Downs tells all

The Convenient Escape Book Cover The Convenient Escape
Robert Downs
crime, thiller
Black Opal
November 12, 2016

To Veronica Baird, escaping from an underground dungeon and racing through the woods, is anything but convenient, even as her captor in rubber mask attire proves rather persistent in his continued pursuit. Despite her apparent independence, she considers a partnership, albeit reluctantly, with a former classmate who may still have feelings for her. Pete Nealey still has flashbacks to Iraq and, with the bottle as his eternal companion, tends to fall off of barstools at the most inopportune moments or pass out face down in the tavern parking lot. But what he may lack in cheerfulness, he more than makes up for with his steadfast loyalty to the cause, even when he ends up handcuffed to an air conditioner in a shoddy motel.But unless Veronica can learn to trust Pete for more than just intermittent intervals, the slipshod relationship, and her freedom, won't last...

 

Robert Downs the Author

 Penchant for Vengeance 2018; The Convenient Escape 2017; LaCours Destiny 2016; Graceful Immortality 2015

  1. Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it?

I’ve always been fascinated with police procedurals, even though I had never written one before. I like challenging myself, so in this type of scenario, I often look at it as what’s the risk. If it’s no good, no one will ever read it but me. But I finished it, I sent it to my publisher, Black Opal Books, and they liked it, and here we are. I do believe I am growing and improving as a writer, and more than anything, I hope I show that with PENCHANT FOR VENGEANCE.

 

I grew up in a religious household, so there were themes in this novel that I wanted to explore, and that were important to me. It’s a bit of a departure from what I’ve written before, but I look at it as a good thing, not a bad one.

  1. How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?

I believe in John Grisham’s approach to research. I do as little of it as possible to sound believable and creditable. With that being said, I love to learn, and I am always learning random facts that I may, or may not, use in one of my books. I am like a sponge, and I constantly soak up the world around me, because I never know when I will discover some tidbit that will set my story off on a new course. When I discover one of these, my first thought is that’s fantastic. I can use that.

 

My process, and it’s not the process that will work for every writer, is to write the story first, as fast and as furious as my fingers and brain can go. Over the course of this process, I’ll discover where I get stuck, and therefore what I need to learn more about. Once in a while, I’ll surprise myself with what I do know, and sometimes I’ll bend the truth a little in order to make the story work. But either way, I don’t want to spend more time doing research than is absolutely necessary, because I get more joy from writing than I do from research.

  1. How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?

I’ve been rejected so many times I’ve lost count. Stephen King used to nail his rejection letters on a wall, and the story goes that he had to get bigger and bigger nails to hold up his increasing number of letters. Rough guess is I’m hovering close to 1,000 myself, but that’s over the course of seventeen years of writing, and making every mistake you can imagine, like trying to publish books before the story was ready for an audience. I’ve also discovered that as a writer you never stop being rejected, so I just take it as another part of the process. It’s much easier to say no than it is to say yes, because yes requires some action from the other party. I also have this personality quirk where I can take the energy from negativity, and turn it into a positive that works for me. I have no idea where this particular gift came from, but it’s absolutely fantastic.

  1. Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?

I did not. As writers, we shouldn’t compare our writing path to anyone else’s, because this can sometimes be a losing proposition. My journey has been to gradually build my writing career over time, and I have worked with some wonderful small presses thus far. If we’re being completely honest, some have been a bit more wonderful than others, but all have taught me valuable lessons about publishing that I will take with me for the rest of my life. That’s valuable, and when value is bestowed upon me, I consider myself lucky.

  1. Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?

I’m gonna steal from my previous answers a bit, but I’ll try to do it with a slightly different spin. I would say writers need to look to carve out their own path, and not worry about what someone else has done. It ultimately depends on your goals as a writer, and how much control he or she wants to have throughout the writing process. Self-publishing gives you a whole lot of control, but you have to use that power wisely, otherwise it can end up wasted, or it might even blow up in your face.

 

When you’re starting out as a writer, the best thing you can do is write. After you’ve been doing this a few years and possibly published a few novels, the best thing you can do is write. That particular aspect never changes. Think of it like practice. You have to continue to show up and put in the work. If self-publishing is what gets you to write, and you use that platform to grow and improve as a writer, learn from your mistakes (most beginning writers make mistakes), and build your audience through marketing, hard work, and more writing, I don’t think anyone can fault you for doing that. It can be a great process if you use it right. I understand it as a process, but it just wasn’t the right process for me.

  1. Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?

That’s gotta be the funniest thing I’ve ever heard, and it’s also one of the biggest myths about being a writer. Readers assume we’re all driving around in Porsches, and we have two or three homes, one of which is somewhere like Florida, Nantucket, or California. But we all can’t be Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell, John Grisham, James Patterson, or Harlan Coben. Let me dispel this myth completely right now. The average writer makes $7,000 a year. If you can live on $7K a year, then I have to say you are a much better person than I am.

 

If that ever happens, I will certainly let you know. But I’m not gonna hold my breath on it ever happening, and I am not gonna build my retirement plan around such a farfetched scenario.

  1. Which author had the most influence on your writing? Your writing style? Your writing genre?

There are many writers who have influenced me over the years, and I feel like I discover more every day, since I am a reader first and a writer second. But I will go with the late Robert B. Parker and his Spenser novels. Spenser was a smartaleck, and Parker wrote some fantastic dialogue, and I adored the stories very much. Whenever he and Hawk busted a few heads, I was ready to stand up and cheer.

  1. In your opinion who is the funniest author now writing?

Again, there are many writers I could place here, and all have a fantastic sense of humor, but my answer for today is Dave Barry. He comes up with fantastic characters and places them in the midst of fantastic situations, and he is just such a joy to read. I believe a lot of humor can be found in the extremes, and he utilizes this particular theory to a fine art. If you ever need a good laugh, I don’t think you can go wrong with Dave Barry. I know I sure haven’t.

Website: http://www.RobertDowns.net

Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/RobertDownsBooks

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Why to Knit?

The Woolly Hat Knitting Club Book Cover The Woolly Hat Knitting Club
Poppy Dolan
Women’s Fiction
Canelo
25th September 2017

Finding happiness one stitch at a time

When Dee Blackthorn’s brother, JP, breaks both wrists not only is he in need of a helping hand – or two – but the knitting shop he owns can’t function. Sisterly duties take Dee away from her demanding job and she is unceremoniously fired amidst rumours of inappropriate behaviour. Dee is certain that her hot-shot nemesis, Ben, is behind it all but has no proof.

When Dee bumps into an old friend who is new mum to a premature baby she convinces JP to enlist his knitting pals to make lots of tiny woolly hats. Then Ben turns up denying involvement in Dee’s sacking and she ropes him into helping the knitting cause.

But before long Dee’s good intentions backfire and she risks losing her friends, her family and Ben, who’s turned out to be not so bad after all…

A feel-good romantic comedy about learning what life is really all about, The Woolly Hat Knitting Club is perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Tilly Tennant and Carole Matthews.

 

  1. Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique? I’ve wanted to write a novel with knitting as a theme for a while now, seeing as I love all things crafty. But I wanted to put a little bit of a spin on what you might expect – so my heroine Dee isn’t at all crafty, but her brother JP is! When he can’t run his haberdashery on his own, she has to throw herself into a woolly world…
  2. How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a notebook where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time? I try to combine a burst of inspiration with a lot of thorough planning, so that my idea gets carried through the whole story. I use notebooks and post-its and scribble ideas anywhere I can, if needs be!
  3. How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book? Seeing as I’ve been a keen knitter for more than ten years, I didn’t need to research anything new for this novel. I could dig up all my crafty nerdiness!
  4. What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote? [Not sure this applies to me, sorry.]
  5. How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience? [Not sure this applies to me, sorry.]
  6. How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted? My first novel got rejected by a whole host of traditional publishers and it took me a long time to get over the heartbreak and disappointment.
  7. Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up? When I did work up the courage to try again, I self-published a novel called The Bad Boyfriends Bootcamp and things took off from there! I’m now very lucky to be published by Canelo, who are an amazing team
  8. Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist? I think it comes down each individual author and what sort of goals they have and how much time they have. Self-publishing was an amazing jumping off point for me but I now find so many brilliant benefits to being with a publisher – they have lots of expertise I don’t have, the work of publishing and promoting a book is spread across a whole team rather just being down to me and when I’m having a wobble there are people to lead me in the right direction!
  9. Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened? Not for me, sadly!
  10. What is the funniest thing that happened to you on a book tour? I’m yet to go on one, but if I do I’ll make a note of anything funny that happens…
  11. Why did you take up Knitting? I love anything crafty, so I picked up my first set of needles when knitting became fashionable again about 15 years ago.
  12. What is the first thing you ever knit? I knitted a big chunky scarf which took me months and lots of trial and error! I think I gave it to my mum.
  13. What reasons would you give for people to take up knitting? It’s really relaxing and can help crack your phone addiction! Plus, you’re never stuck for gifts to give people.

 

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How to Write about Crows

The Crows of Beara Book Cover The Crows of Beara
Julie Christine Johnson
Fiction
Ashland Creek Press
September 1, 2017
332

Beautifully crafted with environmental themes, a lyrical Irish setting, and a touch of magical realism, The Crows of Beara is a breathtaking novel of how the nature of place encompasses everything that we are.

Questions for Authors: Crows of Beara

 

  1. Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?

JCJ:

I first visited Ireland in 2002, when I spent two weeks hiking the Beara Way. Years passed before I began writing, but my love for Ireland grew with each visit.  Once I began to find my way around the world of writing novels, I knew I’d be telling an Ireland story or two someday. Of course, there are no shortage of novel that use Ireland as a backdrop, but it is the multiple genres that set CROWS apart. It marries women’s fiction with eco-lit, magical realism with the cold truth of substance abuse, the power of art vs. the lure of corporate promises.

  1. How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?

JCJ: How many ideas can my brain turn over at any given time? There are always several I’m toying with, examining, meditating on. And one always filters through to become the story I put my pen to. I keep what I call a “process notebook”. As I begin crafting characters, turning over themes, making research notes, asking myself questions, I use this analog process notebook to record all thoughts. It’s something I return to as I begin drafting on Scrivener (a software program for writers), to sort out plot holes, create and correct timelines, question my themes and progression. It becomes the novel’s journal.

  1. How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?

JCJ: I try not to get bogged down in research in the early stages. I can write around most things, making notes of what I need to explore and clarify at a later time. There’s a balance between getting your bearings in a time, place, story problem that may require some background reading, and simply getting on the with the writing. For this book, I conducted early research into the habitat and condition of the Red-billed chough, on the history of copper mining on the Beara Peninsula and how copper mining is conducted today, and on substance abuse and recovery. I gathered enough of a foundation to begin, and then continued my research as I progressed. Some things, like the political and corporate corruption at play in the book, came straight from the headlines when I was deep in revision with my publisher, two years after I wrote the novel’s first drafts. Apple, Google, and other corporations which sought tax refuge in Ireland found themselves in hot water just as I was filling in some plot holes in CROWS.

  1. What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?

JCJ: Primary sources, interviews, print books, the internet, my own travels and reading. Whatever I need to get deep into the questions and story problems, to see through my characters’ perspectives.

  1. How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?

JCJ: I haven’t yet had the need to call upon the advice or perspective of law enforcement. Fortunately, I live in a wonderful community where it will be easy for me to reach out and make connections with people from a range of professional experiences when/if the need arises.

  1. How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?

JCJ: Well, hey. Zero. I pitched my first novel at a writers’ conference to several agents and publishing editors before I began sending out query letters. Three weeks after the conference, I signed with my agent and my publisher the same day. Not the usual way of things, and I’m so very grateful that these stars aligned. My agent did send CROWS out on submission after my first novel was signed and in the publication process. It took about five months to find a publishing home for CROWS, which is not long at all, although it felt like an endless, agonizing process at the time. I have another novel on submission now, and it’s a brutal time to be out there. Book sales are very slow and publishers are reluctant to take chances with new projects. I’m just biding my time and working on the next thing. Never give up hope, but let it all go.

  1. Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?

JCJ:. I was committed to pursuing a traditional path to publishing, but I was researching an independent approach. They both have their high and low lights.

  1. Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?

JCJ: I don’t have any experience in the self-publishing realm, but there are wonderful blogs and organizations out there that can provide any aspiring novelist with information and options.

  1. Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?

JCJ: I know only a handful of writers who support themselves completely with their book sales. It’s extremely rare. Hmm… come to think of it, I don’t know any.  And I mean writers who do not have a partner supplementing their income or providing health insurance, but who rely on book sales as their sole means of support. Nearly all writers, from New York Times bestselling authors, to income-generating self-published authors, need some other means of economic input. Most of us are teaching, freelance writing/editing, or have day jobs. In my case, it’s all three. Book sales generate a pittance. Don’t go into this business thinking you will make any money. Do it because you have stories to tell.

  1. What is the funniest thing that happened to you on a book tour?

JCJ: I haven’t had any true ha-ha moments, but there were so many times my breath was stolen clean away by seeing friends in the audience I hadn’t seen in years. Decades. It’s the most beautiful thing to find support in the most unexpected of places.

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And then there was love: Annie tells us how

True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop Book Cover True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop
#2 Lonely Hearts Bookshop
Annie Darling
love, marriage, fiction, humour
HarperCollins
(10 Aug. 2017)

It's a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in possession of a good job, four bossy sisters and a needy cat must also have want of her one true love. Or is it?

Another delightful novel from the author of The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts. Perfect for fans of Lucy Diamond and Jenny Colgan

Verity Love – Jane Austen fangirl and an introvert in a world of extroverts – is perfectly happy on her own (thank you very much), and her fictional boyfriend Peter is very useful for getting her out of unwanted social events. But when a case of mistaken identity forces her to introduce a perfect stranger as her boyfriend, Verity’s life suddenly becomes much more complicated.

Johnny could also use a fictional girlfriend. Against Verity’s better judgement, he persuades her to partner up for a summer season of weddings, big number birthdays and garden parties, with just one promise - not to fall in love with each other…

An Interview with the Author

  1.     Can you tell your readers something about your book and the inspiration behind it

It’s the second book in my Lonely Hearts Bookshop series. The inspiration for the series is really my lifelong love of romance novels and bookshops. So, each book in the series takes a trope of romantic fiction and turns it ninety degrees. So with True Love, I wanted to take the trope of The Other Woman and it’s actually Johnny, the love interest, who’s The Other Man. And my other inspiration was Pride & Prejudice, Verity, our heroine is obsessed with the novel (as am I!) and is also one of five sisters, like Elizabeth Bennet.

  1.     How much research do you do before you write? And for this book?

I didn’t really have to do too much research though it’s never a chore to have to reread Pride & Prejudice. (There’s a quote from P&P at the start of each chapter.) And then there are little things I have to look up and check as I’m writing. Thank goodness for Wikipedia and Google!

  1.     How helpful do you find authority figures such as real booksellers when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?

So many of my friends work in bookshops and are absolutely passionate about their jobs and I find that people who have a passion are always happy to talk about it. Of course, the flip side of that is them telling me “that would never happen in a bookshop!” But I’m writing a novel, not a practical guide to book selling so we agreed to disagree.

  1.     How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted?

I have been rejected so very many times. The entire publishing process features so many different types of rejection from trying to get an agent to readers not liking the book and giving you not so great reviews. It can be quite soul-destroying at times but I do try to be a big girl about it. And a constructive bad review can actually be quite helpful – though I’d much rather have a good review!

  1.     Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this.

I do all sorts of writing from novelling to journalism so I’ve always earned my living from writing. I would love to be able to focus solely on writing novels but I’m not there yet.

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Why tea?

Author: Caroline James talking about her new book, Coffee, Tea, The Caribbean & Me

Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?

Coffee, Tea, The Caribbean & Me is a story about a friendship between two women. Jo and Hattie are like chalk and cheese but have been great friends for many years and finding themselves alone, without partners in mid-life, they embark on a holiday which changes their lives. I chose this subject because one in three people in the UK over the age of fifty live on their own, either through divorce, death or choice and I wanted to show that it is possible to have a second bite at the apple and begin life again no matter what your circumstances; age should not be a deterrent. My approach is to embrace these years, run down the road to happiness whatever it throws at you along the way. It is never too late to have fun and begin again. It is set in the Caribbean on the island of Barbados because I know the island well and think it the perfect setting for a novel.

How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?

I know what I am going to write about, there isn’t a bucket list of topics, it is very specific. I’ve probably thought about the subject matter for some time or it is bubbling away as I come to the end of writing a novel. I have a big note book per novel that I section and gradually fill with notes, images and anything relevant and this becomes my bible as I write the book.

How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?

The research is a work in progress, as the book develops the research is done. I never know quite which route the characters will take and they often steer off the beaten track till I reign them back in so I’ll research as they take this course. I love research and can often go off-piste; far removed from the topic and then have to force myself to get back to the job in hand.

What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?

I visit the place when the main scenes are set. I have to be able to walk around the area and really get a feel for the place. I talk to people and try to imagine the scene I am creating through the eyes of the locals. The internet is invaluable and so easy to gain information but I read too – any book I can get my hands on that has useful information.

How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?

I don’t write crime so have never had to approach the police but my books usually have a festival or main event somewhere in the story and I contact organisers and people in authority who run these to ensure that I am accurate when describing what happens. For example, Coffee Tea The Gypsy & Me is set around an annual gypsy horse fair in Cumbria, England, and is the largest of its kind in the world. It was set up by a Charter under the reign of James II in 1685 and lasts for a week. The events there are centuries old traditions and have to be accurately described. Organisers are generally delighted to help as they know my books will give positive publicity.

Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?

Yes – I had a zillion rejections with my debut novel before I took control and self-published. The book shot to #3 in Women’s Fiction on Amazon and was E-book of the Week in The Sun Newspaper. The press came out in force and the book was a big success. Suddenly publishers were interested.

Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?

Yes, I absolutely would. I would advise that the self-publisher is as professional as possible and does everything in their power to ensure a superb book. From cover design to proof-reading and editing, get professional help and make it the best you can. Providing you have written something that has a saleable market, remember that marketing is critical and if you don’t know how to do this pay someone who does – it will make or break your book. I have turned publishers down because I thought they weren’t a good fit or something didn’t quite resonate, self-publishing is very powerful now and cream rises to the top! You will get noticed if you write well and work hard.

Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?

Does anyone really tell you what they earn from writing? In the UK the top 10% of professional authors make £60k plus per annum with the top 5% over £100k. Lower earning writers (possibly the majority) average around £11k. Writing is the icing on the cake for me not just from novels but articles, short stories and features and I know that you are only as good as your last book and have to keep on writing.

What is the funniest thing that happened to you on a book tour?

I was due to make a speech to a large audience and having been told by the host that she’d announce a ‘comfort break,’ then I was on stage. I was halfway to the ladies room when I heard over the mic, “I’d like you all to welcome Caroline James…” Flustered, I had to hurl myself back on stage and cross my legs for the next forty minutes…

 

 

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