My Guest and Author of the Amazon Bestseller, Martin Crosbie

Martin Crosbie 2

In a press release, Amazon referred to Martin Crosbie as one of their success stories of 2012. His self-publishing journey has been chronicled in Publisher’s Weekly, Forbes Online, and Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper. Martin’s debut novel, My Temporary Life, has been downloaded over one hundred and fifty thousand times and became an Amazon bestseller. He is also the author of the Amazon bestsellers:

My Name Is Hardly-Book Two of the My Temporary Life Trilogy

Lies I Never Told-A Collection of Short Stories

How I Sold 30,000 eBooks on Amazon’s Kindle-An Easy-To-Follow Self-Publishing Guidebook

Believing Again: A Tale of Two Christmases

Martin was born in the Highlands of Scotland and currently makes his home on the west coast of Canada. The third book in the My Temporary Life Trilogy is due for release in 2014.

Stephanie: I would like to welcome back Author Martin Crosbie. I consider Martin on of the gurus of self-publishing.

Hello Martin! I’m glad to have you visit Layered Pages again. It is always a pleasure to talk with you. You work tirelessly in the self-publishing community and that is much respected by many. I would like to say thank you for all you do and I would like to know how you find the time to do it all?

Martin: Hi Stephanie, thanks for having me back. It’s always fun to talk to you.

I realized some time ago that I had to change my ratio of writing/marketing. I’m proud to say that currently I’m sitting at about 50/50 and I’m pretty happy with that. I made a commitment three months ago to write a minimum one thousand new words every day and so far I’ve stuck with it. So, my priority every day is writing. Everything else has moved down the list.

Stephanie: That is fantastic and I have been cheering for you ever since you told me about your challenge.

Please tell me about the workshops you teach and give lectures at?

Martin: I teach a self-publishing weekend workshop. In a weekend my partner and I try to show authors how to produce a professional product without breaking the bank. We call it the Secrets of the Bestsellers Weekend.

Stephanie: Do you have another one coming up? Tell me about it.

Martin: The next Bestsellers Weekend is in November but I have a number of other events between now and then.

I’m teaching a free self-publishing workshop that the local library is sponsoring in May. Here’s the link: Surrey Libraries

I have two others in the coming months. I’m teaching at a writers retreat in Northern British Columbia. We’re in lockdown at a remote (not-so-secret) location and we’re going to write and talk about writing for four days. Rural Writers

And, I’m very proud to be opening the Whistler Readers and Writers Festival in October. I’ll be facilitating a one day workshop for attendees. The Vicious Circle

Stephanie: Was there a moment when you were giving a lecture that impacted in you some way or should I say, what has been your most profound moment in these speaking engagements?

Martin: During the past workshop that I taught in March, by the middle of the second day the tide turned. The authors attending were quoting phrases and facts that I’d given them on the first day and were nodding and buying into my philosophy. They were talking about making sure their manuscript was polished before publishing and hiring professional cover designers and most importantly, editors too. It felt really good to be in a roomful of writers who were all on the same page.

Stephanie: What are some of the compliments you have received from these lectures?

Martin: I guess the biggest compliment is that some of the authors come back. Several folks who attended my first workshop have come to others too. The greatest compliment though is seeing the success that writers are having once they publish. I see their books zipping up the rankings on Amazon and often overtaking my own work and hitting bestseller status.

As I’ve traveled to writers groups giving information on my workshops I’ve made a startling discovery. There are some very, very good books out there that are just waiting to be published. The quality of writing and creativity of the stories has blown my mind. I often tell writers to please alert me once their books are out and they probably think I’m saying it to be polite.

I’m not! I can’t wait to read some of their books once they go live.

Stephanie: What is the number one advice you give to a writer who is getting started and wants to self-publish?

Martin: Have patience and don’t publish until the work is ready. There’s no excuse for releasing sub-standard material. There are writers groups and beta-readers galore just waiting to help us. I have requests from readers asking about the third book in my trilogy all the time. I had a draft partially written last year but I stopped and started over. It’s my name on the cover and I won’t release a book until I know it’s the best I can produce. You’ll never regret waiting until you know that your work is the best you can produce.

Stephanie: Has there been any bumps along the way in your publishing career and was there a moment you wanted to through in the towel?

Martin: No. I’m doing what I always wanted to do – writing, connecting with readers and being paid for it every month. I’m very lucky.

Stephanie: What are some of the mistakes a self-publishing writer can avoid when using social media?

Martin: Treat your followers and Facebook friends as though they were your real-life, actual, dear friends. In other words, forget that you’re online. I wouldn’t walk up to one of my friends and say “buy my book”. Social networks have changed the way we interact but we don’t have to let them change the way communicate. Treating each other with respect is still the key to maintaining relationships – virtual and actual.

Stephanie: Where do you see this industry in five to ten years?

Martin: Right now, when I publish a book and upload it I feel as though my readers are just around the corner from me. They’re that close. Within a few years it’s going to feel as though they’re in the same room. I don’t what form that will take but the relationship between reader and writer is changing and the two are becoming closer. The escapism that we provide readers will always be there but the actual relationship has changed and that’s a good thing. It’s helped me and others get our work to our audience.

In terms of where the publishing industry will be that’s difficult to say. The only constant will be change. Things will continue to change and we’re going to be here enjoying every peak and valley along the way.

Stephanie: Before you go, is there a message you would like to give to your audience about your own work?

Martin: I’m very proud of my novels and I’d love for your readers to check them out but my bestselling book is currently my self-publishing guidebook. I keep the e-book pricing at $4.99, so it’s quite affordable. The key with this book is that it keeps changing. I released it in September and already have revised it once and will revise it again this summer and again at the end of the year. Each revision contains updated sites where you can promote your work, find editors, places to find free photos and images, and much more. Plus, I update some of the content in terms of what’s working and what isn’t too. So, if you purchase the book and I update the content Amazon will actually advise you that it’s been revised and direct you to the area where you can download the newer version for free. My goal is to have the most current self-publishing guidebook on the market all the time.

I’d love for your readers to check it out Self-Publishing Guidebook

Thank you, Martin!

Places you can find Martin:

Twitter

Facebook

Martin’s Website

email

Amazon Author Page

Martin’s self-publishing journey has been documented here:

Publisher’s Weekly Apr/2012

Globe and Mail Newspaper Apr/2012

Forbes Online Aug/2012

Here are just a few samples of many things people are saying about Martin’s books.

What readers are saying about Lies I Never Told-A Collection of Short Stories:

Lies I never told

Could not put this book down. I am amazed at the depth of feeling and emotion in his words. All of the stories are so different yet so connected at the emotional level. My only disappointment is that the stories were not longer. I really hope that this book is just a prelude of the novels to come. Martin grabs me from the first line and takes me on an emotional journey with all his characters.

Debbie Dore-Amazon review

Where Martin Crosbie found his voice is a mystery. His ability to create stories (here very brief ones) that explore the psyche of his chosen stand-in trope in such a way that within a few sentences you are so aware of the character’s life and feelings that he seems to be sitting beside you, in conversation with only you.

Grady Harp (Hall of Fame reviewer)-Goodreads review

What readers are saying about How I Sold 30,000 eBooks on Amazon’s Kindle-An Easy-To-Follow Self-Publishing Guidebook:

How I sold....

Yes, I was skeptical because I’ve read one or two of these books, and their suggestions are… let’s just say not that good. Last night, I skipped the intro and jumped right to the meat of the book. Chapter One was better, much better, than I had expected. But it was when he said, DON’T go out on Twitter and FB and shout “read my book” a thousand times a day that he convinced me that he was honest and knew what he was talking about. For anyone at the publishing stage or who wants to get there, so far 🙂 [I will always be a hardcore skeptic] this is a good reference on what to do, on how to build relationships instead of walls. If you’re not yet at the publishing stage, start now to build an audience and support group. And Martin C practices what he preaches, especially the part about supporting other authors. He followed me back on Twitter and friended me on FB.

NSW-Amazon Review

If you are a new writer this book is a must. I wish I had it when I first started writing. It is filled with easy to read and easy to understand information. However, even if you are an already published writer this book will offer you new information you might not have known. I found it helpful in so many ways. There are also links to various other sites that offer valuable info that is very difficult to find. Basically, “How I Sold 30,000 Ebooks on Amazon Kindle,” takes a lot of the guessing and hard work out of self publishing.

Roberta Kagan-Amazon Review

What readers are saying about My Name Is Hardly:

My name is hardly

Martin Crosbie’s remarkable storytelling talent is apparent throughout his most recent novel, “My Name Is Hardly.” The story seized me from the first paragraph and held me relentlessly until I’d come to the novel’s thoughtful and moving conclusion.

Kathleen Lourde-Amazon review

I have no doubt that when the last piece is in place, Crosbie’s work will stand tall as exemplary literary fiction, and a reproach to those who mourn the decline of the “gatekeepers” of commercial publishing. Any gate too small to let in Martin Crosbie should have been blown up a long time ago.

Steven Hart-Goodreads review

Review: Equilibrium by Evie Woolmore

Picture two

I am delighted to bring back old reviews that I have written on my old blogspot. Each month, I will be posting one in hopes to find new readers who will enjoy these books as much as I have. Equlibrium is one that I reviewed for the Historical Novel Society sometime back.

Published August 6th 2012 by allonymbooks

Equlibrium is an evocative tale of two sisters-Epiphany and Martha-who are mediums performing on stage in a theater in London, England in the early 1900’s. A Lady Adelia Lyward sees the performance and wants Epiphany to give her a private reading. She wanted to learn the truth of her brother’s death not knowing the sisters have a connection to her household. Martha was a housemaid to the Lyward’s two years previous and fell pregnant by Adelia’s husband, Lord Rafe Lyward. In disgrace Martha left the Lyward’s household, gave her child away and attempted suicide in the River Thames, she survived… But there is more to the Lyward’s household than meets the eye.

The beginning of the story starts slowly but I was pleasantly surprised as I read on to discover how the mystery surrounding Adelia’s brothers death is revealed. However, I would have liked to have seen the historical elements to be stronger and expanded further on-such as the social changes in England during this period and I wanted to have a clearer picture on the details as to why Adelia’s brother went to South Africa during the Boer War then what was told.

Overall this story is rich in complex characters with remarkable depth despite their shortcomings. Epiphany’s voice gave- what I believe- a comfort to those she was interacting with at times and I thought she gave the story a calmness and a delicate reality to this tragic and harsh story that was unfolding. I recommend Equilibrium to readers who enjoys historical fiction with spiritualism influences.

~Stephanie
Layered Pages

Interview with Author Elle Thalheimer

Ellee_Author_Photo

Ellee Thalheimer is an accomplished freelance travel writer, public speaker, and bicycle tourism proponent who believes there are few better ways to travel and transform than by bike. She co-founded the Portland Society, a nonprofit business alliance that connects professional women who are passionate about cycling; authored Lonely Planet’s Cycling Italy; and is a zealous lover of the Pacific Northwest. As the owner of Into Action Publications, her most recent projects include authoring Cycling Sojourner: A Guide to the Best Multi-day Tours in Oregon and co-authoring Hop in the Saddle: A Guide to Portland’s Craft Beer Scene, by Bike.

Stephanie: Hello, Ellee! Thank you for chatting with me today. Please tell me about your book, Cycling Sojourner.

Ellee: As the second title in my cycle touring guidebook series, Cycling Sojourner: A Guide to the Best Multi-Day Tours in Washington reveals hard-to-find information about exploring Washington by bike. The book gives advice on how to tour the state’s remotest ribbons of road in the Okanagan, bikeable berry stands in the San Juan Islands, Walla Walla wine country tasting rooms best reached by bicycle, and routes across the Cascade Mountains that I hope will convert folks into helpless lovers of the Pacific Northwest.

Like a cycle touring concierge of sorts, Cycling Sojourner takes care of the logistics and removes obstacles between riders and two-wheeled adventures. I want cyclists to be able to just grab their bikes and go. Each of the book’s nine tours lays out nuts-and-bolts details, including cue sheets, maps, and information about weather, difficulty levels, camping and lodging options, and the various ways of getting to and from the ride’s start and end points.

But the soul of the book lies in the authors’ voices, which use storytelling, local history, and humor to elevate the text beyond just an everyday guidebook. The jovial, casual tone sets this series apart. I really wanted this book to be an inspirational muse that draws out the inner adventurer.

cycling

Stephanie: What inspired you to write a guide on cycle-touring?

Ellee: I used to work as a guidebook author for Lonely Planet and was hired as the single author on the Cycling Italy title. That was an experience of a lifetime. Before that, I was a cycling guide for Woman Tours. I had a unique skillset to be able to write my own guidebooks. When I realized that Oregon didn’t have any appreciable source of cycle touring information, despite the popularity, I decided to create Cycling Sojourner: A Guide to the Best Multi-Day Tours in Oregon. And then I ended up making another one for Portland: Hop in the Saddle: A Guide to Portland’s Craft Beer Scene, by Bike. And because Washington also has world-class cycle touring, I was inspired to make another guidebook for it. When I started writing the Oregon book, I never imagined that I would become a publisher and continue producing titles like an addict.

Stephanie: Do you cycle yourself? Is this guide based on your own experiences?

Elle: I’ve been cycling for two decades. I’m an avid commuter, mountain biker, road cyclist, cycle tourist, and I even raced cyclo-cross one year (never again, ouch). I hope to get into fat biking and family biking with my new daughter, Ruby, this summer.

Every mile of this guide was ridden by me or by one of the other authors. In the case of many cycling guidebooks, because of budget and time restrictions, publishers have authors drive some routes. When that happens, the quality of the coverage suffers. Books in the Cycling Sojourner series are dedicated to giving information from firsthand experience, as if a good friend, who happened to be an expert, was giving you advice.

Stephanie: Was there anything challenging about writing a guidebook?

Elle: Where shall I start? People like to say, “Wow! You’re job is to tootle around on a bike. Lucky!”

And I am very lucky. This is great work. However, the actual riding is a small percentage of the overall work put into the book. Every nit-picky detail has to be meticulously researched. You have to master the art of word economy and balance inspiration and practicality. Plus, when you are researching on the ground, your day doesn’t end with the beer after your ride. You have to sit at your tiny laptop and produce content and create descriptions while experiencing physical exhaustion.

Stephanie: What is the number one advice you would give when cycling?

Elle: When cycle touring, if your goal is to have fun, the key is to start the tour prepared, then be flexible no matter what comes your way. The beauty of a bike tour is that it’s not a packaged vacation. You may end up meeting people, doing things, or sleeping in places you did not expect. Wrenches get thrown into tours by weather, road closures, flat tires, or an unexpectedly fabulous town where you have to stay an extra night. If you aren’t rigid about how things should unfold, you’ll enjoy yourself much more.

Stephanie: Have you written any other guides? Will there be more?

Elle: I’ve contributed to a number of Lonely Planet guidebooks and was the single author on their Cycling Italy title. For Into Action Publications, my own imprint, I wrote Cycling Sojourner Oregon, co-authored Hop in the Saddle: A Guide to Portland’s Craft Beer Scene, by Bike, and was the main author on Cycling Sojourner Washington (I had a number of contributing authors for this last title).

As far as the Cycling Sojourner series goes, there are many potential titles I’m mulling over for the future.

Stephanie: What do you like most about writing?

Elle: Writing helps me process my experiences in the world, so when I emerge from my Writing Hole, I have a more dynamic understanding. Also, there is nothing as satisfying as creating a muscular description that zings or cutting the fat out of a paragraph, even if you love the individual bits you’re cutting.

Stephanie: Are there pictures in your guidebook and did you take them yourself?

Elle: The photos were taken by me, the other authors, and friends of the book.

Stephanie: When will this book be available and where can readers purchase it?

Elle: You can buy the book on my website at cyclingsojourner.com and also follow my blog about cycle touring. In addition, readers can purchase this book where books are sold, as well as REI. The book will be available from my website in April and from other vendors in May.

The Cycling Sojourner Site

Amazon

A Pound of Flesh by Stuart S. Laing

A Pound of Flesh

Edinburgh 1745.

Deep beneath the rain soaked and wind scoured streets of the city a foul crime committed in the dark of night leaves two men lying dead in a dank cellar. A bankrupt young nobleman with an addiction to the twin vices of gambling and loose women stands accused of the horrific double murder and all the evidence seems to point towards his guilt. In desperation his lawyer turns to the one man in Edinburgh who can save him from the hangman’s noose.

Robert Young of Newbiggin.

He is a young man who has earned a reputation amongst the city’s legal fraternity for being the one person who can root out the truth by venturing into the capital’s criminal underbelly. His investigation leads from the elegant drawing rooms of Edinburgh’s high society to the city’s most infamous brothel and into the grim hovels of the lowest alehouses on the Cowgate.

But as more bodies are discovered Robert Young is forced to confront the possibility that his client may actually be guilty!

330 pages

Published February 18th 2012 by KDP

Available on Amazon

About Stuart’s latest book,  Major Weir’s Dark Legacy  here

Guest Post with D. Grant Fitter

D. Grant Fitter

Stephanie: My guest today in Layered Pages is D. Grant Fitter and he is here to talk about his book, City of Promise and how the period in which the book is set in and his research.

D. Grant: Spanning eight years of the 1940s, City of Promises is set primarily in Mexico City, relies heavily on the flavor of Veracruz on the gulf coast, introduces the budding new playground of Acapulco on the Pacific and it was lots of fun to write.

Fun to write works aren’t really work at all and are almost always a product of inspiration.

People often describe the period and setting of my novel such things as surprising, unusual and unique. It is true that very little fiction has been written about life in Mexico City in the 1940s and I am not aware of anything done in English. By saying that is not to say the decade is not well captured and recorded through an abundance of other media. There is an absolute avalanche of living film, recorded music and historical archives to be gleefully buried in research.

Inspiration and fun really do go hand in hand.

Having that valuable bank of research is important to historical fiction writers, particularly if they are not writing a formulaic theme, enjoy doing research and if they strive to keep their characters, setting and storyline meticulously true to events of the time, as I have done with City of Promises. That backup also helps to keep the words flying from the mind as fast as the fingers can key them in. In my own case it also helped that I spent many years working and living in Mexico City, roaming the streets, admiring architecture, feeling the tremendous pulse of that city, developing a healthy appetite for participating in and understanding the culture and even having the experience of being held bargaining chip hostage by a very politically influential businessman. Such things helped me understand my true-life character’s lives and the life of my protagonist and his two supporting actors who are a conglomerate of many personalities I might have known.

What I am talking about here is closely connected to something learned over six semesters instructing adult creative writing courses.  Understanding our limits and concentrating on our strengths.

Understanding our limits and concentrating on our strengths may at first seem a little too obvious or superficial, but it isn’t. In my six semesters instructing adult creative writing courses, the most common reason given by students for paying their tuition for the course was that they had an idea for a novel eating away at them, but they were in need of a push to either get started or they were bogged down and in need of some inspiration to keep going. The same holds true for authors who join writing clubs and online forums. I see that discussion all the time. All too often it is apparent that many talented, aspiring authors are trying to force a story into a mold they do not know enough about. They weren’t writing to their strengths.

So yes, City of Promises is the natural result of my attraction to historical fiction, but loving historical fiction is not enough. I went to work writing to my strengths. I went to work on a very broad subject that I have come to know very well; that being my fascination with the Mexican culture which is so distant from our own, a curiosity to understand it, and story that I feel illuminates it.

 City of Promise

Publication Date: January 22, 2013 CreateSpace Formats: Paperback, eBook

Genre: Historical Fiction

Is there an economic value of one’s soul? “By divine good fortune I live in the most glamorous era of a famously enticing city. By obscene misfortune I’m shut out by its ruling elite.” Daring ways to make it big are on offer in Mexico City in the 1940s, but best watch your back! If Arturo Fuentes barters virtue to maneuver in on the action, will the consequence of his choices be too much to bear?

The rebirth of one of the world’s most colorful cities forms the rich backdrop for this historically discerning tale of treachery, intrigue and political corruption.

“My entire family was stuck for generations in that isolated village south of Veracruz where I was born. When you’re fourteen, know you are a dreamer and learn to be a schemer, you can’t stay and so you start planning for the day.”

In 1941, 21-year-old Arturo Fuentes followed the beat to Mexico City.

“There was so much going on!”

Bottles of rum in smoke filled bars, sultry women and impassioned conversation, music and bright show lights calling. Murder and corruption.

“A man moving up meets all kinds of people in that seductive city. Powerful men to boost your business prospects or a real dish who will change your life. Without women, life is without drama.”

“Arturo has goodness in his heart. I could tell in an instant. He was so easy to love. Arturo couldn’t sense the warning signs like a woman does. That pack of important politicos sucked him in! You can’t play their games and expect to walk away.”

“She was right! Each day my reasons for quitting got bigger and the ways out got smaller. I had to do what I had to do to save my soul.”

Praise for City of Promises

“… beautifully merging together historical fact with inspired fiction, this remarkable story is enlightening, illuminating and thoroughly compelling…” -Goodreads

“… a dazzling story of an eager young industrialist drawn to a myriad of big city temptations yielding experiences of tragedy, corruption, misfortune and prosperity …” – el Popular

“Fitter has efficiently dealt with time and place that makes the story come alive in the imaginations of the readers.” – Bookpleasures

Buy the Book

Amazon (eBook) Amazon (Paperback) Barnes & Noble (Nook) Smashwords

About the Author

D. Grant Fitter is a citizen of North America. Born in Ontario, Canada and educated in Colorado, USA, he is convinced he was Mexican in his previous life. How else to explain such a strong attraction to Mexico and all things Mexican, including his wife.

His business career includes long stints of work in Mexico before yielding to a pesky urge to pursue freelance journalism for seventeen years. Meanwhile, Fitter’s Mexican roots continued to call. City of Promises is the product of his curiosity to understand why the culture of our close neighbors is so distant from our own.

He lives in Toronto and whenever possible, in a sunny hillside casita in the colonial town of Taxco, Guerrero.

Author Links

Website Facebook Twitter Goodreads

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, April 14 Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Wednesday, April 16 Review at Book Nerd

Friday, April 18 Interview at Caroline Wilson Writes

Monday, April 21 Spotlight & Giveaway at The Bookworm

Wednesday, April 23 Guest Post at Layered Pages

Thursday, April 24 Interview at From the TBR Pile

Thursday, May 1 Review at Book Journey

Monday, May 5 Review & Giveaway at Closed the Cover

Wednesday, May 7 Guest Post at Jorie Loves a Story

Thursday, May 8 Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Friday, May 9 Review at Jorie Loves a Story Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

Monday, May 12 Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Thursday, May 15 Review at Reviews by Molly

City of Promises_Tour Banner_FINAL

 

Interview with Author Rebecca Lochlann

Rebecca

Rebecca Lochlann began envisioning the epic tale that has become The Child of the Erinyes series at a very early age. Getting it into the world has become her life’s work, although she didn’t exactly intend it to be that way. Her goal for the series is to create a new myth: one that offers the same flavor and unique magic as the Greek classics, yet which will interest modern readers. She has always believed that deities will sometimes speak to us through dreams and visions, gently prompting us to tell their lost stories.

Stephanie: Hello, Rebecca! Thank you for chatting with me today and congrats on the B.R.A.G. Medallion. Please tell me a little about your book, The Year-God’s Daughter.

Rebecca: Gladly, Stephanie, and let me thank you for this opportunity. I was over the moon to be awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion. What an honor! The Year-god’s Daughter kicks off my Child of the Erinyes series, a story that begins in the Bronze Age, on Crete and the Greek mainland, and ends in the near future. It follows the lives of the three main protagonists, along with their supporting characters, through time, as they experience history—not as queens, kings, and other VIPs, but common people like most of us, doing their best to survive and thrive with history happening around them.

In book one, the reader is introduced to Aridela, a younger princess on Crete, living a life of luxury in the great Knossos palace. We also meet two men from Mycenae who are seeking a way to overthrow this wealthy culture. All three think they know how their lives will unfold. They think they can manipulate the future to their own ends. They are very wrong.

Stephanie: How fascinating! I don’t believe I have read a story that takes place in Crete. Although I have always been interested in the Greek, Roman and Egypt history but not sure I would be able to write about them….their society, gods, traditions are so complex with such a wide range. However, I highly respect those who do. Were there any challenges and when did you first become interested in the Greeks?

Rebecca: Long ago, in elementary school, I found a children’s book in the library called D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths. Entranced by these delightful, imaginative tales, I read it many times, cover to cover. I might even say with some assurance that not only did this book get me interested in Greek myths, but it was the initial inspiration prompting me to write. From my very first reading, the stories in this book made me want to make up stories too.

There were indeed many challenges. Real, concrete knowledge about this time period is sketchy, often argued over by different factions of historians and archaeologists. That’s why I label the series “historical fantasy,” because I had to extrapolate and take liberties. Additionally, I was inspired as much by myth as historical documentation.

From the date and effects of the eruption of the Thera volcano, to what food the Cretans ate and how they dressed, to what their belief system might be, is all conjecture. Often, facts change with more advanced technology. I’m happy to say that so far, my research holds up to what is currently believed.

Stephanie: I’m one for finding inspiration in all things. My mind never shuts down….what was yours for this book?

Rebecca: Besides D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, I was also inspired by many other books, notably Moon, Moon (Anne Kent Rush) and Robert Graves’ Book of Greek Myths. Both sent my mind racing down new paths of imagination. In Graves’ book, I first learned that the famed “Ariadne,” of the well-known Cretan myth involving Theseus and the Minotaur, was originally called “Aridela,” and may have been considered a goddess rather than a mere mortal. What an amazing idea! I wondered why she was transformed (if indeed this is true). Carl Kerényi, another treasured author, theorizes that she was too powerful, too magnificent, and as time went by, she was deliberately diminished to suit a changing society who wanted their male gods to hold the most power. There is some evidence that this same diminishment was carried out on Athene, Hera, and other goddesses.

TYGD Layered Pages

Stephanie: What can you tell me about the period of time your story takes place in? Something that has really impacted you.

Rebecca: The fact that Crete was so sophisticated is fairly well accepted. Whether it was matriarchal or not is still debated, but that possibility inspired me. Many historians believe that women were very important in this society, whether rulers or not. It seemed to me this could be true, as Crete, being an island, was a bit removed from the other Mediterranean cultures. There’s evidence that Crete was far-reaching, and had outposts on Thera (Santorini), as well as other places, and may have traded regularly with ancient Britain. What impacted me the most was imagining what our present day world might be like right now, if Crete hadn’t been so damaged by outside events—the volcanic eruption and subsequent environmental disasters. These catastrophes made them vulnerable to attack and a complete overturn in power, and eventually, their culture was lost, lost to history, lost in every way, until relatively recently. Right now, much of western society is considered a product of ancient Athens, but what would things be like today if Crete had been the major influence? Athens was a tiny, inconsequential village when the society on Crete was enjoying its heyday, with sprawling palaces, enormous wealth, and widespread power. What if it was matriarchal, and the societies of today were influenced by that? As a woman, I find that intriguing with a capital “I.”

Stephanie: I noticed in your bio you joined with Erinyes Press to publish and distribute The Child of the Erinyes series, mythic fiction beginning in the Bronze Age. What an amazing project! Can you tell me a little about that?

Rebecca: I’m a control freak, I admit it. The advance of indie publishing was a perfect fit for me. For a long time I thought I’d missed the boat by spending so many years writing, then finding myself struggling with publishing houses who were cutting back, and unwilling to take chances on new authors. Now I believe Fate or Destiny was merely holding off for this indie movement. For one thing, my books are thoroughly entwined with each other: even in the first book, The Year-god’s Daughter, there are hints of future books, and vice-versa. It would be very difficult for editors and in-house marketing groups to know what to do with these books, taken on a one-by-one basis. Erinyes Press was the right answer. I, as the author, chief editor, and publisher, have all the control I have always desired.

Stephanie: When did you first begin to write and who are your influences?

Rebecca: My first story, a sci-fi fantasy, was written when I was seven. As an adult I’ve encountered many authors who began their career at age seven. What is it about the age of seven, I wonder?

So many influences! For historical fiction to be successful, it must find a way to combine research with writing that creates images and emotion in the reader’s mind, and characters the reader can root for. But I think it also requires an imagination that is formed by paying attention to modern life, so that the stories are relevant to today’s readers. My influences stretch clear back to when I first learned how to read and listen, so I will scratch the surface: pertaining to research and myth, Robert Graves, Jacquetta Hawkes, Barbara G. Walker, Carl Kerényi, and Charles Pellegrino, to name but a few. In the area of the kind of glorious writing I aspire to, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Patricia A. McKillip, Anita Diamant, Peter S. Beagle, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, and the unpublished work of Annia Lekka. I hope the series resonates with ordinary women just trying to survive and thrive as history happens around them, and perhaps offers new ways of seeing the female as a gender. I owe a great debt to the women who have shaped my outlook. Margaret Atwood, Anne Kent Rush, Maggie Smith, Carol P. Christ, Eleanor Roosevelt, Marija Gimbutas, and many others.

Stephanie: Have you written anything outside this genre?

Rebecca: The final books of the series take place in the future, so the “historical” label doesn’t apply. The final book in the series is more literary, with elements of magical realism.

Stephanie: Please tell me a little about your writing process?

Rebecca: I start early, with a quick perusal of social sites to see what’s going on in my online worlds, then I usually work (except when extremely tired or blocked) 12 to 14 hours a day. A lot of that time is taken up with research, and since all the books in the series are written, albeit in rough draft, my work is mostly slicing, polishing, changing and fleshing out. Marketing and promotion also takes its time. I work every day in one manner or another until my spouse grumbles enough. Then I put aside the computer and go reacquaint myself with life, (This occasionally includes a noxious interlude with a vacuum.)

Stephanie: How did you discover indieBRAG?

My author contacts are like moonbeams. They are many, varied, bright and generous. I am or have been a member of several writing groups, and when someone discovers a fantastic opportunity like indieBRAG, he or she always shares! Indie authors for the most part are a universe of wonderful give-and-take and support. Several members of my group, the Historical Fiction Authors Cooperative (HFAC), an international group of authors joined together to offer readers a selection of high-quality historical fiction, have been awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion!

Stephanie: Is there a message you would like to give to your readers?

Rebecca: I am humbled, honored, and grateful to those who have taken a chance on my story, who have taken time out of their lives to read my work. It’s a lifelong dream to put this tale out into the world: sharing it with others is amazing! Then to actually win awards, like the B.R.A.G. Medallion, has truly been one of the high points of my life. We authors invest more than can be imagined in our goals. I constantly work on this series, whether I’m at the computer or not. It consumes me. I can’t remember my last “vacation” from it. All that effort becomes worthwhile when even just one person appreciates what I’m trying to do.

Stephanie: Where can readers buy your book?

Rebecca: The series so far is available at every Amazon site across the world.

It’s also listed at Barnes & Noble and iTunes.

And here’s my website, which has handy links and lots of info on myth and research, Rebecca Lochlann

Thank you, Rebecca!

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Rebecca Lochlann, who is the author of The Year-God’s Daughter, one of our medallion at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, The Year-God’s Daughter merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

 

 

Interview with Author Joe Perrone Jr.

Broken Promises

When the body of Maggie McFarland, an 86-year old widow, is found among the rubble of the once-famous, landmark Artemis Hotel, leveled by fire nearly seventy years ago, residents of Roscoe are shocked. However, it is not the location where Maggie is found, but rather the manner of her demise that has everyone puzzled. For it isn’t a heart attack that has felled her; nor has she suffered a stroke, or taken a fatal fall from a porch. Her life has not ended so uneventfully. Maggie has been killed by a bullet to the heart, fired from a pistol at close range. Who would possibly want to kill this kind, gentle woman, known throughout the area as one of the best trout fly tiers within a hundred miles of the famed Beaverkill River? That is the mystery that confronts Matt Davis in Broken Promises, one of the most baffling cases of his career.

Stephanie: Hello, Joe! Thank you for chatting with me today and welcome. I’m am so delighted to hear that you have won the B.R.A.G. Medallion for a second time. Your story, Broken Promises sounds thrilling and I do love a good mystery. How did you decide on your victim to be an 86-year old widow and how she would be killed?

Joe: Oh, my, that’s a doozy. Well, I hate to admit it but the original idea for the story came to me after repeatedly observing an old abandoned house over many years in the area where I generally fish. Then, in 2012, while attending the Two-Headed Trout dinner in Roscoe, I happened to find out that one of the town’s oldest and most respected fly tyers had been born there. The woman was in her 80s, and I decided to use her as the inspiration for Maggie. As far as how she was killed, well, that probably came to me in my sleep—as most of my “brilliant” ideas usually do.

Stephanie: How neat that the abandoned house you observed turned out to be where fly tyers were born. What a perfect setting and idea for a story.

Does your story take place in a small town and who are some of the people close to Maggie? And can you tell me a little about them?

Joe: The bulk of the story takes place in the little upstate New York town of Roscoe, which is a real place with about 500 permanent residents. It is known affectionately as Trout Town USA. The “real” Roscoe does not have a chief of police, nor does it have its own police force. Those were created by yours truly. However, I do have one repeating character, Frank Kuttner, who is a real local celebrity of sorts. He owns Kuttner’s Fly Shop in the nearby town of Livingston Manor. It is to him that Matt often goes for some common sense insight and advice.

The only person really close to Maggie is her granddaughter, with whom she lives. She’s known casually by all the local townspeople and the fly fishermen who purchase flies from her.

Stephanie: How fascinating and I have always wanted to visit upstate New York and you make it sound even more interesting than I originally thought.

Tell me about Matt Davis. Does he live in the same town? And how many cases has he worked on?

Joe: Matt Davis began his career in law enforcement as a homicide detective in New York City. When he was nearly killed on his last case in As the Twig is Bent, he decided to take early retirement and was offered the job of chief of police of Roscoe, where he used to go to fish the Beaverkill River. As part of his compensation package, he was given the use of a lovely cottage in town. He is married to Valerie, his second wife, who is a school nurse in the nearby town of Walton. Matt is a soft-spoken kind of man, sensitive to his wife’s needs, and inclined to live and let live. He is not particularly savvy when it comes to technology, and relies upon his intuition and “people smarts” to solve most of his cases. When you ask how many cases he has worked on, I am assuming you mean those that have been the subject of the four books to date, so I guess the answer would be four.

Stephanie: You say in your book description that this case is most baffling to Matt. Is it because of how Maggie died? Or because he knows the widow and can’t understand why anyone would want to harm her?

Joe: Probably a bit of both. After all, it’s not every day that an old woman is found shot through the heart—especially since she was well liked and had no apparent enemies. Generally, with most murder cases, there are some clues, some identifiable probable suspects. But in this case, there is nothing at all to go on.

Stephanie: How do you come up with and create your characters? Do they often surprise you or do things you don’t expect them to do?

Joe: Usually, the first thing I come up with is a germ of an idea for the story. Often I will be inspired by a news article, or perhaps a book that I have read. Then, it kind of sits there in my mind, until once day it just bubbles to the surface as a complete plot. Since we’re talking about a series, many of the characters are already in existence, except for those directly connected to the new crime. I get a lot of “writing” done in my sleep, and will often wake up at three or four in the morning and hurry into the kitchen to write down everything I can before I forget it.

Once I have the characters in my mind, the first thing I do is come up with a title. Then, I design the cover (I design all my own book covers). Finally, I design the paperback book in terms of selecting a font and laying out the page. And then, it’s off to the races. Even though I have a general idea for how the story should unfold, my characters often dictate “precisely” where it ends up. They most definitely do surprise me on occasion.

Stephanie: You definitely have the creative mind. Writers never stop thinking, our minds do not shut down.

Are there any challenges to writing mystery? How did you learn to or did it just come to you?

The biggest challenge for me is the plot, and maintaining a level of tension so the reader will want to continue to turn the pages. It definitely did not come naturally to me, but is something that I have worked very hard at, learning my craft with each successive book. I read every article I can about writing mysteries, and try to learn from them.

Stephanie: How long did it take you to work on Broken Promise?

Joe: Broken Promises took the better part of a year to write.

Stephanie: Will there be another Mat Davis mystery?

Joe: Most definitely yes, although I am giving Matt a bit of a rest right now while I work on a stand-alone thriller called Getting Even!. I expect to publish that in 2015. I already have the plot for the next Matt Davis mystery and a working title that I will announce after I publish Getting Even! I anticipate publishing the next Matt Davis mystery in 2016.

Stephanie: Ooo….tell me a little about, Getting Even. If you don’t mind.

Joe: Horace Whittaker is a recently widowed FBI Special Agent, facing mandatory retirement. Only months away from leaving the Bureau, he is assigned to a case involving a serial killer who is roaming the Interstate highway system. The relationship becomes personal after a while, and a cat and mouse contest ensues. I am consulting with both an active and a retired FBI agent on technical aspects of this book.

Stephanie: I noticed in your bio you are an avid fisherman. Can you please tell me about that?

Joe: I am an avid fly fisherman! I have been fly fishing for over 40 years, and have been tying my own flies for most of that time. In addition to fly fishing for trout (my true passion), I have, at times, also fished in saltwater for bluefish and striped bass, and in freshwater for largemouth bass. Since moving to North Carolina nearly 15 years ago, my opportunities for saltwater and lake fishing have been minimal. At one time, for nearly 10 years, I was a professional fly-fishing guide on the Beaverkill River in and around Roscoe. Because I have been going there for nearly 40 years, it was only natural that I chose Roscoe as the setting for my series. One of the biggest honors of my life occurred in spring of 2012, when the Roscoe Chamber of Commerce, in recognition of my series, invited me to be its “celebrity first caster” on the opening day of trout season.

Stephanie: Where in your home do you like to write and who are your influences?

Joe: I do all my writing in an office area, which is situated in the finished basement of my home. I share the space with my two cats, Cassie and Callie, whose litter boxes are located within “smelling distance” of my computer. Alongside and at right angles to my computer hutch is a roll-top desk, which is where I tie my trout flies. There is an exterior door with a multi-paned window that provides lot of natural light during the daylight hours. Between my writing and working on promotion and my publishing consulting business, I probably spend at least 12 hours a day at my computer.

I can’t really say that I’ve been “influenced” by any other writers in particular, with the one possible exception of the late William G. Tapply, whose Brady Coyne character was a lawyer, as well as an avid fly fisherman. I also learned a great deal from his book, The Elements of Mystery Fiction: Writing the Modern Whodunit. My wife, Becky, probably has had the most input into my work, and it is she who is my muse. Without her encouragement, help with plots, and constructive criticism, it is doubtful that I would ever have published one book, let alone the seven I have written to date.

Stephanie: What is the number one best thing about writing mystery?

Joe: I think the number one thing for me is actually two things: credible, natural-sounding dialogue; and realistic, universal characters whom readers can identify with.

Stephanie: Agreed on every score.

Is there a message you would like to give to your readers?

Joe: I wish that more readers would take the time to write and post reviews on Amazon.com and other websites—especially if they really enjoy the books. Naturally, I would hope that they would keep in mind the old adage “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Also, I can’t speak for other authors, but I love to hear from my readers. I have “email me” buttons throughout my website, and I always respond to correspondence. I write a blog, and nothing pleases me more than when my subject matter engenders comments from readers. My blog address is http://www.joetheauthor.wordpress.com, and my email address is: joetheauthor@joeperronejr.com. Readers can find me on Twitter @authorjoep.

Stephanie: Where can readers buy your book?

Joe: All four Matt Davis Mysteries, As the Twig is Bent, Opening Day, Twice Bitten, and, of course, Broken Promises are available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon.com. A few are also available for Nook from Barnes & Noble. As the Twig is Bent and Opening Day are also in audiobook from Audible.com, and Twice Bitten and Broken Promises are currently in production and should be available this summer.

Thank you, Joe!

Joe P Jr

Joe Perrone Jr is an author whose diverse background includes time spent as a sportswriter for a prominent New Jersey newspaper, the Passaic-Clifton Herald News, and also as a freelance advertising copywriter. In addition, he has had numerous short stories published in the Mid-Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide. From 1989-1999, Joe was a professional fly fishing guide on the historic Beaverkill River, located in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of New York State. The nearby town of Roscoe, dubbed Trout Town USA, serves as the setting for three of Joe’s four Matt Davis mysteries: Opening Day (a 2012 Indie BRAG medallion recipient), Twice Bitten, and now Broken Promises (the first in the series was As the Twig is Bent, published in early 2009). In addition to the Matt Davis mysteries, Joe also authored a fifth novel, Escaping Innocence: A Story of Awakening, a hilarious yet poignant look at coming of age in the tumultuous Sixties. His non-fiction works are: A “Real” Man’s Guide to Divorce (First, you bend over and…) and Gone Fishin’ with Kids (How to Take Your Kid Fishing and Still be Friends), which was co-authored with friend Manny Luftglass.

When not writing, blogging, or working with clients as part of his publishing consulting business, Escarpment Press, Joe enjoys fly fishing, fly tying, cooking (and eating), and listening to music (anything but rap or hip hop). Presently, Joe lives with his wife of 32 years, Becky, and the couple’s two cats, Cassie and Callie, in the mountains of western North Carolina.

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Joe Perrone Jr., who is the author ofBroken Promises, one of our medallion at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Broken Promises merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

 

Interview with Author Janis Kearney

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Janis F. Kearney, publisher, author, oral historian and literacy advocate, is one of 19 children born to Arkansas Delta sharecroppers, and cotton farmers. She graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville with a B.A. in Journalism, and completed 30 graduate level hours at UA Fayetteville, and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, in public administration, and Journalism.

Kearney went to work for Civil Rights legend Daisy Gatson Bates’ award-winning Arkansas State Press in 1987, as Managing Editor. In 1988, she became Publisher/Owner of the Newspaper. In 1993, she took a sabbatical from the newspaper to work with the Clinton Administration in Washington, DC, where she served in the roles of: White House Media Specialist, the White House; Communications Director, US Small Business Administration, and Personal Diarist to President William Jefferson Clinton, the White House Oval Office Staff.

She was selected in 2001, for a two-year W.E.B. Du Bois Fellowship at Harvard University’s Center for African and African American Studies; in 2003, for a two-year appointment as Chancellor’s Lecturer at Chicago City Colleges; In 2005, for a two-year appointment as Humanities Fellow at Chicago’s DePaul University Center for the Humanities; and in 2007, a one-year Visiting Humanities and Political Science Professorship at Arkansas State University (ASU).

Kearney and her husband Bob J. Nash have three children and three grandchildren. They co-founded, Writing our World Publishing (WOW! Press), a micropublishing company, in 2004. WOW! Press publications include: Cotton Field of Dreams: A Memoir; Quiet Guys Do Great Things, Too – as told by Frank Ross; Conversations: William Jefferson Clinton…from Hope to Harlem: Once Upon a Time there was a Girl: a Murder at Mobile Bay; Something to Write Home About: Memories from a Presidential Diarist; Black Classical Musicians in Philadelphia, by Elaine Mack; and Daisy: Between a Rock and a Hard Place, a biography of civil rights leader Daisy Lee Bates. Kearney’s most recent memoir, Sundays with TJ: 100 Years of Memories on Varner Road, features the late TJ Kearney, 107-year old Kearney patriarch, and debuts Spring 2014.

Stephanie: Thank you for chatting with me today and welcome, Janis. It is an honor and I am delighted to hear you are a B.R.A.G. Honoree. I was thrilled to see that you won the medallion for the biography you write about a civil rights leader, Daisy Lee Gatson. Not only do I like reading biographies but about strong females in history. Please tell me a little about your book, Daisy: Between a Rock and a Hard Place.

Janis:Thank you! It’s a wonderful honor.My books will wear the B.R.A.G. medallion with pride!   Daisy: Between a Rock and a Hard Place is a biography of a great American who happened to be black, and female – which is not how America’s civil rights leaders are most often seen. She was someone who contributed so much to America’s civil rights effort, but was not given the credit or recognition she deserved. In writing this book, I wanted to “toot Daisy’s horn,” since so few people have done it before. I began researching this book some 10 years ago, but decided I wanted to write her story far back as 20 years earlier. Even after her own memoir, “Long Shadow over Little Rock,” received the National Book Award in the mid-eighties.

Stephanie: It is truly wonderful you are giving the recognition she deserves. Not only for the America’s civil rights effort but for honoring her memory.

What do you think, Daisy was most proud of in her life?

Janis: It would be hard to point to any one of Daisy’s achievements with any definitive knowledge – especially given her long life; but I do believe she was extremely proud of her role in the 1957 Central High Integration efforts, more commonly known as the Little Rock Central High Crisis. As a woman, and a southerner, and African American…this was unheard of. Yet, she found the courage and steadfastness in her beliefs that allowed her to do what no other person in Arkansas dared do. She stepped out on faith when the NAACP asked her to lead the integration effort of Arkansas’ most prominent all-white high school; going against the status quo; and against what good and not-so good white Arkansans thought was right for their children, and what many blacks believed could have waited until another time.

Stephanie: What a courageous and admirable woman she was.

What was the most profound accomplishment of Daisy’s you were moved by?

Janis: I do think Daisy’s role in the 1957 Integration Crisis would be one of her most profound accomplishments. This beautiful, petite woman who dared buck the establishment – black and white – by leading, questioning, demanding what was only just and right is certainly something she could be proud of. But, then, something just as profound – and, something that she, nor anyone else wouldhave expected to happen was Daisy Bates’ role during the 1963 March on Washington. Daisy was the only woman to speak on that history-changing day! This small woman from a mill town in Arkansas, spoke before hundreds of thousands of people about her role in the civil rights effort. Even though it was a last minute decision, it was a profound change for the civil rights effort.   Even when I share this tidbit of history with audiences around the country, absolutely no one seems to have realized that Daisy Bates played a role in that historic day. When I look at the scope of what happened that day, I think this had to be one of her most profound accomplishments.

Daisy

Stephanie: Can you please give me an example of a hardship she endured? And how we today in society can learn from?

Janis: There isn’t enough space to name the many hardships she endured as an African American in southwest Arkansas. Imagine the time – she was born in 1914. Imagine the racial climate at that time – legal segregation, racial oppression, sub-quality education (poorly maintained physical buildings, second-hand books, and little opportunities to go further than 8th grade). Where she went, where she shopped, where she ate were all restrictive. She writes poignantly of the most obtrusive example of racism, when she went to purchase meat for her mother to cook her father’s favourite meal and the white butcher told her that `niggers have a place and it was at the back of the line, never in front of a white person.’

Stephanie: If I was in that butchers line and heard him say that to her, I would have….well. There is so much I would have said to the man, if he could be called a man…

Janis, I read in your book description that Daisy was an orphan. Did she ever discover who her parents were? Can you tell me a little about her childhood?

Janis: Yes, Daisy did learn who her parents were – in the worst way that a child can learn such a thing – from another child. She was unaware that she was an orphan until she was 8 or nine years old. A classmate at school told her that her father had run away and left her with the Smith family after Daisy’s mother was allegedly raped and killed by white men. This realization greatly impacted her childhood, and her decision to become a civil rights advocate and leader. While she had been a happy child up until she experienced the discrimination from the butcher, and learned the truth of her parents; those two experiences were life-changing for her. During most of her pre-teen years, she would hate whiteswith the same intensity that she would eventually fight for justice, equality, equal education for children, and civil rights for the disenfranchised.

Stephanie: How much research was involved for your book and did you make any new discoveries about the south you didn’t know before hand?

Janis: My research includes both personal documents collected during the years I worked for and with Daisy Bates; and documents secured from public archives. I spent roughly six months visiting two Institutions that own the majority of the Bates papers. I did a great deal of research at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville’s Special Collection; and the Wisconsin Historical Museum, which holds a large archive of Daisy and L.C. Bates’ earliest papers. There was little new that I learned about the south except that Mississippi, L.C. Bates native home; was far more racially discriminatory than Arkansas.

Stephanie: What are the challenges to writing biographies?

Janis: The challenge to writing a biography about someone you know, or someone who the general public holds in high esteem, is remaining objective; writing the truth whether it paints a less rosy picture than some might want to read. To balance the not-so-rosy truths, it is always good to offer readers contextual information that allows them to see a broader picture of why things may have been as they were; why this great person acted in a not-so upright way at one point in their lives.

Stephanie: What advice can you give to someone who wants to write a biography?

Janis: Even when you think you know enough about a person you’re writing about, do more research. There is always more you can learn. I always strive to find information that no one has shared with readers before. There are a handful of other books about Daisy Bates published. I made it a point to read them first, so that I was not merely repeating what they had written. I really do think the key in writing about a person who has been written about one, five or many times before; is to write your story in a slant no one has thought of,before. Allow yourreaders to see another side to this person they thought they knew everything about!

Stephanie: Are you working on another book right now?

Janis: Actually, we just published my next book. It is “Sundays with TJ: 100 Years of Memories of Varner Road.” It is a memoir/biography. I am writing about my father’s amazing life – his early years as a drifter who chose to see the country before settling down to become a sharecropper, husband and father to 19 children. He would become a well-respected church and community leader. He died in December, just three months before my book was published, at 107-years old. It debuts this month (April, 2014)

Stephanie: That is wonderful! Congratulations on your latest book. How rewarding and neat to write about your father’s life.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Janis: I was no more than nine years old when I decided I wanted to be a writer. (I’m told that at the age of nine, I told my parents I was an adult, and commenced to make decisions about my future). My love for stories as well as my reverence for books came from my father.

He loved telling his children stories, and was the world’s best storyteller. I fell in love with storytelling at his knee, as a child.

Stephanie: What do you like most about writing?

Janis: The fact that it allows me to go to places inside myself that I find it impossible to go, otherwise. While the books, once published, takes me outside myself, and actually talk to people about the story; the actual writing of them forces me to go inside, and learn more about who I am. That’s nonfiction. Fiction is different. Doesn’t demand a lot of me. I love it because it is simple, unadulterated FUN. You’re not so much getting inside or outside yourself when you write novels; you’re creating something out of nothing – pulling a rabbit from your hat. I love creating stories, characters, plots…I love it all!

Stephanie: How did you discover indieBRAG?

Janis: I think I discovered indieBRAG from one of the authors’ sites I visit regularly. Unfortunately, I can’t say which, but I was intrigued enough to go to the site and send in a book for review. My luck! I love the fact that there are organizations such as IndieBRAG that care enough about the work that we Indie writers do, to actually recognize us individually.

Stephanie: Is there a message you would like to give to your readers?

Janis: My message is that as a writer, my stories come from my heart…whether they’re nonfiction or fiction. I am issues-driven, and have to feel passionate about an issue to include it in my story line. I am also very drawn to strong, interesting characters. I don’t have to necessarily like a character I create, but I have to find them extremely captivating before I place them front and center in my story. I can’t speak for all writers, but I also think most of us work hard to offer readers quality work, stories worth spending your money on, and worth spending part of your day or night, reading. So, keep reading. You make what we do worthy. But, also tell us when you read our books and either like them, or think we should have done something a little different. Writers love feedback from readers.

Stephanie: Where can readers but your books?

Janis: If you go to our publishing company’s website – Writing our World Press – you can purchase my books from our e-store

Most of my books can also be purchased – even if they’re not readily in stock, they can be ordered – at most local and independent bookstores, as well as mainstream bookstores.

Thank you, Janis for a deeply moving and wonderful talk with you today. Words cannot express how much your story and thoughts has impacted me. Please come and talk with me again soon!

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Janis Kearney who is the author of Daisy: Between a Rock and a Hard Place, one of our medallion at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Daisy: Between a Rock and a Hard Place merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

 

Interview with Author D.W. Bradbridge

The Winter Siege

D.W. Bradbridge was born in 1960 and grew up in Bolton. He has lived in Crewe, Cheshire since 2000, where he and his wife run a small magazine publishing business for the automotive industry.

“The inspiration for The Winter Siege came from a long-standing interest in genealogy and local history. My research led me to the realisation that the experience endured by the people of Nantwich during December and January 1643-44 was a story worth telling. I also realised that the closed, tension-filled environment of the month-long siege provided the ideal setting for a crime novel.

“History is a fascinating tool for the novelist. It consists only of what is remembered and written down, and contemporary accounts are often written by those who have their own stories to tell. But what about those stories which were forgotten and became lost in the mists of time?

“In writing The Winter Siege, my aim was to take the framework of real history and fill in the gaps with a story of what could, or might have happened. Is it history or fiction? It’s for the reader to decide.”

For more information please visit D.W. Bradbridge’s website. You can also find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Hello D.W.! Welcome to Layered Pages and it is an honor to be chatting with you today. Please tell me about your story, The Winter Siege.

The Winter Siege is a traditional murder mystery novel set against the backdrop of the English Civil War. The main character, Daniel Cheswis, is a small businessman from the town of Nantwich, who is fulfilling his duty to act as the town constable when war arrives. The town, which supports Parliament, is under threat of siege by the royalists, and when local people start being found murdered with red scarves tied around their bodies (the sign of a royalist), Daniel has to identify the murderer before the town is attacked by the royalist army.

It is not often I read about this period and Charles I. When did you first become interested in this period and subject?

I studied the English Civil War at my high school many years ago, so I guess I’ve been interested since childhood. However, I began to revisit the subject a few years ago when I moved to Nantwich. I volunteered to help organize the annual Civil War re-enactment that takes place here each year and through that I realized that the events surrounding the Siege and Battle of Nantwich were a story worth re-telling.

Is there a battle scene(s) in your story? If so, did you find it a challenge to write about it?

Yes, I do describe the course of the Battle of Nantwich, although, to be honest, the description of the battle itself is relatively incidental to the rest of the plot. The Winter Siege is not a blood and guts style military story in the Bernard Cornwell vein. I preferred to focus on the murder mystery and the personal experience of the main character.

Please tell me a little about your main character. What are his weaknesses and strengths?

Daniel Cheswis is somewhat reserved and often finds himself being dragged into things against his better judgment. He is also wary of romantic relationships, having been betrayed by a woman he loved as a young man. He really just wants to get on with his life and run his businesses without the hassle of having to be the town constable, but he is reluctantly dragged into solving the murders by the course of events. Daniel is a likeable character, loyal and honest, and he turns out to be rather good at solving crimes, but he is by no means perfect and his willingness to please everyone results in him making commitments he really shouldn’t.

What do you like most about history?

One of the things which has fascinated me about history is that it consists of a series of eye witness accounts, not all of which can be trusted – so you can never be sure what really happened. What I tried to do with The Winter Siege was to write a very detailed history of the events surrounding the Siege and Battle of Nantwich as well as some accurate descriptions of life in the town at that time. I then tried to weave the fictional story in among the history, with the aim of challenging the reader to decide what real history is and what fiction is.

Who are your influences?

Reading CJ Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake novels was what initially inspired me to write something in this genre but the likes of Wilkie Collins, Agatha Christie and Ellis Peters have also been influential.

What are you working on now?

I’m about half way through the second Daniel Cheswis mystery, which will be called A Soldier of Substance and will see Daniel following the course of the Civil War through Chester and various parts of Lancashire. Hopefully the sequel will be published by the end of the year.

Where in your home do you like to write?

Anywhere where I can get some peace and quiet! I need to be alone when I write in order to immerse myself properly into the action. I find the best place to do that is my conservatory, which is very peaceful and looks out onto my back garden.

Is there a message you would like to give to your readers?

Just a big thank you to those people who have invested their hard earned money in my work so far. I truly appreciate it, and I hope it gives some insight into a period of history, which I find truly fascinating. I’m always open to interaction with readers, so if anyone has any comments to make, positive or negative, about The Winter Siege, please feel free to contact me via my website.

Buy the Book

Amazon US Amazon UK Barnes & Noble

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, April 7 Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, April 8 Review at Must Read Faster

Wednesday, April 9 Review at Staircase Wit

Friday, April 11 Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews

Monday, April 14 Review at Princess of Eboli

Wednesday, April 16 Review at Caroline Wilson Writes Interview at Layered Pages

Thursday, April 17 Interview at MK McClintock Blog Review & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Friday, April 18 Review at bookramblings Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Tour Hashtag: #WinterSiegeTour

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Interview with Author H.H. Miller

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H. H. Miller is the author of the novel Inscription, a historically fictional romantic adventure. In real life, she’s content director at Stoke Strategy, a brand strategy firm in Seattle, Washington, where she specializes in transforming what some might call “boring” technology jargon into compelling, readable, memorable stories. Her favorite escape is Manzanita, Oregon – a place of beautiful beaches, wild storms, chilly nights around the bonfire (even in July), and time to enjoy life with her husband and three children.

Stephanie: Hello, H.H. Welcome to Layered Page and thank you for chatting with me today. Please tell me about your story, INSCRIPTION, where the story takes place and how you came up with your title.

H.H: Inscription is the story of a 20-year-old young woman in 1851 who’s life is turned upside down by people and events beyond her control: vindictive soldiers, scheming relatives, and, of course, the hero she falls in love with.

It takes place in a fictional country called Mainland. I’ve always loved historical fiction set in England, but it’s been done – and done very well – by many others. I was intrigued by the idea of imagining a world where the time period and customs were familiar, but the story was unconstrained by actual history. I was free to create places, characters, and events as I wished them to be without regard for the way things actually were. Thus, I have no idea how long it would have taken to get from London to Bath by coach in real life 1851, but I know it was a half-day ride on horseback from Oakside to Algonia in Mainland.

As for the title, I wanted something that evoked a feeling of mystery and history . . . parchment, quills, cryptic clues, wax seals, secrets of the past, adventure. Also, it needed to be catchy, simple, and not already taken!

Stephanie: I’m always finding inspiration for stories all around me. What was yours for this story?

H.H: I’ve always been an avid reader, but I fell into a reading rut about two years ago. I just couldn’t find a book I LOVED. You know the kind . . . where you just want to drop everything and spend the whole day immersed in the life and times of your favorite characters. I’d had this nugget of an idea for a story rambling around in my head, and I finally decided if I couldn’t find a book I wanted to read, I’d write one myself. I guess you could say necessity was the mother of invention.

Stephanie: Why 1851 and what do you find fascinating about this period?

H.H: Maybe I was born in the wrong century, because I’d love to live in the time of corsets and gloves, carriage wheels splashing through puddles, romance and obligation, mud and horses. On the other hand, there were definitely some stifling and often downright hazardous aspects to life in 1851, both physical and societal. One misstep – whether in the wilderness or in the ballroom – could have severe consequences. It’s a great backdrop for illuminating someone’s true character, their goodness, grit, cowardice, bravery, or integrity in the face of challenges. I like creating conflict by putting characters in settings where they are forced to make uncomfortable choices.

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Stephanie: What are some of the historical aspects of this story and what are the fictional?

H.H: Well, the locations are entirely fictional. Mainland looks a lot like England, with a dash of the Oregon Coast and Cascade Mountains thrown in for variety. From a historical standpoint, the customs and characters are fairly true to form for the time period.

Stephanie: What research went into this story and did you do any travelling?

H.H: That’s the great part about writing “fictional” historical fiction. You don’t need to do a lot of research! I’ve read a lot about the time period, so I had a rich base for imagining what life might have been like. I also lived in England for a few months (many years ago).

Stephanie: Was there a particular scene you found a challenge to write?

H.H: Yes! The scene in the hayloft with Tom and Caris made me blush the entire time I was writing it. Also, I re-wrote the opening chapter countless times.

 

Stephanie: What was your writing process for this story and how long did it take you to complete it?

H.H: I began scribbling down ideas during the car ride home to Seattle from the Oregon Coast. My husband drove, my kids retreated inside their headphones, and I typed for four hours straight. That was right after New Year’s Day 2013. My notes turned into a sort of messy, disjointed outline as I began to organize the flow of events. I didn’t worry about the writing. I didn’t edit or censor or try to make it sound good. I just spilled it all out as if I were telling it to a friend. “And then she did this, and then he said that . . .” That mish-mash became the basis for “what happens” in the story. From there, I took it scene by scene and began to actually write it, fleshing out the characters, events, and dialog as I went along. By mid-year I had a first draft. Then it was six more months of refinement and re-writes before it was finished.

Stephanie: What do you love most about writing?

H.H: The way the characters come to life, sometimes in unexpected ways. I’ve heard other authors talk about this, but I was actually surprised when I realized one of my characters had murdered someone.

Stephanie: Who are your influences?

H.H: J. K. Rowling, Diana Gabaldon, Jane Austen, Dan Brown, Charlotte Bronte, Alexandre Dumas. Weird assortment, I know, but I love them all for different reasons, and I took a bit of something from each.

Stephanie: What are you working on now?

H.H: I keep a file with notes and ideas for a sequel to Inscription, but I’m not quite ready to crack into it yet. I also have a real job as content director for a brand strategy firm, so that keeps me pretty busy.

Stephanie: Is there a message you would like to give to your readers?

H.H: I love feedback. Good or bad, every comment helps me to be a better writer. Visit me at http://www.facebook.com/hhmillerbooks and share your thoughts. Thank you!

Buy the Book

Amazon (eBook) Amazon (Paperback)

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, April 14 Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, April 15 Interview at Layered Pages Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, April 16 Review & Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Thursday, April 17 Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair Spotlight & Giveaway on Passages to the Past

Friday, April 18 Review at Jorie Loves a Story

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