Celeste Barclay, a nom de plume, lives near the Southern California coast with her husband and sons. Growing up in the Midwest, Celeste enjoyed spending as much time in and on the water as she could. Now she lives near the beach. She’s an avid swimmer, a hopeful future surfer, and a former rower. When she’s not writing, she’s working or being a mom.
: A few years ago, I was recovering from surgery and found that I could only watch so much TV (Big Bang Theory was on at least four channels throughout the day). I returned to my passion for reading, but I wasn't feeling well enough for anything that required mental jumping jacks to follow. I hadn't read anything close to a romance in years, but I decided to give it a try. A few hundred romance books later (honestly), I decided to try my hand at writing my own book. I find it a creative release from the everyday hustle bustle of work and family.
: The first story that I remember writing was in first grade, Mrs. Smith's class, and the room moms came in to help us create our stories and then bound them in beautiful wallpaper. It was a story about a girl who stepped on an ant.
: I find myself most drawn to the Scottish Historical Romances (while I do still love a good Regency Romance). I could picture myself in each of these books. I can picture myself a little in my own novels. I wanted to write a story that included a strong sense of family and duty, along with compassion and fidelity. In His Highland Lass, the heroine, Mairghread Sinclair, has four older brothers. She is supposed to marry one man, the antagonist, but falls in love with the hero, Tristan Mackay. I wanted there to be a challenge and struggle to overcome before they got their happily ever after. In true romance style, there is a scorned lover and a jilted suitor.
: I first started writing when I was a child and enjoyed it. I was an avid reader, and so, I think writing came fairly naturally. I began writing His Highland Lass in July 2017 and wrote more than half in about two weeks. With children and work, the school year took much of my attention. In January 2018, I committed to picking up where I left off.
: I grew up in the Midwest, but my mother is English, and I was born overseas. With parents from Europe, we traveled to see family every summer. When in England, we visited medieval castles and various museums. I was enamored with British history and that grew to a general love of European history. I find that I enjoy historical romances because I can tap into my prior historical knowledge and imagine myself among all the things that fascinated me as a child.
: I write mostly in the evenings as that's when I have time. If I'm on vacation, then I write whenever I have a free moment. I carry a journal with me most of the time, so I can add scenes or make notes of ideas as they come.
: As of the end of July 2018, I am preparing to release the second installment of The Clan Sinclair. His Bonnie Highland Temptation is about Mairghread Sinclair's (from the first novel) oldest brother, Callum. Callum finds out that he is about to be betrothed with only a week's notice. Needless to say, he is not pleased with this unexpected news; however, he is somewhat awestruck when he meets his spunky soon-to-be betrothed. As with all good romances, it is a rocky rode their happily ever after. Jealousy, kidnapping, love, and loyalty, and above all else: family.
: When I'm not being writer-me, I am working in education. I am a mother to two boys and wife--that alone is a full time job. In my leisure time, I am reading (of course), doing yoga/pilates, going for walks, and trying to fit in a swim whenever I can.
: I find I am rather a character driven author. I have a plot diagram in my head and will map out the general direction of the story in parts. I then name my characters and develop their physical descriptions. I paint a picture in my head of what each character looks like and then try to get it into words. I consider the story in chunks and develop those further, adding them to the plot diagram. From there, I write. I write as it comes to me and follow the direction in which it takes me. I make notes for things to come back to or to insert. I reread and revise as I go, and then do at least two full printed out proofreads before I hand it off.
: Beyond romances, I still love historical fiction. I began enjoying Philippa Gregory before she was hugely known. I also love Dan Brown and his novels (including the non-Da Vinci Code and Robert Langdon series). I read through all of Jane Austen and the Brontes before I was done with middle school. I suppose that's why I also enjoy Regency romances.
: Currently, I work in public education and have for nearly 15 years. Before that, I was a coach, a personal trainer, a paralegal (in college). I've worked in sales and social media management. I suppose variety is the spice of life.
: My husband bought me an iPad I can't even remember how many years ago. I put a Lifeproof case on it and have been using it ever since. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. It's been reliably running the Kindle app for years now.
: I consider some of my favorite books and how they caught my eye. I have tried out a few different covers to see what gains the most traction. I have tried less traditional covers with just a couple on the front with a solid background. I now have a more traditional design that features Scottish plaid and the same couple with a nature background. I want a cover that fits with the conventions of its genre but still is unique.
: As I mentioned before in the writing process, I do have a plot diagram--sometimes it stays in my head quite a while before it makes it onto paper. Once I have the main events mapped out, then I let the characters drive the story and just let it flow.
: I find it cathartic to create an escape from everyday life. I enjoy spinning a tale that is fiction with just enough reality to make the reader feel like they can live the story themselves. Even if no one else were to read my work, just the time it takes to separate myself from my other responsibilities brings me joy, and it allows me a chance to have a creative outlet that I don't have anywhere else in my life.
: I maintain a blog that features posts about my experiences becoming an author along with information and snippets of my books. My novel(s) are also available through Amazon/Kindle. They are part of Kindle Unlimited.
: I appreciate reviews, all of them-- the good, bad, and even the ugly. I can only improve my craft and create stories that others will enjoy if I receive feedback. Please feel free to comment on my Amazon pages, my Goodreads page, or on my website.
Carla has been writing since she was eight – she writes contemporary fiction and loves to read both contemporary and period drama. Her hobbies are writing, reading, taking short breaks away and walking.
: I think Jane Austen - I loved reading her novels and when they were dramatized on the telly and I was able to absorb the characters - that motivated me to have a go myself.
: Oh yes! It featured my parents and we went on a trip to the moon!
: It's a gay novel and it essentially tells the story of a battle between head and heart; it's about being what you want to be and not what others want you to be and the consequences of your actions if you make the wrong decisions.
: When I was eight.
: I grew up in Norfolk and, I'll be brutally honest - it didn't, the influence comes from the books I've read.
: I like to try and do as much as possible so, when I've started a novel I'll work from late morning through till late afternoon/ early evening.
: I've just finished my latest novel, Trying To Connect You which is available to pre-order and will be coming out in August - it features around a wedding and it couldn't have come at a worse time for the two main characters... you'll have to read it to find out why though!
: I spend a lot of time on the internet just casually browsing and trying to promote my books!
: I have a little notebook that I use to jot down the plot which really helps and I just work from that.
: Penny Vincenzi was one of my favourites - I loved how complex and intricate her plots were with so many characters.
Jasper Barry's The Second Footman series has also become another favourite; a gay, love story in the nineteenth century I just warmed to the characters immediately.
: It's not a job but I do casual market research for some income. I've also done agency work in the past.
: My tablet.
: I use Canva.
: I jot down the plot first of all and then the characters follow afterwards - I then work on how they interact with each other.
: Just getting my ideas down on paper and being able to publish - it's great when you see your book available to buy.
of course, you could also read through my author’s page on Amazon. But here, they preferred to have some new content, not available on my author’s site. Let’s see what this leaves us with at the end, as writing should have a surprising note to be interesting. I live in Germany, near Munich. I have three children. With the oldest daughter, we were a patchwork family. I am in my mid-fifties. For many years, I worked and I still work in the IT field.
When I was in my mid-twenties, two trainers, at different times, recommended I turn professional in tennis, as I showed promising tendencies. I didn’t turn professional in the end (it is too long a story to spread here). The biggest problem was that I started playing when I was already over twenty. When I was hitting well, I wanted to know what exactly I was doing and what I was doing differently from when I was not hitting well. I also wanted to understand, how other good players hit the ball, the professionals especially. This “want-to-know” trait seems buried deep inside me. Though I was persevering and steadfast, for nearly thirty years I couldn’t fathom tennis. I was squirming. Many things, which I had been told (and often sold) in about my first fifteen years of playing tennis, were too round-about, or even incorrect. In that first leg of my tennis journey, I spent more than a thousand dollars on books, videos, classes, and lessons. At first, I wanted to believe in all that I studied. After all, who wants to write off investments? I learned through disappointment that when investing in knowledge, you have to stay aware and attentive; you have to be willing to forsake the straw you hold onto, if you want to move forward. Probably this applies just the same to all kinds of investments. Finally, I let go, as I recognized nobody dared to wander too far from respected teachings, from what everybody repeated. I realized I was stuck in common tennis jargon. Being on my own, my struggle continued without apparent improvements. I just recognized many things that did not work. Yet I was a truth seeker; now I had also turned into a truth seeker in tennis. Tennis became one of two strands in the background of my life; I could only give it a minor place in my spare time, as I had to shoulder all typical responsibilities.
Then life took turns; it seemed to have forgotten about me and especially my ambitions. Somehow, I started technical documentations for work, in the IT field. I continued to write. Later, I started to write about tennis, too. The first thousand pages (or so), spanning the next twelve years, after I started writing about tennis, were for the trash bin. Usually I prepared my weekly hour (sometimes less) on the tennis court and evaluated it afterward. I tried to formulate some new ideas how it would fit together, which mostly led to frustration in the next tennis session. Instead of building up my strokes, I lost them. So I had to play instinctively again; for quite a while I had to renounce finding a common denominator for the tennis-stroke, which would reflect both, my imagination and my actual playing. Resetting my skills to my old level let me stagnate.
Before I played tennis, I was a Tai Chi player. I was good at Tai Chi, as I had smooth, lithe, coordinated movements. This helped my tennis from the start. Imperceptibly, and over much time, by writing about tennis, my strokes improved. Writing made me more attentive and keen; it brought me some new, useful ideas. Finally, I managed to write The Tennis Schema. I did not just write it, but rewrite it. I pressed through more and more on the truth about stroke-production in tennis, as I was collecting and connecting insights over a long time. Writing intensifies your perception in your subject if you manage to stay open. Writing can bring clarity. When it does, it can be frightening as well because the mind does not want to confront the unknown. Writing connects you to an invisible source; by being tenacious, it lets you pull ideas and insights from the hidden sea of creativity into the open. For that reason alone, writing and reading are better investments for your time and money than filming, talking, and watching are. By writing, you confront yourself much more because you build on your output. The writing mill, too, grinds slow, but exceedingly fine. By reading, you apply your imagination much more (than by watching videos). By watching certain kind of videos before sleep, their content impresses your inner vision. As soon as you close your eyes, you find images of what you just watched running on your inner screen. It takes a while before they die down. To me it feels better not to let too much outer influence run my mental screen. Movies can hardly reach the nuances of your imagination. You may feel going short after watching a movie of which you already had read the book it was based on. Your imagination is closer to the ocean of creativity, therefore much vaster. As writing and reading involve your imagination more, they connect more to the real you than to your mind. What engages you more, lets you learn better and reach beyond your previous limit. You may sense I favor books…
Truly, I would have been happy had I found a book similar to The Tennis Schema thirty-five years ago. Often, descriptions of slow-motion pictures are claimed to be scientific, as if cameras stand for scientific results. Such an approach deceives oneself and others. In my book, I present tennis technique on a silver platter, as I give you a schema how you can make your strokes work. You won’t find such content in videos, on YouTube, or elsewhere. Slow-motion pictures are deceptive; they will mislead any tennis seeker. The more a theory about tennis technique relies on slow-motion pictures, the worse it is. The higher the resolution of those pictures is, the worse the conclusions are. YouTube is full of such videos. Many sell videos; yet most do not work because tennis technique escapes the eye and underneath operates differently from what slow-motion pictures seem to indicate.
Many web sites press authors to give their writings away free. I will never do that. A well-written book that gives you the information (or entertainment) you seek has benefit. If a book’s content does not touch you or enhance your knowledge in one of your interests or studies, you waste your time, at least shortly.
As electronic books are more economical I rather write than produce videos. Authors, too, have expenses. My book includes eighty-four photos, taken by a professional photographer, in his studio. There are other costs, not only for marketing. For that reason you will never find me and my work on those freebie sites. Fortunately, I don’t depend on my writing, which relieves me of all pressure of where my writing will take (or does not take) me. Just something inside drives me to do it. Writing should help raise consciouseness; first that of the writer, who has to struggle through to gain clarity in his writing. Later the work may touch readers positively. By negating any value of books, by putting and pushing authors down, meanwhile, many e-books are produced mechanically.
By now you can buy courses in the internet, how to quickly create a bunch of books that might sell. Such classes usually are targeted to different niches of the book market. This, of course, voids my supportive statements on the advantages of books. Perhaps then, my attitude reflects how it could and should be, and, most of all, how I experience writing.
The tendency to produce books by automatic processes reflects the overall consciousness of the book community, which to me seems descending. Readers are not as alert as they used to be.
Well, freedom was my incentive to write. Before I started to investigate tennis, I already was a truth seeker. I, you – we all – are here only temporary. We just pass through and share something that we deem worthwhile in between. While sharing is good, we all have our needs that we must take care of, without exception. So, while it sounds nice “to do without ever expecting anything in return”, in truth no one can live up to this, as physical needs demand something in return somewhere. We may be able to leave this unspecified, to not expect (specifics) in a given situation, but we cannot ignore some return. No one can. A book-market where books are required to be free to qualify for a marketing campaign is going downhill. As I travel in the opposite direction, I won’t participate. Then it is better to write for a few people only. However, writers should have some trust and write down what presses them. By defying the social consciousness, by staying impartial, their writing may turn out enlivening.
Already as a child, I realized life on earth would be a short sojourn. So I wondered about life (and, at first, wandered about in life). I did find truth; you will find traces in my tennis book, too, as I couldn’t always restrain from matching insights in tennis with insights in life. Actually, everybody does find truth in some unique way. Finding truth for ourselves drives us, which, of course, can have many faces. Essentially, we are torn between sensuality and spirituality. This is the given polarization in life, which we won’t escape. We, as beings, crave (to feel) union, as it promises bliss; its memory is burnt into us in all stages of life: as an embryo in the womb, as a couple during life, finally as soul when we move into the more spiritual worlds. At least people with near death experiences tell us of blissful states, which let them lose all fear of death. Thus we seek union, whether with a mate, with a band, with a famous sports club, with a singer or actor, and ultimately, with Spirit.
With some prominent person, without exception, it is the spirit of that person, which attracts. For that reason, it never makes sense to hope to become a star by participating in singer contests like voice of “some country”. Participants try to copy prominent singers and their unique presentation, not realizing that it is their spirit, or let’s say their originality, their character, their looks, and their air that fascinated and delighted people. Singer contest shows are entertainment, as TV usually is. You need to be yourself, if you want to become famous in your field. Your uniqueness has to take; if it doesn’t, you have to find your spot in life elsewhere. The wisdom behind this statement is that almost none of us will get around doing some kind of regular work. It just is so. Perhaps this is sobering, but, actually, most jobs, by doing them well, will make you feel much better than just being cheered ever will. Because by serving others well, the feeling wells up inside, whereas being cheered triggers feelings only externally. This could also mislead us on our life’s path; perhaps then, we even are protected when not becoming famous in something we are not ready for. Jobs get specialized quickly. Consequently, new job fields crop up constantly, where new skills are demanded to serve in new ways. Every job field differentiates itself from others. Thus, new job areas emerge, where people take pride in what they do. The prerequisites for such jobs are not always university degrees. Job fields, staffed with normal people, set themselves apart by acquiring special knowledge. For establishing their course, they need good people to join the group, the ranks, and even the management. They also need leaders that help them stay acknowledged and in demand. Somehow, life arranges for opportunities in many fields so everybody can make it somewhere. We cannot all live from singing, or acting, or playing tennis, for that matter. But if you are smart or just open, you will find something you are good at, learn the ropes in that specialization, and become successful. You just need to do two things to get started. First, accept your path. Don’t try to be someone else. Don’t try to force yourself into something that is not yours. Be kind to yourself. Second, rid yourself of envy. Envy does not like to see others succeed. But by being envious, you only hinder yourself. Envy is a number-one blocker of success and personal development, as it just feeds disbelief in yourself. This leaves you with an attitude that others on your horizon should not thrive either in their specialty. Then you may even lose friends. Though it could be the opposite. When envious people drop out of sight and avoid you, you lose friends, too. Going forward will change your world, so you need to trust in life. Children do. As adults, we need to find ourselves again as children of the divine where we have to replace trust in our parents with trust in something invisible. This is true adulthood and a lifelong learning process. However, to achieve an inner state of freedom you have to let go. Leave others their path with some good-will; then travel your road. Your life will take turns beyond what you considered possible.
The gloss seems what most of those who try to become a celebrity are after. Instead of giving attention, they want attention. I don’t say, you could not live rightfully as a singer or actor, or prominently in any other way. If that’s your destiny, it is just as good as any other job. But for other reasons than just “wanting to be great or wanting to be admired”. Such people live their vocation unfantastically and sensibly, as others elsewhere in the job world. Neither do they feel special; they are people, after all. The best stay modest. You never see Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer (the number-one and number-two tennis players at the moment), bragging, speaking badly about other players, or make much ado in other ways. The same is true for actors, as, for example, Meryl Streep. You could say the greater they appear, the more modest and normal they stay. Instead of behaving self-important or great, they have great gratitude that life supports them in their ventures. Such people love to express the flow through their talents. When talent, hard work, and flow merge, you get special performances. In tennis, players are zoning. But you can be “in the zone” or in the flow anywhere. Just know that you cannot copy or steal the flow. It will want you too, but in all your originality, and in a field that suits you. The flow picks a certain type of consciousness, for which it needs a person. Then IT flows. A wise person manages to come into the flow in any type of work, which is a matter of attitude and of attention to detail.
People who are exceptional in their field are aware that inner values outshine social values. So they stay grounded. It is just a matter of how you look at things. Finally, life becomes unexpectedly interesting, once you start to see a divine hand in your own life’s affairs. After you begin a discourse with life in some way, all experiences run under a different flag and become meaningful from another side that life offers you. Then you find life’s gems in mundane experiences, which turn out not to be quite as mundane (or aggravating) as you were viewing them before. Your experiences start to tell you more. They help you improve. They help you remove blocks that prevent you from reaching a goal or get to where you need to go.
However much we struggle or do, lastly we are at the mercy of life, subject to its plans. While we can do more than animals can, and while we do have (and did follow) our plans, neither can we foresee nor prevent everything uncomfortable or even painful that life deals us. We may have speculated incorrectly, perhaps under false conditions or under incomplete information. But whatever happens, we can keep our composure, at least to some degree after the first impact life sometimes has on us. Then it’s time to pick up our discourse with life again. Our belief in something higher than ourselves can support us, comfort us, and carry us through. Circumstances will eventually turn around. At times, life produces examples for us, like Nelson Mandela. Inside, we need not lose our dignity. For this to work, it is always helpful to pass things through. In my tennis book I often speak of “changing through”. There it was purely technical; now –writing this – I come to see another side of this.
Instead of just getting enraged and inflamed, turning depressing circumstances over to something inside, as a knowing and connected soul, will prove helpful. Then, without being smug or dictating anything, our awareness engages a higher awareness. If the turmoil is not even about us, we can allow for a potential blessing instead of forcing one on another by our own will. For that reason the dictum is “Thy will be done”. Our vision is much more localized and limited than ITs vision. We can change a little. And I don’t mean to say it would be bad to apply ourselves to worthy causes. This world would be much poorer without all the volunteer work of good people. By all means, if we feel drawn to support some good cause, we should. Yet true changes occur by turning things over to a higher intelligence, which connects everything and everybody. It may hurt at times to step back, but it will set you free. Doing the former (helping) does not exclude the latter (passing on and turning over whatever comes of our help).
Whether our truth is Tai Chi (as it first was for me), yoga, some spiritual teaching, or some other …ism, even atheism, does not matter so much. Therefore, to me it is essential to leave this life in a higher state of consciousness than when I started. If our …ism accomplishes just that, it is a good …ism. Then, I have done well with my …ism and you with yours. This is how it should be. We need not harm or pull something on another. We can let be. We ought to.
When my plans with tennis fell through, I decided, I wanted to know the truth in tennis, regardless. A few times, when frustration in tennis led to a crossroad, when I was at the verge of giving up on it, something nudged me to not throw it completely, some (nightly) dream, some image inside that I had when I awoke. Recognizing life’s hints didn’t exempt me from doing regular work. To the contrary, it put me through many types of jobs to prepare me to become a better writer on one hand, and a self-sufficient one on the sidelines of writing on the other. Now I can typeset my own work. Such training went on for years, in regular jobs. Until, now, The Tennis Schema e-book emerged through all effort and struggle.
I plan to do another small book on the serve. The Tennis Schema proves homogeneous for all strokes, which I want to make transparent. Afterward, I shall be at peace with tennis. I am aware that I use terms in The Tennis Schema that you haven’t heard about, as I invented them. Terms like forearm angles. Without understanding forearm angles in tennis, you will never grasp tennis. Then, the part of your wrist in any tennis-stroke will remain a mystery to you. These technical details and interrelations I explain thoroughly in my Tennis Schema volumes. You have to be open for something new to welcome my writing on tennis as it leads you away from general tennis jargon. Uh, perhaps it creates a new one…
However, you will enter a new conceptual world in tennis. One that holds on the court. I could not have come to the roots of tennis technique just by filming the strokes, by showing them in super slow-motion, and then describing observations. That would have been a recording at a single point in time. Written material sits, and you come back after a day, a week, or a month, many times. Writers work through their drafts often. You would not (perhaps cannot) change a video as often as any writer will change and improve his writings. Writing is more stringent, at least for the earnest writer. Writing takes you beyond superficiality; reading with an open mind, therefore, too.
Many watch too much TV (my feeling). Videos and computer games become hype for young people. To them I cry out “Look Up”; actually, check out this antidote video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7dLU6fk9QY. Reading means studying; it would serve you better. Should you start higher education, they will make you read. Reading educates where watching TV (or videos) distracts. As a search for truth triggered my writing on tennis, this may shine through to some degree. As with all things, some will appreciate this. Others, it will hold off.
Writing seems a lonely affair. Yet this is only partly true, as something in the background is always with the writer. After all, creativity does have an invisible source. Expressing truth is one goal of writing. Knocking at its door helps me fulfill my self-defined goal of eventually leaving in a higher state of consciousness (than when I came).
I love Leonhard Cohen’s song, “You got me singing” (find it on YouTube). This “bio” got me writing, which took me beyond of what I had planned, again. Thank you for your time and attention.
: A passionate interest in tennis and also in higher consciousness made me write about these subjects.
: I am not a fiction writer, not yet. Writing started naturally at work, where I wrote technical documentations.
: I did not start out because I wanted to be a great writer,and then sat down to write. Rather, something was pressing through from inside.
: I grew up in Germany, in a small town. To be truthful, no one could foresee that I would write some day. I was very bad in German in school, as I was almost unable to write "interpretations" about other author's stuff. In grammar, I was not strong. Neither did I enjoy writing essays and compositions. This was forced upon me from outside. In contrast, when I now write, it comes from inside. Therefore I believe that neither anyone can decide on being a writer, nor can you arbitrarily turn somebody into a writer.
: It is best when I am alone and when I feel no one can disturb me. Mostly evenings, often until midnight.
: Right now I am preparing a bio. While this does not sound exciting, it is more than a bio, as little insights here and there crept in. It is as always. I start writing, then it grows. One page turns into two then five, ten, suddenly there was this idea about a book.
: Work, as I cannot live from writing. My children. I take care of things (car, bicycles, flat, etc).
: I seem to go through phases. Suddenly I read about relationships, how men and women get about, etc. Suddenly it hits me: I feel different about things. Then I start to write up my slant on the subject. Suddenly something from inside mingles in. In the end, this turned into a book in German language. My subject is consciousness. Becoming more conscious is important to me. Why? Because we all die. I don't believe that's the end. We continue in consciousness. Are we the same when 50 years old compared with the newborn we once were? All we reach in life is a state of consciousness or purity. That's what we take with us. That and the essence of our experiences is the only thing that will stay with us. Of course, I also take care that my children get a good education, that we have a car and all that. Yet underneath consciousness is more important to me than money. Most likely, this always is so for writers.
: I was working as administrator in the IT field. Other jobs I held: Creating slides with powerpoint and other software for presentations of a business consultancy. Moving furniture. Working (five years) as a waiter. Being in the army (military duty/service), doing an apprenticeship as a clerk, working as a clerk for an insurance company, Delivering food. Being a secretary and office manager. Fill up shelves in grocery stores. Being a typesetter for large manuals on different systems. Doing desktop publishing with Adobe products. I did quite a bit of stuff.
: I only have a kindle paperwhite.
: I only did three so far, as I only wrote three books. The last cover design I created rather pragmatically. I took a picture that helps clarify stroke production in tennis.
The one before started intuitively. It was a flower photographed in special lighting. Then I added nuances to it using photoshop and Canva.
The first cover design I did I tried to follow dream images. Then I bought photos to express the dream I had. But finally I had some graphics designer help me create a design.
So it all depends.
: I write non-fiction, not novels. In a way I don't feel that I am a "real" writer. To me, novel writers are the true writers. Until now this never grabbed me. Also I did not have the time for that. If you live a normal life with all the normal duties (three children) you can only write about that which is close to your heart and to your essence. Anything else does not make sense. I never write to show what a "great" writer I am. I do not write for fame. Concerning my tennis book, I wanted to know how tennis works. I could sense that the knowledge out there is not it yet. No one had found the truth how stroke production really works. There are good and even great players. OK. But even they do not exactly know what they are doing. Take Steffi Graf: she could never rely on a topspin backhand. How come? Take (almost) all other women on the tour: almost none of them can hit a one-handed backhand. How come? I badly wanted to know what goes on underneath. Then, as I digged deeper, suddenly there were parallels to life. It just struck me as I was a truth seeker in life and then also in tennis.
: Writing is not joy. Writing just can get hot. Often, I am afraid to start to write. Probably you have heard about the writer's block. The writer's block can be easily explained. When you write, you cannot just write from your mind, as your mind only holds images and experiences of what happened. Your mind only holds facsimilies and copies of the past. But as a being you can reach the beyond. You can build on the images of your mind by tapping the unknown. That is very scary to the mind. When that happens it is good for the current writing session, as once you'r in, it is ok. But as soon as you get out of this session, your mind says: "Boy, are you crazy? I shall never do THAT again. You take me somewhere I no nothing about. Are you kidding?" The mind only wants facsimilies, only that which it knows. It feels happy when it recognizes things it knows. But as a writer you must reach the unknown. So you have to manage yourself, persuade yourself and especially your mind to start writing again. The mind will do anything to steer clear of the unknown. And the writer has to do everything to get there. It is not enough to take old stuff, change it a little, mix it up and thus create a "new" book . Even though this is done many times. For that reason, we don't have so many outstanding writers. I believe, for novel writers, their imagination takes on a live of its own. Their figures come alive in their imagination. So most of all, writers need imagination, as they need to leave facsimilies behind. Perhaps then, writers should not watch much TV. I hardly ever watch TV.
: You can visit my author's site on Amazon. You could also use the look-inside Feature on amazon and read into my book. I have only published one book so far.
: I don't have fans, as I am an unknown writer. Having fans is another precarious subject. Writers should not write for fame, or for having fans. I even found that it is better you don't tell anybody. Those who know you will be jealous. Envy is everywhere. Telling your parents might be ok. But already your brothers in law might not like the idea of you being successful with a book. Something inside has to stir and make you write. Good writers fulfill unseen plans. Good writers are instruments for life. When life wants to express something through you, suddenly it will make you write.
M A Clarke Scott is a Chatelaine Grand Prize winner for The Art of Enchantment, first in the Life is a Journey series of romantic women’s fiction about young women abroad who discover themselves and fall in love while getting embroiled in other people’s problems. Reconcilable Differences is first in the Having It All series about professional women in Vancouver struggling to balance the challenge and fulfillment of career with the search for identity, love, family and home. She also loves to weave dramatic relationships into steampunk and cyberpunk adventures.
She’s been a telephone operator, a dental hygienist, an architect, a gerontologist and an education savings advisor, and is now affectionately known as ‘Doc Maven.’ When not writing, she meditates while hiking wooded mountain trails, does yoga and Pilates to fend off decrepitude, reads eclectically, contemplates wormholes, experiments with painting abstract expressionism, kills plants and tries not to burn dinner. Clarke Scott lives in beautiful Vancouver, Canada with three large men and four small mammals, all of them hairier than she. Although she knows she lives in Paradise, she still loves traveling the world in search of romance, art, good food and new story ideas.
You can read more about M A, her books and ideas that strike her fancy at http://www.maryannclarkescott.com. Join her mailing list to receive a bundle of free goodies. If you enjoy her books, please rate them and leave reviews on Amazon.
: I've always been a daydreamer and an avid reader. There have always been a variety of fictional people chattering away in my head, so writing fiction was a natural progression, and something I always wanted to do. The more I write, the more I see that there are ideas I revisit, dressed up in different ways. I guess that’s how my first stories evolved into series. I saw that I kept coming back to the same ideas: identity, belonging, balance, self-knowledge, empowerment. Learning to be one’s true self, even if there are reasons why you’ve been denying that, as a survival mechanism. I think this is very true to life, and I like to explore it in different ways – that turning point in a life that changes everything – and brings you closer to yourself. The universe. Authenticity, I guess. And a touch of spiritual awakening, in a vague, non-religious way. A kind of Zen thing.
: Sure. When I was nine, I wrote the first ten chapters of a romance novel. I think it was a bit corny, involving a sinking cruise ship, a remote tropical island and a love triangle. I lost it, but there were ideas and themes in there that I still explore, though perhaps in a more mature way. I abandoned the story to become an architect.
: My current work in progress is Book 2 in the Having it All series. It involved the best friends of the two main characters in Reconcilable Differences. It's an oil-and-water romance involving a career-oriented, driven architect who doesn't want a relationship or a family, and a dot.com millionaire computer geek, who doesn't want a relationship or a family. They jointly care for their best friends kids, so they end up with a relationship, and a family! Also some life lessons.
: Professionally, seriously, in 2005.
: I grew up in a small city in the interior of BC. I guess, in some ways, there was not much going on there. But the place was not so much the reason as the fact that my siblings were all grown up and gone by the time I learned to read. Also my parents were older, and didn't do much, except work. So I had loads of alone time. Maybe I would have been introverted and creative anyway, but who knows. I think that was a factor.
: I don't follow a schedule. More an urge. I'm a binger so I write a lot, or read a lot, or procrastinate a lot. All at once. I think there are different rooms in my head, and I can't be in more than one at a time.
: After Coming About is complete, which should be soon, I'll be polishing Book 2 in my Life is a Journey series about young women abroad. A Forged Affair is almost complete, but I've been thinking about it, and I think I'm going to add a bunch of chapters from a second point of view, so there's a bit of work to be done on that one.
: Reading, of course. Exercising. I like to do Pilates and yoga, and hike in the woods. I like to cook, but mostly when I don't have to. For special occasions and entertaining friends. I love to travel, and eat and look at art, architecture, museums, history. I watch movies and binge watch series.
: The more I mature as a writer, the more planning I do for a book. I'm rather passionate about story structure, and have read many books about it. So over time I've amalgamated many ideas into my own architecture. I'm very interested now in the heroine's journey, and studying it in detail, studying exemplars, and using this archetypal and mythical structure to explore and express ideas in my books. So nowadays, I do a lot of note-taking, planning and outlining before I begin to write. I find it more efficient, and actually inspires my stories and helps me to problem solve.
: I love Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, and several contemporary and historical romance and women's fiction authors. Some of my favourite's include Barbara O'Neal, Mary Balogh, Suzanna Kearsley, Suzanne Brockman, Jane Ann Krentz, Freya North, JoJo Moyes, Emily Giffin, Jennifer Crusie, Eleanor Brown, Laura Kinsale, Elizabeth Hoyt. They are all brilliant writers, who sweep me away, inspire me and teach me. My favourite SF authors include William Gibson, Neil Stephenson, Robert Sawyer and Lois McMaster Bujold. I also admire Khaled Hosseini, Peter Carey, Janette Turner Hospital, Carol Shields, Michael Ondatje, Ian McEwen, J K Rowling, Mary Novak, Barbara Gowdy, and many, many others.
: At the moment, I am lucky to be "just" a writer. But these days that also means I'm a publisher, book marketer and promoter. In the past, I've been an architect and an environmental gerontologist. I've had many jobs in passing, in finance, journalism, research, and odd jobs as a student. I've worked in libraries, on nurseries, as a telephone operator, a dental assistant and a gas jockey.
: For many years I've used my iPad. It's getting old and sick though, so I'm considering switching to a newer, bigger phone as an e-reader. And/or maybe a small Kindle with e-ink, so I can read outdoors and limit blue light and eye fatigue.
: Hah. Because I come from a design background, I'm a very involved, you could say meddling, high-maintenance client. I'm lucky to have a very talented and patient cover designer. But that doesn't stop me from studying the art, taking courses and thinking about doing more of it myself. I'm kind of a typography geek, and so hard to please on that count. Very picky about details and spacing. I figure maybe I should just add that to my list of careers. But, to answer the question, I think cover designs should convey the proper genre to the right readers, be evocative of mood, location, character and theme. Be colourful - I love colour and eye-catching. And if the books are part of a series, convey that through consistent layout and graphic design as well.
: See my answer on process above!
: Being in the zone. When I know my characters well and immerse myself in their world, their story, and the words just flow from my subconscious onto the page. In those moments, I feel like I'm channelling something bigger than myself, and am part of something universal. And also doing the thing I'm meant to be doing in this life. I especially love when patterns, symbols and connections come out of me that I didn't labour over. Serendipitous things that add layers of meaning and artistry to my stories. And when the sound of the words is beautiful, or the pictures I paint with my words are evocative and moving.
: My website: http://www.maryannclarkescott.com. Everything's there: buy links, synopses.
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: Live long and prosper. But, with feels. Lots of feels.
As a historical novelist, Annette Oppenlander loves weaving people, settings and interesting past events into a rich and adventurous tapestry. When she isn’t in front of her computer, she shares her knowledge through writing workshops and indulges her old mutt, Mocha. In her spare time she travels around the U.S. and Europe to discover amazing histories. The mother of three ‘former’ teens, Annette lives with her husband in Bloomington, Ind.
: 'Surviving the Fatherland' took me 15 years to write. Growing up I always felt there were a lot of stories hidden in my family. I’d hear bits and pieces, quick references or watch my parents nod at each other in silent understanding. As my interest in history grew, my curiosity grew with it. So in 2002 I asked my parents to share their stories. I spent several weeks visiting them in Germany and recording their memories. I remember one afternoon we were in the basement while my mother ironed. I’d ask questions and she’d tell me about the way her mother treated her. I still have those tapes though it’s hard for me to hear my mother’s voice. She passed away in 2004. My mother always insisted that my father was the better storyteller. And while I agree that his activities were quite adventurous, my mother’s quieter side offered a lot of depth. And so I think the two characters balance each other out nicely.
Initially, I had planned to write short stories so my children could remember their grandparents. But then I realized there were few if any stories about Germany’s war children and the civilian side of WWII. Of course, we have excellent and moving stories about the Holocaust and the soldier’s war. There is no shortage of battle scenes. Yet, many battles were fought at home. They weren’t drawing as much attention, but they were just as heroic. I wanted to add complexity to the stereotypical portrayal of Germany in the Third Reich.
: I have a couple of manuscripts in the works. One is set during the American Civil War and tells the story of a farm boy and his best friend, a slave. Best friends, they get torn apart by a horrible accident and must each find their way through the war and eventually back to together.
The second manuscript is set during prohibition and has a female protagonist, Sam, short for Samantha. She is your regular tomboy and lives in a tenement in Cincinnati with her mother. I've got about 20% of the first draft done. So it's going to be a while.
: Of course, I read a lot and widely. I also love walking my dog, hanging out with friends and my husband, by best friend of 30 years. I enjoy traveling to various places in Europe and around the U.S. because I always find new interesting historical tidbits that could potentially turn into a story.
: I typically write in the mornings at my desk in my office. No music, no distractions. In the afternoons I edit and do marketing.
: I'd say don't skimp on the cover and get a professional designer. Nothing is worse than a 'homemade' cover. It'll turn readers off.
: I'm a pantser. I typically have an idea who my protagonist is. In fact, I do a detailed bio on him or her and try to get to know him/her well before I start. S/he always surprises me along the way, though. I also know the setting. As a historical novelist I study the era in great detail before setting out with the story. The story itself is written without outline and sort of flows wherever my brain takes it.
: I love the creative freedom, the way my characters come to live. I also enjoy how writing/creating makes me feel and when people tell me how much they enjoy my stories and that they were 'right there.'