The Next Big Thing: Blog Hop

A blog hop is like a game of literary tag for writers with blogs.  On January 30, 2013, I was fortunate enough to be tagged by Irish author Lesley Richardson.  So now, I’m “it.”  My job is to answer a few questions about a project I’m working on, and include bios and links to other writers I think you may be interested in discovering.

Sure it’s a marketing strategy and a fabulous networking tool for authors, (writing is a lonely business), but these aren’t the reasons I decided to take part in the blog hop.  I did it because I’ve found some fabulous writers this way and have added many of their books to my reading list.  Like Butterfly Cabinet from Bernie McGill.  Here’s the trailer:


So, without further ado …

What is the working title of your next book?  

I’m writing what I hope will be the first book in a nine-book series. I’ll keep the series name to myself for now, but the working title of book one is “Crossing the Rubicon.”

Where did the idea come from for the book? 

In all honestly, from one of my characters.  I know it sounds completely facetious but I swear it’s true.  At the time I was working on another project so when she arrived and presented it to me, I ignored her.  Big mistake.  When you meet her, you’ll understand that she is not the type of gal who tolerates the bum’s rush.  She hounded me.  Nagged me.  Drove me nuts with it until at last, in 2010 I began transcribing her story.

Before I started this book I used to roll my eyes when I heard writers say things like “my character really surprised me” or “the story went in a completely different direction than I’d intended.”  I’d think, “the author is the one with the pen.  If he doesn’t want a character to act a particular way, then all he has to do is write something different.”  Right?  Oh, how wrong I was.  There are times when my characters say things I didn’t want them to say – I even stop sometimes and wonder where the words came from, because it isn’t what I planned to write.  (Yes, it’s equal parts cool and creepy.)  I never change them though.  They’re always better than my original idea.

What genre does your book fall under?  

It’s a Young Adult (YA) fantasy adventure story.  Technically YA is considered to be ages 12 to 18, but I think kids as young as ten will enjoy the story, although they might need a parent to read it to them.  “Older” adults (18+) who like fantasy will have fun with this book too.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? 

This is my favourite question because when I’m writing the characters of Liam Finnegan and Arthur, I see Gordon Pinsent and Anthony Hopkins in my head.  My four main characters are all 12-year-olds.  I don’t envision any particular child actor for them  but I’d want them to be from Newfoundland and Labrador.

Here’s the remarkable Gordon Pinsent during a recent interview on George Tonight:


What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  

Pass.  Can I do that in a blog hop?  Seriously.  I haven’t told my friends and family what the book is about.  If they hear about it through my blog first they’ll have a fit.

 I suppose I have to say something though, so how about this?  My book is about a boy who gets himself and his friends into really big trouble – life or death type of stuff.  Oh, and there’s dragons.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 

I always dreamed of having my book published “traditionally” – that is getting an agent and having him/her sell my book to a publisher.  Self-publishing doesn’t carry the same stigma as it once did though.  It isn’t the same as a vanity press.  So, I’m keeping that option open as well.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? 

I seem to have a different definition of “first draft” than other authors.  My initial brainstorm of the book took about a month (this I’ve learned is what some writers consider their first draft).  I consider the first draft to be a full manuscript that is generally ready for human consumption – beta readers.  So far I’ve spend two years and eight months on that version.  Hope to finish around the three-year mark.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 

This is another question I’d like to avoid … it feels like a lose-lose situation.  If I compare myself to well-known authors I sound arrogant.  If I compare to unknown authors the reference will be lost, because by definition most people haven’t heard of them!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I was browbeaten into it by one of my characters. (See the answer to question two above.)

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Well, just finishing it will pique the interest of my family and friends.  They’re dying to know what I’ve been scribbling all these months (and no doubt curious to see whether any of them made it to the pages.)  As far as people I don’t know goes … I think I’ve come up with a pretty unexpected, though satisfying, ending.

Here are two other writers you might be interested in checking out – the first from Ireland, the second from Newfoundland.

Lesley Richardson is a writer from Bangor, Co. Down, who is currently writing her second novel, The Possibilities of Elizabeth. Her first novel, Biddy Weirdo, is yet to be published, but Lesley and her agent, Susan Feldstein, are hopeful that that will soon change. Represented by the Feldstein Agency, Lesley has received a grant from The Arts Council of Northern Ireland and a writing bursary from North Down Borough Council. She launched her blog, Standing Naked at a Bus Stop last year and she tweets.

Kate Robbins’ love affair with Scotland began many years ago. She has dabbled in contemporary film and theatre, but when a story of much greater magnitude welled up, her focus turned to the place which sparked her imagination like no other. Lasses, lochs, mists and mountains inspire her to write about strong heroines and irresistible heroes. Did someone say kilt? Find out more about Kate and her Scottish historical romances at or follow her on twitter @KateRobWriter.

About the author 

Valerie Francis

Valerie Francis is a bestselling author, literary editor, and podcaster with a passion for stories by, for and about women.

Each month, Valerie recommends books from literature’s best female authors. Selections come from every genre because women write, and read, in every genre. The Women’s Fiction category offers up some terrific novels, but these days there’s a strong female presence in thriller, horror, crime, and other genres traditionally dominated by male writers. No matter what the publishing companies may think, in the 21st Century, Women’s Fiction is whatever we want it to be.

stories for women, by women, and about women