Interview with Our President–Debut Author Ane Mulligan. The Picture of Perserverence!

While a large, floppy straw hat is
her favorite, Ane has worn many different ones: hairdresser, legislative
affairs director (that’s a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director,
playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. Her lifetime experience provides a
plethora of fodder for her Southern-fried fiction (try saying that three times
fast). She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food
groups. President of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket, Ane resides
in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband, her chef son, and two very large dogs. You can find Ane on her
Southern-fried Fiction website, Google+, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Tell us about your debut book.
Chapel Springs Revival is a romp through miscommunication in
marriage and in general. The town of Chapel Springs is in need of reviving to
being back the tourists. Little did best friends Claire and Patsy realize their
marriages are in as much need of reviving as the town.
Your cover isn’t the run of the mill stock photo. Tell us how it came to be.
Not long after I was contracted, I was talking with my publisher about the cover

for Chapel Spring Revival. I knew I wanted the village instead of a person. As we talked, I mentioned my husband is an artist, and Eddie said he could do the artwork for the cover if I wanted. Did I ever!

However, when Hubs agreed, he didn’t realize Chapel Springs only existed in my mind. Even there, I didn’t have the visual of the buildings, but the feel of everything, the ambiance. He had quite a job of pulling that out of my imagination. I mean, there isn’t a lot going on in there, except voices and stories, but somehow he did it. And one day, I walked into his studio and Chapel Springs sat on his easel. 
NR: Leave a comment for Ane and be entered in a drawing for a copy of her book. 

To be entered in a drawing for a giclee reproduction (print on canvas, ready for framing) of the original artwork for her cover (only 3 giclee have been made) go to here

Your writing journey has been a crazy
wandering path. You’ve been around since Noah got off the ark. Tell us what
happened.
It’s true. I started
writing novels in 2003. After about four years, I was going to committee, but
every time something weird happened. Well, besides the fist few rejections.
Then I went to pub board, but the acquiring editor retired and her hard drive
was wiped clean. The hard drive on which my novel was waiting.
Then my second
agent retired to go into publishing. They were publishing works that authors
had received back their rights. I hadn’t published the first time yet, so that
was out for me. When I signed with Sandra Bishop, I
warned her to be very careful.
But Sandra wasn’t
intimidated. She worked hard and finally, after close to a twelve-year journey, my debut
book released yesterday.
What are the three main things that changed
the way you write?
That’s easy because
these were real “light-bulb moments” in my writing career.
The late,
wonderfully funny Ron Benrey’s Magic
Paragraph
was the first. It has served a proven tool in my writing. With
permission granted from Janet Benrey, here is the Magic Paragraph (and
I highly recommend anyone get his book, The Idiot’s Guide to Writing
Christian Fiction
)
        
1.   
Signal which head to enter
2.   
Twang an appropriate sense, emotion or
mental faculty
3.   
Show appropriate action
4.   
Repeat if necessary
The next was Debra Dixon’s GMC: Goal,
Motivation, & Conflict
. If you don’t have it in your personal
library, get it. Use the link here, because if you go to Amazon, it will cost
you four times what it will on her site. What I got fro her book is motivation
is the foundation for plotting. If you know the WHY the character does what she
does, your reader will follow her through anything.
The third one is the “Lie” the character believes
about themselves. This deepens motivation. If we know that, we can know the
core motivation. This totally changed the way I saw my characters and plotting.
Author Amy Wallace and I sat in a Starbucks when she taught me about the lies.
I’ll climb off my
soapbox now.
How much of you will we find in your debut
book characters?
I think all
characters have some of their creator’s traits. Claire is like me in that she
moves before she thinks. I’m forever getting hurt or into a mess because of it.
Another trait of hers I wish I had is she speaks without a filter. I sometimes
wish I had said what was in my mind, but I’m too inhibited. Quit laughing. I
am.
What are three things most people don’t know
about you?
Are we sure we want
them to know? Okay,
1) I’m the founding
president of a start-up community theater, Players Guild@Sugar Hill. We just
presented out first production this past weekend.
2) I once sat in
England’s former Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher’s seat in the House of Commons
dining room.
3) For several
months when I was about four, I shared a car with my daddy and the German
scientist Wernher von Braun every morning.
What’s next?
The sequel to
Chapel Springs Revival is done. It’s called Chapel Springs Survival—can they survive
the revival? It was a blast to write since it was written in retaliation. Our
son got himself a modern day mail order bride and didn’t tell us until nearly
two years after her met her. I told him for keeping his mother in the dark, the
story would go in a book. After all, it’s not nice to fool Mother. It’s not
safe either.
With a friend like Claire, you need a
gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel
.
Everybody in the
small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire and Patsy.
It’s impossible not to, what with Claire’s zany antics and Patsy’s
self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds.
Chapel Springs has grown dilapidated and the tourist trade has slackened. With
their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to revitalize the town. No one
could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is personal.
With their
marriages in as much disarray as the town, Claire and Patsy embark on a mission
of mishaps and miscommunication, determined to restore warmth to Chapel Springs
—and their lives. That is if they can convince their husbands and the town
council, led by two curmudgeons who would prefer to see Chapel Springs left in
the fifties and closed to traffic. 

Is your writing like Julie Andrews, Etta James or Lady Gaga?

Blending Southern and Native American fiction, Lisa
Carter
writes “Sweet Tea
with a Slice of Murder
”. Her latest release is Under a Turquoise Sky.
She is the author of two previous romantic suspense novels, Carolina Reckoning
and Beneath A Navajo Moon;
and Aloha Rose,
a contemporary romance in the Quilts of Love
series. She and her family make their home in North Carolina. When she isn’t
writing, Lisa enjoys traveling to romantic locales, teaching writing workshops,
and researching her next exotic adventure. She has strong opinions on barbecue
and ACC basketball. Connect with Lisa on Facebook,
Twitter,
or Pinterest

Learning
to maximize your voice

Each
story has a flow of sound like music. A unique beat, rhythm, tone. Writers,
too, have a voice, recognizable throughout their entire body of work. Some
singers have a crystal clear quality of tonality like Julie Andrews. I think of
it as a bubbling, high arching fountain. Others, a deep, full sound like Etta
James with a rich, Mississippi River quality.
Editors
and agents look for authors with a strong or unique “voice.” Your writing voice
is already part of you, the sum total of your personality and experiences. The
indefinable essence of who you are—
Your
voice is defined by what you have to say and how you choose to say it.
Writing voice will be determined by—
Gender—Tom Clancy will never be
mistaken for Barbara Cartland
Time period—Herman Melville vs. Ernest
Hemingway
Culture—Charles Frazier vs. Maya
Angelou
Target audience—J.K. Rowling vs.
Nicholas Sparks
Area of expertise—John Grisham vs. Kathy
Reichs
•Worldview—F. Scott Fitzgerald vs.
Francine Rivers
Writers
reveal a great deal about themselves—more so than they realize—in the stories
they feel compelled to tell, in their empathy for characters they create, in
their passion for particular story themes, and the insight with which they
develop character actions/reactions.
Your
natural writing voice will flow—and overflow—out of the abundance of your
individual life journey. It is only out of this—what you know plus a good dose
of an innate ability to imagine—that will enable you to write with honesty,
conviction and courage.
The
story itself also impacts the rhythm or beat of the music. Some novels will
start out fast, hard-hitting, leaving you breathless on the edge of your seat
as you turn each page. Other books begin at a slower pace with a tease, a
promise, building a crescendo of tension or romance.
How to Enhance Your Natural Writing Voice
.   1.    Read—Writers are readers first. Your choice
of reading material is often a good indicator of a writing style that resonates
with you and what you write. Reading can develop your natural gift and quicken
the cadence of your writing “ear.”
2.     Write—Your writing voice is like a
muscle. You must exercise this muscle to fine tune and develop the gift that
lies within. Write what you see and think and know. Hone your observation
skills.
3.     Listen—When people speak, tune your ear
to the subtlety of what they’re really saying. Find what’s authentic and transfer
that authenticity to your words.
4.     Discover—What is your passion? What do
you love? What draws you? More than just writing what you know—write about what
makes you want to get out of bed every morning.
5.     Embrace—Find other authors who “get”
you and the stories your heart longs to tell. Sometimes it requires a
friend/outsider to help you to identify your true voice. Most of us,
consciously or not, find ourselves writing book after book that reflect a
central life theme/truism for us as individuals. Probably arising out of the
broken home of my childhood, the stories my heart wants to tell revolve around
creating family, restoration and hope.
6.     Release—Let go of the fear that holds
you back from expressing your truest self. Learn to trust your voice. Authority,
power and confidence come with the repeated practice of expression. Continue to
grow your voice with new experiences; beware of complacence and stagnation.
Strengthen the
natural range of your voice—vocalists always begin with arpeggio exercise runs
just as athletes develop their own muscle warm up routines. Deepen your
characters. Dig down deep to their—and your—emotional heart.
Writing is not
for the timid. As one author once lamented, “Every morning I sit down, figuratively
slit my emotional veins, and bleed out all over the screen.” Don’t be afraid to
confront your personal barriers to truth in voice.
Because if you
are unwilling to go to that heart place, you may not have any true song to
sing.

Under a Turquoise Sky

When federal agent Aaron Yazzie is assigned to protect the only witness to a drug cartel execution, he hides Kailyn Eudailey in the safest place he knows . . . the vast, untamed wilderness of the Navajo Reservation.

Transporting Kailyn to New Mexico may not be as easy as Aaron would like. Kailyn is a high-maintenance Southern belle who is determined to
assert her independence at every step. Although Aaron’s job is to protect her from the dangers that could get them both killed, Kailyn is getting to him. As an undercover agent, Aaron has grown adept at
playing many roles. But will he be able to embrace his true identity and God’s plan for his life in order to keep Kailyn alive?

I Wrote Like Snoopy…

I cut my authorial teeth on
dialogue as a playwright. I was the creative arts director for 11 years at my
church. We did everything from the 30-second sermon starter to full-length
musicals. When I first wrote my first few scripts, my actors often used
different words that I’d written, or they changed the sentences around, and
even…gasp…dropped words.
But I liked what I heard, so I
dissected the changes and found the common ground. I wrote like Snoopy, trying
to be literary. Gag. The lines were too perfect and not realistic.
Have you read a book where the
dialogue actually pulls you out of the story because it’s so stiff and
unbelievable? Or worse, it sounds like an info dump, as if the writer’s saying,
“You won’t understand this unless I explain it to you.”
Well, thank you Billy Sunday.
That’ll make me throw a book across the room faster than a politician can empty
your wallet. Unless it’s on my e-reader; then I’d delete it before it
contaminated the other e-books.
So what does make good dialogue
in a book?
It has to be realistic for
starters. And it has to be organic to your character. If you’re an Oregonian
and writing about a Southern Belle, you’d better have a Cousin Sue Ellen read
your manuscript, or it may well be stereotyped. The same goes for Sue Ellen
writing about a Yankee.
What if you’re writing a young
adult book and don’t have any teens or twenty-somethings living at home, and
you aren’t sure how the characters would really talk? Go to a local mall and
hang out in the food court and eavesdrop. Listen to the half sentences,
colloquialisms, and especially to the way people answer questions.
One mistake new writers often
make is found in the way characters answer questions.
“Good morning, Bob. Where
are you headed this fine morning?”
“Good morning, John. I’m
going to the hardware store to get a new float for the toilet.”
First of all, we don’t really
care about Bob’s toilet, unless his four-year-old flushed the latest Wiki-leaks
state secrets. A bit more realistic might sound like this:
“Morning, Bob. Where you
off to?”
“Hardware store.”
“Anything I can help
with?”
“I got it.”
“Okay, holler if you need
me.”
That’s how two neighboring men
would have this conversation. If it were women, it still wouldn’t be complete
sentences, but it might go something like this:
“Morning, Sally. Going
shopping?”
“Macy’s is having a huge
sale, and you know those new slip covers I got for the den sofa? John ruined it
with cranberry juice.”
“I hear you. Bob got
mustard on my bedspread. Why can’t they be more careful?”
“I think it’s in their
genes.”
“Yeah, he got mustard on
those, too.”
Anyway, you can see how their
conversation veered off the main track. We women do that. Men, not so much.
In romance, Jenny B, Jones is a
master at building conflict into dialogue. A few lines from Save the Date illustrate this point
well:
“Do you know anything about
football?”
“You toss around a ball and
throw people to the ground. What else is there to know?”
“Okay then, what’s a
birdcage?”
“The name of the bar where
you met your last girlfriend?”
“A cut?”
“A fantasy I have involving
your throat.”
She never answered his questions
seriously and he kept asking instead of commenting on what she said. It was
brilliant dialogue for building character and a great example of verbal
ping-pong.
For realistic dialogue, remember
to:
Study they way dialogue is
written in books you love
Listen to people engage in
conversation and study their responses

Do you have any great examples
of dialogue to share with us?

Tag Lines to Hook a Reader

Tag line or Logline?
A logline tells you what a movie or book will be
about—the main conflict, the main character, and the stakes.
 A tag line is a catch phrase. It doesn’t tell you
anything specific about the story, but it does give you a feel for it in a way
that a logline can’t. A tag line is what you see on movie posters.
What I want to talk
about are tag lines. What constitutes a good one for a novel? In my way of
thinking, which I admit has always been a little off step, is to summarize the
story idea in a single sentence. Write a catch phrase—a hook—that makes people
want to pick up the book and read it.
Author Stacey Nash describes a tag line
for books as “a one-sentence summary of your story. Its goal is to intrigue and
make the person that you are delivering it to want to read the story. The most
important thing about the tag line is that it needs to be high concept. It
should sum up the entire plot in one quick compelling sentence.”
In my debut novel,
my tag line is: With a friend like
Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel
. That tells you in one sentence of 15 words exactly what you’re
going to get in the book: a lighthearted read, with a heroine who is always in
the middle of trouble, and there’s a friend involved.
Rose McCauley worked on hers for a book placed in Perfect, Kentucky. She sent me what she had
but wanted to shorten it. Her original was something like: “In Perfect,
Kentucky, not much happens that isn’t perfect until she discover
whatever-it-was.” I can’t remember the last part. What I saw, reading
that, was this: Perfect, Kentucky isn’t
always
. Four words tell it all.
Randy Ingermanson, the Snowflake guy, says to
keep it under 20 words. I agree but always try for the fewest possible. In my
opinion, some examples of excellent tag lines are:
Secrets can be funny things ~ Secrets
over Sweet Tea
, by Denise Hildreth
Jones
. It gives

a hint of the style, written with some humor, and that
secrets are involved. That tag line made me buy the book.

One ring
to rule them all
~ Lord of the Rings,
JRR Tolkien
What
if she
never
came home . . . ?
~ The
Face of the Earth,
by Deborah Raney
Life’s
a journey. Midlife’s an adventure
. ~ RV There Yet? By Diann Hunt
Behind every broken vow lies a broken heart. ~
Dry as Rain
by Gina Holmes
Your day starts by being jilted at the altar. It’s
about to get a lot worse
. ~ Keeper of the Bride by Tess
Gerritsen
When they came for him, it was time to run. ~ Don’t Leave
Me
by James Scott Bell
Nice
guys finish last. Meet the winners. ~
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Okay it’s a movie
but that’s a great tag line. The thing is, we can take the idea, the layout
from these and create good ones of our own.
So, what tag lines
have you found irresistible or written yourself? I’d love to see them.
Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried
fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. Her debut book, Chapel Springs Revival, is due out in
2014. She’s a three-time Genesis finalist, a
humor columnist for the ACFW Journal,
and a multi-published playwright. She resides in
Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband and two very large dogs.