Book Review ~~ The Summer Swap

   5 out of 5 stars    ~~  Book Review

Just Released!

Sarah Morgan has really delivered this time! The characters are so fun and richly drawn.  I had special empathy for the 75-year-old, Cecilia. A feisty matriarch, she gets a few surprises when she returns to Dune Cottage after avoiding the place for decades.

The writer’s imagery is powerful. You can smell the salty air from the ocean, hear the seagulls scolding. 

Overall, it’s a great summer read and I highly recommend it to
my readers. 

Did you miss my interview with Sarah
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                                                          Coming Soon! 

Newest Journal

 

 

 

 

Poetry Soup gives Trisha’s poetry some love!

Dear Trisha,

Congratulations, this is just a quick notice to let you know that your poem Heart is one of the poems being featured on the PoetrySoup home page this week. Poems are rotated each day in groups of 14-16 to give each poem an equal opportunity to be displayed.

Thanks again and congratulations.

Sincerely, PoetrySoup

heart ©

the heart
pumping, nourishing the body’s life
feeding life’s blood, glistening, pumping
pumping,

the heart
the largest vessel in the universe
it holds as much love and grief
as its host fills it with
its capacity never replete,

the heart
still there is room for more
joy, pain, love, grief, ache
bleeding out with sorrow
surfeit with joyous wonder

and still there is room for
more
and more
and more
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                                                   COMINGSOON!

My chat with author, Sarah Morgan (conclusion)

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

SM. It’s hard work, and I think it’s important to emphasize that because so often writing is seen as the ‘dream job’ and while in many ways it is (providing you love writing!) it’s also tough and requires bucket loads of resilience and determination. I write two books a year, summer and winter, which gives me little flexibility with deadlines. I start with an outline which I send to my publisher – not detailed, but a summary of the book showing the characters and the main emotional turning points. Then I start writing. And like all jobs there are good days and bad days, and of course in the middle of that life happens and you have days where you can’t

Just Released!

write, but I set myself a shorter deadline than my official deadline to give myself time for things to slip a little. Some writers produce a rough draft without once looking back, and then go back and edit in detail.

I prefer to edit lightly as I go along, although I’m careful not to spend too long ‘fiddling’ as an excuse to not push ahead! Once I have a full draft I read it on my ereader, because it gives me a more authentic reader experience and for some reason I spot things reading that way that I might not spot on my laptop. Then I send it to my editor. There will probably be a couple of rounds of edits, and then we’re done!

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

SM. None of my characters are ever based on me, but writers are great observers and I look around and see what people are dealing with and often those issues will find themselves in a book. It fascinates me that two people will deal with the same issue differently and that’s why every book is different, no matter how many you write. Because the characters are different. And writing is all about emotions and feelings of course, and all of us have experienced those emotions at one time or another. You might never have met a dragon face to face, but you know what it’s like to experience awe and fear. Those emotions are universal.

Q. What’s your downtime look like?

SM. I spend a lot of time indoors writing, so when I’m not writing I try and spend as much time as possible outdoors being active. I love hiking, and also riding my mountain bike. Writing is mostly solitary (and I’m an extrovert, which brings its challenges!) so I often meet up with friends and family.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre?

SM. I certainly wouldn’t rule it out, although right now I’m happy writing women’s fiction and romance and I don’t feel as if I’ve finished in that space.

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

SM. Reflect before you respond. I’m impulsive and tend to jump in with an instinctive response to a situation and later I’ll sometimes wish I’d handled it differently. I’ve learned to pause!
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What Do You Do When Your Story Plot Takes a Hard Turn?

GO WITH IT!!

I write this post at the risk of my readers rubbing their temples and saying to themselves, ‘Trish has completely gone off the rails. Now she’s got voices talking to her, reaching out their hands and leading her down another story pathway? Has she gone completely nuts?’

I’m not a very organized writer…well, that is to say, I just let ‘er rip! I’m what’s known as a ‘pantser‘. A writer who dives into their work without a detailed plan or outline is often called a “pantser”. Yes, you read that right—it’s not a typo! The term ‘pantser’ comes from the phrase “flying by the seat of your pants.” These writers rely on their intuition and creativity to guide them as they write, allowing the story to unfold naturally without the constraints of pre-planning. Famous authors who embrace this approach include Margaret Atwood, George R.R. Martin, and Stephen King. So I’m in good company.

So here how it works:

I have an idea of a story plot but only in my head. When my brain is so full of the new story I must empty it out, I sit at my keyboard and began typing.  It’s going very well, the words are flowing and the story is going in the direction I had loosely planned.

Then one night, (120 pages in) about 3am (my best thinking time) I thought to myself, ‘this isn’t about Hannah Mae at all. It’s about her brother, Jerry and his music.’ I lay there and started dictating into my phone the salient points I wanted to tell. How young Jerry is a prodigy. He can play a song after he hears it just once. He can write the music down on paper. He composes effortlessly.
It was like Jerry reached out his hand and led me to his story path. And now with a bit of editing I am exploring his story and the musicians and mentors he meets as a young musician. It has been fascinating, for me, to research and learn about the ‘bluesmen’ of the 1950’s. 

I mentioned it’s happened before:  I had occasion to visit a state prison for men and as I sat waiting with the other visitors (mostly other women) their energy reached out to me and whispered, “you must write about us. The women who wait, the women who hold the family together until the day our man is released.’ 
I began writing their stories the next day.

Half way through writing this warm and fuzzy tale, I was interrupted when one of my characters took a hostage, at knife point, in the visiting room. It stopped me dead in my tracks. I remember yelling at the computer screen, “NO!!”   I considered ignoring what the character,  Charlie, had done. Back space the words, delete them, forget it had happened. But I couldn’t. It was already there on the screen and besides…it was a good twist and made perfect sense within the plot. It was meant to be.

I knew nothing about hostage negotiating. It was a delay of about two months while I researched and wove a new negotiator  into my story, how the other visitors relate to her (yes, she’s a female negotiator .) and remembering that the entire visitors’ area has been taken hostage too. 

Learn how to do the rest: story plot, character development, structure, arc, themes, rising action, inciting incident/s, and setting. 
But, TRUST YOUR GUT!  Your creativity, intuition, and (if you’re very lucky) your story characters should lead you through the story that must be told!
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Interview with author, Sarah Morgan (part 2)

Q. What first inspired you to write?

SM. I always loved writing, even when I was a child. Then by chance I read a medical romance when I was working as a nurse and I was sure I could write one! I did, and I had a great deal of fun doing it. My whole career started from there.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

SM. Sometimes I do, depending on where I am in the book. But I’m careful not to romanticize writing. There are days when the words flow easily and those days are to be treasured of course, but there are also days where I’m examining each sentence and editing closely, making sure that everything I write is as good as it can be and that is important too. Writing is wonderful, but also hard work and I think it’s important to acknowledge that. If it feels hard it’s not because you’re not doing it right!

Q. What compelled you to choose and settle on the genre you now write in?

SM. I mostly write women’s fiction now, but there is almost always some romance in my books (and I wrote romance for years before I moved on to broader stories). I’m interested in relationships, and that includes family and friends as well as romantic relationships. I’m interested in what happens when friendships are challenged, when family relationships are in conflict and when romance isn’t straightforward. I enjoy exploring many of the issues that affect women today, but most of all I love to entertain and romance and women’s fiction are both entertaining genres.

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

SM. I’ve just finished a book that will be out in time for the festive season. It’s called The Holiday Cottage (in the UK the title is The Christmas Cottage) and it explores themes of loneliness, friendship and family. It was so much fun to write and I hope it will make readers laugh aloud (although they may well shed a tear too!).

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

SM. I’ve scribbled stories and experimented for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t finish a book until I was at home with young children. After that there was no stopping me.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

SM. No I don’t. I think readers are individuals and we all seek different ways to read. I know people who walk for miles listening to an audiobook, who use an ebook to soften the boredom of a long commute, but will still lounge in a bubble bath with a paperback at the end of the day. And let’s not underestimate the appeal of a beautiful hardcover book with sprayed edges!

Q. What makes a writer great?

SM. As a reader I want to be immersed in the story and engaged with the characters. I want to be transported from my world to the world the writer has created, and I want to care enough about what happens in the book to want to read the book in one sitting. A great writer will make me feel everything the characters are feeling.

Did you miss Part 1 of this wonderful Interview?

The conclusion upcoming next week!

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Interview with Sarah Morgan, Author

Sarah Morgan always knew she wanted to be a writer but took a slight detour along the way to train as a nurse, an experience that has found its way into many of her books. A lover of the outdoors, many of her story ideas come while hiking in wild places and she is also a keen photographer. She has been a published author for more than twenty years and lives near London, England where the rain frequently keeps her trapped in her office.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, or special space for your writing? (please provide a photo of you at work in your shed, room, closet, barn, or houseboat….) Or tell us about your ‘dream’ workspace.

SM. At the beginning of my career I worked

anywhere and everywhere. I had young children so I made sure I was flexible – I’d keep notebooks with me and scribble a few lines at every opportunity and I often worked in the evenings when they were in bed. Now I’m lucky enough to have an office at the bottom of my garden, so in the summer I work with the doors and windows open, surrounded by birdsong and the buzz of bees. It’s very relaxing and great for focus.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat workspace, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, a glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

SM. I almost always have a cup of tea or coffee, but that’s as far as it goes! I have resisted the temptation to create rituals because I want to be able to write anywhere, at any time, regardless of the conditions. I used to write to music, but now I find I need silence although I often use music for inspiration to get me in the right ‘mood’ for the story.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

SM. I worked behind a bar one summer and it was the most perfect job for observing human behaviour. Also great for learning to mix a drink!

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

SM. All I need is something to write on. Preferably my laptop, but if a pen and paper is all that is available I’ll use that. I find sticky notes useful because you can scribble down a line of dialogue or a plot point and put it on the wall. It’s easy to move notes around and a great way to visualize your story.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

SM. I think it’s all about developing positive habits. Presumably you want to write, or you wouldn’t be doing it, so sometimes it helps to remind yourself why you’re doing it. Identify your temptations so that you can plan to avoid them. For example if your weakness is getting distracted by the internet then switch it off until you’ve finished your word count for the day. If you’re finding it hard to concentrate then set yourself small acheiveable goals, either in time (work for thirty minutes without distraction), or word count (write 1000 words before stopping). Having a schedule and sticking to it is often helpful.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

SM. The characters and their situation/problem usually appear to me at the same time. Like most writers I ask myself the ‘what if’ question. No two individuals will respond to a challenge in the same way, and that’s why every story is fresh and new even when you might be exploring well trodden themes.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

Join us for part 2  Click here!

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Coming Soon!
A new novel by Trisha Sugarek:   Ain’t Nothin’ Gonna Separate  Us

Book Review ~~ Thirty Days in Paris by Veronica Henry

5 out of 5 stars     Book Review

Good writers have the most wonderful ideas for a book. Great writers have the persistence, courage, knowledge, and passion to get the story written down,  weaving those ideas into the very fabric of existence. 

Veronica Henry is a great writer of contemporary stories with wonderful empathic, interesting characters.  And Thirty Days in Paris is no exception.

Juliet has just suffered from empty nest syndrome big time, and her husband is in some mid-life crisis that she can’t understand. They finally agree that they have grown apart and their marriage has reached its ‘sell by’ date. 

Juliet happens upon an advert:  “ TO LET. Charming ‘chambre de bonne’ in the 2eme. Situated a stone’s throw from the glamorous Rue Saint-Honore with its chic boutiques….” 
Paris, the city of love, has always lingered in Juliet’s heart. Now, fueled by whimsy and courage, she answers the ad. The tiny apartment becomes her cocoon, her canvas for reinvention.

The plot is delicious! Juliet’s courage to move from a suburban-Mom’s life to a soon-to-be single middle aged woman on her own is tantilizing. The writing flows like wine. The surprises? Oh, they sizzle like crepes in a skillet—each flip revealing a layer of vulnerability, resilience, and newfound purpose. Veronica Henry’s prose dances, and we, the readers, waltz along.

I highly recommend this book to my readers. 
Did you miss my interview with Veronica Henry? 
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Interview with J.A. Wright, Author of Eat & Get Gas (part 2)

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

JW. They just pop into my head. Some I ignore, though, because they’re too weird or too mean.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

JW. Desperation.
When I first got sober, an older sober woman took me to lunch and told me I could write my way into a new way of thinking. I thought she was crazy, but I did it anyway because I didn’t have a better idea. It turned out that she was right.

Max

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

JW. The voice.

Q. Would you please elaborate?

JW. I walk/hike almost daily, occasionally hearing my inner self say something useful, such as the opening line of Eat and Get Gas, ‘I was six and Adam was thirteen when our brother Teddy was born.’ Yesterday, I clearly heard…’ he was never very good at reading the room.’ I messaged the line to myself (as I often do) and might use it in a short story.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

JW. I can’t count the number of times my husband arrived home from work to find me in the same spot I was when he left that morning.

Q. What compelled you to choose and settle on the genre you now write in?

JW. I knew very little about genres when I finished my first novel and was surprised when my editor said it was literary fiction.

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

JW. I’ve made a lot of notes lately, and maybe they’re the makings of a novel. I’m not sure yet.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

JW. When I turned forty (over twenty years ago).

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

JW. Perhaps. I was a paperback reader until covid. This past year, I’ve purchased more audio and e-books than paperbacks. I know others who’ve done the same.

Q. What makes a writer great?

JAW with Frank McCourt

JW. I asked Frank McCourt his exact question when he came to NZ to promote Angela’s Ashes. In the greenroom, when he finished his story about never having to wear Florsheim shoes again, he said, ‘Great writers write what they know, be it awful or grand.’ I don’t know if it’s the truth for everyone, but he inspired me to write what I know or think I know.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

Lucy, the hen

JW. Huge exhale!

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

JW. It’s all connected to my past or present.

Q. What’s your downtime look like?

My walking trail

JW. I walk (hike) several times weekly while listening to audiobooks or music (jazz, classical and sometimes the Allman Brothers).

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre?

JW. Probably not …unless ‘faction’ becomes a legitimate genre 

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

JW. I can be a good example or a great reminder.
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Did you miss the start of this wonderful interview? Or my review of Eat and Get Gas?
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Interview with author, J.A. Wright

JW. I’m the second of four daughters born to Lois and Walt. My father’s family were (are) enrolled members of the Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa Indians. My mother’s family was in the logging business and lived close to Gifford Pinchot State Park. I grew up in Tacoma, Washington.
In 1988, I met and married a Kiwi polo player, and we moved to Christchurch, New Zealand, where I have worked in the arts and events industry, creating and producing events and festivals ever since. For my services to the arts, the King appointed me an Officer of the N Z Merit of Honor.
I discovered the soothing effects of writing in 1985, the same year I got sober, after someone suggested I write my thoughts in a journal. I journaled for a couple of years before deciding to write a novel. How to Grow an Addict, was published in 2015. My second novel, Eat and Get Gas, was released on June 6, 2023, and has been optioned for TV/Film by Producer Leanne Moore (GLOW and The Lincoln Lawyer for Netflix).

Writing in my office

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, or special space for your writing? (please provide a photo of you at work in your shed, room,

closet, barn, or houseboat….) Or tell us about your ‘dream’ workspace.

JW. I taught myself to tune out the world and focus on writing, and for years I was happy to write almost anywhere. Lately though, in this covid era, I write at home, where it’s quiet. I use my laptop and often move from desk to couch to chair.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat workspace, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, a glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

JW. I eat a lot of toast when I’m in a writing groove (avocado, strawberry jam with too much butter, and occasionally a smashed banana), and I often turn off my phone and lock the front door. I have a pen collection and many notebooks filled with ideas and comments.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

JW. I cringe when I read or hear the word ‘moist.’

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

JW. I write on Post-it notes, in a notebook, on my phone, and my laptop.

Q. Do you have pets? Tell us about them and their names.

JW. We have four polo ponies (Roxy, Rudy, Allie, and Pearl), two cats (Max and Gracie), and nine chickens (Lucy, Gothe, Little Lavie, Big Lavie, Grey Stumpy, Black Stumpy, White Stumpy, Hooty one and

Hooty1 and Hooty2

Hooty two).

Q. Do you enjoy writing in other forms (playwriting, poetry, short stories, etc.)?
If yes, tell us about it.

JTW. I’ve been trying to write a decent short story for months. It’s harder than I thought it would be.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

JW. I don’t have advice because it’s an issue for me, too, but I’ve learned that suffering is optional, and it’s best if I give into the thing that yells at me to be written.

 

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

Join us for part 2 of our Interview next week.
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Scammers Prey on Authors!

You’ve written a good solid story…a novel that would make a great movie. But without representation….like that’s ever gonna happen!  
Then you get a call.  It goes something like this: 

‘Hi Trisha. My name is James Anderson, and I am calling you on behalf of Tristar Pictures in collaboration with our esteemed investor, HBO Max. We recently had the pleasure of reading your remarkable book “Song of the Yukon”, and we were captivated by its compelling content.

Tristar Pictures, renowned for its excellence in producing world class films, and HBO Max, a global streaming platform with millions of subscribers worldwide, share a strong interest in adapting extraordinary literary works like yours into cinematic masterpieces. After careful evaluation and internal discussions, we are thrilled to extend an official offer to acquire the film rights for your book.

Considering the immense potential of your book to resonate with audiences of all ages, HBO has proposed an initial offer of $300,000 to secure the exclusive film rights. This offer signifies our genuine admiration for your creative talent and is a testament to the immense value we see in bringing your book to the silver screen.

We envision a grand production, backed by Tristar Pictures extensive experience in film making and HBO’s vast global reach, ensuring that your story reaches audiences far and wide, leaving a lasting impact on cinema enthusiasts worldwide. The combined efforts of Tristar and HBO will provide your story with the attention, resources, and expertise it truly deserves.

Rest assured, we value your creative input and vision for the adaptation, and we will work diligently to ensure that the film stays true to the essence of your book. Your involvement in the project as a consultant or collaborator, if you wish, would be highly appreciated.

Should you choose to move forward with this exciting opportunity, we will be more than delighted to initiate the necessary legal procedures promptly. We are open to further negotiations if you have any additional requests or suggestions.

As we embark on this creative journey together, we assure you that your book will be in the hands of passionate and talented professionals who will treat your work with the utmost respect and dedication.

To move forward with the acquisition process, our team and HBO require the following materials from you:

Film Pitch Deck – is a visual presentation that provides an overview of a film project to potential investors, producers, distributors, or other stakeholders…

Marketing Evaluation – is a sales tool for our company to use; it helps our marketing team figure out which country your film is most likely to be watched in. In this way, we could take advantage of your film`s royalty flow…

Cinematic Trailer – is a short film review, it acts as a powerful tool to generate buzz, build excitement, and ensure that the project stands out in a competitive market…

These materials will be used as a reference for our company once we get to the film production phase and will help our investors at HBO visualize how much the actual worth of your story. Once all the necessary materials are met, we can proceed with finalizing your acquisition offer and schedule the signing of your contract to hand over your acquisition payment.’

And  finally he revealed the ‘price’. $2,000. payable to James which he will pay to create these materials. Uh-huh. 

These scammers are so brazen!  They fraudulently used the Tristar logo on the email and the HBO trademark on the draft of the committment contract.  

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER PAY AN AGENT OR PUBLISHER ONE NICKEL up
front!
 It’s their job to create a contract with compensation for the rights to a film, or the book, (etc.,) and then they take a percentage of the income THEY have GENERATED for YOU!! 

But, when in doubt (you want so badly for it to be true this time. Yep! It’s not my first rodeo.) I googled it, (keyword: Tristar HBO scams) and low and behold there was a  list of scams that were almost word-for-word the same pitch they used on me. 

I have some experience with Scammers so I began asking questions.
“How much do you want me to invest?” I asked.
It took several minutes to get to the end of his pitch, but he finally described the marketing package that I would have to pay for.
There were also ‘tip-offs’ in his pitch:
1. A legitimate agent would never open with the acquistion dollar offer that a film production company, or publisher, etc., would be offering.  (That comes later.)
2. Phrases in the email were suspicious:
“We envision a grand production”
too many flowery adjectives were used:
“our genuine admiration”
3. When I asked him  to refer me to some companies that produce
such marketing tools, he couldn’t do it.  And the one name he gave me
was fake, including a website for them. 
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