Today’s Featured Author: Lisa Poston Murphy

Today on my blog I have author Lisa Poston Murphy. She recently released her debut novel Lighthouse Point.

Interview

First, a huge thank you to Susan for hosting me on her blog!

You are welcome. Could you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Hello, my name is Lisa. I live happily in my world with a gorgeous husband and two amazing children. I should also mention a dog, bunny, and two empty fish tanks (some don’t have a green thumb; we apparently don’t have scales on ours.)

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

I think we all write about what we know, and then exaggerate to the nth degree. My first book has a lot of my own personality and voice, but the rest do not. I try to get in the mind of my character, giving her/him quirks, personality traits, and a voice. It’s fun to pretend you’re someone else, and you can do that when writing.

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?

Yes—sort of. During the day, while my husband is at work and children are in school, I write. I’m also editing and critiquing other writers’ works, trying to maintain a blog, and an author page. Housekeeping has never been my gift. However since I’ve been writing, it’s really taken a backseat.

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

A passion that cannot be easily quenched has erupted in me. My second project, TORN, is in the critiquing stage, while books three and four are being written. I awake in the middle of the night scribbling notes for the last two works in progress. It’s maddening, but wonderful to have the words flowing.

TORN is about a woman who grew up in foster care, forced into human trafficking, rescued and restored, and falls in love. Memories of her past come flooding back, threatening to destroy all she’s worked for. When she retells the details of her past to her fiancé, he lets her go. Healing in the arms of a mysterious stranger, her fiancé tries to win her back. Now she is torn between facing the past with her fiancé, or moving on and leaving the secrets safely buried.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

I’m fueled by the journey. As a writer I’m able to travel to faraway places, do things I’ve never dreamed, say things I wouldn’t normally say . . . all while sitting at my desk with a cup of Earl Grey.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

Good question—and one I recently struggled with. After the second book, Torn, was finished, I had nothing. There wasn’t anything exciting going on in my life or around me. I feared I wouldn’t have anything to write about and this path had ended all too quickly.

I sat down, and began to type. It was terrible nonsense. Then I began typing some what-ifs. What if my husband decided to leave me for a younger woman . . . what if we were faced with a tragedy?

It proved to be a good exercise, and once my fingers got used to clicking away at the keys again, my imagination followed.

I also use my notes app on the iPhone to record ideas. In the airport I saw a man with features worthy of writing about. He wasn’t necessarily attractive, but he was memorable. I noted the features and will use them in a story. These are the kinds of things I enjoy about writing. Everyone has a story, everyone has an alter ego waiting to be unleashed.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I type up a quick outline to fall back on if needed. However, I let the story lead. If it strays from the outline, I let it.

Please tell us about your current release. 

lighthouse pointLighthouse Point is a sweet, tension-filled island romance novel. Here is the blurb on the back of the book:

Twenty-four-year-old Emma Peroni has never been a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of girl, traveling fourteen hours away from her neatly organized life to an island that promises sanctuary and a fresh start . . . until today.

With the weight of the world on her shoulders, and no family to catch her when she crumbles, Emma finds solace on Sanibel Island.

Falling into the arms of Sheldon Barringer, a handsome local real estate investor, was not part of the plan. Emma manages to resist his charms for a time and focus on the reason she came here—to be alone and escape the night terrors. However Sheldon’s intoxicating sense of humor and easy personality eventually captivate Emma, sweeping her into the delightful experience of falling in love for the first time.

As Emma and Sheldon begin to plan a future together, trouble lurks in the shadows, waiting and watching

What inspired you to write this book?

While vacationing on Sanibel Island one summer, I looked for a romance novel to read on the beach. Not able to find what I was looking for, I decided to write what I wanted to read. It was meant to be just for me—no one would ever see it. Almost one hundred thousand words later, I gave it to an editor who is a friend of mine. She thought I had something special, so we tightened it up, deleted around fifteen thousand words, and voila!

How did you come up with the title?

Lighthouse Point has been my favorite spot on the island since I was a child. The main characters meet here.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

Like I said, I’ve been vacationing on the island since infancy. However, I did have to do a lot of research—honestly I enjoyed this most. I interviewed two detectives for details on a crime scene.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

Yes, Nana is really my Nana and one of the characters Grace, is based after my Aunt Gerri.

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

Emma is my favorite. She’s independent, confident, and strong—mentally and physically. She can do handstand pushups, something I’d love to master!

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

It was difficult to write the depressing scenes. Since I dive in completely, I take on the personality of my characters. When Emma was sad, so was I. Ending the book was also difficult. I missed the characters desperately.

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

Emma. As I’ve said above—she can do handstand pushups!

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

Wow, this question will stick with me and I’ll most likely change my mind a hundred times. My first reaction is Kate McGregor from Master of the Game by Sidney Sheldon. She was strong-willed, strong-minded, and made all of her dreams come true. Of course, she made mistakes, so maybe I should say Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. But I like hot showers and flip-flops.

My final answer is Emma. I’ll take her place and sit in the sand at Lighthouse Point—watching the waves roll in over my toes as the sun caresses my shoulders.

Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

I always have a hot-turned cold cup of Earl Grey beside me. If I brew 5 cups, I’ve sipped the equivalent to one. I’m very distracted when writing and often lose track of time.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

Master of the Game by Sidney Sheldon. It was the first adult novel I read and blew my mind. I’ve read it several times and if Mr. Sheldon were still alive, he would be the only person that could cause me to be star-struck in his presence.

What book are you reading right now?

Long Time Coming by Edie Clare. I’m having trouble getting into it, probably because of the timing—a lot going on right now. Also, the last book, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, is hard to follow.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

I mentioned above, Sidney Sheldon, but since he has passed, I’ll pick two more.

Stephen King: he has a brilliant mind. I’d love to know where his ideas come from, and how many nightmares wake him in the middle of the night.

Gillian Flynn: Again, I’d like to get inside her head. We all have twisted thoughts. I’d like to know how they present them on paper in such an organized, mind-blowing fashion.

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

I have won many Skeet shooting events. My uncle was world champion twelve years in a row and it rubbed off. In high school I was the girl with the oversized bow tied around a carefully curled and heavily hair sprayed ponytail, with a shotgun.

About the Author

Lisa MurphyLisa Poston Murphy is a former Registered Nurse, wife, and mother-of-two, residing in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Her debut novel, Lighthouse Point, was released in July 2013.

You can find out more about Lisa on her website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase Lighthouse Point on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

First Draft: Editing and Writing at the Same Time

One of my past posts was about writing your first draft. My advice to new writers was to just begin writing and not worry about editing until you had everything down. And this is great advice, but it isn’t how my first draft goes.

Now the way I write will certainly not work for everyone, but I thought I would throw it out there as another option for those writers working on their first draft. Instead of waiting until the first draft is finished to begin editing, I have someone else reading and making suggestions as I go. That person is my husband.

proofSo here is how it works. I usually write a few chapters. I go back and re-read them but don’t usually mess with them too much. I am mainly making sure the sentences are complete and make some sort of sense. I then give those chapters to my husband to read while I continue writing.

My husband will write comments about things that don’t make sense or areas needing improvement. I then take his comments and type them into the appropriate sections (highlighting them so I can find them again). If it is something really simple to change, I sometimes make the changes right away. When I have time (i.e. I get writers block or can’t get motivated to work), I go back and start changing the story based on what he noted.

I find it helpful to do this as I write because there is no use writing the whole thing if the story needs to go in a different direction. This saves me from having to re-write entire sections or from throwing out pages of my novel that no longer match my goal.

Or it means I correct a problem before it gets too big to easily fix later. An example would be on my current WIP Finding Alexandria. The main character has visions when she touches certain people. When my husband read the first vision, he said it was not clear when the vision ended and the current situation continued. It was an easy fix but one I would rather know about now than have to go back and hope to find every vision and repair it. Now, I just remember each time a vision occurs that I need to make it clear to the reader when it is over.

Using this method means that by the time I am done with my first draft, my story really has been gone over at least twice. Instead of my second read through being one where I cut out scenes, I use it as a time to tighten up my novel with less to rework.

Now I know this method won’t work for many authors. One, you have to be willing to let someone read your WIP when it is in a very rough stage. To be able to use this method, you have to accept criticism and comments about your work all the while knowing that you are NOT done with it. And, two, you have to have someone who understands that this is ROUGH. That it is a first draft and that the final story will not look probably anything alike. Luckily for me, I have already found that person.

My kids and the movie theater

My friends’ kids are all about going to the movies. When watching TV and a preview for a movie comes on, they will say, “we have GOT to go see that!”

My kids, on the other hand, show…meh, no interest. It isn’t that they don’t watch movies. They do. Sometimes. But they are more likely to watch a 30-minute cartoon than a movie.

The last new release we took them to in the theatre was Tangled. That was in December of 2010. Yep, almost three years ago. Wow. Their friends, on the other hand, have seen Despicable Me 2, Turbo, Epic and who knows what else this summer alone.

boy moviesNow just because we haven’t seen a new release lately, doesn’t mean they haven’t been to the movie theatre. Every summer, our theatre offers summer movies. These are older movies and only cost $1 per person. This summer we saw Rio and Racing Stripes. Last year, it was Dolphin Tale, Rio, Charlotte’s Web and Alpha and Omega. I believe another summer, we saw Madagascar 2. Some years the selections are better than others. The nice thing about these movies is the price. You don’t feel like you are wasting money, even if you decide you have to leave early. And because they are meant for kids, other patrons don’t necessarily expect perfect theatre behavior.

The thing with Lexie and the movies is that it is always turns out the same. She is excited to go. She likes that I buy a kids pack (popcorn and soda) for her and Jase to share. But about halfway through the movie, it is always the same. “I want to go home.”

She either gets bored (Racing Stripes) or scared (Alpha and Omega). The funny thing is when the show is over, and she has made it to the end, she will tell you that she liked the movie. Does she have a desire to see it again or perhaps own the DVD? Nope.

Movies nowadays are expensive to go to and that is even with a matinee price, so I am not necessarily pushing my kids to go to the movies. But I do wonder if they are missing something by not going to the movies as often as their friends?

I guess until they start asking I will just enjoy saving money, knowing that one day they will catch up to their friends and start asking to see EVERY new movie out there.

Today’s Featured Author: Jennifer Garcia

I would like to welcome author Jennifer Garcia to my blog. She is promoting her book, My Mr. Manny, which comes out on August 27th.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I’m a wife, mother, business owner, full-time college student, and an author. I lead a very busy life, but, to tell you the truth, I accomplish so much more when I’m busy than when I’m not. My husband has taken the majority of the household duties on and has helped me immensely.  Rocco, my one hundred and eighty-five pound Mastiff, is my writing partner and keeps me company while I’m in my writing room.

Where were you born and where do you call home?  

Well, I’m a California implant, originally from a small coastal town in Northern Massachusetts. I have been in the Los Angeles area since I was sixteen, so, for about twenty-some-odd years.  

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

Most likely, in my upcoming release, My Mr. Manny, Mia, the main character experiences the loss of her family from moving so far from home just like I did when I was sixteen. It is difficult to miss out on accomplishments, family gatherings, births, weddings, etc. My family still lives in the Boston area and they get to enjoy each other’s company while I get to see pictures and hear the latest from my mother. Mia goes through that as well, and tries really hard to keep them all together.

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

My next project has been started but not put on paper yet. It’s a long mental process for me. However, I do have a couple of things that I fiddle with when I have time between projects. My first two books were written, mainly, for Open Calls. But a big story I’m working on is so out of my genre it’s scary, intimidating. It’s about a Los Angeles gang, one gang member and his lug life. However, when he goes to jail for murder, he learns he wants redemption. The jailhouse librarian teaches him all about Dante and The Divine Comedy and the MC finds himself in that world. There may be a little bit of romance in it, but it’s gritty and a lot of fantasy all wrapped up in this raw story.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

My plot ideas come from writing prompts or Open Calls. If I see something I think I can work with I begin writing it in my head.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?  

Outlines are definitely not for me; I’m much too lazy. However, I don’t just start writing either. It takes me time to write the story in my head, or at least several scenes. When I believe I have a good plot and a few scenes that work, I’ll start writing and let it flow from there. It’s unbelievable how the characters take over and write a lot of it.

Please tell us about your current release.

My current release, In My Mother’s Footsteps by Forbes Arnone (a pseudonym) is about a girl that was raised solely by her mother. She yearned for a father all her life but was told he had died. However, about a year before her college graduation, her mother tells her she knows where her dad is and he’s not dead. Yeah, talk about betrayal. So, Anela, so angry with her mother for the lies and deceit, doesn’t speak to her ever again. But the mother dies eight months later from an aneurism. An incredible graduation gift from mother to daughter sends Anela to Hawaii to find her father and the journey really starts there. It’s a novella and can easily be read in one day.

What inspired you to write this book?

Again, I think the importance of family came to mind when I plotted this story. Not wanting to be alone and trying to find your place in this big world. It’s also set in Hawaii, which is one of my most favorite vacation spots and I was inspired by the aura of the island.

How did you come up with the title?

With Anela’s trip to Hawaii she is following in her mother’s footsteps, literally.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

My cousin’s husband was based at Schofield Barracks on the island of Oahu. Since Anela’s father is in the Army, I needed to know all I could about those barracks and the Army itself. So I spoke with my cousin’s husband and also my nephew who was in the Army as well. They gave me a ton of info and I thank them so much for their help.

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

I love my main characters but Private Takata “Dragon” is my favorite. He is such a sweet boy, young man, but has some mental issues. His kindness and innocence just won me over.

Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book?

I think the black moment in the book is when Anela’s mother dies. Anela had no spoken to her in almost a year and the last time she did, it wasn’t pretty. Imagine living with the regret that you never get to say you’re sorry or make amends. Not only that but to have the only family member, your rock, just disappear. It was difficult, but since it’s a novella, I really tried to convey the pain but not make it the majority of the book.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

I do, The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani.

What book are you reading right now?

I just finished, Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

Adriana Trigiani and Jane Austen would be my picks. Austen because there is so little knowledge about here out there and I’d love to know so much more about her. Also, I’d love to pick her brain. Adriana Trigiani, well, because I admire her immensely and get a lot of my inspiration to write from her. She’s an Italian American like me and I relate to her books so much. I’d love to know her. 

Book Description

My Mr MannyMia Balducci misses her childhood days and yearns for the big, Italian family that she left behind in small town Massachusetts. At the tender age of sixteen, Mia moves with her bachelor father to Los Angeles, but no matter how many years pass, it never becomes home to her. The years spent living with her father aren’t easy, especially since she can’t stop thinking about what she once had. Her enrollment in the University of Southern California promises to bring exciting changes to her life, but Mia winds up with big problems instead. When she runs into an old friend from her old hometown of Winthrop, she gets swept up in nostalgia, and she soon loses herself in a quickly-progressing romance. When the fantasy falls apart, she is left to raise her precious little girl, Lucia, on her own. The demands of Mia’s work schedule and Lucia’s needs increase, and their lives become increasingly hectic. It is soon clear to Mia that she needs help. Luckily, her life-saving cousin saves the day and brings the mother and daughter a male nanny – their new “manny.”

After losing his high-pressure job on Wall Street, Dominic Roberts wants to follow his dreams to have a family. He’s already one fiancée down, and there are no likely prospects for another. In order to find the family he so desperately wants, he finds himself getting into the manny business. Since he is fully qualified to provide child care and is eager to leave New York City behind, his sister-in-law is able to land him a job in California working for his first client – the beautiful and intriguing Mia Balducci.

Will Lucia like the new man in her mother’s life? Will Mia? And will this new trio discover the happily ever after they all so desperately seek?

About the Author

Jennifer GarciaJennifer Garcia’s (aka Forbes Arnone) love of travel began when she went to the West Coast to visit her father at the age of three. Her home until she was sixteen was a small coastal town near Boston. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons, and two dogs.

Her lifelong love for reading and writing was put aside for many years while she made her way in the world and nurtured her young family. Even though she is older, and life never seems to settle, she’s finding her way while attending college full-time in pursuit of a B.A. in English Literature. She also runs a business, and is still caring for her family. Believing she can do it all, with the help of her family, she worked on her first novel during the late hours of the night while balancing the rest of her life during the day. Her hard work paid off, as her first novel, My Mr. Manny, will be published August 27, 2013.

You can find out more about Jennifer on her blog. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

You can purchase In My Mother’s Footsteps on Amazon and don’t forget to check out My Mr. Manny when it comes out later this month.