My Newest Book!

It’s out! Bad Blood of Rosewood, my newest book. I’m doing the happy dance!!

badbloodThe Rosewood series is now complete… or is it? Never say never, right? I may write more about the Thorns and Gloria Larson in the small town of Rosewood. I have quite a cast of characters just hanging out, waiting for me to put them in motion. Ronnie, Doug, Hank, Betty, Josie, Tanya and Debbie. Don’t forget Officer Connors and all the guys at the Old Man Table at the Last Stop Diner. And you know how it is. Small towns have characters around every corner. I’m guessing at some point in the future something mysterious is bound to happen.

Until then, I have written six books for you to read. You can find all of my books on my book table here on this website, or on Amazon.

And if you haven’t read the entire series yet, Please start with Thorns of Rosewood, then read Flames of Rosewood, and finally, Bad Blood of Rosewood

Just a note. I sell exclusively on Amazon for Kindle e-readers and print books. If you own a Nook or other reading device, this may irritate you! I understand. But, over the years since I’ve started selling books, I’ve found by being a Kindle Select author, I sell exponentially more books via Amazon than I do any other channel. To be a Select author on Amazon, I must enter a contract agreeing to only sell through Amazon. Now, of course, I’d like all readers to enjoy my books on their Nooks or Kindles, but earning a living is important, too. (Certainly, my husband thinks so!) So, until I become rich and famous, I’m going to use this tool available to me as an Indie Author so I can get my product out to as many readers all over the world as possible.

Having said that, there are apps you can download for your computers or Androids to read Kindle books. Here is the download, and it’s free. Kindle App

All of the highlighted words, as well as the picture of my book, will take you directly to Amazon to purchase the books, or download the App.

Please share this blog post on your social media, or forward it to your reading friends!

An Interview With Charissa Stastny

cover-between-hope-and-the-highwayAuthor Charissa Stastny has a new book. I’ve read it and can tell you that even though I’m not a romance reader, this one entertained the likes of even this cynic. Between Hope & the Highway is a delightful read with great, unique characters. I’m a fan of Charissa’s writing and Between Hope & the Highway did not disappoint. Today I’m asking her a few questions so you can get to know this joyful and fun-loving author.

Charissa, how did you get started as an author?

C: I’d always wanted to write a book, but never seemed to have time between being a mother, a caregiver, and then a preschool and art teacher. As my children matured, I suddenly found myself spending lots of time waiting for them at sports practices. That’s when I started bringing notebooks and hashing out a story (which ended up being my Bending Willow Trilogy). That hooked me on the writing process…and now I don’t want to stop.

Most writers are readers. What are some of your favorite books?

C: I love The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, any of the Harry Potter books, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, and anything by C.S. Lewis. Contemporary romance authors I can’t get enough of are Jennifer Peel, Taylor Dean, and Amy Harmon. I can reread their stories and not tire of them.

What suggestions would you give a potential author to help them become a better writer?

C: There are so many great writing books out there. Read as many of them as you can, and apply new techniques as you learn them. Go to a writing conference each year if you can, and learn how to plot. I’ve done the pantser method for my first three books, and it’s fun…but very inefficient. Story Engineering by Larry Brooks has been the most helpful writing book I’ve found for me.

Who is your favorite author and why?

C: Probably C.S. Lewis. His words are amazing; his thoughts so clear and inspiring. Everything he wrote deserves a place on my shelf and his quotes on my fridge.

author-photoAny special talents?

C: I’m not super good at any one thing, but am proficient at lots of stuff. I’ve tried my hand at painting, crafting, photography, piano, organ, teaching, crocheting, gardening, scrapbooking, basketball, mountain biking, triathlon, and now writing.

If you could have lunch with any character from a book (other than your own), who would it be, where would you eat, and what would you discuss?

C: I would dine with Dumbledore from Harry Potter. We’d eat sushi at Sakana’s (my favorite eating joint) and talk about anything he liked. Seriously, I can’t even think of a good enough question to ask the most powerful wizard ever. If he wanted to discuss Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans…then so be it.

Tell us a little about your family.

C: My husband and I are high school sweethearts and married after his mission. We have four children—3 daughters (one married who is an interior designer/architect, one who served a mission in S. Korea and is now in school for dental hygiene, and one who’s leaving on a mission to Armenia/Georgia and speaking Georgian for the next year and a half before studying to become a P.A.) and one incredible son in high school. We love being together and our favorite activities include biking, hiking, camping, and going to Disneyland.

What got you started on your writing journey?

C: I’ve dabbled with writing since I was a kid. I loved reading clean romance as a teen and wrote many cheesy scenes between handsome cowboys and milkmaids in my journal. The world will NEVER see these! They are cheesier than a Walmart tuxedo.

Do you have a favorite comment or question from a reader?

C: After my husband read my first book, he commented, “It would have been better with a zombie in it.” Since then, the Search and Find feature on Word has become my best friend. I always use it before I send out drafts to readers, because unfortunately, my husband is skilled at sneaking zombies into files. There is nothing worse than when the masculine hunk in my story tells the girl of his dreams that ‘he wants to eat her brains.’ Ugh!

How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?

C: Quite a lot. There is always one character I identify with—usually the shy, awkward one with a good heart who doesn’t know how to accessorize. My cool characters are my dreams of how I wish I could be. It’s fun as a writer to live vicariously through our characters.

Do you have a favorite character?

C: I love Suvi and wish I could meet her in real life. Austan’s pretty cool too (he’s a hoot to write), but I don’t know if I’d be brave or confident enough to meet him in person. I wouldn’t be able to come up with witty comebacks fast enough. Bentley is the cutest character I write (he’s 13) and I love him to pieces.

What does your family think about your writing?

C: They think I’m crazy to sit and play with imaginary characters all day. And I am! My 2nd daughter laughed hysterically when she read my early draft of Eyes of Light. She highlighted sections and wrote: “Cheesy! Please Mom, don’t ever publish this. I will be embarrassed for you!” My husband also gave me advice: “Before you publish, you might want to do a search for the word ZOMBIE.” Their tips saved me. Also, my oldest daughter designs my covers and keeps me looking presentable.

If you were stranded on a deserted tropical island with one of your characters, who would you choose and why?

C: Since I can’t build a fire or catch fish, I’d need someone who could be responsible and take care of me. In my mind, that would be James Hinton (from the Bending Willow Trilogy). I imagine he was a Boy Scout when he was young, so he’s very handy, self-reliant, kind, creative, and honorable. I’d feel safe with him.

What kind of trials do your main characters in your newest book have to endure?

C: Liz’s hen-pecking mother has always belittled her because her dreams didn’t align with hers. This has caused internal strife with regards to her self-esteem that she has to overcome (once she realizes it’s there). Liz has also just lost her fiancé in a terrible automobile accident. That’s why she leaves home to escape painful memories. Rawson and Bentley Law are dealing with survivor’s guilt from an accident they were involved in five years ago as well. They each have secrets that have the power to destroy their present happiness.

Why should we read your books?

C: Two reasons: 1) there is a powerful message of forgiveness and redemption woven into the pages that will make you appreciate life more fully, and 2) the characters are witty, vulnerable, charming, and just plain awesome! If you’re like me, you will fall in love with them.

What is one silly fact about you?

C: I can do a ‘mean’ monkey imitation. When I did this at Biblical zoo in Jerusalem, the monkeys spit at me though. I don’t know what that means.

If you could have plastic surgery, what would you change?

C: Nothing. I think wrinkles are earned and are a sign of wisdom. I’ve worked and lived too hard to let some doctor take that away from me.

Now that you know her a little better, I hope you’ll follow her on her website: http://www.charissastastny.com/

I also hope you’ll buy her book, Between Hope & the Highway. You can find all of Charissa’s books at:

https://www.amazon.com/Charissa-Stastny/e/B00847JD1I/

 

ARE YOU ADVENTUROUS?

 

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I am an advocate of Mom & Pop Shops. Small business. Joe’s Shoe Repair. Sally’s Nail Haven. Johnson Jewelers. They keep a town alive, give it charm, provide essential needs.

But wait… big businesses provide needs. Walmart. Target. Arby’s. Menards. Costco.

Why support small businesses? Why care about mom and pop and their little old shop? Let’s use restaurants as an example. Think about chain restaurants like TGI Fridays, Applebee’s, Chili’s, Olive Garden, etc. I know exactly what I’m going to have when I go there. It’s almost like home cooking in that I know what it will taste like, and I crave the flavors. Chain sit-down style restaurants provide a nice meal and familiar food. People like familiarity. We’re not always up for an adventure.

But, if we are looking for an adventure, and want to try something new or cultural to an area, it’s fun to check out little family owned restaurants. The local bar and grills, diners, bakeries, and steak houses. This is where you get a real feel for the locals. And more fun yet is, when you find great food at a little eatery, you then get to tell people about it like it’s your own personal discovery. You sort of claim it… own it in a sense. You bring your friends from out-of-town. You say, “I know about this little off the map place!”

Now let’s compare this idea to books.

There are big name authors who write under traditional publishing labels. These publishing houses have big marketing capabilities, just like the Applebee’s or Cheesecake Factory Restaurants. They have market research professionals who can say, “No… people don’t want to read about vampires anymore.” Kind of like Applebee’s chain restaurants follow the trends and provide health conscious meals on their menus now. The marketing experts ask the question, “What do the people want?” The answer they give is, “Whatever it is, let’s give it to them so we can make money.”

But does everyone really want the same thing? Don’t we appreciate innovative new business? We like authenticity, don’t we? We applaud creativity, right? After all, before KFC was a chain of restaurants across the globe, it was first an old dude with a good chicken recipe. First, McDonald’s had one store. These places were all originally Mom & Pop Shops. They didn’t start out with big marketing divisions behind them. They just started out with a passion to do something they loved.

I can walk through the art section of every Hobby Lobby or Home Goods and find very similar paintings for sale at affordable prices. Splashy floral scenes, or cityscapes, images of Paris life. And they usually have a few of each kind, so you know… at least a few other people will have the same picture on their walls, too. That’s safe, right? Everyone likes that picture, that’s why they sell so many. It must be acceptable. It must be cool. The cool kids are always who we want to follow. We’ll all just do what they do, and that will make us cool, too.

Right? Scratches head. Wait a minute. Is that right? Do we really just want to mimic what’s trending? Apparently so, for a great many, or we wouldn’t have Hobby Lobby with shelves and shelves of look-alike art and decor items. We wouldn’t have chain eateries so we could make sure we were going to the same place everyone else likes.

But truthfully, I’ve never been cool. I love to see people out there just doing their own thing. I’ve been a lemming most of my life. Following everyone else, trying not to step too far out of boundaries, but deep inside, I really want to get a tattoo, color my hair hot pink and wear crazy fashions. I’ve just never had the guts. But when I see that person, I think, wow… that’s confidence.

Back to books. So yeah, we have the big publishers and big names and that’s cool. It really is. Agents and editors and marketers all wave the big flags and the fans come running. But then there are us little Indie Authors. I suppose the arguments could be the same as restaurants. There will always be those who prefer to eat somewhere that’s cool, proven, accepted; just like there will always be those who prefer to read whatever the literary powers that be tell them is good. No thinking involved. Set your free will aside, folks. THIS is what we are all gaga about this year. Whole towns read the same book. Whatever Oprah tells us. And no doubt! These will be good meals to feast on. (Some better than others, but probably all quite digestible.)

But then there are those of us who like to discover things on our own. We liked the B side of the album better than the hits. (remember records?) Not everyone knew how awesome those songs were. When you could find that other person who also loved the B side, then you knew you’d found someone else who didn’t necessarily follow the beaten path.

I think there are definitely people out there who enjoy discovering new authors. And with Indie’s, like diners, not every diner wants to become a national chain. Some just want to do what they love and make a living. I guess that’s the kind of Indie I am. I don’t need to have the whole world looking my direction and throwing money at me, but I’d like to make a decent living and I get closer to it every year.

So, I hope you’ll take a chance and adventure into Indie books. I’ll tell you right now that it’s just like with any new restaurant. There may be some places you like okay, some you won’t revisit, but maybe you’ll find that hidden gem. You’ll be like the Magellan of Indie books. A discoverer. And when you find it, spread the news. Help a Mom & Pop out. They’ll appreciate it.

Welcome to Catching

So, I’m writing a new book. The title is, Welcome to Catching. Maybe if I can get my act together, it will be done by the end of the year, and I’ll be ready to publish next spring. We’ll see. I’m not going to rush it.
Thanks to a workshop I took on how to structure a novel, I am writing this book differently than I have done in the past. My usual modus-operandi is what writers call “Pantsing.” Writing by the seat of your pants. Just let it rip. That’s kind of my general personality, so it’s really no wonder I lean that direction.
Some very fun things happen when you just write and let the characters go where they want to go and say what they want to say, but to make that work, I really need to get deep into the story and characters—absorb them and become them. So, yeah… that’s a little weird, right? But it is cool. Because people who are avid readers know they get lost in a really good book and even mourn when characters die or the story ends. It’s why some people love to read long-running series; the places and people can stay in their lives and the reader can live in that world.
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When structuring a novel, though, we look at things like plot points, midpoint, inciting incidents, points of no return, dark moments, and climax. We write the story to get to those places. And if a writer is really good (my constant goal) a writer does this at very specific points in the story. See the picture at the top of the page.
So, with this new book, I’ve plotted it out. I’ve created the three act structure and know what my first plot point is, where the midpoint is and what the second plot point is. I know what’s going to happen at the climax and how it will end. This is really kind of new for me. I visited with a book club last night and told them that when I wrote Thorns of Rosewood, I didn’t know the very ending until the fourth rewrite and about three chapters prior to writing the last chapter. I actually discover the story as I’m writing it.
So, we’ll see if this works, this organization thing. Hey, Aristotle invented it. It’s withstood the test of time. What’s not good about that, right?
Oh, what’s Welcome to Catching about? It’s about the relationship of a father and daughter, and their fight to save a small town that’s dying. Why is it dying? Because the town’s young people go off to college and then move away to live in bigger cities. A town needs young blood to keep it alive? And Catching is way past due for a meal.
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