Author Interview: Manuel A. Meléndez

Welcome to our Tuesday Author Interview series at The Writing Life, where I have the pleasure of chatting with authors across genres. Today I am very pleased to welcome Manuel A. Meléndez. 

Manuel A. Meléndez is a Puerto Rican writer, who was born on the island and raised in East Harlem, N.Y.  He is the author of two mystery/supernatural novels, WHEN ANGELS FALL, and BATTLE FOR A SOUL, five poetry books, OBSERVATIONS THROUGH POETRY, VOICES FROM MY SOUL, THE BEAUTY AFTER THE STORM, MEDITATING WITH POETRY, and SEARCHING FOR MYSELF.  Two collection of Christmas short stories, NEW YORK CHRISTMAS TALES, VOL. I and II, and IN THE SHADOWS OF NEW YORK: TWO NOVELETTES.  The novel WHEN ANGELS FALL, was voted by The LatinoAuthors.com as the Best Novel of 2013, while BATTLE FOR A SOUL was awarded an Honorable Mention in the 2015 International Latino Book Awards for Mystery Novels.  His short story A KILLER AMONG US was published by Akashi Books in SAN JUAN NOIR anthology.

New Manuel Melendez

Welcome, Manuel!

Which book are we chatting about today, and what is the genre?

The book I would like to talk about is a collection of supernatural/mystery short stories I’m currently working on called “Wicked Remains”. The supernatural genre is one of my favorite genres not only to write, but to read, as well.

Please describe what “Wicked Remains” is about.

The collection is an assortment of tales, from the typical old fashioned werewolf and vampires stories, to the demons who invade your dreams, turning them into nightmares.  And then, to the twisted, criminally insane killers.

Thanks for sending the illustration by Henry Simon, which will appear in your short story collection.

Manuel Melendez photo

How did you come up with the title?

I played with many different angles to come up with a title I felt was able to capture the many themes of the book and its eclectic collection of stories.  “Wicked Remnants” is what haunts you after the nightmare.

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

Yes, many of my characters have some of my DNA twisted somewhere in their personalities.  You can’t help it.  I’m sure many writers use their own experiences, pain, laughter, and tears to blend into their fictional creations.

So true; it’s hard for most writers to not weave something personal into their character or story. What inspired you to write this collection?

Even though the majority of my writing involves poetry and novels, short stories have always been the format I’m most drawn to.  The challenge of creating rich tales complete with conflicts has always fascinated me.  I believe to quickly deliver the full arc of the story to the reader makes you a better novelist…and poet, as well.

I agree with you. What is your favorite part of writing?

Taking a deep breath, having an idea that will launch a story and give it flight, and then allowing the voices to take over your creativity. Then just let it flow. Forget the basic concepts of grammar, spelling, run-on sentences—just write and write non-stop.  Those voices are not going to stop because you want to refer to your reference books…that comes later. At the beginning it is all freestyle. It’s like a street fight with no rules or referee!

That’s a great description! I research my book idea for a few months, write furiously for six months, and then the rewrites and deeper research begin, which can take up to two years. The first few months are very exciting.

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

Coming up with something new, something that has never been done or written about.  Which seems impossible, but creatively makes you dig deeper, or soar higher, it’s there you just have to find it or expose it.

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

Stephen King’s “Mr. Mercedes”, the first of a trilogy.  I’m a big Stephen King’s fan, and the interesting thing about this book is that it is unlike most of his books, which are supernatural. This one is strictly a detective story with a team of three very diverse characters.  Very enjoyable, not one of his best, but still a good read.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Too many to put on paper, but obviously Edgar Allan Poe must lead the parade.  Followed by Stephen King, Piri Thomas, Pete Hamill, James Clavell, Frank Herbert, Vicente Blasco Ibañez, to name a few.

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

Edgar Allan Poe for introducing to me the short story format.  Stephen King for teaching me how to developedbelievable characters, and Piri Thomas for allowing me to dream at the age of 13 that Puerto Ricans from El Barrio could be writers, as well.

Puerto Rican writer Esmeralda Santiago inspired me to try my hand at writing after I read the now-classic memoir, “When I Was Puerto Rican”. Like you, I love Stephen King’s book, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”.

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

Any place I get inspired, but my favorite places are the subway trains, parks, and a place that I discovered to be a beacon to my creativity, underneath the elevated tracks of the subway line in my neighborhood.  I need the chaos and noises of the city. If you put me in a quiet place, like up in the country, my voices refused to speak!

I find it so interesting where people write and find inspiration. I need total silence in the country for my voices to be heard.

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

Two of my favorite things are drawing/painting and cooking.  The activities allow me to relax and think about the plots or characters I’m working on, and it’s a form of meditation.

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

Writing can be very liberated. Through my writing, I have an outlet for my emotions; regardless if they are happy, sad, angry, or even mean-spirited.  The publishing process is too much of a business that I’d rather not get involved in, but it’s also part of the game. I need to work a bit more on the publishing process. One thing for sure, do your research before signing anything, and especially do your work before agreeing with promises, that may be broken and not fulfilled.

What do you hope readers will gain from your book?

To be entertained.  To be moved, to be afraid, and sometimes to be informed about things they never knew. Lessons may be learned through stories.

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

The writing part is actually the easiest. Somehow the plots, characters and situations come pretty easy and are extremely rewarding.  The marketing aspect is what I need to work on, especially being a shy person who’d rather let his words on paper be his voice.

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

Well, it’s not so much what didn’t work, but more of what I need to do to make it work, and that’s to be more involved and let people know I’m here with a lot of stories and poems to share.

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

First work on that story, and don’t be lazy.  Revise that book as much as it needs to be revised.  Get an excellent editor, not a friend, but a real editor, who is not afraid to tell you what works on the story and what doesn’t.  If you write 400 pages, don’t be afraid to cut down as many pages as you need to cut.  Don’t fall in love with a whole paragraph or even a sentence, or a character because if it doesn’t move the story, but rather slows it down, you need to delete it. After your book went through every cycle, and it’s the best thing you have written, then it’s time get it out there.

Good advice.

Website and social media links?

www.manuel-melendez.com

Manuel A. Melendez’s Books on Facebook

Where can we find your book, Manuel?

Amazon.com, or feel free to contact me if you’d like an autographed copy.

What’s next for you?

For the second time, I’m doing the 30-30 Poetry challenge.

I’m also working on two novels, one is a supernatural tale and the other one a more crime/human drama.  And, I have two other stories, which I wrote about 20 years ago that must be revisited.

Thanks for chatting with me today, Manuel. I wish you continued success with your writing! 

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. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani.

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 adult children are out in the world doing amazing things.

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

 

Author Interview: Rev. Judith Laxer

Welcome to the Tuesday Author Interview series at The Writing Life blog. I am very pleased to welcome back, Rev. Judith Laxer, the author of Along the Wheel of Time: Sacred Stories for Nature Lovers.

Rev. Judith was Ordained as a SHES (Spiritual Healers and Earth Stewards) Minister in 1992. Since then, she has officiated at countless rite of passage ceremonies. She has taught classes and workshops on the Goddess, Women’s Mysteries, and psychic development locally and nationally since 1993, and was the Ceremonial Director for the Seattle-based Women of Wisdom Conference for five years.

Her collection of short stories Along the Wheel of Time: Sacred Stories for Nature Lovers was published in June 2014.

Judith enjoys her successful private practice of Spiritual Counseling, Psychic Tarot readings, Certified Hypnotherapy, Reiki and Shamanic practices. In September of 2000, she began offering Goddess Worship Services to an ever-growing congregation. Her soul has found home in Gaia’s Temple, where she is Founder and Director.

judith_authorphoto_portrait_websmall

Welcome back to The Writing Life, Judith!

Book Cover (1)

What is your book’s genre?

My book is a collection of short stories in the genre of magical realism.

Please describe what your book is about. 

Along the Wheel of Time: Sacred Stories for Nature Lovers comprises eight short fictional stories that accompany the sabbats, or natural earth holy days, on the Pagan Wheel of the Year: the solstices, the equinoxes and the cross quarter days in between. They help the reader deepen their connection to nature within a spiritual context.

How did you come up with the title?

The Wheel of the Year is a metaphoric model for our souls’ journey. I wanted a title that speaks to the ongoing cycles of life. The use of the word Wheel in the title addresses this metaphor because like circles, wheels have no beginning and no ending. Also, I have always been fascinated with the concept of time and how our perception of it shifts with our awareness of living.

What inspired you to write this book?

Nature inspires me. My personal experience of living a devotional life is so richly connected to the natural world and is so satisfying, I wanted to share the beauty and significance of a life lived this way. Especially in our era of ubiquitous technology that engages us in superficiality and keeps us disconnected.

What is your favorite part of writing?

My favorite part of writing is how it makes my experience of time disappear. When I am on a roll and the words are flowing, I love the feeling of being transported from ordinary reality when time seems to stop. I also love when I finish the first draft and then get to go back and begin carefully crafting it. I love polishing a story.

Do your characters resemble you? If so, in what ways?

Well, each story has its’ own set of characters. There are aspects of me in all of them, I suppose. My life experience has greatly informed the tales, although I wouldn’t say any one of the characters resembles my personality specifically. I tried to listen to each one and portray them as they revealed themselves to me.

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

Intellectually I know there are going to be days when I write and write and don’t like what I end up with. But emotionally, if I end up not liking what I have spent time writing, doubt sets in. Often I feel I am in competition with myself, like I must outdo myself each time I sit down to write. Once I get that inner competitor under lock and key, I have a much easier time.

I like the idea of keeping the inner competitor under lock and key. What was the last book you read? What did you think of it?

A Man called Ove by Fredrik Backman.  I enjoyed the story and the tears it brought to my eyes. I loved how life kept interrupting his plans, but I won’t say more so I don’t spoil it for others. The author made good use of revealing the backstory a piece at a time. It elicited compassion for the title character in me, despite his being an exasperating curmudgeon.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Barbara Kingsolver, Joan Didion, Somerset Maugham, Elizabeth Cunningham, Colum McCann and Lidia Yuknavitch.

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

Jean Huston has had an enormous influence on me. I strive to have her command of language, but it’s more how she thinks that is so impressive. I find her understanding of the possible human to be endlessly inspiring. More recently, I’ve found Lidia Yuknavitch’s courage to speak her truth unflinchingly on the page, and her originality to be rather contagious.

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

I like to write best on my desktop computer in my home office. I sit in the room I have designed to my liking, surrounded by my colors, my art, my Goddess statues, looking out my window onto my prolific garden. Visual beauty is crucial to me for inspiration and creativity and my sense of myself as an artist. I like to read on the living room couch sipping a cup of tea with my favorite fleece blanket over my knees.

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

I am an ordained minister and have a private practice as a psychic, spiritual counselor, hypnotherapist, shamanic practitioner, and teacher of women’s mysteries. I once accompanied a hypnotherapy client into the operating room for her breast cancer surgery. She was allergic to anesthetic and we used hypnosis to get her through it! The next thing I know, I am wearing scrubs sitting on a stool at her head in the freezing operating room for close to eight hours. To this day, it is still one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life.

Thank you for sharing your beautiful experience, Judith.

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

The writing process showed me where I needed work specifically on craft. It propelled me into classes which have helped me up my game with wordsmithing.

I’ve learned many things about the publishing process and here are two that are most important to me.

  1. Be bold. Take risks. Promote yourself like you are promoting someone you adore. (You should adore yourself anyway, right?) Sometimes it’s easier to take risks if you imagine they are for someone else. We have the courage to do and say things for others we often have trouble doing and saying for ourselves.
  2. Follow your intuition. Shortly after the company that first published my book went under, I got a notice that a publisher was now following me on twitter. Hmmm, I thought. Who are they? I checked out their website and even though it said they don’t publish short story collections, my gut said to write them anyway and see.  The publisher responded within twenty four hours, picked me up and got my book back out there within a month. If I had second guessed my impetus to reach out, my book might have gone the way of obscurity.

What do you hope readers will gain from Along the Wheel of Time: Sacred Stories for Nature Lovers?

These stories inform readers how reverence for nature is also a viable spiritual path. I hope this gives them the courage to explore something alternative. I also hope the stories debunk a few unsavory myths and much negative press about Paganism.

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

Being in a writing group was so helpful with encouragement, feedback and accountability. The support kept me going, even when my doubts seemed to overthrow my inspiration.

About a year before my book was published, I finally cried ‘uncle’ and joined social media-which I had resisted with all my might- because I knew those are the best tools for marketing. Then I threw myself a big launch party which was a blast. I sold many books that night.

The marketing of one’s book(s) never ends. What didn’t work as well as you’d hoped?

Having unrealistic expectations. I thought it would be easier to get my warm market to write reviews, share the book with others, etc. And although some did, many more did not. My strategy and task now is to write essays on related topics and get them published to get my name and work out there beyond my warm market.

Great plan. Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

Make sure your writing is as good as you can get it before submitting it to an agent of publisher. The old adage ‘you only get one shot at making a first impression’ applies here for sure. I am not an expert on getting publishing by any means, but I can see that developing relationships with other writers leads to support, introductions, and opportunities one wouldn’t get on their own.

Website and social media links?

www.judithlaxer.com, www.gaiastemple.org 

Twitter: @judithlaxer

Facebook: Judith Laxer and Rev. Judith Laxer

Book Cover (1)

Where can we find your book?

AMAZON US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HC4OEIA

BARNES & NOBLE: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/along-the-wheel-of-time-rev-judith-laxer/1123953263;jsessionid=DD1A8CE26242A839A39FF219CF064AC0.prodny_store02-atgap10?ean=2940153239224

KOBO: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/along-the-wheel-of-time-sacred-stories-for-nature-lovers

GOOGLE PLAY: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Rev_Judith_Laxer_Along_the_Wheel_of_Time?id=WVtuDAAAQBAJ&hl=en

iBOOKS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1125895996 

What’s next for you, Judith?

I just finished the first draft of my m-m-m-m-memoir. (Did I write that out loud?) I am revising it now after some feedback before I begin to shop it around.

Yes, you did, and your memoir is now out in the Universe!

Thanks, Ellie, for featuring me on your blog! 

It’s always a pleasure to catch up with you, Judith. Best of luck with your 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 is never without a pen and a notebook, and her passport and camera are always ready. Her awesome adult children are out in the world doing amazing things. 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

Author Interview: Sally Cronin

The Writing Life is very pleased to welcome the lovely and talented Sally Cronin, author of the short story collection, ‘Tales from the Garden’.

Sally CroninSally Cronin spent a number of years in each of the following industries – Retail, Advertising and Telecommunications, Radio & Television; and has taken a great deal of inspiration from each. She has written short stories and poetry since a very young age and contributed to media in the UK and Spain.

In 1996 Sally began studying nutrition to inspire her to lose 150 lbs and her first book, Size Matters published in 2001, told the story of that journey back to health. This was followed by another seven books across a number of genres including health, humour and romance. These include Just Food For Health, Size Matters, Just an Odd Job Girl, Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story, Flights of Fancy anthology, Turning Back the Clock and Media Training.

EPS: Welcome, Sally! Thanks for visiting with us.

SC: Thank you Eleanor for inviting me over to visit today. As with any writer the opportunity to talk about my work is always very welcome!

Tales From the Garden small- CoverEPS: My pleasure! Sally, what is the genre of ‘Tales from the Garden’?

SC: Tales from the Garden is a fantasy short story collection for all ages.

EPS: Please describe what Tales from the Garden is about.

SC: The collection of stories is about statues, fairies and other magical beings that live in a garden and come to life at night when the humans are asleep. There is the usual mix of evil, beautiful princesses, and heroes with love stories and adventure; of course a wicked witch.  There are stories about Roman Eagles and a Last Emperor, The Fairy Kingdom of Magia in the roots of the old magnolia tree and stone guardians in various forms who protect the humans as well as their fellow garden dwellers. There are 80 illustrations which I hope will be enjoyed by younger readers as well as fairy tale lovers of all ages.

EPS: I love the idea of including illustrations! How did you come up with the title?

SC: The simple answer was that the working title, Tales from the Garden, seemed the most appropriate. I checked the title out and did not get too many hits and most were about horticulture rather than fiction.

EPS: What inspired you to write this book?

SC: We have our house for sale here in the mountains to the north of Madrid. We arrived here 16 years ago and although I have spent time away from the house for work; it is our main home. The garden is large and we inherited several stone statues that the previous owners had bought but could not take with them. We kept finding more of them as we explored the various nooks and crannies of the garden and spread them around so that they could be seen. With the prospect of leaving this garden and knowing that most of these statues are too heavy to take with us, I decided to take their stories with us instead.

EPS: Wonderful story. What is your favorite part of writing?

SC: My favourite part of writing is the pre-keyboard process when it is still all in my head. Usually when I am swimming, walking or listening to music, which I do any chance I get, I get the basic idea and then start playing around with various scenarios until I create a solid storyline. I enjoy getting all the segments in a row and then swapping them around until I have the sequence more or less right. Then I sit down at the computer and blast it out without editing until I have something concrete to work with.

EPS: What have you found is the most challenging aspect of writing?

SC: I would probably say the final editing stages when you read the story or book through and put yourself in the reader’s position. What seemed logical to you can often have a step or two missing for the reader because they have not been through the same thought process. I am a very fast sight reader and this means I have to really slow down by reading aloud to ensure that the flow is right.

EPS: I am a fan of reading aloud for the same reasons. Who are some of your favorite authors?

SC: I bought my first Wilbur Smith when I was 11 years old. We had just come back to England after two years in South Africa and I loved everything about that wonderful continent. I have every one of his books, many in hardback. The second is Jean M. Auel who wrote the Clan of the Cave bear and then the rest of the series about Ayla, set about the time the ice was receding and there were still some Neanderthals left. Riveting but you need patience as there is often years between books because of the amount of research that Jean does for the novels. Apart from that I love a good crime thriller or historical novel that has been thoroughly researched.

EPS: What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

SC: Apart from Wilbur Smith there have been one or two teachers who allowed me free rein with my imagination. Although it was 57 years ago, I still remember my first teacher at primary school, who realising I could already read reasonably well thanks to my two older sisters, gave me more advanced books to read than the rest of the class. Her name is Mrs. Miller and I can still see her face today.

EPS: Do you have a favorite place to write?

SC: I love the office I share with my husband David. It is useful since he is a book designer and he is on hand when I need some advice. It is also our snug with our television and I have all my music and books to hand. It has shown us that when we downsize, our priority is to have a room that is big enough for us to share and surround ourselves with those good things in life.

EPS: Please tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

SC: I think I have probably given away most of my secrets by now in the posts on my memories, but perhaps one of my regrets would surprise most people who know me. As I mentioned, I love crime novels and when I was eighteen and considering whether to take my dental nurse training further as a Royal Naval nurse, I also thought seriously about joining the police force.  I was offered a place with the Royal Alexandra Nursing Service, so I turned down an interview with Hampshire Constabulary.  As it turned out, life intervened and I did neither. However, in hindsight I wish that I had taken the police career more seriously.

EPS: What surprises or learning experiences did you have during the publishing process?

SC: I learn something new every time, and I think that is mainly down to the evolving nature of Indie publishing in general, but also the support system online offered by other authors. When I wrote my first book in 1999, it was a difficult process and not much easier for the second. Certainly in the last year or so it has become clear that as a writer you do need to be online with a blog and on social media as there is a vast pool of knowledge and experience on offer as well as support.  I really do not think that most mainstream authors have caught up with that yet. Their marketing is done by someone else and whilst they might have lots of followers on social media I don’t believe that they interact with them to the same level as we do. I am sure that the combined efforts of indie authors to create a strong presence online will continue to drive the evolution of the industry to a point where it works more efficiently for us.

EPS: I would agree with you. Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?

SC: This is the first book I wrote on my blog first. It gave me a chance to gather feedback on the individual stories and try out various themes before committing to the book. The comments that the individual stories received gave me the confidence that there is a market available for the stories and I am doing the same with my next book with a short story every week that will end up being two collections at the end of the year.

EPS: Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

SC: Your book needs to be as polished as any that has gone through a number of professional hands. That is tough as it costs money but if you feel that you do not have a particular skill then try to find a work around.  For example, give the book to people you know who are avid readers of good books and also anyone you can find who has an English Language degree.  Advertise at the local university or college. You may have to pay a small fee to a student but I have found that they appreciate the chance to work with an author. There are a number of computer programmes that can help. Spell check is an obvious one but there are more sophisticated ones that will also highlight grammar edits, as well.  Finally, read and read again. It can be wearing, but leave gaps between reading and do something completely different and come back to it.

If you cannot afford someone else to design and format your book then take advantage of the free blog posts and also the very inexpensive books available with step by step guides to the complete process.

Tales From the Garden small- Cover

EPS: Website?

SC: I have my own website for the book which is attached to the main publishing site. This enables me to  sell my books at a substantial discount.  http://moyhill.com/tales/

EPS: Sally, where can we find ‘Tales from the Garden’?

 

SC: The book is available on Amazon and the quickest route is through my author page.

Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/author/sallycroninbooks

All my books can be found on Amazon or smashwords.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

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

EPS: What’s next for you?

SC: I am really into short stories right now and two anthologies will be out by this time next year. I also have a People Management Development programme that is finished and is ready to go in the New Year. I will be using that as part of my training consultancy. I also have a WIP in the form of a book on care for the elderly in the home. I love a good plateful!

EPS: You certainly keep busy! Thank you for visiting, Sally. I enjoyed getting to know more about you, and I wish you continued success with your writing.

SC: My thanks for this wonderful opportunity to talk about Tales from the Garden and this wonderful, crazy world we inhabit as writers.

EPS: True words about the wonderful, crazy world of writing. Thanks again, Sally. Best wishes and Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Sally’s Blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/

Social Media Links:

http://uk.linkedin.com/in/sallycronin1
https://twitter.com/sgc58
https://www.facebook.com/sally.cronin
https://www.facebook.com/sallygeorginacronin
https://plus.google.com/+SallyCronin/about

About Eleanor Parker Sapia

ellie

Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s careers as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker, and a refugee case worker, inspire her stories. She is a member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, and the Historical Novel Society, and a contributing writer for Organic Coffee, Haphazardly Literary Society. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, reads, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

A Decent Woman, Eleanor’s debut novel, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico was selected as 2015 July Book of the Month for Las Comadres & Friends National Latino Book Club, and is listed in Centro Voices, The Center of Puerto Rican Studies, Essential Boricua Reading for the 2015 Holiday Season. Book clubs across the United States have enjoyed A Decent Woman. Eleanor is featured in the newly published anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is writing her second novel and a short story collection.

http://www.amazon.com/Decent-Woman-Eleanor-Parker-Sapia-ebook/dp/B00TUP47WI/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

 

 

 

Let’s Talk About Writing Host Marsha Casper Cook

MARK YOUR CALENDARS AND JOIN US TOMORROW!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/worldofinknetwork/2015/08/13/lets-talk-about-writing-host-marsha-casper-cook

Join Marsha Casper Cook on August 13 at 4PM EST 3PMCST  2PM MT 1PM PST- When she welcomes Jack Remick and Eleanor Parker Sapia. Jack Remick is a poet, short story writer, novelist and a frequent guest on the World Of Ink. He has contributed to the show by bringing wonderful authors to the network and with each visit he is appreciated that much more.

Jack has brought to the network Eleanor Parker Sapia, a Puerto Rican-born novelist, poet, and artist, raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Her life experiences as a counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language social worker, and refugee case worker inspire her passion for writing.

Marsha is a Partner of the World of Ink Network, Award-winning Script Writer, Novelist, Writing Coach, Media Release Specialist, Blog Talk Radio Host and Founder of Michigan Avenue Media. Marsha is the author of 11 published books and 11 feature-length screenplays, a literary agent with 15 years of experience and the host of BTR’s World of Ink Network shows: A Good Story Is a Good Story, and special editions of The World of Ink Network.

Call in number (714) 242-5259

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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!

ASandcastleCoverNew

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 with JD Byrne

Me 2Today, The Writing Life is pleased to interview fantasy and science fiction author, JD Byrne.

JD Byrne was born and raised around Charleston, West Virginia, before spending seven years in Morgantown getting degrees in history and law from West Virginia University.  He has practiced law for more than 15 years, writing briefs where he has to stick to real facts and real law.  In his fiction, he gets to make up the facts, take or leave the law, and let his imagination run wild.  He lives outside Charleston with his wife, a one-eyed dog, and a black cat.

The Last Ereph and Other Stories is his first book.

Ereph Cover (KDP) (1) What is your book’s genre/category?

The stories in The Last Ereph . . . are fantasy and science fiction, with a couple that probably snuggle up close with horror.  The science fiction stories are all set in times close to our own, while the fantasy ones tend to take place in very strange locations.

Please describe what the story/book is about.

The Last Ereph and Other Stories, as the title suggests, is a short story collection.  There are ten stories without any common theme, aside from the fact that I wrote them.  Here are some specifics about a few of those stories.

“To Watch the Storms” was inspired by a thunderstorm that rolled through Richmond, Virginia, where I was staying at a hotel, getting ready to go to court. Even the average summer thunderstorm can hold untold wonders, if you’re patient enough to see them.

“The Dragon of the Bailey” is about a dragon who is being held captive, and who seizes help when it comes to him from an unlikely source.  I wrote it after I read about the ravens kept in the Tower of London.  Legend says so long as they stay there the kingdom will thrive, but they clip their wings so they can’t fly away.  Seems like a stacked deck, to me.

“The Mask” is a flash fiction story about a creepy-looking artifact that turns out to be more than it appears.

“Jury Duty” is the only story that ties somewhat into my legal life.  It’s about a guy who gets called for jury duty, finds a stumbling block, and runs with it.  He gets dragged into court, required to be there, then finds out he isn’t modern enough to be a part of the trial.  It was fun to be able to play around with a courtroom setting, given my day job.

In “the Missing Legion” a hunter in pursuit of big game stumbles into a ritual he was not supposed to see.  This is set in the world of The Water Road, a fantasy trilogy I’m working on.  Book one should be out early in 2016.

Finally, “The Last Ereph” is about a thief in a distant land. After stealing a precious gem, he seeks sanctuary and finds a treasure of an entirely different sort.

How did you come up with the title?

The title of the book is the title of the final story, the title track if you will. It’s an older story, one that I started writing between sets at a music festival in North Carolina. I thought it was a good encapsulation of what I do. Also, it allowed me to put a made up word – “ereph” – on the book cover, which I hope will resonate with readers of fantasy and the like, make them want to find out what it means.

Several of the other story titles come from songs, although most people probably have never heard them – “To Watch the Storms” (Steve Hackett), “Memory of Water” (Marillion), and “Elephant Talk” (King Crimson).

What is the reason you wrote this book?

Short stories are where I started writing seriously, since they are, in a way, easier to manage than novels.  I slid over into working on longer things (some of which will be coming out soon), but always had these stories that I wanted to share with readers.  When I decided to jump into independent publishing, that was a great chance to go back to them, revisit a few, and send them out to the world.

What is your favorite part of writing?

I think my favorite part is when things don’t go as planned.  I try to lay things out fairly well before I start something, so I’m not flying completely by the seat of my pants.  Nonetheless, times come when I find I need to add a new character or a new scene to get something accomplished.  Those moments, when I’m really creating on the fly, are really fun. I had that happen with a story that should come out next year.  I needed someone for the main character to interact with in a particular scene and wound up creating this completely new character that I fell in love with.  She might get a spin off!

What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Getting started, I think.  It’s one thing to plan, it’s one thing to think about all you want to do with a project, but it’s really another to sit down and start writing.  Once I get started, I tend to get on a roll, but sometimes the initial phase of spilling (virtual) ink onto the page can be daunting. It’s a cliché, but there is something daunting about the blank page.  Once something has started, it’s easy to sit down, pick up where you left off, and keep going. There’s a momentum that develops.  But when you’re just starting there’s nothing like that to ease you into it.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

With the caveat that favorite doesn’t necessarily mean I wind up writing anything like them, one of my first favorites was Douglas Adams.  My brother introduced me to him.  I had no idea that science fiction could be so funny, yet still get at deep truths about what makes humans tick.

More recently, I’ve come to love Neil Gaiman (to whom I was introduced by my wife).  The worlds he creates, even in his short fiction, are so rich and alive.  I also appreciate his desire and ability to skip across genres without any real care about whether readers follow him. Other favorites are John Scalzi (for his non-Old Mans War stuff), Margaret Atwood (glad she’s finally come around on admitting that she’s written science fiction),  Kurt Vonnegut (what needs to be said?), and George RR Martin (made me rethink what epic fantasy could be).

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

Outside of any author of any book I’ve ever read, I’ve always drawn a lot of inspiration from music.  I admire musicians like Frank Zappa or Brian Eno, who have been determined to do their own thing, critical and popular reception be damned, and wind up breaking through anyway. I also draw a lot of inspiration and have a lot of respect, for musicians I’ve listened to for years who aren’t big names, and can only do what they do because they love doing it (such as 3rDegree, echolyn, Thinking Plague, and The Tangent).  As an independent author, that determination rings very true.

Favorite place to write?

I don’t really have one.  I can’t write legible longhand to save my life (ask my coworkers!), so I generally have to do it at a computer.  I do most of my work on the computer in my studio, which also serves as the hub of a music production setup. So I write surrounded by synthesizers.  It’s kind of surreal, at times.

Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

Before I met my wife I was not an animal person.  Never had pets, had even developed a dislike of dogs from days delivering newspapers.  But she had a dog and two cats and that was that.  I’ve gone so far the other direction that on our recent trip to Cambodia, I took more pictures of critters than of people!

Any surprises or learning experiences with the publishing process?

Since this is my first book and I published it independently, the entire process has been a learning experience.  I’d never really played around with issues like layout or cover design before.  I think my biggest surprise was how many little issues come up along the way, from the proper running order for the stories, to getting all the formatting details right across the various platforms.

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

I think the biggest thing that helped me was making the decision to do it myself and stick with it.  Before that I felt like I was in this kind of literary limbo, producing this material that wasn’t going to have a home anywhere.  Now if feels like I can see the end of the process for each project and that helps keep things moving.

Any advice for writers looking to get published?

Do it yourself! No, actually, do your research and think long and hard about how you want to publish, and what you want to get out of publishing.  In the end, the most important parts for me were keeping control of the material and being able to set and keep my own deadlines.  But every writer is different and what works for me might not work for others.  Listen, learn, think.  Always good advice, I hope.

Website?

My website is www.jdbyrne.net  There you can find my blog, info on The Last Ereph . . . (and future books), and links to my homes on Facebook, Twitter, Librarything, and Goodreads.

Where can we find your book?

The Last Ereph . . . is available online in paperback and Kindle versions from Amazon and in eBook format from Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and Inktera.  It’s also available at select independent bookstores, like Empire Books & News.

What’s next for you?

Up next is a novel that I’m finishing called Moore Hollow.  It’s about a disgraced English journalist who is sent to the West Virginia coal fields to investigate reports that a politician back in the early 20th Century raised the dead so they could vote for him.  It plays off a bit of West Virginia’s reputation for less than savory politics and “dead people voting” in some spots. I hope to have it out by the fall.

Beyond that, I have a three-volume fantasy series, The Water Road, that is about an uprising of an oppressed people and the ramifications of that.  I hope to have it out, at least the first two volumes, by 2016.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m giving away a free copy of The Last Ereph and Other Stories in paperback or ebook forms.  For paperback, visit Goodreads and enter the giveaway, running March 27 to March 30.  For ebooks (Kindle, ePub, or PDF) visit Librarything and enter the giveaway, running until April 6.

Thanks for visiting today, JD. Best of luck with the books!

About Eleanor

Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s life experiences 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. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children, and she currently lives in West Virginia.

A DECENT WOMAN available now on Amazon 

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 children, who marries an older wealthy merchant from a distinguished family. A crime against Serafina during her last pregnancy forever bonds her to Ana in an ill-conceived plan to avoid a scandal and preserve Serafina’s honor.

Set against the combustive backdrop of a chauvinistic society, where women are treated as possessions, A Decent Woman is the provocative story of these two women as they battle for their dignity and for love against the pain of betrayal and social change.

amazon.com/-/e/B00U05ZO9M