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Break Out the Bubbly & Dark Chocolate–Celebrating Amy Atwell’s Debut Novel LYING EYES! November 15, 2010

I’m very happy and excited to open up a bottle of my best champagne for my fearless GIAM (Goal in a Month) leader Amy Atwell. Amy is an inspiration to me as a mentor, writer, and friend. We’re celebrating her debut novel, Lying Eyes, which releases today! 
Pop! Pouring bubbly and breaking out the dark chocolate.

Hi Amy, welcome to the veranda. 
Thanks for inviting me to join you and meet your readers, Christine.  The verandah, by the way, is lovely.
How did you end up becoming a writer?

A rather circuitous path. I wrote throughout my childhood and adolescence.  Poems, songs, short stories.  I was fascinated with dialogue and comedic timing on television and would scribble notes while I watched shows.  In high school, I joined the drama club—and no, it was not nearly as cool as Glee, although it was a lot of fun.  But that led to studying theater and Shakespeare and then years of working in regional and community theaters. Play scripts and the stories in them were my love, and one day I realized that what I really wanted to do was write.  I quit the theater and got a job and started writing my story ideas in my free time. Back then, it hadn’t occurred to me to try to make a career of it.

What is your favorite genre to write?
No fair!  I love all the genres I write.  I started writing Regency period historicals because that’s what I read for years and years. Then I had a crazy notion to write a romance about the theater scene in New York.  Then I moved to Chicago, so I wrote about Chicago. Then even though I know next to nothing about medievals, I wrote a medieval romantic suspense.  And then Cosmo knocked on my door, and I wrote Lying Eyes.

I’m intrigued already. Can’t wait to meet Cosmo. Are you a plotter or do you follow the muse?

I see characters and scenes in my head.  Maybe because of all the years in theater, I hear dialogue very clearly.  So, I generally let the muse run free for much of the first draft.  Then I roll up my sleeves for some plotting analysis.  Lying Eyes was different because I had editors waiting to see that story.  Most of the material in that story—except the opening 30-40 pages—is close to first draft.  I plotted a few chapters ahead as I wrote and prayed my critique partners would help me clean up the mess if I derailed the story.  They kept telling me it was fine.  My editor agreed.
How do you relax after a writing day?
Don’t laugh. I run an online writing community, and I have a lot of little tasks that make me feel like I accomplished something. I like to check things off lists, so these little tasks make me feel successful and relaxed.  Oh, and I can do most of them over a cup of coffee (morning) or wine (night).  I’ve also been known to turn off the computer AND the phone for Mad Men, Dr. Who, The Office and 30 Rock.
As a member of your community, I can say it’s a great way to unwind. The *cyber support* is balm to a writer’s soul. 

What do you read? What are your favorite genres? And your favorite authors?
I read anything that has a story that captures my famous.  I love romance and women’s fiction, but I also enjoy a good mystery or thriller. And I find I’m peeking at some YA stories to see what all the hype is about.  Favorite authors?  Jenny Crusie, Madeline Hunter, Jane Austen, Jean Auel, Tom Clancy, Dorothy L. Sayers, Dick Francis, Georgette Heyer, Elswyth Thane (I’m dating myself with those last five).  A new author who stunned me with her work is Therese Walsh.
What is your current project? What can we look forward to reading next?
I’m currently working on the sequel to Lying Eyes. This one is Cheating Hearts and features another of Cosmo’s daughters.  Of course, I also have a mainstream historical set during the Wars of the Roses calling me. And then there’s this pesky pair of characters out in San Francisco who have the beginnings of a great suspense story I’m jotting down. 
You have a lot of ideas and stories floating in your head. Fabulous! I can’t wait to meet Cosmo’s next daughter. What is the most difficult part about writing for you? 
Oddly enough, the hardest part for me is focusing and getting started on one story.  Once I’m into a story, I’m all there.  But if I’m multi-tasking life or additional stories, it can be a bear to get me to sit down and write.  (And I can name a dozen people who will read this and agree.)

I completely understand how multi-tasking zaps focus. 

Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
Everywhere.  Honestly, I trip over ideas.  I have a lengthy list of them on my computer.  For Lying Eyes, the title came when I was listening to Eagles’ song on the radio one day.  Liked the title, realized that “lying” would be an important factor. More than that, I wanted everything in the story to be a lie of some form or another.  That’s when Cosmo Fortune, my heroine’s father, popped up and announced he was a magician.  A master of illusion.  Then I made my heroine not just a jeweler but a costume jeweler. I just keep piecing things together that work. What doesn’t work, I toss.  
Cutting ideas is part of the creative process. *sipping my bubbly* Ah, but it is necessary for writers to learn. 

How long were you trying to get published before you got the “call?”
Ten years, give or take.  I took a couple writing breaks.  I had a big corporate job transfer that stalled my writing for over a year. Then my mother died suddenly in 2005. About nine months after her death I stopped writing for nearly 18 months. I stayed connected with my writing friends through WritingGIAM and when I returned to writing, I came back determined.  Still, it took nearly two years to sell Lying Eyes. When we first marketed it, Carina Press didn’t yet exist. In publishing, part of the equation is timing.
Amy, I am sorry you lost your mother. *hugs* But I’m very glad you returned to your writing with the determination to get published because now we get to read your stories. 

What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Write. Write what’s in your heart. Study. Study the market, but don’t it let completely change those stories of your heart. The market is always changing. Your stories are you and no one but you can tell them. Share them with the world.
Oh, and find a support network. It may be local, it may be online. But connect with other writers. Writing is a very solitary endeavor, but that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone.  I would have given up writing if it weren’t for GIAM.
What encouragement can you give writers who face rejection?
Let me be your poster child!  I swear, I’ve been rejected by top editors and agents. I’ve received painful comments about my work from industry professionals and contest judges.  If you’re familiar with Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart® contest, I had one entry that received a “9” (their highest scores) and a “1” (their lowest score). 
Reading is Subjective.  Repeat that. Not every reader will love your work, but in publishing it often takes only one person to get behind you to turn the tide.  A rejection is nothing more than a single person’s opinion of a specific submission on a given day. 
Thanks so much for having me, Christine!  I’d love to offer up a digital copy of Lying Eyes to one of your readers. 

I’m so glad you joined me on the veranda. Thank you for offering a digital copy of Lying Eyes to one of my readers. I can’t wait to see who gets their name pulled from this week! Congratulations on your release!!  
Amy Atwell worked in professional theater for 15 years before turning from the stage to the page to write fiction. She now gives her imagination free rein in both contemporary and historical stories that combine adventure and romance. An Ohio native, Amy has lived all across the country and now resides on a barrier island in Florida with her husband and two Russian Blues. Find Amy online at her website, What’s the Story? blog, Facebook, Twitter and GoodReads.
Lying Eyes is available from Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online booksellers.

9 Responses to “Break Out the Bubbly & Dark Chocolate–Celebrating Amy Atwell’s Debut Novel LYING EYES!”

  1. Congrats to Amy! It's encouraging hearing the stories! And thanks for commenting Christine!

  2. Christine Says:

    I enjoyed your blog Laura. I just wish I knew how to utilize tweetdeck. I'll have to ask my tech guru friend how to maximize the deck's potential. And I am so excited for Amy. She is truly an inspiration. She deserves this day!:-)

  3. Amy Atwell Says:

    Thanks for stopping by Laura! Getting published is like running a marathon–you just have to keep training at it. You never know when that magical moment will suddenly bring the offer you've been waiting for!

  4. Amy Atwell Says:

    Christine, The pleasure was mine. Thanks for the interview. I'm not sure how my running around like mad these last few weeks could inspire anyone, but so be it! LOL Glad I can help!

  5. Christine Says:

    Hi Amy: I enjoyed the interview and celebrating your debut novel launch. Yes, even your running around like mad inspired me because now I know what to look forward to when I am published.*pop* and a *sip* of champagne.:-)

  6. Great interview, Christine. Amy, you're an inspiration. I hope your book is a knockout success! Thanks for sharing your story.

  7. Christine Says:

    Gwen: I'm so glad you enjoyed getting to know Amy during our celebration of her debut release. 🙂

  8. Amy Atwell Says:

    Wanted to swing back by here this morning and give a special hug and thanks to Christine for hosting me! You're the best, girlfriend!

  9. Christine Says:

    You are so going to rock the publishing world with your books. I am excited for you, Amy. It was my pleasure to host you 🙂

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