This blog is for those 18 and older.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Interview with Eleanor Murphy


Alexis: Today we have romance author Eleanor Murphy who hails from St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Welcome Eleanor. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Eleanor: As an avid reader, especially Romance, I started really reading more and more romance on my way to and from to work. I lived in Washington D.C. area for thirty years, and worked at the U.S. Department of State, and my commute to work was long.  Plus, my job was pretty stressful so to take me into another place and time, on my ride to work, I would read.  Then I started having thoughts on developing my own story lines, and what my characters would be.  I wrote my first novel in 2009, and self-published it.

Alexis: Everyone has their own writing process…how they come up with ideas, how they name their characters, how they choose the setting. Can you describe your writing process?

Eleanor: I love to read Romance, but I also love looking at shows with Drama.  So when I have a story idea that comes to mind, I usually get good ideas from watching characters on TV, or even people who I am surrounded by.  I jot down the names of my characters, and then picture them from the characters I see on TV. I get their personalities from watching.  When I have a story in mind, depending on what it is about, I try visualizing myself in that place, like for instance, my first novel was a setting in New York City.  I made a weekend trip there and kind of walked around lower and upper Manhattan and got more of a visual by doing that.  I try to read up and look at pictures, and visualize myself in that setting.

I get up early in the morning so a lot of times I can sit down around six in the morning and write for about an hour, and again in the evening around eleven o’clock I can write for another hour before bedtime.  If I have an idea or thought during the day, I jot it down on a piece of paper.

Alexis: Which authors inspire you?

Eleanor: I think some of the authors who inspire me, are Toni Morrison, Walter Mosley, Beverly Jenkins, Donna Hill, Gwen Forster, and John Grisham.

Alexis: Those are some pretty great authors. What has been the best piece of advice you ever received for your writing career?

Eleanor: The best writing advice I got from my first novel  Love Unforgettable, is everyone that read it said it was too short.  And I should elaborate more on certain areas of the novel.  So I am in the process of rewriting the story.

Alexis: Good for you! What do you think everyone should know about your critique partner?

Eleanor: My critique partners are two friends of mine who are English teachers.  They read and make suggestions here and there in the novel, and I trust their judgment.

Alexis: Thank you, Eleanor so much for visiting with us at Happily Ever After Thoughts.

About Eleanor:


Born and raised in New York City.  My parents moved to the Virgin Islands, in the mid sixties, and I graduated from St. Croix Central High school.  I attended the University of Baltimore Maryland.  Landed my job at U.S. Department of State.  I worked for the State Department for thirty years and retired and returned to St. Croix, to be a caregiver to my aging parents. 

Here in St Croix, I am surrounded by beautiful palm trees, turquoise waters, steel pan music, flavorful cuisine.  So what better way to spend the day writing about romance, and soaking up all the Island culture and share it with my readers.

Love Unforgettable is my first novel, followed by a sequel, Tamika’s Story.  I can now sit down and escape with my laptop, on the beach and be inspired to create more romantic stories.

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Day We Hit Both Lists!

#11 Cowboy 12 Pack


I thought it was going to be a great day because my husband and I were going furniture shopping. We just renovated a little house and were living without a table to eat on, chairs to sit in, a living room to relax in or a television to watch for the last three weeks. Actually, we still are because the furniture won’t come for another four weeks and we never did get to a store with televisions. I know. Our priorities can be different.

Since I’d been up until 3:30am working on a manuscript I promised my agent, when we got home around 4:00pm I went to bed for a couple hours, so I could pull another writing/revising marathon.

That never happened.


When I woke, I turned on the computer and checked my email. A slew of messages appeared from the amazing authors I was involved with in the box set we put out called Cowboy 12 Pack (My book Cowboys Never Fold is a part of it). Seriously, these authors are wonderful, funny, encouraging, and overall great people. Some I have known for years. Some I’ve corresponded with via social media, and some I met for the first time working on this project. These wonderful ladies are Elle James, Randi Alexander, Paige Tyler, Cynthia D’Alba, Shoshanna Evers, Sable Hunter, Becky McGraw, Sabrina York, Donna Michaels, Cora Seton, and Beth Williamson. As you can imagine, when I say there was a “slew” of emails, with this many authors involved, I mean it!

Screen shots of Cowboy 12 Pack on the USA Today and New York Times Best Seller lists were attached. I just stared. Huh? I called my husband “Is this…? Does this mean…?” I couldn’t form a single whole sentence. Afraid to believe it was true, I started researching the internet. Then I went to my facebook page and there was a post from Kathryn Falk congratulating us with a photo of the New York Times list. I stepped out into our empty living room and stood there looking at my husband. “It’s true. We hit both lists.” 

He grinned as if he’d known all along.

I’m still getting used to the idea, but it’s a great idea to be getting used to. 

Giant hugs to my group of amazing, wonderful, cowgirl author friends and a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has bought the Cowboy 12 Pack. Y’all rock! Enjoy the reads :-)
 
Always, Lexi

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Research....Then and Now


        Part of my goals for this new year is/was de-cluttering as much as possible. Fortunately for me, I am not a pack-rat because clutter makes me uncomfortable anyway…but my DH kinda is (we’re not going to discuss his workshop…it’s the stuff of nightmares) so I was cleaning out my computer room in order to comply with this objective. You know the drill….if it’s not needed and not useful, it shouldn’t stay (my shredder has gotten quite the workout).
          So what did I find? The most amazing things. I have three old binders I hadn’t opened in a long time (except to dust). They are front and center on one of the shelves to my left along with research and writing oriented books. And they were full. Page after page of my neat penmanship (I went to Catholic school when learning penmanship was a required course) or closely written print filled with facts and figures on white college-ruled loose leaf paper. There are pages and pages I copied from books I found on dress for both sexes from the Civil War to the turn of the century as well as copies of steamboats and trains and sailing ships. There were maps, too. And brochures from the Chamber of Commerce of over a dozen cities around the country, especially those that are historical in nature, like Natchez and Sacramento and San Francisco.
          What’s amazing about this? It was all gathered before I was spoiled by the Internet when one had to go to the library in order to learn about the history of military camps in Arizona, the history of ranching in Texas or the settling of Galveston and so many other things one must know to write historical romances.
          Now, if I want to know something, some fact that is crucial to the story I’m writing, I hop on Google or Bing or one of the more than a dozen websites that cater to history lovers. After looking through all this work, all these details about times and places I find fascinating, in the end, I was unable (and unwilling) to toss my binders. They’ll stay on my shelf until I’m ready for another stroll down memory lane.

Happy Reading (and researching)!
Marie

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Interview with Mary Maxie



Alexis: Today we are chatting with Contemporary/ Time Travel Romance author Mary Maxie.
 
Hi Mary and welcome. What was the strangest thing that inspired a story for you?

Mary: The Calgary Stampede is an internationally known event in Calgary Alberta Canada. It is the largest rodeo in the world, & has the highest payouts for winners. Yet, it’s sometimes not well known. Every year, everyone in the city & surrounding towns dresses western, decorates their home & business in a western cowboy theme, & yet still people arrive during Stampede week with no idea what’s going on. I started Sophie’s Calgary Stampede with a Washington lawyer arriving in the city wearing high heels & a power suit while everyone else is dressed in cowboy gear. That happens a lot, so it’s a fun way to initiate the meeting between Sophie & her ‘cowboy’.

Alexis: That sounds like fun. I bet the rodeo was pretty fun too ;-) How long did it take you to write your most recent release A Teacher of Time: Berlin Wall

Mary: I’m a very fast & prolific writer. I am an avowed pantser, & suffer somewhat from ADD. I write the way I read, working on several books at once. When I get stuck on a scene or direction for one, I just start working on another book for a while till I get stuck on that one. I’m usually working on 3-5 books at a time. I publish 5-6 books a year, between my two names. The shortest time I have worked on a book is 48 hours, when I wrote my book on 9/11, & the longest maybe a year, working sporadically elapsed time is different, as I have a full time job, so have to fit writing in when I can. If I could work on a book every day, I think it would only take me a couple of weeks to finish.

Alexis: Wow that is fast. Everyone has their own writing process…how they come up with ideas, how they name their characters, how they choose the setting. Can you describe your writing process?

Mary: I name my characters by choosing given names from my husband’s & my family trees. I get surnames from towns, neighborhoods & areas where I grew up. I choose settings from my past, my home town, my grandparents’ & other relatives’ towns where I spent time growing up, my college city, my current home town & surrounding towns, & places I have visited. I don’t really have a writing process per se. Stories spring from my mind almost fully formed & I can’t get the words down as fast as my mind can make them up. I am working on the third in my Teacher of Time series, & I had so much fun working on Christmas stories that I think I’ll do another Happy HoHoHo book for next Christmas. I’d also like to do a couple of more mainstream, sweeter stories, such as Sophie’s Calgary Stampede.  

One thing I do as a process, is write the main story as quickly as possible, without much dialog or description. Then once that’s done, I start at the beginning and add all the dialog & description, which usually doubles the word count. Then I start at the beginning again, looking for continuity, whether the story flows well, & how everything fits together. I know they say don’t edit your own work, but I’m the best editor I’ve ever seen in all the books I’ve read over the years. I worked as a professional editor for years, & I call myself a grammar nazi, because I send corrections to newspapers & publishers of the books I read. I used to grade university English & business papers & textbooks, so editing comes easily to me.

Alexis: That is a very unique process. Good for you! When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Mary: I’ve been writing since I was a kid. News & sports stories, newspaper columns, essays, speeches for politicians, editorials, textbooks, blogs, grant proposals, you name it. However, I only started writing fiction about five years ago. I wish I had done this years ago.

Alexis: I know. It’s so much fun! How do you decide on titles for all those books?

Mary: Most of my titles have a woman’s name in them. Sophie’s Calgary Stampede, Riona’s Holiday Romance, Elisabeth’s Christmas Gifts. That’s for continuity between the books, although all are Stand-alone. There are other titles, but the majority have my heroines’ names.

Alexis: Mary, thank you so much for visiting.  

Check out the blurb from Mary’s latest A Teacher of Time: Berlin Wall

This is the second novel in the Teacher of Time series. Following on the success of the Theresenstadt Concentration Camp story where Peter and Laurena left present day Phoenix and travelled to 1943 Germany, the story of the Berlin Wall takes their son Friedrich back in time to 1973. Using the Phoenix Musical Instrument Museum as a portal, Friedrich goes back to 1973 East Berlin, where he meets Mari, a violin student who shows promise, but can’t go to the West to study because of the Wall.

Friedrich wants to take Mari back to the present day with him to fulfill the promise of her talent, but can he convince her parents that his time travel is real, and that they can safely let their beloved daughter leave with him to who knows what uncertain future?

About Mary
Mary lives in Phoenix Arizona, where she sells real estate, spends time with three granddaughters, the oldest of whom is her computer guru, setting up websites, manufacturing book trailers, and inventing new plots for stories of interest to teens. Mary’s interests apart from granddaughters, are singing, golf, symphony, live theater, entertaining, cooking and decorating, especially for holidays of any kind. She also is a published author of romance novels under a pen name. Mary welcomes comments on her books at mary@marymaxieauthor.com www.marymaxieauthor.com |Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads