Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Author Interview - Jan Marquart

Thanks for checking in. Today, I'm sharing my blog with a special lady, Jan Marquart, CEO of About The Author Network. Jan has graciously agreed to guest post on my blog to offer her wisdom and insight into a writer's life, and to provide an opportunity for writers to tap into some valuable information.

Dee Ann: Jan, welcome.

Jan: Hi Dee Ann. Thanks for having me as your guest.

Dee Ann: Tell us a little about what it is you do.

Jan: Writing the visionary stories that live within takes strength of spirit. Honest writing is not for sissies. As CEO and Founder of About the Author Network, author of eleven books, and 93 daily journals, the writing process has been part of my life since 1972. I coach writers and promote their books on: My personal writing site is: where you can check out all my books and receive copies of my blog.

Today, I'd like to talk to writers about how to decide if their manuscript is ready.

Is Your Manuscript Ready?

Having been hired as an editor for emerging authors over the last two decades I can say that there are certain errors I repeatedly see. I’d like you to check over your manuscript in case these issues apply to what you have written.

1. The focus is fractured. This means that a book has two genres mixed up together. Example: a survival story has self-help tips mixed in with the author’s actual survival story. If your writing has vacillated between telling the story and giving advice, both sections will lose the reader’s focus. Ask yourself – do you want to tell your survival story or are you writing a survival manual? One focuses on you and the other on the reader.

2. Because some concepts are difficult to describe, a problem or experience is often written in language that doesn’t quite hit the mark. This happens when authors have experienced painful situations and can’t quite drop down to the true level of their suffering. Shallow writing will leave the reader frustrated.

3. Often manuscripts repeat the message of a book throughout chapters leaving the reader wondering where the book is heading. The message of the book should be a developed plot. This development is what keeps the reader on track as to why they are reading it in the first place. This problem usually occurs when authors are too impatient to slow down and develop their manuscripts.

There is often a good backstory to why these problems exist. Sometimes the writer is inexperienced in the craft of writing but even with that issue, an author can be inexperienced in craft but still give an accurate message. Readers will pick up if the theme of the book is cutting them short of the reward for reading. What is probably being exposed is that the author is fearful of slowing the process. This happens when the pain in the plot is something the writer wants to share but not deeply enough to re-enter their pain to do so. This choice will turn around to bite them quickly if a manuscript gets published without correction for these issues. Readers don’t like feeling cheated. If they are going to travel the journey with an author they want to be taken to the depths so they can enjoy the rewards of triumph.

When a manuscript is fractured the author has short-circuited it from one of healing to one of helping someone else. I’ve seen this many times. When language doesn’t quite hit the mark it could be that the author cannot think of the right word but words aren’t that complicated. Again, writers will often skirt the depth of pain because let’s face it, it is painful. But if the story is planned for publication readers will know that the author chickened out just when the meat of the story was about to fall into place.

Sometimes the meat of the story is avoided, especially in memoirs, because there is a fear that someone they love will be hurt and will respond by ending the relationship. This is a real life complication that often gets in the way of writing a fully developed and well-edited manuscript.

In my latest book, A Writer’s Wisdom, I address ten commonly asked questions by writers to help guide them not only to finish their writing projects, but to give them the understanding, patience, editing, and care that any work of art deserves. A book is a piece of creativity and it cannot be rushed, its meaning cannot be shortened or avoided, and the anger of loved ones cannot be allowed to control how the piece is written.

            The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.
                                  Ray Bradbury

  • Excerpt from A Writer's Wisdom:

Readers read to understand the parts of life they don’t understand. They want writers to be their heroes and they trust them to reveal the wisdom they are too afraid to learn for themselves. Readers want proof that there is a way out of conflict, to find love, to become successful. They yearn to understand their own grief, sadness, and suffering. Fantasy is wonderful but even fantasy has to have a true emotional content. If characters of fantasy do not resemble the truth about life no one will believe them.

Readers not only want to hold hands with the writer when they jump into the deep end, readers also want writers to throw them a life raft. They want to hear how life really is and how they can be saved from it. They do not want to hear lies about what they are living and trust me, readers know when writers are lying.

Write a salvation story.

Find writers who have written what you love to read and stay close to them. Read everything they have written.

Then write for yourself.
                                                                                                p. 103 A Writer’s Wisdom
For those who are interested in hearing Jan speak on writing and its power of healing, here is a link you can go to:

To become a member of About the Author Network you can fill out the Author/Writer Membership
Forms under Membership on the menu bar on the site: The cost
is still a low $19.97 a month and the site has many pages for authors and their books. There is a link on the menu bar titled Audios that viewers can listen to if they want to hear interviews Jan has facilitated with authors along with other information on writing. Jan's personal writing site is: On this site there are links to her books, blogs, and videos.
For anyone wanting to email Jan, they can do so at:

Other Links To Jan:

Jan, again, thank you so much for stopping by and offering some great advice to our readers. It's been a pleasure having you.

And thanks to all my readers for sharing with us today. Got questions? Ask away! Don't forget to leave a comment. We love it when you do. :)

Until next time, I wish you all the best success in your writing.

Dee Ann

Monday, January 13, 2014

Stina Lindenblatt - Interview

Welcome everyone. Please join me in welcoming Stina Lindenblatt, author of Tell Me When, a New Adult novel that is due to be released on January 20, 2014. Read the interview, then mark this eBook for purchase! You're going to love this story.

Here's the blurb:

Amber Scott Should be enjoying life as a college freshman. She should be pursuing her dream of becoming a veterinarian. She should be working hard to make sense of her precalculus math class.

She shouldn't be waking up her college roommate with screaming nightmares. She shouldn't be flashing back, reliving the three weeks of hell she barely survived last year. And she definitely shouldn't be spending time with sexy player Marcus Reid.

But engineering student Marcus is the only one keeping Amber from failing her math course, so she grudgingly lets him into her life. She never expects the king of hookups will share his painful past. Or that she'll tell him her secrets in return, opening up and trusting him in a way she thought she'd never be able to again.

When their fragile future together is threatened by a stalker Amber thought was locked away for good, Marcus is determined to protect her - and Amber is determined to protect Marcus...even if that means pushing him away.

Okay, now on to the interview. Stina, thanks so much for visiting today. It's been a pleasure getting to know a bit about you and your novel Tell Me When.

1. How did you choose the genre you write in?

I used to write Young Adult books, until a friend introduced me to Easy by Tammara Webber. It was my first introduction to New Adult and I loved it. Since my characters have always been seventeen years old, it wsn't a huge stretch to have a heroine who was a year older. And the best part was I could finally write a contemporary romance. I've always wanted to write romance, but it tended to be just an element in my YA stories.

2. Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

Tell Me When is about a college junior (Amber Scott) who was stalked and kidnapped during her senior year of high school. She was held captive for almost three weeks, and now struggles with nightmares and flashbacks from her ordeal. Her PTSD is getting in her way of achieving the grade she needs to pass her pre-calculus math class, which is a pre-requisite for veterinarian school. Enter Marcus Reid. He's the sexy engineering student who wants to add her to his list of conquests - and her only chance of passing her class. It's a story about finding hope and love following a traumatic experience.

3. Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences, or purely all imagination?

Mst of the story is purely imaginary (with a hardy dose of inspiration from Criminal Minds), but it was also inspired by a real life experience. I had to deal with a stalker while in university. It was nothing like what Amber experienced, but it was enough to freak me out.

4. What was your favorite part to write, and why?

This would be the sex scene between Amber and Marcus. It was challenging to write because Amber had been raped while she was held captive (prior to the start of the book). It's not enough to have a good looking guy who happens to rock in the kissing department, and then expect her to be instantly over what happened to her. That doesn't happen in real life and it shouldn't happen in fiction. Add to this is the knowledge that Marcus knows what happened to Amber, and the result is one intense scene where they make love and connect at an entirely new level.

5. How did you come up with the title?

Tell Me When comes from a line in the novel. Things are getting steamy between Amber and Marcus, and he tells her to let him know when she wants to stop. The novel had been titled something else originally, but Carina wanted me to change it. I sent them a list of potential titles and they loved the meaning behind Tell Me When.

What project are you working on now?

I'm working on the sequel to Tell Me When, which is tentatively titled Let Me Know. Tell Me When is a standalone novel, but there were a few things that I was unable to tie up in the book, and that led to the sequel.

I'm also working on a New Adult contemporary romance that was inspired by my experiences in Finland while I was in university. That's all I can say about it for now.

7. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Don't expect your first novel to be publishable. By the time most debut authors are published, they have written at least one other book prior. In many cases, they've written several. It takes a while to learn the craft. There's nothing shameful about writing several books before you're published either traditionally or self-published.

8. What would you way is an interesting writing quirk of yours?

When I get stuck with my story or characterizations, I go for a run or a walk. That happened during Tell Me When. My editor wanted me to make one character more dimensional. I didn't know what to do, so I went for a long walk and came up with the solution. Fortunately I had my iPod Touch with me so I was able to jot down my ideas. This is harder to do while running. It once took me two days to scrub the ink off my legs after I tried writing the notes on my calves. Yeah, not the brightest of ideas during short season.

9. Did you find writing any particular part of the book challenging as far as being emotionally or psychologically stressful?

The topic alone made for one emotionally tough story to write, but not just because of what happened to Amber. Marcus's back story is also gut wrenching. I cried every time I edited one particular scene. It was the same scene that caused my editor to tear up when she first read the book.

10. What motivates you to write?

I love writing fiction, especially novels. My characters don't seem to want to shut up. The other thing that motivates me to write is the thought that my stories might make a difference in someone's life in one way or another. That's my biggest aspiration.

Well, that about wraps it up. It's been an absolute pleasure meeting you, Stina, and I hope to be able to interview you again for your next novel. Keep 'em coming!

Tell Me When can be purchased at Amazon and at Barnes & Noble. Invest the few bucks for the eBook. You'll be glad you did. Maybe Stina will inspire you to write your next New Adult novel.

Don't forget to leave a comment and let Stina know what you thought of the interview. She loves to hear from you.

Until next time, I wish you the best in your writing success.

Dee Ann

Thursday, January 2, 2014

I've Been Profiled!

First, HAPPY NEW YEAR. I truly hope its one of the best years of your life with success, happiness, joy, and love.

I'm back on the character development thing again. In my opinion, you can't have characters with too much depth. I've seen plenty with not enough depth, but never have I found one with too much. I love to read a book where I fall for the characters right away. Good or bad, I have to feel something for them, and the more I feel, the better and smoother the story is for me. How about you? Do you think you're characters have enough depth?

I've recently found myself hooked on a television show called Once Upon A Time on ABC. Though I don't write fantasy, this show is fantastic in building character depth. Each character has to show at least four different sides to themselves. They push the limits of their acting abilities. My favorite villain is Mr. Gold (in our current day period) who also plays Rumplestiltskin in the fantasy world. If you haven't seen an episode of this show, I wholeheartedly urge you to do so. If not for the storyline (which I do love) then for the characters. You can learn so much from them.

Let's take one in particular. How about the villain? We can start by profiling him. I happen to like Roger Depue's book Between Good and Evil. Okay, so now you have to ask yourself some very important questions, such as:

* Male or female?
* Age
* Sex
* Occupation & type of employment
* Educational level
* Social Support System
* Does he act impulsively or is he more of an organized predator?
* Criminally sophisticated, intelligent, or may is addicted to sexual fantasies?

It is very important for you to at least understand the makings of a criminal in order to be able to develop a believable and engaging villain. There's another good book with a chapter or two on this subject by Rachel Ballon, Ph.D called Breathing Life Into Your Characters. It can be a bit redundant at times, but all in all, a good and helpful read. In it, she explains the difference between sociopaths and psychopaths - something you should know. For instance, a sociopath is a person who lacks conscience and cares only for herself at the expense of others. The sociopath usually isn't a killer, much as the psychopath is.

So how do you find reasons for your villain's behavior? You must search their past to know their present. Become so familiar with them, their childhood, parents, siblings, traumas, delights - anything that made that person who they are today - that you know them better than their own parents would. Once you truly know this person, you can then build a character around him. You'll find you'll much more than you will put in the book, and that's okay. It's perfect, actually.

Remember, not all villains are born that way. People are capable of becoming villains under the right circumstances. Build circumstance into your villains life. Perhaps she starts out a loving, caring wife and mother, but then her husband cheats on her with her best friend and they run away with her only child promising her that she will never see the child or him again. Many a person - man or woman - has lost their head over a broken heart. There are other crises such as death, divorce, financial ruin, or undue stress. The more an individual feels out of control, the more desperate they become. Desperation can also create a villain.

This is a subject I've had some fun with and am still having fun with. I'm sure I'll be adding more to this a bit later, but for now this is some good info for you to chew on.

I've been told by many of my readers that they absolutely love to hate my villain Obasanji in my novel The Consequential Element. Here's a character that was made into a villain by the circumstances of his life. His village in the Congo was raided when he was a boy, his father killed, forced to kill his own mother, and then forced to become a rebel soldier at the age of 12. His heart turned black and raping and killing became second nature to him. Until he met Danielle Montgomery. He becomes torn and the reader becomes torn with him.

Remember, sometimes the difference between a villain and a hero can be a very fine line.

Have you had any experience with profiling? Are you willing to share some of your best points with us? Or perhaps you'd agree to allow me to interview you here on my blog! That would be great. Leave your comments below. I look forward to them. :)

Until next time,

Dee Ann