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.

Entering the Twitterverse

To tweet or not to tweet.  That is the question.

My most humble apologies to the Bard, who is currently rolling over in his grave as I type this post.

Another thought:

Never say never.  Ever.  It will always come back to bite you in the butt.

Self-publishing.  Throwing caution and (miniscule) finances to the winds and hoping someone will read brilliant masterpiece.  Sounds easy, right?  You write a book, prep it for release, buy an ISBN, upload to the digital market of your choosing and BAM!  Instant sales and fans and reward.

Well…..not quite.  Apparently, social media is the driving force behind finding your potential readers.  Ok, I got this.  I do Facebook.  Cool.

Well…..not quite.  There’s a plethora of social media outlets.  Twitter among them.  I had sworn off Twitter personally for years.  I had four thoughts about Twitter—1) I can’t possibly say what I need to say in 140 characters.  Me, the girl whose paragraphs can give Charles Dickens a run for his money on a good day.  Me, the girl whose basic email is the length of The Iliad.  2) I don’t care what people are having for lunch (this was the trend for a while at the onset of the Twitterverse).  3)Facebook is enough. I can barely keep up with Facebook. And, most importantly, 4) “Tweet”.  I think this is one of the stupidest terms on the planet.  I wanted nothing whatsoever to do with an application on which I “tweeted”.  (Yes, I know I’m probably showing my age.  Yes, I realize I sound like an elitist social media snob.  I’ve embraced both of these and am ok with it.)

It turns out, you can be bombarded with pictures and/or descriptions of food people think you want to see on Facebook as well!  (I guess the trend shifted from Twitter to Facebook after a time).  I also found out that I can indeed limit my overly verbose ramblings to around 140 characters…although I have to really, really concentrate.  I am still getting used to the idea of checking Twitter.  I suppose this will become more natural with time.  However, I’m able to use both it and Facebook without going into a panic attack.  I still hate, loathe, despise, and abominate the word “tweet”.

If you’ve done any research into marketing and promotion for authors, Twitter is perhaps the biggest platform to use at the moment, spurring tons of articles and blog posts like “Twitter for Authors in 10 Minutes a Day”, and so on.   After much deliberate debate with myself (along with quite a bit of rolling of eyes and internal “bah, humbug”), I joined the Twitterverse a couple weeks ago.  I am currently up to 27 followers. Not a lot.  BUT—most of them are fellow authors, and a number of them are best-selling authors at that.  If nothing else, for this moment in time, those folks have openly welcomed me into the writing community.  This is a support and an encouragement that is like nothing else—to be accepted by your peers and those whose work you admire.  If they feel that I have something of interest to share, then potential readers will too in time.  And that’s the whole point.

I have 27 followers.  Nathan Fillion (TV’s Richard Castle) has something like 2.4 million.  (If you hear a rapid heartbeat followed by a thud that’s just me swooning over Nathan Fillion…. I’m fine.)  I won’t say I’ll never get 2.4 million followers (although this is unlikely).  See beginning of post above–Never say never.  Nonetheless, I am out there, in the Twitterverse, hashtagging my way towards publication and some lovely (albeit at 140 characters or less) communion with fellow artists in this craft we call writing.

The beginning of the journey

So.  I am a writer.

I write novels….  I am a novelist….

 

Okay.  So I’ve spent my entire life reading. Voraciously reading.  Dickens—Shakespeare—Austen—Hawthorne—paperback romances (hundreds of paperback romances).  I love reading. I loved it so much I got a degree in literature.  I have a piece of paper that declares I am a readaholic.  Losing yourself in a world somewhere with interesting characters and unending plot twists—heaven.  However, I learned when I was young that I loved something even more than reading…WRITING!  ( I remember my first piece too.  It was a short story I wrote about a haunted house. Very spooky.  I loved it.)

Now, growing up and having to choose a way to make a living, I defaulted to that of “teacher”.  Why?  I loved to read, and I loved to write (when everyone else around me hated it and thought I was weird for loving it so much).  At the time, all I could think was “I’m not an author. I’d never get published”.  What’s the old saying?  Oh yeah… those that can’t do, teach.  So I decided to take my love of literature to the classroom.  I was spurred on by all those great movies about these fabulous teachers (most of whom taught English lit…think about that for a minute….) that inspired their students to excel (Dead Poet’s Society, anyone?  RIP Robin Williams).

I did end up teaching at a local community college as an adjunct for about a decade.  I had some great students.  I also had a few that I seriously wanted to hurt with a frying pan.  Fast-forward a bit.  I’m an ex-teacher in her mid-30s, divorced, and looking at the ever-closing gap to 40 wondering what the hell I’ve done with my life up to this point.  Nothing I had imagined for myself, let me assure you.  I was still reading.  Voraciously reading.  I had also picked my writing back up.  I had started a couple manuscripts, but never finished one.

Last November, I did something I always secretly hoped (but doubted) I’d do.  One of those “maybe one day I’ll….”, back of the mind, think about when you’re drunk and wonder why in hell haven’t I done that yet? ideas.  I wrote a novel.  In 30 days.  Over 51 thousand words.  How?  I got plugged into an awesome local writing group that does NaNoWriMo.  The support of a close-knit group that was just as “nerdy” as me was a match-spark to my fire.  I had a story I loved with characters that I thought were funny and sweet and just a bit sassy.  Throw in a foreign country and a little conflict… recipe for a great read.  But… what to do with it?

For a long time, writers who self-published were considered “lesser” on the author hierarchy.  Popular consensus was they couldn’t cut it with the Big Trade publishers.  Well, with the boom in epublishing, we unknown and novice writers can now take the bull by the horns ourselves in the here and now.  So, that’s the route I’ve chosen.  I choose to be an indie author, solely responsible for the outcome, with total control of my product.  I realize this is a bit of a risk and without a doubt a TON of work.  But, since I have a “day job” to keep me not homeless and not hungry… why not?

Since November, I’ve edited, done beta-reading, dabbled with cover art, scheduled a release date, and started another story.  I am now in the “author platform building” phase of this thing.   (More on that in a future post!)  There’s so much that I’ve learned since November.  There’s so much I still don’t know!  This is my journey.  I hope you’ll join me for the ride.