Interview with author B. Lynn Goodwin

B. Lynn Goodwin

My guest today is an author with a unique story. She’s published three books, two of which are nonfiction, inspired by her own experiences. The third is a work of fiction, so she traverses both realms. In addition she does editing and acts as a writing coach for her fellow authors on her site, Writer Advice. Her book, Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62, which she’s going to tell us about, has recently become a 2018 National Indie Excellence Award finalist. I am pleased to welcome B. Lynn Goodwin to Writing to be Read.

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

Lynn: I began writing seriously while I was also caring for my mother in the last years of her life. It was a great outlet. I also began Writer Advicewww.writeradvice.com, which started as an e-mail newsletter with a mailing list of 35. Sorry this isn’t linear—but life events often overlap.

Since my mother was a private person, I decided not to tell her story. A better option was writing a book to help caregivers journal relieve stress, and You Want Me to Do WHAT?: Journaling for Caregivers was born.

Afterwards, I returned to a book I’d started years earlier, a YA that I renamed Talent. It was incomplete until I gave the protagonist, Sandee Mason, a brother. The pitch became “Sandee Mason wants to find her talent, get her license, and stop living in the shadow of her big brother, who disappeared while serving in Afghanistan.” The publisher, Eternal Press, has changed three times since I signed the contract. While I was doing both of these books I also started running writing contests on Writer Advice and had the pleasure of reading some amazing books from Random House for review.

Richard and LynnKaye: Your most recent book is Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62. This book is your story in memoir. Would you tell us a little about how this book came into being?

Lynn: I knew Richard was special by our second date. Maybe earlier. To find out how I knew, read the book. 😉

I began taking notes early on, because he told me he was looking for a wife before we met, and I thought that if this worked out, or even if it didn’t, the story of a 62-year-old woman who had never been married and a two-time widower she met on Craigslist had to be unique. To find out why, read the book.

Kaye: You recently became a 2018 National Indie Excellence Award finalist for Never Too Late. Did you do anything special to get to that point?

Lynn: Only if you consider entering special. I’ve been looking for indie contests where I thought I might stand a chance. This one looked a bit too big, but I entered it anyway.

Kaye: Writing memoir requires an author to open up and reveal parts of themselves. For many that’s hard to do. What motivates you to share your story with others?

Lynn: I figured if a woman who looked like me and had my level of inexperience could get married at 62 there was hope for everyone. Women needed to know that. Richard read the book before I sent it out, and I put the rest of the world on a back burner.

Kaye: What is it you hope your readers will come away with from Never Too Late?

Lynn: It is never too late to find happiness, especially when you accept what is and is not within your control.

R & Me

Kaye: Your previous works include You Want Me To Do What?: Journaling for Caregivers, and Talent, the story of a young girl who lost her older brother in Afghanistan and is struggling to get out from under the stigma of his death to become her own value. How is Never Too Late different from the other books you’ve written?

Lynn: Every book is different. Never Too Late is a memoir that reads like a novel. The only other novel I’d written was for young adults. The only other book for adults I’d written was about empowering oneself by journaling. Self-help meets how-to, as one reviewer put it.

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

Lynn: Tough question. I’ve played around with telling a story from the pov of a mentally ill woman, and that was both unsettling and intriguing. I’m not mentally ill, but I’ve read about mental illness, and I’m fascinated by all the different ways we see the world.

Kaye: On your site, Writer’s Advice, you give out a lot of advice to fellow writers. What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Lynn: Although I’m not sure what was best, here are the statements I remember well:
1. When free writing, go wherever the writing takes you.
2. Edit later.
3. Go deeper (whatever that means to you).
4. Put your writing in a different font and color and read it out loud or have someone read it to you. It will help you catch the errors you never see.
5. You don’t lose until you quit trying.

Kaye: If writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do?

Lynn: Seriously? I don’t think there’s much I’d change, though if I were famous, I’d make more time for interviews, and if I were rich, I hope I’d give to causes that make the world better.

Kaye: For you, what is the biggest challenge of being a writer?

Lynn: I couldn’t say whether it’s being more open to suggestions or rising above the doubts that plague all of us (except the top 3% and even they may have doubts).

Kaye: What kind of Chinese food do you order all the time?

Lynn: Zucchini chicken or beef broccoli with steamed rice, but we don’t eat Chinese food all the time.

I want to thank Lynn for joining us and sharing with us today. It’s been a pleasure chatting with her. And thank all my readers for joining us, too. If you want to learn more about B. Lynn Goodwin, check her out on Writer Advice or visit her Amazon Author page.

 

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Interview with Independent Author Chele Pedersen Smith

Chele

Our guest today on Writing to be Read is a newly blossoming independent author of two very different books; the first a spy romance and the second a collection of inspirational stories, Chele Pedersen Smith. I recently met Chele through a Facebook book event in which I was lucky enough to win a free copy of her spy romance, Behind Frenemy Lines. After chatting with her, I see many ways in which she and I are kindred spirits, including that she also put off pursuing her passion until our later years, and also in her enthusiasm for the craft and the many creative ideas she has for getting her works into readers’ hands. I’ve enjoyed interviewing her and I hope my readers will enjoy it to as I share it with you.

Kaye: In On Writing, Stephen King talks about how he started his writing career with his brother, printing news on an old printing press, using grape jelly for ink. You have a similar start. Would you share the story of your author’s journey?

Chele: Sure! I’ve been writing since the bicentennial, which sounds really ancient and colonial. Ha-ha. In sixth grade when my best friend Debby and I won the school’s first annual hobby contest with our collaborated mystery booklets. We were totally shocked because a classmate entered her motorcycle and we thought for sure Annette would win. It just goes to show that sometimes the best things are simple and come in small packages!

In junior high, I wrote a teen mystery series my friends loved to read, sometimes before the ink dried on a chapter. I’d fold bunch of unlined white paper and staple it. The plots revolved around protagonist Sherri Whitman and her friend Anna Daine. Anna was more like me, the ordinary girl with ironic luck and Sherri was my alter ego— pretty, more daring and often accomplished what she set out to do. There are 17 books in this series, mostly short booklets until high school when I switched to writing on notebook paper fastened in folders. A bridging symbol between the booklets and the note books is book nine written in a blank journal. Now, that felt like a real book and I think it was the beginning of a serious dream.

With more room to write in the folders and a little maturity, the stories morphed into multiple, more complicated plots. In high school, I took all the writing electives and was on the school paper senior year as well as my first semester of college where I started to major in communications.

One day watching Romancing the Stone, Kathleen Turner’s character was a writer and I noticed she typed her books on a typewriter off the top of her head. I thought, “That is what real writers do!” so I started writing that way too. It was hard to think that way at first, and typewriters did not have the ease computers have today when it came to errors. Now it is second nature to write this way. I still use journals to jot down ideas and I have a separate document on each book called, “Notes for Behind Frenemy Lines,” etc. That way I can cut and paste dialogue if I want to save it for another place, or remind myself what I want to include in the story.

At 21, I tried my first stab at getting published. It was a Sherri manuscript about an amazing mystery that happened to me during my first semester of college. I sent it to a publishing house for young adults and got my first rejection! I was bummed but proceeded to send it to several young adult publishers who said it was too short. So I added other mysteries and back stories from previous Sherri books, but it still got rejected. Only Scholastic gave me detailed criticism and sent me two paperbacks to use as examples. By then I was a newlywed and put it aside to figure out later. I was focused on writing short stories and sending them to Redbook because they use to have contests. I never won but I still have those and other short stories from the 80s, as well as most of the Sherri series.

SherriBooks.jpg

After years of hiatus, I got back into fiction writing the summer of 2013. An idea for a story kept circling my head like a vulture. It would not go away. Characters formed, names were tried on for size. The perfect first hook crafted itself. Finally one morning, I made coffee, opened a Word doc and then typed out that sentence. And just like that I was writing again! The story is called Confessions of a Goody-Goody and is a bit of a struggle at times because it is based on real life juicy events. I thought Goody-Goody would be my first book, but I got stuck halfway through. It got too personal and I didn’t know how to proceed.

In the meantime, I enrolled in college so I set aside. I took creative writing courses and the writing prompts helped me take Goody-Goody to a higher level. Plus I am adding in a lot of fiction, so I do plan to finish it! In fact, a chapter excerpt appears in our latest literary magazine to set my goal in ink!

Kaye: You gave up a promising career in the health care field to become an author. How do you justify that? Any regrets?

Chele: I had quitter’s remorse at first. I rarely give up on something, but after bailing after just one week in the dental hygiene program, I cried hysterically. What had I done? I felt lost. Did I just make the biggest mistake of my life wasting all that hard work, all those sciences, maintaining A’s to get in?( It wasn’t really a waste because exercised brain power and I made a great group of friends my age and we rocked!)

After waffling on other majors, I ended up in communication because it was the closest thing to a writing degree available. (It’s funny, coming full circle from my youth.) The electives included two creative writing classes, which I loved, and two journalism levels.  I lucked out because the spring J2 involved a trip to NYC media writing conference and that was a blast. The good news is, just this the fall, the school branched communications into concentrations and voila–professional writing materialized! It was like the movie Field of Dreams: take writing classes and the degree will come!  So now, I’m there with just four classes left.

At this point, I’m mainly getting the degree to complement my novel writing. I’ve recently received fantastic validation through the English department via several professors and have just won two awards for my writing! So I definitely feel I made the right choice. But as for making moolah, if a job in the field isn’t feasible, I will probably fall back on my pharmacy technician training and write novels in my free time.  I’ve kept up with my pharmacy certification just in case.

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

Chele: The writing is the fun part, compared to formatting paperbacks and self-promoting. But I’d have to say it is a toss-up between finding time to write and my husband giving me a hard time about it. Since he went to the awards night with me, he seems more impressed and realizes it is more than just a hobby.

I mostly write during semester breaks which isn’t very long, unless it is summer. (Although most summers I’ve taken classes, too.) I have all these book ideas and half-finished projects. I’m afraid I’ll lose steam or the muse will leave me before I get them done. And I’m a revision queen so even after I do finish a book, it takes time to patch plot holes, paint in more details, and weed out never-ending typos.

Kaye: What’s something most readers would never guess about you?

Chele: I’m corny and get excited over little things. I never lost my childhood wonder. I love word play so much, maybe I should’ve gone into advertising. The corniness may not come as a surprise to anyonewho reads Behind Frenemy Lines. Lee has some punny lines.

Maybe a more of a shock is that in the 80s, I wanted to be a radio DJ. 1984 was so “outrageous” as Lionel Richie exclaimed at the music awards that year and I remember thinking music would never be as good it was then!  We had Michael Jackson at his peak, Kool and the Gang and Madonna, and the British bands! (Little did I know a guy named Adam Levine would arrive on the scene and swoon me in the 21st century.)

In my late teens, I’d play DJ in my room with my little brother, practice queuing up and spinning records and timing announcements with my stereo. Well, it paid off, because the first year at the college, they had an opening for DJ at the school radio station and I had a stint for about a month. It was fun to live out a brief dream, even though I’m not sure anyone actually listened.

Kaye: You have plans for a sequel to Behind Frenemy Lines, and several other writing projects for 2018. Would you like to tell us a little about what’s in store?

 Chele: I’m working on a romantic comedy novella. I don’t want to give the premise away or the title just yet because it is a unique way to meet a date. When I needed character names, I turned to classic Hollywood starlets so that was fun. I hope to finish it this summer. I already have the cover made to inspire me! By the way, my covers are made by graphic designer Steven Novak. He has the knack of turning my visions into fabulous covers! I also have two other romance novellas started. Maybe I’ll offer them as a tri-pack.

As for the BFL sequel, Galaxy’s heritage has Russian connections and it falls nicely into current events. But I have some comedic moments and surprises up my sleeve too. And of course it will follow the trysts and trusts issue like the first book.

I write off the cuff, so I don’t know what will happen exactly in each work. In that novella, will Viv’s stalking of her crush win him over? Or will it make him mad? I have no idea yet. Maybe the characters will take over and surprise me.  I also plan to revamp and publish the Sherri Whitman series, maybe as a whole unless I lengthen each mystery, and the one that got rejections—Will the Real Green Phantom Please Stand Up— is on my list too! Currently I am compiling the 80s short-stories into a speculative fiction book. So the muse needs to stick around.

Kaye: How did your blog start and what’s it about?

Chele: I have a blog on Goodreads.  I’m still experimenting with to get it just right. I try to keep it about topics related to my books and writing, mainly romance, but have also ventured off into pop culture ponderings. It may just become the life of a writer.

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

Chele: I like the solitude of morning home alone with a cup of coffee and my favorite songs blasting. No one interrupting me except Penny, the golden. I love the night too; it is mysterious and brings out the muse, but it is not usually practical to write then. Except for an odd summer night last year I was not sleepy at all, so I got up to write in the living room. I sat in the dark by the glow of the laptop with a happy golden retriever curled by my side until 4 am! That was when I wrote the last scene of Behind Frenemy Lines—the prologue!

Kaye: If writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do?

Chele: I’d jump for joy and thank God. He gave me this talent and being able to make a living on it would be a pinch- me moment! Then I’d hire a housekeeper because I hate cleaning and clutter. It would be amazing to go a book tour and be a guest on Ellen. Being in the spotlight would feel awkward though. Being a writer, it would be nice to have my name known. But I don’t want to be famous exactly; I’d love for my characters to be. When I got my first review from a Goodreads giveaway and the reader fell in love with Lee, I was ecstatic! It was what I hoped would happen. When reviewers mention Galaxy, I’m thrilled. I made these guys up and now people are getting to know them.

Kaye: In a story we are often asked to create images for the reader that we may not have experienced ourselves. When have you had to do that?

Chele: I write what I know, but I also Google a lot! There is a scene in Behind Frenemy Lines where Lee and Galaxy go to the White House to interview Anita, the communications director, about the threats made. I’ve seen the outside of the White House from a park gate, but have never been inside. So, I scoured virtual tours online and described it from there. After the meeting, the spies go rogue exploring the place, so I had to look up different rooms and recreate the experience the best I could.

I’ve also researched Russian Heirloom furniture, so I could describe some antique pieces in Galaxy’s apartment. Soon after, I received a brochure in the mail about Russian art and heirlooms.  I couldn’t believe it!

Kaye: You’re a mom as well as being an author. What are your secrets for juggling writing with family?

Chele: My kids are grown now—my son is 27 and daughter is 19 — but they were still young when I was writing the spiritual stories. I only wrote sporadically then, mostly holiday newsletters, and I would craft those when they were in bed. When I got back into writing four years ago, my daughter was about to graduate from 8th grade. So it was easier then. I write while she sleeps in. As for writing around a husband, I like my free time during the week when he’s at work.

Kaye: What is the one thing you hope to have taught your children?

Chele: I hope they see I’m accomplishing my life’s dream, and dreams don’t happen by themselves. You have to put the effort in and seek out the opportunities and avenues to get you there. My daughter is an amazing artist and she is going to school for an art degree. I don’t tell her she has to be a doctor or lawyer. Art is good therapy for her. My son is great at math and has a business degree with a math minor. He’s still trying to find his degree job, but in the meantime is advancing in a job he’s had for 10 years. He likes to do creative writing as a tension reliever after work and my daughter just got public praise from her English professor for a creative angle in her final essay. As a writer and mother, that makes me both proud and relieved. I love that they have writing skills but mostly they are doing what they love.

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

Chele: At a Disney resort three years ago, the maintenance crew knocked on the door and were swapping out tree plants. I hadn’t noticed ours and it looked fine when they carted it away, leaving a fresher one in its place. I thought, “how strange.” It seemed suspicious to me, but we were busy and I didn’t think much more about it until we got home. I knew I wanted to work it into a story someday. It happened to fit a scene in BFL, so in it went. What happens in the book  is much more exciting than in real life. Also that summer, we received an automated call from our electric company about a 3 am power outage planned to replace transformers. I thought, wouldn’t that be a perfect cover-up to commit a crime? So it found its way there, too.

Every day events make me suspicious now.

Kaye: Your two published works are very different genres. How do you get from inspirational nonfiction to a romantic thriller? What other genres might be in store for your readers?

Chele: Behind Frenemy Lines, is a tasteful spy romance, and was my first published book in January 2017. Almost a year after I started writing fiction again, my husband was going to Germany for business and I thought it would be fun to test my writing out on him I decided to write a spy scene, since that was what he liked to read— Jack Reacher, Jack Ryan, and all that. I hid it in his suitcase, so well in fact, after two days I had to inquire about it and give hints. He really liked it. I added back stories and a serious case to solve. The challenge was adding politics. I joke that I have political amnesia because I don’t understand it very well and I find it boring. I also wanted something unique since that is the genre he reads, he probably has heard every plot out there. So I came up with a unique premise, but it does veer off in other directions too.

Since he traveled often that year in 2014, I kept writing other suitcase chapters, just for kicks with no intention of publishing. About two-thirds done I knew I wanted it to be my first book. And the more I developed secret agent Lee Clancy, the more I fell in love with him. He’s a gallant gentleman, has confidence but is not arrogant, knows how to romance, but he isn’t perfect. He’s a real guy, flaws and all. He woos his spy partner, Galaxy O’Jordan, but isn’t sure if he wants to kiss her or wring her neck. The feeling is mutual.

Gal is complicated, beautiful, has body image issues and is klutzy like me, which adds light comedy. She is ruthless but vulnerable and has questionable connections with a shady past. I originally made her up in 11th grade journalism class in 1981 for the conclusion to a T.V script, but I added her multi-faceted personality in 2014. I’m not sure where her name came from. I wanted something exotic for her honey-trapping role, but maybe I was influenced by Star Wars or the space shuttle hoopla back then. I still love her name today!

When White House threats dredge up an old presidential cover up, the case careens a crazy corner into la-la land and it’s up to NSA’s Link agency to figure it out.  Enter Galaxy O’Jordan, feminist crusader with a shady past. An agent harboring secrets, she’s sworn off love while mending a broken heart. It’s just her luck when she’s paired with chivalrous hunk Lee Clancy, surveillance specialist!  It’s not long before they’re smitten, despite their best efforts to play it cool.

BFLPGBookpile

The Pearly Gates Phone Company was published in October 2017 and is an uplifting collection of mini-miracles that happened in my life as well as my family and friends. Remember those spiritual shorts I kept submitting to a Christian magazine? I realized I had quite a few stacking up. From there I wrote a bunch more. There are 33 anecdotal snippets to inspire hope, comfort and give a few chuckles. The title is from the main story in the book, about my dad calling a month after he died. This was 2002 but if it happened today, I think we would have a better explanation about technology. Still, it was a goosebumps moment that was so remarkable, I had to write about it soon after it happened. The original was too long and complicated, but it’s had a few revisions since then, 2014 being the most recent. That is when just the right title popped into my head. I knew it would make the perfect title for the book too.

Have you ever been wowed by the wonders of God? Or enchanted by an extraordinary event? This is a book of coincidental moments, those instances that stop you in your tracks, and you know deep inside it could only be explained by heavenly evidence.

Kaye: You have two very unique titles for your books. How do you decide the titles for your books? Where does the title come in the writing process for you?

Chele: Thank you! I love whimsy titles. Sometimes the perfect one just comes to me, even before I start the story, like the novella and Confessions of a Goody-Goody. But for the two books out now, the names did not immediately click until halfway through. Behind Frenemy Lines had the working title Spy Story as I chiseled away on each traveling chapter. Especially since I threw it together a day or two before my husband’s trip. It was just a place holder, really. Then my daughter was having trouble with a friend and we were not sure if this girl was a friend or enemy so I referred to her as a frenemy. With that word in my head, I suddenly had a title—a play on the movie, “Behind Enemy Lines.” And it was perfect since we don’t know which side Galaxy is on.

As for The Pearly Gates Phone Company, during the original writing, I had the title, “A Call from Heaven” and then with a rewrite, other titles like, “Hello from Hippie Heaven” or “A Heavenly Hello” materialized, but did not feel right. I knew I wanted something more fun. Finally, during the last revision, it popped in!

Kaye: What’s your favorite social media site for promotion? Why?

Chele: Facebook seems to be the easiest and I like Instagram. Twitter seems mysterious to me. I’ve tweeted and try to use hashtags, but not sure how effective it is. The self-promoting concept is one of the most challenging parts of being an author.

Kaye: How would you describe yourself in three words?

Chele: Goofy, Creative, Lifetime learner

Kaye: What makes you laugh or cry?

Chele: I’d rather laugh than cry, so I enjoy comedies. There is no shame in crying, but for me personally, it is easier to laugh. Maybe because I “ugly-cry.” There isn’t anything lady-like about it. Everyday moments crack me up. I always say, “Life’s a sitcom.”  And that usually refers to mishaps happening to me.

At orientation a few years ago, they played a little cartoon emphasizing students asking for help to do all they can to pass, rather than use excuses and blame the professor. The cartoon was drawn simply and used computerized, monotone voices, which sounded so funny. I was trying so hard not to burst into a fit and almost left the auditorium, but luckily I was able to keep it under wraps. Good thing, because no one else was laughing. I am easily amused and find if we don’t take life too seriously, we can have a good time.

Sometimes my laughter rolls into crying, especially if I am tired or needed a good cry and brushed it off. An episode of The Goldbergs had me laughing so hard, I was in tears. My daughter came home and I couldn’t even talk to explain what was going on. I could only point to the TV. In the ep, Barry was trying to make sculptures of his girlfriend, copying a cue from Lionel Richie in his video “Hello.”  His attempts were hideous, and each one was funnier than the last. I just lost it.

As for crying, I am soft-hearted when it comes to children and animals, so I avoid movies with disturbing themes, but sometimes they sneak in a “feel good movie of the year.” I hate that!

I had big crying jags moving here and experiencing my first partially empty nest when my son stayed behind to move in with his dad to finish college. It felt so unnatural.  Another big tears moment was a month later. Losing our old golden retriever, Buster was one of the saddest days I can remember, aside from losing my parents.

I’ve also cried out of sheer happiness, like when my daughter said she wrote about my mom as her favorite relative. I knew she would love to know that!  Or when I was trying to track down a friend and finally got a letter from his mother. That was in the 80s, before internet and Facebook, so it felt like a true miracle.

Thank you for asking me all these wonderful questions.

Thank you Chele, for joining us and sharing today on Writing to be Read. It obvious that you really opened yourself up and spoke from the heart. It has been great to interview you. I hope all my readers will thank you as well, and remember to watch for my review in the near future of Behind Frenemy Lines.  You can find ouot more about Chele and her books here:

Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/chele.pedersensmith.5?lst=1570686027%3A100021726966363%3A1528131001

Facebook group: Chele’s Galaxy

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cpsmithbooks

Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/chelepedersensmith

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16337551.Chele_Pedersen_Smith

 

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Interview with multi-genre author Ashley Fontainne

Ashley Fontainne

I recently had the pleasure of virtually meeting this charming author when I did a review of her thriller, Zero Balance, earlier this month. This woman is an award winning, muti-genre, best selling author with over twenty books on the bestseller lists. Her genres include: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, Coming of Age, Addiction, Romantic Suspense, and Short Stories. She’s an independent author, who founded her own independent press, BSMW, and one of her books has been turned into an independent film. Please help me welcome Ashley Fontainne to Writing to be Read.

Kaye: You brand yourself “The Dark Southern Belle” on your website. Where does this title come from?

Ashley: A fan coined the phrase in a review of one of my books. It made me smile. I  knew as soon as I read it that it was the perfect catch phrase.

Kaye: Would you share a little about your own author’s journey with us?

Ashley: It has been a crazy ride! Seven years ago, I had no clue how my life would change when I hit “publish” on Amazon Kindle with my first title. I had no idea what I was doing or getting myself in to, and though the road has been rough at times, wouldn’t change a thing!

Kaye: What’s something most readers would never guess about you?

Ashley: I am a huge crybaby. In fact, I refuse to watch certain movies or read particular genres of books because, despite the subject matter of most of my books, I have a very sensitive side. I still tear up at the end scene of Homeward Bound when Shadow appears on the hill.

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

Ashley: There have been a lot, but the one that stands out the most is for my zombie series. I am a huge fan of the genre and of course, The Walking Dead. I wanted to add a different take on how the zombie apocalypse starts. The rampant abuse of drugs in our society was the perfect fit and the second the two ideas connected, I started writing.

Kaye: You have some really interesting titles. One of my favorites is Fine as Frog Hair. The title makes me want to read it and I haven’t even read the description for the book. How do you decide the titles for your books? Where does the title come in the process for you?

Ashley: Fine as Frog Hair is a saying my grandfather was fond of using when asked, “How are you?” He liked to say, “Why honey, I’m fine as frog hair.” It’s a cute southern expression and since the short story is loosely based off his life, I thought the title fit perfectly. Like the stories, the titles appear out of thin air.

Kaye: You write in multiple genres. What are the differences for you as you write each one?

Ashley: Nothing really. I refuse to pigeonhole my creativity into just one genre. A story is a story no matter the backdrop. A character and/or idea pops into my head and I just let the words flow.

Kaye: You’re an award winning author. Which awards have you been the recipient of?

Ashley: Number Seventy-Five won the Bronze in Fiction/Suspense from Readers’ Favorite. The Lie won Gold from the Illumination Book Awards.

Kaye: Would you tell us about One of a Kind Covers?

Ashley: As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t know a thing about epub, mobi, formatting or cover design when I first jumped into this crazy world. Over the years, I taught myself how to do all of those things out of financial necessity, and in the course of doing so, other authors came to me, asking if I would design a cover for them, which is how One of a Kind Covers came about.

Kaye: You’re the founder of your own independent press, RSMW. Tell us about RSMW.  ; What does RSMW stand for? What’s the story behind it?

Ashley: RMSW Press stands for Rambling Mad Southern Woman, which is also the name of my blog. While learning how to design a website and blog, I was so frustrated I almost gave up. I was complaining about it to my husband and said, “I feel like a rambling mad southern woman,” and poof! There was the title.

Fatal AgreementsKaye: Your latest release is Fatal Agreements, which came out April 23rd. Would you tell us a little about that book?

Ashley: Whispered rumors tickled the ears of the residents of an entire town for decades about the disturbing secrets of the old Halstead House, dating all the way back to the early 1920s. Most people didn’t believe them. Several people will soon discover they should have listened.

Three years after struggling to cope with the death of her beloved father and escaping an abusive relationship, Samantha Chapman decides it’s time to return to her hometown of Hot Springs. She buys the ramshackle Halstead House, eager to transform the dilapidated, abandoned piece of history into her new law office and residence, hoping it will be the start of a brighter chapter and a safe haven to escape her personal demons.

Instead of newfound freedom, things take a dark turn when the resurrection of the old home reveals the disturbing secrets hidden within its walls. When youthful transgressions of numerous people come to light, including ones some members of the Chapman family are desperate to contain, it reveals the sins of the past. They collide with the grave mistakes of the present, creating a perfect storm of chaos and death for not only the Chapman family but others as well.

Some will survive.

Others will get burned.

Sam and her loved ones realize some family secrets should have remained buried.

Kaye: Your book Ruined Wings was turned into an independent film. Can you tell us how that came about? Who wrote the screenplay?

Ashley: I wrote the screenplay along with the Executive Producer, Sabrina Stewart. We have been a tight duo since the first day we connected years ago when she auditioned to narrate Number Seventy-Five. I sent her the book and she loved it. Opioid addiction is a major crisis in our world and we hope through this movie to help stop the plague.

Kaye: What was it like to see your characters come alive on the screen?

Ashley: Life-changing. Humbling. Terrifying!

Kaye: You also have a GoFundMe campaign going to fund the film. Would you like to tell us about it and how readers can contribute?

Ashley: The film will be shared at no cost to educators and organizations to be played at schools, churches, civic meetings and youth organizations where it can target those most vulnerable to fall into the pit of abuse and addiction. Donate  here:  https://www.gofundme.com/independent-film-ruined-wings

Kaye: What is the working title of your next book?

Ashley: Blood Stain

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

Ashley: Edgar Allan Poe.

Kaye: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Ashley: Grow a thick skin. Never give up. Hone your craft. Write from the heart.

I want to thank Ashley Fontainne for joining us here on Writing to be Read. You can learn more about Ashley at the following places:

Website: http://www.ashleyfontainne.com/

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/ashley.fontainne/

Blog: http://ramblingsofamadsouthernwoman.blogspot.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AshleyFontainne
Movie site of Ruined Wingshttps://ruinedwings.com/

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The Perils Of A Writer’s Career: Guest Post by Art Rosch

I’ve known Art Rosch since 2009, when he became a member of a writing site I was administiring called Writers’ World. Although I’ve never met him in person, we’ve been online friends, supporting one another like only authors can ever since.  Art is a great guya da, and a fine photographer, and a damn good writer. You can feel the honesty in his words as you read them, and that’s not something all authors can do. I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing Art’s books, Confessions of an Honest Man, and The Road Has EyesI’ve also had the privilage of featuring an interview with Art in my 2016 series on publishing, as well as having him as a member on my more recent Ask the Authors series in March and April. 

During my Ask the Authors series, I did a segment on Building an Author Platform. As a member of the author panel, Art expressed his frustration with the whole author platform/marketing and promotion thing and wasn’t sure how he could respond to my questions in a useful manner. Art had tried many paths to marketing and promotion, at times investing much money with little returns. He didn’t understand the problem and explained, “I can’t even give away books.”

This is one of the pitfals for today’s authors. We’re writers, not marketers. I think we all have gone through it at one time or another, (or will for new and upcoming authors). It’s easy for writers to become disheartened with the whole promotion process, especially if they’re not seeing results from their efforts. I told him to give me whatever he had. If he couldn’t tell me what had worked, he should tell me what hadn’t worked for him and why. I would take whatever he could offer. His response was a wonderfully told author’s journey that was too lengthy to be included in that segment of Ask the Author, but was worthy to appear on Writing to be Read, none-the-less. So, with that in mind, I give you this Guest Post by Art Rosch:

Art Rosch

I’m the last person to ask about marketing and publishing.  Perhaps my experiences might be cautionary, might enable other writers to consider how they proceed.  I can only offer my history as a writer.  You can call me disillusioned, but that’s actually a positive state.  It’s good to dream but it’s important to temper the dream with reality.  You can get swept down some terrible false paths by unskilled dreaming.  I believe that this mantra, “dreams can come true if you persist” is a shibboleth.  A lot of bullshit.  It takes skill to dream the right dream. It takes skill and practice to execute a dream and bring it to fruition.  Everything else is about karma.  Destiny.

In 1978 I took a chance and sent the manuscript of a short story to agent Scott Meredith.  At the time, Meredith had a branch of his prestigious agency that read unsolicited works for a fee.  We’ve been warned countless times about this flaky practice, but it was, after all, Scott Meredith.  He represented Norman Mailer and Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke and James Michener.  I scratched together my fifty bucks and mailed the 3600 words of my comic science fiction tale about a planet where there are six distinct genders.  It was called Sex And The Triple Znar-Fichi.

Eight weeks after mailing my story I received two envelopes.  One was small and one was large.  The small envelope contained a check for $1800.  The large one contained a two year contract to be represented by Scott Meredith.  The agency had sold my story to Playboy Magazine.

I was thrilled and motivated to write.  I was young, ambitious, and not a little fucked up.  There were problems in my life but everyone has problems.  A writer without problems is hamstrung.  Embrace your problems!  They’re your fuel!

A few months passed.  I was sending my works in progress to my editor at Meredith Agency.  He was doing his job.  He made it clear that my first science fiction novel was a bust and that I should focus on the book that has become The Gods Of The Gift.  Then I received a package from New York.  It contained a clear lucite brick featuring an etched Playboy logo.  It carried the news that my story had won Playboy’s Best Short Story Award.  There was another check for $500 and permission to use Playboy’s expense account to bring myself to New York City to attend the Playboy 25th Anniversary banquet and awards ceremony.

The Playboy Banquet was an amazing experience.  I met Playboy’s fiction editor, I got business cards from the editors at The New Yorker, Penthouse, Esquire.  I was a celebrity for the requisite fifteen minutes.  I was hanging with the big hitters.  My table mates at the dinner were Alex Haley, Saul Bellow and their wives.  I was in!  I had made it!

The Gods of the GiftI brought The Gods Of The Gift to a sort of completion and it went on the market.  And didn’t sell.  The agency kept batting for me but I wasn’t turning out viable material.  I wasn’t writing long form books that would sell.  But I was learning.  Two years went by without a sale, and the agency did not renew my contract.  I went into my personal Dark Night Of The Soul, a period that lasted a long time.  In spite of all the obstacles, I continued to play music and write.

In 1976 I had started work on my autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man.  I was dealing with a paradox: how does one write an autobiographical novel at the age of thirty?  The answer isn’t complicated.  One starts.  And one lives.  Here I am, now, at the age of seventy, sitting on a huge body of work.  When I was contracted to an agent, I couldn’t write to sell. Now that I can write to sell, I can’t find an agent.  The ground has shifted.  We live in a new era.  Even with a publisher and an agent, we’re still on our own with regards to marketing.  Unfortunately, I’m not much of a marketer.  It takes money to market, and I’m not rich enough to front a sustained advertising effort.  I’ve been online for fifteen years.  I have eight hundred ninety Twitter followers.  My Facebook stats aren’t much better.  I have an excellent blog that features all my media work.  It’s gotten so that I’m shocked when I receive a comment.  I’m all over the web.  I’m on Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat, you name the social medium, I’m there.

It’s my photography that gets the attention.  I suppose that’s natural.  Images are so much more accessible than literature.  We live in a tough time for writers of quality.  There are so many writers, yet it seems as if there are fewer readers.  The sales figures for my books are shocking.  I can’t even give them away.  In three years I’ve sold twenty five copies of my e-books.  I’ve given away about eleven hundred.  Those figures are spread over three books.  In spite of this epic failure I persist.  I figure I’m somewhere near my peak with regards to my writing skills.  I’m a late bloomer.  I’m also a writer who works a long time on each project.  Like decades.  Confessions Of An Honest Man only reached its completion when I switched from past to present tense.  It changed everything.  I finished that work last year.  Begun in 1976, finished in 2017.  Same with The Gods Of The Gift.  It didn’t totally gel until I had revised it countless times and solved a thorny structural problem.  Begun in 1978, finished in 2016.  I can at least regard my non-fiction memoir, The Road Has Eyes with some affection.  It took a year to write.

The Road Has Eyes

I again made contact with the Meredith Agency in 2001.  They didn’t give me a contract but one of their editors was interested in me.  Barry N. Malzberg is/was a science fiction author, critic and NYC literary personality.  His editorial approach (with me, anyway) was brutal, confrontational, maybe even abusive.  The cumulative effect on me was positive, but the experience gave me a two year bout of writer’s block.  He helped me with Confessions Of An Honest Man.  I’m considering making contact again.  With some trepidation.  He was a rough editor.

Confessions of an Honest ManMy plan?  I’m going to invest in Confessions Of  An Honest Man and produce paperbacks.  There’s something about a physical manifestation that enlivens a book.  My intuition tells me that this is the right step.  I’ll follow with my other books. I have an as-yet-unpublished fantasy book, The Shadow Storm (about fifteen years in the writing).  I’ll bring it out.  I expect nothing.  It’s not that I don’t care.  I’m just too f’ing old to have an attachment to results. It’s about the process of writing and publishing.  It’s obedience to my inner voice.

I’m a very flawed person. I’ve lived at the extremes of life.  I’ve experienced the horrors of addiction and homelessness.  I’ve been a yogi/junkie.  How’s that for a paradox?  But I survive and have found a niche in the world.  A place to write.  I live in an RV with my partner and two obnoxious teacup poodles.  That’s good enough.

Thank you for sharing with us, Art. Watch for my review of The Gods of Gift in the near future. You can learn more about Art and his work at:

Novelist and Memoirist, literary fiction, science fiction, poetry and essays
Arthur Rosch Books

Blogger 
Write Out Of My Head

Confessions Of An Honest Man
The Gods Of The Gift, science fantasy
The Road Has Eyes: A Memoir of travel in an RV

If you’d like to have a guest post you’d you’d like to have featured on Writing to be Read, contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com. I wish I could, but at this time, I am unable to compensate you for your words. This blog is a labor of love, and so must be all guest posts.

 


Interview with Author Mark Shaw

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Once in a while, we come across an author who makes us see things differently through their writing. Mark Shaw is one such author, whose writing has a ring of truth to it that makes readers see those he writes about as real people with complex stories, who opens our eyes and makes us see truths that were always there, just below the surface, but we didn’t see before. I had the pleasure of reviewing two of his books. As the Southern Colorado Literature Examiner, I reviewed Beneath the Mask of Holiness, the compelling biography of a true life monk torn between his love of God and his love of a woman. And here, on Writing to be Read, I reviewed The Reporter Who Knew Too Much, the true life story of journalist Dorothy Kilgalen, who was investigating the JFK assination, which I recently learned will be made into a movie or a television mini-series, and a follow-up book, which Mark plans to release this fall. I also have the privelage of reviewing his latest book, to be released in June, Courage in the Face of Evil, the story of a German Christian woman, Vera Konig, who spent eight years in the concentration camps and whose courage and spirit brought her and several others through the ordeal. I’m pleased to be interviewing Mark here today. I think you will find him and his writing as interesting as I have.
Kaye: What is the one thing in your writing career that is the most unusual or unique thing you’ve done so far?
Mark: No question that it is the Dorothy Kilgallen story, that Dorothy has “spoken” to me from the hereafter, guiding my research and writing of her story so that the truth may be told about what happened to this true patriot who gave up her life to print the truth about the JFK assassination. What an inspiration she is to young journalists with some many people saying to me, “I wish we had a reporter with integrity like Dorothy today.”
Kaye: So the buzz in the air is that the Dowdle Brothers, who brought us the Waco mini-series, have optioned for your book, The Reporter Who Knew Too Much. This book is the true story of journalist Dorothy Kilgallen back in the 1960’s, (I know I reviewed this book, but for the life of me I can’t find it to refer back to for refreshing the details). I think every author at some point dreams of having their story portrayed on film. Can you describe what it felt like, as an author, to learn that this deal was in the works?
Mark: No one, my agent, my publisher, me, anyone thought Dorothy’s story could be a bestseller but somehow the book touched the emotions of so many people with at last count, my having received more than 500 emails from people around the world who have gained a respect and love for her. At one point, I told my wife that even after having written 20+ books, this one has made feel like a real author, that someone my writing this book connected with readers like none before it. And when I learned that respected filmmakers like the Brothers Dowdle wanted to adapt the book to the big or small screen, it brought tears to me because every author does dream of this happening. Best of all, these men of integrity have the passion to tell the story of a reporter of integrity, the perfect match.
 
Kaye: You know Dorothy Kilgallen was a great journalist and sets an example for us as writers, but she also was a forerunner at a time when women were still struggling to be heard. Any thoughts on that?
 
Mark: In the day and age when Dorothy was attempting to position herself as a top-flight reporter, she faced quite a challenge because women were not supposed to ride in the back seat of a car, but BEHIND the car. But she never let that stop her, she worked harder than any of the men who challenged her driving ambition and she did so with integrity at every turn. This is why I believe she was truly the first female media icon, television star on What’s My Line, ace reporter, respected columnist, acclaimed investigative reporter, radio program host, author, etc. No wonder the New York Post called her “the most powerful female voice in America.” Dorothy certainly was that and a good mother to her children, as well who never saw her being a female as an obstacle, but in fact a true blessing.
the-reporter-who-knew-too-much
Kaye: In The Reporter Who Knew Too Much, you reveal facts that point to Dorothy Kilgallen’s death being a murder, along with an elaborate conspiracy and cover up. What originally led your own research in this direction?
 
Mark: Amazingly enough, I never intended to write this book but during my writing a biography of Melvin Belli, Jack Ruby’s attorney, a close friend of his said Belli told him, “They’ve killed Dorothy, now they will go after Jack Ruby.” I could not get this quote out of my mind and that led to researching Dorothy’s life and times and her death. Along the way, I believe she guided my efforts to secure the truth about what happened to her, her spirit being felt so many times when I wondered whether I could find that truth. She selected me to tell her story, that’s for sure so she can get the justice she deserves.
 
Kaye: The investigation was actually reopened due to compelling information which you brought forth through your research. Now, there’s been follow-up research, and the results are found in Denial of Justice: Dorothy Kilgallen, Abuse of Power and the Most Compelling JFK Assassination Investigation in History. Are you at liberty to talk about the findings? 
 
Mark: I continue to fight for Dorothy’s rights as the victim of a homicide to the extent that I fired off a ten page letter to the NY DA’s office demanding they re-open the investigation into her death based on new evidence that will be in the follow-up book to be released this fall after my new book, Courage in the Face of Evil is released in June. In the follow-up book, there is new evidence regarding Ron Pataky, the chief suspect in her death, additional details about what happened in the townhouse where Kilgallen lived on the day she died from her butler’s daughter, shocking new information about the JFK assassination never revealed before and admission by Dorothy’s daughter to the effect, “My mother was murdered.”
 
Kaye: Dorothy Kilgallen was investigating several possibilities of conspiracy in the JFK assassination, and it seemed she was getting close to uncovering something big regarding this. You also presented a few theories on why Kilgallen might have been murdered, and by whom. Are we any closer to answering any of those questions now? 
 
Mark: Yes, the shocking information about the JFK assassination in the new book will indicate what Dorothy learned that made her even more of a threat to those who were complicit in JFK’s death. This material has never been published before.
 
Kaye: How does a book get optioned? Can you tell us how it worked for you? Did you send in a copy of your book with a cover letter to pitch it? Or did somebody read your book and call you up out of the blue to say they wanted to make a movie out of it?
 
Mark: Drew Dowdle told me he heard about the book from a friend and then listened to the audio version before telling his brother John about it. They contacted me about the rights and then I connected them with Frank Weimann, my literary agent in NYC. The deal took sometime to complete because they were finishing up WACO, a terrific if disturbing series, but finally it was completed. I had a glass of champagne with my wife to celebrate.
 
Kaye: You have extensive research into this project. You have a major investment in the book, and now you will get to see it played out on screen. Who would you like to see cast into the leading role? Who do you envision as Dorothy Kilgallen?
 
Mark: On the Dorothy Kilgallen Facebook page, followers debated who could play Dorothy and among the selections were Nicole Kidman, Cate Blantchett, and Sally Hawkins. I’ve said all of these would be terrific but wish that Meryl Streep was a bit younger since she’s as feisty as Dorothy was.
 
Kaye: Your next book, Courage in the Face of Evil will be published in June. What about this story attracted you? 
 
Mark: This is a very disturbing yet inspiration book based on a true story as chronicled in a Holocaust diary kept by a German Christian woman who was a true angel of mercy at Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. The theme, so relevant these days since there is so much hate in the world, revolves around how love may overcome hate when human survival is at stake. More about the book may be learned at Mark Shaw: Courage In The Face Of Evil .
 
Courage in the Face of Evil Cover Final Nov 10 2017
Kaye: Your books, especially the recent ones, seem to focus on defending people, on justice and injustice. Is this true?
Mark: Yes, certainly, I defend Dorothy’s rights as a victim to get the justice she deserves and in Courage in the Face of Evil, I defend the main character’s decision to trust the enemy, a Nazi prison guard, so as to save the life of a little Russian orphan who will be killed unless the guard saves her. I’ve done this with other books as well, for instance, in the Melvin Belli book, I even defended Jack Ruby because he did not get a fair trial. In fact, Dorothy believed this to be true as well as will be documented in “Denial of Justice.” My defending those denied justice comes from my days as a criminal defense lawyer since everyone deserves a fair shake, even an assassin like Jack Ruby.
Kaye: I know research is a big part of your writing. Due to the fact that you write biographies, it has to be. But I have to ask, how did you find Vera’s story? (You did an amazing job with it, btw.) How much did you have to add or take out from her journals?
Mark: Years ago, I was contacted by the daughter of the woman whose story I tell in “Courage in the Face of Evil.” I was able to read the diary and was captivated with the story, the raw emotion, the bravery, the determination to survive, the willingness to save lives no matter the danger. Capturing “Vera’s” voice was the key and except for the final 5% or so of the book where I added material based on what the daughter told me “Vera’s” intentions were regarding the prison guards after the war, the account is absolutely true.
And now for a fun question:
Kaye: Which author/screenwriter/poet, dead or alive, would you love to have lunch with?
 
Mark: No question here, Ernest Hemingway.
I want to thank Mark for chatting with me about your books. I’m sure it will be quite exciting to see one of your books put on film. Whether they make it a movie or a television mini-series, it is really quite a treat. Be sure to catch my June 1st review of Courage in the Face of Evil, a gripping and compelling book. can learn more about Mark Shaw and his books here: http://www.markshawbooks.com/ 

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“Ask the Authors” is Coming to “Writing to be Read”

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I’m excited to tell you about a new series of posts coming to Writing to be Read. Starting next Monday, “Ask the Authors” will pose the questions you want to ask to our panel of authors, and I’ll bring you their answers. The series will cover all aspects of writing, with topics including the writing process and elements of craft, and issues surrounding publishing, and building a platform, marketing and promotion, with members from our panel weighing in on each subject. If you have follow-up questions for the panel or for the individual authors, you can leave them in the comments. I will get them answered and post them in the concluding post, so be sure to catch the whole series.

Our panel consists of eleven members, which I’d like to introduce to you today. All of them, I have worked with here on Writing to be Read, either reviewing their books or interviewing them, or both. Many have participated in either my 2016 Publishing series: “Pros and Cons of Traditionional vs. Independent  vs. Self-Publishing” or my 2017 Book Marketing series: “Book Marketing: What Works?”. They are all outstanding authors and together, they cover a wide variety of genres and publishing routes. Feel free to pose any questions for them of for the panel in general in the comments of any of the posts and I will try to get them answered for you. I hope all my readers will give each of them a warm welcome.

Tim flagler filmTim Baker is a Florida author of ten novels, most of which I’ve read more than once. His work is well crafted and entertaining, with memorable characters you can’t help but care about. (See my reviews of Tim’s books: Living the Dream, No Good Deed, Water Works, Backseat to JusticeUnfinished Business, Pump It Up, Eyewitness BluesFull Circle, 24 Minutes) He started out his writing career with a publisher, but has now moved into the independent publishing arena.

Tim has played almost every sport imaginable throughout his life and currently enjoys S.C.U.B.A. diving, riding his motorcycle, reading and watching movies, (not necessarily in that order). In fact when writing a novel, he approaches it like he’s creating and watching a movie in his head. When asked who he’d like to play the lead character if one of his books were turned into a movie:

“That’s an easy one…in almost all of my books the hero is a guy named Ike. He is a 6’6” ex-Navy SEAL with a tendency to bend (and sometimes break) the rules. He was modelled after the character of Wade Garret, played by Sam Elliot, in Road House – but Sam is getting a bit old to play Ike so the next best thing is an actor named Anson Mount (from the series Hell on Wheels).”

Something his readers might not gues about him: “After reading my books I think most people would be surprised to learn that I am very non-violent. I don’t believe that violence ever solves anything. I also don’t own a gun (but I don’t care if you do), nor do I know much about them. Most of the technical jargon I use about guns in my books I learn from people who know. And I would go out of my way to avoid hostility.”

When asked to describe himself in three words: “Impossible to describe (that’s 3 words!!)”.

Living the Dream was one of the first reviews I did on Writing to be Read back in 2010. I’ve interviewed him for both my 2016 Publishing series and my 2017 Book Marketing series, as well as an author profile back in 2012, and I am pleased to welcome Tim to our Ask the Authors” panel.

You can learn more about Tim and his books at his website: www.blindoggbooks.com.

Author Jordan Elizabeth Hollack

Jordan Elizabeth is a New York small press author of Young Adult fiction. (See my reviews of Jordan’s books: Escape From Witchwood Hollow, Cogling, Victorian, The Goat Children, Path to Old Talbot, Kistishi Island, Treasure Darkly, Wicked Treasure, Runners & Riders)

One of her secrets for juggling her writing career and family is to set aside one hour a night just for writing. If she’s fortunate enough to set aside two hours, she uses the second hour for marketing. When asked: “What is one thing readers would never guess about you?” She replied: “I am terrified of costumed characters.  Think head-to-toe Mickey Mouse.  If I see one, I freak out.” 

I have reviewed Jordan’s work, both novels and short fiction since 2016, and I had the pleasure of interviewing her for both my 2016 Publishing series and for my 2017 Book Marketing series, and we started off the new year with another interview to talk about her latest book, Secrets of Bennett Hall. In fact, when asked to relate about the most fun interview she’d ever done, she replied, “Anything by you.  You always ask unusual questions that really get me thinking.” So thank you for that, Jordan. It pleases me to no end to have you join our “Ask the Authors” panel.

You can learn more about Jordan and her books at JordanElizabethBooks.com.

Margareth StewartMargareth Stewart is the pen name for Mônica Mastrantonio, debut author of Open/ Pierre’s Journey After War published by web-e-books.com. She has also compiled and published three international Anthologies featuring global authors: Whitmanthology, Womenthology, The Pain that Unites us All.

She holds a PhD in Social Psychology, and she has been teaching and tutoring students over 22 years. This zen-mother of 3, loves life and her tattoos. She spends her time between Sao Paolo, Miami and writing residencies.

When asked about her favorite form of exercise: “Jogging – that´s kind of an obligation for me. As writers, we tend to sit for long hours, so every single day, I do try to keep that up and go out for a short run of 4 to 5 kilometers. If I have more time, I go round a park nearby and that makes 6 kilometers. I do recommend it – it keeps our mind sharp and our ideas bright.

I only recently met Margareth through my interview with her, but I am happy to have Margareth as a panel member.

You can learn more about Margareth and her book on her Facebook page.

Chris DiBellaChris DiBella is currently an independent California author. (See my reviews of Chris’ books: The 5820 Diaries, Whispering Death, Blood Dawn) I say this because Chris has been all over. Originally from New England, he began writing his first novel while living in Hawaii. I reviewed his debut novel, Lost Voyage, back when he was a Colorado author and I was the Southern Colorado Literature Examiner, as well.

I met Chris through another author on this panel, Tim Baker, and it is apparently Tim who gave Chris the best piece of advice he’s ever received:

“I wrote a blog piece about how it’s okay to sometimes alienate your readers…to a point. One of the comments on it was from my friend Tim, who said this:

“If Stephen King or JK Rowling want to piss people off, they can afford it. You and me? We should be a little more careful. Just sayin’.”

And that was the roundabout way of giving me the best piece of advice I could’ve ever received. I immediately got on my laptop, opened up a blank Word document, and typed in big bold letters “BE BIGGER THAN STEPHEN KING & J.K. ROWLING”.

Chris’ words to you readers: “I am however, an open book…..every pun intended….so if there’s anything you would like to know about me or about what makes me tick, please feel free to reach out and ask away. I love interacting with fans and I welcome any questions you may have.”

Soon you can learn more about Chris and his books at his website, which is under construction ans linked to his blog site: www.chrisdibella.com. For now, it might be easier to contact him through his Facebook page.

Janet GarberJanet Garber is the author of both fiction and non-fiction who lives in the U.K. and bases her writing on her experiences as an H.R. manager in New York.

Janet says that if Dream Job, Wacky Adventures of an HR Manager were made into a film, anyone playing her protagonist, Melie Kohl, would have to be believable as a New Yorker, funny and self deprecating, wildly imaginative, more than a little neurotic.  She suggest Mary Elizabeth Winstead, star of that great political satire, BrainDead.

When asked what she would do in a life without writing, she says: “I would do what I always do when I’m avoiding my work: knitting, hiking, going to movies, cooking, getting together with friends, travelling, teaching. But . . .I prefer a future  with maximum creativity and that means writing.”

I reviewed Janet’s debut novel,  Dream Job, Wacky Adventures of an HR Manager,  and thought it was one of the quirkiest books I’ve ever read, but it was very entertaining. I hope you will all give her a warm welcome.

If you’d like to learn more about Janet or her books, visit her at:

Her website: http://www.janetgarber.com

On Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Melie5

Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/melie5

Art RoschArt Rosch is an independent novelist and memoirist from sunny California. (See my reviews of The Road Has Eyes and Confessions of an Honest Man. Also see my interview with Art for my 2016 Publishing series here.)

Art says the best piece of advice he was ever given was to ask for help when you need it.  If you find yourself bottoming out, don’t hesitate to ask for help.  You can’t get out of trouble by yourself. When asked to describe himself in three words: Becoming more alive.

I’ve known Art since 2008, when I administered my own writing site, Writer’s World, and Art was a member. Later, he had his life partner, Fox, who is a pet pyschic, do a reading for me after my son died and we inherited his dog. I am so pleased to welcome him to the “Ask the Authors” panel.

You can learn more about Art and his books at Arthur Rosch Books or on his blog Write Out Of My Head.

Carol Riggs author_smallerCarol Riggs is a Young Adult fantasy and science fiction author, and dragon collector from Oregon.  You will usually find her in her writing cave, surrounded by her dragon collection and the characters in her head.

The most fun part of writing for Carol is “the freedom of drafting a first draft, and being imaginative with my storyline.” The least fun part: “The least fun is marketing, all that necessary left-brained business side of things.”

Carol’s favorite genres to read (and write!) are speculative, which includes fantasy, science fiction, steampunk, magical realism, contemporary fantasy, or anything else with a twist of weird or the imaginative.

When asked what she would do in a future where the was no writing: I would cry. Seriously (after I finished crying), I would return to my artwork, because I have a degree in Studio Arts and that is something I love to do, but haven’t had as much time to do it because I’m so busy writing. In general, I enjoy drawing people more than landscapes. I also like to create miniature fabric art.

I have reviewed Carol’s books on two occasions, and I welcome her as a valuable addition to our “Ask the Authors” panel. (See my reviews of Carol’s books: Bottled and The Lying Planet.)

You can learn more about Carol or her books at her website: http://www.carolriggs.com/

deannakDeAnna Knippling is another independent Colorado author and one of the a great example of what being a writer is all about. She writes full time as a writer for hire in addition to writing fiction in both short and long forms under her own name. (See my reviews of DeAnna’s books: Clockwork Alice; Something Borrowed, Something Blue; How Smoke Got Out of the Chimneys; ) Her stories are always fun and entertaining.

The most unusual or unique thing she’s done in her writing career to date: “I’ve written murder mystery party games for Freeform Games in the UK.  SO VERY COOL.  So very intense getting them edited…”

When asked about what she would do in a future without writing, she replied: “Be in a coma.” and in one where writing made her rich and famous: “I would buy a house in the mountains and support my husband in the sloth and luxury that he deserves.  I have other plans, too, but that’s at the top of the list.”

When asked to describe herself in three words: “I’m right heeeeeeere!”

I had the pleasure of interviewing her twice in 2017. The first time, a profiling interview and then for my 2017 Book Marketing series, and I am thrilled to welcome her to our “Ask the Authors” panel.

You can learn more about Deanna and her books by visiting the following sites:

Goodreads
www.WonderlandPress.com
www.facebook.com/deanna.knippling

colorheadshot - CopyCynthia Vespia an award nominated speculative fiction author, cover designer and promotional content developer. She also teaches internet advertising classes and marshal arts workshops. Her speculative fiction encompasses fantasy, the paranormal, and magic realism.

When asked if one of her books was made into a film, who she would you like to play the lead: One of my books is currently in the beginning stages of becoming a film. It is based on my novel The Crescent and it is a female gladiator tale called Gladiatrix. If I could have anyone in the lead role I would choose Gal Gadot. She is not only hot in features, but she is a hot name right now coming off of Wonder Woman and Justice League. The way she presents herself in the beginning of Wonder Woman on the island of Themyscera is perfect for my gladiator tale, and she can fight too!

Cynthia was another of Writing to be Read‘s first reveiws and, always willing to jump in where needed, she participated in a profiling interview, my 2017 Book Marketing series. (See my reviews of Cynthia’s books: the Demon Hunter Saga, including The Hero’s CallLife, Death and Back; Lucky Sevens)

You can learn more about Cynthia and her books at her website: www.cynthiavespia.com/ 

Chris Barili-1521Chris Barili is a speculative fiction and romance author who was also my cohort in the M.F.A. in Creative Writing program at Western. (See my reviews of Chris’ books: the Hell’s Butcher series and his romance, Smothered (as B.T. Clearwater).)

Besides writing, Chris lifts weights, mountain bikes, practices martial arts and battles Parkinson’s disease. Writing just may be his salvation. When asked about a future where writing left him rich and famous, Chris said he would write more. Regarding a future without writing: “Shrivel up and die. Writing is part of me. Without it, a part of me dies. A crucial part of me. I cannot  live without it. I can live without an arm or a leg. I can get by with this Parkinson’s thing. But without writing, I am sunk.”

The best piece of advice he was ever given: “Try genres outside of fantasy.” In addition to my reviews of Chris’s books and short fiction, he was also interviewed for my 2017 Book Marketing series, and I’m happy to have him as a member of our “Ask the Authors” panel.

You can learn more about Chris and his books at his Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Chris-Barili/e/B00NA04S8W/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_4

As you can see, we’ve got a terrific panel of multi-talented authors, both experienced and rising, representing a diversity of genres, covering a wide range of knowledge. The way this series works is I will present a series of posts that will offer answers the panel gives  in reponse to my questions.

If you have a question you’ve always wanted answered, but it’s not covered in the post on that topic, pose your query in the comments. Make note if it is directed toward a specific author. Questions will be directed to the general panel unless otherwise specified. Then, in the final post for the series, I will present your questions and the responses I recieved from panel members. I hope you’ll all participate and leave your questions in the comments. I think if we can get enough particiaption it might be really fun.

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Interview with author Margareth Stewart

Margareth Stewart

Today I have the good fortune to interview the debute author of a new release, Open/Pierre´s journey after warwhich is now available at web-e-books.com. Margareth Stewart joins us today on Writing to be Read to share a little about herself and her book. This interview is my introduction to Margareth, as well, so I’m excited to get to know her, too.

Kaye: Welcome Margareth. We’d love it if you’d introduce yourself to my readers. Tell us a little about yourself.

Margareth: My real name is Mônica Mastrantonio and Margareth Stewart is my pen name, but I like it so much that you can call me Margareth. 

I´m a PhD professor in Social Psychology, and had been following an academic career if I had not fell totally in love with the writing life.

Kaye: Why did you choose to use a pen name and how did you chose yours?

Margareth: I have a life of academicals papers, thesis and articles under my real name Monica Mastrantonio, so I thought the same name would just confuse the audience. I had no other choice, but to pick up an English pen name for my fiction work which is all in English. I brainstormed quite a few, used app devices to find a suitable one, but only got more confused (lol). The name Margareth came to me as it also starts with the letter M – and the surname seems to match it. That’s how Margareth Stewart was born.

Kaye: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?

Margareth: Yes, for sure. I´m a divorced mom of three kids, so my writing depends on having a break, getting to Writers Residencies somewhere far and isolated. I´ve written Open at Maelor Studio in Corris – Wales; Mademoiselle-sur-Seine at Camac – France and now comes the time to go to Greywood Arts in Cork, Ireland – so glad about it.

Kaye: What are your secrets for juggling writing with family?

Margareth: Hard. I have three kids. The oldest one is Valentina, she is 16, then comes Chloe who is 10, and Vittorio who is 7. So, I never ever rest – that never happens. I’m also divorced, so it’s – “paying the bills, cleaning the house, getting piles of work done, teaching and tutoring my students from university, working for a social project book donation, and so on” – every single day. I think the secret is living, not only being alive: working hard and having fun – both are essential.

Kaye: What is the one thing you hope to teach your children?

Margareth: To follow their dreams and be passionate about whatever they choose to do. I know this may sound a bit too romantic in a very competitive world, but that seems to be the only solution for so many problems we face nowadays. On top of that, I always say that being a happy Mom is the best legacy I can ever leave them. At least, I feel like half of the work has already been done if we are happy people. 

Kaye: What’s one thing most readers would never guess about you?

Margareth: Oh, basically two, where I come from and my age. I was born in Brazil, in a Southern city called Londrina – that stands for Little London – colonized by the British in the 20’s. But I also have Italian citizenship because my grandparents immigrated from Italy, so I say I’m like pizza: half Brazilian-half Italian. Now I live in Sao Paolo, few months in Miami and at writer´s residencies, too. 

Second, my age. I’m 49, and as I dress casual and informal, people tend to think I’m younger.  

Kaye: When and why did you begin writing?

Margareth: I´ve always written, as Academics – mostly scientific papers and articles, though lately felt an urge to start writing fiction. It´s not something I´ve planned, much to the opposite, I even tried avoiding it.

Kaye: When did you first consider yourself to be a writer?

Margareth: When I published my first novel Open/Pierre´s journey after war – at the end of 2017, so I´ve just began (lol). I had also compiled, edited and published anthologies, short stories, articles before, but I did not regard myself so. Then, when Open was accepted and published by web-e-books.com, it felt like the real thing was coming to life. 

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

Margareth: Midnight is the perfect hour for me, that’s when all the lights go down, kids are in bed, and silence reigns. My neighbors may think I’m very weird, staying up for long hours at night, but those are my precious working hours, when words flow – I won’t be giving up on them.

Kaye: What inspired you to write your first book?

Margareth: Can you believe it was a Facebook group? Awesome, I know. It was November – Nano writing month and this group ran a contest for the person who would reach 100.000 word count first. Obviously, I´ve missed both the month and the word count. But it somehow gave me courage to book a writer´s residency in January in Wales and accomplish my target there. That was how my novel came to life. Then, it took me two years to have it published. So, my advice is never ever give it up. Champagne takes two full years to have the bubbles in it, so good things do take time. Pierre

Kaye: How did you come up with the title – Open/Pierre´s journey after war

Margareth: The title is a reference to a scene from the book, the only romantic scene in it – when the main character falls in love. They were in a village stepping on the grapes to make wine, the weather changes and rain is about to fall heavily, the owner of the land was holding a bottle ready to be opened in his hand as a tradition to the new harvest, everyone surrounding him started shouting “Open open, open”. It was the first time Pierre held Claire’s hand.

Kaye: Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?

Margareth: Because of my background in Social Psychology, I mainly focus in the human beings, their relationships and their inner selves more than anything else.

 Kaye: Open/Pierre´s journey after war is the story of one man’s reaction after losing his family to the atrocities of war. How much of the story is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Margareth: It’s a mix of everything. There is no such a thing as a blank page, everything we ever lived influences us, what we read, hear, see, the people we´ve met, etc. Writing is putting all that in order.

Kaye: Who designed your cover?

Margareth: The Publisher, but I did some changes and suggested the main colour which is orange.

Kaye: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Margareth: Yes, indeed. A message about last wishes. Pierre the main character lives for his last wish which is revenge. People do not pay attention to things they need to accomplish in life, so when old age comes, they become very bitter and frustrated.

Stewart Excerpt  

Kaye: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?  Who is your favourite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?

Margareth: Oh, so many influencers. I´m an avid reader since a small kid. I read everything I can ever get my eyes upon, and I love libraries and Book Shops – to a point that I could spend days inside one. So from Tchekov, to Dante, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Sidney Sheldon, Yeats, Kafka, Steinbeck, Wilde to Agatha Christie, Cervantes and Mills and Boon to name a few. I´ve learned so much from them all.

Kaye: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.

Margareth: Facebook groups can play a great motivational role to new writers, feed-back from beta-readers, and artist residencies.

Stewart Writing SpaceKaye: Do you see writing as a career?

Margareth: Yes, it’s a career like any other. I wake up, get some tea, sit down and type until bleeding – as Nietzsche would say.

Kaye: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?

Margareth: No, nothing, really, I´m very happy with the book, its edition, and so thankful to everyone that helped me along this way.

Kaye: Did you learn anything during the writing of Open/Pierre´s journey after war?

Margareth: Yes, so much with Pierre, and also about the way I can produce more and write better for next time.

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

Margareth: Oh, love this question, wish they read this interview, buy the book and decide to film it: Clint Eastwood or Jeremy Irons.

Kaye: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Margareth: Keep writing – keep walking, and “Cheering” accordingly. 

Kaye: What book are you reading now?

Margareth: Cyrano de Bergerac – I want to learn more about dialogues, spoken language, you know.

Kaye: Do you remember the first book you ever read?

Margareth: A series of adventure books for a contest at school, I just remembered I won, and read loads for weeks.

Kaye: What makes you laugh or cry?

Margareth: Good talk & nice people, I get emotional when I meet people who are passionate about what they do. 

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

Margareth: Professor, Historian and Writer from Oxford University: Sir Theodore Zeldin. He has an extraordinary capacity to link major historical events to people’s daily lives – to understand people from a larger point of view. A truly Historical Social Psychologist. I would love to spend some weeks as apprentice in his Department, who knows?

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

Margareth: Jogging, cooking, dancing, and reading (lol).

Kaye: What TV shows or films do you enjoy watching?

Margareth: Can you believe I watch no TV? Zero. That´s me, I´m keen on films, but “zero” TV, not missing much is the feed-back I have from people watching it.

Kaye: What are your favourite foods, colours, music?

Margareth: Homemade Pasta made by me (my Italian side) and all sorts of music from Jazz, to folk, rock, samba, bossa, and classical.

Kaye: How would you describe yourself in three words?

Margareth: Passionate. Determined. Brave.

Kaye: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?

Margareth: I can´t imagine it any longer…there are some paths that there is no turning around – writing is one of them.

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

Margareth: Doing some of the things my characters do. For instance, Pierre the main character of Open, he drinks hot burning coffee and I tried that once, just got my lips and tongue all burnt for a week. Another unusual thing is taking notes all the time. I carry a small notebook with me – there are times that I have to pull the car off the road not to miss an idea.

Kaye: Is there anything specific you’d like to tell your readers?

Margareth: Just read it.  

Kaye: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?

Margareth: Yes, please follow my Facebook Page where I post offers and new book releases. For 2018, we have Mademoiselle-sur-Seine (erotica) much hotter than 50 Shades of Grey.

Stewart Poster

Kaye: Thank you Margareth, for joining us today. It’s been great to get to know a little about you and to learn a little about Open/Pierre´s journey after war. 

Margareth: Thank you so much for putting these together for all of us; it´s an immense pleasure being here, and looking forward to next book interview.

 

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