Friday, December 29, 2017

Interview with Mamoona Arshad author of Opposite Similarities The Journey Towards Joy

I'd like to welcome Mamoona Arshad author of Opposite Similarities The Journey Towards Joy.  Will you tell us a little about yourself. 
My name is Mamoona Arshad, I am21 and a girl. I live in Italy but I was born in Pakistan that’s why the not so commonly Italian name ;) I have been a book lover and worm since I can remember. Apart from that, I hate going out. Maybe the fact that I love books, hate going out and write stories are related.
·What got you into writing?
So, as I said I love books even though not every genre but mainly Romance and YA. I have always imagined stories and scenes while listening to some sad music. One day I shared my imaginations with a friend who suggested me to write on Wattpad and that’s how it all started, one chapter after the other, I got passionate about writing.

It is such a blessing when we find something we are passionate about. Share a short excerpt from your novel.

I think I would like to share my favorite scene form the novel.

“Mom, wake up!” I try to shake her, but she is not answering. “Please, don't leave us alone!” I insist while a doctor is checking her.
She is laying on the stretcher in this eternal night. Her skin is shining, she is so beautiful while sleeping. I wait for the doctor after he has checked her. He doesn't look at me, he tries to avoid any eye contact.
“She is going to be okay, isn't she?” I ask with a strange burning sensation in my chest.
He lifts up his face and from his eyes I already know the answer, but still I have a little hope.
“I am extremely sorry, my dear. She is no more.”
No, this can't happen, she can't leave me. How can someone leave in this way their children? No, this is not true, it is a joke.  
“Mom, wake up! Please...” I beg her, just for once she has to get up. “Mommy, don't play jokes on me! Wake up!” I shake her angrily, but the doctor tries to hold me back. He has no right to keep a daughter distant from her mother.
“Leave me!” I try to get away from his hold with all my strength.
“It's a dream, Candice. Wake up!” I hear a voice. But I don't know where it is coming from.
“How do I get up? Please help me,” I shout desperately.
Suddenly, I feel strong hands holding my arms. As I open my eyes, I am flashed by a strong light. I try to orientate myself and my eyes find his.
Aaron is here.
I was having a nightmare. My heart is beating so fast that I fear it will blast out of my chest.
“It was not real,” he says softly.
Yes, it was and the reality continues to chase me. However, this time I woke up to comfort and affection. I was able to get out of that night.
He keeps looking at me. His emerald eyes are the hope I need. After so much time I have been able to fight my demons. My eyes are burning with tears, but I can't help admiring the man who is sitting here with me and for me.
I wrap my arms around him. His body is like my long searched shelter. I rest my head on his shoulder and there has been no moment like this in these last months. I feel at peace and calm. It feels like the storm has gone and has left an immense, comforting silent. He caresses my back whispering comforting words. Our bodies are so close that I can feel his breath down my neck. Slowly my tears stop and the burning sensation in the chest disappears leaving its place to a tranquil sensation. His heartbeat is like lullaby for my eyes. 

Currently, what are you working on?
Since, my first novel, Opposite Similarities – The journey Towards Joy is part of the Opposite Similarities Series I am working on the second book which continues with the story of Candice and Aaron.
In the meanwhile I keep writing on Wattpad serialized stories.
 Mammona tell us a little bit about your main characters?

My main characters are Candice and Aaron.
Candice is a nineteen years old girl who is trying to overcome the tragedy of her life. She can be described as a strong female character who needs the support of someone to find the strength in herself , in fact she is the strongest character of the whole novel.
Aaron is a rich businessman who however is really down to earth and humble. He has gone through a lot since his childhood and that reflects in him in his adult age.

Share something with us not a lot of people know about you.

Okay so... This is actually a fact that defines me a lot which only few people know: I can speak five languages: Italian, Urdu/Hindi, English, Spanish and French. The first three are part of my everyday life and have been since I was little. However, I learnt Spanish and French in High School.

I have always wanted to speak several languages, I am still trying to master Spanish.  What was your writing process like?

It was like a roller-coaster ride. I  was writing Opposite Similarities when I was in High School so I had to make time for School, family and writing. I would think about the chapters in school and start crafting them as bullet points and then write them in the evening. I have never faced difficulties regarding creating the story but making the story. However, the starting was nothing, it was not challenging, and I was having fun creating the story. The actual challenge came when I finally decided that I wanted to self-publish it. I knew nothing about it. So first, I informed myself about self-publishing. Then, I created a little plan but the problem about self-publishing is that it doesn’t depend everything on the author especially while asking bloggers and reviewers to promote or review the book. Sometimes, I would feel like giving up because it was getting too stressful but then a little compliment and encouragement towards my writing would make me walk a little more on this path. Eventually, I published it and people have been really supporting me during this initial phase as an author. 

  It’s great to have a team for support.  Writing has its ups and downs. It is hard but rewarding. What are your hobbies aside from writing, if any?
  If I am not writing I am for sure reading or watching Sci-Fi series and movies.
  Which is your favorite book?

It has to be hands down Rebecca Donovan’s Breathing Trilogy’s first book: Reason to Breath. It is actually the first book I read which was not related to school and from there on a new journey started.

   Since you wrote in this genre, do you think you will ever write in other genres?

Romance is my favorite genre and I have written contemporary Romance but I would like to discover Teen Fiction too. I have personally really enjoyed the books I have read in this genre so maybe, who knows, one day I will write one.

Thanks for sharing.  Happy Reading!!

Here are the links to my book and social media accounts:

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Interview with Kay MacLeod author of Heirs of Power

Welcome Kay, thank you so much for taking the time to join with us today. Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi everyone, I’m Kay MacLeod and I’m addicted to fantasy. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the concept of magical worlds. I was the kid with dragons doodled around the edge of her school work, the one with her head constantly buried in a book. As a teen, I shunned partying to play Magic the Gathering and DM Dungeons and Dragons games.

Through the years, I’ve always made up stories and took characters on amazing adventures, in the privacy of my own mind. Now I want to share them with other people.

I live with my husband and cat in Nottinghamshire in England. When I’m not writing (or planning something I’m writing) I’m usually working, reading, playing bass for my church’s worship team, playing computer games (World of Warcraft, Dragon Age, Pokemon, Minecraft) or drinking tea.

Mmm, time to put the kettle on…

An author after my own heart.  I love that there are no limits when writing fantasy.  If you can imagine it, then it can happen.  Will you share an excerpt from Heirs of Power with us?

The grey-skins still hadn’t used any of their powers, but they may have been waiting for their troops to wear down the Lucidians, and it was a frustrating niggle in Kitty’s mind as she did her best to pick them out among the scramble of the battlefield. She spied one and honed in on him, swiftly firing four arrows in the direction of the grey-skinned man, killing him along with another soldier he was conferring with.
 Asher had apparently found what he was looking for as well, and he tapped a hefty soldier he had been fighting, Juggling Kaphira directly into the path of his blade and swinging it with enough force at her throat to take off her head. The impact jarred his whole body as the sword barely bit into her skin, leaving a thin line oozing almost-black blood. The enhanced loyalist snarled and drew two long serrated knives from the folds of her wraps, driving one into Asher’s side as he attempted to wrench the sword from her neck.
 Although Kitty didn’t remember lifting Venethos, the look of panic on Kaphira’s face struck her, the woman was uncertain whether Tenebri defences would stave off Lucidian magic. Kitty fired masses of conjured arrows into the creature that had dared to cut down another Constellation in front of her. The grey-skin managed to turn sideways, taking most of the arrows to the arm and shoulder, and in the next moment Kaphira’s minions were pulling her back, shielding their mistress with a wall of bodies as she escaped in a blast of enhanced speed, black and white arrows hanging from her skin.
 “Asher!” Kitty gasped, “Are you alright?”
 Somehow, he was still up-right and only a small dark patch the size of a finger-tip showed above his left hip where he’d been injured.
 “Just fine, love. Nice overreaction.” She could feel him grinning even though he was faced away and poised for the next attack. 
 “I thought she stabbed you, you idiot!” Kitty nearly sobbed.
 “Juggled it for some guy’s rolled up bandana soon as it touched me.” He shrugged while finishing off another foe. “Hope I find it later, that was a nice blade.”
 “Now I feel like stabbing you,” Kitty grumbled, driving head-shots into the men closest to Asher, hoping he was annoyed that she was stealing kills.
 “Get in line, love. These fellas were here first, and I reckon that ugly wench wants another go… Will you stop that?” He sighed as she took down another soldier he was about to face off with. “You’re a bloody nuisance.”

Which do you prefer: print books or ebooks?

I’m not too bothered, it’s way more about the words for me. As long as the story is good, I barely notice the world around me, including what I’m reading it on. EBooks probably come out slightly ahead though, because although having a physical copy is nice, they take longer to get hold of. One-day delivery is too long when you really need to know what happens next!

I agree there are some definite advantages when you go with an ebook. If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go and why?

I would love to go on safari. Just visit the gorgeous scenery across Africa in general, but the animals would be enough for me. If I got to see a wild cheetah on the hunt that would be the perfect experience, they’re my favourite animal, and so beautiful. I even cried the first time I saw a real one in a zoo, I’m not that emotional usually but that was an amazing moment.

Well I hope you get to that safari soon.  I just went to the zoo where the keeper told me Cheetahs will be extinct in the wild in ten years if we don't do more.  They are beautiful creatures.  I hope I was misinformed. Currently, what are you working on?

The second book of The Constellation Saga! The first draft is done so it’s getting close to completion, I’m just tweaking and improving some bits and it’ll be off to my awesome beta readers very soon.

Beta readers are awesome.  I don't know how some authors get by without using them. Kay can you tell us a little bit about your main characters?

Kitty Fairlow is the main character who finds out that she’s inherited the Constellation’s spirit of The Archer. She has some cool powers like enhanced senses and a magic bow called Venethos that creates its own arrows. I love Kitty because she’s so normal in a situation that’s suddenly become alien to her. Now, magic exists, and she’s expected to defend her entire world from an invasion of creatures that fuel their abilities by draining the life from other beings. Kitty’s a gentle soul really, nurturing and a little naïve at times, but at the same time she’s pretty badass and steps up to the challenges her new life brings. She struggles with inadequacy, like we all do sometimes, and crowded social situations, especially with the intense amount of information her powerful senses take in. I try to show that having magic and being a hero isn’t always a great thing.

Asher Grey thinks he’s the main character… He’s another of the Constellations, with the power of The Juggler. If he can see an object similar to the one he’s touching he can switch their positions, this is great for combat because he can move enemies or weapons around to put himself at an advantage or move his friends out of danger. It’s also good for annoying people, which is one of his hobbies. Asher’s quick-witted, mainly using this special ability to thoroughly insult people, but also for coming up with creative plans to help the heroes achieve their goals. He’s quite irritable and arrogant sometimes, but, as Kitty says, ‘if he’s got a heart, it’s in the right place.’

Serena Olbridge also likes to think she’s the main character haha. And in many books, I think she may have been. A descendant of the royal family, she’s spent most of her life playing the body double to the princess. She’s used to being adored and obeyed, living a strange life that teeters between having the opulence of one of the most important people in the world, balanced with the very real threat of assassination. She’s inherited the spirit of The Dancer, along with a pair of magical, bladed fans and a host of physical abilities that make her near unstoppable in combat. Serena finds just being herself difficult now that she’s been removed from her job, it’s hard work trying to get people as obnoxious as Asher to cooperate when you don’t have the authority of a princess. 

I am a fan of sequels, 1 book is never enough.  Good luck finishing up book number two. How did you decide on what to title each book?

I tried to condense the very essence of each book, what it was really about, into as few words as possible. Heirs of Power isn’t just about Kitty. Yes, she’s the main character, but the journey is as all-encompassing and life-changing for every one of the Constellations. They’ve all inherited not only great gifts and powers, but a huge responsibility that demands sacrifice. The story belongs to all of them.

Book Two is titled The Mage-Lord’s Legacy. You get to find out a bit about the Mage-Lords in Heirs of Power, but you’ll have to wait to read the second part to find out what they’ve left as their legacy ;)

Do you have people read your drafts before you publish?  How do you select beta readers?

Yes! It’s so important to get feedback on what you write. Depending on the day, what I’ve done so far is either the greatest fantasy novel in existence or the worst piece of rubbish to sully a monitor screen and should be immediately deleted. Sometimes it’s even the same piece. And there’s a good chance that neither is true.

I’m so blessed to have my sister, I send her each chapter as I finish the first draft and she tells me the truth about what’s there. Including if it needs changing, even two or three, or eight, times. Then she reads it all at the end and helps me fix it. And gives it an extra proof after it’s edited. She’s awesome.

I have other beta readers too, I go for people that enjoy reading the genre, so they know what it has to measure up against. Every one of them provides valuable feedback and helps me shape the finished novels.

It's difficult but vital to find readers who find the flaws in your story.  But they are so valuable.  Who designed the artwork for your cover?  Or did you design it yourself?

It was done by the very talented Olivia from oliviaprodesign on Fiverr. Get one of her covers. Even if you aren’t writing a book, just own one. They’re pretty :D

What brought about the idea for your book?

As an author, I want to do things that are different, so I thought of a few common traits seen across a lot of fantasy books and attempted to flip them around. Instead of a chosen one, I decided to have a group that were all just as important as each other. I wanted powers that had never been seen before, hence Asher’s Juggling gift. And it was important for me to have an enemy that weren’t evil just because they’re bad, the Tenebri need the life energy of others to survive- they aren’t striving for power or greed. They’re in this to survive.

What are your hobbies aside from writing, if any?

I’m a massive geek, really! I love computer games, if I’m not reading or writing it’s what I love to do most. I especially enjoy RPGs that have epic storylines and well-written companion characters (Dragon Age!), or anything Pokémon. If I ever get some free time in my life I’d love to get back into playing Dungeons and Dragons, I tend to play as the Dungeon Master because it’s just another excuse for me to come up with stories. And I’m a lapsed Magic: The Gathering fan too. I’ve started collecting Malifaux miniatures recently, it’s a steampunk tabletop game and I’m really looking forward to getting some painted and played with.

Check out Kay below at any of these great sights and don't forget to check out Heirs of Power.  Happy Reading!!



Friday, December 22, 2017

Interview with Nancy Quinn Author of Go West, Young Woman!

Today I would like to welcome Nancy Quinn, author of Go West, Young Woman!  Nancy why don't you start off by telling us a little about yourself.

I am a wildlife artist and recently became a published author with Hellgate Press.  I live with my family, horses, and dogs on a mountain in western Montana where I paint and write about our experiences living in the modern, but still wild, west.

What got you into writing?

When my husband retired from the Air Force we left Washington, D.C., to pursue a more rural lifestyle.  We loved the mountains and had purchased land two years earlier in Montana.  We discovered a steep learning curve to mountain living.  We had to deal with wild animals, weather, and a host of other challenges when building and settling into our new home.  We had many interesting and unusual experiences, and I found that sharing our stories with friends and family back east generated a lot of interest in modern frontier life.  What started as amusement and entertainment for them soon evolved into a writing career for me. 

That's exciting.  I would love to live a more rural lifestyle, but worry about the wild animals!  Will you share a short excerpt from your novel

"It looks like a modern-day covered wagon,” I quipped as I examined the heavy blue tarp that covered the back of our new pickup truck, a gunmetal grey Ford F250. Underneath, were stacked my husband’s tools, along with other basic necessities we would need for our new life in Montana. They filled the eight-foot bed, and overflowed into the U-Haul trailer his mother had managed to secure for us. It was the last one available in the tri-state area, and thanks to her dogged efforts, we acquired it, instead of one of the thousands of graduating seniors who were disgorging this same week from nearby Florida State University.

As we hurried about, checking the lashings one last time before we departed, I scanned the scene. It was a bright and beautiful spring day, and the sun glinting off of the metal body contrasted sharply with the shimmering tarp. Colorful as it was, I tried to imagine it was not unlike the prairie schooners of the pioneer stories I loved reading in my childhood. The idea that I too was moving west was like a dream finally come true. But it had started as a nightmare...

What a great selection, I am curious already about the trials that you went through. Nancy, if you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go and why?

I would love to see Greece.  I missed an opportunity to visit it when I was young.  It has so much history, and I think walking among the ruins and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea would be amazing experiences.  I’ve also heard that Scotland and Ireland have truly beautiful scenery, and Italy’s Tuscany region would be great to explore.

Currently, what are you working on?

I am currently working on the sequel to my book, “Go West, Young Woman!”.  It covers the next five years of our story.

Share something with us not a lot of people know about you.

I have a keen interest and background in music. I studied voice for years and sang professionally for a while.  Even though I’ve remained a novice, I enjoy playing the piano and guitar. 

I regret not sticking with the piano.  I love to hear people play.  Who designed the artwork for your cover?  Or did you design it yourself?

The book cover is a photograph taken from our front porch.  In my opinion, the rainbow represents hope, which is a recurring theme of the book.

How do you promote your books? Any tips you can share?

I have recently begun making YouTube videos, and started my own channel.  I share recipes from my books, visits with our horses, and have future projects in development.  Essentially, I focus on various fun and informative aspects of the high mountain western lifestyle.  I keep them short in duration and always try to include a bit of humor.

That's a great way to draw people in.  I am a very visual person.  What are your hobbies aside from writing, if any?

I enjoy reading and collecting books about design, decorating, and architecture. I also like to refinish old furniture, and collect antique glass candy dishes.  I think it is fun to research their history and find out in what part of the world they were designed and manufactured.  I like to garden as well, growing both flowers and vegetables.

Nancy any last words?

I hope my efforts as a wildlife artist and author will provide a smile to those who see my work, and help inspire people to discover and pursue their own dreams.

Congrats and good luck with the sequel!  Thank you so much for sharing with us today.  Don't forget to check out Go West, Young Woman!  Happy Reading!!

Nancy Quinn
Wildlife Artist and Author
Visit my website Quinn Art
Learn more about my Book or view the Video Book Trailer
Also available through Amazon and my Publisher
Find me on Facebook or Goodreads

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Interview with J.R. Lindermuth author of The Tithing Herd

Today I am hosting J.R. Lindermuth.  Welcome J.R. tell us a little about yourself.

I'm a retired newspaper editor and live in the small town in central Pennsylvania where I was born. Since retiring I've served as librarian for my county historical society, assisting patrons with genealogy and research. I also write a weekly history column for the local newspaper. Both my children (a son and daughter) and their spouses live nearby, as well as my four grandsons. During my newspaper days I wrote and had published articles and even a few short stories in various magazines. I didn't publish a novel until after my retirement. I've now published 16 novels and a non-fiction regional history and contributed to an anthology or two.

Wow, you have been busy in your retirement.  Congratulations! What got you into writing?

I've always been a voracious reader and that led to writing my own stories in my teens. But, originally, I wanted to be an artist. I'd just been accepted to art school when I received my draft notice. The Army didn't need an artist, so they sent me to J-school, which provided me a means of making a living later.

First off let me thank you for your service.  I am so thankful to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve.  What is your writing process like? Do you have a routine?

I believe it's important to write every day. I don't force myself to a word count. I think the discipline is more important than burdening yourself with a word goal. When I'm in the grip of a story my output tends to increase. I'm more of a pantser than a plotter. I basically know the direction I'm heading, but knowing everything that's going to happen in advance would stifle my interest in the story. I like to let my characters surprise me.

I need to be more dedicated in my writing.  I do try and do something for my writing everyday, but sometimes it's promoting or editing.  I need to write a little more I think.  Since you wrote in this genre, do you think you will ever write in other genres?

Most of my writing has been in the mystery and historical fiction genres. The Tithing Herd is my second 'traditional' western. Though set in Pennsylvania, an editor felt two of my earlier books had the feel of westerns and promoted them as such.

What brought about the idea for your book?

I was reading about the Mormons in the west and how some lacking cash paid their tithe in cattle. That was the spark for the idea.

I love it when a true story sparks an idea.  Mormons did pay tithing with cattle, some with chickens, whatever they had at the time.  They wanted to be faithful and used what they could to fulfill the commandment.  I happen to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints aka the Mormon church. The faith of those early pioneers is something I admire. J.R. can you tell us a little bit about your main characters.

Luther (Lute) Donnelly, a former lawman, is tracking rustlers who killed his brother and cost him his job. Though not a member of the church, Lute is in love with Serene McCullough, a Mormon widow, and had planned to marry her before his troubles. While on the trail he rescues Tom Baskin, a young boy who also has a score to settle with the rustlers. Lute's desire for vengeance is replaced by another more important goal when the bandits kidnap Serene and hold her ransom for the cattle, pitting him against dangerous odds in a desperate quest to save the woman he loves.

Share a short excerpt from your novel:

Tom sipped his milk but ignored the plate of cookies Mrs. Foulds pushed at him. “Why do they treat me like a child?” he asked.

“It’s not that, honey,” Molly told him, reaching a hand across the table to pat his arm. “They just don’t want you to get hurt.” Mrs. Foulds had no children but that didn’t lessen her maternal instinct.

“I was with Moon and Dent for weeks and they never once tried to shoot me.”

“Yeah, but you were doing their dirty work then and not asking for the money they owe you. And you weren’t riding with Lute, either.”

“What is it between them, anyway?”

Mrs. Foulds picked up a cookie and absent-mindedly broke it in two. She looked at Tom, the glow of the oil lamp between them reflected in her eyes which had gone suddenly serious. “It happened about a year ago,” she said.

She nibbled pensively at a piece of the cookie before continuing. “Lute was county sheriff then, and a right good one he was. Everybody—Mormon and Gentile alike—respected him.

“Moon and Dent, they’d drifted into the area a few years before. Saddle-bums. They got into scrapes now and again. Nothing serious until they linked up with a fellow called Spanish. Nobody knows his real name. Some say he’s a Basque from up in Idaho. Nobody knows for certain where he came from. Anyway, them and a couple others started rustling, robbing miners, raising all kind of ruckus.

“Like I said, Lute was a good sheriff. He got on their trail and it wasn’t long until he had Moon and Dent in jail awaitin’ trial. Spanish busted them out and in the process killed two deputies—one of them Lute’s younger brother and the other a fellow who’d grown up with them.”

“So, he’s been tracking them ever since,” Tom said.

“Yeah. He not only lost his brother and a friend. He lost his job over the incident,” Molly said, nodding her head. “But it goes deeper than that. Lute’s no longer interested in justice. He’s after revenge now. And that’s no good for any man.”

There were tears in Molly’s eyes now and Tom reached out and took her hand. “You care a whole lot for him, don’t you?”

Molly wiped at her eyes with the back of one chubby hand and gave Tom a weak smile. She nodded. “Clem and me never had no children of our own. We love him like a son. Oh, he’s stubborn and he can be mighty tough, but there’s a tenderness to him that just makes a woman ache to care for him.

“After it happened, the county took away his badge. They blamed him just like he blamed himself. He turned his back on the woman he was supposed to marry, on us, on everybody that cared about him.

“We wanted him to stay here. It wasn’t just charity, though that’s the way he sees it. Clem’s getting up in years and could use the help. Lute don’t know a thing about cows, but he’s real handy with horses. He could have found peace here.”

“But he couldn’t let those men get away,” Tom said. “They had to pay.”

Molly smiled again. “You sound like him. Don’t you see—it wasn’t his concern anymore. He wasn’t sheriff. It wasn’t his fault and he needs to stop blamin’ himself. He should let the fate of those men up to the law and God.”
J.R. what are your hobbies aside from writing, if any?

Naturally, spending time with family. Reading. Drawing. Genealogy. Walking.

I love to walk.  I'd like to get more into Genealogy.  I am trying to learn some of the new programs out there.  Currently, what are you working on?

In Silence Sealed, the eighth in my Sticks Hetrick mystery series, will be released in February by Torrid Books, a division of Whiskey Creek Press/Start Publishing. In the meantime, I'm at work on another western.

J.R. how do you promote your books? Any tips you can share with struggling authors?

This is the tough part for all of us, whether we're self- or otherwise published. How to stand out and find an audience amidst all the competition? There are no independent bookstores near me now and the few chains in the area haven't been particularly friendly. So, on the local scene, I've worked with libraries, some clubs and groups open to signings/programs and any other outlet willing to provide an opportunity.  I haven't the revenue for big advertising or tours. Friends and family have been helpful in spreading the word (few options are better than word of mouth, in my opinion). And, naturally, I utilize all the online opportunities I can find--social media, blogging, guest blogging, reviews, etc. I would encourage any writer to join groups where writers help one another. One such group is the Short Mystery Fiction Society, where I served a term as vice president. Though focused primarily on short stories, a majority of the members are also novelists and promoting one another is encouraged.

I have found other authors to be a great resource to go to for help and advice.  Most are more than happy to help. Have you been given any helpful advice over the years?

When I was striving to be an artist I asked the painter Thomas Hart Benton for advice on succeeding. His reply was one word: Paint. I think the same might be applied to writing. As Stephen King once said, "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot." The writing community is one of the most friendly and helpful you'll ever find. If you need advice on any aspect of writing, it's available for the asking.

Find out more about J.R. at the sites below.  Happy Reading!!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Live AMA going on now

If you have questions about self publishing or navigating the Indie World, drop by and add to the conversation.

Ask Me Anything

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Interview with Nancy O'Hare author of Dust in My Pack

This week I'd like to welcome Nancy O'Hare author of Dust in My Pack, traveling tales from around the world. Share with us a little about yourself.  

I grew up on an acreage in western Canada. I remember feeling excited when my dad returned from his work trips abroad, I wanted to hear all about the far-off places he had visited. One time he brought a wooden hand drill from Kuwait, it was used to make dhow boats. Another time, he returned from the Arctic with handcrafted snowshoes with a leather mesh base. My mom had also worked abroad in Bermuda before she got married. So, my parents influenced my interest to explore the world. I eventually became a Chartered Accountant and targeted international roles. My first transfer abroad was to Australia. Thereafter, I had some short-term projects in Ecuador and Qatar and then moved abroad to work in Oman, Switzerland and, most recently, Nigeria. I combined my interest in the local culture with new perspectives that I gained along the way to try to build well functioning and respectful teams.

More recently, I craved more control over my time. I wanted to create something that I felt passionate about, something that left a positive mark from my efforts. So, I quit my job. My husband and I went travelling. We studied Spanish in Guatemala and spent five months practicing our new language skills through Central America and Cuba. Then I started to write.

That's so exciting.  I would love to travel more.  I have only been to Mexico and various states in the US.  Someday I'd like to travel across the oceans.  Can you share an excerpt from your novel with us?


The Basics

Synopsis: Escape the crowds at Siem Reap to discover Khmer architecture in solitude, loftily balanced upon a cliff in the isolated Dangrek Mountains.

Most useful item to pack: Small local currency for snacks and tips.

For further travel information: For further information on the site, refer to

Due to ongoing and fluid military activity, be sure to look into the current security situation before heading out. Check with your hotel, recent travellers’ experiences and your home country’s security travel advisories.

The Experience

As fans of Indiana Jones and obscure adventures, we struck gold with the opportunity to visit the eleventh-century Khmer Prasat Preah Vihear (“Temple of Preah Vihear”). This reputed masterpiece of Khmer architecture lies on a jungle-covered ridge of disputed land along the Cambodian–Thai border. Cambodia and Thailand have been squabbling over ownership of this precious land for ages. When we visited in 2010, the situation was relatively calm. However, we checked in advance with many sources as to the security of the site, including the Government of Canada’s Travel Advice and Advisories, recent visitors’ blog posts, comments on and local advice from staff at our hotel in Siem Reap.

The temple itself is at the crux of the conflict. Its stone walkways have seen frequent skirmishes between the two countries’ militaries. Even a ruling by the International Court of Justice in 1962 that favoured Cambodia did not settle the issue. Instead it has continued to percolate over the years. In 2008, UNESCO recognized the Temple of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site. They allotted this prestige to Cambodia, which twisted an already searing thorn in Thailand’s ego. In 2015, the International Court of Justice ruling was revisited, and once again the court confirmed that Cambodia’s sovereign claim to the lands was indeed valid. The judgement reiterated Thailand’s responsibility to remove its military from the area.

The temple’s remote location merely increased its allure to us. We were enticed by the obscureness of this isolated work of art, compared to Angkor Wat’s easily accessible esplanades. The territory had received its first paved road only within the last ten years. This distant frontier was shrouded in heavy greenery that draped across the entire Dangrek Mountain range. Calling these sandstone slabs “mountains” might have been a stretch, as the highest peak was less than 2,500 metres. I would argue that a rolling miscellany of bluffs and lowlands would be a more apt description. From the air, it would have appeared as if the land had been taken over by an overzealous broccoli farmer. At ground level, these florets transformed into plump, full-grown trees with leaves spreading in a circle as if trying to nuzzle up against the neighbouring trees.

Our first challenge was getting to the site. The Lonely Planet guidebook described the roads as a muddy slog, especially in the rainy season when we were there. Public transport seemed a poor option to take to such a remote area, given the questionable connections during the wet season. Instead, we hired a car and driver for two days. Our driver had been in the army, based at the Preah Vihear station, so he knew the route well. The temple could be visited as a long day trip from Siem Reap. However, we wanted to stop at the ruins of Koh Ker and Beng Mealea on our return journey. These spectacular sites were part of the Angkor Wat complex, but they lay far from the main centre. They provided the perfect stopoff point for our return route.

We set off early in the morning, leaving the mayhem of central Siem Reap to turn into a quickly fading memory. Country folks pedalled earnestly to get to work in the city. The bikes were simple, single-shift contraptions built for function over comfort or speed. After an hour of driving, the city’s congestion dissolved. The remainder of the drive passed by rice fields immersed in water. Most of the intermittent stilted houses were hubs of activity; women hung laundry and old men lounged in hammocks while pigs and chickens rummaged in the dirt. Along the roadside, ladies walked with lengthy bamboo rods balanced across their shoulders. Typically, a basket of food or some essential merchandise hung from each end of the pole. Other people worked in the fields, shin deep in water and muck. Their backs must have ached with all the bending, day after day.

As we neared our destination, a dusty, formerly white pickup truck roared alongside our vehicle. It was crowded with local men, all yelling and motioning for our driver to pull his car to the side of the road. This was not the welcome we had anticipated. ...

Excerpt From


Nancy O'Hare

This material is protected by copyright.

Nancy when you pick up a book which do you prefer, print or ebooks?

When reading travel guide books or when travelling in general, I prefer ebooks. I like being able to tap inconspicuously into my guidebook to check a map or re-read its explanations at a site from a smartphone. I feel far less like an obvious “tourist” than if I had to lug out a thick guidebook, which tends to attract touts and scam artists. My luggage also likes the weightlessness of ebooks - as do my shoulders!

However, when I read at home I prefer a paperback. The pages offer a nice break on my eyes from looking at a computer screen. I also find it more relaxing to sit down with a coffee and a physical book, it somehow feels more genuine.

For someone who has traveled so much I am curious to see how you answer the next question. If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go and why?

Greenland for trekking

Ethiopia for trekking, food and culture

Uruguay for language, culture and wine

Bolivia for the salt fields and trekking

Zanzibar for architecture, culture and history

I better stop, as I have a long list! 

Don't worry.  That's great!  I might try some of those, although Greenland might be a little too cold for my taste. Currently, what are you working on?

I am wrapping up a four-month trip from the Baltics to Brunei. Adventures and stories from this trip will feature in my second book, which I am keen to start writing once I am back home. The most physically challenging piece was a seventeen-day trek through Bhutan’s Himalayan mountains. The Snowman Trek is considered the hardest trek in the world and only fifty percent of people finish it.

Beyond trekking, I aim to share stories from diverse regions such as Myanmar and Lithuania. I feel like there is so much fear and isolation searing global society at the moment, that people need to hear about people and places from a different perspective. My writing delves into experiences from Buddhist, Islamic and just plain interesting places from around our world. The more I travel, the more I am convinced that we are all more similar than different, just trying to care for our families and live a good life. I want to do my part in sharing this mindset and breaking down preconceptions of an “us” versus “them” mentality. 

I'll leave the trekking to you.  I consider myself in fairly good shape but after my last trip to Utah, I need to figure out how to adjust to the altitude.  It did me in.  How did you decide on what to title each book?

Dust in My Pack came to me in the middle of the night. On this particular night, I could not stop thinking about my book. I had drafted a third of it. Sleep evaded me. Then the title “Dust in My Pack” shot into my head and it resonated. I travel with a backpack but am not the stereotypical twenty-something backpacker - in fact, I am in my forties. “Dust” can mean the basic grit and grime of travelling to distant places or the weathered memories that have accumulated like piles of dust in my mind.

It's a great title!  Nancy most authors struggle with promoting their book, so I am always looking for some new advice that maybe not all of us have thought of. How do you promote your books? Any tips you can share?

This is a constant challenge. The Goodreads author program and its groups have offered great suggestions for low-cost and free organizations that promote indie authors‘ books. There are also a few Facebook groups that have been a fantastic source of insight, in particular Writers of Non-Fiction and Travel by Book. They have helped with ad hoc questions and specific marketing ideas. 

I agree, I found great groups on facebook and goodreads.  Nancy, who designed the artwork for your cover?  Or did you design it yourself?

Bright Wing Books designed my cover and the eBook interior. They are a small company based in Nelson, BC, Canada and were an absolute pleasure to work with. I felt like we were a true partnership in creating my book’s look. 

My husband and I had spent a few nights from 11:00 pm to 3:00 am to shoot my silhouette with the Milky Way and the northern lights. The Bright Wing team used these photographs plus came up with their own ideas for cover options. They listened to my feedback from the initial drafts and created a second batch. One option in particular stood out. I was enraptured by it, this was the look I had wanted.

The final cover conveyed my intent for the book. It captured the travel theme, a search for new destinations and covered the entire world with its outline of the continents in the sky. Plus, it used my husband’s photography that I loved and he had worked so hard to shoot. 

It's a great feeling when your designer can capture the idea you envisioned. What brought about the idea for your book?

It came about slowly. I tried to write abut other topics tied closer to my former career, but the writing did not flow. Finally, I decided to write about what has always motivated me, travel. Even when I first decided to specialize in accounting, my decision was partially based on the knowledge that every company in every country needs accountants. I hoped my credentials would open doors to be able to travel and work internationally. It is now nearly twenty years since I earned my designation and I have lived on five continents and worked across six. My husband and I have also taken a number of multi-month trips, including a one-year around-the-world journey which also fed into my stories. 

I started by outlining my most memorable trips. From there, I tried to find a pattern different from other travel narratives. Chapter themes, travel advice, packing tips and honest experiential narratives developed. Dust in My Pack slowly emerged!

I think being passionate about what you write about can make all the difference.  What advice would you give someone who is considering publishing? Should they consider traditional or self-publishing?

I would offer the typical MBA response, “it depends”. For someone like me as a new unknown author with a career background outside the literary world, it seemed futile to even attempt the traditional publishing route. What publisher would be interested in a former finance professional’s view as an independent traveller? For people with existing credibility or a presence in the public eye, then the traditional publishing route may fit. 

I think self-publishing is well suited to people who work best independently, without much supervision and have a vision of what they want to create. This was the case for me. I like having control over my time, my deliverables and decisions. I was motivated to get my first book written, edited and published before my current trip - so I did not need a publisher to slow down the process or to prod me to meet their schedule. That said, I am new and unknown as an author so my biggest challenge is building an awareness that my book even exists. A publisher would have presumably helped with that challenge.

So, it depends on the author’s situation, goals and background whether a traditional publishing route or self-publishing option best suits them.

Find out more about Nancy O'Hare at the links below.  Happy Reading!!