Friday, February 28, 2014

Two Awesome Interviews from Two Awesome Authors

I've had the very good fortune to have two interviews this week. The first with the always entertaining Elgon Williams and the second with the enigmatic Jeffery Skinner. Please check out their websites; aside from reading killer interviews with me, you'll learn more about them, their writing and how you can support them as authors.


Jeffery Skinner's Bionnavate

Elgon William's The Wildcat Chronicles

For a sneak peek at the interviews, check out these excerpts below....



Q: Imagine for a moment that you’re a famous, bestselling author. They’re making a movie out of your last book. What do you do next to top that you’re already achieved?
A: I would LOVE to have a television show made out of a novel of mine. I write cinematically already, so I don’t think this would be too far-fetched one day. But I think that television dramas are the new movies. The writing on shows such as Justified, Sherlock and True Detective is amazing! I think that this would be even more exciting than a film.
Q: Creativity comes in many ways – for example, painting, photography, sculpture, music and theater. What other things do you do or have you done that are examples of using your imagination or other artistic talents?
A: Before writing took up all of my time I used to paint. I loved painting because there was no pressure- it was just fun; I never had any ambitions about becoming a professional visual artist. I still miss it and hope that at some point I will have enough free time to get back to it.
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A Tree Born Crooked is set to be released by Pandamoon. Tell me about your book? This is the obvious question to get things moving.
It’s the story of a man coming back home to the place he’s been running from all is his life. It’s very Southern, literary, but with a raw twist and a thrilling plotline. I’m crossing a lot of genre boundaries with this one, but at the end of the day, it’s a story about family, about identity, isolation and anger.
When you’re not writing, how do you fill a typical day?
I only write on weekends, so my typical weekday is focused on my ‘day job.’ I teach writing at a performing arts high school. When I’m not teaching, I’m usually hanging out with awesome husband and messing around with the dogs.
Any more books coming? This is the opportunity to plug it.

I’m currently on the second draft of my third novel, but I never talk about works in progress until they’re completely finished. Let’s just say that it’s in the same genre as A Tree Born Crooked, but with the dial turned all the way up. I really pushed the limits with this new novel and I hope that readers love it as much as I do.
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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Obsession and Writing

I think every writer has to an obsessive personality. This can manifest in many different ways I'm sure, but for a person to be able to read a page, then read it again, then read another draft of the page, then read it again, then go through hundreds and hundreds of pages looking for nuances of inconsistency and rouge typos, well, that takes a little hint of obsession.

I think it's pretty clear that I'm obsessive when it comes to my writing, but just for fun I'd like to share a few other things I'm currently obsessed with. See, writing isn't everything... well, not All of the time...


























Monday, February 24, 2014

An Interview By Regina West (of me!)

Please check out Regina West's website at www.reginawest.com for more information on her, her writing and for other great author interviews!



Crooked Trees and Crazy Families – An Interview with Steph Post



Hello, everyone.  We Pandamoon Publishing authors are embarking on a fun project wherein we get to interview one another.  This week, I managed to lure the gorgeous and talented Steph Post over to my blog so that we could get to know her a little better.  Her novel  A Tree Born Crooked (see the synopsis below) is due out November, 2014.


Steph lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, with her husband and six(!) dogs.  She got her Bachelor’s degree in English from Davidson College and her Master’s degree in Graduate Liberal Studies from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.  She’s also a high school teacher at a performing arts school in Tampa.


And if that weren’t enough to impress everyone, she also received the Patricia Cornwell creative writing scholarship, won the Vereen Bell award for short fiction, and was a semi-finalist for the Big Moose prize for fiction.


I know I was impressed but enough from me.  Here’s what Steph had to say.
steph post author photo 21. Tell us about your novel, A Tree Born Crooked? 
It’s the story of a man reluctantly coming home to attend his father’s funeral only to discover that it’s already been held without him and that the dysfunctional family he’s tried to so hard to run away actually has more of a hold on his heart that he ever imagined. It’s also about a robbery gone wrong, low-level criminal idiots, love, loss, drugs, road trips, anger and oranges. Yes, oranges. It’s classic Florida writing with a spoonful of Steinbeck and a dash of Elmore Leonard.


2.  Is it a thriller? What made you choose the genre?  Do you want to write in other genres as well?
A Tree Born Crooked is what I consider a literary thriller in the Country Noir genre. In other words, it’s a high-action plot written in the “literary” genre with dark, Southern overtones. I think the Country Noir style definitely suits me, but not all of my writing is always in the exact same genre. The novel I’m currently working on is more thriller, less literary. Poetry was my first love and I’ve written and published short stories as well.


3. Was there a specific moment when you felt pulled toward writing or have you always written?
I think I’ve always been a daydreamer and a story teller. When I was in middle school I quite suddenly realized that I could take all of the stories floating around in my head and put them into words. When I was in high school I realized that there was the possibility of people wanting to read the stories I was putting into words. It all took off from there.


4.  You grew up in wild, backwoods Florida.  How has that influenced your writing?  How has that influenced you as a person?
I spent a lot of time daydreaming when I was kid. Because of where we lived I was able to roam through the woods and spend long hours on the dock overlooking the creek that we lived on. I spent a lot of time alone, which meant that I had a lot of time to create characters and their stories in my mind. Much of the landscape that I grew up around features prominently in my novels.


5. As a teacher AND a writer, how do you find time to prepare lesson plans, grade papers, and still write? How do you balance it all?
Fortunately I moved this year from being a classroom teacher to the writing coach for my school. This means that I have slightly more free time at home, but also that I am immersed in the world of writing ALL of the time. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but I’m pretty happy with the arrangement. I have learned, though, that I can only write on weekends and holidays.  When I get home from school there’s no way for me to focus on my own writing. But any day that I’m not at work is a day to crank out the pages.


6. If someone handed you all the money you could ever need and you would never have to work for money again, how would you spend your time?
I’d probably be doing exactly what I’m doing right now! Except I’d be living in a much bigger house on a much bigger piece of property. And I’d probably have ten dogs instead of five. And a swimming pool. :)


To connect with Steph, you can find her:
On Twitter: @StephPostAuthor
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Steph-Post/153516208138065
And on her blog: http://stephpostauthor.blogspot.com/


If you aren’t already totally stoked to read Steph’s novel, you will be after you read this synopsis:
Thirty-six year old James Hart has a tough-as-nails exterior and an aching emptiness inside. The only one in his family to leave his stagnant birthplace in Crystal Springs behind, James is filled with a burning spark of restlessness and anger that keeps him roaming from one trailer park and temporary job to another. Out of the blue, James gets an unsigned postcard from his mother, Birdie Mae, informing him of his father’s death.
Left with no choice, James finally heads home to Florida and to a collapsed rural town running on the fumes of the occasional interstate tourists speeding through. It is a place where dreams are born to die. Here, James discovers that he is too late for his father’s funeral, but just in time to learn of his younger brother, Rabbit’s, new scam of stealing copper wire, trading it for Oxycodone pills, and then selling the drugs to the girls at the local strip club.
The lone bright spot during James’ return home is meeting the beautiful Marlena, who works in her father’s bar called The Blue Diamond. At this local watering hole, James learns of Rabbit’s newest easy money scheme, but is unable to convince Rabbit to curtail his plan which is doomed to fail. James is helpless as he watches Rabbit, high on Oxycodone, become part of a robbery-turned-murder. As if that isn’t bad enough, it appears Rabbit is now being double-crossed by his partners in crime, one of whom may very well be Marlena’s father, Waylon, who disappears. Throw in the Alligator Mafia, the local group of redneck gangsters, and Rabbit is soon on the run of his life with Marlena who wants find her father, and James, who wants to protect them both.
Together, the three embark on a cross-country journey hoping to find enough time to come up with a solution to their escalating tragedy. With the Alligator Mafia hot on their tracks, time and a lucky break are both in short supply.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Five and Five with Chrissy Lessey

Recently, I had the good fortune to interview Chrissy Lessey- an exceptional writer (and all-around awesome human being) whose debut novel Crystal Coast: The Coven will be on the scene April 30th. Check out her five and five below and then keep reading for more information on Chrissy, her upcoming novel and how to get in touch!


Five Questions:

1.  Crystal Coast: The Coven is set off the coast of North Carolina where you currently live. How important is setting and location to your writing?

To me, setting is a character and it’s a critical element in any story. I am fortunate to live in an area with colorful history as well as unique geography. From Blackbeard’s exploits centuries ago to the nearby uninhabited islands, it’s easy to imagine fantastic tales employing this extraordinary locale. I don’t think The Coven could be set anywhere else.

2.  You are a strong advocate for Autism Awareness- is this issue addressed in your work?

Absolutely. I am grateful for the opportunity to use fiction as a platform to increase awareness. While writing The Coven, I was able to explore scenes from Charlie’s point-of-view and give the reader a rare glimpse into the perspective of a child with autism. The reader also gets to experience Stevie’s devotion for improving his quality of life as well as her unique pain as she struggles with his diagnosis. Autism is not rare, but it is still widely misunderstood. I hope my work helps to clear up misconceptions and increase support for individuals with autism and their families.

3.  What actors would you cast in a movie adaptation of your book?

I could see Natalie Portman as Stevie and Evangeline Lilly as Vanessa. As for the men in Stevie’s life, I like Chris Hemsworth as Sam and Orlando Bloom as Dylan.

4.  How do you find the time to write? Do you have a set schedule?

I really have to make the time to write. We have a busy family life and I have to schedule my work time around various other obligations. But once I set the schedule for the week, I defend it fiercely. It helps that my family understands that I will be super cranky if I don’t have time to write, so they’ve grown more supportive over time.

5.  What do you want people to take away from reading The Coven?

There are a few themes running through the story, but I think the most important one is embracing differences. In this novel, there are witches, non-witches, young people, old people, and a child with autism. Among them, there is great love and respect in spite of the differences.

Five Favorites...
1.  Novel: I have a lot of favorites. The one that springs to mind today is To Kill A Mockingbird.

2.  Television series: I’m hooked on Doctor Who! My sister recently gave me a “My Other Car Is a Tardis” license plate frame. I had it installed on my car immediately.

3.  Place to write: I am most prolific on a balcony overlooking the ocean. There’s just something about that salt air…

4.  Board Game: Scrabble. I love word games.

5.  Superhero: Wonder Woman. It would be great to see a new movie or TV series featuring her. It’s long overdue.

 


Don't forget to show her some social media love!!


Interested in Crystal Coast: The Coven? Keep reading....

"Photographer Stevie Lewis knows nothing of the magic that is prevalent in her small town. As a newly single mom, she is focused on raising her five year-old autistic son, Charlie, and running a business she shares with her best friend, Lexi. Stevie has no knowledge of her family’s 300-year-old magical legacy or the long-held secrets that haunt her hometown until Vanessa, a dark witch, returns to retrieve a powerful amulet reputed to be in Blackbeard’s recently recovered treasure.

While in town, Vanessa also plans to exact revenge on the coven responsible for rendering her mother powerless and locking her away in a mental institution. Determined to shake the coven to its core, Vanessa targets young Charlie as her first victim. When Charlie’s life is threatened, it unlocks Stevie’s dormant power and she discovers that she is a genetic witch capable of reducing the laws of physics to mere suggestions.

With help from the clandestine coven led by her own mother and a few eccentric octogenarians, Stevie works to master her newly acquired magical talent. Complicating matters further, her high school crush returns to town and she finds herself torn between beginning a new relationship with him and reuniting with her ex-husband.

Time is running short for Stevie and Charlie. Will she have enough skill to take on Vanessa and save her son and her newly found coven? Or will the dark witch Vanessa finally crush the hated coven and rise to power?"
 
Want to know even more about Chrissy? (You know you do...)
Chrissy Lessey is an autism advocate, a coffee junkie, and an avid reader. Her writing career began nearly fifteen years ago when she penned a weekly humorous advice column for a local newspaper. Since then, she has discovered the joyous torture that is fiction writing. Her debut novel, The Coven, marks the beginning of the Crystal Coast series. She is currently working on the next installment in the series as well as other projects.
As a leader in her local autism community, Chrissy has volunteered her time organizing run/walks as well as other fundraisers and awareness events. She helped create a summer camp for children on the spectrum and has contributed in the development of social and support programs for individuals with autism and their families.
Chrissy lives on the coast of North Carolina and has mastered the art of justifying time spent on the beach. Whenever she can steal a few minutes away from her responsibilities, she can be found enjoying a good book while listening to the waves crash on the shore.
A long-time fan of rock music, Chrissy married a talented drummer. She still enjoys hearing him play drums, as long as it’s not in the house. Together, they have two energetic children and an ill-mannered dog.

 
 
 
 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Stress Relief and Writing

I have honestly never thought of writing as being therapeutic. I know that flies in the face of what most people believe about writing, but, well, I'm used to being  unconventional- even when it comes to writing.

I mean, sure, I've written vicious journal entries that probably saved jobs and relationships and my sanity, but I've certainly never thought of writing as relaxing. I barely even think of writing as fun. Going to the beach is fun. Binge watching 12 hours of Sherlock or Justified is fun. Watching my dogs act ridiculous is fun. But writing? Writing is like breathing for me. No one really thinks of breathing as fun... It's something you have to do to stay alive. This is how I feel about writing.

But lately I've noticed something about myself. Perhaps it's because I'm out-of-my-mind stressed at work right now, or maybe it's something else entirely, but the only thing that's been able to lift me up and calm me down after a hellish week is spending 10 hours a weekend working on my latest book. 

Maybe it's still like breathing, except now I'm swimming up from the depths for air....

At any rate, I still don't think I'll ever think of writing as relaxing, but I do have a new  found appreciation for it being the force that keeps me from going over the edge.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Bright Side and Writing

I've been overwhelmed lately. New book, old book, FCAT season, editing and then the usual stress of my crazy household, job and well, being me.

I tend to let things build upon one another. Even when I have absolutely everything under control, and everything is working out, I can feel like the world is closing in around me, my thoughts going in all directions, a whirlwind sweeping me up high above the earth.

But I've decided to fight it all with good energy instead of bad. I've decided to trust my work ethic and my direction and desire, and let myself slip just a little bit when it comes to fate. If I can trust myself, well then, I can trust the universe too, I suppose.

One of my favorite quotes, one that I've carried around with me for the last ten years or more is as follows: "Keep kicking against the darkness until it bleeds daylight." My way of looking on the bright side has always been to fight my way there and then hold my ground for as long as I can.

I'm still going to keep fighting. I'll always keep fighting. But I'm changing my battle plan just a little bit this time. I'm going to try to go to war with a smile.