TALKS ABOUT HER FIRST NOVEL: BETRAYAL ON THE BAYOU
I want to welcome author Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte who has graciously agreed to a FOUR question interview. And I have to say this is one of the best and most timely answers to questions I’ve experienced.
Sheryl is a Pushcart Prize nominee and an Oakland, California-based multidisciplinary writer. Her autobiographical and fictional short story collections, along with her lyrical and stunning poetry have been described as “rich in vivid imagery,” “incredible,” and “great contributions to literature.” She is also a popular literary reader, presenter, storyteller, curator, and emcee for local events. Her first novel, “Betrayal on the Bayou,” was published in June 2020.
As a Southern white man, born in Florida, but raised in Mississippi, then living my entire adult life in Georgia, I am looking forward to reading Shery’s book Betrayal on the Bayou. Her descriptions in the following give one a different way of looking at the issue of “…the killing abuses of power, racism, incest, sexism, classism…”
R: Thank you for this interview, Sheryl.
S: Thank you, Ronovan, for inviting me.
R: Let’s get right into it. What was your research/inspiration for the Betrayal on the Bayou?
S: Well, Betrayal on the Bayou is a work of historical fiction, so my research was a combination of known family history heavily sprinkled with factual events from the time period I chose, along with more than a bit of my ever-active imagination. My inspiration came from my desire to tell pieces of my family history while trying to capture, even if infinitesimally, the relentlessness of racism and colorism and how it affected the everyday lives of people depicted in the book and how that is still the case today. After a recent coffee meeting with a White female writing club president, and her fervent use of the false equivalency of her blonde hair to indicate her deep understanding of segregation and bias, writing Betrayal on the Bayou, became even more urgent for me. In the book, I use strong, graphically described examples to depict the scourge and impacts of separation, colorism and racism.
R: How can today’s readers take lessons from the book and use them for today?
S: First of all, I do believe that reading promotes empathy and understanding and that those two things can lead to the promotion and hopefully implementation of change and correction of ill treatment and marginalization of Black people and people of color. It is important that people of today realize this is not a new phenomenon. That it did not just crop up when George Floyd was murdered, and more White people decided to pay some attention to it. People need to know how baked-in these beliefs are; how much work was put into separation in every facet of life; and, how there have always been Black people who lived in very different ways. We are not a monolithic people, and we all suffer some deep form of discrimination on a daily basis even to this day. I also tackle the impacts and outcomes of gender bias, economics, and other areas of everyday living in the early 1850’ s ripe for betrayal in a closed society where almost anything can happen, and let readers know that many things they may think are new, are not.
R: What else would you like readers to know about Betrayal on the Bayou?
S: That it is not the usual historical fiction fare with the characters one may look for from the 1800’s Southern U.S. Oh, they are there of course, because they are fundamental to the place and time, but they are not the center of the story. Readers will be intrigued while trying to determine what is fact and what is fiction within a dystopian yet very possibly real, isolated town. I want readers to know that the setting and the people are unusual, that the things that happen are stark and substantive, and that betrayals as well as the inhumanity and humanity will stay on your mind long after you have read the epilogue.
R: I encourage everyone to read Betrayal on the Bayou. I found it to be… It is available at Amazon, and other vendors. For a full list of the booksellers and their links for Betrayal on the Bayou, visit Goodreads. For more information on Sheryl and her writing, please go to www.sheryljbize-boutte.com. Thank you so much, Sheryl.
Drema Drudge’s deep interest in art led her back to college and it brought her debut historical novel, Victorine, soon to be released on March 17, 2020.
In this interview, Drema provides insights into the life of a female artist in 19th century Paris.
To begin, who is Victorine?
Victorine Meurent was Édouard Manet’s self-professed favorite model. In all she sat for about 11 paintings for him. She also posed for artists Alfred Stevens, Edgar Degas, and more.
She came from a poor family, and not much is known about her beyond that she was born in 1844 and died in 1927. She lived with a woman named Marie DuFour for around the last twenty years of her life, presumably as her partner.
Indeed, she did go to art school. Her work was accepted by the Paris Salon on multiple occasions.
Much that history “remembers” of her is lies: that she supposedly died a young, financially ruined alcoholic prostitute. None of that is true. The few things we do know about her show that to be untrue.
An encounter with Olympia painted by Édouard Manet inspired you to write this book. Tell us a bit about this journey to finally writing Victorine.
I was primed before encountering Olympia to see the story in paintings by a previous literature class I had taken called The Painted Word. I wrote a short story of Olga Meerson (who modeled for Henri Matisse) which was published by the Louisville Review. Then when I took yet another literature class with the same professor, he put up a slide of Olympia and I sensed that the painting, that is, the model in it, had more to say. I wanted to know what. A novel was born.
Do you paint? Do you have an education in art?
I do paint a little, but a very little. I am finally allowing myself to learn a bit of technique. Previous to that I didn’t want to learn; I wanted to feel free to play and dabble without judging myself the way I judge my writing.
The only “formal” education I have in art is visiting art museums and reading about it. I get “hungry” for art if I’ve been away from the real deal for too long. But I’ve often wished I had an art history masters. I might get one, eventually.
What was it about Victorine Meurent that caught your fancy and kept your interest until you completed the book (and possibly beyond)?
In my research on Olga Meerson, I discovered that Olga was a painter, and yet here all anyone remembered her for was her modeling. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that yet another painting was calling to me, and the model in it, Victorine, was also a forgotten painter. I had to write about her.
The more I researched her, the more I realized there wasn’t much to go on. I couldn’t see how anyone could weave a tale with so little thread, and yet, as a novelist, I had that very thread at hand. If not me, who?
Can I presume that you undertook significant research to write Victorine? How much? Where did it take you?
My research took me to Paris, first and foremost, its streets, museums, and cemeteries, I tried to imagine Victorine in the City of Lights.
But much of my research was necessarily completed via books, from following in the footsteps of those who had attempted to study her before. There was much rumor, little fact available. I knew that by the records of those who had attempted to find her before.
How long did this book take from the first encounter of Olympia to its publication? What challenges did you encounter?
I encountered Victorine as Olympia in 2011, and my novel is just now being published in 2020. The first rough draft only took six months to write, but then it underwent some revisions, which slowed it down. When I found an agent, she shopped it for quite a while. In 2019 I was informed that it was finally going to be published, and I was more than ready.
What is the sociopolitical context of this story? Is it critical to this story you tell?
Oh my, yes. Women, and particularly poor woman, of the mid 1800’s in Paris weren’t considered much. And to aspire to be a painter in those circumstances? Almost impossible to achieve. That’s why I quickly realized Meurent must have had an indominable spirit, to have achieved what she did.
Then there was the birth of Impressionism and Modernism hand in hand. Both of these movements fought against the art establishment of their day. Enter Victorine as a stand-in for the art critics as Manet found his voice as a painter (and, most say, the Father of Modernism) as well. I wanted to explore the overlooked influence a model has on a work. As muse, yes, but the additions she makes that the artist cannot exclude, try as (in this case he) might.
How would you describe the relationship between Manet and Victorine Meurent? What attracted her to him, and vice versa? What was she to him, and vice versa?
Many believe they were lovers. I do not. I think they respected one another, eventually, professionally, although their artistic differences are thought to be what drove them apart in the end.
Meurent decided Manet was being too risky while seeking the approval of the Salon. He refused to stay the expected course but also refused to totally embrace himself. He wouldn’t give up his need for acceptance, which he didn’t receive until just before he died and, of course, after. Meurent literally couldn’t afford to follow her fancy, painting more traditionally than Manet so she could sell her art.
As to what attracted him to her, she dared tell him the truth about his art. Other than the critics, no one dared. Manet was not a man who could handle criticism, and yet art cannot grow without it. I believe Meurent, as his model, managed to be that bridge for him: she was socially beneath him enough that he could disregard her criticism if he liked, and yet the honest artist part of him was able to embrace it. Or that’s my story. I have no way of knowing if that was true.
Meurent and Manet were fond of one another, essential to one another in ways they couldn’t articulate to themselves or others, I believe. You don’t have to see someone every day or every year to know how important you are to their purpose on the planet. I believe they were just that crucial to one another. It wasn’t love. It was something else, something I spent a large part of the novel trying to define.
What is, in your view, Meurent’s inner life?
Meurent’s narrative is a bit performative, so I’m not surprised by the question, and yet if she had been more inner directed aloud, the novel would have been in danger of tilting toward the maudlin. Neither she nor I wanted that!
She lived her inner life on the canvas and in her musings as she painted or was painted. Her life was a work of art, first by others, then by herself.
It wasn’t as if she hid her desires or her vulnerability from the reader. By pointing some things out, she was admitting, gingerly, what she wanted and needed. The main goal of the story, and her goal as narrator, was to bring herself back to history as a painter. It was to show that art can serve as lover.
She could receive and understand art and humanity with a generosity and intelligence that few have.
More than that, I think she’d prefer to keep to herself.
What degree of artistic license did you take with Victorine and the events in the book?
I did what the book required. I strove to tell the truth, although often the factual truth wasn’t available, so I had to fabricate pieces of the story from the bits I had at hand.
You have chosen to begin the book with Manet and Meurent’s first meeting in 1862, and have tied her to Manet throughout the book until her acceptance into the Salon de Paris. Why? And why this period?
I quickly realized in my research that Manet played an extremely important part in Meurent’s life. I first conceived her story not as a novel, but more as a series of linked stories (that being the trend at the time) with each story centering on a painting. Since Manet was the artist whose paintings of her were most known, that seemed the place to begin.
One of the many themes in this novel is breaking away from Bloom’s anxiety of influence; that is, learning who you are versus your mentors. Her formation as an artist sprang directly from being able to detach herself from Manet’s studio.
As I read Victorine, it seems Meurent is explaining herself or justifying her actions and motives in relation to Manet and on occasions, Alfred Stevens, instead of the reader (like myself) gaining access to her independent inner world of what drives her. Was there a particular reason for this?
I don’t know that it was conscious on my part, but it makes sense. Meurent was the object of the male gaze from a child on, with first her father painting her. Part of her cycle of growth was breaking away from being the object. It was a process; she protected herself from them and from us as readers as she went along. I’ll allow it.
It was fascinating to see the maturing process of Victorine, young muse and aspiring artist, to Meurent, accomplished and confident. I enjoy the triangulation of relationships. Did you decide to do this? Why?
In some cases I was very aware of the triangulation, such as between her, Manet, and Berthe Morisot, and in other places, not as much. I supposed I am innately aware of the delicious tension inherent in triangulation.
If Meurent is unfair to anyone in the novel, if she has a blind spot, it’s that she underestimates Suzanne Manet. That’s her (professional) jealousy talking. Suzanne’s retribution is my way of showing the reader the truth.
If there is one thing you want the reader to take away from the book, what would it be?
My goal, first and foremost, is to return Victorine Meurent and her contributions to art herstory. If the reader thinks of Victorine not as just a nude on a canvas, but as a living, growing human being who did, in reality, go to art school and make contributions even to the prestigious Paris Salon, I will have done my job. If she lingers with the reader, that’s a bonus for which I surely hope.
Are you working on a new writing project now? And if so, what is it and does it involve art as well?
All of my books are likely to contain art, though I have a loosely connected concept for them: I want to eventually write about all of the arts. Next up, music. I juxtapose the worlds of country music and…Virginia Woolf!
How fascinating! I will be looking out for its release. Finally, where and when can readers get their hands on Victorine?
Victorine’s release is scheduled for March 17, 2020. It’s available for preorder on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Once out, it will also be available on the Fleur-de-Lis website.
Who’s the Real Criminal: Blackbeard the Pirate or Governor Spotswood Who Hunted Him Down?
By Samuel Marquis
In Blackbeard: The Birth of America, Historical Fiction Author Samuel Marquis, the ninth great-grandson of Captain William Kidd, chronicles the legendary Edward Thache—former British Navy seaman and notorious privateer-turned-pirate, who lorded over the Atlantic seaboard and Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy. A Robin-Hood-like American patriot and the most famous freebooter of all time, Blackbeard was illegally hunted down by Virginia Governor Alexander Spotswood, the British Crown’s man in Williamsburg obsessed with his capture. This year marks the 300th anniversary of Blackbeard’s death.
On February 14, 1719, Virginia Lieutenant Governor Spotswood wrote a letter to Lord Cartwright, a proprietor of North Carolina, in which he attempted to explain his justification for authorizing the invasion of his lordship’s colony and killing of Blackbeard the pirate and nine of his crew members at Ocracoke Island on November 22, 1718. The pirate, whose real name was Edward Thache of Spanish Town, Jamaica, and his men had recently been pardoned by Governor Eden of the colony, and Spotswood wanted to make sure that he was not accused of exceeding his authority and committing murder in North Carolina waters. His deliberately misleading letter was one of the British governor’s usual interminable fussy letters, and in it he falsely boasted to have rescued “the trade of North Carolina from the insults of pirates upon the earnest solicitations of the inhabitants there,” even though only one complaint involving a single minor incident had been filed. He further expressed his hope that his actions would “not be unacceptable to your lordships.” He admitted that he had not informed either the proprietors or Eden about his invasion plan, which was required by law, but chose not to mention that this was because he believed Eden to be conspiring with Blackbeard.
When Spotswood invaded the proprietary colony of North Carolina to the south, neither he nor the seventy Royal Navy officers and crew members he commanded to hunt down Blackbeard and his pirates had the authority to invade another colony. In the fall of 1718 at the time of the attack, Blackbeard was, legally speaking, a citizen who had broken no laws and was in good standing. He had been pardoned by Governor Eden for his previous piracies, had paid the appropriate fees to the governor and customs collector Tobias Knight in the form of casks of sugar, had applied for and received legal approval to salvage a French vessel captured near Bermuda from that same governor, and had yet to be indicted for any crime. Spotswood had, in effect, authorized the kidnapping or killing of the resident of another colony—depending on whether Blackbeard resisted or not.
But the governor was not bothered by the overt illegality of his scheme. He had already made up in his mind months earlier that he was going to go after Edward Thache without reservation, by taking action first and seeking approval from the British Board of Trade and lords proprietors later. He wanted the notorious Blackbeard—and Governor Eden and Tobias Knight too—so badly that he could taste it. He had long been intent on extending his control and influence over Virginia’s southern border, which he never considered to be far enough south, and he was intent on acquiring the fledgling proprietary colony and folding it into his own powerful royal colony of Virginia. By finding damning evidence that Eden and Blackbeard were in collusion and that Eden and Knight were receiving bribes for looking the other way, he hoped to make a Virginia takeover a reality.
The aggressive overreach of Spotswood begs the question: who is the criminal in this case, the lawfully pardoned and likely retired pirate or the colonial governor who knowingly broke the law to hunt him down, killed him and his crew, and then put the survivors on trial?
Between January 1716 and November 22, 1718, when he was killed at Ocracoke at the hands of Lieutenant Maynard and the Royal Navy, Edward Thache captured more than thirty merchant vessels along the Atlantic seaboard, Caribbean, and Spanish Main, and one 200-ton slaver, which he converted into his flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge. At the peak of his freebooting career in April 1718, he served as commodore of a 700-man, five-ship, 60-plus-gun pirate flotilla that rivaled the strength of any pirate fleet in history. According to one researcher, Blackbeard and the other pirates of his short-lived era had at their zenith “disrupted the trans-Atlantic commerce of three empires and even had the warships of the Royal Navy on the run.” And yet, during the course of his career, he never physically harmed anyone until the day he was battling for his life (he was reportedly shot five times and stabbed more than twenty times before he finally fell from being decapitated by a seaman’s cutlass). In fact, Thache typically showed his victims respect and let them down easily after taking their ships as prizes, giving them vessels in trade, food and provisions, and even receipts for merchandise.
In an age when violence was commonplace, he did no more harm to captured ship captains than to detain them for a brief period of time. As pirate historian Arne Bialuschewski states: “I haven’t seen one single piece of evidence that Blackbeard ever used violence against anyone.” Colin Woodard, author of The Republic of Pirates, echoes this sentiment: “Blackbeard was remarkably judicious in his use of force. In the dozens of eyewitness accounts of his victims, there is not a single instance in which he killed anyone prior to his final, fatal battle with the Royal Navy. “
The son of a wealthy plantation-owner from Jamaica and a former Royal Navy officer and privateer on behalf of the British Crown, by 1716 Thache became a no-holds-barred outlaw taking the vessels of all nations. But he and his men did not view themselves as outlaws, but rather as Robin-Hood-like figures and American patriots fighting against British domination and the Atlantic mercantile system that favored the 1% of their day. And that was how the American people largely viewed them, too. While the upper-middle-class Jamaican was portrayed as a “barbarous” monster by the pro-British newspapers, merchant elite, and Alexander Spotswood, he was known as a Robin-Hood-like folk hero defying the British Crown among his fellow American colonists. The image of Blackbeard as a cruel and ruthless villain imbued with almost supernatural powers was largely created by propagandist newspaper accounts of the era (particularly the pro-British Boston News-Letter) and Captain Charles Johnson’s (Nathanial Mist’s) A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates, first published in 1724 six years after Blackbeard’s death. As Bialuschewski states about the latter: “This book has been plundered by generations of historians, despite the fact that it is riddled with errors, exaggerations, and misunderstandings.” More than any published work, Captain Johnson’s propogandist tome created the notorious but unrealistic Blackbeard image that we know today and celebrate in movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and TV shows like Black Sails and Crossbones.
And what about Spotswood? While Blackbeard was playing out the role of Robin Hood of the high seas, the governor of Virginia was getting rich and fat at the colonists’ expense and showing open contempt for the colony’s lower house of elected representatives and the colonial democratic process. The governor’s many critics claimed he employed heavy-handed tactics to control tobacco exports through his Tobacco Inspection Act, rewarded his loyal friends with patronage positions, and acquired large tracts of valuable land through shady practices. With his Indian Trade Act, he granted the Virginia Indian Company that he created a twenty-year monopoly over American Indian trade, and charged the company with maintaining Fort Christanna, a settlement in the southern tidewater region for smaller Indian tribes. Establishing the company was Spotswood’s attempt to circumvent political opposition by shifting the financial burden of defense against Indians from the colonial government to private enterprise, but in doing so, he angered those who had invested in private trade. All in all, his policies were unpopular with Virginia tobacco planters, landholders, and commoners alike since all sought to maintain their independence from the British Crown. By 1722, he was toppled from government due to “an accumulation of grievances” from Virginia’s House of Burgesses and his own Governor’s Council, but by then Spotswood had made so much money from questionable land deals that his governorship had become immaterial. He would remain the wealthiest man in Virginia until his death in 1740.
One of his more disgraceful actions was to deny payment of the promised reward money to Lieutenant Maynard and the other Royal Navy seamen who had battled Thache at Ocracoke until four years after the battle—even though Spotswood had, by binding decree, promised prompt payment upon the capture of the pirate and his crew. After four years of delay, many of those who had fought valiantly and spilled blood upon the decks of the two naval sloops had died or retired from the service, and so never received a penny.
For Spotswood, the judgement of history has been severe, particularly when it comes to Blackbeard. He knowingly launched an illegal expedition in violation of the King’s and governor of North Carolina’s pardons to destroy the freebooter (who was likely retired from piracy) and his crew, all in an effort to gather evidence to be used to undermine Eden and his second-in-command and thereby further his own career and financial gain. In the eyes of history, it is Spotswood who is far more criminal, immoral, and unethical than Blackbeard, Eden, or Knight. Not only did he knowingly and illicitly violate the sovereignty of a neighboring colony, he conspired with and was closely associated with the ethically suspect Edward Moseley, Colonel Maurice Moore, and Captain Vail. In December 1718, the Moseley gang broke into the house of North Carolina Secretary John Lovick in an attempt to examine Council records for incriminating evidence against Eden and Knight. When Spotswood’s North Carolina conspirators Moseley and Moore were tried the following year, the event was a sensation and Moseley was fined and barred from public office for three years. Spotswood did his best to distance himself from Moseley and Moore, but his critics knew better.
In the end, he is remembered as a slave-owning British elitist, stodgy bureaucrat, hypocrite, and profiteer who used the governor’s office to lord over “the people” in the name of the Crown, promote his own self-interests at the public expense, and destroy his political enemies or those, like Blackbeard, that he disapproved of.
He will always be Inspector Javert to Blackbeard’s Jean Valjean from Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.
The ninth great-grandson of legendary privateer Captain William Kidd, Samuel Marquis is the bestselling, award-winning author of historical pirate fiction, a World War Two Series, and the Nick Lassiter-Skyler International Espionage Series. His novels have been #1 Denver Post bestsellers, received multiple national book awards (Foreword Reviews Book of the Year, American Book Fest Best Book, USA Best Book, Beverly Hills, Next Generation Indie, Colorado Book Awards), and garnered glowing reviews from #1 bestseller James Patterson, Kirkus, and Foreword Reviews (5 Stars). Book reviewers have compared Marquis’s WWII thrillers Bodyguard of Deception and Altar of Resistance to the epic historical novels of Tom Clancy, John le Carré, Ken Follett, Herman Wouk, Daniel Silva, and Alan Furst. Mr. Marquis’s newest historical fiction novel, Blackbeard: The Birth of America, commemorates the 300th anniversary of Blackbeard’s death. His website is www.samuelmarquisbooks.com and for publicity inquiries, please contact JKS Communications at email@example.com.
Sorry I haven’t been around much recently, but today I bring you a review and the author, Tony Rauch, has also agreed to answer a few questions, so we have a double feature, a review and a mini-interview.
Title: what if I got down on my knees Author: Tony Rauch ISBN: 098293355X
what if i got down on my knees? presents romantic misadventures and entanglements of absurd, whimsical, existential longing, featuring discovery, secrets, identity, escape, strange happenings, endurance, regret, and hope. The stories are little postcards from the lonely regions of the human heart.
These tales of wonder are about people trying to find meaning and a place in an indifferent world, and their discoveries, revelations, secrets, failures, struggles, connections, and odd encounters along the way—
—two unemployed men steal dogs and run them through buildings around town.
—a man goes on what turns into the worst date in recorded history.
—you are asked to baby-sit for a neighbor, only to find a giant baby waiting for you.
—a man comes home to find his entire yard and home paved over by a long lost rival.
—a clerk at a used record store finds a man has passed away on one of the couches.
—some young adults go into the basement to get sad, in order to impress girls.
—a stranger extracts a baby from a man waiting for the bus.
With themes of longing, fragility, uncertainty, impermanence, regret, the mysteries hidden in everyday life, discovery, ennui, loneliness, irresponsible behavior, confusion, change, identity, and absurd situations, Tony Rauch is a worthy successor to the artistry and absurdism of Donald Barthelme and Steve Martin.
Body of review:
I received a copy of this novel from the author and I voluntarily review it for Lit World Interviews.
Short stories are an acquired taste. We might think a short read is perfect because we are always rushing and don’t have a lot of time, but sometimes we might feel disappointed when the story ends and we’ve invested time and, in the best of cases, emotions only to have to get to know some new characters after a few pages. Of course, not all short stories are born equal. And this collection of short stories by Tony Rauch proves the point.
Some of the short stories in this collection are whimsical (surreal) and might leave you scratching your head (or looking up to the sky searching for… No spoilers) , some are vignettes illustrating the lives of people who might appear content with their lives at a superficial level, but whose thoughts and worries run deeper than it seems, many are about lonely people wondering about others and trying to connect (in some occasions with hilarious consequences), some are about pretending to be something or somebody else, about growing up, about growing old, about moving on or remembering the past…
The quality of the writing is superb, and the first person narratives cleverly capture the speech and rhythms of the characters, who sometimes are talking to others, sometimes conducting an internal monologue with themselves, or even writing a story. From young kids trying to impress their friends to old men dying, from people contemplating a new relationship to others letting go, these few pages run the whole gamut of experiences and emotions.
To give you some examples:
His skin appeared two sizes too tight for his body, stiff and washed out, like he’d gotten it secondhand, or found it in an alley late at night.
His suit is mythical—straight, lean, long, pure, giving, musical, thoughtful, caring, dynamic, cosmopolitan, unselfish, strong, industrious, and nostalgic for his mother, her peanut butter cookies, and snowy Christmas mornings.
“And what would someone do with a dream of mine? Where would you keep it?”
“I’d stretch it out to create a sail, and then use it to float off to who knows where,” I advise.
Some of the stories are nostalgic and melancholy, but there are great comedic moments, ranging from slapstick to joyful turns of phrase (and oh, a so very satisfying revenge story). Another example I highlighted:
Eventually, he turned up in over 3000 cans of a popular brand of tuna. A horrible fate to be sure, and amplified by the fact that the guy was notoriously reputed to detest tuna.
I won’t tell you which stories I liked the most as I’d find it difficult. I checked the reviews, and on reading the comments when the reviewers mentioned a story or another I’d agree with them. So… Just go and read them and enjoy their variety.
What the book is about: Many things: growing up, life, dreams, realities, loneliness, relationships, friendship, revenge, writing…
Book Highlights: The quality of the writing and the very distinct characters and voices. The whimsical sense of humour.
Challenges of the book: Sometimes with the electronic version I wasn’t clear when I had moved from one story to another. The titles of the individual stories and the different parts weren’t always easy to tell apart.
Although the book is not long, I think it is best taken slowly and savouring the quality of the writing, rather than rushing to get to the end of the story. It is not a book to be read in a hurry.
What do you get from it: Beautiful writing, stories that make you think and a few laughs.
What I would have changed if anything: As I mentioned perhaps change the size of the titles or the formatting (in the digital version) to make the divisions clearer.
Who Would I recommend this book to?: To readers who enjoy language and a mood more than heavily plotted stories (although there are some great ones too). And to writers who are considering writing short stories, or just keen on exploring the many ways characterization works.
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 4.5/5 Made Me Think: 4/5 Overall enjoyment: 4.5/5 Readability: 4/5 Recommended: 5/5 Overall Rating: 4.5/5
People have less and less time these days and short forms of writing are becoming more and more popular. From flash-fiction to microfiction and even stories told in Tweets, it’s all about brevity. Of course, the short story has a long tradition, but what is for you a short story? And what makes it (so far) your preferred choice when writing? –
For me a short story is anything that conveys a feeling, or an event, or that sets up an event that may then spring forward. It does not have to have a beginning or an ending. I like story starters, that is a written piece that poses a situation or premise, and then you have to imagine various outcomes. But the premise is so interesting it creates that zing in your brain and gets you thinking. That to me is a good story: anything that kick-starts that zing in your imagination and gets you thinking on a different track or about various possibilities.
I prefer the short form because I don’t need a lot of useless background info that longer work sometimes gets bogged down in. I don’t have a lot of free time, so the short form is good for getting ideas down. I have a lot of different ideas, so the short form works well in sorting them into more organized paradigms.
Who are your favourite writers, in general, and writers of short stories (if they aren’t the same ones)? Why? What have you learned from them? –
Favorite authors, influences:Anyone interesting, imaginative, and concise. Anyone who makes you think.
Mostly I like short stories as they get to the point quickly. The books that really inspired me are mostly imaginative story collections because they were exciting and new and you never knew what was going to happen next in them. Also, they were brief, which made them memorable and easily digestible.
I like strange or absurd adventures that are well crafted and have a meaning to them, and sci fi as it offers ideas. Reading these types of writers is like taking mini adventures that I could not experience otherwise in the limitations of my actual life –
Donald Barthelme, J.D. Salinger, Richard Brautigan, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Charles Bukowski, Leonard Michaels (murderers), Mark Twain, James Thurber, Antoine de Saint Exupery (the little prince), Dr. Seuss (cool illustrations), Roald Dahl, Steve Martin (cruel shoes), W.P. Kinsella (the alligator report), Jim Heynen (the man who kept cigars in his cap), Don Delillo.
Barry Yourgrau, Mark Leyner, Adrienne Clasky (from the floodlands), Lydia Davis (Samuel Johnson is indignant), Etgar Keret, Stacey Richter, George Singleton, James Tate (Return to the city of white donkeys), Thom Jones, Italo Calvino, Stephen-Paul Martin, Will Self, Denis Johnson (Jesus’ son), David Gilbert (I shot the hairdresser), David Sedaris, Paul Di Filippo, D. Harlan Wilson, Andersen Prunty.
Science fiction from the 40s, 50s, and 60s:
Rod Serling, L. Sprague De Camp, Ray Bradbury, Phillip K. Dick, Aurthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Charles Beaumont, Ursula K. Le Guin, Douglas Adams (an 80’s writer), etc.
Many writers read this blog. I subscribe to the advice that one should read in order to improve one’s writing. I know it will be a difficult choice, but any stories in particular that have had an impact on you or have increased your understanding of the form?
Yes, many – see the list of authors above. One thing I look for is that buzz or zing when they convey a feeling or present something I hadn’t ever seen before. For example, I like that F. Scott Fitzgerald story “Winter dreams” because in it the character changes, or his feelings for someone changes. I like that arc, that sense of change the character goes through in a story. That story presents a loss, and the character’s feelings about that change and loss.
You can find book information and story samples on that bad boy of rock and roll.
If you know of any good publishers looking for arty story collections, please let them know about me. I’m always looking for good publishers. A lot of places don’t publish single author story collections.
Thank you for your time.
Thanks very much to Tony Rauch for his book and for answering my questions, thanks to you for reading, and don’t forget to like, share, comment, and CLICK!
Today’s Spotlight Author is our very own Angela Kay! A new Indie Author as well as one of our busiest book reviewers here at LWI.
1. How did you come up with the idea for your novel the Murder of Manny Grimes?
I started writing it during my final semester of college. I was taking a writing course where we were to write the first thirty pages of a novel. I didn’t really have an inspiration strike…I just started writing and the plot seemed to unfold. My professor and students alike loved the beginning of the story. Because of my passion of writing, I continued the first draft with the hopes of getting it published one day.
2. For aspiring writers out there, tell us how long it took you from idea to publishing your novel? Tell us about the process of how it all came about.
It took me seven years to perfect it. I finished the first draft in a year. I was excited because it was the first full length novel I finished. For the most part, I’d only written short stories. After that, I began to edit my book, and it was a major headache. I must have changed the direction of the story three or four times. I took a lot of breaks from it…more than I should have. Finally, by the many rocks God tossed my way, I finished my final draft. And just as I finished, I came across an awesome editor who didn’t mind fixing a few kinks. I played around with the idea of submitting my completed novel to a bunch of agents, but the truth is, it’s a dog eat dog world out there. I didn’t have patience for a bunch of no’s. Even when I was ready to send it off, I was hard on myself about whether it’s good or not. After considering my options, I went the route of starting as an Indie author. My publisher is a long time friend of a friend, so I trusted him. After I got my beloved books in my hands, I knew I did the right thing.
3. What kind of research did you do for the novel?
The setting used to take place in New York, but someone a long time ago told me it sounds as though it’s in Augusta, Ga (where I currently reside). That got me a bit worried because the setting relies a lot on the aftermath of a bad snowstorm. I mean, it is the south, where we hardly see one flake. I went online to see whether it was possible (although I knew it’d be okay since it’s fiction and anything was possible). I was glad to find that in 1973 we were hit with sixteen inches of snow. Although it was a long time, it satisfied me. The other researching I did was try and get the investigation as close to real as possible. I spoke to several police officers, primarily lieutenants, since my main character is a lieutenant. They were kind enough to answer any and all questions.
4. When I read a book I sometimes like to have a visual of characters. What actors would play your main characters in a movie?
Lt. Jim DeLong: Michael Fassbender. He’s a little older than DeLong, but I think he’d be good for it.
Russ Calhoun: Possibly Dean Winters
5. What are you working on now?
I’m currently editing the sequel to “Manny Grimes,” and plan to release it in a few months. I also have an FBI thriller ready to be edited and another book I’ve almost completed. I’m only doing suspense now, however, I’m starting to dabble with a bit of romance–I already have an idea for a saga.
6. I know you edit the work of other authors, how can people contact you for your services?
7. What do you think is the one thing that drives your main character to do what he does?
Lieutenant Jim DeLong is passion-driven. I think when he gets something in his mind, he can’t seem to let it go. It’s also somewhat of a release while he’s dealing with personal issues outside of work.
8. If you could’ve written any other book than your own, what would it be and why?
Probably “Pride and Prejudice.” I love that book so much. It’s in a complete different era and I get swept away in the character’s lives.
Is there a way people can get an autographed copy of your book?
Sure! They can email me for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org. I sell signed copies of my book for $14 even. That includes shipping and handling. You can check out my book by clicking on these links: Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
I had the pleasure of interviewing author K.T. Munson. The first book of hers I read was Zendar: A Tale of Blood and Sand, which I loved. I also have her latest, Unfathomable Chance, in my hands. Thank you, K.T., for allowing me to interview you!
What do you like to read in your free time?
I actually like to review indie authors and small press houses books in my free time…the little free time I have. I’ve had some real gems come across my kindle and they inspire me to work harder and become a better author. Plus I get to help out fellow indie authors, so that is always a bonus.
What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?
This is a tough question for me because I never really paid attention to anyone and just sort of did my own thing. So instead I’ll take some creative liberties here. The most helpful thing I can think of is when my mother showed me that we have an ancestor who is a published poet. I told my mum I was going to be published one day too. Her encouragement and support has always gotten me through the rough patches. She is my #1 fan and I’ll continue writing and publishing if she is the only one who reads it. The most destructive thing was relying on technology. I lost chapters and chapters of a book in college. It broke my spirit to write for a long time because I felt like I lost a part of me when my USB stick died. Don’t rely on technology; always have backups of all your work!
Aside from writing, what are your hobbies?
I like to paint, make jewelry, and grow plants. I honestly have a ton of hobbies some of which never took, like knitting. I like to keep myself busy year round since I live in Alaska with everything from camping to hunting on top of the inside hobbies. Don’t even get me started on TV, movies, video games, and D&D.
Do you have a ritual you use while writing? (During commercials, certain music, etc)
I have to edit my books from printed copies. Everything else I just go with what I feel like. The moment my book writing becomes structured and rigid the moment it stops being fun.
What is your writing space like?
Anywhere I like. Honestly I take my books with me and work on them when I’m flying for work, sitting at home on my computer, or typing ideas into my phone. My work space is wherever I am but most of it is in my computer room. It is an old pine desk my parents bought when I was 5. The darn thing is falling apart but I just can’t bring myself to replace it. Under it is the group of my works, all broken into little accordion folders that contain editing, beta reader notes, original concept notes, and even sketches.
Do you have any pets? Can you tell us a funny story about them?
I have two cats: Emma and Lizzie. They are both named for Jane Austen characters (Emma Woodhouse and Elizabeth Bennet). Emma is more my cat than Lizzie. As to a funny story I have tons, but my favorite is when I brought Emma home from her first vet visit, and she of course howled the entire way over and misbehaved the entire time (constantly trying to slink away) but honestly she got a thermometer shoved up her butt so I could sympathize with her distress. When I brought her home and parked in the garage I let her out of the cat carrier so that she could wander back into the house. Instead she hides under the car and wails because she doesn’t recognize the garage as home. I can’t get her out of there and after trying to push her out with broom, I abandon her and go and stand in the hallway and wait. Twenty minutes of constant wailing and she finally walked into the hallway. She immediately recognizes it as home and stops. She gives a look that says ‘You’re a jerk and I’m not an idiot’ and proceeds to go upstairs and eat some food. Needless to say I don’t let her out in the garage anymore.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I try to edit or write every day. I constantly have at least 2 books I’m working on at the same time. Usually a main book and what I like to call my relief books, which is usually a romance of some sort.
Where do you get your ideas for your books?
Everywhere. Cliché I know but seriously, everywhere. Usually the main concept comes to me in a dream. I’m a lucid dreamer most times and I get some doozies that are like living books or movies in my head which I remember 90% of when I wake up. 1001 Islands was Chapter 1 and Unfathomable Chance was Chapter 4. Sometimes it is a single image I am working towards or a concept. For North & South it was both, the image of a girl alone in the desert wandering towards certain dangers and the idea that every decision we make affects another person, like the butterfly effect.
What do you hate most about the writing process?
*Groan* Editing. I don’t mind rewriting but editing is killer. Thank goodness for editors.
What do you think makes a good story?
Originality with a color of the familiar. I like to bring whole new worlds alive and I think creating a world that people lose themselves in is a good story. Right up there with characters that are relatable or believable.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Gosh everything. Lawyer, doctor, inventor, and an accountant to name a few. Little did I know that I could do all those things…in my books. I have researched the strangest things, let me tell you.
J. R. Lindermuth is the author of 15 novels, including six in the Sticks Hetrick mystery series set in a fictional rural community near Harrisburg PA. A retired newspaper editor/writer, he is now librarian of his county’s historical society where he assists patrons with research and genealogy. He has published stories and articles in a variety of magazines, both print and on line. He is a member of International Thriller Writers and is a past vice president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society.
You can find J.R Lindermuth at the following social media sites:
To purchase J.R Lindermuth’s books, please visit his Amazon author page:
1. You were born in a coal mining town in Pennsylvania. Was it the norm that most men in the town worked as miners?
Mining was the dominant industry when I was born, though my father, grandfather and other relatives worked on the railroad. Silk mill factories, which employed many men and women earlier, was in its decline.
2. What has happened to coal mining in Pennsylvania now? Are the mines closing down these days like they are in the UK?
The big mines here and in other counties have closed down. There are still a few small operations but the majority fell victim to environmental concerns, the expense of getting coal at deeper levels and lack of demand due to competition with alternate fuel sources–oil, gas and other.
3. What’s the most interesting story you’ve ever covered in your previous work as a newspaper reporter?
That covers a lot of time; 40 years on the job, not counting additional in the military. Three that particularly stick in the memory would have to be covering a conference on the DMZ in Korea; the Dr. Jay C. Smith murder trial and the resettlement of refugees after the Vietnam war.
Readers may find this of interest–Dr. Smith was a high school principal who was sentenced to death for the 1979 murder of Susan Reinhert and her two children. His conviction was later overturned, but a co-conspirator William Bradfield died in prison.
4. How has modern reporting changed from your time as a newspaperman?
I began with manual typewriters, switched to electric, then went through various computer phases. All digital cameras now; no more darkrooms. Change continues. It seems to me many, not all, but many reporters now rely more on technology than getting out of the office to interview and observe activities. There’s far too much personalizing of copy, too. A news article should convey just the facts, not opinion. Opinion is meant for the editorial page.
5. Do you miss the buzz of working to a deadline now that you are retired?
I still often work to the deadline. My own fault. I’m a born procrastinator (according to my daughter) and sometimes need a push to get started on an assignment or duty.
6. You serve as librarian of a historical society where you assist patrons with research and genealogy. Have you delved into your own ancestry?
Oh, yes. A paternal aunt and I had started tracing family history when I was still in high school. I’ve now documented my paternal line back to the 1600s. So far I’ve only got my mother’s (Sears) back to ca 1790. Despite my German surname, my DNA results revealed my ethnicity to be 74 percent Great Britain.
7. Tell us a little bit about your Sticks Hetrick Crime Series, and about your main protagonist. What is your new book about?
Hetrick is a retired police chief and now a county detective who keeps getting involved in crime-solving. The protagonist in this latest book is one of Hetrick’s protégés, Officer Flora Vastine.
When Jan Kepler, a school teacher, birder and niece of a fellow officer, is murdered Flora finds herself thrust into an examination of the other woman’s life. Despite other suspects, the behaviour of another classmate rouses Flora’s suspicion. Her probing opens personal wounds as she examines the cost of obsessive love and tracks down the killer.
8. The Darkness, your 15th novel and the 7th in the Sticks Hetrick Crime Series, will be published on September 13th. How do you promote a new book launch?
There are no book stores near me. Normally I would have a release day at the local library. But I’ve been under treatment for cancer since January (doing much better now) and not supposed to drive because of the medications I’m on, which pretty much restricts me to online promotions–hitting FB, Twitter and the other hot spots, seeking interviews like this, reviews and, possibly some paid advertising.
9. If I asked you to write exactly seven words to describe your new book, what would you write?
Intriguing plot, skilled characterization, twists and romance.
10. Do you send your manuscripts off to literary agents, or do you prefer to remain self-published?
After getting the normal hundreds of rejections from the BIG publishers, I got smart and started submitting to smaller publishers who are more attentive to their writers. I’ve only self-published one novel. I don’t currently have an agent.
11. How long does it take you to write a novel?
That depends. Some are fully formulated in the mind and the writing goes very quickly. Others, counting germination, research, actual writing, can take years.
12. Do you write only in the thriller genre?
No. I’ve written non-fiction on various subjects that interest me and fiction in the mystery/suspense, historical, Western and romance genres.
13. Who is your favourite author?
That’s like asking which of my children is the favourite. I read widely, both fiction and non-fiction, and constantly find new writers to admire. Some of my favourites in the mystery genre would include James Lee Burke, Ruth Rendell, Harlan Coben, Ian Rankin, John Harvey, Elmore Leonard, Charles Willeford and Val McDermid.
14. One of your hobbies is ‘listening to good music’. What type of music or bands do you consider good?
My personal favourites are classical, blues and folk music. But I have catholic tastes and will try anything to see how it jars my senses.
15. You have travelled extensively. Where in the world would you like to travel to now if you had the opportunity?
The UK would be a priority, Mexico or the Caribbean close seconds.
16. Where is the best place on earth?
The place where you feel full-filled and happy.
17. Is your glass half full or half empty?
18. If you could save one possession in a fire, what would it be?
Most possessions can be replaced. Since I live alone I’d have to say family photos.
19. Do you prefer to be alone, or to be around people?
I enjoy solitude, but I also like being with family and friends. Not in crowds, though. Abhor crowds.
20. You are a past vice president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society. What were your duties?
As vice president I worked with the president and other officers to develop policies and helped coordinate our prestigious Derringer awards program and filled in for the president when she wasn’t available. Through a process of judging, Derringer awards (named for the popular pocket pistol) have been annually presented since 1998 to authors in four length categories, from flash fiction up to novelette. The purpose the society is to promote and support short form mystery fiction and provide a forum for short story writers.
I had the honor of interviewing national bestselling author, Steven James. He is known as the “master of storytelling,” and for a very good reason. Ever since I happened upon The Rook, book two of his Patrick Bowers Files, he’s been my favorite author.
I’d like to thank Mr. James from the bottom of my heart for taking his time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions.
1) What did you enjoy most about writing Curse?
In Curse, several new characters are introduced into the series. For me, since I don’t outline my books, it’s always exciting to see who shows up on the page and what they’re like. In this book, maybe my favorite character ended up being a girl who was blind. I consulted with a girl who’d been born blind, asking her what her nightmares are like since she has never seen anything. That journey and what I ended up including in the book was fascinating to me.
2) What do you like to read in your free time?
Even though I like to write thrillers, I tend to read more literary fiction, philosophy, and poetry, as well as books on the craft of writing. I still love suspenseful and scary stories, but lately I’ve tended to watch these in film instead of read them in books.
3) What are your hobbies?
I live near the Appalachian mountains, and so I love to get out to trail run or even play disc golf. Besides eating Cheetos, drinking coffee, and binge-watching on weekends, I like to play basketball with my friends and moonlighting writing poetry that will probably never end up in print.
4) Do you have a ritual you use while writing? (During commercials, certain music, etc)
I almost always write standing up. I tend to listen to trance or EDM. I do best working in long stretches, rather than working at a project here and there throughout the day. Give me ten hours in a row over 5 hours spread out throughout the day and I’ll be happy.
5) What is your writing space like?
6) Do you have a favorite book you’ve written?
As far as novels, I think my favorite might be The Rook or Checkmate. I also wrote some inspirational nonfiction books, and I believe my favorite of those is called Story: Recapture the Mystery.
7) Where do you get your inspiration?
From everything. I’m always thinking of ideas, jotting down thoughts of dialogue on scraps of paper, receipts, notebooks. Typically at the end of the day, I have far too many ideas to write the next day, and it sort of keeps cascading like that. I keep thinking someday I’ll catch up, but at this rate, that won’t happen for another two or three hundred years.
Steven James is a national bestselling novelist whose award-winning, pulse-pounding thrillers continue to gain wide critical acclaim and a growing fan base.
Suspense Magazine, who named Steven’s book THE BISHOP their Book of the Year, says that he “sets the new standard in suspense writing.” Publishers Weekly calls him a “master storyteller at the peak of his game.” And RT Book Reviews promises, “the nail-biting suspense will rivet you.”
Equipped with a unique Master’s Degree in Storytelling, Steven has taught writing and storytelling on four continents over the past two decades, speaking more than two thousand times at events spanning the globe.
Steven’s groundbreaking book on the art of fiction writing, STORY TRUMPS STRUCTURE, won a Storytelling World award. Widely-recognized for his story crafting expertise, he has twice served as a Master CraftFest instructor at ThrillerFest, North America’s premier training event for suspense writers.
Respected by some of the top thriller writers in the world, Steven deftly weaves intense stories of psychological suspense with deep philosophical insights. As critically-acclaimed novelist Ann Tatlock put it, “Steven James gives us a captivating look at the fine line between good and evil in the human heart.”
After consulting with a former undercover FBI agent and doing extensive research on cybercrimes, Steven wrote his latest thriller, EVERY CROOKED PATH—a taut, twist-filled page turner that is available now wherever books are sold.
If you’ve never met environmental criminologist and geospatial investigator Patrick Bowers, EVERY CROOKED PATH is the perfect chance to dive into the series and find out what fans and critics everywhere are raving about.
Today’s guest is author and fitness coach Bridgette L. Collins. No, the book we’re talking about today isn’t about fitness. At least not about physical fitness. No today Bridgette talks about her book The Chip Maker, which I reviewed not too long ago here on LWI.
First of all, tell us about where you’re from and a little about it, what it’s like.
Although I was born and raised in Houston, Texas, I lived in the Dallas, Texas area for nearly 20 years before relocating back to Houston, Texas in 2013. It was important that I mention Dallas because it was during that time in my life I embraced my love for writing and became an author. In response to your question, “What it’s like”? Well, Houston is a BIG city with a lot of diversity and down to earth people. If you visit, check out the great offerings in the museum and theater districts. But, if you come during the summer months, just know you’ll definitely experience our high heat and humidity. Being an avid runner, what I like most is the atmosphere Houston and the surrounding areas have created for outdoors/nature enthusiasts which consists of an array of running, biking, and hiking venues.
You’re a fitness coach, among other things. How did you end up writing a work of fiction?
My first three books (Broken In Plain Sight, Destined to Live Healthier: Mind, Body and Soul, and Imagine Living Healthier: Mind, Body and Soul) are all novel-like self-help books that have educated, encouraged, and empowered many through a collection of stories that peel back the masks of challenges with weight, health, work, marriage, relationships, depression, and lack of self-love. Although I have a background in health and fitness which led me to write fictional stories about the failures and triumphs (inclusive of the whys) related to living healthier: mind, body and spirit, I’ve always wanted to write a different type of fiction inclusive of law and order and conspiracy theories. So, when I was presented with a writing opportunity that would take me outside of my comfort zone, I took on the challenge which resulted in The Chip Maker: Prophecy of the Beast.
There is a lot of End of Times references in The Chip Maker: Prophecy of the Beast. Are you very much up on apologetics and biblical scholarship or did you have someone to go to for just in case help?
The content for the book was inclusive of both my biblical research and the theology background of a former pastor who resides in Dallas, Texas. During my biblical readings when I was unsure about my interpretation of certain scriptures (which included looking up cross-references), I’d email my former pastor who in turn would provide me with biblical insight based in his studies, in particular, as related to end times prophecy. Because of a myriad of opinions, perspectives, and interpretations on end times prophecy, I was careful about what I presented in the book. However, just like any conspiracy theory writer, I wanted to craft a storyline that combined biblical references, current day events, and the future of the world. It’s no secret that the capability to track and monitor humans via an implantable chip is already in existence.
I found it interesting that you started with several scenes in one period of time and then went back to several months prior leading up to those scenes. What made you choose that road to travel with your story as opposed to having everything in chronological order?
There is no particular reason for the road I chose to travel, other than I watch a lot of movies where the story starts with the climax (or ending scenes) then cuts to say “8 months earlier” (or the like). That’s what I wanted to do with this book. I wanted to show the future, then in reverse sequential order reveal to the reader the precise consequences of each action leading up to the climax.
What is your particular interest in End of Times prophecy?
When you consider biblical prophecies and inferences made by pastors, theologians, and churchgoers about the signs of end times and the second coming of the Jesus Christ, it’s pretty captivating, especially since we are possibly living in the generation and witnessing the events that must be fulfilled before the return of Jesus Christ. For the true Christian believer, we must be vigilant about seeking knowledge of the truth, consistently striving to be obedient to and a steadfast doer of God’s Word. A reoccurring message conveyed throughout ‘The Chip Maker’ was to be prepared to say “No”.
Did you base any of your characters on well-known individuals? I can almost see Pastor McFarland. There is one pastor that fits him perfectly that I’m aware of. A lot of us use celebrity like figures as models for our characters. At least on the surface.
No, there are no well-known individuals mimicked in the book. The characters in the book like Pastor McFarland were a figment of my imagination. When you read about pastors whose illegal and/or immoral behaviors have been exposed, you already know there are countless Pastor McFarlands walking around in our midst.
You paint a very realistic picture of what could happen in today’s technologically driven world. Where did you come up with the idea and how did you keep it all straight?
My friend Terry McGee, because of his passion to spread a message about one’s decision to repent, choose, and follow Jesus Christ, wanted to write a screenplay based on the second coming of Jesus Christ. To make a long story short, he sought me out. Well, I don’t have a background in screenplay writing, and neither does he. So I convinced him to consider a book in hopes it would be attractive to a film making company thereby resulting in a movie. As time passed we continued to toil over and over on the direction of book. In late 2013 while getting ready for work one morning, I saw a news story about a lost dog. The dog’s owners were so grateful for his safe return and credited such to a microchip implanted inside of their dog. I started to think about the idea of such with regards to humans. So, I started researching microchips. It didn’t take long for me to discover numerous articles discussing an implantable chip which included many opinions and perspectives along with the citing of legislative bills associated with implantable chips in humans. As my research increased, so did my knowledge (which included current testing of the RFID chip on humans) along with negative connotations associated with government power. So, yes, I allowed my imagination to run wild. I convinced Terry on the direction we needed to take which included a story line touting the RFID chip as today’s modern day mark of the beast. Any why not suggest in the storyline, with consideration of the seemingly never-ending evolution of modern technology, vital elements of a bigger picture. Elements such as a relationship between the implantable microchip, mark of the beast, new world order, the antichrist, and world domination. When you consider biblical scriptures in the Bible and the signs the Bible prophesies before the return of Jesus Christ (as evident of the horrific events occurring present day), I know it was the Holy Spirit guiding me and keeping it all straight.
How long did it take you to write The Chip Maker and then get it published?
Although it’s a relatively short book, I must admit the completion of the book took longer than we expected as the idea and discussions started in 2012. Amid life-changing circumstances over the past four years, our delays also included the fear of what the content of such a book would look like and attract. Once a wholehearted commitment was reached, the fine details were organized and put into place. Within the past eight months, the content of the book was finalized and published.
What’s your one piece of advice to aspiring authors to fulfill their dream of publishing a book?
Number one, start writing. A lot of people don’t get started because of fear. Then, never stop searching for the right words and the right phrases to connect with and entertain your readers. Whenever I’m listening to SiriusXM in my car, or looking at a movie on Lifetime, or engaged in an old episode of Criminal Minds, or a viewing a news story on CNN, I am always jotting down words and phrases I may be able to use a later date in a storyline to add more impact. Most importantly, don’t talk yourself out of taking the next steps such as seeking the services of a professional editor, book cover designer, interior designer, distributor, etc. A lot of people will start the writing process, but never pursue the next steps.
Totally unrelated to the book, what’s the one thing someone with spinal problems and fibromyalgia can do in order to lose weight and get fit?
Without knowledge of the individual’s current physical state (i.e., level of pain, fatigue, and physical movement, etc.), I’ll provide a general response. The initial primary goal is to move more. In doing so, it’s crucial that the individual engage in an aerobic activity that does not pose a risk for undue trauma to the impacted part of the body. Although there may be pain and fatigue present, I’ll take for granted that the individual has the capacity to walk. If there hasn’t been no recent consistent movement (i.e., physical activity), then the key is start with something small and gradually increase the person’s ability to move consistently. Depending on the capacity to walk, an example of something small would include the individual walking (slowly) back and forth, from the beginning to the end of his/her driveway, as many times as he/she can for five minutes each day for two weeks. On the third week, he/she can add a minute and thereafter a minute each week until he/she is up to 30 minutes a day. It’s important not to focus on how long it might take to get to 30 minutes, but to focus on developing consistency with doing the walk activity. I know medication can be a contributing factor to weight gain. So, not knowing the contributing factors related to excess weight (i.e., medication, inactivity, or poor food choices, etc.), I’ll provide another general response. More than likely the need for medication will remain; however, with the implementation of walking and any necessary food consumption modifications, the desire to lose weight and get fit will be recognized beginning with the small change. Remember, walking is the first ‘small change’ step. As walking gets easier and easier, the time to incorporate other physical activities can be explored (i.e., water aerobics, cycling, hot yoga, strength training, etc.). In addition, it’s important to listen to your body and pay attention to causes of flare-ups. And, most importantly, not to do too much too soon… As you prepare for the small change, think about… Getting started. The progression. The consistency.
Did you ever read a book and wonder what the motivation was behind the author who wrote it? Me too!
So, I decided to contact the author, Jennifer Owenby to find more about why she wrote “The Truth She Knew.” Please click HERE to read my review of this book.
Here’s what Jennifer Owenby had to say:
What’s The Truth She Knew about?
Here’s the back cover blurb:
Here is the back cover verbiage:
“A bittersweet story of young love independence, and soul-crushing manipulation. J.A. Owenby shines a light on the impact that mental illness can have on a family.” —Dr. Sheri Kaye Hoff, Ph.D., Professional Life Coach
Mama didn’t want me. In fact, she would’ve traded my soul back for someone different if God would’ve let her, but he didn’t, so she was stuck with me.
For eighteen-year-old Lacey, life at home is a rollercoaster. She doesn’t think she’ll ever be good enough to truly deserve Mama’s love.
But when Lacey enters college and meets Walker, everything starts to change. Suddenly, Lacey is face to face with the realization that maybe what she’s always seen as normal really isn’t. Her entire life—and everything she’s ever believed about herself and her family—is abruptly hanging in midair.
Lacey is left facing two paths, and she has to make a choice. The first means walking away from everything she’s ever known. The other means never really knowing the truth.”
The Truth She Knew offers an honest and powerful glimpse into mental illness, the meaning of true love, and the psychological waltz that a daughter dances as she endures her mother’s unpredictable emotions, manipulation, and abuse.
Why did you write The Truth She Knew?
I wanted to bring awareness to issues that are typically discussed behind closed doors. I wrote about several including mental illness and abuse from a daughter’s perspective. I have a soft place in my heart for teens and young adults in their early 20’s. I’ve found through talking to many kids in this age group that they are confused by things they experienced at home and sometimes blamed themselves when it shouldn’t have fallen on their shoulders. Mental illness is real and can show up in many forms. In Mama’s case, there was a religious and manipulative element.
How did it feel to write about someone with mental illness? How did you “get inside their head”?
It was tough. Thankfully, I had access to a few amazing mental health therapists that answered questions and directed me to good reading material. Mental illness is very complex and not a one size fits all.
I also love psychology so it was something I was interested in learning about.
Do you have a message with this book series?
Yes, that was the motivation behind the books. There is hope and help if you’re in an abusive situation or have a loved one that is mentally ill.
Did you draw from personal experience?
I am a survivor of domestic violence. My life is so beautifully and wonderfully different than those years I spent running and hiding. I went through some very dark times and lost hope more than once. It was my two kids who kept me going when I thought things would never get better. And as I begin visualizing what I wanted my life to be, to look like, and taking steps in that direction things began to change. I’m so very blessed today. There is hope and help.
You mentioned this is a series? What can we expect for Lacey, your main character, in book 2?
The Truth She Knew is about so many important issues, but book 2 focuses on Lacey’s journey and how the cycle of abuse continues. Her path to find safety lands her in an unimaginable situation and she experiences a real wake up call. My main message─there is a cycle, and unless you reach out for help, people will continue to make poor choices and find themselves in the same situations over and over.
What do you say to people who have read the Truth She Knew and reached out to you for help?
I can listen to them, empathize, and direct them to the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233, and NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-NAMI (6264). In fact, those helplines will be listed on my new website and in book 2.
Today’s guest is Mark Donovan , author of Waterkill, a book I recently reviewed here on LWI as well as Amazon and Goodreads. He currently resides in New Hampshire where he has spent his career working in various high tech engineering and marketing positions. He holds degrees in electrical engineering and business, and is a private pilot.
How much of Waterkill was influenced by the headlines?
The headlines of 2015/2016 did not influence me to write Waterkill. It was, however, the headlines from 2014 that compelled me to finish the book. I began writing Waterkill in November, 2013 and then after writing around 25K words I shelved it in January 2014. I didn’t go back to it for another 10 months and completed the first draft in April of 2015. It was the Ebola outbreak that hit the United States and Europe in late 2014 that caused me to decide to complete Waterkill. It was during this time that I realized how feckless our federal and state governments were in dealing with a major epidemic. This fact, along with the constant and real threat of radical Islamic terrorism, made me realize that I needed to complete Waterkill. I felt compelled to raise public awareness to the vulnerability of a biological terrorist attack, and that our public water supplies are soft targets.
I was able to read your first version of Waterkill and then some of your professionally edited version. You’ve done your work justice by doing so. What brought about your having the book edited?
I had half a dozen close friends and family review my “final” draft version of Waterkill and their editorial comments and reviews were benign and very positive. So, I decided to release the book. The first “official” reviews that came in on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Goodreads were also very positive. However, as time went on, and the reviews continued to come in, I began to see comments about the book needing some professional editing. So rather than continue to see the book take negative hits, I got proactive and began searching for an editor. After about a week I found a person who had been an editor for the past 25 years and had an impressive resume. I commissioned her immediately to do a Line-Edit and she did a great job, albeit I had a bit of a hard time at first accepting her reduction of the word count by 15%. In the end, after reading her completed work, I had to admit the book was much crisper and to the point. She also gave me a great deal of constructive advice for my next book. One important nugget of advice she gave me was to try to keep one point of view throughout the book. “No head hopping” was her constant reminder to me.
What was researching for the book like? You go into quite a bit of detail as far as geography for certain locations as well as some military weapons.
I’ve spent over 30 years in high tech as an electrical design engineer and product marketing manager. Along the way, I’ve designed or defined radar systems, infrared missile guidance seekers, telecom and datacom equipment and semiconductors, advanced computers that went on the space shuttle, and for the past 7 years, magnetic sensor semiconductors that are used in robotics, automotive and industrial markets. So from this background it was easy for me to write about the surveillance and weapon technology in Waterkill.
From the geographical perspective, I have traveled far and wide throughout the world during my career, including North America, Europe and Asia. In addition, I was able to interview my parents who spent nearly 10 years in Saudi Arabia, including 3 years living near the Yemen border to get the perspective on the culture, geography and people from that area.
What authors do you think have influenced your style of writing?
When I decided to begin writing the “Dave Henson” series I wanted to write books that were akin to Clive Cussler, but instead of an ocean/marine background theme, I chose to focus mine on technology and aviation since I have a passion for both. So, Clive Cussler novels certainly influenced me.
Michael Crichton, Ayn Rand and Wilbur Smith have also influenced my writing style. With Michael Crichton and Ayn Rand it’s the technology and willingness to be politically incorrect with the Zeitgeist of the day that inspires me to write. Both told compelling stories that also had messages that went against the grain of the prevailing political winds. With Wilbur Smith, it’s his human rawness of both good and evil, along with his excellent storytelling, that influence my writing style.
Why a water based bioterrorist threat?
Today when we think of terrorism attacks we normally think of airplane hijackings or bombings and mass murder with semi-automatics. I wanted to make people aware that there are other ways that terrorists can attack, and that it can be fairly sophisticated. Many of the radical Islamic terrorists are well educated people, who have engineering degrees, and I might add provided by the United States College and University systems. Water is our most valuable resource and critical for our survival. It is also a commodity that many of us take for granted and that is also easily accessible to those who want to harm it.
What is your experience with Islam? I ask because there are times you do show a good knowledge during the story. I know because I had several Muslims work for me.
I have worked with many Islamic people over the years due to my high-tech background. Some have been, and are, good friends of mine. This is why I tried to be fair in my book to the Islamic religion, but not hesitating to point out that radical Islamic terrorism is a real problem that must be faced and dealt with. As I also mentioned, I had my parents perspective of them living nearly a decade in Saudi Arabia.
How much of the tech in the book is possible?
Much of it is possible. The work in Nanotechnology, and MEMs technology, has just been astounding over the past decade. Case in point, the drone technology that we have today. Some military drones are as small as a housefly today, and there are companies/research institutions that have demonstrated swarm behavior with these micro-drones. The nano-dust that is mentioned in this book is still for the most part theoretical, however, due to nano-material science I believe we are only a decade away from realizing this concept. Michael Creighton discussed this technology in his book PREY that he released in 2002.
You handle Islam very carefully in Waterkill. Some authors could have made it a one-sided affair but you took the time to show the degrees of the faith. Was this a conscious effort or did the book lead you in that direction?
I made a conscious effort to be fair and not to confuse individuals with twisted minds, for whatever reason, and a population of 1.2B people that practices Islam, most of which is comprised of peaceful people.
There is a quote you use at the end of the book, where did you get that from? (Meaning, did a friend lead you to it, did you stumble on it. Something like that. And I’m talking about the Muhammad quote.)
Through my research on Islam I stumbled upon that phrase/quote and felt it had a great deal of relevant meaning to my story.
What are you working on now?
I am working on a new book with the working title “ROBOGOD”. It is a departure from my “Dave Henson” series and delves into the world of robots and how they will impact our lives both professionally and personally in the not-so-distant future. In my current day job I am heavily involved in the robotic industry, and the stuff that I see coming is exciting from a technologist perspective, but also very frightening from a human and ethicist. The book raises questions on how ready the human race is prepared to work and live with robots that look and act very similar to humans. See an article that I recently had published in RoboticTrends.com on the topic of robots: http://www.roboticstrends.com/article/the_role_of_magnetic_position_sensors_in_robots_and_the_iort
What do you do for fun?
I love to fly, read, hike and be with my family. I am fortunate enough to live on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee in central New Hampshire where it allows me to do all these things.
What authors do you read?
As previously mentioned my writing has been influenced by reading the works of Clive Cussler, Wilbur Smith, Ayn Rand and Michael Creighton. However, my reading is quite eclectic. For example I love reading Lee Child, Ted Bell, and James Patterson. However, I just finished reading the Great Gatsby from F. Scott Fitzgerald. I remember reading the book in high school, and saw it a couple of weeks ago just before I left for a job trip. So I grabbed it and read it on the plane.
Give us one word to describe your book.
What’s your favorite word and why?
My favorite word is “Do”. I have always been a big proponent of personally doing things rather than just thinking about doing them or watching others do something, e.g. laying on a sofa and watching a sporting event rather than playing the sport yourself. Life is too short to just dream and think, or watch others live life, but never personally do something big yourself.
Today’s special guest is Kate Frost, a UK author with a personal story to share.
Where do you hail from?
Bristol, a city in the south west of England that’s wonderfully cosmopolitan with lots going on, yet also within easy reach of countryside and the coast. I’ve always lived here apart from three years spent at university in Aberystwyth, a gorgeous seaside town in Wales.
Who are the authors that most inspired you to become a writer, or that you think influence your writing style?
It was the books I read in my childhood that inspired me to become a writer – authors like Roald Dahl, J.R.R. Tolkien and Arthur Ransome. I loved the way they could transport me to another world, and as I had a vivid imagination anyway, together the two things just clicked.
I imagine you get asked this a lot, but your book, Beneath the Apple Blossom, covers many of the stages of young 30 something women’s lives, how much for your life or those around you did you pull from?
Certainly friends who know me well will understand how my life has influenced this book. I wrote Beneath the Apple Blossom as a direct result of having fertility treatment, so the emotions within the book and the actual experience of undergoing treatment are true to life, yet the characters and their individual experiences are fictional. I had toyed with writing a memoir but decided what I went through was too personal to share, so I thought about turning it into a novel instead – that’s when the characters of Pippa, Georgie, Sienna and Connie were born. I was inspired by the online friendships (and the one in real life) I made via the fertility centre forum I was a part of during four cycles of fertility treatment, and that led to the relationship Pippa and Connie have in the book. Thirty-something women are interesting to write about as it seems to be an age when there’s a lot going on, whether that be the decision to have babies or not, relationship struggles, infertility concerns or career worries.
What’s the significance of the title of the book?
There are two pivotal scenes that take place literally beneath an apple blossom, which I won’t describe as it will give too much away. Apart from those two scenes the reason behind the title is the idea of an apple tree in bloom being so beautiful and full of life compared to the dark, tangled mass of roots below ground. Often what we see on the surface of a person’s life is completely different to the turmoil they’re going through beneath the surface.
What genre do you think your book falls into?
Contemporary women’s fiction – although that’s a very broad term. Family life and women’s literary fiction are sub-genres it could slot into quite well.
Tell our readers a little about Beneath the Apple Blossom.
In a nutshell it’s about four women, two longing to have a baby, two desperate to not be pregnant, and how they struggle with the choices they’ve made and the hand that life’s dealt them.
Could you have written this book before your son came along?
Absolutely not. The core idea of this book was a direct result of having undergone four rounds of fertility treatment and the highs and lows that went hand in hand with it. Clearly we got lucky in the end but that was after four years of heartache and despair. As a writer it was all emotional fuel for a novel (not that I was thinking like that at the time!) – infertility, miscarriage, pregnancy and birth. Although the book is fictional it helped to draw upon my own experience of these things.
How do you think writing for magazines has helped your novel writing?
It’s helped by giving me the mindset of working to a deadline. Particularly with self-publishing it’s easy to let things slip and put things off, so I write novels the way I would write an article for a magazine and set myself a deadline and stick to it.
Tell us about your previous book The Butterfly Storm.
It’s quite different to Beneath the Apple Blossom, both in the way it’s written and the subject matter, although there are common themes such as family, friendship and impending motherhood. At its heart is a love story with Sophie Keech escaping from her fiancé and overbearing mother-in-law-to-be in Greece, back to the beautiful north Norfolk coast in the UK when her estranged Mum is injured in an accident. It then follows her physical and emotional journey to discover who she is, where she belongs and who she loves. I published it in 2013 and it’s done really well, featuring in Amazon’s Movers and Shakers chart on more than one occasion and making it into the top five in Literary Fiction and Women’s Literary Fiction categories.
What are you currently working on and why?
I’m working on a lot of things! I’m writing the second book in The Hopeful Years series that follows Beneath the Apple Blossom and Connie’s story in Tanzania and Zanzibar. I’m also halfway through writing the second book of a time-travel adventure trilogy for 9-12 year-olds. Into the Past (Time Shifters Book One) is going to be published in October, so it’s a busy year.
With your being so accident prone, aren’t you concerned about indulging in your cooking obsession?
Ha, yes! I seem to be okay cooking and haven’t had too many accidents, save a couple of minor scalds. I think it’s the fact that I’m pretty unstable on my feet that’s the issue. It’s just as well that we don’t get much snow in the UK as I cannot walk on ice and look like some crazy adult-sized baby learning to walk when I do.
How did end up with your publisher, Lemon Tree Press?
Ah well, Lemon Tree Press is actually my publishing name. Instead of publishing under ‘Kate Frost’ I’ve
effectively set up my own publishing company under which I’ve bought my ISBNs and will publish my books.
What advice to you have for authors out there looking to find a publisher?
Persevere and make your book as good as it can be. I got very close to getting both an agent and a publisher but neither worked out in the end. I personally didn’t persevere with finding a publisher and instead took things into my own hands and self-published. I haven’t looked back.
Alejandro Puerto Hernandez is a young man of 19 years who since childhood has had an insatiable thirst for knowledge, particularly about other nations’ economic and political histories. He has written ‘Western Cycles: United Kingdom’ detailing the U.K’s political history from World War II onwards, analysing the economic situation at the time, and the nation’s challenges with each successive government.
1. Living in Cuba, how did you become interested in British economic and political history? Was it for a college course?
No, it wasn’t for a college course (I start studying in September), but living in an under-developed country as I do, since my childhood I have had a genuine interest in learning about the economic and political systems of other nations, and using this knowledge as material for reflection and looking for answers in that magical space we call history. In the particular case of the U.K I was interested in the way they managed to stabilise and even improve their economic and social situation and deal with challenges after the destruction of World War II. An interesting case was retaining global influence despite losing power after the independence of the colonies.
2. Did you spend a lot of your childhood writing stories on your own as I did, or did you live in a noisy household where finding time to write and pursue your interests was difficult?
Much of my childhood was spent looking for historical information on the internet, mainly regarding the U.K. At first it was confusing because the sources gave very varied and sometimes contradictory criteria regarding the different heads of government according to their own policies. That was the basis on which I began accumulating the most relevant information from an unbiased and entertaining view. There came a point where I always had a book before my eyes.
With regard to living in a noisy household, I can say that Cuba is indeed loud in more ways than one. But when writing, I have been able to channel noise into an inner peace which is very rewarding in more ways than one.
3. Have you ever been to the UK? If so, where did you visit?
No, I have never been to the UK, but I would like to visit. It would be very rewarding to travel by train from Liverpool to Manchester, as the first inter-city rail line was built here in 1830. This opened the UK’s leadership in the Industrial Revolution.
I would also like to visit London, because in the same way that all roads lead to Rome, there was a time when all trains carried passengers to London.
4. How long did it take to write Western Cycles: United Kingdom? Have you written any other books?
As mentioned previously I have been writing since childhood. However, I spent about three months writing this book, and also compiling much economic information into charts throughout the work with knowledge I have acquired recently.
I have not written any other books, but as I feel good when I write, I expect there will be others. Right now I’m torn between Canada or France for my next Western Cycles book. I hope that readers of this interview and of my blog will help me to decide.
5. Were you surprised when Britain voted to leave the European Union?
I was surprised, but when analysing the situation I don’t think it is as dramatic as the media describe. I think the UK could retain its access to the common European market by joining the EFTA countries. Of course losing the unified trade policy, its economy would not be as integrated as it is today, but the majority of the UK population voted to leave and we should show respect.
6. If you could live in the time of any of our British prime ministers, which time, past or present, would you choose?
I would choose to live under the government of Clement Atlee, because I would like to see in person the reaction of the British after Winston Churchill was not elected at the end of World War II. It would also be interesting to note the establishment of the welfare state in a period of scarcity and rationing, just as described in my book. Of course after a few days or weeks I would like to go back to the present, as there was no internet. I would write about the experience in my blog.
7. Did you learn English as a young child, or just recently in your late teens?
I learned English in my childhood and perfected it during my adolescence. It is a very easy language to learn, and it is a very practical ability to be able to speak two languages. Of course I am proud to have Spanish as my mother tongue. No other language is heard with such poetry.
8. Did you design the cover and edit Western Cycles: United Kingdom yourself?
I designed the book cover by placing the beautiful flag of the nation as the primary element. I have always considered that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. I also used the Ubuntu Operating System and typography because its design philosophy is humanistic, so that gets the message across that I want to express in the book.
Regarding editing, I am asking the readers to send me their opinion and also find any errors from an editorial point of view and report them to my email email@example.com
9. In your opinion, what is the best way of marketing a book?
I think the ideal way is to use relevant points of the book in a blog or on social media, looking for ways in which readers feel comfortable being inside the book but not departing from the perimeter. The online world should appreciate books that are not sold in bookstores.
The content offered online in my blog is not original and I have not worked hard to update it as there is no internet access in Cuban homes. However, once I begin college I will be able to work harder on my blog and participate more fully online.
10. Is your aim to ultimately become a full-time author, or do you have another career in mind?
Soon I will begin studying engineering in telecommunications and electronics, because this is interesting to me and a professional qualification in this subject is very versatile. However, it doesn’t help with writing books, but I think I can combine both. I am sure I will not stop writing.
11. Which websites have you used most in your book research?
I used the National Archives of the UK Government, the Statistics Agency site, and the Government Site, ukpublicspending.com and ukpublicrevenue.com, which are all excellent. I read many articles from The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, and the BBC from many years ago. My main challenge was to bring all that information in an original and impartial format.
12. Your Western Cycles blog states concise news items and general information from the Western world. In Cuba, are you able to access European news programmes on TV, or do you rely on the internet for your information?
I used only the internet, as Cuban press and television are completely biased in reporting the international scene.
13. Have you sent your book to any literary agents? If so, have you had any replies?
I have not sent my book to any literary agent. Any kind of replies, whether professional or friendly, can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
14. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What will you be doing?
I think I will be travelling all over the world, learning the culture of different peoples and collecting photographs of historical sites. Tourism is a very authentic way to encourage the learning of foreign languages, respect for the customs of other countries, and closer ties of understanding between nations.
15. Which author has had the most influence on you?
Walter Isaacson is not a historian and serves more as a journalist than a writer, but his book ‘Steve Jobs’ (2011) changed the way we perceive literature, especially the historical genre. Walter has the ability to present each subject starting with an overview of the overall concept in each case, and then argue in a simple and precise way without losing the chronological order. I believe that history books should appreciate this style. That’s why I transferred this ability to Western Cycles: United Kingdom.
16. In your opinion, which genre of books is the most popular?
First Epic Fantasy, and Dystopian Science Fiction second. In this genre I appreciate popular works such as Game of Thrones, but the folklore is subject to conflict. For example in the saga abound dragons, giants and witches, but the main thing is the civil war for the Iron Throne inspired by the Wars of the Roses as a primary historical source.
17. Apart from writing, what other interests do you have?
I like video games a lot. I enjoy Civilization Saga and Sid Meiers Pirates created by 2K Games. In addition StarCraft and Warcraft developed by Blizzard, but I’m not as good as I’d like to be. Using emulators I play The Legend of Zelda and Fire Emblem from Nintendo and Final Fantasy (the older the best). I admire Electronic Arts games.
18. If you could choose where to live, where would you like to be?
I think it’s not in Cuba, but should be a place near the sea. Among the different places in Cuba I consider myself fortunate to live in Cienfuegos. It is a small city founded by the French. It is much less noisy than Havana, and cleaner.
19. What is the one thing you cannot do without?
I cannot write without a glass of water next to me. Many times I am not thirsty, but I feel more comfortable that way.
20. Can you dance the Samba?
Thanks Alejandro for your answers. I also like a glass of water next to me while I’m writing!
A UK lady with a knack for helping young authors while creating her own series of books, Nicky Peacock.
Where do you hail from?
I come from a medium size town in the middle of England called Corby. It has a bit of a reputation as a place to live, but I love it. It’s close enough to beautiful wild countryside to appeal to my nature loving side and close enough to pretty decent shopping centers to appeal to my shopaholic side!
Who are the authors that most inspired you to become a writer, or that you think influence your writing style?
I think that most authors will influence your writing style – whether you want them to or not. Reading a broad range of genres and authors is a necessary part of writing. When I was younger, Poppy Z Brite was a big influence on my horror writing; somehow she made the grotesque beautiful. Anne Rice was definitely the writer that got me hooked on vampires and other monsters.
What’s your favorite word and why?
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious… as it’s really quite atrocious 😉
Things readers may want to know, hmm, are you married?
I’m currently single. I’m pretty happy with it, although I certainly wouldn’t turn down a gorgeous man with a bunch of flowers and a box of chocolates at my door! It’s quite a hard life being an author. Most of us still have to work full time jobs, you know if you want those luxuries in life like food and shelter! So, once you try to squeeze in writing and have some semblance of a social life, well dating can kind of feel like an after-thought. Also, I’ve had some pretty dismal dates recently: One guy burst into tears over his ex, another talked all night about his dogs, but by far the worst was the guy, who after learning I was an author, decided he wanted something to eat…at home. He just left!
How does working with young aspiring authors help your own writing?
Growing up in Corby, I didn’t have a mentor, or someone to look to, for my writing, so I decided that I would try to be that person for the next generation. Writing is hard, getting published is harder and being an author is the hardest of all. You have to not just produce work but have reasonable editing skills, marketing knowledge and time to spend on social media plus all the literary specific sites such as Goodreads and LibraryThing. Having someone who has been there and done all that can help make those jobs easier and less time consuming so that a budding writer’s desire to tell a good story isn’t consumed in the fires of work.
Tell us about your two series with Evernight Teen, Battle of the Undead and The Twisted and The Brave.
Battle of the Undead is a vampires VS zombies YA urban fantasy set at the start of the zombie uprising. Vampires, fearing the loss of their food supply (us) start to make plans to protect uninfected humans.
The Twisted and the Brave is a YA series that twists the themes of classic children’s books into contemporary, violent thrillers with a supernatural edge.
Being two different animals, which do you enjoy writing more, the anthologies or novels?
LOL, I’m not above saying that I want to sell books and make some money, and that only really comes from novels. Anthologies are great for a quick fix. Short stories are, well short and there are plenty of publishers out there putting out call-outs that writers can answer, but they’re not going to help boost that bank balance! I do enjoy a good challenge for a short story, but right now I’m focusing on the longer fiction.
Tell us how you get included in so many anthologies. I know some don’t know how to go about getting involved.
The website Duotrope, although you need to pay for it now, is a great investment for writers. It’s a complete database of publisher call-outs for anthologies and magazines. The best advice I can give is to stick to genres that you feel you can write well and don’t take on too much. There are always deadlines for these and part of the trick is picking what you can realistically do, rather than what you wish you could do.
Where can we find your most recent work, and what is your next piece coming out?
It’s a race at the moment because I’m currently working on both the last book of the Battle of the Undead series, Bad Karma and also the second in The Twisted and The Brave, The Assassin of Oz.
What’s your guilty pleasure movie that would surprise people, being that you are into the horror genre in writing?
Hmmmm, I do like a good superhero movie. I really enjoyed Deadpool and Antman, although they are quite acceptable within my genres. Although not a movie, at the moment I’m binge watching RuPaul’s Drag Race on Netflix – I love that show, it never fails to make me smile!
Thank you for having me on your site today, now I’ll sashay away…
What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
I wrote ‘White is the coldest colour’ primarily as an entertaining dark psychological thriller, but I also hoped it would play a small part in increasing public awareness of the heinous risks posed by sexual predators.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
The book draws heavily on my working life. Some years have now passed, and that time sometimes feels like a different life; but, with that said, writing the book brought back some memories of real events that were perhaps better left in the past.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Writing some aspects of the book proved cathartic, in that you can control events in books a lot more easily than in real life.
Are there misconceptions that people have about your book? If so, explain.
I think the vast majority of reviewers understood what I was trying to achieve. I have had to accept, however, that you can’t please everyone. The book addresses an emotive subject, and was always going to engender strong emotions.
What do you like to read in your free time?
I read an eclectic range of books, from historical biographies to modern thrillers. I find books written by people who have experienced extraordinary events particularly interesting.
How long have you been a police officer and child protection social worker? Is there anything you can tell us about that?
About 21 years in total. I finally retired from a post heading up child protection services for the county of Carmarthenshire in Wales.
When did you decide to write this series?
The first book tells the story from the perspective of the offender, his intended victim, and the boy’s family. The sequel tells the story in the words of the perpetrator’s wife, and explores issues of domestic violence and manipulation. It answers some of the questions readers are left with after book one.
What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject, that isn’t so?
When I first worked in child protection it was extremely difficult to convince other professionals, let alone the general public, that a significant number of adults, most of whom were male, posed a significant risk to children. This lack of knowledge was one of the reasons men like Jimmy Saville avoided arrest for as long as they did. That’s changed now, and I think the public have a much better awareness of the activities of this group of deviant criminals. That has to be a good thing from a protective perspective.
What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
While fictional, my books are influenced by real experiences. Readers tell me that that shows in the writing.
Aside from writing, what are your hobbies?
I used to run a Taekwondo club and play squash, but these days it’s yoga, swimming and travel.
Do you have a ritual you use while writing? (During commercials, certain music, etc)
I tend to write until lunchtime, with weekends off; always with music playing.
Are you working on anything presently?
Yes, I’m working on a serial killer thriller, which I hope to finish by September 2016.
What is your writing space like?
I only wish I had one! I write at the dining room table with family life going on around me. Such is life.
Meet YA Sci Fi author Jonas Lee and watch as he reads from A TIME TO REAP, Book one in The Legend of Carter Gabel. Then get to know him as he shares a favorite quote and poses a fun trivia question. Be sure to leave a comment to enter to win one of two signed paperback of A Time to Reap. The contest is open internationally.
Summary: Pemberton Academy is not just a school, it’s a gathering place for the children of the future that are afflicted with Temporal Displacement and Telepathy; in short, time travelers and mind readers who have been diagnosed with this “disease.” The Academy is not all as it seems after an explosion nearly takes one of its classmates, but not before Carter Gabel rescues her by using an unknown symptom related to his described illness. An unsanctioned group called the Program begins taking notice as the two classmates exhibit stronger abilities when they are together. Carter’s sense of reality begins to unwind as he learns more about his estranged father’s involvement with it all.
Carter will have to overcome the past of his father leaving, the present of an unknown adversary hunting him down and a future that seems to change with each decision he makes. He will have to learn who to trust out of the people in his life if he wants to conquer the looming notion that the government may be hunting him down because of his developing abilities.
Interview by Book Nerd Paradise
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GET TWO FREE EBOOKS – Power of the Heir’s Passion (Prequel) and Blast of the Dragon’s Fury (Book One) in the award-winning Andy Smithson coming-of-age epic fantasy series are available for free download. Just tell L. R. W. Lee where to send them.
You are about to enter an interview like you’ve never seen before, so I thought I would give you a heads up that you aren’t reading typos. What you see is how the author truly writes for the book of discussion. And honestly, there isn’t anything wrong with it. I’ve read his book, written this way, and you don’t even notice anything after a few pages.
Meet Al Dixon, who teaches English at The University of Georgia, my alma mater.
Can you explain what nonstandard English is to our readers? Maybe you could use it in your responses if you like.
it basicly means writing however you want, as long as people can understand you. if you wana use capital letters and apostrophes and spell gona “going to,” go for it. but dont act like evrybody else has to do it too. we say we need a writing standard in order to understand eachother, but this is an invented need. standard written english [ or standard rotten, as they call it in the novel ] is much more effectiv at marking people as different based on race, class, and education-level than it is at promoting clarity. this makes sense historicly: in almost all languages and cultures, the development of a written standard coincided with the rise of capitalism.
Okay, give us an example of some things, although you are doing it already.
lets say a student writes “Davids car” or “David car” instead of “David’s car,” or “I seen ” instead of “I saw,” or they use ironic colloquially instead of according to its dictionary definition [ english teachers especialy hate that one. ] why is this wrong? the car belongs to david. seen and saw mean the same thing. ironic can mean suprizing, because thats how people use it now. whats not to understand?
In your opinion, if we can understand English however its written, then why the fuss over the details?
whether we realize it or not, educated people enforce language standards for the same reason the wealthy want to eliminate regulation and taxes to create a supposed “free market”–you workd hard to get on top, and you wana stay there. intrestingly, the people who claim not to be able to read the book or who call it distracting or who want to know why i write like that are english teachers, editors, writers, agents–people whose currency is the written word. other people rarely remark on it at all. if pressd, they say they thought it was fun or they stopt noticing it after awhile. so its kind of like reverse-discrimination for literacy.
to me, the real standard of language comes from the people who speak it. we celebrate variety in speech, in song, in film. why not in literture? can you imagine faulting robert johnson for saying “Me and the devil was walkin side-by-side,” instead of “The devil and I were walking…” or the sex pistols for shouting “I wanna destroy” instead of “I want to…” not only would this be preposterous, it would get in the way of artistic and cultural expression. to me, as an artist, its important to make people question why literture lags behind in this area.
also, i am obsessd with how people talk. not so much what they say as how they say it. the slang, the accents, the rhythm of their speech. sometimes they say probably, other times probly. ‘have to’ and ‘hafta’ are not interchangeable. they mean basicly the same thing, but they are used in difrent contexts. in cases like these, the artificiality of standard language actualy gets in the way of writing.
Reading The Real Pleasure in Life, as far as the language and spelling are concerned were not a problems except when the letter x would normally be used, and that was on one occasion out of the entire book. The only thing that got to me at times was the animation of the text and only then when it came to the speed of some of the changes.
awsom! that means a lot coming from a fellow writer. its hard to get the speed of the animations perfect. i did a lot of testing and found zero consensus: people read in radicly difrent ways and at very difrent speeds. i spose the animations are sposeto fuck with you a little bit anyway, keep you from getting too comfterble. so its obviusly not for evrybody.
How long have you been teaching at UGA?
i started at the university of georgia three years ago, but ive been teaching college english for about 15 years. ive taught at 6 difrent colleges, but UGA has the best students. those kids can write. when i went to school there, theyd let anybody in! not so now.
Is nonstandard English something you promote in the classes you are involved with?
not directly, no. i’ll expand on that in a second. but first i’d like to give props to my students: i learnd more about writing from them than they learnd from me, i think. i useto get angry when they made run-on sentences or wrote your instead of you’re, think they were dumb, judge them, which is what we are traind to do as english teachers. but i came to realize that i like it–the slight deformity in the expected sequence of letters and punctuation produces an intresting reaction in my brain. when i was writing the real pleasure in life, i had to unlearn evrything i learnd about writing, and that allowd me to see what my students already knew: nonstandard isnt stupid, its awsom!
but to your question: in the classroom, i make a distinction between writing for school and personal or creative work. when students are in a college english class, they want access to “professional” language so they can advance in their fields. it is my responsibility to make sure they learn it. but at the beginning of the semester, i let them know that standard written english isn’t “real” or “correct” english, its just the english they need to know in order not to be judged negativly by potential employers and other people in positions of power. as a teacher, i need to show them these standards. but as an artist, i dont have to reinforce them. infact, its important not to.
Another part of your book that stands out beyond the non-standard English is the animated text. Where did the idea of the animated text come from?
before i wrote this novel, i always tried to write the way your supposed to write, using difrent literary models like raymond carver or denis johnson or whoever was in best american short stories that year. when i started writing the real pleasure in life, it wasnt like that at all. i was chaneling something outside of myself, and in order to do it justice, i had to forget all the things i knew about writing fiction. early on, i realized the narrator was writing from a difrent place, and in that place you dont worry about language standards or a literary tone, you can spell a word two difrent ways in the same sentence, you can have fight scenes and power moves and projectile vomiting, you can be as absurd as you want! at some point, it occurd to me that this included making the words jump around the page and knock eachother over. luckily i had nothing better to do with the next five years of my life, and i’m friends with some brilliant programers who were generous with their time.
Where did the idea for The Real Pleasure In Life come from? By that I mean the story itself.
it was a waking dream–it just started coming one summer when i fortunately was not teaching. i wrote all the raw material in 5 weeks–hundreds and hundreds of pages which i used only a fraction of. i wrote constantly, 16 hours a day, sometimes more. i couldnt stop. i didnt think at all, i just put down the stories and the voices that were in my head–my friends, athens, burning man, music, philosophy, literture. one of my favrite lines in all of literture is the last sentence of flannery o’connors story ‘a good man is hard to find’: “Shut up, Bobby Lee,” The Misfit said. “It’s no real pleasure in life.” i always wanted to write a book about that line, as a way of trying to understand it. but evrytime i tried to write it, it came out false. it was only when i was well into writing this novel that i realized i was actualy doing it. on accident. or out of necessity.
Being from Athens myself, the way you describe things is very much dead on. I don’t know the late night scene so much, but I know it goes on and can get wild. I’ve been from one bar to another and then to an apartment more crowded than the bar. How much of the atmosphere of the story is from personal experience and how much from conversations with friends or acquaintances?
almost all of it is true, with only slight exaggerations. all the characters except claire are real people, much of the dialog is taken word-for-word from their mouths. sometimes people think the beginning of the novel, the domestic part which is “realistic,” is based on fact, and the rest of it is my depraved imagination. but the opposit is actualy true. the shit that happens in athens, i couldnt make that up. i hafta make sure my mother understands this before she reads it, because if she thinks all that came from inside my brain, she will be certain she faild as a parent.
What is the meaning of life?
immersing ourselvs in life, the connections we make with eachother and the world. the Misfit was right, its no real pleasure in life. that useto terrify me, but now i see the wisdom in it. only when i learnd to accept this could i move on to the important stuff.
What do you think the reception of the book will be?
i imagine it will mostly be ignored. the kind of people who tend to write reviews or be in charge of magazines orwhatever will be annoyed by it, if they look at it at all. and who can blame them? i’m trying to annoy them! i just hope that it can slowly start to connect with a small group of people who delight in the absurd, in chaos, in the extreme–burning man people, neutral milk hotel fans, people who like south park and would like to read contemporary literture but find most of it too precious or stuffy or intentionally obtuse.
How can people get the book?
http://realpleasureinlife.com/ when the book is released, july 15, they can read it online there, or follow the link to download a free copy. we’ll have an iBook for Apple people and an app for evrybody else. you can read it on any device that will run a web browser–phones, laptops, tablets. you dont need any special software, and its totally free. we dont even ask for donations. you cant give us money, even if you want to. its important that the book not get mixd up in commerce because it is not a commercial product.
What are you working on next in regards to books?
i think i am ready to move on from books. over the last few years, ive been learning how to program. 90% of what i write now is code. i wana see what happens when literture escapes the confines of the page or screen and gets out into the world. maybe a haunted house made of your fears, or speech bubbles that come out of your mouth and collide with other peoples words, stories you can steer like a boat, stuff like that. this shuld keep me busy for at least the next decade.
Meet YA Fantasy author D Nichole King and watch as she reads from THE SPIRIT, Book one in The Spirit trilogy. Then get to know her as she shares a favorite quote and poses a fun trivia question. Be sure to leave a comment to enter to win a signed paperback of The Spirit, book one in The Spirit trilogy by d. Nichole King. The contest is open internationally although an international winner will receive an ebook, rather than the paperback.
Summary: While seventeen year-old Carrie Reese’s parents were working out the details of their divorce, she headed to Villisca, Iowa to stay with her grandparents.
Villisca was home to the infamous Axe Murder House… It’s known to be haunted by the ghosts of the victims and their killer. Carrie doesn’t believe in ghosts, but the moving curtains and red flashes of light in the windows of Lot 310 were starting to give her reason to watch her back.
Then in walked Lucas… Within days, Carrie knew she was in love. But Lucas seemed strange: his hands were cool and hollow, he barely touched his food, and there was sadness behind his brilliant green eyes. Lucas was falling for Carrie but knowing that loving her puts her in grave danger, he reluctantly slips out of her life…. He struggles between staying away and telling Carrie his darkest secret. Unable to stand being apart from her any longer, he decides she must know.
Interview by Book Nerd Paradise
Be sure to leave a comment
GET TWO FREE EBOOKS – Power of the Heir’s Passion (Prequel) and Blast of the Dragon’s Fury (Book One) in the award-winning Andy Smithson coming-of-age epic fantasy series are available for free download. Just tell L. R. W. Lee where to send them.
Meet YA Fantasy author R.K. Ryals and watch as she reads from MARK OF THE MAGE, Book one in the Scribes of Medeisia series. Then get to know her as she shares a favorite quote and poses a fun trivia question. Be sure to leave a comment to enter the giveaway for one of two signed paperbacks of Mark of the Mage. Giveaway is open to domestic & international entrants.
Summary: Books never die, but they can be forbidden.
Medeisia is a country in turmoil ruled by a blood thirsty king who has outlawed the use of magic and anything pertaining to knowledge. Magery and scribery are forbidden. All who practice are marked with a tattoo branded onto their wrists, their futures precarious.
Sixteen year-old Drastona Consta-Mayria lives secluded, spending her spare time in the Archives of her father’s manor surrounded by scribes. She wants nothing more than to become one of them, but when the scribes are royally disbanded, she is thrust into a harsh world where the marked must survive or die.
Meet YA Fantasy author Danielle Jensen and watch as she reads from STOLEN SONGBIRD, Book one in the Malediction Trilogy. Then get to know her as she shares a favorite quote and poses a fun trivia question. Be sure to leave a comment to enter the giveaway for a signed paperback of any one of the three books in the Malediction Trilogy. Giveaway open to domestic & international entrants.
Summary: For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.
Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.
But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.
As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.