Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Interview with Frances Richardson author of Not All of Me is Dust



Today I would like to welcome author Frances Richardson. Tell us a little about yourself.

I believe a life dedicated to literature is a beautiful existence. Years ago I set out to work on a master's degree in English literature, but halfway in I realized that what I really wanted to do was study theology. After I obtained my master's degree in theology I was able to combine my love of the two disciplines in writing and publishing my novel, Not All Of Me Is Dust.

It's great when you can find out what your passionate about. Frances, tell us something about your main characters.

The book is an account of the cost exacted by living out a high ideal. It tells the story of three members of a particular family: imaginative, high-spirited Clare Engle, the youngest, whose childhood fantasies of Christian perfection are realized in the shattering actuality of adulthood; her beautiful conflicted sister, Kathleen; and her brother, Stephen, a priest and poet and the hero of the novel.

Will you share a short excerpt from your novel?

This is from Part Three of a three-part novel:

     "Jacques, Louis . . ." The emotion of the moment was almost more than Stephen could bear. Dropping his hands, he stepped back.
    Joyeaux shifted into gear and the van lurched forward, heading for the open gate; picking up speed, it veered out into the road.
    Just as the road began to bend to the right, before the van reached the first trees of the woods, Cormier turned round to glance back, and Stephen, standing in the very spot on the mission grounds where he had first stepped down nine months before, looking across the low wall with its purplish haze of bougainvillea, in a profound and awful silence penetrated only by the far-off four note call of some unseen, unknown bird, saw his companion's face one last time.

Have you been given any helpful advice? If so, what?

Yes, especially in regard to writer's block. "Put your work away for a while. But don't stop writing. Write 200-300 words a day on any topic: how to make and serve cucumber sandwiches; how surly your neighbor becomes when he has to mow the lawn, that kind of thing. And read, read the very best writers, whether fiction or nonfiction. Your story will come back to you."

I'll have to try that. I haven't heard that advice. Frances, did you have to do any research for your novel?

The third part takes place in a fictionalized Rwanda. I researched the tragedy that occurred there in the early 1990s extensively: the history of the country, the culture, the scenes people would have witnessed, the conditions they had to cope with.

Do you have people read your drafts before you publish?

Yes, I think every writer needs a good editor. I was very fortunate to have found two. My first editor, Gladys Leithauser, was a treasure: brilliant, nurturing and dedicated to my work. When she died of cancer, I was distraught on many levels. I was blessed to find another excellent editor, Jeanette Piccirelli. She brought me to the finish line.

So sorry to hear about your first editor. Cancer is a horrible disease that takes far too many lives. Can you tell us who designed your cover?

Very fine artists at CreateSpace. I told them what I envisioned and they drew what I consider a beautiful cover, evoking a forest scene from Part Three of the novel.

As an author one thing we all have had to deal with or will deal with is criticism? How do you handle it?

Of course, it can hurt. But sincere criticism from someone whose judgment we value can be a gift. For the rest:  I remember once happening upon Amazon reviews of the 1980 National Book Award for Fiction, William Styron's Sophie's Choice. Here are three of them:
              five stars:   "A masterpiece, one of the most harrowing books I have 
                                 ever read. It is life-changing."
              two stars:   "Hard to plow through."
              one star:    "Very depressing. Pass on it."

     Seeing this keeps one grounded, I think.

I enjoy getting constructive criticism that is done in a non hateful way. Some of it has helped me to become a better writer. It can be tough, I know we all enjoy the positive feedback. What is the best compliment you've ever received?

One of the people who reviewed my book on Amazon said that he/she walked away with a new found respect for their religion. I was very touched by that.

Frances, how many times did you read your book before you published it?

Fifty or sixty. I wrote and rewrote for years. It will never be as good as I hoped it would be, but I had to finish at some point.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I hope I will have learned how to market my work. That has been the hardest part of publishing for me.

I agree it's not anything you think about when your writing a book. I always heard that the real work starts after you write your book. You never really understand that until you start marketing the book. Any last words?

Yes. Someone once said, "Don't die with your song still locked within you."  Keep writing. Believe in yourself. Publish.




Thanks so much for sharing. Happy Reading!!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Interview with Terri Bertha Author of Spooky Twisties Series




Tell us a little about yourself  

I've lived my entire life in the rolling hills and three rivers of western Pennsylvania and the majority of my working years were as a Systems Engineer for a large corporation. When my sons were born, I took a hiatus from work, and tutored math and reading while being a substitute teacher in local schools. I returned to the workforce and retired a few years ago which allowed me to pursue my true passions of writing and art.

There is nothing better than finding the time to do what you are passionate about. Will you share a short excerpt from your novel?



From Spooky Twisties II: The Eternal Tree Story

The kids traveled down to the edge of town where the old cemetery sat between the railroad tracks and a row of huge old oak trees. Even though it was daylight, the thickness of the tree limbs and leaves turned the surroundings into darkness.

“Did anyone bring a flashlight?” asked Chris.

“I did,” said Jack. “Don’t know why. Just thought it may be helpful, along with a shovel to dig.”

When they reached the cemetery, they noticed only a few headstones, sitting crooked and half buried in the ground. The engravings on the front were barely readable from the years gone by. The kids started walking by the trees, inspecting each one.

“We found it!” yelled Chris when they got to the fifth tree. “We found the tree with the ‘X’. Everyone take a look around and see if we find anything else.”

They were about ready to start digging when Jack hollered, “I found something, guys.” Jack’s hands were brushing away dirt and leaves in the tangled roots at the base of the tree. The kids gathered around closely and watched in anticipation as he pulled out an old leather pouch.

“Here,” said Jack to Chris, handing him the pouch. “You open it.”

Chris carefully untied the rawhide strings.

“Maybe it’s a big diamond,” said Lindsay, jumping up and down. Then she stopped and said, “But how do we split up a diamond?”

“We hit it with a big hammer,” laughed Nick. “How do you think we do it?”

Everyone laughed and waited eagerly to see the pouch contents.

Chris reached inside and pulled out a piece of paper.

“Don’t tell me it’s another map,” said Nick.

“No, it looks like a poem or something.”

“What kind of stupid treasure is that?” said Paul. “A poem!”

“Hurry up and read it!” ordered Lindsay, who was the bossiest of them all. “Maybe it will tell us where to find the treasure!”

“Okay, be quiet and listen up,” said Chris.

My spirit holds here,
Tied to a tree.
Without a sacrifice,
It’s eternity.
The rope tear down,
And place below.
My spirit then free,
Will forward go.
I need release,
For me to be free.
A sign of the cross,
To bury me.
The sacrifice,
You need to show,
Is help me down,
To earth below.

“What the heck does that mean?” asked Lindsay. “It doesn’t make any sense.”


“Yeah, it doesn’t make sense. And what about the part about a sacrifice? What’s that supposed to mean?” said Paul.


Terri can you tell us what brought about the idea for this book?

One of my first stories was about a group of kids that go out to play their annual game of ghosts in the graveyard. Thinking of other things twelve-year-olds like to do and 'what if' scenarios led to additional tales which eventually became the Spooky Twisties Series. Each of the books consists of thirteen interconnected stories which follow a group of friends as they navigate their way through supernatural events in an idyllic community during the course of a ‘normal’ day. A mix of horror, humor, and ‘twisted endings’ make the short stories fun and entertaining for young and old alike.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

This may sound silly but my dream in five years would be to be collaborating on a TV series based on Spooky Twisties.  Each of my books contains 13 unique and original stories (39 stories total) which I can easily visualize as three seasons of half hour episodes.


I don't think it's silly at all. Dreams are what keep us going. I wish you all the best. Currently, what are you working on?

I am currently working on a Spooky Twisites IV involving the same group of kids, but it would be a chapter book and not individual stories.


Tell us a little bit about your main characters

My characters begin as twelve-year-olds and age as the books progress. They are everyday normal kids who like to hang out together and have fun. There is a mix of boys and girls and the stories revolve around how they solve supernatural events thrown their way in their neighborhood without adult help.

What has been the best compliment you have received?

The best compliment received was from reviews comparing my books to Goosebumps/RL Stein – “would recommend books to those who enjoy RL Stine/Goosebumps”
“Look out Goosebumps there's a new spooky series in town.”


That's a great compliment. How do you promote your books? Any tips you can share?

My promotion is shared by my publisher and myself. On my end, I use social media quite a bit, such as Facebook groups, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and my website. I also visit local libraries and donate my books.


Who designed the artwork for your cover?  Or did you design it yourself?

I submit ideas on what I’d like to see on the cover to Charlotte Volnek – head of the Art Department at MuseItUp Publishing who works with me on the design.


Is there something you learned from writing your first book?

After my first book was published, my writing developed and improved with the second and third books.  The stories were written smoother and less edits were required.  I found that the more I write, the better I write.


How many times do you think you read your book before going to print?

I easily reread my manuscript at least 10-12 times before I send it to my editor.


It's amazing how much time gets spent working on a book before it becomes published. Any last words?

Follow your dreams and turn them into something to leave your mark in this world. It’s never too late to try something new.



Thank you so much for sharing with us today! Don't forget to check out all of Terri's Spooky Tales


Friday, September 14, 2018

Interview with John Coon author of Pandora Reborn





Today I would like to welcome John Coon. Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is John Coon. I work full-time as a sports and business reporter in Utah, which is also my home state. I grew up in rural Utah and lived for a short time in Texas and Louisiana after high school. I returned to Utah in 2000 and received a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Utah. After graduating in 2004, the Salt Lake Tribune hired me to their scoreboard staff and I became a sports reporter in 2005. I worked there until 2007 when I left to take a job at the Deseret News. I stayed at the Deseret News until the end of 2010. Since the start of 2011, I have freelanced for multiple media outlets including, most notably, the Associated Press. When I'm not writing, you'll usually find me hiking a trail somewhere and taking pictures.

Wow John, you sound busy. It's amazing that you find the time to write. Will you share a short excerpt from your novel.

   "Let me put this in clear terms for you, Dean." The deputy rose from his chair and walked over to Dean's side. "There are no such things as witches, monsters, demons or whatever else your imagination is trying to cook up.”
     His firm eyes and stony expression made it clear that their chat was destined to meet an abrupt end. Dean felt dismayed at the deputy's stubbornness. After all of the sacrifices he made to keep Deer Falls safe, he had become a joke and an afterthought to this entire town. How many more times did he need to come in here before they took his warnings seriously?
     "You have to know what will happen if that chest isn't sealed and buried again."
     "I only deal in the real world,” the deputy replied. “Catching real criminals. Stopping real crimes.”
     “I'm not some random lunatic. I guarded that tree with my life for a good reason. You've have to listen to me."
     "Go get yourself cleaned up. See a psychiatrist. They'll give you some meds and counseling. It will make a world of difference for you. Trust me."
     Tears started to form in the corners of Dean's eyes. His chin dipped to his chest. He buried his mouth in his hands for a moment, before looking back up at the deputy.
     “Why would I lie about this, Deputy Palmer? What do I have to gain? All I want is to stop this monster from destroying other lives the way it destroyed mine.” 
     Deputy Palmer grabbed Dean's left arm and motioned to the door with his other hand.
     “Leave. Now.”
     “Go check out my lot,” Dean insisted. “That little thug stole the chest right out from under me. See the hole he left behind for yourself. He's in danger. His family is in danger. This whole town is in danger.”
(Pandora Reborn, Chapter 4, Pages 37-38)

John, Can you tell us what brought about the idea for this book?

Ultimately, I wrote Pandora Reborn because it told a story I really wanted to share with the world. I first developed the idea while in high school and it stuck with me for more than 20 years.

My initial story idea was sparked by a legend about the lost Rhoads mine near my hometown. Gold from the mine was supposedly used to help finance the construction of the Salt Lake Temple and the location was known only to Mormon pioneer Thomas Rhoads and his son. After they died, others died or disappeared in the Uinta Mountains over the years while searching for the mine. It led to the lost mine gaining cursed status. I wondered what could make a mine cursed and the image of an evil witch sealed in a chest popped into my head. 

As I fleshed out my characters and I started visualizing scenes, I realized it that would make a good novel. It sat on the back burner until I finally committed to putting in the work necessary to bring it to life last year.

It always amazes me how long an author can hold on to a story until they finally take the time to write it down. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Writing more fiction. Pandora Reborn is my debut novel and I have many other stories in the pipeline I wanted to flesh out and publish. Being a reporter can be mentally and emotionally draining at times. It is a high stress occupation. Writing fiction is fun because it offers an escape valve from those pressures and gives me a chance to exercise my creative muscles.

It's great when you find that release. Writing can be so rewarding, sometimes it's hard to understand why everyone doesn't do it. John, have you been given any helpful advice during this journey? If so What?

One helpful piece advice for me, that applies to every writer,  is to find your own voice. So many writers think they need to write exactly like some famous or popular author that went before them or that they need to do a vampire  story , a zombie story , or a Game of Thrones style epic because that's what sells. It's better to create stories you enjoy and carving out your own identity.  Building your own fictional worlds and characters is so much more satisfying than copying what  a zillion other authors are already doing.

I completely agree. Currently, what are you working on?

I have two projects I'm working on for the immediate future. One is a sci-fi/horror novella centered on four students from McNeese State who become stranded in a remote Texas town after their car breaks down on a spring break road trip. My goal is to publish this story before the end of the year. The other is a science fiction novel I plan to release in the summer of 2019. I do have other stories in mind involving select characters from Pandora Reborn, but I may not get to those stories until late 2019 or early 2020 at the earliest.

What has been the most difficult thing you have struggled with since you began a career in writing?

Making time to work on fiction requires a careful balancing act when being a journalist is your day job. When I wrote the rough draft for Pandora Reborn, I had to carve out whatever time I could while covering the NBA and college basketball. That wasn't an easy thing to do because covering those sports is so time intensive between writing game previews, game recaps, and features. It's so easy to feel burned out in that situation and I had to fight through those periods of burnout in order to reach my goal.

Tell us a little bit about your main characters

My main protagonist is Ron Olson. He is a teenage soccer player who is a reluctant newcomer to Deer Falls. Ron's main concern is keeping aspirations of playing college and pro soccer alive in a small town. He's kind of arrogant, single-minded and prone to drama at times. But Ron also has a good heart and is strong and brave when the occasion calls for it. I used to cover high school sports in my day job and I modeled his personality after various players I interviewed and interacted with over the years.

John, what was your favorite scene to write?

Tough question. I had so many favorite scenes, it's hard to settle on just one. One scene that does stand out as a favorite is when Christina bumps into Ron at the town park after he sneaks out of his house following an argument with his mom, Emily.

It is such a cool character defining moment for both teens. The scene climaxes in a powerful way with Ron getting his first exposure to the reality of the supernatural realm in Deer Falls. It is easy enough for him to scoff and dismiss what he is told earlier in the book by multiple characters. But when he witnesses an event for himself that challenges everything he believed, it is earth-shattering for Ron.

Ultimately, I like Ron’s evolution in the scene. He takes the first steps in a journey to overcoming his own fears and selfish attitude. Christina shows a vulnerable side of her personality for the first time and you begin to see what led a girl like her to end up with the detention crowd at Deer Falls High.

I can see why you like that scene. What  has been the best compliment  you have received?

I've had a couple of reviewers who have compared Pandora Reborn favorably to the Netflix series "Stranger Things" and one of them said it had the potential to be a TV series or a movie. That's pretty cool. An even better compliment I've received, though, is that almost everyone who has read my book has told me they have enjoyed it and couldn't put it down. I love hearing that as an author. You know at that point you've succeeded in creating a story and characters that resonate with a wide audience.

What kind of research do you do before you start a new story?

One thing I like to do before I get into a novel is I like to sketch out each major character and key scene in the story. It gives me a rough outline of what the beginning, middle and end of the story will look like and how the action will unfold. This is so helpful in combating writer's block and getting stuck on a story. The other thing that helps in sketching out characters ahead of time is that it gives you a better idea of their individual personalities. You can predict how they will react in a given situation and how they will interact with one another. Thus when the plot is set in motion, their thoughts and actions will feel more authentic because it's consistent with the personalities you've established for them as the author.

John, which do you find more challenging inventing the hero or the villain? Why?

Creating a strong antagonist presents a bigger challenge in my opinion. Your story is only as good as your villain. A complex multi-dimensional antagonist can push and challenge the hero in unexpected ways. It forces them to grow and evolve. Nothing derails a story faster than having a cliched mustache twirling villain who is evil only because the plot calls for it. Every villain should be the hero of their own story, even if their actions dictate otherwise.

Thanks so much for stopping by John. Happy Reading!!


 
Pandora Reborn is widely distributed through major booksellers worldwide. It can be found on Amazon as an ebook or a paperback. Barnes and Noble also offers ebook and paperback versions. Walmart carries the ebook through Kobo. Hundreds of independent U.S. and Canadian bookstores carry ebook and paperback copies through Kobo and Indiebound.

I have author pages at Goodreads and on Amazon. People can also check out my personal website -- http://johncoon.net -- where I maintain a blog. They can also follow me on Twitter -- my Twitter handle is @johncoonsports -- and follow my Facebook author page.




Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Interview with David Hillman author of Berkley A nose tale



Today I'd like to welcome a talented illustrator and author, David Hillman. Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve been a freelance illustrator for over 20 years, illustrating everything from comic books, storyboards, and toys and games. My book, “Berkley, A Nose Tale”, coming out on November 1st this year, will be my debut children’s book.
Congratulations! There is nothing like publishing your first book. What brought about the idea for this book?

 The image of Berkley had been in my head for a number of years. To me there was something appealing about a dog with a huge nose who uses it to his advantage. It was only in the last two years that I started to build a story around the character.




Where do you see yourself in five years? 

Continuing to write and illustrate the further adventures of Berkley, as well as the other characters I have running around in my head.
That's exciting. I love series, because the story goes on and you get to learn more about the character you love. David, have you been given any helpful advice? If so What? 

 I’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of wonderful people in my corner, and the best advice I’ve gotten so far is to take time to find my voice. Create the way you feel is right and an audience will find you.
Currently, what are you working on? 

Right now I’m roughing out the next adventures of Berkley.
Tell us a little bit about your main characters:  

Berkley is a Basset hound/Beagle mix with the biggest nose you’ve ever seen!  And he’s always sticking it where it doesn’t belong, often getting himself into trouble, but ultimately he learns how to use it to his advantage to help others.


What was your favorite scene to write?  

Anytime Berkley’s nose gets him in trouble.
Who designed the artwork for your cover?  Or did you design it yourself? 

As an illustrator I designed all the artwork myself, but my publisher’s design team did all the typesetting.
I think it looks fantastic! Is there something you learned from writing your first book?

 Creating a children’s book is not as easy as one might think, especially if you are both writing and illustrating it.
How many times do you think you read your book before going to print?

 I’ve gone through my book countless times, right up to the very moment of the last approval stage.


David, any last words?

 Writing and illustrating picture books has been a dream of mine for some time, and sometime I regret that I didn’t start sooner. However I’ve slowly come to realize that finally following my dream here and now is where I’m supposed to be.  And I’m Ok with that.

That's great! Be sure to check out Berkley and his many adventures.
Available for Pre Order Today!
http://www.blackrosewriting.com/childrens-booksya/berkleyanosetale

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Happy Reading!!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Interview with Shari Sakurai author of Demon's Blood





Today I'd like to offer a warm welcome to author Shari Sakurai. Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Shari Sakurai and I am a British author of paranormal, horror, science fiction and fantasy novels that almost always feature a LGBT protagonist and/or antagonist.

When I’m not writing I enjoy reading, going to the cinema, listening to music and spending time with my friends and family. I’m fascinated by other cultures, in particular Japanese culture, which has also influenced my work.

I understand your fascination with other cultures. There is so much beauty in other parts of the world. What brought about the idea for this book?

I’ve always been obsessed with all things paranormal, especially vampires. I have so many books exploring the origins and myths in various cultures, but noticed that whilst Japan have some monsters with vampire-like traits there aren’t any actual vampire stories originating from Japan. So it got me thinking about my own origin stories for Japanese vampires and Demon’s Blood came about mainly because of this.

I understand your obsession with Vampires. Where do you see yourself in five years?

I plan to keep writing. I have so many ideas for novels that I’m excited to share and hopefully will have more time to do this over the next few years.

Shari, currently, what are you working on?

I’m currently working on my sequel to Demon’s Blood. This will pick up where Demon’s Blood left off and will further explore the origin story in the first novel as well as focus on Thane’s search for Taku’s sire; the only vampire with the knowledge to save him.



What has been the most difficult thing you have struggled with since you began a career in writing?

Finding time to write is the most difficult thing for me. I have quite a demanding full-time job so I really struggle to find the time to do much in the week. I try to get at least a paragraph written each night but weekends are mainly my only time to do a lot of writing.

Consistency is the key, even if it's only in small bits. I hope to one day be able to write full time. Tell us a little bit about your main characters

The main two characters in Demon’s Blood are vampires Taku Kokawa and Thane Bremen. Taku and Thane are lovers, and Taku is also Thane’s sire.

Taku seems over-confident, short-tempered, arrogant and detached. These traits are ones that are seen primarily by those who do not know him well or who cross him. Taku has little compassion for humans and makes no secret of his loathing for other vampires. He feels that most humans are not worth his time and he is wary of his own kind. This natural isolation makes it difficult for anyone to get to know the real Taku and he is generally guarded when it comes to forming relationships. Hidden by the confidence there are insecurities, fears and doubts that Taku is afraid of even acknowledging as he believes that doing so would be a form of weakness. Despite not being able to show it as often as he perhaps should, Taku loves Thane very much and everything he does is ultimately motivated by his desire to keep Thane safe. 

Thane is the opposite of Taku personality-wise. He’s compassionate and has a lot of empathy for their victims. Thane hates killing and only does so out of necessity. He’s not afraid of his emotions and often gets upset at Taku’s inability to understand them. Thane tries his best to remain similar to the person that he was before he was turned into a vampire and dislikes using his supernatural abilities. Thane can be quite na├»ve and prefers to see the good in others rather than the bad. Thane’s kind nature is a rarity, if not unique in their kind, and Taku, against perhaps his own best judgement, tries to shield Thane from the darker sides to their existence as much as possible.

What was your favorite scene to write?

The scene in Silver Park just before Taku and Thane are attacked by a vampire hunter. Thane’s concern for Taku and Taku’s response makes him realise for the first time that something is terribly wrong with his lover.

What kind of research do you do before you start a new story?

For Demon’s Blood I did a lot of historical research into the Edo period in Japan’s history and also brushed up on my knowledge of Victorian times in England. I also researched monsters similar to vampires in Japanese mythology.

. 
Shari, how do you handle criticism when it comes to your writing?

Constructive criticism rarely bothers me. I find it helpful in a review for a reader to tell me if there was anything that didn’t work for them or they found confusing so I can take their comments into consideration when working on future novels.

Which do you find more challenging inventing the hero or the villain?  Why?

I’d say the hero. With a hero there are certain lines that you cannot cross, whereas with a villain they can go as far as their character will let them.

How many times do you think you read your book before going to print?

I read it at least ten times. I’m a complete perfectionist and I probably read it too many times if I’m honest, but ten times is the minimum that I allow myself before hitting print!



Thanks for sharing with us today. Happy Reading!!

Websites: http://www.sharisakurai.com and http://www.perfectworldseries.com