Deliberate Acts of Random

Deliberate Acts of Random - Jon Nikrich

As I've stated before, I love short story compilations. Ray Bradbury will forever hold a piece of my heart with his selection of tales for The October Country and Long After Midnight. 

Deliberate Acts of Random by Jon Nikrich is a fun, and at times sarcastic, collection of short stories that left a warm smile on my face. I particularly enjoyed the tongue in cheek style of writing that the author has gone with, which very much resonated with my sense of humor. 

Overall the book is very well written and although it's possible to read a couple chapters at a time when you can, I had no trouble reading the entire book in one setting as some of the short stories connect and lend to a smooth transition from one to the next. 

If you're looking for a nice little break from your ordinary reading list, I highly recommend this set of short stories. Nikrich provides a very entertaining break from reality. 

 


Some Bio Information

Jon Nikrich was born in Northern England, but now lives in Calgary, Canada. He has worked as an engineer, a technical writer and a barman. He also accepted threats and insults as an operator on a customer complaint line. He has changed jobs and changed countries, but he has always been a storyteller. He writes mysteries when he feels serious and comedies when he feels silly. Jon is married with one son.


Q&A

1. Tell us a little about what inspired you to write this anthology. 

I was working on a long, complicated novel, the same one I attempt every other year. I developed some health issues that dented my energy levels and I decided to attempt something less ambitious. Instead of writing the novel, I started writing some short stories.

Initially, I didn't intend to publish them. They were for me, they were fun and they were exactly what I needed at the time. What I liked most about the anthology was that it allowed me to attempt genres I hadn't previously tried. It encouraged me to attempt stories and styles that I wouldn't have considered for a novel. Writing this collection was a valuable escape in an otherwise difficult year.

2. How long did it take you to put your work together? 

After I decided to publish the short stories, I raided my stash of old manuscripts, the ones I had written and saved long before my jump into self-publishing. Some of them were two decades old. I selected and rewrote my favorites, and then I added them to the new tales. In all, this took me about twelve months, give or take twenty years.

3. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

I have a full time job and a very long commute. My best opportunity to read and write is during the hours I spend on trains and buses. Given this opportunity, I read more than fifty books per year.

I also have plenty of time to write. I scribble all my first drafts on paper. When I'm blocked, I immediately switch to a different scene or story. This means that by the time I type, I have entire notebooks of disconnected paragraphs. This makes the writing process easier and editing a complete nightmare. I don't recommend it, but it works for me.

4. What was your least favorite part of the writing process? 

I love storytelling and every aspect of the creation process. I've been writing every chance I can get for 30 years. However, I'm new to self-publishing and I have no enthusiasm for marketing at all. This is probably obvious to anyone who has ever seen my attempts at marketing!

5. How would you describe your writing style? 

My writing style is probably a little quirky. I have my English sarcasm, my introverted self-deprecation and the influence of far too much television. I try to keep this in check when I write mysteries, but I let it go wherever it wants with comedy. I'm aware that my brain works a little differently, but hopefully this translates into entertaining, unpredictable tales.  

6. What is your ultimate writing goal? 

I have modest writing goals. I hope people read my stories and I hope they enjoy them. Anything beyond that is a bonus. I plan to keep writing regardless. Telling stories will always be important to me and I will always be grateful for what it adds to my life.

7. What would you like readers to take away from your work? 

I have tremendous respect for writers who can inspire a reader. This is certainly not that kind of book. If you read it and it makes you smile, that's enough for me.

My Father's Son

My Father's Son - John Davis

There are stories that are difficult to read due to violence, gore, or even the level of fear invoked from reading them. But then there are stories that are difficult to read on a whole other level. 

My Father's Son is a memoir that takes you down a dark journey into a difficult childhood filled with physical, emotional, and mental abuse that would leave many individuals scarred and bitter. But John Davis shows how he used his childhood to grow and mature, eventually coming to terms with his past and learning what he can from the events that transpired. 

The book is exceptionally well written, and each chapter is laid out in an easy to read format that draws you in and keeps you hooked for the remainder of the book. I simultaneously found it difficult to read as I watched a young boy filled with fear and apprehension, and was unable to put it down as I had to know how it all progressed. 

Highly recommended. Well worth reading. 


Some Bio Information

John Davis grew up in Brooklyn and Staten Island, NY, and now lives in West Milford, NJ, with his wife and their two cats. He works as a Plant Manager and is pursuing a Master's Degree in Business. My Father's Son is his first book.


Q&A

1. Tell us a little about what inspired you to write your story. 

After I got over the shocking truth about my father, I thought about how it would be a good book... or movie even. I mean it was a crazy story and life.  So it took me about 9 years to do something about it and actually write it and now it's done and out there. 

2. How long did it take you to put your work together? 

I wrote the book over 6 weekends last July and August and then spent another 6 weeks or so putting it all together and editing it 

3. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

I actually wrote it all on my iPhone at the beach.  I would type the stories into emails that I would then email back to myself at home.  I would just type as it came to me without any real thought on structure or anything.   So after I got home from the beach each weekend I would have a dozen emails of thousands of words that I then put together into chapters. It's amazing how it came together.  It almost wrote itself.  

4. What was your least favorite part of the writing process? 

The editing process was rough. I would read almost the entire book front to back every night and always found things that needed fixing.  Some fixes were quick and other parts still bother me now.  When I finally read it a few times in a row without noticing any major problems I knew it was ready.  By then I was so sick of it and didn't want to look at it anymore  

5. How would you describe your writing style? 

My writing is very straightforward and to the point.  There's no filler.  Nothing like 'it was an April morning and the sun just broke over the horizon'. None of that.  Each chapter gets right back into the meat of the story. 

6. What is your ultimate writing goal?

To be able to write another book   This one wrote itself.  I'm not sure how I can write another one. 

7. What would you like readers to take away from your work?

I want them to like it although it's a hard book to say you 'like'. It's very disturbing in parts - the violence, the abuse, the language. But I want them to feel something I guess.  Just feel and know you can overcome your upbringing, no matter what happened to you , to still do great things.  

Tempting Treasures

Tempting Treasures - Michele Buchholz

I love plots that center around treasure hunting. They're fun to read and I enjoy watching the main characters piece together the clues as they narrow down their search. What I enjoyed about Tempting Treasures was that it was all set in the family house. Keeping the treasure hunt narrowed down into that location made for an even more intriguing plot - and the supernatural elements that Buchholz included added depth and a uniqueness that many treasuring hunt plots lack. 

I struggled a bit with connecting with the characters. While I wanted to root for and connect with Elena, I wasn't able to see through her eyes or fully understand the emotions that drove her actions. 

Overall a fun read with lots of twists and turns that made for a well developed plot line. 


Some Bio Information

As for the personal scoop, I'm a stay at home mom by day, Author and aspiring Artist by night. On the weekends, I put paint to canvas while enjoying a glass of wine with my gal pals. All this, while juggling the demands of being a full-time mother and wife. I have been a long time reader of historical romance and lover of mystery novels, ever since I could pick up a book. A big Thank You to my Grandmother for igniting that book-loving spark. To this day, it drives me, entertains me, and moves me forward in my writing career, eliciting stories full of intrigue, murder and mayhem. Whether by the fireplace on a cold winter night or soaking up the hot summer sun, I find the opportunity to indulge my imagination.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?

I love mysteries and treasure hunts! I kept trying to find those types of novels in book stores and libraries but they seemed few and far in between, at least in the historical time periods that I loved. So, I wrote my own!  Let me tell you, that was easier said than done! Took me five years from first draft to final publication. I had a lot of writer's block and breaks along the way. 

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

I'm what's termed a 'Pantser". I don't have detailed notes and plans, just an over all concept, when I sit down to write. The characters really control their own destiny as I get the story out. It's fun for me to write this way b/c they constantly surprise me! 

3. What was your favorite part of writing this book?

Listening to the characters! Figuring out all the twists and turns to the final conclusion while sprinkling in the clues for the readers to hopefully find. 

4. What does the perfect writing environment look like to you?

In my opinion there is no such thing as a perfect writing environment. I frequently change my venue, even if its just across the room. When you have writer's block anything might trigger a release. Also, when I'm writing certain types of scenes I have different stimulus needs. I stumbled across one in particular. For instance, when I'm writing a fight or action scene I love to have football and heavy metal on. 

5. How would you describe your writing style?

Again, I'm a pantser, there isn't much to my style other than starting with an over all theme or idea then slowly building. This novel, I rewrote at least six times during editing as the threads of the story grew. 

6. What would you like readers to take away from your book?  

I hope they enjoyed the thrill of the treasure hunt! 

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

To get better and faster! I have many more stories to share, being the mother of three young boys, I don't have a lot of time to spare! 

An Evil Tale

An Evil Tale - A.E. Dark

I love other worldly fantasy series. As a child I always hoped that I could somehow escape reality and have this other adventurous and mysterious life, so those have been the books that I've always gravitated towards. 

A.E. Dark has done an excellent job world building. I enjoyed the start of this series and felt a good connection with Elizabeth and Susan throughout the work. 

There are great chase scenes and action sequences that held my interest and kept the plot moving at a good and steady pace. 

My one complaint is the beginning orphanage setting. I always struggle with those as I hate to see children being mistreated by adults. Just made the beginning a little hard for me to read. But once I got past that, I enjoyed the book. 


Some Bio Information

A.E. Dark lives and works in London within financial advisory. He enjoys playing games, reading and coming up with new stories. 

His love of reading stems from an early age when he first starting reading Enid Blyton and developed into a passion for all things fiction, especially fantasy.

An overactive imagination led to the creation of An Evil Tale as he decided that he just couldn’t keep the whole story bottled in his head any longer.

Unfortunately, the day job means he can’t put in as much writing time as he would like, but continues to work on the series and make it as good as possible.


Q&A

1.What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always had a vivid imagination and I spent a lot of time reading fiction; I used to come up with stories and scenes. However, I came up with a story that I managed to develop further and further in my mind. In the end I thought that if I enjoyed it so much it was probably good enough to be written.

2. Was there a deciding point in your life that made you want to become an author? 

I don’t think there has been a single moment when it hit me like lightning. I remember having the twin thoughts that someone else would probably enjoy this and writing is probably the best outlet for my imagination. Between the two points I realized that I had to write.

To be honest I don’t actually think of myself as a proper author, especially as I have a day job, but it’s something I aspire to. I feel there’s a lot of work to be done before I can proudly say I’m an author.

3. Are there any authors who influence your writing? 

There are many good authors I’ve read and I’ve got 600 books sitting on shelves, so to pick a few is hard, but there are definitely some memorable names. These are some of the ones where I remember putting down one book to pick up their next: Pratchett, Blyton, Eddings, Feist and David Gemmell. 

David Gemmell’s is arguably my favourite author as I see his books as the pinnacle of epic action fantasy. There is no one I’ve read who compares to how he writes his genre.

4. Can you tell me a little bit about your writing process? 

My writing process has changed a lot over the years, but a lot of the time if I come up with an idea I jot it down and then think how I would draft the beginning. A lot of the time I like to visualize my story to help think how things flow. 

As this is the first book in a series, when I started, I actually began by writing the first five books in the series one after another just to get the ideas on paper. It gave me drafts to see how things would pan out and allowed me to realise that the whole concept would take about nine books to get across. There was just too much to the whole story.

Once that was done I went back to the first and started thinking about the structure of the book and fleshing ideas out further.

The hardest thing about the whole process is deciding my style and target audience, which has changed numerous times. 

5. Who is your favorite character in your work? 

I like so many of the characters for different reasons I’m happy I don’t have a clear favourite as otherwise I think it would cause bias in what I write.

If I had to pick one I would choose Lucian (today as I write this at least) as he combines a tenacity and determination that the other characters just don’t have. He doesn’t have a special background, but is just determined to get what he wants, no matter how unrealistic it might be.

6. How would you describe your writing style?  

I’m not too sure as I think one of the hardest things is whether the effects I want to create, actually come across in my style. I would like to say it’s an evocative style. I’m trying to create a sense of an epic tale where the reader gets a sense of a different world. 

I try to be careful my style doesn’t include too much over-writing.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

At the moment, my goal is just to finish this series. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I’ve recently found a very good professional manuscript reviewer and editor so I’ve spent time with them thinking how to best structure the series.

I Don't Believe God Wrote the Bible

I Don't Believe God Wrote the Bible - Gerald Freeman

You never know where life is going to take you, and that's especially true in Gerald Freeman's memoir, I Don't Believe God Wrote the Bible. Throughout the piece, he explains the path that he took to learn about himself and to see reason behind the mistakes he made in life. 

Overall, I found this to be an entertaining and learning experience. I'm always interested to learn about the journeys that others have taken and the conclusions they've come to in life. 

The writing is well done and the pages flow smoothly. I think just about anyone could take some piece of information about themselves away from this work - even if it's just the knowledge that you are learning through each and every choice you make in life. 


Some Bio Information

Gerald Freeman spent the best part of ten years traveling on the road and with only fate as a guide he had no real destination. The main objective was to experience another kind of existence than the one he felt was being dictated to him. Eventually he settled in Portugal, where he began doing sculpture and writing. He has written two books- Kill Daddy  and I Don't Believe God Wrote The Bible  which came third place in the non-fiction section of The Best Indie Book Award 2015.

With his writing he hopes to inspire others to follow their dreams and turn them into a reality.
He also writes poetry, which can be found on his blog http://geraldfreeman.blogspot.pt/ 

Connect with him here: 


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book? 

Seeing so many people spending their lives doing jobs they do not want, only to pay bills they cannot keep up with was the reason I decided to go travelling and find something more enjoyable to do with my life. Once I had ventured out into the world and seen just how big it really is, my thirst for adventure took hold. I am inspired by the fact that life is precious and I have written this book to encourage people to look for alternatives, if they are not happy, or to take time out before committing to a university course and eventually a life they may find they do not even want.

2. Was there a deciding point in your life that made you want to become an author? 

Like many authors, I have been writing poetry and notes for years always with the intention of turning my work into books when the time was right. After getting married and feeling stability in my life for the first time ever, I felt I was ready to take on the role of author. I began reading through notes I had written over the last thirty years and discovered I had not one book, but at least four. In fact, as my life continues, I have more and more to write.

3. Are there any authors who influence your writing? 

Richard Bach influenced not only my life, but also the person I am always trying to eventually become. I read Jonathon Livingstone Seagull at an age when I needed guidance and positivity in my life. It is a great story about taking control of your own life and striving for your dreams, which are only dreams until you turn them into a reality.

4. Can you tell me a little bit about your writing process?

Occasionally, I post photos on my blog with piles of scrap bits of paper, which I have just managed to sort through and squeeze them into a text or a poem somewhere. They lay around for months in pots and boxes and drawers around the house until the day I feel inspired to wade through them and see what I have been dreaming and thinking about over the previous months. Many are sent straight to the bin, but then I find a few gems that are destined to become a poem, a sculpture, or a story. Such a satisfying feeling throwing those scribbled down ideas away and knowing I am creating something new.

5. How would you describe your writing style?

I hope my writing is succinct and easy to follow. I do not spend much time looking up synonyms or searching for sesquipedalian prose. I hope the reader feels they are listening, or talking to the real me- the person not the author.

6. What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

To be able to share stories and poems that inspire and move people. I hope others can identify with some of my experiences and perhaps gain comfort from knowing they are not alone and there are alternatives to a life we do not want to lead.

To connect with Gerald Freeman:

http://geraldfreeman.blogspot.pt/

https://www.facebook.com/gerryaldridgedesign.dinstudio.se/

The Devil Wears Clogs

The Devil Wears Clogs - Jennifer Burge

Having only traveled overseas, I can only daydream about what it must be like to make that jump and decide to live abroad. In The Devil Wears Clogs, Burge takes us through her experiences, the good, the bad, and the ugly, giving women across the states an idea of how that move might go down. 

While reading this book invoked some frustration, some sad eyes, and more than a few "Oh no! Don't do that!" from me, there was plenty of humor to ease the moment. Her fun sense of humor really drives the moral of the book home for me. And that is that no matter what you go through in life, you have to keep your heart light and a smile on your face. 

A very fun read that I highly recommend. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. 


Some Bio Information

Jennifer Burge grew up on the Lake Erie shore near Cleveland, Ohio. Graduating from the Ohio
State University in 1994, she long dreamed of living and working in Europe. Her wish came
true as her career in IT project management moved her to Germany in 2001 and then to the
Netherlands in 2002.

In 2007, Jennifer relocated to Singapore where she worked as an IT contractor. She traveled
extensively throughout Asia and began writing destination pieces for The Guide magazine
(Vietnam). Realizing that others who sought to work overseas could benefit from her first-hand experience and perhaps avoid painful lessons, Jennifer began writing her memoir, The Devil Wears Clogs, in 2009.

Her next move took her to Australia in 2011 where she returned to consulting before taking the
leap to full-time writing in 2012. In 2013 and she became a full member of the Australian
Authors’ Society and her first memoir was published in late 2014. Singapore Salvation, the Asian sequel will be released in December 2015.

Jennifer lives in north Brisbane and works full-time writing and speaking in the importance of
cultural understanding in a global society. She is a columnist for www.ExpatFocus.com and
provides insight on world destinations and cultures on: www.WorldwisePublications.com. 


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book? 

When I was preparing to move to Germany from the US in 2001, I was desperate for information about what my life would look like once I got there. In those days, we still had dial-up internet and Google was only a glimmer in cyberspace. If I wanted to read books by women, they were about regional cooking and markets. Books by men offered factual “how-to” information about securing apartments and visas. I didn’t find one book written by a female author about transitioning life and career to another continent. In my early years abroad, I made many mistakes−so many that I call The Devil Wears Clogs a “How NOT to Live Abroad Guide.” I wanted to share those mistakes with others aspiring to live abroad or help someone already living there not to feel so alone in what can be a very isolating experience. 

2. Was there a deciding point in your life that made you want to become an author? 

I’ve escaped into books to learn about the world for as long as I can remember. Once I was eight years into the experience of global living, I wanted to share what I’d gleaned in roughly twenty countries. The Global Financial Crisis in 2008-9 also played a role. I was living in Singapore at the time and foreigners were at the bottom of the barrel for corporate hiring. I had to choose another avenue. My first job was writing for an English language tourism magazine in Vietnam. Those cringeworthy articles were my stepping stone.

3. Are there any authors who influence your writing? 

Mary Karr, Joan Didion, Jeanette Walls, Claire Bidwell Smith, Caitlin Moran

4. Can you tell me a little bit about your writing process? 

I’ve experimented with many ways of producing my best work. For the actual writing, I find that an early morning walk around the lake near my house is an incredible idea generator. I follow that with 2-3 hours of writing. After that, I edit the work from the days or weeks before. I can edit all day long, but the initial creating is something I find I cannot push myself to do for 8 hours. If I do, I’m not pleased with the results. 

5. Who is your favorite character in your work? 

C’est moi! Okay, I know that is an annoying answer but I am a travel-memoirist and my work centers on my experiences in forty-four countries. Aside from my own realizations and observation, it’s usually the antagonist. In The Devil Wears Clogs, it is the man I refer to as the antichrist. In the sequel, Singapore Salvation, it is the woman who attempted to wreck my marriage. I suppose I have revenge fantasies. 

6. How would you describe your writing style?  

I try to portray life abroad as honestly as possible. Many of the books I’ve mentioned earlier describe life abroad as glamorous. It is my intention to show that there is a decidedly unglamorous side to it as well. Don’t get me wrong, I would not change the past fifteen years of my life for anything, but truth is often stranger than fiction and that has played out well for me.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

If I zero in on the word “ultimate”, it is to give life to real-life characters who are female adventurers. I wish I’d had role-models like that when I was younger. Without them, I’ve learned everything the hard way! I’m not complaining for one instant. Life has provided me with enough stories to fill two books and a third, about my present home in Australia, is forthcoming. Once I finish this series, I’m on the fence as to whether or not to try fiction. People who do it well impress me enormously and I’m not sure I’m up to the task.

The Journalist

The Journalist - M.F. Moonzajer

Deciding to undertake the process of writing an espionage thriller is no small matter. There are so many additional details and plot lines to follow, even plot lines that you don't specifically lay out within the pages. 

Moonzajer's The Journalist had all the great plot points that you would expect from this type of thriller. However, I did find myself getting confused on a couple of occasions. There were several chapters I had to reread to try to find my bearings once again so that I could continue on with the plot. 

But the writing is very well done and it's an overall very exciting story. 


Some Bio Information

M.F. Moonzajer is a former intern for the United Nations Secretariat in Bonn, Germany, an International Development Research Center of Canada scholar, the current editor of the International Scientific Journal of Issues, Research and Essay (JSRE), and the chairman of the Indie Authors Promotion Center. Moonzajer is also a former correspondent for the Journalism in Crisis Coalition of New Zealand, a coordinator for the International Media Support of Denmark, a fellow for the Sustainable Development Policy Institute of Pakistan and a policy maker for an international NGO in Afghanistan. He has BA in Journalism and a Master’s degree in Development Studies.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book? 

I have read and watched many spy (MI6, FBI and CIA) books and movies, and I always wanted to have my own version of spy and espionage story. The Journalist is like my kid. I have had nurtured the story in my dreams for years. Previously, I had written a number of nonfiction books on different topics, but the Journalist is my first fiction book. To tell you the truth, the dead of Mike Spann, the first CIA agent killed in Afghanistan in 2001, inspired me to write this book and I have also dedicated this book to him and his heroism. 

2. Was there a deciding point in your life that made you want to become an author? 

Yes, I was born and raised in an illiterate family. Education was not our thing at all. I failed to pass the exam during my seventh grade, because I could not read or write even my name. Then I had to decide whether leave the school or do my best. I succeeded to continue my education, and I completed school, then university (first person who went to university in our generations) and then I completed my master academic program. Along the journey, I started writing academic papers, I wrote for the international journals and magazines such as the Global Foreign Policy Magazine, News Safety Institute of America, Express tribune, Wave Magazine of Europe etc. and the collection of my academic papers turned into a book “30 pieces”. I felt that I owe the world, and now it is my time to write. 

3. Are there any authors who influence your writing? 

Yes, I like reading Robert Ludlum’s books a lot. I have read most of his books. He has a unique style of writing. His imaginations are awesome. I want to continue the trilogy of the Journalist like his series spy fiction. I also enjoy reading John le Carre’s spy fiction. 

4. Can you tell me a little bit about your writing process? 

Well, as I said, it is my first fiction, and the eighth book in total, in this special case, I developed the story, the characters, and then start writing it. It took me just a few months to draft the book. I faced many problems, especially in the post drafting process. I live in Afghanistan and it is hard to find people who can read and understand English and then it is difficult, because those who can read English are too busy or they do not read at all, or even they are not interested in reading and giving you feedback. I like to have control over my writing process. I first design the plot and storyline, then I draft it, and later I work on illustration of events, introducing characters and it goes on until it is finalized. It is more like a child’s 9 months process. 

5. Who is your favorite character in your work? 

Characters are like an author’s children. Some of them are good and some of them are bad, but what makes a few of them is the connection you find between yourself and the character. I loved Elena, for her softness, simplicity and kindheartedness, but I had to let her go, because the world inside the Journalist was too harsh for her. I also like a complicated character like Takdeer, so it is between good and bad. 

6. How would you describe your writing style?  

I think I need to re-evaluate that. I have been writing academic papers, which is all about facts; no imagination is needed at all. Well, I use active voice; I try to use alliteration. I also use prose in the second edition of the Journalist (November 2015). 

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

We have many untold stories in my country (Afghanistan). I want to write as many as good quality books and tell the stories to the world. I want to take part in changing the life of people through writing.

Almost Night

Almost Night - Jacob Wallace

I am a fan of parodies in general - I mean, my husband and I both knew it was true love when we saw each other's collection of Weird Al CDs. 

But I am more particular when it comes to comedies. And while I fully appreciated what Wallace was wanting to accomplish with this book (and there were multiple occasions where I did laugh, chuckle, or even smile awkwardly) this book had just a little too much R-rating in it for me to fully enjoy it. 

That being said, I think there are plenty of people who would enjoy this book - especially if you enjoy closer to Rated R humor. 

Writing was well done, plot was bizarre and enjoyable, I just wanted the humor to be toned down just a little -- but that's just my personal preference. 


Some Bio Information

I was born and raised in Louisiana and now live in Tennessee. I have been writing on and off for a while since my teenage years. I just love writing. My favorite genres are science fiction and fantasy, and I especially like combining the two together.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book? 

I started to world build first by creating a universe that let fantasy world progress past the sword stage and all the way into the space age stage, and have many fantasy species be aliens. Then I tried to think of stories to put in it, and as I was brainstorming, the idea to parody Twilight just stuck. 

2. Was there a deciding point in your life that made you want to become an author? 

I've wanted to be an author for a long time. Ever since I was a teenager, I was writing stories in notebooks. 

3. Are there any authors who influence your writing?  

Well, that's a tough one. I feel inspired by multiple sources for humor mixed with fantasy such as Terry Pratchett, Jim Butcher, and Harvard Lampoon. With some vulgarity from American Pie. 

4. Can you tell me a little bit about your writing process? 

My writing process is pretty straightforward. First I brainstorm ideas, then I try to develop ideas. Once an idea starts to stick I start trying to outline that idea into a plot. Then I write a first draft.  Then I go back over and over until I am satisfied with the final product. Mix in some writers block and frustration along some of the steps and a bit of daydreaming when not writing. 

5. Who is your favorite character in your work?  

The vampires were a lot of fun to write since they have no conscience and so have a lot of opportunity for sadistic/dark humor.  To pick one, I'd go with the half vampire Ed'Bocaj since she has naïveté on top of sadism. 

6. How would you describe your writing style?  

I try to be descriptive to paint a picture of the surroundings and narrative to tell the events that happen. The story is told from third person limited, and stays in Stella's head throughout the story (except for the epilogue). The sequel shows the story from other characters' points of view, mostly Ed'Bocaj and Stella. 

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?  

Well, there is the ultimate dream of becoming rich and famous. Realistically, I would just like to continuously release books, have a nice little fanbase, and be notable enough for Wikipedia. 

The Bounce! A Story of love, loss and the life of a global Indian

The Bounce! A Story of love, loss and the life of a global Indian - Mohan K.

There is nothing better than diving into a book that you know very little about, only to be sucked in 100% and find yourself completely caught up with the plot.

The Bounce! did that for me. Knowing that this is based on personal experiences made the story and progression of the plot even more fascinating and difficult to set aside. I read it entirely in one sitting and felt many of the emotional ups and downs that the author went through. 

I cannot recommend this book enough. The writing is superb and the plot moves at a steady pace. It's almost impossible to put down. 


Some Bio Information

Mohan is an Indian American Information Technology executive with a multinational company headquartered in Switzerland. He has lived and worked in five countries across three continents, gaining a first-hand experience of working in multicultural environments. 

Mohan is also a blogger, columnist and writer whose viewpoints and papers have been published in several international technical and non-technical journals. He lives in North Carolina with his lovely wife and adorable kindergartener.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book? 

My goal in writing “The Bounce!” was simple. I had a story that I thought must be told.  It is also an attempt to show a human face to globalization and people in the dynamic global outsourcing industry who travel around the world. 

Much of the story depicted in the novel is mine. I decided to write a semi-autobiographical novel since this format gave me a bit of artistic liberty to stretch my imagination while basing the outline on facts as I remembered them. A few accounts, and names have been fictionalized and I rely on the dialog style that a fiction can accommodate more than a biography. 

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

I have written and blogged extensively on technology and management topics, but this is my first fictional book. I had been reflecting on an incident, back in 2008 when we lost a healthy, bouncy child while on a Jet Airways flight from Brussels to Delhi. My wife and I were relocating back from Toronto with a five and half month old child when tragedy struck. The book is an attempt at redemption, especially as writing has been very cathartic for me. 

By talking about my story, I am also hoping to provide some inspiration to others facing life’s challenges on bouncing back, as the title suggests.

3. What was your favorite part of writing this book?

The favorite part of writing a book is when we start to engage with readers. Comments and reviews on Amazon and Goodreads have been engaging and inspiring. 

4. How would you describe your writing style? 

One of the best pieces of advice I got when I first started writing was to “write what you know.”

I take time during my other activities to jot down some ideas and revisit them when I write. I also draw inspiration from what I read and observe. 

6. What would you like readers to take away from your book? 

I would like readers to be inspired to face life’s challenges, and to appreciate life and travails of those from other cultural and social backgrounds.   

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

My goal is rather simple. I would like to be a writer who can engage readers.  

Call of Kythshire

Call of Kythshire - Missy Sheldrake

I always get excited about a good fairy tale, and Call of Kythshire did not disappoint.

I loved all of the characters and had no trouble getting caught up in the plot. But be forewarned, this is definitely a story that focuses on a lot of world building. It's easy to miss part of the plot if you're not reading carefully. But the plot moves at such a pace that it's easy to maintain a steady reading flow and catch all of the excitement that the author throws your way. 

The writing is excellent and the dialogue is smooth and easy to follow. I had a lot of fun learning about all of the characters and found this new world that they were exploring just as exciting as they did. 

Very very enjoyable. 


Some Bio Information

Missy Sheldrake grew up in rural Connecticut (yes, there is such a place!), the daughter of a blue collar dad and homemaker mom. Together they taught her to follow her dreams, and that true love is real.

She attended Western Connecticut State University to study Illustration and painting, and earned a BS in both. She was halfway through her Masters in Painting when she met her true love in an online video game and moved down the coast to the suburbs of Washington D. C. for her happily ever after. 

Missy, her husband, and their now elementary-aged son forge bravely ahead as a family through the traffic-congested adventure of life in Northern Virginia.

In addition to being an author, mom, wife, and pop-culture fan, Missy is an illustrator, mural painter, and art doll sculptor. The scope of her creations can be viewed at www.missysheldrake.com


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?

Several years ago, I played an online role-playing video game, and my friends and I acted out the characters we played in game. One of my characters was Azaeli Hammerfel, a Paladin. I spent a lot of time writing out of game with friends, mostly stories for message boards. I wrote a long backstory for Azaeli, the paladin who was cursed and had to relinquish her sword in favor of becoming a Mage.  Azi’s story eventually turned into a novel, which won first place in its category in a state-wide contest. 

With the help of a writing group I had joined for a children’s book I was writing and illustrating, I polished up my manuscript and sent it to the publisher who had judged the contest. Months later I received my very first rejection letter (the story wasn’t as epic as she had hoped). 

At the time I was studying for my Masters in Painting, so I filed the story away in a drawer and forgot about it. 

2. Was there a deciding point in your life that made you want to become an author?

To be perfectly honest, even with two novels published, I still don’t think of myself as primarily an author! I’m also an illustrator, a freelance artist, a mural painter, and a doll sculptor.  I enjoy telling stories through a variety of media. Words are just one of the storytelling tools available to me, and we’re just beginning our adventures together.

I started seriously thinking about rehashing Azi’s old story when my freelance art opportunities were in a slump and I was looking for other ways to keep the creative juices flowing. A few of my friends had written during NaNoWriMo and later published independently, so I had a lot of support, guidance, and inspiration from them.

3. Are there any authors who influence your writing?

There are so many authors that have influenced my decision to start writing the Keepers of the Wellsprings series. Aside from my author friends, J.K. Rowling was a huge influence. I love her flowing narrative style and the depth of her characters and plotlines. I love how her stories are categorized for a younger audience but appeal to generations of readers. I was also influenced in some ways by Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth and many of the current popular YA authors. I was in the middle of reading Divergent when I thought to myself, “Hey, I have a story to tell, too, and I can do this.”

4. Can you tell me a little bit about your writing process?

I’m going to steal from Roth here and use a term I read at the end of her book: Word vomit. I write it all out and edit later. 

Usually I have a sweeping idea for the plot and I just sit down and write what comes to me.  I try to do outlines, I really do. I try to make a plan. I have a whole notebook full of plans. I have the best intentions to stick with them, too, until the fairies get into my head. The characters have their own ideas, and I just kind of let them take over. It’s more fun that way. It makes it an adventure for me, too.

5. Who is your favorite character in your work?

How can you even ask that question? You should know better! If you had to twist my arm I’d say Tib. He doesn’t come in until the second book, but currently he’s my favorite. He’s 12, and a former slave with lots of anger issues. He gets pulled into a plot he doesn’t want to have anything to do with. He hates magic and fairies, but the situation he’s thrust into earns him some seriously cool abilities.

But then there’s Azi, the aspiring Knight, and Rian, her adorably cheeky Mage Apprentice boyfriend, and all of the members of His Majesty’s Elite, and Saesa, and the princess, and the Sorceress Viala, and creepy Prince Eron, and the fairies! OH MY GOSH! How could I forget the fairies? I mean, Flit! FLIT! Please don’t tell her I forgot her. I can hear her now. Typical, she’d say. 

Okay, honestly, how can you ask me that question?

6. How would you describe your writing style?

Fun, narrative, flowing, easy to read, appealing to all audiences. I write in the first person present perspective because it allows me to really get into my characters’ heads and I hope it really gets the reader into their heads, too. 

I try hard to have a good balance between descriptive passages and dialogue, and while I make an effort not to be repetitive in my phrasing and vocabulary, I avoid overly flowery prose. As a reader, I find it distracting when the author gets overly zealous with pretentious wording. I prefer straightforward, quick-to-read storytelling. I don’t take myself too seriously.

It’s supposed to be fun, right?

7. What is your ultimate writing goal?

My biggest goal is to reach a wide audience and create a rapport with my fans. I don’t want to be a famous millionaire, but I want my stories and characters to be loved as much as I love them, and it’d be great to get some fan mail! Find me on Twitter and Facebook and drop me a line.

My ultimate dream is to have Call of Kythshire and the rest of the Keepers of the Wellsprings series turned into a major motion picture.

Nouveau Haitiah

Nouveau Haitiah - Donald McEwing

This is one of those rare times when I'm just not sure what to say. I had a very surreal feeling while reading this book.

It felt like more of an experience as opposed to a work of fiction. Oddly enough, it reminded me of some bizarre combination of Orlando by Virginia Woolf and Apocalypse Now.

I feel that this is one of those books that you could read several times over and still find more pieces of the puzzle that you had missed in prior readings. 

This book requires time and attention to detail to fully enjoy and appreciate it. Don't expect to fly through it. 


Some Bio Information

Donald McEwing was born in the southwestern sector of Paris, in Auteuil. After studying comparative religions at Miskatonic University in Arkham, MA, he went on to become Professor of Popular Education, Science, and Culture at the same institution.

He came under intense criticism for his choice and presentation of subject matter during his tenure, with many accusing him of being little more than “a connoisseur of degenerates.” Despite the accusations, or maybe to prove them, he wrote the stories that became Nouveau Haitiah, including The Official Hostess, Scattering Ashes, The Grand Maestro, The Unofficial Hostess, and The Fountain of Youth.

Mr. McEwing is currently accompanying the Miskatonic expedition to the high altitudes of the Chthonic Dome in Eastern Antarctica, where he hopes to discover what happened to the ill-fated 1931 Peabody Expedition. Upon his return, he is expected to publish “The Ghosts from the Mountains of Madness” in early 2016.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?
 
Nouveau Haitiah has been in the works since the 1990’s.  I always wanted to create a work of art and this was the result.  My background allowed me to combine a wide variety of interests into a unique novel that says what I wanted to say.
 
2. Was there a deciding point in your life that made you want to become an author?
 
Becoming an author is something I always wanted to do.  In high school and college I was writing poetry and short stories that were heavily influenced by various modernists of the early 20th century, and I have always been a vociferous reader of science fiction from an early age.  Majoring in English Literature further strengthened this interest.  Raising a family was a priority and forced me to postpone writing full-time until later in life, but I am very happy with the way things worked out.
   
3. Are there any authors who influence your writing?
 
Jorge Luis Borges, T.S. Eliot, Albert Camus, H.G. Wells, and more.
 
4. Can you tell me a little bit about your writing process?

 
My process is painfully slow.  Basically, I turn an idea for a plot into an outline, draft a few pages, and continue expanding those pages into a story and finally a book.
 
5. Who is your favorite character in your work?
 
Victoria!  Currently I am working on a nearly completed novella; a Lovecraftian horror story entitled Ghosts from the Mountains of Madness, which should be out in early 2016.  In the meantime, I am also working on an additional story that takes off where Nouveau Haitiah ends.  The working title is Victoria and the Zombies of Nouveau Haitiah.
 
6. How would you describe your writing style?
 

Nouveau Haitiah is closest to my true writing voice, but I am comfortable with other styles.  Ghosts from the Mountains of Madness is written in a more academic style.  Another humor book in the works uses a manic, exaggerated style similar to Hunter S Thompson.
 
7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?
 
To write something that lasts.
 
8. Why are pug puppies so cute?
 
They are just irresistible.  My house has an embarrassing amount of pug paraphernalia, so it will be immediately obvious to anyone who enters that I am a crazy pug person.  However, there is a new non-pug addition to the family, a Persian Himalayan doll face kitten with silver-shaded chinchilla fur.  Her name is Beatrix, and OMG she is adorable!  I’m going to play with Queen B right now- Best wishes!

High Cotton Country

High Cotton Country - Leta McCurry

This book went in a completely different direction than what I anticipated. After the introductory chapter, I assumed that we'd be looking into the reasoning behind the suicide of the young mother, and I expected to find an abusive husband on the other side of the coin, but I was extremely impressed with the turn in plot that McCurry took. 

Cazzie is an amazing lead character, as is Nine. But beyond that, they are characters that I respected and cared for. I was just as desperate that they succeed in their endeavors as they were. 

This was an excellent read that I couldn't put down. One of my favorites from this year. Highly recommended. 


Some Bio Information

Tale-spinner. Revealer of secrets. A dog’s best friend. Cornbread and fried okra country girl.
Lives on the Oregon Coast and enjoys writing, reading, a large, fun-loving family, her Min-Pin dog, Daisy Mae, the open road on a motorcycle (as a passenger), good food, and travel. Favorite destination: Ireland.  She is presently writing her second novel. A Shadow Life, with publication expected in early 2016.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book? 

The inspiration for High Cotton Country came from a tragic story I heard as a child. That story haunted me for years and I knew I had to write my version of what happened.

2. Was there a deciding point in your life that made you want to become an author? 

I don’t think there was a precise deciding point. I have always been an avid reader. My mom said I was reading by age three. I think wanting to be a writer was kind of a natural extension of my love affair with books. I have been writing since I was about twelve.

3. Are there any authors who influence your writing? 

Oh, my! There are so many who have influenced and continue to influence me. Fanny Flagg, Ayn Rand, Susan Crandall, Robert Morgan, Carson McCullers, James Lee Burke, Larry McMurtry. I could go on and on.

4. Can you tell me a little bit about your writing process? 

I sit down at the keyboard and “let’er rip”. Editing comes later.

5. Who is your favorite character in your work? 

Again, this is a hard one. I love all my characters. In High Cotton Country, definitely Cazzie. I also really like Nine and Bama. Oh, can’t forget Havi. I want to marry him!

6. How would you describe your writing style?  

Raw, earthy, and I like to think, a little John Steinbeck-ish. I particularly appreciate what one reviewer had to say: “Leta has the knack for the humor particular to the South like so many southern women writers, authors like Rita Mae Brown, Eudora Welty, and my all-time favorite, Ellen Gilchrist.”

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

To touch readers in some meaningful way, from simply entertaining them for a time to inspiring them to reach for their every dream.

Partners In Time

Partners In Time - David Groflo 

The idea of time travel has always fascinated me. I love reading books about it and I love hearing scientists discuss possibilities.  

David Groflo takes a different approach in his book, Partners in Time. Two sets of characters are connected through time and decisions that they each make affect the other.

It's an overall intriguing concept that invokes both emotion and speculation about the possibilities. 

I enjoyed both sets of characters and found them to all be well developed. The plot flowed smoothly, and I had no trouble keeping up with the jumps back and forth between the different characters. 

Very well done. 


Some Bio Information

I was raised in Ohio and, by ten years old, was already fascinated with the potential aspect of time travel when becoming enamored by a television series, “The Time Tunnel,” in mid 1960s. This fascination continued throughout my life, branching into further studies on the subject and beyond. With a passion for writing also developing as the years went by, it ultimately led to creating this novel, “Partners in Time.”


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book? 

I’ve had a lifelong passion with the potential aspect of time travel. I first became fascinated with this concept when I was young while watching a television series called, “The Time Tunnel.” This show aired in the mid-1960's.

My whole life from that moment was a building block that began with that TV program even if I didn’t realize it then. As the years went by I got into studies of a personal nature that led me to expand on this concept.

This book, “Partners in Time,” actually is loosely based on unfolding experiences that my wife and I uncovered about ourselves over the past 30 years. It is however strictly a fictional story. 
Writing this book was a way to express my passion on this subject.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

My writing process starts with an idea. A spark of inspiration. I usually begin by jotting down a quick outline initially on how I think the story will unfold. However as I’m writing the book that outline shifts and is redefined constantly as new ideas and direction of the story develop. I also do research on the conditions I’m going to use in the story to make sure that everything is structurally sound. This actually continues throughout the writing process as deemed necessary. For example if I’m writing about the 1800’s than I make sure everything included in the story is as accurate as possible.

When I initially record the story I write it in notebooks by hand. This is my rough draft. I write every day at the same time, usually about 10.00 P.M. I force myself to write even when occasionally the incentive isn’t there. I usually only record a page or two a day so I’m very deliberate in my process. 

After about seven months when the rough draft is completed I then go back and type the entire manuscript in my word processor. This is where I fine tune the writing and the story further. I record one page of the rough draft a day. Again a deliberate process taking about seven more months. 

When this is complete I now go through the chapters over and over to make final adjustments in the story and wording.  The book is now ready to submit for professional editing and then publishing. 

3. Describe your favorite scene in this book. 

My favorite scene is in the next to last chapter when Lester returns home after being away for an extended amount of time because of work. After dinner he tells his wife that he isn’t returning to the Chesapeake Bay again. This is where he had been for months in order support his family. After lingering for a moment in stunned silence his wife Clara reacts with utter surprise and the two embrace in overwhelming ecstasy.

4. What does the perfect writing environment look like to you? 

My perfect writing environment is to sit in my room which is sort of a make shift office and den located next to the living room. I relax there every night at the same time when I’m working on my book. Usually about 10.00 P.M. There are no other sounds within a short distance so that I can concentrate completely. That is my space and time to create my painting in the form of writing.

5. How would you describe your writing style? 

I write what I feel inside and usually at a very deliberate pace. I create the characters in a way where I express myself through them. However I want it to be done so that anyone who reads the book can create the characters and scene with their own personal effect. I want the person reading it to become the story.

6. What would you like readers to take away from your book? 

I would just like readers to enjoy the story. To feel it was worth their time to spend on something that I had a passion for in writing. I also hope that readers would find a bit of themselves as they create the scene in their world.
  
7. What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

I had written another book before, “Partners in Time,” that I have not as yet published for various reasons. That story has a time warp theme also, where an individual through mediation makes contact, unbeknownst to him initially, from a future self. 

I also am about ready to start a third book that will be about a  down on his luck middle aged man who mysteriously quantum leaps to any earlier part of his life. After sorting out this perplexing and even frightening dilemma he realizes he has a chance to relive his life over again. Consequently this is what he does only this time he avoids all the pitfalls that he encountered the first time around.

All of my books that I may write will probably have a time warp theme. They will have an understanding within the main characters that ultimately lead them to some form of enlightenment or renewal within themselves

The Shimmering Stones of Winter's Light

The Shimmering Stones of Winter's Light - Constance Walker

I love books that start out with hints of paranormal and fantasy components. I'm always interested to see where the author takes the plot and just how much  of the supernatural they choose to weave into their created world. 

Constance Walker did a great job of holding my attention and keeping me guessing about where the plot was going. There were quite a few twists - some that I saw coming and others that caught me off guard. 

Highly enjoyable.  Very well written. I had a lot of fun reading it. 


Some Bio Information

I love to write.  I’ve been a newspaper reporter, a documentary video writer and producer, a magazine writer and all the while I had to deal with hard facts.  Now I write fiction.  I can make up the “facts.”  
  
I’ve written three contemporary romances, one paranormal romance and two gothics.  I’ve had five books published the traditional way and last year established WINTER’S EVE BOOKS for my newest novels.   


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?   

I don’t think I ever thought about the inspiration for the book until now but I’ve always been interested in the “unseen.”  Déjà vu instances, odd happenings, strange sounds and findings, psychics, etc.–things that can’t really be explained unless you want to label them all “coincidences.”  .

And one day I was driving on a bridge and I saw a solitary half-hidden house on a cliff and I casually thought about that house and the setting.  And that progressed to wondering who lived there, who built it, and then I started playing the “what if?” game:  What if the house was owned by just one family for all time?  What were the adults like?  What if children lived there?  Did they dare go near the cliff to look at the water?  Were they frightened by the view?  And then, what if the house was haunted?  And finally…what if all this happened in Wales?  Why Wales?  I really don’t know why but I’ve always had a fascination abut Wales and its folklore.  

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

I don’t use an outline but once I get an idea I start jotting down words and phrases for scenes that I think belong in the storyline.  And usually those words or phrases determine the genre, the timeframe, and the characters.  

 I don’t purposely set out to write a certain kind of book--it just seems that it all comes together for me at the beginning.  And then as I write I sometimes speak the words out loud–it’s a way of checking the grammar but mostly it’s my way of becoming the literal storyteller and, most times, that leads to complete sections.   

3. Describe your favorite scene in this book.  

That’s difficult–there are a few that I really like--but I think the scene where Mathias, Gwynneth’s father, tells how she came to live with him and his wife, Molly, might be my favorite.  I liked these people--they were good, decent, and hard-working people--and I wanted the reader to know that Gwynneth’s life with them was beautiful and loving and was the basis for her gentility.     

4. What does the perfect writing environment look like to you? 

I usually write in the late evening, so…a cold, snowy night.  My warm office in my home.  Jake, my wonderful dog, sleeping by my chair.  The quietness of the house.  And a sense that all is well, all is well.       

5. How would you describe your writing style? 

Eclectic.  Very eclectic.  I like to write in different genres because I like reading all kinds of books–fiction, non-fiction, different categories.  So, I never sit down and say, "I think I’ll write a gothic or a contemporary or a mystery“--I sort of go by that “what if?” game I spoke about before.    

 6. What would you like readers to take away from your book?  

A sense of “Yes!”  A feeling of having been told a story that takes you away from whatever is happening in your life at the time.  And, I always put animals in my stories–maybe even just a reference to them--and I hope the readers will take away a sense of compassion and caring for animals.  

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?  

That’s the easiest of all the questions.  I just want to tell stories.  I’m not in a position to single-handedly change the world but if reading and enjoying my book makes one person happy or peaceful or makes the day better, then that’s really my goal.  That’s the “YES” factor

Wisdom

Wisdom - Patrick Tylee

If the creepy cover doesn't say enough about what you're going to find within the book. . .well. . .I don't know where I was going with that. But perhaps I should rephrase: the cover is highly appropriate for the level of creepy and cringe worthy (in a good way) plot that you will find within the pages. 

I loved the concept of this book, but there were a few places where I got tripped up and had difficulty following the plot line. However, the characters are extremely in depth - I love Jove and Elmyrah - and the writing was excellent. I just got lost with new names, phrasing, etc. 

I recommend taking your time with this book and really digging in to get the most out of it.


Some Bio Information

Patrick was born in the sunny and hot southwestern United States, and lives there in a small town of just over ten thousand people. He is married with two sons and two grandsons.
As a child, his favorite place was the public library. In college he studied art, business management, and later computer technology and adaptive education.

When possible, Patrick leaves the car behind and takes off on a motorcycle. Sometimes he leaves the road all together in the family Jeep.

His favorite authors include Frank Herbert, Isaac Asimov, Gene Roddenberry, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke.


Q&A

1.What inspired you to write this book? 

I believe that people exist on faraway planets, and in other realms which our human senses cannot perceive. They’re born, or manufactured, somehow created. Their hearts yearn for things that are just out of reach. Regardless of which star keeps you warm, losing a loved one is a pain that stabs with a cold blade.

In late 2012, the lives of several characters became real to me. By New Years Day, their story was too big to keep in my head. I wrote page one on January 7th, 2013, just to make room for them to continue sharing their experiences.

There was a need in me to share the hurts and triumphs of these people that must surely exist somewhere besides my imagination.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

For Wisdom, it was more like doing a biography. As the characters opened up, the more the story evolved. Like spokes of a wheel, their lives all came to focus at one point.

For the sequel, Rebellion, I took more control of how their lives would go, where they would end up. I started with a story map. When there was momentum, I drafted the last chapter and wrote the plot lines to it.

These days, I’ve learned to be much more disciplined in the beginning. For my current project, I spent a solid month in research. I was careful to build out every aspect of a dozen characters prior to the opening paragraph. It was perfect timing to attend a class on Character Alchemization, taught by author Connie Flynn at the Avondale Writer’s Conference in early November.

3. Describe your favorite scene in this book. 

It’s the picnic in Saint Varten’s Park. Jove and Elmyrah lay a blue and white checkered tablecloth out on the grass, to enjoy BLT’s washed down with pints of mercurochrome. He’s trying to help her come to grips with who she is and what she is - the first artificial human hybrid. Her SynThinker is running a mile a minute, with her little girl humanity racing to keep up. It’s a poignant moment when she realizes that no matter how intelligent she is, there’s no answer inside of her for why all the terrible things do happen in life.

Jove asks, “Why what?”

She screams, “Why everything!”

4. What does the perfect writing environment look like to you? 

A variable height desk in a corner office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

With a Chipotle restaurant two doors down.

5. How would you describe your writing style? 

When away from the writing desk, I observe real people as they go about their day, or how nature operates. I practice thinking of how I would employ exposition to show these actions or record their conversations.

At the writing desk, I visualize the scene with characters as it would look in a movie. Then I use the previous method and type as fast as I can as I see it in my head. Sometimes, I have to ask the characters to repeat themselves while I catch up.

6. What would you like readers to take away from your book? 

Yes, it’s sci-fi. 

But, it’s about people. Look past the fact that the antagonist is a conjoined starfish as big as a truck swimming in sulfur-dioxide soup. Listen to him. Why is he so ruthless? What would you be willing to die for…to kill for?

It’s about relationship. If no man is an island, then no Synthetic is an asteroid. Find out why the misfit fits in with the…ew…people not like the rest of us.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

That in fifty years, a child will go to the library and check out a classic. Looking up from the pages, the youngster will smile and wave back, wondering about a day long ago, when librarians were still organic.

“That’d be silly,” the child says. “Only a Mrs. Dewey knows exactly where every one of the millions of books are!” 

Portrait of a Secret Agent who Knew Kim Philby

Portrait of a Secret Agent who Knew Kim Philby - Tina Tamman

Finding the happy medium between inserting all the detailed information you can while still maintaining an interesting and easy to read biography is a delicate thing. 

Tina Tamman pulls it off well with Portrait of a Secret Agent who Knew Kim Philby. Every chapter contained interesting information that flowed well and kept me highly intrigued. 

This is an extremely well written book and I strongly recommend it for anyone who enjoys biographies or is particularly interested in intelligence officers. 


Some Bio Information

Tina Tamman was born in Estonia when the country was part of the Soviet Union. Arriving in England in 1974, she first worked in the wine trade and then for the BBC, translating and editing news. She was awarded a PhD by the University of Glasgow in 2010, her thesis was published as a book and she has been researching and writing ever since.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?

Having learnt that freedom of information does not apply to the secret service, which means that you cannot ask a single question about MI6, I wanted to see how much I could find out about a middle-ranking intelligence officer without access to the archives and with no intelligence links. I saw it as a challenge and I’m pleased I was able to put together Brian Giffey’s life story. I’d come across his name in my previous research and then found added excitement in the fact that, while serving in Estonia, the country of my birth, Giffey fell in love and married a local girl 25 years his junior. A moving but unusual love story.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

It was important, I felt, to write up as I progressed in my research. Research is really like detective work - therefore quite emotional (both exhilarating and frustrating) - while writing up requires peace and quiet. This contrast creates a pleasing rhythm.

3. What was your favorite part of writing this book?

Selecting passages from Giffey’s and his  wife’s diaries and letters to quote. Many of those were love letters - very moving but also surprisingly repetitive. Also, selecting photographs for publication was enjoyable. In the process I got to know and admire Giffey.

4. What does the perfect writing environment look like to you?

Desk at home, laptop and my husband sitting across at his desk, similarly writing. 

5. How would you describe your writing style?

I always aim for brevity and clarity.

6. What would you like readers to take away from your book?

The main thing I’d like readers to remember is that there were numerous British agents who were not traitors. I would like the reader to begin to question why it is that only traitors are well known. Brian Giffey was a loyal man, and yet he is unknown.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

I’d like to write a good thriller.

Tangled Up in Blue

Tangled Up in Blue - JD Brick

Romance is a tricky genre for me. Most people want to read about drama and get a thrill out of the suspense in wondering whether or not two people will get together. But I tend to struggle through the obstacles and the ups and downs of fictional relationships. I just want to see two people happily in love with no baggage and no roller coaster ride. 

But that's just not how fiction works, and rightly so. 

Tangled Up in Blue is a great example of the romance genre. Despite the cliff hanger ending, I thought it was excellently written, had wonderfully developed characters, and consisted of some great "coming of age" type situations as both main characters struggled to overcome personal hurdles. 


Some Bio Information

JD Brick lives in Florida, which is paradise about half the year and a hot mess the rest of the time. She's been a journalist, technical writer and intrepid humor columnist, which is the only kind of humor columnist worth being. She's also a wife, mother, corporate refugee, ever hopeful if seldom successful gardener, and slave to great books and good coffee.

Tangled Up in Blue is JD's first work of fiction and is Book 1 in the Ikana College series.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book? 

I wanted to write a New Adult novel, and I wanted to base it (loosely) on an experience I had in college, living in a house with several other students. As I began to write, the plot kind of steered itself in a very different direction than I had originally planned, but I ended up liking it better than the plot I’d first envisioned.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

Tangled Up in Blue is my first work of fiction, so my writing process is still evolving, but so far, it’s been a mix of free writing and adherence to an outline. I outlined the whole book first, breaking it down into a three-act structure and noting major plot points in each act. Before each chapter, I took a day to just free write, letting whatever came out of my head and through my fingers stay on the screen. Then I went back and compared that to my outline, made adjustments and completed a first draft of the chapter. I did that for each chapter, then went through the whole manuscript several more times, making changes along the way. I also had it professionally edited, which prompted numerous other changes.  

I try to spend at least an hour or two every day writing, although more often than I’d like, “real life” gets in the way. I am way too easily distracted, so I forbid myself to check email, look at the newspaper, get on Facebook, etc., until I’ve put in my writing time. I don’t always obey myself, though, so it’s a constant battle. I’ve discovered that I write better with classical music playing so I’ve been doing that as well.

3. Describe your favorite scene in this book. 

It’s a toss-up between the “cave” scene and the final scene at the bus stop, but if I have to choose, I’d say the bus stop scene. Keegan and Blue, the two main characters, have each reached a point in their relationship where they are desperate to save each other, even at significant personal cost. They are in a public place, on the verge of possibly being separated forever, confronting the reality of their situation and both wanting to make a sacrifice for the other. I loved the emotional intensity and character growth apparent at this stage in the book. I cried while writing the scene.

4. What does the perfect writing environment look like to you? 

A book-lined room with a big picture window looking out over the mountains. And days of uninterrupted time.

5. How would you describe your writing style? 

It’s still evolving as I just finished my second book, but I’d call my writing style emotional, simple and intimate as everything is told in first-person point of view.

6. What would you like readers to take away from your book? 

I’m hoping they end Tangled Up in Blue desperate to read the sequel, Shelter from the Storm! I’d also love for readers to finish Keegan and Blue’s tale with that satisfying, ugly-cry feeling that always comes from being swept up in an epic love story. 

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

To spend the rest of my life writing books that give readers the same incomparable pleasure I get out of reading great fiction

Illusion of Choice

Illusion of Choice - Eric Ponvelle

This book combines just about everything I love: post apocalyptic, secret government agendas, zombies, and lots of action and suspense. 

It's written quite well and it's easy to fly through the pages. I had a bit of a hard time connecting with the main character, but truthfully, I wasn't sure I was supposed to. He's learning about his world at the same pace as we, the readers, are. 

Very interesting and lots of fun to read. 


Some Bio Information

Eric Ponvelle grew up in the swamps of south Louisiana. After clawing his way out of there, he relocated to Atlanta, Georgia to work as a writer in the Technology industry. From his southern upbringing, along with his fascination and love of horror, dreams, and technology, Eric seeks to create stories that shock, intrigue, and terrify his readers. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and pets.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?

I want to preface the fact that I was 14 when this happened, but the book started as a video game idea I had with some friends. I had just played Deus Ex, a fantastic, transhuman game, and I was inspired to do something more in that vein. Naturally, being into video games, I wanted to go that route, but I am a terrible programmer. I started writing the back story in the meantime, and then, as fate had it, I was required to finish it for a school project.

Through the years, I added more and more layers to it. Brave New World is in here, 1984 is definitely here, and a lot of other smaller things that meshed to create a story I could see in my mind.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

Writing has always come easy to me. I work as a Technical Writer, and I have done that for several years now. Because of that, my process is very second nature. In fiction, I usually start with an idea. It may not be a plotline or anything, but it’ll be something that is just below the surface. I can see it, but it is murky, so I have to start working on that idea.

Writing is a very fun thing to me, and I have no problem failing at it over and over as long as I get something out of it.
 
3. What was your favorite part of writing this book?

The layering. One element I used was flashbacks to tell how everything came to be the way it is in the main storyline. I normally love this element, but I wanted to do something I always looked for: bread crumbing.

Every instance of flashback parallels something happening in the main story. I hate to point that out in case it was really obvious, but it is something I think is really neat, and I hope people enjoy that part of it.

4. What does the perfect writing environment look like to you? 

Chaos.

It’ll become very apparent that I am a very disorganized person who will just drop into a situation and make it mine very quickly. I love writing in public places, not because I want to be seen writing, but because it gives me a little something extra to draw upon. Something about writing about things and seeing people gives a little humanity to it.

I will say my absolute perfect set up will have a computer with some very minimal software, coffee, a notebook with a pencil, and some music.

5. How would you describe your writing style? 

As a professional technical writer, I have to, often, remove my tone from pieces. As such, my narrative style tends to be very sterile and concise while my dialogue and characters tend to be very colorful but detailed.

I’d say one flaw I am working at overcoming is my lack of detailing everything. I tend to assume a lot when writing, and while I am far better now than I was, I think I have some work to do.

I guess the best way to describe my style is if a journalist for a small newspaper read a lot of Lovecraft, and since he knew no one really read his columns, he decided to have a lot of fun.

6. What would you like readers to take away from your book? 

At the absolute minimum, I want my readers entertained. I am very much an amateur fiction writer, and this book is my first long-form attempt. I am happy with the work, and I am proud it is done, but I would keep working on it, if I could. As long as someone walks away thinking, “that was fun,” I am pretty happy.

If I have to get a bit higher level, I want to push the idea that everything is subject to change. My belief system dramatically changed from when I started this book until it was released. My characters should reflect that. I never outwardly accept things anymore because I know that what is now may not be tomorrow.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

I want to entertain while enlightening. I think I’d consider my goal genre to be “High Pulp” or “High Pop” fiction. I want to give the reader a fun experience in a story, but I always want to have something of substance below the surface. Ideally, you would read this book once, walk away enjoying it. Then, you try it again, and you start to find little things to investigate. I think that’ll be a really rewarding experience when I can get to that level.

At the Doors of Strangers

At the Doors of Strangers - Greg Needham

I've always enjoyed books of short stories. It began with my love of Ray Bradbury. Short stories often showcase an author's strengths in that so much time and effort is devoted into just a couple of pages. To me, those short stories can say a lot about an author. 

Greg Needham's book is a great compilation of short stories that jumps around in topic, but flows together nonetheless. It held my attention and was a wonderful distraction from my regular routine. 

The writing is well done, the characters are wonderfully developed in each short story, and I had no trouble reading the entire book in one sitting. 


Some Bio Information

My name is Greg Needham and I’m a life-long learner who’s dabbled in many things but always stuck with words. I’ve wrote and edited published research papers, blogs, and indie video game scripts. But I consider my most important writing accomplishments here: writing in the mud as an infantry Marine; writing inappropriately wordy descriptions under pie-charts; writing philosophical responses to spam email; and creating my own alphabet. I wrote At the Doors of Strangers, which is an often surreal collection of short stories.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book? 

I wrote this book in an act of rebellion. I had just received my Masters of Science and didn’t want to give up my literary background, so I decided the only way I could get this book out of my head would be to travel to eastern Europe and put it together. Many of the stories floated in my head for years and I had to do them justice. Between work and education, I couldn’t seem to infuse my thoughts onto paper with the purity I wished. Traveling to eastern Europe was my “blank spot on the map,” to borrow from Joseph Conrad, and ended up being the necessary catalyst. So I traveled, wrote, and edited until I finished eight months later.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

Generally, I wait until it’s bursting out of me and into my everyday life – where on the outside I’m apparently having a watercooler conversation or filling up my car with gasoline, but really I’m testing the best way to describe the story in my head. Once I keep coming back to an idea or story against my will, I know it’s time. 

3. Describe your favorite short story in this book.

I would have to say the title piece, “At the Doors of Strangers.” I tried really hard to capture the feeling of my hometown in central Michigan, where the people are decent and good but live with the frustration of a stagnant area.

I’d also like to sneak in the story of Buzludzha, which is secretly a non-fiction piece I wrote after visiting the old Soviet monument in Bulgaria. I recommend seeing pictures of one of the strangest places I’ve come across.

4. What does the perfect writing environment look like to you?

For me, it’s a new place. The infusion of differences show me details I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. So I try to write in new spots, with new people around. Comparing two experiences will highlight the important parts for me. For an example, I don’t think it’s possible to fully understand an American breakfast until I’ve experienced a different one.

5. How would you describe your writing style?

I really wish I could say. Weird, probably. I can’t think of a comparable style, and that both alarms and delights me. It’s very flexible, changing depending on the story.

6. What would you like readers to take away from your book?

I tried very hard to impart bits of myself into the book. So each story generally has something truly personal to me, and I hope readers will recognize those feelings within themselves as well. Failing that, I hope they take away a unique experience they didn’t have before.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

My goal is to consistently describe stories that no one else is telling, but are important all the same

The Relationship Riddle

The Relationship Riddle - Susan Paulson Clark

While I am not the biggest fan of the romance genre, this book did manage to hold my attention. I appreciated that each character was mature and well established in their own right. However, they each had similar things going on in life in that each of them were trying to overcome an obstacle brought about by someone misinterpreting feelings for them. One was a professor and one was social worker. I had difficulty accepting that both of them were going through a similar situation and yet were so unwilling to talk to each other about it (and also unwilling to believe that each misinterpretation was unrequited).  

Despite that, the writing is well done, and the characters are well developed. The plot is consistent and in the end, everyone is happy, which makes for a nice and contented ending. 


Some Bio Information

Susan Paulson Clark has been writing for fifteen years. She's an avid reader of women's fiction, mysteries, and non-fiction titles. Susan enjoys painting (acrylic and oil) and spending time with her husband. She graduated from UC Santa Barbara with degrees in English and Education -- and she's an avid believer in writers' critique groups!


Q&A

1.    What inspired you to write this book?

I’m happily married now, but having had relationship problems in the past, I have a vivid recollection of being single “out there.” I enjoy writing about second chance romance. It’s important for me to encourage others – and I believe my book has a hopeful tone.

2.    Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

I outline my story chapter by chapter. However, when I get to the actual writing, minor characters often become integral to the story. In this book, Coach Neely and Natalie the social worker went from being brief mentions to fully developed characters.

3.    Describe your favorite scene in this book. 

The very last scene … but describing it would be a spoiler!

4.    What does the perfect writing environment look like to you? 

Every Monday I meet with my writing partner who writes historical fiction. We alternate between Panera and Starbucks. Writing is so solitary, so it’s fun to be around others while writing. And having a standing meeting keeps you accountable. Otherwise I write just about anywhere except at a desk!

5.    How would you describe your writing style?

I combine dialogue, description, emotion, action and internal thoughts. I like adding twists and turns to keep the reader guessing.

6.    What would you like readers to take away from your book? 

Love is more than a romp in the sack. Real love allows you to work through problems.

7.    What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

I would like to connect with readers through common experiences and encourage them to not give up in their search for a relationship