Today, I want to introduce you to a dear friend, Amy Atwell. We have shared the journey to publication together, and I'm so happy for her because her first published ebook, Lying Eyes, was released from Carina Press this month. This wonderful woman has more energy than ten people, and I'm so jealous of her. lol I belong to one of her GIAM groups and it's a fantastic place to be if you're a serious writer.
Amy Atwell worked in professional theater for 15 years before turning from the stage to the page to write fiction. She wrote non-fiction projects for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the National Park Service, Virginia Tech and Georgia Shakespeare Festival and has had two plays commissioned and produced. She now gives her imagination free rein in both contemporary and historical stories that combine adventure and romance. An Ohio native, Amy has lived all across the country and now resides on a barrier island in Florida with her husband and two Russian Blues. Her debut romantic suspense novel, Lying Eyes, is available at Carina Press.
Briefly take us on the journey with you – when did you start writing and what hurdles did you have to overcome to get published?
I wrote stories, songs and poetry from a very young age. In high school, I took creative writing instead of composition. But I started seriously contemplating writing with an eye on publication in graduate school. Of course, thinking it and doing it were very different things. In 2000, I finished my first manuscript. By 2005, I’d written two more and had a dozen others started. My mom died very suddenly that year, and that set my writing back. I finished a book a few months later, but then all but stopped writing for nearly 18 months. It wasn’t until late in 2007 that I got serious about it again.
What’s been the greatest contributing factor to achieving your goal of publication?
Honestly, knowing I was never alone in this quest to be published. I’m so fortunate to have made dozens of friends with other writers around the globe. So many have helped me, and I’ve been proud to do what I can to pay it forward. In 2004 I started a writing community for goal-oriented writers. (http://www.writinggiam.com) Not only have I watched many others (including Sandy here!) sell, but the group helped hold me together during the dark times.
What has surprised you the most about being a published author?
How much time everything takes! Many authors who are print-published have a year or more between when they sell the story and when the book comes out. I’ve had a 5-month turnaround. Suddenly, my website seemed old-school, and I’ve been engulfed in “social networking.” Add in three rounds of edits, extra scenes to be written for the book, cover art and copy for marketing, and I realize I’m not just an author, I’m an entrepreneur. I can only hope one day I’ll have a staff, but so far, the cats don’t seem willing to help.
How do you come up with your story ideas?
That’s the easy part for me. I come up with ideas all the time. I keep a document saved on my computer with character names, situations, locations, impressions of anything I’ve seen or heard and general conflicts. I love all types of stories, so I’ve written historicals and contemporary comedies as well as suspense. I got the idea for Lying Eyes from the Eagles’ song title. I thought it would make a fun name for a high end costume jewelry shop. Then I added a jewelry designer, a thief with a secret, set it in Las Vegas, and then Cosmo the magician showed up and, well, you get the idea.
Do you have a favorite author?
I have a bunch. Georgette Heyer, Dick Francis, Tom Clancy, E.B. White, Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, Alexandre Dumas, Jules Verne, Susan Wiggs, Jill Barnett and Elswyth Thane.
What did you want to be when you grew up at the ages of 6, 13 and 24?
Hmmm, at the age of 6 I probably wanted to be a veterinarian. At 13 I longed to own a horse farm and train horses. At 24, I was planning a career in professional theater stage and production management. I can safely say I never aspired to “grow up.”
Tell us a little bit about your next book? Will it be a romantic suspense or some other genre?
I’m working on another Vegas romantic suspense/comedy titled Cheating Hearts, which is the sequel to Lying Eyes. I even have a trip to Las Vegas planned to attend the National Finals Rodeo as part of my research for Stealing Kisses, which will wrap up the trilogy. But my other project is a mainstream historical set during the Wars of the Roses. It borders on “creative nonfiction” since it features mostly real characters and events from history.
What did you do when you got the call? You know the one saying they wanted it. Grin.
I have the dullest Call Story imaginable. My agent called to let me know we had the offer. I was thrilled to know that Carina wanted the story, but we also still had two other submissions out. Eventually, we opted not to wait on both those responses before accepting the Carina Press offer. But it always felt like there was another step in the process. The contract, the edits, the marketing questionnaire. Honestly, the day it all came together for me was the day I saw my cover art for the first time. I cried tears of joy. It’s a great cover.
I can certainly see why you love this cover, it's gorgeous.
Would you like to tell us about your release, Lying Eyes? How did you come up with the idea?
In Lying Eyes, a Las Vegas costume jewelry designer discovers her illusions of a satisfying life can't hold a candle to true love when she forges a dangerous alliance with a hot thief to try and rescue her aging father Cosmo, a tricky magician who's disappeared and left behind nothing but a mystery of stolen gems, a carload of Russian relatives, an overfed rabbit, a hired gunman, and two sisters she never knew she had. You can also check out the full back cover “blurb” on my Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/amyatwell.author under the Discussions tab.
I mentioned some of the ideas above, but once I settled on the notion of the title, and then came up with the other two titles, and then Cosmo the crazy magician appeared, I started threading it all together into one trilogy. The original concept was based loosely on Charlie’s Angels. I wanted three women characters who didn’t know each other that well to have to work together to find Cosmo. Like Charlie, Cosmo wasn’t intended to be seen “onstage.” Well, Cosmo changed that theory when he showed up in the first scene.
Here is a blurb from Amy's story, Lying Eyes:
Her jewels were real, but her life was fake.
No-nonsense jewelry designer Iris Fortune yearns for a normal life. But life as Vegas magician Cosmo Fortune’s daughter is anything but normal, especially since dear old Dad is also a scam artist. When Cosmo’s latest scheme goes awry and he pulls a real-life disappearing act, Iris is left holding the bag.
Now Iris must be a master of illusion—play the poised partner to her politician fiancé while trying to save her father and stay out of reach of Mickey Kincaid, the sexy thief who claims he's only after her jewels.
Detective Kincaid is deep undercover and seeks Iris out because of her connection to Cosmo—he never expected to be so drawn to her. While working with Iris to find the elusive conman, Mickey learns a killer has Iris in his sights, and he must do everything he can to save her, without blowing his cover.
Mickey's put his life on the line before, but never his heart—and now he’s not sure which is more dangerous…
Could you give us an excerpt of Lying Eyes? I'm sure my readers would love to read a little of your story.
from Chapter Two
Releasing a frustrated huff, Iris pushed her work lamp out of the way and climbed off her stool. Her fingers ached as she slid the magnifying goggles from her face and blinked a few times to bring her vision back to real-world size. Wow, she’d been at it for over an hour. Usually focusing her energy on her work relaxed her, took her to another place. Today was a lost cause—this latest Cosmo crisis was a nightmare.
Worst of all, she couldn’t reach him. Cosmo always answered his calls or returned them as soon as possible. She’d left a message last night when she got home and another this morning after that detective had left the store.
“Iris, telephone!” Ginny, her perpetually cute assistant, stuck her head in the doorway of the store’s design studio. Seeing Iris free, she brought the cordless phone, her hand over the mouthpiece. “Someone named Mickey, and he sounds positively sinful.”
“Give me that.”
Ginny handed over the phone and waited until Iris pointed her to the door. With a laugh like some invisible fairy tickled her, she shot back out to the sales floor.
Iris waited until she was sure she was alone. Not that she had anything to hide. “Iris Fortune.”
“I hear the police visited you this morning. Guess your dad’s really MIA, huh?”
Her heart fluttered at the rich timbre of his voice. “What do you want?”
“What did he say when he called you last night?”
“Don’t play dumb. Cosmo called you on your cell at the party last night.”
She recalled the glass of red wine and Mickey’s intense dark eyes watching her from the shadows. Squaring her shoulders, she perched on her stool. “You were spying on me.”
He laughed. “Don’t sound so outraged. Every guy in town would be spying on you if he had the chance. Now, what did he tell you?”
“He didn’t call, and I have no idea where he is. And if you keep harassing me, I’m going to tell the police about our little conversation last night.”
“No chance. If you were going to spill it about me, you would have done it already.” He sounded too cocksure of himself for her taste.
“How do you know I haven’t?”
“You wouldn’t be threatening to if you’d already done it.”
She pursed her lips, but said nothing.
“And you won’t give me up because—” Mickey’s voice dropped low. “Because, Iris Fortune, deep down, you’re worried about your dad. He may not be much, but he’s all the family you’ve got. You want him back, but you’re afraid he’s gotten himself into something so bad, the police won’t help him. You’re already thinking you might need ol’ Mickey here to help you out.”
“I am not.”
“No? Then think about it some more. I’ll look in on you later.”
“Later? Like tonight? I don’t know where I’ll be.” Recognizing the quickening of her pulse, Iris aligned her design tools into a neat row on the worktable.
“Doesn’t matter. I’ll find you.” The phone clicked and went dead.
“Damn.” Iris set the phone down with more force than she intended. She wasn’t sure whether her frustration stemmed from his threat to ruin her evening again or that he’d ended their conversation so abruptly. Neither reason was a good sign.
Amy, your blurb and excerpt sounds great. I'm dying to read Lying Eyes and the whole trilogy. I bought it the first day it was released. I haven't time to read it yet, but I've moved it to the top of my to read list. I wish you huge success in your writing career. Thank you for coming to visit me on my blog today.
Thanks so much for all your help--and inspiration along the way. Truly, it's been a joy watching other GIAMers get published. I'm pleased to be joining the ranks.
If you would like to learn more about Amy feel free to visit MWF every week at her blog, What's the Story?: http://www.amyatwell.com/blog and every other Tuesday at Magical Musings: http://www.magicalmusings.com/.
Here are the buy links:
Barnes & Noble
I hope you voracious readers out there read Amy's book, Lying Eyes, and add her to your list of favorite authors. Smile.
Until next Sunday, have a great week and a Happy Thanksgiving.