Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Author Talks with Rachel Magee


Hey everyone, thanks for stopping by for today's Author Talks. I'm so thrilled to have Rachel Magee as a guest today on the blog. Today she shares with us why she writes what she writes, more insight to her writing, an excerpt from her novel Happily Ever Afters, and writing tips. 

Tell us a little about yourself:

Hi Becca! Thanks so much for having me. I love to write, talk about writing and encouraging others to write. I write contemporary romance and romantic women’s fiction mostly because I love strong female characters and happy endings.

What inspired you to start writing?

Good question. I’m a writer by nature. Ever since I was a little kid, stories were in me. I would hear a song or witness a conversation at the airport and a story would start to form in mind. My childhood room was full of spiral notebooks with these tales scribbled in them. I have to write. It’s who I am. Anyone with me?

But it was sweet husband who inspired me to take the leap into the world of being published. For years, my stories were locked away in the depths of my computer for my eyes only, while I stared longingly at the place in the library where my name would be shelved. Mike was the one who finally encouraged me to let others read them and start looking into what it would take to find a publisher. It was a long, slow, and sometimes painful road, but I’m so glad I ventured down it!

How do you write? Do you plot? Or do you just go for it?

I’m a total plotter. I once tried being a pantser, and it was a hot mess. What can I say? I need a plan.  

I tend to favor the Save the Cat! method of plotting. If you’re a plotter and you haven’t read it, it’s worth picking up. I write each of my plot points on notecards, which is a tip I got from another writer, because occasionally I will have to shift some plot points around to make the story work better. Plus, I’m tactile and I like to hold them. It helps me connect more with the story.

How many stories have you written?

If you are counting only the stories I’ve written since I’ve become serious about being published, the answer is three. Right now, there are three complete full-length manuscripts on my computer and one in the works. I feel very fortunate that my first complete manuscript, Happily Ever Afters, will be the first one published. It’s being released September 19! Book #2 is on submission right now, and I’m excited to see where it ends up. Book #3, which is related to Happily Ever Afters, is in the final editing phase before I send it to my publisher later this summer. 

Tell us about your new novel that will be released in September, can you give us an excerpt?

Happily Ever Afters is about type-A doctor, Lainey Stratton, who happens to fall in love with someone she meets on vacation, which isn’t part of her plan. With her life in Dallas and his is D.C., she doesn’t see how it can possibly work out. Still, since she could use a date to an upcoming destination wedding, she’s has an excuse to at least see him again. But when her well-planed life falls apart, her vacation romance might be the only one who can help her put it back together. That is, as long as his past doesn’t catch up with them.

It’s full of fun settings, interesting characters, and the emotional journey of overcome life’s unexpected hurtles. There might be a bit of humor in there, too.

Have a peek at a scene from the first chapter.

“Excuse me.” The deep voice came from above me.
I cracked one eye enough to see a man standing there. He motioned to the large storage bin holding all the passengers’ bags stowed under the bench where I was sitting. Shifting out of his way, I didn’t let the interruption distract me from enjoying the tranquility of the sail.
“It’s the ugly green one,” a girl’s voice called from somewhere near the front of the boat. I wanted to completely ignore the bag-fetching stranger, but curiosity piqued my interest. I needed to know what the ugly bag looked like. Through my half-opened lid, I saw him hoist an apple-green and white chevron print bag with a large pink flower printed on one side.
“Oh.” I pointed to the bag dangling from his finger. “That’s actually my ugly green bag.”
He pulled a face to show his embarrassment and handed me my bag. “Sorry about that.” Squatting down, he continued to dig through the bin.
He moved two more green bags to the top of the pile. One was a lime Hawaiian print and the other chartreuse with a bright lemon geometric design. Stroking his jaw, he studied both.
“Any thoughts on which would be ugly?” he asked.
“Beauty’s in the eye of the beholder?” I offered.
He shrugged and picked the chartreuse bag, holding it up for the girl at the front to see. She nodded her approval. He removed a bottle of sunblock and dropped the bag into the bin.
          “May I?” He motioned to my bag. I handed it to him, and he placed it on top of the pile before returning the bin to its storage place. “Mission accomplished,” he said, displaying the bottle. “Who knew finding sunblock would be such a challenge? Anyway, I’m Carter.”
Annoyed he was interrupting my relaxing moment, I plastered a fake-friendly smile on my face before shifting my complete attention to the chatty stranger. Then, I momentarily lost my train of thought.
          The man standing in front of me was much more attractive than I had first noticed. He had thick dark hair and a strong jaw, but his playful smile softened his features. He wore only a pair of teal swim trunks, showing off a sculpted body that had clearly spent some time inside a gym. And from the look of his sun-kissed skin, I guessed this was not the first day of his vacation. I had to force myself to regain focus.
“Lainey Stratton. And for the record, the bag wasn’t my first choice either.” I bought it at the hospital gift shop the day before we left because I realized I didn’t have any sort of beach bag to bring with me on the trip. My choices were between the one I got and one featuring the poop emoji. That’s what I get for not planning ahead.
“Nice to meet you, Lainey.” He flashed a charming smile and settled against the rail. “What brings you to Puerto Rico?”

What inspired you to write your novel?

I was on a girls’ trip with some friends when a conversation sparked the idea for this book. What would happen if you fell in love with someone you met on vacation but their life was nowhere near yours? The rest of the story just sort of fell into place. I think I had the whole thing plotted before I flew home.

Do you have any tips you can give other aspiring authors out there?

Don’t give up!! I can’t say it enough. The journey to being published is full of rejection. Don’t let it stop you. Continue to write, continue to improve your craft, and don’t give up the dream of seeing it published. And if you feel like giving up, find a friend who won’t let you.

Which authors inspire you most?

I’m a huge Jane Austen fan. I love her work, the way she crafts her stories, and the way the romances are deep and thought provoking. I could read her books over and over.

If you could join in literary world, what would it be and why?

Do I have to pick just one? The truth is, I usually want to be part of whatever I happen to be reading at the moment. Right now, I’m reading a book with my son set in a space colony on the moon. The other night we had a great conversation about how we wanted to go there and live with them. Then I went downstairs and picked up the book I’m currently reading set in a summer camp. Now I’m ready to pack my trunk to go to camp. Minus the bugs, of course.

What are the first 5 things you do to prepare yourself for a day of writing?

1.    Get child care. Luckily, my hubby is very supportive and will entertain the kiddos when I need a full day of writing. But, as a mom of two active kids, a couple of hours of writing time is more the norm.
2.    Set a goal. I like goals because they help me focus. Sometimes I reach my goals, sometimes not.
3.    Pick out my music. I love to write to music because it helps me think. But I’m specific in what I’m listening to while I’m writing, because it effects my mood. Which brings me to…
4.    Think about the emotions. I think about the emotions in the scene, what each character is trying to portray, and where I want the characters and the reader to end up emotionally at the end of it.
5.    Get coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

Are you working on anything now? Can you share a little bit about it with us?

Most of my time right now is devoted to editing the book that follows Happily Ever Afters. It is about a bubbly, energetic event planner and a serious, career-focused lawyer who have to work together to plan an event that will make or break each of their careers. The only problem is they don’t see eye-to-eye on, well, anything. The banter between the characters has been a lot of fun to write, and it has some pretty great locations as well. Part of the story takes place at a hot air balloon festival, which was a blast to research.

Before you go, is there anything else you would like to share with us? 

I’ll leave you with a quote I love from Richard Bach. “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” Follow your dream. The world needs to read your story.
Thanks for having me!

About the Novel:

Lainey Stratton does not fall in love with strangers she meets on vacation. It simply doesn’t make logical sense. So when Lainey meets Carter Thompson on the first day of her Caribbean vacation, she knows it could never amount to anything more than a crush.  At the end of the vacation she will return to Dallas and he will return to DC, and that will be the end of it. Well, unless he wants to join her at a friend’s destination wedding, which would be considered vacation too, right?

But when an unexpected tragedy sends Lainey’s logical world spiraling out of control, she realizes her vacation crush might be the only one who can help her pick up the pieces of her shattered life.  That is, as long as she can get out of the way of her own happiness.  And as long as Carter’s past doesn’t catch up with him before she gets a chance.

About the Author:

Rachel wrote her first novel when she was twelve and entered it into a contest for young author/illustrators. Unfortunately, the judges weren’t impressed with her stick figures. So she dropped the dream of becoming a world famous illustrator and stuck to spinning stories. When she’s not busy working on her latest book, she loves to travel with her family and friends. By far, her favorite destination is the beach, which tends to work its way into most of her stories. Between vacations, you can find her at home in The Woodlands, TX with her wonderful husband, their two adventurous kids and a couple of spirited pets, all of whom share Rachel’s love of the ocean. Well, except the cat and dog. They’re both afraid of water. Find out more about what Rachel has been up to at rachelmageebooks.com. 

Author Links:

Loved having Rachel on the blog today! I'll leave you all with a fun question to answer. What do you love most about contemporary romance and why? Leave your answer in the comments!

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