Blog 174: The Magic of Woven Words – Author Interview #53

Dear Readers,

I finally have the book I have been wanting to read and that is – People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry. I fell in love with this Author’s writing after I read Beach Read. What are you all reading?

A huge Thank You and a Loud Shout out to the Author Quinn Miller–  for agreeing to participate and kind enough to send prompt response to all my questions.

Quinn Miller   –  Better Days (Available on Amazon for purchase.)

–>  A Brief Bio (As is written by the Author)

I have been an avid reader most of my life. I think books have always been an escape for me. When I feel lost in life or the weight of my world gets to be too much, I can escape into another. Some of my favorite books are Count of Monte Cristo, the Catcher in the Rye, The Last Lecture, and as for current reads, The Ravenhood Series by Kate Stewart. I have loved words and their power for as long as I can remember. My family loves to tease when I was little, I’d create scenes and pick friends up and place them where I wanted them to be and make everyone act out what was in my mind. In high school, I survived by writing poetry. I am sure I drove the boys I dated crazy with the letters I’d write to them. I have always felt it is more to write than to say. Verbal words can be forgotten but written, there is always a record.

Question 1: Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about? Where do you draw inspiration from?

Author’s Response:  My debut novel releases 2/2 and am currently finishing up self-edits on my second book. My second book, tentatively titled, Reason, is about perception and how even when we view ourselves as broken, someone else sees us as the treasure we are.

Question 2: What is your work schedule like when you are writing? Describe your writing space. What time of the day do you usually write?

Author’s Response:  I work a “normal” job on top of writing and have a family, so my writing usually happens at night. I am often up till three a.m. We have a home office that my husband and I share with a two-sided desk. I create a playlist depending on the book I am writing and usually listen to only that playlist. I slip on my headphones and get in the zone for that book.

Question 3:    Is there lots to do before you drive in and start writing the story?

Author’s Response:  The first thing I do is try to figure out my characters. I ask myself what are their personalities, maybe some quirks? I often search Pinterest for photos till I spot someone that looks like the image in my head. I have my next series plotted out, but they are siblings of my main male character in my current work in progress, so I had to write out a family tree and figure out all the sibling relationships now to properly write this character.

Question 4: What are you reading now? Do you listen to audiobooks? If so, are there any you’d recommend?

Author’s Response:  I am about to start Sinful Heir, by Michelle Heard. I listen to audiobooks when I am driving and when I am cooking and cleaning; it helps pass the time. Kandi Steiner just put out a three-book compilation, The Pain in Loving You I just listened to. Dirty English by Ilsa Madden-Mills, and Carnage by Lesley Jones are good time suck audiobooks. They pull you in and time passes without you realizing.

Question 5:   Recommend three of your favorite books to the readers.

Author’s Response:  Oh gosh, this is hard. I read, A LOT. If I had to pick, I’d say,

Only Series (let’s just pretend it counts for one) by Cristin Harber

Drive by Kate Stewart

Sacrifice by Adriana Locke.

Author’s Favorite Quote:  One of my favorite bookish quotes is by Virginia Woolf, “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.”

#Stayhungrystaybookish

Lots of love,

mrsswiftnib

Blog 173 : Mid Month Check In -1

Dear Readers,

From this month onwards I am going to be posting a Mid Month Check In just to check if my reading goals are in track or I am totally off track. Anyone else who will be doing this? Let me know in the comments below.

At the beginning of January, I had set SIX books as my Reading Goal. Here is a list of all the books completed so far,

  1. The High 5 Habit by Mel Robbins : Nonfiction : Hard Copy
  2. Six Angry Girls by Adrienne Kisner : Fiction : Audio
  3. Dear Santa by Debbie Macomber : Fiction : Audio

I am half way through and I have read a total of THREE books, out of which TWO are audiobooks. Let see how many books I can finish to wrap this month up.

How are all your reading goals coming along? Are you all going to complete it, exceed it or lag behind? Let me know in the comments below.

Have a great weekend peeps! Stay Calm and Read On!

#Stayhungrystaybookish

Lots of love,

mrsswiftnib

Blog 172: January Reading Goals

Dear Readers,

Happy New Year My Fellow Readers. May it filled with more bookish adventures and great reading fortunes. Cheers to a more greater reading year 2022!!

Last year was an okay-ish reading year and I finished the entire year with a mere twenty eight books. How was your year? Have you got your reading goals for this year penned down? Well, I have mine and let’s see how the year enfolds.

I have my reading list for this month all listed and sorted out. Let the reading begin.

My January Reading Goals,

1.) Turn A Blind Eye – By Jeffrey Archer

2.) The Cambodian Book of Dead – By Tom Vater

3.) The High 5 Habit – By Mel Robbins

4.) The Road Trip – By Beth O’Leary

5.) Unfinished – By Priyanka Chopra

6.) Six Angry Girls – By Adreinne Kisner

Audio Books : 1

Non-fiction : 2

Fiction : 3

Let’s see how this month goes. Let me know your Reading Goals.

Happy January; Happy Reading Y’All!

#Stayhungrystaybookish

Lots of love,

mrsswiftnib

Blog 171 : Massage is Therapeutic my fellow Bookworms!

Dear Readers,

Happy Thanksgiving Y’All!

Holidays is round the corner and I am excited. Are you all excited too? Having said that, it also dawns on me that it’s the last month and I am lagging behind with my TBR. How about you? Are you in sync with your TBR or way behind like me? I plan to finish atleast five more books before I bid adieu to this year. How about a therapeutic massage before we all dive our noses into our books?

A couple of days ago I was yearning for a massage and had no idea which place to choose. Luck by chance, I stumbled upon this astounding spa and it blew my mind. For a few months I have had this nagging lower back ache. Nothing helped soothe the pain till I went to this place for a massage. One hour session and I came out feeling like a new human being. I highly recommend this place and here is what they are offering for the holidays season.

Block your date for DECEMBER 2nd and go get yourself a relaxing spa. I hope you all love it as much as I did or more.

Happy Relaxation and Happy Reading Lovelies!

#Stayhungrystaybookish

Lots of love,

mrsswiftnib

Blog 170: The Magic of Woven Words – Author Interview #52

Dear Readers,

Holidays are round the corner. What books are you all reading? Do you have a holiday reading list ready? I will make mine ready this weekend. Hope you make it too.

A huge Thank You and a Loud Shout out to the Author Tracy, Alnaaze & Louise –  for agreeing to participate and kind enough to send prompt response to all my questions.

Question 1:  What inspired you to start writing? When did you start writing?

Author’s Response: 

Tracy: I was a ridiculously precocious reader with a lot of words in my head from very early on, so I have been writing since I was really small. I started writing more seriously in my teens and joined a writers group as the token 13-year-old. But I never thought of trying to publish my writing until a few years ago.

Alnaaze: I used to love writing as a kid, and wrote lots of short stories and poetry in and out of school. I even illustrated a book about a little rabbit going on adventures when I was 10 (I am a terrible artist, that poor rabbit looked ridiculous). I never really thought about publishing my writing as a viable option for me until recently: as I got older it was more about “ok, what kind of training can I get to get a job to earn a living?” versus anything else. I was lucky in that in working in humanitarian aid and public health I have found work that I love to do, but I love writing too. Now I’m trying to find a way to balance both.These days, what inspires me in my writing is what I like to call activist writing – these don’t have to be angry pieces or strong opinion pieces, but stories with a focus on change: change of thinking, ideals, mindsets, focusing on representation of under represented or discriminated communities, telling their stories in a fun and interesting way.

Louise: Like the others, I guess I always enjoyed writing but didn’t really think of it as an actual thing I could get into. It wasn’t until I found myself in the company of many amazing and creative writers in my local community a few years back that I felt inspired (and encouraged) to give it a go. I have a pretty broad range of interests and that also filtered through to my writing, one minute I would have a go at writing for children, creating fictional, fun and silly pieces, the next diving into non fiction and fact based exploratory work, and then of course stretching all the way to creating an anthology of personal essays with Tracy & Alnaaze. I love the diversity available in the writing world, which seems to suit the way my brain works.

Question 2:  What in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Author’s Response: 

Tracy: I don’t feel like I’m any kind of authority on objectively judging writing. I like writers who take risks. When we were selecting essays for Keeping It Under Wraps, I was drawn to stories that were particularly courageous, that laid out their deepest unexpressed fears or thoughts. And sometimes they have to be ridiculously funny, because the topics are so heartbreaking at times.

Alnaaze: It’s hard to say, because there are some writers that people adore and think are geniuses that bore me to tears. I remember reading one book with a writing group (I won’t say which one …) but the other readers were in love with it, but it drove me so crazy I wanted to throw the book out the window.

In the end, for me, it’s all about authenticity. I want to hear an authentic voice with an interesting story. Working on Keeping Under Wraps was very much in this vein: we wanted to hear real stories coming from the heart, from lives lead, versus the usual inspo nonsense we see so much of.

Louise: Ohh this is a tricky question. Writing and anything creative can be so subjective, for instance I’m really not a fan of poetry, writing or reading it. When you are looking to advise ‘what makes a good writer’ or ‘what makes good writing’ I always say it has to be something that comes from within. Something you feel naturally inspired by and that brings you joy. First and foremost, write for you, write the things that speak to you, the stuff that intrigues and inspires you. Writing doesn’t necessarily have to be for anyone, you can still be a writer and a good writer, even if you choose never to share your stories.

Question 3:  On a typical day, how much time do you spend writing? Describe your writing space.

Author’s Response: 

Tracy: I try to write a couple of times a week — I run a business, I’m studying at university, I have a family that insist on spending time together for some reason. It’s hard to balance everything but we have a great group of local writers in Zurich who meet weekly, and that’s a great chance to write.

Alnaaze: It’s really hard when you’re working full time, but what really helps me is that we have a great writing community here in Zurich, and we meet regularly to write together. It’s a way not only to be motivated and build a writing community, but also to make sure I carve out time regularly for my writing. I had set up a nice work space at home, close to the window with lots of light, but actually my best place to write is in cafés – cliché I know! But the background noise really helps my focus, strangely enough.

Louise: I write from home most days, when my brain and family allow! I try to sit down and do at least an hour a day but you can easily get distracted by life, so having a community who I can sit and write with is one of the best and most effective way of getting myself to buckle down and concentrate, I think I need accountability! My favorite place to write is in a cafe, or bookstore, I like the buzz of people around me, the background hum, and of course, enjoying a nice coffee and croissant too!

Question 4:  Who is your favorite author and why? Recommend three of your favorite books to your readers.

Author’s Response: 

Tracy: I really love Connie Willis’s very British time-travel stories. To Say Nothing of the Dog is a great homage to Edwardian satirical writing but with a science-fiction twist.

Alnaaze: I adore Colleen McCullough, an Australian writer who wrote a magnificent series of books called the Masters of Rome Series. I’m also a huge fan of Guy Gavrial Kay,  a Canadian Fantasy fiction writer – I have old, battered copies of the Lions of Al-Rassan and The Fionavar Tapestry that have a space in my suitcase in every country I’ve ever lived in.

Louise: I love a lot of nonfiction books. I am neurodivergent so I love reading biographies and books that feature other neurodivergent people like me. Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess) is one of my all time favorites, her book Furiously Happy, had me laughing, crying and nodding along in agreement. I am also a fan of Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and A Half is another nonfiction, but this time a graphic novel, following her ups and downs, unfortunate situations and her slightly peculiar dog. My third recommendation would have to be The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy. It’s technically a children’s book but it’s so beautiful and I think it speaks to all ages.

#Stayhungrystaybookish

Lots of love,

mrsswiftnib

Blog 169: The Magic of Woven Words – Author Interview #51

Dear Readers,

A huge Thank You and a Loud Shout out to the Author Andrew Colvin–  for agreeing to participate and kind enough to send prompt response to all my questions.

Andrew Colvin   –  The Mad Girl (Available on Amazon for purchase.)

–>  A Brief Bio (As is written by the Author)

Hi readers. Thank you, Mrswiftnb, for deciding to interview me for your Blog. I thoroughly enjoy reading every issue and learning about my fellow authors. My real name is David Stanasolovich, though I use Andrew Colvin as my pseudonym. Today, I live in Phoenix, Arizona in the US. I was a long-time resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico where my novel takes place. We lived in the same house that my protagonist, Cee Stark, resides in The Mad Girl. I ran in the dark every morning on the same roads that Cee runs on. I enjoy building my story world on places I’m familiar with and researching everything else. I always wanted to work in science or engineering so went to college for B.S. degrees in Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering – a jack of all trades but a master of none, as my dad used to say. I work in the high-tech industry as a strategic planning director and engineer. When I was young, I devoured science fiction, history, and biographies. In college, I began to read fiction starting with the classics and moving to current authors. Today, my favorite genres are young adult and adult psychological suspense and thrillers. I began writing in earnest about 11 years ago after many years of dabbling with languid paragraphs.

Question 1:   Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?

Author’s Response: The Mad Girl explores how the traumatized teenage Cee Stark is betrayed by several adults who she turns to for help. She is being investigated for several deaths and struggles in a Lord of the Flies environment at her Albuquerque high school. This adds to Cee’s emotional difficulties as she struggles to find her way back to happiness.

One clue to the arc of the story is the opening quote: “Ein von Ereignissen gebrochener Geist sieht Wege, die am Rande der Realität existieren.” Translated, this means: “A mind broken by events sees paths that exist on the edge of reality.” Cee Stark struggles to determine the threats that are real from the ones that are only in her thoughts.

Question 2: Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about? Where do you draw inspiration from?

Author’s Response: I’m working on the sequel to The Mad Girl. The story follows the adult Cee Stark now working as a therapist with traumatized children. The story explores how different decisions can change a part of a person’s character but sometimes destiny pulls you back to your dark choices.

I read and listen to many fiction books, and to non-fiction about psychology, mental illness, and crime. I discuss many situations and issues with my daughter who works in the field.

Question 3: On a typical day, how much time do you spend writing?

Author’s Response: During the week, my days are consumed by my day job, but I spend a few hours every night on my writing. On the weekends, I write for approximately five hours each on Saturday and Sunday. I love my time on the keyboard or with a yellow legal pad, developing sentences or improving my plot. I listen to my new chapters in my WIP on the Voice Dreams app while i’m hiking in the morning and on the weekends. I find that I can hear how the words flow better than just reading them on a page. Writing is my passion and I try to spend every free moment on it. 

Question 4:  Who is your favorite author and why? What are you reading now?

Author’s Response: For YA, I love Laurie Halse Anderson. She writes about difficult, realistic situations that pull my emotions and challenge my thinking. For Adult novels, my favorite author is Megan Abbott. Every one of her novels is filled with teen angst, crime, and unique situations. She is the master of noir. I don’t sleep much when a new Megan Abbott novel is released.

Question 5:  Recommend three of your favorite books to the readers.

Author’s Response: I’ll give you four:

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott

I’ve read each of these several times and listened to them on hikes. In Sharp Objects, I love that almost of all of the characters are damaged and fighting their own demons, and how the story is filled with unexpected twists and turns. Speak is a heartbreaking tale of sexual assault and ostracism by Melinda’s peers. Her journey to recovery through art was inspiring. The Road is an amazingly visual read as are most of McCarthy’s novels. The story is depressing but the beauty of the writing has prompted me to reread The Road several timesIn Give Me Your Hand, I love the dark relationship and competition between Kit and Diane that flows and rages throughout the storybursting to an unexpected climax like all Megan Abbott novels. I could list a few more but these are my current favorites. 

Author’s Favorite Quote: My favorite bookish quote is by Cormac McCarthy in The Road“You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget.” I like this quote because it describes a fundamental struggle in life, savoring the good memories and trying to avoid being haunted by the bad ones. The protagonist and antagonist in The Mad Girl, Cee Stark and Father Benkovsky, respectively, are haunted and changed by the trauma in their lives.

#Stayhungrystaybookish

Lots of love,

mrsswiftnib

Blog 168: The Magic of Woven Words – Author Interview #50

Dear Readers,

I just wrapped up a fantastic book and I am definitely going to post a review soon. Stay tuned. Did you all read anything fun? Let me know.

A huge Thank You and a Loud Shout out to the Author Drew Paige–  for agreeing to participate and kind enough to send prompt response to all my questions.

–>  A Brief Bio (As is written by the Author)

I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago.  As a child I loved reading Dr. Seuss, The Secret Garden, and Judy Bloom books.  
I have always written in journals my whole life from age eight until my late thirties.  It was a way for me to keep a time line of my life events which has been super helpful for my memoir.  
I have always loved mystery, memoirs, thrillers, psychology, biographies, and fiction. 

Question 1:  Can you share a snippet that isn’t in the blurb or excerpt?

Author’s Response:  I decided to write a story of my life in October 2020, I never imagined that I would have a published book in August of 2021. It feels like a dream and I am so grateful! My book will be available for pre-sale in April 2021 on my Instagram page drewpaige_author.  It will be available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble in August of 2021. 

Question 2:  Describe your writing space. Is there lots to do before you drive in and start writing the story?

Author’s Response:  My writing space is my home library and also my sun room in my home.  They are both well-lit with natural sunlight coming in from the windows.  I always feel inspired writing in both of these spaces.  There is not much to do before I write, I have an incredible memory for my memoir the stories that I share flow onto the page easily. 

Question 3:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Author’s Response:  I write in long spans of time; I take hours of the day and just continuously write my thoughts onto the page then chapters are created.  

Question 4:  Who is your favorite author and why? What book is currently on your bedside table?

Author’s Response: My favorite author is James Frey who wrote A Million Little Pieces.  He has a style of writing that makes me continuously want to keep turning the page.  He has a fast intense pace about his style of writing.  

Author’s Response:
The books on my bedside table:

The Glass Castle by: Jeannette Walls

An Unquiet Mind by: Kay Redfield Jamison

The Body Keeps Score: Brian, Mind, And Body in the Healing of Trauma by: Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.

Question 5:   Recommend three of your favorite books to the readers.

Author’s Response:

A Million Little Pieces by: James Frey

The Glass Castle by: Jeannette Walls

Room by: Emma Donoghue

Author’s Favorite Quote: My favorite book quote is from Tao Te Ching-By-Lao Tzu: 

“One who lives in accordance with nature does not go against the way of things.  He moves in harmony with the present moment always knowing the truth of just what to do.”

#Stayhungrystaybookish

Lots of love,

mrsswiftnib

Blog 167: The Magic of Woven Words – Author Interview #49

Dear Readers,

A huge Thank You and a Loud Shout out to the Author E.K. Barnes –  for agreeing to participate and kind enough to send prompt response to all my questions.

E.K Barnes   –  When the Divine are Dead (Available on Amazon for purchase.)

–>  A Brief Bio (As is written by the Author)

I grew up in the Kansas City area, the oldest of three children. I loved to read as a child. I remember getting a box set of the Junie B. Jones series when I was either in kindergarten or first grade. I ended up reading those books really quickly and fell in love with Junie B. Jones, always anticipating the next release. I would save my money so I could buy more of those books. As I grew older, I got into fantasy a little bit, enjoying books about mermaids and magic. I loved the Twilight series and the Percy Jackson series when I was in middle school. In high school and college, I mainly stuck to contemporary or realistic fiction, reading works by Ellen Hopkins and Rainbow Rowell. Recently, I’ve come to realize that it is the contemporary fantasy genre where my heart truly lies.

            I started writing when I was a kid. I would write all sorts of short stories. In fact, it would bother me a lot that I’d get to the climax so quickly in my writing, because I wanted to be able to stretch out a story long enough to be a novel. In the fifth grade, I started outlining a book called Everyone’s Different that was originally contemporary realistic fiction, but I couldn’t keep my love for fantasy out of it and ended up giving those characters powers. It dealt with some heavy real world issues and kind of evolved from there into a series. That book came out this past October with an updated storyline. It ended up being called When the Divine Are Dead.

Question 1:  Can you share a snippet that isn’t in the blurb or excerpt? What was the inspiration for the story?

Author’s Response:  “Where have you been?” Serena screamed in my face.

I hadn’t crossed the threshold yet. I was pretty sure her constant frustration with everyone and everything stunted her growth. I pushed past her without answering.

She slammed the door shut and spun around. I was mildly surprised that she was the only one in the entryway. My mom must have known I would be returning safely. It bugged me that her ridiculously reliable knowledge hadn’t reassured Serena in the slightest.

“Why are you so pigheaded?” I asked, stalking off to the kitchen in search of a snack. All the adults were in the living room telling stories. Mom was the only one who turned her head at the sound of my voice. She winked smugly before rejoining the conversation. Serena’s face was tinged with red. “Are you okay?” I asked, not really interested in the answer. “You look like you’re about to have an aneurysm.”

She tried to slam her hand on the counter, and we were both shocked by the lack of noise her action made. Serena’s hand had gone straight through the island and was lost somewhere inside the inner workings. For a second, she struggled to pull it out, and when she did, a can of peas was in her hand. She gingerly positioned the can on the countertop and took a deep breath. The color from her face was starting to turn back to its normal tone.

I laughed as I watched her slowly gain control. “You could benefit from some anger management classes.”

I’m not really sure what the original inspiration for this story was. When I first came up with the characters as well as the original storyline, I was only ten years old. That age seems to be when some of the darker realities of life make themselves known. For some, it’s earlier, but for me, it was a point when I really became fascinated with hard topics. I wanted to be able to tackle those issues—issues that other kids were maybe facing—and be able to write a redemption story out of them. When I dug out all my old notes last year to rewrite this story with a new spin, it was at a strange time in my life. I found myself thinking about the opening scene in the first chapter for the first time in a long time. In fact, out of the blue, I was so inspired to write it that I stopped what I was doing at my day job and wrote out the first couple paragraphs. That’s when I decided I was back in the writing game. I had been struggling with heavy writer’s block for years before that day. I’m so glad that I decided to pick this book back up. It’s been a real adventure.

Question 2: What is the key theme and/or message in the book? Tell us about the process for coming up with the cover.

Author’s Response:  The key theme of When the Divine Are Dead ended up being about racism and racial prejudice, specifically toward Romani. It was not a theme that I intended on using. I usually shied away from those topics. The original story had ties to World War II, but those ties were hardly discussed. In fact, my characters were not originally of Romani or Jewish descent, although they had been targeted during the war. This time around, I got about a third of the way through writing the first draft when I realized that the story wouldn’t be complete without that tie-in, especially if I was to continue referencing the Second World War. It made a lot more sense for my characters to be Romani, which ended up fueling the main issue in the storyline. The second I decided to include that, the entire story fell together perfectly.

The book cover was designed by my sister, KT Barnes, who had recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design. We actually went through several different designs before landing on the current one. She insisted on reading the book first before she tried to come up with any design ideas so that she could get an accurate feel for what the book was about. She read the first draft since it was still in its editing stages when she came up with the design. At first, she wanted to include the chandelier from chapter thirteen on the cover. The chandelier scene is an important part of the book. It occurs when the characters first realize that they’re being targeted. One of the characters ends up magically recreating this room, the chandelier doubling in size, it’s crystals reaching the floor. It’s actually a pretty fun scene. However, the design that she came up with was something I didn’t really like for the front cover. Eventually, we landed on the idea of the crystal ball. The narrator’s mother is a fortune teller, so it was an ode to her career. Not only that, but there are several psychics in the story who fear trouble is coming. My narrator, Bradley, ended up on the cover inside the crystal ball, running from an unknown danger. This is kind of a shout-out to his fear that he is the trouble that everyone’s been warning about. Bradley is very insecure about himself. He’s constantly feeling like he is running from his problems.

Question 3:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? Describe your perfect book hero or heroine.

Author’s Response: I would say one of my most interesting writing quirks would be that I write the old-fashioned way. The ideas flow way better when I have a pencil in my hand than when I’m staring at a screen. That doesn’t seem to be very common anymore. I know so many authors and writers who cringe at the idea. I wrote most of When the Divine Are Dead on paper. Since I work full time outside of my writing career, I’m always carrying paper wherever I go in case I am struck with inspiration while I’m away from my personal computer. I can often be seen carrying a notebook or binder around or jotting a few sentences down on sticky notes.

My perfect book hero is the classic “normal girl” trope who happens upon something magical. She’s a quick study, but might underestimate her strength until it comes down to the climax when she learns she’s stronger than she thinks she is. I love that version of a book’s hero as it’s deeply relatable.

Question 4:  Describe your writing space. What are you reading now?

Author’s Response: I don’t really have a specific writing space. I wish I did. I’ve been thinking about setting one up, but I know I won’t use it. I’m very much the type of person who writes whenever inspiration strikes her, which means I am everywhere when I am writing. It can be hard to pin down a specific place that would be good for me. My mind is always wandering off, which means I sometimes have to physically chase my imagination.

I am currently reading The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley. I’m about halfway through it. I’m finding the connections between the characters very interesting. I’m excited to see how it ends!

Question 5:  Recommend three of your favorite books to the readers.

Author’s Response: I’ve read so many great books, so I’m just gonna pick my favorite three that I read in 2020.

  1. Legendborn by Tracy Deonn—this book literally just won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award. It was my absolute favorite book to read last year. I was not expecting to love it as much as I did. Tying historical elements into a contemporary fantasy while also tackling issues of racism is what really drew me to the story. It gave a new spin on the King Arthur legends that I wasn’t expecting.
  2. The Best Kind of Magic by Crystal Cystari—This is actually the first book in a contemporary fantasy trilogy. It’s what reminded me of my love for reading fantasy. I love that it was nice clean fun. It can be so difficult sometimes to find lighter reads where I don’t have to worry about potentially heavy triggers. I was worried it was going to be too sappy for me with the main character being a matchmaker, but it actually turned out really fun!
  3. The Fascinators by Andrew Eliopulos—When I finished reading this book in May, I thought it was going to be my favorite read for the entire year. Obviously, that changed after I read the above books, but this contemporary fantasy was the first of that genre that I had read in a long time. The main character actually reminded me of my brother with them both being redheads. I like that it included LGBTQ+ main characters, especially ones with supportive parents. I’ve seen an uptick in representation lately and this book did not disappoint. I liked how open magic was in this story, instead of it being a secret. It was still frowned upon, especially in religious circles, but I felt like that was a clever real-world tie-in considering the story is set in Georgia.

Author’s Favorite Quote: One of my favorite bookish quotes would have to be from The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. It’s a little typical, but I find it to hold true. “We accept the love we think we deserve.”

#Stayhungrystaybookish

Lots of love,

mrsswiftnib

Blog 166: The Magic of Woven Words – Author Interview #48

Dear Readers,

A huge Thank You and a Loud Shout out to the Author B.A. Bellec–  for agreeing to participate and kind enough to send prompt response to all my questions.

B.A Bellec   –  Someone’s Story

–>  A Brief Bio (As is written by the Author)

I was not a heavy reader growing up. I would usually only read something after the movie was made. If it was a series of novels, I would watch the first movie and then pick up the rest of the books if I liked it. In terms of favorites, I would say I am into pop culture. I can find things to like in almost anything.

I started writing seriously in my early 30’s. Up until then, it was just something in the back of my mind and I started using writing to ask and sort out the big questions I was thinking about.

Question 1: What inspired you to start writing?  How long have you been writing?

Author’s Response: I have been writing seriously for about 4 years now. My first book came out last year. My second book is coming later this year. My third book is underway. My desire to start writing came from a few places. I think more than anything I was looking for a medium where I could ask big questions and then share the work when it was done. There is something selfish about asking these questions and then keeping the knowledge to yourself. Also, I am very introverted so I like spending hours in my mind thinking.

Question 2: What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out? Just start. You have to start putting words down or it will never happen. Don’t rush. Take your time. Revise it over and over again. Outside that, begin the marketing now. Get on social media. Read and connect with people in the community. I had no idea how much marketing was involved in the author job. My first year after publishing has been more about marketing than writing. I wish I had started building the audience sooner.

Question 3: What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?

Author’s Response:  Just start. You have to start putting words down or it will never happen. Don’t rush. Take your time. Revise it over and over again. Outside that, begin the marketing now. Get on social media. Read and connect with people in the community. I had no idea how much marketing was involved in the author job. My first year after publishing has been more about marketing than writing. I wish I had started building the audience sooner.

Question 4: What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?How much ‘world building’ takes place before you start writing? What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)?  What are you reading now?

Author’s Response: I do spend a fair amount of time thinking my ideas through. The project I am on now is called Pulse. I have been thinking about it for at least 5 years. I only started writing last year. So in that case I spent a few hours here and there over 4 years setting up everything. Good writing is subjective and we all have differing opinions. Some projects have smaller scopes and different audiences. There isn’t a right answer but what I look for is passion coming from the author. Little details and nuggets to show the author spent a long-time thinking about this and paying attention to small things.

I have grown immensely as a person. Writing has made me question lots about myself and pick up a ton of new skills. I also get to engage with a series of amazing communities. I interact with the #writingcommunity on Twitter, the #bookstagram accounts of Instagram, and the #booktube video-makers of YouTube. So many awesome people and it is a caring and giving community I am happy to be a part of.

One of the things that I didn’t plan was I started producing music while I was waiting for my books to be edited. In two years I have close to ten songs done and 7 are released on my YouTube channel. It’s been fun making those songs. Limitless is the biggest one yet. The entire video is animated in pixel art and I wrote a short story to go with it. The entire project took 6+ months and outside of my books is the biggest creative endeavor I have ever been a part of.

Here is the link to that song:

The way I give back is I have started helping authors by making review videos myself and posting them across all the platforms I am on. I also get to interact with the authors that wrote the books which is so cool. Even having written two books myself, I get almost a childlike wonder when I get to interact with another author. Recently I read Pretty Lies by Jessica Scurlock,  Age of the Almek by Tara A. Lake, and Magic or Die by J.P. Jackson. All of which are fantastic books coming from authors with smaller platforms. There are just a ton of gems out there!

Here is the link to my Author Review videos:

Question 5:  Recommend three of your favorite books to the readers.

Author’s Response: It’s tough to pick just 3 so I will go with the books that inspired my projects.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky inspired Someone’s Story.

It by Stephen King is a huge inspiration for Pulse.

Contact by Carl Sagan is a story that is weaving inspiration into my sequel for Pulse.

My first novel, Someone’s Story, is free: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/wxvruuyk87

Pulse is coming later this year. Subscribe to me on YouTube and social media to stay in the loop: https://www.youtube.com/c/BABellecsProductionStudio

Author’s Favorite Quote: A quote I like is “we accept the love we think we deserve” by Stephen Chbosky in The Perks of Becoming a Wallflower.

#Stayhungrystaybookish

Lots of love,

mrsswiftnib

Blog 165: The Magic of Woven Words – Author Interview #47

Dear Readers,

A huge Thank You and a Loud Shout out to the Author Charis Bell –  for agreeing to participate and kind enough to send prompt response to all my questions.

Charis Bell   –  Diary of a Diva & The Peasant’s Choice (Both are available on Amazon.)

–>  A Brief Bio (As is written by the Author)

I struggled to read for most of my childhood – I found it difficult so I didn’t like reading. That said, there are books that stand out in my memory. For example, it was a treat when my third-grade teacher would read to us the Junie. B. Jones series. By fifth grade, I would pick books based on their covers with the sole purpose of drawing the cover. One of those books was Anne of Green Gables. I figured I might as well read it. I laboured over it and renewed it multiple times – but I was in awe that a book had the power to make me feel. That was a turning point for me.

I love biographies – especially ones written like a novel. I really enjoy reading other people’s stories.

Question 1:  What inspired you to start writing? When did you start writing?

Author’s Response: I always liked creating stories in my mind, but I didn’t start writing them down until jr. high or high school – mostly when I was bored in class! I thought there was something magical about stringing words together into beautiful and meaningful stories.

Usually life events inspire me – almost like a therapeutic way to deal with life. I enjoy reading and sharing with people the power of words; they can encourage and they can heal, they can bring joy. I hope my novels are encouraging and uplifting. For example, the one that is currently being edited, I wrote in response to a novel I had to read in university. It was so hopeless, I remember flinging the book across the room and thinking there has to be more hope than that. So, I decided to write a book dealing with the exact issue. Stay tuned 😉

Question 2:  On a typical day, how much time do you spend writing? Is there lots to do before you drive in and start writing the story?

Author’s Response: That depends entirely on the season of life I am in. I would say I think about writing everyday but I don’t always get the chance to actually sit down and write. I am constantly jotting down notes on my phone, or a notebook, or even scrap paper. For my first novel, I had two months where I could sit for most of the day and just write – that was delightful! No project since has been like that; I have to write when I can, often between responsibilities, but that is okay too—there’s less forcing of the plot as I have more time to think through the story concepts.

Question 3: Who is your favorite author and why? What are you reading now?

Author’s Response:  Ruta Sepetys is brilliant and her writing is enchanting and her stories are SO important. She writes historical fiction, specifically hidden history, bringing to light so many important issues but in a readable and moving way. I cannot praise her enough! I have read three of her books and would love to read the others!

I spend most of my time reading non-fiction. I am currently reading Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy by Mark Vroegop, a book about grief. I am also working my way through the Hobbit.

Question 4: If you could ask one successful author three questions about their writing, writing process, or books, what would they be?

Author’s Response: This is an interesting question—I’d have to think about it more but for now I would say that I am always fascinated by WHY people write. For authors I truly love, I look up the answer, but I’d love to have a conversation with them about it. Similarly, I would like to know which books inspired them.

I am also curious about the intersection between craft and story – in other words, the way the words are strung together are as important to me as the plot, so I would like to hear their approach to their unique styles.

Question 5:  Recommend three of your favorite books to the readers.

Author’s Response:

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

Author’s Favorite Quote: As for my favorite quote – I have a whole notebook full of them – there are just too many!

#Stayhungrystaybookish

Lots of love,

mrsswiftnib

Blog 164: The Magic of Woven Words – Author Interview #46

Dear Readers,

A huge Thank You and a Loud Shout out to the Author Patrick Johns –  for agreeing to participate and kind enough to send prompt response to all my questions.

Patrick Johns   –  The Lost Soul (Book 2 is the Hoarding Series.)

–>  A Brief Bio (As is written by the Author)

Hello! I’m Patrick. I’m from Ramsey, New Jersey and studied industrial and systems engineering and mathematics at Virginia Tech. I didn’t discover my true passion for writing until I began working for a large engineering firm just outside Washington D.C. and came to the realization that I was on the wrong path. I came to a reflecting point in my life, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the time I have on this earth. I began to recall my childhood. I remembered how much I used to read as a child. Books like The Magic Treehouse series, the Harry Potter series, the Redwall series, and so much more. I remembered all the times I used to ride my bike to the bookstore just to be surrounded by books and discovering new adventures waiting to be read. I recalled all the short stories my teachers made us write in elementary school. All the song lyrics and poems I wrote during my teen angst years. The creative writing class I took just for fun in university. All of these memories were like different puzzle pieces, scattered across the table, and I was putting the pieces together to find my answer. Once I saw the completed puzzle, the answer was obvious: I didn’t want to solve problems in the real world; I wanted to solve problems in the worlds that I create. So, in 2016, I made it my goal to write a book and then leave my engineering job behind. In 2018, after I published Junkland, the first book in The Hoarding series, I left my engineering job and moved to Spain to teach English and pursue writing.

I now read more than ever. I love fantasy. Especially the series A Song of Ice and Fire, The Kingkiller Chronicles, and The Wheel of Time. I also like anything by Michael Crichton, especially Jurassic Park, Next, and Prey. I love reading a good mystery, too. I’ve been very into books like Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, and The Woman in Cabin 10.

Question 1:  Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?

Author’s Response: I can’t give away all my secrets! But I will say that The Lost Soul, book two of The Hoarding series, takes place just after the events of Junkland. It follows the main character, Jahrys Grent, as he finally realizes that what he really wanted, to become a knight and a hero, isn’t exactly what he needs. The Lost Soul follows Jahrys on his journey of discovering who he truly is. With a lengthy cast of new characters, the further development of old ones, a thickened plot, an expanded world, and a darker story, The Lost Soul will not disappoint readers as it will take them further across the Farrest Sea and maybe…just maybe…over the Western Mountains. 😉

Question 2: Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?

Author’s Response: I am currently preparing my poetry series, A Poetry Collection of Growing Up,for publication. This series focuses on the poems I wrote in the last twelve years of my life from the ages of sixteen to twenty-eight, focusing mainly on love, breakups, moving on, and change. These poems are my raw, true emotions I faced while I was a teenager, entering my young adult years as I experienced what love was and how much love could hurt when it’s taken away. This fall I will be publishing the first book in the series, Stages of a Scattered Mess, focusing on the themes of infatuation, love, and disillusion. The second book in the series, Stages of a Breakup, will focus on denial, anger, and depression. The final book in the series, Stages of a Healing Heart (title may change), will focus on the themes of false acceptance, true acceptance, and change. I am really excited to share this poetry series with my fans as I hope it helps someone else who is going through a hard time in their own lives, realizing that they are not alone.

This summer I plan to start outlining The Palms of Light, the third book in The Hoarding series. I would like to participate in NaNoWriMo in November (National Novel Writing Month), where participates have to write 50,000 words in a month. It’s a good way to really sit down and pump out a story. Unfortunately, I predict the word count for The Palms of Light will be well over 150,000 words, so it will take me three NaNoWriMos to finish it. I’m just praying book three won’t take me as long to write as The Lost Soul, which took me three and a half years to finish. Fingers crossed!

Question 3:  What do you like to do when you are not writing? Do you listen to audio books? If so, are there any you’d recommend?

Author’s Response: I do too many things. Sometimes it’s a curse because whenever I try to take a day to do absolutely nothing (sitting down on the couch and disconnecting from writing) I get to antsy, always feeling like I need to be doing something.

But when I’m not stuck behind my computer screen I’m traveling, surfing, doing yoga, reading with a cup of tea or out on the beach or near any kind of water, playing guitar and writing songs, performing at open mics, or playing Pokémon.

I listen to an audiobook every once in a while. I just downloaded the Libby app which gives you access to your library virtually. So I can now download eBooks and audiobooks available through my library. My plan is to switch over to the audiobook version of The Wheel of Times series because it’s just getting to be too much to read; I’ve heard the audiobook version makes it more enjoyable. I also like listening to self-help audiobooks. I’ve listened to both of Jen Sincero’s books, You Are a Badass and You Are a Badass at Making Money, and some good meditation books like The Power of Now and Total Meditation. Junkland is available as an audiobook, and I have to say that Paul-Alexandre Petit does an amazing job narrating. 😉

Question 4:  If you could ask one successful author three questions about their writing, writing process, or books, what would they be?

Author’s Response: I would like to ask J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin, and Robert Jordan (it’s too difficult to only pick one successful author) how much of the plot they had thought out before diving into writing the story. These stories were just so well planned that it’s hard to imagine that they invented as they wrote. I love how in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire one sentence can foreshadow something that happens two books later. That’s pure genius! I’ve also read an article that said J.K. Rowling had to rewrite the first Harry Potter book because she revealed too much of the overall plot of the series in the first book. I want to know what she revealed! If she really knew Harry’s outcome from the very beginning. And my mind can’t comprehend how many characters are in Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time. I want to know how he kept track of all of them, and if he had a plan for every character already thought out.

I would like to know how they found success in marketing their books. I’ve read many articles that say writing is the easy part and marketing is the hard part. I totally agree with this. I would like to know the extent of marketing each author had to go through to gain the readership they have today.

And finally, I would like to know how to write books faster. I don’t think this question relates to George R.R. Martin at all since he’s been working on The Winds of Winter for ten solid years. But I’m impressed with how quickly J.K. Rowling and Robert Jordan wrote books. More or less, it took each author one to two years to write the next book in their series. And if you’ve read either series, you’ll know that these books are lengthy in page count. I want to be on that level and avoid George R.R. Martin’s writing style of releasing a book every seven to ten years.

Question 5:  Recommend three of your favorite books to the readers.

Author’s Response:

I loved Sand by Hugh Howey. I read this shortly after I had finished A Song of Ice and fire, craving for more well-developed characters and a drama-filled story. Sand did just that. It’s a dystopian where all of Earth has been covered in sand. Sand divers have to dive into the sand to uncover things from years ago. The story follows four brothers, and Hugh Howey did a fantastic job developing them and wanting you to read the next page.

Next by Michael Crichton. Honestly, anything by Michael Crichton is amazing. He’s the creator of my all-time favorite movie, Jurassic Park. I love how he does so much research before writing his action packed novels. Next really stood out because it focused on multiple stories that seemed to not have anything to do with each other, only to collide and connect at the end.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I am not a huge fan of fantasy that deals with elves, dwarves, magic, etc. I’m more of a realism type of fantasy guy. And the series A Song of Ice and Fire does it perfectly. It starts off in a world that feels as if it could exist in our own history. And as the story progresses, fantasy aspects get introduced slowly, making it almost creepy as you read.

Author’s Favorite Quote: My favorite book quote comes from Tyrion Lannister when he said to Jon Snow, “Never forget what you are, the rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor and it can never be used to hurt you.”

#Stayhungrystaybookish

Lots of love,

mrsswiftnib

Blog 163: Blog Tour 15 – Book Review #61

Dear Readers,

Happy Monday!

Today is my stop in the blog tour organized by Blackthorn Book Tours . Thank You for your consideration and inviting me to participate in this blog tour.

BOOK REVIEW ALERT – Review, Recommendation, Rating & Opinion are my own.

Title – Keepers of the Gate

Author – E Denise Billups

Genre – Horror Fiction

This book is set in the historical background of Iroquois Confederacy &Sullivan Expedition’s Route – 1779. At the beginning of the book, Pilan & Teka die only to be reincarnated.

The Newhouse family are the present owners of the grand Victorian B&B (Bed & Breakfast) -Twilight Ends on the hillock. But this isn’t any ordinary inn. Tessa’s daughter – Skylar and granddaughter – Twyla have a lot on their plates and the paranormal activities that are going on at the inn need to be taken care of.

  • What is going on at the inn?
  • What is the mystery surrounding it?
  • Will the family be able to solve it?
  • Why does it take us back in time?
  • Do all the pieces of the puzzle fit together?

Rating – 4/5 Stars
Recommendation – High

This brilliant read alternates between past and present. Takes us back in time and brings us to the present seamlessly. This book is very engaging even though it isn’t a page turner. The plot development is amazing and the character development is wonderful. Very well written and I thoroughly enjoyed this read.

P.S – Thank You Blackthorn Book Tour for organizing and inviting me to be a part of this magnificent blog tour. Thank You for providing the ecopy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

#Stayhungrystaybookish

Lots of love,

mrsswiftnib

Blog 162: The Magic of Woven Words – Author Interview #45

Dear Readers,

Happy Friday!

A huge Thank You and a Loud Shout out to the Author Lauren Dow –  for agreeing to participate and kind enough to send prompt response to all my questions.

Lauren Dow   –  In Body I Trust . (Available on Amazon for purchase.)

–>  A Brief Bio (As is written by the Author)

As a kid, I always read Little Nino’s Pizzeria. And I mean I read that book at least once a day. As I got older into middle school, I became obsessed with mystery novels. I wanted to be Harriet the Spy that I even had a yellow rain jacket and created my own utility belt to wander my tiny town with a notebook jotting down everything I saw. I can even say I proudly solved the mystery of my missing bicycle. Turns out I left it at my friend’s house. Through my “adulting” years, it developed into a world of female comedian memoirs. I know, very specific. But I wanted to dive deeper into their hilarious endeavours of starting from nothing and pursuing their every dream.
I first started writing probably around the age of six when I was gifted with my very first journal. I wrote elaborate fiction tales of my family, dreams I had, and boys I had crushes on. It didn’t really evolve until 2014 when I was first published in the Winter 2014 Dragon Poet Review when I discovered I had a passion for writing far beyond what my tiny tales were telling.

Question 1:   Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?

Author’s Response: In September of 2020, I came out with “Your Wild Journal,” a 30-day series of writing prompts to dive deeper into your creativity, shift your perspective, and discover the wild that already lives within you.
Originally when I created this journal, I had no idea it was going to help me so much in terms of writing my first novel, In Body I Trust. In order to do so I needed to look back into my old journals from traveling. In doing so, I started pulling out different prompts for myself. Things I wanted to revisit, to see how I would view these situations and ideas a year into recovery from my eating disorder. It was so life changing for me, I wanted nothing more than to share this with the world. 
Now I’m releasing In Body I Trust, which is my first full-length novel that takes you through the mind of Amelia, a woman who struggles with depression, bipolar II, and several eating disorders. Amelia was me, and to some extent still is. But creating this story of a week in her life, inside her actual mind, has helped me so much through my own journey of recovery. 
She self-medicates with alcohol and sinks lower into vivid flashbacks of her and Dominic backpacking the world together. One day he went to Guatemala, the next he vanished like a ghost, leaving Amelia to remain in the depths of her eating disorder alone. That is, until she meets Emmett, her new neighbor with schizoaffective disorder she’s deemed as her guardian angel from afar. Amelia has to fall in order to rise, she has to experience pain and suffering in order to understand what it takes to get back up and thrive, not just survive.
Although it is fictionalized, it’s based on a story that is very true, raw, and real to me.

Question 2:  What comes first, the plot or characters? How do you develop your plot and characters?

Author’s Response: That depends. Sometimes a situation occurs in my life or I observe something that makes me say, “this story deserves to be told.” Other times, I’m listening to music that creates this character in my head I want to elaborate on. Then their life story unfolds as I build upon them. It really just depends on where the creativity and inspiration comes from for me to determine what comes first.

Question 3: With the new year round the corner do you have anything special that you’ll be focusing on this year? Do you have any bookish resolutions? 

Author’s Response: 2021 is already off to be an incredibly exciting year for me. In Body I Trust is available for preorder starting February 22, 2021 and will be available for distribution in over 40,000 retailers, independent bookstores, universities, and libraries around the world. I really can’t wait to see where this book ends up and the hands that get to hold it. 
My bookish resolution this year is to dive deeper into books that are out of my usual element. I’ve always stuck around the same genres of self-love, self-help, memoirs, and contemporary fiction. I’m excited to dive deeper into romance, rediscover my love for mystery, and definitely need to add much more humor into my life. 

Question 4:  Do you listen to audiobooks? If so, are there any you’d recommend? What do you like about audiobooks?

Author’s Response: Honestly, I haven’t listened to audiobooks before. I love being able to have my fingers flip through the pages and create the characters’ voices in my own mind as opposed to being told to me. Not to say that I wouldn’t want to… maybe I should add this to my bookish resolutions for 2021 too!

Question 5:  Recommend three of your favorite books to the readers.

Author’s Response:

1. Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D

2. Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown

3. It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too) by Nora McInerny Purmort

Author’s Favorite Quote:  One of my favorite bookish quotes would have to be from Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone. 

“Being ourselves means sometimes having to find the courage to stand alone, totally alone.”

#Stayhungrystaybookish

Lots of love,

mrsswiftnib

Blog 161: The Magic of Woven Words – Author Interview #44

Dear Readers,

Half an year is going to be over in a few years and I am definitely start to freak out. Anyone else experiencing mid year freak out? I hope to pull up my socks and get a few more books done this year.

A huge Thank You and a Loud Shout out to the Author Jennifer Kay Davies –  for agreeing to participate and kind enough to send prompt response to all my questions.

Jennifer Kay Davies   –  A First for us Both. (Available on Amazon for purchase.)

–>  A Brief Bio (As is written by the Author)

Reading and writing were important forms of escapism for me as a teenager. I was always writing something: whether that be diary entries, short stories, various attempts at novels. English was my strongest subject at school, and I ended up studying it at university. I read a lot of horror as a pre-teen and teen in the 90’s – the Point Horror series was very popular back then. My favorite book from my childhood though was ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. We studied it at school. I’ve read it so many times since then. It really opened my eyes to racial injustice, something that, as a white person, I’d never even realized existed.

Question 1:   Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?  What was the inspiration for the story?

Author’s Response: My novel, ‘ A First For Us Both’, is a story about a single mother who is convinced she is a terrible parent and feels so guilty about it that she doesn’t feel like she deserves to continue living. Single mothers can have such a bad reputation, but no one ever questions the absent father: why did he leave a partner with his child to raise alone? Why isn’t he offering any support? What gives him the right to do that? Instead, people make assumptions about single mothers: that they chose that way of life, that they want children just for the benefits that come with them, that they must be promiscuous, etc. But in the end, she is the one left raising the child with, often, limited resources, while the absent father gets to live his life however he chooses and without blame. This novel sheds a light on yet another aspect in which women are blamed entirely for something which isn’t always their own fault. The novel is semi-autobiographical. I would find it difficult to refer to myself as a single mother: although I am a mother, and single, my daughter has a wonderful relationship with her father who is extremely supportive. However, there have been difficult situations that I’ve had to go through as a mother living alone which are reflected within my novel, although exaggerated as I certainly didn’t have many of the issues that the main character, Emma, has to face.

Question 2: When did you first consider yourself a writer? How much ‘world building’ takes place before you start writing?

Author’s Response: I think for me personally, I first considered myself a writer once I’d finished a first draft and new that I could actually write a book. Writing a book is something that a lot of people want to do, but never quite finish. Now that I know I can do it, I’ll go on to write others. My method of writing tends to be less ‘planning’, more ‘pantsing’. For example, with my new novel that I’m currently writing, I have a vague plot with some vague characters, but as I write more, the plot and the characters become more defined. I’m too impatient to plan everything in advance. I just want to get on with writing!

Question 3: Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?

Author’s Response: I’m not sure if I’m really experienced enough to be giving advice to other writers yet, but the one thing I would say is to just get that first draft done. Once you have a first draft, you’ve done the hard bit. Editing it and creating it into something linear and structured is much easier than writing a first draft.

Question 4:  Do you write while listening to music? If so, what music inspired or accompanied this current book? What book is currently on your bedside table?

Author’s Response: I need complete silence while I’m writing, otherwise I can’t concentrate. The TV is off, the music is off, and there is no noise whatsoever. I would love to be able to write with music in the background, but I just can’t do it. I’m currently reading ‘The Guest List’ by Lucy Foley. I’m about half way through and it gripped me right from the very beginning, which I love in a book. The ‘whodunnit’ scenario never seems to get old. 

Question 5:  Recommend three of your favorite books to the readers.

Author’s Response:  I’ve read so many amazing books over the years, but I do definitely have some clear favourites:

The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly – this is the second book in a trilogy (The Tea Rose, The Winter Rose and The Wild Rose), and it is absolutely my most favourite book ever. It is set in the early 1920’s between London and New York. It follows the journey of one of the country’s first female doctors working in Whitechapel. She seeks to halt the sale of opioids, believing that they are oppressing the poor and, therefore, stopping them from having any chance of living without preventable illnesses. Little does she know that she’ll end up falling in love with the biggest dealer in London, as does the reader. How this hasn’t been picked up by Netflix yet, I don’t understand!

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves – the story of how a private tutor and her student end up castaway on a desert island after a plane crash, with only each other for company. This book just sucks you right in and is impossible to put down. Such a unique storyline, with beautiful scenery – just what you need during lockdown!

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult – it’s difficult to choose from all of her books as they are all incredible, but this one is particularly beautiful. Jodi’s prose is almost poetic. In this story, a girl tries to trace her mother who disappeared a decade ago or so. There’s a chance she may have murdered, but she doesn’t believe her mother is dead. She appoints a psychic and a retired policeman to help her in her search. This book has the most amazing twist to it which completely turns the story on its head.

Author’s Favorite Quote:  I think Roald Dahl captured perfectly why people enjoy reading: ‘The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives’.

#Stayhungrystaybookish

Lots of love,

mrsswiftnib

Blog 160: The Magic of Woven Words – Author Interview #43

Dear Readers,

How are you all doing? How is your reading goal for this month? I haven’t set any goal for the month, but I hope to read a few books. I have been reading very little and I hope to read better this month. (Fingers crossed.)

A huge Thank You and a Loud Shout out to the Author  Shawna Bennett –  for agreeing to participate and kind enough to send prompt response to all my questions.

Shawna Bennett   –  Soul Song

–>  A Brief Bio (As is written by the Author)

I loved reading for as long as I can remember! I lived in a small town and the librarian would let me check out up to 15 books once a week in the summer. In the fourth grade I read Sacajawea and since the book was an adult book my teacher offered to let me only do one book report that entire year, I refused of course! I read so many different genres, but three writers had a huge influence on me. The first was Judy Blume and I loved how she wrote about real problems we were facing as young girls going through puberty. Next came S.E. Hinton and while I loved all of her book The Outsiders was my favorite. I must have read it over 100 times. I can still recite the Robert Frost poem from the book. Then at about 14 I discovered Stephen King and loved his writing. I loved how he would have catch phrases and weird sayings for some of his characters.I started writing in the sixth grade and did a lot of short stories growing up. Later in life I wrote two books under a pen name and then about a year ago started the Fairy Tale Series for my grandchildren.

Question 1:  What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?  Who is the author you most admire in your genre?

Author’s Response:   I think the elements for good writing are to have a story worked out in your head and go for it. No one ever did something by wishing! I think if you go into understanding that not everyone will like your book, because no book has been written that everyone loves, then you will be fine.The author I think in the romance genre I loved was Jackie Collins.

Question 2: What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?

Author’s Response:   Try and keep trying everyday. It’s hard at first but over time it gets easier.

Question 3: How do you develop your plot and characters?

Author’s Response:  The first thing I do is imagine a story and keep working it out in my head. Then I start writing in a notebook. As I’m writing I find music that will influence certain scenes and build around them. Every book I write has a soundtrack to it. Then when I’m done I begin typing the whole thing and I’m able to add more depth and nuance as I type.

Question 4:  What book is currently on your bedside table?

Author’s Response:  None, I don’t read while I’m writing because I don’t want to accidentally take ideas or writing styles. That being said the last book I read was a Discovery of Witches.

Question 5:  Recommend three of your favorite books to the readers.

Author’s Response:  All time favorites are  The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, Are you there God, it’s me Margaret by Judy Blume and I have to add as the third the only book I have been scared while reading was The Amityville Horror. I love the horror genre and it is still the scariest book ever.

Author’s Favorite Quote:   “Let’s do it for Johnny” from The Outsiders.

#Stayhungrystaybookish

Lots of love,

mrsswiftnib

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