Interview with the authors “8 Slices of Cake”
Where inspired co-writing “8 Slices of Cake?”
Monica: I was thrilled to be asked by author Melanie Toye to contribute to “8 Slices of Cake,” and I was excited to try writing fiction for a change.
Lisa: Some idiot in this group I belong to suckered me into it. They decided it was a great idea. I go along with any idea someone has, because you never know who might turn out to be a genius.
Brenda: As far as I know this was all Melanie Toye’s idea. I just went along for the ride.
Yvonne: The idea was the brain-child of Melanie Toye. She cooked up the co-writing idea and then, through brainstorming, the setting of the book and the title came about.
Meadow: I was inspired to join the project by my mother, Paige Bleu, who was already involved in writing it with her other friends.
Melanie: As creator of our author promotion group, I wanted to bring together our different writing genre’s and style and came up with the idea that we all write a short story together. The writers were keen and ideas bubbled with excitement from everyone, on what the theme of the stories should focus on and that’s how 8 Slices of Cake was created. It may have been my idea but without the effort from everyone, 8 Slices of Cake wouldn’t be as awesome as it is now.
Paige: My chapter was inspired by a combination of things including personal experience, friends stories and some fiction.
Tell us about the book:
Monica: “8 Slices of Cake” is a romance anthology. The short stories all revolve around the same wedding. The characters all know or know of groom Michael and bride Ava, and they all experience — or cope with — adventures in love. Michael and Ava serve a fancy 8-tier wedding cake at the reception, and each short story references one of the flavors.
Paula: It’s a viewpoint story from different guests at the same wedding.
Lisa: It’s about a wedding from different authors. Some things are the same and other trivial items are different allowing each story to have a flavor of its own. Then each author chose a cake flavor to feature.
Brenda: 8 Slices of Cake is an Anthology created by 8 girls from all around the world. Australia, Chicago, Ireland etc. This book is was published just in time for Valentine ’s Day. There are 8 short stories. The common thread is a wedding and an 8 tiered cake. That is where the title comes from. Each story has its own cake recipe. Every writer had picked their favorite cake. The two things we all share in common is the love of writing and of course, cake. Each story is in our own unique style. 8 Slices of Cake will make for a fun read about marriage, divorce, romance, dating, failed relationships, and maybe even finding everlasting love.
Meadow: The book is a story about love of all shades, portraying a wedding from different points of view.
Paige: The book, in my opinion, is a fabulous way of merging different points of view, writing styles, and the personalities of 8 unique woman with one common thread and story.
Yvonne: 8 Slices of Cake is a romantic eBook. We each wrote a short story about two or more characters attending Ava and Michael’s wedding, at which there would be an 8-tiered cake. Each author chose her favourite cake for her characters and included a recipe for the cake. Californian author, Brenda Perlin, created the name, and Southern Belle author, Lisa Day, created the cover image. Along with Melanie, Lisa and Brenda, the other 5 stories are written by Yvonne McEvaddy from Ireland, Paula Mills from the U.K., Paige Bleu and her daughter Meadow Bleu from Washington and Monica Lee from Illinois.
In the collection, as well as the bride and groom, you will meet Melissa who is plagued by a bad memory of a wedding, Lisa, a woman who dislikes weddings, Lilly the best friend of the groom, who wishes she were more, Brooklyn a woman who found her way out of a bad marriage, Chantelle and Olivia who go to the wedding as single girls and find love and possibilities where they were not expecting to find them, the unavailable Beth, lovable uncle Rufus and two of the women in his life, Hope and Georgia.
We are comparing this book to the movie “Love Actually,” as there are 8 individual stories linked by the wedding of Ava and Michael and of course the 8-tiered cake.
How do you know each other?
Melanie: Most of us met through LinkedIn and then we came together through the Author Promotion Group. I met Paula Mills, taking our children to the library and immediately we bonded and discovered we both loved to write.
Lisa: Most of us met through Linkedin. Then we moved to Facebook while there, eight of us seemed to have a similar outlook about branding and marketing ideas. So we formed a small second group to prefect our ideas.
Paula: I literally bumped into Melanie Toye one day. We bonded over our passion of writing and a refreshing and honest conversation about how scared we were to be first time mums.
Brenda: I personally met everyone in an author group on Facebook sometime last year. It has been a great experience. I love these girls and they just happen to be super talented.
Yvonne: We made initial contact on LinkedIn and became great friends through the author promotion group that Mel Toye set up on Facebook.
Paige: We are involved in some online networking groups like Linkedin. We have become a close group and thought it would be a fun experience to do something together. And it was!
Monica: The eight authors, most of them independent, became acquainted through social media.
Meadow: The glorious world of social networking!
Describe the writing/editing/publishing process:
Lisa: Some of us used pen and paper. Some used the computer. I being the oldest used chisel and rock. When finished we compared the rough drafts and pulled some events from others stories into our final drafts. Then we all dumped them into Ms Mel Toye’s lap to straighten out.
Paula: For me, I argue a lot in my head. The creative V the attention to detail freak. I spin my ideas, bulk it out with the narrative and add the scenes later. I can see it all in my head and I take myself to the moment, each scene and character. Editing, I try and leave until the end. But I never do. Ten spaces forward and eight back. Don’t look to my method for inspiration – It’s cruel.
Monica: For “Habits to Break,” my offering in “8 Slices of Cake,” I brainstormed my theme first, and settled on a story about good habits and bad habits, and how they affect ones lives and loves. Hope is a young divorcee, modelled roughly after a younger me. Aunt Georgia is a recent widow, and I tried to imbue her with the wisdom I hope I have someday. The man they have in common? Uncle Rufus, a thrice-married smoker who enthusiastically embraces life and all its ups and downs. After I wrote the first draft, I ran it by a couple of beta readers: my husband, my mother and my sister, who suggested some small improvements in description and clarification. The creativity came from describing what heretofore existed only in my mind.
Paige: The writing process reminded me of a ’round robin’ writing circle. A lot of passing each others stories back and forth to make sure that even though they were all different, there was some consistency in the story.
Brenda: Writing the story was a bit of a challenge for me because I am not used to writing fiction. I had to stretch a bit as a writer. When in doubt, I go to John Emil Augustine who wrote ‘Love Seen From Hell’. He is brilliant and always helps me out. Also, Yvonne McEvaddy gave me some really good advice. If you are not open to criticism you won’t grow as a writer or as a person. The entire process seemed to go down as smoothly as a fresh piece of red velvet cake!!!
Melanie: We had one month to write, edit and publish to release 8 Slices of Cake in times for Valentine’s Day. Everyone was really excited and didn’t waste time in getting it altogether. Some of the writers edited another writers work and then I proof-read all of them and structured them into a position that fit within the entire story. Our recipe writer pulled out at the last minute, but everyone pitched in to source their own cakes recipes and images to add something special and unique to 8 Slices of Cake. We self-published onto Smashwords, which was an easy process as everyone had the formatting guidelines to follow for submission of their story.
Yvonne: We each agreed to write a short story centered on two characters attending the wedding, to first self-edit, and then edit someone else’s story. We then sent all of the stories to Mel for publishing.
Meadow: Writing is the fun part, editing can be as well… publishing? I’d ask one of the more experienced ladies about that.
What was the most difficult part of creating “8 Slices of Cake?”
Lisa: It’s Cake man. Ever try to write about cake and not crave it.
Melanie: For me it was preparing the table of contents. I don’t know why but the linking and formatting just didn’t seem to work, once it was published. I tried numerous times. Then took the time to really read the instructions after the tenth time and it worked!
Paula: Not being able to scene set and having no idea, where I was.
Yvonne: I had immense fun in the creation of the book. I think Mel had the most difficult part, which was collaborating and publishing the whole thing.
Brenda: Writing about an 8 tiered cake without getting to eat any.
Monica: All the stories share the same reception, but each of us writes only a sliver about it. It all had to fit together logically, and in the end, I think it does.
Paige: For my chapter, being that I was the ‘Bride & Groom’, the challenge was trying to include a little piece of each of the 7 other authors details. I needed them all to be represented for continuity.
Chocolate or vanilla?
Lisa: YES. Chocolate and vanilla will be just fine. Thank you.
Brenda: Without question, chocolate!
Yvonne: Chocolate, without a doubt, unless being served with chocolate fudge cake, and then its vanilla.
Melanie: Chocolate! I love chocolate. Yvonne chose chocolate for her favour of cake, so I chose my next favourite – Caramel Indulgence.
Meadow: Personally, I’m a chocolate girl.
Monica: Vanilla. Top quality, high-fat vanilla.
Paige: Oh definitely chocolate. Hands down…I’m a chocolate girl!
Are any of the stories in this anthology based on reality?
Meadow: Not that I’m aware of.
Melanie: My story of Olivia and Chantelle is 100% fiction. But I do feel every woman reading 8 Slices of Cake would be able to connect with at least one character’s story amongst these 8 short stories.
Lisa: Actually yes, But I’ll never tell. Well. I really would be if I was threatened and then there’s that nasty gag order in place.
Paula: For me, it’s always a moment in time, a feeling, a reaction; I do draw upon that experience, in everything I do. Elements. I cannot write with passion without my elements.
Paige: Parts of my chapter were…but I’ll never tell which!!
Yvonne: Chocolate Heaven is a work of fiction, although I did draw on my own experience of missing my dad at weddings.
Brenda: I don’t know about any of the other stories but a good portion of my story, Red Velvet was from real life. I just had to add lib a bit.
Monica: My story is completely fictional. Little parts are based on my personal experience. After I read everyone else’s, I wondered if I should have written a science fiction bit, but it’s probably good I didn’t.
If this book were a movie, who would play the parts?
Melanie: Eva Mendes would play Chantelle, coming across as a snob with wealth yet really underneath it, she just wants to be loved. Olivia the woman who is easy to be walked over and believes in the fairy tale of romance, would be played by Taylor Swift.
Paula: Ryan Gosling is Tom I am sure.
Lisa: What a silly question. Why actors and actresses of course.
Brenda: For my story, Brooklyn should be played by Sandra Bullock and without a doubt Bo should be played by Richard Gere. Gerard could be played by John Travolta.
Yvonne: Anna Kendrick would play Melissa, and Zac Efron would play David.
Monica: Jennifer Lawrence plays Hope, Harrison Ford plays Rufus and Sela Ward plays Georgia.
Meadow: I’d like to see fresh new actors play the parts. Who wants their story to be tainted by preconceived notions?
Paige: Hard to say for each character, there are way too many. Ava, the bride, would probably be played by Drew Barrymore or Blake Lively.
How did you all agree on the title?
Yvonne: Hmm, not sure, I think when we agreed on setting the book at a wedding we just got talking about wedding cakes and our favourite flavours.
Paula: I am very diplomatic and went with the idea given to me.
Lisa: Brenda Perlin the big baby, threatened to leave the group if we didn’t use her Idea. Of course, after she paid me five dollars it was easy to vote for her.
Paige: We tossed ideas around, discussed, joked, then took votes. All of the ladies in this project were so amazing, it was really easy to find compromises. Everyone was open and willing to contribute ideas.
Melanie: Once we decided it was to be a wedding theme, we were all throwing in ideas and it was Brenda’s that made the cut!
Brenda: We racked our brains.
Monica: I love the title! It says “sweet,” “short stories” and “slice of life” all at the same time.
What is the most memorable wedding you’ve been to?
Melanie: Can I say my own!! The beach wedding was absolutely perfect. Nothing unplanned went haywire! Just a beautiful day, filled with love.
Lisa: My first one. My second one. My third one and my last one.
Paige: My oldest sisters. They were wed in a backyard wearing matching T-shirts, then we had a barbeque. It was really comfortable and fun.
Brenda: I would have to say my own. I was such a silly bride.
While I was greeting all the guests I realized I should have been locked away in a room so I wouldn’t see my future husband until I was walking down the aisle. While the ceremony was taking place I felt like I was doing stand up. I thought I needed to entertain everyone there. During dinner, I must have eaten close to ten rolls. I am the only bride I know that actually ate her entire meal.
Yvonne: My own. I have a kaleidoscope of memories from that day, and all of them involve smiling and dancing. It was a recession-friendly wedding, before the Celtic Tiger drove everyone and everything mad. We were young and in love and kept everything simple, because the important thing was us getting to spend the rest of our lives together, and as long as we got to do that, we were living a fairytale.
Meadow: Hmmm, haven’t been to many.
Monica: When the former CEO of a company I used to work for got married, she had the wedding in a convention center, she wore three dresses throughout the afternoon and evening, guests were served two entrees (fish AND steak), and I left feeling like I had been one to receive the gift, instead of the couple. It was an extravagant experience.
Can you give us any tips to co-writing?
Paula: Don’t think about it too much, use your creative energy to spur yourself on and worry about the detail at the end and don’t panic about the other writers being better than you!
Melanie: Be organized from the get go, be clear. One big email instead of several small ones is best. Find a fun group of writers that you have respect for and enjoy their writing style before you start.
Lisa: Keep a bottle of wine handy. Yes cheap wine is Ok too.
Meadow: Check your email and make sure to get back to your partners ASAP. I wasn’t too good at that.
Brenda: Stay true to yourself and don’t let yourself get intimidated or doubt your talent.
Monica: Be flexible. It’s fiction after all.
Paige: Communication is key. It is also vitally important to have one person be in charge so there is no confusion. We were incredibly lucky to have Mel Toye as our ‘fearless leader’. She was completely amazing, kept everyone organized and on task, and did a tremendous amount of extra work. She made the whole process painless and fun.
Do you have plans for another collaboration?
Paula: Yes, another one is on the cards. I hope.
Lisa: How would I know I just do as they tell me. Its better like…let the old lady know so she embarrasses us.
Meadow: Hmmm, maybe.
Yvonne: Nothing definite, but watch this space.
Monica: I’m always open to opportunities.
Paige: I definitely hope we do. We’ve tossed the idea around. It really was fun.
Brenda: That is up to Melanie. She is full of ideas. With her I am inclined to say “yes.”
Melanie: You will just have to wait and see. 😉
**Additional Comments: As you can tell from the above answers, we are all different people, living different lives, with different outlooks on life. And this is what has created such unique and interesting stories that combine 8 Slices of Cake. It is a must read.
**ABOUT THE AUTHORS**
Meadow Bleu: Meadow Bleu is an Indie-Author, currently working on publishing her first collection of poetry-‘Swallow the Sun’, due to be released by fall of 2013, in which she attempts to shine a light on the more dismal side of life, not popularly addressed in poetry. With an off-beat rhythm and a drop of her soul in each word she writes, Meadow reflects emotion rather than events, giving her work a unique feel. As a college student raised under the wing of her mother Paige Bleu, also an author, Meadow is stepping up to share her love of literature with the rest of the world.
Yvonne McEvaddy: Yvonne McEvaddy lives and works in co. Galway, Ireland. She is the author of two novels, Passion Killer, available on smashwords.com, amazon.com, and amazon.co.uk, and Shadows of the Dead, available on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. She is currently working on her third novel, Thief of Hearts. Yvonne has been longlisted in the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year competition.
Yvonne has been dabbling in the written word since early childhood, having decided at the age of 5, when she read her first Enid Blyton book, that she wanted to be a writer. Her summer holidays were often spent writing adventures in the remaining pages of her school copybooks. When not writing she was daydreaming about her books being available in her local bookstores, a dream which has recently come true.
She was first published under her maiden name, Yvonne Gaughan, at the age of 17 when she won a Western Health Board competition to have her essay published in 100 Natural Highs.
Also as Yvonne Gaughan, in college she was a member of the Mystic Poets’ Society and had two poems published in their collaboration, Mystic Spirits.
Yvonne McEvaddy is a member of the Javawriters, who have recently published Infusions, a collaboration of their work.
She took part in the first ever short story compiled by tweets, along with well known crime writers Val McDermid, Mark Billingham and Martyn Waites. The story is entitled First Stop: Revenge and can be found at: https://twitter.com/eastcoaststory.
Melanie Toye: Melanie Toye is chasing her dreams in becoming an International Best Selling Author. Melanie is also a freelance writer and Mother who loves to inspire everyone to chase their dreams in life. Melanie loves to share her art of writing and creating stories to all those who love to read. Melanie lives in Australia with her husband, son and two dogs.
Books by Melanie include a fictional women’s read, ‘Entice Me’. Entice Me is a journey that explores life changing events that forces each woman to rediscover themselves and what they are seeking from life. Meltdowns, break-ups, love and laughter make Entice Me into an entertaining read. Entice Me can be purchased from Smashwords here https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/234817.
Other e-books written by Melanie include:
‘Kids, write your own stories’ which hosts 26 Creative Writing Activities for ages 8 +. Let your child create a story where anything can happen. This e-book is purely to inspire and excite children to take a step out of the technicalities and rules of writing. As they write freely letting their imagination guide them. Kids, write your own stories can be purchased from Smashwords here https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/256231.
‘Annabelle’s Angels’ is a sweet a sweet story about a young girl who can see angels. A great story that will show your child how magical a world can be, when one believes in the power of angels. Annabelle’s Angels can be purchased from Smashwords here https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/255635.
‘Activities for Babies’ is another classic example of Melanie’s creativity in the home. With a young son of her own, Melanie created an e-book for babies aged 6 months +. The activities included use items around the home that will surely give your baby a giggle and a new platform for exploration and learning. http://www.amazon.com/Activities-Babies-When-enough-ebook/dp/B00961P0XG
The next big novel release by Melanie is Destiny Lane, a fantasy novel that will take readers on a journey of living in a world where the mind creates what you want at the moment you want it. Let your imagination fly.
Make sure you become a fan of M-Toye on Facebook to read more about what great reads she is working on and recommend these great reads to all of your friends and social clubs. http://www.facebook.com/pages/M-Toye/146863872056871?fref=ts
Brenda Perlin: I live in Orange County, California. I have spent most of my working life in the physical fitness arena. I love the gratification that comes with helping people achieve their fitness goals and I love the fulfillment that comes with having a healthy body.
I moved from the Los Angeles area where I was raised to Orange County in the Spring of 2005. During that time I was a housewife with a couple of dogs. Now I am not. Instead I am writing my adventures for all to read.
Paula Mills: Born and raised in the depths of quintessential English countryside, I decided at nineteen, to lumber a backpack and off I stomped; as far from the rapeseed fields of home as I could get . I headed to the Australian Outback and talked myself up into a job as a Jillaroo on a remote Sheep Station. I learnt two things. Firstly the harsh reality of a sometimes cruel and dust ridden landscape. Secondly, there is nothing quite like a cold beer and true mate ship, to get you through. I fell in love with the red dirt and on returning to the UK, I left a piece of my own heart behind. Ten years later, the fate boomerang threw me back down under, and Australia is now my home; with my gorgeous husband and daughter. I write for the love of writing, I love (and I am proud to be known as) a Chick Lit writer and reader. Like the rest of my peers, I fit in the have to do list, the want to do list, and the wish I had the time for me list , in between raising a happy family and all the little trip hazard stuff life throws at us.
Lisa Day: Lisa Day hails from the southern part of the United States. She went from Northern flower the Southern belle years ago and swears she will never go north of the Mason-Dixon line again. She hates cold weather.
She was always an avid reader went the mood hit. At times years would go by and she’d not touch a book. Then she would bring home bags full and read at times three books a day for months. However it wasn’t until she retired that she found an interest in writing. Her stories can be intense and yet there must be a happy ever ending.
Monica Lee: Monica Lee, a personal historian, blogger and writer, has been a daily newspaper reporter and marketing executive. “8 Slices of Cake” is her first foray into romantic fiction, though she’s lived romantic (and unromantic) reality. She is the author of“The Percussionist’s Wife: A Memoir of Sex, Crime & Betrayal,” the true story of her first marriage to a man accused of a sex crime with one of his drum line students. She’s now working on a prequel which fictionalizes her coming of age in a small Minnesota town in the early ‘80s. She lives in northern Illinois with her second husband, the love of her life.
Paige Bleu: Paige Bleu is an Indie-Author, currently working on publishing and promoting her supernatural, fantasy series-‘The Ameryn Chronicles’. Volume 1-‘Finding Summerland’-became available in July 2012. This is the first officially published work of Paige’s, who was a ghost writer previously, as well as many other things! Paige is on her own journey of self discovery…learning the ropes of marketing, social networking, and self publishing simultaneously. She shares the experience with followers through blogging…candidly dishing over the perils of juggling work, life, and her passion for writing. Her style is unconventional and unique, reflecting her own eclectic, ‘free bird’ personality.
Right now Paige is working on the second installment of the ‘Ameryn’ series, ‘LivEternal’. Future projects include another young adult, paranormal series, as well as a few short stories and memoirs. Beyond that could be anything…that’s the beauty of being an Indie-Author…you never know what might come next!
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