Review: Seeking Solace by Adrienne Dunning

seekingsolace
Sometimes running away is the first step in the right direction. Sarah Collier’s life has always been scripted for her, according to the expectations of her domineering, socially-connected Connecticut family. Everything always went as planned…until the unthinkable happened moments before walking down the aisle. On a whim, she does the first thing that comes to mind—she takes off on her honeymoon, alone. Sarah has never acted on spontaneity, so the impromptu trip may not be what Sarah thinks it will.
The quaint and rustic harbor village of North Berwick on Scotland’s East Lothian coast is typically devoid of tourists in the winter. So when an auburn-haired stranger who wanders into his pub on a cold, Sunday evening, Bretton Keith, self-assured and flirtatious pub owner that he is, sees an opportunity to break up the monotony of another village winter.
As Bretton comes to know, he finds it increasingly difficult to…

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Roasted and Toasted!

I’m having so much fun with this release week for Seeking Solace!  Today, I am being roasted and toasted at a fellow blog site.  Come check it out!  There’s a giveaway of an e-copy of the book as well if you comment on the post and include your email.  Come over and join the party:  http://authorroastandtoast.blogspot.com/2015/05/seeking-solace.html?showComment=1430481243766#c3767274966481928512  .    You can copy/paste the URL or click the hyperlink!

 

See you at the pub!!  🙂

NaNo is Here!!!

Well……. actually it’s HERE!!!!

This is the first week of NaNoWriMo 2014.  What the heck is NaNo—what?  National Novel Writing Month.  The challenge is to write a novel in a month!  That’s right.  50,000 words in 30 days.  Insane, right?  INSANELY AWESOME!

This will be my second NaNoWriMo (not including Camp NaNo, which occurs in April and July every year).  Last year’s NaNo novel ended up being the book I decided to throw into the publishing arena.  There have been two members of our group that have already published their NaNo stories. (We’re an ambitious group!)

I have found that there are two types of people in the world.  The people who think writing for fun is weird (or nerdy or strange or lame…take your pick).  They just don’t understand the very deep, compulsory need to put pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard) and give life to people you’ve never met, places you’ve never seen, and things you’ve never done.  They scratch their head in confusion and disbelief when you tell them that you’ve just got to put this story on the page or your imagination is just going to implode!  (My sister is so like this.  She totally doesn’t get the writing side of me at all.  She loves me, but she thinks the writing thing is just “weird”.)

But then…there are the others.  Your kindred spirits (to borrow from Anne of Green Gables).  Those people who, just like you, constantly have “voices in their head”.  Characters desperately wanting their stories to be told.  Incredible adventures and journeys that need chronicling.  They immediately understand your frustration with writer’s block.  They’ve been there too.  They have also fought the battle between the story you’re currently trying to write and the story in the back of your mind that’s fighting for attention because it wants to be written now, not four months from now when you have scheduled to write it.

That’s what NaNoWriMo is for me.  Several months every year, I get to camp out in the meeting room of our local coffee shop, surrounded by what we have to refer to as “our tribe”.  Strangers who have quickly and completely become a second family.  No exclusion, just acceptance and camaraderie with people who love writing as much as I do.  Different ages, different backgrounds, different writing styles and genres.  We all laugh and joke at the constant Doctor Who references (along with references from several other “fandoms”).  We share stories of our “writing horrors/disasters” and help brainstorm ideas.  We’re all watching the November calendar dwindle and our word counts rise, clinging to the hope we’ll all have 50K by 11:59 on the 30th.  You could consider it a club. A support group.  A think tank.  Whatever you want to call it, it’s support and encouragement and fun.

Want to write a story?  Check out the NaNoWriMo website here.

 

**Photo credits:  http://marseclipse.deviantart.com   and   http://aspiringwriter22.wordpress.com

 

Look Out! Curves Ahead!

Look Out!  Curves Ahead!

As some of you may be aware, I’m in the process of self-publishing my debut novel.  However, I must admit I haven’t completely given up on the hope of breaking into traditional publishing at some point.  In truth, I’d really like to settle into a hybridized career, doing both.  In the midst of this very laborious (and sometimes surprisingly fun) path towards publication, I have found that just when I think I’ve figured out my course, I’m suddenly facing a hairpin curve on the side of the mountain…my poor little novel-train desperately clinging to the tracks to keep from falling off the edge to its doom.

So far, they’ve been curves I can negotiate fairly simply by doing my homework and researching options or asking some of my growing network of author friends for advise and suggestions.  The biggest curve I’ve had so far, I think, has been the issue of cover art.  I’m on a budget, so naturally my initial instinct was to gravitate towards stock photography.  It’s certainly being used, and used successfully be a number of indie authors.  I selected a few shots that I just fell in love with.  They fit the mood of my story.  The models were remarkably similar to my main characters in physical appearance.  I scrolled through pages and pages of romance novels on Amazon, checking the cover art for any similar shots.  I wasn’t finding the shot I really wanted to use.  Paydirt!  I had my cover art.  About every two weeks since then, I had continued to monitor new releases on Amazon to make sure no one was using my photo.  Several months went by (during which I was editing and doing beta reads on the story), and my photo was still in the clear.  I’d become secure in what was going to be the cover to “my precious”.  (I totally turn into a slightly more attractive Gollum when it comes to my novel. It is “my precious”.)  I could see the title…what type of font and color I was going to use…oh, it was beautiful.  Then—disaster.

One of my FB author friends shared a post of someone’s new release.  There it was in all its horrifying glory.  My cover photo.  Or at least, a zoomed in portion of my cover photo.  My heart completely sank to the depths of my stomach.  I know some books have either similar cover shots or the same exact shot from stock photography, but I didn’t want to do that.  I didn’t want to use the same shot someone else already had.  Back to the drawing board for me, and I didn’t know what to do.  Because my novel is contemporary, I really wanted to use photography rather than drawn art for the cover.  Here goes the novel-train, barreling around the side of the mountain, and I can’t see the other side of the curve.

Here’s where networking everywhere you can is absolutely vital to moving forward towards becoming a professional writer (or anything else, really).  Through our local NaNoWriMo group, I remembered that the brother of one of our members is a photographer.  I had seen his work before and went back and checked his sites.  If this guy could work with my budget, he could my ticket back to getting a cover and finally setting a release date.  He had the contacts that I didn’t—makeup artist, costume designer, models.  After a very enthusiastic meeting, we decided to give this thing a go.  I’m about mid-way around the curve now, but at least I know that my novel-train will get to the other side of it.

He’s about to start shooting for my cover, and I’m excited to see what he comes up with.  When we get to the other side of this curve, I’ll give you all a sneak peek!!!

**Photo credit: https://southwestdesertlover.wordpress.com

 

Competition for Attention

Well, I am blocked.  Or…at least one story is blocked.  I’m trying to finish the manuscript for The Accidental Witness so that I can pass it off to my beta reader who is ever so patiently waiting for it.  It’s a bit of a departure for me as it involves law enforcement agencies, a money laundering trail, and the Russian mob.  I have a really great contact who is answering my technical and logistical questions regarding all things Bratva (think Cosa Nostra but in Russian); however, I must ask the questions through “a handler”.  The research process has become very James Bond/Godfather-esque….and should prove to be an intriguing interview discussion….should I ever reach the point of getting interviewed by someone when I finally release this story.

I have the first half written and know how it ends, but right now, my brain is just not firing on all four cylinders regarding getting from the middle to the end.  To further complicate my writer’s block on this, NaNoWriMo is coming up.  (That’s National Novel Writing Month for you newbies.)  October is spent planning your NaNo project, then November begins the monstrous insanity of writing 50,000 words in 30 days.  It’s stressful; it’s crazy; it’s frustrating; it’s AWESOME.  I have had the idea for this year’s NaNo project for a number of months now, and my NaNo characters are already trying to talk to me.  And on top of THAT, my NaNo project has somehow morphed into a SERIES, AND I’m co-leader this year for our regional group.  YAY!  So all things NaNo are just filling my mind and imagination… thereby putting The Accidental Witness on the backburner, which is certainly not what I WANT to do.  I WANT to finish it.

I had a friend suggest this weekend that I just set it aside until after NaNo.  I see the point in that… I do.  And truthfully, it may indeed be for the best at this point in time.  That being said, I must confess that I am an extremely stubborn soul, and I want to dig in there and “just do it”.

Perhaps sometime in the next two weeks, the muses will descend again, and inspiration will strike.  I’m still hoping for that.  If not…this WIP shall be put aside until after NaNo.  Fellow writing peeps—how do you guys deal with blocked stories?  Or multiple story ideas competing for imaginative attention?  If you have advice or suggestions, I’ll be over here—the one staring at the computer screen, silently begging words to magically appear.

 

**Photo courtesy of http://www.giphy.com   http://giphy.com/search/writers-block

 

The Elusive Mr. Darcy

I don’t think any lover of romantic literature can speak about the quintessential and unforgettable heroes of this genre without having Mr. Darcy (from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice) come close to the top of the list.

Tall. Handsome.  A Man of Means.  Proud.  Slightly Brooding.  Need a visual?  Take your pick—Colin Firth from the original A&E mini-series, complete with “wet t-shirt scene”. (Stuff of dreams that was.  Oh mercy!)   Or— Matthew McFayden from the Jon Wright production a few years ago.  (That end scene at dawn when he comes across Lizzie walking the fields.  Delightful.)

Sorry… there was a thud.  That was me swooning.  I do love a handsome, brooding Englishman.  However, men of that description are in quite the shortage in eastern North Carolina.  More’s the pity.  Sigh….

But I digress.

Although I have interests in several genres, I am currently working within the romance genre.  I think it begs the question—am I writing Mr. Darcy?  I think there may be small hints of him here and there in my male characters.  So far, they are all tall and handsome.  Although the romantic heroes I’ve written so far are typically of the average professional variety (no millionaire tycoons, etc), they are all quite proud and have a bit of masculine arrogance, so that’s a bit Darcy-esque.  They all, so far, are perhaps a bit brooding.  They have things going on under the surface that the heroine doesn’t immediately understand—also reminiscent of Darcy.

So what makes my romantic heroes something different than just an homage to the famous Mr. Darcy.  For one thing, Austen’s Darcy is a bit unapproachable.  My male characters, with one exception, are a bit more outgoing and social.  They also are written with quite a sense of humor. I love to laugh, and I try to infuse as much humor as possible into my characters and my stories.  I think that’s one of the defining aspects of creating a character that feels real.  Feels human.  Mr. Darcy is always so very serious, and while this is certainly a necessary virtue, I find my characters tend to temper their dispositions with a bit more levity than Austen gave to Darcy.

Have I found Mr. Darcy?  In real life or on the page?  On the page…I find I’m not really searching for Mr. Darcy there.  So far, I’ve found some romantic figures that are as wonderful, as swoon­-worthy, and a bit more real than Mr. Darcy.  I hope my readers will find the same when these characters and their stories are finally released.

Well, I admit that in real life, I have not yet found Mr. Darcy.  Perhaps a Mr. Wickham or three, but no Mr. Darcy.   Before anyone comments about there not being a “Mr. Darcy”, let me state that yes, I am aware that Mr. Darcy is fictional.  Hence the reason I won’t find him here on this earthly plane.  However, there is someone out there.  Tall (maybe). Handsome (in my eyes).  A Man of Means (works towards his dreams and goals and is gainfully employed).  Proud (of who he is and will be).  Slightly Brooding (only on occasion to lend that “quizzical brow” look).  So I continue to keep an eye out for him, the elusive Mr. Darcy.  Not The Mr. Darcy.  But rather, My Mr. Darcy.