Welcome, N. L. LaFoille!

Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome N. L. LaFoille to the blog.

Tell our readers a little about yourself and your books.

I write romantic women’s fiction. Whether it’s historical about pirates or cowboys (Nautical Miles and Lesser Evils, respectively) or contemporary (my upcoming 2020 release, The Pickling Secret), I love seeing my characters learn, grow and, of course, find love in the end.

I’m a mom to a 5-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old rat terrier. I teach sewing as a contributor to Sew News magazine and in monthly videos that can be found on the NationalSewingCircle YouTube channel.

I love to travel. Last year, we spent 10 weeks in Spain and are planning our winter trip this year to Thailand.

I spend my summers at home in Michigan, camping, gardening, foraging and canning the bounty, which inspired The Pickling Secret.

Tell us about your pets. Are any of them models for pets in your writing?

My dog, Finley, is an 11-year-old rat terrier. He’s a little brat who’s too smart for his own good. He enjoys snuggling, walking on your thighs with his poky paws, pulling used Kleenexes out of the pockets of yesterday’s pants and hates going for walks.

He is definitely the model for my latest dog character, a golden retriever named Molly in The Pickling Secret, though she is far better behaved.

What are you reading now?

I’ve started alternating reading non-fiction and fiction, which is a big change from when I was a kid and devoured all the novels I could.

I just finished The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, which I highly recommend. Now I’m reading The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, which is an enlightening look into the psychedelic subculture of the mid ‘60s.

What writing projects are you currently working on?

I’m just polishing up The Pickling Secret, a contemporary romance set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and have plans for another in that vein. I also have a regency romance and a sword-and-sorcery romance in various stages of progress. It’s an exciting/overwhelming time in my brain pan.

Did you have childhood pets? If so, tell us about them.

I have always had pets. My family kept picking up stray cats when I was a kid, and I’ve never been without a dog. I grew up with a Springer Spaniel, Duchess, then a miniature schnauzer, Jenny.

How do you use animals in your writing? Are they a character in their own right or just mentioned in passing?

Animals in my stories are always important. The way characters treat animals is a great way to learn about what kind of person that character is. Plus they create cute opportunities for characters to interact.

When did you know you were a writer? And how did you know?

I’ve been jotting down stories since I was a kid. When I was in high school, I completed my first novel, which was terrible, but it made me realize I could string a story together and make it into an actual book.

What do your pets do when you are writing?

My Finley likes to wriggle himself under the couch or wind himself up in the afghans. If I ever can’t find him, I just prod the heap of blankets and he’s usually there.

What’s the most unusual pet you’ve ever had?

My animals were all pretty tame; dogs, cats and fish. I also had a hamster when I was a kid. But my cousin, who lived next door to me, had emus, turkens and a horse, and I got to enjoy those without having to clean up after them.

What are two things you know now that you wish you knew when you started writing?

How to outline BEFORE starting to write. I was a pantser purely by incompetence and it made things a lot harder for me.

The first draft is allowed to suck. Just get those ideas down to create your framework and edit later.

Where is your favorite place to read (or write)? Why?

In our cozy attic, because between a work-from-home husband and a 5-year-old-daughter, it’s the only place in my house that’s quiet.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?

 Read resources on the elements of writing (but only 2-3; all the different methods and opinions can get overwhelming) and read as many books as you can. Being a good reader exposes you to vocabulary and plot devices that you can use as inspiration for your own works.

About N. L.:

N.L. LaFoille writes romantic women’s fiction and lives in Michigan with her husband, daughter, rat terrier and red worm colony.

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Twitter: Twitter.com/NLLaFoille

Facebook: Facebook.com/NLLaFoille

Personal blog: meetthegofamily.blogspot.com/

Writing blog: nllafoille.blogspot.com/

 

 

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Welcome, Author and Blogger, Julie Ryan!

Happy New Year! Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome author and book blogger, Julie Ryan to the blog as our first guest of the new year.

Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing.

I was born in a small mining village in South Yorkshire. Not venturing too far from home, I studied French Language and Literature at Hull University, where I also trained as a teacher. Then the wanderlust kicked in and I lived and worked in France, Poland, Thailand and Greece. I am a bookaholic with a one-click addiction much to my husband’s dismay as we are running out of space. I will probably need to live to be 197 in order to read all the books on my shelves. When not writing or reading, I love amateur dramatics and this year I get to play the Soothsayer in Robin Hood.

My Greek Island Mystery series includes Jenna’s Journey, Sophia’s Secret and Pandora’s Prophecy. Each can be read as a standalone. My latest book is Finding Rose, a story of three sisters, three time periods and three secrets.

Tell us about your pets. Are any of them models for pets in your writing?

At the moment we just have one cat, Smudgie, having lost our grumpy old man, Gizzie, over a year ago. Smudgie was a stray that my husband brought home from work. He was in a sorrowful state, covered in oil from the garage with an abscess on his neck. Now he is the most affectionate cat ever. His friendliness knows no bounds and one morning I woke up and looked out of the window to find him inside the pub opposite. He’d obviously stayed for a lock-in. There are always pets in my books, but none based on my own pets so far.

Tell us about any pets you have in your books/stories. Are any of them recurring characters? What are they and their names?

It wasn’t intentional, but I think there is a cat in most of the books I’ve written. All my books are standalones, so the pets aren’t recurring characters. In Jenna’s Journey there is a cat with catitude ironically called Mr. Tickles, in Sophia’s Secret there is a female cat called Elektra who is a bit of a diva, in Pandora’s Prophecy there is a puppy for a change called Pickles, and in Callie’s Christmas Countdown, Cleo the cat makes an appearance. My latest book, Finding Rose features a black furball called Blackie as well as a pet pig called Lady.

What are you reading now?

After reading a lot of Christmas books, I’m just about to get started on The Palace of Dreams by Charlotte Betts.

What writing projects are you currently working on?

I’m trying to write a new trilogy set in Greece, but I seem to be working on two books at the same time. My head is also buzzing with a possible sequel to Finding Rose.

Who is your favorite author and why?

I have far too many to choose just one ‘favourite,’ but I love everything written by Victoria Hislop.

Did you have childhood pets? If so, tell us about them.

We got our first cat, Lucky, when I was about ten. I adored that black and white scamp and my lifelong love of cats stems from that time. We also had a budgie but unfortunately, he came to a sad end.

What’s your favorite book or movie that had an animal as a central character? Why?

I was always a sensitive child and remember watching Lassie films where I would inevitably end up blubbling. I just can’t bear cruelty to animals, so I seem to remember being distraught when Lassie was kidnapped by some baddies.

When did you know you were a writer? And how did you know?

I don’t think you suddenly become a writer. In my case I have always loved writing. I used to scribble short stories and even wrote a play for my best friend and me to act out for our parents when we were kids. However, I never thought of myself as a writer. Even now, with five novels under my belt, it still feels strange to call myself a writer, but I guess if you write, then you’re a writer. I don’t think you have to have a mega publishing contract; you just need to have the confidence to believe in yourself. Incidentally, I only started writing novels in my fifties so there is hope for everyone.

What do your pets do when you are writing?

When I’m typing Smudgie likes to ‘help’ by lying across the keyboard. If I try to write in bed, he nudges my hand until I stroke him. I’m sure that without his help, my book would have been finished months ago!

What’s in your “To Be Read” (TBR) pile right now? And how many TBR piles do you have?

Reading is my number one passion apart from writing and I’m also a blogger. I’m in the     lovely position of writers and publishers sending me books to review. I manage to review about 100 books a year, but even I was shocked to discover I have nearly 2000 books on my Kindle aside from the physical books. It’s getting to the stage that I no longer have a TBR pile so much as a TBR room. It’s an addiction really as I can’t resist books no matter where I am. I do buy books too and at the top of my TBR list is Heroes by Stephen Fry – I’m really looking forward to that one.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?

Develop a thick skin and resilience. Unless you are incredibly talented and amazingly lucky, you will be rejected at some point. There are also trolls who will do their best to bring you down. Believe in yourself and be persistent. Don’t forget to enjoy the process though when you can, as to see your book in print is a feeling like no other.

About Julie:

Julie Ryan’s roots are in a small mining village in South Yorkshire. After a degree in French Language and Literature, wanderlust kicked in and she lived and worked in France, Poland, Thailand and Greece. Her spirit enriched, her imagination fired, Julie started a series of mystery romances; thrillers set in the Greek Isles.

A prolific and well-known book review blogger, Julie does her writing and reviewing from rural Gloucestershire, where she lives with her husband, son and rescue cat. She manages to write a book a year although without their help, she would probably write more quickly. She is a book addict and will soon need either a bigger house for her collection or a new husband!

When not writing or reading or eating chocolate, she can be found treading the boards in the local amateur dramatic society – Oh yes, she can!

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