Elaine Richman, Heroine of Dancing at all the Weddings by Susan Surman

Vivacious and talented Elaine Richman is faced with choices: A risky life in the New York theatre; an exciting life with college sweetheart, actor/director Jake Applebaum in Hollywood; a secure life in Boston with predictable lawyer David Alter, the match anointed by her domineering mother because ‘he’s the kind you marry.’ On the way to a dream, it is possible to collide with another dream’s seduction, only to learn there is no fulfillment on the path to safety. Elaine goes through the wringer to meet herself, proving there is no expiration date on talent or true love.

Interview with the heroine of Dancing at all the Weddings:

Who are you?

I didn’t exist at all before Susan Surman wrote me in her novel, “Dancing at all the Weddings,” published by Second Wind Publishing. I am Elaine Richman; through marriages became Elaine Alter; Elaine Applebaum. But Elaine Richman remained as my professional name. I was on my way to a risky theatrical career until it was hijacked by my marriage to David Alter, the match anointed by my mother. I discovered there was no fulfillment on the path to safety.

We weren’t religious, but there were certain Jewish rituals followed, especially when it came to the way death was handled. And looking back at it all, I see that my friends were Jewish, my husbands were Jewish, so without intentionally following the Jewish faith, I guess it was inbred in me. Even if you aren’t a practicing Jew, if you were born a Jew, you die a Jew. At least, that’s what I’ve been told.

Where do you live?

I grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts, lived in Weston, Mass., then Manhattan, and am looking forward to my new home in Malibu, California.

How does the author see you? Has she portrayed you accurately?

She has portrayed me very accurately. I grew up wanting to please my mother, be an obedient daughter, do the right thing. It means I lived the life others wanted for me. Until I couldn’t do it anymore. Until I finally met myself. It wasn’t easy going from frenzy to peace, but I made it.

Do you have a hero?

I never thought about that. I guess I admire people who know what they want, know how to get what they want, and still want it after they get it. In my personal life, I am surrounded by those so called heroes: Jane Mitchell, a college colleague who became a New York producer of plays; Jake Applebaum, who became a movie director; and my dear Sophie, my daughter, who started out a filmmaker and discovered she really wanted to be an entertainment lawyer. Her telling me that was really my wake-up call.

Do you have any special strengths?

It’s definitely not in the kitchen. Cooking was never my strong suit. Although, when I had to, I could meet the moment. Desserts are my specialty. Special strength perhaps would be pulling my life together at 50. Finally, doing that. Not succumbing to what would have been an easy existence – to finally getting out there and following my original dream. I’m an actress who got fooled and went down the wrong path. It isn’t how you start, it’s how you finish.

Do you have money troubles?

No. I’m one of the lucky ones in that department. It wasn’t easy as a kid – my parents didn’t have much. My father got sick and died; my mother had to work; I got a scholarship to college. And then my mother made sure I married the rich guy, and I was taken care of. It didn’t matter that I didn’t love him. She told me he was the kind you marry; that I’d learn to love him. He was always generous with money even after – well, I don’t want to talk about that. It’s all in the book.

What are you afraid of?

That it all goes by with such a mean clip and we waste so much time. I suppose we all think that. What am I afraid of? That I’ll die – but I won’t really be dead, and I’ll be buried or cremated. And I’ll be in there yelling, “I’m not dead, I’m not dead.” But no one will hear me.

What makes you angry?

Being wrongly accused of something that I didn’t do. More than that, the time I gave up my life to be wife, mother, chauffeur, secretary, cook, homemaker. They kept taking pieces of me. No – I gave away pieces of myself because I thought that was how you loved. Everything I knew about marriage and love was what I learned from the movies. They went off (husband and daughter) and did their own thing and I was left. The empty bowl.

What do you regret?

That my mother isn’t alive to see the good things that happened to me; that she missed her granddaughter; that she missed my acting career.

Are you lucky?

I would have to say, yes. I got a second chance. At love, at a career, at being who I really am.

Have you ever betrayed anyone?

Yes. A thousand times yes. I betrayed my husband. I lied, I cheated, I deceived. My life became one of lies and deception.

Are you healthy?

Yes. Despite my breakfasts of coffee and muffins for years; despite my eating pretty much anything I want; despite my yo-yo diets (the Zone, Atkins, the grapefruit diet, the white diet, so on and so forth), I am healthy.

 The white diet?

You eat only white food: Egg whites, cheese, milk, yogurt, vanilla ice-cream, anything with white flour. My skin turned white, I was constipated, and I gained eight pounds. I don’t recommend it.

Do you have any hobbies?

I love travel. I’ve been to London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Paris, Cannes, Athens. And I play tennis. I’m pretty good, too. And I could watch movies all day every day – which I did when I was going through the depression phase of my divorce. It’s all in the book.

What is your most prized possession?

Oh, that’s easy. The home-made card my daughter made for me one Mother’s Day. I was in Boston and she was in New York and she surprised me with a visit. She wrote a poem and it was just beautiful. I couldn’t read it, I was crying so hard. She had to read it to me. In the poem, she talks about my parents dying so young, sparing me their old age, and how she wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for me. Sentimental, mushy, loving and I wouldn’t part with it for any amount of money.

Who was your first love?

My father. I had him such a brief time. He died when I was 10. I loved him very much. He taught me to ballroom dance. He taught me to listen to music. I thought heaven was where you went to get well. I would look up the sky and if it was blue, I believed my daddy was wearing his blue suit. If the sky was gray, I believed he was wearing his gray suit. I looked for him everywhere for many years.

Who is your true love?

Jake Applebaum. We met our first day in acting class at Boston University. You’ll have to read the book to see what happened with that. I like the author’s philosophy: Talent and true love don’t have an expiration date. I’ve learned more about myself by loving another.

What is your favorite scent?

Gardenia. The scent of a gardenia flower and anything gardenia. When I was a child, my mother always wore gardenias when she and my father went out. I use a lotion with a gardenia scent. It’s the closest I can get to that smell. For a while, I tried growing a gardenia plant, but I wasn’t very good at it, and eventually, it died, so I gave up.

What is your favorite color?

Peach. Not the outside layer of a rose, but the inside petals after you peel back the outer layers. Gentle peach. My bedroom is peach and white; my bathroom is peach and white. Have a look at the cover of the novel. That’s the color.

What is your favorite item of clothing?

An oversized Calvin Klein black cashmere coat that I’ve had for years.

What is your favorite beverage?

Tea. As hot as you can get it. Earl Grey is my favorite. My mother always made Lipton’s tea and it was bland. She would never try anything different. We had many arguments about that tea. But I find every now and again, I do drink Lipton’s tea – usually on a day I feel sad, or I need something familiar. I guess the hand that rocks the cradle is still – well, she’s still your mother. I haven’t thought about that for years.

What are the last 5 entries in your check registry?

Bergdorf Goodman’s for the shoes I bought to match my wedding dress. My dressmaker who made the dress. Giorgio Armani’s for a leather jacket for my fiancée. The electric company for the apartment in New York. A donation to the Cancer Society.

What will your next entry be?

Second Wind Publishing for “Dancing at all the Weddings” by Susan Surman. Thanks to her, I exist. And the wonderful thing is, once you’ve been created in a book or a movie, you can never die. It’s out there forever.


Click here to read an excerpt from: Dancing at all the Weddings

Click here to read the first chapter of: Dancing at all the Weddings

Click here for an interview with: Susan Surman, Author of Dancing at all the Weddings

Calvin Davis, Author of The Phantom Lady of Paris

What inspired you to write The Phantom Lady of Paris?

I believe there is an unseen substance in all of humanity that unites most of us. It shows itself when we see a news story of a child born with a malady that doctors declare will kill him by the age of three. The mother is convinced the scholarly medical man is wrong. She takes her son home, nurtures and loves him. At the age of 20, that boy is alive and well, running races and winning gold medals in the 110 meter hurdles, soaring over track obstacles like a frightened impala. The mother, with no degrees (except for a PHD in love and nurturing), proves she is wiser than the doctor, with his multitude of sheep skins.

Or the story of a prisoner incarcerated 30 years for a murder he did not commit and is finally released because of DNA evidence. Our hearts reach out to the wronged man. His tale is in tune with the universal something that dwells inside most of us, the something that makes us human.

I wrote the Phantom Lady of Paris as my attempt to reach that universal inner core in the same way the example stories quoted above do. Sometimes that resonance is sweet; sometimes bitter. More often than not, it’s bitter-sweet, the way life is. I wanted the Phantom Lady of Paris to mirror life. I trust it does.

What is your book about?

On the surface, it’s about an American educator, Paul Lassar, who in 1968 ventures to Paris on sabbatical to write a novel. There he encounters the mysterious “Phantom Lady of Paris.” Although she is engaging, she conceals a shadowy secret that changes Paul’s life forever. A secret slowly exposed amid a backdrop of café bombings, Sorbonne University student riots, the overdose death of a “flower child,” strolls along the Seine and early mornings in bistros savoring the richness of French onion soup and jet-black espressos.

On another level, the novel is about all humanity and its never-ending quest to unshackle itself from the chains of conformity and mediocrity and by doing so, liberate that inner self that yearns for freedom, a freedom symbolized in my novel by an eagle soaring above the highest cloud.

Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?

I write for only one kind of reader – a reader who likes a good story, a tale that has some “sticky stuff” generously sprinkled in its beginning, so much of the substance that the peruser finds it impossible to extract himself. I write for those who enjoy a tale that has a beginning, middle and end, one that transports the reader on a magical carpet of words to…anywhere. Good stories never die. Romeo and Juliet is a good story. True, the main characters die, but the story lives on. I hope the Phantom Lady has a similar shelf life.

Finally, I write a story that first and foremost must please me. And I’m the most difficult writer on this planet to please. If my readers are just half as easy to please as I am, I have nothing to worry about.

What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written?

Look Homeward Angel by Thomas Wolfe. Wolfe was a poet who masqueraded as a writer of prose. But he didn’t fool anyone. His prose represents some of the most lyrical poetry in American literature. His editor, Maxwell Perkins, who was also Ernest Hemingway’s editor, called Wolfe “a genius”; Hemingway, he labeled, “a writer.” There is a difference.

Do you think writing this book changed your life?

After penning the Phantom Lady, I was not the same person. The actual writing of the novel took about five and a half years. During that period, I wrote and rewrote again and again, etc. That said, the truth is, it took me all my life to write the Phantom Lady. The penning of my two other novels was preparing me to write TPLOP. The production of my countless short stories was also tutoring me on how to create the Phantom Lady. And during all this time of schooling, “the lady” was inside me clamoring to be liberated, as I was clamoring to liberate her. “Free me…free me,” she screamed. When I completed the last sentence of the novel, the lady was finally liberated. “Thank you, Calvin,” she said. “Thank you.” Finally, she was free…and so was I.

Click here to read the first chapter of: The Phantom Lady of Paris

Click here to buy: The Phantom Lady of Paris

Sherrie Hansen, Author of Merry Go Round

1. What is your book about?

Merry Go Round is about Tracy Jones Tomlinson, the youngest of three sisters in my Maple Valley trilogy. Tracy married her childhood sweetheart, is a minister’s wife, and has three lovely children. In the first two books, Rachael and Michelle’s mother brags about how perfect Tracy and her husband are. “Why can’t you be more like Tracy? Tracy never gives me this kind of trouble…” When Merry Go Round opens, it quickly becomes apparent that Tracy’s supposedly perfect life is anything but. When her husband leaves her for another man and she’s faced with moving out of the parsonage, she has nowhere to turn for help but to her older sisters. Rachael, her oldest sister, from Stormy Weather, is none too eager to help, and frankly, feels that it’s about time that Tracy gets hers. Tender-hearted Michelle, from Water Lily, wants to help however she can and offers Tracy a job painting and wallpapering the home of Barclay Alexander III, the owner of the house she’s decorating. Between Barclay’s critical parents, Tracy’s three kids, and a town full of people who are depending on Barclay to keep Elk Creek Woolen Mill open despite his father’s insistence that the factory be closed, there are all kinds of ups and downs in this story. The extreme changes occurring in Tracy’s life make her feel like things are spinning out of control and that all she can do is hang on for dear life.

2. How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

I think I wrote the book very shortly after the idea first came to me.

3. What inspired you to write this particular story?

I guess on some level, I’m like Rachael, Tracy’s oldest sister – I thought it was time for Tracy to “get hers”, to have to deal with her pride issues and becomes a real person instead of a perfect, plastic, Barbie doll character. People who have been humbled a little are so much more loveable.

4. How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

In a long ago life in a different place and time, I loved a man who turned out to be gay. I remember how it felt, and how hard it was to move on after I found out. I do need to add a disclaimer at this point, however. Like Trevor, Tracy’s husband, who is gay, my husband of seven years is a pastor. He is definitely not gay! The first draft of this book was written before I even met Mark and became a pastor’s wife. I think of all the sisters in my Maple Valley trilogy, I am least like Tracy. Maybe that’s why she was so fun to write!

5. Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

I love this book because it has several scenes that involve all three sisters from the Maple Valley trilogy, together in the same room, duking it out. I loved writing Rachael in this book because she gets to say things to her sisters that I never would. She’s very gutsy, and totally justified. I love it!

6. Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

Barclay (Clay) Alexander III is very unlike my other heroes in that he is wealthy, and has a very distinctive plot line and character arc of his own. He’s trying to do the right thing by several different people, and try as he might, he can’t please everyone… anyone, or so it seems for a time. Clay is falling in love with the wrong woman, but she is so right for him that it is painful. He has the weight of the whole town of Maple Valley on his shoulders. When he finally gives in to his feelings for Tracy and lets himself indulge in a bit of selfish pleasure, the results are devastating. I have a lot of respect for Barclay and hope my readers feel the same although he is a much more complicated hero than most.

7. How long did it take you to write your book?

I wrote the rough draft of Merry Go Round several years ago in about six months time, tabled the project for years, and then spent the last year re-writing and editing the book.

8. How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

I always have a specific framework in mind, but the characters and plot details evolve and grow as the book progresses.

9. Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

I interview people when needed and look up details about places on the internet, visiting in person when I can.

10. How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

I think my characters have very distinctive personalities, and in Merry Go Round, the differences in the sisters is very apparent when they’re all in the same scene, interacting with one another. I try to get into their heads and consistently think and act like they would.

11. Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

I pick my husband’s brain occasionally and I constantly ask the question, “What if…?”

12. How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

I have no idea! I just seem to know.

13. What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

A song we used to sing in my adult Sunday School class in Colorado Springs comes to mind… “Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up…” I think when we are prideful, and refuse to let people see our imperfections and idiosyncrasies, we make it very hard for people to know and love us. It’s our humanness that makes us loveable. When Tracy finally lets down her defenses, drops her perfect life facade, and lets people glimpse a little of what she’d been going through, she is lifted up and at long last, truly loved for exactly who she is.

14. Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

The subject of homosexuality and the church, nature or nurture, sin or not sin, etc. is a touchy issue for many right now. I tried very hard NOT to let this book become a forum for my beliefs and thoughts on the issue, but to accurately reflect the feelings, emotions and conflicts my characters go through as they struggle through the implications of Trevor admitting he is gay, and dealing with the ramifications to his children, extended family, and church. I have been told by my advance readers, whose opinions on the subject probably vary from mine, that I was successful — that they finished the book not knowing what I, the author, thought about the subject. I took that as high praise and hope other readers agree.

15. What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

The only struggle I seem to face with my writing these days is finding enough hours in the day to sit down and write. I own and operate a bed and breakfast and tea house and am a pastor’s wife. I maintain four houses. It’s a good, but very busy life, and when the day is done, I am often too exhausted to think.

16. Do you think writing this book changed your life? How so?

I think each book that I’ve written has changed my life. I remember an episode of Star Trek, Next Generation, when Jean Luc Picard was swept away to live out his life on another planet. He eventually fell in love, married, had children, and learned to play a musical instrument. When his new world came to an end, he learned that he had never left the Enterprise, and that the whole alternate life experience had occurred only in his mind, in a few days time. I feel like that every time I finish a book. It’s like I’ve visited some alternate reality and lived the life of my character from start to finish, feeling what they feel and experiencing what they experience, when in reality, I’ve just been sitting at my desk, typing away. In a very real way, I think each book makes me a richer, more multi-faceted, more understanding person because when I’ve walked a mile (or a hundred) in my character’s shoes.

17. What has changed for you personally since you wrote your first book?

When I first started writing, I was single and had been for almost 20 years. My life changed dramatically when I met my husband and remarried (in a good way, but still… it was a big adjustment!)

18. How has your background influenced your writing? How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

I was raised in a very conservative Christian home. My upbringing and personal beliefs color everything I do and think. I have lived in many parts of the world, known many people and experienced many things. My writing is filtered through each of the things that have made me the person I am. Although my books do not fit into the Inspirational Fiction category because they contain some adult scenes, they definitely have a Christian world view which includes characters honestly struggling through issues of faith. The mistakes I’ve made and life lessons I’ve learned over the years have become fodder for many interesting characters and scenarios in my books.


Click here to read an excerpt from: Merry Go Round

Click here to read first chapter of: Merry Go Round

Click here to buy: Merry Go Round

Coco Ihle, author of She Had to Know

Today I am speaking with Coco Ihle, whose book, SHE HAD TO KNOW, has just been published. What is your book about?

SHE HAD TO KNOW has an autobiographical element to it and deals with two long lost sisters who reunite and nearly lose their lives searching for a hidden treasure and a murderer in a Scottish castle.

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

I was a product of foster care and adoption, so my early life was spent fantasizing about finding my birth family with the thought of writing a book one day involving my search. It wasn’t until my early thirties that my Scottish roots were uncovered and a tiny seed was planted. In my fifties, one of my sisters was located and the book started forming in my mind. What better story to write than a mystery?

How much of yourself is hidden in the main characters of this book?

SHE HAD TO KNOW has two protagonists, the two sisters. I found it interesting that both sisters in the book have multiple characteristics of my sister and me. That is to say, one isn’t me and the other my sister, my fictional characters have traits that both my sister and I have, plus some. It just worked out that way. Does that make sense?

Yes, actually. Tell me, did you do any research for this book?

Yes, a great deal. Luckily, when I found out about my Scottish heritage years earlier, I joined a local Scottish society and met many Scots who shared with me stories of their lives and culture.  My son and I joined the society’s bagpipe band and traveled to Scotland to order our bagpipes and kilts and to discover more about my homeland. To make things interesting, we stayed in several castles all over Britain. That’s when I knew one sister in my book would own a castle hotel. More trips were necessary for fact finding, and many hours of speaking with my wonderful Scottish friends helped me get the details down. I also used books and pamphlets that I gathered on my travels along with the phone and, toward the end, the internet. What can I say, I love research.

What challenges did you face when you wrote this book?

In part of the book I deal with reuniting the sisters. I already knew how I felt, but I needed to find out how my sister dealt with her questions of not knowing where she came from or why she was given up; that sort of thing. The questions were difficult to ask and the answers were tough to put on paper, because I wanted to emphasize the joy of the sister’s reunion, not dwell on the sadness of our lost childhood together. In the end, I left out much of the negative, though in the future, I may touch on more of the problems the sisters faced.

Another challenge for me was in simplifying the Scottish dialect so that everyone could understand it. I tried to be consistent with it so the reader would get into the cadence of the characters. I thought adding a glossary might help, too.

Do you think writing this book changed your life? If so, how?

Absolutely. In a couple of ways. My sister and I talked in detail about our lives before we met, and how we felt about all the things that happened and didn’t happen through the years. Our talks created a stronger bond between us.

Another way my life changed was, my adopted mother used to accuse me of starting projects and losing interest before finishing them. Well, I took that criticism to heart.  I know she’s up there smiling down at me, because I finish projects now.

Do you prefer to write at a particular time of day?

Mornings are my favorite time, because my mind is fresh, but sometimes late at night when there are no distractions. Often, I’ll wake in the middle of the night with an idea or a phrase and have to write it down on a tablet I keep on my nightstand. And occasionally, I just have to get up and write that thought or idea in more detail.

Do you have a favorite snack food or beverage that you enjoy while you write?

Ha! That would be my famous cup of joe. I have a wonderful 16 oz. thermos mug that keeps my coffee hot, so I don’t have to get up so often for a refill. My right hand seems to be permanently crooked into the mug holding position.  Just kidding. Occasionally, I like to munch on roasted almonds, too.

Why did you set your book to begin in 1985?

I’ve always been told to “write what you know.”  Since my own search was done primarily before computers, I wanted to write my story before that era. As I continue to search for two more siblings, I’m finding the computer age has only complicated matters. Often, too much information can be as much of a hindrance as not enough. Also, found information is often incorrect, which can lead to wasted time and effort. If it hadn’t been for the Alma Society, which helps in family searches, I may have given up years ago.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

When I read a story, I want to be swept into it and escape from my life issues and just be entertained. I hope my readers will feel that way with my book. I also hope, people will be reinforced in their thinking that persistence is a virtue which almost always has its rewards. It certainly has in my life.

What do you like to read?

Mostly mysteries since that’s what I like to write, and I’m lucky to know some very excellent writers in my genre through conferences, conventions and listserves. Memoirs are another area I like and in which I have written. And there are some wonderful YA authors out there whose work in fantasy I enjoy. But, I like thrillers, too. Oh, dear, I just love to read and if it is well written, I’ll read just about anything that isn’t too violent or graphic.

Do you have a saying or motto for your life and/or as a writer?

Funny you should ask. My favorite is: “Aspire to inspire before you expire.” Isn’t that great?

I’ll say. Thank you, Coco, for taking the time to speak with me today.

You are most welcome. Thank you for having me.

Click here to read the first chapter of: She Had to Know

Click here to read an excerpt of: She Had to Know

Click here to buy: She Had to Know

Posted in author interviews, books, fiction, writing. Tags: , , , , , , . Comments Off on Coco Ihle, author of She Had to Know

Paul Mohrbacher, Author of The Magic Fault

What is your book about?

The Magic Fault takes place in 2004 in Turin, Italy, where the Catholic Church’s most revered relic has been stolen by a mysterious sect from the city’s cathedral. An American professor who studies magical thinking uncovers a baffling series of answers to the question, Why?

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

The idea blossomed in 2004, and the writing started within months.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

The inspiration came from being in Turin, Italy, during a festival of food sponsored by the International Slow Food movement. Just a few miles from the festival is the church where the Shroud of Turin is honored. It was the confluence of the two events, one celebrating life on and in the earth, the other the afterlife and its promise of a future life after-earth. Putting the two themes together was an inspiring challenge.

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

The most unusual character is an elderly Parisienne who is protecting a secret. She is based on a woman I met some years back who lived through WW II as a resistance fighter. She was an incredibly still-beautiful woman who smoked strong French cigarettes and climbed mountains. I may bring her back in another book some day.

How long did it take you to write your book?

I spent six years writing The Magic Fault.

How much of the story did you have in mind before you started writing it?

I found I first had to describe the plot to friends. By talking about it I got in touch with what I wanted to say in the story. I needed to know the plot well enough before I could choose my characters. Then the characters started telling me how they would react in the situations I put them in. As usual, they talked too much; I tossed everything into the first few drafts and then crawled exhausted to an editor who found a way to cut and trim and guide me back to the story line.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

Given the topic, there was a lot of research; mainly books on the subject. The Internet was a major source for fact-checking. I made visits to some of the sites described in the book, and had heavy email contact with sources who lived in places I couldn’t visit. Finally, the New York Times always had a story that nudged me when I was writing something related.

How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

There is pre-writing and there is post-writing. I differentiate characters by “sleeping” with them, every last one of them. I write something and then wait for the characters to knock on my head in the night. They finally come alive after many nights spent in their company (dreams, waking up and writing down some dialogue or action, etc.). They point me on the right path on how they would act and think in the story I want to tell.

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

The book is done when my characters’ involvement in the story seems fully realized.

What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

Balancing a day job with writing on a weekly basis was a huge challenge. I finally changed my job to four days a week instead of five. Those three-day weekends make a difference, especially if two of the days are more or less filled with other chores or getaways.

What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?

My writing schedule varied with the stages of development of the book. Early in the book I wrote on a couple of weekday early mornings and then also on weekends. Usually my computer went with me on vacations and I wrote daily. Rewriting was more episodic, hit and run, because I spent more time thinking how the story held together. When I found an agent and began heavy editing and rewriting, I imposed a rule for myself; get the agent the latest version as soon as you can. Write whenever one finds time; deadline writing.

What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?

The most difficult part of the writing process is cutting out extraneous plot detours. That usually means characters you like but who shouldn’t be in this book; scenes that seem essential but aren’t, dialogue that explains more than it should. The “aha moment” comes at the right time, about halfway through the first draft — where am I going with this story? And usually it’s an editor who taps me on the head with the question.

Where can people learn more about you and The Magic Fault?

From my publisher’s website: Second Wind Publishing/Paul Mohrbacher

See also:
Chapter One of The Magic Fault
Excerpt from The Magic Fault

Click here to buy: The Magic Fault