Interview with M. N. SNow

An Interview with M. N. SNow, author of The Helper

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 Helper is my first novel and it was shelved for some time. I originally wrote the first draft, if memory serves, in 2004 or 2005. I then rewrote it a variety of times over the next four or five years. I’d pick it up for awhile and then stick it back in the drawer. After giving up on finding a publisher, say in the year 2010 or 2011, I put it way for good, or so I thought. Then in 2015 I was motivated to comb through it once more, update it and finally publish it in time for Christmas 2016!

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?

Writing does not come easy for me. I usually let an idea percolate, but that’s more due to writing laziness, than lack of ideas. My trouble is getting started and staying started. I do have two new novels that I have started and stopped. On one of them I am completely stumped as to how to continue. The second novel is one I will pick back up writing soon, I hope. I also have ideas for another three of four novels floating around in the background.

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 write on my PC, and only on my PC. So wherever it is, is where I write. The majority of my novel The Helper was written in a small motel where I was staying after relocating from south Florida back to Superior, WI. I stayed there during the winter while I was looking for an apartment.

However, if an idea comes to me, I’ll grab any writing utensil at hand and scribble it down before I lose it! Unfortunately that happened the other night. I woke up out of a dead sleep at about 3am and had a great idea for a novel. I lay in bed, half-asleep, thinking of it for a few minutes, and even after some thought it seemed like a good premise for a book. I fell back asleep and cannot remember the idea at all!!! So, once again, I put a pen and paper next to my bed so I can write what comes to me when I wake up.

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’ll try to hook up with any beta-readers I can!!! Usually they are friends and acquaintances. If I trust their instincts, and respect their views I’ll ask them to be one of my “readers.” As to an editor, I’ve used people on the website Fiverr, as well as a friend who is a writer and teacher.

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 am not an e-reader fan. I’d rather read a physical book. And I’m a public library geek!!! I enjoy independent bookstores, but I love public libraries. And the vast majority of books I read come from the library.

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 read in a variety of genres, but Magical Realism/Speculative Fiction would be my favorite, along with certain SciFi and Fantasy books.

As a child I read a lot of biographies—some sports, some general.

By adolescence I was starting to head toward sci-fi and horror. Stephen Kind was always a favorite of mine. I probably read The Stand seven times before I was 25. But also Catcher in the Rye was a biggie for me and The Drifters by James Michener. Voyage by Stirling Hayden really impacted me. Another book that really stayed with me was Valhalla by Jere Peacock—about peace-time Marines after the Korean war. The sections on “red-line brigs” alone was brutal but overwhelming.

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?

I don’t have anyone manage my work for me. What managing that gets done, I do. I don’t blog or tweet. I do have a Facebook page for my book, and of course, I love to have my book reviewed and mentioned in others people’s blogs, websites, etc.

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 haven’t done all that many interviews, so I’m good so far! And the live ones I’ve done, for newspapers, etc, have all had a variety of questions so I haven’t had to repeat myself to much yet. I’ll gladly do it, however, as long as people are interested in asking me questions about my work!

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Interview with Christopher Slayton

An Interview with Christopher Slayton, author of Chaos Company

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’m glad you asked! I’ve had a rough draft of my first attempt at book writing still saved in my files and I’m currently finishing it in hopes to have it published this fall! I wrote the first few pages back in 2009 while in college but didn’t feel confident to write a full manuscript for it. The story follows a young man who is forced to become a masked vigilante after his brother, a gun-wielding batman-like hero suddenly dies. I think with the complexity I wanted to put into this story was more than I was able to handle then. I believe that after writing Chaos Company I have what it takes to deliver a complex story within my first manuscript.

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?

Well, the truth is I know I have a number of stories from start to finish I can’t wait to get to! I even have a dozen of them outlined! I can’t speak for other writers, but inspiration isn’t a problem for me. I try to find it everywhere, from current events and life experience to traveling. The biggest issue for me is time. Until a year ago I didn’t have the time to write, mostly because after working a 40hr/week job, exercising and being social I didn’t have enough to put my ideas down. But now since I work for myself I have the time needed to put my ideas into writing.

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 often write on my laptop either in my bedroom or the living room. That being said I have written in other places such as the common area of my former college, and even at my old job while I was on break. Heck, I’ve even written when I was on vacation in Spain lol. To me there isn’t really a special place for me to write. There is however a mindset I like to put myself in through music in order to write. For example, if I’m writing a lot of dialogue I like to be listening to alternative rock or instrumental music, and when it comes to me writing action scenes I find it easier to do so while listening to hardrock or EDM.

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?

Unfortunately I can’t trust my family to read for me because most of them see critiquing me as them being rude. When it comes to beta-readers I have only one. Her name is Tessa. She’s been a friend of mine for seven years now and I can trust her to not only tell me exactly how she feels about my work, but also provide ways on how I can improve on a story. I trusted her taste in storytelling and her suggestions when I had her take a look at Chaos Company, and I know I can trust her going forward.

Now when it comes to hiring an editor I am very picky on whom I choose. I got lucky with Chaos Company. Before being let go with publisher Desert Breeze Publishing they had already edited my book for me and had spent over five months and two editors on the project. But now that I am on my own again I’ve learned to ask various questions before hiring an editor, and have them edit a chapter of my work before hiring them. That way I know what I’ll be getting from when they are working on an entire manuscript.

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 am an e-reader. My mom got me a device years ago and I’ve been using it ever since. That being said, I am a sucker for having a physical book in my hand from time to time. I usually get my physical copies from amazon and the same for ebooks.

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? – Dr. Suess. His work was and still is a great stepping stone for young readers. I could do without the films made from his work though lol

2. adolescence? – R.L. and the Goosebump books. Especially the choose your own adventure stories. I remember when I choose the wrong page and quickly flipping back to the previous page to try again! I also remember reading the Halo series based on the video game because I wasn’t allowed to play those games as a kid so I thought reading the stories was the next best thing.

3. young adult? – The Alex Rider novels by Anthony Horowitz. That series really got me through high school and inspired me to try my hand at writing, which I would later fall in love with. I read somewhere that Mr. Horowitz wrote a James Bond novel and I can’t wait to get to it!

4. adult? – As a fan of The Walking Dead show and Graphic novels I am currently making my way through the tie-in novels for the comics. The novels are written by series creator Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga who both do an excellent job portraying a dreadful and cruel world in these stories. I’m almost done the second book now and am grateful to have 6 more books in the series to go!

All that being said, I am a sucker for a good action novel. If it has anything to do with spies, bad-ass one man armies, super heroes or epic individuals, I am all over it!

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?

If I’m being honest I don’t spend too much time on social media. I have a facebook and twitter account so that’s about it. And my facebook is used mostly for personal reasons, which only leaves me with twitter to promote myself and my work. I may put 2hrs towards social media a month because I just don’t have the time for it right now. With my schedule the way it is and how many projects I want to release by next year I have to put social media on the back burner. When it comes to twitter I at times feel like I’m just yelling into a void hoping people catch wind of my words. That is why I tend to stay away until I’m ready to promote more material and announce when I will be making appearances. Hopefully when writing is my official full-time job I’ll be able to be more active with social media. But until then I refuse to be a part of something I believe has gotten out of hand when it comes to making it as an artist. A true artist’s work should be based on their artistic merit and vision and not how many followers they have.

Since you don’t use social media to promote your work, what do you do? What do you do instead?

– I work as a driver for Uber/Lyft and do odd jobs through the website Taskrabbit. Both jobs require me to meet so many new people on a daily basis and to me that’s a potential new reader/fan I can introduce my work to. It may seem like a slow way to draw in a fanbase, but I get to have a one on one conversation with potential readers and fans and I believe that is worth more in the long run. But, with this method only time will tell if it works.

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

No. Well, at least not yet lol. When people are kind enough to interview me the least I can do is be as authentic as possible when answering them. Now if someone asks me a question I’ve had before then yes there will be a few points I may repeat from a previous interview. But I do not just copy and paste an answer and I will do my best to never do that in an interview. It’s not fair to the people interviewing, or the people who have read previous interviews I’ve been in.

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Interview with Guy Singer

An Interview with Guy Singer, author of Starboy

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? 

I think my favourite novel was one called “The Tea Room: The Buddha’s Eye. This is a very light-hearted story about a pair of gay socialites, who decide to open a Tea Room in Siem Reap, Cambodia, with the aim of curing Cambodia’s famine problems.

‘Follow the adventures of the Baroness Aster Moffat of Woolfardisworthy (that is pronounced Woolsery, darling. Dontcha know your Devonshire place names?) and Miss Dorothy Gwendoline Hunton-Blather as they travel from their home in Devon to Siem Reap, on the doorstep of the magnificent temples of Angkor. Aster’s mission, to save the children of Cambodia from starving by opening a real Devon tea room in the tropics where the impoverished youngsters can receive succour. Dorothy’s mission, to stop Aster from disgracing herself too badly.’

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 published. It desperately needs reworking and re-releasing as a second edition, but time and other projects preclude that for now. I do have other works I wrote along the way that languish on hard drives. Maybe one day they will be resurrected!

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 tend to write three novels a year. One, ‘The White Building: A Broken Utopian Dream’, was written in 22 days. The book was based on research work carried out by a great friend of mine. Set in Phnom Penh, the White Building is known as ‘the last slum in the City’. Jo wrote a short article for a news station and showed me her notes. I told her that her research was worthy of more than a 2,000 word editorial, and would make a fantastic novel. I challenged her to write the book. A month later, she told me she could never write a novel, and offered the task to me. Armed with her notes, the pair of us went to Phnom Penh to visit the Building for a long weekend. I was so moved by the place, that the story flooded to me. On the journey back on the bus, I was reciting the plot to Jo. By the time we arrived home, the entire story was flowing.

Working 18 hours a day, the book was written in 22 days, including proof reading.

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 in coffee shops. I have used several over the years, and find I don’t have a favourite. Now I live in England, rather than Cambodia, and I’m writing more and more at home. So far, I’ve found few problems.

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 great friends who proof my novels and beta read them. They don’t mind giving me critical comments. One of my friends was a professional proof reader before he retired. For Starboy, I hired a professional editor who I found on facebook. I decided to read one of the works Gemma had edited previously, and I was glad I did. It filled my with confidence of her skills.

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 an e-reader. I read on my phone. As I mentioned before, I used to live in Cambodia, and there is a definite dearth of good bookshops there.

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 various stages of your life?

From childhood, I loved Arthur Ransome and in particularly his ‘Swallows and Amazons’ series. In adolescence, I moved to fantasy novels, becoming a fan of J. R. R. Tolkien. I also read a lot of horror novels, mainly by Dean R Koontz and Steven King. As a young adult, I read very little due to pressure of school work and later jobs. Now, I read sporadically. I have just finished both of the major series by Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus – I tend to read young adult or fantasy books now.

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 feel about it?

I mainly use facebook as my foray into social media. When I have time, I make regular posts. However, recently I’ve not had so much time and find I make fewer posts than I should. I asked a friend to take care of Twitter for me, but I’ve found the return there is minimal. I have just stopped using Twitter altogether. I have my own blog, which again gets busy in spurts!

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 always answer each set of questions afresh. I’d hate to think I can’t spend the time on promoting myself when someone is kind enough to feature my works.

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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

robert-wideman-1

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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