When the things she holds closest are suddenly threatened, Kelsey needs her best friend more than ever. But can Joni be there for her, or will her discovery of a shocking secret force her to choose between their friendship and her marriage? After fleeing an abusive past, Megan looks forward to a new future, but suddenly finds herself at risk of being a victim again. Their recently widowed friend and colleague, Olivia, wants to help them through the tough times with a freshly baked dessert, but when a surprise gift prompts her try online dating, she finds herself embarking on an adventure she never expected.
A story about friendship, relationships, trust, betrayal, letting go of the past and facing the future, this will be a year like no other for the women of Sixth South.
Now, let's meet our guest author. Welcome, Michele!
Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
Well, I’m one of the lawyers that decided to try her hand at fiction writing. There seem to be more and more of us out there, and I’m really not sure why that it is. Perhaps it’s something in the way our brains work or our training. Or perhaps it’s because the practice of law is very stressful and just not fun on most days and we need a break from it and writing fiction provides a chance to escape.
Before I went to law school, I spent two years as a substitute teacher at the middle school and high school levels in the city where I grew up, El Paso, Texas, which is a border city with Juarez, Mexico. That was quite an eye-opening experience.
I’ve incorporated both my law background and my teaching background into my books, with my first novel being about a class reunion of four law school friends and my current release focusing on the personal and professional challenges confronting a group of sixth grade teachers.
As I mentioned, I grew up in Texas and I currently live in Iowa. There’s quite a difference between the two, and not just the weather! I consider both Iowa and Texas to be ‘home.’
Aside from writing, I am also an avid reader and sports fan. If there’s a football, hockey or soccer game on TV, I’m probably watching it in the background while I’m typing away on my laptop on my latest book.
Wow! So much background, I feel like you have a story yourself.
How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits in your research?
I do a lot of research. Even though there’s something to be said for ‘writing what you know,’ which to some extent I do, I think there’s always research to be done, sometimes for the subject matter of the book, and sometimes about various hobbies or interests that can help define characters.
For example, on my characters in my new release enjoys cooking and is always trying out new recipes, so I’ve spent lots of time on food and cooking websites trying to find dishes that she might want to make. I’ve found some that sound really good, too!
I have another character who has done a lot of traveling, something I really have not, so I have researched different world locales.
Sometimes the research is fun, sometimes it’s more sobering or depressing. My current project is about a recovering drug addict who is involved in the child welfare system and has involved a great deal of research on the drug culture and its impacts.
What main genre do you write in?
I write women’s fiction. My books are about friendships, family dynamics and interpersonal relationships. I like to think they’re about real life and about issues women encounter today. I’m not afraid to shy away from some edgier themes, such as overcoming alcoholism or drug use, or having a character who is openly gay, because those are very real issues in today’s world.
My current WIP is definitely the edgiest, and I started out thinking it might best be classified as mainstream, but since I also love a good romance and happy ending, and those elements always seem to find their way into my books, I think it will still best be classified as women’s fiction.
What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?
I’m mainly a fly by the seat of my pants writer, but there’s some element of both. I never start out by having an outline. I just have a basic idea of who my characters are and what the book will be about and I just start writing and let the characters chart their course and dictate their story. My characters often have minds of their own, so starting out with any sort of outline is a waste of time because I know it will change.
With that said, I think there comes a point in writing a book that even us “pantsters” have to take a little time to assess what is happening in the book- the events that have already happened, and everything else that needs to happen to reach the ultimate resolution- and do some plotting to make sure everything is falling into place the way it should.
That never results in a detailed outline for me, but rather a list of key remaining events or a list of the approximate number of chapters left and a few words about what will happen in those chapters. It’s usually about 2/3 of the way through a book that I need to step back and take a little plotting break so I know how to get to the end.
Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?
I belong to an online critique site, Critique Circle, and it’s been absolutely invaluable to me. Although it can be a little hard at the beginning for a writer to take the plunge and let other people read their work and offer feedback on it, and I’ve had to develop a thick skin to accept constructive criticism, I view it as an essential part of the writing process. I like to know what works and what doesn’t in my books so I can make the necessary improvements before moving further in the publication process.
I know people that live in large communities that have local writer’s workshop that offer in-person critiquing. For example, they can read a portion of the work in progress to other members who then offer their feedback. I think that would be a wonderful benefit and I sometimes wish I lived in a large community that did have a local writer’s group.
I don’t, though, so I have to utilize online critique workshops. I do think there are some great advantages to online critiques, such as the opportunity to receive feedback on specific scenes or paragraphs or even sentences.
I agree, Michele. I don't know what I'd do without Critique Circle!
Thanks so much for sharing insight on the life of a writer.
Readers, you can find Michele at her website: http://micheleshriver.com/
Thanks for stopping by,