Letter writing, anyone?

June 18, 2008

I’m a History Channel fanatic. Not surprisingly since most of my novels have historical settings. Last night I was watching, what else, the History Channel, and a documentary on FDR. I had seen the doc before, but it was very well done and so interesting I didn’t mind watching it again. I’m glad I did, because it got me thinking about the lost art of letter writing. The doc mentions a lot of letter writing- FDR to Churchill, Churchill to FDR (these letters were actually copied by a spy who fortunately was found out before they were made public), Eleanor to FDR, FDR to his lovers. There was one distant cousin he was particularly close to who he confided in and wrote numerous letters to. She in turn not only wrote back, but kept a journal filled with about 1,000 pages of writing. Handwritten writing, to be exact. Nowdays we can’t fathom anyone handwriting that many pages, but it was common practice as little as thirty years ago.

With the advent of the computer and email, I think letter writing is a lost art. I’ll admit to eschewing handwritten letters for a quick email due to ease and efficiency, but I know I should take the time to sit down and write. I don’t even own any stationery anymore, unless you count the handmade cards I stamped with my scrapbooking stamps. Although I wouldn’t count those, since I’ve stamped the greetings on the cards!

Is letter writing going the way of the dodo bird and the wooly mammoth? In fifty years will there be any personal correspondence left, or will it all be in email/memo form ready to delete in an instant? Does anyone even use a diary anymore? I wonder…

happy writing!



An Interview with: Zelda Piskosz

June 11, 2008

Special thanks to Zelda for taking the time to visit with Author Insight. Please visit www.avalonbooks.com for more information about Zelda’s novels. 

What prompted you to become a writer?

I always liked telling stories, now I just put them down on paper.

How long have you been writing and in what genres do you write? 

I wrote my first story in 1st grade. I still remember the title, Susie the Butterfly. I have been published in professional nursing journals

and magazines. I started writing romance about twenty years ago. My passion was historical romance back then.

When did you have your first sale?

Six years ago I sold my first contemporary romance, Brooklyn Ballerina to Avalon Books..

What is the most challenging aspect of being a writer?

Finding the time to write has always been a challenge for me.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a writer?


Reader comments are always fun to get.


Tell us about your latest project.


I’m working on the 2nd book in my Love by Chocolate series. The stories revolve around the people who pass through a chocolate shop in


Brooklyn, NY.


What projects do you have coming out in the future?


The first book in my Love by Chocolate series. Chocolate Secrets, is scheduled to be released in April 2008.


What refreshes you creatively?


Reading newspapers and magazines is a great source of ideas. The idea for Brooklyn Ballerina came from a newspaper article about an ex-marine who helped save his daughter’s ballet school. The idea for Chocolate Secrets came from a magazine blurb about a secret chocolate recipe in France.


 What do you wish you knew then that you know now?


I tend to be a seat of the pants writer, but attending workshops  and networking with other writers has taught me to set goals and schedule my writing time.


What advice do you have for aspiring writers?


Write, Write, Write. Don’t give up because you only get better and learn by each experience. And never, never take rejection personally.




Writing is a business

June 10, 2008

Now that school is officially out, I’m ready to tend my neglected blog. Today’s post has to do with treating writing as a business. Whether you’re a freelance writer, novelist, employed as a full-time writer, or merely a dabbler, its important to understand that in order to be successful both financially and artistically you must treat writing as a job and a business. Recently I attended a terrific writing conference where featured speaker Stephanie Bond discussed this very topic. She’s a romance novelist with a business background and has managed to meld both the creative and business aspects of writing into a very successful career. She advocates writing a business plan, something I’ve done in the past. I recommend visiting her site for information on how to create a plan tailored to a novelist’s career.

For freelance writers, here’s a short blog post listing five important principles for writing success. These can be applied to all types of writers as well.

Once you’ve evaluated your career goals, set up your office, and written your business plan, the next and most crucial step you should take is making a commitment to following your plan and reaching your goals. This is where many writers, myself included, either lose sight of what they want to acheive, or completely fall off the wagon. Without committment not only will your efforts at establishing your writing career be a colossal waste of time, you’ll also become easily distracted or discouraged. To avoid this, commit to yourself, to your goals, and to your career.

Happy writing!






An Interview With: Kathryn Meyer Griffith

May 5, 2008

Author Insight welcomes novelist Kathryn Meyer Griffith. Ms. Griffith has had a long and varied writing career, and she has some terrific insight to the topsy-turvy world of publishing.


Hello Kathleen….I’m glad to be here at Author Insight! And hello to all you readers and authors out there as well!

What prompted you to become a writer? When I was a child I loved to read. I read everything – especially science fiction, historical romance or spooky stories – and eventually, in my early twenties, I started to read books that I thought could have been written better. So I started writing my first novel. It took me twelve years (and three novels that I rewrote over and over) before I actually sold my second manuscript to Leisure Books in 1984…a romantic horror called Evil Stalks The Night. Those were the days I used a typewriter and because I was self-taught as a typist it took forever…and lots of White-Out. Thank goodness for computers!


How long have you been writing and in what genres do you write? I’ve been writing for as long as my only child, James, has been alive…which is a good way of keeping track. Thirty-six years now. I’ve been published for over twenty-four. I started writing in the horror genre (and always unconsciously with a big dose of romance) and of my twelve books (ten published and two to come out soon), six have been romantic horror, four have been murder mysteries or suspense, one has been historical romance and one a romantic ancient Egyptian time-travel.


When did you have your first sale? It was in 1984. My first book sold was actually my second written manuscript. Evil Stalks The Night. I sold it to a publisher called Towers Publishing and after two years of back and forth – those were the days of only snail-mail, no e-mail – revisions and stuff, it was ready to go to print when Towers went bankrupt. Luckily, a new company bought out Towers – Leisure Books – and asked to see and then publish it.


What is the most challenging aspect of being a writer? Hanging in there over the years, the rejections, set-backs and all the unexpected things life and just living can throw at you. I’ve had a book all ready to be released, cover printed out and final galleys turned in, and six weeks from when it was supposed to go to the bookstore shelves my publisher decided to reorganize. I lost my editor and the new editor dropped my book completely. Funny thing is the computers never cleared the book and people still e-mail me asking where to get my book Predatorit doesn’t exist. It never came out. Maybe someday I’ll rewrite it and try to resell it, but I was so disgusted with the whole mess I stuck it in a drawer and it’s still there. Want a laugh? It was 1993 and the book was about an American Loch Ness Monster in Crater Lake. My new editor said: “No one wants to read about a predatory dinosaur.”  Three months later Jurassic Park came out. The one truth I’ve really learned is that different people perceive stories and books so subjectively. One person will love one of my books and another person will hate it. There’s no telling. Same with reviewers. You have to develop a thick skin to criticism, a sense of humor and an open mind…in the end you have to write for yourself because you love it. It’s the journey sometimes that gives me the greatest joy and not always the destination. 


What is the most rewarding aspect of being a writer? When some reader contacts me and says how much they loved my book or say that they read one of my earliest ones, sometimes many years ago, and never forgot it. It made them happy. Mostly, when I am writing I feel content with the world and myself. It’s great therapy. The rest of the world doesn’t matter when I’m at my computer or thinking about my books. Lastly, for some reason people think writers are smart or special (ha, ha) and I let them just go on thinking that. But I’m just a person, with all the weakness, needs, wants and fears, like them.


Tell us about your latest project. Which one? I’m just finishing up editing and promotions on the five projects (three novels and two short stories) I’ve contracted over the last eight months to the e-publisher The Wild Rose Press and when I get done with them (soon I hope…got one book left to go) I’ll be doing a major rewrite on an end-of-days and Rapture series novel called Before The End for an agent who said she would look at it again if I revised it a certain way. I don’t have an agent right now and have been searching for a new one for years. They’re hard to catch.


What projects do you have coming out in the future? From The Wild Rose Press: Egyptian Heart, an ancient Egyptian time travel romance, available now; Winter’s Journey, a suspenseful romance novel came out on April 4 (paperback to come out October 3, 2008); The Ice Bridge, a murder mystery contemporary romance (the one I’m going into edits on now) to come out as well in the next few months; and two romantic ghostly short stories, In This House, came out January 9, 2008 and Don’t Look Back, Agnes, first in a ghostly romantic series, came out March 12.


What refreshes you creatively? Going for long walks in the woods or being with my husband and big family; jamming musically with my brother, Jim, a songwriter/musician (who performs songs for all my book trailers). Just living my life. Having fun.


What do you wish you knew then that you know now? That writing is a life-long journey, a way of life…and that it’s possible (more likely than not) to never get the fame or fortune you crave when you’re younger from it but that the smaller joys will someday mean just as much.


 What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Just what I said above. You must write because you love to write and not because you think it will make you rich or famous. And…have patience. Lots of it. Writing and all aspects of the publishing business can sometime take years. Accept rejections and try to learn from them. That’s hard because we’re all just human. But you have to learn it. Oh, lastly…don’t ever give up. Persistence is so important. Keep writing no matter what. Enjoy your writing and your journey and the friends you make along the way.


             Thank you Kathleen Fuller and everyone. Please go to any of my websites to see all my self-made book trailers with original music by my singer/songwriter brother, Jim Meyer.  It’s been fun!


All Kathryn Meyer Griffith’s self-made book trailers have original songs performed and recorded by her brother, Jim Meyer. You can now purchase or download his newest CD’s at his new website.    
 Winter’s Journey, a romantic suspense…coming out electronically on  April 4, 2008 ; paperback, Oct. 3, 2008

Don’t Look Back, Agnes, a romantic ghostly Miniature Faery Rose… out March 12,  2008 

Egyptian Heart, an ancient Egyptian Time Travel Romance Novel by Kathryn Meyer Griffith
THE WILD ROSE PRESS   Available Electronically Now ;  Paperback May 30, 2008

In This House, a romantic ghostly Faery Rosette…coming out on January 9, 2007

The Ice Bridge, a contemporary romance with a touch of murder mystery… coming out in  mid 2008

See all my new covers and self-made book trailers; some with my singer/songwriter brother Jim Meyer’s original songs!

Copy and paste the links below for more information about Kathryn Meyer Griffith’s books.

http:// www.bebo.com/kathrynmeyerG






An Interview with: Sandra Carey Cody

April 14, 2008

 Mystery writer Sandra Carey Cody is the author of the Jennie Connor mystery series from Avalon books. Thanks to Sandra for taking time out of her writing schedule to visit with Author Insight.


What prompted you to become a writer?

A lifetime of reading. I’ve always loved stories. When I was a kid, my favorite fantasy was that when the library closed at night, the characters slipped out between the pages and talked to each other–and to me. Imagine a conversation between Jo March and Nancy Drew. What would Tom Sawyer say to Heidi? I talked over my problems with the people of whatever story I was reading. They were my friends. With them, I was never shy or at a loss for something to say. I think, if you read enough, the natural next step is writing.

How long have you been writing and in what genres do you write?

When it came to actually writing down my fantasies, I was a late bloomer. I started about fifteen years ago with short stories. I liked the characters I created, but realized the plots were a little thin. One of John Gardner’s writing books said the best way to learn plotting is to write a genre novel because they rely so heavily on plot. I decided to try a mystery; I guess it was all those Nancy Drew books. It was like coming home. I’ve never looked back. For me, a mystery provides the perfect format to present a variety of characters and see how they react under stress. You have the elements of any good book: suspense and the classic struggle between good and evil.

When did you have your first sale?

My first sale came in 2004. On September 23 (my birthday!) I got “the call” from Avalon, saying they wanted to publish my book. I was thrilled and started babbling unintelligible things into the phone. They very kindly didn’t retract their offer and Put Out the Light came out in June of 2005. Before that, I had some short stories published in a small literary magazine, but no money changed hands so I don’t count them as sales, though I was proud.

What is the most challenging aspect of being a writer?

I would have to say beginnings.  Sitting down at the computer for the first time each day, facing a blank screen, is a real challenge. You struggle to find the first few words. They become a sentence, then a paragraph. Gradually the story takes over, but beginning is intimidating. Each new chapter is a fresh challenge. How do you guide the reader on the journey that you’re sharing, provide surprises and, at the same time, remain true to the story?  Beginning a new book, starting from scratch with a new idea after months of intense concentration on the previous idea, is the ultimate challenge, but like most challenges, is incredibly exciting.

  What is the most rewarding aspect of being a writer?

Spending time with my characters. I love the people I create, even the bad guys. Once I get past that initial challenge, and into the story, I love the process of writing. And holding the finished product in my hand, thinking back over its genesis from vague idea to a book. A real book!  It doesn’t have fingers and toes to count but, for me, it’s the next best thing.

Tell us about your latest project.

My latest project is a departure from Jennie Connors. That series is set in Memphis and has a single mother as a protagonist. The new protagonist is Peace Morrow, a young woman who was found in a basket as an infant. Twenty-two years later, a homeless man is murdered in exactly the same spot. Peace can’t believe it’s a coincidence and thus begins a search for identity that explores the nature of family, of loyalty and responsibility. And, of course, there’s the murder to be solved. It’s set in a museum of antique tools and folk art in a small town near Philadelphia. Finding Peace was originally conceived as a standalone, but it’s grown to a planned trilogy, maybe even a longer series, mainly because I’ve fallen in love with the characters: Peace, the foundling searching for roots; Caroline, the spirited Quaker lady who adopted her; Daniel, a wayward fifteen-year-old. I’ll spare you the complete list, but I have to mention Henry, the world trustiest Labrador Retriever.

What projects do you have coming out in the future?

Consider the Lilly, an Avalon mystery, was released in February of this year. In addition to Jennie and her sons, it includes the “tea ladies”, six feisty residents of the retirement community where Jennie works as Activities Director. Two patrons are poisoned while dining at Jennie’s best friend’s restaurant. Inevitably, Jennie, aided and abetted by her tea ladies, has to sort it out. In this series, one of my goals has been to go against stereotypes. Jennie’s a single mother who doesn’t hate her ex. They’re both good people who just couldn’t make the marriage work. (This doesn’t mean sparks never fly.) As for the residents of Riverview Manor, they may be old, but they’re lively. They pursue adventure with the of gusto ten-year-olds. The tea ladies were a hoot to write. I can’t honestly say I created them. They pretty much stood on my shoulder and told me who they were.

What refreshes you creatively?

I love talking about writing, especially with other writers. Shortly after I started my scribbles, I was fortunate to find a really supportive critique group. When I get stuck or start asking myself, “What makes you think you can write a book?” if I get together with a fellow writer and start bouncing ideas around, I find I can’t wait to get back to my story.  I can’t recommend highly enough the value of this kind of support. Writing can be a lonely process and fellowship with kindred spirits is like a decadent desert after a healthy meal.  And reading. As I said earlier, I think writing just flows naturally from reading.

What do you wish you knew then that you know now?

The value of planning. When I started out, I was a very “seat of the pants” writer. I’ve since discovered the value of an outline. I don’t need to know exactly what happens; surprises are part of the fun of writing. But I’ve learned that if I know ahead of time where I’m going, I get there with fewer detours. It helps to know what a scene needs to accomplish before I start writing it.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Be persistent. Write every day, no excuses, and don’t give up when it gets hard or when you receive the inevitable rejection. The next editor or agent may love what the last one hated. Perhaps even more important, enjoy yourself. That’s really what it’s all about. Reading is one of life’s great pleasures and writing should be too.





We have a winner!

April 14, 2008

Congratulations to Jane Perrine for winning Laurie Alice Eakes latest release from Heartsong Presents!

Writing Through the Pain

April 14, 2008

I’ve taken some personal hits lately, which is part of the reason why updating the blog has been so sporadic. Because I’m so emotionally drained, I’ve found it difficult to write anything, even emails. I’ve known writers who have been able to write through anything, and I admire them for that. I think I’m a writer that needs to know when to step away and lick my wounds before getting back in the fray again. Because that is what having a writing career is–one fight after another. You fight to get published and to get paid. You battle the inner critic and the elusive muse. You struggle to find words when there are none and to make sense of plots and ideas and characters that are nonsensical.

So why do it? Why write? I write because I have to. If I don’t write, then I feel as if a part of me is missing. And even though I might take an extended break from writing, I’m never gone from it for very long and it is never far from my thoughts.

How do you write through the pain?

Happy writing,