Friday, July 5, 2013

National Flash Fiction Day Event in Dublin: Flashbulbs

National Flash Fiction Day was on the 22nd June and I spent it - well, some of it - reading a piece of my flash fiction in a pub in Dublin.

Me reading, taken by @AliBrenz
My former writing teacher, Claire Hennessy, is now a director of Big Smoke Writing Factory. When she put out a call for flash fiction, I raided my archives (remember my flash fiction world tours?) and polished my favourites. One was selected for reading at the Flashbulbs event on the 22nd June in Arthur's Pub.

It was a great event. The quality of the fiction was high. The ability of the writers to read well was surprisingly high (am I the only writer who doesn't just know how to read her work aloud well? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?). It was well organised and the readjustment of the height of the microphone between each speaker was impressively seamless.

We heard about galleons appearing in midland towns, a sixteen-year-old character with a devastating voice and a tragicomic insistence that she had 'done it all', the secrets of a pub employee and a rebellious nun. Readers included Alison Wells (her tale, about a holographic guard dog, was full of Alison's characteristic mix of sci-fi and humour) and Bernard O'Rourke, a film journalist and fellow Dublin NaNo-er who read his near-poetry about exploring the city by night powerfully - and completely from memory.

The non-writer and my cartoonist friend who came with me to show support both enjoyed it, which is a pretty good litmus test of a successful event (although you'd probably have to know them both to realise this). The combination of strong writing (I was flattered to be included), good organisation and a contest on the night (5 finalists, with the ultimate decision resting on their reading, judged by Dave Lordan and won by Dervilla McKeith) combined to create a great evening.

Also, there was free chocolate and a real turf fire. How can you go wrong?

PS: If you're curious, I read a very slightly edited version of the story I wrote about Venice for last year's A-Z Flash Fiction World Tour, re-named Acqua Alta.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Christine Glover's Debut: Interview

I could think of no better way to return to blogging after my hiatus than to celebrate the success of one of my very first blog followers - the fabulous Christine Glover, whose debut romance novel will be released in Summer 2014.

Christine is a smart, sassy, dedicated writer with an amazing life behind her and a dazzling future ahead of her. She's a goal-setter (I tell my friends about her goal-setting all the time, like she's an internet guru!) and all-round inspiration, and today she's answering some questions about her shiny new book deal and the writing life!

First of all, many congratulations on your deal! Tell us about your debut novel! Who are the characters we'll get to meet?

Hi Ellen, thank you so much for inviting me to your blog. My debut novel is called THE MAVERICK’S RED HOT REUNION and will be released in Summer 2014. Here’s a sneak peek at Kennedy and Zach’s story:

Corporate Maverick Zach Tanner returns to North Carolina to rebuild his dying friend's resort. He's got the money, the power and the will to transform Sweetbriar Springs into a premier spa for the glamorous, but he doesn't count on the woman he once loved and lost to handle the construction contract. Zach thought he'd buried his desire for Kennedy five years ago, but he's still drawn to her. He's determined to satisfy his craving to get her out of his system, but he won't lose his heart again.

Construction company owner Kennedy Gibson is eager to restore Sweetbriar Springs, but when she realizes Zach is her new boss she's terrified he'll learn the truth about their breakup. She agrees to work with the one man she vowed never to hurt again. She protects her heart, but can't deny the passion Zach's reignites in her. Soon she believes she has a chance for a different future with Zach, but her secret threatens to destroy their red hot reunion.

Now only the power of love can heal the wounds of their past and give them the future they deserve.

You've blogged about getting "the call" on the way to Zumba (proof that exercise is good for you :p). Tell us a bit about your new publisher - what attracted you to them?

My new publisher is Entangled Publishing. They’re an e-publisher that has worldwide distribution with print book options. I’ve been curious about this publishing house since its inception and have interviewed many friends on Digging Out of Distraction about their first sales to Entangled. 

Then I interviewed the Entangled Publishing Indulgence Line’s Editorial Director Alethea Spiridon Hopson who graciously had agreed to judge contemporary series finalists for THE LINDA HOWARD AWARD OF EXCELLENCE writing contest. One of my questions was “What do you look for in an author you are working with?” She replied, “Kindness.” And she wanted a fresh take on super Alpha-licious heroes and the heroines. Right then I knew I had to query her with Kennedy and Zach’s story. A few months later I signed my contract and officially joined the Entangled Publishing family. *Big Smiley Face*

Your blog is known for your signature 'Break Out the Bubbly and the DarkChocolate!' posts celebrating debut authors. How did you celebrate your debut? Was there bubbly and dark chocolate? :)

Initially everything was such a blur that I just went about my own daily business in a daze. We’d already scheduled a dinner date with a couple I adore. We didn’t have champagne, but there was a sinfully delicious slice of dark chocolate cake consumed that night. I brought champagne to my hair salon because I told my stylist that as soon as I sold, we’d celebrate together. I’ve been sitting in her chair for five years and she’s been a great encouragement to me, so it was super fun to celebrate with everyone that day. 

Then I got to celebrate with my Heart of Dixie writing chapter and yes, there was champagne—more to come as I plan to pop some bubbly with my Southern Magic writing mates. And I finally get to sip the bubbly with my fabulous Critique Partner Pam Mantovani when we see each other again. Later on I’ll celebrate again with my friends at the RWA National Conference this July. Yes. I’m a party on the go :)

I've been following your writing journey since I started blogging in 2009. How did you keep the faith while you were looking for a publisher? What kept you going?

I’m very blessed to have an incredible support network both in the writing world and in my non-writing world. We’re all going to have dark days, but if you’re surrounded by positive, encouraging people who believe in you then you’ll find the strength to carry on even when it seems like you’ll never attain your dream. As my Critique Partner Sharon Wray says, “If you quit, then you reject yourself.” 

So instead of quitting when I’m discouraged or disappointed, I give myself a mini break. I hang out with friends, shop, go for a nice walk, read a fabulous book, or watch a great movie. Eventually a character pops into my head, or a story idea germinates, and I can’t wait to get back to doing what I love: writing.

What advice would you give to unpublished writers?

Seek a professional writing organization with resources that will help you grow as a writer. I’m fortunate to be a member of the Romance Writers of America and four writing chapters as well as two online writing groups (I’m a social butterfly in life and in the virtual world LOL). Read, read, & read. 

Take courses, study the craft, and don’t be afraid to query even though it means risking rejection. Every rejection letter is a Badge of Courage. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people who believe in your dreams and give the same encouragement to them.

I love your goal-setting process - I read your posts about it religiously and share them with friends! What goal-setting advice do you follow? Are there any authors or blogs about goal-setting that you love?

I’ve always been a self-driven person. List maker? Check. Type A overachiever? Double check. But my primary goal setting process is derived from this book: LIFE MAKEOVERS by Cheryl Richardson. I revisit the first few chapters every year to develop a core change within myself—a fear to overcome or conquer in order to move forward. 

Another great resource is James Scott Bell’s THE ART OF WAR FOR WRITERS. When I first started writing my goal was to write 2 pages a day, 4 days a week. At the time the pages were single-spaced. Little did I know I was writing a chapter a week! Now my goals are more complex, multi-layered, and I stop to review them every 3 months. 

I also pay myself a quarter for every writing goal I achieve as well as for exercising. Sometimes I pay myself a quarter just for showing up at the computer with my cup of coffee :) Those quarters add up, and I convert them into twenty dollar bills which I use to help pay for my writing expenses. 

Okay, I’m done blathering, but I’ll end on this note: goals are important, but so is treating yourself with kindness. There will be days when all you can do is walk by the computer, look at the screen and tap the manuscript three times before you go out to do something totally non-writing because you need to refill your creative soul. And that’s worth a quarter in my book!

The interview ends there, guys, but just to give you an idea of what a lovely person Christine is, and why I'm so delighted at her success, I want to share what she wrote to me at the end of the interview.

Thanks Ellen. You were my first International blog follower. I’ve had so much fun getting to know you via the Internet. I hope one day to meet you in person. We’ll sip champagne and nibble on dark chocolate to celebrate our friendship. 

This is why I keep coming back to blogging - because you make friends, meet lovely people, and walk around grinning for a whole day because a woman in Alabama that you've never met got the book deal you'd rooted for for four years.

For more info on Christine, visit