Kat's Blog

Kat's Blog

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Summer Bash Is Back

My guest this week is the very talented Marsha West. Hi Marsha. It's so good to see you.:-)

01: What is the first story you’ve published. Tell us a little bit about it.

VERMONT ESCAPE is my first published book. (Picture author jumping up and down! J )

02: What inspired the story?

The idea is based on a time in my life when the kids were young. The whole family had gone on a lovely vacation to Red River, New Mexico. Up in the mountains. Gorgeous views. Moderate temperatures. Great shopping. Fishing for my husband. Can you say paradise? I’m from Texas where in August it can easily be 109 cooling only to the 80s or 90 at night. Stressful stuff awaited us back home, and I didn’t want to leave the lovely mountain top retreat. We half joked that we could buy one of the little stores for sale, and my husband could practice law. We’d just not return.
Well, only in fiction, do you really get to escape, and we returned to Texas. Ultimately, life settled back into the level of stress we can all handle. But that feeling of really wanting to leave everything (not the family) behind stuck with me and was the basis for VERMONT ESCAPE.

03: Do you have a writing process? If so what is it?

I’m a plotter, so before I try to write the story, there are a number of things I have to have in place first. 
1)      I need a location. I know most people start with the characters, but I start with the location. Where do the people live and work?
2)      Then I ask myself who lives in that house? Why are they there? What do they do in town? At that point I drag out all my charts and start developing the characters. Not just what they look like, though I’ve frequently got pictures of people who represent the characters as I see them in my mind. What were their growing up years like? Who are their friends, mentors, supporters? I do charts for all but the very smallest of roles.
3)      Then I ask what do they want and why can’t they have it? That leads right into the Goal, Motivation, and Conflict chart. (Judges of the first book I entered in contests, said I should really study GMC. LOL I didn’t know what they were talking about. That book remains under my bed serving as a holder for dust bunnies. LOL)
4)      Next chart is one for internal and external conflict and it’s from this that the action pieces happen.
5)      Then I put together a tag line and a short paragraph about what’s going to happen.
6)      Then it’s time to write. I let myself write some of the backstory. I know it will go away and only pieces of it will get layered into the story, but I have to write 2-3 chapters of this. It’s kind of how I get into my characters’ minds.

05: Who are some of your favorite authors?

This is fun to answer because some of these folks are friends or at least folks I have a relationship with on-line.
Jerrie Alexander,  Donnell Bell, Kate Wyland, Jane Richardson, Diana Layne, Kathy Bennett, C.A. Szarek, Jeanne Guzman, Clover Autrey, Carla Neggars, Allison Brennan, Elizabeth Lowell, and Linda Howard. Well, I could go on, but that gives you a good place to start. J

06: Do you have one author in particular who inspired your writing career? Who and why?

I’d have to say, Linda Howard. I inhaled her books. My husband bought me a Romance Writers for Dummies because she’d written the introduction. (He liked her books, too.)

07: Are your stories based on real events or people?

Almost all of them have some basis in fact. I don’t write fantasy or create whole, new worlds as some authors do, but even with the basis in the real world, the stories and characters are made up.  

08: How much research goes into your work?

That varies depending on the book. With VERMONT ESCAPE, I had to dig into what their legislative body was called and how it worked. I was already familiar with the Texas legislature.

09: Have you ever killed off a character based on someone real? If so why? No

10: If you could visit any period in history, what time would you go to? Why?

I’d go about 40 years into the future so I could see how my grandkids turn out.

11: If you could gather any three people in the world, living or dead together, whom would you want to meet and talk with?

 My mother. I find myself often thinking, “I should’ve asked Mom that.” Eleanor Roosevelt and Diane Sawyer.

12: What do you do for fun when you aren’t busy writing?

Watch TV. Love dramas and crime stories. Travel. Love New England. Always looking for the perfect location for the next book.

13: What is the one thing people believe about writers that upsets you?

I think people are clueless about just how hard this business is. (I was.) When I first started writing (about six years ago), everyone wanted to know when they could read my book. As if—poof—you write a book and—poof—you are published. LOL There’s no “poof” about any of this business.

14: Is there any genre you haven’t written that you’d like to try your hand at?

I’ve been content to write romantic suspense. I guess if I branched out it would be to women’s fiction. (But it would probably still have a romance, a bit of a mystery, and a Happily Ever After.) LOL Guess that would still be romantic suspense. Maybe children’s books, so my grands could read them.

15: If you were independently wealthy what is the one place on Earth you’d most like to visit? Why?

No question. I’d buy a  house on the coast of Maine and live there for 4-5 months of the year. It’s a gorgeous state and I feel like I belong there. J

16: What is your favorite color? Turquoise

17: What is your favorite food? Anything Mexican

18: What is your favorite movie? 42nd Street.

19: What is your favorite TV show? Covert Affairs, Rizzoli & Isles, Longmire, Person of Interest

20: What is your favorite holiday? Thanksgiving! Great food, family, and fall colors.

            Two years after the murder of her husband, someone guns down Jill Barlow’s father, a Texas State Representative. The authorities suspect a connection between the murders, but can’t find proof. Jill longs for the peace she found when she visited Vermont after her husband’s death. With the perpetrators still at large, she flees to the small town of Woodstock. 
            The gambling syndicate, believing she has damning evidence against them, pursues her, shattering her dreams of peace. In an effort to protect her grown children, she doesn't tell them violence continues to stalk the family.
            Despite having lost so much already, with the lives of her family and friends at stake, will Jill be required to make more sacrifices, even the hope of a second chance at love?

Jill Barlow reached for her make-up kit and brushed against the one thing she’d been doing her damnedest to avoid. Her heart rate tripped into overtime.
The package she received days after her dad was murdered. One month ago, but she couldn’t face opening a reminder of the nightmare.
Pictures of her vigorous father mixed with recent images of his closed casket. Nausea hit. Again. Damn. Why would someone blow off her father’s head? She didn’t stay to find out. She ran.
She’d pushed herself on a four-day trip from Texas to Vermont. Emotionally and physically exhausted, all she wanted to do was unpack her pajamas and climb into bed. Habit required she clean and moisturize her face. Habit provided comfort when life was chaotic. Habit could get her through the worst. Or not.
 In the Woodstock Inn suite, her hand trembled when she removed the package and dropped it onto the bed where it lay on the white coverlet like a scorpion.
 Hands propped on her knees, she leaned over, drew in needed oxygen. A minute passed, and then she straightened.
“Okay, open this. Every time you’ve come across the thing, you implode, morphing into a quivering mass of mush.”  

Marsha R. West, a retired elementary school principal, is also a former school board member and threatre arts teacher. She writes romantic suspense where experience is required. Her heroes and heroines, struggling with life and loss, are surprised to discover second chances at love.
 Marsha, who loves to travel, lives in Texas with her supportive lawyer husband. They’ve raised two daughters who’ve presented them with three delightful grandchildren. She admits to being at the beck and call of two dogs, who run her home.
She’s currently editing her latest work in progress.

Her first published book, released on July 19, is available at MuseItUp Publishing  http://goo.gl/nJtaa  at B & N   http://goo.gl/llR6D and at Amazon http://goo.gl/qhzBm  

Places to reach her:
http://www.marsharwest.com/category/blog for Thoughts on Thursday and Tuesday Author Chats

          She’d love to hear from you.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Great Quickie

I just finished listening to a quickie story called Possession In Death by J.D. Robb. I bought the audiobook version and its FANTASTIC! I love her In Death series and this was a great addition, absolutely hilarious.

Possession In Death takes place between Indulgence In Death and Treachery In Death. In fact, at the end of Indulgence Eve and her hubby are about to have a barbeque to help out her friend Morris who is still reeling from the loss of his girl with whom he'd been getting serious. But with her murder Morris has been locked into himself so Eve throws a barbeque to help remind him he's not alone.

The actual barbeque takes place in Possession and we get to see the party. But afterwards, while driving one of her guests, Father Lopez home, an old woman stumbles onto the street bleeding from multiple stab wounds. Before she dies, she tells Eve to find her great grand-daughter who's trapped. She makes Eve promise to find her.

Then, while clutching Eve's hands she dies. Now all of a sudden Eve can speak Russian and Hungarian, she sees the old woman's murder as it happens, and she can see and talk to dead people.

Turns out Eve made a promise to a real life Romany Gypsy and until she finds out who killed the old woman and abducted her great grand-daughter, Eve's possessed. It's a race against time to catch an obsessed killer, hopefully before Eve's new abilities drive her insane.

This story had me roaring with laughter. It's just a short but is a great tale. The reaction of Eve's cat to the new and somewhat improved her had my side splitting. Also, when she reads a Russian saying to her partner, Delia's reaction is priceless. I got the audio version from Audible. It runs just over three hours and I am so glad I decided to buy it.

Possession In Death is available now. And you can find a complete list of all the full length novels at Nora Roberts website.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

On With The Bash

This week I have Kim Cresswell with me helping me to celebrate summer. Hi Kim and welcome to the bash!

REFLECTION:  Why a (Good) Book Cover is Important

As an author, reader, and an artsy-fartsy graphic designer type, I have to admit it...I love book covers! I particularly love romantic suspense covers.

Even though I try not to, I am guilty of judging a book by its cover. I'm sure I've passed on many fantastic stories after only reading the blurb simply because the book cover didn't convey the story inside.

In my award-winning romantic suspense, REFLECTION, reporter Whitney Steel is investigating an alleged human cloning project when she meets up with the hero, FBI Agent, Blake Neely, who's searching for his own answers. Everything from this point on focuses on Blake and Whitney discovering whether or not the villain has produced the world's first cloned human. They don't set out to fall in love. A relationship between the hero and heroine evolves because of the suspense.

How does an author and cover artist come up with a book cover that conveys both romance and   suspense?

My cover artist (Marion Sipe) began by gathering the perfect images. I loved the graphics. The DNA chain reflected the human cloning aspect of REFLECTION and the seductive image of the man and woman showed the book had a romance plot but the cover was missing something...an anchor for the suspense.


So why is a good cover so important? Because a book cover is a window into the soul of a book, an author's first chance to impress by taking the reader on a visual journey.

After:  The final version was a perfect fit for REFLECTION.

Florida investigative reporter, Whitney Steel, has lived in the shadow of her legendary father long enough. To prove herself she needs to find the “Big” story.
She found it.
Now it may kill her.
After Whitney receives a lead pointing to the world's first cloned human, now a small child, she vows to unravel the truth. However, sifting through the facts proves to have dangerous results, including death threats and murder.
When she's nearly killed, but is saved by undercover FBI Special Agent, Blake Neely, he refuses to let her get in the way of his own objective—at least not right away.
Caught in a lethal game between a billionaire obsessed with genetic perfection, his hit man’s thirst for retribution, and a Colombian drug lord fresh out of prison determined to make Blake pay for his twin brother’s death over a decade ago...
Can they save an innocent child before its too late?
Faced with tough choices, with deadly consequences for many—Whitney soon realizes that sometimes a story becomes more than just a story.

UP Authors Fiction Challenge Winner (2013) "Cinematic writing, powerful visuals, sleek, fast, utterly sexy, notches above anything we have read before!" ~ UP Authors

"Action packed from page one...an impressively laid out passionate thrill ride!" -InD'Tale Magazine
Available in paperback at Amazon & Createaspace

You can learn more about Kim and her current and upcoming releases by visiting
her web site:  http://www.kimcresswell.ca

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Summer Bash Rolls Into July

And welcome back to the summer bash. I hope you all will have a great July 4th holiday. In the meantime, my guest this week is Heather Greenis. Welcome Heather.:-)

Hi Kat - thanks for hosting me. You certainly got me thinking with your questions. I’m a ponderer and you succeeded in getting my mind going. On some blogs the silly me surfaces. You hit the more serious and thought provoking me. The me that enjoys some great conversations.

01: What is the first story you’ve published. Tell us a little bit about it.

Natasha’s Dream which launched a few days ago, June 21 is my first book. It’s the first of a four part saga. It was never my attempt to write a saga, but the story and characters continued to evolve in my mind. Suddenly, well, maybe not suddenly, knowing I spent 10+ years writing, I had a saga.

02: What inspired the story?

Initially I dreamed about the two main characters. My dream was the ending of ‘Natasha’s Dream’. I couldn’t get the characters out of my head and I began thinking about a life that would lead to events happening. I had a story.

03: Do you have a writing process? If so what is it?

I write when I feel inspired. When I have an idea. I write my thoughts and go back a million times to reword, and rewrite. This section would be much better if... I want this to happen, but for it to make sense, this should have happened back when... No wonder it took me ten years.

04: What do you currently have in the works? Give us a small preview.

My saga is keeping me busy

Natasha’s Dream has just launched

Natasha’s Diary begins the edit process this month and is due to launch in December

Natasha’s Hope is due to launch in March 2014

Natasha’s Legacy - I hope to submit it by the end of the month. With any luck, it will be accepted and launch June 2014.

My focus will be ensuring this happens.

05: Who are some of your favorite authors?

Favourite authors - I don’t really have a favourite. I enjoy a good gripping drama or a bit of suspense. I love reading novels that are based in another country. It’s an opportunity to learn a bit about other cultures. Occasionally I want something light. A comedy or something I don’t have to think about.

Currently I’m reading books by muse authors and authors I have connected with through my FB page. I’m enjoying the books by relatively unknown authors. I’m also widening my reading genre list a bit. Some I’m enjoying, others, not so much. Personal preference - I’m not writing reviews for books that simply aren’t my cup of tea. That isn’t fair to the author or their potential readers.

06: Do you have one author in particular who inspired your writing career? Who and why?

Not really

07: Are your stories based on real events or people?

My story isn’t, but different events in their lives are. As my husband read my book he would comment, “I remember that happening’, or ‘I remember that conversation’ You never know.

08: How much research goes into your work?

I do a fair bit of research. The Natasha series has two story lines. One is modern, the other is not. Technology is mentioned, but can’t be discussed before it was invented. I messed up with one piece that Nancy my editor caught. I had the characters using a gramophone to play records. It was invented, but the quality sucked when I was using it. It hadn’t been tweaked enough. Oooops. Needing music, a few sections were edited to have characters humming or singing. Clothing is big. What was fashionable?

Common terms were also interesting. I had a good cyber discussion with Nancy to keep one. My main characters are avid readers of novels and poetry. If they weren’t, the word couldn’t be used. Now I have your curiosity, haven’t I.

Never say never, but I don’t plan another book that steps back in time although I enjoyed writing the entire series. It’s my baby.

09: Have you ever killed off a character based on someone real? If so why?

Not yet, but you never know. Never piss off an author.

10: If you could visit any period in history, what time would you go to? Why?

Probably the 60s. People were standing up for causes they believed in. They were working together even though most of them were stoned. (considering I was never tempted by the drug scene, I doubt I would have jumped in with both feet if I had been around, but I would have been active with the cause) It was a time with less wide spread greed. Less me, me, me. There was more personal interaction. Today, we blame it on being busy. It’s convenient to email, and text. I’m terrible, I email before I pick up the telephone because the people I want to talk to are busy. My parents are the exception. I phone them.

Even in the world of publishing, I’ve never spoken to the Lea, my editors Nancy & Teale or my cover artist, Marion. I would not recognize the sound of their voice if I heard them from across the room. All communication has been cyber. Technology is a wonderful thing, and we complain when we’re without out, but...

11: If you could gather any three people in the world, living or dead together, whom would you want to meet and talk with?

Three amazing leaders

Mahatma Gandhi - he is described as a spiritual/political leader and humanitarian. He made some mistakes, but he fought for the people. I admire his compassion, his will and his perseverance.

Jesus - a blue collar working man whose goal was to help the people - need I say more.

I would take Mother Teresa.

President Obama - Another man with a huge heart, full of compassion, not greed. I wish he was Canadian and could run this country. Canada would soar under his leadership. I admire him and his wife Michelle.

It would be an amazing conversation with some laughter. Three of us have a sense of humour although you’re not seeing mine in this particular conversation. You have me thinking and pondering.

Notice I did not mention our own so called leader. Thanks but no thanks. He isn’t known for listening or too much of anything else.

I’m in trouble if you’re a fan of republican. No interest sitting with anyone from that party, but I would love to sit with Bill Clinton and or Al Gore. Obama, Clinton and Gore. I’d just sit back and listen, taking it all in. Once I got past being intimidated, if I got past being intimidated, I’d be in my glory.

12: What do you do for fun when you aren’t busy writing?

Fun! In the summer I garden, putter in my gardens. Seeing the weeds, I should be attacking my gardens with vengeance. I learned how to golf this spring so perhaps we’ll take the clubs out once or twice.

I’m involved with the charity “The Healing Cycle” raising funds for Hospice Palliative care. My best friend died a few years ago and raved about the care she received. I’m fundraising in Patti’s memory. Our big event takes places two days after I launch. I’ll be busy that weekend. I plan to start volunteering with our local hospice once this series has a manageable schedule.

During the winter months, I curl. The club is active October through April. I manage the junior league (4 coaches teaching 30 kids ages 6-16) with two hour lessons once a week. I play 2 to 3 times a week, with different teams. One night is competitive. My husband is also a curler which is wonderful even though we play on different teams. A social sport, there is a lot of laughter on the ice. I love it!

In between, we love to travel. Meeting people, exploring places, investigating things. Life is never dull. I wouldn’t want it to be.

13: What is the one thing people believe about writers that upsets you?

A little too early for that question. Ask me again in a year or two... or five. I don’t have enough experience to give a knowledgeable answer

I’ll turn that one back on you!

14: Is there any genre you haven’t written that you’d like to try your hand at?

Where to begin!! - Someday, I’d like to write a comedy. The Natasha series had comical lines to lighten a scene, but it’s a drama. With any luck, it will bring a tear or two to your eye.

I’d like to try a kids book. Not young adult, but kids picture book. Something Mommy Daddy or whoever can read to them at bedtime.

I’d love to work with someone and co-write a book. Something creepy. I don’t read this genre, nor do I plan to. I don’t need inspired to get bad dreams. I have ideas but need help to get them on paper. I wouldn’t know where to begin writing this.

15: If you were independently wealthy what is the one place on Earth you’d most like to visit? Why?

India, Africa, even Northern Canada. It breaks my heart knowing there is so much humanitarian work that needs done. So much suffering in the world. I’d like to be known for making a difference. I was put on this earth for a reason, I’m not getting any younger, and I haven’t scratched the surface. The best is yet to come, I hope.

16: What is your favorite color? Hum- I think that depends on my mood and where I am.

17: What is your favorite food? Chocolate - dark chocolate, but not bitter. Yummy!

18: What is your favorite movie? - Sound of Music. Here I go back to the sixties again. I’m too young for this.

19: What is your favorite TV show? Last year I would have said ‘Flashpoint’ but they took if on the air, the rotten poops. Not impressed.

Doc Zone’ although my answer will probably be different a year from now. Flavour of the month. A program that makes me think. It’s weekly themes are all over the map.

20: What is your favorite holiday? Christmas - life doesn’t interfere at Christmas. Family gets together and that’s important, especially with nieces and nephews getting older. We stopped exchanging gifts and give donations to the receivers choice of charity. Obviously, money intended for this household goes to the Healing Cycle. It feels good knowing we are helping other, hoping giving someone out there a reason to smile, someone like Patti.

Natasha’s Dream - June 21, 2013

Natasha' s Diary - December 2013

Natasha's Hope - March 2014

Natasha's Legacy - submitted...


the link