Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing, Book Two

Casa de Naomi Book Two - Jacket SM

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After reading the first book in this series by Paula Rose Michelson the choice to read the second book was easily made. It suffices to say, I made the right choice. This book, like its predecessor did not disappoint. In fact it was hard to put down.

But let’s not spoil your fun by posting my review. Instead I’ll give you a short blurb to entice, but I must stress the fact the full pleasure of reading this book can only come upon you by actually submerging yourself in the world Paula has created.

Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing, Book Two

Naomi wants Chaz’s love. Chaz loves Naomi, but will not forgive his wife’s lying to him. The attorney wants Naomi’s estate. The Padre wants the couple to reconcile. Nicco wants to marry Lucinda. Lucinda wants to marry Nicco. Neither will wed until Chaz and Naomi are standing with them when they say their wedding vows. Who will get what they want? Find out when you read the second volume of Paula Rose Michelson’s saga, Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing.

Take a look at the trailer, which I enjoyed watching, and tell me what you think of it.

Featured Author – Paula Rose Michelson

A while ago I came across a remarkable author on Twitter. Luckily she was willing to join me on my blog and today I feature her once again.

Let’s not delay ay further but let me introduce to you, Paula Rose Michelson, a true wordsmith.

Casa Series 001-1

Welcome Paula. I’m honoured to be able to host you and hope you’ll like me grilling you. 🙂 But first tell us a bit about the woman behind the author, or the woman inside the author.

I am the founder of LAMB Ministries, which helps women recover from trauma and abuse through the effective use of scripture, and prayer. Besides that I lead a monthly writers group at Congregation Ben David in Orange, California, and together with my husband, Ron, serve with Chosen People Ministries.

We are the proud parents two married daughters, and grandparents of seven grandchildren. When not writing, speaking, or teaching the effective use scripture, you will find me researching my next book or meeting with friends.

That is a nice, short introduction which gives us a glimpse of who you are. 

I do however have some questions for you, just to satisfy my curiosity and shed some light on your inner being.

When did you first get the idea of founding your own Ministry?

Good question! I didn’t know and had never thought about founding anything!

I had become a believer in Messiah while completing my training to become a Chemical Dependency/Lifestyle Disorder Councilor in a dually diagnosed psychiatric unit at Woodview Calabasas Psychiatric Hospital. On the very day, I was offered full time employment, my husband told me he’d been promoted and we were moving to the San Francisco bay area, which was nine hours from the San Fernando Valley.

We didn’t know a soul and since we agreed to let the family whose home we were buying rent back we were living in an apartment.

I met a lady who invited me to church. On that first Sunday a woman shared about her friend who was sober but fearful, a white knuckle alcoholic, and had been living like that for many years. I mentioned my background and the books that might help once I’d unpacked them. She asked for my phone number, which I gave. The same afternoon she called to tell me that she and her friend had prayed and felt I should meet with this woman. I agreed and within a month that one woman had become ten.

Though none of the others were in recovery for an addition, each one had the same issue, a fear that the trauma they experienced would continue to be repeated, if not by others, by them. Having dealt with my own stuff, and worked in the system, then discovering that God’s word is affective and will accomplish his purpose, I began teaching these women what I had learned.

When our friends who were missionaries on furlough from YWAM realized what God was doing, they asked me to contact our pastor. I met with him and was appointed the head of Women’s Lay Counseling. While in Freemont, CA, I interfaced with Stanford’s Chemical Dependency staff and worked for the Rubicon Center as a house parent for six teenage girls, which the state had removed from their homes because of abuse, drugs, child endangerment, and other issues to numerous to delineate.

Do you ever doubt?

When I am doing things in my own strength, I feel dread, not doubt, and that tells me that I am not listening to or reading Gods Word.

At the writers group do you write any genre?

The writers group I lead had to disband because our congregation moved to another location, and many programs were eliminated due to lack of space. However, while the group existed I encouraged each writer to follow their hearts leading.

What genre, besides scripture, do you like to read?

I love almost anything that would be classified as “P” or “PG” writing and doesn’t use a lot of swearing and gets to the point without taking Gods name in vain. Because my fiction, which many have labeled “Romance” requires a great deal of research, I’m a passionate reader of history, but love all well written books whether mysteries, historical, biographies … the list goes on and on!

Why did you write the books you did?

Again, I must confess that writing six books about my Sephardic heroine, Naomi was never a goal! I was writing a book about three women who meet while hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Ruth was a lot like me so it was easy to write her character sketch.

Scout was a pastor’s kid and having known many writing her character was fun!

Naomi was the third, and least important character, or so I thought! She was difficult to sketch because I had never known a Spanish Jew. Every time I tried to write her sketch, I ended up researching and writing about the trail, minor characters, anything but this illusive …

Finally I told a few friends that I needed help, and was surprised to discover that three of them, Correne, Betty, and Janice were Sephardic, and my friend Trish had married a man who did not know about his hidden heritage until she told him. My friends lent books. After I devoured them, I ordered many more and began researching what happened to the Spanish Jews hundreds of years before the Spanish Inquisition as well as its little known Mexican counterpart.

I had spoken about the book with my publisher friend who had been asking me to write for ten years. She was interested in publishing the work. After months of waiting she asked what I was doing. I told her I was writing a character sketch for Naomi. As requested, I sent her my dailies. Forty days later she told me I had begun to write a different, and she believed, better book, and suggested I go back three days and begin reading! And that is how the two Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing, and the four volume Naomi Chronicles were written. But, since I’m telling all, I believe it important to mention that if Naomi had not begun to tell me her story, after asking her mamá’s permission and receiving it, none of these books would exist!

What a wonderful journey to an incredible end result. But let’s not get ahead of things. I have more questions about the who and why of you.

Did you have any trouble coming up with the titles?

After writing what became books one and two, I met with my friend who publishes and discovered that not having a book or chapter titles happens.

Hahaha, Tell me about it. You would be surprised how many authors change the titles of their WIP’s not once but often before publishing. Shoot! Linda Rae Blair even changed it after publication first time. I’m sorry for interrupting, go on.

During our meeting we settled on Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing, which should have been the title of the saga for the first two books. If I had it to do over again, I might have chosen separate titles for those books. Since I like to move forward and cannot do that well if I drag around regrets for things that could have been better, that lesson taught me what I need to know, so I’ve given each of the four Naomi Chronicle Books their own unique title and cover!

Can you see any character in your books turn away from faith?

My characters are written as they present themselves. Given the reality that many in the faith have issues there are characters within the books that lust, are raped, consider abortion, and yes there is even a member of the clergy that tries to run away from his sin nature. Personally I think writing about a person who turns away from their faith and the effects it has on them and others would be amazing but so far that’s not the story I’ve been hearing! Perhaps someday I will.

Do you ever speak to your characters? When you do, do you discuss, or lay down the rules on how they should behave?

I don’t remember speaking to the characters, but have been told by readers and read reviews of the books when readers were so upset that they worried about or talked to the characters! One reviewer mentioned staying up all night trying to figure out how she could help Naomi. Another reader was so upset that while speaking to Naomi, she woke her husband out of a sound sleep in the middle of the night!

That is amazing and a sure signs you are able to pull the reader into the book and have them solidly relate to your characters. Well done!

If you would have to change anything in your books what would it be and why?

I have at times written something that made no sense, gone to bed, thought I should fix it, begun to get up and heard God say, “Do not edit me!” Hearing those affirming words reminded me that though the world calls me an author, he called me to write. Therefore, I am a scribe for Messiah.

Do you ever write alternative endings?

No, I haven’t written alternative endings. It’s enough just making sure that I keep tract of each character, local, and situation so at the end of each book as well as the end of the saga the reader’s not only happy but knows where each of these people are and that they are all right. This is very important to me because there are at least three more series or sagas that I’m researching, and some the minor characters in this saga will be featured in those stories where readers might also find out what’s happening with Chaz, Naomi and the others.

Okay, the serious part is over. Let’s move on to the fun. 🙂

What do you like to secretly do to unwind?

Unwinding is so very important! If I have the time, I like to take off with my husband, who also writes, and go to Big Bear’s Best Western Chalet, a deluxe getaway that looks like a castle! Both of us love to hike the woods, eat great food, walk around the town, and write! If I’m local, meeting with my girlfriends for a gab fest. I love talking with my writer friends in Wales, Australia and other far flung places and planning what island we will meet on for a month and who we’ll invite to join us once we’ve time and money.

There’s a great plan if I ever heard one!

Now, you know I like a scoop, so tell me something that will be fun for us to know about you.

I can’t tell a joke without laughing and my laughter is so infectious that everyone starts laughing. By the time I’ve stopped laughing and can tell the joke, I’ve forgotten what it is and usually while admitting that I’ll start to laugh and where all off to the race’s again!

Paula, you do sound like a fun woman to know! Great, because the fact you have an infectious laugh means you know how to enjoy life and those people bring joy to others.

Now, do you have a craving for sweet or salty snacks? And when does it hit you?

I love food period! If I’m up, if I’m down, I love food! Since I lived next door to my grandparents and my grandfather owned and was a Jewish baker, I love anything sweet! My husband introduced me to salt. After years of experimenting, I can testify that life lived with a little sweet and a little salt helped me understand that everything has a reason for being even if I currently don’t know why!

That is a wisdom not many people realise is important to keep in mind.
But tell me, what is the song that got stuck in your head the most while you wanted it out?

Since I love music, I don’t remember wanting to get a song out of my head. I do smile each time I hear Johnny Mathis sing The Twelfth of Never because that was one of the songs I listened to when I was writing the Casa Saga books.

What movie awakened something basal in you? And what emotion was it?

The movie Charly staring Cliff Robertson based of the book Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes was, by far, the most terrifying possibility I’ve ever seen depicted on screen because it shows how a drug can transform a very developmentally disadvantaged adult into a genius from whom scientist are learning while the one they are learning from discovers that he will become as he once was.

And finally tell us a secret, one that colours your cheeks just thinking back on it. Or just tell us something fun to know about you.

I’ve learned that we can only see in others what we have perceived in ourselves so whether others rave or morn, it’s not about me, and knowing that allows me to be me free to be me!

That is a most wonderful statement to end this interview with. Thank you Paula for so freely sharing these snippets of your life with me and my readers.

Now tell me where can we find you on the internet?

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon Author Page

Writings by Paula Rose Blog

Paula’s own site

And finally, I am proud to announce Paula will be back tomorrow with more. Do come back and don’t miss out on a wonderful revealing of the book.

Featured Author Alex Canton

P1060162Today’s featured author is the guy who works hard on the Book of Faces to publish all our wonderful reviews on the Book Junkie Reviews page for the world to read.

I’d like to introduce to you Alex Canton, author, grand-father, and Book Junkie.

There are a few questions I’d like to ask you Alex, so grab a drink, have a seat and get comfortable. 

Let’s do a few  yada questions before we move on to the fun. And by yada yada I do not mean boring, or in any other way stupid questions, but just the traditional ones. You know? The ones we secretly all want to know the answer to.

Before you were an author, what did you do to make a living?

I was a clinical psychologist with an area of concentration in clinical sexology. I also was a assistant professor at the University of Panama’s Medical School and also held my own private practice.

What have you published so far?

During my professional years I published a textbook on sex therapy and many research articles on the same subject. In 1985 I published my first novella – Machito—which dealt with homosexuality. After I retired in 2006 or 2007 I continued writing novellas of psychological content. There are around eleven on Amazon.

What is the title of the book you would like to talk about now?

It’s The Water!

Cover WaterAMAZON US | AMAZON UK

Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?

No. This was an expression I frequently used, jokingly, when people asked me why there were so many gay men participating in the Panamanian carnival.

If you would have to change the genre in order to be able to publish it, what would it be then? i.e. would you conform to the market?

I don’t give a hoot about the market. Therefore, I publish in whichever genre I think my message will get out comfortably for me.

Good for you!

Can you tell me how you celebrate finally getting that one tricky chapter (or para) right, if there were any of those?

The truth is that I never had a tricky chapter…. I always seem able to form a picture in my mind of what Is going to happen; then, the development just flows. Well, now that I re-think this I recall that there was a delicate scene about sexual discovery between one of my main characters when he was a little boy and his five or six years old girlfriend. It’s the only time that I gave a thought to “not being offensive.” BTW, I wrote this book in English… This would have not happened if I wrote it in Spanish because this particular audience does not get offended easily…

Is there anything else you would like to share with me and the readers about you or the book?

This book deals with gay awakening in the 60s… As someone said, it has no pink, sugary development. It is not the gay-erotic theme that many people look for. It has quite a bit of food for thought. And it was written without considering political correctness, which wasn’t an issue in those times and about which I don’t give a damn nowadays. Therefore, it’s a matter of hating or loving the book.

It sounds like an intriguing book, and I have it on my TBR list, Alex. Now all I have to do is find the time to read it.

Right, with that out of the way and to confuse you we’ll take the alternative route now.

What don’t you like about writing?

I wish I could transfer my thoughts to paper without having to use my fingers and my eyes… Natural human wasting process is already on its way….

What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?

First hand experience always inspires my writings… It has been a great life and many roads have been walked on by this old guy. When people read my work they are taken on an exploratory ride… My style is quite mine, and not everyone feels comfortable when they have to think to get a point… But then, I don’t write for everyone but for a chosen few, who chose themselves…

I never gave a second to thinking about marketing. The truth is that I don’t care if people buy my books. In Panama I always carry one of my books, which I “forget” and leave on the taxi seat or a chair in a restaurant….

HA! That sounds like stealth marketing, a good one. 🙂 

Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life?

No…

So you can’t give me a recipe?

Sorry, my characters don’t worry about food or beverage intake…

But, but … you’ll die! Everyone eats! Hey Ho, it’s your life and if you have characters who are indifferent to food or beverages it’s your choice.

I guess you never go like this then?

yum

Okay, by me. 🙂 Now that we have that out of the way, can you tell me something none has ever heard before from you. hehehe, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂

Since my first novella, many people always asked themselves “Is he gay? He knows way too much…” Want to guess …?

gay serial killerFor those who are really, really curious and would like to know more about Alex and his books, he can be found online at:

http://www.terapiacanton.blogspot.com

Featured Author – Lawrence Schoen

AuthorPhoto Today I have the privilege to feature a great author, Lawrence Schoen!

Hi Lawrence! Welcome, take a seat, grab a drink and make yourself comfortable. 

Howdy.

I would like to thank you for taking the time to come on over to my blog and let me question you about the more important things in life. Erm, I mean … Well you’ll find out what I mean.

But first things first, nuqDaq ta’ SoH pol yuc, or “Where do you keep the chocolate?”  for those who like your wife do not speak Klingon.

Do you even like chocolate?

Well, first things being first, let me correct your Klingon usage. What you wanted to say was nuqDaq yuch Dapol. What you said was something like Where do you accomplish. Chocolate (misspelled) keeps.

Hahaha, I stand corrected! I love the fact that you are an expert in Klingon! I’ve learned something today. Something I will never forget, thank you for that. 🙂 But where do you keep it?

My answer is likely to be burghwIjDaq vIpol yuchwIj – I keep my chocolate in my stomach.

And yes, I like chocolate. You have some to give me right? Because, it would be unthinkably offensive to bring up the topic if you weren’t going to provide some. I’ll just wait here for it…

Of course I have chocolate for you! A nice chunk of real, dark, and pure Swiss Chocolate. Yes, the real deal! Unless you’d rather have a bit of Lady Godiva from Belgium?

(Silence descends upon us as we savour the chocolate I’ve put out on the table)

Can you tell me if there’s any dish or beverage which plays a major part in your life and/or books?

I’ve written three books (two novels and a collection of short stories) about a stage hypnotist, the Amazing Conroy, and I plan to write at least five more novels and more shorts for him too. Conroy is a gourmand, and his adventures routinely contain descriptions of alien meals, some fancy some not but all wondrous. A consistent item (in that I make reference to it over and over again) is a beverage Conroy favors called Uncle Waldo’s raspberry root beer. Personally, I have no idea what it tastes like, but Conroy seems to get nostalgic for it when he’s traveling the galaxy.

Oh, that sounds like a brewery has its work cut out for them! I like the sound of it. 🙂

Knowing this now, I (and I think my readers too) would like to know if there is a dish you prepare on a regular basis and would you like to share the recipe with us?

Once upon a time, I was a bachelor and did all of my own cooking. Then I married the incomparable Valerie, who — among her many other talents and skills — trained as a professional chef. This doesn’t necessarily mean that she cooks for me all that often, but it does mean that in our home the kitchen is clearly her domain and my presence there is only suffered now and then (much like the room that is the library is my domain, and while she’s allowed to enjoy it any time, her books don’t live there, just mine). The truth is, with the schedules we keep, I spend far too much time and too many meals eating out. I’d doubtlessly be healthier if I didn’t, but there you go.

None of which answers your question though.

picture from cookingclassy.com

picture from cookingclassy.com

Hmm. What springs to mind is a chili dish that I like to make. I use three kinds of beans, stewed tomatoes, and pork sausage. I cook it slowly, and if possible (i.e., if I’m not so eager to eat it that I can wait) I’ll let it cool down, pop it in the fridge, and let the flavors from all the ingredient merge and continue to evolve overnight, and then heat it up the next day. When served, I add copious amounts of shredded, extra-sharp cheddar cheese, and often a injudicious tablespoon of butter or margarine. It’s a wonderfully simple and satisfying dish on a cold winter’s day.

 Blimey! That is a dish worthy of a page of it’s own. I love chili! But I’ll add sour creme instead of butter the next day and chopped fresh, home-grown tomatoes. Sometimes I even add a few bits of 82% pure chocolate to melt in and add their flavour to the spice.

Anyway, back to you.

Being born in California and the eternal sunshine pounding down on you during your youth do you now still love the sun or would you rather live in the mountains?

Sunshine has its place, and I particularly like it in dappled doses on a fine autumn day as I lay out on my hammock in the backyard, my faithful dog keeping me company, my laptop balanced on my chest as I type.

Back in my professor days, I tromped around the country before finally landing here in the greater Philadelphia area. I don’t much care where I live. I like being within an hour’s drive of an airport so that when the urge/need hits, I can go somewhere else with relative ease. I like having a good internet provided around (which is much less of a difficult thing to come by here in the 21st century than it was in the 20th). I like being near a body of water, even if I never bestir myself to actually go out and gaze upon it or dip a toe into i.

I prefer living where there are seasons (as opposed to southern California where they don’t necessarily have seasons as the rest of the US understands the term), but I am no fan of humid weather. Mountains might be a nice change of pace, or the high desert. I suspect that when I’m ready to retire, my wife and I (and the dogs) will endeavor to move around a bit each year, avoiding the worst seasons at home and dropping in on friends and colleagues around the country. If any such are reading this, please leave a key under the mat.

If traveling the galaxy would be possible and other intelligent life exists in the universe, which planet would you visit first?

I seem to be in a cranky/pedantic mood as I respond to these questions. Sorry about that. But, as I am, I have to point out that your question has problems. First, you invoke a galactic scale but that ask about planets. We’re only just beginning to glimpse and discover exo-planets in other star systems, but we don’t really know much about them. So I can’t address that aspect of the question. Next, you ground the question in the idea of intelligent life being out there, so I can only assume you mean that to figure into my answer, which means I’m constrained to say either “I’d go to a planet where there are alien people to hang out with” or “I’d go somewhere they aren’t.” In my case, if you’ll grant me that these aliens are friendly (or at least open to the idea), I would definitely go visit. How could I not? Not just as an SF author, but also as a linguist and psychologist. Woo hoo!

Sounds reasonable enough. 🙂 By the by, I love your cranky/pedantic way of responding to this question. Sorry for the interruption, please continue.

Closer to home though, and ignoring intelligent life, I’ve always had a hankering to visit Pluto (sadly demoted from being a planet, and so technically doesn’t qualify as a valid answer to your question). Lately I’ve also been thinking about the moons of Saturn (did you know there are sixty-two of them, by some estimates. Sixty-two!!!), and I’m toying with a story idea that would involve all of them. Titan is just under half the size of Earth and looks like it has an atmosphere of sorts. It’s sure to be a tourist destination before too long.

Titan_surface_synthesis

As a psycholinguistics professor and sci-fi lover/author have you ever constructed a  new language to use in a book?

I’ve done this with pieces of languages several times, but never a full blown language. To my knowledge, only J. R. R. Tolkien did that, and he wrote the languages (yes, plural, as in more than one) long before he wrote the books he used them in.

Aspects of language often figure in my fiction, sometimes explicitly, sometimes less so. I recently turned in a story that had a major plot point that turned on the concept of “fourth person” which only occurs in a few languages in the world (including Ojibwe, which is why I got to play with it, having set my story in Minnesota).

I know you’ve been nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novella this year, but are there any other nominations or awards you are particularly proud of?

A few years ago I was nominated for a Hugo for Best Short Story. As with the Nebula nomination, both works were published by Hadley Rille Books, a small press based in Kansas City, MO. I mention this because I think it reflects an important change, that fiction from markets other than the “big three magazines” are being recognized. This is pretty remarkable stuff, particularly for an award like the Hugo. Fans are reading further afield than ever before, and that changes things. In a good way, I would argue.

On a related note, a couple years back I was nominated for the Washington Science Fiction Association’s Small Press Award. This honors a short story from a small press, and the truly exceptional thing was that my nominated story (which happened to be an Amazing Conroy story) appeared in an obscure anthology from a very small press in Ireland. How cool is that?

Very cool indeed, Mr. Schoen. 🙂 

Okay, with the personal stuff out of the way, I would like to move on to the more writing related questions.

Can you tell me how you celebrate finally getting that tricky chapter (or para) right?

It depends. Sometimes the proper celebration is to go to sleep because you need it. Sometimes the right thing to do is to simply acknowledge you’ve done it and move on without any hesitation to the next piece, taking advantage of the momentum. Sometimes it’s an excuse to take my wife out to a fancy dinner.

And what is the title of the book you would like to talk about now?

I’d like to talk about a book that I’m working on now. It’s current title is BARSK: THE ELEPHANT’S GRAVEYARD, and I’m writing it for Tor Books right now, and it wouldn’t surprise me if their marketing department comes back and says “Dude, that title’s too weird, call it something else.” To give you just a tiny idea of what it’s about, here’s the four-word elevator pitch. Ready? DUNE meets ANIMAL FARM.

Now that is an intriguing pitch, both books are top shelf on my reading list. 

Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?

This title is a compromise. The original title that I had in mind was simply BARSK, which is the name of the planet where the action starts, the protagonist’s home, the place where we eventually return to by the book’s end. But you can’t know any of that until after you’ve read the book, so that title is just a mono-syllabic collection of sounds and has no meaning of it’s own. Hence the expanded title.

Ah, that makes sense, but the one word title is very … Well, it would draw me to pick it up and read. But then again, I’m funny that way.

If you would have to change the genre in order to be able to publish it, what would it be then? i.e. would you conform to the market?

That’s a very tricky question because in many ways the book doesn’t fit well into the genre (and so kudos to my editor at Tor for seeing the greatness and beauty in the book and somehow convincing the bean counting folks to take a chance on it.

I think the real answer to your question can be found in asking why someone writes. If you’re writing to put food on the table and roof over your head (and seriously, there are much easier ways to make a much better living) then you write what will sell. You write what jobs come your way. You write what’s hot because you know you can sell it and then move on to write the next thing. If you have a DayJob that covers your living costs, or a spouse with such a thing, or a rich relative who has died and left you (and/or your spouse) a tidy sum, then you have the luxury of writing what you want to write and not caring so much about whether it can be published (let alone sell well). You get to indulge being an artist. Of course, happiness is probably somewhere in the middle, writing something you want to write that will also be commercially viable, something that people will want to read. It is a beautiful thing being at a convention and being asked to autograph someone’s copy of your book. It is a transcendent joy to have a fan come up and gush about how much he or she enjoyed reading it. It never gets old. Ever.

I can imagine that and to be honest? I would love to have that happen to me, even if only once. 

Now tell me, what don’t you like about writing.

That it’s both hard and easy at the same time. That it takes and takes and takes and can leave you so drained, both emotionally and physically, and yet can be so damn satisfying and uplifting and enervating. That you can often miss what you’ve put into your writing until long after it’s done and only then see something, or have someone else point a thing out to you, where your unconscious slipped something in for all the world (but you!) to see.

What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?

Possibly in part because I’ve been blessed with a truly talented artist (this is where I plug the work of Rachael Mayo, okay, now we can move on), I’ve become very fond of postcards. Lately, I’ve included links and QR codes on postcards which allow someone to go to a website and download a piece of fiction for free. I have reason to believe I was the first genre author in the US to use QR codes in this way, though now it’s commonplace. It’s a great way to use the current technology to reach out to an ever more technologically sophisticated audience.

A great and innovative way which only a sci-fi/tech-savvy person could have come up with.

Now for something else, when you’re on a roll, the muse is in the house and happily guiding your pen, what would seriously drive her/him away?

The sound of someone in pain. I can work through all sorts of other noise and random distractions, but if someone is hurt and cries out my attention shifts in that instant.

That says a lot about your personality, thanks for this insight. 🙂

What does your muse look like and does he/she ever play tricks on you?

I’ve never seen my muse directly. I think, at least for me, it’s like the wind, observed by the things it touches, the way it changes what’s around it. It plays tricks by messing with my head, causing me to see things in a scene that I thought I had all worked out and suddenly transforms into something utterly different and better. Which is to say, I think the muse is a manifestation of my own unconscious mind trying to have a conversation with me.

Do you ever speak to your characters and do you get along all the time?

All. The. Time. I used to work out scenes while taking walks in a public park, speaking aloud the dialogue between characters as I walked. This got problematic, as you might imagine. It’s easier when you’re driving alone in a car, or riding a bike, but it’s also very distracting (honest, officer, I never saw the speed limit sign, Captain Wilmington was explaining to me about how he deduced the location of the alien city based on the patterns of erosion on the fins of a shuttle in the junk yard).

Some characters I get along with. Some not. They’re people, and so the usual warnings apply.

How right you are! 

Would you be able to come up with a credible excuse why you haven’t written a whole day? Remember, I have to believe it!

Here’s the thing: I don’t believe in excuses. You can call them reasons, or justifications or rationalizations. It doesn’t matter. Either you do the thing, or you don’t. Having a good reason or a bad one doesn’t change the fact, it just provides a story about it.

What’s important is choice. What do you choose to do, consciously and deliberately, or unconsciously. What are your priorities, and do you choose to keep to them (and if not, then maybe those really aren’t your priorities).

Living with free will is brutal. It provides no cover. All you have is your own sense of integrity. If I can slip over from Star Trek to Star Wars here, I’ll invoke that little green guy, Yoda, who said “Do, or do not. There is no try.” Believe that!

I think you are absolutely right, I couldn’t have said it better. 

And finally why would you ever want to live life behind a keyboard slaving over a manuscript?

Back when I was professoring, I used to teach a course in Psycholinguistics, and on the first day I would present my students with this statement of fact connundrum: acquring our native language is at one and the same moment the most cognitively complex thing any of us will ever accomplish in our lives and the most powerful tool we ever possess, and yet it is woefully inadequate to really express to another human being the depths and breadth of your most profound internal experiences.

I’m very much a “it’s about the journey, not the destination” kind of guy. Writing is all journey. It’s a journey of self-discovery and self-improvement. It’s a voyage of creation and inspiration. It’s a commitment to striving for excellence to invent and bring into being something that never existed for anyone else before and to wrap it up with pretty paper and shiny bow and say, “here, I made this, I think you’ll like it if you’ll only take some time to read it.”

Also, sometimes people bring you chocolate.

And I am very glad you took the time to come and collect my chocolate, giving me the honour of interviewing you while we enjoy the finer things in life, Chocolate! 

Okay, now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want the blab about. But please no cat’s, dogs, or children. Make me laugh, or cry, or even envious. Tell me something none has ever heard before. Hehehe, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂

I’ve been writing about a stage hypnotist for years now, and though I have a doctorate in cognitive psychology and have known enough about hypnosis to fake it convincingly for my fiction, I finally decided to take things to the next level. Last February I went off and spent a month (about 80 hours, all told) being trained and certified as a hypnotherapist. It’s given me some wonderful tools and some new ways of viewing the world around me and the people in it. It also reaffirmed and made explicit something I’d suspected but hadn’t really articulated, which is this:

All of us possess all the resources we need to resolve any and all problems we may have in life.

That’s powerful stuff, and hypnosis has shown me how to help both myself and others live happier and more powerful lives, and it’s disturbingly easy to achieve.

So one of things I’m doing this year is using my newfound powers for good, and actively using hypnosis to help other writers. This is also in the genre tradition of “paying it forward.” I’ve been developing materials that help writers use trance to overcome common problems such as writer’s block, turning off the internal editor, developing the habit of writing every single day. And I’m putting these things out there for free at a website called www.hypnosis4writers.com because doing my part to increase the range and quality of what gets written is both wonderfully selfish and selfless at the same time.

Sorry, but I have to interrupt you here to urge all writers reading this to take a look at that site and take to heart what Mr. Schoen offers. Bookmark it and come back regularly to check for files to listen to. Go on, please.

I have a really blessed life. I’ve gotten to do a lot of amazing things as teacher and author and publisher and klingonist and hypnotist. I’ve met wonderful people, eaten insanely delicious meals, visited breath-taking places, touched many people’s lives and maybe even made a difference in some of them. I must be doing something right, because you’ve asked me to be here on this blog and right now someone I may never have met, may never get to meet, is reading my words. Maybe some part of this will touch a chord in that person; maybe that person will have long since tossed up both hands and muttered “what a pompous ass!” Who knows. I’m not even sure which response would be better, and in the long run I suspect neither will the reader. But it’s a cool question, particularly when, like the distinction between journeys and destinations, I find questions much more interesting to ponder than their answers.

I am very glad you took the time to ponder on my questions and give me a wonderful set of answers. Thanks again and I hope you will honour me again with your presence when you have a new book, or the Hypnosis site is fully functional and want to give it a bit of a push.

To all readers/writers who have enjoyed my interview with Dr. Lawrence M. Schoen :: author :: publisher :: psychologist :: hypnotist :: klingonist, I say tell this Campbell Award nominee :::: Hugo Award nominee :::: Nebula Award nominee::: what you think of our interview by leaving a comment. Or visit him at his own domains:

www.lawrencemschoen.com ::: www.papergolem.com ::: www.hypnosis4writers.com

Featured Author – PA Clark

PA Clark Hi P, you are a busy author so let’s not waste too much time on introductions. Instead let the readers discover who you are by presenting them with our interview.

Grab a drink and a chair, because the grilling is about to start.

Can you tell the readers where you’re from and how you got there?

I was born and raised in California and have spent most of my life there. My mother is actually British and grew up near Leeds. She met my father, who was a soldier at the time stationed in England, during the 1960s. They hit it off and he eventually asked her to marry him. Soon afterwards, he brought her over to the U.S. where they finally got married in a small chapel. Her older sister followed her and they both settled in San Jose, CA during the 70s. I was born during that time and grew up in San Jose for the first twenty six years of my life. But now I live in Sacramento, CA with my wife and two children.

Do you have a day-job other than being an author?

I do have a day-job during the school year as a part-time teacher. I generally work three days a week while my kids are busy in school. The schedule works out well for me and gives me time to transport my kids around to their afternoon activities like piano lessons, soccer and taekwondo. It also gives me time to help them with their homework in the evenings. It can be hard to find time write, but I usually do it at night when everyone’s asleep. That way I can work without being distracted. Sometimes Mr. Sandman finds me before I can start. Other times I work on reviews for products. Writing reviews on products that I like is another hobby of mine.

How did you become interested in Asian culture? And does that include food? I happen to love food, and recipes, can you share a favorite dish of yours?

My interest in Asian culture stems mainly from my wife, who happens to be a Vietnamese immigrant. After meeting her in college, I soon discovered that I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about Asian cultures in general, especially Vietnam. The only information readily available to me at the time was about the Vietnam War, a pretty heavy topic. But I wanted to learn more about her background, not just about the war.

Interestingly, it wasn’t a problem for her that I didn’t know a lot about Vietnam beforehand. She seemed to be focused more on learning about the U.S. at the time. But I thought I should know more about her country, since we were going out and all. So I took it upon myself to learn about Vietnam, which slowly expanded into learning about Chinese and Japanese backgrounds. Actually, finding information on China and Japan was a lot easier at the time, probably due to the fact that both countries had a larger footprint in the U.S. already

I also got a chance to eat at numerous Vietnamese restaurants around town that I’d never tried out before. That’s when I learned to use chop sticks. I also discovered my favorite Vietnamese dish,Bún thịt nướng. It’s a meal that’s usually severed with long, white rice noodles, grilled pork chop and fried spring rolls. Spring rolls are basically the same thing as egg rolls. The order always includes a selection of tasty pickled vegetables, salad and fish sauce. It’s topped off with peanuts. Once those ingredients are mixed together in a bowl, I usually don’t speak again until I’m finished eating. There’s no time to make conversation when you’re eating good food. Although that can run me into trouble sometimes with my wife, who tells me I need to breath more when I eat, not just inhale my food.

Bún thịt nướngI would too, if that came to the table! 

What is the title of the book you’d like to talk about?

The book I’d like to talk about today is, The Lin Wu Chronicles: Senior Year.

lin wu cover

It’s my second book and is actually a set of nine short stories about the same character, an Asian American high school student interested in entering medical school. Her main quirk is that she has the regular misfortune of ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time. In many cases, her conflicts lean towards the spooky, where she gets entangled in horrors with ghosts, villains or other monsters. I’ve been told that Lin Wu bears a strong resemblance to Nancy Drew, only with more of an X-Files flare. I suppose that’s true to a degree, although I never read any Nancy Drew stories while growing up. But I knew who she was and what types of stories she was involved in.

 AMAZON|B&N|INFINITY PUBLISHING

How did you come up with that idea?

The character of Lin Wu actually comes from a variety of inspirations. The main one being my wife, who has always had a strong drive to study and work hard in school. That trait is apparent in Lin Wu. It’s the same drive I see in my wife, who also tries to instill the trait into our children. Doing well in school and working hard is definitely important to her. It’s a theme that many Asian families share, and comes in part from the ideas found in Confucianism. The idea that you should always better yourself throughout your life no matter what. Some people follow the idea more than others. But Lin would definitely be an individual who chose to follow that path. And the trait is partially instilled into her by her mother.

The second part of Lin Wu comes from my interest in Asian cinema, which includes Japanese, Chinese and Korean films. If you ever get a chance to read any Lin Wu stories and you’ve also seen some Asian cinema, you might find some similarities. That’s because Lin Wu is also based in part off the female heroine archetype in many Asian films. Back in the mid 2000s, Japanese Cinema was becoming popular in the US. Prior to that, the Jackie Chan craze had already hit the theaters. During those years, I must have seen every Jackie Chan film that was available. While they weren’t the best representation of Chinese culture overall, they were always entertaining. But I also noticed how the female characters in his films behaved. They were either tough and rugged just like Jackie, or they were the fleeting damsel in distress. The point being, they weren’t always stereotyped into one role except for the fact that they happened to be in a kung fu film.

Once the J-Horror (Japanese Horror) craze hit the states in the mid 2000s all sorts of Japanese films became available in the video rental market. In many cases they weren’t even dubbed into English. They were usually in Japanese only with English subtitles. After those films left their mark on audiences who enjoyed the genre, the K-Horror (Korean Horror) films soon followed. It was in those two genres where I saw the female heroine archetype that intrigued me. And eventually they became a part of Lin Wu

One of the traits I noticed right away was how the heroines tended to be school girls. They often had to be brave yet intelligent at the same time. They often wore spiffy school uniforms, which is a common practice in many Asian countries. And a lot can be said about the idea that less is more. Many of the films I saw relied more on the psychological element to help jump the viewer instead of big budget scares. Of course there were always exceptions to the rule, but I liked how some of the films dealt with scaring the audience without using over the top special effects. Many of the ghost films were simple, yet effective. You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones where the females have long black hair. They might be considered a bit cliché now, but they definitely had their own style and they helped set the formula I used for my Lin Wu stories.

I also found the mystery element a nice change of pace from the Hollywood style of filmmaking. Often the films would take their time to build up to the climax. That was definitely the case with the Japanese and Korean films I saw. What I took out of the Chinese films was more the style and energy in their action sequences. You can’t beat a good martial arts film.

brucelee

There is really only one seriously good martial arts movie as far as I’m concerned. Who knows can reply and who disagrees too. 🙂

With those different styles running around inside my head, I sat down and began writing my first Lin Wu stories. The conflicts ranged from trouble with ghosts to slight confrontations using martial arts. But all the stories had one central theme in common, that was Lin Wu was a serious student working her way through school. The characters and villains she met along the way became her curse as well as her chronicles.

For example, in Hall of Echoes, Lin believes she’s seeing a ghost roaming around her school, while in Sook-Joo vs the Phantom Squad, she gets caught up in a conflict between two martial arts schools. The idea of a creepy tale and martial arts are combined in, The China Town Vampires, which has roots in the hopping vampire genre, popular in Hong Kong during the 1980s.

If you’d have to change the genre, what would it be?

If I had to make a change to Lin Wu now, I might convert the idea into a book series instead of a set of short stories. Lin Wu was actually conceived as an audio book project. At the time, that meant the stories had to be a certain length so they would fit into the 1-Hour audio format. That was the genre I was trying to break into. It was a good experience overall in the sense that it allowed me to focus on one story at a time getting all the details down. But it also meant that some readers wanted to know more about Lin Wu’s background and her relationship with her mother, which the format didn’t allow for. That’s why I’ve started a third book now which will focus more on those aspects of her life while still following the thriller, mystery format. My next book will have Lin in high school again where she’s challenged to deal with another paranormal threat. This time while she’s aiding a little girl who believes a ghost is haunting her school restroom. It’s a take on a story I remember my daughter telling me once. Several of the girls at her school would talk about how they could hear strange sounds while they were in the restroom. Some of them were freaked out by it.

What did you like most about writing this book, and what the least?

What I liked most about writing this book was the chance to get down the ideas that were penned up inside my head for such a long time. It might sound funny, but sometimes you have to give yourself permission to write. By that I mean, you have to avoid all the little voices inside your head telling you not to do it because it will take too long or that it might be a waste of time. Once you get passed those obstacles, you can begin the writing process. And for me, that was the biggest challenge to overcome. I had to tell myself that it was OK to spend time writing, that it wasn’t a waste of time, that my stories could be published.

What I liked least about writing Lin Wu was probably the long hours it took to get it edited. It’s always hard to sign that final proof form stating that you approve this book and now it’s ready for publication. There’s always a little voice in the back of your head saying, “What did I miss?” And you always miss something it seems, but you have to learn to let it go. Being a perfectionist can be just as big an obstacle as being a defeatist.

Is there anything about this book and how it got written you’d like to share with us? I do so love funny anecdotes. 🙂

I can share one funny story with you. It involves me taking my daughter to a comic book/anime convention when my daughter was five years old. I had it in my head that it would be a good experience for me, since I wanted to research what the events were like for use in a Lin Wu story. I told my wife what I had in mind. She just shrugged her shoulder at me and said that it sounded like a waste of time. I assured her though that it wouldn’t be and eagerly set off for the convention with my daughter in tow.

Once we got to the hotel where the convention was to take place, I realized how big of an event it really was. The parking lot was packed. I had to park my car a long way from the hotel entrance. Once I finally found a space, I took my daughter by the hand and made my way to the front lobby. As we walked, I looked around at everyone else and realized how out of place we were. All the other patrons seemed to be either teenagers or young adults. Many of them were dressed in costumes such as super heroes, warriors, cyborgs, or anime geeks. I also noticed how some of the girls were dressed. They looked like Japanese characters from popular anime shows as they roamed around the parking lot in their sleek costumes.

Anime Convention Raleigh NC

Anime Convention Raleigh NC

There was even a photographer there from an anime magazine, snapping pictures of a girl dressed like a female ninja. She had one arm crossed in front of her face and gripped a blade in her hand as if she were an assassin ready to pounce on an unsuspecting target.

Eventually we got inside the lobby and walked around for awhile, trying to figure out where we should start. But the place was so crowded and the lines were so long, I had no idea where to go. The comic book tables were in a showroom that was charging extra admission just to look around. As I looked at a flyer given to me by a convention volunteer, I noticed that there was going to be a stage show later where groups of anime geeks were going to perform skits. That, however, also cost more money, and the tickets were outrageously priced. After wandering around aimlessly for awhile, not knowing what to do and feeling like an old man amongst a group of young people who were dressed a lot cooler than me, I walked out of the convention. My daughter just held onto my hand and didn’t complain. I think she was feeling just as overwhelmed as I was. We literally had no idea what to do. We were like two lost souls with no agenda, no purpose and no reason for being there. It was mutual.

When I arrived home my wife asked us why we were back so early. I told her how crowded it was and how I felt so out of place there. I described the lobby to her and how everything seemed to cost more money. She just listened to me rambling on and finally said, “see, I told you it would be a waste of time.” Then she went back to what she was doing, feeling confident that she was right and that I was wrong.

She was only partially correct though, because that particular incident led to another Lin Wu story called, Maid Momo. In it, Lin’s at an anime convention scantily dressed as the anime heroine, Maid Momo Battle Maiden of the Akihabara District. While there she gets harassed by anime geek intent on taking candid photos of her. One thing leads to another and the two of them end up being chased by a couple of anime geeks dressed like ninjas. The whole story is very reminiscent of a Japanese anime plot, which was intentional. It was my salute to the anime genre and all the shows I had seen in the past with anime characters in them.

Lin Wu 2 coverAlthough Maid Momo was one of my favorite stories to write, it doesn’t appear in The Lin Wu Chronicles: Senior Year. It appears in my first book called, The Lin Wu Chronicles. The main difference being that Lin is already a college student instead of a high school senior. But other than that, the formula for the stories remains the same.

Do you do any special things to market your work, and what do you think works best to get your name and book under the attention of future readers?

I haven’t spent a lot of time marketing my books. I have tried to make them available as much as possible by publishing them in print, e-book and audio book forms. I’ve also created several book and story trailers for them which can be found on my youtube page. But I don’t like the idea of pushing my books into someone else’s hands unless they have a genuine interest in reading them. The best marketing approach I’ve found is having more than one book available. If you have several books out there, a reader might come across one of them. If they like what they read, they might seek out your other books. It’s a good way to build an audience. I also think getting your book into a public library system helps to create awareness about your books. Particularly in print book form. E-books, while less expensive to create, don’t find their way into as many hands. Some people still like the idea of feeling an actual printed book in their hands where they can turn the pages.

Can you give us an excuse for not writing? Anything goes, get creative, but remember we have to believe it! 🙂

The first thought that came to my mind was not having any hands to type with. But even that can be overcome with voice recognition software, so I suppose I don’t have any good excuses, except for being lazy. But that will never fly. If you say you’re a writer, yet you never write, then that makes you a daydreamer. And daydreamers don’t write, they just imagine that they do. =)

Can you tell us something about yourself none has ever read before?

When I started getting into Japanese cinema, I thought about learning Japanese so I wouldn’t have to worry about reading subtitles anymore. I actually picked up a program that teaches you how to speak Japanese. But linguistics isn’t one of my strongest suits. I haven’t had a chance to learn Japanese yet, although I do understand some words now just from watching Japanese films. I still hope to learn the language someday. But I might have to learn Vietnamese first, since my wife is Vietnamese, not Japanese.

And finally what did you do, how did you celebrate when your book was published and the first one was purchased?

After my books were published and I sold a few copies, I celebrated by starting a third book. No really, that’s what I actually did. I still had more stories inside my head and they were just waiting to get out. So instead of letting them sit around for a while, where they would keep me up at night, I began working on plots for a new book. Use em or lose em I always say. 

And that is great advice to end this interview with. Thanks P, for being here and I’d love to see you back when you have more news. I’ll just tell the readers where to find you online and hope they’ll let us know how they enjoyed getting to know you.

PA Clark can be followed on his site and Facebook.