Posted in adventure, authors, books, children, conflict, family, fiction, forgiveness, mass murder, pain, parents, writers

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Posted in 2014, 80's, dating, friends, funny, guy, help, parents, readers, romance, rules, technology, writing

9 Ways Dating Has Changed In The Thirty Years I Have Been Away

candy 2013

Candy Cooper McDowall

This is a Facebook post from my daughter that I wish to share with you (with her permission).  I am sure you will love it as much as I did. No author/writer lessons here today or  Author Interview. But I think you will find some wisdom and humor.

posted August 22, 2014 at 4:51pm

When I was a teenager, my father told me I was not allowed to date until I was 16. Yes, you read that right. 16. That’s not to say I didn’t hit the occasional basketball game with a “friend” or double-date for the movies (that we walked to). But for a legitimate date, one that involved alone time between me and A BOY, I had to wait until that magical age of teen maturity. Sweet 16.

I remember pretty distinctly sitting at the dinner table telling my dad that I had been asked out for my first date, and having to ask his permission to go. He tried to be funny. He failed. I will leave the out the details.

However, this was 1982 or thereabouts. There were rules. Some of them were imposed by my dad. Some were just, you know, how it was done. But there were guidelines we pretty much all knew ahead of time. It never occurred to me they might be variable. They just… were. Which, I suppose, was fairly naïve considering dating in the 8Os was not very much like dating in the 50s, which is equally not like dating in the 20s. Still, these were the times I knew, along with the rest of my contemporaries. We were trying to act all grownup in our awkward bodies with our rampant hormones and having no idea what we were doing, guessing at societal norms in order to know how to proceed. Whether we followed them or not is not the point. They were there.

Fast forward 30 years…or so…

Stepping back out into the world of dating as a single woman in her 40s, with almost grown children watching, has been daunting. I’ve changed. The world has changed. But the one thing I did not expect is that DATING HAS CHANGED. Caught me totally off guard with that one.

I was scared enough as it is, with my previously unscarred heart now battered and slightly bruised. But at least, I thought, this time I had experience. This time, I knew what was coming. This time, I am all grown up in my not-too-shabby-for-my-age body, possibly with some raging hormones (which are likely menopausal), having some idea of what I am doing, because this time I KNOW the societal norms that tell me how to proceed. Whether I follow them or not is not the point. THIS TIME at least I know the rules.

Hah. Ahaha. Ahahahahahahaha!  WRONG.

I give you…online dating.

If you had said the words “online dating”  in the 80s we would have wondered what laundry had to do with your love life.

And so at this time, I would like to enumerate for you lucky souls who are NOT negotiating this newly-laid digital landmine, or maybe those of you who are jumping into those waters again, what is it like to be a teenager of the 80s dating in this new millenium. For those of you already doing it, high five for bravery.

80s Rule #1 – If a boy asks you out, he probably likes you.

I mean, he had to get up the nerve, look you in the eye (or write you a note), get made fun of by his friends, and then wait nervously for you to say yes. You don’t do all that for somebody you aren’t really interested in. It’s too nerve-wracking.

2014 Version – If you see a picture of someone you find interesting, and he sees yours, you might start a conversation. You will probably be emailing or texting for awhile. This might lead him to ask if you possibly want to get coffee or something. Maybe. He might just flirt. Or be cautiously distant so that you aren’t sure if he is interested or just bored from sitting home alone. And then right about the time YOU are ready to ask HIM if he wants to get coffee or something, because, you know, you are a modern confident woman and he already said he likes coffee, he will suddenly disappear and delete his profile. Likely in the middle of the conversation you were having and probably right after he just asked you out for that coffee.

80s Rule #2 – Your date must pick you up at the door.

There was no way in hell my father was going to miss out on the chance to terrorize any potential suitor of mine, even while being polite. I think it was the smile that threw them off. The anticipation of meeting The Father was likely much worse than the experience of meeting The Father himself.

2014 Version – Your date must not know where you live for a very long time.

It’s very possible you don’t have a good idea of what your date really looks like, since those pics he uploaded were from when he still had hair. (Side note: Beware the naked bathroom selfie. That would have gotten you arrested in 1982.) And since you are a single woman now, probably alone in the house in the primping hours prior to any first date, for safety’s sake, a new guy can’t get within 100 yards of you without a room full of caffeinated strangers, who may or may not be looking up when you walk in, but could at least call 911 if they heard screaming.

80s Rule #3 – Your date pays for dinner.

His dad probably slipped him a 20 on the way out the door, and reminded him to tip the waiter.

2014 Version – You get there early enough to buy your own coffee so there is no awkward reaching for your wallet as he reaches for his, not knowing if he really wants to buy your coffee or just feels socially obligated. Or he buys his own coffee and leaves you standing there feeling like a dolt for assuming those were together.

80s Rule #4 – If it is a nice date, he might ask you out again before the night is over.

I mean, you like each other. It was fun. Why not?

2014 Version – If it is a nice date, he will likely wait until he gets home, and then text or email you a day or two (or 5) later to see if you would like to go out again.

I had a guy say to me in all honesty, “I never ask a woman out for a second date while we are still on the first date, because then it avoids the whole awkward refusal thing.” Because truthfully, the chance of being turned down for the second date is much higher when you don’t know each other to begin with. I can’t exactly fault the guy. So you might be waiting for awhile for that second request. Or it might not be coming at all. Hard to say.

80s Rule #5 – If it is a nice date, there might be a goodnight kiss.

There might not, if one or both of you is shy. But there was little chance of more happening on that first date than a bit of awkward groping in the driveway. Not to say that more wouldn’t happen later, but much first date action was unlikely.

2014 Version – You have to state in writing on a public forum whether or not you are willing to have sex on a first date.

I wish I was joking.

80s Rule #6 – Once you are a couple, it is ok to slide across the bench seat and sit next to him while he is driving.

2014 Version – First, you probably aren’t even in his car for awhile. See Rule #2. But if you have made it that far, the bench seat is long gone. The best you can do is try to hold hands over the console between the bucket seats and hope you don’t lose feeling in your wrist.

80s Rule #7 – If your friends like him, he’s probably ok.

2014 Version – If he’s ok, your friends might like him. But not necessarily.

80s Rule #8 – If things don’t work out, there is probably an emotional breakup in person, but if he’s a real heel, it might be over the phone.

But if he did that.. COWARD! Couldn’t even look you in the eye. (spit) And then all your friends and family get to say mean things about him, and he wasn’t worth your time anyway.

2014 Version – If things don’t work out, a text message is a convenient and efficient way to get out of a potential relationship without having to bear witness to the other person’s heart breaking right in front of you.

But then, all your friends and family get to say mean things about him, and he wasn’t worth your time anyway.

Some things don’t change that much at all.

80s Rule #9 – If it all goes well, you gaze happily into each other’s eyes, put your picture in the newspaper, and start planning that over-the-top wedding with the giant cake and people from your dad’s office you’ve never met.

2014 Version – If all goes well, you slowly introduce each other to your respective children, quietly move in together one dresser drawer at a time, and maybe sneak off in a private little ceremony to tie the knot at some point. But not necessarily. Let’s not move too fast here.

Wish me luck. At least now I know the rules.

Candy Cooper McDowall ©2014

 

Posted in authors, characters, children, Christian, coming of age, fiction, Indie, KIndle, mystery, novels, parents, readers, teaching our children, Young Adult

Cheryl Abney writes Middle-Grade Historical Fiction

cheryl abney

Cheryl Abney is a retired educator with over 30 years’ experience as a teacher and counselor at all levels—college, high school, middle, and elementary. She is a current member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Florida Writers’ Association, Gulf Coast Writers’ Association, and the Society of Children’s Writers and Book Illustrators. Cheryl loves to create historical fiction stories and has written two middle-grade readers set in the Florida Lake Okeechobee area, circa 1918—Belle of the Glades, and its sequel, The Bone Field Mystery. She lives in the Florida Glades area of her story’s setting with her husband, two Jack Russell terriers (Zoey & Ditto), and her tortoise (Theo). She loves her current freelance position of creating short historical fiction stories for www.TheFreedomkids.com, and she hopes you’ll like reading them as much as she has enjoyed writing them.

Cheryl Abney weaves a new adventure in the old frontier as a young city girl meets rustic fish camp in her book Belle of the Glades. When recently orphaned Isabelle Lacy, is sent to live with her uncle on the shores of Lake Okeechobee in 1918, a whole new world is opened to her–a world shared with snakes, alligators, outlaws, and a new Indian friend.

 The Bone Field Mystery is the sequel to Belle of the Glades, and it takes Belle on an adventure to solve whether there is a Bigfoot at the Bone Field. Both Christian oriented middle-grade readers can be purchased online at www.BelleoftheGladesBooks.com as an e-book or softcover through links to Amazon and Barnes & Noble (iUniverse for Belle of the Glades only).

 

 The_Bone_Field_Myste_Cover_for_Kindle Cheryl Abney

Cheryl, do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I think I inherited my note-writing from my father, who would leave these small manila- work-tags scribbled with notes on his desk (the top of the refrigerator). I kept diaries when younger and still journal, was PTA secretary a number of years, and loved English and shorthand classes. My first remembered interest dates back to a fourth grade activity of creating a class poetry book—which I still have. We each had to create three poems for this hard-cover book. I was ecstatic.
What type of writing do you do?

I have written nonfiction articles for magazines, newspapers, websites like The Parenting Network and Kids Faith Garden, but my books and short stories are historical fiction for middle-grade readers. That’s where my heart is.

Why did you choose the self-publishing Indie route? Why did I choose this publisher and would you recommend that same Indie publisher?

I was probably premature to self-publish BOTG, because I’d only submitted it half a dozen times, and was encouraged to hang tough by a writing mentor. I retired in 2011 and I wanted to see it in print…felt I didn’t have the advantage of youth to wait years. I chose iUniverse after speaking with a friend who used them, and I did my homework researching the different Indies. My sequel, TBFM, was published through CreateSpace. It involved more work on my part, but I had more control over the product price…which dictates our profit margin.

I know that feeling of wanting to hold your book in your hands. I don’t think patience is an easy virtue for authors.

Do you always write in the same POV or do you switch it up.

I have always written my books in third person POV. It wasn’t until this year, when hired to write historical-fiction short stories for middle graders in first person, that I attempted this POV. It was definitely a learning curve, but I do feel it more effective in getting your reader into the story—as if they’re experiencing it.

I am also working on my adult historical romance, but keeping it in third person POV; so yes, I’m switching it up. I find I have to edit the short, first-person stories carefully so I don’t slip back into my books’ POV.

Are you a pantser or a planner?

I have done both, but I tend to grab an idea and jot a few notes, then write, write, write. I usually end up stopping at some point and creating a plan. But over all, I’m a pantser. I must admit to trying some excellent planning programs, but don’t follow through with them. However, I think it’s extremely important that you do lengthy character sketches of each main character before starting to write. I clip pictures from magazines for images. I’ve heard it said that you don’t “write what you know, but who you know.” Personalities, I steal from people I know. I heard one author assigned character names starting with the letter of the known person’s name, who she could relate the character’s personality to. Important thing, is to get to know your character well, before writing.

What advice would I give to new writers just started with their first manuscript?

Two notes of advice—join a supportive, productive writers’ group and an editing group; and practice discipline. Set a definite, nonnegotiable time of the day to write, and write most every day. I’m most productive when I treat my writing like the business it is—showing up regularly.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I enjoyed reading Patrick Smith’s A Land Remembered, and Zora Neale Hurston’s There Eyes Were Watching God, both about the everglades; I thought it’d be enjoyable and educational to write about the area I reside in from a young reader’s view.

How did you come up with the title?

When I was a young college student first introducing myself to a class, the professor kiddingly referred to me, that one instance, as “Belle of the Glades.” I’ve never forgotten it, even though I now know the label was referring to Belle Glade (my residence then) by its original name.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

May sound corny, but I like to think it says “home is where the heart is.” Home has nothing to do with money, possessions, popularity, location—but a lot to do with security found in family, faith, and friendship.

How much of the book is realistic?

The dates and locations of the islands and settlements bordering Lake Okeechobee, the Palm Beach Canal, 1918 flu epidemic, and environment are realistic. I’ve created the Glades Runner, Sam’s store, and Hayes’s Fish Camp—but representative of the real things.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Pieces of every author creep into their writings. In BOTG, my youth was more like Belle’s after she came to live at her uncle’s fish camp. I loved wading and catching pollywogs, frogs, and turtles in the pond near home. My friends and I climbed the sand hills and wandered paths in the woods.

What book are you reading now?

I enjoy historical books like BOTG. Right now I’m reading the second in a series that started with an historical time-travel plot—Tomorrow & Always by Barbara Bretton. It’s captivating, as I hope Belle of the Glades is.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

I belong to several writing groups, but Gulf Coast Writers Association (Fort Myers) has definitely been the most interactive and rewarding. They meet the third Saturday of every month. I also meet with three other ladies, Critique Critters, to edit each other’s work once a month.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Francine Rivers is my favorite author. I just finished her current series that starts with Her Mother’s Hope (Marta’s Legacy). It is historical and crosses three generations. This Christian author, whom I’ve heard and met at conference, writes detailed accounts of another time and place, so that the reader is transported to that era.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)

No, because I’ve lived in the area of my setting, Lake Okeechobee, for 43 years. I have, however, visited many of the museums within driving distance to research the material in BOTG. Have you learned anything from writing your book?

I’ve learned how difficult it is to publish and market a book for profit. I’ve learned to stress less and enjoy the journey. An author needs to enjoy the accomplishment—the fruition of their efforts. Enjoy the kind comments and support from readers, and keep their eyes on the original goal to share knowledge and pleasure. I would advise young writers to follow their dream now—for it’s true that “tomorrow never comes.”

Writing for profit has a long learning curve, so take advantage of writing clubs, online seminars, workshops—and write. Google “young author publishers,” and check out CreateSpace. Parents can encourage their children’s writing by helping them navigate CreateSpace and publish 5 copies of their book for a minimal fee.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

A link to a short-story sample can be found at www.BelleoftheGladesBooks.com, as well as book purchase links. I hope you enjoy Belle’s adventure and will contact me.

Thank you so much for a wonderful interview.  Cheryl’s  books are available through:

Create Space:  The Bone Field Mystery:    http://www.createspace.com/4500669

Her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylabney

iUniverse : http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000603311/Belle-of-the-Glades.aspx

Her website:  www.BelleoftheGladesBooks.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in authors, children, counselors, humor, Indie, non-fiction, parents, peaceful, purpose, relax, writers, writing

Laughter Salad by Kimberly Borin

 Kimberly Borin pic

Joanne:  Welcome Kimberly.  Learning and Growing with Laughter Salad is such a fun title.  When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

Kimberly:  At a young age, I wanted to be a writer.  I loved reading and would spend hours reading Nancy Drew books and more.  I distinctly remember reading one quote by Eudora Welty, that granted me permission to be a writer.  In her book, One Writer’s Beginnings, on the last page she writes, “As you have seen, I am a writer who came of a sheltered life.  A sheltered life can be a daring life as well.  For all serious daring starts from within.”  Her last words seemed to free me up to know that I too could become a writer.  I am still writing, and for some writing, I still feel like someone trying to be a writer.  I am grateful for her simple words of encouragement and freedom to pursue my heart’s calling.

Joanne:   Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

Kimberly:  I belong to a writing group called, The Sunrise Circle Writer’s Group.  This group of women encouraged me to write, find my voice and tell my story.  I have had plenty of writing courses and have had to learn how to write for public relations, education, dissertation research and more.  I am always learning to write in a new style and my first book Laughter Salad helped me learn to write in the first person, as a personal narrative.  Of course, there is still so much to learn and so much to hone too!  The skill I did not know I needed was the courage to put my voice out there and promote my book. This skill seems to be a little tougher to develop!

Joanne:   Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indie publisher to a colleague?

Kimberly:  I chose the self-publishing route because I was in a hurry to publish my book – I had to have it done within a year – and my friends had already used a self-publisher.  My first book was through iUniverse – I would never recommend them to anyone.  I have since published two books through CreateSpace, which I adore!  I work with a wonderful formatter, who is a lifesaver and allows the CreateSpace process to be easy for me.  I would highly recommend Judy Loose and her formatting services.

Joanne:   Authors and publishers are always talking about finding your “Voice”. Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?

Kimberly:  I am continually finding my voice.  In my first book, Laughter Salad I tried to just be myself and speak from a very honest place.  Of course, as soon as it was published, I said to my family, “I hope NO ONE buys the book!”  I felt so very vulnerable and afraid that people might see my inner feelings.  In my second book, Laughter Salad for Little Ones, I was writing letters to children.  My school counselor and friend voice came through in my writing and it was fun to see that on paper.  For my third book, Learning and Growing with Laughter Salad, I was writing stories and lessons for my colleagues who are counselors, teachers, and parents too.  I kept moving from a personal voice to a professional voice – it felt a little unnerving but seemed like what I was called to do.  I see that finding my voice also requires much silence, waiting and listening within.  The silence allows me to hear the small whispering voice, that I eventually bring to life on the page.

Joanne:   It is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

Kimberly:  This is a great question, one I wrestle with weekly!  I am starting in small ways.  I work with local book shops to have book signings.  I enjoy being local and seeing friends that I know.  I have also given talks at our local libraries and in schools.  I often incorporate my work into my yoga classes too.  I am slowly and surely finding my voice in the marketing world.  At the moment, I am also relying on serendipity, synchronicity, some prayers and a miracle or two! (Doing more marketing is also my New Year’s resolution!  J)

Joanne:   What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

Kimberly:  Learning and Growing with Laughter Salad offers over 60 activities that bring simple moments of peace, relaxation, and nourishment to the lives of children, and the adults who work with them. This is the perfect book for teachers, counselors, parents, and anyone who works with children. The book is divided into three chapters, each one highlighting activities using Nature, Relaxation, and Stories.

These simple lessons are perfect for the classroom, counseling office, or the outdoors. They are easy to use and can be adapted to meet the needs of students of any age. In a matter of minutes students can feel centered, calm, and connected to all that is around them. These mindful activities also help children develop deeper compassion and caring for themselves. If you take a moment to flip through the playful activities within Learning and Growing with Laughter Salad, I promise, you’ll feel nourished, relaxed, and peaceful too!

Joanne:  Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to wet out appetite?

The Cover Design LS3i 11Best2

Here is a sample activity from the chapter on Relaxation:

Activity #1: Beginning Relaxation Strategies

In school, we want students to be able to handle stress by practicing simple relaxation strategies. We know that with practice, students can learn to calm down, ease anxiety, and easily feel at peace when they need to. These are skills we want our students to have as they take a test, prepare for a big game, make a speech, interview for a job or college, or ease their worries.

Please note that the activities suggested in this book require adult assistance and supervision. If you have any doubts or questions about the suitability of these exercises for a student’s social, emotional, or physical needs, please consult a healthcare practitioner. Below are some very simple and basic strategies to help with relaxation:

  • Awareness of Body Tension and Feelings – First, we have students take a moment to see how they feel, physically and emotionally. Students are asked to notice how they feel while sitting at their desks. We ask them to notice muscles that feel tired, sore, or energized. We also ask them to notice how they are feeling – happy, sad, concerned, tired, etc. We want them to know that they have the ability to change how they feel, but first they have to figure out what is happening and what they need. We also encourage them to talk with a trusted adult if they need help with any of their feelings.
  • Postural Awareness Students are asked to become aware of how they sit at their desks. We help them notice when they may be slouching and when they are sitting up tall. We point out how much more oxygen and breathing is possible when students sit up straight with good posture. Sitting with good posture can also allow them to feel more confident, alert, and energized throughout the day.
  • Simple Breathing Techniques Next, children are encouraged to take a deep breath. So often throughout the day, we don’t even think about our breathing and we forget how relaxing a long inhalation or exhalation can be. We practice taking a large inhale and then allow the breath to “travel” all the way down to our feet before exhaling. This long exhalation is the key to relaxing. When students are practicing just two or three breaths, we also ask them to be silent and notice sounds in the room, which will enhance their listening skills, concentration, and awareness.
  • Progressive Relaxation We also talk about progressive relaxation, which is used by professional and Olympic athletes, rock stars, corporate CEOs and more. Students are taught to tense muscles when inhaling and then relax them while exhaling. We start with our feet and tense and relax knees, stomachs, backs, arms, and shoulders. This simple act of tensing the muscles and relaxing them creates a more relaxed state as the body releases tension. Students notice a difference as they hold the tension in their muscles and then relax. This is also another good technique for managing emotions, preparing for a test or competition, or releasing fear or worry.
  • Imagination – When students are done relaxing, we ask them to use their imaginations to think about a peaceful place or an image of their “best self.” We encourage them to see their best self – with as many sensory details as possible. The images they share with us are always positive and encouraging. They have said, “I saw myself as smart and confident.” Or, “I saw myself as being a doctor, which is what I would like to do when I grow up.” We also talk about how professionals use visualization to see themselves making the perfect foul shot, scoring a touchdown, or auditioning for a Broadway play.
  • Staying Positive, Positive Self-Talk and Reframing We also speak with students about positive self-talk. In their visualizations of their best self, we ask them to choose three positive words to describe this image of themselves. We want them to notice the words they use when speaking about themselves. If the words are negative, we want them to know how to change those words to something positive. For example, if a student is saying, “I’ll never be good at math,” we want to help them reframe the words into something positive, like, “I am able to learn math in my own way and my own time. I am very capable of learning lots of new things.”
  • Other simple ideas that will help students stay positive include:

o   Laugh when you can, especially if you feel nervous.

o   Try to think in new, creative, and positive ways.

o   Use kind words, eye contact, and politeness to build a bridge to others and be an ambassador of peace. Your kindness will help others too.

o   Take good care of yourself by getting lots of sleep, eating well, and drinking water. The extra effort will keep you strong, smart, and happy!

o   Tell someone – a friend, a teacher, or any trusted adult – if something is bothering you. Telling someone is taking a positive step to help yourself.

o   Think positively about yourself. Everything that you do matters!  You never know how your kindness or help can have a positive, lasting effect on the people around you.

o   Try to learn something new. When we stretch ourselves, we realize that we are capable of great things, even when we make mistakes.

o   Take one moment (or two or three) to just take deep breaths!

o   Take one moment (or two or three) to know that you are an amazing person with unique likes, dislikes, talents, strengths, and needs!

o   Take a moment to celebrate your gifts, strengths, hopes, and dreams too!

 

Helpful Websites:

Laughter Salad: http://www.amazon.com/Laughter-Salad-Nourishing-Inspiring-Stories/dp/1475937539/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392335512&sr=8-1&keywords=Laughter+Salad

Laughter Salad for Little Ones: http://www.amazon.com/Laughter-Salad-Little-Ones-Nourishing/dp/1482371995/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392335534&sr=8-1&keywords=Laughter+Salad+for+Little+Ones

Learning and Growing with Laughter Salad: http://www.amazon.com/Learning-Growing-Laughter-Salad-Celebrating/dp/1489579125/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392335562&sr=8-1&keywords=Learning+and+Growing+with+Laughter+Salad

Kimberly’s Website, The Encouraging Works: www.TheEncouragingWorks.com

Kimberly’s Art: http://kimberlyannborin.zenfolio.com

 

Posted in authors, books, disabilities, elder care, family, Indie, love, parents, purpose, readers, remember, schools, senior care, support, writers, writing

5 time author Pauline Hayton never intended to be a writer

Pauline Hayton

Pauline Hayton was born in 1946 in the north east of England and worked as a probation officer in her hometown of Middlesbrough before emigrating to the United States in 1991. She and her husband currently live in Naples, Florida with four abandoned cats who adopted them.

She started writing in 1996, after listening to her father’s war stories and reading his wartime diaries. She found them so interesting, she felt compelled to write her first book, A Corporal’s War.

Researching for this book, she discovered the true WWII story of a remarkable woman, Ursula Graham Bower and wrote Naga Queen. While researching Naga Queen she became friends with Ursula’s daughter through whom Hayton became involved in bettering the lives of the Naga tribes in north east India. This also led to a new book,Chasing Brenda, a lighthearted adventure in Nagaland, written after the author visited Magulong village where she and her husband support a school.

Myanmar:In my Father’s Footsteps. A Journey of Rebirth and Remembrance is a travelog of a trip taken in 2006. After recovering from two battles with cancer, Hayton wanted to do something to make her feel alive and decided to visit the places where her father fought the Japanese in Burma during WWII. It was a healing, life-changing journey for her.

Her latest book, If You Love Me, Kill Me,  is based on the author’s painful, personal experiences while caring for her elderly parents.

If you Love Me, Kill Me

You can purchase her books by going to her Amazon Author page  http://www.amazon.com/Pauline-Hayton/e/B003YGSLJY/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Naga Queen by Pauline HaytonChasing BrendaA Corporal's WarIn my Fathers Footsteps

Joanne:  Pauline, it is a pleasure to have you on Author Interview Friday.  You say you never intended to be a writer, yet you have five books published. How did that happen?

Pauline: Thanks for having me, Joanne.  It’s true. I still don’t enjoy being a writer; it’s such hard, lonely work, but the stories keep coming into my head, and I need to share them for other to enjoy them. I started writing when my dad began to tell me his WWII stories. I was 55 at the time and was living in Florida after emigrating from England.  I thought them so interesting that I wanted to write them down for my grandchildren to read. They had only ever known their grandfather as a doddery old man. By reading his stories, they would discover that in his younger days he was a dynamic leader and a brave hero. His memory was detailed and incredibly accurate when he was telling me of his experiences at Dunkirk. Then he brought out the tattered diary he wrote when he was sent to India, and I discovered there were detailed records available at the Public Records Office in London and at the Imperial War Museum in London that I used to describe the bigger picture in which my dad’s personal story was taking place. The project blossomed into a book.

Joanne:   Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

Pauline:   I took a Writer’s Digest novel writing course which helped a lot and read books on writing. Before that, the only writing I had done was as a probation officer when I wrote reports about defendants for the courts.

Joanne:  How long did it take you to publish your fist manuscript?

Pauline:  It took three years. After almost 40 rejections, I self-published. My dad was growing old and before he died, I wanted him to hold his book in his hands.  

Joanne: Do you always write in the same genre?

Pauline:  No. When I was researching for “A Corporal’s War”, I came across another amazing WWII story of a young British woman who was living with the Naga tribes of NE India, doing anthropological work. She was recruited by a clandestine unit of the British Army, V Force, to spy on the Japanese who were expected to invade India. She received a medal for her activities. I knew immediately that her story would be my second book, which I called Naga Queen.  Writing this book changed my life.

Joanne:  Naga Queen changed your life? How so?

Pauline:  I became friends with Trina, the Naga Queen’s daughter, when I researched her mother’s private papers. Trina moved to New Delhi, India and became involved in the neglected Naga tribes’ welfare. She told me how sad she was that one village school looked like it was going to close, because it was so remote and most of the villagers were so poor, they could not afford to pay teachers to teach the 100 school-age children in the village. That village was Magulong, the school was Mount Kisha English School. This village was Ursula Graham Bower’s (The Naga Queen’s) favorite Naga village, and it was where she married her British Army officer husband in a true Naga ceremony. In 2007, my husband and I took on the job of sponsoring the school. Now all the children in the village are being educated. We have been there twice. The village is like paradise, well worth the eleven hour journey from the nearest town of any size, in a four-wheel drive vehicle, over crumbling mountain roads, followed by a five hour hike up a mountain. The villagers treat us like family, and indeed to us, they are our extended family. 

Joanne:   That is a fascinating story and I can see how those people have changed you forever. Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, If you Love Me, Kill Me, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore and what is the premise to the story?

Pauline: It would probably be in general fiction.  I hope If You Love Me, Kill Me will help anyone going through tough times caring for a loved one to forgive themselves for not being perfect in their care. All you can do is your best. I didn’t have a support system during the years I cared for my parents. Get one in place before you become so worn out that you don’t have the energy to do it.

Joanne:  Let’s talk a little about the writing process.  Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?

Pauline:  No. After numerous rejections, enough to paper a wall, and being a cancer survivor who wanted to ensure my stories were available for others to enjoy, I self-published. I don’t waste time trying to deal with regular publishers.

Joanne:  What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indie publisher to a colleague?

Pauline:  I published through Create Space, a part of Amazon.com. I am delighted with their service and would highly recommend them.

Joanne:  Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

Pauline:  I wrote If You Love Me, Kill Me in first person. It is a very personal story interwoven with some fiction, based on my 7 years of caring for my elderly parents.

Joanne:  Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s.

Pauline:   I generally write in third person and usually stay in chronological order. However, I wrote my dad’s story, A Corporal’s War first of all in third person then rewrote it as a memoir because, in first person, it felt more personal and poignant. If You Love Me, Kill Me I also wrote in first person for the same reason. As in If You Love Me, Kill Me, the book I am currently writing will have some flashbacks.

Joanne:  What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Pauline:  Building the story itself is the easiest part, especially since a psychic told me I had to write about my own life in order to have success in my writing. I’m afraid I laughed at her and dismissed such an idea. I couldn’t imagine anyone being interested in my life. Nevertheless, I wrote Chasing Brenda and If You Love Me, Kill Me, two stories based on personal experiences, as is the book I am currently working on. Once I decide to write a particular story, I let the idea ruminate in my subconscious and after several weeks, the storyline and title suddenly appear. Then I start pounding my keyboard. I find writing the synopsis and outline difficult and ask my writing friends to advise me about how to improve and tighten them up.  

Joanne: What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

Pauline: Marketing is my weakness. (Laughs) In my twenties, I once took a vocational guidance course as I had no idea, and therefore no direction, on what to do in my life. I scored the lowest marks possible for sales and marketing. The only things I do are to tell my Facebook friends when I have published a new book, hand out bookmarks I have designed when I meet people who are interested in my writing and ask Tom Witt of the Naples Daily News to review my books. I must say I have noticed my Amazon.com sales are slowly increasing in a few countries, which I assume is from word of mouth advertising.  

Joanne:  What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Pauline:  Don’t let the big picture of writing a novel make you freeze. Start with a vignette or a scene and build from there.

Joanne: I too was the primary care giver of my father, so I can relate to this story. I know many others will find your book encouraging and helpful when they take on this task so foreign to most of us.  Can you share a few paragraphs from If You Love Me, Kill Me, to wet out appetite?

I half carried and half dragged her into her bedroom and laid her on the bed. Her left side seemed paralyzed.

“I won’t be a minute. I’m going to call 911.”

Waiting for the ambulance, I held her hand, stroked her hair—and silently cursed God.

   How cruel can you be, you sick bastard? She’s blind, deaf, can’t walk, and now you’ve given her a stroke! Couldn’t let her die peacefully in her sleep, could you? No, you just have to keep heaping on the shit. I despise you!

The paramedics arrived, and I took them to Mum’s room.

“I think she’s had a stroke.”

They took in her distorted face, asked questions, and generally agreed it looked like a stroke.

“Which hospital do you want us to take her to?”

I was flummoxed. I hadn’t been expecting the question, thinking the paramedics would make that decision. I was too distraught to think straight.

“I don’t know.”

“The Community Hospital has the best reputation for treating heart and stroke patients,” said one paramedic.

“Oh no, I don’t want her to go there!” I blurted out. “They killed my father.”

He looked at me questioningly.

“They infected him, and he died,” I said.

“It’s where I’d take my mother,” the paramedic persisted. “It will give her the best chance.”

Overwrought, I kept looking at my mother and back to the paramedic not knowing the best thing to do. Close to tears, I surrendered my power and acquiesced to his suggestion. They quickly gathered her up and carried her from the house.

Posted in authors, books, characters, children, conflict, family, fiction, gay/lesbian, LGBT, mass murder, parents

Introducing “Town Without Mercy”

My second novel is now available on Amazon, Create Space and Kindle.

CreateSpace eStore: https://www.createspace.com/4441710

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Without-Mercy-Joanne-Simon-Tailele/dp/1494252570/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389128609&sr=8-1&keywords=Town+Without+mercy

Is it nature or nurture that drives a teenage girl to open fire in a crowd at a 4th of July celebration? Town Without Mercy, is contemporary women’s fiction dealing with current event drama of mass murder and gay marriage. Told through the eyes of the mother, a TV news correspondent, Adele must find the answer, even as it takes her away from Mercedes where she lays in a coma from the police bullet that stopped the carnage. If Adele follows the leads, the price could be her seventeen-year-old marriage to same-sex partner, Jodi Warren. The quiet town of Concord Park want revenge and they blame Adele and Jodi’s lifestyle as the cause of their daughter’s actions. But are they innocent of all blame?

Town Without Mercy by Tailele

Posted in authors, children, family, fiction, friends, love, parents, romance, small towns, writers

Author of the Maverick Junction series visits Writing Under Fire

Today I have the honor of having Lynnette Hallberg, writing as Lynnette Austin, with me on Author Interview Friday. Lynnette has six books already in print, two more scheduled for release and a ninth book in progress. All of this beginning in 2000, with the majority in the last three years. This is one busy woman. Lynnette, it is such a pleasure to have you. I know you must have tons of great advice to share with other writers and avid readers.

Lynnette Austin
Lynnette Austin

First, Joanne, I’d like to tell you how wonderful it is to stop by your blog. Thanks so much for having me. I hope everyone will get comfy, pour a cup of coffee or something cold, and enjoy!

Joanne:  Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?

Lynette:  In 2000, I sold my first book, Enchanted Evening, to Kensington. Before they could buy the second, though, the line closed. I spent the next nine years writing, writing, writing, and receiving rejection letters—even with an agent. But I kept at it—and have a pile of manuscripts in my basement to prove it.

In 2010, I heard about a fairly new small press—The Wild Rose Press—and published three books with them that year—Moonlight, Motorcycles, and Bad Boys; Night Shadows; and Chantilly Lace and a Pretty Face.

In 2011, I sold Just a Little White Lie to Carina Press, an arm of Harlequin.

Then in 2012, my new agent sold my Maverick Junction series to Grand Central Publishing in New York City. Grand Central is under the umbrella of Hachette Book Group. The first, Somebody Like You, came out last December. The second, Nearest Thing to Heaven, releases October 1st. Can’t Stop Lovin’ You will be out in February. I’m working on the fourth, tentatively titled The Heart Won’t Lie.

I guess the important point here is to never, ever give up on your dream.

Joanne:  What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Lynnette:  The first is simply to write. I know. Basic. But in order to be published, you have to keep that butt in the chair, keep that story moving, and get it finished. Then you need to go back and edit, edit, edit. When you send that baby into an agent or editor, it should be looking its Sunday best.

The second piece of advice would be to persevere. It’s so easy to get discouraged and give up. Don’t. If you really want published, hang with it, listen to advice, use what you can, and discard the rest. Always remember that the story, the voice is yours. You will not fail in your quest for publication until YOU quit trying. Perseverance truly is the keystone to getting and staying published.

I’ll share, too, a piece given to me by another writer, one I think is so important. Someone told me early on to keep in mind that the writing community is actually quite small. Editors and agents move around a lot. Don’t burn your bridges—ever. Always remember this is a profession and behave accordingly. Don’t let your emotions rule.

Okay. A couple more things. J Writing is a habit, kind of like exercise. Train yourself to grab spare minutes rather than waiting for those huge blocks of time. When I was still teaching, I’d get up at four-thirty or five in the morning so I could write for an hour or so before getting ready for school. When I came home, I’d write for half an hour before starting dinner. It’s often about making time and setting expectations.

Keep writing—every day—and keep the story moving forward. Don’t worry about getting every word, every scene perfect the first time through. So many new writers work and rework those first few chapters, polishing them until they shine. That won’t get the book completed. Chances are, by the time you do finish, you’ll have to go back and edit those first chapters again anyway because by then you’ll know your characters inside and out. You’ll know what they’d do and how they’d react so much better than you did when you started that manuscript. Don’t waste time striving for perfection on the first draft.

Keep in mind, too, that yes, your manuscript is your baby. Yes, you’ve poured your heart and soul into it. Yes, you’re deathly afraid an agent or editor might say something bad about that baby. If you don’t submit, though, you won’t sell. That’s one of the few guarantees in this business.

Joanne:  What is the biggest mistake you made early in your career?

Lynnette: I think the biggest mistake I made was in not following up when an editor sent a rejection letter asking to see my manuscript again after specific rewrite suggestions. I made the rookie mistake of assuming that was simply her way of letting me down easy, and that’s so not true. If an editor takes the time to give you suggestions and asks to see it again after you’ve made them, he or she is serious. Editors—and agents—have way too much work to do to spend time on a manuscript that doesn’t show promise for their line.

Joanne:  What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

Lynnette:  Nearest Thing To Heaven is the second in my Maverick Junction series and, at heart, it’s a story about being given a second chance at love.

Maverick Junction, Texas, is kind of the quintessential small town, full of quirky characters and neighbors who watch out for each other, who take care of each other. I love writing small towns. There’s a flavor to them that can only exist there. Maverick Junction is a blend of every small town I’ve ever been in. I swear, after spending three books, and now working on a fourth, in this Texas town, I know it as well as I do my small hometown in Pennsylvania. Maverick Junction—and its people—have become very real to me.

With the holiday season fast approaching. Sophie London finds herself back in Maverick Junction for her cousin’s wedding to Cash Hardeman and runs headlong into Ty Rawlins, the widowed father of rambunctious triplets. Sophie, owner of Stardust Productions, believes in fairies and magic. Long-horned cattle, wide-open spaces, and four-year-olds with fishing worms dangling from their poles are enough to make any city girl run all the way back to Illinois in her Jimmy Choos. Ty, busy with the day-to-day duties as single daddy and owner of the Burnt Fork Ranch, has no time for romance. He’s had love and lost it. Yet he finds himself thinking of Sophie night and day. Can Ty convince both himself and Sophie that Maverick Junction is where she belongs, right beside him and his boys?

Nearest Thing to Heaven

Nearest Thing To Heaven will be released October 1st. It’s currently available for preorder on both Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Nearest-Heaven-Maverick-Junction-ebook/dp/B00A2DONIU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377959365&sr=8-1&keywords=nearest+thing+to+heaven

and Barnes and Noble:   http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/nearest-thing-to-heaven-lynnette-austin/1113742241?ean=9781455528387

 Joanne:  Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to wet out appetite?

 

Nearest Thing To Heaven

Ty Rawlins banged around in his kitchen, feeling more than a little frayed along the edges. Things weren’t going well. He glanced at the clock, then did a double take. The thing was practically sideways on the wall. Twelve o’clock settled somewhere around the spot where two o’clock should be. One of the triplets must have whacked it with a sword during last night’s duel to the death.

Guess he’d have to hang it higher.

He should have let one of the hands finish up the horse feeding so he’d have enough time for the kid feeding. Somehow, time was something he never had enough of.

Okay, so he was a single parent. All across America, single moms managed to take care of the kids, the house, and hold down a job. If they could do it, he sure as hell ought to be able to.

And now he had to go to this damn dinner tonight. He dropped a spoon into the far-from-empty sink. It wasn’t that he wasn’t happy for Cash and Annie. He was. But it stirred up memories he didn’t want to visit. Memories of far happier times now gone. Forever.

A crash sounded from somewhere in the vicinity of the living room.

“Uh-oh. Daddy’s going to be mad.”

That would be Jonah, Ty thought. The conscience of the trio.

“It was your fault.”

Jesse, the finger-pointer.

Ty set the pan of over-cooked spaghetti on a hot pad and strode off to the front of the house to check out the latest damage. He took a deep breath and surveyed the mess. Nobody was hurt. No blood anywhere. And Josh was right. Nothing was broken. In the grand scheme of things, this was a minor bump. A mere blip on the uh-oh meter.

Again, thanks so much for having me today! It’s been fun! Please come visit me at http://www.authorlynnetteaustin.com. Nearest Thing to Heaven, along with Somebody Like You, may be purchased through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. My earlier books are published under Lynnette Hallberg.

Posted in authors, children, family, favorite books, fiction, friends, love, parents, wishes, writers

Turning Back the Clock [My Three Wishes Blog Blitz]

blogblitz-logo

Today I’m participating in the Three Wishes Blog Blitz, hosted by author Juliet Madison! From 2nd to 6th September you’ll have the chance to win some awesome prizes at all the blogs participating in the blitz, including mine. All you have to do is follow my instructions below for winning the prize I have on offer, and then you can click over to Juliet’s blog to enter her prize draw, and see the list of all other blogs taking part and enter their giveaways as well. How cool is that? Why is it called the Three Wishes Blog Blitz? Juliet’s new  romantic comedy release, I Dream of Johnny, is about three wishes, a high-tech genie in a lamp, and one very unfortunate typo that proves magic isn’t all it cracked up to be…

What if we could turn back time? If you had three wishes about turning back the clock, what would they be? Stop 9-11 from happening? Of course, but I don’t think I have the skill or no-how to do that. So . . . on a lighter note.  If I could turn back the clock,  I would

1) have believed in myself to make the tough decisions that I either:  a) didn’t do at all   b) made wrong decisions because of  lack of faith in myself.

2) have taken better care of my body so I don’t have all these aches and pains now (or is that just old age?)

3) told more people that I loved them, and more often.

What would YOUR three wishes be if you could turn back time?  Let’s play “Back to the Past” (not the Future) Every person that leaves a comment with their three wishes about Turning Back Time, will get his/her name thrown in the hat for a copy of my debut novel, ACCIDENT.  AND, if you LIKE this on Facebook, your name will go in twice.  BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE, since wishes come in  threes, if also link back to Juliet’s page and LIKE her blog, your name will go in the hat a 3rd time.

Accident cover for Outskirts

The competition closes at 12pm Friday 6th September.

Once you’ve entered my giveaway, visit Juliet’s blog & enter her giveaway too, and visit any or all of the other participating blogs to enter more prize draws. You could potentially win a whole heap of prizes! Good luck! Visit the official Blog Blitz post here: http://julietmadison.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/3-wishes-blog-blitz-official-post/

Blurb about ACCIDENT 

Susan Jennings is an alcoholic soccer-mom in the 1980’s that buries her secret buried behind the bottle. Her addiction causes a fatal car accident that kills her only son and the driver of the other vehicle. Her mother and daughter are badly injured. Susan is charged with vehicular homicide and sentenced to ten years in a prison cell the size of her walk-in closet. She must first learn to stay alive behind the dangerous prison walls, and then face her addiction before she can try to win her teenage daughter’s forgiveness. Deanna Jennings awakes from a coma to discover that she has lost a limb in the accident, and her baby brother. She is not interested in forgiving her mother. With her father becoming increasingly distant, she relies heavily on her devout Christian grandparents to get her through the trauma. She meets the handsome and charismatic pastor of their church, Reverend Jim Olson. Despite the vast difference in age, Deanna is convinced the pastor has a romantic interest in her. When Susan discovers that Reverend Olson is now pursuing her daughter, she is determined to use any means necessary to be granted an early parole. She must save her daughter from the snares of the devil hiding behind the clergyman’s collar.

Posted in authors, characters, children, editing, love, parents, support, writers

Author Marc Simon brings The Leap Year Boy

Marc Simon
Marc Simon

I had the pleasure of meeting Marc Simon last February at Marco Island’s AuthorFest.I have read his story, The Leap Year Boy and highly recommend it. It is with great joy that I have him with us today. We’ll get right to the questions:

Joanne: Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

Marc: I used to be in advertising as a copywriter in creative departments and as a freelancer. I used to write TV and radio commercials, print ads, brochures, web site copy, etc. Writing ad copy gives me a sense of how to be economical with words, as well as be colorful in descriptions of people and places. Also, I used to write and perform comedy. Doing comedy well requires a good sense of timing. I think there’s a carry over to fiction.  But as far as having a degree in creative writing or journalism, no. I did take some workshops at a writing school in Boston called Grub Street. They were quite helpful, and I met a lot of fine writers along the way.

Joanne: Do you always write in the same genre?

Marc: Actually, no. I like to write plays, and last year, my one act play titled Sex After Death was a winner in Naples in the Sugden Reader’s Theater New Play Contest. Also, I don’t write only novels. I’ve written and had published several short stories. But I guess that’s still fiction.

Joanne: Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

Marc: You would find my novel, The Leap Year Boy on the fiction shelf. It’s literary historical fiction with a touch of magical realism.

Joanne: Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?

Marc: My situation is a combination of the two, so let me explain. I do have a literary agent, Joelle Delbourgo, president of Delbourgo Associates in New York. I met her at a writing conference in Miami in 2010. The conference offered attendees an opportunity to have a short story or a chapter of a novel reviewed by an agent, editor or a writer. I had modest expectations, but low and behold, she liked my chapter so much she asked to see the entire novel. I sent it to her and three months later she offered to represent me. After I received about 25 “glowing” rejections from the traditional publishers, she sent my novel to Untreed Reads, a publisher that does eBooks only. They “bought” the novel pretty quickly.

After my novel was published as an ebook, I found that many people wanted a traditional paperback.  Since my publisher doesn’t do paperbacks, I decided to self-publish the print version. I had a graphic designer prepare the cover and the inside pages. I used a company called Lightning Source as my printer. They are a print on demand company that also distributes worldwide, so in my contract with them, they distribute my novel to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. Lightning Source is very professional and I think a step above many self-publishing companies in terms of quality.

Joanne:  Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

Marc: I think every story calls for its own voice—unless you are writing a series, like a detective series or maybe a romance series. My novel is in 3rd person, past tense and takes the POV of several characters. My stories in many cases are first person, which makes switching POV in the story a no-no.

Joanne: What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Marc: For me, the hardest part is sitting my butt down in the chair, shutting off the internet and writing. I don’t do outlines. I let the characters and the setting build the story. I’m always surprised at what happens after I struggle for an hour or so.

Joanne: What advise would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Marc: In my opinion, a new writer should just sit down and write and crank something out, whether it’s short story, a play or a novel and not look back until a first draft is done. There will be plenty of time to revise. And I recommend getting feedback from only a few people, and people who are not going to pat your on the back and tell you that you’re the next Faulkner, because quite frankly, you’re not. Only then should you go back and revise, revise, revise and rewrite.

Joanne: What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

Marc: The Leap Year Boy is set in Pittsburgh in the early 1900’s. It is the story of a working class family and an extraordinary boy named Alex Miller, born in the family’s home on February 29, 1908. What makes Alex so remarkable is that even though he’s full term, he weighs just two pounds, one ounce and is nine inches long.

Despite his size, Alex is perfectly healthy. However, his body grows at one-fourth the rate of a normal child—so that after one year, he’s the size of a three-month-old—but his mind grows much quicker. Eventually, so do certain parts of his body and his ability to do various and unusual things with them. As Alex’s special abilities become apparent, those around him see him as both a miracle child and a freak of nature—a freak to exploit.

How Alex saves himself from the designs of others—his religious fanatic grandmother, who sees him as the new Messiah; his money-grubbing immigrant doctor, who wants to put him on display; his unstable nanny, who believes Alex is her lost child; and his father and father’s mistress, who are eager to tap Alex’s commercial potential—is at the heart of the novel.

Ultimately, a family that has been fractured by ambition and circumstance rediscovers loyalty and love, thanks to Alex’s courage.

Joanne:  This sounds so interesting. Where can readers get your book?

The Leap Year Boy
The Leap Year Boy

Marc: It is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Leap-Year-Marc-Simon/dp/0615802907/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1375201891&sr=1-1

Joanne: Thank you Marc. If you may, please share with the readers a sneak peak into your book.

The Leap Year Boy

Chapter 1

Alex Miller was born on February 29, 1908, at 12:01 a.m., precisely nine months and a day after he was conceived. He weighed a mere two pounds, one ounce and measured just nine inches long, yet despite his size, his breathing was relaxed, his heart beat like a metronome and his blue eyes were active and alert.

Alex entered the world headfirst in the home of Abe and Irene Miller at 707 Mellon Street, Pittsburgh, less than 20 minutes after Irene had gone into labor. Ida Murphy, Irene’s mother, was in attendance, not so much out of concern for her daughter or the welfare of her nascent grandchild, whom she hoped would be her first female grandchild; rather, Ida wanted to see firsthand why her daughter had engaged the services of a medical doctor, since she herself had delivered without an attending physician during the births of her own three children, the third stillborn, each more agonizing than the one before it.

Ida felt a pang of jealousy when her daughter delivered so quickly and relatively pain free. Not that she didn’t love her daughter, in her own guarded way, or wish her well, but still, she thought, suffering builds character. If she’d had to go through it, why should her daughter get off so easy?

When she saw the tiny baby, she remarked to the doctor, “That’s it?”

Irene’s physician, Dr. Malkin, shrugged and assured her that it was indeed “it.”

Malkin was a hairy, bear-like Russian/Jewish immigrant with filmy pince-nez glasses he wore on the tip of his pointy nose. The veracity of his medical credentials was somewhat suspect, had anyone cared to investigate, since his professional certificates were printed in Cyrillic type and framed in clouded glass on the walls of his so-called surgery, which happened to be on the second floor of a cold-water walkup. He served the Miller family as general practitioner, pediatrician and dentist.

“But it’s so small. Are you sure there aren’t more babies in there somewhere?” Irene admonished him to keep looking, that there had to be one or two more, look at the size of the thing, it was no bigger than the runt in a litter of pigs. It was all she could do to keep from looking herself. But when Malkin shook his head no, that’s it, Ida put her hands on her wide hips and said, “Well, in that case, doctor, there’s no use me dilly-dallying around here anymore, is there?” She washed her hands with rough soap in the basin on the dresser next to the bed, put on her gloves, quickly kissed her daughter on her damp forehead, harrumphed at the tiny baby boy and went downstairs. As she put on her coat, she told Abe Miller, who was waiting with a cigar in one hand and a beer in the other, that his wife had given him another boy, and that she was fine, and he should go on upstairs but be ready for a surprise—and no thank you, she didn’t care to spend the night at their house, she was perfectly capable of walking home by herself or catching a trolley.

Abe bent down to look at the baby. His cigar fell out of his mouth. The baby blanket quickly smoldered until he tamped it out.

Malkin came by the next morning, expecting to find the teensy baby dead in its crib, but there it was, alive and kicking, nursing and crying and eliminating like any other newborn, albeit in miniscule quantities. He asked after Irene as well, who happily reported that she felt so good, she was ready to go down to Rooney’s for a ham sandwich and a bottle of lager.

Posted in authors, conflict, parents, poetry, political injustice, support, writers

Local Poet visits Writing Under Fire

It is with with great pleasure that I have my first poet on Author Interview Friday. Dr. Nick Kalvin has an interesting story and his unconventional poetry is thought provoking and sure to elicit an opinion – although every one’s may not be the same. He is a deep soul. Nick, please tell us a little about yourself.

Dr. Nick Kalvin

Nick : I was a Depression baby, June 1933. Mom was Mary Kasarda, US born daughter of coal miner-tenant farmer Slavic-Rus immigrant. She left school in 7th grade to help her family. She met Dad, Nicholas Kalvin, in Lakewood Ohio St. Gregory choir. Both loved books, music, were multilingual. Dad was born here also, but raised from infancy in Eastern Czechoslovakia, educated with degrees in teaching and music, came back to the US in his twenties, where he met Mom. Maternal Grandmother Ann wrote and Dad did the songs for musical plays performed on the church basement stage.

Raised in Lakewood Ohio, went to Medical school at Ohio State in Columbus, 1955-59. Active duty at the Naval School of Aviation Medicine in Pensacola Florida, was a Flight Surgeon,’60-’63, served aboard two aircraft carriers. I served last, with VFP-62, Navy Recon Photo Squadron which won the Presidential Unit Citation for work done in the Cuban Missile Crisis. I did eye surgery residency at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, was also a pilot examiner for the FAA, non-commercial pilots for 20-30 years. I have 5 kids sons, 1 daughter and have 9 grandkids plus.one on the way. My wife, Judy C.(Greene) Kalvin of Lockhaven PA., is an ophthalmic technician. I was Collier County’s first eye surgeon, practised 34 years, 1966-2000, also a past president of NCH Staff, CC Medical Society and Florida Society of Ophthalmology.

My hobbies inlclude writing, tropical fruit trees, tennis. I used to sail, scuba dive, snow ski, travel when in practice.

Joanne: When did you begin to write?

Nick: Before I could, according to Mom, She said at 3-5, I’d use a book-rack footstool as a desk, scribble and sketch with a pencil. When she’d call, she said I usually refused to come, saying “I busy!” Actually, I did some poems in high school, a few Edgar Allen Poe like short stories. Was an editor for my high school paper, wrote and presented medical papers on my research.

Joanne: What got you started writing again?

Nick: I found it a release during the terrible years 2002 to 2005, when we had some serious issues with our children. Residential rehab, bills, legal, that broke our financial back. We lost our Naples home in 2009. . . Lots of suffering, regrets, betrayal. Judy and I went to parental support groups, learned a lot about each other, got closer despite taxing times. Suffering served as motivation. Suffering makes fictional characters find wisdom, endure and develop, just as in real life.

Joanne: That is more trauma than any family should have to go through .As writers, we have the ability to create illusions or to tell stories. What makes you want to create?

Nick: To express awe and thanks for life, to be useful, express feelings and to think. I praise and recall good human beings and to bring attention to those that are not . . .the controllers, dividers, the liars those churning envy into jealousy, then into class/racial hatred to elevate themselves into positions of controlling elite. There they make decisions based on their own desires for vengeance and imagined wrongs. Dad’s observations of pre-war Europe ring true today. Back in the 40’s and 50’s, he predicted, quite accurately, the current American political and financial quagmire brought about by Socialists and Collectivists, racial and religous fanatics. Dad was not alone. For example:

PHILOSPHER HEGEL: “History teaches that people and government never learn anything from history.”

ONE OF OUR FOUNDERS said, “Government is like fire, a necessary servant to be controlled, uncontrolled, becomes a cruel and fatal master” I think it was Jefferson.

Joanne: I know your preferred genre is poetry. Tell us a little about that.

NIck: Poetry is a distillation, concentration in rhyming brevity. Almost all mine are based on facts, history, current events, political trends, my physician experiences. Most are wake-up calls. With a few lines or a page, observations, events can be compressed in the same memorable fashion used since the Stone age. One poem, VITIMOLOGY,IRONIC IMMORTALITY, in a page and a quarter is the gist of almost 2 pages of newsprint.

My works vary . . .inspirational, expository, fiction, entertainment, history, news, opinion, personal or family history. I prefer rhyme and rhythm, going against obvious academic and editorial faddish prejudice against such as this time. I’ve been criticized, locally for Limerick form used with serious topics. Some of the critics in my old group seemed to enjoy serious topics in rap “music.”

I have several unfinished short stories based on my own experiences and two started novels, one based on my only malpractice experience . . .later dismissed. It was from a man who quite likely murdered his wife and got away with it, right here in Collier County, back in the 80’s. I talked with you about it once.

Joanne: I am really unfamiliar with the process of writing poetry. Does it stay in a particular point of view as in fiction writing?

Nick: No, point of view depends on the character and the story told. Some are first person, as in mine. Most fictional ones are from a narrative or observer viewpoint. I make use of dialogue, quotes, even quotes within quotes. Stimulating topics, bit of poems, pop out from newspaper articles, TV news, memories, rarely dreams. I enjoy browsing through my medical library. Occasionally I re-read my old med school, Navy or surgical training textbooks to be sure the facts, concepts are correct in poems or stories.

Joanne: Do you have a particular time of day or place that your inspiration comes to you best?

Nick: I use some of most mornings after chores on a 2 acre rural county home. I care for our own lawn and trees with hand tools and a push gasoline lawn mower. Ideas come, as I work or drive. Once in a while, I will read and write in bed if I can’t sleep. Rarely, I’ll wake up from a dream to jot down an idea or scene.

As for places and techniques, I start writing on the patio, mostly mornings, with dog at my side, untamed woods beyond the fence, a small cigar and black coffee. I begin with longhand in a notebook or tablet….revising until the work gels, several times, shifting stanzas. I try for a dramatic ending. Later, I type it into my Documents, usually edit several times. Years later I redo some published, that I once thought perfect. I date revisions, to avoid confusion with older versions. It appears wise to set work aside, let it sit or cool, go back later for a fresh look.

Joanne: How do you handle rejections to your submissions?

Nick: It is frustrating to have a good piece turned down. One medical journal has a poetry section. Most of the poems published are just unconnected phrases, free association, without rhythm and rhyme . . . some are hard to understand the message and sound awkward when read aloud, just awful. Today there’s a faddish prejudice against rhyme. (I sent in some poems on misogyny, for a special edition on torture, genocide, victims of fanaticism and war that fit right into the issue’s theme. I read some of those to our local writer’s group, Marco Island Writers. One was THE WITNESS, about a girl who sees her drug crazed father beat and kill her Mom, and testifying in court. The last line reads, “Please Judge, can you send my father to the electric chair?” I saw the reaction at MIW, and heard a few gasps. Of course, it and the others were not published in that issue of my medical journal, despite appreciation from “submissions” people, who unfortunately, did not edit the poetry section.)

I had a former English professor and poet read about 50 of my poems several years ago. He was not impressed. He said, “You haven’t found your voice, was too choppy, compressed, and struggled with word order to achieve rhyme, was old fashioned. I followed his suggestions. I had three poems published in Florida Weekly during two contests shortly afterward. One poem was the runner-up in Fall 2012 Florida Weekly’s contest of prose or poetry, done from a FW picture prompt.

Joanne: Are there particular books that you have read lately that inspired you?

Nick: FAR EAST OF THE SUN by Janina Chung hit nerves in me. Her family and mine were from the same area. My Dad saw much of what she wrote . . .political control, persecution, prison-labor camps, violence by Communists, Quislings, Nazi Socialists and cruel bureaucrats.

THE TRUTH ABOUT MUHAMMAD (Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion) by Robert Spencer. It’s a terrifying, truthful account. Muslim extremists will, no doubt, case WWIII.

LUCY, a story about a girl who was half ape, her tribulations, the hate, threats she inspired, the implications for social norms and beliefs.

Joanne: Tell our readers a little about your poems and your style of writing.

Nick: I’m like the little boy who, unlike the “politically correct” crowd, tells the Emperor he is, in fact, naked. Like that child, many of my poems focus on things that are unjust, stupid, cruel, selfish, dangerous to life and freedom. Some are family history, memorable experiences and teachings.

Joanne: We know that the writing process can be a lonely and sometimes discouraging process if you are looking from motivation from outside sources. What are your motivations?

Nick: My motivations are to create something, to discover or to expose the truths. Several artists in various fields have said that the art of creation is really an innate need to worship by imitating the Creator. One example is “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. I’m driven to write about the things that I see or find out about that disturb me. A visiting poet at FGCU (Florida Gulf Coast University) who came to give a reading, said if his poems disturb the reader or stir up critical thought, he has done his jobWe all seek attention, appreciation, want to show off our works . . .from the first sketches or attempts to write until we die. I guess I want to leave some of me behind when I’m gone. Our gift of imagination has to be used, encouraged or it withers.

Joanne: What kind of training or formal education have you received in writing?

Nick: I have attended several writing/author seminars put on by the Naples Press Club I belonged to Crossed Quills…a critique group, now defunct, met weekly for two years or so.

I do get help and background from the following books:

The Art of Readable Writing by Rudolph Flesch, which contains a graphic scheme to measure such depending on “personal words,” syllables per 100 words, words per sentence.

Complete Rhyming Dictionary by Clement Wood

Elements of Style by Strunk and White

History’s Timeline by Cooke, Kramer et al

Lure of the Limerick by Wm. Baring-Gould

The Student Bible with notations and references by Yancy and Stafford

Beyond Star Trek by LM Krauss

Joanne: How has your publishing experience been?

Nick: I’d love to publish an entire book or two of my own poetry, but find that to be difficult. Poetry books are not profitable for publisher or author. I might submit an E-book of poems to Amazon. Publications containing my poems include:

FLORIDA WEEKLY, 3 poems in 2 contests last two years. got second place overall in 3012.

INTERNATIONAL WHO’S WHO IN POETRY, 2012, Judy Lynn Editor, Los Angeles

BEST POEMS AND POETS OF 2012 ,World Poetry Movement, Suzanne Hillary, Utah

GREAT POETS ACROSS AMERICA, National poetry month, 2012, Brooke Alexander Ed.

STARS IN OUR HEARTS,. World Poetry Movement 2011 Suzanne Hillary Editor, Utah

Joanne: Nick, please share with us a couple of your poems and tell the readers where they can go to read or purchase more.

Nick: You can go to my website or any of the books above to read some of my work. http://www.PoetryPoliticallyIncorrect.com.

all 4 books

VICTIMOLOGY, CORRUPTION

(this is one of a series of poems)

“You look like you were always tough, well-built and tall,

Heck, I bet, in school, no one ever bothered you at all,

Shoved you into lockers down at the far end of the hall,

Or tripped you, when teachers were too far away to call.

You can’t know how much I’ve been pushed around and abused.

Outside school, I was teased, became a punching bag they used.

They chased me, hid my violin, threw mud and pulled my hair,

Then, they’d all laugh, when I said, ‘Guys, you’re neither nice nor fair.’

The Principal asked me if I had any proof which I could produce?

Unlucky me, they didn’t hit hard enough to leave much bruise.

Mom went to school, complained again, in the office just last week.

Grandpa said, ‘Stand your ground…you can’t always turn the other cheek.’

In class they frowned when I’d raise my and to provide an answer,

In gym, their teams quit choosing me, like I had some disease or cancer.

They stole my lunch money, even though I noticed they got theirs for free.

They sure loved making life one long misery, for the kids like me.

Well, Sheriff, guess I should say I’m so sorry, but I’m really not.

Truthfully, it felt good, to see them kneel, cry like babies, while I shot.”

OUR LADY CARDINAL’S OBSESSION

For several days now, pecking at our panes,

A scruffy, lady Cardinal just can’t abstain,

Nor her compulsive, odd behavior somehow explain.

Is she darkly obsessed, or simply featherbrained?

Perhaps, like us, poor creature can’t, or will not restrain,

Choosing acts that logic surely deems insane,

Over duties, likely, even life itself sustain,

And wastes divine gifts on weird urges unrestrained.

Does this bird perceive a rival in her domain?

Love, kiss her glassy image? Is a bird that vain?

All day long, this poor one ignores water and grain,

Like us, her compulsions not all ever ascertained.

Why choose destructive pathways in life’s vast terrain,

Ignore the safe, productive ones, with obvious disdain,

Blindly passing so much good our lives do contain,

Hung-up, side-tracked, (ordained?) to provide her own pain?