Jeanne: Interview with Kimberly Beckett

LionelsLeapofFaith_505x825Kimberly is a friend of mine from Central Ohio Fiction Writers, my local RWA chapter. Her author story is one many of us would envy. She wrote her first book back in 2017, pitched it to Deb Gilbert from Soulmate when Deb spoke at a chapter event in early 2018, and received a request for a full manuscript, which was accepted.

Her series, Horses Heal Hearts, are set in various aspects of the horse world. The first, Dressage Dreaming, features a member of the British Olympic dressage team who gets a second chance when a black stallion named Tempest enters his life. The second features a former British special forces officer who works to spoil an attempt to fix the Triple Crown Race. I’ll let her tell you about the third one herself.

Question 1:  I love the cover of your newest book! Tell us a little bit about it.

My newest book is the third book in my Horses Heal Hearts series, Lionel’s Leap of Faith.  Lionel Hayes was first introduced to readers in Dressage Dreaming.  Lionel’s Leap of Faith is a novella and an M/M second chance at love story with one open door love scene and   takes place in the world of international show jumping. Continue reading

Jeanne: Interview with Janet Irvin

healyjerry_bobbleheadEight Ladies Writing is mostly about romance, but sometimes it’s nice to add a touch of mystery, so today we’ll be talking with Janet Irvin, a mystery writer I met through my local writing community. Back in 2015, her debut novel, The Dark End of the Rainbow (great title!) won the inaugural Jeremiah Healy award, aka the Jerry, for best mystery manuscript. The prize, presented at the Mystery Writers Key West Fest, included a contract with Absolutely Amazing eBooks, free entry to Key West Fest, including airfare and hotel (!), and a bobble-head Jerry trophy. How stinkin’ cute is that? Way more fun than a Golden Heart necklace.

Her newest book, The Strange Disappearance of Rose Stone, was released in September, 2019.

Question 1: Tell us a little bit about your newest book.

Rose Stone coverThe Strange Disappearance of Rose Stone began as a series of connected short stories about siblings Peter and Rose Stone. Inspired by Kahlil Gibran’s poem “On Children,” the stories followed Peter and Rose through their troubled childhood. Once completed, I gave them to an agent, who kept them for a year, said no one was interested, and returned them. I turned to other projects, but the characters refused to go away. So, I rethought the concept, weaving the original stories in with what my instinct determined was their current situation. The main idea of the book evolved into this: Ten days after his sister disappears, Peter receives a note from Rose and a package containing their most treasured childhood possession. Now he must revisit the landscape of that traumatic childhood in search of clues that will help him solve the mystery of her vanishing. At the same time, he and his wife Kelly are struggling with infertility issues, and his detective partner has woman troubles of his own. Yet they work together to anchor Peter as he confronts the ghosts of his past and the ones still to be revealed.

Question 2:  Your first book, The Dark End of the Rainbow, won the 2015 Jeremiah Healy Mystery Award. Tell us about that experience.

The Dark End of the Rainbow coverIn the spring of 2015, I received an unsolicited announcement in my inbox about a contest based on the first three pages of a manuscript. I sent off the first three pages of both The Dark End and The Rules of the Game, my second novel, and promptly forgot I had done so. Meanwhile, I continued to polish The Dark End and took it to the Antioch Writers Workshop, where I pitched it to an agent. She asked for the full manuscript. A week later I received a new email saying I was a finalist in the competition named after Mr. Healy, who had recently passed away. At the same time, I was scheduled to undergo a brain surgery to correct my hemifacial spasms. The conference awarding the prize wanted all finalists to be there. I called to tell them my family wouldn’t let me fly a mere four days after surgery. We arranged for a Skype connection so I could watch the presentation. I planned to sit in my robe and slippers when my husband said, “You might have won. You better get dressed.” I did, and when they made the announcement, I was absolutely astonished, amazed, and humbled. Later, the contest sponsors told me both my submissions had made it to the top ten. The agent replied to my follow-up emails, but never made an offer.

Question 3: You have a developmentally disabled son. As you may know, my brother is also developmentally disabled. Growing up with a sibling who was intellectually challenged had a profound impact on my life. My mother used to say that whatever my other siblings and I know about empathy we learned from Lynnie and I think she may be right. What kinds of impacts did your son’s challenges have on your family?

Our son Scott’s disability was profound. He never advanced beyond the three-month Rules cover 1400ppilevel. After four years of in-home care, the toll on our family was severe. Having a handicapped child constrains your activities. Since I refused to consent to a feeding tube, his meals took longer and longer to complete. As he grew, it became more difficult to move him. His therapy, although never successful, involved daily visits to a center and the recruiting of many volunteers. Our older daughter started school. Then I became pregnant again. The social worker who counseled us suggested we place Scottie in a facility and, with great reluctance and many tears, we did so. Because of our son, my daughters developed a deep and compassionate understanding of what it means to be blessed. None of us takes for granted the gifts we enjoy: the ability to move on our own, to speak, to swallow, to interact with others. Scott passed away at the age of 19 from a difficult surgery. The sadness and the longing for him never goes away, but we have gone on to honor him as best we can by doing good things.  I agree with you, Jeanne, that these angels teach us many lessons, empathy being one of the most important of all.

 

Janet Irvin

 

J.E. Irvin is a career educator and an award-winning writer. Her stories have appeared in a variety of print and on-line publications, including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, The Zodiac Review and SPARK a creative anthology. She lives on the edge of a nature park, where sightings of deer and serenades by coyotes enrich her creative life. She and her husband are avid canoeists, spending as much time as money permits paddling the waters of the Northwoods. A favorite quote by Kahlil Gibran serves to focus the direction of her life and her work: “We live to discover beauty; all else is a form of waiting.”

You can read her very nice blog at www.janetirvin.com (I’m her guest feature for November!) and you can find her books on Amazon.

 

Jeanne: Interview with Barbra Campbell

LMB - Moonflower CoverBarbra Campbell is a Persister–one of the amazing women who were finalists for the 2018 RWA® Golden Heart® award for unpublished romance. Since then, Barbra has gone on to publish 20 steamy romance novellas. Today, we’re going to talk to her about her most recent effort.

Question 1: Tell us about your book.

Leave Me Breathless: Moonflower Collection contains 8 steamy romances by 8 different authors for the amazing price of 99 cents for a limited time! The stories each contain an element of ‘dreaming of love’ and everyone knows that can take many forms. But hey, it’s a romance, so you don’t have to worry about the ending…only the journey.

My story, Becoming Her World, follows a couple who had a wild night of sex, and some great follow up, but Connor lives out of town and is elusive about his personal life. When he’s gone, Samantha finds out she’s pregnant but miscarries before she tells him. Continue reading

Jeanne: Anatomy of a Killer Debut—An Interview with Suzanne Tierney

Scandal6_RGB301Today I’m talking with Suzanne Tierney, who released her debut novel, The Art of the Scandal, on August 28th to great Day 1 sales–she ended the day in first place in Jewish Literature, in 16th in Classic Romance Fiction and 28th in British Historical Literature! And broke the top 5000 in Kindle Paid Sales.

That’s partly because it’s a great story. The Art of the Scandal provides a fascinating glimpse into the efforts required to seat the first Jewish Member of Parliament,. It also include intriguing tidbits on how counterfeited paintings are discovered and the romance between Simon Cohen and Lady Lydia, the quintessential English rose, is both challenging and ultimately satisfying.

But a lot of great books get released on Amazon every year and very few make it to number one in their category. Since a lot of 8LW readers are also writers who do or plan to publish, I thought it might be useful to find out more about the approach Suzanne took to achieve her great debut.

Question 1: I know you originally had a contract with a small press. What made you decide to go indie instead? Continue reading

Michille: Romance and Natural Disasters

Dark and StormyWith Dorian soon to become a memory and already leaving a staggeringly colossal disaster area behind in the Bahamas, I looked at disasters in romance novels. I read one recently that was set in a flood (freebie from RWA Nationals in a previous year), but I got really annoyed with the author because the hero and heroine kept standing around in floodwater while the rain was pounding down, discussing their history, wondering where his brother was and if her sister stayed at work, sharing scorching kisses and wishing for a bed. I’m not thinking that the folks going through Dorian were standing waist deep in floodwater reminiscing about a high school football game that took place 10 years ago. The memory of that book and the coverage of Dorian led my brain down the path of how an author could set a romance in a natural disaster and do justice to mother nature, the devastation and tragedy, and the romance without minimizing or horrorizing (is that a word?) the tragedy or the reader. As in, people are dying and these two idiots just want to do the horizontal tango. Continue reading

Nancy: On Book Clubs, Best-Selling Fiction, and Career Advice You Might Need to Ignore

Over the past 10 or so years, I’ve tried to get on the book club train three different times. Each time, I left the group after only one meeting. That choice wasn’t because I took issue with the people (they are readers, and therefore inherently lovely😊), their passion for the books, or even the wine. It was because I, as a writer, read so differently than non-writers that I was looking for things in a book discussion that the other members wouldn’t find interesting. Ergo, I had nothing to bring to the book club party (other than the wine, which is important! but not really the point).

The real problem I and many other writers have in joining book clubs is that we’re not looking for book discussions at all. We’re looking for book dissections. Writing craft deep-dives. Story geek deconstructions.

That’s why I’m so glad I agreed to join an online book club with one of my writing tribes. We are all long-time writers, with multiple years and manuscripts-worth of experience. Most of us either are or are in training to become book coaches who work with other writers on a regular and ongoing basis. That training has given us a common language and shared tools we use to evaluate writing. Last week, we had a one-hour online video chat to discuss our first group book, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Our discussion was wonky and geeky and made my little writer heart sing with joy.

Interestingly, though, when I found myself thinking about the book and our discussion in the days that followed, it was usually in the context of current writing career advice and “truths”, how Delia Owens ignored (intentionally or otherwise) much of it, and how none of it is applicable if it isn’t relevant to you and your process. Continue reading

Michille: What Did You Read Thursday?

stack of booksI am jumping on Elizabeth’s reading bandwagon, but looking at it from several angles. I understand that writers need to read, but I often see my reading time as procrastination of my writing time. I’ve also found some new authors I’d like to read, some have been on my list for a while because I found them charming at a writers’ conference, and some because they were repeatedly recommended. Re-reading Jennifer Crusie (several of her stories) and Loretta Chase have joined the list because aspects of their writing came up that I want to go back and review (reading like a writer). I’ve also added some nonfiction to my list. Continue reading