Today, I have Author Ryan Jo Summers visiting.
Ryan Jo Summers is a freelance writer and novelist. Raised in Michigan, she was a book fanatic from a young age. She wrote her first book, complete with illustrations, at the age of ten. From that early start, she has always had pen to paper.
When not writing, or working at her daytime job, she loves spending time with her menagerie of pets—finned, feathered, and furry. She also enjoys getting together with friends, travel, reading, cooking, word find puzzles, nature, houseplants, and painting—just about everything. Painting, writing poems, and baking are forms of stress relief and therapy to work through times of sorrow.
Ryan lives in Western North Carolina where the vast mountain-scape provides both endless beauty and inspiration.
Ryan Jo, tell us all about you and your writing adventures.
AL: What were you like in school?
RJS: I was a quiet student. School initially was difficult for me, mostly due to my eyesight and not being able to see the chalkboard. Did I just age myself in that comment? Well, once I got glasses and could see, I got it all figured out and became ‘that’ student. I loved English and science classes, struggled through mathematics and liked history. Later, I became crazy over more English and sciences, struggled my way through chemistry and algebra and enjoyed foreign language. In High School I pushed for the accelerated courses. In English class, when we were told to read a book, I wanted to read two. When we had to write a paper, I always asked the maximum length it could be. I’m sure the other kids resented my enthusiasm but school became a place to earn acceptance and validation.
AL: What have you written?
RJS: It started with short stories mostly with a biographical slant. Some got published in trade journals and magazines. A fictional short story took honorable mention in a national contest. I’ve had several free-lance opinion essays put out in print and online. I write poetry, only one published in an anthology. For me, it’s therapy to cope with life. Of the novels, three contemporary romances have been published since 2012. Another one is coming out November 2015 and a novella is coming out early 2016. Now I am writing other stuff. I recently completed a YA/NA novel and am working on two longer works that will fall in commercial or women’s lit.
AL: Do you write long hand, typewriter, computer or dictate?
RJS: All of the above. I used to write long hand on legal paper, transcribing it to my trusty typewriter. It was challenging but I finally joined the modern world and have a computer. So now I write both long hand and directly into the document. As I travel about, I think of things to add, change or whatever so I scribble them down on scraps of paper and later transcribe them into the document. Future story ideas go on any scrap of paper and into a file, paper clipped with similar ideas. My organization system is not the most modern, but it does work.
Interestingly, my dad is a songwriter. He does the exact same thing. He writes lines and lyrics on legal pads or scraps of paper and they might eventually become a song. Years ago I took all his notes and scraps from the 40-odd years and put them all in a scrap book to preserve and chronicle his best songs. It was neat to see all those coffee stained bits of paper scribbled with a few lines that I know as complete songs now.
AL: How have you evolved creatively?
RJS: By reading more broadly. For many years, I would only read—and write—things that I knew I liked. I was not very adventurous in my reading. What if I didn’t like this new book? Then I started taking chances and reading new genres and authors. Wow, there’s some cool stuff out there. And I learned what I like, what I know now that I don’t care for and that in turn has bled over to my writing over time. I never envisioned myself as a romance writer, as I don’t see myself as a particularly romantic person. I’m way too practical for spontaneous romance. However, I have learned there are many layers to romance, and I know what layers I like, and which ones I tend to avoid, so it has forced me to become more creative to stay within my comfort layers. There might be an element of laziness in there too.
AL: Do you proofread/ edit yourself or have others proofread and edit?
RJS: I used to do it all myself. And doubtlessly missed a ton of errors. Lately I have learned the value of beta readers and my current WIP’s go to beta readers. I think the barter system of beta reading between writers is a wonderful currency that more writers should get involved with. And of course, once the contract is signed, I’ve been blessed with great, eagle eyed editors at the publishing house to catch all those tiny bits of mistake. I’m still learning how to make the computer program work with me for proofreading.
AL: How do you get book reviews?
RJS: Well, I must not be very good at this, as I actually have very few reviews on my books. Most Amazon reviews are by people (friends) who bought the book, read it and left me a review (because I begged them to). I’ve sent the ARCs out to review sites and have very low results. I have not yet figured out if this is normal or if I’m doing something wrong. I do think there are lots of writers asking for reviews on fewer numbers of readers so there is doubtlessly some backlog involved.
AL: How do you relax?
RJS: I go for walks in the national forest and hang out by the river. I journal. Or I take my collie to the dog park and let him run. He and I like to sit on the porch and bird watch. Sometimes I work a good wiggly word find puzzle or play mah jongg to stimulate the mind. These are all good to get the creative juices flowing and chipping away at the occasional times I write myself into a corner.
Her novel, When Clouds Gather, is available on Amazon.
Darby Adams has a full, happy life in Driftwood Shores with a successful Bed and Breakfast Inn, The Brass Lamplighter, and her teenage son, Matt. Until a guest is found dead in one of her rooms. Suddenly, she is the number one suspect—a murderess. With her world rapidly spinning out of control, Darby desperately needs a friend.
The surviving family wants answers—and prosecution—so they hire Private Investigator Sam Golden to unquestionably prove Darby’s guilt. Busy with his disobedient, willful teenage daughter, Sam still takes the case. He starts in the dual role as a sympathetic ally to Darby while searching for the evidence needed to send her to prison. It should be an easy case to close.
Until strange things begin happening at the B & B, scary things. Until their kids form a friendship. Until feelings develop between Darby and Sam, in the heat of the mysteries surrounding them. As Darby leans on Sam to survive, he has to question his thoughts on her guilt or innocence. Then the day comes he has to tell her the truth about himself.
Reeling from Sam’s confession, Darby thinks things can’t get any worse. Then they do. She has no choice except to trust him once more, but can she ever trust him with her heart?
BUY LINK for When Clouds Gather
EXCERPT for WHEN CLOUDS GATHER:
Amused at the joking between mother and son, Madison chuckled as the sounds of clanking dishes came from the kitchen. “My dad can cook pretty well too. He makes a terrible mess but the food is good.”
Darby perked up. It was so rare for Madison to mention her family, she was slightly taken aback at the information. She propped her elbows on the table and rested her chin on her upturned palms.
“Tell me about your family, Madison.”
The girl blinked. “My mom died a few months ago and you already know my dad.”
“I know your dad?” Darby drew back in surprise.
“Yeah. Didn’t Matt tell you who I was?”
Come to think of it, Matt had omitted a lot of information. Darby managed a shake of her head.
“Boys,” Madison muttered with a sigh. “My dad is Sam Golden.”
“Sam?” Darby echoed dully. This child her son was sweet on, this girl with such good manners, was actually Sam’s willful daughter? She replayed their conversation from the sunroom over in her mind, not able to reconcile the two versions of Madison.
But why hadn’t she put the pieces together before? It made perfect sense now. They were both new in town. Sam said he had a fourteen year old daughter who had a birthday coming up soon and Madison had mentioned she was going to be turning fifteen soon. Where was her mind lately?
“Yes, I can see the family resemblance now.” Indeed, she could see Sam’s honest brown eyes, confident chin and athletic build in Madison. Just the hair was different as Madison’s was a honey blond. Had she inherited that from her departed mother?
Suddenly she felt warm. Outside the windows the wind howled, as if to remind her she still had work to do. “If you’ll excuse me, Madison, I need to feed the animals for the night.”
Grabbing up the food and water pails and pulling on her jacket, she stepped out into the wind and rain. Over the howling wail, she could hear the excited barking of the dogs. Oddly enough, no cats loitered about, waiting for their meal.
“If they’re hiding out the storm in their shelters, I’ll give them double rations tomorrow,” she promised, wishing she had fed them all earlier. Instead she had stopped to visit her neighbor. She was glad for the visit, it was the one place she could go and not be questioned, accosted, or interrogated about the death of Robert Wilson. They could drink tea, talk about flowers and anything else. However, she felt bad it cost her cats their dinner.
“There, there, my babies,” she cooed to the dogs, entering their pen. “It’s just a storm, nothing to get excited about.” The pack was especially anxious, whining loudly. They barked into the night, ignoring her offering.
Assuming it was the weather that had them shook up, she dropped the last of the food and stood back, waiting for them to dive in. Instead, they milled around, nosing her and searching the night. Rex and Cinders pawed anxiously at the gate, whining.
Worry slowly prickled along her spine. “Don’t worry guys, it’s just a storm. Eat your dinner before it gets soaked and go curl up in the doghouses. You’ll be fine.” She patted them, hoping to ease their anxiety.
The pack was bothered by more than just the storm. She did a head count, realizing something.
One of the dogs was missing, her favorite blond cocker spaniel.
The pen was escape proof and it had been locked when she arrived.
The pinpricks of worry quickly turned to fear. The last time she felt this way, she had found a dead body in her house.
Casting another look around, she saw nothing except the close-banded dark, heavy clouds pouring out the rain. Beyond, she heard the rattling of garden bells and wind chimes and pounding surf. Closer, she could see the inviting warmth of the house streaming through the windows, reminding her Matt and Madison were inside.
Glancing down at the dogs, she decided they would be safe enough and would just be hungry tomorrow. Like the cats, extra rations all the way around. Double-checking behind her to make sure the gate was secure, she paused.
“How on earth did Melody get out? And where is she?” Calling the dog’s name into the wind, she waited, but no sad eyed spaniel came running, wagging her stumpy tail. Now she regretted not moving the little dog inside quicker. If she had not been so busy today with going to Matt’s school and stopping at Laura’s, she might have had more time for that bath.
“Well, I hope she finds a decent shelter from the storm,” she decided, trying to shrug off the weight of dread settling on her shoulders. It wasn’t working.
Matt was in the house and she needed to get to him. The impulse to run almost overtook her. Panic took root in her heart. Breaking into a fast jog, she rounded the corner, heart hammering. She had to reach Matt.
The skies opened up with a thunderous roar, rain pounding upon her like tiny daggers of ice. At the same time, Darby heard a young girl’s scream.
Terror overtook her and she dropped the pails, breaking into a full run. Heart pounding, she reached the porch steps and slammed to a breathless halt, bile rising in her stomach. The next scream she heard was the one escaping from her own throat.
Matt appeared in the doorway above her, illuminated by the lights inside. “Mom?” he whispered hoarsely. Behind him came the sounds of sobbing.
Surrendering to the most basic need, Darby tore her eyes from the gristly scene before her, lifting them to Matt. “Call Sam.”
* * *
Be sure to check out her other bodies of work, too.
BUY LINK for Shimmers of Stardust
Logan Riley, Civil War hero turned outlaw, was hanged in 1869. He survived, watching time progress for over a century. Anthropologist Dr. McKenzie Lynne is hired to find him. Once she discovers him and learns the real plans the scientists have in mind to study him, she bolts, taking their living treasure with her.
Pursued by obsessed physicists and the military, Kenzie and Logan race across the vast desert and mountains of Arizona and New Mexico, struggling to stay one step ahead of their hunters. But Logan has spent four years in the Civil War and five years running as an outlaw. He knows how to stay alive, survive on nothing, when to run and when to hole up. He may not understand much about this new world, but he knows how to outfox hunters and that Kenzie is one Thoroughbred of a woman and he vows to keep her safe.
BUY LINK for Whispers in her Heart
She had a mystical reputation …
Third-generation horse trainer, Season Moriarty, has just taken on the impossible. Hired by the gorgeous yet notoriously difficult Ty Masters to transform his wild colt into a legendary racehorse, she comes face to face with a threat to the horses that puts even her special gifts to the test. As it turns out, the whispers in her heart do indeed carry a bit of the mystical—along with a warning.
… But what they had between them was pure magic.
Ty Masters, owner of the world-renowned Heritage Farms, has turned out more than one champion in his time. Now so much of his financial future rests on the colt, Sky Hunter—just as so much of Sky Hunter’s future rests in the hands of Season Moriarty. Has Ty been wrong to trust her? Something about her seems almost spooky—and so lovely that she has his heart racing faster than the horses.
Ryan Jo, thanks so much for visiting with us today!