Interview with Award Winning Author J.F. Rogers

JF Rogers BRAG

I’d like to welcome award winning author J.F. Rogers today. J.F. armors up in the Word of truth daily to battle as a church office administrator, a wife, and a mom with a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Science. She is a health nut, a recovered troubled teen, and is consistently inconsistent. But, most importantly, she is a believer in the one true God and can say with certainty—you are loved.

Thank you for chatting with me today, J.F.! Please tell me how you discovered indieBRAG.

Thanks, Stephanie! This is my first interview. So, exciting…

I discovered IndieBRAG through K.M. Weiland’s blog Helping Writers Become Authors. She wrote a post wrapping up 2016 and noted awards her novels had received. One was the BRAG Medallion.

Please tell me about your book, Astray.

Astray

Astray is a spiritual journey. Fallon is a troubled teen with little to no love in her life. She’s existing. The story unfolds on her 17th birthday when she receives a necklace that belonged to her deceased mother. That very day, she’s chased by a wolf through the woods, knocks herself unconscious running into a branch, and wakes in another realm. In Ariboslia she encounters strange creatures, learns more about herself and finds something she’s always longed for—family. But she also must face the vampire-like creatures, fasgadair, that are killing or enslaving the people, farming them for their blood. Fallon must face the prophecy that devastated her family and destroy the fasgadair’s leader, her uncle. But it’s something she can’t do alone, and there is much she must learn along the way.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

Astray was originally entitled Ariboslia, for the world I’d created. But once I realized it was going to be a series, Ariboslia became the name of the series. I came up with Astray, Adrift, and Aloft for the titles within the series. Astray is fitting for the first novel because Fallon is lost. Off the path. Though she hasn’t a clue. Once trapped in Ariboslia she truly understands just how lost she is. But that’s the starting point for finding her way.

Who designed your book cover?

I came up with the concept and found the pictures and fonts. Unfortunately, I don’t know photoshop…yet. So my friend, Kara May LaPierre, lent her amazing graphic design skills to create the cover.

What age is this story geared towards?

Astray was intended for teen/young adult girls. Interestingly enough, it seems to appeal most to middle-aged women. I’ve received great feedback from men too.

Please tell me a little about Fallon Webb and how you came up with that name.

The majority of the names in Astray are Irish/Gaelic. I get the names from baby name websites. I try to find names with meanings that fit the character. In Fallon’s case, I liked the sound of it for multiple reasons. For one, it sounds like fallen…which she was. The other I don’t want to give away since it may be a spoiler to any potential readers out there. I chose her last name, Webb, because as I was envisioning her story and her backstory, delving into her family and their past, I found so many connections…like a web.

What is one of the skills she must learn for her quest?

Fallon must learn to trust. She comes from a broken family, raised by a grandmother who resents her. She has only one friend, Stacy. Despite their friendship, Fallon doesn’t fully trust Stacy either. She trusts no one.

How did you come to write this story?

That is a long story. The idea first came to me back in high school, sparked by Queensryche’s song Silent Lucidity.  “There’s a place I like to hide, a doorway that I run through in the night.” Those words, along with the haunting melody, stirred my imagination about other worlds. I tried to write the story many times over the years, but each attempt failed. Much later, a few years following my divorce, after I’d lost my job and all seemed hopeless, I returned to Christ. At that point, the book practically wrote itself.

What was your writing process and how long did it take to write your story?

Try as I might to be an outliner, I’ve come to accept the fact that I’m a pantser. I write by sitting down and writing by the seat of my pants. Of course, the final period on the final sentence in the final paragraph isn’t the end. Many readers provided feedback and I made many adjustments. My critique partners went through each chapter. And I made many more adjustments. Then my editor went over it which resulted in a whole slew of adjustments. Then I took the advice of a publisher, Steve Laube, and added 20, 000 more words and repeated the process… I’d say it took almost a year to write. A couple of years to edit. Another couple of years to add another 20K words and critique/edit again. Then a couple of years sitting on it, discouraged, before finally self-publishing it. In other words, a long time.

Where can readers buy your book?

Astray is available in paperback and e-book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It’s also available as e-book in iTunes, Kobo, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Inkterra, Smashwords, !ndigo, and Mondadori.

How did you get into writing in the Fantasy genre?

Fantasy is the best! I love reading books of many genres. But to me, reading is an escape from reality. When I escape, I want to be transported into another world that no amount of money could allow me to visit. I want to enter the world of someone’s imagination. That is what I hope to do for my readers.

How many books will be in this series?

I plan on having three in this series. I may go back and write prequels since there is so much backstory that will never make it into these books. And Fallon’s parents and grandparents have quite fascinating stories as well. Perhaps I should make them known…

How did you come to be a writer?

I’ve wanted to write all my life. It’s my escape. When I was little I would write stories about secret passageways to lands full of candy. As much as I love reading other peoples’ stories, I love being able to escape, at any time, into my own imagination. It’s a gift God has given me…as protection, for healing, and for pure enjoyment.

Thank you, J.F! Please visit with me again at Layered Pages!

Thanks so much for having me, Stephanie!

Author Website

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview J.F. Rogers who is the author of, Astray, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, 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, Astray, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

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Award Winning Book: Flank Street by A.J. Sendall

Me IIAs you all are aware of this summer I am selecting award winning books from the indieBRAG Library to add to my reading pile and to feature on Layered Pages. Today I have selected Flank Street. I love a good thriller and this one looks fantastic! If you would like to purchase this story, click on the title and it will take you directly to the indieBRAG, where you will see the buying links.

IndieBRAG’s mission is to discover talented self-published authors and help them give their work the attention and recognition it deserves. Their primary focus is fiction across a wide range of genres; however, they selectively consider non-fiction books.

Authors, if you feel your book can meet indieBRAG’s high standards, they encourage you to nominate it, but they cannot make any guarantees that it will pass either the initial screening or the subsequent review by their readers. On average, only 10-15% of the books they consider are awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion and are presented on their website and promoted on various social media sites.

Conversely, they do not make public the titles of any books or the names of their authors that have been reviewed but were not selected to receive a B.R.A.G. Medallion.

This award is an honor indeed!

Flank Street

Synopsis

I didn’t set out to write about Micky, or Carol, come to that… but this is how it happened.
The rain was falling steadily, running down the small, below ground-level window, which is the only source of natural light in the boiler-room where I write. For some obscure reason it reminded me of a rain-soaked street in Sydney, Australia; a street I’ve walked down many times, both wet and dry.

As I held that image in the back of my eyelids, a man appeared. Yellow streetlights reflected from the wet tarmac; he walked in the shadow of the plane trees, pulling his hood up against the unrelenting rain. He stopped, leaned against a tree, and waited. Right at that moment, I knew what I had to do.

I didn’t know Micky, but I’ve known guys like him, and so his character was soon defined; a grifter that could never amount to much without living in the shadows.

I hope you enjoy reading Flank Street, I certainly had fun writing it, and missed the daily interactions with Micky and Carol when it was finished. And I hope that one day I can sit and have a drink with them again… one day.

~~~~~~~~~

When Micky DeWitt sails into Sydney, Australia, his only assets are a run-down yacht, his wits, and the skills he’s picked up as a dedicated career criminal.

Shiftless, cynical and dishonest, even with himself, Micky takes a job as a barman in Sydney’s seedy red light district of Kings Cross. He’s a chameleon, seeing himself as both master criminal and chilled-out world sailor. He wants a life on Easy Street, is driven by the desire to ‘get away with it,’ and addicted to the adrenaline rush that comes with that life.

Carol Todd is turned on by money and risk-taking. For Carol, there’s no such thing as “enough”. Being an escort to a few wealthy clients is just a means to an end. A couple of underworld connections help, too. But what she needs for her latest con is a fall guy—someone she can use and lose once she’s done with him. And Micky DeWitt looks like the perfect man to fall into her sultry, seductive honey trap.
Playing to Micky’s twisted sense of chivalry, Carol leads him into a hedonistic free-fall. As Micky’s life spins out of control it doesn’t take long to graduate from burglary to arson, then accessory to murder. And no matter which way he moves, someone’s going to get hurt… or die.

“Suspenseful, pithy, unpredictable, and laced with black humour, Flank Street perfectly captures the mood of Sydney’s criminal underworld.”

About A.J. Sendall

A.J. Sendall

I’ve always written, as far back as I can recall anyway. Until 2011, that writing was just for me, or as rambling letters to friends, and travelogues to family. I never thought about why, or if others did similarly, and the thought of publishing never entered my head. Since I left England in 1979, I’ve travelled widely, collecting experiences, people, and places as I did so. From the blood-soaked streets of Kampala, the polluted dust bowls of the Sahara, or the pristine ice floes of the Antarctic, I’ve gathered and filed them away. Some have recently squeezed through the bars of insecurity and are now at large in the pages of my first four novels. Others await their future fates.

Although I grew up in Norfolk, UK, I never felt truly at home until I lived in Australia, and that is no doubt the reason my first published novels are set there. All of my books have some element of fact in them. I guess it’s hard for any writer not to include events from their life. Our experiences shape our thoughts, and the words and actions of our characters.
I sometimes wish I’d become a novelist earlier in life, but then if I had, I wouldn’t have the range of characters and events that I do.

After spending much of my adult life travelling, I now live in a remote forest house in Germany with two Mexican dogs, an Icelandic horse, six French hens, and a mermaid who I found at a beach on the north coast of Bequia.

Author Website

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Do you love to read and would like to be part of a reading group who selects B.R.A.G. Medallion Honorees?

If you are an avid bookworm, we invite you to become part of the indieBRAG B.R.A.G. Medallion global reader team. In this program, you’ll tell us a bit about yourself and the genres you enjoy reading. We’ll then provide you with digital versions of self-published books (ebooks), using the gifting process at amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com, and ask for your honest evaluation.

Your evaluation will be combined with those from other readers who read the same book, to help us determine if that author will be awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion, which has become a recognized mark of excellence within the self-published book industry.

To apply you must be eighteen years of age or older, and have at least graduated from high school. You must also have an ebook reader, or be able to download ebooks onto your computer, tablet, or smartphone. If you meet these requirements and would like to apply, please fill out the form below. We will give your application prompt attention and respond to you within two weeks.

Become a reader HERE

Enjoy your weekend happy reading!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

 

 

Interview with Award Winning Author Gordon Long

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Gordon Long today. Brought up in a logging camp with no electricity, Gordon Long learned his storytelling in the traditional way: at his father’s knee. He now spends his time editing, publishing, travelling, blogging and writing fantasy and social commentary, although sometimes the boundaries blur.

Gordon lives in Tsawwassen, British Columbia, with his wife, Linda, and their Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Josh. When he is not writing and publishing, he works on projects with the Surrey Seniors’ Planning Table, and is a staff writer for <indiesunlimited.com>

Thank you for chatting with me today, Gordon! Please, tell me how you discovered indieBRAG?

I’m a staff writer for Indies Unlimited, and the name has come up multiple times as the Minions gather around the gruel pot and chat about writing.

Tell me a little about your book, Zoysana’s Choice.

Zoysana_s Choice

They say creativity comes from putting two old elements together in a new way. I took my favourite tragic hero, put him in a fantasy world, and gave him a sympathetic, loving stepdaughter instead of a vicious, overly ambitious wife (Shakespeare fans will have fun finding the tributes). And then I told the story from the girl’s point of view. So Zoysana is a young woman of mixed heritage, trying to find a place for herself in a changing world at the same time as the man she has come to love as a father is doing his worst to mess things up.

How did you come to write this story and how many book swill be in the series?

That’s rather complicated. I have always been in awe at the way Anne McCaffrey turned her Fantasy series, Dragon Riders of Pern, into Science Fiction by writing a space-age prequel series. So, once I got going on the first three books of the Petrellan Saga, (Books 4-6) and the history of the society became more and more important, I began to think how interesting it would be to go back and find out where these people came from. So for the next three (Books 1-3), I jumped back 400 years. It was all sorts of fun writing them all at the same time, inserting hints in the later books that readers can find in the prequel series. The seventh book is meant to tie it all together, but I haven’t exactly figured out how, yet. These are mostly stand-alone novels, with the main character from one book taking a supporting role in other books. So Zoysana hires Jhanes, the main character of The Innkeeper’s Husband, to help her fight the Inari, who become the fighting force under Anine, the main character of Mercenary’s Dream. And so on.

Steven Spielberg did it in Star Wars, why can’t I? I’ll tell you why. Because I don’t have a multi-million-dollar marketing campaign to tell everyone. I really appreciate you giving me the opportunity to explain.

BTW, The Innkeeper’s Husband is launching this month. Watch for it on Smashwords and later on Kindle.

What age audience is this story geared towards?

This book is specifically aimed at the “New Adult” audience: People of age 20-30, interested in stories about characters finding their place in society. However, it is also designed for YA readers (some violence, but very little blood and gore) and for older readers as well.

Is there any real historical significance or themes in your story? What is the time period for your story?

Because it’s Fantasy, the era would correspond with European late medieval society. There is a rough parallel between the Kyabrans, the old empire, and the Romans, although in Books 2 and 3, I play fast and loose by giving them 18th century sailing technology. I find it fascinating to set a novel in a historical or fantastical era where social change is happening, because I can draw parallels to the changes happening in our society. Zoysana would be a member of a visible minority in our society, with all the problems and opportunities that implies.

Tell me a little about Zoe

Zoe is a demonstration of how a sympathetic, friendly person can be rather hard to get along with at times, no matter how hard she tries. She was raised in isolation by her Kyabran grandfather, who gave her the best martial arts and diplomatic training in the world, but not much social interaction. When he dies, she is taken in by Barent, First Prince Ascending of the Arlyn Dynasty of Petrella, and brought up in Arlyn Castle. This makes her sympathetic, cooperative, and well mannered. It gives her a copious mental capacity, incredible fighting skill, and powerful leadership qualities. It also makes her stubborn, self-righteous, and serious. And, deep inside, it leaves her with a feeling of not really belonging anywhere. When a trader lord from Kyabra appears, she jumps at the chance to go with him to the source of her other heritage, and incidentally escape from the difficult choice of whether to be loyal to the kingdom or to Barent, who is in the process of royally messing everything up, doing the wrong things for all the right reasons.

When she returns to Arlyn Castle, she discovers that the conflict was only set aside, not avoided, and she has to make a choice that will affect her for the rest of her life.

Where can readers buy your book?

Amazon

Smashwords

Search by title at Barnes & Noble and iTunes.

What was your writing process for this story?

When I first started writing Zoysana’s Choice, I was doing it very part-time while working and raising a family. I would get an idea for a chapter, sit down and write it, and maybe leave the MS for a month before I got another idea. Very “seat of the pants” writing. I started with a prologue showing the meeting of Barent and Zoe when she was 9 years old and her grandfather had just died. That became too long for a prologue, so I set it up as an independent short story, “Requiem for A Hero,” which is available free at Smashwords

Then I wrote Zoysana’s Choice. Then I wrote most of Innkeeper’s Husband, Book 5. Then part of Mercenary’s Dream, Book 6. By then I was seriously thinking about becoming a writer, and I planned Book 1 of the prequel series out more carefully, setting up the structure and the conflict more to normal novel standards. I now have half of Book 2 and most of Book 3 finished, and seven or eight random chapters of Book 7.

Once I started self-publishing, I had to go back and seriously rewrite Zoysana’s Choice, applying everything I had learned in the 5 other novels I have published in between. Likewise Innkeeper’s Husband and Mercenary’s Dream.

As my writing career progresses, I do more and more planning before I write, but once I get writing, I go where the muse takes me. Characters often take over a scene and tell me what they’re going to say and what they’re going to do.

What do you like most about writing in the Fantasy genre?

My first delight is in creating characters, no matter what genre. But in Fantasy I love creating the worlds. I spend a lot of time thinking about the societies I am creating, and making them realistic. I also freely admit that I create societies to be in some way a reflection of our own, and use the similarities and differences to emphasize the themes of my novels. I’m a traveller and a big fan of geography, so I create maps, including climate and prevailing wind patterns. I always know how many days it would take a rider to go from one town to the next, or how long it would take someone to walk to the next village. I take most of my names, both people and places, from real geographical names. It gives them a sense of ethnicity.

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

My messages are all there in the themes of my books. Look for them as you read; I try not to make them obvious. In the words of Mark Twain (or was it Thumper the Rabbit in Bambi ?) “If you ain’t got nothin’ to say, don’t say nothin’ at all.”

Thank you, Gordon! Please visit with me again at Layered Pages!

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A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Gordon Long who is the author of, Zoysana’s Choice, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, 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, Zoysana’s Choice, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

 

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Interview with Award Winning Author Marlo Berliner

Marlo B BRAGI’d like to welcome Award Winning Author Marlo Berliner today. Marlo is the award-winning author of THE GHOST CHRONICLES, her debut book which was released in November 2015 to critical acclaim. The book won the 2016 NJRW Golden Leaf Award for Best First Book, was named FINALIST in the National Indie Excellence Awards for Young Adult Fiction, received the Literary Classics Seal of Approval, was awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion, and was named one of the “best indie YA books we have seen in the past year, from both self-publishers and small presses” by IPPY Magazine. Marlo is represented by Eric Ruben of the Ruben Agency and she writes young adult, women’s fiction, and short stories. Her second book, THE GHOST CHRONICLES BOOK 2, will be released in August 2017. Visit her at marloberliner.com or on Twitter and Instagram @marloberliner.

When she’s not writing or editing, Marlo loves reading, relaxing at the beach, watching movies, and rooting for the Penn State Nittany Lions. After having spent some wonderful time in Pittsburgh and Houston, she’s now back in her home state of New Jersey where she resides with her husband, two sons, and a rambunctious puppy named Max.

Thank you for talking with me today, Marlo! Tell me about how you discovered indieBRAG?

I noticed an indieBRAG medallion on another young adult book and thought, “I’d like one of those, too!”

Please tell me about your book, The Ghost Chronicles.

The Ghost Chronicles BRAG

The book is about a young man who dies tragically and is trapped in the afterlife, where he falls in love with the ghost of a beautiful woman who died just as tragically as he did. The only trouble is falling in love and binding oneself to another soul is forbidden, for it may keep one or both of the souls bound to earth for longer than they should be.

To make matters worse, there’s also a danger in going too far with Sarah, because the “joining” of two souls in the afterlife is also strictly forbidden and they don’t know what will happen if they do go that far. Each time they touch they can feel the boundaries of their energies slipping perilously into one another.

Things get even more complicated as Michael learns he’s being pursued. Demons are after him because he’s a marked soul, a soul the devil wants very badly for some unknown reason.

So, maybe falling in love in the afterlife isn’t such a good idea.

What audience are you targeting with this story?

I designed the story with upper young adults in mind, but also tried to give the book that crossover appeal for the adult audience.

Tell me about Michael’s strengths and weaknesses.

Michael’s main strengths are his bravery and his inherent goodness. His major weaknesses are his impatience and his impulsiveness.

Give me an example of the relationship between Sarah and Michael.

Their attraction is magnetic from the very beginning. They have a lot in common – they both lost a parent young and they both lost their own lives way too soon. They’re also both free-spirited, fun-loving and have big hearts. Once Michael meets Sarah and gets to know her, he realizes they were meant to be together.

How long did you work on this story and what was your inspiration for it?

I worked on and off on the story for more than five years, but most seriously in the last two of those years. Inspiration for the best stories lie at the intersection of truth and imagination. The Ghost Chronicles began this way, as well. I had my ‘eureka’ moment one day while reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets with my son. Chapter Eight, The Deathday Party, deals with the ghosts in the Hogwarts Castle and what it might be like to ‘live’ in the afterlife, so that provided the spark that ignited the fire to write The Ghost Chronicles.

At the same time, I was also thinking about a truth from my past. When I was seventeen I was in a car accident that wasn’t my fault. An accident that almost took my life. The thought of ‘what if I had died’ has been one that has haunted me ever since. So immediately I knew I wanted The Ghost Chronicles to be not only a story of what it’s like to be stuck in the afterlife, but I also wanted it to be about a boy who dies tragically through no fault of his own. The kind of story ripped from the headlines about a promising young person who has their life taken away far too soon. It won’t be completely apparent until later in the series, but I wanted it to be a story of great hope for anyone who has lost someone tragically, particularly someone young. I’m also hoping readers will take away the theme embodied in this quote from the book – “Cherish life, it’s absolutely precious.”

The final piece of the love story in The Ghost Chronicles fell into place after I stayed at The Angel of the Sea, an award-winning bed and breakfast in Cape May, NJ. This spectacular inn has been featured on several television programs and in magazines throughout the world. Most notably, it was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as one of the “Best Vacations in the World” and included in her television talk show. The two buildings of The Angel of the Sea are so iconic, that it is one of the most recognized Victorian structures in the United States. Legend has it that in the late 1960’s, a girl did fall to her death at the Angel of the Sea and did at one time, haunt the inn. The story of the girl has been included in several non-fiction books about ghosts in Cape May. Sarah’s character in The Ghost Chronicles was inspired by this legend and after staying at this romantic inn, I also decided to make The Angel of the Sea the setting for the book.

How many books will be in this series and will you introduce new characters in each one?

I’m planning to have three books in the series and will introduce many new characters along the way. I love bringing historical characters, both well-known and lesser-known, into the books.

Who designed your book cover?

My cover was designed by the very talented S.P.McConnell.

Where can readers buy your book?

The book is available at all major retailers – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound and Walmart.

Tell me about how you got into writing.

I began seriously writing in high school and thoroughly enjoyed it. I even had teachers and professors who told me I had true talent and begged me not to stop writing. I continued writing in college, but largely gave it up once I graduated because I was simply too busy with life. I picked it up again many years later when my kids were young and I was struck by the idea for THE GHOST CHRONICLES. This book just wouldn’t let me not write it!

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

I always intended THE GHOST CHRONICLES to be a thought-provoking story, and I hope the story touches your heart the way it touched mine.

Thank you, Marlo! It was a pleasure chatting with you! Please visit with me again soon at Layered Pages!

AUTOHR LINKS:

Amazon –
US

UK

Barnes & Noble

 Indiebound

Walmart

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Marlo Berliner who is the author of, Ghost Chronicles, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, 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, Ghost Chronicles, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

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Interview with Award Winning Author Paul Haughey

Paul Haughey BRAG head shot

I’d like to welcome Award Winning Author Paul Haughey today. Paul was born in Toledo, Ohio, grew up in Los Angeles and now lives outside San Francisco in Sausalito.  He was an electrical engineer, went to law school, became a patent attorney and now is a writer. His first book was the legal thriller novel “Undue Diligence” in 2006.

Congrats on the B.R.A.G. Medallion, Paul! Please tell me how you discovered indieBRAG?

Thank you, I am very gratified that my book won a BRAG medallion.  That’s the political answer – now to answer your question – I was searching online for sites that do book reviews, and came across indieBRAG.

Tell me about your book, Common Cents.

Common Cents BRAG

It is an attempt to explain various problems with our political system in simple terms, with examples.  It explains how the Constitutional checks and balances have been distorted – for example, through campaign donor/lobbyists, a broken primary process, winner-take-all voting and rigging of district boundaries by incumbent state legislatures (Gerrymandering) to solidify the control of partisan incumbents and defeat compromise.  It shows how we are manipulated by partisan media and how these and other distortions have led to extra benefits to special interests at the cost of the middle class engine of our economy. And it has 30 cartoons!  The chair on the cover, by the way, is Washington’s chair from the Constitutional Convention, and is still there in Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Ben Franklin commented that the sun on the chair was a rising sun, indicating good fortune ahead for the country.

How did you come to write this story?

I read a lot of books and articles on individual political topics.  I hadn’t seen a simple, comprehensive approach.  A lot of the books would have made a good short article.  I started making notes to clarify my own thinking, then decided to convert them into the simple, comprehensive summary – Common Cents.

Were there any challenges?

Lots.  For example, getting good facts and statistics.  It seems no two articles or sources had the same numbers for the same thing – such as how much we spend on different subsidies and loopholes, or even something as simple as how much of the federal budget is spent on defense.  Everyone seems to choose a different period, different accounting method, etc.  I ended up just picking one that seemed in the middle oftentimes, and footnoting it.

What is some of the feedback you have gotten about Common Cents?

People love the book!  The problem is getting them to read it – it seems a lot of people just don’t read books anymore.  I have to tell them it’s short (110 pages before appendices & end-notes) & it has 30 cartoons!  I’ve heard people buy extra copies for their friends after reading it, or sending copies to their representatives, etc.  The reviews on Amazon have been heartwarming, except for one curmudgeon!  Some readers are surprised at how politics really works, and are skeptical that my solutions will ever come to pass.

What was your writing process for this book?

I pulled things from articles and books by experts, and simplified them, while footnoting the source.  I’d write in evenings and weekends when not working at my paying job.  I kept a notepad by my bed, because I’d often get inspiration when I’m falling asleep or just waking up.  I got inspiration in the shower as well – but the notebooks kept getting wet!

Will you write more political books?

I would like to do some articles next, then perhaps another book down the line.  I think it makes sense to follow-up on several of the topics in my book with articles.

In your book description it says “The branches of government fight each other for more control with executive orders, signing statements, legislative vetoes and other tricks.” I would have to agree with you there. Could you give an example of this please?

Georg Bush tried to get a Republican Controlled Congress, his own party, to limit federal funding for stem cell research, where the stem cells come from aborted fetuses.  Congress wouldn’t do it, and they are the branch of government that is supposed to pass laws.  So Bush issued an executive order.  Congress then passed a bill reversing the order.  Bush vetoed the law, and Congress couldn’t muster the 2/3 majority needed to override.  When Congress doesn’t like how the President is administering laws, they create agencies that report to Congress, or to their committee, duplicating functions.  With a “legislative veto,” Congress passes a law giving it the right to overrule an administration decision, such as where military bases are located, or approving real estate transactions – a nice way for members of Congress to hand out favors to special interest donors.

I know there are many who would love to “do away” with the Constitution or start over-if you will-how important is the Constitution to you?

I revere the Constitution, as do most Americans.  It is what establishes the rule of law instead of a dictatorship.  It was the first, and has defects, that later constitutions in other countries did better.  For example, most countries elect a parliament, and the parliament selects the president, so you don’t have our divided government and things get done.  However, I doubt we could ever change the fundamentals of our Constitution since ¾ of the states need to approve, and there are vested interests by small states in their outsized representation – states with less than 20% of the population control half the senate and have outsized electoral votes.  But it has been amended, and is due for a tune-up.

As a history enthusiast I am really into the history of our forefathers and what they envisioned for this great country. Which of the founding fathers you most admire and how has what they envisioned changed?

I admire both Madison and Jefferson, and they would both be rightfully proud of how the Constitution has performed to avoid a dictatorship or monarchy, which was the norm in that day.  Jefferson would be flabbergasted that the Constitution has lasted this long – he thought there should be a new convention every 20 years.  They both may regret leaving so many details to Congress, which has upset the balance they created.  They did not foresee political parties, primaries, winner-take-all voting, the filibuster, large campaign contributions, Gerrymandering and massive media manipulation of voters.

Where can readers buy your book?

Online – here are the links:

Amazon paperback & Kindle

Barnes and Noble

I greatly appreciate you taking the time to interview me.  I think it is wonderful what you are doing with your blog!

Thank you, Paul! It was lovely talking with you.

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Paul Haughey who is the author of, Common Cents, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, 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, Common Cents, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

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Interview with Award Winning Author R.D. Vallier

R.D. Vallier BRAG

I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree R.D. Vallier today. The highlight of R.D. Vallier’s award-winning career was when her 6th grade teacher threatened to call CPS over a story about a runaway and a magic wolf. She avoided government capture, but continued creating dark tales in secret. Now she’s living the cliché as a storyteller in the remote wilderness, handcrafting an off-grid homestead with straw and mud and whatever she scrounges from the landfill. She holds degrees in wildlife management and hard knocks, only feels at home on the road, and believes humanity illuminates the most brilliantly during darkness.

Tell me how you discovered indieBRAG?

I noticed books which had done well in the various writing contests I was researching had earned indieBRAG Medallions. I looked into indieBRAG, and was happy with what I discovered—an organization which seemed to honestly care about both authors and readers. I liked the concept and agreed with their vision, so I submitted Darkshine!

How did you get into writing in the Paranormal genre?

I adore both paranormal and reality, and my brain tends to naturally mesh the two. I find myself questioning and making up stories about what I see around me. What really goes on inside that storage unit building? Is that graffiti just graffiti, or is it some sort of code? What’s hidden in plain sight? I love bringing an element of magic to the mundane, and believe the fantasy genres in general have tremendous capability to explore humanity.

Please tell me about your award winning book, Darkshine?

Darkshine BRAG

Darkshine is a dark urban fantasy/paranormal. The main character, Miriam, has a mundane, adult life, and no social or family connections outside of her emotionally abusive husband. Her whole life she has been treated differently, but it isn’t until a chickadee speaks to her that she begins to understand she is a lost changeling. Two fae–who are complete opposites of each other–try to convince her where her true home is, and each insists the other is lying to destroy her. Miriam goes on a whirlwind adventure, both physically and emotionally, to discover who she is and where she belongs, while staying ahead of her enraged husband who is desperate to keep her silent about truths which can damage his political campaign. Along the way, Miriam needs to confront the preconceptions of dark and light, good and evil, and hopefully choose the answer which will deliver the home she’s always yearned for, instead of her demise.

Will this be part of a series?

Yes. Dark Ember, book 2 in the series, is currently in the editing and beta reader stage. It should be released soon, but I don’t have a date yet.

Tell me a little about Miriam. What are her strengths and weaknesses?

Miriam is a changeling and an intentionally mixed bag, especially early in the story. I often see stories where changelings learn what they are at a young age. I wanted to see what would happen to a changeling discovering who they were after having a spouse, a job, a mortgage, an adult life (and what type of life that would be).

Miriam never excelled in anything, has low self-esteem due to emotional abuse, and is someone who people treat as a chore to deal with. I wanted to write an “average” character who suffered social ostracism, and who had never experienced much good in life. But I also wanted a character where the reader had to question whether her background was a weakness which hindered her (as she always believed), or a strength to build upon and draw conviction. Thus, her weaknesses are also her strengths, melded together, which I feel is closer to reality. As people, our failings and shortcomings, while they do hold us back in some ways, often drive us forward in others. I often see books where the characters have specific weaknesses or strengths, and those aspects are written throughout the book as solely weaknesses or strengths. I sought to break that concept of static attributes, and instead strove to create an amalgam where each was both simultaneously. Where a beaten down woman can stand up, fight back, falter and still strive to overcome where others would give up, all drawing upon the myriad of experiences which brought her to this point. Thus, her strengths are found in accepting her weaknesses, fighting the internal voices of those who insist she could never amount to anything and that she is an unlovable failure. Her strengths are found in discovering that her shortcomings do not need to hold her down, she can move forward despite pain and fear, and her weaknesses only overpower her while she allows it.

Did you face any challenges writing this story?

Darkshine is what I called “my throw away novel.” I went into it giving myself permission to break a lot of rules (well, what I then considered rules, anyway), to explore ideas and themes I had, and to see what would develop. As Darkshine started morphing into a novel instead of a writing exercise, I had to keep preventing myself from writing the story I thought I should tell, and keep on telling the story I wanted to know. I fought a lot of internal programming, and in doing so found my style and voice and a story I love. It is a challenge I will forever be grateful for.

In addition, I explored a lot of my own past suffering to capture the tone I wanted for various scenes, making myself relive the memories over and over. To this day I have trouble reading some scenes in Darkshine because it calls up those personal memories I used. But in the end, I love the result, which makes me feel gratitude for those past grievances. This is as uncomfortable as it is freeing, and a continuous emotional challenge.

Where can readers buy your book?

Currently, Darkshine is available as an e-book at all major retailers. I just took it off Kindle Unlimited, and I’m unsure when or if it will return in the future. As a paperback, Darkshine is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Most private bookstores will order it in as well.

What is your current writing project?

I’m currently working on Dark Cinders, book 3 in the Darkshine series. I’ve always seen the story as a trilogy, so I hope this will be the final book, but there is a possibility it will be split into two books.

I’m also working on a series of free Darkshine short stories, going more into the background and hidden drives of the various characters. I will be releasing these only to people who have joined my email subscription. http://www.tinyurl.com/darkshineemail

How did you get into writing?

I’ve always considered myself a storyteller in various forms. My early focus was on comic book story and illustration, but I eventually discovered my ideas were too in-depth for this medium, and I couldn’t explore the inner journey as much as I wanted. I then shifted my focus, learning how to write novels instead. And here I am!

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

Darkshine can be read as a fun adventure, but can also be dissected as a fictitious analogy of cultural and sociopolitical viewpoints, and life under different governing bodies throughout history, through which the main characters gain their own independence and honesty. This is all crafted into the background to remain unobtrusive and out of sight for the reader who simply wants to be whisked away to a dark fairytale, and who doesn’t want to think about politics or governments or whatnot. (Books where such details are in-your-face have always turned me off.) Foremost, I wrote the book to be an entertaining fantasy. Yet it is also written to have deeper substance, and for those who want more, it is there. I’ve had numerous readers tell me they were surprised with what they initially missed, and that they enjoyed a “different” story the second time through.

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview R.D. Vallier who is the author of, DARKSHONE, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, 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, DARKSHINE, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

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Interview with Award Winning Author C.S. O’Kelly

C.S. O'Kelly BRAG

I’d like to welcome Award Winning Author C.S. O’Kelly today. Born to a loving mother with little money, but an abundance of imagination she shared with C. S. during long walks, bike rides before helmets, and nightly readings from mountains of books.  Stories of giants and elves, mythical beasts and powerful maidens filled the world of C. S. from the earliest of memories.

After finishing graduate school, C. S. O’Kelly sold off all five possessions, purchased a 1974 Ford 19-foot motorhome and went north. After ten years in SE Alaska, C. S. landed in warmer climes on a small ranch in Northern California where crafting stories and story worlds seemed as natural as raising organic free range chickens (named after Stars Wars characters) for eggs only.

To this day, C. S. travels the world, but always comes back to the small ranch with a home built with C. S.’s own hands near San Francisco, California. The philosophy that we enter the world with innate, powerful and beautiful imaginations is the core for all of C. S. O’Kelly’s works and a belief that permeates all things C. S

Hello, C.S.! How did you discover indieBRAG?

First off it’s a pleasure meeting you, Stephanie and thank you for giving another independent author a medium to highlight their work. indieBRAG was highly recommended to me by our talented editing team and has a great reputation in the indie publishing realm.

A pleasure, C.S.!

Please tell me about your children’s book, The Adventures of Gracie & MonkeyBear.

The Adventures of Gracie &amp; MonkeyBear

It’s ‘Book 1’ in a picture book series about a friendship between a young girl, Gracie and her dog, MonkeyBear. Through the power of imagination and kindness, they travel to adventurous, far off places, helping those in need along the way.

Tell me a little about the relationship between Gracie & MonkeyBear.

They are the best of friends and the closest of family. Gracie is a bold and fearless adventurer while MonkeyBear is a brilliant scientist and inventor. Each is a different side of the same coin and when together… anything is possible!

What is an example of the adventure they take by finding portals to new worlds?

Gracie & MonkeyBear hear a mother whale calling for help from their wading pool in the backyard. MonkeyBear designs a submarine out of odds & ends lying around and together, they build the sub and launch it into the wading pool and are off to help the whale.

What was the inspiration for your story?

Watching my Niece playing with my Bernese Mountain Dog, Seamus (nickname: MonkeyBear) in the backyard. She was only 5 at the time, but would ‘put a bubble’ over his head as if he were carrying on a conversation with her. She has a boundless imagination and MonkeyBear adores her. I grabbed a notepad and sketched out the first few scenes of what became, Book 1 of The Adventures of Gracie & MonkeyBear series.

How did you get into writing children’s books?

I worked with youth programs all through college in the summers and whenever I was working with the younger kids, they clamored for ‘storytelling’ time, so I spent many hours reading the best picture books from all the greats. Many years later, I stumbled upon works by Illustrator, Jordy Farrell; I knew it was time to give Gracie & MonkeyBear life. Book 1: Summer is our teams’ first book.

Who designed your book cover?

The wondrous, Arial Light took my loosely bound concept of creating a cover similar to those of the early adventure novels by Jack London and Jules Verne.  Arial created a cover that harkens back to the daring times of the past when the potential of adventure seemed on every horizon.

Where can readers buy your book?

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, ask for it at their local bookstore, Signed Author Special Edition from the Gracie & MonkeyBear website.

What is up next for you?

The Adventures of Gracie & MonkeyBear, Book 2: Winter is coming out late October 2017 and I am also working on a picture book series with Illustrator/designer Arial Light at the helm that is going to be fantastically unusual! Of course…

Thank you, C.S.!

LINKS:

Gracie & MonkeyBear Website

Purchase on Amazon

Kirkus Best Books of 2016

Gracie & MonkeyBear on Instagram

Gracie & MonkeyBear on Facebook

Gracie & MonkeyBear on Storytime Station and More

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview C.S. O’Kelly who is the author of, Gracie & MonkeyBear, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, 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, Gracie & MonkeyBear, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

indiebrag-team-member