Treasuring Poetry – Meet poet and author Harmony Kent and my review

Today, I am delighted to feature poet and author Harmony Kent as my guest for Treasuring Poetry. I have read one of Harmony’s fictional books and her non-fiction book, Creative Solutions for the Modern Writer: Inspirational Tools to Fire Your Imagination, and they are both excellent. I have read and reviewed her poetry book, Slices of Soul: A Collection of Contemporary Poetry.

Welcome Harmony!

Which of your own poems is your favourite?

VOYAGE

Into the unknown we go

riding the ocean breeze

tacking this way and that

not too concerned with the far horizon

At peace, keeping an eye on the waves

that toss us about now and then

sailing through bright day

and deep dark night

It matters not

what tempest may come

we will weather the storms together

while we wend our way

We’ve lain our course

taken our soundings

and with love at the helm

we’ll keep a steady pace

Call it what you will

scow, skiff, sloop, hulk, schooner, bucket

so long as we caulk the boards and set the stays

we shall not founder

There’s no glory like it

in the heavens or on the Earth

than sailing free into the fire

of the sun as it sets into the glistening sea

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

When I met the love of my life, right away, we both went through some tough personal times. Those hardships brought us closer, and we’ve now been married for two years.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy writing the most and why?

Some form of Haiku, because it forces me write with brevity and choose my words with utmost care.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy reading the most?

As with my writing, my reading is eclectic. I enjoy a broad range of styles and genres.

What is your favourite poem?

Auguries of Innocence by William Blake

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower 

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 

And Eternity in an hour

A Robin Red breast in a Cage

Puts all Heaven in a Rage 

A Dove house filled with Doves & Pigeons

Shudders Hell through all its regions 

A dog starved at his Masters Gate

Predicts the ruin of the State 

A Horse misused upon the Road

Calls to Heaven for Human blood 

Each outcry of the hunted Hare

A fibre from the Brain does tear 

A Skylark wounded in the wing 

A Cherubim does cease to sing 

The Game Cock clipped & armed for fight

Does the Rising Sun affright 

Every Wolfs & Lions howl

Raises from Hell a Human Soul 

The wild deer, wandering here & there 

Keeps the Human Soul from Care 

The Lamb misused breeds Public Strife

And yet forgives the Butchers knife 

The Bat that flits at close of Eve

Has left the Brain that wont Believe

The Owl that calls upon the Night

Speaks the Unbelievers fright

He who shall hurt the little Wren

Shall never be beloved by Men 

He who the Ox to wrath has moved

Shall never be by Woman loved

The wanton Boy that kills the Fly

Shall feel the Spiders enmity 

He who torments the Chafers Sprite

Weaves a Bower in endless Night 

The Caterpillar on the Leaf

Repeats to thee thy Mothers grief 

Kill not the Moth nor Butterfly 

For the Last Judgment draweth nigh 

He who shall train the Horse to War

Shall never pass the Polar Bar 

The Beggars Dog & Widows Cat 

Feed them & thou wilt grow fat 

The Gnat that sings his Summers Song

Poison gets from Slanders tongue 

The poison of the Snake & Newt

Is the sweat of Envy’s Foot 

The poison of the Honey Bee

Is the Artists Jealousy

The Princes Robes & Beggars Rags

Are Toadstools on the Misers Bags 

A Truth that’s told with bad intent

Beats all the Lies you can invent 

It is right it should be so 

Man was made for Joy & Woe 

And when this we rightly know 

Through the World we safely go 

Joy & Woe are woven fine 

A Clothing for the soul divine 

Under every grief & pine

Runs a joy with silken twine 

The Babe is more than swaddling Bands

Throughout all these Human Lands

Tools were made & Born were hands 

Every Farmer Understands

Every Tear from Every Eye

Becomes a Babe in Eternity 

This is caught by Females bright

And returned to its own delight 

The Bleat the Bark Bellow & Roar 

Are Waves that Beat on Heavens Shore 

The Babe that weeps the Rod beneath

Writes Revenge in realms of Death 

The Beggars Rags fluttering in Air

Does to Rags the Heavens tear 

The Soldier armed with Sword & Gun 

Palsied strikes the Summers Sun

The poor Man’s Farthing is worth more

Than all the Gold on Africs Shore

One Mite wrung from the Labrers hands

Shall buy & sell the Misers Lands 

Or if protected from on high 

Does that whole Nation sell & buy 

He who mocks the Infants Faith

Shall be mocked in Age & Death 

He who shall teach the Child to Doubt

The rotting Grave shall neer get out 

He who respects the Infants faith

Triumphs over Hell & Death 

The Childs Toys & the Old Man’s Reasons

Are the Fruits of the Two seasons 

The Questioner who sits so sly 

Shall never know how to Reply 

He who replies to words of Doubt

Doth put the Light of Knowledge out 

The Strongest Poison ever known

Came from Caesars Laurel Crown 

Nought can Deform the Human Race

Like to the Armours iron brace 

When Gold & Gems adorn the Plow

To peaceful Arts shall Envy Bow 

A Riddle or the Crickets Cry

Is to Doubt a fit Reply 

The Emmets Inch & Eagles Mile

Make Lame Philosophy to smile 

He who Doubts from what he sees

Will ne’er Believe do what you Please 

If the Sun & Moon should Doubt 

They’d immediately Go out 

To be in a Passion you Good may Do 

But no Good if a Passion is in you 

The Whore & Gambler by the State

Licenced build that Nations Fate 

The Harlots cry from Street to Street 

Shall weave Old England’s winding Sheet 

The Winners Shout the Losers Curse 

Dance before dead England’s Hearse 

Every Night & every Morn

Some to Misery are Born 

Every Morn and every Night

Some are Born to sweet delight 

Some are Born to sweet delight 

Some are Born to Endless Night 

We are led to Believe a Lie

When we see not Thro the Eye

Which was Born in a Night to perish in a Night 

When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light 

God Appears & God is Light

To those poor Souls who dwell in Night 

But does a Human Form Display To those who Dwell in Realms of day

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43650/auguries-of-innocence

Slices of Soul: A Collection of Contemporary Poetry

What Amazon says

Slices of Soul is a collection of contemporary poetry from author Harmony Kent that will both delight and call for deeper reflection. ‘Phantoms’ gives a gritty account of pain that you can never catch. ‘Enough’ expresses the contentment of Zen. ‘Diamonds’ shows the beauty to be found on a drab and rainy day. While ‘The Alchemist’ shows you how a guitar can turn lead into gold. This wonderful arrangement of fifty poems takes you from the abstract of Zen to the melody of music, and will reach into your mind, your heart, and your soul.

My review

Slices of Soul is a compelling and unusual collection of poetry which certainly does give the reader glimpses into the complex soul and unusual life of the poet.

I think it is important to note that the poet spent 13 years living in a Zen Buddhist Temple and that the poems featured in this book were written, during and after this period in her life. I believe that her spiritualism and surroundings had a bearing on the thoughts and ideas expressed through the poems in this book.

The poems are divided into sections: Shaved Head, written during her time at the Zen Buddhist Temple, Short Hair, written during the transitional period of her changing life circumstances, and Long Hair which effectively covers all the remaining sections in the book and were written after she’d adjusted to her new life.

I felt the tone of the poems changed over the course of the book from intense reflections on life, to studies of nature, to fierce expressions of emotion, to gentler articulations of love and contentment.

The two poems that impacted me the most in this collection are from the first two sections of the book, Shaved Hair and Short Hair:

The Path
The ten directions all merge into one
this winding road leads nowhere
and goes straight there

Lost and Found
Deep dark depths
I got lost on purpose
this desolate place
the only way
to get my bearings

Poetry lovers who like poems that make you think about things and see them differently will appreciate this book.

Purchase Slices of Soul

Amazon US

Amazon Author Page Harmony Kent

About Harmony Kent

Harmony Kent

Harmony Kent is an award winning multi-genre author. Her publications include: 

The Battle for Brisingamen (Fantasy Fiction) AIA approved

The Glade (Mystery/Thriller) AIA Approved/BRAG Medallion Honouree/New Apple Literary Awards Official Selection Honours 2015

Polish Your Prose: Essential Editing Tips for Authors (Writing/Editing) New Apple Literary Awards Top Medallist Honours 2015

Finding Katie (Women’s Fiction)

Slices of Soul (Contemporary Poetry)

Interludes 1 & Interludes 2 (Erotic Short Stories)

Moments (Short Stories and Poetry)

Jewel in the Mud (Zen Musings)

Backstage (Erotic Romance)

FALLOUT (Apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic Dystopia) BRAG Medallion Honouree

The Vanished Boy (Psychological Thriller)

As well as being an avid reader and writer, Harmony also offers reviews and supports her fellow authors. Harmony works hard to promote and protect high standards within the publishing arena. She is always on the look out for talent and excellence, and will freely promote any authors or books who she feels have these attributes. Harmony lives in Cornwall, England.

twitter: @harmony_kent

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/HarmonyK

harmonykent@gmx.com

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 1 poetry book.

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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Treasuring Poetry: Meet poet and author Miriam Hurdle

Today, I am delighted to host poet and author Miriam Hurdle for the July edition of Treasuring Poetry.

Welcome Miriam Hurdle

Hi Robbie,

I’m delighted to be your guest on Writing to be Read to talk about poetry.

Which of your own poems is your favourite

Among the published poems in Songs of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude, several poems are my favorites in equal measure for different reasons. One is in the section of Songs of Marriage, one in Songs of Tribute, and one in Songs of Inspiration.

The time I wrote this post, my heart turns to the poem “Healthy Grieving” in the section of Songs of Tribute.

Healthy Grieving

Randy and my husband were true friends.

No appointment needed for

a barbeque, a movie or a game, just

knocked on each other’s door.

The conversation could go anywhere,

no worry about apologies.

When one needed a helping hand,

the other one is always there.

Twelve years was a long time,

such true friendship rarely came by.

People say, “Big boys don’t cry.”

I don’t know why.

Boys have emotion, as we all do.

My husband had never cried,

not until after Randy died.

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

There is a narrative precedes the poem. I wrote the poem to pay tribute to our neighbor, my husband’s best friend who died of a mountain bike accident. Here is the excerpt.

I remember on January 3, 2016. Randy joined us to celebrate my husband’s birthday. We had lunch and saw Star Wars at Irvine Spectrum. It was on Saturday.

The following Sunday, eight days later, his relative came over to tell us that Randy had a mountain bike accident. He and a gym buddy ventured on a long mountain bike ride. The bike hit a vast gap and made a somersault flip. He got thrown off the bike, fell forward and hit the ground, and smashed his head and face.

They rushed him to the close by emergency room but pronounced him dead as soon as the ambulance reached the hospital.

Randy was our neighbor who lived two doors down the street. He was my husband’s best friend for twelve years, ever since he came back to live with his parents. They worked out at the gym together. They enjoyed the Friday movie and pizza day for a while.

After my husband got a mountain bike, he also got one. They biked on the trails in the city. On special occasions, a barbecue dinner was in order. He came over to our house for game nights regularly. A year before he passed away, they switched to another restaurant to hang out in the bar, and I became their designated driver.

Randy was a lighthearted guy, a wonderful friend, a caring son. We missed him very much.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy writing the most and why?

Whereas a “form” defines the way a poem arranges sounds, rhythms, or its appearance on the page, “genre” is something like the poem’s style. Many poetic genres have a long history, and new poems almost always seek to explore a new aspect of the traditional style and thus to redefine the genre.

Traditionally, there are nine genres of poetry. Three of them remain in the newer inclusion of poetry genres. They are narrative poetry which tells a story, lyric poetry which is musical in tone, and dramatic poetry which is a long dramatic monologue or persona poem.

I would say I enjoy writing narrative poetry genre. Regardless of the poetry forms, I like to write poems that tell the stories. The poem I included above is a good example in which I shared the story of the friendship between my husband and Randy.

As far as poetry form, I enjoy writing free verse which is free of rules and regulations. It doesn’t follow a consistent rhyme scheme, meter or musical structure. For the fun of learning, I also write blank verse which follows a stricter structure with precise meter. In addition to Haiku, Tanka, I have written a Shakespearean Sonnet, a Pantoum, several acrostic poems, two Villanelle, and one one-syllable poem (all the words used in the entire poem are single syllable words).

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy reading the most?

I enjoy reading narrative and lyric poetry including poetic song lyric. One example of narrative poetry is a poem by the American Poet Linda Pastan in which she tells a story about her daughter.

To a daughter leaving home

When I taught you

at eight to ride

a bicycle, loping along

beside you

as you wobbled away

on two round wheels,

my own mouth rounding

in surprise when you pulled

ahead down the curved

path of the park,

I kept waiting

for the thud

of your crash as I

sprinted to catch up,

while you grew

smaller, more breakable

with distance,

pumping, pumping

for your life, screaming

with laughter,

the hair flapping

behind you like a

handkerchief waving

goodbye.

This poem is about the poet teaching her daughter to ride a bicycle. The title suggests that her daughter is now old enough to leave home. Pastan cleverly extends the metaphor of the bike as part of life’s journey. When I read this poem, I identify with the poet the joy of parenthood, with the sentiment of missing my daughter when she grew up and has gone on to her own journey.

I can’t talk about poetry without talking about music. I’m a singer of classical, traditional, and some older pop music and memorized many song lyrics for solo performances. The poetic song lyrics influence the flow of my poetry writing.

Examples of poetic song lyrics are, “Yesterday” by the Beatles, “Memory” from the Musical Cats written by Trevor Nunn, and “Killing Me Softly” written by Norman Gimbel & Charles Fox.

What is your favourite poem?

My favorite poem is a popular one by Robert Frost. Its signature phrases have become so ubiquitous, so much a part of the individual life and business alike. I like it because of its message applicable in my life.

I have come to crossroads many points in my journey. As reflected by Frost, I couldn’t take “both,” tried to look down both paths “as far as I could.” Many times, they both were “equally” “fair” but no guarantee. Ultimately, it was my decision that “made all the difference.” Knowing that I would never “come back,”, I willingly took the responsibility for the road I chose to travel with no regret.

The Road Not Taken 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I would like to include the trailer for Songs of Heartstring created by Diana W. Peach at https://mythsofthemirror.com

Songs of Heartstrings Amazon  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07K1S47W9

About Miriam Hurdle

Miriam Hurdle is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She published four children’s books at twenty-six years old. Her poetry collection received the Solo “Medalist Winner” for the New Apple Summer eBook Award and achieved bestseller status on Amazon.

Miriam writes poetry, short stories, memoir, and children’s books. She earned a Doctor of Education from the University of La Verne in California. After two years of rehabilitation counseling, fifteen years of public-school teaching and ten years in school district administration, she retired and enjoys life with her husband in southern California, and the visits to her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters in Oregon. When not writing, she engages in blogging, gardening, photography, and traveling.

Find Miriam Hurdle

Website/Blog: https://theshowersofblessings.com

Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/Miriam-Hurdle/e/B07K2MCSVW

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17252131.Miriam_Hurdle

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mhurdle112

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Miriam-Hurdle-Author-100123351515424

My review of Songs of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude

Songs of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude by [Miriam Hurdle]

Songs of Heartstrings is a collection of poems and essays featuring the vast array of life experiences by the author. Miriam Hurdle has encountered both the best and the worst of life through the death of her husband’s close friend, her own treatment for cancer, the birth of her daughter and the close relationship of her parents. Her wonderful joy in life and strong faith in her religion shine through in her poetry and give a lot of insight into her strong spirit and ability to stay positive despite the curve balls life has thrown her way.

This book also demonstrates Miriam’s love of nature and features poems about her garden, a hummingbird and even a spider. Her photographs and pictures are lovely and compliment the prose. 

My review of Tina Lost in a Crowd

Tina Lost in a Crowd by [Miriam Hurdle, Victoria Skakandi]

Tina Lost in a Crowd is a charming book for children about two young school friends who attend a busy concert with Tina’s parents and get lost on their way to the restroom.

I enjoyed the character of Tina, a lovely and friendly girl who demonstrated politeness and respect towards both her teacher and her parents as well as consideration towards her friend. She has sufficient presence of mind not to panic in the scary situation of being lost in a big crowd.

The depiction of Tina’s family life and her mother’s interest in her and eagerness to plan some fun family outings for the summer vacation are heart warming and lovely to see in a children’s book. I liked the fact that Tina’s mother made a picnic for her family and Tina’s friend, Erica, to enjoy at the concert with good, wholesome food.

The illustrations in this book are a real treat and every page is a visual delight. I would recommend this book to parents and caregivers who like books that encourage good family values and level headedness by children in difficult situations.

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 1 poetry book.

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.


Welcome to the WordCrafter “In the Silence of Words” Book Blog Tour

In the Silence of Words Book Blog Tour

This week WordCrafter brings you a tour that is a little different, and I’m excirted to tell you about it. This tour is not for the usual novel or poetry collection, but for a play, In the Silence of Words, by Cendrine Marrouat. We are kicking things off today, right here on Writing to be Read, with an interview with the author which will tell us all a little more about this creative author and her latest release.

Kaye: What inspired you to create In the Silence of Words: A Three-Act Play?

Cendrine: The play is very loosely based on some major events in my life, including my mother’s suicide. I wanted to write something meaningful and inspirational to help or bring comfort to those who might be going through something similar.

Kaye: Why did you choose to write this tale in play format? How would it be different if you had tried to write it as a literary story instead?

Cendrine: Before the idea of the play was even born, I had tried writing short stories and a novel. I quickly realized that my style was at odds with those genres. I suck at descriptions, and much prefer focusing on short, “punchy” scenes that deliver emotions between the lines.

In the Silence of Words can only work as a play. Theatre encourages uncomfortable conversations while forcing introspection, lifting spirits, and bringing people together.

Kaye: What makes In the Silence of Words: A Three-Act Play different from stories following a similar concept?

Cendrine: The play is unique because of the number of challenging topics it deals with at the same time; and the way each unravels on its own and as a whole. Every reader will find at least one strongly relatable element that will give them an appreciation for life.

Kaye: In the Silence of Words was, in part, inspired by the haiku poetry form. Why do you think the haiku is such a powerful poetry form?

Cendrine: The haiku was not what inspired the idea for In the Silence of Words, but I used the same technique behind this wonderful poetry form to make the storyline more impactful.

The haiku is a very short poem of three lines that says very little but suggests a lot. It relies heavily on the unsaid to convey emotions and deep meanings. As such it is the epitome of the “Say less, show more” technique every serious writer uses to craft memorable stories.

Kaye: Most of your work focuses on the importance of embracing the world and situations around us. Why do you think it is important?

Cendrine: Because life only has meaning when we choose to accept the negative as well as the positive experiences we encounter. There are lessons to learn in everything. It’s up to us to decide, when we are ready, how fast or slowly we want to grow.

Kaye: What are your goals with In the Silence of Words: A Three-Act Play?

Cendrine: I want to invite people to view pain and loss differently. I want them to rethink their relationship with life, death, and everything in between. Losing loved ones is, of course, terrible, often leaving gaping wounds in our hearts. However, as main character, Cassandra Philip learns, there is a healthy, albeit liberating way to grieve and move on. It just (often) requires a series of distressing events to reach that kind of conclusion.

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Cendrine Marrouat is a French-born Canadian photographer, poet, and the multi-genre author of
more than 30 books. In 2019, she founded the PoArtMo Collective and co-founded Auroras &
Blossoms with David Ellis. A year later, they launched PoArtMo (Positive Art Month and Positive
Art Moves) and created the Kindku and Pareiku, two forms of poetry. Cendrine is also the
creator of the Sixku, the Flashku, and the Reminigram.
Cendrine writes both in French and English and has worked in many different fields in her
17-year career, including translation, language instruction, journalism, art reviews, and social
media.

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We have a great tour lined up for this thought provoking play. Join us tomorrow for a guest post by the author on Robbie’s Inspiration for Day 2. Then Wednesday, you can catch my review right here on Writing to be Read for Day 3. Thursday’s stop is on Roberta Writes with a guest post by the author, and we’ll be wrapping things up on Friday with another guest post on Zigler’s News. I do hope you’ll join us as we learn more about In the Silence of Words.

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Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


Treasuring Poetry: Meet author and poet M J Mallon

My Treasuring Poetry guest today is talented author and poet M J Mallon. I am delighted to host Marje here and hope you enjoy her thoughts on poetry and her favourite poem.

Which of your own poems is your favourite?

This was such a difficult decision, I have at least three favourites! I narrowed it down to the robin. The robin and the dragonfly are my spirit animals and trees are also a huge inspiration. I’ve written about all of these and more in Mr. Sagittarius.

A beautiful picture of a robin by M J Mallon

Bench,

A bird,

Red-breasted,

So, tame you rest,

Beside me robin,

Two friends on a park bench,

One human, one of nature,

I appreciate your kind time,

Until you away… exploring far,

Hinting at possibilities you go. 

I wonder what you notice in your world.

And why you choose that ground to explore,

When you could have stayed here with me,

In mindful meditation.

Maybe you’ll visit me,

Christmas day, perhaps?

To bring good cheer,

Until then,

Peace to, You.

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

I’d been studying mindfulness at the sixth form college where I work. Mindfulness is the act of observing and using the full array of our senses meditatively to become more at one with ourselves. I’ve discovered that this is a fantastic practice to adhere to. It benefits an author’s creativity by making you more aware of the nuances of your surroundings.  I’m fortunate in that I work near the botanical gardens in Cambridge, so I often visit and walk and observe the wonder of nature taking photographs of the trees, flowers, animal and insect visitors. Over time, I collected these photographs and wrote poems about them. These, along with various seasonal and short pieces of fiction feature in Mr. Sagittarius. It is a joyful celebration of siblings, magic, loves, nature, the seasons and the circle of our lives.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy writing the most and why?

I love writing poetry about life in all its vibrant colours. I am often inspired by photography, (I am a keen amateur photographer – my grandfather and uncle were professional photographers,) or I use images I discover as prompts, often via Colleen Chesebro’s poetry challenge: https://wordcraftpoetry.com/

Specifically, I enjoy writing poems about nature, trees, flowers, love and Halloween! Halloween poems also feature in Mr. Sagittarius. Halloween is an autumnal activity, (and often a childhood one,) so it links well with the seasonal/circle of life, aspect of my poetry writing.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy reading the most?

I enjoy reading short form poetry. It is so expressive and brilliant. I love how short verses of poetry convey so much detail in so few words. I enjoy haiku, and tanka, as well as poems that form a pattern on the page. I also enjoy longer forms as you will see from my choice of favourite poem.

What is your favourite poem?

I have always loved Ode To Autumn by John Keats. I can almost taste the words. They are magnificent—that first line: Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness —draws you in and makes you long to read more.

Ode To Autumn by John Keats


  1. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
            Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
        Conspiring with him how to load and bless
            With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
        To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
            And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
              To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
            With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
        And still more, later flowers for the bees,
      Until they think warm days will never cease,
              For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

    2.
      Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
          Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
      Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
          Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
      Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
          Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
              Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
      And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
          Steady thy laden head across a brook;
          Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
              Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

    3.
      Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
          Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
      While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
          And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
      Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
          Among the river sallows, borne aloft
              Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
      And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
          Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
          The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
              And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
https://allpoetry.com/Ode-To-Autumn

Mr Sagittarius by M J Mallon

About Mr Sagittarius

Twin brothers Harold and William love the magic of the natural world.

When Harold dies he leaves a simple memorial request.

Will his brother William and his sister Annette honour it?

Or, will the garden work its magic to ensure that they do.

A magical story expressed via an original compilation of poetry and prose with photographic images.

#Poetry #Prose #Photography #NaturalWorld #Trees #Magic #Spirit #Animals #CircleofLife #Humour #Halloween #Cats #Buddha

My review of Mr Sagittarius

Mr Sagittarius is a beautiful collection of poems and short stories, set in the lovely gardens of Cambridge and linked by the visits and experiences of a family of twin brothers and their younger sister.

The story starts with William visiting the weeping willow tree in the garden, a place that was special to his twin brother, Harold, who has recently passed away. William sees Harold’s spirit in a dragonfly that he chats to and finds solace in their one-sided communication.

This is a few lines from a poem about the dragonfly:
“Ancient, sweet fellow
Sacred magic bestower,
Change tumbling on fragile wings.”

When William returns home, he has an altercation with his sister, Annette. During their spat Annette reveals that she has always felt left out and overlooked by her twin brothers. This revelation leads to William and Annette becoming closer and visiting the garden together. Not long after, William passes on and Annette is left alone. She visits the garden and communicates with the spirits of both her brothers over the course of the rest of her long life.

The visits of the siblings to the garden are captured in lovely verse. This is an example I really enjoyed:
“I dream in colour
But now everything is dark
Where has the light gone?
Oh, cruel leafy canopy,
No green meadow, just blue thoughts.”

My favourite of the short stories was The Old Man of Snow and The Snow Snake. This is a story about making good choices in life and rejecting greed. I enjoyed the tale and the descriptive writing.

Mr Sagittarius is a gorgeous book full of delightfully depictive poems and short stories and decorated with striking photographs. This is a book that lovers of poetry, mystery, and wonder will love.

Purchase Mr Sagittarius: Poetry and Prose

Amazon US

M J Mallon Amazon Author Page

About M J Mallon

I am a diverse author who blogs at: https://mjmallon.com. My interests include writing, poetry, photography, and alternative therapies. My favourite genres to write are: Fantasy YA, Paranormal, Ghost and Horror Stories and I love writing various forms of poetry and micro poetry – haiku and Tanka and flash fiction.

I am proud to be included in the best selling horror anthology Nightmareland which received best seller status with best-selling author Dan Alatorre at the helm.

It is one of my greatest pleasures to read and I have written over 100 reviews: https://mjmallon.com/2015/09/28/a-z-of-my-book-reviews/

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a children’s author and poet.

The 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 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

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

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.


Meet poet and author D. Avery plus review

Treasuring Poetry

Today, I am delighted to welcome poet and author D. Avery. Ms Avery is the creator of the fun and well-known characters Kid and Pal who frequent Carrot Ranch Literary Community She also has her own blog where she shares her flash fiction, poetry and other literary endeavours. You can find her blog here: https://shiftnshake.wordpress.com/.

At first I was thrilled to be asked to participate in Treasuring Poetry with Writing to be Read and Robbie Cheadle. Then I read the questions! Too hard! Actually, I misread the questions and was flustered enough to consider who my favorite poet might be, let alone poem.

Robbie’s questions led me down many a rabbit hole, but perhaps not so many as I might have if I were under the same roof as my collection of poetry books. I’m not, so I let my mind travel and recall those shelves and what I have read lately. Often times my favorite poet or poem is simply the one in front of me, so recently I have enjoyed Conrad Aiken and Mary Oliver. But a favorite poet?  

Still mistakenly contemplating a poet as opposed to a poem, and still unable to name just one, I at least realize I tend to most admire traditional Japanese poetry as well as the work of Rumi and of Hafiz. I like a short poem that makes me say, “Ah!” or even “Awe…” then “Ha!”  If I could peruse my shelves I’d give my favorite examples, probably from a book called Japanese Death Poems; either that or I’d be lost in re-reading that treasure. As it is, this assignment got me re-reading Hafiz’s The Gift, translated by Daniel Ladinsky, and from that I came to see that many of Mary Oliver’s poems are in that Sufi vein, poems that, like Hafiz, are conversational yet intimate, not just with the reader, but with the subject, God. Now there’s a rabbit hole. But closer to home and in some ways more comfortable for their hominess are the poems of Robert Frost.  He too writes with the wit and wisdom, often with a quiet humor, that I admire in the Sufis. Here are two lines from the New England bard:

We dance round in a ring and suppose,

But the secret sits in the middle and knows.

Robert Frost poems are accessible yet have subtleties and layers that can provide that  ‘Ah ha’ that gives a poem staying power. As well as displaying an understanding of the spiritual aspects of his world Frost’s poems also reveal a keen observer’s eye for nature.  There are many examples, and I never tire of reading Frost, but a favorite poem? I will not choose a favorite. But here are forty-eight syllables in eight lines, Nothing Gold Can Stay:

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

Some will say this poem is about impermanence and the fleeting nature of time. Leaves certainly change their hues in Frost’s New England, and he shows that he has observed this deeply, daily, for the emerging and unfolding leaves of spring and early summer cannot simply be called green, they are in fact shades of yellow and gold, and those might be preceded by cream and yellow flowers. Ah, he’s so observant. And dawn begins golden; “dawn goes down” makes one think of sunset, but it is just day, a day less sparkly than the golden dawn that begat it perhaps. Yes, time flies, but there is much implication in this poem of falling. So Eden sank to grief/ So dawn goes down to day/ Nothing gold can stay. There is nothing extraneous in this short poem; Eden sinking to grief is intentional, making this poem about humanity’s separation from nature, our fall from our golden potential when we were green and new in the world. This poem, without explicitly using seasonal words, has spring and fall entwined, so while that does show the fleeting nature of time, it is also a reminder of the seasons of our lives, and the hues we hold, the hues we live and die by. Just now in Frost’s old stomping grounds the leaves are turning back from summer greens to fall golds, and those colorful autumn leaves will fall, (for nothing gold can stay), but I wonder if that last line offers a bit of hope, the potential of knowing bright hues once more before the onset of winter.

I hope that addresses well enough the first three questions. As far as writing like any well-known poet, I choose— me! But I am not a well-known poet…

I admire many poets and many styles. I think any poet whom we admire is worth examining and, to an extent, imitating. That is what many of the poetry writing prompts do, they encourage us to try out different forms and styles of poetry, to pay attention to syllables and rhyme schemes and such. I sometimes see a form or style that is new to me and try it as a challenge and to learn something new. It’s all good, as long as you are building your own poeming muscles and not trying to write someone else’s poem. We tend to follow the recipe the first time we make a new dish. But then we get flexible and make the dish our own. In poeming too, we are aware that ours isn’t the only way to express the ingredients we find to hand, and we should want to find our own voice. In many ways free verse is the most challenging and difficult poetic form for me. How do you know when it’s done, if it’s done right, if there are no “rules”? That having been said, I am not against bending or even breaking the rules, but they have to be there in the first place for that to work.

Since I was nine years old I have occasionally been blessed by the magical balm of someone saying, “I liked your poem”. It’s a huge thing. I am not a singer or dancer or a visual artist. But sometimes I make pictures with words, and sometimes those words have a rhythm and a cadence or a tone that works, that strikes a chord. It is good to feel like a poem has performed well. And I have come to truly appreciate all the other lesser-known (not yet household names) poets that put their work out on their blogs. From you all I have learned so much and have been shown the great potential and creativity of poeming, and the assurance that poetry is alive and well. 

D. Avery

My review of For the Girls by D Avery

This is the first book of poetry by D. Avery I have read and it was a wonderful experience. For the Girls really spoke to me as it is about the path of breast cancer many women walk. By reading these poems, I was able to follow this traumatic journey from diagnosis, through treatment and to remission for many, and death for a few.

The poems in For the Girls capture the concerns aroused by potential discover, the shock of a malignant diagnosis, the support offered by some of the staff at the treatment clinics and the comfort of firm friendships. The also disclose the pain of emotional upheaval being ignored and staff treating a patient with kind impatience.

Some of the verses/poems that struck me the most in this books are as follows:

“Unless.
Some of us have to get them off our chests.
And learn living without them.

Except.
Some, dear friends, couldn’t live.
With or without them.”
from The Girls

“There’s another intruder who lacks
Even the decency of mice or rats
that at least show themselves at night
To show they’ve been in the house all along,
only sometimes out of sight.

Why would you suspect your own house?
Relax, there’s nothing, or maybe only a mouse.
Why would you suspect there’s something there
Quiet as anxiety, maybe under the stairs
or up in the attic, just biding its time
A squatter in the house you blithely call “mine”?
from Intrusion

This collection of poems is freestyle and very bitter sweet. The insightfulness of the poet brought tears to my eyes and brought back memories of ladies I’ve known who’ve walked this same frightening path.

Purchase For the Girls by D Avery

About D Avery

D. Avery (196?-20??) has long been a compulsive poet. Despite a very important day job educating public school children, she is often distracted by this compulsion, as well as by life’s great questions, such as “Kayak, or bike?”. Though she has come to realize that nothing difficult is ever easy, she believes that it’s all good.

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

  • Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
  • Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley;
  • Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre; and
  • Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

Find Robbie Cheadle

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

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books


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.


“Chatting with the Pros”: Interview with award winning fantasy author L. Deni Colter

Chatting with the Pros

My “Chatting with the Pros” guest today is an award winning epic and dark fantasy author. She may not be as prolific as some writers, but everything she writes seems to shine in the fantasy realms. She is a two-time winner of the Colorado Book Award, and a Writers of the Future winner. That is three books and three awards. She must be doing something right. Please help me welcome fantasy author L. D. Colter.


L.D. Colter

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

Liz: I seem to have done a bit of everything along the way. My short stories have been traditionally published in magazines and anthologies. My first novel, A Borrowed Hell, was published by a small press that closed only a few months later, but fortunately the book was picked up again almost immediately by another small press. My epic fantasy novel, The Halfblood War, was acquired by a mid-sized publisher, and I chose to self-publish my latest novel, While Gods Sleep.

Kaye: Your books written under L.D. Colter are contemporary and dark fantasy, while your epic fantasy, The Halfblood War, is written under the name L. Deni Colter. What was the reasoning for the change of pen name?

Liz: I didn’t actually change my pen name, just added a second one. I started with L. D. Colter for my contemporary fantasy. When my epic fantasy novel was published, I decided to add the pseudonym L. Deni Colter to make it easier for readers to differentiate my writing by genre. While plenty of readers, like me, enjoy multiple sub-genres of speculative fiction, not everyone does, and I feel I write the two styles quite differently. I don’t separate my work in any other way, though. My website and author sites include my actual name, Liz, both of my pseudonyms, and all my books.

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

Liz: I didn’t consciously decide to write with a view to publishing until well into adulthood, but I’ve been a daydreamer all my life—I nearly flunked out of 5th grade due to it—so I was hard-wired from the start to create fiction. I started toying with the idea of writing during high school but stayed too busy through college and for a long time after as I pursued of different interests, more school, and many different careers. Finally, I found myself with a seasonal job, a rainy winter off, and my first computer. I started a novel that winter and wrote 10,000 words in the first week. I’ve never looked back.

Kaye: Your first book, A Borrowed Hell,won the 2018 Colorado Book Award for Science Fiction/Fantasy. Were you surprised? Can you tell me a little about that book?

Borrowed Hell.ColterLiz: Yes, I was very surprised and honored to win. When I wrote A Borrowed Hell, I set out to write a contemporary fantasy with literary themes about a man forced to face his difficult past in order to move forward in life. To receive an award for this book, and especially one from Colorado Humanities—an organization dedicated to the humanities and the ways in which the human experience is documented—was very rewarding.

The story follows my protagonist’s challenges, which take place in both the real world and an alternate world. I think this last bit of the back-cover copy sums up the plot pretty well. “July is willing to do anything to end his world-hopping, right up until he learns the price: reliving a past he’s tried his whole life to forget. He’s not sure his sanity can take it. Not even to get back to his own world, a woman he’s falling in love with, and a life he finally cares about.”

Kaye: While Gods Sleep won the 2019 Colorado Book Award for science fiction/fantasy. Where did you get the idea for this story?

While Gods Sleep.ColterLiz: As to the origin of this, I’ve loved mythology ever since discovering a fascination with ancient religions and cultural myths in high school. Greek mythology was my first passion, and it seemed the natural place to start when I decided to write a set of fantasy novels based on different mythologies. It was great fun to finally write a book rooted in the Greek myths I love, but better still was getting to play with them in completely unique and original ways that were entirely my own creation. It was a goal of mine from the start to avoid the more common tropes and to take this in unexpected directions, beginning with setting it in an alternative 1958 Athens ruled by conjoined queens. From there, I threw a mortal man into the eerie underworld of Erebus where he becomes entwined with sleeping gods, the factions that seek to control them, and an enemy powerful enough to destroy them all.

Kaye: Your latest release from Wordfire Press is The Halfblood War. What can you tell us about that book and the inspiration for it?

The Halfblood War.ColterLiz: These days I read widely across speculative fiction genres, but I grew up reading epic fantasy almost exclusively. Those books shaped my love of reading and were a huge part of my life. I enjoy the current directions epic fantasy is taking, but it was very fulfilling for me to get to write my own traditional epic fantasy and mold it into something unique and, hopefully, compelling. This novel took me longer to complete, by far, than my others. It was a true labor of love and I’m grateful to Wordfire Press for acquiring and publishing it. The premise revolves around Tirren, heir to the ruler of Thiery, who is raising his half-Elven bastard son in a land that hates and fears the Elves. It’s a stand-alone novel, written with an adult audience in mind, and weaves themes of prejudice and acceptance with love and betrayal, capricious and dangerous elves, and epic battles.

Kaye: What do you consider to be your biggest writing accomplishment to date?

Liz: I have to laugh, because my answer is always the same: my latest project, whatever that may be. Right now, that would be an unpublished novelette and my work-in-progress novel.

Kaye: In my review of the Undercurrents anthology, I refer to your story, “Songs to Sing and Stories to Tell”, saying that it explores saying good-bye. Can you tell me about this story from the author’s point of view? Did I get it right?

Liz: Yes, absolutely, I see that story as being about letting go, or as you put it, saying goodbye. Not my protagonist letting go of her past or her memories or her love, but trusting her instincts to let go of fear of change and false security and to embrace the unknown. That said, though, once a writer publishes their work, it belongs more to the reader than the author so different readers might see different themes.

Kaye: Which type of writing do you prefer, short fiction or novels? Why?

Liz: I enjoy both. There’s a lot of reward in completing and polishing short stories more quickly (faster for me, anyway) and getting them out in the world. If writing is going to be a career, though, conventional wisdom says it’s going to be based on producing novels. I’m not a fast writer—if I manage one book a year I’m doing well—so it’s a huge commitment for me to start a new book, but there’s also the fulfilment of really delving into story and character and the pleasure of wrapping up multiple storylines in a satisfying way.

Kaye: What is the strangest inspiration for a story you’ve ever had?

Liz: That might be my short story that won the Writers of the Future contest, “The Clouds in Her Eyes.” I had no notion what I was going to write when I began and went to my odds and ends file, where I toss all my passing and partial story ideas. I was trying to choose between three different prompts: a title idea (The Clouds in Her Eyes), an image of an old windmill on a dry and barren farm, and an image of a ship’s wooden figurehead. When I challenged myself to combine all three, the story was born.

Kaye: Are you a plotter or a pantser? Why?

Liz: I have to side with the pantsers on this. That said, though, I don’t really see pantsing and plotting as black and white options, but as a continuum. People who outline in the thousands of words still have to let go of the outline at some point and wing it. Likewise, most pantsers have some level of plotting going on, even if it’s at a scene-by-scene level as they get there. For me, I usually start with atmosphere (dark, humorous, gothic, whatever), an idea of the main character, sometimes a theme, and then an opening scene. While all that’s coalescing in my head, I usually get a sense of the ending, which gives me a rudimentary arc. At that point I start writing and figure the rest out as I go.

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

Liz: Wow, that’s a tough one. Tomorrow I might have a different answer, but today I’m going to say detail. Not excessive detail, but those sharp, specific details that bring stories to life. The level of detail in a story enhances so many other elements: character, setting, emotion, pretty much everything except plot. And a good plot, poorly told doesn’t make for a good story. Evocative writing is what engages me as a reader.

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

Liz: A local author was kind enough to read an early draft of the first novel I wrote (the epic fantasy). She gave encouragement but advised me to seek out workshop opportunities to get detailed feedback for the many things I now realize were very novice mistakes. It was hands down due to her advice that I started on the right road to becoming a professional author. I followed her advice and joined a 10-week online workshop led by a well-published author. I’ve been a part of critique groups in one form or another almost constantly since that time, as well as attending conferences and workshops when possible, especially during my early years of writing.

Kaye: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Liz: Don’t write in a vacuum. Along the same lines as the advice I was given when starting out, I feel it’s hard to be objective about what you’re writing without some external input and feedback. Find fellow writers who are genuinely invested in helping to improve your work and, hopefully, at least some who are further along the career path than yourself. We know how we intend our work to read, but without a sounding board, it can be difficult to know if we’re succeeding.

Kaye: As a fantasy writer, what kind of research do you find yourself doing for your stories?

Liz: As a reader, I’m a huge stickler for logistics so it’s very important to me in my writing that I get details right in my own books. Not just big things, like avoiding plot holes, but small details, too. You never know what expertise your readers might have and, as a reader, I hate having my suspension of disbelief suddenly ruined in the middle of a story by a detail that’s blatantly wrong. So, yes, I get lost down research rabbit holes all the time. I research online mostly, but I’ve been known to read multiple textbooks for a novel as well as reaching out in person to experts or sensitivity readers.

Kaye: What can your readers look forward to in the near future? What are you working on now?

Liz: My current work in progress from L. D. Colter is the next in my mythology-based novels, this one centered around Slavic paganism. It’s a contemporary fantasy (working title: When the Winds Sing) set in far Northern California, near where I lived for 12 years. There are many wonderful settings and inspirations in that area, and I’m looking forward to playing with them all. The book is about 1/3 written and I hope to have the first draft completed before too long.

I hope, in time, to get back to an epic fantasy set I started and set aside some time ago. I had other projects needing attention, but it’s well started and has a concept and characters I still love.


Liz has followed her heart through a wide variety of careers including draft-horse farmer, field paramedic, Outward Bound instructor, athletic trainer, and roller-skating waitress, among other curious choices. She is a two-time Colorado Book Award winner in Science Fiction/Fantasy, a Writers of the Future winner, and her short stories have been published in a wide variety of magazines and anthologies. She writes contemporary and dark fantasy as L. D. Colter and epic fantasy as L. Deni Colter.


I want to thank Liz Colter for joining me here today and sharing so much about writing in the fantasy genre. You can learn more about Liz and her books on her website or her Amazon Author page. Join me next month, as we celebrate Superheroes and Supervillains, and my “Chatting with the Pros” author guest will be fantasy and science fiction author Kevin J. Anderson.


You can catch the monthly segment “Chatting with the Pros” on the third Monday of every month in 2019, or you can be sure not to any of the great content on Writing to be Read by signing up by email or following on WordPress. Please share content you find interesting or useful.


Interview with author Alan Dean Foster

 

Alan Dean Foster with Mayotte brown lemur. M’bouzi island, French Comoros. Photo credit to Michael Medford.

Alan Dean Foster with Mayotte brown lemur. M’bouzi island, French Comoros. Photo credit to Michael Medford.

Today my author guest is a multi-genre author who dips into the western and weird western genres on occasion. He’s published over 100 books, including novelizations of several well-known science fiction films, such as Star Wars, Alien, and The Chronicles of Riddick. He’s also credited with the first ever book adaption of an original video game in his novel, Shadowkeep. He’s a New York Times bestselling author and he’s joining me here to share a few tidbits about the weird western genre, writing a novelization of a movie, and his latest book, Mad Amos Malone and other weird western works. Please welcome author Alan Dean Foster to Writing to be Read.

Kaye: The majority of what you write is science fiction or fantasy, so obviously these are your preferred genres, but you have western tales thrown into the mix here and there. What is it that draws you to the western genre?

Alan: For one thing, I have lived the past 40 years in a famous western town: Prescott, Arizona. Virgil Earp was the marshal here. Doc Holiday’s mistress, Big Nose Kate, is buried in one of the local cemeteries. The Palace Saloon, the oldest operating saloon in Arizona (since 1877) is here. And much more. You cannot live in such a place without soaking up some of the historic atmosphere. Also, like most kids of my generation, I grew up watching TV westerns in the ‘50’s. Hop-along Cassiday, The Lone Ranger, and more.  My favorites were the Cisco Kid (“Hey Pancho!…Hey Ceesco!) and Disney’s Zorro.

Mad Amos MaloneKaye: You have a collection of short western stories out that have a strange twist. What is so different about Mad Amos Malone?

Alan: Folks are fascinated by the mountain men who explored the American west. I thought it would be interesting to develop one who acts and lives like your typical mountain man, but who is considerably More Than He Seems. When you like a character but are never sure how he will react in a given situation it adds tension to a story. Think the character of Mike in “Breaking Bad”. Not quite what he seems. Also, in the end, thoroughly bad ass.

Kaye: In 1985 you wrote a novelization of the movie Pale Rider, with Clint Eastwood. How did that come about? Did you get to meet any actors from the movie? Did you consult with the screenwriters during the writing? What was the most difficult thing about doing a novelization?

Pale RiderAlan: Authors of film adaptations rarely get anywhere near a movie set (though I have, on occasion). Certainly I never met or consulted with anyone attached to the movie.

For me, the most difficult thing in doing a novelization is to expand on the characters without contradicting the characterizations in the film itself. That, and remaining true to the spirit and style of the filmmakers while simultaneously injecting a little bit of myself here and there. You always have to be aware.

Straight Outta TombstoneKaye: You have a story in Straight Outta Tombstone. The anthology is listed as fantasy, but its stories have kind of a western twist. Would you talk a little about that book?

Alan: The stories are fantasy with, generally, settings in what is called the American West. I think it would be more accurate to called them westerns with a fantasy twist.  Fantasy or science-fictional takes on actual history are a lot of fun to do, and can often be thought-provoking. Call it the “What if the South had won the Civil War”? trope, only often with more recognizable fantasy elements.

Kaye: What’s the most fun part of writing a western novel or short story? What’s the least fun part?

Alan: Working with actual western history. Many of the Mad Amos stories take place in actual western settings and involve real folks from history. Just with the occasional witch, dragon, Chinese demon, visiting gnomes, etc.

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

Alan: Mornings, because I’m fresh, and also because I prefer to go to gym in the afternoon. But I will work late if and when necessary. And if an idea hits me, I’ll head for the study no matter what time it is.

Kaye: What is the biggest challenge of being a writer?

Alan: Not getting bored with your own work. And persisting even when you are.

Kaye: What is the one thing in your writing career that is the most unusual or unique thing you’ve done so far?

Alan: I think my historical novel MAORI, which takes place in 19th-century New Zealand. That’s a long way from writing science-fiction or fantasy. Very hard to research such a subject from Prescott in pre-internet days. Might also consider SHADOWKEEP, which was the very first novelization of an original computer game.

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

Alan: Character. If your characters aren’t interesting, then you’ve lost the reader no matter what kind of language, special effects, settings, or action you employ. True of any kind of writing, be it theater, film, prose, even commercials.

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

Alan: When I made my first two short story sales, to August Derleth and John W. Campbell. I figured if two giants in the field thought my words worth buying, I might have a shot at doing it full-time.

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

Alan: Don’t make your heroes too powerful (Campbell). You can be interested in Superman, but it’s hard to empathize with him. Hence the need to invent kryptonite.

Kaye: Which is your favorite type of writing? Short fiction or novels?

Alan: I enjoy them both, but if pressed I’d have to say short stories. Get the idea down and out fast and dirty. I also very much enjoy writing non-fiction. Essays, movie reviews, history, etc.

Kaye: What is next for Alan Dean Foster? What are you working on now? Any more weird westerns in the future?

Alan: No weird westerns at the moment. Putting together The Complete Mad Amos Malone was a bit of a project in itself.

Forthcoming: April – The Unsettling Stars – original Star Trek novel set in the Kelvin universe.  Later this year: Madrenga – original fantasy novel from Wordfire PressThe Director Should’ve Shot You – non-fiction; a history of my involvement with film novelizations from Centipede Press.

Hopefully next year: Mid-Death and other tales of the Commonwealth – a collection of all the short stories set in the Commonwealth, featuring the never before reprinted Midworld novella “Mid-Death”, from Haffner Press.  Short story “The Treasure of the Lugar Morto” – Analog; no date yet.

Forthcoming at a future date: the completed Commonwealth novel Secretions and the stand-alone SF novel Prodigals.


I want to thank Alan Dean Foster for sharing with us here as we delve into the weird western. It looks like his work is cut out for him for the next couple of years. Obviously, many writing tips and tricks are not restricted to a single genre, but can be applied across them all. You can learn more about Alan and his books on his website or his Amazon Author page.


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Chatting with the Pros: Interview with western author Cherokee Parks

Chatting with the Pros

My author guest today on “Chatting with the Pros” is a seasoned western author who has written many, many western novels and been quite successful. He lives and write by the western creed that he grew up with. He’s a cheerful guy with a good sense of humor. Please welcome Cherokee Parks.

me_book covers


Kaye: You believe in and stand behind some good old fashioned values and live by the code of the west. How do these things come through in your writing?

Cherokee: In every story, the main character does the right thing in every single circumstance. Even when characters like Colton Raines (the Colt’s Justice series) or any of the Creed family (the Creed Novels) are forced to kill large numbers of opponents, it’s done to save others, or to protect they and their family or possessions. They respect women, the law, the nation and all it represents – even in spite of possibly having been on opposite sides during the Civil War. They expect the same from everyone else, and accept no compromise. They always speak the truth, and if they can’t, they keep their mouths shut. They are never afraid to speak their mind, short of intentionally hurting a friend, unless that friend needs a wake-up call. They give both compliments and criticism sparingly, and only when necessary. They never give their word if they can’t keep it. They know that they can’t get along with everyone, so they don’t even try. And they all know how to laugh, mostly at themselves.

Kaye: You have co-authored several books along with other western authors, such as Scott Harris, whom I interviewed last year. What is the most difficult thing about co-authoring a story?

Cherokee: Actually, there have not been any truly co-authored books, only those where credits are given for inserting a foreword. Only once have I ever attempted to co-write a book, but things just didn’t work out. We envisioned completely different events and character development, and never got past the first chapter together. I have, however, had the distinct pleasure of co-writing a good number of songs, and found it very gratifying being able to feed off another person’s input. So would I work with another author to create a book? Honestly, probably not, as I already have a basket full of story ideas, as well as several books already in the works. I don’t know how I’d squeeze in the time to work with another author, although I think the creative juices might get a real boost, depending on how I got along with the co-writer from the beginning.

Kaye: What draws you to the western genre?

Cherokee: Growing up cowboy and around the western lifestyle, it was a natural changeover for me, and what I had always wanted to write. Unfortunately, I was very good at writing mysteries and suspense, and got pigeonholed by my publishers at the time – both saying “Westerns don’t sell.” Well, Westerns DO sell, and I’m enjoying a very happy resurgence of my writing career. It’s easier and far more enjoyable to write about things one knows and loves than to create things someone else wants an author to fantasize about on paper.

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

Cherokee: Mid-morning until mid-afternoon, while the two grandchildren we’re raising are in school, but I can write just about anytime, anywhere, when the inspiration strikes.

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

Cherokee: I’d love to once again have lunch with Louis L’Amour, as I learned more about my craft from him in a day than I did squirming in a seat during all those college class hours. Although I did study under James A. Michener, and enjoyed his classes, what I learned from him was about styles and research, but little about actually being creative. Michener taught strict adherence to storylines, only diverting if research showed it was necessary, while L’Amour had no idea where a story would go until after it was written, like myself.

Kaye: What’s the most fun part of writing a western novel? What’s the least fun part?

Cherokee: Wow! There are just so many fun parts to creating a western. Finding out where the story goes, and how it ends is a blast, as I never really know when I start out. Imagining how different characters react to situations is also a lot of fun. What’s not fun is having one of your books just sit on the market, not moving, not selling, just sitting there gathering dust. Although really poor reviews are also a knock, often a real punch to the gut… But I’ve learned from those knocks too, as the old commercial told us, “never let ‘em see you sweat…”

Kaye: How do you decide the titles for your books? Where does the title come in the process for you?

Cherokee: That’s difficult to say, really, as sometimes a book is created based on the title, while other titles are taken from a place or event that emerges in the book itself. And there have been times when a title needs to be changed, even after the work is published. Titles are among the hardest parts to creating a story, as a good story can die without a good title to launch and carry it. On the other hand, sometimes a story is soooo good, it doesn’t really matter what it’s called.

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

Cherokee: How much time do you have? Seriously, I started out my career as an author of mystery and suspense, trying to fit into the most popular publishing mold of the time, mostly as a result of my publishers at the time insisting on my creating such stories. Eventually, I tired of writing what they wanted, and then having stories sell well while the publishers made all the money using “creative bookkeeping” while I received a mere pittance – not even enough to live on.

I stopped having any work published for over fifteen years, giving up completely on the honesty of the publishing business, though I still wrote stories. The difference was, I wrote to please me, not the publisher. One day, while I was writing a particularly interesting story, a friend stopped by, and insisted on reading what I had written up to that point. Now normally, I pretty much discount what family and friends say about something I’ve written, as I believe them to be absolutely biased. But that particular friend was very critical, and if he liked it, well… Not wanting to go the publisher route, I self-published. Epic fail. I’m an author, not a publisher.

So when a small publishing house opened near me, I presented the story to them. They jumped on it, and I became their third signed author. Over the next year, they published four more of my stories, but their management absolutely sucked. Given an opportunity to guide them, I was appointed Executive Director, lasting nearly five years at the job before they were forced to shut down due to IRS problems unrelated to the publishing side of things.

In a way, it was the best thing in the world for me, because I once again had time to write, something I had all but given up on while working with the books of many other authors and wannabes. But now, I had the writing bug again, and needed to find a publisher. After a couple of mistakes, I finally landed with a really good publisher specializing in the western genre (Dusty Saddle Productions), who had a great publicist (Nick Wale at Novel Ideas) under contract. I couldn’t be happier!

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

Cherokee: I guess I was about thirteen, when I wrote a short story for an English class assignment. I had a lot of fun writing the story, and when our teacher had me read it to the rest of the class, I was embarrassed, but hooked. That teacher was a friend and understudy to James A. Michener, and gave it to Michener to grade. Michener drew a big star on it, penned a message, “Keep up the good work”, and signed it. Had I not been hooked on writing before that, I was after. I’ve been writing since then, with the two aforementioned lapses, continuing to try to perfect the craft.

Kaye: Do you travel to the places that end up in your books?

Wyoming Cowboys and girls.Cherokee: Yes, absolutely. In fact, I took a clue from L’Amour about knowing the geography and climate I include in my books. As a result, I only write about places I have been, doing my best to remain true to the area. But I also use a bit of artistic license in my stories. For example, in Hard Ride to Cora, set in the Green River basin of Wyoming, I slipped in a cave that doesn’t exist. Sometimes one has to enhance the story with little details that may or may not exist, but I do my best to “keep it real,” even though all I write is fiction.

Kaye: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Cherokee: Never depend on what family and friends say about what you create, as they are completely biased, and 99% of the time they don’t wish to hurt your feelings, or already believe anything you do is great just because you did it. Get outside opinions as your guide. Study the craft of writing, trying to make yourself the best you can be at it. ALWAYS give your work to an editor, as even the very best English teachers make mistakes when they write. But don’t allow the editor to change your style, only to correct your English (except dialogue), your punctuation, and all too often your sentence structure. Just make sure you improve with every attempt, and learn to accept honest criticism for what it is, not for what you want it to be. But above all, NEVER stop writing!

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

Cherokee: Hmmm… Other than I don’t have a clue where a story will go, or where it will end up when it’s finished? I don’t think so, but then again I suppose we each have our little idiosyncrasies when we write, but we’re far too close to the source to know what is “unique” or “unusual” about our process. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

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

Cherokee: Sleep… eat… Actually, in my younger and healthier years, I enjoyed hunting and fishing, exploring new areas, being around horses and dogs, just generally living the Western lifestyle. But now I’m old and half crippled up, suffering from the ravages of time, so I’ll go with my first two answers. Sleep… eat… But I will add that staying alive is real big on my list of things to do everyday now…

Kaye: As a western writer, what kind of research do you find yourself doing for your stories?

Cherokee: Mostly digging back into my memory banks and photo journals, though I do use a great deal of online research to confirm what I know already or think I know about history, clothing and weapons in use during the era I’m writing in. I have no choice, as my memory isn’t quite what it used to be. Additionally, finding historical documents, maps or writings that detail certain places and events, be they weather events or something of a physical/historical nature, always serve me well, and at times even help with my creativity.

Kaye: If one of your books was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

Cherokee: I suppose that would have to depend on which of my books was chosen… I think they’d all make great movies, but that’s the writer in me thinking I’m that good… For example, it would have to be a middle-aged man to play Jake Laughlin, while it would require a man in his twenties to play Mick Swinney from Hard Ride to Cora, and a very tall man to play Thomas “Tree” Bell in The Trader… Now, if I could chose which book was made into a movie, I would say Hard Ride to Cora, as it was my first full-length western, although the Colt’s Justice series ranks right up there, as does the Creed series and the brand new series, The Trader. But to pick an actor to play the lead in any particular book? I don’t think I’m capable. I’d leave that to the casting people, as that’s their job, and I’ve got my hands full just writing.

Kaye: Would you like to talk briefly about your latest books? (Those you sent covers for.)

Cherokee: Hard Ride to Cora was my first published Western, and will likely always be my favorite as a result. Besides, it’s a really good story involving a host of characters from many different backgrounds, and if I ever get time I’ll be able to write at least another half dozen stories based on those characters.

No_Town_for_OutlawsNo Town for Outlaws actually prompted a prequel (Silver, Gold and Blood in Arizona), and both books have sold consistently – and well – featuring a family of fast guns, including the women, bent on making certain the law is upheld, and good people are given a chance to live free.

Trader_cover_10_14_19My biggest Western hit so far is really a mountain man tale, The Trader, with the second book in the series due out early in March. The Trader sat in the #1 spot on Kindle in the Old West History of the U.S. category for over three weeks, and as of this writing is still at #3.

Kaye: How did you chose your pen name, Cherokee Parks?

Cherokee: I guess the easy answer would be—sentimentality. When I was a young teen, my father and I used to deer hunt in an area of Northern Colorado called Cherokee Park. They were some of the best times I had as a young man, and some of the best times spent with my father before he lost his health. So when it came time to create a new pseudonym for my western stories, Cherokee Parks was one of five I started out with. I kept narrowing the list down until only Cherokee Parks remained, mostly to honor the wonderful memories I shared with my father, and of him.

Kaye: Why did you choose to take a pen name?

Cherokee: It was a simple thing. In order to keep the genres separate, as well as multiple publishers back in the day, I used pseudonyms. I decided to continue using pseudonyms when I started writing again for some very personal reasons, primarily using Cherokee Parks to honor my father’s memory.

Kaye: Do you think it helps you sell books?

Cherokee: Yes, frankly, I think a good author’s name can help, depending on whether or not it fits the genre.

Kaye: What are you working on next?

Cherokee: Currently, I’m working on a sequel to No Town for Outlaws, called Death at Devils River, featuring the Creed brothers on a mission to help out an old friend facing disaster from a gang of Mexican banditos. I’m really enjoying it, and hope my readers will as well. Death at Devils River should be out by the end of March or early April.

Kaye: What do your readers have to look forward to in the near future?

Cherokee: Within the next ten days, I should have the second book in The Trader series back from the editor, meaning it will be released within a week of that. The first book in the series is subtitled West to the Stony Mountains, the second book subtitled Of New Life, War and Peace, and a third book already in the planning stages (as much as I ever plan a story!). I stay busy, and have at least a dozen story concepts floating around in my mind at any given time, as well as having anywhere from two to half a dozen at various stages of development or publication.

I have to say, Kaye, this was one of the more fun interviews I’ve had, and I appreciate not being buttonholed with my answers by your providing open-ended questions. Honesty is always the best policy, though not every writer has had the pleasure of enjoying life as much as I have. I’ve lived a hard life at times, but always a good life, even though there were times when I had no idea where my next meal would come from, or where I might be sleeping that night. But by the grace of God and the aid of friends, I made it through the hardest of times, making my current success all the sweeter. Thank you!


I want to thank Cherokee Parks for sharing here on “Chatting with the Pros”. He really came up with some great answers which are somewhat enlightening. It has been wonderful chatting with a seasoned western author, and it instills confidence to know that we share the same publisher. Nick Wale and Dusty Saddle have been great to work with. You can learn more about Cherokee and his books on his Amazon Author page or his Goodreads Author page. Join me next month on “Chatting with the Pros”, when the theme will be fantasy, and my author guest will be L. Deni Colter.


You can catch the monthly segment “Chatting with the Pros” on the third Monday of every month in 2019, or you can be sure not to any of the great content on Writing to be Read by signing up by email or following on WordPress. Please share content you find interesting or useful.


Interview with erotic romance author Jade C. Jamison

Bullet

My author guest today makes her living writing erotic romance under a pen name, and prefers to display the cover of her bestselling novel, Bullet, the first book in her Rock Star Romance series, (see my review of Bullet), rather than an author photo in order to conceal her real identity. (When you like at it that way, authors can be kind of like superheroes, taking assumed identities. You’ve gotta admit that’s pretty cool.) We may not know who she is behind the book cover, but we do know that she’s written over fifty books to date, and when perusing them, one is sure to find one that’s just the preferred temperature, because she writes in them all, from sweet romance to sizzling hot erotica. Please welcome erotic romance author Jade C. Jamison.


Kaye: Why do you write erotic contemporary romance? Would you ever consider writing any other genre? If so, which one?

Jade: It took me forever to puzzle out exactly what genre I wrote.Back in 2013, the term “erotic romance” seemed to most capture what I wrote, but the “E” word is now becoming taboo.(I’m smiling as I write this.)Nowadays, the genre is being called “steamy contemporary romance,” although that may change yet again. But, anyway, I digress. Not only would I consider writing in other genres, I have. Within romance, I’ve written everything from romantic comedy to romantic suspense. Outside romance, I’ve written horror and nonfiction, but under another name, I’ve penned mystery, news writing, instructional pieces, academic literature, and even poetry.

Kaye: Does erotic romance come naturally to you? Why does it appeal to you to write in this genre?

Jade: I don’t know that writing romance comes naturally to me. Ten-plus years ago, I found that, no matter what I wrote, some aspect of romance became part of the story. So even though I have a tale to tell and even though the relationship is the key element in the story, making sure I have all the facets that make a romance satisfying to avid readers of the genre is not always easy, and it’s definitely not organic.

Why it appeals to me?  I haven’t a clue. I’m sure a psychologist would have a heyday with me.

Kaye: What is the most difficult part of writing erotic romance for you? What part is the most fun?

Jade: Sex scenes are, by far, the hardest. They easily become the most tedious part as a reader as well. From some of my conversations with other authors, I don’t believe I’m alone. You want to keep things fresh, so to speak, and non-repetitive while at the same time you want to keep readers emotionally engaged. It’s easy to mess that up in those sorts of scenes—so I put a lot of pressure on myself to write scenes that are emotional and engaging.

The most fun part is when a character surprises me.  I think I know where the story is going and then BAM!  She does something completely unexpected, but I know it’s working and there’s no way I’ll change it.

Kaye: Which of your stories is your favorite? Why?

Jade: Sorry if you’ve heard this from me before, but asking me to choose a favorite story is like asking me to choose a favorite child.That said, I do have some stories that I don’t like as well as others, but my lips are sealed. Some of the stories I like the least are reader favorites.

Kaye: Your sex scenes range in temperature from steamy, to sizzling, to blazing hot. What determines how hot the scenes get in each story?

Jade: Part of it depends on the story itself. In my bestselling book Bullet the sex scenes got hotter as the story moved on. That was one of the ways I let the reader know the main character was maturing. It mostly depends on what I think readers will expect. Am I billing the book as super steamy (like Finger Bang), or am I emphasizing the story itself (like Savage)? But, honestly, I always thought they were all pretty close in steaminess. I guess I’m too close to the forest!

Kaye: Do you prefer to write during the day, or are your stories so hot they can only be written at night?

Jade: I actually do almost all of my writing in the early morning, from about 5:30-6:30 am. It’s the only quiet time I have and I find I’m far more creative when my brain is fresh.

Kaye: You’ve written over fifty books. What is the writing achievement are you most proud of?

Jade: I don’t know that I’ve “achieved” anything as an author, other than sharing my stories with the world.I guess, though, that I’m currently proud of my growth as an author. I’ve really taken a step back in an effort to realize that being prolific isn’t nearly as important as transporting a reader to a different world—so I’m proud of not letting my pride stop me from learning!

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

Jade: I enjoy playing Pokemon Go.I used to play Pokemon games with my kids when they were little, and now they have me playing this silly game on my phone!!!

Kaye: In 2019, you released books 3 and 4 from your Matchmaker collection. They are described as Reverse Harem Romances on their covers. I can see lots of potential for steamy action there. Would you like to talk a little about this story collection?

Matchmaker series

Jade: I’d taken a couple of marketing courses the year before, compelling me to “write to market”. So, I looked through Amazon’s top 100 contemporary romance books and found that Reverse Harem Romances were dominating at the time. At first, I thought that meant a literal harem, but with a woman surrounded by men. I discovered through my research that that’s not quite what Reverse Harem is all about. I like a challenge, so I decided to go for it. One of the courses I took is by one of the bestselling indie romance authors in the history of Amazon, and she advised writing a series with cliffhanger endings at the end of each book. That was another challenge. So, that’s the nuts and bolts of the series.

The story itself is about Claire, an actress struggling to make it in Hollywood. She tries out for a reality TV show called Matchmaker, hoping that if the right people see her, they might give her a chance as an actress. If nothing else, she’s bound to meet the love of her life. Her suitors are five gorgeous men who’ve been “guaranteed” to be a perfect match, but the audience gets to determine who stays and who goes. And, yes, there’s quite a bit of steam between the covers.

Kaye: I reviewed Heat: Book 1, which was really a short prelude to a larger story that will change the way you think about getting a message forever. But there is more to the story. Would you talk about Heat: The Complete Series?

Complete Heat

Jade: Heat was another challenge I couldn’t say no to.  Several years ago, I was approached by a publishing company in Australia about republishing one of my older series, and I did that with them.  While it never neared the level of success they’d promised, a year later they approached me about something new they were doing, inspired by stories James Patterson had been writing.  The basic premise for the romance stories was that you write a short but intense “intro,” followed by three more books, all following a particular formula—but very hot with cliffhangers at the end of each short book.  I really liked the idea, so I pitched what became Heat.  Unfortunately, it didn’t perform as well as I had hoped, so I took back my rights to it after a year and republished it.  

So what you read in the free first part, Heat: Book One, is the beginnings of a steamy romance between Sergio and Rachel.  Rachel is actually a character from Finger Bang, and I’d been inspired to write a story about her for a long time.  When I was approached by this publishing company, I thought her story might be perfect for the format they’d talked about.  Because it’s shorter and steamier, there’s not as much depth to the characters, but that wasn’t the idea behind the series.  It’s meant to be intense, somewhat shocking, and super steamy.  Fun.  No ugly crying, no heart-wrenching moments.  Just pure, unadulterated fun.  What you read in Heat: Book One is a prelude to the rest of the story.  If you enjoyed the first part, you’ll love the complete story. 

Kaye: What is next for Jade C. Jamison? What can your readers look forward to?

Jade: The biggest problem for me is I have so many things I want and need to write, and so little time.  I literally have over fifty book ideas outlined, but I’m currently working on a project. It’s a series called Small Town Secrets. I’ve taken about thirteen of my books off the shelves, and I’m re-purposing them. In an effort to be an even better writer, I’m rewriting eight of those books, but they are now all interconnected in this series. My review team has read the first one (Love and Lies) and loved it. I’m hoping to release six of those books in 2020.

I also have one book left in the Nicki Sosebee series. Book 12, Wake Up, ended on a cliffhanger, and so I can’t keep my readers waiting for too long. That book is fully plotted and I promise it will be satisfying! I just need to write it. But, I also have several other series I need to finish (Feverish, Codie Snow, Tangled Web), so we’ll see what I can tackle. I would love to write a lot more this year (like I said, fifty ideas and counting!) but I have a lot on my personal plate, so it all depends on how much I can get done in the time I have. I’d cross my fingers, but I can’t type while I do that!

Kaye: (See my review of Tangled Web)


I want to thank Jade for joining me here and sharing today. It has been a real pleasure. I learned a few things about writing erotic romance and hopefully my readers did, too. This interview is the perfect way to finish up February’s erotic romance. And thank all of my readers for reading and commenting on Writing to be Read. I hope you will all saddle up and join me again next month, when we plan to wrangle up the western genre. See you here.


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Chatting with the Pros: Interview with contemporary romance author Amy Cecil

Chatting with the Pros

My author guest this month on “Chatting with the Pros” is a talented romance author of both historical and contemporary romance novels. Her Knights of Silence MC series tells the story of the sometimes violent and brutal world of motorcycle club life with characters who feel very human and vulnerable at times. The series is a tale of love and loyalty, and yes, there’s some tastefully written, but quite erotic sex scenes. (You can see my review of Sainte, the last book in the MC series.)  I also had the pleasure of  reviewing Ripper, which was one of the most cleverly crafted romances I’ve ever read. To turn a Jack the Ripper tale into an erotic romance takes some talent. Erotic romance author Amy Cecil did with a well crafted hand. I’m so pleased to be able to chat with her today. Please join me in welcoming her.


Amy Cecil - Erotic Romance Author

Kaye: Why do you write in the romance genre?  Why not science fiction, or fantasy or mystery?

Amy: I initially chose romance because that is what I have always read. I do not read science fiction and doubt that I could even write in that genre. As I wrote more books, I have intertwined other genres into them such as fantasy, romantic suspense and ever mystery. So even though I started with romance, I’ve always been open to other genres that interest me.

Kaye: What is the most difficult part of writing romance for you?  What is the most fun?

Amy: I would have to say the most difficult thing with romance for me is finding a relationship scenario that isn’t over saturated in the market. For all of us romance readers, we are always looking for something fresh. We want that happily ever after, but finding the angst to get to that point can be difficult.

And, the most fun part of romance for me is the banter between the couples. I love to bring snarky attitudes together and have a battle of the wits, so to speak.

Kaye: Your Knights of Silence MC series chronicles a motorcycle club over the course of several years.  As you read the series you get better acquainted with each of the members, which have well developed backstories that make the whole of the story seem very real and believable.  What drew you to these stories with these characters?

Amy: That’s a great question. And actually pretty funny how the series got to where it is now.  When I started, my focus was on Ice and Emma, childhood sweethearts that great apart who found each other again. It was gonna be one book.  When I got to about half way through the book, my PA at the time suggested that I release it, even though it has this huge cliffy. So I did, which then created book 2. That was supposed to be the end. But as I was writing these characters and their story lines grew, I realized I had more to say.  Never in a million years at the beginning did I think that Honey would be such a pivotal character in the series to warrant he own book. So the draw was Ice and Emma and the continuing development came with each book released from my mind.

Kaye: You recently released the last book in the Knights of Silence MC series, Sainte.  Can you talk a little about Sainte’s part of the Story?  Why was he chosen for the central focus character in the final book?

Amy: When the series started to lean toward Honey, I realized that male character that I had intended for her was completely wrong for her. She needed a saint, literally to save her from herself. And while Hawk was the most beloved character in the series, he did not have the mental strength to get Honey through.  And I just couldn’t let him sit around and watch her with another man. So, Hawk had to die and make room for Sainte. Sainte is a former mafia hit man who knew Ice when he was a kid. He is Emma’s cousin, which she didn’t know about. So he had a reason to stay with the MC from the beginning.  When he met Honey, he realizes quickly, she is the woman for him and he decides to stay and leave the mafia world. (Not that it is all that different. LOL). Sainte brings the story full circle, bringing the club the peace it has been wanting for a long time.

Kaye: As I mention in my review of Sainte, your characters are well developed with rich, believable backstories.  Where do you draw your characters?  How do you create with their stories?

Amy: As noted in questions 3 and 4 above, their stories come to me as I write them. I keep referring back to Honey, but she is a perfect example. When the series started, she was nothing, but the jealous ex-girlfriend. By the time we get to the third book, her story line develops and the reader sees she is the most complex character in the whole series.  She’s a recovering coke addict, struggling with her addiction every day. She wants love so bad she can taste it, but is terrified to grab the bull by the horns and take it when it’s offered to her. As the story grows, my characters grow and develop stories of their own.

Kaye: Although the series focuses on the male members, their “old ladies” play important roles as well, offering an abundance of strong, if flawed, female characters.  Why do the ladies play such an important role within the framework of your stories?

Amy: Well, you know the old saying, “there is a strong woman behind every man.” I wanted my female characters to be as strong as their male counterparts. Because these women are connected to the MC, they are surrounded by violence. They have to be strong to survive. Emma comes to the MC in ICE a very naïve young woman. By the end, she gives new meaning to the term “old lady” and could definitely have a patch of her own.

Kaye: Who is your favorite MC Character and why?

Amy: At first, I would have to say Caden/ICE all the way. And don’t get me wrong, I love him because he is the heart of the MC. He’s strong and protective and the kind of guy that when he holds you in his arms you feel safe. But then, Sainte came along. Sainte is everything that Ice is, but Sainte has that snarky personality that I love. He’s not afraid to tell it like it is and if he’s hated for it, he will just smile and walk away. Yes, definitely Sainte.

Kaye: The MC world is often dangerous and violent.  As a result, throughout the series several characters have had to die.  Is it difficult for you to kill off your darlings? Who was the hardest for you?

Amy: Several minor or past characters have died and frankly, I didn’t even bat an eye. When the realization hit me that I had to kill Hawk, that one was difficult. He was a major player in the story line and very much loved character by my readers. And believe me, I thought of several ways to keep him, but I just couldn’t get it to work with how I wanted the story to go. So he died. It was hard, but it would have been so much harder to kill Ice or Sainte, or even one of the girls.

Kaye: You also write historical romance.  Are those stories a bit tamer than you contemporary romances?

Amy: Yes, definitely.  My historical romances are Jane Austen FanFic and I think the hard core Jane Austen fans would have heart attacks if I made them as steamy as my contemporary romances.

Kaye: Your erotic scenes are done tastefully and in context for the story, yet you turn up the heat just enough to make them sizzle. How do you know how far to take your sex scenes?  How hot is too hot?

Amy: That’s an easy question. I think about what I like to read and go from there. I have read several books where every other page is a sex scene and that is just ridiculous. Many authors think sex is what sells your book, but I disagree. Readers want a story that they can sink their teeth into. They want to relate to their characters and that is really hard to do if they are screwing like bunnies the entire time.

I also believe that you want to leave the reader wanting for more in a particular scene. We all have an imagination and I believe that sometimes it is best to let the readers mind take over and make the sex in the book what they want.

Kaye: You are finished with the Knights of Silence.  What is next for Amy Cecil?  Is there a new series in the works?

Amy: Currently, I am working on a sequel to On Stranger Prides, which is a Pride and Prejudice variation titled On Familiar Prides. After that, I have a short story I wrote last year in an anthology about a WWI spy that I would like to develop into a full-length novel. As far as the Knights series goes, I definitely plan to expand on it. I currently have one spin-off series published, the Enemy Duet, but I also see others as well as a next generation series. I know for a fact, I can not stay away from my biker boys for very long, so definitely expect more in the future. I’m also working on making all my books available on audio, so that has kept me pretty busy as well.

Kaye: You are an award winning romance author.  What do you feel is your biggest writing accomplishment to date?

Amy: Wow, you really save the toughest for last. I always thought that my writing was measured by the number of reviews, or the awards won, or even that pretty “bestseller” orange banner you get from Amazon. And yes, I have lots of reviews, awards and have had a couple orange banners and I am thankful for every one of them. But when I really think about accomplishments in my writing, none of these apply. Sure, they are great and all, but what I am most proud of is my readers. And it’s not just because they read my books, but because of the people and the friendships I have developed with them. I have met some amazing people through this journey and I can say, it’s not the awards, or the reviews or the “bestseller” banners that keep me writing, it’s the readers.


I want to thank Amy for taking the time to share today on Writing to be Read.  Romance comes in many different shapes and sizes. In her Knights of Silence MC series, it comes in the form of big, tough bikers and their girls. Her characters are well developed and feel very realistic and relate-able so readers come to care about them, and her sex scenes have just the right amount of heat to make them erotic, but not feel over the top. It has been a pleasure chatting with her here and getting a glimpse into the workings of contemporary erotic romance series. Join us next month, when the theme will be the western genre and my “Chatting with the Pros” author guest will be Cherokee Parks.


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