Would have to be the Star Wars trilogy. I’m crazy about action movies.
To be honest, I don’t have one.
My children offer a plethora of writing inspiration. I’m also inspired by nature and everyday occurrences.
This is tough because I personally hate wearing make-up, I prefer the natural look. I guess I would have to say lotion.
What advice would you give yourself ten years ago? Any words of wisdom?
I would tell myself not to wait so late in life to write. Not to push myself so hard and to try and relax and have more fun.
How to be a respected writer in three easy lessons
Someone (who shall remain nameless to avoid any confrontation in the bedroom) once told me love was a figment of the imagination, nothing more than a chemical reaction… an electric impulse. Maybe that’s why I strive so hard to create that moment within the pages of a book. I want a romance so epic the non-believers are converted before the final page is turned. But my very own significant other scoffs at the idea, making gagging sounds as I read the pages of my book aloud. Is that any way to act in the presence of a professional writer? An esteemed author of fluffy romance? I think not.
Being a writer is hard work! I’ve followed the basic rules: 1) Spend the entire day lounging in pajamas, while 2) Conferring with the voices in my head, and 3) Living vicariously through the main character as I fall madly in love with my imaginary hero. And according to most of the literary greats, you should attempt this while half-sloshed.
So in a moment of defiance during this childish argument, I told him I’d decided to become a heavy drinker. Drinking is practically in the writer’s manual, right? Think Fitzgerald, Kerouac, Poe, Faulkner… even Dorothy Parker had a taste for the drink. Oh sure, they were probably into the heavy stuff, but since I write romantic chick-lit, I figured I should drink cosmopolitans. They seem to be the drink of choice in all the best girly literature. Then, I read that Hemingway drank daiquiris, and having had those before—they are pretty tasty—I decided I could take up drinking daiquiris… strawberry being my flavor of choice.
Of course, my husband just shook his head and rolled his eyes, mumbling “Good luck with that,” as he wandered off to do whatever husbands do. You see, he knows my ability to hold my liquor is on par with that of a sixth grader. Well, if sixth graders were allowed to drink alcohol, which of course, they’re not. And as it turns out, I shouldn’t be allowed either. Apparently, I giggle a lot when I drink. And I can barely get through one martini glass filled with the potent pink concoction before my giggles become obnoxious… or entertaining, depending on who you ask.
Basically, I’m a lot like my character, Katie James, in To Katie With Love. She’s not a drinker. She can’t hold her liquor. But somehow, fate (just call me Fate) decides she needs to drink far too much at her 29th birthday party, and she wakes up in her dream guy’s bed. Not a bad way to start the year, if you ask me. The guy is seriously hot… and maybe a little bit dangerous. Then again, having an assassin for a boyfriend just might be the least of her worries.
Describe the book in your own words.
Fresh Mint with Lemon is a story of a love triangle. The three main characters, a man and two women, are extremely sensitive and full of regard for one another, and it’s hard for them to make decisions. For that reason, hardly anything happens between them: they talk and talk, but without really getting to know one another better because, at the bottom of it all, they are afraid to learn what the others might think. The novel, a light summer diversion that takes place during torrid July afternoons and sensual Mediterranean nights near the coast, is a story of longing for happiness, love, and tenderness, which seem to be unattainable. In place of these things there is eternal misunderstanding between three people with very different pasts.
Describe any of the major figures, personalities and characters within the book.
Vadim is a sensitive Russian man who is strongly attracted to Patricia—a well-known American painter—and later to Radhika—an American of Indian origins, and a feminist militant. Vadim lives most of the time in his dreams rather than in tangible reality, and this makes him extremely indecisive. He cannot get what he wants in life because he doesn’t struggle hard enough for anything. This isn’t a big concern for him though; he is happy in his expectations and in his longings. According to his philosophy, the path towards a certain goal is more important than achieving the goal.
How did you come up with the idea for the book? How did it come to be?
I read Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being and was fascinated by the misunderstandings that words create between different people, as exposed in the section of the novel called “A Short Dictionary of Misunderstood Words.” I wanted to write my own book about misunderstandings between people who have different pasts or different cultural experiences. As far as the setting of the novel is concerned, I live on the Mediterranean coast, in Sitges, near Barcelona, so the location of the novel expresses my fondness for the place that has become my home.
How did you come up with the title of the book?
One summer night I was sitting with some friends in an outdoor café in the center of Barcelona and trying to decide what I felt like drinking. Then I noticed a sign on the blackboard with the café’s recommendations: “Fresh mint with lemon” was one of them. I thought it sounded very refreshing and summery, full of Mediterranean aromas and tastes. I thought of using the name of the drink as the title of my little summer book and shared my idea with my friends; they were all for it. We each drank a glass of fresh mint with lemon that night.
Birthday: March 22
Place of birth: Prague, Czechoslovakia
Are you associated with any causes or nonprofits? Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)
What is your academic background? Which schools did you attend? What was your degree in? I got my basic education in Prague. Then, in the United States, I studied comparative literature at the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago. I got both my master’s degree and my PhD in this field.
Please list any awards or honors you’ve received:
- City of Barcelona Award for the Catalan translation of The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier švejk by Jaroslav Hašek
- Catalan Letters Award for the translation of The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier švejk by Jaroslav Hašek
- Mercè Rodoreda Award for my collection of short stories, Absent Moon
- Runner-up for the National Award of the Spanish Ministry of Culture for my novel The Silent Woman
- Ángel Crespo Award for Translation for the Spanish translation of The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier švejk by Jaroslav Hašek, and for my translation work in general
- Gratias Agit Award from the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs for my work as an author and translator
Do you have a blog or author website? If so, what is the URL? www.monikazgustova.com
Favorites & General Questions
What are your top five favorite books?
The Lady with a Little Dog by Anton Chekhov
The Short Stories of Katherine Mansfield by Katherine Mansfield
Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? by Raymond Carver
L’Education sentimental by Gustave Flaubert
The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
What are your top five favorite films?
Amarcord directed by Federico Fellini
Il gattopardo (The Leopard) directed by Luchino Visconti
Blue Velvet directed by David Lynch
Kagemusha directed by Akira Kurosawa
The Russian Ark directed by Alexander Sokurov
You can find Monika’s book here:
He pushed open the door and ushered her inside. Emmie, braced for an unpleasant shock along the lines of the kitchen and the bathrooms, gasped. Spread across almost the entire back expanse of the house, the massive bedroom was stunning, even in its present dilapidated state. The first thing that caught her eye was a fireplace, the bricks over the opening blackened, the mantel worn, but . . . a fireplace. In the bedroom. Emmie was ready to move in right then and there. Two walls were made up entirely of windows. The only place available for a bed was to the right of the door, opposite the south-facing windows, so the spot was graced with year-round sunlight. Built-in cupboards wrapped all the way around the spot for the bed, from the closet door on the far side to the bedroom door and all the way to the ceiling. They were worn and in need of refinishing, but their effect, of real wood paneling, was rich and dramatic.
Emmie took a few steps farther into the room and turned her face up to the thin winter sun, imagining how warm and bright it would be only a few months from now, with the strengthening sunlight making it feel like spring in the room, even as winter hung on for dear life outside.
“You like it?” Graham asked.
Emmie closed her eyes and nodded, smiling blissfully, thinking about what it would be like to wake up to the view of the backyard every morning, the sun shining down on the fruit trees that peppered the gentle swell of the acre behind the house . . . being served breakfast in bed by a lady’s maid . . . the master of the house (just for the sake of argument, that role could be played by Graham) beside her . . .
Emmie let herself get lost in her daydream for so long that, when she noticed the silence in the room, she jumped. She shook herself, opened her eyes, and looked over at Graham. He was staring at her. She blushed furiously. No wonder Wilma hardly ever let her out by herself. Graham must think she was a complete loony.
But he just smiled. “The room suits you.”
And then came a little . . . hitch. He was silent, Emmie was silent. His mouth clamped shut in a straight line as he looked at her, then glanced away uncomfortably. Emmie had no idea how it had happened, but something . . . extra . . . was there in the room with them. And it wasn’t the ghost of a lady’s maid.
“—that’s pretty much it, unless you want to see the attic,” he said, swinging his arms a bit too jauntily, startling Emmie. Graham was usually so serenely contained that his sudden random, jerky movements were jarring.
“I can skip the attic for now,” she said. The house was completely quiet. Apparently the workers were taking a break. She wondered how long it had been since their sawing and sledgehammering had fallen silent—had they just stopped, or had she been so caught up in spending time with Graham that she hadn’t noticed the house had gone quiet ages ago?
As they descended to the first floor again, Graham said from behind her, “So . . . what’s the Emmie story?”
“The Emmie story. You know—”
At the bottom of the stairs, she turned to him and made a face. “You mean my Very Special Relationship with John?”
Graham laughed, which made her toes tingle. She loved his open, genuine smile. “Not necessarily. But I do wonder how you got there, sure.”
“Uh”—she breathed uneasily—“well, er, I was born here, grew up here.” She skipped over high school so she didn’t have to mention Juliet, and went on, “I got my degree at Westfall College, just up the road—”
“Oh, yeah,” Graham cut in, “I know the place. I’m from Ostey, originally. That’s near there.”
“Right! We used to do some serious drinking in—” Emmie winced. “I probably shouldn’t have told you that.”
He shrugged. “We’ve all got our vices.” Ain’t that the truth, Emmie thought. As he directed her back into the library, he asked, “What about family? Brothers? Sisters?”
“Nope, I’m an only,” she replied. “My dad lives here in town. My mom . . . passed last year.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
“That’s about it. Pretty average, really.”
“Oh, I think that’s the last word I’d use to describe—” Then something started pinging across the room. Graham said, “Excuse me a second,” and crossed to the window seat to pick up his phone.
Hey now. What was that? As he read his text message, Emmie, thoroughly discombobulated by his last comment, retreated to the opposite end of the room, pretending to study the cobwebbed crown molding and the empty, dusty shelves. She leaned on the wall; after that kind of comment, she needed some support to remain standing. A bulge of dried-out plaster gave under her weight.
“Sorry,” Graham said, putting his phone in his pocket and joining her on the other side of the room. “So. What do you think of the place?”
Hang on—care to finish that last thought? she wondered. But he’d apparently moved on, so she just said, “I think it’s great.”
“Now, Emmie Brewster, interior designer, there’s one thing I want to make clear,” he said, crossing his arms in front of him and rocking on his heels. “This is a very important project.”
“Of course,” Emmie said in her best career-mode voice, feeling a little defensive at his lecturing tone.
“What I mean is, it’s very important to me.”
“Okay . . .” So he wants to impress the new owners. Who doesn’t? “Er, who are the clients, by the way?”
He cocked an eyebrow and replied with the ghost of a smile, “Me.”
“This is my house. I bought it.”
“Wow.” After a pause, she added, “Good thing I didn’t make any rude comments about the crazy guy who bought this tumble-down rattrap.”
“Good thing. And you know what this means, don’t you? Now you have to be nice to me.”
She smirked at him, realizing that they were both recalling Saturday night’s conversation in the shadowed back room of Juliet’s new shop. Then, in all seriousness, she said, “It’s a great place, Graham. Really.”
“It is, isn’t it? And . . . I want it to be done right. I want it to be perfect. Not that you won’t do your best—I know you will. But I just want to make sure you understand that I’m doing this for someone who’s very important to me.”
Emmie stiffened. She could fill in the blanks there. Juliet? When the house was ready, was she going to leave her husband and move in here with Graham? That would explain why her McMansion didn’t look lived in, wasn’t decorated: She wasn’t planning on staying all that long. So this was going to be Juliet’s perfect house, with Juliet’s breathtaking sunny bedroom, and even a lady’s maid if Juliet wished it.
But it didn’t matter. This was Emmie’s job. She would just have to forget that she was doing it for Juliet’s benefit. So she took a breath and looked at the handsome man before her—the man she had never had a chance with, because when they met he had already been dreaming of feathering this majestic nest for another woman. “Absolutely,” she said. “You can count on me. I will make this place . . . beautiful. Perfect.” For emphasis, she slapped her hand on the wall next to her.
And suddenly, with a muted whoosh, the entire expanse of plaster detached itself from the lath, and the room was filled with a cloud of blinding, choking plaster dust.
Thank you to Sheryn MacMunn for sharing this guest blog for her Finding Out blog courtesy of CLP Blog Tours. Please visit her tour page for more information and a giveaway!
There are times when people complain about Sheila and her lack of guts in the beginning of Finding Out. A few people have told me that they actually yelled at the book because Sheila is so lost in her life. When I explain that they should be irritated with Sheila, they are often surprised.
When the character of Sheila came alive, I didn’t want to showcase a woman in the same voice as others. It seems that single female characters in books, movies and on television that are fighting to succeed are often portrayed as sad but plucky. The character has a certain cuteness that guarantees she’ll come out on top. It’s a popular and successful formula. I admit that I have enjoyed many stories like that but I think it does a disservice at times. Let’s face it, when we’re down do we really feel plucky and cute? So I really wanted to fill a gap by showing someone who is real and in her mid-thirties, much like Leah Dunham tries to show her generation in Girls.
Yes, Sheila gets dumped by Joe and didn’t realize how much of a jerk he really was. Haven’t we all had friends like that? We look at them and bite our tongue while they make excuses for some guy or we tell them the truth and they ignore us. Worse, some girls get mad and the friendship ends. And truthfully, if women weren’t drawn to the concept of loving the bad boy, Carrie and Mr. Big wouldn’t have made it past the first season.
I also wanted a character that can’t just run away. Sheila can’t go on a major trip or quit her job to travel around the world. She’s broke. Joe took everything and left a mess. Sheila has to soldier on without falling apart. After being in a relationship for seven years, she doesn’t know what to do. I had an interesting conversation with a group of women about this and they all had the same reaction: “Who hasn’t been lost and confused at one point or another? That’s life.”
Some of life’s hardest challenges are embarrassing to admit. No one wants to say that she can’t cope but at some time or another, it happens. There aren’t many people alive who can say that they are 100% confident every second of the day, every day of the year. In fact, the need to appear perfect –whether it’s the perfect daughter, girlfriend, wife or employee – can be exhausting which many women relate to.
So when naming this character, I chose ‘Sheila’ because it’s a nickname for all girls in Australia. Anyone can be a ‘Sheila’ and I realized that Sheila’s story is one for all women. We want to be loved, we want good friends in our lives and we want to be able to take care of ourselves when things go bad. ‘Davenport’ actually means a safe haven, which is what Sheila is trying to find and trying to be for her friends and co-workers. She sticks up for co-workers when things go wrong and agrees to be maid of honor though her heart is breaking. Sheila is the person who is good and true, but needs a little help. She’s the kind of person you can trust.
That trust is how she is able to forge a friendship with Ruth. While most of her co-workers roll their eyes at the friendship between an octogenarian and thirty-six year old Sheila, Sheila’s getting the help that she needs because she’s looking for truth not a Band-Aid to hide the pain. It’s also interesting that Sheila’s co-workers are suddenly interested in her friendship when they find out ‘who’ Ruth really is.
The best part about Sheila’s journey is how much she grows by taking the steps which are difficult. As the pieces of the puzzle come together, with help from Ruth, we see a woman who triumphs on her own terms which ultimately has people cheering.
**Everyone who leaves a comment on Sheryn’s tour page will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Finding Out before March 25 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will get five bonus entries.**
Charlotte Henley Babb is on tour now with CLP Blog Tours and Maven Fairy Godmother: Through the Veil. Please visit her tour page for more information and a giveaway!
Christmas. Hanukkah. Pancha Ganapati. Winter Solstice. Soyal. Yule. Yaldi. Kwanzaa.
Festivus for the Rest of Us.
A season of lights, which centers on the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, appears in many cultures. The winter solstice is the longest night of the year. We forget how dark and cold winter was when all the food was what had been grown and stored the year before. Each festival honors the hope of the return of life and light both to the world and to the soul.
In America, people decorate with hundreds, even thousands, of lights, draped over their houses, doorways, bushes, and in my neighborhood, a rock. Last night I saw a single strand of lights around a business doorway, and thought how sad and pathetic it looked.
It didn’t seem light-hearted. But the business owner had added a bit of light to a dull, dark street.
People talk about the “magic” of Christmas while they are in the midst of planning parties, overeating sugary treats, losing sleep over getting everything done, and in the back of their minds, wondering if they will be able to pay for it all. They are not light-hearted.
I prefer not to go the “comedy” route of showing people getting hurt, as I saw on a “reality” TV show where the intention was for people to fall or get knocked down or punched as they tried to navigate an obstacle course. Pain is not funny. I don’t think that F-bombs are funny either, in themselves. There’s no shock value in WTF or FTW, so why bother?
Of course, any comic situation is tragic for the protagonist, but we always root for her to come through with pluck, determination, or even dumb luck. It’s especially fun when her bumbling (misguided, innocent, contrary, take your pick) efforts outshine the tried and true. Many of us would like to be able to face a new challenge and prevail by doing it our way. That’s what Maven does—the best she can where she is with what she knows.
Isn’t that what you do every day? You are adding light to the world.
So as you find yourself in the conflicts of family traditions, the dilemma of what to let go and what to keep, the demands on time, talent and tolerance for the changes in your routine, try to lighten up. If a given day is tough, and they always are, remember that the wise men came seeking the wherever the star led them. They found peace. You can too.
“Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Let your heart be light.” Lyric by Ralph Blane
Charlotte Henley Babb is the author of Maven Fairy Godmother: Through the Veil, available from Muse It Up Publishing ( http://bit.ly/MavenFGM ), Smashwords, Amazon and B&N. Her websites are http://charlottehenleybabb.com and http://mavenfairygodmother.com. Find her on facebook at http://facebook.com/charlotte.henley.babb
**Everyone who leaves a comment on Charlotte’s tour page will be entered in the giveaway! Anyone who purchases their copy of Maven Fairy Godmother: Through the Veil before December 31 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will get five extra entries in a drawing to win a $10 Amazon gift card!! Two bonus winners will receive a wand from Charlotte Henley Babb! Please note this is open to US/Canada residents only.**
Thanks to Kim for stopping by with a guest post for CLP’s For Writers section! Please visit her tour page at CLP Blog Tours for more information and a giveaway!
When Samantha suggested I write my guest blog on writing advice, I thought Sure! No problem! But now that I’m here, staring at the blank page, I’m kinda like, really? Me? Maybe it’s just my ubiquitous writerly angst, but my second thought on dispensing writing advice was, Who am I to dispense writing advice?
I’ve published two novels and have been writing a blog for nearly seven years. I was a journalism major with an English minor and worked in radio news for five years. But still. I feel unworthy to dispense advice on writing. It’s probably because I feel like no one out there has ever heard of me. Even so I, of course, have no shortage of opinions on what makes writing good and/or successful, but I must qualify any advice I give here by saying I will guarantee the opinions expressed by Kim Strickland may be worth exactly what you’re paying for them.
So here’s my advice: screw writing advice. Just write. (Wait. Isn’t that advice?)
The creative process is such a personal thing, as individual as each and every writer, and I think we all would prefer it to stay that way. So whenever I hear folks trotting out “the rules” or advice on writing, it sorta makes me cringe. What works for you may not work for me and, obviously, vice versa.
When I hear, “Write what you know,“ I think, I’d rather write the book I want to read. I’m already bored with what I know. My first book, Wish Club, was about a book club that started practicing witchcraft. I knew nothing about witchcraft when I got the idea for it, and while we had a lot of great times in my old book club, let me just say if I’d written about what I knew about book clubs, Zzzzzzz.
“Write every day.” Well if that isn’t the impossible dream around here. I have a job and three kids, and two cats and one dog. I write when I can. Sometimes I’ll go for weeks without writing fiction. Sometimes, I do write every day. As long as I keep putting my butt in the chair, or keep intending to put my butt in it, that’s what works for me.
Write every day. Write what you know. Outline. Free-form. No backstory in the first fifty pages. No prologues. Fewer adjectives. No adverbs. More dialogue. Less dialogue. No exclamation points! Absolutely no dialogue tags. All the conflicting advice can be confusing, especially because it’s possible to point to successful novels that have broken every single one of these rules. Yet it is important to know what the rules are, so you can choose to break them, or not. Personally, I agree with many of them. Especially the one about no backstory in the first fifty pages. And, “I absolutely abhor the over-use of dialogue tags,” Kim murmured.
Writing is the best way to learn how to write. And so is reading copious amounts of books. And there it is. My humbly delivered writing advice. Agree, disagree, whatever works for you is what matters most. Besides, either way, you always reserve the right to ask for your money back.
Kim Strickland lives in Chicago with her husband, three children, two cats and one dog. She also blogs as A City Mom at ChicagoNow. Down at the Golden Coin is her second novel. When she’s not being a mom or a writer, she flies jets for a major airline, which means, every once in a while, she gets to eat an entire meal sitting down.
Connect with Kim!
My blog: http://www.ChicagoNow.com/acitymom
First of all, thank you for the opportunity to share my writing background with you and your interest in The Bloody Mary Club! I appreciate the support and hope that you will come away jazzed about financial chick lit! The time has come for smart girl money fiction!
The Bloody Mary Club most definitely has elements of my real life experiences. My novel is a financial thriller about an all women investment club that meets in historic Old Town, Alexandria, Va. The friends, caught up in a ruthless bank takeover, uncover accounting fraud and trading irregularities. When the tight circle faces off against greedy executives sitting on millions of dollars worth of stock options their financial security blanket is ripped away. The ladies become the target of a predatory national bank. As the intrigue and violence escalates so does the vodka in their namesake drink, Bloody Marys.
There are many details in the novel that came from my life. First and foremost, I’m a military brat, I grew up overseas. The main characters are also military brats that met overseas while in college. Some are based on friends that I met overseas while attending the University of Maryland Munich Campus, others from my time in Naples, Italy. In the novel, these lifelong friends are so different that they probably wouldn’t be friends if they met in the present time. I on the other hand, have a tight circle of friends that I met while overseas and we are all enjoying growing old together. I draw upon this overseas experience to create many of my memorable characters and scenes in The Bloody Mary Club. One of my favorite scenes I had to cut which goes into goes back in time to when the women were living in Munich in college and meet up in the Hofbrauhaus for a night of beer drinking. They end up dancing in a fountain square then one of the ladies empties a box of Tide detergent into the fountain turning the square into a bubbly mess. The police are called and they barely escape arrest as they flee heading down the winding streets of Munich. This scene ‘might’ be based on a true experience but this author will never tell. It will show up in another novel I am certain of this.
I shared many of the same traits as my lead character Gina Van Story. Since I am a former stock broker, I was able to give her that experience dealing with investment advisors and clients of all stripes. I could relate to her daily grind and make it more realistic. The scenes of Gina at her desk working her book of clients are from my days as a stockbroker. I worked for Dean Witter Reynolds as an investment advisor so much of the detail is true to life. It was very rewarding when a fixed income trader in NYC contacted me to tell me how much he enjoyed my novel because it was so true to the way things are done. The stock brokerage pecking order is still going strong; those with the most assets under management get the choice office, assistants and the goodies. The local bank in the novel is based on my dealings with a similar bank and the way their private stock is handled with a market maker.
Gina is a savvy stockbroker on the hunt for a big score that will land her in the top 1% income bracket. Here’s where we differ, she will do anything to get there, even moonlight as a venture capitalist and doing deals off the books. The proceeds are wired into a sheltered off shore retirement account away from the IRS’s prying eyes. Illegal? She’s not worried, money solves any problem. Although I’d never do anything like this, it’s interesting to see how it plays out in the story.
From the onset, you think Gina has it all. As you get to know her, you find out that she has a tight circle of friends, but no husband, no children, not even a pet and a dysfunctional relationship with her widowed mother. Her greed and love of money-making has exacted a toll. She needs to come down a peg and find her humanity and look beyond the closing bell of NYSE. As for me, I’m long time married, with two children, and have a great relationship with my mother. I love to watch the ticker zip by on the stock exchange and love all things money, but I’m not greedy and am happy with the way my life has turned out. As for the belly dancing, it’s all Gina. I don’t belly dance at all.
The novel is set in Old Town Alexandria which is where I happen to live. Many of the scenes are locations that I pass by on a daily basis. And like Gina, I live in an historic house built in the 1850’s and we have similar taste in decorating. One of the most interesting questions I’ve gotten from a reader is where is 606 S. Fairfax Street? This is Gina’s address in my novel. It’s an inside joke, because it’s the address of a lot that I own here in town that is hidden behind a big red gate.
The financial quotes at the beginning of each of my chapters are from a Wall Street 365 day calendar that I wrote. The Wall Street Calendar was my first venture into financial writing. I received a 365 day calendar for Christmas several years ago; it was called “money saving tips.” It was awful! Each time I tore off the page for the next day I’d cringe with the new tidbit of information. Example: to save on toilet paper step on the roll. By flattening, you will save on paper use! At some point I said, “this is so bad, I could write a better one.” And sure enough, the idea stuck. I started working on a smart Wall Street Calendar which if you are paying attention is now put to good use at the beginning of each chapter. My Wall Street 365 day calendar garnered the attention of the publisher of the most the most well regarded financial commentator at the time Lou Rukeyser.
As you can tell, I am very passionate about the stock market and investments. I’m fascinated by the recent Ponzi schemes that have been reported in the front page news. I’ve watched the bank meltdowns with great interest. As a former stockbroker, I’ve met a few embezzlers and worked with several bad brokers who’ve run away with client’s money. It always amazes me that even the rich and mighty get taken in by complicated financial schemes and are so trusting of their financial advisors. I think the time is right for smart, funny, readable financial fiction. Let’s pump up the interest in Financial Thrillers!
Thank you for the opportunity to discuss my journey with you. I hope you enjoy reading The Bloody Mary Club and come away with an appreciation of all things financial!
Cheers! Debbie Dyke, Author, The Bloody Mary Club!
**Everyone who leaves a comment on Debbie’s tour page will be entered in the giveaway! Anyone who purchases their copy of The Bloody Mary Club before November 26 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will get five entries in a drawing to win the following prizes!
1. $10 Amazon gift card
2. Bloody Mary Gift Basket (US only) OR
3. Three winners will receive a copy of The Bloody Mary Club**
So you want to be an author?
Wanting to write a book is a bit like wanting to be a Mom. It looks much more glamorous than it is, there’s lots of fun ways to make it happen and when you get there it’s not at all what you expected!
It’s easy to start writing a book, but believe me, it’s pretty tough to see through. You need to get your bum on that seat every day. Most writers I know think they’re at their best in the morning. Our minds are sharper and more creative. I do my other chores in the afternoon and then I edit at night when I’m not so productive but still able to work. Writing a book is a gargantuan undertaking. The first write, which is usually about one hundred, twenty thousand words is only the first write! Then you edit it again and again and again. Edit your story about twenty times, at this stage because on every re-read; you’ll find things that you missed the time before. Nothing annoys a reader more than finding an inconsistency in a story. It shatters the whole fictional world.
Now, let’s say you really have the story the way you want it. You’ve gone through it so many times; you almost know it by heart. Give yourself a pat on the back. That’s a big deal, a massive achievement. It also means it’s time to find an agent! Agents are great people, really they are – but they’re not magicians. We have to give them a product they can sell. They want you to be the next big thing just as much as you do. But they can’t force a publisher to bite. First off, check the website of the agents you like. Are they taking on new clients? How do they like to be approached – email or letter? Do as they wish. You don’t want to annoy them already! You have to sell yourself to the agent and (s)he has to believe in you before (s)he can go out and sell you into the market. It’ll probably take several attempts to get an agent you like, but hang in there, you’ll get one.
Next step is to find a publisher. There’s a huge amount of luck in finding the right publishing deal. You need to have the right type of book at the right time. Many writers fall at this hurdle. I’ve had my share of rejection letters. Every professional writer has. In the case of Wellesley Wives and the New England Trilogy, I resorted to making a deal with God! I promised that I’d give 10% of my royalties to a local charity if I got a book deal. Within a few weeks of agreeing to link up with www.fobh.org I signed a book deal with The Writers coffee Shop. Was it God? I think so.
So now, either through grit and determination, luck or God, you have a publisher. The first thing they’ll want you to do, is re-write the book according to their tastes. Remember all the editing you did at home? Well, you’re going to do that again under their in-house editorial team. You can’t be precious about your work. If they want to drop the main character and get the bad guy elevated to high standing, you ask how high. You need your publisher to love you. The manuscript will bounce back and forth between you and them maybe fifteen times. While they have it, it’s time to think about writing book two! It will take a year for your first book to actually be published and by then, both your agent and your publishing house will want to see final drafts of your second offering. This comes at just the same time as your marketing for book one heats up. You need to eat, sleep, and drink your (first) book at this stage. It’s a massive, all consuming project. Give up your social life, sleep, everything. If you don’t do the marketing, your little book will not get out and into the world.
Quite simply there are too many books being written at the moment. It’s a big job to get one up and out – just like a baby. But ask any new Mom would she do it all again, and the answer is almost always YES.
Herewith, I’ve outlined the enormous work load involved but believe me, nothing beats holding your book in your hands or getting an email from a fan. Go for it, write your story. Don’t let anything or anybody say you can’t because you can!
I look forward to reading your book.
Lots of love,
Thanks to Kristen Wolf for sharing her thoughts on having The Way as a trilogy! Please also visit her tour page at CLP Blog Tours for more information and a giveaway!
I’ve always envisioned THE WAY as taking place in multiple time periods. In fact, when I first started writing the book, I alternated the story of Anna/Jesus in ancient Palestine with a modern-day story involving a female archeologist.
By the time I was about halfway through, both stories began to take on such lives of their own that each really demanded their own time—their own book. So, rather than conjoining the stories, I divided them, with the intention of writing the more modern-day story as the second book in the trilogy. In that book, we would learn a lot more about the history and life-cycle of The Way and its supporters.
In the third book, I intend to bring the practice of The Way from the modern day and into the future. By doing so, I hope to offer an alternative vision not only of spirituality, but also of the future shape and nature of our world.
Really, the ideas behind the practice of The Way are eternal, in a sense, given that they reflect life itself. So to me it seems very natural, and exciting! to contemplate exploring how these philosophies might impact our world throughout time.
**Everyone who leaves a comment on Kristen’s tour page will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of The Way before August 20 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will get five bonus entries.**
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