A Perfect 10 with Kathleen Lopez

A Perfect 10 with Kathleen Lopez

Today we sit down with author Kathleen Lopez to learn about her work and the things that inspire and motivate her.

Please enjoy this edition of A Perfect 10.

If you want to check out past interviews, you can find them in the following links:

A.C. Flory, Steve Boseley, Kayla Matt, Mae Clair, Jill Sammut, Deanna Kahler, Dawn Reno Langley, John Howell, Elaine Cougler, Jan Sikes

Also, if you are an author and you want to be part of this feature, I still have a few slots open for 2017. You can email me at don@donmassenzio.com


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  • Does writing energize or exhaust you?

I find writing to be very energizing.  There is something thrilling about creating events and stories from pure imagination.  There is some work involved, sure, and there are times that it may put a strain as a writer can struggle to get the right words.  My stories are not steeped in historical events, so constructing a world for my characters is quite fun.  It is a labor of love in essence.

  • Do you ever write under a pseudonym? If not have you considered it? Why or why not?

When I started as a journalist back in the day, I did use a pseudonym for my by line.  Initially it was purely to be published.  I found that even in the early 90s, my work as a freelancer got its way to the editor’s desk and prepped for print if I used a male name, Charlie in my case.  As an author, I use my real name.  I prefer people to think of my work coming from me.  Not that there is anything wrong with using a pseudonym for works of fiction, it is just that everything else is crafted, I kind of want people to know that I crafted it.

  • Does a big ego help or hurt writers? Why or why not?

I think whether a writer admits it or not, we do have an ego.  There is a desire to share what’s rattling around in our brains.  The need or desire to get your story out there is not purely a selfless act.  Otherwise, we would not charge for people to read it.  Having people enjoy your work is very satisfying.  It is trying to keep that ego in check when the person who does not like your work; that is the hard part.  I think the ego helps drive you to pursue your passion to write and publish, but can hinder you a bit when you get that bad review.

  • What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

The best money ever spent as a writer is when I go to conventions or travel and get the chance to talk to young readers.  Granted my topics are not for the very young, but when you get in front of teenagers and get them excited about reading, it is a thrill.  Having kids ask you about the process and engage with something other than their cell phones is great.  I have done several events with schools – meet and greets, teach-ins, etc. – and each time it is exciting to me to watch young readers respond to you.  I am about to do an Authors in Schools event in February at an Amelia Island middle-high school.  It is very rewarding to be able to get the chance to talk to younger readers and get them to see that books are not just a homework assignment, but can introduce new worlds to them.

  • What does writing success look like to you? Have you achieved it?

I once did an Author Meet and Greet for my old high school.  The school assembled several students from their English and Writing classes to attend a Q&A session with me.  One student was just overjoyed to meet me.  You would have thought I was at the level of Stephen King or something.  She brought me her composition notebooks to show me her own writings.  She was full on excited that I was there.  I had given her a signed copy of my first book and she was just thrilled.  It was the best feeling and all I did was show up.  It felt, if only for the day, that ‘I arrived’.

  • What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What sources do you use?

My stories are crafted from various collected ideas so there is some amounts of research done to ensure I am writing somewhere near the realm of reality.  I employ Google to get to a lot of credible research material.  I suffer from the ‘Please don’t look at my Internet history’ syndrome.  My murder-mystery/thriller topics lead me to look up some rather interesting searches.  Depending on what I am looking up, I could spend quite a bit of time searching and gathering background information.  My locations for my books are fictional, but I set them in areas that do exist in the real world, so to fully integrate them, I make sure I know the indigenous vegetation or landmarks etc.  I like to think it helps solidify my made up little world just a bit.

  • How do you select the names of your characters? Have you ever regretted choosing a particular name? Why?

I try not to name my characters after people I know.  That can end in tears.  I hear a name or see a sign and that sometimes spurs the creation of a character’s name.  There was this tag on a little doll someone once gave me and it read the company name or something, Breden.  That became the last name of my character Ralph Breden in my first book.  Atterman, another character’s last name in that same book, was a word I saw on the side of a truck that drove by my window as was sitting typing up my story.  With regards to regretting a character’s name, in my first book, the main character’s name was originally Britney.  I had just liked the name.  However, Britney Spears was just coming popular at the time and you heard her on the radio every time you turned it on.  I got tired of hearing her name so much I changed the character’s name to Samantha.

  • What is the hardest type of scene to write?

I think the connecting pieces are hardest to write.  When there is an active scene, and the plot is moving, that can write itself practically.  Once you are at the height of the story, then you are typing like mad.  It is the quiet moments, the scenes between the scenes that are there to push the story along, that tend to be the hardest for me.  I do not like reading those stories that seem forced, so I hope not to write those types of moments.  Connecting the dots, getting the story told without having any major moments or bombshells, those tend to take some doing.  You want to make sure that you write in a way that it is not blatantly obvious you are just trying to get to the next moment.

  • If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?

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My first person would be Stephen King.  He has been my writing idol for so long.  It would be fascinating to hear how he imagines the stories and how the innocent day-to-day life events take a turn into these incredible scenarios.  When the world you are reading takes such a left turn and you are hooked to will believe anything that comes next is totally and utterly possible, that is a talent.  Anything that can start like a normal situation and turn so dire or invoke such unfathomable outcomes is awe inspiring to me.

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My second person would be Carrie Fisher.  When I started working on this interview, it was prior to the most recent events, so this one was a bit hard to put into words without jumping onto any bandwagons.  I have always been interested in her take on the world.  Her writing is what I had always loved.  While she may have been more associated with her film career, her frank and honest take on the world shone through her words.  I often wondered how she must have had to endure in order to get her version out there.  As outspoken as she was, I am sure there were some battles to be won to get her work out in the manner she wanted it.

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The third person would be Amelia Earhart.  Other than the fact that she pushed the boundaries in aviation and for her gender pushing those boundaries, there is the obvious question as to what happened.  I think talking to her about how she perceived the world and her place in it at the time.  I often think of those before us that will never know the everlasting impact and legacy they leave behind.

<> on June 24, 2015 in Berlin, Germany.

The fourth person would be Queen Elizabeth.  I think having her take on the ever-changing world and her place in it would be almost the flip of my conversation with Amelia Earhart.  The Queen has seen the older ways ebb away and the controversy increase as the royalty tries to hold on.  There have been some evolution, but there is still a struggle.  It would prove interesting to hear how or if the older ways will or even should modernize.

  • What platform has brought you the most success in marketing your books?

I have had a hard time with the platforms to be honest.  While Facebook is popular, popularity can be fleeting.  The tide turns when a new format comes around and people become disinterested in what worked yesterday.  Twitter is good as well, but when you have people that follow hundreds and thousands of people, you get lost in the shuffle.  I have my own website, but to try to funnel people to it, the aforementioned Facebook and Twitter, the success is hit or miss.  Honestly, I have found that blogs are becoming my best interest driver.  People will follow blogs or vlogs and will actually invest their time in following up with the things they read or view. If someone is going to take the time to read something that is more than merely 140 characters, they are most likely going to invest time in you, if what they read peaks their interest.  It is all about word of mouth, the review that gets people.  Little to no reviews or bad reviews and people are not willing to waste their time.  That is where the marketing lives, getting other people talking about you for you, that has been the best platform for me.

Kathleen’s Books:

I currently have two releases published with a third on the way–

Between_the_Shades_o_Cover_for_KindleBetween the Shades of Light and Dark (Murder-Mystery)

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00067]Prodigal Son (Thriller/Suspense)

Sweet Child of Mine (Paranormal; due out late spring)

Connect with Kathleen:

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Kathleen-Lopez/e/B00HCMFR4I/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_3?qid=1414761153&sr=1-3

Author page: www.imkathleenlopez.com

Twitter: @imkathleenlopez

Facebook: www.facebook.com/imkathleenlopez

A Perfect 10 with Nick Davis

A Perfect 10 with Nick Davis

Hello,

This is a special mid-week edition of A Perfect 10 with my friend, author Nick Davis. Nick is going to tell us about his latest work and a bit about his inspiration.

Please enjoy this latest edition of A Perfect 10.

If you want to check out past interviews, you can find them in the following links:

A.C. Flory, Steve Boseley, Kayla Matt, Mae Clair, Jill Sammut, Deanna Kahler, Dawn Reno Langley, John Howell, Elaine Cougler, Jan Sikes


Nick Davis

  • Does writing energize or exhaust you?

The more I write, the more I’m energized by what I write.

  • Do you ever write under a pseudonym? If not have you considered it? Why or why not?

I’ve always used my real name. I’ve thought about a pseudonym, but as yet have decided. If I did, my first name would probably be something like Bartholomew.

  • Does a big ego help or hurt writers? Why or why not?

I believe too big an ego can hurt an author, but you do need to at least be confident in your own work.

  • What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

It would have to be the day at the NYS Fair, where I paid a small fee for a space, and tripled my investment for the day.

  • What does writing success look like to you? Have you achieved it.

Success is creating a following. I have more followers on Twitter than any other social media. But real success to me is knowing that a complete stranger sent me an e-mail saying he loved my work, and expects to see more from me.

  • What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What sources do you use?

My latest work required a different kind of research than my sci fi books. I make sure I research the topics well as I write about them, mostly online. My current book required some knowledge of nautical terms and research of weaponry. My previous novels were a lot of scientific terms.

  • How do you select the names of your characters? Have you ever regretted choosing a particular name? Why?

Usually I make them up as I go. My current story, I created the names long ago, when I was just a preteen, and first wrote it. A couple of names were too similar, so I had to change them.

  • What is the hardest type of scene to write?

Although I write a lot of battle scenes, I find they are still the hardest to capture the actual atmosphere of the moment.

  • If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?

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Sean Connery- Have you ever regretted playing James Bond?

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William Shatner-What was the funniest thing you ever did on the set of Star Trek?

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JRR Tolkien- What inspired you to write about Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, and Hobbits?

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Stephen King- What keeps your creative process flowing?

  • What platform has brought you the most success in marketing your books?

Word of mouth, and direct sales at fairs, festivals, and book signings.

Find Nick’s Books:

Bargo Lynden

Nick’s Amazon Page:

Nick’s Blog:

A Perfect 10 with Nancy Bell

A Perfect 10 with Nancy Bell

Today we sit down with Nancy Bell to talk about her work and what inspires her to write.

Please enjoy this edition of A Perfect 10.

If you want to check out past interviews, you can find them in the following links:

A.C. Flory, Steve Boseley, Kayla Matt, Mae Clair, Jill Sammut, Deanna Kahler, Dawn Reno Langley, John Howell, Elaine Cougler, Jan Sikes

Also, if you are an author and you want to be part of this feature, I still have a few slots open for 2017. You can email me at don@donmassenzio.com


NancyMBell2015

  • Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Good question, it depends on what I’m writing. If I’m caught up in the midst of a fiction novel the characters just take me along for the ride and it is exhilarating to try and type fast enough to keep up with them. It’s like a huge high and adrenaline rush.  Non-fiction is more cut and dried and not so very exciting. Poetry on the other hand is a lovely relaxing experience, an almost mystic experience of painting pictures with words and evoking magic.

  • Do you ever write under a pseudonym? If not have you considered it? Why or why not?

I have written under a pseudonym in the past. I dabbled in erotica and so used a different name than my main stream persona. It is important to keep some genres separate.

  • Does a big ego help or hurt writers? Why or why not?

Personally, I think a big ego is a detriment to a writer. It often means a person rejects constructive criticism and good advice. It can also be off putting to the readers all writers are hoping to woo.

  • What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

By far the best money I have ever spent as a writer is to attend The Surrey International Writers Conference every year. It is an amazing event and a wonderful opportunity to network with other writers, but successful and not to successful.

  • What does writing success look like to you? Have you achieved it?

Originally, I would have said getting published by a traditional publisher, I have achieved that. So now I guess, on a monetary level I would say success would be making the New York Times Best Seller List. However, in reality, success is being able to pursue my muse and bring my stories to life and send them out into the world for others to enjoy. The creating is the success.

  • What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What sources do you use?

I love research! The book with determine the amount of research. For books in a series, the first book requires the most research while the others will pull mostly from the original research. For a historical novel a lot of time is spent checking and re-checking facts and then deciding when and how much to weave into the plot.

  • How do you select the names of your characters? Have you ever regretted choosing a particular name? Why?

In some cases the characters give me their names. In others, like Laurel’s Quest the first book in the Cornwall Adventures, I took names from the Celtic Tree Ogham as Celtic legend and myth play a large part in the stories.

  • What is the hardest type of scene to write?

For me personally, war or fight scenes. I’m not a strategist by any stretch. Also, some sex scenes can be challenging. How much is too much, how much is not enough? This also depends on the genre of course, romance will be more in depth than say YA where it might only be eluded to and not described in any way.

  • If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?

Brian-Boru-269x300Hmmmm. Brian Boru the last High King of Ireland, I’d pick his brain about what life was like in that era and maybe find out why bog people were buried/sacrificed.

delint

Charles de Lint, a Canadian author of urban fantasy with a healthy twist of Celtic legend. I’d just love to talk with him and maybe listen to him and his wife play fiddle.

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Ithell Colquhoun a mystic who lived in Cornwall, U.K. and wrote a great number of books. It would be interesting to speak with her about a number of topics, most of them esoteric.

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Hamish Miller, famous dowser, blacksmith and author. I had a brief friendship with him before he passed and would welcome the opportunity to share thoughts with him once more.

  • What platform has brought you the most success in marketing your books?

I have found speaking engagements at local bookstores and libraries as well as conferences have been the best vehicle to get my name out there. I also have a presence on Facebook, do a monthly post on my publisher’s blog and a Twitter account.

Find Nancy’s Books:

A Longview Romance series consists of three books at the moment:

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Storm’s Refuge  https://www.amazon.com/Storms-Refuge-Longview-Romance-Book-ebook/dp/B00P9UO0TI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1483391788&sr=8-1&keywords=Nancy+M+Bell

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Come Hell or High Water  https://www.amazon.com/Come-Hell-Water-Longview-Romance/dp/177299376X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1483391834&sr=8-2&keywords=Nancy+M+Bell

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A Longview Wedding  https://www.amazon.com/Longview-Wedding-Romance-Book-ebook/dp/B01MA5ZT7O/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1483391834&sr=8-9&keywords=Nancy+M+Bell

CanadianBrides-Ontario-SMALLI’m currently working on a book in a series dedicated to Canada’s 150th Birthday. One novel in each of the provinces and territories, written by a different author. Mine is set in Ontario. The series is being promoted by the publisher, Books We Love. The first book in the series released in December 2016, and is set in Alberta.  The Ontario offering is set to release March 1, 2017 and is titled His Brother’s Bride.

Connect with Nancy:

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NancyMBell/

 Twitter:  @emilypikkasso

 Website:  http://www.nancymbell.ca

 Books We Love Blog where I post on the 18th of every month: http://bwlauthors.blogspot.ca/

A Perfect 10 with Jan Sikes

A Perfect 10 with Jan Sikes

Today we sit down with Jan Sikes for the latest edition of A Perfect 10. She shared some of her thoughts on writing and other aspects that make her an author.

Please enjoy this edition of A Perfect 10.

If you want to check out past interviews, you can find them in the following links:

A.C. Flory, Steve Boseley, Kayla Matt, Mae Clair, Jill Sammut, Deanna Kahler, Dawn Reno Langley, John Howell, Elaine Cougler

Also, if you are an author and you want to be part of this feature, I still have a few slots open for 2017. You can email me at don@donmassenzio.com


jan-sikes

  • Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing energizes me. When I get into the flow of writing, I forget about everything around me and often forget to stop and eat. Usually, my back will start complaining after some time and I have to force myself to get up and leave my story.

  • Do you ever write under a pseudonym? If not have you considered it? Why or why not?

I’ve never considered writing under a pseudonym. I have worked hard to build my author platform and using my real name seemed to be the right thing – especially since my stories so far, are true stories and somewhat biographical.

  • Does a big ego help or hurt writers? Why or why not?

In my opinion, a big ego never helps anyone, writer or not. I think there is a certain appeal to readers if you are down-to-earth, human and reachable. Besides, if you have a big ego in this crazy business, you are sure to get some big let-downs.

  • What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

The best money I’ve ever spent as a writer was in joining two organizations who promote and support authors. Because I live in Texas, many years ago, I joined the Texas Association of Authors and through that organization, I have had lots of help marketing my books. Plus, I have won several writing awards through the association. The other organization that has been an amazing boon to me is the Rave Reviews Book Club. I got so many more reviews on all my books when I joined this club and became an active participant. Like everything in life, you get out of it what you put in but the pay-off has been tremendous for me.

  • What does writing success look like to you? Have you achieved it?

To me, writing success comes when you receive recognition on some level for your writing – either through winning writing contests or through receiving rave reviews from your readers. For example, one reviewer referred to me as a wordsmith and though I’d never thought of myself in that way, it made me take a closer look at my writing and strive harder to continue to improve and live up to that title.

  • What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What sources do you use?

Since my four published books are all true stories, and one that I lived through, there wasn’t a whole lot of research to do. However, in the second book, The Convict and The Rose, I had to research a certain aspect of the story that involved contacting the Federal Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas. I believe that every story, fiction or non-fiction, needs to be as close to accurate as possible. I am currently working on my first fiction book and have had to do some research on company mergers. The internet is my go-to when I need to find information. There is nothing that you can’t find the answer to in this age of technology.

  • How do you select the names of your characters? Have you ever regretted choosing a particular name? Why?

That’s an interesting question and one that I’d be happy to answer. When I started writing my story, I tried it from first person using our real names. It didn’t take me long to realize that I couldn’t do it. I was too close to the story. So, I came up with fictitious names for myself and the other main character. When I was born, my mother had wanted to name me Darlene. My brother, who is several years older, protested and said I had to be named Janice (my given name), so she did. But knowing that story made it easy to come up with a fictitious name for myself which wound up being Darlina Flowers. The other character in the stories, Rick Sikes, is named Luke Stone and that name just came out of the blue. Both names fit our character personalities to a “T.” I’ve never regretted choosing the character names for that reason. Once I had the idea of telling the story through these characters, the entire process got much easier.

  • What is the hardest type of scene to write?

Without any question, the hardest type of scene to write is a love scene. Unless you write erotica, there’s a fine line that you don’t dare cross. The solution I’ve found is to focus on the emotions of the people making love rather than the act itself.

  • If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?

Oh my goodness! The first name that comes to mind is Jacqueline Kennedy. I always admired her. She had goddess-like qualities. I would want to ask her what her secret was to always appearing composed and in control despite the difficult situations she had to deal with.

The second one is the famed outlaw, Bonnie Parker. I’d want to know the real love story between herself and Clyde Barrow.

Third, I’d love to sit down and talk with John Steinbeck and I’d ask him what inspired him to write his epic story, “Grapes of Wrath.”

And Fourth, is Diana Gabaldon. It would be fascinating to hear how she came up with the idea for the Outlander books and where she did her research.

  • What platform has brought you the most success in marketing your books?\

As I mentioned above, The Texas Association of Authors and the Rave Reviews Book Club are two mediums that have been successful for me. Other than that, I’ve had good success through doing public speaking engagements, presenting writing workshops and book signing events. In my opinion it takes several different aspects to successfully market your books. I recently presented a Marketing 101 Workshop to writers in which I covered the basics required to successfully market your work. You simply cannot put your book(s) on Amazon and sit back thinking your marketing work is done. In fact, quite the opposite. Once you’ve finished writing the book, the work really begins. Social Media is a necessity as is blogging and keeping yourself visible in the public eye. There is no easy magic button for marketing.

About Jan’s Books:

flowers_and_stone_3d_cover

FLOWERS AND STONE:

A hot Texas summer in 1970, dim-lit honky-tonk barrooms, a naïve fledgling go-go dancer and a wild rebel Texas musician sets the stage for this story. Can Darlina Flowers ever hope to fit into this new world and even more important, can she trust Luke Stone with her heart?

Luke Stone, a good man who has made a career of bad decisions, finds himself at a crossroads. Fate has sealed his destiny and threatens it all.

online_3d_cover_theconvictandtherose

THE CONVICT AND THE ROSE:

Rebel Texas musician, Luke Stone, loses everything that he treasures with the arrest and conviction for a crime he didn’t commit. Not only is he locked away in a cage, he’s left behind the woman who holds his heart. Broken and alone, Darlina Flowers struggles to go on living without the man she loves so completely. Follow their journey through shackles and chains, drugs and gurus as they fight to find their way to freedom.

home-at-last_3d

HOME AT LAST:

Released from federal prison after fifteen long years, Luke Stone boards a Greyhound bus bound for Texas, for home and the woman who holds his heart. He happily hangs up his neon dreams for a paint brush and hammer. Darlina Flowers has waited her entire adult life to become Mrs. Luke Stone, but will the hardships of starting over with nothing be too much? Their love is tested to the core as the story unfolds.

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‘TIL DEATH DO US PART:

Luke Stone has cheated death more times than he cares to remember. And now, with a chance for a second music career after so many years, he knows he won’t fill the Texas dancehalls and honky-tonks as he’d done in his younger days. Darlina, his rock and anchor, longs to see his dreams fulfilled and vows to do everything possible to help him find success. But, will time allow Luke to sing his last song?

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DISCOVERY

 When all of life is stripped away, left with no freedom except in his mind, Rick Sikes journeys deep inside to discover his true self. He finds the only way to survive hopeless negativity is through creating with his hands and imagination. They confined his body in an iron cage, but could not lock away his mind.

What you’ll find between the covers of this book are expressions of raw emotion…Poems of deep sadness and loss, humorous musings, political wisdom, life observations and tender love from both Rick and Jan Sikes as well as pen-and-ink drawings from a true artisan.

Connect with Jan:

WEBSITE:  http://www.jansikes.com

BLOG:   http://www.rijanjks.wordpress.com

TWITTER:  http://www.twitter.com/rijanjks

FACEBOOK:  http://www.facebook.com/authorjansikesbooks

PINTEREST:  http://www.pinterest.com/jks0851/

Find Jan’s Books:

Website:    http://www.jansikes.com

Amazon:    https://www.amazon.com/Jan-Sikes/e/B00CS9K8DK/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1483060890&sr=1-1

That Amazon Link has All of the books on it. But if you want to list separate links, here they are.

Flowers and Stone:   https://www.amazon.com/Flowers-Stone-Jan-Sikes-ebook/dp/B00G062JBG/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

The Convict and the Rose:  https://www.amazon.com/Convict-Rose-Jan-Sikes/dp/0990617912/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Home At Last:      https://www.amazon.com/Home-At-Last-Jan-Sikes-ebook/dp/B010OSYP3A/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

‘Til Death Do Us Part:  https://www.amazon.com/Til-Death-Do-Us-Part-ebook/dp/B01EBODIYK/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Discovery:   https://www.amazon.com/Discovery-Rick-Sikes/dp/0990617963/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

A Perfect 10 with Elaine Cougler

A Perfect 10 with Elaine Cougler

Today we sit down with author Elaine Cougler. She gives us some insight into her work, her writing process and her personality. Please enjoy this edition of A Perfect 10.

If you want to check out past interviews, you can find them in the following links:

A.C. Flory, Steve Boseley, Kayla Matt, Mae Clair, Jill Sammut, Deanna Kahler, Dawn Reno Langley, John Howell

Also, if you are an author and you want to be part of this feature, I still have a few slots open for 2017. You can email me at don@donmassenzio.com


elaine-low-res

  • Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing does for me what turning on the water tap does. It releases a creative pressure that often I don’t even know is there until I write for 2-3 hours on a new book, blog post, interview, lengthy email or anything else that allows me to experience my words pouring onto a page. A feeling of job well done washes over me at these times as though I’ve come just a little bit closer to explaining who I am to myself and to the world. Teacher, mother, wife, friend, singer—I’ve been all of these things and still am, but nothing quite touches my soul so much as being a writer of published work.

  • Do you ever write under a pseudonym? If not have you considered it? Why or why not?

I write historical fiction and am used to paying close attention to the truth of my story. The details must be correct and if I need to adjust something for purposes of my storyline, I make sure to include notes indicating the actual history. That is probably why I’ve never even considered using a pseudonym. Also the fleeting thought that I’m leaving something of myself behind for my grandchildren demands that they can see my name on my work.

  • Does a big ego help or hurt writers? Why or why not?

Such an interesting question! I’m pretty sure it demands a novel-length answer to consider all the ramifications, but I’ll be brief. Yes and no. While I love the actual writing I also get a lot of pleasure from speaking to large and small groups and talking to individuals afterwards. I sell a lot of books that way. So having the confidence to stand in front of strangers and speak of my book journey, answering whatever questions they might ask does require a bit of ego, I suppose. Some writers really hate crowds and everything that goes with speaking engagements, which can be a detriment.

Now, having a huge ego that forgets the most important thing is the reader/audience, that is not a help in my opinion although I know of one man, now deceased, whose name you would all recognize. When I met him many years ago (he was a first cousin of one of my best friends at university) he was full of himself to the point that we almost shunned him. No one likes a blowhard. Funny thing, though, fifty years later I realize he parlayed his considerable talents into a lifelong career in the entertainment business. And while I was chosen to sing at my friend’s wedding and not him, Alan Thicke rose to stardom. He proved that ego is often pretty darned important. He believed in himself and wasn’t afraid to parlay that into a life.

  • What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

I have been careful about how I spent money along my road to becoming a published author but I have spent it to consistently move myself ahead at particular points along the way. I flew to Vancouver for a fabulous conference for writers just at the time when I needed a roadmap to point my way through the social media maze. I interviewed a lot of the presenters and when I came home started a writing blog with those presenters’ gifts to me as the first posts. I learned so much from them!

More money went out of my bank account for a three-day conference in Niagara Falls, Canada. Here I learned a lot about getting my work out to the world and was asked to join an American writers group which I ultimately found the strength to quit, thereby gaining the confidence to forge ahead trusting in my own decisions a lot more. Those experiences took me way way down the track towards my ultimate destination.

  • What does writing success look like to you? Have you achieved it?

Most days I think I have achieved success in my writing journey as I get another call from a book store asking for more books or someone recognizes me from one of the many talks I’ve given or I get another email from appreciative readers of my books or even when my Google app shows me where my name has been mentioned online. And watching my book sales rise is wonderful. There are, though, always the goals I haven’t even set yet, let alone reached, and those can cause middle-of-the-night doubts. I am, however, happy with where the journey has taken me so far and I’m delighted still to be planning new books and pushing myself to the extreme as I ride the magic writing carpet.

  • What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What sources do you use?

Historicals require loads of research online, in libraries, visiting historical places and finding those nuggets which switch on the imagine lights in my brain and help me find my story. I like to read and read first, researching the history of the times.  When I see my first scene in my head it’s time to start writing. I try to write a 10-20-page story outline at this point but by then getting started is my prime goal. The story unfolds as I write and continue the research. At the bottom of my Word document I put nuggets to use later in the story so I won’t forget them; some of them ride there for months as pages and chapters develop ahead of them. Each day I reread those notes before I start writing that day’s pages. This works well as I don’t have the best memory and I don’t lose sight of ideas I’ve had. As the writing unfolds I know I’m getting close to the end of the novel when I see the sheer volume of those notes shrink.

  • How do you select the names of your characters? Have you ever regretted choosing a particular name? Why?

Of course writing historicals means many of the names are already chosen and I stick close to names from the times for those characters I create. I seem to pull them from my background and give them a tweak or two. For example, my main female character in my first book is Lucinda, shortened to Lucy. I named her for my grandmother’s sister whom I remembered visiting in a hospital when I was a child. Lucinda seemed of an earlier time period. Just lately I borrowed the name and the portly physique of my singing teacher as it, too, seemed to fit in with 1800’s early Ontario—Henry Clark. I made him one of the rebels planning to upset the British (Rebellion of 1837 here in Ontario). So far I’ve not had any reason to regret a name choice.

  • What is the hardest type of scene to write?

For me, the battle scenes were harder to write but reviewers have complimented me on them so I guess I succeeded. Writing scenes with lots of characters in them is difficult as you have to decide what conversation to put in and what to leave out. In one of the scenes in the home of my main characters I wanted to show lots of action but the whole thing could have been pages long. I thought of a camera panning around the room and used that to keep focused even though lots was happening with all the characters. Telling the scene through one character’s point of view is a help as well because he/she doesn’t see or hear everything in the room. For all of these scenes I sit at my desk and imagine I’m the POV character experiencing the scene myself. That keeps it fresh, I think.

  • If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?

I’d love to ask Dolly Madison just what she was feeling as she saved George Washington’s portrait and many others from the British who burned the White House. From what I’ve read of her, she was pretty spectacular and I’d love to hear the history of the times from her lips. I’d enjoy sitting opposite Elizabeth Simcoe, the wife of one of Canada’s governors in the 1700’s. She left behind a fabulous diary, which is full of her paintings and sketches of early Canada and the day-by-day life of her family living in a glorified tent at one point and helping to choose Toronto (York back then) as the capital. Oh, and I’d ask her if they really pulled baskets of salmon and other fish out of Lake Ontario just by dipping the baskets over the side of the boat. I’ve already met one of my living heroes—Sharon Kay Penman—who writes fabulous historical fiction and who lives in the US. We had a 15-minute chat at the 2015 Historical Novel Society Conference in Denver. Fabulous! Finally, I’d love to sit down to a meal with my mother one more time and ask her what she thinks of my books.

  • What platform has brought you the most success in marketing your books?

Writing historical fiction has opened doors for me far and wide as groups linked to the Loyalists and history in general invite me to speak and conduct workshops. Afterwards my book sales soar. Writers’ groups are great fun, too, and book groups, both library and private. I am very happy to answer all of their questions and to help other writers get started. That being said my online endeavors are valuable in that they provide a great place for me to send prospective speaking groups who may need to know more about me and to meet other writers and those involved in marketing writing. All of these things work together and are invaluable to a writer who must market in some way every day in order to find the success he/she is seeking.

About Elaine Cougler

Elaine Cougler is the author of historical novels about the lives of settlers in the Thirteen Colonies who remained loyal to Britain during the American Revolution.

Cougler uses the backdrop of the conflict for page-turning fictional tales where the main characters face torn loyalties, danger and personal conflicts. Her Loyalist trilogy: The Loyalist’s Wife, The Loyalist’s Luck and The Loyalist Legacy.

The Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair selected The Loyalist’s Wife as a finalist in its Self-Publishing Awards. The Middlesex County Library selected the book as its choice for book club suggestions. The Writers Community of Durham Region presented Elaine with a Pay-It-Forward Award.

Elaine has led several writing workshops and has been called on to speak about the Loyalists to many groups. Through her website she writes a blog about the writing and reading world and more. She lives in Woodstock with her husband. They have two grown children.

Connect with Elaine:

Elaine can be found on YouTube and LinkedIn and through the following links: @ElaineCougler   www.elainecougler.com   http://www.facebook.com/ElaineCouglerAuthor

Elaine’s Books:

the-loyalist-legacy_web

The Loyalist Legacy:

After the crushing end of the War of 1812, William and Catherine Garner find their allotted two hundred acres in Missouri Township by following the Thames River into the wild heart of Upper Canada. On their valuable land straddling the river, dense forest, wild beasts, displaced Natives, and pesky neighbors daily challenge them. The political atmosphere laced with greed and corruption threatens to undermine all of the new settlers’ hopes and plans. William knows he cannot take his family back to Niagara but he longs to check on his parents from whom he has heard nothing for two years. Leaving Catherine and their children, he hurries back along the Governor’s Road toward the turn-off to Fort Erie, hoping to return home in time for spring planting.

With spectacular scenes of settlers recovering from the wartime catastrophes in early Ontario, Elaine Cougler shows a different kind of battle, one of ordinary people somehow finding the inner resources to shape new lives and a new country. The Loyalist Legacy delves further into the history of the Loyalists as they begin to disagree on how to deal with the injustices of the powerful “Family Compact” and on just how loyal to Britain they want to remain.

A Perfect 10 with John Howell

A Perfect 10 with John Howell

Today we sit down with John Howell, author of the John J. Cannon series and wonderful blogger. John gives us some great insight into his writing as a craft and as a business.

Please enjoy this edition of A Perfect 10

If you want to check out past interviews, you can find them in the following links:

A.C. Flory, Steve Boseley, Kayla Matt, Mae Clair, Jill Sammut, Deanna Kahler, Dawn Reno Langley

Also, if you are an author and you want to be part of this feature, I still have a few slots open for 2017. You can email me at don@donmassenzio.com


john-howell

1)    Does writing energize or exhaust you?

I must say there are times when I experience both. When I’m having a particularly tough time with a plot point, I feel as if I have gone ten rounds with a welterweight. I’m not just talking mental tiredness but physical as well. My neck is sore, back hurts and I have all the symptoms of physical exertion. Once the plot point is solved, I immediately go into a state that duplicates euphoria. Usually, though, writing energizes me if I keep my bouts of writing at a reasonable level. When working on a novel I usually put in no more than one thousand words a day.

2)    Do you ever write under a pseudonym? If not have you considered it? Why or why not?

I have never written under a pseudonym. I never even thought to do so. I have nothing against pen names, but I do not have a high-profile persona or outside life that needs protection from the public.  Another thing is I just could not imagine having someone else take credit for my work. I guess if the world knew my pseudonym was me I wouldn’t mind. Of course, then the pseudonym would be worthless. Also, I don’t plan on writing so many books that I would need a pseudonym to mask the fact that I’m publishing a lot. Aren’t you glad you asked?

3)    Does a big ego help or hurt writers? Why or why not?

I think every writer needs to have a healthy dose of ego. I have seen huge egos get in the way of good work. I’m thinking of one writer who has such an enormous ego that there is no end of arguments between reviewers and him. Of course, this does not help the writing process and tends to limit the fan base. I believe a writer must have enough ego to be able to withstand the working alone creative process and ultimate judgment of the reader.

4)    What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

The best money I ever spent as a writer is for professional editing. I cannot imagine putting a book together without the aid of an editor. There are so many ways a writer can lose sight of certain word crutches and bad writing habits that the money spent on an editor is a bargain.

5)    What does writing success look like to you? Have you achieved it?

I think writing success looks like being able to craft an entire book and have people who you don’t know read it and then write a review saying they loved it. Yes, I have achieved it.

6)    What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What sources do you use?

My research consists of reading about the item in question or visiting the location in question. When I begin a book, I don’t do any research at all. I’m a pantser you see, and most of the research needs come up as the story develops. Once I realize I need to do the research it usually takes several hours per subject. I had to do a lot of the investigation on the John Cannon Trilogy since I knew next to nothing about boats, automatic weapons, explosives, P 51 Mustang airplanes, the Muslim religion, emergency procedures on various kinds of aircraft, FBI procedures, Navy SEALs, and sex. (just kidding there) I use the internet to find answers to my questions. As you can imagine, Homeland Security has me on speed dial. The location research requires trips to various places that I want to mention.

 7)    How do you select the names of your characters? Have you ever regretted choosing a particular name? Why?

My character names come to me while I am establishing their identity. I will pick a name that I think will fit a character and then after some scenes, I could be forced to change the name since it no longer fits. I have two characters in a book that will be published in 2017 who had different names all the way until final edit. The names did not fit their personalities, so I had to make the switch. In this case, I was able to make the switch without a problem. I have never regretted a character name, but on a couple of occasions, I found that I had spelled the names differently in different parts of the book. That would have been embarrassing. I guess a less complicated name would have prevented this problem.

8)    What is the hardest type of scene to write?

The hardest scene for me to write are those scenes that I am pulling from a real-life experience. We have all had certain times in our lives that have been challenging and periods of great joy. When I try to draw on those times as part of my character development, I have difficulty simply writing down and expressing the emotions. I suppose the real feelings have been buried over time, so it takes a revisit to the period to experience the pleasure or pain all over again.

9)    If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?

The four people I would like to invite to dinner would be Kurt Vonnegut, John Irving, Elmore Leonard, and Neville Shute. I would ask them to relate the highest point they achieved in their writing and why they think it is the highest. I would also love to ask about the lowest point as well.

10)    What platform has brought you the most success in marketing your books?

The platform that has brought the most success in marketing my books must be my blog. I can see that on a long-term basis a consistent building of the idea that I have books available to read is a good thing. On the short term, I think EReader News has had the biggest impact on a sales rise over a discrete period.

I would like to promote Our Justice the third book in the John J. Cannon Trilogy

book-coverBlurb:

The terrorist leader and financier Matt Jacobs figured out a plan to eliminate the President. He is relying on John Cannon’s stature as a hero to help him carry it off. John finds himself walking the fine line of pretending to help Matt while trying to figure out a countermeasure to the plan.

The third book in the John J. Cannon Trilogy brings together two strong wills for a showdown. The question to be answered is who will feel the satisfaction that the achievement of justice delivers John, Matt or neither?

Buy Our Justice:

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_4_11?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=our+justice+by+john+howell&sprefix=Our+Justice%2Cstripbooks%2C177&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3Aour+justice+by+john+howell

About John:

John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories.  His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016.  All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Connect with John:

Blog Fiction Favorites, http://johnwhowell.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241

Twitter –https://www.twitter.com/HowellWave

Authors db –http://www.authorsdb.com/authors-directory/6604-john-w-howell

LinkedIn –http://www.linkedin.com/pub/john-w-howell/48/b59/462/

Google +https://plus.google.com/+JohnHowellAuthor/

Goodreads –https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell

Amazon Author’s page –https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

A Perfect 10 with Dawn Reno Langley

A Perfect 10 with Dawn Reno Langley

This week I’m pleased to be able to welcome Dawn Reno Langley to sit down and answer some questions. She gives us a great deal of insight into her writing and her motivation. I hope you enjoy this edition of A Perfect 10.]

If you want to check out past interviews, you can find them in the following links:

A.C. Flory, Steve Boseley, Kayla Matt, Mae Clair, Jill Sammut, Deanna Kahler

Also, if you are an author and you want to be part of this feature, I still have a few slots open for 2017. You can email me at don@donmassenzio.com


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  • Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Both!  I’ve woken from a sound sleep too many times to count.  A line will run through my head and make me pull out of traffic to jot it into my phone.  I’ll cut a shower short to grab the pad of paper and pen that is always nearby.  The ideas and the creation energize me completely, and the actual rewriting exhausts me (though I do feel a kind of manic energy during that period, too).  Long and short of it, it’s what puts the bunny in my battery!

  • Do you ever write under a pseudonym? If not have you considered it? Why or why not?

Yes, I have done so in the past because an editor/publisher wanted to switch gears for my career.  It did not work.  In fact, I credit it with creating a huge roadblock that made it almost impossible for me to move forward.  Not only that, but I’d spent an enormous amount of time and energy establishing my writing name, and when they decided to change it, it meant I needed to start building that new name from the ground level.  Never again.

  • Does a big ego help or hurt writers? Why or why not?

A big ego doesn’t help ANYbody.  If you think you are untouchable, you lose contact with what matters most: finding the story your readers might find engaging.  Besides, an egotistical person is a biatch, and who wants to be that person?

  • What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Buying my own books and gifting them to special readers.  The gift of a novel is something people still cherish, and usually, those readers are invaluable for they will offer an evaluation of the work that comes from the heart.  At least that’s been my experience so far.

  • What does writing success look like to you? Have you achieved it?

The pinnacle of writing success to me would be to win a major award or make a bestseller list. I would love to experience a solid respect as a writer, to have other writers enjoy my book, and to engage in discussions based upon the issues my novels raise.

And I want to give back.  I’ve been involved with social justice issues for years, and now I’d like to celebrate the publication of my novel THE MOURNING PARADE (July, 2017, Amberjack Publishers) by donating a portion of the proceeds of the book to several elephant rights and sanctuary organizations.

No, I haven’t achieved that writing success yet, but I’m getting there!

  • What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What sources do you use?

Okay, the best way to answer this question is to describe exactly what I’m going through with the novel I’m currently polishing up to send off to my publisher.  I’ve been working on this one for a while, mainly because the subject matter is a sensitive one.  Through the re-workings, the story changed a bit, the point-of-view changed several times, and one character who was minor in the first few drafts ended up being the major storyteller.

From the very first breath of this idea, I was researching.  The topic is directly related to my PhD dissertation and became the second half of that dissertation: a complete novel influenced directly from the subject I had chosen to study: the voices of transgender authors, pre- and post-transition. Throughout the writing process (which has now spanned over five years), I return to the research over and over again.  One of the major characters is a psychologist, so I need to be certain of terminology.  Another is a gamer, so I did extensive research to ascertain the lingo he might use. And, of course, the father of the family in the story is transgender, so I consumed transgender memoirs like they were Godiva brownies.

I’m in the final stages of a polish of this manuscript before it goes to my editor for her comments, and I’m still doing research.  Just this afternoon, I read something and wrote a note on a post-it to insert in one of the upcoming chapters.

It never ends.

  • How do you select the names of your characters? Have you ever regretted choosing a particular name? Why?

Sometimes I have a very particular idea of what a character should be named, but most of the time I do not believe in the Dickensian names that depict a character’s personality or failing.  My characters’ names will tell you more about their family’s origin or heritage, though I often spin that on its ear by calling someone by a name that depicts a totally different type of character.  I’ve talked about this every time I teach creative writing and use my own sister’s name as an example.  When you give someone a name and ask them to describe the person, you can often predict what they might say, and if it’s predictable, then I’ll do the opposite and provide a bit more interest regarding why the character is unpredictable from the start.

Yes, I’ve regretted using the same personal term for two mothers in two different novels.  I never realized a tendency toward using some similar phrases or personal traits.  Now that I’m aware of it, I’m hyper sensitive about making sure the names are not at all like any of the characters in other stories I’ve written.

  • What is the hardest type of scene to write?

I believe that, for me anyway it’s difficult to write a scene where there’s a group of people talking.  Keeping them all distinctive, yet engaged in the general line of discussion is hard to do.  People are often confused unless an author slows down and uses some internal dialogue or extensive description to anchor the reader.  I have to remind myself to do that and have learned to use tags associated with certain characters from the beginning so they will still stand out as individuals in group scenes.

  • If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?

I’ve answered this question several times throughout my life, and thinking back, I realize my answer was different each time because of where I was in my life.

At this point, there are three deceased family members I’d want to have dinner with and one philosophical leader who’s very much alive.  My mother, my father, my ex-husband Bobby, and the Dalai Lama.

The question for my mother:  did you hear us talking over your bed when you were taking your last breaths?

My father:  did you have any regrets?

Bobby:  why did you choose to kill yourself?

The Dalai Lama:  how can I help those I love heal?

  • What platform has brought you the most success in marketing your books?

I’m trying to figure out the answer to that question right now.  I’m deep into marketing the new releases of my backlist and doing pre-promotional work for my next novel, coming out in July, so I’m heavily using Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.  I am on Google+ and Instagram, too, but I must be honest that I don’t pay as much attention to those sites as I do the latter.

At this point, I think Facebook has helped me drive some conversations about my books and has given me a few sales, while Twitter has opened me up to people I would not have been in contact with otherwise, and Goodreads gets me directly to the readers.  The Giveaways have resulted in reviews for me, and I believe adding more reviews will naturally spread the word.

Perhaps by the time my next novel comes out, I’ll have a few new readers.  Believe me, I’ve done a lot of work to get them!

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Find Dawn’s Books:

Link to all my books on Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Dawn-Reno-Langley/e/B016JF3SY4/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1483214723&sr=8-1

Connect with Dawn:

Link to my Goodreads page:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/713705.Dawn_Reno_Langley

Website:  https://dawnrenolangley.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dawnrenolangley

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/proflangley

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/+DawnLangley

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/proflangley/