Featured Author Laurie E. Boris

Today’s featured author is the lovely Laurie E. Boris.

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Hi Laurie, how nice of you to join me on my blog today and that you are willing to shed some light on what drives you to write these great books, but for that I need to ask you some questions. Brace yourself, for here they come …

Can you give me your best Whoop? Unless you have another one which works better for you?

If I’m in public, I keep it clean. “Woo hoo!” Yeah. That’s generally me.

Okay, sounds like a winner that one, but does it work all the time, even those times when the muse has gone and done a runner on you? And when did you first start with it?

Anything that gets the blood moving. I think I started using it when my husband introduced me to NASCAR and football. (Not sports I ever would have sat down to watch on my own.) And about the muse? I don’t muse much about my muse. I’m a writer. I sit down and write. The times it flows and the times it doesn’t, I attribute more to my physical and emotional state. For instance, when I can do little more than stare at the same sentence, it’s generally because I’m tired or need to eat or get some exercise.

Right, sounds like you are on the right track there. Let’s do a few of the yada yada questions before we move on to the fun.

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

Don’t Tell Anyone.

Is that a joke Laurie? Are you trying to wiggle your way out of this?

No, I’m not kidding. That’s the title. Yes, you can tell people.

Okay. 🙂 In that case, I’ll show the cover too.

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Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?

Yes and no. Actually, it was excruciating. The working title had been The C Word since I started the first draft, because among the older generations of my family, nobody said “cancer.” It was the C Word, or never mentioned. Jewish superstitions, I think. But when I prepped the manuscript for publishing, the title was in use on at least six cancer memoirs. [This is not one, by the way, although a character in the book has cancer.] So I immediately thought of Don’t Tell Anyone, because nearly all the characters in the book have a secret and at some point ask their confidantes not to tell. Idismissed it initially, brainstormed about 250 new titles, and came back to Don’t Tell Anyone because my writing group and my husband really liked it.

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

Of this book, or in my writing in general? For this book, I toyed with making it a full-out, Coen brothers style dark comedy. But it didn’t work.

Just to confuse you we’ll take the alternative route now.

What don’t you like about writing, or whatever you need to do marketing wise?

I love writing. I love editing. Constructive criticism, bring it on. Marketing, not so much. I’m an introvert. We’d rather talk to one or two people at a time. I’m working on that.

Tell me, when your muse is visiting and you’re on a roll, what would seriously drive her/him away?

What drives the writing flow away for me is fatigue. Or if I’m doing something contrary to what my gut is telling me. That often means I’m off-track.

What does your muse look like?

The closest thing I’ve had to an actual muse is my late mother-in-law. She was one of my biggest fans. Sometimes she haunts my writing room and I can smell her perfume. I can almost hear her voice: “Finish that book already; I need something good to read.”

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

I frequently speak with them. We usually get along. If there’s a disagreement, it’s usually because I’m trying to make them do something they wouldn’t really do, or because they’re not ready to spill their secrets yet. You can’t rush a recalcitrant character.

Can you name the food and drink that will surely get you started?

Coffee or tea. Holding a hot mug centers me and helps me drift into the writing.

Would you be able to come up with an excuse on why you haven’t written a whole day, and have me believe it too?

I don’t write every day. I mark my progress by the week. Some I write more, some I write less. My excuse? I was editing a client’s manuscript. Or there was a good episode of The Big Bang Theory on.

Hahaha, those are actually very good reasons to procrastinate.

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

Because I don’t really like doing anything else.

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 from you. hehehe, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂

No problem, because I have no cats, dogs, or children. Although we have a lot of mice in our house, so one or more of the three would come in handy. I hear kids are really great at catching mice. Secrets? I always wanted to play second base for the New York Mets. Or be an umpire. I’m annoyed that I failed the height requirement to become a Radio City Hall Rockette. It took me five years to write my first novel (never published), and received 138 literary agent rejections, including one by an agent who also writes romance novels. In the book I make fun of romance novels. She was not amused.

Right, now let’s give out something about the writer. You know, some facts the fans would love to know.

Laurie Boris is a freelance writer, editor, proofreader, and former graphic designer. She is the author of three novels:

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and Don’t Tell Anyone, of which you’ve seen the cover above.

When not playing with the universe of imaginary people in her head, she enjoys baseball, cooking, reading, and helping aspiring novelists as a contributing writer and editor for IndiesUnlimited.com. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.

And finally we can we stalk, I mean follow, friend or find  Laurie on social media such as her websiteAmazon author pageFacebookTwitter, and Goodreads

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Featured Author and Giveaway – Thomas Rydder

thomasHi Thomas,

I’d like to start with a few ‘personal’ questions. Just for the readers to get a feel for the person behind the author. If that’s okay with you?

Hi Lucy! What a pleasure it is, being here with you. Thanks so much for the opportunity. Sure, I’m all about personal – go for it…

Anyway, I’ve laced your coffee with truth serum, so I guess there’s no dodging this. 🙂

Given the choice, where would you live? In a big city with all the buzz of it, or in a remote area with nature and its tranquility surrounding you? Knowing that in winter you might suffer power loss.

Just for the record, you’ll get more truth of of me if you lace my java with Bailey’s.

(Hehehehe, he doesn’t realise that is my choice of truth serum)

But for now, I’m not much for city life. In fact, my wife and I have joked numerous times that we’d like to be on the side of a mountain in a snug cabin, a large garden outside the door, a few hundred acres off woods beyond, and a lake at the bottom of the hill. One with plenty of bass and catfish. I really don’t think we’re joking…

Taking the kids on holiday, what is the dream vacation? Camping, or a completely organised trip in a luxury hotel?

We live a simple life, and work hard. Do pretty much for ourselves, cook rather than eat out, and don’t spend a dime if we can get by with a nickel. So, conversely with where I’d like to live, my idea of dream vacation is a cruise, all the frills included. Excellent meals, dances, onshore tours and activities, and being totally pampered for a week or ten days. Occasionaly, everyone needs pampering, you know.

Are you a star gazer, or a take the devil by its tail kind of person? i.e. do you think and re-think, or do you do what is necessary and to hell with the consequences.

I do civil engineering for a living, and in that, I have to be very calculating. Many things within a design can and will affect some other component, so I have to be careful in all aspects. That might be a compelling reason why the rest of my life is a bit spontaneous. I particularly like to jump in the car and go. No destination in mind, just drive and see where you end up. You can discover some interesting places like that.

Do you like to break the rules every now and then, or do you live your life by the book?

I’ve broken more rules than Evil Knievel broke bones. The trick is to know which rules you can break, and which will get you in real trouble. Minor rule-cracking is the only really smart way to be an outlaw in our world.

That was it, not too painful, was it? But that’s not why you are here. I can tell you’re itching to talk shop.

So shoot! What is the title of the book you would like to talk about?

Not too painful – but I’ll take another Bailey’s 🙂 (Did he know after all?)

At the risk of “breaking a rule”, I’d like to mention both books I have out now. My debut werewolf thriller “The Clearing” takes place in Small Town USA, where a pack of wolves move into the countryside around the town, and it doesn’t take the town folk too long to realize they are dealing with much more then typical Canis Lupus.

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My latest work is an anthology of three ghost stories – a novella and two rather long short stories. They all involve spirits who, for one reason or another, are compelled to interact with live folks – violently.

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Did you have difficulty coming up with the titles?

You know, I didn’t. It might sound crazy, but I’ve always been good with names. I used to walk down the street, and make up fictitious names for people I happened upon, based on their features or physical makeup. It was a game, and one that’s served me well in naming both my characters and my books.

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 wouldn’t do that. In my mind, any book belongs in a given genre, based upon its theme and story line. To change that goes against the nature of the book and won’t work. Werewolves kill, ghosts scare, and there’s not much that can change that – or should. I’m not going to go against my instincts in order to pacify a publisher. Not in today’s age of indie publishing. I’d simply put it out myself. Outlaw, you know…

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

Whew, that’s fun, isn’t it? I actually had a lot of that in my novella “Simona Says.” In fact, I struggled with the story a lot. It was gratifying to get the little chunks right and finally see it heading in the right direction. I’ll typically give myself a little fist pump and move on. Typically, when something like that happens, it means I’ve hit a groove and don’t want to waste it on celebration. So I take a minute then keep writing.

What don’t you like about writing.

Re-writing, hands down. I published “The Clearing” this past March, and got a few reviews that mentioned an aspect of the book that they didn’t care for. I recently re-wrote those parts and re-published it. But it was tough, you know? Once you have the story line hard-wired into your brain, it’s difficult to come around the other side and look at it in order to change it up. At least for me.

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

Marketing – my second least favorite endeavor. I really don’t like to push myself or my work on people, but it’s necessary, isn’t it? I do a lot of things. I have a pretty good blog that gets a fair number of hits, I socialize on Facebook, LinkedIn, Goodreads and Triberr and try to get my books listed on as many sites as possible. I’ve been doing a lot of guest posts lately. Pretty much anything from a more personal standpoint that might make someone reach for the Amazon button. In other words, I’m trying to sell without selling.

Now, don’t get me wrong. All the socializing is great fun, and I’ve met with a bunch of splendid friends. I’ll keep you posted on how the marketing is going.

Plese do that, because experiences of others are always the best way to ‘learn’ a new way of going about marketing better.

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

Not in my writing, no. I like to think my books reflect life, and the characters are real people. Different people eat and drink a variety of things, and it would be disingenuous to have it any other way.

In life is different. I’m a coffee lover, and a Kahula enthusiast. Pasta – many types of pasta – are on the top of my list, but my tastes are widely varied.

What is your favourite dish and can you give me the recipe?

tamale pieIt’s pasta, as you can imagine. My wife makes one wicked tamale pie. Odd name, and it has nothing to do with mexican. It’s similar to lasagne, and I could eat it four times a week. I’ll ask her about the recipe :). It’s pretty exclusive stuff…

 I’ll be waiting for that recipe then 🙂

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!

I don’t think anyone can come up with a viable excuse for not writing. There are all kinds of fake ones – tired, frustrated, bored, fidgety, angry, rushed, sick, depressed, excited. The excuses don’t matter, as they don’t in any facet of life. If you’re going to go to work, go to work. If not, then don’t. Same with writing. But if you don’t, then don’t bitch and moan because your book isn’t done. As my dad used to say, it ain’t gonna do itself.

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

Oh God, what I’d give. You kidding? You call that slaving? I’d be in my own little corner of Heaven. My wife and I have also discussed living at the beach – somewhat more convenient than the mountain cabin, and you don’t have to go to town twice a month to get flour and sugar. My favorite vision is sitting in my screen porch overlooking the ocean, my glasses perched on my nose, a White Russian frosty and delicious on the tray next to me, and a warm breeze wafting through my fingers as they fly over the keyboard. One of these days…

Okay now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want to blab about. But please no cat’s, dogs, or children. Make me laugh, or cry, or even envious. Tell me something no one has ever heard before from you. hehehe, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂

Fair enough. I not only write about ghosts, but also believe they exist. We’ve watched all kinds of shows and I’ve read extensively on the subject, and am convinced we aren’t alone on earth. Why the spirits are here are anyone’s guess, but the reasons are undoubtedly widely varied. Some folks might think I’m whacked out, and so be it, but the evidence is so compelling and intense, I don’t really see any way around the beliefs I hold.

One of my favorite shows is Long Island Medium, where a lady by the the of Theresa Caputo allegedly connects with folks that have passed and allow them to communicate with loved ones who remain. I believe in her abilities (Before you go judging me, go have a look at her show – you might end up converted), and part of my reason is hope.

See, I was born late in my parents’ lives, and I wasn’t, shall we say, the ideal son early on. I got in trouble a bit, left home early to go to the Marines, and then was a wild party boy. Consequently, I didn’t enjoy a close relationship with Mom and Dad the way some have. I’d like to have the opportunity to be with them once again, see what they think of the way I’ve turned out. (That’s a dicey prospect) and tell them I’d like to have it back to do again. It’s often said you can’t go back, and it’s true. But to see them just once more…

That is a very intimate snippet of your life you’ve shared there. Thank you, Thomas.

Lucy, thanks so much for having me on today. I appreciate it more than you can know…now, just one more of those tasty coffees of yours, and I’ll be on my way…

Here’s one, again laced with Baileys, but I guess you already figured that one out, eh?

I’d like to thank you for your candor and would love to see you back, a guest post perhaps?

Laughing we say our goodbyes, and Thomas asks me to tell you to enter his giveaway.  Later I find a note on the coffee table.

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He’s left behind links to where he can be found online should you want to stalk him. Of course I mean follow! Yes, follow!

Blog http://thomasrydder.wordpress.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/thomas.rydder

Twitter – @ThomasRydder

LinkedIN – http://www.linkedin.com/pub/thomas-rydder/5a/994/23a

But I must not forget to include the link to the giveaway Thomas has organised. Click the link to go to the Rafflecopter giveaway

But also go to his site and read the great post he’s done on halloween reading, answer his poll and stand a chance to win, win, win!

Featured Author – Kimberley Patterson

IMG_0033Today a yogi friend/author with a different kind of book joins me on the blog.

Don’t let my blabbing mouth keep you from finding out what and why. I’ll welcome her and get on with this interview.

Hi Kimberley,

Great to have a fellow yogi/writer on my blog today. I’d like to start with some personal questions before we dive into the wonderful world of books and writing.

Have you always been attracted to yoga, or did you prefer another form of exercise before you discovered the bliss of yoga?

I actually didn’t think too much about yoga until about five years ago when I was in a series of car accidents which left me in physical therapy. My therapist recommended yoga to me after six months of physical therapy going three days a week showed no improvement. I thought she was crazy at first because I could not even do push-ups on the wall, but after a matter of months yoga had healed me. I grew up riding horses so that was pretty much my means of physical exercise, with the exception of sports. I always excelled at tether ball, but I could never get a team formed to compete professionally.

What is a pose that you would love to be able to do to perfection, but has you crashing everytime?
Titibasana or Firefly pose.

ICPNo joke. Probably the most frustrating yoga pose that I just cannot get. My ego definitely takes a beating in this posture, and my concentration and breath are gone right after. I gave up even trying for a long extended period of time. Lately, I have been been more open to trying it, and still, no improvement. It’s definitely my new goal pose.

We all have that one we just cannot get. Don’t worry, let go and then suddenly you’ll find yourself able to do it as if you’ve never done anything else. 🙂

Are there any other quirks you’d like to tell us about? Or don’t you have a small streak of OCD?
I have a ton of quirks. I like to think it makes life more interesting. I don’t necessarily feel I have OCD, but I do have CDO – which is exactly like OCD, except all the letters are in alphabetical order, like they should be.

Hahahaha, now if that isn’t OCD, erm I mean CDO, sorry!

Given the choice, city or country living, what would you pick, and why?
Country living. I grew up in the city, but really fell in love with the country when my parents and I moved to Temecula and had some property. There is nothing like waking up to the quiet calm in the morning, and have the freedom to just hop on your horse and ride. Plus, I feel much more relaxed knowing that I don’t have to fight traffic. In addition, there’s a whole different mentality with people who live in the country. They make time to get to know you, and they genuinely care about you.

Thanks for giving us that small insight into you and your life. But you aren’t here for fun and kicks, right? 🙂 I bet you are eager to tell us all about your writing. Am I write?

So, what is the title of the book you would like to talk about?

I would love to talk about, my newly released YA Romantic Comedy, The Three Month Plan.

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Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?

Not at all. The title actually stemmed from a night at dinner with a few of my girlfriends a few months before the idea for the book ever came about. It was something we had joked about in relation to our real life dating situations and how we desired to change them.

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?

Initially, the book wasn’t going to be a YA book, and I was leaning towards the New Adult category, but I decided to stick with young adult since my first book, Red Rock, was also a young adult book. I have considered turning this book into a screenplay and making it more like the original concept.

Can you tell me how you celebrate finally getting that tricky chapter (or para) right?
I am a huge goofball, so I have no problem standing up and doing some wacky little dance, complete with a song, and making up my own words that usually don’t make sense. I usually save this for at home, because apparently the library frowns on this.

What don’t you like about writing.

Editing. I strongly dislike editing. Writing to me is the easy part, but because I tend to write how I speak, this usually leads to a bunch of edits. And those edits, then lead to other edits, and so on. I initially wrote The Three Month Plan in a matter of four months, but the actual edits took over a year. And just when you think you are finally done, something else gets brought to your attention. It really is an exhausting process.

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

Marketing is tricky as a self-published author. I find that most of the time, word of mouth and blogging tend to work the best. I have joined so many different websites, and groups and blog tours just to try to get more attention for the book. I am very active on my blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well because social media is very important.

Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life?
I don’t think I have a common food or drink in either of my books. I haven’t really thought about that. If there is, it’s definitely unintentional. The most common thing in both of my books are usually animals. Both of my books have horses in them, and animals are one of my favorite topics to write about.

What is your favourite dish and can you give me the recipe?

I have a huge sweet tooth, so my favorite dishes usually are dessert related. Lately, I have been experimenting with cheesecakes. I make an amazing key lime cheesecake. My best one to date though is a cheesecake with a brownie crust that’s separated by a layer of caramel. I make it all from scratch. I can give you the easier version of the recipe, because I usually don’t measure anything out and just go with it.

picture from bakebakebake.livejournal.com

picture from bakebakebake.livejournal.com

You need a springform pan to start.
1 (9 ounce) package of brownie mix
1 egg
1 tablespoon cold water
1 (14 ounce) package of individually wrapped caramels
1 (5 ounce) can evaporated milk
2 (8 ounces) packages of softened cream cheese
½ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup chocolate fudge topping

Preheat oven to 350, grease the bottom of the pan
In a small bowl, mix together the brownie mix, 1 egg and water. Add to pan. Bake for 25 minutes.
Melt the caramels on the stove with the evaporated milk over low heat in a small saucepan until smooth. Remove 1/3 of it and pour the remainder over the brownie mixture.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixture until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Pour the cream cheese over the carmel layer on the brownies.
Bake the cheesecake for 40 minutes. I like to set my pan in another pan with a little bit of water in it to make sure that the cheesecake stays moist and doesn’t crack. Once it’s done baking, I also leave it in the over with the door cracked open until it cools.

Sounds DELISH! Must try this recipe and keep it in the make this folder. 🙂

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!

Well, I didn’t write at all today, but that’s because I spent a lot of time on this interview.

Ooops! Sorry. 🙂

And finally why would you ever want to live life behind a keyboard slaving over a manuscript?
I don’t! I mainly started off writing just as a hobby. I teach yoga and own a small skincare studio in San Diego as my “real jobs.” I don’t know that I would be able to sit still long enough and indoors to write full time. I am more of an outdoors person, so even when I do write I try to do it outside. I find my best inspiration there.

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 from you. hehehe, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂

Well, now that you took away my three topics I was dying to write about, I guess I will have to go with something else. Let’s see… I’ll go with a different topic altogether that’s true. I once sat in a hot tub with a serial killer in Yosemite, and narrowly escaped being his next victim by following my intuition. That’s a whole other story for a different time. Maybe even a great topic for another book.

Thank you so much for the wonderful interview!!

Thank you for taking the time to stay in and answer my questions. If you ever feel the need to share more, give me a holler and I’ll gladly welcome you back.

Featured Author – Freddie Wegela

2010-12-20_22-02-40_374 Today a man with a vision joins me on my blog. Let me introduce to you Freddie Wegela.

Hi Freddie, we have read a bit about you when you were a Guest Blogger. For those who have missed that one, check it out here. As I said, welcome Freddie. Have a drink, grab a chair and make yourself comfortable.

Where, or when did your writing life start?

My third grade teacher (appropriately named Mrs. Reed) was a very beautiful woman, and to please her I pretended to read Gulliver’s Travels, for which I received many delicious hugs. I understood little of what I read but enough about tiny men and giant frogs to make her think I was comprehending some of it, which I guess I was, though I knew if tested I wouldn’t pass. Anyway, it was during this period I got the idea that girls, grown up beautiful girls, liked books and that (quite possibly) they liked the boys who wrote them even better. The truth of this was born out in the 11th grade when another beautiful teacher of mine asked if she could keep a short story I had written for an assignment, a grotesque story of a soldier who had tried desperately to free himself from the clutches of a dead man’s hand that was emerging from a grave. It was a terrible story but she liked it and by extension (I imagined) she liked me too – which, of course, kept me writing, even if only occasionally. A certain confidence had been born. The Muse appeared to me many times this way, early on and later in life, in various and beautiful (and sometimes not so beautiful) female forms.

Do you consider yourself a poet or a straight fiction writer?

This is a bit like asking do you take your fiction straight up or dirtied with a little poetry. Ezra Pound declared that if one wanted to learn how to write poetry one would be well advised to learn how to write good prose. I had written nothing but poems early on and well into my adult life before coming across Pound’s words, which inspired me (ironically) to try my hand at fiction. And to my delight, I’ve found the distinction made between poetry and prose to be at best a false one. In writing the novel, Then Like the Blind Man, for example, the attention paid to the rhythm and music of word phrases to render the southern vernacular was very much like that paid to writing poetry.

Have you been Published?

Yes. See above. Some indeed have seen fit to publish what was originally scratched on odd scraps of toilet paper and in bent notebooks in moods of angst and repose – some with, some without doubt.

Are you an author first, or is there another profession you call yours?

I’ve been a counselor, but gave that up to write full time. Now, that’s what I do – assuming there’s an ‘I’ of course and a ‘doer’ and a thing to be ‘done’ – which I am attempting not to do – which of course is another way of doing what you have set out not to do. This has something to ‘do’ with writing I think in that some of my best writing has occurred almost without warning or almost without any intention whatsoever. I’m not sure what I’m talking about here exactly but I’ll leave it here anyway – just because there’s something about it that feels right. I can’t say that being a counselor or psychotherapist has had anything directly to do with the day to day skill of writing, though it certainly has provided information and inspired a range of feelings, compassionate and those of a less charitable nature.

Is there any place on earth you love above all?

If there are no places on earth, where is the question of a favorite? The answer to this question is the place – the one I love most of all.

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

Something called Soak. This is not constant so much as curious – and rare – remembered – included in Blind Man.

Can you give me the recipe?

Here it is – straight from Then Like the Blind Man!

She walked around Granpaw and stood next to the stove. She had a thick white mug like his in one hand and a spoon in the other. “Orbie hon, look up here to me. You got the dry eye, don’t ye?”

I didn’t know if I had it or not.

“No,” I said.

“Yes you do.” Granny dug out a spoonful of coffee and biscuit from her mug. I’d seen her do that other times I was down here. Coffee and biscuit from a mug was one of her most favorite things. She called it ‘soak’. “You know what the dry eye is?”

Note: Add sugar if desired.

And now for something serious. 🙂

What is the book you came over to talk about? As mentioned above, THEN LIKE THE BLIND MAN: Orbie’s Story

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How did you get the idea of writing that one?

I was born in Kentucky but soon after my parents moved to Detroit. Detroit was where I grew up. As a kid I visited relatives in Kentucky, once for a six-week period, which included a stay with my grandparents. In the novel’s acknowledgements I did assert the usual disclaimers having to do with the fact that Then Like The Blind Man was and is a work of fiction, i.e., a made up story whose characters and situations are fictional in nature (and used fictionally) no matter how reminiscent of characters and situations in real life. That’s a matter for legal departments, however, and has little to do with subterranean processes giving kaleidoscopic-like rise to hints and semblances from memory’s storehouse, some of which I selected and disguised for fiction. That is to say, yes, certain aspects of my history did manifest knowingly at times, at times spontaneously and distantly, as ghostly north-south structures, as composite personae, as moles and stains and tears and glistening rain and dark bottles of beer, rooms of cigarette smoke, hay lofts and pigs. Here’s a quote from the acknowledgements that may serve to illustrate this point.

“Two memories served as starting points for a short story I wrote that eventually became this novel. One was of my Kentucky grandmother as she emerged from a shed with a white chicken held upside down in one of her strong bony hands. I, a boy of nine and a “city slicker” from Detroit, looked on in wonderment and horror as she summarily wrung the poor creature’s neck. It ran about the yard frantically, yes incredibly, as if trying to locate something it had misplaced as if the known world could be set right again, recreated, if only that one thing was found. And then of course it died. The second memory was of lantern light reflected off stones that lay on either side of a path to a storm cellar me and my grandparents were headed for one stormy night beneath a tornado’s approaching din. There was wonderment there too, along with a vast and looming sense of impending doom.”

I read the usual assigned stuff growing up, short stories by Poe, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Scarlet Letter, The Cherry Orchard, Hedda Gabler, a little of Hemingway, etc. I also read a lot of Super Hero comic books (also Archie and Dennis the Menace) and Mad Magazine was a favorite too. I was also in love with my beautiful third grade teacher and to impress her pretended to read Gulliver’s Travels for which I received many delicious hugs.

It wasn’t until much later that I read Huckleberry Finn. I did read To Kill A Mockingbird too. I read Bastard Out of Carolina and The Secret Life of Bees. I saw the stage play of Hamlet and read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle too. However, thematic similarities to these works occurred to me only after I was already well into the writing of Then Like The Blind Man. Cormac McCarthy, Pete Dexter, Carson McCullers, Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Conner and Joyce Carol Oates, to name but a few, are among my literary heroes and heroines. Tone and style of these writers have influenced me in ways I’d be hard pressed to name, though I think the discerning reader might feel such influences as I make one word follow another and attempt to “stab the heart with…force” (a la Isaac Babel) by placing my periods (hopefully, sometimes desperately) ‘… just at the right place’.

Did it take you long between idea and finished book?

Let’s see. I started the short story I think sometime in 97 (maybe earlier) and the first draft was completed in the spring of 2003. I was working with Judith Guest (Ordinary People) and Rebecca Hill (Among Birches) at the time and their suggestions and criticisms required another almost two years of writing before I had a serviceable draft ready to submit to agents. More editing and rewriting followed in response to the agent I was working with and later to a couple of professional editors. I don’t think I had what you’d call a ‘finished book’ until 2008; approximately 11 or 12 years after I began the journey.

How did you celebrate writing the last words of your manuscript?

I don’t remember. Probably I drank wine and ate a little cheese. There was no definitive end. In fact, I went back and changed aspects of the ending even after it was published.

What do you like most about being a writer?

I like getting into the skin of my character, seeing the world from my character’s point of view. I like the attention to detail this requires. I like getting into the smell, the taste, the sight, how the character might hear a sound or how a certain texture might register with a character’s sensibilities. I like getting into all that and then working very precisely with the details of creating and showing a scene that is either an expression of what is occurring or completely at odds with it. The rest – the selling, the marketing, the posing, the branding – is all nonsense in a way or at the very least beside the point.

What do you do to promote your book and which thing do you think works best?

Well, there’s Facebook. My book has its own page at Facebook where I try to promote it and other books as well as other writerly things. There’s my website and blog. I have some recordings of me reading from my book there with sound effects and musical loops. I have other plans for the site but have no idea when or if I’ll ever have time to get to them.  I advertise. I’m on Goodreads, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter. I’m learning how to tweet. My book is with Kindle Direct Publishing and I have offered it for free several times, which has served to get a fair number of readers and many, many customer reviews, most of which, I’m happy to say, have been of the five star variety. I think that for a relatively unknown like myself it’s important to secure advocates for ones work, not just sales. My book has been downloaded almost 75,000 times for free, which hasn’t directly put a dime in my pocket but has most certainly created a small and growing audience for my work. And that tickles me several different shades of sunrise pink.

And to end on a creative note. Can you tell me something about you no one has ever heard before? (You can cheat and make something up, but if you do you have to tell us it’s really a very well crafted lie, because we have to believe it. 🙂 ) I am not a writer; I am not a householder, husband, brother, friend, uncle, son, a salesman, shaman, seeker, therapist, tai chi practitioner, irreverent fan of chocolate chip cookies, baked chicken, pinot noir, juniper and gin. In fact, I am nothing in particular yet I am. (go figure)

Thank you Freddie for this great interview. It was a pleasure hosting you and I do hope you will want to return at some stage when you have more news to share.

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.