Archive: Meet & Greet Authors

Welcome to the Archive Section of Meet & Greet Authors! All of the writers on THIS page are listed alphabetically by their LAST name.

All the information/websites/links were current AT THE TIME OF INITIAL POSTING. As time passes, please be aware that the links provided might not be active anymore.

 

Steven Bates

 

Name: Steven Bates

Genre(s) of your work: Poetry

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Reflections of A Beret (1st edition / 2015 , 2nd edition 2016)

The “After” Life (1st edition / 2016,  2nd edition 2017)

Bio:

Steven Bates was a military brat who has served the public as an armed and unarmed security officer, a police officer, and a corrections officer.  He went on to serve his country in both the Air Force Reserves and Active Duty Air Force as a Security Police/Security Forces member until he was medically discharged in 2003.   Steven has written two books of poetry and is currently working on a third collection due out this December.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?  

I find poetry to be my inner voice and catharsis for dealing with a variety of issues.  The symmetry, rhythm, and ability to impart imagery to the reader or listener help me to convey things that I am not able to in a normal voice.  I find that poetry gives me the connection to the listener/reader that I would not normally have, and as such, gives the reader/listener a connection to the heart and soul of what I am trying to make them feel and understand.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

It has allowed me to help others in ways that I never have been able to before, that of mentally instead of physically, by letting others know that they are not alone in the struggles they are having in their own lives, that others have been where they are now.

 

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Timothy Zahn, Clive Cussler, Margaret Weis/Tracy Hickman, and Kevin J. Anderson.  All because they are able to take me into the places they have imagined, into the worlds they have created, and into the characters that are speaking with such skill as to allow me to suspend any and all disbelief and immerse myself totally into their creations.

 

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I find them to be an integral part of “making” it in the literary world.  My local Barnes and Noble has been very supportive of me as an author and has allowed me several book signings that have really helped get my material out to the masses where they can do the help that I have always hoped they can do.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

They aren’t alone.  Period.  They aren’t alone with PTSD, depression, suicide attempts, deployments, and personal issues that many think they have been struggling with by themselves and only themselves.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

Quite a bit.  If not a personal experience of mine then normally my poems reflect an experience that has been relayed to me from another veteran that has been unable to get his story out in other means, or they are created to convey a certain image to make the reader/listener understand the circumstances they would not normally have a grasp of.

 

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

DEADLINES… lol.. seriously though.. I think that having a set deadline helps but it’s the inner desire to get a certain message out for a certain cause that helps me finish my poems, for example, writing a poem of suicide awareness for a suicide prevention rally.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

Failure to immerse me into the story, if I can stop when a chapter ends and set the book down, it normally stays down.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

Touchy question! For while all should have freedom of speech, certain speech, and this includes writing, might be dangerous, inflammatory, or downright initiative of hostile acts.  These topics, or statements, such as screaming “Fire” in a crowded theatre, while not violent in nature, still could cause mass panic, violence and endangerment to society as a stampede resulting from fear and anxiety as people rush away from an imagined threat.

By the same token, writing can be just as taboo with certain topics.  When society allows publication of taboo mores and ideologies, pedophilia for instance, into the mainstream literary world, then they allow the nurturing of that culture thus endangering that which we hold dearest, our future in our children.

Who holds the standards is not necessarily up to the majority either, for sometimes the majority rule is formulated by the mob rule mentality caught up in the heat of the moment or the cause of the moment.  Majority doesn’t always mean right and while a lot of people might be upset at that notion, imagine if the majority decided in a tizzy that law enforcement be disbanded, as is a popular notion to many these days, and they got their way.  Total anarchy and lawlessness would eventually ensue with mob and gang rule dictating decisions such as who lives and dies, and who eats and starves.

As I said, a touchy subject. and one that is up to a court higher than any circuit court of appeals to decide.  Forgive my rambling.. else I might be censored as well… lol

Where can people find you and your work?

My books are available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble online, and on audio at Audible.

my website is http://stevenbates.online/

and I am on Facebook at Steven Bates’ Musings and can be friended at my Facebook page under the name Norelcobronze or Steven  Bates

(and I will send a free autographed copy of my books to the first person that can accurately tell me where I came up with the name Norelco Bronze!)

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Amir Bavar

Name: Amir Bavar

Pseudonym : A. A. Bavar

Genre(s) of your work: Action, thriller, romantic comedy, fantasy, creative non-fiction

 

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Shutdown (screenplay): 1999

That’s Amore (screenplay): 2000

Beauty Untold (screenplay): 2002

The Angel of Death (screenplay): 2005

Coma (short story): 2007

The Walk (short story): 2007

Superstition (short story): 2007

The Hand (short story): 2008

An Alien in China (screenplay): 2010

Az – Revenge of an Archangel (novel): 2015

Juror 83 (novel): 2016

Last Man Standing – My car needs a wash (screenplay): 2017

Samantha (novel): 2017

Kiss Me at the Finish Line (novel): 2017

 

Bio :

I was only nine when my mother rushed me out of school to board a plane for Italy. It was the beginning of the Iranian Revolution, the beginning of my exile. From there, life became an adventure, from going to school in an ancient castle in Florence and playing tennis on the lawns at Wimbledon, to dribbling a soccer ball on the white, sandy beaches of Brazil. What I didn’t realize was that my roots had been permanently up-heaved and that I would spend the rest of my life trying to find a place to belong.

Can you imagine being nine and suddenly going to school in Italy without knowing a single word in Italian or having any friends? And then, as you’re slowly finding your way, to be yanked away again to live in England? Again, no friends, but at least I was fluent in English. But that didn’t last long either, since I soon found myself in Brazil. Once again, no friends and no language. Luckily, I went to the American school so the transition was a bit smoother, but unfortunately, the Iran/U.S. relationship wasn’t. We were right in the middle of the hostage crisis… more on this later. Yes, you guessed it, I’m writing my own life story.

When people ask me where I’m from, I find myself stammering, wondering what I should say. Am I Iranian? Brazilian? American? No, not really… more like an international, cultural mess. So I say I’m from earth, even though when I first came to the U.S. I was tagged as an alien! On the positive side, as a citizen of the world, I understand the nuances of many diverse cultures and can write about almost anything, usually with a lot of humor. Too bad I still haven’t found a place I can truly call home.

After high school in Brazil, I moved to the U.S. and majored in computer engineering with a concentration in creative writing. I met my future wife in engineering lab and we got married soon after graduation.

In 1999, I wrote my first screenplay, Shutdown, which was considered for production by New Line Cinema with Harrison Ford. I went on to write several other screenplays, and in 2015 published my first novel, Az – Revenge of an Archangel.

Also in 2015, I was approached by one of the jurors in the Boston Marathon bombing trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and wrote the book Juror 83, which for personal reasons was not published.

In 2016, I entered a script competition and wrote an episode for the sitcom Last Man Standing called My Truck Needs a Wash, while working on my novel Samantha which I finished in 2017. Samantha is a romantic thriller with a touch of magic. Imagine Bewitched meets Fatal Attraction! Doesn’t that say it all? It’s currently competing on Kindle Scout, so please go to https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/2YWWJWSRZQ9XT and NOMINATE it for publication by Amazon. Thank you!

Right now I’m working on my next novel, Kiss Me at the Finish Line, due for publication in December, 2017. It’s an action drama based on my work in Juror 83.

 

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I’m not bound to any one genre. What genre I choose to write mostly depends on my mood at that specific moment, or the premise that pops into my head. From there, it develops almost organically. Originally, I started as a screenwriter and wrote action, comedy, and thrillers. As an author, my books follow the same pattern. I’ve written fantasy, action, comedy, and creative non-fiction. Bottom line, my motivation is to write stories that move my readers independent of the genre.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

Writing is like a pressure release valve. I use it all the time, when I’m excited, happy, angry, scared, confused; when life is simply moving along and I’m trying to keep up. For example, when I wrote Az – Revenge of an Archangel, I was going through a very difficult time when my mother was losing herself (at a relatively young age) to Alzheimer’s disease. Writing that book greatly helped me confront and understand my feelings.

 

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Alexandre Dumas for writing the masterpiece The Three Musketeers. I love the humor and adventure. It is a complete work that encompasses every aspect of life: dignity, honor, love, loss, and survival.

Robert Ludlum for the scope of his work, but more specifically The Bourne Identity. The book is very different from the movie, and for the better. It’s fast paced and adrenaline packed. The writing is crisp and moves at lightning speed without excessive description. I’m a screenwriter, so it appeals to me.

William Goldman for immortalizing The Princess Bride. It’s the perfect love story.

 

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I think they serve a purpose. Everyone likes to go to a B&N, have a coffee, and browse through the best sellers or classics. However, give me a corner mom and pop bookstore and you’ll find me there; that’s where the magic is!

 

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

When I started writing, it was very clear to me that anything I wrote should be a source of pride for my children. Not because of any success it may have, but because it upholds good morals and integrity. I would never write anything that my children shouldn’t read.

I want my readers to enjoy reading my work. Whether it’s with a smile or biting their finger nails, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that they take something away from the journey, something memorable.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

Very much indeed. The best writing is the one that is based on what we know, what we’ve experienced. That should be the foundation of an author’s work.

 

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

Honestly, I don’t know. Ideas just come to me, anything from romantic comedies and action, to thrillers. Being an avid reader helps – reading stimulates the imagination, which helps writing. Right now I have four novels in the pipeline. These are stories I feel I need to tell and that is motivation enough.

 

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

It has to be really bad for me to give up. I mean, my character doesn’t allow me leave leave things half done, and that applies to book also. I believe there have been only a handful of books that I’ve not finished, and I’ve read hundreds.

So, to be more precise. I’m very picky about what I read. I look at the storyline and evaluate the writing style and editing. If the latter two fall short, I will not start the book.

 

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

No. If an author feels strongly enough towards a subject to want to write about it and sign his name on the cover, then that’s their journey to take. However, I do abhor bad taste and will not read things that offend me or are deplorable to human dignity.

 

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

Of course! As a professional, I have high standards and expect other authors to have the same. It really bothers me when I read books that are poorly written, especially the basics such as spelling, grammar, and sentence structure. Proofread, please!

 

Where can people find you and your work?

Vote for Samantha: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/2YWWJWSRZQ9XT
Az – Revenge of an Archangel: https://www.amazon.com/Az-Revenge-Archangel-Bavar-ebook/dp/B00XIN9ICC

 Social media:
www.aabavar.com
https://www.facebook.com/amir.bavar.5
https://www.instagram.com/amirbavar/

 

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Karen Bedore

 

Name: Karen Bedore

Genre(s) of your work: (fiction) Romance/Historical/Renaissance

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

The Bard Trilogy

The Bard – 2015

The Betrayal – 2016

The Brotherhood – 2017

Another Lifetime – 2017

Bio:

On a typical day, one could find Karen in the throngs of adolescent wonderment, trying to create harmonious music-making to these next-generation superstars. From the first squeaks of “Hot Cross Buns” to the lavish lyrical sounds of “Danny Boy,” there is much magic that occurs within the four walls of the band room.

After being fueled by many cups of coffee to sustain the never-ending insanity of middle school energy, she arrives home to the role of wife (to a wonderful husband) and mother (of an amazing little boy), cherishing every moment (okay, perhaps not the whining…).

However…

Secretly (well, not so secret any more), she is an undercover author, who laces up her trainers for a run to build endurance–not just for running–but to escape from this world to an alternate one, where history and romance meet, fueled by suspense–and of course–wonderful music.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I am a romantic at heart, and long to go on an adventure in Renaissance Italy. I have been fascinated with Italy and this time period ever since I can remember, so it makes researching different aspects of them sooooo much fun! And since the Doctor has yet to come and sweep me away in his TARDIS to experience it first-hand, for now, this will have to do.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

I’ve always loved to write—I’ve been journaling since 1989 (it was the summer of 5th grade!)  and have started many, many stories, but I either never finished them or they were just ‘meh’. They always seemed to fall short. So I left the writing world to pursue writing music instead, and picked up novel writing again as a friendly NaNo competition between some of my 8th grade students and myself in 2014. I would hold myself accountable by posting my word count on my board in my band room. I never made it to 50K that year, but did surpass 30K, and found the experience so rewarding that I wanted to be sure to finish my story. I had fallen in love with my characters, and it has since become this part of me that I don’t think I can live without.

Writing gives me a chance to escape reality, and it has kept me sane through some pretty trying moments. I had almost given up on dreaming until The Bard Trilogy began, giving me the chance to let go and dream once more. Writing has become such a passion of mine that I have started the creative writing club at the school where I teach, and provide a place for students that love the art of writing enough to become self-published in our annual student authors book.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Oddly enough, though I write Historical Romance, I don’t really read it—my favorite authors are in the Mystery/Suspense/Thriller (sometimes Historical Fiction) genres—David Baldacci, Steve Berry, James Patterson, and Rick Polad. Maybe it’s because I’ve always been a huge Indiana Jones fan. There’s something romantic about adventuring and questing and solving puzzles, whether it’s historical or present-day.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I absolutely LOVE getting to walk into a bookstore and pick up a book. Whether it’s a “big” store or a small local one, I could spend hours there browsing the shelves. It’s another reason why I love libraries so much! There is just something really special about holding a book in your hands. I just wish they would support indie authors more—even with the smaller bookstores it’s difficult to get your books “in store” there.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

I tend to model myself after the FMC, especially in “Another Lifetime.” From traits and hobbies, to hopes and dreams, if you know me well, you can easily find “me” in my books! I love RPGs and always wanted to be in a real-life one, but since that isn’t possible, I want to live the stories I create. And well, since they’re fiction and of my own creation, writing myself into them is the only way I can “live” them.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

I love my characters. I truly do, and sometimes think that in some bizarre alternate universe that they’re real. I can’t leave them stranded in the middle of a situation!! They need me, and I need them. Sometimes it takes me jumping around and writing scenes out of order, but it’s really the characters that keep driving me forward.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

Too much information and not enough plot. Sometimes I’ve come across books that deviate from the plot way too much to try to explain history or politics or whatnot, and I just want to know what’s going to happen already! Some of that is needed to understand the “why” of the story, but there are times where it’s too much. Other things that makes me not want to finish are characters that don’t interest me in the first few chapters or stories with huge plot holes/unresolved issues. I do make an honest effort to give it a good read before I abandon it.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

Nope. If you don’t like the topic, don’t read it. It’s that simple.

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

Overused words!!! I read a book once where the same word was used beyond the point of annoyance. There are thesauruses for a reason!!!

Where can people find you and your work?

Website: http://karenbedore.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thebardtrilogy/

Twitter: @Lady_Alcinia

Instagram: lady_alcinia

Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/karenbedore

 

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Lindsey Behee

 

Name: Lindsey Behee

Genre(s) of your work: paranormal, fiction

 

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Paranormalish: A Collection of Writings (2015)

 

Bio:

I was born and raised in Frankfort, Kentucky. I have dreamed of being a writer since I first learned someone could actually do that for a living. Married in 2009, I had the opportunity to travel the United States due to my husband’s job, living in California and Colorado before settling in Texas. Currently, I am lucky to get to stay home with our two young daughters. This has given me the chance to fulfill my dream and finally get pen to paper.

 

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I have had an overactive imagination my entire life, sometimes to a fault. I’ve learned that writing out the strange thoughts are a great way to exorcise my mind. While I wouldn’t say I only write about the paranormal, I centered my first book around that to help get stories out of my mind that have been there for ages. A lot of those stories are actually based off of nightmares I’ve had as well as true events that occurred to me or loved ones.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

I have written since I was a preteen, so it has always been a part of my life. However, in the last several months, I have decided to focus solely on writing and it has been an amazing change! First, my best friend and I wrote an entire novel after a simple phone conversation turned into a creative brainstorming session. And beyond that, I have had so many opportunities to get my name out there pop up, including this author meet and greet!

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Chuck Palahniuk! I first discovered him in high school, and seeing the way he wrote opened my eyes to a whole new world! It seemed like he broke the writing rules I had learned in high school and that amazed me. It made me realize I could push that line drawn in the sand and truly write whatever I wanted!

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

From a reader’s point of view, I’ve always loved a good trip to Barnes and Noble! There is something so spectacularly magical about visiting a small local bookshop, though. From a writer’s point of view, I love the extended opportunities that come along with channels like Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace, both of which I have used for Paranormalish and my upcoming novel. Everyone deserves to get their creative work out into the world without having to go broke doing so!

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

On a surface level, I hope they get enjoyment. When it comes to my creepier works, I love to think I’ve given someone chills or made a few jaws drop. Overall, though, I hope that when readers realize I’m “just” a stay at home mom, they see that they don’t have to put themselves in any sort of box. I am more than just a mom who sometimes writes, I am a writer! So, they can be whatever it is they want to be, not just what they feel they’re labeled as.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

I put so much personal experience into my writing! From a few stories in Paranormalish being only slightly fictionalized, and some being completely true, to just little details like a place of business being inspired by a place I’ve visited. It’s fun to hide those Easter eggs in my work and see if those who know me pick them up.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

Oh, this is something I admittedly struggle with. It took me over a year to finish Paranormalish for Kindle and another two years to get it ready for paperback. And there’s no excuse for that! I was the only one to blame. I think that’s a bit of self-doubt. I’m working on that with my upcoming novel. My best friend and co-author has really helped me keep that in check, I’d say. Working with her, and feeding off of her excitement helps me keep my excitement instead of giving in to the self-doubts and thinking the work isn’t good enough to put out there.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

Getting caught up in the busy-ness of life! I have two young kids, one of which is in school, and my husband works a lot. It’s so easy to just tell myself I don’t have time to read.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

I was actually thinking on this recently when a friend of mine sought out a “taboo” book that was banned from Amazon. I feel it’s a gray area for me. On one hand, I think “Why would someone need to write about [xyz]?” but I think I mostly lean towards the idea that anyone can write whatever their heart desires. Who am I to judge what they enjoy? As long as it’s not threatening a real person/people, or purposely ruining a real person’s life with lies passed as truth, write away!

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

For my own writing, I hate when I start to realize how often I use certain words. For example, in one piece, I noticed the world “little” was always used to describe a character. It wasn’t on purpose, there was just so much story happening in between the descriptions that it took a while to notice. But the important thing is that it was caught and changed!

In reading, I may have a few. First, when dialogue doesn’t sound natural. Saying someone’s name every single time a character addresses them? We don’t talk like that!

I’ve never been a fan of overly descriptive writing. I’m talking things like describing every single aspect of a person’s face, with metaphors and similes for each characteristic. Saying someone’s eyes were cold as ice is fine. Saying their eyes are cold as ice, set in a snowy skinned face with wrinkles like rivers flowing to the sea around a great mountain of a nose, is a bit much. (Silly example, I know.)

Where can people find you and your work?

You can find me on Facebook, Amazon and CreateSpace!

My writer’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lindseybeheewriter/

My upcoming novel, Lost in Grey: https://www.facebook.com/lostingreynovel/

Amazon’s author page: https://www.amazon.com/Lindsey-Behee/e/B016SPVYIM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1509202061&sr=8-1

Paranomalish: A Collection of Writings:

            Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Paranormalish-Collection-Writings-Lindsey-Behee/dp/1518837387/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

            CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5822376

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 Barbara Belford

 

Name: Barbara Belford

Pseudonym (if you use one):  Bibi Belford

Genre(s) of your work:  Middle Grade Fiction and Middle Grade Historical Fiction

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Canned and Crushed, March 2015 and June 2017

Crossing the Line, August 2017

Bio:

Bibi Belford is the author of books for middle grade readers: CROSSING THE LINE, CANNED AND CRUSHED, THE GIFT, and ANOTHER D FOR DEEDEE (coming 2018). She lives in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois with her husband. She enjoys books, gardening, beaches, and spending time with her grandchildren. Belford also works as an educational consultant and volunteers in public schools. She is a member of CWA – Chicago Writers Association, SCBWI-Illinois, and has served as a panelist for author Success Stories at the UW-Madison Writers’ Institute.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I wrote my first novel, Canned and Crushed, in response to a former student’s lament that he didn’t read because he couldn’t find books that appealed to him. He was a second-language soccer-loving student that had spent three years in my reading intervention classroom. “What if I write a book? Will you read it?” I asked him. “If you write a book, I will promise to read it,” he told me. Was he surprised when his teacher read the unpublished chapters of a “mystery writer” to his fifth grade classroom and then invited me to come and read the final chapter for the author reveal.

I walked into the room and everyone shouted, “Guess what? An author is coming to read to us today.” I asked, “Who do you think it is?” Their answers ranged from J.K. Rowling to the school’s Learning Center Director.  “It’s me. I’m the author,” I confessed. “No, it can’t be you,” my former student said. “Now I have to read the book over again, by myself!” My goal is to write books that bring kids joy and create stories that motivate readers to be everyday heroes.

How has writing changed/altered your life? 

I was so busy working full-time and being a mom to four kids I never had blocks of time to finish writing projects. Once all the kids flew away from the nest, I dusted off the unfinished projects, enrolled in writing workshops and rekindled my writing passion. I write almost everyday. There’s nothing as energizing and challenging as creating something. I find the research fascinating and stimulating and developing characters and their relationships is like navigating a complex maze. And if that’s not enough to change/alter life, the network of writers I’ve met and the students who tell me they love Canned and Crushed truly fill my life with joy.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

I have so many favorite authors, it’s difficult to mention only a few. I love books with everyday heroes that have messages of hope. Middle grade novel writer, Kate DiCamillo, always has characters I want to meet. Jodi Picoult’s books are so difficult to put down because the characters face such current and catastrophic events. Recently, I’ve become a huge fan of Fredrick Backman’s books and his style of writing. The author that probably inspired me the most was Katherine Paterson with her storytelling technique. See? I can’t stop. What can I say? I’m a hopelessly addicted reader.

 

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

Although I know that large mainstream bookstores, such as B&N and Amazon,  have helped me as an author sell books, I have a heart for neighborhood bookstores, where I can spend hours perusing and choosing books. Some of my favorite smaller bookstores have ordered my books and sponsored events that promote authors. I hope there’s room at the table for all kinds of bookstores, even though that sounds like I’m speaking with duplicity.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

Since I write for middle grade kids, grades 2-7, I want them to put down my book and say, I’m just like that character. I can make a difference in my family, my school, and my neighborhood.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

I might have to take the fifth amendment on this question. As a teacher for many years, my mind if full of quite a few characters I’ve actually taught and episodes that I’ve experienced personally.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

There’s a song that I won’t sing here, because my writing voice is better than my singing voice, but it alludes to sitting on the sand and putting your toes in the water. That’s what has to happen to complete a book. Everyday I sit in my chair and put my fingers on the keyboard. Once the writing gets done, then the editing and revising can begin.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

I very rarely don’t finish a book, even if I’m not in love with it. I know it’s probably some sort of neurotic disorder, but I feel responsible to the author in most cases, to give it the benefit of the doubt and go the distance with them. On the rare occasion I’ve stopped reading it’s because of two reasons. One—awful writing, labored or excessively contrived prose. Two—inaccuracies in character development or setting details.

 

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

Whoa. I’m sensitive to some topics being inappropriate for certain ages of readers but censoring writing sounds like a violation of free speech. In my lifetime books that were originally banned/challenged such as Catcher in the Rye, and Brave New World, are now found in libraries.

 

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work? 

I understand the importance of social media in today’s world of book promotion, but it’s still a pet peeve. I wish my time could be spent writing and the publisher had the budget to promote my book. It’s been a huge learning curve to get up to speed on self promotion. Did I say up to speed? It’s probably more accurate to say, barely approaching minimum speed!

And regarding reading others’ work, I’m a member of a group of seven writers, all writing different genres, from cozy mystery to dystopian YA. We read each others’ work and meet once a year to critique in person. We are all open to criticism and suggestions and it’s an absolutely invigorating process, a gift, that we can share with each other. So, if reading others’ work ended up not being like what I know, then I would have a pet peeve. From my experience pets, especially pet peeves, require a lot of maintenance and can be messy, so the less I have the better!

Where can people find you and your work? 

Amazon: http://a.co/bjJo3gM (link to Crossing the Line)

Amazon: http://a.co/4Ts61sn  (link to Canned and Crushed)

 http://www.bibibelford.com/

https://www.onlineprnews.com/news/931783-1500219994-new-kids-novel-crossing-the-line-by-bibi-belford-set-during-historic-chicago-race-riots.html

https://twitter.com/BarbaraBelford

https://www.facebook.com/bibibelford/

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Shelby Bentil

 

 

Your Name: Shelby Bentil

Genre(s) of your work: Fiction

 

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Diminished Dreams/2017

 

Bio:

 Born and raised in Newark, NJ, in one of the city’s deplorable housing projects, success was the only option. I fell in love with writing and reading as a child in grammar school. It became my outlet because I could escape reality through the words of the author.

 

 

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I choose to write Fiction because there aren’t any restrictions. When writing essays in English class we always followed very specific rules with a very specific format and use only the information given. With fiction writing there is more freedom of expression. It’s my story told my way.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

Through writing I was able to gain my own voice and express my emotions and views without criticism. Growing up as the youngest of 3 girls no one cared about what I wanted to say. Through writing, what I believe, feel and care about matters.

 

 

Who are your favorite authors and why?

One of my favorite author’s is Gary Paulsen. My first chapter book was by him, Sarny: A Life Remembered. The Prequel, Nightjohn is still one of the most memorable books I ever read.

 

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

Hopefully my readers will be motivated to live fearlessly and positively after reading Diminished Dreams. I want them to be inspired to live their life for themselves instead of for others.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

The lesson’s I learned throughout my life help to give me ideas for the basis of what I want the book to be about. My imagination leads the way after that.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

The last thing I would want in my life is to live thinking should’ve, could’ve, would’ve. This pushed me to complete Diminished Dreams and pursue publishing.

 

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

The only time I haven’t finished a book was because I felt the book was dragging.

 

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

The only pet peeve I have when writing my own work is writer’s block. I don’t have any when it comes to the work of other people.

 

Where can people find you and your work?

Anyone can purchase Diminished Dreams on Amazon and Barnes and Noble or on the 13th&Joan website when the book becomes available. To know more about my journey to being a published author and me, you can follow me on any of my social media accounts.

https://www.facebook.com/DiminishedDreams/

https://www.instagram.com/shelby_bentil/

http://13thandjoan.com/shelbybentil

https://twitter.com/shelby_bentil

 

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David W. Berner

 

Name: David W. Berner

Genre(s) of your work: Memoir, Creative Nonfiction, Fiction

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Accidental Lessons (Strategic, 2009)

Any Road Will Take You There (Dream of Things, 2014)

There’s Hamster in the Dashboard (Dream of Things, 2015)

Night Radio (Cawing Crow Press, 2016)

October Song (Roundfire, 2017)

Bio :

David W. Berner has been a fixture in Chicago broadcasting since 1988, working for CBS radio and contributing stories to pubic radio stations around the country. He has also written for the arts magazine, Clef Notes Journal and several other publications, and has been an associate professor at Columbia College Chicago since 2004.

He recently completed his tenure as the Writer-in-Residence at the Hemingway Birthplace Home in Oak Park and was the Writer-in-Residence at the Jack Kerouac Project in Orlando in 2011. He has published five books. Any Road Will Take You There was awarded a Chicago Writers Association award and There’s a Hamster in the Dashboard was named one of the best books of 2015 by the Chicago Book Review.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I mostly write memoir and creative nonfiction. I’m most at home telling stories I have lived through or at least gleaning material from my life. My background as a journalist has helped, making  me a pretty good observer and this includes observations on my own life. 

 

How has writing changed/altered your life?

Immensely. When I started my first book, Accidental Lessons, I discovered how much writing meant to me. I had always been a storyteller, in one way or another. When I was paperboy as a kid in the 1960s and 70s, I was, in many ways, delivering stories. Then it was music—playing and writing as a young man. Broadcasting and journalism was all part of it, too, of course. So writing books was always on the periphery. But when I finally figured out how to do it reasonably well, really discipline myself with a meaty story to tell, I found what truly made me tick. 

 

 

Who are your favorite authors and why?

My favorites writers are usually the ones I’m reading at the moment. But I remain a Jack Kerouac and a Ernest Hemingway fan. I guess I’m a little old school. But I recently discovered Percival Everett. He is wonderful. So Much Blue may be the perfect novel. I also love Joan Didion and one of my favorite all-time books is Gretel Ehrlich’s The Solace of Open Spaces. It is a marvelous book.  Currently I’m re-reading John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, his nonfiction book about the cross-country trip with his dog. I had forgotten how very, very good that is.

 

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

If you’re talking about the Barnes and Nobles of the world—they have their place. But they are less and less bookstores and more the proprietors of greeting cards, silly games, and coffee treats than booksellers. Not many around anymore after the demise of Border’s. I love the independents and they are experiencing a bit of a renaissance right now. We have some great ones in Chicago. My favorite is The Book Cellar. Still have to be supported for them to thrive. So get going! 

 

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

Nearly all of my work is about redemption in all of its forms. I think that’s what life is about—renewal. We all are trying to find ways to reawaken ourselves, discover our truth paths, or reinvent our lives. I think this is the overriding theme of most of my writing. I guess I want readers to see their own lives in my stories. It’s not that my life is so meaningful; it’s that we all live lives that are meaningful in someway or to someone.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

Absolutely everything. It’s what I write about. 

 

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

It sounds cliche but I feel a NEED to write. It is what I do. If I’m not writing, I’m thinking about it, doing research or reading. Motivation for me comes from the absolute necessity to write; it’s t like eating. Plus, reading great writers. That motivates the hell out of me.

 

 

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

If it doesn’t hit me in the heart. I try to finish all my readings, certainly books I am reviewing, but there have been some I just did not find a connection with. I have even put aside a Pulitzer Prize winner and never finished reading it. I won’t say which one. 

 

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

Absolutely not. No censorship. None.

 

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

Obsessive dialogue or dialogue that isn’t real. I also don’t like stories that feel a need to tie up all the loose ends. Life is full of loose ends! Let them be. And please don’t start your story with a weather report. So many newbie writers do this. But this said, there is room for breaking the rules, even mine. (Although I wouldn’t call my pet peeves rules. They are just things that don’t work for me.) I conduct workshops a lot, including a recent one at the American Writers Museum and I really encourage writers to do more reading; read the classics, the best of the best. It will help.

 

Where can people find you and your work?

Amazon. Any bookstore. If they don’t have, they can order.

www.davidwberner.com

Twitter: @davidwberner.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/david.w.berner

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Vic Broquard

 

Name: Vic Broquard

Genre(s) of your work:

I’ve written a number of computer programming texts on C++, C#, and Windows MFC programming. Ten are in print today.

I’ve also written fifty-five published novels. My three genres are Sci-fi, fantasy, and YA.  I tend to write in series.

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Without Warning (fantasy)

The Trident Series: (fantasy)

Volume 1 The Trident and the Book  

Volume 2 The Trident and the Scepter         

Volume 3 The Trident and the Resurrection 

The Adventures of Elizabeth Stanton Series: (science fiction)

Volume 1 The Evolution of the Path  

Volume 2 The Great Messiah

Volume 3 Of Kings and Queens and Troubadours    

Volume 4 Chaos in the Aftermath     

Volume 5 Power Plays

Volume 6 Age of Exploration 

Volume 7 Abducted   

Volume 8 The Emperor and Empress

Volume 9 A Job Worth Doing

Volume 10 Degradation        

Volume 11 The Second Crusade        

Volume 12 When Worlds Collide      

Volume 13 Dark Ages

The Lindsey Barron Series: (fantasy YA)

Volume 1 The Rod of the Apocalypse

Volume 2 The Board of Governors    

Volume 3 The Crown of Moses         

Volume 4 Dominus for President      

Volume 5 The National Health Care Program          

Volume 6 States Justice         

Volume 7 Cross and Double-cross     

Volume 8 Down the Dragon Hole      

Zoran Chronicles Series: (fantasy)

Volume 1 A Dragon in Our Town      

Volume 2 Dragons, Power, Courts, and War

Planet of the Orange-red Sun Series: (science fiction)

Volume 1 When Kingdoms Fall          

Volume 2 Dark Ages  

Volume 3 Age of the Towers 

Volume 4 Difficillis Exitus

Volume 5 Age of the Lords    

Volume 6 The Renegade Tower        

Volume 7 Rebellions  

Volume 8 The Aliens Return  

Volume 9 Power Struggles    

Volume 10 Guilds, Genetics, and Gods          

Volume 11 Magi, Witches, Swords, and Superstitions          

Volume 12 The Voyage of the Eagle’s Seed  

Volume 13 Eagle’s Seed and Origins 

Volume 14 Justifications        

Volume 15 Responsibilities

The Return of the Wizards: Twelve Companions – The Making of Wizards (fantasy)

Slow Comes the Dark Series: (science fiction)

Volume 1 Creeping Darkness

Volume 2 Serendipity

Volume 3 Darkness Descends

Volume 4 Perversion Incarnate         

Volume 5 Extermination Wars

Reclamation Series (science fiction)

Volume 1 For the Want of a Pill        

Volume 2 Organ Donors        

Dragons, Magic, and Me (fantasy)

            Volume 1 The Box

Sol Empire (science fiction) due out this year

            Volume 1 For the Want of Humanity

            Volume 2 Fear

            Volume 3 Greed

The Three Friend’s Grand Plan (fantasy) also due out this year

Out of print works:

Intermediate MFC, Broquard, Prentice Hall, 1998, ISBN 0-13-848276-4

Programming with OWL for Windows 95, Broquard, Prentice Hall, 1997, ISBN 0-13-492273-5

Programming with MFC for Windows 95, Broquard, Prentice Hall, 1996, ISBN 0-13-459546-7

Fundamentals Of Assembler Language For The IBM PC/XT, Broquard and Westley, Merrill, 1990, ISBN 0675-210585-01

Structured Problem Analysis and Logic Design, Broquard and Westley, Prentice Hall, 1985

In the Fantasy Area:
The Jingling Mordo Circus, Broquard, TSR: Dungeon Adventures, 1987
Underdark Tunnel Design, Broquard, TSR: Dragon Magazine, 1988

 

Bio:

Professor Vic Broquard has over thirty-five years experience in the computer programming field. He has programmed in the engineering arena as well as the business and systems programming areas. For the last twenty years up to 2010, he has taught full-time at a Midwestern junior college.

He also does Windows programming consulting for several local firms. He has had three Windows programming books published by Prentice Hall and was the primary author for two other published programming books.

In 1999, he received the “Gallion Award” for excellence in teaching. It is an award given by the students each year for the best teacher at the college.

His books reflect his teaching style and attitude. In his words, “I try to communicate the information in a manner that is easily understood by the student. I am application oriented. That means you will not find my books theoretical in nature nor a rewritten language reference manual. Rather, they are very readable and emphasize the actual doingness of programming. My students end up being able to actually write computer programs in the real-world. In the final analysis, the ability of someone to actually “do it” is what is vitally important.”

He is now retired from teaching and writing novels full-time.

 

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

Why I Write Fantasy Novels

I get an enormous amount of pleasure and satisfaction from writing fantasy novels for three key reasons.

One, magic. What would life be like if one could cast magical spells? Such spells range from protection spells, such as my Skin of Stone spell – which protects the body from physical blows from things as sword strikes and even bullets, to offensive spells such as a Ball of Fire. Let your imagination flow freely and then ask yourself just what would live be like for you if you could do such things? Intriguing.

Two, mental skills that mimic magical spells. Often called psi powers, the same considerations apply. What would life be like if you had powers of the mind at your disposal, such as telepathy, telekinesis, and many more? Again, I find such notions highly intriguing.

Three, character development and interaction. I enjoy mocking up unique characters and then “wearing their hat,” writing as though I was that person. In fact, in one novel, I had a high action chapter involving seven quite different and unique characters constantly interacting with each other, making a fascinating read.

Back in the 1980’s, I played a lot of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, even going so far as having an article published in the Dragon magazine and a game module in the Dungeon magazine. That, coupled with my love of Tolkien, led me to write my first such novel, The Return of the Wizards.

From there, I decided to merge magic spells and psi powers. The result was the Trident Series, which also became a love story as well. In the third book in that series, you can find the chapter with the seven characters in action that I mentioned above. Jon Brown has the psi powers, while his new friends have magical spell casting abilities. His friends are each very unique with strong personalities, quite divergent from each other.

One of my students once asked me why I didn’t have a novel involving dragons. So I wrote the Zoran Chronicles in response, making dragons the focal point of that series.

Harry Potter was impressive. I just knew that I had to respond. After all, the US needs its own version. Thus, I began writing the Lindsey Barron series, which soon grew to six novels to tell her complete story.

Then, later on, I added a twist. People can change. What would happen if the main evil wizard that haunted Lindsey in those six books suddenly changed – for the better? Enter the recent addition of the seventh novel in that scene! I’m just now finishing up the 8th, continuing  to explore that huge personality change.

Several years back, they did a remake of Alice in Wonderland as a short mini-series. Impressed with it, I decided to try my hand at writing something akin to Alice. The result was Without Warning, a fanciful wonderland-like fantasy novel.

What I Like Most About Writing Science Fiction

Evolution of people and societies over long time spans. I was inspired to tackle such a broad span by Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover series of many novels, which still ranks as one of my favorites of all time.

Okay, what exactly do I mean by “evolution?” There are many, many good sci-fi novels but it takes a whole series of novels to cover say five hundred years of a society’s development. Perhaps, my background in anthropology also tends to push me along these lines.

The fifteen novels in the series Planet of the Orange-red Sun begins with a primitive society located on the fringes of the galaxy stuck in what one might call the Bronze Age of development. Their planet has almost no heavier elements. Iron is so rare that a steel sword is worth “millions.” How can such a society develop beyond such a point?

Just how can a people develop and progress as a society if some have such powerful gifts, while others lack them totally? One solution that is followed is to allow these incredibly powerful people to be the sole rulers of the various kingdoms. Ah, with such ultimate power and no checks on their powers one might well anticipate major disasters will follow.

Does this relate to our own time where giant corporations control so much of our society and dump billions into getting certain candidates elected to political offices?

Evolution of societies: one of the key principle that unfolds is that “the solution to today’s problem becomes tomorrow’s problem.” A secondary key principle is that aberration in behavior is and can be easily transmitted down through many generations, though it can become twisted and distorted as it carries on through the centuries…

…I’m looking at my second viewpoint of evolution – that of aberration or how traumatic events propagate down the ages. For example, a parent abuses child; child grows up and abuses his children in a similar manner. Or a person is raped and thereafter the person is afraid, fearful of … Many of current TV shows are dramatizing this type of situation.

Coupled intimately with this is my personal belief that we are all immortal spiritual beings who have a mind and who are inhabiting human bodies. Call it Karma or whatever, but this notion is reflected in many religions.

An individual person can suffer very traumatic events, events that cause severe pain and unconsciousness or tremendous personal loss. Likewise, a whole society can also undergo a severe trauma. While society is beginning to accept the fact that these traumas can adversely affect the person for the rest of their lifetimes unless healed, my proposition is that since the person, the being, is immortal and will have further lifetimes (Karma or whatever), that trauma is still there and can still impact them in their future lives.

Worse, we tend to forget previous lifetimes. We try to avoid pain, and that other body did just die somehow. Also, the old out of sight, out of mind kicks in. We forget things, especially if those things are no longer present anywhere in our lives. Best left forgotten is frequently the norm. Yet, that un-erased, un-handled trauma is still there, buried deep in what many call our unconscious minds and can still impact our lives.

Just how do, why, and what do such traumatic events have on people and upon a society as a whole? This, then, is the second aspect of evolution that so intrigues me and which I often explore when writing science fiction novels.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

It has broadened my grasp and understanding of people and society.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series

Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover series

Roger Zelazny’s Amber series

Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series

Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assassin series

Tolkien’s  Lord of the Rings and Hobbit

In all cases, because they fuel my imagination and I can follow a character across time.

 

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

They should buy and sell more Indie published books.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

That there are parallels to our own world and times. That there is hope for the future. That there are ways to deal with disabilities. That there are ways to erase trauma, physical and emotional. What can happen if a person has more than one lifetime… Oh, and be entertained, lol.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

In my textbooks, my experience is everything.

However, in my novels, my exposure to the erasure of trauma plays a role. I want others to know and have hope. Beyond that, I mostly study and observe others, reflecting off them.

 

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

I’m a panster. When I get an idea for a story, I simply have to tell it. Usually, I have a starting point and an ending point in mind. Then, I’m off, allowing the story and characters to develop as I write.

The problem is that I get too many ideas. Right now, for example, I have eight novels in progress – just got another great idea and started its chapter 1 this week. This year, home remodeling and vacation has cut into my writing time.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

Many misspelled words. Horrible grammar. Obtuse writing. Pages of unfamiliar words that aren’t defined. And most of all, boring material that goes on and on.

 

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

Nothing should be taboo. Nothing should be censored. HOWEVER, book covers should carry red warning labels, such as Hateful Material, Pornographic, Polarizing Views, Fake News etc.

I don’t want school children reading erotic stories or hate inciting materials, for example. That’s one other reason I like Amazon’s Look Inside feature, so I can get an idea of what the book contains before I buy.

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

Many misspelled words, bad grammar and punctuation turn me off right away. Where’s the Editor?

A story that goes nowhere, a story that is banal, especially in dialog, and one with overly flowery (literary fiction) prose or lengthy, page after page descriptions also turn me off.

 

Where can people find you and your work?

http://amazon.com/author/vic-broquard

http://www.broquard-ebooks.com

http://www.broquard-ebooks.com /blog

On Social Media:

Facebook

Google+

LinkedIn

YouTube

 

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Angel Chadwick

Name:  Angel Chadwick

Genre(s) of your work:   International Crime Mystery/Thriller/Multicultural Romance/Suspense/ Action/Adventure/Horror/Sci-fi, Poetry/Memoir

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Weeping Well (2017)

Corridors of My Mind (2014)

 

Bio:

Angel M.B. Chadwick is currently writing the sequel to the “Weeping Well” series, titled “Weeping Well: Shards to the Grave.” She’s also writing a twelve book cozy mysteries series, numerous plays, novels, short stories, among her other literary works, business ideas and inventions all while raising her ten year old son. She has traveled all over the world starting in her teens and hopes to do it again soon. She currently lives in Mississippi, in a quaint little house on the corner, in a quiet neighborhood in the city, where she is constantly and relentlessly plagued by inspiration.

 

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I write in all genres, with the exception of erotica. I like writing mostly crime mystery/thrillers and sci-fantasy. I like the suspense, whodunit, the mystery. With sci-fi fantasy I like all that entails, especially the world building. But I prefer writing all genres and mixing those genres, because I like what I can do with the aspects of their genres by mixing them together and developing something that everyone can relate to, or evokes emotion or some sort of feeling in them that is genuine, real and human.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

I like the dark stuff so Edgar Allan Poe and his works are one, but I also like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bret Harte, Tennessee Williams, William Shakespeare,  Washington Irving, Sylvia Plath to name a few. I love how deep, raw, tragic their characters are. Ralph Waldo Emerson I like the value of his words, their authenticity. These authors works speak to me in depth on so many levels.  I can relate to it.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

All of it. Authenticity, depth and  emotion are very important to me when writing.  So why not use my own experiences.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

What would make me not want to even entertain reading a book would be a book length blurb. You’ve told me everything I needed to know about the book, why would I want to read it, when basically I’ve already read it from the blurb.  For this reason, I don’t make a habit of reading blurbs, if they’re too long.

I also don’t read books with lengthy (like book report long) blurbs. To me it’s like going to a movie after you’ve been told all the spoilers or a good bit of them.  I don’t like spoilers. I rather find out what happens and have my own thoughts and opinions about it.

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

I don’t like first person. But I have made exceptions. But I don’t read a lot of first person  unless it’s the classics.

Where can people find you and your work?

https://www.amazon.com/Mrs.-Angel-M.B.-Chadwick/e/B00O4KZI8Q/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

 https://www.facebook.com/angel.chadwick.10

https://twitter.com/goddessamabo23

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9476119.Angel_M_B_Chadwick

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9476119.Angel_M_B_Chadwick/blog

Buy Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Weeping-Well-Angel-Chadwick-ebook/dp/B01NAOJ4O5/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1503340779&sr=8-1&keywords=weeping+well

https://www.amazon.com/Weeping-Well-Mrs-Angel-Chadwick/dp/1541341082/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1503340779&sr=8-1

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Weeping-Well-Mrs-Angel-Chadwick/dp/1541341082/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1503340874&sr=8-1&keywords=weeping+well

https://www.amazon.com/Corridors-My-Mind-Angel-Chadwick-ebook/dp/B00NLOM0HI/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

https://www.amazon.com/Corridors-Mind-Mrs-Angel-Chadwick/dp/1500796328/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Corridors-My-Mind-Angel-Chadwick-ebook/dp/B00NLOM0HI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1503427777&sr=8-1&keywords=corridors+of+my+mind

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Kristina Cowan

Your Name: Kristina Cowan

Genre(s) of your work: narrative nonfiction

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

I’ve been a journalist for 20 years, and I’ve had many articles published at a variety of publications. My latest and largest project is my first nonfiction book, When Postpartum Packs a Punch: Fighting Back and Finding Joy. It includes my personal experience with postpartum depression, and the stories of other parents who had postpartum mood disorders, in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. The book is a resource for mothers and fathers coping with mental illness during pregnancy or after childbirth, and for the friends, family, and clinicians who help them.

 

Bio :

Kristina Cowan started writing when she was 5. Years later, she earned a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and these days she covers mental health and women’s issues. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two young children. When Postpartum Packs a Punch is her first book.

 

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

When I faced postpartum depression, I couldn’t find a book that offered true, detailed stories from other mothers who’d been where I was. There was plenty of clinical advice, but nothing from peers. What helped me most was the solace I received while talking with other mothers. I set out to capture that solace in print, and offer it to families for generations to come. Because I’ve been a journalist for 20 years, writing nonfiction came naturally. Still, I do harbor the dream of writing fiction. It’s my next frontier.

 

 

How has writing changed/altered your life?

I’ve been writing since I was 5—maybe earlier. It’s the way I sing, pray, think, and spread hope. Life doesn’t make sense to me unless I write.

 

Who are your favorite authors and why?

They’re too many to list here, so I’ll give the top few.

Philip Yancey is my favorite nonfiction author. He helps me better understand big issues and how they relate to my faith. He’s humble, he has an excellent command of complex subjects, and he’s brilliant. His writing makes me feel smarter.

Shakespeare inspired me at an early age, and he still does. Name a heartbreak, a malady, a joy; name a type of hero or villain, and you’ll find them somewhere in his work.

Mystery is my favorite fiction genre. My favorite writers there are Tana French and Mark Pryor. French’s prose is lyrical. Her stories are anchored to psychological suspense, not gore. Pryor’s character, Hugo Marston, is a modern-day Cary Grant who grabs bad guys around France. What’s not to love? Pryor has dexterity with the language and smartly weaves in background and description. I forget that I’m reading, and I’m transported to Europe. If I one day come close to writing fiction that good, I’ll be happy.

I like historical romance, too. Natasha Solomons does an excellent job here, with The House at Tyneford and The Song of Hartgrove Hall. Her characters are believable and lovable. The story lines seamlessly weave history with romance, and leave the reader with much to reflect on.

 

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I love bookstores. I’ve always spent a lot of time and money in them. After I had children, I developed a new appreciation for all they offer. Barnes & Noble has been good to me since I published my book. I’m not famous, and I don’t yet have an agent, and my publisher isn’t one of the big ones in New York. But B&N agreed to catalog my book, and my local branch stocks some on the shelves. I wish I could say the same for my favorite independent bookstore in my neighborhood. I figured they’d be open to including my book in their collection, but I’ve not been able to get them to return my emails and calls.

 

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

If readers come away with just one thing, I’d like it to be hope. There are wise, empathetic people capable of helping families who struggle through perinatal mental illness. It might take a while to find them, so you have to persist and be your own best advocate. It’s also important for women to listen to their bodies. They never lie. If you don’t feel like yourself, and that feeling lingers, chances are it won’t go away on its own. Staying quiet won’t make it better. Sharing how you feel with someone you trust is the most important step you can take to restoring your mental health. It’s not a sign of weakness, as our society readily suggests.

Modern medicine has redeeming qualities, but it falls short with mental illness. There’s still much it gets wrong. For example, recent research suggests that Pitocin, medication often used to speed labor, increases a woman’s chances of postpartum depression between 32 and 36 percent. Those numbers should send medical experts on a quest to more carefully consider the drugs they give women in labor and postpartum.

Like any art, my book is a snapshot, a moment in time. Research on maternal mental health continues. We’ll get better at reaching, responding to, and caring for struggling families. And we’ll face setbacks. My book couldn’t cover everything, but I’ll continue to build on it through my future writing.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

For the last six years, about half of what I write touches on my personal experience. My book delves into my brush with postpartum depression. My blog posts and stories for various outlets deal with mental health, and how I think we need to change and grow. I lost my brother to suicide four years ago, and I’ve been writing about what I learned through that experience. I hope to write more about men in middle age who face severe depression, too.

The other half of my writing life is pure journalism, where my personal experience doesn’t come into play at all.

I find the balance of this tricky. Writing about myself is difficult, especially because I was trained as a journalist to remain objective and keep my perspective out of the equation. We see this less and less in mainstream media, especially on TV. I value Walter Kronkite-type journalists, who don’t pepper the news with their thoughts and feelings. 

 

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

Deadlines are a writer’s best friend. My writing mentor says that often. And I learned that in journalism school—write to finish. If you don’t, you’ve no hope of keeping a job. That served me well as I wrote my book proposal, looked for a publisher, finished the manuscript, went through edits, and polished off the galleys.

 

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

If there’s too much description, if the author waxes flowery, if the characters are boring or unbelievable—these things make me stop reading. I sometimes have trouble with books that toggle between the past and present, a trend common in fiction. But if those types of books are well-written, if I relate to the characters, if the tension builds with each scene—then the back-and-forth doesn’t matter. There’s no substitute for good writing.

 

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

Typos. My own are the worst. They’re like nails on a chalkboard.

When I’m reading a book and I find a typo, I wonder whether a copy editor had enough time to read as carefully as he/she would’ve liked. There’s no substitute for good editing, whether it’s for content, mechanics, or grammar.

 

Where can people find you and your work?

My website: https://www.kristinacowan.com/

My blog, housed at my website: https://www.kristinacowan.com/blog/

My author page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cowankristina/

My Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Kristina-Cowan/e/B071SDD8P3

On Twitter, I’m @kristinacowan

 

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Kevin N. Fair

 

Name: Kevin N. Fair

Genre(s) of your work: Upper Middle Grade/YA fiction

 

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Paper Airplane, November 2017

 

Bio :

I graduated from Florida Atlantic University with degrees in education and history. I am currently a teacher, having spent the last ten years in classrooms. This has allowed me to see the struggles of teenage life today, and compare it to my teens. There are many similarities, but also some major differences. In many ways, teens have it MUCH more difficult now. Paper Airplane is my debut novel. It has already received wonderful reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and San Francisco Book Review, among others.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

YA stories are the best ones to tell! Who can’t relate to or remember all of the trials and tribulations, drama and awkward moments of their teenage years? It’s such a critical time in a person’s life, and if my stories can help a teen deal with some of the problems they are facing, or bring back fond (and maybe some not so fond) memories to an adult, then mission accomplished for me!

How has writing changed/altered your life?

Writing has always been my therapy, my medicine. Any time I felt some kind of way about something, I picked up a pen and wrote (yes, a pen, I still prefer writing over typing). Paper Airplane, in fact, was written during a particularly low point in my life, as a way for my mind to escape that reality. Without this novel, I might have made some decisions at the time that wouldn’t have been the best for me long term. That’s the power and impact of writing for me. And I encourage everyone to find their passion and make it their therapy, to use it as a means of coping with their emotions.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

I grew up on Judy Blume and Rachel Vail. I was already addicted to writing basically as soon as I was old enough to hold a pen. But I remember reading a Vail book titled Do Over in eighth grade, and I was immediately hooked. I saw so much of myself in the main character (named Whitman), and I still clearly recall how much that book touched and affected me. I wanted to make a similar impact on readers.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

Bookstores of any kind are very necessary, as technology moves us further away from physical books. There’s definitely a time and place for technology, but I’m old school. I still enjoy the feeling of holding an actual novel in my hand, turning the pages, and escaping into another world.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

One of the most difficult things to do as a teen is to be comfortable with yourself. Everyone, everywhere tells you that you must think, or act, or dress, or behave a certain way. Uniqueness is rarely rewarded. Following the crowd just seems easier in school. The main message I want young readers to take away is that it really is okay being yourself. A person is better at being themselves than they can ever be at trying to be someone else.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

For me, personal experience plays a major role. I envy writers who can create a great story out of thin air. I’m not that good (laughs). My story has to be my story. It has to come from my mind and heart, my past experiences. That’s how I write the most effective narrative.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

To me, it starts with the motivation of wanting to tell the right story. I have to be invested in the story and in its message, and then I focus on trying to tell it in an authentic way.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

A lack of connection. If there is nothing connecting me to the characters, I can’t get into the book. When I say connecting, that can be in either a positive or negative way. If a character makes me angry with their behavior, I will continue reading to see if something bad happens to them. Kind of shallow, I know (laughs). I will also continue reading and hoping for good things to happen to characters I like.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

As a teacher (and student) of history and politics, I am a firm believer that no writing should be censored. The exchange of ideas should always be open and free. Writing, at its best, should lead to conversation and self-reflection. But that can’t happen if it is censored.

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

Simplicity. I love complex stories and complex characters. Beyond what characters are doing, I want to know why they are doing it. One-dimensional writing loses me.

Where can people find you and your work?

Check out my website, www.kevin-n-fair.com. Every book bought from the site is personally autographed, and you are automatically entered into a contest where one lucky winner receives a framed, autographed 24”x36” cover poster.

You can also purchase other items from my site such as bookmarks, notebooks, magnets, and (soon) fidget spinners. The preorder for Paper Airplane is also available via Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can also follow me on Twitter @KevinNFair, Facebook, the usual. You can also check out my Amazon and Goodreads pages and follow me there, and my blog will be up and running shortly (as soon as I catch my breath from the start of the school year!). I look forward to hearing from you.

 

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Marc Frazier

 

 

Your Name: Marc Frazier

Genre(s) of your work: poetry, memoir, flash fiction, fiction

 

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Full length poetry books:

The Way Here by Aldrich Press, 2012

Each Thing Touches by Glass Lyre Press, 2015

I have had memoir from my book WITHOUT published in Gravel, The Good Men Project, decomP, Autre Cobalt Magazine and Evening Street Review and Punctuate (forthcoming).

 

 

Bio:

Marc Frazier has widely published poetry in journals including The Spoon River Poetry Review, ACM, Good Men Project, f(r)iction, The Gay and Lesbian Review (forthcoming), Slant, Permafrost, Plainsongs, and Poet Lore. He is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for poetry and has been featured on Verse Daily. His book The Way Here and his two chapbooks are available on Amazon as well as his second full-length collection titled Each Thing Touches (Glass Lyre Press). His website is www.marcfrazier.org 

  

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I have been publishing poetry in journals and online for decades but have also dabbled in prose such as fiction and nonfiction. I have just finished my memoir WITHOUT and am searching for an agent or publisher. Writing prose was so much different than writing poetry. It is difficult to describe. I kept having the feeling the work was never finished. That it always needed more work. I revise and edit poems, sometimes over years, but it doesn’t feel as incomplete as prose does.

  

How has writing changed/altered your life?

I now write full time which has changed my life. I had a teaching career and wrote part time. This is so much better. The ability to live the writer’s life. There is a lot of business to a writing career that people don’t realize: all the time in revising, sending out for publication, tracking submissions, etc.

 

Who are your favorite authors and why?

I would say Virginia Woolf, Laurence Osborne, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Louise Gluck. They all write exquisitely. I especially relate to the beauty of language which I hear in my head.

  

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I have no strong opinion about this

  

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

Something they remember that is significant to their life.

  

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

A great deal although I do write other types of poems, for instance such as persona, ekphrastic and ones based on history or myth that are not I-centered.

  

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

It is just built in. I have to write.

 

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

I simply lose interest or can’t relate to the characters. I like a very tightly written style of writing also and don’t have patience for lengthy ramblings.

  

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

No I do not believe in censorship. I have found that the publishing community can actually be very prudish. Yes, even in 2017. My memoir pieces that contain gay sex are very difficult to place even though they are not overly shocking.

  

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

I don’t believe in self-publishing at all.

Say it once. In the least possible words.

 

Where can people find you and your work?

My poetry books and chapbooks are available on Amazon. My website also has examples of my published writings. Check it out!

 www.marcfrazier.org (website)

https://www.facebook.com/poetmarcfrazier/ (Facebook author page)

https://www.pw.org/content/marc_frazier (Poets & Writers directory)

https://www.amazon.com/Marc-Frazier/e/B00DHX19VG (Amazon)

@marcfrazier45 (Twitter)

marcfrazier-blog (Tumbler)

marcfrazier45 (Instagram)

 

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Renee James

Name: Renee James*

Pseudonym : Renee James*

*Renee James is my female identity and my pen name.

Genre(s) of your work:

Mystery/thriller

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Coming Out Can Be Murder (2012, Windy City Publishing)

Transition to Murder (2014, Magnus Books)

A Kind of Justice (2016, Oceanview Publishing)

Seven Suspects (October 2017, Oceanview Publishing)

Bio:

Renee James is the author of three mystery/thriller novels featuring Bobbi Logan, a transsexual woman with body issues and a penchant for stirring up trouble with bad people. She self-published her first novel, Coming Out Can Be Murder, in 2012 following a long career in magazine publishing. The book won book-of-the-year honors from the Chicago Writers Association and a bronze medal from ForeWord Reviews. She republished it with a plot change in 2014 as Transition to Murder.

Her second book, A Kind of Justice, was released by Oceanview Publishing in October 2016, and Oceanview will release her next book, Seven Suspects, in October 2017.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I like books with plots, so that led me to genre writing, and I favor the Mystery/Thriller genre because it lets me write about characters dealing with moral and ethical issues at times they are under severe stress. Because I emphasize character more than plot, I’m not exactly in the mainstream of either genre, but hopefully, I add some dimension to both.

 

How has writing changed/altered your life?

I’ve always been a writer, but the switch to fiction, circa 2010, was life changing in many ways. It gave me a huge new challenge to pursue—learning a new craft, and a difficult one at that. It gave me license to more fully explore my transgender identity—Renee James isn’t just a pen name, she is part of my identity. And maybe most of all, writing novels has brought me into the company of book people—other authors, agents, editors, reviewers, educators, and many others—and they are, collectively, the most welcoming and supportive people I’ve ever known.

 

Who are your favorite authors and why?

I grew up on John Steinbeck. I love emerging authors like Lori Radar-Day (The Day I Died is the best mystery I’ve read in years) and Rebecca Makkai (The Borrowers is wonderful literary fiction that dares to have a plot). I worship John Grisham’s story-telling genius, and I’m a fan of the big names in the Thriller and Mystery genres, though I tend to fade away after three or four books with the same hero.

 

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

Writers aren’t supposed to admit such things, but my heart was broken when Borders shut down. My local store was a great place to browse, read, sip coffee, meet friends, and just inhale the aroma of books. Barnes & Noble is okay—corporate, not interested in authors like me, but less intimidating than Amazon. Amazon scares me, because of its overwhelming size, and because it already dictates pricing and seems destined to own the book market.

 

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

First and foremost, I hope they enjoy the read and find their time and money well spent with my book. After that, my great hope is, people come away from my books prepared to receive transgender people in their lives the way they would anyone else.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

My first novel was an extension of a fictional diary I wrote when I was contemplating gender transition. I was imagining what my life would have been like if I had transitioned when I was in my thirties. The diary was fictional, but the conflicts, characters and scenes were mostly based on my personal experiences and those of my friends. Even in the subsequent books, my best characters and conflicts are drawn from what I’ve seen and heard in my own life.

 

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

Actually, I don’t always complete a story. I have opening chapters for three or four books in my computer right now, waiting for me to feel like those characters would be good company for a year, give or take. Once I start, though, the story is mostly about the heroine, and I’m motivated to finish the book because that’s how I find out how things turn out for her.

 

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

I need to be interested in at least one character and to have a sense of plot or conflict in the first forty pages or so. A lot of the books I put down fail in that regard, though I’ll add quickly that many of them are probably good books, they just didn’t ring my bell. The other thing that has started to offend me is over-the-top violence, especially in thrillers. It seems like the excesses of Hollywood have spilled over into print, and I sometimes get the feeling the author is using blood and gore to titillate an audience because it’s easier than developing a plot with at least one foot in reality.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

We’ve tried censorship and it just doesn’t work. As a college student, I did a paper on Catcher in the Rye, which was widely censored because Holden Caulfield swore a lot. It was stupid to censor the book that defined an entire generation of readers, but that’s the thing with censorship—the people arrogant enough to think they know what the rest of us should read are people with no boundaries. I think the movie people have a reasonable compromise with the G-R-X rating system, but I don’t think that’s practical for books, given that we give birth to more than a million titles a year in the U.S. alone.

 

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

I’m old and crabby, so I have lots of peeves: the introduction of a blizzard of characters in a chapter, especially the first chapter; backstory dumps (we all do it—tell you more about what happened before the story started than we’re telling you about the story); naming frenzies (even the most minor, single-mention characters get names); meaningless description (if you’re going to tell me what someone is wearing, it should define their character or build mood or make me laugh or cry, but if you’re telling me because you just came from a class on description, I’ll scream!). Most of all, I hate reading my own work a year later, after everything has cooled off, and I can see all the things I should have done instead of what I did.

 

Where can people find you and your work?

My books are on all the comprehensive on-line bookselling sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indie Bound, and I have a very humble, home-made web page: reneejames-author.com.  The email contact form on my page comes directly to me, and I answer all non-junk emails. The best brick-and-mortar store to find my books—and hundreds of other great mysteries and thrillers—is Centuries and Sleuths in Forest Park, IL. If you’re in the area, you owe it to yourself to stop in there anyway—it’s a great store with a great staff.

 

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Margie Mack

 

Name: Margie Mack

Genre(s) of your work: Memoir

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Through the Woods (2014)

My Ship has Sails (2015) 

Leaving Camelot (later this year)

Bio :

My name is Margie Mack. I am a self-published author of 2 books in a series of 4 with the 3rd book coming out at the end of the year. I have a screenplay being optioned for a movie and my books have been part of the “Chicken Soup of the Soul” series and also Oprah Winfrey’s “Leadership School for Girls” in South Africa. I have been married 47 years and have a huge family of 13 members! Life is all about living and listening and sharing and magic and I just can’t get enough!!

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I have found that the memoir genre opens so many stories for so many people. I hear all the time from my readers that they had similar experiences with their families and could really relate to the stories that I have written. Memoirs are more than just a memory they are a glimpse in time to be remembered and cherished.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

Yes! I have always written since I was about 8 years old. But sitting down and getting it out on paper and then have the courage to share it has made me more confident that I am really doing the right thing by writing as I do. It inspires my grandkids to be creative and to be open with their thoughts and talents.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

I love Christina Rossetti, Robert Frost and Truman Capote. A real mixed bag but they all mean something to me. Christina Rossetti and her poetry set me apart from everyday life. I fall into her poems and can imagine being where she writes about.

Robert Frost was the first poet I ever read. “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” captured me at a young age. He taught me that words could rhyme and that they were also beautiful. Truman Capote is such an excellent story teller. He wrote a short story that was turned into a movie called “The Grass Harp.” His characters were alive and rich with soulful essence and it was based I believe on his own life as a child. His ability to write all genres has inspired me to do the same.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

They have their purpose. It is like being in a click of some sort. Everyone wants in but rarely does the self-published author get an invitation to be a part of that club. They are a necessary evil for now but I am hoping that the independent bookstores will begin to flourish.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

Laughter, tears and healing. I hope that they read my stories and remember their own life with their own families. The mind is a funny thing. If it is stimulated in the right way all sorts of good things can happen.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

100%! Even the novel that I intend to write will always have something of me in it. Personal experience is what gives us our hootspa to take the steps that we are normally afraid to take and to write what we really feel down on paper.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

Oh, there are times I need to sit down and look at myself in the mirror and ask what am I waiting for? I grab my headphones, turn on the music that I have chosen for that book and that usually does the trick. Sometimes I seek out a family member and start a conversation about that time in my life and then the juices begin to flow.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

If it is senseless. Meaning, if I cannot be stirred or enticed to turn the page then I put it away on the shelf. I am not a book snob but I want a book that will make me think about it at night, think about it more than what I am currently writing and make me wished to God that I had all the time to just sit and read it to the last glorious page.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

Not really. There is an audience for everything under the sun. For me, I stay away from graphic sex novels and needless horror stories. I love a good scare and less is always more during sex so I guess it is to each his own.

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

No. I am not perfect and I do not expect anyone else to be either. I do not read a book to critique it.

Where can people find you and your work?

Amazon, at local libraries, my publisher, createspace, on my Facebook page and a new website that is almost finished.

https://www.facebook.com/Margiemackamazinglifewriter/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1496067215

http://www.amazon.com/My-Ship-has-Sails-2/dp/1514172208

mack.margie@gmail.com

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Terry John Malik

 

Name: Terry John Malik

Pseudonym : NONE

Genre(s) of your work: Crime/thriller; mystery; psychological thriller

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

The Bricklayer of Albany Park. Release date, August 22, 2017

Publisher – Amphorae Publishing under imprint of Blank Slate Press

 

Bio:

TERRY JOHN MALIK is a Chicagoan to the core. Born and raised in

the city he loves, son of a Chicago fireman, he now explores the back streets and dark alleys of the city’s imagination.

Mr. Malik is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame where he majored in English, and a graduate of Loyola University School of Law.  Terry taught English for several years; designed computer systems for an international accounting firm; worked with distressed borrowers as a banker for the largest bank in Chicago; practiced law for twenty-eight years; became the president and head master of a financially troubled high school; administered a foundation that provided scholarship funds for disadvantaged inner city girls; and created websites for local merchants and non-profits.

Throughout his many careers, he has continued to hone his writing skills and never lost his passion for a story well told. Terry has two more thrillers in the works, weaving his stories of killers and cops while sitting on a beach on Sanibel Island.

Book Synopsis

Detective Francis Vincenti, a Chicago cop with an uncanny insight to a killer’s psyche, is tracking a homicidal monster—The Bricklayer of Albany Park. Driven by a mission of revenge, the killer targets victims he believes are sinners deserving of punishment. He kills without remorse, delivering a message with each kill. Wrapping his victims in a shroud of blue, he buries them under piles of bricks at construction sites in the peaceful Chicago neighborhood of Albany Park, always leaving behind a “memento” taunting police. The killer eludes Vincenti, and the body count grows.

Vincneti who left behind a troubled youth, tormented by an alcoholic father, is known for solving the city’s most bizarre and macabre murders. But in this case, the chase becomes personal as Vincenti puts his marriage—and his sanity—at risk. He turns for help to Thomas Aquinas Foster, his mentor and father figure. Foster—a gruff former Chicago PD detective with a tainted soul and his own self-righteous brand of justice—guides Vincenti through the dark, twisted paths of the human soul.

 

How did you start writing? 

Prior to November 2014, I had never written a word of fiction, although some judges mistakenly claimed I did (I’m a lawyer). So, how did I get here? Polite friends have called it an “odyssey.” I call it, “well-timed accidents mixed with equal measures of luck, unintended consequences and serendipity.”

After having lived my entire life in Chicagoland, my wife and I moved to Sanibel Island in 2012. After a couple of years, I grew restless and anxious to meet more people on the island and participate in its varied cultural opportunities. But, which one? There were plenty to choose from. But then I noticed that the Sanibel Library was co-sponsoring the “Sanibel Island Writers Conference,” an annual event sponsored by Florida Gulf Coast University. The list of speakers seemed impressive, so I signed up.

There were social events, breakfasts, lunches and end-of-day wine and hors d’oeuvres soirées (disappointingly, no Irish Whiskey). I met and got to know many of my fellow conferees. Seemed like many of them wanted to write the Great American novel—a noble and ambitious undertaking, but it’s been done; many wanted to delve into the meaning of life and share it with their readers—I already knew the meaning: make your deeds match your words, and your words match your values; forgive your enemies, but remember their names; and store your vodka in the freezer.

I signed up for something that looked interesting, “How to Write a Strong Narrator.” An excellent session. I mean, how can it be bad when the instructor starts the class with Woody Allen’s opening of Annie Hall? Two elderly women at a resort in the Catskills: “The food at this place is really terrible.” “Yeah, I know, and such small portions.”

 For homework, we were told to rewrite the opening of one of our manuscripts (I didn’t have one) or start a new manuscript applying the lessons of the class. Since I wasn’t serious about writing anything and I wanted to come up with something that was “in your face” to the intellectually serious attendees, I wrote five paragraphs that were, well, edgy and dark. The next morning we were required to stand in front of the class and read what we had written. The first dozen or so aspiring authors’ offerings were critiqued by the class, and the instructor also gave in-depth analysis—some good criticism some not, usually took about five minutes.

Now, my turn—let’s see what they think of the new Stephen King. I was anxious to hear their comments—I was ready with a fistful of smart alec answers for every potential comment. I finished, snickering to myself and anxious for the nightly soirée. First, a moment of silence, then applause. Huh? Didn’t they hear what I just read? Applause? None of the previous students got applause. What was wrong with these people? Didn’t they realize I meant it to be an “in your face” piece? When the applause died done, the instructor said (really), “Holy crap, I want to see the rest of that manuscript.” Huh? That’s it, buddy. Five paragraphs.

I went home and told my wife, Cathy, what had happened. She said, “So, write the damn book.” Thus, the birth of The Bricklayer of Albany Park. Like I said—well-timed accidents mixed with equal measures of luck, unintended consequences and serendipity.

 

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

Big fan of Thomas Harris.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

I now live on Sanibel Island. Every day I walk the beach, but now while I walk I think of new plots, new twists and turns, more characters and more jaw-dropping endings.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Above all, Bricklayer is intended to be a psychological thriller. Interestingly enough, I haven’t really read many of that genre; maybe “Gone Girl” and “The Girl on the Train,” but not many others.

Before I moved to Sanibel Island, my reading was equally balanced between history and biographies on one hand, and spy and crime novels on the other. LeCarre, Ludlum (rereading really), Clancy, Higgins, Grisham, Patterson, Crichton, Harris, Brown, everything Eric Lawson writes and Jeff Sahara’s historical fiction. While I was practicing law, I typically would read four books at same time (not literally), finishing two a week. I eventually got tired of it.

But as to describe Bricklayer in terms of other writers, books and TV, I’d say the book’s recipe incorporates ingredients of Thomas Harris, Lawson’s “Devil in the White City” and the television series, “Criminal Minds.”  In fact, Vincenti is somewhat similar to Harris’s Will Graham in “Red Dragon.” Both can get into a killer’s psyche with emotional detachment. Lawson weaves murder and Chicago scenes and history into a psychological thriller of murder and horror.  And, Criminal Minds focuses heavily on abnormal psychology.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

Too big to give appropriate and sufficient attention to indie authors; and publishers; reluctant to host signings for debut authors.

 

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

Bricklayer is not the great American novel nor does it seek the meaning of life. I want them to walk away with insight into the psyche of troubled killers and cops.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

Certain characters may resemble people in my life. I knew an older fellow named Thomas Aquinas (last name deleted); Foster, a disgraced co who aids the protagonist) has many of the same characteristics, habits and idiosyncrasies, especially his love of cigars and Irish whiskey.

Francis Vincenti’s (the protagonist) alcoholic father is in some ways like my father. Beth (Vincenti’s unfaithful wife) is based on an aggressive associate in my law firm who struggled with drug abuse, was well known to have affairs with partners and came from California. Sean Kelly’s (Vincenti’s partner) family: every Irish Catholic family in my old neighborhood and parish.

 I gave Francis an Italian last name because the neighborhood around Newland and Grand Avenue in the city, is heavily Italian, Irish and Polish. It is the neighborhood where I grew up. I placed his house and garage on 2538 Newland Avenue, which is the parking lot of my childhood parish, St. William. The description of Vincenti’s house, a typical Chicago bungalow, is actually my wife’s Italian grandparents’ house and garage. It’s located at Oak Park Avenue and Grand Avenue—three blocks west of 2538 Newland.

There are some tidbits I “planted” in the book for the true-crime, serial-killer aficionados: the address for Henry’s apartment house on Summerdale is actually the address of John Wayne Gacy; The Borderline Pub (John Matheny of Baltimore; killer of 8 women; cannibal; inspired Harris’s Hannibal “the cannibal” Lector) and The White Shutters Lounge (Gary Ridgeway, the Green River Killer) are actual places where those serial killers picked up their female victims; Ridgeway drove a green Toyota pickup with a primer paint spot on the passenger-side door; it’s how a witness identified him—Ridgeway confessed to killing forty-eight young girls (police say it’s more like ninety or so). There are other little items like this sprinkled throughout the book.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

Shallow characters. Stilted dialogue. No action.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

The only topics that are taboo are the ones I haven’t thought of yet.

Where can people find you and your work?

Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/Bricklayer-Albany-Park-Terry-Malik/dp/1943075344/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1491582539&sr=1-1&keywords=terry+john+malik

Barnes & Noble

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-bricklayer-of-albany-park-terry-john-malik/1126188495?ean=9781943075348

Website

http://www.terryjohnmalik.com

Book Signings

BookStore1 – Sarasota; August 29

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nancy-sullivan-terry-malik-tickets-36234509393

Petterino’s – Chicago; September 26

The Book Cellar – Chicago; October 18

 

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Susan Bass Marcus

Name: Susan Bass Marcus

Genre(s) of your work: Fantasy fiction, speculative fiction, contemporary fairy tales

 Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Former museum professional and puppetry artist, Susan Bass Marcus published her fantasy novel, Malevir: Dragons Return in 2015 with Mill City Press. She hopes to launch the sequel, Where Dragons Follow by year’s end, 2017.

Her stories have been published in After Hours (print), bewilderingstories.com, http://www.horrorseek.com/home/horror/darkfire/ficarch.html, http://www.fictitiousthejournal.org/, and the Fall Fantasy Anthology out of Cloaked Press in Autumn, 2017.

Bio:

All my graduate degrees are in the humanities, for which much writing was required; and I have spent most of my adult life writing texts for work or for performance, e.g. scripts. Having moved on from two overlapping careers, puppet theater and museum education, I am investing most of my creativity in short and novel-length fiction. I love to draw and am devoting a lot of my time not only to editing my writings but also making images of dragons based on characters in my books.

My native language is English. I am fluent in French and Italian and can manage in Spanish.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I write what I enjoy reading, although my preferences betray an eclectic taste for literature and non-fiction, too. Fantasy fiction invites the reader to suspend all sorts of disbelief. Although surely other writers in the genre have influenced the direction my imagination takes, my characters and the world I build in my novels are original. They be anything I want them to be.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

Even if I have been an avid reader all my life, I did not read to dissect another author’s technique and skills. The narratives interested me more than structure. Now, especially when I read short stories, I’m always asking myself, “How did he/she do that? Why did this story work (or not)?”

On a larger scale, hmmm, in the past, people knew me via a lot of different identities—mom/sister/daughter; student; volunteer; museum professional; and puppetry artist. As a writer, my identity has expanded to embrace so much more: a writer is a student of the world (and Beyond!) whose imagination and communications can reach more people in many different ways. Writing has unlocked the gate to a much larger estate.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Too many to name, but I will say that Karen Russell’s short stories and novels gave me permission to explore surreal naturalism. Her work is quirky and terrifically engaging.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

They serve a purpose, but I love my own neighborhood indie bookstore.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

Curiosity about Dragonwolder, the world I’ve been building in the Malevir trilogy.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

Where Dragons Follow explores the effects of PTSD, albeit in a land and time far removed from that diagnosis. A member of my family is a therapist whose research has given me insights into a psychological state greatly affecting a large segment of our population and people I know.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

The kernel of a story germinates in my imagination. From that point on, I can’t resist finding a way to learn how the story ends.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

Tedious, self-important, irrelevant writing.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

No

Where can people find you and your work?

Website: www.malevir.com;

My blog: AboutSusanBassMarcus https://susanbassmarcus.wordpress.com

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/MalevirDragonsReturn

Twitter feed: @AuthorSMarcus

And on Goodreads. I have an author page there and on Amazon.

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Ronald Mason

Name: Ronald Mason

Pseudonym : R. Will Mason (I am not currently utilizing this name on my books but rather on some of my poetry and songs).

Genre(s) of your work: My book that is currently for sale on Amazon Kindle Direct is a poetry book. I am in the process of writing my autobiography book which hopefully will be available within a few more months. My autobiography will be a tell all book. An insiders point of view of the life, trials, and tribulations of a State Trooper.

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Behold the Rainbow After the Rain. I published it in May 2017 on Amazon Kindle Direct publishing.

 Bio:

I am a recently retired, father of three sons and married to my love of my life. I lost my youngest son this past January 2017. I worked in the law enforcement profession for almost 19 years. I was forced into early retirement due to an on-duty injury.

I have enjoyed a passion for poetry since I was in first grade and was introduced to poetry by my first grade teacher. I have written hundreds of poems during my lifetime though until recently none of which were published.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I feel that sometimes it is difficult to express certain feelings verbally. By putting pen to paper, so to speak, it is much easier for me to convey a message, feeling, or describe a situation.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

It has made it easier for me to express my inner most thoughts and feelings.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Stephen King is my favorite author. I like a good thriller and in my opinion he is the master of thriller / horror books.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I still love to go into a real, honest to goodness, bookstore like Books a Million and browse. I worry that one day, in the not too distant future, real bookstores will cease to exist.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

I hope that my readers will understand my message(s). I hope to convey my personal feelings and thoughts about a particular subject, whether that subject would be bullying, abuse, heartbreak, love, etc.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

Everything, absolutely everything. I normally only write about things that I myself have personally experienced or dealt with. Either in my personal life or professional life. So basically when someone reads one of my poems or my books they are getting a first hand glimpse at my inner soul, which includes my inner demons, (whatever they may be), my hopes, fears, loves, aspirations, desperation, etc.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

Well for the most part I normally don’t suffer from writers block so actually writing down my thoughts in poetry form is not too hard. Now my hardest part of writing my first book was the actual proof-reading, formatting, spell checking, and preparing the book for publication. That in my opinion was an absolute nightmare. But the motivation for writing a book has never been hard for me to find, I’m only telling my life story through my words.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

Normally when I start to read a book I finish it. The few times that I’ve started reading a book and didn’t finish it I would say was because I became bored with the plot.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

No not really. I mean I do believe that some books shouldn’t be available to youth. Some of the love story books that I’ve heard my wife mention shouldn’t be read by children.

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

Not really.

Where can people find you and your work?

My link to my Amazon Kindle Authors page.

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

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Patricia Moore

Name: Patricia Moore

Genre of your work:  Children’s picture books and poetry for adults

Titles of Published Works:

Please, Miss Gooding!

Just A Servant

First Winter

The Angel With One Wing

Bio:

I have been writing for over 20 years.  I have won the Writer’s Digest Competition 3 times.  The first time was the most exciting! I am married with four grown children and two grandchildren. And we have a much loved cat named Midnight.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

 I worked as a preschool teacher and found that picture books were fascinating. I was encouraged to write for children when I heard a children’s author speak at my local library. I left his talk thinking, “I can write a children’s book!”

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

 That life is beautiful and has meaning.

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

 I dislike it when a writer can communicate something in 20 words and then expands their writing to 50 words. Too many unnecessary words!

Who are your favorite authors and why?

 One of my favorite authors is Tomie de Paola. I love his art and how his picture books are uplifting.

How has writing changed/altered your life?  

 It has brought me interesting friends who are fellow writers.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

 If the beginning is very slow. I lose interest then.

Do you believe writing should be censored-that some topics should remain taboo?

 Since I write for young children I think censoring is acceptable.

Where can people find you and your work?

My website:  patriciaamoore.wix.com/home

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/justaservantboy

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Andrew G. Nelson

Name: Andrew G. Nelson

Genre(s) of your work: Mystery / Suspense

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Perfect Pawn (2013)

Queen’s Gambit (2014)

Small Town Secrets (2014)

Bishop’s Gate (2015)

Little Boy Lost (2015)

Cold Case: Katherine White Murder (2015)

Knight Fall (2016)

Bio:

Andrew G. Nelson is a twenty-two year law enforcement veteran and a graduate of the State University of New York. He served twenty years with the New York City Police Department during which time he served as a detective in the elite Intelligence Division providing protection to visiting dignitaries.  He retired in 2005 with the rank of sergeant.

He is the author of the James Maguire and Alex Taylor book series’, as well as the non-fiction works: Uncommon Valor & Uncommon Valor II, which chronicle the insignia of the NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit.

What prompted you to become a writer?

I’d like to say that it had always been my passion, but the truth is that my writing career began as a dare. Back around 2000 my wife and I were having a discussion about books, as we are both avid readers. She said that she believed that it would be hard to write one and I disagreed. Having spent much of my law enforcement career producing investigative reports I felt that it was just a matter of ‘painting a picture’ with words. She made a bet with me that I couldn’t do it and I wrote her a brief story. She was shocked when she read it and repeatedly asked me to continue it.

Then 9/11 happened and our world was thrown into a tailspin. Tack on some other issues and my retirement and I just never got around to finishing it. Then in 2012, she finally broke me and I began writing again. My first book, Perfect Pawn, was based on the original story concept I had started over a decade earlier.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

A long time ago I heard a comment that you should always ‘write what you know’ and it sounded like great advice. I feel that having been in law enforcement allows me to open that world to the reader.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

Overall I would have to say that it has given me an outlet for both the factual stories, as well as the imaginary ones, in my head. I enjoy sitting down and creating something that will last long after I am gone.

Who are your favorite authors and why? 

That’s actually a tough question, because there are so many and each has a different style of writing.  I grew up with a book in my hand, from Sci-Fi stuff by authors like James Blish (Star Trek) to Don Pendleton’s The Executioner. If I were going off of strict character development I would say my all-time favorites are Frank Herbert and Tom Clancy, who, on top of being fabulous story tellers, give their characters a lot of breadth and depth. I also enjoy earlier James Patterson stuff and Robert B. Parker.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

As a reader: Honestly, I have mixed feelings about. In my youth I had a love affair with the local mom & pop book stores. I could spend hours just browsing the shelves seeking out new worlds and places to visit. I remember my excitement of finding a new book from a favorite author. Sadly, that feeling changed with the advent of the corporate book stores. They don’t have that same feel anymore. Now I find that I am more apt to find something online.

As a writer: My thought is that only Amazon has embraced all authors, both traditionally published & indie, while the others seem to be more rigid. I had a bit of a time with Barnes & Noble in the beginning which soured me to the point that I removed all my e-Books from them and now list those exclusively through Amazon.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

Well, first and foremost, I hope they enjoy the overall stories, but I also hope that they become invested in the characters. One of the greatest compliments I ever received was when a reader told me that they actually cried over one of the ‘bad’ characters. It meant a lot to me because I knew that that I had gotten them to look beyond the immediate issues and to accept that things are not always so black and white. If I can get the reader to empathize with a character that means I have given you more than just words on a page.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

I would say that it is probably the leading factor in my writing. I draw a lot from my experiences, not only with the NYPD, but also my time with a local sheriff’s office. I think it gave me the ability to see things from the perspective of both the big and small departments.  There’s a certain level of comradery that I want to come through to the reader. Cops are human beings, they are not the ‘just the facts, ma’am,’ characters. They have real issues, real demons and real conversations with one another and I want the reader to understand that.

What was you reason for writing two different series?

My first book introduced the main character of James Maguire. Maguire is a former Navy SEAL and a retired NYPD detective. He is one of those ‘quiet professionals’ whom the reader grows to expect a certain response from, based on the storyline. As I was writing the sequel, Queen’s Gambit, I toyed with the idea of doing a short story for my readers. It amounted to about a 25k word novella and introduced a new character, Alex Taylor. This character was the antithesis of Maguire: brash, troubled & wholly unapologetic; the Yin to Maguire’s Yang. What I couldn’t get away with Maguire I could with Taylor and I found that I really enjoyed switching back and forth between the two.

While all of the books are technically stand-alone, parts of the stories actually interweave between the two series, including the relationship between Maguire and Taylor, who were once partners in the NYPD.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

If you are asking about a book that I am writing, once I get the plot idea I sit down and create a chapter by chapter ‘talking points’ outline. I like to think of that as the black lines of a coloring book picture. Once I have the overall story sketched out, then I go back and color it all in. Along the way I generally add some chapters, but I can’t even begin to write unless I have the overall journey from points ‘A’ to ‘Z’ fleshed out. Then when I have that completed I sit down and proceed to write it by chapter.

I know some authors bounce around, but for each chapter I have to stay in the moment. I will write for as long as the voices are in my head, but once they quiet down I have learned to walk away. In the beginning I tried to force the conversation, but I just went back and deleted it during the review phase. Now I’m smart enough to just go and play a video game or stir up trouble on Twitter until they come back.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

Sadly, I have a stack of them. Generally, I give a book about three chapters. If you can’t hook me by then, or if the writing is just that hard, I’m done.  Depending on the genre I will ask my wife to try her hand at it. Sometimes a book just needs new eyes and I’m a firm believer in that not every book is going to have the same reader.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

No, not at all. If we began censoring topics than I am pretty sure we wouldn’t have Nabokov’s Lolita. My personal belief is that if you want to establish a list of taboo subjects that need a disclaimer that it contains mature topics, fine. I’m not against warning a person that there might be sensitive subjects covered in a book, but I am strongly against censoring it outright.  To me it is a very slippery slope, because once you start a list it becomes infinitely easier to add to it.  As a former police officer I have seen man’s inhumanity to man first hand. To pretend that this stuff doesn’t happen is absurd.

Any pet peeves in writing?

When it comes to my writing? Hearing someone go on about how much they loved your books, yet they never leave a review! C’mon folks, hook an author up! I mean it’s not like we are making Patterson money off these books, so a kind review is probably the only joy we are going to get.

In reading other authors work? Grammar! No, not the Oxford comma stuff, but the full-fledged ‘I’ve been reading this same paragraph for fifteen minutes and it is all one sentence’ kind of stuff. I love the fact that it is becoming easier for indie authors to publish their work, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone should.  I think it is one of the reasons that make it so hard for indie authors to get the respect they deserve, because most readers have come across that one abomination that seems to taint an entire group. Then again my wife was reading one of George R.R. Martin’s books and she came across a sentence that said: “Rape the windows…….” Ouch !!

Where can people find you and your work?

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Andrew-G.-Nelson/e/B00G7T0LTI

Barnes & Noble: https://tinyurl.com/y7eo5f8m

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Andrew-Nelson-168310343376572/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Andrew_G_Nelson

Blog: http://andrewgnelson.blogspot.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/AndrewGNelson

 

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Victoria Noe

 

Name: Victoria Noe

Genre(s) of your work: Nonfiction

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Friend Grief and Anger: When Your Friend Dies and No One Gives A Damn (2013)

Friend Grief and AIDS: Thirty Years of Burying Our Friends (2013; 2nd edition – 2017)

Friend Grief and 9/11: The Forgotten Mourners (2013)

Friend Grief and the Military: Band of Friends (2014)

Friend Grief in the Workplace: More Than an Empty Cubicle (2015)

Friend Grief and Men: Defying Stereotypes (2016)

Fag Hags, Divas and Moms: The Legacy of Straight Women in the AIDS Community (2018)

 

Bio :

I’ve been a writer most of my life, but didn’t admit it until 2009.

After earning a master’s degree in Speech and Dramatic Art from the University of Iowa, I moved to Chicago, where I worked professionally as a stage manager, director and administrator in addition to being a founding board member of the League of Chicago Theatres. I discovered I was good at fundraising, and ventured out on my own, raising millions for arts, educational and AIDS service organizations, and later became an award-winning sales consultant of children’s books. But when a concussion ended my sales career, I decided to finally keep a promise to a dying friend to write a book.

That book became a series of small books. The first three – Friend Grief and Anger: When Your Friend Dies and No One Gives A Damn; Friend Grief and AIDS: Thirty Years of Burying Our Friends and Friend Grief and 9/11: The Forgotten Mourners were published in 2013. Friend Grief and the Military: Band of Friends (Honorable Mention, Chicago Writers Association 2014 Book of the Year), was published in 2014. Friend Grief in the Workplace: More Than an Empty Cubicle was published in 2015 and the final book in the series, Friend Grief and Men: Defying Stereotypes, was released on 2016.

I’m currently working on a more challenging book: Fag Hags, Divas and Moms: The Legacy of Straight Women in the AIDS Community, coming in 2018. It’s a labor of love for me to recognize the contributions of amazing women from around the world who stepped up to the challenge of fighting this devastating virus.

 

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

In 2006, I told my friend Delle Chatman that I had an idea for a book: stories about people grieving their friends. She was in remission from ovarian cancer for the second time and certainly understood my motivation. As usual, she was quite enthusiastic about my idea, despite the fact that I’d never written anything except fan fiction in high school and grant proposals for nonprofit clients. She died about six months later. I don’t think I have the imagination to write good fiction.

 

How has writing changed/altered your life?

This is my fourth career (theatre, fundraising and publisher’s rep) and I never expected to be doing this at this age. I knew less than nothing about writing, much less self-publishing, so I’ve had a steep learning curve. But despite having a master’s degree in theatre, not psychology, I’ve carved a niche as a go-to person when discussing grieving the death of a friend. It has also brought me back in the HIV/AIDS community after a long absence, energizing me in ways I could never have predicted. I honestly feel it’s given me a new purpose in life.

 

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Shakespeare will always be #1. The plays – most of them – have always appealed to me, but I have a theatre background and that may be why. In fact, I think more people would love Shakespeare if they saw performances rather than start out trying to just read the plays. They’re meant to come to life on stage! As for prose writers, Dorothy Sayers, Armistead Maupin, Sara Paretsky, J. K. Rowling, W.P. Kinsella because all of them have written memorable characters with a clear sense of purpose and unique sense of place. I feel like their books are full of real people I would love to call my friends.

 

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I love bookstores, period. The only big guys left are Barnes & Noble, which has always seemed to struggle with their place in the book world. I hope they succeed. But I’m partial to indie bookstores, partly because they’ve been so generous with their support of me. In turn, I support them: I volunteer, I’m a member, I spend money at them, I offer programs that might interest their customers. And that may be the biggest advantage to indie bookstores: the opportunity to build and maintain relationships. I think that’s where the big guys fail. My favorite indie stores are Women & Children First (Chicago), Strand, Housing Works and Bureau of General Services-Queer Division (NYC), Powerhouse (Brooklyn), Left Bank (St. Louis).

 

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

Occasionally someone looks at one of my books and says, “Oh, that’s depressing.” And though some of the stories are sad, they’re not depressing. There’s even a fair amount of humor. The Friend Grief books are a collection of stories about real people whose friendships meant the world to them. They’re men and women who struggle with their grief at times, but ultimately find ways to live their lives in ways that honor their friends. So I hope that as readers identify with the stories, they’ll find ways to treasure their friendships. Nothing makes me happier than when someone reads one of my books and says, “You get it.”

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

Well, personal experience got me started. If it wasn’t for the promise I made to Delle and the ways she haunted me after she died, I never would’ve written them. But I knew from the beginning that these books couldn’t be about me. They had to be about other people, people who aren’t like me. In order to prove that grieving a friend is as life-changing as grieving a family member, I had to find people with stories to share.

With the next book, it’s the same thing. I am a straight woman who has worked in the HIV/AIDS community off and on since the early years of the epidemic. But there are thousands of us around the world whose stories have not been told. When I interview women we have that shared experience, even if our lives are very different. It helps establish trust. Telling their stories is – if I may be so bold – like Hidden Figures: women who mostly worked in near-obscurity, but whose contributions have changed the course of the epidemic and saved thousands of lives.

Maybe I was a therapist in a previous life, because the people I’ve interviewed have opened up to me in surprising and sometimes dramatic ways. If they hadn’t, there would be no books.

 How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

Number one, I hate unfinished projects. I have too many of those in my personal life! Mostly I’m motivated because I feel a deep sense of responsibility to the people in my books: to share their stories and to give them the recognition they deserve. I don’t want to let them down.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

If it’s fiction, I don’t finish if I lose interest in the protagonist or the plot is too convoluted.

 

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

 I repped two children’s book publishers for 15 years. I think there is an obvious need for age-appropriate subject matter for kids, though we often underestimate their ability to understand complex subjects. In trying to shield them from the world, we sometimes hamper their ability to deal with it. Any subject can be covered in a simple, clear, non-judgmental way so kids can understand them. That said, I’m not interested in censoring anyone’s writing. I may not agree with it, I may find it disgusting or dangerous. But unless it breaks a law, it’s not my place to stop it.

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

Typos and bad editing – problems I find in traditionally published books as well as self-published.

 

Where can people find you and your work?

My website is www.victorianoe.com. I blog there once/week.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Victoria-Noe/e/B00C02LTRE/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/%22Victoria%20Noe%22?Ntk=P_key_Contributor_List&Ns=P_Sales_Rank&Ntx=mode+matchall

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?Query=victoria+noe

Indiebound: https://www.indiebound.org/search/book?keys=victori%20anoe

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=victoria%20noe&c=books&hl=en

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/victoria-noe/id1258219776?mt=11

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Victoria_Noe

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vikinoechikow/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/VictoriaNoe/

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Christie Valentine Powell

 

Name: Christie Valentine Powell

Genre(s) of your work: YA fantasy

 

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

The Spectra: Keita’s Wings series

#1 The Spectra Unearthed 2015

#2 The Spectra United 2016

#3 The Spectra Uprooted 2017 (comes out Sept 5th)

 

Bio:

Christie Valentine Powell wrote her first story in second grade, and she has been writing ever since. Her other hobbies include making toys, hobby farming, and eating at Asian buffets. She lives near the sunniest city in the world with her husband, four children, and many chickens.

 

 

 Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I enjoy the fantasy genre because I like to make things up :). I like to create and explore ideas without being bound by reality. 

 

How has writing changed/altered your life?

Writing gives me a chance to play like a child in a grownup world and gives me control in a crazy one.

 

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

I hope they see life a little richer. CS Lewis says that reading about enchanted woods make all woods a little enchanted. I hope they learn a new way to look at the world. I also like to use characters that don’t appear as often in YA fantasy in particular (realistic children, elderly, parents, etc), so I’m hoping to give them a better glimpse of other age groups that don’t always show up in YA fiction or even real life.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

I wish I remember the author who said that the mind is like a compost heap. All of your experiences go in, get mixed around and changed, and stories grow out of it. All ideas come from personal experience, whether the author is aware of it or not.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

It’s fun! The more you work on the story, the more it forms into the work it was meant to be. It’s amazing to see the pieces come together and become its own living entity. 

 

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

Personally, either inappropriate content or not caring enough about the characters. I rarely put one down.

 

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

If you feel the need to write about something, go ahead. If other readers feel the need to read it, go ahead. But I’m going to censor some topics that I’m not comfortable with, and there are some settings (schools especially) where there should be some guidelines. 

 

 

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

The hardest thing for me is going back to drafting once I’ve been editing, because they are completely different mindsets. 

 

Where can people find you and your work?

facebook: TheSpectraBooks 

twitter: @TheSpectraBooks

website: http://www.thespectrabooks.com/

amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&text=Christie+Valentine+Powell&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=Christie+Valentine+Powell&sort=relevancerank

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Georgann Prochaska

 

Name:   Georgann Prochaska

Genre(s) of your work:   Fiction – Mystery

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

The Case of the Girl Who Didn’t Smile, 2015

The Case of the Hound Who Didn’t Stay, 2016

The Case of the Ex Who Plotted Revenge, 2017

I also wrote a memoir about Alzheimer’s Disease and care-giving:  On Little Cat Feet, 2014

Bio:

For thirty-four years, I taught high school outside of Chicago.  After I retired, I became a caregiver for my mother and aunt.  They both loved to tell stories of coming to America from Scotland, and together we worked on genealogy.  After they passed, I collected those stories for a family book, Just a Memory Away.  Not done with writing, I moved on to telling the story of being a caregiver.  Then came my first love – mystery writing.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

As a kid, I read mysteries.  They fit my mindset of someone cutting through chaos. My reading of mysteries continued. Decades later my mother had Alzheimer’s Disease.  After she passed, I discovered secrets she squirreled away. I developed an understanding of some family members. After I wrote a memoir of my time as a caregiver, I followed my path back to mysteries, to the influence of hidden events.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

When I can’t sleep at night, it gives me an excuse?  Really, I’m learning about a whole new world.  I’ve met wonderful independent writers of all genres.  I’m still piecing together the business side of writing, but people are helpful and willing to share.

Who are your favorite authors and why? 

Sara Paretsky, Sarah Vowell, Walter Mosley, Sue Grafton, Anne Perry, Kerry Greenwood. I admire their storytelling but also the blending of dire and humor.

Probably the biggest influence, however, is Sandy Cisneros’s “The Rice Sandwich.”  The character reflects on people being made up of all their years.  We are like an onion.  Sometimes our decisions or reactions are true to our three-year-old selves.  One of my characters who is in her sixties, Lena, at times responds as a wild, sixteen-year-old; those decisions generally land her in trouble.  Alice, however, absorbs detail like a curious middle schooler.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I’ve been able to convince a couple of mainstream bookstores to shelf my books.  It involved begging.  Seriously, I think as new independent authors we sometimes forget the other side of wanting to be published – the business.  For corporate bookstores, it must be easier to work with an agented author with a publicist getting the word out. Networking is time consuming.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

The focus of The Case of the Girl Who Didn’t Smile is a neglected child. Although she finds herself in a terrible situation, accused of arson and murder, a quiet community stands ready to help.  Lena would call that a posse while Alice’s experience sees people weaving into our lives at a time we need them most. My two sleuths can be goofy, but there is strength in bedrock friendships.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

The short answer is my friends know when they do something silly, they might appear in the next book as Lena.

But, I’ve also spent years working on genealogy.  When naming a character is giving me grief, I turn to family names. That’s also true for some story-lines and motives.  A child’s loss runs through my stories (the loss of parents, childhood trauma, neglect), and these children are shaped by the experience, sometimes becoming stronger.  In doing genealogy the surprise for me is how childhood emptiness can carry into the next generation.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

The story is in my head before I begin to write.  One author told me she never leaves the garage unless she has a destination.  I find that helpful advice.  And then there are those pesky character voices pushing me to tell their story.  I am currently working on the fourth book in the series, but five and six have found filing space in my mind.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

Preaching and lengthy description.  Otherwise I read most everything.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

Reviews matter. I don’t envy the work librarians do. Works shouldn’t be censored, but they should be directed to the right audience.  I don’t want gross scenes or grotesque violence shoved in my face. But other people prefer noisy, screaming writing. Not me.

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

I’m not a fan of simple answers. Flawed characters with messy lives are much more interesting. Order is good. Glorying in perfection? Not so much.

Where can people find you and your work?

Website: outskirtspress.com/TheCaseoftheExWhoPlottedRevenge

Blog:  weavingmysteries.blogspot.com

Facebook: facebook.com/GeorgannProchaska

Twitter: twitter.com/lenaandalice

E-books available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

 

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Richard Rybicki

Name:  Richard Rybicki

Genre(s) of your work: Crime/Thriller/Mystery

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

          The Pain Game, 2016

Bio:

Richard Rybicki retired from the Chicago Police Department after 29 years of service. Throughout his career he enjoyed sharing ‘war stories’ of his and his fellow law enforcement officers’ experiences.  Those stories, many humorous, helped him and his co-workers cope with the demands of modern-day police work.

After he retired, his love for the art of storytelling continued.  He satisfied his craving for a good story by writing his own.  His first book, The Pain Game, was published in 2016 and introduced the character of Sam Laska, a disgraced former Chicago Police detective living in Florida.  He continues the adventures of Sam in the second installment of the Laska Crime Thriller series in his current work, Where the Road Leads.

Richard Rybicki served in numerous assignments throughout his career, including:  Patrol Officer, Tactical Officer, Gang Crimes Specialist, Detective, Patrol Sergeant, Detective Sergeant, Patrol Lieutenant, and Detective Lieutenant.  His last assignment was as the Lieutenant/commanding officer of the Area Three Homicide/Sex/Gang Crimes unit of the Detective Division.

Upon retiring from the CPD and re-locating to the west coast of Florida he taught Crime Scene Technology, sharing his accumulated knowledge and experience with his students, at a small, private university.

In 2012 he retired again, this time permanently (he hopes), and pursues his love of storytelling through his writing.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

It’s always been my favorite genre to read and, considering my bio, it’s what I have the most interest in.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

I’ve always had the itch to write but I always made excuses for not doing it. (I was too busy, I wasn’t sure I had any talent, I was afraid of the inevitable criticism).  I overcame those excuses and got down to it.  I found it gives me an outlet for ‘artistic expression’ and kind of gives me a way to ‘stay in the game’ of police work.

A lot of what I write is comes from experiences I’ve had.  It hasn’t really changed anything major in my life other than a feeling of personal accomplishment (which I’ve missed since I retired).  I’ve also had a chance to re-connect with an old friend who also writes now, Bob Weisskopf.  Our writing did that.  And it’s been great.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Lee Child – I love the Jack Reacher character.  The nomadic, thug-with-a-moral-code guy who always sticks up for the little guy.

Michael Connelly – Harry Bosch series, the perfect detective and the best writing I’ve found that truly captures what it’s like to be a big city detective.

Elmore Leonard – My favorite of all time!  His writing is concise, tight and he paints a picture without an excess of words.  And no one does dialogue better.

 

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I love them.  I love browsing the shelves looking for new authors and stories.  It’s a shame to see them going the way of the buggy whip.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

I really just want them to enjoy a good yarn.  My work is not deep and is more meant to be a good beach read.  I do hope they fall in love with the characters, though.  Creating characters is the real fun part of writing for me.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

Quite a bit.  I try to describe investigative police work as accurately as I can.  I also sneak in a true story or two that I or other cops have experienced.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

Wow!  It is the toughest part for me.  Particularly since I go through periods where I hate my work, I love my work, my works sucks, it really sucks, no…it really, really sucks.  No…wait…it’s pretty good.  Especially that last sentence.  Hey, I think I’ll keep working on this.

 

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

If the author doesn’t grab me in the first chapter I quit on the book.  I know people, like my wife, who will start a book and finish it no matter how bad it is.  I can’t do that.  I won’t waste my time.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

Not at all.  If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

 

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

Yeah, it’s hard work.  I always dreamed it would be easy but it is really pretty difficult.  I wish it could be easier but then, if it was, everyone would do it.  The sense of personal achievement can’t be beat.

In other people’s work, I don’t want the read to be work.  I want an easy flow…enjoyment without effort.  If the writer gets in the way of his/her own work I get frustrated.  Elmore Leonard once said, “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”  I wish more writers took that advice.

 

Where can people find you and your work?

On Amazon and CreateSpace

Author website:  http://www.rrybickiauthor.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RybickiAuthor/

 

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Bryan G. Shewmaker

Name: Bryan G. Shewmaker

Pseudonym: Secrets don’t stay secrets if you share them.

Genre of work: Science Fiction / Space Opera

Titles / Year of Published Works

The first work published under my own name was published this year, titled “Providence Ends”; the first installment of my “Solar Winds” series.


Why do you write in the genre you do?

Before I can really answer that, I really have to define the genres as I treat them.  Space Opera and Science Fiction are all too often equated to being the same thing.  Not uncommonly with the former being used as a derisive term as the latter, though it is less common these days.

I would consider science fiction to be “A story where the reader is shown how man’s capacity to invent and develop technology has resulted in a change of the human condition, as well as the implications of those changes.”

I would consider space opera to be “A story where technology has advanced, but the human condition has not changed and the implications thereof.”

When I have discussed this in the past I have often used the two most well-known examples as proof of concept.  Star Trek is widely considered science fiction, and perhaps the apex of its genre.  In Star Trek we see a society where inventions such as replicators have solved issues of poverty, hunger, and more.  Star Trek then extrapolates that this kind of development allows the human race to explore a new type of existence where our daily motivations are not predicated upon meeting our instinctive needs to hoard resources and power.  Instead the human motivation becomes one of exploration and self-betterment.  While I don’t agree with Star Trek’s premise that such technologies would bring about the change the show often depicts for us, it is an excellent example of the principle of science fiction.

Star Wars by contrast is a space opera, and I’ve known a few of its die-hard fans who become annoyed that Star Trek is considered science fiction while their favored franchise is dismissed as “science fantasy”.  Especially when by some accounts Star Trek is even more unrealistic than ‘Wars.  (Utopian societies and all.)  But it is an accurate description to say that Star Wars is not science fiction.  Star Wars depicts a civilization with technology far more advanced than our own in most respects, but the human race remains unchanged.  There are still rich and poor, strong and weak, privileged and oppressed.  All of the social ills we as real people face, are faced by the characters.  Thus Star Wars is not a work of Science Fiction, but of Space Opera.

Now that I’ve completed my tangent.  Why do I write the genres I do?  For one they are my favorite genres so it is only natural that my interest gravitate to them.  But more than this.  Think of how many times science fiction / space opera have predicted our future.  Rockets that can take us to the moon, ships that can sail under the water rather than over it.  Atomic weapons that can make war such a costly effort that no one who has them dares to fight each other.  Personal computers, cell-phones, railguns, lasers, AI, and more.  If you look for them, you will see all the hallmarks of our modern day’s great technology was foreshadowed by fiction.

The Epic of Gilgamesh, was written in 2,100 BC.  Mankind has been writing fiction for thousands of years.  There are only so many ways to tell a story, only so many plots and twists to be had.  Every story has already been written.  What truly sets one story apart from another is the characters in the story, and the setting of that story.  Space opera allows you to create a new setting, one that is different from our own.  But one where the people are…people.  Space opera creates a setting that real life might one day resemble.  Science fiction allows you one of the few opportunities to create truly new stories, as technology changes our way of life and opens the door to plots that may have never occurred to those who came before.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

Honestly, the biggest thing it has done is ruin a lot of fiction for me.  I’ve studied story-structure, character archetypes, and plot development to the point that unless I completely shut my brain off, I’ll have most any book / movie / game story figured out within a few minutes.  Annoys my friends sometimes, when 5 minutes in I can tell who is going to die, who is going to be the hero, who is going to betray someone else, etc.  (Don’t worry, I’m polite enough that I usually keep it to myself…unless I want to annoy them)  I’ve sometimes been accused of having inside knowledge, or lying about whether or not I’ve seen or read something.  Its very hard now for a story to surprise me in any meaningful way, though I do (usually) appreciate it when the writer pulls it off.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Its very hard for me to pick, I’ve read a lot of things by a lot of authors.  The only way I can give a reasonably brief answer to this, is to choose some for whom I went out of my way to read more of their work after doing so the first time.

Stephen Coonts – He has a unique gift to explain technical things, in detail, without boring the reader nor significantly digressing from the progression of his plot.  I don’t think I’ve ever encountered an author who can explain a real or fictional technology, how it works, and why it was made quite as well as Mr. Coonts.

Timothy Zahn – To be honest its been a long time since I’ve read one of his books, but I never read one of his books that I didn’t finish.  There are a lot of authors for whom I can’t say that.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I’m afraid I can’t really say that I have an opinion.

What do you hope readers will take away from your work?

First I hope it entertained them.  That is after all the purpose of fiction.  We all have problems we deal with in our lives.  Who died recently?  Which creditor isn’t getting paid on time this month?  Who is getting the pink-slip next?  What trouble are the kids going to get into?  The list goes on for miles.  Fiction is one of the few ways we have to leave the burdens of the world behind for awhile.  I take the purpose of fiction and its creation quite seriously.  So naturally my first concern is that my work does its job.

Second, I hope it leads them to wonder “what-if”.  Nothing has done more for humanity than attempts to answer that question.  If what I have written leads someone to ask “Is that possible?”  “Could that be done?”  “Should that be allowed to happen?”  Or any of these questions, that would be a nice bonus.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

Personally, I don’t like it when people try to conjecture about an author’s views, or state of mind from reading their work.  But it would be effectively impossible for a human being to write a book without their personal experience playing some part in the final product.

As to me, it plays a significant role.  I place characterization above everything else in the creation of my story.  I try to present the characters as real people.  People with real goals, real ambitions, and even their own opinions that other people (such as readers) might not agree with.

I’ve done a lot of things, had a lot of different jobs, and met a lot of different personalities.  I have been a martial artist, a firearms instructor, a professional wrestler (minor leagues), a telemarketer, a tech-support agent, a dishwasher, a sous chef, an IT-Agent, a hunter, and a few other things.  I’ve met people from across all the spectra of religion, politics, creed, social class, and most other means we might wish to distinguish one group of people from another.  When I try to create a character, I consider step-1 to be the separation of the character from the creator.  By thinking back on those many personalities I have encountered, that first step becomes a lot easier.  A character deserves to be their own person, not a mere avatar of the author.  Like a child they may share some traits with their parent, but they remain their own unique being.  Besides, if the author was that interesting, people would be reading a biography rather than a work of fiction.

Of course it does apply in other ways.  My experience as a firearms instructor tells me what kinds of malfunctions a gun is most likely to have, what causes them, and how to fix the problem.  My experience in tech support / IT has taught me that there are a lot of people who think they can lie to an expert about having knowledge in the expert’s field.  My time as a professional wrestler taught me that some things can’t be faked, and sometimes you simply have to endure the pain to make things go-off correctly.  My time as a martial artist taught me that people who say things like; “Size doesn’t matter” have never been in a fight with people significantly bigger / stronger than them.

I try to draw on all of these experiences when I write.

How do you find the motivation to complete a story?

I would rather have a book that no one likes, than to have a story that I never finish.  Too much work goes into making a book to never finish it.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?


There’s a lot of things that can do it.  For my preferred genres, here are a few.

1) An idiotic plot.  How do I define that?  Simple.  If the story could be resolved by either the protagonist or antagonist taking the single most logical option open to them, its the start of an idiot plot.  If there is no good reason they cannot pursue this most logical option and yet they don’t, its an idiotic plot.

2)  If the author has invented a fictional technology but has clearly not made the effort to think through the implications, I have a hard time staying engaged.

3)  If the author insists on jumping on the sci-fi bandwagon that depicts futuristic society as a social justice utopia, I tune-out.  Such settings are not only more unrealistic than space aliens and FTL-travel, they are in my view, boring.

4)  If the author uses scientific terms but clearly does not understand the terms he/she is using.  I can only let so many of these go before the narrative/author loses too much credibility for me to continue.

5)  If it becomes painfully clear that the story’s inner paradigm of good/evil, right/wrong etc is predicated solely upon the author’s political views.  (Hint, I don’t care.)

6)  One of the biggest, if a character is stated to be an expert in a particular field but the author has made no effort at all to educate themselves on the relevant subject matter.  I’ll use firearms as an example.  If the author’s character is a sniper, but doesn’t know the difference between bore, gauge, and caliber.  Doesn’t follow basic firearms safety, doesn’t know enough to position himself on the hillside rather than directly on top of the hill, doesn’t know how to clear a jam etc.  I don’t need textbook accuracy, but I can’t take the expert character or his story seriously when its painfully obvious that he or she is in fact no expert.

There are more, but I’ll stop…for now.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

No, and I think people who try to censor literature should be hanged.  (Yes hanged.  I don’t know if she was right, but my English teacher taught me that pictures are hung, and people are hanged so that’s how I’m saying it.)

As a general rule, stupid people don’t readSmart people are perfectly capable of making their own judgements.

Any pet peeves in writing while reading others work?

This kind of overlaps with the one about what makes me quit reading, but I’ll go over (and expand) on a few.  Let’s see if I can do it without going on any tirades.

1)  When its clear that the author is simply using their fiction as a vehicle for their political views.  I don’t care about your politics.  If you think I should care, I’ll ask this.  What have you done with your life that is so great, so praise-worthy, and so beneficial shaped the lives of others, that I should care what you think?  For 99% of people, and just as many authors, the answer is nothing.  Precious few people who have ever lived can answer this question in the affirmative.  That’s why we build statues of them, name things after them, and tell our children to emulate them.

You’re a writer, your job is to entertain me, not to push your politics on me.  And no, having political views similar to mine does not excuse you.  As far as I’m concerned, if your story can’t exist without your politics, you don’t have a story.  (Sadly I’ve had to apply this to some of my favorite authors.)

2)  I touched on this already, but authors using terms they don’t know.  Mass is not the same thing as weight, energy is not the same thing as power, there is no such thing as “pure energy”.  I don’t expect an author to have a physics degree.  But trying to follow characters who don’t know these things (and clearly should) is like trying to watch a game of football between two teams that don’t know the rules.  It might be funny at first, but humor only lasts so long and only gets you so far.

3)  A lot of things involving firearms, weaponry, and the military.  It would take me an entire book to list them all, but I’ll give one example.  Why is it, in so much sci-fi/space opera, we see armies that have abilities that would make the real military powers of the world green with envy.  Yet these same forces employ the tactics of redcoats about to go muzzle-to-muzzle with militiamen?  I know why, military tactics are a science unto themselves and it would take a writer a lot of time to familiarize themselves with it to the degree that they can be both plausible and dramatic.  I know I should excuse it, but I can’t.  It annoys me every time I see it.

4)  100-pound beauty queens who can beat up grown men twice their size (and often trained fighters at that.)  This one I consider a plague that has infested every facet of fiction.  I see it in books, in movies, on TV, and in video games.  I’ve met and worked with real women who were cops, soldiers, martial artists, and body-builders.  Not one of them was a beauty queen.  (Not limited to physical things either, I’ve met real female scientists, none of them would have passed for a bikini model.)  Yes I know this is fantasy, but suspension of disbelief is relative and it has limits.

And maybe its just me, but when women asked for “strong female characters”; I don’t think supermodel/killing machine/nuclear physicist was what they meant.  I’m pretty sure they meant female characters who had their own goals, beliefs, values, opinions, and ambitions, and dare I say own character arcs.  Rather than simply being extensions of the male protagonist.

But maybe I’m wrong.

5)  “Hero Classic”.  You know him.  He’s kind, he’s chivalrous, he’s charitable, he believes the strong must protect the weak.  He never gives up.  (Not because he’s too prideful mind you, but rather because too many people are depending on him.)  If he isn’t smart he has a good heart, and if he has a flaw its that he takes his virtues too far.  He will always do the “right” thing rather than the convenient or practical thing,

Many a protagonist falls into this mold, but I still hate it when I see it.  He better be surrounded by some compelling side-characters, or I likely won’t be finishing.  I hate this guy as much as I hate the superwoman above.  I find nothing interesting about them.

Where can people find you and your work?

If anyone is interested in speaking with me, they can connect with me via my series’ facebook page.

www.Facebook.com/SolarWindsSeries

I can also be reached via Goodreads
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16844044.Bryan_Shewmaker

I have a website, but it is still under construction at this time.  When completed you will be able to visit…

www.TheEncephalon.com

My work can be found at these links…
https://www.amazon.com/Providence-Ends-Solar-Winds-Book-ebook/dp/B071YJ8S88/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=14xv4931275&sr=8-1&keywords=providence+ends

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/providence-ends-bryan-g-shewmaker/1126427414?ean=9780998960609

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Danielle E. Shipley

 

Name: Danielle E. Shipley

Genre(s) of your work: Mostly YA Fantasy that puts a new spin on old fairytales and folklore.

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

The Wilderhark Tales novellas – “Tales of magic. Tales of adventure. Most of all, tales of true love.”

1 – The Swan Prince (2013)

2 – The Stone Kingdom (2013)

3 – The Seven Spell (2014)

4 – The Song Caster (2014)

5 – The Sun’s Rival (2014)

6 – The Surrogate Sea (2015)

6.5 – The Sky-Child and Other Stories (2015)

7 – The Story’s End (2015)

The Outlaws of Avalon trilogy+ – “Welcome to Avalon, a Renaissance Faire where heroes of legend never die…”

1 – The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale (2016)

1.5 – An Avalon Christmas Carol (2016)

2 – The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale (2017)

2.5 – Truly Great Words Never Die (2017)

3 – The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale (coming October 2017)

Inspired – “For a muse like Lucianíel, one story’s end is another’s beginning…” (2014; currently out-of-print, but relaunching – with a sequel! – in 2018)

Plus a number of short stories in various anthologies, for readers who haven’t tired of all my words yet. ;D

 

 Bio:

Danielle E. Shipley is the author of the Wilderhark Tales novellas, the novel Inspired, and several other expressions of wishful thinking. She has spent most of her life in the Chicago area and increasing amounts of time in Germany. She hopes to ultimately retire to a private immortal forest. But first, there are stories to make.

 

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

Well, as my old author bio put it: “Danielle E. Shipley’s first novelettes told the everyday misadventures of wacky kids like herself. …Or so she thought. Unbeknownst to them all, half of her characters were actually closeted elves, dwarves, fairies, or some combination thereof.

When it all came to light, Danielle did the sensible thing: Packed up and moved to Fantasy Land, where daily rent is the low, low price of her heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, firstborn child, sanity, and words; lots of them.” I haven’t figured out how to restrict my imagination to worlds without magical shenanigans, so I just embraced it. XD

 

How has writing changed/altered your life?

It’s given me my best friends! One of whom is a fellow writer I met during my first National Novel Writing Month, most of the rest of whom are – *cough* – technically imaginary. But seriously, without the BFF outside my head and the character pals inside of it, there are SO many adventures – real and fictional – that I may never have experienced. So for that, as well as their endless encouragement during my authorial highs and lows, I am most grateful.

 

Who are your favorite authors and why?

My latest fave is Maggie Stiefvater. From her “Scorpio Races”, to the Raven Cycle series, to her posts on Tumblr, I just deeply enjoy the way she uses words. I also have to give props to Brandon Sanderson for his mind-blowing world-building, and to the aforementioned BFF, Tirzah Duncan, who’s barely published anything yet, but I get to read her works in progress, so I know what good stuff the world has to look forward to.

 

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

If it’s a place with books in it, I’ll generally approve. I love browsing bookshelves and fantasizing about all the titles I’d buy if my writing career was making me independently wealthy. I can get bummed thinking about how my self-published works will probably never have a place there, but that’s part of the price to be paid for total artistic control. One can’t have it all.

 

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

Entertainment. Maybe a bit of sweet heartache. And if they can see and appreciate my characters as real, free-thinking, incredible people who just happen to live on a different plane of reality, I’ve done my job.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

It varies. Some stories have next-to-nothing to do with me. Then you’ve got “Inspired”, which may be the closest I’ll ever come to writing an autobiography. Most often, it’s somewhere in between. I draw from things I’ve seen, done, and felt, as needed. The rest is straight out of imagination.

 

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

I remember that if I die before the story’s done, no one else will write it. So honestly, as often as not, books are my motivation to not complete my life too soon.

 

Where can people find you and your work?

Website = http://deshipley.weebly.com/

Blog = http://everonword.wordpress.com/

Twitter = https://twitter.com/DEShipley

Facebook = https://www.facebook.com/Danielle.E.Shipley.Author

Tumblr = http://outlawsofavalon.tumblr.com/

Amazon = https://www.amazon.com/Danielle-E.-Shipley/e/B00HG4A0N0/

 

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G.E. Smith

 

Name: G. E. Smith

Genre(s) of your work: Dark/Horror Fiction

Bio:

I’ve lived and worked all my life in north central Illinois. I’m married and have a stepdaughter. My first extended writing period was in the 1990s; gospel clown skits and scripts for my hometown junior high D.A.R.E. and PeaceBuilder programs. From there I got into silly, rhymed children’s verse, some novelette-length works, short stories, flash fiction, and micro fiction.

 

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

When I wrote silly, rhymed poetry, the fun challenge was the meter and the nonsense. In horror, the challenge is a fresh approach on how to make the reader interested and uneasy. Plus, it’s (horror) a great way to fictionalize a real-life stress event.

 

How has writing changed/altered your life?

Increased my confidence in saying what I mean and paying attention to how I communicate.

 

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Michael Arnzen: his short work gets right to the action. Jeff Strand: great blending of humor and horror. Christopher Moore: his novel A Dirty Job is fantastic.

 

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I’ve always been a hard-copy guy, both reading and submitting to a critique group. Been awhile since I’ve been to a bookstore, but stay in business, folks! Amazon is convenient, but I can’t get a caramel mocha and take a seat with a book in hand at Amazon.

 

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

Enjoyment, entertainment. To hold a small place in their mind when I creeped them out would be cool too.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

Other than general venting, nothing in the past or present.

 

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

Knowing once my head is clear of what I’m working on I can move forward to what’s next.

 

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

Overuse of f***. I get that it’s part of certain characters. However, too much makes a character one dimensional. A story loaded with f-bombs becomes predictable, and predictable is boring. Also too much detail and lengthy flashbacks cutting into the story flow.

 

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

No. Let writers write. Readers can decide what they do or don’t want to read.

 

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

Too much editing while writing my first draft. As for the work of others: using ‘that’ instead of ‘who’ when referring to a person.

 

Where can people find you and your work?

The Haunted Traveler, Cult of Me, Unfading Daydream, Lonesome October Lit (forthcoming Nov. & Dec. 2017), FunDead Publications, and Trembling With Fear (Horror Tree).

https://www.facebook.com/WritefullyMinded/

 

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Roy Swanberg

Name: Roy Swanberg

Genre: Five Christian Fiction and one non-fiction

 

Titles:

Because He Cares, 2007

Jason’s Promise, 2012

Jason’s Promise II, 2012

Jason’s Promise III, 2013

Writing in Retirement 2016 (non-fiction)

The Other Two Crosses, 2017

Bio:

Roy Swanberg is a retired public high school teacher. He has written and published many articles in magazines and is the author of five novels and one non-fiction book. Roy lives in Princeton, Illinois with his wife, Jan. They have two grown children and four grandchildren.

 

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I enjoy the Christian literature and I can share my faith in a way many can relate to.

 

How has writing changed/altered your life?

I started writing when I retired at 60. It fills my time in creative thinking and much enjoyment.

 

Who are your favorite authors and why? 

Jerry Jenkins and Lynn Austin. They write in Christian Fiction also.

 

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

Okay, I guess. It’s hard for a new author to break into the industry. Hence, self-publishing.

 

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

Enjoyment and understanding of personal lives of Christians through books.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

A great deal.

 

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

Personal time and support from wife, family and readers.

 

What makes you NOT want to finish a book?

Poor editing and unsearched facts in a story. Obscene language.

 

Do you believe writing should be censored?

Everyone will buy what they want to read. If someone censors a story, someone else will pick it up.

 

Do you have any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ works?

Yes. Why do major publishers avoid self-published books like a disease? They offer help at a conference, yet when I email them or send a sample, or even a book, I never hear from them.

Where can people find you and your work?

Amazon.com., Createspace.com, or my website.

Website: www.swanbergchristinwriter.com.

 

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Wayne Turmel

 

Name:  Wayne Turmel

Genre(s) of your work:  Mostly Historical Fiction, some short pieces of indeterminate genre

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

The Count of the Sahara (2015)

Acre’s Bastard (2017)

 

 Bio :

Wayne Turmel is a former stand-up comedian, car salesman, corporate drone and business owner. After 20 years of being pretty well-known in the business communications field, and writing 7 books, he decided to turn to fiction to save what’s left of his sanity.

His two novels, The Count of the Sahara, and Acre’s Bastard, have won numerous online and indie awards.  Originally from Canada, he lives in the suburbs of Chicago with his wife, The Duchess, and Byron, the world’s crankiest cockatiel.

 

 

 Why do you write in the genre that you do?

The stories that captured me as a child were always set in someplace far away and long ago from small-town Canada. Treasure Island, The Three Musketeers and the like. I have just always been intrigued by the people who lived in other times. Also, swords are cooler than guns.  

 

How has writing changed/altered your life?

Wow, going deep aren’t we? I think there are small-scale changes…. when I have a creative outlet I’m happier and easier to live with than when I’m just being a corporate drone. Joining my local writers group has given me a social outlet that I desperately needed–they say that writing is lonely, but being a writer is actually a social act.

Also,  because my writing involves people and places that don’t involve mid-fifties white guys in American suburbia, it becomes an exercise in empathy. What were people thinking then? How did things become the way they are?

 

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Wow, I am a bit of a  book slut, not too discriminating across a lot of genres and styles. I tell people I’m the love child of Alexandre Dumas and Hunter S Thompson and let them figure it out. Dumas, Stevenson and Kipling knew how to tell a story and grip the reader.

Modern writers like Jack Whyte and Ken Follett still crank out great historical fiction. Foreign writers like Arturo Perez Reverte and Leonardo Padura give us insight from different cultures. Indie authors like Lavinia Collins and others just inspire me to do good work and quit whining about not having an agent.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

Will you hate me if I say they are necessary? Bookstores are a business, and well-run, efficient businesses can offer more selection and convenience than an indie book store. It’s more convenient for the buyer.

The problem with them is they tend to have TERRIBLE taste and push what’s easiest… big press books that have gotten lots of press, celebrity bios, all that stuff, and the staff tends to be woefully unaware about books in general. The point is, it has to be easy for people to buy books or they won’t do it. Also, walking the shelves allows you to find surprises. ONline, you have to pick what you think you want, and can’t browse.

And small book stores may be terrific, but by definition they are going to have less selection (and sadly, be more expensive). That doesn’t mean I don’t love them and try to support them best as I can.

As an indie author I’ve had mild success getting into local stores both indie and big-box, but it takes a lot of work and you don’t make much money per book. Hey, if people can’t easily buy books, they’ll stop doing it, and that means they’ll never find you.

 

 What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

My favorite reviews are when someone says , “I didn’t think I would like a story about _____, or I’d never heard of this person, but I loved it” I want them to come away having enjoyed the ride first and foremost. Then I get a kick when it drives people to Google the subject and learn more. If you’re reading Historical Fiction and think you now understand a time period or person, you’re not doing your job.

Finally, I want them to have fun. My topics are serious, but there’s always humor to be found in even the most horrible circumstances. It’s how humans have survived so long.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

I think all writers draw on their life for characters. There are certain people in my books who are an awful lot like people I know. Also, when you’re plotting your story, you have to ask, how would I act in those circumstances? I’ve never been a 10 year old half-French, Half-Arab boy  in the crusades, but I have been 10.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story? 

I don’t start until I’m really passionate about a story. It can gestate for a long time before I sit down to write. I’ve been writing to deadlines most of my adult life, so I can make myself do it, and frequently crank out a lot of words at one sitting  (of course, it can be a long time between sessions while I’m noodling the story in my brain).

I waited until i was past 50 to tackle my first novel because I wasn’t sure I could do  it. The trick, as the old cliche goes, is to eat that elephant one bite at a time. I find that by writing in small chunks, say 3-5000 words, it’s not too intimidating, if I do that 15- 20 times I have a whole novel.

 

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

There are only two things that will stop me…. 1) if it’s just badly written. A lot of indie books especially haven’t been edited or proofed properly. When it becomes too much work, I give up. 2) If it is just over-written. I read a lot of sword and sorcery, and if the person is a nonstop parade of multi-syllable names and places with too many consonants, or the response to every question is a long-winded oratory with references to a dozen gods,  it becomes a distraction. Surely there were people in mythical worlds named Bob, right? And sometimes, people just say, “yes.”

 

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

I don’t think writing should be censored, AND I think we need to play fair with readers. A writer has the right to tackle any subject they want. That doesn’t mean their words will be embraced or appreciated, and people have the right not to publish or pay for that work. I will tell you, the more distasteful or controversial the topic, the more skillfully it has to be written.

I ran into this on Acre’s Bastard. There is a scene in chapter 2 where someone attempts to molest young Lucca. It’s pretty intense (I’m actually proud of it as a writer.) Someone wrote me a nasty note about not warning about “graphic” content, as it apparently triggered her PTSD associated with her own assault as a young girl. That was NEVER my intention, and I’m not sure i need a big warning label on the front of the book, but some people feel that scene rules the book out for them. I feel I did the subject justice, they have the right to hate it.

 

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

I have become obsessed with active verbs vs passive. Was standing, vs stood, for example. I am becoming more and more of a minimalist as I get older… unless it’s someone incredibly skillful like Mark Helprin, who can describe something for three pages and make me love it.

 

Where can people find you and your work?

My website, which also features other historical fiction authors: www.WayneTurmel.com

Twitter @Wturmel

Facebook   https://www.facebook.com/wayne.turmel

My Amazon Author page https://www.amazon.com/Wayne-Turmel/e/B00J5PGNWU/

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Robert Weisskopf

 

Name:  Robert Weisskopf  (Bob)

Pseudonym:  none

Genre(s) of your work:  one cookbook for the new cook and scifi (space opera)

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Dining – Not Just Eating 2016

Hardcore – The Journey Begins 2016

Carbonado – The Shakedown Cruise 2016

Dale Dair – Fight for Family 2016

Chico 7 – TROLLS 2017

Ambush in the Forest – A Chris Williams Short Story 2017

Bio :

Robert Weisskopf, Bob as his friends call him, grew up in Chicago where he still lives. His father was a Chicago Police Lieutenant but his father had first apprenticed as a pastry chef under Bob’s Grandfather. Over the course of thirty years he rose from Police Officer to Lieutenant.

He has three sons, Bobby, Jimmy, and Patrick. To this day his sons are the brightest part of his life. Now with a home filled with sons and dogs Bob perfects his cooking and spends his time writing, cooking and riding his Gold Wing motorcycle. This year he turned 61, so this is just the beginning of his story.

Why do you write in the genre that you do? 

The cookbook was something suggested by friends.  I learned to cook for my sons and wanted to pass what I learned on to other single dads and anyone new to cooking. The Scifi genre I chose after recuperating from a leg injury where I spent most of my time reading ebooks on my kindle.  I thought “I can do that.”

How has writing changed/altered your life

It has sharpened my mind and forced me to teach myself several new skills.  It keeps me alert and connected to everyone around me.  It makes me feel younger.

 

Who are your favorite authors and why? 

I have always enjoyed King, W.E.B Griffin, Dale Brown, and Tom Clancy now I am reading a lot of new indie authors who have become my friends.  Larry Casey, Richard Rybicki, and Paul Russell Parker.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores? 

I always loved visiting them and browsing through the aisle.  Now with a bad back I don’t do that often.  I have also limited most of my purchases now to my Kindle.  I just don’t have the room to store all the books.  I read a lot and without e-books it gets costly.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work? 

I just hope they enjoy it.  I’m not trying to change their life.  I want them to take the time to relax and sink their teeth into a book.  Afterwards If they were entertained I’m thrilled.  With my cookbook, I hope they become more comfortable in the kitchen.  It isn’t about following recipes but rather getting comfortable in the kitchen.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work? 

In my cookbook, it is all personal experience.  I have pulled my experiences and recipes that I made for my sons and myself.  With my novels, my characters develop based on people I worked with or lived with.  My lead character treats people and leads the way I learned as a Police officer and supervisor.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story? 

I’m not sure.  Some of them have come very easy.  My current novel is taking time.  I enjoy the process from the first word of the first chapter up to the hours of marketing needed to sell a copy.  I have always been creative and artistic.  It always stirred my spirit to create something.  I learned a while back to find God in the details and I do.

 

What makes you NOT finish reading a book? 

Now more than anything it is bad editing and proofreading.  My quality has improved from my first to my current work.  Sentence structure is better, plot line has improved, and even though you might find errors they are few and far between.

When I read a book that has the story line drift all over it loses me quickly.  Spell check isn’t enough.  You need someone who can read your work and criticize and correct your mistakes.  If you don’t edit the reader will.  Find an editor that will work with you.  I have and she made a world of difference to my writing.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo

No but perhaps warning labels are needed.  I wouldn’t want a little child reading some of the work I see.  I think the best way is to have the author label it themselves.  If it is political or sexual let the reader know it on the back cover.  Be honest the readers will appreciate it.

I am often asked at book signings if it is appropriate for a teenager.  I try to be honest.  I don’t use much vulgarity but there is some. I stay away from hot topics like gender or politics but if I didn’t I would be happy to warn people.

 

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work? 

Please use contractions.  It makes your writing read so much smoother.  Learn your computer and social media.

Where can people find you and your work? 

BOBWEISSKOPF.COM and of course on Amazon

https://bobweisskopf.com/

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01DB5A7IU?ref_=pe_1724030_132998070

https://www.facebook.com/RWAuthor/

https://www.facebook.com/Diningnotjusteating/

https://www.facebook.com/FreighterLola/

I have also been a contributor to Law Enforcement Today online new magazine for several years now and my work is archived at https://www.lawenforcementtoday.com/author/robertw332/

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

MK Williams

Name: MK Williams

Genre(s) of your work: My first novel, Nailbiters, is a sci-fi thriller. My second book is a collection of contemporary short fiction. My forthcoming third book is a contemporary fiction.

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Nailbiters (2015): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27279554-nailbiters

The Games You Cannot Win (2016): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32660979-the-games-you-cannot-win

Bio:

MK Williams is an Indiana-born, Philadelphia-raised, Florida-transplant working and living beneath the sunny, and often rainy, skies of Tampa. Williams’ writing influences include a lifetime of watching suspenseful mysteries and action movies and reading Stephen King, Ian McEwan, Maragret Atwood, and J.K. Rowling.

Why do you write in the genre that you do? 

For each of the works that I have published, I wrote the story that I wanted to read. Nailbiters is a sci-fi thriller and it was fun to write and definitely pushed me as a writer to get out of my comfort zone. The stories in The Games You Cannot Win are all contemporary because that is what I know, living in modern society. I don’t think I will ever hold myself to just one genre or type of story. At least not intentionally.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

I’ve always loved to write. When I decided to stop second-guessing myself and self-publish, I found a new confidence that has helped me in all areas of my life. I have learned so much about the industry, about myself, and I know that I will continue to learn more over time.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

My current number 1 favorite author is Margaret Atwood. I was late to discover her work (only a few years ago) and I am methodically going through her entire body of work. I love her writing style and her characters. All of her stories have a deeper message. I really like that.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

My aim is to make people think, to second-guess their assumptions. With Nailbiters, I wanted people to stop and think, “How would I act in that situation? What are the limits of my own humanity?”

With the last story in The Games You Cannot Win, titled Escaping Avila Chase, I wanted to tackle the complex issue of domestic violence or violence against women in our society. Writing it from the viewpoint of the aggressor, I wanted to make my audience question their assumptions of guilt and redemption. How can an abuser ever find absolution? Can a woman really just walk away after the first instance of violence without anyone criticizing her actions?

 

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

From the very first idea to the final product it usually takes me about 3 years to write a book so the motivation comes in short spurts. I’ll have a new idea and I will need to get it written down and then maybe I’ll let that sit for a while.

My biggest motivation to finish a story and get a book published comes from this fear that someone will publish the same exact story before me or that the plot line will play out in the real world and everyone will think that I just copied the idea.

This actually happened with my latest work, The Games You Cannot Win. The second story, The Joker, was written in November of 2015. When I wrote the story, I believed it to be a far-fetched conspiracy theory about the election. By the time it was published in October of 2016, the US Presidential election was only a few days away and many of these crazy ideas had already played out in the media.  

Where can people find you and your work?

My books are available for sale on Amazon, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, and other online retailers. They are also available in some local libraries, if you want your library to add my book to their catalog you can usually find a purchase request form on your library’s website.

Website, where I post updates about my books and new releases: https://nailbitersnovel.com/

Facebook Page, to stay connected to my fans: https://www.facebook.com/1mkwilliams/

Nailbiters: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B015QRVSWA

The Games You Cannot Win: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MCU6A0W

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

John M. Wills

Your Name: John M. Wills

Genre(s) of your work: Varied

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

The most recent five:

  • Targeted, 2011

  • Women Warriors, Stories From The Thin Blue Line, 2013

  • The Year Without Christmas, 2013

  • HEALER, 2014

  • The Storm, 2016

Bio : John M. Wills writes mostly fiction, but he’s also a freelance writer and has published more than 150 articles. John write scripts for the William McLlain Foundation for videos honoring fallen first responders as well. He’s been fortunate to have poetry and short stories published in eight anthologies, and writes book reviews for the New York Journal of Books. His books, articles, poetry, and short stories have won more than a dozen awards.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

After writing reports and affidavits most of my life, I enjoy escaping into the world of make believe and writing about fictional characters and places.

 

How has writing changed/altered your life?

Writing has allowed me to explore new topics and given me a small platform to express myself. And while I never started writing to make money, happily I’ve been able to make a bit of money through my freelance work. My books, while not all that profitable, give me an intangible reward vis-à-vis the feedback from readers who enjoy my stories.

 

Who are your favorite authors and why?

I very much enjoy the works of Dan Walsh. He writes wholesome stories with  redeeming themes that resonate with me.

 

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I’m disappointed in the direction they’ve gone in the past several years. My books used to be carried by them, at least locally, now unless you’re a mainstream author or celebrity author there’s hardly a chance they will carry your books. Sure they’re in the catalog and will order them if a customer requests, but they’re not on the shelves in store. Sad. I have a couple local bookstores that do carry my books.

 

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

Most of the time I have the good guys winning, so I want to reinforce the notion that doing the right thing is the best policy. Bad guys lose—good guys win.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

My background has been structured: Army, Chicago Police Department, and the FBI (retired). I’ve seen and done many things and I use that history to help weave stories.

 

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

I get very involved with the characters and look forward to developing them each day. As the story moves forward, characters change and new ones emerge. It’s exciting and I look forward to adding a new chapter each day.

 

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

A dull story line and lifeless characters, too much telling rather than showing, poor dialogue, and too many errors.

 

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

No, I may not like certain topics but stifling creativity and speech is detrimental. The market place will usually decide what stays and what disappears.

 

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

In thrillers and mysteries involving police, I hate when the wrong terminology is used regarding weapons and procedures. I instantly question the author’s credibility and/or research.

 

Where can people find you and your work?

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and my website/blog:

https://jwillsbooks.com/books/

As well as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Joyce Burns Zeiss

Name: Joyce Burns Zeiss

Genre(s) of your work: Young adult historical fiction

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Out of the Dragon’s Mouth, Flux, March, 2015

Bio:

I am a retired junior high school teacher, married, with three grown children and three grandchildren. I live in Evanston, IL and belong to Off Campus Writers Workshop and The Writers in Glencoe. Besides writing, I tutor English as a Second Language students in my friend’s classroom, practice yoga, garden, read , and travel as much as I can. I love spending time with my children and grandchildren.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I have always loved history and think it is important for young people to learn about what has happened in the past and the lessons we can take from it.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

I have become a part of a whole community of writers which is wonderful considering how solitary the writing life can be. Writers are such interesting people. I love getting to know them and read their works.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

I’ve always been a fan of Steinbeck. Grapes of Wrath changed my life. A contemporary author is Ruta Sepetys who has written Salt to the Sea, and Between Shades of Gray, two powerful young adult books about World War II in Eastern Europe. Between Shades of Gray is being made into a movie.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I hope they don’t run the independent bookstores out of business. I do love browsing in them.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

I want readers to understand what refugees go through when they lose everything and have to risk their lives to leave their country and travel to another land. Most young people know nothing about the Vietnam War and what happened after the fall of Saigon.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

My book is based on my friend’s experience as a Vietnamese refugee. In 1979, our family sponsored a Chinese Cambodian refugee family so I came to know up close what a refugee goes through. My husband and I also worked in several Angolan refugee camps in Zambia and Namibia. All this has fueled, my interest in the plight of the refugee.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

I need to be in a writing/critique group with deadlines. I am currently working on a sequel to Out of the Dragon’s Mouth and I really need the feedback I get from my fellow writers.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

If the book is really long and I am becoming bored with the character, I will not finish it. I shocked my librarian friends by not finishing The Gentleman in Moscow, a book everyone seemed to think was wonderful. Beautiful language but the plot really dragged for me.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

I do not believe in censorship, but I do think there is age appropriate reading. No topic is taboo, but I don’t have to read about it.

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

Since I was an English teacher, the grammatical errors jump right up at me. It’s okay in a first draft, but after that, no. Writing is hard work and we all need to encourage each other.

Where can people find you and your work?

joyceburnszeiss.com

joyceburnszeiss@amazon

Joyce Zeiss author, Facebook

Joyce Burns Zeiss, Goodreads

 

 

 

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