The Awesomeness of Ask the Authors 2022

Ask the Authors 2022

Purchase Link: https://books2read.com/u/3LnK8e

Ask the Authors 2022 in the ultimate writing reference anthology, with writing tips and advice from eleven talented writers at different stages in their writing careers. Each brings unique perspective to the table on all stages of the writing, publishing and book marketing processes.

To celebrate this awesome writer’s tool, seven of the contributing authors, including myself, are gathering on Mark Leslie Lefebvre’s Stark Reflections podcast to exchange writing wisdoms, much as we did for the anthology. Joining us was fantasy author L. Jagi Lamplighter, media tie-in writer and fiction author Bobby Nash, science fiction author Kevin Killiany, paranormal and horror author Roberta Eaton Cheadle, and speculative fiction author Mario Acevedo. Call it a meeting of literary minds… or maybe just seven authors hanging out on a podcast. No matter what you call it, you can catch the episode on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/4069021703323990 or on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQrhSouh5aU. Of course, you can wait for it to come out on the podcast, if you prefer to just listen, too.

Just in time for NaNoWriMo, you can get this wonderful author’s reference in Kevin J Anderson’s Writer’s Career Toolkit Bundle along with fourteen other great writing tools at a special bundle price. It’s a great deal. You can’t beat it. So grab your bundle today!

Writer’s Career Toolkit Bundle

Purchase Link: https://storybundle.com/blog/writerscareertoolkitbundle/


Day 6 of the WordCrafter “Visions” Book Blog Tour

Visions Book Blog Tour

Digital Giveaway

Three digital copies of Visions will go to three lucky winners.

Enter at each stop just by leaving a comment so I know you were there.

Follow the tour, comment at each stop, and learn more about this exceptional anthology.

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For Day 6 of the WordCrafter Visions Book Blog Tour, we have an exciting double stop, with a guest post by contributing author Jeff Bowles, about his story, “Wilding of the Painted World”, and then, we’re heading over to SaraWesleyMcBride.com, where Sara is doing an interview with me about the anthology and WordCrafter Press. So, let’s get right into it and turn things over to Jeff.

Guest Post

Reclaiming My Mind and My Dignity

My entire life, I’ve suffered from serious mental illness. This is a matter of fact thing, mentioned here so that I can relate to you the inspiration for my short story, Wilding of the Painted World. About a year before I wrote the first draft, I suffered a psychotic break. It was my first, and to this day, my only one of those horrible things.

Trust me when I tell you my whole world flipped upside down. The hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, the sense of my true self submerged in some kind of crazy facsimile. Not too much detail is required. Suffice it to say, it wrecked my life ever so slightly for several years. Though I’ve found ways to overcome the more dormant form of my now diagnosed Schizoaffective Disorder, the haunting nature of those wild days follows me still.

When I was beginning to recover from the aftershocks of having been, temporarily at least, stark raving mad, I thought I’d come back to my writing as a means of catharsis. I hadn’t written a word in months and months, and the writing didn’t come easy. I had this notion that a perfect life, a perfect world, was waiting out there for me somewhere. I was lost to this mental state for so long, I neglected to count my blessings whenever, however I could.

One of those blessings was my wife. No, that’s not a strong enough statement. The single largest blessing in my life is my wonderful, beautiful wife. Who, despite my behavior, despite having acted in some truly disturbing ways, stuck with me and even chose to become a major part of the recovery process. She championed my desire to heal through writing. She’s been by my side for seventeen years, thirteen of which have been in matrimony. I’m incredibly lucky to have her, though she hates the idea that she’s done anything special. She has. She helped save my mind, maybe even my life.

I’ve tried to be as nurturing toward her as she’s been toward me. Who knows if I’ve come anywhere close. She gave me this wonderful idea one night as we were eating dinner and watching one of our favorite shows. It was a vision, really. She saw in her mind’s eye, I believe, the image of a young girl painting a picture of herself. If you could live in that painted world, you’d find a version of you that would be radically different from you as you exist in real life. What if that place was used as a home? Or, conversely, what if it were a prison?

That last part was my contribution to the original concept. I wanted to set it in a classical Fantasy world, one in which magical things can and do happen. I have dark writing sensibilities anyway, but the things I’d just gone through tended to color the penning of Wilding in a fairly sober fashion. I guess I fell in love with the idea of escaping to a place beautiful but bizarre, enchanting and rare, but tinged with just a hint of longing and despair. I understood these modes of feeling and thinking. They were my second nature at that time.

Plus, I wanted to write a sequence at a masquerade. I loved the idea, but more than this, one of the people I feel I hurt during my psychosis had once written a beautiful piece of fiction staring a masquerade, so that bit of Wilding is an homage. Coming all together in a somewhat unexpected manner (in that I didn’t expect to be able to finish the story at all), and then going through a battery of revisions, Wilding of the Painted World is more serious in tone than most of my other fiction. I hope you enjoy it, but please realize that for me, the production of this piece was an act of desperation. It did help me heal, but not as much or as quickly as I would have liked. Now, five years after the first draft, it has been published in full, and I find myself curious how it will be received.

I’m a different person now, but no, the misery of my Schizoaffective has not left me. My wife once told me that I may be a crazy person, but that at least I was a reasonable one. Thank God for that. Sometimes I can’t help but feel like I’m a monster, a scary person. But I wasn’t before, and I suppose I’m not now. Good riddance to bad days—getting back to basics is a great way to begin the reclamation of one’s own identity.

The writing is easier now, much easier than it was when I first struggled to define the character of Master Kestor and his incredible painting of a wild, wild world. Where dark things linger. Where a creature who once was normal, just like you and me, dwells in chosen confinement, waiting for a day of glory, of redemption. A lasting day of piece. May we all be as steadfast as her.

About Jeff Bowles

Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The FallGodling and Other Paint StoriesFear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

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Visions

Order your copy today. Available at your favorite book distributor through the Books2Read UBL: https://books2read.com/u/49Lk28

About the Book

An author’s visions are revealed through their stories. Many authors have strange and unusual stories, indeed. Within these pages, you will find the stories of eighteen different authors, each unique and thought provoking. These are the fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, and horror stories that will keep you awake long into the night.

What happens when:

An inexplicable monster plagues a town for generations, taking people… and souvenirs?

A post-apocalyptic band of travelers finds their salvation in an archaic machine?

The prey turns out to be the predator for a band of human traffickers?

Someone chooses to be happy in a world where emotions are regulated and controlled?

A village girl is chosen to be the spider queen?

Grab your copy today and find out. Let authors such as W.T. Paterson, Joseph Carabis, Kaye Lynne Booth, Michaele Jordan, Stephanie Kraner, and others, including the author of the winning story in the WordCrafter 2022 Short Fiction Contest, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, tantalize your thoughts and share their

Visions

From Kaye Lynne Booth, editor of Once Upon an Ever After: Modern Fairy Tales & Folklore, Refracted Reflections: Twisted Tales of Duality & Deception and Gilded Glass: Twisted Myths & Shattered Fairy Tales.

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That’s it for today’s stop on Writing to be Read, but don’t forget about Sara Wesley McBride’s interview with me: https://www.sarawesleymcbride.com/visions/. I’m anxious to share with you about the Visions anthology and what I do through WordCrafter Press. I do hope you’ll drop in for a bit.

Here are the links to the previous stops in case you missed them.

Day 1 – Guest Post – Billie Holladay Skelley & Winning Story Interview with Roberta Eaton Cheadle – Writing to be Read

Tuesday – October 18 – Guest Post – Michaele Jordan & Review – Patty’s World

Wednesday – October 19 – Guest Post – D.L. Mullan – The Many Showers of Blessings

Thursday – October 20 – Guest Post – C.R. Johanssen & Review – Robbie’s Inspiration

Friday – October 21 – Guest Post – Patty L. Fletcher & Review – Zigler’s News

Tomorrow on Roberta Writes, we have a guest post by contributing author Stephanie Kraner, and then Monday, we’ll wrap up with a guest post from contributing author Joseph Carabis right here on Writing to be Read and a review by DL Mullan on Undawnted. Remember to leave a comment at each stop, so I can tell you were there. You get an entry into the giveaway just for showing up, but I have to know you were there.

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Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


Treasuring Poetry – Meet poet and author, Yvette Prior and a book review #Poetrylovers #readingcommunity @bookreview

Today, I am very excited to welcome Yvette Prior from Priorhouse blog as my September Treasuring Poetry guest. Yvette is among the first bloggers I met when I started Robbie’s Inspiration and she was always encouraging and supportive of my artwork and writing. Thank you, Yvette.

Today, Yvette, a talented poet and author herself and a huge supporter of other writers and bloggers, is going to share some of her thoughts about poetry and some readings from her lovely poetry book, Avian Friends.

What is your favourite poem and why?

Winter Chill

Stood and listened

to birds tweet and whistle

had breakfast to make

day to begin

stuff to do

but standing

in winter chill

at the back door

harmony

stopped me

hope flew in

melodious infusing during a winter chill

trees still bare

yet birds were there

dulcet air

momentary loss of care

cold days

soon to part ways

winter hard is exiting

birds returning

spring soon erupting

green grass, pleasant breeze

flowers, butterflies, bees

replacing freeze

shivering, I shut the door

musical deliverance once more

Behind the poem

Winter Chillwas written about a brief experience I had when I opened the backdoor one winter’s day. I was stopped in my tracks. It was the first time I had heard the birds in a long time and their “harmony stopped me” as “hope flew in.” I am not what people would refer to as a “birder.” I do not put out seeds and we don’t have any feeders on our property (although I might add some later). The birds have just found a nice little habitat on their own and I am grateful. In this poem, I described the scene exactly as it unfolded -opened the door, heard the birds, and I was reminded that a better season was on its way. This idea could apply to more than just a cold weather season ending – it could also apply to the trials and heavy times in life. Challenging times do not last forever and sometimes we might just need to pause – in the midst of a difficult season – and find small (healthy) ways to enjoy “momentary loss of care.” Hope can mean so much too – and so anytime we have Hope fly in – let’s embrace it. 

Please share a poem you enjoy and why you enjoy it

This is just to say by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten

the plums

that were in

the icebox

***

and which

you were probably

saving for breakfast

***

Forgive me

they were delicious

so sweet

and so cold

Williams’ poem whispers so much to me and one takeaway is the freedom someone felt to indulge in the plum. There are times we sacrifice times we do outreach and hold back – but this depicts the opposite – it shows us someone so comfortable with the other person where they ate the plum (while knowing the person was saving it). The poem makes me smile because I can imagine how juicy and tasty it was. And the title and tone of the poem lets us know that the consumer here is not apologizing for eating it either. That’s my take. 

What are your plans for your poetry going forward?

I try to write every day, in a paper notebook, and most of this year I have been busy working on non-poetry projects so I only wrote a handful of poems this year. My goal is to get back to my musings with poetry. Even if all of the poems do not make it into a future book, I enjoy writing them.

 I started writing in middle school but really got into poetry while in college. In between classes, I created free verse poems. I moved words around andenjoyed simple rhyming schemes. 

I know that folks sometimes put down the easy rhymes, but I like them.  It is not about creating difficult poetry for me – it really is a type of solitude with words and ideas. 

Thank you, Yvette, for your lovely answers and for being my guest today.

Yvette has shared a lovely YouTube video recital of some of her poems from Avian Friends.

My review of Avian Friends by Yvette Prior

What Amazon says

In Avian Friends, you will find more than forty poems that offer encouragement and uplifting stories. The poems are free rhyme and connect to different life scenarios. Each poem also includes a “behind the poem” section, which provides personal reflections, teaching tidbits, and ideas for wellness. Backyard birds inspired the poems and the topic of faith has been gently woven in (not in a religious way) with the hope that diverse readers can enjoy the content.

The poems in this book are not complicated poems; instead, they are light and can lift the reader’s mood. The poems are for those who do not always read poetry – as well as for the poetry lover.

My review

Avian Friends is a delightful book of poetry that centres around the author’s interactions with birds in her personal life. In the reactions and interactions of her avian friends, the author finds threads of similarity to human reactions to circumstances and experiences and in relationships. She weaves these thoughts into the observations expressed in her poems.

One of the most interesting section of poems for me where the ones written following the death of a young and close relative. The author’s grief is palpable and her understanding of nature and the role of all creatures in the cycle of life help her come to terms with her sorrow and emotions.

An verse from Part III Life and Death:
“The nest was found
on the ground after the storm
nestlings didn’t make it
we mourned
fuzzy little creatures
oversized eyes
chests without air
buried with care
patting down soil
reminded me that we, too, will die …”

I have referred to the poet as the author because there is a lot of reflective prose in this book. Each poem is followed by a discussion which provides the poet’s inspiration for the poem, and includes quotes and information about birds and other aspects of life that contribute to the meaning behind the poem. I really enjoyed these explanatory sections and gleaned a lot of insight into the poet’s emotions and thought process from it.

Enjoyment of this book is certainly not limited to people who love birds as, in many instances, the birds are a metaphor for human life. This book will be enjoyed by all lovers of poetry.

Purchase Avian Friends

Amazon paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Avian-Friends-Yvette-Prior-Ph-D/dp/1973831228

Amazon kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Avian-Friends-Encouraging-inspired-Backyard-ebook/dp/B07QHNZF81

About Yvette Prior

Yvette Prior lives on the East Coast of the United States with her spouse, Chris, and together they have three adult children, two grandchildren, and no pets (after having many dogs over the years).

Yvette enjoys working with people and her varied work background includes education, social work, hospitality management, and lots of outreach. Her passion area is studying about health and wellness and after earning a Ph.D. in I-O Psychology, she poured into waiting book projects and she has not stopped writing since.

Her goal as a writer is to educate, edify, and encourage readers. Her personal blog can be found at priorhouse.wordpress.com

About Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with eleven children’s books and two poetry books.

The eight Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9 about Count Sugular and his family who hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

Robbie has published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has two adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories, in the horror and paranormal genre, and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com. where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVyFo_OJLPqFa9ZhHnCfHUA

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Treasuring Poetry – Welcome poet and author, Patty Fletcher and a review #poetry #bookreview #poetrycommunity

Today, I am delighted to feature poet, author, and blogger, Patty Fletcher and share her thoughts about poetry and her favourite poems. I really enjoyed the poems included in this post, those written by Patty herself, and those included in A Poetic Apostrophe. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

What is your favourite poem?

Hello, Robbie. Before I begin, I’d like to thank you for including me in Treasuring Poetry.

Honestly, poetry isn’t my forte. I do, however dabble some and in fact this poem, Ever Lost in the Moment was eventually published in an issue of The Avocet Nature Magazine.

It is a favorite because writing it allowed me to put words to a fantasy which played out in my head.

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

In the poem, Ever Lost to the Moment you see two lovers who have longed for one another for many years finally come together. This, along with the raw bones of nature roaring around them makes it magical to me and since I’m a huge believer in manifestation I still read this poem with the belief that one day it might come true, and I like the lady in the poem may be reunited with someone I love and we would come together as the lovers in the poem do.

Here it is below for your reading enjoyment.

Ever Lost in the Moment

By Patty L. Fletcher

The scorching wind roared angrily across the jagged peaks above. The thundering waves pounded the steep cliffs below.

 Standing, their bare toes clinging to the rocks, naked in the fading day. Faces moist with the ocean spray.  The sunset a ball of fiery molten liquid melting into the churning sea.

He, seeing her there, dangerously close to the edge. She, breathing the dank salty air. Her ebony hair streaming long and beautiful round her there.

He, drinking her in, his senses catching fire with want and desire, she, like a deer, sensing danger in the wind, felt him there.

Turning to him her mouth parting in a gorgeous smile, they stood, the only sound the roaring of the wind, pounding of the waves, and song of the gulls. Their hearts beat as one. In perfect time with the rhythmic sea, they knew, they would be, ever lost in the moment.

Ever Lost in the Moment was originally written in 2018 and the rewriting of it was inspired by:  http://scvincent.com/2019/02/14/thursday-photo-prompt-new-writephoto/ .

Another of my favorites, I happened upon while putting this interview together is called Ice Cream on the Fly. I wrote it after a visit from my daughter and six grandchildren after eight years of separation.

It tells the tale of our last day together and still makes me laugh until I’m near tears.

I hope you enjoy it too.

“Ice Cream on the Fly”

By Patty L. Fletcher

May 14, 2021

Ice Cream on the fly.

Sun shining bright in the sky.

Laughter on the air.

Happiness everywhere.

Kids got a sugar high.

Go to the park, let them swing, run, and slide.

Ride the merry-go-round round and round.

Oh, jeez if I did that after ice cream, well, I’d be sick on the ground.

Finally, momma says time to go. Must go home to ready ourselves so on the second part of our road trip we may go.

Back in the van rolling home with the setting sun.

WOW! We’ve had a great week of visiting and fun.

Home again, out we all flow.

Into the house we troop. Just one, big happy chattering group.

Eddy, we’re back nearly in unison we call. Eddy, no longer put off by our noise at all.

Meow! Jeez, what’s a cat to do. Nearly starved waiting for you.

“Who needs the bathroom?” I call. But though several said they did no one makes a move.

“OK, you snooze you lose.” I call to the room at large and then into the bathroom I barge.

Just when I think we’re gonna make it through the week with no serious issue. My beliefs are quickly washed away.

I flush and ready myself to leave the room when suddenly, Oh! What from yonder toilet breaks? What the… not to curse in several languages, all of my strength it takes.

Water is flowing across the floor, with every second which passes there is more and more.

Then, as I try to flee with my very life, the door refuses to budge and I fear I’m to be washed away.

“Oh! Oh! Oh! I scream! And yet, the water continues to stream.

“What the…” I demand of the air. This flipping water is everywhere.

“Turn it off! Make it stop!” Polly commands. Yet dumbfounded I continue to stand. “Turn it off! Turn it off!” She continues to insist, but in my brain, I continue to resist.

“I don’t know how.” I hear myself say. All the while knowing it’s not what I mean to state.

Suddenly my brain and fingers, they won’t connect. I’m panicked, what would one expect?

I am shoved aside, and Polly flashes past with a mighty cry.

“Here, in the back, turn it quick!” Still the words in my mind will not stick.

Then I see the water is everywhere. And all we can do is stand and stare.

Finally, with me and the others tucked safely out of the way, my oldest granddaughter begins to wipe the flood waters away.

After a time, all is set to right. We sit having supper in the deepening night.

Sweet Eddy hovers near, in hopes a morsel to his paw will drop near.

All too soon we’re calling good night. For they must rise with the early morning’s light.

Into the van sleepily Polly’s six-pack of kids, my beautiful grands they will fall.

As sure as the sun will warmly rise into the morning’s sky. I already know tears of good-bye I shall cry.

So, my friends I say to you wherever you go or what you do, be sure to hold those nearest and dearest to you.

Because you never know when they will return to you.

What are your plans for your poetry going forward?

Until recently, I never gave it much thought but while rummaging around in folders looking for some pieces, I could use in a Paranormal Romance Science Fiction manuscript I’m working on I ran upon a few more poems I’d written while dreaming of love lost so, I’ve been thinking more about trying to learn how to correctly write poetry.

I can write it but I’m never certain if I’m writing in the correct form. But as with a lot of things I want to learn, I keep putting it onto the back burner to simmer while other works bubble happily on the front of the stove.

Here, is one of the poems which was written after an encounter with someone with whom I used to have a secret relationship with.

I hope it’s OK to share.

If Only a Moment

Patty L. Fletcher

 January 22 2018

They stood, their backs to the world, safe.

 Even if only for a moment, happy and content.

Their arms round each other, her head on his shoulder.

His body, strong and lien. Muscles at the ready, hands like a cloud of thunder.

His voice, deep and rich.

They move through the house, talking in each room.

Stopping in the hall for a kiss.

Going onward into the study.

There, only a moment.

Moving as one to the bed.

Tumbling together, in a tangle of hands, arms, and legs.

Fire between his fingers, cold, as ice, yet somehow flames on her skin.

As they flow together, their passion runs deep.

Her mouth on his.

Their bodies become one.

They melt together in the molten lava of their sex.

Their hearts fly.

Their passions rise.

Her need peeks.

His fullness she seeks.

Together they explode, the white-hot throbbing, hums low.

After, they stand.

 Their backs to the world. safe, if only for a moment, happy and content.

What is your favorite poem?

Robbie, had you asked me this a month ago, I’m not certain I’d have had a great answer. Though several of my clients are poets and some of their poetry does speak to me nothing has spoken to me quite like A Poetic Apostrophe by Joan Myles, Annie Chiappetta and Winslow Parker.

Here it is below for you.

A Poetic Apostrophe

By Joan Myles, Annie Chiappetta and Winslow Parker

Good poetry is the expression of an open heart and a creative spirit. The ability to fashion these qualities into moving and meaningful word images develops with practice of course. Practice rooted in honest self-reflection.  And sometimes, the honest mirror of self-reflection resides in another poet.

Several months ago, Annie, Win and Joan started coming together to be that mirror for one another. In weekly sessions they alternate between reading and analyzing famous poetry and creating their own. They use the craft of such notables as Robert Bly, Amy Lowell, and Wallace Stevens as tutor and springboard for experimentation with word choice, rhythm and style.  The three are dedicated to the process of learning as they write, grounding their exchanged feedback in honesty– for the sake of the poem only.

When the trio found Edgar Allen Poe’s    piece, A Valentine less than pleasing, they used Billy Collins’s poem Workshop as inspiration to devise a suitable response.  While each response relates to a specific element in the poem, all of them acknowledge  Poe’s use of the apostrophe.

The apostrophe isn’t only a punctuation mark used in writing. It’s also a form or style of poetry. The Poetry Foundation defines an apostrophe poem as An address to a dead or absent person, or personification as if he or she were present. An apostrophe may provide a structure or reason for the poem. It can also provide tonal and figurative effects such as giving the poem an intimate or ironic tone.

The literary apostrophe is a tonal element of Poe’s poem, to be sure. But the essence of the piece feels more like a riddle. You see, “A Valentine is an acrostic wherein the letters of the poet’s love interest are to be discovered.

Now for the Poe poem the trio studied

A Valentine

Edgar Allan Poe – 1809-1849

     For her this rhyme is penned, whose luminous eyes,

         Brightly expressive as the twins of Loeda,

     Shall find her own sweet name, that, nestling lies

         Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader.

     Search narrowly the lines! —they hold a treasure

         Divine—a talisman—an amulet

     That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure—

         The words—the syllables! Do not forget

     The trivialest point, or you may lose your labor!

         And yet there is in this no Gordian knot

     Which one might not undo without a sabre,

         If one could merely comprehend the plot.

     Enwritten upon the leaf where now are peering

         Eyes scintillating soul, there lie perdus

     Three eloquent words oft uttered in the hearing

         Of poets, by poets—as the name is a poet’s, too.

     Its letters, although naturally lying

         Like the knight Pinto—Mendez Ferdinando—

     Still form a synonym for Truth—Cease trying!

         You will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do.

This poem is in the public domain.

And below are the individual apostrophe poems written in response:

A Raven’s Dark Valentine

By Ann Chiappetta

There is only one poem I like, the

One with chilled somberness and a raven

This one, though, bores me

Taunts and jabs my intelligence 

like the ebon beak

of the more Popular poem.

When I think of you

The sitcom comes to mind, you know

The one, with the altered family

Who lives on Mockingbird Lane. 

And I snicker, recalling

the family’s clock that should have

held a   black forest cuckoo.

I only wish what was once thought clever

Will never be more.

The Tell Tale Valentine

by Joan Myles

right off the rhythm grabs me line by line

a beating heart of sorts this valentine

but just as quick a mystery you pose

the name of your beloved to disclose

Greek allusions bleak confusions play

as I attempt the task and lose my way

I must confess I find it all a bore 

your raven spoke with wisdom” Never More”

Poe’s Poem

By Winslow Parker

So, Mr. Poe,

Acknowledged mournful poet and macabre storyteller,

You wrote a love poem to Miss Frances,

Who died young,

Just like your tragic heroines.

You hid her name,

In the heart of your poem,

A clever way of declaring your love.

But then you spoiled it all with:

“You will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do,”

Did you think so little of her intellect,

Her knot untying skills,

That you could not resist the impulse to make her feel small

In the presence of your mighty wit?

Is that love?

4/26/22

©2022 Winslow E. Parker All Rights Reserved

Annie, Win, and Joan encourage you to read poems wherever you may find them. Take your time to linger over the poet’s choice of words and images, to delight in shifting rhythms and rhymes, to let your mind and spirit play. And if you should find your thoughts stirred by an unexpected turn of phrase, or bedazzled by a sudden insight, a simple smile will do. For that’s the poet’s gift to you!

Why do you like this poem?

As you can see, not only is this an incredible piece of work by three poets but it’s as if the universe heard me grumbling about what I don’t know concerning the writing of poetry and WHAM! Just like that, a lesson appeared.

As I’m reading over this before sending to you, it occurs to me, I might have a poet somewhere within waiting to emerge.

Before I leave you today, I’d like to ask you indulge me with the privilege of sharing one more poem I wrote. This was written shortly after I returned from The Seeing Eye® with my first guide dog Campbell.

The Puppy Grew Up and Became

Once upon a time long ago,

When you were very small you know.

In the morning’s early dawn you were born,

But all too soon from your mother you were torn.

You were sent to live far away with a family you thought forever you would stay.

You learned the neatest and  most awesome tricks.

So much more than chasing sticks.

You learned to sit to rest to lay,

You learned to obey in every way.

You did all these things so very well,

And every day you grew.

All too soon your life changed again,

And you made another new friend.

He was your teacher, your very own guide.

Would you forever walk by his side?

No! This was not to be.

You learned all you could from him,

And then,

You were given to me.

Fast we became best of friends,

And it is with me you will now stay until our work together ends.

In honor of Guide Dogs, puppy raisers, Trainers, and Handlers Everywhere!

Thank you, Robbie for allowing me to share a bit of my poetry with you. Though I’m sure you have more talented poets than I among your guests it’s been a pleasure.

Review of Pathway to Freedom – Book One: Broken and Healed – How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life

What Amazon Says

In this, the first book in her memoir trilogy, Pathway to Freedom – Broken and Healed: Book One – How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life, Patty shares how her decision to gain complete independence with the help of ‘The Seeing Eye Guide Dog’ school in Morris Town, New Jersey, reveals to her a glimpse into worlds she had never before known existed. Once home from ‘The Seeing Eye’ she soon begins to realize all is not right in her world. Watch your step as you journey down the pathway with Patty and Campbell, for there are many obstacles along the way. There are triumphs and tribulations, tears and fears, but through it all that forever guide by her side, King Campbell works tirelessly to keep her safe from harm.

My review

When I started reading this book I thought it was a memoir of the author’s experiences being trained as a guide dog handler by the Seeing Eye Institution in the USA. I was keen to read about Patty’s experiences and learn more about the process of both training a guide dog and also the handler of the guide dog. I’d realised from conversations and correspondence with a few non-sighted friends that the handler develops a very close relationship with the guide dog and I wanted to learn more.

This book did offer that insight into the training process offered by Seeing Eye and I followed Patty on her informative and wonderful journey of gaining independence through becoming a handler. I was interested in all the detailed including the different types of training the pair undergo including a trip to New York.

Right from the beginning of the book it was obvious that Patty was in a difficult relationship with a man who did not have her best interests at heart. This flawed relationship is also a major theme in the book and the negative impact on Patty of having to walk on eggshells around her partner in many areas of her life was evident and upsetting. Certain details about Donnie were also revealed that make him quite a difficult character to like the least of which was his ill-treatment of his own two dogs.

The last section of the book was a little unfulfilling for me as I didn’t really understand why Patty’s relationship with her trainer from Silent Eye and her daughter broke down completely. I could make a reasonable assumption about it based on the information provided, but I would have like a little more clarity. I would also have liked to have known a little more about Patty’s father and how he recovered from his ill health.

All in all, this is an interesting and compelling story and certainly a worthy read.

Purchase links

Amazon US

About Patty L Fletcher

Patty Fletcher is a single mother with a beautiful daughter, of whom she is enormously proud. She has a great son-in-law and six beautiful grandchildren. From April 2011 through September 2020, she owned and handled a black Labrador from The Seeing Eye® named King Campbell Lee Fletcher A.K.A. Bubba. Sadly, after a long battle with illness on September 24, 2020, King Campbell went to the Rainbow Bridge where all is peace and love. In July 2021, she returned to The Seeing Eye® and was paired with a Black Labrador Golden Retriever cross named Blue.

PATTY’S BLINDNESS…

Patty was born one and a half months premature. Her blindness was caused by her being given too much oxygen in the incubator. She was partially sighted until 1991, at which time she lost her sight due to an infection after cataract surgery and high eye pressure. She used a cane for 31 years before making the change to a guide dog.

WHERE SHE LIVES AND WORKS…

Currently, Patty lives and works in Kingsport, Tenn.

She’s the creator and owner of Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing (Author, Blogger, Business Assist), The Writer’s Grapevine Online Magazine and the creator and host of the Talk to Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing Podcast.

WRITING GOAL…

Patty writes with the goal of bridging the great chasm which separates the disabled from the non-disabled.

HOBBIES…

Patty’s hobbies include reading, music, and attending book clubs via Zoom.

FAVORITE TUNES…

Some of her favorite types of tunes are classic rock, rhythm and blues, and classic country.

FAVORITE READS…

Patty enjoys fantasy, science fiction, and books about the supernatural. She loves books by Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Norah Roberts, and many more. Some favorite books include Norah Roberts’ Hide Away, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series.

SPIRITUAL FAITH…

Patty describes herself as a spiritual Walker. She says she knows both Mother Goddess and Father God and embraces all they have to offer.

CONTACT…

Email: patty.volunteer1@gmail.com

Visit:  https://pattysworlds.com/

About Robbie Cheadle

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Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Ask the Authors 2022 Book & Blog Series: Book Marketing

Ask the Aurhors 2022

Welcome to the final segment of the “Ask the Authors 2022” blog series. This week, a final introduction for Middle Grade & Y.A. author, L. Jagi Lamplighter, whose essay contribution is titled “The Trouble with Troupes” and a Q & A session on book marketing will be finishing off this wonderful series.

I want to thank all the readers who chose to spend their Saturdays hanging out with us for the past ten weeks, as we give this unique writing reference a send off, and let all the authors out there see why they need the plethora of writing wisdom contained between the covers of Ask the Authors 2022 writing reference anthology. And now it’s time to get started with this final segment.

Meet L. Jagi Lamplighter

L. Jagi Lamplighter is the author of the YA fantasy series: The Books of Unexpected Enlightenment, the third book of which was nominated for the YA Dragon Award in 2017 and the fourth book of which won the first YA Ribbit Award. She is also the author of the Prospero’s Children series: Prospero LostProspero In Hell, and Prospero Regained

She has published numerous articles and short stories. She also has an anthology of her own works: In the Lamplight. She also edits for Superversive Press and teaches “The Art and Craft of Writing”. She was also a presenter and panel member for both the 2020 Stay in Place Virtual Writing Conference and the 2021 New Beginnings Virtual Writing Conference.

Website: Welcome to Arhyalon: http://www.ljagilamplighter.com/

And now for the Q & A.

Book Marketing

Mario Acevedo: Here are my thoughts on Book Marketing.

I never thought much about branding myself and wrote what I wanted. Fortunately, everything tended to be in related genres. As for book marketing, if I knew what the magic lever was that you could pull and hit the jackpot, I would keep it to myself. I’ve tried all kinds of methods and gimmicks, some which worked okay, others which never moved the needle. What works for someone else, might not work for you. What works now may not work tomorrow. Remember, those masters in branding and marketing, Disney and Coca-Cola, have their share of million-dollar flops. What I recommend is to keep your name out there in a variety of streams: social media, newsletters, conventions, interviews, podcasts.

Good book covers are essential. Whatever you do, don’t have one that looks Photoshopped by someone who didn’t know what they were doing.

Websites are necessary though really fancy ones (read expensive) are not worth the money unless you have a lot of traffic and sales. You want something catchy and one that you update regularly.

Everyone loves great reviews and people who leave one-star reviews tend to be acting out an agenda not related to your work. Don’t hate them for it, instead pray that they either find Jesus or a competent therapist.

Once upon a time, book trailers were the cat’s pajamas. And about as effective. Two of my book trailers got tens of thousands of views, which is extraordinary for book trailers, but I can’t say how significant they were to sales. Book trailers work best when you play them at a signing booth as when people ask, “What’s your book about?”

Keep in mind that the world doesn’t revolve around you so don’t be a dick to others. Don’t be a doormat either; and in all cases, keep yourself a class act.

How do you brand yourself and your works?

Paul Kane: I think that changes depending on what book it is. So the Paul Kane ‘brand’ – whatever that is – would be more tied into horror, post-apocalyptic fiction or whatever, so I might get invited to a horror convention to talk about that material. While the PL Kane ‘band’ is pure crime fiction, and you’re more likely to see me talking about that at a crime fiction event. But it’s all still just me, when all’s said and done. I try not to cross the streams if I can help it, and I haven’t really ‘branded’ myself as much as the publishers who’ve put my stuff out there have done it for me.

Bobby Nash: Bobby Nash is my brand. I am usually the first point of contact with readers, so I want to make sure meeting me makes you want to read one of my books. I also brand the books. My BEN Books crime thrillers share a universe, so they have similar branding. It helps. I also use branding on title and cover design in series. You know that the Snow books are part of a series, for example.

Robbie Cheadle: My children’s books are primarily a series about a little man called Sir Chocolate who lives in a world where you can eat everything. Each book contains a rhyming verse story for small children and 5 recipes for children to make under adult supervision. It is in essence a first baking book series and I market it that way.

My adult books are all historical and paranormal in nature and I am at this market. I use hashtags for my books on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I write under my own name, using different variations to clearly separate my children’s and my adults’ books.

Nancy Oswald: I haven’t paid much attention to branding, but I think a brand is evolving based solely on my writing interests. With that said, the next book I want to write doesn’t fit the historical category, but I don’t want “branding” to stop me from doing it. I guess I’d prefer to write what my interests are than to worry about a brand.

What’s the most effective method of finding followers?

Paul Kane: I have no idea! I just keep doing the writing, promoting it on my social media accounts and seeing what happens. I think using humour on those is a good way to spread the word about yourself, and posting about other people’s work or what you might be reading, watching and so on, breaks up the sameness of just talking about yourself and what you’ve got out or coming out. I think genuineness comes across massively to people and maybe that gets you followers? I’ve only ever been myself online or at events, and I think people can see that. They can spot it a mile away if you’re fake.

Bobby Nash: Beats me. It seems to change from week to week. I try as many methods as possible to attract new readers.

Robbie Cheadle: A lot of my readers have come through my blog. I have two blogs: Robbie’s Inspiration which is for my baking, art work, and poetry, and Roberta Writes which is for my reviews of classic, horror, drama, science fiction, and other adult books. I also do a weekly prompt called Thursday Doors when I share pictures of my travels around South African and other places. I am an active blogger and have a lot of blogging friends who I have discussions with. Many of them have become friends who I email and correspond with.

Other social media I use are Facebook which is great for reading and writing groups, Twitter, and Instagram. I have a YouTube channel which I post to from time to time. I think being an active part of the writing and reading community is the best way of getting followers. Writers are also often reviewers while other readers usually don’t think to write reviews.

I understand that newsletters are a good way of staying in contact with your readership outside of social media. I have not as yet had the time to pursue developing a newsletter following or committing to a monthly or bi-monthly newsletter.

Have giveaways or social media book events been effective in bringing in followers?

Paul Kane: Publishers tend to handle all that side of things for me, so I can’t really say. You do see a spike in numbers when you do a giveaway I guess, or do a blog tour, so I guess they work. But if people don’t like your stuff, they won’t keep coming back no matter what you do. Keeping readers or followers is just as important as attracting them in the first place.

Bobby Nash: Short term, yes. Long term, not really. Some sign up for the giveaway then leave when it’s over. I do have a small fanbase and I try to grow it.

Robbie Cheadle: I do giveaways when I do book tours for the launch of new books. Living in South Africa, which is not a country of big readers due to the excellent weather, I market mainly to Australia, the UK, and the US and rely on social media to get the word out.

Giveaways certainly help bring in some reviews although not every free book has the desired outcome, enough winners do read and review the book to make giveaways a useful undertaking.

Social media events are generally not that well attended, in my limited experience, so I don’t think I pick up many followers that way. I am an opportunist though and will usually grab an opportunity for promotion even if a return is not guaranteed. I enjoy sharing about my books and the anthologies I’ve participated in.

Can you share your logo and the story of why you chose this to represent your brand?

Paul Kane: I don’t really have a logo as such. My main site is called Shadow Writer, after a story I wrote back in the late 1990s, and I chose that because it fits the kind of dark fiction I do as Paul Kane.

Bobby Nash: BEN Books is the name of my indie press. The name is simple. BEN is my initials. Bobby Edward Nash. I designed a simple design with a book and scratched metal half-moon coming out behind it to signify book pages flipping. I liked it. Years later, my friend, Jeffrey Hayes redesigned it for me and made the BEN Books logo look much more professional. I also use branding by putting genre under the logo. A BEN Books Thriller. BEN Books Pulp. That sort of thing. Now that crime thrillers is BEN Books’ main focus, I added a criminal’s mask to the logo. I like it.

Do you have a blog or website where you drive traffic? How effective do you feel it is?

Paul Kane: My SW site’s been going years and we’ve built up a good following on there. We get many unique visitors a month. One thing I did to help with that was to have a ‘Guest Writer’ slot; it was something I ‘borrowed’ from Simon Clark’s site. As with the social media posts, this stops things being just about me all the time, helps promote other people’s work that I like and also crosses over our readerships. People who are fans of their work might have a look around my site, while people who are fans of mine are reading whichever Guest Writer’s work is on there this month. It usually takes the form of a short story or extract from a novel. We’ve had some huge writers on there over the last couple of decades, including Stephen King, Charlaine Harris, Lee Child and Martina Cole.

Bobby Nash: I have a website for all things Bobby. It’s www.bobbynash.com and it has all of my books, art, acting, news, blogs, etc. It’s the hub for all things me.

www.ben-books.com is the home of BEN Books.

Abraham Snow has his own site. www.abrahamsnow.com has everything you need to know about the Snow series.

Lance Star: Sky Ranger also has a dedicated site. http://lancestar.blogspot.com

I like having dedicated websites. Websites are an easy to find way to keep up with things. Posts can easily get lost in the sea that is social media.

Do you have a blog or website where you drive traffic? How effective do you feel it is?

Robbie Cheadle: My blogs are my most effective marking tools, and my blogging friends often promote my work and posts by sharing them on other social media platforms and even on their own blogs. I also write posts for other bloggers sites, including 3 monthly columns for Writing to be Read. I always take opportunities to guest post and try to write engaging posts. I have enlarged by readership of both my books and my blog this way.

Can readers buy directly from you on your website, or must they go through third party venders such as Amazon, B&N, etc…?

Paul Kane: Through a third party. I don’t sell books through my site; as I say I’m not really a bookseller myself. The only thing I do sell on there is remarques, which are unique drawings I do inside the books sometimes for readers. I did a lot of those when Servants of Hell came out, drawing black & white pics inside the books of Sherlock Holmes and my Cenobite creations.

Bobby Nash: In addition to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc., I have an on-line store where readers can buy autographed books, art commissions, book box sets, etc. It’s located at https://bobbynash.square.site. Please check it out.

Robbie Cheadle: Readers can buy the majority of my books from TSL Publications in the UK. Anne sends my books to readers in Australia, Europe, and the USA. My books are also available as ebooks from Lulu.com and as print books from Amazon and Lulu.com. Only select books of mine are available as ebooks from Amazon. My poetry books are available from Amazon and other outlets as well as the ten anthologies I have participated in.

Nancy Oswald: Website, Amazon

How do you get reviews for your books?

Paul Kane: Usually the book is sent out via the publisher, or it appears on NetGalley, although I have been known to contact bloggers directly if it’s to set up a blog tour. Most people are quite friendly and open to being approached, though you do get the odd one or two who don’t care for it.

Bobby Nash: Not easily. I sometimes beg on social media, but that rarely works. Most of the time, you just hope for the best.

Robbie Cheadle: I have been fortunate and some of the purchasers of my books have written and posted reviews to Goodreads and Amazon. Some readers can’t post to Amazon because of their reviewing policies, but I am happy to receive reviews on Goodreads and also on TSL Publications’ website.

What are your thoughts on paid reviews? Have you ever used them?

Paul Kane: No, never. And never will. I think if you’re paying to have your book reviewed it kind of defeats the object of it being an objective review of your work. You’re paying for a service, rather than offering the book to reviewers for their honest opinion – good or bad – of it.

Bobby Nash: I do not like paid reviews. I do not use them. How can I trust them?

Robbie Cheadle: I have never paid anyone to review one of my books. I do include a paragraph at the end of my books asking readers to leave a review and share their opinion. I have had readers approach me on Twitter and Goodreads offering to review my books for a fee, but I haven’t accepted any such proposals as it is disingenuous.

Nancy Oswald: Yes, a couple of times. I don’t think they drive more sales, but there are times when a good quote or two is needed for publicity materials and they come in handy.

Different book formats appeal to different audiences. How do you market differently for the different formats your books are available in?

Paul Kane: I’m not quite sure what you mean here, do you mean do I market audios differently to print or whatever? I suppose you have to look at what prices are being charged for the product and that affects how your promote it, for example ebooks are quite cheap so you’re reaching a different kind of reader to the ones who buy a limited hardback because they want something special as a keepsake or to increase in value. Again, that’s more in the realms of bookselling than what I do. 

Bobby Nash: When looking for places to market, I research. As a small press publisher, I try to make my BEN Books titles as easy to find in as many different formats as possible so readers can get the books in the way that works best for them.

Do you prefer online advertising or face-to-face events for marketing your books? Why?

Paul Kane: I think there’s a place for both, and if the pandemic has shown us anything it’s that we can also do events via Zoom and reach audiences that way. So sometimes it’s the only way you can reach people, because face-to-face is out. For me, personally, though I prefer getting out there and meeting readers who’ve enjoyed your fiction and signing copies of books for them. There’s no feeling like that in the world.

Bobby Nash: Both work, but I have found that I have better success with face-to-face events in terms of introducing my work to new readers.

Robbie Cheadle: I enjoy face-to-face events, but I haven’t found them to be particularly useful for books sales locally in South Africa. South Africans are not big readers as they prefer sports and outdoors activities, and our weather is good all year round which facilitates an outdoors lifestyle. In addition, there are 11 official languages in South Africa and the English-speaking community is a minority.

As a result, I mainly market my books through on-line advertising and marketing events and initiatives. I believe the face-to-face marketing is better if the environment is conducive to readers and I would do more in that line if I lived in the UK or USA.

Nancy Oswald: Face to face by far. It’s where I seem to sell more books, but it might be because I haven’t taken advantage of online marketing opportunists. I’m trying a few, now, but the jury’s out.

Do you use paid advertising or stick to the free channels? How effective have they been?

Paul Kane: I always stick to free. If it’s a paid advert, then it’s been paid for by my publishers – for instance I know there was a fair amount of promotion online on Facebook or Instagram for the PL Kane books, but that was down to HQ/Harper rather than myself.

Bobby Nash: I have a low budget, so I used paid advertising sporadically, but targeted. I try to take advantage of free promotion channels as often as possible.

Robbie Cheadle: I have run paid advertisements on Facebook, but I’ve not had a lot of success with them. I haven’t tried any other paid avenues for book sales.

Which book advertising platforms have you used: Bookbub, Fussy Librarian, Booktopia, Facebook, Amazon, etc…? Which have you found to be most effective?

Paul Kane: I’m on Bookbub, mainly because one of my publishers told me I needed to be on it to promote a specific book. And I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on. I think they all have their place and if I push a book through one, I tend to do it via all of them, so there’s no real way for me to see which one is working for the best. I just promote through them all.

Bobby Nash: I’ve used Facebook, Amazon, BookBub, and a couple of others. Effectiveness varies.

Do you have a newsletter? How effective do you feel it is?

Paul Kane: I do have a PL Kane newsletter, which has helped me reach more readers. It’s a place where I can share more of my news on a personal level, plus offer recommendations for things I’ve enjoyed reading or watching. To entice people in, I also write new fiction that’s exclusive to the newsletter so I feel like it works both ways. Readers are getting something out of it as well as me.

Bobby Nash: I do have a monthly newsletter. You can subscribe to Nash News at http://www.subscribepage.com/NashNews. I have about 230 subscribers. I don’t get a lot of feedback so I can’t say for certain how effective it is or how many sales result from the newsletter.

Do you use book trailers to market your books? How effective have they been for you?

Paul Kane: I haven’t personally used them, but some of my publishers have and obviously I’ve shared the trailers as and when. There was a great one for The Rainbow Man, which was my first YA novel, and I got a friend of mine Brad Watson to come up with one for Arrowhead when that came out. But generally speaking, I have no idea how much of an impact they have on sales or anything.

Robbie Cheadle: I have tried book trailers to market my books, but I don’t believe they have been at all effective. I don’t think many people bother to watch the video, even if it is short. I can tell from the average viewing time of the video that few people have watched until the end.

Have you ever tried using press releases for your books? How effective has that been for you?

Bobby Nash: I write press releases for all of my books, even if I am not the publisher. I want to get the information about the book out to the word, as well as how to contact me in case of interviews, quotes, etc.

Nancy Oswald: I typically get a press release out to all the local papers. Hard to relate to sales, but they’re free and add to reader recognition.

Do you have a street team or reader group that you use to get reviews? How well does that work?

Bobby Nash: I don’t have an official street team. I have some fans and friends that share my news and I appreciate each and every repost, retweet, and shout out.

Robbie Cheadle: I have a few blogging friends who always offer to read and review my books and they always post reviews. It is kind of them, and I am grateful for the support. I never ask people to read and review my books as it goes against my upbringing to ask people to things like that for me. I had a very strict and conservative upbringing, and some things are very difficult for me as a result. I read and review over 100 books a year and I beta read books for certain individuals too. I always try to help other writers when I can.

Nancy Oswald: For many of my books, I’ve asked other authors with a track record to read and write cover blurb material. I’ve also swapped Amazon reviews with other authors. 

How do you handle marketing for multiple genres, since each one appeals to different audiences? Can a single brand encompass multiple genres or should they be marketed separately, with a different brand or pen name for each one?

Bobby Nash: I tailor my marketing based on the book’s genre. I don’t promote my crime thriller at the same sites where I promote my sci-fi epic. As an author, I only have the one brand. I don’t use pen names.

Robbie Cheadle: As mentioned previously, I market my children’s books and poetry separately from my horror, paranormal and historical adult fiction. I have two blogs, two Twitter accounts, to Facebook pages and I try to keep them as separate as possible. I have different followers on the two profiles and only a few follow me on both. That is what I was aiming for when I created the second profile. I wanted people who were interested in my children’s writing, art, and poetry to enjoy that aspect of my creativity without having to filter out my adult orientated interests and vice versa. I do believe it has worked quite well.

Do you use a pen name? Why or why not?

Paul Kane: I have a few, as you can probably guess from some of the other answers. I think it helps to differentiate between the kinds of fiction I write. So if you pick up a Paul Kane you’re likely to get horror, dark fantasy or the like, while PL Kane books are straight crime. Detectives or domestic noir. There can be some scope for crossover here, because I have fans of all my different kinds of books, and sometimes there are elements from my other work that slip over – The Family Lie is a crime book, but also deals with cults and has elements of folk horror too – but for the most part I try to keep things separate. It just makes it clearer for myself and my readership.

Robbie Cheadle: I do not use a pen name. I was going to because of my professional life, but my husband didn’t like the idea of my not using my married name. I publish my children’s books and poetry under Robbie Cheadle and my adult books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. The names are linked, but sufficiently different for people to be able to differentiate between them and the different genres of my books.

Nancy Oswald: I used a pen name for my very first published book, but when people started asking me how they would remember and find my book under a different name I gave it up. This book went into a reprint, so I switched mid-stream. It was published by Scholastic Canada, so in this case it made very little difference in sales.

Are your books available in brick-and-mortar stores and libraries? What are the challenges with having your books in these outlets?

Paul Kane: Yes, certainly. At the moment, the challenges seem to be down to distribution, all the knock-on effects of Brexit and such, but I’m hoping that calms down in the future. I know some stores and libraries have had shortages lately because of all this. Luckily, I think most of my publishers are doing okay on that score. There always seem to be plenty of copies available to ship out to stores at any rate, which I’m very grateful for.

Bobby Nash: My books are available to them, though they are rarely shelved there due to the print on demand nature of my small press. You can order them in any brick-and-mortar store, but it’s doubtful they will be on the store shelves. Some libraries have stocked my books though.

Nancy Oswald: Libraries, I usually donate copies.  Brick and mortar is a lot of leg work and there’s a difference in percentages and how you get paid—a lot of record keeping. But I do get sales through these outlets, so it’s worth it, and they collect tax which saves another headache or two. I like craft fairs for face-to-face sales, but I’m choosy about where I go.

Covers are important. They can be one of your best marketing tools. How do you come by your covers: DIY, hire professional cover designer, buy pre-fab covers?

Paul Kane: That’s all handled in-house by the publisher. An indie might ask me if I have a preferred artist, or I might say to them I like a particular image that fits the contents of the book – like Les Edwards’ painting for my Body Horror collection Traumas from Black Shuck Books – but more often than not I might not get a vote at all, especially if it’s a bigger publisher. I have to say I’ve been very lucky with them, though. There’s never been one I’ve absolutely hated in my entire career, and I hope there never will be. There have been some that have grown on me over time, but all in all I’ve been very happy.

Bobby Nash: I prefer to work with professionals because they know what they are doing and do it far better than I can. I do some design work, but not all covers are created equal. Evil Ways, Suicide Bomb, and the upcoming Evil Intent had a simple, design element. I handled those myself. Deadly Games! has a photo cover. I took the photo and designed the cover. The Snow and Sheriff Myers series have covers by Jeffrey Hayes and Dennis Calero. I’ve not used any pre-fab covers. I prefer to have the cover designed to fit the story.

Robbie Cheadle: I design the covers for my children’s books myself because I use my own fondant and cake artwork. I tried using a professional photographer, but that didn’t work that well for me, so I invested in a better camera and I take my own pictures.

I use a professional designer for my adult books. Tim Barber of Dissect Designs designed the covers of While the Bombs Fell, Through the Nethergate and A Ghost and His Gold. Teagan Riordain Geneviene has designed some of my newer covers. I worked well with both designers and am always very happy with my covers.

Nancy Oswald: I’ve been spoiled by my publisher who used an artist for most of my books. I hired the same artist for my latest book that I self-published to stay consistent with the covers in the rest of the series. I know it cost me more money to do this, but felt it was worth it.

Which marketing strategies do you use: rapid release, perma-free, reader magnets,.99 cent promos, etc…? Which have you found to be most effective?

Bobby Nash: Yes. I try everything. Some things work. Some don’t. I don’t know until I try. Plus, I’ve discovered that an effective method for one book might not prove effective for another. It’s an on-going, evolving experiment.

Nancy Oswald: I used to do postcards, but they were expensive, and to mail them was expensive. A few years ago, I switched to bookmarks only—two sided with general info about me on one side (contact info, bio, etch) and images of all my books on the back side. My newest bookmark only has the Ruby and Maude Adventure images with a list of my other books.  (Space consideration.)

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That was a great final Q & A session, with so much information. Of course, book marketing is a topic that could fill an entire book and then some. But that wraps up this week’s segment – and it wraps up this Saturday series.

Thanks to all of the contributing authors for their willingness to share their writing wisdom with us in both blog and book. They are who made this wonderful reference possible. I couldn’t have done it without them.

Thanks to all our readers for joining us. I do hope you readers gleaned some useful advice in this series, and if you missed any of the segments, you can find them all here:

Segment 1: Introductions for Kaye Lynne Booth & Kevin Killiany/Writing Life Q & A session.

Segment 2: Introduction for Bobby Nash/Pre-writing Rituals Q & A session.

Segment 3: Introduction for Roberta Eaton Cheadle/Plot & Storyline Q & A session.

Segment 4: Introduction for Paul Kane/Character Development Q & A session.

Segment 5: Introduction for Mario Acevedo/Action, Pacing and Dialog Q & A session.

Segment 6: Introduction for Nancy Oswald/Tone: Voice, Person, Tense & POV Q & A session.

Segment 7: Introduction for Chris Barili/ Setting & World Building Q & A session.

Segment 8: Introduction for Jeff Bowles/Editing & Revision Q & A session.

Segment 9: Introduction for Mark Leslie Lefebvre/Publishing Q & A session.

Segment 10: Oh, wait… This is Segment 10.

Well then, I guess that’s about it for this segment… And for the series. Again I thank you for sticking with us through all ten weeks.

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Where can you find publishing industry experts willing to share their secrets? 

Ask the Authors 2022 is the ultimate writer’s reference, with tips and advice on craft, publishing and book marketing. Eleven experienced and successful authors share what works for them and offer their keys to success in traditional publishing, hybrid, and indie. You’ll learn industry wisdom from Mark Leslie Lefebvre, Kevin Killiany, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Bobby Nash, Paul Kane, Nancy Oswald, Chris Barili, Jeff Bowles, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, Mario Acevedo and Kaye Lynne Booth.

This book offers tried-and-true ways to improve your craft and explores the many options in the current publishing and book marketing worlds. Take a peek inside and find out what works for you.

Ask the Authors 2023

“Ask the Authors is an up-to-date and broad-based compendium of advice from today’s working writers, to help you with understanding your own writing career. Great information!”

—Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of Spine of the Dragon

The special promotional price of 3.99 is good through today, since this is the last blog segment in the series. Tomorrow, it goes back up to the regular price of 4.99. If you’ve been following, you may have already gotten a copy of Ask the Authors 2022. If not, be sure and grab your copy today.

Available from your favorite book distributor through the Books2Read UBL: https://books2read.com/u/3LnK8e

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Join Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Readers’ Group for WordCrafter Press book & event news, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, as a sampling of her works just for joining.


WordCrafter “Will Write For Wine” & “Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard” Book Blog Tour Day 4

Will Write for Wine & Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard Book Blog Tour

Stories I Stole from Lord Byron’s Bastard is a collection inspired by Venetian history. The fictional character, Alexis Lynn, wrote these stories in the novel Will Write for Wine by Sara W. McBride, but they are fun stand-alone adventures to be enjoyed with an excellent glass of Italian wine.

https://www.puckpublishing.com

Today’s tour stop comes with a fun interview with author Sara W. McBride in addition to her guest post. So kick back a while and enjoy the tidbits offered here as you learn more about Sara and her wonderful books.

Introduction

Sara W. McBride, like many modern-day biological researchers, invents new swear words to sling at million-dollar machines while locked in a dark hole of a decaying academic hall. This has caused her to witness ghosts and create a romantic fantasy life within her head, which she now puts down on very non-technological paper with her favorite Jane Austen style quill pen. 

Her first novel in the Alexis Lynn series, Will Write for Wine, and the companion short story collection, Stories I Stole from Lord Byron’s Bastard, both set in Venice, Italy, were recently released by Puck Publishing. She’s hard at work on the second Alexis Lynn novel, a Regency mystery series, and a haunted play. She strongly feels the world needs more haunted plays.   

https://www.puckpublishing.com

Give-Away!

Don’t forget the awesome giveaway Sara is running on this tour, with a digital copy of each book up for grabs. You can enter the give-away for a chance to win at the link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d9280cae1/?

Image of Lazzaretto Vecchio
Credit: Wikipedia, Lazzaretto Vecchio Island, Plague Hospital

Interview with author Sara W. McBride

Why do you write?

Sara: To be immortal! Just kidding. It’s my fabulous mental escape into worlds and lives that I wish I could live.

Please tell us a bit about your publishing journey?

Sara: In 2014, I organized, edited, and published the first two NaNoWriMo Los Angeles anthologies. Then I helped with the next three. The group is still producing an annual anthology. It was a great way to learn the logistics of self-publishing and how to shape short stories. This year, my husband and I launched Puck Publishing, and we’re hoping to publish something every month. 

Over the past twenty years, I’ve written fourteen bad novels that I’m glad I never published. LOL!

What made you decide to self-publish?

Sara: In the late 1990s, I was an assistant to a Hollywood book agent and I learned the ins and outs of traditional publishing and movie book deals. The agents and publishers were so parasitic on the author, it gave me the willies. In those days, traditional publishing paid high advances, but the treatment of the authors still put a bad taste in my mouth.

Today, they rarely pay above a $10,000 advance to a new author, they expect the author to do all the marketing, and then the publisher keeps the copyright and sells it off whenever they like, to whomever they like, and the book goes out of print. 

I’ve seen too many friends get screwed by traditional publishing.

Will Write for Wine takes place in the artistic and romantic setting of Venice. Have you explored the physical locations for your books in the flesh, in order to get the details right when writing about these locations? Have you been there? Have you lived there? Why did you choose this setting?

Sara: I’ve had five research trips to Venice, totaling about five weeks. I’ve been in almost every church and museum of Venice, and a few places I probably wasn’t supposed to enter. I apparently don’t understand the meaning of yellow caution tape or closed doors.

Most of the Venice locations in the book are real places, but Manu’s osteria is fictional. However, I stole menu items from many of my favorite osterias in Venice.

I think Venice is one of the most magical and haunted cities in the world. Many people describe it as a floating museum; the entire city is trapped in the Renaissance. But if you simply sit still, sip a glass of wine in a campo or piazza, listen to the opera singers, and watch the people and pigeons, there’s a vibe that sinks into you. Every part of the city is simultaneously dead and alive. It is that barrier, that thin line between life and death that pervades every stone, stench, and serenade of Venice. Delicious!  

Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard involves Venetian history. What is the fasciation of this area for you?

Sara: I’m a history nerd! Venice is one of those cities that drips with history, but not just through architecture and museums, through the people, the food, the many generations that still live in the same house, the ghosts that are accepted as common place, and the street signs. Ponte del Diavolo, the Devil’s Bridge is bound to inspire a story in anyone. Gheto Novo, or the New Ghetto, caused me to question the history of the Jewish community within Venice.

It’s difficult for me to walk from one piazza to another in Venice without my mind percolating a story based purely on the sights, sounds, and smells. And I love the smells of Venice. Both the good and the bad. Only Venice can induce an entire story purely through its smells. I’ve learned to navigate the labyrinth of Venice by sniffing the air. How is that not a story!

Is there anything unique or unusual about your writing process?

Sara: I don’t know the end until I get there. I just write into a dark void and somehow it all works out. It keeps the process magical and fun. I used to outline, but I always got bored with the book before I finished it. Outlining turned writing into work. Ick! Writing needs to be fun for both the writer and the reader. 

Is your writing process plot driven or character driven?

Sara: Character driven! Definitely.

Do you write with music, or do you prefer quiet?

Sara: Quiet! Or the hubbub of a coffee house crowd, hotel lobby, airplane terminal.

Atmosphere is important. What do you do to get into the writing zone?

Sara: There’s a zone? How do I find that? I want a writing zone. I just go about my day and jot down paragraphs, dialogue, and then type them in when I’m next at my computer.

How much of the story do you know before the actual writing begins?

Sara: NONE! Okay, maybe the opening scene. But usually not even that. Just a character in a place, who is feeling something.

Wine plays a big role in your character, Alexis Lynn’s life. What is the attraction?

Sara: I love wine! I also love beer, whisky (Scottish spelling), Compari cocktails, and most dishes cooked with truffles. However, to preserve my liver, I typically only drink once-a-week, so it’s a big event for me. I cherish my weekly glass of wine and how it complements my meal. Alexis drinks way more than I do. Fictional wine can’t damage a fictional liver.

Are you a wine connoisseur? What is your favorite wine?

Sara: I love wine! I once dreamed of becoming a wine sommelier. Isn’t my favorite wine obvious? Soave! Like Alexis Lynn, I also discovered Soave on my first trip to Venice. It’s been a favorite ever since, but difficult to find in America. Hence, more motivation to travel!

What’s something most readers would never guess about you?

Sara: My husband and I got engaged four days after we met. Unlike Alexis Lynn and her marital troubles, my husband and I have had a relatively easy, adventurous, crazy, happy and supportive marriage. This summer, we’re celebrating out twenty-five year anniversary. But I don’t know how we’re celebrating. Any suggestions?

You’ve got a scientific background, like your character. How much of Alexis Lynn is you?

Sara: Um … She’s totally me! Are authors allowed to confess that?

What time of day do you prefer to do your writing? Why?

Sara: Morning, if given a choice. But it happens all day.

What’s the hardest part of the story for you to write: beginning, middle or end?

Sara: I write chapters as if they are short stories, and then I arrange them into a book when I think I’ve developed something that has a beginning, middle or end. Is that weird? I don’t write chronologically. And I have chapters/stories that didn’t make it into this book that will be in the next one.

Alexis Lynn has a conversation and wine tasting with Casanova. Would you like to talk a bit about the inspiration for that scene?

Sara: I was enjoying my weekly glass of wine while reading the memoirs of Casanova and thought, “Man, this guy would give horrible marriage advice!” Then I grabbed my computer.

Besides Casanova, which author, poet or artist, dead or alive, would you love to have lunch with?

Sara: Lord Byron, or course! He’s bloomin’ brilliant, but people only remember him as a seducer. Sure, he seduced a few women, usually married ones, and has some famous bastards; the famous mathematician, Lady Lovelace, is one of his illegitimate children. But he also wrote the first English-Armenian dictionary, and was a very, charming, intelligent debater. His letters are filled with wisdom and humor. In an incredibly elegant manner, almost complimentary, he was able to inform someone of their idiocy. I would love to have lunch with Lord Byron, even if he spent an hour politely insulting me.

Besides writing, what are your favorite things to do?

Sara: Travel! I also love hiking, playing board games, reading every genre, watching cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies in the middle of summer, and learning Italian so I can one day move to Venice.

What is the biggest challenge of being a writer?

Sara: Pulling together a bunch of short stories into a cohesive novel and then figuring out what scenes are missing.

It was funny with Will Write for Wine, my husband included a little gondola and gondolier on the cover, and I suddenly realized that I didn’t have any gondola scenes in the book. Both the gondola scenes were the last scenes I wrote.

If writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do?

Sara: Move to Venice and write more!

What’s the most fun part of writing a novel or short story/screenplay? What’s the least fun part?

Sara: Most fun? Dialogue! I’m originally a playwright, so I love dialogue. 

Least fun? Killing a character I like. Killing a nasty character is delightful, but killing a kind character, or a character I’ve spent years with, is heart-wrenching.

How much non-writing work, (research, marketing & promotion, illustrations & book covers, etc…), do you do yourself for your books?

Sara: I do everything myself, but my husband does the cover art and most of the website maintenance. We have fun working together.

If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play Alexis Lynn?

Sara: Oh! Juicy question. Reese Witherspoon. Yep, definitely Reese Witherspoon. Mid-40s, cute, and like Alexis, she exudes positivity even when her world is falling apart.

What goals do you set for yourself in your writing?

Sara: Don’t plan ahead. If I don’t know what’s going to happen, neither does the reader. This is really funny because I’m writing a murder-mystery right now and halfway through the book, my murderer, who I didn’t know was the murderer, just totally confessed to the murder. So, um, geez, I guess that book is going to be a different style of murder mystery. LOL! So, I guess my goal in writing is to always be surprised.

Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Stories-Stole-Lord-Byrons-Bastard-ebook/dp/B0B27TS5GL

As you can see, Sara is an author who loves what she does ad is pretty comfortable in her own skin. Now, let’s hear about her inspiration for the fourth story in Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard, “Lazzaretto Vecchio: A Dowry for Saffron”.

Guest Post by Author Sara W. McBride

Inspiration for “A Dowry for Saffron”

What inspired the story, “Lazzaretto Veccchio: A Dowry for Saffron?”

“Sia laudato il signor Iddio non ci sono stati morti.”

Bless the Lord, there have been no deaths [today].

December 24, 1630, in Sant’Eufemia, Venice.

* * *

This quote is from the opening of a Nature paper, “A digital reconstruction of the 1630-1631 large plague outbreak in Venice,” by Gianrocco Lazzari, et al. Published Oct. 20, 2020.

* * *

I’ve always been fascinated by the European plagues, but when I read the above Nature paper, the effects of the 1630-31 plague on Venice consumed my mornings for several weeks. This especially seemed relevant while living through a new global pandemic, thankfully with much lower mortality rates.

In 1348-49, bubonic plague killed one-third of the European population, up to 25 million people, and Venice, as a crossroads for international trade, lost half its residents. Imagine living in a bustling city of 100,000 people, and half of them die within 18 months. It would be horrifying and haunting.

In response to the devastating plague of 1348-49, Lazzaretto Vecchio was established in 1423 as the first quarantine island in the Mediterranean region, and was used to separate the healthy from the sick during Venetian plagues. Lazzaretto Nuovo was established shortly afterward as a place where ships suspected to carry sickness among their passengers or crew were anchored for 40 days. English acquired the word “quarantine” from the Italian term for 40 days, quaranta giorni. The lagoon island of Poveglia also became a quarantine outpost sometime in the 15th century. It’s rumored that half the soil of Poveglia is human ash from burned plague corpses. Then it became a mental hospital from 1922-1968. No wonder the place is one of the most haunted locations in Europe.

Considering the 15th century world had no idea how disease was spread, the idea of quarantining the sick or foreigners arriving from plague stricken areas was very innovative.

The story, “Lazzeretto Vecchio: A Dowry for Saffron,” takes place during Venice’s plague of 1630-31, which killed a third of the city’s population. Both plague islands were used to isolate and treat the sick, however, caregivers were needed to work at the island hospitals, mostly because, I assume, workers kept dying of plague. 

The Italian city of Ferrara had a long history of successfully avoiding plagues that ravaged other parts of Italy. They closed their city gates and screened all arrivals for any signs of disease. They insisted that Fedi, proofs, identification papers from a plague-free zone must be presented. Ferrara, starting as early as medieval times, engaged in public sanitation campaigns, sweeping away garbage and liberally spreading lime powder on any surface that had come into contact with an infected person.

When an Italian physician, Girolamo Fracastoro, published a text in 1546 describing the “seeds of disease” as something that could stick to clothes and objects, Ferrara increased their sanitation practices during plagues and burned the clothes of any infected people. Removing garbage, spreading lime powder and burning infected clothing probably reduced the flea pestilence that actually carried Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague.

Many natural remedies were prescribed for protection against the plague, but a medicinal oil designed by a Spanish physician, Pedro Castagno, was written into Ferrara’s, “Reggimento contra la peste,” regimen against the plague. The oil, called Composito, was recommended to be applied to the body.

“Before getting up in the morning, after lighting a fire of scented woods (juniper, laurel and vine shoots), warm the clothes and above all the shirt, rub first the heart region, near the fire to ease balm absorption, then the throat. [Afterwards], wash hands and face with acqua chiara (clean water) mixed with wine or vinegar of roses, with which sometimes all the body should be cleaned, using a sponge.”

Ferrara city’s regimen against the plague

The contents of Composito was never fully disclosed, but researchers examined the records of materials ordered by Castagno and determined that the oil contained venom from scorpions and vipers, and myrrh and Crocus sativus, which is a saffron flower from which the filaments produce the golden spice saffron. Both myrrh and saffron are known to have antibacterial properties, as does scorpion venom with the bonus that it’s also a pain reliever. So basically, Composito was an early antibiotic and pain reliever combo. Pretty nifty!

According to census records, Venice’s population was around 140,000 in 1624. By 1633, that number had fallen to 102,000. More than 43,000 deaths were recorded over just three years, with nearly half of them taking place between September and December 1630. The city of Venice began several public works projects, like the grand Baroque church, Santa Maria della Salute, greeting guests at the entrance to the Grand Canal. The church’s construction began in November 1630 with the goal of keeping citizens employed and maintaining art and labor skills.

The city of Venice also purchased food for the quarantined, both in the city and on the plague islands. It is logical to speculate that in the early months of 1631, Venice might have asked Ferrara, a city with success at conquering the plague, if their convents could be paid in order to encourage volunteers to work at the plague islands. My story is fictitious, but the stage was set for the events I describe in the story. I also talked about pirates in the story. Yes, there were pirates at this time: mercenary pirates and government deployed pirates (particularly from England).

My story focuses on a group of nuns who have been “volunteered” by their convents, and how they sacrifice one nun into a marriage in order to secure their much needed ingredient of saffron for Composito, their only hope for survival on the plague islands. The politics and finances of Venice in 1631 created a world where this story could have happened. There’s a lot of history not recorded in text books, and this is a story that no one would want recorded. 

Something fun for readers:

In my research of the plague islands, I was surprised by the lack of ghost ship stories haunting the Venetian lagoon. If you know of any, please write me at sara@puckpublishing.com. If you’ve ever visited the eerie lagoon island, Poveglia, the plague island, turned insane asylum, turned old-folks home, which now stands empty—less the chilling screams on foggy nights—I want to hear about it.

Will Write for Wine

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Will-Write-Wine-Alexis-Novel-ebook/dp/B09XVM6Y38

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Ask the Authors 2022 Book & Blog Series: Editing & Revision

Ask the Authors 2022

Hello and welcome back to Segment 8 of the “Ask the Authors 2022” blog series. This week brings an introduction to speculative fiction and horror author, Jeff Bowles, who shares a his thoughts on editing in the anthology, “Contrary to Popular Editing Beliefs”, & a Q & A session on editing and revision.

If you missed any of the previous segments, you can find them here:

Segment 1: Introductions to Kaye Lynne Booth & Kevin Killiany/Writing Life Q & A session.

Segment 2: Introduction to Bobby Nash/Pre-Writing Rituals Q & A session.

Segment 3: Introduction for Roberta Eaton Cheadle/Plot & Storyline Q & A session.

Segment 4: Introduction for Paul Kane/Character Development Q & A.

Segment 5: Introduction for Mario Acevedo/Action, Pacing and Dialog Q & A.

Segment 6: Introduction to Nancy Oswald/Tone: Voice, Person, Tense and POV Q & A.

Segment 7: Introduction for Chris Barili/Setting & World Building Q & A.

And now let’s move right into this week’s segment.

Meet Jeff Bowles

Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative short stories are collected in Godling and Other Paint StoriesFear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, Dark Moon Digest, Whispers of the Past, and Spirits of the West. His story, “A Peaceful Life I’ve Never Known” was the winning story in the 2019 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest.

Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff also has two novels published, God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, and Love/Madness/Demon.

On to the Q & A.

Editing and Revision

How do you feel about the editing process? Love it or loathe it?

Mario Acevedo: The editing process is what turns the rough clay into art. The second draft is when your story begins to shine.

Paul Kane: I really enjoy the editing process. I don’t find it half as much work as getting the words down in the first place. I know for a lot of people it’s the other way around, but I like having written, when I’ve got the chunk of words down and I’m going through, refining it, making it better with each edit or pass. It’s like a sculptor with a lump of stone, each time you chisel some of that away the sculpture starts to take shape. The more you work on it, the better the shape becomes. I like having that lump of stone to work with, I’m just not that mad on getting the stone and carrying it to the studio or workshop in the first place, if you see what I mean. 

Bobby Nash: Editing is part of the job. A novel gets multiple edit passes. I do a self-edit while writing it, usually going over yesterday’s work before starting on today’s writing. Then, I give it another edit after I’m finished. Once I’m satisfied, it goes to the editor then back to me for adjustments, changes, discussions. There may be two edit passes here. Finally, there’s the galley edit, which is my chance to look the story over in the form it will be printed to make sure it looks good.

Robbie Cheadle: I enjoy editing and I find it easier than the initial writing process. Re-writing and amending to create a better story is rewarding and satisfying for me. I edit as I go along and at the end of each chapter. If something changes in the story that effects what I have already written, I go back and update it. I cannot leave a change undone and just move on like some writers do. It bothers me too much.

Nancy Oswald: I look at it as an opportunity to make your book better, but there are times I’ve loved it and other times, not so much.

What roles do alpha and beta readers, critique partners, proofreaders and professional editors play in your editing and revision process?

Mario Acevedo: All are necessary and have helped improve my stories. My critique partners are my beta readers.

Paul Kane: I don’t really use alpha or beta readers. It works for some people, but not for me. I find if I get too much feedback, especially if it’s conflicting, it just confuses me more than it helps. I prefer to trust my own judgment initially, or – if she has time – my wife Marie has a read before it goes off somewhere. The editor you’re working with, especially if it’s a bigger publisher, will have things they want you to change or cut or whatever, which is absolutely fine. That’s the process for me, and part of the job. I just prefer to not let anyone see it before then. I think maybe it’s bad luck or something, as I am quite superstitious.

Bobby Nash: I have used beta readers, but not often. I do have a small group of patrons that get stories early. Some offer feedback. I work with editors, proofreaders, and others to get the books as close to perfect as I can make them.

Robbie Cheadle: I am part of an   on-line writing group which meets for 2 hours every second week. We all read excerpts from our stories and give each other advice and feedback. One of the members of this group, beta reads each chapter of my novels as I go along and gives me constructive criticism and feedback.

Once the book is complete and I’ve edited it to my satisfaction, I send it to my developmental editor who provides feedback on structure, plot holes, loose threads, unnatural dialogue, and other important elements of my writing and story.

Once I’ve updated the novel for her comments, I send it back to her for a final read and make any last changes.

I then send it to a proofreader who helps pick up spelling and punctuation errors which I correct before sending the book to my publisher who does a final read and edit.

How do you handle your editing: hire professional editors? Trade-off with other authors? Critique partners? Beta-readers? Self-edit? Have a publisher that handles those things?

Paul Kane: I self-edit until it’s time to send it off to my actual editor at whatever publisher I might be working with at the time. If she has time, Marie has a look through and does a pass, but more often than not it’s me who goes through and does the drafts. Then it might go through several more once the editor has come back to me with notes, then finally the proofing and final editing stages.

Bobby Nash: I have editors I work with on my creator-owned projects. For books I do for other publishers, they provide the editor I will work with on the book. Before it gets to them though, I have done a self-edit pass or two.

Nancy Oswald: All of the above at different times, but bottom line, I like to be involved in all phases.

What do you look for in an editor?

Paul Kane: As I say, I don’t send it to an editor I pay or anything. It goes to the editor at the publishers, and you don’t get a choice in that, seeing as their company is paying you for the story or book. Having said that, I’m very lucky to have worked with some of the best editors in the business and there’s been nothing that’s really had me tearing my hair out. So, I guess what I’m looking for with an editor is someone who’s easy to work with, and we can go back and forth on changes or edits that will hopefully make the whole thing better in the long run.

Bobby Nash: Editing is more than catching typos and grammar errors. A good editor asks questions about story, points out inconsistencies, and offers advice and solutions. It’s a partnership. The writer and editor have the same goal. We both want to put out the best book we can.

Robbie Cheadle: In a developmental editor, I looked for someone who could help me resolve issues with my story without changing my voice and writing style. I found a ‘good fit’ editor a few years ago when I was writing Through the Nethergate and used the same lady to assist me with A Ghost and His Gold. While the Bombs Fell was developmentally edited by a different person. I was very happy with her feedback, but she was not available to help me with my most recent two books.

Nancy Oswald: Editors need to “get” the book. They need to be attentive to details, but not insert themselves into the MS to the extent of it sounding different.

Have you ever received an edit where it was obvious the editor didn’t get what you were trying to do? How did you handle that?

Paul Kane: I’ve had edits where I’ve felt the need to explain certain things, or argue my case about a specific point, but that’s only really been a small part of the overall edit. I’ve never had an editor do a complete hatchet job on one of my books, and for that I’m truly grateful.

Bobby Nash: It happens. Did I not explain it well? If so, then a rewrite needs to happen. The writer and editor talk. You discuss and work it out. As I mentioned above, the editor and writer are partners. The editor is not my enemy. We both want the book to be the best it can be.

Robbie Cheadle: This has not happened to me. Both developmental editors I have worked with have helped me tremendously and so does my beta reader. I am very open to suggestions and comments to help me improve my writing and stories.

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That wraps up this week’s “Ask the Authors 2022” blog series. Be sure and drop by next Saturday, when we introduce author and industry expert Mark Leslie Lefebvre and share a Q & A session on Publishing. You won’t want to miss all the useful information in that one. See you there.

Ask the Authors 2022

But first, just take a minute to grab your copy of this writing reference anthology which no author should be without from your favorite book distributor at the special send-off price of $3.99, using the Books2Read UBL: https://books2read.com/u/3LnK8e

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Join Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Readers’ Group for WordCrafter Press book & event news, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, as a sampling of her works just for joining.


Ask the Authors 2022 Book & Blog Series: Setting & World Building

Ask the Authors 2022

Welcome back to the “Ask the Authors 2022” blog series. This is segment 7 of this Saturday series, which brings you a glimpse of the fantastic writing tips and advice featured in the Ask the Authors 2022 writing reference anthology, and today we introduce contributing author Chris Barili, who shares his thoughts and methods for character development in his own “Character Blueprint” in the anthology, and a Q & A session on setting & world building.

If you missed any of the previous segments, you can find them here:

Segment 1: Introductions for Kaye Lynne Booth & Kevin Killiany/Writing Life Q & A session

Segment 2: Introduction for Bobby Nash/Pre-writing Rituals Q & A session

Segment 3: Introduction for Roberta Eaton Cheadle/Plot & Storyline Q & A session

Segment 4: Introduction for Paul Kane/Character Development Q & A session

Segment 5: Introduction for Mario Acevedo/Action, Pacing & Dialog Q & A session

Segment 6: Introduction for Nancy Oswald & Tone: Voice, Tense, Person & POV Q & A session.

Let’s get started.

Meet Chris Barili

Chris Barili is a speculative fiction and romance author who was also my cohort in the M.F.A. in Creative Writing program at Western. He writes in a wide range of genres, including weird western (Hell’s Marshal series), and science fiction (Shadowblade) under his own name, and romance (Smothered) under the pen name B.T. Clearwater. Chris was a presenter and panel member for both the 2020 WordCrafter Stay in Place Virtual Writing Conference, and the 2021 WordCrafter New Beginnings Virtual Writing Conference.

Besides writing, Chris lifts weights, mountain bikes, practices martial arts and battles with Parkinson’s disease. Writing just may be his salvation. Chris also was a contributor to the original Ask the Authors writing reference project, back in 2018. When asked about a future where writing left him rich and famous, Chris said he would write more.

Now let’s see how our contributing authors responded in the Q & A.

Setting & World Building

What elements do you take into consideration when creating a new world?

Mario Acevedo: Time, place, setting, and the one many writers forget, mood.

Paul Kane: I’ve very rarely created entire worlds, but the ones I do write about – even in crime stories – I always view as just slightly to the left of ours. Alternate worlds that look very much like our own, but are just slightly different. I always make up locations, such as Norchester in The Gemini Factor, or Redmarket, Golden Sands and Green Acres in the PL Kane thrillers, simply because then you own those places and can do what you want with them. It’s much harder with real places like Nottingham or Sherwood, because someone might spot a mistake you made, even if you’ve done tons of research – for example we went on a private tour of Nottingham Castle just to make sure I could accurately describe things in Arrowhead. Nobody’s going to question something you do in a made-up place, that a street shouldn’t be in a certain spot or whatever. I like creating places anyway, though, because they very often feel like characters themselves. Norchester, for instance, is very much a character in The Gemini Factor. It even has two ‘faces’ as I say in the first chapter: the nice side that most people see, and a seedy underbelly that’s not very nice at all, full of drug-pushers and pimps. Or in this case, where a very unique serial killer operates. 

Chris Barili: As many as the world requires. If I am sculpting an entirely new world, as I did in Shadow Blade, I consider everything from culture to economy, clothing to foods, and so on. Kevin J Anderson covers this really well in his book on world building, and I’ve been lucky enough to learn under him a bit.

Bobby Nash: Most of my stories take place in the real world so I start with the parts that are familiar. The basis for a town is the same in medieval time, modern day, and on another planet. Start with the familiar and build from there.

Nancy Oswald: Since I write historical fiction (mostly) the world has already been created, so the trick is to get to the heart of the historical period and let some of the actual history dictate parts of the story. For instance, the two fires in Cripple Creek in 1896.

Do places that you’ve traveled to ever end up in your books?

Mario Acevedo: Yes. Los Angeles, Hilton Head Island, Florida, St. Louis, Pacoima, New Mexico, Iraq. Haven’t been to outer space yet.

Paul Kane: It’s the same thing I talked about with characters, I put bits of places I know in stories. Unless they’re actual places like Nottingham, then I’ve made them up of various places I know. Redmarket is very much a mish-mash of Northern towns I know very well, Golden Sands is an amalgamation of various run-down seaside towns I’ve visited, mixed with dollops of other fictional towns like Broadchurch from the famous TV series. When I was writing about Glaive City in my comic book stories based around the gothic superhero Mortis-Man, I was very much thinking about cities from famous comic strips I read as a kid, and still read, which might resonate with readers. To give them a certain flavour of what the tales will be about, you see. So, I guess you could say I visited those places, only I did it through the medium of comic books and graphic novels.

Bobby Nash: Oh, yes. I often take photos while on a drive and have found locations that spark story ideas.

Robbie Cheadle: I do include places I have visited in my books. It is easier to describe a place and give a ring of authenticity if you have visited the setting from your story. I have also included places I have not visited and that required a lot of research of various crucial elements like climate, vegetation, and lifestyles.

Nancy Oswald: Yes. Visited the Sand Creek Massacre site, explored Cripple Creek, and the Jewish Colony is practically in my back yard.

What type of details do you add to help create a mental picture for your readers?

Paul Kane: I think the key is not to overdo it, just a splash here, a splash there. That builds up a picture in a reader’s mind, and very often they supply the rest from places they might know. If I say that Golden Sands has a Fish ‘n’ Chip shop, like I’ve just done in the novelette Corpsing, then I don’t need much of a description because chances are the reader will have been to a seaside chippy themselves at some point in their lives. All you need are broad strokes to paint that picture. Unless you’re doing something very specific with a place, making a certain point. If you’re going to have a character get thrown off a building, you need to describe how high it is in order for a reader to know they probably wouldn’t survive the fall. Things like that.

Chris Barili: Again, whatever the story needs. For example, in Hell’s Marshal, I opened in old wet Tombstone, right near the OK Corral, so a detailed description of the saloon in which the story opened was needed, but since many readers have at least seen a recreation of the corral itself, I was able to use fewer details.

Bobby Nash: I describe people and locations pretty well, I think. I try not to overdo it though. If I say a character walks into a bedroom, I don’t have to describe every item in it. The readers know what a bedroom looks like. They will fill in the details from their own experiences.

Robbie Cheadle: My writing style is descriptive, and I try to incorporate all of the senses into my stories.

Nancy Oswald: In my genre, this is a place where historical photos are invaluable, but I don’t see why historical photos or other photos couldn’t be helpful for fantasy and other types of world-building. They would just need to be tweaked appropriately.

Would you share a brief excerpt from one of your favorite setting descriptions? What is it about this setting description that you like?

I received several examples of setting description from contributing authors which made this section too lengthy, so if you want to see them, you’ll have to buy the book.

How do you choose the right sensory details for your story?

Paul Kane: It depends on what you’re trying to say, you have to pick and choose what’s important again – or what feels right. That’s something you only really develop over time, I think. Don’t feel like you have to throw everything in there: sight, sound, smell, touch, taste or whatever. It might be that less is more again, so you have to decide what it is you’re trying to say about a place or person. I don’t tend to put smell in there much, as I don’t have a sense of smell myself – so I’d only really be guessing. Obviously, if someone was near to a chemical plant, or a sewage works, I could probably hazard a guess that the smell is bad, but having never smelt that before, my description would be loose at best. Ask yourself what it is that’s important about a scene, because that should help you decide what to put in and leave out.

Bobby Nash: It’s all by feeling. Senses are important so I use them where I feel they work best.

Robbie Cheadle: I try to use all the sense in my writing. If the circumstances lend themselves to the incorporation of descriptions relating to smell, taste, or touch I try to bring them in. Descriptions involving sight and hearing work their way into my stories easier than the other sense.

Nancy Oswald: Try to stay character driven and historically accurate.  

How do you communicate the rules of the world that you’ve created to your readers?

Paul Kane: The rules of most of my worlds tend to be the same as the one we’re living in, so it’s not that hard in most cases. If you’re writing something like a SF story, you’ll have to give the reader a sense of how that world works obviously, but it should be as the tale goes along – they’ll see through the telling of the story – rather than an info dump. So, in Arcana – which is a parallel universe – I had to show how the magic worked through the course of the story. I do have one bit near the beginning which is a flashback to a school classroom, but that was just to establish we’re not in this universe and that the history of it is different. The vast majority of what I set up in that novel comes through the telling of the story, that way it’s not too obtrusive. It’s not wise to have so many chunks of exposition or explanation too often or the reader will get bored.

Chris Barili: Through character actions words, and interaction with the world. Never by rote exposition.

Bobby Nash: I write the details, flesh things out with dialogue, stuff like that. I’m not a fan of the info dump, so I try to make that happen organically.

Robbie Cheadle: The Boers and the British soldiers in A Ghost and His Gold have their own codes of conduct, religious beliefs, and lifestyles. I bring these elements into my stories through descriptions and also through the use of thoughts and dialogue.

For real settings, do you explore the physical locations in which your stories are set?

Chris Barili: Usually just via the internet.

Bobby Nash: When I can, I do. That isn’t always possible though.

Robbie Cheadle: I explore the physical location when it has been possible for me to do so. Through the Nethergate is set in the English town of Bungay in Suffolk. I have visited Bungay twice as that is where my mother comes from. We have looked around the town and visited the churches, pubs, and the ruins of Bungay Castle.

A Ghost and His Gold is set in South Africa, and I have visited several of the places featured in the book including Irene, Pretoria, Mafeking, and Kimberley. It is easier for me to write about places I have visited, especially as I take lots of photographs.

Nancy Oswald: Yes, whenever possible.

Have you ever had a reader tell you that you missed the mark on a particular detail?

Bobby Nash: Sure. It happens. Sometimes they are right. Sometimes they aren’t. I’m happy that my story moved them enough to take time to let me know what they thought.

What techniques do you use to help readers visualize your world?

Paul Kane: I think it helps to see the world through a character’s eyes. A good device might be to take a ‘fish out of water’ character and throw them into this setting, so that you’re learning about the world as they do, as they go along. If you think about characters like Buck Rogers who gets flung into the future, or Stallone’s cop in Demolition Man, you get the picture. Hopefully then, if you’re giving the reader the right amount of information in the right way, they’re right there with the character seeing what they see.

Bobby Nash: Words and phrases. It’s my job to paint a picture with these words. The reader also helps by bringing his or her imagination into it as well.

Nancy Oswald: Always watch the verbs and passive voice.

Do you plan out your world or build as you go?

Paul Kane: It depends on the kind of world you’re building. If it’s a place that’s going to be a sprawling metropolis that you’re going to need to know inside out to tell your stories, it’s probably a good idea to know which bits are where. Is a new bit next to an old bit, are dangerous bits just a hop, skip and a jump from a nicer bit. I have a place called Graffitiland which is mentioned in my PL Kane books, and was the focus of the novelette of the same name. As you can imagine, this bit of wasteland is so-called because it’s covered in graffiti, so quite rough, but I also wanted it to be within spitting distance of some of the newer parts of the town I was writing about for plot purposes. I didn’t have any maps drawn out or anything, but just needed to jot down that this was the case – especially if I write about it again down the line. But if the whole story revolved around that sprawling city I was talking about, then you might want to start mapping bits out so you don’t contradict yourself.

Chris Barili: I start with an initial world-build, adding to it or changing things as the story progresses.

Bobby Nash: A little of both. When I created Sommersville, the county and town in several of my stories, I went in with a pretty well-established map, but I reveal important places, landmarks, etc. to the reader as needed in service of that particular story.

How do you keep track of the details of your world to avoid inconsistencies in the stories?

Mario Acevedo: Through rewrites and multiple drafts.

Paul Kane: By jotting down notes, essentially, or creating maps. Personally, I wouldn’t spend ages doing all this, because it’s enough to know roughly where things are for the purposes of my writing. But I do know other writers, especially if they’re writing Fantasy say, who spend a long time getting all these details right and recording them. It depends what kind of genre you’re working in.

Bobby Nash: I try to keep good notes.

Robbie Cheadle: I have a spreadsheet for my work-in-progress The Creeping Change as it involves a large number of characters. I write down the names and descriptions of certain supporting characters in my books, so I remember the details correctly.

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That’s it for this week’s “Ask the Authors 2022” blog series. Drop by again next Saturday for an introduction to Jeff Bowles, whose essay contribution, , offers up a view on editing & revision, along with a Q & A segment on the same topic.

Ask the Authors 2022

“Ask the Authors is an up-to-date and broad-based compendium of advice from today’s working writers, to help you with understanding your own writing career. Great information!”

—Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of Spine of the Dragon

Don’t forget, you can purchase a copy of this must have writing reference from your favorite book distributor at the special send-off price of $3.99 through the Books2Read UBL: https://books2read.com/u/3LnK8e

______________________

Join Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Readers’ Group for WordCrafter Press book & event news, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, as a sampling of her works just for joining.


Day 3 of the WordCrafter “Hope for the Tarnished” Book Blog Tour

Hope for the Tarnished Book Blog Tours

You don’t choose who you love, it just happens. Follow young Abbie Raymond as she traverses concentric rings of tragedy, hope and healing.

It’s Day 3 of the WordCrafter Hope for the Tarnished Book Blog Tour. Today, I’m pleased to bring you an interview with author Ann Chiappetta. Hope for the Tarnished is her debut novel and I get the feeling that she’s mighty proud of it, as she should be. This touching young adult novel sees a small girl grow into a young woman, in spite of the adversities life throws her way, and she is left with hope for a brighter future.

Let’s Meet Ann Chiappetta

Ann is an artist and often refers to her love of words as a natural compensation after losing her vision in 1993. Once a designer of acrylic displays and furniture, Ann trained her creative senses to flow over from the visual to the literary arts. Years later, she has become a poet and author, honing her talent in various mediums, including web content for nonprofits, regular bylines for online literary publications, poetry, anthologies and guest editing in online literary journals.

Ann possesses a master of science in Marriage and family therapy from Iona College and an undergraduate degree from the College of New Rochelle, both located in Westchester County, New York. A guide dog handler and advocate, Ann volunteers her time representing people with visual impairments and guide dog users on various National, State and local boards of directors. A consultant and guest presenter, Ann visits schools promoting awareness and equality for people with disabilities. She is the 2015 recipient of the WDOM Spirit of Independence award and the 2019 GDUI Lieberg-Metz award for excellence in writing.

Interview

Kaye: When did you know you wanted to be an author?

Ann: When I was a kid I would read a book and if it was a really good book, I would think about how they did it. My love of books grew with me and in seventh grade, after writing my first poem, the teacher said I could now call myself a poet. It was just a matter of time and education after that. I was always drawing, singing, dancing, imagining – it was a matter of creative discipline and eventually my talent emerged as I practiced.

Kaye: Is there anything unique or unusual about your writing process?

Annie: I do have one part of my creative process few authors utilize and that is text-to-speech technology on my computer because I am blind. I actually listen to the words as I type. I think it helps me craft stories and poems that also sound good when read aloud. I also tend to write down the bones, then return to the idea later after it has cooked a bit in the creative oven.  I also use my dreams to write scenes and shorter pieces of fiction and poetry.

Kaye: What time of day do you prefer to do your writing? Why?

Annie: I like to write in the morning and sometimes catch an hour’s worth of editing work in the afternoons. I rarely write at night, that’s for reading, family and TV. I do record notes when I am out and need to recall something like overhearing a conversation or a feeling about something I’ve heard or explored. I will listen to the recording and then write a piece. The recording brings me back to the moment and strengthens the piece.  

Kaye: Would you share the story of your own publishing journey?

Annie: I’ve been published for years in journals and even once in Reader’s Digest. Poetry was first, followed by nonfiction articles and a few bylines. I didn’t consider a book until 2015.  My first book, Upwelling: Poems, was published in 2016. My Mom was my biggest fan and supporter of my talent and was a poet herself but did not let us read her work. After she died of cancer in 2015, I wanted to honor her memory and belief in me by finding a way to self-publish my poems. I had almost given up, losing faith that despite being blind and unable to use desktop publishing software because of my disability, I stumbled across DLD Books after reading another blind writer’s memoir. I emailed the address and Leonore Dvorkin wrote me back and the rest is self-publishing history. I dedicated my book to my Mom, Mary, and have since dedicated each book to her. Interestingly, as we went through her belongings, we found a poetry journal and I have some of her writing.   

Kaye: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Annie: I read and listen to audio books with my husband. We like to cook and watch baseball and football together.   I listen to music, from classical to pop tracks. Our adult daughter lives nearby and helps us out all the time. I record my poems and perform them for others. I volunteer my time in blindness organizations in my county as well as Nationally. I sit on local, State and National boards of directors representing artists who are blind, guide dogs as well as writers with disabilities.  We have two dogs and three cats that keep us busy.  

Kaye: Your new book is Hope for the Tarnished, a sweet Y.A. about a young girl who overcomes some very difficult life obstacles. What’s the most fun part of writing this novel? What’s the least fun part?

Annie: The most fun part about writing Hope for the Tarnished was developing the relationship between Abbie and Augie. I wanted their attraction to grow as they matured. The hardest part of the story was finding the right set of circumstances to separate them and then keep them apart. There was also times when writing the traumatic scenes were difficult and I needed breaks because I got all weepy or verklempt.

Kaye: Your book, Hope for the Tarnished, recently came out. Would you like to tell us a little about that?

Annie: It is my first novel and I was apprehensive about sending out into the world. The novel was released in March 2022, a great month and not just because it is my birthday month, 😉 It is my first hard cover book and also the first book to also be offered through the Library of Congress catalog. My sister, Cheryll, provided the book cover photo, which is the third cover she helped design.  Marketing a book is the tough part and doesn’t always feel successful, especially in terms of sales. I tell myself it is the readers who make it better, the ones who take the time to tell me what they thought of the book, how it effected them and even the criticism is important to me, it helps me want to become a better writer. It’s hard to hear the negative feedback but in the end, good and bad helps me push ahead and want to achieve more. 

Kaye: How did you decide on this title?

Annie: My editor, Leonore Dvorkin helped me by researching variations of the title. I picked Hope for the Tarnished mostly because it encapsulated the overall arch of the book and it didn’t generate an over-used title.

Kaye: What kind of research do you find yourself doing for this story?

Annie: I researched the book title to make sure it wasn’t over-used. I brought in my knowledge of boating but did have to research the cars and other vehicles being used in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I also had to research the clothing styles. I was very happy when I was able to weave in the 1977 premiere of Star Wars, 😊 That movie was a key component of what generated my love of science fiction and fantasy.  

Kaye: What’s the hardest part of the story for you to write: beginning, middle or end?

Annie: The middle, what I refer to as the doldrums. I often get stuck even after the outline is completed. Sometimes I stay awake at night thinking, “what comes next?”.

Kaye: How much of the story do you know before the actual writing begins?

Annie: I know the main idea, sketch the outline, make brief plot notes, maybe even a brief character sketch or two is done prior to the first chapter. I used to be a writer of discovery and now I am an outliner and planner. I’ve found outlining or developing a short synopsis crafts the story better and helps me avoid over-writing scenes. I’d much rather add to something than remove it, though a novel ends up shifting in both directions as it is written and edited.

Kaye: What do you think is the single most important element in a story?

Annie: Characters. If I don’t develop an emotional response for them, I don’t feel even the best theme or plot will help me through the story — both as a reader and author of a story.

Kaye: Have you created any of your characters based on people who you know in real life?

Annie: Who hasn’t? 😊 Seriously, though, my characters are most often composites of people I’ve known or characters I’ve admired from other books or stories. I do like to develop characters with realism and imagination.

Kaye: What is something your readers would never guess about you?

Annie: I love to go fast, used to race street cars in California. I’ve ridden horses in Lake Tahoe, Nevada and love riding motorcycles.

Kaye: What time of day do you prefer to do your writing? Why?

Annie: I am a morning writer. I like to awaken and listen to the sounds around me, find the flavor of the day and let my mind determine what to work on. Sometimes it is a poem or a deeper discussion over email about a project, at other times it is prepping a script to record. Though I like the quiet of night, I am often too tired to write. I am not the kind of person to write in a coffee shop, I’d be the person in the corner of the library with the laptop instead.

I like to write early in the day when my mind is most agile. Sometimes I edit and finish tasks like a blog post or something simple but keep the creative work for the mornings.

Kaye: How much do you read? What do you like to read?

Annie: I am eclectic when it comes to answering this question. Genres include science fiction and fantasy, some horror and suspense, memoir, nonfiction, literary fiction collections and short stories and crossovers. I also listen to poetry selections but I am picky about the poets I read. I get through about fifty books a year, give or take.

Some of my favorite authors are Rudyard Kipling, Cormac McCarthy, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Brandon Sanderson, Larry Correa, Michael Connelly, John Irving, Kahlil Gibran, and I have read dozens of the books based on the Star Wars universe. I love to read poets Billy Collins, Joan Myles, Mary Oliver, Joy Harjo, Wallace Stevens, Langston Hughes, Wordsworth, William Blake, and many others.     

Kaye: Which author, dead or alive, would you love to have lunch with?

Annie: Anne McCaffrey, author of the science fiction Dragon riders of Pern series.  

Kaye: What is the one thing you hope to teach your children?

Annie: My kids are adults now. They both grew up while I progressed through my vision loss journey. I know this has helped them develop a high level of compassion for others and people with disabilities. I also know it was hard for my kids to cope with a Mom who is blind. We had tough moments and we got through it.  Whenever I hear my daughter helped a neighbor or a Mom comment on how she helped someone, my heart is happy. I say to them that the world is a kind place if you believe it and be part of the kindness.

Kaye: What’s your favorite social media site for promotion? Why?

Annie: Face Book is my social media site of choice because it is robust and fairly easy to navigate.?

Kaye: What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Annie: In order to be a good writer, you need to  be a better reader and keep reading — as much as possible and in as many genres and styles as possible — and this and practice will hopefully help you become a great writer.

$11.50/3.99 Purchasing links: Amazon/Kindle Smashwords

If you are only joining us now for the first time, and would like to learn more about Ann or her novel, you can follow the rest of the tour and check out the posts from the first two blog stops on the tour:

Day 1 : Writing to be Read – Welcome and Review

Day 2: Patty’s World – Guest Post by Ann Chiappetta

I do hope you will join us for the rest of the tour. See you there. 🙂

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Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


Treasuring Poetry – Meet writer and poet, Willow from Willowdot21

Today, I am delighted to feature writer and poet, Willow Willers, as my Treasuring Poetry guest. Willow blogs at willowdot21.

Which of your own stories is your favourite?

Well Robbie, my real first favourite is a trilogy I wrote about young boys who get caught up in drug running gangs and knife crime. My real ambition would be to have a chance to read this to young people at clubs and schools.

The death

The bench was hard but he could take that, it was the pain in his side and chest which filled his being, everything else was flat.

Fear gripped his mind, he was so cold inside yet a sweat was rippling down his back. His sight was blurred, was he going blind?

Slowly a long hidden memory came to the fore. His mother had taught him it long before he had changed. “Gentle Jesus meek and mild look upon me a little child.”

OH! Jesus if you are there help me now, I did not need you then but I do now. Jesus this pain is f###ing killing me, help me help me please. Slowly he slipped forward onto the floor and darkness washed over him and he knew no more.
***
“Where are you going son. No, out, will not do! Listen to me boy I am asking you. Why must you run with that pack it seems to me now there is no coming back. What has happened to you, you were such a good boy at school I had hopes that you’d go far but your just like your brother playing the fool.

No your not wicked but you are not a fool and I am telling you this, in my book you’re not cool.”

“What are you doing with that? Give it me back , don’t you threaten me son I’ll give you a smack. OH! Please will you listen to me don’t take that knife it will not set you free from the boredom in your life. It will not get you a job, it won’t make you a man what has happened to you and your world changing plan? You had vision and hunger for work as a decent and pleasant boy not as you are now , just a jerk.”
***
Clearing up quietly the priest approached the last row when something on the floor that caught the suns last glow. Red and sticky he knew what it was but he prayed to his God that it would not be true. The boy lying his arms out wide, blood flowing from his side. A thought crossed his mind but he dismissed immediately. He looked like Jesus did, you see. Arms out wide , blood from his side a cut round his forehead dripping, blood in his eyes.

He took out his mobile and took a deep breath as he dialled, ambulance, police he begged his mind running wild. The operator was telling him what to do, “Keep him warm and stem the blood is what I want you to do.” He ripped off his cassock and swaddled the lad he then noticed blood on his jeans ( the best ones he had) He cradled the boy and prayed in his ear “keep trying to stay ask now, Jesus will hear.”

It was half an hour until anyone arrived the paramedic crew gently moved the priest to one side. It was too late the boy was gone, then with their radios crackling loud, the police taped the area off, people from everywhere arriving, such a crowd.

Standing back and looking around the priest said a prayer without making a sound. “Dear God take the soul of this boy who died here today and give him some peace, and if you have time help me find words to soothe his family, at least ” Then he sat down exhausted, he was just a man even though he was called a priest.

A woman on her way home from work regretting an argument at the start of her day was wondering how to fix things and what she could say. She always said never give up, never leave a good word unsaid. Never leave things, sort them before you go to bed. Passing the church she saw her youngest boys friends , he wasn’t there perhaps they could make amends.

The Cause
He awoke with a jump. It was his brother rolling in drunk! Damn only 4am please don’t go over what’s to happen again. I know I must do this. I must prove myself.

It was all too easy a year ago when his best friend introduced him to the boys “you need to know” It had been simple things at first making old ladies jump, stealing traffic cones all laughing fit to burst.

When he was really trusted, got himself a name.Things became more serious it suddenly was a whole new game. They met the older boys, the ones with big fast cars. They all wore hoodies, bling and they all had facial scars.

It was money and messages that he had to run he was fit and had a bike.Now that is how easily it had begun. He often skipped school though not always willingly. There really was not any choice, what the big boys said, had to be.

His teachers all asked him why his work had slipped away he had a brilliant future and he had thrown it all away. He was a little worried but he shrugged his shoulders and wandered off, his teachers called him back but his friends told them to f### off.

Mum, she was desperate working on her own doing all she could to keep the house, the boys and to make  them a home. The oldest she had lost him he had gone to drugs. She had tried so hard but he just robbed her blind and made her look a mug.The young one she had dreams for she had prayed to the Lord each day but now he was on the wrong track, he was slipping the same way.

He knew he had become a waster, he knew that he was bad . It was the only way to be accepted and safe but the pain in Mum’s eyes made him feel sad. So he just avoided contact and hardened to her pleas. He was knocked back the other day when she begged him to stay home down on her knees.

He tried to ask his brother who ran with an older crew but he was useless as he was trapped there too. What chance was there, his brother asked, what was there for them to do there was no work or opportunities running with lads was at least something to do. It was all about status and how hard you are , what clothes you wore , what trainers and did you have a scar.

His brother had one, on his face, from a fight with a rival gang. Okay it hurt , six days in hospital 17 stitches but he was now a big man??

Today was his chance to join the glorious crew. To take part in the big ruck was all he had to do.

Two weeks he had known about the fight , where and exactly when. It was on his mind both day and night . His thoughts were full of dread , through his blood ran pure fear it was nearly six now, the day was finally here.

Later in the kitchen when he was taking the knife , his mother caught him and shouted at him. He raised his hand to her for the first and last time in his life. Luckily she was small so he pushed her to one side as he crashed through the door and out the gate . His mother sat on the floor and cried.
***
Later he met the guys when mum had gone to work, they knew a squat they could use to complete their plan. By 4pm they were jumpy they were ready to a man.They left the squat and through the railings ran. Jumping , punching the air and making feral calls they had it now they all knew the plan, they had all the balls.

He wished he’d picked a smaller knife this one was too large . As he was changing it’s position. Into him a couple of the lads all barged. At once he felt a sharp and stinging pain as he fell to the floor, it felt worse again. His side felt wet and his forehead was cut where he had scraped along the floor..

What’s wrong man, stop messing we haven’t got the time it’s 5 o’clock now hear those church bells chime. Oh! hey you’re hurt man what did you do. You stupid f### you stabbed yourself. We have to leave you here, no good to have a burden on the crew.

His best friend helped him into the church and sat him at the back , hold on, he said, laters. then ran off to join the pack.

So he alone now, life ebbing from his side thoughts of mum, school, his brother and he cried. He asked the lord for comfort but comfort did not come. He prayed a childhood prayer from deep inside his mind. The priest found him,and he was very kind. He wrapped his chest and held him and asked him not to go . He tried to but he couldn’t stay he felt too tired, too low.

He heard the priests’ desperate call as he slipped away forget the ambulance he though and just pray for me today. The priest felt him go, but he would not lose his grip he felt he needed to guide this lost boy, some mothers pride and joy.
The Effect
Getting off the bus and heading home, she was tired her feet aching but she was determined not to moan. This was important, it had to be done she needed to put her whole being into saving her youngest son!

Pushing the front door shut behind her putting the bags down on the kitchen floor she looked into the living room but there was no one there. No television no shoot’em’up games standing in the hallway she called out both boys names.

OH! well, she put the kettle on and maybe she’d ring around she had both their mobile numbers but they did not always want to be found. The doorbell rings , damn she had only just sat down, walking toward the door the phone begins to ring.

There it is the sight every mother dreads, a policeman and a policewoman , OH! god she thinks someone must be dead.

The hospital was noisy but she didn’t hear a sound her lungs were filling up as she were about to drown. She had been waiting for an age now, would no one take her in. She was feeling really sick now and felt like things were crawling on her skin.

It was so cold in there and he only had a sheet on . God he looked so pale but she supposed that was what you would look like when all your blood was gone.
***
She woke up with the headache she had, had since that day, the shock of the police visit and what they had to say.

She  knew she had to get up she knew she must today, it was the funeral and that would not go away.

Things had been different her elder boy had stayed home he seemed to want to help his mother and not leave her on her own. She dared not to hope he had changed but she was glad that he was there.

She slowly put her face on and then she brushed her hair.

His friends were at the church like they had been that day , he was not with them. Would this pain ever go away.

The priest seemed glad to see her and he offered his support, she felt close to this man who was with her boy when for his life he fought.
***
His favourite track finished and the last notes drifted away she stood up and looked at everyone and said she had something to say.

She knew that there was no work and that there was not much hope but joining gangs and using guns and knives was not the way to cope. Please listen, she pleaded you are slipping away too many lives are wasted too many die this way. Something must be done and it must be soon we are losing a generation it might be two if something is not done soon.

How many more mothers have to suffer like she.

We really need to sort this out……… her voice trailed off to silence as she repeated, how many more mothers like me?

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

I wrote this story in 2014 but with the news of yet so many gang related killings in London in fact all our towns and cities lately. There have been so many knife crimes these last years. In light of this I felt compelled to write about how easily you people regardless of their ethnic background get sucked into gang culture. I felt the need to show how far the ripples spread and how even the innocent are touched.

What are your plans for your poetry going forward?

I love my poetry and I hope to continue to write until I die. I would love to publish a book of poetry but something is holding me back. I don’t know what really.

What is your favourite poem?

My favourite poem is High Flight. by John Gillespie Magee JR.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of-wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor ever eagle flew-
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Why do you like this poem?

It always makes me cry. It’s the fact that this young man born in Shanghai, China, to an American father and a British mother, who both worked as Anglican missionaries who flew Spitfires for Great Britain during WW2. died not long after qualifying in 1941 in a routine training accident.

The beautiful words are so prophetic, I hope he got to touch the face of God.

A poem by Willow: Broken Angel

My wings are clipped my feet are tied.
I need to scream, but I can not cry.
I need to run I need to hide,
Afraid to stay , too tired to fly
Alone under a moon lit sky.
Can I run, can I hide,
Can I beat this pain inside
Will it end, will I be no more
Will I find the key to the locked door.
Broken angel that is me
No longer blessed no longer free.
Shackled, so harshly tied down
Lost to all, now bound to the ground.

Find out more about Willow here: https://willowdot21.wordpress.com/about/

About Robbie Cheadle

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Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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