Melissa Foster On The Writing Process + Writing Great Novel Openings

melissascarf author photo FINALName: Melissa Foster
Author’s Website , Twitter,
Women’s Social Network, Facebook Fan Page, Goodreads, Fostering Success, World Literary Café
Hometown: Rockville, MD
Based In: Maryland
Briefly: NY Times and USA Today Bestseller, Have No Shame; 2013 Readers Favorite Award, Gold Medal Winner (Southern Fiction), 2013 Readers Favorite Award, Finalist (Historical Romance). Traces of Kara awards: 2013 Dan Poynter’s Global eBook Award, Gold Medal Winner (Thriller), 2013 Dan Poynter’s Global eBook Award, Bronze Medal Winner (Suspense). Megan’s Way Awards: 2011 Beach Book Award Winner (Spirituality), 2011 Readers Favorite Awards,Winner (Fiction/Drama), Finalist (Women’s Fiction), 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Award, Finalist (Spirituality), 2011 New England Book Festival, Honorable Mention (Spirituality). Chasing Amanda:
2011 Readers Favorite Awards, Winner (Paranormal), Finalist, (Women’s Fiction, Mystery), 2011 Dan Poynter’s Global eBook Awards, Winner, (Paranormal), Top 10 Books of 2011, Pixel of Ink
Amazon Top 100 75+ Days running
Indie Reader’s Bestselling List That Counts (8 weeks)
Top Books of 2011, The Write Agenda

Come Back With Me
2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Finalist; 2012 Readers Favorite Awards, Finalist; 2012 Kindle Book Review Best Indie Books Award, Finalist; 2011 Dan Poynter’s Global Ebook Awards, Finalist, Top 5 Must Read Books of 2011, IndieReader, Top Ten Books of 2011, Tea Time With Marce, IndieReader Best Reviewed Books of 2011, Huffington Post.

Favorite Read: The Lovely Bones.

Pet Peeves: When someone eats all the chocolate and doesn’t replenish the stock.

If You Weren’t a Writer You’d Be…I can’t even imagine this…

When you think of your childhood, what’s the first book-related images that come to mind?

Me sitting in a tree reading every afternoon during the summer.

Sisters in Love begins with one of your protagonists getting accidentally hurt at a cafe. This opening scene is very telling about one of the characters Danica. When you’re writing the opening chapter of a book, what do you strive for? To slowly pull in the reader, or do hit them with a bang and get them immediately intrigued?

When I write the opening of the book I listen to my main character and how they want to be heard. The goal is always to write a compelling, relatable scene that readers will love. Sometimes that stars with a bang, other times, like with Where Petals Fall, a story will open with a softer, more emotional touch.

That book is the start of a new series. Do you have each book in the series already plotted out?

Each book in the series is written. There are nine books in the Love in Bloom series, and they will all be published by January 2014. An additional five Love in Bloom novels will release in early 2014 in a sub-series called The Remingtons.

melissa foster

Where do you get the inspiration to write some of these strong women characters?

The main inspiration comes from the women in my life; my mother, friends, acquaintances. I think in today’s world it’s important for women to be strong. They don’t have to be able to handle everything—no one can—but the idea of damsels in distress doesn’t feel realistic to me. Men and women have insecurities and flaws, and I try to these into the stories in a realistic fashion.

Have you written all your books in the same spot?

No. I moved a few years ago and when I we lived in our farmhouse I wrote in three rooms. Where we currently live I write in my office, which I adore.

How does a writer get better at his or her craft?

One of the things I love most about being a writer is that we can always hone our craft. Every day, every week, every year, we can grow as writers. I find the best ways to learn are by reading – voraciously – and working closely with a developmental editor. I learn from my developmental editor and my copy editor every time we work together.

Do you think a book’s cover design plays a big role in pulling in a reader?

Absolutely. I’m a cover girl. The first thing that draws me in is the cover. If I like the cover I read the synopsis. If that seems interesting I read the first three pages. If I love it, I buy it.

You host a writing contest for children who aim to become authors.

I used to host several each year, but this year I’ve had to cut back due to my publishing schedule, and I hosted just one contest. My goal is to make writing fun for kids, and to inspire them to write what they find interesting. We have an interactive discussion about writing, and then I give the kids a beginner’s writer kit. They then have two weeks to write their stories, which are then judged. The winners receive prizes, and everyone who enters wins a certificate. We have a lot of fun with the contests.

How did you determine that the first Love in Bloom book was going to be a series?

I fell in love with my characters, and the moment I started writing about Danica, Kaylie, Blake, and Chaz, I knew that I wanted to follow them through several years. The Bradens —books four through nine—of Love in Bloom—include have the Snow sisters, and in the later Snow Sisters novels readers begin to meet The Bradens. In my next series, The Remingtons, both the Snow sisters and the Bradens will be present at different times. I am really connected with my characters, and the idea of saying goodbye to them would be a total bummer.

What’s the most valuable lesson that you’ve learned about book marketing?

Marketing is not about sales. Its about building relationships.

Did you do any crying while writing Where Petals Fall?

I cry when I write almost every one of my books. Junie’s story brought me to tears, and I still think of her now, months after writing the book.

I notice that you’ve done all these cute little trailers to go with some of your books. Do you think that book trailers are must-do tools?

I enjoy making trailers, which is why I have them. I have not had time to make them for the Love in Bloom series, though I wish I had, and maybe one day I will have time to slow down and create them. I think trailers are a fun way to get your stories out and expand your readership umbrella, but they’re not a “must have” tool. They’re niceties.

Can you tell us about the writing process of Traces of Kara.

Traces of Kara was so much fun to write, and very difficult at the same time. I researched by visiting and touring a local power plant that was in the process of closing. It was one of the creepiest places I’ve ever been in, and it was the basis of the layout for the story. Traces of Kara is a dark read, and while writing it, it really put me into a dark place. There were nights that it was difficult to put Roland Greer out of my head, and when I drive through town, I still look for his truck.

What makes a great suspense novel?

Traces of Kara moves from one dark point to the next, and I think the combination of the emotions of Kara’s mother and the suspense of Kara’s plight, make it a great suspense novel.

Looking back at your career thus far, are there certain things you wish you had done differently?

Oh gosh, I think we learn from our mistakes, and I’m a firm believer in everything in life happening for a reason. For that reason, even if I could change things, I probably wouldn’t. But there are things I would have liked to do differently, like work with my developmental editor two years earlier and push myself to write faster.

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