Monday, April 29, 2013


I'm so excited to introduce a very special person to the blog today. I was giddy (still am) when Kelbian Noel accepted my invitation to share why she writes. Her source of inspiration mirrors my own, but she expresses it in a way that touched my heart.

A Dose of Reality For a World of Confidence

Thanks for the invitation to Sharing Our Voices, Angie! I'm honored to be here :) When I first read about this series, I was so inspired by the posts of all these amazing authors. It's incredible how different we all are, yet so much alike. We all have a story and I'm happy to share mine!

When people ask me why I write, why I chose this of all things to do for a living, I give them two reasons: motivation and inspiration.

I can literally write for hours. For me, being in my characters' worlds is soothing. I enjoy time spent there. An entire day can melt away and I'll barely notice. If I have a big enough breakfast, I often even forget to eat. Writing makes me happy. Whether it’s fiction, proofreading or grant writing, it never feels like a job. Even in the midst of editing and revising I’m still having a good time. 

When I'm not writing my characters I'm thinking about them. What motivates them?  What inspires them? And when I put the finishing touches on a manuscript, there's usually more of a sense of regret than relief. I don’t schedule my writing. It’s automatic. The biggest part of my day. The very act motivates me, how I know it will fulfill me one day and be there for me the next.

Who I write about and for is my inspiration. 

When I first decided I wanted to be a writer I was eleven. My inspiration came from reading. But it wasn't the characters on the pages of Love Comes Softly and Anne of Avonlea that inspired me. What spurred me was the idea of the characters who could have been. Even as I moved on to more modern fiction from authors like R. L. Stine and Christopher Pike these characters still weren't there. Not prominently anyway. 

But don’t get me wrong. I wasn't offended. Or angry. I thoroughly enjoyed these stories, despite how the characters were described. Despite the fact that they looked nothing like the face staring back at me in the mirror. These writers were talented enough to engage me, and inspire me. 

Back then, I don't think I was socially conscious enough to see the lack of multicultural characters in fiction as a serious issue. In fact, in my eyes, it wasn’t a problem at all. It as an opportunity. 

 I grew up in rural Canada. When I say rural, I mean back-country-small-town-in-the- middle-of-a-place-you’ve-never-heard-of rural. Scot’s Bay, Turtle Creek, Lockeport, Morristown. Right now you’re probably Googling. And if you are, you get where I’m coming from. For many years, our family was the only black family--for miles. So, to be perfectly honest, reading an all white cast, book after book, wasn't all that unusual. It was all I knew the world to be. When I started writing my first novel (on lined paper, with a pen, sitting under that cliche old oak tree) I wrote what I saw, what I knew, with a little bit of color sprinkled in for good measure. That little bit of color, was me. 

Many years have passed since then and what inspires me hasn’t changed. I want my daughter (now eleven) and other children like her--visible minorities--to see themselves in the pages they read. So, when I write, I make a point to include them--front row center. That's why the characters in the Witchbound Series are so eclectic. I believe truly representing the world as it is, is a vital component to the positive development of future society. Our children. Confidence is the key to success and if I can inspire a little confidence in a story read before bedtime or before their days begin then, why not?
L.M. Montgomery wrote what she knew. I’m betting Janette Oke, R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike did as well. I’m going to assume the last three didn’t regularly interact with people of color. So adding them to their imaginary worlds, in a time when a simple online search wasn’t possible, wouldn’t have been easy to do. 

Times have changed. I don’t know everything about every culture. Even though I live in Toronto now, one of the most multicultural cities on the planet, I still have to do my research. And I do. Every kid, not just black like me, should see themselves in the pages. They should expect it, even demand it. And if they don’t get what they ask for, then hopefully they’ll be inspired to create it. 

Roots: Seventeen-year-old Baltimore Land just wants to be normal, but magic has other plans.

Sprung: Since she discovered magic, seventeen-year-old Skye Jackson's life is almost perfect. Almost. Even perfect has its glitches.

To help you find me in those pictures: In the horse picture, I'm the one in the front (my older sister is sitting behind me), in the birthday party picture, my dad is holding me, and in the picture in front of the van, that's me right in the center.

Thank you so much for inviting me! I hope everyone has a great week :)

Kelbian Noel
Author of The Witchbound Series

Monday, April 22, 2013


I'm thrilled to have my smart and talented critique partner, JW Troemner, on the blog as she shares how she finds inspiration for her books. She is one of those rare people who will make the time to help a fellow writer in need, and I'm very fortunate to have her in my life.
Thank you, Angie, for having me on your blog! You had wanted to know how culture influenced my writing-- the moment you asked, a recent experience flashed before my eyes like I was in an old sitcom, complete with a wavy screen and the sounds of a twinkling xylophone.
There I was, clicking through on Wikipedia.
Nobody knows how we get anywhere on Wikipedia. Usually there’s a maze of links involved—you innocently start on a page about the Oxford comma, and next thing you know you're on an article about asteroid mining.
Or in my case, about the Tuareg people of the Sahara desert.

Photo of a Tuareg woman by: Alain Elorza
As I read through the page, a couple of details stood out to me. Their historical confrontations with colonial forces, a strong warrior class, a distinctive indigo dye in their traditional clothes that often ends up seeping into the skin—even the sound of the names reminded me a little of the inhabitants of Frank Herbert’s Dune. And then I spotted what the Tuareg people refer to themselves as: Freemen. As in, one letter short of the sandworm-riding Fremen.
Suffice to say, it blew my mind like I’d OD’d on Spice. That’s not to say Herbert copied and pasted the Tuareg people into the pages of Dune. He took a few aspects of their culture, transplanted them, and then found legitimate reasons for the Fremen to have those qualities.
My best friend often sends me snippets about other cultures whenever she runs across them: a few brief paragraphs and pictures about the facial tattoos of the Ainu people of Japan, a brief introduction to Yoruba Orishas, a link explaining traditional naming conventions in Scandinavian countries, an article about taboos in Celtic lore. None of these completely or accurately portrays their culture. But that’s perfect for a fantasy writer like me.
Without context or explanation, we’re free to make up our own reasons behind the traditions—and often that ends up involving religion, social values, politics, geography. One little interesting detail can suddenly become the seed for an entire world, almost entirely different from our own.
Even if you’re not into the Spec Fic scene, every culture has its own set of virtues and vices, its own history and drama, its own heroes and villains—and each one of them is packed full of stories.
Need some ideas? Sticking with Wikipedia’s take on the Tuareg, take a look at rebel band Tinariwen and the legendary queen Tin Hinan.
Blog: Questions and Archetypes

Monday, April 15, 2013


I'd like to welcome Rhiann Wynn-Nolet to the blog today. She recently found her dream agent, Stephanie Lieberman at Janklow & Nesbit Associates. After reading about what inspired her book, I can understand why she was snatched out of the query trenches. Please give her a warm welcome.

First, thank you to Angie for inviting me to participate in Share Our Voices. I’d also like to thank her for being very friendly back when I was floundering in the querying/contest trenches. She had an agent already, so I was immensely flattered that she’d even chat with me.

When asked to speak about how culture and environment inspire my writing, I thought immediately of an instance where truth and my own fiction collided at that very intersection.

New England and I go way back. All the way to the 1630s, when my ancestors arrived from “Old” England. Four years ago I decided to write a book. I knew it would have some connection to the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692, during which my ancestor Mary Estey was hanged.

Here is a photo of the house where Mary’s sister, Rebecca Nurse lived. She was also hanged.

During my research, I learned that land-hungry English settlers spread out from Boston and Salem to southern Maine, then known as The Eastward. This caused conflict with the Abenaki. Bloodshed and tragic losses followed (for both sides). Traumatized Colonial refugees poured into Salem and the surrounding towns, telling horror stories. Who among the God-fearing Puritans had brought God’s wrath down upon them? Witches, of course.

I now live in southern Maine, where the novel is set.

Here’s a photo I took on a walk near my house. This rock is called Tyler’s Back because it formed the rear wall of Mr. Tyler’s home during the early 1700s. One of the Tylers’ neighbors, Mrs. Batson was killed by the Abenaki. Incidentally, a surprising number of the women and children who were captured by native tribes chose not to return to English Colonial life when they were given the chance.

I decided my MC would be descended from accused witch Margaret Jacobs, whose letters to the court and to her father during her imprisonment survived. They’re both inspirational and heartbreaking. The boy my MC falls for has both Abenaki heritage and an ancestor who was a prominent witch persecutor. Here’s the premise of UNQUIET SOULS—restless spirits may inhabit the bodies of the living, attempting to satisfy thwarted desires for love or vengeance.

To learn more about modern day Abenaki, my family and I went to a pow wow. We were admiring the crafts when the music started. It was a vocal performance with drum accompaniment. After the song ended, my husband said he didn’t understand why he’d gotten all teary, but the song had filled his heart with sadness and longing. I should mention that my husband’s surname was always assumed to be French (his father was born in Quebec).

I don’t know what the name of the song was, but it sounded much like this
Flash forward to a recent family wedding. I was seated by my father-in-law and we began talking genealogy. He told me his father had claimed to have Native American blood. Interesting. Once I got home I hit the internet. Lo and behold, Nolet is a shortened version of Wawanolet, a surname frequently found on reservations around Quebec, where most of the Abenaki ended up.

This is a passage from my book, written two years before the wedding.

As we rumbled over a patch of cobblestones revealed by balding asphalt, she said, “Sometimes I can’t help but think of all the people who’ve passed along these twisting roads before us. I feel their presence, those travelers throughout time. Imagine all the cars, and before them all the horses and wagons, and before them the native tribes. Underneath the pavement lies cobblestone, below that the dirt roads of the original colonial settlement, and buried deeper still are the trails made by moccasins. Each generation adds a new layer, obscuring the past and altering the road slightly—yet we follow the paths made by our predecessors, repeating their journeys without conscious thought.”

Twitter @RhiannWynnNolet


Wednesday, April 10, 2013



I’ve found my K-Drama gang @writercherie @j_a_bennet @SBrownwriter which is totally cool. When I talk about my K-drama addiction, my real world friends (as opposed to on-line friends who I can’t see) kind of roll their eyes and mumble, “Oh, it sounds good,” followed by an even quieter grumble, “Shut up already, Angie.”
It’s wonderful to have a posse. I can gush about my favorite shows without feeling like a freak. Without their reviews, I never would’ve watched FLOWER BOY RAMEN SHOP (2011). I started the first episode a few months ago, but I didn’t get past the first fifteen minutes for some reason I don’t remember. Either writing or the kids interrupted and I never went back.
Then my K-gang started talking about how good it is. I was caught up on episodes of FLOWER BOY NEXT DOOR (2013), the third show in tvN’s "Oh! Boy" series, which also includes SHUT UP FLOWER BOY BAND (2012). Since Flower Boy Ramen Shop is the first in this “Oh! Boy” series, I thought why not give it a shot.

Holla! I totally marathoned this 16 episode series over a weekend.

It begins with Yang Eun Bi (Lee Chung-Ah), a college student studying for her civil service exam to become a high school teacher. Stress has the girl teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown. All it takes is accidentally meeting Cha Chi Soo (Jung Il-Woo), the handsome and arrogant son the biggest food conglomerate in Korea, in a public bathroom stall, followed by a public break up with her cheating boyfriend, to shove her off the ledge.

Every time Eun Bi came on screen, I squirmed with contact embarrassment. The girl was a dripping-hot mess.
“Good God, please, you’re killing me. Resist temptation. Don’t do it!” I yelled at the screen as I watched her fall under bratty Cha Chi Soo’s spell, sealing her dooooom!

Yeah, and all of this happened during the first couple of episodes.  

It only gets better and better. The show has a fairytale feel to it at times—true love, a dictator villain, Sleeping Beauty trapped in the tower in need of rescue and ramen. I won’t say any more, other than I will forever associate a toilet bowl plunger as a crucial artifact to represent the pinnacle of climactic storytelling.


Monday, April 8, 2013


The amazing author of CHAMPAGNE AND LEMON DROPS, @JeanOram is our special guest today on Sharing Our Voices. Her book kept me awake until the wee hours of the morning because I simply couldn't stop reading until I reached the end.
Please welcome her as she shares what inspired the wonderful town of Blueberry Springs.

Thanks for having me on the blog, Angie. You had asked, "The environment and culture of Blueberry Springs was so rich in detail that it felt real. What was your inspiration for this town?"

The inspiration for Blueberry Springs, the setting for my romance Champagne and Lemon Drops (book one in the Blueberry Springs series), is an accumulation of experiences from small town Alberta, Canada--even though I am very careful not to say in the book whether the town is in the United States or Canada.
Some of the happenings in Blueberry Springs are things I have plucked from my own life. I grew up in a hamlet of a hundred people in Alberta, Canada. I knew everyone and they knew me. That old saying where it takes a community to raise a child? That's how I grew up. We gaggle of girls ate at whomever's house were playing at. Bathed at whomever's house. We were a pack of 'ragamuffins' that stuck together and were offered many parenting choices in any given day!
Like in the book, the nearest big city was called The City. Going to Town was the next town over which had a gas station and grocery store. And like in Champagne and Lemon Drops, the parts man really did take ordered parts by phone and place them in your vehicle when he saw it on Main Street--he'd simply charge it to your account. (Although I don't think anyone ever blew up at him like one of the heroes, Nash, did in the book!)

City people, like Nash, were suspect and warranted caution which was a great ounce of conflict in Champagne and Lemon Drops. In real life, my parents have lived in their hamlet for over forty years now, but in all that time, they have been 'the new people.' They were hippies (they aren't any longer). Easterners. City folk. They aren't related to everyone and don't have generations of history in that area. But they shared a lot of the same values as our community and the community was always there to help out.
Growing up in this area I saw both worlds. I saw the connection and deep bond that Beth (the heroine) wanted in Blueberry Springs as well as that deep confusion and lack of understanding for the social nuances that city man Nash experienced.
In a small town, everyone knows everyone as well as their most personal business. And if they don't know it, they make it up. Small town folks aren't afraid to snoop, ask, or interfere. They mean well, but sometimes it is difficult. In a lot of ways, I tried to make Blueberry Springs a character in the story. The town was both a source of conflict for my characters as well as a source of resolution. Blueberry Springs, however, is unlike most small towns in that its identity was always in limbo. The town is set in the mountains and is a bit isolated. There are meadows which have been farmed and ranched. Natural resources that have been mined and now tourism is starting. But, like any small town, it's a town on the cusp of becoming nothing. The threat of disappearance is very real.
Beth, like anyone from a small town, has to make a choice. To stay or to go. To leave home and become a nobody in a big city, or to remain in a small town and possibly be suffocated. I chose to leave. I won't tell you what Beth chooses. And Mandy, who shows up in book one, is the main character for book two and will also have to deal with this issue. But her question is: Can she be a big fish in a small pond (town)? (You can sign up for free book updates on my website: )

For those interested in seeing Blueberry Springs in all its interfering, supportive glory it is currently free in all ebook formats (read it on your ereader, tablet, phone, or computer!):

One woman. Two men. One meddling small town. Raised by her older sister in the small town of Blueberry Springs, all Beth Wilkinson wants is to create a family so big she’ll never be alone. Things are going great until her accountant fiancé, Oz, throws their life in the air, sending her on a journey of discovery paved with choices--including whether to return to her old life.

Jean Oram

Chick Lit Author With SNAP!

Read Book 1 in the Blueberry Springs Series is now FREE! Champagne and Lemon Drops ~ All formats on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble as well as on


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