The Real Life Writer Juggling Act: Too Many Balls in the Air?

As you know, I will be MIA for the next month or so. But have no fear, dear reader, I have brought in a wonderful collection of awesome authors to fill in the gaps. They'll be sharing their wisdom and expertise on a wide variety of writing and publishing-related topics. So, sit back, relax, and make sure to take notes... There will be a test when I get back.

Today's guest post is by Denise Verrico

Denise Verrico is a New Jersey native who grew up in Pennsylvania.  She attended Point Park College in Pittsburgh, where she majored in theatre arts.  For seven seasons she was a member of The Oberon Theatre Ensemble in NYC with whom she acted, directed and wrote plays. Denise has enjoyed vampire stories from the time she was a little girl and a fan of the Dark Shadows television series and Chiller Theater.  She enjoys reading non-fiction and fiction of all kinds, particularly historical fiction, thrillers, sci-fi, fantasy, manga and graphic novels.  Every April through October you can find Denise climbing to heights of four hundred plus feet at speeds exceeding one hundred and twenty miles per hour on her favorite roller coasters.  She currently lives in Ohio with her husband, teenaged son and flock of seven spoiled parrots.




The Real Life Writer Juggling Act: Too Many Balls in the Air?

Everyone dreams of fame and fortune as a writer, but the reality is most writers work full time at other occupations in order to earn their livelihood.  For many of us, the demands of juggling a full-time job, family and our writing career are daunting.  Life often gets in the way.  This winter, I found myself having to move out of my house and into a much smaller townhouse.  At that time, my third book came up for editing.  I had to pack, work with my editor, go to my job as a special education aide and be a wife and mother.  It proved to be overwhelming.  Needless to say, my writing projects had to take a backseat for a while. 

So how do we do get words down on the page, not go broke and still maintain sanity and relationships?  It helps to prioritize.  Here are a few tips I’ve found to keep things in balance:

1.  Set a time during the day that is your writing time. 

I just started a new job that allows me to sleep in a bit in the morning, but gets me home later in the afternoon.  I was used to coming at 3:30, checking my e-mail, starting dinner and then sitting down to write for a couple of hours.  Now, I check the email in the morning, and I’ve adjusted my writing time to later in the evening, after dinner.  Usually, I write between eight and eleven p.m, or nine and midnight.

2.  Eliminate distractions

Find the perfect time and spot in your home where you will be undisturbed.  I write while sitting on my sofa with my laptop.  The TV is on for background noise and to entertain my parrots, but most of the time I don’t watch it.  There are a few TV programs that I watch religiously.  My cable company offers an on-demand feature for some networks that allows me to watch these programs at a convenient time.

3. Limit online time.

Social networking is a great way to keep in touch with friends and promote your work, but it can also be a drain on precious time.  When obtaining livestock on Farmville is taking precedence over your writing, you may be addicted.  I find that not having Internet access on my writing computer keeps me from wanting to play around on the web and chat instead of writing.  I have to actually get up and go down to my den to use the Internet.  A few months back. I made the mistake of getting a phone with online access and for two weeks I was obsessed with it.  Luckily, we’ve got that addiction under control.

This also goes for marketing chores.  Try to set aside a day or a limited part of the day for these.  It’s difficult when a new book is launching, because of setting up publicity and updating websites etc.  After the third book, I’m starting to get a better grasp on how to do this, and reserve a couple of days to contact bloggers and reviewers, design and order publicity materials and work on my websites.  For a nominal fee, it’s possible to hire someone to set up a blog tour for you and save time.   I’m experimenting with this option for my current tour.

4. Make time for yourself and family.

One of the plusses of my recent move was close access to a marvelous city park in the neighborhood.  My husband, son and I try to go for frequent walks on the wooded paths and visit the nature center often.  It’s free entertainment and beneficial to one’s health. 

Don’t forget the reason most of us became writers.  Writers love to read.  Read for
pleasure as well as research.  I read a lot of books in my genre, but it’s fun to read other genres for a change of pace.  When I attended the World Fantasy Con this year, I got a sack stuffed with free books.  I’d had enough of vampires for and wanted to take a break and read something different.  In college, I read a lot of high fantasy, and it was a joy to rediscover other types of fantasy. 

Remember to eat well, get enough sleep and have fun.  Go to movies, plays or
Concerts, you don’t have to spend a fortune.  There are free outdoor events in summer.  Schools, colleges and universities offer lots of free or low-priced entertainment.  Pursue your hobbies and interests.  I ride roller coasters and keep exotic birds.   You have to take care of your mental and physical health.  This is vital to keeping things in balance.

5. Learn to say no.

There is nothing wrong in a polite refusal.  If you can’t arrange the next school fundraiser, don’t feel guilty.  I’m committed to promoting other authors at my blog.  For a while, I was devoting two posts a week to this, but it turned out to be more than I could handle.  Now, I generally only run one guest spot a week.  I still schedule the spots, but in a time frame that works for my schedule.  I don’t generally review books either, because of limited time.

6.Keep your overhead low and expenditures to a minimum.

Don’t live beyond your means in pursuit of your writing.  I try to treat my writing career as a business.  Ultimately, I want to turn a profit.  With that in mind, I keep my costs low.  I limit my events to places that I can drive to in a few hours and if possible stay with a friend or relative.  Doing so, I get the added bonus of spending time with a loved one.  There are many places you can promote your books at no or low cost.  I enjoy participating on panels.  Some conventions comp admission to panelists.  Libraries love writers and often have no budget to host them.  They’re happy to have you come to their library.  This is especially true in small towns.  I’ve come up with a fun PowerPoint presentation on vampire lore that is popular at Halloween.  I’ve also taught writing workshops for teens. 

You have to decide how much of your income you’re willing and able to invest in your business.  Yes, I can’t resist some of those Vistaprint sales, but I only order swag a few times a year and try to find materials that can also be prizes in giveaways.  I limit the amount of free books I give, but I’m developing an e-book of short stories based on my series characters that I will give out when I promote my fourth book.  If you have the income to invest in lots of freebies that’s fine, but in this economy many of us are making do with less.

I’ve found that flexibility is the key in making all the elements of a writer’s life peacefully coexist.  There is always room for improvement.  If you have any thoughts on this, please share them.  I welcome your comments and tips.

He said, she said, they said...

As you know, I will be MIA for the next month or so. But have no fear, dear reader, I have brought in a wonderful collection of awesome authors to fill in the gaps. They'll be sharing their wisdom and expertise on a wide variety of writing and publishing-related topics. So, sit back, relax, and make sure to take notes... There will be a test when I get back.

Today's guest post is by Louise Wise

“Louise Wise is the author of Eden a romantic sci-fi, but has now found her niche with chick lit and has published A Proper Charlie.”
Eden and A Proper Charlie (eBooks and paperbacks) are available on most on-line Internet shops.


He said, she said, they said...
What do you think of the tagline "said"? Is it boring? Should you use something other than said?


'But "said" is boring. Why can't I use other taglines such as “demanded”, “whispered", or "shouted"?’ I said, and reached for a red apple from the fruit bowl.

‘Because "said" is invisible,’ said my writing coach. ‘“Demanded”, “whispered”, and “shouted”, are not. Well, “whispered” isn't so bad, and neither is “shouted” if used sparingly, but “demanded”?’ He shook his head. ‘Don't even think of it.’

‘What about -’
‘No.’
‘You haven't heard what I was going to say, yet!’
‘I could sense it.’

I glowered at him as I rubbed the apple to a mirror-shine on my arm. It flaked a bit; must have been in the fruit bowl a while. ‘Well, how do you make clear somebody is shouting or whispering or being demanding then?'

‘With good prose and a little trust of your readers.’
‘Trust?’ I took a bite of the apple. ‘What are you talking about?’

‘Do you mind?’ My writing coach brushed off sprayed pieces of Royal Gala. ‘If your writing is strong, your readers will know whether your characters have “whispered” “shouted” or “whined.”’

‘I can’t have whined?’
‘Certainly not! Use your writing style to direct your readers to what your characters are saying.’

I pointed the apple at him in excitement. ‘But that’s telling. We’ve always been told not to tell. Ha! Gotcha.’

My coach, sighing, pushed the apple away from his face. ‘Telling is something different. Telling is just that, telling –’

‘So well explained. Not.’ I chewed on the apple somewhat triumphantly. ‘My English teacher taught me to use my imagination for taglines. I remember I had to think of fifty alternatives for homework and then use them in a story the next day. I thought up more than fifty. Wanna hear them?’

‘Er, no thanks.’
‘Go on. You’ll be amazed: cooed, fenced, claimed, queried, presented, alleged –’
'Creative writing is different to the English lessons you had at school.' He reached for his coat.
‘Going so soon?’
‘I’ve just remembered I needed to de-flea the cat.’
I put the core of my apple in my pocket - there wasn’t a bin, and I loathed litter.
My coach nodded to my core, safely nestling inside my coat. ‘Why’d you do that?’
‘I hate litter. Law-abiding citizen, me.’


‘Unnecessary taglines can be described as litter. They are pointless, and clutter up your writing,’ he added as I stared at him with slow realisation dawning on my face. ‘Worse, they can distract your reader from the story.’

‘They aren’t helping the reader, then?’

He shook his head. ‘Not in the slightest. Do you think your readers are stupid? Do you think they can’t understand whether your characters are shouting, querying or even whispering? Or do you think your writing is so poor that you can’t engage your readers in what your characters are saying?’

‘Neither. I think neither!’

‘Well then.’ He looked pleased with himself as he buttoned up his coat. ‘Next time though let’s have this discussion during the writing circle meeting, and not in the gents’.’

‘Sure.’ I grabbed another apple. ‘Posh place though. I mean, not often you get fruit in the loos.’

‘You’ll find,' he said with a smirk, 'those apples are soap.’



Married, with four children, Louise Wise lives in England. She is a pharmacist technician by day, and a writer by night. She was educated in an ordinary state school and left without achieving much in the way of qualifications; you could say she was the result of a crap school. Hungry for knowledge she enrolled in an Adult Education centre and studied English, maths and creative writing.  Whereas other young girls asked for makeup and clothes for their birthdays, she asked for encyclopaedias!

Louise Wise used her general love of romantic fiction and interest in astronomy to write her first book, Eden.  It was an experimental novel and was never meant to see the light of day! She had received many rejections, which stated that the novel was just too original for the current market. An agent took it on but failed to find a publisher for it, this urged Louise into believing in the novel, and herself as a writer. Since then she believes she has found her niche with romantic comedy. A Proper Charlie was released in March and so far as received all positive reviews.



Common Misconceptions in Self Publishing

While I am MIA for the summer, I thought I'd re-run some of the more popular and helpful posts from previous blogs. I should be back with new material in August, but until then, please enjoy! Happy Summer!!

Common Misconceptions in Self Publishing
Because indie publishing or self-publishing is still in the early stages of being recognized as a viable platform, there are still the old misconceptions being thrown around. These are used to scare potential indie authors away from taking that leap into the market.

“You’ll be lucky to sell 200 copies.”
This was the first thing I was told when I decided to self-publish my first novel Immortalis Carpe Noctem. It scared me, as it was meant to. But after talking with other indie authors and looking at the sales rankings on Kindle and other online platforms, I realized that this was completely untrue. A well plotted book that has been edited and has good cover art sells just as well as its traditionally published counterpart. In fact, Immortalis Carpe Noctem, sold more than 200 copies (print and eBooks combined) within the first couple of months of publication. It has gone one to sell more than ten-thousand copies, and the number rises every day.
            As you can see, the quote above is entirely wrong, however, there is a seed of information there that you should take from it. No book will sell without help. I didn’t just place my book online and hope for sales. To start, I made sure the book was edited, two times, it had a beautiful cover. Those two items will be essential. Beyond that, to get Immortalis Carpe Noctem to move, I had to market it. Getting the book online to vendors is just part of the process. Do not think that hitting “submit” will be the final step in your publishing journey. That is just the starting point.

“Self –publishing will ruin your chances of ever being traditionally published.”

Another thing I was told when I decided to self-publish was that it would ruin my chances to ever be traditionally published. That idea is more the old style of thinking. Many authors today who’s books show great promise are becoming targeted by literary agents. Instead of the author querying an agent and then waiting months for a response, the agents, after seeing excellent sales, are contacting authors directly to offer representation for things like: print rights, foreign rights, and movie options. In essence, the indie market is becoming a sort of slush pile for these agents.
Now, as with all things, there is some truth to take from this quote. Only the books that are really selling well will attract literary agents. If you are dabbling with both self-publishing and still considering the traditional route, it might not be best for you to brag about your “publishing achievements,” if your book has not shown continuous positive sales. Remember that it takes time to build and audience and you cannot expect overnight success. If you are straddling the fence between these two methods of publishing, keep them separate until you have something that is really worth bragging about.

“Only friends and family will buy your books.”
This quote makes me laugh every time I hear it. In actuality, your friends and family will expect you to give them the book you publish, for free. Their thought process being, they helped and supported you, the least you can do is give them a free book.
And that’s just fine. Give them their free copy. You’re not marketing to them. As an indie author, you want strangers to buy your book. Focus all of your marketing efforts on building a platform and getting to know new readers. Those are the people you want to connect with and turn into fans.

Read more tips and tricks in my handy dandy little guide.

Available exclusively on Kindle!

Before you go Indie—10 Things to Consider

As you know, I will be MIA for the next month or so. But have no fear, dear reader, I have brought in a wonderful collection of awesome authors to fill in the gaps. They'll be sharing their wisdom and expertise on a wide variety of writing and publishing-related topics. So, sit back, relax, and make sure to take notes... There will be a test when I get back.

Today's guest post is by Best Selling author Amber Scott. She's highlighted for us ten important things authors should consider before going Indie!

Before you go Indie—10 Things to Consider:

1. Comfort zone. With a traditional publisher there is a buffer zone that an indie author does not have. Indie authors are on the front line, submitting for reviews directly, applying for consignment in person, interacting with readers through inventive platforms, communicating with distributors. All of it takes guts.

2. The Readiness Yardstick. Rather than having an editor to gauge when a work is ready to publish, you must find your own beta readers, editors and then learn to trust your instincts on when a work is truly ready. The rule is, if you’re not sure it’s ready, it isn’t ready. Be certain. 100%.

3. Cover art. A killer cover is critical to sales. We humans are visual creatures and about 60% of our memory bank is tied into visual stimulation. Your cover art has to be good enough to look traditional and great enough to stand out in that crowd. Hiring a good artist and being picky about the final product will pay off.

4. Long term goals. Just like with a traditional model, it takes three to six books to grow an audience. If sales are sluggish in those first two to five, will you be able to endure and keep releasing titles on a consistent schedule readers can grow to count on?

5. Tenacity. Being indie, if a book isn’t selling, there is no other person to blame. Not an agent, not a senior editor, not a marketing department. Because when it comes down to it, you take on all of these roles.

6. No author is an island. Just like with traditional houses, you cannot go publishing alone. It just isn’t possible if you truly wish to succeed. Having a healthy cross-promotion policy, a generous pay it forward attitude will give your career the support it misses by not being in a traditional model. Get thee to Indie Book Collective. You’ll learn a ton and be surrounded by support.

7. Sales mode. Authors are salespeople, too. Word by word, we sell readers our stories and opinions. Yet switching into commercial sales mode can be a real challenge. From branding to back cover copy, being willing to learn everything you can about the sales side a traditional house usually handles without the author, will give you an edge.

8. Stigma. Even though going indie is a hot trend right now thanks to industry changes, self-publishing is still a dirty word in the average reader’s mind. Every day authors are disproving the stigma attached but you will still face naysayers.

9. Higher standards. Because there is a stigma, because there is no one else to blame for errors, we indie authors have a higher standard we have to rise to. Intense edits, accruing awards and status, killer cover art, keen professionalism and consistency will help us earn our credibility individually and as a group.

10. Freedom. Indie authors can change their text, their title, their cover art, their copy, all of it. At any time and for whatever reason they wish. This can be a good thing for times when a glaring typo gets found despite rigorous edits. It can be a tempting thing for authors who get caught up in trying too many things at once in order to create a magic formula.



Amber Scott
In between naptimes and dishes, Kindle bestselling author Amber Scott escapes into the addictive lives of her characters. She often burns dinner, is a sucker for chocolate and still believes in happily ever after. Co-founder of the Indie Book Collective, Amber migrated over from traditional publishing and never looks back. She lives in Arizona with her charming husband, cuddly kids and, someday, a cat.

http://amberscottbooks.com is her site and all of her books are available on Amazon.com and most anywhere else online.

What happens when your whole world is turned upside down? - Sinners Ride (Excerpt)

What happens when your whole world is turned upside down?  What do you do when the people around you aren’t who they seem to be?

This is Sinner’s story.  Sinner is a teenager living in the Bronx in New York City.  On the eve of her eighteenth birthday she is sexually assaulted by her father.  Following the attack, she undergoes a dramatic change and makes a life changing decision for which she pays a heavy price.  Or does she?

Take a ride with Sinner and hold on tight because the twists and turns of this story will take your breath away!



My name is Sinner. My boyfriend, Daniel Hughes, named me that when I was about ten. My full name is Cinnia Lorraine Reems. To him, “Cinnia” and “Sinner” sounded alike. We are Catholics, and Daniel noted that I was always committing one sin or another. He said that my mother must’ve made a mistake and so the name “Sinner” stuck. I have a story I want to tell you.

I was trying to put together an outfit for my date later that night with Daniel. You should know that Daniel and I have been together since forever. After I finally decided on what to wear, I began to get ready for my date. I gathered up my robe and towel and headed to the bathroom with “I’m Going Down” still playing. I was already very excited about my date and couldn’t stop thinking about what Daniel and I were going to do. Once in the bathroom, I hung my towel on the rack inside the shower stall, turned on the shower full blast, and then switched on the radio as loud as it would go. “No More Drama” was playing. That’s another Mary J. classic. She is one of my favorite singers, so I started to sing along with her while I undressed then stepped into the shower and closed the glass shower door behind me. It felt good to let the water run over my body for a while before I put shampoo in my hair, rubbed it in, and then rinsed it out. By this time, a song by the group Next called “Wifey” was playing, so I sang that too and began to soap up. As I gently started to wash my genital area with the soapy washcloth, images of Daniel flashed in my mind, and those images aroused me. I quickly got very excited and rubbed faster. I could feel the climax coming but I stopped long enough to wash the soap off the towel and wring the excess water from it. I stood under the showerhead and rinsed the soap away from my body. While doing that, I began playing with myself again, and this time, I focused on rubbing my clitoris with the washcloth. This was something new to me and it felt good, really good. I did that while I continued thinking of Daniel and what it would be like when we finally made love.

We had been planning this night for a really long time, and I couldn’t wait. I was too excited to wait until I saw him, and I really wanted to be with him intimately. My wild thoughts suddenly stopped because the washcloth was making me raw and wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I was so close to going out of my mind with the desire to explode. I looked up to the ceiling in frustration when my eyes rested on the showerhead. I decided to experiment. 

Read more...
You can go to www.minnielahongrais.com to purchase a copy.  To read an excerpt click on “order now”.  Half way down the page, click on “order a copy now” and a new window will pop up.  Scroll down to the bottom to read an excerpt.

Author Spotlight with Minnie Lahongrais



Author Bio


A native of New York City’s “El Barrio”, Minnie Lahongrais is the mother of one daughter and the grandmother of a young boy.  A litigation secretary for an international law firm by day, Minnie has always been an avid reader. 

As a child, she would sneak books to read under her covers at bedtime by the light of a penlight her father secretly gave her.  This small gift gave way to a vivid imagination coupled with a seemingly unquenchable curiosity and thirst for knowledge.  So busy was her imagination that when her father sold a car to a stranger, her family began to call her “Perry Mason”.  She was mortified by him when he sold a car to a stranger without a broker and questioned why her father would put the family at risk of imminent danger when he invited the man up to the house for some coffee and to sign the paperwork.  She was convinced they would all be victims of some horrible crime committed by this unknown man.  This event planted the desire in her to become a forensic scientist a la CSI but after a medical emergency, she decided she wanted to write fantasy stories and thriller/mysteries instead.

Minnie currently resides in The Bronx in New York City and has two works in progress.  One is a series featuring a breed of creatures with vampire-like qualities and the other a murder/mystery.



K.S.  Hello and welcome to the blog. I am very excited to have you here. This is a very special Author spotlight today. Minnie was one of my very first fans and supporters and we've been chatting back and forth ever since. I am so proud to know her and see how much she has accomplished. So, without further ado... Why don’t we start off with a small introduction? Tell the readers a little about yourself. 

Thank you Katie, for having me!  I’m so excited to be here too!  This is my first ever interview for the masses!

To answer your question, I’m a hard core New York City girl… a native of East Harlem; what New Yorkers call a “NuYorican”.  And, no, I don’t know how to swim.  People assume that because I’m Puerto Rican, I automatically must know how to swim!  My parents immigrated here from Puerto Rico in 1945 then settled and lived on the same block where I grew up.  They lived there until 1994 when they both retired and returned to what they considered home.  My father passed away in 2005 but my Mom, still lives there.  I am the second oldest of four children.  I married young, divorced soon thereafter and am the very proud mother of a daughter and several foster children as well as the whipped grandmother of a nine year old boy.

Currently, I am a litigation secretary for an international law firm.
.
K.S.  Any interesting writing quirks or stories you would like to share with my readers?

I have always had a very vivid imagination.  I love cop shows like CSI and Law and Order and can figure out plotlines pretty early in the program.  Sometimes I discuss storylines with whomever I’m watching offering differing scenarios and endings. 

I’m not good in the morning, so I like to write in the evenings, in complete silence.  Things just flow for me after dark.  I really don’t come alive until around 3 pm.  Maybe I’m really a vampire that hasn’t quite acquired a taste for blood?

I didn’t use an outline for “Sinner’s Ride”.  That was stream of consciousness.  I didn’t know where I was going with it, so I just let it flow.  It was like a movie in my head for me. Some Friday evenings during November, 2010, I would go home and just write all day and all night -- through the weekend.  My daughter would come over to bring me food.  Whole weekends went by when I didn’t leave the house from when I arrived Friday night from work until I had to go back on Monday morning.  I don’t think I saw my grandson that whole month until I completed the 50,000K words and then I only stopped because it was his birthday.  I was exhausted, but exhilarated!

But seriously, I’ve discovered that when I’m engrossed with a story, that story becomes everything to me.  I dream about the characters and often have to write thoughts down that come to me in dreams.  I swear I’m thinking about these things even while I’m sleeping.  While writing “Sinner’s Ride” and during the editing process, I would do or say things and then explain it away by saying:  “That wasn’t me; that was Sinner!”  Everybody thought I had gone completely mad.   I could be having a conversation with someone, and have a thought and then I have to immediately reach for my blackberry to get it down I was so afraid I would forget it later.  I was so rude!

K.S.  When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What sparked the desire to pen your first novel?

I’ve always been an avid reader.  I was the one in the family who was thought to be anti-social. I was a loner; the original nerd.  We were poor, so there was no money for entertainment.  I had to use my imagination.  Our first family vacation was when I was 14 years old, so other than love there wasn’t much of anything to go around.  My father was taking English classes and I would help him with his vocabulary when I was in elementary school.  I would sit with him, help him with his homework and teach him to read English using my school books.  As his English got better, I had to amp it up and so I began to read more in all genres.  He would let me read whatever I wanted.  We would go to the library and I would pick books for him and when I got to be around 12 or 13 I’d be looking for books by Anais Nin.  It wasn’t the erotica so much I was interested in –though that was interesting to me as a pre-teen, but it was the prose.  I loved the vivid prose.

So, I think that is where it began for me.  I thought it would be really cool if I could write like that.  As I got older, and the internet became accessible to me, I began to study her and her controversial life and I thought: “My kind of girl!”

K.S.  What genre do you write?

Sinner’s Ride is my debut novel and its fiction; a mystery/thriller.  I’m not sure where I fit in because this is my first work and I am also interested in the mystical and magical.  I am Buddhist and there are many, many stories of demons and evil forces in Buddhist teachings.  I would like to explore those and see how I can incorporate them in future projects.  I also want to explore different genres and see where my strengths lie.  I’d be interested in doing some erotica as well.

Although in this novel, the protagonist is just 18 years old, I think future protagonists will be middle aged because I feel women my age, 54, have a lot to offer.  We are seasoned so to speak.  I think I can still get young readers – people in their 20s and 30s to read stories where the protagonist could be their cool mom.

K.S.  What would you say has inspired you most in your writing career? Or, who is your favorite author and why?

This is probably the best question you have for me!  You inspire me, Ms. Salidas!  You are my favorite author! 

I stumbled across “Immortalis Carpe Noctem” Mother’s Day 2010 while browsing through my kindle after a wonderful dinner with my daughter.  It was sunny, it was late afternoon; there was a beautiful sunset and I didn’t want to sit around and watch TV.  I got out a bottle of wine, and before I knew it the wine was gone and I had finished reading your story … you left me wanting more.  I immediately googled you, read your blog and just had to write you a note to tell you how much I loved it!  You made me feel the way I felt reading Anais Nin.  I had never read a description such as yours with regard to how a newly turned vampire experiences the physicality of a turning.  I thought that was magnificent!  I thought, “Wow!  This chick has got it going on!  I’ve gotta tell her about herself!”

A few months later, we were chatting about “Hunters and Prey” and I talked to you about another piece I had an idea for and you gave me sound advice.  “You said keep at it.”  When you started posting about NaNoWriMo, I thought I’d give it a go and when I completed 50,503 words by November 24th, I was beside myself.  That was when “Sinner’s Ride” was born.  I knew it needed a lot of work but I was ok with the skeleton.  I just had to fatten it up.  I did research for some of the scenes, I joined the Critique Circle on your advice, I sent the manuscript around to close friends for feedback and was buoyed by the responses I got.  You, my friend, are my fairy godmother.  I am so very grateful to you.  You are right up there with my father for nurturing me and bringing this newfound passion to light.  Thank you!

K.S.  What does your family think of your writing?

At first, I think everybody in my immediate family was skeptical.  Although no one said anything negative to my face, I think they thought this was just another one of my crazy ideas.  I mean, don’t forget, I was raised by a generation of people who thought I should have gotten married, had babies and stay married.  There’s nothing wrong with that, it just didn’t feel right for me.  I was the first in my family to divorce.  I worked full time; raised not only my child, but my nephew as well.  I helped raise my niece and another child.  That was the extent of my family’s expectation for me.  I have a weakness for children; what can I tell you?  So I happily raised these kids, but I wanted more out of life.  I wanted to live, not merely exist.  What message would I be sending my daughter if I didn’t go against the tide; if I didn’t take chances?  What kind of life would my grandson have to look forward to if I was complacent in dealing with the circumstances in my life?

Now, I’m hearing from members of my family I hadn’t had any contact with in years!  I have second cousins; kids in my daughter’s generation who are all purchasing copies and giving me feedback!  I’m getting “mad props” from them and their friends!  The ones in my age group call me “nasty girl” and they are all wearing knowing grins as they call me that.  The older members of my family are shocked.  My 90 y.o. Mom cries tears of joy when I talk to her about my projects.  I think she’s proud, not just of the body of work but also that I wrote certain scenes so realistically.  Sex was not a taboo subject in my house once we got older and started having it.  It wasn’t graphic talk, but it wasn’t taboo.

But I wish my Dad was here to see all this happening….

K.S.  What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book/s?

I was most surprised that I could actually do something that people enjoyed and want more of.  I can’t believe I had it in me!

K.S.  What inspires you?

My daughter is a huge inspiration.  I was very young when I had her and we basically grew up together.  We became women together.  She is my friend, my sounding board, my soul mate.  By extension, my grandson is the reason I breathe.  I look in their eyes, and I can’t believe they came from me.  They’re awesome!

K.S.  Can you tell us a little about any of your novels?

I do have to say that it is very graphic, and it is gritty but it is also poignant, hard hitting and shocking.  This is not for the faint of heart.  You’ve got to remember, it’s written in the voice of a young girl who is experimenting with a great many things.  Something happens to her that changes her life forever.  The people around her aren’t who they seem to be.  Her very soul is being chipped at slowly until there is only a shell of her former self left.

As far as works in progress, I have an outline for my next novel for NaNoWriMo which is called “On the Precipice” also a thriller/mystery whose protagonist is a  middle aged woman  and my ongoing WIP “Resurrection of Dead Dreams” which also features a middle aged woman and is an homage to my father.  This is the first project I ever started to write seriously and is in the urban fantasy genre.

K.S.  Where can we buy your novel?

You can go to www.minnielahongrais.com to purchase a copy.  To read an excerpt click on “order now”.  Half way down the page, click on “order a copy now” and a new window will pop up.  Scroll down to the bottom to read an excerpt.

“Sinner’s Ride” is also available at Barnes and Noble and Borders  brick and mortar stores as well as their corresponding websites.  It is available in all three formats.

K.S.  Do you have a website, fan site, or Blog that we can visit?

Yes, my blog is www.lahongrais.blogspot.com.  Please visit.  The older posts have more detail about my journey.

I am also on Twitter @lahongrais!

K.S.  Do you have any closing advice to aspiring writers?

Never stop looking at the world around you.  There are stories there.  Never give up and as one sage author once said to me “Keep at it”!