Posted in adventure, authors, books, erotica, jihad, kidnapping, novels, religion, sex, Terrorism, thrillers, writing

From tennis stardom to sexual slavery

Nick Kalvin 9.2014

 

I have accumulated a lot of writer friends since I started writing commercial fiction in 2010, but today I have one of my dearest of friends. Besides being a wonderful writer and an experienced eye surgeon, he is a great friend. Nick is  one of those guys you can always go to when you need something done, or someone to listen. H e won’t make excuses why he can’t be there, or ever say he doesn’t have time for you (i.e. me).  And in spite of his age, he can run circles around most of the other people I know.  So, without further, ado, I present to you, Dr. Nick Kalvin.

Nick,  Sexual Jihad is a large book in most people’s thoughts. You and I have compared it to Moby Dick or Gone with the Wind. How long did it take to write and publish Sexual Jihad?

It took about six months to write it, and three or four months to edit, review two printed proofs, then, even with help, upload and make design decisions. It was humbling and amazing to correct a couple hundred typos, punctuation and word-order glitches, to get the proof back to find things I missed. Then to restart the process, of course uploading to Create Space, each version. There is a good argument for professional proof readers.

And of all that, what was the hardest part?

One would think that the hardest part was writing it out on paper and, then retyping into the computer. The major stumbling block, which made things tough for me, turned out to be that much of Sexual Jihadwas in an older program, Microsoft Works. This did not have the bells and whistles of newer Word programs to catch mistakes as one typed. So, I could not even see all the mistakes. The latter portion of the book went easier, no doubt. Once, about 2/3 through, I did something on the keyboard that deleted the entire manuscript. Lucky for me, I got it back on a Go-flex recovery I had installed. After that, I made about a dozen DVDRW external copies and also saved copies into Docs.You got me into external devices, neater and smaller. But, the smaller the easier to misplace they become as some in MIW found out.

As we all learn, staying up to date on technology really helps.  I’ve known you through our local writers group. What has belonging to MIW (Marco Island Writers) done for you?

I was inspired by the published authors, listened carefully to invited speakers. I heard the dissatisfactions of experienced authors, with traditional publishing houses, and the POD companies that charge outrageous fees.  Plus, they want the lion’s share of any profit and any offerings which might follow. I speak of rights for TV, film, art work, overseas sales, merchandise, and so on. Most importantly, MIW led me to you. Without your generosity, enthusiasm and self-acquired skills, I would never have succeeded on Create Space and Kindle. Your flying fingers dazzled me. I did learn to do some of the tasks, but will still need help again, for the sequel, CHAOS vs. THE CALIPHATE. Much of the computer and trade terminology was like a foreign language. Now I understand some of it.

You are too kind. That’s what we do. “Writers Helping Writers” as our logo says. Now that your book is out in print, how does it feel?

Yes, it’s intoxicating to see one’s name in print. That’s why most folks write letters to the editor. For me, my first time was at Lakewood High, in Lakewood Ohio. I was one of the sports editors of the High Times. I was so proud, when the advisor used an editorial cartoon I had drawn. Unlike other kids, I actually enjoyed doing required reports and theme papers. Mom told me when I was about three, I used to take paper and pencil, then used a low magazine rack, with a flat side as my desk, scribbling and sketching. She said it was hard to get me away from it, and that when she called, I complained “I busy!”

After she died, one of my sisters found a poem Mom wrote about me after I was born in 1933. She and Dad loved to sing. My maternal grandmother authored little Slavic musical plays for the church with my Dad.He was a cantor, wrote some of his own church music. Mom was in his choir. Most lyrics are poetry. So, perhaps there may be a poetry gene in us, in others, not.

Sexual Jihad

What inspired you to write Sexual Jihad, a book you can be sure will be controversial, regardless of which side of the world you are in?

For years, I have been bothered by Islamic Extremism and what it has been doing. I learned that it’s hardly news, been going on since 630 AD. At first, I wrote poetry based on news articles.

Some examples of those poems are: “Border-zone Date,” about an Israeli male teen lured to a death by torture by a cute Muslim girl he meets at a coffee house; “Saving Honor by A Nose,” a true story about Bibi, who had her ears and nose cut off by an Islamic misogynist, a physical abuser, her husband; “Lovely Malala,” is the school girl in Pakistan who had a blog about education for females. She was shot in the head, but survived amazingly well. Two pieces concern young girls who volunteer to work with immunization programs, and end up assassinated by Fundamentalists, under the joint title, “Angels in Muslim Hell.”

Some of my poems are on my site,http://www.poetrypoliticallyincorrect.com. I wanted people to notice the real world. A fool could see what was ultimately going to happen. To get people to read about it, I had to use an adventure novel, one with some sex, suspense, intrigue, interesting people, exotic places and geography, a sport…all stirred up in religious and cultural facts, aping genuine events, so the message, the explanation, was not just a dissertation about danger to our way of life, and most of all, our personal God-given freedoms.

I love tennis. As Judy and I watched the Australian Open and tennis events leading up to it, I chose to make my heroines, the WTA number One and Two. They would be kidnapped in an act of Jihad, which would make them sex slaves. My book has facts and quotes, which back this up. As I wrote, current events chased after me, like the abduction of a couple hundred school girls, who were sold as sex slaves and child brides.

The antagonists, is a cultured man, with many contradictory sides. Sheik Prince needs sons while his wives produce only girls. A devout Muslim, he will not make sons by adultery, with willing women outside his three wives. But he sees a way to do it with the women he so admires, since his college years, attractive female athletes, by using sexual jihad. He easily finds modern support, as I did, from Islamic sites on line. Additionally, his wives have all had FGM as girls. But, he likes his women natural. So, he is conflicted. Soon, he must decide if he will submit his young daughters to this mutilation and, forever, deprive them of sexual pleasures. He likes the way, Allah, the Supreme, the Almighty, created women. FGM affects perhaps a billion women, mainly in Muslim nations and Africa. So FGM becomes part of the book. Decades ago, a young female, from a prominent tribe, fled Saudi Arabia to avoid FGM. She wrote about it in some magazine I read in college, back in the early 50’s. A pre-med, I had no idea such existed.

Sheik Prince wants an heir or two to continue his 1000 year lineage. He wants his sons to become leaders in the Caliphate, he knows will one day come. So, he wants courageous, athletic, intelligent and natural women. He wants women able to respond to his pleasuring. These qualities abound in Ingrid and Marie, my protagonists. They make things tough for him. I mean, what did he expect? He is used to subservient Muslim girls and women.

That’s an intriguing story, full of action and taboo subjects. So let’s talk about marketing. What have you done to promote your book? As an Indie publisher, we know that marketing can be the hardest part of all.

I asked my family members to put out the word on my book, attaching a summary and jacket cover. I asked each to contact everyone on email and social network and ask those folks to spread the news. I am doing the same with four different Alumni groups and medical societies. You helped me with a poster, rack cards and business cards. I plan to give copies to book reviewers, and would like to send one to my three favorites on talk radio, Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin. Each of them knows the score when it comes to Fundamental Islamic fanaticism. The book might be seen by them as one way more to educate people who are still free, before it is too late.  We are bound to enter the era of Islam armed with nuclear bombs and biologic warfare. They have progressed from swords and axes, to guns and suicide bombers. Now they reach for the ultimate weapon.

Where can readers get a copy of Sexual Jihad or read it on their electronic devices?

You can buy the print copy through my publisher, Create Space at this link.

https://www.createspace.com/4875374

You can buy the print edition online at Barnes and Noble

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sexual-jihad-nick-kalvin-md/1120026603?ean=9781500326579

Sexual Jihad is also available on Amazon in e-book and print edition.

http://www.amazon.com/Sexual-Jihad-Nick-Kalvin-M-D/dp/1500326577/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412118082&sr=1-1

 

Posted in authors, characters, love, novels, readers, romance, writers, writing

Everyone has a story to tell says Blueberry Falls author Annika Hansen

Blueberry Falls. Carol Kusnierek

Please help me welcome Annika Hansen to Author Interview Friday. It is a pleasure to have you with us today.  Before you became a novelist, what other work have you done, and how has it impacted your writing career?

I’ve been a proofreader for much of my adult life, beginning at the University of Chicago Press right after college.  Later, when I was working toward an MA in Drama, I proofread for American Bar Association publications, and as a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto I was a nightshift proofreader for Harlequin Enterprises—yes, THE Harlequin, romance super-publisher. We toiled in a high-rise office building with a big pink neon heart on the side. The offices were decorated with original cover art.  It was by far the most entertaining job I’ve ever had! All of us nightshifters were convinced that we could write a book as good as most of the stuff we were reading . . . and many of us were inspired to try.

Interesting. That must have given you very good insight into what the “Big Five” wanted, or didn’t want.  How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?

About a year after completion, my book was accepted by North Star Press, an indie publisher specializing in works set in or relevant to Minnesota.

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

Building the story.  I’m not a systematic writer; I don’t do outlines and I don’t necessarily know how the story will end.  I begin with a set of loosely-defined (age, gender, appearance) characters and a series of situations.  As the characters grow, develop their own personalities and begin to speak in their own voices, the situations also get fleshed out.  It’s a bit like being a stage director, giving the actors basic information about the characters they’re playing and watching them define their roles.  (Not for nothing was I a drama major!)

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

Just do it—tell your story.  Don’t wait for the magic bullet—one more class or one more bit of research that will make the whole thing fall into place. It really helps to do your first draft in longhand, on legal pads or in a notebook.  When you’re composing at the keyboard, it’s virtually impossible to restrain from editing as you go along.  Let me restate that, it IS impossible not to tweak and tinker, when it’s so easy to do so.  Write in longhand.  Let it flow, and get the story out.  Make marginal notes about things you might like to expand or change, but KEEP WRITING.

What is the premise of Blueberry Falls in Love?

St. Paul attorney Jessica Skoglund’s world came crashing down when she failed to protect her client from a murderous ex-boyfriend. When Jess learns that her late aunt has left her a derelict farm outside her hometown, Blueberry Falls, MN, she decides to leave the urban fast track for the slow lane of rural life, setting up a solo practice on the little town’s Main Street. She inevitably encounters her high school sweetheart, Cody Ouellette, now the county sheriff, who is grieving the loss of his fiancee in Iraq. The old spark between the two is rekindled, and their growing attachment is followed avidly by the townsfolk. When Jess’ client and friend, Lutheran pastor Mavis Tostensen, draws her into a dangerous situation involving the battered wife of Cody’s deputy, Cody must prove his courage and love for Jess while staying inside the bounds of the law he has sworn to uphold.

Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to whet our appetite?

They turned down the road to the farmstead. Jess had left a single lamp on in the parlor, which glowed dimly and invitingly as they approached the house. Cody got out of the car and walked around to her side to open the door. She climbed out without protest, placing a hand on his arm to steady herself as she jumped down. When they stood in front of her door, she extended her hand shyly and formally.

“Cody, it’s been a lovely evening—”

 “Ah, crap, Jess!” Cody pulled her to him and kissed her fiercely.

They were both out of breath when he finally released her. He still held her by the shoulders. Her hands were on his chest.

 She laughed nervously. “Is this the part in the film where we tear off each other’s clothes and have wild, passionate sex?”

 ********

 She dialed 911 with trembling fingers and forced herself to speak calmly. “This is Jess Skoglund out on Niedermeyer Road. I’m reporting a break-in in progress—”

 “Bitch!” roared Randy, increasing his blows until he almost split the wood.

 “I know, hon,” Marlys responded. “Cody’s on his way. Hang in there.”

 Suddenly the hammering stopped. Goosebumps prickled Jess’s arms. “I’ll try.” She heard glass shattering in the kitchen. “Tell them to hurry!” With a wordless snarl, Randy crashed into the room, grabbing Jess’s shoulders and shaking her violently. The phone flew out of her hand. Randy’s face was purple, the veins popping in his neck. He slapped Jess hard across the face.

Do you have another manuscript in progress?  If so, can you tell us a little about it?

I’m currently at work on a sequel to Blueberry Falls in Love. The emphasis is on suspense, not romance. I’m introducing several new characters, although the central characters from the first book have a role to play in this book as well. A secret from long ago resurfaces to haunt the present, and creates a moral dilemma for both old and new characters. There are also several contemporary issues I’m hoping to work into the plot.

Where can readers buy your book?

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Blueberry-Falls-Love-Annika-Hansen/dp/0878397019/ref=la_B00HQMX4S0_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412089321&sr=1-1

Can you share a little from the  book?

Beth had known Josh since the first year of college. He was from Hutchinson, the town they later called home. She grew up in the cities, and wanted to get out of the busy, urbanized area. Beth had always felt trapped by the tall buildings and fast paced way of life. Both had attended many of the same general education classes, and the friendship grew into love. He proposed the week after graduation, and they got married the following April. Even at 23, she knew with him was where she was meant to be.

One thing that drew Beth to Josh was his willingness to help. It was no surprise to her that he desired to follow his dad’s footsteps and become a member of the Hutchinson Volunteer Fire Department.  He joined the spring before school was out, and commuted from Hutch to school every day. He didn’t want to miss any called and let his numbers slip. The fire department was a second family to him.  His best friend Petey, the brother he never had Josh always said, was the best man at their wedding.  It was a great source of friendship for both Josh and Beth.

They had been married 3 years when they started talking about having a baby. They were lying in bed tossing around ideas of what to name the future little one when Josh’s pager went off. He kissed her good-bye, and told Beth he loved her before grabbing his socks and getting his jeans on as he ran out the door. Beth caught part of the end of the page, hearing it was a car wreck on the main highway. Please keep the guys safe and get the people the help they need, she said in a quick little prayer. It became habit when she knew he was on a call.

A few minutes later, Beth heard the sirens. Their house was less than a mile from the fire hall, which usually resulted in Josh getting on the first rig to leave. About ten minutes later, there were more sirens. Car accidents meant at least one fire truck, the rescue rig, and an ambulance. She waited to hear the third set of sirens, and then got out of bed to get some things done. Josh wouldn’t be back for a while, longer if it was a really bad accident.

Beth worked on getting laundry done, cleaning the living room, and headed to their office in the half story of the house. The office was on the main level, and their room and a third room that was mainly used for storage in the top level. Beth went upstairs and stood at the doorway of the storage room, trying to picture what it would look like with a crib. They were ready to be parents. Josh would be a great father.

As the afternoon went on, Beth found herself cleaning the spare room. There were a lot of things kept in the room that could be moved to the basement already. She took a trip down memory lane as she flipped through photo albums of their wedding and honeymoon. Beth found a box in the garage and labeled it “Photos” before adding the albums and other pictures to it. She brought the box to the basement, along with a few other boxes.

As she came up the steps the last time, she took a look at the clock and decided to start making supper. Beth was filling a pot of water when she looked out the kitchen window and froze. The Hutchinson Fire Department car had just rolled up to the curb in front of their house. Petey got out, wearing a tired look. This couldn’t be good, Beth thought. He rubbed his face for a second, and then crossed the street and walked up to the door. The first knock on the door jarred Beth back to the present, and she turned off the water. Walking to the door, she knew Petey wouldn’t have shown up unless something had happened to Josh. She opened the door, and saw it was grim by the look in Petey’s eyes.

“Can I come in?” he asked her, leaning on the doorway.

“Sure.”

They walked into the living room, and Petey sat on the couch. Beth stood with her arms crossed.

“I think you should sit down, Beth.”

Beth let out the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding, and sat on the couch with Petey.

“What happened?” she asked, fearing the reason he was there.

“Do you know what the call was for?” Beth nodded yes, and Petey continued. “ We were out on 7 for a roll-over. The car was smashed so bad, but being the first crew on the scene, we were doing as much as we could to assess the victims’ conditions. Josh was on the driver’s side when a truck came barreling through our scene. The driver didn’t see Josh.” He put his head down in his hands. “He hit Josh.”

Beth didn’t notice the tears falling until they started hitting her arm. “Where’s Josh? I need to go see him.”

Petey looked up, his eyes also wet.

“He’s gone.”

Posted in family, fiction, fire, fire fighter, love, novels, purpose, romance, small towns, womens fiction, writers, writing

Learning to love among the ashes. A firefighter’s wife’s story.

Megan Kiffmeyer

 

I’d like to introduce you to one of our youngest writers. Megan (Truenow) Kiffmeyer is a 2004 graduate from St. Cloud Technical High School. She was a writer and editor for the high school paper. After graduating, she attended St. Cloud Technical College and received an AAS degree in Credit and Finance. Megan married her husband, Brian in 2007. They welcomed their first son in 2008, and a second son in 2009.

She currently resides in Kimball, Minnesota. Megan is a part of their local Fire Department Auxiliary, and is the wife of a fire fighter.

Her debut novel,  Moving On, is the first of a series that focuses on three couples who all have ties to the Hutchinson, Minnesota Fire Department.

Megan, what drove you to write your novel?

I had started reading more books after receiving a Kindle for my birthday. Out of habit, I was reading a lot of romance novels, and had a hard time finding books with the main male character as a fireman. I’m married to a fireman, and figured there had to be other wives that would want to read the same thing.

How long did it take to write your first draft?

I started writing the first part of June 2013, and had it done by the end of August. It took me a few weeks to outline the story in my head before any of it was written. I set my own deadline because we were moving, and wanted to have it done before the move.

Do you always use the same POV?

My first book is written as third person switching between the lead male and female, but I would like to try first person. It was hard using she/her all the time.

Tag Line:  After Beth’s husband dies responding to a fire department call, she fears finding new love. But sparks fly with a new member of the fire department, and Beth has to decide if she can handle a new relationship. Will she take the chance on another fireman?

Mving On

What was the hardest part in the writing process?

My husband is on our local fire department, and for me it was difficult to come up with names and situations that were not too closely related to people in our town and on the department. The characters are purely from my imagination.

Any advice for new writers?

Keep writing! If you enjoy writing, keep trying. The more patience you can have, the easier the process will feel.

Do you stick with the same genre when writing?

My first novel is considered a romance, and I will write more romance novels. I would like to write a children’s book with my boys as the characters, but I haven’t figured out what kind of story I want it to be yet.

Where can readers buy Moving On?

Blog:  http://mnfirefighterbooks.blogspot.com/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Megan-Kiffmeyers-Author-Page/564803140270543

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Megan-Kiffmeyer/e/B00HX89T8G/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Can you share a little from the  book?

Beth had known Josh since the first year of college. He was from Hutchinson, the town they later called home. She grew up in the cities, and wanted to get out of the busy, urbanized area. Beth had always felt trapped by the tall buildings and fast paced way of life. Both had attended many of the same general education classes, and the friendship grew into love. He proposed the week after graduation, and they got married the following April. Even at 23, she knew with him was where she was meant to be.

One thing that drew Beth to Josh was his willingness to help. It was no surprise to her that he desired to follow his dad’s footsteps and become a member of the Hutchinson Volunteer Fire Department.  He joined the spring before school was out, and commuted from Hutch to school every day. He didn’t want to miss any called and let his numbers slip. The fire department was a second family to him.  His best friend Petey, the brother he never had Josh always said, was the best man at their wedding.  It was a great source of friendship for both Josh and Beth.

They had been married 3 years when they started talking about having a baby. They were lying in bed tossing around ideas of what to name the future little one when Josh’s pager went off. He kissed her good-bye, and told Beth he loved her before grabbing his socks and getting his jeans on as he ran out the door. Beth caught part of the end of the page, hearing it was a car wreck on the main highway. Please keep the guys safe and get the people the help they need, she said in a quick little prayer. It became habit when she knew he was on a call.

A few minutes later, Beth heard the sirens. Their house was less than a mile from the fire hall, which usually resulted in Josh getting on the first rig to leave. About ten minutes later, there were more sirens. Car accidents meant at least one fire truck, the rescue rig, and an ambulance. She waited to hear the third set of sirens, and then got out of bed to get some things done. Josh wouldn’t be back for a while, longer if it was a really bad accident.

Beth worked on getting laundry done, cleaning the living room, and headed to their office in the half story of the house. The office was on the main level, and their room and a third room that was mainly used for storage in the top level. Beth went upstairs and stood at the doorway of the storage room, trying to picture what it would look like with a crib. They were ready to be parents. Josh would be a great father.

As the afternoon went on, Beth found herself cleaning the spare room. There were a lot of things kept in the room that could be moved to the basement already. She took a trip down memory lane as she flipped through photo albums of their wedding and honeymoon. Beth found a box in the garage and labeled it “Photos” before adding the albums and other pictures to it. She brought the box to the basement, along with a few other boxes.

As she came up the steps the last time, she took a look at the clock and decided to start making supper. Beth was filling a pot of water when she looked out the kitchen window and froze. The Hutchinson Fire Department car had just rolled up to the curb in front of their house. Petey got out, wearing a tired look. This couldn’t be good, Beth thought. He rubbed his face for a second, and then crossed the street and walked up to the door. The first knock on the door jarred Beth back to the present, and she turned off the water. Walking to the door, she knew Petey wouldn’t have shown up unless something had happened to Josh. She opened the door, and saw it was grim by the look in Petey’s eyes.

“Can I come in?” he asked her, leaning on the doorway.

“Sure.”

They walked into the living room, and Petey sat on the couch. Beth stood with her arms crossed.

“I think you should sit down, Beth.”

Beth let out the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding, and sat on the couch with Petey.

“What happened?” she asked, fearing the reason he was there.

“Do you know what the call was for?” Beth nodded yes, and Petey continued. “ We were out on 7 for a roll-over. The car was smashed so bad, but being the first crew on the scene, we were doing as much as we could to assess the victims’ conditions. Josh was on the driver’s side when a truck came barreling through our scene. The driver didn’t see Josh.” He put his head down in his hands. “He hit Josh.”

Beth didn’t notice the tears falling until they started hitting her arm. “Where’s Josh? I need to go see him.”

Petey looked up, his eyes also wet.

“He’s gone.”

Posted in authors, musician, pianist, readers, Taichi, writers

Marc Meyer presents Taichi, The Story of a Chinese Master in America

Marc Meyer pic       cover Taichi book Marc Meyer

Please help me welcome Marc Meyer to Author interview Friday.  Marc is a professional pianist who has worked with prominent jazz and pop musicians throughout the industry. He is also a T’ai Chi instructor and writer who has diligently pursued the dream of having his first novel, ” Taichi: The Story of a Chinese Master in America.” published in 2014. With the help and support of his publisher, family and friends this dream has become a reality. As an ongoing project Marc continues to write short stories and book manuscripts dealing with a wide variety of topics. He hopes the successful launch of this book will not only help him to establish his place in the literary world but also enable him to give back a portion of the gifts he has received through his involvement with Chinese martial arts for almost two decades. Marc’s home for the past twenty years has been in Naples, Florida where he makes his living as a pianist and teaching T’ai Chi to residential communities.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

In the beginning my intention was not to become a writer but just to see if I enjoyed the process of writing. I started a detective novel in the late 80’s and gave up after a few pages. Even with this rocky start I was hooked and knew that it was something I would be coming back to in time. It wasn’t until Christmas of 2004 that I once again decided to try my hand at writing and because I had been fidgeting until the last minute trying to decide what presents to send family members for Christmas. I managed to dash off five short stories, each about two pages long, which I made copies of, wrapped in a cone shape with a ribbon and sent out as a substitutes for presents. The maximum reaction I hoped for was that they might think it was cute or perhaps just a sweet idea and I would have been completely satisfied with that. Little did I expect the overwhelming reaction I got to these stories not only from family members but friends to whom they were shown. I never heard the end of it and to this day I still get comments about those stories whenever I see anyone who’s read them. They have yet to be published. It was that same year I decided to attempt a novel dealing with a subject that I really cared about. I was a slow start, getting ideas while I was in the shower mostly, then toweling off and racing to my computer hopefully in time to capture the ideas before I forgot them. That started me off on a path to writing my first book.

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

Getting my first manuscript published has admittedly been a long and involved struggle with many roadblocks thrown in my path from the start. Just as an example a friend of mine and I set out to publish our first books at the same time. I attended a writers conference in which the main speaker, a publisher, went on and on for an hour about how difficult it was for writers to get published and how fewer than one percent actually do. An extremely discouraging talk. After he’d finished I decided to approach him with a synopsis. He shrugged it off. I left and called up my friend asking him to come down and give it a try though I felt it would probably result in a dead-end for us both. Unbeknownst to me, until a about two months later, my friend  told me he came down and walked out of the same conference 30 minutes later with a book deal from the same publisher I talked to!

Ouch! How did you feel about that?

I was devastated but it would be the first of many lessons I was about to learn in the book publishing business. My book languished through various subsidy publishers I decided not to accept for various reasons for about eight years and close to 100 rejections.  ( This is usually the point at which most aspiring authors give up). Finally a Canadian publisher came to my rescue, or so I thought, about a year ago. Subsequently after agreeing to publish my book, the publisher, having been in business for the previous eight years, suddenly and inexplicably closed their doors after I had been up on the retail sites for a week and a publicist had already begun the process of sending out press releases!

Oh no, not another set back!

Yes, yet another blow, which would set back the career I envisioned for myself for another heartbreaking year. I finally decided to go with a subsidy publisher I had heard about with the best reputation I could find and do what I could to get my book back up on the retail sites as soon as possible. Armed with a new eye catching book cover, a couple of great reviews and my book once again featured on the main retail sites I’m at it again and hoping for the best.

As an author myself, I can feel your pain. But now that you are over that hump, let’s hope for nothing but good things from here  on.

What other work have you done, and how has it affected your writing career?

I’ve been a successful professional pianist with a career spanning 39 years.I toured with the famous soul group “Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose” who had chart topping hits such as “It’s Too Late To Turn Back Now” and “Treat Her Like A Lady”, recorded with members of the outstanding jazz group “Spyro Gyra” in the early 80’s and received acclaim from music producers Van Dyke Parks and Quincy Jones. I have been involved with the arts all my life, was a competent sketch artist in my younger days and writing just seemed like another natural extension for me.

Do you have any special time or place you like to write?

I’ve read about many so called “purist” authors with well known names who use legal pads to write. I started this way too but eventually all the erasing and crossing out got to me. Now I write on my word processor with a cup of coffee as the sun comes up until no later than noon, even though sometimes I’ll continue until two in the afternoon without even realizing it. The I use the standard 12 point Times Roman type and I’m always pleased with the result as it ends up looks like a book page when I’m finished instead of a bunch of scribbling.

Tell us about “Taichi: The Story of a Chinese Master in America” in two sentences

My first published book is a family story based around the nucleus of the art of T’ai Chi Chuan. A famous T’ai Chi master immigrates from Taiwan to New York City in the mid- 1960’s to start a T’ai Chi School and reconnect with his Asian American family in Chinatown.

Do you have another manuscript in progress?  If so, can you tell us a little about it?

I’m currently working on three additional manuscripts at the same time. The first is a memoir called “Xpat” which is based around my adventures growing up in Europe and attending school overseas as a child before my family moved me to the U.S.at fourteen. I’m very excited about the other two manuscripts and unfortunately unable to give anything away about them at this point but hope my first book will provide you with enough intrigue to continue enjoying me as an author throughout the continuation of my career.

Thank you Marc. Where can readers buy your book?

My book Is currently available on the following retail sites under the title “Taichi: The Story of a Chinese Master in America.”:

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Marc-Meyer/e/B00JW41ZFO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/taichi-marc-meyer/1119321692?ean=9781632631046

ITunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/taichi-story-chinese-master/id873958595

my publisher,Booklocker: http://booklocker.com/books/7399.html

Please check out Amazon. com for reviews.

 

Posted in authors, books, characters, Florida, writers

Streets by W.C. Highfield

W.C. Highfield photo

Welcome, W.C. Highfield to Author Interview Friday.  Highfield is a graduate of the University of Delaware and also a native of The First State. After a decade of employment in the moving and storage industry, he embarked on a twenty-year run of ownership of a residential and commercial painting business. In 2006, he moved to Fort Myers.

Since 2007, he has written numerous articles for the Island Sand Paper, a weekly on Fort Myers Beach. He also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of   Stay Alive….Just Drive, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. He is a member of Gulf Coast Writers Association.

Sports have always been a big part of his life. Baseball was tops from an early age, and culminated with playing ten years in the Delaware Semi-Pro League. Later, he picked up the running bug and participated in hundreds of road races ranging from 5Ks to half-marathons.  He continues to take part in various forms of physical activity, and endeavors to enjoy outdoor life.

W.C., do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

In the 1990s I had a desire to write children’s stories. I successfully completed a Special Publishing course from the Institute of Children’s Literature. Shortly thereafter, I decided I would rather write for adult audiences. In early 2000, I self-published my first novel, In Sun Down Far. The novel is set in a fictitious Southwest Florida beach town that I modeled after Fort Myers Beach. The story is a slice of life about a group of friends and their interactions. Emotions escalate as the story goes on.

in-sun-down-far- highfield

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

I prefer to write exclusively in first person. It allows me to sink myself inside the skin of the narrator and, essentially, act out his character. In this way, the narrator can express his thoughts and feelings personally to the reader. The reader doesn’t know what the other characters are thinking, only what they say and do. I like the way it creates a one-on-one relationship with the reader.

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

I think it is important to capture random thoughts on paper, even if they are unrelated bits and pieces. The organization of these diverse ideas can come later. Plus, what seems to work for me is to just start writing from these notes, whether it turns out good or bad. I find it is much easier to come back later to pick and chose what you like from your writing—and what you don’t. When something is in black and white, and not just in your head, it is less demanding to edit it than to write it in the first place. I find that editing is at least fifty percent of writing.

streets- book  Highfield

What is the premise of your novel, Streets, we are promoting today?

My most recent novel, Streets, is set in Key West. The main character is thirty, and has lived on the streets of Key West for many years. His life is transformed by a series of unusual, out-of-the-ordinary experiences. We are not talking about typical Key West experiences here. These odd occurrences slowly start to have a positive impact on his life. I wanted to deal with the issue of homelessness, but I didn’t want the book to be negative or depressing. So I took a quirky approach to a serious subject and made the story go in a more uplifting direction.

Can you share a small sample from your book to whet our appetite?

One creative way to cool off when it’s really hot is to walk up and down Duval Street and slow down in front of the entrances to the stores. Most of them have the doors open, which allows the air conditioning from inside to pour out onto the sidewalk. When your appearance is one of a street person, you can’t loiter for too awful long, though. You’ll quickly get chased by store management. Our types can easily have the tendency to discourage the purchasing public from shopping at a place that looks like a deadbeat hangout. That would be especially true at one of the swanky-ass art galleries. They really crank the air conditioning, which is nice. But the clientele the galleries are catering to needn’t have to rub elbows with a street dweller. Management at those joints keeps us moving on down the sidewalk.

Do you have another manuscript in progress?

Yes, Joanne, I am in the process of putting the finishing touches on my third novel. It is scheduled to be out in November. The book is entitled, Sanibel’s Secret Bank. The bank is evil and ruthless. And it is very powerful in the international banking industry. This is not your typical neighborhood bank. The residents of Sanibel are not aware the bank even exists because it is camouflaged in the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. There is a nepotism requirement for employment. In this way, the secret is kept protected more easily. But several of the younger employees are outraged by the cruel and brutal actions of the bank, to the point where they are driven to bring it down.

W.C Highfield’s website is  http://www.wchighfield.com/

His author page on Amazon is  http://www.amazon.com/W.C.-Highfield/e/B00424KLKO

Posted in authors, books, history, novels, suspense, thriller, writers

Robert Dean Bair gives life to history lessons

RobertDeanBair-a(2)

I am so excited to have Bob on my interview today. I have had the privilege to getting to know him over the past couple of years through our local witer’s group. Bob is one of the sweetest and funniest people I have ever met.  AND he is a fabulous author.  Tell them Bob, why did you start writing?

About ten years ago I realized that there were events in my life that my children and grandchildren would never read in a history book.

I started making a list, with the first event that had been responsible for many more events and direction in my life.

It was New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1947. I was a Military Policeman with the First Army stationed at Fort Jay on Governor’s Island in New York Harbor. I was on guard duty at the airstrip in a blinding snow storm. There was an event that President Harry Truman heard about it. This was the first of many events.

You certainly have a lot of stories to tell. -Did you have writing experience in your life?

Not really. I wrote reports when I was an insurance investigator and when I was a management consultant with M.K. Sheppard and Associates, a management consulting firm in Cleveland, Ohio.

How did you get published?

I was attending a Naples Press Club two day event that featured publishers, editors and agents. On the first day I met an agent from East Florida. I had completed my manuscript and planned to have a couple dozen copies printed at Quick Copy for my family. After talking with her for a while she suggested that I send her three chapters. I was delighted.

On the second day she had more question about my book and at the end of the day she suggested I send her all of the manuscript. The next day I overnighted the manuscript to her.

Three weeks later she called and said she would like to represent me. We signed an agreement within ten days.

Three months later she had a contract for two books if I would change the voice from third person to first. I had written the story as if I was reading it to the children.

I completed the change in three months and had a contract for two books with AecheBooks a traditional publisher. In October 2006 The Cloisters of Canterbury was published by ArcheBooks.

Cloisters of Canterbury by Robert Bair

That is a dream come true for most of us authors that wait years and years to find an agent. You made it sound too easy.  I know that is not the end of the story. Please continue.

You are correct Joanne.  Two years later when my second book was ready to be submit the book business was in a slump and based on the firms production schedule it could be four or five years before my book would be published.

My second book Peace at Lambeth Bridge was published by iUniverse, in November 2008.

Peace on Lambeth Bridge Robert Bair book

In 2013, Peace at Lambeth Bridge, Second Edition was published by Create Space.

Dead Man Talking was  published by Create Space March 2014.

Dead Man Talking

How do you compare Traditional Publishing with self-publishing through Create Space?

I had very little to say with ArcheBooks and received very little marketing support.

Create Space gives the author the opportunity to change prices and market.

I think price sells books. But you need a good cover and a good story.

There are no free lunches.

That is for sure, Bob.  Can you tell us the premise of  Dead Man Talking?

Just before his death on a sandy beach in Anguilla, British West Indies, David Lee Casady, a former CIA operative reveals the true story of the overthrow of Juan Bosch Dictator of the Dominican Republic. Casady held a gun to his head, a Bloodless Coup.

Thank you so much for being on my blog. Below are the links to buy Bob’s books.

Buy Links – Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1?ie=UTF8&field-author=Robert+Dean+Bair&search-alias=books&text=Robert+Dean+Bair&sort=relevancerank

Create Space – http://www.createspace.com/4631602

Posted in books, fiction, love, mystery, romance, writers

Kerryn Reid presents Learning to Waltz

Kerryn Reid in color

Please help me welcome Kerryn Reid to Author Interview Friday. How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?

Oh, let’s just say… years! I’d get stuck and set it aside for months at a time. Once my computer died and I lost about a third of what I’d written. But those are just excuses. I’m taking it seriously now, but I’m afraid I’m not a fast writer.

I know you belong to SWFL Romance Writers.  Do you always write in the same genre?

I do love romance. Even when I read mysteries, or fantasy, I prefer them to have a satisfying romance.

My first love is for historicals. But I do have a few contemporary stories begging to be told. One or two of them might properly qualify as women’s fiction, but they’ll still have a sizeable dose of romance.

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

So far, I’ve written only in the third person. Most romances strive to bring readers inside the heads (and hearts!) of both heroine and hero; in Learning to Waltz  I’ve added a couple of other points of view. I have at least one story idea that I expect to write in first person. Easier in some ways, harder in others.

When I began writing, I used quite a bit of “omniscient narration”, that outside observer who gets to see what everyone is doing and thinking. I’m quite diligent these days about avoiding that. You can’t get into someone’s heart that way.

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

Outline? What’s that? I’m working hard at becoming a more organized writer, but unfortunately that is not my natural inclination. The story-building is definitely a challenge, but the hardest part for me is after the book is finished, crystallizing the essence of it into successively smaller nuggets for the synopsis, the blurb, and finally the tag line. Ugh!

Tell us about  the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

Deborah Moore has learned her lessons well—feel nothing, reveal less, and trust no one. Now widowed with a child of her own, she leads a lonely, cloistered existence, counting her farthings and thinking she is safe. When five-year-old Julian is lost one bitter December day, she discovers how tenuous that safety is.

Evan Haverfield has lived thirty carefree years, hunting, laughing, and dancing among London’s high society. His biggest problem has been finding excuses not to marry. But his life changes when he finds Julian Moore half-frozen under a hedge and carries him home to his mother. The young widow hides behind a mask, hard and reserved, but Evan sees glimpses of another woman, wistful, intelligent, and passionate. She’s vulnerable, desirable—and completely unsuitable for the heir to Northridge.

Alone in the earliest hours of a new year, Evan teaches Deborah to waltz. Can he teach her joy and laughter? Will love sweep away the shadows of her past and reveal the luminous woman she could be?

KerrynReid Learning_to_Waltz 0500x800

Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to whet our appetite?

I’d love to! Though we catch a glimpse of our hero in Chapter One, this is where we really meet Evan Walsingham, in Chapter Two. And before I go, Joanne, let me say how much I appreciate your invitation to join you here at Writing under Fire!

You are welcome. It has been a pleasure. Readers, you can buy Kerryn’s book by going to

“Anyone who leaves a review at Amazon, B&N or Goodreads, will win… well, my undying gratitude! If you join my newsletter, you can receive periodic updates and extras.”

What in bloody hell am I doing out here?

The December cold bit through Evan’s greatcoat and huddled round his ankles. He couldn’t feel his face, and his toes were just a memory. With each hoofbeat, he feared his teeth would crack. There were more pleasurable ways to cure the restlessness that ailed him—Latimer had the right of it, sitting home by his fireside.

Grady, who’d been Evan’s groom and companion for fifteen years and accompanied him through plenty of uncomfortable situations, didn’t look much happier. Each exhalation of man and horse added to the gray mist that surrounded them. They should have moved to Italy long ago—southern Italy. Or Greece. There, at least, if he took a chivalrous notion to go searching for some little boy who’d been mislaid, they would be in no danger of freezing to death.

As Evan’s discomfort increased, each field they traversed seemed a bit larger, and his sympathy for the boy’s mother receded a bit further. He hoped he would feel a similar compassion for any child in hazard, but no use denying it was the woman’s face that had spurred him to join the little troop of villagers scouring the countryside. If one of his own nieces or nephews went missing, there would be a battalion of servants and tenants to search every square inch of ground three times over. That face made a few hours of discomfort seem a paltry sacrifice. Or it had a few hours ago.

The squire had sent them out along the river lane into the partitioned farmlands that surrounded Whately. But searchers already roved up and down the lane, and Evan had decided to leave the roadway, cutting through the hedgerow into a series of fields that ran alongside. They kept the impatient horses to a walk, riding the perimeter of each enclosure as they worked their way out from town.

Several fields later, he doubted his wisdom.

“That’s quite a frown you’re wearing, Mr. Haverfield,” said Grady, glancing up to check the bare branches of a beech tree. “What’re you thinking?”

“A number of things, none of them pleasant.” Except, possibly, what her face might look like wearing a smile.

Posted in authors, books, editing, education, favorite books, fiction, history, literary fiction, memoir, non-fiction, novels, political injustice, readers, spiritual, spiritual, womens fiction, writers, writing

Janet Levine bring us Leela’s Gift

Janet Levine
Janet Levine

Today’s author, Janet Levine was born and raised in South Africa.  Multi-published, from her political memoir, Inside Apartheid to her women’s fiction novel, Leela’s Gift, she is a superb writer with a superb grasp of the art of story-telling.  Welcome Janet. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

There was never a time I did not want to be a writer. I still have my five-year old scribbles. Vividly I remember the first book I read on my own. It was about a visit to the circus and described the dawn colors and the day’s events. I was enchanted, exhilarated at the world evoked on the pages and I told my mother I was going to do that, write a story. So I did, and I’ve never stopped.

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

At fourteen, a short story I wrote was read on the national radio in South Africa, and was a finalist for the best teenage writer prize that year. What a thrill. Since the age of eighteen I became a published freelance journalist in the national press in South Africa in those “liberal” newspapers that were against the apartheid regime. I have continued to write articles all my life. I now blog and write book reviews. I also wrote novels from about the age of twelve but none of them were publishable. Because of my involvement in the anti-apartheid struggle I did not have time to polish and revise. My political memoir Inside Apartheid was my first book length manuscript to be published. I started it in 1985 shortly after we immigrated to the USA. My then husband is American and we arrived to live in the Boston area with our two sons. I craved peaceful time to write after the drama of South African politics and wrote the book to establish that a number of white activists were part of the human rights struggle, too. Americans seemed to think that all whites supported apartheid. Because of my reputation in political activities and journalism, I was invited to be on the MacNeill/Lehrer News Hour commenting on the situation in South Africa, and interviewed by Judy Woodruff. A few days later PBS forwarded me a letter from a New York agent who asked if I was thinking of writing a book. I told him I was already working on one. Several months later we had a contract with a large Chicago publishing house.

Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. What shelves would we find your books in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

I’m a cross over writer; I’ve published a political memoir, two psychology books, and a novel. The book we are promoting today is a novel and we would find it under fiction, women writers, and spirituality.

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

POV is one of the most challenging decisions for a fiction writer. My voice is decidedly first person. In the novel I am working on now I have two first person narrators; I enjoy making readers “work” a little at figuring out what is the structure. This is highly experimental and unconventional and I still need to work on smoothing the transitions between the voices. In a recently published, magnificent novel The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (recently won the Pulitzer Prize for literature 2014) the author mastered the first person POV to perfection. A pre-pub novel (by a well-known author) I am reading now for review has two, third person (omniscient) narrators, and he works the transitions between their POVs superbly.

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

Currently the hardest part of the writing process (for me) is deciding to go the traditional route of seeking an agent, or trying to find an indie publisher, or to self-publish. What I have learned is that however long your work takes to write and revise, it is pristinely your baby, until you hire an editor to bring that professional polish. But the aggravation of the editing process and all those revisions is nothing compared to the resilience and patience (and time and/or money) you need to publish your book. You have to absolutely believe you have something to say that other people want to read or don’t even begin the publishing journey. It is a tough world out there.

Tell us about one of your books in 3 sentences

In Leela’s Gift the protagonist, a New Yorker, undertakes an enriching spiritual journey in the mountains near Darjeeling, India. The novel uncovers highly relevant spiritual teachings for our modern world. In captivating prose the novel intertwines modern philosophy and ancient wisdom in telling a story as old as the human heart.

Complete this sentence……. My favorite place to write is in almost total silence in a room surrounded by my favorite books and pictures and with a window that looks out on a garden or some greenery.

How about this one. …. A book about writing I love is Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings.

Where can readers buy your books?

My website is  www.janetlevine.com. All four books are linked to Amazon from my website and readers can follow me on twitter @jlevinegrp

Thank you Janet.  I know we will have you back to tell us more about Inside Apartheid.  Can you share a few paragraphs from the book we are promoting today, Leela’s Gift?  

“There was no mistaking Maharishi, standing amidst a group of solemn looking men all dressed in white. Pausing with one hand on the gate, Maharishi looked searchingly at me, drawing my attention back to him. He wore a long, immaculate white kurta, a collarless Indian shirt, over wide white trousers. Open sandals adorned his thin feet. In his other hand the beads of his mala slid effortlessly and deliberately through his slender, elegant fingers. His gaze seemed to penetrate my being and warmed to life many layers of my inner self that until that moment lay dormant; quickly I lowered my eyes, the force of his energy overwhelming. In his presence I struggled for breath.

His dark, deep-set eyes were softly luminous, and they smiled as he opened the gate. At the abrupt loss of his presence I felt cold, as I were in the Atlantic Ocean in winter. His presence radiated such heat and desire than when he left I was bereft. Considering this state along with my urge moments earlier to sink to my knees and prostrate myself at his feet, there was every reason to ask with rising hysteria; what was happening to me? After five minutes at the ashram my inner being swirled in choppy eddies. Maybe I should return to the taxi and drive back to Bagdora airport. The familiar known world tugged at me—standing at the threshold to this world seemed perilous, too risky.”

 

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, books, characters, fiction, friends, humor, Indie, mystery, novels, womens fiction, writers, writing

Shannon Danford writes “Mystery Blues”

Shannon Danford

Welcome Shannon Danford to Author Interview Friday. I have met Shannon twice now in author events such as Marco Island’s AuthorFest. It is a pleasure to have her on my blog today.

Shannon, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

Some of my earliest memories are of my parents reading to me, reading whatever they happened to be reading.  Not surprisingly, I became intrigued with the magic of the written word.  Then, in the fourth grade, my teacher published some of her students’ stories and after seeing my story in ink, I knew writing was in my future.   That future turned into a circuitous journey that ultimately provided the stories that needed a voice.   I saw my first book in print at age 49.  It’s been a long road.

I know the feeling.  Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication?

I have an undergraduate degree in marketing, so I have a basic understanding of the pipeline from creator to end user.   And since I’m not a fan of traditional marketing, I’m employing a strategy that makes more sense to me – place a high value on creativity throughout the product cycle; it keeps things fresh and authentic.  To that end, I think the wordsmith/creator has to reinvent herself to adapt to a new literary world where she has to escort the book from concept all the way to the end reader and employ her creativity in ways that defy traditional marketing.  At this point, if a major press became interested in my books, I don’t think I’d sell out the flow and process I’ve forged.  I like being a rebel.

What does finding your “Voice” mean to you?

I think part of the human experience is coming to understand your authentic self which naturally includes the discovery of your own voice.  Whether you play an instrument, dance, cook, paint or write, that spark that animates us wants to be known.  For me it happened while working in a nursing facility.  Watching people die (often without any family around) and handling things like adult briefs that no one wants to touch, takes a toll on you.  To get through the day, I started imagining I was on the set of a sitcom.  If I didn’t figure out how to laugh about my situation, I would be too depressed to function.   That humorous perspective allowed me to survive and ultimately flourish.   Back then, finding my voice was liberating.  Today, writing in that voice keeps me grounded.

What was  your biggest challenge in learning to write or in the industry?

For me, the hardest part of writing is changing hats from writer to editor, to publicist, to publisher, to marketer.  But the literary world is in flux and I believe to survive it, one must adapt.  On a positive note, I have to think that with every book the obstacle course gets more familiar and easier.  I look forward to the day when I can take off my training wheels.

Do you have any advice for new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Believe that you can’t fail.  You are the only person who can speak in this voice; you have a story to tell.  The only way you can lose is to stop writing!  When you have a finished manuscript, get as many people to read it as possible and listen to their feedback with an open mind.  Then buy the best editing you can afford.

Complete this sentence……. My favorite place to write is …..

My favorite place to write is at my desk with a cup of coffee on my right and a lighted fragrant candle on my left.  Celtic music plays in the background and it is raining outside.  Ahhhh

What’s your next big writing challenge?

Everything I’ve written to date has been humorous and I plan to continue in that genre for at least two more books; however, my sister writes screenplays and encouraged me to give that a try.  So I’m working on a story that is told largely through pictures.  It is a challenge that I think will help sharpen my dialogue skills and allow me to explore another writing medium.  Beyond that, I’ll go where the muse leads.

Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to whet our appetite?

This excerpt is from my third book in the blues series – Chinese Takeout Blues.

“What the hell is this?” Bucky knelt down and picked up the script. He began to read the questions out loud. When he looked up, Bucky’s mouth hung open, unhinged; his eyes were black pinpoints of malice.

Mo collected the rest of the pages and tucked them away. Then he stood and faced his colleague. “I would like to say I’m sorry, but I’m not, Bucky. You don’t deserve to serve the people of this county.”

Fern made no move to turn off the camera when she left the sound booth. Hiram followed behind and they entered the chamber where the two commissioners were still facing off.

“You did this!” Bucky shook the paper at Fern, spittle flying from his mouth.

Fern nodded. “Yes. I had to do something before you hurt anyone else.”

Bucky stormed toward her full of enmity and rage. “Are you trying to shake me down?” He drew up to within a foot of Fern and stood, nostrils flaring with each breath, oblivious to the fact that his entire comb-over hung free, dangling from his barren pate down to his shoulder like a threadbare beret. Buell closed the gap between them to inches. “This is setup!” He held the script under her chin and then released it. It floated harmlessly to the ground.

“No, sir, this is justice.” Fern said the first words that came to her. She stood toe-to-toe with the man, daring him to push her further. Buell flinched first, turning to the sound of the chamber doors opening. After several very tense seconds, all of which were being recorded, Fern knelt and picked up the paper, turned on her heel, and left him seething in his Kenneth Cole loafers.

Thank you Shannon.  Where can readers buy Chinese Takeout Blues or your other “Blues” mysteries?

To purchase my books at the best price, go to my website:  www.mamasluckymojo.com

There are also available on Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=Shannon%20Danford&search-alias=books