It’s Only Logical: part 1 in the series EDITING: MORE THAN I BEFORE E.


It’s Only Logical: part 1 in the series EDITING: MORE THAN I BEFORE E
by Laura Daly

Tomorrow is the last day of Words Matter Week, so it seems appropriate to start a blog entry on editing and writing. My friend Lisette had suggested a while ago that because I’ve been a freelance editor since 1984, I might have some knowledge, tidbits, tricks of the trade, or advice to give on the subject. I believe my initial reaction to her was “Huh?” because, from my perspective, I’m still learning how to be an editor. The longer I work at it, the more I realize how much I don’t know, how much there is for me to learn. But she persisted, and I can never say no to Ms. Brodey, so, what the heck, I’ll give it a shot and put out some ideas and offer some suggestions and probably some two-bit opinions that I hope may be helpful.

Where to begin: Well, I think I’ll start with internal logic and why it’s a very good thing to watch for in any writing. Now, I’m not using the term in the strict Introduction to Aristotelian Logic sense. I mean it in the sense of maintaining coherency and consistency. So, for example, when writing a work of fiction, that means paying attention to the details: the descriptions of characters, their backgrounds, their traits (character A is X, Y, and Z); the main developments in the plot and their relations to each other (plot point B happens because of points C and D, which are foreshadowed by point E); the time, both within the actual boundaries of the plot and before and after the storyline (plot point F occurs at X location on the story’s timeline); the locations—where events in the narrative take place, where characters are from or are going, that kind of thing (character G came from place H and currently is in place I and will wind up in place J); and the influences on the storyline, or why things occur (plot point K happens because of L, M, and N). (Being a J school grad, I resorted, if you noticed, to calling on the 5Ws: the who, what, when, where, and why of the story.)


Writers have different ways of keeping track of these details. Many do up copious lists, outlines, and descriptions, per character or chapter or major developments in the plot. Some do character sketches that may include details that never make their way into the story but that act as biographies for characters and help to keep traits, descriptions, and so on, clear. For a story covering a particular period of time, whether 24 hours or 3 months or 200 years, a timeline showing the plot points is helpful. Not all of these recorded details may wind up in the final story, but they help a writer stay true to the characters and the plot.

Editors can keep track, for instance, of descriptions of characters: Susie, 24, blonde, lives in Aberdeen, Maryland, hates crab, came from Dubuque; Butch, 39, wears flannel shirts, speaks with a drawl, once worked as a carny; plot point O takes place on planet Zoltar, which is two light-years from Boldorf—whatever details the author provides. With an involved storyline, editors may want to keep some notes or rely on the very helpful find feature in Word. Also, quick fact checking is very important and useful (even though publishers these days don’t seem to bother having fact checkers on staff). I’ve been asked to submit lists of characters, with descriptions, along with place names, as part of style sheets. As a matter of course for works of nonfiction, I keep lists of place names and proper names, along with a basic timeline, when needed. I also do fact checks, which are speeded up thanks to online sources. (A discussion on finding reliable sources might be good for another blog entry down the road.)


More importantly, things have to make sense within the context of the work. They have to be logical, even if a story itself is not meant to be realistic. So, for instance, a character who is in his late 20s in a story, which takes place now, can’t have been the set designer for a movie from 1985; that would mean he would have to be at least in his 50s, unless he was a child genius set designer, in which case he could be in his 40s. (This kind of discrepancy actually came up in a recent project.) A villain who is creeping up the stairs to a second-floor bedroom can’t suddenly be downstairs in the basement burying a body unless a gap in time is acknowledged in the story. An Edwardian gentleman can’t recite “In Flanders Fields.” You get the idea.

So, the lesson today is be consistent, be coherent, be logical. Oh, and don’t forget: words matter.

If you’ve come across odd internal logic problems in anything you’ve read recently or want to share some ideas on how you maintain internal logic in your own writing or editing, join the discussion.


Laura Daly, a freelance editor, writer, and proofreader based in Maywood, NJ, has worked on fiction and nonfiction trade books, textbooks, trade magazines, and journals. She can be reached at



Brenda Sorrels is a writer who grew up in Fargo, ND and attended Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY.  She now lives in Dallas with her family, including small dog, Charlotte – and spends summers writing in Connecticut.

Time to chat with Brenda!

What is your latest book?

The Bachelor Farmers, an historical love story set in Northern Minnesota in the winter of 1919.

Is your recent book a part of a series?

No, it’s not part of a series, but there will be a sequel.

If you were to advertise your book on a bumper sticker, what would it say?

The Bachelor Farmers – a love story to fall in love with!

What else have you written?

I’ve been writing short stories for many years, but this is my first published novel.

What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?

I think the biggest misconception is that the quality of the writing is not up to the level of traditionally published writers. This is changing fast. Many Indie writers, (just like all writers) are working very hard to become better at their craft. They’re having their work professionally edited, and are serious about taking it to the next level. In a way I think Indie writers are harder workers because they almost always must do everything themselves…this includes writing intros, synopses, bios, inside covers, back-of-book content, questions for discussion – you name it. Plus, they must promote themselves with very little help.

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

Great question. This happened a few times in The Bachelor Farmers which was a big part of how the story developed. I don’t want to give away the plot, but when I was certain one of the characters would not act a certain way, I switched the action to his brother and it became a huge twist in the story. I try to think out my characters ahead of time, but as you write they develop and sometimes go in directions you could not possibly have imagined. It’s one of the things I enjoy most about writing which leads into your next question:

What part of writing a novel do you enjoy most?  The Least?

The character development is definitely one of the most enjoyable parts of writing for me. There are always surprises around the corner! You have the story line going one way and then suddenly you realize that one of your characters would never do that…so you have to adjust and make some changes. They end up going in another direction which causes other things to happen.

I also really love the beginning when you have an idea and you must flesh it out.  I usually do an outline first, then write a short story.  If there’s enough there, and I love it, I will think about expanding it.  Right now I have several short stories that I think would make wonderful novels.

I love all of it really, but if I had to pick something I enjoyed the least it would be spending a lot of time writing a scene or say, an ending and realizing it doesn’t work, then having to scratch it and start all over again.  It’s a lot of work and very time-consuming!

Is it important to know the ending of a book before you write it?  The title?

I believe this is different for every writer or maybe I should say may be different for every book. For The Bachelor Farmers, I had the title in my mind well ahead of time. I just liked it and it triggered the story for me, though there was a lot of discussion in the end. Some people in my inner circle thought it could have been misleading, that people would associate it with old men in overalls, rather than young, hunky Norwegian brothers! I love the title and am glad I hung in there and kept it. The ending was changed a few times. I remember at one point having the entire book, but no ending. It took a few months to iron that out. Like I said before, I wrote a couple of endings before I was happy.

5969178BC_Front Cover

For my upcoming book, The Way Back ‘Round, I had no title for awhile and then my editor came up with it and I knew it was perfect.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

I work with my editor during the entire process of writing, so I would say I edit excessively as I write. I will do a first draft and when I’m ready I’ll give it to Margaret Doud, my friend and editor. She’ll read it and give me notes. I’ll redo it, add scenes, expand, change things, etc. on and on. We go back and forth like this until the changes we’re handing off fade away. You could actually fiddle with a book forever. At some point you must declare it “finished” and move on.   It takes many months and rewrites to get to that point.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

I wrote a small article for my blog which anyone can read on my website called  How I Wrote a Book. Here are some of the highlights: Start thinking of yourself as a writer, create a sacred space, write every day, take a writing class, write a messy first draft, try a short story first, find an editor, find a publisher. All of these things are important. You must think you’re a writer to become one…that’s key. After that, find the discipline to sit down and get the words on paper…if you can get this far I would also add…don’t send your work out too early. This is a huge mistake that most of us have made. You must edit and rewrite and edit and rewrite. Most of the work is really in the rewrite. I would also caution new writers to be careful who they share their work with. When you’re first starting out, you’re very fragile and almost no one hits a home run the first time to bat. Find someone you can work with who believes in your work. Be gentle with yourself and have patience!

Please, tell us about your experiences with social media.  What are your favorite and least favorite parts of it?

I have had a lot to learn with social media. I didn’t realize how time consuming it would be and how much work it is to keep up with it. Because I am in the middle of writing another book I’ve had to make some serious choices about how much time I devote to social media. I decided to cut back quite a bit because I wanted to get back to my writing. This is one of the problems with being an indie writer!

I understand now that social media really is about building relationships and interacting with people. Right now I devote my time to Facebook, my book page there, my blog, my reading group on Shelfari and reviews I do for Goodreads, guest blogs and interviews like this one. I also do some Twitter and  Linkedin.

Favorite part is meeting wonderful people.  Least favorite is the time it takes!

What do you like best about the books you read?  What do you like least?

I like books best when they are well written, portray characters with dimension and have interesting plots. I love it when characters are developed as much as possible. I just read an interview with the creator of Downton Abbey and he said he thinks a big part of the show’s success is that even the minor characters are fully fleshed out. If you watch that series you’ll see it is true! I also love books that have a strong sense of place which I think is very true for The Bachelor Farmers. A story that engages all of the senses as much as possible.  I like books where things happen.

I dislike bad writing, but I might excuse it (a bit) if the story itself is really good.  I don’t like a lot of gratuitous anything… violence, bad language etc. I am really sensitive to anything regarding animals and hate cruelty, even a little. I didn’t enjoy the book Like Water For Elephants because of this reason.  I don’t read a lot of fantasy or sci-fi, though I know some of it can be really good and a lot of fun.  I don’t like stories that take place in someone’s mind or are too psychological. I prefer stories to be a little more concrete. I also don’t like books that are too stylistic, where the writer is trying too hard with the language.

How much research was involved in writing your book?  How did you go about it?

I’d been writing a lot of short stories and I had it in my mind that I wanted to make one of them a love story that would be set in very beautiful place. A sense of place to me is important and is a huge part of this book. I have a large extended family and on my mother’s side (15 kids in her family) I had two uncles that were ranch hands, farmers, who never married. The concept stuck with me because it was so odd. When we think of farms we always think of families. When we think of bachelor farmers we think of old guys in overalls, but I wanted to make these bachelor farmers young and hunky – which I did. Ironically, these boys love horses and horses ended up playing a significant role in the story, especially at the end. Many Norwegians settled in ND and MN and so I thought of Northern Minnesota, and I began to research that area.  I did a lot of research on line, but I also found the Voices of America books on ND, MN, Pioneer Women, Cass County and several others were great. A River Runs Through It, by Norman Maclean was one of my favorites for the ambiance and feel of the forest, etc.  The Haymakers by Steven Hoffbeck, Spirit of the North and The Lonely Land by Sigurd Olson, Tales of Spirit Mountain by Anne Crooks.  I also read countless articles on how the land up north was settled, who lived there and what happened. The Native Americans at the time, the Ojibwa, were in and amongst the Swedes, Norwegians, Finns, Danes, and French Traders – and the logging business was thriving. All of this played into the story. Mahal, a beautiful half-Ojibwa woman is hired as the brothers’ cook when her abusive husband is injured in a logging accident.

Is there a question I haven’t asked you that you would like to answer?  If so, what is it?

Yes, what is my new book about?

The Way Back ‘Round is a story of family and friendship, of a boy who makes an innocent, but terrible choice that haunts him for the rest of his life.

The story begins in the summer of 1937, rural Minnesota, when twelve-year-old Jake Frye breaks a promise to his parents that results in a tragedy that shatters his close-knit family. Unable to face his guilt, Jake hops a freight train joining thousands of other depression-era men and boys riding the rails. Fate brings him together with another boy named Franz and they form a friendship as close as brothers.

As they journey through “jungle” camps pitched along the routes to picking fruit in California, cotton in Texas, a Roosevelt Conservation Corps Camp for itinerant men and WWII – they face the ultimate challenge. Will they survive the cold hungry life on the road or be killed by one of the brutal “Bulls” who patrol the tracks? Will Franz ever marry the red-headed girl he dreams about? Will Jake ever see his family again?

As challenges are met, Jake learns what it takes to survive in an unfair world, what it means to forgive and ultimately what it means to love. Themes of friendship and family, loss and guilt weave through the story and reinforce the truth that our lives are shaped by the choices we make.

Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft?  Can you elaborate?

As I mentioned before I work very closely with my editor through the entire process. I also have a group of what I call my “Core Readers.” These are very smart, literary friends who like to read and will give me their feedback. I give different people different drafts at different times. It all depends on how I’m feeling or what I want to know.

Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you?  In what way?

Yes, some of the reactions and feedback has surprised me.  I was surprised at how people got attached to certain characters and why. Some people mentioned the sadness and their feelings for different things that happened. It surprised me because I hadn’t given much thought to people’s reactions, etc. I just wrote the story that was inside of me. I imagine I’ll have many more surprises down the line.

Do you write anything besides novels?  Care to share?

I write a lot of short stories as I’ve mentioned.  I also write a blog every month and post it on my website.

Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?

I have always loved writing though as a child it was letter writing, journaling, pen pals, etc. I developed a real love for it in college but didn’t start taking workshops until years later when I was married. I got really serious around eight years ago and have been going strong ever since.

Do you dread writing a synopsis for your novel as much as most writers do?  Do you think writing a synopsis is inherently evil?  Why?

I will admit that it’s not one of my favorite things to do.  It’s one of the most difficult things to write, but I also think it is invaluable in helping a writer articulate to other people what their book is about.

If you were to write a non-fiction book, what might it be about?

This is amazing because I was just thinking about this the other day. I would like to write a book on what it takes to be a good step-mom. I’ve been married for 13  years and have two wonderful stepdaughters. I’d like to share my experience.  Most of the times stepmoms get a bad rap and I’d like to write a book about how being a stepmom can be a rich and rewarding experience.

Do you have any advice to a new author if they asked you whether to pursue the traditional route to publishing or to start out as an independent writer?

I believe that this really depends on the writer. If you have the time and patience to pursue the traditional route, it’s probably worth giving it a try. It would be wonderful to have help with promotion, publicity, etc. though for new writers, I’m told publishing companies don’t really do that much. It’s not an easy route either way, I think. Traditional publishing takes a lot of the writer’s income unless you land a huge book deal somewhere. Indie publishing is growing and you have more control over your destiny. If you go the traditional route you must find an agent  (this could take forever!) They then, have to sell your book to the publisher (this could take forever) and then who knows when or if they will ever publish it. If you’re very young and have years and years before you, it could be worth it. If you’re impatient and want to do your own thing, there are so many choices now – it’s really quite wonderful.

What have you done to market your novel and what did you find the most effective?  The least effective?

Another great question!  I’ve done as much as I can via social media.  I’ve tried all of it, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linkedin, Amazon Boards, Goodreads, Shelfari, Pinterest on and on. I wish I had time to do more. This is by far, the biggest challenge I am facing right now. Getting people to review the book, leave reviews on Amazon and other places, etc. has been the most important thing and I believe has helped me the most. I’ve decided to cut back and do the things I enjoy doing, because I need my time to keep writing. Right now Facebook is the biggest thing for me and I’ve been able to connect with some great people like you! I’ve gotten into Pinterest too and love it. I matched photographs with dialogue from the book, so it’s like looking at a small movie. Really fun! I think it helps to do interviews like this one and anything else that comes your way, book clubs, book fairs, etc. Anything at all to get the word out. All of these things present an enormous challenge to time management, so you have to pick and choose the ones you enjoy and the ones that will give you the biggest amount of momentum.

Do you feel your latest book is your personal favorite or one of your previous novels?

It is because this is my first published novel, but I’m also really excited about The Way Back ‘Round which I hope to have out within the next couple of months.

Having our work out there to be judged by strangers is often daunting for writers.  Do you have any tips for handling a negative review?

Take what they say and if something rings true for you like – how to improve your writing, do it in the next book. Otherwise try not to think about it and move on…keep going. Understand that not everyone is going to like everything you write.

Many authors do giveaways; have you found them a successful way to promote your book?

Yes, I think giveaways are fantastic!  I’ve done several and people love them.  I would definitely recommend doing as many as you can handle.

Have you been involved with the Kindle Direct Program?  If yes, do you believe it’s worthwhile?

I’ve never been involved with Kindle Direct.

Are you an early bird or night owl? And do you have any must haves like coffee, chocolates, wine, music or something else?

I do my best work at night. I’m not a morning person at all. I like to get up and get all of my errands out of the way for the day. Once I sit down at my desk I do not like to be disturbed and I can go until all hours of the night. That’s what I enjoy most about writing in Connecticut. It’s quiet and there are few disturbances. An afternoon cup of coffee or tea is nice and sometimes at night when I’m winding down, a glass of wine. I like to do a final read-through after a day’s work with a glass of wine. It makes me sleepy and when I’m done, I’m ready to head back for the night!

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover.  This is true.  However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?

I place a huge amount of importance on the cover design. This is the first meeting people will have with your book. If they are not attracted to the cover, they may not even pick it up. I don’t think you can spend too much time designing the cover. I spent hours and days searching for the perfect photograph for my book cover. I love the cover and never tire of looking at the image. I’ve also had many people comment on how much they love the cover. I would say take your time…do all that you can do to make it perfect.

Every day brings forth new changes and shifts in the world of publishing.  Any predictions about the future?

I think that indie publishing is going to keep moving into the mainstream and will continue to gain respect as more and more indie authors are discovered.  I also think there will be more electronic reading…the trends that are happening now will continue. However, I also believe that there will always be a desire for real books. There is nothing like the feel of a real book in your hands. I love my Kindle but I also love my books…books warm up a room, they make you feel good, you can write in the margins and pick them up and turn them over, give them as gifts. There will always be people who feel like this.  I think there will always be people who will gravitate to the small bookstores too.  Some small bookstores will make it, others won’t…but I don’t believe they will ever die out altogether. At least I hope not!

How would you define your style of writing?

I am extremely visual and I think of my writing as descriptive with a lyrical quality to it.

A lot of authors are frustrated by readers who don’t understand how important reviews are.  What would you say to a reader who doesn’t think his or her review matters?

For a reader who doesn’t think reviews are important, I would argue that many times it is one of the only tools that potential readers have to help them find a new book. Unless someone recommends it to you or you read about it somewhere, how are you going to find out about what a book is about? Reviews help the writer get the word out about their work, but it’s also extremely helpful to go to new readers to help them not waste time and money on something they will not like, etc. It helps readers as much as writers. As writers, we are going to have to keep emphasizing this to our friends and readers. If you want to help a writer, there is no better way than to leave them a good review on one of the social media sites.

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

I live in Dallas, Texas now but grew up in Fargo, North Dakota then headed east for college. After graduating from Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY, I worked in NYC as an editor for Mademoiselle Magazine. I moved to Wilton, Connecticut with my first husband and lived there most of my adult life. My first husband died suddenly at a young age, and I decided Los Angeles would be a great place to start anew. I ended up working for the Fox Broadcasting Company in National Media, where we promoted the shows that ran on the Fox Network.  Movies and storytelling is what LA is all about, and it was here that my interest in writing really began to take shape. For the next five years, I took countless classes through the UCLA Extension program on storytelling, character development, script analysis, etc. However, I missed the change of seasons, my house, the beauty of Connecticut and eventually moved back east.

Eventually, I married Barry Sorrels, my college boyfriend (he went to Columbia University in NYC) and moved to Texas.  I live in Dallas now with my husband and small dog, Charlotte. I have two step-daughters who are grown but are a big part of my life. I like to return to Wilton to write, especially over the summer months when it’s too hot in Texas. If I ever had to move again, it would be back to Connecticut I’m sure.

If you could add a room onto your current home, what would you put in it?

If I could add a dream room to my house I would add a very personal writing space, cozy but not too small either. I’d have floor to ceiling bookshelves with all of my favorite books…a couple large windows, a fireplace, a large desk, my favorite pictures hanging on the walls…a special spot for my small dog, Charlotte.

What are three things you think we can all do to make the world a better place?

I think we could make the world a better place if we all slowed down a bit.  Everyone I know, including myself, is always short on time or rushing to get somewhere or do something. Our culture could take a few lessons from the Europeans…longer vacations, more time off for family, etc. If we slowed the pace I think we’d become more tolerant of one another. We’d be more likely to know who our neighbors are and to get involved if they need help. On the other hand I also believe that people are basically good and in some ways things are better than they used to be. There is a lot more opportunity out there for writers and anyone willing to work hard to make their dreams a reality.

I think the world would be a better place if we went back to some of the core values of our grandparents’ era. Less materialism and more emphasis on what’s really important in life, like the intangibles…time spent with a loved one, caring for a pet, growing a garden, picking flowers, reading a child a book, saying a prayer now and then…all of the lessons that come from the countless things in our everyday lives that we take for granted.

I think the world would be a better place if every person lived consciously,  (In fact, I just wrote a blog about this very subject!)  if they thought about their own imprint on the planet and what it means for themselves and other people. I think more people would take the time to recycle and show concern for environmental  issues – the quality of our air, the state of our oceans, forests, the animals and other people around the world. The good news is that there are a lot of people out there who are thinking about the way they live and getting more involved in their communities, etc.  If everyone did their part, it would make a huge difference.



Barnes &  Noble









Hi, Everyone:

How many of you remember being read to by your mother or father when you were a child?

When I was a child, I remember my mother reading poetry to my brother and me, and as I grew up, I remember her writing it. During her 20s and 30s, she wrote hundreds of poems. In her late 30s, she went back to work, and her love for writing poetry was set aside.

My mother, Dr. Jean Lisette Brodey, a retired Temple University journalism professor, is now in her 80s. About a year ago, I asked her where her poems were, and she said she feared they were lost. I knew they were not, as I’d seen them in her house. During a visit back to Philadelphia in September 2012, I found the poetry and began making plans to choose 50-some poems for a small collection.


That is how the book My Way to Anywhere began. Most of the poetry, expressed through imagery, abstract concepts, and word portraits, is about people who affected my mother’s life. My favorite poem in the book is called “An Ending.” It is a poem that tells of the death of my mother’s friend’s 27-year-old husband who died of cancer.

Here is an excerpt:

Why do we rend the days with our grief?

He would not have it so

For he respected life

Too much to bewail its passing

And death was too obscure

To have a place in his philosophy.

The thing has been decreed

(he would have said)

So if you have to pause

Let it be to reason

Not to mutter or complain

Then go on to ponder things

That somehow can be explained.

Death is a void, that’s all.

He would not toy with idle questions

For reason was his god and he was twenty-seven.

On a lighter note, there is a section of the book called FOR CHILDREN. Here is one short poem:


A wondrous number is 2.

There’s so much

2 can do!

2’s less than 3

2’s more than 1.

2 is an awful lot of fun!

My Way to Anywhere is not my mother’s first book. In 1983, through Westminster Press, she published Mid-Life Careers.

Mid-life Careers


The heading above is probably the last thing you’d expect in a blog about my mother and her poetry book. Well, let me explain.

When Mid-Life Careers came out, my mother did a great deal of publicity for the book in Philadelphia, New York, and Los Angeles.

One of her bookings was on an early morning Los Angeles talk show, and Jay Leno was one of the other guests. I have no idea why, but Jay was cooking up chicken wings on the show. My mother had five minutes to talk about her book, and while on the air, Jay came over to her and said he’d like “the doctor” to taste his chicken wings. My mother wasn’t about to give up her five minutes tasting Jay’s chicken wings and promptly declined, whereupon Jay called her a “party pooper” or something like that. After that, she was never a fan of Jay’s. I think she’s gotten over it, though. But I do remember having to rip off the cover of her TV Guide when he was on it. (And yes, it was the very same cover seen below!)


On a New York talk show, my mother was lucky enough to be a guest along with legendary singer Eartha Kitt and after the show enjoyed a wonderful lunch with her.

But the most memorable moment after the publication of Mid-Life Careers was seeing a downtown Philadelphia bookstore filled with copies of her book. What author wouldn’t love that?

Throughout her career as a tenured professor at Temple University teaching public relations, my mother won many prestigious awards, including induction into the Philadelphia Public Relations Association’s Hall of Fame.



Well, enough of my reminiscing. I have interviewed my mother for this blog, and I do hope you’ll enjoy meeting her.

When did your love of poetry begin?

When I was about five years old, my mother read Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses to me. It was better than hearing a story. The rhymes delighted me, and I found them to be lots of fun. Because the poems were read to me on a regular basis, they became a part of my young life. I still remember some of the poems by heart, such as “My Shadow” and “The Swing.”

Do you remember when you wrote your first poem?

I don’t remember my first poem. But when I was in the first or second grade, I wrote a poem and showed it to my father. I told him that I had written it, but he didn’t seem to believe me. He asked me again if I had written it and then asked me if I had copied it out of a poetry book. I was pleased that he thought it was that good, but I was also hurt that he didn’t think I had written it.

Did any of your grade school teachers recognize your talent for writing poetry?

I can’t recall which grade it was, but I had a teacher named Mrs. Schulke who liked my poetry so much that she had it illustrated by a talented student named George Logan and put it together in a book for me.

Did your love for poetry continue throughout junior high and high school?

Yes, as a matter of fact, under my photo yearbook in Philadelphia’s General Louis Wagner Junior High School, I stated that I wanted to be a journalist when I grew up. I didn’t really know what journalists did; I just knew that they wrote. And I figured that they wrote poetry.

I remember writing poems for special occasions. A poem I wrote for my aunt Nancy is still in my head. It goes like this:

On Christmas and your birthday,

Any occasion of the year,

You can always depend on stockings,

That come from Nancy dear.

You earned a degree in journalism from Penn State University. What did you hope to do with your degree?

I wanted a job that involved writing, but I had no specific expectations. At a local youth hostel, while attending a meeting for hiking and camping enthusiasts, I met a man who was a job recruiter. Through him, I was hired at the Frank H. Fleer Company in Philadelphia. The company manufactured Double Bubble gum, and I was hired to edit the company’s internal publication and to write facts and fortunes for bubble gum wrappers. During my three years at this company, I got married and then became pregnant with the person interviewing me right now.

When did you seriously begin writing poetry?

Once I stopped working outside the home, my love for writing poetry became more intense.

How did you judge your own work? Did you think you were a good poet? How does one define “good” in terms of poetry?

The answers are complex. For every poem I wrote, I had a general idea of what I wanted to say and how I hoped readers would perceive it. Even though I wrote in abstract terms, it was always my hope that my words would stir the reader. My right to use the label “poet” often changed depending on my own feelings about a poem and other people’s comments. Sometimes how I felt had nothing to do with the poetry and everything to do with what was going on in my life.

You felt very strongly about the widow of poet Edgar Lee Masters, Ellen Coyne Masters. She had a great influence on your work. Please tell us more.

I met Mrs. Masters at Penn State (Ogontz campus), where she was teaching an adult class in reading literature. When I first saw her, I had strong negative feelings. But those feelings changed very quickly into positive ones. She had a strong personality, and I suppose not knowing her at first, I perceived her differently.

Shortly after meeting her, I read her late husband’s masterpiece, Spoon River Anthology, which is a collection of fictional epitaphs about a community called Spoon River. I was inspired by the work of Edgar Lee Masters. I even wrote some fictional epitaphs of my own in the same vein. [Two of them are included in My Way to Anywhere.] I also was inspired to write poems about the poet and his wife.

Mrs. Masters was gracious enough to look at my poetry from time to time and encouraged me to write more. Positive reinforcement from her gave me an incredible joie de vivre.

Do you remember the first time one of your poems was accepted for publication?

Yes! My family and I had been away on vacation, and the post office was holding my mail. When I went to collect the mail, I saw a letter from a national poetry magazine. I opened it up and found out that it was an acceptance. I was overjoyed, thrilled, and, most importantly, felt like a poet.

Who are some of your favorite poets to read?

My favorite poet is Wallace Stevens. I also love Emily Dickinson, Amy Lowell, Walt Whitman, James Joyce, e. e. cummings, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Theodore Roethke, William Wordsworth, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and, of course, Edgar Lee Masters.

Your poetry is now being published some 50 to 60 years after you wrote it. How does that make you feel?

Wonderful. I had stopped writing poetry after I went back to work. Several years later, I earned my master’s and doctorate degrees in education and worked until retirement as a journalism professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, so there was no time in my life to pursue poetry. Having this collection of my poetry published now makes me realize how important poetry has always been to me.

Thanks for a great interview, Mom!

September 14, 2014: It is with a very heavy heart that I must add that my mother died on April 30, 2014. I was blessed to be with her at the very end.

Buy Links for My Way to Anywhere

Amazon (Paperback)

Amazon (Kindle)

Barnes & Noble (Nook)

Amazon UK







Molly Ringle has been writing stories since middle school, and especially likes creating fiction about love, humor, and frequently the paranormal. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family, because a climate without rain would make her sad.

MollyRingleTime to chat with Molly!

Can you tell us about your road to publication?

It got off to a slow start, with years and years of rejections, nibbles that ended up going nowhere, and publication by small houses that soon went out of business. But finally in 2008 The Wild Rose Press accepted my manuscript, The Ghost Downstairs. Hurray! My experience with that press was so positive that I decided to approach another small press (Central Avenue Publishing) two years later for one of my YA titles, What Scotland Taught Me. The editors there have turned out to be wonderful and attentive too, and we’re now talking together about my next novel, a YA paranormal based in Greek mythology.


What do you like best about the books you read? What do you like least?

I like novels that bring a setting alive for me, and have lovable characters who feel real. Moments of humor are always appreciated, as well as fresh ways of phrasing things; and, of course, a plot that makes me want to keep reading. Accordingly, books I dislike tend to feature anything that bores me or pulls me out of the moment: info dump (“the author did a lot of research and is going to make you pay for it”), characters who are flat or annoying or who don’t lift a finger to get themselves out of scrapes, and clunky phrases or excessive clichés.

How much research was involved in writing your books? How did you go about it?

One type of research I did with both What Scotland Taught Me and Relatively Honest was to employ Britpickers. I’ve been to the UK, but my memory isn’t perfect, and neither is Internet research. So I sent the manuscripts to British friends and begged them to fix the dialects, the setting details, anything they could catch. And I’m glad I did, because they all caught things I never would have guessed were wrong.


Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?

When I was a teenager, I used to have my sister and friends read my works in progress. But these days I feel more comfortable composing a semi-decent complete draft before unveiling it to others. I tend to feel first drafts are not to be seen. I do my own first round of fixes and edits before even letting the beta readers see it. If nothing else, I don’t want to make everyone tired of the story before it’s even officially done. For my upcoming YA paranormal, I have posted occasional small excerpts to show people what I’m up to–just a few lines here and there. I’m hoping those serve as teasers or appetizers, making people curious to read it later. But even posting those made me a bit nervous.

Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you? In what way?

It interests me when some readers hate the protagonists and others love them. This has happened most dramatically with both What Scotland Taught Me and Relatively Honest. The teen narrators for those books make a lot of ethically dubious decisions, which I knew would pose problems for some readers. And indeed, for the Scotland novel, some hate Eva (the narrator) while loving Laurence (another main character); but others ended up feeling vice-versa. And with Relatively Honest, I’ve had some people say narrator Daniel is loathsome scum, while I’ve had others say he’s lovely and tame and adorable. What I’m hoping this means is I’ve created actual three-dimensional characters with many facets, just like real people

Do you write anything besides novels? Care to share?

Parodies, mainly. I find it funny to condense a whole movie or book into a ridiculously short format (say, a few pages), which alone is amusing, but which I augment by cracking jokes along the way. I’ve done this for several of the Harry Potter books, and the Lord of the Rings films, as well as the unabridged Les Misérables (they’re all available on my website), and people seem to like them. Despite my laughs at the expense of these films/books, I only write parodies for material I honestly like. I wouldn’t bother spending that much time and effort for something I didn’t like.

If you were to write a non-fiction book, what might it be about?

Perfume. It’s one of my main hobbies and biggest non-literature-related loves. Scents fascinate me because of how closely they’re tied to our emotions and memories, and perfume is the art form of the scent world. So when it’s well done, it makes me swoon. Plus it involves a lot of science, and science is sexy.

Having our work out there to be judged by strangers is often daunting for writers. Do you have any tips on handling a negative review?

Just don’t answer it. Anything you say will call attention to it. Silence is the best revenge. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll have fans come to your defense with their own outrage, which is always satisfying.

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?

I love my covers, because I’ve been very lucky: both of my publishers asked for my input on what I’d like the covers to look like, then employed graphic artists to create them. (Good thing, since I have almost no graphic art skills myself.) Are they important? I think they are, more than the old saying would indicate. We can’t help being psychologically influenced by a cover. Haven’t we all hesitated to be seen in public with some book whose cover features a couple ripping off each other’s clothes, or a gory weapon splattered with blood and a cheesy horror font?

Have you ever wished that you could bring a character to life? If so, which one and why?

I wish it with every book. And of course these days I wouldn’t mind meeting some of my Greek-god characters. But one of the most enduring favorites of mine who I’d like to meet is Daniel, narrator of Relatively Honest. His whole persona revolves around being charming, flattering, clever, and hot. Plus he’s got a London accent. So, though it’s shallow of me, naturally I want to meet him, just to listen to him talk, and to let him flatter me. Even though I already set up a girlfriend for him.

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

I live in Seattle, and most of the time I’m content to be here. But sometimes I miss the warmer, milder climate of Oregon, where I grew up–especially the smaller cities with less traffic. I also suspect I’d do pretty well living in Provence or the south of England, but those are more like pipe dreams. I do require pretty landscapes and some rain in the climate.

Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats?

I can’t help thinking trains are coolest, and my young sons would agree. But planes sure are faster. I just wish they’d give you more legroom without asking an exorbitant fee.

Care to brag about your family?

My parents, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunts–they’re all quirky, hilarious, and far above average in intelligence. They’re a fabulous gene pool to have come from, and I treasure them. As for my main household: my 3-year-old can already read lots of words! My 7-year-old has gotten 100% on all his spelling tests this year! And my husband puts up with me with far more grace than anyone, ever! That alone qualifies him for a Nobel Prize, believe me.

If you could add a room onto your current home, what would you put in it?

This is surely not the most practical answer, but what first leaped to my mind was, “Greenhouse!” A sunroom/mudroom, basically, would be awesome. Glass walls or at least big windows on three sides, lots of plants, space to leave your muddy boots before entering the rest of the house, and informal places to sit and read. Maybe we could camp out in there on warm summer nights. Yeah. All sounds pretty good.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Most sane people would say I have a ridiculously large number of perfume samples, decants, and bottles, more than I can use in a decade. So sniffing at those, and selecting the “right” one to wear each day to suit my mood, probably counts as a guilty pleasure. Also chocolate. Not a day goes by without my nibbling bittersweet Ghirardelli chocolate chips.




Facebook Author Page






Mike Roche is an adjunct instructor of Criminal Justice and retired from the U.S. Secret Service. He is the author of Face 2 Face – Observation, Interviewing and Rapport Building, Mass Killers: How You Can Identify Workplace, School, or Public Killers Before They Strike, and three works of fiction, The Blue Monster, Coins of Death and Karma!

What else have you written?

I am an eclectic writer. I have written two police procedurals with a hardboiled female detective, The Blue Monster and Coins of Death, one YA mystery/romance that explores the trauma of bullying called Karma! Oh yeah, I have also written a nonfiction rapport building and observation techniques based on my experience with the Secret Service, called Face 2 Face. I am working on a historical fiction along with several other works in progress.


What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?

That we are not “real writers.” Yes, there are a number of people that are hobbyists or should not have been published, but that is up to the readers to decide. With the contraction of the publishing industry, the opportunity to become traditionally published is becoming more daunting. Many of the New York Times best sellers can hold up countless rejection letters from agents and publishers. In today’s market, how many of those same authors would have chosen the Indie path? All of the Indie authors I have known are dedicated to their profession and craft. Guy Kawasaki, termed us as artisan author/publisher/entrepreneurs (APE’s).


Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

I have a general sense of where the book will end, but it is fluid. I enjoy escaping with my fictional friends and letting them make the final decision. In The Blue Monster, I initially had Frank Duffy as a minor figure, but he weaseled into almost a co-starring role with Kate Alexander. As I came towards the end, I decided to add an unexpected twist. In Coins of Death, the final scene was added after my wife’s input from reading the manuscript. Aside from Coins of Death, each of my works has had a number of title changes.


Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?

I have a blog on my website at in which I provide relationship advice. I have a Facebook page and LinkedIn, but I really do not promote those platforms. I spend most of my time on Twitter. As I told you and wrote a post on this, I was like the teenager making their way into the cool surf of the Jersey Shore. As I became more acclimated, I have made many online friends. It is a beautiful community, where most everyone is accepted. Just like at Thanksgiving, stay away from religion and politics. There is a considerable time commitment to engage in the community, but it is invigorating when you interact with friends, fans and other writers. I am always impressed by those that are gracious and humble. Many of those on Twitter are willing to share and help promote others. Like the pioneer days when they would have a barn-raising in which the community collected together to help a neighbor. Being Irish, Twitter reminds me of the pub mentality, where everyone drops in and huddles around the bar sharing gossip and stories.

How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?

Despite spending a career in law enforcement, I still have to fact check and I have a considerable library of reference books. Technology is always changing. In Face 2 Face, my bibliography was eleven pages. I am working on an historical fiction on Irish immigration and there was considerable research involved. I recently visited the Five Points section of New York and the West of Ireland last year for more perspective.



Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?

I typically do not allow anyone to read until the first draft is complete. There are too many dream stealers that dampen the synergy. I did share Karma! I wanted to gauge the interest of the young adult target audience. At the 8,000 word mark I shared the beginning with my daughter. She was in her late teens, so I continued when she gave me the thumbs up.

Having our work out there to be judged by strangers is often daunting for writers. Do you have any tips on handling a negative review?

Most authors I speak with are hurt personally by negative reviews. Most everyone is stung from rejection. We have invested a great deal of time and money in the project. Due to the anonymity of the internet, some reviews can be very caustic and some have an agenda. I use my wife as a filter. She reads the good ones and if there is a negative one with valid criticism, she will paraphrase for me. I look at Stephen King, Michael Connelly and Lee Childs all have one-star reviews for their best selling books.

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?

Professor Nalini Ambady’s research has demonstrated that a first impression is completed in less than two seconds. Author Joe Konrath has beat the gavel on this issue as well. My first cover artist went missing. In a panic, I went looking for a replacement. I found an author’s covers that popped off the screen and I contacted him. His cover artist is Lynn Hansen, and she has been fun to work with. A good cover is well worth the investment. Do it yourself covers, often have that appearance. Don’t judge yourself; allow others to provide input.

How would you define your style of writing?

My writing is based upon an amalgam of experiences and characters that I met in my 33 years in law enforcement. I enjoy writing complex plots, and hosting an eclectic group of characters thrown into a caldron. I am heavy on dialogue and let the characters tell the story as they expose their personality.

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

I live in Tampa and I love it. If I were compelled to relocate, I would chose either Denver or New York. I have always enjoyed the abstract of Denver’s architecture and terrain. It is a great walking city as is New York. I enjoy the diversity of the entertainment and dining experiences in large cities. Dublin and London would also be high on my list since I sunburn easily.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Least favorite food?

I enjoy creating culinary delights in my kitchen, but I still fall back on NY Pizza. My least favorite is anything that swims. I cook it, but I will not eat seafood.

What are the most important traits you look for in a friend?

Loyalty, integrity and dependability. I love someone that feels comfortable enough to ask for a favor and one that will offer a favor without being asked.

What music soothes your soul?

I have a very eclectic music collection. For soothing, I enjoy light classical or smooth jazz.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Rude, arrogant and egotistical people. Does that count as one or three peeves?

What are three things you think we can all do to make the world a better place?

Slow down and listen.

Demonstrate genuine respect for others.

Look for random acts of kindness that you can deliver to improve someone’s day.





Mass Killers: How You Can Identify Workplace, School, or Public Killers Before They Strike





What is your latest book?

My last published novel was released in October 2012. It’s called The Dream Merchant Saga: Book Three The Crack’d Shield. It is a YA fantasy co-written with my teenaged daughter Nia. The latest book I am in the process of writing is the 10th novel in the Imago Chronicles series, an adult epic fantasy.

I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?

Yes! The first three novels in the Imago Chronicles series have been optioned for a major motion picture trilogy planned for a worldwide theatrical release in 2014. An Oscar nominated/two-time Golden Globe winning production team is at the helm of this project; the screenplay is done, the line producer has determined the budget based on the screenplay, a major film distributor is on board and 100% of financing has been secured, so movie development is now underway!


What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?

I was surprised when I discovered some readers and book reviewers refused to touch my novels because I’m self-published! Even though my writing was worthy of literary representation and is currently in movie development and they’ve received some great reviews, these readers cannot be swayed to read my novels. Apparently, they’ve read a number of self-published novels that were just poorly written or were not properly or professionally edited; they didn’t want to chance another terrible read. With one broad stroke of a brush, we’ve all been painted as amateur writers when there are some professionals out there that take indie publishing very seriously! Many use professional editors, use feedback from Beta readers and hire professional cover designers to put out products as good as, if not better, than some traditionally published titles!

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

The title, not so much, but probably with the last ten of the thirteen novels I’ve written so far, I’ve written the ending first. The story is the journey the characters undertake to get to that ending.

Do you write anything besides novels? Care to share?

I’ve written everything from a documentary that was aired on The Biography Channel to scripts for a weekly TV adventure travel show (West Coast Adventures recently hit the international airwaves). I’ve even written a script for a themed fundraiser where the hosts were dressed as characters from Alice in Wonderland! Basically, I’ll tackle most things as a freelance writer, but writing fantasy is my first love.

Do you have any advice to a new author if they asked you whether to pursue the traditional route to publishing or to start out as an independent writer?

If your ultimate goal is to have your stories read, then indie is probably a great way to go, but I still run into aspiring authors who believe that unless you are traditionally published, you have no credibility as an author. It comes down to the individual and what your expectations are. If you’re willing to find a credible literary agent with a proven sales record and you don’t mind waiting 18-24 months to see your novel on the shelf of a bookstore (that’s only if the agent can sell it) and believe you only have validation as a writer if you are traditionally published, then this is the only way to go.

Many authors do giveaways; have you found them a successful way to promote your book?

I’ve tried the free giveaways via the Kindle Direct Program and it generated only a handful of sales of the sequel to the free novel and ‘0’ new reviews. I spoke to some who took advantage of these free downloads and they admitted they love anything that’s free. They also said they often have so many titles they had downloaded, by the time they go through their eReader, they don’t even remember why they downloaded some of the titles (other than it was free) and admitted they just delete them without even reading the ebook.

I found the amount I received from the sequels being borrowed from the Lending Library was less than I would have received if I had sold the sequels instead.

I also discovered that those who invested in the books by buying them were more inclined to read that first book. Happily, about 93-97% of those buying the first book in either the Imago or Dream Merchant series return to buy some or all the books in the series. I even had some crossing over from the Imago series to read the other books in the Dream Merchant series, and vice versa, once they were done just to keep reading my novels. This is a very gratifying feeling! 😉

Have you been involved with the Kindle Direct Program? If yes, do you believe it’s worthwhile?

I tried it for The Magic Crystal and The Silver Sword, books one and two of the Dream Merchant Saga and even though I made it to the top 10 free fantasy download during the 5 days of free giveaway, either people hated it so much they couldn’t be bothered to post a review or come back for the sequel (only about 5 borrows) or they didn’t read it at all! As I said in the above question, those who had invested by paying for it were the ones returning for more!

Also, I do make sales via Smashwords, particularly through the Apple Store and Kobo, but if you’re with Kindle Direct, you can’t make sales to those who prefer to buy anywhere else but Amazon.

I feel uncomfortable letting Amazon have a monopoly on book sales and I believe readers should be able to buy from the retailer of their choice. Plus, I’ve had readers tell me they love that with Smashwords, once you download an ebook, it won’t mysteriously disappear. Plus, if you switch from say a Kindle to a Kobo or iPad, if you bought through Smashwords, you can transfer these titles. Apparently, you cannot do this with Amazon purchases. You must buy them again to download onto your new reader!

What’s your favorite comfort food? Least favorite food?

Favorite comfort food: Homemade beef vegetable soup, heavy on the veggies & barley. Least favorite: Beef vegetable soup from a can.

What’s the coolest surprise you’ve ever had?

My hubby & daughter matted and framed the signed photographs of the cast from The Lord of the Rings trilogy I had languishing in a folder for years! It looks fabulous! Second surprise that was not so cool? My hubby wanted to hang these framed photos on a small wall directly behind a door that is open 98% of the time so none would see it unless that said door is closed! lol

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I am only slightly bigger/taller than my Twitter avatar! And many are quite surprised to learn that in spite of my puny size, I’m a 5th dan black belt practitioner/instructor in a discipline that incorporates 6 traditional samurai schools and 3 schools of ninjutsu and until last year, all my students were men.









Cassius Shuman is an acclaimed journalist, playwright, screenwriter, and novelist who grew up in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. After an arm injury derailed his dreams of playing professional baseball, he segued into broadcast journalism, which established the foundation for his writing and producing career. He resides in Los Angeles, where he works in the television, film, and communications business.

Time to chat with Cassius!

What is your latest book?

My latest book, which is my debut novel, is called The Dead Boy’s Legacy. It is about a missing boy, the family who loves him and the man who abducted him.


What else have you written?

I started in the broadcasting business where I wrote and produced daily newscasts. I have written numerous stage plays, screenplays and short stories.

What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?  

The part I enjoy most about writing a novel is the challenge of facing the blank page, and being pleasantly surprised by what my imagination manages to create from mere whimsy. The part I like least is editing the work. It is tedious, meticulous and exhausting work. I admire those souls who have a gift for it like my editor Adam Bodendieck, who did an incredible job with The Dead Boy’s Legacy.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

I like to edit as I write. I usually edit a chapter immediately after writing it. I will go back through and look at it from every possible angle to ensure that it was written properly from a story and grammatical standpoint. That way there is less work (I’m hoping) for me, and subsequently the editor, when the work/book is finished.

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

It’s not important, or essential, for me to know the ending of a story that I’m telling before I begin writing, but I like to have a vague idea, or notion, about what the ending might be. That being said, I think that not knowing all of the details of the ending provides for more magic, or happy accidents, to happen on the page when you reach the ending. Now, when it comes to the title, I like to know what it is before I begin writing. I usually figure that out in the conception stage.

Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?

I firmly believe that I was born to write. I think that it is an extension of my artistic side. I started out as an art major in college. But, I first discovered that I possessed a gift for storytelling in high school when I wrote short stories for class, and that was further validated when I worked in the broadcasting business. It has always been my passion, whether or not I knew it at a young age.

Are you an early bird writer or night owl? And do you have any must haves like coffee, chocolates, wine, music or something else?

I write whenever I feel compelled to sit down and do so. This can be in the morning, or very late at night. I have often awakened in the middle of the night and sprinted to my computer to get something down on the page. And I don’t need anything when I write. In fact, I often forget to eat, drink, or do anything else when I am writing. My imagination is the only thing that I require. 🙂

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?

Unfortunately, I think that the saying, “You can’t judge a books by its cover,” does not apply to marketing a book. I believe that a good, eye-catchy cover design is essential to capturing a reader’s attention when they’re perusing the bookshelves both in the store and online.

How would you define your style of writing?

One word: Truthful.

If you were to advertise your book on a bumper sticker, what would it say?

The Killer, The Killed – That was the headline in the Sunday edition of The Herald News about my book. I thought it was pretty smart.

If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?

That I could sing. I’ve always admired people who could do that.

What was your favorite year of school? Why?

My favorite year of school was senior year of high school. Everything seemed fun and life ahead seemed to hold limitless possibilities.

What’s your favorite film of all times? Favorite book?

My favorite movie is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Newman and Redford were amazing in a classic western story written by William Goldman. My favorite book is probably Lord of the Flies by William Golding. I read it when I was young in school and it had a profound impact upon me.

What are three things you think we can all do to make the world a better place?

Give back with a generous heart. Be an agent-for-change. And, be the best that we can be on a daily basis to make the world a better place.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I think that you might be surprised to know that I have a silly, funny side. Just because I write primarily about serious subject matter doesn’t mean that I can’t have a good laugh every now and then. 😉

Thank you, Lisette, for hosting me on your blog! (My extreme pleasure, Cash!)




Facebook Author Page

Amazon Book Page

Barnes and Noble Book Page





AnnSwannAnn lives in West Texas with her handsome hubby and three rescue pets.  All For Love is Ann’s first Contemporary Romance novel.  She is the author of the Middle Grade/Young Adult books: The Phantom Pilot, and The Phantom Student.  She is hard at work on Book Three, The Phantom of Crybaby Bridge. Though published by a small press, The Phantom Series is currently available only through the author.

Time to chat with Ann!

What is your latest book?

My latest is a contemporary romance/family drama called All For Love. It’s the story of a woman who will do anything for the man of her dreams. Even after she discovers that he just may be the worst thing that ever happened to her. It was published by 5 Prince Publishing.


What else have you written?

I’ve also written The Phantom Pilot, and The Phantom Student. These two books are part of a series for Middle Grade/Young Adult readers. I recently reacquired the rights from the company who first published them. Now, I am trying to decide whether to go with another small press, or simply publish them myself. At this time, they are available only through me. I’m almost finished with the third book in the series, The Phantom of Crybaby Bridge. When it is finished, I will have to decide how I want them to be republished.

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

My characters do surprise me sometimes. I love it when that happens!

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

Yes! I have to know the ending or I get completely bogged down. I think I just have to have that goal to work toward. Titles are actually the fun part.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

I write as much in the rough draft as I can, but when I start anew each day, I usually go back and edit some things just to get my brain back on track. It sort of jump-starts my thinking.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Pay attention to your point-of-view from the very beginning. I have a lovely novel in my “ugh” file that needs to be completely rewritten because I thought I could do 3rd person omniscient. Come to find out, I can’t. In my version, it simply devolved into whiplash-inducing head-hopping.

Can you tell us about your road to publication?

I’ve always loved making up characters. I took a fiction elective in high school, and I was hooked. In college, I won a few short-story contests and that gave me the confidence to enter other contests. Locally, I won quite a few (plus one in The Alfred Hitchcock Magazine).  Then I met an editor through my writer’s group, and she steered me toward small press publishing.

What do you like best about the books you read? What do you like least?

All I will say is that life is too short to read bad fiction. If it doesn’t grab me within the first few pages, I put it down and move on.

Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?

I do allow my critique group to read it, especially things I’m not sure about. They give awesome feedback.

Do you write anything besides novels? Care to share?

I write short stories and dabble in poetry (doesn’t everyone?). You can read a couple of each on my blog. I also tried my hand at self-pubbing a short story, Chems. It’s the tale of a chemically altered soldier who was given some of the characteristics of a zombie. I love that story, but I think it needs a better cover. I also don’t promote it like I should. It was sort of an experiment on my part.

Do you dread writing a synopsis for your novel as much as most writers do? Do you think writing a synopsis is inherently evil? Why?

I used to dread it. Then someone told me about this One-Sentence Pitch that made it so much easier. Once you fill in these blanks, then you can write the synopsis.

My novel is about ________ who must ________ in order to___


Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

I live in West Texas alongside coyotes, rattlesnakes, and scorpions.

If I could afford to live anywhere in the world, I would choose a beach house on a bluff somewhere in the good old USA. In fact, I love Texas, but I wouldn’t mind a vacation home for eight or ten months a year.

What’s the coolest surprise you’ve ever had?

My husband surprised me on my birthday once by renting our entire community pool for the party—we lived in a small town at the time—and inviting everyone we knew. And somehow, he kept it all a secret!

What are the most important traits you look for in a friend?

Acceptance and an open pocketbook. Er, I meant to say an open mind!

Care to brag about your family?

Yes I would! My dear hubby is very supportive—he is my backbone. And my lovely daughter is also an author. She writes under the name Sara Barnard. You can find her work on the 5 Prince website, too.

If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?

I would love to have the gift of gab. I am terrible at socializing.

What makes you angry?

Abuse of innocents—human or animal.


(Buy Links)

5 Prince Publishing


Barnes and Noble



(Public Contact Links)



Facebook Author Page


Amazon Author Page



Email Ann at:



Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning. She is a native of Colorado.

Time to chat with Pat!

What is your latest book?

After my life mate/soul mate died, the only way I could handle my overwhelming grief was to pour it out onto pages of a journal, letters to him, and blog posts. When I discovered how much those blog posts meant to people who had also suffered grievous losses, I compiled my writings into a book about my first year of grief called Grief: The Great Yearning, which has recently been published by Second Wind Publishing. One reviewer said, “This is an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”

Is your recent book part of a series?

I hadn’t planned to write a series on grief, though to be honest, I hadn’t planned to write a book about grief at all.  Still, I’ve been continuing to write about grief on my blog, chronicling the steps to acceptance and perhaps renewal, and a compilation of those posts would make a good sequel to Grief: The Great Yearning.

If you were to advertise your book on a bumper sticker, what would it say?

Simply: Grief the Great Yearning and my website address. The title says everything.

What else have you written?

I’ve written four suspense novels:

More Deaths Than One tells the story of Bob Stark who sees his mother’s obituary in the morning paper, which stuns him because he buried her two decades ago before he left the country to live in Southeast Asia. So how can she be dead again?

A Spark of Heavenly Fire tells the story of how Kate Cummings, an ordinary woman, gathered her courage and strength to survive the horror of an unstoppable bioengineered disease let loose on the state of Colorado.

Daughter Am I is the story of a young woman who inherits a farm from her murdered grandparents — grandparents her father claimed had died before she was born. She becomes obsessed with finding out who they were and why someone wanted them dead.

Light Bringer is the story of a woman who returns to the town where she’d been abandoned as a baby and discovers a secret that is out of this world. Literally.


How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

Never. When a story flows, when everything is motivated, it makes sense that some ideas, emotions and themes and even dialogue show up that aren’t planned. If the characters are true, it has to happen. I am not saying that the characters do things that I don’t plan. Their actions are completely planned. But some underlying truths could emerge that I didn’t purposely put there.

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

Before writing a novel, I need to know the main characters, the beginning of the story, the end of the story, and how I want the characters to develop, but I don’t flesh out the individual scenes until I start writing them. Sometimes I know the title, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes the title changes during the writing, sometimes it doesn’t. For example, Light Bringer was always Light Bringer. More Deaths Than One went through several title changes before I stumbled across this snippet from Oscar Wilde’s “Reading Gaol”: He who lives more lives than one, more deaths than one must die.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

I do edit as I go along, but not excessively. Since I’m not a writer who can sit down and let the words flow out of me, I have to choose every word I put on the paper, each one building on the last. If I take a wrong turning, I have to go back and find that wrong turning so I can continue building, otherwise the whole project stalls. Most of the editing is done after I’m finished, though.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Writing is not always about writing. Some authors can sit down and let the words flow and lo! There is a story! Other authors have to think about what they’re doing. So ask yourself, what story do you want to write? Why? What do your characters want? Why? How are they going to get what they want? Who is going to stop them getting what they want?

Every day brings forth new changes and shifts in the world of publishing. Any predictions about the future?

I don’t know enough about technology to predict changes, but I do know that changes and shifts in technology will be reflected in the world of publishing. For example, people will be reading more on their phones, e-books will eventually become multi-media –- comprising video, social networking, and other elements.

How would you define your style of writing?

Concise, colorful, character-driven.

If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?

My life wouldn’t change much. For all practical purposes, I’m invisible now.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

Someone once gave me a year of the internet. I had no interest in the internet, but it turned out to be the best gift I ever received. It changed my life.

Have you ever played a practical joke on a friend? Ever had one played on you?

I have never played a practical joke on anyone. I despise practical jokes. The closest I ever came was when I told my little sister that a square meal were things like sandwiches made on square bread.

What are the most important traits you look for in a friend?

Loyalty, kindness, intelligence.

What music soothes your soul?

Silence. Nothing soothes my soul like silence.




Book Page at Second Wind



Amazon Author Page







DeanMayesAustralian author Dean Mayes has established himself as a writer of great literary style and dedication since the release of his first novel The Hambledown Dream in 2010. He continues that tradition with his landmark new release Gifts of the Peramangk for Central Avenue Publishing. Dean lives in Adelaide, Australia with his wife Emily and their two children Xavier, 6 and Lucy, 3.

Time to chat with Dean!

What is your latest book?

I’ve recently released my second novel titled Gifts of the Peramangk through Central Avenue Publishing.

Gifts of the Peramangk tells the story of an 8-year-old Aboriginal girl named Ruby who is an undiscovered violin prodigy living on the struggle streets of Adelaide’s suburban fringe here in Australia. Ruby has been taught to play by her frail and elderly grandmother Virginia who, herself displayed a prodigious talent for the instrument as a child but was never able to fully realize that gift because of her circumstance. Virginia was a child of the so called “Stolen Generations” here in Australia. During much of the mid 20th century, Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their families as part of what was known as the White Australia policy. They were put to work, often in appalling conditions, as domestic servants or farm hands and were stripped of their culture and their family links. Virginia was one of those children and the ramifications of her being taken have huge ramifications for her family.


Is your recent book part of a series?

Not really, however one would be encouraged to read my previous release The Hambledown Dream as there are some subtle linkages between both books.

What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?

That they are undisciplined and don’t take the time or the care to produce high quality work. I have met and worked alongside some really talented indie writers who have produced novels that are far and away more polished and offer a much richer reading experience than their big name/big published counterparts. I think that has come about because these independent authors have taken much more care with their work and have crafted it rather than handed it over to a big publishing machine that act to arbitrarily “manufacture” a product for mass consumption.

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

I write on the proviso that my characters be allowed to direct the storytelling to a certain extent. I will draw the basics of a character at the very beginning of the writing process but I won’t lock them in to a particular arc because my stories tend to evolve organically from the basic structure that I begin with. I discover a lot about my characters and I find that really stimulating.

What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?

Funnily enough, I really enjoy the editing process. It’s the part of the journey where stories are really made. I’ve learned not to allow myself to become too invested in story elements during the initial writing phase because I’m always looking for the best ways to serve the story. Research can be a tedious process but I recognize that it is an essential part of the journey. This was especially the case with Gifts of the Peramangk which dealt with historical subject matter that I had to portray faithfully.

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

I always have a basic idea of what the ending to a story will be but I allow myself the flexibility to change the ending. So yes it is important to me but not essential. The title of a story is not as important to me because I tend to discover the title of a work in the process of writing it.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

I’m getting better at writing without editing as I go along but I have been known to edit incessantly as I go along. That habit grew out of my tendency to procrastinate incessantly and I used the micro editing as I went along as a way of avoiding writers block. I have, with subsequent projects, becoming better at planning so I’ve been able to resist the temptation to edit until I have produced a draft.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Be open to change and don’t allow yourself to be locked into a particular story arc. Always look for alternative pathways to reach your destination and don’t be afraid to work with your ideas. You will find that you’ll be less likely to run into problems associated with writers block if you have those alternative ideas available to you.

Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?

Oh man, I have such a love/hate relationship with social media. I mean, I love it because I have met some wonderful people through my platform and it is but I tend to become overwhelmed by all the noise it creates. In the beginning, I felt as though I had to have a presence on every available platform there is and it seriously got insane. I have streamlined quite a bit to a suite of four key platforms, those being my official site of course, my Facebook page, Twitter and Google Plus. Occasionally I’ll make use of my WordPress account but it’s usually just to post a link to whatever I’m showcasing on my official site. My official site is at the core of how I communicate with my readership and my platform serves to promote that. While I regard engagement with my audience as important, I’ve tried to limit my activity on my social network – otherwise I’d never get any work done.

What do you like best about the books you read? What do you like least?

I have a really eclectic and varied taste in the books that I read but in all of them, I really look to the voice of the author and how it engages me. If the voice speaks with enthusiasm about the subject, then I’m usually drawn in. If there is a lack of enthusiasm, I’ll spot it pretty much straight away.

How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?

There was a huge research curve involved in Gifts of the Peramangk because I was setting it against the back drop of one of Australia’s most controversial periods in the 20th century. The White Australia Policy was instituted as a means of addressing the “problem” of half caste Aborigines in Australia over the life of the Policy, many thousands of children were forcibly removed from their families and fostered out to white families or were put to work as domestic servants or farm hands, doing menial jobs for little to no pay. They were prohibited from returning to or having contact with their families. The resultant Stolen Generations was the result of this policy – Aboriginal Australians who had their identity and culture stripped away from them. It lead to massive social problems which still resonate today. In order to portray the effects of the White Australia Policy on one particular family with a sensitivity and accuracy, I devoted nearly a year to reviewing literature, examining case studies, talking to individuals who were directly affected by the Policy.

Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?

During the writing of Gifts of the Peramangk I did share my work with a couple of people who were able to assist me with the technical aspects of my writing as well as the accuracy of my portrayal of Aboriginal Australians. I was happy to do so and I think it really benefited the story.

Do you write anything besides novels? Care to share?

I have posted a number of short pieces at my official site which are examples of my trying out different writing styles. I’m really proud of them and one or two of them have the potential to be expanded on in the future if I want.

Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?

I realized I had a love of writing from an early age but I guess you could consider me somewhat of a late bloomer as a serious author. For me it was a case of my life getting in the way – school, university, work, family commitments and so forth. And these aren’t bad things of course (laughs) but they certainly gave me little time to devote to writing. Also, I don’t think I was really in the right head space to write until my mid 30’s. I had a couple of failed attempts at it before then but for whatever reason, I couldn’t make the stories work. When the idea for (my first novel) The Hambledown Dream germinated, it seemed to be the right fit at the right time.


Do you feel your latest book is your personal favorite or one of your previous novels?

I’m very proud of both Gifts of the Peramangk and The Hambledown Dream and they each have qualities that I’m drawn to for different reasons. I think Gifts of the Peramangk is a more accomplished work mainly due to the research effort I undertook for it and I edited it more heavily than The Hambledown Dream. Hambledown is a more personal work and it represents facets of myself. I really explored both the dark and light sides of myself to craft the dual protagonists in Hambledown and so, for that reason I tend to look upon that novel in a more personal way.

Having our work out there to be judged by strangers is often daunting for writers. Do you have any tips on handling a negative review?

I have come to view negative reviews with the maxim “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” in mind. I try to respond to every review that is left for both my novels and I always thank the reviewer for taking the time to read my work. I look for constructive criticism of my work and I do take on board what each reviewer has said in that sense. Where there hasn’t been any constructive criticism, I like to encourage the reviewer to elaborate on their comments. Most of the time however, such reviewers don’t hang around so I don’t dwell on them for too long.

Many authors do giveaways; have you found them a successful way to promote your book?

It is a good way to interact with readers but I personally, haven’t seen a huge knock on effect in terms of promotion.

Have you been involved with the Kindle Direct Program? If yes, do you believe it’s worthwhile?

As far as I’m concerned, the less said about Kindle Direct the better.

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design

I do place quite a bit of stock on cover design because I have an artistic streak in me that just won’t let me go. The way I see it is a book as a whole is a piece of art and the cover itself is very much an artistic component that will help sell the overall piece. So it has got to be eye catching and attractive. I’ve seen many a good book fade into obscurity because of a poorly designed cover.

A lot of authors are frustrated by readers who don’t understand how important reviews are? What would you say to a reader who doesn’t think his or her review matters?

Your review matters. It really, Really matters. We slave away on these writing projects, often with little support and understanding from those immediately around us and it is only when our work is done and we turn it over to the world do we really wait for and covet those reviews. They remain the only true measure of whether it was all worth it or not.

Would you like to write a short poem for us?

I suck at poems.

What makes you angry?

Unshakable belief in the morally indefensible.

What music soothes your soul?

Vince Jones. He is an Australian jazz singer/trumpet player who I regard as a personal hero. I’ve been listening to his music since I was a kid.

Have you ever walked out of a movie? If so, what was it?

The Talented Mr Ripley with Matt Damon. I love Matt Damon but that film was a complete toilet bowl.

What’s your favorite film of all times? Favorite book?

The 1985 drama Witness starring Harrison Ford is probably my most favorite film of all time. The True History Of The Elephant Man by Michael Powell and Peter Ford is my most favorite book.


Official Author Site

Facebook Author Page



Amazon Author Page