Friday, June 17, 2011

Doing What I Was Born To Do

My guest is bestselling historical author, Grace Burrowes. By day, Grace is an attorney and an advocate for children.

When she's not practicing law she writes grand adventures set in England. Her stories are filled with passion, romance, a fun dose of witty repartee, and a touch of mystery. 

Grace shares a bit with us about her world and her passion for writing.

I got into a discussion the other day with The Mayor of Courtroom Two about self-discipline and the writing life. Courtroom Two is where I conduct most of my legal business, advocating for children in abuse and neglect proceedings. It isn’t where I thought the practice of law would take me, but I love my work and I consider that little courtroom part of my professional home.

The Mayor of Courtroom Two loves his work too, though most people would call him The Bailiff. A bailiff in my jurisdiction wears many hats. He’s part master of ceremonies, rounding up the parties for the next case, ushering the parties for the last case on to the their next destination; he’s also a scheduling assistant to the judge, keeping an eye on what attorneys are trying to juggle work in two or more courtrooms on the same day. The bailiff steps and fetches for the judge and he works with the sheriff’s deputies to ensure the safety of all in the courtroom.

Our bailiff goes extra miles beyond that: He makes sure the witnesses have tissues in their teary moments, he makes sure the water pitchers on the counsel tables are full and the clerks and reporters have ice in their cups if they want ice. He tidies up the chairs and tables at the start of the day and again at the end, so the courtroom looks neat and not like some eighth grade desk charge supplanted the workings of justice. He greets the regulars in the morning and he wishes us good day each afternoon with unfailing good cheer—no matter how stupid our closing arguments, how obnoxious our clients, how lacking our case presentation.

This guy just has the gene for being a bailiff. When he tried doing something else for a few weeks, I grieved the loss of him.

Writing is like that for me. I have no writing goals much less written goals displayed in a prominent location. I have no quotas, I don’t do page counts, nor keep a tally of how long it took me to write what. If I were not permitted to write regularly and in quantity, I would go into a decline. The hardest, hardest, worst, most impossible thing for me is that part of the creative process when I must to sit on a toadstool and think up an external conflict for each book. Oh, that is painful, to not have my hands on the keyboard, to not hear the words being tapped out in a steady, mellifluous rhythm, to not see black pixels filling up the screen where white pixels were.

But even the pain of the off-keyboard plotting exercise is precious and to be relished because it’s part of writing my stories.

I get up every morning, wanting to write. If it’s a court day, or even a fly to England day, there’s still a little part of me pouting because I don’t get to write. I get up every day grateful that I can write, and gleeful with the knowledge that I have a WIP, even if I can’t open it up and work on it THIS INSTANT. This is not discipline; this is the farthest thing from discipline.

This is the great, soul deep pleasure of doing the thing I was born to do, the thing that makes me passionately happy, the thing I hope can please my readers for many, many, many books to come.


Even in the quiet countryside he can find no peace...His idyllic estate is falling down from neglect and nightmares of war give him no rest. Then Devlin St. Just meets his new neighbor...

Until his beautiful neighbor ignites his imagination...With her confident manner hiding a devastating secret, his lovely neighbor commands all of his attention, and protecting Emmaline becomes Deviln’s most urgent mission. Excerpt (at the bottom of the page)

Available in e-book and mass paperback
Be sure to check out her first book, The Heir

Grace Burrowes is the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of The Heir, also a 2010 Publishers Weekly Book of the Year. She is a practicing attorney specializing in family law and lives in rural Maryland, where she is working on the next books chronicling the loves stories of the Windham family. Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish will be in stores in October 2011, and The Virtuoso will be in stores in November 2011, with more to come in 2012!  For more information, please visit (Her site is in the process of expanding).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

ALYSON REUBEN: Making The Transition From Aspiring To Published Author

My guest is historical author, Alyson Reuben. A several months ago, she virtually disappeared for a while. It freaked me out, so I wrote to her and asked if all was well? That’s when I learned she was in the process of getting published and deep into edits and such.
Now that she has a bit more free time, I asked her to be a guest on Over Coffee, even though her book wasn’t yet available. I will be featuring her book in September.
I love hearing how writers deal with the call and the transition from aspiring author to published author.  How she reacted when she learned her book was to be published ( I do believe I heard a very loud squeal).  How did she work through the excitement of getting a book ready for publication. 
What kept her going through rejections over the years? Had she ever thought of just giving up? 
Hello! I’m so excited to be Sia’s guest author today!  
AuthorWow, I can still hardly believe I’m using that noble label in reference to myself. There were times I thought my story would never move beyond my own computer screen.
The writing bug bit me back during my second grade year, when a children’s author visited my school. I loved to read—still do! So to meet a flesh and blood person behind such entertainments had me craning my neck, ears pricked to hear his every word. Unfortunately, the man’s name has long since escaped me, leaving behind only a vague impression of a Santa Claus-looking gentleman with a short white beard. But he also left behind another impression, greater than any Christmas present. One that has stuck with me all these years. And, because of that, I wish I could shake his hand. Heck, I wish I could throw my arms around his neck and kiss him! He helped me realize, even at such a young age, what I wanted to achieve in life. To write a book. To write lots of books. 
One thing he didn’t tell us author-hopefuls—or, at least, not that I can remember—was how long it takes to break into publishing. It might not take everyone as long, but it’s been a long haul for this ol’ girl - over twenty *ahem* years. I started writing A Beautiful Cage a few years ago, filed it away half-finished, then picked it up again, because the characters kept returning to mind, urging me, goading me, begging me to finish their story. WWII is a subject I’ve always found fascinating, not because I love war—just the opposite—but because of the many true tales of heroism and courage that have come from such a catastrophic event.
Gustav and Rebecca, my hero and heroine, are fictional products of this tragic and yet gutsy period in time. I’m sure they’re as relieved as I am to finally break into publication. Did they cry when receiving the news? I’m not sure, but I do know that my ever-supportive husband and daughter had to keep the Kleenexes coming for me. I sobbed for days, in between cheering and dancing. 
I’ve been asked what has kept me going through the years, especially after receiving several rejections. My first answer is love. Love keeps the desire to write strong and keen. The second (and, perhaps, most important) thing that keeps me going is pure perseverance. I’ve refused to give up in the past, and I refuse to give up in the future. My zeal hasn’t diminished with the arrival of publication. It continues, a living, vital part of me that pulses, pushing me to write even better. And for the times I need an extra push, my critique partner, Elle J. Rossi, is always ready with her encouragement.
  •  A few things I've learned:  writing takes practice, patience, and persistence.  And a lot of all three. 

So, now I’m working on A Beautiful Cage’s sequel, A Beautiful Tempest. Am I running into rough spots? Naturally. Do the rough spots tempt me to throw up my hands in surrender? Sorry to say, at times, yes. Am I loving my characters? You bet!
Most of all, will I ever give up?
No way! 

  • Are you an aspiring author? What keeps you going in the face of rejections?


Back in elementary and high school, Alyson was often in trouble for writing stories when she should’ve been studying for math tests.  Detentions and trips to the principal's office aside, she was determined to become an author someday, no matter the price.  A few years later Alyson began writing historical romance.
Now Alyson gets in trouble for writing stories when she should be cooking dinner for my her family.

You can find Alyson at her Website, Facebook, Blog: Reuben Sandwich

Coming in September 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday's Musings: How Often Do You Use Real Experiences In Your Stories?

I had a situation happen to me this past weekend and it was a totally new situation for me. Not particularly a welcomed one, but funny as hell. My mind immediately leaped to how to incorporate this into a story. Even had the characters in mind. Poof and they were there. Very weird. But I did write it down, just in case.
Now, I have to say, I’m an observer and some strange things capture my interest.  I’ve sat down to eat at the local diner and I have to say, some of the conversations, a turn of phrase, a name, the way something looks, how someone walks or dresses can send my mind into a storytelling mode.
Some things truly are stranger than fiction.

So, my question is: 

  • Have you had something happen to you where your mind jumped to how to incorporate the situation, good or bad, into a story or even built the story around it?

  • Were your characters instantaneously there like magic?

  • Or did you just use the situation in a WIP?