Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Please Welcome My Guest...

Please welcome my guest, Romance Author Brenda Margriet. Brenda lives in Northern British Columbia with her husband, three children (all of whom are taller than her) and various finny and furry pets. By day she is Creative Director at the local television station, and by night she pecks away at her works in progress.  
Hi Brenda,
Tell us something about yourself both writing and not writing related.

My debut novel, MOUNTAIN FIRE, took more years to write than I care to remember. Mostly because I didn't have the discipline to put my butt in my chair and write the darn thing.  I had to re-write the first scene because when I did the first draft, my heroine was using a film camera!

Both my husband and I were born and raised in the city in which we still live. We studied broadcasting at the same school at the same time (he was one year ahead of me in a two year program). But we didn't meet until I started working at the local television station. That was more than 25 years ago, and we still work together, with our offices about 20 feet apart.  I wouldn't have it any other way!

Do you have a writing routine?  Where do you usually do your writing?

When I am working on a new manuscript, I set a weekly goal of 3000 words, and a daily goal of 500 words. That gives me one day off a week (which changes depending on family schedules).  I find 500 words very do-able, and on most days usually get closer to 750 words.  But with a busy family and a full time job, I prefer to set small, achievable goals.  Bigger goals that I don't achieve just give my internal critic something else to snivel about.

I write in my living room, on my laptop, which is on an upside down tray on a pillow because I haven't invested in a lap desk yet! I'm lucky in that the living room is not where the TV is, so I have a bit of privacy, but am not completely cut off from the family.

I set weekly writing goals too. I also work full time and have a family and have found weekly goals help keep me on track. Why do you write in the genre/sub-genre that you do?  Any plans in the future to write in a different one?

I love knowing how people meet.  I find there's always something unexpected in the stories married couples tell about how they fell in love, and that fascinates me.  Also, I like happy endings. I want to feel uplifted and cheerful when I read – not dragged down into gloom.  That's why I write romance.

MOUNTAIN FIRE is a romantic suspense. I like the added drama of life threatening events, while the hero and heroine navigate the nuances of their new relationship.  But my second completed manuscript (still in revisions) is a straight contemporary romance.  And I've recently started reading and enjoying Regency romances, so could see myself trying my hand at one of those someday, too.

How funny, I've always written Regency romances and am currently working on my first contemporary manuscript. How do you stay motivated when writer’s block hits or your muse won’t cooperate?

I just keep powering through.  In my day job, I have multiple projects on the go at all times, and I can't let a block slow me down. I do the same with my novels.  No matter how hard it seems, I write. Something. Anything. Even if it looks and sounds horrible, I write my 500 words. And then the next day I look at it again. Sometimes, it is as bad as I thought. But most of the time I can salvage something. And that means I have moved just that little bit closer to the end.

That's a great way to keep motivated and keep writing. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?

Uhh, nothing. The Internet is a wonderful tool for a writer.  Used with a bit of common sense and an open mind, you can learn almost everything you need without getting off your chair (or in my case, my couch). Google maps is great.  You can really add a realistic flair by throwing in actual street names and directions, even for a city you've never been to.

What’s the best writing advice you were ever given? 

The first how-to-write book I ever read was Lawrence Block's “Telling Lies for Fun and Profit.”  I learned a lot from that book, and it is full of short, easy to read chapters that have solid examples.

What do you like to do in your leisure time?

Read. And read some more. I read when I'm cooking, eating, blow drying my hair, fishing, in the bathtub.  If I'm not reading, I am often playing cards. My family loves to play all sorts of card games.

Oh my goodness, I think we were separated at birth. I read doing all those things too. I even hold the newspaper against the bathroom mirror so I can read it when I'm brushing my teeth in the morning. Tell us about your current release in a couple of sentences.

MOUNTAIN FIRE is a romantic suspense set in the mountains of Northern British Columbia. June Brandt, a Natural Resources student, meets Alex Weaver, a conservation officer, over the carcass of a poached grizzly. Together they must discover who is murdering these magnificent animals, while exploring their passionate attraction to each other.

Your book sounds fascinating. Can you tell us a little about your next project?

I don't have a title for it yet, but it is a contemporary romance. Jemma Hedge is a production assistant on a reality dating show. She falls in love with Paul Almeida, the contestant on the show, which is an absolute no-no, and could get her fired. As she is the sole support of her aging grandmother, that would be a disaster.  I just received some great notes from my critique partner, so I've got some work to do yet, but I am very excited about it.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Thanks so much for letting me join your blog today, Katherine!  And if anyone is interested in find out more about me and my writing, please visit my website at www.brendamargriet.com.  There you'll find links to purchase MOUNTAIN FIRE in either print or e-book, as well as be able to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and more!

 Blurb:
A mountaintop mystery leads two conservationists to dangerous obsessions and violent passions.

Natural resources student June Brandt climbs Longworth Mountain for some alone time. But when Conservation Officer Alex Weaver arrives to look into the death of a grizzly bear, June is caught up in the investigation—and fascinated by Alex.

Alex is attracted by June's competence and coolness under fire—as well as her lithe body and honey-blonde hair. Although their mutual interest in protecting the natural wonders of the area brings them together, they soon realize they view love from very different angles. He offers passion and pleasure, but June wants more.

When one of Alex’s colleagues is murdered, June and Alex must work together to find the poacher before other lives are lost. And Alex must look deep inside to discover if he can give June what she deserves.

 Excerpt:
“Good god,” he whispered. “It's my fault.”

“No!” June said urgently. “No, that's not what I meant. Listen to me, Alex.” She broke free of his grasp and raised her hands to his cheeks, forcing him to meet her eyes. “It's not your fault. The person to blame is the one who killed Iain. But you have to see...you have to realize...it could have been you. And the note...maybe it was supposed to be you.” 

Her brilliant blue gaze held fire and courage and something else he was afraid to define. He wrapped his arms around her and held on, drawing strength from her warmth, her slender softness. That he might have unwittingly been the means of Iain's death shook him to his core. Years of friendship and respect, blasted away by a bullet. He wasn't sure he could bear the guilt.

“Come to me.” He murmured in her ear. “Come to me tonight.” His mouth seared a hot, moist path along her jawline. He needed her, but he realized with wonder it wasn't simply sexual. It was also the desire for comfort and companionship, a sharing of sorrow.

The uneasiness icing his veins was consumed in the flame of passion. Unable to deny himself another taste of her, his lips met hers fiercely, grinding against her teeth until her mouth opened and their tongues twisted together, twirling, teasing. He crushed her against his body, hands sliding from buttocks to shoulders, melding her to fit him. “I need you, June.” Desperation filled him, undeniable and indefensible. “It's your call. Your decision. But I want you so bad. I...” he faded to a stop, pressed his mouth to hers once more. “Come to me.”

Her breath trembled out. He held her so close he could see his reflection in her eyes. She nodded. “Tonight.”

Sounds great, doesn't it.  Don't forget to go to Brenda's blog for buy links.

Thanks, Brenda, for being my guest today. 
 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Reading for Research

I read a great deal when researching an idea for a book. It's important to me that I get the facts right when I'm writing about something I have no knowledge of. I have a number of non-fiction books on my bookshelves relating to the Regency period, but I also have books about mythical creatures. I have an encyclopedia of serial killers, a guide book to poisons, a book on deadly killing skills (the title always makes me smile since killing skills would make them deadly, but I digress), a book about the origin of the pistol, and one about combat fighting skills. I also have two books about pirates just to name a few. 

Will I ever need or use any of the information in those books? I've used the Regency period books quite a lot as all of my books have been set in that time period. As for the others, I've used a snippet of information from one or two, but for the most part I was drawn to purchase them by their potential. I was so intrigued by the subject matter that I bought them even though at the time, I had no idea what I would use them for.

I also find that when I'm reading a fiction book for pleasure, I'll sometimes note how well the author handled a particular scene. I'll mark the page and after I've finished the book, I'll go back and deconstruct the scene hoping that I'll learn something about writing that type of scene, whether it be an action scene or a quiet one of introspection. So I guess you could say I read fiction as a form of research as well.

I've always read in a wide variety of subjects even before I started to pursue a writing career. Now I have a reason to buy all those books that whisper, "buy me, buy me" when I walk into a book store.


Friday, February 22, 2013

This I know for sure...

I've learned a good night's sleep can make the world of difference, not just in my mood or outlook, but in my creativity level. It's hard to get your imagination working when you feel like your brain is sluggish.

Lately, I've been having problems sleeping the entire night. I fall asleep without any issues, but wake up between 3:00 and 4:00am with my mind racing and can't fall back to sleep. The next thing I know it's 5:15am and the alarm clock is going off and it's time to get up and get ready for work. By the end of the day, I'm exhausted but I'm still unable to sleep the whole night.

I'm hoping this problem sleeping thing doesn't last long. I'm really looking forward to a good solid 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Maybe tonight. I hope.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I'm A Gambler, Are You?

Today I'm visiting Babette James' blog and talking about how I found out I'm a gambler and never realized it.  Stop by and tell me if you're a gambler and in what way.  Link: http://wp.me/pjagl-200

Monday, February 18, 2013

Extended Visit

I'm continuing my visit on the Wild Women Authors blog and talking about how Lazarus ended up with his own story. I'll be giving away a $5 gift card for Amazon to one random commenter at the end of today.  I hope you stop by and check it out.  Link: www.WildWomenAuthorsx2.blogspot.com

Friday, February 15, 2013

Gone Visiting

Today I'm visiting the Wild Women Authors blog and talking about how Lazarus ended up with his own story. I'll be giving away a $5 gift card for Amazon to one random commenter.  I hope you stop by and check it out.  Link: www.WildWomenAuthorsx2.blogspot.com

Monday, February 11, 2013

Come Meet A Hero

Today Lazarus (from An Unexpected Gift) is being interviewed on Kathryn Knight's blog.  Stop by and find out a few quick things about this hunky hero.  Link:  http://kathrynknightbooks.blogspot.com
I'll be giving away one copy my short story The Muse which is the first story that Lazarus makes an appearance in.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Garden Party!

Today I'm going to a virtual garden party to celebrate the release of An Unexpected Gift at the Author Roast & Toast website.  I hope you'll stop by, meet the wonderful hostesses Mary Ricksen, Hywela Lyn, PL Parker, and Mac Crowne, have a mimosa or two, nibble on cake and tea sandwiches, and help me celebrate.  And of course, you must meet Oliver, their hunky butler. 

Here's the link:  http://authorroastandtoast.blogspot.com 
I hope to see you there.  :o)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday...or Not

I'm looking for some new authors that I've never read before so I've started downloading a few samples of books to my Kindle.  So far I've downloaded samples for four new mystery authors that I can't wait to start.

I'm new at sampling but love the idea. I never even knew that you could send a sample of a book to your Kindle until my sister told me about it. Why sample first? Well, unfortunately I've bought a few books by new to me authors and didn't really care for the books. Not only was I disappointed that the books didn't live up to my expectations, but I was disappointed that I'd spent money on those books.  So...from now on I'll be sampling books by new to me authors before plunking down my hard earned money or in most cases, wasting gift card funds on books that I wish I hadn't purchased.

How about you?  Do you sample books on your ereader?  Ever bought books that you regretted purchasing?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Visiting

Today I'm ringing in the new year on fellow romance writer Emma Lai's blog and answering 5 quick questions.  I hope you'll stop by and check out Emma's blog and see what I want to accomplish this year. Here's the link: http://emmalaiwrites.blogspot.com 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Release Day!

Today my second novel, An Unexpected Gift, is officially released.  The digital format has been available on Amazon since late October, but now it will be available both in digital and paperback at most online booksellers.

I will say that I'm just as excited about this book being available to readers as I was when my first book was published.  I've heard other authors who've had tens of books published say they never lose that sense of excitement. I agree with them even if I've only had two books and a novella published to date.