I enjoy celebrating Canada Day as it is my new homeland. We are lucky to have a deck overlooking part of the parade route so can sit in comfort and watch it drive past. Canada is a young country, becoming the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867. This is in direct contrast to my former homeland, Britain which was founded a lot earlier.
United Kingdom = England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Kingdom of England was founded in 927 AD and The Kingdom of Wales was founded in 1283. They joined together in 1536 so Britain was founded in 1536. The Kingdom of Scotland was founded in 843 AD.
I do miss the history and pageantry as well as the ancient sites, historical houses and castles but have been fortunate to have traveled quite a lot of the province’s of Alberta and British Columbia by way of road trips. When I first came to Canada, I had no real sense of the vastness of the continent until someone showed me this view of the whole of Britain easily fitting into Alberta. This is just one province of ten!
I have seen wildlife and plants I would never have observed, spectacular scenery and many objects purportedly to be the largest! Here are some of them.
I also ‘discovered’ a passion for writing in Canada, which may never have been part of my life elsewhere. It was a happy accident walking into that first sharing meeting of the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County in 2009. Not only do I have something that interests and absorbs me but it has also given me some incredible friendships. I am making up for ‘lost’ time publishing (to date) seven books, with several in the pipeline but it is the process of creating that engages me and having the opportunity to share my stories.
Here’s to many more years discovering this country, writing stories and enjoying family and friends.
I have two nieces that live in two different states and created my adventure loving main character to stay in contact with them. It started as a poem and I later developed that into my story.
How did you come up with the title?
Because my character loves traveling and adventures the title seemed natural.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
My purpose for this first book is to normalize disability for children. I use simple concepts like dancing on feet or wheels and singing out loud or signing with happy hands to accomplish this. I am a disability advocate and saw this as a way to connect my message with children.
How much of the book is realistic?
Other than disability being a normal part of life, the rest is a complete work of fantasy fiction.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Close friends call me Jellibean because they can see how much of myself I put into that character. She is positive, upbeat, and always ready to make a friend and learn something new.
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
Oh yes! I have completed four Princess Jellibean books that are under publishing contract. The second is currently being illustrated. I have plans to write this series indefinitely and have a list of things I want my character to encounter including traveling around the world and experiencing other cultures.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
Princess Jellibean is definitely my favorite. I love her wide-eyed wonder and insatiable curiosity.
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
I love writing fiction because it allows me to create something that didn’t exist before. I started with poetry and have written that since I was 10 years old. I do want to try to write some self help in the future since I have several ideas in mind.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
I am a mix of both. For some stories I like to plot out what I want to happen and for others I just let the story flow. I just finished writing a bed time story that I had so much fun with because it just poured out.
What is your best marketing tip?
Find ways to connect with your readers and know your audience. My audience is children, so I think of things that they would connect with and have colorful, plastic cat ear headbands to hand out when they purchase a book. I also make necklaces that feature images of my main character they can purchase separately.
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
Social medical is a brilliant tool when leveraged correctly and often. You can build a fan base this way when you put in the effort and time.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
It allows me to express myself and provides a creative outlet which recharges my batteries.
What age did you start writing stories/poems?
I wrote my first poem at 10 years old.
Has your genre changed or stayed the same?
No, I thought I would always write only poetry and could not have fathomed becoming a children’s book author.
What genre are you currently reading?
I have been reading self help type books for creatives.
Do you read for pleasure or research or both?
Both! I love to read for fun and I love to dig into a topic that intrigues me.
Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
My husband, Glenn, is my muse and biggest supporter. Behind him is my parents and his mother.
Where is your favorite writing space?
Right now, I write wherever I can since I don’t have a desk. We are currently planning to convert our unused dining room into a creative writing space.
Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?
Yes, I belong to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and just applied to be a member of the Cat Writers Association.
If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?
Elizabeth Gilbert. Her book Big Magic is full of such wonderful sage advice about being fearlessly creative.
Do you see writing as a career?
I see writing as being my next level. I call it my retirement plan.
Cindi Handley Goodeaux is a Florida resident who lives with her husband and muse. She is a proud mom, graphic designer wannabe, rescue dog lover, and a sometime poet. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
What inspired your latest novel? – I have written a trilogy and two children’s books. My trilogy, Merryweather Lodge, was inspired by my own experiences in a remote and mysterious little cottage near Stonehenge. This cottage was called Scotland Lodge and belonged to my aunt and uncle. We would spend our summer holidays there when I was a child. It was my fairy tale kingdom but it had a sinister twist. The memories of my summers at Scotland Lodge stayed with me, as a sort of nagging unsolved mystery all my life. A few years ago I revisited my childhood wonderland and was led to concocting this story and writing this trilogy. This wonderland and my childhood fantasies were the catalyst for my writing career and the inspiration for my trilogy. My published children’s book, Melanie Gets A Nanny, comes from my experiences as a professional Nanny. My soon-to-be published, children’s book, Carly’s Incredible Dream, comes from my childhood fantasies.
How did you come up with the title? The real name of the cottage in my trilogy was Scotland Lodge. I didn’t want to use that name so I changed it to Merryweather Lodge. I thought it sounded cozy and quaint and a tad mysterious.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? My protagonist, Emily Fletcher, has a message. She is an attractive, strong-willed young woman, who struggles with her self-image, volatile temper and bad habits. She’s a vegetarian and a progressive thinker. Like me, she likes her own space and often wanders into the country to ponder and seek solace from Mother Nature. She has always dreamt of living a simple life, in her aunts enchanting little cottage, with her gorgeous prince charming. Slowly, she learns how to conquer her fears, get in touch with her intuition, overcome her struggles, tame her temper and enhance her self-esteem.
How much of the book is realistic? My books are fiction, with an element of truth.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life? My characters are bits and pieces of the personalities and characteristics of myself, friends, relatives, acquaintances, the woman behind the counter, etc. And yes, they are based on events in my own life.
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog? I do not have a blog anymore. Here is my website paulineholyoak.com You will find links to my social media sites on there.
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a standalone? I am working on a standalone, paranormal, suspense novel. And, I have a middle grade book, Carly’s Incredible Dream, due to be released this spring.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why? My reader’s favorite Merryweather Lodge character was my protagonist’s aunt, Auntie Em. She was, not only in her appearance but in her personality and idiosyncrasies, a mixture of my mother and grandmother. All their good parts blended into one.
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one? Actually, I write in a lot of different genres. My short stories range from, political lit to romance. My trilogy is paranormal suspense. I am now in the process of writing a paranormal romance. My children’s books cover a wide range of genres.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer? Seat of the pants, for sure.
What is your best marketing tip? Keep a consistent online presence. And, hand out as many bookmarks, promo cards etc. as you can afford.
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance? I think the internet, is the most powerful tool an author has. There are literally hundreds of sites that will promote ones book, some are free and some are very costly. I blog, tweet, do online interviews, reviews, facebook and try to keep a consistent online presence. It can be extremely time consuming but I know it’s an important element in establishing my writing career.
What age did you start writing stories/poems? As far back as I can remember the pen and paper have been my faithful companions and story telling my forte. As a child I was shy and reclusive. I lived in my inner world of fantasy and make-believe, preferring the company of Mother Nature and my imaginary friend, than that of other children. Often, I would sneak away from the mundane adult world, find a private retreat (usually behind the garden shed) and imagine. There in my own little sanctuary with tools in hand, I’d conjure up all kinds of intriguing tales and colorful characters, then I’d read them to my imaginary friend. She was always ‘so’ attentive. LOL
Has your genre changed or stayed the same? I have always like to cover a wide range of genres.
What genre are you currently reading? Suspense.
Do you read for pleasure or research or both? Pleasure.
Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager? My muse.
Where is your favorite writing space? My office. It is my private domain, my retreat, with my favorite quotes, family pics and art work, created by my granddaughters, on the walls. No one is allowed in there but me! LOL
Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one? No, but I’m thinking of starting one.
If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why? Probably Steven King. I love his books and he always has such great advice. There are so many…
If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be? I would love to live part of the year in England. I was born and grew up there. I adore the English countryside. It is a smorgasbord for the artistically inclined.. I would have moved back there years ago, if it weren’t for my children and now, grandchildren.
Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food? Oh yes. Dark chocolate and red wine. Yummy!!!
What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline? Dark chocolate and red wine..LOL
About me – I grew in Southeast England, in a coal mining village lovingly nicknamed, “The place that time forgot.” Go to my website, click on ‘Articles’ and find out why. I immigrated to Canada when I was 21 in search of adventure and a new life. I currently live in Alberta with my adorable sheltie dog. I am the proud mother of two grown children and three adorable granddaughters’.
As far back as I can remember the pen and paper have been my faithful companions and story telling my forte. As a child I was shy and reclusive. I lived in my inner world of fantasy and make-believe, preferring the company of Mother Nature and my imaginary friend, than that of other children. Often, I would sneak away from the mundane adult world, find a private retreat (usually behind the garden shed) and imagine. There in my own little sanctuary with tools in hand, I’d conjure up all kinds of intriguing tales and colorful characters, then I’d read them to my imaginary friend. She was always ‘so’ attentive. I remember writing a story in school; I must have been about 8 years old, at the time. It was about a rabbit and a hare, cousins I think, running away from home and getting into all kinds of mischief. I still remember my teacher’s reaction after she read it. She looked at me with a stern faced and asked, “Did you copy this?” “No, Miss Finn, I pleaded, “It just, came right out of my head.” “Hmmmm” she scoffed suspiciously. I was devastated but it never stopped me, I kept writing whatever, just, came out of my head. In my teen years my journal became my confident, revealing all my hidden secrets, private fantasies and wild, wild, notions within its pages. Later I started to write poems, articles and short stories, and pondered the thought of becoming a writer.
After I settled in Canada, I buried my dreams under layers of real life clutter. I chose a safe and practical career in child care, married and raised a family. But my creative spirit kept trying to dig its way out. I was asked to write articles and editorials for our local church. I taught a story time class at our local school, which lead me to writing a children’s book. I wrote an article about my husbands’ prestigious grandfather and sent it to our local newspaper. They printed it. I kept sending them articles, they kept printing them. I was surprised at the compliments I received from the editor and readers. It was evident to me then, that I had excavated my creative spirit.
I decided to take a comprehensive writing course to improve my technique. With help from a proficient and supportive tutor, who told me I had a gift, I began to cultivate my skill. My articles started to sell and I received an assignment from a major Canadian magazine. I have spent the past 25 years writing, articles, short stories and books.
About my trilogy – Merryweather Lodge, was inspired by my own experiences in a remote and mysterious little cottage near Stonehenge. This cottage was called Scotland Lodge and belonged to my aunt and uncle. We would spend our summer holidays there when I was a child. It was my fairytale kingdom but it had a sinister twist. The memories of my summers at Scotland Lodge stayed with me, as a sort of nagging unsolved mystery all my life. A few years ago I revisited my childhood wonderland and was led to concocting this story and writing this trilogy. This wonderland and my childhood fantasies were the catalyst for my writing career and the inspiration for my trilogy.
The first book in my Merryweather Lodge trilogy Merryweather Lodge – Ancient Revenge, was the Readers Favorite 2011 Silver Award Winner for paranormal fiction. Book two, Merryweather Lodge – Malevolent Spirit, was a Readers Favorite finalist. My first children’s book, Melanie Gets A Nanny, is about a strong willed young girl with a wild and wacky imagination. It is published by, Wee Creek Press. I have just sighed a publishing contract for my second children’s book, Carly’s Incredible Dream.. Yay! Twenty five of my articles have been published.
I am sharing lists of Christmas themed books as it is always the best way to enjoy the season of cold and snow. A warm fire, the twinkling lights on the Christmas tree and a cozy blanket and cup of chocolate.
Writing is one activity which energizes me. The process of creating characters and the stories in which they interact is an exercise for my imagination.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Editing is my Kryptonite because as much as I want to start reviewing the characters motivations and the grammar, giving in to the urge in the early stages of my writing process stifles the creativity and overall potential of the final product.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Yes I have considered writing under a pseudonym but as I write in the YA and nonfiction genres, I didn’t feel a need to have distance or different identity, or anonymity associated between myself and my work.
Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
As I experience a disability, it was important that my books always have a character experiencing a disability in them. The disabled characters can be secondary characters but must not represent incorrect disability beliefs and stereotypes.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
The best money I have spent as a writer has been for any books or classes in which have helped me to build my writer’s skill toolkit. There are so many facets to the success of creating and marketing as a writer, that any money spent learning is returned with each completed project.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I currently have one book in which I’m finish the third draft, two which are finished the first draft, one children’s picture book and one YA sequel which are waiting to be written.
What does literary success look like to you?
Literary success for myself is when I receive reader feedback about how my books have affected them. While it would be wonderful to be on bestseller lists and be financially sustained from writing only, realistically if I have enough success to continue to write and publish books which find audiences, that is success to me.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Research is a part of the writing process which I complete at the beginning, during and also when my manuscript is completed. In order to build realistic characters and circumstances in which they negotiate, it is important for me to construct a realistic world. That said, I am working on a science fiction book right now and so while the characters are moving around in the real world, human anatomy, ethics, energy and time are areas which need exploring. As much of the one character comes from the future and the mission needed to be completed to save humanity from their own extinction, as much as I can base the fictitious elements from reality should help build legitimacy for my readers.
How many hours a day/week do you write?
The time I spend greatly varies but I am for an hour and a half a week editing and three hours writing or working on activities to grow the manuscript content.
How do you select the names of your characters?
Sometimes I will hear a name that I really like but usually I look on baby name websites for the names and origins to see if they fit with my characters.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
The genres in which I write are Young Adult, Memoir, and Plays. Usually my writing projects become the one in which draws me to write. I chose YA because I wanted to write the books I was searching for when I was the age of the audience. Memoir was because I had read several and found I had something I wanted to share that was the truth as I remember it. Plays are because I love theatre and found limited opportunities for persons experiencing a disability to act or have a voice in the theatre community. When in the creation process, the genre in which the story can best be told balances which area I write and work in. As for balance, the project which I am most eager and energized to write is the one I select.
How long have you been writing?
I started writing poetry, lyrics and screen plays when I was in my teens. Writing manuscripts with the intention of publishing has been only in the past few years. I still consider myself as an emerging writer as I fell there is so much for me learning to be a lifelong experience.
What inspires you?
Life is my inspiration. Sounds weird but being in the world and interacting with people provides me sparks of interest which act as a jumping board for creation of my stories and characters.
How do you find or make time to write? Just like with most activities, I have to schedule in the time to write to ensure that there is a space and time where I’m able to do so.
What projects are you working on at the present?
In the draft stages of my sci-fi book.
What do your plans for future projects include?
My future plans include brainstorming and writing the next children’s picture book in my friends and family series.
Alison Neuman lives in Alberta, Canada, where she works as a freelance writer. Her debut novel Ice Rose: A Young Adult Spy Novel, a YA book integrating her love of gadgetry with the broad imaginative license afforded by the secret agent genre, features a female protagonist in a wheelchair and was published in 2010 by Fireside Publications.
Alison’s work has appeared in MacEwan Today,Westword, and the EdmontonJournal, and on three tracks of the CD release, Outside the Window.
Alison was honoured in 2011 for her human rights work in advocating for the rights of persons experiencing disabilities and in 2013 she won the Glenrose Courage Award. One of her greatest achievements was the founding of Camp Mission Access, an integrative camp for children from all walks of life—both with and without disabilities. Her memoir, Searching for Normal, was released in 2013, and a musical of the same debuted in the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival in 2014. Don’t Eat Family and Help From Friends, in her children’s Friends and Family series were published through Dream Write Publications.
Her play, The Sunset Syndrome was selected for Walterdale Theatre’s 2016 “From Cradle to Stage New Works Festival” and produced in the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival in 2017. Don’t Eat Family and Help From Friends, in her children’s Friends and Family series were published through Dream Write Publishing.
Alison is currently working towards her Master of Arts in Integrated Studies through Athabasca University.