Melody has another release out as well, Oops A Daisy. Again, you may visit her website to learn more.
If you are interested in participating in Twenty Questions, here are the details.
Now let's hear from Melody about her writing.
1. How did you get interested in writing?
I was teaching music and needed to keep my certification by continuing my education. I asked if I could take some other classes in the arts besides music, and the answer was positive. So I took a writing course, wrote an article, got it published, and I was hooked.
2. What inspired you to come up with this story?
I am a lover of history and a lover of all things royal. I was reading about some of the history of European royals and came across an interesting tidbit. Royals would sometimes marry another royal they had never met, based merely upon a miniature portrait of them. I thought I might have the nugget of an interesting historical story when I read that piece of information.
3. Tell me about the main character, Anika Pembrie, and what inspired you to create her.
I knew I wanted to write a story with a strong female protagonist with a heart for people. She would have to have access to royalty, even if she was not royal herself. So I had her mother be the daughter of an Earl, and had the Pembrie family home be located next door to the palace. Even though Anika did not go to school with him, Prince Valdemar would then be ‘the boy next door’. Literally. I didn’t want to create a shallow character that would only be interested in the fact that he bore a title. I wanted to create a person of depth who would see past that and have a heart that would look for ways she could help him and not vice-versa.
4. What characters, other than Anika, did you find enjoyable to write as you progressed with the book?
I love writing stories featuring pesky little children and the stable boy, Finn, certainly knows how to get under people’s skin. Prince Valdemar is carefree, friendly and a bit naïve, considering his station. So he was a fun character to flesh out. Creating characters is kind of like predicting the weather. You take an educated guess as to how they will react when put in a particular situation and then you cross your fingers and hope their actions are believable. Trying to dig deep into their psyche is what makes any character fun to write.
5. What are some of the themes you explored in writing the novel?
The idea of making your own way in life, regardless of what others think of you or expect from you was probably the main theme, at least in my mind. Also, the idea of having goals and striving to reach them, even if they are difficult to reach. The value of loyalty, friendship, family and a strong faith in God and how they can all help us deal with adversity, was another idea I hope comes across in the story.
6. What did you learn along the way as you wrote and edited the book?
The characters won’t always be completely fleshed out in the first draft. Several of the characters weren’t fully formed in my mind until the final draft. Also, to keep track of the subplots and make sure they all get tied up at the end. As my books have gotten edited by others I’ve seen that what is in my head doesn’t always make it to the page. I’ll leave information and events out, assuming the reader will put two and two together, but they can’t always do that if I haven’t provided them with enough information to do that.
7. I see you have written another book, Oops-a-Daisy. Tell me a little more about that book.
Oops-a-Daisy is a quirky story set in modern day Miami and features a twelve-year-old protagonist named Daisy De La Cruz. She attends a school with a focus on the arts, where she hopes to learn all she can in order to become the next acting and singing sensation. Her nurturing music teacher leaves and is replaced by a stiff, no-nonsense, former opera singer. So the story is about Daisy trying to impress him, but getting embarrassed by her dog and her quirky family members who keep ending up in embarrassing situations that the professor ends up witnessing.
8. How did the experiences writing Royally Entitled and Oops-a-Daisy compare?
ROYALLY ENTITLED was inspired by research. OOPS-A-DAISY sprang more from my experiences of performing, teaching music and living in Florida. It is also a quirky, comedy, where ROYALLY ENTITLED has a few light moments, but is more of a romance, mystery. I spent two months researching European traditions that occurred during the Renaissance and wrote pages and pages of notes in order to write ROYALLY ENTITLED. For OOPS-A-DAISY, I visited an arts magnet school, had lunch with faculty members who teach there, did a bit of research about child performers and spent a few days in Miami. Because it is set in modern times, I didn’t have to include so many details about place and setting, so I found myself free to really focus on the characters, how they interact with each other and felt free to think up zany, crazy situations to put them all in.
9. What do you find is the right environment for you to write?
I need quiet, quiet, quiet with few distractions. I write while my son is in school and my husband is at work. I have to be able to think and speak my character’s lines out loud without anyone feeling like they have to call the people in white jackets. ;)
10. Are there specific programs or tools you find useful to help you with the writing process?
I really need to have a good idea of the major plot points in a story before I sit down to write. I spend a good bit of time plotting and planning by hand, using a notebook, before I sit down to type anything. Too many scenes end up in the dumpster when I don’t plan ahead. I use the nine box method to help me stay on track. When I feel lost in a story or I’m not sure about the order of events, I go back to what is supposed to happen in each box, and that will usually clear up any confusion about what needs to happen when, but not always. I also depend upon my critique group to give me honest feedback and tell me when something is not working. And while I do plan ahead, I don’t feel boxed in by expectations of any certain genre. Many romance novels have the love interest marked out very clearly through the story. Life isn’t so predictable, so I try to have my stories not be easily predictable or formulaic either. While ROYALLY ENTITLED is a romance, there is also a bit of mystery and who Anika will end up with is not a foregone conclusion. In OOPS-A-DAISY my main character succeeding is also not a foregone conclusion either. Both of my main characters experience some major setbacks to their plans.
11. What have you found to be useful methods for promoting your writing?
We’ve yet to see if my methods prove useful! With my first novel just being released, I am still in the learning phase myself. But I used to be shy about telling people I was a writer. Now I let it be known to my family and friends. I am active on twitter. I carry bookmarks of my book cover with me. I’m hosting a book giveaway on my website. I’ll probably host others also.
12. What are some of the famous books or authors you have enjoyed or inspired you?
Old books full of heart like Anne of Green Gables and Little Women are still my favorites. They pulled me in to read and then inspired me to write.
13. Any aspiring or independent authors whose books you’ve read that you liked and want to mention to others to check out?
I read STIM by Kevin Berry and while some of the humor was not to my taste, some of it was laugh-out-loud funny. It was well-written and inspiring since it was written by someone with Aspergers, so hats off to him. Bravo to any independent author who has the energy to run the entire show. There is so much work involved in launching a book, so anyone who can do it all certainly has my respect.
14. What advice would you give to those who want to write a novel before they actually get started?
I hate to state the obvious, but you’ve got to be a reader before you can be a writer. Don’t read just any book. Read well-written books. Get in touch with what topics interest you. When you set out to write a novel, you will be in that world with those characters for a long time. The genre and topic of the novel has to be something that interests you. Don’t write about something you don’t want to think about every single day, because those characters and that setting will be with you every day you’re writing.
15. Tell me more about your work in music, vocal studies and the concerts in which you have performed.
I started singing in a pop group in college while I studied classical voice from Yvonne Ciannella and Thomas Palmer, who were both opera singers. Florida State has a wonderful music program. I studied with D’anna Fortunato at New England Conservatory. I’ve done concerts at universities featuring modern music by modern composers. A lot of these concerts have been called Festivals of New Music because the music is avante-garde. You know, a pianist plucking the piano strings instead of playing the keys. Violinists plucking the strings instead of using their bows. Time signatures that constantly change, that sort of thing. Stuff that is really unusual. I also sing Gospel so I have sung at conferences and different churches. I’ve also written gospel songs, some of which have been performed in church. I was really trying my hand at different things in music, so I’ve done a lot of things all across the board.
16. What were some of the charity events you have organized?
Anything that has been initiated has been done along with my husband. Our main thing a few years back was to go into inner-city neighborhoods and distribute toys on Christmas Eve, bringing along Santa and his horse-driven sleigh, and letting kids get a ride with Santa. I’ve got many photos of this, but they are dark because this happened at night, so I haven’t been able to post any on my website.
17. What are some of the specific Middle East projects you have been involved with?
Along with a group of about fifteen other volunteers we went to a place in Bethany in Israel, called ‘The Sisters of Mercy’. It is a combination hospital, orphanage etc. We painted murals, visited with patients and brought toys to the children and tried to interact with them. They had absolutely nothing to play with and would just sit idle in their cribs. That’s the unbelievable type of poverty that we saw.
18. One I noticed in particular at your website was your visit to the Spafford House in Jerusalem. What was that experience like?
The kids and staff were absolutely wonderful. Warm and caring. We did puppet shows for them. I sang with the children and performed with them. It was more just being there for them and interacting with them since they had no families to speak of.
19. What can you tell me about your experiences as a public speaker?
I’ve been a lay speaker for years in churches and at retreats. I speak on women’s issues and try to use women in the bible like Ruth, Naomi, Abigail and Hannah to serve as examples for the types of women we should be like today. I’ve also spoken at events for writers where I discuss things such as how to start your novel, flesh out your characters and find your personal writing niche.
20. Who would win a battle of superhero skills: Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman?
Wonder Woman, because Girl Power always rocks! Look out, boys!!