About Me

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Welcome to Heartstrings.Thanks for stopping by. I am a mother, a grandmother, and an author of historical western romance and contemporary romantic fiction. Ethan's Heart, book one of The Blackwood Brothers' series won the 2017 Maggie Award for Excellence. Book two, Escorting Darby Bloom, features Blackwood brother Isaac and will be released in December 2017. Stay tuned for more books in this series. If contemporaries are more your thing, check out Carly's Rule and Dusty's Fate. They are both Amazon Best-Sellers.

Friday, February 24, 2012

   Interview with Sable Grace author of The Dark Breed Novels.  

Sable Grace is the writing team of Heather Waters (left) and Laura Barone (right).

 1.      Tell us a little about yourselves.

Heather:  I’m a mother to two amazing teens (oxymoron?) and wife to the best human being I’ve ever known.  Aside from that, I’ve been writing for a decade with 5 books published and one more due for release and one other under contract with Avon books.  After that, who knows?  Hopefully, a new Sable Grace series or continuation of the Dark Breed world . . . along with a few Heather Waters projects on the opposite spectrum of the romance genre!

Laura:  I’m a writer, wife, and mom.  I’ve been married for twenty-six years to my hero and best friend, have three daughters, and soon will have six tots—all under the age of six—to keep me busy.  My life is hectic, and there are those days I wish for someone’s more sedate life, but I’d get bored without the chaos, hugs, and sloppy kisses to interrupt my writing time.

2.       What inspired you to start writing?

Heather:  Reading.  I’ve been writing since elementary school but didn’t write my first novel till after my son was born in 1998.

Laura:  I really can’t remember a time when I didn’t write.  It started with devouring whatever book I could get my hands on and when I ran out of those, I’d make up my own stories to help fill the time.

3.   We know you are a writing team, but do you both write separately, under your own names, as well?  If so, what genre do each of you write on your own?

Heather:  Oy, that’s a loaded question.  I write everything.  Published under medieval romance with my own name for Berkley, but my current works include everything from suspense to women’s fiction.  What can I say?  I’m a genre slut!  They say write what you love to read and since I love to read everything, I’ve developed a sickness.

Laura:  I hope to publish under my own name, as well.  I write hot and steamy romances about best friends—and perfect strangers—who come together to finally find love.

4.       Tell us how your writing team works in order to complete a manuscript by the deadline?

Heather:  Usually, I come up with a schedule that will have us finished with the first semi-clean draft about a month before the deadline.  I write mornings and send to Laura around noon, and she sends back to me before bed with her pages added.

Laura:  We have an outline and a schedule so we know exactly what needs to be done and when.  Usually one of us takes the morning and the other the evening to get our pages done.  When time allows, we alternate writing days so we have time to work on individual projects at the same time as we’re working on a Sable Grace project.

5.       What or who has been the biggest influence in your writing career and why?
Heather:  Julie Garwood – for being the first to snatch me into the romance genre.  JK Rowling for holding my interest in books after I graduated high school and settled into the busy life of wife and mom.  And a few other special people who held my hand through the whole process, namely the owner of this blog, Vickie King.  She (YOU) were the first person to reach out to me and tell me I might be talented enough to go somewhere with this dream!

Vickie:  Ah, thanks, Heather.  I’m touched to hear that.

Laura:  All the greats who entertained me while growing up.  Those who managed to make a bad day not so bad and a great day even better.  I still remember the feeling of finishing a great book where the characters live with you years after you turn the last page.  That’s what I want to do.

6.       Where do you get your ideas?

Heather:  Thankfully, this has always been my strong point.  I don’t get them.  They’re just there.  I love to plot, to “what if” myself to sleep at night.  This is why I have far more projects on my plate than I can ever hope to complete.

Laura:  Everywhere and anywhere.  Music is a big one for me.  I hear a song and a verse just sticks with me and refuses to go away, until I’ve built an entire story around it.

7.       What is the most challenging part of the writing process for you?

Heather:  I didn’t know until working with our editor, Erika Tsang, that my weakness seems to be pacing.  I knew it always confused me, as long as I was interested, for me it was okay.  But working with Erika has really kicked my ass in this department.  The Sable Grace books are gogogogogogo and then when you’re out of breath, go some more.  I’m not used to that.

Laura:  Motivation is still a big one, though most times I find it now without anyone having to beat it into my head, but logic issues are a major challenge.  I have a great idea, but logically it doesn’t work—and Heather wants to beat her head against a firm surface, or perhaps mine, as we try to make that idea flow within the story.  Most of the time, we figure something out.  Sometimes, well, the great idea gets deleted or moved to another file to be used at a later date.

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

Heather:  If I know where I’m going with a project, I can write a book in 2 months.  If I’m feeling my way through, it’s more like 4 or 5.  The Sable books were almost all written in 2-3 months (not counting revision time), but my own projects seem to go a little slower.  Probably because I refuse to write a synopsis until I’m ready to submit.

Laura:  That really depends on the story and the deadline.  Heather usually divides the months from the beginning of the project to the deadline and gives us time to write fresh, revise, and handle any other projects that come through at the same time.  I think the average is about five months from start of project to sending it out.

9.       What is your schedule like?  For example, do you write any time of the day or do you find a specific time of day works best for you?  Do you write a certain number of hours or pages?

Heather:  For me, I work whenever I want to.  Night, day, morning.  I have this luxury because my kids are in school full time and when they are home, they’re self-sufficient.  I can stop when they need me and pick right back up.  But when writing as Sable, I try to get my part done around the time Laura’s kiddos are going down for a nap so she has that time to get started after their bedtimes to finish.

Laura:  We have a schedule and a certain number of pages that have to be written each day.  When we write those pages is totally up to us.  I tend to procrastinate and spend way too much time on little people, so I’m writing my pages at night after everyone has gone to bed.  This isn’t always optimal, but I’ve learned to write well when my brain went to bed way before my body.

10.   Do you ever experience writer’s block?  If so, how do you cope with it?

Heather:  Not writer’s block, no.  What happens to me is I hit a plotting or logic block.  This can keep me away from my computer for a couple days while I try to figure it out.  Starting a new book is a whole other block.  I can’t get into a real groove until I know my story and have some idea of where I’m headed.

Laura:  I experience lazy-itis.  There are times when the stress I call my life tends to take over, and I get into a rut, where I feel like I’m in over my head and don’t know how to pull myself out of the hole I’ve fallen into.  Typically, a weekend away with some chit-chat and more than a few adult beverages clears the fog and lets me get my focus back.  If I can’t get away, then really long phone calls will work in a pinch.

11.   Are you a plotter or a pantster?  If you’re a plotter, do you have any plotting tips to share with other writers?

Heather:   I’m a pantster by nature but had to become a plotter working with another writer.  We BOTH have to be on the same train so to speak.  And no, I have no tips.  All I do is “what  if” myself into circles until I find something that clicks and no more logic issues get in my way.  If I can get a synopsis done, I do like to break it into scenes and use something like One Note or Scivener to separate/label each scene, so I can write out of order sometimes.  But usually after I get whatever scene’s bugging me out of my head, I go back to chronological writing order.

Laura:  I’m not so much a plotter—which is one of the areas I’m really trying to work on.  I like to use the “W” plot or a version of the Three Act outline.  I typically know the characters and what their strengths and problems are and the situation they will have to overcome, so I jot down any scenes I can think of to move the story from the first meeting to the black moment.  There are huge holes that need to be filled in, but I have enough to make a story and all the gaps are bridged as I write the story.

12.   What is your personal writing goal?

Heather:  If I could just be self-sufficient enough to do this as a full-time career and be able to support my family doing what I love, should I ever need to, then my dreams will have come true.

Laura:  To place some Laura books on my shelf next to my Sable Grace books.  I’d like to be able to supplement our income enough so that my husband can quit the job he hates and do something that he loves as much as I do.  He’s always supported me and my dreams and to be able to give a little of that back to him would really make my dreams complete. 

 13.  If you could choose anywhere in the world to write, where would it be and why?

Heather:  I love the idea of sitting in my bed in the dark and typing away, but I think that would keep my hubby awake, so I’ve never tried.  I guess fantasy-wise, I’d love to be outside on a deck in the mountains overlooking a lake or right on the beach where I can hear the waves yet keep my keys free of sand.

Laura:  I’d love to have a little cabin in the mountains, a huge porch for daydreaming, and an enormous view and the sounds to of nature to keep me company as I write.

14.   What is the strangest thing that ever happened to you at a book signing, conference, workshop, or as a writer in general.  What is the funniest? 

Heather:  The strangest would have to be sitting at my very first signing at RWA conference and experiencing them opening the doors and the cattle stampede that cleaned me out of books in less than 15 minutes!  I don’t really have any funny moments, but I will say that in Bedeviled, we had a pair of boots that we edited out of the story and . . . forgot to keep editing.  Our editor found that, thankfully, and asked us how those boots kept reappearing over and over.

15.   What are you most proud of accomplishing in your life? 

Heather:  Cliché, I know, but my kids and my marriage make me the proudest.  Everyone thinks they have the best family, but I really do.  LOL.

Laura:  Stepping outside the box I’d placed myself in and being free to try new things, both in my own writing and in our partnership.  I think the joy over finishing a manuscript in a new genre that I’d never attempted before is as high on the scale as selling Ascension.

16.   Describe your writing space, the one corner of the house or office that’s all yours?

Heather: Check out the photo of Heather's writing space.

Laura:  Wow, I’m not sure I have found that space, yet.  I spent a lot of years writing in the dining room.  Now, I have an office, but I share it with a toddler.  I tend to spend a lot of time working on the laptop in the living room or on the back patio so I can keep an eye on the little people.

17.   What writing tips or advice would you like to give other writers?

Heather:  It only takes one yes.  Don’t quit till you find it.

Laura:  Never, ever give up on your dreams and don’t ever buy into the bull others feed you about not being good enough or talented enough to achieve your goals.  These are your dreams and only you can chase them through the stars.

Thanks Heather and Laura aka Sable Grace.  To access their website, please click on the following link.    Sable Grace

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Where do you write?

Ever wonder where an author writes?  Me, too, and that's why I've decided to bring you photos of different authors' writing spaces.  That one corner they call their own.  If you'd like to include your writing corner, let me know.  I'd love to share it.  Click on  A Writers' Corner to see the photos.  More writers' spaces will be going up soon, so come back and take a look.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Interview with New York Times Bestselling author, Sharon Sala

1.  Tell us a little about yourself?  

I am a native of Oklahoma in more ways than one.  My fraternal great-grandmother was Cherokee.  Family is the most important thing in my world.  I was a farmer's daughter and then a farmer's wife for over 31 years before I divorced.  I now live in a city, but miss country life a lot.

2.  What inspired you to write your first book?

It was a job I hated--grocery checker in our local supermarket.  Hated the late hours being away from my family.  Came in late one night from work, pulled a typewriter out of the closet and started writing a story that had been in my head.  It was that bizarre, I kid you not.  I was convinced there had to be a better way to make a living than the job I had and the small town near where I was living had no better opportunities.

3.  What or who has been the biggest influence in your writing career and why?

The  biggest influence in my life with regard to writing was not a person.  It was a need to find a way to share the stories I dreamed.  Almost all of the books I've had published were dreams first.  In color.  With dialogue.  It's like going to the movies when I sleep.  I dream it.  I wake up and write it.  And whoever reads one of my books is reading one of my dreams.

4.  After a long career with big name publishers and being on some of the biggest lists with your novels, like the New York Times Bestseller list and USA Today, just to mention a couple, what made you decide to self-publish A Field of Poppies?

I didn't start out with the intent to self-publish A Field of Poppies.  But it was Women's Fiction, which is not the genre in which I'd become known.  The big publishers read it and one in particular love it.  Wanted to buy it.  I waited for the holidays to pass and then negotiations would begin.  I even got an e-mail from the editor saying how much she LOVED the story.  They had their meeting.  They all loved it.  And then at the last minute changed their mind.  Which was fine.  But it was the reason that made me so angry.  They wanted a guarantee it would sell and didn't think my readers would follow me to a new genre.  It floored me.  Since when has a publisher EVER had a guarantee that a book would sell?  And if twenty years of readership isn't enough, then what is.

I told my agent to pull it.  I refused to submit it anywhere else and well, here I am, the author of my first self-published book.  And by the way, it's doing quite nicely, thank you very much.  It's been in the top 100 Kindle sales on Amazon.com since the fourth day of its release.  It's available in print from Amazon.com and on Kindle and Nook.  And yes, I will do more.

5.  What is your current work-in-progress and can you summarize it in a few lines?

The book I'm working on now is actually the third book in my Lunatic series, which are the YA books I'm doing with Belle Books.  My Lunatic Life and Lunatic Detective are already out.  I'm writing Lunatic Revenge.  They're about a teenage girl who's a psychic and a medium.  She lives with her uncle and two ghosts who've helped raise her.  Remember that TV show Medium?  Think Medium meets Nancy Drew.

6.  What is your writing schedule like?  For example, do you write any time of the day or do you prefer a specific time of day?  Do you write for a set amount of hours or pages?

My writing schedule is a thing of the past since I moved my 92 year old mother in with me six years ago.  She has dementia and no short-term memory so every day brings new challenges, but also new joys.  We find far more things to laugh about than we do bemoan.  The only way to get through this for the both of us is without making anything a big deal.  I write when I can, which often means staying up until 1:00 a.m. to finish a chapter undeterred.  Then I'm up early the next day with her.  It's sort of like when my kids were little.  Seriously.  Only the two-year-old is 92.  Otherwise, the behaviors are a lot alike.  I'm smiling here because I love her so much and our life now is just as mine began . . . with her.

7.  How long does it take you to finish a book?

Until it's done, and that's the truth.  I keep an eye on the deadline and just keep writing.

8.  What is the most difficult or challenging part of the writing process for you?

I've already mentioned it.  At this point in my life, it's finding the time to write.  (see answer 6)

9.  Do you ever experience writers block?  If so, how do you cope with it?

I do not have the luxury of a writer's block.  I have a mortgage.  Seriously.  That's all the impetus I need to sit my backside down and get to work.  And remember, I'm not "making it up" as I go along.  I've already dreamed it.  All I have to do is write it down.

10.  Are you a plotter or a panster?  If you're a plotter, do you have any plotting tips to share?

I plot because publishers require a synopsis.  But once written, I rarely refer to it again, which is probably horrifying for a publisher to know.  The deal is, if you're letting the characters tell the story to you, it's far easier than trying to tell them what to do.  That's when a writer gets stuck in the story, because they're trying to force a character into something or into a situation that doesn't fit their personality or the story.  At least that's been my experience.

11.  What is your personal writing goal?

Hmm, I suppose professionally, it would be to meet deadlines.  Personally, it would be to have my books made into movies because I am a visual writer.  I "see" the scene as I'm writing the book, and to "see" it on film as I see when I'm writing would be a dream come true for me.

12.  If you could choose anywhere in the world to write, where would it be?

As a favorite country song of mine goes . . . "I'm already there."  It would be home.

13.  Describe your writing space, that one corner of the house that is all yours?

I live in an old ranch-style house that sprawls out over nearly 3/4 of an acre in the middle of the city and the only place in that entire house that is specifically mine is my bedroom.  And I would never write there.  That's where the dreams are.  I would never take work there.  My kitchen is huge.  There's an old sectional sofa with a built-in recliner at one end of the kitchen.  That's where I write on my laptop.  That way I'm in the middle of the house, able to see what my mother needs or is doing at any time.  I can keep an eye on laundry and cooking and even an update from the TV there while I write, and yes, I've learned to multitask when I write.  Before I thought I needed quiet to write.  I have since learned that is not the case.  And by the way, I'm laughing here, as well.

14.  What are you most proud of accomplishing in your life?

Career-wise, being the 2011 recipient of the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award given by Romance Writers of America.  Personally, raising two of the best kids a mother could ever hope to have, who have given me amazing grandchildren and the assurance that I did the right thing when it counted most.

15.  What is the strangest thing that ever happened to you at a workshop, presentation, book signing or conference?  What is the funniest?

The strangest thing that ever happened at a book signing was having a woman come up to me and whisper in my ear that she had ties to the mob and was I interested in writing her story and splitting it with her, 50/50.  That's also the funniest.  I hope to God I have more sense than to mess with the mod or do all the work and give half of it away to a total stranger.  And, FYI, I'm really laughing as I typed this answer.

16.  Where do you get your story ideas?

As I have stated before, I dream almost all of them.  The ones I don't are usually triggered by something I see or read.  It sets a whole train of thought into action that usually results in a book.

17.  What made you branch out into young adult?

This is an easy answer.  I have 9 grandchildren, 6 of whom are girls.  They had begged for years for me to write something they could read.  So I did.  And I even set the YA series in a real-life Oklahoma town--Stillwater, Oklahoma--home of Oklahoma State University, which is my son's alma-mater.

18.  What would you consider the most important advice you could give a writer?

If you're just beginning, or are considering becoming a writer, the most valuable advice I can give you is to join a writer's group--one that is organized enough to give you valuable info as to current markets, that would provide you with access to critique groups, and to write and not be afraid to edit or delete.

For writers who've been in the business a while and are published, I would remind them that this business changes as rapidly as a baby needing a diaper change.  You have to be ready to roll with it.  Just because you're successful in one aspect does not mean that avenue will always be there.  If you don't evolve as a writer, your career will eventually dissolve.

Thank you, Sharon.  If you would like to visit Sharon's website, please click on the following link:

Sharon Sala

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Interview with Vicki Hinze, award-winning, multi-published author and lecturer.

 1.  Tell us a little about yourself.

I'm a wife, mom and grandmother who loves all things writing.

2.  What inspired you to write your first book?

Both my mom and dad loved to read.  I started doing political essays--it was a game with my dad--very early on.  Later, I wrote poetry, but I learned quickly, I need room to stretch.  I wrote a couple short stories but required more than stretching room, I needed the space to sprawl.  So I tried a novel.  Hubby, who was military, had already moved to what would become our new home.  I was working full time (Director of Operations for a corporate chain) and the kids were with me finishing out the school year--it was the worst possible time to take on a big project like a novel, so of course, that's exactly when I did it.  Novels fit perfectly.  I wrote one, and then another and another . . . and I just haven't stopped.

 3.  You've written in many different sub-genres of romance, including contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and paranormal romance, not to forget the inspirational and technical books.  Of all that you have written, do you have a favorite genre or sub-genre?

I have written a lot of different types of novels.  I love genre-blending and blazing trails.  The most sure-fire way to get me to try something "different" is to tell me it can't be done.  Then I've just got to go for it.  As far as a favorite genre, I hesitate to name one.  I love suspense, mystery and a little romance in a book.  I love books that inspire.  So all my books regardless of what genre they're in, or including those not classified in a genre, have those things in common.  I can't say suspense or mystery or thriller or romance is my favorite.  It takes them all, and I'm not picky about which one the story focuses intensely on.  Sometimes it's the thriller element.  Sometimes it's the suspense.  Sometimes it's the romance.  So long as a book is well done with all those elements, I'm happy.  Guess that means my favorite is the "suspense and mystery and thriller and romance" genre where the stories heal the broken and inspire.  Whew, that's long-winded, but it is accurate.

4.  What or who has been the biggest influence in your writing career and why?

Many have had strong influences on me.  My mother.  She loved books, and encouraged me ceaselessly in writing.  Steadfast support.  That was priceless.  Nina Coombs-Pyakarre mentored me, and still today I ask myself what she'd think about this or that in my books.  If what I've done is up to her standards.  (Nina bled red ink on many a page for me for a very long time.  She was hard but fair and never permitted good enough to be good enough.)

Along the road, there have been many others.  Many, many others, and I'm grateful to each and every one of them.

5.  What is the most difficult or challenging part of the writing process for you?

Coloring between the lines.  I like many different kinds of books and I want to write--and have written--many different types of books.  That's frustrating to editors who need the same kind of book only different rather than different and different and different.  I can do that--write the same kind of book--I've just chosen not to do it very often.  I love the challenge of blazing trails and trying different kinds of books to see if I can do them.  Totally love that.  It's not the easiest way to build a career, but I wasn't and still am not just interested in building a career, I'm interested in building a life.  Writing is a huge part of my life--very important to me.  To live that life well, I can't color within the lines all the time.  It just doesn't work for me that way.  So I go where I'm drawn to go and do what I'm drawn to do and hope for the best.  :-)

6.  What is your writing schedule like?  For example, do you write any time of the day or do you prefer a specific time of day?  Do you write for a specific amount of hours or a set amount of pages?

I have written all those ways.  When the kids were small and still home, I had to be extremely disciplined about writing time.  I'd get up at o'dark thirty and write for an hour or two before getting the kids up and off to school and leaving for work.  Then after dinner and homework and getting them down for the night, I'd write some more.  Now my schedule on writing is more relaxed.  It depends on where I am in the story.  If fevered, I work until I fall asleep at the computer.  If not, I try to get fevered.  It makes for the best stories.  The long and short of it is that I schedule deadlines out far enough that I'm generally done way before deadlines.  Occasionally something will happen that pushes me against the wall on them, but then I just buckle down and get the book written.  If that means writing nearly around the clock, then that's what it means.  (I hate the idea of being late.  To me, it's just rude to mess up other people's schedules unless it absolutely cannot be avoided.)

7.  How long does it take you to finish a book?

It depends on the book.  Some are very quick--a month, maybe two.  Others are  years.  The fastest I've written one start to finish is two weeks.  The longest--well, I've rewritten one five times and I still don't like it.  The vision in my head doesn't match that on paper.  I first wrote it in 1995.  I'll let you know when it's finally done.  On an average, four to five months is good.  But it truly depends on the book and the vision for it.  If it's clear and comes full blown, it's fast.  If it's nebulous and murky, it takes longer.  You can't predict, book to book.  Or I can't.  What I can say is that it takes what it takes to get it the best you can make it at that time.

8.  Do you ever experience writer's block?  If so, how do you cope with it?

I haven't, but I've only been writing a little over two decades, so it might be it just hasn't hit me yet.  I know it's real, it happens.  I know writers who have suffered horribly.  But for me the challenge is an abundance of stories I want to write, need to write, must write.  I have the opposite of writer's block.  It can be a mess too, because you must focus and be disciplined to get things done.

I think the reason I've avoided block thus far is I'm constantly refilling the creative well.  I love people.  Love to study them, watch them, listen to them, figure out what makes them tick, what ticks them off, what fires them up, leaves them cold.  I am into issues and anything to do with healing.  I love science and history and so many other things.  It's all so interesting.  I have to work at it to cap my creative well long enough to hang onto thought and ideas that pertain to the book at hand.

9.  Are you a plotter or panster?  If you're a plotter, do you have any plotting tips?

I'm both.  For a long time, I plotted.  I was writing in spurts and it was hard to recall what happened when and details.  So by using a plot board--squares on a page where each square is a scene in a chapter--it made spurt writing easier.  I spent much less time reviewing what I'd already written.  That was helpful and a great time-saver.  I've also written books where I had no idea what would happen next.  I had to write to find out.  Those are fun.  Again, it depends on the book and what is going on in my life.  I rarely get to write one book at a time.  That makes plotting helpful.

A great tip, in my opinion, is to respect the way your mind works and use whatever methods are in harmony with it.  To some, plotting equates to the story being done.  The desire to write the story diminishes because the writer knows what is going to happen.  That's not good.  So play panster.  If you write yourself into brick walls and end up spending more time rewriting than writing, try playing plotter.  You'll see which works best for you--and it might be a combination of the two that's your perfect fit.

10.  What is your personal writing goal?

My personal writing goal is to create healing books that inspire and lift up people who are struggling or broken.  To show them through the characters and stories that no matter how hard times get, we get through them, and there's a lot of good life on the other side of challenges.

11.  If you could choose anywhere in the world to write, where would it be? 

The beach.  Course, I go there and get caught up in the horizon and the sounds of the surf, which is great for dreaming but might not be conducive to . . . yes, the beach.  It's my favorite place.

12.  Describe your writing space, that one corner of the house that is all yours?

My office was the entire upstairs until I fell down the stairs.  Now I'm in a bedroom on the lower floor and never go upstairs, which is great but the office is not half as big as the old one, so it's messy in here.  There are two desks, two book cases, two file cabinets, two chairs, another shelf, another two cabinets and stacks.  All kinds of stacks.  Books.  Books waiting for endorsements.  Manuscripts.  Partials.  I can't see what else.  My computer screen is big and blocks the view--and I like it that way.  My book covers are framed and on the wall.  I have a collection of sayings and tapestries and goodies that are inspiring and religious in nature above and around an altar, which is a sacred space in my office.  On its top are several items of importance to me.  One is a compass.  So I never lose my way.  In the corner beside the altar is a pot with sticks in it that the grandkids gifted to me.  Little branches.  I hang ornaments of angels on them.  I've always called the grans my angels.  Mmm, and more stacks.  :-)  Lots and lots of those!

13.  What are you most proud of accomplishing in your life?

Boy, I don't know.  Raising the kids, definitely.  My goal was to get all three through college where they started their adult lives with no debt.  I'm thrilled about that, but they did the work.  I'm very proud of my family and I have enormous respect for the kids.  That's a lovely thing.  But again, that's the people they chose to be, not really my accomplishment.

 I think one of the highlights of my life was putting the first copy of my first book in my mother's hands.  She shook she was so excited.  And when she read the dedication, she burst into tears.  That was an amazing moment.  I've told you how much she loved books and how supportive she always was of me writing.  To give that to her meant the world to me.

14.  What is your current work-in-progress, and can you summarize it in a few lines?

Well, there are two Lost, Inc. books.  That's a new series I'm doing for Love Inspired Suspense that debuts next October with SURVIVE THE NIGHT.  I'm editing the second one, CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN, and writing the third, TORN LOYALTIES.  These all center around a small agency helping the lost find their way home.

I'm also finishing up a Kali Kaye book, GIRL TALK: LETTERS BETWEEN FRIENDS, I'll be publishing very soon.  It's different--hence the Kali Kaye name so readers know to expect a different type of story.

I'm writing a proposal for a new series that is a departure for me but one that captivated me in the research phase.  I planned to wait a year, but I got too invested so I have to write them sooner.

And I've just begun the first book in another series that is Christian fiction also.  It's kind of an exploratory project.  I love the idea of the story.  Now I have to see if I'll love the book.  If so, I'll write it.  Have to write some to know.

15.   I know you've written many technical writing books, but what you consider the most important advice you could give a writer?  If you want, you can break this into advice to beginning writers and advice to advanced.


Never write a book you don't love.  Your time is your life.  If you invest it in a book, you should love it.  That love shows in the work in a thousand ways, and if it's missing, that shows, too.


Know your purpose for writing and then view everything you do professionally through the prism of that purpose.  Will this (whatever this is) enhance or detract from  your purpose?  Only invest in that which enhances your purpose.


Adopt "the best" as your mantra and do everything within your power to never settle for less.  Good enough is never good enough.


Much in the business of writing is out of your control.  Accept that.  Know how the business works, and be content controlling what you can:  the quality of the work.  On quality do not compromise.

Thank you, Vicki.  If you'd like to visit Vicki Hinze's website, click on the following link.

Vicki Hinze

Friday, February 10, 2012

Interview with award-winning, multi-published author and speaker, Elizabeth Sinclair

      Interview with Elizabeth Sinclair, a multi-published author whose books have sold in seventeen countries and have been translated into seven foreign languages. She is also the author of the widely acclaimed instructional book, The Dreaded Synopsis.

   1.      Tell us a little about yourself.

Hawks Mountain
I’m an upstate New York transplant to my lovely adopted city of St Augustine FL.  We have three grown children, five grandchildren, two grandchildren-in-law, and a great grandchild due in August. My husband and I also have three furry kids: a 78 pound Collie, Ripley; a 74 pound Golden Retriever, Lily; and a foster dog, a 58 pound Rottweiler, Butch. We will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary in June.

2.      What inspired you to write your first book?
Summer Rose
I’ve always loved to write.  I was the kid who was thrilled with a composition assignment in school while all the rest were about to slit their wrists. But I never took my love of writing seriously until I read Kathleen Woodwiss’ THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER.  I so loved that book that when I finished it, I decided to try my hand at it…not that I thought I could come close to Kathleen.

3.      You write contemporary romance, romantic fiction, and paranormal romance. Do you have a favorite sub-genre?

If it’s a good book with a good plot, any sub-genre.  However, I do tend to lean toward light paranormal romance when I want to read for pleasure.  No vampires or werewolves.  Just a few ghosts and supernatural goings on.

4.      Where do you get all your ideas?

Eight Men & a Lady
Everywhere. Sometimes it’s a picture or one line from a poem, a TV show or a song.  Sometimes it’s my imagination kicking in when I see an event or hear a conversation and wonder “What if….?”  One of my books, EIGHT MEN AND A LADY, came from a challenge from my husband. I was wondering why no one had ever used Snow White to paraphrase a romance novel – seven men, one woman, isolated in the woods? It was begging to be a contemporary version in a romance novel.  He told me to put my money where my mouth was, and the book was born.

5.      What is the most difficult part of writing for you?

Plotting, hands down.  I agonize over my plots.  I believe it’s mostly because I’m always looking for a new and interesting twist and until it pops into my head, it’s torture.

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

The Overnight Groom
Well, depending how much procrastination enters the equation, a short contemporary takes about 3 months and a longer single title about 5-give or take a few weeks.

7.      What is your writing schedule like? For example, do you write any time of the day or do you prefer a specific time of day? Do you write for a specific amount of hours or pages?

Normally, I write from about 9 am until 3 pm, at which point my brain atrophies, and I find I’m writing drivel, so I quit and go play Pogo  Then there are days when the words are flowing, and I look at the clock, and realize it’s time for supper. I don’t do well if I handicap myself by limiting my writing time or the number of pages.  I keep a worksheet on the current book’s progress (word count), so I know how much I write each day and how many words I have yet to go.  That pretty much keeps me on track.

8.      Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you cope with it?

Baptism in Fire
I don’t look at it as writer’s block.  I see it as plot block.  Whatever the reason my writing comes to a screeching halt, it can always be found somewhere within the plot – weak GMCs, unbelievable characters, a sagging middle, writing a scene from the wrong character’s point of view and a bunch of other reasons.  What it usually entails is backing up and reading what I have until I spot the problem. If that fails, I usually scream for help form my critique partners.

9.      You’re the author of The Dreaded Synopsis, A Writing and Plotting Guide. How did writing this come about?
The Dreaded Synopsis
It’s all Debra Dixon’s fault.  After having utilized her GMC method in my writing, I wondered if it could be used for the synopsis as well, so since we’d been friends for years, I asked her if I could use the GMC to devise a synopsis workshop and if she’d look it over before I presented it.  She graciously agreed.  When I’d finished the workshop handout, I sent it to her.  She said she’d never seen the method for writing a synopsis presented that way, and I should write a book about it.  The seed was planted, and though I initially balked at the idea, when I hit a lull between book deadlines, I decided to do it.

10.  Do you have any writing tips on plotting?

If my critique partners are reading this, they’re saying “Yes, her mantra.  Write a GMC for each character, including the villain.” And they’d be right.  Without it, you can have no plot.  It’s the spine of the book, the place from which everything in the plot originates.

11.  What is your personal writing goal?

Burning Secrets
To continue writing and to do it well enough that it will afford my readers enjoyment.  Of course, making the NY Times list isn’t a bad idea either.

12.  What is the strangest thing that ever happened to you while you were at a book signing or giving a presentation? What is the funniest?

Actually, the strangest and the funniest all happened at the same book signing with the same lady.  She came to the table with three copies of my book.  This is not normally anything unusual. Sometimes people buy a copy for themselves and one for friends.  However, she asked that they ALL be signed to her.  Yep, all to her. After biting back my surprise, I asked why she was buying three copies for herself.  Her answer was “Because I’m a good person, and I deserve them.”  I signed the copies and wished her a good day. After which I sat there in stunned silence for a time before bursting out laughing.

13.  What is your current work-in-progress, and can you summarize it in a few lines?

My current work in progress is WINTER MAGIC, the fourth book in the Hawks Mountain series for Bell Bridge Books, written with a Cinderella like theme.  It’s about a woman taken completely out of her element, thrust into a situation about which she has no knowledge, and as a result, finds love and happiness she never dreamed of.

14.  What writing advice or tips would you like to give to other writers?
Learn your craft.  Devote yourself to the writing and stick with it.  Determination + patience + persistence = published.

15.  You're writing a series for Bell Bridge Books. How do these stories connect? How many of these books will there be?
Hawks Mountain
All the books in the HAWKS MOUNTAIN series take place in a fictitious small mountain town of Carson, WV.  The characters are either residents of the town or people who come to live in the small community for one reason or another.  The other ongoing thread in all the books is a character called Granny Jo Hawks. Granny is the sage of the community, the one everyone goes to for advice, the glue that holds the community together.  I just signed a contract for three more books, making the total under contract eight, but my editor says she’d like to run it for at least twelve books total.

Thank you Elizabeth.  If you would like to visit Elizabeth Sinclair's website, please click on the following link.   Elizabeth Sinclair

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Paper books vs E-books

Until a few years ago, I'd never read an e-book. I couldn't imagine holding an e-reader or what my favorite books might look like on it.  You see, I've always loved the feel and weight of a paper book in my hand, the smell of a bookstore with shelves and shelves of paperbacks and hardbacks with beautiful covers.  There's nothing like browsing a bookstore, then sitting in the cafe and drinking coffee, while my stack of books sit on the table in front of me. 

A couple of years ago, I got a Kindle as a gift.  I admit I was skeptical, but the thought of ordering a book with one click was kind of cool.  I didn't have to leave my house, and I didn't have to wait for the mail to deliver them.  I had them in about sixty seconds.  I have several hundred books on my Kindle, and a lot of those books were free.  Authors sometimes offer a book at zero cost for a couple of days, even a week.  It allows readers the opportunity to try a book by an author they've never read.  This is a great strategy by an author to acquire new readers.  It works.  I have to say, I love  reading e-books.  I'm even working on a collection of short stories to be sold as an e-book. 

Do I still love the feel of a paper book in my hand?  (Sigh)  Yes, very much, and browsing a bookstore is one of my all time favorite things to do.  As a reader and an author, I have to move forward with the times.  E-books are here to stay. 

Happy reading!