Interview with Fireweed author: Terry Montague

Fireweed new coverFireweed by Terry Montague is an intriguing and poignant WWII saga from the German citizen point of view. Terry pulls the reader into Lisel’s heart and then lets you see, smell, hear, feel and touch her world. I wanted to reach out and give Lisel a hug.

Margaret: Why do you write?

Terry: Because I have so many questions about life that, I think, I’m always trying to work those out in my mind.  Plus I’ve got lots of stories bubbling around in there and writing is the most effective way to get them out!

I’ve always been a person of maximum curiosity.  My parents tell me my first word wasn’t “Mama” it was an entire sentence, accompanied by a pointing, pudgy finger, “What’s that?”

I love to turn over rocks and say, “Look what we have here.”

Margaret:  Are the goals different for other projects?

Terry:  Yes.  For instance, when I was writing for Meridian Magazine, the Proctors wanted stories that were uplifting and inspiring stories about facing life’s trials.  Then, a couple of years ago, I wrote a piece of fiction that was intended to let women know they could laugh at the perplexing things in life.  I entered it in a humor competition and won a first place. Fireweed and Mine Angels Round About were “Look what we have here,” projects.

Margaret: What genre are your books and who is your target audience?

Terry:  Historical and Women’s Fiction for teen-agers and older.  I’d like to do something with Mystery but my Mystery skills aren’t advanced enough, yet.

Margaret:  Was there a particular person or event that inspired you to write this story?

Terry:  Yes.  As I was thinking about finding a new and intriguing project when I met Norman Grant Seibold who was then one of our County Commissioners.  His experiences as a missionary in Nazi Germany inspired me to research the West German Mission evacuation of 1939.  Over a five-year period, I tracked down nearly sixty of the almost eighty missionaries involved in that dramatic and historically significant incident.

Often, I traveled to a former missionary’s home to find he had family members, some of them German, sitting in on the interview.  If, during the interview, the missionary had to retrieve a journal or set of letters from another room, his German family members would say to me, “Now let me tell you what happened to me.”

When my research was as complete as I could make it, we released it as a piece of primary resource historical non-fiction, titled Mine Angels Round About.   Then, because I knew I needed to tell another part of the story, one from the German point of view, I began writing Fireweed. 

Margaret: Intriguing. Tell us about the heroine in your book.

Terry:  I like to use a main character who seems the weakest or has the least power in her situation then I toughen her up by throwing some rocks at her so that, eventually, she not only has the most power but can sling rocks back.

Margaret: Tell us about the villain. Is it a person, thing, or circumstance?

Terry: All three.  I think conflict should come from all different directions.  Plus, the villain in one part of the story might serve another purpose in another part. So the villain can change or the circumstance can change.  That’s the way it is in mortal life.  Everything changes.  I like it that way.

Margaret:  How do you discover the characteristics of your characters?

Terry:  Ha!  I didn’t discover them.  I assigned them.  I know, that sounds a bit backward but I always go at a story from setting and circumstance first.  Then, I work on what kind of character would best suit what I want to say.  I let the character have her say, but I’m not the kind of writer who lets the characters take over the story.

Margaret:  Who was the first person you told when you found out your book was being published?

Terry:  My Husband, Quinn.

Margaret:  Thanks for visiting with me Terry. Reading Fireweed reminds me of my mother’s and grandmother’s stories from Holland in WWII. Some of them are recorded in my mother’s book: Never Againby Martha Petronella van der Wal Larsen.

Fireweed is written for an LDS audience and will be enjoyed by Dean Hughes and Sandra Grey fans, as well as women’s fiction lovers and WWII enthusiasts.

Interview with Connie Flynn – Author of Know When to Run

KnnowWhentoRunCoverKnow When to Run by Connie Flynn begins with excitement and moves forward with exciting twists and turns. The characters are well developed and descriptions are so real you feel the tension and smell the fear. This witty and hot romantic suspense is action packed and erupts with emotion.

Connie Flynn is a member of Romance Writers of America and Sisters in Crime and Thriller International, Connie is active in several local chapters. She also teaches independent workshops and gives presentations on novel writing and creativity.

Know When to Run Teaser: She woke up one morning on a Mississippi riverboat casino with a huge headache and a huge case of amnesia. With the help of new friends she rebuilt her life. Now, nearly two years later, a tall dark man with killer good looks comes after her. A bounty hunter, who claims she killed her father then ran out on her bail. She says he’s got the wrong woman. He says she’s guilty as sin. One of them is right . . .

Suddenly so many people are after her, she can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys. But one thing she can do is KNOW WHEN TO RUN.

Connie was kind enough to give me an interview:

Margaret: What inspired you to write Ky’s character with amnesia?

Connie: The writing of this novel was about three years from conception to publication and I honestly can’t remember why I chose amnesia. But I’m attracted to that kind of plot because it’s almost like a second chance . . . and in this case, for Ky, it truly was a second chance to become a good person. Plus, when memory isn’t reliable, neither is the person, which made trust much more difficult to achieve and the mystery much more difficult to solve.

Margaret: How do you discover the characteristics of your characters? Please elaborate on one or two of those.

Connie: I used to do complicated charts and character traits until I found they got in the way of the writing. Now I always start with what the focal characters want to get or avoid, and why they want it because I’ve discovered these answers provide so much meaty information. The next thing I do is to torment my characters all the way through the book until the ultimate prize is won (or lost).

Margaret: What is your favorite Genre to write and why?

Connie: Most of my books are cross-genre. I adore romance for the emotional edge it gives a story, but suspense and thrillers keep me on my mental toes, especially when the love interest is strong. And fantasy, well, I can throw away the molds when I write fantasy, but I also pull in suspense and a love interest. So I guess I’m just not a purist so I tend to define my story genre by which plot line is dominant.

Margaret: There are multiple sleaze balls in this story, which was the hardest to write and why? Who was the easiest to write and why?

Connie: Hard to say. I just love my sleaze balls. They add so much texture to a story and the biggest challenge in writing them is to avoid making them stick figures and stereotypes. I’d say that Les Broder was hard to keep real, I kept wanting to give him every Snidely Whiplash trait in the book. Gabe’s brother-in-law, Hal, was the easiest because we all know guys like him. No moral center and no driving purpose, he just hopes things will fall his way if only he can catch a break. Like many men of that kind he is his own worst enemy.

Margaret: When can we expect to find book #2 in this series on the shelf?

Connie: KNOW WHEN TO HIDE, also revolving around the riverboat, will star Ivy, Gabe’s girl Friday who would be office manager if not for Hal. It’s currently in the conception stage with a villain and a love interest chosen. It will be another financial thriller so it’s the twists and turns that I’m working on now. My plan is to launch the paperback version by Christmas.

Margaret: Thanks for sharing. I am looking forward to reading KNOW WHEN TO HIDE.

 

 

Martha Larsen Signs Never Again

NeverAgain_FCoverauthor photoMartha Petronella van der Wal Larsen signs Never Again this Saturday, December 13th at the 4th Annual Santa Claus and Tree Festival in Joseph City, Arizona.  Never Again is an inspirational collection of shorts stories about Martha’s true experiences as a young girl during World War II in Hilversum, The Netherlands.

Margaret: What is your main reason for writing Never Again?

Martha: To make people aware of some of the atrocities that took place during WWII. I have noticed as a substitute teacher that recently the history books play down or don’t even mention the Holocaust. There are people out there that say it never happened. That is not true. We should never forget, never allow such madness to happen ever again.

Margaret: Is there a story that didn’t get included you would like to share now?

Martha: One Dark Scary Night a bunch of the neighborhood kids got together and went to the harbor after dark. [Read more…]

Interview with Kaylee Baldwin, Author of Six Days of Christmas

Six Days of ChristmasSix Days of Christmas: A Holiday Romance Novella is a wonderful Christmas story recently released by WUFC Author Kaylee Baldwin. When Natalie goes home with her best friend for Christmas, she expects plenty of quiet time to work on a winning ad so she can turn her dream internship into her dream job. Instead, she gets time-consuming Christmas festivities, a house full of children who seem to be multiplying, and Jimmy, her best friend’s brother—someone who makes her question everything she’s always thought she wanted.

Margaret: What inspired you to write about relationship break-ups in your story?

Kaylee: Christmas is the perfect day to believe that miracles can happen… even if it’s believing in something that seems impossible. Natalie’s story is a story about change. She’s the kind of person who has always known what she’s wanted in life, and she will work hard to make those dreams come true. In the beginning, she has everything she thinks she wants: the perfect boyfriend, the perfect internship, and a chance at the perfect job. But when she goes to her roommate’s family’s house for Christmas, everything starts to fall apart, and she has to learn what she REALLY wants in life.

Margaret: I loved the boisterous characters in Six Days of Christmas. Are their personality traits modeled from people you know?

Kaylee: Usually my characters have traits from people I know. Jimmy is a huge tease, and I took a lot of his personality traits from my husband and brothers-in-law. My husband’s family is the kind that if you have an embarrassing moment, they will remind you of it until you die. I absolutely love them, and their dynamic, and I thought they would be the perfect match for someone like Natalie, who needs to loosen up a bit.

Stan (the Christmas-crazy father in the story) isn’t modeled off of anyone specific, but he’s one of my favorite characters I’ve ever written. Quirky and *this* close to crazy, but he is passionate about Christmas and his family (and mini figurines of Santa.)

Margaret: Tell us about the different holiday traditions you wrote about in the novella . . . are they from experiences you’ve had or did you research them out?

Kaylee: The traditions! I wish my family did these. I knew I wanted to write a story about a girl who discovers the spirit of Christmas (and falls in love) but I needed something more. Then one day, my husband and I were talking and he started telling me about a Christmas tradition in Mexico and it was a major “ah ha!” moment. I got online and spent weeks researching how different countries celebrate Christmas. It was fascinating! I could only choose six, though, and from there my story came together easier than any story I’ve ever written.

Margaret: That’s wonderful and sounds fun. What are you writing now? When might we expect to see it on the shelf.

Kaylee: Right now I am working on a short romantic story for the California Dreamin’ Timeless Romance Anthology collection that will be out in April.

Margaret: Thank you for visiting today. I look forward to reading the California Dreamin’ Timeless Romance Anthology next spring.

Review of Loving Lucianna with author Interview

LovingLucianna-coverJoyce DiPastena released the first novel in her new Hearts in Autumn Romance series – an ageless tender love story – Loving Lucianna. Serafino is a perfectly despicable villain, Sir Balduin is a wonderful hero and the reader will love Lucianna with all her charms and faults. Joyce DiPastena creates her novel with such authenticity it transports the reader into the Medieval era.

Sir Balduin de Soler gave up long ago on love. He never had the means to support a wife until an unexpected advancement in his fifties allows him to reassess his future just as the lovely Lucianna enters his life.

Lucianna Fabio harbors a secret, painful memory from her past that has kept her unwed, as well. Now in her forties, she thought herself too old to marry until she meets Sir Balduin. Now suddenly their lonely autumn lives feel very much like spring again . . . until Lucianna’s brother appears without warning and threatens to revive the secret that will destroy Lucianna’s second chance at love.

Margaret: Congratulations on delivering another brilliant medieval romance. The average age for heroines in historical romance novels I’ve read tends to be late teens through mid-twenties. Please discuss your reasons for creating older, more mature characters for your Autumn Romance series.

Joyce: 

 Thank you for reviewing Loving Lucianna, Margaret. I’m so happy that you enjoyed it! Actually, I received the inspiration following a group promotional event I participated in in a Facebook group last spring. The group decided to plan a similar promo event for the fall of 2014 and challenged us all to write an autumn-themed story that we could publish and promote around that time. So I started thinking about what kind of story I could write that would have an autumn-theme, and the idea simply popped into my head to write a romance for an older couple “in the autumn of their years.” I wasn’t sure where to start at first, but then I remembered the character of Lucianna from my medieval romance, Illuminations of the Heart. I had described Lucianna in that book as being in her forties with hair that was beginning to turn gray, and had included a small subplot about her falling in love with a “gray haired knight” named Sir Balduin. They just seemed the perfect couple to write a full-fledged romance for! So that was the origin of Loving Lucianna. And I enjoyed the concept so much, that I decided to make it the first in a “Hearts in Autumn” romance series about older couples who fall in love.

I do want to stress that Loving Lucianna is a totally stand alone novel. It is absolutely not necessary to read Illuminations of the Heart first to enjoy that Loving Lucianna!

Margaret:  I agree that Loving Lucianna can be thoroughly enjoyed without reading Illuminations of the Heart. But having read Illuminations of the Heart some time ago, I am now looking forward to re-reading the story with a new perspective.  Are there any particular individuals in real life who served as models for your fiction?

Joyce: Not that I’m consciously aware of. It helps, of course, that I’m in my 50’s now, so writing about older couples feels compatible with where I am in my life. I can certainly write older couples with greater authenticity now than I could have if I’d thought the idea up in my 20’s or 30’s. 

Margaret: An older audience will appreciate your sensitivity to the sensibilities of those of us in the twilight of our lives. What will be the title of the next book in the Autumn Romance series and when do you anticipate it will be on the shelves?

Joyce: I don’t have a title yet. I do have a kernel of an idea for the hero and heroine and their plotline. I haven’t started writing it yet, so we’ll see if it pans out. My goal is to bring a new Hearts in Autumn romance out each fall. They will probably be somewhat shorter books, like Loving Lucianna, because I will still be working on my longer romances (with younger couples) and I’m a slow writer, so to do both, I’ll have to keep the Hearts in Autumn line shorter, at least for now.

Margaret: That is a very ambitious and brilliant plan. Will the rest of the Autumn Romance series also weave in characters from previous titles: Loyalties Webb, Illuminations of the Heart or Dangerous Favor, like Loving Lucianna did?

Joyce: It will probably vary from book to book. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. The character I’m thinking of for my next Hearts in Autumn romance (a troubadour named Foulcaut) is also a minor character in the next WIP on my agenda, which will be based on the character of Acelet from Illuminations of the Heart. (Acelet also has a small appearance in Loving Lucianna.) I’m not sure which story I’ll finish first, though, Acelet’s story or the next Hearts in Autumn romance, so Foulcaut’s story may appear slightly out of sequence if I finish and publish it first. But it will also be a stand alone and not dependent on Acelet’s story to fully enjoy!

Margaret: That’s wonderful! I am looking forward to reading all your excellent books in the future. Thank you for visiting with me today.

 

Interview with YA Author of The Penny Project: Betsy Love

penny-project-coverBetsy Love just released her newest YA Novel: The Penny Project. Reading this brilliant story requires an abdominal binder to hold your sides in from laughing so hard plus mop and bucket to clean up the tears. Betsy has graciously answered some interview questions about writing.

Margaret: What writing skill do you feel is most important for authors with a YA audience? Explain.

BetsyThe most important thing to remember when writing for teens is that you need to speak their language. They tend to have a “lingo” all their own. When I write my YA novels I make sure that I read it to teens and get their feed back. I’ll ask them questions like, “How would a 17 year old guy say this?” The other thing is to read, read, read in the genre you’re writing in. That goes for Romance, Mystery, Historical as well as Young Adult.

MargaretWhich author/authors is/are your favorite/s to read and why?

Betsy: When I read Stargirl, I was so touched by Jerry Spinelli’s story and his writing that I knew one day I wanted to write a story like that, one that would have a huge impact for change. Margaret: Is there a particular experience you had that provided the inspiration for this novel? Please tell us about it.

Betsy: The Penny Project is indeed inspired by a true story. When I heard the story I knew I had to write a story around that premise. Many of the incidents in this book are taken from some of the “dumb” things kids have done. My model for Penelope is Spencer Moore, a young man I had as his 9th grade English teacher. (See the dedication in the front of the book). Spencer is truly an inspiration to all who know him.

Margaret: Of the three novels you’ve written which is your personal favorite and why?

Betsy: That’s a really hard question to answer. It’s like trying to pick out which one of your children you like the best. Each of my books has something unique that I love. For Identity it was the whole idea of mistaken identity (who doesn’t love Shakespeare’s mischief with such plots?). With Soulfire I had a passion for this particular story in the Book of Mormon. I love the strength of my main character to stand for what is right regardless of the “popular” beliefs. The Penny Project was a story that would NOT get out of my head until I put it to paper. Because I couldn’t get the story down fast enough, it only took me six weeks to write.

Margaret:  Tell us about your current WIP? Genre, when we can expect to see it on the shelf.

Betsy: I am such an eclectic writer! My next story is a YA Urban Fantasy. It’s nearly complete and you should see it out sometime in November. Thanks, Margaret for this delightful interview!

Margaret: It was my pleasureReaders can find more information about Betsy Love and her books on her website at http://www.betsylove.com and blog at http://betsyloveldsauthor.blogspot.com/.

Interview with Liz Adair: Author of the Spider Latham Series

TARP-CoverLiz Adair’s newest Spider Latham Mystery novel is: Trouble at Red Pueblo.  Liz flawlessly presents this contemporary western with beautiful prose, unforgettable characters and intriguing plot twists. Liz has graciously answered some questions about writing this tale.

Margaret: This story starts with the funeral for Spiders mother.  Laurie encourages Spider to get right to work on solving a new mystery. Have you found working or getting involved in a hobby has helped you deal with a loss?

Liz: Do you know, I didn’t plan that for Spider. At the end of Snakewater Affair his mother was deep into Alzheimer’s and had congestive heart failure. It was natural to start the next book in the series with her death. But when I finished this book, Trouble at the Red Pueblo, I could see that solving the mystery would have been therapeutic for both Spider and Laurie. As a matter of fact, I dealt with the loss of my mother by writing what turned out to be Counting the Cost. I never cried a tear, but I created a seven pound manuscript.

Margaret:  The love story in Counting the Cost is priceless. I’m so glad you worked through your grief and shared this intimate look at your family.  In Trouble at the Red Pueblo did your feelings about Jack change between Chapter Two and the end? Why?

Liz: My feelings did change, because at the beginning, I didn’t see the end. I didn’t know that Jack gave Amy a job and a home or that he did all the good works that he did. All I knew about him at first was that he was successful and irritating to Spider. And that he was a cowboy poet.

Margaret:  Who is your favorite character besides Spider and why?

Liz: Besides Spider, Karam is my favorite. I started out with a completely different idea of what he would be, but I’m delighted with how he turned out. I love him for his fearlessness. I remember studying Spanish—I minored in it in college and spent a summer in Mexico in a residency program to gain fluency. Conversing with native Mexicans was so uncomfortable; I was always afraid of making a mistake or of appearing foolish. But Karam is so bold and at the same time so teachable. I just love him.

Margaret: I found there were similar issues with European relatives who know King’s English, but get lost with American slang. You did a great job of adding humor with this element. Karam, a Palestinian Muslim, teaches American history.  What inspired you to create such an unlikely teacher?

Liz: My husband, Derrill, and I get these video programs called Great Courses. They’re college-level lectures, and we watch one every day during lunch. We were watching one on Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Empire, and the person teaching it had a British accent. The idea came to me then that it’s very common to have Western professors teaching Eastern history. Why not the other way around?

Margaret:   This novel tackles the issue of racial profiling. Tell us why you added this element.

Liz: I put Karam’s incident in the book because of a conversation that I had with a Palestinian friend who, when he traveled around America, never flew because of his experiences in airports. However, he said that going by bus was stressful, too. He had been hassled by police in bus stations because they thought he looked Hispanic and made him prove he wasn’t an illegal alien.

Margaret:  Who do you consider to be another hero in this book?

Liz: I think Jack may be a hero. In wanting to take care of Amy, he pushes himself beyond his physical capacity and reaps the consequences. That’s kind of funny, because in the beginning I didn’t see him in a hero’s mold.

Margaret: Thanks for visiting with us today. I look forward to reading more Spider Latham mysteries in the future.

Interview with Theresa Sneed author of Escape

EscapeWUFC author Theresa Sneed released her gripping suspense novel, ESCAPE  this month. Elizabeth doesn’t remember her past. Sheriff Malcolm Snyder finds her wandering the streets of Boston in a daze. He cruelly locks her in his cellar and keeps her captive for five gruesome years. One evening, she escapes with his truck, his money, and his five year old daughter, Sally. Theresa crafts a powerful mystery with unexpected twists that grabs the reader’s attention and doesn’t let it go, even with the word.

Margaret: Is there a particular event that inspired the writing of ESCAPE? Please tell us about it.

Theresa: Yes. The Fritzl case in Austria where a horrible man kept his daughter captive in his cellar for twenty-four years and fathered seven children by her. That story captivated my attention for the pure horror and shock of it.

Margaret:  Escape is titled as novel 1 in the Sandee Jae Series. I don’t remember seeing that name in the novel. Please explain and when do you anticipate volume 2 to be available for readers?

Theresa: I guess I need to change the series name, because it won’t make sense until the last book. In book three, we are introduced to Sandee Jae. She is the head writer for an online gossip column exclusive to women. If I told you more, it would be a huge spoiler, so better to just alter the series name.

Margaret: What is your favorite genre to write and why?

Theresa: My favorite genre to write is whatever I’m working on at the present. Right now, I’m working on a stand-alone, time-travel called the Salem Witch Haunt. It is about Bess North, a 17 year old student at Danvers High. Because she is the 7th great granddaughter of one of the women hanged as a witch in 1692, she is annoyed with all the media hype and tourism in her town, which used to be Salem Village. Losing her way in the woods, she stumbles upon a quaint, but antiquated village that she thinks is Amish. After the initial shock of discovering where she really is, Salem Village 1692, she sets out on a mission to save her grandmother from the gallows, only to put herself in grave danger.

I have thoroughly researched the historical characters and every possible theory about what happened in Salem Village in 1692. Salem Witch Haunt is a believable story steeped in suspense and intrigue with a touch of sweet romance.

My goal is to release it this Halloween, October 31, 2014, as Halloween, October 31, 2001 was the date that the state of Massachusetts exonerated my own grandmother, Susannah North Martin, 309 years after her hanging.

Margaret: WOW! What an intriguing family history! I look forward to reading Salem Witch Haunt this fall. Thank you for visiting with me and sharing  about what you are writing.

Theresa Sneed’s other published books include:

The No Angel Series: No Angel, Earthbound and Destiny.

Elias of Elderberry (Book 1 in the Sons of Elderberry series.)

 

Angela Morrison Talks about Writing Family History Inspired Fiction

An Ocean Atween UsAngela Morrison recently released the first book in her new series We Glovers: An Ocean Atween Us. She draws the reader in with authentic language and descriptions that are so realistic they make the reader want to wipe away the sweat and grime, yet hug and console Will. The narrative is set in the industrial age starting in Scotland, sailing across the Atlantic ocean, settling in Nova Scotia and trudging into Pennsylvania coal mines. Angela Morrison creates this YA historical drama using stories from her own family history. Will Glover’s story is a tale of first love and heartbreak, related in intimate, first person detail. Just as Will’s soul entwines around Lucie, the blooming pit village lass he’s always known and never truly seen, a mysterious stranger arrives at the pits with an offer Will’s father can’t refuse. Hardship, tragedy and broken hearts ensue.  Margaret:  In both your Taken by Storm Series and An Ocean Atween Us you write of violent storms while at sea. a.) Explain why you choose to use this symbolism / metaphor in your writing. b.) Share your personal experiences that inspired such realistic prose. Angela: I feel like in both these books the storms chose me! TAKEN BY STORM was inspired by a real hurricane. I was sitting in a dive boat off the coast of Cozumel, Mexico, wondering if the rain that was making me shiver would ever stop, when a fellow passenger told me that rain was the dregs of a hurricane that hit Belize the night before and killed a boat load of divers. That haunted me. I began asking myself, “What if?” and TAKEN BY STORM was the result. I had this very real storm to base the book on, so the metaphor of the storm Michael created in Leesie’s life was natural. For AN OCEAN ATWEEN US, the storm was also a reality the Glovers had to face. I wrote those actual chapters of danger, suffering, and death because my critique pal, Joelle, told me the Atlantic passage I was half-way through writing was incredibly boring and needed something to increase the drama and raise the stakes. “Somebody has to die!” she said. “They died by droves on those sailing ships.” She was right for the most part. The tragic voyages that came later in the 19th century with the mass exodus from Ireland were overcrowded and rife with disease. Living conditions were barbaric. There was no food. Water supplies were very limited or nonexistent. Yes, indeed, many perished. That is what readers expect. But, the Glovers were on a very different voyage. They were skilled laborers being imported at great expense by a well-funded company. I found no accounts of disease and starvation on the Maggie P. Other well-organized voyages I studied, like the Mormon emigrant ships, were remarkably free of deaths. I could have manufactured an epidemic, but it didn’t feel right. The Glover’s voyage, though, would be subject to storms. The North Atlantic was notorious. Sailing ships had to battle all the way against the prevailing trade winds. I found many first-hand accounts of what it is like battened-down in a tall ship’s hold during a storm. I drew on those true-life accounts to make Will’s experience as vivid and realistic as possible. Margaret: In An Ocean Atween Us the characters marry in their mid teens. Is this based on family or regional history? Angela: Both! I used the names and dates of births, marriages, and deaths from my family pedigree as the framework for the fictional story. I tried to stick as close as I could to the facts. Also, teen marriages were common practice at the time, especially for girls. Men in their thirties and even much older took teen-age brides, and no one thought anything of it–except, I think, the brides! I did make up Will’s younger brother’s relationship with Mallie Semple. Her family is fictional. Lucie, Will’s first love, is also my creation. Jennie, who comes along later in the novel, is from that pedigree chart. Of course, I had to fictionalize her, too. I fictionalized ALL the characters. (I hope the Glovers aren’t scowling down at me from heaven!) Margaret:  You mention that you spent over 10 years researching and writing this story. Please share some of the details with us. Angela: My grandmother and her mother were amazing family historians. I inherited the family group sheets, photographs, and family histories they collected. I grew up listening to my mother’s vivid bedtime stories about Granny Glover (Mither in AN OCEAN ATWEEN US) walking the Mormon trail with her grand-daughter, Sarah. When I was pregnant with my daughter, who is now expecting her first daughter, I took a family history writing course from BYU Independent Study. I began researching Kilmarnock, Scotland and 19th century coal-mining and wrote four chapters of a history of the Glover family. But I don’t write history. I write fiction. I kept researching and eventually entered a Master of Fine Arts in writing program. While working on my MFA, I wrote, TAKEN BY STORM. Then, in my final semester, I began writing AN OCEAN ATWEEN US  — at that time the working title was MY ONLY LOVE. I had the great good fortune of working with incredible mentors. That’s when the research became even more intense. I read everything I could get my hands on about 19th century Scotland, coal mining, and sailing ships. We were living in London, Ontario, Canada, and the local library system had a wide selection. (Half of Canada has Scottish roots.) I also had access to the University of Western Ontario’s library. I traveled to Nova Scotia and studied in the museum that sits on the site of the coal mine Will Glover helped dig. They kindly gave me access to their docent’s research library. I also took a trip to Pennsylvania’s coal country. We moved to Switzerland in 2004–just as I graduated with my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. I kept researching, writing, and even dragged my family to coal mines and Robert Burns’ cottage in Scotland. I finished the first draft in 2005 and began marketing it to editors. One well-known editor wanted to see it again! I was so excited. I eventually revised it for her four times before she broke my heart and turned it down. In 2008, I sold TAKEN BY STORM, and this project had to go on the back-burner. When I finished my contract with Penguin in 2010, I came back to it, rewrote it again, and found a new agent who fell in love with it. She had some suggestions to improve the story flow. I polished it one more time, and then gave her my blessing to send it to editors. She failed to find it a home with New York publishers, so I bid her farewell and decided to stretch my indie wings again and publish it myself–which brings us to the book you hold in your hands or, rather, the ebook you downloaded to your Kindle! Margaret:  An Ocean Atween Us takes a bit to get used to the language – but it helps the reader experience authenticity. How difficult was it for you to write using Scots? Angela: I fell head-over-heels in love with Scots. Studying Robert Burns’ poetry in college was my first taste. My father-in-law grew up on an Alberta homestead in a household where Scots was the Mither tongue. He could speak in authentic Scots when he wanted to. That gave me another tidbit to savor. In 2004, when I was reading everything Scottish I could get my hands on, I found Rosemary Sutcliff’s BONNIE DUNDEE, which is written with a much heavier Scots dialect than I use. I read it over and over until I had to return it and eventually bought my own copy. I also discovered Vol. 1 of a CD collection of Robert Burn’s songs. I had no idea Robert Burns wrote songs. Twelve CDs worth! That was amazing because I could actually hear it. And Burns wrote within 50 years of Will Glover’s time. When we moved to Switzerland in 2004, I was supposed to be learning French, but I was too immersed in learning Scots for the French to stick. I created a bulletin board full of notecards, ordered all twelve volumes of Robert Burns CDs from the UK, and read a Scots/English dictionaries instead of novels. Then I found an amazing website, scots-online, that enlightened me even more. I got so into writing in Scots that I over did it and the dialect was too heavy. On the advice of several editor critiques, I went back through the manuscript and took out tons of dialect, only leaving the merest gloss and relying more on word choice to give the reader an authentic feel for Will. The text is now very understandable, and if you have a hankering for Scots, you’ll love it! Margaret:  When will book 2 in the We Glovers series be available to readers? Who will be the protagonist? Angela: The feisty Janie Ellen, Will’s baby sister, will narrate the next book. She is my great, great, great grandmother. She, too, got married when she was fifteen! Rather than make readers wait for the entire book to be finished, I want to involve you in the process. I will be posting the chapters as I draft them on my liv2writ blog and wattpad.com. Writing is a lonely business. The most satisfying creative experience I’ve ever had was when I wrote the third Michael and Leesie novel, CAYMAN SUMMER, online with readers daily input. I’d like to experience that again with WE, GLOVERS. I am in Switzerland, and my research for JANIE ELLEN is in Arizona! I will be back in September for an extended stay, so I plan to start writing JANIE ELLEN then. Follow me on wattpad, my blog, or like my Facebook page to get updates.

Author Angela Morrison Gives Back

sing me to sleep coverThe first two parts of Angela Morrison’s M+L Forever Blog Tour at this site focused on her writing education and processes as well as her publications and marketing experiences. The week we will see how Angela is a great example of an author who gives back to her community. Margaret: With Sing Me to Sleep you support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF). I’ve seen that you are a member of Writers Unite to Fight Cancer. You are a great example of a philanthropist. Why do you support these causes and do you support any other charitable organizations?

Angela: I donate to humanitarian relief and educational efforts around the world through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I often get approached by bloggers for signed books for literacy and other causes. A blogger in the Philippines held a huge auction to give to earthquake victims, and I donated books and critiques. I’m always happy to appear at fundraising events free of charge. [Read more…]