Tag Archives: authors

Interview with Novelist Rebecca Nolen (The Dry, Deadly Thyme)

Here is a recent interview.

Novel Writing Festival

Rebecca Nolen
President, Houston Writer’s Guild
Author:  The Dry  and   Deadly Thyme
Follow her blog

MT: Do all of your novels have a general theme and tone?

Rebecca Nolen: No. One if for adults and the other is a middle-grade. I plan to do more novels that will go with my two published novels. I’m working on a novel called Deadly Haste that takes place right before Deadly Thyme. It is a stand-alone, too.

MT: Why should people buy your novels?

RN: My children’s novel The Dry is a great adventure story for children ages 9 to 99. It’s a fantasy that involves giant bugs and also, for the science nerds like me, each chapter heading starts with a wasp fact. The wasp facts have nothing to do with the story.

Adults who love discovering a great story to keep them up reading at night, will love Deadly…

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Writers You Need to Meet

This blog hop introduces you to some writers you may not know, and gives a glimpse of their work and style. I was tagged HERE for this Blog Hop by writer Pamela Fagan Hutchins – here’s her introduction, and following Pamela I’ll introduce you to three other writers you need to know, after I answer a few questions.

Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes award-winning and bestselling romantic mysteries and hilarious nonfiction, and moonlights as a workplace investigator and employment attorney. She is passionate about great writing, smart authorpreneurship, and her two household hunks, husband Eric and one-eyed Boston terrier Petey. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound, if she gets a good running start.


Saving Grace, the lead book in the Katie & Annalise series (#7 Nook/#34 Kindle/#47 iBooks bestseller) is now free, FOREVER! You can get it free everywhere! The Jumbie House, a short story expanded outtake from Leaving Annalise, #2 in the Katie & Annalise series, is also free in ebooksaving harmoney form. Pamela’s NEWEST BESTSELLER is the second book in the  Katie & Annalise series, Leaving Annalise.  Leaving-Annalise-The third book in the award-winning and Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes best-selling Katie & Annalise series, Finding Harmony, is now an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-finalist (Winner TBA 7-21-14) and bestseller itself!

Pamela has written numerous non-fiction books including “What Kind of Loser Indie Publishes? and how can I be one, too?

This is Rebecca again and now I will answer a few questions, which may have been answered in a previous blog. That’s okay, sometimes the content is constantly updating.

What am I working on?

Besides trying to keep up a steady marketing agenda for my two published novels, I am currently writing a lot of reviews, working on a Y/A (I’m typing up the outline), and a new short story: a prequel to The Dry. It’s so short that it should be called a prologue. I decided you needed to see how the key was stolen.

How does my work differ from others in the genre?

 The Dry is a historical fantasy set in West Virginia. There aren’t a lot of those around. Deadly Thyme is a psychological suspense set in Cornwall, England. There are a few of those around, but I venture to say that you’ll still get a fantastic jolt reading this one. My Y/A is a fact-based fiction set in 1970 Houston. Is it about me? Not really. You would quickly be dulled to death if it were.

Why do I write what I write?

I have a compulsion to tell stories. I’ve done it all my life. When I was a child they were called lies. Okay, I’m kidding, I only lied when it was completely necessary, and the rest of the time I made up stories to entertain my friends or the cats – whoever would listen. Now I make up stories to entertain my friends: YOU!

How does my writing process work?

I have some time each morning to set up my work station. After running through my social media obligations (Okay, I read the funny stuff on Facebook), I set up my daily goal for writing. Sometimes my writing equals a blog post. That’s okay. It’s still writing. I write a synopsis first. A synopsis is like the story condensed to one page – or even one sentence. Writing the synopsis first is much easier than saving it until the end because there are always subplots that feel too important to leave out and subplots make for a long synopsis. Can a writer skip the synopsis? Absolutely not! It is probably the most important part of the process next to writing the first page and the last page.

Now to introduce you to some fantastic authors!

You really need to click on their links. They are amazing!!

Chris Rogers

A visual and literary creative, Chris Rogers began her journey as a graphic designer. Corporate and commercial promotions occupied most of her creative energy during those early years, but Roger’s adventurous spirit led her into diverse avenues where she designed personalized glassware, ceramic tile, and the launch issue of a national magazine.

With the advent of computerized graphics and an economic downturn, she was faced with a difficult choice: either learn this new electronic design tool or choose a new career. She began looking at what that new career might be – writing and illustrating children’s books? Travel writing and photography? She tried her hand at each, and sold her photo-illustrated articles to regional and national publications, but before she was fully committed in any direction, a fire gutted her studio.

After salvaging a single drawing table from the ruins, she continued creating marketing materials for clients while seeking a new path in the literary world. Many rejections later, her stories began to win awards. A major publisher produced her suspense novels in print, electronic, and audio formats. Lauded by fans and critics, the books were translated into three languages, and the series was optioned for film.

While continuing to explore the literary venue, Chris inevitably embraced the creative form of paint on canvas, which allows her narrative flair and graphic origins to unfold in unison. While creating new canvases, she also participates in the design of her book covers. Her paintings can be found in private and corporate collections.

“A lover of art and storytelling since grade school, I opened one of my favorite books one day and wondered if I could ever write half as well as Dean Koontz or Minette Walters or Steven King. How did they create such intricate plots? I started with children’s books – after all – I was a mother … I should understand kids, right?

Well, not so much. So I wrote a romance novel – I’d been married, so I should know a little about romance.

cover-BitchFactor-177x300A little was about it. A very nice rejection letter told me there was more mystery in my story than romance. So I owned up to my true calling and, when my suspense thriller Bitch Factor was published, Romantic Times magazine gave it four-and-a-half stars. Rage Factor and Chill Factor also earned high marks for the romantic thread.

The truth is, mystery and suspense novels have always intrigued me, but I also enjoy romance, science-fiction, horror and fantasy, as well as the occasional mainstream novel by such wonderful authors as E. Annie Proulx.

My literary niche, it turns out, is dark and gritty with an occasional humorous twist. If you like that sort of story, you’ll find my books and short stories thoroughly engaging.”

Megan LaFollet

Megan La Follett was born in Florence and went to college in Rome, but she’s never been to Italy; she’s looking forward to the day that isn’t true! She has loved books from before she could repeat the alphabet and has fond memories of devouring every story in the children’s and folklore sections in her hometown library.

She cut her teeth writing as both a Game Master and a player on the play-by-post forums of the publisher of the world’s most popular tabletop RPG, where she was happily surprised to find that her games were popular enough to draw spectators. Writing for game threads is like drafting a book you can’t revise, with characters you can’t control. In other words, a wild ride!

With three children ranging from a kindergartener down to a toddler (with a spitfire in between), and a freelance editing and book design business, she’s pretty sure she’s insane for getting serious about this whole writing thing. But if that’s insanity, she’s in good company and couldn’t be happier!

“I have been, at different stages of life and for varying lengths of time: a horse trainer, a gas station attendant (in Oregon and New Jersey, pumping gas is too hazardous for amateurs), a math tutor, an underpaid lab assistant, a sandwich artist (and a manager of teenage sandwich artists), and a scientist. Somehow or another, that all led to who I am now: mother, wife, freelance editor, writer. Which only makes sense when you understand that what I’ve always been, no matter what the job description said, is a book lover. Story, in all myriad forms, captivates me.”

Denise Saterfield

If you wish to be a writer; write!” – Epictetus the Greek philosopher

Promo Photo

I couldn’t agree more with Epictetus so in June 2011, after 25 + years at the same job, I decided to take a leap of faith, quit the safety of a “regular” job, and pursue a full-time career in writing.  You see, writing was a passion that I rediscovered after enrolling into college many, many, many years after graduating from highschool.  I’ve always heard, it’s never too late.  Well, it’s not!  So, after 10 years of studying, I reaped the rewards of hard work and determination and received a degree in Professional Writing.  Today, graduation day remains on my Top 10 List of Happiest Days of My Life.

When I think about writing, I get happy.  My brain kicks into overdrive and the ideas flow freely like Niagara Falls!  That’s what brings me here!

My main writing focus is Children’s Books – all categories of Children’s Books – Picture Books, Early Reader Chapter Books, and Middle Grade Books.  You can see what I’m working on by clicking the WORKS IN PROGRESS tab above.  I intend to publish for children under the name Denise Ditto so be on the look out for my new Children’s webpage and Facebook page coming soon.

I also write short stories, essays, and I blog.  I have a Writer’s Blog which you can click here or the above link to visit.  I p0st a variety of articles about things that interest me on this blog site.

In addition, I have several other blogs.  A movie blog called The Ditto Review, Play it Again Sam, and I recently launched The Ditto Book Review , a book review blog.

Author Blog Hop 2014

woman on stack of books uid 3
Ready? Set to take off on a new writing adventure? Go!

This is exciting! I’ve been asked if I would participate in an author blog hop. There are four questions I’m to answer and that wasn’t the first one.

I received the invite from Megan LaFollet an editor (She edited my novel The Dry) and a writer. Click on her name to find out more. Her upcoming sci-fi/f novel sounds like something I’d love to read.

Here’s more about my writing:

What are you working on?

Good question, wait…that’s the first one isn’t it? Okay, I’m so prepared. Let’s see, notes? No notes.

To be totally honest I’ve just received my novel Deadly Thyme back from my copy editor, Rhonda Erb. Wow, I’ve got some small rewrites to finish up and then the new improved Deadly Thyme will be available on Amazon …perhaps within a month. Finally! Yes, I know.

Here’s where it gets interesting. I do have a new novel I’m working on. It’s a historical YA. It takes place in Houston in 1970. In the story there are three major conflicts surrounding the main character, one involves a dangerous school environment, one involves abuse in her family, and one involves the Vietnam war because her brother comes home permanently disabled.

How does your work differ from others in the genre?

I have read books about the Vietnam war, I’ve read YA books about family abuse, and I’ve read YA books about conflicts in school. But I haven’t read any historical YA books where the story takes place in 1970, much less in Houston. I think it might be a bit unique.

Why do you write what you do?

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind. Oh wait, that’s from a song Bob Dylan sang in 1962.

I’ve finished two novels, one is an adult psychological suspense, Deadly Thyme, set in Britain. I wrote it because I love page-turning suspense and mysteries set in Britain. The Dry is a children’s fantasy book and I wrote it because the story in my brain wouldn’t leave me alone. And I’m fascinated by insects. Thank the Lord they are small.

The present YA I’m writing because this story has been part of my life for forty years. Yes, it is autobiographical, but I’ve created a character who is nothing like me – to make it more readable. You’re welcome.

How does your writing process work?

I clear my work space, and lay out paper and a good pen. To begin with I write scenes long hand. I love the feel of the pen and the quick scribbles and mark-outs. It feels like I’m doing something. When I go to type what I’ve written in Word I tend to add and embellish but the original pen to paper writing is where the real story gets created. If I get stuck in the story I go back to pen and paper and usually the pieces fall back into place there.

I listen to music while I’m writing. At present, as you may have guessed, I’m listening to songs from the 60’s and 70’s. Good stuff. If that doesn’t make the story flow I listen to wordless music, usually Vivaldi. Classical guitar music makes my heart soar and ideas to pop into place. If you want music, it’s important to use music with the Adagio tempo, as the rhythm falls in with the human heartbeat.

For my first two novels I did not use any sort of charts or outlines. Each first draft took about a year to write. I started rewrites. Yes, I worked on both at the same time. Ten years later and I was still thrashing about with the muddle at the middle of each. I had written out the original story on a few pages and that became my fall-back outline. Otherwise, I’d still be working on them.

My first drafts tend to be too visual, so I have to wedge in the taste, touch, feel, and the smelly bits into later drafts.

With each of these novels I sought out advice and help from my writing instructor Chris Rogers, and from my good friend Kimberly Morris who has over sixty-five published books.

So, for my new YA I have an outline, and a timeline stretched across the wall of my studio.SAM_1027

It has already helped. I’ve been interrupted more times than I can count, and I don’t mean just because the dog wants to go out and bark at the garbage truck again, or because dinner needs cooking. Life interruptions can last days, or weeks, or months. Fortunately, because I’m more organized, when I come back I know where I was and can start again.

Now I’m going to recommend that you check out what these authors are up to and how their writing process works.

See Susan Klopfer’s books and blog at http://ebooksfromsusan.com/

And look what Lilia Fabry is up to at http://www.lfabry.com/blog/?wref=bif

Here’s Regina Puckett’s blog http://reginapuckettsbooks.weebly.com/blog.html






Don’t Undermine Your Comment with a Plug

I just read a great post by At WordPress.com. It is about not putting a link in your tweet or comment because you are trying to market yourself. I’m sure I’m guilty of this. I’ve been very enthusiastic about posting my URL for my book all over the place.

There is a time and place for this. I am not trying to be boring but doing anything repeatedly is boring.

At any rate, this is a great post if you take time to read it you’ll see what I mean. Plus, if you are trying to promote a business or a book, follow me on twitter – @rlnolen to see the tweets I’m finding about social media and author platform.

Don’t Undermine Your Comment with a Plug.

Author Platform, how to know if you “Got It”

messy art roomI was reading a blog the other day about author platform and one thing this author said struck me as doable. If you google yourself (go ahead), and you find your name and your novel, business, etc. at the top of the page, you “got it”. You have struck gold and you have the proverbial “platform”. You have answered the bridge troll’s three questions…you get to go across the bridge to …ummmm. Okay, you get to go across. Be happy.

Okay, I’m all for easy, so I googled Rebecca Nolen. I find my name up at the top of the page, several links to me at my “social media” sites and about half-way down the page there it is again… “The Real Rebecca Nolen”.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

The link goes nowhere, meaning that there is no information of what and who this “real” Rebecca Nolen is except that she is a total mystery. The only nugget of gold information that can be scraped up is that she lives in Dallas. I should pay her a visit.

Knocking on door…woman opens door, “Yes?”

Me. “Are you the real Rebecca Nolen?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I’ve been researching Rebecca Nolen and I see that you are the real one, or so it says on Google.”

Door slams.

Well, and that’s as far as I got trying to figure her out on Google, too.

So, I scroll down the Rebecca Nolen google page and find a lot of obituaries. There are a lot of dead Rebecca Nolens. Sad.

And more scrolling, Rebecca Nolen’s arrest record in Ohio. Hmmm. Haven’t been there in thirty years, no worries. Wait! What’s this??? Rebecca Nolen arrested in Galveston. Whoa! That’s too close to home. Ouch, she even looks a tad bit like me … if I had no teeth… and red hair. Okay, she doesn’t look much like me.

And more scrolling –  found lots of references for The Dry. That’s fantastic!! The Dry is showing up, people! Get it while its hot. And what’s this? A link to Rundstedt’s flicker page…where… he is showing all his friends my novel THE DRY!!!! Wow! Bing. Bing. Bing. Jackpot! Rundstedt is the WASP photographer who lives in Australia and kindly, I say KINDLY let me use his amazing photo for the book cover. Wow. He is showing everyone the book. Wow.

Who cares about platform when you have a world-famous photographer showing his friends your book?

Taking Control of Your Social Media

me and amyWhat a joy to be able to connect with readers through social media. One junior high boy wrote to me  yesterday that he loved The Dry. He said it was “awesome”. A girl wrote recently on FB that she was enjoying The Dry.

Social Media is a buzzy set of words. Without social media how do we connect with people that we know now? Or how do we meet new people who share our interests? I don’t know the answer. The world is not necessarily friendly. There are few opportunities to connect to people we would want to hang out with daily.

With social media such as Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest you can at least view those trying to connect with you. I don’t connect with people with no photo for instance unless I do know that person already. When someone tries to connect to you, wanting you to “accept” them, you can check out their page first. This would be difficult to do in the physical world. It’s not as if you can ask a person who wants to meet you walking past on the street all the pertinent questions within a few seconds. I think if someone stopped me on the street, I’d be apt to run away. Unless I’m walking the dog and they have a baby in a carriage.

Meeting people on Facebook is a snap. You can see where they’re from, where they live now, what they do for a living, if they own a dog… all in the comfort and time period that you wish, before accepting them as “friends”. It seems safe.

Are computer “friends” the same as friends? There are pros and cons about the “friendships” we have on the computer. Our FB friends are there as we share troubles, have a birthday, or celebrate a book launch. They might live on the other side of the world, but they are able to press “like”, type “Congratulations!” or “LOL” just as if they lived nearby and will be meeting up for lunch later in the week. The cons are that some FB friends are friends in a disconnected way.

Fortunately, you can control how much and to what extent FB friends, twitter friends, or LinkedIn friends/associates can see of you and what they can see of your other FB friends. The part about “your other friends” is important. I have marked on my security controls that friends except acquaintances can see my posts on my personal FB page. This is important. I may not know my friends’ friends so I don’t actually want them to see pictures of my family.

We all get the occasional repeat repeat of announcements in our news feed. An example from back when it was popular is Farmville. I never wanted to get on Farmville, but Farmville under the guise of being posted by friends would send me invite after invite to join. To the far right and upper corner of every post you can scroll your mouse over and see a little drop down box. In that box you can “mark as read” or “turn off”. In other words, you can turn off those annoying “please join such ‘n’ such” bits that turn up every other hour.

Another way you can control what shows up on your actual FB page is that you can delete and even edit what appears or what you’ve added. There have been things that I did not solicit or want to appear on my page. The occasional old photo where someone has “tagged” me I enjoy seeing. I don’t enjoy seeing ads to enter contests, or buy products. In a post, you can run your mouse over the top right hand corner and you will see a drop-down box that asks if you want to: change date, add location, highlight, hide from timeline, delete, or report/mark as spam.

Any post you post to your own timeline or to someone else’s you can go back and edit later, or immediately. Just like my writing, I often see mistakes in a post that I’ve posted when I read it again the next day. And just like my writing gets edited often more than once, so a post gets edited. You can do this, too.

Not seeing much on FB? If you click on “Home” at the top of the page you will see a long list/feed of what everyone on your friend’s list has posted. Poignant, sad, hilarious, scary, morbid, encouraging, and interesting stuff gets said every day. Scroll down and engage in fun, happy events. Leave a short comment or click “like”. Spend a little time doing this every day. You may see someone whose opinion makes you smile and think “I wonder if they would join my friend’s list?” Do it. But not often and not many. Facebook does not encourage mass “friending”. In fact, you can get booted off.

I hope I’ve given you some ideas about how you can control what kind of FB experience you have. Give yourself an enjoyable fifteen minutes a day on your FB visiting friends.

Briefly, I want to share the one thing I’ve learned of value from Twitter. There is a lot of information being passed around on twitter in the form of “how-to’s”. Check out what interests you. If you find something you like or have found very informative, retweet it. You can scroll over the top right hand corner of a tweet and see your options appear.

Control your social media so that it doesn’t control you. Enjoy getting to know others in shared business or interests. Have fun and be careful. Navigating the internet is like walking down the street. For your own safety you need to know what’s going on around you.

The Montgomery County Book Festival

Nora bought all of her friends and family books at the festival.
Nora bought all of her friends and family books at the festival.

It was refreshing to be involved with a group of enthusiastic and happy authors yesterday at the Montgomery County Book Festival at the Lone Star College. The best thing of all was that there were a lot of kids who were very interested in books, and in authors.

My fellow Houston Writer’s Guild members were delighted to find that we attracted a lot of teens to our table. Many of them bought our books. How lovely to see such enthusiasm from the kids and their parents.