out.