When I was a little girl, I learned to read at a very early age, around two. I was already a very verbally precocious child; I learned to speak very early on, and by two, loved to sing almost anything. So, when I started “reading books” to people around me, my parents of course thought I was merely repeating the stories I heard, crediting me with a fairly good memory. So, of course, they did what all parents do, and tricked me. They took away all my books and replaced them with new ones I hadn’t read. Of course, I started to read them, and it was official: I was labeled a “gifted child”.

However, I had a fault that would show up in most aspects of my life…I tended to use my gifts more for evil than good. By the time I was about 9, I knew more about sex,marriage, and relationships than many 22 year-olds, courtesy of all the Danielle Steel and Nora Roberts books my mother and aunt left lying about. I learned a lot of British history and developed a lifelong fondness for historical fiction via reading Kathleen Windsor’s often banned “Forever Amber“. I learned about adultery and bad marriages and getting away with murder via “Presumed Innocent” and “Reversal Of Fortune”.

And like most pre-teens with a dark side who would later become angsty teenagers with dark nails and too much eyeliner, I was obsessed with the dark, Gothic, “this-couldn’t-get-any-more-wrong” stories from V.C. Andrews, particularly the “Flowers In The Attic” series.

For those who haven’t read V.C. Andrews, they are written on about a 9th grade reading level, but are full of things you don’t want your pre-adolescent daughters reading about; violence, sex, always a parent who dies, incest, beautiful women who kill (often their childen), innocent young girls with artistic gifts who get pregnant as teenagers. an evil someone locked in something, adult men who like teenage girls…as many taboos as you can fit into one story.

Of course, all the books and all the series were usually the same, and followed the Victorian gothic “damsel in distress who becomes empowered” model, only set in upper-class Southern society. The haunted mansions didn’t differ much between London and Virginia. Yet, I read them all, and I even remember a great many of them today…even that Flowers In The Attic is this hugely creepy story about the Dollanganger family.

Of course, the first book was published before I was even born, so I was reading some of these books between 10-15 years after publication. If they were scandalous and banned then (I remember having a V.C. Andrews book confiscated for reading it during study hall), I can only imagine the trouble they caused in the 1970’s. I would later learn that most of V.C. Andrews’ books weren’t even written by her; she died when I was only a child, and her estate took over writing the books.

So, of course I was thrilled to see they were remaking this story I never forgot into a cleaned-up, accessible version for cable, broadcast on Lifetime, and starring Ellen Burstyn and Heather Graham (who is a terrible actress, but looks the part.) And when I heard they were debuting the third movie, If There Be Thorns, on Sunday (Easter Sunday, oddly), it was some odd coincidence that the second film was on that same night.

Of course I watched it, and of course it was the same trashy soap opera that the books were, but they reminded me of being 9 years old and absolutely devouring these twisted stories. And although most teenage girls have read V.C. Andrews’ books, especially girls who grew up in the 1980’s or 1990’s, I have a confession to make that is somewhat embarrassing.

Most people who know me knew that when I was very much younger, I fell in love with someone online and flew to meet him—in the days when doing that was weird and taboo and not an MTV show or Match.Com ad. I did so much to try to make a good impression, and I arrived in New Orleans about a day and a half before we agreed to meet. I had left a copy of a V.C. Andrews novel lying on a chair in the little 2 bedroom apartment I was staying in, and didn’t think twice about wanting to read it when he was sleeping or in the shower.

Before we broke up, he told me a few things that had surprised and disappointed him, and one was that I was not as high-brow and cultured as I’d wanted him to believe, because I was 21 and reading V.C. Andrews. *laughs*

I’m now in my early 30’s, and looking forward to a twisted Lifetime movie based on a V.C. Andrews book. Uncultured and low-brow? Perhaps. But nobody in the history of ever said “Hey, I can’t wait to see that War & Peace movie!”.

(* I’ve also read War And Peace)
(** You can’t wait for war so something interesting happens.)

Am I the only one? Who remembers “Flowers In The Attic” as some sort of adolescent rite of passage?

On Thursday night, The Guy I Am Currently Dating sent me a gift on my Kindle: the third book in Juliet Grey’s Marie Antoinette trilogy. By 5:30 AM on Saturday, I’d finished the 400 page book and was lying in bed pondering the French Revolution. *laughs*

I’m not a history buff, by any means, but I love historical fiction. Particularly, there are a few personalities and time periods that intrigue me, and the life of Marie Antoinette is one of them. I own most of the major biographies and works of historical fiction that have been published about her, as well as the court of Louis XVI. I suppose there is just something about her with which I find it easy to identify, something other than her alleged love of fine clothes, parties, and throwing masquerades and putting on plays.

It took me a while to figure out what it was, because the outlandish persona of Marie Antoinette does not much resemble the real person. In reality, she was a petite strawberry blonde who felt self-conscious about not being a natural beauty, not a vain and flamboyant libertine with tall white hair, seeking to always be the centre of attention. She was not very well-read, not academically inclined, and her heart often kept her from following her intuition. She did not drink, did not smoke, ate little, had one long-term love affair outside of her marriage, looked down on mistresses and courtesans, and was actually quite prudish and conservative in her societal views. She loved family life, flowers, and convinced the women of an outlandish French court to walk around in what we call “peasant dresses” because she quickly tired of corsets, stays, petticoats, and the overly adorned way in which both men and women dressed at the time. In short, Marie Antoinette would have had a happier life as a French housewife than as an Austrian queen. Her husband, Louis XVI, was a natural introvert with a terror of crowds of people, a disinterest in sex, drinking, and staying up past 10 PM, an utter dislike of war or violence, and an honest desire to live a quiet life and see everyone happy. It is almost tragic that two people who were so despised that they were used as scapegoats for one of the most senselessly violent times in history were, by nature, ill-suited to everything they were meant to represent.

I think what fascinates me about Marie Antoinette and her life, and what makes it easy for me to identify with her, is this: When it comes to reputation, it doesn’t matter who you are. It is who people think you to be that becomes relevant.

This is something I’ve never really been able to understand, but a way of thinking that has hurt me a great deal in life. I’ve been judged tremendously and lost a great deal in my life simply because of how others perceived me, or what was heard of me “by reputation”. It is easy to say, “Let people talk; what others think of you is not important”. Yet, the story of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI is one of people who were turned into sacrificial lambs on reputation alone. The story of the French Revolution, in its entirety, is that no one person is of more value, respect, or esteem than another—and taking that view to the extreme created conditions where the greatest illustration of equality was that anyone could be killed, on any given day, and no human life meant more than another. In fact, if Juliet Grey’s portrayal is accurate, human life grew to mean nothing at all. The French Revolution began as an “us vs. them” complaint, and turned into a world of mob rule where there were eventually no more sides, no more ideals to fight for, no more plans for a better future, just a daily fight for survival.

It is interesting to note that while Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI, and most of their family, friends, and supporters were executed during the French Revolution, less than a year later, the group of military men and governing officials clamoring for their heads were similarly guillotined. Although the revolution was begun as a statement against the idea of aristocracy and monarchy, and that one class of people should live well while others starved, the death toll amongst all classes of people turned out to be roughly equal. It was death and an utter lack of humanity—to the point where people stopped fearing for their lives as much as they stopped valuing the lives of others— and not politics, that became the great equalizing force.

It is absolutely true that Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI had no idea regarding the proper management of money, or how to avoid war or put an end to a revolution, but they were a pair of teenagers who ascended the throne and didn’t make it to see 40. Juliet Grey describes the various buildings in which the royal family was imprisoned, and even those being full of relics that, if sold, could feed a small town for a year. It is absolutely true that the aristocracy did not consider liquidating a portion of their assets to keep the country from going into debt. However, when Paris and Versailles were under siege, the equivalent of billions of dollars worth of both precious heirlooms and current-day valuables were simply torn apart, smashed, and burned. The idea of holding someone, or a group of people, accountable for unpleasant living conditions was more important that sensibly working together to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

It is an interesting study in how the ideals of compromise and working for the greater good are not the default tendency of society. Society, when acting on base instinct, is self-protective, irrational, and vengeful.

It is also interesting to make comparisons between the world in which we live today, where an “us vs. them” mentality is created at every possible turn and the people suffer more for that divisive mentality, and the economic instability that turned into the French Revolution.

Marie Antoinette, when informed by an angry mob that the peasants were starving, never said “Let them eat cake”. (the offending statement has been attributed to more than one princess, all of whom lived centuries before Marie Antoinette was born.) In fact, she led the royal family to face a mob that stood in front of the palace with every manner of weapons, and threw her own expensive garments into the crowd. Louis XVI ordered that all the stores of bread in France be freely distributed and casks of wine set up in the streets. It would have happened, had a group of revolutionaries not attacked the palace and tried to kill the family, anyway.

Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were degraded in the worst of ways (the charges against her included incest with her own son, who was half-starved and beaten into signing an affadavit that he was molested by both his mother, and the King’s spinster sister Elisabeth. Elisabeth was only 30 when she was executed.), and their “trials” were shams that only prolonged their suffering. There was no doubt that no member of the royal family with any power or connections would be allowed to live. However, since the new regime removed both class and religion from the equation, it paraded around the idea that the law itself was supreme.

This, of course, was an exercise in hypocrisy. Marie Antoinette’s lawyer refuted every charge against her, proved most of the 141 witnesses against her provided false testimony, and did not find a shred of incriminating evidence. It didn’t matter, as jurors feared to not find her guilty or vote for her execution. Shortly after her death warrant was issued, her lawyer was arrested. In the trial of Louis XVI, the jury struggled with the issue of whether or not to execute or exile the former King. In the end, the vote that led to execution was the king’s own brother-in-law, a fellow aristocrat who lived a live of decadence on par with that of Marie Antoinette.

The irony is that both Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were guilty of their crimes. They were both charged with treason, and conspiring with foreign enemies against the state. They did, and often. Every plot devised failed, typically because conspiracies involve trusting numerous people, and many people either turned on the royal couple or abandoned them in time of need. Both the royal families of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette provided little or no assistance to the family in the midst of the revolution, fearing for their own safety. It was Marie Antoinette’s lover, a highly decorated Swedish officer, who accomplished the most in trying to save them.

If the law were really supreme during the Revolution, the royal couple should have been executed, as they were indeed guilty. Marie Antoinette, in particular, clung to the idea that royal blood meant something and her aristocratic birth was one thing that could not be taken from her, even as she was paraded to the guillotine in rags, resembling an 80-year-old woman. The problem is that the couple, often taken for being frivolous and dim-witted, were actually quite clever and not a shred of evidence was discovered to prove a guilty verdict.

It is difficult, when reading the biographies of those who lived during the time of the French Revolution, not to feel an intense sense of empathy. People subjected one another, rich and poor alike, to terrors and indignities unimaginable today. Perhaps only the accounts of the Holocaust reflect a time that is as dehumanizing and full of pointless death and suffering. For those like me, who have cried through the musical Les Miserables 30 times and found A Tale Of Two Cities utterly tragic, it’s important to remember that such stories are fictional—but the tip of the iceberg in reflecting the reality of the Reign Of Terror and French Revolution.

For those interested in the time period, Juliet Grey’s Marie Antoinette trilogy is one of the best reads around. Each book is close to 500 pages, but beyond addictive.

Of course, I’d like to open up my blog post today by linking you to a blog that discusses one of my all-time favourite topics: me.*laughs* While I’m perhaps not quite *that* egocentric, I did enjoy the interview that the lovely Megan Cashman posted with me, earlier in the week. She typically only interviews novelists, and while I hope to have that particular title one day, I’m glad she found me fascinating enough to make an exception. If you haven’t, please visit her page and read as we chat about what it’s like to be someone who is still publishing poetry in 2013, and believes that crowd-sourcing is the future of the indie artist. (In fact, perhaps it’s the future in general, as it gives established artists the freedom to *become* indie artists and pursue projects and passions that aren’t considered widely marketable.)

If you missed it, I also participated in the All-Authors Blog Blitz, where I was interviewed by a charming woman across the pond in Dublin named Paula Black. Her site, Raven & Black, is really geared towards readers of gothic erotica–and while I neither read nor write gothic erotica, it’s safe to say there’d be nobody on the planet shocked to learn that I did. Yet, I had the strangest writer’s block in trying to do a guest introduction for the page. I simply decided to share that struggle, and it came out in a rather humourous fashion, if I do say so myself. Hop on over and visit me in what seems a little like home, surrounded by black and crimson. ;P

Thanks so much to Paula and Megan for having me as a guest!! I’ve really been slacking on my Sunday author interviews lately, but it seems there are only so many hours in the day, and on my introverted days, I spend a majority of them writing. Earlier today, I began communicating in one word sentences along the lines of “Words. Difficult. Tired. Brain. Point. Unimportant”.

Why have I been working so much, you ask? As I alluded to in the last blog entry, but did not fully explain because it was another author’s day in the spotlight here, I had some last minute news tossed in my direction. Perhaps about a week ago, I was informed in the middle of July that I was going on a family vacation, and then home to visit my parents. I was also informed I’d be expected to pay for my part of the trip and backing out of going home was not optional, as I hadn’t been in two years, and my mother’s health is very bad. I’m not sure if it’s her physical health or her mental state, but her last stroke left her unable to walk without assistance and talking with her is certainly a labour of love, as it takes her ages to find the words to string together a sentence. It is one case in which my highly intuitive personality and active listening skills come in handy, because I’m able to finish her thoughts for her. Still, for a highly impatient person like myself, it’s a challenge.

On top of paying for the trip, the expense is compounded by the fact that I need to find a dog sitter. When I first agreed to take care of my dog, whom I love (but let’s face it, I’m not terribly good at taking care of things, nor am I the most nurturing person around.), I had plenty of people who were willing to take her when I was out of town, help out with getting her places, etc. These days, not a single one of those friends is available, and I’m left in the position of being a single parent. I have numerous things on my calendar each year that take me away from home for at least a few days at a time, and I can’t give up my life because I have a dog and everyone who was so eager to help is suddenly like, “I’m sorry, I wish I could”. So, the result is that the cost of every trip effectively doubles, because I have to find a pet-sitting solution. This has most definitely sent me into “working overtime” drive, which for me, means putting words on the screen as frequently and eloquently as possible.

I’m a bit nervous about the trip, because I’ll be returning to the Jersey Shore, and then to Philadelphia. This is where I got very sick in the first place, and because I didn’t get treatment when I needed it, my body had a particularly rough time with panic attacks and unrestrained adrenaline. I also didn’t get much support from my family, who thought I was being dramatic and inconvenient and attempting to be the centre of attention (when in reality, I needed to be in the ER, hooked up to IVs and heart monitors.) It was the beginning of one of the toughest experiences of my life, and I am afraid that, having a history of suffering from PTSD, revisiting these places will trigger negative physical symptoms. I understand this is simply a fear and there is no logical reason to assume this will happen, but I still have very bad days, health-wise. Thinking about this trip causes me anxiety in advance, but I feel obligated to do it, because when someone says “Your parents may not have that much time left”, you can’t just continue to ignore the fact that your family exists because you don’t get on with them too well.

There is an intuitive voice in my head that tells me it is time to go home, because it may be my last “normal” trip home. I do not know if this is because of my mother’s deteriorating health, or because I wonder if I am the one who may not be around next summer. All I know is it seems a lot like saying goodbye to something I lost a very, very long time ago. “Home” hasn’t been something I’ve had for a large part of my life, and so it’s hard to visit my family’s home and pretend it is in someway mine. It feels so much like visiting strangers, and I realise that’s because sadly, they are.

Of course, I’m still on flight restriction due to my inner ear disorder, which means taking the bus everywhere I go. So, I figured that if I have to do all this work and deal with things I’d rather avoid, I’m going to take my time coming back and spend a few days with people I really *want* to see. I planned a route that allowed me to visit some of my favourite people in four different cities, even if not for a terribly long time (I must say that I appreciate good friends and free Welcome Rewards points for making the trip easier, and people who like me enough to rearrange busy schedules just to see little old me. It’s definitely not the quantity of time you get to spend with the people you value, but the quality. :) ) I’m actually a pretty organized, logical trip planner—a quality that also comes out when I put together events—which is contrary to how I live much of my actual life. I don’t necessarily like being informed I need to travel at the last minute, because I plan my life in advance, but when last minute things happen, I like to make the most of them and enjoy them. However, every time I travel, there’s always an unexpected something going awry…and a lifetime of travel has taught me that organization is a huge way to cope with the unexpected.

I’m also planning to be a minimalistic traveler this time around, as I’m not as strong as I once was, and have no intentions of schlepping 50 pounds of luggage up and down the East Coast. If finances were not a concern, I’d likely take the advice of a friend of mine and “always just take an empty suitcase. You’ll find new things to bring back, and you’ll value them more because they’ll remind you of the places you’ve been, the people you’ve met, and the things you’ve seen.” A wonderful perspective, but, well, she makes more money than I do. Once I become famous for…you know, whatever I’m destined to be known for….perhaps this will be the perspective for me.

So, there’s that, and in between, I have some events for my social group, catching up with the people here in Atlanta I like, and of course, the return of “Big Brother”.

Every so often, there’s a season that makes me glad I didn’t reapply for the show that year (I was a finalist for Season 1, which tells you exactly how old I am. *laughs*), and each year, I get a correspondence reminding me that I am on file with CBS and asking me to submit updated materials. This year, they’ve managed to pick a lot of shallow, vapid Hollywood kids (even if they come from all over the country), and the “old lady” of the house is 37. In addition to lowering the average age by a decade, it’s obvious that many of these people are obsessed with their physical appearance and the physicality of others, and talk about little else. I love Big Brother, but I have to wonder if they accidentally swapped buses with MTV and got the finalists for “The Real World”, instead?

Rachel Reilly, one of my favourite redheads (and former winner of the show), is not on this season. However, her spirit is there, somewhat, in the form of her sister Elissa. Sadly, like Rachel, Elissa seems to be a divisive personality and people are already campaigning to get rid of her in the first week. I truly hope that doesn’t happen, because I need some valid reason to watch the show this season. I’m sure it may improve over time, and once some of the more vapid characters are sent packing, but it’s truly shaping up to be a weak season. On top of that, Showtime dropped its 3-hour per night “Big Brother After Dark”, which was one of the main reasons I started subscribing to Showtime two years ago. The show is now 2 hours and on the TV Guide Channel, which is just atrocious. They censor everything, and half the time, they simply cut conversations. If the show was a B-plus on Showtime, it’s barely getting a passing grade on its new network. It will be quite sad if I completely lose interest.

There’s my recap, and what’s been going on in my world! If I have any reason to look forward to vacation, it’s that sitting on a bus is definitely much needed “downtime” (if only “down” meant asleep!), and I will need to recharge my batteries to get excited for all the fun (albeit tiring fun) that goes on in September and October in my world. I just need to convince myself that sun will not kill me, and I am not *actually* a vampire. ;P

I’ll see you all on Sunday, when “Literary Libations” will be back with a charming and interesting author you’ll be delighted to get to know! (nope, it’s not me. ;P)

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.

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.)

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.

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.


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:


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


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.

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.

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.

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.

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:




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. :)

I am a little late in posting this Sunday’s “Literary Libations”, but it seems that this weekend ended up being filled with libations of other sorts! There was a lot on the social calendar for this weekend, and my Saturday went by in a bit of a blur, without much free time to be had. We planned a 1970′s murder mystery party (smaller than the one I had for my birthday, but whether it was due to the script, the venue, or the combination of people attending, it actually turned out to be more complicated to get 16 people ready to act out a game than it was for a group of 30), and although The Guy I Am Currently Dating did most of the work, murder mysteries are actually extremely complex events. People always cancel at the last minute (we had 4 friends cancel on less than 24 hours notice), and it’s really analogous to putting on a play and having cast members all call in sick.

I try very hard not to get frustrated, as I know this is going to happen at every event, but in the world of theatre, the saying “The show must go on” reigns supreme. I’ve made it through a show with laryngitis (Ricola is a temporary fix), with a few broken toes (sustained in Act 1 when a set piece ran over my foot.), with a fever of 103, with migraines, after sobbing all day because my personal life was a mess. and even when an immediate family member was in the hospital with a life-threatening injury.) I take the same approach to event planning. If I make the commitment, there are just very few instances in which I won’t show up. A few weeks ago, I was screaming and crying and having a horrible fight with my boyfriend at 7:30. By 8, I’d fixed my makeup, put on my social smile, and was hosting a dinner for 15. Even the night my pulse was so high and I was so dizzy I had a hard time standing and walking, I still made it through two or three hours of the planned event before we went to the ER.

I often feel unappreciated, because organizing events means you have to be “The show must go on” person, the person who is there and on time and organized and congenial, no matter what…but everyone else isn’t under the same obligation. People cancel when they’re sick, when they can’t afford to go out, when they don’t feel well, when they’ve had a bad day, when it rains, and when they’re tired. I’m normally a very empathetic person, but I think after years and years of a perspective of “You just have to work it out, no matter how you feel.”, I lack some of the requisite ability to understand why people cancel at the last minute. It’s just that that’s never been an option for me. Even when I was very, very ill for nearly a year, I still forced myself to plan events. It bummed me out that I couldn’t always stay out late, or drink with my friends, or go to the club or a concert…but I felt like if I didn’t hold on to the important things in my life, I really would lose everything. I felt as if, even if I were very ill and wondered if I might die, I still wanted to be remembered as the kind of person that did things to make other people happy. However frivolous, perhaps entertaining people is just my little way of trying to make my immediate world a better place. I am sometimes sad, because I wonder if anyone sees that, or thinks about it at all. I think most people just think “Alayna doesn’t really like to sit still.”

If I ever cancel anything on less than a few days’ notice, you know something really bad has happened. It’s hard for me to forget that things that, for me, require a lot of time and work and energy, are optional fun activities for everyone else. I definitely feel for professional party promoters and event planners, because getting everything in order and then counting on people to show up is a really tall feat. In the end, it almost always works out…but, I mean, people “no-show” and cancel the day of for seated wedding receptions. I’m pretty sure I would have a nervous breakdown. *laughs*

In any case, after last night’s event and some well-deserved drinks after everyone was gone (The Guy I Am Currently Dating made us leave early, which for me, is 2 AM. :P ), I managed to come home, get some sleep, and then get up to attend his Meetup. I am a firm believer in karma, because a friend we don’t see very often had forgotten to bring cash for food. I suggested to The Guy I Am Currently Dating that we lend him a few bucks for lunch, especially because he’s a young kid whose life has been in major upheaval this year, and I really feel for him. After we told him not to worry about the situation, we’d cover him, it happens…we met a bunch of lovely new people, and some of them decided to buy lunch for the entire group of people who were still in attendance at the end of the event. They didn’t tell anyone. When people went to pay the bill, the waitress just mentioned someone else had already taken care of the tab. I thought that was so incredibly awesome. It’s actually pretty rare when you see someone practice a random act of kindness for someone who isn’t a good friend, and it kind of restored my faith in the potential for people to really be genuinely nice towards one another.

However, none of this has anything to do with this week’s guest interview, except to explain why I am so late! :) I’ve certainly not forgotten, because I’m thrilled to have author Leigh Boyer as my guest on “Literary Libations” today. Leigh (which is a pen name, as the author has chosen to make the protagonist of her novel the actual author of the novel, allowing her to take on a life of her own.) is an incredibly accomplished woman in a number of different fields, and can definitely hold her own in any conversation. I’ve immensely enjoyed getting to know her via e-mail over the past few weeks, and her novel,
“From Wall Street With Love”
is well-written, engaging, and entertaining.

I asked Leigh to chat a bit about being an author who not only is quite knowledgeable in the field of finance and economics, but a highly-educated, well-traveled Francophile with a penchant for James Bond. I have no doubt that after reading her interview, you’ll have found a new book to rush out and read.

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 the heartland of this great country but now I live in the most powerful city in the world. I am currently writing the continuation of Leigh’s adventures.

Unlike some of the other writers I’ve profiled, I’ve actually been privileged to read your latest work, “From Wall Street With Love”. I found it to be unique, even in assigning it a genre. I’d describe it as part Wall Street expose, part James Bond, part Suze Orman, and part Carrie Bradshaw. What is it about your writing that gives it a unique voice and appeals to readers?

This book is a unique retelling of the life inside one of the “too big to fail” banks during the height of the financial crisis (2008- 2009). Other books have discussed this time period in an academic or analytical way, which quite frankly goes over the heads of most people…myself included. I wanted to write about the emotions, the mood, the craziness, and the real-life experiences of someone going through this period of upheaval.

3) Tell us a little bit about how your latest book came into being. Do you find there’s a certain level of risk in publishing a book where the title character is, essentially, modeled on your own life experiences? What type of feedback have you received about the book, especially from those who know you in real life?

I wanted to blend real-life experience with fun, inventive, fictional plot lines. So, my friends and former colleagues, not knowing what was real and what wasn’t… have often responded by saying, “Wow- does your husband know about your affair?” I then laugh and explain that that part never happened. They are usually very relieved. So, I take it as a good sign that all the experiences were rather believable… seen through the eyes of those who knew me during that period of my life.

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?

My past books, written in my real name (which will stay a mystery), were non-fiction. All three were published by traditional publishers. When it came time to find a publisher for this book, my literary agent was not interested in “chick-lit” and the process of finding another agent was one that I remembered to be very labor intensive. So, I decided to self-publish instead. I was actually totally impressed by the services provided. I highly recommend the experience. Before, I had no control over the book cover for example but this time around, I could control all aspects of the process.

5) Leigh is an interesting, dynamic, and compelling character. In which ways is she a pretty accurate portrayal of who you are as a person, and in which is she an exaggeration or simply a character? Did you find that your understanding of her as a character changed or grew as you moved further into the writing process?

Leigh is my alter-ego. She and I totally share the Midwestern vs. cosmopolitan issues. Her life however is MUCH more exciting than mine. I covet it!

6) When it comes to the creative process, what inspires you? What most made you want to get out there and share this story with the world, and what do you hope others take away from it? Do you feel you have another book waiting to be written?

I am inspired by real-life events that are stranger than fiction. I have regaled my friends and family with my life stories… and I wanted to expand the circle. I think that anyone who has an interest in knowing what it is like to work on Wall Street would want to read this novel.

7) You’re a highly-educated, driven, and successful woman in a career path that’s largely male-dominated. Do you think that our society is making it easier for ambitious and talented women to succeed, even in fields that once were considered “the old boys’ club”? What has been the biggest obstacle that you, as a woman, have encountered on the road to success?

Actually the “old boys’ club” has been quite supportive. I have found the biggest obstacles have been put up by other women. I don’t understand why more women don’t support other women. Give me a room of men anytime.

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?

I love all kinds of “chick lit” books. They are my guilty pleasure… like The Nanny Diaries, The Devil Wears Prada, and the Bridget Jones series. But, a book I am reading now that I can’t put down is Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. Every page shocks me in some way.

9) What do you ultimately hope to accomplish as a writer? For what would you most liked to be remembered?

I would love to be successful in melding a “guilty pleasure” book with a serious subject matter: to be able to inform while entertaining. If I am successful in doing that, I will have accomplished my goal.

10) There are still a great number of younger Americans, even those who are ambitious and focused on being successful and self-sufficient, who do not really understand the role personal finance plays in creating a secure future. Obviously, this is an issue that goes beyond being able to balance a monthly budget and pay bills on time. What is the most important advice you have to give to the 21-40 year-olds out there about creating economic stability during one of the most substantial financial low points Americans have seen in decades?

I think the biggest lesson this recession has taught us is to be prepared for the worst. The sense of permanency that our parents had is gone. No longer do most people work for the same company for their lifetimes. Workers are disposable and so are the companies that employ them. With that said, we need to reduce our debt burden and make sure our emergency savings account is adequately funded because we live in an era of instability and uncertainty.

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?

Take a look at my Pinterest site – you can see for yourself. 

12) What’s your Zodiac sign?

I’m a Libra. I like things in balance and prefer to avoid conflict.

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?

A colleague said this after reading the book, “You have a gift. I know that writing is hard, and not lucrative. I hope you are inspired to write more.” I think her comments are right on. Writers need to write because they love it. If they are doing it just for the money, they may be disappointed. But, if they truly love it and are doing it for that reason – the compensation will come – sometimes in the form of money, sometimes in other ways that are more rewarding. Another thing I would strongly recommend to a new and/or young writer is to ask for help. In my case I hired my former editor from my last non-fiction book. I knew I needed help in writing fiction, since the format and writing is so different. She was brutal in her criticism but so valuable to the final product. I couldn’t have produced this novel without her.

14) When it comes to teaching today’s young women the value of both personal and financial independence, what is the most important thing you’d like for our generation to keep in mind? Other than yours, what books would you recommend to the average 25-year-old woman who wants to take control of her financial life?

With financial independence, you have more control. People who find themselves dependent on others for their financial support are at the mercy of their financial patrons. If you desire to control your own destiny, financial independence is critical. Read “Please Send Money: A Financial Survival Guide for Young Adults on Their Own.” This book teaches young adults the most important money lessons they need to know.

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.

Oh, I’d be delighted if they did that! Anyone can purchase a paperback copy or download a Kindle version from Amazon here. But, if your readers have gotten this far – they should have a little extra treat – here’s a 50% off discount code if they purchase the paperback through CreateSpace (the Amazon-affiliated publishing format I used): Code “WSTF5282” This code is good through the end of June. Hopefully, they will want to add “From Wall Street With Love” to their summer reading lists. I’m still pretty new to the social media thing, but I’ve jumped into the deep end of the pool… Here’s where you can find me online and I welcome any and all comments, friends, fans, etc:

* Website: http://bit.ly/leighboyer

* Goodreads: http://bit.ly/13XwTB0

* Facebook (me): http://on.fb.me/UVn8hB

* Facebook (the Book): http://on.fb.me/YU2CBq

* Pinterest: http://bit.ly/Y8f6zh

* Twitter: @boyerleigh

* Twitter Hashtag: #WallStLove

Leigh Boyer is an accomplished professional with experience in the financial services domain. She is currently Asia Pacific editor for Entrepreneur Today—a magazine dedicated to helping new entrepreneurs make their dreams become reality. She is former Director Of Metropolis Financial’s Office of Corporate Citizenship and oversaw a global commitment to fund financial education projects. Prior to that, she was accepted into the highly competitive internship program with McLean Investments in New York City. She is the author of a critically acclaimed personal finance book, The Metropolis Money Guide.

Ms.Boyer received her Bachelor’s degree in Public Affairs from Stanford University and her Master’s in International Finance from the Sorbonne University in Paris, France. She currently resides in Hong Kong.

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.

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?


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.



The Elementals on AMAZON

The Elementals on Barnes and Noble



Thank you for having me!

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!

It’s been a long week, but it’s Sunday again, so of course that means it is time to grab your favourite beverage, a little snack, and unwind with a little light reading about reading! Last week, my guest was author Kerry Louise Connelly, who gives us a young, urban English-girl-about-town perspective with her book “Observation City”. This week, the kind and gracious Anita Lewis is here to chat with us about a much different type of life, recalling the process of growing up in a small Midwestern American town with a house full of sisters.

In a unique and creative approach to writing a book, Anita and her four sisters actually collaborated on the stories, each writing a piece of each one. The result is that the tales are not from a single perspective, but from a multitude of remembrances of things past. For some reason, the idea made me recall how much I loved reading the
“Anne Of Green Gables”
series as a little girl, and while I never wished I lived in a small town, I envied the simplicity and innocence of a different kind of life than the one I’d always known.

Anita is not only an author, but a successful blogger who can also be found on Goodreads. She is also a very kind and down-to-earth lady who has a natural curiosity about the world around her, and finds time to appreciate the small things. Although she and I come from two very different worlds, I have the sense that she’d find the time to welcome me into her home for coffee and pie, were I to pass through her part of the world!

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

My name is Anita Lewis and I along with my four older sisters wrote the book, “Fluffy, Funny, and Fabulous: a Tale of Five Sisters: We are all originally from Virgil, Illinois which is a very small town in the middle of nowhere. I now reside in Aurora, IL which is the second largest city in Illinois, right behind Chicago.

2)You have a fantastic and interesting blog title. How exactly did it come into being?

My blog title— Our Fanatical Fam—came about because I was looking for something that described our family as I want this blog to be about myself and also to eventually include the things my other sisters and our children are doing too.

I love the word “Fanatical” because it means “passionate” and that is a great description of us. Whatever we do we do it to with enthusiasm and passion.

3)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?

Our book is a collaboration between five sisters. I wrote the beginning of every chapter and then sent it to my other sisters. They would write their memories and sent it back to me. I was the only one who saw the complete book till it was time for editing. I have never read a book that was written this way so that makes it unique and the editing required a great deal of time to make sure each of our sections were fresh and not redundant.

4)When it comes to the creative process, what inspires you to get out there in the world and share your vision with others?

I have always loved to read and writing is something I have always wanted to do, on my bucket list, I suppose. It wasn’t until one of my sisters suggested we write this book that I actually set my mind to doing it now. It is so important that people share their memories with each other and also preserve them for their families and future generations.

5)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 submitted to publishers, looked into indie and self-publishing but this being our first endeavor we decided we needed some expertise. I have no regrets with the way we went and will probably use the same publisher on our next project.

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

Yes, this is our first publication although I write articles for a local newspaper. I first really became passionate for writing when I was in college. The university I went to was really adamant that we become good communicators and writing was emphasized in every class

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

For me the hardest part is deciding what to put in and what to leave out. I get attached to certain thoughts and ideas and then later when I have to look at them objectively I realize that they don’t add to the overall story.

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

I actually didn’t get an answer to this question, so I must assume the whole deal comes fairly naturally to Anita! Either that, or this is not a particularly good question. ;)

9)Not every author is a blogger, and vice versa. What do you feel are some of the advantages and disadvantages of social media? Do you feel that the face of artistic expression is changing with the times?

I love social media. It still amazes me that through blogging, Facebook and GoodReads, I now have friends in other countries and can get input and new ideas with just a few key strokes.

As far as the face of artistic expression, absolutely it is changing. To reach the younger audiences communication has to be quick and almost an in your face sort of thing. That makes it more important to communicate clearly and creatively.

10) 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 John Grisham, all his works. But the last book that really spoke to me was “The Christmas Sweater” by Glenn Beck. Mr. Beck is known for his conservative political views and his very opinionated rantings on all things political but this book was an amazing find. It is just a simple story with a great twist at the ending.

11) 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?

No, writing is not my full time job. By day, I am a manager in a Manufacturing facility in Aurora, IL. We make valves that go into water and wastewater plants. I have always been a very stable person, very down to earth and practical. But as I have gotten older, I have allowed myself to pursue some of my inner passions, writing being one of them.

I have a novel in the works. All I want to accomplish is to entertain, put a smile on someone’s face and maybe make people think a little less about how bad the world is, and a little more about how wonderful life really is.

12) 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 like old movies, Last weekend I happened to see an old Mickey Rooney flick, still funny after all these years. TV shows after they hit Netflix so I can avoid the commercials. Football and Nascar are my favorite sports to watch. I also enjoy walking as a way to relieve stress, see nature and also for my heart.

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

The book, “Fluffy Funny and Fabulous: A Tale of Five Sisters” can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble , and some smaller sites. It is also available through the publisher,Tate Publishing. My website is www.thefivesisters.net, and my blog is Our Fanatical Fam.

A huge thank you to author, blogger, and all-around expressive spirit Anita Lewis for being my guest today on this week’s episode of Literary Libations. I’ll certainly be adding her to my list of blogs, as well as reading her book. I most certainly hope you’ll do so, as well. It may just inspire you to schedule that visit home you’ve been putting off. ;)

I’ll see you all here next week…same place, same time? Is it presumptuous of me to assume that we have a standing date each Sunday? After all, not only am I charming and interesting company, I’m bringing people who are even more so! :)

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.

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.

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.

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!