Saturday, 31 July 2021

Branching Out with Author Stephanie LaVigne of Florida.

 



Stephanie is represented by the publicity firm of Creative Edge and is a welcome addition to the ongoing series of author appearances on the Scribbler.

 

When I visited Stephanie’s eye-catching website - Stephanie LaVigne • Author – I was greeted by the following:

…things here are whimsical, witty and uplifting   …with an occasional side of mystery & mayhem.

 

It is an absolute delight to have such an accomplished author as our guest this week. She has kindly agreed to a Branching Out Interview, so…

 

Let’s chat with Stephanie.

 

 

 

Allan: Thank you for taking the time to be our guest, Stephanie. Before we discuss your novels and writing, can you please share some personal details with our readers? Where you reside, family & friends or pets.

 

Stephanie: Thank you so much for having me, Allan!

I live back in my hometown of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The same place I dismissed as being awful at eighteen, only to find many years later that I love its bizarre, beautiful, beachy small-city feel. Now, not only do I love it here, but it’s the setting for many of my upcoming books!

I am lucky enough to live close to my family which is amazingly nice. Especially considering I have three young children who are never short on energy or imagination. I’m also married to a wonderful guy who lives in the madhouse alongside me. We live about a mile from the beach, but don’t nearly go as often as we should. I do make a point to drive by it a lot. Simply knowing that it’s there always makes me feel better.

We currently have a butterfly garden that has taken over our backyard. I always tell our kids that their youngest sibling is the family pet, but they aren’t convinced that’s sufficient. Thankfully they like the butterflies and caterpillars lately, so it’s serving as a placeholder.

 

 




Allan: You write both Mystery and Romance. Is it a separation of the genres or do you combine both in your stories? Which do you find easiest or the most fun?

 

Stephanie: The most recent book I did was a crossover with both romance and mystery. The story is a mystery at the root of it, with a little sweet romance thrown in.

My romances, in general, don’t tend to have a mystery angle. They are feel-good fare with more of a focus on family, friend, and romantic dynamics alongside the personal journey of the main characters. My mysteries include those emotional aspects, but the driving force of those stories are still centralized around the whodunnit.

I don’t know which genre is easier. I want to say romance, but I’ve also been writing them longer. Romance takes less intensive plotting. With a mystery, I have to reverse-engineer the mystery or crime so that I know what I’m doing and making sure the book leads up to where it needs to be. I try to plot and outline both, but the stories inevitably change to some degree during the writing process as the characters develop into more fully formed personalities.

 

 


 

Allan: When was the defining moment you decided to write stories and seek to be a published author?

 

Stephanie: I had two defining moments. The first one was when I decided to leave the film industry and let myself go back to the drawing board to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I realized then that I definitely wanted to be a writer. I was not sure yet what that would look like, whether it would be writing for magazines, or TV, or novels. I didn’t know anyone who was a professional writer and the information available wasn’t quite what it is today. I sat down and had a blast writing a novel in a month. It was messy and unstructured, but the story was there. Mind you, I had never really thought too much about writing a full-length fiction book before. Previous to that, I had written things like screenplays and short stories. As soon as I confirmed what my life path should be, I immediately changed course and decided to become a photographer.

 

This leads to the second defining moment that I knew I wanted to be a writer! I was lucky enough to have a career in photography and design for several years, but I always knew deep down that I wasn’t on the right track for me. After I had my first child, the stress of having a newborn and being out on photo shoots, then coming home to do marathon hours of editing, was really breaking me. And the deep-down voice within me knew that I should get out. The photos I took were pretty cool, but still something didn’t feel right. Finally, I looked at my life and said, “it is time to start trying to be a writer, whatever that means.” At that point I knew what it was like to start from scratch in a new business, so that part had become less daunting. I knew that I just needed to be brave enough to put myself out there and be willing to be vulnerable. I was never really scared of doing that in photography, but I was secretly terrified to fail as a writer.

 


So I started on my writer’s journey in secret and didn’t tell anyone other than one of my closest girlfriends what I was doing. Six months in, I finally admitted it to my husband and I think it was nearly four years before I sat down and told my dad what I was doing. Now everyone knows and even on the stressful days I feel content like I am on the right path. I’m also proud of myself for finally being willing to try the thing I was most afraid of.

 


 

Allan: Headlines, Deadlines and Lies from The Sunshine State: Cozy + Crime Series is on pre-order. Please tell us about this story.

 



Stephanie: It’s live now! This was a Cozy Mystery-Sweet Romance crossover akin to the Hallmark Channel Mystery TV Shows. It is a genealogical mystery where the main character, Piper, has to uncover some incontinuities in her best friend’s family tree. She’s trying to learn more about her best friend’s long-lost dad, who died as a young man in the Navy, but she quickly finds that things aren’t adding up.

 

I wrote it when the world was feeling very intense and heavy. I wanted to see if I could write a compelling mystery without centering it around a murder or other cataclysmic event. So it makes for a very uplifting read! I tell people that so that they recognize that it is a little bit different from a traditional mystery, or cozy mystery even, because you come to expect that central crime or calamity. If you’re in the right mindset and looking for something to make you feel a little smiley- and then maybe end up scrutinizing your own family history a little more closely- you’ll have a great time with this book!


  

 

Allan: The Homecoming is the newest addition to your Fox Hill Southern Mystery Series. What can our readers expect when they pick up their copy?

 


Stephanie: This story was put on the back-burner for a lot longer than I intended. I had considered ending the series at book three, but it always felt incomplete. The final book brings some unsolved backstories from the other books full circle and makes Caitlyn, Kurt, Reba, and the rest of the Fox Hill gang’s story feel complete. It’s a touching yet fairly wild, hijinky ride to the end! Hopefully readers will enjoy it!

 

 

 

Allan: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote.

 

Stephanie: I am going to tell you the first one that pops into my mind. Once when I was somewhere around 12 or 13, my parents and I were on a bike ride in our Florida neighborhood. I was obviously at an age where I was a perfectly competent bike rider, and at some point, we were riding on the sidewalk spread out in a single file line when I noticed the large cement electrical line poles strewn down the block. There was one about twenty feet ahead of me. As I’m riding, I’m kind of in the zone and randomly think to myself, “imagine how awful it would be to run into one of those.” Which I thought was a ridiculous notion because the pole was not even on the actual sidewalk, simply butting up against it in the grass.



My thoughts went from wondering if people ever run into it, to fixating on not running into it by saying over and over, “don’t hit the pole.” Now mind you, I had plenty of clearance, I was a skinny 12 or 13-year-old on a 5-foot-wide sidewalk. But as I mentally repeated the mantra to not run into that giant cement pole, I slammed right into it and got thrown wildly off my bike.

Every once in a while, I think of that when I apply my adult knowledge that if you focus on the wrong thing, you will put all your energy toward that thing and lead yourself right to it. Don’t focus on the things you’re afraid of, focus on the road ahead or the positive goal you do want to achieve. Because I will tell you, slamming into the thing you wanted to avoid and being thrown to the ground is not that fun.

 

 

 

 

Allan: From reading your bio - About — Stephanie LaVigne • Author – you’ve lived an exciting life and have settled in Southern Florida to write full time. How much of your past adventures find their way into your stories? How many of Stephanie LaVigne’s personality is evidenced in your characters?

 

Stephanie: Many of my stories have absolutely no basis in my real life. For example, I’ve never faked my own death or had to save the family ranch alongside my four siblings. Though I’m sure every one of my books still has elements of me or my experiences woven in. Recently, I’ve been having fun with a new character because she embodies the sarcastic, confident yet playful “tough girl” side of me that doesn’t get to come out as much because I’m always home with my kids and husband. When I’m writing, she often gets to act and respond in ways that feel very organic to me. Often though, I’ll channel relationships with different people I’ve had or seen and try to get into the heads of my characters when I’m writing. Even though I’m making it up, I’m sure it’s easier when the personality type isn’t completely foreign to me.

I’ve had so many different experiences that it makes it easy to pull bits of familiarity into my stories through that, which I do like to do. I assume that even when I’m writing about something that is purely fiction, it still has some elements of me, even if simply in the fact that it’s a location or premise that piques my interest. I’ve never lived in the mountains, but I’ve always had a fascination with cowgirls for example. 




So when I’m working on a contemporary Western romance, there is still that fascination with mountain life that I have, and I’ll pull from some of my memories of visiting those areas. I don’t tend to write about things that aren’t interesting to me.

 

 

 

 

Allan:  Favorite authors? Books? Movie? Dessert?

 

Stephanie: It’s funny because I don’t have favorites, generally speaking. Especially when it comes to books. I love too many books and I cannot choose.

For movies, I lean toward comedy, action adventure or heist films. A lot of the movies I consider “my favorite” are kind of ridiculous. For example, many years ago I realized I had copies of pretty much every Burt Reynolds movie. Add in Dom DeLuise and Sally Fields, I am going to call it a classic. So from Cannonball Run to all three Smokey and the Bandits, I own them and truly love them. Back to the Beach with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, which was made in the 80’s, is also part of my coveted movie collection. I really enjoy movies where the actors work together a lot because they are truly friends. Something about that shines through to me. I also like how Burt Reynolds always randomly breaks the third wall in every movie he’s in and either winks, or cocks an eyebrow and smirks. It simply makes me smile.

As for dessert, I tend to be a decadent chocolate dessert person. If you give me a fruit-based dessert, I will gladly eat it, but I will consider it breakfast.

 

 

 

Allan: Anything else you’d like to share with us?

 

Stephanie: I will just leave whoever is reading this with the reminder that you are never alone in this big ol’ world. Sometimes all of us feel alienated or alone, full of self-doubt, overly critical, or scared to take a chance on trying to live a life that we think would make us happier. But now more than ever, there are ways to find people who will believe in you, support you, love you, and support you through the ups and downs of life. Maybe you will find that in a good book, in an online group, even in a pet, or just one good friend you can call. But sometimes that is more than enough. Know and believe that you are wonderful in your own unique way, and know that I am here championing for you to live your own incredible life.

 



***That's a beautiful thought Stephanie. 

 






  

Thank you, Stephanie, for taking the time to share your thoughts and for being our guest this week. Wishing you continued success with your stories.

 



For all you fantastic visitors wanting to discover more about Stephanie and her writing and where to buy her novels, please follow these links:

 

 

www.StephanieLaVigne.com

https://www.facebook.com/thestephanielavigne

https://www.instagram.com/thestephanielavigne

https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-LaVigne/e/B014DUTKOY

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/stephanie-lavigne?follow=true

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14291865.Stephanie_LaVigne




Sunday, 25 July 2021

The Troubled Waters by Allan Hudson

 

 

I’d like to share one of my short stories with you this week.


 

Photo by Marcus Woodbridge/Unsplash Images.



The Troubled Waters


The waves are relentless at battering the coastal cliffs. Water, soft as taffeta, reduces the shoreline to chunks of broken rock and diminished stature. Nathan Hall ponders the damage to the edge of his property and curses the wind and the rain. He raises his fist at the breakers that are bashing their heads against the bluff marking the peripheral of his land.

“Damn you Mother Nature! Will you continue to steal the very sod my ancestors gave to me?”

Over a hundred years have passed since Nathan’s great grandfather fished from the very waters destined to destroy his only legacy. Chewing up on the edges, little by little, the earth gives way to the authority of the sea. He built a home on ground solid enough to withstand the ferocity of northern gales, the sun’s hottest days, winter’s temper. The sea though, is a different story. Nathan will be the last of the Halls to inhabit the property of his ancestors. 

The rain pelts the wrinkled skin of the man, plastering his hair upon his forehead. It does nothing however to soften his features as he holds his face up in defiance. Nor does it wash away the torment he carries. Like the diminishing shore, his spirit has eroded with the pounding of the years. Between his body and his left arm, he clutches a photo album. Tears escape across his cheeks, impossible to distinguish from the raindrops, except for the salt of his sorrow. He drops to his knees, his head hanging. As the album falls to the damp ground on its spine, the wind flips the cardboard edges until it rests open with pictures tinting the wet verdancy with a square of black and white.


Photo by Laura Fuhrman/Unsplash Images.


As if to taunt him, the album falls to images of his son, his only child. Blurry eyed, he ignores them until the photos become indistinguishable. He doesn’t want to see them anymore. Not enough years have gone by for him to forget the haunting memory of an anguished sea claiming his son’s body and his future. Ripping the photos out one by one he throws them into the wind. They tumble, and flitter like birds as they drift out to sea. He yells into the storm.

“Take them you selfish whores. The same as you took my Davey forty years ago. Like you took my Helen.”

Frustrated with anger at not being able to get them out fast enough, he begins tearing whole pages out, flipping them into the air, watching them twirl and spiral away. When he starts to tear out the last page, the wind suddenly dies. The rain stops. Fierce clouds, warriors of the sky, split apart to reveal a brilliant ray of gold that sweeps across the waves, as if admonishing them to calm down. The immediate stillness astonishes Nathan. He’s stunned into inaction as he watches the seascape change dramatically from rage to pacifist. He’s never witnessed such a phenomenon.

 He wipes the moisture from his face, pushes the hood covering his head onto his shoulders and fingers the unruly locks from his forehead. Gaping at the whitecaps on the horizon as they dissolve, he rises and steps closer to the precipice. As he gazes down the rocky incline, he almost slips and steps back, unsure of the soft ground. The shredded album hangs by his side. It slips from his wet fingers and lands at his feet, pulling his attention away from the vista. Only one picture was left pasted on the last page. An eight by ten of him, his wife and baby David. On the other side are four photos. All of Helen.

Despite his anger to rid himself of all reminders, his shoulders sag at the thought of losing these last few images. Tearing the page from the binder, he hurls the empty album into the air and without the wind, it plunges into the sand at the base of the cliff. Hugging the last page to his chest, he studies the skyline, his features at rest, a calm after the storm. The troubled clouds have had enough of each other and break up into meaningless clumps. The morning sun sprinkles its warming glow where it can. A warm zephyr whispers to the water close to shore causing small ripples to lick the sand. Feeling somewhat weightless and tired, he looks for a spot to sit.

An old tree trunk lies close to the cliff edge. Once mighty and tall, it now lies dead and fading into the future one splinter at a time. He doesn’t care that it’s wet. He rests his butt on a smooth patch and flips the page over to the four pictures of Helen. The top left is one of her at a dance when she was a teenager. Her and her sister Martha are jiving together, their skirts flying and their ponytails swinging, glee evident in their large smiles. It was the night he met her. He can still recall the pink sweater and navy skirt, the enthusiasm in her eyes and how easily she blushed. It was the last dance of the night, a waltz and a lady’s tag. It had been the first dance he’d attended. He was thirteen. Too shy to venture onto the floor or ask someone to dance, he’d been a wallflower all night. He can still feel how his heart began beating faster when he watched her approach. Part of him wanted her to keep on walking, not center him out. Another side wanted to hear her voice. It was soft, melodic, like the last song.

“Would you like to dance with me?”


 

Photo by Alexandra Gorn/Unsplash Images.



The second photo on the top is her walking away from the photographer. Her head is down exploring the beach she strolls on, always looking for washed up glass pieces. The shoreline curves to the left to go around a bend, the water to her right. Her legs are bare to the knees where they meet rolled-up denim shorts. A short sleeveless blouse, with frills around the neck and the bottom show off her slim waist. A broad smile crosses Nathan’s face. He was the photographer.

Gazing off into the sky, his vison blurs. A memory so vivid, it could’ve happened a few days ago. They were exploring the cliffs at the edge of the property. She loved the beach. The surf and ice had carved shallow caves from the sandstone and left a carpet of fine granular sand, soft as a kitten’s fur. Along with his camera, he carried a picnic basket and a blanket. They cuddled into the larger hollow, scrutinizing the sun rays dancing on the surface of the wavelets. The blanket bore witness to the union of their souls and the tiny drops of blood could never be washed out.

Nathan looks out at the water where they caves would’ve been all those years ago. Only a few large slabs of stone are all that’s left. During high tide, they disappear. He takes a deep breath, smelling the heady scent of wet earth and brine. Pausing, he uses all his will power not to blink. He’s cried enough. His attention turns to the bottom left photo.

 

Photo by Jacalyn Beales/Unsplash Images.



It’s a close up of Helen when she graduated from Beauty School. It would’ve been in the school’s year book. Nathan touches the photo, his finger tracing her full lips, so red they look dark gray on the photo. Her light brown hair ends at her shoulders with a casual flip all around, a style popular in the seventies. The eyes. Nathan shakes his head with a smirk, reminding himself he could always read her looks. The eyes told him everything. When she was angry, her eyes said stay away. Or if she was excited, they said follow me. Or when she hugged him, they said I love you. Sliding the photo from its protective holder, he puts it in his coat pocket.

 

The fourth photo was taken the week before she died. She’s lying on the grass where she had been staring up at the clouds. Full of mirth, she was poking fun at the formations and how they reminded her of Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse or Bullwinkle the moose. He took the picture. He had to stand over her to get her photo and he remembers her gazing at the lens and him telling her how beautiful she was. When she turned her head to the side, cheeks rosy, he snapped the shot.

Even now, he feels the same way. Her beauty hasn’t dwindled in his mind. Several loose strands of hair fall on her cheek: her T-shirt off shoulder and her breasts like plump oranges, her navel showing and just the top section of her jeans. A lump in his throat makes him look away with pursed lips and a sad luster in his eyes. The memories so fierce. He removes this photo as well and adds it to the same pocket. Shoving it in deeper, he disturbs the letter he has in there.  He removes it and places it on the log beside him, ignoring it while he flips the page of photos over to the eight by ten.

 

Davey was only a month old when the picture was taken. A professional image from Robertson’s Studio. He thinks the owner’s name was Ben or something like that, he can’t remember for sure. Silly enough, he recalls the man’s easy laughter and how he fussed over them to get the best light. The black and white photo has been colored by hand. The faces all have the same blush of rouge on their cheeks. The clothing has a soft tinge as if you’re looking at it through gauze. The jumper his mother gave them for the baby is an appropriate blue. Nathan’s suit, dark brown. Helen’s blouse a shy pink. He had a moustache then. Long twirly ends to make handlebars. Helen thought it quite dashing, called him her pirate. He laughs out loud at the absurdity of it now and almost falls off the log.  The moment he falters and reaches to catch himself, the page of photos shoots in the air. Gasping at what happened, without thinking he lunges for it. His next step will take him over the cliff.


Photo by David Solce/Unsplash Images.


He catches himself right at the edge, his toes in thin air, the balls of his feet on firm rock, his heels an inch off the ground. He arches his back trying to arrest his fall forward. Arms start propelling to pull himself back as he totters on an edge like the tip of a knife. Glancing down at the jagged rock twenty feet below, a torrent of wounds flash through his head, with death close behind. Heart pounding, frightened, his back impossibly arched, he twirls his arms faster now, until he starts to regain his balance. Tipping back toward land, he falls on his side, panting and holding his chest. A tide of relief overwhelms him. He turns on his back and rests his forearm across his eyes. The sun is directly overhead and blazes with a gratifying warmth. He lies still for many moments before his heart becomes still and his breathing regular.

A wandering cloud, grey and spiteful on the bottom, pure fluff on the top, stirs in an upper wind and blots out the sun for a moment. During its snail’s pace, it mutates into a face-like shape, its features becoming distinct. With a long snout, a floppy ear, tongue hanging out, it looks like a dog. It reminds him of Helen in the grass seeing cartoon characters and it makes him think of Pluto, the dog. The laugh starts with a titter, then a hearty chuckle and a second later, full belly-holding guffaws. He’s laughing at the stupid dog and he’s laughing in reaction to coming close to dying. It goes on until his stomach hurts and he’s gasping for breath. Curled up in the damp grass, he realises how good it felt to laugh out loud. It seems like forever since anything’s been so amusing. He opens his eyes to the cloud now shaped like nothing recognizable, just an ordinary cloud. The sun flicks its edge around the sky wanderer and catches him in the eye.

Blinking, he shuffles backwards on his rump and palms until his back is against the log. Concentrating on the water, as motionless as the pictures he lost, he takes a deep breath, rethinking his original intentions at tearing into the storm. The strain on his brow makes him look like a man that has to choose between right or left, right or wrong. Looking out to where the land stretches away from him, only a ribbon of his land remains. It’s divided from his neighbour by a rusty wire fence with grey-faced poles, older than Nathan by many years. The erosion will soon be a problem for the couple next door.

In the other direction, the fence follows a bend to the right, where a half an acre of land still remains. A handsome house, needing fresh paint, sits only a few feet from the cliff’s edge. It may be one or two winters before the old wooden home meets its executioner. The motion of looking back at the house disturbs the letter he set there earlier. It falls to his side. He finds the underside is wrinkled and damp when he picks it up. The seal around the bottom of the V is starting to curl. The face is blank. No address. He’d meant to put it in plastic, tightly wrapped so it wouldn’t get wet but in his rage he forgot.

It doesn’t matter now. Tomorrow when the sun comes up, he’s going to start packing.

 The End





Thanks to all you wonderful readers for visiting the Scribbler. I hope you enjoyed the story. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

 




Next week you will meet Author Stephanie LaVigne of Florida.

  


 

 

 

Watch for the next Drake Alexander Adventure - Vigilantes.

Cover Reveal August 1/2021




Saturday, 17 July 2021

Authors Anita Dawes & Jaye Marie of Southern England.

 

Anita


Jaye Marie



This week, the Scribbler welcomes sisters Anita Dawes & Jaye Marie. Two accomplished authors who share many things – a popular website, a passion for writing, a love of detective thrillers, supporting authors and having fun. 

It’s a pleasure to have them as guests this week. Read on to discover more.

 

Take it away, Ladies.

 

 

 

When Allan asked us to write a post for his website, we thought we could tell you how we began…

 

8 years ago, when we first started hearing about indie publishing, we never thought for a moment that it could be something we could do, as the thought of anything complicated to do with a computer, apart from playing solitaire, that is, filled us with dread.

 

I had been writing for years and submitted my work to most of the mainstream publishers. Very nearly made it too, but as they say, a miss is as good as a mile! Which was a shame, for many people liked what I wrote.

 


It didn’t take long for the idea of doing it ourselves to take root in our imagination and became something we were determined to do. So, I enlisted the help of my sister, Jaye, as she is far more computer literate than I and much more stubborn too!

 

What Jaye had to learn was incredible, and unbelievably hard. I tried to keep up with her, but there were days when she was pulling her hair out. Some of it was easy, which tended to lull us into a false sense of achievement, but we persevered.

 

Eventually, we learned how to upload manuscripts to Amazon, and I was finally a published author (well, sort of).

 

Then something strange happened. Jaye began to write too. She had always been content with her many hobbies and to edit my work, but writing gets into your blood. Different characters started talking to her and before we knew what was happening, there were two writers in the family!

 


Learning how to do all of that was a nightmare, but soon, our books were on Amazon, and we were like a couple of Cheshire cats. We soon discovered that this was only half of the battle. Apparently, we needed a platform, a reader friendly website to promote our books or they would remain in limbo. Well, we managed to create a passable website and over the years we have established a presence on the internet, and we have met so many lovely people along the way. Not that this is the end of the story, there is no way you can rest on your laurels (that’s if you even have some!)

Now, we are learning all about marketing, and this might be the straw that breaks both our backs!

 

Even if nothing monumental comes from all our efforts, we know we have tried our hardest. But whatever happens (or doesn’t!) we won’t stop writing, that’s the fun part!


Anita's Biography


Anita Dawes loves all things esoteric, magical and other worldly and would prefer to live in a fairy tale. In between these moments, she likes to visit old churches and ancient buildings.

She has written six fiction novels in various genres, Bad Moon, Simple, Secrets, The Scarlet Ribbon; Let it Go and Not My Life. Presently working on a sequel to her popular supernatural romance, The Scarlet Ribbon.

Anita has recently rediscovered her childhood love of poetry and often writes and posts them online, which is how this book came about.

Once owned by an egocentric black and white cat called Merlin, named after her favourite hero, Anita hates computers with a passion and prefers to write longhand, sharing the website Books & Bonsai with Jaye Marie, who transcribes and edits her work...


Jaye’s Biography 


Jaye Marie came to writing rather late but has always loved books.

She enjoys reading many different genres, so was surprised to discover a passion for writing detective thrillers. Four of them to date, with more to follow.


For all you wonderful readers and visitors wanting to discover more about Anita &  Jaye, please follow these links:


Email: jenanita01@btinternet.com

            Jayemarie01@btinternet.com

 Website: https://jenanita01.com

 Twitter:  https://twitter.com/jaydawes2

 Facebook: https://anita.dawes.37

 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/doubletrouble44/

 Goodreads: https://goodreads.com/author/show/6586480.anita_dawes

 Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Anita-Dawes/e/B0034NUE10

 Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/anitajaydawes

 Bloglovin: https://www.bloglovin.com/v2/own_profile


Thank you ladies for being our guests. Wishing you continued success with your stories.





Saturday, 10 July 2021

Branching Out with Natalie Camaratta of Kansas City.

 

 



Natalie’s debut novel – Falling & Uprising – is coming off the presses on July 21st with great anticipation.


“A page-turner full of vibrant characters set in a dazzling dark world”

Nicole Bailey, author of Faye and the City in the Sea.

 

I was intrigued by Natalie’s enthusiasm and followed her on Twitter. Remembering my own debut novel, I can appreciate her eagerness to tell everyone about her novel. Anyone that has written and published a novel knows how she feels.


The novel has already garnered tremendous 

 reviews. You can check them out here.

 

She has graciously accepted an invitation to a Branching Out Interview and is offering an excerpt from the book.

 



Let’s chat with Natalie.



 

Allan: Thank you for being our guest this week Natalie. It’s an exciting time in your writing career. The book hits the streets in less than two weeks. Before we chat about your novel, please tell our reads a bit about yourself.

 

Natalie: Thank you for having me, Allan. The first thing people are usually surprised by is that I learned Spanish before English. My Cuban grandmother took care of me when I was a baby, so I understood that first. Since my dad doesn’t speak Spanish, we spoke English at home, and of course at school, so I lost it a bit. I don’t consider myself fluent, but I can get by.

I grew up in South Florida and went to college in Orlando where I majored in Hospitality Management. I worked in theme parks and hotels until I got married and had my first son. Leaving Florida was never in the plan, but about a month before my second son was born, we moved to Tucson, Arizona. After a couple of years enjoying mountains and the desert, we moved to the Kansas City area where I hope to stay forever! 

 







Allan: When did you start writing?

 

Natalie: I’m new to it. I started Falling & Uprising in February 2020. My boys were old enough for me to have more reading time, and that spurred finally getting to a book of my own. I had wanted to write a book forever, but never had a story idea. Of course, now that I’m busy with this series I think of new stories all the time.



 

 

Allan: Tell our readers what to expect when they pick up their copy of Falling & Uprising?

 


Natalie: Falling & Uprising is a character driven YA story. Strong voices, lots of dialogue, sarcasm, and banter. The two main characters are opposites in every way: Serenity is a celebrity-socialite always in the spotlight, and Bram is essentially invisible. When they end up in a revolution together, the way they deal with each other is fun to watch. It shows the disparity between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots,’ but they find their similarities as well.

 


 

Allan: What inspired this particular story?

 

Natalie: It started with a quintessential dystopian: The Hunger Games. I read the books and re-watched the movies, and kept thinking about the characters from the Capital. We knew why some of the rebels from the Capital joined the revolution, but I found the idea fascinating. Why would a character who lives in the utopian part of society want to overthrow everything? It changed and grew a lot from there, but early readers have enjoyed this flip on the perspective of this kind of story.

 

 

Allan: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote.

 

Natalie: I was a singer growing up. When I was maybe eleven years old, I sang the Star-Spangled Banner at a Major League Baseball game. At the time, the Florida Marlins played in the stadium where the Miami Dolphins played, which means it was larger than a normal ballpark.




 The echo in the sound system was a lot to deal with, so I kept waiting for my echo to catch up with me after each line. It was, perhaps, the longest rendition of the National Anthem ever sang. My father glanced up at the jumbo-tron where the lyrics were scrolling and I was at a different point in the song, so he thought I messed up the words. It was an amazing and terrifying experience!


 

 

Allan: Do you have a mentor? Who or what else has influenced you to write?

 

Natalie: I don’t have a mentor, but I’ve had so much assistance and guidance through this. I expected writing to be a solitary process, however, I came to find that being friends with other writers is not only fun, but a much-needed lifeline to get through it. Having someone read parts of the book as I was going, made for exceptional motivation to finish. Now that I’ve started, I can’t imagine ever not writing. Stories pop into my head all the time. But having a supportive community helps get the stories done.


 


 



Allan: Is there any characteristics of your own in any of your characters? Have you modeled any of the characters after people you know?

 

Natalie: There are bits and pieces of me and my friends/family in a lot of my characters. None of them are wholly a person from my life, though. My sarcasm passed on to many of my characters. (Which I got from my father, so thanks, Dad.) Serenity’s high expectations of herself is certainly close to home, too. Frankly, I didn’t realize how much I have in common with her until after I wrote it. At the time, it didn’t occur to me that struggling with how she’s perceived versus what she’s really got going on inside is something I do all the time. Writing turned out to be therapy and a way to discover my own issues.

 

Natalie's Dad. 

 


Allan: Favorite authors? Novels?

 

Natalie: Choosing favorites is so hard! I’m a pretty omnivorous reader, but obviously I love the genre I write in so Hunger Games, Divergent, and Red Queen series are huge for me. I devoured the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown last year (and will absolutely drop everything as soon as the sixth book comes out). I’ve had the pleasure of discovering a lot of incredibly talented indie authors since I got into writing. Nicole Bailey’s Faye and the Ether series is a favorite of mine, and Bloodlet, the first book of T.S. Howard’s The Growing Veil series, ensured that I will read everything that man writes.

 

 

Allan: Is there a follow-up to the novel planned? Will it be a series or stand alone? Otherwise, what’s next for Natalie Camaratta, the author?

 

Natalie: This is a trilogy. The second book is being finalized and I’m drafting the third and final book. The ending of Falling and Uprising tends to leave people wanting more, though it’s not actually a cliffhanger.

After this series, I’ve already started a Fantasy novel which will likely be a series as well. It is my plan to keep writing as long as I live.

 

 

 

Allan: Anything else you’d like to tell us about?

 

Natalie: In addition to the literary release of Falling and Uprising, the audiobook is being produced by Tantor Media. We are in the early stages with that, but I’ll have more news on that on my social media and newsletter when I have a release date.

 

 

 

 

An Excerpt from Falling & Uprising.

(Copyright is held by the author. Used with permission)


 

 



“I’m not here to force you into anything you are uncomfortable with,” Sophos says. “There is a way out for you.”

I could go back to the world I knew two days ago—the happy, uncomplicated world. I wouldn’t have to lie to anyone. I could speak to my family and friends without feeling an insurmountable chasm between us. I could look out at the sea without feeling like I’ll collapse.

But it wouldn’t be real. I wouldn’t know that I guess, but when ignorance was forced on me, that was one thing. Can I choose to be so ignorant? I’d be taking the guilt on myself when it belongs to the people who decided to lie to me all my life. They are guilty. And I don’t want to forget that. Even if I have to be alone.

“No,” I say. “I know it now. There is no going back.”

“Thank you for being brave enough to make that choice.” Sophos’ smile is triumphant.

I’ve never been described as brave before.

“And besides,” Bram says, “everyone is going to find out soon enough. At least this way, you understand it before all hell breaks loose, pup.”

“Pup?” Do I even want to know?

“You are basically a puppy.”

“How might that be?”

“You’re fed and pampered and primped, and when you get angry, you try to look aggressive, but you’re too cute to pull it off, so it ends up being funny.”

How dare you! “Puppies have sharp teeth.” My own teeth are clenched, and my blood boils. “Anyway, I’m sure my cuteness will wear off. Apparently, knowing the truth of how the world works can have the side effect of making a person a prick.”

This is new territory for me. I’ve never been this blatantly confrontational. Generally, slights are far more subtle, but I’ve never had to deal with anyone as hostile as Bram before. He shoots me an arrogant smile. It would be a great smile if it wasn’t being used to taunt me.

Sophos tries to smooth over our clash. “Now, now. Can we please recall we are on the same team?”

“Fine.” I take a breath and look back at Sophos. “Now what?”

“We’ll continue with your sanctioned education and our plans tomorrow. You can’t make it a habit to be at work too long. That looks suspicious with the work ethic around here. For now, you’ll make yourself appear perfect, as you have done your whole life, only now you’ll have secrets to hide underneath it. Can you do that?”

“Yes.”

It looks like Millie’s instruction will come in handy in the real world after all. Having to use those lessons to mask myself from my closest confidants will be new, though. The little reprieve I ever have from who I must be in public will be gone. That perfect version of me will be the only version of me.







For you folks in the Kansas City area 









 







Thank you, Natalie for being our guest this week. Wishing you continued success with your writing.






 

For all you wonderful readers wanting to discover more about Natalie and her stories, please follow these links:

 

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21441191.Natalie_Cammaratta

https://www.amazon.com/Natalie-Cammaratta/e/B093LFMN9Z

https://www.tiktok.com/@nataliecammarattawrites

https://www.instagram.com/nataliecammarattawrites/

https://www.facebook.com/NatalieCammaratta/

https://twitter.com/bynataliecamm

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/natalie-cammaratta