Monday, July 26, 2010

Interview with Romance Author Marcia Lynn McClure

Marcia Lynn McClure is surrounded by the gorgeous and captivating desert land of New Mexico, creating the perfect mood to write her romance novels. Her parents and grandparents were a great influence. She grew up hearing “tales of runaway buckboards, mule-drawn plows; stories of hardship and tragedy, love and loss.” These family legends led Marcia to writing novels. She is the mother of three children and has one grandson. Marcia is a romantic at heart and the author of 22 “clean” romance novels.

Escape into adventure, mystery, and the captivating kisses of Marcia Lynn McClure romance!

Weathered Too Young: When Lark appears on the Evans’ porch, Tom instantly hires her to keep house and cook for himself and his cantankerous elder brother, Slater. It doesn’t take long for Slater Evans to unknowingly capture her heart. Lark’s true age is not the only truth she has kept from Slater and Tom Evans. Darker secrets lay imprisoned deep within her heart. However, secrets are made to be found out. Would Lark discover the love she’d never dared to hope for?

Hello Marcia! In your novel, Slater Evans says: “I hate rabbit stew. We’re ornery old men, set in our ways, and we don’t take kindly to change.” I love this quote! Please tell us about your book: Weathered Too Young, and what kind of man this Evans fellow is.

Slater Evans is delicious! Masculine, brooding, and hiding secrets…yet with a clever wit and sense of humor! Basically he’s the kind of cowboy one might see in one’s dreams! “Perfectly imperfect!” I adore him! He so tugs at my heartstrings…and he’s irresistible. Very heroic, too…of course!

Hey, I love perfectly imperfect men. Where do you get your ideas? Do you get most of them from life experiences?

I absolutely DO get most of my ideas from real life experiences! So many character attributes and events in my books are based on personal experiences, family history stories, etc. A few of my reader favorites that were based on true life: Brevan McLean’s plowing accident, Dusty getting ‘stuck’ to Ryder, Reb Mitchel stripping off his shirt so Sage can take a peach cobbler out of the oven…and the list goes on and on!

To me, that makes a story even more intriguing. You once wrote that if your readers close one of your books with “a contented sigh and a delighted smile, feeling rejuvenated, cheerful and edified,” then you have achieved what you set out to do. Please tell us your thoughts.

My goal is to (though it may sound way too cliché) sprinkle sugar! Life is too stressful…too fast-paced…too demanding. We all need moments of respite…just some time to let our minds and bodies escape for a time…to rejuvenate. I want my books to be that escape…something a reader can pick up and bathe in…relax, smile, laugh, maybe even weep…but something that makes them feel uplifted when they’re finished…helps them to pick up and carry on with a delighted little smile on their face because they just lingered in something delightful. I just want to “sprinkle sugar.” Once (at a fan club meeting)…when someone asked me if I ever get down in the dumps and stuff…I said, “Sure! Of course! Everyone struggles!” The woman asked me why I never showed it, and I said, “Because I’d rather be a sugar-sifter than a manure-spreader.” I didn’t think much of it at the time, but for me it’s a great analogy of my feelings…and of what I want my books to be. Does that make sense?

It makes perfect sense to me. I need that little uplift simply because of life’s little trials. What does your family think about your writing?

My daughter loves my books…whew! She writes, too…and is awesome with the mystery angle. She thinks the whole thing is fun! My husband and sons…well, they don’t mind it…too much. It’s just that they do tend to get mobbed when they attend events with me…and since they’re all sort of shy (although ridiculously handsome), it’s sometimes uncomfortable for them. But in the end…I think they just look at it like it’s just a normal part of life!

That’s wonderful. I remember the very first time my daughters picked up one of my novels and began reading. I was a nervous wreck. I, too, write historical romance, and I was so afraid they wouldn’t like it because most of them were into fantasy or Jane Austen. How can you compete with that? I remember how relieved I was when they told me that they loved my writing style…whew! What a relief!!! Okay, Marcia, it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

Do you mean like trivia stuff? Like, when I was four years old I almost drowned in a manure pit or that I was lead vocalist for several pop/rock bands in college? Or do you mean like a life philosophy? Hmmm…as far as my feelings on life…here’s one that’s very important to me: Everyone you meet should feel better about themselves because they met you. Not that they should think you’re great…they should be assured that THEY’RE great. We’re here to “esteem” one another…and that’s what we should do…that and sprinkle sugar in our wake!

I have enjoyed this interview immensely. Now I know the real you… (and I’m not talking about the manure, either… Poor you!) Marcia, you have sprinkled sugar all over my path. All we need is a little sweetener in our lives.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Interview with Author Kersten Campbell - Humorist Writer

Kersten Campbell is the author of a humorous book called Confessions of a Completely Insane Mother. Kersten said, “It has always been my belief that we, as women, need to laugh more. Mothers experience some of the most stressful working conditions on the planet, and stress can be dangerous to women’s overall health and longevity. Humor can reduce stress.”

I’ve always heard that laughter is the best medicine. The Reader’s Digest wrote, “Scientific evidence has shown that laughter helps people breathe easier and it massages the heart and other vital organs… In experiments, students who watched funny movies were found to have an increased flow of infection-fighting proteins in their saliva.” If this is true, then laughter is definitely the best medicine. Kersten, will you please tell us about your new book?

"Confessions" is a book full of humor stories about life with five kids and a mother who is far from perfect. In fact, that's why I wrote the book, so that women would be inspired to relax and enjoy motherhood and realize that nobody is perfect. I hoped it would inspire them to laugh at the little disasters that happen every day in family life. The message is: Just do your best, enjoy your family, and rely on the Savior to make up the difference.

Your book sounds fascinating. Where did you get your ideas?

I get all of my ideas from real life experiences. I carry little index cards around in all my pockets so that I'll never miss recording the funny things my kids do. And they do some funny things, especially when they interact with my husband, who is the straight man in the family. I love to record all of it for later use. One example is when my daughter made us "chocolate chip" soup for lunch. That turned into a really great story combined with some of the funny things she had said to me earlier in the week.

Chocolate chip soup? Oh my! It’s hard to imagine. What do your children think about your writing? Do they suspect that you’re writing about them?

My kids love that there is a book published about all their exploits. They love to laugh at themselves and they share the funny stories with their friends and teachers. The neighbor kids are all begging me to put them in the next book. My kids are really hoping for movie rights but I'm not getting their hopes up. Hee hee.

One reviewer said about Confessions, "I seriously laughed until I cried.” How do you know when you’ve got a real hilarious story to tell? And what is a Humorist's License?

Many people think writing humor is all laughter and fun, but actually it is really hard work. It takes a lot of planning the timing and surprises and combinations of humor elements. So in actuality you can take anything and make it funny. You just have to learn about humor writing techniques.... one of which is exaggeration... (I call it Humorist's License). There are many great books that teach the formulas for humor writing. One of the best books I've read is called, Comedy Writing Secrets, by Melvin Helitzer.

So now I know what a Humorist License is. Okay, tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

It's true that I don't sort my laundry and I am addicted to chocolate donuts. Okay...maybe you didn't want to go that deep into my psyche, but the truth about me is that I love people. I love the human condition...that we all have faults and that we need to rely upon each other and the Savior to be successful. That was part of the plan before we came here. So I don't think we, as women, should feel bad about ourselves when we're not perfect. If you want to feel better about can read a new humor story each month on my blog: I hope the stories will make you smile and bring some joy to your day! Thank you so much Linda for the fun interview!

Thank you, Kersten. I enjoyed getting to know you. So... everyone, is laughter the best medicine after all?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Interview with Author Jennifer Walker – Young Adult Fiction Novelist

Jennifer Walker is a full time freelance writer. She has published articles in Modern Arabian Horse, Arabian Horse Times, and Sierra Style, including monthly contributions to Horseman's News magazine. She owns some beautiful Arabian horses and enjoys writing about her first love… horses! Another love of hers is Jennifer’s husband, Greg, who just happens to be a professional chef. How lucky is that!!! She also has other interests besides horses. Jennifer is a professional ballroom dance instructor.

Hello, Jennifer. When I was a teen, one of my favorite books was Black Beauty. Tell us about your book, Bubba Goes National.

Bubba Goes National is about a 13-year-old girl, Leslie Clark, who finds an Arabian horse at a livestock auction. She takes him home, finds out he is immensely talented and starts taking him to horse shows. It is a dream come true when she takes him all the way to the National Championships, but along the way she has to deal with her snotty rich rival, Kate. Readers learn about the care and showing of horses and the value of hard work, but the book is not preachy.

I started writing this story a few years ago, and it took me a couple years to finish because I kept wandering away and coming back. After some excellent editing and advice from my mentor, Michelle L. Devon, I decided to publish it. It's been a lot of fun getting Bubba Goes National out to the public and hearing how much people love it.

Where did you get your ideas? Do you get most of them from life experiences since you own horses?

Many of my ideas do come from real life. I've never had a lot of money, so I've worked off a lot of training and lessons, just like Leslie. Some of the horse show scenes in Bubba Goes National come from actual experiences I've had, either as a youth or in recent years, although I embellish a lot. Of course, some of it is just completely made up!

Creating a book isn’t easy. Do you use an outline when you write or play it by ear?

I'm too lazy to do outlines--I need instant gratification! I like to just sit down and start writing something I can eventually do something with. However, it scares me to start a story without knowing how to finish it. I had Bubba figured out after a couple of brainstorming sessions and kept a loose outline in my head. I did that with another book I wrote and it went very smoothly. However, the sequel to Bubba Goes National is sitting on my hard drive right now while I frantically try to figure out the ending because I didn't do that before I started. Since I have a goal to finish Bubba to the Rescue by the end of July, I'd better come up with something fast!

I know what you mean. You may have a great plot, but there needs to be a good ending. A reviewer, Michelle L. Devon, wrote, “Bubba Goes National is a sweet story, but it also tackles some of the more difficult issues teens have to deal with these days, such as death of a parent, competitive rivalry, overcoming tough obstacles, and working hard to earn something. It’s a story any teen girl who has ever dreamed of having her own horse will want to read, and horse-loving grownup girls will too!” Tell me your thoughts about this review.

I think she pretty well nailed what this story is about. It pleased me to hear that someone reading the story got out of it what I wanted them to, and it touches me that she believes in it as much as I do.

What does your husband think about your writing style?

I think he might be one of my biggest fans, and not just because he's contractually obligated to be! He is an avid reader in several different genres, but teenage horse books written for girls isn't usually one of them. He honestly loved the story and is constantly pushing me to get it out there. He is also a writer himself and has a really fun writing style. He needs to get some stories out so people can read and enjoy them.

This interview has been so fun. Okay, tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

Oy, this is a hard one. How about...when I was 17, I qualified for the national championships in a particular class that is only for riders 17 and under (equitation, which you learn in Bubba Goes National is judged on the rider instead of the horse). I leased a horse from New Hampshire and had her shipped to Kentucky for the show. The local horse clubs where I lived in California held fundraisers to help me raise the money to go, plus I worked two jobs to raise money while still riding as much as I could to practice. My mother and I rode a Greyhound bus for three days to get there, I got to ride the horse twice before my class, and then I showed. I didn't make the first cut, but it was an experience I'll never forget! It was the only time in my whole life I got to go to nationals to show until last year. I still don't have a national title, but I'm thinking about trying to go this year with my new horse. Keep your fingers crossed for me! A few book sales would sure help me get there. :)

Wow! What a wonderful experience! I can just imagine your excitement at age 17… and even now as you try for the Nationals once again. Thanks for the opportunity of getting to know you.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Interview with Author Julie Coulter Bellon – Suspense Novelist

Julie Coulter Bellon is Canadian, but married an American and settled in the States. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Secondary Education and now teaches a journalism course for BYU Continuing Education. She loves to travel and her favorite cities are Athens, Paris, Ottawa, and London. She is also learning to play the bagpipes! Julie is the mother of seven children, soon to be eight, and the author of six books, soon to be seven. Read sample chapters at Julie’s Website.

Hello Julie. Being a published author has fulfilled a lifelong dream for you. Please tell us about your new book, Dangerous Connections.

Dangerous Connections is set entirely in Paris France, and it picks up the story of Tyler Winthrop, one of the doctors who was serving in Iraq in All’s Fair. Tyler has finished his tour of duty and is heading to Paris to meet his father for a little down time. Unfortunately, when he gets there, some mysterious things start happening to him, and he realizes his father has been kidnapped. He tries to find him, and becomes involved in some international espionage as he gets caught up with a French spy named Isabella Floret who seems to have a few mysterious secrets of her own. The book is a heart-pounding spy novel, with a lot of intrigue, danger, and of course, romance. I hope you won’t be able to put this one down!

Heart-pounding? Whoa! Where do you get your inspiration for your novels?

As a journalism teacher, (and former reporter) I read a lot of newspapers about current events, and I get a lot of inspiration from them. For example, I was reading about the Baku oil leases in the Caspian sea and how whoever controls those oil leases controls a lot of the world’s oil and I thought, what would happen if a terrorist organization owned those leases? How would that affect our current world economy? And that’s how my book Time Will Tell came about. For my novel, On the Edge, there was quite a debate in the papers about how much security should be between the borders of Canada and the U.S. and so I wrote a story about a biological weapon being developed in a private hospital in Africa before being shipped to Canada so it could be smuggled to the U.S. Even in Dangerous Connections, I was reading about certain water supply systems and how vulnerable they are to attack, and I went from there.

You’re a Suspense Novelist, and creating a page-turner... a book we can’t put down, is what it’s all about. Is it difficult finding enough suspense for your novels? Is there a secret to creating a page-turner?

I don’t think it’s difficult to find enough suspense because my novels deal with international issues that are going on in the world today, which I happen to think are suspenseful enough all on their own, so I only have to add a bit more here and there to create something that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Suspense has always been my favorite genre, though, so I get a big payday by creating something that people tell me keeps them up at night. I don’t know if there’s a secret to creating a page-turner. I just love imagining ‘what if’ scenarios and thinking about what I’d do if I were in that situation, even if my heart was pounding and my knees were weak. I always ask myself when I’m writing, if I were this character, could I still do the right thing, even if it were scary or might mean certain death? I don’t know if that makes sense. I would guess that if there is a secret to a page turner, it would be providing enough realism that people can see themselves in that situation and lose themselves in the story and the characters’ lives so much that they just have to turn the page to find out what happens next.

Yes, to provide enough realism is what it takes. What does your family think about your writing?

They are really proud of me. They think it’s exciting to walk into a bookstore and look for my book on the shelf. If I’m under a deadline they’re really good to do the housework and meals for me so I can get things done. I know I couldn’t do it without their support and I’m so glad for the amazing family that I have because I’ve been able to follow my dream of being an author and it’s mostly because of them.

That’s so true, Julie. Without family support, it would be hard to be an author. Tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

When I was twelve years old I got to meet Princess Diana while she was on walkabout in Canada. I got to shake her hand and she asked if it was always this hot in Canada and what time it was. I was so amazed by her and I thought she seemed so fragile and sweet. I told myself I’d never wash the hand that shook hers, but of course I did. Thank you for the interview. You are wonderful!

Oh my gosh!!! Princess Diana? Wow! What a great privilege! Thanks for sharing your ideas and experiences with my readers, Julie. It was fun getting to know you.