Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

Seeing every tree – my book seen through the eyes of Jean Gill

This has been an extraordinary experience – being interviewed by a person I admire. Jean Gill drilled me about my book The Forest of Trees, but more importantly, about some life issues I consider very important.

Seeing every tree

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Interview with ELIZABETH HORTON NEWTON

Isn’t it an amazing feeling when you discover a new author whose books you eagerly await every time they are announced?

Elizabeth H. Newton is one of my favourite authors, with her panache for political and psychological thrillers (View from the Sixth Floor and Riddle) and eerie horrors (check out her tales in Ghostly Writes Anthologies, Dark Awethologies, Electric Eclectic novelettes, Twisted Tales, Crooked Tales, an array of stories for the Gems collection, etc.), with a touch of sensual erotica (Carved Wooden Heart), and so on.

This prolific author has just released a spectacularly intense thriller Stolen Gypsy, which follows the unimaginably turbulent change which occurs in her life after her parents’ accident. It kept me up all night, because her characters lured me into their world and had me rooting for them all the way, my head dizzy from the plots and emotions. Movie-like action scenes and intricate relationships, with past mysteries and future hopes all resting on the cliffhanger of resolving the true identity of the main character. Nail-biting, I’m telling you.

So, naughty me, I came begging for an interview even before I’d written a so-well deserved review for this phenomenal book, and the lady agreed! So today – feast your eyes on this interview, and then run to get your copy of Stolen Gypsy (or any other book by Elizabeth Horton Newton) and make your weekend an adventure.

1.Your latest novel Stolen Gypsy is out. Has it been inspired by a real event? Can you remember which section, scene or character first came to your mind?

Stolen Gypsy was actually inspired by a dream I had about gypsies. The first scene that came to me actually turned out to be the first scene in the book. I saw the kids looking out the window of the classroom and smoke in the distance. How often do people see something like that or see an accident and not realize it’s someone they know.

I was thinking about the exact same thing – you see something like that and have no idea it’s about someone you know. Nobody ever thinks it’s about them.

2. Terza is such an unusual name, but perfect for such an unusual heroine. What gave you the idea for the name?

Terza is an entirely made up name. I researched gypsy female names and couldn’t find one that lit up for me. So I made one up. Do you like it?

Yes, I love the name Terza. What do you most love about Terza as a character?

What I love most about Terza is both her adaptability and her passion. She is one tough kid. I worried I was making her too strong. Although she cries easily she doesn’t give up.

Yes, Terza cries, and yet shows strength and stubborness. She must have been tricky to write, just on the verge of switching from teenager to woman.

3. Your novels often deal with a social issue such as domestic abuse, poverty, prejudice. This one seems to encompass so many issues on a huge number of levels. Did you have any idea the plot would develop so intricately and grow to such large scale when you started writing it?

I had no clue at all where this was going. I was fascinated with the gypsy aspect and the Witness protection program but initially wasn’t certain how they would gel. The drug cartel and the unwed mothers were only a couple of surprises for me.

4. By now, having reading your books and short stories, I have to say your collection of characters is quite something. Could you tell us what you love about some of your previous characters, and especially the ones from Stolen Gypsy?

My favorite character in Stolen Gypsy is Peter McCray. He has great instincts about people, can be tough but gentle when needed, and he has a sense of humor.

My favorite character from all of my books and stories is Gaunt Thibideaux from Old Habits. He is complex and dark but on the surface everyone loves him.

My favorite female character is Olivia Roberts from View From the Sixth Floor. She starts out as a sweet southern senior and as the story progresses she gets tougher and stronger. I think all my female characters do in a way. I believe that’s true of many women. We are ready and able to step up and do whatever is necessary to care for ourselves and those we love.

5. Has your writing changed with each novel, or better yet – what has changed and what has stayed at the core of your writing?

Hmm that’s a tough one. I think my desire to tackle serious issues while building a story that is compelling has stayed the same. I still write most of a story in my head and sort of see it before sitting down to write. I am still surprised by some of the twists my stories take. I often have those ah ha moments where I think “oh I didn’t see that coming”.

6. Stolen Gypsy has quite a few legal subplots and the criminal scene is quite tricky to write. How did you do the research?

I am a huge fan of court shows and cases. As part of my volunteer work with a local domestic violence group I’ve been to court many times. Besides I love research.

7. While researching the Gypsy and Rom differences, what details surprised you?

I had no idea there was such diversity within the gypsy cultures. It was fascinating to learn the various customs. I had to pretty much pick and choose what to add to the story without overwhelming the reader.

8. Your action scenes are movie-like. How difficult is it to write them?

The action scenes are easy. I studied film and tv production in college and I love action films. I “see” the action in my head. They are fun to write, especially if I’ve had a bad day. Lol

9. The relationship between Terza and Devlin develops from a chance meeting to an epic scale. Did you enjoy slipping in the little details which pointed them in the way they should go? (Trying to avoid spoilers in my questions;).

I had a difficult time writing those parts. I kept wanting to rush them along, take them farther. But it isn’t that kind of a story. It was one of the few times I pulled out graphic parts and rewrote them. I guess I’m too lusty for teen relationships.

10. Have you met a Nora in your life? She only seems like a side character, and then turns out to be a person deserving her own novel.

Nora could have her own book. She’s extremely complex. Like Tristan she has a big heart. But I feel she was overshadowed by her prettier younger sister. It gave her a darker side that can erupt. I don’t think everything she does is done out of kindness.

That’s what I liked about her, in my own twisted way;) – she makes stupid decisions out of pride and vanity, but deep down she is not a bad person so she spends her life trying to make up for them before she admits to them. It makes her real, human.

11. By now this may seem like a typical question, but if this book became a movie, who would you like to work with on it? From the cast to the crew, even the musical score?

Tristan is easy. It’s a toss up between Cillian Murphy or Jonathan Rhys-Myers. Music by James Newton Howard hands down. Elizabeth Moss as Nora. Peter would be either Cillian or JRM and Dakota Fanning as Terza. Andreas is the biggest challenge. I’d love Sir Anthony Hopkins but I think it’s simply because I love him.

I’d like Ron Howard to direct I think. But I’m fairly flexible there.

12. How does this novel compare to the things your previously wrote? How do you feel about it and what do initial reviews say? Would you say you have risked more?

I think Stolen is like View in some ways, the younger version of Olivia & Bill. It has action like View. And of course obnoxious FBI agents. The initial reviews are very positive. I was pleased that a male reviewer commented on the action sequence with the cartel. If I can get a man to appreciate the gun fight I’ve done something right. My biggest risk with Stolen was injecting Rom dialogue. I tried it in English but it didn’t feel right.

13. When you are a reader, how do you pick a book?

I love horror and historical stories. I also enjoy true crime. Big surprise, huh? Usually I read the blurb and decide from there. Sometimes I am attracted to a cover. Of course I have favorite authors. If I see a book by Stephen King or Joe Hill, I grab it.

14. Would you say people read less nowadays and why?

I don’t know if they read less or simply prefer short stories, magazines, and newspapers. People seem to be hurried these days. However if you give readers a good story they will read it. If they really like it, they will talk about it and others will read it too.

15. Any new surprises planned for us fans in the future from you or the Crazy Writer Couple, you and Neil (Douglas Newton)?

I’m finishing up the first draft of my next book. Blood on Murder Highway is loosely based on a highway in British Columbia where a large number of First Nations women have gone missing or been found murdered. It’s an exceptionally graphic serial killer story. As far as the Crazy Writer Couple, we’re still working on the first book in our series, Fungi Fandango. Since we have individual projects it’s difficult to find time for our joint work.

16. Thank you very much for your time, Elizabeth. I’d better go write that review for your book, or else I might become a victim in your next book.* Just kidding. Any messages for the readers?

Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me. If I may, I’d like to let readers know I have some more novelettes coming out through Electric Eclectic Books and a short story in a Stab in the Dark anthology. Also I’m planning a contest where the winner get a Kindle loaded with my books. I’m not certain when, maybe when my next book is released.

*review posted yesterday;)

Links for Elizabeth H. Newton :

Author’s Amazon Page

Author Facebook Page

Author Website

Between the Beats (Author Blog)

Twitter

Tumblr

Instagram

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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.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authoralmengel

Twitter: www.twitter.com/authoralmengel

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads

(all photos provided by Andy Mengel)

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​And what do YOU have to say? – ELLEN L. BUIKEMA

Due to popular demand, my first author interview series is continuing. I hope it gives you a chance to meet some interesting new authors, or to find out more about the ones whose books you have already read. Today we are joined by Ellen L. Buikema. Thank you very much for your time, Ellen.

Ellen L. Buikema

I am a writer, speaker, educator, and mom. I graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago, received a M.Ed. specializing in Early Childhood, and have post-graduate studies in special education from Northeastern Illinois University. I worked as a teacher for 23 years.

During the school year I have the pleasure of being a visiting author, either in person or via Skype. I usually visit with students in Pre-K through fourth grade, although I have spoken with students through eighth grade. For Pre-K through first grade I bring Sock Puppet Tim along to help. He is a well-loved addition to author visits as he is funny and helps maintain students’ attention.

IDENTITY CARD

Name/pseudonim: Ellen L. Buikema
Book(s): Parenting . . . A Work in Progress, The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon series, currently working on The Hobo Code
Genre(s): Self-help, Children’s Fiction, Young Adult Historical Fiction
Day-job: Writer
Likes: Dark Chocolate and wine
Dislikes: Yelling
Favourite virtue: Sense of Humor
Fault: Very Stubborn
Favourite movie genres: Comedy, Suspense/Thriller
Favourite song/band/musician: I have an eclectic taste in music, so there are too many to mention.

INTERVIEW

1. Welcome to Anita’s Haven. Pull up a chair, relax and fire away. Firstly, tell us five things about yourself that you think matter the most.

Patience, persistence, love of children and animals, creative, humorous.

2. ​When you were a kid, what did you want to do in life as an adult? ​Can you remember the moment you realized you had become an author? How did it feel to transcend from that point when you just wrote for yourself to the point when you realized this was what you wanted to do full time?

My mother told me that when I was three-years-old, I lined up all my dolls and conducted school. However, I didn’t become a teacher until after I had my own children and decided that kids are awesome.

I knew I was an author when I held my very first proof in my hand. Until then it wasn’t real. The physical book made it truly real for me. It felt great!

3. Why do you write?What’s the most challenging aspect of your genre? How do you feel when you write? Is there a special ritual to it, a playlist, place, company, technology?

I write to get the ideas out of my head and to keep the characters quiet. I’ve had characters request name changes, as odd as that might sound. One insisted on being named Hugo.

I write on a laptop on our dining room table. A foot tall, plush dragon named Nom Nom, as in nom-nom I just ate another faerie, sits across the table as I write.

Currently, I am writing my first YA historical fiction novel after writing a children’s chapter book series. Two more are written, making it a series of five. I find the change in genre isn’t as difficult as the age change. This genre requires a great deal of research, so I am having fun talking to people all over the country about trains, hobos, and specifics about some cities and towns. I spend an hour on the phone with the owner of a bar in Wausau, Wisconsin, the location of the story’s beginning. She was able to give me details that make a huge difference in the setting for one part of the story. My list of acknowledgements is growing all the time.

4​. Tell us more about your book characters. Who is your favourite character and why?

There is a little bit of me in the majority of my characters. My favorite character in The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon series is Frankie, the worlds most obnoxious goldfish. He is the main character’s pet and a wonderful comic relief. Of the characters in The Hobo Code, so far I am most fond of Hannah. She begins the story as a feisty, eight-year-old who loves art, puts up with her older brothers, and is quite stubborn.

5. We all know typing those special words, the end, gives us a priceless feeling, but that is when the actual work begins. How do you deal with the editing process? Are you your toughest editor and beta-reader or do you rely on someone for that?

Wow! Editing is so important, too much for just one person. I go to two different critique groups, have beta readers, and use professional editors as well. I do not mind editing and find many of my errors when I read the chapters aloud, but I never, ever find all the errors myself.

6. How much do praise and positive reviews help to fuel your creativity and keep you writing? How do negative reviews affect you?

Positive reviews are awesome and appreciated. They do keep me writing.

When I get a negative review, I read it with an eye towards making a better story if the comments are constructive. If the comments are a bit off-the-wall, I read the reviewer’s comments of other authors’ works to see if there is a pattern. Sometimes people don’t like my work, preferring other genres and writing styles, and that is fine. Differences of opinion are to be expected. No one that I know of enjoys all genres and all styles of writing.

7. What do you do when you are not writing books? Any hobbies or projects you are particularly passionate about?

When I have a bit more time, I plan to go back to drawing and painting. I love art in its many forms. I can carry a tune and love to sing. Maybe some day I’ll learn how to play the guitar. Right now I am working on fluency in Spanish. I feel it is important to speak more than one language.

8. What’s the funniest or most interesting reaction you​’ve​ had from people when you told them you were a writer?

I have been looked at in awe and asked for my autograph. A few students have asked me if I am wealthy. I find that amusing.

9.​ ​Would you like to add anything, share a brief sneak peek into your book, or send a message to the readers?

Here is a snippet from The Hobo Code. Most of the story is in Jack’s perspective. This is a Hannah chapter.

John Schmidt opened the front door and herded his children into the largest building they’d ever seen. They entered a cheerless hallway of bare, drab-colored walls. I think if people stared at those walls long enough, they’d lose their imagination. Wooden cane chairs and a few stark benches leaned against one wall.
“Sit here while I speak to someone in charge.” Their father walked into the main office, directly across the hall from the uncomfortable bench Jack, George, and Hannah occupied.
The three children sat together, carpetbags on the floor in front of them, and waited to learn their fate.
“Jack, I think Hannah is right,” said George. “We shouldn’t be here. I feel like we’re being watched.”
The three huddled together, Jack speaking quietly so no one could overhear. “If all of us feel the same way, something has got to be wrong.”
They were being watched. A man dressed in dark pants and a blue work shirt, washing the floors, whisked his mop in their direction with a practiced rhythm. Every now and then he’d flick his brown hair back and sneak a peek. He licked his lips. The corners of his mouth tilted up into a leering grin.
I don’t like how that creep is staring at me. The closer he came, the greater Hannah’s urge to either smack him or to grab her brothers and run.
The creep was a few arm’s length away when John exited the office of the headmistress, followed by a tall, silver-haired woman in a waist-cinching, long black dress that swept the floor has she walked. The creep looked away and mopped in the opposite direction and down another hall.
John held his hat in his hand. “Children, this is the headmistress. She’s in charge of the orphanage.”
They sat frozen on the bench.
The willowy headmistress bent down and shook their hands. It was like shaking a fresh-caught fish—moist, droopy, and cold.
“Welcome to your new home, children. I’ll give you a few moments to say goodbye to your father, then I’ll have someone show you to your rooms.”

QUICK  POP-QUIZ

Dogs or cats Cats
Ice-cream or fruit
fruit
Meat or salad
salad
Fact or fiction
fiction
Music or silence
music
Indoor or outdoor
outdoor
Ocean view or mountains
Ocean view
Books or movies
Books
E-book or print
print 
Teach or learn
learn – this keeps the brain young so-to-speak
Romance or crime
crime

AUTHOR LINKS

Books:

https://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Charlie-Chameleon-New-Beginnings/dp/0990897931

https://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Charlie-Chameleon-School-Days/dp/0990897966

https://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Charlie-Chameleon-Summertime/dp/0990897990

https://www.amazon.com/Parenting-Work-Progress-Ellen-Buikema-ebook/dp/B00R2807X8

Website:

http://ellenbuikema.com

Social networks:

https://www.facebook.com/ecellenb/

https://twitter.com/ecellenb

https://www.linkedin.com/in/ellen-buikema-b289a661/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJugScmUYKs6L3NH9oyYn2A

https://www.pinterest.com/EllenKidsAuthor/pins/

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+EllenLBuikema

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/12592731.Ellen_Buikema

https://www.amazon.com/Ellen-L.-Buikema/e/B00THGTSA6/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

(All images and replies provided by author Ellen Buikema herself.)
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Challenged to a video interview

Well, it’s taken a long time but I have finally given in to being challenged to a video interview by author, book promoter, blogger and owner of Readers Review Room – Traci Sanders. 

If you do decide to take a peek, please be gentle with my over-loquacious babble. This is the first time I’ve given such an interview. Time will tell if it’s the last.

video interview link
PS: A huge thanks to Traci for being such a patient and amiable host, as well as for her overall support for the independent authors.
Pic 1: part of the display I set up for the interview

Pic 2: a promo for my new children’s book Spikes for Hank

Pic 3: a promo for The Threshold, my semi-horror novella Traci asked about

Pic 4 : my books, both kidlit and adult, and their links below

Lulu
Amazon
Barnes&Noble
Kobo
iBooks

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Who is SHE? – Deb McEwan

Today I have another wonderful guest – award-winning author Deb McEwan. She opens up about a number of things in this no-questions interview where I ask authors to write down what some key words mean to them. Thank you, Deb, for taking the time to do this.

Dreams – I’ve had vivid dreams for most of my life. There’s nothing worse than somebody telling you they had a weird/bad/whatever dream the night before then going into every single detail. For this reason I won’t bore you with my dream stories, suffice to say that I’ve been woken up for shouting at or hitting my husband due to something that’s going on in my head while sleeping. I often nod off again and return to the exact part of the dream where I woke up – like an episode in a series. My husband is very happy that I now write novels. I don’t dream like I used to and wish I’d known years ago that writing was the creative outlet I needed to stop the weird or frightening dreams.

I only want to know about your dreams if they are uber original or unusual. Any takers?

Stress – The good or the bad? Let’s take the good first. Anything that takes me out of my comfort zone and it’s not only physical like abseiling or a tough session with my personal trainer for example. (Though it’s a while since I’ve done any abseiling). Giving a presentation to a room full of people or the final minutes before a job interview are the situations that normally cause my good stress. I usually enjoy the buzz after the event!

Like most people, I don’t thrive on bad stress generally caused by having unrealistic deadlines thrust upon me, the thought of having to do housework or having to attend health and safety lectures. I might have mistaken the latter for boredom and don’t have to attend health and safety lectures these days. This sounds flippant I know and there are plenty more triggers that cause bad stress. I’m a bit more serious about this under the Journey heading.

Release – Sport or walking generally does it for me. Any tension melts away following a good workout. The ideas floating around in my head always take shape during a long walk and it’s my way of either escaping from real life, or working through any problems.

Support – You sometimes expect support from family members but can’t beat the support of your good friends who choose to be there for you. As far as writing is concerned, the Indie Author Community are a marvellous bunch, who help each other without expecting anything in return.

Model – the first image that springs to mind are the waif-like serious looking females who strut up and down the catwalk. Images of these ladies have been blamed for many eating disorders in young girls who aspire to be super skinny. I read something the other day that models in France now have to have a healthy BMI before being employed in the industry. Don’t know if this is true but I hope it is. Should the model industry reflect all different shapes and sizes like the real world? You tell me?

Journey – When I was younger I discovered I had a 50/50 chance of inheriting the Huntington’s Disease gene. There are so many awful illnesses and diseases but I believe the worst is the one that may affect you, your family or any others you love. The relief of discovering that I didn’t have the gene was tempered by the guilt when I found out that other family members did. Up until that point I’d always thought I wasn’t good enough to do many things, including writing. Discovering that I wasn’t going to die from Huntington’s was a major turning point; I felt like I’d been given another shot and now embrace life to the full.

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Issue
– Writing. My characters talk to me all the time and the urge to get their words onto the computer is simply irresistible.

Relevance – According to Wikipedia: “Relevance is the concept of one topic being connected to another topic in a way that makes it useful to consider the second topic when considering the first. The concept of relevance is studied in many different fields, including cognitive sciences, logic, and library and information science.”

So there you have it.

Some believe there’s a reason for everything and that everyone is connected. Maybe this makes it easier to understand seemingly random events? Nobody knows for certain. Isn’t the majority of science best guess?

Joy – Loads spring to mind.

Spending time with the people I love is top of the list.

The sun is shining and birds are chirping away to the background music. I’m chilling with the people I love (husband, family, friends) in the pool and a glass of something is waiting in the fridge, for when I/we dry off.

Then there’s the random stuff like hearing children giggling, reading a fab book, or having a good old belly laugh.

Haven – Don’t know why, but I’ve always loved being around water. Walking in the rain, cwtched up at home reading while it’s raining outside, listening to the sea, taking a long shower, sitting under a tin roof listening to the rain. I think you’ve got my drift.

Deb’s writing news

I write in various genres. It all started with songs, followed by a book for children. The first, ‘Reindeer Dreams’, is a quirky rhyming Christmas story featuring Barry the reindeer and his family. My books for grown-ups started with the Aliens series. The Afterlife trilogy came next with a few ‘Jason the Penguin’ books in between.

The first book in my ‘Unlikely Soldiers’ series (free on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo and Nook) is set in 1970s Britain, with others to follow through the decades.

I’m currently working on a story about netball players, due out in the autumn.

Details of my books and some of my songs (co-written with musicians and I’m not singing thankfully) are on my website. https://debmcewansbooksandblogs.com

One was written for my husband for our 25th wedding anniversary – but that’s another story…

Thank you so much for sharing! Happy writing!

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Who is SHE? – Phoenix Rainez

Author Phoenix Rainez  a true romantic at heart, has also generously agreed to do my non-question interview and to explain what my key words remind her of. Meet Phoenix form a different perspective…

PHOENIX RAINEZ

DREAMS – there is one special dream I have, that I wish would come true and that is to find that perfect hideaway and spend endless time filling pages, with the stories that are crowding my head. A place where there is no concept of time, where days just filter into one long writing scene with no disruptions except for the necessary body functions.

STRESS –  A word that pushes so many buttons… I think my typical stressful times is when I have a deadline to meet or a course I need to work through and pass for my day job. As a full time, live-in-carer for the elderly, I have regular courses to update and pass to get that valuable certificate that qualifies me to continue in this field of work.

Do I find writing stressful you may ask? Only when I hit a stumbling block, a blank page staring at me and not knowing what to write or how to carry on from the next chapter. Let’s not forget the editing process and rewriting repeatedly till not only your editor is satisfied but you are too.

Definition of a writer’s stress – blood, sweat, tears, chewed finger nails, endless cups of coffee, chocolate fixes, sleepless nights and puffy eyes are but a few of the signs of a writer’s stressful times.

RELEASE – As I’m going through writer’s stress now, my release would have to be reading other writers books and wondering how they found it so easy to write and publish such an amazing story. Sometimes I will escape into a world of writing poems, my full proof escape from staring at a blank page I cannot fill with words.

SUPPORT – My husband is very supportive of my writing and will always give me the time and space I need to write, never complaining when I’d be up all night writing and sleeping late in the morning.

Friends and family have been very complimentary, supporting my writing and buying my books. I’d be rather disappointed if they didn’t (winking). Here I must mention my friends Terry and Paul, who first put me in touch with Wattpad, an online writing community, where you share your stories, one chapter at a time and get instant feedback. This is where I started and gained the support and confidence to publish my first novel SECOND CHANCES on Amazon, after securing a place in the top 25 semi-finalists in the Harlequin/Wattpad (SYTYCW) contest. Without the Wattpad readers support and encouragement I doubt I would have had the confidence to publish my first novel.

MODEL –  I think the person I look up to would have to be Nikki Kelly, author of the Styclar Saga Series, who I met and became friends with on Wattpad. Book 1 of her series was such a hit on Wattpad, she landed a traditional publishing deal with an international publisher and went on to America to promote her book. She gave up her day job to live her dream and write full time. I have all three of her hardback books on my bookshelf and looking forward to the day I can meet her for coffee in London, to get her books signed.

ISSUE – I would have to say my biggest issue with writing is time. Keeping up with social media is very time consuming but necessary to stay in touch with your readers. In between this is your family’s needs and socialising with friends. It is a fact that writers often become hermits and seldom realise they have not surfaced to see there are other people around wanting their attention.

Let’s not forget the trillion times you re-write and edit your story, a serious time stealer when all you really want to do is continue writing the stories filling your head-space.

JOURNEY – Writing has been an incredible journey for me. I have found a voice in my head that has been buried for years and it’s exciting to know that I have so many stories still to write.  Writing my way down this exciting road I have been very fortunate to meet so many talented writers, whose books I buy and continually add to my “to read list”.  

Writers are such a unique group of people whose friendship albeit online, is a journey in itself. Their continual support, advice and confidence boosting chats all help towards encouraging each other to keep writing. 

Reading books opens up a whole world of endless possibilities. You may travel through time, journey into a world of fantasy or magic and swoon over a romance that brings you to tears and even hide under the covers as you creep through the pages of a horror story. Let’s not forget the science fiction and paranormal worlds that have you gasping at the unimaginable.

RELEVANCE –  it’s not easy to be a parent. You learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others. Depending on your childhood, you may take pages out of your parent’s book and follow in their footsteps or you may choose to follow your own path, but whatever you do, will depend on what your learnt growing up and will make an impact on you as a parent and how you bring up your own children.

The same applies to writing. I learn from reading other writers books and joining writer’s online groups. I think it’s important for my writing to be a member of these groups, to learn from those more experienced and join in discussions, talking about any problems you may be experiencing and possibly helping with promotions or beta reading. I have found the most important and relevant part of being a writer is reading as many books as possible. This is where I am learning how to be a better writer, from the words of others.

JOY – my happiest moments are spent with my family. I am blessed with two beautiful daughters and four wonderful grandchildren. Celebrating special occasions with them are memories I treasure and photograph at every opportunity. One of the most incredible moments in my life as a parent was witnessing the birth of my first grandchild. I was thrilled and apprehensive when my eldest daughter asked me to be her birth partner, along-side her husband. Watching your child in pain is not the easiest of things to do but when my granddaughter’s head crowned the emotions were unbelievable. Of course, I cried. I had never witnessed anything so amazingly beautiful. I must’ve done something right as she asked me to be her birth partner when her son was born too.

As a writer, the most exciting moment is holding my paperback copy of the first novel I’d published. To see your words in print is overwhelming.

HAVEN – ANITA’s BLOG is a part of her charming personality and character. She is always willing to help support other authors and this shows in her blog post when she features other writers and give them the opportunity to show case themselves and their books through her delightful interviews.

I have no new releases at this time but hoping to publish my children’s illustrated story book, The Magic Chicken, at the end of this year. It is presently in the hands of the illustrator and I have recently seen the sketches and quite excited to see it all come together in colour. I do hope to be able to publish my new poetry book, Whispered Love, at the end of this year too and fingers crossed I may have my fantasy romance, The Colour of Love, ready for publication early in 2018. Editing and rewriting for this fantasy romance has been nightmarish for me and not sure if I will ever venture this route again. I have the greatest admiration and sympathy for my beta reader who has pain stakingly been guiding me through the rewrites and putting up with my endless ranting and bad tempered moments. I will be forever grateful for his patience, without which I know I would never see this book in print.

Covers for these books are still being worked on. 

Thank you so much, Phoenix. Happy writing!

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Who is SHE? – B. J. Tiernan

Another amazing lady joining me for the ladies’ interviews in May is author Beverly J. Tiernan, a retired History teacher who never rests, author of the philosophical thriller Standing on a Whale and a beautiful histfic romantic life story Yield. Here is her take on my non-question based interview, and some of her exciting news at the end.

B. J. TIERNAN

What do these words mean to you, Beverly?

1. DREAMS 

When I see the word DREAMS, a little childhood chant comes to mind that has changed my life forever. The message hidden in this little gem is profound. ROW ROW ROW YOUR BOAT is the chant and here are the nuggets of wisdom it offers:

ROW, ROW, ROW means do what you do – go to work, clean the house, raise your children, write a book, etc. YOUR BOAT Don’t row somebody else’s boat, ROW YOUR OWN BOAT and leave everyone else alone. How do you row your boat? GENTLY, always with love and kindness. Where do you go? DOWN THE STREAM not up the stream against life, but flowing down the stream with life – trust and let go. With what attitude do you do these things? MERRILY, MERRILY, MERRILY, MERRILY Why? Because LIFE IS BUT A DREAM…This is the philosophy I live by.

 2. STRESS 

I choose not to participate. I know what and who causes stress in me and I set up loving boundaries to keep those people and situations at bay. No drama, No trauma. That’s the motto I live by.

3. RELEASE 

Ah, my favorite word in the English Language. It took me a long time to get it, now I have got it. To release – to let go of – toxic thoughts, toxic people, toxic relationships, toxic food, toxic beliefs, toxic judgements. As soon as we learn how to let go and RELEASE, life gets a whole lot easier.

4. SUPPORT 

Support is a funny thing. For me personally, I support those who support me. If I support those who do nothing to help me, then I become an enabler. When I die, I intend to leave my hard-earned money to those who have been loyal and supportive to me throughout my lifetime, not to those who have done nothing to support me or help me along my way. Buy hey, that is me doing my thing in my own boat. Please, don’t judge me. Stay in your own boat and I won’t judge you either. P.S. I do not feel this way about giving to the poor. Those who are helpless to help themselves are the exception.

5. MODEL 

When I see this word, I think of role MODEL. Role models are everywhere. People, animals, nature, our bodies. Some of my best teachers are not people, but situations and inanimate objects. There are sermons in stones if one will but listen.

6. ISSUE 

There is no ISSUE. I observe people and situations and learn from my observations. I take my good from where it comes and leave behind what is not in harmony with me.

7. JOURNEY 

We each have come here on a sojourn, a journey. We have the right to fulfill that journey with no interference and judgment from others. Once we learn to free ourselves from the good opinion of others, stay in our own boats, and leave others alone in theirs, the JOURNEY is on.

8. RELEVANCE 

Everything is relevant to something. Our task is to figure out what is relevant to us and to our own lives. Then we must decide what to do with it. As long as we move in love, I think we move in the right direction.

9. JOY 

JOY is a choice. It is a state one can live in every day. For me, JOY comes from living in a state of gratitude. Giving thanks EARLY, LATE, AND OFTEN for all that I have. That’s what keeps me in JOY.

10. HAVEN  

My HAVEN is my writing space. When I am writing, I am in a space like no other. Time matters not, Food matters not. Problems matter not. I am in a cocoon of inspiration that takes me away, kind of like a Calgon Bath. 

And here is the bit of news from Beverly…

CURRENT PROJECT:

Wolf Schimanski and I have formed a writing partnership called TierWolf Creations. We are currently working on our debut novel. We have dubbed the genre as Metaphysical Thriller, but there are lots of surprises in this story, some that surprise even us. Wolf is the gold and I am the alchemist. Two authors who met along the way and have been given the chance to create something special together.  

Yield – blurb

Marley Cover has lived in Lake Wales, Florida, since she was five.

While the country heads into the Vietnam War, a small town anxiety overtakes her, as she desperately searches for the man of her dreams.

Marley focuses on her career as a physical therapist and meets her first patient, Peter Rensen, son of a local ranch owner, who doesn’t wait long to propose marriage. Peter adores her and he’s a good man, but sparks are not flying for Marley. Longing for a family of her own, she eventually relents and says “I do.” She has every reason to say yes and only one to say no.

She meets that reason on her wedding day. His name is Warren, and he’s just come back to town. From the first touch of his hand, Marley is infatuated, but her decision has already been made.

The accompanying anxiety of the war looms on, as Marley struggles with the intimate impact of the burgeoning uncertainties of these troubled times.

Torn between love and loyalty, Marley faces some of the toughest decisions of her life.

SHORT LINK DIRECT TO YIELD ON AMAZON: http://amzn.to/2gdtX14

Thank you, Beverly! Happy writing!

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Who is SHE? – Lisa Veldkamp

During May I will be doing several interviews with female authors in a series entitled ‘Who is SHE?’ It will not be a feminist rant, nor do I plan to nag about women’s oppression – in fact, I am planning a similar series with some male authors, too. But ladies first. It has been such a pleasure to meet so many creative talents and fighters in the writing world that I wish everyone could appreciate these ladies’ relentless pursuit of their dreams, whilst balancing the life of the ‘ordinary’ miracles such as family and jobs.

Seeing as my guests are all quite creative, I do not want to limit them with typical questions but try something different. My guests will be asked to say what certain words mean to them, and they will not limit their replies to books, but also write about themselves, the world today, even family and friends, to sort of give us the feel of them as people and artists as well.

At the end of each ‘interview’, the readers will be surpised by the latest news from my author guests – their new release announcements, sneak peeks and even glimpses into their work in progress.

My first guest is author LISA VELDKAMP and today of all days is the release of her new novel The Empath. All the best with the book, Lisa, and thank you so much for sparing some time to drop by. Here is what Lisa had to say about her challenge words…

DREAMS

Funny you should start with this one. For it was a dream that made me write The Fire Trilogy. It was after I saw Placebo in concert. They were headlining Pinkpop in 2009 and while they we’re playing ‘Come Undone’, I was taken to another world. The world of Catherine and Tristan. When I was home again, I dreamed the entire outline of the trilogy in two nights in a row. It literally picked up again where it ended the following night. One of the weirdest things that ever happened to me. I took it as a sign from the universe and decided to start writing.

STRESS

I’m certainly no stranger to stress. I used to have a very stressful job and eventually decided to turn my life around. It was scary, both financially and emotionally, but it was the best decision I ever made. My life is so much healthier now and I’m grateful I had the chance to be able to this this. Is my life stress-free? No, I don’t think that’s possible, not for someone like me. However, I know how to deal with stress now and I recognize the signs, so I can act accordingly. Playing my harp is really soothing. It helps me to unwind.

RELEASE

Well, on this particular day, release means the release of the second installment of The Fire Trilogy. My book, The Empath, is available in stores today. Very exciting. Tonight I will do a book signing in my local bookstore, which I’m really looking forward to. Other than that, release -for me – is mostly about letting go of control. I still find that….. challenging. I’m kind of a control freak. 

SUPPORT

First thing that comes to mind are my family, partner and friends. I have a great inner circle I can always count on. I feel really blessed in that way. Very fortunate to still have both my parents, who are my great example of a happy marriage. 

Support also comes from my favourite coffeehouse, Barista Café. I do my writing there and they’ve supported me and my writing from the beginning. Love those people!

MODEL

I have many people who inspire me and I consider a model/role-model. While I was growing up, I always saw the shows of Youp van ‘t Hek. He’s a stand-up comedian from Holland. I still go to every new show, by the way. He always makes me think about life and the universe. Yes, he’s funny, but most of all, he’s critical and sheds a painful light on what’s wrong with our society. He makes me cry, he makes me laugh, he makes me think. Yes, he’s been a real model to me.

ISSUE

Haha, when I hear the word issue, I think about my work as an editor for our Dutch harp magazine. We’re always busy with the latest issue. Do we have enough interviews, sheet-music, reviews and what not? We have a great team, though. I love to be a part of this process. And it takes my mind off my own writing.

JOURNEY

This great journey called life, I suppose. People tend to focus on a destination so often, they forget to live in the now. Living in the moment has become more important to me over the years. To really enjoy the now and be content with the present. You can’t change the past (unless you have a time-turner) and though it’s good to plan ahead, you can’t control the future either. So why not focus on the here and now? 

RELEVANCE

This is a tough one for me. I do not really concern myself with my own relevance. I’ll always be relevant to myself and those who care about me. Like they are relevant to me. Politicians are always concerned with their relevance. If they seize to be relevant, they might be out of a job. Which is why I could never be in politics. Relevance shouldn’t be about societies’ rules or pressure. To me, it’s a more personal word.

JOY

So many things bring me joy. Spending time with loved ones, music (especially Placebo and playing my harp), writing, riding horses, nature, healing. But also very mundane things like watching movies or tv series bring me great joy.

HAVEN

Well, besides the name of your blog, haven means my home. My safe haven. The place where I can always be myself, feel protected and loved. I love spending time at our own place. I’m a big believer in putting as much love in your house as you possibly can. It will give it back to you, really. Trust me on this one. It will work and your home will be the better for it.

And to finish this unusual ‘interview’, here is a wonderful piece of news from Lisa – her completely new release THE EMPATH – out now!

The Empath is the second installment of The Fire Trilogy and is now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bol.com or you local bookstore. 

UK link 

US link 

Bol.com link 

Blurb

Battersea Park Station. Home of the company. The kind we all need, but nobody likes to talk about. Tristan Visconti works for the company and his clearance level has just been upgraded. Why? Simple, because he and his team have exactly one week to save our planet from impending doom.

When Tristan arrives in London, he needs to convince his client, Catherine van Dyk, of her own powers to help save our world. Problem is, Tristan believes he is on a suicide mission and so does his team. His former lover, Eve, is behaving out of character and then there is Alan, Catherine’s ex. Like Tristan, Alan’s an empath, but he’s also a master of death and the company can’t locate his whereabouts.

As Tristan, Catherine, Alan and Eve take center stage, the company is fulfilling its own agenda. Question is, are they working to save the world or to help destroy it?

Booktrailer The Empath

Lisa Veldkamp

www.the-elemental.co.uk 

www.facebook.com/theelemental

www.twitter.com/Lisa_Elemental 

Thank you, Lisa! Have a phenomenal release!

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Meet D. M. Cain

If you have not yet met author D. M. Cain, now is the time because this amazing young writer is making her way into the book world worldwide big time. It is my pleasure to have her over as an interview guest, and grateful to her for providing you with a sneak peek of her newest release.

Brief bio

D.M. Cain is a dystopian and fantasy author working for Creativia Publishing. The Light and Shadow Chronicles series features a range of books which can be read in any order. The series instalments to date include A Chronicle of Chaos and The Shield of Soren. D.M. Cain is currently working on the next novel in the Light and Shadow Chronicles series, The Sins of Silas, as well as two complementary novellas entitled Genesis of Light and Origin of Shadow.

Cain has released one stand-alone novel: The Phoenix Project, a psychological thriller set in a dystopian future. The Phoenix Project was the winner of the 2016 Kindle Book Review Best Sci-Fi novel Award.

Cain lives in Leicestershire, UK with her husband and young son, and spends her time reading, writing and reviewing books, playing RPGs and listening to symphonic metal. 

Author site and links

Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/DMCainauthor&nbsp;

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DMCain84&nbsp;

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/dmcain

Mailing List: http://eepurl.com/XevZH&nbsp;

Website: http://www.dmcain84.com&nbsp;

Google+: https://plus.google.com/+DMCain/posts&nbsp;

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/DMCain&nbsp;


Sneak peek from The Shield of Soren

 The Shield of Soren excerpt

With a loud clang of metal slamming into metal, the final bolt was undone. Reign slowly pulled the door open, and Vincent found his breath catching in his throat. 

High-pitched whimpering came from the tiny bundle of rags cowering at the back of the cage. Her long silver hair parted for a moment and Vincent could see her wide, silver eyes, terrified and innocent. Vincent’s skin prickled with discomfort. He hoped that Reign had a damned good reason for capturing a small child like this. 

Beside the glass cage were two oil lamps, both resting unlit. Reign reached up and took one down. Then, in a single savage moment, he slammed the lamp onto the floor of her cage. The girl screamed in terror and covered her head with her hands, but he hadn’t been aiming for her. 

The shattered glass gave way to a stream of oil that spread out in a pool across the floor. This seemed to scare the girl even more, and she began to cry quietly, sobbing into her clenched hands. 

Reign looked back at Vincent. Excitement flashed in his eyes as he drew a match from a box in his pocket. A small flare of light, a flicker of sulphur and a small flame danced on top of the match. With another laugh, Reign tossed the match into the glass cage.

Vincent gasped as the oil ignited in a rush of intense heat. The entire floor of the cage burst into flames. Vincent tried to rush forwards to save the girl from a fiery death, but the heat was too intense. A hand tapped incessantly at his shoulder, and he tried to brush it away, but Reign grabbed hold of his hand.

“Look! Look!” Reign shouted excitedly, pointing at the cage. 

When his eyes fell upon the cage, Vincent froze to the spot, his eyes nearly popping from their sockets. “But…how?”

The girl, who Vincent had assumed would be burning in agony, was somehow floating above the flames, hovering at the top of her cage. From her back sprouted two enormous wings of the purest white feathers Vincent had ever seen. The two beautiful white fans could only just fit within the confines of the cage, and as she beat them to stay afloat they fanned the flames beneath her. 

It wasn’t just her wings that dazzled Vincent with their purity. Her whole body had adopted an ethereal, almost ghostly, silver aura, her hair shimmering with radiance. She didn’t seem too frightened any more, but there was a definite hint of sadness in her gentle eyes. 

Vincent studied her carefully, struggling to catch his breath, which he hadn’t realised he had been holding. “What is she?” he managed to croak. 

Reign grinned and draped an arm across Vincent’s shoulder. “She, my friend, is an angel.”

Interview time

1. Why do you write? 

I love to get away from the stresses of being a teacher, author, wife and mother by delving into my own worlds and losing myself in my characters. It is so cathartic for me, even when I’m exhausted from a hard day’s work, and nothing relaxes me more than writing. 

Also, my stories and my characters are always so loud inside my head. They shout for my attention and I have no choice but to write down what they say. I can’t bear the idea of my stories disappearing into nothingness when I die, without me having written them down somewhere. Of course I would love to see them as bestsellers on the shelves of Waterstones, but really the most important thing for me is just that the ideas are written down somewhere. 

2. What’s your latest project? 

The Shield of Soren was just released last month. This novel is an epic fantasy in the sword and sorcery category. It is the next in the Light and Shadow Chronicles series after A Chronicle of Chaos although they do not run chronologically so can be read in any order. 

3. Who is your favourite character among the ones you created? 

I particularly love a character from The Shield of Soren and A Chronicle of Chaos called the Bavelize. An evil, mysterious villain, it is so good to write about! The character is dark and twisted  and is so much fun to write, both because of the domineering evil it exudes, and the fact it is created entirely from smoke so is constantly shifting and writhing. I’m also very attached to a new character in my current work in progress named Silas – but you haven’t met him yet 😉

4. What are your writing plans for the future? 

I plan to continue the Light and Shadow Chronicles and I have two complementary novellas coming soon. The next two full length novels are in progress too (though they may be halted for a while by my new little one who is due in July!) I plan to continue writing for the rest of my life – it’s in my blood and in my soul. I couldn’t stop even if I wanted to. 

5. Which books/authors do you admire and why? 

My favourite author is C.L. Schneider who wrote The Crown of Stones Trilogy. She sets the bar incredibly high in terms of plot, tension, high quality writing and incredible characters. I can’t even begin to measure myself against her level of writing but that is what I am always trying to aim for. I also truly admire JK Rowling/Robert Galbraith. She is an excellent writer who never gave up despite all the rejections she suffered and her writing is always truly gripping. 

6. What makes you happiest in the writing process? 

Spending time with my characters. Writing them is a joy when there are no other pressures – no deadlines or tricky plot holes to dig myself out of. Just plain writing is wonderful. It gets to the point where I spend so much time with a character that they seem to come to life and I think of them almost as real people (does that make me sound crazy??)

7. What was your favourite book when you were younger or a child? Why? 

As a teenager, I always loved The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I think it’s the one book I’ve read that has literally everything I’ve ever wanted in a story. It is devilishly witty and funny, but at the same time dark and foreboding. It is the most quotable story I’ve ever read, but hits quite a powerful nerve by the end too. Wilde was an incredible writer. 

8. How do you deal with editing/proofreading? 

My books undergo an extensive editing and proofing process. After I have written the first draft, I read and edit the book myself at least three times before it goes to the official editor. This is for me to pick up on any character inconsistencies or timeline issues. 

It then goes on to my fabulous editor, Pam Elise Harris, who completely guts it for me, fixing not just grammatical errors but also suggesting plot changes, sentence restructuring etc. She does three passes over the book, sending it back to me every time to make changes. 

When Pam is finished with it, it goes to Sophie Thomas, my very thorough proofreader who finds any remaining inconsistencies or errors.  Finally, it goes through yet another proofreader with my publisher, Creativia. 

This whole process can take up to a year, just for editing. 

9. Pick one of your books and explain it to us as if it were a movie, listing the cast and crew if you wish. 

I’ve chosen A Chronicle of Chaos in The Light and Shadow Chronicles series. 

Chaos and Anathema – two souls inexplicably drawn to one another. They make come from entirely different worlds, but when thrown together they will cause an epic conflict that could tear the world in two. When the forces of Heaven and Hell collide, where will their loyalties lie?

Starring:

Bob Morley as Chaos Lennox

Lucas Till as the demon Anathema

Katheryn Winnick as Callista Nienna

Santiago Cabrera as Raven Lennox

10. Do you have any special promos, charity releases, appearances or book releases you’d like to tell us about?

I am soon appearing at a local ladies club to deliver a talk which will focus on women’s achievements in the community. My latest book The Shield of Soren is on e-tour at the moment in various places. And I have Instafreebie promos happening all the time. 


Thank you, D. M. Happy writing!

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