Meet Author Russ Colchamiro
ULM: What lured you into the sci-fi genre?
A: I’ve always been a scifi fan, but as a writer it evolved organically. I like to tell wild, expansive stories that challenge our beliefs of the Universe while also connecting with characters on a personal level, juxtaposing the struggles of their daily lives with the fate of the cosmos.
Writing in the scifi genre also allows me to dream as big as I want, with nothing really off limits, as long as I explain the rules, and stick with them. I’m also a bit of a philosopher, so scifi is a perfect genre to explore the big questions—are our lives predetermined or can we influence the greater outcomes? Fate vs. destiny. Is there a cosmic plan or is it all random? And regardless of the answers, how do we choose to live our lives along the way?
ULM: Was it hard to combine both comedy and sci-fi in your Finders Keepers trilogy?
A: For me it came naturally. By design and instinct, I tend to write all of my stories as a mystery, where I reveal, conceal, and then reveal again, loaded with tension … and humor.
During my early 20s I backpacked through Europe at a time when that wasn’t nearly as common as it is today. We’re talking 1994, so pre-Internet. You really had to figure out what you were doing either far in advance, or adjust on the fly. Or both. You couldn’t just go online and book your trip because there was no online.
Once I got going, I had one of those trips that significantly changed my outlook on life. Later, I took a two-week trip to New Zealand, which was equally transformative. Separately, I had been tinkering this scifi/fantasy concept, where Jason Medley—who I knew nothing about—had a jar of the Universe’s DNA. And I certainly had no clue what a jar of the Universe’s DNA might be, what that even meant, or how or why Jason had it. But I was dying to find out.
So those two ideas—the backpacking and the scifi—just fit together, and had me laughing along the way. My trips were hilarious (at least to me) so the comedy was already there, and carried through the 3-book series – Finders Keepers, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza.
Each book is written in part like a travelogue with a you-are-there feel, yet the two main characters, backpackers Jason Medley and Theo Barnes (who’s from New Zealand) find themselves being chased around the globe by a motley crew from this world and the cosmos, wanting to steal that jar of the Universe’s DNA for themselves.
In each book, Jason and Theo have to find some way to save the Earth, the galaxy, or even the entire Universe, even though they really don’t understand how they got mixed up in these shenanigans to begin with. But every time they bumble their way into saving the day, they ultimately make matters worse.
By the time we start the third book, they’ve inadvertently set in motion the next Big Bang, which, if it comes to fruition before Astropalooza—a cosmic celebration of the Universe—existence as we know it will be wiped out.
ULM: How many books have published so far?
A. So far I’ve written four novels, one anthology, which I edited—Love, Murder & Mayhem—and I’ve appeared in about a half dozen or so other anthologies where I contributed a story to the collection.
ULM: You mentioned living in New Jersey. Would this place have any influence on your writing?
A: So far … not really, but I think you’ll see that influence become much more substantial in the future. Can’t say more right now, but stay tuned.
ULM: Using only three words, how would you describe your writing style?
A: Humorous. Adventurous. Mysterious.
ULM: Your latest novel, the anthology Love Murder & Mayhem, looks amazing. Can you share with us, readers what that’s about?
A: While writing Genius de Milo, the second book in my Finders Keepers scifi backpacking comedy series, I briefly introduced the character of Angela Hardwicke. She’s a private eye in that classic Sam Spade tradition. But I knew immediately that I wanted to spend more time with her, so I gave her a much bigger role in the third and final book in the series, Astropalooza, while also convinced that I wanted to give her a series of her own. But first I wanted to write a short story with Hardwicke in the lead, to get a better sense of who she was, her rhythms, and the kinds of stories I wanted to tell.
Thus I started the Love, Murder & Mayhem anthology through my publishing group—Crazy 8 Press. We have 15 stories, from 15 authors (including me) with every story containing at least one act of love or romance, at least one murder, and lots of mayhem. I initially thought I’d get nothing but private stories—I did a get a few—but the anthology contains superhero and supervillain stories, off-world and space cruiser stories, as well as A.I., private eyes, sleep surrogates, time travel, an aliens/monsters mash-up and … one DuckBob!
ULM: What was one of your toughest scenes to create in Love Murder & Mayhem?
A: Writing a murder mystery—especially one that has to be self-contained in less than 8,000 words—has to be intricately and concisely plotted. I had to figure out who the murderer(s) was, why the murder took place, and how, and then map out the sequence of events beginning to end before I could even start writing. If even one detail was out of place the infrastructure of the story would collapse. It was my first true murder mystery, so it was a great learning experience as a writer.
ULM: Which characters from Love Murder & Mayhem were easy to develop?
A: Hardwicke’s my girl. I’ve always wanted to write a detective series, so I’m having a blast with Hardwicke. And it’s not so much that I’m writing her, but that she’s revealing herself to me. By spending time thinking about who and how she is, I’ve discovered Hardwicke’s origin story, and where her larger character arc will take us over the course of several books. It should be a lot of fun.
ULM: Where can readers find you and your work online?
A: I’m out on book tour throughout the year, so if you like getting signed copies, you can find me at any number of book and scifi conventions, mostly in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. I’m also available through these channels:
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/colchamiro?_requestid=409654
Some people seem to win all the time! What is their secret? Is there a way to constantly win? Yes, there actually is. This book, will help you transform your Life to start Winning in every aspect of Life, Improving Your Income, And Start Being an Influencer. This, is your chance to change sides: From the Loser Street to Winner Avenue! Do it now, and see how your life transforms instantly!
Winners Win, Losers Lose by Ted Primo is a nonfiction book. One that motivates individuals who have failed at succeeding in transforming their lives. Ted Primo expertly guides all readers through each step of the transformation process. From exploring where the reader is at to the excuses as to why you didn’t reach success. The steps are easy to follow. The entire book’s format is well-organized. Each pages takes readers from the start to end in this transformational life process. His secrets and tips are wonderful.
How growing up in a female-dominated family influenced my stories, characters, and the overall inspiration for writing the Fair Fae Trilogy. ”
By Patricia Bossano
In general English, Matriarchy is a form of social organization in which descent and relationship are reckoned through the female line. It is also defined as a social system in which females hold primary power, predominate in roles of leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property.
Present day matriarchal societies include: the Mosuo (near the border of Tibet), the Minangkabau of Indonesia, the Akan people of Ghana, the Bribri in Costa Rica, to name a few, but there are also the legendary Amazons, scores of fabled early feminists, mythological sisterhoods, and of course, Faerie, which in my opinion is the ultimate form of a matriarchal clan.
Each community of troop faeries is ruled by a Faery Queen, the first of them originating in Italy—where the sun is said to shine at its loveliest. From there they spread to different parts of the world during the expansion of the Roman Empire, seeking remote locations to set up their underground realms, learning the language of their host countries and adopting the more intriguing customs practiced there, as an act of silent diplomacy.
Being that the smallest structure of society is a family unit, I looked to my own in order to write what I know. On my mother’s side, women are in the majority so I say the beauty, the experiences, and the paradoxical personalities of the females in my family, directly influenced me and inspired the magic of Faery Sight, Cradle Gift and Nahia—true story!
Through my novels, I hope to give you a heartfelt snapshot of the life-journey of my characters who, like me, are part of a grand matriarchal clan celebrating not only the onward, dynamic spirit of the family but also the magical relationship between mothers, daughters and sisters. My dreams of publication became a reality through their support and encouragement, so in return, I feel compelled to be at best, an inspiration to them, and at a minimum, a source of entertainment.
I’m doing my utmost to paint for them a realistic picture of the magical world inside of us—the realm of faerie is the place where mundane abilities can be magnified through perspective and attitude. Sure, a full-fledged faery can fly and shape shift at will, but there is no less magic in the human dimension—I think faerie is an achievable state of being we can aspire to. In the human dimension, our spirits can soar and we may reinvent ourselves as we navigate each day. Buoyed by confidence, we are driven to accomplish ordinary feats and transform them into astonishing ones—such as waking up in the morning with a word of gratitude to the cosmos, thus creating a positive mood for the day ahead. Simply smiling to cause your brain to release endorphins, because we all know how life-altering those little neurotransmitters are…
Clean out your desktop and see how clearheaded you feel afterward—seriously, Feng Shui is practical magic at its best!
Whenever I feel discouraged and like I’m a rookie at life, I choose to see the ordinary as extraordinary and focus on the brightest aspect of any given situation. That seemingly insignificant shift in attitude gives me the satisfaction of knowing I’m doing the right thing, which in turn makes me smile (see above for what smiling does), and enthusiasm bubbles up inside me.
I believe faeries are due to surface all over the planet as nurturing forces of creation and restoration. I think my troop of full-blooded, hybrid fairies is part of a worldwide movement to explore the new, unlearn some of the old, and carry on with heightened awareness.
Should an author stick to one genre?
Most authors tend to stick to one genre. Fantasy writers typically only do Fantasy. Scifi lovers focus on the future and whatifs and nothing more. Romancers can’t get enough of John Smith, and on and on. As an author who started with fantasy, then did a nonfiction memoir, now doing a scifi romance, and will go back to fantasy, I wonder if more authors should explore different stories?
To give some better insight as to what I’m getting at, I want to describe my own foray into new lands. So far, I’ve written five books. Three are from my epic fantasy series Tales of Ashkar. One is from a YA Fantasy trilogy called Dragonsoul. The last is a nonfiction memoir of my great grandfather, who survived the Armenian Genocide. My sixth, which I am currently working on, is a scifi romance inspired by Nic Pizzolatto (the guy behind True Detective) that contains a giant monster rampaging through San Francisco.
So far, I can say that I am glad I’ve ventured out into the dark. Going from fantasy of the utmost caliber to nonfiction in a personal and historical sense has developed my skills as a writer in two ways. The first is that I’ve gone from making up my characters and their story to writing about a real person and his real struggles, allowing me to understand different ways to approach human emotion and conflict. The second benefit is that from taking my eyes away from writing fiction after fiction, I switched to nonfiction and am now switching back. In other words, writing the nonfiction has given me the chance to refresh my skills as a writer, and as I come back to fiction I won’t be dogged down because I’ve just written four fantasy novels prior.
It’s also nice from a voice perspective. Writing fantasy is amazing, but it can also be a challenge when trying to convey a more archaic and specific voice with your characters. For example, my scifi romance is contemporary, and the dialogue and prose is going to reflect that.
So to all the other authors out there who may want to venture into other genres and have cold feet, I say go for it. You’ll learn a lot about yourself, and I guarantee that your writing skills will improve in some capacity.
You can find Dragonsoul, my YA Fantasy, here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MCVJVIP and Remembering Avedik: The True Story of a Genocide Survivor, my nonfiction memoir, here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072526BGS
Kayl Karadjian’s bio: Kayl Karadjian is a lifelong fan of Science-Fiction and Fantasy books, Manga, and Role-playing games. He is the author of multiple books in the Tales of Ashkar and Dragonsoul series.
Catch updates and follow me on social media here:
Simplify Your Life from the INSIDE OUT: The 7 Keys to Finding Inner Peace
“I just wish things could be simpler!” If that has been your lament, and if you still haven’t found anything that really helps…or lasts…you are not alone.
As the world gets busier and faster, your life can easily become more complicated, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In Simplify Your Life from THE INSIDE OUT: The 7 Keys to Finding Inner Peace, you will find the practical and effective advice that you’ve been seeking:
✔ How to rediscover the peaceful way to live.
✔ How to recognize and overcome the barriers to a life of simplicity.
✔ The 7 Keys that will guide you in your journey and help you stay on your path.
A Unified Plan to Address Your Problems At Their Core
Most approaches to simplifying your life focus on the tangible and visible ‘stuff’ in your life, which although important, is just not enough.
The real issues lie beneath the surface: In the false beliefs and assumptions you hold about the way life works. What you’re looking for are real solutions to your real problems, not band aids.
Discover the Way to Inner Peace – Solutions Found In Life, Not In the Textbook
Have you tried following the advice of ‘experts’ in the field, but it seemed distant and disconnected from your reality? In this book you will:
✔ Read real stories about real people…just like you.
✔ Learn how each problem was faced… and solved.
✔ Discover simple rules to apply in your daily life that work.
Unlock the Doors and Overcome the Barriers That Stand Between You and the Life of Simplicity That You Want.
Author Mark Wayne Smith shares with you the powerful, life changing lessons he learned when confronted with his own personal moment of awakening and found a way to a simpler life. The essence of that life is this:
Living in simplicity and peace is your natural state; it’s how you were created to live.
You don’t have to learn or master anything new: you only need to unlearn the years of complexity that the world has taught you, one layer at a time.
A New Look At Recovery from Drug and Alcohol Addiction with Promising Results
Based on the real-life experiences of the author, a recovering alcoholic himself, this book offers invaluable help to those in recovery.
The lessons of the 7 Keys will work for everyone, but if you or your loved one are in recovery, these lessons will provide invaluable help in building better relationships.
A Book That You Should Read At Least Once In Your Lifetime
· Written in simple and straightforward language.
· Real life examples of how each key has been applied, and the results achieved.
· Practical ‘first steps to take’ for each key to help you get started today.
· A Christian perspective to everyday problems, found in the Scriptures.
· A clear plan for you to return to the simple and peaceful life you once enjoyed.
As you learn the lessons of the 7 Keys and follow the steps in the plan, you will discover a whole new way of living your life by discarding old beliefs and questioning the rules that never really were true.
Simplify Your Life from Inside Out by Mark Wayne Smith is a great tool. A must have for all. This book was wonderfully woven in a way that walks readers through different situations. It’s like getting a sneak peak into what’s really going on in spcertain circumstances as well as how to see the whole picture. It’s hard when the reader is the one in those situations but when reading the stories, it gives a clear idea. Like not being able to see and then suddenly, wham, lights are on…Simplify Your Life makes understanding easy. I felt myself connecting to both the writer and the stories he has cleverly written for me. Real world issues defined with real world situations. I loved that about this book the most. Step-by-step readers can become closer to facing their problems and overcoming them. Finding that balance that takes all the weight off one’s shoulders. Overall, I enjoyed reading the 7 keys and following the writer inside this book. I highly recommend it to all.
ULM: What inspired you to write Reflections of a Soul?
JMD: I was told that I couldn’t and that I wouldn’t amount to much by a close relative. So I did it, I wrote a book.
ULM: How long have you been writing poems?
JMD: Since I was a teenager, 12 or 13 years old.
ULM: Which of your poems inside Reflections of a Soul was your favorite?
JMD: They all have a special sentiment to me, but if I had to choose I would say there are two that are my favorite. “I AM”, which is the last poem in the book is an empowering poem about being who you are, being proud and accepting of that.
“Daddy’s Little Girl” is the first poem to open the book and I chose that poem because it was something that I never experienced as a child. My mom did an amazing job raising my brother and I as a single parent, but the not knowing what my father was like was always a curiosity to me.
ULM: Are there more poems you have written besides the ones inside your latest book?
JMD: I do have more poems, and I try to write often. Writing is cathartic for me, most times I just write down what or how I’m feeling and I wont go back to it for days or weeks later.
ULM: How would you describe your writing using only three words?
JMD: Simple, Contemplative and Flawed.
ULM: Do you have more works coming out soon? If so, can you share with us, readers, what those will be and when they’ll be published?
JMD: I have some works in progress. I’m working on a children’s book and another book, but I’m not quite sure of its format just yet. I am hoping by the end of the year to have one or both books published.
ULM: Have you published other volumes of poetry?
JMD: My first poem was published when I was 16 years old in a book with varies poets, but Reflections is my first book.
ULM: What advice would you give to other poets?
JMD: I would say to never give up on yourself and never let any one person keep you from your destiny. If you want to write, write. Your words are worthy of being read.
ULM: Where can readers find your work online?
JMD: Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Inkwater Books
ULM: What lead you to writing your first novel, Irony of Time?
Three years ago I found myself at a point in my life where I was trying to figure out more about myself. I had just come off of participating in the Avon Breast Cancer 2-day Walk where I had been training, with my two best friends, for 6 months prior to the walk. It was a wonderful experience to do something that was more than my own world. But when the walk ended my one friend got busy with her new house. My other friend had a new job. I was now off for the summer since I teach and my two children were old enough to have their own lives, interest and summer activities all lined up. I found myself wondering what more there was to me than a teacher, mother and wife. What else could I do? I wallowed in that for two weeks until one morning I awoke from a very vivid dream. The kind of dream that makes you sit up quickly and think Wow! That was interesting! I wanted to know more about these two characters that were in my dream. I wanted to know what happened to them after the one made such a dramatic decision. I sat there for awhile thinking of this dream then Stephenie Myers came to mind and how she wrote the whole Twilight Series stemming off her dream. I thought if she could do it, I certainly could give it a try. I thought I might get maybe 50 pages, but the moment I sat down at my computer to type, that first scene from my dream poured out of me and these characters came to life. That became chapter one of Irony. It was then that I remembered I use to have a passion for writing. I wrote all the time when I was younger up until college. It was then my passion turned to teaching young children. By the end of that summer I had finished the first round of the book which was almost 300 pages.
ULM: Inside of Irony of Time, your character, Miriam, goes through a journey of redemption. What was it like creating her?
Miriam was exciting to bring to life. I knew her name right away. The arc of her character was fun to write because I got to show at different ages. First at the age of 26 she was an amnesiac, but living so blissfully with only the current year memories to sustain her. She had found happiness away from something tragic that had happened in her past that still haunted her dreams. She was feisty and ready to discover everything and anything about herself. She wasn’t afraid to take charge even with her lover, the mysterious physicist, Dr. Ian Stone, who was shrouded in a lot of secrets himself.
Then I got to write her as a 16 year old when she traveled back in time. Not only was she a 16 year old, but this teenager with all her memories back intact, having the mind and experiences of a 26 year old, but a body of a young girl. Could you image? It was challenging to bring that to life, but fun. Now she was in a race against time trying to prevent that one tragic event that had spiraled her whole life out of control. She was on the cusp of the one event that destroyed her family-this family she now remembers and treasures.
The range of her emotions through this journey hit every possible level as she had to rediscover her inner self over and over again, working through the weaknesses that broke her down when utter heartbreak occurred to discovering and using her strengths to overcome the pain, betrayal and despair. She used all this to really find her true self.
ULM: What were your thoughts when bringing to life, Dr. Ian Stone?
Now, this character was a little different. He wasn’t as clear to me in the dream. I knew he was there. I saw what he did, but he was a mystery to me. One I wanted to figure out. I did not have a name for him until many chapters into the book. I left blank lines or used a pronoun. I researched and made a list of mysterious male names. Ironically, his name actually did not come off that list, but all of the males (except William) from Book two, Hope With Stickers, did. I really loved the name Damian for him, but Vampire Dairies had that name for their seductive, mysterious, sometimes evil, character. I love the actor who portrays Damian, Ian Somerhalder, so finally I just decided to use his first name. To be brutally honest, I visualized Ian Somerhalder whenever I was writing a chapter with Dr. Stone in it.
Dr. Ian Stone is a character I wanted readers to be confused about at first, uneasy, not sure what to think kind of feelings. Maybe then a sort of liking occurs. Next all of a sudden hate his guts. Then for the rest of the story find yourself in a hate-love relationship with him. My goal by the end is for readers to land solidly on one of those feelings, but if they’re still on the fence then when they read the first chapter of Book Two and gain some clarity with what he did and what would happened if he didn’t, that seals the deal for them.
ULM: Inside book 2 (Hope with Stickers), readers really get to meet Hope. A mother who lost her child. What lead you to this specific plot?
Hope showed up towards the end of Book one. She is only there for one and half pages, but she makes a dramatic impact as she actually detours the time traveling Miriam from a path where abuse would have entered her life again. I instantly knew there was more to this woman’s story. I thought that it would be so interesting to find out what would have happened to Hope and her run away daughter if she never met Miriam during her time traveling journey and then the complete altered path her life took because she did cross paths with a time traveler. I purposely left out 14 missing days in Irony because I knew what was going on with Miriam during that time and how Hope played a bigger part than just one and half pages, but that would not be discovered until book two.
ULM: Hope with Stickers is an interesting read. Can you share with us, readers, who the Novaks are? Especially, Rylas Novak.
Ah, Rylas. He is a character you love to hate and then hate that you love him.
Not to give too much away concerning the paranormal aspects of this series, but the Novaks are a mysterious family of private investigators. Quade and Declan are brothers and Rylas is their cousin. They run their operation in secret out of their nightclub, Taboo, in North Carolina. They have a connection to Ian because they once enlisted Ian’s help with a case they were working on many years back. Declan is the strong leader of the group who manages everything the way he see fit for the good of their kind. Quade is the misunderstood, humorous misfit of the group. That leaves Rylas— the tortured, bruiting, cocky but handsome detective that takes an odd interest in Hope for there is something about her that begins to shatter his whole world.
ULM: What are you other hobbies besides writing?
I have a passion for teaching. I teach first grade and have taught for over 15+ years now. My other passions are reading and cooking.
ULM: How would you describe Hope with Stickers using only three words?
Textured, memorable, heartfelt
ULM: What themes can readers find in your work?
I think in the Irony of Time series there is a theme for almost anyone. There is the bond of family love with a focus on sibling love that sometimes only seems to occur either later in life or after a tragedy. That leads to the theme of making each moment count now by appreciating and loving one another. Other themes include overcoming tragedy, finding self-worth, redemption and forgiveness. Romance and passion wind itself through all the themes.
All my stories have a curve ball somewhere that comes out of left field when you least expect it because that is what I love to read.
ULM: If your novels were to become movies, who do you see playing Miriam, Hope, Dr. Ian Stone, Rylas, Declan, Quade, Carly, Lisa, and Miranda?
To be honest, I only ever had Ian Somerhalder in mind for Ian.
Rylas, I feel needs to be someone new and hot, but if I had to pick then maybe a cross between Josh Holloway and Charlie Hunnam, but with black hair.
In the book Miriam describes Hope as a Cheryl Tiegs almost 40-years-old looking waitress. So, someone similar to her since she is a model and not an actress.
The rest, I simply cannot think of a current actor that would fit my visual of what he/she looks like.
ULM: You have a third novel coming out soon. Can you share with us, readers, what Heart of Mine is about?
Heart of Mine is the third and final book in this series. It is divided into several parts. The beginning and the end parts comes from the point of view of a surprising character that is really the heart of this whole series. The middle is how all the stories and central characters from each book come back together in a very unique way. All three books tightly intertwine each other in so many ways that readers will encounter those aha! Moments throughout each book as scenes and events unfold which trigger a new understanding and realization concerning something from one of the previous books. Even from the biggest of moments to the smallest of minute details, there are hidden secrets being slowly revealed.
Book three wraps it all up in one big, I-didn’t-see-that-coming bow.
ULM: Any other projects to come out after your third novel?
Yes, over my Christmas break I began writing my fourth book. It is about a young, first year teacher….go figure. Well, I wanted to write about something I know a lot about. There is romance, possibly a love triangle…hint, hint. It is humorous, but there is a central tragedy that has occurred. This form of tragedy is a worry that plagues the mind of all teachers everywhere and one in which some have endured.
ULM: What is it like teaching? Did this influence your stories?
Teaching is like having a job you can never leave. I mean that in every sense of the phrase. I mean I can’t see myself ever leaving teaching until they push me out the door. Because it brings me joy and satisfaction through interacting with children as I help them grow, learn and achieve, but also there is never a punch-out clock. Even as I type these answers I’m watching the time and thinking of my lesson plans I have to finish for next week, systematically filing through the five days and the subjects of math, social studies, science, reading and writing. Then there is the pile of journals I need to assess tonight (while I am mentally preparing for a week of two different formal individual assessments in reading, I need to give each of my 24 students). A coworker said she even teaches in her sleep, which her husband can verify because of what she says out loud.
My favorite subject to teach has always been writing. I love being a part of their growth as a writer from September through May. The magic that would happen there in their writing would be one of my joys.
Now, I don’t think the first three books where influenced by my teaching, but more of an escape. I needed to demand a punch out clock for short periods of time. Even in the summertime between online courses I had to find a way of escaping into another world with imaginary adults and events I could control. It was a way to get lost.
Now my fourth book is heavily influenced by teaching as I previously mentioned.
ULM: What is your advice to other writers?
Writing, editing, formatting and publishing (self-publishing) are the easy parts. It is the marketing that is the biggest challenge. Get out there now, before your book is going to be published, before the formatting, before the editing and writing. Get out there and get seen, be heard, while you are thinking about becoming a published writer. Build your writer’s platform NOW.
ULM: Where can readers find you and your books online?
Book one and two, The Irony of Time series, are both found on Amazon.com, my website and Goodreads
You can also learn more about me and what’s going on by following me at:
When food writer David Dominé buys a three-story Victorian house, little does he know it is located in an enchanted neighborhood, one full of gargoyles and gas lamps, hidden courtyards, towers, turrets, and gingerbread trim. The 1890s structure he will call home becomes known as La Casa Fabulosa–or the fabulous house in Spanish–because of its elaborate façade. His is just one of hundreds of striking dwellings in an area famous for its fanciful architecture and 19th-century charm, however. The neighborhood is also replete with colorful characters–an assortment of vagrants, cross-dressers, gypsies, and random misfits that make life interesting, to say the least. There are even rumors of modern-day witches and voodoo queens. When strange noises and puzzling smells start to keep him awake at night, and bizarre coincidences punctuate his days, he discovers that enchantment can take many different forms. The oddballs and oddities, the weird and wonderful he encounters in this enchanted neighborhood come to life in Voodoo Days at La Casa Fabulosa.
Voodoo Days at La Casa Fabulosa by David Domine is a unique memoir. His writing isn’t anything like others that I have read. If I didn’t know it was nonfiction, I would have thought it was a novel. The creativity and exciting scenes leaves readers with amazing visuals. I can see the writer as each moment happened. His thoughts about how strange everything was…as well as the unexpected outcomes. I love anything with a history. It seems the place the writer bought as his new home, has a ton of it. The architecture is the best. I can only imagine the stories behind it. The characters are eccentric. But they make the reading enjoyable. Some scary, mysterious, and hilarious details will keep readers intrigued. The title of this book also, caught my attention. It pulled me into its contents and from there I was on a journey. Exploring those around the main character. From neighbors to animals, there’s a bit of everything you can and couldn’t imagine. The humor is great. I definitely enjoyed reading Voodoo Days at La Casa Fabulosa, and I highly recommend it to others.
Me: What are some messages that you hope readers will take with after reading your book?
I hope that they may come to believe that maybe there is a better place, a better existence out there, waiting for us when we die.
That it is inhabited by a being most wonderful in every way.
If we lead a good life here on earth (because that is his will), that we may in so doing make ourselves better people and the earth a better place.
Me: Do you think that there will ever be a time when Americans will truly forget/abandon God?
I pray that that will not happen and my book is an effort to try to stem and reverse that trend.
A lot of my book contains thoughts that are not really my own, that is, they just came to me, in the middle of the night, on the train, or at work (and I believe that these are inspired by God).
And I also think that things may be better than we think.
Unfortunately, the main stream news media only think that bad things are news and that there is an awful lot of good stuff going on to, whether it be with Religion or just things in general.
Me: If Americans continue at the rate that they are going now, what are your predictions for the future?
While we are a very long way from it, if we continue down the road of selfishness, division and partisanship, we could be heading for an implosion, perhaps a violent one.
And no matter what your position or beliefs, no one but crazy people can want that to happen.
And again I see signs of change and good things happening, good people happening (of all types) and that keeps my hopes alive.
Me: You mention that many religions have a lot in common. What are some common grounds that they seem to share.
That there is just one supreme being, one God and for many of us that is the God of Abraham.
That there is a heaven or paradise awaiting us.
That we all require purification and need to work on that while we are here in this world.
And as part of that, that we need to help others, especially the less fortunate.
Me: Would you say that your degree in Economics has greatly affected your thoughts when writing this book?
I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, which means that while Economics was my major, I really have a Liberal Arts degree.
And that means that I had classes in Philosophy, History and Literature and those were more instrumental than Economics in writing my book.
Me: If you can give others advice what would it be?
We are physical beings, be more into doing than showing and/or sharing.
Try to enjoy your life as best you can (it goes by so very quickly).
You need to work but try and find something that you can take some enjoyment and pride out of and develop more proficiency and expertise (those last will help you to stay employed).
Find activities that you enjoy.
And find out what your talents are and pursue and develop them.
Me: After reading your book, I am curious. Where do you see the millennials leading our country?
It is a very difficult question to answer on different levels.
First of all, I do not look at Millennials as a homogeneous group of people.
They define a generation as roughly twenty years but the truth is, that there are generational differences between people born even several years a part.
So I look at Millennials as being split into a least two groups, those being born at the being of what is considered Millennial and those born later (I am at the head of the baby boomers and my brother born five years later has some different values).
I know many of the early Millennials and probably very few of the later ones.
Those early ones seem to have values similar to mine but I have concerns about the later ones, whom seem to be to be too immersed in technology but that perception is likely more based upon their portrayal in the general Media, than personal interactions on my part.
Those I do know, whether early or later, again seem to have good values, so I do not have any concerns and feel that they will lead our country in the proper direction.
Me: What other hobbies besides writing do you enjoy that you can share with us readers?
You know I am an older guy and played and participated in pretty much every sport and activity you can think of when I was younger.
When I was Fifty-five, I bought a large motorcycle and was privileged to take some cross country trips, which were great adventures (unfortunately I just very recently had to sell my motorcycle – just getting to old and felt that I was maybe pushing my luck, as a very dangerous activity to partake of).
So now that leaves me with singing.
I sign (karaoke) two to three times a weeks and have sung with bands and professional performers and have actually made two CD’s and have plans to do another.
Me: Do you have any future writing projects at the moment that you can tells us about?
I am working on another book and it is about America.
The concept of America and what exactly it means to be an American.
It will include historical details on our founding fathers (I don’t think people understand what a brilliant group of people they were (most of them were geniuses) and what they personally risked in leading the revolution).
And it will also delve into what the Constitution really means.
Me: Where can readers find you and your work on line?
My work is available on Amazon, Google Play, Barnes & Noble, I-Tunes and I believe also Kindle.
I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author Brittany Weekley – The Secret Life of Thomas Commons
I never thought I would be writer. I wrote poems and attempted a novel at the age of 14, but it quickly ended when I entered high school. I wouldn’t write again until I was in my mid-20s.
I viewed a writing career as many others did, unpractical. I worked low paying jobs, quit college, and focused on a future that seemed so bleak. Then, something in me changed. I broke the chains that society had me trapped in, and I started my first novel, The Secret Life of Thomas Commons.
From the moment I began writing Thomas, I have found it difficult to explain his story. I can never do his story justice through a simple five minute explanation. The themes and the issues that my characters go through in this book simply have to be read from Thomas’s perspective to be fully appreciated. Although I am the creator, it felt like I was falling away from that position. My characters seemed to take on a life of their own; they became their own person with my help.
The idea for this book came to me after seeing the changes taking place within our society. The hardships endured today made me curious about the hardships people would have faced centuries ago. The more research I did, the more horrified I became. There were days I would weep for the innocent lives lost because of a lack of understanding and compassion.
How the ending of this book is interpreted depends on the reader. It’s not the traditional happily ever after. I chose to do this because it’s crucial to highlight the importance of the reality of their situation as well as those who lived through it centuries ago. To put it plainly, life is cruel. We don’t always get what we want, and in the end, that can shatter the human spirit. However, not all is lost. As we have all heard more than once, with the bad comes the good. Things may not turn out exactly how we wish them to, but those hardships can lead us down a path of learning, acceptance, and necessary change.
The Secret Life of Thomas Commons is about the emotional struggles of Mr. Thomas Franklin Commons and Mr. Wesley Tobias Ashfield as they battle their tragically structured upbringing and predetermined lives. Mr. Thomas Franklin Commons is a wealthy, but bitter twenty-two year old man living in London, England when he meets Mr. Wesley Tobias Ashfield, a cheerful and charming young man whom he is soon to enter into business with. However, Thomas is soon caught off guard when Wesley’s friendly nature gradually begins to warm his frigid temperament, and their friendship becomes more than either of them expected.
As their relationship evolves from friendship to love, they find themselves caught up in a romance that transcends infatuation and gives way to dangerous consequences. The feelings of both men are tested when they’re arrested for sodomy and imprisoned for their alleged crimes against the nature of human sexuality. Thomas and Wesley’s affect on each other becomes so strong that their feelings give way to a slow epiphany that neither of them may come out alive. Both men are thrown into the reality of their situation when they must make decisions based on what is realistic or where their happiness for themselves and one another, truly lies.
The Secret Life of Thomas Commons by Brittany Weekley is a captivating read. For fans of M/M romance then this, is definitely for you. Putting that aside, the plot is magnificent. It captures the elements of the time period perfectly. Brittany Weekley has also managed to show a realistic yet believable encounter of both characters’ dilemma. Same sex relationships back then and still even now, struggle to live their love life. (While I don’t encourage it, I don’t shun those people out. Taught to love and accept accept others.) The novel has strong emotional pulls that lure readers deep into the fate of each man. Both Mr. Thomas and Mr. Wesley have ways of capturing the audience’s hearts. Sympathy for them is felt full blast. Society has strictly punished them for simply being in love. Denying one’s heart is impossible and forced when in this situation. Strong men dealing with their time period the best they can. Survival isn’t easy. But it has both men rethinking on how to move forward so that each can be free. I wanted to cry. I felt their frustrations. It was so real…that readers would feel that they are merely glancing into the past versus reading the magical worlds coming to life. Every page was intense. Thomas Commons is the one telling the story. He ends up being my new favorite gay character. The troubles that came the character’s ways were heart felt. I see the talent of Brittany a Weekley shinning forth on every single page. Three-dimensional characters, interesting historical tale, and a romance that readers won’t forget. I highly recommend The Secret Life of Thomas Commons to all.
Do you remember the last time you had one life-changing, earth-shaking realization? A piece of insight that came to you like a thunderbolt and changed you forever. In moments like that, we remember the event in great detail, through all of our senses. For me, it was the spring of 2015. I was sitting at home on the couch in the living-room. My son was pushing some trains around in my husband’s office and I could hear the wrenches and the hammers and I don’t know what else making noise in the garage as my husband was changing the oil in my car. It was the perfect morning. I had the perfect life, the perfect partner and the perfect child. But I myself felt far from perfect. I struggled with dark thoughts of anger towards myself and others, profound insecurities about myself and a sense of powerlessness that felt awfully close to depression. I was filled with fear and worry about all kinds of things – some real but mostly imaginary. The irony was that I had been waiting for a morning just like that for decades, thinking that when I had everything in place “just so”, those dark clouds would dissipate and I would live happily ever after. The revelation that I had that morning on the couch was this: I had had my “happily ever after” and I still was not happy. I finally understood, right then and there, what they mean when they say that happiness is an inside job. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I had to find a way to feel happy. The outside circumstances were there. I just could not feel good anymore.
I spent many years reading whole libraries of self-help and psychology. I even saw a shrink for a couple of years. While all of that helped, somehow I found myself bouncing back into my old insecure, mildly (or moderately… or more…) depressed and powerless sense of self. I had good reasons, mind you… or so it seemed. I lost my dad to cancer when I was 10, after which my mom became severely depressed and later on sent me away from home to live with strangers. I had a sliver of self-esteem left and not much help in battling the dragons back then. Somehow though, I found my way to a lot of goodness. I went to school. I explored passions like writing and music. I had life-long friends. I became a teacher. Then, after what seemed like a very long search, I found my way to my husband and then my son. The dark clouds followed me there too though.
That morning on the couch, when I understood that I had to find a way to feel happy, I also understood something else: I had forgotten (for lack of a better word) how to literally feel happy. It had become a habit to “feel bad”. My body was used to it. I was literally addicted. But I say “forgotten” because I could remember a time when I felt happy: it was very, very far back and I was very, very small.
“What do I need?” I asked myself. If literally feeling good was what I needed, how did I go about feeling good on purpose? I had tried faking it before… pretending to be joyful and hoping that it might stick. But pretending did not work. It had to be genuine. So then… what next?
I felt tired, exhausted even. I felt like a rat that had been running on the treadmill for decades, trying to chase away unhappiness. Perhaps I could just stop for a few minutes… give up the struggle altogether. I settled into that comfortable couch of ours and tried to think of nothing but this: comfort. I wanted to be comfortable and enjoy it just a bit. My mind wondered. I thought about all the ways in which I had comfort on my life… in our lovely home, in the car that I drive and all the modern appliances that help make life so much easier. I thought about the blessing of having a bit of comfort for someone who is in pain. It was so very close to happiness… and so was I. Modest, ordinary comfort.. The comfort of a soft pillow, of running water and of having a fork to eat with.
I felt a bit better and left it at that. I was done struggling. But I had liked my little “comfort meditation” so much that the next day I tried “curiosity”. I love that feeling. I love the searches, the wild trips into the imagination, the explorations of the world. I love looking at curious children or curious animals. I love curious people and watching them explore. Curiosity, as it turned out, was part of happiness too.
That week and the weeks that followed I tried some other feelings: adoration, satisfaction, tenderness and more. At times I had to stretch myself, because I had run out of “good feelings”. My “good feelings muscles” had atrophied. But they were coming back to life. My life transformed. It inexplicably transformed.
In the months that followed I realized that somehow I had found my way to being well inside my head – and body too. I had discovered how to “be happy” – in a very real way. I had taught myself how to feel good on purpose and whenever I wanted. I felt good a lot of the time and then most of the time and then… the dark clouds became as rare as rain in the desert.
I wrote “The Happiness Switch” to teach others about all this – about the emotions that make up “happiness” and how to cultivate them on purpose.. Depression and anxiety hit everyone at some point. I really wanted to share my process in order to help others who struggled. Personal experiences are inspiring.
But this is not the first book that I wrote.
You will forgive me if I use the word “revelation” too much, but as it happened, I spent a lot of time contemplating my life and trying to make it work during those days, so I had some other insights that helped me find my balance. They came from my experiences as a teacher.
I have worked with hundreds of kids as young as 4 and as old as 16. I have worked with hundreds of adults from all walks of life. I seemed to have a knack for putting them at ease. Sometimes I had to deal with difficult ones (children and adults) – but they have taught me the most about what they need in order to heal. They have also taught me much about all the ways in which we are all the same: we are born healthy and whole, filled with love and enthusiasm and without a trace of “dark clouds”. Self-love and self-esteem are non-issues. They are so much there, in the very beginning, that they seem ordinary somehow.
There is a “sap” inside humans that guides us towards what is good and nourishing for us. A “sap” that loves us and wants all the goodness in the world for us. If the flow of the sap is restricted, the problems start. Harsh environments would do that. A lack of love or proper care would do that. But the connection can never be completely severed. It’s just impossible. This is why it was possible for me to go back to the “happiness juice” – to all those lovely feelings. This is how “Your Inner Child is a Winner” came to life. That was the foundation, in a way, for “The Happiness Switch”.
Those two books describe a way of life. My way of living happily. In health and in love and in joy. I live very differently in my head now – and in my body too. I am not only happier, but also more connected to life. I feel more loved. I feel more loving too – there is more of “me” available and present and capable of giving. There are other things too. Procrastination just dropped away – it was really only fear in disguise. My writing career took off. It feels as if the sap inside of me is flowing freely. I can feel it in my veins. It is so very good…
I have seen a lot of suffering in my life – and I have suffered a lot. I wrote those two books to share my experiences and to say to others: “There is a way out. You were built with a well of goodness and of love inside, that can guide you to your best life. You can always find your way back to it. You can feel good – simply because you decide that you are going to. Love and goodness were never lost. They are only a thought away.”
Christine Ellis is a teacher and writer. She lives with her husband and young son in an enchanted forest close to Brussels, in the chocolate-filled kingdom of Belgium. You can find all of her books on Amazon or through her blog, http://www.findgoodfeelings.wordpress.com.
Author Interview with John Sibley Williams
Me: How does it feel to be a five-time Pushcart nominee? What were your thoughts?
I am honored to know so many magazines and presses believe in my work. It’s always a bit of a shock, but the joy never diminishes.
Me: After reading Disinheritance, a collection your poetry in one brilliant book, what inspired each piece? Or inspired you to write the poems?
Disinheritance was inspired by a few pivotal moments that occurred within a few months of each other, namely the illness and passing of my mother, a terrible miscarriage, and my wife and I’s struggles to move forward and redefine the landscape of “family”. To explore grief more fully in this collection, I adopted various unique voices, like those of our miscarried child, the hypothetical boy he might have grown up to be, my mother in her last moments, and my wife as she struggled to cope.
So Disinheritance shows a far more personal side than most of my poetry, though I hope the poems speak to larger, universal human concerns about how we approach mortality and what roles we play in each other’s’ lives.
Me: I noticed that you have written several other anthologies. Can you share with us, readers, what the titles are of those anthologies?
Sure. My other full length collection is Controlled Hallucinations. It was published in 2013 by FutureCycle Press. Before that, I had a number of chapbooks published through various presses.
Me: Is it difficult to put an anthology of poems together?
Absolutely. I have always struggled with organizing my poetry collections. Which poems should be included? Which cut? How to organize them to create a feeling of cohesiveness? Are there poems you love, perhaps that have even won awards, that simply don’t match the themes of the collection as a whole? Most collections go through a series of revisions before reaching a point where the poet feels comfortable submitting them to publishers. And if enough publishers reject it, the question becomes: what have I done wrong? What can I revise to strengthen it?
Me: Using three words, how would you describe your most recent anthology of poetry, Disinheritance?
Lyrical. Heart-breaking. Honest.
Me: Would you highly recommend writers to submit their works to places to win awards?
That’s a good question. I’ve read numerous articles about the pros and cons of submitting to awards, and both arguments make valid points. For example, it’s true that awards can be costly (often between $10 and $30 per submission), and these costs can add up quickly. It’s also true that any poem or book is up against hundreds (or thousands) of others, so competition is fierce. However, if you win or are nominated for an award, that does carry significant weight; award-winning authors tend to be taken more seriously by publishers and readers, and, of course, most awards carry substantial cash prizes. So it’s a mixed bag.
My recommendation for emerging poets and writers is to hone your craft before spending money on contests. Submit first to magazines and acquire a number of notable publications. Once enough editors have shown interest in your work, then perhaps it is contest-worthy. That is not to say new authors without publication experience aren’t amazingly talented. But, as writers, we tend to have a skewed opinion of our own work. I’ve been submitting to contests for most of my writing life, winning one or two a year at most. Those years, I spent far more on submissions than I made back on prize money. Only recently have I consistently won enough awards to financially warrant the expense. However, it’s not about finances. The bottom line is not money so much as exposure. If you love your work and have spent decades honing it, in the end, I would argue it’s worth the time, effort, and expense to submit to contests.
Me: You have won several awards and credits. How does this affect your job as an editor?
I’m not sure if my own accolades, or those of my co-editor, per se affect our editorial work. Hopefully it gives authors who submit to our magazine some confidence in our ability to select powerful poetry, but many of our published authors have similar awards and credentials.
Me: Out of all of your poems, which three are your top favorite?
I honestly can’t say which of all my poems resonate the strongest with me, but in Disinheritance the three poems that still make me tremble when I read them are “I Go to the Ruined Place,” “Teething,” and “A Dead Boy Speaks to His Parents.”
Me: When did you first begin to write poetry?
I’m lucky to have been passionate about books since childhood. Perhaps it’s in part due to my mother reading novel after novel over her pregnant belly every day. Perhaps it’s in part due to my own restlessness, my need to make things, and my love of words. But I began writing short stories in middle school, and I continued in that genre until my early twenties. A handful of those stories found publication in literary magazines, which was eye-opening and oddly humbling.
I was 21 when I wrote my first poem. Before that, I had never enjoyed reading poetry and had certainly never considered writing one. It was summer in New York and I was sitting by a lake with my feet dragging through the current caused by small boats when suddenly, without my knowing what I was doing, I began writing something that obviously wasn’t a story. What was it? Impressions. Colors. Emotions. Strange images. I didn’t have any paper, so I used a marker to write a series of phrases on my arm. Then they poured onto my leg. Then I realized I needed paper. I ran back to the car, took out a little notebook, and spent hours emptying myself of visions and fears and joys I don’t think I even knew I had. That was 17 years ago. Since that surreal and confusing moment by that little city lake, I’ve written poetry almost every day.
Me: What was the first award you won for your outstanding writing skills?
Gosh, it was so long ago that I must apologize if I get the details incorrect. But I believe the first time my work was honored with an award was about twenty years ago, when I was eighteen-years-old. One of my prose pieces won Best Short Story in the undergraduate magazine Voices. I still remember the shock and honor of discovering something I created actually resonated with strangers. I hope I never forget that feeling.
Me: Do you have any works in progress at the moment, if so, can you share it with us, readers?
I have two upcoming collections, both quite different in styles and purpose. I recently completed a chapbook titled Skin Memory, which combines free verse and prose poetry to explore human connects and disconnects as they relate to culture and family. The other project, which I’m currently working on, is titled Road to the Sky.
Me: What tips would you share with other poets?
There’s a reason “keep writing, keep reading” has become clichéd advice for emerging writers; it’s absolutely true. You need to study as many books as possible from authors of various genres and from various countries. Listen to their voices. Watch how they manipulate and celebrate language. Delve deep into their themes and characters and take notes on the stylistic, structural, and linguistic tools they employ. And never, ever stop writing. Write every free moment you have. Bring a notebook and pen everywhere you go (and I mean everywhere). It’s okay if you’re only taking notes. Notes are critical. It’s okay if that first book doesn’t find a publisher. There will be more books to come. And it’s okay if those first poems aren’t all that great. You have a lifetime to grow as a writer.
Do we write to be cool, to be popular, to make money? We write because we have to, because we love crafting stories and poems, because stringing words together into meaning is one of life’s true joys. So rejections are par for the course. Writing poems or stories that just aren’t as strong as they could be is par for the course. But we must all retain that burning passion for language and storytelling. That flame is what keeps us maturing as writers.
Me: Where can readers find you and your work online?
Thanks so much for asking. All my books are available via the usual online shops and in plenty of independent bookstores, though I have far more information, including newly published poems, on my website: https://johnsibleywilliams.wordpress.com.
Author Interview with Scott Burn
Me: How did it feel when you finished your debut novel, The Enemy Within?
The idea of finished is something that’s hard to get my head around. I remember about a year into the process I thought it was done. I showed it to my literary agent who thought it was great – and now it was time to roll up our sleeves and really get to work. I think it was another year before I was finally ready to put the pen down. But months later, I still sometimes find myself thinking about the story, about a character I might have added, about a moment that the lead character might experience. So I think it’s one of those things like a great relationship in the past that always keeps a tiny hold in your head even long after you’ve moved on to other things. That said, when I finally did stop working on it, it felt amazing and the story was what I had always wanted it to be.
Me: What led you to writing comics?
I’m a screenwriter first and foremost, and while I had always enjoyed the comic world, I had never looked to break into it. But the opportunity to do so pretty much fell in my lap. Film producers that had sold a project of mine came to me because they were working with a comic book company developing a new sci-fi project called AGON. They were looking for a screenwriter to shape the idea and frame it in a way that it could be reverse engineered into a feature film. The comic book company let me run with my approach and we did a 5 book mini-series. Hopefully one day the movie gods smile on it and the story finds its way to the screen.
Me: Can you share with us, readers, what your science fiction comic series Agon, is about?
AGON is story about what happens when an alien herald comes down to earth and tells us that we’ve reached a stage of enlightenment that has impressed their hierarchy of advanced civilizations. We’re invited to participate in their next series of games. But what they’re impressed by is not our technological or spiritual enlightenment, but our propensity for mass violence. The competition requires each emerging civilization to send 10 of their greatest warriors. The winning planet is gifted incredible rewards. The losers’ are wiped out. Our lead in the story isn’t a warrior, but is among them trying to discover a way to prevent the imminent destruction about to take place.
Me: What is it like going from comic book writing to writing screenplays?
I really enjoyed my experience in the comic book world. It’s a different way of thinking, where you literally have to map out frame by frame what your story is going to be. And it’s also a remarkably efficient form of writing where you have to find ways to express the story as minimally as possible while still maintaining the greatest impact. It’s a challenging adjustment and the writers who do it well are really gifted at that. Once I got my head around thinking that way, the stories came together well. Screenplay writing has certain similarities in that you want to enter each scene as late as possible and leave as early as you can so the story has a brisk pace. And while I don’t picture the way every single scene will look, I do like to have the way the basic frame will work and imagine it playing out in my head. So the comic book way of thinking helps to string those series of images together.
Me: Can you share with us, readers, some of the screenplay titles that you have done?
The interesting thing about Hollywood is you can make a living as a writer even if your projects haven’t yet been made. I have several projects in development at different studios. Hopefully one day one or all of them will wind their way through the maze into production. One of them is called COUNTDOWN – it’s about a group of astronauts who land on a distant planet and find their own dead bodies. The script is based on an old Richard Matheson short story called DEATH SHIP. Another is called Arena, about a group of Navy Seals about to die in a battle who suddenly find themselves transported to an arena where there are warriors from all different time periods. They have to figure out who brought them there and why while trying to escape. Another is called ORIGIN. It’s about what happens when a primordial black hole begins disrupting the time/space continuum around earth and the team that has to go up and find a way to destroy it.
Me: Which would you say is more difficult to do, comic books, screenplays or writing a novel?
I don’t think any of them are easy. And on different days each of them would win when I’m hitting my head against the wall on a given story. But I do tend to find that novel writing takes a certain kind of endurance I wasn’t expecting when I first set off on the journey. It’s exhausting, and if you think you can sprint through it, you find yourself spent long before you reach the finish line. It really is much more like marathon running and I had to train myself to think that way. In each of them you want there to be little treasure gems on every page that continue to pull the reader in, but never distract from the story. I found creating that balance most challenging in the novel world, but it’s also one of the reasons I’m such a proponent of rewriting. You work at a scene or chapter in a story over and over and keep finding new elements to make it better. I tend to have a greater sense of clarity about how to do that in the screenwriting world a little quicker than in the novel arena – which I found was much more about exploration and wandering down the wrong corridors until I found the right one.
Me: Do you enjoy writing comics or screenplays more?
The best thing about the comic book world was that within weeks of writing the final draft I was seeing art work connected to it. It was a pretty awesome feeling to see the words brought to life. But I tend to enjoy screenwriting more just because movies have been woven into my DNA since I was little. I don’t think there’s any better feeling than sitting in a theater and being blown away by a movie. It’s why I became a writer to begin with.
Me: Science fiction fantasy is a tough genre to write. What led you to writing a novel for the young adult category?
I had been wanting to do a story about teenage alienation for some time, and to stretch my wings on novel. One day I came across an interesting story about how NASA knows precisely how many satellites are orbiting earth at every moment of the day. I thought what would happen if we found one more than there should be. The outline for the story THE ENEMY WITHIN came together pretty quickly from there. I was familiar with some of the YA sci-fi novels out there and didn’t want mine to feel like a soap opera or a love triangle, but much more about what it’s really like to be teenagers who have always been on the outside looking in for different reasons. And I think that’s what’s led to people responding to it so well.
Me: What are your future works, if any, that you can share with us?
I’ve been working on the feature side about a story of convergence between the world of science and faith – how to the two are woven together in ways most people wouldn’t imagine. And I’ve been working on another novel whenever there’s time about a town that makes a Faustian deal, and the price they pay when they break it. Creepy fun.
Me: Using three words, how would you describe your writing style?
Pensive, playful, unexpected.
Me: Out of curiosity, how did you go from being a lawyer to a full-time writing career?
I had always wanted to write when I was young. I loved movies and novels and pretty much consumed my life with both. I started writing short stories. Most were awful, but some were just mediocre – I didn’t know about rewriting in those days. In college I started a literary journal and in law school had a secret underground newspaper. But being a lawyer seemed like a safer bet. And it was. While I never loved it, the work was perfectly fine. But I knew that I never would wake up and love it – eventually that feeling became too strong. I wrote a indie feature that got optioned for a few bucks. When that happened, I decided to take up writing full time. And fortunately I’m able to make a living at it.
Me: Inside the, The Enemy Within, which characters did you enjoy creating the most?
He’s a satellite character, but I really enjoyed a character named Kitamura, an attache to a Colonel. Although the spotlight isn’t on him, he has a wry sophistication and rare moments of humor that really came together in my head very quickly. His voice continually wanted to be heard and I found myself trying to find other ways to explore his character because he was so interesting (to me).
Me: As a professional writer, would advice would you give to aspiring writers?
The most important thing is make sure you have something to keep you going financially through the long journey. I knew more than a few writers who wanted to do it full time in Hollywood, went into debt and paid a really steep price. As much as time is important, I’ve found when you’re focused you don’t need many hours a day in a coffee shop.You can accomplish an incredible amount of work in 2 hours a day. But it’s really important you find a way to set those 2 hours aside, ideally at the same time each day. You need to train yourself that that’s writing time. Not writing and email time, not web surf and writing time, just writing. And whether the pages are good or bad, keep going. Don’t get caught up in the rewriting process until you’ve finished the draft, otherwise, you may never finish.
Me: When you write, what are your first thoughts when engaging a new project?
I don’t necessarily think this is the best way to do it, but for most of the projects I write, it all begins with a What if question. What if X happened or what if Y happened. From there I start to build out characters that might be the ones dealing with it. The first draft choices are usually obvious and terrible, but the more I chisel away at it, the world slowly comes together.
Me: Where can readers find you and your work online?
My website is: scottburn.xyz
THE ENEMY WITHIN is my first novel. They can also find my comic book AGON at some comic book shops. Unless they work in development, they probably won’t get to know my screenwriting until something gets made. I’m thinking about writing a single for Amazon at some point, but I’m not quite sure when that will be. Hopefully sooner than later. I have a What if percolating…
P.K.: A lot like this: https://media.giphy.com/media/DpB9NBjny7jF1pd0yt2/giphy.gif
How do you find balance between working life, your family and everything else?
P.K.: Have a forgiving spouse? I don’t do everything, I can’t. It’s just not possible. Thank god for a man who loves to cook and clean! My kids are getting older now so they need less of my focus and more of my driving skills, so I do a lot of reading in the car waiting for them. I don’t know how to organize it, I kind of just do it. I’m really walking talking chaos so I’m the wrong person to give advice on this.
Have any tips for those of us that work from home?
P.K.: I’d say the most important thing is to accept that you can’t do it all and not only is that okay, it’s normal and good.
IT STARTED TO RAIN AS they walked, but Norwood kept an impossible pace. Julip slipped and fell more than once, but he just kept going. She guessed he was right to hurry; they had to get back before nightfall so they didn’t get caught. Ma would be furious as it was, what with them gone missing for so much of the day.
The sky darkened despite it still being midday, and clouds rolled in behind them. Back home it would be a mess. Rain put everyone in a sour mood. The sea was too volatile to risk going out when it stormed, and while the rainwater was clean and safe, the ocean steeped in chemicals that could peel a person’s skin before too long. Their father had burning water scars up and down his arms and speckled across his face from working as a jellyfisher for so long. By comparison to other men who worked the sea, he had remained pretty intact.
The Cotillion was probably having a great time. Rain meant clean air and fresh water, for a little while at least. Sometimes if the rain came at the same time as a toxstorm, it would bring the fumes down to Earth, keeping everyone inside for days, sometimes weeks. The last time that happened, Julip had been nine and was forced to stay in her parents’ dwell with no one but her brother for nineteen straight days. The damage the fumes caused still marred the walls of the bedroom they shared.
The siblings had complained, begged to be allowed outside, but nothing they said or did would convince the adults to let them go. Only her father ventured out to pick up a daily ration of food and water from the Center-of-It-All. He would bundle up, covered from head to toe in fabric and plastic. Even his head was wrapped in one of her mother’s scarves, and his eyes hid behind goggles he’d made out of extra window plastic.
Thirteen people died during that storm, and two more were blinded. For months after, there was a rash of stillbirths on the reservation. The Daughters all agreed that the fumes had come down and poisoned the babes. It’d been five years since the last bad toxstorm whipped through Greenland, so one was due to come soon. Julip loved the cool rain as it soaked through her scarf. She uncovered her head and felt the water trickle down her face and saturate her hair. Parents would take the littlest kids on the rez outside, strip them, and scrub them red. Clean rain meant a real washing, not a quick, timed wipe-down with the gray water from the sinks.
Norwood pulled a canteen from his trouser pocket and caught drips of water from the oversized leaves surrounding them. The trees weren’t much taller than him, but the forest canopy closed in as they walked. Soon they walked on dry earth, and the only remaining evidence of the rain was the heaviness of her hair and the sound of water dripping on leaves high above.
“I’ve never been deep in the Wilds,” she said.
“Ya’ve never been shallow in the Wilds.”
“True, but there ain’t even words for this back home. It smells different, dirty, but my nose ain’t pained by it.”
“‘Cause it’s real. This dirt is from the Earth, not the toxes.”
“Why do we have so much tox on the rez if this is right here?”
“I dunno, but I reckon it’s ‘cause we’re human. People made the toxes. In some way, I guess it’s only right we live in ‘em.”
A howl rose from deep in the forest, and Julip yelped and bent down, trying to blend in, hide in the underbrush. Her legs wanted to give out, but she squeezed her eyes shut and demanded her body not betray her.
About the Book
They came as saviors to a deteriorating Earth
Julip Thorne questions whether there is more to life beyond the barren dirt, acidic seas, and toxstorms her people work and die in. Living in poverty on the withering Greenland Human Reservation, she wonders if the alien Mezna goddesses are truly as holy as the temple preaches. Julip begins to dig deeper into the history of the planet and her leaders’ rise to power. But nothing can prepare her for the atrocities she uncovers.
Meanwhile, Jakkattu prisoner Sabaal suffers constant torture and heinous medical experiments as her Mezna-priest captors seek to unlock the key to her genetic makeup. Escaping from captivity, she finds herself suddenly alone on the hostile alien planet of Earth. To survive, she’s forced to work with the same Mezna-human hybrids she’s loathed her entire life, but the more they work together, the more they realize that their enemy is the same.
When humans and Mezna collide, will Sabaal turn out to be the genetic vector the Mezna have been searching for all along, or will she spark the flame that sets a revolution ablaze?
P.K. Tyler is the author of Speculative Fiction and other Genre Bending novels. She’s also published works as Pavarti K. Tyler and had projects appear on the USA TODAY Bestseller’s List.
“Tyler is essentially the indie scene’s Margaret Atwood; she incorporates sci-fi elements into her novels, which deal with topics such as spirituality, gender, sexuality and power dynamics.” – IndieReader
Pav attended Smith College and graduated with a degree in Theatre. She lived in New York, where she worked as a Dramaturge, Assistant Director and Production Manager on productions both on and off-Broadway. Later, Pavarti went to work in the finance industry for several international law firms. Now located in Baltimore Maryland, she lives with her husband, two daughters and two terrible dogs. When not penning science fiction books and other speculative fiction novels, she twists her mind by writing horror and erotica.
You can follow PK Tyler on Facebook, Twitter, and sign up for her newsletter, or visit her website here.
He has just inherited his father’s estate upon returning from a long stint in the Army. Will he inherit smoothly.
Now, he faces a more terrifying prospect—he must marry right away or lose his inheritance.
Shawn William, Duke of Worthington, cousin to the Prince Regent and ruler of Fairbanks, has seen many things during his time in the Army. Death and dismemberment, pain and suffering, but nothing has prepared him for his return to life as a civilian. Haunted by the ghosts of his past and battling the inner demons that keep him from restful sleep, he must still find time to choose a Lady as his bride, as commanded by the Prince Regent.
Although there are dozens of eligible maidens in beautiful Fairbanks, he only has eyes for one—the ravishing Lady Elizabeth Dowling. Another man wants to pay court to her, but he’s willing to do whatever it takes, even a fight to the death, if it means that she will be his bride…
Will Duke Shawn finally meet his match in the form of the waspish older gentleman who has already asked for Lady Elizabeth’s hand and been denied?
Can Lady Elizabeth discover the true reason for her reluctance toward the handsome Duke of Fairfield before he chooses another bride—perhaps even her own sister?
This is a clean historical regency romance novel.
More for a Duke by Jessie Bennett is a dashing bold read. A Duke returns home to find all is not well with the family finances. A younger brother not knowing how to deal with the finances right, led to some some disorder and interruption into the elderly brother’s life. He returns back home, from war, and finds he must marry or else. This soon leads him to meeting a woman of his age who also, doesn’t like going to balls. But something transpires between them. Lady Elizabeth is fascinated with the Duke; however, her sister doesn’t want them together…and a particular man is also wanting the two new love birds separate.
A man who can forget a woman he’s just met, a woman who is undecided about a man, and another man who can’t take a hint…plus, jealousy comes into play. Jessie Bennett has entertained me again with her latest novel, More for a Duke. The title goes in hand with the tale perfectly. Both Duke and Lady are indeed a perfect match…
More for a Duke is sweet, innocent, and swoon worthy. Readers will blush, laugh, and fall in love with this great new read. Jessie Bennett’s writing clear, precise, and flawless. I highly recommend it.
SO YOU WROTE A SCREENPLAY
By Scott Burn
Awesome! Now here’s the sad news. Nobody cares.
Let me take a step back – every agent, manager and producer I know is desperate for good material. They would love to have that near perfect script that will become the next mega-hit or Oscar winner. They are also convinced that your script isn’t it. And the truth is, they are right 99% of the time.
I’m by no means a big writer. I’ve sold and optioned several projects at different studios. I’ve been hired to rewrite other people’s projects, and I’m fortunate enough to make my living solely as a writer. But I’ve never had a film made – the movie gods just have not smiled yet. Or another way to think of it – something was missing from the model.
And what is the model? That is the big question. One studio exec told me he’d much rather have a script with a big idea and a great ending than a script with a mediocre idea where every page was flawlessly written. What makes for that big idea, it’s something that an exec can go into his bosses office and say, “It’s about a group of astronauts that land on a planet and discover their own dead bodies…” His boss immediately gets the idea – he can see the movie in his head and boom, off to the races. That was one I sold years ago with my old writing partner based on a Richard Matheson short story. Perhaps one day it will find its way to the screen.
While there are all kinds of paths to getting to that movie premiere, the system of Hollywood is designed to keep you as far from that path as possible. Let me start with the challenges then we’ll get into solutions. I had lunch with an agent friend not too long ago. He shared with me how countless writers and directors were on him to make something magical happen with their projects. But the reality of Hollywood is fewer films are getting made, many are remakes or based on pre-existing material (book, TV show, game, etc)… The last thing any manager or agent want to do is take on a another mouth to feed when he doesn’t have something he thinks he can sell.
That’s the key – as much as we all love movies, if you don’t have anything they can sell (and my focus here is strictly on Hollywood, not the indie world), then they will pass you by without a second glance. So what are the steps to getting in?
1. Come up with an idea that you’re excited by and people love when you describe it in 30 seconds. If it takes you 5 minutes to try and explain it, move on. Picture the movie poster. If you can’t see it with a cool tag line, don’t bother.
2. Write the first draft. Don’t stop, don’t slow down. Try to write at the same time each day so you get in a rhythm. Most importantly, don’t go back and edit. Just finish. “But Scott – I have a great idea to add to the first act.” Awesome, make a note of it and keep moving on.
3. It’s great that you finished your first draft – most people don’t. Take a moment, raise a glass and enjoy that feeling. Now here’s the hard thing to accept – it’s awful. Don’t worry. Everyone’s first draft is awful. Now go back in and rewrite again and again until it’s as great as you can make it. The next hard thing, it’s isn’t great yet. Don’t give it to friends and family – give it to nasty, bitter writers who will tear it apart. That’s good – you want that, painful as it is, because until that script has been seen by the brutal side, its still your first draft. Now pull up your big boy/big girl pants and do it all again. And again.
4. Once you’ve gotten it to a point where every page glimmers, now comes the hard part. Ultimately there’s a saying in Hollywood – a great script finds a home. But that only happens after banging down every door you possibly can. That means reaching out with query letters to every worthwhile agent and manager in Hollywood or NY. Most won’t respond. Of those that do, most will say no. But if the idea is great enough, you might slip through the cracks and some assistant will take a glance and give to his boss. And then… they’ll have notes.
Leave no stone unturned: you have a friend who knew someone in the mailroom at CAA? Reach out. Your plumber’s brother is an assistant at Industry Entertainment? Reach out. But, and I can’t stress this hard enough, don’t reach out until that script is as perfect as you can make it. That’s not days or weeks, it’s months and sometimes years. And when the rejections come, don’t be deterred. “Onward” is your new slogan. Nothing may happen with that script in the end. I would be surprised if it did. That’s OK, now take that approach and do it again with your next project. And then again. Most people I know who break through do so somewhere around their 6th or 7th script. In other words, years of toil. Writing screenplays is a craft and it’s one that needs to be studied to have any chance.
And remember this – many wanna-be writers disparage Hollywood movies, usually while complaining that their project is so much better. Don’t mock the hand that you want to feed you. If other projects are succeeding, look at why, try to understand what made them work such that tens or even hundreds of millions are spent on them. Then create your own…
Author Interview with Rich DiSilvio
ULM: What led you to writing your novel, Nazis Nemesis?
Actually two things: First, was my intense interest in history and WWII, and second, was a recurring dream I had. For almost two years after publishing my previous novel, A Blazing Gilded Age, I was having a vivid dream of an American WWII soldier and Nazi officer fighting aboard an airplane. It gets very nasty and well, I’ll leave it at that. But it made for an exciting opening. I finally committed to sitting down and crafting an outline, since my dream was merely one action scene. Therefore, an entire storyline, with motives, characters, settings etc., had to be built around that one event. A very odd way to start a story, but that was the seed that grew into a rather complex and twisted tale.
ULM: Which of the characters did you enjoy creating the most?
The protagonist was a fun character. Jack Goodwin/Hornsby is a real piece of work; charismatic, funny, clever, and a puzzle. Jack even had me on my toes, guessing what would happen next. The first half of the novel he is telling his daughter, Eleanor, about his escapades during WWII, and they were so compelling, that I truly had a hard time pulling myself away from writing. Happily, many readers also found his yarns riveting, just as Jack’s daughter had in the novel.
But several other characters had also pulled me in deep, examining their particular psyche, past, or motives, such as Veronika and Bronislaw, who play key roles in the subplot that develops. I also enjoyed crafting Eleanor’s development from an innocent teenager into a self-thinking strong woman. Yet, even small characters have their own charm in the creation process.
ULM: What other projects are you working that you can share with us, readers?
I’m currently working on a series called Tales of Titans. It features a collection of short fictional scenarios, each about a major figure of history. This first volume extends from ancient Rome to the Renaissance, and features such icons as Augustus Caesar and his wife Livia, Constantine, Dante, Columbus, the Borgias, Leonardo da Vinci and others. It also contains brief nonfictional material, making this series both informative and entertaining. And the fact that each chapter is relatively brief gives people a fast read and good taste of how these titans may have sounded in conversation and what made them tick.
Additionally, I recently released two YA books. Danny and the DreamWeaver is somewhat of a fantasy/time-travel novelette, dealing with a ninth-grade boy’s odd yet edifying dream. It’s published under the pseudonym Mark Poe, which is a gracious nod to two great American writers, Mr. Twain and Edgar.
Meanwhile, Meet My Famous Friends is a whimsical picture book that will make kids of all ages laugh, with the subtle intention of fostering an interest in great historical figures, such as Vincent van Goat, Susan Bee Anthony, Albert Eine-Stein, Queen Elizardbreath etc. Humor is a great tool to get kids’ attention. So hopefully some of “my famous friends” will become positive role models for a younger generation and brighten their future.
ULM: What inspired you to write in the historical war thriller genre?
Actually, my first book was a 750-page nonfictional tome on Western civilization, and wars are naturally a part of human history. In fact, all my previous novels include wars, whether in large measure, like in Liszt’s Dante Symphony, or even a single chapter, as in A Blazing Gilded Age. War offers a writer and readers conflict, as well as the ugly and heroic sides of mankind, hence being an intriguing topic.
However, it is keen to note that while My Nazi Nemesis takes place during both WWII and the Cold War, the main storyline focuses on the personal lives of the main characters. Their odd and harrowing situations drive them in various directions to resolve their misfortunes, and that takes them all across Europe and the United States. I think that’s why this novel is even appealing to readers that aren’t necessarily drawn to pure war novels. Additionally, these period pieces offer me the chance to write about other interests of mine, namely music and art. Each of my novels feature the arts in some capacity, giving authenticity to the time period and enlightening some readers about works of art or older music, especially classical music.
However, there are naturally scenes that relate to events during the Cold War and Nazi Germany. Having grown up during the 1960s, there were many WWII movies that were imprinted on my mind, such a The Great Escape or Von Ryan’s Express. While they were not as intense as more recent war movies, like Sophie’s Choice or Schindler’s List, they did instill in me a fascination and fear of the Nazis. As such, I was compelled to incorporate a disturbing scene where Veronika is sent to Auschwitz. What she witnesses and endures, as well as the profound questions she asks her captors, brings something new to this historical tragedy.
Likewise, the Cold War threats of Soviet expansion and a nuclear attack during my childhood also instilled a lifelong lesson. It makes one realize that whether it was the Nazis, the Soviets, or modern day Jihadists, our security and liberty is always at risk. So it is crucial to refresh our memories about these events, even in novel form, because whether it’s the Nazis gassing Jews or the Jihadists decapitating infidels, we must be cognizant of the ugly realities in life and remain vigilant at all times.
ULM: Using three words how would you describe your writing?
Entertaining, thought provoking, and intriguing.
ULM: Besides writing an amazing novel, what are your other hobbies?
I love creating, in all forms. I’ve had my hands at drawing and painting for many years, having studied at an academy under a protege of Norman Rockwell’s. Yet over the years I’ve veered away from oil painting and work primarily in the digital medium. My artwork has appeared in various art galleries nationwide and I recently released a limited edition book of my surreal and fantasy art. I have also toyed around with music, composing a number of songs, and have built all sorts of things, from furniture to all types of home renovations, large and small. I’ve managed to incorporate those hobbies into my careers, so I’ve been fortunate.
And of course I love researching, mostly about historical people and events, especially when it is newly revealed information regarding things we Americans hadn’t learned in school, such as how Soviet women were the only women permitted to fight during WWII. While women from other nations could work in weapons factories or be nurses or fly planes for non-combative operations, Soviet women, in contrast, were flying raids against Hitler. That’s why I found it imperative to incorporate that into My Nazi Nemesis as well. Writing is a powerful medium, and I don’t take it for granted. I believe it’s important for an author to share knowledge with their readers, as entertainment doesn’t have to be frivolous.
ULM: How did it feel to be an international 2016 gold medal winner for your novel, Nazis Nemesis?
Quite stunning. I recall blinking hard, then squinting to get a better look at the announcement page. I had to see if my eyes were really seeing what they were seeing. I knew it was a long shot, competing against so many writers from over a dozen countries, but in my gut I had this uncanny feeling that this novel would rise to the top. As mentioned, the protagonist, Jack Goodwin/Hornsby, even had me enthralled with his engaging tales and sarcastic wit, while also keeping me in suspense and guessing. And the twisted story, I knew, would not be easily forgotten.
Another reason for my confidence was that I had previously received five separate glowing review awards, so my spirits and belief in this work were high. Yet despite the positive feelings, in reality, it is always a tall order to win a competition of this magnitude. So “overjoyed” about sums it up.
ULM: What advice do you have for other writers?
As hard as it is, endure the insults of critics, learn from your mistakes, stay true to your artistic convictions, and keep at it! Quite oddly, besides the gold award and all the glowing accolades, My Nazi Nemesis has also received a handful of insulting reviews. We’ve all heard how some famous writers and their novels had been rejected by the so-called “professionals,” only to be picked up by another, more perceptive agent, to become block busters. So beyond lay readers, even some professionals have bad judgement.
It’s critical to realize that art, in all forms, is subjective. Even works of pure genius can sometimes not be huge commercial successes. For example, the 1974 album “Relayer” by Yes, was a masterpiece in progressive rock, yet due to its sophistication it could never compete on the billboard charts with pop songs that appeal to a broader base. So success can only be measured by your particular niche.
Therefore, the true indicator is what the majority in your particular genre thinks. If a book sells well and scores a solid average of 3 stars or better, you’re in good shape. Dropping below that, you need to do your homework. But naturally, you must always shoot for the stars, all 5 of them!
ULM: Where can readers find both you and your book online?
They can view my books and artwork at my website: http://richdisilvio.com
They can purchase books and eBooks at Amazon http://amzn.com/B01ADO2UUA – Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, etc. But the only place to get autographed books and special bonuses is at my website.
With over 7700 reviews and a 4.4 rating for the entire series, see why the Bodyguards of L.A. County is a multi-award winning series.
Buy It Now! Available on the following: Amazon | Kobo | Nook | iBooks
New to the series? No problem! Each book in the “Bodyguards” series is a stand-alone title. Although reading the books in order is preferred, it is not necessary. Each title features brand new primary characters and limited overlapping secondary characters. Don’t hesitate to jump right in!
Isabella Colby has always yearned for normalcy. Now that she’s settled in LA, she finally has it. Good friends, a pretty home, and her thriving career as the Palisades’ top skincare specialist are a dream come true. Bella is content until she meets her hunky new neighbor, but her attraction to the blue-eyed cutie is the least of her worries when contacting her long-lost father threatens to destroy her happy life.
Reed McKinley is more than ready to forget the past. His seven-year stint as an NYPD detective nearly got him killed. His wounds have healed and he’s starting over as Ethan Cooke Security’s latest recruit. With sixty-hour workweeks and little time to himself, the last thing on his mind is a relationship. Then he bumps into the gorgeous woman next door.
Reed and Bella become fast friends. Before long, Reed discovers that Bella is keeping dangerous secrets. Bella may have the answers to decades-old questions he’s been searching for. Reed will risk it all to uncover the truth, but he soon realizes that the deeper he digs, the direr the consequences.
Long Story Short: Grow From Rejection
I often hear others in the industry mention their love of the written word or how they knew they wanted to write stories for as long as they can remember. In my case, neither of those statements quite rings true. I hated reading as a young girl. It wasn’t until I was twenty that I had any desire to pick up a book and read for pleasure. I also never knew I wanted to be a storyteller until five short years ago.
For most of my adult life, I worked with children with moderate to severe special needs. I loved it. Then we moved to a new state and the career I had chosen turned into a nightmare. My new job was awful and I resigned after a month of coming home in tears every day. For about two weeks, I binge ate chocolate and reread my favorite Nora Roberts novels. And then an idea clicked. I decided I was going to be a writer and tell fascinating stories just like my most favorite author.
My husband came home from work and I shared my new ambition. I think he thought I had lost my mind, but he supported me anyway and has continued to be my biggest champion.
For weeks I sat at my computer, typing away, having no real idea of what I was doing, but I loved it and how hard could it be, anyway? For a long time, I thought I was a storytelling genius—that one person who could write down their words and would instantly be picked up for a writing contract as soon as I got my work into the right hands. Wrong!
I finished my first draft and joined an online writing community where I could trade critiques with other writers. I learned so much and realized I had a long way to go to improve my craft. I rewrote my novel twice before I sent it off for professional editing. And the editor emailed me the next day to tell me not to give up my day job and refused my manuscript.
For a good two weeks I went back to the chocolate and Nora books and was ready to give up, but my champion reminded me that an editor is just a human being with an opinion. Thankfully, I resubmitted my work to a new editor and he got started right away. While my editor helped me clean up my project, I got started on the next story, then the next. Within a year and a half, I had three completed novels on my hands and wavered on what I should do with them.
After doing much research, I decided I could spend months writing query letters or I could put my work out there on Amazon and the several other vendors available to indie authors and see what was what. This was the right decision for me.
One nail-biting weekend in October 2012, we made all three books—Morgan’s Hunter, Falling For Sarah, and Hailey’s Truth—live and by weekend’s end, they were climbing Amazon’s ranks and made the bestseller list.
Now, here I am less than three years later and I’ve begun work on my eleventh novel. I wake up everyday thanking my lucky stars that my new job in a new state had been truly wretched, that I had the courage to try something different, and that I have loyal readers that eagerly come back for each new adventure in the Bodyguards of L.A. County series.
With lots of hard work and a healthy dose of divinity thrown in, I’ve managed to become an international best seller, the runner up and winner of several very cool awards, and the writer of well-rated novels.
Long story short: never be afraid to learn, go after what you want, grow from rejection, and be thankful every single minute for your tragedies and triumphs.
The Official Soundtrack
I love music! I can’t imagine a world without catchy tunes playing, especially when I’m writing. Music is inspiration. Melodies, beats, and the mood of each song help me portray emotions and feelings as I tell a story. It’s a rare day when I don’t have my headphones in place, bopping my head, while my fingers race across the keyboard. You can listen to the “soundtrack” for each book on my website http://www.catebeauman.com.
The soundtrack, of sorts, for Deceiving Bella:
• Favorite Song by Ben Rector
• Lay It All On Me by Rudimental w/Ed Sheeran
• Into You by Ariana Grande
• Cake by the Ocean by DNCE
• Truth by Steve Moakler
• Any Other Name by Thomas Newman
• Rock Bottom by Hailee Steinfeld
• All I Want by Kodaline
• Crash by Usher
• Stand By You by Rachel Platten
About the author:
International bestselling author Cate Beauman is known for her full-length, action-packed romantic suspense series, The Bodyguards of L.A. County. Her novels have been nominated for the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, National Indie Excellence Award, Golden Quill Award, Writers Touch Award, and have been named Readers Favorite Five Star books. In 2015, JUSTICE FOR ABBY was selected as the Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Gold Medalist, while SAVING SOPHIE took the Silver Medal. SAVING SOPHIE was also selected as the 2015 Readers Crown Award winner for Romantic Suspense and FALLING FOR SARAH received the silver medal for the 2014 Readers’ Favorite Awards.
Cate makes her home in North Carolina with her husband, two boys, and their St. Bernards, Bear and Jack. Currently Cate is working on her twelfth full length romantic suspense novel.
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Amazon Author Page
Ray Seymour receives frightening news from his doctor on Christmas Eve. He goes home, feeling sad and angry, to confront the tense atmosphere of his home. His wife, eight-year-old daughter, and fifteen-year-old son remain separate, not cohering into a family. Ray resolves to make things better in whatever time he has left. Unfortunately, his time has run out. Ray dies that evening.
Ray returns to life to find he’s been given time to try to reconcile his family. He sets out to make them love him so much they’ll feel terrible when he’s gone.
Ray still has to deal with his next-door neighbor, who knows about his time-travelling, his sarcastic sister, hostile ex-wife, and childish daughter. There’s too much to fix and not enough time. And what about that homeless man near the mall who keeps turning up?
Rating: 5 stars
Thanksgiving Eve by Jay Brandon is an emotional journey that will hook readers instantly. The main character’s journey starts out as sad and unavoidable at first…the tension and emotions escalating after that. Then, slowly, the main character takes a deeper look at his surroundings. This causes him to really see and think about his life, especially his family. At, first the attitude towards his doctor is one of anger and confusion then by the ending it changes completely. I loved watching the transformation in Ray Seymour unfold. His character growth was stunning. I wanted to hug the man. He’s one that readers will love and relate to…as well as find him as an inspiration. The stroy shows us what we can do, and that it’s never too late to start helping others. By helping and understanding others around us, life comes to a more peaceful mind than before…
Jay Brandon has a way of luring readers, like myself, into his book. I couldn’t put it down after reading the first page. From there I was thrust into his world of fiction. I felt the wave of emotions hit me as they hit the main character, Ray Seymour. Thanksgiving Eve, is not just a read for the holidays but one that readers can read on any day. Heart melting, realistic, and awe inspiring. Overall, I highly recommend this to readers worldwide.
Research in Las VegasBy Jennifer Samson
Las Vegas has always fascinated me. There are so few cities on earth that have grown at the speed of Las Vegas. It’s history is full of the mafia, nuclear weapons testing, murders, reclusive billionaires, and amusement park-like casinos. What’s not to love?
When I decided to set my book Sin City in 1960s Las Vegas, it was the perfect excuse for a trip to see “old Las Vegas”. Which was great until I’d seen the only 3 casinos on the Strip that still existed from that time (Tropicana, Flamingo, Caesars Palace).
Downtown Las Vegas and Fremont Street preserved a little more of that time, with casinos like Fremont, Golden Nugget, Binions, Four Queens, Golden Gate and the El Cortez still standing from another era. Granted, it’s hard to picture another era with a giant TV screen canopy stretched over blocks of Fremont, and people on zip lines overhead. Even the old school was shrouded in new.
“Old Las Vegas” is things that happened five minutes ago, so I knew it was going to take some major research to get things right regarding what it was really like in the 1960s. The problem was where to research.
It’s only been in the last 20 years that Las Vegas has made efforts to preserve its past with museums like the Neon Museum and Mob Museum.
Founded in 2012, the Mob Museum (http://themobmuseum.org) is located in the former Clark County Courthouse, just a block from Fremont Street. Armed with my camera and a notebook, I spent one of the hottest days in July (note: aim to visit in spring or fall if you don’t like melting to death) on a self-guided tour through the blessedly air-conditioned museum to research.
It was pretty overwhelming, and completely fascinating.
From the early days of Las Vegas and the early days of the mafia in Chicago and New York, to recent criminal activity, the Mob Museum has it all. Artifacts included the wall the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre happened against (complete with bullet holes), Bugsy Siegel’s sunglasses and watch, and the headstone of mafia figure Meyer Lansky, along with weapons, photos, and stories from “the good ol’ days.” Artifacts and displays are regularly swapped out and reconfigured so every trip you’ll see something new.
The amount of information was staggering, but it gave me such a great feel for the time period. Parts of what I learned made it into the first book and will make it into sequels – from the Sheriff’s Blue Book entries on local criminals, to the skim at the Stardust, and inspiration for mafia characters.
Recently the Mob Museum hosted a talk by former Chicago Outfit associate Frank Cullota about his days working in Las Vegas with Tony Spilotro. Cullotta testified against Spilotro after being caught as part of the “Hole in the Wall Gang” – a group that robbed local Las Vegas businesses by cutting holes in the roof to gain access. Cullotta was later a consultant on the movie Casino, and had a small part in the film. Mr. Cullotta runs mob tours in Las Vegas (http://www.frankcullottascasinotour.com), and my next visit is going to include his tour, which is very highly rated. A future book of mine is set in 1970s Las Vegas, and I think the tour will be a great source of info.
Nothing really compares to doing in-person research when you can. I originally loved Las Vegas for its crazy mix of architecture and endless places to eat (I recommend the sticky toffee pudding at Gordon Ramsay Steak), but now I appreciate so much of what came before. I just hope I’ve captured a tiny slice of 1960s Las Vegas in Sin City.
Every once in a while, I think most writers probably get these ideas that are just plain fun. Fun…as in, sitting down to write the book is like jumping on a roller coaster, a quick, wild ride that just never lets up.
Candy Houses was one of those ideas. Candy Houses…think dark, bloody fairy tales, set in modern times. The heroine is like a dark-haired version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer-complete butt kicker. Hero wears long, flowing sort of coat-the duster type and likes sharp shiny objects. He’s been mooning after her for a hundred years. She’s so scarred from her childhood, she copes by keeping people at a distance. In comes a certain individual who takes steps to force these two together. I had so much fun writing this one. I’ve already got ideas spinning for at least three more, and I can’t wait.
I’ve always loved these stories. They was my first stab at writing first person. But it’s not in first person the whole way through. I need the male’s POV, too. So it alternates… the heroine’s POV is first person. Hero’s POV is third. I think I made the flow smooth enough and those who got into the series really enjoyed it.
Now, that I’m reissuing them, I’m hoping more people will have the chance to check the series out.
There’s an excerpt at my site, but here’s a different one… from Greta’s POV.
Candy Houses, the first book in the Grimm’s Circle series, is being reissued under my UF persona, J.C. Daniels this Halloween. Kind of fitting…
Greta has to deal with the bogeyman.
I was pretty sure I hadn’t felt this kind of terror in a long time.
I’m not really afraid of dying. Or at least, normally, I’m not. Remember that “hard to kill” thing I mentioned?
I am hard to kill, but a bocan is strong enough to tear my head from my shoulders, and they are fast. That doesn’t sound like a fun way to go.
They are killing machines. Big, dumb killing machines and I was facing this one totally unprepared. The knife I carried wasn’t long enough to kill the thing unless I was really, really lucky. I’m good, but with these things, being good with a knife isn’t enough.
A sword would be better.
A cannon would be better.
Warily, I backed away, circling around and trying to lead the bocan away from the girl. I didn’t know if she’d be able to see it when she woke up. It depended on how far she’d dipped her toes into the waters of evil and death. I could hope that when she saw it, if she saw it, it might scare her straight, but I’m not really big on hope right now.
Not the way the night was going.
And to think I’d been bored just a few hours ago.
“So how long have you been hanging around this plane?” I asked.
The bocan didn’t speak. Their race didn’t have vocal chords. Other than the sibilant sounds they made when they breathed, they were quiet. They moved quietly, they attacked quietly and they killed quietly. Big, dumb, ugly…and quiet. They ought to be loud—only seemed fair. Something like this breathing death down your neck, there should be some sort of warning.
It cocked its head. The dim light danced over the dull gold scales that covered it from head to toe. Those scales were like armor. It had been a while since I’d faced a bocan…probably two or three hundred years, but I hadn’t forgotten how big they are, how strong they are or how hard they are to kill. At least the last time I’d faced one I’d had a for-real sword.
It came at me, a silent rush of death. At the very last second, I spun out of the way and felt the blast of air as it swiped out at where I’d stood only a heartbeat earlier. The thing’s hands ended in claws that measured close to three inches long.
The skin along the back of my neck prickled as I once more started to circle away from the bocan, weaving around it in nonsensical patterns. It made another rush and this time, instead of moving aside, I went down and sliced upward. Black, bitter blood covered me as I managed to break skin. It shuddered, but I figured out very quickly that while I’d hurt the demon, I hadn’t slowed it down. It slashed out as I scrambled away. Those claws got closer that time.
And then again. This time it caught me. I bit my lip to keep from screaming as the claws managed to get me in the belly, slicing me open. Blood flowed.
A hand came out of nowhere and grabbed me, hauling me aside.
Dazed, I fell against the crumbled rock wall at my back and watched. I was in a state of shock, I think. I didn’t recognize the man at first…well, not consciously. My body probably would have, if I hadn’t been losing huge quantities of blood through the gashes in my belly. I whimpered and shrugged out of the blood-soaked jacket I wore and balled it up, pressing it to my wounded stomach.
The flesh was already knitting back together. I could literally feel it, deep, deep inside. It was a bad injury. If I was still wholly human, I’d be dead already. As it was, I was losing a lot of blood. Even us pseudo-immortals get weak when we lose too much blood.
Sinking to the ground, I watched as the man fought the bocan.
He was a lot more equipped to handle the thing than I was, that was for sure. The bocan tried to gut him with those lethal claws but the man moved away, quick as a wish. I saw one hand disappear inside the long coat he wore—something about that coat, the way it stretched over his shoulders, tickled a memory. I wouldn’t look at his face. Thinking about it now, I know why I wouldn’t look, because I knew in my heart who he was, and I needed to prepare myself a little bit more before I actually looked at him.
Instead, I focused on his hands…and on the very awesome weapon he’d drawn from inside that long, black coat. It was a black cylinder, maybe two, two and a half feet long. Yeah, I know, that doesn’t sound too flashy. It would do some serious damage to a human, probably even a number of manifested demons.
But a nine-foot-tall bocan?
Nope. Right up until he twisted it, I wasn’t impressed. But then he twisted it. I heard the whisper of metal as two edged blades appeared, one out either end of the metal cylinder.
Now, it was five feet long, and bladed on both ends.
He used it like an artist. He moved like a dancer of death. The silver flashed through the air. His body barely seemed to touch the ground before he was moving off again. Eerie, deadly and oh so lovely to look at. In a rather morbid way, of course.
Black blood stained the metal as he sliced through the bocan’s scales.
The bocan hissed.
The man just laughed. That laugh. I knew that laugh.
Just before I passed out, I finally let myself look at him. I found myself staring at his familiar profile. An ache settled in my heart and it followed me as I went under.
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Are second chances truly possible?
The Duke of Sermont, Shep, has spent every summer since childhood at Pritchford Place… with his best friend’s sister. Lady Julia Frederickson.
As they grew, their relationship grew into something else…
Writing letters back and forth to one another and making plans has been a part of them…
That is … until Shep did something that broke her heart – he married someone else.
She has spent her life wearing a mask.
She vows to never let anyone know how much Shep meant to her.
When Shep is widowed and comes to stay at Pritchford Place, just like old times, they antagonize one another as usual.
Is it because they hate one another? Or… because they cannot stay away from one another?
Who cares if he thinks she is the Ice Queen- cold, cruel and unfeeling?
Julia knows who she is really is, even if Shep continually misunderstands her.
“A man who loves me? A man whom I love? A family? It is all I have ever really wanted,” she said.
“I never knew that about you,” he whispered as he turned to look out the window.
“I am beginning to think you did not know me at all.”
But is it too late for Shep to realize he made a terrible mistake all those years ago?
Can Julia forgive Shep for breaking her heart?
What about another suitor who will get in his way?
Rating: 5 stars
The Duke’s Ever Burning Passion by Charlotte Stone is another beautifully woven masterpiece. I can’t believe how fast and well this writer puts books out…but I am truly thankful for her talent. I love historical novels that lure me into their worlds. Getting lost within the book, is a sure sign that the writer achieved success. I couldn’t stop reading it. The tale within was about two former friends. Friends who attraction turned into a bit more…then suddenly lost everything. No longer friends nor lovers. Both went separate int heir ways. Now, fate has a funny way of reuniting them. One is now, a widower who comes knocking in like it’s old times again. The other friend holds a smile, but deep within she’s angry, hurt, and disappointed. A friend who betrayed her love. Went off to another woman…her heart is aching like the wound has become fresh again. Seeing him does crazy things to her heart. She intends to push him away, letting him think the worst of her. But will that simply be the last of them together? Charlotte Stone writes captivating pieces that intrigues, bates, and holds readers hostage until the very ending. The characters are realistic. Their actions and attitudes become three-dimensional as the plot unfolds. And with it comes one of the most intense plot lines ever. Clean, well-written, and romantic. The Duke’s Ever Burning Passion has lured me in forever. I loved this new tale. Charlotte Stone has once again won my heart with her latest novel. Overall, I highly recommend it to readers everywhere.
Stray Son is an adult novel telling the story of a haunted Vietnam vet in the year 2000, reduced to working for a Santa Barbara mortuary, picking up dead bodies. One day he picks up a live one—his elderly father’s young ghost, a WWII Marine who starts following him around town. Then son receives a phone call that his old father just died. At that moment the young Marine knocks on the son’s trailer door. The grieving, confused son can no longer keep this apparition from his wife and kids—and opens the door. The Marine finally declares why he is there: to straighten out his stray son—and bum a ride to see his dying mother in a 1942 Sioux City, Iowa hospital. The son needs to take his family to Sioux City in the year 2000 to attend his father’s funeral. So the young father and the old son take their battles back to World War II on a trip across a wartime America towards death and an elusive reconciliation.
Rating: 5 stars
Stray Son by Richard Slota is an interesting piece of literature. Here, readers go one a ride of a lifetime. Traveling between the character’s past and present. Themes like family, love, and redemption are woven into the tale. Stray Son is a novel that leaves readers following Patrick. Patrick defys the norm when it comes to fictional characters in a way. He’s day job is peculiar yet he pays the bills. Bills like the months of rent. His job is to pick up dead bodies. Bodies of people that just died. Then, there’s his life background that made me feel sympathy for him. Soon, he sees a ghost and thinks he’s losing it. Only he can see a Marine. A Marine ghost that doesn’t stop following everywhere. Until, he introduces the ghost to his family once he found out that his father died. Sort of. Now, as a ghost and staying near the son he kicked out…is a lot to swallow. I found this tale stunning, heartbreaking, and realistic. The emotional journey of father and son is one that readers won’t be forgetting. It will stay with me forever. The sadness became my own. The life that the older son, Patrick had to live through because of his mother and father…was crazy. Yet in the end, it was good. Saddening in a good way. Then, somehow, when readers will least expect it, Richard Slota, surprises readers once more. Stray Son, is a great story. So much was packed into it. I felt like I was swallowed into one of those movies that make the watcher cry endlessly. Sad but good tears. Overall, I loved this powerful yet gritty novel. I recommend it to readers everywhere.
About the Author
My life is about going for the long odds, so of course I’ve written a literary novel, Stray Son. I assisted at autopsies in the army during Vietnam and worked countless hard scrabble jobs since. I earned my Masters in Creative Writing, have BA’s in Theater Arts and Psychology and I am a produced playwright and published poet.
The Spark That Lit My Writer’s Flame
The first inkling that I might someday be able to write something worthy of publication came in the form of a few words penned by my eleventh grade English teacher, which she added to the end of a term paper I’d written. To her students she was plain Mrs. Shropshire but to me her first name, at least, was anything but plain. It was Sadie, an uncommon name then and now, which for me evoked the image of a seductive singer plying her trade in a bar on an exotic, far-away island somewhere in the South Pacific. That was because the only other woman named Sadie I’d ever heard of or seen was the temptress portrayed by Rita Hayworth in the movie, Miss Sadie Thompson.
Mrs. Shropshire was no Rita Hayworth and I’m sure she had no desire to be. Probably it would have amused her to know that at least one of her students associated her with the fictional Miss Sadie Thompson. She was a comely, no-nonsense African-American woman I suspect in her mid to late thirties when I was one of her students. She was a stern disciplinarian with a caustic wit, but what was most distinctive about her was her absolute command of English literature and grammar. And so it was with great pride that I read the words at the end of my term paper she felt were warranted by my effort: “Your writing is seldom, if ever, equaled among our students.” Wow!
I kept Mrs. Shropshire’s words tucked away somewhere in a corner of my mind because, you see, I wouldn’t need them for inspiration in the career I had chosen. In my senior year in college I had decided to become a lawyer. As such, I wrote an awful lot of letters, memoranda of law, and trial and appellate briefs. In the last years of my practice I even wrote a legal treatise for judges and lawyers called Ohio Insurance Coverage, which was the field of law I had specialized in. But none of this writing ever sparked my imagination or caused me to draw upon whatever it was that Mrs. Shropshire saw in my term paper now decades earlier.
I also kept my term paper in a cardboard box with other memorabilia, and whenever the thought of writing fiction crept into my mind, I would refer back to Mrs. Shropshire’s words to make sure I remembered them correctly and that she had actually written them.
At a high school reunion years ago I asked whether anyone knew what had happened to Mrs. Schropshire. Sadly, I learned that she had passed away. No one knew any of the details. We hadn’t kept in contact since I graduated from high school and moved away, but the news made me profoundly sad. Now that I have written my first novel, Pigeon-Blood Red, I’m doubly sad because I wish I could have told her that it was inspired by those few words of high praise she wrote on my term paper many years ago.
Pigeon-Blood Red is a fast-paced and suspenseful crime thriller by Ed Duncan. It was released in March 2016, published by Zharmae and is available for sale on Amazon.
Duncan says, “It’s always been said that you should write what you know. I am a lawyer – as is a pivotal character in the novel who is being pursued by a hit man – and I’m excited to be able to use my legal training creatively as well as professionally.”
For underworld enforcer Richard “Rico” Sanders, it seemed like an ordinary job. Retrieve his gangster boss’s priceless pigeon-blood red ruby necklace and teach the double-dealing cheat who stole it a lesson. A job like a hundred before it. But the chase quickly goes sideways and takes Rico from the mean streets of Chicago to sunny Honolulu, where the hardened hit man finds himself in uncharted territory when a couple of innocent bystanders are accidentally embroiled in the crime.
As Rico pursues his new targets, the hunter and his prey develop an unlikely respect for one another and Rico is faced with a momentous decision: follow his orders to kill the couple whose courage and character have won his admiration, or refuse and endanger the life of the woman he loves?
Praise for Pigeon-Blood Red
“Pigeon Blood Red has a dramatic and satisfying conclusion, leaving the reader nodding his head with approval.” – Readers’ Favorite
“In a novel with as much action as love, it is sure to be a story that will fulfill the desires of readers of all ages, genders, and areas of interest.” – Red City Review
“This charming, classically-told crime thriller is a must for noir fans…refreshingly old-school pulp, inhabited by a familiar cast of gamblers, con men and hustlers found in Dennis Lehane and Elmore Leonard novels” – Best Thrillers
About Ed Duncan
Ed Duncan is a graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University Law School. He was a partner at a national law firm in Cleveland, Ohio for many years. He currently lives outside of Cleveland, OH and is at work on the second installment in the Pigeon-Blood Red trilogy. To learn more, go to http://eduncan.net/
Readers can connect with Ed on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
ULM: What inspired you to write your book, Don’t Trust A Stranger?
I wanted to write something with meaning behind it. Parts of my book are true, and others are not. I want to help people who are involved with domestic violence because it’s something that happens every day. If my book can help save at least one life then I would be very happy.
ULM: Did you always want to be a writer or was that something you discovered later on in life?
I discovered around the age of 10 how much I loved writing. I would sit in my room and write non-stop poetry. I eventually had a notebook or two full of different ones. Writing has always been something I was passionate about. However, writing a book didn’t come to mind until I was in my early 20’s. The more I went into book stores, the more I wanted my own to be on their shelf one day. Stephen King is my biggest inspiration, I love his work and I think he is just brilliant.
ULM: What would you like readers to take away from your book?
I want readers to take away that life isn’t perfect. Relationships fail, and you CAN move on. Family is there for you during your darkest hour. I want them to read my book, and think about certain situations in a different perspective, kind of like an outsiders point of view.
ULM: Was it difficult in writing your book, Don’t Trust A Stranger?
Parts of my book were hard to write, because it happened in real life. But, I feel like real life situations always make that book that much better. Overall, it wasn’t bad writing it.
ULM: What are three of your hobbies besides writing great books?
Three of my hobbies include: Being with my son, he’s 6 years old and I love taking him to WWE events with me, meeting superstars, taking him to the movies.
Being with my friends, when I am not working on my books or working my full time job. And lastly, driving around listening to music.
ULM: When will the sequel to your book be ready for readers?
I am hoping to have my sequel done and published by spring of 2017, fall at the latest. I am working like crazy to get this done.
ULM: Can you share with us, readers, about any other future works you may have planned?
When I am done with the sequel, I am working on two other (single) books, one is going to be a complete thriller/horror book, and one is going to be a complete romance book. Both of these genre’s are my favorites to read, so I want to make it enjoyable for my readers as well. I never want any of my books to be extremely long, so if everything goes the way I want then I will have a new book published each year.
ULM: Where can readers find you and your books online?
I have an author blog: here is my link.
The links to buy my book is here:
Don’t Trust A Stranger (Volume 1): Jacquelyn Wiles: 9781533632432: Amazon.com: Books
Buy Don’t Trust A Stranger (Volume 1) on Amazon.com ✓ FREE SHIPPING on qualified orders
Don’t Trust A Stranger – createspace.com
Have you ever wanted to date someone online? Do you trust people easily? Sometimes that can be a deadly thing. Never be too careful. Never settle for less than what …
Barnes and noble:
Have you ever wanted to date someone online? Do you trust people easily? Sometimes that can be a deadly thing. Never be too careful. Never settle for less than what…
ULM: What is your advice to both your readers and fellow writers?
My advice is to just follow your dreams, never let anyone tell you that you cannot accomplish it. Even if you have writer’s block (believe me, I suffered with it a lot) anytime you have an idea write it down, you can always go back to it. Write until you cannot write anymore, you can always go back and change things. Take criticism with a grain of salt, do not let it discourage you. Instead let it help you with your next project.
ULM: What led you to writing a book about mental illness for both adults and children?
I wanted adults and children to learn that mental illness is treatable and nothing to be afraid of and that people can live normal, healthy, happy lives.
I also wanted them to know that mental illness is not the end of the world, it is just the beginning of searching for your roots once again. It is all right to still have hope for the goals and dreams that will make a person achieve success in their life.
ULM: What are some of the most common misled facts that come into association when people find out someone has a mental illness?
Some common misled facts are sometimes having a mental illness means that their crazy or a weakness in themselves. That is not true. You can still pursue goals and dreams and make a success in your future. Mental illness is a chemical imbalance and although it requires medication, it is not the only asset to recover from a mental illness. Having support from friends and family is important, doing something productive with your life like working or going back to school.
ULM: After reading your books, what would you like readers to take from them?
I would like readers to realize that there is hope for people with mental illness and that recovery is possible.
ULM: I noticed that you are an active candidate working to break the stigma surrounding mental illnesses. What are some ways others can help fight that?
You can help fight stigma in so many ways such as involving yourself with organizations that do quality work for the mentally ill like NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), working as a Certified Peer Specialist, writing articles in newspapers and journals about stigma towards mental illness, etc.
ULM: As a writer, you took personal experience into creating beautiful books for both adults and children alike. What was the journey like when writing these books?
Very fun, interesting and also therapeutic. My memoir, especially was therapeutic for me because I was re evaluating my life once again.
ULM: Winning one award is like winning the lotto for most authors.. How did it make you feel knowing your books won not one but several awards?
It made me feel special and that my life story is of interest to them and that it gives people a sense of hope and encouragement.
ULM: For those readers who haven’t read your books yet, can you briefly tell them what they are about?
My first book, Surviving Mental Illness, My Story is a memoir of the heartbreaks and challenges I faced growing up with bipolar disorder and how I achieved recovey. The second book, I coauthored with my husband, is a children’s story of how two adults affected by mental illness get better with medication and support by their family and friends.
ULM: Where can readers find you and your books online?
You can find my books on amazon, barnesandnoble.com , and on my website: http://www.surviving-mental-illness.com
Once a writer, always a writer . . .
What would you do if you came back as a ghost? You could finally write that novel . . .
Meet Arnold Showalter, ghost.
At night, Arnold haunts the magnificent underground Mystic Caverns of Appalachia. But during the day, Arnold becomes The Ghost Writer, the first “literary voice from beyond the grave.” Yet before Arnold can capitalize on his fame, he must first exorcise the “ghosts” of his own past. And it is easy to become bitter when one is dead . . .
Fortunately, Arnold’s world is rocked when he meets Clarisse, a 15-year-old fatality of a car accident. Her fresh outlook and spunky energy awaken Arnold to the real possibilities of post-life existence. Clarisse inspires a quest that takes Arnold to the farthest reaches of the universe, and deep within himself.
Rating: 5 stars
The Ghost Writer by Damon Norko is a paranormal urban fantasy. Imagine being a ghost, who is a bestseller from the beyond. However, being a ghost even a talented writer doesn’t suffice especially for Arnold. He needs something more to keep him busy. A ghost that is easily bored, is one that will get into a whole leap of trouble. Arnold needs a friend to quake his thirst in his afterlife. Fate is funny, because he ends up getting not one but many friends. Friends who will also get into major trouble along with Arnold. Arnold is a ghost that is not like any others i have read about…he days the norm. Damon Norko has created an unusual yet highly entertaining fantasy that readers everywhere will enjoy. The ghost’s journey and growth as a character are brilliant. Arnold is also, very easy to connect with…his feelings are believable and portray him as realistic. I enjoyed this short easy-to-read novella. The Ghost Writer is one that baits, lures, and hooks. Overall, I recommend it to all.
The Premise, like life, is full of contrasts. Good news has bad outcomes, one-time criminals turn out to be heroes, those with the most to live for die early, and solutions coalesce from the most confusing set of clues.
Such is the nature of this novel that coaxes the reader to suspend doubt just long enough to realize we all are just one discovery away from a completely different life.
Set in 2017, you soon realize we are as foreign to what our lives will look like then, as are our lives today when compared to them pre 9/11. When you consider the central question posed by The Premise, introspection is the result. Only you know the answer… would you take the cure?
Andy Crossfield is a first-time author, a fact that may seem hard to believe to the readers of The Premise. Set in the very near future, the plot evolves quickly, moving from a scientist who finds himself killing his co-conspirator, to a prison corporation CEO, that devises the deaths of 13 inmates in order to cover up his larger crimes, to a famous criminologist/mystery writer who becomes entangled with a beautiful, violet-eyed geneticist and tries to uncover why she is being targeted.
The Premise explores the extremes of human nature and ingenuity, and through its many twists and didn’t-see-that-coming revelations, convincingly makes the case that humanity can indeed create a better future. Strap yourself in for one helluva ride. The Premise is an adventure you won’t want to put down!
Rating: 5 stars
The Premise by Andy Crossfield is a political crime fiction that will keep readers turning the pages. There’s enough action that moves the plot in a fast pace. The suspense will hang in the air like a thick-covered blanket until the ending. Andy Crossfield’s writing is brilliant. It combines science, politics, and crime all into one magnificent read. Technology and science hand-in-hand used to solve world issues like ending diseases. The Premise shows readers how easily corruption, greed, power can occur taking everything that is good and using it for the worst. As long as there, is good there will always be evil too. The characters come from all paths of life. Creating an interesting set of characters and a lot of twists. For those who love a good murder and suspense novel, this is definitely a must read. Once readers open this book, they will not want to stop reading it. Overall, I highly recommend this story to readers everywhere.
A struggling writer and nearly bankrupt Sean O’Shea is searching for the blockbuster story from which he can create a best seller. The goal is to regain his financial independence and self-esteem. When he learns of a horrific 1936 UFO crash in Germany’s Black Forest, he chases the story to its origin. The discovery of insidious Nazi involvement peaks his interest and when he unearths secret assassinations of previous investigators, he is hooked. As his probe continues, witnesses are murdered and he becomes the target of deadly agents sent by the most powerful man in the Vatican-The Black Pope. The cover-up is greater than he ever imagined. When he discovers that UFO’s, Nazis, Wewelsburg Castle and the Vatican are connected, he has the killer story he envisioned, though it just may kill him to get it published.
Rating: 5 stars
The Vatican Protocol by Brian Gallagher is one highly entertaining novel. It’s one of the few novels that exactly holds every theory on aliens, government, and religion as well as the advance technology. As a Catholic, I enjoyed this thriller like rush, of a plot and the determination of the main character. Readers can easily lose themselves in this complex tale. The danger creates an edge of your seat thrill that readers can’t deny. I was so deep in the story that I read it all within a day.
Vatican Protocol shows a writer looking for an interesting story to write. Low and behold, Sean O’Shea finds just that…but what he didn’t expect was for his story to be more than just an interesting bestseller…it was real. Agents, UFO crash, the Black Forest and Nazis involvement is sure to gain readers’ attention. What started off as a research for a tale turn out to be a whole lot more complicated and deadly. As the writer continues with his research people are being murdered and he becomes the next target. A cover-up that involves the world’s greatest conspiracy stories is found all masterfully woven inside this remarkable read. The question on whether Sean O’Shea lives to tell it is one that readers must dive into themselves to solve. Overall, I loved reading this brilliant thriller, and I highly recommend it to readers everywhere.
Los Angeles, 1934. Mary Frances is young, restlessly married, and returning from her first sojourn in France. She is hungry, and not just for food: she wants Tim, her husband Al’s charming friend, who encourages her writing and seems to understand her better than anyone. After a night’s transgression, it’s only a matter of time before Mary Frances claims what she truly desires, plunging all three of them into a tangled triangle of affection that will have far-reaching effects on their families, their careers, and their lives.
Set in California, France, and the Swiss Alps, The Arrangement is a sparkling, sensual novel that explores the complexities of a marriage and the many different ways in which we love. Writing at the top of her game, Ashley Warlick gives us a completely mesmerizing story about a woman well ahead of her time, who would go on to become the legendary food writer M. F. K. Fisher.
Rating: 5 stars
The Arrangement by Ashley Warlick is a historical fiction piece that gives readers an inside view of one woman’s life. Love, passion, intrigue…all brilliantly written for readers to enjoy. A woman who has a passion for writing and is married to one man but falls in love with his best friend. The novel is exciting because it happens around the early 1930’s. A fascinating historical moment in time. Ashley Warlick brings readers a female character who is strong, independent, and hard working. It’s hard not to love the main character. The character’s personality is a bit bold and sassy for a woman during this time period but fits in perfectly with the fictional plot that Ashley Warlick has masterfully woven for readers enjoyment. What happens on this one woman’s journey as her heart goes back and forth between two loves and her career…is one that readers must read to figure out on their own. I was deeply enchanted by this sexy tale.
The Arrangement takes readers deep on a journey of self-discovery, love, and a promising future. The novel is steady paced yet fast-paced in certain scenes and highly suspenseful. Mary Frances has choices to make. After all, she’s a married woman to one man yet her heart goes out to another. Readers will enjoy following Mary Francis and her affairs as well as her developing writing career. Just as in real life, there are bumpy roads and Mary Francis will experience many before she arrives at the height of her career and love. Ashley Warlick has brought a sensually exciting read for her audience. Once readers open up this title, they will be instantly dragged into the life of M.F.K. Fisher (Mary Francis). What readers will love most about this character is that she isn’t sure what she wants exactly until later in the novel. This vulnerable part of her exposes her in a way that makes it easy to connect with her. Overall, this is definitely a must read for readers worldwide. A woman’s novel that everyone can enjoy and be sucked into from the first page onward.
As a newbie writer, I wrote several different pieces and didn’t have the time to look them over. My excitement, in writing them, caused me to hit publish. But my writing was far from ready…
It took me a long time to go back to my published writing. I saw negative comments and poor ratings on some of my work. After reading them, I can’t argue against the negative statements.
I looked over the work. As soon as they were opened, I was shocked. Had I really pubished this? Was I super blind to these errors? Anyone could plainly see how bad the writing was. The grammar was beyond recognition.
Terrified and replused by my own lack of writing, I instantly took them offline. I combed through each page. I felt worse with every step. It was like a heavy weight had been dumped onto my shoulders. I wanted to cry.
No wonder, it was so bad to others.
To myself, it looked awful.
As a newbie writer, boy did I learn my lessons well. I will never publish another piece, after writing it, without proofreading it first.
I also, learned that no matter how excited I was nor how many I wrote, publishing them takes a lot more work.
At the time I published each piece, I thought it was ready. I thought, woo hoo, I’m an author!
But that’s not so. Being an author isn’t just jotting words on a page no matter how good they sound as you type away. It’s the process of writing, reading, revising, and reading it again. Or revising it as many times as possible before it goes live. Once live, everyone can see every word and will critique them harshly.
Be prepared, don’t rush into publishing like I did as a newbie writer.
Be patient. Read, revise, read, and re-write your piece again.
Also, I would recommend having someone, who is willing to take the time to actually read through what you have written before publishing, just in-case you missed something. Sometimes, writers miss the most common errors in their writing. It’s always best to have another set of eyes to look over and read what you have written.
My last recommendation is to have a second person to look over your writing. Sometimes, the person we first choose will only skim through it instead of throughly reading what we gave them. They can say it’s perfect and ready, and you won’t realize the mistakes, until after publishing it live. Do not make that mistake! I did. First, the mistakes in my own writing is entirely my fault. Second, you can’t always count on others to read every page like you would like them to do. I think as readers, we read faster through the slow parts and slower at the exciting parts.
Even, if you spent ages writing your piece, still read it over, revise it a few times over, and read it again. Also, let others read and judge it before you decide or think it’s ready.
After going through the mistakes and writing about them, I hope that other writers won’t make the same mistakes, I did.
Enid Part 3
“Polly – what have done you done?” screams Enid, in my head. The realisation of what I have just done hits me hard. I let go of the phone receiver and it clatters onto the stone floor.
I can hear the operator asking me to confirm my location but I can’t bring myself to say anything. They will trace the call.
“I told you to stop Enid but you wouldn’t listen” I whimper, kneeling onto the kitchen floor. Hot tears stream down my face.
“You have made me so angry Polly” shouts Enid. “Go into the backroom now so that I can start my waitress shift and sort this mess out!”
I shake my head. Enid’s shift must not start tonight.
“Polly do what I say, I am strong and you are WEAK!” hollers Enid, in my head.
“I can’t Enid” I say, wiping away my tears with my apron.
“But I did it for us Polly. You know that!” Enid exclaims.
“I never asked you to kill all those men” I say feeling very cold and starting to shiver as their faces flash across my mind.
“Polly I killed them for a reason, you know this. I did it to get back at that nasty trucker who did those horrid things to you, all those years ago” says Enid.
A familiar dark feeling glides across me. I can smell his pungent body odour, garlic breath and gasoline reeking clothes. I can feel his grubby hands on my neck.
“I know Enid” I whisper, bringing my knees up to my chin and rocking fast to block out the images of him.
“He never paid for what he did to you Polly, there was no justice” says Enid calmly.
I shake my head and break into uncontrollable sobbing at the thought of him, lurking in the shadows outside of the diner. Waiting.
“I was there for you Polly after he left you for dead in the parking lot. I nursed you through all that. I made sure you never worked another night shift again, just to keep you safe” said Enid.
“Oh Enid what have I done?” I cry out, staring at the phone receiver. “You are right. You were there for me after he drove away in his truck, and this is how I repay you. I am so sorry.”
“Its ok Polly, he made you weak” says Enid.
“He changed me Enid” I say rubbing my face hard until it starts to burn. Anger bubbles furiously inside me as I think about his grinning face.
“Let me start my shift Polly. I will get rid of customer no.8 and then do you know what we are going to do?” gushes Enid excitedly.
“What Enid?” I ask.
“We will work out how we can track him down. If we have to close the diner and travel for days, we will do it. We will find him and make sure he never harms another waitress ever again” says Enid.
I stare up at the stained kitchen ceiling, imagining Enid and I getting in our rusted
old wagon, hitting the highway and tracking him down. Unleashing Enid on him would give me such satisfaction. She is unstoppable at times.
After she has finished with him and he lies dying in the back of his truck I could appear. Stand over his choking body and tell him all about the pain and turmoil he inflicted on me, all those years ago.
Enid and I could return to the diner, happy in the knowledge that my agony would be over. There would no more killing. Enid would be a changed person. I can almost imagine it.
“Come on Polly, this has to end” says Enid. The word ‘end’ reverberates around my head.
Rising slowly I get to my feet and head out to the back room.
“Good girl” says Enid.
I stand by the mirror and wait for the change in waitress.
“This has to end” I murmur to myself.
“Polly what are you doing?” asks Enid.
I can hear sirens wailing in the distance. They are coming.
“This has to end” I say softly, staring at the mirror.
“Polly stop this now. Hurry! Come on we don’t have time…..wait…stop…what are you doing?” shouts Enid.
“Enid I am strong and you are weak” I say, grabbling hold of Enid’s little green bottle, containing the liquid that she has used so many times on her truckers. Flicking open the top I put it to my lips and throw back my head, tipping the cool liquid down my throat.
Enough is enough. Sometimes you just have to let it go.
Have You Ever Wondered…
What it would be like to a book reviewer? Or an author? Or an editor? Or just an article writer?
Well… I can definitely say that the have many same traits. One being that they all have to learn how to write well. Why is writing well is so important? Because it is the very first fundamental that all writers need to learn before moving onto the second step.
What do writers need to learn in order to write well? First, they need to learn grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and usage.
Where does one acquire these must need skills? In school. Or you can take a free English course that covers all the above on sites such as Alison, Coursera, Canvas, and Udemy. Or take classes from Universal Class. Their courses are structured to teach you what you need to know. Plus, you get a certificate with documented CEU’s. Which of course helps build up your resume! 🙂
Now, what is the second step? After learning the basics in a free or paid course writers, then move onto interning.
Why should writers apply or an internship? Because internships help build a writer’s reputation, connections, and teaches them hands-on what the ins and outs are in writing. Some internships pay the intern and some don’t. But, I highly recommend that you complete at least two non-paying internships to build up experience, which is what you will need for a paying internship. Then apply or one that pays you while doing what you love to do!
Next, after completing several internships under your belt you now have the experiences, tools, and connections to continue onto the third step!
If you are wanting to become an author, there are many tools out there to help you grow your full potential. Kindle Direct Publishing is a free service that allows authors to publish their work as eBooks. eBooks are the most popular reading format that readers choose. Why? Because they are easy to access everywhere and on the go! They also cost less and save the trees. Plus, they can be bought from literally every bookstore that exists today.
– It is very important that every writer is an active reader. Read, read, and read! Reading helps writers improve their thought process.
– Another thing all writers should do is practice writing. Write every day. Whether short or long. Practice, practice, and practice writing! The only way to perfect one’s writing.
These two important reminders are the sole keys or every writer whether he or she wants to become an article writer, author, blogger, book reviewer, or an editor.
What is a writer’s schedule like? A book reviewer’s, an author’s, and an article writer’s schedule is chaotic. There are always deadlines popping up that need to be finished. There are always more books to review. There are tons of articles that are 500 words in length that need to be written daily for companies’ websites. And the pressure or an author to complete his or her book is tough. Writer’s block can happen halfway through a book. So, being a writer in any field requires the utmost patience!
Book reviewer’s job: Requires that the reviewer can at least review two novels a week. Most book reviews are 300-500 words in length. A book review consists of two paragraphs. The first paragraph needs to be about the books. A brief summary o what it was like without giving away too much of the plot. Also, need to mention the author, the writing style, characters, plot, setting, the targeted audience and would you recommend it to others. The second paragraph is made up solely on your opinions of the book. What did you think o it? What could have improved the book to make it better? What did you like and not like about the book?
Article Writer: An article writer’s job is to follow all terms on what each article is to be about, how it should be formatted, and what type of article needs to be written. Whether it’s a promotion of a product, educational, or informative. Each article is anywhere from 150-500 words each. Most article writers are required to write 10 five hundred word articles each week! All articles are can be a variety of weird topics. For example dog beds. Try writing an informative article using 500 words on the topic of dog beds. And no plagiarism! Article writers have to do a ton of research on each and every topic they are given. Being an article writer is not the easiest job.
While You Were Writing is a dazzling romance novel! The man character is a male writer who poses as as old man to his town. One day while at the grocery store, the male writer acts like a grumpy old man tossing items on the floor and putting other items in his pockets. Nearby, a brother and sister make a bet over the old man. The sister works her way into finding out more about the “old man”. She proposes the idea of her staying at his house to work on her art work. The writer tries to brush her off, but this woman sticks to trying to persuade him to let her stay at his house. He finally agrees to let her stay at his house and immediately regrets telling her that she could. Once at his house, she finds out he is a hoarder! And that the “old man” is actually not old. Despite his rule about not touching him, the female artist manages to break the rule many times. Their attraction seems to grow little by little. Will this artist be able to break this man into a nice human being or will all her attempts to tame him go to waste? Will the writer fall in love with the beautiful artist? Or will he stay being a hermit? I highly enjoyed reading Virginia Nelson’s novel. Her two main characters were the perfect opposites that worked quite well together for this incredible story. A very well written plot that keeps you guessing! I definitely would recommend this stunning book readers everywhere! I rate the novel a 5 out of 5 stars!