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
The Demon Always Wins (image via Amazon)
Today marks a red letter day for us: not only is our blog celebrating five years of existence, but one of our Ladies is publishing her first book today. Jeanne Oates Estridge started The Demon Always Wins in May 2012 in response to the popular Twilight series.
I got to read an early version of it in the McDaniel course for romance writing during the 2012 school year, but lots of people have seen the book in progress. Jeanne mentions her long-time critique group, as well as a group of writers known as The Cool Kids that she met at the Midwest Writers Workshop, members of a one-day workshop in Indianapolis with Lucrecia Guerrero, several of the Eight Ladies and a handful of beta readers. Whew! It takes a village, doesn’t it?
The book was a finalist in all of the five contests Jeanne entered it in, and won the 2015 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart award in the paranormal romance category with an earlier incarnation called Demons Don’t. The sequel, The Demon’s in the Details, was also a finalist in the 2018 paranormal romance category of the Golden Heart. Another version of The Demon Always Wins won first place in the paranormal/SF/fantasy category of the 2015 Diamonds in the Desert contest under the name of Demon’s Wager.
Having read the latest version, I can tell you the book has evolved from good to great over the years – the words are different, but they stay true to the underlying story. But enough from me. Let’s ask Jeanne a few questions!
8LW: We did the McDaniel course for romance writing together in 2012-2013, instructed by best-selling romance writer Jennifer Crusie. What lesson from the class had the most impact on your final book? Continue reading
I first met Ellen through my 2015 RWA® Golden Heart® class, the Dragonflies.
Even before we met in person, it became apparent that we had some things in common. Ellen resides in Minnesota, where I lived for three years back in the 90’s. We both love to travel. And we both love flowers.
The day I posted a picture on Facebook of a water plant I was having trouble identifying and Ellen hopped on to say it was bladderwort, our friendship blossomed. Then, in February of this year, our mutual friend and Dragonfly Tracy Brody, hosted a writers’ retreat on Kiawah Island, off the coast of South Carolina, and we got to spend a week writing, taking long walks on the beach, sharing meals and swapping brainstorming ideas.
Enough reminiscing. On with the questions!
Question 1: I love the idea of a set during WWII. Tell us a little bit about A Girl Divided, which becomes available today on Amazon.
Hi, Jeanne! First, I’d like to thank you for this chance to talk about my debut book. I’m super excited to talk about my story, which is both like and yet unlike other WWII romantic fiction books currently out there, and is receiving very good advance reviews. One thing readers will note right away is that my heroine, Eugenia Baker, never sets foot in Europe. This was a deliberate choice on my part because the war truly was a global conflict, and affected so many other parts of the world, including China, Burma, India, and South Africa – all places that Genie travels through on her journey to the U.S. Continue reading
Diana and I met back in 2015, when we were both finalists for RWA’s® Golden Heart® award for unpublished romance fiction. Last summer, I got to sit beside her at our annual meet-up and was thrilled to learn she’d received a three-book contract from Sourcebooks.
Question 1: Your debut novel, I Am Justice, releases on May 1st. (squee!) Tell us about it.
The novel is about a secret group of female vigilantes that attempt to take out a sex-trafficking ring in the Middle East. More specifically, it’s about one of the members of this vigilante group, Justice Parish. I love this description:
She’s ready to start a war…
Justice Parish was rescued from a brutal childhood and adopted into a loving family and their not-so-loving covert sisterhood of vigilantes. Trained as a skilled assassin, Justice vows to protect and avenge others who haven’t escaped the cruel hands of injustice. Her next target: a sex-trafficking ring in the war-torn Middle East. She just needs the perfect cover to get close and take them down.
Lark was one of the first writers to volunteer to be interviewed when I sent out my call, and I’m so glad she did! Since I always buy at least one of my interviewees’ books and read it before going on to research the author and put together what I hope will be interesting questions, this interview introduced me to a new favorite author.
Question 1: I truly loved Dangerously Yours. Your world-building was seamless, the characters of Lex and Bodie were engaging and the plot escalated smoothly along a trajectory linked to Bodie’s character arc. That’s pretty much the trifecta. Given that Dangerously Yours is your first novel, where did you learn to write so seamlessly?
Thank you, Jeanne! It’s always a thrill when someone loves one of my books.
Dangerously Yours was my first published book, but not the first one I wrote. That was a 400 page, single-spaced mess which will never see the light of day again, but it taught me I could finish a book.
Then I discovered RWA and ate up every craft workshop at our three local chapters and the national convention. I kept writing and connected with a fabulous critique partner—Sarah Andre who you interviewed here in December. She, too, was serious about publishing and is still the first person who reads my polished “final” draft. Continue reading
Stacy was the treasurer of my local RWA chapter, Central Ohio Fiction Writers, for the past two years before handing the account books over to me. We carpool for the seventy-odd miles to our monthly chapter meeting, so I’ve gotten to know her a bit. She is, without question, one of the most joyful writers I’ve ever known. Her characters live and breathe for her–and she adores every breath they take, even when they’re not behaving well.
Question 1: A love of the Twilight series led you to write your first novel. What was it about those books that fired your imagination, and how is that reflected in your work?
Yes, I absolutely loved Twilight, and it introduced me to paranormal romance. As a fan of Stephen King and Dean Koontz, I never even thought vampires could be good. But what really fired my imagination was wondering what Edward was thinking the whole time! I wanted his POV soooooo badly. So I think that’s what got me to writing my first book. And it’s why I always have at least two POVs (the heroine AND hero). I don’t want to frustrate MY readers. Continue reading
Today we’re talking to Ana Morgan, author of the historical western romance, Stormy Hawkins.
Ana and I bonded over our mutual love of Anne of Green Gables and the commonality that we both relocated to Minnesota from points south. I’ve long since moved back to my home state of Ohio, but Ana adapted to rural life and stayed. She says she’s rewarded every time she looks out her log cabin window and sees only squirrels and trees—and when her daughter comes home from Brooklyn with friends, clamoring for a home-grown meal.
Q1: Your debut novel, Stormy Hawkins, the first of your Prairie Hearts series, is set in the Dakota Territory, in 1887. What is it about that time and place that interests you?
I live on an organic farm in west central Minnesota, so eastern South Dakota is “in the neighborhood.” When we moved here, I was a city girl. I had to learn to milk cows, gather eggs, grow a garden, can produce—all sorts of homesteading skills that the locals took for granted. When I set out to write Stormy Hawkins, I embraced the advice that it’s smart to write about what you know. Continue reading