One Reason I’m a Fangirl of Writer Unboxed

Writer Unboxed founders, Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton, are not the sort to rest on their laurels, which is one of the reasons I heart them. They’ve begun a new initiative, and since you’re probably here because you love writing and/ or books, it might interest you.

Beginning in March, WU is putting out a monthly newsletter with content exclusive to that format.

If you’re a writer, you’ll find columns by Donald Maass on craft, Chuck Sambuchino on getting an agent, and Victoria Mixon on editing issues, among others.

Vaughn Roycroft has taken on the role of community roundup-er, gathering the best blog posts written by the WU Facebook members in the preceding month. (If you’re not yet part of that supportive place and want to join, and have your blog posts be eligible for inclusion, go here.)

If you’re a reader, the newsletter will have short articles written by guest authors. This month? NYT-bestseller Diana Gabaldon on the book that changed her life.

I’m thrilled to be part of the initiative with a role which indulges my congenital nosiness. I’ll be conducting short Q & A’s with authors and industry people, beginning with mystery author, Alice Loweecey.

Want more details? Go to WU itself for more information.

Ready to give it a try? Follow this link, enter your email, and you’re done. If you’re inclined to spread the world, we’d appreciate it.

I’ll be back later this week with a regular post, me Zesties. Hope you are well.


Announcements and I Might Have Committed Some Teasing…

Catch-up day here, peeps. I have enough announcement-type thingies  to justify a post.

1. The winner for the Alice Loweecey nun doll is Kim.🙂 Kim, congrats! I’ll make sure you and Alice connect.

2. If you remember, in November I interviewed Cindy Pon and Shveta Thakrar for Writer Unboxed about writing the culturally diverse novel. Cindy’s book, Silver Phoenix, is now available in paperback with its new, edgier cover art. Also, Cindy began her diversity tour with an impressive list of contributors. For more details, check out this page.

3. Writer Unboxed has acquired a Facebook page which any and all are welcome to join. I believe you can “like” it yourself, but if you want an invitation, just leave me a comment below and I’d be happy to facilitate that. The page is a great place to post writing links and have informal chats about industry-related topics.

4. I don’t think I told you guys formally, but that gaming post I wrote which was referenced in the MSNBC blog? It also got picked up by the gaming site,  (Article here.) Needless to say, that was a lovely surprise, and I’m very grateful for the exposure!

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Interview and Giveaway with Alice Loweecey, Ex-Nun and Author of FORCE OF HABIT – Part 2

Thus far into the interview, Alice has tolerated ruler jokes and my inquisitiveness about she transitioned from card-carrying nun to prostitute-playing civilian. For these details and more, see Part 1.  

Jan: You don’t seem to spend much time in self-doubt or in fretting about your worthiness as a writer. (Not to say you don’t work at craft and self-improvement; merely, that you don’t seem to dwell in angst.) Did you work it out as a nun, so that the final showdown around that issue was symbolized by jumping the wall? Were you a decisive person before the convent or did your time there contribute to your robustness?

Alice: I was the image of an introverted wallflower in high school. Acting doesn’t count, because you’re not “you” on stage. You’re a character. But nuns are expected to lead. So, at age 19 with 6 weeks of Methods in Teaching under my belt, I was teaching. It was the ultimate “sink or swim” — and we weren’t allowed to sink!

The convent is a crucible. Picture 95 women in a closed loop, all cycling together. (Apologies to any men reading this.) Also, the training is one long fishbowl experience. People want you to succeed, and could go overboard in their eagerness to “help” the training staff.

Wasn’t that a polite way of saying it? What it means is too many people had their noses in what was none of their business. Trust me when I say that only the strong survive. Thus, I angst like everyone else. I have my times of “My writing sucks rocks. I have no business trying to get published. I’m a big, honking fraud and I should stick to knitting.” But I learned years ago that dwelling in that for more than 24 hours can become a hamster wheel of suckitude. So I trained myself to shake it off by brute force if necessary. 

You are a plotter to the nth degree, as I understand. What method do you use? Did you begin this way or become converted?

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Interview and Giveaway with Alice Loweecey, Ex-Nun and Author of FORCE OF HABIT – Part 1

Tell people you’re interviewing an ex-nun on your blog and you get a certain kind of look because, let’s face it, that vocation comes with a ton of associations. We’ll explore some of them in my interview with Alice Loweecey, along with “incidental” chat about writing and books.😉

If you notice my tone gets cheeky at times, it’s because I know Alice can handle it. In fact, I’m not sure there’s anything she can’t handle. Full-time work, motherhood, a moderatorship on Absolute Write… Alice juggles these roles and still has a take-no-prisoners mentality towards authordom. Perhaps that’s why Midnight Ink took a leap of faith – if you’ll forgive the pun – and signed her for a three-book mystery series.  

Alice’s first novel comes out in February and has earned early praise. Publisher’s Weekly called FORCE OF HABIT a “spirited debut” and said Alice’s “fresh take on crime fighting is a delight.” 

Welcome, Alice! Before we get started, I thought I’d give you a little something to help you feel at home:

So I don’t make any accidental faux pas, what are the other touchy subjects I need to avoid? No Sound of Music cracks, right? Anything else you consider out of line?

First of all, thank you for having me on your blog! And yes, please, no Sound of Music references. Sister Act, either. I still wield a mean ruler. Other than that, I can’t think of anything.

Would you like to fill our readers in on your novel’s premise?

Giulia Falcone is convinced she’s going to Hell. First, because she left the convent. Second, her new job with a private investigator has her sneaking around and lying. Adjusting to life in the outside world isn’t easy. Makeup, dating, and sex are all new to her. And despite a crush on her boss Frank Driscoll—a foul-mouthed, soft-hearted ex-cop—Giulia is sure he’d never fall for an ex-nun.

Her first case involves drop-dead handsome Blake Parker, a man with immense wealth and an ego to match. He and his fiancée are getting disturbing “gifts” with messages based on biblical verses. When Giulia is drawn into the stalker’s twisted game, salacious photos of her appear, threatening her job and her friendship with Frank. No one imagines—least of all naïve Giulia—the danger ahead, when following the clues turns into a fight for her life.   

Your road to authordom took a circuitous route with a four-year stint in the convent. Guilia’s a former nun, and I can’t help being curious about how you two might be similar or divergent. For instance, it’s implied Guilia took the veil in part, at least, due to family pressure. Was that the case for you?

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How Barry Manilow Almost Made Me Take on an Ex-Nun

Portrait of Felix Nadar (1820-1910), Photographer and Aeronautical Scientist

From the Smithsonian, Portrait of Felix Nadar (1820-1910), Photographer and Aeronautical Scientist

I don’t know if it’s the cold, that Christmas approaches, or that my schedule has shifted again now that Molly’s into exam-mode, but I’ve been in a sentimental mood of late. I first noted it when I was walking Maya and the playlist brought up an unexpected song: Barry Manilow’s New York City Rhythm.

Most days that would have wrenched an epithet from these lips. I would have flung my gloves into the snow, fumbled for my iPhone and blasted some hip-hop as an antidote. The ToolMaster hates Barry Manilow’s music with a blind and abiding loathing; I guess I’ve absorbed some of his attitude.

He also hates hip-hop, but then, that’s another post.

Instead I listened and I tapped my toe and I may have altered my usual zesty walk to incorporate a bit of sway. By the time I’d reached home,  the mood had gelled. Translation? I’m craving things with patina, solidity and staying power.

Hence the photo to the left. Hence the fact that I’ve made more traditional O’Hara foods in the last month than in the preceding year. Hence the old movie marathon I began, including most of Steve Martin’s celluloid.

That would include Roxanne. I love that movie. It’s sweet, tender, silly. But that opinion put me on Alice Loweecey‘s perma-ignore list. She considers the play on which it’s based a seminal work of art, and the Steve Martin adaptation an abomination in the eyes of the Lord.

Peeps, although there can be no doubt of her mistaken opinion, I did not engage her in a smackdown. Two reasons:

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