Second Chances 


It's my pleasure to welcome Valerie Maarten on my blog today. Not only is she a great author, she also does so much to help out fellow indies! You should check out her fab website Indie Authors Unite for more info.

About Valerie

Valerie Maarten has been writing ever since she discovered that letters made sounds and a combination of letters made words. It wasn't until recently that she decided to share her work. 

She can generally be found with pen and paper in hand, scribbling the next storyline or reading one of her many “favorite” authors. Although she has an eclectic taste in what she reads, there isn't a romance sub-genre that she will pass up. 

She currently lives in Orlando, FL with her three sons, plotting to write the next story in her head that needs to be told.

Until then...

Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
It was a story that was in my head and heart for a long time.  Finally the voices became too loud to ignore so I put pen to paper and began telling Joy’s story.

What is your latest novel?
My latest published novel is “Second Chances” which is another real-life drama with a happily ever after.

I've read this, Val, and it's a great read! What inspired you to write the book?
The short answer is…life.  I’m constantly wondering what would happen if?  There are a multitude of things to write about if a person were to just look around them.  I happen to write about real-life with a happily ever after.

I love a good HEA! What’s your favourite part of writing a novel?
Ooh, my favourite part is when the characters become independent and decide to write their own version of events.  Sometimes I’m just the conduit for their voices and will allow them free reign.

I hear ya! My characters take on a life of their own - they're soooo disobedient! Are there any aspects of writing you struggle with?
The only aspect that I tend to struggle with is being focused.  I’m easily distracted and lack discipline, at times.  But then I believe that it’s my inner voice’s way of letting me know they don’t like where I’m going with the story and they put me on a time-out.

Where do you get your ideas from?
Most of my stories are just conjured from my vivid imagination.  As I’ve said earlier, life offers plenty of material to write about.  I just fictionalize a scenario and expound on it.

How long does it take to complete a novel?
If I feel really compelled by a story, it can take me a couple of weeks to draft it, then flesh it out.  Maybe about 1 month…tops.  That’s if there are no “shiny” objects around to distract me.  LOL

Pretty quick, then, you speedy chick! I'm the same - usually around a month to write the first draft. Did you query agents or traditional publishers before self-publishing?
No.  I have to admit that I never considered becoming a published Author until ePublishing became an option.  

How did you handle the rejection letters?
Not applicable.  I have never sent one.  However, if I had I’d treat it like I do most things in my life.  If one person says no, I’ll just keep going until I get a yes.  I’m relentless that way.


Me too - good job, as well, as I got over 200 rejections! What’s your writing process?
Most people think I’m a dinosaur when I explain my process, but I chalk it up to habit.  I get pen, paper and a comfortable chair and begin outlining my story.  Once that’s done, I will begin writing dialogue *generally in a screenplay format.*  At this point, I begin to write and refer back to my notes when I get off track.  Sometimes I just go with the flow of my writing and make adjustments during the editing process.
What factors influenced your decision to self-publish?
I found that I had time on my hands and my son “challenged” me to write and publish it.  Just a little history, I have a zillion stories in varying stages of completion.  So, I took him up on it and wrote and published “The Gift of Joy” within the month.  Never could resist a challenge.


Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Yes.  Read…a lot.  Write…a lot.  And network with other Authors.  There is no clear road map to becoming a successful Author, but there is plenty to learn from one another.

Great advice. I've learned so much from some fab indies in the last year! What's next in the pipeline? 
I’m currently working on my WIP “Forget Me Not” that I hope will be released in April 2011

Do you think your books would translate well to the big screen? If so who would you like to see play your lead characters?
Definitely.  But I think most Authors see their books as a movie…in their heads, at least.  For “The Gift of Joy” I’d love to see Kate Bosworth play the role of Joy and Eric Bana play the role of Gabe.  I know there’s an age disparity, but it’s my movie…right?  And I do love him LOL

Tell me three random things about yourself.
I love to laugh and make people laugh.  I hate to hear people complain about things they’ve never tried before and I have a list of places I’d like to visit.  I resist calling it a “bucket list” for fear that if I accomplish it one day, I’ll die LOL

I can vouch for Val's sense of humor and fun! What do you do when you’re not writing?
Reading is my equal passion to writing, though I seem to have less and less time for that lately.

OMG, tell me about it! I'm trying to keep up with my Indie Books Reading Challenges this year but having the time to read sometimes is hard. Do you write in just one genre?
I have published in one genre, but I have written in every genre imaginable.  Though I will admit the common element is romance.  I love paranormal, humour, historical romance, time-travel…you name it, I’ve dabbled in it all.  One day I’ll publish those too.

Do you use Social Media for marketing your novels?
I do, but have yet to find the right combination.  In a sense, I guess it is all trial and error.  The only thing you can hope for is to learn along the way.

Who are your writing influences?
I’ve read voraciously throughout my life, but my single most influential writer of all time has to be Maya Angelou.

If you weren’t writing, what would be your favourite job?
I’d be a reviewer or editor.  Something that will allow me a chance to be a part of the writing/publishing process.  Sorry, was that a cheat answer LOL


It was, you minx! Which five people would you invite for dinner?
Maya Angelou, Barack Obama and his Michelle *that should count as one*, Oprah Winfrey, Linda S. Prather *because she’s one of the most generous, kindest people I know in real life…and of course, you ~kissing up~

Aw, you sweetie! I'd love to come! Sounds like it would be an interesting night! Describe your latest novel in fifteen words or fewer.
“A journey of life, love, forgiveness and the ultimate sacrifices we make because of it.”

What are you reading at the moment?
I’m ashamed ~holding head down~ I have 97 ebooks I’ve purchased over the course of 2 months and have not carved out the time to read.  If it’s any consolation, I have decided the order in which I’ll read them when I get the time.

Eeek! I thought I was bad with 45! What three things would you add to your bucket list of things to do.
My bucket list is ever growing…so that I will live forever ~insert maniacal laughter here~  1) travel to all of the places on my list 2) Form an organization that consistently help Self-Published Authors realize their dreams of becoming successful Bestsellers 3) Plan an annual event with some of the wonderful Authors I’ve met to celebrate and enjoy each other’s company.

Well, I think the Indie Authors Unite website is living up to number 2 on your list! And no 3 sounds great - let me know where and when! Do you write full time? If not, how do you balance writing with another job?
Unfortunately, I don’t sell enough books to sustain myself full-time by writing.  I don’t have any rhyme or reason to my madness.  I write when I feel the mood.  I’ve been known to sit in my car and write, type, research.  It is a tough balance, but I make it work for me.

Do your characters talk to you?
Yes…and they wake me up some nights and I have to sit up and jot down their ramblings.

Have you ever used a friend or foe as a character? 
Not yet.  I don’t want any of my friends angry with me if I have to kill them off and I don’t give my enemies a second thought.  Although I can use them if I have a few characters that need to be “offed”….Hmmm!


Absolutely - off with their heads! 
 
About Second Chances


WHEN YOU ARE FACED WITH THE HARSH REALITIES OF LIFE...

Kadi Crowe has spent her entire life believing in the innocence of her father, convicted of murder. But could she prove it?

ONLY TO BE BURDENED BY BITTERNESS AND HATRED...

Dain McKnight waited for the day to come when he could wield his own brand of justice befitting a cold-blooded killer.

MERCIFUL FATE STEPS IN AND OFFER SECOND CHANCES…

 
Second Chances is available from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, B&N, and Smashwords.


Review:
Review by: Stephanie Overton on Mar. 23, 2011 :      
What to say about this book? Hmm, Second Chances. Well, I started it this morning around 5:45am and here it is 4:06pm and I am writing a review! Mind you I had to stop to be a mom and do some school work. 

Second Chances is about just that, second chances. It shows that for everything there is a reason, even if you can't see it at the moment that it's happening. Maybe, just maybe you can finish this book with the feeling that there is still good in this world and people do forgive, people can . . at times . . admit when they were wrong about something. AND maybe, just maybe you can walk away from this book looking at others in a different light. You NEVER know what life it is that they have had . . get to know a person before you judge them. This book for sure shows the way things can go from good to bad so quickly and just how it can take a million times that to make it go back to good. 

I completely enjoyed this book, and would highly recommend it.

Thanks so much for your time, Valerie! 

Happy reading!

Sibel XX