Author Meet & Greet!

Welcome to Author Meet & Greet

Here, you will have an opportunity to meet authors and learn a little more about them.

You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with them through their social media links (if they choose to share them) and purchase their works.

The 4 most current author interviews will be posted here. Older ones may be found under the Archive: Author Meet & Greet on the front page.

 

 

So, without further ado,

let’s get to know our 25th Meet & Greet Author:

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!)

 

Thanks so much, Steven! The subject of taboo topics is a tricky one. That’s exactly why I ask it. Provoking questions not only makes the interviewee think “out of the box”, but might also cause our readers to consider how they would answer themselves. Readers, please spend some time with Steven’s works. Important stuff!

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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

 

 

Thanks very much, Shelby. It’s exciting to step foot into the world of writing – getting your ideas and concepts out to people. I’m sure you will produce a library of wonderful reading material! Readers, please look for Shelby’s first book and visit her sites 🙂

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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.

 

 

Thanks so much, Kevin. I think many authors can understand how writing can help someone think through a tough situation or life challenge. I’ll bet many of stories have either characters, situations, or places that are actually “very close to home” for a number of us. Readers, please keep an eyeball peeled for Kevin’s NEW novel, Paper Airplane, due out this November!

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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/

 

 

Thank you so much, Victoria. Having spent time at a Printers Row Lit Fest table with you one year, I can say first hand that your books have really made an impression on people. Important work for an important and not-so-widely-discussed topic. Readers, do take the time to look into Victoria’s works.

 

5 comments

  1. Hi Sue. Thank you for including me in this roundup of four writers. I read all the interviews with pleasure. The CWA includes so many interesting members. I enjoyed meeting my fellow interviewees via your blog.
    Susan Bass Marcus

    Liked by 1 person

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