Barbara Davis ~ A Southern Writer Moving On Up

I met Barbara at
a booksigning, bought two of her books and knew I had to introduce her to Novel Rocket’s
readers. I believe you’ll see her climb to the top of this industry. I love her
books, and have pre-ordered Summer at Hideaway Key!
After
spending more than a decade as a corporate executive in the jewelry business, Barbara decided to leave the
corporate world to finally pursue her lifelong passion for writing. The
Secrets She Carried
was her first novel, published by Penguin/NAL in 2013,
followed by The Wishing Tide in 2014.
She currently lives in Dover, New Hampshire, with the love of her life, Tom,
and their beloved ginger cat, Simon. Sumer
at Hideaway Key
is her third novel and releases on August 4, 2015. She is
currently working on her fourth book, anticipated in 2016.       
What sparked the story for this novel?
The idea for Summer at Hideaway Key had been
percolating for almost twenty years, long before I ever believed I would write
professionally. As with so much fiction, the bones of the story are drawn from real
life, inspired by a pair of sisters, who as young girls, actually found
themselves abandoned at an actual poor farm. And while Lily-Mae and Caroline’s
stories are purely fictional, the tales of these two sisters and the
institution where they lived played in an enormous role in my desire to tell
this story.
Share a bit of your journey to
publication. Was it short or long?
My journey was
definitely a short one, almost ridiculously so. After being laid off from my
job in 2009 I was faced with a choice. Sell my house and move to another state
in order to get another job in my field, or leave the jewelry business and chase
my dream. For my husband it was a no brainer; I needed to chase my dream.
I was about
halfway through my first novel, The
Secrets She Carried
, when I decided it was time to get some feedback. I
joined a local writer’s group, and at the second meeting a portion of my novel
was up for critique. As it happened, unknown to me or anyone else in the group,
a literary agent from New York was sitting at the table.
At the end of
the meeting she introduced herself and asked to see more of my novel. Somehow,
I managed to form the word yes. Two
weeks later, I had an agency contract, and three weeks after I finished the
book and we started shopping Secrets,
I had a two-book deal with Penguin. It was like a dream come true. Sometimes I
still have to pinch myself. 
What would you do if you didn’t write?
I spent about
fifteen years in the veterinary field, as an animal health tech and hospital
administrator. The hospital I worked with was heavily involved in animal
welfare, providing low cost or no cost services for shelter and rescue
organizations. It was hard emotionally, at times, but very fulfilling work, so
I think I would probably go back to doing something like that.
What makes you struggle as an author?
How do you handle it?
I think the
biggest struggle I have is trying to figure out how to balance actual writing
with the marketing and networking aspects—the business end of things, I guess
you’d say. It can be very time consuming, and it’s hard sometimes to know where
to put your energy at any given moment.
Between
touring, interviews, signings, and appearances, it can be hard to nail yourself
in your chair and get actual writing done. I’m also a huge believer in paying
it forward, helping new authors learn the ropes and navigate the waters, so
that’s something else I have to consciously carve out time for. It’s a constant
juggling act, and I thank God for my Franklin Covey planner. Yes, I’m old
school. I write things down, and cross things off. It keeps me sane, and moving
forward.
My official office space
Where do you write: In a cave, a
coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?
I’m fortunate in that I
can write literally anywhere, as long as I have my MacBook. I do have an
office, which I just set up when we moved to our loft apartment in New
Hampshire. I also tend to write sitting cross-legged on my bed with old black and
white movies playing in the background, or in the car when we’re on our way to
the mountains or the beach. Like I said, I can write anywhere as long as
there’s no music.
Do you prefer the creating or editing
aspect of writing? Why?
I’d have to
say creating, because for me that’s where the magic happens. I love finding and
honing a character’s particular voice, and creating worlds my readers can hear
and smell and taste. I also tend to heavily edit as I go, so sometimes with my
process, the two blur together.
Do you consider yourself a visual
writer? If so, what visuals do you use?
I guess I must
be. As part of my outlining process—yes, I am a maniacal plotter and outliner—I
select and arrange photos that represent my ideals of each character and
setting in a particular book. I’m always on the lookout for images that put me
into the world I’m writing about, and refer back to them frequently.  
What are your top 3 recommendations for
a new writer?
1)   
Read really good books in your chosen
genre
– Study them for
craft and technique, make notes, highlight passages that speak to you, and then
ask yourself what those a-ha passages
have to teach you.
2)   
Learn to outline – Try more than one system until you
find one that works for you, then force yourself to stick with it and not quit
because it’s too hard. Plotting your story before
you begin writing can save you months of aimless wandering, and countless
scrapped drafts. (and your editor will absolutely love you!) Don’t be scared. You
can still be creative and flexible while working from an outline.  
3)   
Seek feedback – Create a network unbiased critique partner (other
writers) and beta readers (non-writers) to read your work and give honest
feedback. Then, and here’s the most important part, listen to what they tell you, and if you feel it has merit, however
hard it may be to hear, get busy working on those areas.
Then what 3 things would recommend not doing?
1) Don’t confuse word count with productivity – Write every single day, but shoot for
quality, not quantity. The only
words that count are the ones you wind up keeping, so spend some time reaching
for those, and don’t worry about filling up pages.
2) Find your voice instead of using someone else’s – Don’t try to write like anyone else,
no matter how popular they are, or how much you love their work. Strive for
authenticity, not genius or style. Write from your heart, and tell your story
from your gut.
3) Don’t wait until everything is perfect to begin. Start now—today—and write what you
can in the time and space you have. You don’t need to win the lottery, quit
your job, or have a fancy office. You only need to put words on paper. Write
today. Write every day. Just write.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently
working on novel number four, which is about a young woman who, after a full
year, is still grieving the suicide of her fiancé. She spends every spare
moment at the cemetery, trying to understand what happened and finally come to
terms with her grief. Then one day an old woman appears, clearly as grief-stricken
as she. She watches as the woman leaves a letter on a neighboring grave. When
the woman leaves, she can’t help herself. She picks up the letter and reads it,
and soon finds herself embroiled in a decades old family secret involving a
woman who’s been dead for thirty years.
Summer at Hideaway Key
Pragmatic, independent
Lily St. Claire has never been a beachgoer. But when her late father leaves her
a small house on Hideaway Key—one neither her mother nor she knew he
owned—she’s determined to visit the sleepy spit of land along Florida’s Gulf
Coast. Expecting a quaint cottage, Lily instead finds a bungalow with peeling
shutters and mountains of memorabilia. She also catches a glimpse of the architect
who lives down the beach…
But it’s the carton of old
journals in the front room that she finds most intriguing. The journals were
written by her mother’s sister, an infamous beauty whose name has long been
banned from the St. Claire home. The journals tell a family tale Lily has never
heard, of her mother and her aunt as young girls in Tennessee and the secrets
that followed them into adulthood. As she reads, Lily gains a new
understanding: about her family and about herself. And she begins to open her
heart—to this place, these people, and the man next door. But can she ever
truly learn to trust, to believe that love is not a trap but a harbor? And is
it true that hearts, even broken ones, can be forged anew? 

A Visit to a Friend’s Home Births a Novel

Jo
Huddleston is a multi-published author of books, articles, and short stories.
Her debut novels in the Caney Creek Series and her latest book, Wait for Me are sweet Southern romances.
She is a member of ACFW, the Literary Hall of Fame at Lincoln Memorial
University (TN), and holds a M.Ed. degree from Mississippi State University. Jo
lives in the U.S. Southeast with her husband, near their two grown children and
four grandchildren. Find Jo on her website,
her blog, Facebook, and Goodreads.

What sparked the story
for this novel?
When I
wrote my latest novel, Wait for Me, I
had been to a real coal mining community one time. One memorable time. I went
home from college with a friend for a weekend. Her home was in the coal mining
region in southern West Virginia.
We had
arrived at my friend’s home after dark and I did not see any part of the coal
community until the next day. My friend took me to the company store. When we
left the store and stood on the wide porch, I saw the tipple. An imposing
structure towering above all else around it.
The
memory of that tipple burrowed deep within my mind. When I began writing for
publication, I wanted to write a book about a coal camp and its tipple. I write
sweet Southern romances with settings I know. My first published fiction
series, the Caney Creek Series, was set in the southern Appalachians of East
Tennessee. I decided to release that memory of a coal tipple and set my second
fiction series in the coal-mining region of West Virginia.
Share a bit of your
journey to publication. Was it short or long?
My journey to publication was interrupted. I had traditionally
published three nonfiction titles and over 200 articles and short stories in
more than fifty well-known periodicals. I had begun to mull over a novel idea
but then I experienced a health issue that prevented me from writing with pen
and paper or on a keyboard.
For seven years my body wouldn’t do what my brain told it to do.
But I recovered somewhat and could get back to the keyboard. During those seven
years I had a lot of
time to meditate. A relative marvels that I’ve never questioned “God, why me?”
I have not become bitter because of the health issue. I think God just gave me
time to understand a lot of things when I was inactive.
I’m
a more peaceful, patient, and faithful me. The writing journey is never-ending.
How could I not write? What writing ability I have comes from God and I
must be the best steward of that gift that I can be.
What would you do if
you didn’t write?
I’d have more time to read!
What makes you
struggle as an author? How do you handle it?
Marketing causes me to struggle a bit. Writing is not a struggle.
As for the marketing, I just buckle down and do it. I don’t stress over it and
I know how much I can do and what I cannot comfortably do.
Where do you write: In
a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?
In a
corner of a bedroom I have a desk that’s anchored by a laptop, printer, lamp,
and ordered stacks of paper. I used this desk while in high school.
Do you prefer the
creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?
I prefer the creating aspect of writing. I’m a pantster writer—I
plot only in my head. When I write, my story is a stream of creativity that I
want nothing to slow or stop. I see my characters say and do things that
surprise me and I smile. Writing is a joy. The editing aspect of writing is
more like work.
Do you consider
yourself a visual writer? If so, what visuals do you use?
Visuals in my mind, from my personal experience or research, not
physical visuals I need to see.
What are your top 3
recommendations for a new writer?
1.   Ask God to help you
write before your fingers touch the keyboard each day.
2.   Be teachable.
3.   If writing for
publication, be patient.
Then what 3 things
would recommend not doing?
1.   You can benefit from
reading other authors in your genre, but don’t try to copy them. Use your own
unique voice to write your story.
2.   Heed the rules of the
writing craft. But don’t get so hamstrung by the rules that your creativity
suffers.
3.   Don’t try to write for
the trends that may appear to be popular. By the time you would finish your
manuscript, that trend may have vanished.
What’s next for you?
Book 2 in the West Virginia Mountains Series. I don’t have a title
yet—I usually get my titles from a scene or chapter in the book as I write.

Can Julie, an only child raised with privilege and groomed
for high society, and Robby, a coal miner’s son, escape the binds of their
socioeconomic backgrounds? Set in a coal mining community in West Virginia in
the 1950s, can their love survive their cultural boundaries?

This is a tragically beautiful love story of a simple yet
deep love between two soul mates, Robby and Julie. The American South’s
rigid caste system and her mother demand that Julie chooses to marry an
ambitious young man from a prominent and suitable family. Julie counters her
mother’s stringent social rules with deception and secrets in order to keep
Robby in her life. Can the couple break the shackles of polite society and
spend their lives together? Will Julie’s mother ever accept Robby?

The Uber Imaginative Tosca Lee

by Yvonne Lehman

Tosca Lee is the
multi award-winning, New York Times bestselling novelist of Demon: A Memoir, Havah: The Story of EveIscariotThe Legend of Sheba, and The Books of Mortals series (Forbidden, Mortal, Sovereign) with New
York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker. She is best known for her exploration
of maligned characters, lyrical prose and meticulous research. Tosca received
her B.A. in English and International Relations from Smith College and has also
studied at Oxford University. A former first runner-up to Mrs. United States
and lifelong world adventure/traveler, Tosca makes her home in the Midwest. For
more on Tosca, please visit her website.  

Ismeni
2015 ECPA book of the year finalist and
2014 Library Journal top pick The Legend
of Sheba
releases in paperback May 19. Ismeni,
the FREE eBook prequel to The Legend of
Sheba
is available anywhere eBooks are sold. Tosca’s previous novel, Iscariot, the first-hand story of the
infamous betrayer of Christ, won 2014 ECPA book of the year.

The Legend of Sheba
960 BC. The king of
Sheba is dead and Bilqis, his exiled daughter, has gained the crown after a
desperate overland march and battle for the capital. Solomon, the brash
king of Israel famous for his wealth and wisdom, will not be denied the tribute
of the world—or the riches of Sheba. With the future of her nation at stake,
the one woman who can match wits with Solomon undertakes the journey of a
lifetime in a daring bid save her kingdom.
An explosive
retelling of the legendary king and queen, and the nations that shaped history. 

Fun
facts about Tosca
  • This former first runner-up Mrs. United
    States hates washing her hair and regularly posts candid working shots on her
    Facebook Writer-Cam.
    Yes, she is usually wearing the same outfit two days in a row.
  • Tosca’s mother is Caucasian and her
    father is Korean. They were denied a marriage license on the basis of race in
    1968. Growing up as a bi-racial child in the 70s, Tosca experienced racism
    first-hand.
  • Tosca is the stepmother to four kids
    ages 11 (twins) to 19.
  • As a classically trained ballerina, she
    danced semi-professionally at the age of 14 until injuries took their toll and
    sidelined career aspirations. The idea of writing novels came later, in
    college.
  • Her first writing job was on the staff
    of Smart Computing magazine in the early 90s. Yup, she’s a nerd.
  • She is a boxing fan and loves to shoot
    stuff—most notably, exploding targets. She also loves to fish. Cleaning fish,
    not so much. 
Yvonne Lehman is an award-winning, best-selling author of more than 3,000,000 books in print, who founded and directed the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for 25 years, is now director of the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat. She mentors for the Christian Writers Guild. She earned a Master’s Degree in English from Western Carolina University and has taught English and Creative Writing on the college level. Her latest releases include eight ebooks for Barbour’s Truly Yours line and a Harlequin/Heartsong series set in Savannah GA: The Caretaker’s Son, Lessons in Love, Seeking Mr. Perfect, (released in March, August, & November 2013). Her 50th novel is Hearts that Survive – A Novel of the TITANIC

Twelve Tips For Your Bio

Writing a bio isn’t as hard
as you think. Okay, maybe it is, but not if you have an idea of what to put in
it. If you’re a new writer and getting ready to pitch at a conference, you need
a bio. So, here’s a handy dandy list of ideas.
Start with your name. I
know, basic, right? But someone might be tempted to use JK Rowling’s, so I
thought I’d mention it.
Write the bio in third
person. Put on your PR executive hat. It’s easier if you pretend it’s someone
else you’re writing about.
If you’ve figured out your brand, it’s got to be
uniquely yours, include it. Another writer branded me early in my career, and
because Southern-fried fiction
described what I write, I used it.
Have you had some interesting jobs? Use them. I listed mine as “fodder for fiction.” Caution: using your college job as laundry assistant, isn’t exactly interesting no matter what you found in the hockey team captain’s pockets. 
If you don’t have any
bylines, contest wins (or finals), then use your associations. Think like a doctor. They slap their “Member of ASPS”
all over the exam room walls. Use any professional writers association you
belong to. “Member of ACFW” etc. shows you’re serious about your
career. And if you serve on the board of your writers group, list it.
Are you part of a blogging
group? Mention it. Blogging means actively writing. Has it won any blogging
awards? That’s sure worth a mention.
Pooktre Art
Do you have an unusual hobby? Are you a Pooktre artist? List it, especially if your character does the same thing. If you’ve been a finalist,
in the top 3, or been the lucky winner of a contest, include it.
Do you help judge
contests? List them.
Always add where people can find you. It also shows that you have an Internet presence. In other words, platform. 
Have more than one version of your bio. I have several or varying lengths. Some include my books, some don’t. It depends on where I’m using it. 
Don’t forget to edit your bio once you start getting
published. And this is why I recommend writing articles for well-known blogs
and online magazines. They may not all pay, but if they print your article,
it’s a publishing credit. 
See? It’s not so hard to
come up with a bio. Do you have anything unusual in your bio?
Ane Mulligan writes
Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. She’s a novelist, a
humor columnist, and a multi-published playwright.
She resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband, their chef son, and two
dogs of Biblical proportion. 
You can find Ane at her website, Novel Rocket, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.