New Book Alert: The Prince of Pigeons

Hi guys, I just wanted to let you know about my dear friend Rebecca Scarberry’s new book, The Prince of Pigeons. I’d really appreciate my readers picking up a copy of this book, Dove in the air with wings wide openreading it and leaving a short review. I know how hard Rebecca has worked getting her books published and I know she would appreciate all the readers and feedback she can get.

Anyway, in The Prince of Pigeons, a great love story, set in England, Evelyn and Tammy meet two handsome Englishmen at a ceremony to present Henry with an award in Oregon, and a brief romance ensues, cut short when the men return to Britain. However, an offer from a developer to buy the women’s farms gives the two women the chance to travel, and Henry the chance to race in England.

You can buy The Prince of Pigeons on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Becky on Oregon beachAbout Rebecca Scarberry

I was born and raised in southern California and now living on a non-working farm in the Boston Mountains of Arkansas. I retired at the age of 45, when I moved to Rogue River, Ore. I have been writing fiction since the age of 37. I have been an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction since I was 12, but it wasn’t until the age of 37 that I got serious about writing fiction. This is when my husband and I wrote a screenplay. I am also an artist (scrimshaw). Check out Rebecca’s blog and follow her on Twitter.

Authors Roundtable: Heather Thurmeier

How long have you been writing?

I started writing my first book three years ago. That book took me 10 months to write and probably another year to edit. I’ve been published for one year.
Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

Yes! But I ignored myself for a very long time. I always made up little stories or poems here and there throughout my school years. Every time I got an assignment to write something creative in English class, I would cheer while everyone else in class would cringe. However, it took me a long time to come up with the idea I wanted to write my first book. Once the idea hit me, there was no stopping my decision to start writing.

What books or stories have you written? Published?

I currently have four books published — “Love and Lattes,” “Love on Landing,” “Bunny Hills and Bikinis” and “Falling For You.” “Love or Luxury” comes out in September, and I have a few other books that are written and still in the polishing stage that will hopefully be published soon. 
Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?

All of my books are contemporary romances with a humorous, lighthearted feel.

My Meadow Ridge Romance series (“Love and Lattes,” “Love on Landing” and “Love or Luxury”) are about characters who all live in an elite, gated community. They may be stinking rich, but they still have their share of problems, and they all long to find the love of their lives.

“Bunny Hills and Bikinis” is a stand-alone novel about a girl who is forced to attend a weekend retreat for work with a colleague who won’t keep his hands to himself and a workshop presenter who makes her feel hot and bothered even on the coldest of nights.

“Falling for You” is the first in a new series of reality TV romances. Cassidy is a contestant of a new reality TV dating show where she has to compete for the bachelor with nine other women. And there *may* be a hunky cameraman following her around 24/7 who is impossible for Cassidy to ignore.

More about “Falling for You”

Newly single Cassidy Quinn is thrilled to be a contestant on the new reality dating show, “The One.” But her excitement turns to horror when the gorgeous bachelor turns out to be her ex-boyfriend. Seeing Brad again makes Cassidy realize she might not be as
“over him” as she thought—and then she meets hunky cameraman Evan Burke.

After watching his brother lose his wife in a tragic accident, Evan vows never to fall in love. But following Cassidy around as her personal cameraman makes him question his decision, and resisting her gets harder with every sunbathing, bikini-wearing day.

Cassidy and Evan begin a forbidden affair while her ex-boyfriend tries to win her heart back one groping, awkward moment at a time. If Cassidy can manage to stop falling off horses (literally), stop falling onto her ex-boyfriend, the bachelor (yes, literally), and stop falling in love with backstage playboy Evan, she might still make it through the show without becoming a tabloid sensation.

But soon Cassidy must choose between the ex who broke her heart and the cameraman who might never love her back. For Cassidy, this reality show just got real.

How did you get inspiration for the characters?

My inspirations come from all over the place. Sometimes I’ll see someone sitting in a restaurant gazing across the table at her love, and I’ll start to wonder how she got to that point in her life. Sometimes I get the general idea for the story first, and then the characters come to life because of the situation I’ve decided to put them in.
Are the books based on personal experiences?

No. I’ve never lived in an elite, gated community or had any part of that extravagant lifestyle. I’ve never liked skiing, and I would probably take a spill down the mountain like Amelia did in Bunny Hills if I tried to ski again. And I’ve never been on a reality TV show of any kind, although a watch a lot of reality TV.
Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep learning. It takes a lot of mistakes to make a great book happen! No one has the perfect first draft. Find trusted critique partners, preferably other authors who have books published in your genre and who are strong in an area where you are weak. Then listen to what they have to say! But at the end of the day, you have to make sure that your work is the story that YOU wanted to tell.

Can you talk a little about the benefits of getting your work professionally edited?

Professional editing is SO important. Editors know what they’re doing. They can find all those little mistakes and inconsistencies that we just don’t see after working on our stories for so long. Even if you decide to self publish, it’s wise to have your book edited by a professional editor you trust.
What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

I think the hardest thing to overcome has been my own fear. Every time I come up with a new idea, I’m afraid that I won’t be able to write it as awesome as it is in my head. Every time I submit a manuscript, I’m afraid it will get rejected. Every time a new book release, I’m afraid that readers will hate it.

But I’ve learned that the fear is just going to be there no matter what and if I embrace it, it will make me a better writer.
How did you find time to write your books?

I’m a full-time mom to two, have a dog, and my husband works crazy, long hours. Finding time to write has been very challenging in the last few years. I started writing once my kids started preschool. I would write while they were there for an hour or two a couple of times a week. Then I would try to sneak in a few words here or there whenever the kids were occupied or hubs was home. I burned plenty of pancakes attempting to finish a scene and cook dinner at the same time! It was tricky to fit it in, and writing was very slow going. Now both of my kids are in grade school, so I’ll be writing five full days a week starting in September! I’m excited to have so much uninterrupted time!! And hopefully the kids won’t have to suffer through more burned pancake dinners.
Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

Writing is so freeing! I can be any person, go anywhere, do anything and all from the comfort of my own couch!
Several of my guests have often said writing is therapeutic and relaxes them. Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you? Any specific examples you can share?

Writing is very relaxing…when I’m in the zone. Sometimes it’s very not relaxing. Sometimes it’s like pulling my own teeth with rusty pliers. Those are times when the words just won’t come to me. But when I’m in the zone and the words are flowing freely, it’s so relaxing! It actually feels a little bit like I’m watching a movie in my head, and my fingers are just typing what I see happening. It’s a little surreal. When I finish a writing session like that, I usually feel incredibly charged up and exhilarated. It’s awesome.
Has writing made you a better person?

I think it’s made me realize who I really am. I finally feel like I know where I belong in the world, and that is a wonderful gift.
Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite genres and why?

I love to read! I read every night before bed and a little during the day if I can squeeze in the time. I love romance—contemporary and paranormal—urban fantasy, YA, dystopian/post-apocalyptic and the occasional adventure/mystery. I don’t like anything dark or disturbing.
Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?

Reviews are very important. Money is tight for most people these days, and I think readers are careful how they spend their hard-earned dollars. If a reader is undecided about a book, they may read the reviews to see what other readers think. Those reviews could make the difference as to whether or not the reader buys your book. 
Have you ever received a bad review? If so how did it make you feel?

Yes, I have. I wouldn’t say it gave me that warm, fuzzy feeling that my five-star reviews give me, but it didn’t crush my soul either. I was disappointed to read that someone didn’t enjoy my book because I always hope people like what they read from me. But I also know not every book is going to appeal to every reader. How often have you read the back of a book and then put it back on the shelf because it didn’t really entice you to read it? How often have you read an entire book and then felt annoyed with something about the book? I don’t write my books with the intention of pleasing every reader. I write what I love, and hopefully the right readers will find my books and enjoy them.

I think the most important thing to remember about getting a bad review is that you can’t take every criticism to heart. Something that one person loves, another might hate. That’s okay. Read the review and then let it go. Don’t let it change who you are as a writer or let it influence how you write your stories. And if you ever find that you can’t get the reviews out of your head and they are preventing you from writing new work, STOP READING REVIEWS! 😉

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Jason! I’m happy to answer any additional questions your readers might have. Just drop me a little note or question in a comment, and I’ll be back to check in!

About Heather Thurmeier

Heather Thurmeier was born and raised in the Canadian prairies, but now she lives in upstate New York with her own personal romance hero (aka her husband) and their two little princesses. When she’s not busy taking care of the kids and an adventurous puppy named Indy, Heather’s hard at work on her next romance novel. Heather loves strawberry margaritas, hates spiders and is a reality TV junkie. Her passion is contemporary romance—writing stories filled with laugh-out-loud moments, uber-hunky heroes, feisty heroines and always a happily ever after.

Check out Heather’s website, become a fan of Heather’s books on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. Buy “Falling for You” on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

To God From The Dog

Dear God: Is it on purpose our names are the same, only reversed?

Dear God: Why do humans smell the flowers, but seldom, if ever, smell one another?

Dear God: When we get to heaven, can we sit on your couch? Or is it still the same old story?

Dear God: Why are there cars named after the jaguar, the cougar, the mustang, the colt, the stingray and the rabbit, but not ONE named for a dog? How often do you see a cougar riding around? We do love a nice ride! Would it be so hard to rename the ‘Chrysler Eagle’ the ‘Chrysler Beagle’?

Dear God: If a dog barks his head off in the forest and no human hears him, is he still a bad dog?

Dear God: We dogs can understand human verbal instructions, hand signals, whistles, horns, clickers, beepers, scent ID’s, electromagnetic energy fields and frisbee flight paths. What do humans understand?

Dear God: More meatballs, less spaghetti, please.

Dear God: Are there mailmen in heaven? If there are, will I have to apologize?

Dear God: Let me give you a list of just some of the things I must remember to be a good dog.

1. I will not eat the cat’s food before they eat it or after they throw it up.

2. I will not roll on dead seagulls, fish, crabs, etc., just because I like the way they smell.

3. The litter box is not a cookie jar.

4. The sofa is not a “face towel.”

5. The garbage collector is not stealing our stuff.

6. I will not play tug-of-war with dad’s underwear when he’s on the toilet.

7. Sticking my nose into someone’s crotch is an unacceptable way of saying “hello.”

8. I don’t need to suddenly stand straight up when I’m under the coffee table.

9. I must shake the rainwater out of my fur before entering the house – not after.

10. I will not come in from outside and immediately drag my butt.

11. I will not sit in the middle of the living room and lick my crotch.

12. The cat is not a “squeaky toy,” so when I play with him and he makes that noise, it’s usually not a good thing.

P.S. Dear God: When I get to heaven may I have my testicles back?

“Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened.”

Big Bird!

Here’s one I was lucky to catch a minute ago, but it’s a little far away. I was sitting in the living room, and we have a big picture window looking out to our front yard. I was sitting there, not really looking at anything in particular, and saw this BIG bird fly onto a branch about 50-75 feet from the house. I’m not sure but I think it’s a hawk. He raised his head after I took the picture, but I had the binoculars and wasn’t ready with my trigger finger!!! 😉

Author’s Roundtable: Ann Swann

How long have you been writing? Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

I’ve been writing since I was a teen, but I didn’t publish anything until college. I put off going to college until I was in my late 20s. Then, I enrolled in every creative writing course I could find. Until that point, I’d been sending out short fiction of the basement variety; you know, the kind that should really remain down in that trunk in the basement? But after a few excellent instructors, I began to see the error of my ways.

What books or stories have you written?

My first book was just published in December by Cool Well Press. “The Phantom Pilot” is a YA novella about a boy who witnesses a small plane crash behind his house. When the phantom pilot begins to haunt him, he enlists the aid of his pal, Stevie. He thinks she is brave because he saw her entering the town’s legendary haunted house, alone! I’ve also just signed the contract to publish the second book in the “Phantom” series: “The Phantom Student.” It will be out around Halloween. In addition, I’ve written three short stories for Cool Well. “The Soul Gardener” will be published in their anthology “Timeless.” It is coming out next month around Valentine’s Day. “Skeleton Rock” and “The Blister Bear” are stories that will be in “Campfire Tales.” That anthology will be published later this year, around September I believe.

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

I think the hardest thing I’ve had to overcome is self-doubt. When you have to work a full-time job and be a mommy and a wife, it’s really difficult to stand up and say, “Hey, I’m a writer. I’m going to go in this room and close the door, and I won’t be seen again until I’ve written!” Haha. That really is the hard part. Accepting that you must put writing first if you’re going to succeed.

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

Believe in yourself, but listen to the experts!

Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

Writing is a lifesaver. When something is wrong in my life, I have to write about it. I “write it out” so to speak.

Has writing made you a better person? Was there a point in your life where writing helped you deal with something, a death or a problem relationship perhaps?

Haha! I guess I sort of answered this one already. Yes, I’ve had to deal with trauma and death, first my estranged dad then, more recently, my mom. Writing has been my confidant; it goes right along with the old adage about books being our best friends. Well, they were my best friends anyway.

About Ann Swann

Ann currently works part-time as a researcher for an online journal “The Courthouse News Service.” She writes full-time. Married for many years to her handsome hubby, Dude, they live in dusty west Texas, and share the care and feeding of two rescue dogs and a rescue cat. Their children and grandchildren live only a short distance away which makes it great for drop-in visits and trips to Six Flags and Disneyland. In previous incarnations, through the years, Ann has been a waitress, a 911 dispatcher, an elementary school teacher and a radio station secretary. She blogs at and She would love to connect on Twitter. “The Phantom Pilot” is available at Amazon.

Termite Control at Home

Pest control can be a time-consuming and costly task, especially if you don’t first have a clear understanding of your situation. Termite infestations are among the most costly.  That’s because they can be inside your home for years without detection, all the while eating through the foundation and causing thousands of dollars of damage. Don’t be alarmed. There are steps you can take to safeguard your home from these pests and even fight them if you do encounter them. Do it yourself termite control doesn’t have to be as scary as you think as long as you are prepared. Preparation involves both preventative matters as well as assault matters.

First, these pests are attracted to wood. Be sure to keep your firewood away from your home. You may also want to replace your mulch with stone, treated wood or another product not made from trees. Or you can simply not mulch in close proximity to the home. Make it a habit of inspecting the wood and cardboard you bring into your home. 

You need to know what to look for when termites are a concern of yours. When termites are around, you’ll notice tubes made of mud. These are used for shelter during their trek from their home to yours.  Another tell-tale sign is the appearance of tiny holes in your drywall where termites have burrowed. 

If you do find yourself with an infestation, you can treat your wood. Termiticides will protect your wood from initial or further termite damage. This pesticide can be applied through injection or sprayed on as a liquid or foam. When deciding the best product or method to use, consider that the simpler to use topical sprays only protect what they cover and therefore don’t usually get to termites that are within the wood.

An alternative to spraying your home or injecting your foundation and furniture is to use termite bait. Baits are the simplest form of do it yourself termite control. These prepackaged systems simply have to be placed and the rest is up to the termite. Foragers will find the bait (usually a toxic piece of paper or cardboard), consume it and carry the slow-acting poison to its colony infecting others. This is often a preferred method because of its reach, but note that termite bait does not provide a repellent agent and therefore does not give the long-term results that a termiticide does.

Whatever method you choose to use, be sure to read all labels for directions and safe use.

About Heather Ashton

Heather Ashton is a home-improvement enthusiast from Atlanta, Ga. She loves to write about gardening, insects, photography, interior design and, of course, food! She has published many articles online with the goal of educating people more about different ways to improve their homes, without spending a lot of money. Check Heather out on Twitter and

Author’s Roundtable: Carolyn Arnold

How long have you been writing? Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

I have been writing faithfully for the past four and half years. As a teenager I used to write romance novellas, and insisted family and friends read everything. When they wouldn’t read it, I’d read it to them. You could say I was persistent.

However, writing disappeared from my life for approximately 13 years. Life changed significantly during this time. I did a lot of growing up, got married and moved three hours across the country. During this time, I always thought it would have been quite an accomplishment to complete a full-length novel, but it was nothing more than a thought.

Everything changed for me four and half years ago. Things weren’t going well at the day job; in fact, the entire department faced a layoff. Needless to say, none of us were very motivated. A co-worker emailed me towards the end of one work day and said “tell me a story”—randomly, out of the blue. Writing wasn’t something I ever talked about during these years. Regardless, I complied, typed up a few paragraphs and fired them back to her. She loved them and requested more. I kept writing and sending back the emails expanding on the storyline pulling from nothing but imagination. She told me that I needed to finish this. It turned out that’s all the encouragement I needed. This became the birthing point for my first full-length novel, “Life Sentence,” a romantic suspense.

What books or stories have you written?

To date, I have completed seven full-length novels. Most of these belong in the mystery, thriller and suspense genres, with the exception of my first book. I have published three novels—two police procedurals and one thriller—at the point of this interview.

My police procedurals, “Ties That Bind” and “Justified,” which surround major crimes detective Madison Knight have proven to be best-sellers for Amazon Kindle. For this I am extremely thankful to my readers.

I was also honored to find out my thriller, “Eleven,” was noted as a special recommendation read on the Miami Books Examiner’s “Top 12 Fiction Books of 2011” list.

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

Growing a thicker skin and not letting what one person’s opinion is to become the majority. It’s very important for an author to tune out the inherent internal critic. For authors attempting to get published the traditional way, most will find rejections are more abundant than requests for additional material. An author determined to get their work in the hands of their readers will not let anything deter them from doing so. Remember above when I mentioned I’d read my work to those who wouldn’t take the time to read it themselves? Above all else, an author needs to be persistent.

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

Be true to yourself and your work. Make yourself write on the days you don’t even feel like it. Sometimes those moments, where you push yourself, can prove be the most productive.

Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

Most definitely. Writing is, if nothing else, therapeutic. It allows one to release the daily stress and cares from their thinking process because they become preoccupied with something else. Writing gives an author an outlet to deal with emotions they may be experiencing in real life. Writing has a way of making an author make sense of happenings around them. Let me explain.

In life, people do things to us or others we may not understand, however, by analyzing the behavior—the motivators—we’re able to align perspective. In my opinion writing helps authors become empathic of others. As authors we have to see things from every standpoint, and this cannot help but transfer to real life.

Has writing made you a better person? Was there a point in your life where writing helped you deal with something, a death or a problem relationship perhaps?

This question is excellent and expands on what I touched on in my answer to the previous question. As noted, writing is therapeutic. If an author utilizes personal experiences and tragedies, this serves to enrich their work. The characters become relatable, and the situations become believable. 

As for the personal application of this question, I would say writing helps take me from stress I experience in my daily life. Unfortunately, my relationship is strained with the majority of my family at this point in time. It’s heartbreaking but there really doesn’t seem to be any resolution. Writing affords me the means of “escape” into a world of my creation.  When I finish a writing session, I am able to better deal with my real-life situation.

Keep up with Carolyn

The busy life of Carolyn Arnold

Currently she works full-time in Accounts Receivable for a mid-sized company in southwestern Ontario. She balances her “free time” by marketing her books, social networking, writing, editing, and reading and supporting her fellow authors. Carolyn also is the founder of Celebrating Authors, a site dedicated to bringing readers and authors together. She showcases authors through interviews, Amazon snapshots and a weekly feature called “The Independent Voice.” Needless to say this type of support takes up much of her time, but she believes in helping her fellow authors.

Also married nearly 16 years to her best friend, she enjoys relaxing with a glass of red wine and a good movie. Although not a mother to the human variety she is a “furry baby momma” to two beagles—Max and Chelsea.

Her goals moving forward are to continue bringing quality books to her readers. At least two more of her novels will be released in 2012.

Author’s Roundtable: Stacy Eaton

How long have you been writing? Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

I started writing in October 2010. Until the day I sat down to write, I had never thought about doing so. I have always been creative by nature, but had never had the urge to sit and write anything down on paper. I was working the night the idea came to me, and while I drove around on patrol all weekend, the thoughts built and built in my mind. Monday when I woke up, I sat down and started typing. I haven’t stopped.

What books or stories have you written?

Well, there are a few things going on here so let me explain. In published material I have the first two books of a paranormal/urban fantasy series done and on the market. “My Blood Runs Blue” is the first book in the series, and it was published in April 2010. “Blue Blood for Life,” the second book, was released in September 2010. I am currently working on book three and plan on ending the series with a fourth book.

While the series is paranormal and does contain vampires, something some people do not care for. I wrote this series to bring a sense of the real world into the paranormal plane. The vampires in this series work up close and personal with law enforcement. As I am a police officer by trade, I use my knowledge to take this fantasy story and bring it closer to real life with very authentic details.

I have found that not only is this intense, suspenseful, passionate story enjoyed by women, it is also very much enjoyed by men. Something I had not anticipated, and I am so very happy about.

I am also currently working on a dramatic fiction novel about domestic violence called “Whether I’ll Live or Die” that I am hoping to have out soon. A contemporary romance novel is sitting on my back burner currently begging to be finished also.

I am also currently working with another author to co-write a series about addictions.  This series starts with the title of “Blue Haze,” and is a very intense, gritty hardcore novel.  We hope to have it out later this year. The last thing I am working on is ideas for another paranormal series, but that is in concept stages only and I won’t really work on that until the “My Blood Runs Blue” series is done.

What are some of the hardest things you;ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

Finding the time to sit and write. With working a full-time job where my schedule rotates from days to nights every two weeks, to having a family, owning a business and dealing with all the other little things in life, it was hard to find the time to write, edit and then start learning how to promote my novel. People who have never published a book before have no idea the amount of time that goes into all those different aspects, especially marketing.

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

Help others, plain and simple. When someone helps you, help someone else back. Pay it forward and always be thankful. When someone helps you or teaches you something, find someone to share that with and teach them what you learned. Life is about helping others. While it is nice to get ahead, the best way to do that is to be happy with the things you have done in life that make life for others better. 

Also, know that not everyone is going to enjoy your story. Not everyone is going to be nice. Learn to accept that and move forward. Learn from what you can learn from and don’t carry the negative stuff around. It’s not worth it.

Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

It gets all these crazy voices out of my head! If it didn’t I might need medical attention to try and cure me. I find that writing helps relieve some of the stress, but it also gives me great enjoyment.

Has writing made you a better person? Was there a point in your life where writing helped you deal with something, a death or a problem relationship perhaps?

I’d like to believe that I was a good person before I started writing. I work in a career that is meant to help others. It is important for me to be able to help others deal with issues, in any little way that I can. I hope that my novel on domestic violence can reach some people who might need help. If it can, then it would really have made me a better person, and them too.

Jason, thank you so much for inviting me to the “Roundtable” on your blog! I have very much enjoyed meeting you, and look forward to your friendship and sharing my thoughts and writing with your guests.

Keep up with Stacy

The busy life of Stacy Eaton

Currently she works full-time as a police officer for a small township is southeastern Pennsylvania. While her current position is that of a patrol officer, she spend a lot of time doing investigations and crime scene processing. Forensics is something she loves, and she takes her job seriously. It is not just about proving who is guilty, it is also about proving people are innocent.

She is also a wife to a police officer and with their constant schedules, life can get very hectic at home. She has been blessed with two children. Her son is currently in the United States Navy, and she is very proud of him for what he is doing and for serving his country. Her daughter is a priceless princess who loves to help market her books to teachers and other parents while she is at school and church. She is also working on a book, too.

When she is not working the job that currently pays all the bills, she works on her business. Yes, she has her own business, too.

She also has two Shiloh Shepherd dogs, Garda and Callie. They are a bit different than the standard German Shepherds most people are used to. They are larger and less aggressive, and they have more fur! Garda has a face that resembles a wolf, which makes him extra special to Stacy. (You can see by the photo that she wears a wolf pendant). Garda actually means “The Guardian” in Irish. It is also the name of the Irish Police. Rather fitting for the family of officers don’t you think?

In her spare time… she writes.

Author’s Roundtable: J.C. Martin

How long have you been writing? Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

I have been writing on and off ever since I created my own comic book series as a kid, based on the adventures of my pet dogs. On top of all the stories I used to write in English class, I also wrote a YA mystery in the vein of R.L. Stine’s “Fear Street” series whilst in high school. Throughout university, I wrote fan fiction. So yeah, it’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing, but it was only recently that I decided I wanted to do it full-time.

Photo courtesy J.C. Martin

What books or stories have you written?

Apart from what I mentioned above, which I’d be ashamed to show to anyone today, I wrote a few short stories and flash fiction that have been published in anthologies by New Asian Writing, Pill Hill Press, and Static Movement, among others. As an experiment in self-publishing, I also released a horror novelette, “The Doll,” available on Amazon and Smashwords. My crime novel, “Oracle,” will be released by J. Taylor Publishing on July 30, 2012.  

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

I taught science in secondary school for five years. I enjoyed my job, loved the kids, but what with all the extra tuition, after-school clubs, marking, meetings with parents and project assessments, I had zero time for writing. My work days used to start at 7:30 a.m., and I got home around 7 p.m. Sure, there were lots of holidays, but the term always used to drain me so much that I ended up doing zilch once vacation started. Now, I could have done what many people do and write tiny bits over long years until they complete their manuscript, but my story was eating at me. The fact that “Oracle” is set in London in the run-up to the Olympics, I wanted to release it in 2012.

So, I quit my teaching job, one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make. I became a self-employed martial arts instructor instead. Although it’s still something I enjoy, it pays half of what I used to get as a teacher, but that meant I got much more time for my writing.

Here’s hoping it’ll all be worth it! 😉

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

You know all those rules on writing? They’re not so much rules as guidelines: generally wise to follow them, but sometimes, when it feels right, feel free to disregard them.

Want to start a sentence with a conjunction? Need to use an adverb? Why not? Getting bogged down with following each and every writing rule will cripple your style, and your writing could lose its voice and soul.

How do you get inspiration for your books? Are there life lessons you have used as inspiration?

I get inspired by random things I see and hear. My inspiration for “Oracle,” of course, came amid the excitement in London when we won the 2012 Games bid. Soon after, the press reported all sorts of hoo-hahs about stadium building schedules, budget deficits, transport and congestion problems, you name it. I thought, why not add a serial killer to the mix? That’d really stress out all those PR experts!

So far, I’ve been inspired by computer games (fan fiction), real locations (“The Doll” was inspired by the creepy but very real Island of the Dolls in Mexico; my “WiP,” the sequel to “Oracle,” was inspired by the many disused old London underground stations dotted around the city), and as scientist by recent developments in science. I’ve even been inspired by my own writing: a minor character in “Oracle” just refuses to get out of my head, and I’m planning a thriller series with him as the main character.

Who knows where my next flash of inspiration will come from?

Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

Apart from the fact that it keeps me from going insane from all the voices in my head and that I can kill people who annoy me in real life (without using their names, of course)? Like any craft or art form, the benefits come from the sense of fulfilment and achievement one gets from creating something beautiful, that could be appreciated by someone else. Like music, art and pottery, it is both a hobby and a passion, a skill you continuously hone, and if you’re lucky enough, one that you could make a living out of.

Has writing made you a better person? Was there a point in your life where writing helped you deal with something, a death or a problem relationship perhaps?

I’m afraid my life is a bit more boring than the life of my characters. It has never helped me through any rough patches in life, but it is something I turned to often, because I have a story to tell. But I have definitely benefited from writing, especially online, where I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful fellow writers!

Photo courtesy J.C. Martin

About J.C. Martin

J.C. Martin is a butt-kicking bookworm: when she isn’t reading or writing, she teaches martial arts and self-defense to adults and children.

After working in pharmaceutical research, then in education as a school teacher, she decided to put the following to good use: 1) her second-degree black belt in Wing Chun kung fu and 2) her overwhelming need to write dark mysteries and gripping thrillers with a psychological slant.

Her short stories have won various prizes and have been published in several anthologies. “Oracle” is her first novel.

Born and raised in Malaysia, J.C. now lives in south London with her husband and three dogs.