Natalina has always been fascinated by the written word and by the age of eight she was already trying her hand in poetry and short creative essays. Alongside her fascination for words and storytelling, she has always been curious and amazed with the diversity of the human race. Her journey into publication was one of a lifetime and she often acknowledges that she has been in training for this career her whole life.
Natalina’s experiences and travels have given her the insight that now translates into the worlds she builds within her books. Her contemporary romances show signs of her love for world building where the setting often becomes an important part of the plot. In Desert Jewel, her first published romantic fantasy, Natalina used her familiarity with Africa and Afro-Brazilian mythology to build a world that is part-real, part-fantasy, wholly magical.
As a young woman Natalina could not get enough of fairy-tales (even the gruesome ones) and as an adult she continued to feed that love by getting lost in many a fantasy book and movie. Lavender Fields was inspired by that love of magic, fantasy and the constant curiosity of asking herself, “What if?”
Desert Jewel was a finalist for the Maine Romance Writers 2017 Strut Your Stuff contest in the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Paranormal category and has received many glowing reviews both on Amazon and Goodreads.
In March 2017 she was invited to be part of a paranormal/fantasy/sci-fi romance panel during the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville, Virginia. She had the great honor of sharing the panel with the great Pintip Dunn and Margaret Locke.
A linguist by profession, Mrs. Reis enjoys using language as an integral part of the plot, infusing even totally fabricated worlds with an aura of believability.
Natalina was born and raised in Portugal. She moved to the U.S. as an adult after marrying an American sailor. A lifetime learner, she has earned three degrees, speaks five languages, and dreams of learning a non-alphabetical language sometime in the future. She lives in Virginia where she teaches English as a Second Language to elementary school children, a job that challenges her creative and language skills on a daily base.
Natalina’s dream is to be able to dedicate herself full time to her writing and always be true to her muse. She doesn’t believe you can have too many books or too much coffee. Art and dance make her happy and she is pretty sure she could survive on lobster and bananas alone. When she is not writing or stressing over lesson plans, she shares her life with her husband and two adult sons.
I’ve always been a Johnny-come-lately in most things. Writing was not any different. I started writing when I was still in elementary and have never stopped. I started with poetry and evolved into short stories and then novellas.
When I was twenty-three I moved from my native country to the United States. I had been writing in English for a few years, experimenting with fantasy short stories all through college, dipping my toes in a foreign language that somehow had always felt natural to me.
Other than my husband I didn’t know anyone in this new country and was alone a lot. So, I did what I had always done when I was lonely and/or stressed—I turned to reading and writing. By the time my first son was born I had written a full-length fantasy/paranormal/historical romance. Yes, you read it right. The novel—set in Scotland—was one third historical fiction, one third fantasy with paranormal elements, and a third romance. I had no clue about the publishing world, but I asked questions, researched, found The Writer’s Market in my local library, and got busy with the business of being rejected by every agent and publisher in the country.
Being a navy wife meant moving a lot. We moved across the ocean again, this time to Scotland where I wrote my second full-length novel. This time a contemporary romance set in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo where I had lived as a teenager. Once again I braced myself for the barrage of rejections that soon followed my submissions.
I didn’t give up. Writing that is. I had sort of given up on being published and assumed that the fact I was writing in a foreign language would never allow me to be the writer I knew I had in me. But I kept on writing. After we moved back to the States, I wrote another novel. This time a paranormal romance set in Scotland. Can you see a pattern?
Then life got crazy with kids turning into obnoxious teenagers that required all my attention and sanity, the decision to go back to college for a second degree. Then a third, closely followed by a teaching career. I was still writing but the novels were slow coming. I wrote a few but never finished them.
A little over two years ago, after a very rough patch in my life, I realized I had moved away from the three things I loved the most—reading, writing, and dancing—and decided to refocus. I joined a couple book clubs, a Zumba class, and began writing again. One of my reading clubs led me to a small local writing online group. At the time we wrote flash fiction to prompts posted weekly by our site admin. I had never been read by anyone other than my teachers and all the publishers and agents who had rejected my novels. Even though a nervous-wreck every time my fellow writers read one of my stories, I found that it was also extremely rewarding and helpful. When they loved it, it made me soar. And when they criticized my writing, it helped me grow.
Enter National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I was a writing fool that month but by the last day of November I had a complete, spanking new romance. I’m not going to lie. It needed a lot of work but I was excited to have a viable manuscript in my hands. Now what was I going to do with it?
After many edits and revisions, the biggest hurdle was to be brave enough to send it out. My past experiences were not happy or positive ones and my doubts as a second language learner still crippled me. So when I got wind of this Twitter event called Pitmad, I threw caution to the wind and thought, “Why not? Nothing to lose.” Soon after I had a publishing contract.
Moral of the story? Don’t ever let your fears cripple you to the point of inaction. Challenge yourself and let the chips fall where they may. What’s the worst that can happen?
I’m far and foremost a romance writer, but I love trying new sub-genres from fantasy to suspense. One of my favorite sub-genres—both in writing and reading—is romantic comedy/chick lit. A few years ago I accidently stumbled upon an author I had never heard of. I fell in love with the simplistic, happy cover and decided to read it. Sophie Kinsella quickly became one of my favorite authors, one I would love to meet—even though I’m pretty certain I would freeze and say nothing.
I can only hope that my writing and my stories bring my readers the same amount of joy and pleasure, Kinsella’s stories bring me.
Loved You Always
The last person Emily Rose expects to reconnect with is Jeremy Peter, her childhood best friend. When Jem walks back into her perfectly settled life, Em puts up her guard. She has no desire to place her heart on the line again.
She’s moved on and is in a serious relationship with someone else. But the universe—and her kooky sister—have other ideas.
Thrust into an unexpected and dangerous adventure together, Em is forced to confront her unresolved feelings for Jem and decide what kind of life she really wants. That is if they both survive.
Publishing Author Pages:https://www.hottreepublishing.com/natalina-reis
Where to Buy Loved You Always
I am an Australian author who writes contemporary women's fiction including chick lit and romance.
I have written all my life especially as a child when I loved to write short stories and poetry. At University I studied Creative Writing as part of my Communication degree. Afterwards when I was busy working in public relations I didn't write for pleasure for quite a few years although I wrote many media releases, brochures and newsletters. (And I still do in my day-job!)
When I began to write again I noticed a trend - writing dark unhappy stories made me unhappy. So I made a decision to write a novel with a happy ending and I have been writing happy stories ever since.
I am the author of six stand alone novels and novellas including Mr. Right and Other Mongrels and Hearts Afire and the Upper Crust Series. Many of my novels focus on an Australian characters meeting and visiting US characters.
I live on Sydney's Northern Beaches with my husband and daughter where I enjoy drinking copious amounts of coffee and long walks on the beach.
Every writer’s journey is different. I feel like an old hand now. I’ve been writing for ten years seriously (I always wrote but ten years ago I took a year-long course and haven’t stopped since) and I’ve been published for five.
As a result, it feels like I’ve had a lot of advice and a lot of time to sift through it all to determine what does and doesn’t work for me. That’s not to say that I can’t learn new things but I already know for example that I’m a plotser – I start writing and partially plot, that I prefer writing the first draft to any other part of the process, that getting up at 5am doesn’t increase my productivity and that handwriting journal pages is a waste of time because I can’t read my own writing.
Trial and error have taught me these things and I think everyone should try new techniques every so often to see if there are any new ideas out there for them, or even just to be sure they have the best methods in process for them.
I’m an indie author and to be honest most of the authors I know in real life are traditionally published. I’ve been really lucky to be part of a wonderful real life writing group for over ten years. This writing group, which evolved out of that writing course I mentioned earlier, was great for me because they have kept me accountable, read my stories, helped bounce ideas around and cheered me on when I wanted to give up.
What I noticed however, as time went on, was that at some point, despite all of us being on the same journey, our paths diverged. A couple of authors in the group had one book published and essentially stopped writing, a couple of other people went on to do Masters and Doctoral degrees in creative writing which changed their focus, another of my friends is traditionally published and writes one novel a year.
For me as an indie author who predominantly sells ebook, in order to gain any traction, I need to write and publish several books a year. I need volume and to get that I’ve learned I need to be accountable.
In doing some online research about productivity I discovered that successful writers have a routine and that they know which times of day they are most productive. That was big for me. Now that I know when I write best I try and leave that time free to write. Everyone is different I’ve met writers who are morning people and writers who are night owls – you need to know what works for you.
Another thing I worked out is that if I write a thousand words a day at the end of the year I will have 365,000 words. Not exactly revolutionary thinking I now but for me it was a bit of a lightbulb moment. Even if I only write 300,000 (so I get 65 days off) that is still five books.
Having determined that would be a good idea for me to do that I made two other decisions; one was that I needed support to succeed (a community of people cheering me on) and secondly I probably wasn’t alone in wanting support for my writing goals. I also knew that writers use Facebook effectively to build community and share ideas so I decided to set up the #1000wordsaday Facebook group at the start of 2016.
We now have just shy of 300 members made up from writers from all over the world – lots from Australia like me, but from all over. It’s a community of people supporting each others journey and it includes all the active members of my real life writing group as well.
So, I suggest that if like me you need support you might like to find a real life writers group or join an online one like mine.
Any Way You Build It
When single-mother Sarah pulls up in front of the house her aunt left her she has three goals; help her kids be happy and healthy, find a job and stay away from men. The last year has been a hellish roller-coaster and now she needs to create a stable life where everyone, including her, has their two-feet firmly planted on the ground. What she didn’t count on was a sexy neighbour who made keeping her focus and her balance way too hard.
Todd has two rules, never date locals and even more importantly never date women with kids. Growing up with his own mother and a revolving door of ineffectual step-fathers Todd has vowed never to put anyone in that position. He’s perfectly happy living his life with his Peter-pan syndrome undisturbed – until Sarah and her two adorable children move in across the street and turn everything upside down.
Todd isn’t the kind of guy who can stand back when someone needs help and Sarah clearly needs a lot. When Sarah gets injured Todd has no choice to step in and be a good neighbour who lends a hand, because he’s definitely not helping her because he likes her, after all that would be crazy.
Opportunity, proximity and attraction mean two neighbors determined to remain single have quite a struggle on their hands.
If you like tree houses, indoor camp outs and shameless flirting you’ll love Any Way You Build It.
Any Way You Plan It is Book 6 in The Upper Crust Series
Book 1 – Any Way You Slice It
Book 2 – Any Way You Dream It
Book 3 – Any Way You Fight It.
Book 4 – Any Way You Plan It
Book 5 – Any Way You Want It
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Monique-McDonell/e/B0086R9S2U/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
Where to Buy Any Way to Build It
The Best Books You’ve Never Read
Before I was a writer, I was a reader. Somewhere in between, I also became a librarian. As such, I tend to view the process of book production with a blended vantage point. It’s difficult for me to address writing topics without talking about the fine art of reading— and every writer should be a reader too. It is from this triple-perspective that I have observed a curious phenomenon that will flip your brain inside out. Ready?
Some of my favorite books over the last decade were not published by Big Five publishers! Of course, I’ve also enjoyed many titles from each of the Big Five. But what I was surprised to discover is that some of the gems I’ve found in indie publishing had a more lasting impression on me than many of the mainstream titles I’ve read. How can that be given all the taboos of independent and small press publishing? If these books are so good, why weren’t they picked up by one of the big guys? Here are my own findings:
The digital age of do-it-yourself publishing opened the floodgates of amateur writers who have little use for the likes of “editing” or “rewrites” and who just want to pull up their name on Amazon. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being a hobbyist, and why not wrack up a few sales if you can? It does create a tricky process for readers to find the good stuff, though. It’s a lot like looking for a needle in a stack of other needles that are poorly constructed and riddled with grammatical errors. But then you find something that makes all those bandaged fingers worth it.
The Good Stuff:
The good ones are difficult to tell apart from mainstream titles. Attributes include quality covers, good structural development, smooth composition without grammatical errors, and proper formatting. Each of those attributes was probably the work of a different person, because good books aren’t the result of just one person’s effort. There are various editors and artists all along the process. In short, the good stuff is good stuff because it’s good! …stuff.
And what? The Author Just Doesn’t Like Money or Something?
I’ve discovered a number of independent and small press authors who turned down big house contracts for numerous reasons including artistic differences or loss of creative control. It really depends on the author’s goals. Big houses will offer wider distribution and probably increased sales. But if that means the project has to submit to another person’s vision, the author may feel it’s not worth it. There is also the author’s timetable to consider. Even authors who’ve had multiple titles on the best-seller lists will tell how difficult it was to get their first book published. Most had to shop their manuscripts for years and weather rejections upon rejections before they finally got a nibble. That kind of endurance race isn’t for everybody. And, frankly, some titles do better independently. Why?
It’s the nature of industry. Large producers move more and more toward producing content with the lowest common denominator. They’re looking for stories with a wide audience that will probably cover multiple demographics. This is because publishing is a business, and a business is reliant on income, and income is generated by sales. That doesn’t mean they don’t publish some really good stuff. But it does mean that they’re not as interested in niche markets and quirky subcultures. If that’s the best audience for a particular book, then it might not be the worst thing to go with a more independent model. While there may not be as many sales, the author sees a higher percentage of the profits, and it may not take as many sales to make the author happy as it would to appease Random House or HarperCollins. If your story doesn’t have mass appeal, then maybe you don’t need mass production.
So, Why Were Those Stories So Good?
Because they didn’t have mass appeal. They weren’t intended for the lowest common denominator. They struck a very specific chord in my heart. And they also had the power to surprise me. The downside of being an avid reader is that you become harder and harder to please. You become too familiar with the established trends, and you need something a little more experimental. We’ve seen this phenomenon with music. The first decade of the new millennium was thick with industry-produced music that didn’t have the iconic identity of the previous decades. Now indie music is the mark of trendsetters, and even big labels frequently try to emulate a home-spun sound. People are looking for something different.
To get you started, here’s a few independent and small press offerings I’ve enjoyed:
How to Break an Evil Curse by Laura Morrison Humorous Fantasy. If you’re interested in some light-hearted, quirky adventure that’s just fun to read, you won’t go wrong with this one. Witty narrative and loveable characters stylistically remind me of William Goldman’s The Princess Bride, and her plucky heroine wouldn’t be out of place in the likes of the more recent Disney movies. It was originally released as a serial, but now you can read it in its entirety. You’ll have to get an account with the site that hosts her, but it’s free so stop complaining! And you might even find some other serials to addict you while you’re there.
Coffee Cup Tales by Richard Keller Quirky Short Stories. I bought this one at a conference. I was probably drawn to it because I used to be a barista. I wound up carrying it in my computer bag, and I’d pull it out whenever I had to wait somewhere. It was a fantastic time-killer, and you always look more intelligent when people scheduled to meet up with you discover you reading a book. (The effect doesn’t carry over to smart phones.) The stories are clever and diverse; you never know what to expect from the next one.
Pursuit of a King by Candace Christine Little Middle Grade Allegorical Fantasy. If you’ve been missing Narnia lately, this may be a good book for you. It’s wildly imaginative, well told and full of surprises. Like the works of C. S. Lewis, this book contains Christian symbolism and allegory that has been woven into an enchanting otherworld with exotic dangers and delights. The plot takes several twists and turns, and doesn’t end up quite where I expected it to.
Wallflower Blooming by Amy Rivers Political Thriller. Okay, it’s not really a political thriller. But the introverted protagonist might feel like that’s what she’s gotten herself into. I met the author at a conference, and she’d just gotten a piece accepted into a volume of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. This book is similar in that it’s a feel-good book with a happy ending. Sorry for the spoilers. But sometimes, what you’re in the mood for is a happy ending, and this book is a great place to start because it’s the first of a trilogy. That means three happy endings for those of you doing the math. But I’ve also had opportunity to read some of the author’s darker writings, and I can’t wait to see those titles in full jagged bloom as well.
These are four vastly different titles whose only commonality is that I happened to enjoy them, and I didn’t discover them through mainstream channels. Maybe some of these aren’t quite for you, but something else might be. That’s what niche markets are all about. I still love my favorite bestselling authors, and I’m not putting out some obnoxious call to boycott the big presses. All I’m saying is, leave some room on your book lists for the indie titles.
You’ll be glad you did.
David Sharp is a noisy librarian. He has written three plays which have been produced six time altogether. He is a regular contributor to The Writing Bug, and he has written a novel for which he is seeking representation as well as numerous short works.
I love having a family that wants to do things together. For Spring Break this year, my "keep it simple" mother suggested that we take the kids to Disneyworld. HAHA! There's nothing even remotely simple about Disneyworld. Just thinking about it gave me nightmares for months. That being said, my immediate reaction was "YES!" and we booked the condo a year ago.
In the weeks leading up to the trip, reality set in and I realized I was going to have to do some serious planning. Two kids, my mother, father, sister and me....we were going to need some direction. The nice thing about staying in a condo is that we cooked most of our meals, taking away the stress of eating out every night. We learned many things during this trip. We learned about how to use (and not to use) Disney's FastPass program. We learned that Universal Studios Express Passes are worth every damned penny. We learned that bean burritos are, indeed, the best picnic lunch. And, most of all, we learned that we still love being with one another.
We only nearly killed each other twice. Pretty good for a seven day vacation. My mom and I rode way more rides than we ever thought we could (though we expressly avoided rides with the word "hurl" in the title). It was the vacation of a lifetime! And one that I can now safely check off my list of things I'm only ever doing once.
Spring Break. Check. Now, on to summer vacation!
(PS I'm working on my "how to survive Spring Break with your parents and your kids" as we speak!)
Victoria Cooke grew up in the city of Manchester before crossing the Pennines in pursuit of her career in education. She now lives in Huddersfield with her husband and two young daughters and when she’s not at home writing by the fire with a cup of coffee in hand, she loves working out in the gym and travelling. Victoria was first published at the tender age of eight by her classroom teacher in year three who saw potential in a six page story about an invisible man. Since then she’s always had a passion for reading and writing, undertaking several writers’ courses before completing her first novel in 2016.
I was always called ‘imaginative’ as a child. I wasn’t really sure what that meant at the time, but I grew to understand that having an imagination, brightened life up a little. From a young age my mother took me to the library and my love of books grew. It wasn’t until I hit my late twenties that I actually thought writing a novel was something I’d like to do, at the time I was reading lots of books because I owned a very quiet boutique and it was a way to pass the time. I particularly enjoyed romantic comedy books, since it’s a genre that’s light and easy to read. I read a lot of Lindsey Kelk and Sophie Kinsella books and soon found myself daydreaming about my own story ideas.
I actually started writing back then and completed about half of a novel before my laptop was stolen and of course, I hadn’t backed it up. I left the idea of writing behind for a while since I couldn’t face trying to replicate what I’d lost. In actual fact, looking back, I was probably quite naïve about my ability. It wasn't until I approached the end of my maternity leave after my second child that I returned to the idea of writing. This time I read lots of blogs about writing, signed up to writing courses and practiced. I was in a much better position to begin my debut novel.
There were many occasions whereby I doubted my ability, I had sleepless nights, worrying about the fact I’d probably just written a load of rubbish and wasted my time. My driving force was the fact that I’d told family and friends that I’d started writing a novel. I was driven to finish it because I didn’t want people to see me give up again.
I did invest in a manuscript critique, I wasn’t ready to let friends or family read my work because I had no idea how it fared on the scale of decent to dreadful. I knew a good critique would point out strengths and weaknesses in my work, giving me an opportunity to improve the manuscript. I approached Katherine Trail at KT Editing services who provided my with a ten page summary of my work, she pointed out what I did well and what to work on. I learned a lot from this process and am thankful to Katherine for her diplomatic assessment, the way she articulated her thoughts and the fact she always pointed me towards a solution for any problems she found.
My plan was always to approach a publisher, there aren’t many publishers that will accept unsolicited manuscripts, but my thoughts were to try the few that did, and then approach agents if it came t nothing. HQDigital came highly recommended by other authors I’d come to know through online book groups. HQ are particularly well known for their gorgeous cover designs, they’re also a digital imprint of Harper Collins so a quite a bit player in the book market. I was thrilled to discover I could send a synopsis, cover letter and three chapters of my manuscript via email without an agent. I wasn’t expecting to hear anything back for a while, and to be honest, I wasn’t hopeful of a deal. I was more hoping that the rejection email that I was expecting may provide me with a glimpse of why my story wasn’t right. Needless to say, I was shocked when only a few days later the full manuscript was requested. That gave me hope, even if it was rejected at that point I knew the chapters I’d sent had caught their eye and as such there was something there to improve.
It was another two days before I got the call to offer me a one book deal. I was ecstatic, shocked and relieved.
My book ‘The Secret to Falling in Love’ was published worldwide in ebook format on the 9th of February 2017.
The Secret to Falling in Love
Status Update: I’m going offline for a while… Wish me luck! xx
Lifestyle journalist and thirty-something singleton Melissa hashtags, insta's and snapchats her supposedly fabulous life on every social media platform there is.
That is until she wakes up on her birthday, another year older and still alone, wondering if for all her internet dates, love really can be found online? The challenge: go technology free for a whole month!
Forced to confront the reality of her life without its perfect filters, Melissa knows she needs to make some changes. But when she bumps into not one, but two gorgeous men, without the use of an app, she believes there could be hope for love offline!
If only there was a way to choose the right guy for her…
About the author:
June was born in June and she always loved the moon. She comes from Slovenia, a country which got its independence almost three decades ago.
She studied economics, and quickly realised she hated it. Afterwards, she found herself working in a mainly male-dominated businesses; at first in automotive and later steel products. She can choose the best steel for your project, but don't, please don't, ask her which lipstick brand you should use.
She started to write in high school and was criticised by her teacher. Stubborn as she is, that didn't stop her. Under different pen names, she had stories published in magazines, and then went on to publish three books.
After having two children, and learning that her second child has autism, she married their father and carried on working. Work and family life left her with little free time. But the desire to write didn't die. When life somehow sorted itself out, she decided to write a novel in English and her first submissions were rejected...
For what happened then, re-read the third paragraph, second sentence above...
I was always a reader. Actually I’m lying. I became a reader after I learned to read – and boy my mum had a hard time to teach me how to read.
I loved to be read to, but as a child, I just didn’t want to learn how to read. As I had (and hopefully still have) a good memory, it had got me through the first year of school. I remembered everything my mum had read to me. When my teacher and my mum had figured out what was going on my mum started to bribe me – she realised that was the only possibility to get me reading.
Well, I can imagine that not so many years later she was sorry that she did as I became a 'book eater'. Although at that time our libraries’ policy was ‘you could only borrow three books at one time’ – I was privileged so I could take home more. At one time, I remember I took home two big bags.
It might come as a surprise, but as a child I didn’t even think about becoming a writer. Nope. I wanted to be a veterinarian or a ship’s captain, but you can bet I’m neither.
My so called ‘writing career’ began in my high school. I have written short stories before, but never published them. Of course I’ve kept my journals. I still have them in the attic. But when I was in high school my Slovene (my mother’s tongue) teacher hated everything I had written. But that didn’t put me down. After a while, when I was finally fed up with her criticism, I decided I needed a second opinion from people that didn’t know me. So, by using several different pen-names I started to send my short stories to the magazines and got them published and reviewed, with very positive reviews. You can imagine I didn’t care about my teacher’s opinion anymore.
Through the magazines my Slovenian publisher found me, and they published three books at the beginning of the millennium.
However, real life caught up with me. Not quite positive experiences with the publisher, starting a family, changing my ‘day job’ career, learning that my second child has Autism, … well, I have been putting all my effort taking care of all this, and putting my writing career to the side.
Approximately a decade later, when some of the above things had somehow sorted themselves out, my always vivid imagination exploded and I was unable to restrain it. ‘Voices’ in my head were (and are still) just too loud and the stories they told and are telling, wanted to be written on paper.
And it was actually funny. The characters in my head wanted me to try and write in English – which I learned as a second language for eight years and I use it daily because of my ‘day job’. So I said to myself, why not. So I sat down and I wrote my first novel in English, put it through the editing and proof-reading process and then submitted.
I would be lying if I’d tell you that my ‘debut’ novel was accepted right away. It wasn’t. I had my fair share of rejections, but then – it happened. I got a positive feed-back and my first novel was published by Safkhet Publishing, which – sadly – last year closed their doors.
When that happened I decided, at least for the time being, I’m not going to look for another publisher. Instead of that I sailed into the world of self-publishing. It’s fun. I’m in control of everything, but it is definitely a lot of hard work.
I republished my first novel under its initial title ‘All That the Heart Desires’ in June 2016. My second novel ‘Torn Between Two Worlds’ was published on 1st February 2017.
My WIP - third novel ‘At the End of the Summer’ is currently with my editor and beta reader. I think that it will be finished and polished at the end of April 2017. I haven’t decided yet whether or not to submit it to some publishers. This is still something I have to clear up with myself. However I will be published, just the publication date that is not as yet set …
My fourth novel – WIP IV. – is - not so patiently – waiting to be written down… Gosh, all the mess in my head…
In all this time while in ‘publishing’ business, I’ve met virtually through Facebook and Facebook groups a numerous number of authors I hope someday I’m going to meet in person too. I just need to find time and attend some authors’ conferences and soon.
Why there are only twenty-four hours in a day?...
Caught Between Two Worlds
A vacation on the shores of the Egyptian Red Sea was Veronica Blake’s long lasting dream.
But dreams turn into nightmares. Controlling boyfriend Peter complains and embarrasses her frequently in front of everybody from the start. A trip to the ancient sites turns into a disaster. But the salvation comes in the form of the mysterious Nicholas, a blue-eyed man she remembers from the hotel.
Deep in the Sahara desert Veronica encounters a totally different way of life. She desperately seeks the truth about everything that happened. Alone and afraid of her new written future she finds consolation with Nicholas, the only man she’s left to trust.
Will she ever accept the truth she seeks, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Will she be able to find a way back to the life she was forced to leave behind?
Where to Buy Caught Between Two Worlds
A writer since childhood, Diane Ingram Fromme's experience spans her Stanford University communication degree, training and facilitation work, articles and essays. A native New Yorker, Diane now writes from her cozy home in Colorado, where she lives with her husband, teen daughter, and a spunky canine. Diane is fortunate to see and keep in touch with her adult stepchildren. Join the private Facebook community to discuss real joys and challenges we have when supporting grieving children:
Stepparenting the Grieving Child
Writing: it's in our weave
I believe that writing has always been part of the fiber of my makeup. This weave started with the blessing of very early reading ability, and growing passion for reading. I carted around my own copy of Alice in Wonderland by age six, a coveted gift from my parents so that they didn't have to run me back to the library yet again to renew the book.
In our educational system, real creative writing doesn't begin until about third grade. Mrs. Arnold represented a chain of teachers who recognized my reading and writing abilities and believed in me. Somewhere I may still have a copy of my essay, "The Rose," its lined paper stamped by Mrs. Arnold with the honorable version of a large red "A."
My sixth-grade teacher, Miss Mill, pushed me to read and analyze Lord of the Flies for the class instead of the regular sixth-grade fare. With its graphic depictions of chaos and cruelty among its young male characters, what a terrifying yet addicting exposure that book was to the craft of writing. In contrast to this study of the consequences of anarchy, I also fell in love with The Phantom Tollbooth, a whimsical, fantasy adventure that provides a creative cloak for the importance of education and appreciation for everyday life.
In high school, English teacher Mr. Frisch spurred community among his readers and writers by organizing social events to discuss our work outside of the classroom. This symbolized my first exposure to the idea of a critique group, or what today’s high school students would call "peer feedback." Fast forward to the last decade: When I began writing Stepparenting the Grieving Child, Fort Collins author and writing coach Teresa Funke suggested I form a critique group with several other relatively new writers. Our group of four, now expanded to eight, just celebrated our 11th anniversary of giving each other positive yet productive feedback on all types of writing.
Our Broad Horizons writers group has been fundamental in providing thoughtful commentary along with the encouragement to carry on with an important work. While feedback can sometimes be paralyzing, I learned to express some boundaries to my fellow writers. For example, I would specify when I wanted them to identify a defensive tone, but I wouldn't always accept recommendations to change content. I also learned that I didn't need to incorporate every single comment into my manuscript in order to move forward. Your regional writers’ associations, such as Northern Colorado Writers in Fort Collins, CO, have the ability to connect you with other writers in critique groups and I highly recommend joining one.
Early in the process of writing the book, I submitted a personal essay for the anthology Pulse of the River (Johnson Books 2006). The essay illuminated how my visits to the Poudre River in northern Colorado helped me cope with the ebbs and flows of stepfamily life. “The Mirror in the River” was accepted with some help from author Laura Pritchett, and represented my first published work, literally getting my feet wet in the publishing industry. By the way, I would not have known about this opportunity were it not for networking with other writers and writing coaches in my area.
Publishing my first piece provided a magical momentum for my writing and publishing, and while plugging away at compiling Stepparenting the Grieving Child, I continued to submit and publish other personal essays and articles in local, regional, and international publications. I also continued to read, with a focus on memoir, spiritual nonfiction, and historical fiction and nonfiction. Notable adult reads include everything by Anne Lamott and Amy Tan, as well as Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, the equally gripping Climb, by Anatoli Boukreev and G. Weston DeWalt, and The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. The first two authors I mentioned would be my top picks for seeing speak in person, because I’ve followed their writings almost as closely as if their characters were my own family. They write about real people and their imperfect worlds and emotions, which has been a comfort to me in my stepfamily living. One of my wishes is about to come true: Anne Lamott is speaking in my hometown in April!
While I easily doubled the average amount of years to write my first book, clocking in at about twelve years, I have no regrets. The memoir portions of the book reflect personal experience with supporting grieving children, which is delicate subject matter that benefited from occasional time on the shelf. Shelf time equaled time for me to mature in my perspectives, and time for the fabric of the book to lay just right. My writing weave compels me forward to think about new interview-based material that will continue to support grieving children and stepfamilies.
Stepparenting the Grieving Child
In Stepparenting the Grieving Child, Diane Ingram Fromme shares the assumptions and presumptions, steps and missteps that occurred within her own stepfamily. Diane faced the key challenges any new stepparent to grieving children experiences, including helplessness to know how and when to offer comfort, awkwardness to identify the times and ways to memorialize the lost parent, and outsider blues--not only feeling uncomfortable in her own home but also in her own skin.
With personal examples, insights from other stepfamilies, and knowledge gained through experience and research, Diane provides information relevant to anyone who supports grieving children. Diane's straightforward approach will help you:
Facebook author page: Diane Ingram Fromme
Facebook community group: Stepparenting the Grieving Child
Twitter Profile: https://twitter.com/Diane_Fromme
Where to Buy Stepparenting the Grieving Child
When I was eight years old, I was diagnosed with a visual impairment that would require surgery and massive doses of oral steroids to save my eyesight. Legally blind, I was suddenly unable to participate in PE (depth perception is sort of important, especially in sports). The result: I weighed 100 pounds by the time I was in third grade.
From that time to this, I’ve struggled with my weight. I remember feeling downright cute in high school when I’d managed to get down to a size 18. My choir uniform never did fit quite right. And back then, finding a “plus size” prom gown in a small town was next to impossible.
As an added complication, I developed a pretty formidable case of generalized anxiety and I love me some comfort food. New Mexico born and raised (and with a Mexican grandmother who made the best enchiladas on earth – as well as everything else), I crave beans and rice and chips and tortillas. Yum. As you may have guessed, none of these foods figures very heavily into a low-carb, low-calorie diet.
When you’re overweight, you sometimes feel like you have to hide. You hide behind baggy clothes, mistakenly thinking they make you look slimmer. You stay out of public places, or you put yourself in a corner, trying to stay mostly invisible. It can be a lonely life. Luckily for me, I’m an extrovert and I love people. It’s hard to become a recluse under those conditions. But I’m definitely human and I’ve had my feelings hurt by strangers and loved ones alike. Being told I have a great personality and then having a loved one explain to me that that’s the kind of compliment people get when they’re fat. (Yep, that happened).
It wasn’t until last year, really, that I finally came to a place in my life where I decided that I was ready to get healthy. Not thin, mind you, just healthy. I have kids and I want to grow old with them. Now, in some cases, it takes a health crisis to prompt this kind of decision. Not so in my case. I’ve always been pretty healthy, except the vision problems of course. And I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve been able to make progress. But losing weight, for me, has been all about attitude.
It hasn’t been easy. Some days I look in the mirror, and I feel GOOD. Some days, I retreat to my office with a box of cookies (that I know I shouldn’t have bought and definitely shouldn’t have with me, alone, in my office). Sometimes I am strong, reaching for a bowl of fruit instead of a bag of chips. But sometimes I falter, and in pretty spectacular fashion.
I had a conversation yesterday that put me on the defensive and made me feel bad about myself. Today, I’m making a choice. Two choices, actually. First, I will accept myself just as I am. I may never be thin. But I can be healthy and happy. If thin happens, great. If not, I think I’m pretty stinking awesome (yay for self-affirmations!). Second, I’m redoubling my efforts to be mindful of the words I speak. It’s so easy to say something that is unintentionally hurtful or demoralizing and, quite frankly, we get enough of that crap. I don’t need to add to the pot. Who’s with me?
Sarah Reichert (S. E. Reichert) is a writer, novelist, poet, and blogger. She is a member of Northern Colorado Writers, Wyoming Writers, Inc., and a member of The Romance Writers of America. She is the author of Fixing Destiny, Finding Destiny, and Fighting Destiny a series of paranormal romances set in Maine. Her work has been featured in The Fort Collins Coloradoan, Haunted Waters Press, Tuliptree Publishing’s 100-Word Dash, and Sunrise Summits: A Poetry Anthology. She has blogged for The Writing Bug and the Be True Be Love website. She plans to debut her own blog this summer tentatively titled “The Beautiful Stuff”. Reichert lives in Fort Collins with her family.
We all begin somewhere, usually not having a clue where we will go or what will become of the quick flash of light that is our human existence.
When I began writing, some time in the fifth grade, I didn’t understand what I was doing. I only knew that ideas were in me and they needed to get out. Post-it notes, notebooks, floppy disks full of ideas and characters, poetry, essays, thoughts that occurred to me randomly or stewed in my brain for months, all cumulated into boxes and files of thought.
Still, I never considered myself a writer.
I just had ‘stories’. I only ‘dabbled’. I was a girl who tended towards depressive thought and knew I felt better when I wrote. I daydreamed about different lives, different people, and how they would move through the world. They were only stories, nothing fantastical or significant.
When I moved from Wyoming to Oregon, to California, and finally to Colorado, my words moved with me. I would occasionally pull out each page like a handmade ornament, re-reading and losing myself in my words. I remembered what was happening in my life at the time I wrote them, then I’d carefully put them back.
After the birth of my first daughter, and deciding that even though it was a financial hit, I’d much rather spend my days with my greatest creation than putting up with cranky adults, I found a different kind rhythm to life. I gained moments in the day that I could explore my writing.
I started to write more in depth and longer stories as the characters in my life fleshed out from my own experiences and failures. My writing became more interesting; it became more complex as my life did. It evolved.
Soon, I was cramming in word counts during nap times and typing madly away in the car during preschool, until, little by little, paragraph at a time, I had a book. A book I’d written. A beginning, a middle, and an end, filled with characters that I loved and cared about.
Only then did I wonder: Could it be that I was a writer? Is that what it meant? That my “stories” were actually part of my identity? That maybe I could pull out the boxes of secret thoughts and see that I had always been a writer?
Being self aware as a writer didn’t happen over night for me. Most artists understand who they are early on, but I never thought enough of myself to believe I possessed any kind of mad-genius creativity. I only knew the words burned inside and I wasn’t happy until I pulled them out.
Along my journey, inspirations came from all over. The books and writers I loved (Jane Austen, Emily Dickenson, Lord Byron, Shelly, Whitman, Charlotte Bronte, Nora Roberts, Stephen King, Preston Child, Paulo Coelho, Jean M. Auel, Anne Rice, Robin McKinley, Connie Willis, Neil Giaman), quirky stories and complex characters pulled from my own life, from movies, books, and even the news, all gave me fodder for creating my own worlds. Where one thought travels, more tag along behind.
Writing is a tough journey. It is wrought with tears and missteps. I’ve failed spectacularly on the page more times than I care to admit. There are times when I look at my laptop or tattered composition notebooks and physically feel the frump of not wanting to write. Many times, I feel I don’t have anything left to give the page.
But that’s never true.
It’s inside, and more often than not, festering to be let out.
What keeps me going back, is not that its always fun or easy, but that the work I put in, (the hard hours of editing or writing pages that will never come to anything themselves) has cemented in my head, where it matters most, that I am a writer. My writing isn’t insignificant, its integral to who I am.
One book led to two, which led to three and now soon to be six.
I didn’t know when I sat in the rocking chair in a state of nursing exhaustion, and thought about a girl and a ghost that it would be a bellwether to my writing career. A brilliant, burning light that led me through the darkness and inspired me to tell her story. (Fixing Destiny, Finding Destiny, Fighting Destiny)
I didn’t know it would instill in me the courage to tell all of my characters’ stories, because they matter. All stories matter. Getting them out of your head and onto a page matters. To you, to your health, to your mental well-being. To your journey.
We can only move forward if we honor what burns inside of us.
I’ve learned in whatever state I am, in whatever moment of life, in whatever hardship I’m shouldering, that writing is my tool. It helps me work through my depression and anxiety. It helps me regroup.
I’ve learned that not all of my writing is meant for everyone. And even the writing I do make public will not affect everyone the way that it has me. I’ve learned, most importantly, that that’s okay. Our jobs as writers are not to please everyone, or sell a million copies. Our job is to write.
Bring what burns inside of you out and light the world.
You can follow her recent releases and news about her writing on her Facebook page:
Sarah's novels can be found on Amazon:
Andrene’s graduation piece for a presentation skills course she took for work was entitled, Breeding before Forty and garnered enough laughs that she was persuaded (some might say coerced) into taking part in a rookies’ night at an Auckland comedy club. The club asked her back and she stayed on the professional stand-up circuit for three years, before retiring to concentrate on her long-form writing. Her novels are irreverent, edgy and very funny.
I’ve been hooked on writing, ever since getting my first favourable review, aged 9. It wasn’t 5 stars; it was an A on a writing exercise in English Class. I’m still not sure what our teacher was thinking, getting 9 year olds to write a story about a real-life Welsh mining disaster where a school-full of kids was buried by a collapsing slag heap. I had nightmares for weeks.
There was then a hiatus until my writing got a kick start courtesy of having to pen my own speech for a presentation skills course for work. I wasn’t able to help myself. There was going to be no dull, boring speech for me. I had to slip in a few laughs. And then a few more. One thing led to another and next thing I know I’m writing my own routines for stand-up.
I stayed on the professional circuit for three years in a constant haze of writing, pure unadulterated fear (that was the performing part), tweaking the jokes to make them work better and then trying them out again. It taught me about writing to a deadline and taking feedback constructively, even if it hurt at the time. Drunk people can be incredibly cruel.
It was around this time I decided to try my hand at writing something longer. Something that could be understood by people who weren’t half, or in some cases, fully cut. I dutifully crafted a synopsis and a few chapters and sent them off to an agent to get myself signed up. Boom! Blown out of the water. Ever so nicely, I have to say. Such a newbie mistake to make, looking back. If memory serves me correctly, I burned the returned submission, whilst dancing naked around the fire and cursing the agent’s name to the heavens.
But it was this very kick up the bum that set me on the path to being a published author. I took courses, so many courses. All of them useful, but none of them really giving me the key I was looking for. I was then very fortunate to be accepted into a six month creative writing course. The course itself was average, what was brilliant about it was my being assigned a mentor for the final month.
I didn’t just get any mentor, I got assigned a mentor who’d had a book on the New York Times Best Sellers List, who’d taught creative writing at university level and who believed in called a spade a $#@*$ shovel! Let’s put it this way, when submitting work to her I NEVER made the same mistake twice. The woman’s lessons stuck like %$#@ to a blanket. I’m paraphrasing here.
Because of her input and my hard work, when I submitted my novel, This Girl’s Abroad, to my preferred publisher, it was accepted straight off. I think I might have cried. Okay, I did cry. And danced. No fire this time. Since then I’ve gone on to publish Mounted and Hung and Screwed for Money. These three titles make up my Excess Baggage Series which is set in the fabulous seventies. A time when life was simple, pants were wide, heels high and hair as close to Farah as you could get without asphyxiating yourself. The series is a little like That '70s Show, but with an R Rating.
I’m currently working on DietVale, a comic horror set on a fat farm on the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand. It follows one woman’s journey from lard arse to kick arse, all while on a steady diet of B-List Celebs.
And if that wasn’t enough, I’m also writing a series of novelettes that sit alongside the Excess Baggage Series. These are only available to my subscribers, although after I’ve finished all five or six of them, I might publish them as a collection. The first, Smashed Nuts, is available now.
My motivations are definitely being able to write as well as my heroes Anne Rice, Marian Keyes and Janet Evanovich, to have people love my books and to know I’ve brought laughter into their lives. There are a lot of very serious books out there and sometimes, if you’ve had a rough day, that’s not what you need. Listen to me, I sound like Freud!
One writer I would love to meet is Bill Bryon. I adore the man’s ability to describe a place in a few well-chosen words that somehow have me laughing until my sides hurt. It’s a skill I’d like to emulate one day.
Most Recent Work
SCREWED FOR MONEY – Book 3, Excess Baggage Series
Brenda hasn’t had a money worry since puberty hit, because she’s always been well cared for by the elderly gents she’s latched onto. There’s none so generous as an older chap who’s allowed to get his wrinkled mitts on a pair of boobs not in danger of being tucked into a waistband.
She’s therefore gutted when her very healthy nest egg courtesy of one of them is scrambled through no fault of hers. On the bones of her arse, her choices are going back to a love live littered with dodgy prostates and bouts of emergency CPR, or getting a job.
But Brenda has issues with the old nine-to-five, preferring nine-ty-five-and-loaded and so the plan to teach others the art of relieving rich old gents of their spare change is one borne of desperation. She’ll be golden, so long as she can avoid being arrested.
You can follow Andrene online at:
Where to Buy Screwed for Money
#WhatsYourStory is a weekly guest column at AmyRivers.com. The focus is on our writing lives and the risks we've taken to achieve our writing dreams. Please share these stories and help support a talented group of authors.
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.