Friday, April 2, 2010

Young Adult author, L. Diane Wolfe discusses her work

Diane, it’s wonderful to have you as a guest. Please give us a brief bio.
Known as “Spunk On A Stick,” I am a member of the National Speakers Association. “Overcoming Obstacles With SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting”, ties all of my goal-setting and leadership seminars information together into one complete, enthusiastic package. My YA series, The Circle of Friends, features morally grounded, positive stories that appeal to both teens and concerned parents. Ten years associating with a motivation training system and experience as a foster parent gave me the in-depth knowledge of relationships, personality traits and success principles. I travel extensively for media interviews and speaking engagements, maintain a dozen websites & blogs, manage an online writer’s group, and contribute to several other sites and newsletters.

When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?
It bit me when I was thirteen! I wrote like a maniac after that. I loved reading fantasy and science fiction, so those were my predominant genres.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?
Yes! Catch the spirit of hope and believe in yourself. Any challenge can be overcome, regardless of the circumstances.

Briefly tell us about your latest book.
My latest book is The Circle of Friends, Book V…Heather

“When confidence turns to frustration…

A new beginning awaits Heather Jennings at Clemson. Sadly, her father lies dying of cancer, her sister appears incapable of achievement, and a cocky player challenges her patience. Life changes when she encounters a man capable of handling her feisty attitude. However, the last thing Heather needs is a serious relationship with a man equally fixated on work and opposed to marriage…”

Described as “encouragement personified”, this five-book, Southern-based YA series portrays love and friendship overcoming all obstacles.

How do you develop characters?
Characters always come first for me. I use a character sheet and outline the basics - background, personality, strengths, weaknesses, activities, appearance, and goals. I’ve studied human behavior and it’s amazing how much events of the past affect a person’s personality and behavior. Once I’ve factored in all of these attributes, I can drop a character into any situation and know how he or she will respond.

How do you promote yourself online and off?
You mean, what DON’T I do? LOL

Online I maintain two websites, a blog, and a writer’s club. I’m involved in several social networks and have a group fan page on Facebook. I post articles online, contribute to several newsletters, participate in online conferences, do online radio, and go on virtual tours.

In the real world, I do many speaking engagements, teach seminars, book signings, media interviews, attend book festivals, and promote myself with cards, brochures, postcards, and bookmarks. My website is even on the back of my vehicle! (So if you see a red Tribute, look for The Circle of Friends on the back.)

What are your current projects?
I’m still promoting the last in my YA series, but this summer I will conduct research for a teen version of Overcoming Obstacles with SPUNK! (Young people are in desperate need of hope in this country.) I also have plans for an urban fantasy novel.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events? - YA series website - speaker site - blog - book trailer

Circle of Friends Book V: Heather
$19.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 282 pages, Fiction/YA

ISBN 978-0-9816210-5-0 / 0-9816210-5-8
Winner of the TOP CHOICE Award - a perfect 10

“I couldn't sleep not knowing what was going to happen next… definitely one of the best books I have read in a long time. It was brilliant. Props to L. Diane Wolfe!”- FlamingNet Reviews

“Heather deals with real life and real situations - 5 Stars”- Teens Read Too
“Wolfe has created amazing characters with believable attributes and flaws; making Book V…a true gem.”

                                                                  - Donna M. McDine, Write What Inspires You Book Reviews

“Even after reading the novel, I am haunted by these characters… This is the power of Wolfe’s writing.”

                                                                                                                            - The Book Peddler
“She puts so much emotion into her stories…”- There’s Always Something to Read Reviews

“Five Flames - Outstanding Book That Will Stay On My Bookshelf For Rereading!”

                                                                                                                   - My Overstuffed Bookshelf
“… quite a refreshing read.”- Peace, Love & Pat Reviews
“I did not want to put down… You will truly be drawn into the story and will find yourself eager to see what happens next.”- Dad of Divas Reviews
“Thought-provoking, heart-warming, humorous and spirited.”- Red Headed Book Child Reviews

“A nice completion to the series - 4 Stars.”- Debbie’s World of Books

Diane, thanks for the interview from one North Carolina gal to another.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Kathleen Delaney and Murder for Dessert

Kathleen Delaney stopped by to tell us about herself and her writing. Grab a cup of hot tea and a few cookies and enjoy the visit.

I lived the first seventy years of my life in California, married young and had five children. Somewhere in there I got my real estate brokers license and moved my one still-at-home child, my father and mother, five horses, three dogs and I no longer have any idea how many cats to Paso Robles on California’s central coast. It’s a beautiful little town and wonderful wine country. I stayed there for twenty-three years, working as a real estate broker, and watched it grow and change from cow/calf and barley farming to a major wine producing area. The growth of the town inspired my first mystery novel, Dying For A Change.

After retiring from real estate, I decided I wanted the experience of living in a very different part of the country and ended up in South Carolina, equally beautiful in a different kind of way and an equally delightful place to be. The south is just dripping with American history so, of course, I bought a 100 + year old house in the historic district of a town at the base of the Appalachians. I even have white wicker furniture on the front porch.

I came to writing somewhat late in life. I had always held writers up on some sort of pedestal, and assumed it was something I couldn’t do. Oh, I wrote. Little stories, essays, short sketches, but they all ended up in the cedar chest. I had no intention of letting anyone see them. I assumed they were awful, and, actually, they were. But several things happened that nudged me forward and finally, one day, I got out the article I’d started about my family’s adventures with 4H. I polished it up, and sold it. To Disney’s Family Fun. For money. I was a writer.

The next step was a novel. Picking my genre wasn’t hard. I loved mysteries and had read hundreds. I would write a mystery. This was more intimidating than you might imagine. I had no idea how those clever people thought up all those plot twists, invented those characters, or structured their stories. Most of the dust jackets said the authors had PhD’s in English, or were famous newspaper people, or had been writing best selling poetry since they were in kindergarten. All I’d ever done was read. And sell one article. I didn’t realize then that a lifetime of reading had introduced me to hundreds of experts who had already taught me how a novel should go together, that a story had rhythm, and that all action springs out of character. And that’s where I started. With a character.

Ellen McKenzie is a woman in her forties, freshly divorced, who returns to her home town of Santa Louisa on California’s central coast to see if she can put back the shattered pieces of her life. She is a fledgling real estate agent, and, of course, stumbles over a body in a new house while waiting for her very first real estate clients to show up. I knew something about all of that, so thought it would be an easy book to write. It wasn’t. But I kept at it, read “how to” books, took classes, woke up early in the morning and sat up in bed with a cup of coffee and a legal pad, trying to shape a book. It took over a year just to get something together that vaguely resembled a novel. But my mother liked it.

St. Martin’s Press holds an annual contest for the best new mystery novel by an unpublished author in the mystery field. I certainly qualified on that score, so polished up my effort as best I could, and off it went. Of course I was going to win. So, while I waited, I started the next novel in the Ellen McKenzie series. I wanted to be ready.

I didn’t win, but the judge did me an enormous favor. She sent back a letter saying the book was good, but not good enough and sent a short synopsis of where it failed. After stomping around, yelling and screaming, I went back and read it again. She was right. So, back to the computer, back to class, and I finally had something that I thought was pretty good. Dying For A Change was a finalist the next year. It was published a year later, and Give First Place to Murder came out a year after that. It takes Ellen into the world of Arabian horse shows and I still love the ending. Then Poisoned Pen Press accepted the third book in this series, And Murder For Dessert. Ellen gets herself mixed up with a murder at the Harvest Festival Dinner at the town’s most famous winery, and in order to find the murderer, almost ends up fricasseed in a bed and breakfast. It has been a Booksense Notable Mystery, has had really nice reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly and Library Journal and, from what people have told me, has given a lot of people many enjoyable hours. That is, I think, the nicest thing any one can say about my work and is my chief goal.

The fourth book in the Ellen McKenzie stories will hopefully be along soon.
In the meantime, I am starting a new series. There is a character in the Ellen books, her Aunt Mary, whom I just love. Smart, funny, takes no nonsense from anybody, and I have been told she needed her own series. I agreed. So, Aunt Mary is off to Colonial Williamsburg on the trail of a murderer (what else!) and we’ll see where that leads.

Best of all, I am learning with each book, drawing the characters a little tighter, letting them loose to be a little funnier or a little more clever in solving the mystery, and hopefully giving the reader even more hours of pleasure. I’m sure having a great time trying.

Kathleen, stop by for a visit any time and keep us posted on the new books.