Like Michael Landon when he thought up Highway to Heaven, or like David Boreanaz when he signed on to do Bones, I am about to embark upon my third series. I’ve written four books so far in my award-winning and Amazon bestselling romantic comedy In Love in the Limelight series and two books so far in my series set in the heart of the Cotswolds, the Drakenfall series. So if I’ve not yet written all the books for these two series, why start a third? Well, it all began last October …
For the holiday season of 2016, I contributed a Christmas short story “It Doesn’t Show Signs of Stopping” to a limited release holiday anthology It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Chick Lit. As I always do whenever I am part of an anthology, I read all the stories in the anthology as soon as the book comes out, if not sooner if I can sneak peeks at the stories by bugging my fellow authors. So, last November, I started reading another of the stories in the anthology, “The Miraculous Power of Butter Cookies” by Holly Tierney-Bedord, an author I kind of knew from some of my writer’s groups. Hm, I thought. Another Christmas cookies story. Then I started reading and OMG I was swept away by prose so warm and wry and gosh darn evocative and deceptive in its simplicity that I immediately thought of Flannery O’Connor. I kid you not. It was that good. When I was done with her story, I messaged her and told her how totally amazeballs she was. Then I read a chick lit book of hers about a woman who goes on a reality show to win the man of her dreams, Bellamy’s Redemption. I don’t even like watching reality shows, but I could not put this book down and I could not stop laughing! And the romance was subtle but squeefully wonderful! Seriously, the book amused me to such an extent that sometimes I will be doing the dishes or walking through the grocery store and I will think of a scene from the book and just burst out laughing! Then I read one of the best books I can ever remember reading – Holly’s Surviving Valencia, a masterpiece that starts out as compelling women’s fiction and twists and turns into a thrilling, suspenseful, and ultimately chilling mystery. The scenes of the narrator growing up in the shadow of her adored, incandescent sister Valencia are achingly perfect, and the journey of how the narrator learns to survive her sister’s untimely teenage death captivates to the very core. But then the book becomes tricky and eerie, when a past thought long-dead surfaces like the Loch Ness monster and keeps you guessing until the VERY. LAST. CHAPTER.
It is rare that I discover an author who so transports me, let alone one that I kind of know! Then early this year, I got a message from Holly. “Would you be interested in co-writing a cozy mystery with me?” Umm … are you talking to me? I mean, yeah!!! Heck, yeah! Are you sure you mean me? Turns out, when she read my romantic comedy Miss Adventure, for the fist time in a long time, her internal editor did not even engage. She was swept away by the ease of my prose and she lost herself in my story.
Does this sound like kismet, or what? We have since become fast friends online and she even let me read her upcoming, soon to be released women’s fiction saga, Sweet Hollow Women. Let me just say, Mmmrrh!!!!!
We have been tossing ideas back and forth over email for a few months now, and finally … this past weekend, I flew to Wisconsin to meet Holly!!!!! It was like Sleepless in Seattle,but without the kid, and the romance was in the form of what we decided to put in the book. We hammered out the final outline of the first story in what we aim to make a helluva series – I have never before been so galvanized by writing!
Holly … cozy mystery … writing with someone I admire to the high heavens and like a heck of a lot besides … Mmmrrh! Stay tuned for more details as the story develops …
When she was a kid in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Geralyn Vivian Ruane Corcillo dreamed of one day becoming the superhero Dyna Girl. So, she did her best and grew up to constantly pick up litter and rescue animals. At home, she loves watching black & white movies, British mysteries, and the NY Giants. Corcillo lives in a drafty old house in Hollywood with her husband Ron, a guy who’s even cooler than Kip Dynamite.
Pick Six Author Interviews are occasional features on A Slice of Orange. We send a bunch of questions to the author who then picks just six of the questions to answer. This month we are featuring a Pick Six Author Interview with best selling and multi-published author Jennifer Lyon.
Jennifer Lyon is the pseudonym for USA Today Bestselling Author Jennifer Apodaca. Jen lives in Southern California where she continually plots ways to convince her husband that they should get a dog. After all, they met at the dog pound, fell in love, married and had three wonderful sons. So far, however, she has failed in her doggy endeavor. She consoles herself by pouring her passion into writing books. To date, Jen has published more than twenty books and novellas, won numerous awards and had her books translated into multiple languages, but she still hasn’t come up with a way to persuade her husband that they need a dog.
Is coffee a ritual? I like to write with a cup of coffee. I don’t have a lot of other rituals, but I do like to write at my desktop computer in my office. I also have a laptop that I can use when necessary. For me, when a book is going well, I can write anywhere.
I’m neither. I’ve found that word or page counts don’t work for me. I become artificially focused on the numbers, instead of the story. I’ve learned that the first 100 to 200 pages of my book will be painful, slow and awkward. If I can just get through it, no matter how long it takes, then the second half usually goes much faster. For me, my trick is to show up at the computer and try. Some days are good, and some days are not. But what counts is that I keep showing up, and somehow, I’ve managed to write 25 books that way.
I really want to write more Wing Slayer Hunter books (my paranormal series), and I want to tell the stories of the four other members of the Savaged Illusions band. Someday I’d love to try my hand at a really intense thriller too. I always have more books I want to write, it’s the time to do it all that’s in short supply.
I’m currently working on SAVAGED DEVOTION, the final book in the Savaged Illusions Trilogy. Justice and Liza finally get their happily ever after in this book! Writing this trilogy has been an epic rollercoaster ride for me, and I hope readers will love it as much as I do. It’s a rock star romance about the price of fame vs the power of love. SAVAGED DREAMS is book one, SAVAGED VOWS is book 2, and SAVAGED DEVOTION is book three.
I get to live realities I never would in real life. I’ve solved murders when I was writing mysteries, been a witch, fought demons and made an ancient dragon fall in love with me in my paranormal series, and now I’m living the life of a rock star, and he’s falling in love with me too, LOL!
Being an author is a journey into a new and exciting world with every book I write, and ever better, I get to meet incredible characters who overcome huge obstacles to win against evil and find real love. The down side is that coming up with ideas is easy, but writing them into a compelling and emotional book is hard work that keeps me awake nights worrying and trying to find the best way to tell the story. Deadlines are brutal, and juggling writing and promotion is exhausting. But as hard as it is, I loved it and can’t imagine doing anything else.
Usually the only time I listen to music while writing is to get amped up for a fight scene. Hard rock helps me get into that adrenaline fueled state I need to write the action scene. Otherwise, I like quiet. When the writing is going well, I “hear” the voices of the characters in my head. If it’s going really well, then I can’t type fast enough to keep up. When it’s not going well, I resort to wine over music 😊
On the flip side, I sometimes bake to stir my creativity, and then I have music going full blast in my kitchen. Music has a way of bringing out our emotional truths, and that in turn, helps me get to my character’s emotional truths, which many times will solve my writer’s block.
No, first off I don’t know if they have coffee. I mean…shudder. And secondly, I’d miss my family too much. However, if they had French bulldog puppies, they could probably lure me into their spacecraft.
Thank you, Jen for taking time to answer our questions. We think you should get that French bulldog puppy for answering a bonus question.
I know, most of America drives around in their own cars, but those city dwellers who find themselves in the back seat of a taxi or other hired conveyance may sympathize with the situation. Many people that drive for a living have the radio on: talk radio, music, endless news, NPR. I have to confess, I am a big advocate for silence, and feel there should be a bi-partisan movement for the right to not have to listen to stuff (on airplanes, in elevators, in malls, etc.).
Sure, I could get (and indeed have) earphones. But I don’t want to block out the world, I want to hear it, just not endless marketing jabber or musak or whatever. But I am particularly unhappy with having to listen to endless news or much of talk radio. There are a few talk radio stations whose goal is to be entertaining or informative. But most lure their listeners in with conflict, outrage, fear, danger, scary information, etc. like a fish with a dangler lure….
These kinds of shows—TV, radio, whatever—wind listener’s clocks, pull their chain, and give them some frisson of energy, hate, fear, anger, which seems to be far more addictive and universal (clearly part of one’s “lizard brain“) than a feeling of peace, happiness, learning or engagement. It exhausts me to listen to the streams of exhaust! And I don’t have adequate shields to effectively block out noise. Yes, I freely confess, I can’t pack with the TV on. It’s just too distracting.
Propaganda works if you hear information over and over again, it wears away at your critical faculty (if you have one). It’s convincing, even it it’s patently untrue and utterly ridiculous. If you see it, hear it, read it, talk about it it gets truthified through endless repetition. So I now not only ask the drivers to turn off the radio, but tell them to stop listening to this endless, depressing stream of fairly useless information. It isn’t good for their outlook on life.
It’s all a creepy, voluntary self-brainwashing.
I now feel much more charitable towards endless sports! But really, they should be reading romances….
So who established word counts? And when did words become so expensive to print that they require massive cuts, like the U.S. budget? Does that mean that in today’s market James Joyce’s, Ulysses wouldn’t make it to publication? Or past the word police? Would an agent even get through the first five pages?
I can imagine an editor skimming through Chapter One of Charles Dickens’, A Tale of Two Cities. “… it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of unbelief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness,…we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way….Yada, yada, yada.” His critique might be, “A rambling paragraph with enough commas to fill an entire chapter. Excessive word count, repetitive and burdensome. Guy probably sent it to me by mistake. I’ll have to let him know that we don’t publish psychiatric diaries.”
The editor would most likely want to limit the count of ‘to be’ verbs. By those standards, I guess Shakespeare wouldn’t make the cut it either, “To be or not to be.”
When did we get so busy and pressed for time that we gulp down a book so we can get on to the next one? When did our palate become so insipid that we can no longer relish and savor the taste of words making us miss the whole joy of the language journey?
I recall the film, The Agony and the Ecstasy. No, it’s not a sexy romance. Sorry. It depicts the story of Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. Several scenes show Pope Sixtus IV impatiently interrupting the artist at work to ask, “When will it be finished?” to which Michelangelo would always reply, “When it is finished.”
Like Michelangelo’s paintbrush, I bristle at the agent mantra to keep it short, be concise. Yes, I know words cost money and time is money. But so did paint back then. What might the Sistine Chapel look like today if Michelangelo had raced to finish it, or had been limited by how many paint colors he could use? “Tone it down. Don’t apply the paint too thickly. Stay on budget.”
Logically, I understand that rules and formats, and word counts must apply. But when I was a teacher I didn’t teach to the test because that’s not good pedagogy. For me, a creative work is finished when it is finished. And as a writer, I don’t want to write to the word count, but I do always want to make every word count.
See you next time on July 22nd.
Manager, Educator, and former High School Social Studies teacher, Veronica credits her love of history to the potpourri of cultures that make up her own life and to her upbringing in diverse Brooklyn, New York. Her genres of choice are Historical Fiction where she always makes new discoveries and Children’s Picture Books because there are so many wonderful worlds yet to be imagined and visited. She currently resides in Macungie, PA.