Saturday, March 22, 2014

Blog Tour: Siren's Song by Heather McCollum @HMcCollumAuthor @SpencerHillP

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 photo 18389180_zpse4144388.jpgJule Welsh can sing. She enthralls people with her bel canto voice. But it takes more than practice to reach her level of exquisite song; it takes siren's blood running through her veins. Jule is starting her senior year at Cougar Creek High when her relatively normal world begins to resemble a roller coaster flying through a carnival scare house. Her mother is diagnosed as insane and committed, a psycho-stalker is snapping pictures of her to put into his homemade Jule-shrine, her voice is suddenly putting people into comatose trances, oh and the gorgeous new guy in town, Luke Whitmore, is interested in her . . . but also wants to kill her.

Title: Siren's Song
Author: Heather McCollum
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Expected Publication Date: March 25, 2014




Today we welcome Heather for an interview!

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you want to be something else? 
I suppose, as with most writers, I’ve been putting pen to paper since I was a little kid. However, by the time I was in high school, I’d decided that I didn’t want people telling me how to write (LOL!), that criticism would take the fun out of it.
So I decided to major in Biology in college, much to the dismay of my English teachers. After earning a BA in Biology, I was accepted into graduate school, working toward a PhD in Cellular Immunology. After a year and a half working in a lab while attending classes, I decided that I didn’t want to work with petri dishes and melanoma cells. I went to work at a pharmaceutical development company.
But most nights when I came home and on the weekends, I’d write. And somewhere along the way I realized that criticism wouldn’t crush me. At last I became brave enough to be a writer.
How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
My typical book length is 100K words so it takes me a little time to weave in all my sub plots. The fastest I’ve written a full-length book is four months, but six months if more typical.
How are you able to balance other aspects of your life with your writing?
Balance – now that’s a struggle! And even though I actually give work-life balance workshops, I struggle to plan out my days carefully in an attempt to stay in the middle of life’s teeter totter.
I have three kids in three different schools (high school, middle, and elementary), so I spend a lot of my time running them to sports practices, meet-ups with friends, and school functions. I’m also an ovarian cancer survivor so I spend time educating women on the symptoms. I live by my calendar and try to find time between all my obligations to exercise too. Whew – yes, a struggle. More like a war!
What was the hardest thing about writing a book?
Finding uninterrupted time to write. Breathing life into fictional characters takes a lot of mental energy. And mental energy is non-existent when one is frazzled. Thank goodness for school days when the house is quiet and my frazzled level lowers. Only then does my muse come out to play : )
How many books have you written so far? Do you have a favorite? 
I’ve written eleven books so far. Nine of them are full-length and two are novellas. A writer’s favorite is usually the one they are currently working on, which would be the sequel to Siren’s Song. But Siren’s Song has a special place in my heart as it is my first Young Adult book and I dedicated it to my 15yo daughter. She stars in the book trailer which you can see here: Siren's Song Book Trailer
Where do you write?  
Just about anywhere I can find some peace. I do have a lovely little writing desk, which I’ve named Eleri. I can see my tulips coming up outside the window in front of me. I just bought a second-hand tiffany style lamp to set on Eleri, making her even lovelier. I named the lamp Jule after the heroine in Siren’s Song.
But if the kids are home and playing Minecraft on the kids’ computer in the same room (nope, I don’t have an office all to myself), then I escape with my lap top onto the screened back porch if the weather is nice. I can listen to the wind and birds out there. During my lengthy health issues, my back porch was my sanctuary, and it still is today.
When I have very busy, kid-oriented or doctor-filled days, I take my Neo (a light-weight word processor) with me and catch snippets of writing time waiting in doctor’s offices or sitting in car pool. I download what I wrote directly into my lap top when I get home. It’s great for the writer on the run!
Have you gotten feedback from family about your book(s)? What do they think?
They are fabulous and very proud of my writing. My mom talks me up to her bible study groups. And even though my adult books usually have large, naked, male chests on them, her friends buy them.
My husband carries my bookmarks around with him and hands them out. He’s wonderful about that since I never seem to have a bookmark on me. In fact I usually have a tissue sticking out of the book I’m reading. Geesh – you’d think that when you order 2000 bookmarks, you’d actually have one to use! When I do book signing for my Scottish books, he comes in his kilt. He’s my Highland hero!
What kinds of things do you like to do outside of writing?
I’m an ovarian cancer survivor. I was diagnosed in 2011, underwent major surgery, fought my way through fifteen months of hellish chemo, and worked hard for six more months to recover the ability to walk. I was stage II (having found it early due to a completely unrelated accident), so I was given a 70% chance of living 5 years. If I had been stage III, I’d have only been given a 20% chance. So early detection is hugely important. Unfortunately the symptoms are very quiet.

My husband and I started the SHOUT Against the Whisper campaign to educate women on the whispered symptoms of this sneaky, vicious disease that strikes 1 in 72 women. We hand out symptom cards to thousands of women each year and I speak to women’s groups about it.

The main symptoms of ovarian cancer include:
Persistent bloating
Pelvic pain        
Eating less & feeling fuller
Urinary tract issues

Other symptoms may include: fatigue, constipation, indigestion, back pain, pain during intercourse and menstrual issues. If you experience one or more of these symptoms every day for three weeks or more, please see your GYN.

I am now thankfully in remission and hope to stay that way forever. The youngest survivor I’ve met was sixteen when she was diagnosed, so this is a disease that can strike any woman. Please listen to your body.

What kinds of advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing? 
1.    Keep writing. Don’t give up if it feeds your soul.
2.   Listen to critiques, sometimes the reviewer is spot on. I came in third place in a big contest. The final judge was an editor and told me I’d written the ending wrong based on my heroine’s motivation. At first I was upset, but then I realized she was right. I rewrote the ending and sold that book. 
3.   Try different processes for producing pages until you find what works for you. I collage, listen to a soundtrack, walk my dog and diagram out the plots on a huge white board. Some people use index cards or computer programs to keep track of their scenes.
4.   Use positive affirmations to convince yourself that you will sell. Once you are certain, it’s just a matter of when. “I am a successful, published author.” That was one of my favorites. I used to say it to myself in the mirror every day.

Are you working on anything now? 
Oh yes! I’m writing the intense, fast-paced sequel to Siren’s Song. I think we will call it Awakening. It follows Luke’s sister, Taylin, after…well I can’t really go into that or I’d give away the first book. It’s fantastic, and I’m falling in love with Taylin more and more each day as I explore her psyche.  

Thank you so much for having me here today! For more information about me, my books, and/or ovarian cancer please check out my web site at www.HeatherMcCollum.com. I can also be found on Twitter at @HMcCollumAuthor and on Facebook at HeatherMcCollumAuthor.


Thanks so much for stopping by today Heather! Good luck with your release!

 photo 4185696_zps337399fa.jpgHeather McCollum is an award winning, historical paranormal romance writer. She earned her B.A. in Biology from the University of Maine, much to her English professor’s dismay. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers and the Ruby Slipper Sisterhood of 2009 Golden Heart Finalists.

The ancient magic and lush beauty of Great Britain entranced Ms. McCollum’s heart and imagination when she visited there years ago. The country’s history and landscape have been a backdrop for her writing ever since. She currently resides with her very own Highland hero and three spirited children in the wilds of suburbia on the mid-Atlantic coast.a Rafflecopter giveaway

4 comments:

  1. The cover draws you in, and after reading the synopsis one can't help but want to read it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Heather, I'll bet the Cover Contessa love your cover since she has a special place in her heart for all thing purple ;-). I can't wait to read Siren's Song and I'm so excited about your YA book!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. The Title caught my eye, then I read the synopsis & I was hooked.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm such a cover whore ;-) Also I love anything to do with mythology or legends so the title as well.
    Brittany

    ReplyDelete

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