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I’m talking to Jo Lambertwriter today, grab a cuppa and come and join us. https://jolambertwriter.blog/2018/02/13/today-tuesday-talk-welcomes-suzan-collins-discussing-the-inspiration-behind-the-chatty-cat-series-and-her-latest-writing-project/

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Welcome, Regina Clarke…

Regina Clarke

Can you tell me a little about yourself? (inc if you use a pen name and why)

I was born in England and grew up in the U.S. That English connection has always been strong, though, for both sets of grandparents were born in England. I once traced my paternal name back to a time before 1066. It was spelled “clerc” and of course derived in Old English from various monks who were allowed to marry (or the name would have entered the mists of obscurity). I also found a Reginald Clerc, noted in the Curia Regis Rolls of Rutland (1205). After that, I knew I had to keep my own name no matter what. My ancestors had to be honored!

What is the title and genre of your book?

I’ve written a number of books and short stories, but selected The Magic Hour, a mystery/fantasy, for this interview.

How did you come up with the story?

Three powerful things influenced my writing it:

On the back cover description I say this: “Before full night comes, when the air is indigo and objects less distinct, time and space can shift. This is the magic hour, and it reveals what is usually hidden.” I had always wanted to tell a story that took place in that interval. The desire to do that just wouldn’t let go.

Then about four months before I started the book, or even thought of starting it, I had come over to the U.K. and spent some days in the month of September in Glastonbury, visiting ancient monoliths and barrows (and having divine cream teas). The room I had was on Silver Street and I was on the top floor of this old house, and the view was over the wall into the Glastonbury Abbey ruins. Talk about a perfect place to be. There was often mist rising over the stones.

I am also a fanatical reader of mysteries, so I wanted to write a book that had a mystery to solve.

Those three elements all merged for me in this book. It began one day, all of a sudden. I hadn’t planned such a book at all. I was working in corporate at the time (alas) but instead of attending to a technical writing doc, I wrote the first paragraph of the novel. I remember looking at it on my computer and wondering what on earth that was about. Four months later the first draft was done. While I took the book through a lot of revisions, that first paragraph has never changed.

Oh, there was another aspect that influenced me. I was very familiar with the visual effects of migraines. I had studied them for a nonfiction paper and then got mesmerized by descriptions of the visual effects as given by Dr. Oliver Sacks and the brilliant Hildegard of Bingen on both migraines and hallucinations. I knew about TLE, temporal lobe epilepsy, as a result, as well. So these figured as a catalyst to explain why the detective was having visions of another world off and on while pursuing his real-life case in a small town in the Pacific northwest. Like the magic hour—which part is real was the question.

It has a lovely cover, did you have any say in what you wanted the cover to be?

Regina Clarke book cover

Thank you! That was a joy to create. I have a wonderful digital artist doing covers for me now, but at that time I was on my own, though I had an excellent (and free) PaintShop clone I used, and still use. I’d received a Twitter message from a psychologist friend in Toronto and her background image for her profile was this small section of lovely stars in an indigo sky—just the smallest piece—but I loved it. She had no idea where she’d grabbed it from. Eventually, making Google searches relentlessly, I found the original image. It was taken by a photographer, who I credit in the book.

All I did was compress and alter the image to match the Kindle version specs and add my title and name. Choosing a titling font only took fifteen tries before I got it right… J When I created the back cover for the paperback it was a harder, because I did not understand about spines, etc., so that took awhile. But when it was done I was very happy with it—it gave the feeling I wanted of that magic interval of indigo twilight.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

I offer the one writers are always given—write every day, preferably at the same time of day. But if that cannot happen, at the very least write something before the day is done. Make it a kind of mantra to do that.

What is your writing routine?

When I was in corporate it was nights and weekends or at lunchtime in the car. But as soon as I had time free I settled into a schedule that is so fixed that when I don’t do it I feel bereft! It is always in the morning—between two and three hours. I’ll do other writing, for my blog or my newsletter or a guest post, etc., in the afternoon or evening.

I think maybe the most important part of all is not even to look at news or social media until you’ve put in your writing time. I didn’t always follow that and would end up engaged in correspondence or researching an article I’d read or almost anything that drew my attention—like one of those people who surf channels on a television set, or an insect checking out the next flower source, only at least insects are following a purpose! I do a lot of research voluntarily or on assignment and have an insatiable appetite for information and the unknown, so left to undisciplined devices, I might not attend to doing what I wanted to do most. I had to absolutely stop it all and just write in the morning time. No distractions.

Do you have an editing process?

I love editing. It is as creative as writing but in a whole different way. It is a feeling of honing and settling and shaping—the actual writing gets the right brain dreaming down, and the editing activates the critical faculty. It is the whole process that brings the book into being.

Of course, indie publishing is the best of inventions! I get to use my inspired self and my critical self to design or approve covers, to learn new methods of production, to explore audience reactions and connect with other writers, artists, and production people.

That said, it is also quite grand that now the self-publishing field has drawn in people so skilled at marketing and promotion. I follow a number them or listen and watch their webinars—these people, the good ones, are professionals who know how to help us find our audience. They also offer a tremendous amount of information free as well as paid—of their skill, wisdom, and help. I am very much indebted to them.

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

Writing is always, always good, even when it isn’t developing the way I think it ought to at any given time. It’s a world I love to enter. A welcome immersion.

It wouldn’t bother me at all if someone else took care of everyday tasks like shopping and cleaning—I am perfectly capable of spending an entire day writing and editing when in fact there is dusting and cooking and tidying that are waiting on me that simply get forgotten…! This would also open up time for me to create excerpted audio readings on my website for each book, as I want to do. I even bought basic equipment and downloaded Audacity to edit the audios. I then created a page for it on my website, which so far shows only a list of book titles! The audios require blocks of time in the afternoon that are not readily available. I could do it at night but my voice skills are very likely to flag.

Where can people find you on the internet?

My website is at www.regina-clarke.com and I welcome visitors indeed. My Blog at that site is nonfiction, with the emphasis on inspirational posts. BTW, I would be keen to have people write guests posts there on similar themes, as well.

My Amazon Author page is here:

https://www.amazon.com/Regina-Clarke/e/B001K8IWBU

The following sites are good ways to reach me. I am also on Goodreads, though not involved with that site except occasionally.

https://www.facebook.com/ReginaClarkeAuthor/

https://www.pinterest.com/reginac7/boards/

http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/regina-clarke.html

https://www.allianceindependentauthors.org/members/

https://twitter.com/ReginaClarke1

http://linkedin.com/pub/regina-clarke/10/688/82

Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

One thing that is invaluable to receive is feedback. If readers (and other writers) send feedback in emails or in reviews to authors they have read, it is always beneficial. I try for my part to do it for books I have enjoyed. It matters for writers to get other perspectives and impressions.

I would also extend great thanks to you, Suzan, for this gracious interview!

You’re welcome, Regina.

 

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Welcome, Mandy Baggot…

Mandy B pic

Can I offer you a drink? Tea? Wine?

Perhaps a tea first and then we can move onto wine!

*Hands tea to Mandy* 

Cup of tea at Coconut Loft1

Can you tell me a little about yourself? (inc if you use a pen name and why)

I’m Mandy Baggot and I’m a bestselling romantic novelist of – currently – 14 novels. Mandy Baggot is my real name. I did think about writing under another name when I started to write more romantic comedy than anything else, but one Google search told me there was so much information on Mandy Baggot it would be foolish to work against that with a new name.

What is the title and genre of your book?

My latest book is called Single for the Summer and it’s a romantic comedy set on the Greek island of Corfu. Perfect summer reading for your suitcase… or garden at home.

How did you come up with the story?

Ha! It came quite easily really. I wanted to tell the story of someone who’s a serial dater but doesn’t want a boyfriend. Sound weird? Well Tess has been hurt badly so dinner dates and theatre trips she can do, but there is absolutely no commitment. Add in her broken-hearted best friend who says they must remain completely single for the Summer and Tess has a real problem… particularly when she meets gorgeous Greek, Andras.

 It has a lovely cover, did you have any say in what you wanted the cover to be?

Yes. Ebury very much wanted to keep the style of my previous Greek-set books with the large title and they chose me the most amazing designer – Adrian Valencia. I am a real admirer of his work so I knew it was going to be special. It’s completely summery and Greek and gives the perfect flavour for the story.

Mandy Bs book~Single for the Summer

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Write that book! Don’t think too long and hard about planning, just get the words down on the page – you can tinker later. Think about what YOU want to write. Fall in love with your characters, because if you’re not in love with them chances are no one will be.

What is your writing routine?

I generally write when my children are at school every day. But I often work evenings and weekends too depending on deadlines. I am currently writing two books a year so there is quite a quick turnaround!

Do you have an editing process?

I generally write the entire book and then I do one or two read-throughs where I might add in certain details I’ve missed or add more setting etc. Then the book goes to my agent for reading and then on to my editor. After that it goes to copy and line edits with me getting it back in between each time. I always do a final read through on my Kindle to spot any oddities!

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

I enjoy making characters that people seem to resonate with. I write, I hope, real life, as well as summery fantasy where you know a happy ending is guaranteed. When readers connect with me and tell me how much they loved my book and how they have been through the same dilemmas as I’ve written it means a great deal.

There isn’t anything I don’t like apart from there are never enough hours in the day!

Where can people find you on the internet?

I am all over the place! Here are some ways to find out more and get in touch!

www.mandybaggot.com

https://www.facebook.com/mandybaggotauthor/

https://twitter.com/mandybaggot

https://www.instagram.com/mandybaggot/

Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

I am extremely excited that Single for the Summer will be going in to W H Smith Travel, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco from 27 July. There will be a competition for photos shared of the book on shelves! Keep checking my social media channels!

 Mandy Bs book covers

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_13?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=mandy+baggott&sprefix=mandy+baggott%2Cstripbooks%2C149&crid=3L7T6ZXLOSJ35

Thank you for a lovely interview, Suzan.

You’re welcome and thank you for taking time out to tell us about your fabulous new book. I’ve got my evening sorted. 

Presecco   Mandy Bs book~Single for the Summer

 

 

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Welcome, Heidi Swain…

Heidi Swain head and shoulders~black and white

Thank you for inviting me to visit Suzan. I’m delighted to be here.

Can I offer you a drink? Tea? Wine?

I’d love a cup of tea please. Milk and one, not too heaped, sugar. Thank you.

*Hands tea to Heidi*

Cup of tea at Coconut Loft1

Can you tell me a little about yourself? (inc if you use a pen name and why)

My name is Heidi Swain. I am an author who writes commercial fiction for Simon and Schuster and my agent is Amanda Preston from LBA. I live, with my family and our rescue cat called Storm, in a village a few miles south of Norwich.

I don’t have a pen name because I would find it all far too confusing.

What is the title and genre of your book?

My current release, which was published on July 13th is called Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage. It is the fourth book I have written set in and around the fictitious town of Wynbridge in East Anglia and it is commercial women’s fiction. Although I’m not too sure how I feel about the ‘women’s’ tag as my other half is an HGV driver and his colleagues enjoy my books. And they are very manly!

Heidi Swain~cover forComing Hme to Cuckoo Cottage

Do you write in first or third person? Please explain why

All of my books are written in the first person but my short stories are third. I never made a conscious decision to work that way. It just kind of happened, however, I do like writing in the first person because you really get right inside a character and find out what makes them tick.

How did you come up with the story?

The story of Cuckoo Cottage came to me when I was writing Mince Pies and Mistletoe at The Christmas Market (my Christmas 2016 release). There was a fabulous character called Gwen who was demanding her share of the limelight. She was completely eccentric and lived in a pretty cottage on the outskirts of Wynbridge. I knew straightaway that her home needed investigating and then along came Lottie Foster.

It has a lovely cover, did you have any say in what you wanted the cover to be?

Thank you. My daughter tells me it is her favourite so far but I find it impossible to pick one as I love them all. However, the Christmas 2017 cover is stunning…

With regards to the cover creation process, my editor, Emma Capron, and I have a quick chat about what we think the focus should be and then the ideas are sent off to Pip Watkins in the art department. So far she has struck gold every time and I can’t imagine that is going to change. She’s hugely talented and knows exactly what we want to achieve.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

I’m asked this a lot now and I always come back to the same thing – don’t think, just write. If you have a story you want to tell just blooming well get on and write it! If we all waited for the perfect time, the idyllic writing room and the endless hours of free time, we’d never write a word. Stop procrastinating and get the words down and remember, the world won’t stop turning if you make a mistake. Every word you write is a learning curve but you have to take those first steps to climb it.

That sounds a bit ranty. Sorry. I feel very passionate about this!

What is your writing routine?

This has had a bit of a shake-up recently, and is still evolving as I’m now writing full-time (yay) and determined not to get stuck in a rut, sitting for endless hours and having no social life or fresh air.

I still like to get up early and, weather pending, begin the day with a walk rather than words. If I can manage 25 mins pounding the pavements I won’t feel so guilty about sitting and working on the WIP until lunchtime and occasionally beyond, depending on how the words are flowing.

Afternoons are generally kept for answering emails, writing blog posts and interviews.

However, I’ve discovered that us authors never really switch off, do we? Even when we’re ironing, hoovering or scrubbing the bath, our brains are still untangling plot problems and dreaming up new settings.

Do you have an editing process?

When I’ve completed a first draft, I like to leave it alone for a few days before having a read through and a tinker and then it goes off to my editor. Once she has returned it I’ll work through her notes and suggestions and work on it again. And again if necessary, although so far so good. Next come the proof pages and the finishing touches and voila! A book is born.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Don’t be fooled. I’ve left out the bits about months of obsessing and the crucial error of getting sucked into editing as you go along…

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

Most – creating a character that resonates with readers and coming up with settings that people would actually want to live in. I readily admit that I would be quite happy living the lives of all my leading ladies!

Least – the sleepless nights spent worrying that my lovely readers won’t like the next story and those (thankfully infrequent) scathing reviews that feel like a blow to the stomach and stick with you far longer than they should.

Where can people find you on the internet?

I’m all over the internet. I adore social media!

Website: http://www.heidiswain.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Heidi_Swain

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WriterHeidiJoSwain?ref=hl

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heidi-Swain/e/B00YNN3LDI/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1483439180&sr=8-2-ent

Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

A massive hug if I may? And an even bigger thank you for being so hugely supportive and giving me the confidence to carry on!

You are appearing at the East Anglian Festival of Culture in the Ambassador Room in the Hatfield Hotel in Lowestoft on Saturday 9th September.

I’m really looking forward to this! It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet some fellow local authors and hopefully some new readers. I’m thrilled to have been invited.

Will you be reading one of your fabulous books or talking about becoming a fulltime writer?

I’m planning to read from Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage but am more than happy to talk about becoming a full time author as well. I could chat about all things bookish until the cows come home!

Thank you for a lovely interview.

You’re welcome and thank you for taking time out to tell us about your fabulous new book. I’ve got my evening sorted. Can’t decide on chocolate or chocolate with strawberries…

Presecco Chocolate Strawberries and chocolate  Heidi Swain~cover forComing Hme to Cuckoo Cottage

 

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Welcome, Jean Gill…

jean sm~head and shoulders 

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

After a career teaching English, and writing when I could find the time, I wanted to write full-time. I now live in Dieulefit, a small village in Provence, where we moved from Wales in 2003 after my husband retired (and is the subject of my memoir How Blue is My Valley). My claim to fame is that I was the first woman to be a secondary Headteacher in the Welsh county of Carmarthenshire.

From 2008, I also worked as a photographer. Life brings surprises if you’re open to adventures, so I learned dog-training with top international Michel Hasbrouck, and then, two years ago, I trained as a beekeeper. Which means I live with a Nikon D750, two scruffy dogs, a couple of beehives and a man. We also have five children between us so life has been pretty hectic.

What is the title and genre of your book?

Song at Dawn is Book 1of The Troubadours Quartet, historical fiction set in 1150 Provence.

Jean sm Song eBook cover

How did you come up with the story?

I was reading books about the troubadours, who lived and worked in this very region where I now live, and I came across the sentence, ‘Rumour says there was a female troubadour touring the south of France with a large white dog.’ How could I not write that book? Poetry, a feisty woman and a big white dog! I could see Estela in a ditch, on the run, and the Great Pyrenees at her side, and that’s how the story begins.

It has a lovely cover, did you have any say in what you wanted the cover to be?

Thank you and all credit to my amazing designer Jessica Bell http://www.jessicabellauthor.com/book-cover-design-services.html  Yes, that’s one of the things I love about Indie publishing – never again will feel disappointed at seeing the cover a publisher has chosen!

Designing The Troubadours covers was the first time Jessica and I worked together but she understood straight away that I wanted a branded look for all my books, a series look for The Troubadours (three were already written) and finally the individual cover. An impossible task with 18 published books, of different genres, but she pulled it off!

Jean ms troubadours no text

Jessica is free to choose any of my photos if she wants and, for Song at Dawn, the dog on the cover is one of my own Great Pyrenees, Bételgeuse. The 12th century fortified village is also my photo, of Poët-Laval, a 12th century stronghold of the Knights Templar, right next door to me.

I wondered if we’d made a mistake having fantasy adventure vibes rather than a straight ‘authentic history’ medieval tapestry-type cover, given that the period detail is as accurate as a year’s research can make it, but when a reviewer said the book’s ‘like GOT but with real history’ I thought, ‘Yes! We got the covers right.’

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Believe in your own work. If you don’t, why should anyone else? And I’m a big fan of the approach; ‘Don’t get it right, get it written,’ with the P.S. ‘THEN redraft as often as it takes to get it right!’

What is your writing routine?

I’m a morning person, writing either at my desk in a corner of the living-room, where I can look at the garden and listen to Metallica or troubadour music, or outdoors with my laptop. I write about 1,000 words in one session and I try to always stop at a point when I know what comes next. I’m sure that’s why I never get writer’s block (touch wood!)

Do you have an editing process?

I really hate editing but nobody else can make my choices for me, even though I have a great professional editor. I write the book first, only looking back to check details or re-arrange parts and insert foreshadowing. When I finish (hooray moment!) I re-read and edit the whole book (ouch moment!). Then I let my husband read it; he has the knack of picking out a wrong note or something that just doesn’t work. Then my close group of writer-friends read it and feed back. Their feedback is essential and I call them alpha readers because beta readers is demeaning to such top quality writers. Then I consider all the suggestions, make my changes and send the typescript off to my editor for the final polish. She too will make suggestions on content so the pain is still possible.

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

Editing!

Where can people find you on the internet?

 Everywhere! 😊

Song at Dawn, Book 1 of the award-winning Troubadours Quartet is available free to subscribers who sign up to Jean’s newsletter here http://eepurl.com/AGvy5

Contact jean.gill@wanadoo.fr

IPPY Award for Best Author Website www.jeangill.com

Blog www.jeangill.blogspot.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/writerjeangill

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/writerjeangill

The Troubadours Page https://www.facebook.com/jeangilltroubadours

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4619468.Jean_Gill

Watch the book trailers on youtube https://www.youtube.com/user/beteljean

Jean sm twitter banner 2016

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East Coast author event poster

 

 

A lovely day was had at The Loddon Swan Hotel last Saturday (25th Feb) where I joined some lovely authors to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

 

 

 

East Coast author event~Sandra Delf reading1

Sandra Delf

East Coast author event~Helen reading

Elizabeth Manning-Ives

East Coast author event ~ just starting

Enid Thwaites and Sandra Forder on the left

East Coast author event~Get Writing stall

East Coast author event ~Darren and Aisha 2017

Darren Barker and Aisha Khalaf

Me at the East Coast Author event at The Loddon Swan 25th Feb 2017

Suzan Collins

East Coast author event ~Cath Pickles and Worzel    East Coast author event~Worzel

Cath Pickles and Worzel

Thank you to the authors for giving their time and to The Loddon Swan for hosting us and looking after us. Thank you.

 

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Delighted to have been interviewed by Richard Hardie and you can read here what has kept me so busy http://richardhardies.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/suzan-collins-deja-vu.html#comment-form

 

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