On Sex and Writing: An Interview with Brighton Walsh

I’m thrilled to bring you this interview with the incredibly talented, Brighton Walsh. In addition to writing sexy romances, Brighton is a Pitchwars mentor. She mentored Kelly Siskind in 2014, who then mentored me in 2015. So that makes Brighton my grand-mentor. Through her and Kelly, I’ve learned a wealth of things as they relate to writing and all things sexy (if you don’t follow Brighton on Twitter, you’re missing out. She has considerably broadened my scope of “peen” knowledge and makes me laugh every day.)

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  1. During Pitchwars you Tweeted and encouraged Pitchwars Mentees to use beat sheets. Does this mean that you’re a plotter?

Yes, I’m an extensive plotter. I tend to freeze up and not be able to produce if I fly by the seat of my pants (which I’ve tried exactly once). Outlining, doing character questionnaires, and planning all my scenes makes it so I can draft in about 5-6 weeks.

 

  1. Tell us about your writing process from outlining to drafting.

I usually get an idea for two characters and I figure out how I’m going to get those characters together. I brainstorm with my Plot Whisperer, then I start on the character questionnaires (this consists of, I think, about 200 questions for the hero and heroine to give me a better idea of who they are and their history). Once that’s done, I figure out my pinch points—meet cute, inciting incident, turning point, the beginning of the end, the black moment, and the resolution. Then I can fill in the remaining parts between each of those. I do everything in Scrivener, so my outline is right with my character questionnaires and both of those are right by my chapters. Once I have everything outlined, I start drafting. Best case scenario, I draft in 4 weeks. Worst case is about a year, but remember that one book I told you I tried to pants? Yeah. Generally, though, I average about 6 weeks with a draft.

 

  1. How long does it take you to complete a manuscript to the point where you give it to CPs for feedback?

I’m a clean writer, so if I draft in 6 weeks, I’d probably take a week to edit, then hand off to CPs.

 

  1. Paige in Progress is your third stand-alone novel in the Reluctant Heart series. The first two were published by Berkley, but you’re self-publishing this one. Can you tell us what led to that decision?

I was excited to get this story out there. It was my favorite one of the bunch, and one readers were asking for, and I wanted to give it to them! Being a hybrid author has always been in my game plan, because I think it’s important to see all sides of the equation so you can make better, more informed decisions with your career moving forward.

 

  1. You write some of the hottest sex scenes I’ve ever read. What are common pitfalls in writing sex scenes and how do you avoid them? Do you find it challenging to keep each sex scene fresh?

Well, thank you! I find writing sex scenes to be the easiest ones to write. I always joke that if I’m stuck on something, I just need to toss in a sex scene to get over it. As for common pitfalls—I’d say probably awkward movements or cringe-worthy dialogue. For me, avoiding them means being realistic in my writing. And, yes, I find it difficult to keep them fresh, because there are only so many ways to write Peg A Goes Into Slot B, but I think the characters help with that. They sort of take the scene where they need it to go based on their journey.

 

  1. With the introduction of Paige’s brothers in this book, I wonder, are there plans for more books in this series?

Hmmm…I wonder! LOL I will say I would love to write both Tanner and Dillon, and I may or may not have started character questionnaires…

 

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Brighton Walsh

 

 

Brighton Walsh spent nearly a decade as a professional photographer before deciding to take her storytelling in a different direction and reconnect with her first love: writing. When she’s not pounding away at the keyboard, she’s probably either reading or shopping—maybe even both at once. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children, and, yes, she considers forty degrees to be hoodie weather. Her home is the setting for frequent dance parties, Lego battles, and more laughter than she thought possible. Visit her online at brightonwalsh.com.

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Paige in Progress:

She wanted a one-night stand…and then he moved in next door.

 

Paige Bennett is more than content with her life and what she does—and does not—have in it. She’s got a supportive family, a great apartment, and the best friend a girl could ask for; so what if her relationships expire faster than a carton of milk? After a disastrous detour courtesy of poor judgment in the boyfriend department, her plan is back on track and her dream job is finally within her grasp. Nothing can make her lose focus now. Well, nothing except the one-night stand she had with her best friend’s surrogate brother. The one-night stand she can’t stop thinking about.

 

Adam Reid has always been reliable…the responsible son, the loyal friend, the steady boyfriend. Two years ago, he graduated Magna Cum Laude and is well on his way to making a name for himself at an accounting firm in Denver—a far cry from working as a helper in the Mom and Pop store his parents own in Michigan. But when said store starts failing, he’s the only one who can step in and help. So reliable Adam does what he always does, and he comes to the rescue.

 

Paige thought Adam was a safe bet because he lives halfway across the country. But then suddenly he’s moving back to their town, and then into her apartment building, and soon he’s worming his way right into her life. If she’s not careful, he might sneak his way into her heart, too…

Sexy young couple kissing and playing in bed.

Links:

Amazon(Canada)

Amazon

B&N

iBooks

Kobo

 

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From Idea to Publication: An Interview with author Ryan Dalton

 

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Ryan Dalton’s book, The Year of Lightning, is set to be released on January 12, 2016 with Jelly Fish Press. I love a good time travel story, so when I was asked if I would be willing to do an interview, I didn’t hesitate. I love to hear about how authors come up with their ideas, their writing process, and their journey to publishing.

  1. Ryan, tell us about yourself.

My name is Ryan and I am Batman. I’m also a lifelong geek, as you can probably tell by my opening statement. While writing is my first love, I also pursue other creative activities. I like to cook. I’m a musician, having spent a few years taking stage vocal training. I’m trying (and currently failing) to teach myself how to beatbox. I love Monty Python, comic books, driving fast, good scotch, traveling, and making people laugh.

  1. What inspired you to write The Year of Lightning? Is it the first novel you’ve written?

It all started with a random scene that popped into my head. I pictured walking by an abandoned house with no doors, and then seeing a face staring at me through the window. It felt so creepy and brought up so many interesting questions. I kept asking why the person was there, what they were doing and why, what impact it might have on the town. As I answered the questions for myself, THE YEAR OF LIGHTNING slowly took shape.

  1. What’s your writing process like? Are you a pantser or a plotter?

Definitely a plotter. Not that I plan 100% of everything–I do leave some things to be created in the moment, and I give myself lots of unstructured brainstorming time–but overall, I write much more confidently with a road map. So I write an early, rough outline with all the concepts and major beats. Then I follow with a physical outline–a timeline made of sticky notes on my office wall. Then I write a detailed outline for blocks of upcoming chapters. I tend to write twisty plots with big casts of characters, and the only way to do them justice (for me, anyway) is to plan ahead.

  1. From idea to completion, how long did it take you to complete the manuscript? Did you workshop or take classes? Did you use an editor or critique partners to help you get your manuscript query ready?

It took me about two years to finish The Year of Lightning. During that time I went through about six drafts, and I definitely had the help of some awesome critique partners. No writer is an island, and no book is a one-person show. It takes a village to get it where it needs to be. Good crit partners are one of a writer’s most valuable tools for improving their work. I find it especially useful to partner with writers in a wide variety of genres. A contemporary writer will probably give different feedback than a sci-fi writer, and the perspective can help reveal things you might not have noticed otherwise. I haven’t taken writing classes in a long time, but I’m certainly open to them.

  1. Tell us about your query process for The Year of Lightning? How many agents or editors did you query? Tell us about your journey from querying to “The Call”.

I’m not sure of the exact number, but queried quite a few agents and editors. A frustrating part was that most of the rejections were positive. I received plenty of manuscript requests and good feedback, so I knew the quality of the work wasn’t a problem. The most common response I received was, “Your work is good, but it doesn’t fit our list.” That gave a certain sense of validation, but it also made the rejections sting a little more.

So when I got the call from Jolly Fish Press, it was transcendent. Not only did they love my book and believe in it enough to want to publish it, but they also wanted to publish the two sequels I had planned. Ever since, they’ve been a wonderful partner in publication and have taught me so much about being an author. It’s been a great experience.

  1. What advice would you give writers who are in the query process?

The query process is a test of endurance. I tried to view it as the industry making sure I had what it took to be a professional author. I also realized something very important. A certain agent or editor may be at the top of your wish list, but if they don’t absolutely love your work and feel like they have to represent you, they’re not the right partner. Publication is a slow process with lots of hills and valleys, and you want to a partner that’s as committed to your success as you are. So respect your own work enough to wait for the right partner. I know that when you’re in the query trenches, hearing the word “wait” again is enough to make you want to scream. But do it. You’ll be glad you did.

  1. Tell us about The Year of Lightning.

The book has been described as “Monster House meets Back to the Future.” It has time travel, mystery, rogue lightning storms, creepy houses, shadowy villains, lots of fun stuff. You may even notice a few subtle nods to some of my favorite sci-fi stories. It’s the first of a trilogy, and I’m hard at work on the sequels as we speak. So when you get to the end, fear not, there’s lots more to come!

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*Links*

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrbfBF5jFHA

Website: www.RyanDaltonWrites.com

FB: www.facebook.com/ryandaltonwrites

Twitter: @iRyanDalton

IG: @RyanDalton

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24660093-the-year-of-lightning?from_search=true&search_version=service

Indiebound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781631630507

Changing Hands Bookstore: http://www.changinghands.com/book/9781631630507

Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore: http://www.mystgalaxy.com/book/9781631630507

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Year-Lightning-Time-Shift-Trilogy/dp/1631630504/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1449259464&sr=8-1&keywords=the+year+of+lightning

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-year-of-lightning-ryan-dalton/1121750191?ean=9781631630507

 

 

*Praise for The Year of Lightning*

 

“A rousing mix of science and fantasy that will thrill young and old alike! Dalton blends wit and emotion and adventure seamlessly in a tale that keeps your pulse pounding.” –author Ryne Douglas Pearson (Knowing, Simple Simon, Cloudburst)

“Exciting plot, smart characters, and engaging prose: Dalton’s writing jolts straight to your heart.” –Ellie Ann (The Silver Sickle), New York Times bestseller

“With cheeky winks to classic time travel and a mind-bending central mystery, The Year of Lightning moves at a pace that lives up to its title and will keep your pulse pounding to the last page.” –Karen Akins, author of the LOOP series

From Idea to Publication: An Interview with Author Amy E. Reichert

I have three things that I really love (other than family, of course):

  1. Books–reading them and, of course, writing them. I love a story that transports me to another world and takes me on a journey that invokes emotion. Which takes me to #2.
  2. I love Love. I love feeling it, and the journey of finding it. Since I’ve already found the love my life, I enjoy experiencing that journey through books (see #1) or movies. Basically, I’m a sucker for a good love story.
  3. I’m a huge foodie. Being French Canadian, food is a huge part of our culture. Many of my happy childhood memories revolve around the sharing of stories and music at the dinner table (except on liver and onions night, sorry mom!). My favourite date night with my husband is sitting down to a nice slow meal, savouring each bite, pairing it with wine and revelling in the enhancement and compliment of flavours–the sensations on my tongue, the salty, the sweet, etc. Food is not just fuel, it’s an experience. Food is love.

So, when I came across the beautiful cover reveal for Amy Reichert’s novel, The Coincidence of the Coconut Cake on Brenda Drake’s blog, with its blend of my three favourite things, I knew I had to read it.

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Check out this cover! It just makes you want to devour this book!

Once I delved in, I had so many questions I wanted to ask Amy. So, I approached her for an interview for my blog, and she was gracious enough to agree. This is a really busy time for Amy, The Coincidence of Coconut Cake was released on July 21, 2015, so I want to thank her for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions. Her journey is an inspiration to writers like myself, who are in the querying (and editing, querying…) trenches.

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The lovely Amy E. Reichert
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  1. Amy, tell us about yourself.

I earned my MA in Literature from Marquette University, and honed my writing and editing skills as a technical writer (which is exactly as exciting as it sounds). As a newly minted member of the local library board, I love helping readers find new books to love. I’m a life-long Wisconsin resident with (allegedly) a very noticeable accent, a patient husband, and two too-smart-for-their-own-good kids. When time allows, I love to read, collect more cookbooks than I could possibly use, and test the limits of my DVR.

  1. What inspired you to write The Coincidence of Coconut Cake (C3)? Is it the first novel you’ve written?

I had been staying home with the kiddos, and my youngest was about to start school. With the realization that I needed to find something to do with my time and a strong revulsion at seeing the inside of a cubicle again, I brainstormed possibilities. At the time, I spent a lot of time in the Harry Potter fandom and folks were starting to chat about NanoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I had always told myself stories but never written, so I thought I’d try writing them down. That year, I only wrote about 9000 words during Nano before life interrupted, but I’d been infected by the writing bug. It took me another 8 months to finish that first draft.

  1. From idea to completion, how long did it take you to complete the manuscript? Did you workshop or take classes? Did you use an editor or critique partners to help you get your manuscript query ready?

1782 days from the day I opened my first word document to publication. I never workshopped or took classes, but I did read a lot on how to write a book. I also read my Writer’s Digest magazines cover-to-cover. They are full of great techniques. I did have CPs (critique partners) that gave great advice too. I didn’t hire an editor because my CPs were so great.

  1. There seems to be a subgenre of women’s fiction with food themes, (such as The Sweet Spot by Stephanie Evanovich and Stacey Ballis’s books. Would you consider C3 part of the culinary romance genre? Do you feel that there is a growing demand for this genre?

Interesting question. I never really think of my book in that specific of a genre. But if that’s a place where a reader might discover my book, I’m all for it. Genres are really more a tool for readers, which is why books are listed across several genres on sites like Goodreads and Amazon. From my end of the process, I’m writing light, commercial fiction with some romance (if you want to be extra specific). J As for the growing demand for culinary romance, I can’t speak to any industry trends. I will say that readers have been very positive about all the food in my book – so there is definitely a market for it.

  1. Under what genre did you query C3?

I queried it under Women’s Fiction and Contemporary Romance. Since the book could have gone either way, I tried to query it that way.

  1. Can you talk about your query process with C3? How many agents or editors did you query? Tell us about your journey from querying to “The Call”.

I queried 88 agents over the course of 14 months. Over that time I would send out a batch, get feedback, then revise. This resulted in 3-4 major overhauls of my book during the querying process. Had I not taken the time to revise, I would have never gotten an agent with that first version. Once I had that last version, I queried my agent the traditional way, she requested the full one month later, and a few weeks after that I got the call. For the entire story, plus gifs, here’s my post on it. 

  1. What advice would you give writers who are in the query process?

Be patient, be persistent, but realize if it’s not working, that’s a sign something isn’t working. It might be your query letter, it might be your manuscript. If you aren’t getting requests, then start working on your query letter. If you’re getting requests, but no offers, then it’s your manuscript. Writing is one of those skills where you never stop learning and improving.

  1. Tell us about The Coincidence of Coconut Cake.

In downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lou works tirelessly to build her beloved yet struggling French restaurant, Luella’s, into a success. She cheerfully balances her demanding business and even more demanding fiancé…until the morning she discovers him in the buff—with an intern.

Witty yet gruff British transplant Al is keeping himself employed and entertained by writing scathing reviews of local restaurants in the Milwaukee newspaper under a pseudonym. When an anonymous tip sends him to Luella’s, little does he know he’s arrived on the worst day of the chef’s life. The review practically writes itself: underdone fish, scorched sauce, distracted service—he unleashes his worst.

The day that Al’s mean-spirited review of Luella’s runs, the two cross paths in a pub: Lou drowning her sorrows, and Al celebrating his latest publication. As they chat, Al playfully challenges Lou to show him the best of Milwaukee and she’s game—but only if they never discuss work, which Al readily agrees to. As they explore the city’s local delicacies and their mutual attraction, Lou’s restaurant faces closure, while Al’s column gains popularity. It’s only a matter of time before the two fall in love…but when the truth comes out, can Lou overlook the past to chase her future?

Set in the lovely, quirky heart of Wisconsin, THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE is a charming love story of misunderstandings, mistaken identity, and the power of food to bring two people together.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is available for purchase on Kobo and Amazon as well as several other retailers.

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Connect with Amy:

Website: http://amyereichert.com/

An Interview with author (and fellow Calgarian!) Melanie Stanford

I know. I know. There’s been a bit of a lag in posting. I apologize. I truly do. My work/life balance has been horribly off kilter as of late and I’m struggling to rectify it. At work it’s “please talk, hmmm, for me?”, while at home it’s “please, stop talking!”. At the end of the day, when the silence finally comes, a face plant into the couch quickly follows.

Stolen moments have been found to continue querying. I know many of you are curious as to where I am in the process, but I want to maintain some professionalism and won’t reveal anything until I have an announcement to make. So please, be patient, it may be a while. (And thank you for your support and cheerleading!!)

Recently, I came across a tweet from Laura Brown regarding a cover reveal for a New Adult Romance, “Sway”. I clicked on the link and did a little happy dance when I read that the author, Melanie Stanford, was a fellow Calgarian! Someone from my home town, writing in the same genre as me, got a book deal! I wanted to know more! So, I requested an interview — and she was gracious enough to oblige.

Melanie Stanford

First, a little bit about Melanie:

Melanie Stanford reads too much, plays music too loud, is sometimes dancing, and always daydreaming. She would also like her very own TARDIS, but only to travel to the past. She lives outside Calgary, Alberta, Canada with her husband, four kids, and ridiculous amounts of snow.

Melanie, what inspired you to write SWAY? Is it the first novel you’ve written?

SWAY was the second novel I finished. I’d previously written a YA time-travel book plus part of its sequel. SWAY is a modern-day retelling of PERSUASION by Jane Austen. The first time I read it, it really spoke to me more than her other novels (I love them too, though). I really identified with what Anne goes through and felt her pain. But it wasn’t until I was watching the 2007 ITV movie version of it (starring the swoontastic Rupert Penry-Jones) that I really thought it would make a great modern story.

From idea to completion, how long did it take you? Did you workshop or take classes? Did you use an editor or critique partners to help you get your manuscript query ready?

The first draft took me about three months. I revised a few times and had 3 excellent critique partners and 5 beta readers who whipped it into shape. They really helped it go from blah to beautiful.

Can you talk about your query process with SWAY? How many agents or editors did you query? Was it an easy process for you, or challenging?

Querying is always challenging. I’d already shelved my first MS, which was heart-wrenching, so to start all over again wasn’t fun, and it was especially difficult because SWAY didn’t get the attention that my first had gotten- both with agents and contests. I sent 33 queries (three from Twitter pitch requests) and ended up with three full requests, one I never did hear back on. I decided to shelve it and work on book number four. I spent the next year going back and forth on whether I should query SWAY to small publishers or not. For multiple reasons, I finally decided it was a good move for me and for this book to give it a try, so I sent it to seven small romance publishers. I received two no’s, two I never heard from, and three offers! (That still shocks me.)

As Canadians, do you think it makes a difference in our options for publication or representation?

I don’t think it does, no. The only thing I’ve come across while researching small publishers is that there’s less opportunity of getting my book into the local Chapters/Indigo. Small pubs in general don’t do much distribution to brick and mortar stores (depending on the publisher, of course), but there are very few that distribute through Chapters/Indigo.

What advice would you give writers who are in the query process?

Since I’m still here with you (I’m currently querying a YA UF, with a YA mystery waiting in the wings), all I have to say is DON’T QUIT. I know you hear it all the time, but all us writers need to be reminded of it on those days when it feels too hopeless to write a hundred more words, or revise one more chapter, or send out one more query.

Tell us about SWAY.

Sway by Melanie Stanford

Ava Elliot never thought she’d become a couch surfer. But with a freshly minted—and worthless—degree from Julliard, and her dad squandering the family fortune, what choice does she have?

Living with her old high school friends, though, has its own drawbacks. Especially when her ex-fiancé Eric Wentworth drops back into her life. Eight years ago, she was too young, too scared of being poor, and too scared of her dad’s disapproval. Dumping him was a big mistake.

In the most ironic of role reversals, Eric is rolling in musical success, and Ava’s starting at the bottom to build her career. Worse, every song Eric sings is an arrow aimed straight for her regrets.

One encounter, one song too many, and Ava can’t go on like this. It’s time to tell Eric the truth, and make a choice. Finally let go of the past, or risk her heart for a second chance with her first love. If he can forgive her…and she can forgive herself.

Thanks for having me!!! 😀

Sway is due out this winter and I can’t wait to read it. In the meantime, don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads bookshelf https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25701546-sway

You can find Melanie on:
Her website: http://melaniestanfordbooks.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MelMStanford
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MelanieStanfordauthor

Her publisher is: https://www.samhainpublishing.com/