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Author Interview Series: Behind The Scenes with Elizabeth Varadan

Behind The Scenes2

Everyone’s journey to publication is different and unique. In Behind The Scenes, I interview writers who tell us how they started and got to where they are today. With the knowledge that comes from experience, they share their words of wisdom with us. If you’re a writer, I’d love to hear about your journey! Please contact me here if you’re interested in being interviewed. New interviews featured every second and last Monday of the month.

Elizabeth Varadan joins me in this edition of Behind The Scenes. Her latest novel, Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, is a middle-grade mystery; available at your favorite retailers on June 15. When Sherlock Holmes was called in to solve the case, Imogene–a budding detective in her own right–has her own ideas about solving the mystery!

 

1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?

I’ve written all my life – poems and small stories while growing up, going through college, and during my teaching career. When I took early retirement a few years ago I was able to focus on writing full time, and my work started being published – poems and stories for adult magazines and children’s magazines. A few years ago, I self-published a middle grade fantasy novel. Now, MX Publishing – a publisher specializing in Sherlock Holmes-related books – is publishing my middle grade mystery involving Sherlock Holmes, Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls. It was a long trek, but worth the journey.

 

2. Anything you would’ve done differently if you could do it all over again?

Not really. I loved my teaching career, and I came to that late, as I had to work my way through college. I never stopped writing, but I knew I could look forward to that once I no longer taught. I really had planned it that way, in stages, and I kept writing all those years.

 

3. What advice would you give to new and aspiring writers?

Follow your own dream and not someone else’s. My mother wanted me to be a musician. I love music, but the musical world wasn’t for me. And, since we were poor, I had to make my own dreams work: college, a teaching career, and then a second career in writing. It all came true. I have no complaints.

 

4. Is there any book you’ve written that is particularly special to you? Which one and why?

Oh, that’s hard. Every book I write is my favorite at the time, especially after I’ve polished it up and consider it ready to submit. So, right now, I have to say Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls. It was great fun to write! I love history (I was a history major in university), I love mysteries, and I especially love Sherlock Holmes. I had to do a lot of research to get the Victorian setting just right, but I loved that, so it was an enjoyable book to write.

 

5. Who would you say is your favorite character(s) from your books, and why? What is it about this character that makes him/her tick?

In Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, it’s Imogene, because she’s so curious and spunky and determined. But I also became attached to rusty, the mudlark who becomes her friend and fellow sleuth.

 

6. Tell us about your new book. What can we expect from it?

In Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, ten-year-old Imogene has harbored a secret desire to be a detective. This is unusual for a Victorian girl from a middle class family. When her mother’s pearls disappear, her parents call in Sherlock Holmes to find them, and Imogene sees her chance to learn from the great Mr. Holmes. Before long, Imogene is acting independently – too independently for her own good – and her life is in danger.

 

7. Are you self-pubbed or traditionally published? What made you go for this model? What advice/tips can you share with writers working towards the same goal?

Actually, I am both. I self-published an earlier fantasy, The Fourth Wish, because traditional publishers hadn’t picked it up. (It’s a rather gentle read compared to the popular high-action fantasies.) So I decided to self-publish it, and it was a great experience. It jump-started me into the world of blogs and Facebook and Twitter – the whole cyber world, although after the fact. Now I actually have a wonderful network before publication of Imogene, so I’m glad I went that route.

For my mystery, though, I wanted a traditional publisher, and I was fortunate enough to find the perfect fit in MX Publishing. Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls comes out June 15th, but I’ve already had a pre-publication signing and a school visit, with more to come after it’s released. I’m also in company with a great group of like-minded writers – Holmes fans, who write Holmesian fiction.

My tips to writers would be to try it everything, and don’t give up. Write stories and poems for magazines. It’s a great heart lift when they get accepted while you keep working on longer pieces. Keep searching for the publisher that fits your work. Belong to writing groups who are both supportive and hard-nosed – you won’t grow as a writer unless you know what isn’t working in your manuscript as well as what is.) And then – read, read, read. Write, write, write. Persist, persist, persist.

 

Elizabeth VaradanAuthor Bio: Elizabeth Varadan is a former elementary school teacher. She taught most elementary grades, but her favorites were the middle grades, and she now writes middle grade fiction. She and her husband live in Midtown Sacramento. Her children’s fiction and poetry have appeared in Ladybug, Friends, and Skipping Stones Magazine. Her middle grade fantasy, The Fourth Wish, was self-published in 2008. Her new middle grade mystery, Imogene an the Case of the Missing Pearls, will be released by MX Publishing June 15, 2015.

Where to find Elizabeth:  Blog      Her Victorian Blog      Facebook     Twitter      Amazon Author Page

 

 


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Author Interview: Behind The Scenes with Dianne K. Salerni

Behind The Scenes2

Everyone’s journey to publication is different and unique. In Behind The Scenes, I interview writers who tell us how they started and got to where they are today. With the knowledge that comes from experience, they share their words of wisdom with us. If you’re a writer, I’d love to hear about your journey! Please contact me here if you’re interested in being interviewed. New interviews featured every second and last Monday of the month.

Joining me today is Dianne K. Salerni. She writes MG and YA Fantasy and her latest novel, The Inquisitor’s Mark, comes out on January 27.

 

1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?

First of all, thank you for having me here on your blog! I’ve been writing all my life, but I was always very shy about submitting my work anywhere. It was my husband who encouraged me to try self-publishing a YA historical novel I’d written about the Fox sisters which I called High Spirits. To my surprise, I was contacted by an independent Hollywood producer for film rights and an editor at Sourcebooks who wanted to put the book under contract, revise it, and republish it with a new title. This became my first traditionally published book, We Hear the Dead, and eventually a 6-minute short film called The Spirit Game was produced, too. (It’s currently being pitched in Hollywood as a TV series idea.)

 

2. Anything you would’ve done differently if you could do it all over again?

I would have looked for an agent sooner. I didn’t start to query agents until after We Hear the Dead came out. I didn’t realize how necessary it was to have an agent for negotiating contracts and looking out for your interests with publishers.

 

3. What advice would you give to new and aspiring writers?

Do your research on the publication process! Read up on agents and publishers and what’s expected for books in your genre/target audience. I wandered into the whole process backward and really didn’t know what I was doing. First I published a book. Then I got a book contract. Then I queried agents and found one. At that point, it felt like I started over again and only really learned the process when my agent sold my next book, The Caged Graves.

 

4. Is there any book you’ve written that is particularly special to you? Which one and why?

My first middle grade book, The Eighth Day, is special to me. I wrote my YA historicals – including two that have not yet found a home with a publisher – while working full time as a fifth grade teacher. When I started working on The Eighth Day, my students said, “It’s about time you wrote something for us!”

And writing for middle grade turned out to be so rewarding! There’s a lot more fun and humor in these books than in any of my others, even though it’s an action adventure. Plus, I moved out of my established genre (historical) into urban fantasy, which I wasn’t sure I could do. The Eighth Day taught me to take risks with my writing.

 

5. Who would you say is your favorite character(s) from your books, and why? What is it about this character that makes him/her tick?

My favorite character is Riley from The Eighth Day. First of all, he’s a YA character in a MG book, so he links my two target audiences. At the beginning of the book, my main character Jax, hates Riley, his 18-year-old guardian, believing him to be a no-good slacker. But when Jax learns more about Riley’s past, finds out who he is and how far he’ll go to keep the people under his protection safe, everything changes. Developing their brotherly relationship was one of my favorite parts of writing the series.

Furthermore, Riley invented himself. When I started the first draft of The Eighth Day, I had entirely different plans for this character. But he took control of himself from page one. This is who I am, he told me. Oh, and I need tattoos and a motorcycle, thanks.

Based on reader feedback, I have found that while everybody likes my main character Jax, MG readers aspire to be Riley and YA readers swoon over him.

 

6. Tell us about your new book. What can we expect from it?

My newest book is The Inquisitor’s Mark, the second in the Eighth Day series. This one was a lot easier to write than the first one, since I already knew the characters so well. I also had the fun of putting Jax in an impossible situation. What does an orphan want more than family, right? In The Inquisitor’s Mark, Jax finds out that he has an uncle, cousins, and grandparents who want to give him a home. Too bad they’re members of a corrupt clan Jax’s father fled long ago – and they would really like to see Riley dead and Jax’s other friend, Evangeline, as their prisoner.

The scenes where Jax meets his nefarious relatives were really fun to write – plus there’s betrayals, chase scenes, magical vermin, and oh yes, a monster, all set in a luxury apartment building in Manhattan alongside Central Park.

 

7. Are you self-pubbed or traditionally published? What made you go for this model? What advice/tips can you share with writers working towards the same goal?

As you can see, I self-published first, then got one of those offers everyone says never happens: a traditional publisher approached me. Over all, I like working with traditional publishers because they have such a far reach in terms of getting your book into stores. You also have more street cred with librarians. However, traditional publishers are very cautious about acquisitions and if they don’t think your book fits the market, no matter how good it is, they won’t buy it. I might self-publish again in the future, but I would always try the traditional route first, because it gets more respect in the publishing field.

My advice for any writer, before choosing a path, is to thoroughly research all the pros and cons – and believe me, no matter which path you take, there are plenty of both.

 

Dianne SalerniAuthor Bio: DIANNE K. SALERNI is the author of The Eighth Day fantasy series (HarperCollins) and YA historical novels, The Caged Graves (Clarion/HMH) and We Hear the Dead (Sourcebooks). Dianne was a public school teacher for 25 years before leaving the profession to spend more time hanging around creepy cemeteries and climbing 2000 year-old pyramids in the name of book research.

Where to find Dianne:    Website        Twitter

 


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Guest Post and Excerpt – Come Back by Melissa Maygrove

I’m very excited to host Melissa Maygrove today. Her debut novel Come Back, a historical western romance, is released today and she’s here to share an excerpt with us, plus a little something I’m sure all of you writers out there can relate to.

 ~ GUEST POST ~

 Things that make you go ugh.

• When you send an email to someone really important, then—ten seconds later—realize your spell-check wasn’t turned on. 0_o

• When your internet service goes down on your busiest blogging day. (‘Course, you might get some word count out of the deal.)

• When you open a critique—of something you thought you nailed—and the first line reads: This might seem harsh. Just remember, I still love you! ducks

🙂

Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Maggie.

*        *        *        *        *

~ EXCERPT ~

[Seth] sighed. “I don’t blame you for what happened. And I trust you.”

“No you don’t,” she choked out.

“Yes I do. But I convinced you to travel with me. I’m responsible for your safety.”

Becca lifted her head and wiped the moisture from her face. “That’s admirable, but it’s not realistic. No matter how hard you try, you can’t protect me from every possible danger. You’ll kill yourself trying.”

Troubled eyes studied her from under drawn brows.

“I mean it, Seth. If you’re not willing to let me do my part, then leave me here. We’ll never make it to California if we don’t work as a team.”

He sighed again and closed his eyes. When he opened them, they were soft with acquiescence. And dull with fatigue. “You’re right.” He brushed the ridge of her cheekbone with his thumb. “I know you can take care of yourself. I didn’t mean what I said before.”

Seth left her and collected Cyrus. “Ride with me?” he asked over his shoulder.

The vulnerability in his voice softened her even more. “Yes.”

“Good.” He mounted and lifted her onto the saddle. “I need a rest. And Sam would skin me alive if I left a lady to walk while I rode.”

Becca sat a little taller and glanced at him sideways. “I’ll go along—in front of Sam. But when we’re alone, that’s another compulsion you’ll have to get over.” She squirmed and shifted her hips. “Riding makes my backside numb.”

“Lord, have mercy,” he muttered. “What have I gotten myself into?”

*        *        *        *        *

Sometimes a single choice alters the course of a person’s life forever.

Come Back
by Melissa Maygrove
Western Historical Romance
Adult / New Adult

Available May 12th from Truelove Press

Where to find Melissa…

Where to find her book…
Amazon / Kindle / B&N / Nook / Kobo

 

Don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads.

Cover designed by Carrie Butler,

 



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Cover Reveal – Come Back by Melissa Maygrove

Sometimes a single choice alters the course of a person’s life forever…

Come_Back_Ebook cover for bloggers

Title: Come Back
Author: Melissa Maygrove
Genre: Western Historical Romance
Category: Adult / New Adult
Publisher: Truelove Press
Cover Design: Carrie Butler, Forward Authority Design Services
Release Date: May 12, 2014

Add to Goodreads

~ ♥ Blurb ♥ ~

Left behind by everyone she loves…

Rebecca Garvey had the promise of a California future dreams are made of, until the wagon train her family was traveling with left her behind. Now she’s slowly dying in the wilderness, abandoned and stripped of her self-worth. Once the shock of her desertion turns to embittered despair, she doesn’t want to be found. Then a handsome stranger challenges her convictions and changes her mind.

Headed for Texas, chased by the demons of his past…

Seth Emerson knows exactly what he wants. Working to save for a cattle ranch of his own keeps him busy and keeps his pain buried. Rescuing a stubborn woman from the hills of New Mexico Territory isn’t part of his plan—but she’s exactly what he needs.

Making greater sacrifices than either of them could foresee…

Seth and Rebecca set off on a risky journey and a quest for truth, each healing the other’s love-starved soul along the way. Will they give in to their growing attraction? Or will they honor their commitments when Seth returns Rebecca to civilization… and her betrothed?

~ ♥ Author Profile ♥ ~

Native Texan Melissa Maygrove is a wife, mother, nurse, freelance editor, and romance writer. When she’s not busy caring for her tiny nursery patients or shuttling teenagers back and forth to after-school activities, she’s hunched over her laptop, complicating the lives of her imaginary friends and playing matchmaker. Melissa loves books with unpretentious characters and unforgettable romance, and she strives to create those same kinds of stories for her readers.

You can connect with Melissa through her website or blog. She’d love to hear from you.