Friday, March 25, 2016

An Interview with Author Cygnet Brown

Book I in 'The Locket Saga'
Welcome author Cygnet Brown! The author of The Locket Saga, and several other historical novels, Brown talks about her writing, books, and advice for writers…

GM: What was your inspiration for The Locket Saga?
CB:  The Locket Saga actually started from dream that I had. I dreamed that a boy and girl reunited in a frontier setting after having not seen one another since childhood. This led to the storyline of Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues.

A line that I wrote in Soldiers led to a prequel where I went back into the sisters’ (Rachel Mayford and Elizabeth Thorton) past to show the love story involving their parents which was a lot more complicated than what you might think.

The inspiration of Book III-A Coward’s Solace was also inspired by Soldiers, this time the opening scene.  A person comes back into Elizabeth’s life who was thought to have been killed. 

GM: Where does The Locket Saga take place?
CB:  The first two books in the Locket Saga are set in Boston. When God Turned His Head is set around 1750 and the second, Soldiers Don’t Cry at the birthing of the American Revolution. Book III, A Coward’s Solace is set at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-78, not the most likely place for romance, but it worked.

GM: Who is your niche market for The Locket Saga?
CB:  My fiction genre is Early American Christian Historical Romance. If you like your heroine on the strong feminine side, I write books for you.  These women may live in a male dominated society, and even though the men portrayed in my stories are chivalrous, the women have an unseen power that holds men captive.

GM: How do you maintain thoughts, ideas and editing?
CB:  Whenever I get a new idea, I have to write it down whether I get the idea while driving, cleaning house, or waking up in the morning. Many of my ideas come to me during that foggy time between sleeping and being fully awake. I have to get up and write it down before I forget. Sometimes I write it on my computer, but usually I write the gist of it down on a piece of paper on my desk. That way when I do start up my computer, I have enough information to remember and incorporate that idea somewhere in my writing system.

New ideas might go into one of my files called “new ideas” or I might incorporate that idea directly into a story line I have written or plan to write.

I put off most of my editing until after I have the first draft done. Then I go through the manuscript first editing content several times and then proof reading also several times. When I think I am done, I hand a POD copy off to my beta reader and then to my editor. I then make the necessary changes that they suggest.

Sometimes when I am writing a first draft I might have an idea about a change in direction. I’ll generally entertain that idea within a pair of parentheses to review the idea in a later draft.  This way I don’t get too sidetracked.

When creating new characters, I’ll take the time to write out a lot about that character before I get started. Some of what I write goes into the books but a lot of it doesn’t. The purpose of character sketches is for you, the author, to flesh out the character until that character seems real to you. After that, the character sketch for that specific character is actually is no long needed because you know that person as a real person, not just a “stick character” or a bunch of character traits. For instance, my character Elizabeth Thorton McCray if put into a scene, will act a certain way. Her sister, Rachel, on the other hand, if put into the same situation, will act completely different.  Just as I have different friends in real life that I don’t get mixed up, I have these friends in my head that I also don’t get mixed up because they seem as real to me as those real friends.

I have friends in my head and friends in real life (AKA readers). I imagine myself as a medium and the book as a séance that brings the two worlds together.

GM: Where do you like to write?
CB:  I write on my laptop, usually at my desk in my office. Sometimes, though, I might go to a café to write just for a change of scenery. I especially like to do this when I find I feel restless, but I need to finish the work at hand.  The change of scenery helps me regain focus. I don’t know how it works. It just does.

GM: Do you have a favorite genre of music?
CB:  I can’t say that I necessarily have a favorite genre of music. I like classic rock, Christian Contemporary, and once in a while Country Music. When I write, though, I only listen to classic music and I try to find music that offers the proper backdrop for the scene that I am working on.
Music creates an emotional response. Music can make you feel emotion that’s why it’s good to play music in the background when writing. It is easy to get distracted by the music though, which is why I prefer to write using classical music. It doesn’t have words to sing to. In the same token, I like to vent onto the page whenever I feel strong emotion. If I am sad, angry, fearful, depressed, or elated I make it a point to get those emotions down on paper. Not only is it good therapy, but it often makes good copy.

When I was writing When God Turned His Head, I had a time when everything seemed to be going wrong for us. Both my husband and I lost our jobs and we couldn’t get new work in our chosen professions. Because we lost our jobs when then lost our car and our house. Our car was repossessed while I was at a swap meet trying to get enough money from the sale of few things to pay the electric bill and put food on the table. During that time my husband’s Dad died. Because my husband wasn’t able to pay child support on his elder daughter, he went to jail for nonsupport. My response to all of this was in writing what I now refer to as “Drusilla’s to be or not to be scene” and like Drusilla, I took the high road.

GM: Who is your favorite author? Why?
CB:  I read a lot of different genres. I think it helps keep make me a well-rounded author. I try not to be too stuck on a genre or a specific author’s work. I like Stephen King, John Grisham. In my formative years as an author I read everything by Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane. In addition, I took a lot of my genre cues from the late Gilbert Morris because he covered the same time period in his House of Winslow series that I am covering with the Locket Saga.

GM: What are you currently writing?
CB:  This weekend I sent off for the copy of my latest book Sailing under the Black Flag. That book will be going to Beta reader for content editing and proofreading then on to my editor. Therefore, I am sort of between writing projects at the moment and am focusing more on marketing. 

Sailing under the Black Flag is a coming of age story of Jonathan Mayford. Jonathan, the son of an American merchant ship owner, joins his father’s privateer. While aboard ship, he learns that life is more than the adventure of the ship’s next capture. He hopes that live involves gazing into the eyes of the mesmerizing Lowri Howell.

GM: Any advice for novice writers?
CB:  Read a lot and write every day. Review other writers work on a blog. You don’t need to do a book a week or anything, but do a review of every book you read. Join a group of experienced writers who will patiently work with you. This can be in person or even be an online group. Once you have a genre, decide your market audience and get to know them.

GM: Define the perfect story…
CB:  The perfect story involves a woman with a strong spirit who believes that love conquers all obstacles. She has convictions beyond that however. She meets the man who is her equal and her opposite. The situation in which they find themselves makes love appear as though it will go unrequited. However, in the end, love conquers all. 

Donna Brown writes under the pseudonym--Cygnet Brown. She chose Cygnet Brown because her maiden name is "Swanson" (a cygnet is a baby swan) and Brown is her married name. She grew up in Northwestern Pennsylvania and began writing stories in Mrs. Watson's seventh grade English class. From that time on she wanted to become a professional writer, but life got in the way. After graduating high school, she served on active Navy from 1981-1987 as a Neuro-psychiatric Technician then in the reserves until 1999. She married, became a mother to three children, step mother to another, and became a nurse. She resumed writing in October 2008 when she fell in love with her characters all over again. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Arts from Argosy University in 2014. 

Cygnet Brown currently lives in the Missouri Ozarks. She loves to write and research history. She never knows when she'll uncover a historical tidbit that sparks another story in The Locket Saga. When God Turned His Head is the first book in her historical romance series The Locket Saga written in 2010. Her second book Soldiers Don't Cry came out in 2012. In 2013 she published her first nonfiction book Simply Vegetable Gardening based on her 40 years of gardening experience. This year, she is preparing to publish Book III in The Locket Saga: A Coward's Solace. See updates at her Website:

Brown is the owner of Cygnet Publishing of the Ozarks, a business she founded in 2013. She has written for Mother Earth News magazine and online article sites including eHow, Busika, Infobarrel, Bubblews, and Hubpages. In addition to publishing her own books and writing articles, she is publishing her father, R. Leonard Swanson's memoirs and poetry book.

Donna is an ordained minister and teacher. She is the author of a Christian blog called How My Spirit Sings.

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