Thursday, February 26, 2015


 at Between The Pages

Add your book's tagline (1 per week) in the comment section
 (1-3 sentences only with family friendly wording)
 You may also leave a buy link and website link. (Two links only, please)

tag line is a phrase or simple sentence or two. It doesn’t tell specifics about the story, but it does set the stage and gives the reader a feel for what's to come. Movie posters are great examples of taglines.

Example from my book Stormee Waters: 
~Dirk Savage never fails to acquire what he wants until he encounters Stormee Waters and a backwash of trouble.~

Help us extend your reach by sharing your own, or one of the pre-written updates below. (Easy share buttons at the bottom of post.)

Discover new books through great 'taglines'. @LyndaCoker

Discover your next read through great 'taglines'. Thursdays are TAGLINE DAY at Between The Pages. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Author Interview: IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS with D. G. Driver

I love presenting this interview feature of my blog. I get to visit with so many talented writers, get a peek into their writing spaces, meet their pets, see what they like to eat, and see where they live. It makes reading their books so much richer when I can picture the writer behind the story. 

My guest today is author D. G. Driver. Donna, please introduce yourself...

(D.G.) I’ve been a published writer for twenty years now. Every time I write that somewhere, a strange feeling crawls over me. I kind of can’t believe it’s been that long. I began my career as Donna Getzinger and had several award-winning and critically acclaimed educational and nonfiction books published under that name. I really wanted to break through with YA fiction, so I decided to change my name to D. G. Driver and start fresh. Last year my YA fantasy novel about a girl who discovers mermaids caught in an oil spill, Cry of the Sea, was published by Fire and Ice Young Adult Novels. In January of this year, my new book, Passing Notes, a novella about a boy who is learning to write a love letter from a ghostly tutor, was published. I’m excited at this jump start to my fiction writing career, and hope you’ll enjoy getting to know a little more about my life as a writer.

(Lynda) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, if I took a drive in the area I live, what
might I see? (Photo would be good here):

(D. G.) I live a little east of Nashville where the suburban sprawl begins to melt into the country. The houses in my neighborhood are on neat little streets, but they have pretty big yards. If I drive west toward Nashville, everything gets more crowded. As I drive east, away from Nashville, it begins to be more farmland and woods. I love that I see cows on my way home from work, and there is a super cute gopher that lives near me. I have named him Grover. He lives in front of the little red farm in the picture, but it’s winter right now so he’s not standing in the dirt and watching the cars go by like he does in the warmer times of the year.

(Lynda)  IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What things would inspire me?

(D. G.) I find most of my story ideas from tidbits I’ve heard in a news story or something from a documentary. It’ll be a small fact in a bigger story, and I find myself creating a story around it. The premise for Passing Notesbegan when I learned cursive writing was going to be removed from elementary school curriculum. I wanted to create a story showing a reason why it shouldn’t fade away. Cry of the Sea began when the news was doing a lot of stories on the 10-year anniversary of the Exxon-Valdez Oil Spill. I wondered what would happen if a mermaid got caught in an oil spill.

(Lynda) I too love prospecting for ideas among the lesser details of a big news story. I never fail to find something of interest that inspires an idea.

(Lynda)  IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, would I get excited over seeing my book cover for the first time?

(D. G.) The book cover designer for Fire and Ice Young Adults books is Caroline Andrus. When she sent me the cover for Cry of the Sea, I actually cried. It was so perfect and beautiful. She got the face of my main character Juniper Sawfeather just right. I also love what she did for Passing Notes. It fits the book perfectly, and I’ve gotten lots of compliments on it.

(Lynda)  IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, would I love doing book signings, etc?

(D. G.) I am a performer, drama degree and all, so I love getting up in front of an audience. I have done a few school appearances, and they are my favorites. I’d love to do more of those. I have also spoken at sci-fi/fantasy cons and writing events. Back when my historical novels about the Civil War and Gold Rush were out, I appeared at a lot of reenactment and history related events – in period costumes. Those were so much fun! Right now I’m doing a lot of speaking on the topic of revision in writing and why it’s so important. It’s also the main focus of my blog

(Lynda)  IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, would I read a lot? How do I fit it in? Why is it important?

(D. G.) I read all the time. Mostly I read other YA and MG books. I have a long TBR list, and I tend to put books by people I know first in line, so I read a lot of books by local SCBWI writers and authors I’ve gotten to know online. I like to pick up a well-known book in between, too, so I can keep up with what the big publishers are doing and what is popular with readers. I work full time and have a family. What little time I have left I tend to dedicate to my writing and publicity. So, I read a little slower than I used to, usually finding time at lunch and bedtime. I always have a book with me, though, in case I’m stuck somewhere and have to find something to fill the time.

(Lynda)  IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, what would I tell a beginning reader always/never to do?

(D. G.) Don’t be in a hurry. So many people finish their books and want to go straight to self-publishing (or submitting) the moment it’s done. I promise you that it isn’t ready yet. Nobody writes a perfect first draft, I don’t care how genius you are. I know it’s hard to control the eagerness. You print out that big stack of paper, and it feels so good in your hands, and all you can think is “I made this!” I’ve been there many times, and I know the thrill. At that point, though, put it aside. Try not to work on it for at least a month. Do some other stuff in the meantime. Then come back and look at it with fresh eyes and start cleaning it up for mistakes – you’ll find some. If possible, get in a critique group or find some good beta readers to read that new fixed-up draft and give you some honest opinions and then revise again. Writing isn’t a race. No one out there is anxiously awaiting your first book. You have time to get it right, I promise. My other two pieces of advice? Learn how to spell and have good grammar. Also, read books, articles, and magazines about writing, publishing and how the industry works.

(Lynda)  IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, would I have a website or blog? Do I offer promo?

(D. G.) I have a blog on my website: where I mostly focus on posts about revision and rewriting techniques. I invite authors to come and share their experiences with revision and promote their books. Sometimes I’ll have a creative theme, like I’m finishing up a month of “Book Boyfriend Love Letters” where I asked authors to write love letters based on the characters in their books. I did that to promote them and the release of Passing Notes which is mostly about a boy learning to write a love letter. That has been a lot of fun, and I think I’ll do more creative stuff like that in the future. I do review books that I read, but not on my blog and not on request. I post my reviews on my FB page, my tumblr page, Amazon and Goodreads.

(Lynda)  IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, when did I first consider myself a writer? Special moment:

(D. G.) My first attempt at writing something to be seen by others was a play that my high school performed, and I wrote a fairly awful novel throughout my college years. I never considered myself a writer during that time – just a dabbler. I was planning to be an actress and even majored in Theater Arts. In 1994 when my first children’s play A Pirate Tale was produced by Imagination Children’s Theater in Los Angeles, and every performance sold out, that was when I first believed, “I can do this! I’m a writer!” I did another play for them in 1995 and sold my first poem and a short story that year too. From that point on I have considered myself a professional author. I eventually quit acting (and now only do community theater for fun) and focused my creative energy on writing. I joined SCBWI in 1999 and was considered one of the PAL (Published and Listed) authors right away because I’d had stories in established magazines like Children’s Digest and Ladybug. My non-fiction books with Morgan Reynolds Publishers were also considered PAL works. As much as I love SCBWI, the organization doesn’t pay a lot of heed to Indie and digital-first published books, so I was thrilled last year when they included my small press publisher Fire and Ice on their PAL list, making Cry of the Seaapplicable to promote and sell at SCBWI sponsored events. That was a big deal to me personally.

Explore more of D. G. Driver's work:


Amazon author page:


YouTube, Cry of the Sea Book Trailer:


Monday, February 23, 2015

Author Interview: IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS with Tricia Schneider

I'm happy to welcome author Tricia Schneider to Between The Pages. Tricia is a fellow author published by The Wild Rose Press who amazes me with her ability to juggle home, family, and her writing career. Tricia, I'm happy you could visit us this morning.

Thanks, Lynda, for hosting me today! You had so many interesting questions for the interview! For your readers who don’t know me, I’m an author of paranormal and gothic romance published with The Wild Rose Press. I worked for several years in a Waldenbooks store as Assistant Manager and bookseller. When the bookstore closed in 2010, I turned to writing full-time while raising my 3 young children (with another on the way!). I live in Pennsylvania with my musician husband and two neurotic cats.

1.      (Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I speak a different language, dialect, or local slang?

(Tricia) I’ve lived in Pennsylvania Dutch country all of my life and have picked up the accent of my German immigrant ancestors. My fascination with the language began when I was very little. All of my grandparents spoke varying degrees of Deutsch although they weren’t as fluent as their parents. During World War II, my great-grandparents encouraged their children to speak only English especially since this area was heavily monitored by the government in search of German spies. Despite this, my grandparents still picked up enough of it that they could teach me a few phrases when I was little. Although the language has since faded, the accent is still strong in this area, especially among the elderly. There’s still a section in the local newspaper that prints an article in PA Dutch to keep our heritage alive for newer generations.

When I went to high school, I studied the German language which is closely connected with Pennsylvania Deutsch. Most of the words are similar, enough that I could understand it. Now I speak German as a second language, although I still don’t consider myself fluent. I practice it on occasion with my husband and I teach some of it to my children. I’d like to learn more languages someday, too. Maybe Italian or Russian.

(Lynda) Speaking a second language has always been a goal of mine, one which I'm said to say, I haven't accomplished yet. With my love of Asian dramas, I have been able to pick up quite a few words and phrases in Korean. I'm not sure that counts, but it's fun. :)

2.      (Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I have any critters that keep
me company while writing?

(Tricia) I have 2 cats that my husband and I rescued. Their mama was a stray cat who gave birth to a litter of four beneath the deck behind my house. My husband tried to catch them, but only managed to grab two before the mama got wise to our tricks and whisked the other two away. Now we have Oscar and Cassius who both keep me company while I write at night. They curl up with me on my sofa to keep my feet warm or they nuzzle around my head while they sit on the cushions behind me. Most of the time they like to try to chase the arrow across my screen while I’m clicking links on the internet. Cassius is my scaredy-cat. He’s afraid of everything. And Oscar thinks he’s a dog. My husband whistles for him and he comes running. Sometimes I think his tail wags, too!

3.      (Lynda Asks:)  IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I also have other hobbies, if so, what kind?

(Tricia) Some people would say reading is a hobby, but for me it’s more like breathing. I read all of the time, but I don’t consider it a hobby. It’s a necessity! I do enjoy other hobbies such as crafts. I’ve become a Pinterest addict with all the fun projects I find on there. I like to cross-stitch while I watch TV. And recently I took up crocheting again. My mom taught me a few basic stitches when I was little, but after she died I stopped. Just a few weeks ago, I picked up some yarn and started again. And I really like it! I’m also an amateur genealogist. I began tracing my family tree years ago by writing down every family member that my grandparents could remember. Now with the internet, I have so much information available that I’ve traced my family back to the 1300’s. Most of my branches are German, but I’ve found French and English, too. There are stories passed down in my family that there’s Native American heritage somewhere among my ancestors, but I haven’t been able to locate it yet.

4.      (Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I often visit book stores and why?

(Tricia) I worked for several years as an Assistant Manager and bookseller in a Waldenbooks store in the local mall in my area. As most avid readers know, Waldenbooks and their sister company, Borders, went out of business a few years ago. They’re both greatly missed! Especially in my area. There are no other bookstores in our county. The nearest one is nearly an hour away. I try to make monthly trips so I can spend a few hours in Barnes and Noble to just experience that bookstore feeling. I love to be surrounded by books! It’s the greatest feeling to gaze among the shelves searching for that next great read! I call it book therapy.

(Lynda) The loss of so many book stores has saddened many readers, me included. I'm happy to say that the libraries in our area are thriving so people still have a place to sit surrounded by books, 

5.      (Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I have a favorite color, movie, ice cream flavor, and drink?

(Tricia) My favorite color is blue. My favorite ice cream flavor is mocha with chocolate chips (this tastes heavenly over a warm brownie with chocolate syrup or hot fudge drizzled on top!). My favorite drink is green tea. This is what I call my writing drink. Sometimes I just need to get in the writing mode and sipping a cup of hot green tea somehow helps me get in the mood to write. I’ve saved the favorite movie question for last because it’s the most difficult. I have several favorite movies, so I’ll only include a few here. Indiana Jones (all except that last one!), The Lord of the Rings, The Mummy, Gone With the Wind, The Princess Bride, French Kiss, Persuasion, Emma, It’s a Wonderful Life (I still cry every single time I watch it!), Beauty and the Beast, and Finding Nemo.

6.      (Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, If I had a second chance to start my writing career from the beginning, what would I change?

(Tricia) I wouldn’t doubt myself. For years, I wrote and wrote, but I didn’t have much confidence that my writing was any good even with the amount of praise I received from others. Well, I guess, I still have doubts, most writers probably do, especially when their inner critic is ranting in their ear. And I know it is part of growing as a writer, but I wish I wouldn’t have stopped sending in submissions to publishers and agents for so long. I had decided for a time that I would just write for myself because I didn’t think my writing was good enough for publication. It wasn’t until I became a mother that I really started trying to get published again. My children gave me the motivation to show both them and myself that dreams can come true. On my eldest son’s 3rd birthday, I received my first contract from The Wild Rose Press!

7.      (Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I prefer to have a kitten, puppy, bird, or stuffed animal?

(Tricia) I’ve already told you about my cats and I do love them dearly, but I also had two dogs when I was a kid who were my best friends. I love all animals, but I’ve discovered that I’m definitely a dog person. I’d love to have a puppy in my life again. My dogs were always there for me when I needed them. A friend to listen to when I had bad days and also someone to play with when I was happy. Cats are very different! My cats will only let me cuddle them when they allow me. At times, I think they only tolerate me in the house because I’m the one who feeds them and cleans their litter box!

To learn more about Tricia and her work visit:

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Author Interview: IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS with Author Jess Russell

Jess Russell

(Lynda) My guest today is author Jess Russell. Jess, it's a pleasure to welcome you to my blog. I'm anxious to get into the interview so why don't we get started...

(Jess) Lynda, thank you so much for having me on Between the Pages. I am delighted to be visiting today. The Dressmaker’s Duke is my Best-selling d├ębut Regency Romance. The book has won many awards including Best of the Best in the Golden Rose Contest and was touted as a “Hot new Release” on Amazon. Jess is a New York City gal who escapes to the Catskill Mountains to hike, act, garden and write. The Dressmaker’s Duke is on sale now for just .99cents through March 3rd!

  (Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Why did I start writing?
  • When I turned a certain age—OK, no sense being coy, 50—I wanted a new challenge. I had never written anything before. I had a scene brewing in my head for a while. I decided why not? I faced that scary white page and wrote it down. That was three years ago.
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I have made a Million $ on my first book?
  • Oh boy, No millions. Yet. But I did feel a bit like Cinderella when I made PAN about 10 days after The Dressmaker’s Duke released. That was a victory for me. I felt like a million bucks!
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I get excited over seeing my book cover for the first time?
  • Oh, YES! When I got the Amazon package in the mail, opened it, held my book in my hands, smelled it, and flipped through the pages and saw my name on the cover~Bliss.
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What character was the most difficult to write, and why?
  • Not so much characters. I am an actress, so I love to delve into how and why people do what they do. My challenge is story. I am not sure if it’s because I am dyslexic but I find it difficult to hone the story. I keep wanting to go off on tangents.
  • (Lynda) I so understand tangents...and I'm not dyslexic, just easily distracted by all the possibilities that keep presenting themselves in my head.
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I also read a lot, if so, how do I fit that into my schedule and why is it important to me?
  • I do love to read. I read a lot in my genre and I get really excited when I find a new author to love. I consider this reading a guilty kind of “research”. :o) I am a slow reader though (I am dyslexic) Right now I have my “RITA Reads” to get through. Nine of them! I better get busy!  
 (Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I also have other hobbies, if so, what kind?
  • OH boy, do you have an hour or so? I love to make things. I love the notion of creating something out of nothing, or at least things that other folks might think of as worthless. I am always dragging things off the street of New York City where I live now, and "re-purposing" them. My secret indulgence; power tools. I knew my husband really knew me when he got me a chain saw for my birthday! Like you, I love textile arts. I am an award winning  Batik artist. 
  • (Lynda) I also love creating, designing, and re-purposing. And I adore batiks. I use them a lot in my fiber art projects.
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I have a website or blog? If so, where can they be found? Do I offer promo features for other writers on my blog?
  • I do have a website/blog Right now I am doing a feature called, “Trash to Treasure”. I take a thrift store find and transform it into something new and fabulous! It is sort of a take-off on my Dressmaker theme. I also made my own hand-sewn Regency gown. 
 (Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I have preferred to live and write in a different era than the present?
  • I love writing Historicals. They have all these parameters that one must try to write within. The world of a Regency woman is narrow, but she still has all the feelings that a modern day woman has, she just must express them in more subtle ways. I see this as a challenge; a kind of mental tightrope. I think the best historical writers embrace these strictures and learn to move gracefully and creatively between the confines of their chosen world. These characters are not just witty cardboard cutouts from 200 years ago, they are thinking, feeling folk with problems just like you and me. However, I am very happy to be living in 2015. Women have come a long way. I could not go back to being essentially the property of my husband.
  (Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What would most characterize my writing?
  • Being an actress, my writing is very character driven. I also love to write in a very deep POV.
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, When did I first consider myself a writer, and was there a special moment connected to this realization?
  • There was nothing like getting my book in the mail, taking out of the package and feeling that glossy cover, flipping the pages, smelling, seeing my name on the cover…heaven! (see cover photo)
(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What's the best/worse comments I've received from a fan or critic? 
  • It makes my day to hear that my book has touched a reader. A favorite: Long and Short reviews: “Just – Wow! I am in awe of this wonderful book. It’s hard to believe that this is a first book, it’s that good. This will be in my top ten books for this year.” The negative review that hurt the most; a reader thought there was cruelty in the book. Yes, there is some cruelty: A beloved horse has to be put down, and the villain is cruel. I don’t apologize for that, villains are cruel. My books are a bit darker than a typical Regency romance, but that makes the Happily Ever After all the sweeter!


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS - My Guest Today - Author Laura Smith

 Today, I'm happy to welcome author Laura Smith to Between The Pages. Laura is a writer from Pittsburgh, PA. She earned her BA in Creative Writing from Carlow University in 2007. Since then, she has published poetry in Rune Magazine, Voices from the Garage, Falling Star Magazine, Blast Furnace Press, The Lavender Review, James Dickey, and Torrid. She has also self-published three middle grade books on Amazon and has recently been writing freelance articles for for the past year. Besides writing, she enjoys watching and studying movies, drawing, and spending time with her family. 

(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Where would I live? 

(Laura) I live in the south hills of Pittsburgh, PA. I grew up in the suburbs, seven miles from the city. I like to write about suburban life, especially from a kid’s point of view. I now own my own house in a nearby suburban neighborhood so I get to experience suburban life from an adult perspective. I like going to cook outs in the summer and decorating the house for the holidays.

I’m a short drive from both the city and the country so I experience many different environments throughout the year. I can go downtown to see a Pirate game one day and fishing at the lake the next. Pittsburgh also has all four seasons, sometimes which literally occur all within the same day. It’s gray and rainy here. You can go five days or more without ever seeing the sun, which can bring you down, but when the sun finally comes out, it brings about a euphoric feeling and makes you appreciate it so much more. When the weather is warm, I like to sit outside and write during my lunch breaks and on weekends. When it’s cold, which is often, I stay in and write under the blankets with the TV to keep me company.

(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What things would inspire me?

(Laura) I’m inspired by movies, dreams, fears, and the past. None of my characters are based on real people, but I borrow physical or behavioral traits from people I know to make a more human but completely fabricated character. I watch movies to figure out how to frame a story and shape dialogue. When I have a vivid dream, I write it down as a poem. I struggle with poetry, and dreaming does all of the work for me, creating imagery and symbolism. After each inspiring dream, I jot it down and then sketch or even paint an image from that dream as a reference when shaping the stanzas. The past is often a great inspiration to me.

My first book, The Stable House, was inspired by a trip to a neighbor’s estate sale and seeing all of the antique riding gear and horse-themed merchandise for sale. There, I realized how little I knew of her past. I had always known this neighbor as an old woman, but she had a fascinating, hidden history. Paired with my fear of house fires, I soon had a story about a girl who learns about her own neighbor’s past just before a house fire ruins her own and forces her into a new lifestyle and plunges her into adolescence.

My second book, Saving Hascal’s Horrors, was inspired by a dream I had about a family running a grave digging business. They would all dress in blue jeans and dig in the rain with shovels until it was deep enough to bury a casket. This exciting, horrific image was blended with my failed attempt at an adult novel about a young woman trying to get out of running her deceased father’s junk store. I changed the protagonist to the little brother, changed the store to a shop that sells horror-themed merchandise, added a ghost story, and I had my new book.

My third book, The Castle Park Kids, is a tribute to my childhood summers when I was allowed the freedom to venture to the park with my brother and sister and play with my friends unsupervised. All of the games and activities that occur in the book are things that we did when we went to the park. I didn’t base any of the characters on any one person but blended personalities together to make one character and moved everyone to the cul-de-sac that wraps around the playground.

Movies, dreams, and memories have really kept the ideas coming, the structures forming, and the stories flowing since I began writing books over six years ago.

(Lynda) Estate sales, dreams, and childhood memories, those are a diverse source of inspiration that all sound intriguing.

(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I often visit book stores and why?
(Laura) At least once a month I tend to make a trip to Half Price Books. It’s a chain store with several locations throughout the country. There’s one just a few miles from me. They sell new and used books, movies, CD’s, cassette tapes, records, games, toys, and other merchandise, often at half price. I go there to add to my collection of books and other media. I always end up spending more than I intend and find so many things that I didn’t even know I was looking for. I also like to go to book sales hosted by libraries, churches, etc. I like to search for old copies of Stephen King books and chapter books that have the old cover designs from when I first read them. There’s no such thing as a bad book store or book sale. I eat them up. 

(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Why did I start writing? If I can't write for an extended period of time, do I react in a weird manner?

(Laura) I started writing before I could even read. I filled notebooks while practicing handwriting, one letter at a time. In Kindergarten, I wrote and illustrated my first book. It was a book about dinosaurs. I wrote about every dinosaur I knew (all five of them) and asked my parents to spell out nearly every word while constructing my sentences. Being a five-year-old dinosaur expert, I knew exactly how they should be drawn. So, I used paper that was blank on the top and lined at the bottom. I drew and colored my pictures in the white space and wrote my sentences on the lines. I bound it with yard, and that was my first book. It ended up in the trash eventually, something I’ll always regret not saving.

Throughout the years, I filled dozens of notebooks with journal entries, fan fiction, and original stories and poems. Since I started college, I’ve tried and usually succeed in writing every day. Even if I go on vacation, I bring a notebook with me so I can record whatever is on my mind. Besides writing books, I write poems, essays, blogs, and I journal. So, I can no longer claim writer’s block. There’s always something worth writing down and always something to say. 

(Lynda) Isn't it amazing that, like yourself,  a writer's brain is fully functioning at birth. Sometimes we don't recognize that fact, but most writers have always had a need to record the stories and feelings they experience, even at an early age.

(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What character was the most difficult to write, and why?

( Laura) In a book full of boys, you would think that the girl would be the easiest one to write, but my character of Lisa Arbogast in my second novel, Saving Hascal’s Horrors was my most difficult to write. I wanted to make her one of the gang without making her a tomboy. I wanted her to like horror movies like the rest of them but also had other interests. I had to make her a fifth grade girl who already had a boyfriend without making her seem like she’s boy crazy or calling Jack her boyfriend just so she can say she has one. I had to make her into a girl that her thick-skinned, older boyfriend would want to have as his girlfriend. Lisa is nothing like me. She’s strong, popular, and she knows how to stand her ground. She was somebody I would envy, not emulate. When you create a character, you have to put yourself into them. Like most of my characters, she was not modeled after anyone. She just appeared, and I had to color her in. It wasn’t easy, but I eventually got the balance I wanted. She was mostly developed and became an integral part of the story during the editing process. It took her a long time to form, but once she did, I was proud of how she turned out.

(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I take manuscript rejections well. And how do I feel about reviews, both good and not-so-good?

(Laura) I have been fortunate so far to receive mostly positive reviews from critics. I did have one reviewer who refused to finish reading my first book, saying that it was too terrible to continue. That really shattered my confidence and upset me. Of all my books, that one took the longest to write, and I felt like I had wasted my time. Since then, I’ve received six positive Amazon reviews and several verbal praises about that book. Still, it took all of those positive reviews to stamp out that one bad (or rather non-existent) review. I’m still a bit gun shy when a reviewer tells me that the review is ready, and I begin to sweat until I see that they liked it. Many reviewers in the independent world are very kind, elaborating on what they liked about a piece rather than what they didn’t like. 

(Lynda) I know how you feel. I've developed reviewitis since becoming published. But the whole experience has been a learning process and, as a reviewer myself, it makes me more objective and considerate when composing a review.

(Laura) When you’re a writing student in workshop, the general rule is to never say anything negative about another student’s piece. Instead, you offer constructive criticism, telling them where to strengthen the language and what you should develop or leave out. It’s more helpful than just saying you didn’t like something. So, when reviewers explain the weakness in the piece being reviewed, it is much less damaging to the author and more helpful to the reader to explain their thoughts rather than trash someone’s hard earned work. You can make the same point without the added blow of stomping it to pieces. That is something I have vowed never to do to a fellow writer.

The good reviews have a euphoric effect. It makes you feel like you’ve really done your job, and you’re walking on air when it gets posted online. You want to print it out and hand it out to people on the street. You want to send them flowers for saying such nice things about your work because writing is so personal that to validate your work is to validate who you are as a person and what thoughts you consider important. 

(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What would I tell a beginning writer to never do/always do?

(Laura) I would tell a very young writer to fill notebooks or computer space with story after story. I would tell them to let someone they trust read their work to build their confidence, to write as often as they can and never because they have to. Keep a journal or diary and never let anyone read it. That way, you can get everything out onto the page. Never let anyone tell you what to write or not write. Never let anyone tell you to change your style, but do realize that you will have to fight for that style. Don’t worry about where your ideas come from; there is no bad place to draw from.

To someone who has their mechanics and style down and are ready to publish, I would give them all of the templates, instructions, and rules about publishing. I had very little guidance in this department and had to figure out this part for myself. I didn’t know how to get pieces ready for submission. I didn’t realize there were writing contests out there that didn’t have extravagant entry fees. I didn’t know how to build a portfolio or how to query a publisher. I didn’t know about self-publishing and how it is always evolving. The business end of writing takes a lot of work and time away from your writing, but it’s just as important if you want to make a career of it. 

(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, How important is a book's title to me?

(Laura) Titles are very important and are also my biggest weakness. I wrestle with titles until just before I submit a piece. I’m always changing poetry titles. It is always the most edited and thought about section of my work.

When I read, look for interesting titles or titles that have a word in them that draws me in. Sometimes I shy away from a classic thinking that the title doesn’t make any sense. Who knew that the titles for To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye mean what they mean before you sit down to read them for the first time? You hate the title when you first sit down to read it because you think it’s going to be a boring book about birds or agriculture. It’s not until after you finish that you realize how brilliant the titles are to those specific stories. So, those titles with the secret meaning in them are the best in my opinion. It’s the reader who just has to give it a chance. That’s what I try to remember when reading or writing.

Connect with Laura:

View Laura's books:
The Castle Park Kids

Follow Me on Pinterest

Sunday, February 8, 2015

New Release - ONE MORE SECOND CHANCE by Jana Richards

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, the Lobster Cove Series
Release Date: February 6, 2015

About The Book:
Dr. Alex Campbell has an agenda—finish his contract to provide medical services in Maine, pay off his medical school debt, and head back to his real life in San Diego. But when he meets Julia, all his carefully laid plans are put in jeopardy.

Julia Stewart, Lobster Cove’s high school principal, swears she’ll never let another man drag her away from the home she loves. Her aging parents need her, and the Cove is where she wants to raise her daughter. When her mother’s illness brings her and the big city doctor closer together, panic sets in. Her marriage taught her men don’t stay.

Can she put aside the heartaches of the past and trust Alex enough to accept the love he’s offering? Or will her fear of abandonment mean she’ll send him away forever?

They drank their tea in silence, but the silence didn’t feel awkward. Julia felt soothed, the stress slowly leaving her body. Perhaps her grandmother had been onto something. The tea seemed to be working.
She finished the last of it and set down the cup. “I should be going. I left Ava with Tracy, and she’s probably hungry by now.”
Julia got to her feet and headed to the front door, with Alex following her. “Thanks for the tea, and for listening. I guess I needed both today.”
“Anytime. Seriously, Julia, anytime you need to talk, about anything, give me a call.”
She wondered if he was speaking as a doctor, as a friend, or as a man. Which one did she want him to be?
“Thank you.”
“I’ll try to keep an eye out for your folks, see if there’s anything I can do for them.”
She was touched by his offer. “I really appreciate that, but I know how busy you are.”
He waved away her concern. “It’s no big deal. I appreciate my grandmother’s neighbors checking in on her, and I’d be happy to do the same.”
He really did understand how she felt. “In that case, thank you.”
She opened the front door and stepped outside. Turning to Alex, she smiled. His thick hair had begun to dry, and the dark strands gleamed in the spring sunshine. Her breath caught in her throat at his beauty.
“Bye, Alex.”
“Bye. Take care.”
Julia hurried down the steps and across the lawn to her car. An appreciation for his looks was as far she could take any relationship with him. Her life was too complicated, too full already. And she would never get involved with a man who planned to leave Lobster Cove in only a few more months.

Author Bio:
When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada with their Pug/Terrier cross Lou and several unnamed goldfish. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at

Social Media Links:
Newsletter Signup:

Buy Links:

Follow Me on Pinterest

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Author Interview - IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS - Author Joe Starr

My guest today is Author Joe Starr. Joe is a writer, editor and author of the recently released novel Bum Rush the Commons, Enter the Era of the Water Wars. He is from Michigan, has lived in New Mexico and Oklahoma, and currently calls Wisconsin home. Now let’s hear why Joe can’t choose just one favorite beverage, his take on why bees like to sting his toes and the view he has from his great green writing space.

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What would my writing space look like?
(Joe) Sitting on a metal chair at a table thoughtfully placed in the shade of a giant Himalayan White Pine Tree, I peer into the pine’s reflection on the laptop screen in front of me and take my time to find the right words to describe characters roaming in my head as they make their way through the adventures that life delivers to them without warning or invitation.

A sparrow comes into the reflection. I watch as it flies from branch to branch before finding its way to the bird feeder for a snack. I stop to watch Oliver lying in the grass in front of me. The chocolate brown Labrador Retriever mix appears to be sleeping. But a casual observation can deceive as he suddenly lurches up and catapults his seventy pound frame toward the road that runs in front of our ranch home. He has caught sight of another dog out for a walk with my neighbor. But just as quickly as Oliver starts his stampede it abruptly stops short of the chain-linked fence right in time for him to begin a frantic barking campaign as he starts a new sprint along the 20-foot length of fence, all in an effort to say hello. I wave to my neighbor as the two continue down the road, and I complete typing a paragraph before hitting the return key.

Seconds later, a brood of chickens waddles up pecking near and occasionally at my feet exposed through sandals. I pay little attention to this, their pecking hardly noticeable as I reread the last page and continue with my story writing. But this is also that time of year when the honeybees are active, a dangerous time for exposed toes. More than once I have been peaceful typing away when I feel a great pain. For whatever reason—maybe it’s my sweet smelling foot powder—the bees like to crawl in between the toes and once there they sometimes feel the need to sting. Needless to say I have since resorted to wearing shoes while writing outdoors.

But the pain is a small price to pay for having such a beautifully peaceful office. It’s a fortunate circumstance that I ended up living in such gorgeous country. My only hope is that even a portion of that beauty that I take in while writing ends up reflected in my words and shared with others.

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What would most characterize my writing?

(Joe) I am curious about people, particularly those people who do not fit neatly into what we know as “normal society.” I have had the fortune to work a variety of jobs in my life so far, and have lived in and visited many different places. As a result I have met plenty of interesting people. It is these people who have removed the filters that society has imposed on us who bring the most color to life. These are the people I like to write about. I think a well-defined overreaching theme is essential to a good story, but my stories also require tough-to-define characters. They bring flavor to the writing with their complexity. I always wonder how outliers I have met reached where they were in their lives. I love imagining how it is they arrived there. Those are the stories that I relish telling.

(Lynda) I like to scan a crowd or room full of people for that one person who hovers on the fringe of the activity and doesn't seem to fit. I can't help but wonder why. So I share and understand your curiosity about people. I look forward to reading some of your work and meeting some of your 'outliers'.

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I have a favorite color, movie, ice cream flavor, and drink?

(Joe) Curiously enough I only recently decided on a favorite color. I love revival and light green is the color we see as spring starts to awaken.

Cool Hand Luke is my all-time favorite movie. I am drawn to the defiant rebel outsider who is unwilling to conform. As a great high school government teacher of mine once said, question authority.

Ice cream selection is easy—chocolate cookies and cream.

Favorite drink is a tough one because I like different ones at different times. I like water because of its pure state, and I get thirsty from time to time and like to live. Milk is a favorite from way back. I enjoy its ability to fill you up as it quenches your thirst. And then there is Mexican Coke. I don’t know if it is really true but I think Coke tastes best in a glass bottle, but we will let the scientists make the final decision.

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I have a website or blog? If so, where can they be found? Do I offer promo features for other writers on my blog?

(Joe) My website is at This is primarily a site for my freelance and book writing business, but I do have plans for a blog here where I intend to feature works from fellow writers.

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I also have other hobbies, if so, what kind?

(Joe) I am an endurance runner who is turning more and more toward trail running. I have completed several half and full marathons as well as a number of 50K and one 50 miler. Next on my list is the Kettle 100, a 100-mile trail run in the beautiful Kettle Moraine State Forest of southeast Wisconsin.

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What would I tell a beginning writer to never do/always do?

 (Joe) Never stop dreaming because that is where ideas are born, and always be reading because that is what fuels dreams.

(Lynda) Someone told me many years ago to never stop asking questions or proposing a 'what if'. Adding those to your dreaming and reading and any beginning writer would never experience a lack of story ideas.

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I often visit book stores and why?

(Joe) Yes. I have been attracted to book stores since I was young. I grew up within walking distance of the Lansing Mall in Lansing, Michigan, and my first stop on my many trips here each week was to the mall’s Borders book store. Back then Borders was just another small store in the mall; not the huge anchor store that we’ve known in more recent years before going out of business in 2011. I still love my book store trips. I enjoy the potential for imagination, creativity and new ideas that books hold. I also love that new book smell. At the same time book store visits can be overwhelming. There is so much to see and read that I often struggle with where to start. If I start to read this book am I missing out on something better in the book right next to it? Decisions, decisions.

 (Lynda Asks)IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What would be my favorite restaurant and why?

(Joe) This is tough question. I love so many different foods, thus so many different restaurants. Fortunately I live near Madison, Wisconsin where there are many great restaurants to choose from. So if you are ever in Madison, here are a couple of places I recommend. Taqueria Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant on S. Park has the best Mexican I have ever tasted anywhere in the country (yes, even Texas). Journey on the east side is an Asian buffet that I love particularly for its BD’s Mongolian Barbeque build-your-own stir fry option. With that said, BD’s Mongolian Barbeque is my all-time favorite restaurant. Unfortunately the Madison location closed a few years ago and the only time I ever get to go is after my annual trip to the Grand Rapids Marathon in Michigan. I love experimenting with different spice options and BD’s is chockfull of spice and oil choices.

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I consider writing a job, a vocation, a hobby, or a passion?

(Joe) It is a passion. I hope it will someday become a vocation.

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I write for myself or my readers?

(Joe) I write for myself in hopes that others will share in the joy I have found.

(Lynda Asks) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What are the top five items on my priority list?

(Joe) Family, pets, friends, exercise and writing.


Starrwriter website

Bum Rush the Commons on Amazon

Bum Rush the Commons book reviews

Bum Rush the Commons press release