SUCH a Good Book!

I’ve been…oh dear,what’s the word?

Oh, yeah, now I remember. Lazy.

Judy Fogarty bookSo today, I made a Very Serious To Do List because I did not want another 24 hours to go by without sharing a great summer read with you. The title is Breaking and Holding which, once you read the book, you’ll see is a very clever title. But for now, I’ll add that tennis plays a big part in the story and isn’t it serendipitous that Wimbledon’s going on?

Judy Fogarty is the lovely author and I met her when I was down at the beach. She came out for an afternoon chat and I learned all about her publisher (Lake Union Publishing, in the Amazon family), her writing group (a hard-working and well-published bunch!) and all about her journey to publication (a long road with a nicely successful ending).

I hadn’t quite finished the book when we met, but I’d read enough to know how much I liked it. Judy calls it a romance at heart–and it is–but it’s so much more.

Breaking and Holding is a beautifully written novel, a compelling literary debut. Whether on the South Carolina resort beaches or the high-rise advertising boardrooms of New York, you’ll be lost in this story of love and passion, deceptions and truths, of control and breaking free.

It’s a delightful bonus that the story takes place in the 1970s, a golden age of tennis, and a time when Mister Man and I played–and watched–a ton of tennis. I felt 20-something again, and I’m not going to lie: that’s quite a feat!

And it’s quite a feat to keep a reader like me, who’s not exactly a fan of romance, turning the pages. I think the book is classified as women’s fiction, but I hope you don’t let a label keep you from grabbing up this book. Because whatever it’s called–romance, women’s fiction, contemporary adult–it’s a thrilling ride with an authentic cast of well-developed characters. And a perfectly wonderful novel, guaranteed to jumpstart your summer reading.

Especially if you’ve been…oh, what’s that word again?

Yeah. You know what I’m talking about.

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Gone South with Meg Moseley (And a Giveaway!)

One of the things I love about being a writer is meeting other writers! I’m always surprised by how much I have in common with them, but honestly, Meg Moseley probably wins the prize.

Meg and I have been on several writers’ retreats together and she always drives—and we always get lost (we both have a terrible sense of direction). We both wrote opinions for the Gwinnett/Atlanta Journal Constitution (at different times, but still. We probably read each other’s columns!) And on this last jaunt, we realized that we share the same anniversary date, year included—and we got married at the same time.

Gone South (683x1024)So you can see why she wins the prize. But she could just as easily win a prize for her novels (and perhaps she has—I forgot to ask that question!) And so (while she was stuck in a car for much longer than she planned) I talked her into stopping by here to share a little about her writing and her latest book, GONE SOUTH. (And not just because I wanted a copy of GONE SOUTH.)

First, a little bit about GONE SOUTH: The sweet tea has gone bitter in Noble, Alabama where newcomer Tish McComb settles to reconnect with her family roots. Problem is the name McComb isn’t welcome in town, and when Tish aligns herself with the local prodigal daughter things only get worse. Can Tish find any mercy for sinners in Noble?

(P.S. The protagonist in my novel is named…Tish. Hey, I couldn’t make this stuff up. Well, okay, I made up the story, but both of us choosing the same unusual name for a protagonist? Freaky.)

I zipped through GONE SOUTH, thoroughly enjoying the read. It’s a well-crafted story that appeals to the heart, but the mind as well. So, naturally, I picked Meg’s brain for tips.

 I always like to ask about a writer’s journey to publication. When did you start writing? Did you always want to write novels? And what did you do to hone your craft? Because you’ve had several novels published, so clearly you know what you’re doing!

Well, let’s clear up that little misunderstanding: I really don’t know what I’m doing. 🙂 I’m learning as I go. I always knew I wanted to write, although I focused more on poetry and short stories when I was younger. Then, when I was on bedrest for months, awaiting the birth of my third and last baby (who is now 22), I read a zillion novels to combat the boredom. Every time I finished one, I had this crazy idea that I could write one too. It was still years before I started writing my first novel—which will never be published because it’s so awful. I learned (and am still learning) the basics of writing fiction from a lot of different sources that include writers’ conferences, critique groups, input from editors, and a ton of reading.

  It won’t surprise y’all to know that MY BABY IS 22, TOO (and a third born).  So…moving on. But unfortunately, we can’t always move on with our stories. What do you do, when writer’s block strikes?

When I get writer’s block, I think it’s my subconscious telling me there’s a horrible problem somewhere in the story and I have to fix it before I can go on. So I start by asking myself where it was that I stopped enjoying the story. Sometimes I can track it down to something simple, like a scene that I wrote in Character A’s POV when it would have been better in Character B’s POV. Other times it’s a fatal flaw in the foundation of the plot, and I have to rethink my entire premise. (That’s painful.)

 That’s for sure. So what’s the hardest part for you in the process–from coming up with the idea to getting the story published and in your hot little hands? And what’s the easiest?

For me, plotting a story is the hardest part. I always rebel against using charts and formulas and outlines, but I crash when I fly by the seat of my pants. I’m still trying to find the right balance between a structured approach and an “organic” one. The easiest part? For me, it’s doing the revisions after I’ve figured out the plot. I love to go back over a manuscript to explore the themes in more depth, flesh out my characters’ personalities, add more sensory details or emotions, and so on.

Ah, plot. Yep, I struggle with plotting, too. So let’s talk writing advice. What’s the best advice you were ever given? Or what’s the one thing you wished you’d known about writing, way back when?

I have so much writing advice sloshing around in my head that I don’t know if I could pinpoint the best—or the worst. But one thing I wish I’d known, way back when, is that you shouldn’t waste your time writing anything you don’t love. If you don’t love what you’re working on, it will drain your creativity and make a hack of you. Of course, there are times when we just have to be hacks to pay the bills, but in a perfect world…well, we wouldn’t even have bills.

Stillness of Chimes final cover (683x1024) Oh, I love that, Meg, and agree wholeheartedly. And now I have to ask one last question, because I know you’re always busy writing!  What’s in the future for Meg Moseley, novelist? (New books coming out? New genres to try?)

My third novel, A STILLNESS OF CHIMES, is coming out from Multnomah on February 18. I’ll also have a romantic novella, A MAY BRIDE, coming out from Zondervan in the spring. Meanwhile, I’m editing a completed novel and playing with ideas for a new one. The new projects are screwball romantic comedies, which will be quite a switch after the serious topics of STILLNESS.

 

See? I told you she’s always busy writing! And because I love sneak peeks, here’s one about STILLNESS: When Laura Gantt returns to Georgia to handle her late mother’s estate, she hears a startling rumor—that her father staged his drowning years ago and has recently been spotted roaming the mountains. With the help of her former high school sweetheart, Laura searches for the truth. But will what they find destroy their rekindled feelings?

A big thank you to Meg for sharing her expertise with us—and her book, GONE SOUTH. Leave a comment and you can win her book; I’ll draw a name this time next week. (By which point, I will have found ten more things that Meg and I have in common.)