Archive for the Category » Women’s Fiction «

Book Review ~~ Sugar and Salt by Susan Wiggs

        3 out of 5 stars  ~~  Book Review 

 

A charming story to be sure. Love finally conquers, maybe.  A breath-taking story of how the system fails sexual assault victims and the justice system turns those women into suspects when they are forced to defend themselves. Shocking, but true if you are poor, a woman, and NOT white.  Deftly told by Susan Wiggs. 

I rarely comment on book covers but this cover does the story such an injustice. The beautiful cake, on the cover, suggests that a bakery is the focal point of the story. A woman with blond hair (the only part they got right) with ugly hands and an even uglier manicure.  Sure, the love interest has a bakery, but it plays such a minor role that it doesn’t even deserve a mention. 
This story is about BBQ and I would have thought (if the cover designer had read even the first few pages), a big platter of BBQ ribs would have been on the front. Always, ALWAYS use a hand model if you’re going to stage a cover with ‘hands’.   Cooks don’t have manicures (gels), nail polish (very unsanitary). They have short clean, unpolished nails and knife-nicked hands.

But I digress.  The woman in this story is sympathetic, without being a typical ‘victim‘.  There are times when all she has in the world is her BBQ and the custom sauces she has invented.  The reader likes her.  If the reader is a woman, she can relate to Margot.  No one likes a happy ending more than me, but it’s touch-and-go. 

On sale: July 26th
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Did you miss my Interview with Susan Wiggs? 
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Coming soon! July’s author interview with Donna Ashcroft.

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Interview with France based author, Jennie Goutet (part 2)

The summer Alps

Q. What does it feel like to be an American writer, living in France, writing in an English, historic romance genre. (Special challenges? Funny stories?)

JG. I can usually forget about where I live when writing my Regency England books. But it can be tricky when translating the books, especially when the Napoleonic wars are portrayed. My latest book was set in Waterloo and we all know how that turned out for the French. I’ll be putting a disclaimer in the front and the back of the book for that one. (Oui, oui, I love my adopted country). Otherwise, I think it helps for the historical details. I have a much easier time getting to the French chateaux, but they can easily inspire me much in the same way the English ones would were I able to visit them.

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

JG. Sometimes I start out with a good idea of the character and who he or she is. At other times, I discover my character as I go. He or she takes control of the story and runs off with it in an unexpected direction.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

This blogger is a big fan!

JG. I had tried writing when I was younger. A handwritten book in the 8th grade, 10 chapters of a book that went nowhere when we were living in Africa, a fantasy book that I mapped out and abandoned. It was finally the freedom of writing for the sake of writing on my blog that allowed me to see how much I enjoyed written expression, and it was my memoir that allowed me to see that I could finish a book. From there I wanted to keep writing books but I had already told my own story. It was time to tell someone else’s.

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

JG. It truly depends on the book. I might start with Character: ‘I want to tell the story of a woman who keeps her poise when faced with a series of difficult situations’ (A Fall from Grace); or Situation: ‘I want to tell the story of an arranged marriage where the bride is furious to be sold off and the husband is feeling sheepish about having arranged it’ (His Disinclined Bride); or it could be that I know the character from previous books and tackle Both: ‘I want to put shy, retiring Phoebe with her unrequited love through the fires of Brussels in 1815, which will show her just how strong she is.’ (A Daring Proposal). It just depends.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

JG. I should say yes. That is what a proper writer is supposed to say. But no, not always. Sometimes it’s just a job and I have to get the word count in. Fortunately (for the reader, I suppose) there will always come a point when I am fully invested. But in terms of proportion of time spent getting lost, it’s a little less like first dates / falling in love and more like married for 25 years and still grateful – if that makes sense. Even if a lot of the writing feels like work, I do love it.

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

a trip to Rouen

JG. Right now I’m in the process of launching two season finales. A Daring Proposal is just released in the Memorable Proposals series. This is the one about Waterloo. And The Sport of Matchmaking is set to come out in May. This one is the last of the Clavering Chronicles series, and it’s fun and light in tone. There is a pretty strong contrast to A Daring Proposal, which is more about the deeper emotions. So now it’s time to start something new. I am in the process of thinking about a series. I’m working out the setting, the characters, the covers and the names, but it’s too early in the process to say anything because it might yet change.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

JG. I was a regular and invested blogger for years, but those were always short posts rather than the longer works. I published my memoir at the end of 1813 (Oh my gosh. That is how much of a Regency writer I am – I literally wrote that date instead of the 21st century) in 2013 and I have not looked back since.

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

JG. I’m not sure. If we increase bamboo production and start to use that instead, and start to reduce battery-operated small appliances … maybe we’ll keep paper? Unless the e-readers all become solar charged? I do think that the trend will be based more on the needs of the environment rather than readers’ preferences.

Did you miss Part 1 of our interview?
Join us for the conclusion next week. 

Did you miss my REVIEW of this author’s book?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews, February: Jennie Goutet
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Interview with author, Mimi Matthews (conclusion)

Mimi with her horse, Centelleo

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

MM. Both. The ideas for my novels usually start with a single disconnected scene. I imagine the characters in a specific situation. That scene helps me to understand them and their motivations, but it also helps me to understand the goal of my story as a whole.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

MM. At the best of times, yes, when the words are flowing and the story is unfolding without too much mental anguish on my part. It’s one of the primary reasons I write. Because of my spine injury, I suffer a lot from pain. When I’m lost in a story, I can forget the pain, at least temporarily. For that reason alone, writing is incredibly therapeutic for me.

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

MM. I’m really excited about my upcoming January release, The Siren of Sussex. Set in Victorian London, it features Ahmad Malik, the half-Indian tailor from my Parish Orphans of Devon series, and Evelyn Maltravers, a bluestocking equestrienne who hires him to make her daring riding habits. Siren is the first in a new series I’m writing for Berkley/Penguin Random House. It will be out on January 11th.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

MM. I wrote my first novel at thirteen. At eighteen, that novel got me my first literary agent. That novel didn’t sell, nor did the next one I wrote. After that, I took a very long break from writing fiction while I went to college and law school, traveled a bit, and did some other exciting things. It was only my spine injury that brought me back to writing fiction again.

Jet trying to find the delete button

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

MM. Gosh, I hope not. I love the look, feel, and smell of books—both old books and new ones.

Q. What makes a writer great?

MM. I love an author who can tell a compelling story that grabs hold of you from the start and won’t let you go. Beautiful prose is a bonus.

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

MM. For me, the process involves lots of work and lots of writerly angst. It usually starts with me loving my characters and ends with me being sick to death of them. Seriously, by the time a book is finished, I’ve reread it so many times I can’t take it anymore. Hopefully, all those rereads and revisions result in a polished story that my readers are going to love.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

MM. My own experience with a life altering injury has a huge impact on the stories I tell. I write a lot about people who are experiencing similar life altering circumstances—a devastating loss, a debilitating physical injury, or a change in fortune. My characters have to work through these situations, to adapt and grow in order to ultimately find happiness again.

Stella

Q. What’s your down time look like?

MM. I’m terrible at down time. My laptop is often open on my lap, even when my family is watching a movie. Shutting off technology and learning to relax is something I’m struggling to get better at.

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

A. Yes! I recently indulged the urge to write a Victorian gothic vampire novel. I had so much fun. Not sure I’d do it again, but I loved that I could—and that some of my readers even enjoyed it.

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

MM. Be kind, both to other people and to yourself.

Did you miss Part I of our interview with Mimi Matthews?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews
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Interview with author, Susanne O’Leary (conclusion)

Pebbles is a rescue dog, golden retriever/collie mix

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

SO. Often. I can sit at an airport with my laptop and write, lost in the story—aka ‘the zone.’ Very irritating for anyone who tries to talk to me.

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

New Release

SO. I am currently working on part 10 in the Sandy Cove series, or maybe I should call it part 4 in the Starlight Cottages series, which is a series within a series,

set in a coastguard station just outside the fictional village of Sandy Cove. The Lost Promise of Ireland, book 9 (Starlight Cottage #3) will be published in mid-December this year.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

SO. When I started writing fiction.

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

SO. No. I think we’ll always have both. A lot of readers love to hold a ‘real’ book in their hand.

Q. What makes a writer great?

SO. A great writer is someone who can pull the reader into the story from the very first page and hold his/her attention right through to the end.

Work space in Tipperary

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

SO. It’s quite a long, complicated process. First, I write the first draft from start to finish, then I go over it and chop and change quite a bit before I send it to my editor. After that there are four different rounds of edits: structural, line edit, copy edit and proofreading. The final stage is checking through the different formats, Kindle, e-book and PDF (for paperback). In all, three different editors work on the book. All this can take up to two months before publication.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

SO. Mostly in the settings (I have lived in quite a few different countries and travelled a lot) and things that have happened to me through my life that have touched my heart and my emotions. Love, tragedies, illness and so on.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

SO. If you mean what I do to relax, it’s mostly about the outdoors. I love hiking in the beautiful mountains of Ireland, or walking on the beaches. I also like yoga or any other kind of workout.

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

Friendly horse on my walk

SO. I have co-written four detective stories and also written two historical novels based on the lives of my great-aunt and her daughter who had fascinating lives.

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

SO. Count your blessings. And carpe diem.

Did you miss Part 1 of this fascinating Interview?

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews
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Author Interview with Susanne O’Leary

Swedish by birth and Irish by marriage, Susanne O’Leary is the author of 35 novels, mainly in the romantic fiction genre. She has also written four crime novels and two in the historical fiction genre. She’s been the wife of a diplomat (still married to the same man, now retired), a fitness teacher and a translator. Susanne now writes full-time from either of two locations, a big old house in County Tipperary, Ireland or a little cottage overlooking the Atlantic in Dingle, County Kerry. When she is not scaling the mountains of said counties (including MacGillycuddy’s Reeks), or keeping fit in the local gym, she keeps writing, producing a book every six months or so.

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

SO. I usually write in my little office in our house in County Tipperary, with views of the green hills and mountains. When I’m in Kerry, I write sitting in an IKEA chair by the fire, looking at the ocean when I take a break.

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

Work space in Tipperary

SO. I always write in my pajamas and sheepskin slippers, tea in my favourite blue mug with a slice of toast with marmalade that I

nibble on while I read through what I wrote yesterday. Then I write new material for an hour or two, and then I do some yoga (still in my pyjamas) before I get dressed.

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

SO. My real first name is Karin. Susanne is my middle name.

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

SO. Always on the keyboard on my good old Lenovo laptop.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

SO. Early in the morning is my best and brightest time to write!

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

SO. Make a particular time each day your writing hour. If you stick to that, it’ll be easier to get going.

One of the Interviewer’s favs

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

SO. That’s an interesting question. My books always start with a

situation, then I put the characters into that, and then they become stronger and stronger right through the first draft. Then I go back to the beginning and flesh them out, because now I really know them.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

Starting the day with an ocean swim

SO. I started my writing career by writing non-fiction and wrote two books about health and fitness (I am a trained fitness teacher). While writing these books, I discovered how much I loved the actual writing process. My then editor gave me the idea to write a fun novel based on my experiences as a diplomat’s wife. This became my debut novel, ‘Diplomatic Incidents’ (now also an e-book with the title Duty Free‘).

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

SO. Usually the situation.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

 

Part two of this wonderful Interview will be posted Nov. 6th
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary.
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A New Author, A Fine Book, A Season for Second Chances

 

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing5 out of 5 quills       Book Review

A few weeks ago Jenny Bayliss’ publisher requested a book review from me.  I tend to shy away from unknown (to me) authors out of fear of having to write a bad review since my mission is to support and uplift all other writers. But the synopsis intrigued me so I accepted the invitation. And…

…might have missed enjoying a really good book. The writing is superb, the story line rich with detail, the characters charming and engaging. The little surprises of humor had me chuckling and spurting an outright laugh (once in awhile) at the clever writing.  The humor is honest and handled with a light hand. 

The story speaks to most women who have faced at least a couple of forks in the road of life.  I could really relate to Annie’s long marriage fizzling out. The abrupt loss of husband and children. What do we do with ourselves? Is this our ‘chance’ to live a life we’ve only dreamed of?  Try some things that we were discouraged to try in our previous (and safe) life? 

I love it when a place becomes a character in the book.  And Saltwater Nook certainly did that! 

Half way through the book I hurried to order Bayliss’ debut novel, The Twelve Dates of Christmas. Which, by the way, has received rave reviews.  This is a very talented writer and I hope she continues to crank out the wonderful stories.

Available for sale October 19th. 
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary.
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Murder Mystery Series by Trisha Sugarek

It is time to remind my fans and readers about the murder mystery series that I have been writing over the past years.  I am currently working on Book #11 . 
It’s an exciting series (even if I do say so myself) with two fascinating homicide detectives working the murder beat in New York City. 

Here’s the first three synopsis in the series but there are 10 in all.  Very story line driven so best read in sequence. 

Brush with Murder, Book #1

 Ben is a struggling, unknown artist, living in a loft in Soho. From his third floor walk up, he watches his beautiful neighbor as she comes and goes. Too shy and reclusive to ask her out, he paints her again and again. Suddenly the police are at his door. His goddess, his dream woman is dead
and the police like him for the crime. 

 

Dance of Murder Book #2

‘Strippers have been found with their throats cut and their dead eyes filled with glitter and the killer’s rage is escalating. To make things worse, Homicide Detectives, O’Roarke and Garcia have several dozen potential suspects all with a reason to murder these girls.’
Now the press has gotten hold of the story dubbing the murderer, ‘The Glitter Slasher’. City Hall is breathing down the necks of the Homicide Squad and insisting that they ‘get this
thing solved!’ Before there are more dead bodies. Finally the two murder cops make an arrest.
But, do they have the right person in custody?

Act of Murder Book #3

O’Roarke and Garcia are called when a famous Broadway director dies. It appears that everyone hated this man, making the murder cops’ job just that much harder. They have their pick of suspects as everyone within a five mile radius of Broadway had a reason to want this guy dead. From the jealous stage manager, to the resentful actors, to a disappointed and hurt lover.
From a scorned understudy, to his ex-wives, any one of them could have cheerfully done him in. This mystery takes the reader back stage into the tumultuous, gossip ridden, passionate world of the theatre.



Book Review ~~ Miss Delectable by Grace Burrowes

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reviews, authors, writing

reviews, authors, writing

reviews, authors, writing

reviews, authors, writing 

   5 out of 5 quills    

When you pick up a book written by Grace Burrowes you are one hundred percent certain you are in store for a good story. Filled with interesting characters and an fascinating plot.  Full stop! 
 
Grace Burrowes has begun a new series, Mischief in Mayfair. Miss Delectable is Book One, and it’s delicious!  Rag-a-muffin rapscallions abound with a hero who rescues them and the damsel in distress.  Book Two, Miss Delightful, is to be released shortly.
Burrowes is very prolific in this genre and what is amazing is how FRESH her plot lines remain.  She is constantly thinking of new story lines that have not been done before. 

Miss Pearson has dedicated years to learning the exacting science of the culinary arts.  She will never hold the title of ‘chef’ as that is strictly reserved for men. She will always be a ‘cook’, no matter how talented and creative she is.  It is, after all, only the 19th century. 
Colonel Sir Orion Goddard is Miss Pearson’s employer’s brother by marriage. They are slightly acquainted and really have no reason to meet each other. Persistent, vague scandal and rumors have haunted Goddard and being a recluse solves many of his problems.  That is, until his young protégé needs placement and only his brother-in-law’s kitchens will do. 

Burrowes gives her readers a good tale, characters that are deeply drawn, a little intrigue and a sweet love story. Recurring individuals keep her fans very happy. 

Available Soon! Miss Delightful  (9/14/21)

Did you miss my Interview with Grace Burrowes?

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry.
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BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

 

Book Review ~~ the stepsisters by Susan Mallery

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    4 out of 5 quills   ~~  A Book Review 

Susan Mallery delivers again. This author can do no wrong.
Families are complicated on any given day and certainly even more so when dads marry again and create a brand new stepsister for their daughter. Sometimes expectations are high; amidst the ruble of a divorce, sometimes girls long for the connection of a new sibling. Sage is lovely and graceful and popular; Daisy is not.  Sage didn’t have Daisy’s smarts.  Threatened by this, Sage put Daisy down at every opportunity.  Daisy was crushed by Sage’s hostility. So went the teenage years. Then Daisy did the unforgivable; she falls for and marries Sage’s first time love. Heartbroken, Sage can’t flee fast enough.  

Almost two decades later the now-grown women are thrown together again. But they must put aside all of their history for a familial common cause. 

 Another great story filled with human foibles. Well drawn characters who the reader will like to hate or stand up and cheer for.  I highly recommend this book to my readers. 

Did you miss my interview with Susan Mallery? 

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy.
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

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The Jenny Colgan Month ~~ Author Extraordinaire!

TS. Jenny Colgan, a Scottish lass, has a unique voice as a writer….quirky, fresh and bright. She left university in the 90s and started working for the NHS in administration, whilst always loving comedy and working on ‘funny things’- cartooning, a bit of stand up (horrible and very nerve-wracking); sketch writings and so on. She went on to write my first novel, Amanda’s Wedding, as a comedy novel and she was surprised when it got published. She’s gone on to write around 35 novels…she says she’s lost count. 

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

JC. I work in coffee shops, or I did before the pandemic. I like the white noise, the sense of life happening all around you; I like that you can’t stay there too long or it’s rude, and I like that they bring you a sandwich. In fact I’m just about to head off to my nearest one, which has a stunning view of Edinburgh Castle and lets me take my dog in.

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

JC. No I think that kind of thing can be very dangerous for writers, and certainly is for wannabe writers. You end up living in an isolation box, driven mad by the noise of your own fridge. Instead, be a soldier about it and learn how to work anywhere, the way they learn to go to sleep on command.  Aeroplanes are good places to work, trains are terrific.

Once when the children were little I took them to see Chicken Run in an otherwise empty cinema. I snuck up to the back row and worked on a manuscript there. It had rather more chickens in it than my agent was expecting, but otherwise it worked absolutely fine. If I turn up ten minutes to pick up the kids from school, I can get 500 words in if I have to. Momentum is very important to novelists, so clear anything that can hold you up, like thinking you need a special notebook or whatever.

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

All written by Jenny

JC. I find writing quite easy, but I find playing the piano very difficult. I probably spend about as much time playing piano and worrying about it as I do thinking about my books.

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

JC. Sometimes I like to sketch my characters to get a view for what they look like and what they’re doing. If I’m a bit stuck, I’ll start drawing. I also keep a file of pictures from actors, people in the news who look a bit like my characters in my head. Otherwise it’s straight to the keyboard, wordcount at the ready. I’ll write 2,500 in a sitting or 3000 divided into two sittings depending on where I am with deadlines.

Perfect son, perfect dog

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

JC. Yeah, about 11.30am I like to start. So I have time in the morning to drink coffee, read the internet, get the kids to school, walk the dogs and take some exercise, shower, practice my scales. I’ll work till about 2 ish depending on how the word count is going.

 

 

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

Join us, May 14th,  for Part 2 of this wonderful Interview

Watch for my reviews!
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy.
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  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!