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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Author Interview & Contest with Shirley Damsgaard

I hope you will all join me in welcoming one of my favourite author guests back to Amberkatze's Book Blog! Shirley Damsgaard is an absolute star and I love her Abby & Ophelia Mysteries. This week the 7th book in the series is due out and I invited Shirley over to the blog to help celebrate.

So read the interview and make sure you enter the contest at the end! Shirley is giving away SEVEN books!

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Amber - Hello Shirley! Welcome back to Amberkatze's Book Blog! You have your seventh Abby and Ophelia book coming out! That must feel really good?

Shirley - Thanks for inviting me, Amber! It's always a pleasure to visit Amberkatze's Book Blog!

Yes, THE SEVENTH WITCH is coming out this week and I'm really excited! If someone would've told me eight years ago that I would not only write seven books, but be lucky enough to have them published, I never would've believed it! It's been a ride of a lifetime and it's been the support of blogs like yours and all those readers out there who've made it possible...I'll be forever grateful!

Amber - What can we expect from the new book? Can you tell us a little bit about The Seventh Witch?

Shirley - From the beginning of the series, I always knew that at some point I wanted to do a story in which Ophelia and Abby returned to Abby's birthplace. Since I'd never really spent much time in the South, I didn't know exactly how it would all happen, but then serendipity stepped in. About three years ago, I received an invitation to attend The Women's Expo in Kingsport, TN. Let me tell you...I jumped on that one! And thanks to the event's organizers, Sharon Robinson and Lydia Wiley, I had the opportunity to not only take a mini tour of the Blue Ridge Mountains, but interview women who practice folk magick. It was a terrific experience and I really hope I did justice to the wonderful people down there. But best of all, Amber, Lydia and Sharon are now two of my dearest friends. So I not only gained a story, but two friends!! *g* Doesn't get any better than that!

Now about the book...as I said, Ophelia, Abby, and Tink return to Abby's birthplace for the infamous Great-Aunt Mary's 100th birthday celebration and Great-Aunt Mary is just as prickly and difficult as Ophelia remembers! (Also Aunt Dot, one of the series' most popular characters, makes another appearance.) Ophelia is expecting a quiet family vacation, but it doesn't take long for the trip to turn sinister. And Abby is the target! It's going to take everything Ophelia has learned to get them out of this one!

This story line is a little darker than past Ophelia and Abby's, but I hope the readers will enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it!!

Amber - You mentioned last time you were here that the seventh book was the last one contracted. So is this the last we will see of Abby & Ophelia?

Shirley - Gosh, I hope not!! I've lived with these women for eight years and it would be sad to think they won't continue to be in my life!! However, it's always been my goal to expand as an author, and Avon has given me that opportunity with my next book, a stand alone. I really can't say too much about it at this time...we want to give THE SEVENTH WITCH a proper launch, but I'll give you a hint..."new concept...new name!" *g* I'll be sharing more about it with the readers via my website in a couple of months.

Amber - Something I have been asking authors lately is about the names of their characters. How do you come up with the names Abby & Ophelia? What about the other characters such as Tink?

Shirley - Good question, Amber!! Naming one's characters is really important!! For me, as a reader, certain names conjure up certain images, so I knew as an author that it's vital that the name "fit"! However when I was trying to come up with a name for my main character, I thought it would be fun for her to give her a name that actually works against type. To me, "Ophelia" always creates an image of someone wispy and a little vague, and that's not my Ophelia! As far as Abby, "Abigail" is a good, old fashioned name, plus it also goes back to the Salem Witch Trials.

And "Tink"...well, one thing just kind of led to another and she just kind of named herself! I came up with her real name "Tatiana", after the Queen of the Fairies in MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, one of my favorite plays. But that sounded like too "big" of a name for a kid. Then the idea of her late mother nick naming her as a baby "Tinkerbelle" (until she grew into her wings!) popped into my head. Plus I think naming her for a fairy plays in well with the folk magick theme of the series.

Amber - How much input do you get in the publication of your books? For example you have some great covers! Do you have a say in those kind of decisions?

Shirley – A lot of things are already decided when the contract is signed, such as publication date, length, what format (one question I get a lot...e-books. I don't have any input as to that at all.) etc. . Basically I feel that my job is to write the best book I can and my publisher takes it from there.

Concerning covers...they're really an important marketing tool, Amber. Every author wants a cover that says "buy me!" lol! And I do have some input on them...it was my idea to use the standing stones for this cover, but my favorite story is one concerning THE TROUBLE WITH WITCHES cover.

The way it works...my editor emails me the artist's rendition and I express my opinion. Well, THE TROUBLE WITH WITCHES takes place in Minnesota and when I saw its cover, although I thought it was great, it just didn't say "Minnesota" to me. I wrote my editor and told her my thoughts...Minnesota, land of blue skies, clear water, and pine trees. Her response was it didn't matter if it looked like Minnesota...the important thing was to grab the browser's attention. BUT...she would ask the artist to make the tree a pine tree! SO...if you look really, really close at the cover, you'll see these tiny grayish brown things on the tree. Those are MY pine cones! LOL!

All kidding aside, my publisher does a lot of research on what makes a great cover, so bottom line...who am I to argue??? They haven't let me down yet!

Amber - How do you build your Abby & Ophelia mysteries? Does the plot just come to you or is there a lot of trial and error to get things right?

Shirley - Seriously? Without trying to sound too blood thirsty, (I'm actually one of the most non-violent people that you'd ever want to meet!), but I always start out with a murder!!! Some poor, hapless fool meets an untimely end and then I decide how Ophelia and Abby would get pulled into the investigation and how their particular talents would either help or hinder that process. One of my friends happens to have worked for the State of Iowa's Medical Examiner's Office, so he's always good for some really nefarious ideas! *g*

And although, I'm trying to change my process and do more outlining, I've always been a "pantser", you know the type...flying by the seat of my pants???? Anyway, after I do in the poor character, the story just kind of flows from that point forward. That's not to say it's a smooth flow! *g* I always joke around that my two favorite keys on my keyboard are the "backspace" and "delete" keys! So, yeah, there's a lot of trial and error, a lot of time spent on the phone, whining to my friend and fellow author, Joanna Campbell Slan (The Kiki Lowenstein Mysteries) about how stymied I am!! (Btw...she's such a good friend that she always gives it to me straight! "Yeah, that scene works...Nope, don't think Ophelia would really do that." Her input is invaluable!)

Another person who's input in priceless is my editor. After I've completed the original manuscript, Emily goes through it with a fine tooth comb and her little editing pencil!! Then it's rewrite time!! And honestly, I always try and follow her suggestions...her goal is the same as mine...produce a product that the readers will enjoy!

Amber - Are you working on any other projects at the moment? Are there some ideas for future projects you can share with us?

Shirley - Right now I'm working on the stand alone that I mentioned, and I've been invited to contribute to two anthologies. One that author Anne Frasier is putting together, and another THE MAMMOUTH BOOK OF PARANORMAL ROMANCE-2 that Trisha Telep is doing. It's been along time since I've done anything less than a full novel, so I'm looking forward to getting back to my short story roots!

Beyond those projects?? Well this is the year I finally retire from my day job, so I'm going to have a lot more time to devote to writing! If I have anything to say about it, I can guarantee you haven't seen the last of me!!!

Amber - A lot of authors have 'soundtracks' for their books. Is there any music that influenced your books?

Shirley - I always have music on in the background when I'm writing...usually the "oldie goodies"! And although, I really can't say the tune necessarily inspires me, lyrics certainly do. In fact the stand alone that I'm working on now is titled DIE STANDING, (whether or not that will be the published title is hard to say) and it was inspired by a song of Shania Twain's, BLUE TEARS. There's a line in there..."I'd rather die standing than live on my knees, begging please"...that really got me thinking about the importance of standing up for yourself, making your own choices, living your own life. It developed into the theme for this next book.

There's another idea kicking around in my head based on a line from the Gordon Lightfoot song, IF YOU COULD READ MY MIND, too. At this time, I don't know where that one's headed, so I really can't give much info on it. It will be interesting to see what develops though!

Amber - There are so many online sites egg, Twitter, Face book, my space
etc. to get in touch with fans. Which sites are you signed up with? Is it hard to keep up with them all? Do you think they are good?

Shirley - Keeping up and staying in contact with the fans is one of the biggest challenges that I have!! (You'd think it would be writing 70,000 to 80,000 words in a six month time frame, wouldn't you? *g*) All kidding aside, I love hearing from the readers and it means the world to me when I do! I wish I were better at responding to each and every email, but time just gets away from me. I do blog once a week (Thursdays) on "Something Wicked"; have a Yahoo group, a Face book page, a My Space page. Then there's my website. But on the last few, I don't post as often as I should. I hope after I retire, it's going to be easier for me to devote more time to them.

And do I think they're good?? Yes, I do. I live in the middle of Iowa, and thanks to sites like these, (and your site, Amber!) I can get in touch with people all over the world! I wouldn't have the time or the money that it would take to meet all these people in person! But I do think you can get too many going at once. And there is the fact that although I find writing an exciting job, there are days when there's just not much to tell!!! You know...I got up, ate, went to work, went home, watched TV! How boring is that!! And who would want to read about it!

Amber - What was the best book you read in 2009? And what was the best film you saw last year?

Shirley - Best movie in 2009?? Well, I don't get out to movies too often with my schedule...most of my viewing is done via DVD...but I can tell you my best movie experience. Last Valentine's Day, I wanted to see HOTEL FOR DOGS and one of the best things about having grandchildren...they're always a good excuse to go see "kid" movies! So I invited one of my grandsons (a seven year old) to be my "date." He of course agreed, and when I dropped by to pick him up, he'd dressed up for me. A white dress shirt, his favorite clip-on blue and green stripped tie, blue jeans, and his dress shoes! Lol! AND not only did he dress up, but he'd been to the florist and had three roses for me. Spending time with him was one of the best Valentine's Days ever, and when he grows up, he's going to make some lucky girl a very good boyfriend!! *g*

As far as best book in 2009? Just like everyone else, I have my list of favorite authors, so when I'm in the middle of reading one of those...it's the "best" book! Then there are all the new authors that I've discovered and loved. It's really hard to pinpoint just one! I can tell you two, non-fiction books that had an impact on me during 2009.

One was WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL, by Donald Maass. Even though I'm working on my eighth book, it's always been important to me to continue to learn about the craft of writing and to try and improve my skill. Mr. Maass's book was terrific. He pointed out a lot of things that I hadn't considered. Also, thanks to Mr. Maass, I did an in-depth outline for this eighth book! Something that's strictly against my "pantser" tendencies! *g*

Now this next one may sound silly, but I bought Patti Stanger's BECOME YOUR OWN MATCHMAKER! (Yes, I am single.) I love her show on Bravo…she's such a no nonsense kind of a person and I like her style…anyway, I thought it would be fun to read her book. As a result, I realized that in the hustle and bustle of doing this, dong that, working full time, meeting deadlines, etc., that I've kind of lost sight of me in the process. I still need to get all those things done, but I also need to focus some of my attention on other aspects of my life, too.


Amber - If you could be any paranormal creature, what would you be and why?

Shirley - That one's easy…a shape shifter! And it would be an eagle. Why? Well, 1. They're a protected species, so while I'm zipping around in my eagle form, I wouldn't have to worry about some redneck with a gun shooting me. 2. They're on top of the food chain. (Again…safety!) And last, but most important, 3. They have the freedom of flight. And wouldn't that be marvelous…to ride the wind!!!

Amber - Thank you for visiting Amberkatze's Book Blog again! I hope you will be back again soon!
Shirley - Thank you, Amber!! As always, it's been a pleasure visiting your wonderful blog and meeting your readers!! I'll come back any time!!!



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Contest Time

If you haven't already tried the Abby & Ophelia Mysteries then you have alot of catching up to do! Shirley is ready to help though! However far into the series you are or even if you are new to the lovely witchy series you can enter this weeks contest and maybe you will win one of the seven! Yes seven! books Shirley is giving away.

If you are one of the seven winners picked you can choose which Abby & Ophelia book you would like to get from Shirley. That means you can pick the newest release, the first book or the book you have read up to!

To enter the contest you have to ask Shirley a question. Please make sure you don't ask a question somebody else has asked! If you are lucky Shirley will answer your question but if she doesn't get to it please don't be upset! You will still be entered into the contest!

No question = No entry!´

Earn another entry for each place you link this contest on the net. You can post of Facebook, Twitter & MySpace but make sure you add links here for me to confirm your entries!

You can also earn extra entries by emailing your friends about the contest. Just make sure you send a copy of your email or receipt to me at Amberkatzes_book_blog at gmx dot net.

Keep the contests going by using the Amazon links below and around the site!





The contest will stay open until Sunday 31st of January 2010 4pm CET and the winner will be picked by a randomizer. Entrants should check back to see if they have won. I do not hunt down winners and will pick new winners for any prizes not claimed within 7 days.

Good Luck!

42 comments:

cheesygiraffe said...

First off I love this series. Thanks for writing them. It mixes my favorite 2 genres, mysteries and paranormal. :D
Do you have any pets?

elaing8 said...

greta interview.this is a new series for me. So my question what 3 words would you use to describe your main character?

shaunesay said...

Hello Shirley! Thanks so much for visiting us today!

My question is maybe more of an industry question, vs. specifically about the series. How much input does an author have on the cover art for their novel? I adore your covers, and I have to admit that I love them because of the cat, and the various scenes the cat is in, but after reading the first book and seeing that the cat was not a big part of the story, it sort of brought me back to my pet peeve of mystery covers featuring a cat when often there is no cat or very little cat activity in the book! I'm a cat lover, so I'm guilty of falling prey to covers with cats on them! ;) I know Ophelia does have a cat, Queenie, so please don't take this question as any kind of attack at all! I was just curious to know if there is a known "put a cat on the cover and it will sell" idea in the mystery industry. Hopefully I haven't totally embarassed myself here! I look forward to reading the rest of your series!

elaing8 said...

tweeted http://twitter.com/elaing8/status/8154601582

Linda Henderson said...

I'm just curious, since you write about witches, have you ever been to Salem ?

Elsi said...

I'd like to ask about the way in which you approach the *task* of writing. Do you have a specific time each day? Morning or evening? (Are you a morning person?) How do you fit the writing around your day job?

Sarah said...

Great interview :o) This is a new series for me but it sounds like a fun one so I'll have to check it out!

As I'm new to the series my question is can you tell me a little bit more about the main characters?

Barbara E. said...

I have three of your books on my TBR pile but haven't had a chance to read them yet. I love mysteries and when they're mixed with paranormal aspects all the better. My question, how do you pick the settings of your books? Are they based on where you live, where you've visted, or do you choose some other way?

Blodeuedd said...

Hi Shirley :)
I was wondering about the titles, they all sound fun, so how much input do you have with those?

Laurie, Meghan and Caitlin said...

Another series to check out. My question is do you have any scenes which are particularly special to you for a specific reason and which one is it? Thanks.
Laurie

Tanya said...

I'm new to the series, however I've had it on my wish list.

What do you do, to get your creative juices flowing when you have "writers block"?

cait045 said...

Hey Shirley. Which of your books was your favorite to write?

LuAnn said...

I've not read any of this series. Do you recommend starting with the first book or can they each stand on their own?

reading_frenzy at yahoo dot com

Stacy Stew said...

So what do you think about practicing witches today?

samnstacyATmeDOTcom

Karen W. said...

Hi, Shirley,

Your series sounds great!

I was wondering who are your favorite authors?

Thanks for the generous contest!

karenwitkowski AT aol(dot)com

mariska said...

Wow, Amber. I really love your blog coz you always introduce me a great author !
I'm so new with Shirley's books, *hoping* : )

I'd like to know : What inspired you to write about Witches ?

i tweet'd https://twitter.com/becunique

Llehn said...

Hi Shirley,

Do you have a rituals / routines that you absolutely have to do before you start writing?

booklover0226 said...

Good morning, Shirley.

What is your opinion on book trailers? Do you think they help in book sales?

Thanks,
Tracey D

IceJewel said...

Hey Shirley,

You have written so many fabulous books in this series that I have often wondered that when you are busy in other things other than writing, do you constantly think about the characters of the book or say, what you are going to write next in series ?
I usually worry about how authors manage to keep balance in their lives when they are not writing.


Please enter me, icejew at gmail dot com if its International.
I have posted the contest on my sidebar
http://icejewel.blogspot.com/

Thank you for this great giveaway.

Shirley Damsgaard said...

Hi everyone, and welcome to those of you who are new to Ophelia and Abby! Thanks for all the great questions!!! I'll be popping back this evening to answer each and every one of them, so be sure to drop by!!

Everyone have a terrific day and I'll see you tonight!

Eva S said...

This is a new series for me, sounds very interesting.
Have you written books in other genres as well, or thought of it?

SandyG265 said...

Hi Shirley,

I love the series. Do you plot out the whole book before you start writting or does the storyline evolve as you write?

SandyM204 said...

I loved the story of Valentines Day with your grandson. How many children and grandchildren do you have?
sandym204 @ gmail dot com

BrittanyG said...

Hiya! I love your series. I really enjoy how everything doesn't come easy and Ophelia and Abby work through it. My question would be how do you get out of a jam when it comes to the plot. Do you have a muse or an activity that helps free the writing wonders in your head? I ask every author this and its so interesting to see their answers! Can't wait to see yours!

Rosie said...

Hi Shirley, I've read the first book in your series and loved it! This is a great opportunity to catch up on the rest of your books.

It's great that you are planning on continuing the Abby and Ophelia series. Should you come to the end of this series, though, do you have ideas for a new series of books? Can you tell, I want you to keep writing. :-)

Wanda said...

Your writing sounds wonderful. What else do you like to do when you're not writing?
wandanamgreb(at)gmail(dot)com

Amily said...

Looking forward to checking out this series. I love series books as they allow you to see the characters grow and develop.

Since you have spent the last eight years writing books in one series/world, was it difficult to switch gears and write a stand alone book? What challenges did the stand alone book pose versus your past experience writing a series?

Shirley Damsgaard said...

Do I have any pets?
Yes, I do! Two years ago I adopted a dog from the Animal Rescue League…Roxy. (there’s a picture of her and a little bit about her on one of the older blogs featured on my website.) She hates cats and other dogs; hates men if they’re carrying anything that looks like a stick (I think at one point in her life, some guy must’ve beaten her), but she loves kids and me! She’s a wonderful companion, and had not I, or someone else, adopted her, she would’ve been euthanized, just like the millions of other homeless dogs are each year. She’s such a great dog…it would’ve been a real shame, so I’m very glad that she came into my life! 8)

Three words to describe Ophelia?
Three words to describe Ophelia? That’s a tough one…she’s grown (or at least I hope she has!) over the course of the series. The words that I’d use to describe her based on WITCH WAY TO MURDER would be very different from the ones I’d use based on THE SEVENTH WITCH. So…how about “a work in progress,” (I know that’s four, but they cover all seven books!)

Why cats?
Lol, shaunesay, you shouldn’t be embrassed for hitting the nail on the head! Book sales are exactly the reason so many mysteries have cats on the covers. Most mystery lovers are also animal lovers and cats sell books!
Now in the industry’s defense, the publishing world is highly competitive…tons of books are released every year…so they’re going to do everything they can to attract your eye, make you curious enough to pick their book off the shelf, then hopefully buy it.
And you’re right…Queenie doesn’t play a major role in the series. However, though not a cat, a dog does have an active role in the stand alone I’m working on now. (Care to guess the dog’s name?? You got it…Roxy. I keep telling her that this next book could make her a star, but truthfully, she’s more interested in rummaging through the garbage if given the opportunity! *g*)

Been to Salem?
No, Linda, I’ve not had the opportunity, but hope to someday.

Shirley Damsgaard said...

When do I write?
I’m a morning person…that’s my most creative time, and preferably while it’s still dark outside. Weird, I know…but there’s just something more intimate about it than writing in daylight. The soft light of a small lamp; the glow of the computer screen; my favorite radio station playing low in the background…I’m alone with my characters and the story. The same atmosphere doesn’t work as well at night, and unless I’ve painted myself into a corner trying to make a deadline, I prefer not to write in the evenings. You see, my characters don’t shut up at bedtime and I wind up tossing and turning half the night!
Also this little quirk works well with my day job. If I get up early enough, about three hours before work, I can get around 5 pages done before it’s time to get ready. Then on the weekends, I do write more.

Pick the settings?
Barbara, five of the books are set in fictional Summerset, a small town in Iowa. It’s a combination of where I live now and where I grew up.
And the other two? THE TROUBLE WITH WITCHES takes place in Minnesota and is modeled after my aunt and uncle’s place on Crooked Lake, MN. It’s one of my favorite places so it was great fun using it as a setting.
As I said earlier, THE SEVENTH WITCH happens in North Carolina where Abby was born and I did the research after an event in Tennessee. That was fun, too! I really enjoy the South and fell in love with the people down there.
I also do a lot of research…the most complicated setting I ever used was in THE WITCH’S GRAVE. Part of the book takes place in German occupied Paris. Do you know how hard it is to ferret out information about how a city looked sixty years ago?? Thankfully, Fate stepped in when I received an email from a reader, Barbara Grasset. She wrote to tell me how much she and her daughter, Fiona, were enjoying the series, which receiving the note was pretty terrific in and of itself. THEN she mentioned that she lived in Paris! It took me about two seconds to fire back an email asking for her help! To which she, her husband, Luc-Olivier, and Fiona all graciously agreed. All three provided me with information that I would’ve never uncovered on my own.

The titles?
Blodeuedd…good to see you here!! (Blodeudd is a regular over at “Something Wicked”!)
The titles are a collaboration between my editor and me. It goes something like this…she’ll ask me what I think, and my usual response is “I dunno!” (See, I kind of suck at thinking up titles!! *g*) Anyway, at that point she starts giving me suggestions then we brainstorm until we come up with a title that we both like.

Shirley Damsgaard said...

Favorite scenes?
Wow, Laurie, to be honest, I’ve never really thought about it. There are definitely scenes that were more fun to write than others.
I loved writing the opening scene of Chapter 1 in CHARMED TO DEATH. I could just picture the whole thing in my mind as I was writing it. I had fun with the scene in WITCH HUNT when Ophelia confronts Cobra in the parking lot of the sale barn and threatens him with her Louisville Slugger. (I think I was feeling a little put upon that day and it gave me the chance to work out my aggression! LOL) The speeding dating scene in THE WITCH IS DEAD was fun, too. After reading it, my friend, Joanna accused me of sitting down at the computer with a couple of glasses of wine and just letting it rip!! (I didn’t, but I’m glad she enjoyed it!!) I always enjoy doing scenes when Darci or Aunt Dot are featured. (Btw—Aunt Dot is my one character who’s based on a real person…my own Aunt Dot who passed several years ago. The “real” Aunt Dot enjoyed her wine just as much as the “fictional” Aunt Dot!)

What about writer’s block?
Well, Tanya, all I can say is “thank God and Alexander Graham Bell for the telephone!” Seriously, I call Joanna Campbell Slan! As I mentioned earlier, she’s a great friend and we bounce ideas back and forth all the time. As an author herself, she truly understands what I’m feeling and always seems to put things in perspective for me. In fact when I felt “lost” while I was writing THE SEVENTH WITCH, she gave me a great piece of advice. The advice?? “You’ve got it, now quit worrying about it and just write the dang story!” And so I did! ;)

Favorite Book?
Lol, Cait, that’s like asking a mother which kid she loves best! All kidding aside, like a mother, each book is special to me for its own reason. WITCH WAY TO MURDER because it was the first and it was such a thrill to see it in the bookstores, right up to THE SEVENTH WITCH because it gave me the opportunity to explore Abby’s past. Each book gave me a new experience, new things to learn, a chance to grow in my craft, I honestly can’t pick a favorite!
I’ve run out of time for this evening, but I’ll be back tomorrow night to answer those questions I’ve missed. Thank you all for your interest and your questions!!
Shirley

justpeachy36 said...

justpeachy36@yahoo.com

This is my first experience with this book series.

My question is, what do you hope to inspire in your readers? What sort of emotions do you wish to envoke?

angel28140 said...

Hi Shirley!

I haven't heard of these books before, but I'm definitely interested now. I'm interested in your writing process, is there anything special that you do or need while either writing or editing, other than background music? Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

Shirley Damsgaard said...

About the characters—
Ophelia Jensen is a thirty-something librarian with a past. Like it or not she is one of the chosen, coming from a line of women based in the mountains of Appalachia with special talents…healers, wise women, witches. Most of the time, she can’t decide whether her talents are a blessing or a curse.
Her grandmother, Abby, on the other hand, revels in being a witch. She sees Ophelia’s struggle and does everything she can to guide her into accepting who and what she is. She is the glue that holds Ophelia’s life together on her journey of self-discovery.

Starting at the beginning of the series
LuAnn, you’ve touched on a real dilemma for me as an author of a series! Yes, I would recommend starting at the beginning for two reasons…1. Because it gives you a better idea who the characters are and what drives them, and 2.Here comes the dilemma I faced…each book does contain “spoilers” concerning the previous books. I know a lot of readers hate that, but for me, it was hard to show Ophelia’s growth without touching on those experiences that fostered it. But if you’re not one of those readers who object to that, you can start anywhere in the series.

Practicing witches--
Stacy, I’ve always tried not to lump people together because of what they may or may not believe, so I can only speak of those I’ve met who practice magick. The people I’ve become acquainted with have been very spiritual and I found they’re perspective of life to be very interesting. They’ve also been extremely helpful by answering my endless questions.

Shirley Damsgaard said...

Rituals—
Coffee…must have coffee!! *g* After I satisfy that need, I sit down at the computer with my full cup and diddle around online for a few minutes. (I’m a master diddler, btw!) THEN I’m ready to settle down and write.

Balancing my life—
Thanks, IceJewel, for your kind words!!! When I’m in the middle of writing a manuscript, do I constantly think about it?? You bet!! When I’m in the car, getting ready for work, doing housework, whatever, the plot and the characters are always simmering somewhere in my brain. Often, while I’m getting ready in the mornings, I’ll have note cards and a pen lying on the counter and jot things down as they come to me. And to be honest, the closer I get to a deadline, the more intense I become!! (It’s at that point that my family tries to steer clear of me!! THEY think I get a little cranky!! *g*)
You also touched on an issue when you mentioned “balance.” It’s hard to balance all the aspects of my life whether I’m in the middle of writing a book or not. Even if I’m not currently working on a new manuscript, there’s always something to do…promotions, book events, trying to keep up with the blogging…then add the other layers of my life…day job, family, friends, and it can kind of get crazy at times. I’m not always able to stay as on top of things as I would like. At that point, I just have to take a deep breath, relax a little, and remember not to be too hard on myself because I didn’t achieve everything I wanted to that day. (One of my favorite quotes is by Scarlett O’Hara in GONE WITH THE WIND…”After all, tomorrow is another day!)

And speaking of another day, I'll be back tomorrow to answer more questions! Thanks again for your interest!

Best,
Shirley

Spav said...

It seems like Ophelia has always had bad luck in love. Will that change in the future?

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SiNn said...

Shirley your a new to me author I was courious I was wondering how do you feel about the pivatal role that the Seleme witch trails had on literary works or ur own books?


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Dawn said...

I WOULD LOVE TO READ ONE OF HER BOOKS

Kathy said...

On of the reasons I first started reading your series is because Ophelia is a librarian and so am I. Have you ever worked in a library or are you a librarian?

SuzyQ1955 said...

Shirley loved your interview and sense of humor about the creative writing process. Since you claim your two favorite keys are the backspace and delete does this mean you have ever worn out a keyboard?

All This Silence... said...

I'm new to the series, meaning I haven't started reading the first book and I would love to get ahold of it. My question isn't specific to your series, but I'm very curious about it. If you were offered a deal for a movie series based on your books, what would you do? Would you have any specific requests of the director?

donnas said...

Hi Shirley, I really love this series and am looking forward to the latest one. What did you do when you found out it was going to be published?

angelrunner said...

I'm in the beginning of your series and just love it. I had been looking for a mystery series that involved witches. These are perfect, nothing too over the top. I haven't been able to put them down. I really loved the fact that she has an adopted dog. I'm a firm believer in animal adoption. They seem very protectful over her. There are several comments in the books about how they watch over her and seem to know when she's upset. I do know that animals can have a sense about this but was wondering if they would play a larger role in any further books, especially Lady? I love her name, by the way.