The wait is over…the news is…(continued)


Okay, in case you didn’t know (or read, or hear my squeals of delight), I signed a contract with J. Taylor Publishing for my short story, THE AMULET OF ORMISEZ to be featured in their MAKE BELIEVE anthology.  I am so excited.  Authors, Jennifer M. Eaton, Terri Rochenski, Kelly Said, Lynda R. Young, will also appear alongside headline author, J.A. Belfield.  Please pop over to their websites and congratulate them.  Entries were received from all over the world and I am thrilled to be one of the authors chosen.

So how did this all happen?

In January, 2012, J. Taylor posted a notice on their website they were accepting submissions until April 12 for their upcoming anthology, MAKE BELIEVE.  I chatted it up with friend and beta reader to find out if she was interested in entering anything.  The submission had to be based on a photo prompt J. Taylor provided, and they were pretty particular about what they didn’t want.  After staring at the picture for a bit, I remembered I had a story in a box under my bed I thought might work.  I decided what the heck and took on the challenge.

I pulled out the oldie but realized within a few days it wasn’t going to work.  I couldn’t make the story do what I needed it to do.  Back in the box it went.  Now what?  I stared at the writing prompt.  February went by, not a word written.  Sometime in March my brain kicked in and I couldn’t stop writing the story. The first half flowed so easily.  It was if Elton Fletcher chose me to tell his story…

Then I hit a road block.  How was I going to end it?  I had the characters.  I had the conflict, I knew what I needed to do to resolve it…but I couldn’t make the characters do it.  Even as I wrote the last half, it felt forced, unnatural, and my betas agreed with me…completely.

Two weeks before deadline and I finally come up with something.  I scribbled, revised, revised and scribbled and I submitted on April 4.  Within a day I received an e-mail from the publisher.  Would I be willing to make changes based on their suggestions?  I looked at what they wanted.  Yes.  I could do it.  I had less than a week.  Easy, right?

No.  My brain froze.  The clock was ticking.  The days were passing by and I couldn’t write.  I sat down with my MC, Elton, and had a talk.  Finally, after several days of back and forths with my betas, I put “The End” on it and re-submitted The Amulet of Ormisez in the wee hours of April 11.  And the waiting began again.

Several days later I received an e-mail from the publisher.  They wanted clarification on some issues.  Would I be willing to clarify?  They needed to know.  They had narrowed the field to eight.  They could only take five.  They needed an answer.  I said yes.  Once again, I had to play the waiting game.  I tried writing on my manuscripts to take the edge off, but I have to tell you, the waiting was agonizing!

But so worth it in the end.

The e-mail came with a huge “Congratulations!  You’ve been selected!”  I about fell out of my chair.  I still can’t believe it.  A publisher chose my work out of many to feature in their anthology.  It blows my mind.  My words.  My thoughts. My story.  Shared with the world.  It is such an honor.  Thank you, God. Thank you, family.  Thank you J. Taylor Publishing for the chance.

I have since had the opportunity to read blurbs for each one of the selected pieces and they are all fantastic!  I can’t wait to see it all come together.  I’ve also had the first peek at the cover and it’s amazing.  Come May 21, I’ll be able to share it with you so stay tuned.

The official press release for the MAKE BELIEVE anthology is below.  I still can’t believe my name is in there.  Wow.  Cheers to all you writers out there.  Here’s to the dream.  If I can do it, so can you. Don’t give up.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Make Believe Anthology authors revealed!

Five authors to be featured with J.A. Belfield in Make Believe Anthology from J. Taylor Publishing.

Apex, NC – March 9, 2012 – On December 3, 2012, J. Taylor Publishing will release Make Believe, an anthology of six short stories, ranging from contemporary romance to fantasy, written based on a photo prompt with a wintry setting and a woman in red.

“A photo prompt is one way to stir the imagination. As is evidenced by the six selected entries, each author brings a unique perspective, as well as to the twists and conflicts used to push the main characters one way or another,” says J. Taylor Publishing. “These difference, the broad range of ideas and writing style of each author determined their selection for the anthology.”

The anthology will open with Terri Rochenski’s Sacrificial Oath, a story of self sacrifice. J. Keller Ford’sThe Amulet of Ormisez will follow—a story of success in failure. From there, Birthright by Australian author Lynda R. Young will delve into secrets revealed. Kelly Said returns to this anthology withPetrified, taking the reader on a journey of finding one’s purpose. Last Winter Red by Jennifer M. Eaton finds us in a post-apocalyptic world where not all is as it seems. Rounding out the anthology is our headline author, J.A. Belfield, author of Darkness & Light and the to-be-released Blue Moon, withEscort to Insanity.

“While J.A. deviates from the Holloway Pack with her short story, her characters are just as engaging and full of the paranormal, and we’re excited to have a return anthology author as well. In choosing the stories, we looked for diversity, unique and intriguing stories and solid writing. In this set of authors, we found it,” says J.Taylor Publishing, adding, “In fact, the stories are as different as the authors themselves.”

About J. A. Belfield

One day, a character and scene popped into J. A. Belfield’s head, and she started controlling the little people inside her imagination as though she were the puppet master and they her toys. Questions arose: What would happen if …? How would they react if …? Who would they meet if …? Before she knew it, a singular scene had become an entire movie. The characters she controlled began to hold conversations. Their actions reflected the personalities she bestowed upon them. Within no time, they had a life, a lover, a foe, family … they had Become.

One day, she wrote down her thoughts. She’s yet to stop.

J. A. Belfield lives in Solihull, England, with her husband, two children, three cats, and a dog. She writes paranormal romance with a second love for urban fantasy.

About Jennifer M. Eaton

Corporate Team Leader by day, and Ranting Writer by night. Jennifer M. Eaton calls the East Coast of the USA home, where she lives with her husband, three energetic boys, and a pepped up poodle.

Jennifer hosts an informational blog “A Reference of Writing Rants for Writers (or Learn from My Mistakes)” aimed at helping all writers be the best they can be.

Beyond writing and motivating others, she also enjoys teaching her dog to jump through hoops—literally.

Jennifer’s perfect day includes long hikes in the woods, bicycling, swimming, snorkeling, and snuggling up by the fire with a great book; but her greatest joy is using her over-active imagination constructively … creating new worlds for everyone to enjoy.

About J. Keller Ford

J. Keller Ford is a quirky mother of four, grand-mother and scribbler of young adult fantasy tales. She has an insatiable appetite for magic, dragons, knights and faeries, and weaves at least one into every story she conceives. Her muse is a cranky old meadow gnome that follows her everywhere she goes and talks incessantly, feeding her ideas for stories 24/7.

When she’s not writing or blogging, the former Corporate Paralegal enjoys listening to smooth jazz, collecting seashells, swimming, bowling, riding roller coasters and reading. Jenny lives minutes from the beaches of the west coast of Florida with her husband of twenty years, her two sons and a pair of wacky cats and three silly dogs. The pets have trained her well.

About Terri Rochenski

Terri started writing stories in the 8th grade, when a little gnome whispered in her brain. Gundi’s Great Adventure never hit the best seller list, but it started a long love affair with the fantasy genre.

Today she enjoys an escape to Middle Earth during the rare ‘me’ moments her two young daughters allow. When not potty training or kissing boo-boos, she can be found on her back patio in the boondocks of New Hampshire, book or pencil in hand.

About Kelly Said

Kelly enjoys life near the foothills of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, in a city a mile closer to the sun than most. When she’s not hanging out with her Mr. S, binge reading on the weekends, or being pressed for playtime by the wet nose of her beefy bull terrier, she can be found tucked away in a quiet spot, huddled over her laptop, writing stories for young adults.

About Lynda R. Young

Lynda lives in Sydney, Australia, with her sweetheart of a husband who is her rock, and a cat who believes world domination starts in the home. Lynda has an adventurous spirit and has traveled the world.

As a chaser of dreams, she found success as a digital artist and an animator, and now as a writer of speculative short stories. She currently writes novels for young adults.

In her spare time she also dabbles in photography and all things creative.

The cover for Make Believe, and short summaries for each story, will release on May 21, 2012.

About the Publisher

J. Taylor Publishing is an Independent Publisher who, thanks to the Internet, has a worldwide reach. Our debut authors are in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The company produces print and electronic books. For more information about J. Taylor Publishing, please visit www.jtaylorpublishing.com.

Werewolves, human females, jealous husbands, oh my!


To my delight, one of my favorite debut authors, J. A. Belfield, agreed to take some time from her busy writing schedule for an interview.

J.A. Belfield is the author of the paranormal romance series, The Holloway Pack Story.  The debut novel, Darkness & Light was released July 1, 2011.

Hi, Julie.  Let’s start off by telling us a little bit about your book, Darkness & Light?

I’m going to try and keep my answers concise and sweet, so: Darkness & Light is a story of love, destiny, self-discovery—and werewolves.

I suppose your life has been a little upside down over the last several months.  Before we get into the nitty gritty of the novel, can you tell us how all of this came about?  I mean, this must be a life-long dream come true for you, right?  How did it all happen?

It’s definitely been upside down—but I’m happily taking an active role in the marketing of my book and that’s a real learning venture for me.

And as for ‘a lifelong dream come true’—I get asked this a lot (did you always want to be a writer, etc?), and I can honestly say I had no idea I wanted to do this before May 2009. If I had to pick a regret I have since I’ve started writing, it would be that I didn’t figure out sooner what my daydreaming soul was trying to tell me.

With regards to publishing? I would say ‘I got lucky’—but as I spent eighteen months prior to Darkness & Light’s acceptance submitting to every agent who fit the bill and every reputable publisher who’d accept unsolicited manuscripts, I think I’m not particularly any luckier than the next writer who strikes a deal. I managed to get my novel into the hands of an editor who liked it, and they contacted me to talk about my work and my plans for my career. From there, it was uphill.

So, tell us.  Why werewolves?  Why not faeries or elves or vampires?

I love everything they have to offer to a story. Lifelong mating. Strength. Enhanced senses. Loyalty. Animalistic characteristics. The fact there are always two sides to the same character—the restrained and the unrestrained. What’s not to love? They’re an awesome race to mould a story around.

What was the driving force behind this story?  Why did you feel you needed to tell it?

Totally cheesy answer: Sean made me do it. I get a lot of characters—new and ongoing—show up in scenarios in my mind. Sean’s presence was like a 60 foot giant in size 25 steel toe capped boots kicking any who dared take the limelight out of his way until I had no choice but to listen to what he had to say. Which is why—because I can be just as stubborn and refused to allow him to have everything his own way—I wrote the story from Jem’s perspective.

He did eventually get some stories told from his POV—Marked in the Into the Unknown anthology, and the Instinct novella—as a reward for his patience. 😉

Tell us a bit about the Holloway clan.  Who are they?  What makes them tick?  Something else we can find out about them that is not on your website.

Oldest to youngest>> Nathan Holloway: Pack Alpha. He will do whatever it takes to keep his family (including the pack) safe. He misses his wife. Connor Larsen: A heartbroken male, but his natural laid back and light-hearted attitude never reveals this. He’s too busy being a father and being loyal to his Alpha-and-best-friend to allow his true emotions airtime. Ethan Holloway: Finds himself amusing—often more so than others do—yet would go to the ends of the earth to protect that which he holds dear. You would definitely want this physically powerful wolf watching your back in a fight. Kyle Larsen: Having grown up with Ethan and spending way too much time with him, he has developed a little wit of his own—except he’s slightly more charming and less awkward around females than his closest pack brother. Sean Holloway: He’s an open book. What you see in Darkness & Light is what you get. I’m not saying it’s always been that way, though—to discover just how much Jem has changed Sean, you’d have to check out Instinct (due for release January 2012). Daniel Larsen: Playful yet fierce, his youthfulness shows in his personality. Josh Larsen: Considered the baby of the pack—by readers as well as his pack brothers. Possibly thanks to losing his mother at the age of thirteen, he’s vulnerable and naïve—yet he also fights with deep ferocity when territorial defense is required.

It is said that authors tend to bring in pieces of their personal lives into their characters.  Tell us a little bit about Jem, and where did you derive the foundation for her character?

If I told you I don’t know, she just kind of spilled across the page, would you believe me? The biggest part of me you’ll find in Jem is the kinds of relationships she builds—with her best friend (Poppy), with her sister (Jess), whose relationships match those of mine with my best friend and sister—and how she interacts with the other pack members is very much how I’ve spent my entire life around my husband’s friends.

There is a lot of steamy passion in Darkness & Light.  Were those scenes of passion difficult to write?  Did you ever find yourself blushing or wondering if you were ‘doing it right?’

You referring to the shower cubicle scene with the steaminess comment? 😉

I consider them more sensual than steamy. Romantic and soul reflecting as opposed to anything erotic. I do find an intimate scene can take me a few days to get to the point where I’m happy with it, but I rarely worry whether or not I’m doing it right, I just do it—and I never blush. However, I will admit—because Darkness & Light 1st draft was written when I’d only been writing for around 7 weeks—that the initial intimate scene between Jem and Sean was only a fraction of the size it is now. After acquiring a beta reader/critiquer for the novel (who went on to become my much treasured writer buddy), I followed advice and made it bigger and ‘deeper’—and it grew to almost four times its original size. I’ve had great responses for the scene as it stands now.

This is the first of a series.  When you started writing the novel, did you have the whole story planned out or does the story unfold for you as you are writing it?

Not so much a series, Jen, because each story is complete and can be read as a stand-alone. Darkness & Light set that ball in motion, because I had no idea when I started it that I would still be writing about the characters now—I’m still not quite ready to nudge them aside. Did I have the whole story planned out? Um … no. I’m a total pantser. I begin with an idea—a scene/a character, etc—and I jot that down. Once that’s jotted down, I’ll write the next bit. That’s all I do. Take it one scene at a time, one chapter at a time, and I always allow my muse to take the reins. Sometimes, my chapters surprise the heck out of me because they end up going in directions even I didn’t anticipate. Besides, I have to allow all the arcs to formulate on their own because my initial ideas are way too simple and straightforward that the novel would be complete at 40k.

Does creating a story like this require a lot of planning and research or is just a matter of using your imagination and writing down whatever you come up with?

I don’t plan. I just write. When I hit a place where I believe I need accuracy and it’s something I don’t already know or I can’t nag Mr B about, then I’ll go look it up. I didn’t research werewolves because I already had a strong opinion of how mine would be and was happy enough to go with that. I do, however, quite anally research the tiniest of things—like what ointment would best treat bruising, or which is the best ‘thing’ to send a person into unconsciousness (note the obscurity of those—hehe), and I once researched rapeseed for a novella because I wanted my character to walk through a field rife with it. But that’s about as far as my research goes. I do have a future story in the pipelines, though, that will require some major geographical research—usually, I fabricate places that work for my setting.

Skillfully developing a romance between two characters in a book seems like it can be tricky. How do you go about doing this so successfully?

I guess it’s the old method that a lot of romance writers follow. Man’s attracted to woman. Woman’s attracted to man. Now toss in a load of obstacles they have to mount and overcome before they can live happily ever after. However, I do believe the interactions and dialogue go a long way to making it successful and believable—I go to great lengths to ensure my dialogue sounds as natural as possible.

What aspects of writing a book do you find the most challenging and which are the most satisfying?

Switching off my inner editor so I can just toss out those words is the hardest thing for me to overcome, because I constantly mentally nag at myself about every word choice when I should be saving the pedantic stuff for the edits or rewrite. The most satisfying is completing each scene and being content enough to move onto the next, and falling in love with my characters and who they are becoming or are.

Do you find that the media you are exposed to, such as books, movies and TV, during the period that you are working on a book influences the book that you are writing?

Not really. If I’m going to read a werewolf novel whilst I’m writing a werewolf novel, I make sure I choose one in which the werewolf concept in no way reflects my own. Or do you mean writing styles? Because the answer would be no for that, too. It takes a little while for a new writer to discover their voice—the one they slip into like the oldest most battered clothing no one but the wearer should ever see—and once they’ve found it, it tends to be pretty consistent throughout their work.

So was there anything specific that influenced you while you were writing Darkness & Light?

I’d have to leave the house and interact with others to be influenced, right? Hehehehe. The entire story spilled from my brain to my fingertips in such a rush my appendages could barely keep up—I barely even read others’ novels during the period. 1st draft Darkness & Light was written (161k) in 6 weeks. I began at 9am (as soon as my kids were in school), and apart from breaks for fuel and school runs, I continued on until midnight—sometimes later—pretty much every night of the week. What can I say? Mr B has a lot of patience.

What books are you currently reading?

Yesterday I finished Dark Lover by J.R Ward. I’m now around halfway through Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning. I also have Patricia Briggs’ River Marked on the go and have just ordered Lover Eternal—the next Black Dagger Brotherhood to follow Dark Lover.

Other than Jem and Sean, who is your favorite literary romantic couple?

This is a toughie because some of the couples I love reading about aren’t in romance. My ultimate favourite couple are in a novel that is yet to be published (I love the male character)—although I’m seriously hoping the author signs to launch it next year. Other than that, I’d have to go for Roarke and Eve Dallas in the In Death series by J.D. Robb.

Thanks so much Julie for taking the time to do this interview with us.

For more information about J.A. Belfield and her other projects, stop off at her website and take a look.