Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

Getting there

I have never been much of a runner. Back in school, sprints I could stand, but any race over 400 metres was pure torture. Still is. I can do walking, long walks, slow, fast, at any pace that suits the track, company and weather.

Why, then, do I even write about running?

Today, for the who-knows-which time, I have tried to finish editing and publishing my website. I went in there all motivated, geared up for success and prepared to do the work.

Three hours later, completely dissatisfied with my colour choices, advances I’d made in uploading my books, page sections I’d split my websiteinto, I put my laptop to sleep and went to read my daughter a bedtime story, feeling as emotionally drained as if I’d been training for a marathon.

Why on earth do I have to write in multiple genres? Why do I have over 15 books out there already? Why do I make them available on so many sites? Why do I put myself through all that? Why, oh why, oh my?

Why does a website matter so much? Or social media presence? And why is it so exhausting? (All I want to do is write, not promote, right?) To top all that, why do I whine about my problems when there are so many bigger issues in the world?

You are right – I am overthinking, and that is just a fancy excuse for procrastination.

Set your goals, choose your path and set off to realise your dream. Small steps at first. Maybe even walk, not run. We all move at our own pace, right? As long as we move in the right direction, we’re fine.

Small steps. Big dreams. Moving.

How about you?

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Unusual romance

Author Suzi Albracht sent me a little post-Valentine gift for the readers – a sneak peek into her popular paranormal romance A Love Haunting. Thank you, Suzi! Check it out, readers!

This short chapter in A Love Haunting begins Jordan’s existence as a Living Dead (LD). It appears a quarter of the way into the novel. It takes place after he feels he has lost his one true love and just before he meets Luke, a skateboarding angel, and the trio of ghosts from the 1800s who become his friend.

Love… death… forever. That’s the story of my life apparently.

So Emily had left the Banks. In my mind, I knew she had to go, but now I am lonelier than I’ve ever been in my life. Right after the accident, my world was devastated because of my loss of Emily, our baby and… my life.

And then when Emily was in the hospital, I found a way to be near to her again, if only in a small way. Now she is gone and my life is really over. Now I have no one.

Sure I could have hung around Allie, bugging her but it would not have been fair to her. Besides, she was on her way to being a nurse practitioner, and I knew she’d be a damn good one. So while Allie was in school, I was going to leave her be, but I did plan on helping her when she embarked on her new career. Besides, I wanted to convince Allie to shoot bigger and become a doctor. Being a physician was her real calling, she just didn’t know it yet.

In the meantime, I made up my mind I was going to make the best of my new dead life, and that would require some hands-on research. Research had always been one of my strong suits. That and evaluation.

And there was something else I wanted to research but didn’t dare until I figured out all the rules and restrictions of my dead existence. I didn’t want to lose my wife, so I was going to try to… do something.

So since I had loads of free time on my hands, I would start by exploring to see what was what.

What am I supposed to do about my feelings now that I’m dead? My life can’t end like this. It just can’t.

Wow, I hadn’t allowed myself to admit that I was actually dead until now. Dead and buried and the whole nine yards.

Well, it’s true. I died a few feet off a highway in North Carolina, not far from my favorite vacation paradise – the Outer Banks.

I am a ghost, and this is my love story.

Books2read.com/ALoveHaunting

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On skating and awe

Ever since my early childhood, I have always felt particularly enchanted by ice-skating.

It may well have been the only reason I liked winter, next to Christmas and winter break. As kids we would often go ice-skating. My friends and I would clean the pond behind school to skate on. My sister and I would go to the other side of town every possible moment to enjoy the music and the magical ease of movement on a proper rink.

Watching figure skating championships was one of my favourite activities and I relished when skaters would pick a tune I loved and created a magical moment such as this one. Due to some lifestyle changes and health issues, it had been a while since I skated myself, and I missed it so much. Finally, this winter, I skated with my family again. Just a tiny local skating rink, but the magic was back.

What is it that makes skating so fascinating and beautiful?

Just look at them! To achieve something that seems so utterly effortless through so much training, defying the laws of physics and sometimes sanity, and to create this ethereal feeling of unity between sports and art, sometimes conveying a feeling, sometimes even telling a story… isn’t it a phenomenal proof of our human potential? When we let body, mind & soul work together it is simply exhilarating.

I know, in light of a recent movie about a version of a true story behind the skating scenes, some of you are grinning cynically. But put that aside for a minute and watch this. Do you really think, during a special performance like this one, skaters think about points?

Incredible moments like this one need to be cherished and looked up to.

I have always been enchanted by ice-skating. Despite growing up and knowing the shady side of the competitions, I still am enchanted by it. How could you not be? Pick your favourite performers, your ideal music, and simply let yourself feel again, like a child, open-minded and open-hearted.

And then try skating for yourself. You will appreciate the magic.

#art #sports #figureskating #talent #inspiration

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Real love every day

As promised, two of my favourite scenes of real, daily love between two married couples from The Forest of Trees – the Bosworths and the Stones. Both scenes take place during sleepless nights, filled with worry.

Intimacy is never (just) the physical thing. Love is in the small, everyday details which should never be taken for granted…

The Bosworths

The bed sheets were soaked in sweat and already cold, as John Bosworth kept tossing and turning, uncovering himself to cool down, then covering himself back hoping to get some sleep. He felt around the bed and realized it was empty, empty, so he opened his eyes, finally giving in to insomnia.
In a huge armchair close to the door, his wife’s face glowed in lamplight, as she sat wrapped in a fuzzy patchwork blanket.
He looked at her with worry and love.
She was deeply concentrated. Seeing her leather-bound diary in her hands, he knew she must have had a bad day at work. Although he loved to joke that their jobs were alike, she a psychologist and he a principal, he knew that the number of good days was in his favour.
“Zoe, do you want to talk?” he whispered.
She didn’t reply, and he noticed how firmly she held her pen and how she tightened her lips. For both selfish and generous reasons, he loved the fact that she had her diary ritual to blow off steam and cry or shout things into words. He wasn’t much of a talker, so he always felt inadequate offering her advice. Still, he was a great listener and that helped her get things out of her system.
Sometimes things were so difficult to bear that she would just cry, and all he could do was hold her and feel guilty for not helping. She knew this, which was why she started her diary. She hated making him worry.
“Paper can take it,” she’d often say.
He noticed she had her small yellow earphones earphones on, probably listening to classical music again. Debussy was his best guess, judging by how the sad look on her face was slowly relaxing, softening her lips into their usual lovely shape and mellowing her shoulders. He smiled.
(…)
John stepped towards the door, slowly walking past his wife. She looked up with a question mark in her eyes, but he just kissed her head gently, breathing in the smell of tangerine shampoo in her hair, and moved his hand in front of his face as if drinking something. She smiled and nodded.
He went into the kitchen to make some green tea with honey which she liked so much. He had hated that taste at first, but in time he’d gotten used to it as part of their little ritual.
Green tea and honey meant a talk, whatever time of day it was, talk without the stress of having having to provide a solution. Each of them told the other what had kept them awake, and the other one listened, understood and provided a hug in the end. The talk usually started with no talk at all, just inhaling the aroma of warm tea and enjoying each other’s comfort. Sip by sip, the conversation would begin, or wouldn’t. Sometimes just sharing the silence was enough.”

The Stones

“David blinked again, staring at the starry sky through the window. He couldn’t sleep, but he dared not move or he’d wake Emma. They were both overwhelmed with the last few days; the changes were as intense as a never-ending roller-coaster ride.
He felt her warm arm wrap around his waist, and Emma’s soft kiss land on the back of his neck. She cuddled up to him under the blanket, and he felt better in a second, with only a tiny pang of guilt for having woken her up.
“You can’t sleep either, huh?” Emma whispered through another neck kiss, her lips writing on his skin.
“Sorry I woke you up,” David said, his arm pulling her closer.
She rested her face on his shoulder and sighed, with a slight yawn.
“Not much of a sleep anyway, when you dream about real life…”
“Nightmare?” Worried, David wrapped her hair around his fingers.
“Not really, just a dream, but lots of them. Not connected, just… more worries than dreams. Whether Jeremy will be fine here, whether Dot will be happy, what if the car breaks down, any chance of some students ever being kind, if we’re going to be able to cover the bills this month, if… oh well, you know…”
She felt guilty. There he was, sleepless and anxious, and all she talked about were her own dreams and worries.
“Boy oh boy, you women just can’t stop worrying,” he mocked.
He was actually grateful for her speech. She summed up most of his own worries as well. He’d never been good with words, especially to talk about his feelings. It would probably have taken him half the night just to verbalize all the things she spat out in one sigh and a yawn. On top of all that, she managed to awake his protective side, giving him motivation not to whine, but to console.
“I’ll have to make you a dream-catcher then to help you sleep,” he teased.
“Better make yourself one while you’re at it. You’re the one lying awake here all night,” she said with a stern teacher’s look.
He loved it when her eyes got that grey shade of angry.
“I don’t need a dream-catcher, love,” he said, feeling mischievous.
“Oh no?” She teased, knowing exactly what he meant.
“I just bury my face in your hair and all my nightmares go away,” he said, cradling her face in his palms.
Their lips blended. They glued their bodies together, intertwining their feet.
“This is my favourite place in the whole world, you know? Right here,” she said as the kiss finished.
She buried her face in his shoulder. David’s hand glided down her back as he pulled her closer. He smelled her skin and inhaled her scent, meeting her lips in another kiss, savouring those precious moments when the two of them were only the two of them, no worries, or kids or the world around.
As their breaths caught the singular rhythm of passion, neither of them was aware of the trees and the wind singing their song outside.”

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Wearing our daily masks…

Today is the final day of carnival season in my country, and tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Seems appropriate, doesn’t it, to take off all masks before admitting you love somebody? It reminded me of the part of The Forest of Trees, when a loving married couple falls into the routine of wearing a happy mask to spare each other from their own sadness. I cannot stress enough how important it is to share your pain with your loved ones, how much that honesty and trust can strengthen your relationship. I am so glad Emma and David found their way. Here is a glimpse into their daily masks…

“It got to the point when hearing the word mummy was one of the biggest horrors in her life. She loved the scent of Jeremy’s ginger hair when she held him, she adored his big eyes gazing at her with expectation, waking up early not to miss a second of their time… and it made her heart ache that it was not enough for her. She missed reading a good adult book, having some time to herself, talking to an adult person about something other than rashes, the cost of diapers, prospective kindergartens and the danger of pedophiles everywhere. She missed dressing up to go out with her husband and be a woman, not a nanny. But she felt guilty, so she kept the smile on her lips, and buried the sadness behind her eyes.
David had been working almost non-stop, stressed by trying to preserve his job at the executive level and earn even more money, so Emma could stay home with Jeremy. Emma had put on a happy front to avoid hurting him, he’d put on his to avoid seeming selfish or lazy, so they slowly drifted away into pretence and lies without even realizing it and only with the best intentions.”

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. I will be sharing two of my favourite scenes from their lives, but also another couple. Nothing sleezy. Real love.

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The Little Blue Book for Authors 101 Clues How to Get More Out of Facebook by G.Hausmann – my review

There is never anything little about Gisela’s books. I’ve read plenty, and the occasional faults in my writing career are due to not following her advice, and some others.

Writing anything is never easy and you can verify that with any high school student out there, not to mention writers. Marketing what you write can either depress you with its abundance of traps, turn you into a proper merchant who eventually disregards art in favour of money, or you can thrust yourself into the battle with a little bit of help from the able book promoters (not any, but able, pls notice the difference) and some timely tips from marketing specialists such as Gisela Hausmann. My simile to battle is inspired by the book Hausmann quotes in her first chapter – The Art of War. I have to admit I often feel like an untrained soldier in the marketing battlefield, so I consider books such as this one good training. “…ask yourself if you can even become a player?” Hausmann says. So… see what I mean?

Now I have to say I like things explained to me as if I were a six-year-old, so this piece of advice was a wake up call:

“Don’t post anything on Facebook you would not post on a billboard next to the busiest highway in your hometown.”

The Mark Cuban video was another, slightly scary one. By tip 25 I was making notes on what I had to do about my own social media presence, and fast. What further complicated things is this:

“Though it is your business if and how you use your personal profile page, you can comment in Facebook network groups only with your personal profile page.”

I had always known this book would add more work to my to-do list, but at least now I am not wandering around in fog any more. The advice about potential employers, as scary as it may seem, is truer than we’d like to think, which adds importance to this book – it is not only for authors, but all entrepreneurs who plan their media presence.

“To succeed in this cut-throat business, you need to own your writing, your research, your knowledge, your “everything”!”

I’m in for a lot of work. Better start!

Book link

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Visiting Rainne’s Ramblings with my book – The Forest of Trees by Anita Kovacevic

Incredibly thankful to the reading community for their support with my latest book The Forest of Trees. Today we are visiting Rainne’s Ramblings. Thank you immensely, Rainne, for allowing my book to enter your Bookland;).

https://wp.me/p6fAni-dCT

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How do YOU pick a book?

How do YOU pick a book? What is that decisive factor which makes you pick it up? How many times have you been wrong, or, on the other hand, pleasantly surprised by your choice?

It is always a challenge for any writer to write a blurb for their novel. How DO you put something you worked on for years into several brief sentences, which manage to attract the attention of a huge majority of readers, also conveying the essence of your story and your writing style? Mission impossible for some, me included sometimes.

However, since I myself have learned that books are like people (never fully trust the cover or what they briefly tell you about themselves;), I tend to take a look at the sneak peek, check out the text in library paperbooks or glance at the preview offered in stores.

Here is the longer version of the blurb for my novel, which I know does not do justice to the book. I merely wanted to prove my point;). Btw, the video link below is an app experiment at a promo video.

THE FOREST OF TREES BLURB:

When a family of four faces the brutal reality of their city life, they readily embrace a complete change. Emma and David Stone, with their kids Jeremy and Dot, move to a small town with their big hopes. However, small towns have their own secrets – from urban legends about The Forest of Trees to family skeletons in closets everyone knows about.

Gradually, Jeremy and Dot make some new and unusual friends, whereas Emma and David start working again, and things seem to be going for the better. But evil never rests. The Jacksons, a bigoted and brutal family of pig farmers, however scary, are not the only ones leaning towards malice. The more new friendships grow, the more villains will struggle to retain power. Will the arrival of the newcomers tip the scales in favour of the good or the evil? And how can The Forest of Trees play its part in the solution?

The life between the legendary Forest of Trees and the small town of Tillsworth is separated only by a road. All it takes to reconnect is to take that path.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwnR-_utzJA

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Take A Journey – Interview with A. L. Mengel

It is wonderful to be able to interview author A. L. Mengel as he begins his 2018 book tour. I first met the incredibly talented creative genius of A. L. Mengel in the Awethors writers’ group and have since witnessed his fantastic progress in the world of fiction.

1. How long have you been a published author now? What’s your favourite moment or memory for now?

I’ve been a published author for five years now. It’s really hard to believe. I remember sitting and tweaking my first novel Ashes repeatedly, readying it for publication. I had started writing that novel in 2002. Back then, I had dreams of being an author. But I was still so caught up with my young life. With the material world. And the quest for love. And experiencing human emotion. And relationships. Little did I know then, all of my experiences would come out in my written work in the future years. So I would write the story, originally titled The Last Nail in the Coffin, which was destined to become Ashes, bit by bit, over several years, on and off.

Fast forward to 2007, I finished the story. I can still remember the day, almost 11 years ago, like it was yesterday. I could feel the tickle of a cold in my throat, and was elated to type the words ‘THE END’. The next day, I came down with the worst flu of my life. It kept me bed ridden for several days. Looking back on that, and after talking with others about The Tales of Tartarus series of books, there have been some that have thought the sickness could have been some sort of demonic influence. Ashes tells a very dark story, but it leads to the light and forgiveness. Demons don’t like that. They don’t want to lose their grip on you.

And that’s really the goal of the entire series of The Tales of Tartarus books…in The Quest for Immortality, a character is racing against a certain death to achieve the gift of eternal life; in The Blood Decanter,those who have achieved the gift are under attack by an imposter – The Hooded Man – who is destined for their destruction by promising them salvation but giving them death. The book is a cleansing of the soul – as the blood “washes their sins away”. And then there is War Angel. Where redemption is found. Where protection is a right of the living and the dead. We all need to dispel our demons to elevate ourselves to a higher level of existence. The Tales of Tartarus did that for me. It may do that for others, as well.

But my favorite moment? Memory? I would have to say the creation of #Writestorm. It was so sudden, so intense, and also so life-changing. Once I introduced the writing methodology to the Literary Community, it was quickly embraced. It’s become easily searchable on Google. The book was released and received stellar reviews. There have been others that have copied #Writestorm on Social Media. I’ve seen multiple groups pop-up since #Writestorm that discuss a similar philosophy – tweaked “just a bit”. But there’s only one true #Writestorm. And people know that, it seems. But the book wasn’t written for notoriety, money, or fame. It was simply written to help other authors get their books written and follow their dreams. And for that, I hope I will have created something that will endure.

2. What and how much has changed since you started publishing? How has your approach to writing and marketing changed?

A lot has changed in the last five years. And a lot has also remained the same. I think, what has changed the most, is my approach to publishing. When I first released Ashes, I was so excited to release the book, I released it in parts, like the serial novels of yesteryear. It worked well initially, I could call myself a published author, people were reading the story and enjoying it according to reviews. I was happy. I was able to relive the natural high of a book release three more times until the paperback released in October of 2013. I still have copies of that paperback, which are now out of print. Amazon is offering it as a Mass Market Paperback, and some copies are going for up to $150 as that version has become rare. And Ashes was my best effort at the time. When I look back on that novel, I see a good self-publishing effort. But when I compare it to my novels of today, there really is no comparison. Ashes is a good story, and it got the high-end treatment it deserved in 2015 with the Special Edition, which is now the signature version.

My approach to writing really remains the same. I follow a very specific…and rather archaic…process. When I start a novel, I start with a spiral notebook and a pen. I have to get my thoughts out on paper, and I have found it best to be away from the distractions of a computer to get that done. When writing the prose, I use regular old Microsoft Word. No fancy book writing programs for me. I write notes during the writing process on a rather large whiteboard that hangs in The Writing Studio, and I do something I call “scene mapping” on the wall on a space mural I have hanging. Usually, I divide a book up into four to eight parts, which each have their own subtitle. I’ve been doing this since Ashes. I don’t work with chapters. Each part of my novels has its own story that relates to the overall story arc. I print the part subtitles out on paper and hang them on the wall. I tend to use sticky notes, on which I will write the scene in one sentence, and move it around on the wall underneath the part where I think it best fits.

But marketing is another animal. There’s a lot of authors and authors’ service providers that claim they have the answer, but for me, I am following in my predecessors footsteps who are now Best-Selling Authors. The Indie Author has to get out from behind the computer. At least if they want some sort of a level of selling success. Persistent and repetitive social media marketing really just turns into spam, which people tune out. That online marketing needs to be specific and targeted, and linked to something that page followers connect with. The goal is to get followers and convert them into readers. Getting page followers is the easy part. Just market your page on Facebook and they will come if you have a strong brand/product mix. But connecting with them is the hard part. I always check what’s trending, and also what is going on in the world to see how it could be linked to my brand. There’s a marketing opportunity in everything. I was recently out to lunch at a sports bar. When I was being questioned about my recently released novel The Mortician, it was decided on the spot to record a video, which was shared on my Facebook page. One needs to be adept at identifying marketing opportunities which are everywhere, and in places where you least expect them. And I have found, that page followers have been connecting with me more, increasing my engagement, as I get outside with the people and make videos and go-live with people-to-people interaction.

3. Who do you think your readers are? Do you write for a target audience or just any story that comes to your mind?

My readers are a wide and varied bunch. In addition to The Tales of Tartarus, I also have The Vega Chronicles, my Science Fiction series. In addition, there is a series called The Astral Files with the release of The Mortician. The Astral Files is a spin-off from The Tales of Tartarus, and I expect it to be a long running series. Then there’s also #Writestorm. And there are thousands who are Beloved Friends of The Writing Studio on my Facebook page who have never read a word I have written outside of Facebook. My target market doesn’t really focus on an age group but rather a level of intellect. My novels are typically for a more sophisticated, thinking reader. My books usually have steady builds, and tend to get philosophical in the later acts. Some have told me they’ve read one of my books the first time to take it all in, and then a second time to figure it all out. Some readers can get frustrated with that. My books are not simple reads. Books of today spoon feed everything to the reader. My books don’t do that. The reader needs to think. To discover. And I am also getting known for ambiguous endings in some of my novels, which I write intentionally to encourage discussion and personal theories about the story.

4. What do you find interesting or challenging in using social media to interact with your readers and fellow authors?

I recently was quoted on Facebook discussing Social Media: “Social Media is a smiling demon. It gains us readers, sells our books, and also robs us of our time.” It’s really true. Facebook, and all of Social Media, is a necessary evil. But the successful author will be resistant to its many temptations. It’s easy to get drawn into chats that have nothing to do with you or your brand, and even easier for time to get swallowed into lazy marketing of just blasting a book link around writer’s groups that will be ignored and prove to be a waste of time – even if it only took a minute or two.

Because for the Indie Author, that minute or two blasting a book link to other authors who are busy trying to market their own work could have been spent seeking out true readers away from social media. People that will connect with you, face to face, and read your work because they know you in person. Getting away from the computer and away from Social Media, to connect with the people, is where the true success lies, and honestly, what the brick and mortars look for when arranging events and stocking titles. I’ve been vetted for Barnes and Noble recently, and was approved not only because of my well-established online presence, but also because of the in-person marketing efforts I have made. For the Indie Author, it all really depends on their own personal goals, but I know for mine, I look forward to my titles being stocked in brick and mortars. And that requires a lot of hard work beyond writing the stories.

5. You recently had an interesting tour with author Jeremy Croston. Can you tell us how it went? What was the most pleasant surprise about it for you?

Oh yes! The tour is actually about to start at the time of this interview. It’s called “Take A Journey” with the hashtag #TakeAJourney2018. It’s a little different from the typical Author Book Tour. For one, it’s long running. It starts in February of 2018 and runs all the way to the end of October. That gives us the freedom to schedule event dates throughout the year without the tour seeming overwhelming. I’ve studied musicians for years, and how they tour, and have tried to emulate that touring formula. I think it can work for Authors as well. I think long-term touring…to represent our entire branding…could be the future for Authors getting their work out to the public. Brick and Mortars are still fading. But the best way to connect with potential readers still remains face-to-face. But arranging events at venues that may not be a book shop “official selling stop” can still build one’s market presence. Every tour stop should be embraced, because it’s an avenue to reach readers. So an author has to think outside the box. And that’s were Jeremy and I developed the “Author Discussion Series”, which will be a series of informal tour stops on our Book Tour that are at restaurants that have a topic of discussion that’s pertinent to creatives. That series won’t be selling stops, and they are being scheduled in-between the more formal, book shop selling stops throughout the tour. The “Author Discussion Series” stops are for creatives to get together and discuss the craft.

Jeremy Croston and I happen to live near one another, and after he had read several of my novels, we agreed on a meet and greet in early 2017. Shortly after, we discussed touring together throughout 2018. I had learned about his Malice of the Cross release which seemed to pair well with my own branding, so we decided to do it. We met monthly for tour planning meetings since July of 2017, and have held almost daily conference calls in the early morning discussing the progress of venue selection and other creative things. We’ve held pretty strong to the monthly meetings and the conference calls. Planning a tour – a real tour – is an extraordinary amount of work. Getting venues will not come easily. A lot of doors will be slammed in your face. And you just pick up and move on to the next venue. What’s great is that we currently have 21 dates on the books between February and October through multiple cities. Hard work, and persistence, truly does pay off.

The most pleasant surprise surrounding the Take A Journey Book Tour was the Go-Lives that we did promoting the tour, and the tour planning appointments. Our first go-live video was of me reading from Jeremy Croston’s Malice of the Cross and introducing it to the readers on my page, which has followers of over 6.7k. In just three days, over 1.4k people viewed the go-live. We were both elated. But it wouldn’t prepare us for what happened just two weeks later at our “Gods and Monsters” book tour planning stop. We went live again with over 6.1k views in four days and knew then that we were creating a buzz about the book tour.

6. What are your goals in writing? What would you like to achieve in the years to come? What are you working on now?

Honestly, my goal is to make a decent living with my writing. Usually, with fame comes fortune, but that’s not my goal. If it happens, so be it, but I just want to do what I love, which is writing books, meeting with the people and touring, and starting the process all over again. One thing I would like is for my writing to endure for generations. I recently received, as a gift, a box of very old, quite rare books. I mean, they are from the 1800’s or older. Many of the copyright pages are written by hand. And that is what I am referring to. These are 150 year old books. I want to make sure that three generations from now, my books are still out there. That’s one of the reasons why I am gradually releasing each of my titles in hardcover. Most of my market is paperback readers. Not Kindle. But when I told my business advisor that I was releasing hardbacks, he didn’t understand why. But I’m trying to create a market for the hardback. And even if I don’t, each hardback that’s printed will most likely be around for a century or more.

I’ve been taking a several month much-needed break from writing after The Mortician. That was the most personal book that I’ve written to date. Few know that I have several personal memories inserted into the story in various scenes. As a result, it was an exhausting write. I needed a break. I have a hard time moving from one book right to the next. I know quite a few authors do that, but I believe in a creative refueling period. We all have to go out and experience life again, once the book is written. Or else, how can we accurately depict characters in our future books? I’ve had discussions several times with other authors who don’t follow my philosophy of a creative resting period between books. Unfortunately, it seems many Indie authors are turning themselves into “Book Factories” by releasing book after book after book in a single year. In my opinion, anything over two releases in a year is too much. Readers get overwhelmed, haven’t had time to digest the previous release and the next one comes out, and the stories risk being underthought and underdeveloped.

Currently, I am working on a Science Fiction epic which is planned to be released in two novel-length volumes: Part One and Part Two will released on the same day together, and they both will be novel-length books. I’m not mentioning the titles right now as they are “working titles” and could change during the creative process. I never would have been open to that wave of inspiration had I not been on a creative break and experiencing life. My aunt passed during that time, and her love of my science fiction inspired the new epic novel. Taking a break from the writing is necessary. It opens the mind, and the outside the box thinking really begins.

7. What would you say to your younger self, the aspiring writer just learning about the publishing world?

I would say do exactly what you are doing, and keep learning from those who have gone before you, because it’s going to lead to something greater. In half a decade, you’re going to be touring kid. Keep at it.

8. What’s your favourite thing about your latest published book?

The most favorite thing about my recently release novel The Mortician has to be the transitions in the story. I really loved how they came out. The Mortician takes place in two separate time periods with two protagonists and two separate and complete casts. I was challenged as a writer to link the storylines together without confusing the reader, and as I write in parts rather than chapters, I had to find a way to move back and forth smoothly. The two separate storylines and two casts of characters were running concurrently. The reader needed a smooth transition from one time period and cast to the next. And I love how it was done. I used art, photos, music and photography to transition the story from one setting to the other. For example, a piece of music might be playing that one character experiences, and then the story transitions to another character in a different time period listening to the exact same piece of music, separated in time by decades.

I also really loved the cover. Shoutlines Design did the cover, and they sent me early renderings in April of 2017. We tweaked it over the next several months, and the final version was released on Halloween 2017. As I drafted the manuscripts, I incorporated elements of the cover so the cover represented scenes from the story. I love creative collaborations like that.

9. Is there any famous person, real or fictional, dead or alive, who you would like to discuss your novel(s) with and why?

I’d really love to get both Stephen King’s and Anne Rice’s opinions on my novels. I’d like to think that I am embracing my own branding, characters and storytelling style, but following in their footsteps in some way. I read novels from both of them in my younger years, and I believe their work has influenced my own in some ways.

10. What are the most excruciating and the most exhilarating moments about writing for you?

Oh, wow. That’s a tough one. Because writing can be a very challenging experience for me. But so rewarding. I’d say the most challenging part of my process comes towards the middle. When I have quite a bit written, and I have to make sense of it all, and smooth it out to form a story. It’s a period during my creative process that I can “Story Structure”. It comes after the main scenes have been written, the story, at least for the most part, is there, but usually it’s akin to an unfinished puzzle. Pieces are spread all over the place, and each piece (scene or passage) needs to be closely examined to see where it best fits into the overall puzzle, the story in this case. It’s a point in my process where my word count will expand rapidly. During this period, as the scenes are spliced and placed where I believe they best fit in the story, I then will fill holes, bridge gaps, and write smoothing sequences to build flow in the story. While the most tedious and challenging period of my process, it’s also one of the most rewarding. For this the stage where the story really comes to life for me, where it starts to flow, and I can see a true beginning, middle, and end.

But the most excruciating? I can still remember the most painful scene I have ever written, and it was a death scene in War Angel. I was pantsing my way through a passage, and the death really caught me off guard. It was violent, sudden and intense. And it was a major character that I’d only been writing about for a short while. When I saw the visual of gigantic, blood-stained angel wings, reaching up towards the Heavens in a mark of desperation, I could feel tears start to stream down my cheeks. It was just so tragic. So unexpected. It pained me to reread what I had just written. I had to stop writing that day and called my editor. She suggested to take a break, and I didn’t sit back down with the manuscript for several more days. I had to mourn the sudden passing of that character, whom I had loved so much throughout the story up to that point.

Now the most exhilarating experience for me, and I think most authors would agree, is holding a book in my hands for the first time. That amazing feeling just doesn’t go away, even with my seventh novel recently in print. Every time I open the box of the first printed copies, I can feel the excitement build. With my science fiction novel The Europa Effect, I opened the box and examined the first proofs on video, and shared it on my Author page. I got some great comments where the viewers said they could see how my face lit up when I opened the box. I think that’s a feeling that will never go away. It’s one of the most exhilarating points in my process, also one of the most rewarding. It’s where I have created something physical, something that I can hold and touch. I can look at it , as something that I’ve created that will most likely spend more days on this planet than I will. And by holding the books in my hands, by feeling the pages, and the binding, smelling the paper, and running my hands over the covers, I know that I’m creating books that will endure.

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(all photos provided by Andy Mengel)

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Play a wordsearch race with kids?

Who can find all the words in this wordsearch faster – you or a friend? All the words are from my children’s book Winky’s Colours:).

#free #online #printable #wordsearch
https://thewordsearch.com/puzzle/273436/

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