I — Inquiry and Chronicles of the #CaliforniaDrought

Real quick, this is how Lake Tahoe looked in March. The water was getting closer but not reaching the Truckee River.

The mouth of the river (1 of 1)

Well big news, it just flowed over its natural rim and has reached the mouth of the Truckee River.

Wow just when I was thinking I was running out of time to do my Monday post and couldn’t think of anything, but when I signed in to start a long overdue visitation round for my blogger friends, I discovered to my amazement a comment from Sheri Kennedy who writes as Kennedy J. Quinn with an invitation to do this interview, tag a few other writers, and read her amazing interview! Her answers really are good; please do yourself a favor and read through them. Sheri does everything a hundred percent, and her interview is no exception. And Sheri, thank you for reading and mentioning The Last Straw. I’ve been meaning to get that book up here on my blog, but for now, here are my answers to your great questions

  1. If you could write full time, would you? Why or why not. If you already do, would you want to change that? Why?
    I write full time now, and I wouldn’t change it, I’m so grateful every day for getting to write fiction and my blog.
  2. Tell me about your favorite character in literature. Why are they your fave?Sherlock Holmes. He is so logical. I love logic and logical characters. I’m also a huge fan of Spock in Star Trek and Seven of Nine.
  3. How long did it take you to write your first book? How long to get it published? Six years (I was working at the time, and had a lot of learning to do!) I didn’t publish it.
  4. What do you think the best books have in common? Great question! I have no idea how to answer it! But for me a book is great when I lose myself in it, when I am more in it than in my life as I bumble through the rituals of the day thinking about the book the whole time until I can return to it. I’m reading one like that now, and it brings me so much enjoyment, especially since several friends are all reading it and we are talking about it.
  5. What do you like to eat or drink while writing?Organic unsweetened almond milk (yes I actually like it), nuts, water. When I’m really on a hot streak, slide it under the door. When I’m struggling I spend most of my time at the refrigerator grazing, with the expected consequences.
  6. Did you ever have one of your characters surprise you? In what way? If no, why not?Oh, I love this question because it just happened to me for the first time in the book that is coming out this month, Third Strike’s the Charm. The hero had a secret I didn’t discover until the end of the third draft. Then I knew why I’d had so much trouble with his character. I didn’t understand Jason Ward until then.
  7. Regarding writing environment: Quiet or Noisy? Alone or With Others? Indoors or Outdoors? Hot or Cool?Okay, both, both, indoors, just right. LOL! I’m picky about temperature and light, otherwise, I’m flexible. I LOVE long plane rides. I get so much done!
  8. Regarding preferred stories: Happy or Complicated? Fantasy or Reality? Character-driven or Plot-driven? Scary or Funny? Classic or Modern?Happy, reality but a dramatic version, mix of character-driven and plot-driven, funny, modern.
  9. Tell me about your favorite character in your work in progress. What’s your favorite thing about them?Devin York is an arrogant emotionally disconnected billionaire CEO who scowls and broods which is interpreted by others as being domineering and tyrannical but is really caused by the tragic death of his wife for which he blames himself. He’s emerged as a Gothic character set in contemporary times, and I adore him. He breaks my heart, makes me angry, and makes me laugh, sometimes on the same page. I am finding I love writing these over-the-top characters and am very grateful Devin arrived in time to save my manuscript from the previous hero… who was a lox.
  10. Why do you write?If I had a choice, I wouldn’t. But I’m incredibly grateful that I can and do. What can I say? It’s a love-hate relationship, like every good romance!

Okay, enough about me! Here are my questions to any writer who happens to read this but specifically for the writers linked at the end, should they choose to participate:

  1. What is your favorite project that you have completed? Why?
  2. If you had to pick one book to read while you were stranded for a long time on a desert island, what would it be?
  3. What do you do when you get stuck with a story or article to get unstuck about the story or article and going all the way to the end?
  4. Do you ever write with pen and paper? If so, why? If not, why not? What do you like more about writing on the computer or about writing longhand?
  5. Who is your favorite character in literature?
  6. Do you believe in “muses” or inspiration? If so, how do you cultivate the inspiration?
  7. What made you want to write?
  8. Do you prefer reading or writing fiction or nonfiction? Why?
  9. What book, author (including blogger and journalist) has most influenced or inspired you?
  10. What would be your favorite place to write if you could write anywhere in the world?
    Here’s some inspiration for that thought!

Tagging:

John Holland

Cynthia Harrison

Robena Grant

Margaret Lynette Sharp

Ann of Anroworld

Susie Lindau

Ann Sandler

Marie Tuhart

Leanne Cole

 

 

i

 

 

Luke’s #1 Rule, by Cynthia Harrison

Lukes #1 Rule
Lukes #1 Rule

Releasing today, Luke’s #1 Rule is on sale this week only at The Wild Rose Press.

This book has the natural style I love so much about Brenda Novak’s work, and like Brenda’s Whiskey Creek series (see here for all my book reviews), Luke’s #1 Rule is part of a small-town series. The small town is Blue Lake, and when the main character ends up there, I could feel the relief of arriving in a community where people care about each other. But the relief doesn’t happen immediately for Chloe Richards. Oh no, she has a constant source of internal conflict: She’s moving with her kids to Seattle, very far away, and it’s ripping her apart, but she has no choice.

This book is about family and very difficult issues. It’s realistic, not at all forced, and utterly riveting as a result. Yet it is still a romance, and though I cried three times while reading it, they were good tears, and I knew it would somehow all end well. That’s a requirement for me. I dislike books that end sadly, even if I love the book, and I tend not to read those authors again, because let’s face it, who needs more bad news and sorrow when we have life, which has its share for everyone? (Although I do sometimes break this rule for literary work that makes me understand things more, like, for example, Rules of Engagement by Anita Brookner, which I really need to review one of these days! And even The Hunger Games, the ending of which infuriated me, but which is still such a profound work of allegorical literature that it informs my thoughts about various things we humans are doing to each other and the way the world works at the moment.)

But back to this wonderful book. Luke’s #1 Rule is thought provoking literature that will leave you feeling happy and satisfied as well as thoughtful and more informed.

Here are some little details from the book that I jotted down as I was reading. After that, I am posting the interview that was included at the end of the book, with the author’s permission. Cynthia is on tap to answer comments, too, so fire away!

I love it when Tommy’s smile spreads over his face like butter on toast. (Tommy is one of Chloe’s children, whom I just adored. Cynthia really captured children realistically. I love the characterization of the children; I could see and feel their excitement over meeting Luke, and over everything fun.)

I love this line:

“Then I’d say you had quite a mess to clean up before your next child arrives, don’t you?”

This was a line by a therapist talking to the drug addict in this book who makes the people around him miserable. This line is just an example of how you feel this book is written by an artistically mature author.

Speaking of artistically mature, the book is so deeply written, I was inside the character’s minds.

I love details like this, feeling the calming effect of something homey when one is in the midst of a very real life crisis.

…and the meatloaf mixture minus eggs sat in a blue bowl. Her mom had used that same mixing bowl since Chloe was a little girl.

And little offhand comments like this that communicate a setting in so few words:

Good stones, she had learned this week, were the ones that made the biggest splash when you flung them into the water.

And I love the realism of this little gem tucked into a scene:

She mentioned the price of a year of college these days. One year for one student. Her mother had been shocked at how college costs had sky-rocketed just since Chloe had finished off her degree.

And finally this, at the crisis point in the book. I felt the emotion because I was living the story with the characters.

Now she knew the rip of kin from kin, and it hurt.

Buy Luke’s #1 Rule here (on sale)

Now for the interview. I love that it was included in the book because I instantly had questions about the author’s own experiences. The book was so realistic that I thought maybe she had experiences along the lines of those of the book’s characters.

There are also excellent book group discussion questions provided.

An interview with Cynthia Harrison

Cynthia Harrison
Author Cynthia Harrison

1. You said that your husband gave you the idea for this book twenty-five years ago. Why didn’t you write your true love story?

I’m a fiction writer. I like making things up. I also wanted to protect the privacy of the real people involved in this story. Not just my husband and sons, but their father, their other mother, and their siblings.

  1. Their other mother? Why not stepmom? Do you mean the character of Bettina?

I’ve always felt, from almost the first day, great respect for the woman who would help raise my children. I feel like I can talk to her about anything and she will understand. She’s very friendly and open and nonjudgmental. I love her. She took great care of my children; she is truly their other mother. Stepmom has such negative connotations in literature. She’s the opposite of that.

  1. So the next obvious question is your ex-husband. Is he anything at all like Spence?

Not an iota. Not even close. Spence is the character I had the most trouble with, at first. I didn’t want to make the ex the bad guy. It’s such a cliché. So I did the opposite and that didn’t work. This is fiction, and I needed conflict. I’m a writer who teaches, and the first seven years of my teaching career, I taught at-risk high school children. I learned a lot about addictions and how they destroy families. Then there’s my addiction to chocolate and potato chips, which sounds funny but created serious consequences. I was recently diagnosed with pre-diabetes. So no more sugar for me. I have an addictive personality. Fortunately, I can’t drink more than a few glasses of wine without getting dizzy and then sick. So food has been my primary addiction, but I am also a binge television watcher, huge movie fan, and constant reader of novels. Aside from the food, these are all soft addictions, but they all gave me insight into Spence.

  1. What will happen to Spence? Will he be okay? How can the reader know?

As a reader, I sometimes have questions when a story ends, too. In the literature, the relapse number is very high, but Spence has a unique supportive system in Blue Lake. We will see Spence in other stories, but I don’t know if he will relapse because he hasn’t (yet). Still, it’s true what they say: addicts will always be in recovery.

  1. How many books do you plan for the Blue Lake Series?

I still have a lot of stories to tell. I like telling two thematically related stories in every novel. So Fast Eddie’s will be about the reunion of Bob and Lily, who were going off to college in Blue Heaven. They’ve graduated, and Lily comes back to Blue Lake. So does Eddie’s first love. My favorite way to write is to have a new adult storyline and a more mature romance as well.

  1. Blue Heaven was more of a traditional romance, but Luke’s #1 Rule had many more characters. There are the four adults and two children, plus the meddling mothers. Why the change?

They say every writer has a “book of her heart.” Luke’s Number #1 Rule was mine. It was not just a love story, although that’s the main plotline. Using the theme of blending a family was the book I’ve always wanted to write. It was a challenge. And it wasn’t a romance. I will always write love stories because I have a romantic soul, but the larger picture interests me, too. 7. You said you’re a reader. Who are some of your favorite authors? If you came to my house, you would look at my bookshelves and know. I use an e-reader these days, but still collect my favorites in hardback. First came Jane Austen and Erica Jong, then Alice Hoffman, Louise Erdrich, Sara Lewis, Elizabeth Berg. I also love poetry and short stories, so add Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro. Also Carol Shields.

  1. Do you read male authors?

I do. Raymond Carver is a personal favorite. I also admire TC Boyle and Richard Ford. There is not a book by David Lodge I have not laughed through. Richard Russo is in there, too. I don’t collect any of them except Carver. I think taking two degrees in English literature filled me up with male authors. The classics. After college, I started my own education of contemporary female writers.

  1. Do you read contemporary romance?

I do. I never miss a novel by Barbara Delinsky, Pamela Morsi, or Rachel Gibson. I’m also a fan of romantic suspense and several of my fellow TWRP authors write in that line. Mysteries! Sue Grafton and Anne Perry. Lee Childs. Every book.

  1. How do you find the time to teach, read, and write? Are your little boys grown up now?

Yes, my boys are grown with families of their own. When they were young, I wrote less and read less. I enjoyed my time with them. More recently, I’ve been teaching less, which gives me time to read and write. I’ve found you can do it all, but you can’t do it all at the same time. I’m also dedicated (again, I could say addicted) to Twitter and my blog. My older son suggested I start a blog in 2002. He set it up for me, and I’m still there at http://www.cynthiaharrison.com. For ten years, I wrote about my efforts to publish my novels. Then it happened and I decided to write about other things, the concerns in my novels, but also the love and joy in everyday life.

  1. Do you ever speak to book clubs?

I adore meeting people I’ve only known on the Internet. In real life, I’ve met friends from New York, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Seattle. I live north of Detroit, but, time permitting, I’d be happy to Skype with a book group from anywhere.

Where to find Cynthia Harrison:

Blog : http://cynthiaharrison.com

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/authorcynthiaharrison

Twitter : http://twitter.com/cynthiaharriso1

Pinterest : http://www.pinterest.com/cynthiaharriso1

Google+ : https://plus.google.com/110024602669466854106

Goodreads : https://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomCynthia_Harrison

Amazon Author Page : http://www.amazon.com/Cynthia-Harrison/e/B004HIXM7Y/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1401552546&sr=8-1

Author interview, Cynthia Harrison

 

Today, we have author Cynthia Harrison.

Cynthia, welcome! Your background shows that you are a real book lover. You teach English, including creative writing, have written a manual on writing, and have written hundreds of reviews, features and short fiction. Have you written in other genres besides romance?

Cynthia Harrison: Yes, I started as a poet and short story writer.  I tried a few literary novels, a mystery, and a historical romance. They were practice books. Nothing felt right until I turned to contemporary love stories, novels of self-discovery, set in small towns.

NS: I know you also read outside the genre. What do you like about reading and writing romance?

CH: I like the parameters. I like working within a structure and twisting it for a bit of edge.

NS: Are you a pantser or a plotter?

CH: Pantser, to my dismay. I do begin plotting in earnest at about 30K words, but until then it’s whatever comes out of the fingertips that day.

NS: What is your favorite part about writing?

CH: I love losing myself in worlds that I can control, lol.

NS: What is the hardest part about writing?

CH: Finding the time and energy to keep going  when I really want to read a good book.

NS: How long have you been writing?

CH: 45 years. Junior high star journalist.

NS: What are your dreams for your writing?

CH: I love this series idea, because I love writing series. But, if I can finish and publish this one I’m writing now, the book of my heart, I’ll be satisfied.

Cynthia Harrison
Cynthia Harrison

To learn more about Cynthia:

Links cindy@cynthiaharrison.com

www.cynthiaharrison.com blogging for 11 years on A Writer’s Diary.

facebook fan page: Cynthia Harrison all.my.diaries

Twitter: @CynthiaHarriso1