Sunday, March 29, 2015

  Today's guest, Marianne Jones, calls her blog "Finding Focus as a Writer". Her latest book, The Serenity Stone Murder focuses on some delightfully intriguing scenarios!



What are two nice middle-aged church ladies doing at a New Age goddess conference? And what does it have to do with the mysterious death of Thunder Bay’s casino manager? Will Mary Carlisle, organist at St. Stephen’s Church, capture the heart of Thomas Greenfield, church gardener?
   Find out the answers to these, and other burning questions in The Serenity Stone Murder, a kinder, gentler murder mystery set in Thunder Bay, Ontario, home of the Sleeping Giant, the Hoito Restaurant, and the world-famous Persion cinnamon bun. For those who like their mysteries served up with a side dish of humour.

Find the answers to all those questions here or here or here.

And Marianne offers some answers of her own about her personal writing style
 in this enticing interview:


What book(s)/movies/radio programs from your past have inspired what you write today? C.S.Lewis’ books have been a huge inspiration in my life. His Chronicles of Narnia inspired, in part, my children’s fantasy-allegory, The Land of Mogan. All of his books have played a part in shaping my thinking. I probably had the British mystery series Rosemary and Thyme, somewhat in mind when I wrote The Serenity Stone Murder. The humour and the friendship between two women “of a certain age” who are quite different in personality have a lot of similarities with that t.v. series.
Do you ever draw on the personal experiences of family or friends for events in your book(s)?
 If so, do you disguise them well enough you don’t feel you’ve invaded someone’s privacy? Every writer draws from what and who she knows. We don’t create in a vacuum. The creative part comes from simmering the ingredients together in our subconscious until we have a dish that has all the original flavours, but is a new creation in its own right.
When you’re planning your characters/setting, do you ever make charts or draw maps to help you visualize the story? Do you feel the time spent is of benefit? With a novel, I have to make charts and a time line. I don’t enjoy it, because I’m not an orderly person, but there is simply too much going on in a novel to keep straight otherwise.
Do you ever look through magazines/catalogues for pictures resembling the characters you’re visualizing? No.
Have you ever read a newspaper/magazine article or seen something on the news which has given you an idea for a story? No. My stories come from within.
Have you ever become so involved with a character that ending the story is difficult?
After you’ve written the last sentence, do you ever write a sequel in your head? I enjoyed the characters of Margaret and Louise in The Serenity Stone Murder so much that I am now working on a sequel.
What marketing method do you find most useful in getting your books ‘out there’? Regularly getting reviews, interviews and featured writer spots helps. I’m still learning about this marketing thing. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also fun and fascinating.
Do you call yourself a ‘writer’ or an ‘author’? Are they the same, or is there a difference? Explain. I usually say “writer,” because a writer is one who writes. I am also an author, which I understand to mean the creator of a book. But I am comfortable with the term “writer,” so I’ll stick with that.
If you’ve written more than one book, what have you learned between the first one and the new release? My first two books were self-published. I didn’t know how to go about marketing them, apart from craft fairs. When Split Tree published my two recent books, The Serenity Stone Murder and Great-Grandma’s Gifts, I began to work more seriously at learning how to market. That has made a big difference in sales.





You'll definitely want to listen to Marianne's radio interview here!




    

Meet Heidi Collotzi and her friend Dak the Dragon!

   The Secret of Avonoa is author Heidi Collotzi's first published book, but #2, The Shadow of Avonoa is in the works.


Meet Dak
who faces the dilemma that could mean disaster for a dragon!

Parents are wrong. Teachers are wrong. His leader tries, but fails. The young dragon Dak can’t imagine why he still bothers to do as he’s told. However, dragon law could take his life if he disobeys, so he’s forced to pass the Krusible. The most important test in a young dragon’s life, the Krusible is the only way to gain freedom from the Rock Clouds where his dragon ruck lives, but he can’t manage to remain silent for it. If he doesn’t earn freedom, he might as well crawl into a cave and let his fire consume him.
When Dak’s two best friends, Tog and Priya leave for an exciting mission, Dak is left behind because of his fourth failed attempt at the Krusible. Instead of remaining behind to endure his punishment, Dak does exactly what everyone feared he might, and secretly follows them. Once on the surface world, Dak quickly learns – in the face of temptation, savagery, torture and possible death – the significance of the secret of Avonoa.

Meet Heidi
who has some insightful answers to some in-depth questions!


1  

What book(s)/movies/radio programs from your past have inspired what you write today?
Merlin the TV series! I love everything fantasy with lots of dragons and magic and Merlin was especially inspiring! Without a doubt, Harry Potter and The Inheritance Cycle played key roles as well!
Do you ever draw on the personal experiences of family or friends for events in your book(s)? I try to stick mostly to my own experiences or ones I’ve entirely made up. I like the idea of using other people’s names and I wouldn’t want the two to mix too closely. I think if I ever used someone else’s experience I would ask permission first. If so, do you disguise them well enough you don’t feel you’ve invaded someone’s privacy?
When you’re planning your characters/setting, do you ever make charts or draw maps to help you visualize the story? Do you feel the time spent is of benefit? I have an entire notebook of hand-drawn pictures and charts and maps. I also have a digital notepad I use for general ideas. Both are a great benefit to look back on when necessary.
Do you ever look through magazines/catalogues for pictures resembling the characters you’re visualizing? I look online, but only occasionally. My characters are so well-defined in my head that other pictures usually don’t do them justice.
Have you ever read a newspaper/magazine article or seen something on the news which has given you an idea for a story? Not yet. Very few news clips on dragon sightings. However I might imagine an animal attack to try to incorporate it into the story, but it’s difficult to know exactly what happened, so I have to make it up anyway.
Have you ever become so involved with a character that ending the story is difficult? Endings are always difficult, but I find it easier to move on considering I have to edit and revisit my characters over and over.
After you’ve written the last sentence, do you ever write a sequel in your head? Yes, as soon as the last sentence is in black and white I get curious as to what happens next for my characters. Their lives move along parallel to mine.
I often use epilogues in my books to tie up all the loose ends and give closure to the characters’ future lives. Is this helpful to you, or do you prefer to make up your own “ever-afters” for a book you’ve read? I can go either way. Sometimes those epilogues are exactly what I would imagine for them, thus giving me a satisfying end to the story. Other times (and I do this often with every aspect of a book) I don’t think it’s right and re-imagine it in my mind in order to get the right ending or sequence.
What marketing method do you find most useful in getting your books ‘out there’? Email discounts and deals websites, like BookBub, eReader News Today, and others.
Do you call yourself a ‘writer’ or an ‘author’? Are they the same, or is there a difference? Explain. Sometimes I call myself a ‘writer’ if I’m not referring specifically to a novel, like if I’m offering to help someone write a short piece. I call myself an ‘author’ when I’m talking about what I do because I write novels. I feel like an author writes novels and a writer writes anything else. Also, I think an ‘author’ has a finished novel, whether published or not. Of course, I prefer the title ‘fabulist’ because I feel like what I really do is tell lies that entertain and/or instruct.
If you’ve written more than one book, what have you learned between the first one and the new release? I learn something new all the time! I have two completed sci-fi novels that I haven’t published yet and I won’t publish them until I go back and make the changes I’ve learned are necessary. I’m working on getting my second novel published now (The Shadow of Avonoa – the sequel to The Secret of Avonoa) and I’ve learned a lot about how I want the story to be told compared to the advice I’ve gotten along the way. I’ve solidified the difference between my style and everyone else’s suggestions and I think it makes for a much more enjoyable read.




 The Secret of Avonoa is available at Amazon.

Visit Heidi's Amazon Author Page 
 for more information about the Heidi and the Avonoa Series.