Friday, May 29, 2015

Summer on the Water - Francis Guenette, Season 2, episode 3

Today I welcome Canadian author Francis Guenette to my blog. While I live on the east coast, Francis lives on the shores of a lake out in the western part of our grand country! And if you read any of her mysteries in the Crater Lake series, I'm sure you will be hooked!

But first, let's meet her!

Francis, what are your stories about?

Lives are shaped by the places in which they are lived. My novels are set in a rural landscape and they focus on the vagaries of human relationships. I write fiction to explore the many ways people deal with loss and the challenges of remaking their lives, to delve into the inevitable complications that come about when someone takes the risk of moving forward and to emphasize that rebuilding a life occurs in starts and stops. 

Describe for the readers, the body of water near where your stories are set?

I live perched above the shores of a beautiful lake. The body of water in my novels has the fictitious name of Crater Lake. I chose a lakeside setting because as a beginning novelist, I felt it would be useful to have a vivid sense of where my characters lived. After twenty plus years beside my lake, I know it well. 

I'm sure you do! Does Crater Lake have any personal significance for you?

Living near water has always been a given in my life. I grew up within a stone’s throw of a mighty river. The fishing fleet chugged up and down and a small ferry made its way across the deceivingly sluggish, brown water. I spent significant holiday time on the shores of a pristine lake. As an adult, I raised my children in a seaside town with the waves of the Pacific Ocean rolling in just beyond the backyard; high and low tides, storms, wharfs, boats, seaplanes and freshly caught fish were everyday occurrences, sights and pleasures. Now, my home is on a cliff above a lake. Always, bodies of water have pervaded my days and nights. I agree with Henry David Thoreau who wrote, “The lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and impressive feature. It is the earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his [or her] own nature.”

Here's a fun question - if you were asked to give a Ted Talk, what would it be about?

The Evolution of a Novel Writer. I have always been a person who wrote – journals, letters and academic articles. My mother wrote as well, but she was a writer of stories. It was as if we had staked out different claims in the world of writing – my mother to create from the heart in the realms of the imaginary and I to write from the head in the real world. Over time, I came to understand the close relationship between our two worlds. The type of nonfiction writing I did was rife with heart and it was obvious my mother’s stories required more than a fair dose of headwork. Even so, I didn’t feel the call to write fiction until my mother had been dead for several years. During my long walks on paths near our home, always within sight of the lake, the small seed of a story began to take root. The leaves on its tender stalk were characters, clustered together and taking shape. Deeply curious, I wanted to know more about them. I started to jot down answers to my questions and from those random musings came my first novel. Everything in my past and present life has become a well to draw upon. I write fiction informed by a lived reality – it is head and heart and soul and I think my mother would be proud.  

Francis, that certainly does sound intriguing! Where can readers find you? Your books sound like perfect summer reads!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Summer on the Water: Christine Ardigo, Season 2, Episode 2

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the second in the Summer on the Water blog. This week I am featuring an interview with contemporary romance author, Christine Ardigo, an online friend of mine. Both of us are Indie published with Alexandria Publishing Group. Head on over there for some great books for this summer!

Welcome Christine. 

Hello everyone! Happy Memorial Day weekend for those of you that celebrate and I hope after this Loooooong winter, you’re sitting in your backyard, or at the beach, with a book, and a cool drink. I have some questions I’m thrilled to answer for you about the beaches of Long Island, New York, and my book, Every Five Years.

After watching her parents struggle financially for years, Heather Di Pietro, a quirky, non-conformist, is persuaded by her best friend to date the rich and popular Lance Milanesi, believing he is the path to happiness. But when Nicolo, a vibrant new employee starts at her job, something stirs insides her, and she second-guesses her choice.

Nicolo has spent his entire life making others happy, while taking the back seat to his own happiness. When Heather's dynamic personality finds a way into his heart, she makes him believe he can conquer the world. A close friendship and loving bond soon develops, but it's quickly destroyed, separating them before they reveal their true feelings for one another.

Five years later, a chance encounter reunites them, taking them both by surprise.

Torn between losing each other again, and the emotions they can no longer suppress, they launch into a love affair more powerful than they ever imagined. Spending their days on the beach and their nights in each other’s arms, Heather discovers what true love is, and knows she must leave Lance.

With love this perfect, what could tear them apart a second time?

Heather and Nicolo continue to cross paths every five years, giving them the opportunity to recover what they lost. Will they ever reach out and grasp what was meant to be, or will their fears continue to keep them apart?

Why did you choose a beach theme and are the bodies of water in your story real? Does the water have special meaning to you?

Having grown up on Long Island myself, I wanted the reader to experience the unforgettable moments I had. You know, those days on the beach when the weather and waves are so perfect, you stay until the sun sets? I included scenes from Robert Moses Beach on the South Shore, and Sunken Meadow Beach on the North Shore that overlooks Connecticut. Of course, I had to include scenes with concealed boardwalks, obscured docks, and private dunes. Even driving along the Robert Moses Causeway while the sun sets and the sky becomes a rainbow of color, is illustrated in the scenes that make you feel as if you’re there with them.

Heather and Nicolo, the main characters in the book, have both grown up on Long Island. Nicolo, the fun-loving, outdoorsy type, convinces Heather to start enjoying her life, and takes her to the beach every chance they get. They spend an incredible summer along the shore, and fall in love.

I wanted many of the book’s scenes to take place outside with all the wonders Long Island has to offer. Even after Heather and Nicolo go their separate ways, their love remains connected through the beaches. Nicolo brings his future dates to restaurants on the water or to the beach, thinking about Heather each time. Heather brings her daughters back to the beach frequently, desperately holding onto her past.

Why did you choose to self-publish and what have you accomplished?

Once I read articles on the benefits of self-publishing, I knew there was no other way for me. Today is officially one year since I published my first book, Cheating to Survive! I have made an incredible amount of author friends along the way that have invited me into their secret groups; asked me to participate in blog hops and author takeovers; I’ve been adopted into the Alexandria Publishing group; had my books excepted into a big bookstore in my home town, and also into several, local public libraries. I also just found out that I'll be doing my first book signing on June 14th! 

I’m excited to report, that in 5 days, on May 27th, I’m one of the 10 authors in the much anticipated boxset about Women that have Loved, Lost & Triumphed, that will be available for preorder. These women have seen it all, whether it’s marriage, children, divorce, or betrayal, and are here to tell their stories to you. Love & Passion really does exist on the other side of 30. Are you ready? Check out my Facebook page in 5 days for more exciting details of the secret anthology we’ve worked on for almost a year. 

So, the question remains - Did I have a ton of sales this year? Make the NY Times bestseller list? Make a lot of money? No. (Not yet!) But, although the daily sales are still low, (it’s only been a year) when I look back over the year, and realize how many people did find my books interesting enough to buy them, and then left me a great review, it’s Priceless! I have a third book in the works and I know the more I publish, the more I’ll have out there for readers to enjoy.

One piece of advice: The hardest thing to learn was patience. It’s hard not to focus on daily sales and reviews, or to obsess over other author’s successes, but looking back, I’ve accomplished so much over the past year. Things I can be proud of. A part of me will always live through my books. I know in time, as I build my audience and publish more books, this can only grow. How can this ever be a negative?

Thanks for this lovely visit today! Where can readers find you Christine?




Amazon author page

Friday, May 8, 2015

Summer on the Water: Beverley Watts, Season 2, Episode 1

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to another summer of guest author interviews. You may remember that last year I featured Indie authors who self-publish their short stories. It was great fun meeting so many wonderful authors.

This summer, to honor the release of Night Watch, book #1 in my new mystery sailing series, I'm featuring Indie published novels set near bodies of water—the sea, a lake, a stream. I'm not picky!

I've got some great authors lined up and I'm sure you'll want to come back every Friday throughout the summer to meet them.

Today it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to British romance author, Beverley Watts.

What is your story/novella/novel about? Give readers a brief elevator pitch.

Claiming Victory is a very funny romantic comedy. It is set in the beautiful town of Dartmouth situated on the banks of the River Dart in the south west of England. While it is a stand-alone story, it’s also the first in a series of books entitled The Dartmouth Diaries.

The main character, Victory Shackleford, is a spinster, or at least well on the way to becoming one. She’s thirty two years old, still lives with her father who’s an eccentric retired Admiral, and the love of her life is a dog.

She has spent most of her adult life since her mother’s death looking after her father, who she thinks is reckless, irresponsible, and totally incapable of looking after himself. Unfortunately her father’s not particularly appreciative of the lengths to which Tory goes to keep him out of trouble. In his opinion, his daughter is a boring nagging harpy with no imagination or sense of adventure and what’s more, he’s determined to get her married off.

However, there’s no one in the small yachting haven of Dartmouth that Tory is remotely interested in, despite her father’s best efforts.

But all that is about to changes when she discovers that her madcap father has rented out their house as a location shoot for the biggest blockbuster of the year. As cast and crew descend, Tory’s humdrum orderly existence is turned completely upside down, especially as the lead actor has just been voted the sexiest man on the planet…

At the moment I’m putting the finishing touches to Book Two of the Dartmouth Diaries. Sweet Victory continues the story started in Claiming Victory, and will be available on Amazon at the end of this month.

My current plan is to write five books in the series, but who knows, I might go to six…

2. Since this is a ‘Summer on the Water blog’, I want to know why did you choose the theme of water for your story? What body of water you set your story near? Is this a real lake/ocean/river, or is it fictitious?

I chose Dartmouth as the place where my series would be set, basically because it holds a very special place in my heart – not least because I met my husband there. It is situated on the banks of the River Dart in South Devon, England. The river flows down from the wilds of Dartmoor (which you might remember from the movie War Horse) and finally spills into the sea at Dartmouth. The town is quite simply the most wonderful place. Full of quaint tea shops and old inns, many of the buildings date back to the middle ages. It’s extremely popular with the yachting fraternity and there is a constant stream of boats sailing up and down the river and out into the sea at the mouth of the Dart - from million pound ‘gin palaces’ to little two man dinghies. There is always something interesting to see.

Dartmouth is also home to the British Royal Navy’s premier officer training establishment, and this is another reason I chose this area as the setting for my series. Britannia Royal Naval College (or BRNC as it’s known in naval circles) is the British Royal Navy’s officer training establishment. It’s a magnificently imposing Edwardian building built high on a hill overlooking the river. and nearly every officer in the Royal Navy started life as a cadet within its hallowed walls. The college’s location was chosen for the safe sheltered harbour provided by the River Dart (and possibly for the difficulty that cadets would have getting to the bright lights of... well anywhere).

It is an accepted fact that the Royal Navy’s officer training standards are among the best in the world and consequently a number of foreign navies who don’t have their own training establishments send their young officers to be trained by the RN.

Many of the International officer cadets who come through Dartmouth are from the Middle East and require English Language Training to enable them to undertake the Royal Navy’s Officer Training Course which is obviously delivered in English.

During my time at the College, I worked for a private training company whose job was to provide English Language Training to the International Cadets thus enabling them to complete their officer training alongside the British Cadets. I can tell you hand on heart that in 8 years there was never a dull moment...

3. Does water, and specifically the body of water you set your story beside, have any special meaning for you personally?

During my time at BRNC, the River Dart played such a large part in my life. While I worked on one side of the river, my home was in Paignton, a seaside town about seven miles away - on the opposite side of the river. There is no bridge over the Dart so I spent many an hour waiting to get onto the car ferry - especially during the summer months when the holiday season was in full swing.

I first met my husband when he was a Lieutenant Commander based at the College. During his time there, he had a yacht named Compass Rose which was moored on the River Dart. The yacht provided my first experiences of anything larger than a rowing boat and the river was my school.

My husband and I used to spend weekends on Compass Rose and our time on board was so very special. We’d wake up in the morning and sit with that first cup of coffee, simply watching the way the incredible light reflected on the water. It was wonderfully peaceful, with only the noise of the sea gulls and the humphing noises made by seals lying basking in the sunshine on the pontoon a few yards away. It’s the nearest I’ve ever been to paradise...

When my husband was transferred up to a naval base in Scotland, we sailed Compass Rose to her new mooring on the banks of the River Clyde in a town called Helensburgh. It was probably the most memorable experience of my life (note I say ‘memorable’, not necessarily pleasurable…) When we finally sailed up the River Clyde I felt a little bit like Scott of the Antarctic must have felt when he reached the South Pole…

4. You are a couple after my own heart! My husband and I always enjoy time aboard our sailboat Mystery. Now to change the subject a bit, why did you choose to self-publish? How is the process going for you? Do you plan to continue as an Indie author? 

I wrote my first book – An Officer and a Gentleman Wanted - as I always said I would write a book about my experiences at Britannia Royal Naval College. There were so many funny incidents and I found I really enjoyed writing comedy. Writing Claiming Victory was the first big challenge for me as this was complete fiction. But I wanted to write about somewhere I knew and loved. To be honest it never occurred to me to try and get a publishing contract. I have found the whole indie experience to be actually rather enjoyable. Of course it can be disheartening if you receive a negative review but that’s a fact of life – no matter how good your book is, you will never please everybody. I’ve pretty much learned about self publishing as I’ve gone along.

My advice to authors who are thinking of self publishing for the first time is, Write what you enjoy and don’t worry too much about negative reviews. However, always make sure that your book is edited properly. Poor editing is probably one of the biggest complaints made by reviewers of books written by Indie authors. That said, don’t spend forever trying to perfect your story. Get the book out. You can spend a ridiculous amount of time attempting to ‘make it better’ and while you’re writing the next War and Peace, time is moving on...

5. Here is a question I am asking all of my writers this summer - You are asked to give a Ted Talk. What will it be about?

As I mentioned earlier, my role at BRNC was to facilitate the teaching of English Language to young, international cadets from mostly Middle Eastern navies who did not have their own training establishments. While I was at the College, I learned a lot about the importance of Defence Diplomacy and the role that international training within BRNC and other military establishments, plays in an uncertain and volatile world.

So if I were to give a Ted Talk, it would be about the difficulties faced by Middle Eastern International cadets being trained by the British Royal Navy, not to mention some of the challenges faced by those doing the actual training…

Where can readers find you?

Twitter:  @beverleywatts

To purchase Claiming Victory: