Monthly Archives: August 2013

Featured Writer Friday: Abby Cavenaugh

Even though I typically don’t read romance novels, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to interview fellow NC writer Abby Cavenaugh.  Before I get to my chat with Abby, here’s a quick look at her book Going Home Again (published by Swoon Romance).

Review: It’s not every day a girl gets a second chance with a high school crush.  But that day finally arrives for Alyssa Jones twenty years after she first set eyes on Michael Day, who went from popular guy in school to pop star sensation.  He’s returned to Wrightsville Beach, NC, and Alyssa is assigned to interview him for Wrightsville Magazine.  The old feelings bubble back to the surface when she lays eyes on Mike, and Alyssa is surprised to find she’s still carrying a torch for him after all these years.  But there’s one big obstacle standing in her way: Michael Day is married.

After an awkward meet-cute, the sparks begin to fly between Mike and Alyssa.  During his interview Mike admits he’s escaped to Wrightsville Beach to get some space from his marriage.  Alyssa learns that things aren’t always what they seem and finds out the truth behind Mike’s career and marriage to Tina.  The two bond over failed relationships (Alyssa is divorced), and while Alyssa tries to help Mike navigate his way through his crumbling marriage, she finds it impossible to keep her own feelings out of the equation.

The story is told from both Alyssa and Mike’s point of view, and takes place partly in Wrightsville Beach and in New York.  By telling both sides of the story, the reader is able to see exactly how Alyssa and Mike feel about each other, and how their decision to be together will impact their lives.

Interview with Abby:

Diana: What made you pick the setting of Wrightsville Beach for your novel?

Abby: I grew up about half an hour from Wilmington, which neighbors Wrightsville Beach, so when I went “out” as a teenager, I’d often go to Wilmington, and when I went to the beach, I’d go to Wrightsville sometimes. Plus, I worked at the newspaper and magazine in Wrightsville Beach from 2004-2007, and it was such a positive experience for me. I loved going to work at the beach! All of my stories are set in Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach. It’s just such a beautiful, interesting area.

Diana: What’s the story behind your story?

Abbby: I know it may sound kind of crazy, but in all honesty, my first encounter with my favorite New Kid, Jordan Knight, inspired the story. I am a huge New Kids on the Block fan, or Blockhead. In October 2008, there was an insane “mutual attack” between fans and Jordan Knight and Donnie Wahlberg after the concert in Charlotte. Somehow during the madness, I happened to get a quick hug from Jordan, and I remember how he looked me right in the eyes and said “Hey!” and I was just amazed because back in the day, I could never get his attention at concerts or anything. After that, I got to thinking how awesome it was that Jordan finally knew I was alive (at least for those few seconds) after 20 years of me crushing on him. I never even got close to meeting any of the New Kids back in the day. And then I thought wouldn’t it be amazing if that unattainable guy you crushed on in high school was suddenly attainable 20 years later? From there, the idea just grew.

Diana: Tell me a little about Going Home Again‘s journey from your imagination to publication.

Abby: Wow. It’s definitely been a journey! I’ve been working on this manuscript since late 2008. I finished the first draft late in 2011, and it was WAY too long. After more rejections than I’d like to admit, I decided it was best to cut a lot of the story. There’s an epilogue that readers will never see, and a lot more detail to Alyssa’s history of crushing on Michael, but I had to delete those things in order to make the story stronger. Several agents were interested, but ultimately passed on it. I was ready to give up, and I shelved Going Home Again for a few months while I wrote a new, completely different story– a YA paranormal. I happened to see on Twitter one day that Swoon Romance was taking pitches, so I thought, “What the hell? I’ll give it a shot.” I pitched this: “Reporter Alyssa always dreamed of pop star Michael Day. But is he worth her name in the headlines rather than the byline? #PitchSwoon” Swoon requested a partial and just a few hours later, asked for the full manuscript. After that, things went fairly quickly and I received an offer. Next thing I knew, Going Home Again was being published and my dream finally came true!!

Diana: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Abby: I think I was about 12 years old. I read a book by Dean Koontz, and I wanted to create characters as wonderful as his. Although, obviously, I ended up writing a completely different genre from the man who inspired me to become a writer!

Diana: What do you find to be the hardest part about writing?  The easiest?

Abby: The hardest thing for me is not to use adverbs and passive voice. I’m an adverb addict but it’s something I’m working on. 😉 For me, creating realistic characters and dialogue comes easily. It’s the story part that I sometimes struggle with.

Diana: Based on your experience, what advice would you give other writers?

Abby: Do not EVER give up. I often quote legendary N.C. State basketball coach Jim Valvano, who said, “Never, ever, ever give up!” Also, don’t compare yourself to others. Their success isn’t yours. Your success will be different; it just might not come as quickly as you’d like. Believe me, I know. I’m one of the most impatient people on the planet.

Diana: If you could spend the day with a fictional character, who would it be and why?  And what would you do?

Abby: I think it would be Michael Day in Going Home Again, because I created him and I know he’s awesome. 😀 I think I’d spend the day at his house on Wrightsville Beach!

Diana: Do you plan out your stories, or do you sit down at your computer and see where your story takes you? 

Abby: I am a total pantser!!! I wish sometimes I could be more of a planner, but I just can’t work that way. I sit in front of my laptop and figure it out from there. I may know what’s going to happen in the middle or the end, but I hardly ever know the in between until I write it.

Thanks so much for the interview, Abby!  You can learn more about Abby by following her on Twitter (@abswrites) and checking out her blog: http://abswritesalot.wordpress.com/

And if you want to get your own copy of Going Home Again, you can find it at the following places:

And be sure to check out what others are saying about it on Goodreads!  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18242120-going-home-again

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Featured Writer Friday: Caitlin Greer

I’m excited to launch my new series: Featured Writer Friday!  And Caitlin Greer was kind enough to volunteer as my guinea pig.
Caitlin Greer

About Caitlin (in her own words): I write Young Adult and New Adult stories that range from sci-fi and fantasy (because I love making worlds and things up), to contemporary (because I kind of sort of fell into it and discovered I’m not half bad). I read voraciously as a kid, and still do whenever I can. I drive a Jeep, love the outdoors, take pictures of everything I can, and write every chance I get. I’m also a member of the YA Misfits.

Eyre House cover

About EYRE HOUSE:  When eighteen-year-old orphan Evan Richardson signed up to work at Eyre House, on the sleepy tourist getaway of Edisto Island, SC, he never expected to find himself dodging ghosts. But Eyre House seems to have more than its fair share of things that go bump in the night, and most of them surround his employer’s daughter.

Back from her freshman year of college, Ginny Eyre is dangerous from word one. She’s a bad girl with ghosts of her own, and trouble seems to follow her everywhere she goes. But living or dead, trouble isn’t just stalking Ginny. When her ex-boyfriend is found murdered in the pool, Evan knows he’s got two choices – figure out what’s going on, or become the next ghost to haunt Ginny Eyre.

Interview:

Diana: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Caitlin: About ten years ago. I’d written a lot as a kid, and then kind of let it fall away. I’m not sure what prompted the renewal of my writing desires, but I just realized one day that I wanted to craft the kinds of stories I read all the time. So I did.

Diana: What’s the story behind your story (which sounds like a really cool concept, by the way!)?

Caitlin: Ah, well, Eyre House is a retelling of Jane Eyre. I’m not sure what sparked the original idea, or what really spark any of my ideas (which are all brilliant, of course). But I was talking over the beginnings of the idea (which, if I remember right, involved an old house on the beach with a lot of secret passages, and some crazy person using them to do all sorts of things) with one of my CPs (Kat Ellis), and she made an off-hand comment that it could even be a Jane Eyre retelling. Obviously I told her she was the most brilliant and smart person in the world, and immediately started working it out.

Diana: Why did you choose Edisto Island as the setting for your story?

Caitlin: When I first got the story idea, I knew it would be in the South, on a beach. I spent a long time on Google maps looking at coastal towns and islands. Growing up in Virginia, I have a real soft spot for the Charleston/Savannah areas. Edisto is right outside Charleston, and the more research I did on it, the more perfect it became. Quiet island town, the tourism is laid back, and a very rich history. It really just fit the story I wanted to tell.

Diana: What drew you to write New Adult Fiction?

Caitlin: When I first started writing, I LOVED YA (still do), but I wanted the same feel with an older protagonist. Which, at the time, was pretty much a no-go. So when NA came along, I jumped at the chance. The college years are just as confusing and formative a time as the high school years, and the added dimension of a time where you’re supposed to be an adult, but you’re not really, and you’re struggling to figure out how all that works is something that really speaks to me.

Diana: Tell me a little about Eyre House’s journey from your imagination to publication.

Caitlin: Oof. Hahaha. It had an interesting one. Eyre House was originally written as YA. I wrote it in 3 weeks, which is probably the fastest I’ve ever drafted anything. I also plotted, for the first time in my life, but I realized to do a redux, I had to. After months of revisions, I queried it widely (as you do), and got a lot of requests, even a few R&Rs, but they all came back as no’s in the end. It was a really rough road, until Leigh Ann Kopans suggested I try self pubbing it as NA. I’ll confess I fought the idea for a while, until I realized that NA would fit the story so well.

Diana: What do you like to do for fun when you aren’t writing?

Caitlin: Wait, you mean there are things to do other than writing?? o_O I’m actually an outdoor nut and a photographer.

Diana: What do you find to be the hardest part about writing?  The easiest?

Caitlin: All of it. No, seriously. Some days it’s all so easy. Some days just opening a manuscript is the hardest thing in the world.

Diana: Based on your experience, what advice would you give other writers?

Caitlin: Don’t give up. Writing is something I live for, and I haven’t really met a serious writer who doesn’t feel the same. It can be hard and heartbreaking, but it’s always, always worth it, even when it seems like it would be so much better to quit.

Thanks so much for the interview, Caitlin, and for being my guinea pig for the first edition of Featured Writer Friday!

You can find out more about Caitlin on the web:

Blog: http://writerswanderings.blogspot.comhttp://www.yamisfits.com

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A Word On Writers

Okay, so maybe more than one word.

First, I should probably apologize for the long absence to my regular readers.  I’ve been stuck in the 1920s the last several months writing my second novel, the first draft of which is finally complete!  And as soon as I emptied that story out of my head and onto the page, a new one began taking shape.  Yes, I do have a very active imagination.  That’s why I’m a writer–I’ve got to have an outlet for it somewhere!

Which leads me to the topic of today’s post.  Writers.  We’re an imaginative breed.  We invent characters and worlds for them to live in, and then we let them run amuck in our minds and something magical happens.  A story takes shape.  A plot develops.  And the characters we invented take on a life of their own and won’t leave us alone until we write their words down on paper.

But that’s where the magic ends and the real work begins.  This is when the heel-digging, not-gonna-budge stubbornness needs to kick in.  Because writing is tough.  Some days the words come out faster than you can type, and you’re like

But most days you truly consider whether or not plucking out your nose hairs one by one would not be a more enjoyable exercise.  And when those hard days pile up it becomes more and more enticing to say “So much for that.”  (Or, you know, toss your laptop out the window.  One of those.)

That’s where the aforementioned stubbornness comes in.  Well, that and a whole lot of wailing and flailing.  But then we always find a way back to our computers, back to the story.  Until it’s finished.

It’s a major commitment, becoming a writer.  And it’s not a commitment that non-writers always understand.  That’s why we have other writers to turn to.  They know about the wailing and the flailing.  They’ve been there.  And they’re ready to help you through the rough days, and you’ll be there to help them when they need it too.

Since starting this whole writing business, I have been amazed at how supportive the writing community is.  And I am proud to be a part of it.

With that in mind, I am introducing a new series on my blog, where I will interview authors and give them the opportunity to talk about their work.  This will be an ongoing series, and I look forward to sharing other writers’ stories with you.

(P.S.- that was 415 words to be exact)

(P.S.S.-the episode of “New Girl” from which these gifs of Nick Miller were taken is hilarious)

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