First thing first. Bella Books has been kind enough to donate a free ebook giveaway for one each of the three February releases by Amy, Louise, and me. In order is qualify, all you have to do is drop a note in the comments below!
Okay, now that we’ve got that biz taken care of, off to the fun stuff! So, I have to tell you February is a YIPPEEEEEE SKIPPYYYYYYYYY month for me even if I’m shoveling the white shit and waiting for the sun to peek out. Why, you ask. Because for the first time in over three years I’ll have a brand-spanking new book out. A happy dance is happening in my head right now as I type those words! Quest for Redemption has definitely been a quest for my own redemption. Plus, this February is mighty exciting for my fellow Bella Books (click the link to visit Bella, check out our books and more) authors Amy Briant and Louise McBain because both have books releasing this month too. I sat down for an email chat with these crazy fun yahoos and thought you all might like to come along for the ride!
Hello Amy and Louise! Thanks for taking time out of your uber busy writing lives to come play with me here on Women and Words. Let’s get the party started. In a nutshell, what are your books about?
Louise: When Camille broke-up with her boss, Mia Shannon, eight years ago, she chalked it up to bad timing. Mia was ten years older and a partner at Camille’s law firm where strict no fraternization rules prevented them from being a public couple. Suddenly back in Mia’s orbit, Camille is forced to reconsider the dynamic of their relationship when she learns Mia’s current girlfriend, Lillian, is almost an exact replica of Camille’s younger self. Lillian is also an associate on Mia’s team. Lillian is also a secret. The new information threatens to erode Camille’s self-esteem until she meets Hannah, a sexy climbing instructor who is not afraid to let everyone know that Camille has captured her interest. When Hannah literally sweeps Camille off her feet, Camille begins to believe that love is possible. Claiming Camille is a book about the undeniable chemistry between two women and the courage it takes for them to trust it.
Amy: In a not so distant post-apocalyptic future, three Northern California teens embark upon a harrowing journey: one hundred miles on foot through savage wilderness and what remains of civilization. THE BOOK OF KELL by Amy Briant – the post-apocalypse is looking mighty queer!
Jessie: Our books range from rocky (climbing) romance to a queerly post-apocalyptic California to a federal agent masquerading as an art thief who’s trying to find herself again after a disastrous mission in Aleppo and some seriously crappy life choices. Jeez, we have something for everyone!
If any of your books were made into movies, who would you like to play your leading characters?
Louise: Laura Dern. I want Laura Dern to play all the characters in all my books so I can maybe meet her and we can have lunch.
Jessie: That made me laugh. Something tells me you’re a huge Laura Dern fan, Louise. What about you, Amy?
Amy: I can’t wait for readers to meet these characters! For my protagonist, Kell: Somewhere out there is an unknown queer thespian who will be perfect for the part of Kell. For Kell’s fellow traveler, Elinor “East” Eastman: A 17 year old version of Perry Mattfeld, please. For Kell’s beloved grandmother: Unfortunately, Irene Ryan is not available. And last but not least: If the director’s game for a cameo appearance by the writer, I’d love to play the part of the obnoxious Simone with her “wild fluff of white hair.” (note to self: get SAG card and hair product)
Jessie: You guys have a great sense of humor! I love Sandra Bullock for all of my characters like Louise’s Laura Dern, and maybe I’ll get to have lunch with Sandra too. Holy cow that would be amazeballs.
Okay, how about a couple questions about the art and sweat of writing. What do you two find as the easiest part of being an author? the hardest?
Louise: The easiest part of being an author is crafting plots where everything works out in the end for my characters. What’s hard is when I write these same amazing HEAs for my friends and family to follow in their own lives and they won’t stick to the script – not even when they’ve read all my books and know everyone always gets the girl and the sex is hella hot. Why won’t they listen?
Amy: Somewhere along the way, writing morphed from a hobby and a habit into a wonderful, life-affirming and therapeutic addiction. No motivation problems here! Must. Write. The hardest part is the launching of a beloved work into the Great Abyss to never be heard from again – no reviews, low sales, zero love for my baby. Heartbreaking. And then…I write another book. : -)
Jessie: I’d agree with both of you, and add in for me, trying to carve out time to write in a busy, hectic life is hard. I run away from home a lot when I’m working on a book and hunker down at a coffee shop. Caffeine and words are a great combo.
So what’s everyone’s writing process? Every day or sporadically?
Louise: I write 1000 words a day. I treat it like the job that it is. It isn’t easy and it isn’t magic. Sometimes, I pretend I’m working a shift in a restaurant – strap on that apron bitch, it’s time to bus the tables.
Jessie: I’m laughing the bitch comment comment, Louise. And it’s so true. Writing is a job and sitting your ass in a chair and getting to it is key to getting it done. I wish I could make that work for me. What about you, Amy?
Amy: I have ideas for several future novels and short stories zipping around in my brain. I have a Word document dedicated to each of those and add to them as inspiration strikes. I often scribble something down on whatever scrap of paper is at hand, like this one for my work in progress. (and yes, it’s in the story!)
I strive to write every day and nearly always do. I write in my dining room where no dining occurs on a large table by some enormous windows with a close-up view of the ugly brick building next door, all of twenty feet away. (So I usually keep the curtains closed – stop looking at me, neighbors! Trying to write here.)
Jessie: You’re both very dedicated. Amy, love the dining room table where no dining occurs.
Now on to the age-old question: pantser or an outliner?
Louise: I outline every scene in the book before writing. It takes me about two weeks. Within the outline though, I pants like no one’s watching. It’s like setting up a scaffolding and then draping it with funky lights.
Jessie: I’ve never heard it put quite that way, Louise, but it’s the perfect description of how I do it too. Amy? Is it possible we could have a three for three outliner chat happening here?
Amy: I’m a firm believer in wearing pants while writing, but I am most definitely an outliner. And I still manage to paint myself into at least one corner per book, but that’s just part of the process.
Jessie: YES! Three for three!
Now for a moment of levity! Dark or milk or white chocolate?
Louise: I practice equality in every aspect of life – chocolate is no exception.
Amy: I gave up sugar a few years back along with most of the rest of the food pyramid. Yes, I basically just eat rocks and sticks now. But it’s cool – that’s more chocolate for you!
Jessie: Amy! Thank you! I’ll take care of your portion of dark chocolate!
One question I know readers are always curious about is your path to publication?
Louise: I read hundreds of lesfic books, HUNDREDS, before attempting to write one myself. Two years ago, I took a small step into the pool when I self-published Sweet Jane. I didn’t know anyone in the industry – I just flung it out there. Offering it to Kindle Unlimited got me lots of reads and some nice reviews but also the courage to submit to a publisher. I wrote Claiming Camille with the Bella Books submission guideline close by and they bought it!
Jessie: Making the leap from avid, avid, avid reader to self-published to traditionally published author is no little feat, Louise. Whats you’re twisty tale, Amy?
Amy: I struggled mightily with completing my first novel. I finally had to set it aside for a few years. After a while, I felt the irresistible urge to write again. I’d been on vacation in my hometown of San Diego, hanging out at the beach, then was rereading THE TURN OF THE SCREW by Henry James on the plane ride home. Bam – the idea for SHADOW POINT was born. It became my first published novel, a Goldie-award winning ghost story set on a remote San Diego beach. ROMEO FAILS, a Midwestern love triangle, was published next. And that first novel that I struggled so mightily with – it became HEAVENLY MOVES, my third published novel, a 1980s rock ‘n’ roll murder mystery. And now THE BOOK OF KELL, a post-apocalyptic YA thriller, is #4.
Jessie: Sometimes first novels are torturous. Congrats, Amy, on pulling it back out of the drawer and tackling it.
So when the writing is all done (or perhaps when writer’s block hits) what do you do when you’re not writing?
Louise: I am a salvage artist who makes sculpture from natural objects or any weird thing I might find. Every morning I scavenge the flood plain of the Potomac River looking for items of whimsey. Our hiking group has found everything from a Glock to a dead cow to a message in a bottle from 1975.
Jessie: Louise, one day I want to hear all about the Glock and the message in the bottle.
Amy: I think about writing. Sometimes I vacuum.
Jessie: LOL! I want to thank you both for playing along. Now, dear reader, don’t forget to drop a comment below to get entered into the drawing for one of our books, and be sure to check out Amy and Louise’s contact info below: