Author Interview: Best-selling Author Kate Hilton Says If You Want To Write About Women’s Lives, Tell The Truth

US cover The Hole in the MiddleHappy U.S. publication to my friend, Kate Hilton! The Hole In The Middle grew out of questions Kate asked herself about her own life — isn’t that so often the case with women’s fiction authors?

Today Kate shares with us what it’s like to self-publish, have the book picked up by a Canadian publisher, and then sold in the U.S!  Plus, some heartfelt advice for writers. 

Please welcome Kate to WFW! And share you thoughts about her covers (or anything else) in the comments!

Amy xo

Continue reading

Author Interview: NY Times Bestselling Kristina McMorris Crosses Continents and Decades In Her Latest Novel

the edge of lost_finalWait ’til you hear about Kristina McMorris’s new book! I was so excited to interview Kristina because my questions about her book, her process, and what she thinks about writing and publishing were flowing! I had trouble keeping it to just a few. I always ask questions I want to know the answers to, figuring you might want to know too! Today, Kristina and I chat about hives, prison, and running out of ideas for books. I promise, you’ll love it! 

Please welcome Kristina to WFW—and don’t forget to watch the trailer (amazing) and consider adding THE EDGE OF LOST to your Christmas or Hanukkah—oh heck—just add it to your reading list!

Amy xo

Author Kristina McMorris Talks About THE EDGE OF LOST

the edge of lost_finalAmy: The Edge of Lost is a complex novel covering decades, going forward and then back in time. As someone who is a linear thinker and writer, I’m curious how planned and processed the timeline for this novel? How did you know which part of the story went where (how’s that for good English)? I’m using flashbacks for the first time in the novel I’m writing now, and I sort of break out in hives. Does this come naturally to you? (Not the hives.)

Kristina: For anyone who survives this crazy business, hive outbreaks are entirely justified! Thankfully, on this occasion, the timeline issue didn’t release an onslaught of anxiety for me, as was the case with my last novel. In The Pieces We Keep, I was constantly juggling a dual timeline with mystery threads that gradually wove together, making me feel like I was writing two books at once. Add in a pressing deadline, and it was enough to drive a writer to loads of wine, or chocolate. Or both.

When it came to writing The Edge of Lost, I knew from the start what the first chapter would entail. Like a movie playing in my mind, I saw a search taking place on a foggy night on Alcatraz Island, not for a prisoner on the run, but for the young missing daughter of a guard, whose whereabouts were known only by an inmate. Then the questions began: what events led to this scene? Who was the girl? How was the prisoner involved? With these thoughts swirling in my head, I pondered their backstories, and what came to me was the unexpected visual of an Irish immigrant ship headed for Ellis Island.

In short, what landed on the page is largely a reflection of how the story actually developed for me—beginning with a major turning point, then backing up to what led there, and continuing beyond that moment. As a movie buff, I personally love films structured this way (think Swordfish or Goodfellas) because they pull me in from the start and make it almost impossible to walk away.

Amy: I love that the spark for this novel came from a documentary. Did you jump on the idea right away or was it something you allowed to simmer for a while before you started writing?

Kristina: I wrote the opening scene soon after watching the documentary, “Children of Alcatraz.” But then I jumped into research for several months (interrupted by major house renovations that all began with a simple, “Let’s replace the countertops…”) before I actually sat down to write the dreaded synopsis. But all along, the story and characters had been evolving in my mind. So even though I finally wrote a long, detailed summary—my editor’s personal preference—I never looked at it again. In no small part, I admit, because I’m always certain it will read like a poorly translated foreign soap opera!

Amy: You’re the author of four novels and have contributed to two anthologies. Are you ever afraid you’re going to run out of ideas—or repeat something from another book—something as simple as a character name or something as complex as a plot line? I ask because there are things we are consistently fascinated with so therefore those drive our imagination.

Kristina: Well, I wasn’t afraid of it until NOW… thanks for that, Amy! Ha. (Oops, Kristina! I must stop thinking “out loud” when I type!!) You definitely bring up a great point. For character names, I’ve learned to keep a spreadsheet to avoid just that kind of problem. Each of my novels usually consists of about seventy characters—including bit parts and people merely mentioned by name—plus I often feature surprise cameos of a few characters from one novel in another book that shares the same time period and setting. (I cite these among the many reasons my brain is deteriorating at a rapid pace. In addition to my kids. I blame them too.)

As for plot lines in fiction, when it comes down to it, I think most are driven by a limited number of basic elements, such as love, guilt, survival, or estrangement. Not to mention secrets of a dark, hidden past. It’s the details and surrounding circumstances, along with fresh twists and an author’s unique voice, that make one story different from the last. Or at least I like to think so…

Amy: What was the most difficult or troubling thing you learned while writing The Edge of Lost? What was the most surprising or pleasing thing you learned?

Alcatraz - escapee cellKristina: My research for this novel covered more topics than my usual WWII stories, including immigrant life in Brooklyn, mobsters during Prohibition, vaudeville and burlesque circuits, and of course the notorious prison years on “The Rock.” Therefore, I was surprised on a daily basis by various true accounts.

The ones I found most troubling would have to be the horrific conditions of the underground solitary confinement cells at Alcatraz, aptly dubbed the “dungeons,” as well as the “Rule of Silence,” which limited inmates to speak during very specified times—and even then in near whispers.

In contrast, the most amusing tidbits I gathered involved creative ways performers in American burlesque would evade stripping laws. For example, on many occasions the girls would briefly step behind the curtain every time they removed an article of clothing, so that technically they never stripped while on stage.

Amy: What’s your take on a happily ever after? Yes, no, maybe so?

Kristina: I would have to say that my favorite endings are “satisfying conclusions.”

Given the typical settings of my books, the characters who survive until the final page have experienced quite a bit of tragedy, so finding hope at the end is even more important than a happily ever after—especially since Ilike to think their imaginary lives would continue past the last page.

Amy: What’s your best advice, right now, in this publishing climate, for aspiring authors of women’s fiction or historical fiction?

Kristina: Remember that there’s no finish line in this business, so don’t lose sight of the joy found in simply writing a story you’re passionate about, regardless of trends or reviews or advice from others. When I first wrote my debut novel, inspired by my grandparents’ courtship letters, I was told repeatedly that WWII would never sell. Needless to say, I’m glad I didn’t listen. 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/KristinaMcMorrisAuthor

Twitter: www.twitter.com/KrisMcmorris

GoodReads: www.goodreads.com/KristinaMcMorris

McMorris-headshotKristina McMorris is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and the recipient of more than twenty national literary awards, as well as a nomination for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, RWA’s RITA® Award, and a Goodreads Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction. Inspired by true personal and historical accounts, her works of fiction have been published by Kensington Books, Penguin Random House, and HarperCollins.

The Edge of Lost is her fourth novel, following the widely praised Letters from Home, Bridge of Scarlet Leaves, and The Pieces We Keep, as well as the anthologies A Winter Wonderland and Grand Central. Prior to her writing career, Kristina hosted weekly TV shows since age nine, including an Emmy®Award-winning program, and has been named one of Portland’s “40 Under 40” by The Business Journal. For more, visit: www.KristinaMcMorris.com

Author Interview: Sonja Yoerg Shares Tips For Kicking Out Your Writer Doubt

Middle of Somewhere cover (1)How thrilled I am to bring Sonja Yoerg back to Women’s Fiction Writers! Over the past year I’ve gotten to know Sonja as we’re both members of Tall Poppy Writers (check out Tall Poppy Writer here). Sonja is wicked smart, a devoted friend, and real adventurer! Oh — and how could I forget? She writes a kick ass novel! 

You’ll not only learn about Sonja’s real and writerly journeys below, but get some great tips on kicking writer doubt out of your day!

Please welcome Sonja Yoerg back to WFW!

Amy xo

Continue reading

Author Interview: Three Questions For Author Lorrie Thomson Who Explores Writing & Inspiration For Her Third Novel

A Measure of Happiness_TPI’m such a rebel. Not really. But today I am sharing something a little different with you, my WFW friends. In celebration of the release of Lorrie Thomson’s third novel, A Measure of Happiness, I’ve asked her THREE things I was very curious about. When I interview any author I ask questions I really want the answers to, figuring if it’s interesting to me, it might be interesting to all of you too.

Since I’ve read all Lorrie’s books and have interviewed her before, I wanted to dig deeper — a theme of writing women’s fiction, right? So today Lorrie shares with us real insights into how and why she wrote this story, which takes a character from her second novel, What’s Left Behind, and makes her the focus. 

Please welcome Lorrie back to WFW and enjoy everything she shares with us today!

Amy xo

Three Questions For Author Lorrie Thomson Who Explores Writing & Inspiration For Her Third Novel 

A Measure of Happiness_TPAmy: I’d love to know more about plucking a character from one novel and placing her into the spotlight in another, without the book being a prequel or sequel.

Lorrie: Thanks so much, Amy, for asking me back to Women’s Fiction Writers to discuss A Measure of Happiness!

In A Measure of Happiness, small-town baker Katherine Lamontagne has spent the last twenty-four years giving out cakes and comfort to the citizens of Hidden Harbor, Maine, and keeping the secret of the son she gave away to herself. Until that son comes looking for her, making her reconsider her life and the meaning of family.

This is the first time I’ve returned to a story location and written a novel that contains characters from a previous work. But, even though A Measure of Happiness takes place fifteen years before What’s Left Behind, it’s not considered a prequel. The books are stand-alone novels. And although you’ll likely remember Abby Stone’s best friend, Celeste Barnes, from What’s Left Behind, this is the first time you’re privy to her point of view.

I adore A Measure of Happiness, and I’m so excited to share it with you. But if it weren’t for my agent and editor, I might never have imagined this story. You see, when I passed in the partial manuscript for What’s Left Behind, my agent, Jessica, suggested I come up with an additional story idea. Could I perhaps feature one of the characters from What’s Left Behind? Was there someone from that story I wanted to get to know better?

Celeste, with her fierce loyalty to Abby and her snarky mouth, was the first person who came to mind. In fact, I enjoyed Celeste so much that originally in A Measure of Happiness, hers was the first voice you heard. That’s where my editor came in. While Celeste is a fascinating character with personality to spare, secrets, and lessons to learn, she’s only twenty-two years old. For that reason, during a phone conversation with my editor, Peter, to discuss opening scenes, Peter shared his concern that A Measure of Happiness might be considered NA, New Adult. “Okay,” I said, “I’ll start over.” To that Peter replied, “Don’t start over. Just flip the scenes so that Katherine’s point of view comes first.”

I flipped the scenes.

I’m really glad that I took Peter’s advice. Because even though I’d spent a lot of time thinking about Celeste, her issues, and her back story, I hadn’t yet fully considered Katherine. Luckily, when I asked Katherine nicely, she was more than willing to share her secrets with me, too. She told me about the son she gave away for adoption, and the way that one event had shaped her life. She told me the real reasons she’d divorced Barry, a man she so obviously still loved. And she told me about the ghost from her past, the legacy of shame from a childhood that haunted her.

In A Measure of Happiness, Katherine isn’t the only character with secrets and shame. We all walk around with voices in our heads. Sadly, those voices often tend toward the negative, and Celeste’s inner monologue is no exception. For Celeste these voices, also known as the not-so-nice lies we tell ourselves, lead her to seek relief that’s neither healthy nor uplifting. Yet through it all, she keeps her signature snark and sense of humor.

In addition to Katherine and Celeste, you’ll get to know Zach Fitzgerald, a newcomer to Hidden Harbor, Maine. Just weeks after Zach’s mother kicks him out of the house—she has her reasons—Zach eats his way through two dozen Casco Bay bakeries, wanders into Lamontagne’s, and changes the course of both women’s lives. But make no mistake, in the end, each character finds his or her own way of making peace with the past.

Amy: So did your thoughts change about the town and characters as you wrote this new novel and ostensibly learned the backstory? 

Lorrie: I had great fun going back to Hidden Harbor, Maine, and the events and relationships alluded to in What’s Left Behind. In What’s Left Behind, Celeste is married with two children, and the hardworking owner of a bakery called Sugarcoated. In A Measure of Happiness, she’s young, single, and a long-time employee of Lamontagne’s. Yet same as in What’s Left Behind, one of the most important relationships in her life is with her best friend, Abby Stone. Their conflict comes from Abby’s on-gain, off-again romance with boyfriend Charlie Connors and Celeste’s instinct to protect Abby. In A Measure of Happiness, Celeste is also protective towards Abby’s three-year-old son, Luke. Yes, I had the bittersweet responsibility of bringing Abby and Charlie’s son back to life: the teenager who dies before the opening pages in What’s Left Behind. It should come as no surprise that in A Measure of Happiness, little Luke is quite a flirt.

Amy: Next, I asked Lorrie to share places that inspired A Measure of Happiness and she answered with both words and pictures!

1. Popham Beach in Phippsburg, Maine, where a pivotal scene takes place.

2. View from Fox Island to the Atlantic Ocean. During low tide at Popham Beach, the seas part and you can walk out to Fox Island. But don’t linger too long!

2. View from Fox Island to the Atlantic Ocean. During low tide at Popham Beach, the seas part and you can walk out to Fox Island. But don’t linger too long!

3. View of the Morse Tidal River in Phippsburg, Maine, from the real-life 1877 House. The house and its view inspired the home in Hidden Harbor where Katherine and her ex-husband, Barry, once lived—and where Barry now lives alone.

3. View of the Morse Tidal River in Phippsburg, Maine, from the real-life 1877 House. The house and its view inspired the home in Hidden Harbor where Katherine and her ex-husband, Barry, once lived—and where Barry now lives alone.

4.      Barry’s back porch. Strange, but it wasn’t until I read through proofs that I realized I’d even included the 1877 House’s green metal chairs.

4.      Barry’s back porch. Strange, but it wasn’t until I read through proofs that I realized I’d even included the 1877 House’s green metal chairs.

Lorrie Thomson (1)Lorrie Thomson lives in New Hampshire with her husband and their children. When she’s not reading, writing, or hunting for collectibles, her family lets her tag along for camping adventures, daylong paddles, and hikes up 4,000 footers.

Visit Lorrie at her website. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Author Interview: Colleen Oakley Shares Her Hardest Scene And Straightforward Advice For Writers

Before I Go paperbackToday we’re celebrating the paperback launch of Colleen Oakley’s BEFORE I GO. And before I go on — let me tell you that Colleen has four (coughFOURcough) little kids. And by little I mean two of them are twins. And they’re babies. So when you say or hear someone say (and by say I mean whine) “I don’t have time to write,” tell them about Colleen. Tell them you (and she) have the same 24 hour days that they do. Then tell them to read BEFORE I GO to see what can be accomplished.

Below you’ll learn about a paperback vs. a hardcover launch, Colleen’s favorite and hardest scene to write, and her straightforward advice for writers. 

Please welcome Colleen to WFW!

Amy xo

Author Colleen Oakley Shares What Readers Have Taught Her About Her Own Book 

Continue reading

Author Interview: Kelli Estes Talks About Her Debut Novel: The Girl Who Wrote In Silk

TGWWISFinalCoverAfter emailing and interviewing debut author Kelli Estes, I’m confident in saying, YOU’RE GOING TO LOVE HER. The description of her book will give you the chills, her publishing journey will inspire you, and her advice will ring true. 

At least that’s what happened to me!

Please welcome Kelli Estes to WFW!

Amy xo

Debut Author Kelli Estes Talks About Her Debut Novel: The Girls Who Wrote In Silk

TGWWISFinalCover

Continue reading

Author Interiew: Barbara Claypole White Shares Writing Advice She Wishes She’d Gotten

White-ThePerfectSon-21053-CV-FT-v4jpgNo one has more insight into the fictional world of a dysfunctional family than my friend, Barbara Claypole White. Her third novel, THE PERFECT SON, like her other novels, explores the impact of mental illness on family dynanics and she does this from the inside out, allowing readers unprecedented access to her characters and their lives.

But today I wanted to talk to Barbara about writing and publishing! So we did! Her road has been long and winding — and look where she is now. THE PERFECT SON already has 500 reviews on Amazon and it launched YESTERDAY! 

Please welcome Barbara Claypole White to WFW!

Amy xo

Continue reading