I thought I'd add a new feature to the blog Writers on Wednesday - where guest authors guest post about their writing process or influences or motivation.
My first cab off the rank is the lovely Louise Wise.
Mental Illness: Nurture or Nature? By Louise Wise
Mental illness and chick lit don’t go together, so I took a gamble with Oh no, I’ve Fallen in Love! but the book wrote itself (only another writer will understand that statement!), and it wasn’t until I’d finished that I realised I’d done it again—written about loneliness. I have a similar premise running through each of my four books. Maybe that’s my ‘thing’? If there is such thing as ‘a thing’!
It certainly wasn’t a conscious factor and I’m not lonely. What I am interested in is the mind, from how a gut feeling tells you not all is well with a friend, to knowing that danger is approaching i.e. you’re about to cross the road but you just know a speeding car is going to hurtle around the corner. Ever had one of those moments? Is that a sixth sense, I-see-dead-people, type of thing?
Personally, I think it’s basic survival instinct but you can dress it up if you want. I can’t explain the gut feelings.
With Oh no, I’ve Fallen in Love! Valerie, the main protagonist, feels she has to remain lonely to protect herself from a curse, and the curse is her mental illness. Sounds straightforward but bring in a meddling older friend and a playboy that fancies the pants off of Valerie, and you have the nitty-gritties for a romantic comedy.
Researching the book made me so interested in the power of the mind that I signed up for an on-line course on cognitive therapy! It made me realise that the brain can have so much wrong with it, and only needs a slight trigger, be it emotional or an injury, for it to unravel.
The mind can make a rational person believe everyone is looking/laughing at him (paranoia). Make you over-think about germs (type of OCD). Schizophrenia, depression, eating disorders… the list is endless and it all begins with a chemical imbalance in the mind. You are not always born with mental health problems and they sometimes ‘run in families’ so could it be that they develop because of nurture, rather than nature?
Valerie Anthrope in Oh no, I’ve Fallen in Love! was brought up by her neurotic mother, who unfortunately had her bipolar undetected, and died a confused and unhappy woman. It was a disorder that transferred to her daughter.
Because Valerie doesn’t understand the enormity of her problem she tries to ignore it, and it takes an interfering friend to see it for what it is, but Valerie doesn’t want to believe even when it’s pointed out and prefers to continue to ignore it, and of course, the problem escalates.
Her depression is the result of her loneliness and not vice versa but because this book is a comedy romance, albeit a black comedy romance, it’s her caustic tongue and the sub-characters tiptoeing around her that lighten the tone. Although I feel I must add here that not once do I invite the reader to laugh at the illness.
Because of the theme, I wanted Oh no, I’ve Fallen in Love! to be different so it has the secondary character’s voice, Lex, throughout the novel in alternating scenes between him a Valerie. Valerie’s voice is told in the first person, and Lex’s in the third.
I needed the reader to be with Valerie on her journey through the book and could only do that properly by allowing the reader to become her, with Lex, I also wanted the reader to get inside his mind, but felt able to hold something of him back, hence his character being in the third person.
Oh no, I’ve Fallen in Love! is on a sale for 99c/77p all spring.
As soon as I entered, the music, balloons and smiley waitresses wearing festive hats, and the entire Christmassy atmosphere made me realise I’d made a mistake. I should have faked a migraine.
Paul spotted me first and stood up. ‘Yoo-hoo! Over here, Miss Anthrope.’ Paul, his wife Milly and Tim sat around a table where above floated coloured balloons, their strings attached to a weight in the centre of an equally bright tablecloth. I made my way over and immediately spotted a stranger – and a scam. Ellen guided me over and insisted I sit next to the stranger while she sat the other side of me. The man had a ready smile, and beautiful eyes. They were the brightest blue, and totally wasted on a male. I was immediately interested despite the set-up.
‘This is Jon. Jon, Valerie,’ Ellen introduced us.
I nodded, removed my coat, which a passing waitress took. I sat down and smiled at Milly. ‘Nice to see you again,’ I said.
‘Ooh, can I have your red straw?’ Milly said to Ellen. ‘I’ll swap you my black one.’
There was little doubt this was Paul’s wife. Ellen swapped straws, and winked across at me. ‘Jon’s an accountant,’ she said.
‘And you’re a financial broker,’ Jon said, tapping me on the nose with his finger on the word “you’re”.
My interest vanished in a puff of oh-my-God-he’s-a-jerk smoke and I sent multitudinous angry thoughts to Ellen, but straight-faced she looked back at me and said, ‘Well, we’ll leave you two love birds alone while we eat on the next table. Come along, you others. Let’s leave the youngsters to it.’
Then they all got up and left me with Jon the accountant. Gobsmacked wasn’t a word I often used.
Fucked, was better.
The night was going to be extremely long.
You can find the book here:
In a matter of days it will be two years since I published my first novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels. Two years! It feels like yesterday. It feels like a lifetime ago. It's all very confusing.
Of course that wasn't where my writer's journey began, or even my publishing journey, but it is when I officially became an indie author.
Since then, as those of you following along at home will know, I have released four additional novels under my name and one under a pen name (Ok some of you may not have known that bit!) I think that's a pretty decent effort overall, although I am way behind the goals I set myself.
Oddly, it isn't the writing that slows me down, it's either the covers, the editing or the formatting that pushes the schedule back every time.
I still find the hardest part of this journey the ability to maintain momentum. One week I'll be on fire and the next completely deflated. There's always a huge crash after a book releases. All that work getting it ready, setting up any promotional opportunities and then waiting. Will the reviews come in? (Probably not as many as you'd like) Will sales soar? (Probably not as many as you'd like.)? Will everyone who showed enthusiasm and said they buy it or read it do so? (Absolutely not. That lesson doesn't get easier with time.)
Then you just have to get up and get moving and put that behind you or beside you is probably more correct...it's more like a shadow that travels with you. You can't really put it behind you because it's an ongoing project promoting a book, selling books and being an author.
So you need to move on and get writing again.
As an indie author they say books sell books and I'm sure that's true. I look at some really prolific indie authors and wonder how they're getting their books out so quickly, especially a few who have cracked it big in the last year or so. I think they set themselves a budget per book and are ready to spend it on editing and promotion in advance. I would suggest any new author does this. You can publish a book for almost nothing, but you probably shouldn't. You also should have more than one book ready to go at the start.
So I guess that's my signal to get writing. I'm involved in an anthology that will be out in the next few days and I guess that's the next step on the journey for me, followed by a novella I hope to release in June.
Look out for this anthology in the next few days...I'll remind you.
And for Musical Monday here's today's song. I watched How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (that Matthew McConaughey always cheers me up) and this is my favourite song from the soundtrack.
About the Book Back to December:
Thanks to an abusive mother and an absent father, Anna Blackhurst has only known the love of two people: her Gram and her best friend, Niki.
When Anna meets Cooper Reed in a smoky club, she’s immediately drawn to his good looks but isn’t prepared to open herself up to a relationship. As time passes, Anna finds herself falling in love with Cooper and she begins to rethink her future. Maybe, despite her childhood, she can have a happy-ever-after.
But when her mother is in a terrible accident, she again sinks her claws into Anna and Anna’s world is thrown upside down. Despite Cooper’s unwavering support, Anna walks away only to regret it immediately. In order to heal, not only herself, but her broken relationship, Anna must stand up for herself and accept that the only way she's going to be happy is if she grabs ahold of it herself.
Back to December will be released June 20, 2014.
About the Author:
Heather McCoubrey is a native of Maine but having moved all over the U.S. as a child, she doesn’t sound like one. She’s been writing since middle school when a teacher taught her she could create her own stories instead of just reading them. That year she had some of her first poems published in the school magazine and from there she graduated to writing a full-length novel in high school (which has been collecting dust on her shelf ever since!). She is the self-published author of To Love Twice, her debut novel. Her second novel, Back to December, is scheduled to be released in June 2014 and the novel that’s been collecting dust on the shelf, Emily’s Choice, is scheduled to be released in October 2014. Heather resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, two children, Rex the chihuahua and Fatty the goldfish. When she’s not being super-mom and wife, she ekes out time to write, watch football, practice her British accent and dream of living on an island where it’s eighty degrees year-round.
Find the Author:
You can find Heather McCoubrey on:
Her blog, Romantic Escapes: http://heathermccoubrey.com
Find the Book: To Love Twice:
Amazon (eBook & print): http://www.amazon.com/Love-Twice-Heather-McCoubrey-ebook/dp/B00BWYEHH0/
Barnes & Noble (print): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/to-love-twice-heather-mccoubrey/1116093917?ean=9781492175995
Blurb for To Love Twice:
During an intense and terrifying experience, Kate meets Brad Walker, the man of her dreams. After a blissful ten years, Brad suddenly becomes cold and distant. A few months after giving birth to their daughter, Kate leaves and files for divorce. When he dies a few days later and his secrets are revealed, Kate is devastated.
Five years later, Kate has made a successful new life for herself and her daughter, despite the fact that she clings to his memory and grieves for her husband. While in London on a business trip, she meets London's most eligible bachelor, Edward Kent. She is enchanted with his manners and dazzled by his attention. He's everything she could wish for, and everything she's afraid of. Edward finds her refreshing and lovely and quickly realizes that he's finally found the one he wants to spend the rest of his life with.
Can Kate set Brad's memory and her fears aside long enough to find happiness with Edward and finally see that she is able To Love Twice?
Reviews of To Love Twice:
“First book I've ever read completely through! It was awesome. I laughed, I cried, I found some really good points. I loved the romance. Just might read it again!” –Jillian Hucks
“I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Readers who just want a steamy romance will be disappointed... No smut here...but plenty of romance and great character development. I laughed, I cried, I was genuinely surprised a few times and skipped sleep to finish reading and get to the happy ending. I wish it were longer! I am not ready to say goodbye to Kate and Edward.” –Kindle Customer “CharmedGirl”
“I'd recommend this book to anyone. I'm not one for romances but this book had me hooked. And the crazy twist at the end, I couldn't put it down.” –Tiffany Clark
“I'm not normally a fan of romances but this was good and kept my interest… the ending was Awesome. Great snowy day read!!” –Bonnie G
“This story was very unexpected. The plot was great, the characters were real, and the ending was surprising. I never saw it coming. Kate is so strong to have gone through all she did to find love again. Heather, I look forward to your next novel. You have a new fan!” –Ann
Thanks to everyone who entered the competition to win a $25 Amazon gifts certificate as part of the A Fair Exchange launch.
The winner of the Gift Card is Jessica Meddick.
The winner of the e-copy of A Fair Exchange is Crystal McNeely Guidroz.
Ladies I'll be e-mailing you later today.
Sorry to those who entered and didn't win. I hope you'll continue to visit the blog, my Facebook page and follow me on twitter, and maybe even read my books and leave me a review.
Today is Monday. It's cold and wet here in Sydney - the reason for that is simple - it's school holidays (or as the Americans call it vacation). It always rains in the Easter holidays. Can anyone explain why this is when Easter moves and so do the holidays and yet it always rains every time. it's a big long-weekend here over Easter we get Good Friday and Easter Monday off and lots of people go camping. They usually get very wet.
What does this have to do with anything I hear you ask? Today I bring you two songs from musicals...both about parades - one Easter themed and one rain themed. That's the kind of gal I am.
First the Glee version of Don't Rain on my Parade and then the lovely Judy Garland serenading Fred Astair in his easter hat for The Easter Parade. Have a lovely week.
As I have often said here on the blog, although my characters are often nothing like me (I guess the fact I've been happily married for 20 years kind of distinguishes me from these largely single and completely lovely characters I write about ) they do all have elements of me in them.
Amelia in A Fair Exchange is probably the most and the least like me.
I was an exchange student in Massachusetts when I was in high school and it was the most fabulous, exciting and life changing experience for me. I did loosely base some of the characters in the book and some of the experiences I had on that time.
I certainly drew the premise of the novel from that experience. Being chosen to be an exchange student back then (and I assume now as well, especially for a year-long program) was quite a gruelling process that had several stages including essays, interviews, family interviews and selection camps. As a result most of the kids who applies and got accepted tended to be smart, funny and personable kids. They were independent and capable and reasonably outgoing.
So what happens to those people down the track? I happened to do a course at a small university where there was a disproportionate number of kids in my course who were prefects and school captains and exchange students (unusually for Australia at the time you had to do an essay to be accepted - marks alone didn't get you in). So I've spent a lot of time with these sparkling young women who expected to sparkle their way through adulthood, and luckily lots have.
This novel had me thinking about the ones who don't continue to shine - those who lose their way due to lack of confidence, a bad decision or a bad relationship. How do you reconcile the self everyone expected you to be with the one you became.
Then add in the guy who broke your heart way back when, well then that's a story. Everyone has that person (well almost everyone) and we'd rather they found us at our best than our worst.
I didn't have a boyfriend disappear into the ether on me at sixteen but lots of the feelings and experiences and expectations Amelia had then and as an adult I can relate to. With the internet and Facebook it's very easy to find that person you've been wondering about, but should you? I know people who have and that fuelled the idea for this novel.
I had a lot of fun writing this because I got to go down memory lane but more than any of my novels it was hard to write. Maybe because as much as I don't really resemble the grown up Amelia, I was a lot like the sixteen your old version - if only on the inside.
Don't forget the book launch/blog tour Rafflecopter competition is open till Friday enter below.
This week I thought I'd give you a break from talking about A Fair Exchange because I know if you visit my blog that you already know it came out last week and is available at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JBPPC08.
The thing about being a writer is that by the time one book is released you are usually well and truly knee-deep in the next project.
I have a few projects up my sleeve but lately I have been working on a novella with the working title Any Way You Slice It. (Even though I like that title I'll need to change it because that's way too long for Twitter. I'm serious.)
The characters in the book have an interesting journey and this song by Justin Timberlake completely resonated with me when I heard it. This is the perfect song for the main male character to sing to the female - if in fact the book were a musical, which of course it isn't.
I wanted to remind you that my Book Blog give-away is still going until April 11th so if you want to go in the running for the $25 Amazon gift card please enter below.