Down the Aisle with Bridezilla

bridezilla

Dealing with four demanding clients, Megan Waters thought her job as a wedding planner would involve romance and eternal bliss. Instead her profession has been causing drama, outrageousness, and has made Megan reach for the aspirin bottle in her top drawer more than once. 

In Carli Palmer’s debut novel, the term Bridezilla lives up to its moniker. Follow the crazy journey in one determined woman’s life, where what should be a time to celebrate, ends up being her worst nightmare!

Interviewer: Christy Campbell

**********

First things first, tell us about Down the Aisle with Bridezilla. Such an interesting title!

Thanks!  This book is about a wedding planner named Megan Waters who resides in Malibu.  Along with a friend from college she forms a wedding planning company catering to rich clients- aka the bridezilla.  The story is about how she keeps her head straight while pleasing to all their demands.  And their demands are outlandishly ridiculous!

Give us an insight into your main character.  What does she do that is so intriguing

I don’t consider Megan Waters special.  I wanted her to be relatable to readers. To me that meant making her as ordinary as possible.  With the same goals as other gals – love, some good luck, and a good life.

How did the idea come about for this storyline?

For this book I got the idea from a TV show called Bridezillas which doesn’t run anymore.  I remember thinking that I never read a novel from the wedding planner’s point of view.  It’s always about the bride.  By seeing the story unfold through Megan’s (the wedding planner) eyes we see how crazy these brides really get.

How much research did you do for this novel? Better put, is there anyone you based this novel on, names withheld, of course.

Tons.  This book was my first true attempt at a full-fledged novel so I figured it would be more believable if I had an idea of what the wedding business was about.  My research was solely the Internet and personal experience.  I scoured tons of sites to find out what the going trend was, then I blew it out of proportion to fit the book.  My brides are anything but plain and ordinary.  But it’s not based on anyone I know, that’s where my imagination came in.

What does your writing process involve; any steps you like to take specifically?

It’s really all over the place.  Sometimes I’ll do my research first, other times I might just dive into the writing.  It varies on what my mood is.  If I have a scene in my head that I don’t want to lose track of I’ll write it out right there and then and then go back to fill in the facts and details.  I still do write the first draft with pen and paper.  Then I type it out.  It’s what I grew up with and helps me think out the story more.  Plus there is something soothing to me to actually writing it down first.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

I am definitely a planner.  I start with the initial idea.  Then I work on the characters, locations, and then a book outline and last but not least I outline each chapter.  I love working with pictures.  So tons of magazine photos end up in my files after the book is done.  If I’m describing a dress or a bouquet, chances are I have a picture somewhere that sparked the initial concept.

If/when you get hit with that inevitable writer’s block, how do you overcome it? 

Ugh!!  I consider it losing my mojo.  It’s like an ocean wave for me.  When the wave comes in, I write like crazy because I am in the zone.  When the wave is out, my thoughts don’t connect and I hate everything I’m writing. To get out of it I’ll usually jump to another project I’m working on.  Right now I’m working on my second book due out next year hopefully and an idea I have for two book series and also a screenplay.  So there’s a lot to keep me busy.

Putting together that first book is a long process for most that involves so much. How long did it take you to write Bridezilla?

It was on and off for seven years.  In that time I was finishing up college and working full time so all my writing was done in my free time.  If I had nothing to do besides writing, then I’m thinking I could have had it done within a year.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The ending.  At first I didn’t know how to end it.  I wanted Megan’s story to go on and on.  I get that way about TV shows too – thinking why did the network have to end that series?  Life goes on I guess.

Was there any particular areas of your manuscript you found the most difficult to write?

 Grammar always is an issue for me.  I was never an English major, just a sociology major so that’s why I have an editor. LOL.

You chose to go the indie route. What would you say are the main advantages and
disadvantages of self-publishing?

 Self-publishing allows the no-name writer like me to tell a story.  I’ve read books from authors who wouldn’t have gotten the time of day from a publishing house.  And they were fantastic books. A big disadvantage of self-publishing that I’m just finding out is the marketing.  You have to do it all yourself and it’s a learning road with a lot of roots sticking out of the ground.

Choosing names for our characters can be easy or tough, based on the personalities we create. How relevant are the names of the characters in your books? 

I definitely think about the name for a while.  I really do think it makes a difference. Think about it – would we think of Scarlett O’Hara in the same way if she was called Jane?  Megan was a down to earth name pertaining to the fact that I wanted her to be ordinary so I couldn’t name her something like Jasmine or Cleo – or anything with finesse to it.  I actually have a few lists of names that are about 30 pages long – for male, female, and last names.  I go through them when I’m creating a new character and whatever hits me, I pick.

Is there a famous person, living or dead, who inspires you?

Too many to count.  If I had to pick right this moment I would say it’s a three way tie right now between Kate White (author), Cleo Coyle (author), and Stephen J. Cannell (writer/producer).  Kate White writes a mystery series that I have read over and over about twelve times.  Cleo Coyle also writes a mystery series that takes place in a coffeehouse.  Both are still alive. Stephen J. Cannell created over 40 TV shows including 21 Jump Street, The A-Team, and Baretta.  He passed away in 2010.  If you ever watched his shows, he was the guy in the end sitting at a typewriter and throwing a sheet of paper into the air.

If you were given the opportunity to spend some time with him or her, just what kind of day would you plan?

I would sit with them at an all day writing session.  Coffee, food, talking, and coming up with a great crime drama/suspense mystery.  Kate would supply the suspense, Cleo would supply the details, Stephen would supply the drama, and I would supply the characters.  All this taking place on a balcony overlooking Los Angeles somewhere where we could listen to the sounds of the streets.

It’s always fun to visualize our books on the big screen. If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaption of your book, who would play your characters?

 I could see Megan Waters as an unknown actress and the brides all being established actresses.  For some reason I can see Cameron Diaz playing a bride.  She can do a nasty side pretty well.

Time to humbly advertise. Are there any social network or websites where readers can learn more?

Right now you can find me on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23510939-down-the-aisle-with-bridezilla

LibraryThing: http://www.librarything.com/author/palmercarli

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Down-Aisle-Bridezilla-Carli-Palmer/dp/150259711X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1417735501&sr=1-1&keywords=carli+palmer

And readers can always e-mail me at: cpalm8486@yahoo.com

 

Advertisements

A Conversation with Carol McKibben

Carol McKibben

I’m so pleased to introduce my latest interviewee, Carol McKibben, author of Riding Through It, Luke’s Tale, and the newly released, Snow Blood. As an avid advocate for animals, and a special love for dogs, Carol’s latest books are written from the dog’s POV. Weaving tales of unconditional love, commitment, and the bonds that form our closest relationships, Carol reminds us of the valuable lessons we can all learn from the animals who share our lives. With 30+ years of experience in publishing, marketing, public relations, business management, education, and project management, Carol also brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her writing. Join me in welcoming Carol McKibben!

Interviewer: Debbie McClure

**********

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Q: Who has been the greatest mentor in your life on a personal or business level and why?

A: It’s impossible for me to just pick one. I’ve had so many. My daddy, brother and husband Mark have all had equal parts of encouraging me to be independent, strong and true to myself. But, three others particularly stick out in my mind. The first was G. Glenn Cliff. He was the editor of the Kentucky Historical Society and one of my early bosses. He encouraged my writing talent and pushed me to go back to college and complete my education. The second was another boss, a dean at Rollins College. He encouraged me to get my Master’s Degree. The third is my publisher, Stephanie at Troll River Publications. She has encouraged and supported my writing for years. The loveliest part of that relationship is that she also happens to be my daughter. And while we’re on that topic – she’s my harshest critic. So, when she finally likes something I write, I know I’m in good shape!

Q: Dogs and humans have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship for eons, which is seldom replicated between other species. What would you say dogs and people give each other, and why has this bond held true for so long?

A: The reason the bond has held true for so long is that dogs give humans unconditional love as only a dog can. No other human will love you, no matter your mood, your circumstances or the amount of attention you pay to them like dogs will. All dogs are descended from wolves. Man gave wolves food and warmth, and they evolved to be our companions and give us what we needed in return – unconditional love.

Q: You obviously have an interest in the paranormal, as evidenced in your last book, Snow Blood, about a vampire dog. Have you ever experienced anything of a paranormal nature in your own life, and if so, what was it?

A: I haven’t personally had a paranormal experience, but I have observed them in my family. Both my mother and my daughter are what I call “sensitives.” They are open to things that others can’t see. When my brother was thrown from a horse, he was unconscious for three weeks. My mother never left his side until my father forced her to go home and refresh herself. As she stretched across the bed, she felt a weight next to her and a hand touching her forehead. She looked up into her father’s blue eyes and his voice telling her that everything would be all right. Her father had passed away one month before my brother was born! At that moment, my father called to tell her that my brother was out of the coma. Years later, when my brother was in a car accident, I was sitting next to my mother who kept rubbing her leg, saying that she was in pain. When the phone rang to tell her that my brother had been in an accident and was in the hospital, she didn’t even say “hello.” The first words out of her mouth were: “I know my son has been in a horrible accident. Where is he?”

My daughter has that same uncanny ability.

Q: As a writer who has vast (30+) years of experience in publishing and editing, what advice would you give to new writers just starting out on this journey?

A: Use your passion to fuel your writing. Write about things that you love. Write every day. Hemingway believed that the only way to become a great writer was to practice, practice, practice every day. The more you write, the better you become. And understand that if you want to get published, that the writing is just a quarter of the effort you’ll need to make. Getting the book published and then marketed will be the majority of your effort.

Q: What has your writing journey taught you about yourself?

A: Most of my career, I wrote non-fiction for business purposes. After finishing my memoir, Riding Through It, I approached writing a novel for the first time with a bit of fear. I knew that I had an active imagination, but I had never written pure fiction. To my amazement, my stories just seemed to pour out of me onto the keyboard. What has amazed me after almost three novels (Snow Blood Season 2 will be out this summer) is how my main character leads the way. William Faulkner said, “It almost always starts with a character. Once he stands up and starts to move, it’s all I can do to run along behind him jotting down everything that he says and does.” And this is so true for me. So, my writing journey has taught me to trust myself.

Q: What would you say are your personal strengths and weaknesses, and why?

A: My strengths that are beneficial to being a writer: I’m organized; I’m persistent and stick to a schedule. I enjoy the time alone to write. I write every day. My weaknesses: I’m a bit selfish with my time – I need to get over that. Bad reviews still bother me, even though I try not to show it. (I’m a writer, so I’m insecure!)

Q: How have you used your strengths and weaknesses to good advantage in your writing?

A: Organization, persistence and enjoying, no loving, what I do allow me the luxury of being creative and getting a lot written. Being selfish with my time means again that I get more done as a writer. Because I am sensitive to what others say about my writing, it makes me strive harder to be better.

Q: What are your thoughts on traditional vs self-publishing in today’s writing landscape?

A: I co-authored a business book back in 1996, and it was traditionally published (by a very well-known publishing house). I didn’t feel that the publisher did much to promote the book. My writing partner and I were the ones that went out and got all the sales. Then, I self-published Riding Through It. Again, I had to market and sell it myself, but I didn’t have to give up so much of the revenue like I did with a traditional publisher. (Minus distribution, printing, etc.) For Luke’s Tale and the Snow Blood Series, I am working with a boutique publishing house that really produces for its authors – marketing plans, actual marketing, covers, editorial support, etc. And, I feel like the commission TRP takes is fair for the work they do. Let’s face it, unless you are John Irving, Stephen King,  or one of the big name authors, you won’t get that type of attention from a big publishing company. And now, there are lots of companies out there that will work with authors to self-publish. I think there’s room for both. Much of it depends upon whether you want to hold your new book in your hands in a short time span (self-publishing) or if you don’t mind going through a longer process (traditional publishing.) Then there’s the boutique publishing option, for which I’ve opted.

Q: Writing and publishing take a great deal of time, more than most people can imagine, and tenacity. How do you structure your day to fit in everything you need to accomplish?

A: I spend 50% of my day working with my clients (other authors and companies that require my writing/editing/marketing skills.)

I spend 25% of my day writing for myself, and another 25% marketing my books.

I use a DayTimer, schedule my work by degree of importance, and work through it until everything gets done. Please keep in mind that I don’t work an 8-hour day! It’s more like 12-14 hours.

Q: What would you say are the three most common mistakes new writers make when starting out?

A:

  1. Lack of Editing. The best writers re-write and re-write. New writers tend to think that editing merely means a brief read through for typos and spelling errors. That’s the very last thing to do. New writers tend to want to submit a first draft if they have an editor. Don’t do it. Put it aside for a week, then go back to it and rewrite. The first draft of a story needs to be sharpened, reworded, and it needs a professional editor when you have given it your all. I usually am up to Draft 6 or 7 before it goes to my editor.
  2. Poor Dialogue Skills. Dialogue in fiction isn’t real but it must sound real. It has to be sharp. No long confessional speeches. Engage your characters with each other. Reveal plot through dialogue and action. Use it to provide essential information and above all to show character. It’s critical to “show” and not “tell” and the proper balance of dialogue and action does that.
  3. No attention to Language. Too many writers are so busy telling a story that they don’t choose their words carefully enough. Writing should always be clear. Use intriguing language in new ways. The wind doesn’t only blow, it whips, rips, roars … really wordsmith … go over your draft for that specific purpose.

Other things newbies do are: include irrelevant detail; they rely on clichés and don’t use imagery; they don’t “set the stage” and leave out the details of the setting. They leave out taste, smell, etc. They also don’t have structure or know how to pace a story – when to give and when to withhold information, how to create tension, speed up or slow things down. This is all done by choosing the right words and the length of syllables. They sometimes shift point of view, without carefully introducing it. Finally, lack of technical knowledge (grammatical errors.) They need to learn the reasons behind the rules. Only when you know the rules can you break them! How do you learn them? By reading published fiction.

Q: What has been your most difficult lesson to learn in life so far, and why?

A: That everything changes. I tend to want to pre-plan and control my environment, my life, my situation. Change is inevitable. It always happens. Being the organizational, slightly OCD person that I am, it takes me a few minutes to warm up to changes!

Q: Rescue dogs are a lot like foster children. They often come with a whole host of emotional and physical scars. What can people who are considering taking in a rescue dog (or any animal for that matter) do to help ensure their home is the best fit for themselves and the dog?

A: I work with a great organization, LA Animal Rescue (LAAR). I suggest approaching a reputable rescue like LAAR and letting them work their magic. They take in to consideration your lifestyle, your living situation, your comfort levels and the needs of the dog. If you are a runner who wants a dog that you can take out on the trails, or a couch potato who wants a cuddle buddy, you need to be paired with the right dog. Organizations like LAAR put emotionally and physically scared dogs with fosters who will work to help them overcome their issues. They won’t pair a dog with issues to someone not willing or capable of working with them, and they never place a dangerous animal.

Q: What’s next on your plate, Carol?

A: I’m working with my editor to complete Snow Blood Season 2. I hope to have it out by this summer. (We’ve been editing since before Christmas, so you can see how important editing is to me!) After that, I plan to do the third installment in the Snow Blood Series. Then, I hope to write a novel based on quirky characters who love each other unconditionally. This is inspired by my author idol, John Irving.

Where to find Carol McKibben:

 

Website: http://www.carolmckibben.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CarolMckibbenAuthor
https://twitter.com/@carolmckibben

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/carolmckibben

Amazon Link to Snow Blood Season 1: http://www.amazon.com/Snow-Blood-Episodes-Carol-McKibben-ebook/dp/B00JOWG05O/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1423619241&sr=8-2&keywords=Carol+McKibben

Amazon Link to Luke’sTale: http://www.amazon.com/Lukes-Tale-Story-Unconditional-Love-ebook/dp/B00ASZNBW6/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1423619241&sr=8-4&keywords=Carol+McKibben

Amazon Link to Riding Through It: Paperback version: http://www.amazon.com/Riding-Through-Memoir-Carol-McKibben/dp/1598009419/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1423619241&sr=8-13&keywords=Carol+McKibben

Amazon Kindle Link: http://www.amazon.com/Riding-Through-Memoir-Carol-McKibben-ebook/dp/B00E2C0OR6/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1423619241&sr=8-5&keywords=Carol+McKibben

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4046806.Carol_McKibben