Monday, 16 July 2012

My summer break!

My blog - including The One-Link Lowdown - is taking a short summer break while I move house with my family and get settled down at last into our 'forever' home.  But keep checking in, as I hope to have news soon about my next release, a contemporary women's novel, A Different Kind of Honesty.
See you soon!

Friday, 13 July 2012

The One-Link Lowdown on...Linda Swift!

My guest today is Linda Swift.  Writing for 6 publishers, Linda has ten books of fiction and four short stories currently available, with two additional books and three short stories to be released this year.  She’s lived in many places throughout the world, and while living in the UK in 1999-2000, she visited many of the castles where Mary Queen of Scots was a "guest" and became fascinated with both castles and the queen.  The result of that stay was her latest release, Maid of the Midlands, which will soon  be followed by a sequel, Mistress of Huntleigh Hall.  Welcome, Linda!

What’s the naughtiest thing you've ever done? 
As a small child living in a rural area, I robbed a setting hen’s nest of all her eggs to make mud pies. I took them one at a time, stirring more dirt and water into the mix each time. When I had a pan full, I realized my “crime” might be discovered so I dug a shallow hole and buried the mixture. I didn’t get caught and never did confess until years later when pregnant with my first child. I suppose I was wondering what secret sins my own child might commit later on and I told my mother about the incident. She accepted my story as the unimportant act that it was but my belated confession certainly lifted a heavy weight off my conscience! 

What’s the worst job you've ever had? 
In the early days of my marriage I was a stay-at-home mother, my husband was in a work training program, and money was scarce. I didn’t want to take a regular job and leave my children so I sold cosmetics door-to-door for a few hours during the day while my mother babysat. I hated every minute of it. I am not a natural born salesperson and knocking on the doors of strangers was pure torture.

I think I’d hate that too, and I admire you for sticking with it!  So in complete contrast, tell me about the best job you've ever had.
I have it now. To be able to write books, have them published, and experience the response of people who read them is a dream realized. I enjoyed my work with children in public education in three states over a number of years, but always in the back of my mind was the desire to be a published writer. Creating stories, receiving new covers, the release of the finished product, having book signings, presenting programs about what I do, all are very satisfying. I even enjoy the editing process! Did I mention getting royalty checks? Okay, I’m working longer hours for less pay than any job I’ve ever had except selling cosmetics, but this not about money as any truly dedicated writer knows.

What would be your perfect day?
I would sleep until I woke naturally, have breakfast of my choice, take a walk, work in my study. I would meet a friend for lunch. In the afternoon maybe work for a while or read or nap. I’d go out to dinner with my husband, watch the evening news on TV, read the newspaper and/or a book. About midnight, I’d be ready for bed again. I am never bored staying home and doing simple things. Did you notice that cooking or doing housework was not included in my day? I would have paid help for that, of course.

It sounds like bliss, especially the bit about no housework!  Linda, what's your favourite sandwich, and where in the world is the best place to eat it? 
A chicken salad sandwich (with pecans and grapes in it) on rye bread would be perfect served at an outside cafe on Coronado Island overlooking the Pacific.

I might just have to try out that recipe, it sounds delicious!  Which household chore would you happily give up forever?
Only one? How can I choose a “least” favorite? I suppose cooking which seems so boring day in and day out. I don’t mind preparing special meals for holidays but the repetition of doing this over and over depresses me. But to my credit, I love to iron. Too bad almost everything now is wrinkle-free or else supposed to be worn with wrinkles!

What talent or skill would you love to have that you don’t have now?
I would love to be able to play piano and I took lessons for a few months as a child but they didn’t “take” on me. So I did the next best thing by marrying a man who played piano (and now electronic keyboard) beautifully. I also wanted to have a beautiful voice and be able to sing well but I only mouth the words when I sing in church to avoid those nearby wondering how a frog got into the building. Both my son, daughter, and son-in-law are musical and are working or have worked as professional musicians. All three were in a Broadway musical that toured the country for two years, so my wish has been granted in a convoluted way

Indeed!  And as I know you’ve said before, you make music with words, Linda!  Tell me, what drives you seriously nuts?
People who make fun of other people. I think this is the ugliest character trait anyone can have. To laugh at someone for whatever reason is probably an effort to cover insecurity and lack of self-confidence but that doesn’t excuse it.  People who don’t do what they say they will comes a close second. And people who don’t give credit to others for what they do or take credit for what they have not done is also on my list.

Which animal do you think you’re most like, and why?
I’m probably most like a cat. I am independent, and I love to curl up in a warm place indoors and do nothing. But I am loyal like a dog and so persistent that my husband says I am like a “dog with a bone” when I set my mind on something. I am also verbal like a mockingbird. So I suppose I’m really an enigma whatever species that is.

What’s the best review you've ever had?
My best review was actually a composite of four 5-star reviews (Long and Short Reviews/ Manic Readers/The Romance Studio/You Gotta Read Reviews) and Romantic Times  for my Civil War saga, This Time Forever. These reviewers compared the book to Gone With The Wind and the TV mini-series North and South. All of them “got” what I was trying to say, felt empathy for both sides of this tragic war, loved my characters as I did and validated my ability to research and create a story that was worthy of the subject. This was the “book of my heart” and in my heart I know it is the best work I will ever accomplish. It was rejected many times when submitted by my then-agent and I almost despaired ever seeing it published. Then, ironically, this US Civil War story was accepted by a Canadian publisher and through no planning on my part, it was released in the first year of the Civil War Sesquicentennial commemoration. Fate? I like to think so. 
A definite meant-to be!  Linda, it's been great getting to know more about you today, and I know my readers can catch up on all your news and books at your One-Link here to your website.  Thanks so much for visiting - good luck in all that you do!

Monday, 9 July 2012

The One-Link Lowdown on...Carol A. Spradling

A special start to the week as the Lowdown breaks its Friday habit with my guest Carol A. Spradling. Carol recently took back control of her writing by breaking away from the publishing norm and branching out independently - and she's never looked back. Her historical novels are vivid and compelling, and her latest, Shades of Gray (not to be confused with another work with a similar name!) is pulling in five-star reviews. I'm delighted she's my guest today - not least because she's one of my dearest friends! Welcome, Carol!

If you could retrieve one thing from your childhood, what would it be?

A cement heart. When I was eight years old, my grandfather made a walkway on the side of his house. He formed the leftover cement into a heart shape and gave it to me. It was lost when we moved.

What would be your perfect day?

A perfect writing day is back dropped with a heavy rainstorm, and a Twilight Zone marathon playing on the tv for company. A perfect non-writing day is spending time in the mountains with friends and family.

What’s your favourite sandwich, and where in the world is the best place to eat it?

OMG, Dunn’s Deli in Banner Elk, NC has the best sandwiches. My favourite is called The St. Patrick’s.  It is a grilled corned beef with melted muenster cheese and, here's what makes it special, it has warmed potato salad on the sandwich. It isn't a trip to the mountains without a visit to Dunn's.

That sounds delicious!  It sounds like the USA has perfected the art of sandwich-making, and I wish I could try them out!  Now, I know you're a girl after my own heart, so tell me - which household chore would you happily give up for ever?

If you were to ask my husband, he might tell you to phrase that question in the past tense. I’m not nit picky when it comes to housework. As long as my house gives the resemblance of clean, I’m good. Dusting seems to be my least favorite thing to do.

What talent or skill would you love to have that you don’t have now?

I would love to be able to sing. I can’t carry a tune to save my life.

What drives you seriously nuts?

People who drive under the speed limit and come to a near-dead stop to make a turn.

I know them!  The ones who don't want to use up all their gears at once, as my husband says!  Now - you're given a time travel machine - where would you go, and why?

I would zip to the future and take advantage of modern medicine. Then, shoot to the past when life was enjoyed at a much slower pace.

What's your guilty pleasure?

My husband and I love to eat out, nothing high end, mostly burger places.

Quite right, it's good to treat yourself!  Carol, if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would want to be more intelligent. It seems to take me forever to catch on to things.

What single invention would change your life for the better?

Traveling at the speed of thought. I could visit friends and family and still be home in time for dinner. 

Carol, it's always a pleasure to talk with you.  Our readers can find out more about Shades of Gray here at your One-Link to its Amazon page.  Thanks for being my guest, and I wish you so much good luck in all you do! 

Friday, 6 July 2012

The One-Link Lowdown on....Margay Leah Justice

My guest today, Margay Leah Justice, is a gal who dodges life's curve balls with style and grace, and I'm sure she'd be the first to admit it's her love of the written word that's seen her through many a rough patch. Her first novel, a paranormal romance called Sloane Wolf, is now available form Muse It Up Publishing. I'm so pleased to meet this lovely lady, and I know you will be, too. Welcome, Margay!

If you could retrieve one thing from your childhood, what would it be?

My collection of Crissy and Velvet dolls the ones with the hair that “grew.” I loved those dolls!

What’s the naughtiest thing you've ever done?

Hmm, this one could get me into trouble! I actually went parking with a guy in a cemetery once. Sounds creepy, but it was actually kind of peaceful there.

Tell us three surprising things about yourself, one of which is a fib - and we'll try to guess the fib! 

I have met Patrick Swayze and rubbed elbows with several other famous people such as Mary Tyler Moore, Dudley Moore, and Paul Michael Glaser.
I used to teach aerobics.
I’m fluent in five languages.
I so want meeting Patrick Swayze to be true as he always struck me as a very lovely man. Margay, tell me - what’s your favourite piece of music?

One of my all time favorite songs is Unchained Melody, it’s just a really beautiful song. Plus, there’s this scene from the movie Ghost with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze where it figures prominently that just gets me every time I see it.

Yes, that's a real classic - in fact, the song and the movie both. What talent or skill would you love to have that you don’t have now?

I always wished I could play an instrument, like the violin.

What drives you seriously nuts?

Bad drivers – and I think the majority of them live in Massachusetts! Seriously, people, those signs and lights aren’t there for decoration. Oh, and those folks standing in the crosswalks – they’re not there to watch you drive, they actually want to cross the street.

Which animal do you think you’re most like, and why?

A cat. Well, for one, if you look up my name, it is a type of wild cat (though I wasn’t named after the cat – it’s just a coincidence!). But I think it’s also because, however I fall, I somehow manage to land on my feet. Plus, I love naps!

I can relate to the catnap thing! Now, I'm lending you my personal time travel machine for the day - where would you go, and why?

Regency England. There’s just something about that time period that really calls to me, which is probably why I love books like Pride and Prejudice and anything by Julia Quinn so much.

What's your guilty pleasure?

I am a sucker for sweets – I love chocolate and cheesecake and the like. If I could eat it all the time and not gain a pound, I’d be one happy woman. What am I talking about – the threat of weight gain has never kept me away from a good piece of cheesecake – or chocolate!

It's scientifically proven that chocolate makes you feel good, you know! Margay, if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I wish I wasn’t a procrastinator – or a perfectionist. I think I could get so much more done if I didn’t put it off until later – and then try to get it too perfect.

I think keep doing what you're doing, because it's obviously working! Friends, Margay's lie is that she's fluent in five languages - I'm so pleased that meeting Patrick Swayze is true!  You can find out more about Sloane Wolf here at Margay's link today. 
Margay, it's been great meeting you - good luck in all that you do!