Books by Melissa Bowersock

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Author Interview: Lois Lewandowski

Today I’m chatting with my Indies Unlimited buddy, L.A. (Lois) Lewandowski. I’ve recently read her first novel, Born to Die: The Montauk Murders, which I found extremely engrossing. Here’s the description:

Born to Die – The Montauk Murders is set amongst the glitz and glamour of the Beau Monde. The 80th birthday of Miranda Richards, an art-world icon, boasts the party of the summer at her exclusive mansion on Long Island. Old resentments and convoluted relationships bubble to the surface as an eclectic, A-list cast of characters celebrate at a Masked Ball. The luxurious trappings of success, however, don't hinder the agenda of an invited guest with a score to settle. Friends and family are left to wonder--- Will I be next?

Lois, what inspired you to take on this multi-character who-done-it?

Hi, Melissa. Thank you for having me on your blog. I have always loved murder mysteries, particularly those of P.D.James. One evening after watching the movie Gosford Park I decided to write an Americanized version of the story. I created the character of Miranda Richards, an homage to art and fashion icon Iris Apfel. I think older women are much more interesting to develop as a character.

More interesting all around, I’d say! ;-)Did you have to keep copious notes to remember who did what, and when? I’d think you’d need a scorecard with this book!

You’re right — the timeline must be perfect or the reader gets confused. A person who reads murder mysteries will look for clues from page one. The author needs to plant enough clues without giving away the murderer. There are always a few red herrings along the way.

It was obvious to me that you loved many of the characters in the book. Which one was your favorite?

Miranda Richards is my favorite character. At eighty years old she still has it all together. She has had a colorful life, with several husbands and lovers. She lives elegantly, the way only the privileged live, but she is not a snob. She shares her joie de vivre. And, she entertains with fabulous food. Scrumptious food and experimenting in the kitchen is a hobby of mine.

I have to ask; did you do research into the lifestyle of the glitterati, or is that your normal environment?

I live on a budget, unlike most of my characters. At one of my book club meetings a women asked me if I was rich! That is not the case. I do appreciate the finer things in life. For me, to be able to cook and present a wonderful meal to friends with a carefully chosen wine is a gift. I have always enjoyed reading books about elegant living, music, art, fashion… I decided to write what I enjoyed reading.

A surefire prescription for a good book. I also write what I want to read. That way, we at least are never disappointed! And then you completely switched gears with your second novel, My Gentleman Vampire: The Undead Have Style. Can you describe the differences in the writing processes? Which book was easier to write? Why? 

I had already started on the sequel to Born to Die when, unfortunately, I had a bout of health problems that required bed rest and — oxycodone. One day while recuperating in bed I had a crazy idea. What would happen if a heart-broken writer became best friends with a gay, tango dancing vampire? I put the other manuscript to the side. The vampire story, in first draft form, was done in a matter of weeks. It is an odd story, but I guess drugs will do that. Look at Edgar Allen Poe.

LOL! That’s a great story, and totally understandable. Sometimes you just have to follow the muse, even if it means shelving the latest work. I’m not quite sure why, but vampires and the tango do seem to have a natural resonance. How did these two things come together in your mind? 

Tango is extremely sexy and requires strength and style. My vampire and human share a passion for ballroom dancing, and they enter a member guest competition at a local vampire nightclub. As I said, the story presented itself and I wrote it. I followed the characters through this adventure, rather than dictating their exploits. 

On Amazon, it says Volume 1. How many books do you have planned for the series? 

While I was writing the latest murder mystery I kept a file on my desk for the second book in the vampire series. When an idea occurred to me I wrote it and saved it. I have recently begun the second book. I feel the story will go darker. Dragos, the vampire warlord, is not a lighthearted vampire. I think I am going to write shorter pieces, almost in a serial form. Readers have been patiently waiting… By the way, while traveling in the Caribbean I met a man from Transylvania named Dragos. The description of Dragos in the first book is his likeness. Since he is Romanian he has been an incredible resource and a muse. The characters will end up in Romania, at Dragos’ castle. That I know. 

What pressure do you feel from your readers to write the next book in a series? 

I realize I disappointed the women who loved Born to Die when I didn’t immediately work on the sequel. In January they will be pleased when I release A Gourmet Demise. The funny thing is that now I am receiving complaints from women who want the next installment of the vamps. That is why I may serialize the stories. I want them to be happy, and I also don’t want to lose their attention. 

What advice do you have for aspiring authors? 

First, don’t rush to publish. Educate yourself by reading the top writer’s blogs like Indies Unlimited. Build your network carefully with supportive writers and readers. Don’t spam your network. When you are ready to publish, hire a professional editor and formatter. Always present yourself as a professional. You are your brand.

Lois, thanks so much for sharing with us. I have a feeling we may add to your troops of readers waiting for those next installments. Congratulations in advance on the January release.

For more information about Lois, you can visit her author page here:

Lois’ blog is where she shares recipes and lifestyle tips here:

Monday, December 23, 2013

First Chapters - FREE!

Free today (12/23) through 12/27 is the Indies Unlimited collection entitled First Chapters. This is a selection of first chapters of 22 books--not samples, mind you, but the full first chapters--written by award-winning, cutting-edge writers. This volume includes chapters from authors DV Berkom, Melissa Bowersock, Laurie Boris, K.S. Brooks, Lynne Cantwell, Martin Crosbie, Jim Devitt, A.C. Flory, Yvonne Hertzberger, Stephen Hise, Mark Jacobs, Chris James, LA Lewandowski, TD McKinnon, Rich Meyer, Melissa Pearl, Lin Robinson, Kathy Rowe, Carolyn Steele, Krista Tibbs, Dick Waters, and Carol Wyer. If you haven't read anything by these authors, you owe it yourself to take a test drive. There's something for everyone here. 

When you've finished all your holiday tasks, sit down, put your feet up and browse through this amazing eclectic collection. You won't be sorry. 

Read what others are saying:

"I really enjoyed First Chapters. The stories are smart and well selected. They were all filled with mystery and intrigue. It was a fun way to get enchanted with different independent writers."

"There are some very interesting and varied first chapters from some obviously very talented authors. This is an excellent way of reading many new authors' works in one place, and picking the novels to read in full. There is something for everyone in this collection."

"First Chapters is great value. I've already been seduced and sidetracked from reading the rest of the First Chapters by a couple of the featured chapters, to purchase entire e-books. A great way to sample new writers and genres."

Friday, December 20, 2013

Audio Book Winners

Thanks to everyone who has been wishing me well with the new audio book of Marcia Gates: Angel of Bataan. The release of the audio book comes on the heels of the book receiving yet another medal in a national book contest, this time from Stars and This makes 4 awards so far; much more than I would have dreamed for this very personal book. Amazing how when you write something from the heart, it goes out to touch the hearts of many other people as well.

So the winner ... make that winners. Yes, I know it's the holidays and everyone's in a mad rush and not many took the time to comment here. Because of that, I am awarding 2 winners of the free audio book--Heather and Lois. Congratulations! I'll be IMing you with the coupon codes you can use to download your free book. From there you can listen on your computer or transfer the file to another device, burn to CD and listen in your car, whatever works. I do hope you'll enjoy it. 

Again, thanks to everyone for all the support and encouragement. Feedback from readers is absolutely essential! 

I wish you all very happy holidays, whatever they might be, and hope the new year is full of bright and shining promise for us all!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Audio Book Giveaway

Just barely in time for Christmas, the audio version of my book, Marcia Gates: Angel of Bataan, is now available. This is the award-winning true story of a courageous Army nurse and prisoner-of-war who just happens to be my aunt. As you can imagine, the book was a labor of love, and I knew I could not offer it to the public until I felt I could proudly hand it to the guiding spirits of my family without flinching. Luckily I was able to do that. 

This is not a fictionalized memoir; this is as objective a telling of the true story as I could possibly do, neither embellishing nor softening the events, the actions or the emotions of the people involved. Much of the story is taken verbatim from letters, telegrams and newspaper clippings of the time, and Marcia's experience is most often told in her own words. It is her story, the story of the Army nurses who were captured on Corregidor and, ultimately, a human story. It is a story of the depths to which a human soul can sink, and also of the heights of perseverance and service that a human soul can attain. 

What surprised me was the way the book came alive in the audio version. My narrator, Adrianne Price (whose father, coincidentally, also served in the Philippines), does a wonderful job of infusing the story with excitement, passion, and just a touch of humor. Hearing the words I wrote brought to life with her soothing, evocative voice added an entirely new dimension to the story. Every time I would listen to a new chapter, I would cry. 

So here's the deal: leave a comment below about why you'd like to win this audio book and on Friday, December 20 I will choose a random winner. I will then send you the coupon code to get the book free from Audible. 

What better way to celebrate the season than by honoring the ordinary people who became selfless heroes of service, and by feeling the immeasurable gratitude for their sacrifices? 

Sample reviews for Marcia Gates: Angel of Bataan:

"I was riveted by the writing,the research and the story of courage from both Marcia Gates and her mother." 

"Marcia Gates is an incredible historical narrative. "

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Author Interview - Yvonne Hertzberger

Today I’m sitting down having a virtual chat with my Indies Unlimited buddy, Yvonne Hertzberger. I’ve been reading and enjoying her new book, The Dreamt Child and want to know more about it.  

The Dreamt Child is book three of the Earth’s Pendulum series, a historical fantasy. What was the inspiration behind this series?

Oh my, that’s a hard one to answer. In the beginning there was the word – no, not THAT Word. LOL, but in a sense that is exactly how it happened. I began what I thought was a short story. It became a novel and before I was half-way finished it morphed into the Earth’s Pendulum trilogy. So you could say the inspiration came from the characters who wanted their stories told.

Did you know when you began writing Back from Chaos, the first book, that you were going to write a series? Did you have the three books plotted out already, or had you only planned the one book and found you had more to say?

While, as I said, I did not set out to write a series, it became clear to me very early on that one book would never satisfy the story that needed to be told. I really thought I was crazy, nuts, odd at first. I mean, do characters really tell you what to write and what they need to do? They are not real, are they? How can that happen? I’m supposed to be the boss aren’t I? (See what I mean? I am still arguing with them.) In the years since I have heard from so many authors that the same thing happens to them that I now feel I am in good company – odd or not. I like here it in Weirdland. I’m right at home here, now.

I am right there with you. I’ve also found that my characters may end up having vastly different ideas about where the story’s going to go than I do.

Anyway, to get back to the question, they soon let me know that it would require three books to tell their story. The key parts of the plot-line were firmly etched into my brain, but the wheres and hows worked themselves out as I went along.

 Is this book the last of the series, or are there more Earth’s Pendulum stories tucked away in your brain?

This is definitely the final book in this particular series but I have not ruled out going back to that world in a different time period for more stories. Not right now, though.

What would you say is the greatest advantage to writing a series? The biggest disadvantage?

First let me say that I love series as a reader. I don’t like to leave a world where characters have become old friends. I want to follow them further along. So I think it was natural for me to write that way. I think most of us try to write what we like to read – or close to it.  The best thing about it is that there is no need to create a whole new world. The first book takes care of most of that, although it is always expanding with greater detail. And I am able to keep at least some of the characters around so they don’t need to be invented.

On the other hand, keeping characters from previous books around create the challenge of having them continue to grow and change, just a real people do.

The biggest disadvantage, in my opinion, is more to the readers than myself. If they have read early parts of the story they are eager to carry on. It takes me about two years to write a new book. That’s a long time to make fans wait. 

You have a lot of characters in your books; do you find it’s easy to keep track of them in your mind, or do you have to refer to notes?

Funny you should ask. J I really don’t have trouble keeping them straight until a beta reader or editor tells me too many of them sound the same and I ought to change some names. That’s when it gets a little rough. In The Dreamt Child I inadvertently changed two names to the same new name. Now that was an editing nightmare. One click in Word and I had two enemies with the same name. Yikes!

Yes, that would definitely be a problem!

I think readers who like series, especially fantasy series, generally expect a lot of characters and seem to be able to cope with the large cast.

In The Dreamt Child, Liannis, the main character, can mind-speak with her animal companions, a horse and a kestrel. Did you grow up with pets? Did you wish you could communicate with them telepathically?

Oooh, that’s a cool question. Yes, I grew up on farms, mostly, so there were always animals around. All my early life we had a dog, sometimes added a cat, and also kept rabbits outside in a cage. When I was fourteen I trained a German Shepherd puppy. He was so clever and eager to please it seemed we did communicate telepathically. That pup, quite literally, saved my life by being my best friend when I had no others and was going through a horrid period. He knew my moods and was my rock.

So, in a sense, now that you have led me to think about it, it seems natural that there be animal companions my protagonist, Liannis, can communicate with. It really doesn’t seem alien to me at all.

Anything else can you want to tell us about the book?

My biggest struggle has been to find a way of categorizing the trilogy in a way that readers will find it and that what they get is what they hoped for. Fantasy is a huge potpourri of different styles and types. And it is lumped together with Science Fiction. When I tell people who are unfamiliar with it that my work is Fantasy they think of magic, spells, mythical creatures and alien worlds. My books have none of that. The only reasons it has to be classed as fantasy is that my world is not an actual historical place, and that it has a seer in it who get communications from the goddess on occasion. So it would also appeal to those who read historical fiction, historical romance, or anything in a Medieval setting.

One happy event occurred when I asked Rosanne Dingli, an author whose work I admire, if she would write me a commendation for the front of the book. She referred to my story as “Magical Realism”. I think that hits the nail right on the head. (Thank you Rosanne) Unfortunately no such category actually exists, something I hope will change.

What other books or blogs have you written?

Of course, it is by now obvious that there are two previous books in this trilogy: Back From Chaos and Through Kestrel’s Eyes.

My blog is embedded in my website. I don’t write my own pieces nearly as much as I ought to but I do share posts from others that I think are relevant and interesting to my followers. I think I would enjoy blogging more if I had more time and if I found my computer more user friendly.

I also have contributions in:
Indies Unlimited 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
Indies Unlimited: Tutorials for Prospering In A Digital World
First Chapters

What are you working on currently?

Mostly I am fighting with my anxiety over computers, promotion, marketing and all things connected with those. Many people understand computer logic. My mind simply doesn’t work that way. So I struggle with each and every aspect of social media. I am trying to find the nerve to do a Facebook Event for this book. And I have a “real” launch party planned locally that I am putting a lot into. Even food. Want to come? It’s on Jan. 18, 2014, here in Stratford.

Since I’m in Arizona, that’s just a tad out of my way. However, I will be happy to direct more folks your way.

That said, I am working on a new novel and have an idea for another, each totally unrelated to the trilogy or to each other. The first one will be more of a (non)historical fiction/romance. No paranormal in this one but I think it will still appeal to a similar audience. The second one is a real departure with regards to setting, and time. The idea for that one came to me in a dream. Strange for someone who almost never remembers her dreams.

My spiritual fantasy came from a dream. We may not remember most of them, but when they have a story to tell, they can do it in a very compelling way.

What is your writing process? Are you a planner or a pantser?

I’d have to put myself firmly in the pantser club. However, I do have key events in mind as I write and know where I want to end up. I don’t write them down, though. That would feel too constricting. lol

 Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?

No, not so far. I am tempted, though, with the two story lines I have in my head. I worry that one will disappear if I don’t write it, that I will lose the thread or the inspiration. Dreams tend to fade over time.

When you're not writing, what’s your favorite activity?

That’s easy. For the last six months it has been to spend time with my new grandson. When we can’t actually visit in person as they live a 2 ½ hour drive away, we visit on Skype. He’s the joy of my life.

Oh, and I love to sing, so I am a member of the Stratford Concert Choir. We sing some really challenging things and put on four or five concerts every year. December is always Handel’s Messiah month. I’m a high soprano.

Otherwise I love to garden when the weather allows. I also love to read but am a slow reader and have so little time for it. I like to cook for company and have friends over, two at a time. As an introvert, larger groups take the stuffing out of me.

In my next life, I’m choosing musical parents who will encourage that part of my education, including voice. I love to sing but do not have a good voice, so that will have to wait until my next trip around.

What’s the best part about being an indie writer?

I suppose you could call me a bit of a control freak. I love that no one can tell me what my title will be, what my cover will look like and what I need to remove or include in my manuscript. I love being part of the indie writing community and have more friends there, real friends though I have not met most of them. I love the give and take there, the generosity between Indie writers on Facebook groups and especially Indies Unlimited. Writing is a solitary activity and the connections I have as an Indie have kept me from feeling isolated.

I wholeheartedly agree. We’ve got some fabulous indie groups online, and they understand us like no one else.

If I were offered a contract by a publisher tomorrow it would have to be extremely good to give up being an Indie. (Hey, I’m broke – like most Indies. I did say ‘extremely good’.)

You’re able to invite three people (alive or dead) to dinner. Who do you invite, and how do you seat them?

That’s a tough one.

One would be Victor Hugo. His insights into social issues were so ahead of his time. It would be fascinating to see how he would view our time and culture.

Possibly Angelina Jolie. I find her so interesting. She’s a class act, not at all how the media used to portray her. I admire her intelligence, ethics and passion.

Oh, I know. I’d fly J.D. (Dan) Mader in. He is a fine writer, a wonderful person and I have sort of adopted him as my nephew. His life and his views on human nature are so deep and so generous. He’s young enough to be my son but I have learned from him.

We’d all sit around a small round table, close enough that we could almost put our heads together. That allows for a truly intimate conversation. There would be lots of simple, good food, fresh coffee and, well yes, sweets and chocolate, too. The room would be private so no one could overhear or interrupt us and we’d talk all night.

Too bad! I think I’d like to be a fly on the wall in that room!

What is the one book that you wish you had written, not because it was successful but just because you thought it was the best book ever?

That’s easy. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. (Do you see a theme here? Lol) Although I’ll stick with the 1100 page abridged version, thank you.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Listen to all the advice you can. Then digest it and keep only what you know in your gut works for what you are trying to do. There are no laws, only rules, and rules can be broken if you know how.

Best advice ever. Too many follow the “rules” of “experts” and only find out later that they just don’t work for their stories. However, it often takes time to build up the confidence to go against the tide.

Yvonne, thanks so much for taking the time to answer all my questions.

My pleasure. This was really fun. You had some great questions. Thank you for having me.

Find out more about Yvonne below.


Yvonne Hertzberger lives in Stratford, Ontario with her spouse, Mark. She calls herself a late bloomer as she began writing at the ripe age of 56.  The first two volumes of her Fantasy trilogy, ‘Earth’s Pendulum’ have been well received and the third is being published at this time. She loves to sing, garden and spend time with like-minded people and family.

She is a contributing author of Indies Unlimited.

Where can we connect with you?

Blog: see website
FB Author page:


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Kindle Countdown

In case you haven't heard, Amazon has announced a new promotional tool for authors enrolled in their Kindle Select program. It's called the Kindle Countdown and it works like this. For four days, you can list your book at a sale price that starts at the lowest point ($.99) and the price then goes up in increments each day until it reaches its normal price. It's all about grabbing the book at the sale price before it goes up. 

In  order to kick off the Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend, I decided to give it a try with my latest book, Stone's Ghost

Stone's Ghost is a modern ghost story about love and loss and friendship, mistakes and consequences and redemption. Here's the description from the back cover: 

Matthew Stone doesn't believe in ghosts … until he meets one. He owns a successful business in Lake Havasu, Arizona, home to the famed London Bridge that was brought over stone by stone and rebuilt over the Colorado River. He has a gorgeous girlfriend, a doting mother, and more money than he needs, but no time for stories about the ghosts who were transplanted from England with the famed bridge. When a chance encounter with a female ghost leads to unexpected friendship, Matt and the ghost are forced to rely on each other as they confront the pasts that haunt them.

And here's the deal. Beginning on November 29, the book is available for only 99 cents. But you have to act quick, because the price goes up the next day. And the next day. And the next day. Here's how it breaks out:

Increment                                                 Duration           Price                %  Discount
1    November 29, 2013 at 8:00 AM (PST)           16h                $0.99                    81%
2    November 30, 2013 at 12:00 AM (PST)         16h                $1.99                    61%
3    November 30, 2013 at 4:00 PM (PST)           16h                $2.99                    41%
4    December 01, 2013 at 8:00 AM (PST)           16h                $3.99                    21%
End December 02, 2013 at 12:00 AM (PST)                  Original list price $4.99

So are you ready? In shopping mode? 

On your mark, get set, GO!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Love at First Sight -- Holding that New Book

You may remember back in January of this year when I wrote about a writer-friend who was on the brink of having her first novel published. Helping her to reach this milestone has been particularly gratifying because of the story involved. She wrote her book about 20 years ago. Over time, it was accepted by two different traditional publishers, but each time the deal fell through. The first publisher went under and the second reconsidered based on some issues of religious content. I don't know how many other queries she might have sent out, how many rejections she may have received, but all writers know the doldrums that settle in during that time of no forward movement. It becomes a quagmire of depressing self-talk, low self-confidence and hopelessness. It becomes less painful to shove the manuscript into a drawer than it does to continue the quest.

Luckily, her family refused to accept defeat. That's when I was brought in to push things along. I did some light editing, formatted the book for CreateSpace, designed a simple cover with their template and the book was born. Unbeknownst to the author, proof copies were ordered and a surprise party was organized.

Lured to the party location under the guise of celebrating a totally separate accomplishment by someone else, she had no idea of what was to come. I understand that when "the bomb" was dropped, she was completely stunned. She laughed, she cried, wiped her eyes, shook her head, looked at her book again and cried some more. 

I envy her that feeling. I envy her seeing her own words on paper, bound, for the first time. But I don't envy her the wait she has gone through. This was, quite literally, the culmination of a life's work. She is 83 now; certainly there were times when she thought she would never see this day. 

But the day has come. And it was love at first sight.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Punctuation and Quotes - Rules of the Game

Punctuation and quotes go together like … love and marriage? Not always. Sometimes it’s more like Frankenstein and … Miley Cyrus.

I know, some people find the rules of punctuation to be vastly overrated and too annoying to bother with. Hey, I’m a rule-breaker, too. I protested at peace rallies during the 1960s; I marched and wore love beads and—well, you know. But strangely, when it comes to writing, I’m a Punctuation Nazi. Why? Because it serves the story.
Those rules are there for a reason; they help you convey the interaction of your story clearly to your readers. There’s nothing worse for a reader than having to stop, go back and work to figure out what the writer is saying. You want your reader to stay blissfully immersed in the story, not grumbling unhappily as s/he reads back over the last sentence to tease out your meaning. So in order to serve your story and keep your readers (and me!) happy, here’s a refresher on punctuation and quotes. However, before I start, let me stress that these are the AMERICAN rules for punctuation. More on that later.

1. Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks, whether you’re using double or single quotes.
This is probably the most common mistake made with quotes. I can’t tell you how many times I have sent e-mails to the TV game show Jeopardy! about this, but they continue to use incorrect punctuation. I boil every time I see a clue that says something like this:
This man was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and known as the “British Bulldog”.

Argh! The period always goes inside the quote mark. Here are some examples of the correct way to do it.

The traffic sign changed from "Walk," to "Don't Walk," to "Walk" again almost immediately.
Jeff said, "It’s time; let’s go."
Sheila told Chad, "Jeff said, ‘It’s time; let’s go.'"

2. Use double quotes for dialog, then single quotes for quotes within quotes. Note that the period goes inside all quotation marks.
Chad said, "Henry said, ‘We have plenty of time.'"

3. The placement of question marks with quotes really just follows logic. If a question is within quotes, the question mark should also be within the quotes.
Jeff said, “Would you hurry up?”

In the above case, the question mark goes inside the quotes along with the question being asked.

Chad asked, “Do you agree with the saying, ‘He who hesitates is lost’?”

Here the question is the larger sentence and the question mark goes outside of the saying in single quotes. In addition, only one ending punctuation mark is used with quotation marks, and the stronger punctuation mark takes precedence. Therefore, in the above case, no period after lost is necessary.

4. When you have one question outside quoted material and another one inside quoted material, use only one question mark and place it inside the quotation mark.
Did Sheila say, "Can I stay awhile?"

Even though the main sentence is a question, having a second question mark after the quote is unnecessary.

5. Use quotation marks to set off a direct quotation only.
"When will you be here?" Henry asked.

The above is a direct quote, quoting a speaker verbatim.

Henry asked when you will be there.

This is not a direct quote. It is attributed to another, but not his exact words, so no quotation marks are required.

Now, the caveat I mentioned before is that the UK, Canada and Australia rules can be the exact opposite in rules 1 and 2. Across the pond or across the border, they put the punctuation outside the close quote (as in that Jeopardy! clue that drives me nuts) and they swap quotes on inner dialog--single quotes for the initial dialog, double quotes for the interior dialog. Sometimes. It's not a hard and fast rule. You'll see it both ways.

What's a Punctuation Nazi to do? Consider the source and roll with the punches. As long as the usage is consistent, it should still tell the readers what they need to know. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Author Interview - Carol Wyer

Today I’m sitting down having a virtual chat with my Indies Unlimited buddy, Carol Wyer, which is a little more difficult because she lives “across the pond,” but we’re managing. I’ve just finished her book, Just Add Spice, which I enjoyed immensely.

Just Add Spice is about Dawn, a mature woman who finds herself butting heads with her unwillingly retired and very grumpy husband. She escapes into her writing and, most specifically, into the antics of her main character, Cinnamon. You know I have to ask: how autobiographical is the book?
Sadly, I am no Cinnamon but I am like Dawn in as much as I have a very grumpy, retired husband and a head filled with characters who talk to me and who are worryingly real. Every time I write a book, I attempt to create the most lifelike characters possible, which often means I try to live and think like they would.
That was all fine and dandy in the early days when I was writing about Amanda Wilson in my first novels. She is a 50 year-old bored housewife who enjoys blogging and drinking wine, but with this book I found I was behaving more wickedly. I spent ages trying to fathom out how to murder my husband and I think I began to worry him. He became extremely anxious when I collared a doctor at a drinks party and asked her if it would be viable to kill someone by putting ground up glass in their food. He’s been much better behaved since Just Add Spice.

I’ll be he’s watching his Ps and Qs now!

Cinnamon is like a modern-day Wonder Woman, righting wrongs and delivering paybacks to cheating lounge lizards. Where did the inspiration for her come from?
I was sitting in McDonald’s plotting a murder/mystery novel with a humorous twist. I was staring at my grumpy husband who was glowering at an email on his iPad, and pondering if it would be viable to murder him by slipping some poison into his Happy Meal, when she popped up in my head. She was a cross between Lara Croft and Wonder Woman.
A couple were opposite in one of the more private booths, kissing passionately. I didn't pay too much attention but after a while, and a lot of kissing and fondling, the woman left. Within a few minutes, the man’s mobile rang. He was one of those people who spoke quite loudly so it wasn't difficult to overhear his conversation which went something like “Hi Hun! Yes, I’m still at the office. I’m just about to pack up. Don’t worry. I've got the bicycle in the back of the car. Is he enjoying his party? I’ll be back for the birthday cake. Love you, Hun. Give the little guy a hug and tell him I have a big surprise for him.” I can’t repeat what Cinnamon suggested she’d like to do to him but some of the ideas are in the book.

I’ll bet we've all run into that sort, and probably would cheer Cinnamon on for her “corrective action.”

Did Cinnamon surprise you as you were writing the book? Did Dawn?
Cinnamon was always a wild card so I wasn't surprised by what she got up to. Dawn surprised me more. I hadn't intended for her to become so confident but as the book developed she transformed and I had to change the ending twice until I felt it fitted.

I've had a similar experience when the ending I thought I wanted was not the ending that the story demanded. Everything, after all, must serve the story, but sometimes it’s hard to give up an idea.

Anything else can you want to tell us about the book?
Watch out for the infamous lollipop scene. I actually witnessed something very like this a few years ago at a party when a stripper was hired for a friend to celebrate his birthday. I still cringe at the thought.


What other books or blogs have you written?
Writing has become an all-consuming passion. I’ll skip over all the books I wrote for children, with titles like Humphrey and the Dustbin Cats, before I became deadly serious about writing. My first adult novel was called Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines. It is about a woman who is facing 50. She begins a blog as way of letting off steam and then has a hot and lusty relationship on Facebook with an ex-lover. It is full of humour and twists. It got a lot of media attention and won several awards. Thanks to its popularity I wrote the sequel, Surfing in Stilettos and am now writing the third, Follow You, Follow me.
I’ve written two non-fiction books that help us face older age with humour – How Not to Murder your Grumpy and Grumpy Old Menopause. Both of these offer advice and lots of laughs.
My blog Facing 50 with Humour is now almost four years old. (I’m now facing 50 from the wrong side.) I’m about to launch a new website/blog called Grumpy Old Menopause which will be all the bits I couldn’t fit into my latest book. Finally, as you know, I write for Indies Unlimited, a site that offers a lot of exceptionally good advice to writers and for the Huffington Post Huff/50.

What are you working on currently?
I’m about to start edits on a short collection of stories, Love Hurts. They look at both the lighter and darker side of love. I’m halfway through Follow You, Follow Me and I’m getting my notes down for my next novel that will be a revenge novel full of mirth. Oh, and my posts for all the blogs. My husband has given up on having a clean house or any food cooked for him. It’s not going to happen any time soon.

No wonder he’s so grumpy!

What is your writing process? Are you a planner or a pantser?
Planner. I spend months planning. Each story runs through my head several times as a film. Luckily, I have insomnia so I get to watch my film, night after night until I am satisfied with the plot, characters and ending. Some nights, I even eat popcorn while running it through my head! If it’s good enough to make me want to watch it then it’s good enough to get down on paper.

 Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?
Yes. I always have one going through my head as ideas, one going through the note-jotting process, one being typed and one being edited at the same time. Isn’t that normal?

It is for me!

When you're not writing, what’s your favorite activity?
Sleeping. Ha! No, I love travelling. I have always been nomadic and if I can’t get away regularly, I sink into a depression; even if I only nip over to France for a few days, I have to get my fix. I blame it on my upbringing. My father was in the army and we were always on the move from base to base The world is a big, beautiful place and I intend to see as much of it as I possibly can before I am too old.

I’m with you on that. Still have too many places to see and cross off my list.

What’s the best part about being an indie writer?
It may sound odd but I love all the marketing and bits that surround the writing as much as the writing itself. I get a real thrill out of doing interviews, radio chat shows, magazine articles and so on. I am such an attention seeker!

 I think you’re much more extraverted than most of us authors, but it’s great that you enjoy all aspects of writing.

You’re able to invite three people (alive or dead) to dinner. Who do you invite, and how do you seat them?
I am the world’s worst cook so they had better be prepared for a lousy meal. I’d like to invite the group ABBA (okay that’s four people…) to sing. Hubby adores ABBA and it’ll keep him in the party mood all night I’d like to have a couple of comedians around for dinner. John Cleese from Monty Python and Fawlty Towers is one of my favourites and Tim Vine who has the best collection of one-line gags…even better than my own.  

Sounds like a hoot. I love John Cleese.

What is the one book that you wish you had written?
Last week, I read Coco Pinchard’s Big Fat Tipsy Wedding by Rob Brynzda. I laughed so much at it that I genuinely wished I’d written it. I’d have liked to have written all the Harry Potter books for obvious reasons, although I also wish I’d written one of the classics like Wuthering Heights. It would be wonderful to be the author of a book that was read by so many and studied in schools.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Be very, very patient. Don’t be in a hurry to publish your book. You have spent so long writing it that a few more weeks or months making sure it is perfect. Edit it thoroughly. (Hire a professional editor.) Create a good cover and make sure you have a blurb written, a synopsis and promotional materials ready before you press that button and publish it.

Carol, thanks so much for stopping by and putting up with all my questions.
It has been a huge pleasure. Many thanks indeed for letting me take up your time and lounge about here. I don’t really want to go now.

Find out more about Carol below.

Carol E. Wyer is an award winning author whose humorous novels take a light-hearted look at getting older and encourage others to age disgracefully. Carol has featured on numerous radio shows discussing 'Irritable Male Syndrome' and 'Ageing Disgracefully'. She has had articles published in national magazines such as Woman's Weekly' and on-line magazines. She writes regularly for The Huffington Post and author website Indies Unlimited.

Where can we connect with you?