October Book Reviews

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Over the last few weeks I’ve been getting caught up on my book reading list and I have two great stories to share with you this week.

First, I read a short story by author J.B. Reynolds, What Friends are for, it’s a wonderful short story.  Check it out here.

It’s the fourth book in his, Crossing the Divide Short Story Series, but you don’t need to know the series to enjoy the book.  The story is about two moms who don’t know each other very well. They come from different walks of life and have different backgrounds providing for a great contrast. They spend an afternoon together and learn a great deal about each other. It’s excellent.  I provided a full review here.

Second, I read, Gods and Insects, by author Ambrose Hall. Check it out here.

This is the second book in his, City of Ash Series.  It follows Asher as he comes to terms with his new life as a vampire.  It’s a dark story, but still an excellent read and I highly suggest picking it up.  However, you’ll want to read book 1, Love is the Cure, so that you are familiar with the characters. Both books are excellent.

I don’t have a review posted of, Gods and Insects, because I’m hoping to convince Ambrose to stop by. I want to do an interview with him and talk about the book and this series.

Have a great week and let me know if you have any books I should read. I can’t promise I’ll read it right away, but I’ll add them to the reading list. 

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Self-Promoting when you’re a Writer

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Over the last few days/weeks I’ve been pondering self-promotion and the best ways to go about it.  Even though I have a publisher behind me and my upcoming books (NineStar Press check them out here) I’m going to have to do a lot of work myself (and I’m okay with that). Still, there is a line between promoting your work and basically being that annoying person who shouts, “buy my book” or whatever all the time.  For me, the key is having a good mix of promotion, content and finding what works then ditching what doesn’t.  That way you don’t feel like you’re out selling your soul to everyone who walks by.

The internet is a great resource at finding ideas and suggestion.  Here are just a few I came across and liked (I won’t be doing everything but I plan on mixing it up):

50 Ways to Promote your book

15 Do it Yourself Tools to Promote your Book

How to Promote a Book

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Not everything is going to work out and sure I’ll be banging my own drum to get people to notice me, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, as long as I don’t become an annoying crow about it (please let me know if I do).

For me, my current plan is to focus on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.  Also, I’ve talked to friends and families who are going to help spread the word.  I’ve joined various genre groups.  A press release is in the works as are Facebook ads.  I’m working on engaging people and getting folks excited about my upcoming book releases. There are three scheduled over the next few months (two short stories, The Reunion and A Dragon for Christmas, and one novel, The Calling).  Additionally, several people have been contacted and asked to read my ARC for, The Reunion, and provide reviews for the release day.  One, thing I’m doing and I’m finding surprisingly helpful are author interviews on various blogs. I’ve picked up some great new fans and I’ve been continuing to engage them.

How will all this effect book sales and my efforts at self-promotions? I’m not sure yet, but it can’t hurt. I guess what it all boils down to is getting out there (whatever that means) and being seen.  As I move closer to my book release days, I will let you know how things go.

I would love to hear what your thoughts are.  If you’re a writer please share, if you’re a reader please tell me what you like and don’t like about self-promotion.  As always have a great week.

Polite Society…Ugh

We live in the age of Polite Society.  When you speak with your friends or coworkers, it goes something like this:

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“Good to see you.” You say.  “How’s it going?”
Friend, “great. How about you?”
“I’m doing well.  Thanks. Talk to you later.” You smile and walk off.

That’s normally it.  There might be a little more banter about movies, sports or TV, but normally things wrap up quickly and you both go on with your day or move onto something else. It’s all lovely and polite and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.  Except.  You both lied to each other.  Things aren’t great and you’re not doing well, but you don’t want to air your dirty laundry and your friend or coworker doesn’t really want to hear it. So, we pretend for the sake of social graces.

What brings this up? You’re asking.  Well, for me there is a lot happening right now and it’s made me take a moment and reflect on all that we don’t know about each other and what we don’t share for the sake of being polite.  Over the last six weeks (actually much longer) I’ve been dealing with major family issues, both my side of the family and my husband’s side of the family.  I won’t go into the details, however needless to say it’s been stressful and left me in a kind of funk.

I’ve tried to keep it away from both work and social media, because we all have our own crap we’re dealing with. What it’s made me realize are the smiles on each other’s faces are often a mask to hide the drama in our own lives. We want to show the world ‘we’re fine’ and ‘everything is great’ when in reality it’s the opposite.

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Look, I’m not a proponent for ‘airing your laundry’ to the whole world (in face there are some people who do this way too much just for the attention they get) and a certain amount of ‘stiff upper lip’ is important. However, when we see all those smiles and we have our pleasant generic chit-chat about sports, or movies, or TV maybe peek past all that. Ask yourself if this is a moment I should go a little deeper, does this person need to talk, really talk, or do they need the false charade to help them get through all the crap they are going through? Because it does work both ways, sometimes we need Polite Society to get us through the day and provide us a break from our world of crap. Regardless, it’s worth at the very least a mental question and perhaps we should take a moment to open up and really talk to people especially our friends. 

I don’t know.  It’s just what’s been going on in my head these last few days. I’m not the only one to think this and I’m not the only one to point this out.

Feel free to share your thoughts.  I always love hearing from folks.


Also, I wanted to let you all know that I’ve read two really amazing books recently:

Daimonion by J. P. Jackson click here for my interview with J. P. and here to get the book.

And

When Heaven Strikes by F. E. Feeley Jr. click here for my interview & review of the book and here to get the book.

Until next time have a great week.

Interview with Writer Alex Schuler

Wow, here we are in mid-September, this year is just zooming by.  Today I’m happy to introduce you all to author Alex Shuler.

Welcome to my Scribbles page Alex.

Thank you for the invite.

Of course, I love having authors stop by.  Let’s jump in shall we.

Excellent.

When it comes to writing there are so many choices an author can make, the setting, the time period, what the characters do, the style of book. Keeping in that train of thought, what tense do you prefer to write in? Is there a reason behind your choice?

I like to write in third person past tense because I feel it’s the most neutral, but I try to choose the best tense for each story and I’ve written in first person a few times. A lot of my projects require second person present tense, so I’m pretty comfortable with that as well.

I like to write in first person and third person myself.

For more information about writing tense click here for a really helpful article.

Not only do authors need to figure out tense of their story, but now, with all the advances in self-publishing they have choices on how to get their stories out there.  What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being traditionally published or the other way around?

Self-publishing requires more investment on the part of the author. Money, sure, a lot of times although some self-published authors are really good at cutting down costs, but also the time to find editors, cover designers, formatters, etc. or to do all that themselves. Traditional publishers will take care of all that for you, and may even do some marketing. Being published traditionally can also give an author the reassurance that a professional in the industry thought their book has potential.

But self-publishers also don’t share their royalties, giving the potential to make more money for their effort even at lower prices, and they have more control over when their books are released. They can also take chances on books that there’s a niche market for, but that traditional publishers wouldn’t touch.

It really just depends on an author’s goals.

As we’ve talked about the nuts and bolts of writing let me ask you, cause I’m curious, how much research do you do for your stories?

Urgh. I don’t much like research. Except when I do, at which point I start neglecting my writing for it. So I try not to do too much research until it becomes necessary. It really varies by project.

(Laughs) I think that is a similar problem all authors share.

One more question about writing and the writing process for you.  Tell me what are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

I like constructive reviews, both good and bad. I don’t want people to waste their time with my book if they aren’t the right audience for it, and I think reviews play a vital role in that process.

That’s a good way to look at it.  Well said.

Thank you.

Last question, and this is a fun one. Do you have other hobbies?

I’m trying to focus most of my time on writing and painting, but I also play the ocarina and enjoy studying different languages and learning about different cultures.

Sounds like you have a very full and creative plate.  Thank you so much for stopping by today and chatting with me.  I look forward to hearing/seeing more from you.


More about Alex Schuler

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Alex lives in Colorado in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. She loves learning new things and meeting new people. These days she spends most of her time working on her writing and visual art, and spends the rest dreaming about and planning her big trip bicycling around the world. You can find her blabbering about her writing and visual art at here, travel (as Rebecca Jones) here, or follow her artist or travel twitter accounts here.

Writing Update

I have so many updates to provide, but first with all the current devastation with the hurricanes in Texas and Florida and the major earthquake in Mexico I want to share some ways for you to help.

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Catholic Charities USA–Long term recovery and support click here

Red Cross–Immediate support click here

Caritas (Caritas International)–International relief outside the US click here

These agencies do amazing work and already have people in the areas helping.  There are many other non-profits who help as well.  These just happen to be the ones I tend to support when disasters hit.


When it comes to my world of writing a lot has been happening since my last writing update. 

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Firstly, I now have three books (two short stories and one novel) being published by NineStar Press it’s very exciting and I can now share release dates with you (so mark your calendars):

 

So, as you can imagine things are crazy busy with editing and working with the publisher on cover art and all that good stuff.  I can’t wait to share the cover art with you all.

Secondly, I’m still one of the judges over at the Rainbow Awards.  There have been so many wonderful entries and I’m excited to still be part of the process.  The awards will be announced in December 8, 2017 click here for the Facebook page with more information.

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On the writing front (yep, I’m still writing new stuff) I recently finished my novella T.A.D and it’s started to make its way around my writing group, so this is exciting. The feedback and suggestions I’ve been getting are wonderful and are really helping the story.  Also, I’ve been editing ‘A New World – Conspiracy’ there is still writing to do, so this project hasn’t been getting the love it deserves these days.  I hope to change that over the next few weeks.

I have a few personal things I want to share with you all.  On August 21, 2017, I became a Granduncle, my nephew and his wife had a bouncing baby boy.  Eric and I have gotten to meet the newest member of the family, so that has been really quite exciting, I’m very happy for my nephew and his wife. Also, I know some of you still ask and yep, Eric and I are still doing our weekly meals.  It really has been wonderful and super easy.  We love it.  On a bit of a sadder note, both Eric and I have family members who aren’t doing well health wise. It’s not easy, of course, when you live in separate states so you can’t be there for them. However, with the help of technology we get to talk and check in so that is something.

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If you haven’t noticed I’ve made a few changes to my website, nothing major but there have been some additions and modifications.  We’ll see what more needs to be done, but for now we’re making tweaks here and there.

Lastly, some of you have been asking about the headshots, well the short answer: it’s a process.  The long answer; we’ve taken two rounds of photos and we still want to take a third.  We’re trying to get various looks and moods, so it’s taking a bit of time.  I would like to have the headshots all done by the end of this month.  That is my goal, however, the photographer, and the others involved on the project may have other plans.  Either way, the photos are moving along and what I’ve seen I like, so that’s good.

That is about all I have this week.  Next week I have an amazing author interview coming out, so that is exciting.  Have a wonderful week everyone and if you’re in an area of the country or world affected by the hurricanes or earthquake, please be safe and take care.

Book Review and Interview with Author F.E. Feeley, Jr.

This is something new.  I’m doing a two for one combo today.  I will be discussing ‘When Heaven Strikes’ with the author of the story F.E. Feeley, Jr. 

Please give us a quick introduction to yourself?

My name is F.E. Feeley Jr I’m the author of the Memoirs of the Human Wraiths Series, as well as the author of several short stories, Indigent, The Scarecrow, Between Us, My Final Blog featured in Gothika 5, and poet. 

‘When Heaven Strikes’ is your newest book. It’s not your typical romance piece (even one of the character’s mention how not all relationships are like a romance novel, which I loved by the way.). What made you pick this kind of romance to write about?

I like to write about things that scare me. I usually write about ghosts and spooky things. Yet, when confronted with the idea of writing a contemporary romance, I realized just how scary love really is. I mean, think about it, we go through our entire life with this narrative of who we are in our heads. Then we meet someone and for the first time in our lives, or the fifth time depending on how you handle the situation, we see ourselves through the lens of someone else. Then we realize how imperfect we really are.

That’s scary on a whole other level and learning to navigate all of it and strip away the things about you—that’s intimidating.

Ted, the main protagonist, has a lot of issues, but that didn’t get in the way of the story (you didn’t make him whiny and tragic) and he still ended up being likable.  Is he based on anyone in the real world?

I was inspired by an artist friend of mine for the work he does. Having zero knowledge of how an artist, or at least someone who draws and paints, actually goes about their craft I winged it. The rest I drew from my own experiences. They say write what you know. Well, I know Ted. I’ve been him. I know Anderson and Josiah and I know Jeff. I’ve been him, too. 

Going back to your artist friend, does he know he was, at least a little, the model for Ted?

Yes, I told him. I haven’t heard back however. I hope he likes it.

I’m sure he will.

Now, I thought the ending of the story was amazing.  You could have gone very dark, but you chose not to (which I’m happy about), was this always the plan from the start? 

Actually no. I was going to go extremely dark to represent the generational gap between Jeff and Gary and Ted and Anderson as figureheads of literature regarding gay men. Yet, when it came time to do it, I just couldn’t. One reviewer complained about Jeff and Gary’s Happy Ever After because of who he was as a person and what he’d done. First of all, I don’t believe in Happy Ever Afters. It’s a false thing we sell people in hopes of profiting off their desire for it.

I wanted this story to reflect life. Jeff and his wife were a twisted pair. The kids suffered because of it. They all did. Jeff, despite the way the story ended, has a long hard road ahead of him.

You aren’t kidding about Jeff and his wife, they are a mess.

But real.

Agreed, with regards to Jeff I was a little surprised with his ending. Do you have any intentions of doing a follow up novel with these characters to maybe explore what happens next?

I may if a story develops. It would mostly depend on the success of this book and if the readers want more.

The underlying tones of this story are abuse and religion, as I read this it felt very personal to me. Is this the case? Do you mind sharing a little about your motivation for writing about such a topic?

Yeah, it’s personal. People have stories. I don’t care who you are, you’ve got something inside of you that holds you hostage on occasion. It was Viola Davis who said, “There is one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered. The graveyard.” She went on to say, “…exhume those bodies, exhume those stories, the stories of people who loved and lost, who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition…,”.

I have this desire to connect to people through my art mostly out of a deep need to be understood. You know, through all the literature and the lore of ghosts etc. there is one thing that is almost cliché about it all. Unfinished business. Something or someone that causes that spirit to linger. While I am in no way suicidal, there are things that I’ve known that I fear – would prevent me from moving on if I didn’t find a way to work it out.

Religion is supposed to be, and often is, a force for good in people’s lives. Unfortunately, like everything else, it can be manipulated and twisted into a terrible evil – the effects of which are incredibly long lasting. All this current talk about ‘evil Islam’ and ‘radicalization’ from the talking heads and the current administration in the White House – ought to take a closer look in their own neighborhoods. They ought to not worry about the brown skinned folks and take a good long hard look at the conversations we’re having today about race in this country. Find out its origins and find out WHY almost 150 years later – we’re still having this same stupid conversation about rights and equality. Here I’ll give you a clue, Bob Jones Sr. vs The United States. 

You paid a lot of attention to your secondary characters such as Anderson (although he felt more like a second main character to me) Eleanor, Josiah and James. Was that the goal from the start? To have strong well-rounded characters or is that just how it worked out?

I wanted people to experience Ted from multiple points of view. Ted was Anderson’s great love. Eleanor saw him as a gifted artist. To Jeff, Ted and his ‘lifestyle’ was a threat to the tenuous grasp he had on his own reality. Ted was a savior to Josiah. That initial knock on the door was the stone cast into the pond and the ripples that go outward displacing things for better and for worse.

What I loved about this book is that these character felt real to me. Even the setting helped to ground them. They were not the typical ‘perfect’ characters found in gay romance novels was that your goal to make a more ‘every person’ type of character?

There’s an old Rolling Stone song that goes, “You can’t always get what you want, you get what you need.”  I think a lot of the screwed up things that happen in life is when we actually get what we want and find out it isn’t even in the same zip code of what we need. Those things often clash and when they do – it can be a honey. Ted wanted to be left alone. Jeff wanted his life as it was. Yet, their need to experience a connection drove them. Josiah needed his father. He needed to figure out how to deal with the fallout. I think we find ways to simply deal with those parts of us that we’re not necessarily proud of. That is what drove me to write the characters the way I did. People are people and people can be a mess of contradictions.

Now that you’ve released ‘When Heaven Strikes’, what’s next?

That’s the million-dollar question. I have no clue. I have a Steampunk Phantom of the Opera story in limbo, I thought about a Christmas Novella, another ghost story. Who knows. Whichever one jumps up and shouts at me the loudest will be the one that gets my attention.

Personal I think a Steampunk Phantom of the Opera would be amazing. Just saying…no seriously do this.

As I understand it this book was self-published, how was the experience after being traditionally published, any advice or wisdom you can pass on?

This experience was a rough one. Without divulging too much background it was slotted to be published traditionally but at the last moment they decided that I should change some stuff to make it more palatable to the ‘romance reader’. Entire scenes. I said no. So, we withdrew from the agreement and I sought out editors and everyone else. 

My advice to those who want to self-publish who’ve traditionally gone the other way. Buckle up and show up. It’s work. It’s harder than you can imagine. Yet, I think there’s virtue in it. You’ll respect the process more. You’ll respect the work that goes into it, more. And perhaps that’ll keep you from posting your work for 99-cents. 

I’m guessing you’re not a fan of not underselling your work.  What do you think about how authors are willing to sell their work so cheaply and others who give it away? Do you think some of it fits in the realm of marketing and PR?

There is no window to another man’s conscience (or woman’s). I do think it’s a bad practice, however, and I think it hurts just about everyone inside of the writing world.

Think about it, 99-cents for months possibly years’ worth of work. The money put in to create the novel if you’re traditionally published. The inability of smaller presses to compete. The worst part is that then it stops being something that is done once in a while to boost a sale prior to a new release, it becomes expected. People complain over the cost of an eBook at $6.99. That’s a Starbucks coffee, something you’ll enjoy for an hour. A book last’s forever. I don’t see this as a consumer hurting the industry – I see it as other authors hurting their own. Sure - you’ll be an amazon best seller. Yay, you. However, you’ve killed some poor soul out there working just as hard as you are who maybe can’t afford to compete with that. 

Add in Kindle Unlimited (KU) where someone is paid $0.0046 cents per page read IF the book is read in its entirety? Come on. That’s a complete rip off. 

I saw people sharing a blog someone wrote about why she decided to leave KU. It was something a lot of people read and shared and are considering. However, I peeked in at other authors who shared it around and read some of the comments and found some surprising stuff.

First of all, I think a lot of people were shocked.  The Netflix binge mentality is diluted a little bit because of proximity of writers to their readers via social media. It’s hard to look forward to a favorite author’s new release when she/he has to give up and go back to their 9-5. I saw a lot of comments in that frame of mind.

Then I saw comments like, “Yeah, I know KU rips off authors but I wouldn’t be able to feed my reading binge if I didn’t have it.” 

There’s virtue in having to wait for something.

While it’s great authors have this advantage now to publish their own work – I think there needs to be an agreement reached between the writers and the readers saying, “We recognize this work as art and we value art so we’re not going to let you fall victim to the whole ‘starving artist’ cliché.”

As a gay man how important it is to see the full LGBTQ+ community represented in all forms of fiction and media? And as an author what is your responsibility to show this diverse community?

I think it’s important for people to tell their stories regardless of who they are. I think, however, that if a publishing company is in the business of producing a minority group’s stories they damn well better let those people speak their truth.  

Right now there is a monopoly on LGBTQ fiction in the m/m romance genre – and these stories are all being viewed through the lens of romance readers and that’s unfortunate. 

One of the motivations of writing this book the way I did was to show people a reality of modern gay life. There was no antagonistic split, no fallout argument, I met my husband on December first, we went out on a date three days later, and have been together for seven years this December. We broke up for six hours one day. That’s it. 

Together, we have weathered our life with dignity and with determination. 

When I see statements like, “that’s not how people really act” when it comes to these reviews – I can’t help by shake my head. 

That may not be how people in romance novels work- but romance novels aren’t supposed to be reality. I think too often those lines blur and people get confused. 

In your bio you mention you love to cook, what types of foods do you cook?

Yeah, I love to cook. I will cook just about anything. From stuff, I remember my parents making, to things I invented myself, to recipes from friends. I just discovered the joy of Rachel Ray as a matter of fact and so has my waistline.

I love cooking. It’s nourishing, it’s social, it’s sometimes sexy, but cooking and eating and talking over dinner always brings me back to earth. It’s really kind of funny. When someone asks me why I am such a stickler of race and racism – I tell them because I’m hungry. 

If I don’t like you – I won’t eat your food. I won’t break bread with you.

That’s why I think food can help resolve a lot of old anger and disputes.

I want to eat with you. I want to spend time with you. I can experience you through what you make. It’s intimate.

What is your favorite type of food?

Chinese will make me love you.

That being said, I’ll eat just about anything.

You mention you write poetry and I’ve read some on your blog. What is it about poetry (writing it) that you enjoy so much?

I think poetry is beautiful. It’s not something I’ve always enjoyed. As a matter of fact, it seems to be a dying art. I mean, sure, you have angst filled poetry written by teenagers and young adults, rhyming schemes you find on twitter, but real poetry. Real honest to goodness brilliance out there such as The Day is Done by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Gorgeous. I am nowhere near that level of brilliance but writing it is an exercise to one-day writing something worth publishing. 

Do you have any final messages for readers?

Yes. In these times – art is incredibly important. Art reflects life. Support the arts whatever the medium. It saves us all.

For more about author F.E. Feely, Jr. check him out on his website here.


My review for When Heaven Strikes:

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Hearing about this novel from a friend of mine and after reading the blurb I knew I wanted to read When Heaven Strikes.  It did not disappoint.  What we got was a romance novel that didn’t have perfect characters.  These men felt like people I know and have seen around.  F.E. Feeley Jr. does an amazing job creating the perfect setting for these characters to inhabit.

The main character Ted, an artist, has some real life issues that affects how he sees the world without making him whinny or unlikable.  Anderson, a surgeon, despite appearing to have it all is alone and lives in an isolated world he’s created. So when they meet and come together you can see how they actually complement each other.

Given this is a romance the author could have taken the easy road and had them characters have some epic fight or misunderstand and then come back together by the end of the story, but Feeley decided to go in a different direction and to his credit it works amazing.

This is an amazing book with some heavy underlying tones which Feeley doesn’t mince words on.  Definitely worth the read. To bye 'When Heaven Strikes' click here.

Where has all our Mutual Respect Gone?

Over these last few weeks (actually, since the start of the Presidential Primaries) we’ve lost our collective minds.  There can no longer be a difference of opinions you either support ‘insert topic here’ or you’re the Scum of the Earth.  You’re the lowest of the low.

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Where is our respect for the person?  Where is our compassion for each other? Where is our ability to disagree with the philosophy but still respect the person? Where is our kindness?

Am I the only one who cares about these things? 

During this time, I’ve seen families tear themselves apart, friends stop talking to friends, and people lose their jobs.  We’ve witness nothing but hate on TV and Online. The worst part is this seems like this is our new normal. Not only for us, but for our country. It’s disappointing because I thought we were better than that. It’s dangerous because we’re tearing ourselves apart from the inside and we don’t seem to care. As long ‘we’ are right.

If we’re not on the brink of collapse as a country, I’d be shocked.

Why are we letting the media and the politicians do this to us?  We have the power.  We can choose to respect each other.  We can choose to disagree and not come to fist-a-cuffs. We have the control.  We can protest without fighting or destroying property.  We can fight for what we hold dear and still have a strong society.

Last May I wrote a blog titled ‘Stop Being Negative and Don’t be a Jerk’ (missed it click here).  I wrote it for Memorial Day because we needed these reminders.  Then in July I wrote a blog ‘Be a Decent Person–Shut down your Technology Once in a While’ (missed it click here). I wrote this because we need the reminder. I wrote these two blogs, and now this one, in reaction to what I see happening around me.  We’re on a downward spiral and instead of helping each other we’re hell bent on destroying ourselves.

Why? Again, am I the only one who sees this?  Who cares?  I can’t be. I refuse to even consider it’s just me, alone, trying to get people to stop and really take a look at how we’re tearing each other apart.

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Look, I’m not naive.  There are awful people all around waiting to take advantage of a volatile situation, but we can’t let them do it.  We have to police ourselves.  We have to treat each other the way we want to be treated. 

Some people say to me.  What do you know about hate?  What do you know about discrimination?  This is all easy for you to say because you’ve never experienced it. You’re a white male, you’re part of the privileged class.  You have no idea.

What they don’t understand is that there are more forms hate out there probably than people.  I’ve been threatened with physical harm for talking with a lisp and for being seen leaving the wrong kind of club.  I’ve been followed by thugs who, if I was caught, would have done who knows what to me.  I’ve had my car vandalized just for being me. I’ve been followed after I left a club having to drive to a police station before those following me decided to find easier prey.  I’ve been pulled over by the police having my car and my person searched for no other reason than being a teenager and male.  I’ve been fired from a job for being gay and then told by an expensive lawyer there is nothing I could do. Has it been as bad for me as for others? No.  We all have stories and for many it is worse than anything I can imagine.

Now, I could have allowed these awful events to corrupt who I am. Thinking about them still hurts and still makes me angry. But I won’t let them control me.  I won’t give any of these actions that kind of power over me.  And neither should we when it comes to all this hate and violence.  We need to step up and be the better people.  We need to show these hatemongers (on all sides) that they are wrong. We should celebrate our difference, not run people down or riot.  We have a right to disagree and to voice our unhappiness.  But, that is a right extended to everyone, not just the people who agree with us.  It is both our strength and our weakness as a nation.

We’ll never be able to change their minds fighting in the streets.  Heck, we may never change their minds at all. At some point all the rational-respectful people will have to sit down and say “That’s all right.” This is their problem and I refuse to allow them to affect the way I live my life and do my job.

You may not ever agree with them but you should respect them enough to walk away and go on with your life.  The worst thing you can do to any of these haters is take away their power and their spotlight.  Don’t let them control you, don’t let the media and the politicians control you. If each of us holds true to this one ideal, we win and the world will be a better place for it.

The best way to counter hate isn’t to fight it, but to show it kindness and goodness.  Hate is like fire, the more oxygen and fuel, you give it the bigger it gets.  If you take away its fuel it will burn itself out and vanish.

support.jpg

I hope I’m not the only one who feels like this.  If you agree let me know.  I want to hear how you are fighting against hate and violence.  I want to learn about how you are respecting those that don’t deserve it to show them what being a human being is really like.

Until next week, be kind to each other and stand up to hate.  Fight cruelty with kindness and please respect your fellow brothers and sisters.

Interview with Author CD Gallant-King

Is it August already?  Wow.  Where as the time gone? It’s time for another author interview and this week I welcome CD Gallant-King.

Welcome CD.

Glad to be here.

First, I have to say after going through your bio and checking out your website you are one of the most interesting people I’ve done an author interview for.

Um… thanks I think.

(Laughs) trust me, that’s a good thing.

If you say so. I’ll try not to be a spectacular letdown.

I love the quirky whit and the humor it’s a lot of fun.  Anyway, let’s get going shall we.

Sounds good.

First tell me, what are you currently working on?

I’ve got a few projects I’m working on, but off the top of my head I would say my Werebear vs. Landopus series. It’s a grotesque comic fantasy about terrible people doing horrible things trying to be heroic. 

So, it’s about politics?

(chuckles) No, but now that you mention it… (chuckles again).

Okay, so it’s not about politics, what is it about?

Each book features a group of “heroes” trying to destroy some hideous monster, but each time they only make things worse. It’s not for everyone and definitely recommended for mature audiences - not just because of the violence but because of the endless stream of dirty jokes and the casual discussion of the genitalia of various fantasy races.

And you’re sure it’s not about politics?

I’m sure.

All right enough of me trying to be funny, the series sounds interesting and I can see that it might not be for everyone. I’m curious what is the easiest thing about writing?

Coming up with an idea and sitting down to start a new story is the easiest thing in the world. That’s why I have literally hundreds of unfinished manuscripts on my computer. I have so many ideas, some good, some really, really terrible. Sometimes I write a few lines, sometimes a few pages and sometimes even a few chapters before I get bored and/or realize the idea isn’t as good as I thought it was.

I’ve been there before. I think that is something everyone can relate to in some form or another.

I think so. Still, sometimes I can reuse these ideas in other places, other times they just sit in The Closet collecting dust. I hope that one day I’ll be able to come back and finish all those crazy ideas. Or maybe someone will eventually write a computer program where I can just pump in my character sketches and plot outlines and it will spit out a finished novel.

Who knows?

Oh come on, you know it’s coming. The AI will need something to read after it takes over the world.

Probably, with collecting all these thoughts and ideas do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?

I usually write on the bus during my commute to work with my tiny old beat-up laptop balanced on my knees. Sometimes I write longhand, though.

Seriously? Longhand?

Yep. I actually wrote the first draft of Hell Comes to Hogtown completely longhand because I thought it would be easier to do on my commute. Except then I had to transcribe the manuscript, also on the bus, balancing both my laptop and my notebook on my lap. It was maddening, but at the same time helpful because I got to do a lot of editing and revising as I went between the first and second draft. In different circumstances I might do it again, but as long as I’m writing on the bus I think I will keep to putting the words directly into the computer.

Given you do your writing while you commute do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

I just try to get as much as I can. If I can’t get a seat on the bus, or if I’m tired and I doze off, I don’t get a whole lot of words in. So I try to be flexible and work where and when I can. If I’m focused, I can get 1000-2000 words on a good day (including the commute both ways). But it’s not at all unusual for extenuating circumstances (like forgetting to charge my laptop) results in exactly 0 words written.

With everything you put into your books what are your thoughts on giving books away for free?

What do you hope to accomplish by giving the book away? If you want that person to read your book and now they can, well, then it worked. If you want that book to cure cancer or teach a dog to do backflips, you’ve probably failed.

(Unless the book is literally about curing cancer or teaching a dog to do backflips, of course).

If you mean, will giving books away help increase your sales, then I think it probably will help, at least in the long run.

I agree.

The absolute hardest part about marketing a book is just getting it into people’s hands. There are so many books out there (not to mention movies, TV shows, etc) vying for everyone’s attention, being heard through the noise is a monumental feat. Being heard loud and being convincing enough to actually get someone to pick up your book is another level harder. But if you’ve literally placed the book into a potential reader’s hands, then you have skipped all that. Sure, you’re out the cost of the book (that’s the cost of marketing), but if they like it they might buy another book, or write a positive review, or tell a friend about it. At the very least they might mention to someone about the nice author person who gave them the free book, and your name will pass into infamy. And sure, they may just chuck it in the garbage, but once again: price of marketing. How much money have you spent on ads that amounted to the same thing?

I think people forget that and need to factor free books as part of their marketing plan. Of course you don’t want to give all your books away for free.

The trick of course is giving the book to the right person who will actually read it and may enjoy it. Giving a book about back-flipping dogs to someone who is looking for paranormal Christian YA erotica, for example, may not be the best choice.

Paranormal Christian YA Erotica… that… well I’ve never heard of that.

It’s a thing. Google it. Just not when you’re at work.

That is all we have time for today.  I hope this wasn’t too painful a process?

Excruciating.

Excellent, then my work here is done.  Anyway, I’m glad you were able to stop by for a chat. 

Thanks for having me.

Of course, keep us posted on your books and feel free to stop by anytime for a chat.  I enjoyed having you here today.


More about CD Gallant-King

C.D. Gallant-King wrote his first story when he was five years old.  He had to make his baby-sitter look up how to spell "extra-terrestrial" in the dictionary. He now writes stories about un-heroic people doing generally hilarious things in horrifying worlds.

He's a loving husband and proud father of two wonderful little kids.  He was born and raised in Newfoundland and currently resides in Ottawa, Ontario. There was also a ten-year period in between where he tried to make a go of a career in Theatre in Toronto, but that didn't work out so well.

C.D. has written eight novels you haven't read, because they're still locked in The Closet. The Closet is both a figurative and literal location - it is the space in his head where the stories are kept, but it's also an actual closet under the stairs in his basement where the stories are also kept. It's very meta.

He has published two novels you can read, Ten Thousand Days in 2015 and Hell Comes to Hogtown in 2016. He has an ongoing series of dark comic fantasy stories called Werebear vs. Landopus, which is available on Kindle Unlimited. His work also appears in Mystery and Horror’s supernatural humour anthology, Strangely Funny IV.

To reach out to CD find him at any of the below:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Google+
Goodreads

Find CD's books at any of the below:
Amazon
Kobo
Smashwords
B&N

What is the Role of an Artist in Our World?

For a recent interview I was asked this question, I took a moment to reflect on it, then I provided an answer.  However, as I thought more about it the more I really liked the question and wanted to share more of my thoughts and the thoughts of others here.

When it comes to Art and Artists my opinion is, very simply, Artists show people the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, what can be, and what should never be.  Artists not only remind the world of what and who we are, but they also start a dialogue about society.

Without art and artists, we would have no culture.  There would be no books, no movies, no theater, no photography, no television, etc.  There would be nothing to push our boundaries or make us contemplate the world around us.  We would be a world of people who live in simple boxes that all look the same with our heads filled with nothing but facts and figures.  The world would be dull and boring.

I found this article on Chron that I like about 'The Role of Visual Artists in Society'. The article starts out by saying, “Not only do the visual arts provide pleasure and creative inspiration, but they also help foster dialogue and bring important issues to the public eye.”  to read the whole article click here.

I ran across another article on Art Web and they had this to say,

At times, art feels like it reflects the very core of humanity. Other times it is purely aesthetic, a luxury, a rare indulgence. Art can portray the rich complex beauty of the natural world, it can also make bold, ugly, raw statements that are unsettling, challenging and far from beautiful.

For the full post click here.

What I like about both these articles is they talk about both beauty and dialogue and that ties into my thoughts about art. No matter what your attitude is about art or an artist you will have an opinion and it will create conversation. That in turn builds bridges and unites us (sometimes for good and sometimes for bad).

Whatever you think of art and artist remember without them the world would be a boring place.

What are your thoughts on the role of art and the artist?  I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.  Until next week take care.

Interview with Poet & Photographer Cendrine Marrouat

I’m very lucky this week to have Poet and Photographer Cendrine Marrouat (pronounced as “san-drEEn mar-wah”. The “t” at the end is optional) joining me on my Scribbles Page.  Cendrine has just released her tenth book “Life’s Little Things: The Quotes” an amazing book with inspirational quotes and beautiful photos (more about that later).   

Congratulations on the new book Cendrine and welcome to my Scribble Page.

Thank you for the feature. I am honored.

Of course.  I love having folks stop by, it’s honestly one of my favorite things. Shall we jump into the questions.

Absolutely.

Let’s start with the basics. Tell me about yourself.

Well, to start I’m originally from Toulouse, a beautiful city in southern France, I moved to Winnipeg, Canada, in 2003. I hold a bachelor’s degree in English-to-French translation.

In my career, I have done many things, including teaching, translation, photography, reviews, blogging, content curation, and journalism. I have released five collections of poetry, three photography books, two social media ebooks, and a spoken word CD. Finally, I am a dabbling playwright with two plays under my belt. I tried writing in other genres like short stories, but I am not very good… 

Really, with all you’ve done.  I find that hard to believe.

Thank you, but right now, my main focus is on nature photography, social media coaching, and French instruction. I work with older adults, and they are among the nicest people I have ever met.

You’ve definitely done a lot.  I love the fact that you work with older adults, that’s really impressive.

They are amazing and wonderful to instruct.

I bet. So, what got you interested in photography and writing poetry?

I always say that poetry and photography stalked me until the day I finally fell in love with them.

(Laughs) that an interesting way to put it.

I suppose it is, but it’s how I’ve felt.  So, I started writing poems all of a sudden in January 2005. However, it took quite a few people to persuade me that I was good enough to share my photos with the world, and even sell them. It was three years ago.

Really?  Well I’m glad they did.  The photos I’ve seen and the few poems I’ve read are fantastic.

Thanks.

I have no experience with publishing photos or poetry so what was the hardest thing about writing your current book and, more importantly what can we look forward to seeing in it?

Life’s Little Things: The Quotes is a book of quotes and images. Last year, I asked my blog’s visitors to help me select the photos. I would then write a saying for each of those choices.

It was a fun experiment, albeit challenging. But I loved every minute of it because I had to delve deep inside myself to find the words that would fit the photos. It just took me longer than expected to complete the project.

It’s like revealing your soul to the world.

Exactly, but I don't have any issues with that.

I suppose that's important for us writers.  Anyway, moving on, tell me, which famous person (living or dead) would you like to sit down with and have lunch with?  Why?

Khalil Gibran, for sure.

I’m sorry I don’t know that name.  Who is he?

The author of The Prophet and Jesus, the Son of Man he had an incredible way with words. He also was a feminist and a man with incredible artistic talent. I have goosebumps just writing about him.

I’ll have to check him out.

Definitely.

If I may, I’m curious did you come across any specific challenges when writing?  What would you do differently the next time?

I am an incredibly slow writer. So slow, actually that it’s not even funny. And my inspiration also comes in fits and spurts. So, I have learnt to go with the flow.

As far as my new book is concerned, I wouldn’t change a thing. I am not the type of person who regrets her decisions. That’s because I take them after careful planning and consideration.

Slow and steady wins the race right?

(Chuckles) I suppose. Something like that.
  
If you don’t mind me asking, what are your ambitions as a writer/artist?

I’ll tell you a little story. When my mom committed suicide in 2005…

Oh, my.  I’m so sorry.  I can’t imagine.

It wasn’t a surprise and we were expecting it. So, I decided to write a book on death. I wanted to help those who were left behind to grieve the passing of a loved one. Short Poetry for Those Who Fear Death, click here, was the result.

Months after the release, I received an email from a stranger. Before opening the book, she had contemplated killing herself. But then, she came across my book, read it, and underwent a complete transformation. Now, she saw life in a totally new light and wanted to enjoy it to the fullest!

Wow! Amazing.

It was. As a writer, this is one of my proudest moments. Knowing that my work helped someone is the greatest testimony of the healing power of art.

That is exactly why I do what I do. Whether I write poetry, take and share photos, or release a book, my goal is always the same: Open people’s minds to the beauty of the world around them. I don’t care how many copies or prints I sell, or even if I’ll ever be famous. 

I see too many people plagued with stress, depression, and negativity. They need to treat themselves better. So, I use my skills as an artist to try and change that status quo.

I have no words.

(After a short break I continue the interview, not because Cendrine needed the break, I did.)

Cendrine, what can we look forward to seeing from you in the future? What's your next project?

I have just released book number ten. Marketing it is going to take time, energy and a lot of work. So, I’ll be busy for weeks and maybe months.

Isn’t that the truth.

With that said, I am always full of ideas. I love the Life’s Little Things series that I started last year. The third book may feature haiku, my favorite poetic form. The natural element that it must include makes it the perfect partner for my photography.

That sounds like fun.

It should be.  Well, I hope it is.

This brings me to my last question and I hope it’s a good one to end on. Your portfolio of photos is huge, what is your favorite thing to take pictures of?

(Chuckles) That is a good way to end.  Anything related to nature -- animals, flowers, forests, water, etc. I am passionate about the little things that make this planet such a beautiful place to inhabit. So, there is a lot of material available out there!

Excellent.  Thank you so much for joining me today.

It was an honor to be here.  Thank you for hosting me.

Of course.


More about Cendrine Marrouart:

Cendrine Marrouat is a photographer, social media blogger and trainer, French instructor, and author living in Canada. She is the founder of two blogs: Photography website and Social media website. In 2015, Cendrine was recognized a Top 100 Business Blogger by BuzzHUMM. Social Media Slant also made Fit Small Business' Best Small Business Blogs of 2015 & 2016 lists.  You can also find Cendrine on Twitter here, Instagram here and YouTube here.

You can find her many works (poetry, social media, photography) here.


About Life’s Little Things: The Quotes

Quotes have been part of the human fabric for a very long time. No matter how old we are, we like to keep our favorites with us. We often have them safely tucked in our wallets or framed on the walls of our homes.

Quotes bring us a sense of comfort and keep us grounded. They force us to think and question our preconceived notions of our surroundings. But most importantly, they inspire us to become better people, especially when they are paired with photography that tells multi-layered stories. 

It is the idea behind Life’s Little Things: The Quotes. Cendrine Marrouat’s second book in her Life’s Little Things series pays homage to the world in a way that you may never have seen before. Each page is an invitation to reflect on the human condition and our never-ending connection to nature. 

Life’s Little Things: The Quotes will not just brighten your day. It will also open your mind to what is possible and what truly matters. In a world where negativity seems to be winning, the 25 high-quality photos and quotes in the book are intended as a balancing act. They will encourage you to reconnect with yourself, think more positively, slow down your physical pace, and find your inner rhythm. 

Life’s Little Things: The Quotes is a little book with a twist and a big heart. Don’t wait and pick up your copy today!

“A real treat for the senses.” – Janette Speyer, HotIceMedia.com

“Cendrine Marrouat’s play between imagery and prose is simple, sweet, succinct and good food for the mind and soul.” – Kelly Hungerford, CommunityWorks

“Cendrine Marrouat’s work is not just good but excellent. The pictures all tell a story, capture a moment in time and they speak to your emotions.” – Anthony Carranza, B2B News Network

Get Life's Little Things; The Quotes here.

People with Dreams

This week I was thinking about writing a blog post about Toxic People, but I stopped and decided I wanted to go in a different direction. I wanted to go with something positive.  There is so much negativity in this world why add to, even if it was an attempt at being supportive and helpful.

Instead I want to talk about people who have dreams.  Quite a while back I did a blog post about ‘Why we need to Celebrate Dreamers’ if you missed it you can read it here it was mostly about our space program, science, and big dreamers who create big change.  Today, I want to talk about the everyday dreamer.  We all know them and we should all support them.

As a writer, I get to interact with creative people on a regular basis, even in my day job I get to work with creative sorts and it’s fun. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Recently, I was chatting with a friend.  She and I went to lunch, and I found out about her dream.  It’s a small dream one that involves something I had no idea she was passionate about.  The more she and I talked the more I saw the fire in her eyes and heard he passion in her voice.  I was amazed.  Her passion and the way she talked got me really excited for her and her dream. I wanted to help.  I needed to help her reach her goal and her dream.

That is part of who I am.  I never thought about it until she told me how her family wasn’t very supportive of her dream.  Her family loves her, of course, but the way she talked about them in reference to her dream, it didn’t seem to me like they were being encouraging of her dream, and it was sad.  It made me sad, and it made me more determined to do what I could to help her with her dream.

I don’t know what will happen and I don’t know how this is going to pan out, but I’ve had people help me with my dream so I’m gonna help her with hers.

Why I’m sharing this with you is because supporting people with dreams is something we can all do.  It doesn’t cost anything.  It doesn’t hurt people. It’s being a good friend, family member, spouse, or whatever.

In fact, click here for 10 ways to help others achieve their dreams, and no it doesn’t cost anything.  It’s all about being supportive.

The next time someone opens up and shares their dream with you. Don’t laugh at them, don’t tell them it’s dumb, and don’t tell them all the reason’s it won’t work.  Instead, listen to them, ask what you can do to help, and be positive. They are telling you because you matter to them.  Because they trust you and they are looking to you for encouragement.  You may end up being the only one who believes in them and their dream.

I count myself lucky. No one ever told me that a dyslexic, gay guy, with no degree in Writing or Creative Writing could write a novel.  Everyone supported me and helped me a long the way, and I did it, with a lot more coming.

So, I know that other Dreamers out there need validation.  Whatever their dream is.  Be supportive of Dreamers and if you’re someone with a dream reading this.  You can do it, whatever it is, I have faith in you and so do others. Don’t give up. Keep trying.  The only way you fail is by giving up.

As for my friend and her dream, we’ll see where it goes, but I’m planning on encouraging her and helping her as much as I can.  Cause I believe in her and I believe in her dream.

I’d love to hear if you have a dream you want to share?  Do you need encouragement?  Leave it in the comments and I’ll respond.

Until next week, have a great week and keep dreaming.

Interview with Author Francisco Cordoba

This week I have the honor of welcoming Francisco Cordoba to my Scribbles page. I can’t wait to jump in so let’s get to it.

Welcome Francisco.

Thanks for having me.

Of course. I just hope I’m not to all over the place with my questions today.

I’m sure it’ll be fine.

You say that now, but we shall see soon enough.  Let’s start with a get to know you question.  Tell me, what are some of the day jobs you have held?

Let’s see if I can remember them all.  I’ve been an Accountant’s clerk, store clerk, telephone sales, dishwasher, zookeeper, care home worker, horse trainer, riding instructor, and English language instructor.

Wow.  That is an interesting mix.  How would you say these jobs have influenced your writing?

I think everything influences my writing because they were all life experience’s which put me in touch with different people and different situations.

I’ve heard that a lot from a variety of authors and I personal agree.  Everything we do is just another life experience to pull from.  That said, do you get a chance to do a lot of reading outside your genre, so you have difference experience’s to pull from?

Well, first, I don’t really have a genre. My series, The Horsemen of Golegã, doesn’t fit neatly into any one category. I really like books that are mixed-genre like that. However, I do read romance, erotica, science fiction, thriller, biography, suspense, mystery, literary and general fiction. I read everything, and I think that comes through in my writing.

Like your work history you have a very rich taste in reading.  That’s cool.

I like the variety.

I can see that.  Okay, so here is a tough question.

Oh man.

Are you ready?

Oh man.

Have you ever intentionally tried to make your readers cry?

(Chuckles) All the time. If I can make my reader cry, then I made my reader feel. I want my readers to feel. I want to leave them wrung out and gasping.

I agree.  I think writing is all about making the reader feel something and if they cry then I did my job.

Does that make us evil?

(Laughs) Probably.

Writing all these different scenes and trying to pull out emotion do you have a favorite scene or line you’ve written?

I think we all do.  Don’t you?

Yes, but I asked you first.

Fair enough, I do have many favorite scenes and lines. In Bosanquet: The Horsemen of Golegã, Book 1, the final intimate scene where the FMC loses her virginity is close to my heart. It was one of the first sex scenes I’d written, and I’m pleased with how it turned out. I’ve received a lot of positive feedback about it.

The scene in Loving North: The Horsemen of Golegã, Book 3, where Candice and Bosanquet are preparing to go camping, is another favorite. It’s the first time Candice really takes charge of her man, so it heralds her growth as a person, and his as he allows someone else to the lead.

With your diverse taste is books, I’m curious. Who was your favorite author as a child? Do they influence your storytelling now?

I loved, and still do, Dr. Seuss, who in my mind was nothing less than brilliant. I could read The Sneetches and marvel at their stupidity and gullibility over and over again, and get totally lost in the ridiculous stubbornness of the North-going and South-going Zax. The pathos of the lonely pale green pants with nobody inside them made me long to befriend someone less fortunate, and the zany futility of the Tweetle Beetles still make me giggle like a kid.

I have no doubt that Dr. Seuss influences my writing now. Through him, and others, I learned to appreciate the rhythm and swing of language. His stories, simply and amusingly told, illustrate his astute observations about the human condition, and human foibles and inconsistencies, in ways even small children can understand.

And as they say, the child is father to the man.

And that, as they say, was my last question.

Really?

Yes, Sir.  Thank you so much for stopping by.  I look forward to hearing more from you and checking out your books.

Thanks.

More about Francisco Cordoba

A passionate romantic and obsessive equestrian, Francisco Cordoba has been writing for as long as he can remember. However, it’s only in the last few years, since completing his Master’s Degree in Linguistics, and suffering regular chastisement from his wife, that he has dared to fully unleash his muse. He loves writing about romance, relationships, adventures and sex.
 
Francisco lives a largely reclusive life tucked away in an old farmhouse, somewhere, with his wife, teenage son, four cats, two dogs, horse, ducks and chickens. He freely admits to loving them all, although he refuses to allow more than three bodies to occupy his bed at any one time. His six-book slightly erotic, paranormally romantic, mysteriously suspenseful, thrillingly adventurous, and possibly fictional debut series, The Horsemen of Golegã, will be self-published soon.

You can find Francisco at his website here, his Facebook page here, on Twitter here, or via email at contact@franciscocordoba.com

Be A Decent Person – Shut down your Technology Once in a While

Here’s the thing. I say this both tongue-and-cheek, but also with a pang of honesty.  We suck.  We treat each other like trash and we have no mutual respect.  Oh sure, there are people who we are nice to and tolerate, but the truth is with the advances in communication we treat each other like crap.  Think about it for a moment.  How often do you actually talk to someone?  When do you put your technology down and actually have a conversation?  I bet not very often.  And when you do put the tech down you’re not focused on the person you’re with, but what you’re missing on your cellphone.

I’m guilty of this, that’s why I know what I’m talking about.

I’m trying to be batter about this.  We all need to try to be better about this.

There was a time before cellphones. When we had to sit and actually talk to each other.  We had to learn visual clues about human communication.  We had to talk in full sentences and not in 140 characters or emojis.  There were no selfies (think about that term ‘selfie’ sounds like ‘selfish’ it also excludes others and makes whatever we’re doing all about ‘I’. To hell with anyone else – Right?).

Anyway, in the time before technology we had to write letters to communicate or talk on the telephone (a landline – gasp).  If we wanted to talk to someone we would have to make an appointment or schedule something.  We had to be invited to visit them.  We didn’t email or text them at all hours of the day (which by the way is totally rude.  I don’t want to hear from you at 2am.  You better be dead, or dying, or the world should be ending.). Spending time with each other was an event (that was only about 30 years ago) so not really that long.  And what happened at these events/parties?  Well for one, there was a certain code of conduct. There were ways you talked to each other, how you addressed one another, it was all about etiquette. I’m not talking ‘Downtown Abbey’ etiquette, but still there were social norms we all adhered to.

Not anymore.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I love technology (well most of the time).  I have a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/mdneuauthor/).  I have a website. I have a Twitter account @Writer_MDNeu and I spend quite a bit of time on them, but when it’s time to shut it all off I do.

I hear you all gasp.

What do I do when I shut it all down? How do I survive? 

I read.  I write.  I cook.  I do things around the house.  This weekend my husband and I had a bunch of projects to work on at home.  I visit family and friends. We go to a movie.  We go shopping.  We go and eat (without cellphones). It’s amazing when you go to a restaurant and see people sitting there looking at their phones for the entire meal and never (and I mean never) talk to the people they are sitting with.  It’s sad.  It’s rude.  And it’s disrespectful.

How did we as a species survive all these thousands of years?  We made connections.  We formed communities. We bonded with each other.

Now we bond with technology, what does that say about us.  What does that say about where we are going as a species? As a people?

Did you know Millennials are having less sex than any generation in the last 60 years?  Don’t believe me here’s the article: 

Millennials Not Having Sex

I pose a challenge to everyone who reads this.  When you go out with family or friends instead of checking the little screen in your hands peer into the eyes of the person or people you’re with.  That’s magical.  It’s a moment you won’t forget.

I’m not telling anyone to give up their tech (I know longer believe it’s physically possible), but just be a decent person and put the phone away.  Shut down the tablet. Be in the moment with those around you, because at some point those people won’t be there anymore, and what will you remember of them?  The top of their head bent over a glowing screen or their eyes, and their face?

I would prefer to remember the eyes and face, but maybe that’s just me.

To remind you all here are a couple of etiquette rules to live by:

  • Be a gentleman and open the door (any and every door) for a lady.
  • If you’re on a bus or sitting on a bench offer your seat to a pregnant woman. Or offer it to an elderly person. If you can stand with ease, then give the seat to those who can’t.
  • Ladies, when a gentleman opens a door for you say, ‘thank you’ he’s not disrespecting you, he’s treating you with respect. Do the same for him.
  • If you ask a person out, you pay.  You don’t spilt the bill.  You ask, you pay. Simple and respectful.
  • When you’re having a meal with someone put the cellphones away, talk to one another.  Whatever you share while talking is so much more interesting than what’s on your cellphone.
  • Be kind to each other.  Let me repeat that, just be kind. 
  • Treat each other with respect even if you don’t agree with them (especially if you don’t agree with them). I really need to work on this.

Until next week.  Have a great week and build connections and be a decent person.

Agree with me?  Don’t agree with me?  Let me know down below. I love hearing what you all have to say.

Interview with Author Jeanne Marcella

This week I’m thrilled to welcome a fellow Northern Californian Jeanne (pronounced like Barbara Eden’s old 70s TV show “I Dream of Jeannie.” Except there is no “I”) Marcella to my Scribbles page and introduce you all to her and her amazing writing.  I can’t wait to jump in so let’s get to it.

Welcome to my Scribbles Page Jeanne.

Thanks for having me.

You know people are not going to have to Google the TV Show reference right?

Probably, maybe you should include a link for them.

(Laughs) Nah, they’re a smart group they can figure it out. First things first, tell me about your writing.
  
Dark fantasy is my main genre to play in, with urban fantasy quickly gaining favor. I write about the human condition and its struggles, even if most of my characters are not human. To me, that’s not only great drama and character development, it’s the great foundation for action and tension.

I agree.  I love using non-human character to explore human nature.  It’s fun.

Sure is.  
 
So, how did you get started?  What drives you to sit at the keyboard and put word to paper?
 
Even before I learned to write, I was drawing.  And as far back as I can remember, I’ve always been telling stories and demanding to hear them.
 
The children’s author, Richard Scarry, really sent my imagination into overdrive when I was small. I was completely obsessed with his books back then, and I’m still thoroughly fascinated by his ability to tell stories within stories within stories. Another early influence that probably shaped my writing into the dramatic was watching soap operas back in the 80s with my grandmother.

Stop!  I have to know what soaps did you watch?

(Laughs.) Now that I think about it, my first exposure to soaps was with my mom. She watched “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman”, and another one later simply called “Soap”.  Although I do recall both shows being really bizarre--I think “Soap” did a Rosemary’s baby scenario. It was confusing back then.
 
With my grandmother it was “Days of Our Lives” and “Another World.” I still remember the DooL opening…. “Like sands through the hourglass….these are the days of our lives!” It was all very dramatic.  

Okay, sorry didn’t mean to sidetrack I just had to know, please continue. 
 
No problem. Anyway, it’s the characters that live in my head that drive me to write. Their relationships and hardships, their agony. I can’t shut them up, even when I sleep.
 
While we’re talking about characters please give us some insight into your Main Character.  Who are they?  What is their life about?
 
Acanthus Breese is a twelve and a half year old boy, but this is definitely not a YA series. This is a gritty dark fantasy that lets the reader discover most of the plot as the main character does.

Oh, I like that.  I hate when you know everything at the start.
 
Yep, that’s why I did it this way.  So, Acanthus and his peers have been imprisoned and abandoned by the adults; they’ve raised themselves since they were five. Acanthus is the smallest boy in the Regrets grid and is often picked on. He draws, carves toy animals, and prays to the goddess to help him retain his sanity. He and the other boys endure while waiting for forgiveness, even though they aren’t exactly sure what they did wrong.

Wow, that is dark.  Should be a great read.

I hope so.  I hope readers enjoy it.
 
Let’s change topic a bit, if you don’t mind. What are your ambitions for your writing career?
 
Ambitions? Well, just to tell a good story and have people enjoy the characters as much as I do. 
 
I love it.  For me that is the best answer possible.

Ah, thanks.

I have to know, where do your ideas come from?
 
That’s a really loaded question. (chuckles). I consider myself a chaotic thinker.
 
My ideas come from everything and everywhere. I can’t turn it off. I see multiple and completely different stories within movies, TV shows, and even just looking out the window. My head is so crowded with ideas and input it’s often a trial to juggle them into submission. Again, it could be that Richard Scarry influence.
 
I think a lot of writers are the same.  I know I have similar issues.  I think it’s part of the creative process.  Or, a sign of madness.  Not sure which.

Could be both.

(Laughs) You may be on to something there. What is the hardest thing about writing your book?
 
The hardest thing about writing ‘The Phoenix Embryo’ was wading through all his trials that had piled up as I wrote, and ironing out the order they fell in. It was a very frustrating process that took about a decade. 
 
Wow.  That had to be tough, but you did it.  Congratulations.

Thank you.
 
Can you tell me, what are the challenges/benefits to being a self-published author?
 
Finding a readership and getting noticed is certainly a major hurdle, and I’m still floundering on that particular challenge. I’ve done my research, and know the avenue I need to go, it’s just taking that deep breath and navigating it. 
 
The benefits are the best. Complete creative control, and having it in the reader’s hands not long after the editors and formatters finish with it. 

I love the idea of complete creative control, but I get that has its challenges too?

It can, but it’s so much fun. I love it.

Awesome. Now back to the writing process. Did you come across any specific challenges when writing?  What did you do differently the next time?
 
There are a few. Realizing that I’ve written two, sometimes even three books as one. It’s happened a few times, and in more than one series/genre. 
 
Discovering that I wrote my ‘Infinity 8’ series backwards--starting in modern day when it needed to begin in the early 1900s.
 
Creating an outline and a synopsis has really saved me time, and a lot of headaches. I push the ideas as far out as they’ll go, and examine them in detail as that particular idea grows closer.  (Laughs) It’s less chaotic that way, and I get things done quicker. 
 
Organization and outlines are definitely the way to go.  I agree.
 
As a self-published author, I’m curious, where do you see publishing going in the future?
 
Ebook distribution is going to change somehow, of course. The question is just when. The tech industry doesn’t stand still. And with Amazon being such a powerhouse, the publishing industry may finally wake up and start competing. Perhaps the remaining Big 5--is it still the Big 5? Will ban together and open their own bookstores and online platform. That would be really neat.

Now that would be an interesting idea.  I think someone needs to compete with Amazon or they will end up controlling the industry.

Possibly. 
 
Sadly, I have one last question for you.

Only one more?

I’m afraid so.

Wow, that went fast.

It always goes fast. Maybe, we could do another interview at some point.

Anything is possible.

Okay, so final question, what do your fans mean to you?
 
Fans provide the mental energy that keep characters, and even a series alive. When they contact you to say how much they enjoy a book, it’s a treasure, and an honor.

Nicely put.

Well it’s true.

And on that finale note, I want to thank you for stopping by and agreeing to do this.  You were a joy to chat with.

Thank you.
 


More about Jeanne Marcella

Stories came to me from a very young age. And I loved books. I would stare at Richard Scarry’s art for hours. Days. And was mesmerized at the infinite mini universes and stories within stories presented.
 
The music I grew up with truly varied. A few examples: Mexican, Hawaiian, and big band. Classical and top 50s and 60s. In the mid-80s I encountered the new age genre: Ray Lynch’s Deep Breakfast. Stevie Nicks was my all time favorite for her unique fantasy-like allure.
 
Today I gravitate toward Apocalyptica, Adam Hurst, and E.S. Posthumus. I’m also into old black and white movies. People knew how to tell a complete story back then with only body language and a look.

I often muse why centaurs are categorized as non-people or stupid animals, instead of treated like the other sentient mythical beings of vampires, werewolves, and demons.

Conspiracy theories are my soap operas. Paranormal realms and ancient astronauts. Is the moon really hollow? Is Bigfoot from another dimension or merely a shy, near-extinct descendant of Giganthropithicus Blacki? All this drives the imagination and creativity. And it certainly opens up new realms to play in.

You can find Jeanne here and on Twitter here.  She also, has a Facebook Page here.
 


Click the image to shop for the book.

Click the image to shop for the book.

An Image from The Phoenix Embryo

An Image from The Phoenix Embryo

More about The Phoenix Embryo

Twelve-and-a-half-year-old Acanthus Breese and his yellow-robed peers have survived without an adult presence for seven years. They’ve scavenged. Endured madness, starvation, and murder after the adults imprisoned and abandoned them without a backward glance. They’ve clawed their way to civilization and questionable sanity at the guidance of one of their own.

Thirteen-year-old Edward Dasheel is a direct descendant of the goddess Staritti and the red phoenix god, Dasheel. Because of Edward’s love and leadership, Acanthus and the other boys know that despite their regretful crime of harming Staritti and driving her away, hope for redemption remains.

Acanthus knows Edward better than anyone; he knows Edward hides dark secrets about their exile, the adults, and specifically about him. So it is terrifying when suddenly the adults return, pushing themselves back into their lives. What do they want after all these years? And why?

Another Image from the Phoenix Embryo

Another Image from the Phoenix Embryo

Writing Update

I didn’t realize until today the last time I provided a writing update was in April.  So, let’s get you all up to speed on what is happening in my wonderful world of writing.

To start, I’m happy to announce, ‘The Calling’ will be published in January 2018 by NineStar Press it’s very exciting and honestly a little scary. It’s cool to dream this will happen then when it does, it kind of freaks you out.  There is a lot to do to get the story ready for publication as you can imagine.  If you have some time to check out NineStar Press here, they are a ton of wonderful books by some amazing authors and they are a good group of people to work with.

Next up, this year I have the honor of being a judge for the 2017 Rainbow Awards.  It’s exciting to be part of such an activity and I can’t wait for the award winners to be announced.  If you want to learn more about the Rainbow Awards check them out here.

Third, I’ve written a short story ‘A Dragon for Christmas’ its a cute short story and one I’m hoping to get published (fingers crossed).  Stay tuned.  In the meantime, you can read the blurb for ‘A Dragon for Christmas’ here.

On a more personal note, I’ve been busy working in the background on some new headshots and working with a few really good friends on how to not only market my novels but also myself.  It’s an interesting process one I didn’t think would be as difficult as it is.  It’s like this whole new world is sitting there and I need to figure out the best way to navigate it all.  So, as we move forward, you may see not only my photos change (may all that is fuzzy and warm take mercy on you when those come out), but also my website. There may be updates/changes to my Facebook Page and all of my social media as well.

Also, you’ll be happy to learn we are still doing our weekly meal in a box.  Its great and we still love it.  If you want to see pictures, let me know in the comments below, also, if you want an update on how we’re doing I’ll happily share.  There are some new developments.

Now more on the writing front, I’m still working on Book 2 of ‘A New World – Conspiracy’ and I’m working on a novella called ‘T.A.D.’. I’m about two-thirds of the way through ‘Conspiracy’ and ‘T.A.D.’ has its first draft finished and I’ve started the editing process so the writing is moving forward.  There are a few more stories that are floating around, but nothing nearly as far a long as these.

With respect to my blog, I’m changing my posting day to Mondays in hopes to get more traffic. I have to think about and pay attention to these things now.

Well that’s about it for this week.  Next week I have an exciting Author Interview coming up.  So, stay tuned.  I love to hear from you, so leave me a comment, drop me a line and remember to like, share and subscribe.  Until next week keep cool and #HappyPride2017

Interview with Writer Amir Lane

This month I’ve been so blessed to be able to do two Author Interviews.  I’m excited to welcome Amir Lane to my Scribbles Page.  Let’s get started.

Amir I’m thrilled to have you here this month.  Thanks for stopping by.

Always a joy to chat with folks.

I have so many questions, but so little time.  So let’s jump right in.  I’m curious about how you model your characters, are they based on real life?

I really try not to. It’s impossible not to let parts of people I know into my characters because there are only so many traits in the world. There’ve been times when I’ve been talking about a character and realized, ‘Holy crap, this is so-and-so.’ (chuckles)

Sometimes I’ll put real people in passing, like if I need a background character for two lines.

I think we’ve all done that.

Probably.  The other thing I do is when I have a character from another country - ie, not Canada - I’ll pick usually a musician who’s voice I dig and I’ll listen to interviews until I get a handle on it. Like, I have Matt Tuck for my Welsh guy, Til Lindemann for German, Max Cavalera for Brazilian… Sometimes I hear something that totally works. Sometimes it’s, like, a cultural thing, or a generic sort of - Like Max Cavalera learning English from dictionary translations. It’s exactly how my parents learned English, but it totally works here too. Again, generally not deliberate but it happens.

We’re going to be all over the map today with questions.  I hope you don’t mind?

Nope. Not at all.

Great, I wanted to ask if you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?

I'm honestly awful at marketing so I'm probably the last person who should be giving advice.

I don’t know you have some amazing cover art for your books and your Urban Fantasy Short is on Tall Tale TV, so you must be doing something right.

Thanks.

Okay, how about you tell me what you don’t like.

Well, as a reader, it really bothers me when authors leave me copy/pasted messages to buy their book, especially when it's for a genre I don't even like. I get that it's the fastest way to spread the word but honestly, it makes me hate the book on principle before I even know the title. People don't like being constantly advertised to, especially when everything is an advertisement. If you want to recommend me your book because you know that, based on the books I talk about, it lines up with what I like to read, then by all means, recommend it but don't make it too obvious that you're only interested in my wallet.

Well said.  I agree.

So, marketing isn’t your thing, but you must do some, so what part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?

Marketing time is marketing time. I don't take from my writing time, which is probably why I'm lacking in that department. I do most of my marketing when I'm between projects, or parts of projects. For example, I'll give myself a week between when I finish a draft and start editing, and I'll take that time to market. It's a system.

Cool, so keeping on the whole marketing theme, what do you thing about good/bad reviews?

I think the important thing to remember is that everything is subjective. Not everybody is going to like your book. Like, with Shadow Maker, someone said that my main character wasn't relatable at all, whereas other people found that he totally was. So, all that meant was that this person isn't the person that character was meant to be relatable to.

Good point.

Any review should be taken with a grain of salt but there is a point where, if it's a lot of people who are saying the same thing, then maybe that's something to pay attention to. I don't know, I try not to read reviews or respond to anything about my books unless someone is talking to me directly.

That is great advice.

Sadly, this is my last question and I hope it’s an easy one.  Do you have any tips on what to do and what not to do when writing?

Do: Write.
Don't: Get distracted and watch that episode of Duck Dodgers where Dave Mustain saves Earth with the power of heavy metal and awesome hair.

(Laughs) That is probably the best advice ever. What a great way to end the interview.  That you so much for joining me today.

Always a pleasure


More about Amir Lane

Amir Lane (pronounced Ah-meer) is a supernatural and urban fantasy writer from Sudbury, Ontario and the author of the Morrighan House Witches series that debuted in October 2016. The series opens with Shadow Maker, and follows physics major Dieter Lindemann as he's dragged down against his will into Necromancy and blood magic.

Engineer by trade, Amir spends most of their writing time in a small home office on the cargo pants of desks, at a back table at their favorite Middle Eastern restaurant, or in front of the TV watching every cop procedural or cooking competition on Netflix. They live in a world where magic is an everyday occurrence, and they strive to bring that world to paper. Their short story, Scrap Metal and Circuitry, was published by Indestructible magazine in April 2016.

When not trying to figure out what kind of day job an incubus would have or what a Necromancer would go to school for, Amir enjoys visiting the nearest Dairy Queen, getting killed in video games, absorbing the contents of comic books, and freaking out over how fluffy the neighbour's dog is.

Amir loves to connect with readers online. They can be found in their Facebook group here, on their Facebook page here, and at their website here, and on Twitter here where you can find out more about their work.

There are no Guarantees in Life

This week I was reminded that there are no guarantees in life.  A friend of mine was diagnosed with Cancer and she is being very aggressive in her treatment.  She’s not the first person I’ve known to do battle with this disease and I’m sure she won’t be the last.  What this news reminded me was that life, our lives, aren’t a dress rehearsal and tomorrow isn’t a guarantee.

You can run ten miles a day, be a vegan, eat healthful and workout four times a week.  Or, you can sit on your couch all day, eat a steak breakfast, noon and night, never eat a vegetable, and your treadmill can be a clothes hanger.  None of it matters, cause when the journey is over the journey is over.  The point, live your life.

How many times have you thought, ‘oh I’ll do that tomorrow’ or ‘it can wait’? More frightenly when have you passed up on doing something you really wanted to thinking you’ll get around to it later?  What happens when there are no more ‘laters’?

I guess what I’m going for is not to wait.  Don’t go crazy and don’t be irresponsible, but don’t wait.  Eat healthful, get some exercise, go outside, all that is important, but mostly get up and do it.  Take that trip. Take the class. Paint that painting.  Learn to cook. Ask that guy or girl out.  Go do it.  Live your life because you never know when your ticket to ride is over

Interview with Author JP Jackson

This week I’m very excited to welcome my buddy JP Jackson, to my Scribbles page and introduce you all to him and his amazing writing.  I was lucky to have him for an extended interview so I hope you enjoy.  Don't forget to like, share and leave a comment below.  There was a lot to cover in a short time so let’s boogie on down the road.

JP has his first book premiering next month (July 2017).  Congratulations JP and welcome.

Boogie?  Really?

My interview my silliness.

All right well thanks for the invite, I think.

To kick things off tell me about your writing, how did you get started?  

I’ve always been creative in some way. Whether it was drawing, painting, and even acting, I generally find that I have to be doing something, or have a project somewhere that allows me to unleash that creative energy.  

But, I’ve always had ‘write a book and get it published’ on my bucket list.

About three years ago, I finally said to myself – let’s do this. So I hauled out the laptop and started. It really was that simple. I just sat down and put words on the screen. Now, I didn’t say they were good words, but it was a start.

I’ve read some of your writing and I can tell everyone, they are in fact ‘good’ words.

Hey, thanks.

Of course, so you started writing three years ago, was getting the book finished what drove you?  What drives you what drives you to sit at the keyboard and put word to paper?

Once I start something I generally have to see it through. I say generally because my husband will tell you that I have so many projects all going on at once it’s impossible to believe that they all get completed.

Do they?

They don’t.

But, if something catches me…you know that feeling? It’s where your mind continually drifts back to thoughts about (in this case) the storyline, a plot problem, the way a character is dressed, and what he says…If my brain starts doing that, then I become obsessed and I will absolutely finish the project. And right now, that obsession for me is writing. I also am finding the writing process to be a ridiculous amount of fun. All of it – from writing my way through a plot problem – to creating new creatures and characters – to receiving edits and making the story even better. And let me just say, thank all the gods for editors.

Yes, editors are our friends.  

They really are, they see things we miss and would never see otherwise.

Very true, now changing gears a bit, which writers inspire you?

There’s quite a few. Stephen King, but his earlier works like Carrie, Christine, The Shining. Anne Rice – all of them, oh my goodness. Yes. I’ve also recently stumbled upon Patricia Briggs and I’ve read several of the Mercy Thompson books and quite enjoyed them. J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series, Charlaine Harris and the Sookie Stackhouse books, and many, many years ago Piers Anthony with the Xanth books and the Incarnations of Immortality. Who could forget the never ending Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan? Truly, the list is endless. I’m a voracious reader and have always been. I think my favorite horror story of all time was The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson. I don’t think I slept the rest of that year.

(Chuckles) That is an impressive list.

I have read a little bit of everything, but if the book has horns, tails, wings, or magic, chances are I’m going to love it. If I’m a little scared while reading it, that’s a good thing too.

I’m currently looking though for that kind of an author who write LGBTQA+ stories. I’ve read so many excellent books lately by authors who identify in the queer spectrum, but I haven’t yet stumbled upon that one author that I know – regardless of what book or work I pick up of theirs, I’m just absolutely going to love it. So, I keep looking…

You have any suggestions?

Hey now, who’s interviewing who? Anyway a book my boss recommended that I recently read was ‘The Swarm’ by Frank Schatzing it’s freaky and well crafted.  And if you like Zombies (I’m personally mixed about them) but ‘World War Z’ by Max Brooks is excellent.  Otherwise, you and I have a similar list of books.

(Laughter).

Okay, this isn’t a book club. So, give us some insight into your Main Character.  Who are they?  What is their life about?

Dati Amon is my leading man. He’s totally dreamy.  Oh wait…yeah okay so, he’s also a demon from hell. What can I tell you about Dati? He’s pretty old – although he doesn’t look it, that’s because of his great genetic makeup. And when I say old, I mean like three hundred and forty-six years old.

So, about my dating age?  Kidding.

Um… sure. Dati only looks like maybe late thirties, early forties.

Dati is a specific kind of demon. He belongs to the D’Alae species – meaning he has wings, and a tail, but he has ways of hiding these things when he’s out and about. I think that’s what makes my demons a tad more interesting – they look just like any other human – but then, when the guise comes off, or they reveal their true selves, it’s terrifying.

Creepy, but I like the idea. Please continue.

Dati is also enslaved – all of the D’Alae are, and his master is particularly violent and one hell of a masochist. Dati’s job is to find human children who are the result of a demon-human mating, and then ensure that they are ‘turned’.  He hates his job. 

Dati’s master keeps him on a short leash. Because of that, he’s sometimes naïve, but Dati has been around a long time, and so he’s developed a certain amount of elegance and maturity. He’s smart, careful, thoughtful, yet has the propensity for incredible brutality.

And he loves to watch humans. In fact, he really has grown quite soft and kind. He likes humans. He’s quite jealous of them, and their freedom.

When Dati meets Alyx, he is instantly attracted to him (and honestly, Alyx is a redhead, who wouldn’t be instantly turned on by that?) and for the first time ever, Dati has feelings for a human. 

Now that sounds like a set up for a romance story, right? Yeah…I know, but Dati’s story is unfortunately filled with setbacks and turmoil, and as much as he’d like to get to know Alyx, he can’t, and despite a promise Dati has made to keep Alyx out of his hellish world, the exact opposite happens.

In fact, Dati’s actions of trying to keep Alyx out of his life end up setting off a chain of events that leads to the end of the world.

This is no romance novel. This is a story about the end of times.

That sounds really heavy.  It must be one hell (sorry I had to) of a ride?

I hope so.

Wow, so what drew you to write in this genre?

I see magic in everything. There are fairies in my garden, there is a monster in my closet and the boogeyman lives in the basement – and the bastard takes great delight in scaring the shit out of me on a regular basis.  I hate him.

But really, I’m drawn to the fantastical. I thrive best in worlds where magic is possible, but also potentially deadly. I need creatures with wings and horns, beasts that will help you, cuddle with you, or maybe even eat you.

Oddly enough, I want to be enchanted and then scared at the same time. It’s funny though, I can’t watch a horror movie. I keep trying, but then I don’t sleep for days.

Do you mind if we keep going?  Normally I wrap up about now, but this is good stuff.  So, I’d like to keep going.

Sure, I don’t mind.

Great. Where do your ideas come from?

My head. The shadows are long and very deep in there. It’s a creepy place, but beautiful too. There’s something fun about flirting with the darkness, straddling that line between light and dark. I’m quite comfortable there.

I find that music, certain TV shows, movies and pictures will spur my creative juices and make me want to write about mystical beings and terrible curses. I love mythology too. I think we’ve lost a lot of wonder and magic in our lives. Everything is cold and technical and can be explained by modern medicine and science.

To that I say – Bah Humbug.  Let there be a Santa Claus, a tooth fairy, dragons and trolls. I love them all.

I agree.  By the way I love dragons, so you know.  There ya go. Anyway, now for a serious question, what was the hardest thing about writing your book?

A couple of things.

The voice of each character and ensuring I stayed true to them when they were speaking. 

Stories are rich and detailed and they shift in their perception depending on which character’s eyes you’re watching the world unfold through. And so, in Daimonion, the majority of the story is seen through the eyes of Dati.  As I said above, he’s sophisticated, in his own way, and yet, somewhat naive. But part of the story is also told from Jenae’s perspective – she’s a soulless witch, she’s young, broken and a little off. She’s also a teenager. And part of the story is told through Alyx. Alyx is a young man, confident and sexy, mischievous and yet, always optimistic and positive. While writing the book and ensuring as each chapter came to life, the person who was telling the story kept true to their character – that was hard.

I also struggled with keeping all the ties and strings laced together in such a way that the story came to life in a realistic way. I wanted to make sure that events that happened, occurred naturally. I wanted relationships to be developed and be realistic.

It’s one thing to see a person and be instantly attracted to someone. I don’t believe that people look at someone and fall instantly in love. I think love blossoms after you get to know a person. You have to be able to resonate to who someone is, what they believe in before you invest in such an expensive emotion as ‘love’. Same thing for friendship, or trust. Does that make sense?

I think it does and you’re right ‘love’ is a very expensive emotion and I don’t think people are always willing to pay that cost.  Please, though, back to the story.

This story is fantastical, but even though there are demon, beasts, and magic, I wanted it to feel like it all could be real.

Excellent.  I want to shift gears again and talk about something a little lighter. So tell me JP, which famous person (living or dead) would you like to sit down with and lunch?  Why?

Hugh Jackman, because Wolverine. Straight up – he’s my total boy crush. But I’ve also always wanted to have lunch with Whoopi Goldberg. I think we’d laugh ourselves stupid, but she’d also have amazing words of wisdom to impart as well. But regardless of who I have lunch with, if anyone orders beets of any kind, served up in any way, I’m out.

Beets?

I hate beets. Always have. Like from the time I was a baby. Beets went in, and were immediately spit back out.

Note to self, no beets, got it.

It’s silly, and I know this. I’ve tried many times as an adult to eat them. I just can’t.

My belief is that in a former past life I was a victim in a beet famine. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

(Laughs)

Okay, so no beets.  Are there any other specific challenges you’ve come across when writing?  What did you do differently the next time?

This was my first book. I learned so many things. The way we write differs greatly from communications at work, to a technical manual, a love letter or a literary work. You can’t write in the same way for all of these. They have differences, and they have rules. I’m still learning the rules. 

You can’t describe your own eyes unless you’re looking in a mirror. Period. So stop doing it, and yet, I continue to do so. 

Sigh.

I repeat words often. Editing saves me every time from that mistake.

I have a thing for Tautology – saying the same thing but in a different way. That’s hard to stop, I even speak like that.  You know the expression…”Beat a dead horse?” Yeah. I’m like that.

Commas. I hate commas.

Editors are akin to gods and should be treated as such.

What would I do differently next time? Oh boy. Try and learn from my mistakes? I’m a slow learner though.

I think we all share some similar problems.  I know I’m guilty of a lot what you mention.  One last question and it should be easy.  How would you sum up your book in five words?

The Beginning of The End

What a way to end the interview.  JP, thank you so much for being here and indulging in all my questions and some of my silliness.

It was a lot of fun.


More about JP Jackson:

J.P. Jackson works as an IT analyst in health care during the day, where if cornered he’d confess to casting spells to ensure clinicians actually use the electronic medical charting system he configures and implements.

At night however, the writing happens, where demons, witches and shape shifters congregate around the kitchen table and general chaos ensues. The insurance company refuses to accept any more claims of ‘acts of the un-god’, and his husband of almost 20 years has very firmly put his foot down on any further wraith summoning’s in the basement. And apparently imps aren’t house-trainable. Occasionally the odd ghost or member of the Fae community stops in for a glass of wine and stories are exchanged. Although the husband doesn’t know it, the two Chihuahuas are in cahoots with the spell casting.

J.P.’s other hobbies include hybridizing African Violets (thanks to grandma), extensive travelling and believe it or not, knitting.

You can find JP here and on Twitter here.  He also has a Goodreads Page here.


More about Book One of the Apocalypse Daimonion (Pre Order here): 

Dati Amon wants to be free from his satyr master and he hates his job—hunting human children who display demon balefire. Every hunt has been successful, except one. A thwarted attempt ended up as a promise to spare the child of a white witch, an indiscretion Dati hopes Master never discovers.

But Master has devilish machinations of his own. He needs human-demon hybrids, the Daimonion, to raise the Dark Lord to the earthly realm. If Master succeeds, he will be immortal and far more powerful.

The child who was spared is now a man, and for the first time in three hundred years, Dati has a reason to escape Master’s chains. To do that, Dati makes some unlikely alliances with an untrained soulless witch, a self-destructive shape shifter, and a deceitful clairvoyant. However, deals with demons rarely go as planned, and the cost is always higher than the original bargain.

Stop Being Negative and Don’t be a Jerk

This Memorial Day Weekend I wanted to talk about all the negativity and general jerkiness I see these days, both on-line and out in the world.  Over the last week I’ve been reminded just how lucky and blessed I am.  If you follow me on Twitter and on Facebook (which I hope you do) you should know that this week I got picked up by NineStar Press they are going to be publishing my book ‘The Calling’.  Getting the news made me stop and think how I got to this point.  Yes, there was a lot of work involved.  And, yes, there was a certain amount of luck.  But, I also believe one of the key reasons I got picked up was because of how I treat everyone and how I interact with the world.

I’m not perfect.  No one is.  And I sure don’t shoot sunshine and rainbows out my rear-end. But I can affect what I put out there and that influences the way others interact with me.

When I first started my writing journey I got a lot of really hard negative feedback.  People were tough on me.  I could have fallen down the well of negativity and self-pity it was so bad.  After a few days of sulking and licking my wounds, I went back to writing and wrote and re-wrote.  Instead of being a jerk I continued to thank folks for all their feedback and I continued to be grateful.  It wasn’t easy, because some people were mean, and like many writers my ego is fragile (Lord help me when I start getting reviews).  At the time I only had a Facebook page and instead of complaining on Facebook, I continued to post things about how grateful I am and how proud I am of others (oh, and dragons.  I love dragons).  Sure, every so often I posted something that I found appalling.  Doing so was never to jump on the bandwagon of being nasty or with the intention of hurting anyone.  It was always with the goal in mind of making people stop and think. It was always comments like this:

  • Be kind to one another.
  • Think before you speak. 
  • Don’t be nasty.
  • Don’t be cruel.
  • Don’t promote hate.
  • If you want to make change work for that change, don’t complain or moan-and-grown.
  • Support each other.

During a time when everyone was fighting and arguing; crying and complaining; blaming and fear mongering, I continued on…

Oh, man this is starting to sound preachy and give the illusion of me being so perfect.  Ugh.  I’m not.  I’m so far from perfect.  I whine and I complain, I have good days and I have shitty days, I can be cruel and I can be mean, I’ve been known to make people cry.  I will continue to be everything I try to say we shouldn’t be, not because it’s my goal, but because I’m human.

What I want to get across, today, is the need for us, all of us, to do better.  To be kinder, to not allow all the garbage happening outside our ring of control to take over our lives.  When we only promote negativity that is all that surrounds us.  How can we do great things if we’re stuck in the bubble of being a jerk? Or being nasty to each other.  We’ve had men and women die and suffer to provide us with the opportunities to do whatever we want.  To give us a chance to make the world a better place.  We can’t sit here and use that gift to promote mistreatment of each other.  We are one human species and we need to celebrate that.

There are people, not really people, but monsters, out in the world ready and willing to kill each and every one of us (Liberal or Conservative; Straight or Gay; Man or Woman; Young or Old).  Why? Because we have all these wonderful gifts and opportunities and they’re jealous.  Don’t help these creatures of evil.  Don’t add to their power.  Don’t be negative and don’t be a jerk.  Turn your back on all the garbage and go out there and make the world you want to live in.  Support each other, be kind, help one another, and if you don’t agree with someone then prove them wrong by words and deeds not by arguing and fighting.

Good things happen.  Dreams come true, when you push away all the crap and all the hate wonderful things happen, strangers give you opportunities. Friends break down into tears when you share your good luck.  You end up inspiring others.

I challenge everyone who reads this to do something positive, whatever that is.  Leave the pity party and get off the negative bandwagon.  Go out and do good.  It can be small like a friendly message of support on Facebook to big like volunteering in a homeless shelter or soup kitchen.  Just be kind and promote goodness. That is what we all need and I promise you goodness will find you.

Happy Memorial Day, don’t let their sacrifice be in vain.

As always I love to get comments so please feel free to leave your thoughts below.  If this Blog Post spoke to you, feel free to share it.  See you next time