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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Sci-fi for women—outnumbered by men 25 to 1

Author, Merry Farmer
Hi Merry, and welcome to Adventures in Authorland. Please get comfortable and tell us about your adventure.

Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely, yes!  They say that it’s important to set goals for yourself as a writer, and mine is to be able to make a living off of my writing.  I am especially motivated to prove that you can do that as a self-published author.  It’s not always easy, mind you.  No matter how you publish, making it a career takes so much work!  But it’s all worth it.  At the rate I’m going, I see myself “retiring” from my day job in about two years.
In which genre do you prefer to write and why? 
Funny you should ask this, because I’ve been asking myself the same question a lot lately.  Right now, I write historical romance, and I really enjoy the books I’ve written.  But I have so many stories in me that aren’t historical or even romance.  This coming summer I will start publishing a series that I like to think of as science fiction for women.  It does have some romance and it’s going to have a very historical feeling to it, seeing as the setting is a new colony on a far-away planet, but it’s still sci-fi.  I also have a series that is—I’ll admit it—a strange sort of dystopian story about a world where men outnumber women 25 to 1.  But that also is a love story at heart, even though that love is between four men and one woman who make up a family.  As far back as I can remember, every book I’ve ever written has turned into a love story.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? Writing, or something else? 
I think I always wanted to be a writer, but at some point along the way I let myself be convinced that I needed to be more “realistic” and get a real job.  I continued to write on the side while I studied history and education and theatre.  I do actually love teaching and part of me always wanted to be a history teacher.  There are times when I regret not pursuing that path.  Then again, I teach a few writing and history for writers classes now and hope to make teaching a big part of my future.

Have you ever travelled to a place and come away with a story unexpectedly?
 Well, yes and no.  I frequently travel to places with the intention of coming up with story ideas or researching the seeds of ideas that I already have.  I went to Colonial Williamsburg this past summer to research a colonial romance idea I’ve had, and I came away with a lot of brilliant historical facts that helped that seed of an idea take a stronger form.  And just at the beginning of December I drove to Halifax, Nova Scotia to see The Citadel, which is a great 19th century military fort on a hill as part of research for another series.  However, while I was driving through the wilds of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, ideas for my sci-fi series started to pop.  There was just something about being so far removed from civilization that brought home the emotional impact of what the survivors in that series experience.  The trip gave me a lot of ideas for how to convey the emotions of the characters.

If you could time travel back, or forward, for one day, where would it be and why?  
Only one day?  That’s a tough one!  I think I would like to go back to 12th century England, just to see what pre-Industrial society was really like.  My first series, The Noble Hearts, was set in England in the 1190s, and I received a lot of comments about how medieval life “wasn’t really like that”.  The thing is, no one actually knows what things “felt” like because the records that were kept back then don’t talk about it.  I have a theory that life wasn’t all that different, that people still loved, laughed, fought, had family issues, got along with some people and not with others, and so on, the way we do today.  On the other hand, as a student of history, I know the Industrial Revolution completely changed the way people live and interact with each other to a degree that it’s hard for us to imagine what things were like before.  I’d love to find out.

Have you ever cried during a movie? If yes, which one and why?
Oh man!  I cry at movies all the time!  I am a sucker for anyone who is lonely in a movie.  That makes me cry like a baby in a heartbeat.  I also weep buckets whenever somebody’s mother or other person who is close to them dies in a movie, because I was with my own mother when she died.  In fact, I just can’t watch the Winona Ryder/Susan Sarandon version of “Little Women” anymore because I saw that movie with my mom in the theater when it first came out.  At the end of the movie, she turned to me and said, “You remind me SO much of Jo!” and I said to her, “You remind me SO much of Beth!”  Those really are our personalities.  And then I was right by her bedside, very much like Jo was in the movie when Beth dies.  I’m getting choked up just thinking about it now.  So yes, I cry at movies, A LOT!

In Your Arms – Blurb:

Lily Singer has never belonged.  Taken from her tribe as a child and raised in a white man’s school, she no longer has a place in either world.  Teaching has become her life.  When that life is threatened by rumors and prejudice after a string of robberies, she must turn for help to the one man who spells disaster for her carefully ordered existence.  Will he save her or steal her heart?

Christian Avery, Justice of the Peace, is used to having things his way.  Cold Springs is his responsibility, and when its citizens blame the local Indian population for the mysterious robberies, it’s up to him to restore order and maintain calm.  The one person who refuses to follow his lead is the beautiful, native-born Lily.  Her defiance turns his life upside down and ravages his heart.

But when town gossip shifts from robberies to romance after a foolish indiscretion, Lily’s job and reputation are on the line.  She must choose between the only life she has ever known and the only place she has ever felt at home, in Christian’s arms.

In Your Arms – Excerpt:
     Jessica set her tea and letter on the small table at the base of the stairs and came over to join Lily.
“Is it Mr. Avery or are you upset about that Indian man they caught last night?” she asked.
     Hot waves of shame bubbled up through Lily’s forced composure. She glanced down at her hands, clasped in front of her.
     “Both,” she confessed. She hesitated. If she had such a thing as a friend, Jessica could be it. “Mr. Avery offered to drive me out to where the Flathead are so I can be sure they’re all right.”
     “I’m sure they are.” Jessica smiled. She stole a quick glance up the stairs then craned her neck to see if anyone was sitting in the parlor. “He’s very handsome,” she whispered as though they were two girls in class exchanging secrets. “Very important too.”
     Lily was ready to sink into the floor in embarrassment, like one of her students who had been caught daydreaming in front of the class. What must Jessica think of her, losing her head for a man at a time like this?
     “He is many things,” she answered. Bullish, impossible, and reckless among them.
     Jessica leaned closer, mischief in her eyes. “I know Miss Jones doesn’t approve of any of us having beaux, but—”
     Whatever tidbit Jessica was tempted to share was lost as a wagon rattled to a stop in front of the house. Lily flew to the window, peeking out through the curtains.
     “It’s him!” she gasped before she could stop herself.
     “Oh!” Jessica leapt to fetch Lily’s coat from the rack by the door. “Here! Here!”
     Lily pushed away from the window, tripping over her skirts. Jessica held her coat up and Lily twisted to thrust her arms into the sleeves. As she buttoned the coat’s large buttons, Jessica grabbed her mittens and tam o-shanter from the shelf above the coats. Lily frantically fit the mittens on her shaking hands as Jessica arranged the hat over her hair.
     They were both panting and wide-eyed by the time Christian’s footsteps sounded on the porch. He knocked on the door.
     “You look lovely,” Jessica whispered, bright with excitement.
     Christian knocked again. Lily forced her expression to neutrality and stiffened her back. It was only when she reached for the door that she realized how foolish the whole scene was. She should be grave with concern, not prickling with anticipation.
     A cold blast of air pushed into the house as Lily opened the door. There was Christian, tall and fine in his long, fashionable coat and hat. His face was pink with cold. He hadn’t shaved. His hazel eyes flashed to match the smile that revealed his straight white teeth. Lily’s breath caught in her throat, her body tightening in expectation. She cursed the intensity of her reaction.
     “Good morning,” Christian greeted her as if nothing was wrong, touching the brim of his hat. He glanced past her shoulder to Jessica. “Good morning to you too, Miss Bunsick.”
     “Good morning, Mr. Avery. Nice to see you. I have to drink my tea before it gets cold. Good-bye,” Jessica babbled. As she scurried off, she caught Lily’s eyes and whispered, “Good luck!”
     Lily shut her eyes, her mouth pressed in a tight line. It was the fastest disaster she’d ever encountered.

Merry Farmer Bio:

Merry Farmer is an award-winning author of Historical Romance and what she likes to call “Sci-Fi for Women”.  She lives in suburban Philadelphia with her two cats and enough story ideas to keep her writing until she’s 132.  Her second novel, The Faithful Heart, was a 2102 RONE Award finalist and her unpublished futuristic novel A Man’s World won first place in the Novel: Character category at the 2013 Philadelphia Writer’s Conference.  She is out to prove that you can make a living as a self-published author and to help others to do the same.

Published Works:

Montana Romance series
-           Our Little Secrets
-           Fool for Love
-           In Your Arms (coming November 2013)
-            Somebody to Love (coming in 2014)

As well as the Montana Romance novellas
-           Sarah Sunshine
-           The Indomitable Eve (coming December 2013)
-           Seeks For Her (coming 2014)


Twitter: @merryfarmer20

Book links:

Sarah Sunshine

In Your Arms

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Water the inspiration for Susan's career

Hello Susan and welcome to Adventures in Authorland. Please get comfortable and share with us your writing journey.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I joined a professional writing organization. Two of them. First, Romance Writers of America and the local chapter. I also joined a local critique group for all genres and I realized how little I knew and how far I had to go to improve. I’d not made any money on my manuscripts and had no published works to my name. But it was that moment that I decided to take my ‘hobby’ to the next level and be more serious about it. That is when I considered myself a writer. Not just a dabbler.

 In which genre do you prefer to write and why?
I’d have to say it’s a tie between contemporary romance and romantic suspense. As I’ve improved in my writing and character development, I’m more confident and willing to take more risks. But its not the genres themselves that pull me in; it’s the concept of throwing together two completely different characters that wouldn’t normally connect otherwise without the crazy situation in the story.
That’s not to say that those are the only genres I read. Of course not. I love paranormal, historical, and young adult as well. But I’m the most confident in writing the contemporary and suspense.

You’ve recently signed with a publisher. Tell us about your writing journey before and after this point.

My first contract was on my third manuscript, if that gives anyone an idea. The first two were my ‘practice’ manuscripts, although I didn’t think they were just ‘practice’ at the time. As my skill and voice improved, so did my confidence. I went to conferences and sat in on craft sessions, I took online workshops and read so many books on various topics of fiction writing. When I completed the manuscript for AUDREY’S PROMISE (which took about 8 months, including editing), it was another full year of querying to agents and editors. The Wild Rose Press offered a contract after having the full manuscript for three months, and it was published six months later.
            This business takes A LOT longer than I anticipated to see any results, but it’s not just the destination that drives me, it’s the journey of discovering the characters and growing with them.
            I’m currently working on a romance suspense trilogy. The first is complete, and I’m nine chapters into the second. This is my first ‘series’ story, so there’s a whole new set of things for me to learn and absorb.

Can you give us some details about your upcoming release/s?

AUDREY’S PROMISE was released from The Wild Rose Press in November with Amazon and Barnes & Noble (ebook came out in August). It’s a contemporary romance about a Texas State Senate candidate who reluctantly invites a journalist home with her for Thanksgiving (to see the family side of her life). Things do not go well and chaos ensues. The small town dynamics pull on the emotional side of an otherwise unflappable candidate, all in the presence of a witty yet tortured journalist. While this story is completely fiction, I always throw in small bits of reality. For example, the turkey recipe at the family dinner is my mother’s real recipe. Also, the town of Mackineer is fictional, but the pond by the graveyard is real.

What place inspires you the most?
Water. Oceans, lakes, ponds, rivers, swimming pools. All of my stories have had some form of water in them that inspires or is the safe haven of a main character. I was born in Puerto Rico and lived the first five years of my life on the beach. I was then a springboard diver for twelve years. I LOVE the water. It’s where I hope to retire at some point with my family. For some reason, when I write a setting with water, I’m able to immerse myself in the story and see the characters more clearly.

Do you have any advice for new writers beginning their adventure?

Never quit. Keep going. This is a rough journey for most, but don’t stop. Work on growing a thick skin for the critiques and advice you’ll receive. Take each of those critiques with a grain of salt, but don’t disregard them completely, especially from people who are experienced in this business. Learn to decipher the difference between people who are truly trying to help you improve your story and craft, vs those who are just curmudgeons (there are plenty of those out there). Lastly, do not surround yourself with people who keep telling you nothing more than “I really like it,” or “good job.” Those comments do not help you improve (and EVERYONE can improve). Once again, never quit. Keep writing forward.
Side note: I wrote a short blog post on rules of fiction writing back in 2012. I think it will help here as well.


     Audrey Allen is poised to become the youngest Texas senator, a position that fits her nickname, The Peacemaker. But she's unable to make peace with many in her hometown, where memories and grudges run deep from a decade-old tragedy.
     Ethan Tanner, an ambitious and tantalizing journalist, joins her at Thanksgiving for an in-depth look at the promising candidate. But he has an agenda of his own that's not entirely honorable.
     Ethan could stir up trouble for her budding career, or awaken the deep passions she's buried for so long. Will Ethan find that he values love more than getting the story?


“I’ll be up front, Audrey.” Ethan pulled out a hand recorder. “What ghosts do you have in your closet?” The wink he threw at her didn’t disguise the seriousness of his intent, despite the playful tone.
     “Don’t you mean skeletons?” Miranda interrupted.
     “Nope, ghosts.”
     “What’s the difference?” Miranda eyed the recorder.
     “Skeletons are only scary. Ghosts from your past can truly haunt you.”
     “Aren’t you a little old to believe in ghosts?” Audrey asked with an infectious smile.
     “No. They make my job the most entertaining.” The light flashed in Ethan’s eyes and his grin became wicked. Audrey’s heart thudded against her sternum. It wasn’t fair to look that enticing.
     “Sorry to burst your pubescent bubble, but Halloween is over.” Audrey smiled through Miranda’s chuckle. But she couldn’t take her eyes off Ethan, assessing his resilience. Would he push and badger just like every other journalist? Were his cojones as big as he flaunted?

Susan Sheehey Biography:
Susan writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense and women's fiction. After spending six years in the corporate world, her true passion wouldn't let go and she's been writing ever since. She lives and laughs in Texas with her husband and son.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Murder mystery on the plantation

Hello Gloria, and welcome. Please make yourself comfortable and tell us about your adventure.

What books have most influenced your life most?

The Bible, Cinderella, Dame Wiggins and Her Seven Wonderful Cats, Little Women, The Mistress of Mellyn (the first Victoria Holt book I ever read), and, of course, the first romance novel I ever read (I’d be hard-pressed to tell you the title). These are just a few of the books that made me a reader and encouraged me to be a writer.

What book are you reading now?

Little Big Heart by Dolores J. Wilson.

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite? 

I’ve completed eight books. Five of them have been published and three of them are looking for homes. I have a dozen others in various stages of completion. As far as my favourite goes, I’m just not sure. I loved writing my newest release, WHEN SWALLOWS FALL. For some reason, I just really enjoyed writing it. My favourite is probably Sweet Sacrifices, with Shades of Silence a very close second.

In which genre do you prefer to write and why?

I prefer to write romance because that’s what I like to read. I’ve always loved fairy tales, and I love creating the moments that span the gap between once upon a time and happily ever after.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?  Writing, or something else?

 I wanted to be a writer, a housewife, a mother, a missionary and/or a teacher. I’m not sure how I became a paralegal, but it certainly wasn’t on my list. 

Have you ever cried during a movie? If yes, which one and why?

 Yes! I cry at random moments during movies, even when no one else might understand why. Specifically, I cry each and every time I watch The Family Stone. I keep thinking I’ll stop eventually. I mean, I’ve watched it like five times, but I always end up tearing up at the end. I think it’s because they are such imperfect people with such a perfect, accepting love for each other.
I also cried when I watched Toy Story 3. I went on a field trip with my oldest son to see the first Toy Story, my youngest son was one when the first one came out and he loved Buzz and Woody. By the time the last one was released, they were all grown up and watching Andy go away to college was like watching them grow up all over again – in a 2 hour time span. Now my grandsons are crazy about Toy Story, so if you ask me 15 years from now, my answer will probably be the same.


     Although Ophelia Garrett loved Cade Scott first, it was her sister he married and took home to his plantation. When Ophelia receives word of her sister's murder and Cade's arrest, she travels there on a mission to learn the truth. She soon finds the halls of Almenara are haunted by secrets, peril, and quite possibly her sister's ghost.
     Despite the cold, angry man Cade has become, Ophelia's heart refuses to believe he is a murderer. Vowing to do everything she can to prove his innocence, Ophelia must open wounds she’d hoped were long healed and face the feelings that still burn between her and Cade. 
     As everyone looks to Cade as the suspect, evil haunts the dunes and halls of Almenara, bringing death to two more young women and forcing Ophelia to confront the danger.


     “How did Desi die, Cade?”
     He lifted his head, his face mere inches from mine. Emotion clouded his gaze, and he opened his mouth as if he meant to answer me. Instead, a low moan escaped him and he caught my mouth in the hungry kiss I had dreamed of for six years’ worth of lonely nights. For just a moment, the reason for that loneliness was completely forgotten.
     A cry rent the air, and I jerked away from Cade, guilt and alarm whipping through me in equal measures as I turned to stare at the maid who had finally returned with the broom and dustpan.
     “Oh, Mr. Scott, forgive me, please.”
      “No need for apologies, Susan,” Cade said, bringing the woman’s stammering apology to an end.
      He looked at me, his eyes shadowed with pain. “I am the one who should be sorry. I’ll see you at supper, Ophelia.”
      I was left standing in the hall with the maid, who stared at me with open disdain. Her voice was sharp and cold when she spoke.
      “I thought you were Mrs. Scott, you know. Kissing her husband like that. It made me think Kathleen was right and she had come back from the grave after all.”
      “People don’t come back from the grave, Susan,” I retorted, hoping my haughtiness hid my shame. If Desi were to come back to haunt the halls of the home where she’d died, I was fairly certain what I’d just done would be reason enough for me to be her target.


Romantic suspense author Gloria Davidson Marlow's heart is firmly planted in the northeast Florida neighborhood where she grew up in a family of commercial fishermen. She works as a paralegal for a local law firm, but remains a homemaker at heart who loves cooking, Florida wine, and making pickles and jellies. She and her husband, also a commercial fisherman, have three young grandsons with whom Gloria cannot spend nearly enough time.

Twitter: @gloria_marlow