Hannah McKinnon

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Christina Hoag - Author in the Limelight

Posted on February 24, 2017 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)

This week's Limelight guest is author Christina Hoag.

Hi Christina and welcome to the blog. Let’s start by you telling us about yourself …


Hi Hannah, and thanks for hosting me!

I am a journalist and novelist. When I was six years old, I won a prize for writing interesting stories and that’s basically what I’ve been doing ever since. I became a newspaper reporter so I could write. During my career, I worked for the Miami Herald and Associated Press, among other places. The highlight was reporting from 14 countries around Latin America and the Caribbean for major media including Time, Business Week, Financial Times, the Houston Chronicle and The New York Times. Now I do corporate communications writing and write novels.


And, of course, we’d love to hear about the books you’ve written. Tell us about those.


I have two novels published by small presses last year: Girl on the Brink, a YA romantic thriller, and Skin of Tattoos, a noir thriller.

Girl on the Brink is about a 17-year-old girl, Chloe, who gets involved with the wrong guy at an especially vulnerable time in her life, as her parents are splitting up. At first, she thinks Kieran’s the one. He sweeps her off her feet, to use an old cliché, and she experiences an incredible connection with him. Slowly, however, he reveals a very dark side of his character – he’s manipulative, abusive, violent, possessive. Chloe wants to help him, but despite what he says, Kieran’s not that keen on being helped. He pulls a huge move to harm her, and Chloe must use all her smarts, strength and courage to defeat him.

Skin of Tattoos is set in the gang underworld of Los Angeles, and the main character, Mags, is a gang member. We meet him as he comes out of prison wanting to go straight and never return “behind the wall.” To do that, he has to get away from his gang, which has undergone some changes since he’s been locked up, namely his rival Rico, who set him up on the charge that got him imprisoned, is now the leader and isn’t about to let Mags leave the gang. It’s a story of revenge and rivalry, but there are also other layers such as a coming-of-age theme as Mags heals his fractured relationship with his family, and there’s a romantic subplot, as well.


How different is writing for adults from writing for YA from writing non-fiction? How do you handle these different genres?


Nonfiction is probably the easiest because the story comprises facts. It’s all laid out for you. The challenge comes in organizing those facts into a narrative, sub-topics and so on. Writing for YA is, for me anyway, the hardest because you have the most constraints. Your protag is a teenager so you have to take into account the restrictions on a teenager’s life: parental control and school, plus their limited self-awareness and knowledge at that age, and use limited sex and profanity. Adult fiction, which is my preferred genre, is a wide open field!


You also co-authored a book. What was that experience like?


I co-authored Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence (Turner Publishing, 2014), a book on “gang intervention.” Basically I was the writer. I interviewed my co-author, noted gang interventionist Aquil Basheer, at length about his life and his program to train former gang members as community peacekeepers who disrupt the retaliatory cycle of gang violence. I also interviewed many former gang members, cops, psychologists and others who work in this field. It was a fascinating project, and I’m proud to say that the book is being used as a text in several university courses.

Are you traditionally or self-published? How did you go about getting published?

I’m traditionally published by small publishers, but I got both deals myself. I’ve had two literary agents for Skin of Tattoos but neither was able to sell it or wanted Girl on the Brink. I kept rewriting both and submitting to publishers who accepted unagented submissions. It took a long time and many, many rejections but I kept polishing and submitting until I found homes for both. I’m happy to say both books have been well received so I’m glad I didn’t give up. There are many ways to launch a literary career.


You’re a volunteer creative writing mentor with WriteGirl.org. Can you share how this works?


WriteGirl is an organization in Los Angeles that works to promote writing by teen girls and help them get into college. Last year I led weekly writing workshops with at-risk girls at an alternative high school; this year I’m a mentor at monthly workshops (each month is a different writing genre) in which the mentors are paired with girls for the day to help and guide them in writing exercises. It’s a great program that really builds self-confidence and validation in girls from all types of backgrounds. I really wish I had had something like this when I was in high school.

Can you tell us about your writing process? Any particular methods or quirks you can share?


I’m a morning writer. I get up early, have my coffee and check the news and sit down and write until I feel my brain turning squishy, usually early afternoon. Then I get some exercise and try to do some marketing work. I use an outline. Although I rarely stick to it, I still like having it as a guidepost to the next plot steps. It’s also good to have some type of ending in sight when you start although it can change. I find writing is a very fluid process. It’s often surprising where the story ends up.


What’s the most surprising thing you learned about yourself when you started writing creatively?


I’m always amazed at what I come up with and how I write myself out of plot impasses. I may be uncertain of where I’m going with a particular thread or I may get just plain stuck, but a way out always comes to me. It might be in the middle of the night or as soon as I get up from the computer or while I’m writing, but an answer always pops up. I’ve learned to trust my creative process and not fret about getting stuck.


Can you share your Top-5 tips for aspiring writers?


1. I don’t write myself out every day. I leave something – the very next scene, usually - so when I come back the next day I know what to do. I just pick up and keep going. If you write yourself out, then you end up wasting a lot of time wondering what comes next and trying to get back into the rhythm of the story.

2. If someone says something in your piece doesn’t work, it’s only one person’s opinion. But if two people make the same observation, you need to pay attention to what they’re saying. More often than not, it’s something that needs fixing.

3. Develop a thick skin. It takes courage to write and show your work to the world for judgment, but remember that not everyone is going to like your work, and that’s okay. You have to learn to let criticism roll off you. The nastiest rejection I ever got was from the editor of a literary journal who scornfully said of my experimental fiction submission, “Why would anyone even read this?” I kept submitting it and got the piece and another like it published in other journals.

4. If there’s someone in your life who does not support you creatively, either get rid of them out or distance yourself from them as much as possible. Be ruthless because your art is worth it. I’ve broken up with boyfriends because they were not supportive or had no interest in my writing. In my mind, you can’t be with a writer if you’re not interested in what they write because their writing is part of their self-expression.

5. This may be the most important tip of all: Believe in yourself. Believe that you have something worthwhile to say. Believe in your talent. Believe that you will succeed and that the rocky road is part of any artist’s journey.

Will you tell us about your latest project(s)?

I’ve got a romantic suspense novel called “Heat in the Tropics” releasing next fall from Melange Books under the pseudonym C.A. Elliott. It’s a romance between a reporter and a homicide detective set in a sweltering Miami summer. Under my own name, I’m currently working on a thriller set in South America called “Jungle.”


What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

My next biggest passion is travel and sightseeing. I’ve travelled all over the world, the more remote the place the better! On a more daily basis, I love going for walks either in the outdoors or around art galleries and museums. Since writing is so sedentary, I need to get off my rump!

And finally, where can we learn more about you and your work.

The most complete place is my website www.christinahoag.com I also welcome people to follow my exploits on:





Faith Hogan - Author in the Limelight

Posted on February 15, 2017 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)

This week's Limelight guest is Faith Hogan, author of My Husband's Wives and Secrets We Keep.

Hi Faith, and welcome to my blog. Let’s start with you telling us about yourself

Hi Hannah, it’s lovely to be here! Where do I start? I’m a writer, reader, fiction addict! Seriously, I live in the west of Ireland and I just adore books. I’ve always written and over the years I’ve flexed my muscles on poetry, short stories, a radio play and for quite a while I was writing crime fiction. Then my agent pointed me in the direction of women’s fiction and I’ve never looked back. I have a golf mad husband, four children and a very demanding cat – I think that’s about it!

Blimey. You sound busy! Now, your second book, Secrets We Keep, has just been released – congratulations! What can you tell us about the story?

It’s set in the west of Ireland, in a little village that in reality is just on my doorstep. It’s the story of two women who have made mistakes and lived the best lives they thought they could. It’s a story of how they manage to find what they need, just when they stopped searching. Some people are meant for each other – time and distance can throw people together when they least expect it and happy ever after is never exactly what it seems!

Your debut, My Husband’s Wives, came out in May last year. It’s quite different from Secrets We Keep, isn’t it?

It is! I’ve been told it’s a very different kind of book. I began writing Secrets We Keep before I knew that My Husband’s Wives would be published. I suppose in that way, they are both written from the heart – there was no formulae, no target market – they are just books of women’s fiction that I had to write and now, I’m so glad I did. I loved writing Secrets We Keep – it’s the book that made me go ‘wow,’ at the end. I’m not sure I’d have been brave enough to take it on if there had been an expectation of something else.

I have to ask – two novels in under a year. How on earth do you write so quickly?

It seems like that doesn’t it! Books are changing though, now you look at some of the best writers around and they’re producing four books a year – now, that’s mind blowing. I still have a day job, a family, a life? But I have to say, I love the writing process, so I suppose while some people are knitting, or growing vegetables, or watching soap operas, I get my kicks from crafting stories – it takes all sorts!

When did you start writing, and what did you write first?

I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t write. I suppose that I got more serious about it a couple of years ago. I put a lot of energy into writing crime novels at first, and perhaps that wasn’t a bad thing – because I’m sure it has to have honed some skills (apart from giving me writers’ bottom :D). Stolen Sister was a winner in the Irish Writers Novel Fair and that was a great experience as well as a nice confidence booster around the writing.

How did you go about finding an agent and surviving the dreaded querying process?

Oh, dear – yes, that’s probably the worst part. I was lucky, I sent off my MS to a few agents, one of whom I particularly admired – she has ‘discovered,’ some of my favourite authors. She worked with me for some time to put my ms into shape and even still, before anything goes to the publishers she will go through it and advise on revisions where she thinks they’re needed. Because she’s very experienced I trust her judgement, she’s worked with the very best and her optimism is uplifting – yes, I’ve been very fortunate.

What did it feel like to get a book deal?

That was the day I did a dance around the kitchen and the kids thought I’d finally tipped the scales in terms of coolness (I’m still not sure which side of the scales I’m on :)  it depends on if you ask the teenagers or the seven year old). Seriously, nothing prepares you for it. It was mind-blowingly better than I had imagined. I spent days afterwards just going through the emails. Of course, then you come back down and realise, I have to really write two more books now – argh!! But it’s all good!


Can you tell us about how you write? Any particular methods or quirks you can share?

No, I’m a pretty boring, plant-my-bottom-on-a-chair-and-go-for-it-kind-of-gal! I do like the quiet though and I tend to forget time altogether when I’m working on something that I’m really enjoying. Sometimes I have that battle between knowing it’s time to eat and really not wanting to leave where I’m at – first world problems, I know!

What’s the most surprising thing you learned about yourself when you started writing creatively?

This is a tough one. I think we (by which I mean readers) are always evolving. I think if you’re a reader, you’re going to be dipping in to material that’s going to change how you see the world and ultimately how you see yourself. Perhaps as writers and curators of ideas (I’m looking at all fab bloggers!) that’s something we should all be thinking about. As far as what writing has taught me, I’d say it’s perspective and I’d also say that you’re never done learning…

What are your Top-5 tips for aspiring writers?

First, I’d say write. You have to write some truly terrible stuff before you get to the gold.

Next, I’d say make the time. If you’re serious, get into a routine and make it a priority. For me, for a long time now, writing has come high on the list, after family and friends. It’s way before a lot of things that used to be priority!

Third, expect rejection – but don’t take it personally. If you can learn from it then you’re on the right path.

Fourth, in saying that, other people are not always right. I’m thinking here of JK Rowling’s rejection letters that were addressed to Robert Galbraith – now there’s an unhappy publisher crying into his tbr piles. Never give up just because of a comment based on a couple of chapters – life is too interesting for that!

Finally, get a comfy chair – you’ll be doing a lot of sitting in it if you’re really serious about this writing lark!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not working, it’s family first, sometimes it’s just chillaxing at home or doing whatever floats their boats! Did I mention that I live in the one of the most beautiful corners of the world? I love to walk in the local woods, along the beach or just take in the air before bed time! I’m a big movie girl –as you might imagine and I’m discovering the delights of Netflix series, but of course, it takes me an age to get through them, I’m so far behind everyone else, it really is embarrassing.

And finally, where can we find out more about you, and your work?

Funny you should ask…

You'll find me on TwitterFacebook, Instagram, and on my website

You can also find my books on: Amazon.co.ukAmazon.comKobo, Google Play and iBooks




Cat Skinner - Author in the Limelight

Posted on February 10, 2017 at 7:40 AM Comments comments (0)


Incredibly excited to feature a serial entrepreneur and budding author on this week's Limelight post. Meet the incredibly talented, funny and gorgeous Cat Skinner!

Hi Cat, and welcome to the blog. Let’s start with you telling us about yourself …

This is so exciting, thanks for having me visit! I’m an entrepreneur and a mom of three amazing kids. Up until the last couple of years I was the Artistic Director of a Cirque Burlesque troupe in Toronto called Les Coquettes. When the troupe made the decision to retire, I made the decision to shift my focus to writing, something I’ve always loved.

When I’m not writing and parenting, my time is split between my other business projects. I blog and manage social media for our family business at TallEarth.com. We make and manufacture eco-safe wood treatment products, which are primarily sold online.

I have a successful beta reading business YourBetaReader.com where I read manuscripts for writers and give them feedback from a reader’s perspective.

This summer I also became a licensed wedding officiant in the province of Ontario with AllSeasonsWeddings.com. In January, I began teaching creative writing to kids ages 10 – 18 JuniorCreativeWriters.com, and I’m so excited about this. In addition to local classes in the Niagara Region, I plan to also have online offerings soon.

After blogging for years about sex education, relationships, life as a creative person and raising kids, I wrote and self-published a non-fiction book called Keeping It Up: A Guy’s Guide to Great Relationship Sex. There aren’t a lot of great books on the market speaking directly to the average man in a long-term relationship from a woman’s perspective, so I was hoping to fill a hole, so to speak.

Self-publishing has been a very challenging, rewarding, and humbling experience. I’ve learned so much, and though I’m not exactly daunted, I would do things very differently with any subsequent books.


I'm breathless just from reading everything you do! And you’re writing your debut novel, which will – no doubt – be totally fab. What can you reveal about the story and your experience as a writer so far?

I love writing fiction, though I was seriously intimidated by this for a long time. The novel is part of a series I’m working on, very loosely based on my experience in the burlesque world. It’s the story of a failing actress who gets a final shot at a career when she wins the chance to audition for a renowned Cirque Burlesque company, only to find that they are in fact a team of super hero mercenaries. As you can imagine, it’s pretty tongue-in-cheek. My goal was to write chick lit for fan girls, nerds and geeks like me.

When I got to the end of the first three drafts, I was pretty proud of having gotten so far. Once I got it the manuscript in the hands of my own team of trusted beta readers, I realized just how much work I had left to do, which was pretty daunting. I got very discouraged at first, but the pain of not seeing the novel through to publication is worse than just ploughing ahead and getting it done, so I’m back at it now.

2017 is the year to get my first novel off my desk and out into the world.




 What made you start writing? Where do you hope this journey will take you?

As I kid, I often struggled with feelings of not really belonging in my peer group. I had some bullies that I had to navigate around, and some childhood trauma that had a greater impact on my confidence and sense of well-being than I could have realized. In grade four, an amazing teacher (Mrs. Fabris) placed a huge portion of our classroom focus on creative writing. Through writing I found an incredible way to express my emotions, and more importantly, the power to create worlds that I could escape into. I’ve been writing in some capacity ever since.

I would love to arrive at a place with my writing where I’m not only making some income, but where I’m writing stories that people will delight in reading. People besides my friends and family, that is.


I'm always delighted by your writing, too! Do you already have another project in mind?

In November of 2016, I needed to step away from my novel revisions and I started working on a YA novel about a sixteen-year-old girl who is orphaned after her mother’s suicide, and is forced to live with her estranged grandmother in Northern Ontario. I had to shelf it because I hadn’t outlined it first, and kind of got stuck, but I think it’s got promise. My intention is to get back to it once the novel is off my desk.


Can you tell us about your writing process? Any particular methods or quirks you can share?

When I’m writing, I prefer either the silence and solitude of the writing desk in my bedroom, or the hum and bustle of a busy café. I usually need a mug of something warm to sip on, and my children know that interrupting me when I’m writing could put them in peril. I will also confess to always having a bar of Lily’s Stevia-sweetened chocolate in my desk. Chocolate seems essential to the process.

Chocolate is essential to life :-) So, what’s the most surprising thing you learned about yourself when you started writing creatively?

How much I need writing in my life to feel whole and sane.


What’s the hardest, and the best thing about writing?

The hardest thing is staying positive about the worth of my words, and keeping my writing life on the top of my priority list. The best thing is getting lost in the worlds and characters I create while writing. It feels like what I imagine meditation must be like.


Can you give aspiring writers your Top-5 tips?

1. Write every day, even if you’re just making creative lists or jotting down ideas.

2. Find a group of writers, preferably ones with more experience than you, who you admire and trust and meet with them regularly to share work and give feedback to one another.

3. Read as much as you can, and not just in the genre you like to write.

4. Have faith in your writing, and build up a thick skin.

5. Get savvy about the business end of the industry, whether you are self-publishing or going the more conventional route, and take time to build your social media platforms.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing and doing all the other wonderful things you do?

I like to read, cook, bake, hike, spend time with my family and I’m also a thrift store junkie.


Where can we learn more about you and your work?

My personal blog is the home of all of my writing work, and there are links to my other projects there as well. Please drop by and say hello at www.catskinner.club

Thanks Cat! xoxoxo


Suenammi Richards - Guest post "Diversifying My Worlds"

Posted on February 3, 2017 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)

This week, Suenammi Richards has written a guest post on diversity, and on how authors can include more of it in their work.

We live in a diverse world. However it seems when crafting and creating stories the diversity becomes in theory as opposed to being tangible. As an author I know there is very little as fearful or as frightening as feeling like you have crafted well thought out engaging characters and find them to be lacking in diverse experiences and diverse companions. It’s tempting to try and thrust these characters into spaces that have not been properly prepared for them. This is not the best way to approach diverse character creation. Here are seven methods to develop deep meaningful diverse characters to help promote more inclusive narratives.

1) Bonding points that are plausible and real

As in with most human relationships bonding points are very important. We have an inner sense of reality and a cross of what happens in those relationships. People as a whole experience exposure to different people from different day to day experiences. This means that passing a neighbor who does not look like your protagonist and is not equally abled or gendered is not a substantial bonding point. Which in general is why such relationships feel false because we as humans often indulge in superficial proximity related engagements. These instances do matter however for displaying diversity. The misfortune is that this inclusion can become disappointment when all the diverse characters are this hollow representation. People bond over shared interests so try not to limit who shares what interests and how it’s discovered.

2) Meetings that can occur spontaneously

More often than not stereotypes and assumptions cloud the vision of potential people a character can meet and where. In the constant battle of generating entertaining yet plausible narratives the specter of chance is sometimes more ignored. When crafting backstory for good diverse character integration sometimes the shared interest is as simple as service and duty. Regardless of ideas on this most professions are not race, gender, religion, sexuality, or abled bias. Most people do what are considered 'regular' jobs and so do our characters with notable exceptions. The impetuous to create strictly social character meetings stems the flow of diverse character creation unless the protagonist or antagonist has been given to bouts of stepping outside of comfort to make diverse meetings commonplace.

3) Study common concerns within that group

That being said, the key to all great fiction is changing your character. The most interesting way to do this is through relationships of all kinds. In many cases friendship. Research the nuanced concerns of populations that are in some way polar opposites to your characters. Have those characters stumble into very current very plausible social situations such as protests. Have your characters witness life perspective changing events that are based in the differences in reality for people of various populations. Use these natural plot devices to bring in those characters of diverse perspectives because that's where they are plentiful.


4) Read content from that perspective

In our current climate of blogs and self-publishing it is not difficult to find content that is delivered from a diverse perspective by those living in those spaces. Within that content there are recommended authors and social bloggers that those among that population revere. Make it an active habit of normal literary research to explore these perspectives and read these pieces that have nothing to currently do with your characters and figure out how that would actually affect their lives in a viable way. Use these perspectives to engage in almost devil's advocate discussions. Be a little fearless and don't be afraid to contact these other writers with questions regarding their perspectives. Many of them are very vocal about inviting conversation.

5) Seek out these relationships in your daily travels

People often use fears for safety as a legitimate reason to steer clear of not only certain perspectives and narratives but also from certain locations and populations. The truth is for most people a different lived in space is as simple as being a little more adventurous with choices in food. Some places of great inspiration and little harm are libraries and bookstores in neighborhoods not usually traveled in. At times take another path and see where it leads. Explore city event calendars for ethnic festivals and research the events and their importance to those communities.

6) Build from historical accuracies

The most pertinent information on most environments and the explanation for divisions of people and pockets of diversity is found in history. Now history books are good guidelines, however they are contingent to the predominant culture and the history they perceive as being worth preserving. So they must be observed with that in mind. When a question exists and logical historical answers seem lacking explore the art. All of the art. Find out what artists were doing during these times in these populations. Explore visual art, dance, theater and most especially writing. Search for the political art and especially the outlawed art. In outlawed art you find the backbone of whatever revolution the underserved populations where trying to attain. These instances can be traced to current cultural concerns and current times. While history books can be sculpted and groomed to be perceived a certain way there is an inalienable truth to art that a crafted history has a hard time distracting from.

7) Challenge your preconceived notion

The hardest aspect of this that every writer deals with is of course personal growth and evolution. The previous steps are methods to ultimately create a process of achieving this step over and over again as needed. When writing reflects a lack of diversity there is a lack of diversity in the artistic mind. If that is what is desired there is no flaw to be found in specialization. When a painter paints they place many self-imposed limitations which sometimes serve to capitalize on their strengths in the medium. This challenge is no different. Some authors will be able to truly embrace these methods and see their craft expand. Other authors will find that this may not be what their style needs. The suggestions here are just that and for those looking for this level of expansion, these are a few basic theories to maybe get to that inclusive place that’s being sought.

About Suenammi Richards:

A Dallas Texas native, she is currently a freelance graphic designer and web developer living in Tampa, Florida. Her background includes visual art, graphic design, technical writing, musical composition, and vocal performance. She has graced stages of Baltimore and Dallas theaters as a live vocalist and composer of music for repertory dance concerts for college programs.


She began writing romance as a hobby as she completed her Bachelor's of Science in Simulation and Digital Entertainment and has continued as she completed her Master's in Learning Technologies with Drexel University.

Alison Morton - Editing guest post

Posted on January 27, 2017 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)


A big thank you to author Alison Morton for this helpful guest post on editing.


The first self-edit


When I’ve written the final sentence of the first draft, I don’t heave a sigh of relief. Why? Because all the work starts now.


Editing is a several stage process: self-edit, critique partner edit, (paid) structural edit, (paid) copy edit, proof-read. I don’t put the manuscript aside for a few weeks. It’s not good enough to enter the fallow meadow; it needs a good scything first.



 After a well-deserved lie-in or even a day off, I gird up, send the draft to my Kindle and read it through without interruption (apart from comfort breaks, food and sleep). I jot down quick notes or chapter references and then motor on. This way, I get the flavour of the book and find out if it works as a complete story. Doing this when the first draft is fresh in my mind has saved me hours of wasted writing time because any large faults leap out and hit me between the eyes.


The objective here is to ensure that the story hangs together as a narrative.


Next, I print the whole thing out in 1.5 line space. Lover of my Kindle that I am, I know I spot more little horrors on paper. One thing I particularly check is each character’s individual time line.




Next, I settle down to remedying the bumpy bits. With my latest book, RETALIO, I found places that needed a linking scene, or a couple of lines of description. I visualise each scene in my head and remind myself that readers need me to show them where the characters are and why they are there. The other danger with a book in a series – this is the sixth Roma Nova thriller and the third in the AURELIA cycle – is that not all readers will have read the previous ones. So this is the time to make sure necessary bits of backstory have been dripped in so the scenes are set properly but without unloading one word more on the reader than is necessary.


The nitty-gritty


1. Check your printout is complete – printers can miss a page!


2. Go back and do the research the fine points – somebody will take great delight in pointing out a certain vegetable or fabric wasn’t known at the time of your story.


3. Check the eye and hair colours and the height and build of your characters are consistent.


4. Make sure a character doesn’t know something before they’ve been told/found it out.


5. Make sure you don’t have it snowing in June in the northern hemisphere.


6. Fill in, yes add, description/narrative/dialogue where you skimmed over it and where it’s necessary.


7. Check your author voice is consistent and that characters use the correct register in their speech – are they educated/illiterate/speak a language variant/use technical vocabulary/ have a warm and friendly personality/speak in a clipped voice?


8. Substitute dynamic, strong and specific verbs for boring or general ones and turn passive sentences into active ones.


9. Examine every ‘very’, ‘then’, ‘mostly’, ‘quite’, ‘really’, ‘nearly’, etc. Most can be deleted. The only exception is in dialogue. And cast a stern eye over adjectives while you’re there. Do they enhance or pad?


10. Make every sentence a true gem – no "clunkiness", no gratuitous or padding words. Ask yourself if each sentence is necessary. If it doesn’t contribute to the story, then delete (however beautiful it is).


11. Read it aloud, all the way through – no cheating!


12. Make your eyes bleed by checking that every single comma, semi-colon, colon, speech mark, exclamation and question mark is necessary, in the right place and correctly typed.


After that, repeat 1 to 12.


Happy writing!





About Alison Morton


A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, Alison continues to be fascinated by that complex, power and value driven civilisation. Armed with an MA in history, six years’ military service and the love of a good thriller, she explores via her Roma Nova adventure thrillers the ‘what if’ idea of a modern Roman society run by strong women.


She is represented by Blake Friedman Literary Agency for overseas and ancillary rights.


Alison now lives in France with her husband, cultivates a Roman herb garden and drinks wine.




‘The second fall of Rome?’


Aurelia Mitela, ex-Praetorian and imperial councillor in Roma Nova, scoffs at her intelligence chief when he throws a red file on her desk.


But early 1980s Roma Nova, the last province of the Roman Empire that has survived into the twentieth century, has problems – a ruler frightened of governing, a centuries-old bureaucracy creaking for reform and, worst of all, a rising nationalist movement with a charismatic leader who wants to destroy Aurelia.


Horrified when her daughter is brutally attacked in a demonstration turned riot, Aurelia tries to rally resistance to the growing fear and instability. But it may already be too late to save Roma Nova from meltdown and herself from entrapment and destruction by her lifelong enemy.…


Watch the book trailer here


Social media links


Connect with Alison on her Roma Nova site: www.alison-morton.com


Facebook author page: www.facebook.com/AlisonMortonAuthor


Twitter: www.twitter.com/alison_morton @alison-morton


Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/5783095.Alison_Morton


Find the buying link for Alison’s latest book INSURRECTIO (multiple retailers/formats) here

When again? How to write nonlinear narrative

Posted on January 20, 2017 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Have you ever finished a chapter in one character’s point of view only to find the next chapter is written from somebody else’s perspective? Me too, and these mini cliff-hangers compel us to keep reading. Nonlinear narratives – stories where events don’t happen in chronological order – do this too. They are extremely useful for tension and pacing in a novel, but can be confusing to read and are notoriously difficult to write.

Movies such as Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and The Usual Suspects have nonlinear structures, as did the rom-com Sliding Doors. One could argue a movie is easier to follow. After all, visual cues can more readily demonstrate the subtle time shifts a reader might otherwise miss in a book.

In hindsight, attempting a nonlinear narrative for my first novel, Time After Time, was ambitious. Then again, I’d read many stories with that structure; for example Josie Lloyd & Emlyn Rees’ The Boy Next Door or, more recently, Jojo Moyes’ The Girl You Left Behind and Lisa Jewell’s The House We Grew Up In.

I was used to the concept of being shifted back and forth in time, and always enjoyed the suspense this created – unraveling the past and the present a little at a time and in alternating chapters was always a source of excitement for me.

When I began writing Time After Time I didn’t think of it as a ‘nonlinear narrative’. As far as I was concerned, it was a novel with a simple enough premise. Forty-something Hayley is unhappy with her life and wonders about the choices she made in the past. One morning she wakes up to find herself married to her first boyfriend, Chris, whom she hasn’t seen for twenty years. Cue doing this ...

At this point the nonlinear narrative kicks in – the story goes back to the late eighties when Hayley first met Chris, and explores how their relationship started and ultimately fell apart. Back in the alternate present Hayley learns how her life would be had she and Chris stayed together.

Right from the beginning I knew exactly how I wanted to portray my protagonist’s journey. Showing Hayley’s past and present in alternate chapters also enabled me to fully develop her character and those of her ex-boyfriends. In fact, if the novel were written in a linear narrative, the story wouldn’t make much sense and would have made readers do this ...

Not all novels work with a nonlinear structure. If you think yours will, and are unsure of how to go about writing it, here are some suggestions to help:

1) Write your idea as a short story first

A 2,000 word story is much easier to lay out in a non-chronological order than an 80,000 word novel. Start small, see how it works, and take it from there.


2) Use one point of view

If you can, stick to your main protagonist’s point of view. Writing a nonlinear story from one person’s perspective will be simpler than attempting to interweave chapters with different timelines and alternate POV’s.


3) Write the chapters in chronological order

At the very least make a list of events in chronological order so that you fully understand the timeline. If it’s not clear to you, chances are it won’t be to your reader either. 

4) Interweave the chapters

Once you’ve written the chapters (or list of events) in chronological order, print and physically interweave the pages to work out the best possible flow.


5) Ensure the past and present story lines continue in chronological order

Have fun taking your readers back in time but don’t time-hop all over the place or you’ll risk losing them. Confused? Fair enough. This is best illustrated with two examples:


Example 1

Chapter 1 January 2017

Chapter 2 April 1985

Chapter 3 February 2017

Chapter 4 May 1985

Example 2

Chapter 1 February 2017

Chapter 2 May 1985

Chapter 3 January 2017

Chapter 4 April 1985

In Example 1 there are two story lines; one in 2017 and the other in 1985. While the chapters are interwoven present/past, the story of 2017 follows in chronological order (January, February) as does the story set in 1985 (April, May).

In Example 2 the chapters shift from 2017 to 1985. However, they also jump backwards within each year (e.g. February to January of 2017, May to April of 1985). This is difficult to pull off because you’re “double-shifting” the reader.


6) Make the time shifts abundantly clear

Use a chapter heading with “XX years ago” or “Present Day” or just the date. This will remind the reader which story line they’re in.


7) Ask your beta-readers for feedback

Enquire specifically how they felt about the timeline and the structure of the story. What, if anything, did they find confusing?

Of course, these suggestions are made to be ignored. My second novel (working title The Secrets That Made Us) also has a nonlinear narrative. It was more complicated to write than Time After Time, which was purely from Hayley’s perspective (as per suggestion 2 above). The Secrets That Made Us has three points of view – definitely more challenging by far (a bit like me trying to do this ...)

I’m now working on my third novel which has a linear narrative, and I absolutely see the attraction of structuring a manuscript this way. So far it’s saved me lots of frustrated head scratching and under-my-breath muttering about the “ruddy timeline”. Then again the story wouldn’t lend itself to a nonlinear narrative, so there was little point in over complicating things for myself or a potential audience.

Whether you use a nonlinear narrative ultimately depends on your story. Start by asking yourself if it’ll lend itself to a more complicated timeline, if it’ll make the novel more compelling, and if it’s a journey you think you – and your readers – will enjoy.

Best of luck!


Judith Newton - Author in the Limelight

Posted on January 13, 2017 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)

This week's Limelight guest is Judith Newton, author of Oink, coming April 2017 and available for pre-order now.


Judy, you're an academic and a professor emerita of Women’s Studies. What made you decide to write a mystery?


Until I retired in 2008, most of my time was devoted to teaching, directing my program, and publishing academic work, not to mention raising my daughter, so even though I’d had an interest in writing nonacademic work, I couldn’t make it a priority.

I became interested in mystery, however, in the 1990s when I began visiting Santa Fe and reading the mysteries of Tony Hillerman. His main characters, Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn are Navajo detectives whose points of view, to some degree, come from the margins of mainstream U.S. culture.

I was taken by these novels, in large part, because I saw myself as being marginalized at my university, where I was director of the women’s studies program. In the 1990s the state was cutting the budget of the U.C. system and at Davis an increasingly corporate minded administration was threatening to defund the women’s and ethnic studies programs. Faculty from those programs joined together in a community that supported us and gave us heart as we struggled to save our programs, which we ultimately succeeded in doing.

When I retired and had the time, I decided to make this struggle between corporate and communal values the subject of a novel, and, following Hillerman, I decided to make my main characters people on the margins, faculty in women’s and ethnic studies. Also following Hillerman, I decided to cast the novel as a mystery. I wanted to engage serious subjects, while keeping readers hooked in, and I was aware that puzzles and unsolved crimes are one way of engaging reader interest.

One of the most prominent themes in Oink is the corporatization of the university, and while the main character, a professor, is investigating an attempted murder suspect she is also fighting against the administration’s bid to run the university like a corporation. How much does the latter come out of your personal experience in the academy?


A great deal of it came from my own experience. In the mid-1990s the state cut funding to the U.C. system and corporate financing of research was on the rise, especially in the sciences. Davis was transforming itself from a university focused on agriculture to one focused on biotechnologies. Administrators from outside the campus were being hired at princely salaries, and the school’s communal spirit seem to be giving way to an ethic based less on community— or on creating a wide ranging educational experience for its students—and more on profit. Trends like this were taking place nationally and internationally, of course, and so Oink’s “Arbor State” is meant to represent much wider developments in higher education.

The Hog Barn was an emblem of the past. Photo Davis Wiki.

 In the wake of budget cuts and an increasingly corporate administration, the first programs to be threatened with defunding were those of women’s and ethnic studies. You can imagine how happy I was to hear that.

The Institute for Analytical Dynamics was the future.


In the end, however, the administration’s efforts to downsize women’s and ethnic studies prompted the faculty in these programs to unite and to form a tight-knit community that became a powerful resource in resisting the newly corporate ethic and in successfully ensuring the survival of our programs.

Your main character, Emily Adams, is a foodie who loves cooking and sharing food with her colleagues and loved ones, and each chapter of Oink ends with a recipe that has been mentioned in the preceding pages. Talk about how food builds community among your characters and the role in plays in their common struggle to fight against corporate interests.


I decided that Oink would feature many scenes involving cooking and dining because, in real life, food had helped bring the community of women’s and ethnic studies faculty together at UC Davis. In an effort to bond with each other, we went to endless lunches, coffees, and dinners, attended each other’s receptions which always involved good things to eat, and even met for breakfast to discuss political strategies. I myself gave a serious of lavish buffets which always ended in dancing and which energized us and helped to deepen our sense of common cause.


In Oink, Emily cooks to be close with her daughter, and there are several moments when talking about food dissolves tension between women who are otherwise at odds. This is true, for example, when two police women come to Emily’s house to question her about the poisoning and the three begin describing their experience with cornbread. Emily also attends several receptions and meetings where food is served and while eating with her colleagues notices how breaking bread together builds up their sense of group belonging and increases their mutual trust. Sharing recipes with the reader seemed a way of extending this food-based communal experience outward.

As a writer, how do you balance trying to highlight political themes in your work with the demands of telling a good story? How hard or easy was it for you to do this in Oink?

The biggest issue I faced was how to write so that a general audience would read. I wrote Oink as a mystery because I was aware that puzzles and unsolved crimes keep people reading and that within different mystery genres there were additional inducements to reader engagement. Tony Hillerman, who was a big inspiration to me, uses elements of the thriller. I’m incapable of writing a thriller, however, and, at any rate, I wanted a different feel for my novel so I turned to another genre, that of the traditional mystery or cozy.

Traditional mysteries characteristically involve a small community (the university is such a community). They often feature a quirky sleuth, which, in my case, turned out to be a heightened version of myself—me and my quirks on steroids. They tend to supply humor, of which I gave a generous dose, and some involve food and come with recipes. Each of these can charm and thereby sustain interest, especially the humor and, in Oink’s case, the pigs.

Visit Judith's website to find out more www.judithnewton.com

Denise Deegan - Author in the Limelight

Posted on January 6, 2017 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)

This week's Limelight guest, Denise Deegan, is here to tell us about her non-traditional and exciting journey to becoming an author.


Hi Denise, and welcome to my blog. Let’s start with you telling us about yourself …


Hey, Hannah. Thanks for having me. It’s lovely to be here. Well, I’m a storyteller from Ireland who writes for adults and teenagers. I didn’t always want to be a writer. I’ve been a nurse, a china restorer, a pharmaceutical sales rep, a public relations officer, an entrepreneur and a college lecturer.

I stumbled into writing when I was doing a literature review for my masters in PR. I realised that a book should exist that didn’t. So I wrote it. It was a non-fiction book on activism but it gave me a taste for writing and a huge and inexplicable urge to tackle a novel.


Your eighth novel, Through The Barricades has just been released – congratulations! What can you tell us about the story?


Absolutely. It’s a story of friendship, love, war and revolution set in a very turbulent time in history. When Maggie and Daniel meet, Ireland is moving towards revolution and the world is lurching towards WW1. Dubliner Maggie Gilligan, carrying the weight of her dead father’s expectations, is willing to sacrifice everything for her country. Daniel Healy is willing to sacrifice everything for Maggie. Their mutual sacrifices put them on opposite sides of a revolution.

Your novel sounds incredibly intriguing. How did you go about writing a novel set in the early 1900s?


I did a huge amount of research. I read, watched and listened to everything I could. I discovered an amazing resource called The Bureau of Military History where there are actual witness statements from people who were involved in the revolution that became known as the Easter Rising of 1916. I also found a book written in 1917 detailing the experience of my Irish regiment in Gallipoli. I immersed myself in that world. I lived in it for two years. Even still, I feel very connected to the soldiers in the trenches. I passionately want people to know their story. It feels important.


What has your writing journey been like? Can you share the highs and lows, frustrations and jubilations?


It has been an ever-changing adventure. I gave up a business to write. I had no agent, no publisher and no idea for a book. I trusted my gut. And it all came together. That is the one constant of my publishing career: to go with my gut. Countless times, I’ve gone against traditional wisdom in this business. Every time my gut has been right.


So my journey is this: I wrote four novels of contemporary women’s fiction, which were published by publishers such as Penguin. Then, contrary to the traditional wisdom of sticking to a genre, I switched to writing Young Adult fiction. Why? Because those where the characters that arrived to me suddenly. (That is a whole story in itself!). Anyway, I wrote a YA contemporary trilogy called, The Butterfly Novels, which was published by Hachette and hugely loved.


The rights to my original novels reverted to me when they went out of print. Self-publishing had become an option now and I thought how amazing it would be to reach a global audience. So I embarked on a new adventure. I renamed myself Aimee Alexander (the names of my children combined), edited the novels once more and published them myself.

An editor subsequently approached me from Amazon imprint, Lake Union Publishing, wondering if I would be interested in selling them the rights of one of those novels, The Accidental Life of Greg Millar. I had been watching their books on Amazon. Their track record was amazing. I didn’t hesitate. With them, ‘Greg Millar’, as I affectionately call it, became an international bestseller on Kindle.


I have just self-published my latest novel, Through the Barricades. After writing for adults, then teens, then self-publishing for adults, this book is suitable for both audiences.


When and how did you discover your passion for writing? What did you write first?


It was really while writing that first book of non-fiction. There was nothing logical about it. I just got this sudden, overwhelming urge to write fiction.


My debut novel was called Turning Turtle (republished as All We Have Lost). It is the story of a woman who gives up her job to become a writer. It examines how the balance of power can change in a relationship when one income vanishes. The main character, Kim, though sassy and strong and bright, struggles to hold onto her identity (and at times sanity) as a young mother. A lot of women have told me that they identified with it. I identified with it! Everyone thought it was my life.


You also wrote The Butterfly Novels series. What can you share about those?


This is my teen trilogy and includes: And By The Way, And For Your Information and And Actually. Each book focuses on a different friend as the main character. So you get to learn the issues behind the surface of their lives. These are big issues like loss, parental separation, bullying, teen pregnancy etc.


So many teenagers have contacted me through social media to let me know how much the books have meant to them. Many have said that the books have helped them deal with issues. Many schools use my ‘Butterflies’ in their Rainbow scheme, which helps children experiencing loss. Sometimes looking at others struggling with your problem can help you work out a way forward yourself.


How did you go about finding an agent and surviving the dreaded querying process?


Well, I knew it would be tough. So I queried agents and editors I felt were most relevant to my work. (At the time, you could still query editors directly in Ireland. Perhaps you still can. It’s been a while.) Anyway, as I sent out letter after letter, I worked ahead on my next novel. I think that was hugely important – to keep writing – so that the rejections when they came wouldn’t stop me.


Once they started arriving, I focused on the letters that offered advice. They were encouraging me to keep writing – without actually making any commitment. One agent asked to meet me to give me advice on editing – again without making any commitment. I took his advice with gratitude then went to town on the manuscript, ripping it apart, adding a whole subplot. I got so into it that I put the second novel aside. Six weeks later, I had a properly edited manuscript. I sent it back to the agents and editors who had sent the ‘encouraging’ rejection letters. Two agents and one publisher offered to take me on. I was in business.


What did it feel like to get a book deal?


Well, with the first book deal, I was a bit ‘Irish!’ I didn’t want to get my hopes in case something went wrong and it fell through. I tried to contain my excitement until the contract was signed. That took so long it was too late for excitement! I was actually getting more excited for friends that were getting published than myself. So my advice is: if you get a book deal, celebrate like mad, Day One.


Of all the book deals I’ve signed, ironically, the most exciting one was the last one. It came from Lake Union Publishing and was totally unexpected. I didn’t have a book out on submission. So the last thing I expected was a call. Their (lovely) commissioning editor had noticed my books on Amazon. She read them and was calling with an offer.


I was sick at the time and just getting into bed when the call came through – I have still no idea how they got my number. It was the loveliest experience because it was just so out of the blue. There had been absolutely no expectation, no waiting around hoping. Just the call. And the magical offer.


Can you tell us about how you write? Any particular methods or quirks you can share?


This is where it gets strange. Hands up. I hear my characters’ dialogue in my head. This is how I ended up writing Young Adult fiction. The dialogue I was hearing changed suddenly to teenage. And the power of it blew me away. The passion, the anger, the sarcasm, the hurt, it all came with the dialogue. I felt Alex. I felt her emotion. I really had no choice. I had to write it down. I’m so glad I did.


I largely write the whole story as dialogue first – and whatever else comes along naturally. I don’t try to stop it or change it. I just keep going. So the story moves along nicely. And honestly. Once I’ve finished the manuscript, I start from scratch and build up the world of my characters.


I get most of my best ideas when I leave the computer. I walk, shower, drive, do housework and let the stories come. I do have to make notes, though, because it all goes so quickly from my mind.


What’s the most surprising thing you learned about yourself when you started writing creatively?


That it’s not really me doing the work. It’s as if I’m just there listening and the stories just channel through me. The reason that surprises me is that I am a very practical person. Things like that didn’t happen to me before I became a writer, before I walked away from my career and dedicated myself to storytelling.



What are your Top-5 tips for aspiring writers?


1) Follow your gut. Write what you want to. Write for you.

2) Tell no one when you’re starting off. You do not want the burden of other people’s expectations.

3) Keep going. Don’t keep going back over your stuff. You’ll weigh it down. Just go from A-Z.

4) Once you do get to the end, you can’t edit enough.

5) Remind yourself why you are doing this. You are doing it because you love it. Or at least I hope that’s why you’re doing it. There really is no other reason.



What do you like to do when you’re not writing?


Laugh. Hug. Walk in nature. Eat out. Go to movies. Chat with friends. Dance. Attend weddings. Eat chocolate. Meet my fans, especially the teenage ones. Be in the company of children. Sleep!



And finally, where can we find out more about you, and your work?





What a difference a year makes - Bye, bye 2016 & hello 2017

Posted on December 30, 2016 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)

This time last year I’d just found out HarperCollins would acquire my debut novel, Time After Time. I got the call from my agent as I left the hairdresser, and literally jumped up and down in the street. It was such a fabulous feeling and a wonderful Christmas present.

So much has happened in the last year when it comes to my writing. Not only was Time After Time published in June 2016, but I also worked on a number of other projects.

I finished my second adult novel, The Secrets That Made Us, which was submitted to publishers. While I’d hoped we’d have signed a deal by now, I’m confident it’ll happen in 2017. The publishing world does move slowly, and I have to keep reminding myself of that.

What else happened? I wrote stuff for kids! My early-grade chapter book went to publishers too, and we’re waiting for feedback. The middle-grade book I finished over the autumn is being critiqued by a professional editor. I’m hoping to submit it to various publishers before winter ends.

I’m now battling with my third adult novel. The shitty first draft stage doesn’t feel any easier, although knowing it’ll get better as the manuscript progresses does make me push through. I have ideas for my fourth novel trundling around in my head, so I’d better get on with it, right?

On top of the novel writing, I’ve also blogged a fair amount, committing to publishing a piece a week since the autumn, a few of which have been picked up by other writing sites and bloggers, which has been wonderful. I’ve been active on Twitter and Facebook, meeting other authors and editors along the way, and I’ve found the writing community incredibly supportive

This past year has cemented my desire to write. I still suffer from crippling self-doubt and go through stages of calling everything I’ve penned utter rubbish, but I keep coming back for more – I have to, I can’t stop myself. I now reply “I’m an author” when people ask what I do. I say it loud and proud. “I’m an author”, because I am.

Over the past twelve months I’ve had the fortune of making incredible friends who have all inspired and encouraged me in many different ways. I hope I’ve been able to return the favour equally.

I’ve also had the pleasure of working with brilliant editors, marketing experts and cover art designers via Avon UK. The experience has been nothing short of incredible and the level of commitment and professionalism has been second to none.

None of this would have been possible without the support of my husband Rob, and our three sons. Overhearing my oldest son tell an acquaintance “Mum writes brilliant books” was one of my proudest moments, and Rob’s encouragement means the world.

If the past year is anything to go by, I’m sure the next one will be nothing short of amazing. As 2016 comes to a close, I’d like to wish you and your loved ones all the very best for 2017.

Happy New Year & thanks for reading,

Hannah x

Lisa Marie Latino - Author in the Limelight

Posted on December 23, 2016 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)

It's time for another Limelight post. This week I'm interviewing Lisa Marie Latino, CEO of Long Shot Productions, and author of Ten Years Later.

Hi Lisa Marie, and welcome to my blog. Let’s start with you telling us about yourself …

Hi Hannah! Thank you for having me.


I’m CEO and executive producer of Long Shot Productions, a full- service media production company based in Fairfield, New Jersey. At Long Shot, we produce a variety of commercial, corporate, and entertainment videos that have taken us throughout the United States as well as Europe. In 2014, we co-launched HipNewJersey.com, an online lifestyle program featuring the latest trends around the Garden State.


Personally, I’ve appeared on a wide variety of local television, network cable, and radio shows, including TLC's "Cake Boss” and SNY's "Oh Yeah" and work in-season for the New York Giants Radio Network. I’ve also served as an adjunct broadcasting professor at Seton Hall University.

I graduated from Montclair State University in 2006 with a degree in broadcasting and speech communication and I currently live in New Jersey.

In 2016, I realized a life-long dream of mine and became a published author with the release of my debut novel, Ten Years Later.


Wow, that’s quite the resume! How did you find the time for writing as well?


It was hard to carve out “me” time to get the manuscript done, so I had to be sneaky about it. I would tell my business and personal contacts alike that I was “going away on business” and would rent hotel rooms for a few days at a time until I had the completed draft. I did this five or six times throughout the course of a year and a half. While it was a lot of work (and room service), I had a blast shutting myself off from the world and spending proper time with my characters.


What can you share about your debut novel, Ten Years Later?


Ten Years Later is about a girl that most people, especially millennials who are trying to find their niche in the “real world,” can relate to.


We first meet Carla D’Agostino while she’s in the throes of a major quarter-life crisis. She's stuck in a seemingly dead-end job, single, and still living with her overbearing parents. To add fuel to the fire, she realizes her ten-year high school reunion is fast approaching, and her frustration multiplies when she starts comparing herself to her “more successful” peers.


Determined to show up to the reunion a winner, she strives and schemes to achieve her heart’s desires— true love, a career as a sports radio talk show host, independence away from her family and more. Ten Years Later follows Carla throughout her year-long journey of “perfection” and we see the highs and lows of what that entails.

Sounds intriguing! Is it all fiction?


People think that Carla and I are the same person because we share a similar background, but I gave the character her own set of circumstances. If Carla was me and vice versa, it would be a whole different, weirder story!

What made you decide to self-publish rather than go the traditional route?


Don’t get me wrong; I TRIED going the traditional route. And for first-time authors that traditionally means getting rejected time and time again by agents, which happened about fifty times to me. That got pretty tiring, so I leaned on my entrepreneurial experience and decided to do this on my own. I enlisted a professional editor, cover artist and proof readers to perfect the final product, put together a plan of action, and as of October 4, 2016, opened for business!

What has your writing journey been like? Can you share the highs and lows, frustrations and jubilation?


Writing the book was the easy, fun, effortless part; the aftermath of the finished manuscript was nothing short of grueling. Deleting some parts per my editor’s suggestions was tough. Fine-tuning grammatical errors per my proof-readers’ sharp eyes was even tougher. But I relied on my passion for the story to get me through the mundane times, and it paid off


When and how did you discover your passion for writing? What did you write first?


I’ve had a passion for it as long as I could remember. I have big imagination, and creative writing was one of my favorite subjects in school. I really developed my skill in college, when I vowed to write in my journal every day to capture the adventures I was embarking on. College was my first taste of the “real world” and I’ve had no shortage of inspiration ever since!



Can you tell us about how you write? Any particular methods or quirks you can share?


I feel very “brave” when I am writing. I feel that, because I write with abandon, the words come out more sharp-tongued and witty than they do in my verbal life. While I am far from shy, it’s more comfortable to be confrontational or fearless in writing than in “real life,” and my writing reflects that freedom.


What’s the most surprising thing you learned about yourself when you started writing creatively?


When I was younger, I always admired people who are naturally-gifted singers, ballplayers, or artists— admired, and envied. I often wondered what my natural God-given talent was. When I fell into creative writing, I realized the instincts and talent I was blessed with.


What are your Top-5 tips for aspiring writers?


1) Keep at it— never give up.

2) Read books in your genre to get a sense of what other readers are looking for.

3) Journal; your best inspiration will come from real life!

4) Don’t get dejected by rejected. In this day and age, it’s very easy to get your work out there without the help of a traditional publisher.

5) Make sure you are writing something you are passionate about. It should be FUN!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?


I am an avid sports fan, so depending on the season I’m either watching football or baseball. I love all genres of music, and enjoy getting lost inside my favorite songs. I’m very lucky to say that my work is my passion in life, so writing scripts/producing/hosting/marketing/etc. is honestly just a paid hobby of mine.

And finally, where can we find out more about you, and your work?


You can find more about me on LisaMarieLatino.com or on my social media sites! Facebook, Twitter or Instagram