Author Interview: Eric Douglas

The Writing Life is very pleased to welcome Eric Douglas, author of Return to Cayman.

Eric Douglas headshot

Life is an adventure for author Eric Douglas, above and below the water, and wherever in the world he ends up. Eric received a degree in Journalism from Marshall University. He has worked in local newspapers where he honed his skills as a story teller. Following a stint as a freelance journalist in the former Soviet Union, Eric became a dive instructor. Not too much later, he became a Diving Medical Technician. Moving from California to North Carolina, he became the Director of the Training and Education Department at Divers Alert Network. The ocean and diving have factored into all his novels since then.

What is your book’s genre/category?

I write in a couple different genres, but my primary series of books, the Mike Scott series, is Action/Thriller/Suspense.

Please describe what the story/book is about.

Return to Cayman is the sixth book in the series. They are all thrillers set in island/exotic locations with an underwater/scuba diving theme. I’ve had the good fortune to work in the scuba diving industry for nearly 20 years, and it has taken me to some beautiful places, all of which have (or will) be settings for books. My first novel, Cayman Cowboys, was set on Grand Cayman. For my latest book, my character is returning to Grand Cayman after being away for 10 years. Just about all of my stories contain an environmental element, and it is forefront in this one, but the primary theme/problem is cybercrime.

RtCayman book cover

How did you come up with the title?

Cayman Cowboys came out in 2005, so for this 10th anniversary, I wanted to take Mike Scott back. And Return to Cayman was born. It just made sense. Plus, from a marketing perspective, Cayman is a recognized place and I thought that would appeal to people interested in traveling vicariously to the islands.

What is the reason you wrote this book?

All my stories have some element of history or current events in them. In August of 2014, a cruise ship dropped anchor on a reef in Grand Cayman, destroying a section of reef. The locals and the dive community are working to restore the reef. The first action sequence in the book covers a cruise ship grounding and then spins off on tangents. It gave me a chance to talk about what happens to the reef when something like that happens. I also plan to donate a portion of the first couple month’s royalties to the reef recovery effort.

What is your favorite part of writing?

I always tell people I love to write because it keeps the voices in my head quiet. Or at least quieter…

What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Focus.  My voices come up with so many great ideas, it is hard for me to pick and choose the stories that will make it all the way to the end. And, of course, in the middle of a book, when it feels like a slog and you are never going to get through it, it is so easy to get distracted with something new and shiny.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

I grew up on science fiction: Asimov, Clarke, Bradbury. In my 20’s I really got into Tom Clancy. I’ve read just about everything from Clive Cussler and others in that vein. I really enjoyed The Art Forger by Barbara Shapiro recently, and I’m on my third book by Sheila Redling right now.

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

From a writing/stylistic perspective, I’d have to say Clancy and Cussler. Clancy for the detail and the ability to weave multiple, disparate storylines together and end up at the same place. Cussler for the unabashed adventure and fun. I hope I do them both justice. I’d also have to give a hat-tip to Jacques Cousteau and reading National Geographic all my life for the desire to explore the world and the ocean.

Favorite place to write?

I have a home office. In the winter, I’m there, and I love to have a fire in the fireplace. That always gets me in the mood for writing. As soon as the air temperature breaks 50 degrees, if it is sunny, I am out on the patio writing. That’s really where it all takes off for me.

Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

Even though I have a public persona, and I really do enjoy talking to people and gain so much energy from it, I’m not an extrovert. I’m an intensely private person. I love listening to others, but I rarely share many personal details.

Any surprises or learning experiences with the publishing process?

Probably the best learning experience is that there is no magic bullet. I’ve read (or at least started) some terrible books that are best-sellers and read a literary genius that sold a couple hundred copies. Anyone who tells you they have the “secret” to selling 1000’s of books is lying to you. It is hard work and something you have to push every day.

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?

Return to Cayman came out a week or so ago, and what I think I’ve done better with this book than any of the previous ones is to begin promoting it early in the process, and to gain supporters who can help me promote it. By offering to donate a portion of the proceeds to the reef recovery effort, for example, I have a group of people who also have a vested interest in seeing the book do well.

Any advice for writers looking to get published?

Everyone always tells you to read. I agree, but my advice is to learn about everything you can. Volunteer for everything you can; you never know where it will lead you. In my professional career, if I hadn’t refinanced my car in 1993 to take a trip to Russia, I never would have been hired by the biggest diving company in California in 1998. If I hadn’t done that, I never would have gotten the chance to study diving medicine, and to move to another company in 2000 that opened numerous other doors. You never know where things will lead and if you don’t explore those avenues, just because, you will miss out.

Website?

I’ve had the same website since 2005 when I only had one book. I was optimistic. http://www.booksbyeric.com/

Where can we find your book?

Print books are available at all the online retailers, including Amazon. My ebook versions are on Kindle.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently putting the finishing touches to a novella, in a series of short stories I created, set on a fictional island in the Florida Keys. In June, I am taking on an oral history project (I also write non-fiction, documentary work), and I really want to work on a period story set in Charleston, WV in 1890 around the salt industry. It is a spin-off from a collaborative book I wrote with several other writers called River Town.

Thanks for a great interview, Eric. I wish you much success with your books, and happy traveling! Eleanor

 

About Eleanor Parker Sapia

Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s work as a counselor, alternative health practitioner, a Spanish language social worker and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. She is a member of PEN America and the Historical Novel Society. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, and is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

A Decent Woman is Eleanor’s debut novel, set in turn of the century Puerto Rico. The book was selected as 2015 July Las Comadres & Friends Latino Book Club, Book of the Month. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children and she currently lives in West Virginia, where she is writing her second novel, The Island of Goats.

A DECENT WOMAN available now on Amazon amazon.com/-/e/B00U05ZO9M

 

 

New Book:  Eleanor Parker Sapia’s “A Decent Woman”

Reblogged by Repeating Islands

Repeating Islands

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Eleanor Parker Sapia’s debut novel A Decent Woman (Booktrope 2015) focuses on the lives of two women from different backgrounds but with shared experiences at the turn of the (past) century, starting in 1899 in Ponce, Puerto Rico, with the onslaught of the San Ciriaco hurricane. It explores race, class and gender in the context of the legacy of slavery.

Description: Ponce, Puerto Rico, at the turn of the century: Ana Belén Opaku, an Afro-Cuban born into slavery, is a proud midwife with a tempestuous past. After testifying at an infanticide trial, Ana is forced to reveal a dark secret from her past, but continues to hide an even more sinister one. Pitted against the parish priest, Padre Vicénte, and young Doctór Héctor Rivera, Ana must battle to preserve her twenty-five year career as the only midwife in La Playa. Serafina is a respectable young widow with two small…

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Drones: A New Research Source For Writers?

el morroThe Internet is incredibly helpful when researching and writing historical novels. We have access to everything under the sun, and then some with a click of the mouse. I remember many times when I finished writing a chapter of A Decent Woman and went back to fill in with details I’d gleaned from my Internet research. Now, not everything we read on the Internet is accurate; in fact, I found conflicting items on historical timelines, for example. So it behooves us to double check with secondary sources for accuracy.

Along with the Internet, we have our local library, museum archives, curated collections, vintage photographs, postcards, and letters, old films and maps, and of course, there is a vast collection at our disposal of non-fiction and fiction books written on most of our topic of choice.

Last month, I discovered something interesting while researching for my work in progress, The Island of Goats. I’d like to share that with you.

The Island of Goats, set in turn of the century Puerto Rico, Spain, and France, begins in a leprosarium on a small islet off the coast of San Juan, Puerto Rico called Isla de Cabras. Through my research, I found photographs of the island, but nothing in great detail until I stumbled upon a YouTube video taken by a man with a drone camera. I was immediately intrigued. In the video, the camera hovers over the ruins of the leprosarium, flies along the entire rocky and barren coastline, and finally enters a few dilapidated stone buildings of the leper colony. My jaw dropped at the amazing images the drone was able to capture—a fascinating bird’s eye view! I watched it several times and was able to get closer looks by starting and stopping the video.

Now, I can describe the outside of the buildings in greater detail and accuracy, and with new eyes, describe what views the sufferers on Isla de Cabras would have looked out upon from inside the buildings. The views are amazing, and I’m one happy camper…er, writer.

Eleanor

About Eleanor Parker Sapia

Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s work as a counselor, alternative health practitioner, a Spanish language social worker and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. She is a member of PEN America and Historical Novel Society. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, and is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

A Decent Woman is Eleanor’s debut historical novel, set in turn of the century Puerto Rico. The book was selected as 2015 July Las Comadres & Friends Latino Book Club, Book of the Month. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children and she currently lives in West Virginia.

A DECENT WOMAN available now on Amazon amazon.com/-/e/B00U05ZO9M

Our Gifts: Small and Large #MondayBlogs

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It is not unusual for me to briefly return to painting or drawing after a particularly long writing session, or if I feel stuck in a chapter or a paragraph of my work in progress. Yes, you could say I reward myself for a good writing session with my first passion—painting, and you’d also be correct if you thought I return to what I know best and did for most of my adult life when things get tough. You see, I came to writing late in life–at age 50 to be exact.

Usually, I force myself to remain seated in my writing chair by trying out different phrases, grabbing the thesaurus, breathing in and out, and visualizing the scene, because I know writers must travel through dark valleys, alleys, and around corners to get to the other side, to the light. It has happened to me—beautiful prose doesn’t always flow on demand because we have time, the inclination, or even if the muse is willing.

I am blessed to have many wonderful avenues of expression—all creative outlets—and I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t paint. I thought of this last week and came to a realization—everything we do is a creative outlet; no matter how small or insignificant it may seem to us…or others. Our creative outlets are blessings, and I am grateful for them.

How grateful am I?

My artistic gifts have always nourished and sustained me. My gifts of writing and painting keep me grounded, and make me feel vital, energized, and relevant. I do not, however, have other gifts which others might take for granted if they don’t view them as gifts and creative outlets. For example, I cannot sing a note without sounding off-key, and I don’t have the breath necessary to really belt out a song, which I’ve always wanted to do! I am not good at math, so my checking account is usually a bit messy, and I’m not a great organized, so my writing desk isn’t neat and tidy–I was absent the day God handed out those gifts.

I am, however, highly intuitive and creative; always have been. When I was growing up, my father turned his head at the gift of intuition, as well as my gifts of creativity and imagination. His feet were firmly planted on the ground and growing up poor only led to his deeply-rooted belief that everyone should earn their way in life; hobbies were silly. When I was ready for college, my father was adamant that studying art and painting would lead me nowhere and that I would die of starvation. I wanted to pursue art and English Literature in college, but he forced me to study business, which I did. I pursued art and writing on my own while working as a secretary for seven years before I married and had children of my own.

Of course as is life when you are a creative person (and a stubborn woman), I ended up painting, writing, and exhibiting my paintings as an adult. I now use my gifts every day, and so do you. You might bake, make beautiful flower arrangements or wreaths, decorate a beautiful room, and have a garden that people admire. You might make furniture, work on cars, cross stitch, write short stories, make beautiful scrap books or invitations, or write poetry. I never took my gifts for granted because I had to fight for them all my life.

But how grateful am I for my creative gifts?

Last week, during my first book festival as a participating author, I met a tall, lanky young man who approached my author table, pushing a stroller that held an adorable infant who was rubbing her eyes, flanked by two little girls who held onto the sides of the stroller. The young man introduced himself as William and then he introduced his daughters, which I thought was beautiful. As it turned out, soft-spoken William and his brood were looking for a gift for his wife/their mother for Mother’s Day.

I answered his questions about my historical novel, A Decent Woman, and he said the book sounded right for his wife. He went on to tell me how strongly he felt about introducing his young daughters to women who are living their passions in life. I was entirely charmed by William, and my sister and I agreed that he was an amazing father.

Then William told us a moving story about his battle with brain cancer after a youth spent on drugs, playing basketball for his university only to fall and injure his knee, and about getting in trouble most of his young life. He said it was time to share his story. Well, it has been a long time since I taught creative writing, but I encouraged him and without thinking, I said I’d help him as a writing coach and I’d edit his manuscript free of charge. The words rolled off my tongue and felt right.

William thanked me, reached across the author table, and shook my hand. I handed him my business card, and asked him to send me an outline of his story. He was overjoyed and when he left, I whispered to my sister, “What have I done? I’m writing and researching my second novel. I don’t have time for this!” My sister smiled and reminded me of the question I’d posed to myself the week before, “How grateful am I?” Was I willing to give back for writing an historical novel that has so far been well received? Was I serious about being grateful? It would have certainly been easier if I’d offered to read to his daughters or even babysit! Writing takes time, energy, and lots more energy. I’m 57…I don’t have all the time in the world, but I’d committed. And I always keep my word.

On Monday morning, I had a long email from William with an outline attached. I was blown away by what I read—his life had indeed been a struggle from childhood to the present. It’s a wonderfully inspirational story, and the outline will need a lot of fleshing out, but the bones are there. I will learn a lot while coaching and editing for William, and I have a feeling William will teach me more than I could ever imagine.

I know it will take us some time to write William’s inspirational memoir because he is a new writer, but we’re on the path. One chapter at a time.

About Eleanor Parker Sapia

Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s work as a counselor, alternative health practitioner, a Spanish language social worker and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. She is a member of PEN America and Historical Novel Society. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, and is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

A Decent Woman is Eleanor’s debut historical novel, set in turn of the century Puerto Rico. The book was selected as 2015 July Las Comadres & Friends Latino Book Club, Book of the Month. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children and she currently lives in West Virginia.

A DECENT WOMAN available now on Amazon amazon.com/-/e/B00U05ZO9M

Author Interview: Justin Bog

Today I’m pleased to welcome author, Justin Bog to The Writing Life.

Justin Bog's author photo

Justin Bog, a member of the ITW: International Thriller Writers, is an author of literary psychological suspense, horror, and contemporary fiction. Currently, Bog is an Editor for Gravity books, an imprint of Booktrope publishing. Justin was Pop Culture Correspondent and Editor for the eMagazine, In Classic Style. He enjoys cooking and spends time walking and handing out treats to two long-coat German Shepherds, Zippy and Kipling, and two barn cats, Ajax The Gray and Eartha Kitt’n. He lives in the Pacific Northwest on Fidalgo Island.

Welcome, Justin!

What is your book’s genre/category?

Literary/Psychological Suspense stories. This collection in its original form was named Best Suspense Anthology by Suspense Magazine!

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Please describe what the story/book is about.

Sandcastle and Other Stories: The Complete Edition takes the collection full circle. There are now twelve dark tales and these deal with the human condition, how we all try to get along, face obstacles, work towards understanding, even when the journey takes a darker turn. There are some shocking moments, twisty endings, and bedeviled people in moments of stress within these tales, but there is also a sense of humor, a moment where life makes us all laugh at our weaknesses exposed.

How did you come up with the title?

Sandcastle is the tale with the strongest “Gotcha” moment. I wanted to create my own Shirley Jackson tale, tell it in a naturalistic way, normal, and show how a chill can enter even the sunniest of places. This is a story with a definite ending, but it never ends since thinking about the story continues long after the story is told. I used this story as the marker for the book, and the title developed from there. A few of the other stories placed highly in short story competitions, earning early recognition.

What is the reason you wrote this book?

I wanted to gather up a few of the stories from my past work, and write a few new chillers for a debut book as a self-published author way back in 2012, and then a publisher came calling for the collection. Since then, I want to keep sharing my stories with readers. Sandcastle received incredible notices and was a Finalist for the Ohioana Book Award in 2014, chosen out of 400 other books. Being from Ohio, all of my books are entered there. Many states help their authors by claiming them. Now, I added two new dark tales that fit with the original ten and actually make the book feel rounder, strengthened in tone, the final tale sharing imagery placed within a few of the other stories, and ends the dark collection on a more hopeful note, as slim as that is.

What is your favorite part of writing?

When I get lost in the process, in heavy writing mode, the outside world disappears and a new world forms. I forget what music I’m listening to, fading to white noise, distractions also evaporate.

What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Finishing a story is the most challenging, and this mostly with longer stories, novellas, and novels. I’ve written and completed novels (unpublished so far), but I’m not satisfied with them; parts need a ton of rewriting. I keep going back to them and tweaking sections. This becomes circular. When will it be finished? A perfectionist is never satisfied, and this is one of my faults. I’m working on not kicking myself too hard, and will try to get these novels out to readers in the coming years. Right now I like the brevity of telling a short story.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Shirley Jackson is my favorite, along with other short story writers and a few novelists like Raymond Carver, John Cheever, Margaret Atwood, Rachel Ingalls, Cris Freddi. Gillian Flynn is a newer author I admire because she owns the darkness she writes about. It’s what interests me, too.

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

See previous answer and add Stephen King (I try to tell this kind of story, too), Richard Matheson, Peter Straub, and other horror writers of the seventies like Joan Samson, who only wrote one horror novel in her lifetime, the killer, The Auctioneer. My work is veering into the horror genre of late.

Favorite place to write?

I write in my home office. It’s a mess of papers and piles of books, but it’s a comforting place.

Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I stay at home most of the time and enjoy the company of my four pets—I love watching movies, and once thought about becoming a film critic. I’m not a hugely social person.

Any surprises or learning experiences with the publishing process?

Social media does build friendships. Mainly with other authors in the same place, writing their own stories in their singular fashion. It’s not a competitive sport, thankfully, and each writer out there has been able to show me something new.

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?

I let the stories speak for themselves. And spoke to anyone who wanted to talk to me about the book. Over the years, I’ve built up only a meager following, but I love the readers who tell me the stories hit them well. I don’t love the marketing aspect of the writing life, but it’s necessary to announce a new book, tell as organically as possible why people would like the book, and move onto the next book, build up a body of work. I’d love that.

Any advice for writers looking to get published?

The best advice I received? Learn to write. Take the time to learn the basics of writing. Study it so much that information, rules, spring out of your ears. Write every day. Write even though you think what you are writing is horrible. Put that story away deep in your own file drawer. Resist taking this out later and fixing until you have the skills. Learn to write. Take time off from this writing education and live life to the fullest. Each experience helps. Relationships. Study people, how they talk, converse, face adversity… and then come back to the writing desk and tell these stories that you can’t get out of your head.

Website?

www.justinbog.com

My creative writing blog is here.
Follow me on Twitter @JustinBog

Where can we find your books?

Sandcastle and Other Stories: The Complete Edition is available for Pre-Order at Amazon right now and will be available as a paperback and at other bookstores at the end of May. Here is the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Sandcastle-Other-Stories-Justin-Bog-ebook/dp/B00X4JTOYM/ref=sr_1_2_twi_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1431887189&sr=8-2&keywords=justin+bog

I also published a stocking-stuffer-sized collection of holiday tales titled Hark—A Christmas Collection with Booktrope last November, and these are about real people, adults, dealing with the holiday season while facing challenges, loss, longing, love, even madness. http://www.amazon.com/Hark-A-Christmas-Collection-Justin-Bog-ebook/dp/B00PL81XFC/ref=pd_sim_351_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=04GEA8PKXKY276YCXVXE

What’s next for you?

I’m finishing up four novellas for a fall release, tentatively titled, The Answering and Other Dark Tales. One tale is a psychological thriller, another is bio/contagion horror, and another is a supernatural tale about a vengeful ghost. The fourth novella is in the creation machine.

Thanks for a great interview at The Writing Life, Justin Bog. I wish you much success with your books! 

Eleanor

About Eleanor Parker Sapia

Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s work as a counselor, alternative health practitioner, a Spanish language social worker and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. She is a member of PEN America and Historical Novel Society. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, and is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

A Decent Woman is Eleanor’s debut historical novel, set in turn of the century Puerto Rico. The book was selected as 2015 July Las Comadres & Friends Latino Book Club, Book of the Month. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children and she currently lives in West Virginia.

A DECENT WOMAN available now on Amazon amazon.com/-/e/B00U05ZO9M

Author Interview: Bonnie Dodge

Today, The Writing Life is very pleased to welcome Bonnie Dodge, the author of the women’s fiction novel, Waiting.

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Bonnie Dodge lives and writes from her home in southern Idaho. Her award-winning fiction, poetry, and non-fiction have appeared in several newspapers, magazines, and anthologies in the Pacific Northwest, including Sun Valley Magazine and Idaho Magazine.

Welcome Bonnie!

What is your book’s genre/category?

Women’s fiction

Please describe what the story/book is about.

Three generations of Foster women–senior citizen Maxine, attention seeker Grace, and aspiring artist Abbie–think they are nothing alike. But they all share a secret. They wait. For love, for attention, for life, for death, for Idaho’s warm, but promising summer to return. In their journeys between despair and happiness, they learn there are worse things than being alone, like waiting for the wrong person’s love. With sensitivity and humor, Waiting carries readers into the hearts of three women who learn that happiness comes from within.

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How did you come up with the title?

I actually struggled with the title. Although the book is about women who wait, thus Waiting was the obvious choice, there are other books and movies out there with that title, and I tried to find something else. In the end, there wasn’t a better choice.

What is the reason you wrote this book?

A couple of my friends were struggling with their relationships. One said she couldn’t wait until her husband died so she could live her own life. So many women fall into this pattern, even younger girls. By nature, women are so eager to please. We wait wait instead of taking charge and making things happen.

What is your favorite part of writing?

I love hanging out with my characters and watching them make the changes others are unwilling to make. It gives me a chance to play What If? and stir things up a bit.

What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

One of the most challenging aspects of writing for me is time management. Today it is so important for the author to take an active part in marketing, which takes away from the hours one could/should be writing. Sticking to a schedule and pumping out new pages often takes second seat. Marketing is hard for me; I would much rather be writing.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

I’m a big fan of women writers: Alice Hoffman, Anita Shreve, Margaret Atwood, Barbara Kingsolver, and Pam Houston, to name only a few. I also enjoy Stephen King, Gregory Maguire, Michael Ondaatje, and John Steinbeck. I read voraciously.

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

Perhaps the authors who have influenced me most as a writer are Alice Hoffman, Anita Shreve, Edgar Allan Poe, and Virginia Woolf. I like the magical realism in Hoffman’s novels, the honesty in Shreve’s work, the mystery and macabre in Poe’s stories, and the daring in Woolf’s. I am most interested in what makes us tick as human beings and how well we get along with others. Family relationships are a theme I never tire of and when I read, I look for books that deal with navigating the humanity tightrope.

Favorite place to write?

I work best in my office. Two walls are hunter green, two walls are white, and I have a window that looks out into a yard filled with trees. I can write anywhere, but I’m most productive at my desk.

Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

In college, I changed my major from Science to English. When I was young and idealistic I thought I wanted to be a scientist and do research. Although I still believe that is a noble profession, subjecting living things to tests for the betterment of mankind is something I would never be able to do. I don’t even step on spiders, or kill mice, which I hate. So I think I made the right decision.

Any surprises or learning experiences with the publishing process?

Publishing and writing are two very different challenges. Publishing requires a business hat, while writing demands a hat of creativity and spontaneity. The two are as opposite as anything can be, and the successful writer needs to find a way to manage both.

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?

I think what helped me most in writing this book is that I fell in love with the story, and especially Maxine. The theme is one of those universal truths that we can’t escape. In order to coexist with those we love, we often find ourselves waiting and compromising. It’s that simple and that hard.

Any advice for writers looking to get published?

Wow, we could write a book on this question, couldn’t we? The best advice I have for writers looking to get published is first know why you want to get published, and realize that writing and publishing are two separate things. So many beginning writers focus on getting published—they try to write for the market, they try to please their critique partners, they expect to sell the first book they write—and so often the work suffers. Writing is butt in chair, alone, mastering words on a page. Publishing is selling those words to people who don’t know you. Expect rejection and expect hours and hours of revisions. Learn how to pitch, and pitch to the big houses, realizing that there are hundreds of small presses looking for good, interesting books. The hybrids like Sunbury and Booktrope are also options. If you are willing to work hard, your work will find a publisher.

Website?

bonniedodge.com

Twitter: @BJDodge

https://www.facebook.com/bonnie.dodge.967

Where can we find your book?

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Waiting-Bonnie-Dodge/dp/1620155001

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/waiting-bonnie-dodge/1120255869?ean=9781620155004

Books-a-million: http://www.booksamillion.com/product/9781620155004

What’s next for you?

I’m working on revisions to my historical novel, Goldie’s Daughter that will be published by Booktrope this fall. It’s a story about a young girl, Emily, growing up in a mining camp. Her mother was a camp prostitute. Emily believes the only way she can escape her mother’s sordid reputation is by running away to St. Louis. There she learns that her reputation follows her, and until she can accept her past and who she is, she can’t have a happy future. It’s a great coming-of-age story set in 1882, with stagecoaches, steamboats, and trains.

Thanks, Ellie, for inviting me to share Waiting with your readers.

My pleasure, Bonnie. Thanks for a great interview and much success with WAITING!

About EleanorParker Sapia

Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s work as a counselor, alternative health practitioner, a Spanish language social worker and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, and is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

A Decent Woman is her debut historical novel, set in turn of the century Puerto Rico. The book was selected as 2015 July Las Comadres & Friends Latino Book Club, Book of the Month. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children and she currently lives in West Virginia.

A DECENT WOMAN available now on Amazon amazon.com/-/e/B00U05ZO9M

Motherhood: The Hen or the Egg?

When I think of Mother’s Day, my thoughts immediately go to my children and to my mother, Mercedes, who died in 1992 at my present age. I think of my grandmother, Eloina, now passed on, and her mother, Amancia, who died tragically when my grandmother was the tender age of nine—for without the long lineage of amazing and beautiful Puerto Rican and Canarian women before me, my children wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be here and I wouldn’t be a mother. Of course, my father, the men in my family, and my ex-husband played a big role, as well. But, since today is Mother’s Day, I’ll stay on the subject of motherhood and children.

matthew's 21st bdayOn Mother’s Day, I don’t immediately think of receiving gifts, cards, and flowers from my kids. I don’t wait for invitations to brunch, and I would certainly understand if my children couldn’t call me on this day. I don’t guilt them into remembering me one day out of the year; they remember me well every day of the year…but I am happy when they do.

They’ve never missed sharing Mother’s Day with me in some special way, and I wonder to what extent my heart would ache if they did forget? Knowing myself well, my heart would be heavy, but I would never doubt their love for me. Never. Their actions and behavior during the year and over the years, have taught me actions will always speak louder than words. Was I always this way? Quasi-wise? Are you kidding? No, definitely not. I had to learn…the hard way.

If you were to ask my children to describe what it was like growing up with me, they’d probably say I was strict, over-protective, physically demonstrative, fun, sometimes clueless, funny, and always loving. They know I am their biggest cheerleader, always will be, and they’ve given me much to celebrate and be proud of. When my kids were in their twenties, I had a hard time letting go of them, which stemmed from my naive expectations that their childhood would resemble mine.

I realized that as much as I wished my children could experience what I’d experienced growing up with my mother, my grandmother, and the women of my family—we weren’t living in the 1960’s, and memories are not to be repeated. Some traditions, though wonderful, aren’t meant to last. Instead, for me, memories and traditions are to be treasured, kept safe, and are easily accessible to keep me warm and smiling. It was not our destiny to gather at my house for every single holiday and for many important life events. My kids and I wouldn’t spend every summer together at my river place. None of those things would happen very often because I taught my kids to be independent, free thinkers, and adventurous. I showed them, and marrying an Army officer helped, that the world is a wonderful place to be explored and embraced—we traveled and lived abroad for most of my children’s lives.

IMG_3290Motherhood in my late twenties taught me to capture and nurture my children’s hearts and minds, to keep them safe, and hopefully teach them important life lessons. I know I missed some.

But as it turned out, my adult children taught me how to parent adult children—you don’t try. I learned how to release them in love when it was time. Release seems like a strong word, a word that conjures up thoughts for me of simple traps, nests, holding fledgling birds to the sun and the wind, and releasing them in an open field, knowing they are ready to fly into the great unknown with an arsenal of lessons and information. And that’s exactly what it felt like. They know I will always be there for them.

I soon found out (because it all goes so fast) that parenting children and parenting young adults is drastically different—I will always be their mother, but I can no longer parent—they stand on firm ground and have done so for many years. My children taught me as much as I’ve taught them, and no, I didn’t know it was time to let go when it arrived. As it turned out, I was the one who flew the nest first. I left the Washington, DC area in 2011 when my kids were working and building lives in Northern Virginia. They were settled and happy, growing strong roots when I decided it was time for me to move where I could afford to live and write full time. It was a tough decision, and despite their immediate concern and hurt feelings, I knew the time had come for me to leave the nest to ultimately allow my children to spread their wings and soar.

IMG_4576Four years on, my son moved back to Europe. He lives and works in the Netherlands. He’s never been happier or more productive. My daughter pursued her Masters degree and left a long-term relationship that could never nurture or protect her like she deserved. She’s never been happier or more productive. Me? I’m proud of my children. Loving and supporting my children from afar is enough, and when we come together like today on Skype—it’s magic. We shared a special time on Skype and I am happy.

Do I still give my kids advice, offer suggestions, and try to show them a better way to do things? Are you kidding? Of course, I do! Only now, I stop myself mid-sentence and grin like a Cheshire cat. A smile says, “Oh, yeah. You got this.”

About EleanorParker Sapia

Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s work as a counselor, alternative health practitioner, a Spanish language social worker and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, and is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

A Decent Woman is her debut historical novel, set in turn of the century Puerto Rico. The book was selected as 2015 July Las Comadres & Friends Latino Book Club, Book of the Month. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children and she currently lives in West Virginia.

A DECENT WOMAN available now on Amazon amazon.com/-/e/B00U05ZO9M