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Creative Edge – Author Interview – Ann Charles

June 25, 2020
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Ann Charles 2017 Color Comp

  1. Why did you choose to write mysteries?

I enjoy the puzzle-like challenge that comes with writing a mystery. My stories are actually more character-driven than plot-driven, though, so as much as I enjoy the challenge of writing a mystery, I also have fun exploring character growth on the page.

  1. Is it a genre you enjoy reading as well?

Actually, I don’t read mysteries as much as I do other genres, such as westerns, supernatural suspense, and romance. That’s probably why my books are actually more mixed genre than straight mysteries. I like to include humor, supernatural elements, romance, suspense, and adventure on the page along with the mystery plot.

  1. What sparked your first book idea?

I was unhappy with the endings in several books I’d recently read and decided I wanted to try my hand at writing different endings that satisfied me more. This idea grew into me creating the story from start to end, which then blossomed into writing full-length novels. Novels soon changed into long-running series, and now I have five different series I juggle.

Devil Days Cover

  1. Do you prefer writing series or stand-a-lone novels? 

I like writing series because I enjoy developing characters. It’s more fulfilling to develop these characters over a long-running series than trying to fit it all into one story. My character arcs span the whole series, allowing them to grow and change with every book.

  1. Does your background and location help you capture a setting for your characters/settings? Or is it just imagination? 

I believe my background and the places I’ve lived/visited play a role in capturing a setting, but my imagination takes ideas to the next level. I have a series set here in Arizona where I live (Jackrabbit Junction Mystery series), and I have spent many summers and holidays in the Deadwood, South Dakota area because my mom moved there when I was in seventh grade. While my Dig Site series takes place in the Yucatan (an area of Mexico which I have not visited yet), that series plays on my dream of being an archaeologist, allowing me to explore that field without actually living down there under the trees.

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  1. What benefit do you feel comes with the illustrations? Why did you choose that format?

My brother is my illustrator, so I enjoy including his art in my stories. I think illustrations help bring the story to life even more for readers. In addition, these illustrations add to my Ann Charles author brand and help set my stories apart from others. Not many adult fiction novels have illustrations in them these days.

  1. Is Violet “Spooky” Parker based on someone real or a combination of characters?

Violet is a mixture of my imagination and my sense of humor. She isn’t based on anyone I know. Her character became clear to me after some time spent imagining her life and struggles as I worked on the setup for the first Deadwood novel, Nearly Departed in Deadwood.

  1. Did you plan your mystery/ humor/ romance subplot plot lines, or did it evolve as your crafted the stories?

I knew from the start of the Deadwood and Jackrabbit Junction Mystery series that I was going to write mixed genre stories with mystery as the main plot. I’ve always enjoyed funny romance stories and had worked for years on strengthening that part of my storytelling, studying humor and romance in books and practicing my ability to mix them together on the page. My favorite movies are mixed genre with these elements, so it’s not a surprise that these are the stories that come out on the page for me.

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  1. Was it a conscious decision to become an author?

Not really. I’ve always enjoyed reading books, but writing was not on my radar until my senior year in high school. Even then, though, I really didn’t plan on becoming an author and spent years in college studying Spanish and daydreaming of other careers. In the end, I took so many English classes in college that I figured I might as well minor in creative writing and see where this urge to tell stories led me.

  1. Do you feel self-publishing has benefited you more than other options?

Self-publishing has allowed me to explore story lines without an outside influence, as in a marketing department that might have forced me to write what was hot in the “market” at the time. Also, I have learned so much about marketing and promotion because I’ve been in charge of building my career. I did not set out to be an entrepreneur, but I enjoy most of the aspects of running my own business and plan to continue on this path for as long as I can.

  1. Which character do you enjoy writing the most & why?

That’s a tough question—I don’t think I have a single favorite. I enjoy switching between my different series and exploring different characters and their adventures. Violet Parker is fun because I get to dabble in the supernatural with her and she makes me laugh often. The Morgan sisters from my Jackrabbit Junction series are a blast and are always getting into mix-ups with the law. They allow me to explore sisterhood and have fun in the Arizona desert. In my Dig Site series, I enjoy playing archaeologist, and in the Deadwood Undertaker series that I write with my husband, Sam Lucky, I get to write westerns, which is something I have wanted to do for years but was apprehensive about all of the research it would take to make sure the historical elements were accurate. In the end, I like switching between each series and exploring life with different characters.

  1. Have any of your manuscripts gone in a vastly different direction to what you thought they would? 

I often vary from my original plot line ideas that I come up with before starting. These initial plot lines I put together just let me know that I have a story possibility and give me the confidence to go forth and dive into a story. I’m not very good at detailed planning when it comes to books and tend to give my brain the room to come up with new ideas to explore along the way.

  1. How can readers find you? What social media site links can you share?

Website: http://www.anncharles.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnCharlesAuthorPage

Twitter: https://twitter.com/annwcharles

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ann_charles

Snapchat: https://www.snapchat.com/add/annwcharles

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/AnnWCharles

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ann-charles

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4605878.Ann_Charles

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ann-Charles/e/B004JLYPFW

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/AnnCharlesAuthor

  1. Is there anything you would like to share with your readers?

My books are meant to give you a fun escape. I try to teach a little history along the way, but mainly I want to provide fictional places that will make you smile or laugh as well as wince now and then. Also, all but my AC Silly Circus series having crossover characters, which my readers tend to enjoy. It’s always fun to come across a Deadwood series character in my Jackrabbit Junction books, and vice versa. I have a list of my books in series reading order as well as an overall list of all of my books in timeline order on my website (under the Books section) so that you can choose in what order you’d like to read them.

Ann Charles Bio:

USA Today Bestselling author, Ann Charles, writes spicy mysteries full of comedy, adventure, suspense, romance, and paranormal mayhem. Ann has a B.A. in English with an emphasis on creative writing from the University of Washington and is a member of Sisters in Crime and Western Writers of America. When she’s not dabbling in fiction, she’s arm wrestling with her two kids, attempting to seduce her husband, and arguing with her sassy cats.

Creative Edge

 

 

Author Interview – Alison Neuman – Children’s Series – Book Launch

May 10, 2020
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Alison Neuman

 

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  1. Please tell us the story behind your new book, Home.

My new book is the bookend of the Friends and Family series about Fluffy the cat and Levi the mouse. This book in the series was more challenging to write than the others because the series was written for my mom, and she passed away two years ago. My mom was my hero, and my best friend. She always provided me with a sense of security and home. As a family, we shared a love of reading, and my mom made sure, whether I was staying in the hospital or at home, that the routine of reading to me before bed was a constant.

As an adult, my mom’s macular degeneration made reading a challenge so I would read out loud to her. Then as her dementia progressed, she found a renewed passion for children’s literature. This series was based on a childhood pet of my mom’s and has a diverse character, which I wish I had to identify with when I was a child. Despite dementia stealing my mom’s words, the smile on her face and her reaching out to grab and hold Don’t Eat Family communicated her love and appreciation.

Mom would’ve wanted me to finish the series despite the fact that during the writing process and now the launch of Home, she would not be here in person. My illustrator, Katherine Restouiex, who also knew my mom, made the human character a cartoon version of her. While writing this last book in the series, memories mom and I shared and the lessons that she taught me were reminders that she will always be with me.

  1. As the third in the series, does it complete the series?

Yes, Home completes the Friends and Family series.

  1. How did you come up with the idea for the series?

My inspiration for this series came from a childhood cat Mom had and the fact that cats and mice don’t usually get along. This series was an exploration into each character’s ability to make their own decisions based on who they want to be and not who they are told to be by society. I wanted my characters to travel through the world with kindness, respect, and a belief in the goodness of people.

  1. Can you tell us about the characters and how you created them?

The character of Fluffy is based on a grey Persian cat that my mom had as a child. The character Levi is based on some of the strong and independent individuals I have met who experience disability. Maybe even a little part of myself is in the character of Levi.

Dont Eat

  1. In Don’t Eat Family what is the message you wanted to convey?

The main messages that I was trying to convey in the book Don’t Eat Family were that, just like Fluffy and her decision to be friends with Levi versus be a mouser as some cats are, you could be who you are and not give in to peer pressure. Also, individuals experiencing a disability may experience challenges but have other abilities and should not be judged by the way they get around in the world.

help

  1. In Help from Friends do the characters follow on from the first book?

Yes, the characters in Friends and Family continue along the journey to find their way home, a journey that started in the first book.

  1. Did you start out planning a series, or did the story and characters dictate more stories?

No, I didn’t start outlining a series, but the characters and the story dictated more books because their adventures required more pages than I wanted to squeeze into one book.

  1. Tell us about your writing life – what other books/plays have you written?

I have written the following

Books:

Ice Rose – A young Adult Spy Novel

Searching for Normal: A Memoir

Don’t Eat Family

On Ne Manage Pas La Famille

Help From Friends

Home

Plays:

Searching

The Sunset Syndrome

In Progress:

Book – Hindsight

  1. Do you only write fiction?

No, I also write creative nonfiction.

Alison’s website:

http://www.alisonneuman.ca/?fbclid=IwAR2_bjRPr3grdeLMeyR6Jv1JjZE0bLKB6nq7X0mOralPynATNr43q-M1YGo

Dream Write Publishing

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Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Learning a New Writing Skill – Screenwriting

March 12, 2020
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I attended an event on 7th March by GIFT (Girls in Film & Television) in conjunction with the EPL Library WIR Susie Moloney. This is an avenue of writing I want to explore, learn and master. After all every fiction author wants to see their story on the big screen.

gift

The workshop focused on secrets of the golden rules of screenwriting, and the short film format. The presentation gave us information on how to write full and dynamic characters, how to structure a story, and how to format a script like a pro. Our host was Jana O’Connor, who instructs within Alberta schools for GIFT, 5 day workshops to teach young girls/women the world for film.

The intricacies of the production of a movie (or play) are a world away from the writing of a novel. There are 5 Golden Rules:

  1. Theme
  2. Character
  3. Plot
  4. Dialogue
  5. Rule of Three

It may seem similar to the construct of a novel, however, the differences are in the format of the script. Although, it details such things as location and character name, it also includes parenthesis (a word, clause, or sentence inserted as an explanation or afterthought into a passage that is grammatically complete without it, in writing usually marked off by curved brackets, dashes, or commas.) These are clues to what day of day the scene takes place, any significant objects, if the actor needs to use a specific emphasis on how they say the line, such as sarcastically or frightened etc.

For example: 

Intro:    Interior of a log cabin, night time

Name:  Character’s name in capitals – Malcolm

Parenthetical:  fearful

Dialogue:  

Each page represents 60 seconds of film so the scene and dialogue has to be concise – remember the viewer is seeing a lot of the things as a novelist we have to explain and include. 

Take a scene from your novel and rewrite it as a movie scene – how much did you delete?

Resources given at the workshop were:

GIFT  (Girls in Film & Television)

WIFTA (Women in Film & Television, Alberta)

No Film School https://nofilmschool.com/

YEG Film on Facebook

Celtx Script Writing  https://www.celtx.com/index.html

And there are a lot of screen writing podcasts and videos on the web!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating A Decade of Writing

December 12, 2019
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This year I celebrate a decade of writing. It was not something my creative brain discovered until I came to Canada. Throughout my younger life art was my main creative outlet, whether it was painting, collage, pottery, sculpture, textiles, knitting, sewing, and many more. I would spend my lunch hours in the art room at school rather than in the playground, it was my happy place. From creating abstract art in a multiple of mediums to utilizing fabric remnants found at Liberty’s of London for summer tops, I indulged my creativity. 

This changed as I began adult life and my creative outlets ceased as I entered the workforce and socialized with my peers and then had children. I dappled in rug design without success and although I was gifted an easel one Christmas and attended an art class for a short time, I just didn’t have the time or motivation. It was only when I came to Canada and there was an opportunity to find a creative outlet that I made the decision to find one. I stumbled across the writing group, The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County (https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/ ) by pure chance on a trip to the local library and decided to attend a meeting. From that point on I found my ‘place’ and began to learn a new skill, one which has given me not just a group of firm and supportive friends but also allowed me to discover my new country, as well as attend numerous events and a connection to many other writers from home and further afield.

I blogged about my first writing experience here: https://mandyevebarnett.com/2010/08/17/discovering-a-passion/

Now I have eight published books and three work in progress manuscripts (and numerous ideas filed) and there is no slow down in sight for my writing passion. It has gripped me and I am so happy I ‘found’ my creative life again.

Not only have I written novels but also participated in National Novel Writing Month a total of ten times, attended numerous writing retreats and workshops, presented at workshops, started a freelance writing business (https://tailoredthemedtosuit.wordpress.com/ ) and became Secretary to my writers group. I am truly immersed in the writing life and am so glad I braved that first writing group meeting.

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Why not share your writing life experience?

Photographer & Writer Interview – Janice Meyer Foreman

December 3, 2019
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  1. What inspired your latest book? 

Walking the Camino to Santiago de Compostela, twice, once in the autumn, again a few years later in the spring, and I wanted to share the beauty.        

2. How did you come up with the title? 

A Photographer Walks the Camino to Santiago de Compostela, I wanted people to understand that this was a visual journey along the Camino route.

3. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?  

For those who have walked the Camino the book would serve as a reminder, for those planning their journey it would serve as an inspiration, and for many who cannot make the journey the book will be their virtual journey.

4. How much of the book is realistic? 

The Camino I walked is the same one walked by hundreds of thousands every year, each of us have our own walk, we have our own journey, affected by our senses and sensibilities. Each walk during different seasons, different weather and even different times of days, each see and experiences, and stay in different places, travel with different people. But we all travel the same road, and the images and stories are realistic. 

5. Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog? www.jmeyersforeman.com  https://www.instagram.com/jmeyersforeman/  https://twitter.com/meyersforeman

6. Do you have plans or ideas for another book?

I have no other plans for another book at this time, we do want to walk another Camino to Santiago de Compostela, so another book is possible.

Camino Book draft Nov 19, 2019 Cover

Please note this book is still in the process of being published. Links will be added at a later date.

7. What is your best marketing tip? 

I’m new to marketing, so far, marketing has been about the photographs, as individual images, just recently I have started to work towards putting the images together as a series.

8. Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance? 

For me social media has been tool to share and sell my photography, and sharing stories with family and friends, only recently have I started to make an effort to expand my social media reach, to make connections with others who.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS

9. What do you enjoy most about writing?

 Writing has been a wonderful challenge, and it has been helpful in developing stories related to my travels.

10. What age did you start photography/writing? 

I learned about photography, early in life, while in school, while I was traveling I started to write a blog, much before the days of Instagram, to share my photography and tell my travel stories, much later in life.

11. What genre are you currently reading? 

I read fiction, at this time I have been reading World War ll fiction with women at the center of the story.

12. Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

I read for both pleasure and for research. Prior to my first Camino I read a lot about the history and architecture of the pilgrimage, and several autobiographical stories. I enjoy reading fiction with strong female characters.

13. Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?

My husband is my biggest supporter, my sister-in-law has been helping with proof-reading, and several good friends have been very encouraging.

14. Where is your favorite creative space?

I work at my desk, processing images with the computer. I also have a laptop and can work from anywhere, I write wherever I can find a quiet space, but my favourite space is early in the morning, in bed, with a cup of coffee, before the day has begun.

15. If you could meet one favorite photographer, who would it be and why?

David Duchemin, a strong photographer, who uses his writing to explore and expand his photography, he is a motivational writer, and his work has inspired me to better work, and better storytelling with my photography.

16. If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?

I love Calgary, this is my home, while I love to travel, and have a long list of places I want to spend a month or two, Calgary will always be my home.

17. How do you use writing?

Writing supplements my photography.

18. Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?

I don’t often nibble while I write, but I do love my tea, Cream of Earl Grey or Chai are favourites. 

19. What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline? 

Completion followed by a long walk is my great reward.

Bio:

Experience Photographer @ Jmeyersforeman Photography

I first learned the magic of photography while taking pictures for the high school yearbook, and developing images in the darkroom. Since then I have been commissioned for both personal and corporate projects include portraits, architecture, travel, and products.

Master Photographer International

In 2018 I applied for and was awarded a Master Photographer designation for my Travel images.

Alamy Stock Photography: Contributor since 2012

Exhibits

I was excited to have my image of “Getting Ready” exhibited in the world famous Calgary Exhibition Stampede Photo Gallery July 2017

Presentations:

Calgary Public Library – Camino slideshow and talk

Calgary Chapter of the Canadian Company of Pilgrim – Camino Slideshow and talk

Leadership

Camino 101, Leadership team, Calgary Chapter of the Canadian Company of Pilgrims.

Volunteer

Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, Western Living, Art Auction

Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, Western Photo Gallery Committees

Wellspring Calgary

Calgary Women’s Center

 

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