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The Sweet Spot

Something Ever After

My characters live with me long after a book is finished. And it appears that’s true for some of my readers, in particular, those who finished my recently released The Sweet Spot. They want to know if I will write another novel about Edie.

Edie St. Claire is the main character of the novel, set in a fictional town in Western Massachusetts. She’s the young widow of a soldier killed in Vietnam and a caring mother to their daughter, Amber. Most people love Edie, who knows how to have fun, whether it’s working at scan TSSher in-laws’ general store, playing softball or kicking back at the Do-Si-Do Bar. She is good to her father, a cantankerous old coot who runs the town dump, and her aunt, a woman with no brake on her mouth.

But all is not rosy for Edie, who still grieves for Gil, who by my accounts was a sweetheart of a guy. And then, there is her secret affair with his baddish brother, Walker, which ends tragically. We learn about Edie’s strength when that damn little town blames her. She also has the support of her family and Harlan, the stranger who moved next door.

I admire Edie’s spunk. So have my readers. They ask if there will be a sequel. Funny, I mentioned that possibility to my former agent one time, but he didn’t get it. I had a vision of Edie bringing Amber to the Vietnam Memorial Wall to find her father’s name. I wondered if the townspeople ever forgave her. Did she and Harlan make it?

Does Edie live happily ever after or is it something else?

I am considering it, but I am in the midst of another sequel — to the mystery Chasing the Case that I completed in March. Right now, it’s in the hands of a few publishing house editors. But I am so taken by the characters, including journalist-turned-sleuth Isabel Long, and her 92-year-old mother, who’s her Watson.  They solve a 28-year-old case of woman who went missing in her town. It was Isabel’s first big story as a rookie reporter. Yes, the mystery is set in Western Massachusetts.

Among my other books, I have turned two into series. I am two-thirds of the way through the fourth book in The Twin Jinn series, as yet unpublished. I have two more books for the Los Primos/The Cousins bilingual series.

As for Edie, I definitely can see spending time with her again, her rough-and-tough family, and the other characters. I had such a good time with them.

Want to get your own copy of The Sweet Spot in paperback or Kindle? Here’s the link:The Sweet Spot on Amazon

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: That’s a mural at Bowlin’s Mesilla Book Center in Mesilla, New Mexico, where we attended the New Mexico Press Women’s conference. “The Cousins and the Magic Fish/Los Primos y el Pez Magíco” was the second-runnerup for the Zia Award.

 

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James Fant
James Fant

6Ws with Author James Fant

James Fant, an author from Charleston, South Carolina, is a member of my BooksGoSocial team. His latest novel is COED, which explores whether a man and woman can be best friends without crossing that line to intimacy. Yes, I read COED eBook Coverand enjoyed his novel very much.

Here are James’ responses to my 6Ws — who, what, when, where, how, and why. (Yes, how does end with a W.)

Who is author James Fant?

James Fant is a creator of fake worlds that make real people ask interesting questions. For example, in my latest novel, COED, the reader will ask: Can a man and a woman be just best friends without at least one of them wanting more than mere friendship? I love to entertain readers; however, I also like to make them think.

What does he write?

I write romance, science fiction, historical, and even mystery. I guess, I’m just a storyteller. I tell stories about everyday people because I want my readers to relate. I write stories about flawed people because aren’t we all striving for perfection and making mistakes along the way. So if I write about a character with a specific flaw, and I show how that character dealt with his/her issue, perhaps readers can identify and say, “Hey, I should approach it this way.” Also, I try to keep it spicy. Keep the prose moving. Give my readers something to look forward to as they turn the page, or swipe the screen.

When does he write? (Alternative question: When did he begin writing fiction?)

I started writing fiction professionally in 2006. I started off with short stories; in fact, my first novel, AN ODE FOR ORCHIDS, was originally a short story called Shawties. I began writing and the characters told me that they had a lot more to say than the confines of a short story could contain. So that story turned into a novel and in doing so, took me completely by surprise. If you would’ve told me that I was going to be writing novels when I graduated from college in 1999, I would’ve laughed at you. Hey! There’s an interesting idea for a novel: a time-traveler going back in time to tell someone that they were going to do X, Y and Z and they were amazed at this because they’re busying doing A, B and C. Hmmm…

Where does he write?

I write wherever I can get to an open document. On the express shuttle while on my phone. In my home office. In the recliner beside my bed. I write while I’m standing in long lines at the grocery store. Wherever! That’s why I am so happy to have cloud computing in my life. Man, where would I be now if I had to lug around a flash drive wherever I roamed. I write it on my phone, it’s saved to the cloud, and I can pull it back up on my laptop. The cloud is where it’s at!

How does he write?

My first draft is always written with my heart. What do I mean by that? Well, one of my favorite movies is FINDING FORESTER, which starred Sean Connery (William) and Rob Brown (Jamal). In the movie, there’s this scene where William and Jamal are writing and Jamal is just sitting there. William asks what’s the matter and Jamal says that he’s thinking about what to write. William admonishes him to just start typing. The first draft is written with the heart, basically whatever your mind tells you to write at that moment. No thought. No pondering. Just write. That’s what I do. Of course, I have a rough outline that I follow. But for the most part, I just start writing without stopping to think about the words I’m typing. Then, the second draft is written with the brain, analyzing what my subconscious mind delivered freely. Keeping things. Deleting things. I love writing in this way because there is essentially no writers’ block. Every day is productive, even if I delete what I wrote.

Why does he write?

I write because I want to make people smile. I write to brighten people’s day. I write to entertain. But above all else, I write to edify.

 Here’s the synopsis of COED.

Can a man and a woman be best friends without somebody catching feelings? Travis Barber and Sade Styles are best friends of the opposite sex. Despite what everyone thinks, they are not getting busy…yet.

Co-owners of a popular barbershop/salon named CoEd, Travis and Sade spend the bulk of their days together. But when Sade’s apartment lease runs out and Travis offers her the spare bedroom of his newly built house, will they end up sharing more than just the utilities?

Best case scenario, nothing happens. Worst case scenario, they get to know each other a little too well and end up hating each other! Are Travis and Sade making the best move for their friendship?

Other works: Simon’s Splinter, Fourteen Pages, An Ode for Orchids, The Mended Fence, The Secret Branch, and Close the Door.

More about James Fant

Website: jamesfantbooks.com

Facebook: Facebook_JamesFantBooks

Twitter: @jamesfantjr

Blog: jamesfantbooks.wordpress.com

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/jamesfant

Goodreads: goodreads.com/James_Fant

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon: Amazon_James_Fant

Barnes and Noble: barnesandnoble_James_Fant

Kobo: Smashwords_James_Fant

 

 

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cartoon
Newspapers, Taos, Writing

I’m Outta Here

It’s official: I am leaving my job as the managing editor of The Taos News on May 5. I’ve been at it for nearly eight years. It’s time for a change.

I began working as a journalist 31 years ago, when I was a correspondent for the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton, one of the oldest dailies in the nation. I reported on the town where I lived, Worthington, population 1,400.

Worthington, a hill town in Western Massachusetts, had a surprising amount of news. The first lesson I learned is that I’d better get my story right because it was likely I would run into that person the next day at the general store.

At the start, I had to write my story on a typewriter and drive 40 minutes to the newsroom so someone could type it into the paper’s computer system. Then I was given a Radio Shack laptop that showed seven lines on its tiny screen. I plugged it into the phone jack to send my story and called to make sure the editor got it. Over the years, technology improved until now the web is a vital reporting tool.

Eventually I added several hill towns to my beat. I attended meetings (my favorite was the venerable Town Meeting although a Worthington Board of Health meeting about pigs was a close second). I wrote features and columns. Occasionally there was breaking news, typically a house fire. I did get big stories to cover like the closing of a nuclear power plant. I even went to the White House to interview Tony Lake, who was national security adviser during Bill Clinton’s first term and a Worthington resident.

I am grateful for the opportunity to report on those towns. I had to listen to the way people talk and observe how they behave. That’s been a great help for my fiction.

I became a line editor, then a copy and special sections editor at the Gazette.

As for managing editor of The Taos News, I sort of fell into that job. After Hank and I moved here in 2006, I freelanced for the paper before I was hired as its copy editor. After a year, I became the managing editor.

It’s not an easy time for newspapers. Reading habits have changed — moving from fiber to cyber. During my time as managing editor, I’ve watched many newspapers struggle to keep readership. Some have folded. But The Taos News remains strong.

Taoseños are engaged in their community, and frankly there is nowhere else to get the news our staff reports. I like to think the editorial team covers the heck out of Taos County. (I will miss my colleagues.) Of course, a paper can’t continue without the business side working hard as well. And to keep things on the up and up, a firewall exists between editorial and advertisement.

And those in the industry must feel we are doing right things because the paper has racked up numerous awards, including best weekly in the nation for six of the eight years I’ve been here.

While it has been a fulfilling job, it hasn’t been an easy one at times. I’ve been expected to write hard-hitting editorials and make political endorsements, which has often displeased folks. I’ve been sworn at over the phone. Once a group of critics holding a protest outside the newsroom over coverage chanted my name.

Fortunately I have a thick skin.

On Friday, the paper held a sweet party in my honor. As part of the sendoff, the editorial team created a fake front page for me. It’s hilariously funny with inside jokes. I plan to frame it for my office.

The only parts I will share are the banner headline: “Editor’s exit a boon for ill-behaving officials” and the cartoon, Bill Baron, created above.

The May 5 paper is my last. This week I am working with my replacement to show him the ropes.

Some people who know I am leaving the news biz have asked what I plan to do. I will concentrate on my fiction and other writing projects that have already come my way. We will stay put in Taos but be able to see our family — we have six grown kids and a granddaughter — that is spread around the country more often.

It’s been a great ride, but now I will be going in a different direction. Or as Joey, one of the characters in my novel, Peace, Love, and You Know What, says about Lenora, who is graduating and splitting for Europe: “That’s right. She’s outta here.”

PHOTO ABOVE: Bill Baron, political cartoonist for The Taos News, created that cartoon for me. Bill has been my co-conspirator on the paper’s op-ed page.

 

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