Characters in Motion: On the Way to Boise

By Laurie Boris 

PrintTwo and a half hours to Boise. Margie and Wes had already gone over the calls from their last game, the weather forecast for today’s matchup, and the story of how three of Wes’s sisters had met their husbands. He said she could take a nap if she wanted, and he’d enjoy the scenery, but she was too wound up from coffee and nerves to sleep. The last time they’d umpired in that stadium, she never stopped hearing it from the home-team dugout—the insults, the catcalls, the words she couldn’t say in front of her mother. “Baseball guys cuss,” Mom might say. “What the frig did you expect?

“We could practice your interview skills,” Wes said.

“I told you.” Margie tightened her grip on the thermos of coffee between her knees. I’m done giving interviews.”

Wes drummed the fingers of his left hand against the steering wheel. “That’s it? One negative experience with a bad reporter and you’re giving up. If you’d thought like that in the academy, you wouldn’t have lasted through the first day.”

She knew exactly what he was doing. With those tapping fingers. With those soft, challenging words. He was goading her into having what he called a learning opportunity. And damn it, it was working. “Fine,” she said. “Let’s go.”

Margie capped the thermos and held it out to him like a microphone. “Wes Osterhaus, what’s it like to work with one of the first women crazy enough to put up with this crap?”

A faint blush rose into his freckled cheeks. “I don’t think she’s crazy. And I really like working with her. She loves baseball. She hustles on every play, and she’s always looking for opportunities to learn and grow.”

She grinned. “Because you keep shoving them in my face.”

“No. Because we’re a team. We’re supposed to challenge each other, but in a good way. To make each other better umpires. Now I get to ask you a question.”

Margie handed him the thermos. “Shoot.”

But he kept both hands on the wheel and focused intently on the road ahead. The mountains. The tall pine forests. Finally, he spoke. “As an umpire, especially in the minors when you’re being monitored and judged so frequently, looking strong and confident is very important. You have to project an image of being completely in charge. But how do you do that…when you feel so different? When you feel isolated. Like everyone else is speaking a different language, when they’re even talking to you at all?”

Margie couldn’t find her voice for a moment. And in that moment she wondered if he was referring to her or to himself. In the academy, she’d seen how the other guys treated him. They made fun of him behind his back. Called him names. All because he was smart, and had a lot of questions, and wanted to know the answers to everything. Because instead of going to dollar beer night, he was outside with his telescope, looking at the stars. So what if he was a little different? He was a damn good umpire, and he’d been the only guy in the academy who’d gone out of his way to be nice to her. She could have been partnered up with anyone that spring, and she knew how lucky she was to have ended up with him.

“You just…do it,” she said. “You ignore the jerks. You do the best job you know how. You keep looking for those learning opportunities. And you keep telling yourself that you are strong. That you’re confident as hell. And one day…maybe your insides will figure out that they matched your outsides all along.”

Margie caught him just beginning to smile, and she leaned back in the seat. “Or at least that’s what people keep telling me.”

laurie_promo_pic2

Laurie Boris is a freelance copyeditor. She’s also been writing fiction for almost thirty years and is the author of seven novels, two novellas, and a collection of flash fiction. She’s the recipient of several awards including two indieBRAG medallions. When she’s not playing with the fictional people in her head, Laurie enjoys baseball, cooking, and avoiding housework. This post was based on two characters from The Call, Laurie’s most recent novel.

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon

Award Winning B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree of, Don’t Tell Anyone & A Sudden Gust of Gravity

Book Description of The Call by Laurie Boris:

As one of the first female umpires in the minors, Margie puts up with insults and worse from people who think women don’t belong in baseball. Forget making history—Margie just wants to do her job and be part of the game she loves.

She’s ready for the rude comments. The lousy pay. The endless traveling. But when she suspects a big-name slugger of cheating, she has to choose: let the dirty player get away with it, or blow the whistle and risk her career…and maybe her twin brother’s major-league prospects, too.

Now it’s up to Margie to make the call.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Interview with Award Winning Author Lis Anna-Langston

Lis Anna-Langston

I’d like to welcome Award Winning Author Lis Anna-Langston to Layered Pages. Lis is a Parents’ Choice Gold Book Award winner, a Moonbeam Children’s Book Award winner and the Dante Rossetti First Place Award winner for YA Fiction. She is the author of Tupelo Honey, Skinny Dipping in a Dirty Pond and the short story collection, Tolstoy & the Checkout Girl. Born in the South she loves writing about misfits, screw ups, outlaws and people who generally don’t fit into nicely labeled boxes. She loves zany, wild rides and is the recipient of many awards including; a two-time Pushcart nominee, a five-time WorldFest winner, Telluride IndieFest winner, Helene Wurlitzer Grant recipient, New Century Writers winner, a finalist in the prestigious William Faulkner Competition, & Second Place Winner of the Thomas Wolfe Fiction Award. She writes Young Adult, New Adult and Middle Grade novels and loves every second of it.

Lis, please tell me how you discovered indieBRAG.

I have entered many contests in my career but this is the first book I’ve had go to print. So, I created a list of book award contests and entered. Parents’ Choice, Moonbeam, Literary Classics and IndieBRAG were all on the list and I entered and won each one.

Tell me about your book, Tupelo Honey.

Tupelo Honey

Well, each person sees the book slightly differently. I think this story is about a little girl trying to manage the insanity of her family. I really loved Teresa DiFalco’s review from Parents’ Choice Awards. I think she summed it up so well:

Tupelo Honey is a delight. Set in rural Mississippi, with a cast of colorful southerners, it stars one pretty dysfunctional family at the center of which is Tupelo Honey. Author Lis Anna-Langston gets into the head of her title girl completely, taking readers on a ride of a sort of haunted but beautiful mess. To paraphrase Tolstoy, it’s the unhappy families that are unique — and by definition, often more interesting. Tupelo Honey does not have an easy life, on the surface. Her mother is a drug addict, and mental illness lingers in her grandmother Marmalade’s house like a hot humid August cloud. Yet Anna-Langston still fills it with gems. It’s certainly not a dull life, one full of heartbreaks big and small, but this tough sweet girl pulls it off with aplomb. It’s a treat from start to end. Langston has written rich, vivid characters, and painted a vibrant mosaic of a year in one young southern girl’s life. It’s a hard book to put down, and one you won’t want to end. I envy its future readers.”

What was the inspiration for your story?

A lot of this story came from a creative memoir class I took in North Carolina. It was one of the first writing classes I’d ever taken. I studied literature in college but I did not take writing classes. So, I wrote to the class prompts. My classmates loved these stories so I kept writing and they made me promise I’d complete the book. At some point, I decided to add in fictional scenes or change the chronology of events and at that point I switched it to fiction.  Those classes were hard and honestly, I wanted to quit. My roommate said, “That’s exactly why you should keep taking the class.” She was right. My inspiration came from hearing the stories of my classmates and organizing the material I created every day.

Set the scene for Northern Mississippi in your story.

Well, I grew up in North Mississippi. It was an amazing place with staggering poverty at the time. The light slants low over the earth in Mississippi in the late summer in a way I’ve never witnessed anywhere else. It is a land of triumph and simplicity, a place where people knew their neighbors and talked to each other. Even back in the 90’s they still had party lines in Mississippi. For some reason, I thought that was awesome. They weren’t racing to catch up with technology. It is also partly set in Mexico City which is my favorite city on Earth.

What are Tupelo’s strengths and weaknesses?

I think her strength is her weakness to some degree. She is a little girl who can survive anything but she has to get to the point where she steps out of that circle and begins to thrive. Her strength is her ability to love and constantly find the good in people. She is incredibly resilient and likeable. Her weaknesses really come from outside of her in the form of her mother’s addictions.

How long did it take to write your story and what was your process?

This book is comprised of sections cut from another book. I wrote a book entitled Skinny Dipping in a Dirty Pond. That book was four hundred pages long and geared more to adults. That book was optioned and turned into a screenplay. In the process of rewriting the book and creating the screenplay a lot was cut, changed, enriched, deepened. It left me with a lot of excess material. One day I compiled all the cut sections and chapters and realized it had a real theme and plot. What had been cut was similar in tone and rising action. So, from the cutting room floor Tupelo Honey began to rise. The actual book took me about three or four weeks to rewrite and put together from that point.

Who designed your book cover?

Me. I designed the cover. Photography and design are skills I’ve possessed for a long time. I had an idea of what I wanted it to look like and kept searching and creating drafts. Finally, I put together the cover and paid a graphic design artist in Africa to do the layout on the back.

Where can readers buy your book?

Tupelo Honey is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and it is available for instant purchase via Kindle and Nook.

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

itunes

Kobo

What is up next for you?

A grand adventure with the new middle grade and YA books I’ve just finished. These books are particularly electric and filled with great energy and excitement. My agent is shopping them around now. I’m involved in a few film projects. I’m always working on about five projects at a time. Just about everything I create is for a middle grade or young adult audience.

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

I LOVE writing for YOU! I love, love, love it. I love entertaining people and bringing laughs and tears into a reader’s life. Okay, the good kinda tears. 🙂 I love it when I am totally swept up in a story, when the world quietly slips away. I aim to accomplish this with my readers. Readers are the lifeblood of the publishing world.

Author Website

Tupelo Honey MemeMore about Lis:

Her fiction has been published in Word Riot, The Blotter, Petigru Review, Hot Metal Press, The Smoking Poet, Eclectic Flash Literary Journal, Paper Skin Glass Bones, 491 Magazine, Fiction Fix, The Monarch Review, 5×5 Literary Magazine, Red Booth Review, Hint Fiction Anthology, Chamber Four Literary Magazine, Emyrs Journal, Literary Laundry, Barely South Review, Flash Fiction Offensive, Flashquake Literary Journal, Steel Toe Review, Cactus Heart Press, Empty Sink Publishing, Prick of the Spindle Literary Review, Per Contra, Storyacious, Gravel Literary, Bedlam Publishing, New Plains Review, The Merrimack Review, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Kaaterskill Basin Journal, Sand Hill Review, Conclave. Milk Journal and The MacGuffin Literary Review.

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Lis Anna-Langston who is the author of, Tupelo Honey, 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, Tupelo Honey, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

indiebrag-team-member

 

Interview with Multi Award Winning Author Kandi M. Siegel

Kandie S BRAG

I’d like to welcome back multi award winning author Kandi M. Siegel to Layered Pages. Kandi graduated from University of Central Florida is 2006 earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and was also certified in Special Education.  She received the Editor’s Choice Award for outstanding achievement in poetry by the National Library of Poetry in 1997.  She has been a member of the Space Coast Writer’s Guild since 2012. In 2008, Ms. Siegel was hurt on the job while working with special education and was unable to continue her job.  Her love for children brought her back to her earlier career of storytelling.  She finds writing books for children and meeting people at book signings a very rewarding experience.

Hi, Kandi! Thank you for visiting with me again! Congrats on your second B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree! That is wonderful! Please tell me about your story, A Dog for Leo.

A Dog for Leo BRAG

It is my absolute honor to be a part of the B.R.A.G. family!!

A Dog for Leo was written for my Uncle Leo.  He was the best uncle in the whole world but died too soon from throat cancer.  I wanted to do something to honor his memory so I wrote a book about him.  In the book, the other main character, Marty, is actually my other uncle, who is still very much alive.  They were brothers.  Other family members are also mentioned in the book, such as my mom Sylvia.  I remember hearing stories of when my uncle was a boy and he wanted a dog so that’s where I got the idea from.  It’s actually a made-up story from an idea of him wanting a puppy (which he actually won from a boy scout contest).  Anyway, A Dog for Leo, is about a young boy who wants a dog but his parents don’t think he’s responsible enough because of certain situations that come out throughout the story.  Leo is going to have to prove that he is responsible enough to care for a dog.

Is there a special message you would like to give to your readers to encourage them to read your story?

Yes, the story is all about being responsible.  It also proves that no one is perfect and although Leo tries to be responsible, he goes through several bumps in the road, to get there.  This book is perfect for any preteen to read who really wants something, but what they want isn’t just going to be handed to them on a silver platter.  In the book, Leo has to work hard to obtain his goal.  He will realize that being lazy isn’t going to get him what he wants.  He needs to prove not only to his parents, but to himself, that anything worth having, is worth working for.  This book is specifically designed for young adults.

Who designed your book cover?

I hired Debbie Johnson to illustrate the cover of A Dog for Leo.  I was very specific with the pictures I wanted on the cover and throughout the book.  I wanted the two main characters to look like my two uncles.  I gave her pictures of them and she really made them come alive in the book.  I also have a puggle and I wanted her to be on the cover with Leo.  I also gave Debbie a picture of my dog and I actually cried when I saw the cover because the boy looked so much like pictures of my uncle when he was a young boy and she totally captured my dog Layla. I was so happy with her work that I’ve actually hired her to illustrate other books of mine and I have passed on her name to other authors looking for an illustrator.

Where can readers buy your book?

Kandi II

My book is available on Amazon

In our last interview, together, you talked about when you were a child you would keep all the stories you write in a box. How many stories did you write and what has the experience been like for you to give your stories to the world?

My book, “My Summer Triumph,” is a story about me at about 11 years old and it was my first time at overnight camp.  I was bullied there and the story talks about what I went through and how I was able to triumph over defeat.  The story is very inspirational to anyone that has ever been bullied or who has bullied someone.  It shows how heart wrenching it can feel to the person who is being bullied.   This particular book also showed the bully having a turnabout with her feelings too.  This book is on the same reading level, young adult, as “A Dog for Leo.”

Another story I wrote, “Looking Back, No Regrets, Memoirs from the Heart,” is a collaboration of short stories of different relationships I had throughout my life from my first kiss, to a high school crush, online dating, etc.  It’s filled with all kinds of emotions.  This book is actually for ages 18+ although some parents have bought this book for their 16 and 17-year-old daughters who were in dating mode. A couple stories in the book actually makes the reader more aware of red flags to look for in relationships.

On behalf of National Dog Day that took place yesterday, tell me a little about the qualities you like in dogs and how you believe dogs are important to society.

Kandi I

I have always been a dog person as I grew up with dogs in the house and to this day, I still am never a dogless house.  As a child, it helps with teaching responsibility and to care for something else other than yourself, from things as simple as feeding the dog to walking the dog.  The dog depends on its owner to care for them but there are so many rewards given back.  A dog has a very keen sense of when something is wrong.  For instance, when I’m sad, my dog always seems to be able to pick up on that and will come over to me and lay her head on my lap.  It’s so comforting and after sitting with me just for a few minutes and cuddling, I start to feel so much better.  Dogs are also great protectors of their masters.  They seem to know when the situation changes and will jump right in to protect their master at all cost.  That’s why it is so important to give that love right back to your pet.  I have no tolerance for people who abuse their animals.  They are there to love and protect you and you need to honor, care for and love them back, always!!!

How often do you write during the week?

I always have some sort of writing project in the works, so I usually write just about every day in some form.  Whether it be writing an outline for a new book, or scribbling notes for a new book idea that I’d like to write about.

What is your current writing project?

Currently, I am finishing up my cookbook that I’ve been working on for the past year.  Several of my friends had asked me to put my recipes into a book and honestly, I did not realize what an undertaking it was to write a cookbook.  I have two more recipes that I will be making tomorrow and then taking pictures of the finished product for the cookbook and I’m happy to say it will be completed.  I will be sending the book off to my editor next week and I’m planning on a mid-September release date.  The book is going to be called, “Cooking with Kandi.”  I’m really very excited and pleased with the outcome of this book.

You can check out all of my books my going on my website

Thank you, Kandi!

I thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Kandi M. Siegel who is the author of, A Dog for Leo, 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, A Dog for Leo, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

indiebrag-team-member

 

Interview with Award Winning Author Joan Fallon

Joan Fallon BRAG

I’d like to welcome Award Winning B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Joan Fallon today. Joan was born in Dumfries, Scotland but spent most of her adult life in England. Teacher, management trainer and business woman, she moved to Spain at the beginning of the new millennium and became a writer. Her first published work was a social history, ‘Daughters of Spain’, inspired by the women she met in her adopted home. Her subsequent books too have grown out of her experiences living and working in Spain. She is especially interested in Spanish history and has set her novels in periods as distinct as the Golden Age of the Moorish conquest and the Spanish Civil War.  She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Alliance of Independent Authors.

 Hi, Joan! Thank you for visiting with me today. Please tell me how you discovered indieBRAG.

 Well actually it was Helen Hollick, the lady who set up Discovering Diamonds, who recommended IndieBRAG to me. I first got to know her when she was working for the Historical Novel Review Society a few years ago.

I love your book cover! Tell me about your story, The Shining City.

THE SHINING CITY BRAG

The novel is set in southern Spain in the mid tenth century. The country is ruled by al-Rahman III, who is celebrating the fact that he has just pronounced himself caliph of al-Andalus by building a new palace/city, Madinat al-Zahra. Many of his subjects have flocked to this new city looking for work and among them is a potter called Qasim and his family. Qasim is running away from his past and hoping to build a new future in Madinat al-Zahra, where he has taken on a new identity. Even his sons do not know his history.

The woman on the cover of the books is supposed to represent one of the leading characters in the novel. She is Jawhara, one of the caliph’s concubines. She was originally from Saxony and was captured by Viking raiders and sold as a slave to the caliph of al-Andalus. She is very beautiful and one day she is spotted by Omar, the youngest son of Qasim the potter. He falls desperately in love with her and becomes obsessed with seeing her even though he knows it is forbidden on pain of death.

One night he breaks into the harem to meet her but it does not go well. His father is horrified at what he has done and the consequences for everyone are severe. I can’t tell you any more without spoiling the story for you.

What fascinates you most about the period in history you have written about?

As you know, I live in southern Spain and over the years I have become fascinated with the country and its history. The Moors lived in Spain for 700 years and their influence is everywhere – in the architecture, the language, the food and the culture. So naturally I was drawn to learning more about them. I chose the tenth century because it was the Moors Golden Age. Never before nor after, did the country have such a reputation for wealth, culture and learning, nor was it so egalitarian. It was the most educated country in the western world and people flocked from all parts of Europe to its universities and libraries.

Tell me a little about Qasim. Was he a real person in history or fictional? What are his strengths and weaknesses?

No, Qasim isn’t a real character but he is based on real people. For example, the past he is hiding is based on a real man called Omar ibn Hafsun, one of the rebels who fought against al-Rahman III. Qasim is a potter who moved to Madinat al-Zahra, as many other artisans and workmen did at the time. The caliph encouraged people to move out of Córdoba and settle in Madinat al-Zahra by offering them the money to build a house. It was an offer too good to miss and thousands of people moved to the new city. So, I made Qasim one of them.

Qasim’s strengths lie in his strong religious beliefs and his love for his family. He is a man of honour. He treats his wife as an equal – almost. His weaknesses are that he is not flexible enough when faced with his son’s mistake.

Describe the city for me.

Madinat al-Zahra is in ruins now. But it is believed to have been a wonderful place with street lighting, paved roads, running water and public bath houses. I think the best way I can describe it to you is to let Omar tell you what he related to his nephew when he was an old man:

‘Our ruler, Abd al-Rahman III, wanted to build a city-palace worthy of the title of Khalifa so he sent his engineers and architects out to find the perfect location.  And they did.  They found a spot in the foothills of the Sierra Moreno, green, fertile, sheltered from the north winds, with as much water as you could wish for, yet set high enough above the plain so that you would be able to see anyone approaching.  From there you could see across the valley of the Guadalquivir to Córdoba and beyond.’

‘It was indeed the Shining City.  When visitors entered through the Grand Portico, passing beneath its enormous, red and white arches, when they climbed the ramped streets that were paved with blocks of dark mountain stone, passing the lines of uniformed guards in their scarlet jackets and the richly robed civil servants that flanked their way, when they reached the royal residence and saw the golden inlay on the ceilings, the marble pillars, the richly woven rugs scattered across the floors and the brilliant silk tapestries, when they saw the moving tank of mercury in the great reception pavilion that caught the sunlight and dazzled all who beheld it, then they indeed knew that they were in the Shining City.’

How did you come to write this story?

Back in the year 2000 I went to an exhibition in Madinat al-Zahra. I knew nothing about the place before that and I was fascinated by its history, and particularly by the fact that the city lasted no more than 75 years. I knew that one day I would write a story about it.

What is a tradition the people have in this civilization?

At that time Moorish civilisation was far more advanced than the rest of Europe. The majority of people were educated, including women. Women were allowed to work, to go to universities, to own property, to have careers such a doctors and scribes.

It was a multi-religious society. The ruling class were of course Muslims, but both Christians and Jews were allowed to worship their own faith, pursue careers in government and live their own lives. They were not however allowed to try to convert any Muslims to their faith. It was a society that also relied on slaves – but the slaves were non-believers. If a slave converted to Islam he regained his freedom.

Who designed your book cover?

A delightful woman called Rachel Lawston of Lawston Designs. She has designed a number of covers for me now and has a knack for getting just the right feel for the book (without having read it!)

Where can readers buy your book?

The Shining City is the first book in The al-Andalus series. All the books in the series are available on Amazon, from Barnes and Noble and other bookshops, both on-line and in the High Street.

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

Only this. Whether you prefer to read ebooks or paperbacks, never stop reading and encourage any children in your lives to read as much as they can. I worry that people are drifting away from the written word now that there are so many alternatives available to them. I’d like young people to realise that there is nothing so satisfying as reading a good book and becoming completely engrossed in the characters and the story.

Thank you, Joan!

Thank you, Stephanie, for inviting me to talk to you.

other links: Facebook

Website

Twitter

Facebook Author Page

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Joan Fallon who is the author of, THE GOLDEN CITY, 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, THE GOLDEN CITY, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

indiebrag-team-member

 

 

Interview with Award Winning Author Jim Andersen

Jim Andersen BRAG

I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Author Jim Andersen to Layered Pages today. Shortly after the walk Jim quit his job at the paper mill and moved to Austin, Nevada where he lived for 32 years. While in Austin–chronicled in his first book ‘Lost in Austin’ (University of Nevada Press, 2009)–he worked various jobs, finally settling into positions of deputy sheriff for eleven years and Justice of the Peace for twelve. Jim is currently retired and living in Pahrump, Nevada, with his wife of 30 years, Val. He has one daughter, two stepsons and a cat.

Thank you for talking with me today, Jim. How did you discover indieBRAG?

Purely by chance.  I was looking into ways I might promote the book and just came across indieBrag on one of the searches.  It looked and sounded professional, and their function was clearly stated, short and to the point, all of which appealed to me.

How has your self-publishing journey been thus far?

Swift.  My other book was published by a University Press and took three years from the time it was accepted to the day it was printed.  I mean we’re burnin’ daylight here, and none of us know how much daylight we’ve got left to burn so that’s certainly a consideration.  The other thing I liked was the latitude I was given.  I really did have the final say on everything from the cover design to the punctuation.  The only thing I would have changed would be the photos accompanying the text.  For some reason, I thought the publisher would edit them a little as to focus and lighting.  However, I had total control over that too even though I wasn’t aware of it, so it wasn’t their fault.  The pictures are acceptable, they just aren’t as grabbing as they could have been.

Please tell me about your book, Sometimes a Great Notion…Isn’t, so much.

Sometimes a Great Notion

The ‘Great Notion’ was to get listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, a fad that swept the nation in the manner of the ‘pet rock’ craze or the Macarena dance.  In the late sixties, everybody was talking about the record book and trying to find some way to get listed.  I came up with the idea of walking from 14,496′ Mt. Whitney to Death Valley’s Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level; until Alaska joined the Union in 1959 those were the highest and lowest points in the entire United States.  My book documents the seven-day 143-mile trek I and three of my friends made, with the help of a support party and a lot of moleskin.

Would you undertake a challenge like that again?

Not likely.

What is one of the high points of this journey?

Mt. Whitney.  (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)  I suppose the high point would be early in the walk, on the second day from Whitney.  We’d hiked a bit off course to get to a phone booth located in the old town of Keeler, where I called home and my stepdaughter told me the Oakland Tribune newspaper had run a Sunday article on our trip.  It was from an interview done a couple weeks earlier and contained our picture and these final words which I still know by heart because they made such an impression on us; “If all goes well, four figures dressed in ghostly white will emerge from the shimmering desert near Badwater in eight to ten days.”  Any thoughts of quitting that might have been skittering around the corners of our thoughts were expunged by that beckoning vision, at least for the time being.

Describe Death Valley.  

It’s well-named.  The summer heat out there itself holds a world record in the Guinness book–134° logged on July 10, 1913.  A person can’t function very long, if at all, in that kind of heat.   We didn’t measure the air temperature on our walk, but we did take a reading of the ground temperature with a meat thermometer in Panamint Valley and it was 165° just before noon.  I would say the heat we encountered was just short of debilitating in Death Valley, even at night.  And the walking surface out there was the worst on the trip–jagged rocks and salt pinnacles.  If you’re already beat half to death, it’s a bad place to put yourself.

Did you and your friends meet others along the way and what was that like?

We met very few people once we hit the Mojave Desert.  And outside of a ranger on Mt. Whitney, I don’t recall talking to anybody except a few drivers while we were walking the roads. They kept offering us a lift.  You have no idea how hard that was to turn down.   Our campsites we just set up whenever we got too tired to walk.  We’d scouted the route and had several wide spots scoped out and we even used one or two of them.  Nobody ever came around our camps.

What was your learning experience while writing this story?

Well I intended to keep a daily journal the entire trip so I wouldn’t have to trust to memory, but that sort of went by the wayside after a couple days, when the focus somehow shifted from keeping a record to just keeping upright, period.  So, I did have to trust to memory which can be a little scary if you’re really concerned with getting the right happenings in the right order.  I am sure of the book’s overall accuracy but I wouldn’t want to swear to the details.  You just have to recall things the best you can and get on to the next page.  So, I learned you should keep good notes if you intend to write about some event in particular.

Do you have any new writing projects in the works?

Not at the moment.  My wife and I are in the process of moving to a new house in Nevada so I’m just too busy.  There.  That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Where can readers buy your book?

Amazon is about the only place at this time, but we hope to place them in both Mt. Whitney’s lodge and the visitor’s center at Furnace Creek.  Hopefully, this interview may even help with that stuff.

Thank you, Jim!

To purchase this book, click HERE to the Amazon links.

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Jim Andersen who is the author of, Sometimes a Great Notion…Isn’t, so much, 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, Sometimes a Great Notion…Isn’t, so much, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

indiebrag-team-member

 

 

Interview with Award Winning Author Molly Greene

MollyGreeneHeadshot2

I’d like to welcome Award Winning Author Molly Greene to Layered Pages today. Molly writes the Gen Delacourt Mystery Series, which includes Mark of the Loon, The Last Fairytale, Paint Me Gone, A Thousand Tombs, Swindle Town, Lock the Cellar Door, Midnight at Half Moon Bay, The India Archives, and, out soon, Burn Rubber. For freebies, giveaways, and news about upcoming releases, join her Reader’s Club.

Thank you for talking with me today, Molly. Tell me how you discovered indieBRAG?

Hello Stephanie, it’s a pleasure to join you, thanks so much for the opportunity to talk about myself and my books! I heard about the indieBRAG program through my friend Virginia King, author and fellow B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree. Virginia is a staunch supporter of the program, and suggested I apply when I inquired about the Medallion on her book’s cover. I’m thrilled to have been chosen.

Please tell me a little about the premise of your book.

Mark of the Loon

Mark of the Loon is about a single, semi-isolated, thirty-something female real estate agent who falls in love with a cottage, side-steps a potential relationship and several obstacles to buy it, then slowly discovers that the house is so much more than it appears to be on the surface. As she and college friend Gen Delacourt unravel the mysteries attached to the property, she examines her personal issues and (better late than never) embarks on a new chapter of her life. Every title in my Gen Delacourt series involves a mystery, but also reveals some level of personal growth on the part of the characters.

Tell me a little about Madison and her strengths and weaknesses.

Madison is strong, disciplined, knowledgeable, and resourceful, but afraid of getting too close to a man. She has great relationships with smart, supportive, funny women. She does what she says she will do. She’s not afraid of taking risks, unless that risk involves her heart.

What is some of the history that surrounds this story?

The plot involves WWII, an Irish spy, Nazi looting, and Hitler’s plan to destroy the economics of the US and the UK by flooding the market with counterfeit bills.

How did you come to write this story and how many books will be in this series?

I’m an avid reader of mysteries and I love great writing, but over the years I grew tired of all the graphic gore and serial killers and child predators and unnecessary sex that so many authors depend on. So I set out to write a book that did not incorporate those things. The plot grew in my mind while my dog and I were on our daily walks, something I still rely on to hash things out as I’m writing.

Since then, I’ve grown the series to include eight titles with plots that avoid all the above-mentioned elements. I’m planning at least twelve Gen Delacourt Mysteries, then I’ll write a few standalones and/or another series that spin off a couple of Gen’s secondary characters I’ve grown to love.

What is the easiest and most difficult part of writing a series?

The most fabulous part by far is getting to know and understand characters so well that I know exactly what they’ll say and how they’ll react in most situations. It’s like having invisible friends! The challenging part, especially since I avoid many typical plot situations (sex, cursing, gore) is coming up with plausible cases and situations for my characters to react to. So far I’ve had great good fortune making this happen. I have two future book ideas in my head, and I also keep a file of real-life articles about weird and wacky stuff that might prove interesting for future story lines and characters.

How long did it take for you to write your story and what was your process?

I began LOON in 2009 when I was working full time, and it took a year to complete the first rough draft. A dozen full-book edits later it was published in 2012, then I edited the manuscript again in 2013. From 2014-2015 I wrote like a madwoman, publishing four more titles, then slowed a bit. Eight are available at this writing. My goal now is to publish two new titles a year.

Where can readers buy your book?

Amazon, of course, and other major online booksellers.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

I have a marketing background and have always done a lot of business-related writing. I wrote narrative poetry when I was in high school. I never planned to be a writer of fiction; not until I sent Mark of the Loon to a friend to read and she told me she couldn’t put it down. I chose to believe her and embarked on a new path.

What are some of the writing tools you have learned along that way that has helped you?

I’m a panster at heart, which means I don’t know how a book will end until I’m at least halfway there. At first, I wrote knowing nothing about future events in the plot. But having a clue about what’s going to happen before it does helps an author write faster, so now I do a bit of outlining before each book, usually the first 10 chapters or so. That way I have to backtrack less, revise less, and it gives me an opportunity to think up cool scenes I might otherwise miss. Outlining is one of the best production-boosting tools I’ve learned.

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

I write mystery novels that include elements of cozy mysteries and women’s fiction. So far, all these stories are set in California. They each feature strong, independent female characters who are professional and/or amateur sleuths. My novels are both character and plot-driven, include both friend and romantic relationship elements, but no graphic sex or gore. My protagonists are flawed and smart and imperfect but manage to improve, both personally and professionally, in some way, through every story line. Think whodunit suspense solved by smart women!

# # #

Links:

Website

Facebook

Goodreads

Twitter

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Molly Greene who is the author of, Mark of the Loon, 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, Mark of the Loon, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

indiebrag-team-member

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.

indiebrag-team-member