Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My Novel with a Twenty year Gestation period by: Gail MacMillan

I've always been fascinated by the history of my region of Northern New Brunswick. After writing two history books about the area and numerous magazine articles, I decided I had to capture the area's colorful past in fiction. I set out to tell the story of what happened to the Miramichi Valley when, in the 1840's , steamships were rapidly replacing the graceful windjammers, the construction of which was a major industry for residents. I'd barely begun my epic when I returned to 9 to 5 work to help support the family. Then I embarked on getting my university degree. And along the way, I still managed to write several hundred magazine articles and stories as well as three less ambitious romance novels.

Finally I graduated from university the same year that my eldest daughter received her degree in education. Not satisfied, I went on to do post graduate work at the University of Western Ontario in expository and narrative writing. Through it all I kept working on the labor of love that was my historical epic.

Eventually it was finished and I sent it off to an agent. She didn't reply for some time but months later sent a note saying she'd taken the novel to England because she thought a publisher there might be a fit. When it wasn't, she abandoned the manuscript. A second agent was enthusiastic at the start but eventually vanished, manuscript and all. Discouraged, I put the manuscript in a drawer.

Some years later I began working with editors at The Wild Rose Press. I mentioned my abandoned manuscript to one of them and she asked to see it. Now it had been written largely in pre-computer days so that meant I had to re-type all 150,000 words into e-mailable form. I'm nothing if not determined so I set to the task. Months and several severe edits later, my story finally appeared under the title of "Shadows of Love."

It had been twenty years start to finish and I'm not sure I'd have the stamina to do it all again. But I am happy to see finally out in the light of day.

Gail MacMillan
twitter: tollerbeagle44
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Beth Kennedy’s Diary Entry by Chrys Fey

Dear whoever may find this,

I am writing in case I don’t survive. Whether I die by Hurricane Sabrina’s windy hands or by Donovan Goldwyn’s strong hands is the question, but I am not taking any chances. You see, I saved Donovan’s life, putting myself at risk, and I didn’t exactly walk away from that unscathed, but I still have my life. For now.

I was fooled by Donovan’s violet eyes, but a murderer’s eyes can be any color. There is no proof that he’s a killer, there is no proof that he’s not. And every fiber of my self-defense-instructor-being is telling me to run. RUN! But I can’t. Hurricane Sabrina is waiting for me outside, banging at the doors and windows like an intruder trying to get into my house. So I am trapped with a man who can kill me at any given moment.

And yet . . . those eyes. I look into them and I can feel them prying apart my carefully crafted walls. Donovan is handsome. He is alluring. He is intense. And we are stuck together.

Anyway, if you find this and I am dead then look at the two suspects: Hurricane Sabrina and Donovan Goldwyn.


Hurricane Crimes Blurb:

After her car breaks down, Beth Kennedy is forced to stay in Florida, the target of Hurricane Sabrina. She stocks up supplies, boards up windows, and hunkers down to wait out the storm, but her plan unravels when she witnesses a car accident. Risking her life, she braves the winds to save the driver. Just when she believes they are safe, she finds out the man she saved could possibly be more dangerous than the severe weather.

Donovan Goldwyn only wanted to hide from the police, but the hurricane shoved his car into a tree. Now he's trapped with a beautiful woman while the evidence that can prove his innocence to a brutal crime is out there for anyone to find.

As Hurricane Sabrina wreaks havoc, Beth has no other choice but to trust Donovan to stay alive. But will she survive, or will she become another hurricane crime?

Chrys Fey
to purchase Hurricane Crimes 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Why I Write by Kevin V Symmons

People who know I came from a successful business career often ask me this question.  The easiest way to begin is to answer in the reverse. I do not write to gain fame and riches though I would love to have a New York Times number one best-seller and the royalties and adulation it would bring. I do not write so that I can hobnob with the cool kids or the inside sanctum of the literati. I do not write so I can talk on national TV with Matt Lauer or Oprah... Don't misunderstand me all those things would be great fun and I have no lack of ego so they would admittedly be gratifying. I have had the good fortune to be successful in my pre-writing life so putting words to paper does not feed the kids or pay the mortgage. I don't write to earn a living.

So then—you're asking by now why do you spend thousands of hours brooding over a novel crafting it till you're satisfied it's a piece worthy of sending to your readers?

The answer is patently simple... I love telling stories and (hopefully) the enjoyment they bring. I always have. I am a baby-boomer and grew up on folklore of WWII so I wrote my first short story about PT boats when I was twelve. I was enough of a nerd and a mediocre athlete so I toiled over the school paper while others wore the highly coveted school letter on their jackets.

I had the great good fortune to have emotive, enthusiastic English teachers in high school and at the undergraduate collegiate level who pushed and prodded me to the limit, bless them. Life, the military, and my growing family precluded any idea of seriously pursuing writing as anything other than a pastime or part of my job, but I always joked that someday I would write a great American novel knowing it had been done more than once. 

I had the good fortune to leave my business early and low and behold though it took many false starts, rejections, and the bolstering loyalty of supportive family, friends, and fellow authors, after several years my long dormant dream became a reality when I got what's referred to in publishing as "the call!"

And though I write slowly, I've averaged about a novel a year over the last five. Three have been published, two have been Amazon best-sellers and my debut novel was a finalist in a prestigious awards competition.

So why do I continue? Well... though I haven't had that date on the Today show yet I have achieved some recognition, made so many wonderful writing friends I've lost track, helped to run a respected writing organization, and even taught creative writing at the junior college level.

And though I am not Mary Higgins Clark or John Grisham I have had my share of rewarding "fan" encounters. I could go on, but I hope you get my point. I began this journey because I loved telling my stories and somewhere along the line it seemed that those who read my work liked them, too.

Part of it is ego. Everyone who crafts a story and asks another to read it feels he/she has something worthy of telling. But much of it is simply the enjoyment of discovering that some readers out there have enjoyed our work enough that it gave them pleasure and perhaps a respite from this fast-paced, chaotic, often frustrating world.

Matt and Oprah... eat your hearts out. NY Times book editors I have not thrown in the towel but for now, I'm happy doing what I do. Perhaps we'll have a date sometime in the future...

Enjoy this spectacular summer!

Kevin V. Symmons
Author of Solo

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Inspiration for Hurricane Crimes by Chrys Fey

In 2004, Hurricane Frances, with her brothers Charley and Ivan, attacked Florida one right after the other. These storms, especially Frances inspired my story, HURRICANE CRIMES. In this post, I recall my experiences with a Category 4 hurricane.


As Hurricane Frances inched her way to the Florida coast, a vast net of gray clouds overtook the sky. Standing on my driveway, with my hair and skirt blowing in the wind and my head tipped back, I could see the circular motion of the clouds. The wind picked up and I watched a neighbor’s forgotten trashcan go rolling down the road.

For the rest of the day, I watched Dinotopia and played dominos while I waited for the hurricane to hit. The TV would go in and out, and I remember cheering when it fought back to life. That night, the winds became so intense that the transformer in my backyard started sparking. Glowing embers rained down into the darkness below. I eyed the transformer like a ticking time bomb. Not long later, it popped with a blast of yellowish-blue light and a sheet of darkness draped over my house.

While I was sleeping, rain dropped in heavy ribbons onto the roof. Wind slammed into the boards covering the windows next to my bed, prying me out of my sleep several times, and I was always relieved to see the walls were still standing around me.

When I woke in the morning, Hurricane Frances was gone. In the light of day, which was obscured by layers of clouds, I found my neighbor’s fence flat on the ground, the roof over my porch torn, and my garage door crumpled.
I spent a week with my family without power. The temperature was high, but Hurricane Frances left behind a nice breeze. To battle the heat, I dragged my mattress to the middle of the living room and slept with all the doors and windows open to create cross-ventilation.

Days after the storm passed, my sisters and I ventured into the city where we heard FEMA was handing out supplies. Driving down deserted roads was surreal. We didn’t pass a single car on our way into the city. All the lights were down and uniformed soldiers stood at busy intersections to navigate the few cars toward the relief stations. We received MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) for my whole family to last a few days.

After several days, the wait for our power to be restored became unbearable. Finally, Florida Power and Light workers came to our aid almost a week after the power went out. The sun had retreated down the sky by the time the lights winked on again.

And that was the end of Hurricane Frances’ reign. She caused 49 deaths, 12 billion dollars worth of damage, and wide-spread flooding throughout Florida and North Carolina. But she also inspired a writer.

Chrys Fey

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Monday, June 23, 2014

The Beauty of Scotland

When Neely Powell (Leigh Neely and Jan Powell) began writing True Nature, I (Leigh) was fortunate enough to visit her son's family in Scotland. Due to the birth of her granddaughter and the subsequent birth of her grandson, she spent a total of four months in and around the area of Giffnock, just a little ways from Edinburgh.

It really is a culture shock to live away from America. Grocery stores are different, the number of incredibly old buildings just boggles the mind, and the value of learning the history of where you are seemed enhanced.

I loved Giffnock. I became accustomed to walking everywhere, something I'd never done in America. There were times, however, when I did have to ask my sweet daughter-in-law to let me sit a while between going to the post office, the grocery store, and the local park. Unfortunately, I did not continue my walking once I returned home.

Giffnock looks much like a village of old, with its beautiful stone buildings and narrow streets. I didn't drive while over there. I was sure I'd forget which side of the road I should be on and cause an accident. My son and his wife have adapted well and since leaving Scotland, have lived in Dublin and are now in London. It makes for wonderful vacations and give us opportunities to get to know places in the UK, not just visit them.

At any rate, Giffnock plays a significant role in the story of True Nature. The family of shape shifters the story focuses on are from this area and have a long and colorful Scottish history that includes a battle between clans.

Here's an excerpt:

My thoughts went back to the little kitchen in the cottage where Hunter and I stayed. We were there for two months, in the countryside between Glasgow and Edinburgh. It was close enough to town to have fun and had enough land attached to give Hunter a place to roam free and work out the kinks of shapeshifting.

We were looked after that summer by two of the MacRae family’s devoted employees. Tall, spare Robert McPhee had once been the right hand man of Hunter’s grandfather and great-grandfather. Though his face was seamed with age, he didn’t miss a beat. He knew where Hunter and I were at all times, and had even shown up a time or two unexpectedly, both in the city and out in the countryside.

It was eerie, I remembered. It was as if he had a special ability where Hunter was concerned. Robert’s wife, Molly, was as short and round he was tall and thin. Though as ancient as he was, she kept the cottage sparkling and the scent of delicious savories and sweets coming from the kitchen. That trip was one of my best summer vacations.

The beautiful countryside of Scotland seemed the perfect setting for the home of shape shifters and dysfunctional psychics! Read True Nature for their story!

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Friday, June 20, 2014

What’s in a name?

Didn’t some sage on the 16th Century say, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”… perhaps, but would it be as enticing, as interesting?

How would we view romantic fiction’s most popular and notorious heroine were her name Maude instead of Scarlett O’Hara. And what if her long-suffering suitor was named Joe instead of Rhett Butler would he have garnered the same swashbuckling bravado in our imaginations. And this works not only for the bold, the driven, and the beautiful. Let’s try and imagine a dark-hearted, morose old man named Fred instead of Ebenezer Scrooge… not quite the same. And what about Alexandria Eyre? Somehow we find it hard to imagine Charlotte Bronte’s stubborn, small, plain heroine with such an illustrious name.

No, without a doubt, character names have a vital place in both historical and contemporary literature. How often do I here the ladies swoon when the name “Ranger” is mentioned in association with heroine Stephanie Plum. Somehow if Ms. Ivanovich had named him Bob the macho element would definitely be lacking.

Convinced yet. Great!

We authors resort to a wide variety of devices, formulas, and even tricks to try to give their characters names their reading audience will remember. I’ve never subscribed to one of the many services that offer names for sale. I have friends who do. Others search the news media. Some resort to the obituaries searching for names. My best writing friend seeks names that are not only distinctive but give an exotic flavor to her characters. I admit I’m more a grass roots type. I give my characters names that I (and my beta readers) find appropriate not through formula or science but by the touch and feel method.  

My debut novel featured a heroine named Courtney (Definition: of the court) who was the embodiment of a one-thousand year old Wiccan Goddess. Her heroine was named Robert… a strong masculine name. I intentionally abbreviated his proper name by having his intimates call him Robbie, an indication of his naïveté and relative immaturity, at least when compared with his beautiful but ancient heroine. The other strongest character was Simon, an all powerful male witch who embodied both the mystery and strength contained in his name.

My latest novel features Eric, a strong monosyllabic name (definition: one strong who rules) suited for my strong, Special Forces veteran hero and Ashley-Jean (definition: one who sees, which we discover she is), a brilliant, technology savant; a frightened young woman seeking refuge from the evil that pursues her. As a young, southern woman the name seemed to fit perfectly and my test readers agreed.
Which brings up another point: the name must not only lend a visual to the character’s image in the readers mind but must symbolize their place in the story.

In a few hundred words it’s difficult to give a thorough explanation of how and why we authors chose certain methods and different strategies to breathe life into our characters not only with their thoughts and deeds but by what we call them.

I welcome input from readers and fellow authors alike why and how you choose to name your characters. Until next time…

Kevin Symmons is a successful author, college faculty member, and president of one of the Northeast's most respected writing organizations. His paranormal novel, "Rite of Passage", was a 2013 RomCon Reader's Crown Award finalist and has been an Amazon Best Seller. "Out of the Storm", a contemporary romantic thriller set on Cape Cod, is has gathered numerous 5 star reviews and will keep you turning pages late into the night. His novel "Solo", is a sweeping women's fiction work that exposes the tragedy of domestic violence in America, will be released from his award-winning publisher, the Wild Rose Press, in 2014. Kevin has collaborated with award-winning Boston screenwriter and playwright Barry Brodsky in adapting one of his story ideas for the screen. He is a sought after public speaker who has appeared across New England. Visit Kevin and like his FB Author Page, @KevinSymmons on Twitter, at Goodreads, Amazon, and at his website,

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My Corner Office - Eve Dew Crook

I admire people who can write with music playing. I’d find it distracting, for I’d be humming the tune before I knew it. I’m a concentrator. (If there is such a word....) My little office was once a dinette off the kitchen. It’s small, but I have a glass door on one side and a window in front of my computer, so I don’t feel closed in. What the picture doesn’t show, behind me, is a large closet that houses my washer and dryer—and that clackety clack music is often my background.
My favorite time to write is all morning, but if I’m caught up in a scene that’s working, I’ll keep going through half the afternoon. After that my brain usually turns off. It’s the pattern I followed for Taking the Tumble, published last year by TWRP, and my new novel, with the working title of Peril Passion, Peru. (I do love alliteration, but I’ll happily settle for any better title someone dreams up!) 

Eve Dew Crook, author of Taking the Tumble published by TWRP, shows her office bulletin board with computer on left, 
printer on right. Photo is her son, sculpture photos are her husband's work. The button in the upper left corner reads, "I 
have abandoned my search for truth and am now looking for a good fantasy."