Life has been pretty overwhelming this week, between an increased pressure regarding work/money/practical things, social obligations, trying to keep up with “optional things” like the workshop over at Writer’s Village I’ve been taking and wish I had more time for and this blog, and making time for the people I care about. I’ve been going to bed exhausted, and waking up extraordinarily early.

It’s fair to say I don’t do well with stress, because it turns me into a person I am not, a person who becomes overwhelmed by worry and anxiety and has trouble completing goals because they seem too large. You don’t have to know me outside of this blog to know that I am a bit of a bon vivante–I enjoy life and a little dash of the finer, more memorable things, and living to the fullest. When every day, practical matters get in the way, I become bogged down and overwhelmed by them. I feel as if I am carrying around a heavy burden, and my creativity level is practically non-existent. In a different era, I’m sure I’d have been the typical highly-strung artiste, but in today’s world, the kindest way to put it is that I am not the best with practical matters and a little flighty when it comes to taking care of them. It’s actually not because I’m terribly flighty by nature, as I’m not—I’m intelligent and have a pretty decent head on my shoulders— but I wish to largely avoid the stress that comes along with all those “adult problems” whenever possible. Therefore, I excel at procrastination and find it difficult to focus on goals that seem too unrealistic and large, and am rarely surprised when the things I want to happen simply don’t work out, or I screw up in some major way. In the freelancing world, this can be a challenging character flaw, because no matter how talented you are, deadlines and rule-following are typically valued a bit more. I have, sadly, had to learn this the hard way. However, I don’t operate well under deadlines—the stress of the deadline blocks out the creativity or the motivation, and anxiety keeps me from allowing my brain to rest.

I am either by nature a very type-A personality who has learned to live life differently as a coping mechanism for anxiety and what is common labeled “too many feelings”, or someone who is not at all focused and driven that’s forced to handle very challenging situations from time to time, with too few people to help. I am not sure which. Either way, since I got some news earlier this week about a lot more pressure being put onto my shoulders, I haven’t felt like myself.

Since I haven’t been writing anything myself lately, nor keeping up with promoting and networking and blogging, I’m happy to have this week’s “Literary Libations” finished ahead of time and ready to go! I’m afraid I’ve been less communicative with this wonderful author than I typically am with my interview subjects, but fortunately, she is a very level-headed and organized type who managed to send everything I needed, regardless. ;)

For the very first time, I’ll be chatting with an author in the genre of children’s fiction, the lovely Deanie Humphrys-Dunne. While a majority of my readers are single, urban types without children, I thought it would be nice o have Deanie stop by for a visit to provide a bit of a new and fresh perspective to the blog. She is friendly, creative, and quite accomplished. I, for one, am thrilled to have her here, so I hope you’ll pull up a chair on this Sunday morning (whatever time it happens to be for you), and settle in to meet her.



tailscover orignial
1) Please tell the readers a bit about yourself. Where are you from? Where do you reside now, and what is your latest project?

I spent my childhood in the tiny town of Easton CT, where my parents owned a riding school. The farm was called Sweetbrier and life there was always exciting, as well as challenging. Presently, I live in New Fairfield, CT, but I lived in FL for several years as well. I miss the FL weather in the Winter, but my husband really disliked the hot, humid Summers there. I’m working on another book for the Charlene the Star series called Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog. My sister, Holly Humphrys-Bajaj, beautifully illustrates my books.

2) If you don’t mind, share a little bit about your latest book? What is it about your writing that gives it a unique voice and appeals to readers?

My newest published story is called Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes. Charlene the Star is a stunning red horse, who is becoming renowned for her jumping talents, but she and her friends are looking for something exciting to do in their spare time. They start an amazing new career, which helps other horses. The story is told from Charlene’s point of view and the animals all discuss their problems and work together to find astonishing, creative, solutions. Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes is amusing, entertaining , and it emphasizes the value of friendship, teamwork and setting goals.

3)
When it comes to the creative process, what inspires you? Tell us a little bit about how your latest book came into being.

It’s most important to me that my books promote positive messages for children. I want them to realize that they are all unique. In my book, Charlene the Star, Charlene comes from a family of famous race horses so everyone assumes that will be her forte. But what happens when she doesn’t like racing? She goes to great lengths to show her trainers that she is completely bored with running in circles! She even considers becoming a model at one point. Her career takes a completely different turn. After that, I wanted to create something different for Charlene and her friends. Some of the same characters are in both books, but they set different goals in Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes. It was fun to create the story and I certainly hope that children enjoy reading it. I make every effort to assure that each of my books is my best effort, because that’s what my readers deserve.

4) Did you decide to go with a traditional publisher, an indie publisher, or self-publish your latest work? What do you consider the benefits and the drawbacks of the particular route you’ve chosen?

I chose to self publish because I wanted to retain the rights to my work. I was aware that I would need to do my own marketing and promoting, but I don’t mind doing that. In my experience, most traditional publishers will not consider publishing your work, unless you’re already famous. Also, many traditional publishers are not accepting submissions, so I believe that self publishing was the best course for me.

5) Where, when, and how did you get your start in the writing world? Is this your first publication?

I took two writing courses with the Institute of Children’s Literature. I learned a great deal from their excellent instructors. But I didn’t have the confidence to actually try to publish anything for some time. One morning, I had a strong intuition that I should write a story for children that would be inspirational so I created my first book, Tails of Sweetbrier, which is an autobiography of a little girl who wanted nothing more than to become a champion equestrian, in spite of her handicap. I can’t give away everything that happens, but the story does show that anything is possible if you persevere. This book was chosen “Most Inspirational” by the staff of the Pawling Book Cove in 2009. Tails of Sweetbrier was published in 2009.



Hattie in jpeg
6)
You’re the first person I’ve had occasion to interview on this site who is a children’s author. What drew you to that genre, rather than writing for young adults or an older audience? Do you illustrate your books, as well?

I love children and I thought it would be a tremendous amount of fun, as well as a challenge, to write stories that would inspire and encourage them. My goal is always to write funny, exciting, stories that would have helpful, positive messages for children.

7) What would you say is the most challenging aspect of writing for younger readers? What do you consider to be the most rewarding?

I think it’s challenging to find new ideas for stories. There are so many children’s books that it’s necessary to find different subjects and/or innovative ways to present your ideas and characters. It’s also important to have sufficient action and lively dialogue to keep young readers turning the page. Some of my readers are kind enough to send notes, telling me how much they enjoyed my stories and what they will remember most about them. That’s a huge reward!

8) Other than yourself, of course, who is your favourite author? What’s the last book you read that really spoke to you in some way, and why?

I love books by children’s author, Sherry Ellis (That Baby Woke Me Up Again! And That Mama is a Grouch!) They are adorable, fun to read, and have good messages. I am very impressed with I Spy a Dragonfly and My Name May be Peanuts, but I say Nay to PB&J, by Carla Burke. Both of these authors are award-winners and they do a fantastic job. I’ve had the honor of interviewing Carla. We had a great time together discussing her books.

9) Is writing a full-time career for you, or something you do in your free time? What do you ultimately hope to accomplish as a writer?

Yes, writing is a full-time job for me. My goal is to continue to write stories that children enjoy. Of course, I hope to inspire them as well.

10)
Do you experience “writer’s block”, or a point in time when your imagination simply decides to turn itself off? If so, what do you do to get past that mental stopping point?

Yes, sometimes that does happen. I find that taking a break is helpful. If I take some time away from writing, I can look at it with a fresh perspective, and that’s helpful. Sometimes I ask advice from my family, which is often enlightening. Eventually, the creative side of my brain wakes up again so I can get back to work!

11) Do you enjoy other types of media and artistic creation, such as television, magazines, movies, music, fashion, social media, etc.? What are some of your favourite things?

I love watching equestrian events, such as jumping, horse racing, etc. Also, I enjoy watching figure skating, swimming, and gymnastic competitions. Additionally, I’m a baseball fan, especially a Yankee fan.

12) What’s your Zodiac sign?

I’m a Libra.

13) If you were to give advice to young or aspiring writers who are looking to write for children, what would be the most important lesson you’d wish to share?

I believe that if writing is your passion, you should pursue it, even if some of your friends are discouraging you from that. You must have the passion, in order to make your work outstanding. I think we should never abandon our dreams. Of course, it’s also important to keep writing, because the more you do, the better you become at it. I would also advise aspiring authors to remember that revising your work is essential. It’s rare that your first attempt is your best effort.

14) Of course, we both want readers to rush right out and grab a copy of your latest book! Please tell us where we can find it. Additionally, if you have a blog, website, Facebook, or Twitter, please let us know so we’re able to follow you.

My website is: www.dhdunne.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Childrens-author-Deanie-Humphrys-Dunne/574820065875628

Book Titles: Tails of Sweetbrier, Charlie the Horse (Kindle), Charlene the Star, and Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes

All of them are on Amazon.com. You may also order them directly from me by emailing; www.dhdunne.blogspot.com. Soon you will be able to order signed copies of my book from my website.

Thank you so much for speaking with me today, Alayna. I’ve really enjoyed our time together.



Charlie's cover from Amazon

Deanie Humphrys-Dunne is a children’s book author with four books published at this time: Tails of Sweetbrier, Charlie the Horse, (now on Kindle) Charlene the Star, and Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes (now on Kindle). All of her books offer positive messages for children. Her sister, Holly Humphrys-Bajaj, beautifully illustrates her books. She and Holly are currently working on their fifth book together,” Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog.”

Tails of Sweetbrier is an inspirational autobiography about a little girl whose one desire was to become a champion equestrian, in spite of her handicap. Tails of Sweetbrier will show children that anything is possible if you persevere. This book was chosen “Most Inspirational” by the staff of the Pawling Book Cove in 2009. Tails of Sweetbrier is in the process of being published in a second edition. Deanie’s other books, Charlie the Horse, and Charlene the Star, and Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes, are amusing, fictional tales, which contain important life lessons.

Deanie is a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature, as well as a member of Cambridge Who’s Who. She has been featured on several author websites and she is administrator of Claire Power Murphy’s group, the Pen is Mightier than the Sword and Claire’s group on Womens Radio.com, called “improve Every Year” She has completed four radio interviews on www.womensradio.com. Her last interview with Claire, “Building Character Through Children’s Stories” received top billing on www.womensradio.com.

Deanie enjoys watching equestrian events, and figure skating competitions, music and singing, spending with her family, and their dog, Elliott. She is also an avid Yankee fan.Deanie has just been selected as “Author of the Year” by Geri Ahearn. Additionally, she has been nominated for the following blogging awards: Sunshine Award, The Best Moment Award, The Dragon’s Loyalty Award, The Very Inspiring Blogger Award, The Leibster Award (twice) and the Super Sweet Award, and the Shine On Award.

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Thanks so much to Deanie Humphrys-Dunne for stopping by to be our guest on “Literary Libations” this weekend, and I hope many of you will be inspired to check out her lovely and imaginative creations. Deanie is also part of the Goodreads author community, as more and more independent authors are, so I highly recommend checking out what others are saying if you happen to be part of the website.

Stay tuned, as I’ll be featuring not one but two other interviews this week with talented authors from around the globe, and keeping you updated on some of my own endeavours! As for me, I’ll have to bid you a fairly early good night from my part of the world, as we have a trivia tournament tomorrow and I’d like my brain to turn itself back on. ;)

Sweet dreams, and a lovely Sunday from over here at
Jaded Elegance.

First of all, I have a very important announcement to make:
I think I have defeated the Spam-BotOfDoom
once and for all.

Ever since I was evicted from my old domain for not renewing promptly enough and moved my blog to this one, I’ve been plagued by a relentless Spam-Bot. Even though I moderate comments and nobody ever sees what the Spam-Bot says, I have close to 60,000 comments in my queue. They are almost all from the Spam-Bot. I’ve installed all sorts of anti-spam, malware detector, and nifty widgets to shut it down. Nothing worked. Additionally, WordPress wants to make it difficult for you to make comments not an option.

I finally found a solution, in the form of changing my settings so that comments close ONE minute after I post something. Then I added a CAPTCHA. The Spam-Bot has not been seen for days. On the down side, nobody can actually comment on this blog, but, hey…opinions are overrated. :P (and, seriously, there are tons of other ways to contact me. I just updated my social media box. )

So, hooray! I haven’t had many wins in my life lately, but I can proudly say this: Alayna, 1; Spam-Bot, 0. :P

Because I got behind on my interview schedule during my time of illness (you’d think being stuck in bed does not limit your ability to use a computer, but you’d be completely wrong.), I’m doing a “Literary Libations” interview on a Wednesday! Woo hoo!! Talk about being an unpredictable, rule-breaking kind of person. :P

This is one of the most interesting interviews I’ve done to date, absolutely no thanks to me. :) I happened to have to have the good fortune to speak with J. Guenther, the author of a very large amount of stuff. While most people drop by to promote the one or two things they’ve published, J. has put together an impressive resume of almost unstoppable creativity and energy, both on the page and off.



JGuenther-Sm
I learned a valuable lesson I’ll never forget while editing this piece: “There’s no UNDO button on a radial arm saw”. :)

Like myself, J. is not a person of few words, so….let’s get started, shall we? :)

1) Please tell the readers a bit about yourself. Where are you from? Where do you reside now, and what is your latest project?

I was born in Los Angeles, but lived in Denver for several years, as well as Ventura/Ojai and Bakersfield. Bakersfield is not bad. It reminded me of Denver on a smaller scale. “B-town” has some great views; I especially liked the one in my rear-view mirror. I’m living in the South Bay in the Los Angeles area, now, not terribly far from Hollywood.

I keep several projects active at the same time, so which one is latest is hard to nail down. The most recently recent is Green Dragon Drool, a short play about a not-too successful wizard and his unfortunate apprentice.

My latest full length book in progress is Something Wicked in Ichekaw. I’d been hammering at writers in the Ojai workshop to “shoot the sheriff on the first page.” Just for fun, I wrote the first page of Something Wicked and did just that. It’s a mystery/western/romance and is about half finished, now.

2) If you don’t mind, share a little bit about your latest book or project? What is it about your writing that gives it a unique voice and appeals to readers?

One-act stageplays are my favorite kind of project. My latest project, Green Dragon Drool, started as a short story that I wrote a couple of years back. I got into a playful mood a few weeks ago, and decided to adapt it for the stage. In Green Dragon Drool, Barnaby is summoned by his master, Monte the Magician, to participate in a new spell. Since the last one turned Barnaby into a lizard for a week, he’s understandably reluctant. An excess of green dragon drool in the new potion results in disaster, and Barnaby has to wield the wand himself in an attempt to rescue Monte.

I add humor to whatever I write. I can’t help it. I wrote a three-act tragedy ten years ago. It has many bits of humor. When it was produced, my director asked me at one point, “Do you really want this line to be funny? The character is about to be sentenced to death. People will laugh.” At her urging, I did modify the line. We cast an actor for that role at the very last minute, and somehow, despite the change in the script, he delivered the line exactly as originally written. And everyone laughed. I’ve since restored the line as it was.

3) When it comes to the creative process, what inspires you? Tell us a little bit about how your latest book came into being.

Good writing inspires me, sets an example, shows me the possibilities. For one example, the opening of Keith Roberts’ The Signaller showed me the beauty of choosing the precise verb needed to convey scene to the reader.

Bad writing also inspires me. I saw an awful play in Santa Barbara, once. It was performed in a black box, so sneaking out was not an option. The next morning, I woke up and thought, I couldn’t possibly write anything worse. I sat down and started on Midnight in the Temple of Isis that same day.

My most recently published book is Sail Away on My Silver Dream. The story centers around a poem that I’ve written about companionship and escaping from troubles:



Come, sail away on my silver dream,

Cast off the hawsers of care,

Leave all your troubles and sail away

Over the ocean with me…

I created two children who needed to sail away, if only in imagination: Eleven year old David’s mother contracted cancer; his true friend Sharon is the daughter of an abusive alcoholic. I started the novel in third person, wrote five chapters, then couldn’t go any further. I rewrote those first chapters again and again, with the same result. I was stuck.

Ultimately, I stood back and looked at reformatting the book. I considered adding various story-related items, such as David and Sharon’s report cards, a note from the teacher to David’s dad, and a transcript of David’s first session with Dr. Appelman, his therapist. That transcript was the key. First, it got me in deeper touch with the character. Second, it flowed smoothly, sailing away with me, practically writing itself, because it was in first person. I changed the book to first person and finished it in a few months. There have been several rewrites, since, but the hard part was over.

4) Did you decide to go with a traditional publisher, an indie publisher, or self-publish your latest work? What do you consider the benefits and the drawbacks of the particular route you’ve chosen?

Traditional publishers no longer exist. What we have are mostly amalgamations of the remains of legacy publishers, stumbling zombie-like across a literary wasteland in search of riskless manuscripts by famous names.

I chose to go with a locally-based boutique publisher with the most effective business model for high-tech times. The common model of one SP writer with one book publicized on one blog doesn’t make good sense. It creates too many small voices “crying in the wilderness,” with no one listening. The best model, in my opinion, is a coop or small publisher, with a dozen or two high quality titles, providing synergy among their authors by sharing resources and methods. World Nouveau Books comes closest to this model. It’s more of an us thing than an us-them thing.

☺The drawbacks are the same as currently apply to a “traditional publisher.” I have to provide my own marketing effort. Since I’m not John Irving, I can’t expect marketing services, free publicity, etc.

The advantages are (1) Access to the publisher. I try not to bother them with every problem I run into, but it helps a lot to know that I’ll be listened to and responded to in a timely manner. (2) World Nouveau’s distributor is Ingram. Bookstores like working with Ingram. (3) Cooperation: Being local, World Nouveau’s authors can work together on marketing and publicity, etc. Just today, I made a sales call to a store and picked up books for another WN author at the same time, saving her a trip. (4) Shared methods. My visit to the bookstore was expedited by following a WN procedure for store contacts. (5) Good editing. I’d say WN’s editor is superior to those at many large publishers. (6) Graphics. Again, WN’s graphic artist is top notch.

5) You are, by far, the most prolific author I’ve had the pleasure to interview. Where, when, and how did you get your start in the writing world? What inspired you to choose writing as your path?

“My blushes, Watson!” Thank you for saying that. It’s been a gradual process, with few definable milestones. My writing started with reading. My father’s idea of a great day off was to drive downtown and make a tour of used bookstores, bringing back a box or two or three of books. All four walls of our den were covered with bookshelves. My mother also used to take my sister and me to a local library for children’s books. Later, I read tons of science fiction, starting with one my sister liked: Van Vogt’s World of Ā.

The actual writing? My sister and I used to make pretend newspapers [“The Daily Bloop”], complete with fictitious radio program schedules and news articles. I think the serious writing started when I signed up for a night school course on creative writing taught by Edith Battles, my mentor for many years. The course rolled over into a workshop, and I’m still in contact with former members.

My first sale resulted from working for a company that resembled, in many ways, the story of the building of the Tower of Babel. I wrote a parody called, “Beware the Wrath of Abibarshim” as a joke to give to the harassed CEO, then later submitted it to several engineering magazines. Production Engineering bought it, probably the only piece of fiction they ever took. Abibarshim is on the internet, if you want to read it.

I’ve gradually ramped up to my current level, such as it is, mostly through participation in workshops over the years. I recently felt the need for more challenges, so I signed up for Jeff Hoppenstand’s screenwriting course at Harbor College, one of the smartest things I’ve done. It was a huge leap for me, and I’m still in mid-air, to continue the metaphor, working on In the Mouth of the Lion.

My inspiration(s)? My best friend’s mother, Dr. Margaret Fate, said I should be a writer, after seeing something I wrote in college. Also Peggy Connelly, the ramrod of the Bakersfield Children’s Writing group. Edith Battles and Lyn Hardy, Dave Kenney, and Paul Thompson, from her workshop. Dr. Julia McCorkle of USC. Mrs. Gardner, my 5th grade teacher, who showed me my reading comprehension score with barely restrained glee. I didn’t see it as of much importance at the time.

6) Not only have you been prolific in the amount of well-reviewed work you’ve published, you’re also one of those rare writers who is able to successfully write in multiple genres and formats. What is your favourite form of crafting stories and bringing them to life?

First, let me say, I try not to write the same thing twice. That forces me into new directions a little at a time. Not surprisingly, the crafting method also varies from work to work.

I sometimes start with a “what-if?” What if a man arrives in a strange city and doesn’t get the map promised by the travel agency? The answer was the dystopian A True Map of the City. What would it be like to be the apprentice of a drunken wizard? Green Dragon Drool tells us. What if an Indian servant continually makes terrible mistakes for a good reason? The Moon of Other Days resulted. How would a senile retired professor with few visitors get them to come back week after week? The Scheherezadean Roses in December shows that.

Or sometimes I read something that resonates and feel a need to bring the story to the stage, as in Midnight in the Temple of Isis. The evolution of Mountain Where Rain Alltime had three inspirations: First, a geologist friend, Don Coates, told my sister and me of his trip to the South Seas, where the people spoke only pidgin. Second, Lyn Rollins warned us at Ventura College never to use a lot of dialect in a story. Muhahaha! I immediately put together a short story, half in pidgin dialect, about a visit to the Island of Parangatoa. Third, a few years later, someone in the Ojai workshop said, “Hey, that would make a good one-act play.”

7) Are there times when you experience “writer’s block”, and what do you find is the best way to get past that? Do you have a set schedule that allows you to keep on task, or do you write whenever the muse strikes you?

I subscribe to the theory that if I get writer’s block, I’m writing the wrong thing. Isaac Asimov used to work on dozens of manuscripts concurrently. I’m no Asimov, but I have at least a dozen things I could be working on right now. If I’m stuck, I move on to whatever feels good.

I’d like to say I have a schedule, but the truth is, I don’t. I write when I feel like it. If I’m going gangbusters on a particular piece, I usually keep cranking on it into the wee hours until it’s finished. In odd moments, I sometimes open a file and just do a little bit, then put it away. I wrote A Present for Robbie that way. When my publicist, Dana Macy, told me Theatre 150 was looking for 10-minute Christmas plays, I opened the file and found it had grown to nine full pages. I finished the last page in a few days, and Theatre 150 performed it as a reading that December.

Very important: when the muse presents me with a good idea, I write it down right away. I once found my idea for a story squirreled away on a scrap of paper in my stationery box. Six hours later, I had the first draft of Prisoner of Suggins Holler done. Prisoner won a prize in Elite Theatre Group’s contest that year.

8) Other than yourself, of course, who is your favourite author? What’s the last book you read that really spoke to you in some way, and why?

John Irving? Iain Pears? Michael Crichton? Isaac Asimov? One of those.

Three books stand out. Agent Zigzag is a great character piece, picaresque non-fiction. Pears’ An Instance of the Fingerpost was also outstanding, recommended by a good friend. Another friend told me about Kurzweils’s The Grand Complication. The latter was intricate, mysterious, puzzling. I like puzzles, and maybe that’s what drives me. I also design puzzles and have two patents on them.

9) Has writing always been full-time career for you? As an artist, what do you hope to be most remembered for? What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

I am a retired chemical engineer, so writing has never been “full time,” though I do little else, now. I’d like to be remembered for my plays. My greatest accomplishment? That’s a tougher question, since I don’t think of any of my work as “great.” Maybe the screenplay, if I live long enough to finish it. I’ve done easily 500 hours of research on it.

10) What’s one thing—artistic or otherwise—that you haven’t gotten around to exploring yet, but would really like to try your hand at doing?

Can’t think of much I’ve not dabbled at. I’ve played at chess, cryptography, watercolors, wood carving, acting, woodwork, photography, puzzle crafting, some oil painting. I made a chess set using a radial arm saw, while standing on a bowling ball. I determined the orbit of a comet without a computer. I’ve done some computer programming. Okay, someday I want to make a violin. I have a theory…

(I was kidding about the bowling ball. There’s no UNDO button on a radial arm saw.)



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11) Do you enjoy other types of media and artistic creation, such as television, magazines, movies, music, fashion, social media, etc.? What are some of your favourite things?

I’m currently preparing to copyright a song I’ve co-written with my composer/ actress/ director/ singer/ teacher friend, Judy Sanger. I love chocolate, good films, mysteries, classical music, gallery/museum crawling, dancing, Heavy Metal Magazine, steampunk style, art nouveau, art deco, cryptic crossword puzzles, photography. I taught a college course in computer drafting for a year; that was good in many ways. I’d like to teach creative writing sometime. I’ve written a fair amount of poetry [Moon Over the Lost City] but not much lately.

12) What’s your Zodiac sign?

I was born under the sign of the donut. Mathematicians will understand.

13) One of the interesting things about you is that you’re not only well-educated, but well-traveled. What is your favourite place in the world, and why? Where haven’t you visited yet that you’d love to explore?

Home is my favorite place. Also, I lived Ojai, California, in a guest house for 5 years. I have some roots in Santa Barbara, too. Hawaii is nice, and Italy, for sure. But I’m in second draft on a novel about a crazy poet from Zaragoza, so, given enough income, I’d head to Spain for a week of research in Zaragoza.

14)
What is the best advice you have to offer writers just starting out today?

Have a set time to write every day, like I do. [Hahaha!] Don’t be a perfectionist. Join a workshop. Read new novels and books on technique. Start from the ground up: Study haiku, then flash fiction, and work your way up to novels in steps. Plan your work. Outline. Rewrite from the ground [theme] upward. Write down your ideas. Remember that thinking about your story counts as writing, too; treat thinking time with the respect you show actual writing. Shoot the sheriff on the first page, Bad Bert McGinty on the next to last.

15) Of course, we both want readers to rush right out and grab a copy of your latest book! Please tell us where we can find it. Additionally, if you have a blog, website, Facebook, or Twitter, please let us know so we’re able to follow you.

Sail Away on my Silver Dream is available on Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, and at many local bookstores. If your store doesn’t have it, they can order it for you from Ingram. The book has a Facebook page. I’m blogging at jguentherauthor.wordpress.com, and I tweet as @Jguenther.

Thank you for this opportunity to connect with your respected readers.

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J Guenther has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Southern California. Lately, he has been studying cinema at LA Harbor College. He is a past president of Southwest Manuscripters and Torrance Toastmasters.

“Jay” loves puzzles and has patented two of them. His works often involve a mystery to solve, sometimes explicit, sometimes hidden. His work has been influenced by Bradbury, Borges, and Thurber. He has participated in writing workshops since 1972 and critiqued over 1200 pieces, including novels, memoirs, and short fiction. His publications include four magazine articles and three computer books. He has written over 50 short stories and 120 poems. His works include:

Fiction:

Sail Away on My Silver Dream, World Nouveau Books, 2012

Moon Over the Lost City (Poetry), 2004

Sorcerer of Deathbird Mountain (Fantasy)*

Sherlock Holmes and the Twelve Apostles, novelette, 2010

True Map of the City, novela, 2011

* Nominated, best novel award, Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference, 2005

Plays:

Midnight in the Temple of Isis, 2009, Faulkner Gallery, Santa Barbara**

A Present for Robbie, 2007, Theatre 150, Ojai***

Prisoner of Suggins Holler, 2011, Elite Theatre, Oxnard****

The Five Hundred Goodbyes, 2013, EST, Atwater Village*****

The Moon of Other Days

Roses in December

Mountain Where Rain Alltime

Call of a Distant Song

A Robot of Dawn

Do Those Voices in Your Head Bother You?

** 3-act, semi-staged reading

*** performed as a Theatre 150 reading at El Giardino

**** 2nd prize, Elite Theatre Contest, 2010

***** performed & developed via Ensemble Studio Theatre

Work in Progress:

In the Mouth of the Lion (screenplay)

Something Wicked in Ichekaw (Western-Mystery-Romance)

Tenirax, Mad Poet of Zaragoza (Episodic novel)

Temple of the Permutants (Future/Postapocalyptic)

*********

I want to thank everyone for taking the time to read such an inspirational interview, and to J. Guenther for stopping by to remind us all to live live to the fullest and constantly keep creating: on the page, and off. And, of course, please stay tuned on Sunday for your normal champagne brunch and book chatter! ;)

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

They always say “Better late than never”, but in this case, it’s totally true! Yesterday’s “Literary Libations” did not appear in time due to my complete lack of motivation to be anything but a giant lump on my bed (I still blame the whole drug/health thing.), and the fact that sometimes even *thinking* too much tends to tire me out these days.

However, I feel so badly for not giving this author much-deserved timely attention! Lost Reunions by Shuhin Ali looks like a fascinating read, and I’ve definitely added it to my list.

So, sit back, grab a snack, and even though it’s Monday, take a few moments and get into that Sunday frame of mind.



Shuhin_Ali_Lost_Reunions
1) Please tell the readers a bit about yourself. Where are you from? Where do you reside now, and what is your latest project?

I grew up in a small city in the north west of England. My parents are Bangladeshi so I grew up with a mixture of both British and Bengali culture, which was great. I graduated with a degree in Accounting from the University of Liverpool and later qualified as a chartered accountant. I currently spend my time living between Cheshire and London. I’m always looking to learn about different cultures and can speak English, Bengali and conversational Spanish. When I’m not writing I spend my time trying to improve my Spanish, keeping fit through running ten kilometer and half marathon races, trying to stay on my feet in Muay Thai training and watching movies, reading books and listening to music.

2) If you don’t mind, share a little bit about your latest book? What is it about your writing that gives it a unique voice and appeals to readers?

My latest novel,
Lost Reunions
, is a contemporary tale of friendship, self-discovery and redemption. It explores the nature of staying true to your dreams and ambitions in the midst of the pressures and temptations of modern society. It charts the story of two friends, an investment banker and a doctor, who face very different challenges in staying true to themselves and the promises they’ve made. It’s set between the UK and Bangladesh and I’ve tried to transport the reader to those settings to give it a real world feel.

I think my writing appeals to readers because I try to write in a way that gives the reader the impression that the story could actually be taking place in the world around them, I try to do this by keeping the story contemporary and the characters’ emotions real. I like to think my readers finish the story feeling like they really know the characters.

3) When it comes to the creative process, what inspires you? Tell us a little bit about how your latest book came into being.

I’ve always been quite a fan of books, movies and music finding that they are great avenues for storytelling; it was this love for story telling which inspired me to begin writing. I try to take inspiration from the world around me. My book came into being through the different mix of cultures I grew up around and my desire to tell a story that shows it’s never too late to reach out for your dreams.

4)
Did you decide to go with a traditional publisher, an indie publisher, or self-publish your latest work? What do you consider the benefits and the drawbacks of the particular route you’ve chosen?

I decided to self-publish my novel. The same as most aspiring writers, I was sending the usual letters and three chapters of my manuscript out to agents and publishers only to receive rejection letters, and at times no reply at all. I was fully aware that the publishing houses would only publish a finite number of books and so competition was fierce for their attention, but I had faith and confidence in my writing and the novel I had written. After meeting a few authors who had self-published their novels successfully this gave me the impetus to embark on the self-publishing journey, it was either that or let my manuscript languish on my laptop forever. I am happy to say that I believe I made the right choice.

The benefits of the self-publish are that you maintain control of the publishing process and get to run with your own ideas. Additionally, you also get to keep a higher portion of the royalties from book sales. Also because you are closer to the process of inception to sale of the end product I feel it allows you engage with your readers more often as you have to be more hands on with the whole process.

The main challenge of self-publishing is going from being a writer to a project manager and learning about all the different facets of the publishing process. I gave myself a couple of months to research what a publisher does and learn about the different elements of the process as best I as I could. I worked with an editor to edit the final draft of my novel, I also worked with my cover designer to pull together a book cover that would best represent the essence of my novel. I had to establish the most efficient distribution channels and decided to go with Amazon’s Kindle and CreateSpace, and also used Smashwords to distribute to all of the e-readers. The hardest part for me was the time, it can be very time consuming especially as I already had a day job, much of the time I would work through to one o’clock in the morning. This went on for about a month, but it certainly felt good when I had the finished product.

5) Where, when, and how did you get your start in the writing world? Is this your first publication?

This is my first publication. Writing is a hobby for me, I had an idea for a novel and within five months I’d written my first draft. After a few editions of my manuscript I thought I would take a chance and put it out in the world. Luckily readers have enjoyed my novel, so far.

6) Your book deals with some serious subjects. In addition to being a work of fiction, it serves to raise awareness about the difficulties faced by those living in cultures unfamiliar to most Americans. Have you gotten positive feedback on that front, and do you think your work helps people to get out of the mindset of concentrating on “first world problems”?

Yes. So far the feedback has been positive. Some of the issues in the novel are new to some readers and they’ve enjoyed being exposed to issues being faced in our world today, and some have been inspired to look into some issues further and have got involved with charities to combat social and economic problems faced in the developing world.

7) Are there times when you experience “writer’s block”, and what do you find is the best way to get past that?

I’ve been lucky enough not have experienced writers block. I’m quite a keen runner and find that gives me the opportunity to gather up plots and narrative in my mind, ready for when I sit down at my laptop.

8) Other than yourself, of course, who is your favourite author? What’s the last book you read that really spoke to you in some way, and why?

My favourite author is Zadie Smith. I think her narrative is wonderful and her characters are always full of life and you very much get feeling that you could meet them out there in the world someday. Her debut novel White Teeth is one of my favourites.

The last book that really spoke to me was
One Day
by David Nicholls. The characters in the novel were so well developed that you finished the novel feeling like you had become close friends with them. I also thought the settings in the novel were great as the author used real life events throughout the novel which meant you could relate to the story and made you feel a part of it. It was one of those novels which I really didn’t want to come to an end.

9) Is writing a full-time career for you, or something you do in your free time? What do you ultimately hope to accomplish as a writer?

As I have a day job, writing is something I do in my spare time. At times it can be difficult to find enough time to write meaningfully but perseverance is key. What I ultimately hope to achieve as a writer is to tell stories that readers will find engrossing and enjoyable, and to write the kind of stories I would like to read myself.

10)
If there were one thing you’d like to improve about your life or your writing at this point in time, what would it be?

Something I’d like to improve about my writing would be to explore other mediums of writing such as screenplays. With screenplays lacking the narrative of a novel I think improving my dialogue would be my best way to successfully write a screenplay.

11) Do you enjoy other types of media and artistic creation, such as television, magazines, movies, music, fashion, social media, etc.? What are some of your favourite things?

I enjoying watching movies and listening to music. There’s so much variety in movies and music that there’s always something to keep me interested. However I have rarely found a movie adapted from a novel that has beat the book.

12) What’s your Zodiac sign?

I’m a Pisces.

13) One of the interesting things about you is that you’re not only well-educated, but well-traveled. What is your favourite place in the world, and why? Where haven’t you visited yet that you’d love to explore?

One of my favourite places in the world is Pulau Tioman in Malaysia. They’re two islands off the east coast of Malaysia with white sand and clear water. I spent some time there whilst backpacking around Asia. It truly was a wonderful place. Somewhere I’d love to explore is Madagascar because of the unique landscape and wildlife there, I doubt there’s anywhere else like it.

14)
Of course, we both want readers to rush right out and grab a copy of your latest book! Please tell us where we can find it. Additionally, if you have a blog, website, Facebook, or Twitter, please let us know so we’re able to follow you.


Lost Reunions
is available in paperback and as an ebook on Amazon. The ebook is also available on iBooks and Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and most major ebook retailers.

You can also learn more about
Lost Reunions
on the Facebook page, my website and Twitter. Links below:

*Facebook

*Twitter

*Website

Thanks so much to Shuhin for being a fascinating and wonderful guest this week. I’d also like to thank Shuhin for being so patient with the delays! I was set to get this interview up last week, when health issues kept me from completing the project. Even this week, with me not being at 100%, it is a day late…but hopefully not a dollar short!

To make up for the weekend I went missing in action, we’ll have an extra “Literary Libations” this week, with another fascinating guest author on Wednesday! Get your Kindles ready. :)