Author Interview: Kelly Bennett Seiler

Welcome to Tuesday Author Interview series at The Writing Life. Today I’m pleased to welcome Kelley Bennett Seiler, writer of Contemporary Women’s Fiction.

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, won’t you please show us some love by clicking ‘Like’ at the end of the interview? Thank you in advance!

Kelly Bennett Seiler is the author of The Plan and Shifting Time.  A former high school English teacher and school counselor, she has written articles for such websites as eHow and Livestrong, in addition to creating questions for nationally standardized exams. She’s been featured by Woman’s Day magazine, NPR and PBS and was on the cover of Military Spouse magazine. Kelly has edited numerous books, including a New York Times bestseller. She received both her Bachelor’s degree and her Master’s degree in English from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. A native of New Jersey, Kelly currently lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and three children.

kelly-seiler

Welcome, Kelly!

What is your book’s genre?

I believe the ‘official’ category is “Contempory Woman’s Fiction.”

Kelly Seiler book.jpg

Please describe what The Plan is about.

Claire Matthews’ entire world shatters into a million pieces the night she’s the only survivor of a brutal car that claims the lives of her husband and three children.  Irishman Callum Fitzgerald, a tri-lateral amputee, has built a life and a career around encouraging others to find a purpose for their pain, with the reassurance there’s always a greater plan. Claire and Callum – two individuals with seemingly little in common – yet, their lives will unexpectedly converge, thus beginning a love story so profound and enduring, it could turn the darkest tragedies into spectacular triumphs.  

How did you come up with the title

It was the easiest of my titles to decide upon.  The entire book is about how there is a larger plan for one’s life – one we, very likely, will not see or understand as it is unfolding.  The Plan was the natural title choice for this book.

Kelly, what inspired you to write this book? 

This book began as a screenplay.  My agent signed me based on that screenplay, with the agreement I’d turn it into a book.  So, although it is my second novel, THE PLAN is actually the beginning of my writing journey.

What is your favorite part of writing?

I enjoy “having written,” but not necessarily the process of writing.  I’m proud of myself once I have written during the day, however, forcing myself to actually sit and write is often a struggle.  I am easily distracted.  Having said that, once I begin writing, I get lost in the work and the story and I find it to be therapeutic.

I feel the same way about distractions and getting lost in the story once I’m writing. Does your main character resemble you?  If so, in what ways?

Claire is similar to me in that she is a wife and a mom of three children.  The struggles she encounters, however, are well beyond anything I have ever had to experience.  I hope I could say I’m as strong as she is, but I don’t think any of us would know what kind of strength we have until we are faced with such huge adversity.

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

As I mentioned earlier, sitting and actually writing is my greatest challenge.  I am easily distracted – by the dishes, the laundry, the TV, my kids, etc.  Once I’m writing, I’m good to go, but getting myself seated in that chair is always quite an accomplishment in and of itself. 

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

The last book I read was “Mrs. Perregrine’s  Home for Peculiar Children.”  I read it with my children.  I enjoyed it, though, not quite as much as I’d hoped – that might be because my kids complained a lot during the reading!  I’m excited to see the movie, though!

The movie is on my list! Who are some of your favorite authors?

Stephen King, Jodi Picoult, John Grisham, Jennifer Weiner

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

Stephen King says, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.”  I believe that’s true, and along those same lines, each book you read is bound to influence you and your writing in some way – be it for the better or not.  Many books I read introduce me to new concepts and ideas and even vocabulary.  Some just remind me of what I do not want to do as a writer!  Thus, I wouldn’t say there is one particular author, but all the authors I’ve read ‘as a whole’ are the ones who have influenced me. 

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

I tend to “read” by audiobook, thus that occurs a great deal while I’m driving.  As for writing, I write in a variety of places – my home office, Starbucks, Panera – but my favorite (and most productive) place is the local community college library because it is so much more quiet in there than in a restaurant or even the public library.

Kelly, tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know

I was on the synchronized swim team in college.

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

The greatest surprise for me, during the writing process, was that I am capable of writing a 450-page novel in six months!  I would have never thought I could accomplish such a task, but when Simon and Schuster gives you a deadline, you meet it!  Regarding publishing, I was surprised that, though the book may have only taken me six months to write, it then could take over two years to get into print!

kelly-seiler-book

What do you hope readers will gain from your book

I hope the readers will gain actual hope.  THE PLAN is a story with great sadness, but it is also a story about how there is a purpose to the pain we experience in life, though we might not be able to see it as we are trudging through it.

I agree. Pain can be a great teacher. Looking back, what did you do right that helped you write and market this book?

I networked!  I rarely ever lose touch with the people I meet.  Many of my book sales came from friends and acquaintances and their friends and their acquaintances.  I also used social media to the greatest extent to publicize my novels.

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

I have passed out fliers to some of my book signings in the past and I don’t believe I ever really got very many guests based on those notices.

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published? 

I wrote an article for The Muse that might come in handy for aspiring writers.  It’s called “How I Networked my Way to a Book Deal.”  https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-i-networked-my-way-to-a-book-deal

Thanks for sharing your great tips with us. Website and social media links?

www.kellybennettseiler.com; @kbennettseiler  (Twitter); Kelly Bennett Seiler (Facebook)

Where can we find your book? 

Hopefully, wherever books are sold!   Specifically, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Walmart.  Also, many public libraries and local independent bookstores have it.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on the screenplay for my first novel, Shifting Time, and working on a new adult novel.

Thank you for chatting with me, Kelly. I wish you all the best with your books and screenplays!

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

Author Interview: Liz Doran

Happy Election Day to my fellow Americans! VOTE!

Welcome to the Tuesday Author Interview Series, my favorite day at The Writing Life. Please check back with us next Tuesday for another fascinating interview. Today I’m very pleased to welcome multi-talented Liz Doran, author of the women’s fiction novel, “Where She Belongs”.

Liz Doran is an Irish writer, who lives in Germany.  She has also lived and travelled extensively in the U.S.A. and spent several months living in London and Italy. She loves colour, art, books, film, design, and travel. A lifelong interest in metaphysical and spiritual matters has taken her on many interesting journeys. She trained as a Heilpraktiker in Germany, specialising in classical homeopathy and colour puncture. She also loves nature and animals, and enjoys a good laugh. She has been married to her German husband since 1984 and has two grown sons.

barbara-doran-rogel

Welcome, Liz!

barbara-doran-rogel-book

What is your book’s genre/category?

It’s women’s fiction.

Please describe what “Where She Belongs” is about.

“Where She Belongs” is about a woman’s transformation as she decides to be proactive by leaving her unhappy marriage in Spain and move back to her homeland, Ireland.

How did you come up with the title?

Ah, the title! Well, the book is all about belonging and I think it reflects the theme pretty well. I was struggling with a title, but then a friend suggested I might like to look at the last line of the book. And there it was, snuggled into the sentence. 

What inspired you to write “Where She Belongs”? 

I was writing a different book and got stuck in the plot. Then I decided to write Where She Belongs. I didn’t have a plan, but liked the idea of taking my character on a journey to see what would happen.

Taking my characters on a journey often turns into my characters taking me on a journey. My favorite part of writing. What is your favorite part of writing?

I’ve taken courses in hypnotherapy and have conducted and taken part in creative visualisation courses. Writing, when I’m in the flow, is similar. I see the scenes in my mind’s eye, and I can orchestrate the characters in a certain setting, or I can let the images flow through my fingertips onto the page.  

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

Yes, I suppose she does in some ways. She can be indecisive, hates injustice, gets bored easily, loves adventure and travel, and is creative.

Liz, what do you find is the most challenging aspect of writing?

I really do have that dread of the blank page, especially when I’m stuck in a difficult plot. Because when I’m stuck, I know that everything I write in the next few pages should be moving the novel forward. It’s like facing a fork in the road and deciding which of the myriad paths to take. Then there’s the aspect of remembering that one’s goal is to entertain people. You have to try to create twists, inject the unexpected. It’s all about pacing too, getting the dialogue right, creating believable characters.

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

That’s a difficult question because I usually read a few books at a time. I know that’s a bad habit. Blame the e-book reader for that! I like to support other Indie writers and often buy their books and dip in and out of their works according to my mood. I do usually finish them though. There are so many talented writers out there, both Indie and traditionally published. I also love going to my local book shop, which has a pretty well-stocked English section. So I’m reading The Harder They Come by T.C.Boyle, Purity by Jonathan Franzen, Anne Enright’s The Green Road.   But I ramble. I think the last book I finished was 80: A Memoir by Pauline Bewick. My sister told me about it and I started it when on holidays in Ireland in summer. It was so engrossing, what a life! It included sketches of some of her paintings and I thought, I recognise her art. Then I remembered: I have a little book called Irish Tales and Sagas by Ulick O’Connor. The illustrations by Pauline Bewick are fantastic. Every time I read a few pages of her Memoir, I felt inspired.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

I don’t really have a favourite author. But I’ll mention authors who have left their mark. Deborah Moggach’s Tulip Fever, Stephen King’s The Stand and On Writing, The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan, Olive Kitteredge by Elizabeth Strout, Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, and Anne of Green Gables by Maud Montgomery. An eclectic mix, right? Too many to mention. I’ve also read several Indie books this past couple of years by members of a most supportive Indie Writing Group, IASD, which was initially set up by Paul Ruddock and is now run by Ian D. Moore. The genres range from sci-fi to supernatural, thrillers, romance and everything in between.  

I agree with you, IASD is a very supportive group. What authors or person(s) have influenced you as a writer and why?

See above. I think I’ve been influenced by so many authors over the years. Deborah Moggach’s Tulip Fever is so cleverly written. Her sense of pacing, her humour and her historical details inspired me to try something similar one day. Then an Irish writer, Joseph O’Connor, who wrote Star of the Sea about a ship of famine victims, an American journalist and several members of the upper class emigrating to a new life in the U.S. It’s a great read with an exciting plot. He uses information from newspaper cuttings to lend historical accuracy to the times and really transports the reader into the story. 

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

I prefer to read in bed or in a prone position. Usually I write in the living room, looking out onto my garden. I can watch the little robin that hops by my window when he decides to visit, or the pigeon with the white speck on his forehead, and the prowling neighbour’s cat who is usually up to no good, but he doesn’t know it.  Then there are the faces in the hedges that watch me while I watch them. I can write pretty much anywhere once I’m not distracted. I don’t think I could write well in a café. I’d be too busy people watching.

Faces in the hedges…oh, I like that. Can you tell us something personal about yourself that people may be surprised to know?

What would people be surprised to know? Hmmm. Let me think.

I trained as a Naturopath here in Germany and had my own practice. My mind is very open to the weird and wonderful. I used Light and Colour therapy, constitutional homeopathy and foot reflexology to treat people holistically and have a passion for inspiring and helping others. But I’m not a good business person. There’s a Memoir of sorts coming out soon about my journeys, my penchant for astrology, tarot, psychics, guiding dreams, if I don’t get cold feet. The book has been sitting on my computer for a few years now.

You know I love the weird and wonderful, good luck with the memoir! Did the writing process uncover surprises or learning experiences for you? What about the publishing process?

I’ve been writing for years, keeping journals, writing on snippets of paper back in my twenties when I was doing a lot of travelling and waiting at train stations, or sitting in cafes. But writing a novel is a whole other thing. I’ve learned perseverance and not to take myself too seriously either. Ah, the publishing process. I’d informed myself for years about the publishing world and many people were saying how hard it was to get an agent, write a synopsis, and that query letter. Once I’d finished my first novel, I didn’t have the patience for all of that. I decided to do it my way, with a lot of help from my friends. There’s a certain amount I can do myself, but I need to create an alter ego. who helps me with time management and marketing.

What do you hope readers will gain from your book, Liz?

I’ve already had positive feedback from other writers, both men and women, who have told me my book helped them to make a decision to transform their lives and find their place. That’s pretty amazing and certainly gives me a boost.

barbara-doran-rogel-book

That’s awesome. Looking back, what did you do right that helped you write and market this book?

I’m not sure about the marketing aspect. I haven’t done very much in that regard. My plan is to keep writing more books and hope to gain visibility that way. I find it easier to promote others’ books than I do my own. The good decisions I’ve made were finding a professional cover designer and a good developmental editor, who helped me see the big picture.

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

I should have given my two main characters different names as they are difficult to pronounce, and I should have done some pre-publicity for my book. Perhaps I should have had the patience and sent out query letters to agents and publishers, especially since I am not good at promoting my own work.

Agents and publishers can help with publicity, but I find most of the work still falls on the author. Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

Don’t give up on your dream. If you love to write and want to see your book in print, stick with it, learn as much as you can. Read a lot and write every day. If you choose the traditional publishing route, do what I didn’t do and write a synopsis and a query letter. Practice getting it perfect. Writing the synopsis, even before the book is finished, can be a very helpful way to figure out where you’re going with the plot. Get the Artist’s Year Book and check out the agents and publishers who specialise in your particular genre. There is so much information available on publishing. There’s nothing original I can say on that score.

Please share your website and social media links.

I’m working on setting up a website, but I want to do it right.

I do blog occasionally. Here’s the link:

www.eclecticwrite.wordpress.com

Twitter: @DoranRogel

Where can we find your book?

It’s available on Amazon, both as an e-book and as a paperback.

Here’s the link: https://amzn.com/B01D6X71PE 

What’s next for you, Liz? 

I’m working on my next novel. It’s also set in Ireland and is a fictional story loosely based on a true historical event. Part contemporary, part historical, I’ve woven the story to encompass the event which was set in the eighteenth century. Think haunted house with an air of mystery and suspense.

Sounds intriguing! Thank you for chatting with us today, Liz. I’ve enjoyed learning more about you. I wish you the best with your books and writing.

ABOUT ELEANOR PARKER SAPIA:

ellie

Eleanor Parker Sapia is the Puerto Rican-born author of the award-winning historical novel, A DECENT WOMAN, published by Scarlet River Press. Her debut novel, which garnered an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. Eleanor is a writer, artist, and photographer, who 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 and writes in Berkeley County, West Virginia.

Eleanor’s book, A DECENT WOMAN: http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK

new-book-cover-a-decent-woman-june-2016

PLEASE VISIT ELEANOR AT HER WEBSITE: HTTP://WWW.ELEANORPARKERSAPIA.COM

 

 

 

 

Author Interview: Jonisha Rios

Welcome back to the Author Interview series at The Writing Life blog. I’ll be chatting with authors every Tuesday until the end of November, so please do check back in.

Today I’m pleased to chat with my first guest Jonisha Rios, author of Curse of the Blue Vagina.

Jonisha Rios is an accomplished screenwriter, author, director, and actress who currently resides in California. She teaches Solo-show workshops to adults and kids.
Jonisha Rios
Welcome, Jonisha!

What is your book’s genre/category?

Women’s Fiction /Humor-Empowerment, I guess.

Please describe what the story/book is about.

Curse of the Blue Vagina is a collection that includes two short stories and a one-act play. The stories are about women. The first is a story about one woman’s journey to break a curse that keeps her from attracting the love that she desires.  

How did you come up with the title?

I was sitting next to my husband and we were talking about the concept of “Blue Balls”, you know when a man is left feeling physically in pain when he is not sexually satisfied. I never gave him those, by the way.  But there we were chit chatting about it, and then I told him that women go through the same thing.  Only for us, it’s more of an emotional rather than a physical pain. For us, the Blue Vagina occurs when the love we want isn’t reciprocated. 

What inspired you to write this book, Jonisha?

What inspired these pieces were three distinctly different things. For the first story I wanted to explore the dynamic of first time love.  My aunt who had cancer inspired the second story.  I was blown away by her incredible faith despite her unfortunate diagnosis.  And the third inspiration was a night out with the girls whose vivid conversations had stayed with me long after our night of hanging out was over.  I remembered each story had a life of its own and a clear voice.  So if I had to summarize in one word, I would say unshakeable, amazing women inspired my book. (Okay, that’s three words.)

What is your favorite part of writing?

The freedom to use my imagination.  I love to get away and create scenarios that make me laugh out loud, and also make me feel empowered and even romanced. 

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

Just making the time to sit with no interruption is a challenge. Between shuffling my son around to various classes and working part-time as a nanny, by the time I am done running around with three kids, I am too tired to write.  But, I do it anyway. When you are a mom and a writer, oftentimes you have to write when the kids go to sleep. Other times you have to write when there are countless interruptions. Whether you are tired or interrupted a million times, your brain can feel like mush.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Honestly I’ve read so many books I don’t really have any specific favorites. I genuinely get into whatever I am reading, so that whoever wrote the book I am reading in the moment becomes my new favorite author. Right now my favorite book is “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying” by Marie Kondo. I have her second book “Spark Joy”, and it’s a great companion piece to go along with the first. I just love those books. You see, I used to teach classes in Feng Shui and this book has been so much fun for me to read. Your outside world is often a reflection of what’s going on in your inner world.  I also love books on Homeopathy and joke books.  Pretty much anything on Kindle Unlimited!

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

Candace Bushnell (Sex and the City), Chelsea Handler, Woody Allen (his early years), and Alisa Valdes, (Dirty Girls Social Club).

Do you have a favorite place to write?

The bathroom or the closet.  These are not fancy big spaces but they are all I have to escape to when I need to write.  Because I live in a loft, it’s just one open space with no one place for me.  So I decorated the closet as my own little hideaway nook. I put some Christmas lights up and added a meditation matt. If it is too noisy during the day, then the bathroom is my number 2 spot, (no pun intended lol). 

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

I not only teach Feng Shui workshops, I do live blood analysis and provide guided healing counseling sessions – check out Eyezikchat.com. It’s a gift I have. I believe having the ability to meditate allows you to tap into a stream of consciousness that opens up imaginative pathways to creating whatever you desire.

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

Learn how to format or hire someone who can handle it easily.  Make sure you tell them to give you a version you can correct.  Even after having had my work professionally proofed several times, I found that once the book was formatted, errors jumped out at me that I didn’t notice before.  I was lucky enough that my formatter allowed me to fix these things, but it was a very expensive lesson.  So I guess even before that step, make sure you have your manuscript proofed no less than 5 times. And in the end, if it’s still not perfect, let it go. As long as people connect with the story, that is all that matters.

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

I completed it.  I took it from A-Z and once I did that, the floodgates opened for me. That was when a team of supporters magically arrived to support me. I love my agent Leticia Gomez, manager Marilyn Atlas, and most importantly, my editor Elizabeth Lopez. These people were instrumental in the completion of this book.  I’d also like to thank my husband for giving me my blue vagina! lol

And I thank my son Iysaac. I raced to finish up this book before he woke up at night. That was the fire under my ass I needed to get it completed. Mama got it done.

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

If you don’t have a team of people out there to help you get the book to where it needs to be, I would suggest you go about completing the book from start to finish on your own.  That needs to be the goal and the team will arrive. If not for your first book, then for the second one, for sure. My friend did that recently and got himself on Amazon and other sites. He had a goal and made it happen. I think that is the key.  If you want to get published, go about having a plan to publish yourself as you are sending out query letters to different publishing companies and agencies.

Website?

www.Curseofthebluevagina.com

Where can we find Curse of the Blue Vagina?

The above website works.

What’s next for you, Jonisha?

My next book and some web shows and pod casts are in the works. Follow me on Facebook to see what is coming up next.

 

Fun interview, Jonisha. Best wishes with Curse of the Blue Vagina!

ABOUT ELEANOR PARKER SAPIA

ellie

Award winning novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was born in Puerto Rico and raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s career paths as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker and refugee case worker, continue to inspire her stories.

Eleanor’s debut novel, ‘A Decent Woman, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, is published by Sixth Street River Press. The book is a finalist for Best Historical Fiction, English, in the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. Eleanor is featured in the award-winning anthology, ‘Latina Authors and Their Muses’, edited by Mayra Calvani.

http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK

New Cover Reveal, New Beginnings!

Yesterday I found out that the new cover of ‘A Decent Woman’ (ebook) is on Amazon! Kudos and many thanks to the multi-talented Ally Bishop and her awesome team at Scarlet River Press, an imprint of Sixth Street River Press, for coming up with the super retro, artsy cover with the lovely title font. The woman in the image reminded Ally of the character Serafina, and I have to agree! I love the colors and how they match the International Latino Book Awards badge, which I’m very proud to display.

The paperback will be available on Amazon soon! I can’t wait to hold a copy of my “new” book.

I love fresh, new beginnings, don’t you? Have a super week, everyone!

Ponce, Puerto Rico, at the turn of the century

Ana Belén Opaku, an Afro-Cuban born into slavery, is a proud midwife, the only one in La Playa. After testifying at an infanticide trial, Ana is forced to reveal a dark secret from her past while she continues to hide a more sinister one. Pitted against the parish priest Padre Vicénte and the young Doctór Héctor Rivera, Ana must fight to preserve her twenty-five-year career.

Serafina is a respectable young widow with two small children who marries a wealthy merchant from a distinguished family. When she’s attacked during her pregnancy, she and Ana become allies in an ill-conceived plan to avoid scandal and preserve Serafina’s honor.

Set against the combustive backdrop of a chauvinistic society where women are treated as possessions, Eleanor Parker Sapia explores the battle of two women defending their dignity against the pain of betrayal in a society resistant to change.

ABOUT ELEANOR PARKER SAPIA

ellie

Award winning novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was born in Puerto Rico and raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s career paths as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker and refugee case worker, continue to inspire her stories.

Eleanor’s debut novel, ‘A Decent Woman, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, is published by Sixth Street River Press. The book is a finalist for Best Historical Fiction, English, in the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. Eleanor is featured in the award-winning anthology, ‘Latina Authors and Their Muses’, edited by Mayra Calvani. Eleanor is a proud member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, The National Association of Professional Women, and the Historical Novel Society. She is a contributing writer at Organic Coffee, Haphazardly Literary Society.

When not writing, Eleanor loves facilitating creativity groups, reading, gardening, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time. She adores her two adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is at work on her second novel, ‘The Laments of Sister Maria Inmaculada’ and thinking about the sequel to ‘A Decent Woman’ titled, ‘Mistress of Coffee’.

http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK

 

2016 International Latino Book Awards Finalists

Book Award LOGO & Image rgbI offer my heartfelt congratulations to all the Finalists of the 2016 International Latino Book Awards, and my gratitude to Latino Literacy Now for their continued dedication to Latino literature and to the Latino community. I’m deeply honored ‘A Decent Woman’ was selected as a Finalist for Best Historical Fiction, English.

“The Int’l Latino Book Awards is a major reflection that the fastest growing group in the USA has truly arrived. The Awards are now the largest Latino cultural Awards in the USA and with the 257 finalists this year, it has honored the greatness of 2,171 authors and publishers over the past two decades. These books are a great reflection that books by and about Latinos are in high demand. In 2016 Latinos will purchase over $675 million in books in English and Spanish. The 2016 Finalists for the 18th Annual Int’l Latino Book Awards are another reflection of the growing quality of books by and about Latinos. In order to handle this large number of books, the Awards had nearly 200 judges. The judges glowed more than ever about the high quality of the entries and how many great books there were. The Awards celebrates books in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Finalists are from across the USA and from 17 countries.”

Click below for the complete list of Finalists.

https://app.box.com/s/si0noqeuz45an4e8yzo7jp3fg3b5ryna

ABOUT ELEANOR PARKER SAPIA

ellie

Award winning novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was born in Puerto Rico and raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s career paths as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker and refugee case worker, continue to inspire her stories.

Eleanor’s debut novel, ‘A Decent Woman, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, is published by Sixth Street River Press. The book is a finalist for Best Historical Fiction, English, in the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. Eleanor is featured in the award winning anthology, ‘Latina Authors and Their Muses’, edited by Mayra Calvani. Eleanor is a proud member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, The National Association of Professional Women, and the Historical Novel Society. She is a contributing writer at Organic Coffee, Haphazardly Literary Society.

When not writing, Eleanor loves facilitating creativity groups, reading, gardening, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time. She adores her two adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is at work on her second novel, ‘The Laments of Sister Maria Inmaculada’ and thinking about the sequel to ‘A Decent Woman’ titled, ‘Mistress of Coffee’.

http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK

 

Book News!

I have great book news to share with you!

After a difficult, scary, and confusing month of worrying myself into a near panic over my first publisher, Booktrope Editions, closing the doors on May 31, 2016, I am thrilled to announce that my historical novel, ‘A Decent Woman’ found a new home with Sixth Street River Press, LLC.The book will be republished under the imprint, Scarlet River Press, headed by Ally Bishop, editor of ‘A Decent Woman’ and the fabulous host at ‘Upgrade Your Story’ podcast. I am grateful to Ally and her fabulous publishing team, and relieved beyond belief.

‘A Decent Woman’ is now AVAILABLE in ebook format on Amazon, republished by Sixth Street River Press, with the paperback version soon to follow! And we might have a new book cover design, still featuring the Our Lady of Montserrat. Lots to look forward to!

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A special thank you to my loving kids, family, friends, FB and Instagram friends, and blogger friends, who offered great information, love, and support, while pushing and encouraging me to keep writing despite an uncertain publishing future.

Now I can finish my second book, ‘The Laments of Sister Maria Inmaculada’, knowing my first ‘child’ has an awesome, new home and a brighter future. Lots of lessons learned this month…

and Mercury is out of retrograde! Hallelujah. Be well and happy writing to you!

More to come…

ABOUT ELEANOR

ellie

Award winning, Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s career paths as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker and refugee case worker, continue to inspire her stories.

Eleanor’s debut novel, ‘A Decent Woman, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, is published by Sixth Street River Press. The book is a finalist for Best Historical Fiction, English, in the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. Eleanor is featured in the award winning anthology, ‘Latina Authors and Their Muses’, edited by Mayra Calvani. Eleanor is a proud member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, The National Association of Professional Women, and the Historical Novel Society. She is a contributing writer at Organic Coffee, Haphazardly Literary Society. When not writing, Eleanor loves facilitating creativity groups, reading, gardening, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time. She adores her two adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is writing her second novel, ‘The Laments of Sister Maria Inmaculada’ and the sequel to ‘A Decent Woman’ called ‘Mistress of Coffee’.

http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Interview: Judith Works

The Writing Life is pleased to chat with author, Judith Works.

Judith Works, a graduate of Lewis & Clark Law School, is retired from the United Nations, Rome, Italy. She is the author of a memoir about Rome, Coins in the Fountain, available as an e-book, and City of Illusions, published by Booktrope. She is currently on the steering committee for the literary conference, Write on the Sound, and is also on the board for Edmonds Center for the Arts and EPIC Group Writers. She is a member of several other writer’s groups.

City of Illusions

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Welcome, Judith!

What is your book’s genre/category?

City of Illusions is best described as women’s contemporary fiction.

Please describe what the story/book is about.

Laura’s milestone 30th birthday is fast approaching and she sees her life as stalled. No children and a marriage settled into a routine far too early. Wanting more from her life, she finds a one-year job in Rome and talks husband Jake into taking a leave of absence. But while Laura is learning to live (and later to love) in Rome, Jake becomes a trailing spouse, adrift with nothing to do. Rome offers myriad opportunities to get into trouble for the unwary and Jake falls in with a gang of antiquity thieves. As his life spirals downward, Laura moves forward. After several missteps she finally achieves her own goal of fulfillment with a new life in Italy.

How did you come up with the title?

I had an earlier title which I didn’t like. I searched for quotations about Rome for an inspiration for a new title and came across this quote written by Giotto, a pre-Renaissance painter: “Rome the city of echoes, the city of illusions, and the city of yearning.” This was written around 1300 and is still a perfect description of what it is like to live in Rome for many of the expats who come for la dolce vita and find a different path.

What is the reason you wrote this book?

I wrote a memoir, Coins in the Fountain, about my happy and fraught experience of living in Rome for ten years but there was more to tell. I knew many expats who ran into difficulties, trailing spouses who could not work, who did things that they should not have, and those who never wanted to leave Italy. A novel was the opportunity to fictionalize some of the opportunities and challenges of living aboad.

What is your favorite part of writing?

Since much of my writing is centered on Rome, I love doing the research, especially if it involves “field research.” Sadly that doesn’t happen all that frequently, so I have to say the best part of writing is sitting down with a cup of coffee and putting down words to see how they come together.

What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

The generation of viable ideas – what works for a short story, for a post about my travels, for flash fiction, and for a novel.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Hemingway, Faulkner, Sarah Dunant, Anthony Doerr, Marguerite Yourcenar.

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

I read widely, both fiction and non-fiction. Several non-Italian authors have influenced me to think more deeply about Italy in all its variety: Frances Mayes, Elizabeth Bowen, Eleanor Clark, Iris Origo, and Tim Parks. The Italian author that I find captured the essence of southern Italy and also Rome was Carlo Levi.

Favorite place to write?

I have an office where I am surrounded by reminders from my travels: a sculpture of Dante, a watercolor of the Arch of Titus in the Roman Forum, posters from art exhibitions and items from much farther afield: a painting from Ethiopia, an icon from Bulgaria, a wood carving from Papua New Guinea. And of course loads of books.

Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I’m a Canadian citizen along with my US nationality; I’m a chocoholic; and I have been to over 100 countries, crawled inside a pyramid in Egypt, hiked in Petra, Jordan, and watched the sun set and a full moon rise in Ankor Wat.

Any surprises or learning experiences with the publishing process?

My memoir was self-published with assistance from a professional cover designer and others, but still mostly of my own doing. Working with an actual publisher instead of Amazon was a good experience. When you know there are professionals available to help it give you a sense of confidence. And my publisher, Booktrope, has a network of authors that communicate with each other to offer advice and solutions. I find that is very helpful.

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

I had several early readers who were very generous with their time and advice. I think this is a very important step for any author. Learning to accept critique is essential.

Any advice for writers looking to get published?

Write, write, write and then edit, edit, edit!

Website?

www.judithworks.net

Where can we find your book?

City of Illusions is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble in paperback and electronic format, and on iTunes electronically.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/judith-works/id471795858?mt=11

What’s next for you?

I am in the outlining stages of another novel. It will open in Rome but then move to Seattle and nearby Vashon Island. There will be murder!

Thanks for visiting us today, Judith! I wish you much success with your books!

About Eleanor Parker Sapia

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 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, reads, 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 Book of the Month for Las Comadres & Friends Latino Book Club. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is writing her second novel, The Island of Goats.

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

Author Interview – K. S. R. Burns

It’s my pleasure to welcome writer, K. S. R. Burns to The Writing Life.

K.S. R. Burns is the author of the new novel Rules for the Perpetual Diet (Booktrope 2015), as well as a non-fiction book, The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use (Running Press 2009). She has written for newspapers and magazines in the U.S. and abroad, and currently writes a weekly career advice column for The Seattle Times. She has never run away from home, like her character Amy, but she has lived in 22 cities—one of which was Paris, where she stayed three years. No longer a wanderer, Burns now happily resides in Seattle with her husband and cat.

Welcome, Karen!

What is your book’s genre/category?

I call it “book group fiction,” but a publisher would probably class it as “women’s fiction,” a term I am not crazy about, but there it is.

Please describe what the story/book is about.

Amy is 29, grieving the recent loss of her best friend, ticked off at her uptight husband, and sick and tired of her boring hometown of Phoenix. She’s also perpetually hungry, because she’s on a “perpetual diet.” Something’s gotta give so one day she picks up and runs away to Paris, her dream destination (though maybe not the best place to avoid carbs). Once in France, she not only finds that her numerous issues have come right along with her, she discovers a Paris few casual tourists see as she is robbed, stalked, arrested, and—almost—kidnapped.

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How did you come up with the title?

Throughout the book, actual “rules for the perpetual diet” keep popping into Amy’s head. There are 33 rules in all. Some are fairly sensible; some are kind of odd. For example, rule number thirty is “only eat when you’re hungry” but rule number five is “put on something a little tight in the morning, when you are at your thinnest, and you will be less likely to overeat during the day.”

What is the reason you wrote this book?

I wrote it for my book group. I’ve been in the same group for nearly 20 years and in our meetings we often talk about what makes a good book group novel (e.g., characters that are not black and white, a surprise ending, an exotic location, and some humor). I thought about these discussions as I worked on my novel, and tried to write the kind of story a book group would enjoy.

What is your favorite part of writing?

Rewriting! First drafts are excruciating. But once I have some words down on the page? Let the games begin.

 

Karen Burns

What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

That painful first draft, of course. Hemingway once said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” We have computers now but otherwise this is still absolutely true.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

E. B. White has always been one of my idols, in terms of the purity and elegance of his prose. Also Nabokov—he was an amazing writer, whatever you may think of his actual books. I also enjoy curling up with a cup of tea and a good Barbara Pym, or even Anthony Trollope.

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

Well, E. B. White. I’ve read all of his essays and letters. He seems to me to have been the kind of quintessential writer’s writer who cares deeply about each word, and I admire him immensely.

Favorite place to write? Once I’m actually writing I am not conscious of my surroundings, so the ambiance is not that important. Any place where I can be alone and uninterrupted is fine. I did, however, get to go to Paris to do some “research” for the book, and hugely enjoyed being able to write my novel about Paris while in Paris. That was very cool.

Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

Well, I have had 59 jobs. Not that I get fired all the time; I’ve just moved around a lot. The 59 jobs, actually, are the subject of my non-fiction book, The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, so I guess this isn’t exactly a big secret….

Any surprises or learning experiences with the publishing process?

I was surprised at the number of readers who write me. I myself have never written an author. But apparently a lot of people do, and I love hearing from all readers, whatever they have to say.

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

I sought a lot of input and was willing to write and revise until I got it as good as it was going to get.

Any advice for writers looking to get published?

Grow a thick skin! Seriously, you will need to get used to rejection. A lot of rejection. Rejection in the morning, rejection in the evening, rejection at suppertime. That’s not very original advice, of course, but the amount of “no” that all writers hear (even well-published ones) is stunning.

Website?

My site is at www.ksrburns.com. On Facebook, my author page is KSR Burns.

Where can we find your book?

Oh, you can get it in digital or paper form from all the online vendors, or you can order it from any bookstore. If you come to my house, I will sell you a copy.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on the sequel to Rules for the Perpetual Diet. After I finished I realized I wasn’t, um, finished. Amy is not through with me yet, and I’m not through with her.

Thanks for a great interview, K.S.R. Burns! Best of luck with Rules for the Perpetual Diet.

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. 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

New Release – A Decent Woman

I was going about my day as usual, when my book manager emailed to tell me A DECENT WOMAN was live on Amazon! I am thrilled beyond words, very emotional, and I’ve popped open a bottle of champagne I’ve been saving!

CHEERS! To five long, amazing years of writing and researching A Decent Woman! Ana finally has her day! I love you, Ana and Serafina!

BOOK COVER SEPT 2014 (3) (1)

Do you know what my first thought was? I wish my Mom and grandmother were here with me today to celebrate this happy day. My second thought was to call my children, but my daughter was at work and my son lives in Holland. So, I texted my beautiful daughter and emailed my handsome son!

I was actually dizzy, honest to God. I said a prayer of thanks, logged onto my social media sites, and starting posting 🙂

THANK YOU to my family and friends who’ve supported me for five long years. I love you all!

Here’s how you can purchase A DECENT WOMAN-

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00U05ZO9M

Thank you for visiting today. I hope you will enjoy A DECENT WOMAN well enough to write an honest review of the book. Thank you!

Ellie