Blog Archive

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Creating Your Protagonist: Author Interview with Allen B. Boyer

You’ve now published several books, but what inspired you to write that first one? How long did it take you to write your first book that was published?

My goodness, Arthur Ashe and Me goes all the way back to 2003. It was published by Perfection Learning and they really took their time considering it. It took me a year to write, then it was a two year process before the book finally got published.

That book was inspired by a lovely place. Every summer my Dad and I would play tennis on two clay courts next to an abandoned barn that served as a clubhouse. The courts were next to a corn field. The property was surrounded by trees and fields. There were no houses. No powerlines. Not even the sound of a car or a person talking in the air. I just remember going there, looking at the surroundings and thinking magic could happen here and no one would know.

You have 3 mystery series with 3 different protagonists. How do you go about creating your protagonist’s characteristics?
The first two series were inspired by actual people. The Bess Bullock Retirement Home Series was based on a dear aunt of mine who was very charming. She could charm the socks off anyone at her retirement home. So I took that quality, and combined it with my wife’s grandmother, who was a very bright person and did many things to challenge her brain as she grew older. Whether it was reading a book a week, or being shuttled from her retirement home to proctoring college classes. She lived to one hundred and was always challenging her brain. So those two ladies really combined to make up the character of Bess Bullock.

As for The Dupree Sisters Series, the character of Charlotte Dupree was based on a good friend. This friend, also named Charlotte, worked on Capital Hill in Washington DC during the 1950s and 60s. She knew John Kennedy when he was a representative. She also remember Al Gore’s father celebrating his birth. This friend had a very pleasant personality when you met her but she also had a sharp tongue when it came to politics. So, when I write about Charlotte Dupree, a lot of her qualities were based on this friend.

How do you go about plotting your mystery? 
I know every writer is different with plotting. There are a good many that like to outline every detail. For me, a story is an organic thing. It is like a movie I see in my head when I write a story and that’s what leads me to plot twists and scenes. In the case of my latest book, I did think about the victim first and that really helped to get the story flowing.

What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing? 
When I was in college, I received praise from professors for short story writing. Their comments really helped me to realize I was a pretty good author. I got some short stories published before I thought about trying to write a book. Arthur Ashe and Me was my first attempt at writing a novel and I got very lucky that it was picked up by the only publisher I sent it to.

Marketing is the biggest key to getting sales. What is the best marketing source you've used that has produces more sales rather than just clicks? 
I've had good experiences with BookBub, Fussy Librarian, and AllAuthor. For this latest release, I've done a variety of blog sites like this one. And, of course, social media sites. It is the "blue collar" work of writing a book that you have to roll up your sleeves to do. However, it is nice to meet people you'd normally not meet and talk to.

What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner? 
That's a hard question. Back in 2020 when we were all in lock down, I found a story I began to write twenty-five years earlier. I dusted it off and began to re-write it. What I found was how much my writing style had changed. It was like collaborating with someone else. Back then I'd go off on creative passages about character and setting. Now, I think my writing is more balanced between the narrative and details. Also, I have better pacing with my writing than I did years ago, but balance would be the thing I learned.

What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give? 
Enjoy your story. I think readers can tell when a writer is putting in the work without having any pleasure in what they are creating. I spend anywhere from nine months to a year writing a book. If I didn't like the story or the characters it would be a very miserable experience.

Are there any other points about writing you would like to add? 
I think itt's important to really engage the senses of a reader when I write. The sights, scents, sounds and tastes are elements I try to be conscious of when writing. I think it helps to keep the reader engaged.

What is the next book coming out?
Can you give me a short synopsis? 
One series I write centers on two elderly sisters, Charlotte and Ruth Dupree, who live in Washington DC. They are also two of the oldest socialites in Washington. In each of their three books, the Dupree sisters use their social connections to solve mysteries. A year ago, I was interested in writing a fourth book for this series. I was doing research on two places in Washington DC. My research focused on Ford's Theatre and Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, which is the oldest girl's school in the country. In June, the book was finally released. A Fall at Ford's Theatre begins with the Dupree Sisters attending a show at Ford's Theatre when a body drops from a balcony and lands right in front of them. Their investigation into what happened leads them to their old school, Georgetown Visitation Prep, and a decades old mystery that was never solved.

Sounds intriguing. If you'd like to learn more about Allen's writing, here's the link to his author page on Amazon:

And here's a bonus for my readers, leave a comment on this post and we'll pick one reader who'll receive a copy of one of  Allen's eBooks. So do that now. It can be as simple as I want to be in the giveaway. We'll chose a winner next Friday!

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Writing Niches in Time: Author Interview with Anne Perreault

You’ve now published several books, but what inspired you to write that first one? How long did it take you to write your first book that was published? You write both historical and contemporary romance? Which is easier or more enjoyable to write?

My first book was a story that had been part of my life for about 30 years, give or take. I had used it to escape reality when things were tough. Since I'm a Christian, I thoroughly believe in the power of God and hearing His voice in our heart. I was sitting in the library, finishing a book I had written for my daughter. That had taken 12 years to write and it won't be published. It was practice. I recall thinking how much fun it was to write this story and I asked, kind of in a prayer, Now what, God? 

I certainly didn't expect to hear back. And when the response came, it was to my heart. The response was, Write the story. Since I knew exactly which story was implicated I pretended I hadn't heard or that it was a mistake. But I couldn't get over it. So, over the next few months, I really made sure that I had heard correctly and that it wasn't something I was making up on my own. 

It became pretty clear that I was to write this story that had been with me for most of my life and so I finally relented. It only took me a month to write book 1. The rest of this 5 book series took another two month. Rewriting and editing and waiting for it to be published took about three years. My first book, Skating for Grace, was published in 2015.

I write anything that comes to my attention. I enjoy writing historical fiction. I love history. I find it is super hard to write. You really need to do a ton of research and things might not fit well with how you had envisioned the story going. My favorite historical fiction book to write was Defending My Father's House, a WWII fiction based on my family history.

How do you choose a time period? 
I don't chose a time period per se. The story finds me and I fit it into a setting that is appropriate for the characters and the challenges they face. I do enjoy doing the research for the historical fiction books. I am a very visual learner and have found YouTube to be a treasure trove of information.

What’s one of the most unique facts you’ve discovered in doing your research?
The most interesting story I came across while researching for Defending My Father's House was the story of Operation Cowboy. I didn't end up using it for this book because it didn't quite fit in the way the story unfolded. Operation Cowboy was basically the operation that rescued the famous Lipizzaner horses from being eradicated by the Russian army at the end of WWII, during the last days of fighting. 

Patton's army managed to help get the invaluable mares, foals, and stallions that had been sent to the country for protection during the war, out of the grasps of the Red Army as they came into the town of Hochstau where the herd had been hidden during the war. It was a daring and dangerous adventure. It was a collaboration between the defeated German forces in the area and the Americans. As a horse lover, I was completely taken in by it. I'm kind of sad it never made it into the book or didn't become part of the story.

What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?

I've been so blessed to have a group of amazing authors and readers surround me. I couldn't do this without them keeping me from dipping down into despair that comes with the territory. Being an author is probably the most difficult endeavor I have undertaken. So, I would say that the most valuable advice anyone has ever given me is to find my support group with other authors. It's incredibly important for my own mental health.

Marketing is the biggest key to making sales. What is the best marketing source you've used that has produced more sales rather than just clicks?
I struggle with marketing. I haven't found that sweet spot yet. I find that even when I think I might have found something, it isn't a sure thing. I've run paid promos that have worked beautifully. And then suddenly, out of the blue, they stop working. It's super frustrating and I have no idea what to do about it.

What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner?
It's not about going it alone, doing all the work myself. Yes, I have to do most of the work myself because I can't afford to pay for services. But... gather I've gathered a team around me and it works like clockwork. It's beautiful and powerful and humbling. I'm not the end-all of that team. It's all of us, working toward the goal.

What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give?

I think the best advice I've received is to be encouraging to others. It's not about me. It's always about the reader and about the story. Yes, I write how I want the story to go, but in the end, the reader has to be willing to read it. And if I keep in mind that I'm going to bless that readers with the words I write, that I'll build them up by writing certain things, it's another humbling process.

What is the next book coming out? Can you give me a short synopsis?
Dare to Dream, book 2 in Arabian Nights, just came out May 31.

Tradition will destroy her future.
The past threatens their dreams.
Until they are willing to surrender all.

Fatima Sayeed’s troubled, dark past is now firmly behind her, and new challenges are on the horizon. Soon, she and her best friend Amira will graduate from university and pursue their careers. And Zahir, the good and kind man she has come to love with all her heart, seems to be on the verge of proposing marriage. But all of these new changes are overshadowed by old doubts and fears. Is she enough to be Zahir’s wife? She’s failed once already. What if moving forward ruins everything they’ve built?

Smart, successful, and determined, Amira is one of only a handful of women to ever graduate with a degree in her field. That alone ought to be enough for her, but somehow, it isn’t. She admires the tender affection between her friend Fatima and her brother Zahir, but that sort of thing isn’t something an independent woman like her needs. Or . . . is it?

Zahir is set on proposing to Fatima and eager to start their married life together. He dreams of having children and growing old with her, but a nagging dark feeling has him on edge. When he finds himself between a rock and a hard place, he is forced to make a choice with devastating consequences.

In this time of change and upheaval, relationships will be tested, and hearts will be put on the line, hard questions will demand answers. Will bitterness keep Amira from seeing the truth about herself? Is Fatima strong enough to face her fears? Can Zahir accept that not all his dreams will come true?

Sounds intriguing! If you'd like to learn more about Anne's many books, here's a link that will give you all her details from current and upcoming books, facebook updates, newsletters, and much more.

And here's a bonus for my readers, leave a comment on this post and we'll pick one reader who'll receive a copy of one of  Anne's eBook, Defending My Father's House So do that now. It can be as simple as I want to be in the giveaway. We'll chose a winner a week from today!