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What stars?

The Stars in Her Eyes Book Cover The Stars in Her Eyes
Love in LA Quartet #1
C.M. Albert
Contemporary, New Adult, Reverse Harem, Romance
March 26th 2019

When Creslyn Knight auditions for the role of a life time, she never expects three things:

  1. To know the casting director—intimately.
  2. To be insanely attracted to the three stand-in actors at the audition.
  3. That she’d soon be putting her morals to the test when her resolve weakens.

Acting is in Creslyn’s blood, and she’s focused her sights on one thing: landing the role of a lifetime. But she’s always been told that everything comes at a cost. The casting director names his when he tells her she must make him believe she can surrender to a harem of men, or he can’t justify giving her the lead role.

Determined to prove him wrong and show him she can tap into a passion that deep, Creslyn throws herself into rehearsals. But the fine line between script and reality soon starts to blur, leading her and three men into unchartered territory. The only problem? She has a jealous roommate, a disgruntled mother, and a string of paparazzi hot on her trail, making Creslyn question the cost of everything.

In a world where some things are best kept secret, is the price of fame too high when it comes to the heart?

The Stars in Her Eyes is book one of the Love in LA Quartet and is a new adult, steamy contemporary romance reverse harem LOVE STORY that can be read as a stand-alone or as an introduction to the series. All the heat you’ve come to expect with a reverse harem, AND a storyline worthy of a contemporary romance love story. Finally, the best of both worlds!

CM Albert:

USA Today Best Selling Author C.M. Albert writes heartwarming romances that are both “sexy and flirty, sweet and dirty!” Her writing infuses a healthy blend of humor, inspiration, and high-heat romance. She’s a sucker for a good villain but is a die-hard believer in everlasting love. In her spare time, she and her husband wrangle their two kids and enjoy spending time outdoors. When not writing or kid wrangling, C.M. Albert is also a Certified Medical Reiki Master, chocolate chip cookie aficionado, kindness ambassador, and seeker of naps

  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?

    Thank you so much for having me! This is actually my first Reverse Harem novel, and boy was it a challenge at first. I was inspired by a publisher who asked me to write a short RH for a boxset—and since I love stretching myself as a writer, I accepted even though I’d always said I’d never write a RH. But as one reader said, I always need to put a “Colleen spin” on the concept. And that was very true for The Stars in Her Eyes. I wanted the story to be realistic and not just a bunch of sex for the sake of sex. Since it’s a contemporary romance and not a paranormal or fantasy RH, I really wanted to understand the female main character and how she could find herself realistically falling for three men at the same time—let alone having an arrangement to explore their relationships sexually. This book seriously wrote itself. It’s a cliché, but it truly did. Creslyn Knight came through hard and fast demanding that her story be told, and it’s now my favorite story to date. I think it’s different than most RH’s in that it is a longer book, and is equally balanced between the HOT HOT HOT scenes you expect with an RH (and there are plenty!) and the plot-driven storyline and characters readers need with a contemporary romance  love story.

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

    I usually research as I go, when I discover I don’t know something or one of the characters throws a curve ball at me – like River in The Stars in Her Eyes, who ended up going to Julliard and was a classic cellist. On the plus side, as a result, I discovered the amazing duo 2Cellos during my research. But sometimes the topics are heavier, like with an upcoming novella where some of the characters are LGBTQ. I’ve already started interviewing several people who identify as this so I can do the story and characters justice from the get-go. But for The Stars in Her Eyes most research, particularly around location, was done as the need arose. 


  3. 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?

    So far, I am strictly self-published by choice; most of that has been because of a need for complete flexibility in my schedule up to this point. I am also a stay-at-home parent and my family comes first every single time. That’s not always the answer a publisher wants to hear. That said, I’m lucky enough that as the kids have gotten older and are in the same school now, I am able to write a lot more than I used to during the day. In general, I do believe it’s helpful to build a strong audience and brand before approaching a publisher. It’s certainly not required, but I think it does help them to see your dedication, commitment, and business savvy ahead of time. It also doesn’t hurt for them to know you have a built in audience and to see how people respond to your stories before taking a chance on an unknown author. In today’s market, it’s not that uncommon for authors to take this approach, or for publishers to find writers who bust their butts and are able to shine in a very dense market of eBook self-publishers. I also think it benefits the author because it helps give them a broader understanding of everything that’s truly required to publish a book and be successful, because only a small percentage of that is actually writing. 

  4. What do you read when you are ill in bed?

    I tend to go one of two ways, depending on my mood: YA dystopian (like The 100, Steelheart, Pure) or romance (Colleen Hoover, L.J. Shen, Skye Warren, Elle Thorpe, Melissa Foster).  

  5. What is your favourite genre?

    Hands down it’s romance, which is why I write it. I’m a hopeful romantic and love characters who are able to overcome personal challenges and still find a way to open up and love. In real life there’s always a lot going on politically and socially, so I think romance is a nice escape; it strips things down to the individual level while still giving us the bigger hope that love wins, despite the odds stacked against us. Humans are very complex (alone and in our relationships), and I love peeling back their layers to discover motivation. It takes a strong person to soften and open their heart to love again after experiencing tragedy, pain, heartache, or loss. And I think most of us can relate to that. Nothing makes me happier than for characters to get their happy ever after, whatever that looks like for them.  

  6. If you recommend a living author – who would it be? A dead author?

    I could recommend a dozen living authors, but if I had to pick just one right this moment, I’d probably choose L.J. Shen. I never understood the appeal of “the bad boy,” until reading her books. And she writes hot bad boys like nobody’s business. I haven’t read a book of hers I didn’t end up loving, including her latest release, The Kiss Thief. What she excels at is making the bad boy sympathetic by the end of the novel (even if he still is a bad boy). It takes talent to make a reader cringe at someone’s behaviors throughout a book but by the end everything clicks into place and you love them more than any regular hero—exactly because of everything they had to overcome to brave it all for love. There’s something about cracking open a hard heart and seeing the light.

    As for a deceased author, I grew up reading Bertrice Small. She is the QUEEN of sexy as sin historical romance. I’m not even a huge historical romance reader, but I devoured every one of her books and miss her greatly. She was so detailed in her knowledge of the time period, wrote an amazing anti-hero, and set the pages on FIRE. That’s probably where my love for explicit romances began, as I read my first Bertrice Small book—Skye O’Malley—when I was just sixteen.

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

    I’d probably say Melissa Foster. Her knack for writing both sweet, soul-quenching romance with a lot of heat really inspired me that it could be done well and be done successfully. Most writers are either sweet and clean, or bad and dirty. I think you can be both—which is why my author tagline nails what you can expect with my books so perfectly: “Sexy & flirty, sweet & dirty.” My first book, Faith in Love, was originally published as a part of Melissa Foster’s Kindle World. I chose to do that because I knew our audiences would be similar and I loved the world she created for her characters the Remingtons. It was an easy fit for my contemporary writing style that combines real, complex emotions with a high dose of heat and soulmate level attraction. Even though Kindle Worlds went away, I’m forever grateful that it pushed me to write and release my first book in the genre I love most.

    In your opinion who is the funniest author now writing?
  8. I don’t read as many funny books, but in the past I’ve enjoyed Laurie Notaro, David Sedaris, and Elise Sax when I needed a dose of laughter with my books.

  9. Have you ever tried to imitate another author’s style? And if so, why?

    I really haven’t, and that’s because I think for your writing to feel authentic to readers, you have to write it from your heart. There is something missing when a person just writes words to spit out books. The connection is missing. For example, I LURV L.J. Shen’s sexy AF, bad boy anti-heroes, but I would fall down all over the place if I tried to write one like her. It’s just not ME. And I think my readers would feel that disconnect in an instant. I always think it’s best to tell the story your way, because you’re the only one who can. The best feedback I get from readers is when they say they are touched by the way I was able to so easily blend heart, hope, and high heat—and I think this is my own unique style and brand – my “Colleen spin!” One of the best reviews I got was simply, “Fun, sexy, and poignant.” That’s what I try to hit every time.

  10. What have you done with the things you wrote when in school?

    I have kept them, but haven’t published any. In high school I wrote a lot of very angsty, depressing poetry. My dark years. Haha! I still have every horrible poem because that was what I was needing to release through my writing at the time. In college, I wrote more non-fiction and poetry (which got marginally better when I was told I could throw everything I thought I knew about poetry out the window).

  11. Do you have any pets?

    Absolutely! I think pets bring so much happiness and healing, so I’m a big believer in the strong connection you can forge with your pets. (I have had one soul mate kitty and one soul mate dog.)
    1. If so, what are they?
      We currently have 1 dog, 3 cats, 1 fish, and a bearded dragon. My daughter wants a chinchilla since she just lost her fish named NASA, and I’m obsessed with adorable little hedgehogs, but I doubt either will join our household. We have enough chaos right now!
    2. And what are they called?
      Dog, Beau. Cats: Patty, Sarah, & Leo (who is our asshole kitty; there’s always one). Fish: Javier. Bearded Dragon: Waffles.
    3. Do they help you write?
      Beau is my faithful companion. Sometimes the cats curl up with me, but Beau always is my sidekick. I write in a big club chair for comfort, and Beau is always napping on the couch right next to me in the sun, just being near me for love and comfort. It’s sweet.
    4. What is the funniest thing they have done while you are writing? Mostly it’s just Leo who chases the other cats. I’ve been concentrating before on a really intense scene and two cats will tear through the room at warp speed, flying off the couch over the coffee table like mini super heroes, all spitting and hissing. Scares the bejesus right out of me every time because it’s so fast and unexpected. Leo is ALWAYS the instigator too. Haha! 
    5. Do you want to add a photo of them to this Q&A?
      Sure. I’ll attach a rare photo of Leo not being an asshole and snuggling up with my baby Beau on the infamous couch in my writing room.

Thank you so much for having me today—this was fun!

Beau and Leo snuggling

https://colleenalbert.com

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14931260.C_M_Albert

https://www.facebook.com/cmalbertwrites

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When you want to know which type of story you may be reading…

So one thing I like to think about when reading a story is what type of story it is. When I was writing (academic folks!) I found out there were 7 archetypes types of stories that could be used, but in fact there are many other ways of identifying which story you are reading – and sometimes it is fun to guess. So I took look at what authors think about story tropes or archetypes and found the following. this is far from comprehensive, but it is a bit of fun research. If you want to find out more then take a look at:
https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Tropes and
https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MysteryTropes

There are sub-divisions of mystery and crime tropes eg:

Military and Warfare Tropes

Genre Tropes

News Broadcast

Murder Tropes

Crime and Punishment Tropes

The Oldest Profession

Monster Sob Story

Murder Tropes

Mystery Fiction

Mystery Literature

Mystery Story Creator Index

Toxic Tropes

Basic Mystery Classes

Criminals

Crime and Punishment Series

Crime and Punishment Tropes

Cops and Detectives

Detective Drama

Forensic Phlebotinum

Historical Detective Fiction

But I particularly like this list:

The Kurt Vonnegut Jr 8 forms/tropes of stories.

Kurt Vonnegurt is very well respected for his story analysis. He made a map of his analysis against time.

He made a visual mapping of the length of the story against the time inhabited by the story and the different ups and downs each classic/trope will take. Helps explains how when you feel unsatisfied by a storyline it is often because you are still waiting for the next point to occur.

On the other hand Ken Miyamoto, Produced screenwriter, former Sony Pictures script reader/story analyst, former Sony Studios liaison claims that these are the story tropes.

Coming of Age – Seemingly innocent (although not always so) youth experience the evils, trials, and tribulations of the real world. Stand by Me, To Kill a Mockingbird, Almost Famous, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, The Graduate, American Graffiti, etc.

Revenge – Our most primal instinct.  We see and read stories of revenge in nearly every genre.  In film we have Mad Max, Carrie, Death Wish, Once Upon a Time in the West, Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan, Gladiator, Election, Munich, The Counte of Monte Cristo, Hang ‘Em High, Memento, etc.

The Great Battle – An individual or group of people in conflict with others.  This ranges from epic battles (War movies, Lord of the Rings) to comedy (War of the Roses) to science fiction (Star Wars, Terminator franchise, etc.).

Love and Friendship – Love stories (Romeo and Juliet, Romantic comedies), buddy movies (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Lethal Weapon), dramas about friendship (The Big Chill), etc.

The Big Mystery – There’s a mystery to be solved, and the protagonist has to solve it.  You’re looking at classic characters in the likes of Sherlock Holmes, Tin Tin, Nancy Drew, etc.  Comedies like The Pink Panther series.  Agatha Christy novels.  Tom Clancy and John Grisham novels and movie adaptations.

The Great Journey – This theme follows characters dealing with trials and tribulation during travels… many of which are epic.  Huckleberry Finn, Apocalypse Now (Heart of Darkness in literature form), The Odyssey, Star Wars, and probably the best example in both film and literature, Lord of the Rings.

The Noble Sacrifice – The protagonist sacrifices himself for others.  Glory, Armageddon, war movies where a character dies for his fellow soldiers, etc.

The Fall From Grace – Showing humans going where only God should go, doing what only God should do, or attempting to do what humans shouldn’t do.  You look at films and novels like Jurassic Park, Splice, Frankenstein, etc.  And then look into science films like A.I. and even Terminator, where we as humans have gone too far in trying to create life… and it backfires on us.  Then into the horror genre with the aforementioned Frankenstein and even Stephen King’s Pet Semetary.

And Reedsy gives you 14 Fantasy tropes:

September 3, 2018

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harry potter chosen one

Fantasy tropes, like any other type of literary trope, are recurring images, themes, or devices that are used to the point of being common conventions amongst its genre.

When writing a genre such as fantasy (with such well-known conceits),  authors often feel the need to straddle a fine line: include too many tropes and readers will get déjà vu; don’t include a single cliché and you risk losing readers who have come to expect certain themes and touchstones from a fantasy novel.

The thing is, conventions commonly crop up in stories because most of them contain some element of universal relatability — and people enjoy the familiar.

So embrace the balancing act by acquainting yourself with some of the most popular fantasy tropes out there, and by learning how to prevent your characters, plots, and worlds from becoming a complete cliche

Character tropes

At their heart, all stories are about characters who represent some aspect of human nature — and fantasy is no exception. Many novels in this genre feature archetypes, which is not necessarily a bad thing — so long as your characters’ development aligns with the narrative arc and doesn’t rely on cliché pitstops.

1) The Chosen One

A character who is alone capable of fulfilling an important purpose, and whose responsibility is to resolve the plot’s main conflict — which will often be to save the world.

2) The Secret Heir

An orphan ends up being the long-lost scion to a royal throne. Often, this character is raised on a farm or another humble situation that contrast their true lineage. Maybe they lost their parents at a young age and sent away for their own protection. Perhaps they were switched at birth in some sort of hilarious misunderstanding. Maybe their mother had a summer fling with an undercover prince in her gap year.

3) The Evil Overlord

Fire and brimstone, darkness and inhospitable lands, the Evil Overlord usually lives in a realm that reflects their wicked intentions, surrounded  by their minions and followers. The Evil Overlord is also often bent on world domination.

4) The Reluctant Hero

The protagonist is thrust down the path of a story they don’t wish to be a part of. They long to return to normal life and only continue on their quest out of obligation or necessity. Think of it as the difference between Frodo (who wishes to return to the Shire but knows a task must be completed) and Conan the Barbarian, who relishes the role of rough-hewn hero. Often, the Reluctant Hero is also the Chosen One.

5) The Lucky Novice

This sometimes manifests when a character who has had never attempted a specific activity before is suddenly extremely talented at that specific skill.  Other times it’s presented in the form of a protagonist — who’s had a moderate amount of training — defeating the villain who has been honing their powers for years or decades (or even centuries).

6) The Mentor

Usually an elderly character who prepares the protagonist for whatever conflict they are facing. The Mentor often leaves before the big climax — whether they are killed, retire, or have to leave to carry out a job elsewhere — forcing the protagonist to stand on their own two feet.

Worldbuilding tropes

While the many subgenres of fantasy will all have their own tropes, here are a few worldbuilding conventions that you’re bound to see more often than not.

7) The World That Never Progresses

When a novel of series covers a society through the ages — but that world seems never change or progress. It could be a century later, but no social, technological, political, or cultural developments seem to have occurred. This one is fairly typical of high fantasy, which usually take place on grand, epic scales. ( and the one that really irritates me about Game of Thrones. Surely by now they have learnt how to fix holes in wooden doors!

8) The Pseudo-European Medieval Setting

A feudal system governing a society where taverns are frequented and duel-by-swords are a daily occurrence. The stories don’t usually take place in actual Europe, but a world that very much resembles the continent’s medieval era. This setting is a mainstay of fantasy — significantly solidified in the genre by The Lord of the Rings, but harking back to European folklore and tales of King Arthur.

9) The Powerful Artifact

This convention is used across all types of genres: an object of great power must be saved from falling into the wrong hands. The object is typically inanimate and derives its power from the manipulation of those who use it. The object might not be inherently evil, but its powers can have the effect of tempting and corrupting even the noblest characters.

10) The Homogenous Species

All elves are beautiful and love trees, and all dwarves are obsessed with gold and living underground, right? Categorizing entire races into a few commonalities is typical of fantasy novels, and if one character from that race differs, you can bet they’re an outlier — and often the protagonist of the novel (or a trusty sidekick). Another common feature of this trope is when one species is inherently “good”, and another is inherently “bad.”

Plot tropes

The Plot is the chain of events that comprise your narrative arc. Many fantasy novels will share a link or two (or seven) in common with other novels, including these:

11) The Waiting Evil

Long, long ago, an evil force is defeated in battle and locked away, never to wreak havoc again. That is, of course, until now. Having bided its time, the evil entity breaks free with an eye for vengeance. This Waiting Evil might break free of their own volition, might be released by an avid supporter (that is usually then disposed of — hello, Peter Pettigrew), or it might be released accidentally by an unknowing passerby or by natural causes.

12) The “Here Comes the Cavalry” Twist

All is lost. The villain and their minions are too strong and despite a noble fight, the jig is up. The heroes simply can’t hold off the opposition any longer. Time to lay down and die. But wait! Do you hear that? It’s faint, but growing louder. It’s… it’s… it’s the heroes’ friends, showing up in the nick of time to save the day! Hooray! Not all is lost!

13) The Black and White Morality Theme

The battle between “good” and “evil” is such a prevalent theme in fantasy — and it’s no wonder. When it strays to a cliché is when the line between good and evil is perceived as black and white, with no grey area. The good guys are purely good, and the bad guys are pure evil — end of story. Often, the good guys manage to defeat the bad guys without killing a soul or even wrecking a single building.

14) The Quest

The hero — and usually a handful of secondary characters — sets out on a quest with a specific goal. Typically the goal ranges from saving a princess, defeating a villain, destroying a corrupt artifact, or finding someone. The goal of the quest doesn’t matter as much as the fact that there is a solid one. While The Quest very closely resembles The Hero’s Journey, there are key differences between the two story structures: while the former is all about the character’s journey to achieve a goal, the latter is more about the character’s inner journey than the actual objective. [
https://blog.reedsy.com/fantasy-tropes/ ]

On the other hand Jill Williamson claims there are 145 (!!!) Romance Tropes.

abduction to love

accidental pregnancy

afraid to commit

all grown up

amnesia

antihero romance

arranged marriage

athlete

bait and switch

beauty and the beast

best friend’s lover

best friend’s sibling

best friends/ friends first

billionaire

blackmail

blind date

bodyguard crush

boss/employee

boy hates girl

boy meets ghoul

boy meets girl

break his heart to save him

brother’s best friend

bully turned puppy lover

can’t live with them, can’t live without them

celebrity loves commoner

celibate hero

childhood enemies fall in love

childhood friends

childhood marriage promise

Cinderella story/wrong side of the tracks

classes clash

clueless love

consanguinity

crazy love

Cyrano/matchmaker

damaged lead finds happily ever after

dark secret keeps them apart

different worlds

disguise

enemies to lovers

everyone can see it

fairytale

fake engagement

fatal attraction

first love

fish out of water

fling

forbidden love/Romeo and Juliet

friends with benefits

girl wants bad boy

guardian/ward

guy wants cheerleader

huge guy, tiny girl/ tiny guy, huge girl

if I can’t have you, no one will!

imaginary love triangle

impotent love

innocent cohabitation

instant/false sweethearts

it happened in Vegas

jilted bride/groom

law enforcement

long distance relationship

long-term lovers

love at first sight

love interest has a profession protagonist abhors

love interest reminds of estranged family member

love potion

love reforms villain

love triangle

love/hate

lovers in denial/ they’re the last to know

mad love

maid/janitor

mail-order bride

marriage of convenience

men in uniform

mistaken declaration of love leads to love

mistaken identity

noble rescuer steps in, She’s dating Mr. Wrong

nobody thinks it will work

not good enough for him/her

oblivious to love

older man, younger woman/ older woman, younger man

on the rocks

one night stand

one wants true love/other wants a fling

oops! fall in love with the wrong person (which could ruin everything!)

opposites attract

orphan

overly shy love

parent/childcare worker

partners in crime

passionate lovers

Plain Jane get the hottie

playboy

politics

pretending to be married or engaged

protector

redemption

rejected as unworthy/ turns life around

reluctant sex worker

removing the rival

rescue romance

return to hometown

reunion romance

revenge

rich man, poor woman/ rich woman, poor man

rivals/ protagonist vs. antagonist

road trip romance

rock star hero

royalty

runaway bride/groom

scars from the past

second chance at love

second time around

secret admirer

secret baby- He doesn’t know she’s PG

secret that can end everything

sibling triangle

sibling’s ex-spouse

similarities attract

sleeps with everyone but you

sorry, I’m taken

stranded together

student/teacher

sudden parent

the one that got away

time travel

tortured hero(ine)

tragic love affair

tragic past

two-person love triangle (involves some mistaken identity) ex. superman

ugly duckling

unobtainable love interest/ one-sided

unrequited love

unrequited-love-switcheroo love triangle

unwanted harem

virginal/innocent

wallflower noticed by the rake

was it all a lie? (undercover love)

widow(er)

(wo)man in peril

working with the ex

workplace romance

So you reads your story and takes your pick.. Have fun…

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In Which Nick isn’t Trapped

Trapped Book Cover Trapped
Nick Louth
murder, mystery, police, thriller
Canelo
28th January 2019

Two desperate criminals. Something she never saw coming. A searing suspense thriller from bestselling author Nick Louth

In Manchester, two hardened gang members on the run take Catherine Blake and her one-year-old son hostage at gunpoint. She is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Held in a Transit van, Catherine needs a plan fast. But it means diving into her captors’ risk-drenched world, and playing them at their own game.

Catherine has been through cancer, miscarriages and five draining years of IVF in order to have her son Ethan. He is the most precious thing in the world. She may be terrified out of her wits, but she’d do anything to protect him. Anything, no matter the cost...

Brace yourself.

A nerve-shredding suspense thriller you won’t believe until you have experienced it yourself, Trapped is perfect for fans of Cara Hunter, JP Delaney and Rachel Abbott.

Author Interview with Nick Louth

The book ideas I get flow most strongly in the time when I’m just waking up and I lie in bed turning them over in my mind. Sometimes the ideas come very quickly, almost tumbling over themselves in their hurry to emerge, but sometimes it takes a lot longer for me to see how they would work. For example, I have just been devising a piece of misdirection for a future DCI Gillard crime thriller, one that will send detectives and hopefully the reader in and entirely wrong direction when looking for the murder victim. The course is particularly challenging when the title of my books offers a clue: The Body in the Marsh, The Body on the Shore and so on. This particular idea I’ve been working on in the back of my mind for two or three days, and I’ve yet to write down any part of it. But it’s still there ticking over, like an engine kept warm.

I do write notes, I have a notebook that I have with me at all times, and if it’s an inspiring name for a character, or a place, I need to write it down quickly. But the big concepts, the reversals, the misdirection, ideas that give the book a ‘bang’ I tend not forget.

In the case of Trapped, the basic story on the idea for its creative tension came to me all in one go. It’s the contrast between black and white, not just the evil of the gangsters and the goodness, or at least the normality of Catherine the hostage, it’s a bit extra. I wanted to contrast two ways of living a life. Our heroine is an extraordinarily risk averse woman, who plans everything in her life, even more so now she has been blessed with the child that she took so very long to conceive. For her, nothing is left to chance. But the gangsters are seemingly driven by impulse. They plan very little, certainly not far ahead, and rely on quick reactions drive and energy to live the life they want. I really wanted to smash together these two life philosophies, and pack them into the smallest possible space to see what would happen. That space is the back of a dirty, smelly transit van, surrounded by armed police. Total claustrophobia. For a long time I thought that would be enough, straight story that would have the reader on the edge of her seat, particularly given an innocent one-year-old child was in danger. I had written the book thus far almost 8 months before I got the idea for a very strong twist. I’m particularly proud that I was able to pack in to what is a bit particularly short novel all the action and a series of shocking twists.

I’m a journalist by training, and meticulous research underlies everything I do. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to make contact with a retired senior detective with extensive experience from drugs, murder, Special Branch work and undercover operation, plus a government forensic scientist who has allowed me to come with him to an occasional murder trial. I’m also fortunate to have a very senior criminal defence lawyer who has helped me extensively with work on my next book The Body in the Mist. The role of research isn’t to dump on the page everything you have learned, rather it is to convince the reader that you know what you’re talking about. Approaching those in authority is something I’ve done for many years as a journalist so it doesn’t make me nervous or intimidate me. However that doesn’t mean to say that I was good positive response. PR people for police forces or corporations, for example, often need quite a lot of handholding before they know what it is you really trying to get from them. But others fall into your hands, so delighted are they to be involved in the process of creating fiction.

I have been rejected countless times by many literary agents, amazingly even after I had a number one UK bestseller the previous year. I sometimes struggle to find what it is that agents are looking for, but feel I have a better rapport with publishers. In the case of Canelo, I was lucky enough that they approached me after a former agent of mine, now a non-fiction publisher, recommended me to them.

Author Name: Nick Louth

Previous Books: The Body in the Marsh, The Body on the Shore and Heartbreaker

Genre: Thriller

Links to Book:

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

Author Bio:

Nick Louth is a best-selling thriller writer, award-winning financial journalist and an investment commentator. A 1979 graduate of the London School of Economics, he went on to become a Reuters foreign correspondent in 1987. It was an experience at a medical conference in Amsterdam in 1992, while working for Reuters, that gave him the inspiration for Bite, which was self-published in 2007 and went on to become the UK No. 1 Kindle best-seller for several weeks in 2014 before being snapped up by Sphere. It has sold a third of a million copies, and been translated into six languages.

The terrorism thriller Heartbreaker was published in June 2014 and received critical acclaim from Amazon readers, with a 4.6 out of 5 stars on over 100 reviews. Mirror Mirror, subtitled  ‘When evil and beauty collide’ was published in June 2016. The Body in the Marsh, a crime thriller, is being published by Canelo in September 2017. 

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Animals and Farms – what’s not to like? The author explains

ReInventing HillWilla Book Cover ReInventing HillWilla
Hillwilla Trilogy #3
Melanie Forde
Literary/Women's Contemporary
Independently published
(November 4, 2018)

Life on a llama farm, set in remote “Seneca County,” West Virginia, transitions from contented to chaotic in this final novel in the Hillwill trilogy -- all under the watchful eye of canine guardian Ralph. Five years after we first met northern urban transplant Beatrice Desmond, she is finally adapting to her mountain hollow among the wary “born-heres” and is more open to the blessings in her life. She has developed a rewarding mother-daughter relationship with troubled local teenager Clara Buckhalter and is inching toward marriage with dashing, but complicated entrepreneur Tanner Fordyce. Meanwhile, Clara sets off on a productive new path, one that would have been unthinkable had Beatrice never come into her life. All of that progress is suddenly jeopardized by Clara’s scheming mother Charyce. Ultimately, the upheaval touched off by Charyce’s schemes serves as the catalyst for new beginnings for the Seneca County misfits (even Ralph).

Questions for Authors:

  • 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?

There’s been no set time-frame for thinking through novel ideas. Once an idea seems to have legs, I set up a “fermenting file,” which will collect odd bits of research (90 percent of it never used) and random notes to myself. My initial idea may change dramatically even before I start writing, as well as during the writing process. I’ve published four novels now (and am currently working sporadically on two at the same time) and with every one, I start out knowing how the novel should begin and how it should end. So far, that certainty has not changed. It’s that large space in the middle that gets tricky. After the first few chapters, I inevitably get stuck. This is probably because my novels are so character-driven and the characters start having minds of their own and taking me places I didn’t anticipate going. If I let them talk to me, without my losing control completely, the workflow changes halfway through the novel. At that mystical halfway point, I suddenly know how to get to that previously envisioned final chapter. Suddenly, I’m able to chart out six or seven chapters at a time. The main challenge then becomes keeping up with the flow. I may still get stuck occasionally, but nowhere near as profoundly or frequently as in the first half of the writing process.

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

The research time frame varies with every book. My first two books were non-fiction, ghostwritten with a deadline and overall subject area someone else proposed. That was a much more structured process than for fiction writing. With both of those non-fiction projects, I had six months to deliver the draft. In both cases, I spent four of those months researching and two months writing. Although there was some spillover, the research and writing phases were largely segregated.

With fiction, there’s much less compartmentalization. Reinventing Hillwilla required the least amount of research time of any of my books. Even though I wrote it as a standalone, it is, after all, the third in a series, with the same venue and same principal characters. So those characters were well-developed by the time Chapter 1 ended up on paper. Nevertheless, there were lots of facts I had to check — for example, about the legal system, about the exotic locales Tanner visits, etc. And before I plunked Clara in the middle of Wellesley College, I trekked up to Massachusetts and chatted with students to get a better sense of the current campus culture. That way I had something firmer than memories of my own college years, and I learned about some key changes in campus venues and dormitory life.

One final comment about research… My most valuable research tool is bald observation. A favorite pastime is to park myself, solo, in a restaurant, in a region that will be the venue for part of a novel. Then I shamelessly eavesdrop on conversations at nearby tables. I’ll make mental notes of vocabulary choices, pronunciation, phrasing. At one point, I overheard a local speak about the need to “ponder” something before finding the solution to a problem. That verb struck me as downright eloquent, uniquely West Virginian. And you’ll hear it coming out of Ben Buckhalter’s mouth.

  • What is your favourite genre?

My favorite genre? Hmmm, depends on my mood. I’ve certainly had my cop-shop whodunit phase, cozy mystery phase, family saga phase, biography/autobiography phase and period novel phase. Literary novels are a constant, however. Especially those involving flawed, complicated characters with dark pasts. Not surprisingly, those are the kind of novels I want to write, too.

  • If you recommend a living author – who would it be? A dead author?

Recommendation of a living author? When it comes to wordsmithing chops, the first name that pops up is Alexander McCall Smith, author of the Botswana lady detective agency series and the Scotland Street series (my favorite), among many, many others. That man can string words together so eloquently, combining both economy of language and lyrical flow, he just makes my jaw drop. He also has a talent for delicately tweaking certain social trends, without coming across as preachy.

As for dead authors, oy, so many. If I focus on economy of language, John Cheever and Emily Dickinson come to mind. Both could pack so much into so few words, in very different ways. Both had an appealingly dark sense of irony, too. Writers who stretched my brain — but made that painful effort worthwhile — include such greats as Shakespeare, Goethe, Rilke, Eliot. I’m sure I’m forgetting others who had a major influence on me.

  • Have you ever tried to imitate another author’s style? And if so, why?

No, I’ve never tried to imitate another writer’s style. But I’m sure I’ve subconsciously absorbed elements from other authors. Perhaps because I spent most of my professional life as a nonfiction ghostwriter, it’s really important for me to speak in my own (unique, I hope) voice as a novelist.

  • Do you have any pets?

Do I have pets? Is accounting boring? The numbers are down to a precious few these days: one soft-eyed English setter who looks a lot like Ralph (but was born years after Ralph); one English cocker spaniel with the swagger of a rhinoceros and a great sense of irony; and one gray barn cat who has staff.

  1. If so, what are they?

Over the years, my life has been blessed by llamas; a string of English setters, one Old English Sheepdog (hmmm, there seems to be a pattern here of English-bred dogs), one mutt; one ginormous Newfoundland; a bunch of rescue and feral cats; a series of fancy long-haired cats (Himalayan and Birman); one Peruvian guinea pig (whom I named Fash, short for Fascist Pig); and two parakeets, who got me through the terrible five-year era when my childhood family was dogless.

  • Do they help you write?

Yes, my pets help me write. I can’t remember how many dog-walks have freed up writer’s block. Mainly, my animal companions have safeguarded my sanity, which fiction-writing constantly undermines.

Do you want to add a photo of them to this Q&A?

If you’re interested in pictures, you need look no further than the cover of Reinventing Hillwilla. My current setter Finnegan ably stepped up to portray the spectral Ralph. But, yes, I had to bribe him with treats.

Author Details:

Melanie Forde is a veteran writer, ghosting in diverse formats—from academic white papers to advertising copy. Under her own name, she has published numerous features and commentaries about the natural world, as well as the first two novels in the Hillwilla trilogy (Hillwillaand On the Hillwilla Road). She lives in Hillsboro, West Virginia.

Connect with Melanie:

Website:  https://bit.ly/2Aokmfm 

Facebook: https://bit.ly/2LLPOsj

Goodreads: https://bit.ly/2Vnr2TS 

Twitter: https://bit.ly/2C0dJjA 

Purchase Reinventing Hillwilla on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2QkqLgH 

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Lucky Xmas through the author’s words






A Very Lucky Xmas Book Cover




A Very Lucky Xmas





Lilac Mills





Genre: Women’s Fiction




Canelo




Release Date: 20th August 2018

Things can't get worse for Daisy Jones... can they?

Christmas is meant to be the happiest time of year so why is absolutely everything going wrong for Daisy? Reeling from a bad breakup, moving back in with her parents and hounded by trouble at work she really shouldn’t be surprised when things go from bad to worse..and she ends up in A&E!

Her great-grandmother persuaded her to plant a silver sixpence in the Christmas pud for luck but choking on the coin isn’t the ‘change’ she’d wished for. Yet when dashing Dr Noah Hartley saves the day things finally start to look up. With Christmas Day just around the corner Daisy’s determined to make her own luck...and hopefully bag herself a dishy doc in the process!

A heart-warming christmas romance perfect for fans of Holly Martin, Debbie Johnson and Daisy James

Lilac Mills tells us about Xmas

  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?

Oh, I can mull something over for years before I bite the bullet. I’m currently just finishing up some edits for Canelo (the book is due to be published in the spring) on a story I first began about 13 years ago. I wrote about thirty-thousand words, then life got in the way and I did other stuff instead, but I always intended to come back to it, and when my lovely editor asked me if I had any ideas in the pipeline, it seemed an ideal time to develop and complete this poor little book-baby. The story has changed considerably from the very first half-draft, but then novels often tend to, but the concept is the same.

I also have an ideas folder, which I’m continually adding to, but what usually happens is that something will come to me which takes precedence over all of them, and I simply have to write it until the story is out of my system.

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

It depends on the book, but so far not too long, because I’m writing about what I know or have experienced myself. A Very Lucky Christmas came about from my grandmother’s tradition of making her own Christmas pudding and putting a sixpence in it for luck. Unlike Daisy, no one in my family actually swallowed the darned thing, but there were a couple of near misses and one cracked tooth.

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

I was accepted by a publisher on the first submission, but that wasn’t just luck. I had invested a great deal of time in researching publishers, and I knew what Canelo was looking for, so my pitch to them was right, and I sent them the sort of novel I knew would fit in with other novels in their chick lit stable. Of course, there was always the possibility that they did not want to take on another author in my genre at the time I submitted to them and I was fully prepared for that, or that my writing wasn’t as good as I hoped it was!

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

Not necessarily, and many authors don’t. I just happened to think going down the self-publishing route was viable for me at the time. I’m quite impatient, and want my stories to be published as soon as they are ready, and not to have to wait to fit in with a publisher’s time-frame. Self-publishing has been a worthwhile experience though, as I have gained insights into marketing and advertising that I otherwise might not have done.

  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?

My publisher liked the fact that I had an online presence and also liked that I had already published three books which were fairly well received by my target audience. It could very well have gone some way towards influencing Canelo to make me an offer. Self-publishing can be a risky business though and may backfire if you don’t do it right. Editing and proofreading is a must, as is a professional cover. The right marketing helps too, because no matter how slick and polished your novel might be, if readers aren’t aware of it, it’s not going to sell.

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

It hasn’t happened yet, but I’ve only been writing chick lit for eighteen months, with four novels published so far. Unless I write something which catches the imagination of the public in a huge way, I think it will be a while yet before my income from writing matches my income from my day job. And even then, I’m not sure I’m prepared to give up my job. It’s steady income, I know what is going into my bank account at the end of every month. I can’t say that about my income from book sales.

  1. What do you read when you are ill in bed?

Nothing. I’m rarely ill, but when I am it tends to be the flu, and all I want to do is to curl up in a ball and feel sorry for myself.

 8. What is your favourite genre?

It has to be chick lit, although I do like the occasional psychological thriller. Besides writing in the chick lit genre, it does help to read it too, to keep abreast of trends and to see what other authors are writing about.

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

I’ve just read a book by Stephanie Dagg called Fa-La-Llama-La: Christmas at the Little French Llama Farm. It was hilarious. Her second in this series is due out soon, and I can’t wait to read it. There’s something about her dry humour that strikes a chord in me.

 10. What have you done with the things you wrote when in school?

I didn’t write in school, apart from those things pupils were forced to write. I didn’t do any creative writing under my own steam. I don’t think I thought it was possible. To me, authors were magical beings, creating stories out of thin air. I didn’t ever believe I could join their ranks. I didn’t actually start writing until I was in my early forties, but I didn’t start with a short story, or a novella, or even a 100,000-word novel. Nope, I went for it big time, and produced a massive 320,000-word effort. Looking back, some bits of it weren’t too bad, a few bits were actually quite good, most of it was meh, and there were some parts which were pretty dire. It will never see the light of day, but I cut my authory teeth on it, so to speak. It’s hidden safely away in the depths of my laptop and there it will stay.

Authors’ bio

Previous Books: Summer on the Turquoise Coast, Sunshine at Cherry Tree Farm and Love in the City by the Sea

Lilac Mills writes feel-good romantic women’s fiction, and is the author of Love in the City by the Sea, A Very Lucky Christmas, Summer on the Turquoise Coast, and Sunshine at Cherry Tree Farm. Lilac spends all her time writing, or reading, or thinking about writing or reading, often to the detriment of her day job, her family, and the housework! Home for Lilac is Worcester, England.

Twitter: @LilacMills

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