Relaxing with a book takes on a whole new meaning with these chairs!
Today I’m very excited to introduce Laura Best! We’ve been writing friends since long before my first book released, and I’m a huge fan of her blog posts.
Without further ado, here’s Laura…
I was one of those kids who felt an immediate connection to the written word. At the ripe old age of ten I began writing plays and enlisting the help of my school friends to act out the parts. We’d go around to some of the classes in our elementary school to perform the plays. It was great fun.
My love of writing followed me throughout my school years and many of my teachers would praise my work. But then I got married and started a family, and for a long time I forgot how much I loved expressing myself through writing. While motherhood certainly has its rewards it can also become all-consuming if we let it. A few years after my third child was born I realized there was something missing from my life. One day, it was as if a light bulb went off and I suddenly remembered how much I loved writing. I knew then what was missing.
From the time I first started writing I wanted to write my mother’s story. I grew up hearing her stories about the years she attended the school for the blind and thought it would make an interesting novel. But fictionalizing fact isn’t as easy as I thought it would be and after several failed attempts I gave up on the idea. Realizing that I had much to learn about writing, I then tried my hand at short stories. But I really had no clue about writing or even how to submit my work for publication. I went through a period of trial and error. I purchased a few books on writing that were very helpful and I learned one of the most valuable lessons a beginning writer can learn—show don’t tell. Living in such a rural area I knew nothing of writing groups or workshops for writers, and I certainly didn’t know any other writers. The writing world felt very illusive to me, one I wasn’t sure I’d ever belong to. Yet still I hoped.
Looking back, I realize how naïve I was. But they say ignorance is bliss and so I kept on writing and sending my stories out to literary magazines, collection rejection slips by the dozens. Acceptance finally came in 1993. The Amethyst Review, a literary magazine right here in Nova Scotia wanted to publish the short story I’d submitted. My hard work was finally paying off.
But finding that first acceptance didn’t make it any easier to find markets for all the stories I was writing. More rejections came in the years ahead and I vowed to quit writing several times. Each time I quit, a few days would pass and an idea would come to me. My curiosity would send me anxiously back to the page. More rejections followed but with those rejections there came more and more acceptances. Eventually, my work became published in over forty literary magazines and anthologies across Canada.
All the while I was writing and submitting to literary magazines I still had a dream of writing a novel one day. The idea for my first published novel began with a newspaper article I clipped from the daily paper. I kept the article, thinking it would one day make a good scene in a story. And I was right. One day I came across the article and knew the time was right to start writing this story. The article formed the barebones of Bitter, Sweet, a historic young adult novel about a family forced to take drastic steps in order to stay together. I set the story here in Nova Scotia. The story, quite simply, wrote itself.
I sent the manuscript out to a few publishers, one of them being Nimbus Publishing here in Nova Scotia and they ended up publishing it in 2009. It was even short listed for the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People the year after it was published.
With the publication of my first novel I put my short story writing aside and concentrated on writing novels. I started several projects during this time. But then one day, Cammie Deveau, a spunky ten-year-old, started telling me her story, and what a story it was. I set aside my other work and decided I’d better listen to what she had to say. She can be quite persuasive! Imagine my surprise when I discovered that she was visually impaired, like my mum. Was this the story I wanted to write way back in the very beginning? I wasn’t sure in the beginning.
While the novel I ended up with didn’t resemble my mother’s story (other than the main character’s visual impairment) I realized that sometimes the story we want to write doesn’t end up being the story that actually gets written. Cammie became the main character in my second novel, Flying With a Broken Wing, published in 2013.
Over time, I’ve learned to listen to what a story has to tell me. I like to allow my characters the freedom to tell their own story in their own way. Dreams come to fruition in their own time. It takes hard work and determination to get there and the mindset to believe you can do it, because you can.
Cammie Deveau has begun life with a few strikes against her. She’s visually impaired, she was abandoned by her mother at birth, her father was a casualty of the Second World War and, if all that isn’t enough, she’s being raised by her bootlegging aunt. No wonder she dreams of starting a brand-new life.
When Cammie learns about a school for blind and visually impaired children, she becomes convinced that a new life is waiting for her in Halifax, but how will she ever convince her aunt to let her go? With the help of her best friend, she devises a plan to blow up the local moonshiner’s still. But Cammie has not managed to change her luck, and things get worse than she ever imagined.
Laura Best has lived in the small community of East Dalhousie her entire life. Author of the award nominated Bitter, Sweet she has been published in literary magazines across Canada, including the Antigonish Review, Grain, and Room. In 2003, her short story Alexander the Great was nominated for the Journey Prize.
Today I’m featuring fellow Clean Reads (formerly known as Astraea Press) author, Helen Pollard. She’s been here before, sharing her Path to Publication story, and it’s a great one about overcome obstacles.
She’s since released another book, Holding Back, and I’m happy to help spread the word!
Laura Matheson is a natural at avoiding romance, so when she is drawn to mystery guest Daniel Stone while helping out at her friends’ hotel in Portugal, she assumes all she needs is a little extra willpower.
Daniel is at the hotel on business. The demands of work and a manipulative ex-girlfriend mean he doesn’t have the time or energy for romance, but Laura is a distraction he finds hard to ignore.
As they negotiate a minefield of misunderstandings and mutual attraction, will they both continue to hold back? Or will they finally allow love into their lives?
Helen Pollard writes contemporary romance with old-fashioned heart. She believes there will always be a place for romantic fiction, no matter how fast-paced and cynical the world becomes. Readers still want that feel-good factor – to escape from their own world for a while and see how a budding romance can blossom and overcome adversity to develop into love … and we all need a little love, right?
A Yorkshire lass, Helen is married, with two teenagers and a psychotic cat. When she’s not working or writing, it goes without saying that she loves to read. She also enjoys a good coffee in a quiet bookshop, and appreciates the company of family and close friends.
Find Helen at:
Website & Blog: http://helenpollardwrites.wordpress.com
Excerpt from Chapter Two:
Laura’s mind raced as her footsteps slowed. What on earth was he doing here? The unlikely hope he might be passing by—perhaps he’d called in for directions to somewhere else?—was immediately scotched as he lifted his luggage from the car. Reminded of their encounters at the airport, she could have squirmed with embarrassment at how out of character she’d acted, making mistakes and being so snappy about them.
Well, he wouldn’t see her like that again. If Daniel Stone was a guest here—and it seemed there was no escaping from it—then she must make him welcome. For goodness’ sake, she was used to dealing with awkward situations every day at school!
He turned at the sound of her footsteps. Forcing a calmness into her voice that didn’t extend to her stomach, she stepped forward and held out her hand.
“Mr. Stone? Welcome to the Quinta Maria.”
Closing the car, he straightened up to his full six-foot-something and reached out to shake hands. For one brief, glorious moment, Laura thought he might not recognise her now that she was spruced up a little, but any hope of that disappeared as his eyes narrowed in sudden recognition and his hand dropped to his side as though it had been burned.
“It seems you have the advantage over me, knowing my name,” he said. “Since you’re determined to turn up like a bad penny wherever I go, perhaps you could enlighten me with yours?”
Incensed, Laura bit back a response. They were no longer on neutral ground, and as his host, she could hardly give him a piece of her mind.
“I’m Laura Matheson,” she replied as evenly as she could. “If you’ll excuse me, I’ll get your key and then I’ll show you around.”
Disappearing into reception before he could find further fault with her, she crossed to the desk and raked her tired eyes over the reservations spreadsheet with a growing sense of disbelief. Not only was Daniel Stone booked in for a full fortnight, but he’d been allocated the room next to hers. Even Paulo and Rachel were unknowingly conspiring against her!
“You’re in room eleven,” she announced, sensing his presence in the doorway. “Your other party checked in earlier. Will you require a second key?”
“My other party?”
Something in his tone made her glance up. She recognised the travel weariness in his stance, but his face showed only bewilderment.
“Yes.” She squinted at the computer screen again. “Miss Hartman.”
His eyes froze to a dangerous dark blue. “Natalie Hartman?”
“That’s right,” she confirmed, double-checking the name. “Is there a problem?”
“What time did she check in?” His mouth was a hard, thin line.
She frowned. “I’m sorry, I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?” There was incredulity in his voice, along with displeasure and a hint at incompetence on her part.
Laura didn’t like it, nor was she going to take it. “I don’t know because I wasn’t here in reception when she checked in. As you’re aware, I only arrived here a short while ago myself. I …” She stopped. There was no need for her to explain herself. Frankly, she couldn’t understand why he didn’t just go and talk to his companion. After all, they were sharing a double room.
Melanie Snitker stopped by to share her Path to Publication story. Enjoy!
I want to send a big thank you to Christi for giving me the opportunity to share my path to publication.
When I was a child, there were three things I yearned for: I wanted to be a stay at home mom to my kids when I grew up, I wanted to write and see what I wrote published, and I wanted to be a marine biologist and swim with the sharks.
Since I was too young to SCUBA dive, I had to settle for checking out every book I on sharks that I could find at the library. Meanwhile, I created episodes of Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers, using images from coloring books to illustrate my stories. Later, I wrote scripts for episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I submitted both of them — on pages created with a typewriter. Of course they were returned, but there was the excitement of knowing that someone there had held my manuscripts in their hands.
I wrote a lot through my childhood. I created a science fiction world and wrote my first novel (approximately 70,000 words) by the time I finished high school. At that time, I wrote everything in notebooks and I still have most of them.
I sent stories out to a lot of different magazines and kept every single rejection letter I got. Eventually, I did get one short story published in a tiny little magazine. I doubt more than five people read it, but it encouraged me to keep going.
When I started college, my writing fell to the background. I took one creative writing course, but most of my time was spent working through classes to obtain my BS in life science with a focus on marine biology. I even got the opportunity to take SCUBA diving lessons. Diving off the Oregon coast was amazing, but it made me realize something — swimming with the sharks wasn’t going to be for me. I enjoyed everything related to marine biology and I still feel a pull to the ocean and its creatures, even if I don’t feel the need to dive with them anymore.
I married my best friend at the end of our senior year of college. After we graduated, I wrote off and on for nine months before I started working for a local newspaper. I met a lot of wonderful people there and enjoyed the work. But I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wrote here and there, saving all of my partial stories and ideas as I went.
When our first child was born, I quit my job and became the stay at home mom I’d always wanted to be. It was a dream come true and while life was hectic at times, I loved the time with our son. I don’t think I did any writing that first couple of years or so, even though there were times ideas would go through my head. Some I jotted down. We welcomed our second child when our son was five.
Throughout this time, my husband continued to encourage me to write and would often remind me to do so. I never really felt like I had much time. I would go through spurts where I would write regularly for a week or two and then something would change and I wouldn’t write for months again.
When our daughter was two, I finally began writing more and I realized just how much I missed it. Not only that, but it served as a creative outlet that I desperately needed. At the beginning of 2014, I decided to make the commitment to finish one of my many storylines. I knew several people who published independently and my husband encouraged me to look into the details more and go that route myself.
I ran into an online group that seemed like the perfect fit and I joined them. This amazing group of authors all wrote clean books like I did and were on the independent publishing journey. They helped keep me going when I wanted to give up and they offered a lot of advice. Most of all, seeing their stories and what they were going through reminded me not to give up.
I published my first book, Calming the Storm, in August 2014. This was a book that had been on my heart since college. I had written several different versions of the beginning, it had gone through many different title changes. But it had always remained unfinished. The day I got the last of that book on paper was the day I finally felt like I could do this.
I just published my third book and I’m nearly halfway through writing my fourth. This latest book I’m writing is a story line that I had jotted down years ago and has been waiting for its turn to be finished and polished up.
For me, writing has been such a roller coaster of a journey. One of the biggest sources of discouragement as I have gone through this life-long process is when I would read that a writer needs to write a certain number of words every day. There were many times in my life where that just wasn’t feasible and it made me feel like I wasn’t a “real” writer.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned and that I like to share with other struggling writers, it’s that you write when you get the chance to do so. It might be a paragraph, it might be a chapter. But you’ll be glad you did. Those ideas and bits of story will eventually find their way to where they belong — just like we as writers will as well.
About the Book:
Cancer. That one word has rocked Lexi Chandler’s life to the core. Her focus has always been to help others. She loves being a nurse and enjoys spending time with her family. Things had been going according to plan. Now she’s struggling to pick up the pieces and make sense of the changes in her life.
Lance Davenport has cared for Lexi since they were kids. Between their age difference and bad timing, he’s turned burying his feelings into an art. Now, watching Lexi battle with cancer has made him realize just how much he’s missed. He doesn’t know what their future holds, but he’s determined to not waste another minute.
The people closest to Lexi pull together as she tries to navigate her way down a path none of them ever dreamed she’d have to travel.
Finding Hope is available on Kindle and in paperback
Other books by Melanie:
Police Officer Tuck Chandler is good at his job. He’s also good at holding women at arm’s length. Jilted by his fiancée for his dedication to his job, he’s not about to open himself up to hurt like that again.
Laurie Blake is a struggling photographer. After growing up in a wealthy family, she’s determined to make it on her own, even if it means doing it the hard way.
When Tuck is assigned to a puzzling burglary involving Laurie’s fledgling photography business, he goes into it with his usual perseverance. He wants to help her – if she’ll let him. As the case unfolds and the mystery deepens, another question arises.
Will the past get in the way of their future?
A marriage of convenience isn’t exactly what Rachel Peters had in mind.
What else can she do if she wants to raise her young niece, and give her a more stable home than she and her sister grew up in? Rachel is at risk of losing custody of her last blood relative, and she needs to prove she can provide for her niece and raise her in a nurturing environment.
Professor Brandon Barlow is invested in his college students’ lives, wanting to ensure their success. When it is clear that Rachel is struggling, he takes a personal interest in trying to help her. But can he keep his heart from getting involved in the process?
Brandon reaches out to Rachel as he tries to break through the walls she has built up over the years. With love and patience, Brandon hopes to help Rachel realize that, even when she experiences storms in her life, she isn’t always alone.
Available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble
I’ve had my eye on Scrivener for the past year, and have read countless articles about the program. Bottom line, I really want to try it but haven’t yet made the final jump to purchase it.
If you’re considering using the program, here is a very informative article…
What about you? Do you use a program to organize your writing?
The slush pile is a place where books sit patiently, waiting to be discovered, while their authors sit likely not-so-patiently at home, waiting to get “the call”.
But what about when an author gives up on their book, and throws it out?
Check out this list of 5 Famous Books Saved from the Dumpster
Hello everyone! Today I’m featuring the Path to Publication story of fellow Clean Reads author, Jane McGarry…
My journey was not the typical “major in English, then attain an MFA” route many writers take. In fact, if someone had told me a decade ago I would now be a published author, I would never have believed it.
Growing up, I loved to read and the passion only increased with age. While I have a soft spot for the classics, I explored just about every genre of fiction I could get my hands on. There was something about the themes in Young Adult books—the countless possibilities of life at this age—that spoke to me. The more YA I read, the more ideas for stories I had.
The problem was I wasn’t a writer. My whole life, I had made up stories, but always kept them to myself. While reading was encouraged in my home, the arts were not mentioned as a possible career path. No one ever told me I couldn’t pursue a career as a writer, but the obvious undertone was one could not actually make a living in any artistic endeavor. As expected, I majored in business, and upon graduating from college, I worked in the pharmaceutical industry for a decade. My job was interesting and allowed me many wonderful opportunities, but I cannot honestly say I was passionate about it.
When my first son was born, I left work to become a full-time mom. A few years later, son number two came along. While I was passionate about this job, it was exhausting on every level. In the rare quiet moments I found, writing became an escape. Never did I feel as authentic as when I was putting words on paper. The idea for Not Every Girl was formed and I would jot down notes on random scraps, napkins, whatever I could find. Still, the thought of sitting down to pen a full novel seemed too overwhelming, especially while chasing after two kids all day long.
But then, I had a milestone birthday and did an inventory of my life to that point. Finally, I asked myself the questions I should have asked way back when—Why not give it a try? What is the worst that could happen? And so, I wrote and wrote some more, squeezing it in at naptime, in the car at school pick-up, at sports practice, and after bedtime. If I had a free minute, I used it to write. Then miraculously one day, it was finished—a horrible mess of a first draft, but hey, finished nonetheless. While I worked on editing the manuscript, I learned everything I could about the publishing industry. My revisions and research took me literally over a year to complete, but by the time the story was ready, I felt prepared to send it out into the world.
Thus began the dreaded cycle of query, rejection, revision, repeat—and believe me there was a whole lot of rejection. But, the advice I constantly came across was to not give up, to believe in your work and eventually the right fit would present itself. When I discovered Clean Reads (formerly Astraea Press), I was impressed with their philosophy. So once again, I sent out a query. A few weeks later I was thrilled to be offered a contract and I was on my way. Despite the detours and bumps in the road, I am both humbled and grateful my path has led here. Now, I look forward to the journey that awaits.
She is going through with it anyway, of course. After all, it is the chance of a lifetime. The unreasonable rules of others should not stand in her way.
In her small kingdom of Stewartsland, Olivia trains with the squires and harbors a secret dream. She longs to become a knight under the command of the Master-of–Arms, who just happens to be her father. He has indulged her passion so far, but they both know a simple fact – girls may not attain knighthood. Dismayed by the constant discouragement of her ambitions, she makes an impetuous decision to disguise herself as a boy in order to sneak on a mission. The consequences are not at all what she anticipated.
When her deception is revealed, she is sent home in disgrace; however, an unexpected turn of events puts her at the center of a dangerous plot against the King. The ensuing adventure finds her grappling with mercenaries and outlaws, yet these pale in comparison to her newly awakened emotions. She finds not only her life at risk, but also her heart, when the aloof Prince Liam begins to affect her in ways she never thought possible. In the end, it is her courage and unique spirit which must guide her through the challenges she encounters both physical and emotional.
About Jane: Reading was always a big part of Jane’s life. Over the years, creating stories developed out of this love. Finally, she decided to try her hand at writing a novel and that was when Not Every Girl was conceived.
She lives in New Jersey in a house full of boys, including one over-indulged cat. When she is not running around with her family or writing, she can be found curled up with a good book and said cat. It is her belief that a good book, a loyal pet and anything made of chocolate can brighten just about any day.
You can visit her online at: www.janemcgarrybooks.com
Connect with Jane:
You Tube Book Trailer: