Spotlight on Writing

The Location of Your Writing

Last weekend I had the opportunity to hear Cassidy Carter, author of Love on Location (you can find my interview with her here) and the director of Hallmark Publishing, Stacey Donovan, speak at a local Barnes and Noble writer workshop.

The group met in an open area of the bookstore and the ladies chatted about writing and Hallmark Publishing. How Stacey and Cassidy conducted the workshop made everyone feel welcome and comfortable to ask questions. I’ve been to many writing workshops and conferences and I can say that this informal setting, and the way Stacey and Cassidy presented the material (and themselves) made it one of the best ones I’ve attended. And this one was FREE!

What I loved the most, and what I learned from was the three writing prompts Stacey gave us. We had three minutes per one given. Being someone who takes a while to feel comfortable in a new setting and around strangers I didn’t think anything would come when the first prompt was given. But it did! I think my ability to channel my love and comfort of writing happened quickly because I was out of my comfort zone. I needed familiarity, security, and I always find it in my writing.

I walked away with a wonderful new story idea. And Stacey had mentioned being free of distractions and in a different setting can often increase these odds. She was correct.

So I encourage writers to try this, to mix it up and see if these help when they are feeling stuck or needing a new idea. If you have ever stepped out and written outside of your normal spot did it help you or were you distracted by the new setting? What did you learn about yourself/your writing when you did this?

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Book Reviews, Spotlight on Writing

Interview with Cassidy Carter, Author of LOVE ON LOCATION

20190228_092505Please welcome author, Cassidy Carter to the blog!!! Her newest book, Love on Location releases tomorrow, March 12th from Hallmark Publishing!! Yet, Ms. Carter is not new to Hallmark Publishing. She also wrote The Perfect Catch (based on an original Hallmark movie). Please enjoy her interview!

You live far from any place like Cabins in the Pines, what brought you to write this specific story?

I grew up in the country, and I love the outdoors. And you’ll be familiar with the other inspiration for the setting, Savannah—Flagstaff, Arizona!

I struggled a bit with Love on Location at the start of the process, because I originally envisioned this tale of two best friends (who don’t realize that they’re meant for each other) set in a family-owned factory.  But there wasn’t much fun in that “location,” so the setting was switched to the Cabins in the Pines, a place that I hope the reader will find as engaging as the love story.

How much research did you have to do between the camping and TV production aspects of the story?

My family and I camp quite frequently, so the camp aspect of it is very familiar to me. I used some actual camp layout maps from places we’ve been to plan out what the Cabins in the Pines looked like. As far as the TV aspect, my husband and I watch quite a few business-makeover shows like The Profit and Hotel Hell and, of course, the business-investment show Shark Tank, so that inspired some aspects of Love on Location. And then I did do some research on these shows, but I also tried to keep the technical stuff pretty light in case I got anything wrong!

You are a professional editor, does that make writing easier?

In a way it does, but there are ways it makes things harder. It helps me write (hopefully) pretty clean first drafts, but it also makes me mortified when I miss something obvious. More on that below! That said, when I write, I try to put the words down as quickly as possible, without overthinking or being too critical. During my second draft is when I tend to catch things I wrote incorrectly. And I cringe! But on the other hand, it makes me very understanding of those whom I edit.

When you submit a manuscript and it’s accepted, do they send back edits? (Can an editor be edited??)

There are two types of edits you’ll see back as an author: story-level edits (some call these developmental or content edits) that basically critique and coach on the craft, plot, theme, details, all the nongrammatical aspects of a book; and copy edits, which come after revisions to clean up spelling, grammar, punctuation, and the like. And everyone can be edited. Sometimes, story-wise, you get too close to what you’re writing, and you don’t see a plot hole or a too-vague explanation or a comma splice. I love editors, and I love being edited. I am always grateful for a fresh pair of eyes. Stacey Donovan, the head of Hallmark Publishing, is really a master at this. She gives great notes, pointing out things I hadn’t considered or that I’d missed, and I really feel like she made this story much better than it would have been. (Thanks, Stacey!).

I must mention how jealous I am that you have the privilege of working with Ms. Donovan! Her blog posts are super helpful on many levels. Not to mention she is a joy to interact with on Twitter, and I loved her book, Sunset Cabin!!!

In your opinion, does being an editor make the odds of acceptance higher?

Really good one! I think it helps, because a clean-as-possible first draft is something that will stand out in a submissions pile, and having a publisher know that I have a background in helping others better their books might give me a slight edge, but anyone can have a similar chance. By that, I mean that any author submitting to a publisher can find something to set their query apart. For instance, if you’ve researched really well what a particular publisher is looking for, and you have knowledge or experience that helped you develop a character or write in a setting that fits what they want perfectly, use that! Let’s say you write a book about a plucky lumberjack in an all-woman lumberjack crew, and your book is about the heroine falling in love with the head of the competing all-male lumberjack team at the state logging competition. Adorable premise. But if this is the fictionalized version of how you actually met your husband in the same exact manner? That beats the rules that I can quote from the Chicago Manual of Style any day.

Tell us what drove you to write Love on Location?

Image result for the perfect catchI love Hallmark, and I love sweet romance. After I did the novelization of The Perfect Catch, I wanted to show readers a little more of my style, so I was so thrilled about Hallmark’s move to original fiction. I like exploring the emotional aspects of how two people can come together in the middle of life happening; not always perfect, not always on time, not always without friction—but just when it’s needed.

What has been your favorite place to see/visit?

So far, I’ve only ever traveled within the United States. But I’m so crazy about Northern Arizona in the summer, I’d have to say it’s my current favorite.

What place are you excited to visit but have yet to?

A lot of the big state parks that I haven’t been to yet! I want to hook up the camper and go see Yellowstone, Yosemite, Redwood National.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I don’t think you have the space for me to include everything! I typically get up early, try to wrangle a reluctant kindergartener to school, and entertain a very cheeky three-year old while I juggle editing and writing. I try to split my day between editing, usually during the day because that’s when clients are easiest to communicate with, and writing, which I do in the evenings and at night. I’m a definite night owl, so my day is fueled by lots of caffeine.

Are you the chef in the family? If so what is your favorite dish to make, if not what is your favorite dish to enjoy?

I do nearly all of the cooking. I love to cook, and my husband is not that keen on cooking himself, so we have an arrangement. I cook, and he does the dishes. It’s a great deal. And I cook a ton of different things! I make a pretty killer coconut curry chicken, but I also love to whip up a full-on Southern breakfast (biscuits, gravy, grits, eggs, and bacon).20190228_092521

What is your favorite Hallmark movie?

Edge of the Garden! Have you seen it? Oh my gosh. I don’t want to give the ending away, but I cried.

I have seen it! It is great. My personal favorite is the Vineyard series Hallmark Channel does!)

What’s next for you?

So much. I really want to continue the story of the Cabins in the Pines family, and I’m dying to start a cozy mystery series. I’ll update you when there’s anything new to report!

I’ll be looking forward to new news!! 

Visit Cassidy’s website

Purchase Love on Location from Barnes & Noble and Amazon

Book Reviews

Hallmark Books!

Did y’all know that Hallmark (yes, Hallmark movies, cards, ornaments) launched a publishing division? Yes, it’s true.

screenshot_20181114-075514_twitter1They have multiple books written/published based on some of the Hallmark Christmas movies, but in September of this year they released their first original (not based on a movie) book. In fact, since September they have released four new books.

The first was Stacey Donovan’s Sunrise Cabin. The story is set in Colorado during Halloween, however, it being Hallmark, it’s nothing worth scaring yourself over. The main characters, Paige and Dylan, are as cozy as the cabin they’re both hoping to keep. Paige is an amazingly positive character and the story is so well written that you can envision every sentence you read.20181114_0759111

The second book is by Alys Murray titled, The Christmas Company. This story follows Kate and Clark (and I must admit with it being about Christmas, I kept thinking Clark Griswold) in the town of Miller’s Point, Texas. If you are looking for a different story about Christmas then this is the one for you. The story takes place from Christmas Eve-Eve through Christmas morning as Kate tries to convince a very Scrooge’y’ Clark about the importance of the Dickensian Christmas festival.

The best part about these books, and other Hallmark books, is….you can find them at Target and Hallmark stores!!! and of course also online.