Author Archives: Second Wind Publishing

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

Ghosts and PhysicsWhat is your story?

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

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

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

How do you see yourself?

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

What makes you angry?

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

Do you like remembering your childhood?

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

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

What is your most prized possession?

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

Have you ever had an adventure?

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

What about your past would you like to forget?

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

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

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

How do you envision your future?

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

***

About April Arnold:

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

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

4 Comments

Filed under Author Interviews, books, fiction, writing

Book Review for DEADLY ADAGIO by Carole Howard

Title: Deadly Adagio
Author: Carole Howard
Publisher: Second Wind Publishing, LLC
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 978-1938101373

deadlyadagio

Deadly Adagio
by Carole Howard

Book review by Maribeth Shanley

Don’t underestimate this author as, in true adagio fashion, she soothes your mind with her characters.

As quickly as your mind begins to drift into sweet repose, the author jolts you to life as she garrotes you just as the character Margaret is garroted into permanent rest with a violin string. Suddenly all your senses are wide awake and you find yourself in the middle of a perfect storm. Ms. Howard commands you to sit down, shut up and pay attention as she rubs your face and mind in African traditions that rivet refined senses, leaving the reader stunned at the insanity of it all.

I love Ms. Howard’s writing style. When the main character, Emily plays her murdered friend’s violin, one can’t get any closer to the heart of how she felt about her friend. “Emily tucked Margaret, in the form of her violin, under her chin and smiled.” That passage made me smile.

Ms. Howard’s intimate relationship with the English language results in her painting facial features and expressions, human thought and bodily language with strokes that left me thinking … when I grow up, I want to write like her.

Click here to read an: Excerpt From “Deadly Adagio” by Carole Howard

____________
MaribethMaribeth Shanley lives in Myrtle Beach, SC with her husband Bob Bibb. They have three furry and three feathered children. Maribeth is now retired from McCormick and Co., Inc. of the famous spice brand. Once retired she decided to try her hand at writing. “I’ve always loved to write and dreamed of becoming a writer. Never did I imagine, however, it would actually happen.” Shanley is the author of the novel Crack in the World, which is based on her own experiences as a sexually abused child.

4 Comments

Filed under books, writing

Excerpt from “Where the Bodies Are” by L. V. Gaudet

42221362058-20141202195135What kind of dark secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions?

A young woman is found discarded with the trash, brutally beaten and left for dead. More bodies begin to appear, left where they are sure to be found and cause a media frenzy.

The killer’s reality blurs between past and present with a compulsion driven by a dark secret locked in a fractured mind. Overcome by a blind rage that leaves him wallowing in remorse with the bodies of victim after victim, he is desperate to stop killing.

The search for the killer will lead to his dark secret buried from the past, something much larger than a man on a killing spree.

Coming: book 2 The McAllister Farm. The secret behind the bodies is revealed.

Excerpt from Where the Bodies Are:

Out of the corner of his eye Harry spotted a hand, the arm visible halfway up to the forearm, sticking out of the rubbish pile at his feet. The dainty hand was dirty, streaked and splotched with some sort of red-brown paint, and dangling in a shallow puddle of dirty rain water. It had been raining on and off all day.

Looking down at the hand for a moment, he merely registered that someone had thrown out an old mannequin and thought nothing more of it.

He was adding his garbage to the pile, shifting one foot forward for balance as he leaned over the garbage bin to place his bags on top of the mound.

His foot bumped the mannequin’s arm.

It moved slightly with the impact, but it moved soundlessly, felt soft not hard. It did not scrape against the concrete like a plastic mannequin hand should.

Harry pulled back from the pile, trash bag still in hand.

Bending forward a little, he studied the hand more closely. He pushed it with his foot, listening for the scraping sound, feeling for the hard plastic. It moved soundlessly, felt soft but firm, not hard.

Startled, he took a hurried step backwards, almost dropping his trash bag.

Gathering his courage, he knelt down to examine his find more closely. He reached forward with his left hand and discovered, to his surprise, that he was still holding the trash bag. Tossing it aside, he tentatively poked at the arm. It was firm, giving only slightly, yet felt soft, like flesh. He placed his hand on it. The flesh was cold. Too cold to be alive, he was sure, but still soft.

The words “fresh kill” leapt unbidden into his mind.

Shaking his head to rid it of this morbid thought he pulled some of the garbage away, digging it out.

The rest of the arm appeared, obviously a young woman’s arm. The top of the head appeared, then a face. It was a badly bruised and swollen face, unrecognizable through all the crusted dried blood. Rivulets of blood had dried as they seeped from her cracked lips and bloodied nose, like streams frozen to ice, caught in a sudden chill that stopped its flow mid-gurgle.

Harry staggered backwards, almost falling over. His pale face looked like a terrified ghostly phantom in the darkening gloom.

The shadows were long and getting deeper as dusk chased away the sunlight, preparing for the blackness of night.

Unable to quit, he attacked the pile of debris, trembling, drooling slightly, his eyes crazed. Digging frantically, he threw garbage into the air.

The rest of her body appeared, dishevelled and beaten.

Gagging, he turned and ran in a stumbling shuffle back to the store’s rear entrance. He fumbled the keys from his pocket, dropping them with a merry clink on the pavement. Trembling, he tried three times before his fingers could coordinate enough to pick them up.

His mind began playing tricks on him, imagining he heard the soft sound of shoes scraping on the ground behind him, heavy breathing approaching, and a menacing presence just out of sight. His head swivelled, looking around fearfully. Not seeing anything, he turned back to the locked door, frantically trying to open it.

The wavering key could not find its way into the lock. It glanced off the side, hit the top, and finally bounced out of his hand to the pavement at his feet.

This time it took him only two tries before his palsied fingers finally grasped it firmly enough to bring the key back to the lock. It hit home on the first try. He almost pulled the key out of the lock before he realized that he finally did it.

Bio:

42221362058-20141202191758LV Gaudet is a Canadian writer and mother of two. Her writing endeavors range from stories written for her young children to the realm of adult horror.

Some of her short stories can be found scattered in the dark void of the internet.

Link to Second Wind Publishing where you can buy my book
http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/#!l-v-gaudet/cdwd

Link to reviews of Where the Bodies Are on Angie’s Diary
https://angiesdiary.com/bookoftheweek-web/081-botwoct262014.html

Facebook – author page
http://www.facebook.com/pages/L-V-Gaudet/42221362058

Twitter @lvgaudet
http://twitter.com/lvgaudet

Google+ – author page
https://plus.google.com/b/105997630536794217325/105997630536794217325/posts

LinkedIn
ca.linkedin.com/in/lvgaudet

Instagram
https://instagram.com/lv_gaudet/

Pinterest
http://www.pinterest.com/LVGaudet

WordPress
http://lvgwriting.wordpress.com

1 Comment

Filed under books, Excerpts, fiction

Interview with Susan Williamson, Author of “Turkmen Captives”

What is your book about?

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

Why will readers relate to your characters?

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

What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

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

How has your background influenced your writing?

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

What is your writing process?

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

When did you discover writing?

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

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

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

Where can we learn more about your books?

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

2 Comments

Filed under Author Interviews, writing

Interview with LeeAnn Elwood McLennan, author of “Dormant”

Dormant CoverWhat is your book about?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are you working on right now?

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

Who designed your cover?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Comments

Filed under Author Interviews, writing

Interview With Marietta Rodgers, Author of “The Bill”

The BillWhat is your book about?

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

What inspired you to write this particular story?

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

Who is your most unusual character?

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

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

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

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

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

What are you working on right now?

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

What was the first story you remember writing?

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

What writer influenced you the most?

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

What one word describes how you feel when you write?

Empowered.

Have you written any other books?

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

Where can we learn more about The Bill?

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Author Interviews, writing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does writing come easy for you?

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

What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

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

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

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

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

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

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

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

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

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

And now you know my dirty little secret.

What are you working on right now?

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

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

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

At what age did you discover writing?

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

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

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

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

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

Have you written any other books?

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

Describe your writing in three words.

Strange journey home.

Where can people learn more about your books?

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Author Interviews, books, writing

Interview with Carrie Jane Knowles, Author of Apricots in a Turkish Garden

Apricots in a Turkish GardenWhat is your book about?

Apricots in a Turkish Garden is a collection of ten short stories that focus on a moment in time when a character has an insight into their life and what has happened. And, that insight changes the character.

Why will readers relate to your characters?

I work hard to create “real” characters. I want the stories to be like a window or a mirror. Readers often tell me that they feel like I have written about them or their families.

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

I almost always start with a character rather than a situation.

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

Whenever I sit down to write I close my eyes and spend a few minutes thinking about the characters in my story, trying to imagine what they are going to do next.

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

Writing and coaching writing is my day job. I have an office and I go to work everyday, Monday through Friday. I usually go to the gym before work, so I’m generally in the office ready to work by 10 in the morning and leave sometime between 5 and 6.

Writing today is also about promoting and some days the promotion end of the business takes over, as does the coaching, and I don’t get a great deal of time to write.

Ideally, I try to get at least one page of my own work written each day. I’m really happy if I manage to write two polished pages, i.e. pages that work and I don’t throw out the next day. Three would be a personal best!

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

Right now I’m working on two stories, one a short story and the other a novel I’ve been struggling with for the last two years. I’ve just had a real breakthrough with the novel, so hope to move ahead on that over the next couple of months.

The short story, like all short stories I write, will take several more months to draft then polish.

What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?

A great character with an interesting dilemma/problem.

Where do you get the names for your characters?

I’m always on the lookout for character names. I keep note cards in my purse and jot names down whenever I discover a good one.

Names are really important to me. They have to fit the character, the time frame of the story, the location of the story, and the situation.

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

I hope so! When I create a character, I do my best to listen to them and to let them be who they want to be.

I have this theory I call the bad parent/good parent theory of writing. The bad parent is always telling the child what they should do and be when they grow up. The good parent encourages the child to grow up and be whoever and whatever they want to be.

I want to be the good parent.

Describe your writing in three words.

Character driven, surprising.

Where can people learn more about your books?

Apricots in a Turkish Garden is published by Second Wind Publishing. You can purchase it through Second Wind and also at Quail Ridge Books and through Amazon and Smashwords. You can learn more about me as well as my work on my website: carrieknowles.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Author Interviews, writing

Interview with Ashley M. Carmichael, Author of “Valerie’s Vow”

91B1ylE3rmL._SL1500_What is your book about?

My debut novel is Valerie’s Vow. It is a story of loss, love, and loyalty but more than anything it is a story of friendship. Though it’s been six months since she has lost her best friend to cancer, Valerie spends the majority of the novel dealing with her emotions over this traumatic loss. She meets and reacquaints herself with men from her past and present as a way to figure out where her future lies. As a romance writer, I enjoy having my main character find love, but as an inspirational writer the lessons that she learns, particularly about life, love and friendship are what I truly value.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

In November of 2013 a dear friend of mine passed away. She had spent several years battling a very aggressive form of breast cancer. She was in inspiration to everyone who knew her as a teacher, mentor, and most importantly as a friend. While Sarah and I are not as close as the characters in the book, she was still the inspiration for the story and I did my best to honor her legacy while writing.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

There is a lot of me in this book, but don’t be mistaken—I am not Valerie. I did use some of my experiences to help me write (like how I met my best friend, the fact that I’m a teacher, some of my Sunday School Lessons and students). What is entertaining is talking to the people who know me after having read the book. One of the girls in my Sunday School class read the book and came to me and said, “Can I guess who is who?” referring to the kids in the class vs. our class. We laughed, because while the kids were not one and the same, she was pretty spot on with her guesses about who I’d based who on. So the next question she, and everyone asks, is who are the guys?

Like almost all characters, they are based on men who either have been in my life or are in my life in some capacity or another, but to what extent and who they are…well, I think that’s better left a mystery.

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

I love Cooper, and as far as I can tell, most people who read the book love him too. He’s a likeable character because of all that he does for Valerie, but also because he’s somewhat mysterious. And who doesn’t like that?

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

The message can be summed up in a quote from the novel: “Go, do, see. Don’t spend your life in the shadows of someone else, the past or even the future. Just go live. But make sure you do it for God, because in the end He’s the only one worth living for. You are beautiful, you are special, and your life is worth living.”

What has changed for you personally since you wrote your first book?

Since I first wrote this book I have joined Winston Salem Writers, attended many writing programs and classes, joined a critique group and even joined a group via meetup.com to focus on The Artist’s Way. By increasing my networking, I have become a better writer and overall a better person. I love this new community I have become a part of and, to be frank, it has made me more confident as a writer.

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

When I’m in my writing peaks I strive to write about 2000 words per day. To keep myself motivated, I will often keep a spreadsheet to track the number of words I am writing. However, I came to realize that writing was only a part of the ultimate process and it wasn’t and shouldn’t be my sole focus. I also needed to turn some of my energy into editing. I now strive for at least 250 words minimum per day and a least a little time editing or re-writing as well. I try to do some writing in the morning, as this is when I am at my peak intellectually. As a morning person I know this is crucial to my success. Working full time as a teacher, this is not always possible, so as long as I continue to make sure I do some writing every day I feel as though I am on track.

What are you working on right now?

I am currently editing 3 novels. They are written, beginning to end, but need a lot of cosmetic work. Hopefully they will be ready for publication in the next few months. I’m also in the process of finishing a YA book, I’m not sure it’s my genre, but it’s been an interesting adventure writing and I look forward to discussing it as a part of the critique process. I’m also starting the research process for a historical based on the set of letters my grandmother gave me. They are from my great-grandmother’s ex-fiancé. There’s definitely a story in there and I look forward to this adventure too.

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

I have characters who are constantly talking to me and swirling around in my head. Sometimes I dream them. Right now, I think I could count about 7 stories, each with individual characters. At times, I seem like I’m being anti-social…but really I’m creating new societies. I’m glad I have such supportive friends and family, otherwise they may have had me committed a long time ago.

What writer influenced you the most?

I would have to say the C.S. Lewis is one of the most influential writers. I got lost in a wardrobe when I was a kid and I’m never really sure I ever came out. I could probably quote him all day long, but when I’m writing I think about one in particular: “Once you were a child. Once you knew what inquiry was for. There was a time when you asked questions because you wanted answers and were glad when you had found them. Become that child again; even now.” Because that is what writing is to me—returning to my inner child who is searching for answers in a story that I can both connect to and relive over and over and that is what makes me glad.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing?

Power through to the end. Writing to the end of a story is always the hardest, but once you’ve come to the end, it’s like you can suddenly breathe. It’s a kind of validation. I’d spent the greatest part of my writing life prior to this novel writing, editing and rewriting the first few chapters so I could never get past or even to the climax sometimes. It wasn’t that I didn’t know what I wanted to write, it was just that I couldn’t get past the unperfected parts to get to the end. Once I stopped trying to perfect it along the way and just powered through to the end it was as if I’d opened a floodgate and suddenly I was able to move forward with more direction and focus than ever before.

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

I’d want to have lunch with Jo March. She is a brilliant, strong writer (yes, I know she’s fictitious, but she’s based on Louisa May Alcott, so maybe that’s who I really want to have lunch with) who faced derision and rejection and not only overcame it but rose above and conquered those who told her she couldn’t succeed. She turned down a life of comfort (Laurie) for adventure, or at least for a life that would teach her more. And then she opened a non-traditional school for boys and she mothered and taught them about life, love and living. She would be an amazing person to know.

Where can we learn more about Valerie’s Vow?

From Second Wind Publishing: http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/#!product/prd15/2506087281/valerie’s-vow and Amazon

1 Comment

Filed under Author Interviews, books, writing

Interview With Robert N. Chan, Author of “Girl”

What is your book about?

A trusted member of her ultra-Orthodox Jewish community rapes fifteen-year-old Hannah in the back room of a Brooklyn kosher butcher shop. Unwilling to succumb to her parents’ demand that she blame a homeless black man, she runs away. Alone on unfamiliar New York City streets and armed only with an indomitable spirit, quirky sense of humor, and unyielding intolerance for hypocrisy and injustice, she confronts adversity after adversity.

Blaming herself for having been raped and bent on avoiding emotional intimacy, she becomes involved with an enforcer for a Serbian mobster and embarks on a life of prostitution and hard drugs. Then comes unexpected motherhood and a son she treasures. When he is arrested on trumped up charges and almost killed in prison, her wide-ranging client base, including hoods and feds, comes in handy. But her plan backfires, her son is forever lost, and she is banished to an Appalachian backwater as a protected witness. Depressed and alone, she rediscovers her childhood dream of tikkun olam, repairing the world, and charts a path to justice and redemption. All she has to do now is emerge from witness protection, outwit vengeful hit men, and run for Congress in Tea Party country as a New York Jewish former whore. Too bad about that quirky sense of humor and unyielding intolerance for hypocrisy and injustice.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

People who’d read my novel, To Gain the Whole World told me the main character’s mother was a terrific character whom I shouldn’t have killed off early in the book. So I decided to write the same story from her point of view. That didn’t work, but I had as a starting point the main character, an ultra-orthodox girl who is raped and turned out by that very conservative closed community and forced to make her way in an alien world for which she is totally unprepared.

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

The insights into the world of the Brooklyn ultra-orthodox, the main character’s struggles and triumphs, and the quality of writing which has already received eight glowing reviews on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/girl-Robert-Chan/dp/1630660957

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

I allow my main character to take the story where she wants it to go.

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

Mostly I want them to enjoy an exciting, inspiring, well-written story.

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

Extremism of all types is soul destroying and the human spirit can overcome almost all adversity.

What was the most difficult part about writing the book?

Writing about rape in a sensitive and searching way.

Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?

One who truly enjoys reading and has many friends he or she can suggest my book to.

Does writing come easy for you?

Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.

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

Fifty Shades of Gray. I could put up with the criticism of the bad writing, phony eroticism, and worship of materialism for the huge amount of money. I’m not looking to sell out but for the right price…

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

Each element is crucial as is the quality of the writing.

Where can people learn more about your books?

Second Wind Publishing: http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/#!robert-chan/c1ltt
Website: http://www.robertnchan.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robert.chan.7568596
Linked in: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=60336546&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile_pic
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/chan5642/

3 Comments

Filed under Author Interviews, writing