Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Interview with Jessica Tornese

Welcome, Jessica and thank you for taking time away from writing to be with us today. Time travel has always fascinated me and your books are so well done that there are times when I feel it's a real possibility! I understand you're writing a trilogy beginning with Lost Through Time. So lets move on to learn a bit about you and the wonderful characters who are sure to thrill just about everyone.

The question that is always asked—what inspired you to write Linked Through Time, and Lost Through Time?

I grew up with a large family. My Dad was one of eleven children, so I have endless tales of cousins and extended family. My Dad’s stories always stuck with me because he grew up with nothing. Absolutely nothing! He did not have indoor plumbing until high school- in Northern Minnesota! I admire him and wanted to keep his stories alive. A lot of what happens to Kate in “Linked” are true events from my dad’s childhood. Lost Through Time mentions a disaster that actually occurred in my home town in 1910. I guess I just really like to keep the stories of our ancestors from dying out. They were true, hard core Americans fighting just to make a living.

Your take on time travel is unique did you do any research to help you form the idea?

I love the idea of using something that had to do with the region. Of course, northern lights are not often seen as brilliantly as in Alaska or Canada, but they are amazing and kind of mysterious, so I thought they could be a believable reason!

What challenges have you overcome in having such a unique take on time travel?

As with any book, I had to keep going back and forth to remember my rules and events to make things happen. Since I change the rules in the second book, I had to really sketch out why and how Kate could travel differently than other characters.

You create a very realistic picture of farm life in the 1960’s—did you do research? If not, how did you create such a realistic picture without research?

I actually lived on the farm I am describing. For a few short months, I had to live with my grandparents in the very house my Dad grew up in. They were still doing the same chores and living the same kind of lifestyle - except with indoor plumbing of course! The chores were endless and I absolutely hate haying.

Who is your favorite character and why?

I love Kate. She reminds me of myself. I was the snotty city girl that was taken out of the city and moved to a small northern MN town when I was fifteen. I thought my life was over! I learned a lot about myself as a person and learned how to work outside. I appreciate my Dad more, and am so glad to have been raised closer to his family. I love Kate’s growth and life lessons about boys. There are good boyfriends out there and bad…definitely something we have to learn!

In book one you create sympathy for the character of Sarah, but in book two she’s quite evil. Was making a character that was originally likable into a bad character hard?

Yes. It was actually my husband’s idea to make a villain. He basically said that the story will go nowhere without a villain, so we decided Sarah had the most to be angry and vengeful for. Once I started, it was really fun to write the villain part because I never get to act that way. It was a peek into the dark side.

Kate matures a lot through book one, did you always plan this, or did she mature as you wrote the novel?

Kate was really a mirror of myself. I think I wanted to show that from day one - how she can go from a judgmental teenager focusing on her own needs, to learning about serving others. I think everyone makes this same transition at some point in their lives; it’s just a question of when.

In Linked Through Time keeping track of so many brothers and sisters was hard for Sarah, how did you do it as an author?

I literally took my Dad’s family and just changed the names! He had 6 brothers and 5 sisters, and I just kept picturing them in my mind.

How did you evolve the story of Linked Through Time into Lost Through Time?

I didn’t want Kate’s story to be over. I knew I wanted to write about Baudette’s historic fire, so once I decided to bring Sarah back into the picture it all fell into place. I love history and am trying to decide how to connect with the final chapter in Kate’s and Sarah’s life in book three.

We saw a very little bit of Travis’ son—will we see more of him?

T.J. will make an appearance in book three. I think we will see a bit more develop with him. I want Kate’s story to have something good in it for her. Though it is a little Jerry Springer, I think Kate deserves a good man and some closure in all the chaos she lives in.

When did you start writing?

I didn’t really start writing books until a few years ago, but I have always loved writing and reading. They go hand in hand, I think.

As an author, what is your biggest challenge and how do you overcome it?

Finding time to write. I have three kids and it is a constant tornado in the house. I try to take some time once a week to nail down some outline ideas.

You are with an independent publisher, Solstice Publishing, how did you find them?

I submitted my work based on a newsletter I received called Children’s Writer. They give contact names and emails and it just happened to work out that Nik Morton liked the manuscript.

What do you like best about being with a smaller press?

I like the camaraderie with the other authors. We have a daily interaction on line. Mostly we use it for questions or support, but it’s nice to have others in the same boat as yourself.

What is the biggest challenge of being with a smaller press?

Marketing. There just isn’t enough time or money to get the word out. It has to be done over time, mostly on your own doing. But Solstice is trying hard to work with everyone and do what they can with their resources. I was just voted Solstice’s Author of the Year, so that was very exciting and proof that I do have fans out there that love the books.

For budding authors out there, how much say do you think you have in the final product, from cover to the insides, to the marketing?

Depending on the publisher, you can have a lot of say in your product. I wouldn’t let someone change my work completely, especially if it was something I didn’t believe in. Stay true to your style and someone will come along that likes it!

Author Bio, Links, and Contact

Jessica was recently voted Solstice Publishing’s 2012 Author of the Year!

Jessica Tornese’s debut novel, Linked Through Time, was inspired by her home town Baudette, MN. She graduated from high school there and continued her education at Minnesota State University – Moorhead where she earned a degree in education. She spent several years coaching in the Junior Olympic volleyball program in Minnesota as well as the junior varsity team for Lake of the Woods High School in 2010.

Her favorite hobbies include reading, scrapbooking, playing volleyball, and extreme outdoor sports like caving, ziplining, and white water rafting. Jessica is also active in her church and has run several Vacation Bible School programs and Sunday school programs. She enjoys working with kids of all ages!

She hopes to finish her Linked trilogy soon, and continue writing. Recently, she self-published her first juvenile fiction book for kids online. (see M&M Twins)

Twitter: @jltornese

Again, thanks for joining us Jessica. It's been an absolute pleasure.

Let's support Jessica by leaving her a comment about this great interview. She'd love to hear from you and so would I! :)

All my best,

Dee Ann

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Interview with Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz

You're in for a treat today! We've been fortunate enough to get Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz, author of the historical novel, Lady In Waiting, as well as over 100 short stories. Please join me in welcoming her by leaving a brief comment at the end of this interview.

Welcome Penny, thanks so much for joining us today. Let's just jump right in.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

The book I’d like to talk about today is Lady In Waiting, published by MuseItUp Publishing.  It is an historical romance.
Can you provide a short blurb for us?

Mabriona is cousin to the beautiful and spoiled Princess Alana. When
Alana is forced to marry a man she despises, Mabrina is torn between
her loyalty to her cousin and her attraction to the handsome Prince

Tragedy befalls the cousins on the way to Prince Blayne's castle. Servants,
believing Mabriona to be Alana, refuse to listen when she tries to explain.

While she waits for Blayne to recover, Mabriona meets his equally handsome younger brother, Madoc, a bard.

When Blayne awakes, will Mabriona choose life with a future king, will she be sent home in disgrace because of her inadvertent lies, or will Madoc win her love with his poetry?

Do you have a day job as well?

I retired from my day job in 2008. At that time, I was working as the Office Manager for the Columbia County District Attorney.  A year or so after I retired, I took on a part-time job as an editor for MuseItUp Publishing.  I also care for my 97-year-old mother and help out with my young grandchildren on a regular basis.

Where do you get your ideas?

I tend to get my ideas from lots of places.  I take notes when someone tells a story I think is interesting.  I cut out articles from newspapers or magazines that appeal to me and make me think “what if?”  Sometimes something that happens to me becomes part of a story.  Most of my non-fiction articles are related to my volunteer activities.  Lady in Waiting, however, was a bit of a fluke.  I wrote it simply because I was interested in the time period and felt compelled to try my hand at writing an historical romance.

How do you handle writers block?

Since I enjoy writing both fiction and non-fiction, plus I write for adults and children, I don’t generally face writers’ block.  If I’m stuck with a story, I can switch to something else and then go back to what I had been working on with a clear head.  I believe variety helps keep me going. Also, since I’m the type of writer who doesn’t feel obligated to write every day, if my muse isn’t singing, I’m usually not working.

How do you market your work?

I use the Internet for most of my marketing.  I am on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as well as JacketFlap.  I have a blog where I feature other writers on a regular basis.  This gives me contacts to other bloggers with similar interests (such as yourself) who offer to reciprocate with a spot on their blogs. 

When I have a new release, I set up a virtual blog tour that will last from two to four weeks and makes stops with bloggers around the world, ensuring exposure to a large audience.  Depending on the age level of the release (and if it is a print book), I have done local book signings, library readings, and school visits.  I always do a press release and send off information to the local newspapers.

How did you come up with the title?

The title for Lady in Waiting was easy since I wrote a story about a young woman who was employed as a lady in waiting.  It’s a bit of a twist on the words, though, since it turns out she is also a lady who is waiting for the love of her life.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I have written many more short stories than books.  In fact, while Lady in Waiting is available in eBook form, it is only about 15,000 words long. I have written over a hundred articles and another hundred or so short stories.  They have been published in a variety of magazines and online ezines.  I collected sixteen of them (fantasy and science fiction) and released them through Sam’s Dot Publishing and Smashwords: A Past and A Future. I have two other stories with MuseItUP: Love Delivery (contemporary romance) and Mirror, Mirror (time travel romance).  I have recently released a picture book, Boo’s Bad Day, through 4RV Publishing.  I have contracts for three other children’s books with them:  Ghost for Rent and Ghost for Lunch (middle grade paranormal mysteries) and Coat of Many Colors (children’s picture book).

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Finding the time to write is probably my most challenging problem.  There always seems to be one more thing that needs handling.  It’s always worth it, though, when I finally do sit down and work on a writing project. I also have a hard time staying focused long enough to finish a full-length novel, which is why I enjoy short stories and children’s books, which tend to be shorter.

Who designs the covers of your books?

I have had several different illustrators and have been very pleased with all of them. Each publishing house has its own artists.  Depending on the genre of the book, an illustrator with expertise in that area is assigned to do the artwork.

Where can people buy your books?

Thanks for asking!

Love Delivery:

Mirror, Mirror:

Boo’s Bad Day:

A Past and A Future:

Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz has published more than 100 articles, 75 stories, a chapbook, and her stories have been included in two anthologies. She writes for both adults and children. Her fiction has appeared in numerous genre and children’s publications, and non‑fiction work has appeared in a variety of writing, parenting, and young adult print magazines and on line publications.  She edits for MuseItUp Publishing.  Visit her web site at http:// Her writing blog is located at
She has three romances published by MuseItUp Publishing: Love Delivery, Lady in Waiting, and Mirror, Mirror. She has recently released Boo’s Bad Day with 4RV Publishing and has three other children’s books under contract with them: Ghost for Rent, Ghost for Lunch, and Many Colored Coats.  Her short story collection, A Past and A Future, is available through Sam’s Dot Publishing and Smashwords.
Penny, what a great interview. I'm glad to have learned so much about your success as an author. I'm sure many will be hopping over to your blog and other sites to check things out. Thank you for joining us today.
Okay, everyone, let's drop Penny a note and let her know what you thought of the interview and her new book, Lady in Waiting. Thank you all for stopping by once again.
All my best,
Dee Ann

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Keeping Track of Scenes

The first thing you need to do to organize your novel is organize your scenes. There are various ways to do this. I know some authors who prefer to use a spreadsheet method, and others still who choose to write out 3 x 5 index cards so they can spread them about, but I use Scrivener which is great for organizing scenes.

Next, you’ll need to make some decisions on the scenes in order to manage them:

• When does the scene happen? (date/time)
• What happens in the scene?
• What order should you place it in?
• Which character’s POV will be used for the scene?

Remember, you can make a scene list whenever you feel like it. There’s no cut and dried method; it’s whatever works for you. I’ve known some writers who prefer to make a scene list before they write their first draft, and others who’d rather write out the first draft and then go back and create a scene list. I am more like that latter. I usually write through my first draft and then go back and review my scenes. But there are also times when I know what I want to take place but can’t quite see it through in my mind. In this case, I’ll make a scene list for this particular point in the book.

Let’s take a closer look at the decisions mentioned above to create a great scene list:

When does the scene happen? Each scene should have a date and time woven into it in order to keep the reader’s vision clear. If you’ve ever read a book where the character was sunning at the beach one minute and then walking in the woods in the middle of the night the next without warning, you’ll know what I mean.

What happens in the scene? You should write one or two sentences that outline the scene, just enough to know what the scene accomplishes. You want to get an overview of the scene at a glance as you look down the scene list.

What order should the scene be in? Many writers start out by putting their scenes in chronological order but there may be times when you find that it makes more sense to put them out of order. Having your scenes in a list format will allow you to move them around quite easily.

Which character’s point-of-view will be used for the scene? This is a big one for me. I tend to switch POVs as I switch scenes, and there are times when I’m writing a longer scene that I forget which POV I intended on using. There are little tricks you can use to track your characters. When I’m working a scene, I give each character a color and highlight their part in the conversation. That way I’m able to determine how much time they’re on stage and who seems to dominate.

Once you have a complete scene list of all the scenes in your first draft, then it’s time to go back to the beginning and start working the scenes to see which ones you’ll keep and which ones you’ll cut. What?! Cut?! I can feel your shocked brainwaves at the thought. As hard as it may be to believe, not every scene in your story will be deemed essential. Your job is to review each one and, setting your emotions aside, cut out those that don’t move your story forward. However, don’t be too quick to cut a scene based on how it’s written. Read it over carefully and see if you can breathe some life into it. If after all attempts at keeping it alive you still feel the necessity to lay it to rest, then draw a line through it (or highlight it) before deleting it. This will show you all of the revisions you’ve made for the next draft. Now you can move forward confident that the scenes will flow smoothly together to provide you with a better book.

Here are a couple of links that will help you in your scene writing:

The Scene Book: A Primer for the Fiction Writer
Scene Length: Short Scenes Versus Long Scenes
Writing Action Scenes

As always, thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment; I’d love to hear from you.

All my best wishes for your writing success.

Dee Ann

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Stop Stalking and Start Communicating

Stop Stalking and Start Communicating

You’re an author, you wrote a book, and now you want help spreading the word, so you turn to your social network. But something is wrong. You don’t see your posts being re-tweeted and people aren’t reaching out to you. You sit back dumbfounded. Why?

This is an area that disturbs me and I've been seeing it more and more, so I figured I'd take a moment and vent a little.

There’s more to developing a social network than simply following someone. I’ve had many people follow me without ever saying a word. They click ‘follow’ and sit back and wait for me to follow back, which I do… sometimes. First, I usually check out their profile to see if they are someone I’d like to follow and then I follow back with a quick note of acknowledgement. I try to comment on something from their profile. You know… break the ice, so to speak. Sometimes I get a response back, but more often than not, I don’t.

If you want to just count numbers and say you have XX number of people following you then go ahead and stalk away. But if you’re looking to actually build a strong social network you have to take the time to sit and visit. You have to. This is not a suggestion.

Here are a few tips to help you form a better network:

1.Choose your audience carefully. Decide what who you want to follow and pay attention to what they’re saying. Utilize RSS feeds, and watch what your people are talking about.

2.Participate in conversations. Engage your contacts in discussions other than your book. Let them know you’re interested in what they’re doing or what’s going on in their writing world. You don’t have to get into personal stuff if you don’t want to; you can keep it on a professional level, but by all means ENGAGE.

3.Ask lots of questions… and respond to their responses.
Here are a couple of links that you may find helpful:

Ben Heyman – Tactical Tips & Trick for Social Media
Social Media Today – 9 Twitter Tips and Tricks
Social Media Tips and Tricks: How to Build Fans and Followers

Do you have some tips that you'd like to share? Leave a comment!

Until next time,

Dee Ann