How does a single lesbian become impregnated without a sperm donor, sperm bank or Divine Intervention? All it takes is one Twitter chat: #UKLGBTChat. For me, it was the May 31, 2015 episode, which focused on books. That and I was fertile and took no precautions.
That fateful evening, I happened into #UKLGBTChat when it had just begun trending. When I learned the topic and heard some of the convo, I felt like I was among kindred spirits bearing compatible DNA: LGBT readers, reviewers and authors who wanted more LGBT in their gay and mainstream books. They shared reading lists for different countries, stating that US authors were doing fairly well at writing diverse books, including LGBT characters of various ages and abilities and genres beyond coming out stories, such as scifi. UK authors still needed to work at it. I forgot to mention my friend LJ Cohen did very nicely at LGBT and racial diversity in composing her YA space opera, DERELICT. But it was when I heard participants say they wanted to see more age and situation diversity, as well as disabilities in their LGBT characters that I felt that first spark of life.
Once the chat was over much too quickly, like many copulations, my book pregnancy – set in my hometown of Lake Charles, LA – sucked up my attention, time and energy. Ordinary daily tasks, like housecleaning, greenskeeping and grocery shopping, suddenly became secondary to the importance of nurturing this new life inside me. I even had difficulty sleeping and suffered from indigestion, from my baby demanding to be written. There was also a lot of loneliness as a hormonal single pregnant mom. Sex scenes, need I say more?
(OK, I will add that neither of my main characters is pregnant – yet. Who knows what will happen in future books?)
When I sat down to make out a grocery list, characters, settings, situations and plotlines sprouted on the pages, like ultrasounds. As I began writing from my notes, the story flourished. Each day its features grew more defined. Being a romance fan and a member of several award-winning authors’ street teams, it was no surprise to me that my book baby was a love child, too. What might surprise some is her complexion and full genre identity: lesbian interracial romance, yet another request from that prophetic episode of #UKLGBTChat.
As I shared with her about #UKLGBTChat, Marie introduced me to LGBT authors Dianne and Young. It was rather odd to meet new people in the delivery room, but these are two writers you don’t want to pass up, so I was immensely grateful.
Alas, she got hung up in the birth canal and I had to stop pushing for a bit for Catherine Ryan Howard to coach me through ebook formatting for Amazon, et al. That was sheer torture!!! Thanks to her, I at last held my beautiful new book baby, Blues in the Night, safely in my arms.
P.S. As I was writing the wedding proposal scene, set in New Orleans, I wondered how much longer it would take for same-sex marriage to become legal in Louisiana. At last, after Blues in the Night was born in the wee hours of June 15, 2015, eleven days later, the United States Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriages MUST be recognized throughout the country! #LoveWins
Nita Nunez was going to hell. As she and Jo basically had sex in front of the whole church, Nita wondered if it was good for Jo, too. As they joined the band of seasoned bluesmen in performing “Learned How to Lean” for the morning worship service, Nita and Jo were getting into it, acting out the song by angling themselves against each other, sparks flying as their heads and shoulders brushed. “What a fellowship, what a joy divine,” thought Nita as their eyes rested in one another a few beats too long before returning to the congregation.
It was all she could do to keep from plucking the neck of her top and fanning herself as they finished the verse, Jo’s body rocking, her face squinching up as she unleashed her power gospel voice. Certainly everybody could see Nita’s nostrils flaring as she wondered if the handsome black woman in the Sunday go to meeting dress and pumps beside her was gay or not. “I found out if I trust Him, He will provide.” Nita sure hoped so, her mind racing as she tried to figure out how to ask Jo about her sexual preferences over Sunday dinner in the fellowship hall, surrounded by people Nita still barely knew.
That “Nobody Knows I’m a Lesbian” t-shirt would come in real handy right about now, she thought…
Today’s guest blogger is Rochelle Campbell, author of Fury From Hell, a paranormal thriller about good versus evil. She’s worked for the New York Times and been published in Bartleby Snopes and Lit Art magazines. Rochelle is excited to reveal the cover of her upcoming third novel in this post, as well as sharing her personal insights on the writing process, mentoring writers and how to become a successful author. I have long admired Rochelle’s writing posts on Twitter, so if you want to see how irresistible, engaging tweets are done, be sure to follow her there, at her writing blog and at Goodreads. In addition, Rochelle is graciously doing a giveaway – 7 FREE copies of Fury From Hell, the first installment in the From Hell series! Be sure to enter and share this post with all your book friends. – Belinda
What’s your writing process?
My writing process leans towards the left brain once the idea for the story is formed. However, the initial inspiration for a story is as it should be – very right-brained.
I tend to like a very detailed outline that uses six points. They are:
Introduction of Conflict
Complication of Conflict
Resolution of Conflict
I flesh out each of the six points with at least a paragraph, or two. Then, I add a major dramatic question (MDQ) for the story and/or the main character. This is what the book spins on. In other words, the theme, or underlying current running beneath the story. The MDQ addition was something I learned at the Gotham Writers Course I took this past spring. My instructor, Michael Davis, eloquently taught us that we must give our characters strong enough reasons and inner conflicts to engage them and the reader.
After the crucial portion is written down I focus on the characters, their names and relations to each other within the story world. This step will often dictate the setting and/or the environment that the story will take place in.
With all of this information, I then feel comfortable enough to begin writing. With this method, even though I know a lot about the story going in, the story and the characters still move, ebb and flow all on their own, making the writing of the story fascinating.
Have you ever considered anyone a mentor?
My writing mentor is Jacqueline Lichtenberg a phenom in the world of scifi fan fiction. Ms. Lichtenberg is a Hugo Award Winner for Best Fan Writer (1974), a Locus Award Winner for Best Science Fiction Novel (First Channel, 1981), she coined the term Intimate Adventure and is a Galaxy Award Winner Spirituality in Science Fiction for her second novel, Unto Zeor Forever. I could go on and on including that Ms. Lichtenberg is the main author of Star Trek Lives! And she is the creator of the Sime~Gen Universe, a large vibrant fanfic community.
Are you reading any interesting books at the moment?
I just completed reading Deborah Harkness’ Book of Life, the 3rd book in the All Souls series. It is a paranormal romantic thriller with aspects of horror. To set the stage, imagine the world is inhabited by humans, of course, but in and among us are other creatures that blend in – or try to – witches, daemons and vampires. There’s a Covenant the governs how these creatures can and should behave with humans and with human affairs. This series explores what happens when the Covenant is disregarded because of greed, personal gain, jealousy and power.
Currently, I am reading a friend’s children’s chapter book called, “Grandma You’re Dead!” It is the funniest premise – a 13-year-old girl is visited by her deceased grandmother who needs her grandaughter’s help to solve a 15-year-old mystery. The catch? The teenager cannot tell her mother anything, or ask anyone for help! It is already shaping up to be a sweet read.
What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out?
There are a myriad of tools, software, books, journals and periodicals for writers. For me, one of the best software packages for the creation of stories, and for help in structuring the story is Literature and Latte’s Scrivener. You can create a story from start to finish using this program and brainstorm ideas with it as well.
The other ‘tools’ I find most helpful are the writer’s chosen writing implements: iPad, computer, pen and paper, laptop, etc. Yes, I’m being facetious but a writer…writes. The truly important tool is to find a supportive group of writers who can provide feedback on your work during all stages. This group can help the new writer develop his/her voice and writing style while allowing the writer to express him/herself without prejudice.
Some great sites for a community of writers who can offer critique of your work are:
A writer generally develops more quickly when s/he has direct communication and connection with people of like mind.
What do you believe contributes to making a writer successful?
A writer is successful because s/he does not stop writing. It’s as simple as that. If you love writing, the act of writing, the thought of writing and all of the editing, formatting, grammar rules, punctuation and style usage best practices are all you think about then you are a successful writer. You cannot call yourself a writer if you do not write or, if you do not read. I suppose that is the philosophical answer.
The practical answer of what it takes to become a successful writer, in terms of dollars and cents (not, sense J) is a lot of work to develop your social platform. These days, if you seek literary representation, you will be asked if you have a social media platform and how large it is. While this may not be a deal-breaker for most agents, it is a major factor.
On another note, if you are an indie writer and then decide to try to publish the traditional route, your indie book sales will be reviewed and taken into consideration of whether the agent, or the publishing company will want to take you on as a client. If you book did not sell well, they know they have an uphill battle of creating a platform for you so you can sell books for them.
You can see ‘success’ can mean different things as a writer. Ultimately, you have to define what you want, set your goals and then judge your success for yourself based upon what you wanted not what someone else wanted for you.
What do you love about independent publishing?
As an independent (Indie) author I have the freedom to tell the story I want to tell without having to worry overly much about fitting into a genre, or category. I also get to choose which book covers will grace the front of my books. For me, this alone is worth the extra work of creating a book worth reading! (I hope! J)
Do you have any advice for other writers?
The only advice I can share would be to write the things that bubble out of you and slide through your fingers onto the page, or the screen.
Do not second-guess yourself. Get that first-draft pulled together without any editing from your mind. Once you have a full first draft, put it away and let it ‘rest’ for about 3 – 4 weeks. Read other books, watch movies, go on vacation; do whatever but don’t look at your manuscript.
Once you’ve let the book rest, read through it with a red pen (or whatever color you’d like). Adjust the story as you see fit and hen begin working on editing and revising. Give to your writing group, or writing partner for critique before sending to an agent, or publisher.
You’ve told us about your writing process, we touched on indie publishing and resources for writers but we don’t know who you are as a writer. Can you tell us a bit about you?
I have been writing on and off for over 20 years. To date, the off-writing portion seems to have provided fodder for the writing phase of my career as I currently have, five novel-length works in progress. Early in my career, I did legwork for The New York Times and freelanced for a number of local and regional newspapers and magazines. However, my calling – fiction writing – became apparent after my two-year writers’ mentoring course with Jacqueline Lichtenberg in the early 2000’s. From that course, several short stories emerged that readers and fellow writers urged me to develop into longer works.
After a quiescent decade, story ideas abounded and are being developed and scheduled for bringing into fully fleshed out written form.
Along the way, two short stories have been published by literary journals. They are
Fury From Hell is technically my third full-length novel. I have read that a writer’s first novel (the very very very first one written on parchment paper because you were in the kitchen cooking when the idea struck…) is rarely ever publishable. You generally catch on by the 3/4/5th book! That is, unless you have help.
Fury From Hell is a paranormal thriller about good vs. evil. Here, the good is in the form of Detective Jennifer Holden, a homicide cop that is haunted by her own personal demons of a murder she committed when she was just a teenager. The trauma she suffered at the hands of social agency after agency hardened Jennifer into a staunch atheist making her gun and her bank account the only things she truly believes in.
We meet Detective Holden, shortly before she begins working on her first solo murder case. The victim is Kyma Barnes who was brutally raped and killed. As Kyma’s soul leaves her body, a demon being called by a coven of dark witches at nearby Prospect Park, is drawn to the dying woman by her death throes. Fury Abatu offers to avenge Kyma’s death. The price? The dying woman’s soul. Kyma gives it gladly to ensure the man who killed her pays dearly.
At the crime scene, Jennifer becomes possessed by Fury Abatu. Hosts usually die a violent death within weeks of the initial possession. Detective Holden does not know she is possessed…
With her own demise on the line, Jennifer must fight for her life and her very soul – something she’s not sure she even believes in – to rid herself of the dark force surrounding her and her friends.
Can Jennifer be saved from the demon? Will she be able to find the faith to believe in something greater than herself and her material things?
Read this first installment of the From Hell series to find out!
Leaving had proven to be very difficult. Chloe had no allies in the house. All of the servants worked for Lamonte now, so she couldn’t enlist the help of any maids. Her own nursemaid, Veronica, had quickly become controlled by her fiancé after her father’s bout of pneumonia. He made it clear that it was better to be loyal to him than to Chloe. Therefore, when she began planning her escape, she did it alone. She had to wait until Veronica had gone to her own quarters and everyone else in the house was asleep as well. Of course, as she’d assumed, Lamonte would be preoccupied with his own pleasures and so he wouldn’t notice her leaving.
She gathered what she could and wrapped it in a makeshift sack that she slung over her shoulder on a pole. She had retrieved the items while observing the gardeners a few days before. That was also when she had discovered the extra men’s clothing lying about. They were clean and simple, but they would do. She hid everything under the bed so that a maid wouldn’t find them. She had left the house tonight and had taken one of the spare horses to the docks. Luckily, the boy who guarded the stable was asleep.
Chloe chose a ship called La Voyageur. It was large enough and it appeared to be a cargo ship of some kind, but she could not be sure. She figured she could hide easily enough among the shipments or pretend she was a sailor at least for a while until she could find a way off.
Now, on the ship, she tried to look busy or move out of the way of the sailors moving crates around. She ducked her head to avoid eye contact with any of the men. She feared that if enough attention was drawn to her, they would notice she was not who she claimed.
Chloe moved towards the back of the ship and went down the companionway below only to shrink back when a massive form came into view. His dark auburn hair was rakishly drawn in waves over his head and he had the darkest eyes she’d ever seen. Her heart raced, and her breath came in small gasps. Stunned, she tried to get control of herself, but she came to the realization that she wanted to drown in that gaze.
Today I’m interviewing Marie Lavender, about her new release, Upon Your Honor. We’re going to cruise back into the New York City and New Orleans of the late 1800s. Please be sure to check out Upon Your Return, another fine work in this historical romance series. Marie is a dear writing friend of mine from G+. She is also a prolific, best-selling and award-winning multi-genre author and blogger. I highly recommend subscribing to her writing blog and keeping up with her books, if you want to see how a professional author does her job, while carrying on a real life with a family and job outside the home. Welcome, Marie.
UPON YOUR HONOR
Please introduce us to your latest romance, Upon Your Honor. What inspired the concept for this particular book?
I guess you could say that one day the first scene of the first chapter came to me. Chloe Waverly, in non-descript costume, goes aboard La Voyageur, the ship that was also mentioned in the previous book. Suddenly, I knew that I wanted to write sequels to Upon Your Return.
How did you choose the period and location settings?
I had to do some math to figure out what date I wanted it set in, a date that would coincide well with Chloe’s introduction into the series. As for locations, I did some research to figure out possible routes the ship might take and I explored everything I could about the ports in that time period.
What gave rise to the characters?
As aforementioned, Chloe’s character automatically came to me. More of the facets of her personality and background came out as the book progressed. I did have to explore Gabriel Hill, the hero, a little more. He was introduced in the first book, as were other characters. Some new characters came along in Upon Your Honor as well, and it was fun to create names for them and go into more detail about who they were.
She thought it was morning when she woke for the light streamed bright through the porthole, casting sunrays over the bed. She sighed and turned over only to squeal. Gabriel Hill was sitting beside her on the bed. “What are you doing? Are you mad?” For a moment, she was reminded of Lamonte and how he’d entered her bedchamber once or twice without permission. And she did not know this man. What if he was just as bad? Good Lord, he’d nearly seen her unclothed, hadn’t he? Of course, he had sworn it was platonic, but some men were prone to lying. Her heart raced erratically, and her cheeks grew warm under his steady gaze.
He chuckled. “No, chére. Just concerned about you.”
She took a deep breath. “Well, your concern could have knocked, you know.”
Gabriel laughed at her, amused for some reason. “Perhaps you’re right. It might be remiss of me, however, if you were lying here unconscious and no one knew.”
“And if I were not decent? How would you explain yourself?”
“The benefits would outweigh the consequences, of course.”
His eyes narrowed. “Saving your life would be more important than your maiden’s sensibilities, I assure you.”
Chloe was miffed by his comments, but tried to calm down. He meant well, she supposed. “I am well enough. You may leave.”
He cocked his head, as if he didn’t think she had the authority to dismiss him. Well, she had usurped him. It was his cabin. But, it was hardly proper to allow him that kind of behavior.
“How can I be sure? Perhaps you are just saying that to be rid of me. Perhaps you are not well at all.”
She frowned. “I am not foolish either.”
“Did I say that? I am simply saying that you might be gravely injured, yet you wish to save me from the truth.”
“Don’t be daft. If I was truly unwell, you would know.” Was the temperature in the room warmer now? Perhaps she did have a fever after all.
“Would I? I’m not so sure, Chloe Waverly. You are a mysterious lady.”
I’ve been writing for over twenty years. I started when I was nine years old.
What is your writing space like and how do you settle into it when you’re ready?
I try to get as comfortable I can, but it is not out of the ordinary for someone to find me sprawled across my bed or hunched over a notebook when I’m sitting somewhere. When the moment comes, when I am in the “zone”, there’s no stopping it.
Why do you favor the romance genre?
I love “love”! There is something completely appealing to me about romance. I love watching the characters fall in love in books and movies. As a child, I was fairly obsessed with it. Even my childhood fantasies included princesses being whisked away by knights. I think it’s even better to find out that it’s not all pretend, that there are actually good men out there, though they are hard to find. I found one of them, and he has been very inspiring to me. I wrote love stories way before I met him, but truly loving a man has helped me to understand romance better.
How do you juggle your outside job, home and family with your writing life?
Good question. It is very hard to do. Sometimes I feel like I’m going crazy. I guess I just try to make time to get everything done. If I know I can’t do a task right then because something else has taken priority, I write a note to myself as I reminder. It is not out of ordinary for me to have post-its everywhere. Also, if I am working on a writing project, I try to keep myself organized with major outlines or notes on what sections I need to work on next. That tells me if I need to tackle research first or just start writing. I do run three blogs, and I moderate different groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Would I like to write full-time? Of course. But, that’s not feasible right now so I just do what I can. Sometimes tasks get put off until the next day, but as long as it’s not something with a deadline, you do what you have to do to get it all accomplished. A virtual assistant would be nice though! LOL.
Do you have a dedicated time and place that you regularly set aside for your writing career?
Two or three locations stick out to me. I write in a journal before I go to bed, I compose on my computer or I write in a notebook while sitting on the couch. The couch is a really dangerous place because my cats get curious and want to sit on my papers. LOL. As for time of day, anytime I can is good. Some of my best writing comes at night as I’m settling in bed, however. I have to write to get my mind to shut off sometimes. I also love to write outdoors when I can.
Emma the Instigator and Cutie Pie
How do your cats relate to your writing activities? Help you access your Muse?
Their names are Emma, Smokey, and Katerina (or Kit Kat for short). I have written about cats occasionally in my stories, but as for how they relate, I would say that they like to keep me from writing by being dramatic or causing trouble. Emma likes to start fights with the others to draw me away from what I’m doing. Or, she will climb in my lap and act her cutest, which sometimes tears me away from writing. If I am really in the writing zone, I will sit her on a pillow next to me so that she feels comfortable being close to me, but won’t distract me too much.
Do they help paper come out of the printer? Play with discarded crumpled pages?
You asked about the printer; that’s funny. Yes, Emma will sit on the printer and mess with the buttons. There have been many times where she forces a print or copy of something. If paper comes out, it usually scares her and she runs away. Yes, they love discarded pages. I have one cat who likes to bat paper balls around. She also lays across my desk and takes up the space so I can’t use it. She also enjoys knocking my speakers over.
Keep you company once the house is quiet?
If the house is quiet though, they are very comforting. Actually, I would have to say that a cat is a great companion. When you don’t feel well, they want to be near you to make you feel better. It is very calming to have a pet.
Chloe was charmed further when Gabriel stopped her beneath a tree, bent to pluck a lavender flower and placed it into her rarely pinned up hair. “Thank you,” she murmured.
“How can anyone resist such a picture?” he said in accented English. There was a bright quality to his eyes that she wondered about, but he reached his hand out to her.
She took his offered hand. Her breath caught when he lifted her hand to his lips in the ancient gesture of respect. Even through the fine material of the glove, she could feel the brush of his lips over the surface of her hand. His eyes were trained on hers, and she could not look away. There was no denying the man had done it well. But, what was more compelling was the fact that his steady gaze made her want to press her lips to his. She briefly entertained it, despite the fact that it was so wrong of her. How much that would shock him. He was utterly proper most of the time. But, she sensed an untamed quality to Gabriel as well, that perhaps he was not driven by propriety always, that he might be compelled by something else at times.
She imagined leaning forward, raising her mouth in invitation, waiting for him to kiss her. Would he do that? She could not be sure. In her dreams he would lower his mouth to hers, move his lips moderately over hers until she opened to him. He would band his arm around her back to draw her closer, so close that she couldn’t remember who she was. There was only Gabriel.
Chloe leaned forward without meaning to, and Gabriel’s gaze dropped to her mouth. His eyes became very dark, and the rapid thud of her heart against her chest was unnerving. And it happened so swiftly she had no time to react. He drew her to him and set his lips to hers. On a confused breath, she opened her mouth. Their tongues danced gently. His kiss was so compelling and she blinked when he quickly drew away.
“Forgive me,” he whispered. “You did not ask.”
She opened her mouth to protest, then thought better of it. He had no idea how wanton her thoughts had been. Perhaps it was better not to voice it. She nodded. “No harm done. Shall we go to dinner?” she asked, noting that the park had grown a bit dark.
“Of course.” He led her back to the hansom cab, where he handed her in.
Who does your editing and cover art? How did you find them?
With my self-published books, I did my own editing and cover art. I purchased royalty-free images and gave credit to each photographer. I used sites like Stock Xchng, Pixabay, Fotolia, MorgueFile, 123RF and others. As for my traditional books, released through Solstice Publishing, the publisher hired editors and cover artists to handle the work. Kayden McLeod did the cover art on Upon Your Return. Select-o-Grafix did the cover for Magick & Moonlight. Deborah Melanie was the cover artist for Upon Your Honor. The editor for Upon Your Return was Shawna K. Williams; she also did the editing for the Discreet Gentleman series by Kris Tualla (I totally recommend that series if you love historical romance). And my other editors were Cynthia Ley (for Magick & Moonlight) and Kathy Collier (for Upon Your Honor). I also had numerous critique partners and beta readers for all three of those books; I found them on Yahoo! Groups, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Exactly how do you work with them to accomplish these optimum results?
In most cases, the results were achieved by suggestions. With the manuscripts, the editors made suggestions and I corrected them. If there were occasional typos, I fixed that. If there was something that needed more description, I fixed that as well. With the cover art, most of the covers came from a simple method. I put out my initial thoughts of what I might like, the artist came up with something and I approved it based on what I knew the characters should look like or the theme I wanted to convey.
Do you have any favorite authors or fellow authors you look up to?
I have a lot of favorite authors: Catherine Coulter, Nora Roberts, J.R. Ward, P.C. Cast, Kerrelyn Sparks, Chloe Neill and Kris Tualla. The list goes on. As for anyone I look up to, I admire any writer out there who has made it through the tough publishing journey and come out a success. Some such writers I have met on my journey, just to name a few, are Linda Lee Williams, Aubrey Brown and CJ Heck.
What are you presently working on?
Right now, I am working on a paranormal romance about a woman who stumbles into the world of vampires. In the process of falling for one of them, she learns more about herself.
Bestselling author of UPON YOUR RETURN and 18 other books. Finalist and Runner-up in the MARSocial’s Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader’s Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013 and 2014. Top 50 Authors on AuthorsDB.com. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.
Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She
has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress
than she can count on two hands. In college, she published two works in a
university publication, and was a copy editor on the staff of an online
student journal. Marie has published nineteen books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. Feel free to visit her website at http://marielavender.webs.com/ for further information about her work and her life. She is also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
A list of her books and pen names:
Marie Lavender: Upon Your Return; Magick & Moonlight; Upon Your Honor
Erica Sutherhome: Hard to Get; Memories; A Hint of Scandal; Without You; Strange Heat; Terror in the Night; Haunted; Pursuit; Perfect Game; A Touch of Dawn; Ransom; Leather and Lace
Kathryn Layne: A Misplaced Life
Heather Crouse: Express Café and Other Ramblings; Ramblings, Musings and Other Things; Soulful Ramblings and Other Worldly Things
Please connect with Marie on your favorite social media channels. Thanks again for joining us, Marie Lavender, to discuss Upon Your Honor. We look forward to seeing you again when you get the chance.
Marie Lavender, who so graciously hosted me on her blog for a feature and an interview, sent me the opportunity to join the Writing Process Blog Tour. What writer can resist talking about writing? So here goes.
My tour questions:
What am I working on?
I’ve been mulling over the next edition of my vegetarian cookbook, a new erotica short, a romantic comedy mystery and some fresh poetry. It would be nice to do some more guest blogging and get published in literary journals again.
How does my work differ from others of the same genre?
Mainly that it’s my work, so it’s coming from my own life experiences, choices and curiosities.
Why do I write what I do?
I write about everything, because I see no reason for a good writer to limit oneself. Life is happening all around you, so you live and write about it.
My primary topics at the moment are food, gardening, country life, travel, poetry and writing. Besides the necessity for eating and the romance and simplicity of cooking at home, I enjoy eating healthy. Even in restaurants, I always look at what’s in it for me, what nutritional value will I get from something, before ordering. Also, I’m concerned about the different health crises in the modern world, and honestly believe that plant-based nutrition plays a critical role in healing ourselves and the planet. Not only that, we also need to learn what’s in our food, how it affects us, empower kids to cook healthy and be more accommodating of special diet needs at home, school, work and social gatherings. That’s why I write my food blog and cookbook.
The garden and country life writing are the direct result of growing up with farm-raised relatives and finally living the life of my dreams. As a child, I watched my German great-grandmother digging potatoes and my Choctaw grandmother maintaining a compost pile. Those memories never left me, they just got temporarily drowned out by post-war Modernism. Now I wake up breathing fresh air each morning and take my old lab with me to feed the birds, squirrels and rabbits outside our window. In the afternoons, we play in the soil, keep an eye out for pests and diseases, count blossoms and fruits and hike on a dirt road at sunset. In between and in the evening, I do chores, cook and write. Monday nights are reserved for #gardenchat.
I love travel and researching distant places and sharing my passion for local spots I know and love. There’s tons of content on travel sites that you’ll never see my name on, but it paid the bills and was fun to do. I’ve got four personal experience U.S. travel articles looking for a home right now, and I’d like to complete my series on U.S. food tours.
How does your writing process work?
That depends on the situation. If it’s for a content site, like Textbroker or ContentCurrent, I’ll browse the available jobs on the board, pick one, then usually have to do some research. That could involve viewing existing content of similar nature on the client’s site, researching their products under the desired topic and/or researching the topic in general, such as Renaissance LARP costumes for adults and children, budget decorating for special events, new luxury car designs, U.S. airports’ amenities, Off the Beaten Path attractions in Southeast Asia and Things To Do in Europe. Last of all, I proof, add in the SEO keywords and check my word count.
For a guest blog post, I read a sample guest post or two, get a suggested topic from the blog owner, research the topic as needed, digest that, take a break, draft and proof. With guest blogging, there’s usually more time available to really polish the piece, unlike digital content sites, which demand quick turnarounds. Word counts and other policies change from blog to blog. Guest blogging for others is a fairly recent development for me, and I’m having a great time.
My poetry process varies. It might just come to me or I might have something specific in mind, like trying a new form or exploring a particular topic. For instance, when my dad went to Tanzania on business, I had just discovered the cinquain poetic form. So I read up on Tanzanian wildlife and natural resources and ended up with ten Tanzanian cinquains. On another occasion, my writing community issued a poetry challenge on food personification. Out came a pineapple turned into Eartha Kitt.
Still other times, there’s just something inside me that needs to come out. Maybe I’m fantasizing about a past or dream lover. Next thing I know, there’s an erotica story churning around in my head. Perhaps I’ll read a paperback and think I can do better. Sometimes, a piece will start as the result of a conversation or moments spent observing people, looking out the window or reading the news. I love spontaneous pieces as much as I love coming across fascinating facts in research.
Visit Regina Puckett’s blog to see where this whole Writing Process Blog Tour got started and check out more authors.
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Belinda Y. Hughes is the author of Confessions of a Red Hot Veggie Lover 2: Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian Recipes and Living Proof. Her blog, Café Belinda, specializes in dairy free, gluten free, sugar free, Kosher, vegan and vegetarian recipes. When she’s not refilling her wildlife buffet, covered in compost or out hiking with her old labradachs, she is available for author interviews and guest blogging opportunities.