Author interview: Susan Karsten

susan Karsten  I’m delighted to have fellow author Susan Karsten join me on my blog today to bring you up to date on her latest writing projects, and a little bit of fun to brighten your day!

Thanks for taking the time to meet my readers!

 

Susan’s first published novella, Charlotte’s Dilemma, is a Regency romance. Miss Charlotte Broughton, sticking her delicate toes into society’s marriage mart, is caught up in a scandal, not of her making. Though she was innocent, her parents banish her to the country where they hastily arranged a position for her to teach at a small estate school. She makes the best of her reduced circumstances and is befriended by a neighboring family who are members of the nobility. The son and heir of the family, Lord Hipwith, is kind to her—lending her books and visiting the school. The intrusion of another scandal threatens Charlotte’s fragile hopes, and visitors from London bring the fear that her shame would become know in the backwater village she now calls home.

Excerpt:

Dear Mother, You’ll be happy to learn that I have arrived at my destination. The arranged hideaway exceeds expectations. The village is remote and on the outside edge of civilization and therefore perfect for stashing away a shamed maiden.

~

Charlotte chewed on the end of her pen. What more did she want to share with Mother Dear? A mother who allowed her to be shunted out of sight, shipped to the hinterlands without a hearing. The court of public opinion took precedence over maternal loyalty and above the truth.

 

A few more questions for Susan…

What inspired you to write this story?

Charlotte’s Dilemma, a Regency novella, was inspired by the chance to have my work published in a novella collection with several other authors who are also with Prism Book Group. The genre could have been anything I wanted, but of course I picked my long-held favorite — the Regency Romance.

The over-arching theme of this book has to do with injustice turning into blessing. Banished due to a scandal, Charlotte keeps her courage to go on. Not understanding how her current reduced situation is God’s will, she trusts and “does the next thing.”

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There are several reasons to read this novella: It’s fun! Even though the victim of a scandal in society, Charlotte’s lighthearted acceptance provides smiles and chuckles. Then there’s the handsome hero, Hugh (and in true Regency mode, you don’t learn his first name until the very end of the story). Another reason to read is to immerse yourself in a clean, pure romance. And finally, if you like the Regency genre, there’s no reason not to enjoy Charlotte’s Dilemma.

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Interesting writing quirks/ habits while writing this piece? How did these help the story progress or increase your investment in your narrative or characters?

Beginning several chapters with letters written by Charlotte to her mother were enjoyable to write. The letters were a convenient way for the character to vent about her dilemma, while keeping her chin up on a daily basis.

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What is your favorite aspect of this story and why?

I am enamored with stories in which injustice turns into blessing. Banished due to a scandal, Charlotte keeps her courage to go on. Not understanding how her current reduced situation is God’s will, she trusts and “does the next thing.”

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List some (or all) of your previous writing projects or experiences

A Match for Melissa, 2017

A Refuge for Rosanna, 2019

An Escape for Ellie, coming soon

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What projects are you working on now?

My first cozy mystery, The Missing Quilt Mystery, will be published in 2020.

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Include links for your blog, website, etc.

Blog: graciouswoman.wordpress.com

Facebook: Susan Karsten – author

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Thanks again for joining us on my blog, Susan!

 

 

What if …?

This excellent, amazing question gets me every time I think about it.

In case you ever asked, ‘how does a writer come up with all those great ideas, crazy plot twists, and interesting scenarios’, I’m here to tell you, the answer is simple: it’s the ‘what if’ question.

Well, that’sbeach 2 my answer at least.

I might begin writing with a basic premise for a story, or a picture that’s inspired me to create a character, but inevitably somewhere along the line the ‘what if’ question pops up as I work out details of story, history, setting, character and more. 

If ever a question could be perfect, it’s this one.

What if the main character fears commitment? What if she will do anything for another piece of apple pie? What if he is a germophobe? What if she’s allergic to his dog, Max?

The ‘what if’ question gives

endless material. It’s strengthened weak scripts and stories, it’s helped me take characters to the next level.

And it certainly applies to real-life scenarios. What if you stopped saying ‘we should do that’ and you actually did it? (went on the trip, took that class, moved to that neighborhood?)

What if, indeed.

Happy reading!

Author interview: Rachel James

Rachel jamesI am delighted to welcome author Rachel A. James to my blog today.

A Field of Forget-me-nots by Rachel A. James

When the patron of the Foundling School takes pity upon young orphan, Georgiana (Ana) Weston, Lady Dunston raises her as one of her own. However, years pass and Lady Dunston’s health begins to fail. With the Longworth estate entailed away, Ana is faced with an uncertain future.

Mr. Luke Renshaw still mourns the loss of his parents, and would rather travel the world than live in a place that reminds him of so much pain and loss. But responsibilities await, and when his only aunt becomes sick, he returns to Longworth. After all, it is where he will receive his inheritance.

Luke and Ana used to play together as children, though many years have passed and much has changed. The prospect of marriage without love holds little hope for their romantic ideals, and yet it seems the most sensible solution for both parties.

Buy Now:  https://www.amazon.com/Field-Forget-me-nots-Ponder-This-ebook/dp/B084JRTCLQ

 

A few questions for Rachel:

What inspired you to write this story?AFieldOfForgetmenots_prc5472_300

I’ve always written Medieval Romance, but I love many time periods and quite fancied having a go at the Victorian era. When I was approached by my publisher to contribute toward the ‘Ponder This’ series, I saw this as an opportunity to write a Victorian romance. I was given “Whatever is noble”, and the first thing that sprang to mind was the wife of noble character from Proverbs 31. I’ve always seen this character as an ideal to aspire to, and wondered what this type of woman would have been like. So this is what I set out to do; create a lead character that modelled the Proverbs 31 woman.

 

Any special research you had to conduct?

Yes, I researched the Victorian period extensively. One of my discoveries was that the Victorians considered the idea of home to be very important. Prominent writers of the day, such as Mrs Beeton, modelled how women could run the household, which very much parodied, in my opinion, the Proverbs 31 character.

 

Interesting writing quirks/ habits while writing this piece? How did these help the story progress or increase your investment in your narrative or characters?

While writing this piece, I often frequented a stately home near to where I live, called Brodsworth Hall. This is a Victorian mansion that inspired my own fictional Longworth Hall. The gardens there are particularly lovely, and they play an important part in the story of A Field of Forget-me-Nots.

 

What is your favorite aspect of this story and why?

My favourite part of the story is the relationship between hero and heroine, Luke and Georgiana (Ana). As a pastor’s wife, I have counselled many married couples over the years, and I continue to be surprised at how many of those couples struggle simply because of a lack of communication. I wanted to explore this a little in the novella. Bearing in mind that this is a Victorian setting, I imagine candid conversations would have been more stifled than they are today. I really enjoyed seeing Ana and Luke grow together and work through their difficulties.

 

List some (or all) of your previous writing projects

I’ve written a Christian medieval book series, ‘The Forgotten Kingdoms’, consisting of three novels, Elmetia, Meigen & Rivalyn, and I’ve also just released this as a box set. I currently have a free medieval Christmas novella available for those who sign up to my newsletter.

 

What projects are you working on now?

I’m working on a new medieval book series, and hope to have the first book out by the summer.

 

Connect

www. rachelajames.com/newsletter

facebook.com/authorrachelajames

amazon.com/author/rachelajames

pinterest.com/rachelajames

goodreads.com/rachelajames

instagram.com/authorrachelajames

twitter.com/rachelajames7

youtube.com/rachelajames

 

Picking Daisy on Pinterest

When I was introduced to Pinterest I thought it was interesting, and of course a great way to keep a record of characters and inspiration for setting, future stories, and more.

It’s the more part that hits hard for a writer.

Now, a year or two out from my foray into this social media platform, I’m shocked how frequently I use it, and how much it matters to my storytelling.

Back in the old days (ehem) I’d rip pictures from magazines and start a new file folder with them for each story. But now, WOW, this is so much easier (and more fun, time-consuming, yada yada…)

At the risk of ruining your musings of who the characters were modeled after, I’ll share my board for Picking Daisy, and encourage you to check out the other boards too. Some are for other novels I’ve written or am working on– others are simple inspiration should I ever get stuck.

I’d love it if you’d follow these boards as I still add to them, even after publication, because, hey, once I’ve imagined a character, he or she is part of my writing family.

Happy reading, friends!

The music of my stories

Music has always been part of my life.

From singing along to the radio, buying a favorite artists’ CD, or way, way back– recording my favorite songs from the radio and hoping some silly DJ didn’t talk over the song before it ended– music has impacted my life in so many ways. It is connection, nostalgia, and inspiration.

So maybe it isn’t strange that I require a soundtrack when I write. Scratch that, before I even start a new story, it is critical for me to know how it sounds (is that a weird artsy-fartsy thing to say?) and feels emotionally. When I started writing in junior high, that meant I made soundtracks that I’d listen to on repeat as I wrote and edited. Now, it means I create playlists on Spotify.

For the curious reader, Picking Daisy was largely written to the sounds of the Goo Goo Dolls. In fact, I saw them in concert three times and listened to only them when driving. It got to the point that one day I got into my car and noticed my hubby had replaced Goo Goo Dolls with Led Zeppelin. He asked, kindly, if I’d maybe, just maybe, listen to something else for a change.

Of course the ansgoo goo dollswer was no. How could I explain that writing doesn’t just happen when you’re sitting at your desk? Writing happens when you’re driving, walking, eating, and out living your life– wherever that might be. The Goo Goo Dolls stayed. End of discussion.

Other writing obsessions have included Queen, Jon McLaughlin, and Matchbox 20, among others. I doubt this problem ends anytime soon for me. But I seriously don’t mind. (and I have a weird feeling I’m going to be writing to the sounds of Carlene Carter who I just saw in concert last night and am now basically fascinated with… sigh.)

Follow me on Spotify if you like (FYI my playlist titles don’t always match the final story/ novel title. Oops! That’ll keep you guessing!) https://open.spotify.com/user/kimooda?si=9Ae23rfwRCS2Frbpf7tWmA

Who are some of your favorite artists? Why? Comment below!

Happy reading!

 

 

 

https://open.spotify.com/user/kimooda?si=9Ae23rfwRCS2Frbpf7tWmA

Looking for a book group selection? Look no further!

I’ve had the honor of visiting with a few book groups in the last two years as my novels have been published and I can’t say enough about those experiences.book group conneaut lake

To have a group reading something I’ve worked so hard on and then to hear these new friends asking relevant, interesting questions and talk about the stories, characters, themes, and more with me, has been a truly humbling experience.

I was already so grateful to see my novels published that I could hardly imagine the other side– actual people reading what I’d written and then discussing it as if I was seriously an author.

No, for real. What writer hasn’t felt this way? If s/he says otherwise, they’re probably lying.

So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you, readers. It means the world to hear from you, to interact with you, and to know that my writing matters to you. I am forever grateful and humbled.

For those readers who are interested in using either Picking Daisy or Forgiving Tess for their book groups, don’t forget that on my website (near the bottom) I’ve posted a list of discussion questions to get you started.

Here’s a link: http://kimberlymmiller.com/

 

Happy reading!

Just finished novel number ten…

If that title didn’t get you, I don’t know what will!

For my ‘superfans’ (Are there any? Not sure, but maybe. A girl can dream…) who know I’ve only published two novels, with another on the way in March, you might be wondering- where are the other seven? Why can’t I read the other seven?

Chill out, Veruca Salt. Eventually, I do hope these will all be released.

While some of my unpublished novels don’t have titles (most do), and are in various stages of editing madness, publication possibilities, and other states that come before actual book copies are available for your enjoyment, it is tremendously exciting to me to have met so many characters, created their worlds, and helped them solve their problems.

And, of course, find love. Isn’t that what this is all about?

So, while my latest novel, (for now) titled ‘Always Yours Forever’, is complete in the strictest sense, I’ve only just today sent it to a trusted beta reader for my first round of feedback.

Here’s hoping sweet, goofy Lorenzo and sassy, straight-laced Tillie bring that reader the enjoyment they brought me.

And more, that soon enough you’ll be reading their story, along with the rest of what I’ve done.

No worries, I don’t plan on stopping any time soon, friends. And I intend to take you along on this journey with me. All the highs (and lows- hoping there aren’t many of those!) will be ours to share and enjoy!

In the mean time, while you wait for whatever is coming next from me– have you pre-ordered your copy of ‘Lucy in Love’ (and the rest of the books in this series) yet?

Here’s the link in case-

Happy reading!

My latest WIPs

Hello friends!

As I seek to revamp this blog into a more casual conversation intended to keep you in the loop with my writing, works in progress, appearances, and releases,  I thought I’d start this change with a quick view of what I’ve been working on recently.

Since the release of my first novel, Picking Daisy, I’ve been fortunate enough to have alucy cover mediumnother published novel, Forgiving Tess. Both novels have been very well-received by readers with numerous positive and encouraging reviews. If you haven’t read either of them yet, by all means, please check them out!

Currently, I’m looking forward to the release of my next work, a novella, titled ‘Lucy in Love’ that is part of a series called ‘Ponder This’. ‘Lucy’ is scheduled for March 6th publication. My hope is that this novella will be equally enjoyed by my readers.

In addition to these projects and my ‘day-to-day’ job teaching, I’ve also finished numerous other novels, as well as a novella continuing the story of Robby and Daisy from ‘Picking Daisy’- stay tuned on that one as I’m considering self-publishing it as a ‘freebie’ for signing up for my newsletter, which I also plan to start soon. You, blog readers, will be the first to know when it’s ready as well as how to take advantage of this great deal.

As for the other ‘finished’ novels (is a novel ever really finished? Even after publication?), I hope to be able to get them to you sometime in the coming days, months, or years ahead in any number of ways, so as I said already- stay tuned! I promise to keep you posted!

I am excited for this improved blog, and to communicate in fun, new ways with you, my wonderful readers!

Happy reading!

A little late to the New Year’s Party

While many of you were making resolutions (and breaking them) I was letting this blog run itself because, quite honestly, I’ve had a very busy time of it lately.

And thankfully for all of you, I’m also a planner who’d scheduled the blogs (with the help of several guest writers) well into the months ahead. But now, I’m at the end of that pre-planned run and reconsidering, as I have been for some time, the direction of this blog.

Previously I’d considered my audience to be fellow writers looking for advice and inspiration, but increasingly I’m thinking it’s time to regroup and focus on another group altogether– readers.

Apologies to the writers in the audience. But stay with me. I’m hoping you, too, will be happy with this turn of events, and I do intend to continue, at times, with writing advice and inspiration. After all, those old habits die hard.

As I work on planning some blogs for the weeks ahead I intend to incorporate more about my own writing, my process, and especially characters, casting, and music. I hope you like the results, but as always, I’m open to your feedback and insights too.

Let’s have a fun time of it, shall we?

Happy reading, friends!

Lady Trent’s World of Dragons

Please enjoy this blog post by guest writer Mark Brestensky.

blog mark B pic 1

Personally, I’ve always been a fan of stores with a medieval fantasy setting. Something about the idea of knights in shining armor fighting powerful dragons always captivated me. If it involved a dragon, I would be instantly drawn toward it.

One day, I was looking for a new book to read when I stumbled upon In the Labyrinth of Drakes: A Memoir by Lady Trent. The title stood out to me more so than other titles I looked at. Never before had I been interested in a memoir. But it involved a labyrinth of dragons, so naturally I decided to get the book.

What I did not expect was the actual setting. Going into the book, I assumed it would take place in a medieval world, with knights and kingdoms. However, to my surprise, the story actually takes place in a Victorian era. The book’s true author, Marie Brennan, had taken my expectations and twisted them into a much more interesting setting.

blog mark B pic2

The setting’s locations are fictional, but are based on real world locations. For example, the main character’s homeland, Scirland, is based on parts of Europe. Quarrat, where most of the story takes place, is based on Middle Eastern culture. By relating these fictional locations to real world locations, the reader can better interact with the story and relate to it. Outside these fictional locations, only one fantasy element can be found: dragons.

Dragons are crucial to the military effort of the world Brennan created. Dragon bone is said to be the hardest material, and is prefect to make military ships and weapons. Logic would dictate that since dragon bone is so valuable, there would be dragon farms everywhere to produce more. Unfortunately, dragon breeding is a nearly impossible task in this world; a task which even the greatest minds cannot figure out.

This Victorian fantasy world plays well off the main character of the story, Isabella. Isabella, who is recounting her adventures through her memoirs, is a woman scholar and explorer. This can cause problems for her, however, as the Victorian setting reveals the hardships women faced.

Isabella often goes unacknowledged by her peers, and her life is seemingly covered in various scandals. The bulk of this story in particular also takes place in a fantasy version of the Middle East, and as such there are even more hardships Isabella must face. The book shows how Isabella must face the hardships of her gender in a time where women were expected to tend to the home.

When Isabella and her friend and colleague Tom are given the opportunity to revive a program that focuses on the prospect of successfully breeding dragons, the two immediately accept the opportunity. In their Quarrat lab, Isabella and Tom reunite with their friend Suhail, avoid a raid from a hostile nomad group, escape kidnapping, attempt to breed dragons with little success, viewing a dragon mating flight, and find themselves inside the long-abandoned Labyrinth of Drakes.

With so much adventure within the book, what could be a boring explanation of science experiments becomes an interesting and thrilling experience. These experiences are enhanced through the memoir style of writing. Brennan provides great detail no different people and situations, which allows readers to both picture Isabella experiences and what she thinks of these experiences.

As Isabella goes through the story, she will sometimes recount her previous adventures. At first, I thought it was just more great writing that allowed people to imagine all sorts of crazy adventures before this one. As it turns out, however, these adventures actually happened in other books! I had accidentally started the series on the fourth book.blog mark b pic3.jpg

What I liked about how In the Labyrinth of Drakes handled these moments is how I could understand them without reading the other books. Reading the other books in the series helps with the understanding of Isabella, recalls of her previous adventures, but they aren’t required.

Overall, In the Labyrinth of Drakes has excellent writing, both in its world building and characterizations. Isabella is a likable protagonist who you want to see succeed in her academic endeavors. Brennan expertly writes Isabella’s memoirs as if she was actually in this world she created and experienced everything she wrote about. Although, if this article interests anyone, I would recommend that you start at the first book, A Natural History of Dragons.