Category Archives: Author Interviews

Not My Time to Go: The Meaning of it All

I am still standing today after 11 near death experiences.

I am still standing today after 11 near death experiences.

Not My Time to Go: The Meaning of It All
by Thornton Cline

After much prayer and deep listening, I have concluded that I, as well as others, definitely have guardian angels watching over us.

I believe with certainty that these near-death experiences have been allowed to happen through the years to develop and build my character. Through these near misses I have learned to handle any adversity. Not only has each near miss made me a stronger person, each crisis has given me deeper compassion and empathy for my brothers and sisters here on Earth. I am now able to understand the difficulties and hardships that my fellow brothers and sisters face every day.

I am able to witness to my fellow brothers and sisters and share with them the love I’ve found in Jesus Christ. My close calls have enabled me to look at another human being’s situation objectively with love and without judgement.

Because of these near-death experiences I have become more dependent on my Heavenly Father, relying on Him for everything in life. I have learned to totally rely on my Lord and Savior in Heaven. My faith continues to grow stronger every day.

Over the years, I have become very grateful for my life. I look at every day as a precious gift. I never take my life for granted. I am constantly seeking opportunities and ways to serve my Lord and Savior with gifts that I have been given. I believe that the attitude of gratitude pleases God and makes Him want to help me even more by showering me with more blessings and opportunities.

I believe that these life-threatening occurrences have given new meaning to my life. I can now walk through the next phase of my life with complete faith and confidence, knowing that whatever happens from here on out, I can actually rely on God to take care of me.

Knowing what I know now, I can faithfully on my angel to protect me for life. I can call on our Lord and Savior knowing He will send my angel and angels to my side in times of danger.

I believe I have come a long way in my lifetime. And I still have a long way to go. But my faith has grown to new heights. And I revel in my total and complete reliance on my Heavenly Father.

I have found my purpose and mission on Earth. I am eternally grateful for being spared and given many chances to carry out my mission until I am called to come home to be with the Lord. I have truly discovered the meaning of it all.

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Filed under Author Interviews, life, Mike Simpson, Thornton Douglas Cline, writing

Interview with Steve Hagood, Author of CHASING THE WOODSTOCK BABY

woodstock-copy

Welcome, Steve. What is your book about?

Retired Detroit police detective Chase is approached by a nice old lady who asks him to find the baby she had, and lost, at Woodstock. The search takes Chase to a small town in Michigan that has a secret that it has been hiding for four decades. The man who runs the town will go to any lengths, including murder, to keep the secret.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I have always been fascinated with Woodstock. When I heard the legend of the Woodstock baby I wondered what had happened to it. Why has nobody ever come forward to claim to be the baby, or the mother? My imagination took over from there.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

Obviously, my protagonist Chase is my main and favorite character. A lot of Private Investigators in novels have a sidekick who acts as his foil – dark, mysterious, the guy who does the dirty work – Spenser and Hawk, Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. Chase is both of those guys rolled into one. He is the wise cracking, lovable guy who isn’t afraid to do the dirty work.

Sarge and Sally are Chase’s partners in the bar he owns. Sarge was Chase’s training officer when he joined the Detroit Police. He still acts as a mentor and a steadying influence. Sally is the brains of the operation. She acts as Chase’s de facto research department. She doubles as the female, creating sexual tension between the two.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

Yes. I had to do quite a bit of research for this book. The internet is a wonderful tool for a writer. It can transport you to any place and any time you want. I was able to put myself at Woodstock through pictures and stories. Hopefully my writing puts the reader there with me.

What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?

I don’t really have a schedule. I have a day job and a family so it’s not always easy to find time to write. I write when I can. I live by the mantra “Writers write” to push myself to write something every day, even if it’s just a few paragraphs or sentences.

What are you working on right now?

I recently finished another Chase novel, titled Cold Dark Places. Hopefully we will see it soon from Indigo Sea Press. It’s a story about a college girl missing in Detroit, and the basketball player implicated in her disappearance.

What was the first story you remember writing?

I didn’t start writing until about thirty. The first story I wrote was a ghost story. I don’t know why. It’s the only ghost story I’ve ever written. It was about a group of friends on a fishing trip who were haunted by the ghost of a Civil War soldier. It wasn’t very good, but it was a lot of fun to write.

Where do you get the names for your characters?

Names are tough. One of the techniques I use is to open up the internet and use the first name that I see, if it fits the character that I need to name. I head up a scholarship given by my graduating class to the high school we graduated from. I offered my former classmates their name in a book in exchange for a donation to the scholarship. I had a couple people who wanted to see their name in a book, so it worked out for me, for them, and the scholarship.

What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?

The most surprising aspect of writing, for me, is when the story builds upon itself. Sometimes I feel like a stenographer. I’m just the guy typing the words, the story is writing itself. In The Woodstock Baby there is a scene where Chase is questioning a suspect, the suspect denies any involvement and Chase says, “We have a witness!” I thought, “Wow, there’s a witness!” I didn’t know there was a witness until I typed it, and I’m the author! I couldn’t wait to see who the witness was because I sure didn’t know.

What writer influenced you the most?

I actually have two big influences. The late great Robert B. Parker made me fall in love with books. His Spenser stories are still my favorite. I’ve read them all multiple times. The fact that Chase is known by a single name is in homage to Parker and Spenser.

The other writer who influenced me is JA Konrath. I love his books, but it’s more than just his writing that influenced me. One thing the general public doesn’t know is that it is very difficult to get published – “you should publish that” a lot. If only it was that easy. Konrath called himself the king of rejection. He wrote nine full novels in two or three different genres before he got one published. He accumulated literally hundreds of rejections, but he never gave up. He eventually broke through and now has millions of books sold. He inspired me to never give up, to never stop chasing my dream.

What one word describes how you feel when you write?

Joy

If your book was made into a TV series or Movie, what actors would you like to see playing your characters?

Ironically, in Cold Dark Places I make mention to The Woodstock Baby and how some Hollywood people wanted to make a movie about the case. They promised to get Denzel Washington to play Chase, even though Chase is “white, younger than, and nowhere near as pretty” as Denzel.

In “real life” I see Chase as more of a Will Patton type. He has the ability to be caring and tough and make them both authentic.

There’s this other actor who I know named Tevis Marcum who I think would do an outstanding job as Chase. He’s from the Detroit area and has the look. Like Will Patton he has the ability to be caring and tough in the same character.

What is something you never leave home without (apart from keys, money and phone)?

My flash drive. My work goes everywhere with me. I do back it up to my computer however. It has gone through the wash a time or two. There is no terror like the terror of finding your flash drive in the bottom of the washing machine.

What is your favorite place, real or fictional? Why?

Saline, Michigan. It’s my hometown. I moved away for a while and when I returned I thought, “Ahh, I’m home.” When I needed a small town to set The Woodstock Baby in I chose Saline because “there’s no place like home.”

Where can people learn more about your books?

From Indigo Sea Press http://www.indigoseapress.com/Stiletto-Books–Crime-and-Mystery-Authors-A-H.php#Steve and www.stevehagood.com

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An Interview and a Question: What Does it Take to Make You Feel Like an Author?


strange thing 2

A strange thing happened on the way to the blog.  I received an email out of the blue from someone I’ve never heard of.  That’s not so strange in itself; I get enough spam to feed a spambot until it vomits flowery poetry.

 

What was strange is that it was a request for an interview.  This wasn’t the usual, “Let’s fill out interview questions and share them on each other’s blogs to cross promote ourselves,” interview request.  This was a straight up, “I want to interview you.”

It surprised me.  The first thing I did was check the email address it came from.  It looked legitimate.  Then I skimmed (that’s what my eleven year old called it) her online.  I Googled, found and checked profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn, investigating if the person looks legitimate.  She looked legitimate.

uh oh

 

It was time for the, “Oh, uh, wow?” moment.  Me?  Why me?  Out of all the authors out there?

Now I had to know.  I’m not a cat, so hopefully curiosity won’t bring me to my swift demise.

I asked others on one of the author groups what they thought.

I contacted the young lady requesting the interview to ask those two big questions: Why me? – and – How did you happen to find me?

Honestly, I didn’t think I would be all that findable without specifically looking for me.

Her answers were simple.  I’m an author and she got my information from the local writers’ guild, which I’m a member of.

 

terrorThen I had a moment of terror.  I’ve never had a real interview.  I almost did once on a blog radio show, but it fell through due to technical issues.  We, the interviewers and my fellow intervewee, spanned states and countries.  Something went wrong and we couldn’t call in.  The blog show failed after too, so there was no redo.

Why does that even matter?  Because, I was in very near to a state of panic.  An actual talking interview with people I have to answer on the spot.  I can’t come back hours later when I think of something that I think sounds clever.

And now I’m panicking again at the thought of a face-to-face interview.  I would have to try to be clever on the spot.  I can’t do that.  I can write, the words coming effortlessly and fluidly, and sounding marvelous.  I can’t bloody talk.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I sound like a complete moron when I talk.  The words in my head just don’t come out the same way through my mouth.  My brain freezes, I jumble, stumble, and stutter.  I couldn’t do a speech with my eyes glued to the cue cards I’m reading mechanically from.

 

leave your comfort zoneTo truly live, you have to step out of your safety zone.  I decided to swallow my anxiety and give it the old college try.

It made it easier that I wasn’t doing it for myself.  I can’t count the times I opted not to do something because it was just for me.  I’m not used to doing things just for me.

The young woman interviewing me is from McMaster University. She won funding for a research project exploring the connection between Canadian literature and identity.  I was a stop on her trek across Canada interviewing authors about their craft and sense of identity as Canadians.

I went to the interview hoping that I would be of help, but still with that nagging doubt pulling on me like a toddler sized imp trying to whisper in my ear, “Why you?”

I survived the interview and she didn’t look ill listening to my jabbering.  I have to say, the best part of the interview was the end when I gave her a copy of my latest published book, The McAllister Farm.  She was actually excited I gave it to her.
impAfter the interview, that same nasty little imp kept tugging on my shirt hem and whispering my doubts.  Why me?  There are a lot of authors out there, ones people actually heard of and know; authors who sold a lot book books and made bestseller lists, and everything.  Telling me, “You don’t even feel like a real author.”

 

magic quill

What does it take to make you feel like an author?  Of course, the simplest answer should be, “You wrote a book,” or, “You published a book.”  If only life were so simple for everyone.

 

In all the years I spent writing, I’ve always had that nagging doubt.  I’m nobody.  Unknown.  Just some person with a story in her head (okay many stories) that need to get out.  I’m not James Patterson or Stephen King.  I don’t go by the moniker Dean Koontz or any other name anyone would recognize and say, “Hey, that’s an author!”

I always had the doubt, expecting anyone at any time to say I’m wasting my time, I’m not a “real” author, or that my writing stinks like the rancid breath of the partially desiccated reanimated corpse of a komodo dragon with a dead skunk stuck in its mouth.

Even after my first book, Where the Bodies Are, was published, doubts remain.  It’s only one book, after all.  But, it can’t be all that bad if someone else found it worthy of publication, right?  I still didn’t feel like a “real” author; which is probably odd, since I would without question think of anyone else who published a single book as a “real” author.

Now I have a couple of books published, with Indigo Sea Press picking up not only Where the Bodies Are, but also my latest book, The McAllister Farm.

With published books I now have to count on more than one finger, I still don’t feel authorey; and yes, I did just make up that word.

 

intangible personTo me, an author has always been that intangible person on the other side of the book.  The magic behind the story.  Funny, I don’t look or feel magic.  Not mystical in any way.  I’m just me.

If I had ten published books, I would probably feel the same way.  I’m just me.  Someone asked me to autograph my book she bought and it felt really weird.  I very recently sold a few books to a few people I know and they asked me to sign them.  It felt just as strange, awkward really, in a, “This is a joke, right?” kind of way.  And these were all people I’ve known for years.  I might get sucked into an abyss of weirdness in the floor if an actual stranger wanted me to sign a book.

I’m not sure what it will take before I feel like a “real author”.  At what point this will happen, if ever.

I asked my eleven year old what would make her feel like a “real author”.  Her answer: “If my books sold; lots.  A lot of them.”

I asked my thirteen year old the same question. Her answer: “When a lot of people buy my books and are asking for them, and when I’m making a good profit.  And, when I’m a New York Times bestseller, because all my books are New York Times bestsellers.”

pose question.jpg

I pose the question to you, and this is all about YOU, not for you to try to convince me that I’m a “real” author.

 

Authors: What made or would make you feel like a “real author”?

Readers: What defines a “real author” for you, as opposed to thinking, “Yeah, whatever, so you wrote a book, but you aren’t a real author”?

 

Let the game begin.

 

Can you handle a little darkness?

L.V. Gaudet is the author of the McAllister Series.

Tormented by his inability to stop killing, the killer is taunted by his need to find the one thing he must find …

where the bodies are

Learn the secret … behind the bodies and how the man who created the killer became who he is …

McAllister Farm cover 052316_edited-1 - front cover.jpg

The third book will bring these two stories together for a dramatic climax… but no story truly ends.

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Crazy little thing called blog

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By Jonna Ellis Holston

You know how when you meet somebody at a party who sells insurance and you suddenly want to be as far away from this person as the room will allow? Quick, find an excuse. Run away, fast, before you hear the words ‘indemnity’ or ‘term’, you think. Your eyes scan for an exit and then you spot, Sue.

“Oh there’s Sue, I need to go and say hello,” you say… in spite of the fact that Sue reported you to the HOA for the pot of begonias on your door step, and has breath rancid enough to kill a pterodactyl.

Now I tell you, my family brimmed with columnists and authors. Even the great Jack Kerouac married my uncle’s sister, Stella. I remember him and I remember how it used to be, years ago, when new authors were revered. If someone we knew had a book that was about to be published, everyone wanted to know them. We welcomed them, invited them, immediately, to our next party. Now, it seems that everyone has a book. Even I have a book.

A sane person would be discouraged, right? Not me. I find it immensely satisfying to know that this many people have stories so compelling and that they, courageously, sat at a desk for a year or more, perhaps typing with just two index fingers, and wrote their truth. I’m thrilled to know that the publishing industry now provides more options for these emerging authors.

So, recently, I met an author at a party. When I shared with her that my book would soon be published, I saw her eyes scan the room for escape. She settled on doing the polite thing and asked me what my book was about. “It’s a funny account of divorced women who are looking for another chance at love,” I told her.

“Oh,” she said as she took a step back, “that’s a tough sell. Everyone wants murder these days. Violence, madness, they only want to read about twisted serial killers. That’s what sells.” And she walked off to talk to someone else (probably an insurance agent). I had to laugh.

Does she not know that books are magical? They’re not autumn leaves that fall on cold ground only to be crushed by footsteps. Books are the blowpuffs of spring’s new dandelions, seeds propelled onward by angel’s hair that have the potential to soar on towards forever. They find their place; caress fertile soil, cultivate ideas and nurture others who may someday write their own stories, their personal truths.

Blogs, like these, are a wild willing breeze. You never know who will read them. They can make all the difference on earth… to us and to another, would be… story teller.

Write on, authors! Write more… more sex, more murder, more mystery and more love triumphant, because when Nationwide happened, State Farm thrived. And readers, my friends, abound. The world of literature is now limitless.

Note to reader: No insurance personnel were harmed in the writing of this blog.

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Interview With Katie Burgess McClaren, Hero of “Ghosts and Physics” by April Arnold

Ghosts and PhysicsWhat is your story?

Oh geez, my story…teachers back in high school always gave us writing assignments like this, and I didn’t know what to say even then. A person’s story is just too intricate…and generally boring to 99% of the world’s non-family population. But since you asked so politely, I’ll give it a shot. My name is Katie Burgess McClaren, and I’m a confirmed English fanatic. I’m also passionately in love with all things sci-fi with an adoration of the fantastical too. I don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up, even though Mick–he’s my boyfriend-turned-husband…you’ll have to read the book–is always reminding me that I’m already supposed to have achieved adulthood. I don’t like that notion because it means there’s a sizeable amount of catching up to do. Anyway, I also have a penchant for ghost-hunting shows, unorthodox clothing choices, and wine of all shapes and sizes. I’m a really nice person in possession of what I think is an awesome sense of humor. I also second-guess myself a lot…most of the time, in fact. And I randomly change the subject. But all in all, most days I manage to hold myself and life together in a successful manner. It’s just a good thing that life is supposed to be about the journey and not the destination because I’ve been reaching some pretty freakish destinations lately!

Do you have a problem that wasn’t mentioned in the story?

Yes, I have a problem not mentioned in the story: roosters! No wait, that was mentioned in the story. The PRIMARY problem at present has been getting stubborn Mick to help me prove my theory on ghosts vs. time-warping people. Well, that was part 1 of the problem anyway. He finally did invent this totally groovy machine which proved my theory irrefutably…but it also got us stranded in 1922. The nice couple we met there were subsequently transported to the present, and we spent the rest of the book’s chapters trying to figure out how to swap ourselves back. Well, and some government agency was trying to steal Mick’s machine. That didn’t exactly help with the problem either.

How do you see yourself?

I’m always honorable but only sometimes healthy. Honor comes easily for me because anytime I’ve attempted dishonorableness, it’s royally backfired! Like if I tell a lie? You can absolutely bet that a) my face will immediately give me away and/or b) I’ll be lying to somebody smarter than I am who already knows the answer to the question they’re asking and are only asking said question to test my honorableness. Being healthy…well, I drink lots of diet soda and sometimes exercise during a sudden onset of Physical Fitness commitment. Okay, so I’m not at ALL honorable when it comes my commitment to Physical Fitness. I cheat on Physical Fitness all the time.

What makes you angry?

Willing, habitual, on-purpose ignorance makes me angry. And orange sports cars. I mean, what the hell??

Do you like remembering your childhood?

I had a pretty great childhood, actually, except for all the forced child labor my parents inflicted. Okay, so that’s a bit dramatic, but working in the cotton fields in the middle of a Texas summer-furnace is not a happy memory. That sweaty experience aside, my parents were rather awesome in that they took excellent and loving care of my brother and me (the cotton fields aside). We lived in a small community outside of Austin where my Dad farmed and did the cow-raising thing. There was a gorgeous creek a mile or so behind our house where I often wasted a lot of time that could’ve been spent studying or cleaning the toilet or getting a real job…stuff like that.

Anyway, when I got old enough, I escaped the country life and moved to Austin proper where I made just enough money to pay rent and support the wine and Papa John’s industries. My brother and I weren’t pushed to “be” anything as kids. That can be a really great thing since I feel like too much pressure is put on children today to know exactly what they want to do/be as adults and know it by age 5 so an educational plan/plot may be established on the first day of kindergarten. Human beings have a bad habit of categorizing their offspring to the point that said offspring feel trapped in one skill, one path, one destiny. Destiny is undefinable and ever-changing. But that’s too much philosophy! What I’m trying to say is that I kind of wish my parents HAD pushed us to be more ambitious. I feel like I’d have accomplished much more far sooner than I have.

What is your most prized possession?

My most prized possession is that killer all-leather outfit that Mick has confiscated and will never let me wear.

Have you ever had an adventure?

Have I ever had an adventure? My entire effing life has officially become an adventure! I wish the adventure would stop! I’m OD-ing on adventure! What I wouldn’t give to be bored and just STATIONARY for five minutes…

What about your past would you like to forget?

What about my past would I like to forget…hmm…well, since my past has become my future and vice versa, it’s kind of difficult to answer such things. I guess anything related to chicken coops or gopher death would be pleasant to forget, and if we suddenly get sucked into the past again, there will probably be something new that’s worth forgetting except that “something” is still in my future in the past…good gravy, where did I put that bottle of Tylenol…

If you were at a store now, what ten items would be in your shopping cart?

Ooo, I like that easy and philosophy-less question…imaginary shopping! What ten items would be in my shopping cart, let’s see…Diet Dr. Pepper, a bottle of Thai lemongrass dressing, a bottle of wine, make-up/foundation, mascara, cleaner for my contacts, sushi, chicken tenderloin, salsa, and cilantro.

How do you envision your future?

How do I envision my future…wow, which one? It could literally shift with a single push of the button on Mick’s electromagnetic field-increasing, time-shifting machine. Our future will forever be decided by circumstances that we and this mechanical marvel have created. Uncontrollable events have been set in motion. Unavoidable outcomes have been initiated. I envision my future as one not of my own choosing. I didn’t mean to get all depressing on you, but yeah…that answer is a truthful one…because I’m honorable.

***

About April Arnold:

http://secondwindpublishing.com is your initial go-to source for my books. They will also be available on Amazon.com in both print and electronic formats. Updates and information on the State of my Writing Union will be posted on my WordPress blog entitled Diabloggical Me. I’ll also be posting information on my Ghosts and Physics Facebook page which is coming soon!

Click here for an Interview with April Arnold, Author of “Ghosts and Physics”

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Interview with Velya Jancz-Urban, author of “Acquiescence”

AcquiescenceWhat is your book about?

When Pamina Campbell learns of a murder committed over two hundred years ago in her Connecticut farmhouse in order to avenge an unforgivable crime, she accepts that she has no idea how the universe works, except that it requires acquiescence at every point. Two plot threads twine in Acquiescence, as one woman calls to another across three centuries. One story, featuring Susannah Mathews, takes place in the late 1700s, while Pamina’s story is set in modern day. Pamina learns that disaster – the sort of disaster that leaves you numb on a park bench or aching for your husband to come back to you – can be a freaky thing of beauty. As Pamina and her family try to piece their lives back together in their 1770 home, little do they know that secrecy, homophobia, and a ghastly confession await.

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

The message in Acquiescence is that even though a person may have no desire to re-live a challenging or difficult time in their life, the obstacle can play a role in shaping who you become. If you allow adversity to become an opportunity for growth, you may become a different person.

Do you have a favorite snack food or favorite beverage that you enjoy while you write?

While I don’t have any particular type of snack or drink at my side as I write, I did have a food-incentive-as-reward for when I received my first Offer of Representation for Acquiescence. Although I don’t eat them (because years ago I gave up corn syrup, GMOs, and wheat), I’m crazy about Vienna Fingers cookies. A year ago, when I started sending out query letters, I decided to buy a package of Vienna Fingers and keep them on top of an exposed hand-hewn beam in our kitchen. I promised myself that on the day I got my offer, I would welcome “corn syrup coma” and gobble down the entire twenty-four pack, along with a cold glass of raw milk. The enticing red and yellow package stared down at me every time I walked under the beam. With every rejection letter, the rounded-end finger-shaped cookies taunted me. I could almost hear them sneer, “Ha! Ha! We’re safe up here. You’re never gonna eat us!” And then, came my Offer of Representation from Second Wind Publishing. As I triumphantly dunked each crème-filled vanilla cookie, every “unfortunately, this manuscript does not fit our needs at this time” rejection drowned in the glass of milk.

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

The best advice I would give an aspiring author is a quote by literary agent, Dan Lazar: “The best rule of thumb is always to start the story where the story starts.” This was one of the stumbling blocks in my first drafts. Where does the story start? Until you, the author, have that straight in your mind, the story’s flow won’t be right. Also, although it’s difficult, being able to summarize your book in one sentence clarifies its goal.

If you could have lunch with one person, real or fictitious, who would it be?

If I could have lunch with one person, it would probably be Alva Vanderbilt. Ever since my first trip to Newport, Rhode Island as a little kid, I have been fascinated by the Gilded Age. I was never envious of Alva’s life, just intrigued by her drive. I love the fact that she went from a seen-better-days Southern belle, to an unconventional multi-millionaire American socialite, and then became a major figure in the women’s suffrage movement. For our twentieth-fifth wedding anniversary, my husband bought me a set of her “Votes for Women” china.

Which is more important to your story, character or plot?

Character is the heart of story. Readers relate to stories through character. Plot frames the conflict and action. Why would we want to pick one over the other when we can – and should – have both?

What is a talent you have that no one knows?

– As a hands-on science teacher, I can identify any bone that comes out of a regurgitated owl pellet.
– Although I’m an atheist, I can recite the books of the Bible – Old and New Testament – in order.
– From hours of quizzing my pre-teen son, I still know all 100 answers to the 4-H Poultry Showmanship questions.

Why will readers relate to your characters?

Every family has a moment that changes everything. Things happen – things you can’t even imagine – and in a minute the world is changed. Readers will relate to my characters because, just as in real life, they’ll like some and despise others. In my novel, Acquiescence, the Campbell family finds the courage to overcome adversity, realize that love never dies, and accept that there are bigger forces out there that know no limit. They learn that it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you deal with what happens to you, and that the best revenge is living a happy life.

What famous literary character is most like you?

Although I look like Liza Minnelli, I think my personality is similar to Ma Joad’s in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. I’ve never decapitated a chicken, but, like ‘Ma,’ I’m the backbone of my family.

When we first meet Ma Joad, she is a strong woman. When we see her in the very last chapter, she is a strong woman. Her strength only grows throughout the course of the novel. In fact, her initial strength transforms into a different kind of strength – one that it is dead set on survival – the survival of her family. As her family meets obstacle after obstacle, Ma Joad keeps it together. She is the strongest supporter of family and togetherness. Ma expresses this best when she directs Rosasharn to breast-feed the starving man at the novel’s conclusion. Both Ma Joad and I know that even the most horrible circumstances can be surmounted with grace and dignity.

Did you do any research for the book?

Moving into a 1770 Connecticut farmhouse ignited my interest in the colonial era. Behind the walls of our house, surprises and secrets waited to be exposed, and this became the spark for my novel, Acquiescence. While researching my novel, I became obsessed (in a good way) with colonial women. I wanted to find out what life was really like for them – the stuff we’ve always been curious about. How did they deal with menstruation at a time when women didn’t wear underwear? How about sex and birth control, childbirth, sickness and medicine? I put together an entertainingly- informative presentation called Colonial Goodwife: The Not-So-Good Life of the Colonial Goodwife (www.colonialgoodwife.com) to help promote my novel, as well as to let today’s women see that although we have a long way to go, it’s amazing how far we’ve come.

3 words that describe your writing style

Breezy, honest, unpretentious

What’s next for you?

I have a hands-on science children’s fiction series under contract. As a hands-on science teacher, (www.howcoolisthat.name) I know that the new importance placed on standardized testing doesn’t leave enough time in a school day for hands-on activities. Standardized tests don’t encourage a love of learning. A kid is more than a test score. I offer inquiry-based, hands-on/minds-on science activities like Dissecting Owl Pellets, Making Chicken Mummies, Grossology, Shampoo Analysis Lab and Gotta Brain/ Getta Helmet!. Not every child can participate in one of my classes, but soon they will be able to take part through my book/science kits with the summer 2015 launch of One Lucky Mealworm! and Whooo Eats What?

I’m also cooking up a follow-up to Pamina’s story titled Woman on the Rock.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your work-in-progress?

Working title: The Woman on the Rock

For forty years, Chuck Ehrismann stared at a black and white photo of an unknown stunning woman – the only clue was ‘1949 Keansberg, New Jersey’ penciled on the back, but Chuck suspected she was family and held the key to his own identity.

Where can we learn more about you and your book?

Acquiescence is available from Second Wind Publishing: http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/#!product/prd15/3391685311/acquiescence

Links

Website: www.acquiescencethebook.com
Website: www.colonialgoodwife.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vjanczurban
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Acquiescence-and-Colonial-Goodwife/1554841878108700?ref=hl
Twitter: https://twitter.com/cgoodwife
Blog: https://colonialgoodwife.wordpress.com/

Author Bio

Velya Jancz-UrbanVelya Jancz-Urban, and her Acquiescence protagonist Pamina Campbell, have a lot in common. Both are teachers and hoodwinked Brazilian dairy farm owners, and both share a 1770 Connecticut farmhouse with a spirit woman. Velya has been married for 32 years, and is the mother of two grown children. She has a few too many rescue dogs and cats, is happiest with a fresh stack of library books, loves thrift shops, and is passionate about alternative medicine. Velya is the creator/owner of How Cool Is That?!” (Hands-On Science) (www.howcoolisthat.name), as well as the East Coast Facilitator for Earth Adventure’s Earth Balloon. She teaches throughout NY/NJ/CT/MA. Her entertainingly informative presentation, The Not-So-Good Life of the Colonial Goodwife is a result of the research completed for this novel.

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Interview with Susan Williamson, Author of “Turkmen Captives”

What is your book about?

My book, Turkmen Captives, is about a 30 year old Afghanistan War widow who is trying to make sense of her life when her home explodes and a mysterious letter causes her to question her husband’s death. I knew when I started the story that I wanted to deal with a widow from that war and that I wanted at least part of the story set in a country adjoining Afghanistan. As a horse person, I was drawn to Turkmenistan and its Akhel-Teke horses.
I also decided early on that the bad guys would be involved in human trafficking. The rest of the story happened as I wrote.

Why will readers relate to your characters?

I think readers my readers will be drawn by the action and the settings.Then I hope they will fall in love with the main characters.

What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

My greatest challenge in writing the book came when in the middle of the process, I fell off my own horse and shattered my leg. One would think this would be a great opportunity for writing time, but it didn;t work out that way. Between pain and pain pills, exercise and the effort it took just to get through the day, I was not able to write. I did however read, usually at least one book a day. I will read almost anything if I have time on my hands, but for recreation I prefer mysteries and thrillers because I find so much other fiction to be without a plot.

How has your background influenced your writing?

It is easiest to write what you know, so my background growing up with horses and on a farm shapes my approach to writing about them. My faith, my sense of morality, my love of travel all play a part in my stories.

What is your writing process?

When I am writing I become totally involved, maybe immersed is an even better word. When I can put myself in the setting, then I find out what my characters would do and say. Although I have neve been to Turkmenistan, I researched it via the internet. The more I read, the more fascinated I was. Ruins from the “Silk Roard” abound. Turkmenistan was the farthest south of any of the Soviet Socialist Republics. The Russians built schools and other facilities. The native language is Turkmen and that is also the people group name of most of the population.

When did you discover writing?

I have written non-fiction for most of my life. I was a newspaper reporter then an editor. I find that writing comes easy to me, but writing fiction with logical plot direction is harder.

Do you have a favorite snack food or favorite beverage that you enjoy while you write?

When I am settling in for a long session of writing I usually like to have a Diet Coke or a cup of tea beside me. And as to what I am wearing, it is often my pajamas and a cozy, ratty old chenile robe.

Where can we learn more about your books?

From my publisher, Second Wind Publishing: http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/#!susan-williamson/c1pj6
My website is http://www.susanwilliamsonauthor.com and my blog is Creek Side Musings.

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Interview with LeeAnn Elwood McLennan, author of “Dormant”

Dormant CoverWhat is your book about?

Dormant is about Olivia Woodson who is seven when she sees her supernormal mother murdered by Mountain of Ash, a super villain terrorist organization. Olivia decides then and there the secretive and dangerous life of a supernormal is not for her. For the next seven years she lives life a normal kid with her normal dad – until she is forced to awaken her dormant powers to save hostages in a bank robbery. Now Olivia’s powers won’t go back into the genie’s bottle. Olivia must do what she dreads most – ask her mother’s family, the Brighthalls, for help controlling her powers

How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?

So many! Some have been in my head for years, just sort of marinating; while others flit in and out as if trying on my brain for size. When I’m done writing the Dormant trilogy I’m going dig up an old trilogy I worked on a few years ago called Souls Lost, or I’ll expand on a zombie short story I wrote, or….who knows?

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

The idea for the Dormant trilogy came to me while watching The Dark Knight movies. So many superheroes start their journey from normal human to superhero when a parental figure is tragically killed and I wondered what might happen if the opposite were true. What if someone was born into a family with superhero-like powers and at a young age witnessed the death of a parent, would that event drive them to seek out a life without powers? Once I got the idea I started writing the story almost immediately.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

I start out with a rough idea of where the story begins, some key plot points and how I want it to end. A lot of the meat comes as I write. Sometimes I’m completely surprised by a character or an event. It’s fun that way!

What are you working on right now?

I’m writing the second book in the Dormant trilogy. It’s called Root and will take readers further into the world of supernormals as well as reveal more of Mountain of Ash’s evil plan.

Who designed your cover?

A wonderful designer, Stacey, at Second Wind publishing. Isn’t it gorgeous?

If your book was made into a TV series or Movie, what actors would you like to see playing your characters?

I see Kate Winslet as Aunt Kate – a brave, clever woman. Mark Ruffalo as Uncle Alex. And as Olivia – Chloë Grace Moretz!

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

I find myself using Google maps to research locations as well remind myself of what a location look like. It’s very helpful when writing an action scene set in a specific spot. For Dormant, since the main character is a fourteen year old girl living in Portland, OR, I interviewed a friend’s fourteen year old daughter to find out what life is like as a teenager now.

What about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Readers have enjoyed the idea of supernormals living among us. You could turn a corner and see someone flying or walking through walls at any time.

Do your characters ever take on a life of their own?

Absolutely – I’m writing a character named Six in Root who was supposed to be a minor character. She’s turned out to be much more interesting to write then I expected and I’m having a lot of fun with her character arc.

Do you keep a pen and notepad on your bedside table?

Of course, and in my workout room, my car, at work…

Where caLeeAnn Elwood McLennan 05 Color (2)n we learn more about you and your book?

It’s available from Second Wind Publishing: http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/#!leeann-elwood-mclennan/c1jyr and Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords,
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lemwrites
Twitter: https://twitter.com/atticusmcl

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Interview With Marietta Rodgers, Author of “The Bill”

The BillWhat is your book about?

My book, The Bill, by Marietta Rodgers is a political satire that revolves around two central characters, who each go on a humanistic metamorphosis through experience, empathy and understanding. You have one character, Representative Joe Herkiezen, who at the beginning of the novel has written a bill, called the Hunger Relief Act. Throughout the novel, you see what he is willing to do in order to get that bill passed. On the other end of the political spectrum, you have Hope Price, an optimistic and very intelligent teenager, who wants to go into politics, but feels he lacks understanding of the poor, since he is from a privileged family. In order to gain enlightenment, he works at a Slaughterhouse for the summer and is exposed to everything from prostitution to murder. The Bill is a behind the curtain look at politics using dark humor, satire and truisms.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I was inspired to write The Bill, because of my growing dismay with our political system, much like George Orwell’s dismay over Stalinism in writing Animal Farm. I got the seed for the story, after reading that the percentage of bills proposed that actually get signed into law, are at the lowest they’ve ever been. Our current Congress is one of the least productive in history. It is an alarming trend that I don’t think is going away anytime soon, because the bills are no longer about what is being said; they are about which party is saying them.

Who is your most unusual character?

The most unusual character in The Bill, is Piggy, the slaughterhouse foreman. He says the most ambiguous things and speaks using mantras, that sound a lot like campaign slogans.

How do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

I have to know how it’s going to end before I start. So, before even writing The Bill and knowing all the specifics about what direction I wanted the story to take, I had a definite ending in mind. For me, knowing the ending ahead of time is crucial, because I can gear a story to that outcome, as oppose to just writing a story and hoping a fabulous ending pops in my head as the story progresses.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

I hope my novel will make the reader more aware of their political environment, both locally and nationally. People should be aware of what their elected officials are about and hold them accountable for their actions. I hope that people also believe, that there is always hope for change, even if politics seem to sink lower in the quagmire; it just takes a catalyst.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on a collection of short stories, that all revolve around people who live in a particular upscale building in New York. I got the idea from an article I read in the NY Times, about shell corporations purchasing condos and concealing the real owners through paperwork, lawyers and enigmatic and ambiguous names.

What was the first story you remember writing?

The first story I remember writing, was a story I wrote in the first grade. It was about how I ran away from home and joined the circus for a night. I got to have a magical night of lion taming, doing a high wire act and being shot out of cannon. I did it all in a night and was back in my own room, without my parents ever knowing about my grand adventure. I was inspired by my reading of Harold and The Purple Crayon.

What writer influenced you the most?

One writer that influenced me the most would have to be George Orwell. I read Animal Farm and 1984 in high school and it had a profound effect on me. I would also have to say Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut and Samuel Beckett. I love satire and absurdism.

What one word describes how you feel when you write?

Empowered.

Have you written any other books?

My second novel, Loony Bin Incorporated, is a satire of big business and should be out the latter part of 2015.

Where can we learn more about The Bill?

The Bill is available in print and for Kindle at http://www.secondwindpublishing.com and http://www.amazon.com

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Interview with Jessica Rising, author of “Dr. Fixit’s Malicious Machine”

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

I’m not that patient. When I get an idea I usually begin planning and writing right away. For Dr. Fixit, I was falling asleep one night when this question popped into my head: what would a post-apocalyptic landscape be like as a sort of Oz-esque world for kids? After that, my brain wouldn’t let me sleep until I had figured out the main characters and the basic plot. Then I began writing it the next day.

That’s usually how it works with me.. My brain never turns off.

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

That’s a loaded question! Like most writers, I don’t think I ever really feel my work is complete. There’s always something to edit or revise or otherwise fix. That’s why I don’t read my own books once they’re published (with the exception of short public readings of course). I’ll always find frustrating cadence mistakes, continuity errors, and other miniscule issues that nobody but me will ever notice. When it comes to the storyline itself, I know it’s finished when the climax scene makes me cry.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

First and foremost, I want the kids who read my books to feel the excitement and wonder of adventure like I did when I was little, reading A Wrinkle in Time and Alice in Wonderland. That said, I do write with a message in mind. Literature has always been the epitome of the human microscope, and for me children’s literature is the strongest lens. “Guts and Glory” is all about the importance of family. If my young readers finish the story and run to hug their loved ones right away, I’ve done my job.

Does writing come easy for you?

When I’m focused on writing for the market, or for a made-up audience who doesn’t think like me (it happens more often than I’d like to admit), or for anyone or anything outside of the world where I’m supposed to be, it’s hard. If I stay inside the world of my story it comes naturally, as if I’m living the adventure myself.

What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

Lack of time and energy. As a mother of five with full-time a day job, time and energy are extremely valuable commodities for me. I used to think I was naturally a night person, but I’ve come to realize that I just became one over time so I could get a few hours of peace time to write.

As for the writing itself, the most difficult part for me is simply letting go. I connect so deeply with my characters, my story and my world that if I really give myself up to writing, hours and hours and hours will go by where I’ll miss everything else in my life: lunch, my kids coming home from school, helping with homework, kissing my husband when he comes home from college, dinner, tucking my children in, even sleep. I’ll “wake up” having to use the bathroom really bad, shaky-starving, and exhausted like I just ran a marathon I can’t remember. That can be bewildering to the point of scary at times, so I fight it far more than I should.

Oh, and the end. Endings are always hard because I don’t want anything to end. Ever.

Do you think writing this book changed your life? How so?

I honestly can’t remember a moment of my life when I wasn’t a writer. That said, Dr. Fixit’s Malicious Machine was very much a life-changing book for me. It was the first story I ever wrote where I truly felt satisfied with the storyline, even proud. It’s also the first story that got me out there into the public eye. It’s the first book I’ve had published by an outside publisher, and over the past few years I’ve been on the radio, podcasts, in newspapers, magazines, cons and live readings, promoting it and answering questions from readers who know and care about my characters, my world and my story. It’s been absolutely amazing, and while I still have to work a day job, the “Guts and Glory” books have pulled me closer to my dream career than anything I’ve ever written before.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

I was raised mostly in Spokane, AKA the white-bread capital of Washington state. Before that I lived in small-town Idaho. This means I never had much of a chance to see diversity or experience different cultures than my own Beaver Cleaver upbringing. Not that my life was perfect as a kid. Without going too far into personal details, let’s just say that escapism became a distinct necessity of my everyday life from a young age. These things worked together to create in me a writer who melds typically Western mythology and legend such as faeries, King Arthur and American ghost stories with the stark reality of child abuse and neglect. My characters are always damaged — sometimes metaphorically, sometimes overtly — but always looking for a way to mend their cracked selves by becoming larger than life and defeating their own demons in the form of whatever literal evil they face, thus proving to everyone — themselves first and foremost — that they’re worthy of love and acceptance.

Do you have any rituals that you follow before sitting down to write?

My ADD brain has to have background noise. What that is changes every few months, from music, to a fan, to a documentary on NetFlix, depending on my mood and the season. I also need to have something to drink at all times. Yes, sometimes it’s alcoholic, but usually it’s hot tea or some kind of beverage I haven’t tried before. I’ve gone through so many different kinds of juices, pops, coffees and teas that I don’t know if there’s anything drinkable I haven’t tried at this point. At least, nothing they sell here. Sometimes I also burn incense if I need to focus particularly well. I have a beautiful roll-top desk which I use for promo pics and such… but not usually for writing. The last time I wrote at my actual desk was during my master’s thesis. Usually it’s with my laptop on the couch, my feet up under a blanket.

And now you know my dirty little secret.

What are you working on right now?

I’m completing the final book in “Guts and Glory”, Rise of the Nefarious Numbots. I’m also excited about a new manuscript titled Blight, which is a Young Adult religious dystopia — my first YA ever. I just got another idea last night for a new Middle Grade fantasy that’s so new I’m going to keep it mysterious for now…

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your work-in-progress?

Sixteen-year-old Squire Carroll will bring light to the Under, whether her god wants it or not.

At what age did you discover writing?

I was about five years old when I realized writing was for me. I remember walking into the kitchen after I finished reading a particularly great story. I asked my mom, who was washing dishes, what someone who wrote books was called. She said, “an author”. From that point on I was an author. Besides wanting to be a mother (which goes hand-in-hand with writing for kids), nothing else ever mattered to me again.

What do you like to read? What is your favorite genre?

I like to read good stories. I know, “good” is highly subjective but for me it means a story I can sink my teeth into, one where I can lose myself, one that makes me feel, think, and remind me that I’m part of the amazing, adaptable, fascinating human race. From Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time to Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series; from “A Rose for Emily” by Nathaniel Hawthorne to “What is Man?” by Mark Twain; from C.S. Lewis’ “Narnia Chronicles” to Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” epic; from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland to Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables; I love every story that touches my soul and sings my spirit. Currently I’m reading James Joyce and Piers Anthony, both for fun. That’s just how I roll.

What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?

Oh man. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Hands down. Her ideas are so perfect, and so close to the kind of story I strive to write, that I’ll be honest — I am highly jealous of her story. There are sections of the “Harry Potter” books that I wish I’d thought of — especially Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans and the very idea of a wizarding school — but Collins’ whole world makes me bite my thumb at her out of jealousy.

Have you written any other books?

I’ve written a lot of books. Most of them aren’t worth reading. That’s how you learn how to write.

Describe your writing in three words.

Strange journey home.

Where can people learn more about your books?

At my blog: www.jessica-rising.com and my author page on the Second Wind Publishing site, http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/#!jessica-rising/c1z33

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