Interview with Kristi Saare Duarte

An Interview with Kristi Saare Duarte, author of Transmigrant

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

I wrote my first novel when I was fifteen years old. The year was 1983, and I hammered it out on a manual typewriter. When my parents realized I was serious about it, they brought home an oh! so luxurious electrical typewriter. The novel was called “Low,” and each chapter was based on one track of David Bowie’s album of the same name. The main character was a young boy who ran away from his foster home in Sweden and traveled to the Isle of Wight in England. The only one who ever read the manuscript was my dad. I never edited it, never tried to publish it. But I still those typed up pages and, who knows, perhaps one day I will look at it again and force in some kind of a plot structure? Then again, it might be absolutely useless. I also have another novel somewhere in my drawers, but that one has been laid to rest forever.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

The Transmigrant took six years from start to finish. I assume my next novel will take less time. But I’m a perfectionist with a full time job, so I doubt that one book a year will ever be my style. But kudos to those who can do it!

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I like to write on trains. There’s just something about the humming motion that inspires me. But, honestly, I could write anywhere, as long as I have a laptop. Or a napkin. Or the back of a receipt. When the inspiration attacks, I have to write it down.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

With The Transmigrant, a handful of friends and one stranger volunteered as beta-readers. They were all either writers, or had specific knowledge about the religions I cover in my novel. I’m not religious myself, which is kind of strange, because I spent so many years writing about Jesus, so their feedback was critical to get the details right. I found my first editor by searching online, and the subsequent editors through the Editorial Freelancers Association. I always ask for a sample and a quote, and have been lucky to find excellent editors.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

Yes, I definitely love bookshops. There’s a Barnes & Noble a few blocks from my office, and when I am stressed out, I go there to look at books and recharge. Most of the books I read are hard copy, but ebooks are very convenient for travel or late night reading. I often read 2-3 books at the same time. One by my bedside, one on the way to work, and sometimes also a non-fiction book when I need to study something, like book marketing or religions.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from?
1. childhood?  My favorite author was Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read all the Little House on the Prairie books and even made paper dolls of the sisters and acted out my own scenes.
2. adolescence? Anything romance. Kissing and touching was very exciting. I also read lots of books by Indian, Chinese, and African authors, for some reason.
3. young adult? I went through a phase where I only read memoirs and biographies and didn’t like anything made up. I loved Audrey Hepburn’s and Lord Byron’s biographies.
4. adult? I read any genre except fantasy and romance. Some of my favorite authors include Haruki Murakami, Andre Dubus III, Khaled Hosseini, Rohinton Mistry, John Steinbeck. I’m still attracted to foreign authors.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What do you do? Have you chosen someone to manage your profile?

No, I do everything myself, which I probably don’t do as well as I should. I’m trying to learn to be more efficient and post more regularly. I spend perhaps an hour a day on social media, mostly on Facebook and Twitter. I like Pinterest, too. Instagram is still difficult for me as I keep forgetting about it. I don’t really enjoy scrolling down other people’s posts, so it never crosses my mind that I should take a photo and post it. Do I like social media? I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it, either.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

You get better, more honest and natural, with every interview. I think it would do me a great disservice to recycle the responses. But I might recycle ideas.

 

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Interview with Gregory Grayson

An Interview with Gregory Grayson, author of Fireflight

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

Neither, actually. That beast – which has existed in one form or another for the past twenty years – currently sits, ugly and unusable, in a dark corner of my files. I do have plans to try and resurrect it at some point, though I know the effort will involve scrapping 90% of what’s there and starting over. So, I’m going to procrastinate on that one for a good long while.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

I am all about the percolating, whether it be my coffee, or my stories. All my ideas start rather small, just a single character, place, or event, nothing that would take up more than a couple sentences in my notebook. It sits there, waiting for me to be ready to hear what it has to say.

I wish I could easily pump out a novel a year (as I’m sure many of us do), but I need to exist in the space of my idea for a while, get a feel for everything going on. Then I can try and express it most effectively.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

Well, as far as medium goes, I’m primarily a Scrivener user, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop. I’m not as much locked to one specific tool or environment, though. If I’m feeling the inspiration, or the opportunity for a good bit of writing comes up, and I’ve got nothing more than a crayon and napkin, I’ll make it work.

As for place, when I write, I’m in my head. I’m seeing what I’m thinking about; the desk space where I happen to be sitting doesn’t really register. I used to do a lot of writing on the bus, so I’ve gotten pretty good at tuning out the world. If distractions are a problem, headphones and an appropriate musical track do wonders.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I am extremely lucky to have an observant, astute, and upfront reader very close to me. Using family can be a tricky business; there’s often way much more emotion tied to the process than should be. Try picking a family member you have good arguments with.

I’ve used fellow writers in various groups I’ve belonged to over the years, and I can’t stress the importance of that, as well. You need to get to know the person helping you out before you can know if they’ll be truly helpful in your process. You need someone like you, but different.

It needs to be someone you can trust, someone who thinks as you do, at least on a level or two. Someone who can read your words and grasp what you were trying to express, or maybe even see things from a different perspective and interpretation. This is always a good thing; any element in your writing that sparks a conversation has hit the mark.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

The term “dusty old tome” is, to me, a beautiful one. The idea of an old book, wooden or leather-bound, with thick but brittle, yellowed pages, covered in intricate black calligraphy, likely scrawled by the gnarled hand of a wise old wizard, is intoxicating. I don’t have a favorite bookstore, though I am drawn more to the indie shops than a more traditional retail outlet.

That being said, I am an admitted eBook reader out of necessity. I’m usually flipping between at least a couple books for my current read, and of course I have to have the entire Wheel of Time series available 24×7 (you never know when you’ll need to dive back in there, am I right WOTers?). It gets nigh-impossible to cart all that around with you in print form, even paperback.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind?

Anyone who’s checked out my background knows I am a die-hard Robert Jordan fan. I started the series a year or two after Eye of the World came out, when I was around 15 or 16, and I haven’t looked back since. I love reading any kind of speculative fiction, the more unique perspective or imagination, the better. Both fantasy and sci fi are par for the course, but I’ll read any great story, no matter the medium. Gone Girl was a fantastic novel, for example.

Other authors I read rather heavily are Gaiman, King, Rice, Barker, Rowling, Collins, Butcher, and Salvatore.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What have you chosen to do?

I’m pretty much a one-man show, so all the social media content is a product of my brain. I don’t think anyone else is better equipped to represent me, so I take all the responsibility (and the blame).

I’m primarily on Facebook in terms of platform, though I do have my own site as well, and I do all my blog posts there. What I like about Facebook is, for good or ill, it gives you great immediate feedback. The tools and analytics available when you run a page are very good at scratching the itch of needing to know how you’re doing, what your exposure and reach are. We live in an age where authors and readers have an always-on, direct pipeline to each other, and it’s a wonderful thing.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

It’s a real challenge to come up with unique answers every time, and of course the temptation is always there to copy and paste. I do my best to express myself genuinely and as “in-the moment” as I can, channeling my current mental state into my words, and giving as much diverse info as I can.

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Interview with Frank Daidone

An Interview with Frank Daidone, author of Life’s Equation

 

 

For those who haven’t read it yet, can you give us a quick summary of what Life’s Equation is all about?

It’s really about asking ourselves ‘What is my purpose?” More specifically, questioning whether or not we’re on the right path. As far back as I can remember, I’ve attempted to make sense of my own purpose in life, sometimes accepting only what seemed realistic while disregarding pretty much anything else. Most of us subconsciously go through this same exercise throughout multiple stages of our lives, while others constantly surrender to the critical voice in their head, replacing the possibility and creativity with resistance and doubt.

We all have the tendency to set unfulfilling goals for ourselves, which restricts our personal potential and makes us miss valuable opportunities because of our own struggle with self-doubt.

That’s how Life’s Equation came together. I wanted to share my own stories about people I’ve met along the way who influenced me in inspiring ways while also elaborating further on some basic, but unexpected truths and life lessons that I hope, in turn, will inspire readers of the book. I hope readers will celebrate their experiences through logically discovering their true purpose, all while helping to make the world a better place in the process.

You are accomplished in so many parts of your life. What inspired you to take the plunge into authoring a book?

I’ve always had a unique, and I believe, acute perspective on reality. I also almost always apply logic to projects, challenges and truly any issue I’m dealt with, working to eliminate and/or reduce any emotional barriers that can cloud judgment and clarity. Throughout my life, I’ve had the ability to see my life and experiences both internally and externally.
In other words, while I’m experiencing situations in the moment whether mundane or extraordinary, I’m collecting the information, almost as an observer, to be able to apply it in a scientific manner to gain a clearer perspective and understanding. I began putting a pen to paper to create a formula that made sense of one’s experiences and how information gained from those experiences is constituted through exploring a common energy in all living things twenty years ago. The reflection of my life’s experiences through this process is what inspired me to be a writer.

Memoirs are such a delicate craft – it’s really a balance between personal and the
universal. Was it difficult to balance the two?

Not really, when you have the connection of the personal to the universal, clarity and balance of the two become more accessible. The process itself was transformational and certainly there were certain roadblocks as it was almost like working in real time. Different from most people, I don’t have a problem putting myself out there, in fact I needed to check in to make sure it wasn’t too much and wanted to keep my stories relevant and with empathy for the readers.

What do you consider to be the most essential elements of a well-written memoir?

I strongly believe that when one chooses to write such a personal exposé, it’s essential to go “all in.” In other words, if you’re not going to put everything out there from the beginning to the end, even being remotely tentative, you might want to choose another route. It’s just my personal opinion, but I believe writing in a relatable manner including honest stories, both humorous and heartbreaking is essential to a good memoir.

Each chapter provides incredible insight and an overall lesson. Do you have a favorite from the book?

That’s a hard question because I believe the lessons in all of the chapters are pertinent to the message. However, if I were to answer the question honestly, I do have a few; Chapter four on perspective is one of the individually empowering concepts that the reader can actually have control over. I also like the final chapter on “purpose” because it incorporates imagination in order to help craft one’s future.

Your book has been impacting people across all ages and stages of their life. What’s the biggest lesson you hope they take away from reading Life’s Equation?

The feedback both verbally and through written reviews has been extraordinary. I’ve had people both young and old thank me in very emotional manners for writing the book and have expressed to me how much the message impacted them personally and often times helped with healing. I hope that the readers gain an understanding that while we are all unique in our own way, there really is a common energy in all of us. I hope that message is clarified and inspires them to want to help make the world a better place, not just for themselves, but for all.

A percentage your book sales goes toward United Cerebral Palsy. Can you tell us a bit more about how and why you got involved with the organization?

As children, alongside my family, my sister and I were both volunteers for UCP as a result of my brother having Cerebral Palsy. In dedicating my book to my brother, I felt it necessary to get involved with a related organization to help in any way I could and formed a relationship with the Director of Institutional Support and donate $1 of every book sale to UCP.

That’s truly incredible! Can you tell us a bit about your brother Anthony, and how his CP impacted your family dynamic growing up? How did it affect you?

Anthony was and still is my true hero and my inspiration for practically every charge in my life. While we never exchanged words verbally to each other we had a very special connection. His joy of life despite his extraordinary inhibiting circumstances far surpassed any level of contentment I have ever witnessed in any human being. While our family growing up was restricted to doing practically any normal family activities, outings or vacations together, Anthony’s existence enriched the dynamic in our family and shaped who we all are today.

What’s on the horizon for you as an author? Can we expect to see more writing from you in 2017 and beyond?

I am currently working on book number two as we speak. It is a continuation of Life’s Equation by taking the ideas and concepts to a new level attempting to address issues we all face as a society. I have a vision of a brighter more peaceful existence for all living things and I see a clear path on how we can get there. My next book will be a roadmap for peace.

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Review: Sara Barnard – A Quiet Kind of Thunder

A Quiet Kind of Thunder
Sara Barnard

Steffi doesn’t talk and Rhys can’t hear. Thrown together because Steffi has a passing grasp of sign language, their friendship is something that might widen Steffi’s world – or perhaps make her life harder…

Ah, the depiction of first love is fantastic here. They are both equally awkward, and yet Barnard doesn’t make it contrite and irritating. Instead she seems to let it grow organically out of friendship. There is a matter of fact discussion and depiction of sex, and its not overly squeamish, yet still gets to the heart of the matter.

I knew I needed to read this novel, and then I found myself reading it in one setting because I enjoyed it so much. Something about the pacing, the characters, the individuality of telling a novel through including seamlessly incorporated texts, handsigns and emails – brilliant.

Social anxiety is something that is getting better coverage in all areas of fiction. This is not the first novel I have read that includes a protagonist who is a selective mutist. So Much To Tell You might be the first teenage novel that approached the topic, while The Things I Didn’t Say  is a more YA novel that approaches the question of love as well.

I’ve going to give this lovely novel 4 stars. I liked Beautiful Broken Things, and I’m really looking forward to more from this author.

As is understandable, Sara Barnard is a busy lady! I’ve got two interview questions that she was kind enough to answer for me though 🙂

Sex is something you’ve explored quite frankly in A Quiet Kind of Thunder? Why is that?

I try to approach everything I write about honestly, and I don’t think sex should be any different. I’m not interested in sugarcoating or romanticizing anything. With sex, I think young people are given enough of that as it is, and that’s confusing enough already. It’s not all soft sheets, pastel colours and fireworks! And I think teens deserve to see that reflected in their fiction.

Could you give us a hint into anything about your next novel?

It’s all under wraps at the moment, but I will tell you that friendship plays a major role again.

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Interview with Susan DeFreitas

susandefreitaspressphotoAn Interview with Susan DeFreitas, author of Hot Season

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

Great question! Like many writers I know, I have more than one of these manuscripts. The book I worked on for most of my twenties was abandoned, mid-draft, when I realized that I just didn’t have the skills to finish the sort of complex story I’d chosen–in other words, I realized that I’d bitten off more than I could chew. At that point, I decided to go back to school for my master’s degree in writing, which is where I wrote the stories that would become Hot Season. That original novel of mine has indeed been relegated to an obscure folder on my hard drive, but I hope to return to it someday.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?hot-season-cover_72dpi

There are writers who struggle for ideas, and there are writers who struggle to keep up with their ideas; I’m one of the latter. That said, it does take a whole lot of refinement, feedback, and fine tuning to really produce a book of lasting quality, so I suppose my aim, at this point, is to refine the work I’ve already produced while also drafting new work in small increments. I’d love to pump out a novel a year, but it may wind up being more like one every two years. =)

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I can write most anywhere, but I am particular about my mediums–I prefer to draft new work by hand and to revise it on a screen. As far as drafting goes, I’m a big believer in doing it away from the computer and all the deliciously devious distractions it provides.

I also like to make use of notebook margins to include alternate pathways in logic and association–phrases, sentences, and even whole paragraphs I may wind up using later and may not. You can’t do that in Word, and I think word processing in general is best for refining and perfecting rather than generating new work.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I’m lucky enough to have a stellar weekly critique group, and we all run our books through the group before submitting them for consideration by agents and editors. As for hiring an editor, my book is traditionally published, but I did work with an editor from my own firm, Indigo Editing & Publications here in Portland, Oregon. Even editors need editors!

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

Yes! Powell’s City of Books in downtown Portland is a bit of a literary mecca, and with good reason; the store takes up an entire city block and caters to every interest under the sun. I love spending time there, and I’m always amazed at the quality of their staff picks. But I will admit, I see the charm of e-books as well; I recently downloaded something like 20 books published by Small Beer Press–a fantastic small press publisher of speculative fiction–through Humble Book Bundle for a ridiculously cheap price, and now I can rest assured that I always have a great book available when I go on vacation and don’t want to lug around a bunch of books.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind?

I love both literary fiction and speculative fiction, and many of my favorite books straddle the line between these genres.

childhood?
I was OBSESSED with a tricksy mystery novel called The Westing Game when I was a kid. Must have read it 10 times!

adolescence?
The Invisible Man really knocked my socks off, as did Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.

young adult?
I cannot deny the influence that both Ed Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang and John Nichol’s The Magic Journey had on me–living in the American Southwest, these books just spoke to my experiences in such a powerful way.

adult?
I’m a huge fan of Ursula K. Le Guin. Absolutely everything she writes is amazing.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What are your feelings?

I actually enjoy participating in social media, Facebook especially, as it’s been a great way to keep in touch with people from many different points in my life, and to network with local writers as well–I also use Twitter and Instagram, in a somewhat more haphazard fashion. I’ve found the former good for keeping track of publishing industry news and that latter a nice outlet for my closet visual artist. But I agree that social media sucks up a whole lot of time–especially around the time you have a book coming out! I’m looking forward to getting back to writing and editing soon.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

Never! Interviews are fun, and I love meeting new people and talking about books, delicious books. =)

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Interview with Aniesha Brahma

Interview with Aniesha Brahma, author of All Signs Lead Back to You 

I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?

Hi, Rosemarie! J Thank you for interviewing me. When Our Worlds Collide is my personal favourite novel, because in many ways it set the ball rolling for me to finally be recognized as a young author!

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

The first novel that I ever wrote was about a girl called Sara Basu and her stepbrother called Iemon Mukherjee. I actually got it printed from a print-on-demand shop just to see what the book might look like. I think the story exists on a site I used to write on. I don’t do anything with it. I haven’t decided if I want to go back to it – ever.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

My mind is always bubbling over with new ideas. And in order to stay relevant authors do need to pump out a novel very year. I’m forever looking for that little spark that would set into motion a story that my readers would be able to relate to. The spark comes to me whenever it wants, without warning. It’s honestly a little annoying at times.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I wrote an entire children’s book on my phone during my metro journeys to and from work! I don’t think it’s the place half as much as it is the state of mind one requires to be in while writing. I am most comfortable writing on my laptop. I don’t think I’ve written anything by hand since I was gifted my laptop during my second year in college.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I have loving friends who are more than happy to suffer through my first drafts and give me very honest feedback. As for choosing an editor, I’ve just been very, very lucky that the editors and I have gotten along very well. So the nasty fights never happened between us.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I work in a publishing house as a social media manager and hence I’m surrounded by paperbacks and hardbound books all day long. I am the happiest when I’m around books. While I don’t have a favourite bookshop, I am more comfortable ordering books online. While I am not an e-reader fan, I understand that it’s okay to like reading e-books. I cannot possibly afford the paperbacks of all the books I’ve been reading…for me, the story has been more important.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:
1. childhood?  Grimm brother’s Fairy Tales.
2. adolescence? I used to read a lot of Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl and Ruskin Bond during this phase of my life.
3. young adult? I started reading classics like Pride and Prejudice and Gone with the Wind and Rebecca during the time I was a young adult.
4. adult? And I started reading Young Adult fiction when I was an adult. Because YA is NOT a category, it’s a point of view!

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. How do you manage its demands?

I manage my own platform. And I am most comfortable running my Facebook author page and my Instagram page. I am on twitter as well, but I don’t use it as much. I spend chunks of ten minutes a day to make the creatives which I would be sharing from my social media. J On a daily basis, at least fifteen minutes a day get spent in promoting my work. I just find it easier to reach a wider audience this way to be honest.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

Sometimes. But I never recycle them. I take the time out and reply to each and every interview personally.

All Signs Lead Back to You 
2013.

As the final bell for the day rang on their last day in school, Diya Rai, had a chill run down her spine. The chill of not knowing what the future holds for her and her high school sweetheart, Ashwin Chowdhury.
So she does a preemptive strike.
She dumps him before he can hurt her.

2015.

Two years later, Ashwin and Diya, cross paths. Each holds grudges, feelings and only one half of the story that completes them.
Told from alternating points of view, through a non-linear timeline, this is the story about first love, second chances and ALL the SIGNS THAT LEAD BACK TO YOU.

Meet the Characters

Diya Rai – is the protagonist of the story whose actions have always had terrible consequences for those around her. Diya is self-absorbed and never chooses anyone else over her own self. Diya’s troubled past keeps her from letting people into her life. Even though she’s hurt Ashwin she wants him back in her life years later.

Ashwin Chowdhury – is her best friend in school and later on, boyfriend. He is left heartbroken by Diya but when their paths cross later on, he realises he doesn’t want anything to do with her. He lives with his mother and elder brother and hails from a upper middle-class family background.

Nina Gonzales – is Diya’s best friend in college. She and Diya had met during their admissions and had become fast friends with one another. Nina and Ashwin end up competing with one another to see who is really Diya’s best friend!

Rishabh – is the quintessential hot, rich guy that Diya dates in college. He seems to be in love with her, but Diya doesn’t seem to return the same affection towards him. Nina hates his guts.

Trina – is the girl Ashwin is interested in. She goes to the same college as Diya and Nina, and while Diya dislikes her mostly because Ashwin seems to be interested in her, Nina is indifferent to her.

Aniesha Brahma is an author who realized her passion for writing at the tender age of six. She also happens to be the social media manager for BEE Books. Her debut novel, The Secret Proposal (2012) was published by General Press and was followed by When Our Worlds Collide (2015) by the same. She blogs at: www.anieshabrahma.com and runs an online magazine, BUZZ Magazine. She can be contacted at: aniesha.brahma@gmail.com. She lives in Kolkata with her family and her five super adorable cats!

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Spotlight: Q&A with Robert Wideman

VIETNAM VETERAN SHARES FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE OF SIX YEARS AS PRISONER OF WAR

unexpected-prisonerFormer Lieutenant Robert Wideman praised by veterans for his memoir Unexpected Prisoner; a unique glimpse into the courage and endurance of POWs.

Fort Collins, CO — When Lieutenant Robert Wideman’s plane crashed on a bombing run in the Vietnam War, his worst fears became reality when he was captured in North Vietnam and held captive as a Prisoner of War for six long years. Unexpected Prisoner: Memoir of a Vietnam POW tells his harrowing story and explores Wideman’s struggle with enemies and comrades, Vietnamese interrogators and American commanders, his lost dreams and ultimately — himself.

His story of captivity is the most accurate version of the events that occurred in the North I have ever heard,”  says Captain William Roberts, a retired U.S. Marine. “It’s truly refreshing.”

A sentiment many veterans have shared upon completing Wideman’s memoir. “Especially those who were in the infantry,”  says Wideman.  “I think it supports what they went through and what they feel.”

Born in Montreal, Canada, Wideman grew up in East Aurora, New York.  His father flew over the Himalayan Mountains in Burma during World War II. One uncle served as a pilot for the Royal Canadian Air Force and flew for  Britain during WWII.  Another uncle was captured at the battle of Dieppe at the beginning of WWII and was held as a German prisoner until the end of the war.

It seemed natural that after attending the University of Toledo, Wideman joined the navy as a naval aviation cadet in 1963. Upon receiving his wings and commission in 1965, Wideman served on the USS Enterprise in 1966 and on the USS Hancock in 1967.  In 1967, Wideman’s plane went down over North Vietnam where the story of Unexpected Prisoner begins.

For more news, events and to explore Robert Wideman’s story further, please visit RobertWideman.com

Q&A with Robert Wideman

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You have a very unique story – and one someone couldn’t really tell unless they experienced it first-hand. What inspired you to tell this story?

My two sons and six grandchildren – they’re the most important thing to me. I wanted to leave them something that had meaning. After four years of writing, I had my story down on paper about my time in a North Vietnamese prison camp, but nothing else. One of my daughters-in-law said I needed to put some of my life before and after prison into the book. A Colorado Publisher connected me  with author and editor Cara Lopez Lee in 2014, and she helped me piece things together. We published Unexpected Prisoner  two years later.

What do you think will surprise readers most about Unexpected Prisoner?

Even given my experience, I  think readers will be surprised at my attitude toward the North Vietnamese. I don’t really have bad feelings toward them, because the treatment could have been so much worse.  

How so?

When I came home from the war,  I read everything I could on POWs and the Vietnam War. I learned that since the beginning of time, POWs have been treated very, very badly.

For example – In World War II, the Japanese chopped off two American heads for every mile of the Bataan death march. Twenty-seven to forty percent of American prisoners held by the Japanese died in captivity. In our revolutionary war, 20,000 colonial prisoners died in the holds of British ships in Brooklyn and Boston harbors.  Five times as many colonists died on those ships as died on the battlefield. Of the 5 million Russian prisoners held by the Germans in World War II, 3 million died in captivity. The Russians captured 95,000 German troops at the battle of Stalingrad, and only 5,000 of those prisoners ever came home. Thirteen thousand union soldiers died at Andersonville within 14 months during our own civil war – that’s one soldier every 45 minutes!  Our tour guide at Andersonville took 45 minutes to do the tour.

Only 7 American prisoners died in Hanoi the whole time I was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. Only 28 prisoners died in North Vietnam. If you compare the treatment we received from the North Vietnamese with the treatment POWs received from their captors in other wars, ours  looks pretty good.

You enjoy sharing your experience with audiences through speaker presentations. What is your favorite part of that process?

I get a rush from telling my story – it can be addictive. The audiences are always good, and I enjoy the connection with them.

How has sharing your story benefited others (and have there been any unique stories prompted by audience members)?

Many veterans – especially those who were in the infantry – seem to relate to my story. I think my story supports what many veterans went through and what they feel.

It surprised me – but I’ve also seen that teenagers have benefited from my story, as they have their own challenges and can relate to the adversity in my memoir. So really – it can appeal to anyone going through a difficult time in their life.

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Interview with Mary Shotwell

screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-9-48-14-amAn Interview with Mary Shotwell, author of Weariland

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

My first novel lived in me for several years, and fortunately, I stuck with it to the finish line with Weariland as the result. I did, however, have an idea for a thriller. I outlined, mapped out my characters, and wrote the first couple of chapters. I stopped working on it when I realized how bored it made me. If I was bored, how bored will my readers be? I do have it saved, but am not convinced it needs completed. The story isn’t screaming to get out. Not even whispering at this point.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

I juggle with both. I am two-thirds through my second novel, based on a dream I had one night. It took me eleven days to write a detailed outline, and I mean detailed. The story was so clear in my head. Between the clarity and the impending arrival of my third child, I was able to write the first half in three weeks. The second half is taking longer due to said child’s arrival, but it is relatively fast, fun writing. On the other hand, I have a solid idea and rough outline for a YA historical fiction piece, but I know it will take time. It is a serious subject that requires intense research and planning. But it’s not just that—I feel it needs time to develop in my head to work out. It is sensitive subject matter that will be difficult to write and it will take time for me to feel I’ve succeeded in getting it right.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?weariland-small

I can outline and research just about anywhere, but when it comes to sitting down and writing, I’ve only written at my desk at home. My home switched 3 times in writing Weariland, along with the desk, but I need that private space away from the television and away from my day job. This summer I bought my dream desk and I am obsessed with it. Sometimes I write at unplanned times because I want to sit at my awesome desk. Every writer needs to experience such furniture power. I can attach a picture if desired. That is how much I love my desk.

I jot down my ideas, outlines, and research in notebooks, of which I have several in multiple rooms. Eventually I type them out on my computer to have them saved in case I lose a notebook. All of my manuscript writing is done on the computer. I need to see how long a sentence, paragraph, or chapter is typed out to help with pacing. I also type fast, and in doing so I can keep my mind flowing onto the next sentence. Writing on paper is too slow and I would stop too much to edit before getting everything out first.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I wrote Weariland in part for my nieces, so I knew from word one I wanted them to read the manuscript for feedback. Of course, my mother reads my work, but as many authors before me have pointed out, the feedback received is 99% praise and 1% constructive criticism (if that). I hired a content editor to catch inconsistencies and comment on the flow and plot before submitting the manuscript to publishers. I researched editing services online, and picked a service in which two or three editors compete for your manuscript. They show you a sample of their work on your first chapter or two, and you can decide from there. I’d rate the service a five out of ten. I did get some useful feedback but it was too much money for what I received in the end. Upon signing with Merge Publishing, I was assigned an editor, Deb Coman, and I couldn’t have asked for a more professional, concise, and diligent editor. I was ecstatic with her work.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I feel the same way! No offense to those who prefer digital, but I still like holding a book and turning the pages. I like to see how much of the story I have read versus how much is left. You don’t get that concrete measure with e-books. Sadly, my favorite bookshop no longer exists. It was called Little Professor in Boardman, Ohio. When you walked in the front doors, a cozy fireplace greeted you alongside cushy reading chairs. There is also a hole-in-the-wall used bookstore in downtown Chicago that I seek out every time I visit. It makes me happy to see independent bookstores succeeding.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:
1. childhood? Judy Bloom; The first chapter book I read was Ramona Quimby, Age 8
2. adolescence?  Michael Crichton (see below)
3. young adult? Anne Rice; I went through a phase of vampires and witches. I still say she wrote the real story of vampires.
4. adult? Ayn Rand, Ken Follett, Neal Stephenson; It’s as if I picked up the thickest books off the store shelves to prove I was an adult! I became interested in epic stories that tracked characters over long periods of time (perhaps a side effect of reading Anne Rice). These three writers fit the bill in different ways, and I enjoyed all three styles.

If I had to choose one genre to read for the rest of my life, it would be science fiction. I have a soft spot for the kind of science fiction that is abundant with research and facts, then takes a real concept to the next level. Michael Crichton did it well with many of his books. He had a profound impact on my adolescent years, which you can read about in my blog at maryshotwell.com.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. How do you manage it?

I manage my own profiles in Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The latter two I admittedly am horrible at and probably should have someone manage them. Facebook is my solid platform. I’ve had it for my personal use for many years, which made it easy in starting an author page. I do spend a good bit of time on Facebook, but it comes in waves. Events that I hold or help out with for other authors can take several hours over the course of a day or two.

I have no problem being candid about this topic because I do not think the average reader may realize the many hats authors have to wear. We are promoters, marketers, advertisers, and sales reps in addition to working on the actual product. Social media is merely one arm of that and can be overwhelming in and of itself. It is all too easy not to post regularly, and even more so for me on Twitter and Instagram. Is it okay if I post the same thing on all three, or come up with different material, and is it expected of me to post every few hours? Who wants to hear from me twenty times in one day? Currently, my opinion is to get good at one of them and branch out from there. I can’t be great at all three yet. I know my limitations.

I do want to say that the best part about Facebook for me is the interaction I can have with my fans and fellow authors. I’m not just throwing something out into the ethers. People respond and we have interaction. After participating in several events, I recognize fans from previous events. I get to know them over time and vice versa, and without Facebook I would be missing out on building those relationships.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

So far I haven’t! If I’m telling a story I’ve told several times over, I try to write it out anew instead of copying and pasting. I may discover a better way to tell it.

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Interview with Emily Murdoch

2An Interview with Emily Murdoch, author of Captives: Kingdoms Rule Hearts

I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?

To be honest, my favourite novel is usually the one that I’m currently writing! But if I had to choose one of my published novels, it would be Captives: Kingdoms Rule Hearts. So often historical novels focus on young people under thirty, and so I wanted to write about a heroine who was not only older, but a mother with a grown up daughter. That was really fun to write.

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external hard-drive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

My first novel was my first published novel! It took a good deal of work to get it to a publishable standard, but it’s made it into the world as Conquests: Hearts Rule Kingdoms (the first book in that series).

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

Some almost come out of my mind fully formed, whereas others seem to take forever! In 2015 I had a series of four novellas almost write themselves which is unusual, and now I’ve gone back to a manuscript that I first started working on in 2013, so it’s a bit of a mixture.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I’m definitely a digital writer, but only really because I can type faster than I can write with a pen! I’ve written all over the place: sofas, beds, cafes, desks, England and New Zealand! As long as I can have my music blaring as loudly as I want, I can write.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

Fortunately my wonderful mother is my editor and first beta-reader, and having her is invaluable – sometimes editors and beta-readers don’t feel as though they can be completely honest, and my mother never has that problem! I know that she wants what is best for the book, so even if it is sometimes difficult to listen to, I know that she’s right.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I love both to be honest! My background is in the medieval era, and whilst doing my MA in Medieval Studies I was able to study some manuscripts from the 1300s in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. Walking down those corridors and getting my hands on a book that had been written almost 700 years ago was absolutely breathtaking. There really is nothing like the written word when you can hold it, smell it, put a bookmark in it, and make notes in the margins! But at the same time, I love the freedom of ebooks, the ability to hold thousands of books in your hand.

My favourite bookshop is one in a little seaside town called Whitstable. There’s no rhyme or reason for their selections, and every time you go there, there are completely different books. My idea of paradise!

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from childhood?

I loved comfy fantasy when I was a child – the sort of thing that Enid Blyton used to write, lots of smugglers or fairies, with little danger and a lot of humour! As I grew older I delved into Philip Pullman, Terry Pratchett, and Meg Cabot, and I think my eclectic reading tastes have continued from there. I’m just as happy reading a cosy Amish romance as I am space opera by Peter Hamilton, all the way through to murder mysteries. As long as a story is told well, with characters that I just can’t leave alone, I’m happy.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. How do you approach it?

I’m on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and unless I am very regimented with myself I can spend hours on there! That means that I’ve had to learn to be strict with myself, and so I have assigned specific days for each platform so that I don’t get completely overwhelmed. It’s amazing to meet readers from all walks of life on different platform, and although when I’m deep in a book I slip a bit, I try to be on there regularly.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

Haha, never! Partly because I owe it to be respectful to the readers and my blog host, partly because the questions are always so different and fascinating, and partly because I always love answering them!

Thank you so much for having me!

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Interview with Erik Therme

Author photo (Erik Therme)-1An Interview with Erik Therme, author of Mortom and Resthaven

I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?

That’s a tough one. My debut mystery, Mortom, has a special place in my heart, as it’s my first published book. Resthaven, my YA suspense novel, was written for my two teenage daughters, and I feel very paternal toward the characters in the book. All that said, my soon to be published third novel, Roam, is probably my favorite, as it has the most accomplished and fulfilling story line (in my opinion) of everything I’ve written to date.

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?29770150

This is a great question, as I’ve been recently thinking a lot about my first novel. It’s basically a love story—very different from everything else I’ve written—and while I never plan to officially publish it, I’d love to have a paperback for myself and a few friends. If I get ambitious, I might do a one-time limited printing of the book and possibly offer a few copies as giveaways.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

I’m not a prolific author, and I don’t really have an ‘idea’ dump as many other authors have. I wish I did, but my mind doesn’t work that way. For me, an idea comes slowly, and it’s not uncommon for the story to wither and die once I try to put it on my paper. Needless to say, I have plenty of half-written stories haunting my hard drive, which I never delete, as sometimes they can be recycled for other projects.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I’m fortunate enough to have a downstairs office inside my house, and it’s definitely my happy writing place. You’ll find me there with a cold Mountain Dew, a movie soundtrack playing in the background, and wearing my fuzzy Mogwai slippers. I’ve always used a computer to write, as very few people (myself included at times) can read my handwriting.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

My lovely wife is my first and primary beta-reader. She’s incredibly talented when it comes to catching errors, and she’s an expert in all things grammar. She’s also not shy about pointing out things she doesn’t like, whether it be characters, plot points, or just bad writing. It’s definitely tough love at its finest.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I’m blessed to live in Iowa City, home of acclaimed Prairie Lights Bookstore. Their staff is amazing to work with, and they’ve been extremely generous with shelving and sharing my work. I’m also fortunate enough to have a great relationship with our local Barnes & Noble stores, and they’ve been kind enough to invite me to multiple signings and events.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind?

Harold and the Purple Crayon was one of my favorite books growing up. When I graduated to chapter books, I devoured series like Encyclopedia Brown and The Three Investigators. It was in junior high that I discovered Stephen King, and I continue to be inspired and awed by his writing to this day.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What’s your take on it?

I manage all my social media: everything from Facebook to my website. It can definitely feel overwhelming at times, but it’s a necessary evil if you want to successfully extend your reach as an author. The important thing is to not shout BUY MY BOOK! over and over, as that rarely works and can easily alienate others. Social media is about connecting with readers and fans, and sharing your love of books and writing. If you’re lucky, readers will then be curious enough to take a chance on your work.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

I have to be honest: after my first dozen interviews, I began to realize that many of the questions were so similar that I found myself (more or less) rewriting the same answers. Eventually I created a Word document with my completed interviews, and I refer to it when I’m asked similar questions, which gives me more writing time for my novels.

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