This month’s Random Fan is fellow Omnific author, Rumer Haven. Rumer recently published a fantastic novel entitled “Seven For A Secret” and we were thrilled to have the chance to chat with her about it. You can purchase the ebook or the paperback here.
Morgan and Jennifer: Seven For A Secret is a paranormal romance, but that’s labeling it pretty simply. What else would you like readers to know about the novel?
Rumer Haven: Great question, as this story isn’t easily placed into any one bucket. While it does have a paranormal element, the ghost’s main function is to join the present with the past, connecting two stories that are more human than supernatural. My publicist has described it as “Great Gatsby meets Bridget Jones,” as it’s half historical fiction and half contemporary, and whereas the historical half is full of drama, the contemporary half is romantic comedy. It’s filled with contrasts like this, I guess, from swept-off-one’s-feet romance to self-deprecating reality. And while young twenty-something and teenage characters drive the story, it’s arguably the old folks who save the day. These opposing elements all interrelate, though, balancing the story out to provide a little bit of everything for everyone. So you don’t have to be a fan of any one particular aspect to still (hopefully) enjoy the overall book.
Rumer Haven: Exposure is such a richly rendered story of stardom and scandal, “exposing” the human element behind the Hollywood facade and paying nice homage to cinematography. Is the industry of special interest to you? What inspired this context for your story?
Morgan and Jennifer: Like most people, we’ve always been interested in pop culture. Movies, television, books and music are all things we enjoy, but we would never say we’ve been obsessed with the celebrity culture. Morgan has spent much of his life actively involved in live theatre and was able to take those human experiences and transfer them to our fictional movie set, but the entire novel generated from just one image in Jennifer’s mind. Specifically, it was the moment when Shaunna Noble quits her job as Kyle Petersen’s publicist, storms out of his movie trailer and tosses all of his clothing to the fans gathered nearby.
Jennifer didn’t really understand who Shaunna was or why she was so angry at the movie star, but it was obvious that the blow up was taking place on a movie set. The rest of the novel was developed around that one moment – finding out what events led up to the outburst, trying to understand how someone could be driven to such rash action and wondering about what would happen to Shaunna in the aftermath of such an explosion.
Morgan and Jennifer: Your novel jumps between the 1920’s and the 2000’s. Do you have a particular fondness for the Roaring 20’s? Why did you choose that era specifically?
Rumer Haven: The Great Gatsby has always been one of my favorite novels, so while I couldn’t aspire to Fitzgerald’s talent, I wanted to attempt a similar atmosphere. I’m also fascinated by the New Woman who emerged during that decade. There’s the iconic flapper, of course, who really pushed the envelope by shortening her hair and hemline and partying like a rock star. But women at large had also just earned the right to vote and were generally shedding the corset of Victorian mores to make more choices for themselves regarding work, education, and sexual freedom. And let’s face it, the fashion was exquisite! As was the architecture—I knew I wanted this story to be my homage to sweet home Chicago, and there are so many structures that were in their heyday back then that are still standing now. They provide an ideal bridge between past and present, and Capone’s Chicago is a classic backdrop for decadence and dodginess.
Rumer Haven: Your novel is perhaps the first I’ve read that was a collaboration of two authors–and a husband and wife, no less. You two clearly make a brilliant team in writing something so uniform and seamless, so I can’t help but ask how you approach this process! What role do each of you play in crafting the content and composition?
Morgan and Jennifer: Those who know us often describe us as a case of Opposites Attract. Morgan is extroverted, while Jennifer is introverted. But despite the extremes in our personalities, we have a lot in common. Writing fiction is something we both feel deeply connected to, and as such we’ve discovered that we work well together.
As a team, we’ve always outlined stories together through the process of collaborative brainstorming. When it comes to composition, Morgan tends to be focused on providing the unexpected, yet essential details within scenes, while Jennifer tends to be fixated on the bigger picture, making sure all the elemental plot points are addressed. Beyond this, Morgan lends more of his humor to the writing process, while Jennifer enjoys drawing emotion out of both the characters and the reader. Overall, it seems to make for a good balance.
Jennifer: As someone who works in a non-profit visitor facility, I recognized much of the behind the scenes action at the Planetarium in your story. I’m curious to know if those sections of the story are based on real life experience?
Rumer Haven: Yes! I used to volunteer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. For the record, the volunteer coordinator was not a ho-bag like Vicki but a very lovely, respected member of staff. 🙂 But I did assist the education department with the sorts of activities and events that Kate manages and loved the experience and institution (and Atwood Sphere!) so much. I was actually a finance professional at the time, but working with the public at Adler inspired me to become a teacher. So in homage to the memories and meaning that place holds for me, I wove it into the book.
Morgan: What is your favorite celestial body in the universe?
Rumer Haven: Just…stars. The whole lot of ’em. Like us, they pass through a cycle of life, yet even when they die, they shine on through time and space. They give us something to wish on, to create pictures and stories out of, and they can guide our way home. Our closest star gives us life and keeps us warm in the daytime, and at night, all the distant stars bedazzling the sky make me feel at once infinitesimal yet integral to something greater than I can comprehend. We’re all made of stardust, lest we forget. 🙂
Rumer Haven: Given my great fondness for Exposure and you lovely folks, I cannot wait for your next book. Anything new in the pipeline?
Jennifer: Speaking of stardust and planetariums … I’m writing a story I’ve entitled Constellation. It’s a May to December contemporary romance set in Central Oregon. The story begins with the two main characters, Jack and Kathleen, having just given in to the temptation of mutual attraction. The rest of the novel explores how this one spontaneous event will alter how Kathleen perceives her universe. When I initially began the story I thought Jack would be a man of mystery, but the deeper I get into the story the more I realize that Kathleen is the one with all the secrets. I’m halfway done writing the book and realizing I actually have a series in the making. I can easily envision two more books and that has me very excited right now. I’m hoping to publish the first book later this year.
Morgan: I am currently editing a book that I wrote for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November of 2013. It’s a ghost story called Connection and it takes place mostly on the N train in New York City. I establish new rules for ghosts while reinforcing some of my old favorites and, believe it or not, the whole thing is a tender romance.
This month’s Random Fan is fellow author N. Michaels. Her book, Emerald Eyes, is the first in a series and is now available via Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Emerald-Eyes-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B00GNIOG26/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1415932553&sr=1-1&keywords=emerald+eyes+n.+michaels
Morgan and Jennifer: Tell us a bit about the Emerald Eyes trilogy. And what can readers expect from the second book, Onyx Heart?
N. Michaels: Hello and thank you having me! I’m a big fan of yours. I loved Exposure! 🙂
The Emerald Eyes Trilogy came to me after the market was over saturated with plots that resembled Fifty Shade of Grey. They all had a domineering man and a virginal, naive woman.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy and am a huge fangirl of E L James (I can’t wait for the movie!), but I was bored of reading the same type of plot over and over in so many different books, and during a conversation with one of my best friends, Ella, I told her as much.
Her response was immediate, “Write what you want to read then.”
And I did.
Katherine Slav, my heroine, appeared in my mind and began telling me her story. And then she told me about Eric Miller, and I was hooked.
Katherine is anything but naive, or shy. She’s confident in herself and her beauty. She doesn’t take BS from anyone, and that includes Eric.
Eric is a mystery, even to me sometimes. He’s very guarded and shares only what needs to be known. I’m still slipping through the cracks of his armor to figure him out.
I began writing during the day while my babies were napping and late night/early morning while the house was asleep.
The moment I reached the middle of the book, I knew how to end it. I leaned back in my chair and whispered, “Oh shit!” I grabbed my phone and called my second best friend, Milana and told her about the ending. She listened until the end and then she was tearing up, telling me I had to publish it.
Milana was with me every step of the way, I would write a few chapters, call her and read them to her. If I didn’t write for a few days she would call me to nag and motivate me. “You can’t leave me hanging like this! What happens after Mark enters the suite?”
She was a source of encouragement and support and still is, and for that, I thank her. ♡
After finishing writing Emerald Eyes, the second book in the trilogy, Onyx Heart began to unfold in my mind. I always take notes and write whatever happens at that moment. I even have a few key scenes from the third and last book written down.
My mind will show me the most important moments, like a slide reel, and when I sit down to write the rest just flows and all those scenes come together.
N. Michaels: Where did the idea for Exposure come from?
Jennifer: One afternoon several years ago, I was spending a day at home doing the laundry. Laundry is never my favorite thing to do, but according to the rest of my family I have some talent for it so I own it.
Not surprisingly, my mind began to wander while I plodded through the chore. As I was trying to carry a particularly large and awkward load of clothing from the utility room, I began thinking about what I’d really like to do with the bundle of clothing obstructing my line of sight as I negotiated some stairs.
That’s when I suddenly pictured Shaunna Noble storming out of Kyle Petersen’s movie set trailer and throwing all his clothes to the fans gathered nearby. And as I folded, hung up and put away the clean laundry, I kept replaying that picture and adding more and more elements to it until an entire scene was completely formed in my imagination.
Morgan and Jennifer: If you could change into any animal (and back) what animal would it be and why?
N. Michaels: If we’re talking about a real animal, it would be a black panther.
Reason: I’ve always loved cats, big or small. It’s the first place I’d run to when I’d go to the zoo, and as a child, I used to sneak stray cats and kittens into our home.
But why the black panther in particular?
That’s because when my late grandfather saw me as a baby for the first time he called me, Miegera, which in Russian slang means wild and rebellious woman, and for some unknown reason, the word reminds me of Bagheera, the black panther (black Indian leopard) who is a fictional character in Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli stories in The Jungle Book (coll. 1894) and The Second Jungle Book (coll. 1895).
If we’re talking about a mythical creature, I’d have to choose the Phoenix (which is actually one of the symbols for my astrologic sign, Scorpio.)
Reason: immortality and the ability to reinvent myself over and over again. To know with confidence that even after my fire has burned bright and I’m all but ashes, I will be reborn wiser and stronger.
N. Michaels: If you both could choose only one superpower, what would it be?
Morgan: At first, I wanted to pick invisibility but there’s no way to convince you people that it’s not to watch girls undress, so I’m picking invulnerability. If I can’t get hurt, there’s not much I couldn’t or wouldn’t do for mankind.
Jennifer: I thought of the ability to fly, but then I remembered I’m afraid of heights and realized that power would likely end up being wasted on me. So, instead I’d have to say the ability to see the future. I feel more comfortable when I know how things stand. I don’t do well having to wallow in the unknown.
N. Michaels: What was your first impression of each other when you first met?
Morgan: The first thing I liked about Jennifer was her style. She was the kind of girl who wore a pony tail (or for those of you who remember, a banana clip) and converse sneakers. Her blonde hair had a curly Q thing going for it in the front that always reminded me of Egon’s hair in the Ghostbusters cartoon. She was easy to smile and fun to dance with, and by the end of the night I was in love.
Jennifer: The night we met, Morgan was literally the first person I noticed when I walked in the room. He was exuberant and clearly the life of the party. I was nursing a broken heart at the time and had to be literally dragged out of the house by my friend when she suggested a night out. When she saw that I’d noticed Morgan, she made sure we were introduced within the hour. Once we began talking it was clear that he was intelligent, funny as hell and a swoon-worthy gentleman. By the time I returned home, I knew I’d met someone special.
Morgan and Jennifer: We see that (like Jennifer) you a wife, a mother and work full-time. How do you juggle all of this and find time for writing too? Maybe we could trade time management tips.
N. Michaels: At the time of writing Emerald Eyes I was a stay at home mom. I have trust issues when it comes to nannies and babysitters so I decided to stay home with them until they were big enough to go to daycare. I’m not passing judgment on those who do have nannies and babysitters, to each their own.
Currently, I am working full time (I’m actually typing this while on the bus on my way to Manhattan) and I usually write on the bus and on my days off. My full time job is very demanding and unfortunately, it slowed down my progress with Onyx Heart. I’d like to thank all my readers and friends who have been hounding me with emails and private messages regarding Onyx Heart’s release date, thank you for being so freaking wonderful, patient and supportive. ♡
So how do I juggle it all? I have an amazing mom and in-laws, who love my children as much I do. My husband learned to step in and take over when I can’t. Their help is how I manage to stay sane.
Thank you again for having me and for the lovely questions. I had a wonderful time! 🙂
This month’s Random Fan is Sydney Logan. Sydney is a fellow author and we met her online a few years ago. Sydney has published several novels and is about release her latest, Soldier On. The release day for her book is June 20, but you can pre-order a paperback now via Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Soldier-Sydney-Logan/dp/0692219242/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402074379&sr=1-3&keywords=sydney+logan
Many thanks to Sydney for signing on for this experiment with us.
Sydney: Congrats on your debut novel! What is your favorite aspect of publishing so far? What causes you the most anxiety?
Morgan and Jennifer: Thank you, Sydney. For us, our favorite thing about publishing Exposure was the opportunity to improve the story through the editing process. When we submitted to Omnific, the publisher received our second draft of the manuscript. Even so, our editor encouraged us to explore avenues we had initially hesitated to pursue. Although the editing process had its challenges, we knew the story was benefiting as a result.
The biggest anxiety we had to deal with was the waiting period between having our book accepted for publication and the release of the novel. We knew we had a fun story that people would enjoy, and it’s a real joy being able to share it with everyone now.
Morgan and Jennifer: Your latest novel, Soldier On, is scheduled for release on June 20. Can you tell us a bit about the story? What was your inspiration in writing it?
Sydney: Soldier On is about a college senior named Steph who lost her dad in Desert Storm. Because she never met her father, she’s always had a sort of irrational hatred for anything military related. She’s very focused on school. No dating. No partying. She’s just focused on graduation and getting her teaching degree. She meets Brandon at a New Year’s Eve costume party, and even though he’s dressed up as a soldier, she’s instantly attracted to him. Of course, she finds out later that his disguise is more than just a random costume, so Steph has to come to terms with the fact that she’s fallen in love with a soldier. Brandon is focused on graduation, too, but for entirely different reasons. His dad is a retired major general, and Brandon has always been expected to follow in his father’s military footsteps. Now that Brandon’s dad suffers from dementia, he is even more determined to please his father. But now that he’s met Steph, he’s not so sure he wants a military life. It’s definitely a coming-of-age story about growing up and having to make decisions you never thought you’d have to make.
Inspiration came from many different places for Soldier On. I was in the mood to write a New Adult novel that actually took place on a college campus, and I really, really wanted to write about a soldier. I didn’t, however, want to write about war, so I decided to make Brandon an ROTC student. I have a close friend whose mother had been battling Alzheimer’s for a while, and my friend had told me that someday, I should write a book about it. I don’t know if she even remembers saying it, but I always remembered it, and that’s where the inspiration for Brandon’s story comes from.
Sydney: I’m fascinated by the fact that you collaborate in your writing. What happens if you disagree on a particular plot point? How do you resolve that issue?
Morgan and Jennifer: Any time we disagree in writing, we each present our individual cases. So far, we’ve been able to hear one another out and come to a solution. We’ve been married for a while now and, over time, we’ve learned how to work through disagreements whether they have anything to with writing or not. The most important is to let one person talk while the other one listens.
Morgan and Jennifer: We’ve noticed that your stories tend to take place within the setting of Appalachia. Can you tell us a bit about why this part of the world is important in your writings?
Sydney: Appalachia is important in my writing because that’s where I was raised (and still live today). I think it’s important to show a side of Appalachia that’s very different from what people may see on television or in the news. Yes, we’re rural, and yes, we have communities that have been destroyed by poverty and meth, but we also have good-hearted, friendly people who are educated, well-read, and truly love living in the country. It’s a beautiful place, and it’s important to me that I showcase that in my stories. That being said, I’m sure I’ll change locales eventually. Soldier On actually takes place in a fictional college town in Indiana, but Brandon, my hero, is from Eastern Kentucky. I just couldn’t leave the mountains completely out of the story. 🙂
Sydney: I know we’re all music lovers. If you could pick three songs for the soundtrack of your lives together, which three would you choose and why?
Morgan and Jennifer: It’s difficult to narrow down to three songs, but here are the ones that came to mind first.
One More Story – Peter Cetera: It’s a song that was Important to us in our youth. Now, the song has a new meaning to us as adults and writers.
World to Me – Huey Lewis & The News: This is officially “our song”. It was chosen early in our relationship, and it was also the song that was played for the first dance at our wedding.
The Swing of Things – a-ha: We have varied musical tastes, but we both love the music of a-ha and agree that this song is one of their best.
Morgan and Jennifer: Which one of your books would you like to see made into a movie and why?
Sydney: Soldier On is so fresh in my mind that my first instinct is to choose that one, but many readers have told me that Lessons Learned “reads” like a movie. Plus, Matt’s story would be very timely and socially relevant.
(Jennifer: Having read Lessons Learned, I agree with my fellow readers! 🙂
This month’s Random Fan is Terry the Nurse. We met Terry online a while ago and we were lucky enough to meet Terry in person in September 2013. If you follow the Argyle Empire blog, you will no doubt recognize Terry as author of some wonderful articles highlighting literature, music and art featured in the Gabriel Series by Sylvain Reynard. You can read one of those articles here: http://www.argyleempire.com/2013/06/why-did-gabriel-select-puccinis-madame.html
Many thanks to Terry for signing on for this experiment with us.
Terry: I’m fascinated that you two actually write together. I have a hard enough time writing on my own. Can you give us some idea how you do it?
Morgan and Jennifer: So far there’s no one formula that works best. Each project we’ve worked on has been constructed differently. Sometimes one of us writes, while the other edits.
Jennifer: In the case of our novel, Exposure, it was a true collaboration. The story idea was mine and I mentioned it to Morgan one night. He liked the premise immediately and encouraged me to pursue it, but I was hesitant to tackle it on my own for several reasons. So I asked Morgan if he would write it with me, and he eagerly agreed.
Morgan: We outlined chapters together, and then one of us would take a crack at writing the first draft. When that was done, the chapter was passed on to the other writer for additions and amendments. We also asked several trusted friends to beta read the chapters for feedback. Since there were two of us writing the story, it was critical to have some neutral sets of eyes to look over the manuscript. It helped us to know if we were hitting all the right marks in our storytelling.
Morgan and Jennifer: We know you’ve written some fabulous articles for Argyle Empire, so we’re curious to know more about your background with writing.
Terry: Thank you for the compliment. I’ve been doing expository writing for many years – mostly for magazines and/or journals that deal with nursing practice or other academic work. I am always admiring those of you who can write fiction – I have no talent in that area! My writing experience is almost entirely non-fiction, essay, or expository, which probably comes from my love for the arts and sciences. I’m a voracious non-fiction reader, too; most expository writers love to explore what they’ve learned through their reading and share it with others.
The Argyle Empire posts were particularly special to me. Not only did I want to share the multifaceted beauty of SR’s books and writing with a larger audience on line, but I also wanted to introduce some of the more artistic works (found in the books) to those who may not have an exposure to the Arts. I love pop culture, but you can see that there is something about the classics that survive time, circumstances, and cultural transformation. They are truly timeless, and I loved uncovering some of those gems in the Gabriel Series for the AE website. I hope I was able to tickle a budding interest in opera and literature for some of SR’s readers.
Terry: SR says write every day, and I know you guys do. I also know that you work, raise 2 active kids, have housekeeping duties, and have to do the cursed food shopping. I’ve always been curious how you both developed the discipline to not just say, “I’m tired. I’ll write tomorrow.” How? What inspires you to not procrastinate?
Morgan: There are months when I write every day, but then there are months when I don’t. I have discipline in bursts. It depends on whether I’m writing brand new material or editing an existing project. The new stuff comes in spurts. The seasoned stuff simmers for a while.
Jennifer: I write quite a bit for my real life job, so that helps me stay focused on the activity of it. But since my fiction writing has to take place in my off hours, I have to budget time for it. Some days this can be frustrating because I’ll be anxious to work on a scene or a chapter and there simply isn’t time. But most of the time it works well for me because I like to think about scenes quite a bit before I sit down to the computer to create them.
Morgan and Jennifer: If you could go back in time and witness any event in history, what would it be? And…would you intervene to influence its course?
Terry: I am so old that I actually did witness (as a child) the event that I believe changed the course of the latter half of the 20th century, and still reverberates today. The event is the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November, 1963. I love American history, but this one event I think changed the course of history and caused a sea change in what happened afterward. Witnessing a presidential assassination is traumatic in itself, but I believe things would have been very different had JFK not gone to Dallas that day. It is likely that we would not have had a Viet Nam war (at least not its escalation) which would have prevented the protest movements of the 1960s, our massive distrust in government, Nixon and Watergate….the list is endless. At the same time, I don’t think I would have intervened if I could. Without the antiwar movement, we wouldn’t have had the women’s movement, the gay rights movement, or many of the other social movements that came out of the 60s and that permanently changed American life. It’s an interesting way to think about the legacy of the JFK assassination.
Morgan and Jennifer: What song best describes you? Why?
Terry: I think the song that best describes me is Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger.” Ever since I was diagnosed with uterine cancer in early 2013, I’ve had to be a warrior. It’s true: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I have wonderful friends and family helping me fight the battle, but in the end, it’s all about your attitude in adversity. You just can’t let the small stuff (or the big stuff) get you down. I strongly believe that a positive attitude has a lot to do with healing from a catastrophic illness. I try to be a good example of that.
Terry: Who killed off Joffrey???? My vote is Grandmom. (Diana Rigg)
Morgan and Jennifer: We know who didn’t kill Joffrey, and that’s Tyrion. #FreeTyrion
Terry: You both have a fabulous sense of humor. Do you find that you bring that to your writing? Does it make it easier/harder?
Morgan: I can’t help it. I have always had a desire to find the levity in any situation and have always been rewarded with laughter. Jennifer’s original vision for Exposure had always included a despicable villain and a fun relatable group of main characters. People laughing together is about as relatable as it gets for me. Most of my great party observations are just me repeating something Jennifer whispered to me. She has always made me laugh, and is goodly enough to laugh in turn at my humorous antics.
Jennifer: I adore reading stories that include brilliant bits of humor. Someday I’d like to write one, but I’ll have to work up to it. Morgan’s sense of humor is one his defining characteristics and something that caught my attention almost immediately the night we met. He is extroverted and often fearless; whereas I’m more snarky and observational. Either way, we both love to laugh and I can’t imagine working on a project together and being able to completely withhold that from a narrative.
This month’s Random Fan is Tosha, who has her own online radio show called La Literati. It is a show about poetry, books and creative, inspiring people of all kinds. Morgan and I were honored when Tosha asked us to appear on the show. You can listen to our interview live on April 27 at 6:00 pm Eastern time. In the meantime, if you’d like to know more about La Literati, be sure to visit at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/laliteraticarpelibrum.
Many thanks to Tosha for signing on for this experiment with us.
Morgan and Jennifer: How did the La Literati online radio show come about? What do you enjoy most about the show?
Tosha: I’ve always had a passion for reading and writing. Authors and poets are truly my heroes. I wanted a way to pay tribute to the creative mind. La Literati was born out of that idea. I asked my dear friend and fellow bibliophile, James Dennard, to come along for the journey. He graciously agreed, and the rest is history.
The best part about doing the show is connecting with writers. It’s always exciting to hear their creative process. We want La Literati to not only be a platform for established authors, but also for up and coming ones.
Tosha: It’s an honor to be your fan of the month, but why not fan of the year? Can you tell me a bit about your upcoming book?
Morgan and Jennifer: Sure, thanks for asking. This summer, we will be publishing our first novel with Omnific Publishing. The book is called Exposure and is a contemporary romance set in present day Hollywood. We decided to write it together after Jennifer shared the story idea with Morgan over a date night dinner. We’d say it leans more toward the comedic than the dramatic, but there is a dastardly villain to elevate the tension and there are also some pretty steamy love scenes.
Morgan and Jennifer: Was there a particular book or a series of books that inspired your love of reading and books? Where did it all begin?
Tosha: It all started from C.S. Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia. As a child, I used to spend endless hours trying to travel through my wardrobe. 🙂 I also loved Dr. Seuss and The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner.
Jennifer: Your answer takes me back, Tosha. When I was growing up, the boy who lived next door to me was considerably older but whenever his parents babysat me, he would read to me from the Narnia books. When he graduated high school and went off to college, he gifted me with a set of my own. And my third grade teacher read The Boxcar Children to my class. Those were some of my favorite moments in childhood.
Tosha: What do you feel is the difference between male and female points of view?
Jennifer: One of the reasons I asked Morgan to co-write Exposure with me was because I had a very specific male villain in mind and I was determined to write him correctly. I knew Morgan would be more likely to tap into that male energy and help bring the character fully to life. Not to say that he strictly wrote the male characters or that I stuck to the female characters, but his input on certain reactions for the male characters in our novel was instrumental.
Morgan: Jennifer’s passes on the manuscript brought out more and more emotion and tone. The characters were well-drawn, but not yet colored and she filled them in. Once we both saw what the other was adding to the process, we both gained the ability to find places to boost the necessary aspects important to a particular scene.
Jennifer: When I’m asked a question like this, I always rely on my experience as a parent. I have a son and a daughter, and I would say there is only one major difference I’ve noticed between the two. My son tends to be frustrated or annoyed by situations. As his mother, I realized early on that if I could successfully distract him from the situation that was upsetting him, he’d quickly forget about it and move on with his day. Not so with my daughter. My daughter always becomes irritated or angry at the person(s) she feels is responsible for causing a disagreeable situation. Her reactions are always more personal than situational, and as such she usually needs to find her resolutions by discussing her feelings with the people she’s been upset by.
Tosha: You discover a beautiful island upon which you may build your own utopia. What are the first three rules you put into place?
Morgan: Everyone gets a vote. Everyone gets a chance. Everyone gets a chalupa.
Morgan and Jennifer: What author would you love to interview on your show that you haven’t had the chance to yet? Why?
Tosha: This is a tough question. There are so many!! I’m going go with Morgan and Jenn Locklear. I’m told there will be candy if I do. 🙂
Morgan: Would you settle for a chalupa?
This month’s Random Fan is Susi, who has her own blog called Reading Between The Wines where she discusses books, wine and food. If you’d like to know more about Susi and her blog, be sure to visit at http://readingbetweenthewinesblog.com/.
Many thanks to Susi for signing on for this experiment with us.
Morgan and Jennifer: As a foodie, which is your favorite to prepare – breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert? Why?
Susi: I cannot say that I have a favorite dish to prepare. I love making desserts but I love preparing dinner too. I took pastry chef classes when my boys were young because I always enjoyed making all of the desserts and treats for their parties. I took cake decorating classes too. I learned the art of fondant from one of the best cake decorators in Miami.
As my kids grew, healthy dinners became even more important. I have always had a large collection of cookbooks and I take recipes from those cookbooks and make my own changes to suit my family needs and tastes. I love it when my younger son, the pickiest eater of them all tells me, “Mom, please repeat this dish. It was awesome!”
I love food. I consider myself a foodie. Whenever I am not reading, I am watching Food Network. Not many people know this, but my husband and I want to open a restaurant someday. It is a dream for us.
Susi: Did you always want to write together as a team? What challenges do you encounter writing as a team?
Jennifer: Morgan first began writing fiction in 2008 when he signed up for his first NaNoWriMo, but I didn’t become involved until two years later. Morgan began writing and posting a story online and asked me to edit it for him. This ended up turning into a two year commitment. During that time, I was inspired to give writing a try. I posted a short story online in 2011, and since then we’ve both writing on one project or another.
Morgan: The hardest part is the editing process. When we’re trying to reword a sentence, for instance, two solutions usually present themselves and together we have to agree on which thought is the better one to go with. It’s not a bad thing, but it can slow the editing process down because the decision can’t always be made spontaneously.
Morgan and Jennifer: We noticed you have a segment on your blog called Throwback Thursday. What books did you read in childhood that you still read today?
Susi: I grew up with an older brother (11 years older) who would leave books lying around. I inherited many of his books which is probably why I love science fiction. I was fortunate to have a librarian living across the street too. She didn’t have any children of her own. For this reason, she saw a daughter in me. She would bring me all of the latest books to read. I read many Judy Blume books, Beverly Cleary books, and especially loved reading Nancy Drew Mysteries. I still read these books today. My students love it when I tell them that they were my childhood favorites.
Susi: I love that you focus on charities via social media. What inspired you to do this?
Jennifer: Community service always has been an important part of our lives. Over the years, we’ve donated our free time to several local causes – volunteering for the American Cancer Society, mentoring teen parents, promoting the performing arts, fundraising to develop ocean literacy programs for school children throughout our state and working to obtain affordable healthcare for women and children in our local area. We have found great joy in donating both our time and our dollars to various organizations, and know that our lives would be incomplete without these experiences.
Susi: How important is writing to you both as parents? Do you encourage your own children to read and write?
Morgan: Reading and writing is the key to unlocking true imagination, and as such all children should be exposed to it. Both of our children are readers. Our son has shown an occasional interest in composing poetry and has experimented with songwriting, while our daughter is showing an aptitude toward creative story writing. Hopefully, these are interests they’ll maintain into adulthood.
Morgan and Jennifer: As a teacher, how do you inspire your students to learn to love reading and writing? What books do you like to use to wake up their minds?
Susi: First of all, I read to my students every single day. I read books, magazine articles, newspapers etc. I encourage them to read from whatever sources they enjoy. Some of the books that I have read this year to my students are The Kingdom Keepers Series by Ridley Pearson. I also read Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan and The Secret Garden by Frances H. Burnett because I feel it is important to expose the students to classics. I also have read some short stories by Edgar Allen Poe as well as excerpts from novels that I have read. We are currently reading books by Roald Dahl.
My students laugh because I highlight in my books. I find examples of imagery and figurative language that I think they would enjoy and make a teachable moment out of it.
This year, I created a blog for my students. They are now writing their own short reviews of the books that they have read. It is fun for them. They look forward to comments on their posts. As a Language Arts teacher, I encourage students to write everyday. We start our day with creative journals and a lesson on a new vocabulary word of the day. I always look for words that are above their grade level. I call it infusing mature vocabulary into our day.
My blog received special attention this year. Because we added a Spanish component to our blog, I had royal visitors in my classroom. I had the honor of meeting the Prince and Princess of Asturias, Spain. This was momentous occasion for my students and for me. It was an honor and probably the highlight of my teaching career.
Susi: Do you have plans to write a full length book together to publish? If so, what genre?
Morgan and Jennifer: Actually, you have scored yourself a bit of a scoop here. We’re excited to announce that we recently signed a contract and will be publishing a contemporary romance. We’re looking forward to saying more soon, and will share further details about this just as soon as we can.
Today’s post is a segment we like to call Random Fan and here are the rules:
Once a month Morgan and I will invite one of you to ask us three questions, but be prepared because we get to ask three of our own in return.
If you’d like to opt in, please leave a comment below and your name will be entered into consideration.
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This month’s Random Fan is Daisy Prescott, author of Geoducks Are For Lovers and Ready to Fall. Many thanks to Daisy for signing on for this experiment. If you’d like to know more about Daisy and her novels, be sure to visit her website: http://daisyprescott.com/
Morgan and Jennifer: We first met John Day in Geoducks Are For Lovers and then saw his story more fully explored in Ready to Fall. We’re curious to know if you had a thing for lumberjacks before writing your first book or was that something you discovered in the process of writing the story?
Daisy Prescott: Can I plead the Fifth? I’ve always loved the Monty Python song, but not sure if I have a fetish for lumberjacks. I think I have a thing for real men of the Pacific Northwest. It’s no secret that I lived on Whidbey and have spent time in the area my entire life. I’ve met real-life loggers, but none of them hold a candle to John Day.
John’s story surprised me. He had such a small supporting role in Geoducks. When I read through his parts in Geoducks before starting to write Ready to Fall, I was surprised how little we knew about him other than the plaid shirt, his logging job, and Quinn’s “Paul Bunyan” nickname. Yet readers loved him and begged for more. I read a lot about modern logging, forestry majors to make sure I got that stuff right, even if you don’t see it on the page.
I know I’m not the only one who has a thing for a rugged, bearded, alpha male in flannel.
Daisy Prescott: When writing “steamy times”, do you do personal research? lol I ask because Ready to Fall is all in John’s POV. My husband was a much appreciated research consultant on the book. 😉
*The Locklear’s glance surreptitiously at one another*
Morgan: For the most part…no. Although that’s not to say that working on a love scene hasn’t brought about an inspirational moment or two.
Jennifer: Let us just say that it usually becomes obvious to one partner when the other has been working on a particularly amorous chapter.
Morgan and Jennifer: Would you ever consider collaborating on a writing project with someone else? Or do you prefer to go solo?
Daisy Prescott: I came really close to co-writing a project with another author recently. Our schedules didn’t work out, but I’m open to the idea. My husband has been a part of my plotting sessions on all my writing projects. I love his input and couldn’t have done John’s story in male POV without it. Even if I’m writing solo, it’s a collaborative endeavor from plotting to working with beta readers. Each reader or editor leaves a mark on the story.
Daisy Prescott: As co-writers, what is your writing process? Do you plot or pants?
Morgan and Jennifer: That really depends on the story. So far, plot ideas have been either Morgan’s or Jennifer’s and not the result of brainstorming together. We do outline to a certain extent, but we also like to allow enough room for the characters to have their say. Sometimes, they take us on a journey we weren’t expecting to go on.
Once an idea has been brought forward, that person decides what kind of help or input they want from the partner. Sometimes one writes, while the other edits. Sometimes we write together. When that happens, we discuss scenes or chapters before writing and determine which one of us is more excited about tackling a particular portion of a story. The first draft is always written by one of us, and then we’ll go through that draft together to figure out what things could be added or amended. The second person will then take their pass at it, and then we’ll meet up again for a second edit.
Morgan and Jennifer: If you could live in any city for a year to research a setting, which one would it be? And what kind of book would you write as a result?
Daisy Prescott: Great question. For me it is impossible to write about a place I’ve never been. I need to know how it sounds and smells—things you can’t get from Google Maps. Luckily I’ve been blessed to travel. My next book takes place away from the familiar beaches and towns of Whidbey Island. Right now it takes place in three settings: Portland, Amsterdam and Ghana.
I’d love the chance to go back to Ghana for a year to live in the capitol of Accra and write. My husband and I visited there for a few weeks several years ago, so in addition to online research, I’ll be writing descriptions from memory. The book will be a contemporary adult romance with a few Out of Africa influences.
Daisy Prescott: Do you have a favorite genre to read/write that the other person dislikes? How do you balance that?
Morgan: I read a Men’s Adventure series called Death Lands. I have since college, and Jennifer has never shown any interest in reading it. Even so, I know it has greatly influenced my own style of writing, including the more erotic scenes. I think Jennifer reads more romance than I do, but I enjoy writing romance with her.
Jennifer: Reading is something we’ve both enjoyed since we began dating, so many times we do pass books back and forth to one another. We also read several books together each year and I think this act helps to balance out our differences.
Morgan is right, I’ve never read one of his Death Lands books, and probably never will. It’s not an enticing idea to me. Morgan also tends to read more reference books than I do, and I’m good with letting him summarize it all for me. I’m still recovering from my time in college (when I was buried in Accounting, Finance and Economics textbooks)and am mostly very content with losing myself in fiction.
Our thanks once again to Daisy for stopping by our blog. If you’re looking for intelligent, witty and sweet romances set within the rugged beauty of the Pacific Northwest, do yourself a huge favor and give Daisy’s novels a go. We promise you won’t be disappointed!
Today’s post is a segment we like to call Random Fan and here are the rules:
Once a month Morgan and I will invite one of you to ask us three questions, but be prepared because we get to ask three of our own in return.
If you’d like to opt in, please leave a comment below and your name will be entered into consideration. January’s Random Fan will be chosen and contacted via email on December 10.
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This month’s Random Fan is DebraDML. Many thanks to Debra for signing on for this experiment. If you’d like to know more about Debra and her blog, be sure to visit Words Across The Oceans at http://debradml.com/
Debra: You both have stories on the ‘Twilight Fan Fiction’ site, what is your opinion as writers sharing your stories via there?
Morgan & Jennifer: We’d never heard of Fan Fiction until late 2009, but the Twilight community was one that we immediately connected with. Within six weeks of discovering Fan Fiction, Morgan began writing and posting a story of his own and recruited Jennifer as editor. We only expected a handful of online acquaintances to read the story, but much to our surprise, it was well-received in the community. We always appreciated that people not only took the time to read the story, but took the time to submit reviews and feedback about it. We were able to interact with authors, editors, bloggers and readers at all levels and met so many wonderful people as a result. Posting Fan Fiction was a great way to learn how to write and develop the required discipline to transform an idea into a completed story. During the first two years we were involved in Fan Fiction, we were writing, editing and posting an average of 10,000 words a week. Once we came through the end of that process (and took a few deep breaths), we felt wholly confident in our skills and our ability to work together as a writing team.
Morgan & Jennifer: What inspired you to take such an active role via your blog to promote up and coming authors and poets?
Debra: Hmmm it’s a bit of a story… I found Twitter after reading Sylvain Reynard’s books (Gabriel’s Inferno & Garbriels Rapture) and Googled him as I wanted to read more of his work! So through him I have found Twitter, Goodreads, Twilight Fan Fiction and peoples’ Blogs… and my world just kept opening up! In this past year I have been amazed by the tremendous amount of talented Authors and Poets that I have come across, especially ones whom are yet to be discovered!
An exceptional poet, Mr. Darwin Blake, inspired me a lot with his Blog, such wonderful magical words and I found myself starting to write Poetry again after 20+ years … and a friend Dana Marion, whom I’ve connected with through our love of SR’s Books via Twitter, gave me the courage to start a Blog!
So after starting my Blog and tapping back into my creative side I thought it was also a great way to help support and share my love of these amazing talented Authors and Poets that were yet to be discovered! 🙂
Morgan & Jennifer: You’ve shared some of your own poetry on your website, Words Across The Oceans. Have you written any fiction or is poetry your true love?
Debra: No I never have dabbled in writing Fiction …only back in school! Poetry is definitely my true love, from a young age it touched me and evoked such emotions that wanting to write and express myself through poems has just been a natural process to me!
Debra: What do you think about Social Media as an avenue for getting independent writers out there?
Morgan & Jennifer: Social media is quite simply the biggest marketing tool out there for any endeavor. Whether it’s corporate advertising or promotion for independent writers, everyone is using social media. For us, we’ve never written without relying on a strong connection to an online community. Given our rural location, it would be difficult for us to achieve a significant following without utilizing social media. It has been a critical component in our journey.
Having said that, we believe that social media must be maintained responsibly; it should never be used to hurt other people or perpetuate other kinds of negativity. Unfortunately, that’s not a reality in the online world and it’s a real shame. During our time online, we have witnessed cyber-bullying and have been on the receiving end of such attacks a time or two. It’s inevitable that you will have to put up with it if you’re utilizing social media for the long run, but we guarantee it’s not a practice we tolerate.
Debra: If you could invite anyone famous over for dinner, who would you choose?
Morgan: Robert Zemeckis. One of the most interesting writers and directors I’ve ever seen. I would spend my time trying to charm my way into his next movie.
Jennifer: I’m not sure I can zero in on just one person. That’s a tough one. Whoever it is, they would have to be a true extrovert as I’m shy and find social engagements like that intimidating. Anyone I choose would have their work cut out for them.
Morgan & Jennifer: If you could travel back to any time in history, which era would you pick and why?
Debra: Wow this is a bit of a doozy … after just reading Kat Bastion’s Highlander series my immediate response is the 13th Centuary to the Scottish Highlands, Brodie Clan!!! Oh how I love a man in a kilt lol ;-P
But also I am a huge lover of Jane Austen’s works and am fascinated how her work has transcended over time… so I would love to be able to go back in time to her period in early 1800’s …meet her of course and experience what life was like back then… oh and maybe meet a Mr. Darcy lol
I also would like to take this opportunity say thank-you so much to you both for taking an interest in me and my blog, I am truly honoured! I have loved connecting with you both over this past year as you are both such inspiring people… not only with your amazing talented Fan Fiction stories but with all the love and support that you both spread daily! Hope to meet you both one day, it would be truly ‘Awesomesauce’ 😉 xox
Morgan & Jennifer: Thank you so much for participating in Random Fan, Deb. We’re very glad to have met you online and we’d love to visit your corner of the world sometime. You never know when our paths might cross in real life!
Today’s post is a segment we like to call Random Fan and here are the rules:
Once a month Morgan and I will invite one of you to ask us three questions, but be prepared because we get to ask three of our own in return.
If you’d like to opt in, please leave a comment below and your name will be entered into consideration. December’s Random Fan will be chosen by Random.org and will be contacted via email on November 10.
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Our very first Random Fan is none other than the Almost Famous Author, Mr. Darwin Blake. Many thanks to Darwin for signing on for this experiment. If you’d like to know more about Mr. Blake and his body of work, be sure to visit his site at http://darwinblake.com/
Darwin Blake: Is it frustrating working as a team on projects?
MOG and Jenn: Quite the opposite. Writing is by nature a solitary endeavor, but in our experience having another person to encourage and enhance the process has only improved the quality of the story. We don’t always write together, but we do always work a story together. Sometimes Morgan writes while Jennifer edits and vice versa. But we always outline together and find that the time spent with one another on writing projects has even strengthened our personal relationship.
MOG and Jenn: What poet would you most like to be compared to?
Darwin Blake: My my what a question…Robert Burns is a huge influence but there are so many to choose from. I like to read a lot of modern poetry especially my friends P.J Bayliss, Tammy Louise-Wilkins, Heavenly Haven and Miss B.L Ronan.
Darwin Blake: When we meet (and we will) how will you greet me? (This is more for Morgan because I want man hugs!)
MOG: I think Tommy Boy said it best when he declared, “Brothers gotta hug!”
MOG and Jenn: What city in America would you most like to visit?
Darwin Blake: Oh lots, New York, Washington..lots! I also want to go to Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland. and of course Seattle.
Darwin Blake: What’s your favourite song?
Jenn: The Swing of Things by a-ha. I’m a lifelong fan and Scoundrel Days is hands down my favorite album of theirs. I still vividly remember the afternoon when I sat in my best friend’s bedroom while we listened to that song for the first time.
MOG: First of all, you must understand how difficult a question this is for me to answer. It would pain me to choose my Top Five favorite songs, let alone just one. You don’t know how hard it was not to pick Sell Me by Eartha Kitt or Indifference by Pearl Jam. But my very favorite song in the whole world is The Friends of Mr. Cairo by Jon and Vangelis. It’s an epic twelve minute song that celebrates Film Noir, sung by the frontman of the legendary rock band, Yes.
MOG and Jenn: Have you ever written songs? Would you like to?
Darwin Blake: Of course, I may try my hand one day, who knows what will come? I believe that anyone who has written a poem or prose is a wordsmith, all we need is the music for the words.