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.
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.
Twin brothers, Davey & Derek, are up for an adventure. They want to become junior detectives and solve their first case. With the help of their friend Mickey, they soon have their first case to solve after overhearing a conversation their mother has on the phone.
It’s not long before the three boys are on the case to find a missing cell phone. However, the case is not going to be that easy to solve for the Fifth graders, given that the suspects are all in the Sixth grade at their school. When the police get involved, the whole school can talk about nothing else and the three junior detectives become even more determined to solve the case of the missing cell phone.
It’s been a long time since I read a book that has been written for children, but from the opening chapter I was engrossed in this story and could not put it down. Okay, it only took me two hours to read, but for the entire time I was willing on the main characters to quickly find the culprit(s) so they could be brought to justice.
The main characters are very likable and you can’t but want them to succeed in their first case as junior detectives. For me, the Author’s characters remind me of the works of the great Children’s Author, Enid Blyton. Even the villains are written in a way that you can’t not feel for them and, when you read the book, you’ll get exactly what I mean.
The story moves along at a fast pace and there’s nothing in it that will make the reader wonder if they’ve missed anything. Sure, there is a red-herring, but what’s an excellent detective mystery without the odd red herring thrown in? Given who the Author has written the book for, I firmly believe she’s done an excellent job. It’s a no wonder, then, that the book has already won an award.
I was delighted to hear that there is a second book in the series. Janice Spina is on to a real winner here and I can only see that Davey & Derek are going to become characters that children of all ages are going to love. Now, if only she could introduce a pet dog into the stories like Enid Blyton did with The Famous Five and The Secret Seven, then I think the character selection would be complete.
If you’re looking for a book that has the very real prospects of becoming a great series of stories for Junior School children, then look no further than this book.
Equipped with a professional writing degree from Augusta State University, Angela Kay is a southern lady who spends her days and nights dreaming up new ways to solve dark murders of normal people.
Angela Kay is one of 23 across the United States to win a 2009 playwright contest for her one-act play entitled “Digging Deeper.” Because of this, she was able to spend a week in Atlanta at Horizon Theater. In addition to this, Angela is featured in the poetry Anthology, “Under the Sun,” for her poem “A Little Hope.”
Now you know her Bio, here’s why she’s here. While her novel is in editing and she’s working on the sequel, she’ll be doing Book Reviews here on LWI as well as sharing her adventures in becoming a published author.
Also, Angela offers proofreading and editing services, which you can read about on her blog Service Page HERE.
1. You were born in Syracuse to first generation Italian/American parents. Have you ever been to Italy? Can you speak Italian?
I was fortunate enough to travel to Italy with my parents when I was in high school as part of a school trip. My Italian is limited to what I remember from studying Italian in school and from listening to my grandmother speak when I was a kid. She was from Sicily, however, so her dialect was much different than the formal Italian that I learned. I can read Italian fairly well, but speaking it is not something I’m comfortable with.
2. What feels more like home to you; New York or Florida?
New York will always be home, but when I’m traveling to cold places in the winter time, I’m glad that Florida is my adopted home. I feel like I’m going on vacation every weekend.
3. You write to combat the long hours of travel, hotel stays and homesickness that your job entails. Apart from writing, what do you do for a living?
I am a manager at a very large consulting company and I specialize in the healthcare IT field.
4. Because you travel so much in your job, do you prefer to stay at home in your spare time/holidays?
I do prefer to stay home although we often take trips so that my children can experience travel. We have spent Christmas in New York, Easter in California, and have taken Caribbean cruises.
5. Your first published book ‘Frankly Speaking’ rose to the top of the Amazon charts. Which marketing strategies did you use?
I tried every marketing strategy you can think of. It was a slow rise that culminated with spending considerably on Facebook advertising coupled with interviews and a newspaper article on the book.
6. Were any of the characters in ‘Frankly Speaking’ based on real-life people?
I think that the characters are combinations of people I have known. The main character is slightly autobiographical as he is a transplant from New York to Florida and plays the piano as I do.
7. When ‘Frankly Speaking’ was at the top of the charts, were you contacted by literary agents?
I was not, other than those that wanted me to invest in getting my book published. I didn’t see an upside to this.
8. Which social media do you think is best for promoting books?
My blog has been a successful way to gain some exposure from myself as an author, but Facebook ads have been the most effective.
9. Do you think it’s a good idea to pay for advertising on social media to promote books?
It’s a good idea if you are focused and know what you’re doing. I took a very useful course on Facebook ads that helps me spend minimally for maximum results.
10. What are you working on now?
I just turned in the fourth book in the Frank series to my editor. Beyond that, I’m working on a screenplay for Blood Orange, continuing to write my serial, Road Kill, on my blog and I’m laying out the next Frank book.
11. Which of your books sells the most copies?
It varies, but right now, my latest book, Blood Orange is selling the most.
12. If you could ask advice from one author, who would it be and what would you ask?
If it were an independent author, I would ask how they balance writing, promotion, and other things like blog posting and social media interaction.
13. Your favourite book of all time is Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’ Have you read ‘Go Set a Watchman?’ If so, how does it compare with ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’?
I read it in two days when it came out. It was disappointing on a couple of levels. First, the character of Atticus is portrayed in a different light that contradicted his image in the first book. Second, it wasn’t written well. It appears that it may have been individuals trying to capitalize on Ms. Lee’s writing when she was not in a position to stop them.
14. If you could save one possession in a fire, which one would it be?
Are my family and pets safe? Then it would be the thumb drive with all of my writing and possibly the old 78 RPM recordings of my dad singing a song for my mom.
15. What’s number one on your bucket list?
I would love to take my family on a Mediterranean cruise to Italy, Greece and Spain.
16. Do you have any unusual hobbies?
I am a musician and love to play and arrange music when I have the time.
17. You have two children. Are they showing a creative talent in music or writing?
My older daughter is more of an athlete, but loves to read and write. My younger daughter, who is eight, wants to write books and we have worked together on putting small books together. She also dances and is passionate about baking.
18. How do you see the future for traditional publishing?
Much like the record industry, independent publishing is slowly changing the way traditional publishing works. From my standpoint, being able to take my work directly to the readers and getting immediate feedback would be tough to give up in favor of the traditional mode.
19. What’s your favourite piece of music/song?
This depends on my mood. I think I was born in the wrong decade because I love old standards. One of my favorites is ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’ by George and Ira Gershwin. I also like some modern music. Ed Sheeran is a talented and unpretentious artist. I also like John Legend. I can’t zero in on a specific piece of music, however.
20. Do you like to sing along to songs on the radio?
I was a musician in a band for many years, so I don’t really listen to music on the radio that much. I tend to listen to talk when I’m driving.
The body of a young girl, found floating in the icy waters of Scarborough Marsh…
Six men, over a span of thirty-five years, disappear without a trace…
A harbinger of evil, so ancient it defies memory, surfaces on the rocky shores of Mateguas…Journey, with Karen and her family, back to the mythos, passion, and magic, and join her as she seeks to finally lay to rest the … GHOSTS OF MATEGUAS.
GHOSTS OF MATEGUAS is the third full-length novel in highly acclaimed, award-winning, MATEGUAS ISLAND SERIES by Linda Watkins. The novel will be published in eBook format on March 15, 2016. The print version will follow, most likely in April. GHOSTS is on pre-order at Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and iBooks
Excerpt from READERS FAVORITE 5-Star editorial review:
“Those who love stories with some touch of mystery will not be disappointed with this one. The story, for sure, will grip readers at different levels. First off, Watkins writes with moving simplicity, a kind of prose that tantalizes and is difficult to put down, because it rings with an eloquence that is akin to the spell of the ghosts sauntering along the rocky shores of Mateguas. It can be difficult to believe a story told about humans and ghosts, but when that story is told by Watkins, it becomes as convincing as it is real.
The setting is perfect for a tale that involves the herald of evil: the rocky shores, the eternity of the sea, the marshes… The story is fast paced; the suspense is so skillfully built into the story to have the reader turning the pages, and the characters are solid enough that any reader will care about what happens to them. One would say that Ghosts of Mateguas comes with a spell that makes the book impossible to put down. Beautifully written by a writer of a rare caliber.” ~ Romuald Dzemo for READERS FAVORITE
Excerpt from GHOSTS OF MATEGUAS:
THE AMTRAK DOWNEASTER PULLED noisily into the Portland terminal. Bill grabbed his overnighter and briefcase and followed the stream of passengers hurriedly exiting the train. The sun was bright and he had to squint due to its reflection off his glasses. He had a bitch of a headache.
Grimacing, he walked rapidly toward the parking lot.
“BILL! OVER HERE!”
He stopped and turned, surprised to hear someone calling his name.
Susan stood in front of the entrance to the train terminal, waving as she yelled to him.
“What are you doing here?” he asked as he approached her. “You know I have my car. I don’t need a ride.”
Susan frowned. “Nice greeting. I think you can do better than that, can’t you?”
Despite his headache, Bill managed a laugh. “Okay,” he said, wrapping his arm around her waist and giving her a lingering kiss. “That better?”
“Yes, it is,” she laughed. “Much. Now let’s get a cup of coffee. I don’t have a lot of time and I want to let you know what’s been happening.”
Reluctantly, Bill followed her into the terminal. He didn’t want to be with her now. All he wanted was to get home, take a pill, and lie down. But Susan was a force and he knew it would be better to accede to her demands than to fight.
Once inside, he purchased coffee from one of the many vending machines that lined the back wall. The place was now almost deserted and they sat down on one of the benches to talk.
“They bit!” she exclaimed. “They’re going to look for the bodies on Puffin. And, I’ve enlisted the support of the Anthro Department at State for grad students to help.”
“You mean the police will be going to Puffin? That’s good news, I guess. Why the students, though?”
“Yes, the police and forensics. And, the kids from State – they’ve been on archeological digs and know how to sift through debris and dirt for artifacts. A rep from the Coroner’s Office will be coming along, too.”
Bill sipped his coffee, thinking. “Do you really expect they’re going to find anything? I mean, it’s a long shot.”
Susan smiled. “I’ve got a hunch on this one and my hunches are usually right. Yes, I think they’re going to find one, if not all, of the six missing men.” She glanced down at her watch. “I’ve got to get going. I’m on the air in an hour, but I just had to tell you the good news.”
She reached over and squeezed his hand, then stood and started for the door. Halfway across the room, she stopped and looked back over her shoulder. “Oh, Christ, I almost forgot. Saturday. Keep Saturday clear.”
Susan grinned. “That’s when it’s happening. That’s when we’re going to Puffin Island!”
She blew him a kiss, turned, and hurried out the door to the parking lot.
Bill sat immobile for a moment staring after her as three words screamed across his consciousness, “Saturday … Puffin Island.”
Without warning, black shadows crept into the corners of his vision and the quiet terminal was abruptly filled with the vicious sound of the winter wind raging relentlessly across the ocean.
The words “Puffin Island” echoed repeatedly, bouncing off the walls and slamming into his mind over and over again. But nothing could blot out the never-ending, icy howling of the wind that threatened swallow his soul alive.
His hands were shaking violently with imagined cold, causing the hot coffee to spill over the front of his pants. The steaming liquid burned, but he was not aware of it. The shadows clouding his vision were growing larger and he feared they would soon erase all that he was or once had been, leaving his mind and his soul lifeless, devoid of all humanity.
And only one word triumphed over the roar of the bitter and relentless wind: survive.
Linda Watkins currently resides in Western Michigan and, in another life, was a Senior Clinical Financial Analyst at Stanford University School of Medicine. She was born on the east coast, but grew up in a suburb of Detroit. Upon graduation from college (Carnegie Mellon, ’70), she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where she lived and worked for thirty years. Taking early retirement, she moved briefly to Oregon then to an unconnected island off the coast of Maine (Chebeague Island, ME). She lived on Chebeague for seven years and it was there that she wrote her award-winning debut novel, MATEGUAS ISLAND.
Today, Linda lives with her three aging rescue dogs (Splatter, Spudley and Jasper) and is at work on the third novel in the series, GHOSTS OF MATEGUAS (to be published in early 2016). Serious about dog welfare and rescue, all net proceeds from sales of THE MATEGUAS ISLAND SERIES are donated to Linda’s charitable trust, the Raison d’Etre Fund for Dogs, Dedicated to Rescue and Research.
When it comes to writing, don’t be too shortsighted.
A Diary of Writing Wisdom (and other nonsense)
The Need for Farsightedness
Human beings are naturally shortsighted. The current opinions are the ones we see in front of us, the ones that are discussed in current magazines and on social media. It is natural to concentrate on current trends and hot topics. But there are two disadvantages in doing so. One is that we fail to learn from the past; the other is that we fail to look to the future.
Interestingly, these two forms of shortsightedness are connected, for one of the clearest lessons we learn from the past is that the “normal” of one generation is out-of-date in the next. In theory this is not hard to accept. At one time or another we have all read books/excerpts from articles written many centuries ago and smiled at the quaintness of the ideas and the language contained therein; and we realize that our own generation would be unique were it not for the fact that it will appear equally quaint in years to come.
I wonder, for instance, what our descendants will think of the Zombie Apocalypse theory or of stem-cell research. It is difficult for us to see it as future generations are likely to see it. Robert Burns once prayed for the gift to see ourselves as others see us. It would be an even greater gift to see ourselves as people in the 23rd Century will see us.
When it comes to writing, don’t be too shortsighted. Learn from your past. Don’t just let it lay dormant. Incorporate what you’ve learned from the past into your script of today. Believe it or not, this looking-back approach can help writer’s generate even greater power to look ahead. It can help writer’s ignore the temptation to write only about current trends and hot topics. It can even help writers become less shortsighted and more farsighted—nearby distractions become blurry while the ability to see distant goals and objectives become more and more clear.
Everyone welcome our newest Team Member here at LitWordInterviews.com.
ELIZABETH S. TYREE
Some of you may know Beth fromHere there Be Dragons, her blog where she currently shares her own writing and book reviews.
Colleen, you all know the Silver One, led me to Beth after reading her reviews and thought she would make a great addition to the team. After reading some of her reviews, noting her unique voice and her professionalism, I immediately emailed her. And here we are. And I’ve already thrown some reviews her way that were waiting in line.
We get a lot more books than we are able to handle as fast as I like, but the authors have been patient, understanding the great demand for Book Reviewers. And demand good book reviewers who are fair and professional is even greater. That is something I hope LitWorldInterviews has a reputation for.
ABOUT BETH: In addition to her blog link above you can visit herGravatar pagefor her other sites to follow, including facebook.
Bio: “I am a mother, an author, a musician, a crafter, a teacher and a seer of dragons! This blog will be focused on sharing my experiences and, hopefully, helping you through book reviews, short articles on family and home life, crafting, and writing, and the occasional off topic ramble just for funsies. Feel free to comment, ask questions, and lurk! Welcome to the Whimsical World of ESTyree!”
When asked her favorite quote she responded with;
No, sorry, I had to do that. When you’re the one writing these things you have to throw some self promotion in where you can.
I am hard pressed to choose a favorite quote but one of my favorites is “Everyone wants some magical solution for their problem ad everyone refuses to believe in magic.” The Mad Hatter.
BETH’S GENRE INTERESTS
My main genre interests are ficiton, fantasy, fairy tale/folk tale/mythology retellings, teaching, picture books, children’s books, middle grade books, young adult books, mysteries, etc.
I am honestly up for reading just about anything. My typical genres are children’s, middle grade, and young adult because I write my own books in those areas and like to keep up with what is popular at the moment. However, I have no problem reading and reviewing the gamut of items.
My hobbies include writing, blogging, reading, adding to my TBR list, playing the flute, crocheting, obsessively watching Netflix or movies while I color (Adult coloring books are AMAZING), and playing with my daughter (who I’m teaching to love the finer things in life, like superheros, comics, and 80s cartoons!). *Side Note* Halloween is my favorite holiday, I love semi-creepy things, and I believe that fairy tales exist somewhere and that’s why we can write them in so many forms and still have them feel relevant today.
I have a teaching degree and certificate for 1st-8th grades with a strong background in English, Literature, Music, and Learning Types. I like to partake in continuing education so I’m starting to also have a strong background in Brain Based Learning, Sciences, Autism, and Jewelry Making.
I’m very excited to have Beth as part of the team. I am constantly on the lookout for an original voice and professionalism to help stay up with our demand here, and this time Colleen came through for me AND for you, the author, with Elizabeth Tyree.
I look forward to a long association with Beth and many reviews AND interviews from her. Follow her blog(s) and she will have her own page here you can submit a request to soon you can get to through our About page, that is if you don’t want to use the regular Book Review Request form.
*All requests for signed copies of Beth’s bio photograph must be made to her directly. Our site cannot handle that amount of traffic at this time.
As you know I’ve been sharing interviews with writers who usually publish their books in Spanish but who have now had one or several or their novels translated to English. Today I have as a guest Armando Rodera one of the authors who first discovered the possibilities of self-publishing his work, and who has lived through many changes in publishing. But I’ll let him tell us all about it.
I was born in Madrid in 1972, and I became a voracious reader from a very young age. I studied Telecommunications and IT, and worked for a decade in the technological sector until I decided to go into literature.
Pioneer of digital publishing in Spain, I landed in Amazon in 2011. Since then and in the last four years, I’ve become the published author of El color de la maldad (Color of Evil), a bestseller police-thriller that was my first publication, La rebeldía del alma (The Rebellion of the Soul), an intimate thriller that has been global number 1 in Amazon Spain, Juego de Identidades (Game of Identities), novel of action and adventures, and Caos absoluto (Absolute Chaos), a dystopian police thriller. I also have a non-fiction work, La llave del éxito (The Key to Success). I’ve published all these titles independently in Amazon.
My first traditionally published work was El enigma de los vencidos (The enigma of the defeated), a mystery novel with a historical background that was published by Ediciones B in 2012. In 2014 Thomas & Mercer published the English version of El color de la maldad, which has been very successful in the USA, UK and Canada.
I’m also editorial reader, manager of content and freelance consultor in projects of marketing online and new technologies applied to the publishing sector.
When and how did you start writing?
I’ve been writing since I was a small child, either handwritten letters or short tales. When I was 11 or 12 I won a writing competition at school. After that, once at college, I dared to write some nonsense that was soon forgotten. It wasn’t until the end of 2003, a period with numerous changes in my life, not only personal, but also with regards to my family and my profession, that I decided to take the plunge and I started on my first novel, El enigma de los vencidos. An inflection point that was also greatly influenced by my reading the fantastic La sombra del viento (The Shadow of the Wind), by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I told myself that someday I also wanted to write a great work and if I could ever managed to make one of my possible future readers feel even a tenth of what I had felt when reading that novel I’d be more than satisfied.
Describe your experience as an independent writer.
I wrote my first two novels between 2004 and 2007. After that I went through all the stages that any new writer has tried in order to get his works published: submit to book awards, send the manuscripts to agencies and publishing companies, etc. I even had a contract signed with a company that self-published books in paper, but finally that was rescinded for a variety of reasons. Finally I gave up trying to follow the usual routes of the sector and decided to publish in Amazon in July 2011, when a lot of people didn’t even know of the existence of the KDP platform for authors.
In a few months my life changed completely. El color de la maldadvery soon became a bestseller in America and El enigma de los vencidos did the same in the Brand-new Kindle store in Spain. That novel was then taken up by Ediciones B, but I continued to publish on my own, and I even manage to reach the global number one in Amazon.es with La rebeldía del alma and many successes with my other works.
Then came the launching in the Anglo-Saxon market of Color of Evil and that was the fulfilment of another dream of any writer. Digital technology and Amazon Kindle Store have allowed me to reach dozens of thousands of readers all over the world and this is something that I could never have imagined when I started writing my first book.
What has been the best moment of your career as a writer so far?
At the beginning of 2012, Ediciones B and B de Books pushed for a new model, and trusted authors that were practically unknown to the great public, but who had been successful with their digital novels. That group of authors that I was a part of appeared in several national newspapers and magazines in Spain (El País, El Mundo, El Periódico de Cataluña, Tiempo, Interviú, etc) and we had great media repercusion.
Shortly after that, our novels were presented in an incomparable setting, the Feria del Libro de Madrid (The Book Fair of Madrid), in the well-known Parque del Retiro (Retiro Park) of Madrid. In my case I was lucky enough to be signing books for two days at that Book Fair, some memorable afternoons I’ll remember forever. Also, the book was distributed throughout the whole of Spain and some American countries with a great reception. Of course, it’s a wonderful feeling to find your own novel on the new books exhibits in the bookshops. I’ll always have a wonderful memory of that experience and I hope to repeat it again in the near future.
What’s your favourite genre (both as reader and as writer).
When I was a young child I fell in love with the novels of Alexandre Dumas and Jules Verne, adventures that have marked me forever. After that, already at high school, I became familiar with the works of Stephen King, who has become one of my favourite authors. Among the writers of detective stories I can’t forget Conan Doyle and his wonderful Sherlock Holmes. And much later I lost myself in Daniel Sempere’s stories, and his Cementerio de los libros olvidados (Cemetery of Forgotten Books), a crucial moment in deciding to dedicate myself to writing.
In general I enjoy thrillers, detective and police stories, adventures, intrigue and also historical novels or even horror novels. I’m an avid reader and I devour between 60 and 80 books per year. I love to read. I can mention many names: John Grisham, F. Forsyth, Ken Follet, Preston & Child, S. King, David Baldacci or Dean Koontz, among others. And of course, Spanish authors as popular as: Pérez Reverte, Almudena Grandes or Matilde Asensi, although in the last few years I’ve had the pleasure of personally meeting and enjoying the books of a new batch of Spanish writers creating new works today, in paper as well as in digital formats, that perhaps aren’t quite as well known to the big public.
That as a reader. As a writer I also tend to write in the same genres. Definitely, action and intrigue novels, thrillers, if we want to define them that way, but always with something else: drama, mystery, police procedural elements, some romance, a historical or suspenseful background. I like to fuse genres.
What made you decide to translate your work? And how did you find a translator?
My novels have been very well received in the States from the moment I started on my digital adventure, and that was why I wanted to reach the Anglo-Saxon market. I studied the possibility of getting one of my books translated independently, but the costs were prohibitive for me or the quality of the work offered for me to sample did not convince me, and I parked the project for a while.
Then I heard about the possibility of sending a proposal to Amazon Publishing, the editorial arm of Amazon. That’s what I did with my novel El color de la maldad, and to my surprise, in less than two months they decided to send me a contract for the book. They got it translated and published it in 2014 under Thomas & Mercer’s company, the publisher of the group specialising in thrillers and mystery novels.
Color of Evil has been number 1 for several weeks in the Police procedural category in the Canada Kindle Store, and also Top 20 in the category of International thrillers in the United Kingdom. It was also a prominent thriller in that category in Amazon.com, staying in the podium of ‘Mystery and International Crimes’ for several weeks.
Tell us something about your book
The genesis of this novel came in the spring of 2007, when after visiting as an occasional tourist several rural areas in our country; I had the inspiration that they could be the perfect opening point for an unconventional police procedural novel. From then on I began to build up a plot that became more and more similar to the Anglo-Saxon thriller, becoming somewhat detached from the usual canons of the classical noir Spanish crime novel.
What I found more difficult to create was the character of Jason, the psychopath around whom the whole plot revolves. He was the most complex of all the protagonists, due to the complexity of his psyche. I wanted to narrate what the psychopath felt and thought from his own point of view, and it was hard work, and that was why I also explained his childhood and adolescence, the main triggers, but not the only ones that lead him to become a blood-thirsty assassin.
When I started writing I knew the novel would revolve around a serial killer that leaves a trail of crimes throughout the whole of the Spanish geography, but I didn’t have his leitmotif. I had in mind the film Seven or Harris’s novels with Doctor Hannibal Lecter as protagonist, but I had no idea which path the novel would lead me into until I started writing. Later I found a solution that might surprise readers quite a lot.
In the first draft I didn’t name the assassin and the narration became quite complicated at times, especially during his interactions with other characters. I wanted to give him a name he chose himself, Jason, although we don’t get to know the real one until the end, to help with the plot building and to embody on someone concrete the brutality of those criminal acts.
I would never have imagined the reception my novel got, especially in America. “El color de la maldad” was published on Amazon.com in July 2011 and for over three years it has been the best-selling police procedural in Spanish in the American continent, becoming a longseller in América. The reviews and comments about this novel, in both sides of the Atlantic, have been almost unanimous throughout its trajectory, something I’m very proud of. The icing on the cake was a joint reading organised on the net, where 16 blogs agreed to write very positive reviews about this book.
Any advice for your colleague writers (especially new writers)
I don’t feel qualified to give advice; I’m still fighting and learning every day. But to any new writer I would tell him or her that this is a long-distance race, that one must fight for the things one believes in, but also make sacrifices. Read and write every day, learn from those who know more than us and try and improve every day. And above all, to have a polished and as perfect as possible manuscript if they want to publish it through Amazon, with the right formatting and an attractive cover. After that one can do as much promotion as one likes but the readers have the final word and if they don’t like a work, it will all be in vain. We are all different and so are our challenges, but we have the right to fight for our dreams.
* I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review which follows. *
Welcome to Jack Joseph’s World
Jack Joseph is a conundrum. He possesses a Master’s degree in particle physics yet owns his own pool cleaning business. Jack appears to live within the constraints of his mind while pondering the dark matter of the universe. Jack even has high aspirations and would love to find the God particle, even though he dropped out of college when he found physics to be too tedious. You see, Jack just wants to live life his way.
However, all of the brilliance of Jack is dimmed with the way he chooses to perceive the world. Jack thinks that life is governed by random coincidences. To that effect, he lets his life spiral into chaos. With a failing marriage and a wife who wants a divorce, Jack slips into the black hole of alcoholism. Mix in casual sex with multiple clients and drugs to soothe the pain of too much alcohol, Jack continues his descent out of control in a controlled world.
Jack’s Bondage Continues
After Jack’s wife Elle, kicks him out of the house, he finds solace with Rosemary, one of his clients who uses sex, alcohol, and drugs to manipulate him into her version of the perfect man. Jack in his randomness, allows the situation to proceed even though he realizes he has sold out his soul for this pitiful existence. Jack is polarized by his dependencies, unable to break free.
One drunken night, Jack meets Sarah. There is an immediate connection, something that Jack has never experienced before. Jack is smitten and when a DUI lands him in jail, he is forced to face his demons and reconcile his lifestyle to the lovely Sarah.
To me, Jack Joseph was a likable guy even though he had enough failings to make any woman run the other way. There was something about him that was intriguing and drew me to him. I found many of Jack’s viewpoints made me uncomfortable and most of his life choices were mind boggling. Although, that is what made me want to read more. I really wanted to figure this guy out and see what made him tick.
D. J. Swykert makes Jack a real person. Written in the first person, Swykert has Jack display credible addict tendencies that sometimes were shocking in their authenticity. I found myself wanting Jack to get better and to find his way through his addictive personality and lifestyle. Sometimes I felt his desperation and pain. Other times I wanted to kick him in the teeth for all of his stupidity. The next thing I knew, I liked the guy again because I finally realized, there is a little bit of Jack Joseph in all of us.
This was an excellent read and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a book that makes you think about the intricacies of life in general. The story moves along quickly and the dialog makes you feel like you are in the room overhearing the characters. You feel this story through Jack’s eyes, flaws and all. Jack really got under my skin!
Author, D. J. Swykert
Character Believability: 5 Flow and Pace: 5 Reader Engagement: 4.5 Reader Enrichment: 4 Reader Enjoyment: 4 Overall Rate:4.5 About D. J. Swykert:
DJ Swykert is a former 911 operator, and wolf expert, living in Northern Kentucky, USA. His short fiction and poetry has been published in: The Tampa Review, Monarch Review, Sand Canyon Review, Zodiac Review, Scissors and Spackle, spittoon, Barbaric Yawp and BULL. His novel, Maggie Elizabeth Harrington, won a literary competition with The LitWest Group in Los Angeles in 2002.
Not long ago I met an author, one of the best I’ve come across in a one on one way ever, through another great author Dan McNeil. I’ve read and reviewed her book, and you can read the review on LWI by clicking here. What did I say? Read it, but I warn you, if you know my normal reviews and ratings…you will be shocked. Her name is Jasmine Aziz. Her book is:
First of all, I think people would like to know how in the world you got into the world of selling vibrators. I think that is somewhat important regarding your book. And in addition, how did you get out of doing that?
Well it isn’t exactly something your Guidance Counsellor in school tells you that you were born to do so no one was more surprised than me when I ended up doing door-to-door dildo sales. I went to a party (my first) with my girlfriend and the consultant that was presenting the products was stiffer than the toys on the table. She made everyone uncomfortable. Naturally, coming from a long line of sales people, I did what I know how to do best: make light of the situation to put everyone at ease. The consultant told me to keep quiet but at the end of the presentation, five women I had never met before came up to me to ask me if I could help them choose what to buy. I can’t be sure what made them come to me for guidance but I sensed I was on to something. That, or it was the “Sex Crazed Loon” shirt I was wearing.
There is an amount of honesty in your book that takes courage. How many times did you stop writing or have doubts and who helped push you to complete the project?
It took me six years to complete the book because I wasn’t sure I could face the potential wrath I was expecting from my extended family. But I had spoken to too many women and men that I felt needed the story so I forged forward. It was actually a fateful trip to Las Vegas that propelled me in the right direction. It was there that I was told I wasn’t “sexy” enough to get free tickets to a club. That made me stop and think, well, what is the definition of “sexy” anyway? It was that concept that helped me string the book together. Now if I ever go back to Las Vegas I’m just going to wear a copy of my novel and we’ll see who gets the last laugh.
How many strange men have proposed to you since the book came out?
Are you proposing? 🙂 If so, then only one 😉 Just kidding!
One thing I believe that makes the book so easy to read and perhaps become comfortable with is the humor. Where did the stories told about the sexual explorations and the disasters resulting come from? (I still laugh at the burning man scene.)
I’m often asked how much of it is based on my own adventures but the truth is, they were inspired by my protagonist Leena herself. I’ve always believed that one of the best ways to tackle difficult topics is through humour. When you are relaxed and laughing, you are more likely to be receptive to information. You don’t even realize that you’re learning something. I personally think laugh lines are extremely sexy too!
Why did you write this book? Your storytelling is great. You could easily have written a romantic comedy of the more traditional type but you chose this one. Why?
Well, thank you! In fact, I am trying my hand at a romantic comedy as we speak! The main reason I wrote “Sex & Samosas” was because I needed a way to purge my own feelings after a very bad breakup so I started writing them down. As I continued with my adult toy parties, I started to realize that other people had the same issues and insecurities that I did and that this was a story that so many others would find relatable. Page after page my personal bitterness and angst gave way to the fiction that unfolded. It’s not necessarily cheaper than therapy, but writing the book helped me work through some very difficult issues.
What has been the public reaction to the book?
I’m really blessed with the reaction. I frequently get emails and notes from people telling me that they not only loved the book and have loaned it to everyone they know, but that they have learned something from it or changed their lives as a result. No author could ask for more than that, I think.
What have men said to you about the book?
When they’re not proposing to me…more men have told me that they love the book because it has helped them to understand how a woman’s mind works. There is a voyeuristic quality to being in Leena’s head all the time that helps them to empathize in ways they couldn’t before. Some have even told me that it has helped them improve on their relationships and pick up women in the book store. It’s all good. Just name the baby Jasmine, is all I say!
I enjoyed the cultural aspects you discussed in the book. I think those parts might be the most surprising to people and maybe in some cases the most informative. Was there an intention of putting that in the book or did it just happen?
That was the starting point of the book actually. Leena and I both struggled with finding balance between two opposing cultures and asserting yourself comfortably in both. She has to find her footing and learn to love herself for the hybrid of cultures that she is as I had to when I was writing it.
What do you have to say or would say to people who say you wrote a sex book and you’ve gone against what a “proper” person should do?
If you’re going to be a suck, then at least read my book so you know you’re doing it right.
What did you want to convey to readers with this book?
My message is simple: if you can’t love yourself, don’t expect anyone else to. And that masturbation is healthy and natural. Sure, I can’t see my hand in front of my face and I have the hairiest palms on the planet, but I know better than anyone else how to please myself and that’s all that matters.
Give me your best sales pitch to get me to buy this book.
Buy my book: there’s sex in it.
Kidding again! I realize my novel isn’t for everyone so when people ask me what it’s about I tell them it’s a funny journey of self-discovery that just happens to have a bunch of vibrators in it.
When can we expect the next book to come out?
There’s the trickiest question of them all. I’ve been really busy and not able to finish my follow up memoir about the four years I sold adult toys, though the frame of the story is complete. It’s only now that I’m beginning to wonder if it should be a television series (Netflix, I’m talking to you!) instead. So I’m going to pursue that first before I head back to finish it as a novel.
Where can you connect with Jasmine? Well, she’s made it easy. Drop a hat and you’ll likely find her, and that’s as it should be with a future star of the publishing world. First go and buy the book!
Click here to find your preferred method. Jasmine has them all listed for you. @JasmineAziz www.facebook.com www.goodreads.com Jasmine on LinkedIn.
Want to discover more about Jasmine? Visit her website, JasmineAziz.com.
Ronovan is an author, and blogger who shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer though his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge and the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.WordPress.com.
I am excited to introduce you to author, Sarah (S. R.) Mallery who shared with me that she has worn various hats in her life. Sarah also shares that she was, “First, a classical/pop singer/composer, she moved on to the professional world of production art and calligraphy.Next came a long career as an award-winning quilt artist/teacher and an ESL/Reading instructor. Her short stories have been published in descant 2008, Snowy Egret, Transcendent Visions, The Storyteller, and Down in the Dirt.”
Author S. R. Mallery
I actually met Sarah on Twitter. I was immediately intrigued because she was such an engaging personality, something that you don’t always find on Twitter. In no time at all, I was reading her novel, “Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads.” You can read my review here, and below is the synopsis for this excellent book:
These eleven long short stories range from drug trafficking using Guatemalan hand-woven wallets to an Antebellum U.S. slave using codes in her quilts as a message system to freedom; from an ex-journalist and her Hopi Indian maid solving a cold case together involving Katchina spirits to a couple hiding Christian passports in a comforter in Nazi Germany; from a wedding quilt curse dating back to the Salem Witchcraft Trials to a mystery involving a young seamstress in the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire; from a 1980’s Romeo and Juliet romance between a rising Wall Street financial ‘star’ and an eclectic fiber artist to a Haight-Asbury love affair between a professor and a beautiful macramé artist gone horribly askew, just to name a few.
What was really amazing was that Sarah likes to do interviews! So here you have it. My interview with Sarah (S. R.) Mallery:
Colleen: Sarah, tell me something about yourself. Where do you live? Are you a full-time writer?
I live in Southern California, where the weather is basically so much tamer than the rest of the U.S. and Europe I have survivor guilt! And no, I would say I am only a two-thirds of the time writer. One-third of my time is spent teaching English to people from other countries and I have learned over the years that it is that balance of being inside my head––both creatively and promotion-wise––and helping others is what works best for me.
Colleen: What inspired you to write Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads? Have you written other books?
When my father told me about the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, I had already been a quilt designer/teacher for over twenty years. So, in doing my research on that horrific event, I was particularly drawn to those hapless immigrant seamstresses who, in spite of their overworked hours and low pay, were often the only ones in their families that could find work in the U.S. I also enjoyed thinking about the sewing aspect, surrounded as I was by so many quilts and fabrics in my studio. I therefore decided to continue writing short stories, connected only by one element of sewing/craft. That actually helped focus me on future stories. In other words, no matter what time period I was reading about, that context kept me asking questions like how would sewing/crafting ‘fit’ into a story that takes place in this time frame? Who would be the likely characters?
Yes, I’ve written two other books: TALES TO COUNT ON (http://amzn.to/1x8QqyD) and UNEXPECTED GIFTS (Currently set to be re-released in late June 2015).
Colleen: What message do you want your readers to get from SEWING CAN BE DANGEROUS?
By interweaving a ‘thread’ of sewing/crafts throughout each of my stories, I wanted to emphasize how in life as well as history, the ‘little things’ are what loom large. In other words, these quilts, necklaces, crafts, etc. stay with us no matter what events revolve around them.
That idea extends to when I do research for my writing. I am always fascinated by some small fact that most people might pass over but for me, pops out from the page. Soon, that fact starts to percolate in my brain until it becomes a major plot device and/or character development.
Colleen: Who is your favorite author and explain what really inspires you about their work.
Although there are several authors I admire, I would have to choose Harper Lee, who taught me that being simple yet lyrical, presenting appealing characters and touching subjects, and ‘showing not telling’ is more powerful than the most flowery, magnificent prose which can after a while, for me at least, go in one ear and out the other.
Colleen: What was the hardest part about writing this particular book?
I would say perhaps looking for a ‘sewing element’ in my research process that I could authentically use in a story. Originally, there were a couple more stories, but I decided to scrap them because their sewing component seemed too manufactured.
Colleen: Do you have any works in progress you will tell us about?
Yes. I am currently working on an historical fiction western and enjoying not only that time period, but also the colorful lingo that was used. Here’s the synopsis:
The Dolan Girls by S. R. Mallery has it all. Set in Nebraska during the 1800s, whorehouse madams, ladies of the night, a schoolmarm, a Pinkerton detective, a Shakespeare-quoting old coot, brutal outlaws, and a horse-wrangler fill out the cast of characters. Add to the mix are colorful descriptions of an 1856 land rush, Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show, Annie Oakley, bank/train robberies, small town local politics, and of course, romance. It’s not only a taste of America’s past, it’s also about people overcoming insurmountable odds.
Thank you, Sarah, for spending some time with us and sharing about your book, “Sewing Can be Dangerous & Other Small Threads.” I look forward to reading your other books too!
Here is An Excerpt from Sewing Can Be Dangerous & Other Small Threads
From “A Drunkard’s Path”
“…Are you kidding me?” Deborah exploded. “My life is falling apart! C’mon, curses don’t really happen, do they? I mean, what can I do? You tell me now!” She segued into a screech.
“Come over to my place tomorrow and I’ll try to relate it all to you, I promise…”
….”Do you know anything about the Salem Witchcraft trials?” The older woman leaned in toward her niece, as if casting a spell herself.
“No, not much, why?”
“You remember Martha Stinson from my quilt group? Well after the wedding, she showed me a journal written by a relative of hers and frankly, I am very concerned about you. It seems one of the accused witches from the original Salem trials might have actually had a connection with a real witch, an ancestor of Martha’s…”
* * * *
Inside the packed meetinghouse, dust particles from mud-caked boots floated throughout the air, rendering it dense, murky. That year, April had been an unkind month to Salem Village. Rain-drenched meadows produced a sludge that clung to the edges of women’s dresses, creating odors so foul that in such tight quarters, it became difficult to breathe. But people weren’t concerned with such matters on this day. They had gathered for a higher purpose: the Devil was in Salem, and they wished him thwarted at all costs. Even the constant threat of Indian attacks and surviving harsh winters paled in comparison to what was happening now, in that room, swelling with apprehension.
Crammed into high-walled pews, dark wooden benches, or simply shoved up against walls, spectators filled every conceivable space in the meetinghouse. Donning black hats, cloaks, and breeches, the men angled forward, their eyes boring holes into the five men sitting up front, yet it was the women who carried the greatest burden that day; their hooded coats and muffs covering their recently unkempt hair and unwashed fingernails, couldn’t disguise the uncertainty they felt about their community’s loyalty to them and how it would all end.
Sitting at the head of the counsel table, amongst other magistrates in the newly appointed Court of Oyer and Terminer, John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin quietly conferred with each other before beginning their first round of questioning. Arrogant, self-important, the black-robed magistrates assumed their positions on the political totem pole, and having been brought to Salem for such a specific purpose, they dared not disappoint. They were on a mission to deliver souls. Hathorne, displaying the greatest exhibition of self-aggrandizement, seemed the most severe. With no real legal experience, and having only glanced at Sir Mathew Hale’s Trial of Witches, and Joseph Granvill’s Collection of Sundry Trials in England, Ireland the week before, he nonetheless believed he was more than competent to interrogate the accused.
At the front of the room facing the magistrates, sat all the accusers, the “afflicted” girls: Abigail Williams, her cousin Betty Parris, Ann Putnam, Sarah Bibber, Sarah Churchill, Elizabeth Booth, Mercy Lewis, Susanna Sheldon, Jemima Rea, Mary Warren, Mary Walcott and Elizabeth Hubbard. With downcast eyes and folded hands, they appeared demure; inwardly they were experiencing emotions quite different from anything they had ever known. Childhoods stocked with adult repression and fear now served as a springboard to the frenzy of accusations they had created, because on this day, along with their catharsis and even exhilaration, came the most important emotion of all: a sense of empowerment. At last, they were getting adults to listen to them, and it was intoxicating.
John Hathorne commenced with the proceedings. “Bring in the accused, Bridget Bishop….”
Here’s what they’re saying about SEWING CAN BE DANGEROUS And Other Small Threads:
“S. R. Mallery is quite simply a master story-teller.”
“This is a box of bonbons, every story an eye-opening surprise. Eat one and you’ll want to devour the whole box.”
I have the best news! I would like to introduce you all to Deanie Humphrys Dunne, author of five children’s books: “Tails of Sweetbrier,” “Charlie the Horse,” “Charlene the Star,” “Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes,” and “Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog.”
The Tails of Sweetbrier has won several awards.
It was the winner of the Silver Medal in the Feathered Quill Book Awards (2014) and was selected as a finalist for the CLIPPA book awards.
The other books written by Deanie are entertaining children’s tales told from the animals’ points of view. All of these books are filled with valuable life lessons. They are beautifully illustrated by her sister, Holly Humphrys-Bajaj.
When Deanie isn’t writing, she loves spending time with her family and their dog, Elliott. She enjoys watching equestrian competitions and figure skating shows.
Author, Deanie Humphrys Dunne, photograph – courtesy of Bob Moseder
Colleen: So Deanie, tell me something about yourself. Where do you live? Are you a full-time writer?
Yes, I am a full-time writer, along with being a Mom and wife. We live in Connecticut.
Colleen: What inspired you to write children’s books? Have you written other books?
My career as an author began rather unexpectedly. I had been anticipating employment as a medical coding specialist, but no one was interested in hiring me without experience. Silly, isn’t it?
One day I had a strong intuition to write a story about growing up on our family farm called Sweetbrier. Remembering my Dad’s advice to consider the worst thing that could happen when I was worried about a new venture, I figured if the story wasn’t published, I wouldn’t likely pass away.
Consequently, I wrote my first book, the award-winning “Tails of Sweetbrier.” This story involves overcoming obstacles to realize your dreams, against the odds. It’s an autobiography of the journey I took with my Dad after he made a decision that changed my life. This book proves all things are possible if you persevere.
My other books, “Charlie the Horse,” “Charlene the Star,” “Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes,” and “Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog,” are fictional tales told by the animal characters. They’re all beautifully illustrated by my sister, Holly Humphrys-Bajaj. She is an incredible talent. She creates adorable illustrations, as well as book covers for our books. Nothing would be the same without her talents! All of my books are available on Kindle.
Colleen: What messages do you want your young readers to get from your writing?
My books are all filled with subtle life lessons that I hope will inspire and entertain children. For example, Charlie the Horse learns he must work hard and set goals if he wants to become a famous racehorse. Charlene the Star is a beautiful red horse who has different skills than anyone in her family. She proves it is okay to be an individual. She also shows it’s important to work hard to develop your natural talents.
Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes is a humorous story about a group of animals who look for an exciting new career. They start their own business to help their friends overcome training problems. It highlights friendship and teamwork. Finally, my new book, Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog, addresses bullying. It also shows you can change if you realize the need to do so. Readers learn about the animals’ comical thoughts and actions in these stories.
Colleen: Who is your favorite author and explain what really inspires you about their work.
If I’m reading romance novels, I like Danielle Steel because she is not predictable, and her books are always engaging, in my view. I have many children’s authors, whom I admire.
Janice Spina, Sarah Mazor, Yael Rosenberg, and Kathleen Andrews Davis are a few of my favorites. Their books are always entertaining and educational. They also highlight good character.
Colleen: Where do you get the ideas for your books from? What inspires you the most in your life?
Sometimes I get them from life experiences, as in Tails of Sweetbrier. But I would say most often, I decide what kind of theme I want and then craft a story around that.
Deanie Humphrys Dunne ancestral home – “Sweetbrier.” Photographer Unknown.
I would say my family is responsible for encouraging me. My parents used to tell me I should write books. Of course, I thought the idea was ridiculous. But once I started, it was fun. My sister, Holly, and my husband, Francis, always encourage me and give me new ideas when I need them, as do our sons.
I would like to thank Deanie for letting us get to know more about her and for sharing the information about these delightful books she writes for children. If you have young children or grandchildren you will enjoy reading these books together. The artwork is fabulous and the colors are inviting to kids.
Did you enjoy meeting Deanie? If so, here are some other places you can find her:
The Latin proverb simulac hoc, ergo propter hoc, which may be translated, “everything is the product of its environment,” is the basis for this writing theory.
According to this idea authors are like rivers. Rivers do not create water; they receive it from springs and streams. In the same way authors receive their ideas from the streams of thought that are flowing in the corner of the world in which they live. A middle-class Eastern author will receive middle-class Eastern ideas. A working-class Western author will receive working-class Western ideas.
To say it another way, authors “are what they eat.” This idea applies to minds as well as to bodies. It assumes that, just as my body is the product of red curry or pulled-pork BBQ (depending on my background), so also my mind is the product of French ideas or American ideas, liberal ideas or conservative ideas (depending on my background).
Growing authors, however, will realize this about themselves and seek out ways to “alternate” what they eat (every once in a while).
As a step toward becoming more aware of the kind of writer you now are. As a step toward becoming the kind of writer you someday wish to be—take time to consider not only how what you eat may be contributing to your writing, but how what you only eat may also be limiting your writing.
Most literary criticism is concerned with what authors write. The idea of strategically using silence in your writing, by contrast, is concerned not so much with what authors write as it is with what they do not write.
When it comes to writing a book, here are a couple of questions every author should consider: Is it sometimes better to leave things a little open ended? Or should you absolutely, every single time, try your best to describe every tiny detail your vivid imagination can divulge? Do you leave room for your reader’s imagination to have a life of it’s own? Or are you, perhaps, limiting the imagination of your reader by over doing it? Do you have adjective-itis?
“The dog did nothing in the nighttime.”
“That was the curious thing,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.
The main weakness about this idea that silence can be golden, of course, is that it fails to take into account the way books are actually written—with adjectives. But when is enough enough? That’s the real question to consider.
Below is a six word story I recently entered in a contest:
The dawn. The pilgrimage. The dust.
What comes to mind when you think of the dawn? Awakening? A new day? Who woke-up? A teenager? A married couple? Whoever/whatever it was inspired a pilgrimage. What kind of pilgrimage? Spiritual? Adventuresome? Why dust? You get the idea.
So the next time you want to include more because you feel a strong urge to tell your readers more about how Smith furrowed his brow and glared with genuine distrust at his shimmering spoonful of crimson colored magic tonic—NyQuil—force yourself to leave out the extra things you think you should include.
There will be plenty of opportunity in your book for you to write more—but sometimes less is the golden rule you should follow.
Welcome to AuthorsSupportingAuthors, Authors United to Make Dreams Come True. Here is my vision for the site. Authors join and agree to help each other with book launches. This is a central place to go to in order to find people to:
Agree to host some aspect of a book launch.
Find out if there are book launches occurring that might compete with their own.
Find people to form critique groups.
Find advice from veteran Authors.
There will be pages for various things such as book launch requests, as well as another idea I have in mind. But I’ll be asking some advice for that.
What’s one key to being successful? Getting it right from the beginning. You need as many people involved as possible to get your launch out there in a group. Hit that number 1 on Amazon and you can use Best Selling for you book. But my idea is not a one day hit at #1. We want days there. By using this site I hop authors can and will plan their launches to benefit each other. Publishers do that. They schedule their launch dates to not fight books in the same genre from their own company.
For the Indie Author, the Indie Authors are the company. And we are the biggest company in the world.
The site is to remain professional. If you don’t like what’s going on, or agree with something, by all means you may visit another site. This isn’t the place for drama or games. We are here to help each other. I have my other sites to run and I will be giving this one equal attention, but any drama and comments will be deleted. I don’t do that on other sites, but this one MUST remain respectful and professional in order to work moving forward.
Our first effort has been for the launch of PS Bartlett’s book Demons & Pearls set to Release on April 14. We had been agree to host her launch and her Thunderclap has surpassed its original goal and is still going.
This is not a site that I will be necessarily operating as in making decisions every moment. This will be a site to facilitate each of you to find out when launches are happening, and help each other set up book launch posts, Thunderclap campaigns, and other promotional ideas. Pre-order parties. Anything you can think of.
The site will be working through my Twitter Handle,@RonovanWrites as it has the support to help with the venture. As more Authors are added, see the Become an Author on ASA page for details, our reach will grow.
We also have a Google+ CommunityAuthors Supporting Authors you may ask to join. Like there would be a no to someone joining, right?
Before you authors run away because I’m talking about a marketing idea today. Don’t. You blew that one off with another author’s post recently and missed out on a very good, very easy opportunity. We write about things like book covers and formatting and you eat it up but anything that ventures in to the area of the dreaded world of promotion you run like conservative and a tree hugger festival.
I have eleven years experience in marketing. My interest in helping promote authors is not one that is some half wit idea without some thought given. I’ve done articles about authors needing social media presence for a reason. Articles about getting your book description right on Amazon have come up, with little attention by readers.
“Why does my great book about blah blah blah not sell?” Because your book description says a boy and his dog set off on an adventure across the country. That it, nothing else.
Back to marketing. How do you get people to buy your books? Advertising? No.
There are two ways; Word of Mouth and Word of Your Mouth
Word of Mouth
This is how most books get around. People to friends. Those friends could be face to face friends (f-f) or online community friends (OCF). Regardless of which, they are among people that know each other and are liable to listen. Send me an Amazon email with that list of books and I am more than likely not going to bother.
Word of Your Mouth
And here is why I’m writing this today. Jo Robinson wrote a great articleHow to Create Downloadable Links to Give Away Books from your Newsletter Sign Up In it she discusses exactly what the title says. But there is something she mentions that might be missed. And it was missed by a lot of people because for some reason this article didn’t get the massive response a Jo Robinson article normally does. Why? I won’t repeat why but as authors we want to write our books and that’s it.
Those times are long gone unless you write about wizards and have a nice bit of plastic surgery done. Or you have so many books out there that they do your leg work for you. But even then you have to play the game. Indie Authors MUST do it. House Published authors NEED to do it and are encouraged to do it by their publishing house.
What did Jo say in her article? A lot. But the one piece that I am talking about is as an author you MUST build up an email list. An email list is made up of people who have shown interest in something you were giving enough to give you their email address, which is a big deal these days. Start now before you even know you are going to write a book. Come up with some idea for a Newsletter and have those people sign up. 1000 people sign up and then get word of your book. Let’s say 10% buy your book. 100 people buy it. of that say 50% tell their f-f or OCF.
It keeps going and going. Your one email newsletter or email blast about your book is now spreading for you by word of mouth. Just think. Oprah speaks and people buy. Books never heard of may be mentioned by her and are then a best seller in days.
Read Jo’s article about how to set up a newsletter email system. It’s worth the time.
I was recently asked this question and had no hesitation in answering it.
“Why did you give that answer?” was the next question.
Although I had given an answer, the person asking me the questions went away not fully convinced I had answered their questions correctly.
Later that evening, while laying in bed and not able to get to sleep, the question kept going round and round in my head. ‘Am I an author or a writer?’
When asked the question, earlier that day, my answer was that I was a writer. When asked why I was not an author, I put it down to the fact that I have never had a book published. I’ve written quite a few short stories and am in the process of writing a book, but I have only ever published my short stories on my blog. Doesn’t that then mean that I am a writer, and not an author?
I’ve asked the same question to a few people who I know enjoy writing and those that have had books published declared themselves as authors, whereas most of those that have written, but never had anything published in a book, declared themselves as writers. So I thought my argument was won and that I had answered the question correctly. Then somebody mentioned to me that I should consider myself as a ‘trainee author’, which I guess I am because I want to have my stories published in a book one day, but the word ‘author’ still means something completely different to me, even with the word ‘trainee’ in front of it.
I suppose just about every human being in this world of ours is a writer. Whether they write a letter, an email, a shopping list, or a greeting card, they’re actually writing, which makes them a writer. However, if I look at it another way, writing a letter, an email, shopping list, or a greeting card is not being creative, is it? So, maybe the word writer can mean lots of different things?
If asked, I’ll never answer that I am an author, because I don’t believe I am. Yes, I have a number of short stories under my belt which have been published on my blog, but that does not make me an author. Not just yet anyway. If I go ahead and have those short stories published in a book then I would gladly answer that I am an author but, until I do so, as far as I am concerned I am a writer…for now.
Here’s something else to throw on the fire. Having written this article, can I now consider myself as the author of it? Does that mean I am, after all, an author? Am I digging myself into a very deep hole here or is there a simple answer to the question ‘am I an author or a writer?’