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, 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, interviews

In the Words of an Author: An Interview With Christopher Griffith

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About the Author and His Work (In His Own Words)

My name is Christopher Griffith and I have been writing across different genres of fiction for a number of years now; Temples of a Fantasy Revenge and its companion piece Corin’s Chronicle are teenage moving to Young Adult fantasy –

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Temples-Fantasy-Revenge-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B007RMHSBS/ref=la_B0034PX2CG_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517766167&sr=1-1

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Corins-Chronicle-Revenge-Chronicles-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B0716MRRN2/ref=la_B0034PX2CG_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517766167&sr=1-6

Rick with a (Bipolar) View is an autobiographical novel about the time in my life when I was first diagnosed with mental illness:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rick-Bipolar-View-friendships-electronic-ebook/dp/B01E9SS0FA/ref=la_B0034PX2CG_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517766167&sr=1-7

Shakespeare’s Secret Knowledge is my stab at conspiracy theory writing – I’ve always loved the Bard’s plays but like many people I’ve also been stupefied that the historical Shakespeare we learn about who signed documents with a cross was able to pen Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shakespeares-Secret-Knowledge-Literatures-Renaissance-ebook/dp/B01EVVH15A/ref=la_B0034PX2CG_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517766167&sr=1-2

My supermarket love story, Champagne Jealousy comes next:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Champagne-Jealousy-Detective-Investigates-community-ebook/dp/B01E9D11N8/ref=la_B0034PX2CG_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517766167&sr=1-5

And then there’s William Ottoway’s Utopia which is the novel I talk about for at least the first part of these interview questions:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/William-Ottoways-Utopia-Christopher-Griffith-ebook/dp/B076NZMZ2D/ref=la_B0034PX2CG_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517766167&sr=1-4

As well as fiction, I also write poetry and stage plays; I’ve got a postgraduate qualification in scriptwriting but I was never able to really settle in to that genre; the buzz word for film, television, radio and stage writing is subtext in which characters say one thing but mean another. That doesn’t suit me at all – what’s the point of saying what you don’t mean? I tend to steer clear of people like that in real life so why would I want to include the like in my creative writing? I’ve also got a soft spot for poetry, but I think that genre is even more niche; a lot of people don’t like it at all and I must say I find much modern poetry weak, soulless and flimsily constructed, but of course that’s just my opinion on the matter!!!

And on to the interview…

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

In relation to the above book, William Ottoway’s Utopia, there were four authors whose work influenced the novel – Alex Garland’s The Beach definitely guided me in my choice of background, a society cut off from the rest of civilisation that purports to be paradise but in the end turns out to be its exact antithesis; Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein influenced the literary style of the piece and to some extent the structure regarding its epistolary beginning and end; Sir Thomas More’s Utopia which of course gave me the idea for the book in the first place; and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies that encouraged me to narrate a story in which really there was no redemption at close, and one in which human nature’s own corruption was to blame for the demise in relations between the people sharing space on the island. However, on this last point I was slightly at odds with an admittedly titanic writer in that I have a more optimistic (perhaps more dreamy) view of humankind. I do understand the lure of savagery, and goodness knows our race has succumbed to it over the centuries, but I wondered if the catalyst to our becoming like beasts might in this instance owe itself to an object rather than straight debauchery of our nature, here of course the humble, versatile and rather perennial item otherwise known as the television set. In an instant, I was sold. I still very readily bore in mind my four influences, and in composing my own story I still reflected heavily upon them, but I was keen to tread my own path and so I conflated the quartet (stepping carefully not to plagiarise) to produce my own piece of writing. To broaden scope for a moment, this is actually pretty much the same process so undertaken for each of my novels – I think it is very important to use source material, but of paramount importance is not to slavishly follow its particular dictates of tone, plot and character. Other authors and works I have revered in these instances are Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy – you’ll have to read my other pieces to try to see which has influenced me in each regard! The only non-source novel I’ve written is Champagne Jealousy, and even then you could argue it’s big nod to humorous fiction like Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity and gentle crime works on the Marple-Poirot spectrum, though I stress not of their ilk! Assimilation is key – what I read, I tend to digest and then regurgitate in my own way.

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

It’s got to be William Ottoway, if only because he represents that kind of naive idealism I so miss in my own nature these days – William genuinely believes he can up and run to somewhere else in the world which will somehow provide him with 100% safe and secure haven. The unravelling of his realisation that this is just pipe dream really tugs at my heart, but it’s no use tugging at mine unless it tugs at yours also! Of all the characters I have created, William is for me the most vulnerable, and that includes Rick in Rick With A View who suffers from bipolar disorder, Emily in Champagne Jealousy whose anxiety is off the scale, Norman in Temples of a Fantasy Revenge whose inferiority complex makes both Rick and Emily seem the very paragons of stability, and Thomas in Shakespeare’s Secret Knowledge who simply hasn’t got an iota of clue what on earth is going on around him, and to him. All these characters have human defects in their personalities, but William’s whole personality is the human defect – he simply misunderstands that there are bad people out there like the Usurper, and that people like this, in a fallen world, are the very sort who will find their way to a Utopia and wreck the enterprise. Bound with this is of course the appliance, television, and the fact that it is this, an object, which hastens the protagonist’s demise. I like the idea, although it terrifies me to consider, that it’s not just up to us to cause our own, and each other’s, misfortune but that we live in a world in which inanimate tools and trade can bring us to serious harm – there’s a scene in the film Anaconda in which Jon Voight says the river Amazon can kill you in a thousand ways, well that’s the kind of world of which I think William Ottoway has no conception, but one which dawns and grows upon him as the narrative continues. Of course such a world would be depressing beyond measure, the kind of world which say a particular series of broadcasts blasting out round the clock from a particular appliance might detail and encourage us to think the norm, but rather than accept our home planet holds both good and bad for us at different times William’s hamartia is that he firmly believes the bad can be extirpated leaving the good our warm companion forevermore. Even when the falsity of this dream has been laid bare for him, our idealistic Ottoway still clings to the dream, and that refusal to admit defeat even when defeated cements him as my favourite created character to date.

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

I find descriptive scenes an absolute nightmare, mainly because I feel as though I am cheating my readers of their imagination if I detail too greatly what is in my own head. This is quite a complicated concern of mine so I shall elaborate by saying that, as a writer, when I have a scene in mind it is pretty much fixed in my psyche; now I don’t want to impinge on your innate ability to conjure pictures in your imagination and I think it is remiss of me to try to alter whatever image you may have created when for example I set my scene on a desert island. I don’t want to encourage you to see that desert island from my point of view; I hate it when writers provided detailed description of a location because my imagination has already done most of the job for me when the writer gave me the nature of that location in the first place. As a reader, I like to be involved in doing the work of the writer also, it helps me cement that bond between the two of us into which we enter when I take up the novel in the first place. Of course, and in William Ottoway’s Utopia, I do outline certain features of the island to which the characters journey but overall I feel it more effective for you the reader to create that image of the place in your own psyche. The same, I believe, can be said for character description – I simply think that it’s a more productive exercise for the reader to flesh out features of a protagonist whether physical or emotional because it then makes that fictional character more real for the person making their way through the novel. All that hokum you learn as a writer about flat and round, two dimensional, three dimensional characters, in my opinion that’s not up to the person who’s crafting the story at all; remember again that the writer and reader are bonding over the course of the narrative. The soulless call it a contract but it’s not that at all – it’s not business nor cold jointure but a warm and friendly relationship struck up for however many pages in which the reader says ‘tell me a tale’ and the writer replies with their offering; the reader gives of their time, and the writer gives of their time, and both hope to benefit one another. All this business of description simply muddies the waters and gives the writer undue power in the process. I tend to steer well clear of books which instruct me in this regard and give my attention instead to an author who allows me to breathe my own life into the particular plotline unfolding before me.

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

Escaping into creating – it really is the most incredible jump to make from the real world into that of the imagination, and the more freedom in this regard you allow yourself as a writer the greater the sense of fun, responsibility and effectiveness you experience. Alas, I’ve been on courses in which plot synopsis in full was required before the act of writing even took place; this is anathema and gets the whole process of composition the wrong way round. For me, you’ve got to be swimming on the surface of consciousness or everyday life, and then plunge down beneath the water into the subconscious, the realm of the psyche, of imagination, of archetypes and of the really profound elements of storytelling. It can be a dangerous place, a little like the dreams within dreams of that wonderful film Inception in that there is every possibility of diving so deep into Limbo that you can find it difficult to return. But as ever with life, the weight of risk is linked to that of reward – if you can swim amongst the sharks of this underworld and navigate your way through their threat to dry land then your novel will be all the better for it. Planning the whole enterprise in advance is a bit like reading the instruction manual before you make up an object; it’s much more rewarding to have a go at construction yourself, particularly when you get it right and produce the finished piece without much preparation beforehand. Of course, the problem with such endeavour is that you might never achieve what you set out to do, and injury might even result; I once wrote a novel with which I dove too deep, got stuck in Limbo, hunted round for the instruction manual I’d flung aside at the art of composition, and only just managed to return to the surface and to safe haven. Feeling relieved and a bit too pleased with myself, I suddenly realised I bore the metaphorical teeth marks of those sharks who had bitten into me on the way down and then back up. But the whole point is that I learnt from my error of judgement, I matured as a writer, and reward came when I escaped to create again, producing work of more merit. This was progress for me, and there’s nothing that makes us feel more satisfied in our lives than feeling that we have moved on, improved, evolved, shed the slough of our former selves and crawled on to greater output. One more element – reading back over a piece and realising that I’ve said what I want to say, that’s rewarding and harder to achieve than it might sound!!

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

Read, read, read! It’s possible to write novels without having read much, but for some reason the more input you’ve absorbed both from life experience and books the easier it becomes to write deeply, profoundly, and therefore authoritatively. I have a tremendously tense relationship with reading and it’s because of this rather awkward confession that I don’t actually enjoy it greatly; I studied English Literature at tertiary level, and after three years of prolonged examination, dissection and analysis of many classic works I found it hard to return to the simple act of reading for pleasure. What my training had afforded me though was the ability to rip through texts and pull out the salient features, skim reading if you like so that now I can study more pieces and extract from them promptly their plot, character and theme. This isn’t a particularly special skill, it’s just practice in a trade whose repetition makes the task easier, more effective; and so I encourage you to read as broadly and as deeply as you are able because the words which are absorbed by the mind are placed upon its parchment, kneaded, doughed, leavened, baked and then returned by way of your imagination, your individual imprint, back on to the page or screen upon which you are writing. The process by which this happens continues to amaze me even as it defeats my ability to explain it, but as life is a mystery we would do wisely not to try to solve in its entirety so this amorphous conversion shouldn’t really bother us, as writers, to understand too much or too greatly. The same really can be said for the input of opinion on our work; when I first started writing, just the fact that I was considering being an author drew detraction, scorn and mockery from people I considered friends. I felt as though no one supported me in my chosen pursuit, and I simply couldn’t understand the hostility towards my practicing a craft which I considered nothing other than benign in operation. The problem was just that though in that I attempted fully to understand this behaviour towards me; once I realised I’d never discover the reasons, an incredible sense of empowerment lifted my pen to compose far more courageously, and freely. This process extended to feedback from those who had taken the time to read my work – when the same novel draws adulation from one person and condemnation from another, well it’s simply enough to draw on the reserves of the only person who really understands your work – you!!

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

I actually don’t have anything as formal as a writing ritual or a superstition to which I adhere in the hope that I can compose well; however, I thought it might be helpful to provide a quick rundown of the processes involved in planning and writing each of my novels because they have changed over time and the evolution may, I hope, be of some interest to other writers and readers out there. In essence, I’ve moved from a position of rigidity to that of relaxation – for Temples of a Fantasy Revenge, I created the story framework largely by drawing on personal interests in both Pandora’s Box and Halloween. I was very disciplined with myself, setting aside certain hours in the day to compose, and I retained control of the novel’s direction pretty much from start to finish; that is to say that whenever I felt the plot moving away from me, I didn’t wait too long before I pulled on the reins and brought it back within my charge. Rick With A (Bipolar) View was much more stream-of-consciousness in that I let the horses of my creativity have great freedom whither to travel. The result is that the narrative moves at quick pace, and I certainly enjoyed the feeling of words pouring from my pen to the page during its composition. The research I undertook for Shakespeare’s Secret Knowledge was so voluminous that I found myself editing very heavily as I proceeded with writing that novel; every time I finished a scene I trawled back through it for any evidence I’d been writing from the history books rather than through my characters. Champagne Jealousy saw me drawing heavily on my own experience of retail and with this book I allowed myself to give vent to years of frustration with the trade – this is a novel as much about anger as anything else, but I hope it doesn’t obscure the fun I had in creating the world of Sheila’s. The rigidity I’ve mentioned had, ironically given the emotion permeating the book, by now given way to relaxation, and so I created the novella Corin’s Chronicle as companion to Temples which starts as separate entity before becoming adjunct, the first time I’d really played around with convention and enjoyed the freedom that came from such enterprise. With William Ottoway’s Utopia then, and despite some of the subject matter, writing in a slightly more in elevated, literary style I found enjoyable, liberating and effective. Ritual is for me then to experiment and progress, to grow more comfortable as my writing life continues with each book completed.

Was being an author something you always wanted to do?

Not at all! I’ve always had dreams and plans to do something outside 9-5 office routine though – when I was a child growing up in my early years, I wanted to be quarterback for the Chicago Bears American Football team. Once that dream had been swallowed up by reality, I wanted to be a racing driver; I loved Formula One in my teenage years and felt it would be a short step to emulate great drivers such as Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. Once that plan had been subsumed by reality, I decided I was going to be a star rugby player for England; the theme continued as I realised I probably wouldn’t be good enough to take to the hallowed turf at Twickenham! And then I wanted to be a superstar DJ but I’m too introverted for that kind of life and so I became a writer – even that though was a long time being decided in my mind. At school, I was really good at English and I took the entrance exam to get into Oxford to study the subject but I came up short although I did go on to have a tremendous grounding in the discipline at Bristol. It was in my second year there that I first envisaged I might become a writer; I was growing stifled by the incessant study of novels and poetry, much of it very depressing to absorb if truth be known, and simply felt that I’d like to add my own voice to the oeuvre. I didn’t for one moment think I could outdo the great titans of literature but I did think that I could balance the negativity a little with my efforts. And then I began to write, and realised how difficult it is actually to complete a project without its being affected even a little by the dark side of human nature. Now that interested me, and held my attention – what was it about writing a story which ineluctably drew one to the night in our souls? It wasn’t for years that I understood when reading a wonderful book called The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker; the argument within its pages too lengthy to summarise here, except to say that Mr Booker believes a great change came over storytelling right around the time of the French Revolution and has affected our pages ever since. For me, it’s no coincidence that my favourite story Frankenstein was written just thirty years after that event by an author who I simply can’t imagine still at such tender age could produce something so profound without there being a seismic shift in the society in which she lived also. I write now because I want to understand this focus, and help storytelling heal its self-inflicted wounds.

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

I’d like to speak to Frankenstein’s monster because I think he is an incredible creation and sums up so well what so many human beings have felt through the ages – why was I created? Why was I created so imperfectly? Why was I abandoned by the creator who created me? Why did my creator loathe me so much he sought to pain me? My creator created me, and with that act of creation comes surely the responsibility to look after me, protect me, at least love me? I have often thought about the loneliness and sense of isolation to which Frankenstein’s monster gives such great voice, and emotion, and wondered whether Mary Shelley was in fact tapping in to some part of the human psyche, or indeed our history, of which she may not even have been aware. The ancient alien hypothesis, for example, suggests that humankind was created and then for some reason abandoned. How much more bearable, if still agonising, would this realisation be for Frankenstein’s monster were I to sit down with him and explain that Victor persecutes him because he himself is flawed, fallible, and fated to live out his days not knowing the reason either why he has been born; that, for me, is the monster’s curse, that he is so miserably hurt by not comprehending why Victor is repulsed by him and so seeks to kill him. He is in a state of ignorance, but no more so than the man who created him. Would that make him feel better knowing that he himself has been formed by an imperfect creator? This, inevitably, leads to the centuries old religious and spiritual awareness that anything designed by man is necessarily corrupt, and that by putting our faith in men and women we do ourselves grave disservice and sometimes unimaginable pain when they in due course let us down. Victor Frankenstein has the tools at his disposal to genetically engineer but he lacks the compassion, love and empathy to create a being in which he can imbue his soul. I would tell Frankenstein’s monster not to worry about securing the love of men because he already possesses the Creator’s care and concern for every living element in the world – if Victor wants to ditch him, so be it, but don’t fight fire with fire and seek to kill him first; ignorance, superficiality and detestation can only be overcome by love, not by some misguided redirection of them against themselves. The monster’s condition is our condition too, and we would do well to learn from the increase in his misery that hate must be returned by faith, hope and charity.

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

I was about to call him out, tell him how predictable his actions had been since first we had pulled him from the boat, but then Manou’s almighty scream from the direction to which Dan had pointed set my hair from my head and I turned to see the mud covering the Usurper’s grave being pushed up from within. First one hand, then another broke through the earth, the right fist clenching the air, vital, pulling its torso and legs up and into view, head emerging last, shaking itself free of mud and dust, standing rather sullenly as we all watched in terror and many crossed themselves at sight this undead resurrection. And it was him. Of that there was no doubt. Momentarily, he looked back down at the grave from which he had emerged, bent over to pick something up and in one movement somehow swung it round to strike Manou hard on the side of his head. It was a corpse, the half-rotting skull smashing into Manou’s temple with a force that sent him sprawling in that sick sort of motion which immediately made me fear the worst. Then the Usurper threw the body towards us and it landed face up on the table, spread-eagled, half a dozen melons squashed beneath it and the same number of Utopians backing away feverishly crossing themselves still.
It was Emily.
I gawped at my nemesis.
Death, not even death, had contained him. Somehow he had transcended it, returned back through the gate, by what soul-killing magic I knew not, so that here he now stood, commensurate with his new condition, strong, mighty, immortal, and ready for the last time to harrow our paradise to extinction. I glanced at the Utopians sitting rigid in their seats and Dan who continued to eye me with disdain. Then I looked back at the Usurper. In the instant he nodded, I felt searing pain as my arm was twisted back behind me, forcing me to bend to the table where my face smacked hard upon the wooden top, Dan’s laughter increasing as he lifted my arm to breaking point before suddenly letting go, his choking the only thing I could hear as I fell back to the ground and cradled my injured limb. Through the fog and tears in my eyes, I saw him struggling against an assailant, a heavy length of rope coiled about his throat. It was Tom, strangling him to death, but not with rope, a snake, holding it at both ends and pulling it tight. Dan fought against him, kicking out with flailing legs, reaching with his right hand for one of the candle holders we had set by the table but he fumbled and groped thin air instead…

ChristopherGriffith_6.jpg

 

authors, books, Coming Soon, cover reveal, fiction

Cover Reveal: Battered Mind by Sylvia Stein

Concept 2

Synopsis:

Sadie Martin Carlyle is on trial for the murder of her husband Dante Caryle. She claims she killed him in self defense and that he was a monster. She was a battered woman and if she had not defended herself he would of killed both their young daughter and her.  In short, She feared for their lives.
However, there is more to this case than meets the eye. Sadie Martin is not your typical woman. Her family consists of her Criminal lawyer father Jackson Martin from Atlanta and her mother Barbara Reece Martin is one of the main leaders of the Southern Belles of Atlanta.

From the very start, there are secrets that are hidden that no one will see coming. Sadie’s story will take the reader through a very emotional journey throughout. Once the case begins, everything you think you know about what happened between Sadie and Dante Carlyle will have you asking many questions and is everything being said the truth?

 

Battered Mind Excerpt:

Copyright by Sylvia Stein

As I lie here holding on to my sanity.   I have to say never in a million years would I have thought all would turn out the way it did. 

You see for most of my life I had been searching and hoping that one day I would find the one

and be able to finally lead “the normal life.”

However, nothing could be farther from the truth.  My name is Sadie Martin Carlyle and on

May 27, 2010, I was charged with the murder of my husband Dante Carlyle. 

The thing that makes this so horrific is that I do not even remember committing the crime.  

All I know is that when I awoke the next morning, My husband Dante was dead and I was found next

to his body and the murder weapon. 

As of now all I can do is await my trial which will not be for a few months. 

Sadly because of the circumstance of the crime, I will have to sit in a jail cell until my trial.

You must be wondering why I seem to know so much about the law in particular. 

One second, “Can you please let me finish talking.”

  Sorry being locked away in this cell has made me a bit paranoid.

Well in any case as I was saying.  The reason I know so much was that my beloved husband was a lawyer and before I got married.  We both met in law school. 

Oh, it was so simple back then. 

If only I could go back to the beginning.   Things were easier.  At least I thought they were.   However maybe if I can just go back to the beginning I can try to salvage a bit of my dignity.

Besides, I was born and raised to be a good girl. But right now I am really placing a damper on all the years my parents spent trying to make me something I never wanted to be.   You see I was born and raised in Atlanta Georgia.

It’s too damn bad I was never able to lead a normal life.  Thanks to my dear parents!

My mother was born to parents of money and my father was no different.  However, he was known for being one of the best criminal defense attorneys in all of the state of Georgia.  

He was deeply admired for his hardcore antics.  My father was never one to give up on his client and

he is both loved and hated throughout the community. 

On the other hand, my dear mother Barbara Reece Martin has always been in the public eye.  As a child, her parents owned several wineries all over the state of Georgia and North Carolina and she was left with a trust fund and decided to invest in stock and has done pretty well.  She is now the Ceo of The Reece Winery and overlooks them along with my father and she is also one of the main members of the Women of Atlanta social club.  

All in all, she is always busy and thinks that I am just spoiled.   My mother and I are not close.

She was always gone when I needed her.  The only person that seemed to care and worry about me was my father Jackson. 

He always made time to see me and for that, I am very grateful.  My father has always said I was his

everything.   At the time I thought I was but then I discovered it was all lies.  I will get to that later.

As I was saying my mother was never around as a kid.  She was always out and busy with all her numerous work and charitable events. 

I hated her, and I still do!”

As you can see I get a bit angry being cooped up in here.  I mean there are many criminals in here and I know they are women like me.  But I am not one of them.  I am different and I want to do is start over again. 

Let me outta here.  

]Author Pic

Sylvia Stein is a published author with several anthologies with her Writer’s group 750 on linked

in. Stein obtained a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New

Hampshire University this past July 2015. She is a mother of three beautiful children Paul 10,

Michael 9 and Consuelo 6. She resides in the city of Fuquay Varina with her amazing husband

Jeremy. Stein has also published two solo books one was her first novella Closure which she

worked on while attending SNHU and published in July of 2014 and the other her first YA

Chasing Clarity was published this past October 2015 and it was created during National Novel

Month (Nano) in 2013. Her latest book is entitled, The Diary of a Broken Father which came

Out in February 2017. Her new thriller which she has been working on since 2014 will be out

Late 2018 and is entitled, Battered Mind.

 

Follow Author Sylvia Stein:

http://sylviawriter07.wix.com/sylvia-author

http://www.amazon.com/Sylvia-Stein/e/B00EJT3FYQ/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

https://twitter.com/sylvia_stein07

http://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Clarity-Sylvia-Stein/dp/1494964724/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1463014469&sr=8-1&keywords=Chasing+Clarity

http://www.amazon.com/Closure-Sylvia-Stein/dp/061590694X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1463014518&sr=8-1&keywords=Closure+Sylvia+Stein

https://www.facebook.com/SylWriter07/

The Daily with Syl Stein on Anchor

http://sylauthor07.podbean.com

https://twitter.com/sylvia_stein07

Meet the Cover Artist: Michael Dangremond

Michael Dangremond and his lovely wife Alanna Dangremond

My name is Michael Dangremond and I am mainly a self-taught artist. My professional Media is tattooing. I’ve been involved in art for the better span of my life. I grew up in a small town called Hopkins in the state of Michigan. Growing up had its challenges and equally; it’s lessons. After high school, I lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan to begin a career in the culinary arts. After bouncing from kitchen to kitchen and climbing the ladder, I decided to reinvest myself in the art my heart called me to pursue. I am happily married to my wife, Alanna and I am blessed with my daughter, Sophia. This story of mine continues growing in my passion for my brand of art. 

 

You can find Michael on  Instagram page under Mykaldangerous

https://www.facebook.com/ artbymykaldangerous/

 

authors, contemporary fiction, family drama, fiction

In the Words of An Author: An Interview With Piper Punches

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

Some of my favorite authors are Jodi Picoult, Khaled Hosseini, Rohinton Mistry, Shanti Sekran, Fredrik Backman – to name a few. I love how these authors tell stories from many different perspectives, challenging perceptions and allowing the reader to understand the motive behind a character’s action. When I write, my goal is to give the reader a complete picture so they can form their own opinion about the characters in relation to the plot.

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

All of my characters are close to my heart, especially the characters in 60 Days and Missing Girl. While there isn’t one character that I’m more inclined to call my favorite, I am often surprised that I enjoy molding my male characters. One character I especially enjoyed creating is Manny in 60 Days. We just get to know him a little in the book, but in the sequel we’ll learn a lot more about this complex man who has lost so much in his life yet still manages to move forward in life.

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

In 60 Days and Missing Girl ( a novella), there were very dark scenes that included assault, torture, and death. Writers, much like actors, must get into character when writing to make scenes read authentic. Getting into the head of a brutal man like my character, Yasiel, was difficult and emotionally overwhelming. I think it’s why it took me so long to finish 60 Days because I needed to take mental health breaks. Also, I’m not a graphic writer in the sense that I am going to go all the way with scenes where a sexual assault may take place. That’s not me. I can’t write in detail scenes like those those. So, finding a way to write these scenes to let the reader know what’s happening without actually “going there,” takes some careful planning.

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

The best part about being an author is getting to tell other people’s stories, albeit fictional, and bringing a new perspective to the table. I like writing human interest stories and family dramas that are sensational and taken from today’s headlines, but also in a way that is relatable to my readers. Hearing readers say that they’ve gained a new perspective on a topic or were drawn to take action after reading one of my books makes my heart sing. It’s also great to see all your hard work in print and you accomplished something that others only dream about.

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

Write for yourself and don’t expect overnight success. No one is successful overnight. It takes hard work, planning, patience, and a lot of trust that the Universe is always working for you. One of the biggest mistakes I made after I wrote The Waiting Room and Missing Girl was trying to please every reader. The truth is that this is never going to happen. You’re never going to write a story that everyone is going to fall in love with. But, you can write a story that you’ll fall in love with. When you write from your heart and for yourself, the story takes on its own life. There is real emotion in the words, the characters are real, and the writing process is so much easier. So, that’s my best advice for any author no matter where he or she is in their career – Write for yourself because if you don’t love your story, why should anyone else?

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

My writing ritual is procrastination. No, seriously, I don’t really have a ritual. I know some authors write for two hours each morning or maybe have a special place where they gain inspiration. Me? I find inspiration everywhere. Sometimes I find it while driving in my car and listening to music, but I can easily find it when I’m walking through the grocery store aisles. I don’t like my inspiration to be tied to a ritual. I prefer free-flowing thoughts and welcome those thoughts wherever I am.

Was being an author something you always wanted to do?

Yes! There were plenty of times throughout my life where I thought it was better to go after a career in something that was more stable. Many people don’t realize that I always wanted to be an FBI agent working in counter-terrorism (long before 9/11) or a lawyer. I went to school to pursue a degree in Criminology. I also entertained the idea of being an actress on General Hospital for a while, but I had a better chance of getting on with the FBI. 🙂 The thing about writing, though, is it’s a medium that allows me to live many lives through my characters. That’s a precious gift and I’m so happy that 4 years ago I decided to make my dream of being a published author a reality.

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

Missing Girl

In life my name was Sophia Lucia Cruz. In death it is simply missing girls. Not even singular, but plural, as if there was never one single part of me that was unique or separate from all the other girls that were buried in that harsh Mexican dirt; victims of circumstance, irrevocable choices, and just plain bad luck. If I still had the capacity to cry, I would, because it is that sad and tragic. But when the knife slid deep into my belly and the blood gurgled at the base of my throat I knew that tears wouldn’t save me and they won’t change my story now.
Why am I here? You don’t believe in ghosts, do you? That’s okay. I didn’t either before I became one. Even when I was a little girl and I insisted I saw my abuela’s ghost at the foot of my bed, knitting me a blanket that had all the colors of the rainbow, I let myself be persuaded that ghosts were a figment of my imagination.
“Sophia,” my mama said as she smoothed my hair and planted her lips on my head. “My sweet Sophia, close your eyes. Whatever you think you saw was a shadow. Just a trick of the moon.” She would then sing me a song and rock me back to sleep.
I wish I could visit mama at the foot of her bed tonight. I wish I could tell her this isn’t her fault. She did the best she could. She should forgive herself. But I can’t. Instead I am stuck here; wherever here is. It’s somewhere between the dark black Mexican night and its brilliant sunny days. I am simply hovering above what remains of my body. People, family members, loved ones, sometimes the police, make their way to these dusty fields with picks, sticks, and shovels, hopping to discover the remains of their missing girl, but most of them find nothing and end up leaving the fields more distraught than when they arrived. Isn’t it twisted the way that families are forced to come to these fields of death with hope and expectations of finding their loved ones? I am not judging and I certainly don’t blame them. But when they leave they leave hopeless because they know that they will continue to be left without answers – without a body to properly bury. Because let’s face it: when the missing leave they never return.
I’m there. I can see me – or at least what is left of me. Some of the girls – and men, too – that are buried (can you even call it that?) here were merely stabbed, shot, choked, or suffocated and then haphazardly tossed like garbage into this death dump. Not me. Although no one would come looking for me and I wasn’t anyone important, my kidnappers had left their marks branded on my skin and this made me identifiable and a risk even in death. Unlike some of the other bodies buried around me, I was dug a deep enough grave that I wouldn’t be noticed right away. This would give the lime that had been sprinkled over my body time to work its decomposing magic.
How can I talk about my demise so casually? I don’t know. Perhaps that is the beauty of death. I am removed not only from my physical body, but my emotions are flat-lined as well. However, I still feel compelled to tell my story, so there must be some emotion that lingers, even though my soul has released its grip on my human form.
Why am I compelled to tell this story? I guess because no one else will. Most people don’t want to tell stories with tragic endings, but they need to be told, otherwise they are forgotten. I want you to know who I am. I want you to know I am so much more than a poster that has been damaged by wind, rain, and time. I don’t want to be so easily dismissed. I want you to know that I was so much more than a missing girl.

Want to Read the Rest of Missing Girl for FREE?
Sign up at http://eepurl.com/cFMe1f

 

For more information about Piper Punches, find her on social media and her website:

Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/1rckiaV
60 Days book link: http://amzn.to/2c2hMg4
The Waiting Room book link: http://amzn.to/2mCyYCM
Missing Girl link for free novella: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/ocvbp8gyva
Facebook: facebook.com/piperpunches
Twitter: @piperpunches
Instagram: @piperpunches
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/piperpunches
authors, books, children's literature, christian fiction, christian literature, interviews, kids books, poetry

In the Words of an Author: An Interview with Sandi Smith

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

I have followed two wonderful authors – Maeve Binchy and Fannie Flagg.

Sandi_Smith_Dads_Ugly_Chair_225

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

Well, for my children’s books I would have to say A.R. Achnid is my favorite character. A.R. was the reason I started to write, and his character was so much fun. He thought he was human, and wanted to do everything with his human friend, Harold. Even though people thought of him as a scary spider, he didn’t let that get him down. He just went along with his life, enjoying all of his adventures.

ar_archid

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

I have been very lucky, and have not had any difficulties with any scenes I have written. My new novel that I am working on now, though, I am having a little bit of trouble getting past one particular scene. It is a little dark, and I am not sure in what direction I want to take the story.

Ms_Sapphire_Rose_author_sandi_smith_character

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

I have found that finishing a story, especially a novel, is so rewarding. So much time and energy is invested in the writing of the story, and when it finally is finished and comes together to form the feelings you wanted to express, it is a tremendously gratifying experience.

Sandi_Smith_six_oclock_show_225

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

Well, I am basically just starting out myself, but I would advise anyone who is starting out to believe in what you are writing. In the beginning, when I wrote something, I was always looking for approval from a family member or a friend. One day when someone told me they didn’t care for my book, my husband told me that there are going to be people who love the book and people who don’t care for it at all, but that doesn’t mean that it is a bad story. Believe in yourself is the advice my husband gave me, and continues to give me, so I would pass that on to anyone starting out.

home_book_bio1(1)

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

I do not. The words come to me, and I sit down and start typing away. The whole process for me has been very simple. The only ritual I would say I have is making sure I have cookies available for when I am awake and typing at night. They are soothing to the soul.

51_EX3LjOzL

Was being an author something you always wanted to do?

Not really. I used to write in high school, but never gave it too much thought after that. Actually, I always wanted to be an opera singer, but, occasionally, I always found myself writing poems or short stories.

poka

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

My mother, who has been gone for quite a few years now. We didn’t have a great relationship, and I would really love to sit and chat with her, getting to know her as a person. I believe, because of our volatile relationship, that I may have missed out on a wonderful friendship with a wonderful person. That breaks my heart.

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

This is from one of my children’s books, Sarah Bella’s Gift of Gold:

Sandi_Smith_gold_book_225

When Sarah Bella was a very young girl,

(let’s say, probably about six years old),

her parents gave her a small ball of yarn,

that they said was a “gift of gold”.

Sarah Bella was then told by her parents,

“A life of adventure is waiting ahead.

Wrap your favorite things in this ball of yarn,

and when you sleep, keep it close by your bed.”

They told Sarah Bella that when she grew old,

in her ball of yarn would be memories so dear.

There would be times and places to remember,

from all of her adventures throughout the years.

The following is from my first novel, Sitting at the Kitchen Table with God:

sitting_at_the_kitchen_table_with_god(2)

Andrew was gone, and Marianne should have been buried with him. There were two deaths on that day, but only one soul was taken. The other was left to slowly decay in the shell of a lonely woman.

For more information on this author, please, visit:


http://www.authorsandismith.com

http://amzn.to/2fdd1YJ


books, New Release, nonfiction

New From Katja Omlor

MarketingBullshitCover

SYNOPSIS

Marketing Bullshit is bursting with practical tips, geared to a single objective: to make you think about your actions and optimize your business from a marketing perspective. By showing you the huge potential of freebies, available online, you will be able to test many low-budget solutions and achieve high end results.

Starting with personal motivation, the author (Katja Omlor) invites us into the mesmerizing world of marketing by always staying away from bullshit of any kind. By covering aspects like new marketing, Corporate Identity and just how lazy customers might be, the book offers a non-conventional approach to this omnipotent subject.

Have you ever dealt with Customer Relationship Management? Intranet? Organising events? Internal communication and public relations? Your own website and Online Marketing?

Well, you will now. The book is different, fresh and will make you rethink many actions and processes you might have been taking for granted.

And – if everything fails, it even offers a segment on getting a job. Try it!

MarketingBullshitTeaser

Excerpt

4.6. Are there any special tools or treats the world has to offer?
Well, as a designer, this might be (personally speaking) sort of counterproductive. The internet has many things to offer, we have already discussed several special websites with free photos, banner creators, etc. There is also one very important site worth mentioning: Envato, so humbly described as “top digital assets and services.” I can tell you, they ain’t lyin’!

My favourite part is the Envato market. Here is a little secret: although I am a graphic designer, I often use this website simply as a source of inspiration. Once you discover what they have to offer, you, on the other hand, may be soon happily applying thousands of resources and saving loads of money. The website provides you with:
• Themes and templates (ThemeForest)
• Graphics and vectors (GraphicRiver)
• Photos and images (PhotoDune)
• Footage and animated graphics (VideoHive)
• Scripts and plugins (CodeCanyon)
• Music and sounds (AudioJungle)
• 3D models and textures (3DOcean)

Basically, what you will be getting here is anything your heart desires at an incredible price (e.g., templates starting at around $4). I know, sometimes it seems too good to be true. The only limitation you may face will often be buying graphic design software to edit the files.

Envato isn’t the only option for getting free resources. You know the basic rule: just Google it. One premise, however, remains constant. Nothing beats a good designer that gets to know you and your company. If you are planning on becoming a Champions League Player, you will need to kick it up a notch and personalize.

Want more information? Check out the video teaser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvK94aZwOjY

Buy It Now!