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Opening the Door to 2019

If you follow me on social media, you know that the past week has been on the busy side, and that it’s not over yet. Christmas celebrations on both sides of the state, time with friends in different cities, my wedding anniversary. Now New Year’s (though we blessedly have zero plans) and my birthday rapidly approach.

And…release day. We Hope for Better Things will be out in the world on its own, like a young bird finally pushed out of the nest into the cold air of the unknown. Today’s podcast is about what that feels like.

That’s little first-grade me in the picture, reading. And for the past few months, I’ve been reading a lot.

 

 

 

 

These are all books that will release in 2019 like mine, with the exception of the first, which is already out, and I’ve enjoyed reading each one of them for different reasons.

Reading has always been important to me. I cannot imagine my life without books. And in the past eight or nine years, writing has been just as important to me. So as I consider what 2019 will bring and make goals for myself, reading and writing figure heavily.

It’s hard to believe we are entering the last year of the twenty-teens. The last year of my 30s. The last day, today, that I will consider myself an unpublished author or an aspiring author. 2019 is sure to bring with it a lot of excitement and opportunity, some stress and probably some overwork, and certainly some disappointments or failures. But one of the things I am sure it will bring in spades is more great books to read, more stories to write. And what book-lover could ask for more?

Thanks for coming along this journey to publication through the storytelling vehicle of this blog. Some of you have been here since 2012. Some came along with me to this space from earlier blogs, starting way back in 2008. Ten years! Ten years of reading my words, looking at my photos, watching me sew, seeing my son grow from a baby to a fifth grader…it’s nuts how quickly the time slips by. And it’s exciting to think about what the next ten years will bring.

I’m so grateful to you for reading this blog and my newsletter.

I’m so grateful to those of you who will read We Hope for Better Things.

I’m so grateful that I get to do what I love and that what I love to do can offer you some pleasure, comfort, laughter, or maybe just a moment to slow down and think.

May the Giver of all good gifts bless you in the coming year with faith, hope, and love. See you in 2019.

Debut Author Interview: B.P. Donigan

Starting today and running for….as long as it needs to, you’ll find a new feature on this humble blog: interviews with debut authors!

For the past year, I have found great camaraderie and help from my fellow 2019 debut authors. As we seek to support one another, some of us have offered to do interviews for our blogs. So every once in a while, you’re going to see one of them on here. Now, I haven’t read all of these books — some of them just aren’t in my wheelhouse, but that doesn’t mean they’re not in yours or in the wheelhouse of someone you know.

For the first, allow me to introduce you to B.P. Donigan.

B.P. Donigan was born and raised in Wasilla, Alaska (which she reminds us would later become famous thanks to one infamous politician who could see Russia from her house, but at the time was about as rural as you can get).

She attended college in rural Idaho earning a degree in Print Journalism, and then not-so-rural Utah earning a degree in Marketing, and finally moved to very-not-rural Boston where she lived and worked for ten years. After paying her dues to the Extreme Winters, she resides now in sunny California, with her two kids, two fish, two dogs, and one amazing husband. Like any good superhero she spends her days building her cover story behind a desk, and her nights saving the world (on paper, at least).

Donigan’s debut is Fate Forged.

Here’s the description:

Growing up on the streets of Boston, Maeve O’Neill learned to rely only on herself. Paying bills isn’t glamorous, but her life is on a better track—until she starts having agonizing visions of torture. Desperate to rid herself of the paralyzing episodes, she follows her visions to the scene of a murder. Instead of answers, she gets an unexpected gift from the victim: Magic.

With the unwanted power, Maeve becomes the access point to all of Earth’s untapped magic. Now, powerful enemies are after her and staying alive means striking a bargain with an untrustworthy ally with a long-shot plan. Maeve has to keep the magic in check until she can get rid of it, but her control is slipping and everything could go wrong. If the plan fails, her unlikely ally betrays her, or her enemies catch her, she’ll be handing over all of Earth’s magic…and her life.

Interest piqued? Let’s find out more:

What sparked the idea for Fate Forged?
Fate Forged started with a ‘what if’ questions. What if a woman inherited crazy magic powers, but had no idea how to control them?  From there, I let the questions lead me into a story. Who is she? Why doesn’t she know how to control the magic powers? Where do the powers come from? What if she doesn’t remember something critical about herself…

Did anything from your real life influence your book at all?
Definitely! I grew up in Alaska, which is where my characters go to search for a Fate who can remove the uncontrollable magic powers from my main character. They hike over a glacier and to the top of a mountain in a re-creation of a three-day hike I did when I was a teenager. (I wasn’t chased by demon dogs at the time, but otherwise it’s the same hike.) The locations, and even the hiker’s huts where they stop over, are all real places. Also, the book starts out in Boston where I lived for a decade after college, and I mention Davis Square and a fortune cookie factory, which are real places that are near and dear to my heart. I had a lot of fun putting my favorite places into my story.

Did you have to do any research for Fate Forged?
I researched everything! For the story itself, I had to map out the character’s road trip, and Google search weapons, how to realistically kill someone in hand-to-hand combat, and watch lots of videos online just to make a coherent fight scene. For a while there, I was pretty sure my internet searches were going to flag an FBI raid on my house.

How long did it take for you to write Fate Forged?
I first sat down to write a novel four years before Fate Forged was published. The first year was all about learning how to write a novel. I’ve always been an avid reader, and I knew what I liked, but I had no idea how to plan, plot, or pace a novel. An entire second year was spent editing my work in progress and then getting beta readers and critique partners.

Did anything change significantly in your book during the writing or editing process?
Yes! Many of the characters’ names changed, and the title used to be The Lost Sect, which I liked, but the publisher didn’t think had enough depth. After some soul searching, I decided “Fate” was a thread that will reach across the entire series, and then I attempted to find a title with the word Fate that didn’t sound like a romance novel! To make it all cohesive, I ended up coming up with titles for the first three books (as well as the series title) so the extra effort was worth it.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Plotter all the way. I’m always looking for better ways to plan out the plot, the characters, and pacing. For me, it’s so much easier to write creatively if I know the bones of the story are solid.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing, I have a full-time job, two kids, two dogs, and a husband. All that keeps me busy! When I have spare time, I love to dabble in home improvement projects and arts and crafts. I love trying new things, but honestly I have a hard time finishing up the projects I start.

What are you working on right now?
I’m working on book two in the Bound Magic Series, which is tentatively titled Fate Changed. Although the main characters overcome a lot of challenges in Fate Forged, there are still some people who need to be stopped, and the fate of Earth’s magic hangs in the balance in a new way.

Where can we find the book?
You can buy the book on Amazon | Kobo | Red Adept Publishing | B&N | GooglePlay

Where can we find you?
Website www.bpdonigan.com

Facebook (@BPDonigan)

Instagram (bpdonigan_author)

Twitter (@BPDonigan)

Goodreads

Join B.P. Donigan’s Newsletter

 

Before Starbucks: Remembering the Late-Nineties Independent Coffeeshop

Starbucks may have been founded in the 1970s, but it didn’t make its way around Michigan until the early 2000s. Before that, the quirky local independent coffeeshop was the only game in town.

Here’s a little taste of the long-gone coffeeshops that fueled my late teen years in the late Nineties.

Writing Across the Color Line

Last week I did an interview for a couple publications that will be coming out around the time We Hope for Better Things comes out to help spread the word about it. One of the questions the writer asked me is one I expect I will get a lot as people begin to encounter the book:

What did you, a white woman, do to ensure your black characters were authentic?

In answer to that question, I talked about my minor in US History in college and my year of extensive research into the black experience in America before I put pen to paper.

After that, I told her about Nancy, Mary, Debra, and Booker.

At various stages of the writing and revising of the manuscript that would become We Hope for Better Things, I asked black friends and writers to read and critique it, looking specifically for issues with black speech and characterization. Looking for anything that didn’t feel authentic to them, or that smacked of misinformation or stereotype.

Waiting for their critiques was sometimes nerve-wracking, especially since some of them were personal friends, not just other writers.

Today I’m with Nancy Johnson (who is now my critique partner) over on Writer Unboxed talking about how we’ve worked with each other to bring out the best in our writing, specifically how we’ve approached questions of race in our writing.

If you’re a writer who wants to populate your stories with a diverse cast of characters but you’re worried about getting something wrong or unintentionally offending someone, come join the conversation!

If you’re a reader who wonders how writers do what they do, come read about it!

NaNoWriMo Success, a Goodreads Giveaway, and the Return of #Debut19Chat

The past week has been busy in a good way.

I topped 50,000 words in my newest novel manuscript and won National Novel Writing Month for the second time (the result of the first time will actually be my second novel, coming out in September, and which has a shiny new title I can’t wait to share with you).

I finished up several PR items my publicist needed in order to spread the word about We Hope for Better Things.

I actually did my very first interview with a writer for a magazine!

I made much progress on an advance reader copy of The Patricide of George Benjamin Hill by James Charlesworth, another author who will debut in 2019.

dusted. I actually dusted.

I decorated for Christmas.

I did some laundry (finally).

I prepped food for a church potluck.

I started my Advent reading, Wrapped in Grace by Deana Lynn Rogers.

And #Debut19Chat is running again on Twitter, with new questions and answers to get to know 2019 debut authors and their projects.

Now I sit back a moment and consider the reality that 2018 is racing to a close and I have a very busy year ahead of me, in which I have two books coming out (one in just a month!), two books in the process of writing and revising, and I’m directing my beloved WFWA writing retreat.

If you want to keep up with what I’m doing, including my book launch events, speaking and workshops, my podcast, and more, you can get my newsletter in your email inbox by subscribing here.

If you want to enter to win one of ten free copies of We Hope for Better Things, you can enter the Goodreads Giveaway here!

And if you want to listen to me riff about the cute online animal videos I would have attempted to make as a child had the technology been available to me, click here to listen to the latest Your Face Is Crooked podcast episode. Or click the graphic below, which is my husband communing with a goat.

 

Snow Day, More Podcasting, and Looking Forward to Release Day

It’s the first snow day of the season today. Rain turned to snow overnight, making for nasty driving conditions. We woke up to about four or five inches, and it’s still snowing. We managed to get the patio furniture covered and get some firewood inside before it all started coming down.

Sleeping in, fresh cinnamon rolls for a late breakfast, and a snug day inside our little brick house. Snow days aren’t so bad. And now that the boy is ten, I actually get some work done as well.

This weekend I edited and scheduled the next several weeks’ worth of the Your Face Is Crooked podcast (including this week’s episode). Today I will record a new outro to add to the end of each episode. We’re just about five weeks away from the release of We Hope for Better Things, and starting in January, I’ll no longer be telling people about how they can pre-order it. Instead, you’ll actually be able to buy it outright! (A great use of all those Amazon and Barnes and Noble gift cards you’ll be getting at Christmas.)

I’m excited and nervous (mostly about my two live events which I’m kind of dreading). I’m trying to decide just what to do on release day to keep my mind off it and avoid constantly refreshing Amazon to see where it ranks. Since it comes out on New Year’s Day, I guess I’ll be taking down the Christmas decorations and cleaning the house. It’s a glamorous life, but someone needs to live it.

For today, I’m working. And writing. And cooking my own Thanksgiving dinner because every year we go to someone else’s house and so I never get any leftovers. If you find yourself at home today because of snow (or if you’re one of those unfortunate souls stuck at an airport because of it) you might want to check out the Your Face Is Crooked podcast. Each episode is short and amusing and maybe they’ll brighten your cloudy day a bit.

Here’s this week’s ep:

Space Invaders

As an introvert, I don’t typically start conversations. And I almost never start them with strangers (unless I’m trying really hard to be approachable). So I’m always taken by surprise and always a bit uncomfortable when strangers start conversations with me out of the blue.

First, they may not know it, but they have actually interrupted a conversation I was already having…with myself…in my head.

Second, I find that to me personal space is more than just physical. It’s aural. And if there have been no formal introductions or good manners have not dictated the talking (as in the cases of telling to the person behind the counter your coffee order or saying excuse me when you bump into someone) it almost feels inappropriate, like when you watch that brief ungloved hand touch in the Kiera Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice and somehow that’s the sexist thing in the whole movie until she catches sight of Darcy striding toward her in the morning light after the countess visits her, and then they ruin it in the American version with that stupid sappy tag on the end with them sitting outside by the reflecting pool at his house…

ANYWAY.

That’s what this one is about…