Today’s Featured Author: Ashley Ladd

I would like to welcome author Ashley Ladd to my blog. Following today’s interview is an excerpt from her latest book, Spooky Sojourn.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a mild-mannered customer service rep by day and a masked crusading erotic romance writer by night. I tried to join the FBI, but unfortunately, I have severe hearing loss from my active duty Air Force days which disqualified me. However, the Air Force sent me through college and I went on to complete my MBA and I function with the aid of hearing aids.

I’m also a wife, mother of five, grandmother of two, and I absolutely adore cats. I love to watch movies on the big screen, take long walks, and swim. I’m a regular Trekkie and Food Network addict.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in Colerain Township. Although I still call that home, I also call South Florida, specifically Fort Lauderdale home. I’ve lived in Broward County (Fort Lauderdale) for the past 24 years.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

Yes. I’m halfway done with “Gaycation”. It’s an MMF about an erotic MM/BDSM romance writer who attends a gay convention to get ideas and she ends up with way more than she bargains for. It’s fun to write so far and I’m sure it’ll be fun to read.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

I wish I could write full time. It’s my dream. But alas, I hold down a full time day job as a customer service representative.

I write between 2-4 hours nightly after I get home from work which is about 1,000 to 3,000 words nightly. You see, my real claim to fame is that I type about 96 wpm. I also try to write for a few hours each on Saturday and Sunday.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I make a very loose outline. I’m more of a pantser and let the story unfold as I go. I know the ending and a few high points in the middle but let the road wind around. I’d be too bored with the story if it was completely mapped out before hand.

What inspired you to write this book?

I stayed in a haunted hotel when I attended a romance writer’s convention about twelve years ago. It was a fun adventure and I promised myself I’d write a book inspired by it. Spooky Sojourn was finally born.

How did you come up with the title?

I was surfing the Internet and saw the phrase “Spooky Sojourn” and thought it fit my book.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

I love Harry DeVeaux. He’s so charming and sexy I wish I was theheroine so he could be my hero.

I really dislike Roxanne Cambridge, the villain.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

It would be Haley because she dresses up as Catwoman and saves her hero (repeatedly) from the bad guys. She even jumps her motorcycle over a police car. She’s awesome and has a ton of fun. Haley’s in Purrfect Justice published by Ellora’s Cave.

Or maybe Deanna. She’s chasing ghosts and going to séances. Deanna’s in Spooky Sojourn which will be published by Totally Bound in October of this year.

If you could jump in to any book, and live in that world, which would it be?

Probably Make-believe Lover. Becca and her cat Gizmo are transported into the alternate dimension of her favorite comic book world. In this world, Gizmo speaks English. In fact, he won’t shut up! He’s a riot and he tries to steal the show. She gets to fly around on dragons and she has a super hottie for a hero. Make-believe Lover is published by Ellora’s Cave.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I twirled flags in high school and again in the Air Force Drum Bugle & Corps. We marched in the New Orleans Mardis Gras Parade.

Excerpt

Wow!

Deanna reread her fantasy, barely able to believe she’d penned it, wondering if she should delete it. Did she really want to make out with Harry, a perfect stranger, on a public beach? Did she really want her words on the Internet, even in a supposedly private blog under a make-believe name?

Well, it was confidential, right? As long as she didn’t give anybody the web address or password or tell them about it, it would remain secret.

Enough fantasizing! She had to get back to work. Dragging the files out, she familiarized herself with the ghost sightings as well as Lynette’s and Grant’s history. By the time she finished, she knew how they’d died and the theories about their suicides-slash-murders. She also knew that everybody was afraid to point fingers at the now very influential and powerful Roxanne Cambridge-Anderson. Could Roxanne be behind the haunting nonsense? Did she want the hotel shut down? But that made no sense. The rumors portrayed Roxanne as a murderess. It wouldn’t be in her best interest to keep their legend alive.

Deanna’s temples began to ache the harder she thought about everything, so she decided to go to sleep. Hopefully she’d awake if any hijinks took place in the bowling alley.

About three a.m., deafening booms awoke her. Light brightened lane fourteen and all but one pin lay scattered on the wooden floor.

Groggy, Deanna tried to gather her senses. She looked around then, to her horror, she saw an iridescent figure of a man on lane fourteen picking up a glowing ball. Collecting her presence of mind, she grabbed her webcam, pointed it at the ghostly shape and turned it on. Shaking, she tried to hold her computer steady. Not believing what she was seeing, she knew there had to be a rational explanation. Perhaps some machine was projecting the image onto the lanes. Perhaps a real person stood in front of her in glowing phosphorescent powder.

Whatever or whoever it was, picked up the ball, and knocked down the spare pin. Then the ‘apparition’ bowled three strikes in a row.

Unexpectedly, he turned and glared at her, fire shooting from his eyes. Pins flew from all the lanes at her. Her heart racing, she ducked under the score table.

Book Blurb

spookysojourn_800Someone’s trying to kill Deanna, but is it the ghosts she doesn’t believe in, the rich socialite who might be a murderess, or someone else with a beef against The Gilroy Hotel and Resort that Deanna has just been hired to manage?  The Gilroy’s owners want the ghosts, or whoever is causing the trouble at the hotel eliminated, and they are pressuring Deanna to do the job as quickly as possible. Harry DeVeaux, paranormal investigator comes highly recommended to do the job and against Deanna’s better judgment, she hires him.

Although Deanna thinks Harry’s crazy for believing in ghosts and Harry thinks Deanna has a closed mind to the possibilities of ghosts and they highly annoy each other, sparks fly. Deanna can’t help but fantasize about Harry and inspired by a romance convention visiting her hotel, writes her fantasies in a private blog that Harry finds, hacks, and reads. Ooh la la!

About the Author

Ashley LaddAshley Ladd lives in South Florida with her husband, five children and beloved pets. She loves water, cats and playing on the computer.

She’s often incorporates humor and adventure into her books. She also adores very spicy romance which she weaves into her stories.

You can find out more about Ashley on her blog or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase her books on Amazon.

Working on my second draft

I finished the first draft on my current work in progress at the end of September. Now to many a first draft is just getting the story down.

If you use an outline and plotted out your story, it might be in good shape. Or you may have just written whatever came to you and have a lot of work to do before reaching the final product.

As I have mentioned in the past, I write the first draft and edit it at the same time. As I am writing out the story, my husband is reading chapters and making comments – “expand here,” “I don’t understand this,” or “This is good.”

Based on his comments, I go back and rewrite sections as I continue to write the rest of the story. (I don’t use an outline per se but am not a total by-the-seat-of-her-pants type gal either. I usually have the next few chapters planned out but not the whole story other than a general idea of where I want it to go.)

So now that my first draft is done, it is on to my second draft. Every author does things differently. Since I have really already fleshed out a lot of my novel, there is less of that to do in this second draft. My main purpose with this draft is to read through my novel looking for consistency and where I can amend the story (either by trimming it, fleshing it out or developing subplots).

I read through the whole 98,000 words without making too many corrections. I will add a word or two here if one is left out or correct the spelling of a word, but I try not to get into re-writing at this stage. As I read, I am making notes of areas that need work. I am also writing down some events to make sure I am consistent with them.

In this latest work, my main character has visions. I have been jotting down what happens in each one to make sure what she can see is consistent in each one. She also has premonition dreams, and I have been writing down each dream to make sure that when they happen later that the action matches match up with the dream. It really is all about consistency at this point.

Now once I have read through and made my notes, my second draft isn’t done until I go back and make all those changes. Now I don’t make the changes as I am reading it as I don’t want to get bogged down with making corrections. I need to read it straight through to be able to pay attention to all those details.

When these corrections are done, I can use my revision outline to tighten my writing, perfect word choices and descriptions and cut unnecessary words. And when I get to that stage, it will be my third draft. There will probably be at least one more draft after that before it is completed.

So glad the end feels near…though for me, it is the third draft that requires the most work (after the first draft, of course).

Teamwork is the focus in my son’s co-taught, third-grade class

Jase started third grade this year and for the first time, he is being taught in a co-teaching atmosphere. In the past, he has always had one teacher who has about 20 students.

This year he was assigned to Mrs. Y’s class. She has 22 students. She, however, co-teaches with the teacher next door, Mrs. S who has 23 students. They share three classrooms worth of space.

3rd grade

There are many types of co-teaching  such as parallel, team, alternating, and station. In his class, they mix several of these varieties depending on what they are doing.

I would say parallel teaching is their main focus. Their schedules are the same. So if one is teaching science in her classroom, the other is also teaching the same science lesson in her own classroom. If one teacher is stronger in one subject, they might actually combine the classes for a lecture and then break into groups to put the lesson into practice.

Along this same line, when they do math, Mrs. Y teaches 10-12 kids, and Mrs. S teaches 10-12 kids. The remaining kids are divided into groups of 4-5 students (some from each class) and rotate through four different math stations. The kids are encouraged to work together and discuss the math problems at each station, and both teachers (along with a classroom helper) check on each station periodically.

This method of discussing and working together is used throughout the day. Whenever they are not in “lecture” mode, the teachers have the students pair up or work in groups. There is almost nothing that they do individually except for taking a test.

The teachers are constantly encouraging the kids to explain how they reached their conclusions. This allows the other students to see that you can get the right answer multiple ways.

Now co-teaching is not new. Co-teaching is about the two teachers working together. Yes, there are times when the classes retreat to their own areas but the majority of the time, the kids are intermingled and working together.

Their classroom is also set up to be changeable. The tables are on rollers so that the configuration can be set up to meet whatever the teachers need. They have projectors hooked up to their computers so all kids can see what they are talking about in multiple locations, and both teachers have auditory systems that can project their voices to either their own or both classrooms as necessary.

I find it a unique setup from what we are used to. And Jase really loves the format. It helps that Mrs. S and Mrs. Y work so well together. This is their third year teaching this way.

Our principal likes it so much that he has recommended all the classes be set up the same way. So Lexie’s class is set up with three classrooms too but her teacher and the teacher next door do only a small part of their day together. They by no means have the system down as well as Jase’s teachers. But it is a start, and I suspect the next year her classes will be more like Jase’s was this year. Or at least I hope so because I like this teaching method.

Today’s Featured Author: Chris R. Pownall

Today, please welcome Chris R. Pownall to my blog.

Interview

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

During my long career in technical sales, I had to produce a lot of reports, and over the years, I worked at improving my writing skills. Throughout my last couple of years, I was tasked with producing strategic marketing plans for countries including China, India, South Africa, plus several European countries. This served to further improve my written presentational skills.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences is in your books?

I would hope that my biographical books capture my true personality, and my experiences in life, is what they are all about.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? 

For me, writing is a pass-time and a hobby. Retirement from full-time work as an Industry Marketing Director didn’t come easy, as I missed the challenges of a very busy lifestyle. Writing provides new challenges as English grammar was never my best subject.

I write a little most days but it doesn’t dominate my life.

Following my retirement, my home office became my study where I do my writing. My wife Pat calls it my den!!

We both enjoy walking in the countryside, and we are seeing lots of places around the world by taking as many cruise holidays as we can comfortably afford.

Mornings are when I do my writing and this can begin as early as 05-00am, depending upon how well I have slept.

 What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

Writing provides a sense of purpose, in addition to family life and travel. It brings a certain discipline to how I spend just a few hours each day. I’m not a good reader, therefore, I need something to occupy my mind and provide a reason for research and a quest for further knowledge.

Once I start a project, I see it as a challenge until it is completed.

Do you outline your books or just start writing.

Before my retirement, I started writing my memoirs, with no specific structure to what I was doing. Basically, I ran out of steam, and decided to delete the lot.

Following my retirement, I reflected upon my earlier failure and considered a framework around which I could build. I decided upon five chapters and had several underway, at any one time.

Now, no matter what I am doing, be it a book project, or a magazine article, I set out a plan before putting flesh on the bones.

 Please tell us about your current release.

My current release entitled Majestic Norway, is a short book about our recreational travels in Norway. It is not intended to be a travel guide, rather, an account of our observations, experiences, and lasting impressions of this magnificent country.

I hope it will bring some pleasure to those less fortunate in their scope of travel, and maybe of some assistance to anyone planning a trip to Norway.

If I find there is a significant demand for this type of book, I shall no doubt contemplate writing more.

What inspired you to write this book?

I make notes everywhere I go, and it’s almost become a habit. During our recent trip to Norway, I thought I would like to share some of the places and points of interest along the way. It’s a little like my working days when reporting about a business trip. I get great pleasure recording details of our travels, and it’s much easier than writing fiction, when I’m wearing the hat of Rusty Nock!! (Rusty Nock is a pseudonym under which I have written three erotic novels.)

Book Blurb

funny how things work outMy first book entitled ‘Funny How Things Work Out’ is my memoirs, containing a few revelations that might make some individuals cringe. True to say, I have had a colourful life and my employment has provided much opportunity to travel to faraway places, and experience many interesting things. With the exception of the first three chapters, the book is not structured in chronological sequence; instead it covers specific subject matters in separate chapters, which overlap in time. The book focuses upon the humorous aspects of my life, which have occurred in many forms.

Other books by Chris Pownall include Onwards and Upwards, A Long Journey Back, Dane Mills Bosley, This is the Life, Spanning a Lifetime and Majestic Norway.

Author Bio

CRP book signing - Copy[1]Author Chris R. Pownall, who now resides in Nottinghamshire England, was born in 1943 in the rural Cheshire village of Bosley.

Chris failed his 11+ examination and received a secondary modern school education, leaving full time education at 15 years of age, with no academic qualifications to his name. He managed to secure an engineering apprenticeship at a nearby mill and attended Macclesfield College of further education, studying mechanical engineering until the age of 22 years.

Upon completion of his education and apprenticeship, Chris was promoted to the drawing office, but after 18 months in this responsible job, he decided it was time to move on.

In 1967, he joined the Merchant Navy, serving with the famous Blue Funnel Line, as an Assistant Engineering Officer. Whilst this was exciting and adventurous, Chris decided a life at sea was not for him, so following his initial training and one voyage to the Far East, he called it a day.

To further his engineering knowledge, he obtained employment as a design draughtsman, working for an engineering manufacturing company, and eighteen months later, he was employed by James Walker & Co Ltd, which marked the beginning of a forty year career in technical sales.

Chris progressed within the James Walker organisation, in a succession of sales management roles, finishing as an Industry Marketing Director, specialising in high performance sealing technology, within the global Metallurgical Industries. This role was to take him on many overseas travels, and in the last two years of his employment, he focused upon writing strategic market plans for some existing, plus new sales territories.

Although Chris has a loving wife Pat, retirement didn’t come easy, and after a few months, he was missing the demands of his occupation, with the days seeming endless.

He decided to take up writing and to date he has published seven books, with a possibility of more on the way. Writing has provided Chris with a retirement interest, as well as a major challenge, giving him great satisfaction, when a difficult project is finally completed.

Chris has a long standing reputation for being there when things go wrong and there are many examples of this in his three autobiographical books. He has encountered freak weather in faraway places and some of his working colleagues were reluctant to travel with him, knowing that something unpleasant was more likely to occur if he was around. Earthquakes and tornedoes in China to ice storms in the USA are among Chris’ encounters with Mother Nature.

Humour has always played an important part in Chris’ life, which manifests itself in his written work. He has witnessed many amusing situations throughout seven decades of life and he has appreciated the humorous side of everyday living.

As in most people’s lives, Chris and Pat have had their share of sadness, when at the age of eighteen, their son Robert, suffered a near fatal head injury. This was a life changing situation, which required great courage and determination on the part of their son Robert as well as unrelenting support from their Daughter Tracey, for Robert to regain his life after this tragic event.

Please visit Chris’ website www.amazing-life-stories.webs.com, You can purchase any of his books on Amazon.

E-book press releases often don’t bring results

Many authors tout the importance of sending out press releases to announce your latest release or the writing award you just received. So far, I have yet to do this with any of my e-books.

I don’t do this mainly because I have been on the other side. I was the features editor of my college newspaper. I was inundated with press releases and freebies. Barely 1 to 2 percent of what came in would make it into our weekly publication.

There are just so many authors out there. Hundreds of new books are published daily. Editors of magazines and newspapers receive thousands of press releases. And here is the thing – they DO NOT read them. They scan them. If there isn’t anything that catches their attention in less a few seconds, they discard the press release.

Another reason I have not considered sending a press release to my local paper is that they have never published anything from independent authors and certainly nothing that is only available in e-book format. That isn’t to say that if you live in a smaller city that your newspaper will not cover your release or award but I live the seventh largest city in the United States. I am sure the editors are overwhelmed with notices from authors.

I guess instead of worrying about our main daily paper, I could always try a few of the smaller community weekly papers. And in fact, I may just give press releases a try when my next novel is released in a few months.

So for those of you wanting to send out a press release….

Tips for writing a press release

  • Keep it brief – no longer than one page
  • No flowery writing – simple is better
  • Keep it professional
  • Write in the third person
  • Target your recipient’s readers/viewers (If sending to local paper, might focus on the community/local angle)
  • Keep it to one page!
  • End the press release with ###

Example structure of a Press Release

(I was going to write an example but ran out of time to do it justice so here is the breakdown of what to include.)

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (or enter date)

Contact: Name, email & phone number

Short, catchy headline

Your city & State – Opening paragraph should only be 1-2 sentence and cover the who, what, where, when of your press release. Include your name, book title and why it is relevant to target readers.

Second, third and fourth paragraphs are where you add more detail about the plot, yourself or both. You can consider including a quote from the author. Remember you are writing in the third person and should refer only to your last name after your name is mention in first paragraph. Example – “This is an amazing adventure,” Noble said.

About the Author

A short author bio featuring your writing credentials. (This is only a few sentences!)

###

Be sure to include a high-resolution author photo and a copy of your book cover.

Where to submit a press release

  • Local newspapers – try to send it to the relevant reporter/editor or department. If you are emailing it, pitch the story in your email message and not as an attachment.
  • PRLog.org – this is a free website that can distribute your press release. They do offer paid services with more features.
  • Your own website – Make sure to post it on your own site as a blog entry or its own page so it might be catch some search engine traffic.
  • Magazines or ezines that fit the subject or genre of your book
  • 50 other press release sites – This is an older list but still might direct you to some sites where you can publish your press release

And of course, make sure you follow up with the press releases that you do send out.