Author Interview: John M. Cahill

Welcome to the Tuesday Author series at The Writing Life blog, where I have the pleasure of chatting with authors across genres. Today, I’m very pleased to welcome John M. Cahill.

John M. Cahill was born and raised in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in the history-rich Berkshire Hills. He earned a B.A. degree in journalism and political science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. After graduation, he moved to New York’s Capital District where, for 34 years, he enjoyed a successful and rewarding career in public relations and social marketing with New York State government. While living in New York’s Mohawk Valley, he became fascinated with the Dutch and Iroquois history of the area. He now lives with his wife in Vienna, Austria.

John is the author of Savage Wilderness, the second book in a series entitled, The Boschloper Saga. The first book in the series, Primitive Passions, was published in 2015.

John M. Cahill

Welcome, John.

What is the genre of your book series?

Savage Wilderness is historical fiction, specifically an historical adventure.

John Cahill Savage_Wilderness

Please describe what Savage Wilderess is about.

Savage Wilderness continues the adventures of Sean O’Cathail on the frontier of 17th-Century New York. Sean is a young Irishman who has come to America to seek his fortune. He becomes a fur trader in Albany and, eventually, is named a special envoy to the Iroquois for the lieutenant-governor of the Colony of New York, Thomas Dongan.

At the start of Savage Wilderness, in 1687, the flow of beaver pelts to Albany has slowed to a trickle. In response, Governor Dongan grants licenses to Albany traders to enter French territory and divert the furs of the Far Indians in the west from Montreal to Albany. However, as the expedition sets out for the Great Lakes, the new governor of New France, under orders from King Louis XIV, has mounted an invasion of Seneca territory. Caught in the middle, the Albany traders are captured by the French and their Indian allies and sent to Montreal and Quebec where they would be held as bargaining chips in the continuing power play between the governments of New France and New York. At this point, Sean finds that his adventure is only just beginning. He need all his wits and the help of a long-lost love to survive and return home.

How did you come up with the title?

The title comes from a quote from a 1775 speech in Parliament by Edmund Burke, “By adverting to the dignity of this high calling, our ancestors have turned a savage wilderness into a glorious empire.”

John, what inspired you to write this series?

While I was working for New York State government in Albany and living in the Mohawk Valley, I began to explore the relationships and interactions of the Dutch and English fur traders, their Iroquois neighbors and their French adversaries. I found that I was especially intrigued by the events of the second half of the 1600s. At that time, although the English had taken New York from the Dutch, the Dutch in the colony behaved as though nothing had changed.

Does your main character resemble you? If so, in what ways?

It’s hard to say without sounding as if I’m bragging, but I like to think that Sean is a “mensch,” someone who has integrity and honor, and is faithful to his family and friends

What do you find is the most challenging aspect of writing?

The hardest part of writing, for me, is motivating myself to just write. I have a strong predilection for procrastinating and calling it “research.”

John, what is your favorite part of writing?

As Dorothy Parker famously said, “I hate writing, but I love having written.”  For me, the favorite part of writing comes when I am satisfied to the degree that I can send my manuscript to a publisher with a clear conscience.

What was the last book you read? What did you think of it?

The last book I read was Enigma by Robert Harris. I hadn’t seen the movie and the book sat in my TBR pile for over a year before I made myself read it. I was quite pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t boring as I had feared (breaking codes). It was even a quite exciting story (no spoilers).

Who are some of your favorite authors?

My favorite authors cover a lot of ground. Besides Robert Harris, I like Bernard Cornwell, Ian Rankin, James Lee Burke, Roddy Doyle, Martin Cruz Smith, John Grisham, John Sanford and Jeff Shaara.

What authors or person(s) have influenced you as a writer and why?

Reading the works of James Fenimore Cooper, Kenneth Roberts and Walter D. Edmonds as a youth got me interested in pre-Revolutionary America and made me want to learn more. Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor showed me the kind of realism in writing to which I aspire.

Do you have a favorite place to write? To read?

I have a study in which I write. I’ll read anywhere and everywhere.

Tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I can’t whistle. Never could. As a child, I was quite embarrassed by it, but I grew out of that.

Did the writing process uncover surprises or learning experiences for you? What about the publishing process?

In my professional life as a social marketer, I was a writer and editor for more than 30 years. So, I found the process of writing a novel to be oddly liberating. I guess I just assumed that the publishing process would be the thicket of brambles that I have found it to be.

What do you hope readers will gain from your book?

I hope that they will come to appreciate the lives of the people who first opened up the American interior and to realize that many of the political and cultural problems of the time are much the same as those we face today. History really does repeat itself.

John Cahill Savage_Wilderness

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you write and market this book?

I kept faith in myself, my imagination and my talent.

What didn’t work as well as you’d hoped?

Living in Europe and trying to market books about colonial America in the USA is extremely difficult.

I can relate. The setting for my two books is Puerto Rico and I live in the US. Marketing is a bit more challenging from a distance.

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

Don’t give up. Learn from each experience and keep plugging away.

Website and social media links?

Website: http://www.john-m-cahill.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jmcahill47

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9875321.John_M_Cahill

Where can we find your book?

Savage Wilderness is available from W & B Publishers at www.a-argusbooks.com

Primitive Passions is available from Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Primitive-Passions-Boschloper-Sage-1/dp/1537174983/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1489249012&sr=8-5&keywords=primitive+passions

John Cahill second book

What’s next for you, John?

I am currently working on Book 3 in The Boschloper Saga. With the working title, Inglorious Revolution, it will focus on concurrent events associated with King William’s War, e.g., the massacre at Schenectady, and Leisler’s Rebellion in New York.

Thank you for a great interview, John. I wish you the best with your series!

About Eleanor:

ellie

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the award-winning historical novel, A Decent Woman, published by Scarlet River Press. Her debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. A writer, artist, and photographer, Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, The Laments of Forgotten Souls, set in 1920 Puerto Rico.

Eleanor’s book: http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK
Please visit Eleanor at her website:
www.eleanorparkersapia.com

International Women’s Day, 2017

Shared article: http://www.upworthy.com/21-ways-to-participate-in-womens-strike-even-if-you-cant-take-off-work?g=2&c=ufb1

Can’t take off for the Women’s Strike? Here are 21 ways to show your support.

On March 8, 2017, A Day Without a Woman, an international women’s strike will take place.

In the spirit of the highly successful Women’s March on Jan. 21, the International Women’s Strike was organized to raise awareness of the seen and unseen ways women and girls contribute to the economy, all while receiving lower wages, enduring toxic and unsafe work environments, and facing discrimination.

Thousands gather at City Hall for the San Francisco Women’s March. Photo by Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images.

If you’re professionally and financially able to take off work and step away from home responsibilities, do so.

Organizers also encourage participants to avoid emotional labor and shopping for one day, with exceptions for minority- and woman-owned businesses.

Of course, many women, femmes, and gender-oppressed people do not have the economic security to take off from work, child care, or home duties for a day. That’s part of the problem. Those who can strike will strike for them.

If you’re unable to take off work (or are looking for something to do while on strike), here are 21 things you can do to support the Women’s Strike.

1. Take part in an International Women’s Day event in your community.

A Day Without a Woman is held on International Women’s Day. Cities around the world are hosting events before, the day of, and the following weekend. RSVP to a local march, listening session, or talk in your neighborhood.

Women march on International Women’s Day in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images.

2. Wear red to show your support.

Organizers selected red as a bold, determined color “signifying revolutionary love and sacrifice.” Need something red? Consider adding one of these red shirts to your wardrobe, as each one supports the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” campaign.

Photo by iStock.

3. Learn more about women in the labor movement.

Understanding the vital role women play in the labor movement — particularly women of color and women living in poverty — is vital to understanding how we move forward and improve working conditions for all women. Start your research by exploring the contributions of women like Rose Pesotta, May Chen, and Hattie Canty (no relation). And check out this book about the first successful all-women sit-in.

4. Dine out at a woman- or minority-owned restaurant.

If you must shop during the Women’s Strike, support a small, woman-, or minority-owned business or restaurant. That money stays in your community and goes right into the pocket of a woman who needs it. Aren’t sure where to find woman- or minority-owned businesses? Maybe…

Photo by iStock.

5. Join or support your local women’s chamber of commerce.

Chambers of commerce work to grow, support, and sustain businesses in specific communities or run by specific populations. You can join your local women’s chamber as a community member or business owner, or see if your employer is a corporate member. Funds go to support training, business resources, marketing materials, and more. Check out and support local black, Latino, and LGBTQ chambers of commerce as well.

6. Stream films by female directors.

Support the art and stories of female filmmakers and take a few hours to watch some of their work. Some of my favorites streaming now on Netflix include “Pariah” (Dee Rees), “Paris Is Burning” (Jennie Livingston), “Clueless”(Amy Heckerling), and “Girlhood” (Céline Sciamma).

Aasha Davis (left) and Adepero Oduye in “Pariah,” 2011, ©Focus Features. Photo courtesy Everett Collection.

7. Support female artists and performers in your community.

No matter where you live, there are talented women on the rise who could use your support. Stand-up comedy, music, art, and other live performances are often free or low-cost and a great way to support the arts scene in your city.

8. Freshen up your timeline and follow female leaders, scientists, writers, and performers on Twitter.

Here’s a list of black women that fit the bill exactly. Your timeline will thank you.

Start with first lady of New York City Chirlane McCray. She’s a force for good. Photo by Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images.

9. Call or write your legislator and share where you stand on living wage, equal pay, family leave, reproductive justice, and maternal health issues.

These are not solely women’s issues; they’re issues that affect the health and success of everyone in this country. If women can’t succeed, our country won’t succeed either.  Or better yet…

10. Look up the next town hall in your area.

Take your message straight to the people in charge by seeking out and attending a town hall. If your rep hasn’t hosted one in a while, request one — and remind your representative that they work for you.

A town hall meeting with Sen. Tim Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina. Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images.

11. Contribute what you can to different women’s groups and nonprofits.

Donate your time and money to local groups empowering and uplifting women and girls in your area. If you need some ideas, check out Black Girls Code, The Malala Fund, or the National Women’s Law Center.

12. Buy a box of Girl Scout cookies.

The Girl Scouts have helped generations of girls take risks, explore the outdoors, learn new skills, and lead with confidence. Money raised from cookies helps fund these life-changing experiences. Plus, you know, cookies.

Molly Sheridan,13, and her sister Edie, 5, sell Girl Scout cookies in Chicago. Photo by Nova Safo/AFP/Getty Images.

13. You’ve got friends who should run for office. Tell them.

There are women in your life who would make great elected officials. Maybe they’re already thinking about it or maybe it’s off their radar. Mention it. Let them know you believe in them. Check out the great resources from Emily’s List, Running Start, and She Should Run for women interested in pursuing political office.

14. Find your inner RBG, or at least attempt one of her intense workouts.

At 83, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the oldest and one of the strongest voices for women and progressive issues on the U.S. Supreme Court. She works out with a personal trainer to keep her mind and body strong so she can continue to do her job at “full steam.” Channel your inner RBG and try it out for yourself. No robe required.

Ginsburg speaks at an annual Women’s History Month reception on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images.

15. Celebrate the women in your life and thank them for the work they do.

A call, text, note, or high five can go a long way to let the important women and girls in your life know you see them and value their contributions to your family, neighborhood, or community.

16. Inspire the next generation of brave women with picture books.

It’s never too early to encourage children to dream, explore, and lead. Check out “The Apple-Pip Princess,” “Molly, by Golly! The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter,” and “Rosie Revere, Engineer” next time you’re at the library.

“Rosie Revere, Engineer” by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts.

17. Donate new packages of pads and tampons to shelters.

No woman should have to choose between menstrual products and their next meal, but that’s a reality many women face when they’re experiencing homelessness. Reach out to the shelters and domestic violence resource centers in your area to learn more and drop off donations. Or connect with national groups like Support the Girls that focus largely on this issue.

18. Take a minute for yourself.

Yogurt, candle, and chocolate commercials are constantly asking women to take time for themselves, but we rarely do. Self-care and taking a moment to reflect, breathe, and relax are critical. If we don’t care for ourselves first, we can’t care for the ones we love or stay strong in the fight for equality.

Photo by iStock.

19. Be an ally for other women you work with.

Support, repeat, and give credit for good ideas in meetings like the women of the Obama administration; keep and share a running list of back-up child care providers; offer to be a mentor or listening ear to new hires; work together to push back against sexist dress codes or natural hair bias; and encourage community, not competition.

20. Watch speeches from the Women’s March to remember why you’re fighting and stay inspired.

There are plenty of videos online from the national march in D.C. and satellite events around the globe. Take a few minutes to remember the enthusiasm, unity, and revolutionary spirit of the day and use it to fuel your action going forward.

Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images.

21. Share why you’re striking or why you’d like to strike with your network.

Be sure to use the hashtags #DayWithoutAWoman and #IStrikeFor.

If your job isn’t secure or you don’t feel comfortable sharing online, confide in a person you trust. Telling our stories is key to helping everyone understand that our challenges, struggles, and issues are not exceptions to the rule — in fact, they’re all too common.

However you mark the International Women’s Strike, make it your own.

This is your movement, your day, your chance to take part in a global show of support for women, femmes, and gender-oppressed people. Make it your own, and make it count.

 

Author Interview: Marsha Casper Cook

Welcome to the Tuesday Author Interview series at The Writing Life. Each Tuesday, I have the great pleasure of chatting with authors across genres about books and writing, and marketing and publishing. 

Today I am very pleased to welcome Marsha Casper Cook, a talented screenwriter, novelist, editor, and writer of children’s books. Marsha, who hails from Chicago, is a radio show personality on Blog Talk Radio, which is how we met a few years back. Her World of Ink Network partner for the last five years is V.S.Grenier, an author, editor, and radio show host, who lives in Utah. Marsha’s group discussions always feature interesting and talented writers and center around writing, publishing, screenplays, and books. I love her show, and always come away with pages of writing tips.

In this interview, Marsha graciously offers readers a glimpse into the business of turning books into audio books, and I’m excited to begin.

Welcome, Marsha!

marsha-cc-photo

marsha-cc-book-cover

What is your newest book’s genre?

Romantic comedy.

Please describe what Grand Central Station: Some Relationships Are Just Meant to Be is about.

A famous child psychologist, who has authored several bestselling books on raising children, discovers he doesn’t know as much as he thought he did when he meets a pediatrician and mother of three. Neither of them imagined how their lives would change when they shared a flight headed for Las Vegas for a medical convention.

For Jack Winston and Victoria Feingold, whatever happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas. It follows them back to Chicago.

Jack doesn’t want to fail, but he’s not sure he’s emotionally prepared to live with Victoria’s three children. Not to mention her mother, sister, dog, and needy ex-husband.

Grand Central Station is a fast-paced ride and a lot of fun! 

Congratulations on Grand Central Station, Marsha! How did you come up with the title?  

There was so much going on in the story, and it seemed as if Grand Central Station would be the perfect fit. A busy house with so many characters coming and going. 

What inspired you to write this romantic comedy?

It’s taken from one of the screenplays that I had written several years ago and loved. It had been optioned, but never produced.

How exciting that the screenplay was optioned, Marsha. In my mind’s eye, I can see this romantic comedy on the silver screen. Best of luck!

Does your main character resemble you? If so, in what ways?

Actually, there really were no similarities to any of the characters in my book, but I felt the family quarrels were most likely a part of any family, including my own.

What do you find is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Not coming up with another story while I’m working on one. I usually think any idea that pops in my head might be better than what I’m writing, but usually the feeling passes.

That’s a familiar scenario when I’m writing, as well. What is your favorite part of writing?

I enjoy the fun of not knowing exactly how my story will end. I always feel if I don’t know the ending, the reader will be just as surprised as I was when I wrote it.

What authors or person(s) have influenced you as a writer and why?

I have been lucky to meet wonderful people all through my life that have guided me in my writing by telling me their stories, and in turn, I listened with open ears and learned how to write good characters with real problems.

Marsha, many of your books are now audio books. Could you tell us about that process? I know I’m more than interested.

One of my favorite passed times is listening to audio books. When I hear an audio book, it’s becomes a special event and very entertaining. The story comes to life, and it’s so enjoyable I sometimes wish the story could go on forever; however I do agree with the common complaint about the narration. If you like the voice behind the words, it’s such fun to imagine the setting and the story, but if you don’t, the feeling is not the same, and sometimes it’s enough to make you go on to something else. It doesn’t hold your interest.

I never thought my books would become audio books, but because of Audibles and the sharing method between the producer of the audio and the author of the book, it became possible.

The children’s books that I have on audio were a great learning experience for me. I got to hear every word and realized that after reading a book and listening to the audio, the experience is far greater than just the read, especially for children.

I urge authors and readers to give audio books a chance.

For authors go to www.acx.com

http://www.audible.com/search/ref=a_hp_tseft?advsearchKeywords=marsha+casper+cook&filterby=field-keywords&x=0&y=0

http://www.audible.com/search/ref=a_search_tseft?advsearchKeywords=lady+jane+sinclair&filterby=field-keywords&x=0&y=0

Thanks so much for sharing, Marsha. I love audio books, and would love to go down that path with my first book. 

Do you have a favorite place to write? To read?

I love writing in coffee shops or restaurants when I’m by myself. That’s when I truly feel I’m completely in my characters world. 

Tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I’m very organized, however as a teenager I wasn’t and didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I usually try to tell parents not to judge their children so harshly because life has a way of working itself out and growing up isn’t easy. Every child needs their space as do adults.

True words and great advice for parents. As a kid, my interests were varied and appeared to have no rhyme or reason to many adults. Looking back, the common denominator was creativity and a healthy imagination.

Did the writing process uncover surprises or learning experiences for you? What about the publishing process?

Over the years, I have learned so much from writing and doing my radio shows, which in turn gave me the best education ever on how to independently publish, and not worry that a publisher may have rejected my work. If the story is good, readers will enjoy your work regardless of who published the book. Enjoy writing and try to remember that if your book makes you laugh or cry, that is always a good thing because your readers will probably do the same.

I also feel that because things have changed over the years in publishing, authors have an open field for fulfilling their dreams. They just have to be persistent.

marsha-cc-book-cover

What do you hope readers will gain from your book?

It’s always good to hear your reader understood what you were trying to convey in your story, and as authors that is the best feeling imaginable.

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you write and market this book?

I used my own judgement. Listening to too many people can end up causing a writer to feel insecure and not finish their story. Finishing the story works!

I agree wholeheartedly–finish writing the book! What didn’t work as well as you’d hoped?

Usually by the time my story is written, I’m hopeful that everything worked during the journey because if I felt uncomfortable on any level, I would try to re- work my story until I got it right.

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

My suggestion would be if you are having trouble getting an agent or publisher, find an Independent service and publish your own book, but don’t skimp on three very important aspects of successful publishing: editing, formatting, and getting the best artwork you can for your cover.   

Website and social media links?

Radio Show Blog – http://worldofinknetwork.blogspot.com/

Author Blog – http://whatsnewwithmarsha.blogspot.com/

Marsha’s Website-   http://marshacaspercook.com

Radio Show Website – http://worldofinknetwork.com

https://www.facebook.com/marshacaspercook

Where can we find your books?

https://www.amazon.com/Grand-Central-Station-Relationships-Meant-ebook/dp/B01B8CBDMC

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/michiganavenue

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?Query=marsha+casper+cook  

A list of Marsha’s books:

Novels: Grand Central Station – romantic comedy & audio book; Guilty Pleasures series – erotica

Children’s books: The Busy Bus; No Clues No Shoes – also audio; The Magical Leaping Lizard – also audio; Snack Attack -also audio; I Wish I Was A Brownie- also audio

Screenplay (book): It’s Never Too Late

Non-Fiction:
To Life 

What’s next for you?

I have several projects in my head. One is to write another romantic comedy, and the other is to add to my Guilty Pleasures series.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Marsha. It’s been a real pleasure getting to know more about you and your books. I wish you the very best with your many books and audio books!

About Eleanor:

ellie

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the award-winning historical novel, A Decent Woman, published by Scarlet River Press. Her debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. A writer, artist, and photographer, Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, The Laments of Forgotten Souls, set in 1920 Puerto Rico.

Eleanor’s book: http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK
Please visit Eleanor at her website:
www.eleanorparkersapia.com