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Wendy Van Camp Headshot 2018Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Wendy Van Camp. Wendy Van Camp writes science fiction, regency historical, and scifaiku poetry. No Wasted Ink is her platform featuring essays, poetry, flash fiction, and author interviews. Wendy’s stories and poems appear in magazines such as “Quantum Visions,” “Scifaikuest,” “Lit Up,” “Writing Cooperative,” and “Far Horizons.” She has won Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future Contest, and is a graduate of the James Gunn Speculative Fiction Workshop.

Wendy Van Camp’s latest book, The Curate’s Brother, is a novel fans of the Regency time period are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—In the summer of 1806, a young curate is surprised by the arrival of his brother, who is on shore leave from his battles in the Napoleonic wars. Commander Frederick Wentworth has come to Somerset to spend time with the only family he has in England as he waits for reassignment.

All the good Commander wants to do is flirt and dance with the ladies until he is called back to sea, but when his flirting extends to an outgoing beauty that Edward Wentworth always disdained as “a child,” the curate becomes aware that his opinion of the girl is sorely outdated. Meanwhile, Frederick becomes drawn to the shy wallflower, Anne Elliot. She is the daughter of a baronet and above his station, but Frederick pays no heed to his brother’s warnings that class may prevent their union.

At the end of summer, a letter and package arrive that will change everything for the two brothers. Which will prevail? The bold action of the commander or the quiet manners of the curate?

The Curate's Brother Book Cover Novelette (sidebar)wendy Where did the idea come from for your latest book, The Curate’s Brother?

The idea started out as a different story that I called “Letters From The Sea” that awakened in me a few months after I read the Austen novel, Persuasion, and I fell in love with the characters. Most of the story was told through the point of view of Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth. Only the first chapter was told via Edward Wentworth’s eyes. The chapter simply did not fit with the rest of the book. One day, I thought to myself that I should take this one chapter and turn it into a stand-alone short story.

I brought this short story to my science fiction critique group. It did not go well. Half the men refused to read it because it was “romance” and most of the others flat out hated it. Only one writer thought it had promise. She told me, “the story needs ten thousand more words,” and she outlined the main plot points of my short story for me. I had a plot there. A true beginning, middle and end, but it was lacking in details.

Over the next two weeks, I wrote like a demon and the majority of the scenes were added, making the story a novelette in length. I could not get the science fiction critique group to agree to reread my story. I took it to another critique group, one that had a mix of genre. There my new story was greeted with a different tone. Most of the people loved it and several said that they felt it was ready to publish. So a week or two later, that is what I did. The novelette has done well, selling thousands of copies.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

I am fond of Frederick Wentworth because he goes through so much growth in the story. He begins as a rash young officer in the navy and gradually overcomes much adversity, both emotional and physical, to become a mature young man. He grew in a similar manner in Austen’s original novel, but I wanted to showcase more of his life and the culture of the English people during the Regency era.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?

My book is indie published. I enjoy keeping complete control over my creative products, be they books, artwork, or jewelry items. I also keep most of the profits of my sales. There are a few disadvantages in that I do need to pay for everything upfront from my own pocket, from editors, to cover artists, and formatters. Since I am a bit tech savvy I can manage to most of the work myself, but this also takes time from my writing schedule.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

I used to lean more toward being a pantser when I first started writing. I still like to leave plenty of room for the characters and situations in the story to grow organically. However, I’ve learned the value of leaving myself a trail of breadcrumbs to follow as I write. In the last few years, I’ve become more of a plotter.

What was your favorite book as a child?

That is a tough one. I have many favorites. I was one of those kids that practically lived at the local library. Of course, where I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, it rained a lot. The library was a comfortable dry place to hang out in! The book that got me hooked on reading science fiction was A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The sheer adventure, the gallantry and the spirit of Dejah Thoris and Sola called to me. In my middle years, Anne McCaffrey was my biggest influence and it was a real toss-up between The White Dragon and the Harperhall Trilogy. I loved Pern with its protective dragons and the pet firelizards, but also the music. I still love Celtic folk music to this day, and I believe my first exposure to this came from Irish transplant, Anne McCaffrey.

What writing project are you currently working on?

I am in the process of finishing up my historical regency series. The other three books are drafted, they need revision and polish before release. But I do have a new potential series in the works. It takes place on the planet Mars in the near future. I want this to be more of a hard science fiction story with attention to the real science behind living on the Red Planet and focusing how it would affect the lives of those that colonize this new world. In conjunction with this new Martian series, I am creating a chapbook of Martian poetry that will feature my scifaiku poems and longer form free verse all on the theme of surviving on Mars. I tend to write haiku poems as I research a new setting for a novel. A haiku captures tiny moments or emotions in connection with a place. The poetry lets me get a good feel for a world before I start writing the book.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

Be consistent in your writing and get a little bit more done every day. I try my best to follow this advice, although I do take a day off now and then for family and friends.

Want to learn more about Wendy Van Camp and The Curate’s Brother? Check out her:  WebsiteNewsletterFacebook pageTwitterMediumWattpad, and  Amazon Authors Page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of The Curate’s Brother.

Thanks to author Wendy Van Camp for stopping by. I’ll be posting over the next two weeks, then watch for more author interviews in April. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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David Healey Thanks to historical book author, David Healey, for stopping by and answering a few questions.

VWC: When did you decide you wanted to be an author? What are some of the things you did to reach that goal?

DH: I’ve always wanted to be a writer. That was it. I suppose I’ve been lucky that way. As a kid I was always writing stories and reading, reading, reading. There’s really no better way to become a writer than to be a voracious reader.

VWC: How has your background as a newspaperman helped you with your career as an author?

DH: Working at a newspaper you learn how to write very quickly and can’t afford the luxury of writer’s block. You also learn how to take some criticism and to work in a noisy environment. For a long time, it was a great job and it seemed important.

VWC: How do you find a publisher for your first book?

Sea Lord Chronicles DH: First I found a wonderful agent named Esther Perkins who taught me a lot about the difference between simply writing fiction and writing fiction that might be published. Unfortunately we never landed a book deal together. When Esther retired I found another agent who gave me a whole new crash course in writing fiction. The agents are the ones who find a publisher.

VWC: How do you find a publisher for a book now?

DH:Publishing has changed so much in the last twenty years. You still need an agent to get a book deal with one of the big publishers. You needed a press to print a newspaper. Technology has changed all that.

VWC: Have you ever self-published a book? If yes, what are the greatest challenges for a self-published author?

DH: Self publishing is a great option. Dickens was a self publisher, after all, cranking out serialized stories for magazines that he owned—but he was also a great storyteller. I have self published a book with some success but with a lot of help from paid designers, copy editors and marketers. I would highly recommend hiring a pro to help you publish the best book possible.

VWC: You’ve written thrillers, historical novels, non-fiction, mysteries, and the Sea Lord Chronicles for younger readers (MG or YA?), do you have a favorite genre?

Ghost-Sniper DH: I read all sorts of things, and as a result I’ve written a lot of different kinds of books.

VWC: What book that you’ve written is your favorite and why?

DH: The best book I’ve written is the one I just finished. Somebody else actually said that, not me! My favorites are Sharpshooter, because that was my first novel; and I really take pride in Rebel Train, and not just because it was a Jeopardy! question. I wrote that novel in longhand over several months between the hours of midnight and two a.m. I would come home from the night shift at the newspaper and write, and then, be up first thing in the morning with our daughter so my wife could go to work. That’s how badly I wanted to write.

VWC: In addition to your historical nonfiction books, many of your novels are based in history. Do you enjoy research? Do you visit the places mentioned in your books?

DH: History really comes alive for me when I try to imagine the people who lived through historical events. I love the research and try to visit all the historical locations I can because it helps to get the atmosphere right.

VWC: How have you managed to write and publish 8 books in the last 2 years?

Rebel Train DH: Is it that many? I figure I’m good for about 30 books. That’s my ultimate goal. We’ll see.

VWC: Do you work on more than one book at a time?

DH: Yes, I usually have one almost finished and then one in the outlining stage.

VWC: Do you have any time-management secrets for writers?

DH: An outline is very important. It took me a long time to learn that, so save yourself a lot of grief and spend the weeks you need to write an outline. My outlines are very rough and incorporate character back story and plot points, but by the time I sit down to write most of the story is “there” just waiting to be written. The other factor is time. It does help to have some sort of schedule. I have the luxury now of writing in the morning or right after lunch. For many years I wrote late at night and on weekends to get things done.

VWC: What projects are you working on now?

DH: I’m working on a sequel to my World War II story, Ghost Sniper.

VWC: What advice do you have for writers trying to get a book published?

DH: Read all you can and write all you can. Writing is definitely a craft that you have to work on over time, so it helps to read craft books, attend conferences, or just sit there and ask the age old question, “Is this showing not telling?”

VWC: Who was your favorite author as a child?

DH: The wonderful frontier adventure writer William O. Steele.

Sharp Shooter VWC: Who is your favorite author now?

DH: I would say that I never miss a John Sandford thriller.

VWC: What was the most valuable piece of writing advice given to you?

DH: The game changer for me was going to school at Washington College in Chestertown and discovering this whole community of writers there. Through that I learned that you know what, it’s okay to be a writer.

VWC: And now, the final and most important question: What’s your favorite kind of cookie?

DH: Pepperidge Farm Chesapeakes with a much of tea.

For more information about David Healey and his books, visit his website and blog. And you can find his books on Amazon.

Thanks, David, for stopping by. Watch Whimsical Words for more Guests, Quotable Wednesdays, Writing Tips, Recipes, and lots of other interesting posts. Have a historical Monday! – Vonnie

PS. If you want to show some love, visit my Amazon page and buy one of my books. 😉

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Patty Photo Face.130910 Thanks to author Patricia Daly-Lipe for stopping by and sharing the inspiration for her award-winning historical fiction book, A Cruel Calm. Enjoy!

A Cruel Calm by Patricia Daly-Lipe

“First Place winner of the 2013 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards historical fiction category, A Cruel Calm, Paris Between the Wars visits an era (1927-1939) of innovation on all levels when Paris was the cultural capital of the world. With Charles Lindbergh, James Joyce, Coco Chanel, Gertrude Stein, Joseph Campbell, Hemingway, Picasso, e e cummings, Amelia Earhart and Besse Coleman, my historical fiction, which took 15 years to research and write, depicts both history and the protagonist’s poignant pursuit of love.

Although the era of Paris between the wars was a showcase of artistic, technological and cultural dynamism and change, other forces were at work. One Great War had ended. Its tragedy was obvious visually and emotionally. The next ‘great war’, however, was simmering, drawing strength from issues unresolved by the first conflict.

Lindbergh closed the gap between two great powers, the European and the United States, by flying solo across the Atlantic. Aviation was enjoying its golden age, a positive legacy of the Great War.

The Catholic Church, however, sank its heels in tradition. While individuals anguished, the Church was unrelenting in its stance toward annulments. This is the story of one of those individuals, my mother, and her quest.

CruelCalm.BookImage History is biography, to paraphrase Emerson. A Cruel Calm, Paris Between the Wars epitomizes that statement. Malcolm Bradbury, a novelist, critic, and part-time professor in England, wrote that between the United States and Europe there had been ‘a flourishing traffic in fancy, fantasy, dream, and myth.’

What interests me in particular is the mysterious magnetism Paris held over writers like Joyce (who said it was in Paris that he became a ‘true writer’), Hemingway (who did write his ‘one true sentence’ in the cafés of Paris), Gertrude Stein (who liked Joyce initially and who liked her anonymity, writing in English in a French country), and e e cummings (who dropped the capitalization of his name in Paris).

There was also the publication of André Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto in 1924, which influenced authors and artists alike. Picasso had found his own style and artistic message by 1927. (When asked what his paintings were supposed to mean, he replied: ‘Madame, on ne parle pas au pilote‘). Man Ray captured Gertrude Stein and her contingent of artists and writers in photographic art. Natalie Barney (whose Mother was married to my Great Uncle Christian) was holding her famous/infamous Académie des Femmes and the Fitzgeralds were in and out of Paris, drinking their way to oblivion.

Writing my mother’s story was emotionally rewarding. She died when I was 18 and never told me what her life was like before I was born. It is historical fiction because she was not around to verify all the facts. However, the people, places and issues presented are factually correct.

Award I have since written Patriot Priest. Again, I have visited the past from a personal perspective; in this case, the story of my great uncle, Msgr. William A. Hemmick, who served the troops in WWI and ultimately became the only American Canon of St. Peter’s in Rome. This book is based entirely on fact.”

Want to learn more about Patricia and her books?
Visit her at Literary Lady.
Buy A Cruel Calm, Patriot Priest, and Daly-Lipe’s other books from Amazon or her web page.

Thanks again to Patricia Daly-Lipe for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more Monday Guests, Quotable Wednesdays, Saturday Owl Posts, blogs from me, and occasional Readers & Writers Recipes. Have a fascinating day! – Vonnie

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