Kay: Little Women Celebrates 150 Years

Louisa May Alcott

Did you read Little Women when you were a kid? Did you like it?

Published in 1868, this story is one that the world seems never to tire of. There have been two silent film adaptations and four talkies so far. Six television series have been produced, including four by the BBC, and two anime series in Japan. A 1998 American opera version has been performed internationally. A musical version opened on Broadway in 2005.

And now, 150 years after it was written, two filmed productions will be released in 2018.

So one could say it’s an enduring story.

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Jeanne: Interview with Diana Munoz Stewart

Diana and I met back in 2015, when we were both finalists for RWA’s® Golden Heart® award for IamJustice_selectunpublished 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.

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Nancy: Story at the Speed of Light

We live in the age of speed. Everything needs to be fast, from the cup of coffee we get from the drive-through window, to the loading of our favorite websites, to our response time to every email, text message, and social media ping. As technology accelerates, it drags the microprocessors inside our skulls with it, conditioning us to think faster is always better. It’s no wonder we’ve come to expect our stories to move fast as well.

Don’t want to sit on pins and needles through commercials to find out what will happen next on your favorite show? Record it and fast-forward right through those suckers. Don’t want to wait week after week for a TV series to reach its conclusion? Watch something else while you wait for all the episodes to become available (or are dropped at once on streaming services) and binge-watch to your heart’s content. Our brains adapt very quickly to the rewards of story NOW, as services like Amazon and Netflix well know. It’s no accident that the next episode in a series starts playing on your TV within seconds of the end of the installment you just watched.

Which brings us to the favorite story delivery system of many of us on this blog: books. Continue reading

Jeanne: Interview with Lark Brennan

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.Dangerously Yours HR

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

Jeanne: Interview with Stacy McKitrick

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-Ghostly Interlude, FINAL, updated 4x6odd 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

Jeanne: Interview with Ana Morgan

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

Michaeline: Ursula K. Le Guin

Le Guin at a booksigning in 2013

Ursula K. Le Guin (by K. Kendall via Flickr) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Ursula K. Le Guin passed away on January 22, 2018, and through the comment sections of Jenny’s Argh Ink blog, I found Le Guin’s blog, The Bookview Cafe – one that she shared with a lot of writers, mostly women.

The recommended blog post was titled, “Navigation Q1: How do you make something good?” Le Guin started with the very funny (but absolutely practical) advice: “Well, you could start with butter and fresh farm eggs, it’s hard to go wrong from there, unless you are a vegan.” And then she gets serious. Go ahead, take a look if you like. I’ll still be here.

It’s like a little tarot card, this cryptic comment. For me, the butter and fresh farm eggs are real life experiences. (I know – that seems really odd for a writer of fantasy to say. But in order for fantasy to really fly, it needs to be grounded with real-life motives and behaviors. The rest is all caramel sauce or bechamel. Spin that into fairy glass, or stuff it with mushrooms, as you like. Or just make a fried egg in butter, if you don’t like fantasy. A fried egg in butter is one of the most delicious things on earth, as far as I’m concerned. I’m not a vegan.)

If you’ve read the post, then you know how Le Guin spins her metaphor into a textbook souffle – and then gives you permission to ignore those rules if you are making blintzes. That really rang the dinner bell for me. I’m making blintzes, and I should embrace that and make lots and lots of blintzes!

From one egg metaphor to another, I found this page about a book of hers that came out last December from Houghton Mifflin called “No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters”. The table of contents sold me, especially after reading the blog. It’s an old chestnut that, “wow, I’d read her shopping list!” I haven’t read much Le Guin, but her blog posts were very charming. I *would* like to read about her cat, her “crabby old lady” diatribes, and yes, the section titled “The Narrative Gift as a Moral Conundrum” makes me want to search the internet right now and see if it’s on the blog. I’d better wait, though, and get the real book, and take my time.

They call it “dead rock star” effect. It’s sad that it takes a death for me to re-discover what thousands have already known. I might be spending a lot of February, going through Le Guin’s books and other writings. Better late than never, I suppose.