just a girl trying to find her place

interview: lorie langdon and carey corp

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Lorie Langdon and Carey Corp met at a local writer’s group meeting and became friends almost immediately. Having just finished solo projects, the conversation quickly turned to what they’d like to work on next. Langdon casually mentioned wanting to write a retelling of Brigadoon and was picking Corp’s brain about voice and technique. Somewhere along the line, the conversation took a detour to what is now the magical, mythical world of Doon, home of evil witches and magic spells, daring adventures and two unique best friends embarking on those adventures. The pair quickly realized the story was bigger than both of them and decided to team up.

I had the chance to ask Langdon and Corp a few questions thanks to the Fall Reading Challenge at BookSparks PR. I love interviewing authors, especially being one myself, because they have so much insight to provide. Everyone’s writing journey and path to publication is different making being an author one of the most unique careers to have.

Brianna Soloski: The idea of an enchanted land is appealing. How did you come up with idea for the Doon series?

Lorie Langdon: When I was sixteen I saw the musical Brigadoon and fell in love with the romantic tale of the village that only appears to the modern world once every hundred years. But one thing always bothered me about the original – during the time that the portal to the kingdom is closed, the people in Brigadoon sleep. Really? They sleep! I couldn’t stop thinking about what I could do with that hundred years…

Brianna: What was it like cowriting a book? Do you live in the same place?

Lorie: Much like our characters, we are opposite in a way that makes for a perfect balance. As writers, we each bring different technical strengths to the table. The actual process of writing with a co-author is fun and dynamic. Splitting responsibilities such as blogging, promotions, and social networking is a great blessing. But the biggest advantage is that you have someone who is equally invested. Someone you can call at midnight with a brilliant plot idea, who won’t curse you out and block your phone number. We live about an hour from each other and get together at least once a month.

Brianna: What’s your writing style? Are you a plotter or do you just wing it?

Carey Corp: Our style has changed a bit since with this series. When we started writing we were both hopeless pantsers (the technical term for writers who wing it). However, we needed to give our publisher a description of each book in the overall series. Now we plot the major plot turning points and pants our way from one to the next.

Brianna: Do you have any more books planned for the Doon series?

Lorie and Carey: As of now there is Doon, book 1 and Destined for Doon, book 2. There will be two more books in the series as well. So, as of now, there will be four books total.

Brianna: Who is your favorite character in the series?

Lorie: That’s a hard one because we have so many wonderful characters in Doon. My favorite changes based on what I’m working on at the moment. Right now, we are finishing up Book 3 and my current favorite is Jamie MacCrae. Jamie is a complex character, whose layers are slowly being revealed…even to me. In book one we see a crown prince who is tortured by what he wants for himself vs. what’s best for his kingdom. In book 2, he’s learning to let go of control and be more trusting. And in book 3, we get to see how he reacts to being thrown into situations outside his realm of familiarity. *Spoiler alert: He rocks it! Jamie has always been strong and noble, but I love that as his character grows, we get to see more of his sensitive side.

Carey: I’m partial to all our characters for different reasons. One of my most favorite to write is Fergus. I loved writing his quest to get a plaid tam (hat) with a yellow toorie (pompom). It’s a nod to the Jayne hat in Firefly.

Carey and Lorie, thanks so much for taking time out of your busy days to answer my questions.

Disclaimer: I participated in this interview with BookSparks PR. I was given all of the materials but no other compensation was provided.

spotlight: two bar mitzvahs

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Synopsis: Summer heats up in this third book in the No Weddings Series, where Cade Michaelson strives to balance his and Hannah Martin’s new relationship with the growing demands of his financial success. Waiting for Hannah has been the best and worst kind of torture. Now I can claim her as mine. We believe we’re done with the past and can move forward together. Hannah grows stronger than ever as she trusts in me—trusts in us. And when obstacles appear, she shows a surprising fierceness that rivals my own. However, all is not perfect in paradise. Things get chaotic while I try to juggle multiple businesses, an ex from hell, and a girlfriend I’d do anything to keep. And in the middle of the whirlwind, I recklessly think I can handle everything. But when all the madness is over, will I have everything I want—will I still have Hannah?

Buy the book: Amazon Kindle | Amazon Paperback

Disclaimer: I participated in this spotlight with InkSlinger PR. I was given all of the materials but no other compensation was provided.

interview: siobhan adcock

915eb-lWZQL._SL1500_With Halloween around the corner, it was fun to interview Siobhan Adcock about her debut and find out just why she thinks every first novel should be a ghost story. I have yet to write a ghost story and I’m working on novel number three, but I love a good ghost story.

Brianna Soloski: Why did you choose to write The Barter as a ghost story?

Siobhan Adcock: The original idea was sparked by a short story (“Differently,” in Alice Munro’s Friends of My Youth) in which a character is basically described as being willing to give up an hour of her child’s life for something she really wants. I was just really spooked by that frightening moment of clarity, and kept thinking about it and thinking about it…What kind of a choice is that? I ended up writing two stories inspired by that moment, Bridget’s and Rebecca’s, and the ghost came out of how terrifying that choice seems to me, how full of loss and regret in the way of the classic old-school ghost story. But I also think that choice is one that a lot of women recognize, in some form, from their own experiences.

Brianna: You’ve said every first novel should be a ghost story. Why? What is it about ghost stories that draws you to them?

Siobhan: Yes! Speaking entirely selfishly as a writer, one thing that’s great about writing a ghost story is that it’s almost impossible to hit a dead end, no pun intended. Every ghost story follows the same basic rising action: The ghost gets scarier and scarier and scarier until the story hits a moment of crisis, and then someone has to figure out what to do about the ghost, and then the story’s over. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. But in all seriousness, what I love best about good ghost stories is the way they open up to multiple interpretations: Is the ghost real? Is it something the main character is imagining? Why would this particular character feel haunted by this particular ghost? I love that each reader can claim a different answer to those questions and they’re all right.

Brianna: Where were you when you go the call/email that The Barter was going to be published? How did it feel?

Siobhan: I was actually on jury duty! During much of the submission process, when my agent was talking to editors about the book, I was serving on a case that was dragging on and on. While you’re in court, obviously, you can’t be responding to messages or checking your phone, so it felt a bit stressful to sit in the jury box knowing that something, who knew what, was happening out there with the book. I’d become friendly with many of my fellow jurors, because we’d all kind of bonded as the case wore on, and they were actually the first to hear about it when I got the message from my agent—before my husband, even before my mom. They were all really excited and lovely about it and we went out for lunch to celebrate. For me it’ll always be a great New York story: “That time I was on jury duty and my first novel sold and all these people who were basically strangers were so happy for me you’d think they wrote it too.”

Brianna: What’s your writing style? Are you a plotter or do you prefer to wing it?

Siobhan: I like to have what I think of a scene outline, which is just a list of action scenes that need to happen between Point A and Point B in the story, although that outline is always evolving as the scenes are written. My hat’s off to those who can wing it, but I really respect writers who can sit down and bang out a detailed outline. I think I’d like to be a detailed plotter, but I’m a little too undisciplined…or I’m too excited to just get writing, so I drop the outline mid-thought.

Brianna: Do you have any advice for budding writers?

Siobhan: Write every day—that’s what everybody says, and everybody says it for a reason. Writing every day is like practicing an instrument every day or running every day; it builds your muscles and your stamina and makes you better in ways you can’t always see until later. I’m a mom and I also have a pretty busy work life, but I tell myself I only have to commit to 15 minutes of writing every day, and that way I know I can always do it. And sometimes that 15 minutes is hard, and I close the laptop and feel grateful to be done, and then sometimes that 15 minutes turns into 2 hours.

Brianna: Are you working on any more books?

Siobhan: Right now I’m working on a novel that’s pretty different from this one. It’s a mystery set in a near-future version of this world, about a young veteran whose little sister has gone missing, and he gets into various kinds of serious trouble trying to find her. Structurally it’s pretty different too—I’m trying to write a novel that only moves forward in time, and does all its exposition and action with no flashbacks, like The Maltese Falcon.

Brianna: Just for fun: If you could go anywhere, past or future, where would it be and why?

Siobhan: New York in the 1940s and 1950s, the era that the novelist Dawn Powell wrote about, when Staten Island was farmland and the East Village was dangerous. Like a lot of people who’ve lived in New York for a while, I love peeling back the layers of this city’s history—you live with daily reminders of that history in the architecture, in the ghost ads on the sides of buildings, even in the subway. So, either that era, or else I’d like to go into the future, when they invent the free teleport, so I can travel to be with my family and friends more often.

Disclaimer: I participated in this interview with BookSparks PR. I was given all of the materials but no other compensation was provided.

spotlight: the barter

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Synopsis: A heart-stopping tale as provocative as it is suspenseful, about two conflicted women, separated by one hundred years, and bound by an unthinkable sacrifice. 

The Barter is a ghost story and a love story, a riveting emotional tale that also explores motherhood and work and feminism. Set in Texas, in present day, and at the turn of the twentieth century, the novel follows two young mothers at the turning point of their lives.

 Bridget has given up her career as an attorney to raise her daughter, joining a cadre of stay-at-home mothers seeking fulfillment in a quiet suburb. But for Bridget, some crucial part of the exchange is absent: Something she loves and needs. And now a terrifying presence has entered her home; only nobody but Bridget can feel it. 

On a farm in 1902, a young city bride takes a farmer husband. The marriage bed will become both crucible and anvil as Rebecca first allows, then negates, the powerful erotic connection between them. She turns her back on John to give all her love to their child. Much will occur in this cold house, none of it good.

 As Siobhan Adcock crosscuts these stories with mounting tension, each woman arrives at a terrible ordeal of her own making, tinged with love and fear and dread. What will they sacrifice to save their families—and themselves? Readers will slow down to enjoy the gorgeous language, then speed up to see what happens next in a plot that thrums with the weight of decision—and its explosive consequences.

Buy the book: Amazon Kindle | Amazon Hardcover

Disclaimer: I participated in this spotlight with BookSparks PR. I was given all of the materials but no other compensation was provided.

 

 

read: old friend from far away

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Old Friend From Far Away | Natalie Goldberg | Publisher: Atria Books | 5 stars

I bought this book way back in March 2010 and it sat on the shelf for a long time. A couple of years ago I took a memoir writing class at the Jewish Community Center so I pulled it out again, fully intending to read it. I got 78 pages in before I got bored and gave up. I looked back at the pages I read and I had highlighted a lot of good ideas/quotes.

Anyway, I have to do a presentation for my advanced nonfiction class on writer’s aids. I chose to share my favorites and this is one of the books I chose. I figured I’d better finish reading it so I could come up with some solid reasons why I liked it. Once I started, I couldn’t stop and finished it in about four days. So, henceforth, the reasons why every writer should own a copy of Old Friend From Far Away.

1. It has really good writing prompts. For example, under the heading No More: What do you no longer have? Go for ten minutes. This prompt, like all the others, is VERY open-ended. There are a dozen different directions you could go with this. It could spin off an entire memoir if you wanted to take it that far.

2. Natalie Goldberg knows what she’s talking about. She’s taught writing for many years and has written several books in the genre. She wants her readers to dig deep into their roots and really explore who they are, but she also understands how difficult this can be. She states several times that it’s okay to struggle with writing something. She encourages writers to start something, setting it aside if necessary, but reiterates that starting is the key.

3. Old Friend is not a book which needs to be read chronologically, although that’s how I read it. You could easily skip around the ten sections, which aren’t marked as sections. They’re delineated into sections in the table of contents, but the book is one seamless text with no section breaks. I used Post-It tabs to mark the sections because I’m a weirdo.

4. She doesn’t shy away from sharing her love of certain memoirists, but she also skirts the issue plenty. She refers to James Frey in very indirect terms, which I found annoying because anyone who knows anything is going to know it’s James Frey. She’s not protecting anyone by not mentioning him or Oprah by name.

5. The list of memoirs in the back is as diverse as the advice in the book. There is plenty of material and inspiration to be mined from this book. I have a feeling it’s one I’ll return to over and over again as I continue to practice writing memoir.

Disclaimer: I have a copy of this book in my personal library. All opinions are my own.

spotlight: shades of pink

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As you may know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Last year, the first Shades of Pink event raised over $10.000 through more than 1,300 donations! For our second year, 22 authors have allied for one cause: fundraising for research. Their gift to everyone who makes a donation? A romance anthology (ebook) titled Shades of Pink, Volume 2, totaling almost 150.000 words, about 400 pages as a PDF.

The suggested donation is $5. Funds are raised via Stay Classy and all proceeds go directly to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Readers can also donate to the charity organization of their choice (with a focus on breast cancer) and email their receipt to receive their copy of the anthology in either PDF, ePub or mobi (kindle).

Who: Catherine Bowman, Mitzi Calderone, Vivien Dean, JJ and TA Ellis, Sabrina Garie, Nina Day Gerard, T. Hammond, Susan Harris, Laura Hunsaker, Kallysten, Amara Lebel, Alicia J. Love, Deelylah Mullin, C. Deanne Rowe, Cynthia Sax, DJ Shaw, Alice Stark, Ashley Suzanne, Gill Taber, Natasza Waters, Zoe York, Angela Yseult

When: Now through November 15th.

What: 22 short stories, including four paranormal, one sci-fi, 11 contemporary, one historical, two military, three BDSM, two YA, three spicy (ménage or kink), seven sexy (explicit sex scenes), and 12 sweet (no sex). A couple of vampires, about three dozen humans including soldiers, geeks, teachers, librarians, writers, survivors, bosses, rock stars, teens, mages, wives, husbands and fiancés, one succubus, one genie, a few aliens, some werewolves and other shifters.

Disclaimer: I participated in this spotlight with Kallysten. I was given all of the materials, but no other compensation was provided.

excerpt: love and other unknown variables

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Synopsis: Charlie Hanson has a clear vision of his future. A senior at Brighton School of Mathematics and Science, he knows he’ll graduate, go to MIT, and inevitably discover solutions to the universe’s greatest unanswered questions. He’s that smart. But Charlie’s future blurs the moment he reaches out to touch the tattoo on a beautiful girl’s neck. The future has never seemed very kind to Charlotte Finch, so she’s counting on the present. She’s not impressed by the strange boy at the donut shop—until she learns he’s a student at Brighton where her sister has just taken a job as the English teacher. With her encouragement, Charlie orchestrates the most effective prank campaign in Brighton history. But, in doing so, he puts his own future in jeopardy. By the time he learns she’s ill—and that the pranks were a way to distract Ms. Finch from Charlotte’s illness—Charlotte’s gravitational pull is too great to overcome. Soon he must choose between the familiar formulas he’s always relied on or the girl he’s falling for (at far more than 32 feet per second squared).

1.0

Beginnings are tricky things. I’ve been staring at this blank page for forty-seven minutes. It is infinite with possibilities. Once I begin, they diminish.

Scientifically, I know beginnings don’t exist. The world is made of energy, which is neither created nor destroyed. Everything she is was here before me. Everything she was will always remain. Her existence touches both my past and my future at one point—infinity.

Lifelines aren’t lines at all. They’re more like circles.

It’s safe to start anywhere and the story will curve its way back to the starting point. Eventually.

In other words, it doesn’t matter where I begin. It doesn’t change the end.

1.1

Geeks are popular these days. At least, popular culture says geeks are popular. If nerds are hip, then it shouldn’t be hard for me to meet a girl.

Results from my personal experimentation in this realm would suggest pop culture is stupid. Or it could be that my methodology is flawed. When an experiment’s results are unexpected, the scientist must go back and look at the methods to determine the point at which an error occurred. I’m pretty sure I’m the error in each failed attempt at getting a girl’s attention. Scientifically, I should have removed myself from the equation, but instead, I kept changing the girl.

Each experiment has led to similar conclusions.

Subject: Sara Lewis, fifth grade,

Method: Hold her hand under the table during social studies,

Result: Punched in the thigh.

Subject: Cara Whetherby, fifth grade, second semester,

Method: Yawn and extend arm over her shoulder during Honor Roll Movie Night,

Result: Elbowed in the gut.

Subject: Maria Castillo, sixth grade,

Method: Kiss her after exiting the bus,

Result: Kneed in the balls.

After Maria, I decided my scientific genius was needed for other, better, experiments. Experiments that would write me a first-class ticket to MIT.

I’m tall and ropey with sandy blond hair so fine it’s like dandelion fluff—the kind of dork that no amount of pop culture can help. Which is how I already know how this experiment will end, even as my hand reaches out to touch the girl standing in front of me at Krispy Kreme donuts.

There was a long line when I walked in this morning, so I’d been passing the time by counting the ceiling tiles (320) and figuring the ratio of large cups to small cups stacked next to the coffee (3:2). I’d been counting the donuts in the racks (>480) when I noticed the small tattoo on the neck of the girl in front of me.

It’s a symbol—infinity. There’s a cursive word included in the bottom of one of the loops, but I can’t read it because one of the girl’s short curls is in the way.

Before I realize what I’m doing, I sweep away the hair at the nape of her neck. She shudders and spins around so fast that my hand is still midair. Flames of embarrassment lick at my earlobes, and I wonder if I should be shielding my man parts from inevitable physical brutality.

“What’s your problem?” Her hand cups her neck, covering the tattoo. Her pale skin flushes and her pupils are black holes in the middle of wild blue seas, but since I’m not coughing up my nuts, I’m already doing better with this girl than any before.

She’s waiting for me to explain.

It takes too long to find words. She’s too beautiful with that raven-hued hair and those eyes. “I wanted to see your tattoo.”

“So, ask next time.”

I nod. She turns back around.

The curl has shifted.

The word is “hope.”

“Rapido, Chuck. J’s pissing his pants because we’re going to be ‘tardy,’” Greta says, using her shoulders to wedge the door open so she can make air quotes around James’s favorite word. “God, it smells good in here.”

Greta McCaulley has been my best friend since our freshman year at Brighton. On the first day of Algebra II, Mr. Toppler held a math contest, like a spelling bee only better. I came in second, one question behind Greta. Since then, her red hair, opinions, and chewed-up cuticles have been a daily part of my life. She has a way of ignoring the stuff about me that makes others want to punch me. And she’s equal parts tenacity and loyalty—like a Labrador/honey badger mutt.

She’d also beat the crap out of me if she knew I’d just thought of her as a hybridized breed of animal.

Outside, her boyfriend James unfolds himself from the cramped backseat of my car, and rips open the heavy doors. “People of Krispy Kreme, I will not be made tar—” He takes a quick breath and loses his concentration. Krispy Kreme’s sugary good smell remains invincible.

Greta stands beside me in line, while James drifts toward a little window to watch the donuts being born in the kitchen. Greta and James have been together since the second quarter of ninth grade. If I wanted to continue to hang out with Greta, her Great Dane of a boyfriend would have to become part of my small circle of friends.

Actually, it’s not a circle. It’s a triangle. I’d need more friends to have a circle.

The girl with the tattoo steps up and orders a glazed and a coffee. She’s about our age, but I don’t know her, which means she must go to my sister’s high school, Sandstone. It’s for the regular kids. I go to Brighton School of Math and Science. It’s for the nerds.

Greta leans into my shoulder, and I know I’m not supposed to notice because a) we’ve been friends for a long time, b) James is four feet away, and c) I just fondled a stranger’s neck, but Greta’s left breast brushes against my arm.

“So what’s with the girl?” she asks. “I saw her turn and—”

My ears feel warm. “Shhh.”

Mercifully, Greta whispers, “I thought she was going to punch you.”

“Me, too.”

“What’d you do?”

“She has a tattoo,” I say, shrugging.

“And?”

“And, I may have touched it.”

Greta’s mouth hangs open, a perfect donut.

“Fine. I touched it.”

“Where?” Greta quickly turns and scans the girl. “Oh, thank God,” she breathes, touching the correlating spot on her own bare neck. “I thought maybe it was a tramp stamp.”

I must look blank because Greta points to her lower back, just below the waistline of her khaki uniform skirt.

“God, no,” I say, too loudly. The girl with the hope tattoo glances over her shoulder. Greta and I both look at our shoes.

James steps in front of us, and for once I’m thankful that the width of 1 James = 2 Charlies + 1 Greta. His large frame blocks us from the girl’s glare. James taps the face of his watch.

“I know,” I say. “Look, both of you go back to the car. I’ll be right there. We have plenty of time to make it before the first bell.”

They turn to leave just as the girl is stepping away from the counter, coffee in one hand and donut in the other. I should let her walk away and be thankful she didn’t punch me, but without thinking, I touch her arm as she goes by. I can feel the muscle of her bicep tighten under my fingertips.

I’m locked in place, like when an electric shock seizes all the muscles in your body so that the only thing that can save you—letting go of the electrical source—is the only thing you can’t do.

“Yes?” she asks, her jaw looking as tight as her bicep feels.

“I wanted to apologize.”

“Oh,” she says. Her muscles relax. “Thanks.”

She smells amazing. At least, I think it’s her and not the warm donut in her hand. Either way, I have to force myself to focus on what I was about to say.

“So, I’m sorry.” Now, walk away. Go, Hanson. “But I’m afraid you’re mistaken about infinity. Infinity is quantifiable. Hope is immeasurable.”

Her expression shifts, like Tony Stark slipping into his Iron Man mask. She shakes her arm free from my slack grip. “So if it can’t be measured, I shouldn’t count on it? That’s bleak, man. Very bleak.”

She turns and pushes through the door.

Subject: Girl with the hope tattoo, first day of senior year,

Method: Grope her neck. Follow with a lecture on topics in advanced mathematics,

Result: No physical harm, but left doubting whether I’ll ever figure this relationship stuff out.

Buy the book: Amazon Kindle | Amazon Hardback

Disclaimer: I participated in this excerpt with Entangled Publishing. I was given all of the materials but no other compensation was provided.


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