Sunday, October 14, 2007
Troubleshooting by Michelle Levigne
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Michelle Levigne has been writing since junior high, which is further back than she cares to remember, starting with stories about Zorro, Robin Hood, and Star Trek. She has over 40 fan fiction stories and poems published, in universes such as Highlander, Stingray, Beauty & the Beast, Starman, Stargate SG-1, and of course, Star Trek, and occasionally still writes a story for friends’ fanzines.
Her first professional sale was in conjunction with the Writers of the Future contest in 1990, and her first book-length published book was “Heir of Faxinor,” in 2000. She has since published nearly 40 novels and novellas in science fiction, fantasy, and multiple subgenres of romance. “Troubleshooting” is a contemporary Inspirational romance set in the mythical town of Tabor, Ohio. Many more novels and novellas set in Tabor are in various stages of completion and will be available at By Grace Publishing as the schedule permits!
Visit her Web site at: www.Mlevigne.com
Check out the Tabor page at: www.Mlevigne.com/tabor-main.htm
Why did you become a writer? Was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?
I love stories. I love daydreaming. It became a "bad habit" when I was in school to wander off into my daydreams, which got in the way of studying.
In the words of a friend of mine -- I went from a story addict to a pusher.
What do you love about being an author? Is there anything you dislike?
All you need is your imagination and some quiet time. You can work on the stories in the privacy of your head and you're not disturbing anyone, so nobody can object. You don't have to have special equipment to create the story -- as opposed to recording it and sharing it with other people.
The hard part is getting that "movie" from the back of my head down into the computer. It gets mangled in the process, so there's a lot of rewriting and tweaking involved. But that can be fun when the story takes on a life of its own and sometimes seems to emerge full-grown and kicking.
What don't I like? The lack of time and privacy to get all those dreams out of my head and into the computer. The necessity of making a living, which interferes with my writing time. The fact that it takes so much time to get that story recorded and polished to the point that I'm proud to share it with people -- there are only 18 hours available to work in each day (hey, you gotta sleep or you go psychotic) and exercise, work, eating and washing take up so much time, and then you have your family you need to spend time with, so there isn't much time left for writing!
As soon as someone figures out how to cram 50 hours into a 24-hour day, that woman wins the Pulitzer Prize!
How do you balance your personal and writing time?
I can only spell the word "balance." Understanding what it means and achieving it ... I don't even get close.
How do you write? Do your characters come to you first or the plot or the world of the story?
Sometimes the story idea comes from a book or movie or TV show I just read/saw, and something about it stays with me. It could be a case of "I could write that a lot better," and sometimes it's a case of not wanting to let go of the story -- I just want it to keep going. Sometimes I get an image in my head, and as I start playing with it, answering questions about the scene/image/situation, a story emerges. Sometimes I get a title and nothing else. Often, I've written a book, and secondary characters or situations that appeared in that book almost "demand" another story. There are plot points and story threads that haven't been wrapped up or resolved. There are so many things that can be the starting point for a new story, it's hard to nail one specific procedure down as "the one" that I use.
What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?
I write science fiction, fantasy, and romance -- with subgenres of paranormal, suspense, contemporary and inspirational romance.
Often, the requirements of the story determine the genre. For instance, with True Caderi, which is at Awe-Struck Books, I had an idea of a grown woman who is "kidnapped" by her father who she never knew, with the intention of getting her to become his partner in his empire. In our modern world, that would never fly. However, in a science fiction universe, the possibilities, the cultures I could create, the laws and technology could be exactly what I needed for the story. In our world, Caderi would be a criminal for holding her prisoner. In his world and culture, offspring are considered property until given manumission papers -- the law was on his side. And on and on.
What is the biggest misconception about being an author?
Money! People automatically assume that if you're published, you're rich. Very few people make enough money from their writing to live on that income alone.
The second biggest misconception is that a book has to be printed on paper to be a "real" book. There's a snobbery in the publishing world. The snooty literature snobs look down on genre writers and say "When are you going to write a real book?" and the genre writers need to make themselves feel good, so they turn to the electronically published authors and say "When are you going to write a real book?"
A REAL book is one that people enjoy reading and recommend to others. Period. It can be on CDs, tapes, computer files, paper -- read on PDAs and cell phones or listened to while driving in the car.
Okay, I'll get down off my soapbox now ....
Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
My characters are mostly my imagination ... except when I borrow "pieces" of them from characters on TV and in the movies ( my writing friends call this "casting" their books -- choosing an actor for the physical description of the character). I also must confess that when someone really infuriates me, I often use that person as the basis for a villain.
Out of all the characters that you've written, who is your favorite and why?
Honestly, I don't have a favorite. I have so many characters, and I enjoy them while I write them, but once a story is done and sent off to a publisher, I pick up a new story ... and as much as I loved a particular character, there is a distancing that develops after a while, as I write more books and develop new characters. Ask a mother of 20 children which one is her favorite. If she's honest, she won't be able to tell you, because she loves them all, and is frustrated with them all, and proud of them all ...
If you were writing a script for the big screen, who would you want to act in your movie?
That would depend on who I had "cast" in my book. Some books would be easy: Sean Conner IS Adlan Caderi, in "True Caderi." And I cast Gates McFadden (Dr. Crusher, ST:NG) as Rivicka.
Other books wouldn't be that easy, because a lot of my characters were built from many "pieces" of people. I don't have any favorite actors right now, if that's what you mean.
What would you want readers to take away from your books?
Enjoyment. Hope. Encouragement. A sense of having escaped to another world and time, just for a little while. And hunger to read another one.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers in regards to writing a book?
Don't TALK about writing -- sit down and do it. No matter how wretched that first draft is.
You can't autograph a book until it's been printed.
A book can't be printed unless it's been sold.
You can't sell a book that you don't submit to a publisher.
You can't submit a book that hasn't been polished.
You can't polish a book that hasn't been rough drafted.
You can't rough draft a book if you don't do anything but sit and think and talk about it!
Give yourself permission to write something so awful, if you printed it out and used it to line the bird cage, the bird would die. Now that's pretty bad writing! But you can fix bad writing -- you can't fix something that hasn't been written.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished Harry Potter #7, I'm reading Janet Evanovich's "Lean Mean Thirteen" (Stephanie Plum) and I'm preparing to read and review a non-fiction book by Debbie Macomber.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Jake came to Tabor to troubleshoot a business for his new boss. His first Sunday there, he ran into Bailey Malone and despite his bad history with churches, followed her to church. Bailey had business problems of her own and needed a knight in shining armor. Unfortunately, she was at the top of the list of Jake’s suspects.
"It's him," Bailey whispered, clutching the box of leftover donut holes.
"Wow." Lisa grinned and turned to her as they paused in the doorway. "I could handle someone like him stalking me."
"Who's stalking you?" Dirk Jenson said, nearly running into them. He nudged her shoulder. "No blocking traffic."
"Nobody.” Bailey realized she stared at Jake, and looked the other way as she stepped into the classroom.
"Would everybody please find a seat?" Pastor Dave Henley stepped up to the music stand that served as podium. He brushed his white-blond hair off his forehead and smiled as he looked around the room. From his lanky height, he could see everyone, whether they stood or sat.
Bailey hurried around the back of the room, avoiding traffic, and let out a soft sigh of relief as she deposited the donuts on the table. Mission accomplished, and a distraction as well.
"Hi." That voice was familiar, and she turned around to look into Jake's chocolate-colored eyes. "I was kind of wondering what you had in those boxes."
"Hi." She prayed she wasn't blushing. "Did you get your coffee?"
"Decided to wait until tomorrow." Jake held up the paper cup. "The coffee here is just as good."
"Bailey?" Ken joined them at the table, so she felt sandwiched between the two. "You know Jake?"
"We sort of ran into each other this morning."
"My fault, entirely," Jake said with a grin and a warm chuckle that loosened the tight knots inside her.
"I doubt that," a painfully familiar voice said. "Dear little Bailey is so clumsy most of the time, it's a miracle she doesn't break bones – hers and others." Jayne shoved her ring-encrusted hand between Bailey and Jake. "I'm Jayne Carpenter, owner of SafetyNet."
Bailey bit her lip to keep from correcting her. Jayne might own the majority shares of the company her husband had started with Bailey's father, but she wasn't the owner. Bailey refused to take a step back, though Jayne would land on her foot in another moment. It was her latest tactic, and it seemed to work so well because she had gained so much weight in the last three months. An honest fear of getting her feet crushed or having Jayne overbalance and fall on her made Bailey move back even when she didn’t want to. She knew she couldn’t complain and tell Jayne to stop shoving – especially shoving her way into where she wasn’t wanted – without seeming petty. What she wanted to know was, who gave Jayne the idea? The maneuver was too subtle for her style, after all.
Today, she was at the peak of Jayne-ness. She'd squeezed into an olive green and orange-striped dress that clashed with her Lucille Ball-red dyed hair. Her earrings dangled and chimed; crystals and gold balls hung to her padded shoulders. She wore hot pink shoes and a purse that almost matched.
The worst part of it was, Bailey had seen a similar outfit in Vogue. On the size three model, with all the right shades, the effect had been stunningly understated. On Jayne, it simply stunned, and the woman preened as if she thought herself irresistible. She took over the conversation and rested her hand on Jake’s bent arm as she spoke. Bailey felt a throb of pity for Jake. Jayne was on a perpetual manhunt, and he was probably her next chosen victim.
"Excuse me?" Pastor Dave put a whine in his voice that made the rest of the class laugh.
"Hi, I'm Dirk. Come and sit with us.” Dirk gestured toward a row of four chairs in the back where Lisa already sat.
"Ah ... thanks, but I think I should sit with Gina. She's kind of my escort." Jake cast an apologetic glance at Bailey and neatly twisted his arm out of Jayne's grip when she tried to lead him in the other direction. "Want to sit with us, Bailey?"
"Thanks, but Lisa's saving me a seat." Bailey snagged two donuts she didn't really want and settled down next to Lisa. For the sake of peace at the office, it was better to pretend she wasn’t interested in the man Jayne obviously wanted.
"What's with him?" Lisa whispered, as Jake took the aisle seat next to Gina. That left two seats open on her other side.
"Running scared," Dirk said from her other side. He rolled his eyes expressively. "Maybe I should loan the guy my track shoes."
Bailey muffled a chuckle. When Dirk had first started coming to class, Jayne had tried to snag him, too. And Dirk was eight years her junior.
"Hi, Bailey.” Ken settled down in the fourth seat.
"Hi." She managed to make her smile normal, despite the queasy feeling in her stomach.
"There's an alumni basketball game at Tabor High tonight. Want to go? I'm getting a group together."
"Bailey couldn't shoot a basket to save her life," Jayne said as she stomped down the center aisle past them. She paused and glanced back, smirking. "Though she's very good at dribbling. Aren't you, dear? That mess in your office last week was just awful. You really shouldn’t take food into your office. I guess you just can’t help it, can you?" She batted her false eyelashes and took the seat on the other side of the aisle from Jake. Preening, she set down her coffee cup and her handful of donuts and opened her Bible while Pastor Dave wrote on the board.
Jake glanced over his shoulder at Bailey, giving her a look of such misery she almost choked on her donut. A twinkle of mischief lit his eyes for a moment before he turned around and faced the front of the room again.
Honestly, Bailey fumed, why does Jayne have to constantly pick on me? Those reports had been in her filing cabinet, not sitting out on her desk, and she never took anything but water into her office. Gut instinct said Jayne had strewn those reports all over the desk and then spilled coffee all over them, but Bailey had no proof. She couldn’t even argue and prove herself innocent. Certainly not here in class. Why would anyone here care what happened at work, anyway? Jayne obviously thought they would. Jayne never did anything, said anything, unless she had an audience and it suited whatever agenda she pushed.
Troubleshooting by Michelle Levigne
a Tabor, Ohio Novella
Publisher: By Grace Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Inspirational Romance
$3.75 (ebook) from Bygracepublishing.com
$11.08 (paperback)from Lulu.com
Purchase Troubleshooting by Michelle Levigne HERE!!!