Poet and blogger, Christy Birmingham-Reyes, shares her thoughts about poetry and a review

thumbnail_Treasuring Poetry

Treasuring Poetry

Today, I am featuring Christy Birmingham-Reyes as my Treasuring Poetry guest. No only is Christy a wonderful and heartfelt poet, but she has a superb blog where she shares insightful and useful posts about life, parenting, working, caring for elderly relatives and many other amazing topics. You can follow Christy’s blog here: https://whenwomeninspire.com/

Over to Christy

Hi Robbie, thank you for offering me a spot in this great series on poetry! It’s a pleasure to be here. I enjoyed the time spent thinking about my answers to the five questions on this rainy, windy day on Canada’s west coast. Here we go:

My favourite poem is Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost. It was written by Frost in 1923 and published that same year.

My interpretation of this poem is that nothing stays in bloom forever. The moment is fleeting when the flowers blossom and trees are abundant with leaves. As the season ends, the flowers and leaves fall, just as humans too have a period where they are “in their prime” and grow frailer over the years.

While the interpretation above could be one that you might say is depressing, I disagree and find hope in the words of Robert Frost. To me, the poem is a reminder to enjoy today and to fill ourselves full of the golden moments we experience in life.

Cherishing the moments of happiness and taking in nature’s beauty is something we must not forget to do amidst the business of daily life. Now, more than ever, I feel grateful for the “small” things that are so big in their importance.

For example, today, I went for a walk between the rainstorms. The smell of the air was amazing to me, and I breathed it in deeply. That moment was golden, and it renewed my energy.

Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

I would not want to write like any other poet, although I do certainly admire Maya Angelou’s writing style. To be a copy of someone else is not possible, and I would not succeed in doing so. Instead, I choose to put my efforts into trying to be my best self, in my writing, as a wife, as a daughter, and in other areas of life.

Maya Angelou’s poetry is candid. It is full of moments that take my breath away with their authenticity. She was true to herself on each page she wrote, and I can tell she wrote from her soul.

Thank you for having me over for a visit today! It has been a pleasure to chat about poetry and the emotions it draws out of us as readers. Stay safe xx

About Christy Birmingham

Christy Birmingham

Christy Birmingham is a freelance writer in Victoria, BC, who has a BA in Psychology and has taken professional writing courses at the University of Victoria. She is the author of Pathways to Illumination (Redmund Productions, 2013), her first poetry book. Her work also appears in the Poetry Institute of Canada’s From the Cerulean Sea: An Anthology of Verse (2013) and the literary journals The Claremont Review and Tipton Poetry Journal.

Versions of the Self

Imagine a shift to the way you see the world that arises through poetic narration.

Imagine the world, at its base level, is a collection of selves. These selves collide, disperse, intermingle, and share themselves in lines of free verse. Such is the premise of Versions of the Self, poetry that assumes multiple types of selves exist and relate in ways that alter them. Each of the eight chapters looks at a different type of self, including the singular “I” and romantic interactions. These unique 80 poems definitely color themselves outside of the lines.

My review of Versions of the Self

Versions of the self is quite an extraordinary book of poetry. The poet, Christy Birmingham, has a very unique style of writing which I found very intriguing. I also thought this style worked exceptionally well for the content of this book which is all about different versions of self. It imitates the flow of thought but in an easy to read and fascinating way.

I felt I would like to get to know the poet as I read her poems. While she does write about a mixture of various emotions, there is a thread of sadness or melancholy that runs through many of them and I felt that the writer had suffered pain in her past relationships. The poems become lighter and happier as you move through the book and I found myself hoping that this is a reflection of Christy’s life.

These are a few of the verses I found the most compelling in this beautiful book:

“You direct me forward but

I want to go back,

Back to when we were wrapped in

Clean sheets, before the

Lies melted on your tongue.”

From Lack of Direction

***

“You were once a masterpiece

Now, your colors run down the fabric of

My past,

Shades of yellow and orange that have

Grown thick in consistency,

As the price of fine art rises with inflation.”

From You, Colors, and Realization

***

“You came to see me at a pillow rich with creativity,

Where I had hope beyond reason for tugging at my heartstrings.

You know exactly which strings to play on your

keys to keep me smiling.

From You, Unique.

Purchase Versions of the Self

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

  • Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
  • Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley;
  • Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre; and
  • Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Goodreads: Robbie Cheadle – Goodreads

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books


Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


“Chatting with the Pros”: Interview with award winning fantasy author L. Deni Colter

Chatting with the Pros

My “Chatting with the Pros” guest today is an award winning epic and dark fantasy author. She may not be as prolific as some writers, but everything she writes seems to shine in the fantasy realms. She is a two-time winner of the Colorado Book Award, and a Writers of the Future winner. That is three books and three awards. She must be doing something right. Please help me welcome fantasy author L. D. Colter.


L.D. Colter

Kaye: Would you briefly share the story of your own publishing journey?

Liz: I seem to have done a bit of everything along the way. My short stories have been traditionally published in magazines and anthologies. My first novel, A Borrowed Hell, was published by a small press that closed only a few months later, but fortunately the book was picked up again almost immediately by another small press. My epic fantasy novel, The Halfblood War, was acquired by a mid-sized publisher, and I chose to self-publish my latest novel, While Gods Sleep.

Kaye: Your books written under L.D. Colter are contemporary and dark fantasy, while your epic fantasy, The Halfblood War, is written under the name L. Deni Colter. What was the reasoning for the change of pen name?

Liz: I didn’t actually change my pen name, just added a second one. I started with L. D. Colter for my contemporary fantasy. When my epic fantasy novel was published, I decided to add the pseudonym L. Deni Colter to make it easier for readers to differentiate my writing by genre. While plenty of readers, like me, enjoy multiple sub-genres of speculative fiction, not everyone does, and I feel I write the two styles quite differently. I don’t separate my work in any other way, though. My website and author sites include my actual name, Liz, both of my pseudonyms, and all my books.

Kaye: When did you know you wanted to be an author?

Liz: I didn’t consciously decide to write with a view to publishing until well into adulthood, but I’ve been a daydreamer all my life—I nearly flunked out of 5th grade due to it—so I was hard-wired from the start to create fiction. I started toying with the idea of writing during high school but stayed too busy through college and for a long time after as I pursued of different interests, more school, and many different careers. Finally, I found myself with a seasonal job, a rainy winter off, and my first computer. I started a novel that winter and wrote 10,000 words in the first week. I’ve never looked back.

Kaye: Your first book, A Borrowed Hell,won the 2018 Colorado Book Award for Science Fiction/Fantasy. Were you surprised? Can you tell me a little about that book?

Borrowed Hell.ColterLiz: Yes, I was very surprised and honored to win. When I wrote A Borrowed Hell, I set out to write a contemporary fantasy with literary themes about a man forced to face his difficult past in order to move forward in life. To receive an award for this book, and especially one from Colorado Humanities—an organization dedicated to the humanities and the ways in which the human experience is documented—was very rewarding.

The story follows my protagonist’s challenges, which take place in both the real world and an alternate world. I think this last bit of the back-cover copy sums up the plot pretty well. “July is willing to do anything to end his world-hopping, right up until he learns the price: reliving a past he’s tried his whole life to forget. He’s not sure his sanity can take it. Not even to get back to his own world, a woman he’s falling in love with, and a life he finally cares about.”

Kaye: While Gods Sleep won the 2019 Colorado Book Award for science fiction/fantasy. Where did you get the idea for this story?

While Gods Sleep.ColterLiz: As to the origin of this, I’ve loved mythology ever since discovering a fascination with ancient religions and cultural myths in high school. Greek mythology was my first passion, and it seemed the natural place to start when I decided to write a set of fantasy novels based on different mythologies. It was great fun to finally write a book rooted in the Greek myths I love, but better still was getting to play with them in completely unique and original ways that were entirely my own creation. It was a goal of mine from the start to avoid the more common tropes and to take this in unexpected directions, beginning with setting it in an alternative 1958 Athens ruled by conjoined queens. From there, I threw a mortal man into the eerie underworld of Erebus where he becomes entwined with sleeping gods, the factions that seek to control them, and an enemy powerful enough to destroy them all.

Kaye: Your latest release from Wordfire Press is The Halfblood War. What can you tell us about that book and the inspiration for it?

The Halfblood War.ColterLiz: These days I read widely across speculative fiction genres, but I grew up reading epic fantasy almost exclusively. Those books shaped my love of reading and were a huge part of my life. I enjoy the current directions epic fantasy is taking, but it was very fulfilling for me to get to write my own traditional epic fantasy and mold it into something unique and, hopefully, compelling. This novel took me longer to complete, by far, than my others. It was a true labor of love and I’m grateful to Wordfire Press for acquiring and publishing it. The premise revolves around Tirren, heir to the ruler of Thiery, who is raising his half-Elven bastard son in a land that hates and fears the Elves. It’s a stand-alone novel, written with an adult audience in mind, and weaves themes of prejudice and acceptance with love and betrayal, capricious and dangerous elves, and epic battles.

Kaye: What do you consider to be your biggest writing accomplishment to date?

Liz: I have to laugh, because my answer is always the same: my latest project, whatever that may be. Right now, that would be an unpublished novelette and my work-in-progress novel.

Kaye: In my review of the Undercurrents anthology, I refer to your story, “Songs to Sing and Stories to Tell”, saying that it explores saying good-bye. Can you tell me about this story from the author’s point of view? Did I get it right?

Liz: Yes, absolutely, I see that story as being about letting go, or as you put it, saying goodbye. Not my protagonist letting go of her past or her memories or her love, but trusting her instincts to let go of fear of change and false security and to embrace the unknown. That said, though, once a writer publishes their work, it belongs more to the reader than the author so different readers might see different themes.

Kaye: Which type of writing do you prefer, short fiction or novels? Why?

Liz: I enjoy both. There’s a lot of reward in completing and polishing short stories more quickly (faster for me, anyway) and getting them out in the world. If writing is going to be a career, though, conventional wisdom says it’s going to be based on producing novels. I’m not a fast writer—if I manage one book a year I’m doing well—so it’s a huge commitment for me to start a new book, but there’s also the fulfilment of really delving into story and character and the pleasure of wrapping up multiple storylines in a satisfying way.

Kaye: What is the strangest inspiration for a story you’ve ever had?

Liz: That might be my short story that won the Writers of the Future contest, “The Clouds in Her Eyes.” I had no notion what I was going to write when I began and went to my odds and ends file, where I toss all my passing and partial story ideas. I was trying to choose between three different prompts: a title idea (The Clouds in Her Eyes), an image of an old windmill on a dry and barren farm, and an image of a ship’s wooden figurehead. When I challenged myself to combine all three, the story was born.

Kaye: Are you a plotter or a pantser? Why?

Liz: I have to side with the pantsers on this. That said, though, I don’t really see pantsing and plotting as black and white options, but as a continuum. People who outline in the thousands of words still have to let go of the outline at some point and wing it. Likewise, most pantsers have some level of plotting going on, even if it’s at a scene-by-scene level as they get there. For me, I usually start with atmosphere (dark, humorous, gothic, whatever), an idea of the main character, sometimes a theme, and then an opening scene. While all that’s coalescing in my head, I usually get a sense of the ending, which gives me a rudimentary arc. At that point I start writing and figure the rest out as I go.

Kaye: What do you think is the single most important element in a story?

Liz: Wow, that’s a tough one. Tomorrow I might have a different answer, but today I’m going to say detail. Not excessive detail, but those sharp, specific details that bring stories to life. The level of detail in a story enhances so many other elements: character, setting, emotion, pretty much everything except plot. And a good plot, poorly told doesn’t make for a good story. Evocative writing is what engages me as a reader.

Kaye: What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Liz: A local author was kind enough to read an early draft of the first novel I wrote (the epic fantasy). She gave encouragement but advised me to seek out workshop opportunities to get detailed feedback for the many things I now realize were very novice mistakes. It was hands down due to her advice that I started on the right road to becoming a professional author. I followed her advice and joined a 10-week online workshop led by a well-published author. I’ve been a part of critique groups in one form or another almost constantly since that time, as well as attending conferences and workshops when possible, especially during my early years of writing.

Kaye: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Liz: Don’t write in a vacuum. Along the same lines as the advice I was given when starting out, I feel it’s hard to be objective about what you’re writing without some external input and feedback. Find fellow writers who are genuinely invested in helping to improve your work and, hopefully, at least some who are further along the career path than yourself. We know how we intend our work to read, but without a sounding board, it can be difficult to know if we’re succeeding.

Kaye: As a fantasy writer, what kind of research do you find yourself doing for your stories?

Liz: As a reader, I’m a huge stickler for logistics so it’s very important to me in my writing that I get details right in my own books. Not just big things, like avoiding plot holes, but small details, too. You never know what expertise your readers might have and, as a reader, I hate having my suspension of disbelief suddenly ruined in the middle of a story by a detail that’s blatantly wrong. So, yes, I get lost down research rabbit holes all the time. I research online mostly, but I’ve been known to read multiple textbooks for a novel as well as reaching out in person to experts or sensitivity readers.

Kaye: What can your readers look forward to in the near future? What are you working on now?

Liz: My current work in progress from L. D. Colter is the next in my mythology-based novels, this one centered around Slavic paganism. It’s a contemporary fantasy (working title: When the Winds Sing) set in far Northern California, near where I lived for 12 years. There are many wonderful settings and inspirations in that area, and I’m looking forward to playing with them all. The book is about 1/3 written and I hope to have the first draft completed before too long.

I hope, in time, to get back to an epic fantasy set I started and set aside some time ago. I had other projects needing attention, but it’s well started and has a concept and characters I still love.


Liz has followed her heart through a wide variety of careers including draft-horse farmer, field paramedic, Outward Bound instructor, athletic trainer, and roller-skating waitress, among other curious choices. She is a two-time Colorado Book Award winner in Science Fiction/Fantasy, a Writers of the Future winner, and her short stories have been published in a wide variety of magazines and anthologies. She writes contemporary and dark fantasy as L. D. Colter and epic fantasy as L. Deni Colter.


I want to thank Liz Colter for joining me here today and sharing so much about writing in the fantasy genre. You can learn more about Liz and her books on her website or her Amazon Author page. Join me next month, as we celebrate Superheroes and Supervillains, and my “Chatting with the Pros” author guest will be fantasy and science fiction author Kevin J. Anderson.


You can catch the monthly segment “Chatting with the Pros” on the third Monday of every month in 2019, or you can be sure not to any of the great content on Writing to be Read by signing up by email or following on WordPress. Please share content you find interesting or useful.


Meet children’s author and poet, Victoria Zigler and a book review

thumbnail_Treasuring Poetry

Treasuring Poetry

Today, I have talented children’s author and poet, Victoria (Tori) Zigler, visiting Writing to be Read to tell us about her favourite poem and poet.

What is your favourite poem?

As I’ve often said, I always struggle with picking favourites, and the fact my favourites will generally change depending on my mood doesn’t help. My three favourite poets are Robert Frost, William Wordsworth, and Dylan Thomas, with Emily Dickenson and Edward Leer right behind them – the latter especially when I want something light-hearted. But as for a favourite poem… Now, that’s a little more difficult. Like I said, that changes constantly. However, this poem by Emily Dickenson entitled “There Is No Frigate Like A Book” is definitely among my favourites:

“There is no Frigate like a Book

To take us Lands away,

Nor any Coursers like a Page

Of prancing Poetry –

This Traverse may the poorest take

Without oppress of Toll –

How frugal is the Chariot

That bears a Human soul.”

This is a beautiful poem, Tori. A great choice.

What is your interpretation of this poem?

Something I learned quickly as a child, and know all too well now: a book can take you to all sorts of places, both real and imagined, without you having to leave home. The kind of traveling even those without much money can afford, and even those with ill health can manage without too much difficulty, and that’s a wonderful thing.

I also read a huge amount as a child, Tori, and it also brought me a huge amount of pleasure. 

What emotions does this poem invoke in you?

Sheer joy, because it reminds me of the hours of pleasure reading has so far given me throughout my life, and makes me think of the many places I’ll get to visit, and worlds I have yet to explore, between the pages of those books still on my to-read list.

I also still derive great pleasure from books and reading. My formats have expanded to include ebooks and audiobooks recently too.

If you could choose to write like any well-known poet, who would it be?

I’ve never really thought about it before. I mean, a couple of times I’ve used the style of someone for inspiration, but mostly I just write my poems, and if the ones in my head are similar in style to those by others, so be it. But if I had to pick someone, I’d probably have to go with Edward Leer, especially since he is someone I’ve consciously mimicked the style of in the past, as demonstrated in my poem “A Pair Of Chinchillas Went To Sea” – which I’m sharing for you below.

“A pair of chinchillas went to sea,

In a boat that was painted bright red.

They took some oats, and plenty of nuts,

And some hay to use as a bed.

 

They sailed away for a month and a day,

To a place where it always snows.

Their only regret was that it was wet

Upon their little toes.”

The above poem can be found among those in my poetry collection, Puppy Poems And Rodent Rhymes – one of a pair of similarly titled pet themed poetry collections, the other being Rodent Rhymes And Pussycat Poems – which was published in 2018, and is available from a variety of online retailers in multiple eBook formats, paperback, and audio. In fact, both titles are available in all those formats, along with the rest of my books.

Thank you for sharing this lovely poem, Tori. I have read this book and you can read my Amazon review here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1YCKVTULTFA4V

What is special to you about this poet’s writing style?

His poems are so fun. They’re great for lifting the mood. The style also lends itself well to writing for children, which is likely a large part of why it appeals to me enough that I consciously mimicked it, since most of my stuff is written with children in mind.

I also enjoy fun poetry, Tori.


Waves of Broken Dreams and Other Poems

What Amazon says

A collection of poems of various styles and lengths, which are about heartache, loss, pain, and broken dreams.

Note: Some of the poems in this book may not be suitable for younger readers.

My review

This is the third poetry book I have read by Victoria Zigler and it is just as beautifully written as the others. This one has a darker theme as it focuses on themes of loss, rejection and broken dreams, as the title suggests.

I have often thought the the best poetry is about sad and emotionally disturbing topics because circumstances and situations that provoke great passion in the poet facilitate the flow of strong words and ideas. Victoria Zigler clearly shares this perspective and says so in one of her upfront poems entitled “When Poets Write Best”. I have extracted the following stanza from that poem:

“I’ll tell you if you want to hear

The reason I think why

Poets write the best when

They feel they want to cry.

The reason is quite simple

And to me it seems right

Writing poems help them heal

And makes their hearts once more light.”

I enjoy Victoria Zigler’s poetry because it is not overly complicated. Her words and messages are straight forward and for me, that makes them much more powerful than verses where I have to look up words and scrabble to understand what the poet meant or intended.

Her love of children and people in general comes through strongly in a lot of her poems. One poem that made a strong impression on me was “Your Penny”. The second stanza of this lovely poem goes as follows:

“There are children everywhere

Who need it more than I

Whole families who’s greatest gift

Is the fact they didn’t die

So, let them have your penny

Show them all your care

Let them know that this year

Somebody is there.”

A lovely book of poetry by a talented poet.

Purchase Waves of Broken Dreams and Other Poems


About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

  • Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
  • Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley;
  • Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre; and
  • Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Goodreads: Robbie Cheadle – Goodreads

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books


Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.

 


Interview with author Alan Dean Foster

 

Alan Dean Foster with Mayotte brown lemur. M’bouzi island, French Comoros. Photo credit to Michael Medford.

Alan Dean Foster with Mayotte brown lemur. M’bouzi island, French Comoros. Photo credit to Michael Medford.

Today my author guest is a multi-genre author who dips into the western and weird western genres on occasion. He’s published over 100 books, including novelizations of several well-known science fiction films, such as Star Wars, Alien, and The Chronicles of Riddick. He’s also credited with the first ever book adaption of an original video game in his novel, Shadowkeep. He’s a New York Times bestselling author and he’s joining me here to share a few tidbits about the weird western genre, writing a novelization of a movie, and his latest book, Mad Amos Malone and other weird western works. Please welcome author Alan Dean Foster to Writing to be Read.

Kaye: The majority of what you write is science fiction or fantasy, so obviously these are your preferred genres, but you have western tales thrown into the mix here and there. What is it that draws you to the western genre?

Alan: For one thing, I have lived the past 40 years in a famous western town: Prescott, Arizona. Virgil Earp was the marshal here. Doc Holiday’s mistress, Big Nose Kate, is buried in one of the local cemeteries. The Palace Saloon, the oldest operating saloon in Arizona (since 1877) is here. And much more. You cannot live in such a place without soaking up some of the historic atmosphere. Also, like most kids of my generation, I grew up watching TV westerns in the ‘50’s. Hop-along Cassiday, The Lone Ranger, and more.  My favorites were the Cisco Kid (“Hey Pancho!…Hey Ceesco!) and Disney’s Zorro.

Mad Amos MaloneKaye: You have a collection of short western stories out that have a strange twist. What is so different about Mad Amos Malone?

Alan: Folks are fascinated by the mountain men who explored the American west. I thought it would be interesting to develop one who acts and lives like your typical mountain man, but who is considerably More Than He Seems. When you like a character but are never sure how he will react in a given situation it adds tension to a story. Think the character of Mike in “Breaking Bad”. Not quite what he seems. Also, in the end, thoroughly bad ass.

Kaye: In 1985 you wrote a novelization of the movie Pale Rider, with Clint Eastwood. How did that come about? Did you get to meet any actors from the movie? Did you consult with the screenwriters during the writing? What was the most difficult thing about doing a novelization?

Pale RiderAlan: Authors of film adaptations rarely get anywhere near a movie set (though I have, on occasion). Certainly I never met or consulted with anyone attached to the movie.

For me, the most difficult thing in doing a novelization is to expand on the characters without contradicting the characterizations in the film itself. That, and remaining true to the spirit and style of the filmmakers while simultaneously injecting a little bit of myself here and there. You always have to be aware.

Straight Outta TombstoneKaye: You have a story in Straight Outta Tombstone. The anthology is listed as fantasy, but its stories have kind of a western twist. Would you talk a little about that book?

Alan: The stories are fantasy with, generally, settings in what is called the American West. I think it would be more accurate to called them westerns with a fantasy twist.  Fantasy or science-fictional takes on actual history are a lot of fun to do, and can often be thought-provoking. Call it the “What if the South had won the Civil War”? trope, only often with more recognizable fantasy elements.

Kaye: What’s the most fun part of writing a western novel or short story? What’s the least fun part?

Alan: Working with actual western history. Many of the Mad Amos stories take place in actual western settings and involve real folks from history. Just with the occasional witch, dragon, Chinese demon, visiting gnomes, etc.

Kaye: What time of day do you prefer to do your writing? Why?

Alan: Mornings, because I’m fresh, and also because I prefer to go to gym in the afternoon. But I will work late if and when necessary. And if an idea hits me, I’ll head for the study no matter what time it is.

Kaye: What is the biggest challenge of being a writer?

Alan: Not getting bored with your own work. And persisting even when you are.

Kaye: What is the one thing in your writing career that is the most unusual or unique thing you’ve done so far?

Alan: I think my historical novel MAORI, which takes place in 19th-century New Zealand. That’s a long way from writing science-fiction or fantasy. Very hard to research such a subject from Prescott in pre-internet days. Might also consider SHADOWKEEP, which was the very first novelization of an original computer game.

Kaye: What do you think is the single most important element in a story?

Alan: Character. If your characters aren’t interesting, then you’ve lost the reader no matter what kind of language, special effects, settings, or action you employ. True of any kind of writing, be it theater, film, prose, even commercials.

Kaye: When did you know you wanted to be an author?

Alan: When I made my first two short story sales, to August Derleth and John W. Campbell. I figured if two giants in the field thought my words worth buying, I might have a shot at doing it full-time.

Kaye: What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Alan: Don’t make your heroes too powerful (Campbell). You can be interested in Superman, but it’s hard to empathize with him. Hence the need to invent kryptonite.

Kaye: Which is your favorite type of writing? Short fiction or novels?

Alan: I enjoy them both, but if pressed I’d have to say short stories. Get the idea down and out fast and dirty. I also very much enjoy writing non-fiction. Essays, movie reviews, history, etc.

Kaye: What is next for Alan Dean Foster? What are you working on now? Any more weird westerns in the future?

Alan: No weird westerns at the moment. Putting together The Complete Mad Amos Malone was a bit of a project in itself.

Forthcoming: April – The Unsettling Stars – original Star Trek novel set in the Kelvin universe.  Later this year: Madrenga – original fantasy novel from Wordfire PressThe Director Should’ve Shot You – non-fiction; a history of my involvement with film novelizations from Centipede Press.

Hopefully next year: Mid-Death and other tales of the Commonwealth – a collection of all the short stories set in the Commonwealth, featuring the never before reprinted Midworld novella “Mid-Death”, from Haffner Press.  Short story “The Treasure of the Lugar Morto” – Analog; no date yet.

Forthcoming at a future date: the completed Commonwealth novel Secretions and the stand-alone SF novel Prodigals.


I want to thank Alan Dean Foster for sharing with us here as we delve into the weird western. It looks like his work is cut out for him for the next couple of years. Obviously, many writing tips and tricks are not restricted to a single genre, but can be applied across them all. You can learn more about Alan and his books on his website or his Amazon Author page.


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Chatting with the Pros: Interview with western author Cherokee Parks

Chatting with the Pros

My author guest today on “Chatting with the Pros” is a seasoned western author who has written many, many western novels and been quite successful. He lives and write by the western creed that he grew up with. He’s a cheerful guy with a good sense of humor. Please welcome Cherokee Parks.

me_book covers


Kaye: You believe in and stand behind some good old fashioned values and live by the code of the west. How do these things come through in your writing?

Cherokee: In every story, the main character does the right thing in every single circumstance. Even when characters like Colton Raines (the Colt’s Justice series) or any of the Creed family (the Creed Novels) are forced to kill large numbers of opponents, it’s done to save others, or to protect they and their family or possessions. They respect women, the law, the nation and all it represents – even in spite of possibly having been on opposite sides during the Civil War. They expect the same from everyone else, and accept no compromise. They always speak the truth, and if they can’t, they keep their mouths shut. They are never afraid to speak their mind, short of intentionally hurting a friend, unless that friend needs a wake-up call. They give both compliments and criticism sparingly, and only when necessary. They never give their word if they can’t keep it. They know that they can’t get along with everyone, so they don’t even try. And they all know how to laugh, mostly at themselves.

Kaye: You have co-authored several books along with other western authors, such as Scott Harris, whom I interviewed last year. What is the most difficult thing about co-authoring a story?

Cherokee: Actually, there have not been any truly co-authored books, only those where credits are given for inserting a foreword. Only once have I ever attempted to co-write a book, but things just didn’t work out. We envisioned completely different events and character development, and never got past the first chapter together. I have, however, had the distinct pleasure of co-writing a good number of songs, and found it very gratifying being able to feed off another person’s input. So would I work with another author to create a book? Honestly, probably not, as I already have a basket full of story ideas, as well as several books already in the works. I don’t know how I’d squeeze in the time to work with another author, although I think the creative juices might get a real boost, depending on how I got along with the co-writer from the beginning.

Kaye: What draws you to the western genre?

Cherokee: Growing up cowboy and around the western lifestyle, it was a natural changeover for me, and what I had always wanted to write. Unfortunately, I was very good at writing mysteries and suspense, and got pigeonholed by my publishers at the time – both saying “Westerns don’t sell.” Well, Westerns DO sell, and I’m enjoying a very happy resurgence of my writing career. It’s easier and far more enjoyable to write about things one knows and loves than to create things someone else wants an author to fantasize about on paper.

Kaye: What time of day do you prefer to do your writing? Why?

Cherokee: Mid-morning until mid-afternoon, while the two grandchildren we’re raising are in school, but I can write just about anytime, anywhere, when the inspiration strikes.

Kaye: Which author, dead or alive, would you love to have lunch with?

Cherokee: I’d love to once again have lunch with Louis L’Amour, as I learned more about my craft from him in a day than I did squirming in a seat during all those college class hours. Although I did study under James A. Michener, and enjoyed his classes, what I learned from him was about styles and research, but little about actually being creative. Michener taught strict adherence to storylines, only diverting if research showed it was necessary, while L’Amour had no idea where a story would go until after it was written, like myself.

Kaye: What’s the most fun part of writing a western novel? What’s the least fun part?

Cherokee: Wow! There are just so many fun parts to creating a western. Finding out where the story goes, and how it ends is a blast, as I never really know when I start out. Imagining how different characters react to situations is also a lot of fun. What’s not fun is having one of your books just sit on the market, not moving, not selling, just sitting there gathering dust. Although really poor reviews are also a knock, often a real punch to the gut… But I’ve learned from those knocks too, as the old commercial told us, “never let ‘em see you sweat…”

Kaye: How do you decide the titles for your books? Where does the title come in the process for you?

Cherokee: That’s difficult to say, really, as sometimes a book is created based on the title, while other titles are taken from a place or event that emerges in the book itself. And there have been times when a title needs to be changed, even after the work is published. Titles are among the hardest parts to creating a story, as a good story can die without a good title to launch and carry it. On the other hand, sometimes a story is soooo good, it doesn’t really matter what it’s called.

Kaye: Would you share the story of your own publishing journey?

Cherokee: How much time do you have? Seriously, I started out my career as an author of mystery and suspense, trying to fit into the most popular publishing mold of the time, mostly as a result of my publishers at the time insisting on my creating such stories. Eventually, I tired of writing what they wanted, and then having stories sell well while the publishers made all the money using “creative bookkeeping” while I received a mere pittance – not even enough to live on.

I stopped having any work published for over fifteen years, giving up completely on the honesty of the publishing business, though I still wrote stories. The difference was, I wrote to please me, not the publisher. One day, while I was writing a particularly interesting story, a friend stopped by, and insisted on reading what I had written up to that point. Now normally, I pretty much discount what family and friends say about something I’ve written, as I believe them to be absolutely biased. But that particular friend was very critical, and if he liked it, well… Not wanting to go the publisher route, I self-published. Epic fail. I’m an author, not a publisher.

So when a small publishing house opened near me, I presented the story to them. They jumped on it, and I became their third signed author. Over the next year, they published four more of my stories, but their management absolutely sucked. Given an opportunity to guide them, I was appointed Executive Director, lasting nearly five years at the job before they were forced to shut down due to IRS problems unrelated to the publishing side of things.

In a way, it was the best thing in the world for me, because I once again had time to write, something I had all but given up on while working with the books of many other authors and wannabes. But now, I had the writing bug again, and needed to find a publisher. After a couple of mistakes, I finally landed with a really good publisher specializing in the western genre (Dusty Saddle Productions), who had a great publicist (Nick Wale at Novel Ideas) under contract. I couldn’t be happier!

Kaye: When did you know you wanted to be an author?

Cherokee: I guess I was about thirteen, when I wrote a short story for an English class assignment. I had a lot of fun writing the story, and when our teacher had me read it to the rest of the class, I was embarrassed, but hooked. That teacher was a friend and understudy to James A. Michener, and gave it to Michener to grade. Michener drew a big star on it, penned a message, “Keep up the good work”, and signed it. Had I not been hooked on writing before that, I was after. I’ve been writing since then, with the two aforementioned lapses, continuing to try to perfect the craft.

Kaye: Do you travel to the places that end up in your books?

Wyoming Cowboys and girls.Cherokee: Yes, absolutely. In fact, I took a clue from L’Amour about knowing the geography and climate I include in my books. As a result, I only write about places I have been, doing my best to remain true to the area. But I also use a bit of artistic license in my stories. For example, in Hard Ride to Cora, set in the Green River basin of Wyoming, I slipped in a cave that doesn’t exist. Sometimes one has to enhance the story with little details that may or may not exist, but I do my best to “keep it real,” even though all I write is fiction.

Kaye: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Cherokee: Never depend on what family and friends say about what you create, as they are completely biased, and 99% of the time they don’t wish to hurt your feelings, or already believe anything you do is great just because you did it. Get outside opinions as your guide. Study the craft of writing, trying to make yourself the best you can be at it. ALWAYS give your work to an editor, as even the very best English teachers make mistakes when they write. But don’t allow the editor to change your style, only to correct your English (except dialogue), your punctuation, and all too often your sentence structure. Just make sure you improve with every attempt, and learn to accept honest criticism for what it is, not for what you want it to be. But above all, NEVER stop writing!

Kaye: Is there anything unique or unusual about your writing process?

Cherokee: Hmmm… Other than I don’t have a clue where a story will go, or where it will end up when it’s finished? I don’t think so, but then again I suppose we each have our little idiosyncrasies when we write, but we’re far too close to the source to know what is “unique” or “unusual” about our process. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

Kaye: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Cherokee: Sleep… eat… Actually, in my younger and healthier years, I enjoyed hunting and fishing, exploring new areas, being around horses and dogs, just generally living the Western lifestyle. But now I’m old and half crippled up, suffering from the ravages of time, so I’ll go with my first two answers. Sleep… eat… But I will add that staying alive is real big on my list of things to do everyday now…

Kaye: As a western writer, what kind of research do you find yourself doing for your stories?

Cherokee: Mostly digging back into my memory banks and photo journals, though I do use a great deal of online research to confirm what I know already or think I know about history, clothing and weapons in use during the era I’m writing in. I have no choice, as my memory isn’t quite what it used to be. Additionally, finding historical documents, maps or writings that detail certain places and events, be they weather events or something of a physical/historical nature, always serve me well, and at times even help with my creativity.

Kaye: If one of your books was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

Cherokee: I suppose that would have to depend on which of my books was chosen… I think they’d all make great movies, but that’s the writer in me thinking I’m that good… For example, it would have to be a middle-aged man to play Jake Laughlin, while it would require a man in his twenties to play Mick Swinney from Hard Ride to Cora, and a very tall man to play Thomas “Tree” Bell in The Trader… Now, if I could chose which book was made into a movie, I would say Hard Ride to Cora, as it was my first full-length western, although the Colt’s Justice series ranks right up there, as does the Creed series and the brand new series, The Trader. But to pick an actor to play the lead in any particular book? I don’t think I’m capable. I’d leave that to the casting people, as that’s their job, and I’ve got my hands full just writing.

Kaye: Would you like to talk briefly about your latest books? (Those you sent covers for.)

Cherokee: Hard Ride to Cora was my first published Western, and will likely always be my favorite as a result. Besides, it’s a really good story involving a host of characters from many different backgrounds, and if I ever get time I’ll be able to write at least another half dozen stories based on those characters.

No_Town_for_OutlawsNo Town for Outlaws actually prompted a prequel (Silver, Gold and Blood in Arizona), and both books have sold consistently – and well – featuring a family of fast guns, including the women, bent on making certain the law is upheld, and good people are given a chance to live free.

Trader_cover_10_14_19My biggest Western hit so far is really a mountain man tale, The Trader, with the second book in the series due out early in March. The Trader sat in the #1 spot on Kindle in the Old West History of the U.S. category for over three weeks, and as of this writing is still at #3.

Kaye: How did you chose your pen name, Cherokee Parks?

Cherokee: I guess the easy answer would be—sentimentality. When I was a young teen, my father and I used to deer hunt in an area of Northern Colorado called Cherokee Park. They were some of the best times I had as a young man, and some of the best times spent with my father before he lost his health. So when it came time to create a new pseudonym for my western stories, Cherokee Parks was one of five I started out with. I kept narrowing the list down until only Cherokee Parks remained, mostly to honor the wonderful memories I shared with my father, and of him.

Kaye: Why did you choose to take a pen name?

Cherokee: It was a simple thing. In order to keep the genres separate, as well as multiple publishers back in the day, I used pseudonyms. I decided to continue using pseudonyms when I started writing again for some very personal reasons, primarily using Cherokee Parks to honor my father’s memory.

Kaye: Do you think it helps you sell books?

Cherokee: Yes, frankly, I think a good author’s name can help, depending on whether or not it fits the genre.

Kaye: What are you working on next?

Cherokee: Currently, I’m working on a sequel to No Town for Outlaws, called Death at Devils River, featuring the Creed brothers on a mission to help out an old friend facing disaster from a gang of Mexican banditos. I’m really enjoying it, and hope my readers will as well. Death at Devils River should be out by the end of March or early April.

Kaye: What do your readers have to look forward to in the near future?

Cherokee: Within the next ten days, I should have the second book in The Trader series back from the editor, meaning it will be released within a week of that. The first book in the series is subtitled West to the Stony Mountains, the second book subtitled Of New Life, War and Peace, and a third book already in the planning stages (as much as I ever plan a story!). I stay busy, and have at least a dozen story concepts floating around in my mind at any given time, as well as having anywhere from two to half a dozen at various stages of development or publication.

I have to say, Kaye, this was one of the more fun interviews I’ve had, and I appreciate not being buttonholed with my answers by your providing open-ended questions. Honesty is always the best policy, though not every writer has had the pleasure of enjoying life as much as I have. I’ve lived a hard life at times, but always a good life, even though there were times when I had no idea where my next meal would come from, or where I might be sleeping that night. But by the grace of God and the aid of friends, I made it through the hardest of times, making my current success all the sweeter. Thank you!


I want to thank Cherokee Parks for sharing here on “Chatting with the Pros”. He really came up with some great answers which are somewhat enlightening. It has been wonderful chatting with a seasoned western author, and it instills confidence to know that we share the same publisher. Nick Wale and Dusty Saddle have been great to work with. You can learn more about Cherokee and his books on his Amazon Author page or his Goodreads Author page. Join me next month on “Chatting with the Pros”, when the theme will be fantasy, and my author guest will be L. Deni Colter.


You can catch the monthly segment “Chatting with the Pros” on the third Monday of every month in 2019, or you can be sure not to any of the great content on Writing to be Read by signing up by email or following on WordPress. Please share content you find interesting or useful.


Interview with erotic romance author Jade C. Jamison

Bullet

My author guest today makes her living writing erotic romance under a pen name, and prefers to display the cover of her bestselling novel, Bullet, the first book in her Rock Star Romance series, (see my review of Bullet), rather than an author photo in order to conceal her real identity. (When you like at it that way, authors can be kind of like superheroes, taking assumed identities. You’ve gotta admit that’s pretty cool.) We may not know who she is behind the book cover, but we do know that she’s written over fifty books to date, and when perusing them, one is sure to find one that’s just the preferred temperature, because she writes in them all, from sweet romance to sizzling hot erotica. Please welcome erotic romance author Jade C. Jamison.


Kaye: Why do you write erotic contemporary romance? Would you ever consider writing any other genre? If so, which one?

Jade: It took me forever to puzzle out exactly what genre I wrote.Back in 2013, the term “erotic romance” seemed to most capture what I wrote, but the “E” word is now becoming taboo.(I’m smiling as I write this.)Nowadays, the genre is being called “steamy contemporary romance,” although that may change yet again. But, anyway, I digress. Not only would I consider writing in other genres, I have. Within romance, I’ve written everything from romantic comedy to romantic suspense. Outside romance, I’ve written horror and nonfiction, but under another name, I’ve penned mystery, news writing, instructional pieces, academic literature, and even poetry.

Kaye: Does erotic romance come naturally to you? Why does it appeal to you to write in this genre?

Jade: I don’t know that writing romance comes naturally to me. Ten-plus years ago, I found that, no matter what I wrote, some aspect of romance became part of the story. So even though I have a tale to tell and even though the relationship is the key element in the story, making sure I have all the facets that make a romance satisfying to avid readers of the genre is not always easy, and it’s definitely not organic.

Why it appeals to me?  I haven’t a clue. I’m sure a psychologist would have a heyday with me.

Kaye: What is the most difficult part of writing erotic romance for you? What part is the most fun?

Jade: Sex scenes are, by far, the hardest. They easily become the most tedious part as a reader as well. From some of my conversations with other authors, I don’t believe I’m alone. You want to keep things fresh, so to speak, and non-repetitive while at the same time you want to keep readers emotionally engaged. It’s easy to mess that up in those sorts of scenes—so I put a lot of pressure on myself to write scenes that are emotional and engaging.

The most fun part is when a character surprises me.  I think I know where the story is going and then BAM!  She does something completely unexpected, but I know it’s working and there’s no way I’ll change it.

Kaye: Which of your stories is your favorite? Why?

Jade: Sorry if you’ve heard this from me before, but asking me to choose a favorite story is like asking me to choose a favorite child.That said, I do have some stories that I don’t like as well as others, but my lips are sealed. Some of the stories I like the least are reader favorites.

Kaye: Your sex scenes range in temperature from steamy, to sizzling, to blazing hot. What determines how hot the scenes get in each story?

Jade: Part of it depends on the story itself. In my bestselling book Bullet the sex scenes got hotter as the story moved on. That was one of the ways I let the reader know the main character was maturing. It mostly depends on what I think readers will expect. Am I billing the book as super steamy (like Finger Bang), or am I emphasizing the story itself (like Savage)? But, honestly, I always thought they were all pretty close in steaminess. I guess I’m too close to the forest!

Kaye: Do you prefer to write during the day, or are your stories so hot they can only be written at night?

Jade: I actually do almost all of my writing in the early morning, from about 5:30-6:30 am. It’s the only quiet time I have and I find I’m far more creative when my brain is fresh.

Kaye: You’ve written over fifty books. What is the writing achievement are you most proud of?

Jade: I don’t know that I’ve “achieved” anything as an author, other than sharing my stories with the world.I guess, though, that I’m currently proud of my growth as an author. I’ve really taken a step back in an effort to realize that being prolific isn’t nearly as important as transporting a reader to a different world—so I’m proud of not letting my pride stop me from learning!

Kaye: What is one thing your readers would never guess about you?

Jade: I enjoy playing Pokemon Go.I used to play Pokemon games with my kids when they were little, and now they have me playing this silly game on my phone!!!

Kaye: In 2019, you released books 3 and 4 from your Matchmaker collection. They are described as Reverse Harem Romances on their covers. I can see lots of potential for steamy action there. Would you like to talk a little about this story collection?

Matchmaker series

Jade: I’d taken a couple of marketing courses the year before, compelling me to “write to market”. So, I looked through Amazon’s top 100 contemporary romance books and found that Reverse Harem Romances were dominating at the time. At first, I thought that meant a literal harem, but with a woman surrounded by men. I discovered through my research that that’s not quite what Reverse Harem is all about. I like a challenge, so I decided to go for it. One of the courses I took is by one of the bestselling indie romance authors in the history of Amazon, and she advised writing a series with cliffhanger endings at the end of each book. That was another challenge. So, that’s the nuts and bolts of the series.

The story itself is about Claire, an actress struggling to make it in Hollywood. She tries out for a reality TV show called Matchmaker, hoping that if the right people see her, they might give her a chance as an actress. If nothing else, she’s bound to meet the love of her life. Her suitors are five gorgeous men who’ve been “guaranteed” to be a perfect match, but the audience gets to determine who stays and who goes. And, yes, there’s quite a bit of steam between the covers.

Kaye: I reviewed Heat: Book 1, which was really a short prelude to a larger story that will change the way you think about getting a message forever. But there is more to the story. Would you talk about Heat: The Complete Series?

Complete Heat

Jade: Heat was another challenge I couldn’t say no to.  Several years ago, I was approached by a publishing company in Australia about republishing one of my older series, and I did that with them.  While it never neared the level of success they’d promised, a year later they approached me about something new they were doing, inspired by stories James Patterson had been writing.  The basic premise for the romance stories was that you write a short but intense “intro,” followed by three more books, all following a particular formula—but very hot with cliffhangers at the end of each short book.  I really liked the idea, so I pitched what became Heat.  Unfortunately, it didn’t perform as well as I had hoped, so I took back my rights to it after a year and republished it.  

So what you read in the free first part, Heat: Book One, is the beginnings of a steamy romance between Sergio and Rachel.  Rachel is actually a character from Finger Bang, and I’d been inspired to write a story about her for a long time.  When I was approached by this publishing company, I thought her story might be perfect for the format they’d talked about.  Because it’s shorter and steamier, there’s not as much depth to the characters, but that wasn’t the idea behind the series.  It’s meant to be intense, somewhat shocking, and super steamy.  Fun.  No ugly crying, no heart-wrenching moments.  Just pure, unadulterated fun.  What you read in Heat: Book One is a prelude to the rest of the story.  If you enjoyed the first part, you’ll love the complete story. 

Kaye: What is next for Jade C. Jamison? What can your readers look forward to?

Jade: The biggest problem for me is I have so many things I want and need to write, and so little time.  I literally have over fifty book ideas outlined, but I’m currently working on a project. It’s a series called Small Town Secrets. I’ve taken about thirteen of my books off the shelves, and I’m re-purposing them. In an effort to be an even better writer, I’m rewriting eight of those books, but they are now all interconnected in this series. My review team has read the first one (Love and Lies) and loved it. I’m hoping to release six of those books in 2020.

I also have one book left in the Nicki Sosebee series. Book 12, Wake Up, ended on a cliffhanger, and so I can’t keep my readers waiting for too long. That book is fully plotted and I promise it will be satisfying! I just need to write it. But, I also have several other series I need to finish (Feverish, Codie Snow, Tangled Web), so we’ll see what I can tackle. I would love to write a lot more this year (like I said, fifty ideas and counting!) but I have a lot on my personal plate, so it all depends on how much I can get done in the time I have. I’d cross my fingers, but I can’t type while I do that!

Kaye: (See my review of Tangled Web)


I want to thank Jade for joining me here and sharing today. It has been a real pleasure. I learned a few things about writing erotic romance and hopefully my readers did, too. This interview is the perfect way to finish up February’s erotic romance. And thank all of my readers for reading and commenting on Writing to be Read. I hope you will all saddle up and join me again next month, when we plan to wrangle up the western genre. See you here.


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Meet poet and writer Colleen Chesebro

thumbnail_Treasuring Poetry

Treasuring Poetry

Today, I am delighted to welcome poet, author and blogger Colleen Chesebro to the “Treasuring Poetry” series. The aim of this series is to introduce poets and poetry lovers to each other and to share reviews for some of the lovely poetry books available.

Welcome Colleen!

What is your favorite poem? Include it with your answer

This is a difficult question because I enjoy many kinds of poetry. However, I love the Beat Poets the most. Jack Kerouac and Allan Ginsberg always come to mind, both with their excellent Haiku. However, my favorite poem from Allan Ginsberg is called, “Sunflower Sutra.”

Sunflower Sutra

 BY ALLEN GINSBERG

I walked on the banks of the tincan banana dock and sat down under the huge shade of a Southern Pacific locomotive to look at the sunset over the box house hills and cry.

Jack Kerouac sat beside me on a busted rusty iron pole, companion, we thought the same thoughts of the soul, bleak and blue and sad-eyed, surrounded by the gnarled steel roots of trees of machinery.

The oily water on the river mirrored the red sky, sun sank on top of final Frisco peaks, no fish in that stream, no hermit in those mounts, just ourselves rheumy-eyed and hung-over like old bums on the riverbank, tired and wily.

Look at the Sunflower, he said, there was a dead gray shadow against the sky, big as a man, sitting dry on top of a pile of ancient sawdust—

—I rushed up enchanted—it was my first sunflower, memories of Blake—my visions—Harlem

and Hells of the Eastern rivers, bridges clanking Joes Greasy Sandwiches, dead baby carriages, black treadless tires forgotten and unretreaded, the poem of the riverbank, condoms & pots, steel knives, nothing stainless, only the dank muck and the razor-sharp artifacts passing into the past—

and the gray Sunflower poised against the sunset, crackly bleak and dusty with the smut and smog and smoke of olden locomotives in its eye—

corolla of bleary spikes pushed down and broken like a battered crown, seeds fallen out of its face, soon-to-be-toothless mouth of sunny air, sunrays obliterated on its hairy head like a dried wire spiderweb,

leaves stuck out like arms out of the stem, gestures from the sawdust root, broke pieces of plaster fallen out of the black twigs, a dead fly in its ear,

Unholy battered old thing you were, my sunflower O my soul, I loved you then!

The grime was no man’s grime but death and human locomotives,

all that dress of dust, that veil of darkened railroad skin, that smog of cheek, that eyelid of black mis’ry, that sooty hand or phallus or protuberance of artificial worse-than-dirt—industrial—modern—all that civilization spotting your crazy golden crown—

and those blear thoughts of death and dusty loveless eyes and ends and withered roots below, in the home-pile of sand and sawdust, rubber dollar bills, skin of machinery, the guts and innards of the weeping coughing car, the empty lonely tincans with their rusty tongues alack, what more could I name, the smoked ashes of some cock cigar, the cunts of wheelbarrows and the milky breasts of cars, wornout asses out of chairs & sphincters of dynamos—all these

entangled in your mummied roots—and you there standing before me in the sunset, all your glory in your form!

A perfect beauty of a sunflower! a perfect excellent lovely sunflower existence! a sweet natural eye to the new hip moon, woke up alive and excited grasping in the sunset shadow sunrise golden monthly breeze!

How many flies buzzed round you innocent of your grime, while you cursed the heavens of the railroad and your flower soul?

Poor dead flower? when did you forget you were a flower? when did you look at your skin and decide you were an impotent dirty old locomotive? the ghost of a locomotive? the specter and shade of a once powerful mad American locomotive?

You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a sunflower!

And you Locomotive, you are a locomotive, forget me not!

So I grabbed up the skeleton thick sunflower and stuck it at my side like a scepter,

and deliver my sermon to my soul, and Jack’s soul too, and anyone who’ll listen,

—We’re not our skin of grime, we’re not dread bleak dusty imageless locomotives, we’re golden sunflowers inside, blessed by our own seed & hairy naked accomplishment-bodies growing into mad black formal sunflowers in the sunset, spied on by our own eyes under the shadow of the mad locomotive riverbank sunset Frisco hilly tincan evening sitdown vision.

Berkeley, 1955

Thank you, Colleen, for this introduction to Allan Ginsberg’s poetry, which I have not read before. This is an amazing and meaningful poem.

What is your interpretation of this poem?

This poem was written before I was born, but it is an example of Ginsberg’s view of a desolate America destroyed by the wiles of modern society. Who knew this prophetic poem would mean so much more to me in the twenty-first century?

Ginsberg’s poetry often railed against societal norms. As a Jew, and a gay man, he experienced a different world than most of us in America. What made this poem different from some of his other work, was at the end, he offered a glimmer of hope.

I also love that he titled the poem a Sutra, which is a Buddhist literature form that uses a string of aphorisms (tersely phrased statements of a truth or opinion; an adage). miriamwebster.com

The imagery of the sunflower suggests that America has been battered out of recognition but has the ability to become beautiful again. Ginsberg gives a political commentary on America’s core values: the freedom of expression, and the ability of the people to share in forward thinking political and social thought. I can’t help but wonder what he would say about today’s political climate?

In this poem, Ginsberg refers to “…memories of Blake.” Here he is talking about William Blake, one the leading poets from the Romantic era. Ginsberg rejected the ugliness of the modern world in all of its industrial glory. This is his way of wishing we were back in the Romantic era before industry destroyed the natural beauty of our land. The last part of the poem is where he compares Americans to “golden sunflowers,” encouraging us all to find and embrace our own beauty in this world.

The poem doesn’t contain beats or syllables. Instead, it moves with the rhythm of our breath. Ginsberg loved spoken poetry. The short stanzas, like a Haiku, share a moment of enlightenment or truth making this poem a classic Sutra.

This interpretation of the poem is fascinating, Colleen.

What emotions does this poem invoke in you?

 This poem inspires me to take poetic action to help spread the word of hope through my own poetry. Like the “crackly bleak and dusty with the smut and smog and smoke of olden locomotives in its eye sunflower,”(Ginsberg’s Sunflower Sutra) we have to look beneath the ugliness to find the beauty in the world. Once we find that beauty, we should share it through poetic expression.

Sharing beauty through poetry is a wonderful goal, Colleen.

If you could choose to write like any well-known poet, who would it be?

 Ginsberg wrote some pretty raw stuff, (Howl, is long and contains profanity) but I can’t dispute the genius of his word combinations, imagery, or unconventional writing styles.

Raw and unconventional writing styles make a big impression on the reader. 

What is special to you about this poet’s writing style?

I wrote a term paper about Ginsberg in college because he also liked writing Haiku and Senryu, although his poems are found by searching for Haiku. In fact, he was one of the first to write Haiku in a single line and not in the 5/7/5 format of the traditional Haiku in English that was popular at the time. He argued that with the differences between Japanese and English that particular form wasn’t important for English Haiku. I’m sure this was another reason why academic poets use the 3/5/3 or 2/3/2 format for Haiku in English.

Most of all, his words always speak to me. Listen to the specific patterns of speech he uses in his poetry. He bares it all and says it all, in a style that shouts freedom of expression. He defied traditional academic disciplines and wrote the way he wanted to. That’s pure creativity!

I agree, Colleen, and I take my hat off to his innovation and imagination.

Find Colleen Chesebro

Speculative Fiction Novelist, Prose Metrist, Word Witch

Amazon US Author Page Amazon UK Author Page Twitter MeWe

Fairies, Myths, & Magic: A Summer Celebration

What Amazon says

Step into a world where fairies, dragons, and other magical beings converge in a collection of poetry and short stories inspired by the celebration of Litha, the Summer Solstice.

Meet Drac, a dragon cursed by his own poisonous deeds, and two pixies who help an old man remember a lost love. You’ll meet a pair of fairies with a sense of humor, and a young girl who fulfills her destiny after being struck by lightning. Learn what happens when a modern witch’s spell goes terribly wrong. Meet the Sisters of the Fey, a group of Slavic Witches who sign a pact with the Rusalki Fey to preserve their magic for the good of all.

Atmospheric and haunting, the prose and poetry, will rewrite the mythologies of the past bringing them into the future.

My review

This book includes a delightful array of short stories and poems with fairies, myths and magic as the central themes that link them all. The author provides an interesting introduction to fairies and shares her own personal thoughts and ideas about this subject. There is also an intriguing overview of myths and how they originated.

The poetry takes numerous shapes and forms and there are tankas, haibuns, double tankas, cinquains and freestyle poems all of which contribute into making this book an interesting reading adventure.

My favourite story was The Leaving – A Story of Supernatural Magic which features the elderly Miss Pensie Taylor as the main character. Miss Pensie has lived in her house in the same town all her life and is a well know character to the older residents. Her house overlooks a swamp and a graveyard and she has an intimate knowledge of the inmates of the graveyard as her father was the caretaker when she was a child. Miss Pensie is a brave soul with a gift that enables her to see the spirits of those long dead.

One evening, during a heavy thunderstorm, Miss Pensie notices something unusual about the graveyard and goes out to investigate after the rain has abated. She has an interesting experience alone in the darkness.

My favourite poem in this collection is titled The magical Tree and my favourite stanza is the following:

“In Autumn –

the Lady shows us her splendor

whose bright orange leaves herald

the darkness of another winter slumber.”

If you enjoy poetry and have an interest in myths, magic and fairies, you will love this beautiful collection.

Purchase Fairies, Myths, & Magic: A Summer Celebration

About Robbie Cheadle

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Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

  • Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
  • Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley;
  • Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre; and
  • Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Goodreads: Robbie Cheadle – Goodreads

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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Chatting with the Pros: Interview with contemporary romance author Amy Cecil

Chatting with the Pros

My author guest this month on “Chatting with the Pros” is a talented romance author of both historical and contemporary romance novels. Her Knights of Silence MC series tells the story of the sometimes violent and brutal world of motorcycle club life with characters who feel very human and vulnerable at times. The series is a tale of love and loyalty, and yes, there’s some tastefully written, but quite erotic sex scenes. (You can see my review of Sainte, the last book in the MC series.)  I also had the pleasure of  reviewing Ripper, which was one of the most cleverly crafted romances I’ve ever read. To turn a Jack the Ripper tale into an erotic romance takes some talent. Erotic romance author Amy Cecil did with a well crafted hand. I’m so pleased to be able to chat with her today. Please join me in welcoming her.


Amy Cecil - Erotic Romance Author

Kaye: Why do you write in the romance genre?  Why not science fiction, or fantasy or mystery?

Amy: I initially chose romance because that is what I have always read. I do not read science fiction and doubt that I could even write in that genre. As I wrote more books, I have intertwined other genres into them such as fantasy, romantic suspense and ever mystery. So even though I started with romance, I’ve always been open to other genres that interest me.

Kaye: What is the most difficult part of writing romance for you?  What is the most fun?

Amy: I would have to say the most difficult thing with romance for me is finding a relationship scenario that isn’t over saturated in the market. For all of us romance readers, we are always looking for something fresh. We want that happily ever after, but finding the angst to get to that point can be difficult.

And, the most fun part of romance for me is the banter between the couples. I love to bring snarky attitudes together and have a battle of the wits, so to speak.

Kaye: Your Knights of Silence MC series chronicles a motorcycle club over the course of several years.  As you read the series you get better acquainted with each of the members, which have well developed backstories that make the whole of the story seem very real and believable.  What drew you to these stories with these characters?

Amy: That’s a great question. And actually pretty funny how the series got to where it is now.  When I started, my focus was on Ice and Emma, childhood sweethearts that great apart who found each other again. It was gonna be one book.  When I got to about half way through the book, my PA at the time suggested that I release it, even though it has this huge cliffy. So I did, which then created book 2. That was supposed to be the end. But as I was writing these characters and their story lines grew, I realized I had more to say.  Never in a million years at the beginning did I think that Honey would be such a pivotal character in the series to warrant he own book. So the draw was Ice and Emma and the continuing development came with each book released from my mind.

Kaye: You recently released the last book in the Knights of Silence MC series, Sainte.  Can you talk a little about Sainte’s part of the Story?  Why was he chosen for the central focus character in the final book?

Amy: When the series started to lean toward Honey, I realized that male character that I had intended for her was completely wrong for her. She needed a saint, literally to save her from herself. And while Hawk was the most beloved character in the series, he did not have the mental strength to get Honey through.  And I just couldn’t let him sit around and watch her with another man. So, Hawk had to die and make room for Sainte. Sainte is a former mafia hit man who knew Ice when he was a kid. He is Emma’s cousin, which she didn’t know about. So he had a reason to stay with the MC from the beginning.  When he met Honey, he realizes quickly, she is the woman for him and he decides to stay and leave the mafia world. (Not that it is all that different. LOL). Sainte brings the story full circle, bringing the club the peace it has been wanting for a long time.

Kaye: As I mention in my review of Sainte, your characters are well developed with rich, believable backstories.  Where do you draw your characters?  How do you create with their stories?

Amy: As noted in questions 3 and 4 above, their stories come to me as I write them. I keep referring back to Honey, but she is a perfect example. When the series started, she was nothing, but the jealous ex-girlfriend. By the time we get to the third book, her story line develops and the reader sees she is the most complex character in the whole series.  She’s a recovering coke addict, struggling with her addiction every day. She wants love so bad she can taste it, but is terrified to grab the bull by the horns and take it when it’s offered to her. As the story grows, my characters grow and develop stories of their own.

Kaye: Although the series focuses on the male members, their “old ladies” play important roles as well, offering an abundance of strong, if flawed, female characters.  Why do the ladies play such an important role within the framework of your stories?

Amy: Well, you know the old saying, “there is a strong woman behind every man.” I wanted my female characters to be as strong as their male counterparts. Because these women are connected to the MC, they are surrounded by violence. They have to be strong to survive. Emma comes to the MC in ICE a very naïve young woman. By the end, she gives new meaning to the term “old lady” and could definitely have a patch of her own.

Kaye: Who is your favorite MC Character and why?

Amy: At first, I would have to say Caden/ICE all the way. And don’t get me wrong, I love him because he is the heart of the MC. He’s strong and protective and the kind of guy that when he holds you in his arms you feel safe. But then, Sainte came along. Sainte is everything that Ice is, but Sainte has that snarky personality that I love. He’s not afraid to tell it like it is and if he’s hated for it, he will just smile and walk away. Yes, definitely Sainte.

Kaye: The MC world is often dangerous and violent.  As a result, throughout the series several characters have had to die.  Is it difficult for you to kill off your darlings? Who was the hardest for you?

Amy: Several minor or past characters have died and frankly, I didn’t even bat an eye. When the realization hit me that I had to kill Hawk, that one was difficult. He was a major player in the story line and very much loved character by my readers. And believe me, I thought of several ways to keep him, but I just couldn’t get it to work with how I wanted the story to go. So he died. It was hard, but it would have been so much harder to kill Ice or Sainte, or even one of the girls.

Kaye: You also write historical romance.  Are those stories a bit tamer than you contemporary romances?

Amy: Yes, definitely.  My historical romances are Jane Austen FanFic and I think the hard core Jane Austen fans would have heart attacks if I made them as steamy as my contemporary romances.

Kaye: Your erotic scenes are done tastefully and in context for the story, yet you turn up the heat just enough to make them sizzle. How do you know how far to take your sex scenes?  How hot is too hot?

Amy: That’s an easy question. I think about what I like to read and go from there. I have read several books where every other page is a sex scene and that is just ridiculous. Many authors think sex is what sells your book, but I disagree. Readers want a story that they can sink their teeth into. They want to relate to their characters and that is really hard to do if they are screwing like bunnies the entire time.

I also believe that you want to leave the reader wanting for more in a particular scene. We all have an imagination and I believe that sometimes it is best to let the readers mind take over and make the sex in the book what they want.

Kaye: You are finished with the Knights of Silence.  What is next for Amy Cecil?  Is there a new series in the works?

Amy: Currently, I am working on a sequel to On Stranger Prides, which is a Pride and Prejudice variation titled On Familiar Prides. After that, I have a short story I wrote last year in an anthology about a WWI spy that I would like to develop into a full-length novel. As far as the Knights series goes, I definitely plan to expand on it. I currently have one spin-off series published, the Enemy Duet, but I also see others as well as a next generation series. I know for a fact, I can not stay away from my biker boys for very long, so definitely expect more in the future. I’m also working on making all my books available on audio, so that has kept me pretty busy as well.

Kaye: You are an award winning romance author.  What do you feel is your biggest writing accomplishment to date?

Amy: Wow, you really save the toughest for last. I always thought that my writing was measured by the number of reviews, or the awards won, or even that pretty “bestseller” orange banner you get from Amazon. And yes, I have lots of reviews, awards and have had a couple orange banners and I am thankful for every one of them. But when I really think about accomplishments in my writing, none of these apply. Sure, they are great and all, but what I am most proud of is my readers. And it’s not just because they read my books, but because of the people and the friendships I have developed with them. I have met some amazing people through this journey and I can say, it’s not the awards, or the reviews or the “bestseller” banners that keep me writing, it’s the readers.


I want to thank Amy for taking the time to share today on Writing to be Read.  Romance comes in many different shapes and sizes. In her Knights of Silence MC series, it comes in the form of big, tough bikers and their girls. Her characters are well developed and feel very realistic and relate-able so readers come to care about them, and her sex scenes have just the right amount of heat to make them erotic, but not feel over the top. It has been a pleasure chatting with her here and getting a glimpse into the workings of contemporary erotic romance series. Join us next month, when the theme will be the western genre and my “Chatting with the Pros” author guest will be Cherokee Parks.


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Interview with erotic romance author Nicky F. Grant

Nicky F. Grant

My author guest today is a woman who knows who she is and what she wants out of life, and she goes after it with gusto. She writes sizzling hot erotic romance about love, sex, power and control. In 2019, she received a Stiletto Award in the erotic/BDSM category, from the Contemporary Romance Writers of America for her first novel, Beyond the Masks. She loves life and she loves what she does. It is my pleasure to have her with us today. Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Nicky F. Grant.

Kaye: Can you tell us briefly about your own author’s journey?

Nicky: It happened by accident, actually. I was (and still am) a huge reader of romance. I’d devour an erotic romance book every two days and it got to a point where they became the same. Different character names, but the similar formula. My husband and I were kicking back with a few drinks and came up with a plot idea for Beyond the Masks. One where it focused on a strong CEO heroine and her professional and personal challenges with two alpha men. An angsty, love triangle. It was supposed to be something to tinker with, but I soon found myself swept up in the story. Now, I can’t get enough.

Kaye: Why do you write in the romance genre? What draws you to the power world of your Beyond Surrender Romance series?

Nicky: Erotic romance seems to have a bad rap in the “real world”, unfortunately. And some books with BDSM can come off a little over the top, in my opinion. Fun to read, but unrealistic.

My passion for this genre comes from a deep understanding of the emotional connections to love, sex, and BDSM. My goal is show each reader that there’s a profound connection between these things well beyond floggers and obedience that’s usually present in these books. BDSM exists in my world of Beyond Surrender, but as a “third character” between the heroes and heroines. It’s catalyst to spark their inner desires and understand why it’s okay to feel what they do.

Also, I want my readers to relate to my powerful female characters. I try to lift up women in all capacities and having fun in the bedroom while owning one’s sexual prowess is one of them.

Kaye: What is the biggest challenge to writing romance for you? What is your favorite part?

Nicky: A huge challenge is starting a new book. It takes me time to let go of past characters after I’ve written their Happily Ever After. Also, my confidence wavers with the thought of a new story. What if I don’t do it justice? What if readers don’t understand my twisted brain? It’s nerve-wracking!

On the flip side, my favorite part comes about halfway through writing a new book. It’s the moment where I truly understand the characters, their bond, emotional limits, chemistry, pasts, and futures. This does cause a whole re-write of the first half of the book, but it’s my process and I’m learning to embrace that!

Kaye: Your romance novels are about power “in the boardroom and the bedroom” and they contain erotic sex scenes. How do you know how high to turn up the heat?

Nicky: I’m chuckling at this question, because I’m a touch embarrassed. Man, I love a good “peel the paint of the wall” sexy scene! My scenes are explicit, which I still can’t believe my mother has read. Anyway, I let the characters tell me how high the heat should be. Usually, it’s scorching, but sometimes I may “fade to black”.

As the author, I’m very aware that each love scene must serve a purpose. It must bring the Hero and Heroine closer together or cause a ripple in the love story. Trust me, I’ve had to cut out scenes that lacked in moving the plot forward. It hurts to cut those darlings… but my duty as an erotic romance author, is to help the story along. I hate to admit it, but I get exhausted with my characters falling all over each other. 😉

Kaye: How do you develop a female character who is strong and confident, but still make her feel human?

Nicky: Great question. I take from my own experiences and that of other strong women in my life. I feel fortunate to be a woman with strong views in business, life, and sex. But the true beauty reveals itself when I embrace my own vulnerability.

My heroines are a reflection of that. For example, Shane Vaughn in Beyond the Masks is a female CEO in the music industry. Even though she’s challenged by the men in the field, she’s still vulnerable. She’s open and honest with her past flame, current lover, friends, and family. Somehow, she’s not jaded by keeping up a tough exterior. She’s human with real emotions. I strive to be her in ways, maybe that’s why her story found me. Swoon….

Kaye: In 2019, Beyond The Masks was a finalist for the Contemporary Romance Writers of America‘s Stiletto award in the erotic/BDSM category. Tell us a little about book 1 in the Beyond Surrender series and what receiving such a prestigious award means to you?

Nicky: I was with an author friend when I got the email. There was a shriek, a smile, and tears. Later, I did accept the Stiletto for best erotic romance in New York City. Dreamy, right?

I was incredibly moved to have experienced this among my incredibly talented peers. Especially when I pretty much drop-kicked my entry on the last day to enter! I never thought I stood a chance. That evening put my dreams into reality.

Kaye: What techniques do you use to draw your readers into the story and immerse them in it?

Nicky: Not sure if I have any specific techniques…but I’m attracted to angst, secrets, suspense, and alpha men. So, my stories have elements of these throughout. The one thing I keep on top of mind is, if I’m not enthralled in the story then my readers won’t be.

Kaye: What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

Nicky: Wow, there has been so much! The romance community is incredible when it comes to helping others.  If I were to pass along any wisdom to a new author, I would tell them to find their voice. Don’t compare yourself to every other author on the market and don’t get wrapped up in, “I should be doing what they’re doing!”

Writing is a personal journey. All the voices in our heads (yes, there are voices) are rare and unique. If you write without fear, the muse will find you. And your characters will tell you their story when we listen.

Kaye: What is your favorite part of the story, beginning, middle or end? Why?

Nicky: I love the middle! This is where all the “fun and games” happen! The sexy times are heating up, the characters are falling in lust, and a “romp in the sheets” make for a happy writer. But the middle is where things really start rolling. Secrets are revealed, the antagonist works their evil, and the characters doubt themselves. Also makes for a happy writer…I’m a bit of a sadist when it comes to causing them misery, just to fall in love. It’s a tough job. 😉

Kaye: What is your favorite time of day to write? Why?

Nicky: First thing in the morning. My brain is fresh. Also, anything I’d been working through (tough plot points, etc) have a way of working themselves out as I sleep. I can spring out of bed with a hot cup of joe and tap out some words for an hour or two. It’s a strange meditation for me.

Kaye: What is next for Nicky F. Grant? Are you working on anything now?

Nicky: I have two books lined up this year. Hers to Protect, a part of the Girl Power Romance Collection and Dirty Talker, a book for Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward’s Cocky Hero Club series!

Link to Hers to Protect: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50656136-hers-to-protect

Link for Dirty Talker: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51008222-dirty-talker

Also, Beyond the Masks is coming to audiobook late February/early March! More on that at www.nickyfgrant.com. Readers can also sign up for my VIP newsletter with all the upcoming news on my website.


I want to thank Nicky F. Grant for sharing with us here on Writing to be Read. I love how enthusiastic she is about what she writes. It’s been a fun interview, Nicky, and I really enjoyed having you as my guest. Readers can learn more about Nicky and her books on her Amazon Author page, or at her website, above.


Like this post? Let me know in the comments. You can be sure not to miss any of Writing to be Read’s great content by subscribe to e-mail or following on WordPress. If you found this content helpful or entertaining, please share.Like this post? Let me know in the comments. You can be sure not to miss any of Writing to be Read’s great content by subscribe to e-mail or following on WordPress. If you found this content helpful or entertaining, please share.


Meet poet and writer, Sally Cronin, and a review of her latest book

thumbnail_Treasuring Poetry

Image preview

Today is the start of a new poetry appreciation series here on Writing to be Read where I will be introducing you to a number of wonderful poets in our blogging community, discussing well known poets and their poetry and reviewing poetry books. I hope you will participate in the discussions and enjoy meeting and greeting the poets, both new and known to you, and discovering new books of poetry.

My first guest is accomplished poet and writer, Sally Cronin, of Smorgasbord Blog Magazine blog. Sally has recently published a new book of poetry, 99-word flash fiction and short stories called, Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in words which I have reviewed below. Before we get there, however, Sally is going to share her thoughts about her favourite poem, The Law of the Jungle by Rudyard Kipling. 

Over to Sally

What is your favourite poem?

That is an extremely tough question and had me stumped for a couple of days as I wanted to revisit the poems that I have loved since childhood to make sure that this really would qualify as my favourite poem.

The Law of the Jungle by Rudyard Kipling

(From The Jungle Book)

Now this is the Law of the Jungle — as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back —
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.

Wash daily from nose-tip to tail-tip; drink deeply, but never too deep;
And remember the night is for hunting, and forget not the day is for sleep.
The Jackal may follow the Tiger, but, Cub, when thy whiskers are grown,
Remember the Wolf is a Hunter — go forth and get food of thine own.
Keep peace with Lords of the Jungle — the Tiger, the Panther, and Bear.
And trouble not Hathi the Silent, and mock not the Boar in his lair.
When Pack meets with Pack in the Jungle, and neither will go from the trail,
Lie down till the leaders have spoken — it may be fair words shall prevail.
When ye fight with a Wolf of the Pack, ye must fight him alone and afar,
Lest others take part in the quarrel, and the Pack be diminished by war.
The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge, and where he has made him his home,
Not even the Head Wolf may enter, not even the Council may come.
The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge, but where he has digged it too plain,
The Council shall send him a message, and so he shall change it again.
If ye kill before midnight, be silent, and wake not the woods with your bay,
Lest ye frighten the deer from the crop, and your brothers go empty away.
Ye may kill for yourselves, and your mates, and your cubs as they need, and ye can;
But kill not for pleasure of killing, and seven times never kill Man!
If ye plunder his Kill from a weaker, devour not all in thy pride;
Pack-Right is the right of the meanest; so leave him the head and the hide.
The Kill of the Pack is the meat of the Pack. Ye must eat where it lies;
And no one may carry away of that meat to his lair, or he dies.
The Kill of the Wolf is the meat of the Wolf. He may do what he will;
But, till he has given permission, the Pack may not eat of that Kill.
Cub-Right is the right of the Yearling. From all of his Pack he may claim
Full-gorge when the killer has eaten; and none may refuse him the same.
Lair-Right is the right of the Mother. From all of her year she may claim
One haunch of each kill for her litter, and none may deny her the same.
Cave-Right is the right of the Father — to hunt by himself for his own:
He is freed of all calls to the Pack; he is judged by the Council alone.
Because of his age and his cunning, because of his gripe and his paw,
In all that the Law leaveth open, the word of your Head Wolf is Law.

Now these are the Laws of the Jungle, and many and mighty are they;
But the head and the hoof of the Law and the haunch and the hump is — Obey!

Robbie: This is a wonderful choice of poem, Sally. I also love it. Interestingly enough my favourite poem is also by Rudyard Kipling and I will share it later in this series.

What is your interpretation of this poem?

This is about living in harmony within a society whether it is a wolf pack or amongst a human pack. Having social etiquette and respect for others is essential if all are to avoid conflicts, get enough to eat, be accepted and to thrive.  There is a natural order to things and if you learn that when you are young, when you leave your pack you are well equipped to survive on your own with the skills to begin your own pack. And whilst is sounds draconian, those rules are there to protect the young as well as teach them manners.  It applies to both wolf cubs and man cubs….

Robbie: A wonderful interpretation of this poem and of life in general. I have similar thoughts on how societies can best achieve success and one of my favourite key words in this regard is the need for discipline. 

What emotions does the poem invoke in you?

When I first read the Jungle Book I was too young to really appreciate the undertones in the story about life, survival and the human and animal parallels. But I loved the book and this poem was rich in both words and intent, and when I was ten or eleven and read for the second time, I could see how this philosophy of life in the pack, related to life in a family. It made me feel secure to think of my father as the Head Wolf, and it also made me very protective of my other family members including my younger brother, who probably did not appreciate all the attention I lavished on him as I would like to believe!  It also brings back memories of our time with Sam [Robbie: Sam is a lovely dog who was part of Sally and David’s family for many years before he passed. He has his own book called Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story] as our own small pack and how interestingly he adopted his own social rules of etiquette that run parallel to those in the poem. For example he considered us his alpha male and female and he would not start his own dinner until we were eating our own.  He was very protective of any young family members who visited and also the elderly, sticking close to them. If he spotted something that he considered might be dangerous to us, he would always put himself between us and the threat. Whenever I saw him exhibiting these kinds of behaviour it always bought this poem back to me and made me so proud.

Robbie: Isn’t it wonderful the powerful emotions and associations a poem can invoke in a reader. Sam was a wonderful dog. You can read my review of Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story here: Goodreads review

If you could choose to write like any well-known poet, who would it be?

That is another tough question Robbie as there are many poets who have stirred my emotions and also my imagination. And whilst I would love to be able to write like Rudyard Kipling both in prose and verse, I am always drawn to the young and sometimes short lived war poets. They conveyed the reality of war, stripping it bare of glory but telling a story in a few short lines.  Their legacy is that we never forget those who died, even if we might not always learn the lessons we need to from their passing.

Rupert Brooke for me is one of the finest examples of these poets, and if I could convey the depth of emotion, intent and storytelling in my poetry, I would be very happy indeed.  Whilst The Soldier is the most often quoted poem, certainly at military funerals, it is one of his peacetime poems that always resonates with me especially as I get older and celebrate married life.

Kindliness by Rupert Brooke

When love has changed to kindliness —
Oh, love, our hungry lips, that press
So tight that Time’s an old god’s dream
Nodding in heaven, and whisper stuff
Seven million years were not enough
To think on after, make it seem
Less than the breath of children playing,
A blasphemy scarce worth the saying,
A sorry jest, “When love has grown
To kindliness — to kindliness!” . . .
And yet — the best that either’s known
Will change, and wither, and be less,
At last, than comfort, or its own
Remembrance. And when some caress
Tendered in habit (once a flame
All heaven sang out to) wakes the shame
Unworded, in the steady eyes
We’ll have, — THAT day, what shall we do?
Being so noble, kill the two
Who’ve reached their second-best? Being wise,
Break cleanly off, and get away.
Follow down other windier skies
New lures, alone? Or shall we stay,
Since this is all we’ve known, content
In the lean twilight of such day,
And not remember, not lament?
That time when all is over, and
Hand never flinches, brushing hand;
And blood lies quiet, for all you’re near;
And it’s but spoken words we hear,
Where trumpets sang; when the mere skies
Are stranger and nobler than your eyes;
And flesh is flesh, was flame before;
And infinite hungers leap no more
In the chance swaying of your dress;
And love has changed to kindliness.

Rupert Brooke

Robbie: An amazing poem, Sally, thank you for sharing it with us. The war poets certainly know how to highlight the best and worst life has to offer.

Thank you so much for inviting me over today to share my love of poetry and thank you for your wonderful reviews for my work which keep me motivated.

Robbie: Thank you for your contribution to Treasuring Poetry, Sally. Your thoughts and input are greatly appreciated.

Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in words by Sally Cronin

What Amazon says

Life’s Rich Tapestry is a collection of verse, microfiction and short stories that explore many aspects of our human nature and the wonders of the natural world. Reflections on our earliest beginnings and what is yet to come, with characters as diverse as a French speaking elephant and a cyborg warrior.

Finding the right number of syllables for a Haiku, Tanka, Etheree or Cinquain focuses the mind; as does 99 word microfiction, bringing a different level of intensity to storytelling. You will find stories about the past, the present and the future told in 17 syllables to 2,000 words, all celebrating life.

This book is also recognition of the value to a writer, of being part of a generous and inspiring blogging community, where writing challenges encourage us to explore new styles and genres.

My review

This new book sees author, Sally Cronin, delving into new genres in the form of a variety of styles of poetry and 99-word flash fiction pieces. It also includes a number of her delightful short stories, although those differ from others that I have read by this author as many of them feature an animal as the main character.

The poetry is beautiful and is split into sections, namely, Seasons of the year; All things human; Fairies and other folk; The natural world; Remembrance, Celebrating pets and Random thoughts. The poems included in the sections entitled Season of the year and The natural world largely feature the natural environment, including the various seasons and the different creatures that inhabit it, and makes use of all the senses to wrap the reader in the specific joys and pleasures of the flowers, the light, celebrations, birds and and other natural phenomena including drought, snow and frost.

The poetry sections entitled All things human, Remembrance and Random thoughts as well as some of the flash fiction and short stories utilize the writer’s amazing ability to invoke great emotion from her readers towards her characters and their circumstances and situations, while being easy to relate to and highly believable.

The poems and stories that feature pets and animals showcase the authors love of the animal world and convey the special relationships that frequently develop between people and their pets.

I appreciate the undertone of happiness that is generally present in this authors books and stories. It is a wonderful thing to be able to read a book that makes you feel great emotion and still come out on the other end with the impression that life is a wonderful and great journey. This is definitely a skill that Ms Cronin has and uses to its best advantage in all her books, poems and stories.

Purchase Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in words

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in Words Kindle Edition

About Sally Cronin

I have been a storyteller most of my life (my mother called them fibs!). Poetry, song lyrics and short stories were left behind when work and life intruded, but that all changed in 1996. My first book Size Matters was a health and weight loss book based on my own experiences of losing 70kilo. I have written another twelve books since then on health and also fiction, including four collections of short stories. My latest book is a collection of verse, micro fiction and speculative short stories titled Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in Words

I am an indie author and proud to be one. My greatest pleasure comes from those readers who enjoy my take on health, characters and twisted endings… and of course come back for more.

As a writer I know how important it is to have help in marketing books.. as important as my own promotion is, I believe it is important to support others. I offer a number of FREE promotional opportunities on my blog and linked to my social media. If you are an author who would like to be promoted to a new audience of dedicated readers, please contact me via my blog. All it will cost you is a few minutes of your time. Look forward to hearing from you.

My blog is https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com
And for more information on my books listed here at Amazon please visit
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books/

You can connect with Sally Cronin on the following sites.

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/sgc58
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sally.cronin
LinkedIn: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/sallycronin1
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ie/cronin1423/


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