Monday, August 13, 2012

Author, author... all about it !

Today we have
Sinead MacDughlas

Welcome Sinead, so great to have you here with us.  Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I always have trouble with this one, so bear with me. I’m a born-and-raised Canadian, so US and UK readers might find my spelling and grammar a little odd. We have this strange mix of both types of English.

I’m creeping up on 42 years of age, happily married the second time around, and a mom to two toddlers, three and four years old. No one ever sees photos of my little ones, because I’m overprotective online. Lol.

I like to dabble in a lot of crafty things, but writing is my first and greatest love. I like to tell people that I bleed words and breathe music, (but I’m a horrible singer). I have a weird sense of humour, (there’s that Canadian spelling), and I babble when I’m nervous.

Do real life events find their way into your stories?

Oh, absolutely! They aren’t always events in my life, though. Sometimes they’re events I’ve heard about second and third-hand, and my imagination has embellished them. However, in “Learn To Love Me”, the scene where Emily first meets Alex comes straight out of my life. I’ve twisted it slightly, of course. In real life, ‘Alex’ and I were both extremely embarrassed by the whole thing, but over time we became dear friends.

I asked his permission to include the scene in the book and, thank goodness, he agreed, wholeheartedly. We still laugh about it, often.

Do you ever mimic family members or people you know when you choose characters?

I don’t mimic people exactly, but I often borrow traits from people I know. A character may use a friend’s favourite phrase in dialogue, often.  I might ‘borrow’ the way they suck the air out of their teeth, or wink whenever they say something sarcastic, to let people know they’re joking. Most of my characters are a compilation of several people I’ve met. Sometimes, I observe people I’ve never met, though, trying to guess their story. I get some great characters with that exercise.

Do you find yourself going back to the same inspiration for each story or is it always something different?

Questions, music and emotional experience are my main sources of inspiration. The questions, when I remember to write them down are the odd things I think, like, “Why does ‘I’m sorry’ become more reflex than sincerity, for some people?” The questions are always different.

I do tend to fall back on familiar songs, when I’m looking for a certain atmosphere for a character. They’re songs that help me remember the personal emotional experiences that I can use to fuel the character in a scene. Each character ends up with their own playlist by the time I’m done. Emily, in “Learn To Love Me” swayed back and forth between Sarah McLachlan songs and Disturbed, a lot.

When do you write?  Early morning? During the day sometime or all day?  After the kids go to bed?

I really can’t write until the children, hubby and cat are all sleeping. Most of my writing happens between ten o’clock at night and two o’clock in the morning. The daytime is for playtime with the kiddies, social networking and promotions. Evening is the children’s bedtime ritual, including stories and songs, and then a few minutes with my husband. The night is when I can focus on creating.

How do you feel about marketing your book?

I sometimes feel a bit like a hawker at the fair, asking people to buy my book, or review it, so others will buy it. I really love connecting with the readers, though, and hearing their feedback, so it’s a necessary part of the process for me. If I don’t market, I won’t have readers to connect with.

What social sites do you feel work best for marketing?

Right now, I tend to use Facebook the most. I’m still learning how to use Google + and Goodreads. Twitter tweets scroll by so fast, it’s hard to get a conversation started with more than one person. With Facebook, it’s much simpler to really engage with the friends and fans I have. Perhaps Google +, being more like FB than Twitter, will take over one day. First, I’d have to learn more about it, but that would cut into my writing time. I’m not ready to make that sacrifice just yet.

Do you like to pitch stories to your publisher or do you wait until you have written the story and have a final manuscript to turn in?

Although I like the idea of pre-approval on a concept, I really prefer to have the finished manuscript before I approach my publisher directly with it. Pitching would require that I know the story, start to finish, before I begin writing. Though I don’t object to outlining, I’d rather keep it flexible.

Is there any other genre that you would love to try writing?  If so, what is it?

With two toddlers in the house, I’d love to take a shot at a children’s book!

Do you always/ever see yourself as the heroine/hero when you write a story?

I wouldn’t say that I see myself as the main character, rather I become each of the characters when I write. I enjoy writing in the first person, because that’s what feels the most immersive for me.  I like to step into the role of each character, even the ‘bad guy’. Nearly every character has a touch of me, because I bring my own perspective to each of them in some way, but none of them is truly me.

Just for fun, I have a few personal questions, 

Favorite 5
1)  Favorite Male Actor  - Hugh Jackman
2) Favorite vehicle - Triple-black '69 Chevelle SS 396
3) Favorite way to relax - Reading
4) Favorite ice cream – Mint Chocolate Chip
5) Favorite outfit – A loose summer dress

And for a bonus:  If you could pick any place in the world to live, besides where you are now, where would it be?  (Of course, without the hindrance of jobs or money needed)

Oooh, that’s a tough one. A hobby-farm between Bracebridge and Hunstville, Ontario. Lol. That’s cheating a bit, I know, but I really love my home province. As much as I’d like to see the world, home would still be here, just farther north.

Where can our readers find you?? 
Amazon author page:

Google +:

Is there an upcoming or current release you would like to share with us today and where can we find it?

“Learn To Love Me” is my debut novel, and it release three days ago! It’s a comtemporary crime fiction novel and I think the blurb gives a good idea of the story.

Despite her secret past, Emily O’Shea was finally living a normal life. There had been some arguments with her husband, Trevor, lately, but no marriage is perfect. At least the column she writes for the local paper is going well…that is, until one of her interviewees goes missing, and a monster from her past resurfaces.

Within a week Emily’s life spins into chaos. Missing girls, a telephone stalker, murder, a monster, and an intense ex-lover; it’s turning out to be one hell of a summer!

Her husband is acting erratically, her boss is threatening to pull her column, and the police suspect she’s the muse for a murderer. Can Emily save her marriage, her job, her life and her sanity? More importantly, are her darkest fears justified? Does Emily already know who the killer is and, if she does; can she do anything to stop them?”

You can find “Learn To Love Me” in Kindle or Paperback, in the Crushing Hearts & Black Butterfly Kindle Store

*Last thing before we let you leave us today, do you have a favorite recipe you'd like to share?  I like to cook and am always looking for new recipes to try and share but it's totally up to you.

Oh, I love to share recipes! I’ll give you an entrée AND a dessert!

First the Entrée, or I should say Side-dish
Easy Cheesy Mushroom Rice

I can of Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
½ cup milk
1 cup water
I tbsp. dried onion (or ¼ onion finely chopped)
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. dried parsley
½ tsp. powdered garlic (NOT garlic salt)
½ tsp. celery salt
1 tsp. black pepper
3 heaping tbsp. cream cheese or cheese whiz (or both if you really like cheese)
Instant Rice
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese (or ½ cup if you really like cheese)

This one is really simple
Put the soup, milk, water, spices and cream cheese/cheese whiz, into a large sauce pot. (I like to grind the spices fine, with a pestle, first). Whisk the ingredients together and heat on med/high until the soup begins a rolling boil. (Continue whisking to prevent burning and blend the ingredients thoroughly. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in instant rice until the mixture resembles really runny oatmeal. Cover and let stand, off of the heat, for 10 minutes. Add the parmesan cheese and mix thoroughly. Serve.

This is a favourite of mine. It will easily serve 6 people with plenty of leftovers. If you want to make it a complete meal, add cooked ground beef, chicken, turkey or pork, and serve with a vegetable. I also like to add diced fresh mushrooms to the pot before I start cooking the soup, when I have them on hand.

Now for the dessert, and another favourite of mine.
Simple Stovetop Cheesecake

You’ll need:
One graham cracker pie crust, pre-baked
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 eggs
1 egg white
1 pkg. light cream cheese
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ tsp. salt
1/3 cup 1% or 2% milk
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Pie filling, fresh fruit or chocolate for topping.

Note: It’s important to pre-measure all of the ingredients for this recipe, and you want to make this at least two hours before you plan to serve it.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, eggs and egg white.
In a med. sauce pot, cut the cream cheese into cubes or slices and melt over low heat.
When the cheese is all softened (starting to bubble), add the sugar, salt, milk and nutmeg and whisk.
Increase the heat to med.-high.
Whisking continuously pour in the lemon/egg and whisk more slowly until the mixture begins to part behind the whisk.
Remove the pot from the heat and immediately pour the mixture into the graham cracker crust.
Let the mixture stand for one hour at room temperature and then top with your preferred topping. (I like to use half a can fruit pie filling and some fresh fruit, or for a lighter dessert, cool whip light and fresh fruit.)
Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Thank you, so much, for having me on your blog Krista! I really enjoyed the interview!

Sinead, thank you for being withus, it was so fun getting to know you and oooh those recipes are sounding very delicious.  I'm also very anxious to read Learn to Love Me and for my readers, I highly recommend you grab your copy as soon as possible!!
Here is the link again, just in case you need them.

Learn to Love me

Sinead MacDoghlas
Until next time, happy reading!!



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