Monday, January 18, 2021

The Eleventh Issue

 




If you’re the type that likes to make resolutions, we’re three weeks into 2021.  How are they going for you?  I’m more inclined to set short term goals and try to achieve those.  Then as the song goes “One Thing Leads to Another.” 

That applies to my efforts at writing, promoting and the newsletter. It’s my goal to share some information with you about various topics, a little snippet from a current project, introduce you to another author and, of course, music.  Even a dinosaur such as me understands the power that music can have.

So, let’s get to it!

Writing

 

Every great story revolves around a conflict or two. Or three. You can see this in books, television shows or movies.  It could be the good cop trying to catch the killer. Perhaps it’s about the bashful guy trying to win over the beautiful girl. Maybe it’s a young woman, striving to achieve her goals, putting herself through college and beginning her career.

Identifying those conflicts can be easy. Resolving them can be a challenge. What steps will your characters take? In “Why 319?” Chene and his squad are determined to find the serial killer, who leaves that daunting message at each crime scene.  They have to solve the riddle and stop the killer.  In “Vanishing Act” Jamie strives to identify Linda’s kidnapper and where she’s being held.

There may be secondary conflicts in a story as well. In “Your Turn to Die” Chene visits with retired mobster Leo Agonasti to gather information. The fact that he’s still connecting with him irritates Pappy Cantrell and puts stress on their working relationship.  But these type of situations can occur in real life, which makes the characters and issues believable.  These subplots make your players multi-dimensional, just like real people. And that’s what your readers want. People they can identify with.

 

                                         Work In Progress

The latest installment in the Jefferson Chene series continues to develop as more scenes are added.  Stitching these together into something that makes sense is how I imagine quilts are made.

Here’s an excerpt.  Chene and FBI agent Banks are beginning their first day of the joint cold case investigation into the murder of Charity Gray.

“So where are we headed?” Banks asked.

“Going to talk to a source. Make some connections.”

She shifted and looked right at me.  “You’ve had the case files less than twelve hours and you already have a source?”

“Sometimes it works that way.”

I could have made this drive with my eyes closed. The Pontiac seemed to know exactly where to go.  I pulled into the lot besides the old building. There was plenty of room to park.

Banks gave me an incredulous look. “We’re going to church?”

“Like I said, meeting a source.”

“You trying to tell me that your source attends early morning religious services on a Tuesday?”

I bit back a grin. “Something like that.”

We headed to the rear doors. Inside the large cathedral there was a small gathering, about thirty people, scattered amongst the pews closer to the altar.  We ducked into a row near the back of the church and watched the priest and an altar boy distribute communion. There was a blessing, followed by a brief prayer and a hymn. The altar boy collected a crucifix on a long pole and led the priest to the back of the church as the song faded. The priest’s hands were pressed together in prayer as he drew close. I caught the nod and the wink he threw.

We waited while the faithful trickled out the various doors. Banks raised her palms and shot me a quizzical look. Only when I heard his footsteps behind us did I get to my feet.

“Hello, Jefferson. It’s been a long time.”

“That is has, Father Dovensky.  You’re looking well.”

He scoffed and patted his protruding stomach beneath the vestments. “Maybe I will take up jogging. Or tennis.”

“Start with a long walk. Ease into it.”

“Should I assume your appearance today is related more to your profession than mine?”

“That’s a safe assumption.” I gestured to Banks.  “This is Special Agent Banks with the FBI. We’re working on a case together.”

Dovensky turned his full attention on her and extended his hand. Banks gave him a firm shake but the old man didn’t let go. Instead he took her hand in both of his and stared intently at her eyes.

“I’m a humble priest, but it’s always been my habit to address others by their given name. What do your parents call you, my dear?”

Banks hesitated. I noticed a flush of color creeping up her neck as she responded. “Robin.”

“Robin?”

She nodded. The color rose to her cheeks as a smile tugged at her lips.

“Robin Banks?” Dovensky was unable to keep from snorting out a laugh. “And you’re an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigations! Your parents obviously had a sense of humor.”

“It’s a long story.”

Dovensky was still chuckling. “Those are the best kind. Jefferson, why don’t you escort Robin to my office while I finish up. I’m sure you remember the way.”

“Of course, Father. C’mon, Banks.”

I led her up a side aisle as the priest walked to the altar. In my peripheral vision, he was still laughing, shaking his head.

 

 Here's a possible picture of Agent Banks

 

 

 

                                              Author Interview

 

It’s always interesting to meet new authors. Over the years while attending various events, I’ve crossed paths with Marianne Waddill Wieland. She’s been busy, putting together a catalog of stories in several genres.  Now’s a perfect time to visit with her.



Where are you from? 

I was born in Beckley, West Virginia, which is the setting for my 'Mountain Mama' series. However, I was raised on the east coast in the tourist town of Williamsburg, Virginia. Currently I live in Bellevue, MI.
What’s your ‘someday’ or dream vacation spot and why?

I would like to go to Bangladesh or Malaysia. I have lots of friends in those places.

What’s your favorite thing to do for relaxation?

Rest and watch Netflix or DVDs. Or read a good book. Rarely happens, though!

Any favorite hobbies?

I’ve been on stage most of my life singing and dancing. I like to sing in bands. But my favorite thing is writing and directing musicals. If I could do that full time, I would be happy. Also cooking. I have a cookbook coming out later in the month with food mentioned in all my books.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing most of my life. Lots of short stories. I never did anything with them. Just put them in a box in the closet. I started writing musicals for different venues many years ago but never thought to try to have them published. I wrote my first novel in 2015, when I was stuck at home after surgery. It has escalated since then.

Are you able to write full time or do you also have a job/career?

I have been a nurse and a teacher for many years. I started working for myself doing counseling a couple of years ago. That has allowed me to be able to write full time, but without any family support, it’s hard to do.

Is there a particular genre that you write?  Or more than one?  What led you there?

I started out writing romance. The ‘Mountain Mama’ series is contemporary romance. ‘Covert Mission Files’ series is adult military intrigue. The ‘Moments in Time’ has one book of romance stories and the other suspense and dark comedy. It was a challenge to write in that genre but some friends dared me to do it. Both novel series have elements of mystery, comedy, tragedy, food and music. Cooking and music are very close to my heart.

Do you use friends or family as characters in your work?

Some of myself is in every book. I have characters patterned after some family members and I have a friend that asked to be part of my ‘Mountain Mama’ series, so I wrote a character for him. He has since passed away, but I promised his family he would live on in my writing. My 'Henry' books are based on the fake Facebook profile of a friend of mine. He asked me to write our fictional meeting and make it 'racy'. We never had the kind of relationship, but I never believed he was who he said he was. So I wrote the book in that manner. Later he came clean and admitted he was really a Nigerian scam artist. But I liked the fake character so I kept it and got a good book series out of it!

What authors had an impact on you growing up and as an adult? 
Dr. Seuss was my first favorite author. In my teens I loved mysteries written by Phyllis Whitney. Eventually I became interested in the books by Frank Perretti. Now I like books by Julie James. She writes romance surrounding the legal field.

Has anyone in your life influenced you or encouraged you to pursue your interests of writing?

My friend Richard that passed away was my biggest supporter. He is the one that is a character in my book. Richard inspired me to start writing short stories and helped me step out of my comfort zone. My friend Paula Hawkins has been with me, giving support and input into my books since the beginning. She does some editing as well.

What is your favorite aspect or writing? Your least favorite?

I love building the characters and incorporating them into a good plot. My least favorite is editing, but I do most of that as I am writing.

 


Buy Links

www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08KSW23XS/

 

                                                                          Music

An artist whose work is frequently on my playlist is Bruce Springsteen. For over fifty years, Springsteen has been entertaining the world with his songs. He’s covered the gamut from hard rock to soft, with many tunes that speak to the heartland. 

Bruce Springsteen has sold more than 150 million albums across the globe, capturing more than 20 Grammy awards, along with an Oscar, and a Tony award. He was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and received the Kennedy Center Honors and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


Here’s my top five list of favorites.

Fire:   https://youtu.be/d5PoIrcyd34

Dancing in the Dark: https://youtu.be/129kuDCQtHs

Rosalita: https://youtu.be/CYHGh6lmSbo 

Thunder Road: https://youtu.be/JGBXnw86Mgc

10th Avenue Freezeout:  https://youtu.be/KzrtlXuiV3Y

 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

The Tenth Issue

 

                         


                                             Happy Holidays! 

I am definitely part of the majority that cannot wait for this year to end. We’re all very hopeful that 2021 will be dramatically better in so many ways. For the writers among us, quarantines and restrictions on social gatherings have resulted in time to write.  December is a time to reflect on what I’ve accomplished as a writer and what the future holds.

So it’s time for my next newsletter offering, with a glimpse at a work in progress and an interview with one of my favorite characters.  Of course, there’s music to be shared. Let’s roll!

                     

Writing

Earlier this month, one of my students (I teach business courses at the local college) asked where I get ideas from for my stories.  She’s expressed interest before about writing.  I explained that an idea can strike me anywhere, at any time. It could be something I witnessed, a conversation that’s overheard or triggered by a song on the stereo.  Sometimes it’s like Zeus zaps me with a lightning bolt. Or it can be a little voice beside me that whispers “Oh, that would be a sneaky twist!”

My student didn’t seem satisfied with that response. Perhaps she was expecting me to refer to a store or a website. I can see it now.  Story ideas, 3 for $10!  Holiday Sale!  Maybe there are different sites for different genres.  Or there could be a little corner of the Barnes & Noble store where a gnarled old man sits on a stool behind the counter. When you tell him what kind of story you’re interested in, he spits out an idea, like a writing prompt.

The student didn’t seem convinced. Maybe she thinks I’m withholding information, not wanting to divulge trade secrets. But that’s not the case. Most writers will tell you the same thing. It’s a matter of observation, of watching and listening and letting your imagination kick in. A good idea for a story is no different that a good idea for a product or service.

It can come from anywhere.

 

Work in Progress

As the school semester comes to an end, I’m looking forward to some time on the keyboard, working on the next Chene novel.  It’s coming together nicely, but there are still many scenes to carve out.  Some interactions between characters are essential, to help develop the players and to keep the story moving. Understand that this is a Work in Progress, so there’s no guarantee this scene will make the editor’s cut. But I’m always hopeful.

Here’s a little interaction between Chene and FBI agent Banks, who are taking a lunch break in the middle of the joint investigation.

 

We entered and took a table in the back. I prefer to sit facing the door, so I can see trouble if it’s headed my way. Banks settled in across from me and picked up a laminated menu.

“What’s good?”

“Everything. People will line up for corned beef and not just on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s legendary.”

She scanned the menu as the waitress appeared. I got a brief nod of recognition.

“Pastrami on rye, with deli mustard and iced tea,” I ordered.

Banks looked up. “I’ll try the turkey with Swiss cheese and mayo, on white bread and a Diet Coke.”

The waitress did her level best not to burst out laughing. She hustled away to place the order.

“Turkey on white bread with mayonnaise. You sure know how to live on the wild side, Banks.”

She shrugged. “I’m a suburban WASP. Deal with it.”

“Wouldn’t hurt you to expand those culinary horizons a little.”

I pulled the list from Sister Augusta. Near the bottom was the name and contact information for Leon LaChance, a retired science teacher. Banks gave me a quizzical look as I circled the number.

“What happened to doing the interviews in person?”

“LaChance retired and moved away. From what Mary Margaret said, he lives up in the Traverse City area during the summer and Savannah, Georgia in the winter. So, unless you have access to the FBI corporate jet, we’ll talk with him on video.”

Banks nodded. “That jet is way above my paygrade. The video call makes sense.” Her eyes went wide as the waitress returned with the sandwiches on two gigantic platters. “You have got to be shitting me!”

“You can always get a doggy bag.”

I cut my sandwich in quarters and dug in. Banks hesitated, then copied my moves. Her eyes went wide as she took a bite. The cookies and coffee we’d had with Father Dovensky was the closest I’d gotten to breakfast. Food was definitely needed. Banks tried to start a conversation at one point, but it was impossible to understand her around a mouthful of turkey.  I took a slice of the pastrami and set it on her plate.

“Try it. Just take a bite.”

She eyed me suspiciously and daintily wiped the corner of her mouth with the paper napkin.

“It won’t kill you.”

“Is this considered soul food?”

I almost choked on my iced tea. “It’s made from a beef brisket. Just seasoned and sliced thin. You want soul food, that’s in another part of town.”

Banks speared it with her fork and took a tentative bite. She chewed it thoroughly, then set the rest on her plate. She reached across and snagged the quarter of the sandwich where the sample came from.

“You’re right. A girl does need to expand her culinary horizons.”

 

Interview

In the past, I’ve utilized this space to introduce you to another author. With the holidays on the horizon, it seemed appropriate to change things up a little and since it’s a time for giving, offer up a gift too.  I will give away five e-book copies of “Devious”.  Just tell me your favorite holiday meal.

Today you can learn about Jamie Richmond, the protagonist from three novels “Devious”, “Vanishing Act”, “Fleeing Beauty” and the novella “Stealing Haven”.

                                (Here's a possible image for Jamie)




Tell us a little about yourself.

Jamie:  Well, I’m 31, single, the only child in an Irish American family. My father was a sculptor who was very successful. Unfortunately, he died when I was seven years old. My mother decided that staying with one man made no sense, so she has been married many times since then, which makes me a little skittish about relationships. I’ve always been interested in writing. After studying journalism in college, I worked for newspapers for eight years. I learned a lot about people and writing, which I now utilized for the kind of writing I was born to do. Mysteries!  I have published three novels and I’m working on my next one.

I can be a bit of a smart ass. I’m pretty observant, quick with a laugh. But as a redhead, you know I’ve got a fast temper too!

Who is the greatest love of your life? What drew you to them?

Jamie: Wow, that’s a tough one. There are different types of love. I mean, I really love Bert, my step-father. He was my mother’s third husband from the time I was thirteen until I went to college. He’s always treated me as an adult, has always been there for me. We’re still close. Then there’s Linda, my best friend since we were six years old. I’d do anything for her. Now if you’re talking about romantic love, there’s Malone. He’s charming and self-confident and smart. One look from him and my knees come unhinged. He’s got these incredible blue eyes that pierce my heart. We’re still getting to know each other.  I think what appealed to me is that we met through my work several times before we started to date. By that time, we had developed this low-key friendship. I was extremely nervous on our first date, but that’s normal. (Laughs) He still makes me nervous.

What’s your greatest fear?

Jamie: That I’ll do something to ruin the great thing I have with Malone. When it comes to relationships, I’m always looking over my shoulder at my mother’s crazy antics. I’m afraid that it’s hereditary. But the longer we’re together, the more confident I’m becoming. I think.

What’s your motto in life? 

Jamie:  What the hell.  It’s an old expression from a dear friend. When I wanted to try something different, like writing mysteries, I figured, ‘what the hell’. You can either keep doing the same thing or take some chances with life and see where it goes. I owe a good part of that philosophy to Bert. He has always encouraged me.

How would others describe you?

Jamie: (laughs) Stubborn, determined, self-conscious, shy, (yeah, I know) a smart ass, focused, loyal and creative. I’m stubborn about getting to the truth. I’m self-conscious about my body. I am definitely shy and a little awkward with guys. And everyone agrees that I can be a real smart ass.

What is it about you that is going to draw readers in?

Jamie:  Readers will be able to identify with me. I’m a real woman, not some Hollywood creation that required assembly. While I doubt my body would stop traffic unless I am sprawled across the highway, I’m alright with that. Like many women, I struggle sometimes with my self-confidence. I might read too much into what someone says or does, wondering if there’s more to it than what’s on the surface.  But my heart is strong and true. I want the same things we all do: a few good friends we can count on, a job that I’m happy and successful at, and someone to curl up with at the end of the day and love.

What trait in others do you find most deplorable?

Jamie: Dishonesty. I can’t stand liars. Sadly, I’ve dated a few and when their lies tripped them up, they were out the door.

Now for a weird random question: If you were a color, what color would you be and why?

Jamie: (laughs) Oh, I’ve got to say red. As a redhead, it only makes sense. Red can be bright and vibrant and glowing. My face turns red when I’m excited or embarrassed. It’s the color of roses, of blazing sunsets, of passion, of love. Yes, I am definitely a red.

Links:



Devious

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017Y9XMHC




Vanishing Act

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0190T15Y6






Fleeing Beauty

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B019WPCIBM






Stealing Haven (Part of Once Upon A Summer)

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1945910682

 





Music: 

Stevie Wonder has been making music since the 1960s. This award-winning artist (more than twenty Grammys and an Oscar) has sold more than 100 Million records worldwide. Wonder has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame and the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame.


Here are my top five favorites from Stevie Wonder.

Isn’t She Lovely  https://youtu.be/oE56g61mW44

My Eyes Don’t Cry https://youtu.be/IgH2yswwywI

I Just Called  https://youtu.be/NiRj5m63oig

Boogie On Reggae Woman  https://youtu.be/ylQMhYqSntk

For Once in My Life https://youtu.be/l3qi3E40aWE

  

May your holidays be filled with laughter, love, good health and happiness. If you can’t share them in person, dig out the memories.

 

 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Ninth Issue

 


How can it suddenly be November?  Wasn’t the sun shining yesterday with balmy breezes and warm temperatures.  Actually here in Michigan we hit 70 degrees several times this month, so the idea of cold and snow and ice being just around the corner is a difficult concept to grasp. 

Regardless, it’s time for the next issue of my ramblings about writing, a glimpse at a work in progress and an interview with another talented author.  Of course, there’s music to be shared and this month bring a little change in pace. 

So to quote legendary comedian Jackie Gleason “Away We Go!”



                                                                   Jackie Gleason


Writing

 

Many people know that I don’t work with an outline. It’s too restrictive for me. I haven’t used one since elementary school and even then, I wrote the outline after completing the assignment.  If you listen closely, you’ll hear the good Catholic sisters spinning in their graves at my admission of this education related sin.

The method I use seems bizarre to some people. I begin with just a basic story idea in mind and my main character.  Then I write a scene to get things rolling.  This may not necessarily be at the beginning of the story. It can be anywhere.  I rarely know how the story will end, so it’s not like I write the tale in reverse.  It could be a setting, or a bit of dialogue.  I may overhear a bit of conversation or witness something that triggers an idea that becomes part of a story.

Often the character’s actions and comments will trigger ideas about what happens next or what should have happened before.

As more scenes are written, I’ll start to put them in some kind of order or sequence.  When they add up, then I can go back and see what’s missing and figure out what is needed to tie the story together.  I know this style doesn’t work for everybody. But it works for me. Life isn’t orderly. Why should my writing style be that way?

 

Work In Progress

 

Lately my free time to write has been somewhat limited with other demands on my schedule.  But the ideas keep coming. I’m working on the third novel in the Jefferson Chene series.  I take every opportunity to spend a little time that gang.  In addition to the investigation, I’m inclined to continue developing the relationship with Chene and Simone.

Recently during a chat with Elle Nina Castle, my collaborator on “Don’t Mess With the Gods” Elle (pronounced Ellie, if you’re wondering) commented about Michigan being called “The Mitten” in reference to the shape of the lower peninsula. What followed was a mini-geography lesson and her suggestion that this sounded like something Chene would do with Simone.  Inspiration struck! And just as I described in the section above, there was the idea for a scene with the two of them.  Here’s an excerpt of that.  Bear in mind this is a Work In Progress, so there’s no guarantee it will make it into the final book.


                                                               Elle Nina Castle

 

In this scene Chene and Simone have met for a quick drink. Simone’s eager to talk about something other than the investigation he’s working on at the moment.  

“Do you realize in the time we’ve been dating, there are still so many things about you I don’t know?” she said.

          “I’m an open book.”

          That earned me a burst of laughter from her. “Yes, and I’m Venus de Milo.”

          “Nice to see you, Venus.” It was impossible not to smile with her, no matter how tired I was. “What do you want to know? Keep in mind we both have a very early morning.”

          She thought that over briefly. “How did you ever learn your way around town after being raised in an orphanage?  I’m pretty good with the area, but you seem to know where everything is.”

          I motioned to her. “Raise your left hand.”

She did, giving me a quizzical look.

“Welcome to Michigan. You know the lower peninsula is shaped like this.”

“Of course.”

Taking her by the wrist, I turned her palm so she could see it in the dim outdoor lights. “Down here, near the heel of your thumb, is roughly where Detroit is.” I slid two fingertips across the surface toward her index finger. Her skin was soft and warm. “This gets you near Dearborn and maybe a little bit towards Westland.”

Her shoulders were swaying a little. Simone gave me her undivided attention.

“A little further this way, it gets closer to Romulus, Belleville and Ann Arbor.” I continued in what would be a western direction, then moved up from the palm to the base of her first two fingers. “Livonia, Plymouth, Northville, Farmington, Novi and Wixom are this way.”

Simone drew a deep breath and moved in front of me. She turned, pressing her back against my chest. Her hips were moving in rhythm with her shoulders. In the background, the jazz music seemed to grow louder.  “Keep going,” she said.

I dragged my fingertips back toward her thumb. “Southfield, Royal Oak, Clawson, Birmingham. Further east you get Mt. Clemens and St. Clair Shores. A little lower, you have the Grosse Pointes.”

Without noticing it earlier, I was matching her movements, a slight sway of the shoulders and hips. She leaned back against me. My left hand still held hers. At some point my right hand found her hip. Movement at the doors of the saloon caught my attention as the waitress started to come check on us. She hesitated, flashed a smile and ducked back inside.

“Chene.” Her voice was little more than a whisper.

“Yes?”

“Either take me home or I’m going to jump you in the parking lot.”

“What about your early morning?”
          “I’ll be fine. The question is, will you be?”

I couldn’t see her face, but knew she was smiling.

“Without a doubt.”

Simone turned around in my arms. “You’d better kiss me now, to keep me interested.”

“No man alive could resist that request.” A long, slow kiss followed. Then she pushed me away, grabbed her purse and headed for the door.  I threw cash on the table, nodded to the waitress and followed.

At her apartment, Simone returned to the comfort of my arms.

“You expect me to believe you know your way around town because of landmarks on your hand?”

I shrugged. “That, along with maps and a GPS.”

 

 

Author’s Interview.

Tammy Mannersly




With the wonders of technology, we’re able to enjoy the works of writers from around the globe, without leaving the comfort of our own home. Which is important in these days of a pandemic.  So it’s time to get to know Tammy Mannersly, an award winning author who has plenty of stories to share.

Where are you from? 

A stunning seaside town just north of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

What’s your ‘someday’ or dream vacation spot and why?

It’s my ultimate dream to go to Bora Bora and stay in a little hut out over the water. Living in Queensland, I’ve been to my fair share of islands, but there is something particularly spectacular about Bora Bora. I also love swimming and am a waterbaby at heart, so anywhere with a beach or pool is my kind of vacation spot.

What’s your favorite thing to do for relaxation?

Going for a walk along the beach with my dog or watching a good movie. 

Any favorite hobbies?

Between work and writing, I don’t always get time for my hobbies, but when I do I love to swim, read, draw and go bushwalking.  

How long have you been writing?

It happened naturally on it’s own when I was in primary school. I used to try to re-write my storybooks at first and then started creating my own characters and storylines. It’s been a driving passion ever since.

Are you able to write full time or do you also have a job/career?

I write part-time and work at a library for most of the week and some weekends.

Is there a particular genre that you write?  Or more than one?  What led you to there?

Growing up, I used to write a lot of fantasy and paranormal romance. It wasn’t until I gave contemporary romance a chance that I finally found my niche. I’d still love to write in other genres though—maybe try fantasy again one day, or even horror.

Do you use friends or family as characters in your work?

I aim not to, although some of my friends and family try to find themselves in the work. However, I have used many of my personal life experiences and those of friends and family as inspiration for my storylines.

What authors had an impact on you growing up and as an adult?  

I read many genres growing up, but lived for books with romance in the narrative. In my teens and early twenties, I loved anything by Laurell K. Hamilton, Meg Cabot, Anne Rice, J. R. Ward, Patricia Briggs and Sherrilyn Kenyon. Now, I enjoy reading more non-fiction, especially Jon Ronson, Linda S. Godfrey and various autobiographical works. I think all of my favorite authors have had an impact on me in some way and have helped me develop and improve my writing style over time. It’s hard not to be influenced by other authors, especially when you enjoy their writing so much that it stays with you.   

Has anyone in your life influenced you or encouraged you to pursue your interests of writing?

I’d never considered writing as a career pathway until my grade 7 teacher suggested I apply for entry into a Brisbane-based writers camp. From there I met and participated in workshops with published Queensland writers and learned that there were more opportunities than I’d realized. I received similar encouragement from my English teachers in high school and went on to study creative writing at university. My parents have also grown to be especially supportive of my passion and I love sharing my achievements with them. 

What is your favorite aspect of writing? Your least favorite? 

I love coming up with ideas for new stories and characters, and roughly planning the trajectory of the love story. It’s always so exciting to create something new, knowing that anything is possible. My least favorite aspect of writing a book would probably be those moments of self-doubt that hit you along the way. Sometimes you doubt yourself, other times it’s the storyline, but every time it takes a lot of determination and positivity to fight your way through and continue until the work is complete. 

What aspect of writing would you most like to improve on?  

There are too many things to mention just one, but I believe that my technique and style get gradually better with each book. 

Do you have any “must haves” with you while you’re writing?  

I must have the TV on, usually with a familiar movie or TV show running. I can’t work in silence or with music. I find silence can become unnerving and music always sways and changes the emotional aspects of my dialogue and character interaction. I must also be able to sit cross-legged or be able to stretch my legs out or else I get uncomfortable. 

Is there a common theme or item that appears in each of your work?

Water and swimming pools occur a lot throughout my work because of my absolute obsession with the two. I also like to write about my favorite places in Australia and the special local spots I frequently visit. 

What have you learned the most from being in the writing business? 

Quite a lot over the years, really. Here are a few tips: Perseverence is key. Don’t give up on your passion. Writing is extremely subjective. Rejection isn’t the end of the line. Just believe in yourself and stick to your goals. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Everyone experiences their own journey in this industry.

Tell us about your latest work: 



I actually wrote this book, “Finding His Zen”, during our isolation period of the pandemic. I had set myself a goal to complete a novella by a particular deadline and didn’t want the changing circumstances in the world around me to affect that. Considering everything else happening at the time, I found the book relatively easy to write and ended up being very pleased with what I’d created. “Finding His Zen” is a short sweet romance about valuing simple things and listening to your heart.

Blurb:

Swimming superstar, Sebastian DuMont, agrees to headline the reopening of the Poseidon’s Shore Health Club at a discounted fee, grateful for an excuse to visit his beloved hometown. However, he hadn’t expected to be tempted by the lovely Zenia, owner and operator of the fitness facility.

All of Zenia Andino’s dreams come true with swimming superstar, Sebastian DuMont, attending her gymnasium’s reopening. She’d idolized him as a teenager with his poster pinned to her bedroom wall, but meeting the hunky celebrity in person gives her heartbeat an excited new rhythm.

Before they can test the waters, Seb’s agent interferes and Zen’s fame-hungry sister alludes to an affair with the Olympian. Will Seb keep up the lie for continued fame and fortune? Or is it finally time to follow his heart and feed the special spark he felt with Zen before the opportunity extinguishes forever?


How did you decide on your story plot?   

Actually, the story was inspired by something that occurred to someone in my family. They work in the fitness industry and were having a celebrity help promote the re-opening of a local, seaside health and fitness center. There was no magical love story in real life as both parties were in relationships and from different generations, but it got me thinking about the possibilities.

Describe how this method works best for you. Outline or ‘seat of the pants’?  

I always do a little of both. I need a basic outline to know where I’m heading. I basically try to have the big points roughly mapped out, but how I reach them is usually “seat of the pants”. I also have a tendency to let my characters drive the story, so sometimes those big plot points change depending on my characters wants and needs.   

Do you have a favorite scene you’ve written? What makes it special? 

There’s a scene in Finding His Zen where Sebastian and Zenia go for a walk on the beach with Zen’s golden retriever. It’s something so simple and yet, so pleasurable and relaxing—just being outside, enjoying the sun, sand and water, and seeing the grin of delight on the dog’s face. I absolutely love it and it’s one of my favorite things to do in my personal life! 

Here’s an excerpt from the story.

“So, do you think there might be love in the air?” Sara, the reporter from the Courier Mail enquired again.

A wide, ecstatic grin was like a gash across Lexy’s face. She gazed up into his eyes, searched them for a second before once again acknowledging the assembly. “When it comes to Seb and me, anything is possible.”

At that, the bottom fell out of Seb’s stomach and he felt as like he was riding the steep, rushing decent of a rollercoaster dip.

The audience erupted at Lexy’s answer, newly galvanized and interested in the possibility of a sexy affair to report on and obsess over. The insinuation of a relationship made Seb feel sick, nausea roiling in his gut. He wanted to correct the mistake, but couldn’t see a way out without embarrassing both of them.

Seb felt a pat on his shoulder as the raucous roar of the gathering continued, the audience’s arms waving, camera’s flashing and he heard Mayor Jones commend him.

“Congratulations,” the older man said, his tone genuinely joyous, oblivious to the reality.

With his heart racing, palms sweating, his gut churning on the verge of sickness, Seb cast a look at the one person in the world whose opinion really mattered to him in that instant. He caught Zenia’s eye, saw her solemn smile and…seeing that look, her fallen spirt, had pain stabbing into his heart, breaking it a little.

What the hell had he done? What the hell had he agreed to? And what could he do to show Zenia that his true interest lay with her and not her sister?

BUY LINKS:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08CY8NY6M

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/finding-his-zen

BN: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1137341973

Itunes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1523544097

You can find out more information about Tammy and her work on her website: www.tammymannersly.com or by visiting:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tammymannersly 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16935790.Tammy_Mannersly 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tammymannersly/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TammyMannersly

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/tammy-mannersly

 

                                                    Music

Variety is essential to life and that applies to music as well. This month’s featured artist is Jesse Cook.




This award winning Canadian musician mixes a blend of jazz, new world and flamenco with a touch of gypsy to his popular tunes.

In addition to writing his own songs, Cook also films, directs and edits his own music videos.

Here’s my top five favorites. I hope you enjoy them. 

Double Dutch.  https://youtu.be/hOjctd1mNME

Mario Takes a Walk. https://youtu.be/c_X0KET2gh0

Hembra: https://youtu.be/i9srZFMhCZU

Once: https://youtu.be/Rw65ol7VeEA

Shake: https://youtu.be/AmF69DqUyOs