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!

It’s Sunday once again, and here in Atlanta, you’d have no idea it’s the middle of May. Happy Mother’s Day to not only my mother, but all the wonderful women out there in the world who drive station wagons and mini-vans, change clothes in the car on a regular basis, learned to tune out the sound of little people screaming in the background, and know that hot dogs and spaghetti are an impressive Julia-Child type recipe when mixed together.

Of course, every Sunday is Literary Libations, where I speak to the type of people who have children that have been loved and nurtured into publishable form. In a way, writing a book is a lot like deciding to have a child. It takes most of your focus for the greater part of a year, you make a lot of sacrifices in order to get it done, you end up slightly fat and out of shape and wanting ice cream at 3 AM, and it will wake you up in the middle of the night suddenly demanding attention. Halfway through the process, you start to doubt your ability to actually do this and know it’s going to go wrong, and when all is said and done, 10 pound boxes of something you created show up at your door. You’re then compelled to spend the next few years showing pictures of it and telling everyone how wonderful it is, even if it kind of just looks like every other book to everyone else. Fortunately, you don’t have to feed your book, potty train it, drive it to soccer practice, or wonder how you’ll afford to send it to college.

On that note, today I’ll be speaking with tireless and prolific writer Devorah Fox. In addition to writing artful and imaginative stories (as someone who grew up intrigued by all the stories of King Arthur and the world of Camelot, I look forward to checking out her works.), she also has a number of creative hobbies you can read about on her blog. Recently, she told me she was one of 100 writers invited to participate in a book-writing marathon. Participants were challenged to write a book in 40 hours. As someone who’s not sure she’ll be able to finish a novel in 40 years, I find this quite impressive.

Devorah (who goes by Dee) is here to speak about her latest book,
“The King’s Ransom”
, and about the art and craft of being a writer. Sit back, relax, and perhaps give your mother a call to chat about the wonderful books you’ve just “Dee-scovered”. :)



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

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, I’ve spent more years in Arizona and along the Texas Gulf Coast than I ever did “back east,” but still consider myself a New Yorker.

My current project is “The King’s Ransom,” a sequel to my first published novel,
The Lost King

.

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?

The King’s Ransom continues the story of Robin, the dethroned King Bewilliam. He commits to restoring his kingdom and family against all odds, and they are formidable.

Something about my books apparently transcends the fantasy genre. I’ll quote a reviewer: “Being new to the world of Fantasy Fiction I was a little uneasy about buying The Lost King. I expected to be forced to wade through baroque dialog and dark scenes of witches, sorcerers, fairies and knight machinations… All my trepidations were for naught. The story could have taken place today.”

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

Though The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam series is set in a medieval fantasy world, I’m inspired by contemporary dilemmas. I wrote The Lost King to explore the predicament of people who because of the economic downtown were “pink slipped” out of a career, an entire life that they had spent a decades building. The King’s Ransom looks at what happens when you defy all odds and commit to pursuing your life’s dream.

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?

You could say I’m both an indie publisher and a self-publisher. In 1988 my late husband and I started a publishing company so I’ve been an “indie publisher” for decades. We did and still do publish textbooks for commercial motor vehicle operators but he always wanted to publish my fiction writing. So when I decided to get The Lost King between covers, I published it under our imprint. We have had nonfiction titles put out by a traditional publisher but regardless of who does the publishing, the author has to do a lot of marketing and promotion.

5) Where, when, and how did you get your start in the writing world? Is this your first book, or have you published before? If someone were to sum you up as a writer in 50 words or less, what would you like to have written about you?

I’ve always been a bibliophile, even as a little girl. I believe I wrote my first novel in the third grade. I got my first writing job in 1977. I started writing fiction in earnest in the mid 1990’s.

I couldn’t want for better acclaim about my writing than what one reviewer told me:
“I haven’t read anything to speak of since I was 40 except for a few inspirational books or books about politics. I suppose you are responsible for reviving my interest in reading fiction.”

6) Outside of writing, you seem to have a variety of interests and are a well-rounded person. What are some of your hobbies and interests? Do find these things help you grow creatively, or leave you in a time-crunch when it comes to meeting deadlines?

I devote quite a bit of time to the writer groups to which I belong. I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned from being in the publishing field for so many years. It’s great to be able to spare someone from having to recreate the wheel. In turn, I have benefited from read-and-critique with other astoundingly talented writers.

7) In addition to being a writer, you’re also a blogger with a social media presence. How do you feel social media helps or hinders artists in pursuit of their goals? Do you spend a lot of time on social media or focus on building yourself as a “brand’, or is it something you only use on occasion?

I think I do put quite a bit of time into social media but I’m not prepared to say that it’s been time well invested in terms of reaching readers. Maybe I haven’t been doing it right! On the other hand, I have picked up a lot of invaluable information from the experience other writers have shared.

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 wish I had more time for pleasure reading. Before I got so busy writing, I enjoyed Greg Iles, Randy Wayne White and Ian Rankin. I really admire how they create a sense of place. A reader of The Lost King found its hero reminiscent of John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport so now I’m rereading the Prey series.

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? For what would you most liked to be remembered?

One way or the other, I’m writing something every day: a blog post, a sponsored review, a newspaper column. I’m fortunate enough to have had people tell me that my writing has helped them. In some cases it’s been practical, such as via one of our training publications. Others have been motivated to be creative themselves. On reader was so inspired by The Lost King that he couldn’t wait for me to write the sequel so he wrote one himself. The Lost King has fan fiction!

10) I read something on your blog recently about you “going away to camp” in order to work on your next publication. That sounds like a truly interesting idea. Could you tell us a bit more about that?

I attended “Camp NaNoWriMo.” It’s an imaginary writers retreat. I set aside a month, making fiction writing a priority and try to meet the goal of writing 50,000 words. Camp NaNoWriMo is organized by The Office of Letters and Light which also organizes National Novel Writing Month. That takes place every November, and OLL also holds two “camps,” one in April and one in July. I’ve done two NaNoWriMos, one in 2010 and another in 2012, and two camps, one in 2011 and the April 2013 camp.

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 not much of a movie goer. I do like TV. I think I’ve seen every episode of Law and Order and CSI. When I have time, I like to crochet and do crafts like glass etching, glass painting and furniture antiquing. I’ve given watercolor painting a try and I’d like to do more of that. Recently I charged myself with restoring a mosaic table that my mother had made decades ago.

12) What’s your Zodiac sign?

Gemini

13) What’s the most memorable thing (either positive or negative) anyone has ever said to you regarding your work? If you had one piece of advice for young, aspiring writers, what would that be?

I was really moved when someone told me that after reading The Lost King he felt validated because someone understood what he had gone through in his life.

I would tell young writers or even older ones that if you think you’d like to write, just do it. It’s a talent that not everyone has. Don’t hold back out of fear that it won’t be any good. It’s probably better than you think. I don’t think we writers ever believe our writing is good enough, anyway–we’re always looking to improve.

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.

The Lost King is on amazon.com, Kindle, Nook, etc. I like to say that if you want it via smoke signal or carrier pigeon, I’ll get it there. But it’s probably faster to follow these links:

*amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/The-Lost-King-Devorah-Fox/dp/0977824527

*bn.com: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-lost-king-devorah-fox/1037627030

*Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/The-Lost-King-ebook/dp/B006L5O1JE/ref=tmm_kin_title_0,

*Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-lost-king-devorah-fox/1108162505?ean=2940044954267,

*smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/230605, and iBook

Anyone interested in our textbooks and smartphone apps can find more information here:

http://blog.bumper2bumpertruckbook.com/answers/

http://bumper2bumpertruckbook.com/sp-bin/spirit?PAGE=24

I invite people to connect with me here:

*email: devorahfox@aol.com

*Website: http://devorahfox.com

*Twitter: http://twitter.com/devorah_fox

*Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/devorah.fox

*Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2751371.Devorah_Fox

*Google+ : https://plus.google.com/115373271462004436975


“Devorah” is a weighty moniker so most people call me Dee. When not “Dee-Scovering” the dee-lights of the Texas Coastal Bend for my column in The Island Moon newspaper I’m running Mike Byrnes and Associates, Inc. We’re publishers of BUMPERTOBUMPER®, The Complete Guide to Tractor-Trailer Operations (the “bible” of truck driver training), authors of the Easy CDL apps for the iPhone and iPad (so much more enjoyable than the state manuals!); and last but not least The Lost King, a literary fantasy (Book One of The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam). My current project is Book Two, The King’s Ransom, due out this summer.



lostking
Thanks so much to Devorah Fox for stopping by to be our guest this Sunday, and I’ll be following up with her in the next few days to chat about her 40-hour writing marathon, and what type of results that yielded. :) I’ll also be sharing her author interview with me about “Ophelia’s Wayward Muse”, and discussing a few books that have shown up in my mailbox and on my Kindle that I simply can’t wait to read.

In the meantime, a happy Mother’s Day—or just a laid-back and lovely Sunday afternoon–to all. :)

Today is Cinco de Mayo here in the States, so I basically have two options: 1)Stay up really late and post this week’s “Literary Libations” before heading off to drink at a friend’s party tomorrow, or 2)Wait until 8 PM tomorrow, when I’m exhausted and really just want to see the “Amazing Race”finale. Because I am a responsible blogging diva, I will opt for the first one. So, hello, world…this is me at 3 AM!:)

Today’s interview is with author Stacy Bender, who has successfully published a number of books in the fantasy genre, but her writing is original, descriptive, colourful, and really defies any specific genre. Whether you like fantasy, sci-fi, romance, or simply a well-developed story, you’ll enjoy reading what she has to offer.

Sit back, relax, and depending on what time you read this, either grab your authentic Mexican Coca-Cola, or the nearest margarita, and take a journey with Stacy through a more colourful and vivacious world!



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

Hi, my name is Stacy Bender, and I’m originally from Michigan, a place where UP is not a direction, it’s a place. Both Hell and Paradise really do exist, you can find it on the map, and depending on which side of the bridge you reside on signifies whether you’re a yooper or troll. I’m a troll.

Right at the moment, I live in Cincinnati and have been here for a few years. I like the area very much. I love being able to walk around town without fear of being run over.

As for the my latest project, between trying to find a job, editing Word Branch Publishing’s new Sci-Fi Anthology, working on my next book and getting my garden ready….. not much. Did I mention that I am a tad bit hyperactive?

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?

‘Real Men Don’t Wax’, and yes, I purposely named it that to grab everyone’s attention. Quite honestly, I usually don’t do romance novels. I much prefer sci-fi and fantasy. However, I wrote the story for several reasons. First, as a challenge to see if I could do it; second, for a friend who is a romance fanatic, and third– to have a bit of fun. The first line says it all.


“Why is it that in every romance novel, the girl is always a virgin and the guy has more money than he knows what to do with? When in reality, most of us lose our virginity in a drunken stupor to some jackass and most guys don’t have a pot to pee in,”

The rest is just poking fun at the gene and of course and everyone falls in love with Mephistopheles. If I get the reader to laugh, I’ve done my job.



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

Inspiration can come from anywhere even on a gloomy day. It can follow you home from a walk in the park, wake you up in the middle of the night, drop in your lap for no good reason or show up, as ‘Real Men Don’t Wax’ did, in a conversation on romance novels.

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?

When I first decided to try and get my work published, I knew that I didn’t want to self publish it. Going with the traditional publisher seem daunting because it seemed like in order to get published, you had to be published. Confusing, I know.

Therefore, when a friend of mine introduced me to Cathy I thought that I hit the jackpot. She was just starting up Word Branch Publishing and took a look at ‘Emerald Tears’ and she loved it, though at the moment ‘Ursa Kane’ is now her favorite, and her husband would love to see it as a movie.

The benefits of Word Branch is that it’s a small publishing company and even though artist, owners, editors, proofers and authors are all scattered across the country we still are accessible to each other. Granted, being new is a bit of a problem, as well as the biggest drawback. There will be bumps along the road, but it’s amazing, the opportunities that the Internet presents.

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

Where, when and how? Oh dear, I’m not quite sure. You see have always made up stories but had few people to tell them to. Plus, I was told that I couldn’t write and I admit that I still can’t spell. I’ve always dreamed of writing a book ever since I saw the movie, ‘The Ghost and Mrs. Muir’. But it seemed like just that a dream until a friend of mine managed to convince me to start writing my stories down and so ‘Ursa Kane’ is my oldest surviving written story, even though ‘Emerald Tears’ was published first, followed six months later by ‘Hands of Onyx’.


6) Your work is highly imaginative. Where does that inspiration come from? Are there times when you experience “writer’s block”, and what do you find is the best way to get past that?

Highly imaginative, I find those words rather odd. For me, it’s normal state of mind. I guess it’s because I see the world rather differently than most, and have been accused of living in my own world. When I have trouble with a story I usually tuck it in the cubbyhole in my mind, or if it’s written down, toss it on the shelf for a time. Time is really the only answer and trying to force a story out doesn’t seem to work very well for me. Sometimes, talking to someone about a particular story helps the brain organize thoughts and brings the obvious to light.

7) In addition to being a writer, you’re also a blogger with a social media presence. How do you feel social media helps or hinders artists in pursuit of their goals?

Right at the moment I’m still trying to get used to the SM thing, (Social Media) and sometimes I think the acronym sounds accurate.;P But it seems that this is the way the world is turning and it’s unavoidable, so it’s just a matter of getting used to it. Luckily, one can link many of these sites together making it a little easier and less time consuming.

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

Correction, I’m my own worst enemy. However, one of my favorite series is Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, there is something about the character. It’s had a big influence on when I wrote ‘Emerald Tears’. There is just something about a man in a fedora and wearing a suit, it’s sexy. You just don’t see that anymore. As for the books that I read, I always try to find something to take away with me and I tend to lean towards stories that have a somewhat positive ending. (Please don’t confuse that with a happy ending.)



UrsaKane
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?

Writing so far has been nothing more than a hobby, and I am not really sure if I want to go beyond that or not. As long as it kept its ‘fun factor’, that would be great. I wouldn’t mind a movie deal either. I wouldn’t want to act in it or direct it. However, can I slap the director if he screws it up? But seriously, I write because I love doing it. One should not get into writing expecting to make loads of money, but if you are one of the lucky few who can, my hat’s off to you.

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?

How about getting the day job so I can keep my house? Sorry, that’s just been at the forefront of my mind here lately. After almost 20 years in the same company, I’ve found myself laid off and a bit out of sorts. Getting back to the question, one can always find improvement in everything they do. Life changes and so do we. If we aren’t willing to change, we stagnate.

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 favorite things?

Television has so few shows that actually require a brain cell or two, so I tend to stick to PBS, mysteries and mayhem. Magazines are mostly advertisements. Movies and music depend on my mood at the time as to what keeps my attention. I do have a love of cooking, especially when there are others around to enjoy it. Opera (yes, I know everyone usually dies) and various other live performances.

12) What’s your Zodiac sign?

Occidental or Oriental? Taurus, if you’re asking about the occidental or Greek zodiac most of us know. Dog, element of metal, for the Oriental—and just for shits and giggles, in numerology my full name adds up to eleven. Yes I could go on but basically it all ends up being a double whammy and a contradiction in terms. All in all I’m stubborn and dependable.

13) 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.



Emerald Tears jpeg
You can order direct from Word Branch Publishing or go to Amazon.com

If you wish to follow me, pick your poison I’ve got them all linked together:

http://stacybender.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stacy-Bender/100925890074142

https://twitter.com/Stacy84345146

Thank you to Stacy for joining us today, and for bringing along her witty and upbeat sense of humour. Anita Lewis, who appeared in a previous installment of Literary Libations and conducted an interview with me earlier this week, has a guest post written by Stacyon her blog, so I encourage you to take the time to hop on over and read more about this very colourful and unique lady!

I’ll see you all again next Sunday, when we’ll be speaking with the lovely and multi-faceted author Devorah Fox. Please don’t forget about me in the meantime! I’m always conversing over on Facebook and chatting about books and such on Goodreads, so don’t hesitate to be my friend!:)

Happy Sunday afternoon to everyone!! It’s more than a little grey and rainy outside here today, which I actually like once in a while. (unfortunately, we have them seemingly every 3 days or so.) When the rainy day falls on a Sunday, though, it feels like an extra dose of creativity dropped on my doorstep.

So, grab a comfy spot and a cup of coffee or tea, and join me for a stroll down memory lane with today’s guest author. Today, instead of an interview, I’ll be sharing a story by author Faith Ann Colburn, who writes about the importance of family, the value of simple things, and growing up in the Midwest. Having grown up in large cities and never having set foot in most of the states that occupy the central part of the country, I certainly know that country life is not the life for me, but I get a certain appreciation of simplicity and nostalgia reading Faith’s work.

Faith has penned a novel called “Threshold: A Memoir”, which is a collection of short stories about one American family’s journey through weathering the good, the bad, and the downright ugly—and ultimately surviving the journey. Her book transports readers not only into the world of prairie life, but discusses issues that are ultimately human, revealing, and universal. It is available through a simple visit to Amazon, and is a mere $2.99 if you’re a Kindle owner, so there’s really no reason not to add it to your reading list!



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Without any further rambling on my part, here’s today’s guest post, a story by author Faith Ann Colburn. 

* * *

Memory: Catch Me If You Can

My great-grandmother Frank (yes that was her name) died when I was fourteen. She’d seen the prairie when it was still mostly grasslands and wandering bands of Otoe displaced from their homes. She remembered starving Indians staring at her through the windows as she kneaded bread, which she always gave to them. She remembered making do with simple stuff like a tree limb to harrow the fields. (She was the one behind the horse.) And that’s all I know of Grandma Frank’s rich experience of a life very different from my own, even though it was very close to the place where I grew up. She was just old and I was young and dumb and I didn’t realize she knew things that would ever matter to me. I never listened.

But I remember standing on Grandma’s front step where I could see the shadow of some buildings. “That’s Mount Clare,” Grandma Hazel said. “It’s a mirage.”

I’d seen mirages in the movies, where people wandered on the desert, dying of thirst. So that seemed dramatic enough to remember. What I saw was a reflection of the town on the clouds. Conditions had to be just right to see it and I think I only saw it once more. But the explanation of those distant buildings, five-to-ten miles away, represent the first story I remember my grandmother telling me. Fortunately, she lived fifty years after I was born, so she told me lots more stories.

Have you ever spent an hour or two with someone who talks faster than you can listen? Usually, those folks are trying to sell you something. Or maybe they’re not comfortable with themselves and silence frightens them. Well, Grandma never talked very fast, but I listened very slo-o-o-owly. In fact, by the time I really heard, it was almost too late. My grandmother had passed her ninety-eighth birthday.

Grandma’s stories were always mixed up with some activity, most often outdoors. The problem was that, since they were so mixed up with ordinary work, it took me many years to realize they were special. We worked on a farm; she was busy and so was everybody else. But I don’t think she could help herself. She had to tell those stories . . . and whenever I checked her, I found them to be true.

So finally, belatedly, it dawned on me that I had an unbelievable, rich archive of my very own family. I had access to a woman who could talk to me in exquisite detail of seven generations. And in those seven generations she could describe every conceivable kind of hardship and how my family, people whose DNA I carry, have struggled with those hardships and survived and, in almost all cases, thrived.

We were sorting through old photos, identifying people and writing names on the backs when it occurred to me to record her stories. I asked if she’d mind repeating her stories so I could tape them. She agreed. We made an appointment every Wednesday afternoon at two p.m. I brought my tape recorder and we sat in her living room, both facing the street so we wouldn’t miss anything, and talked. I recorded a ninety-minute tape cassette each Wednesday until I had thirty hours of our voices describing, in Technicolor detail, one extraordinarily ordinary family. I worked with that material, and a lot more I found in archives and county histories and other people’s memories, including my own, for more than eighteen years. I published my memoir, Threshold: A Memoir, at the end of 2012, fifteen years after Grandma died.

It seems kind of selfish now to have mined that woman’s memory as I did, but I think Grandma was hungry for an excuse to get some attention my sister and I were too busy and worn out with jobs and kids to give. It must have provided a nice break for her. All the other afternoons, she went to the local nursing home to “take care of the old folks.” One of those old folks was her daughter. Nina had ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease. The only time I ever say my Grandmother shed a tear, she’d just come from the home, just exhausted. She leaned on a little claw-foot table in her living room and tried to gather herself back up. “It’s just hard,” she said, “to watch her die an inch at a time.” With her usual stoicism, she refused the dramatic moment, wiped one tiny tear from the corner of her eye and asked if I wanted some grapes before we got started.

* * *

As a post script, I might add that, while logic would indicate interviewing the oldest generation first, sometimes that plan may come back to bite you. As I was interviewing Grandma, my mother became incoherent as a result of Alzheimer’s. So it’s back to the county histories and maybe a jazz museum or two to tease out a big city family, a cousin of Henry Ford, a big band singer and severe mental illness. I call my novel-in-progress, based on my mother’s and dad’s lives, Gravy, because the odds against most of the good stuff are astronomical.



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To contact Faith:
* Website: http://faithanncolburn.com
* Blog: http://faithanncolburn.wordpress.com
* Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/colburnfa
* Twitter: http://twitter.com/colburnfa
* Threshold: A Memoir on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Threshold-A-Memoir-ebook/dp/B009ZIJPV8
* * *

Thank you so very much to Faith for being my guest here this Sunday, and of course I’ll be back next week with another author, discussing what you should be reading and why, and hopefully inspiring you into completing that creative feat of your own!

If you spend the next day or so with “Threshold: A Memoir”, vicariously living the Nebraskan life, certainly nobody will hold your absence against you. ;)

A few weeks ago, a writer by the name of Troy Jackson was kind enough to run an interview with me on his blog, and I got a lot of positive feedback from said appearance. Since it’s really not that difficult to get me to like you—all you have to do is give the impression that you like me and think I’m fabulous in some way—I promised to return the favour and have Troy over here as a guest on Jaded Elegance.



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Yes, yes, I do interview male authors once in a while. ;P In fact, Troy’s writing couldn’t be more out of the realm of what I typically write and/or read, being that he’s a sci-fi lover who writes supernatural fiction with a historical element. However, with all the friends I know from different geek-related events, and DragonCon, I’m certain that more than a few people I know will find his work far more compelling than the stuff I usually write about.

Ironically, I’m posting this interview quite early because tomorrow I’ll be accompanying The Guy I Am Currently Dating to the Atlanta Browncoats gathering (a monthly brunch meeting for people who have a love of the show “Firefly” and generally all things sci-fi. Nobody there will ever talk to me about a single show I watch on a regular basis. *laughs* :P ) So, once again, Universe, you have perfect timing.

In addition to his proud geek status, outstanding writing abilities, and interesting personality, one of the things you have to find endearing about Troy Jackson is his snarky sense of humour. Well, if you’re me, you have to find it endearing. I’d like to think if you’re reading this, we share the same level of respect for snarky humour.

That being said, I present this week’s willing victim for this lovely little feature. By the time you read this, I’ll likely be half-awake and having a Bloody Mary. For maximum enjoyment, may I suggest you do the same?


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

Troy Jackson — aspiring author and father. I was born in Grand Rapids, MI, but moved to the Atlanta, GA area when I was 3. I have lived there ever since.

I began writing when I was very young, but “professionally” I’d say the last couple of years. I am currently working on my second novel of The Elementals series.

2) If you don’t mind, share a little bit about your latest book? What genre do you write, and who do you consider your ideal reader? What is it about your writing that makes it stand out from the pack?

My debut novel, The Elementals, was released in October of 2012. In a nutshell it is a fictional tale that uses actual historical events that occurred in ancient China some 2200 years ago. I simply add my own supernatural twist to a time period that very few know about. If action, fantasy, supernatural, historical fiction, or historical fantasy is your thing, than this might be for you! Many of my novels in the future will likely fall into similar categories. The ideal reader I would say is, of course, one who enjoys that sort of sub-genres, but it is also meant for ages 13+. There is nothing gratuitous in it, but some of the actions scenes can be a little…descriptive?

As for what makes my writing stand out from the pack… I have always enjoyed history, but found it rather dull as far as how it is written. So I felt it could use a little… spicing up! Even after I finish this trilogy (yes, I plan on there being three books in this series), I’ll be doing similar things in the future.

 

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

History. Soothing music. Powerful movies and TV series. Gripping novels.

The Elementals was born out of a single scene that would replay in my head over and over and over again a few years back. It ends up being the very first chapter in the book. From there I tied it to a historical figure that I learned about back in a college history class, and built the story around him. The First Emperor of China is little-known in the United States, but he is truly a fascinating figure.

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?

Being new to the industry I knew that it was a major uphill battle to try and find a traditional/trade publisher. But I tried for about 8 months. Being an impatient person I did not want to wait any longer, so after rejection letter #20 I decided to go the self-publishing route.

The benefits of going the self-publishing route would certainly include the ease of it all. The company I went with, Virtual Bookworm, was very responsive, answering my many amateurish questions with a smile. They also put everything together for me and I had to do very little during the process. When I finally got a hardcover and paperback copy of my novel in my hands I was impressed. The quality was something that I was a little worried about, but they did a superb, professional job. I would be proud to have it sitting next to others in a Barnes and Noble bookstore somewhere in the world.

The drawbacks would be what most authors run across when they go this route. First, it is money out of your pocket. Money you may never see again, because it is such a difficult market to get your foot into. People don’t realize that VERY few authors ever really “hit the big time” and make a decent living out of writing. I decided to do it right from the very beginning and I hired my own graphic artist to create the book cover, which I am very happy with, and have numerous compliments on. But that is not cheap, either. Also, and it is an absolute must I believe, but I hired an editor and she did her best to tear it up to help build my novel into a readable story. That is also not cheap. Outside of that, as far as the publisher I chose is concerned, I think the only complaint I would have is that they did very little marketing for me. I have had to do about 98% of the marketing, and that is not something I am accustomed to. But I am learning!

One other thing I thought of is the stigma attached to a self-published novel. Because ANYONE can self-publish a novel, there has been a glutton of terrible novels out there over the years, and given some of the good, legitimate self-published authors a bad rap. It’s a huge hurdle that I am having to overcome, but I am confident I will!

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

Troy Jackson — in the Conservatory with the Lead Pipe

Sorry, that’s my corny attempt at humor. Hey, my four-year-old finds me funny….sometimes!

No, as I mentioned before I would say I began to “professionally” write a couple of years ago. After reading and doing a great deal of research on how the whole process goes, what sort of pitfalls to avoid, etc. I put together a vision of exactly what I was going to do, from start to finish. And it ended up happening almost exactly how I envisioned it. And yes, The Elementals is my first publication.

6) What do you consider to be the most challenging part of the creative process?

The most challenging thing would be finding the time and not getting so easily distracted. I laugh at myself often, saying that I have “writer’s ADD”. I might begin writing, and then my wife, my dogs, my daughter, something on TV, some dorky computer game, or many other things distract me.

7) What is the part of the process that comes the most naturally to you?

The actual writing. Or I should say the first draft. I picture the scene playing in my head like a movie scene, and then begin to write it. I can fill in the blanks later if I need more description.

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?

Robert Jordan, author of the greatest fantasy series of all-time (in my humble opinion), The Wheel of Time. Unfortunately, Mr. Jordan passed away in 2007 and we will never again hear further tales.

9) All writers face rejection at some point. What is your most memorable (either in terms of a painful lesson or funny anecdote) experience that came about through rejection? What did you take away from that experience?

Nearly all rejection letters that I received (and what I read from other authors out there that got similar replies) were form letters. “Thank you for submitting your novel, Mr. Jackson, blah blah blah, but it was not for me.” Or perhaps “I could not do it justice.” Unlike some authors, I don’t get mad. I learn from it. I understand that agents and publishers receive THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of queries every year, and they have very little time to grab what they feel is the cream of the crop. Besides, an agent has to be very careful, because it is their neck on the line, their reputation on the line, when they peddle an author’s work to a publisher. So you really have to stand out and have something very marketable. Even the best authors out there will tell you they were rejected dozens, if not hundreds of times before they ever found someone to take them on.

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? Ultimately, where do you see yourself with your writing further down the line?

Quit being so distracted. In the near future, the next couple of years I plan on completing The Elementals trilogy. After that, I have a dozen other ideas for novels that I would like to put pen to paper on.


11) You maintain a blog where, among other things, you interview other authors about their creative experiences. What have you learned through doing this? Has getting to know other authors and listening to their stories helped you improve as a writer, or feel more inspired?

My blog is housed on my main website at: http://www.tempestworks.com. I have seen other authors and bloggers interview authors and other members of the industry, and I thought it would be a fantastic way to meet others with similar aspirations. Learning from others’ experiences, I feel, is a great way to improve my own writing.

12) What’s your Zodiac sign?

Virgo

13) 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.


Website/blog

Goodreads

The Elementals on AMAZON

The Elementals on Barnes and Noble

Facebook

Twitter

Thank you for having me!



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I’d like to thank my fabulous guest, Troy Jackson, for stopping by to chat about all things literary, and his well-reviewed publication. He really is a wonderful indication of the positive direction in which the indie publishing scene is headed, one focused on more imaginative and higher quality works, rather than the desire to sell poorly edited 99 cent Kindle books. It has been a pleasure to speak with someone intelligent and insightful, and I hope many of you–especially those who love sci-fi and fantasy– will take the time to read his work. Also, do take the time to explore Troy’s blog, as both the aesthetic appeal and content are certain to draw you in.

I’m looking forward to seeing you all next Sunday, where we’ll have a change of pace, and our guest author will be composing a post especially for this segment rather than doing a traditional interview.

Are you an author or other creative being who’d like to be featured on my Sunday Literary Libations corner in some fashion? Don’t hesitate to drop me an e-mail at ladyguenevere@gmail.com

I’ve been interviewed over at the Savvy Indie today! For those who like your life with a dash of motivation and positivity (I’m not sure what they wanted with *me*. :P ), or just need a day that’s more Alayna-fied, hop on over and read. (but why does everyone forget my hyphen?)

For some mysterious reason, Facebook will not let me post about the awesomeness that is me. Or, rather, it’s the Savvy Indie they have a problem with. Apparently, the link has been blocked for being “spammy” and “unsafe”, and I’m not sure why…other than the site deals with social media and selling things. (like books.) I,of course, visited the page and nothing bad happened–no pop-ups, no spam boxes, no warnings about malicious content.

Uh-oh. Maybe *I* am the malicious content.

Come read about me as I attempt to put a positive spin on the world, while speaking with a motivational coach and writer. Isn’t that an odd enough combination to get your attention. Visit and read about ME. :P You know you want to!

I’ve decided to start a regular feature here on Jaded Elegance where each Sunday, I’ll provide book reviews of things I’ve read lately, post an author interview with another writer, or have a literary guest blogger lend a new voice to this page for the day. This idea came out of hanging out on some of the message boards on Goodreads, which is a fabulous community for those who love books, but even more so for those who write them. Earlier in the month, a fellow author did an interview with me regarding the publication of Ophelia’s Wayward Muse, and I was inspired by finding a community of creative spirits who are supportive rather than competitive.

My first interview is with a lovely woman by the name of Kerry Louise Connelly, and her latest work is called Observation City. I chose her as my first author to feature on here because I think she and I have very similar styles, in terms of not only how we write but the subjects that inspire us to write. Therefore, if you like reading what I put up here on a regular basis, or you enjoy my creative prose, you’re the type of person who should immediately order your copy of Observation City.



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Let’s learn a bit more about the author, 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’m an English born Australian author, currently still living in Australia – but who knows, may have plans to re locate in the future. My current title ‘Observation City’ is out now and has just been picked up by some other terrific online book retailers so it is easily findable, it’s a fun and easy read that encompasses 21 pieces about human behaviour and relatable life situations, written with humour. My latest project is a non-fiction story, ‘Shaken’: A story of emotional abuse and depression, which will be due out in the coming months.

2) If you don’t mind, share a little bit about your latest book? What is it about your writing that makes it stand out from the pack?


‘Observation City’ is a fun, relatable book which was originally aimed at women but I have found a lot of men are enjoying it also which is wonderful. It is told with raw, often sarcastic, understandable humour that I hope readers will enjoy.


‘Shaken’ is a different piece all together. It is a story of emotional abuse and depression, that is not only inspired by my own experiences with the topic, but is interspersed with informative material that may help those who are also involved in a confusing emotionally abusive situation and/or are dealing with a form of depression.

By talking to my reader and being honest and raw, I hope that is what will stand me ‘out from the pack’, I also encourage readers to contact me with any messages that I aim to always respond to.

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


‘Observation City’ was written over a 2 year period and inspired by my own experiences that of friends and of strangers who seem to talk a little too load about their lives in public!

‘Shaken’ has been inspired through my own experiences with emotional abuse and depression and my learning to understand and work through the experience and illness.

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 take full creative control and publish myself. Writing has never been about seeking world-wide fame for me or making a ton of money – as any author or artist will know, if you are seeking only money through your craft- you are in the wrong craft!

I love having the creative control to tell my story the way I want and to reach out to readers through my very own words, instead of being censored or edited by large publishing companies. It also gives me the freedom of choice to work in the cover design process. It really is a well-rounded artistic experience. The drawback is self-marketing, it is a whole other industry in itself, however a very good learning experience.

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

I’ve always loved writing, ever since a child. My favourite school subjects were English and art/ drama/music etc., and I would constantly be writing. I have worked as a casual journalist and in radio broadcasting – where I would of course formulate articles and also in the radio industry I was able to interview upcoming talent and write a 12 piece film review series which broadcast to 180 community stations Australia wide.

‘Observation City’ is my first published book title.

6) What is the part of the process that comes the most naturally to you?


Automatic writing, I just write from an idea to the page.

7) What do you consider to be the most challenging part of the creative process?


Structure. Learning how to formulate your ideas and words into a well maintained creative structure that the audience can follow and enjoy.

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?


Books themselves inspire me rather than a specific author, however I have to say author Alice Sebold’s work on ‘The Lovely Bones’ is truly mesmerising and captivating. She has such an original way of combining violent tragedy with beauty that you don’t see very often.

The last book that blew me away was ‘The Flock’ by Joan Frances Casey and Lyn Wilson. It quickly became a book I have been raving about to anyone who will listen (ha-ha). It’s an autobiography of a multiple personality. Written in the first person as the core persona AND 19 multiples. Currently I am reading ‘The Road Through Wonderland: Surviving John Holms” ,by Dawn Schiller. You can see I love true stories.

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?

A bit of both, I work dual roles as an education assistant which I love dearly and worked very hard to break into, and of course working as an author is something that also fulfils me. I think and hope I can do both, however, still put a lot of focus into my writing career.

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?

I’d like to be given the chance one day soon to relocate to an environment where I can network with other authors and creative types, and have my work widely read.

Thanks to Kerry for her willingness to grace the pages here at Jaded Elegance today. I have her Observation City on my to-read list, and I hope you’ll do so, too. While there are some really wonderful books published through traditional publishing houses that are getting a ton of press, there is exceptional work coming out of the indie scene, as well. Please do show your support!

If you’re interested in getting to know more about Kerry and her work (I have, and I must say she’s a charming, down-to-earth person who’s the type I’d certainly meet for a coffee and chat any day!), please take the time to check out her author page, follow her on Facebook, or join her lively fan base on Goodreads.



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Observation City is easily available at a number of retailers. Books can be bought through CreateSpace, Amazon, Amazon UK, Book Depository (based in the UK, but offers free worldwide shipping), and of course, Barnes & Noble

A great “thank you” again to author Kerry Louise Connelly, whose positive and authentic perspective is nothing short of a breath of fresh air. I certainly hope to hear more from her in the future, and perhaps have her back here for a guest post down the line.

Of course, if you’re a book lover who’d like to hear my thoughts on other works or occasionally follow the progress of my own creative endeavours, please join and friend me on my own Goodreads author page.

If you do read Observation City, don’t be afraid to let either Kerry or myself know what you thought of the experience. :) I’m certain she’d love the feedback!

See you next Sunday, fellow book lovers and creative spirits!

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