Friday, August 22, 2014

Guest Blogger: Sheila Lamb

Welcome Sheila Lamb to my blog today!

Please tell us about your latest book: Once A Goddess is the first in a trilogy about Brigid of Ireland. It focuses on Brigid and Túatha de Danann, the mythical original people of Ireland who possessed shape-shifting powers. The trilogy is based on the history and mythology of Brigid as Goddess, Druid, and Saint.

What can we expect from you in the future?
I hope to publish the next two in the trilogy, Fiery Arrow, and Church of the Oak. But first things first. I want to make sure Once A Goddess is the best it can be.

How do we find out about you and your books?
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @sheilarlamb and Facebook My website has links to all of my published works, including short stories and photographs.

Why did you decide to write Romance/Paranormal novels?
 Brigid's story definitely contains romance. She's forced into an arranged marriage in order to keep peace between two warring tribes. In doing so, she sacrifices her hopes for happiness with her true love. Once A Goddess also contains paranormal elements. Brigid and the rest of the Danann can shape-shift and communicate telepathically. This adds to some interesting plot twists as characters discover it's hard to keep secrets in this kind of world.

How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
Aside from being a goddess…?

When did you first think about writing and what prompted you to submit your first ms?
I've always wanted to write and have always journaled and wrote poems and stories. There was a lull during college when I majored in sociology instead of English (I think I wanted to save the world kind of thing) and I ended up teaching social studies for several years. It wasn't until a career change and moving to a new state, that I decided to take it seriously and began the Brigid trilogy. Since then, I've completed an MFA program and have published several short stories. I'm also working on a new historical fiction manuscript and I am back in the classroom but teaching English this time.

Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?
Years. That said, I now have two ready to go, a third almost completed, and a fourth in progress. I do a lot of research since my novels are historical/mythological based. I also don't believe in rushing writing. I want my work to be the best it can possibly be. That requires setting it down, revising it with fresh eyes, asking for critiques from fellow writers and editors.

Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?
I write creatively in the morning but my schedule changes based on the school year. During the summer and winter breaks, I begin writing in the morning and continue for several hours. Once school starts, I switch into editing and revision mode. I do some creative writing for a few minutes in the morning before work, and try to pick it up again at night, but usually I'm pretty wiped out at the end of the day.

What is your writing routine once you start a book?
I usually write a draft straight through, and get to what might be the end. Then I go back and add in scenes, confrontations, and details.

What about your family, do they know not to bother you when you are writing - or are there constant interruptions?
 Luckily, my partner is a writer and he also requires writing space. After dinner, we both retreat to our separate writing rooms. The interruptions we get are from our dog, our cat, or our chickens.

What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?
Take a hike in the woods, read a book, now and then visit with friends.

What truly motivates you in general? In your writing?
I want to tell the story and can't stop until it's complete (a little obsessive, but I think that's true of many writers!)

Where do your ideas come from?
Usually from something that really (or mythically) happened. The saying, "truth is stranger than fiction," holds true. With Brigid, I read several Danann myth stories before realizing I could expand those myths into a novel.

Do you feel humor is important in __historical paranormal____ and why?
I think it depends on the writer, the story, and the characters. Humor can work well…though I have to say my characters are probably limited an occasional sarcastic jab rather than outright humor.

What are your thoughts on love scenes in romance novels, do you find them difficult to write?
 I do find them difficult to write. Part of me thinks that it's up to the reader to use their imaginations (or own experiences, whichever!) to the scene. Part of me also thinks, "my grandmother is going to read this."

What kind of research do you do?
I do a lot of historical research, either online, or visits to the library or in the case of my current historical work in progress, visits to the county clerks office. I used to work in the archives section of a library and loved reading primary source documents - letters, diaries, interviews - as well as old photos. For Brigid's story, I found terrific Irish resources online which told the old legends from CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts.

Would you like to write a different genre than you do now, or sub-genre?
I do write in different genres. Although most of what I write is fiction, I write the paranormal novels, as well as literary/contemporary short stories. I'm working on a straight historical fiction novel as well.

What does your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend think of your writing?
My boyfriend is very supportive. He is a writer too and is working on a novel, as well as short stories.

Do you ever ask him/her for advice?
 Yes, we often read through each other's finished work, and ask for feedback.

Please tell us about yourself (family, hobbies, education, etc.) - I have a large, extended family. My parents divorced and remarried - originally I was an only child. Now I have a mix of six brothers and sisters (half, steps, - I just say brothers and sisters). I've waited on more tables than I care to count, I've taught history, been a park ranger, a librarian, and now I'm an English teacher. All I ever really wanted to do was write.

Fill in the blank favorites - Dessert. City. Season. Type of hero. Type of heroine.
Anything involving chocolate (no chocolate = no dessert)
Although I grew up in the Washington DC suburbs, I'm a small town girl at heart.
Hero - Adraic, from Once A Goddess, of course. J I've always been a fan of Jamie from Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. Others include Cuchulain from Morgan Llywelyn's book Red Branch
Heroine - Brigid, of course J Claire from the Outlander series. She's independent and not helpless. Jamie often helps her but she gets out of (and into) many of scrapes on her own. Also from Morgan Llywelyn Grania, the pirate queen Grace of Umhall.

What are some of your favorite things to do? Writing J I feel like there is never enough time for all the writing I want to do. I take a break with hiking in the mountains near my house or reading a new book.

Do you have a favorite author? Favorite book? I have so many favorite authors in different genres. As far as historical fiction, Diana Gabaldon and Morgan Llywelyn. My favorite contemporary writers include Sherman Alexie, Brady Udall, and Louise Erdrich.

Who are some of your other favorite authors to read? I  just finished Goldfinch by Donna Tartt which was a great read. As far as nonfiction, I like books such as Breaking Clean by Judy Blunt, The Meadow by James Galvin, and Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls. There's something life out west and facing the elements in all of those books that I enjoy.

What do you think of critique groups in general? I think they are necessary - if they are done right. All writers need feedback and another set of eyes on their work. Feedback should be given constructively. It's important to find a group who is working in a similar genre, with similar goals for their writing.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Hopefully somewhere doing a book signing for my best selling novels.

How long have you been writing - have you always wanted to be a writer? All my life - and yes. In high school, I wanted to write for soap operas. I was a huge fan of the unrequited love stories (especially Cruz and Eden on the old show Santa Barbara).

What book for you has been the easiest to write? The hardest? The most fun? The second book, Fiery Arrow, in the Brigid trilogy was the one I wrote first. Chunks of Once A Goddess were first in Fiery Arrow. I liked going back and forth between Brigid's and Patrick's point of view.

Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting? I think a strong main character sets the stage for the story, and helps move the story forward. If it weren't for Brigid…

What are the elements of a great romance for you? I like to see characters overcoming obstacles to be together and I also like when the hero and heroine are on fairly equal footing. I've read a few older romance novels (no names mentioned) where all the "heroine" does is cry and wait for the hero to show up. Ugh. Not to say Brigid doesn't have her sad moments after particularly tragic events (no spoilers) but I think any of us would be in that frame of mind for a while.

What is the hardest part of writing/the easiest for you? The hardest is balancing work and writing time. The easiest is having the idea or inspiration. The hard part is sitting down and writing the story, and write it well.

Have you experienced writer's block---> If so, how did you work through it? I try to have a few projects going at the same time. If I'm editing Once A Goddess, I might also be working on a new short story. I have a very rough first draft of the historical work in progress that I interchange with Fiery Arrow or Church of the Oak revisions.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer? Seeing your stories in print.
If you weren't writing, what would you be doing? I'm not sure, but I wouldn't be a very happy person without writing in my life.

Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers? Don't give up hope. Also have the patience to put a story down for awhile and look at it a few weeks or months later. Find a supportive critique group, either in person or online and be able to accept critiques. Then find the publisher that will be the right fit for the story!

Blurb for "Once Is A Goddess"
For the sake of peace, Brigid of the supernatural Túatha dé Danann enters into an arranged marriage with Bres, the next chieftain of the enemy Fomorian tribe, whose iron weapons and brute strength challenge Danann magic. Brigid is told to spy for her people, and to keep the source of their powers secret, dangerous tasks that complicate her desire of making the best of her forced union. 

Sacrificing her own hope for love, Brigid faces the Fomorians alone. She must confront her rival, Morrigan, who tries to manipulate the tribe against her. At the same time, Brigid suspects that Bres is breaking the truce for reasons she doesn't understand. When his tyranny threatens the very existence of the Danann, Brigid has no choice but to risk her life in order to save her people. 

Set in a time when myths were reality, Once A Goddess brings the legend of Ireland's magical Túatha dé Danann to life.

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