A Conversation with Author Jenny O’Brien

Today in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Jenny O’Brien who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.

You are very welcome, Jenny, please introduce yourself:

Firstly, thank you for inviting me onto your blog, Pam.

I view myself as a mum who writes. I have three teens and spend most of my spare time acting as taxi driver. But I always carry around a notebook and pen and, when I have a spare minute, write. I’ve been doing just that for the last 12 years and, funnily enough, am about to publish book number 12. I’m also a qualified nurse and still spend my mornings at the local hospital doing what nurses do. Although born in Dublin I now live in Guernsey and spend my time between there, Wales and France.

Which genre do you write in and what draws you to it?

I’m currently writing thrillers. I started out writing romance and, whilst I’d never say never, my writing has moved on from there. I also write for children. There’s something engaging writing for this age group. The skies the limit as far as imagination goes – it’s fun. Writing thrillers isn’t fun. It can be enjoyable but it’s also complex and emotionally demanding.

Are you an avid reader? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

I read every day when perhaps I don’t get to write. It’s my first love. I own 2 kindles just in case one breaks or something. I know – madness. But I don’t watch TV so it’s my main form of relaxation. I read romance, crime and a smattering of literary classics.

What was the best piece of writing advice you received when starting out?

Start late and leave early. Something I read many years ago and still practice today. Basically, it means jumping straight into a scene rather than beginning with a long intro. And, at the end, leave early – leave the reader with a need to turn that next page to find out what’s next.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

I find I have to squeeze my writing in between work and running around after the kids but I do enjoy that first half hour when the rest of the house is asleep.

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

You name it I’ve tried it. Knitting is my first love, but I’ve tried all sorts of crafting projects with varying degrees of success. I’m the proud owner of numerous woollens and a variety of patchwork. I even make my own jewellery not that I ever wear it. Reading would also feature – there’s nothing like curling up with a good book.

You have been chosen as a member of the crew on the first one-way flight to Mars – you are allowed to bring 5 books with you. What would they be?

Probably the complete works of Jane Austen barring Sense and Sensibility, my least favourite. There’s always something new each time I read them.

Please tell us about your latest published work, which I have just pre-ordered.  

My latest book is Missing in Wales, the first in a crime series which features DC Gabriella Darin, half Italian, half Liverpudlian and living and working in Pembrokeshire. I’ve included the blurb below:

Alys is fine – don’t try to find us

Izzy Grant is haunted by the abduction of her new-born daughter five-years ago. When a postcard arrives from her missing partner, the man she believes is responsible, saying they’re fine and asking her not to try to find them, she knows she can’t give up hoping. Then she sees a face from her past. Grace Madden. Just where did she disappear to all those years ago? And is there a connection between her disappearance and that of her child?

DC Gabriella Darin, recently transferred from Swansea, is brash, bolshie and dedicated. Something doesn’t fit with the case and she’s determined to find out just what happened all those years ago.

Available in paperback now or pre-order as an e-book here.

Thank you for inviting me. I love hearing from readers. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram as Scribblerjb and on Facebook here

Links:
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New Release from William Todd

I have a very special guest today on my blog. If you haven’t read any of William Todd’s Sherlock Holmes’ stories, you are definitely missing out. I love them. His collections of short horror tales are rather special, too. William’s new release, Something Wicked This Way Comes, is now on pre-order, going live on 8th July (you’ll find the link below). I’ve ordered my copy; what about you?

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Continue reading “New Release from William Todd”

A Conversation with Author Judith Arnopp

This evening in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Judith Arnopp, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.

You are very welcome, Judith, please introduce yourself:

JudithThank you for inviting me to your blog. I write historical fiction from my home overlooking Cardigan Bay in Wales. I like to put myself in the shoes of the women who lived and breathed under the rule of the Tudors, sometimes my characters are members of the Tudor family, sometimes they are subjects but they all share one thing – the fight to survive the political upheaval of the day.

The Tudor novels include: Sisters of Arden: on the Pilgrimage of Grace; The Beaufort Chronicles: the life of Lady Margaret Beaufort (three book series); A Song of Sixpence: the story of Elizabeth of York; Intractable Heart: the story of Katheryn Parr; The Kiss of the Concubine: a story of Anne Boleyn; The Winchester Goose: at the court of Henry VIII.

Early in my career I wrote in the medieval/Anglo Saxon era and produced three novels, The Song of Heledd; The Forest Dwellers, and Peaceweaver. I also write nonfiction – my articles appear in several anthologies.

Books

Which genre do you write in and what draws you to it?

I write historical fiction, mostly in the Tudor period. I have always loved history so when I graduated from university it made sense to stay on a while longer and study for my masters in medieval/Tudor history. When I could find no more excuses not to leave full time education I began to write, turning my hobby into a career. My first novel, Peaceweaver, was published in 2009 and I am now writing my eleventh (I think). I live very quietly, and am a bit of a recluse so I feel much more at home writing in the Tudor period than I do in the present day.

Are you an avid reader? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

I used to read historical fiction exclusively but now I am an author I try to avoid it. I don’t want to taint my own voice or style so I read crime fiction, or classics. The book I most enjoyed last year was The Mermaid’s Daughter by Ann Claycomb, a rewrite of The Little Mermaid – I was totally gripped by it and sorry when it came to an end. Of course, there are always a few historical fiction titles I can’t resist and I am very excited to hear the Hilary Mantel has finally got around to finishing the sequel to Bring up the Bodies. I will certainly be reading that one.

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?

Time in which to get the first draft written. There doesn’t seem to be enough hours to do everything expected of an author today. I’d love to be able to just sit and my desk and write but if you neglect marketing, social media, keeping your covers updated and producing new attractive posters your current books will cease to sell. There are so many authors these days that is has become very difficult to be ‘seen’ and it can be disheartening to pour hours into a blog post that nobody reads or comments on. I’d love to have time to deal with all these things but the older I get the shorter my working day becomes, and something has to be sacrificed. I just do what I can. If my whole morning is spent marketing, I get very few new words on the page, if I spend the morning writing, I sell fewer books. I really need a team of enthusiastic marketing managers so I can just write but I am not rich enough. I just do what I can, when I can – my working life is a desperate muddle of seeing what can be achieved before I drop – I don’t have an answer to this difficulty.

What was the best piece of writing advice you received when starting out?

I was advised to write, write, write, to hire an editor and to never believe I was good enough. I stick to this advice. I try to write every day. I have a fabulous editor Cas Peace, who ensures my commas are in the right place and hunts down the typos. Between us we produce something worth reading. The piece of advice I pass on to new authors is to never think I am good enough. This doesn’t mean one should tear out your hair and wail that your writing is rubbish – it means to strive to be better, always see the faults and failures in your own work (then you won’t be so disappointed when others call you out on them). Do the best you can and then, next time, try to do better still. Complacency has ruined many a fine author.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

I write in the mornings while I am alert enough to think clearly. I start the day answering emails, tweeting and responding to social media messages while I fuel myself with coffee and cornflakes. Then I edit what I wrote the previous day before launching into the next part of the story. That is the plan anyway; sometimes I have to research, or life gets in the way in the form of grandchildren or appointments, or answering interview questions as I am today.

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

That is a very good question. I have no idea. I can’t really see myself doing anything else. My side line is making French hoods, coifs and medieval bags etc. which I sell in my Etsy shop so perhaps I would do that in a more serious way. I could never work in an office or a shop. I like to work from home and have become used to being my own boss. Or perhaps I’d enjoy interior design, I do a lot of that and I am running out of rooms to make over at home. Or garden design – I love my own garden and have transformed the one we have now. Come to think of it, there are heaps of other jobs I could do but I have learned that if you turn a hobby (in my case writing) into a job inevitably some of the shine is rubbed off.

If a movie was made of one of your books, who would you like to play the lead roles?

A movie! What a lovely thought. I am not very good at remembering the names of actors but I will give it a shot. If The Winchester Goose was being filmed I’d choose the following.  Francis Wareham is the main male character. He is very dashing and handsome but not very old so would need to be played by someone like, erm …Simon Woods who was Mr Bingley in Pride and Prejudice, the Keira Knightly one.

GooseI think Alex Kingston would make a brilliant Joanie Toogood, the ‘goose’. She did a great job with Moll Flanders and I think she has all the necessary credentials.

Isabella and Evelyn Bourne are gentlewomen from court. Emma Watson would be good as Eve or maybe Jenna Coleman, the girl playing Victoria at the moment,. The actress who plays Edith in Downton Abbey, Laura Carmichael, would make a lovely Bella. For Peter, who is a costermonger from Southwark it would have to be Rupert Grint – wonderful actor who played Ron Weasley in Harry Potter. Henry VIII would not be played by Jonathon Rhys Meyers (as gorgeous as he is) I think the role is better suited to Steven Waddington who played Lord Buckingham in the Tudors. As to Katherine Howard and Anna of Cleves, goodness, I have no idea. I will leave that to the directors!

If you could travel back in time, what era would you go to? What draws you to this particular time?

This is an easy one to answer. I’d visit the Tudor period to see if I’ve got it right in my novels. I’d like to discover for myself what changed Henry VIII from a virtuous, golden prince into an embittered ‘monster’. At the start of his reign he had great potential yet something happened to change him after 1536. Some say it was a fall from a horse that damaged his mind, others that it was nurture and some believe he was born that way and the decline in his character was inevitable. I’d like to find out for myself at close quarters but not so close that he would notice me. I’d not want to end up on the scaffold.

Please tell us about your latest published work. 

SistersMy latest release is Sisters of Arden and it is set during the dissolution of the monasteries in Henry VIII’s reign. The plight of those affected by the dissolution has always intrigued me and I enjoyed revisiting the period. The records of Arden Priory are scanty but by piecing together what little we know with wider records of the dissolution and the Pilgrimage of Grace, I have explored the closure of the abbeys and the uprisings that followed from the perspective of a group of three insignificant nuns.

Sisters of Arden follows the path of Margery, Grace and Frances, after the closure of Arden. Their adventures take them the length and breadth of Yorkshire. They move from determination to despair, from hope to disillusion but, with their world in pieces, the only thing they can do is try to rebuild it.

Blurb

Arden Priory has remained unchanged for almost four hundred years. When a nameless child is abandoned at the gatehouse door, the nuns take her in and raise her as one of their own.

After the execution of Anne Boleyn in 1536, the embittered King strikes out, and unprecedented change sweeps across the country. The bells of the great abbeys fall silent, the church fragments and the very foundation of the realm begins to crack.

Determined to preserve their way of life, Margery and the sisters of Arden join a pilgrimage thirty thousand strong and attempt to lead the heretic king back to grace.

Sisters of Arden is a story of valour, virtue and veritas.

Buy link: mybook.to/sistersofarden

If you would like to know more about Judith and her work, please check out her links below: 

Webpage

Amazon Author page

Blog

 

A Conversation with Author Linda Covella

Today in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Linda Covella, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.

You are very welcome, Linda, please introduce yourself:

Author Photo 2Hello Pam and visitors! My varied background and education have led me down many paths, but one thing I never strayed from is my love of writing.

In writing for kids and teens, I hope to bring to them the feelings books gave me when I was a child: the worlds they opened, the things they taught, the feelings they expressed.

I have four published novels for middle grade and young adult, and a recently released narrative nonfiction picture book. I’ve been a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) since 2002. I live in Santa Cruz, CA with my husband, Charlie, and dog, Ginger.

Did you read much as a child?

I’ve been an avid reader from an early age thanks to my mother who was a school librarian. Also an artist and choral singer, she taught and encouraged me to embrace all the arts.

Are you an avid reader now?

Yes. I must always have a book to read!

Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

I read a wide variety of genres and books for both adults and children. I enjoy reading middle grade and young adult books, but I also read them for the education, i.e., learning technique and craft from other children’s writers.

I read most genres, but not a lot of romance or thrillers. I’ve always loved historical fiction and still am drawn to those stories. I get more into character than plot (though of course the plot has to be engaging), so if a story includes deeply realized characters, I’ll enjoy it.

Are you self-published or traditionally published?

Yakimali's Gift Front Cover_400x618Both. My first books (Yakimali’s Gift and The Ghost Whisperer series books) were originally traditionally published with small presses. One went out of business, and I ended up self-publishing these books as well as Cryptogram Chaos.Ghosts Cover with Gold Medal_400x616

My latest book, The Power of a Dream: Maria Feliciana Arballo, Latina Pioneer, a narrative nonfiction picture book, is traditionally published.

Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. With self-publishing, you have more control over the publication, the content, the layout and presentation, and how quickly it’s published. But more costs and time are required for covers, publication, editing, etc.

With traditional, you have support of the publisher who pays for the cover, editing, initial publication, etc. The Power of a Dream has beautiful illustrations by an artist hired by the publisher.

Either method requires the author to do marketing!

Which genre do you write in and why?

I’m a children’s author, and I love writing for children, having them as my audience. Kids and teens have such unique perspectives on life. I absolutely love hearing what’s on a kid’s mind—at any age.

The youngsters are always fun to watch as they show their amazement and delight with each new discovery—discoveries that we have long since taken for granted.

During the middle-school years, kids are starting to come into their own, learning who they are and flexing their maturity muscles. Their independence is beginning to flourish as they start to question things and form their own ideas and opinions.

I have a great respect for teens. By that age, they’ve developed their own one-of-a-kind personalities and strong viewpoints on all sorts of topics. They rightfully question things and begin to test and stretch the limits that are attempting to rein them in. Believe it or not, I can still remember those feelings from my own teen years, and it’s an exhilarating time of life.

I think writing for kids keeps me in touch with the feelings from my childhood. It also encourages me to keep an open mind when I’m with kids, to remind me they are unique individuals, and to give them that respect.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

I’d have to say my mother. First of all, she taught me to love reading, and reading is so important if you want to be a writer. When I started pursuing writing professionally, she was my biggest fan, always encouraging me to keep at it, to never give up.

Of course, other authors and the books I’ve read my entire life have influenced me as well. But it’s difficult to pinpoint any one author who’s had the biggest influence.

What is the best thing about being an author? And the flipside – what is the worst?

I love being creative, and writing is one outlet for that. But the best thing is when I get a positive reaction to one of my books, especially from the targeted audience—kids and teens. The worst thing? That would have to be the marketing, especially personal appearances. I’m not a practiced public speaker, so those are difficult for me. But it’s getting easier each time!

Is social media an essential chore or something you enjoy? Which forum do you prefer?

I like the aspect of social media that allows me to reach out to so many people. I’m most active on Facebook and Twitter. I recently joined Instagram, so I’m working on building up my following there. I also have accounts on Goodreads, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and book trailers on YouTube.

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

I never thought of writing as a career. Instead, I ended up with a few degrees—art, business, mechanical drafting, manufacturing management—while I decided what I wanted to do with my life. Now, besides writing, I run my and my husband’s small tech business (we have a product my husband, an electronics engineer, designed). I also volunteer with the local Young Writers Program where I mentor kids and teens in the classroom.

Please tell us about your latest published work.

My latest book, released February 26, 2019, is a narrative nonfiction picture book: The Power of a Dream: Maria Feliciana Arballo, Latina Pioneer.

Power of a Dream cover_Page_01The story tells of a little-known part of U.S. history when, in 1775, some of the first Spanish settlers embarked on a colonization expedition from Mexico to California. THE POWER OF A DREAM focuses on Feliciana Arballo, an inspiring, brave, and remarkable woman, especially for the time in which she lived. Her husband died before the expedition began, and, as a young widow, Feliciana made the arduous four-month journey with her daughters: the infant Estaquia and four-year-old Tomása. Her husband, and thus her daughters, were looked down upon as mestizos, those of mixed Spanish and Indian heritage. As many immigrants do today, she followed her dream to have a better life in California for herself and her children, including eight more children she had with her second husband. Feliciana is referenced in the diaries of Captain Juan Bautista de Anza, who led the expedition, and Father Pedro Font, who also went on the journey. The book includes my two author notes: one discusses Feliciana’s background and her descendants, many of whom played important roles in the history of California; the other author note provides a background of the expedition itself.

The primary audience are children ages 5 – 10 (grades 1-4), as well as parents and teachers who can use the book to teach children about this important part of U.S. history and how it relates to today’s issues of race, immigration, heritage, and the value of diversity.

Thanks so much for the interview, Pam. I really enjoyed answering these questions.

If you would like to know more about Linda and her work, check out her links below:

Website

Facebook

Twitter @lindacovella

Instagram

LinkedIn

Goodreads

Pinterest

YouTube

 

A Conversation with Author Angelina Jameson

Today in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Angelina Jameson, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.

You are very welcome to the Library, Angelina, please introduce yourself:

AJThank you for having me here, Pam. I’m Angelina and I live in Alaska. I was born in Las Vegas, Nevada and lived in several of the states here in the USA and in Suffolk, England. I love to travel and spend time with my husband and two grown sons.

Which genre do you write in and what draws you to it?

I currently write in the long Regency. I love the elegance and the manners of the era.

Are you an avid reader? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

I love to read. My tastes change often although I mostly read mysteries and romance.

Are you a self-published/traditional or hybrid author?

I’m a hybrid author.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

That’s a hard one but I would have to say Julia Quinn. Her Bridgerton books are why I try to have a little bit of lightheartedness in my work.

Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?

Although I grew up in America my mom was fascinated with England, so I grew up learning about castles, kings and queens. I joined the military, made it to England and knew I wanted to write about the history of the country in some fashion.

What was the best piece of writing advice you received when starting out?

To read a lot. By reading you learn how to write dialogue, how to weave in backstory.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

The evening when everyone in the house is in bed and I have quiet time. I have a bad habit of needing near silence to really get into writing.

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

I would want to be an Archaeologist. One of my sons is currently in school for archaeology and I am a bit jealous.

If you could live the life of an historical figure for one day, who would you choose and what would you get up to?

Jane Austen. I would love to visit her sister Cassandra and perhaps peep at some of the letters from Jane that Cassandra destroyed. Simply to see what Jane saw every day and mingle with her family.

If you could travel back in time, what era would you go to? What draws you to this particular time?

The Regency era. I like the idea of civility and more elegant dress. It is my favourite time period to write and it would be nice to go back and see if the social customs and habits of the gentry are what we believe them to be.

Please tell us about your latest published work. 

CoverMy latest work is Lord Albany’s Bride. It is a Regency historical novella with a couple in their 40’s.

Nearly twenty-five years ago John Winge let Emma slip through his fingers. Emma is now a widow, her two sons all grown up. Now a viscount, Lord John Albany needs to know if he used his handicapped sister as an excuse to never marry or because he couldn’t imagine a life with anyone other than Emma.

Lady Emma Upton’s loveless first marriage was merely a way to secure the children she desperately wanted. Now a widow, she can’t imagine a reason she would need a husband, let alone one in the form of Lord Albany, a notorious fortune-hunter.

 

Buy Links: Amazon US

Or Click below for Amazon UK

 

If you would like to know more about Angelina and her books, please explore her social media links below:

Twitter

BookBub

Facebook

 

A Conversation with Author John Anthony Miller

This evening in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­John Anthony Miller, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into his life as an author. You are very welcome, John. Please tell us a little about yourself.

Hello, Pam – and thanks for having me.

photoI live in the U.S., in southern New Jersey, and my writing is motivated by a life-long love of travel and history. My fifth book, Honour the Dead, a historical murder mystery set in Italy in the 1920’s, has just been published. Continue reading “A Conversation with Author John Anthony Miller”

A Conversation with Author Dianne Freeman

This evening in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Dianne Freeman, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.

Dianne Freeman headshotA special welcome to you, Dianne. I love to chat with historical fiction authors, particularly those who write in the same time period as I do. Please tell us a little about yourself:

I’m a life-long book lover who retired from the world of corporate finance to pursue my passion for writing. After co-authoring the non-fiction book, Haunted Highway, The Spirits of Route 66, I realized my true love was fiction, historical mystery in particular. I also realized I didn’t like winter very much so now my husband and I pursue the endless summer by splitting our time between Michigan and Arizona.

Did you read much as a child? Are you an avid reader now? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

When I was about eight years old, my family moved to a house about 3 blocks from the public library and I’ve been an avid reader ever since. I don’t get to read quite as much now as I used to but while historical mystery is my favorite genre, I enjoy all varieties of historical fiction and most types of mystery.

Are you self-published or traditionally published?

I’m traditionally published with Kensington Books.

Which genre do you write in and why?

I write historical mystery with a bit of humor. I started with this genre because it’s what I love to read. I continued because I enjoy digging into the late Victorian era, plotting a crime, then creating a story around it. I love leaving clues then leading readers in the wrong direction with a scattering of red-herrings.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

I like to think if Janet Evanovich and Edith Wharton had ever been able to collaborate, they might have come up with a main character like my Frances Wynn. (I also like to think there are no calories in food eaten while standing so what do I know?) But I’ve definitely been influenced by Evanovich’s humor and the elite world of Wharton’s books.

Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?

 I’d imagine it must have, but not in anyway I could define.

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?

I write in drafts, so every time I have to return to page one and start the next draft I have a moment of dread that I won’t be able to fix whatever is wrong. I’ve found if I print the draft and read it through first, maybe jotting a few (hundred) notes, I realize it’s not that bad and I can tackle whatever problems it presents.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

Late afternoon is my favorite time, but I like to take a walk to think about what I need to write before I sit down and actually do it, so sometimes weather can interfere with my writing schedule.

What is the best thing about being an author? And the flipside – what is the worst?

I have a feeling this is a common answer, but I love the whole process of writing—the research, plotting, spinning a tale—it’s like traveling to another world. Marketing and promoting aren’t all bad, they can actually be fun, but they really take up a lot of time.

Is social media an essential chore or something you enjoy? Which forum do you prefer?

I do enjoy social media, but as mentioned above, it can be so time consuming. My favorite way to distract myself would be Facebook.

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

I’m retired so I’d go back to doing whatever I want, which would include plenty of reading, gardening, and maybe I’d even learn how to cook.

It’s the last day and the earth is facing oblivion – what book would you read?

Pride and Prejudice – again. At least I already know how it ends in case I don’t get to finish it.

A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder 600px widePlease tell us what you are working on and your latest published work.  

I’m currently working on book three of The Countess of Harleigh Mysteries. Book one, A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder released in June, 2018.

The story takes place in London in 1899. Frances Wynn, Countess of Harleigh, is a widow dealing with a high society burglar, a marriage-mad sister, and a murder. When the London season turns deadly, she fears one of her sister’s suitors may be the killer. Frances must rally her wits and a circle of gossiping friends and enemies to unmask the culprit before she becomes his next victim.

 

Buy Link – Amazon US

Buy Link – Amazon UK

If you would like to know more about Dianne and her work, please check out her links below: 

Website:  https://difreeman.com/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/DianneFreemanAuthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Difreeman001

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/diannefreemanwrites/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17347322.Dianne_Freeman