CHAT WITH RACHEL HANNA

woman close-up in orange sweater

What is your latest book?

My latest book is called Unbreakable. This is a new adult romance featuring a heroine named Sophie Morgan. After having a tumultuous time in her teenage years, her parents decide to send her off to stay on a farm with her aunt and uncle in another state. That’s where she meets our hero, Miller Rhodes. And, of course, sparks fly!

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What else have you written?

A lot of the books I’ve written up until now have been in the contemporary romance genre. Recently, I’ve also started to write in the new adult romance genre because I find it interesting to take characters from youth until they become adults. Often, these books are filled with more emotion and angst than a typical contemporary romance. For me, that’s fun to write. But it’s also fun for the reader because they get to go on a journey with the characters.

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

I think the greatest misconception about indie authors is that we are inexperienced. Personally, I have a degree in journalism and a long history of working in that field, so writing is nothing new for me. However, a lot of people think that indie authors are somehow lesser than a traditionally published author, but that is simply not true. There are creative people in all walks of life, and some people just haven’t had the chance to get traditionally published.

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

The part of writing that I like the least would be just the beginning sections of the book where all of the introduction has to be done. I love to write the action parts of the book, so it’s hard for me to go through the early process of letting the readers get to know the characters before jumping into the action.

The part of writing that I like the most is creating characters and situations out of thin air. I especially enjoy writing dialogue as I think it lets readers really get to know and identify with the characters.

Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

I write all of my scenes in order. It’s just easier for me to do it that way. If I try to jump ahead and write scenes out of order, I risk losing some of the continuity of the story or missing out on important facts that I’ve included elsewhere. Also, if I write the action first, it becomes even more difficult for me to go back and write the less exciting scenes.

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

When I start writing, I have at least some idea of how the book will end. However, I am more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants writer. Plotting and outlining is something I’ve tried, but it seems to stifle the creative process for me. However, before I start a book, I know who my characters are, at least somewhat, and I know what the overall idea for the story is. The title usually comes to me about halfway through the book.

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 don’t do a lot of heavy editing or revisions of my work, so the final draft is very much like the original draft. However, I do edit for spelling and grammar, and I do that as I go along. So I write for a period of time and then go back and edit that work before I start my next section of writing. I also run my book through a professional editor for spelling and grammar checks before it’s published.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

My advice for first-time authors is to just keep writing. You will improve your writing skills the more you write. You have to keep your butt in the chair and consistently put words on the screen in order to be successful in this business. If you allow people to knock you down or make you feel like you aren’t a good writer, you’ll quit too soon. Take the criticism constructively and use it to better your writing.

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

My favorite thing about social media is that I get to interact personally with my readers. I spend a lot of time on Facebook and Twitter chatting with my readers, doing polls and doing giveaways of Amazon gift cards and other things. I’ve gotten to know a lot of my readers personally, and I know that they are a loyal fan base. I really don’t have a least favorite part of dealing with social media as I think it’s one of the most fun parts of being authors in this day and age.

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?

Cover design is probably the second most important part of publishing a book. In fact, it might be the most important because no one is going to read your content if your cover doesn’t look good. I place a lot of importance on covers, and I hire mine out to a designer for that very reason. When I used to try to design my own covers, it was very obvious that they were homemade even though I used expensive software to do them. I think that most people should hire out for professional covers instead of creating their own even if they know how to.

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

I live in Atlanta, Georgia, and I was raised here. While I love the South and a lot of my books are set here, I would love to live closer to the beach. Maybe one day I’ll be able to do that! My big dream is to get a motorhome and be able to travel all around the United States anywhere I want to go at any time.

Care to brag about your family?

I have an amazing family. I’ve been married for almost 16 years to my husband, together for 18 years. We have three children ages 13, 12 and 10. They are turning into super people and are involved in lots of different activities including martial arts, music and ballet.

What music soothes your soul?

I love all kinds of different music, but I’m especially fond of piano music, blues and some jazz music. I listen to all kinds of music with the exception of very hard rock and alternative music, but when I write I like to listen to things that don’t have words so that I don’t get distracted.

What was the most valuable class you ever took in school? Why?

Being that I’m a writer, I would have to say that English class was the most valuable class I ever took in school. It was also the class that I always had the best grades in!

If you are a TV watcher, would you share the names of your favorite shows with us?

I do watch TV, and I get lots of ideas for my books from doing so. Some of my favorite TV shows… I really like reality shows like Survivor, Big Brother, The Voice and others. I’ve also been watching Days Of Our Lives since I was in the eighth grade, and we know soap operas can give you some great plot points for books!

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

Being from the South, it’s probably no surprise that my favorite film and book are Gone With The Wind. I’ve always loved that movie and have seen it dozens of times since they shared it to us in our classroom in the eighth grade.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

My biggest pet peeve is when people are late. I’m always early or right on time, and I can’t stand it when people are late. I feel that it shows a lack of respect.

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

The first thing is to dream big. I think that a lot of people put themselves in a box and don’t dream big enough to make real changes in the world. The second thing is to be kind to other people even if you don’t understand who they are. A lot of times we are unkind to people simply because they’re different from us. The third thing is to step out of your own problems and help other people. When you do that, your problems will seem small in comparison and you will be focused on helping them rather than what’s going wrong in your own life.

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CHAT WITH DARCIA HELLE

DarciaHelle

Darcia Helle writes because the characters trespassing through her mind leave her no alternative.  Only then are the voices free to haunt someone else’s mind.

Time to chat with Darcia!

What is your latest book?

On June 1st of this year, I published Killing Instinct: A Michael Sykora Novel. This is the third book in the series. No Justice is book #1 and Beyond Salvation is book #2.

I love to explore the darker side of life, and Killing Instinct is one of my darkest. The plot involves obsession, revenge, a bit of madness, and a love story, though not in the traditional romantic sense.

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What else have you written?

I have 10 published books, including the three in my Michael Sykora Series. My other titles are:

Enemies and Playmates

Hit List

Miami Snow

The Cutting Edge

Into The Light

Quiet Fury: An Anthology of Suspense

Secrets

All of my writing falls somewhere within the suspense genre. Enemies and Playmates is my first and leans heavily into romantic suspense. Hit List is more psychological suspense. The Cutting Edge is dark humor suspense, if that’s even a genre. It’s also the only book I’ve written in first person. Into The Light is my only book (so far) with a paranormal aspect.

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

I love writing the first few scenes. This is the period when I’m discovering the characters and their stories.

I get very cranky when I reach the final edit, before sending the book off to my editor. By then, I’ve lived and breathed the story to excess. I’m tired of my own words, tired of the routine and drudgery.

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 usually fall somewhere between these two parameters. A normal routine for me is, when I sit down to write, I first reread the scenes I wrote during my previous session. This helps me get into the mindset of the characters and the mood of the story. In the process, I do some minor editing. Occasionally, I find myself completely rewriting scenes or even tossing them out. Typically, though, I finish writing the entire book before doing any major edits.

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

A lot of my research is done before I even know what I need or why. I read a lot of nonfiction books on sociology; studies in human behavior, how the mind works, true crime, etc. I also read a lot of random articles, such as research studies on criminal recidivism, the effects of isolation in prison, and assorted, obscure tidbits of information. When I come across something of particular interest, I file it away for reference.

Both of these factors came into play with Killing Instinct. I’d read an article on the Internet underground and knew immediately that Michael Sykora, my main character in this series, had to explore this vast part of cyberspace unknown to most of us. During the writing process, I was also reading an early review copy of The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime by Adrian Raine. A big part of this book’s content involves looking at and understanding the fMRIs (functional magnetic resonance imaging) of sociopaths. This helped me give a realistic feel to the protagonist’s character, and also sparked the idea for something that happens to shape the man he becomes.

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

I was definitely born to write. I’m pretty sure I’d require a padded cell if I was forced to stop.

I wrote my first story in kindergarten. Over summer breaks from school, I’d create word search puzzles, each with a specific theme. I loved doing phonics workbooks, and was probably the only 10 year old in my town who got excited about conjugating verbs. During my teen years, I wrote a lot of dark poetry. Even back then, I preferred the dark side.

When I wasn’t writing, I was creating stories in my mind. I’d lie awake half the night with a story playing out. When those stories became so invasive that I could no longer sleep, I sat down and wrote a scene. Then I wrote another. Soon I had my first novel

Writing is not something I decided to do one day; it’s an inherent part of who I am.

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 despise mornings. My brain cells don’t talk to each other before 9 a.m., and even then they’re not happy about being called upon. Creativity is impossible before noon.

When my sons were young, I did all my writing late at night. Sometimes I’d be up until four in the morning writing, despite having to be up at 6:30 to get the kids off to school and myself off to work. Now that my sons are grown and I no longer have a day job, I do most of my writing in the afternoon when the house is quiet. Once my husband gets home from work, there is noise and various distractions. I don’t do well with noise and distractions when I’m trying to write. My dream home will have a soundproof room.

My must have is silence. White noise doesn’t bother me. The dogs can bark, providing they aren’t barking at someone pounding on my door. But, to write, I need to immerse myself in the characters and their story. Voices take me out of the moment, whether they belong to a person in the house with me or are coming from the TV. (Or my loud neighbors.) And, as much as I love music, it’s far too distracting. I find myself singing the lyrics. Even music without lyrics seeps into my being and alters my mood.

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?

Cover design can be crucial, since it’s often the first thing a person sees. The cover design reflects the genre, the content, and, more importantly, either entices readers or gives them a subliminal cue to move along.

I’ve personally passed on countless books based solely on the cover. For instance, I don’t like Harlequin romances. No offense intended to the authors or the readers; I simply don’t like formulaic romance novels. Certain covers give me the immediate impression of this sort of novel, and I won’t even stop to read the description. Other times, I see an obviously amateur cover, sometimes almost cartoonish, and again I won’t bother to look further. I could be missing out on many books I’d enjoy, but the cover design acts like a flashing caution sign telling me to avoid the story ahead.

We can never know what appeals to any one person. The best I can hope for is that my covers manage to reflect the story within and capture the attention of the majority of readers looking for the kind of books I write.

Do you have complete control over your characters or do they ever control you?

This question made me laugh. I have absolutely no control over my characters. They are in full control from the time they pop into my head, which tends to happen spontaneously and sometimes at inopportune moments.

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

My favorite comfort food is ice cream. In fact, I’m a bit of an ice cream snob. I prefer organic, such as Stoneyfield Farms. Cold Stone Creamery is absolutely addictive. I like Ben & Jerry’s, partly because they don’t use hormones on their cows and also because it’s creamy and tastes really good. I’m not a big fan of the typical grocery store brands, such as Breyers. The flavor is a little generic and it’s not creamy enough. The one oddity in my ice cream snobbery is that I could probably overdose on Dairy Queen.

My least favorite food is, without a doubt, peanut butter. The smell alone makes my stomach quiver.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I love to write from the POV of a deranged killer, but I’m a total, unapologetic peacenik.

What makes you angry?

I’d need to write an entire book to answer this question. On second thought, I’d probably need to write a series of books!

Some things that anger me: lack of respect, animal abuse, child abuse, narrow-mindedness, insurance companies, greed, and the hackers who hijacked my website for use in a bank scam.

What music soothes your soul?

Almost all music soothes me. I have an eclectic, obsessive, out-of-control collection. Certain styles of music work better to soothe me, depending on the situation and my mood. Overall, there is nothing like a blues guitar to make my spirit vibrate. A few chords is all it takes for the music to creep under my skin and touch me to the core.

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

My dogs make me smile, even on my worst days.

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CHAT WITH PETER POLLOCK

PeterPollock

Peter Pollock is an author, blogger, stay-at-home dad, web hosting trainer and geek (and proud of it!) His most recently published book, Web Hosting For Dummies, is proving to be a hit with readers as well as people within the hosting industry as they are recommending it to their clients.

Time to chat with Peter!

PeterP_Dummies

How did you come to write your new book, Web Hosting For Dummies?

I’d have to say it was hard work, trial, and error and not a small amount of serendipity! I get asked this question a lot and the honest answer is, I really don’t know. One thing led to another and all of a sudden I had a book contract in my hand.

The most important thing I did though was going to conferences and, despite my shyness and the fact I’m an introvert, I made friends and talked to as many people as I could.

It was those connections that put me in the position where everything could come together for me.

What was your inspiration for writing the book?

To the average person, web hosting can seem too technical of a concept to understand. As I try to demonstrate in my book though, most of the functions and facilities provided in a hosting account are actually very easy to master, if you have the right teacher.

My belief in pretty much everyone’s ability to get more out of their hosting than they currently do led me to write the book and also start planning a series of workshops around the country to teach people, in a hands on environment, what they need to know, but have been too afraid to try. For more information, go to WebHostingWorkshops.com.

How can your book help people with hosted blogs?

My main aim in everything I do is to help others. I believe that we can all do so much more than believe with our websites if we could gain just a little more knowledge – simple knowledge at that.

There are many facilities which come with web hosting that people don’t know about but which are actually really simple and can assist any and all website owners seem more professional and make their sites more secure and protected.

In Web Hosting For Dummies, I try to lay those things out in simple terms using analogies anyone can understand to help people get the most out of their hosting accounts.

Why are you such a fan of WordPress?

WordPress helps level the playing field between those who can afford professional developers and those who can’t. Obviously, there will always be a market for expert professionals but WordPress enables anyone to make a professional site on his or her own.

What were the easiest and hardest parts of writing this book?

The easiest part by far, was procrastinating – but the publisher tends not to like it when I do that, I can’t imagine why! The hardest part was ensuring that I made the book simple enough for anyone to understand and follow yet detailed and deep enough to teach valuable skills. Finding the right balance was very tricky!

Is your recent book part of a series?

WHFD is part of the fantastic For Dummies series of books, which now extends to over 1600 titles. I feel incredibly blessed and honored to have been able to write for this series.

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

Okay, you got me there. I did actually make Web Hosting For Dummies bumper stickers, which just have the Web Hosting For Dummies logo on them. Now you ask that though, I am going to have to come up with something clever for the next batch. Maybe something like, “I’m no dummy now that I have read Web Hosting For Dummies.”

What else have you written?

Earlier this year I self-published a children’s fiction book, called A Very Different School, which is the first in a series called The Fantastic Fieldtrips series (yes, I am on a campaign to make fieldtrip an acceptable compound word!). The second book in the series is planned for later in the year, to come out in time for Christmas.

What part of writing a non-fiction do you enjoy the most? The least?

The best thing about writing non-fiction is that you get to do something that you know will benefit people in the future. Conversely though, the hardest part is the weight of knowing that people will rely on you to get everything right and knowing that if you make mistakes, you will be panned for it in reviews. With fiction you can’t be “wrong,” with non-fiction, you can be very, very wrong indeed!

Some authors, like me, always write books in order. But I know some people write them out of order. How about you?

I wrote this book mostly chronologically simply because it’s easier to keep track of which chapters have been done that way. I have to admit though, that some of the chapters were more difficult to write than others and at times I skipped the hard ones to write the easy ones.

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

Being active in social media is essential these days. However, making your voice heard in the crowd can be difficult. I use Facebook and Twitter more than the other platforms, but that’s just my own personal preference. Just remember that every update you write affects how potential readers see you and how they judge your writing abilities, so even the shortest of updates can influence whether or not someone decides it read your book.

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?

People are highly influenced by not only what reviews say, but by the volume of reviews left on each book. Even a very short review tells another potential reader that the book was either good enough or bad enough to warrant sixty seconds of your time to rate it online. So please take a moment to leave a review of any book you read on sites like Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Goodreads.

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

We currently live in the armpit of America, aka the Central Valley (California). It is hot and it smells! If I could move anywhere, I think maybe somewhere around Denver, Colorado would be my preference, because it is hot in the summer and nicely cold in the winter.

Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats?

Planes, definitely planes, I love flying. Or maybe automobiles – I love fast cars! … I’m a guy!

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

Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream is my favorite comfort food!!!! (although I generally just eat the brownies and throw most of the ice cream away.

My least favorite food is…. umm…. I can’t think right now, all I can think about is a tub of Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie. Thanks, Lisette, now I have to go shopping!

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

I would love to be able to draw/paint. In fact I would love to have enough fine motor control to even write neatly. My handwriting is terrible!

What music soothes your soul?

“Oh, give me the beat, boys, to soothe my soul I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away…”

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

Buy my book

Read my book

Tell others about how awesome my book is!

… At least, that will make the world a better place for me… and one person out of 6 billion isn’t bad, right?

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28 FANTASTIC AUTHORS YOU SHOULD MEET

 

 

Hello, Friends:

Thanks for visiting my writers’ chateau. Every Monday, I chat with a new author and have been very lucky to have so many talented wordsmiths visit my humble abode.

My staff, especially Henrietta (“Cook”) and Claude (my esteemed butler), work very hard to ensure that all guests get star treatment and that everything runs smoothly.

But…I have just learned that Henrietta and Claude have eloped (it was bound to happen!) and will be returning from a three-week honeymoon on July 7th. (Oh, dear…I should have paid more attention to the rumors going around.)

In the meantime, while Henrietta and Claude luxuriate in Luxembourg, dance their last tango in Paris, and waltz in Vienna, please check out my wonderful past guests whose interviews you may have missed the first time around.

And join me in wishing Henrietta and Claude a very happy marriage.

Eloped

FROM THE ARCHIVES

29 FANTASTIC AUTHORS YOU SHOULD MEET!

Shykia Bell

Maria Savva

Joel Blaine Kirkpatrick

C.A. Kunz

Dan McNeill

Eden Baylee

Tiffany King

Dean Mayes

Peter Carroll

Pat Bertram

Ann Swann

Cassius Shuman

Lorna Suzuki

Mike Roche

Molly Ringle

Brenda Sorrels

Dionne Lister

W.M. Driscoll

Dorothy Dreyer

Raine Thomas

Stacy Juba

Christa Polkinhorn

Deb Nam-Krane

Simon Hay

Julia Munroe Martin

Amy Sue Nathan

Uvi Poznansky

RJ McDonnell

Delia Colvin

Check back on July 7, 2013 when the Monday author interviews will resume.

CHAT WITH DELIA COLVIN

 Delia

Delia Colvin is the bestselling author of The Sibylline Trilogy: The Sibylline Oracle, The Symbolon and soon to be released The Last Oracle. She resides in Prescott, AZ with her husband and two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

What is your latest book?

The Last Oracle – Book Three of The Sibylline Trilogy is scheduled to be released in July 2013.

The trilogy is about Alex Morgan, an immortal oracle, whose visions guide him in his attempts to save his mortal beloved.

Those that are interested in Greek mythology will be pleased to know that Book Three delves far more into the Greek underworld while maintaining an anchor in present day Italy.

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Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Treat book writing as a business. Successful authors spend the majority of their time writing and a smaller percentage of time managing and marketing.

Also outsource to professionals for a professional product. Hire pros with a great reputation for editing and cover design. Other recommended outsourcing: formatting, web-design, SEO (search engine optimizer) management.

In your spare time read every author blog, like Lisette’s (this blog has the advantage that she is a successful author and interviews other authors).

Lastly find a trustworthy mentoring/educational site like Fostering Success.

Can you tell us about your road to publication?

I finished Book One of my trilogy and set out to have it published in the traditional manner. My husband was upset to think that the publisher and the agent would take such a huge cut.

A few weeks out my husband came home with some information about indie publishing on Kindle. I was completely against it and believed that only non-fiction worked in self-publishing.

Then one of the top five publishers went out of business and that caused me to take a fresh look at the new world of publishing. I found that independent publishing was going the same route as independent film-makers in terms of acceptance and respect.

In fact, I was stunned to discover that several indie-published novels were New York Times bestsellers.

About that time I received an offer from a “top ten” publisher. I was so tied up with writing and editing that I didn’t have a chance to respond right away. A few days later I received another offer from a very small publishing house. My husband and I decided to sit down and compare offers on a spreadsheet when we could find the time.

A few weeks later the “top ten” publisher contacted me again, this time by phone.

Evidently one of their staff had read my entire manuscript and they more than tripled the original offer—as well as offering me advances on the other two books of the trilogy. I had a VERY difficult time turning that one down. But for some reason I never took it to the next step.

In the end I decided that I wanted to maintain control of my books and the majority of the time I’m very pleased with that decision.  It’s been a lot of work but it’s also been very rewarding.

In December with the highest level of competition on the market both Book One and Two of my trilogy hit Amazon’s bestsellers lists and have been on those lists almost every month since.

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

I like books that draw a full range of emotions out of me and leave me hopeful or joyful. Reading is such a pleasure because I can totally get lost in another world and often in the delicious language of the writer.

The thing I like least is that I have so little time to read!

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

All of this has been pretty surprising to me.  Not long after Book One was out it was voted Goodreads Best Book of June and nominated Best Love Story. That was pretty thrilling!

Then, less than a week after the book was released I was walking my dogs on a path I frequented.  As I rounded a corner a woman was standing there with a notepad and pen and asked, “Are you Delia Colvin?”

I nodded, wondering how she recognized me, as I was incognito with my baseball cap and sunglasses. Then I realized that my pups are fairly well-known in the area.

She said, “Well, I’ve been waiting for you here every day to get your autograph.”

Now I was absolutely certain that my husband or stepson had set her up to do this.  I couldn’t grasp the idea that in less than a week someone that I didn’t know had read my book and wanted my autograph.

The woman continued, “Me and the ladies down at the FBI are all enjoying The Sibylline Oracle.”

I’m not certain but I think my jaw rebounded off the path at that point. Then she added, “Of course, I usually like more sex in my books but it is a great book just the same!”

I didn’t know what to sign on her pad. My hands were shaking with excitement when I scribbled something illegibly and then tried to walk, rather than skip, all the way home.

My stepson said, “Yay! You got your first stalker!”

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

Yes to both. Before I could write I was creating stories in my head. That is how I have entertained myself nearly all my life. Later I wrote them but never had the nerve to share them.

A few years ago I nearly died from massive blood clots to the lungs. I realized that I hadn’t been following my passion in life which was writing novels. I decided that was going to change.

I had always kept a list of stories in-progress that I would work on someday. But one day, not long after the blood clot, a new story popped into my head nearly complete.

It was a present time story about an immortal from Ancient Greece who had been trying for 3000 years to save his mortal beloved.  I had never been interested in writing Fantasy or Paranormal novels and I had never been interested in Greek mythology.

My days were filled and there was no time to write. Still, I was so compelled that I pulled out my iPhone and started typing away on the notepad while I was walking to work. Three weeks later I had the first draft of my first completed novel. Then I realized it was a trilogy and six weeks after that I had the drafts for the next two novels. That was January 2012.

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

The Sibylline Oracle, Book One and The Last Oracle, Book Three (to a lesser degree) required a tremendous amount of research in Greek mythology. While it was fascinating research I spent a lot of my time double-checking facts.

Writing The Symbolon (which is the original word for soul mates) was just a lovely experience because while there was a lot of mythology in it, most of the ground work had been laid in Book One. The Symbolon is about the pure affinity that these main characters share and the price they are willing to pay for the other’s survival. It was a lot of fun to write although it required about a case of facial tissue.

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?

Authors know that when we run discounts on our books that a small percentage of 1-2 star reviews will show up. Further, almost all of those low reviews will clearly state that the reviewer has never read the book.

I read all of my reviews and if there is a valid complaint on marketing or content I correct it, if not I move on and write. I never engage review bullies. I discovered early on that anything you say, even in kindness, may be taken out of context and used against you in the public eye.

What’s your favorite comfort food?

Does coffee count?  Hazlenut coffee with half and half and a hint of cinnamon.

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

Without a doubt the very best gift I’ve ever received was when my husband, Randy read the first chapters of my first novel and said, “Forget Air Traffic Control, you were born to write!”

Since then I’ve been a full-time novelist and it has been a most extraordinary life!

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I was completely ambidextrous when I was young. To teach us right from left the teacher told us, “You write with your right hand.”

So I would write out the word with both hands to try to determine which looked better. When they both looked about the same I decided that I must not be very smart and I zoned out of school.

Still to this day I do some things with my right hand and some things with my left.

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

Be kind and accepting of others.

Encourage others.

Eat more vegetables. That leads to better health, which leads to greater happiness, which     leads to more kindness and leads to increased ability to study, which leads to increased knowledge and intelligence which leads to more understanding.

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Email: DeliaJColvin@gmail.com

CHAT WITH RJ McDONNELL

RJMcDonnell

RJ McDonnell is the author of the Rock & Roll Mystery Series. He worked full-time as a non-fiction writer for 17 years, spent two years writing scripts for a comedy television series, two years as a Careers columnist, and the past six years as a novelist while continuing to write non-fiction.

Time to chat with RJ!

What is your latest book?

My latest novel is The Classic Rockers Reunion with Death. It’s the 4th novel in my series, and may be read as a stand-alone. My protagonist, Jason Duffy, worked his way through high school, college, and grad school as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for a club band in San Diego. After working in the counseling field for two years, Jason completed an internship with a private investigator and opened an agency in La Jolla, CA. He’s the son of a retired SDPD detective with whom he’s had a very strained relationship since purchasing his first electric guitar at the age of 14. Since Jason entered the family business, their relationship has improved, but that progress has been a two steps forward, one step back type of progress.

In the new novel, Jason travels to Northeastern Pennsylvania in mid-winter to help his 59-year-old uncle, whose best friend was murdered just as they were about to play a reunion concert for their 60’s rock band. Jason agrees to fill in on rhythm guitar while conducting his investigation since the clues all relate to the reunion show.

Jason’s father has been estranged from his hippie, rockstar brother since the Vietnam War. Jason is forced to arbitrate their feud while dealing with his depressed, pot-smoking uncle. He also deals with being in the crosshairs of the killer in this hardboiled mystery.

RJClassicRockers

Do you write anything besides novels? Care to share?

I am the sole proprietor of Affordable Quality Resumes (aka, www.affordablequalityresumes.com). I was formerly the Regional Director of the largest resume writing service in the United States, and co-author of a manual used to train professional resume writers at over 500 offices across the country. Experts fielding questions on Monster.com and Career Ladders continue to quote my contributions to the manual on a fairly regular basis.

In addition to writing resumes, I continue to write about issues relating to the job search process that have a significant impact on job seekers. Last week I posted a blog about how more than half of all resumes are screened out at the computer level through Applicant Tracking Systems. In it, I drill down into specifics on how it works, why the average job seeker is behind the curve on important screening technology, and how to make the new innovations work to their advantage. Here’s a link to the article if you’re interested: http://www.affordablequalityresumes.com/?p=178

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

I was definitely born to write. I could be the poster-boy for right brain/left brain asymmetry. When I reached high school, I was allowed to skip 9th grade English while being treated to an encore performance of Algebra I.

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

[What life experience helped you the most in creating your novels’ characters?]

I tend to spend a great deal of time getting to know my resume clients. Having written over 5000 resumes in my career, I have a very good feel for the range of motivations that lead people to significant career choices. In addition, I have a firm grasp of the day-to-day responsibilities of most professions. When one of my clients comes home from a long day at the office (or assembly line) I know exactly what he’s been dealing with and why he is in his current state of mind. I also have a good feel for how perspectives change over time in many fields. I use this information to bring a genuine quality to my characters.

For example, Jason has developed a strong working relationship with a 55-year-old homicide detective on SDPD. He also frequently deals with an ambitious younger detective who is focused on climbing the ladder via political connections, and who serves as an antagonist. Once it became known in San Diego that I was the son of a police detective, I received numerous referrals from cops trying to help coworkers advance to the next level. Invariably, the higher the position that the cop was seeking, the more value he placed on communication skills. Conversely, the lower the cop’s rank, the greater the emphasis on physical confrontation. I work those attributes and attitudes into my novels on a regular basis.

Do you have complete control over your characters or do they ever control you?

I try my best to control my characters by developing fairly detailed outlines, but they still tend to surprise me. The creative process is just that – a process. Outlining has become a bigger part of my process with each succeeding book. But I never exclude the notion that an even better idea could be right around the corner.

I took guitar lessons five years ago after a long layoff due to injury. My teacher played in a band with Noel Redding of The Jimi Hendrix Experience. He once told me that almost all songs have an “outside chord” that falls outside of the key. Because of that, it’s the most difficult to suss out, but frequently the part of the song that listeners like best. I view new ideas that don’t fit my outline as my outside chords. It’s imperative that I give them serious consideration. I wouldn’t want to ignore something that could prove to be the best part of my story because it didn’t fit neatly into my outline.

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

One of the saddest patterns I’ve noticed in my years in the resume writing business is that almost half of my clients sought jobs that they really weren’t interested in doing. They usually pursued those job objectives because they felt it gave them the best chance for earning the most money. Most people never take the time to realize that they bring the drudgery of a bad job home with them every night, and it can have a profound effect on their family life and free time.

If I had to put my finger on one root cause it would be the fact that, as a society we expect 18-year-olds to know exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives. About half of the resumes I prepared for people with a college education were for job objectives that had nothing to do with their degrees. Some of the folks who pursued jobs in their field were doing so only because they felt the need to get a return on their educational investment.

My non-fiction book would be directed to the parents of high school students, and aimed at helping them guide their children to career/education decisions that are consistent with the child’s interests and aptitudes, while also factoring in the realities of the job market.

How would you define your style of writing?

I write hardboiled mysteries with a bit of humor. I would describe my style as reality-based. Many of the books that I read in my genre tend to feature a lot of coincidences and “barely-in-the-nick-of-time” climaxes. Yes, I’ve been guilty of the latter on a few occasions, but I try to not make a habit out of it. Just as I do my best to purge my books of clichés, I also try to avoid hackneyed formulas. No one wants to read a murder mystery that has already been done to death.

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

A couple of years ago I gave myself a Saturday afternoon off from my writing schedule to watch my alma mater play football. As I was about to settle onto my couch to watch the kickoff, my mailman dropped off a package at my door. At the time, I had my books in record stores across the country, and as they closed their doors, many were kind enough to return unsold stock. The package I received was about the size of one of my books. I tossed it on my kitchen table and watched the game.

By halftime, I was feeling guilty about slacking off, so I decided to process the return during the break. When I opened the package, instead of finding a returned book I discovered a plaque with my name on it, declaring my novel “Rock & Roll Rip-Off” the 2010 Mystery/Thriller of the Year.

I was shocked. The football game continued to play on my TV but I don’t think I even noticed who won. The recognition fueled my passion for writing and inspired me to do a bookstore and library tour that included relating several classic rock songs to my characters and series storylines. I don’ think I would have put in the time and effort to write and learn and hour-long presentation along with practicing a dozen songs every day for months were it not for the emotional B-12 shot I got from that plaque.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

Several of my high school friends went off to war after graduation. I opted for college instead, but always felt an obligation to contribute in some way. A couple of years after writing the resume manual, I volunteered to write an article for the Military Press designed to help military personnel to make the transition to the civilian world. The newspaper liked the article so much that they talked me into writing a column that appeared in all of their issues for the next two years.

What music soothes your soul?

I’ve always enjoyed both hard rock and acoustic rock. When it’s time for soothing music I turn to Clapton’s blues albums, John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, and Jack Johnson, to name a few.

Have you ever played a practical joke on a friend?

When I was in my mid-twenties, I set my alarm for 5:00 AM on April Fools Day. My sister was the target of my ruse. I called and told her I was in Las Vegas, and that I had just gotten married to a girl I met earlier in the evening. For my wedding present I wanted her to break the news to our parents. Despite the hour and obvious lack of caffeine, she went into a rant that lasted 15 minutes. When she finally calmed down enough for me to get a word in, I said to be sure to tell them one more thing – happy April Fools Day! Friends of my sister might be surprised to learn I’m still alive to tell that tale.

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CHAT WITH UVI POZNANSKY

Uvi

Uvi Poznansky is a poet, artist, and author. Her versatile body of work includes novels, poetry, short stories, bronze and ceramic sculptures, oil and watercolor paintings, charcoal, pen and pencil drawings, and mixed media. She has published a poetry book, Home, two children books, Jess and Wiggle and Now I Am Paper, a novella, A Favorite Son, and a novel, Apart From Love.

Time to chat with Uvi!

What is your latest book?

My latest release, which is now available in e-book, print and audiobook editions, is a new twist on an old yarn. The title is A Favorite Son. Inspired by the biblical story of Jacob, I describe the story in first person narrative, as if this is happening here and now. He and his mother Rebecca are plotting together against the elderly father Isaac, who is lying on his deathbed. They wish to get their hands on the inheritance, and on the power in the family. This is no old fairy tale. Its power is here and now, in each one of us.

Listening to Yankle telling his take on events, we understand the bitter rivalry between him and his brother. We become intimately engaged with every detail of the plot, and every shade of emotion in these flawed, yet fascinating characters. He yearns to become his father’s favorite son, seeing only one way open to him, to get that which he wants: deceit.

UviBook2

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

Two of my books—Apart From Love and A Favorite Son—have now come out in audiobook editions! This is the new way to read books—which is also the oldest way: to listen to a story. And unlike writing a novel, which is a solitary endeavor, here we have a creative collaboration between my narrators and me.

The audiobook of Apart From Love is truly special, because unlike most narrated stories, the reader can take an intimate listen to two voices, describing events in a “he said, she said” exchange: Anita (narrated by the warm, sultry voice of Heather Jane Hogan) and Ben (narrated by the incredibly versatile voice actor David Kudler, who does many other voices in this story, including conversations with the hilarious aunt Hadassa.)

What else have you written?

My novel, Apart From Love, was received by readers with high acclaim: 5-star rating, 48 beautiful, eloquent reviews on Amazon, and more reviews on Goodreads, Barnes & Noble and elsewhere. The novel is an intimate peek into the life of a uniquely strange family: Natasha, the accomplished pianist, has been stricken with early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Her ex-husband Lenny has never told their son Ben, who left home ten years ago, about her situation. At the same time he, Lenny, has been carrying on a love affair with a young redhead, who bears a striking physical resemblance to his wife–but unlike her, is uneducated, direct and unrefined. This is how things stand at this moment, the moment of Ben’s return to his childhood home, and to a contentious relationship with his father.

The story is told from two points of view, Ben’s and Anita’s, which gives me an opportunity to illustrate how the same events, seen from different angles and through difference experiences in life, are interpreted in an entirely different way.

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

At times, the research is based on my past professional experience. For example, as a software engineer I developed software for medical devices, including ultrasound machine. This experience allowed me now to write the scene with Anita watching the ultrasound image of her baby:

“With a soft, squelching sound, little specs glitter in the dark fluid. And there—just behind them specs—something moves! Something catches the light and like, wow! For a second there I can swear I see a hand: My baby’s hand waving, then turning to float away.

This isn’t exactly what I’ve expected, ‘cause like, not only is that fluid kinda see-through— but to my surprise, so is the little hand. Like, you can spot not only the faint outline of flesh on them, but the shine of the bones coming at you, too.”

Other times, I do extensive research. For example: every time Natasha, the mother character, appears in Apart From Love, it is to mark the distance between what she is and what she used to be, a distance that is expanding in time. I was somewhat familiar with Alzheimer’s from watching the last year of my father’s life, and from visiting patients in a home–but in addition, I did extensive research about how it is diagnosed, how do you solve the problem of placing a loved one at such a home, and the emotional roller coaster ride of blame and guilt that takes place in a family. Here is an excerpt from the moment Natasha is diagnosed:

The doctors, they point out the overall loss of brain tissue, the enlargement of the ventricles, the abnormal clusters between nerve cells, some of which are already dying, shrouded eerily by a net of frayed, twisted strands. They tell her about the shriveling of the cortex, which controls brain functions such as remembering and planning.

And that is the moment when in a flash, mom can see clearly, in all shades of gray blooming there, on that image, how it happens, how her past and her future are slowly, irreversibly being wiped away—until she is a woman, forgotten.

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 welcome feedback, it lets me reflect on how my words are understood by readers. So as my work is being written I bring a chapter every week to my writers group, and read it aloud in front of them, or let someone else read it aloud. The first thing I listen for—even before the reading is complete and comments are offered–is the breathing patterns of the audience. Do they laugh at the right moment? Do they hold their breath when the character is in dire straits? Do they utter a sigh of relief when my writing comes to its resolution? If so, I’m on the right track.

Do you write anything besides novels? Care to share?

My poetry book, Home, was published soon after. It is a tender tribute to my father. Home. A simple word; a loaded one. You can say it in a whisper; you can say it in a cry. Expressed in the voices of father and daughter, you can hear a visceral longing for an ideal place, a place never to be found again.

Imagine the shock, imagine the sadness when I discovered my father’s work, the poetry he had never shared with anyone during the last two decades of his life. Six years after that moment of discovery, which happened in my childhood home while mourning for his passing, present a collection of poems and prose, offering a rare glimpse into my most guarded, intensely private moments, yearning for Home.

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

I started telling stories and composing poems before I know how to hold a pen. My father would write these snippets for me, and when he passed away I found a stack of papers in his archives with these early stories, with his notes at the margins
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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?

Evil? No way! The synopsis is the way you would tell about your story to a person who has just met you and is open to listen to you describing your work. If you dread doing it, you are not ready for prime time!

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

I have explored many different venues, and I think that rather than grade them in terms of success, I believe in the accumulation of results from all of them. I truly enjoy reaching out to readers. For example, I have a Q&A group on Goodreads (which is a social network for readers) where I invite readers as well as writers to share their thoughts about the creative process.

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

In my mind, the characters are alive! And they chatter so much that it is hard for me to keep up with them. So from time to time I throw an obstacle their way, to see how they negotiate their path around it, over it, or through it. This makes for surprising twists in the plot.

And now, I am so lucky that two of my books are now in the process of becoming audiobooks! So every evening I listen to the voices, no longer inside my head–but out here, reverberating in midair. I am deeply grateful to my two narrators, David Kudler and Heather Jane Hogan, whose talent and incredible interpretation flesh out the characters.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you get around it?

Knock on wood, I never suffered from writer’s block, but I have experienced another kind of difficulty. How do I explain it to you? First, let me say that the important thing to know about your characters is that each one of them is gripped in some emotion, has an overwhelming need which may be at odds with another character. While your mind “embodies” this character, you must live in her skin and see things through her eyes. At every moment, you must be totally committed to the point of view of the character whose skin you have just entered.

The difficulty, then, is this: when you move to embody another character, you must “swim” out of one skin and into another. This is not an easy thing to do, because the first character is still holding on to you, holding as firm as can be, because she still has more to say… So you must promise to come back to her, as soon as you can.

Have you ever started out to write one book and ended up with something completely different?

No. But then again, I do not “start out to write a book”—I write a story, which may evolve into a book, depending entirely on the voice of the characters.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?

I must admit: I have gained absolutely no wisdom. Just collected more and more mistakes…

Would you like to write a short poem for us?

Sure… This is in the voice of a Plucked Porcupine! Here goes:
I miss the swish of grass and clover
The crunch of twigs, no pangs, no hunger,
That place is far—I must not pine—
For a poor, plucked porcupine
I watch out for the angry poet I stumble back, too late to exit,
She glares at me, at these sharp spines
Her ink has spilled, so here she whines
I hate, I hate to wish her ill
She writes this poem with my quill

What’s your favorite comfort food?

Chocolate! is that food? For me, it is…

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

Honesty and being an interesting thinker.

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

Singing. Can’t do it for the life of me! But I love introducing musical themes into my stories, just as though I were writing the music for a movie based on my novel. I also enjoy describing the ways my characters sing–some of them have a flat voice, some gruff, some melodious.

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CHAT WITH AMY SUE NATHAN

AmySueNathan

Amy Sue Nathan lives and writes near Chicago where she hosts the popular blog, Women’s Fiction Writers. She has published articles in Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune, and New York Times Online among many others. Amy is the proud mom of a son and a daughter in college, and a willing servant to two rambunctious rescued dogs.

Time to chat with Amy!

Tell us about your new novel!

The Glass Wives is about Evie Glass, a divorced mom, who invites her ex-husband’s young widow and baby to move in after he dies in a car accident. The story focuses on the problems, and hopefulness, that comes from creating a brand new kind of family against all odds.

GlassWives

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

More often that you’d think! I have a habit of closing my eyes and typing away when I’m really involved in a scene that I’m writing. When that happens I’m really not in control of where the story goes. I have learned to let my characters be themselves and go back to edit or revise their words and actions later. I learn more about the story I’m writing when I let my characters do most of the work!  In The Glass Wives I never intended for one character to befriend another, yet she did, no matter how much I protested. In the end there were very good reasons for this alliance, but I didn’t know about them at first either!

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

What I like the least is not being able to get the ideas out as quickly as I’d like. I can know the entire story in my head, but know it’s vital to get it written, and as I write, things change, but I just want to GET IT OUT!  I think what I enjoy the most is the actual deliberate, laborious writing where every word is chosen carefully and every nuance of a scene is intentional.

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

Yes! I always know the end, or I think I do. Strangely, what was the end of The Glass Wives for a long time is now a scene in the middle of the book.  The ending after that one no longer exists, and the ending as you can read it, was once about page 100.  But—I did know the ending when I started. But the ending changed!

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 try to find a happy-median between the two. If I don’t edit at all, I might not remember things that pop to mind. If I edit too much, I have a polished chapter or two or three, but that’s all.  I make a lot of notes as I write so I can remember to go back to certain spots. Then I can move on because I know I won’t forget.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

My advice would be to be proud of yourself without being boastful.  Enjoy yourself while being responsible. And keep writing. Book #2 won’t write itself. (I tried. Nope, it doesn’t.)

Can you tell us about your road to publication?

Absolutely! I spent a few years learning all about publishing as I was writing. I figured out the best route for me was to find an agent and publish traditionally.  I queried agents for months while still revising based on some feedback.  After I signed with my agent, his feedback meant more revisions!  After a year of revising the book and freelancing writing and editing and raising two kids, my book was ready to go out on submission to editors, and it sold to St. Martin’s Press.

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 have one or two critique partners who read everything from my ideas to my first draft to my polished pages. For me, these are published writers who know me and my writing very well, who understand what I need when I ask them for specific feedback, and who are honest.  I think the most important thing is that I respect what they say 100%, whether or not I agree with it.

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

What a fun question and I assume you mean my characters!  I’d bring Evie to life because she bakes and I don’t. I’d love to get my hands on some of the cookies she is famous for in the novel.  Other than that, I’d like to meet Sandy who’s a minor character because in my mind he’s a cross between George Clooney and…well, no, just a Jewish George Clooney. That’s reason enough, don’t you think?

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

I live in the suburbs of Chicago. In a dream world I’d live in Montana, near a lake and a mountain, in a big log cabin. In my real world, if I ever move, I’ll probably head back East. I’m originally from Philadelphia.

Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats?

Trains. I don’t have to drive but we get to stay on land.

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CHAT WITH JULIA MUNROE MARTIN

JM_Maison(Julia Munroe Martin as J.M. Maison)

Julia Munroe Martin writes The Empty Nest Can Be Murder series as J.M. Maison. For many years Martin was a work-at-home writer and stay-at-home mom to two (now young adult) children. These days you’ll find her at her dining room table, in an old house on the coast of Maine, where she is happiest and most comfortable with her family or when writing or researching her next story.

Time to chat with Julia!

What is your latest book?

Desired to Death is a mystery featuring Maggie True, an amateur detective. This book answers the question: “What am I going to do with the rest of my life?” After her daughter leaves for college, and former-SAHM Maggie True is faced with an empty nest, she doesn’t know what to do with herself. Never in her wildest dreams does small-town Maggie imagine the answer will come in the form of a middle-of-the-night call for help from an estranged friend who has just been arrested for murder. But it does, and as Maggie solves the mystery of who killed A.J. Traverso, a sexy kickboxing instructor, she also solves the mystery of what to do for the rest of her life.

DesiredtoDeath

Is your recent book part of a series?

Yes, I’m already busy on the second book featuring Maggie True, The Empty Nest Can be Murder mystery series.

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

The Empty Nest Can Be Murder

What else have you written?

I just finished a manuscript, historical time travel. I also have one adult novel and four middle grade novels “in the drawer.” I’ve had short romantic fiction published in Woman’s World magazine, creative nonfiction published in a variety of regional publications, and I’m a long-time freelance technical and business writer and editor—a glamorous way of saying I’ve written a lot of dull computer manuals and annual reports.

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

I love social media. I started blogging two years ago (and love it), and it helped me kick all my writing into high gear. Tweeting is a big part of my daily life, and The Writer magazine named my twitter handle (@wordsxo) as a top Twitter feed to watch in their July 2012 issue. It’s been wonderful way to meet other writers—like Lisette—who are an important support system to me everyday in my rather solitary writing world. The downside of social media is the time it takes away from writing, and it does tend to get fairly addictive for me, and I have trouble breaking away from it to focus on writing.

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

First, I love, absolutely love, good non-fiction. I’ve thought of writing a couple of books. My top choice would probably be a cookbook because I love cooking and it would allow me to merge two of the things I enjoy. My second choice would probably be something about houses and homes because I’m fascinated with the concept of home and how we define it. Perhaps not coincidentally, most of my novels have had the theme of home in them as well.

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

I love this novel and the series because it is near and dear to my heart, but I have to say the novel I am currently working on is my personal favorite. It’s an historical time travel novel, and although it has no connection to my personal life (like Desired to Death does) – this current WIP’s two main characters are just 19 years old – it is a really personally significant project in many unexpected ways. I think as I grow as a writer, I am finding more and more connections to my fictional characters in more subtle ways. I love that.

How would you define your style of writing?

Spare. Approachable. And very introspective, and by that I mean my characters often spend a lot of time “in their heads.”

Do you miss spending time with your characters when you finish writing them?

Very much. First, I don’t know if this is weird, but I always cry when I’m writing the end of my novels. I don’t’ know if it’s the sadness of saying good-bye or not, but it very much feels like that. Also, when I finished the novel I wrote before this one (women’s fiction, in the drawer for now), I spent a good week seeing my main characters everywhere I went. As I write, it’s like I’m watching a movie in my mind, and I can visualize my characters going about their daily life. I also write about small towns in Maine (like I live in) so I fully expect to see my characters at the grocery store. With this current novel (Desired to Death), since it’s a series, I will see the main characters many more times, so I don’t need to miss them. However, I will miss the sexy victim in this book—A.J. Traverso—he kind of got under my skin.

Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats?

I traveled a lot as a child—a lot. I was born in France and by the time I left for college I’d lived in Belize, Kenya, and Uganda, as well as in three states. It was a bit of a struggle as a child to move so much, and I really didn’t enjoy saying good-bye so often, but now as an adult I can look back and really appreciate my varied geographic life. So to answer this question… I’ve traveled extensively by all of the above!

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

I would love to be able to draw and/or paint. I have zero (and I mean zero – stick figures challenge me) visual art talent, and it’s something I’ve always felt sad about.

What makes you angry?

What makes me angriest is when people are disrespectful, mean spirited, rude, or cruel (intentionally or not), especially when it involves people different than themselves. It frustrates me that people can’t be kind and good hearted and get along, and I often think of Maya Angelou’s poem, Human Family, especially the words: “We are more alike, my friends,/than we are unalike.”

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

Funny story, actually. My husband (then boyfriend) and I went to see The Shining when we were college students. And I was TERRIFIED. I got up about ten minutes into the movie (first scary scene), and I thought my husband heard me say I was leaving, but he didn’t. I went outside and about five minutes later he came out, saying, “Where were you?” I guess he was so engrossed in the movie that he didn’t even notice I was leaving. I think it’s the only movie I’ve ever walked out on!

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

People at the grocery store who are so impatient that they reach around me to reach an item on the shelf.  In general, I have zero patience for impatient people, LOL.

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

This ties into my earlier answers (about what makes me angry and my pet peeves). I think if everyone just slowed down and took the time to be kind to one another, I think the world would be a better place. A few years ago, I threatened my family that I was going to start a “just say hi” campaign because I think we all get so busy and focused on our own little worlds that we lose sight of the fact that there is a big world out there full of lots of “quiet lives of desperation,” as Thoreau said. And we all need to just take the time to be good to one another. So three things? 1-Be kind. 2-Be patient. 3-Be tolerant.

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CHAT WITH SIMON HAY

SimonHay

Simon is a healer, a medical intuitive and a medium. Simon travels throughout Australia, and the world, undertaking healings and connecting people to spirit. Consistently, amazing health responses occur during healings, and he’s well respected in the field of energy healing.

What is your latest book?

The Disciple is a biography about Jesus’ birth, childhood and death. After a life-altering encounter with spirit, I revisit and remember my past life as the disciple, Judas.

My life, my family, the processes of communicating with spirit and the roles of spirit guides are interspersed amongst the stories from Jesus and His family.

Disciple

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

I glimpsed my abs this morning! Sadly, they disappeared by evening. 🙂

Is your recent book part of a series?

As I continue to remember more about Judas’ life, there’s the option to write further about Jesus and Judas, but my clients and supporters want me to write about healing and working with spirit. I’ve already started that book.

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

Honk if you love Judas. 😉

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

I think if you look for misconceptions you’ll find them. The indie authors I interact with are professional and committed to being successful. Successful people work hard and smart. Whether indie or traditionally published, success always follows perseverance and passion.

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

My characters are ghosts. They always surprise me. The backstory that didn’t make it into the book is filled with quirky, heart stopping and emotional encounters with spirit: Ghost pets jump onto my bed, flop at my feet and follow me around. Ghost people wake me at night and watch me on the toilet. It get’s a little crazy. 🙂

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 an excessive editor. Since I’m always writing about my life, I’m able to jump from chapter to chapter and organize the scenes in an eclectic fashion. I’m not creating characters or worlds, I’m describing them, and this allows some flexibility. I’m a mood writer, but as my work schedule increases I have to be more disciplined … or eat tim tams. Bye, bye, baby abs. 🙂

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Don’t give up! Everyone has a story to tell. The secret is to tell that story in a unique way.

Can you tell us about your road to publication?

I started the book in 2001 and rewrote the narrative around the material from spirit more than twenty times. Over the last 5 years I queried agents 110+ times. Two agents read partials, but declined representation. Surprisingly, I now have a friendship with an agent and a place to stay when I visit the USA.

I paid three editors and after every edit my writing improved. After rewrites, rejections and time, I rewrote and edited again. In between, I wrote articles for my blog, other blogs, and short stories. I believed in my story and writing, so I self-published.

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

The writing community online is more spiritual by behavior than the field I work in. Social media is a never-ending rave party, an interactive social experiment exploring and highlighting human behavior. The world is smaller than we think, and online, we’re noticed and remembered. Don’t be an ass.

My favorite part is meeting beautiful people; my least favorite, the time drain.

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

I sat down, closed my eyes and became someone else. Exorcism? I think I’m okay. 🙂 I didn’t do any research until after the book was finished. I didn’t want my experiences with spirit to be influenced by something I’d researched.

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

The story is contrary to Christian beliefs and I’d expected some negative feedback, but I’ve received emails from Catholic readers praising my courage and integrity. For most of their lives they’d been disheartened and confused by the stories in the bible. They wanted Jesus and family to be regular. They found the dysfunctional aspects of Jesus’ family liberating.

Spirit advised, during the events in the book, that the book would emit a frequency. Some readers have experienced healing responses while reading and have had encounters with spirit. One reader, while reading, looked at her arm and Judas’s scars were visible. She also heard my voice, not her own, reading in her mind.

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

I was born to dig holes! If I sell as many books as shovels of dirt I’ve moved, Oprah will call. I wrote a poem when I was teen that I now know describes my death in my last past life. I’ve noted that throughout my life whenever I’ve dabbled at writing a dog dies. Usually, my heart gets broken, I write, and I have to euthanize a dog. My dogs are happiest when I’m digging holes.

“Max! Here boy! It’s okay, it’s just an interview.”

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?

Go independent. In time agents will seek authors out and querying will be obsolete. The dream is to have an agent and sign with a big publisher; the reality is that only 3% of authors make a living. Take control of that. Write well, find an editor and cover artist, and build an online community.

Find and follow mentors: traditionally published YA author, Maggie Stiefvater is a writing and community builder mentor, literary agent, Janet Reid, and author, Rachel Thompson, are writing and branding mentors, Melissa Foster is a writing and social media mentor. There are many more. Online, be yourself and do more for others. Being connected online isn’t the same as an in-person friendship. Be respectful. No one owes us anything.

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?

Bourbon! I haven’t had a negative review yet, but I know that I will get one. In my opinion, people who write scathing reviews are miserable bastards: we couldn’t make them happy if we turned the pages for them and told them they’re sexier than Jason Bourne.

The best thing authors can do to prevent this is to write well. Don’t publish too soon. Not everyone likes me. I’m cool with that. Writing is the same.

Surround yourself with supportive people and watch and learn from successful writers/people.

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

I’ve given away the paperback, but I don’t believe it’s created any sales. I haven’t had free days for the e-book yet. I’m considering it … okay, here it is: I get that we need to create visibility and giving away the e-book will potentially shift my Amazon ranking and then I’ll come up in readers searches and sell more books (gasp), but I’d rather scratch the tattoo off my chest with a wire brush while juicing lemons … I’m thinking about it.

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?

My book’s genre is mind body spirit; my cover is not. This was intentional. My initial market was the inspirational/spiritual market, but Jesus’ story doesn’t fit the beliefs of that community. The story is about the truth, not belief. Some people have told me they won’t buy the book because the cover is too confronting, but I wanted to do something original.

The hands on the cover are mine. I took the photo and told the artist, Robert Baird, what I wanted. The image is representative of, look what I’ve done.

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

Dean Konntz’s, Odd Thomas. He’s psychic, talks to Elvis and sees bodachs, shadowy spirit creatures who appear only in times of death and disaster. So do I. 🙂

What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?

Sports boxers prevent chafe! Mother’s, don’t let your sons grow up to be cowboys … unless you’ve raised boxer-men.

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

I live in Nth Brisbane, QLD, Australia and I love it, but if I had to move I’d return to New Zealand. My dad’s house is on the beach and the fishing is amazing. I’d like to live on farmland, mountains and forest behind me, with ocean views.

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

Follow Pink around. She’s an angel. 🙂

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

My family gave me a dog for father’s day. My previous dog had died tragically and I didn’t want to go through that again, but I’ve always had dogs in my life. I cried.

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

The power of invisibility.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I did karate for twelve years, boxed, kick boxed, and did some jujitsu. Now, I’m only dangerous to myself.:) I think I can … oops! No I can’t.

What makes you angry?

Child protection. Here, in Australia, legal and social systems are failing. The perpetrators of abuse are protected and the victims overlooked. 40% of my clients are victims of child abuse and I’d estimate that 99% of the abusers got away with it. Systems of law are political and strategized and truth and justice have little merit. If we can’t protect our children, future generations will experience abuse in epidemic proportions.

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

Pink.

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

Man on Fire, starring Denzel Washington and the Bourne trilogy with Matt Damon. I cry every time I watch Man on Fire.

I have favorite books from different parts of my life, but I love Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas series and anything by YA author Brenna Yovanoff.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Disrespectful teens and people who believe they’re entitled to wealth and security without working for it.

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

Be responsible, be forgiving and be kind.

Lisette and community, thanks for having me here. Much love, Simon 🙂

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