Seven Questions: Margaret Locke

For the rest of the year I’m hoping to feature one author every month in a seven-question interview–yes, of course, because seven is the most magical number!

The talented Margaret Locke has agreed to be the first interviewee. Her debut novel, A Man of Character, is now available on Amazon. Get it here. I met Margaret on the Interwebs, specifically via the thriving flash fiction community over at Flash Friday, where a wide variety of writers gather each week to write super short stories and cause general mayhem.

But let her introduce herself in her own words:

As a teen, Margaret Locke pledged to write romances when she grew up. Once an adult, however, she figured she ought to be doing grown-up things, not penning steamy love stories. Yeah, whatever.

Margaret lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with her fantastic husband, two fabulous kids, and two fat cats. You can usually find her in front of some sort of screen (electronic or window; she’s come to terms with the fact that she’s not an outdoors person).

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Margaret answers the seven questions:

1) Pitch your book in three sentences:

Thirty-five-year-old bookstore owner Catherine Schreiber must choose between fantasy and reality after discovering the men she’s dating are living versions of fictional characters she created long ago. Her best friend, Eliza James, a romance novel junkie craving her own Happily Ever After, can’t imagine anything better than being able to draft the ideal man, but Cat’s not so sure. Perhaps the perfect fantasy might just be reality, after all.

2) Is your book indie-published or traditionally published? Tell us a little about that journey.

I started out wanting to go the traditional route, mostly to get that brass ring and prove to myself I was good enough. In the fall of 2014, I queried over sixty agents, and got several requests for partial or full manuscripts, but nothing beyond that. Then a smaller e-book only publishing house offered me a contract. I was ecstatic! I was excited! I was…stunned to realize how badly I wanted to hold a paper copy of my book in my hands. Digital just didn’t seem as real to me, somehow.

After talking with a number of writer friends (both indie and traditionally published), and with great encouragement from my husband, I decided to go indie. It suits my personality more. Yes, a part of me still wants that brass ring, but the rest of me is thrilled to have such control over the whole process. I did do what “they” say to do, even if one is indie, and that is I hired a professional, respected editor (the marvelous Tessa Shapcott) and got a fabulous cover designer and text formatter (Joy Lankshear of Lankshear Designs). Because of them, A Man of Character is much stronger than anything I could have done on my own, and I am eternally grateful for their help.

3) I really like the refreshing and different paranormal twist you gave your plot. Do you remember how that idea materialized?

That was actually the element I thought of first! Back in 2011, while on a date with my hubby, I confessed my desire to write romance novels (instead of just dreaming about doing so). His response was, “Go for it!” On the way home, I brainstormed ideas. At one point, I blurted out to him, “What if I wrote a story in which a woman figures out the guys in her life are characters she created years ago?” He said that sounded like an intriguing premise, so I sketched out an outline and started writing. It was as much a surprise to me as anyone else that my first book ended up being a light paranormal chick-lit-esque romance, rather than the Regency historicals I’d always assumed I’d write (and which are still in my future). But I love Cat’s story. I truly do.

4) What’s your favorite historical romance book?

Oh, there are so many. It’s hard to choose just one! Jude Devereaux’s A Knight In Shining Armor was one of the first time-travel romances I read, which hooked me on that subgenre. Lynn Kurland’s Stardust of Yesterday is another great medieval-mixed-with-modern romance. Then there were LaVyrle Spencer’s historicals, written in the 1980s, which I adore.

More recently I’ve fallen in love with Regency England and the fabulous authors who write Regencies, such as Eloisa James, Sabrina Jeffries, Sarah MacLean, and Julia Quinn. Picking just one of theirs is hard, but I’d have to say I really loved the somewhat tongue-in-cheek nature and wink-wink, nudge-nudge tone of Eloisa James’ latest book, Four Nights With the Duke.

5) What do you think makes a great sentence?

What an intriguing question. For me, I’d say, “lots of words.” Ha ha ha. No, really, I am always trying to cut my sentences down, as I’m rather verbose on the page (as well as in person). Hemingway I am not. The most beautiful sentences to me are those that are sensually evocative—something that gets me to respond emotionally, through beautiful imagery or delicious language. Occasionally, however, a short, succinct sentence can cut through all the verbosity and get to the core of the matter, can’t it?

6) Your top five overused words are:

I should probably consult my critique group and beta readers on this one, but I’d say:

just, even, slightly, apparently, frisson

Frisson’s in there because I managed to use it seven or eight times in an earlier version of A Man of Character. Because it’s a relatively unusual word, it really stuck out to several people. Thankfully, I’ve now axed it down to one. Because, hey, doesn’t every romance need frissons of something running through it?

Also, based on this blog post, I probably should add “really” to the list.

7) What is your next novel about?

Ooh! My next novel, A Matter of Time, features Eliza James, Cat’s best friend/ sidekick in A Man of Character, who deserves her own story, especially given what happens in AMOC. I have a complete first draft under my belt, thanks in part to NaNoWriMo 2013, but now must revise, revise, revise! I do hope to have it out by the fall of 2015, though.

Learn more about A Man of Character:

What would you do if you discovered the men you were dating were fictional characters you’d created long ago?

Thirty-five-year-old Catherine Schreiber has shelved love for good. Keeping her ailing bookstore afloat takes all her time, and she’s perfectly fine with that. So when several men ask her out in short order, she’s not sure what to do…especially since something about them seems eerily familiar.

Caught between fantasy and reality, Cat must decide which—or whom—she wants more.

Blending humor with unusual twists, including a magical manuscript, a computer scientist in shining armor, and even a Regency ball, A Man of Character tells a story not only of love, but also of the lengths we’ll go for friendship, self-discovery, and second chances. 

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Special thanks to Margaret for participating in Seven Questions!

She loves to interact with fellow readers and authors. You may find her here:

Website/Blog: http://margaretlocke.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorMargaretLocke

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/MargaretLocke

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/Margaret_Locke

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Margaret_Locke

 

Deep Breath

Last month I finished applying the edits from Beth on my latest revision of The Gantean, my fantasy novel of many faces. This poor little book–or not so little, since it was once 250,000 words–has been through so many revisions. BUT! BUT! I really think this last revision did the trick. I had some fantastic suggestions from beta-readers Beth Deitchman, Christine Kam-Lynch, Harrison Aye, and Tony Caruso. I’ve tightened plots and magic systems and done away with extraneous subplots and unneeded information. I’ve addressed character flaws and inconsistencies, except for the ones I like too much to abandon. I’ve edited every damned sentence multiple times. I’ve even patiently let the book marinate in its own juices for several weeks.

So now it’s time to take a deep breath, grind the new version through the Kindle Previewer, and read it myself for possibly the final time before publishing! I told Christine Kam-Lynch, project manager extraordinaire, my pub date goal (not to be mentioned publicly just yet, as everyone knows you must keep your big goals secret) so I must keep my nose to the ground like a hounddog to meet that secret goal, or I’ll have the to face the terror of a Project Manager’s wrath.

Wish me luck! I’m converting the file as this blog publishes. One last deep breath and I’m diving in.

Mayday, Mayday

It’s May 1st and so it must be time for GOALS.

Last month I proposed to succeed at six goals. Here’s how I did:

1) New writing. Yes, though this one was a bit of a slog. I hit the slow part of my process on the draft of Lethemia Book 6, which always occurs around 35,000 words. But I persevered and managed to meet my word count goals.

2) Flashdog stories. CHECK! I  finished the two I have decided to use and sent them to Beth for a first read.

3) Format and review Kindle the Flame. CHECK! You can pre-order Tamara’s first epic fantasy novel now on Amazon. The print files are in review as I write this.

4) Revise The Cedna, Lethemia book 2. CHECK! I began and got halfway through my Cedna revision. I will continue next month.

5) Edit for Joel Hedgepeth. CHECK! Read and reviewed. Such an interesting story!

6) The Gantean revision. Half-check. Beth got the book back to me mid-month, and I applied her suggestions and made some edits, but I have not yet begun the last revision. That will go on my May goals, below.

MAY GOALS:

1) New writing

2) Finish Cedna revision and send Cedna to beta-readers. Let me know if you wish to beta-read! It would help if you’ve read a draft of The Gantean, as they are a duet.

3) Submit fully revised Flashdogs stories. Begin Flashdogs project– I am the formatter/book designer. This will be fun and probably a little complicated.

4) Do final Gantean revision and prep for late June publication! Are you interested in receiving an advance review copy of The Gantean in exchange for a review on your blog/Amazon/Goodreads? Let me know! I’m also interested in trading book reviews with those of you who have novels out in the wild. Contact me: emily (at) luminouscreaturespress (dot) com.