Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Writer Wednesday takeover - Angela Wren interviews me

It's all about fantasy today.  So wishes can come true and authors can be anything they want to be!  And I am Angela Wren and I am temporarily taking charge of Stephanie's blog so that I can interview her about her writing and her wonderful book 'Djinn and Tonic'.

AW  What is your current release?

SC Djinn and Tonic is a fun, fairy-tale inspired romance novella involving a photographer and a genie.  Sal is determined to win a photography award for an atmospheric photoshoot, but her wish for the perfect model is more effective than she expects –  she inadvertently conjures up Ashtad, who’s not only tall, dark and handsome, but also a genie.  Sal can have everything she’s ever dreamed of but, as in all the best fairy tales, she soon learns to be careful what she wishes for…

AW   What first got you into writing and why?

SC I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write.  My first love was poetry, but as a child I also used to make up long, rambling tales starring me and my friends, and loosely inspired by the adventures of the Famous Five.  I loved (and still love) writing because of how the imagination can take us to all kinds of places that we’d never go in reality, and open up the most amazing adventures.  It’s like having the opportunity to live dozens of different lives, instead of being limited to one.  

AW  You write Romance novels.  Is it all imagination or do you also undertake research?

SC I like to write about settings and situations that feel a little familiar in some way, as it makes them easier to imagine.  For example, at university I was a keen ballroom dancer, and I was fascinated by the romantic and dramatic potential of the competitive dancing world, so I used it as the setting for my first full-length book, Perfect Partners.  My starting point may be real, but then I’ll add large doses of imagination – such as the Strictly Come Dancing meets Blind Date TV show which brings Redmond and Lisa back together in Perfect Partners – and I’ll also research specific details to add depth to the story. 

I had to do some interesting research for ‘Music to Her Ears’, my contribution to the Modern Magic anthology – my story was a quirky take on Goldilocks, with Goldie gatecrashing the mansion of three famous musician brothers, so I had to read up about the lifestyles of the rich and famous, including comparing journey times between London and New York by commercial and private jet. 

AW  Have you ever had to write a scene that was especially difficult and how did you do it?

SC I can’t think of a specific one, perhaps because every scene has its own challenges.  In general, I think I struggle more with overall structure than with individual scenes.  I was going to say, the hardest thing is often knowing where to start a story, but then I remembered that I also often find it hard to wrap the plot up neatly.  Oh, and saggy middles are always a struggle.  So no, I wouldn’t say there was one particular scene. 

AW  Famous authors, such as Roald Dahl and Dylan Thomas, had a special space for writing.  Do you have a writing ‘shed’?

SC No.  I mostly write on a mini laptop so my writing is very portable.  I sometimes write at home, either at the dining table or on the sofa, but in the summer I also enjoy taking my writing outdoors, and I quite enjoy writing in coffee shops, although I can be distracted by people-watching.  Just now I’m writing on a train, but my dream writing spot would be curled up on a sofa in a conservatory overlooking the sea.   

AW  Finally, if you had a whole afternoon to yourself and could choose to spend it with anyone, living or dead or a character from a book.  Who would it be, and what would you want to discuss?

SC That’s a tricky one!  There are a lot of people I’d like to meet, but at the moment, with all the publicity surrounding the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and the discovery of another first folio, I’d go for the Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon.  I’d like to settle once and for all the question of whether he wrote all the plays attributed to him, or whether Bacon or someone else was involved… although I don’t suppose Shakespeare would want to give up the credit for his famous plays, and you can never quite trust a fiction writer to give you true answers, so maybe we’d still never know. 

Thanks, Angela, for visiting today and for some fascinating questions.  Thanks also for having me to visit on your blog, James and Me.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Writer Wednesday Interview and GIVEAWAY with Elizabeth Meyette

Celebrate the Audiobook Edition of The Cavanaugh House with this Giveaway

GIVEAWAY ALERT: Enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card below!

Welcome, Elizabeth!  When and how did you first become interested in writing?

I was smitten with writing from the time I could hold a pencil and scrawl nonsense scribbles on paper. Mrs. McGrath, my third grade teacher, told me I was a very good writer and that affirmation launched my love of words. My first poem was published when I was a high school sophomore, and I wrote for our high school newspaper. I majored in English and minored in Journalism in college, and I wrote for my college paper. On a dare, I wrote a romance novel. Eventually, it became my first published book.

'The Cavanaugh House' isn't a traditional romance - what makes it different?

One convention of a traditional romance is scenes that alternate between the heroine’s and hero’s point of view. The Cavanaugh House is told in limited omniscient point of view through my heroine Jesse. So the only way we know what Joe, the hero, is thinking is through his words or Jesse’s observations of his facial expression or body language. Other than POV, it’s a pretty conventional romance—they meet and fall in love, there are complications, they are separated, they reunite, a happily ever after ending.

It's just been released as an audiobook - what is it like hearing your story read?  Does it sound as you imagined?

As I began to listen to Amy McFadden narrate my story, I got teary-eyed. It was overwhelming. Those were my words! Someone was reading my words! My husband Rich walked in and gave me a hug—he totally gets it. Amy warned me that my characters would not sound like they had in my head all the time I was writing the book, and I was grateful that she said that. But even though some of them didn’t sound like I’d imagined, Amy nailed it, especially with Jesse. I was thrilled.

Who are your favorite romantic authors?

My older sister introduced me to Victoria Holt and her gothic novels when I was in high school. I devoured them all. Of course, now I read Nora Roberts and Diana Gabaldon. I’ve been reading romances by authors I’ve come to be friends with, but I’m afraid if I only name a couple I will miss someone J. I especially love historical romance and romantic suspense. Oh, and Shakespeare—there’s lots of romance in his works LOL.

Which other genres do you like to read?

I have to admit that I like some romance in any genre I read. Mystery is my favorite, so I love Janet Evanovich and Patricia Cornwell. I’ve read every mystery Agatha Christie wrote, and love Sherlock Holmes and other British mysteries. I also like paranormal, fantasy and some sci-fi. I used to teach high school English, so of course I love the American classics. To Kill a Mockingbird is my all time favorite, but I love The Great Gatsby, Dandelion Wine, even The Grapes of Wrath!

Janet Evanovich always makes me smile, and I love a good mystery too.  To Kill a Mockingbird is a great book as well - I so admire Harper Lee's writing.  Speaking of writing, what’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve been given?

HOKBIS. Hands on Keyboard; Butt in Seat. There is no other way for this to happen, my friend.

The Cavanaugh House excerpt:

This house held secrets.  Secrets that wafted through rotting window sashes on the winter wind.  Secrets that spiders wove into webs anchored between the ceiling and walls. Secrets that scuttled on the feet of cockroaches across stained kitchen linoleum and scurried into its cracks. Secrets that peered from holes in the baseboard from glinting mouse eyes. This house held the secrets close to its bosom where they had slept for decades. No one had disturbed these secrets in all the years the house sat decaying from neglect. There was no reason to, and there was no desire.

The Cavanaugh House blurb:

When Jesse Graham unlocks the door to the deserted house she inherited from her Aunt Helen, she doesn’t realize she’s unlocking secrets that had lain dormant for years. Reeling from a broken engagement to acclaimed musician Robert Cronmiller, Jesse wants to leave the city where her name is linked to his in all the society pages. Her best friend Maggie, aka Sister Angelina, convinces her to take a job at a private girls’ school in the pastoral Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Anticipating a quiet, revitalizing life in her aunt’s deserted house, Jesse is instead thrown into a maze of danger. Questions about her aunt’s death lead Jesse to investigate events surrounding it and the people involved, but she uncovers a web of deceit that reaches far beyond the occurrences of over two decades earlier. Still dejected from her broken engagement, Jesse finds it difficult to trust anyone, even her self-absorbed mother. Joe Riley is irresistible, but secrets obstruct involvement with him until Jesse can solve the secrets of the Cavanaugh House. Someone doesn’t want those secrets unearthed and will stop at nothing, even murder, to keep them hidden.

Where can readers find you and your books? 

Thank you for inviting me to your lovely blog today, Stephanie. Readers can find me and my books at the following:

In the UK:

In the US:

My audiobook version of The Cavanaugh House is available on:

I love visits, and you can find me at

Enter the Giveaway for a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Click here: GIVEAWAY