authors, interviews, poems, poetry, Uncategorized

In the Words of an Author: An Interview With Jennifer Juan

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Jennifer Juan is a cultural melting pot of an artist. She is a writer, a musician, a producer, a film maker and a podcast host, currently residing in the Kent countryside, but dreaming of the ocean. A tornado of darkness and delicacy, Juan creates engaging and powerful projects, using a variety of mediums and platforms, each dripping with her signature playful, yet powerful style of writing.

Have there been any authors who have influenced your work? If so, who?

I’ve always been very inspired by Carol Ann Duffy. I’ve been reading her work since I was a little girl, and she has always been somebody I admired and was inspired by.

Out of all the characters you’ve written, who is your favorite? Why?

Probably Marina, who is featured in my upcoming media project “Drowning In Us”. The project uses music, film, and poetry to tell Marina’s story, as she tries to create a new life for herself, after screwing everything up. I think a lot of people have moments in their life where they wish they could just run away and start again, and Marina actually does it. It was a lot of fun to throw her into the worst time of her life, and then write her out of trouble.

Are there any types of scenes you find more difficult to write? Which ones and why.

I mainly write poetry, and a lot of what I create is based on my own life, so it can be difficult to relive some of the more tempestuous and troubling experiences, but it does feel freeing to create something from those moments.

What would you say the most rewarding part of being an author is?

I think for me, being able to reach out to other people, and share my experiences, and to be able to create something from the life I’ve lived is the most rewarding thing.

What advice do you have for authors just starting out in their journey?

I think the best thing someone can do is learn to appreciate their own voice as a writer, and their own style. It can be tempting to copy what you see, and what is popular, but sooner or later, it becomes obvious that it isn’t authentic. Being yourself and discovering your own way of doing things is one of the most challenging but rewarding things any creator will do, but it will always be worth it.

The other thing I would advise is to build a base for yourself, like a website you regularly update, or a social media page that contains your information and content. Make it easy for people to find you, and your work, and see what you’re all about. It’s such a shame to see some writers creating amazing things, but barely sharing them, or making them accessible to an audience. If you don’t have the resources to create your own online spaces, there will be other creatives who can help. I recently launched a poetry contest on my own website for this reason, as part of the prize package is the winning and commended entries being read on my podcast, “Sincerely, Jennifer x” and hosted on my website, with biographies and further information about the writer. There are lots of other creatives who are doing similar things, and sharing their own platforms, so there is a lot of help out there for young writers who want to get more exposure for their work, or find a base for potential fans to find out more about them.

Do you have a writing ritual? If so, please explain.

I like to dress up sometimes, when I write. I take bubble baths before, a lot, and just stay in the water for a little while, thinking about what I’ll write about, and then I get dressed, and make sure I feel good, before I get started. I like to listen to records while I’m writing. I have a lot of instrumental, ambient stuff, but I also like older things, like The Beach Boys or Bobby Vee, it depends on the kind of day I’m having.

I normally start with a stream of consciousness, so I can get down everything I’m thinking, and then I pick out the things I’m most struck by, the things I’m really in love with, and begin crafting them into something bigger.

Was being an author something you always wanted to do?

In a sense, yes. I was very interested in creating things in general, and dabbled in music and acting, but along the way, I ended up focusing mostly on writing.

If you could have a conversation with any one person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

Joan Crawford. I think she was a fascinating and talented woman, and I’d love to get some more insight into her life and who she was. I wrote a poem about how fascinated I was with her life, and how I see parts of her in myself sometimes, in my recent poetry collection “Kissing Boys, Just For The Thrill” so, it would also be interesting to ask her what she thought about that.

Would you care to provide an excerpt from one of your books as a sample of your work?  

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This is a poem called “You’re A Crushing Bore (But I’ve Got A Crush On You)”, taken from my latest book “Kissing Boys, Just For The Thrill”.

 

You spent two hours,
telling me you’d never break my heart.
You spent two hours,
breaking my heart,
just from wrapping it,
so tightly,
that it suffocated.

I fantasised,
about your nights,
as a werewolf.
My fingers lost in your fur,
as you left me marked,
by bites you’d apologise for,
when the moon was put to bed,
and you awoke,
worried what I thought of you.

When the sun is in our eyes,
you’re a crushing bore,
but I’ve got a crush on you.
My hands speak a language that I know you understand,
but most days,
you pretend your whole body is deaf.
I play on the tracks,
hoping for a highspeed service,
to take me somewhere sublime,
but you’re still waiting at the station,
ignoring green light,
after green light.

You swing,
and you miss,
by not playing at all.
I stole your mind,
from your back pocket,
in some bar,
where you were so interesting,
insane,
a tornado.

Your destruction,
delicious,
lasted minutes,
before you shrank to the ground,
found naked in a field,
and I am marked,
missing the man you are,
when the moon comes out to make you a monster.


Make sure to check out Jennifer's work at http://jenniferjuan.com

 

 

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authors, books, children's literature, kids books

New Release! Find Your Happy, A Self Love Kids Book by Patricia May

Endorsed by New York Best selling author Anita Moorjani, this book, Find Your Happy, A Self Love Kids Book, offers tools needed to create a more pleasant daily experience. Full of fun and easy affirmations, self esteem practices, fun projects and techniques kids and adults really love. Great for teachers, parents, and coaches. Perfect for kids 4-12
http://www.booksthatinspireakidsimagination.com

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Within the pages of this book, you will find fun and simple daily exercises and practices to help create your physical, emotional and spiritual balance. When these three things work together in harmony, you feel more spiritually connected, physiclly stronger and emotionally happier. Practice these daily to help provide the tools you need to be the happiest you, you can be!

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authors, books, poems, poetry

Spotlight & Review: The Long Body That Connects Us All by Rich Marcello

Synopsis

Provocative and profound, Rich Marcello’s poems are compact but expansive, filled with music as seductive as their ideas, and focused mostly on how to be a good man. This is a collection of deep passion and wisdom for fathers, husbands, and sons, but also for mothers, wives, and daughters, many who began with a longing for the things they were taught to desire by their forefathers, only to later discover a different path, one lit by loss and welcoming of the vulnerable, one made of the long body that connects us all.

Buy Links

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-long-body-that-connects-us-all-rich-marcello/1127357860?ean=9781545611944

Porchwork
You come home from work
with metal pieces in need of straightening,
the result of an earlier errant production run.
For ten dollars, I spend my Saturday
on the front porch running thousands
of bent rods, of scrapworks,
through a straightening machine

On occasion, I gaze outward
into the woods, aware
that my increasing sense
of accomplishment
mirrors the rise of the sun.
Finally, when it’s dusk,
you come to the porch
to see me, your nine-year-old son,
to offer payment, but it’s the warmth
on your face that stirs me the most
I know you’re proud of me
for sticking with the cogs
and crooked metal.
I know you love me.
I know I’ve somehow taken
a step toward you

Today, building a Lego set on the floor
with my son, I realize I’ve been trying
to duplicate that moment on the porch
over thirty years now, my entire work life

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MY REVIEW

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Long Body That Connects Us All is a wonderful collection of poetry. Each poem is exceptionally well crafted, original, and personal- everything a great collection should entail. So, why only 4 stars? 

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, poetry is personal. It’s meant to be. That being said, not all poetry will touch everyone the same. The majority of the poems in this collection didn’t speak to me the way I’m sure it will speak to others, but I appreciate a well-written poem. I appreciate a poet who knows what they’re doing and isn’t afraid to put themselves and their experiences on the line. 

The poetry within this collection is full of vivid imagery. The Walking, In the rough patch, Stillness, and Blue Gears were some of the poems that stood out to me, but my favorite, without question, was Daughters and Sons.

I struggled with the rating. If my rating was based solely on the quality of the work, it would be an easy 5 stars. The placement of the poetry, the three different parts and the flow within each was incredible. However, a review isn’t just about the skill an author has; it’s also a reader’s opinion.

I would recommend this collection to poetry fans, for sure. Even if they don’t feel a connection to the poems, they will be better for having read The Long Body That Connects Us All.

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An Interview With the Poet

Rich Marcello is an author who creates both fiction and poetry. He’s been with us before to discuss his works of fiction ( https://sandraely770.wordpress.com/2016/12/21/445/ ). Now, he’s back discussing poetry.

You’ve been with us before to discuss your works of fiction. How would you say writing fiction differs from writing poetry?

I think they complement each other.  With a novel, I start with the story and go down to the chapters, the scenes, and the individual sentences.  When I reach the sentence level, I often think about certain sentences in a poetic sense, trying to make them as vivid and lyrical as possible. In a similar way, when I write a poem, I often start with a fragment or a phrase or even a single word, but when I’m done I make sure I’ve told a story.

Is the publishing process different? How so?

It was very much the same since the publisher of my novels, Langdon Street Press, also published this collection.  Clearly, the editors assigned were different, but otherwise it was a similar process.

Do you have a different writing process for poetry than you do for fiction?

Yes.  I tend to write poems when they come to me, and then hone them over time.  I also tend to work on them for shorter periods of time, maybe an hour at time, until they’re complete. Typically, I get an idea for a poem or a single image, and then I develop it from there.  If I started with the idea, I spend my time making the poem more physical and concrete.  If I start with an image, I spend my time working on the poem’s thematic payoff.

It takes quite a few poems to make a complete collection. How do you decide which poems to include, which to scrap?

I wrote over two hundred poems over two years for this collection and then honed it down to the 60 poems I liked best. I didn’t really use a process to decide on what poems to use. It was mostly what felt right given the theme of the book.

What is your favorite poem from this collection?

I love many of the poems, but if I had to name three,  I would say, “Passing,” “The Blue Line,” and “Belong to No One

What’s your favorite thing about poetry in general?

The ability the express a great deal of emotion on a single page.

What would you say to a fiction reader in order to get them to try to read poetry- more specifically your poetry?

My novels deal with life’s big questions: love, loss, creativity, community, aging, self-discovery. My goal is to fill my novels with rich characters and ideas, to continually improve my craft as a storyteller, and to tell my stories with the eye and the ear of a poet. For me, writing and art-making are about connection and making a difference to a least one other person in the world. So, if a reader liked the style and theme of one of my novels, I think she would find the same elements in my poetry, only more emotional and focused.

How long have you been writing poetry?

I’ve been writing poetry all my life. I also have written over sixty songs and my publisher, Langdon Street Press, has published three of my novels: The Color of HomeThe Big Wide Calm, and The Beauty of the Fall. I am currently working on my fourth novel, The Latecomers.

What would you like readers to take away from this collection?

I wanted to publish a collection about what it means to be a good man in the modern world. There are many great poets out there, but few these days are writing on this topic. With all the divisiveness in the world these days, much propagated by violent men, I wanted to show some of my own experiences about being open and vulnerable with the hope that some of my specific experiences would generalize.

If you could go back in time, what one piece of advice would you give your younger self?

Take bigger artistic risks in your twenties and really go for it.

If you’d like to find out more about Rich Marcello visit his website: http://www.richmarcello.com

authors, books, interviews, young adult fiction

In the Words of An Author: An Interview With A J King

AJ

A J King, young adult author.
http://www.thepowervestedinme.com

Have there been any authors who have influenced your work? If so, who?

Stephen King and David Baldacci

Out of all the characters you’ve written, who is your favorite? Why?

It varies from book to book. In The Power Vested in Me trilogy the main characters are the five teenagers collectively known as the Stardust. I can’t pick a favourite from these because as my own kids tell me you can’t have a favourite with your kids. In fact, when I write I feel guilty if I have given one more page time than the others.

Are there any types of scenes you find more difficult to write? Which ones and why.

In the last book saying goodbye to some of the characters was hard and I found writing these scenes emotionally difficult, probably because I had grown attached to them- however killing some of them off was scarily easy.

What would you say the most rewarding part of being an author is?

Without doubt it is when people give you positive feedback on the books, and speak to you sometimes quite passionately about scenes and characters they have enjoyed and loved. So much work goes into writing the books that knowing they are appreciated lightens your heart and your step.

Do you have a writing ritual? If so, please explain.

On a disciplined day- I wake up mega early in the morning, convince myself I’m not going to go back to sleep, get up, put on my Rocky Balboa dressing gown, drink lots of coffee, listen to music on youtube and write. On an undisciplined day, I do all of the above minus the writing.

Was being an author something you always wanted to do?

Always, from an early age at school my absolute favourite thing was when the teacher would tell the class ‘you need to write a story about….’ I just love stories- hearing them, reading them and of course writing them.

If you could have a conversation with any one person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

It would definitely be Billie Jean King- she has been my idol since as far back as I can remember, my first book is dedicated to her and I have a tattoo of her on my left shoulder. To meet her and speak to her would be an absolute dream come true for me- although I would possibly just open and close my mouth like a goldfish and find no words come out.

Would you care to provide an excerpt from one of your books as a sample of your work?

Then, as random as a dream, through the dimmed light, a figure appeared in the centre of the room. It was a man. His shirt, tie, trousers, shoes and ankle-length overcoat were all black. His body was almost camouflaged in the darkness, but his spiky white hair and vivid blue eyes made his expressionless face stand out like a beacon in the night. For a moment he stood there, moving only his head, glancing around the room at the sleeping babies. Then he placed the palms of his hands together in front of his chest, with his fingers pointing to the ceiling. He closed his eyes and took a deep, concentrated breath through his nose. As he exhaled, he stretched his arms out to either side of his body. On the palms of each hand were stars. They glowed blue at first, and then white – as white as the stranger’s hair. Suddenly beams of light erupted from these stars, and fell like rays of summer sunshine upon some of the sleeping babies. The babies stirred slightly as the beams of light hit them, but they didn’t cry. In fact, none of them made a sound. They just slept peacefully while the light fell upon them, like fairy dust sprinkled by Tinkerbell herself. The man remained there for no more than half a minute with his palms pointed outwards, keeping the light directed at the babies. His eyes remained closed, but his aim did not falter. Eventually the rays faded. It was as if they have been sucked back into the stars on the palms of his hands. The man opened his eyes, put his arms to his side and then, as silently and as suddenly as he had arrived, he disappeared, his visit gone completely unnoticed. His work was done. The gift was given. The die was cast.

authors, books, fiction, young adult fiction

New Release Spotlight: The Excelsior Witch Chronicles

What if everything you heard about magic was wrong? Hollywood has twisted the story of Tituba in the Salem Witch Trials to be an evil presence. It’s thought that she brought evil voodoo to the world, but that’s wrong. Bali, an unsure 18-year-old, African-American girl is a recent high school graduate, and is about to find out how her connection of lineage to Tituba gives her great powers of good magic. Bali, along with her two new friends, Leilani and James, set out to figure out how to navigate these new magical gifts they’ve been given. During their time together, they must also learn how to navigate their own insecurities and personal problems, while saving New York City from an evil witch named Adelram. This story weaves the true tale of magic, and how #blackgirlmagic is that of goodness and love. Come step inside a fantastic story with Bali, James and Leilani and learn how powerful diversity can be.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0692063374

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Leilani and Bali both had tears streaming down their faces. The three friends embraced in a tight hug, as words could not express the joy and love that was in that room at the very moment.
Their embrace was interrupted by a loud rumbling. The great hall began to massively quake. The walls seemed to crumble and the chandelier that adorned the middle of the room was swaying back and forth. Bali dropped to her knees with her head down. It was as if her body had fallen lifeless unable to move. James and Leilani desperately tried to pick her body up, but it was as if it weighed a million pounds. Suddenly, Bali’s body began to slowly rise from the floor. It was as light as air and she began to float. Her arms, legs and head dangled while her body started rising higher and higher.
Her head flipped up, her eyes opened and she screamed and other-worldly scream, so loud, her friends fell to their knees and held their ears in agony.

Bali slowly and quietly said, “…help…me…”

About the Author!

Lyn Michael Kalani McClenathan was born in Georgia to Linda and Jim. He is of Hawaiian/Irish/Italian/Japanese descent and currently resides in New York City. He lives with his husband Nicholas and his two dogs, Ellie (an English Bulldog) and Pip (a chihuahua). He studies Liberal Studies at Arizona State University and after graduation with his BA, he began his graduate studies at Western New Mexico University in Social Work.
As a cardio workout he loves to put on loud music in his small, Hamilton Heights apartment in Manhattan and dance around the house. Currently, on repeat, is The Great Showman soundtrack. His favorite books are ones that have been/are being made into movies. The Help has been his favorite book, in this genre. He and his husband are also avid Disney fans!
You can follow him on social media!
Twitter: @lynmkm
Instagram: @lynmkm

authors, books, fiction, vampire romannce, vampires

FanGirl Friday: The Twilight Saga

Stephanie Meyer hit a homerun with the Twilight Saga, there’s no doubt about that. Some people love it; some people hate it. I, of course, belong to the former group.

Bella Swan is awkward, but she finds a home in Forks, Washington. She’s finally found a place she fits in within the secret supernatural community. She blossoms right along with her budding relationship with Edward Cullen. But when he leaves, all the progress she’s made disappears with him. Jacob Black helps give her what she needs to return to life. Two factions were created with this love triangle: Team Edward and Team Jacob.

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I’m a proud Team Edward supporter. Sure, if he was human, he’d be a narcissistic, psychotic stalker, but he’s not human. Being a vampire really worked for him. Those traits that would raise red-flags in an ordinary relationship made the love story more endearing as he fought against his very nature to be with the girl he loved. Like all passionate star-crossed love stories, Edward and Bela are equally obsessed with one another.

Jacob, on the other hand, is perfect for Bella in every way. He’s down-to-Earth, adorable, and totally devoted to Bella. He’s the safe option. The path her life would have taken if not for the presence of the Cullens. Stephanie Meyer did an exceptional job allowing readers to understand that Jacob should have been Bella’s destiny. I felt the promise between them. I felt the loss that destiny doesn’t always go according to plan. Sometimes there are forces stronger than fate at play. I’m not ashamed to say I bawled like a baby for Jacob’s broken heart, but not once was I attempted to jump the ship called Edward.

While Ms. Meyer did an excellent job with her portrayal of skin-walkers, her vampires never felt truly vampiric. While the classification I feel was poorly used, the creativity of her special brand of vampires definitely made up for it.

I’ve read these books several times and still get all the feels. I’m sure I’ll read them several more.

authors, books, contemporary fiction, contemporary romance, dark romance

FanGirl Friday: H.Q. Frost

This week’s Fangirl Friday goes to none other that H.Q. Frost. I was introduced to this author and her work during my first-ever release party. Her debut novel, Destructive Gods was totally unconventional and I loved every minute of it. I devoured the Luxe series as quickly as she could write them. There were so many twists and turns that I never saw coming… And that is a staple of her work. I’m still reeling over Little Love, a spinoff from her Immure Diaries series and I read that over a month ago.

Her characters more than come off the page. They truly come alive. Even in their greatest beauty they are inherently flawed. They are more real than the faces a lot of us put out for the public to see, and thus, they become like friends.

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She’s not your average romance writer. There’s no boy meets girl, they fall in love, happily ever after. No, these characters she creates have to work for their happily-ever-after. There’s darkness in her light, and light in her darkness. There is no formula to the stories she pens. She pushes the envelope on what her characters and her readers can endure. Anytime you pick up a Frost book, you can expect the unexpected.

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She doesn’t just write solo books, either. Together with her co-author M. Piper, both authors showcase such amazing talent. If one didn’t know the books were written by two different people, you would never guess. Their books are that seamless and that takes an ungodly amount of talent.

I will forever fangirl over this author and her work.