Get to know Kim Rendfeld

Please join me in welcoming Kim Rendfeld this morning. I hope you enjoy getting ot know her as much as I have.

Kim RendfeldWhen did you first start writing?

I probably started storytelling by playing with my dolls. In middle school, I switched to drawing. Yet I’ve always enjoyed reading and fell in love with the Lord of the Rings series as an adolescent. I got the writing bug when I was in high school. I sketched stories for four fantasy novels and even typed up a fantasy on a typewriter I named Cecil.

What did you do with your earliest efforts? Did anyone read them? Did you still have them?

I remember telling my best friend about two of my stories and showed her some of my sketches and maybe some of what I typed, but my earliest efforts wound up in a desk drawer. Then I went off to college and thought of them only sometimes, intending to get back to them someday. I was distracted by college studies, then a career in journalism.

I don’t know what happened to those stories. They might be in a box in my barn or my mother’s basement. Continue reading

Get to know Elizabeth Marshall

This morning I am hosting Elizabeth Marshall.  I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.

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Thank you so much, Maria, for hosting me on your site and taking the time to do this interview. It is a great honour to be here.

  • When did you first start writing?

I’ve used the written word to create ‘fantasy worlds’ ever since I can remember, but it wasn’t until very recently that I decided to turn those creations into books.

  • What did you do with your earliest efforts? Did anyone read them? Did you still have them?

*Smiling*, those early efforts made their way into the bin well before anyone had the chance to read them.

  • What made you choose to write in the genres/time periods you write in?

A book my mother gave me when I was about fourteen called ‘Forever Amber’, by Kathleen Winsor, was responsible for my obsession with History and the telling of Historically based stories. An over-active imagination is responsible for the fantasy elements of my stories. Continue reading

Get to know Stephanie Hamm of Beyond Austen.com

Today I’d like to introduce Stephanie Hamm of the Jane Austen fan fiction site BeyondAusten.com. BeyondAusten is a lovely site where a number of authors, including myself, are currently posting stories.

When did you first discover Jane Austen or how did I get myself into this mess?

Robin, Stephanie, and Gayle

I first discovered Jane Austen in 2009.  My husband was deployed and I had many nights all to myself.  I started watching movies a lot having nothing else to do.  I came across Becoming Janeon Netflix’s watch instantly.  The movie fascinated me because it was based on a true person.  Her story was intriguing and led me to watching all the current Jane Austen adaptations.  I enjoyed the movies and decided to read Pride and Prejudice.  I’m not sure why I picked this novel to read out of all the ones she wrote -maybe because it was mentioned in You’ve Got Mail.    It seemed like it was the most popular of her books.  I wasn’t disappointed; of course I loved the book – and Darcy.

How did you discover fan fiction and what was your initial reaction or what made me think this was a good idea?

Shortly after reading P&P I was walking through Target’s book section and saw a book with the name Darcy on it.  I guess I was drawn to the name since I just immersed myself in the story for the previous weeks by watching the movies and reading the book.  At that point I had no idea there were sequels written.  I bought the book and went to the bookstore later to buy others.  One of the books I bought had the author’s website information so I visited the site.  From there I found links to the various JAFF sites.  By that point I was addicted to reading any and all stories that involved Darcy and Elizabeth.  After reading all the P&P stories I could find I moved on to Persuasion.  Now I think I’m just as addicted to Wentworth as I am Darcy.

At first when I discovered JAFF, I thought I was in wonderland – so many stories!!  It took me a few months to read most of the completed stories before I realized that there was such a thing as “works in progress.”  Then I discovered the real JAFF community, reading people’s comments, navigating through the forums, seeing that there are actually others that are just as addicted as I was.  It was like opening up a whole new world and an escape from reality when I needed it.

I’ve made a few online friends and even met quite a few in person.  Meeting fellow members face-to-face has probably been the best experience so far.  It was awesome to actually “see” them instead of just looking at their pictures online, to see their mannerisms and personalities to take shape.  Establishing these friendships and connections with others has been a blessing.  I’m very grateful for being part of such a unique community. Continue reading

Get to Know Maria Grazia founder of Fly High and My Jane Austen Book Club

 Please join me in Welcoming the fascinating (and busy) Maria Grazia to my site today. I hope you will enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.

What got you first started reading?

It was my sweet, unforgettable primary school teacher. I was 8 when she gave me a book as a gift for my first holy communion. It was Little Women. I started reading it and I discovered how exciting the journey into a book could be. I have  never really come back. I’m still on that journey. At that time my great granny used to call me back to reality and scolded me because I was always with my head in a book, now it can be sons or husbands. I can still get lost into a good book.

What was your first favorite book?

I  must repeat myself. It was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I fell in love with young Lawrence, dreamt of being Jo and, like her,  I started dreaming of becoming a writer one day. But as you know, I became a teacher like her and never wrote my novel. However,  I don’t really regret my choices and chances: I’m quite happy with my English literature classes and my blogs. Continue reading

Get to know Sarah Bower

Sarah BowerSarah Bower came by for a visit today. I hope you will enjoy meeting her as much as I have.

When did you first start writing?

I started writing quite literally when I began to write. I have a very early memory, from being about four, of being in the classroom, learning my letters and saying to myself, ‘Oh, so that’s how to organise the stories in my head!’

What did you do with your earliest efforts? Did anyone read them? Did you still have them?

One of my earlier efforts won a national short story prize when I was nine. I didn’t think I still had it, but, when my dad died and my sister and I were clearing out his study, we found a typed copy, which I think his secretary must have done for him. The original handwritten version was pinned up on my primary school wall for a while, but the building was knocked down and turned into an hotel years ago. I do still have my teenage attempts at novels, which are very purple! I tried to burn them once but my husband rescued them, so now they’re stacked up in a cupboard where I try to ignore them. Continue reading

Meet Stephanie Moore, founder of Layered Pages

I had the pleasure of visiting with Stephanie Moore, founder of Layered PagesBook Review Blog. I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.

What got you started reading?
Pretty much everyone in my family is an avid reader. So it must be in my blood. I’ve been reading as long as I can remember. When I read a story I become emotionally attached to the characters and their plight. Reading stories is an escape for me and a vacation of sorts, from reality.

What was your first favorite book?
Tough question! I’m one of those people who love so many-even as a child-it would be hard to choose. But, if I’m only to pick one, it would have to be, “Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.”

 What got you hooked on historical fiction?
I’ve always been drawn to the past as long as I can remember. Soon after I started to read the classics, I discovered the world of Historical fiction. I wanted to know about real people, their lives, the culture and what they experienced.

How did you make the transition from reader to reviewer?
Goodreads and the book club, Ladies & Literature I co-founded, have played a big role in that. But first, let me go a little further back. When I was younger I kept a journal about the stories and poems I read. I would write my thoughts and my favorite passages. At the time we didn’t have social media where we could share our thoughts. When I posted a review on goodreads two years ago an author approached me and asked if I would review her book and ever since I’ve been reviewing and love it! Continue reading

Get to know D.E. Meredith

D.E. Meredith joins me this morning. I hope you enjoy this intriguing interview as much as I did.

When did you first start writing?

I started writing a few years ago, almost by accident. I had just been on one of my endless runs (I live near an amazingly beautiful London park close to the River Thames), was between contracts and found myself reading copy of a diary called “The Malay Archipelago” written by  an intrepid Nineteenth Century Naturalist called Alfred Russel Wallace.

And it blew me away.

The diary describes an intrepid adventure through the jungles of Borneo  during the 1850s and is an amazing window into the mind and times of one of the world’s greatest Nineteenth Century naturalists .

Wallace was a scientific genius, overshadowed through history, by his far more famous contemporary, Charles Darwin. His diary with its ape hunts, beetle pinning and  taxidermy done on the hoof, set my imagination alight. I learnt what it meant to be a specimen collector in the 1850s, as  he travelled with his gun and his nets, into the remotest corners of the earth looking for birds, butterflies and beasts.

I started doodling initially on the back of envelope and felt there was a story here, a work of fiction.     I thought to myself,  if understanding flora and fauna was such a mind blowing experience for the Victorians (a bit like breaking the code for DNA  was for the C21st), then what about forensics?  What was happening with that, in the 1850s? And that let me to the dark world of what some readers have called “CSI meets The Victorians”  – the world of  my forensic “detectives”, Professor Adolphus Hatton and his morgue assistant, the doughty, Monsieur Albert  Roumande. Continue reading

Get to know Rosanne Lortz

I am so happy to welcome Rosanne Lortz this morning.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.

  • When did you first start writing?
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had one or two half-finished stories in the works. My favorite projects were re-writing fables and fairy tales. “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” was one that I was particularly proud of–it was renamed “The Ant Who Cried Wolf,” and I had changed the characters into ants, aphids, and ladybugs.
  • What did you do with your earliest efforts? Do you still have them?
Regrettably, all of my earliest stories have gone the way of lost laundry socks. The one thing I do still have is my poetry journal, which contains adaptations of familiar stanzas like “Roses are red, violets are blue….” I still look at it frequently, and read excerpts to my students when I’m teaching a poetry class. It’s part of my pep talk to get high schoolers not to be embarrassed about showing their poetic efforts. “Hey, if I’m sharing with you something this awful that I wrote, you don’t have to be embarrassed to share any of your poems with the class.”
  • What made you choose to write in the genre you write in?
It wasn’t until I went to college that I knew I wanted to write about history. My history professor, inspired me with a love of historical research and primary sources. During my senior year, I wrote a hundred page thesis entitled: The Life and Death of Saint Thomas Becket: Type of Paul, Type of Peter, Type of Christ. While my fellow classmates groaned and agonized over their theses, I found (to my surprise) that writing mine was a lot of fun! I savored my sources, raced through my writing, and even derived a mysterious satisfaction from formulating footnotes. Loving to write stories and loving historical research turns out to be a great combination for writing historical fiction. Continue reading

Get to know Cover Artist Rebecca Young

You’ve seen and admired her work, now get to know cover designer and graphic artist, Rebecca Young.

When did you first start designing? What were your earliest projects? What did you do with your earliest efforts? Did anyone read them? Did you still have them?

I have always been into art. In middle school I spent most of my freetime helping in the art room and took whatever art summer camps I could. I started working with graphic design at a camp in 6th grade but didn’t get really into it until my freshman year of college. My first project was a book I published on Lulu during high school of one of my best friends poems and stories. It was a christmas present and only was shown to our friends, but it made me realize that it was possible to design real books. After that I started working with the director at The Young Shakespeare Players(the theatre I am involved in) with getting his first book published. I mainly did formatting on that but it was how I learned about all the different ways to self-publish. I truly started my business this spring after many pushes from my wonderful mother(I should really learn to listen to her the first time she says things!) and started off working with some of the Austen Authors. Continue reading

Get to know M.M. Bennetts

I’d like to introduce my special guest this week M.M. Bennetts.

  • When did you first start writing?
Oh dear!  In school, when my teachers demanded it, and only then.
I started writing poetry when I was about thirteen or fourteen, and was a published poet by the time I was eighteen.  But I was first and foremost a pianist–my life consisted of Beethoven and Chopin from the time I was eight.
While I was working on my Masters at St. Andrews, I did start to write prose–that is to say ‘unassigned’ prose–and start to think ‘on the page’ about what it must have been like to live during the early 19th century, but that was chiefly because I was bored and had read all the historical fiction that they had in the local bookshops.
It wasn’t until later, when I was scheduled to compete in this rather significant piano competition, that I had to seriously consider what else I might do with myself if I were not to have a career in music.  I remember contemplating the required music–there was this piece by Schumann and I took a look and thought, “I’m not learning that!”  If you can imagine it, it was just pages and pages of black notes with very little white in between…I just thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”  So I pulled out.  It was a stupid and idle thing to think and do, particularly as I had all the rest of the competition pieces in my repertoire, but it’s what I did.
Then I knocked about for a bit, doing this and that, and finally a friend said, “Look, I think you should be reviewing books–nobody reads as much or as fast as you…”  He knew a book editor and got us together and it went from there… Continue reading