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

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

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

What is your favourite poem and why?

Winter Chill

Stood and listened

to birds tweet and whistle

had breakfast to make

day to begin

stuff to do

but standing

in winter chill

at the back door

harmony

stopped me

hope flew in

melodious infusing during a winter chill

trees still bare

yet birds were there

dulcet air

momentary loss of care

cold days

soon to part ways

winter hard is exiting

birds returning

spring soon erupting

green grass, pleasant breeze

flowers, butterflies, bees

replacing freeze

shivering, I shut the door

musical deliverance once more

Behind the poem

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

Please share a poem you enjoy and why you enjoy it

This is just to say by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten

the plums

that were in

the icebox

***

and which

you were probably

saving for breakfast

***

Forgive me

they were delicious

so sweet

and so cold

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

What are your plans for your poetry going forward?

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

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

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

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

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

My review of Avian Friends by Yvette Prior

What Amazon says

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

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

My review

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Avian Friends

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

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

About Yvette Prior

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

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

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

About Robbie Cheadle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find Robbie Cheadle

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

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

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

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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


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

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

What is your favourite poem?

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

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

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

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

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

Here it is below for your reading enjoyment.

Ever Lost in the Moment

By Patty L. Fletcher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope you enjoy it too.

“Ice Cream on the Fly”

By Patty L. Fletcher

May 14, 2021

Ice Cream on the fly.

Sun shining bright in the sky.

Laughter on the air.

Happiness everywhere.

Kids got a sugar high.

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

Ride the merry-go-round round and round.

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

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

Back in the van rolling home with the setting sun.

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

Home again, out we all flow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because you never know when they will return to you.

What are your plans for your poetry going forward?

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

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

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

I hope it’s OK to share.

If Only a Moment

Patty L. Fletcher

 January 22 2018

They stood, their backs to the world, safe.

 Even if only for a moment, happy and content.

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

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

His voice, deep and rich.

They move through the house, talking in each room.

Stopping in the hall for a kiss.

Going onward into the study.

There, only a moment.

Moving as one to the bed.

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

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

As they flow together, their passion runs deep.

Her mouth on his.

Their bodies become one.

They melt together in the molten lava of their sex.

Their hearts fly.

Their passions rise.

Her need peeks.

His fullness she seeks.

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

After, they stand.

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

What is your favorite poem?

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

Here it is below for you.

A Poetic Apostrophe

By Joan Myles, Annie Chiappetta and Winslow Parker

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

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

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

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

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

Now for the Poe poem the trio studied

A Valentine

Edgar Allan Poe – 1809-1849

     For her this rhyme is penned, whose luminous eyes,

         Brightly expressive as the twins of Loeda,

     Shall find her own sweet name, that, nestling lies

         Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader.

     Search narrowly the lines! —they hold a treasure

         Divine—a talisman—an amulet

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

         The words—the syllables! Do not forget

     The trivialest point, or you may lose your labor!

         And yet there is in this no Gordian knot

     Which one might not undo without a sabre,

         If one could merely comprehend the plot.

     Enwritten upon the leaf where now are peering

         Eyes scintillating soul, there lie perdus

     Three eloquent words oft uttered in the hearing

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

     Its letters, although naturally lying

         Like the knight Pinto—Mendez Ferdinando—

     Still form a synonym for Truth—Cease trying!

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

This poem is in the public domain.

And below are the individual apostrophe poems written in response:

A Raven’s Dark Valentine

By Ann Chiappetta

There is only one poem I like, the

One with chilled somberness and a raven

This one, though, bores me

Taunts and jabs my intelligence 

like the ebon beak

of the more Popular poem.

When I think of you

The sitcom comes to mind, you know

The one, with the altered family

Who lives on Mockingbird Lane. 

And I snicker, recalling

the family’s clock that should have

held a   black forest cuckoo.

I only wish what was once thought clever

Will never be more.

The Tell Tale Valentine

by Joan Myles

right off the rhythm grabs me line by line

a beating heart of sorts this valentine

but just as quick a mystery you pose

the name of your beloved to disclose

Greek allusions bleak confusions play

as I attempt the task and lose my way

I must confess I find it all a bore 

your raven spoke with wisdom” Never More”

Poe’s Poem

By Winslow Parker

So, Mr. Poe,

Acknowledged mournful poet and macabre storyteller,

You wrote a love poem to Miss Frances,

Who died young,

Just like your tragic heroines.

You hid her name,

In the heart of your poem,

A clever way of declaring your love.

But then you spoiled it all with:

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

Did you think so little of her intellect,

Her knot untying skills,

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

In the presence of your mighty wit?

Is that love?

4/26/22

©2022 Winslow E. Parker All Rights Reserved

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

Why do you like this poem?

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

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

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

The Puppy Grew Up and Became

Once upon a time long ago,

When you were very small you know.

In the morning’s early dawn you were born,

But all too soon from your mother you were torn.

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

You learned the neatest and  most awesome tricks.

So much more than chasing sticks.

You learned to sit to rest to lay,

You learned to obey in every way.

You did all these things so very well,

And every day you grew.

All too soon your life changed again,

And you made another new friend.

He was your teacher, your very own guide.

Would you forever walk by his side?

No! This was not to be.

You learned all you could from him,

And then,

You were given to me.

Fast we became best of friends,

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

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

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

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

What Amazon Says

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

My review

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase links

Amazon US

About Patty L Fletcher

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

PATTY’S BLINDNESS…

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

WHERE SHE LIVES AND WORKS…

Currently, Patty lives and works in Kingsport, Tenn.

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

WRITING GOAL…

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

HOBBIES…

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

FAVORITE TUNES…

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

FAVORITE READS…

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

SPIRITUAL FAITH…

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

CONTACT…

Email: patty.volunteer1@gmail.com

Visit:  https://pattysworlds.com/

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find Robbie Cheadle

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

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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


Ask the Authors 2022 Book & Blog Series: Publishing

Ask the Authors 2022

Welcome back once again to the “Ask the Authors 2022” blog series, where we’re offering glimpses into the content of Ask the Authors 2022 writing reference anthology; a unique reference packed full with the writing tips and advice from ten different authors and myself. The Q & A sessions can run a bit long, with all of the contributors weighing in, but they are only a small taste of the wisdom contained in this book. I want to thank all of you who have joined us for each session and keep coming back for more. If you haven’t purchased a copy of your own yet, there’s a link for the UBL at the end of this post, where you can grab one from your favorite book distributor at the special send-off price of 3.99 for the duration of this blog series.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today’s segment brings you an introduction to award winning author and publishing industry expert Mark Leslie Lefebvre, whose contribution to the anthology is “Publishing Trends to Watch” and a Q & A session on Publishing. So let’s get started.

Meet Mark Leslie Lefebvre

A self-confessed book nerd, Mark Leslie Lefebvre, who is a former President of the Canadian Booksellers Association and the former Director of Self-Publishing and Author Relations for Rakuten Kobo (and founder of Kobo Writing Life), thrives on innovation and excellence within all aspects of the publishing and bookselling industry.

With more than a quarter century of experience, Mark has been involved in bookselling as it evolved from strictly bricks and mortar operations and into online and digital venues, and has continually been at the forefront of applying digital solutions to publishing and book selling.

An author who has embraced both traditional and self-publishing opportunities for himself as well as the thousands of authors he has coached, advised and consulted with over the past two decades, Mark not only believes that each author’s journey is individualized and personal, but that each specific project a writer embarks upon can have its own unique goals, elements and desired outcomes.
He can be found online at www.markleslie.ca

And now on to the Q & A.

Publishing

Are you independently published, traditionally published, or a combination of both?

Mario Acevedo: I’m traditionally published by a large and regional/small presses.

Paul Kane: Combination of both. I started out in the small, indie presses, before working with some of the bigger places, so I like to go back there and write fiction for them when I can. Plus, it gives me a bit more freedom to experiment or write something that might not be that commercial; because the indies don’t have the same kind of print runs as bigger publishers there’s a bit less pressure to appeal to huge audiences. The flip side of that is you get read by a lot more people when you’ve done something for a bigger publisher, simply because they have the money to put behind advertising, production, distribution and marketing. Having said that, I still try to do as much of that as I can myself – I never assume it’s all being done for me. I’ve been known to set up blog tours myself, even when working with bigger publishers because sometimes the personal touch is what bloggers and book reviewers respond to.

Bobby Nash: Both. I’m what they call a hybrid author. I work for traditional publishers of all sizes. I also have my own indie small press, BEN Books.

Robbie Cheadle: Most of my books are published by TSL Publishers in the United Kingdom. I love working with Anne Samson and find her fair and helpful. I self-published Open a new door, a collection of poems which I co-wrote with another South African poet, Kim Blades. I did not enjoy the self-publishing experience and prefer to work through a publisher.

I have short stories and poems published in a number of anthologies which have been published by the editor and compiler through their own publishing enterprises.

Nancy Oswald: A combination.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre: I am a combination of both traditionally published books, independently published books, as well as a hybrid mix of selling work to or collaborating with indie publishers in a slightly traditional way.

What factors influenced you to take your chosen publishing route?

Paul Kane: Things just seemed to slot into place for me, rather than choosing a particular route. I went to art college thinking I’d go into some kind of career in the arts, but it turned out I was better at theory than the practical stuff, so I went to university initially to study History of Art, Design and Film. While I was there, I chose an optional module called ‘Professional Writing’ and loved it, which led me into the journalism – and I figured I could at least make a living writing non-fiction that way, with articles and reviews.

Because I was writing for the day job, I thought I’d do some stories for pleasure – and they ended up being published too, in small press magazines. Then the fiction started to overtake the non-fiction, and the rest is history.

I don’t think I consciously chose any of that, it just sort of happened. I definitely didn’t think to myself when I was younger ‘I’m going to be a writer when I grow up.’ That, honestly, never even crossed my mind because I came from a very working class background where you did manual jobs like being a builder or joiner or whatever. My dad was a miner, so his was a hard job – especially compared to mine – but at the same time he never discouraged me going down the creative route. He did, however, instill in me a solid work ethic which I still have today. 

Bobby Nash: When I started, doing it yourself was not as accepted as it is today. Working for a publisher was the only way to get a book published at the time. Fast forward and there are more options. This allows me to do some projects the way I want through my own press and still do work for other publishers as well. For me, it truly is the best of both worlds.

Robbie Cheadle: Initially, I submitted my Sir Chocolate story ideas to four or five small publishing houses and TSL Publications responded to say they were interested in publishing them for me. I was fortunate as I didn’t experience a lot of rejection and I benefited from the experience and expertise of a publisher right from the beginning of my journey.

Nancy Oswald: For me it’s been like water finding its way through a channel. My course had often determined by which barriers are encountered, force and velocity, and other influencing factors like an unexpected change in the weather, excessive rain, drought, and human factors.

Please briefly share the story of your own publishing journey.

Paul Kane: A lot of that’s covered in the above, but if I’ll take you through from when I started to get stories accepted in the small presses to today… When I got back into writing fiction again in the ’90s, which had been something I enjoyed tinkering with back in my teens, I wrote a lot of short stories. Some of them worked, some didn’t, but it was all practice. I’d been doing a correspondence course to help with my non-fiction and my fiction, and I sent the tutor a story I’d written that had come to me, fully formed, in a dream: ‘The Cave of Lost Souls.’ She loved it and told me I had to send it off somewhere. I’d been toying with the idea of entering it into a writing competition, but then I saw an advert in a trade magazine for a publication called Terror Tales. I sent the story off to the editor, John B. Ford, and he wanted to use it in an upcoming issue. He also lived locally, so invited me to a gathering of writers. I sat around listening to all these stories about what they were doing and thought to myself, ‘wow!’ But also, if they’ve done it, maybe there’s a chance for me too. They gave me pointers as to which publications to try my work with, where I could find listings and so on. That led to more acceptances, attending more events and eventually getting a couple of collections out. I also found out about something called The British Fantasy Society who were looking for volunteers for positions, one of which was for Special Publications Editor. That enabled me to work with such names as Ramsey Campbell, Neil Gaiman, Muriel Gray and Clive Barker. I was helping out running their convention FantasyCon as well, and indeed years later ended up co-chairing a few. In the meantime, someone I’d met at an event – Jonathan Oliver – was looking for ideas for post-apocalyptic novels set in a universe called ‘The Afterblight Chronicles’, mass market books brought out by the publisher he worked for, Abaddon/Rebellion. I pitched a few and Jon loved the Robin Hood idea. I worked up a chapter breakdown, which got me the first book – there ended up being a trilogy of novels a couple of shorts and novelettes and one novella – and suddenly my longer fiction was getting some attention. I’d also gone into editing professionally, putting books together with Marie for places like Simon & Schuster, PS Publishing and Constable & Robinson. Anthologies like Hellbound Hearts, A Carnivale of Horror and The Mammoth Book of Body Horror… All of this enabled me to try my hand at things like film and TV scripting, comics, audio and theatre scripting, which broadened the scope of what I was doing. And it led me into writing crime thrillers for HQ/HarperCollins, which I’m doing today as PL Kane. In a nutshell, that’s my journey.

Bobby Nash: I started writing comic books. I then wrote a novel, then a second, which was published, Evil Ways. Then, I did a mix of comics, novels, and shorter stories for several years. These days, I’ve added screenplays and audio scripts to the mix. I like to try new things.

Nancy Oswald: Published, two large publishers, one it Canada and one in New York, published small Colorado owned publisher, self-published twice, each time for a different reason.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre: I started off in the mid 1980s when there really was no other choice but to submit short stories to magazines in order to slowly build yourself a name within writing and publishing and hopefully attract the attention of an agent or editor who might take your book proposal seriously because of your proven track record.

After years of rejection my first short story was published in 1992. I earned $5 USD and a contributor’s copy of the digest-sized quarterly magazine with a circulation of perhaps 500 people. And as time went on, I started selling to bigger markets with larger distribution and higher pay. (At the time 5 cents a word was considered a “professional rate” for a short fiction sale).

Over the years I sold dozens of stories to various small press magazines and anthologies, but my work never remained in print for more than maybe six months maximum. So, in 2004, I collected a number of my previously published short stories along with a couple of ones that hadn’t appeared anywhere, and I self-published them in print (using Ingram Lightning Source for making a Print on Demand (POD) book entitled One Hand Screaming.

Back then self-publishing was a dirty word, and most self-respecting authors serious about a writing career would ever consider that path. All of my friends who had publishing deals with big publishers told me that self-publishing was the best way to kill my writing career.

But I did it anyway.

I did so because after all those years of writing, I still didn’t have a book out. In addition, the majority of the stories had not only already graduated from the slush piles of the various magazines they’d first appeared in (thus having an editorial “seal of approval” but they had also been edited.

I secured an ISBN, established a publishing company (Stark Publishing – which I use to this day), had a logo for the company created, and had a book cover designed. (The cost for the logo and book cover was about $24, the price of a case of beer paid to my best friend who was a graphic designer.

In 2009, I used the Stark Publishing imprint to publish an anthology called Campus Chills. I solicited sponsorship for this anthology from three university bookstores (University of Waterloo, University of Alberta, and McMaster University Bookstore) so I could pay contributors pro rates for their original stories. The book was a historic publishing first. It was the first professional anthology to be produced exclusively for the Espresso Book Machines that the three bookstores owned.

My first full length book traditional deal was Haunted Hamilton, which was published in 2012 by Dundurn, Canada’s largest independent publishing house.

Since then, I have continued to work with traditional publishers and also use my Stark Publishing imprint to publish my own books as well as a few selected titles from author friends. 

What do you see as the pros and cons of traditional/independent publishing?

Paul Kane: The pros of traditional publishing are, as mentioned, more money behind things like advertising and marketing, distribution and so on. You’ll also likely get paid more as an author. The cons are the restrictions of the marketplace, in that you’ll have to deliver something that’s more of a crowd-pleaser than you would if it was only intended to be a limited book of say 500 copies. That’s where the indies shine, because they’re more likely to take a chance on something experimental. But don’t look for fortunes that way, if that’s your goal. I straddle both traditional and indie and adore both. I’m lucky enough to enjoy writing mass market thrillers, and at the same time put out horror books with huge monsters in. The best of both worlds, frankly. If, by indie, you mean self-published, I’ve never done that, but I know a lot of people who do – some make a very good living at it – so there’s nothing wrong with that either. Do whatever makes you happy as a writer, I say, because that will come across in your writing.

Bobby Nash: Traditional publishing handles the production work, which is nice. They handle the cover, printing, and distribution. If the publisher has good distribution, that’s a big plus. The more places your book is shelved, the better your odds in terms of sales.

Indie publishing offers more freedom to do what you want with a shorter lead time. You handle production, cover, and there’s usually only Amazon and a few on-line retailers carrying your book.

No matter which you choose, you, the writer, are expected to handle almost all of the marketing and promotion.

Robbie Cheadle: Working with a publisher taught me a lot about the publishing process and spared me having to do all the research and experimentation myself. I find it beneficial to have a second set of experienced eyes read and edit my books. My publisher gives me advice about formatting my books and also deals with Lulu.com and Amazon on my behalf. This lifts a lot of the administration from my shoulders. As a full-time working person with a demanding corporate job, I don’t think I would manage the proofing, type-setting, and other administration on my own as well as have time to write and market my books. My publisher also does some marketing of my books which is helpful.

Nancy Oswald: It depends on personal goals, opportunities, and life’s circumstances. Money and control and time are issues that have played into my decision. Marketing is not. You still have to get out and promote yourself.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre: First of all, I embrace both, and I recognize that there are unique pros and cons for each of them. I’ll try to boil them down to a few things.

With self-publishing (or indie publishing), you’re in full control. You are the publisher, which means you control everything. Whether or not it’s published, when it is published, how it’s edited, the cover design, the price, what markets it is released to. That is both a blessing and a curse because there are a lot of moving parts; and many authors don’t like the idea of having to do all that work – or, more specifically, having to hire out the right people for those tasks and project manage the process.

On the plus side, because you’re in control, you don’t need to wait for a gatekeeper to anoint your book from out of a slush pile of millions of manuscripts. If you want to change something you don’t need anyone else’s permission, you can do it.

And, of course, you can earn much higher royalties (up to 70% in many cases) and get paid monthly rather than perhaps once a year or maybe twice a year.

The biggest downside to self-publishing is that while you have easy access to digital sales (eBooks, Audiobooks, and POD print book online sales), you have extremely limited access to “in store” and “on shelf” placement in bookstores. That’s one area where traditional publishing outshines self-publishing significantly.

Traditional Publishers are part of an “old boys” network of a complex and often confusing supply chain requiring warehousing and returns (a business practice instituted during the Great Depression and which remains to this day). But they are the best way to get your books into bookstores.

Dundurn, the largest traditional publisher I work with, not only gets my books onto the shelves of chain and indie bookstores, but has also gotten my books onto the shelves at Costco and Walmart. That’s something I’d never be able to afford to do as an indie author publisher. But with this type of distribution comes setbacks, that I’ll get to shortly.

Another great benefit of working with a traditional publisher is they take care of the majority of the business aspects. They have in house or hire out all of the professionals needed to bring a book to market. From developmental, copy, and line editors to proofreaders, to professional book formatters and cover designers, to in house marketing and sales (to pitch your book to bookstore buyers), they not only project manage all of that, but, more importantly, they pay for all of those services.

The advance an author receives from a traditional publisher is, typically, significantly smaller than it used to be. There was a time when a midlist author could make a full-time living off of their book advances alone. That has not been the case for many years.

Authors also have no idea how their book is selling. They may receive an annual, or perhaps twice-annual statement of their book sales, and are perhaps paid once or twice a year for the previous year’s sales. There is also a 30% withholding on those payments against the aforementioned returns. This means, for every $100 owned to you in royalties, they hold back $30 as protection against the cost of returns.

If I can use two examples of my own books, here’s a bit of a breakdown on earnings.

For one of my traditionally published books that sells for $24.99 in print, I earn 8% on each sale, which is about $2.00. I get paid for that once a year with 30% withheld for a full year. I’m not even going to talk about the eBook sales as that’s a joke and barely adds up to enough sales to even talk about (because most traditional publishers don’t sell a lot of eBooks because they price they high enough to drive people to buy the print version, which is often cheaper, or just a dollar or two more than the eBook price).

For one of my self-published books, which sells for $14.99 in print, I earn $3.20 per sale. But I don’t sell a lot of print on my self-published books. The majority of my sales come from eBook sales. When I sell an eBook for $4.99, I earn $3.49. And I get paid on those sales every month, as opposed to once per year.

One thing most authors misunderstand is that they think working with a traditional publisher means you won’t have to do marketing. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Authors have to do their own marketing regardless of how a book is published.

One last thing I always consider when thinking about the pros and cons of traditional publishing versus self-publishing:  If it’s important for me to earn money and sell a lot of units in a digital manner where I’m in control, then I self-publish. If it’s important for the book to be in print and on bookstore shelves, then I look at traditional publishing. Because each book I write, or plan on writing has its own unique path often depending on my goals and how they relate to those factors.

Which formats are your books available in: ebook? Print? Audio? Hardback? Large print? NFTs?

Mario Acevedo: My books are available in print, ebook, and audio. My few hardbacks are out of print.

Paul Kane: All kinds, it just depends which book it is. Most are ebook and print. Some have had audios made of them, like The Rot from Horrific Tales. Encyclopocalypse have turned a lot of my back catalogue into audios, but also published a recent collection called The Naked Eye as an ebook and print, paperback and hardback. So it really does depend on what book it is and who brought it out. Doing searches for Paul Kane, PB Kane – my YA pseudonym – and PL Kane will come up with a bunch of stuff from me.

Bobby Nash: I have books available in hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audio. For BEN Books, I make an effort to get the books in as many formats as I can so readers can find it. On projects I do for other publishers, I don’t always have a say in format.

Robbie Cheadle: My YA and adult books are available as ebooks from Amazon and Lulu.com and as paperbacks from TSL Publications in the UK, Lulu.com, and Amazon. My children’s books are available as ebooks from Lulu.com and as paperbacks from TSL Publications in the UK, Lulu.com, and Amazon. My two poetry books are available from Amazon as paperbacks and ebooks and Behind Closed Doors is available through a variety of other distributors too.

Nancy Oswald: Ebook, print, both hard back and soft cover. It has varied from book to book. I’d love to have audio versions of my books, but I don’t think there would be a market for the ages I write for.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre: My books are available in eBook, Print (trade paperback, hardcover, large print) and Audiobooks. Not all titles are available in all formats. And, ironically, my self-published titles are available in more formats than my traditionally published books.

I also have a small selection of self-published titles available in an NFT-type model and will likely expand that over time.

If your books are available in audio format, which distribution platforms do you use? Can you tell us about your audio book experiences?

Paul Kane: Usually Audible, though a few have come out as CDs as well. Her Last Secret was a CD release, as well as a download. I tend to just let the publishers get on with that, as they know more about it all than me. Sometimes I get sent audition clips from people who want to do the narration, and indeed I was put in touch with the guy who did the narration for Arcana from Wordfire Press, Robert Power, because he wanted to ask some questions and I spent a very pleasant evening on the phone chatting to him. But generally, I don’t really have anything to do with it, other than I might listen to some actors reading bits of the book and say which one I prefer or who I think suits the story best.

Bobby Nash: Audible is the biggie. We have also experimented with other audio publishers. I love audio books and have been blessed to work with some fantastic narrators. I love audio and will keep putting them out in that format as long as I can.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre: I primarily use Findaway Voices for audiobook distribution to more than 40 retail and library markets.

When it comes to audiobooks, the expense to produce them is quite high and I’m currently in a position where I’m thousands of dollars in the hole on earning that money back. But for me it’s a long-term thing, that I know will earn out over time. For me, it’s a long-term investment.

Are your books available wide or exclusive to Amazon? Or a combination of both? Why?

Paul Kane: Most, if not all, of my books are on Amazon, but also available from the publishers themselves too – as well as from all good bookstores. Again, I don’t really have much to do with all that as bookselling isn’t my field. I leave it to people much more qualified than me to sell my wares, I just write them in the first place!

Bobby Nash: A little of both. For BEN Books titles, the ebooks are exclusive to KDP so they can be enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. This is a way for me to promote the books to those who subscribe to KU to try my books for free and still make a few pennies. Paperbacks are at Amazon, B&N, Books-A-Million, etc. I also have an on-line store where you can buy autographed books from me directly.

Nancy Oswald: Back to marketing—Amazon on all of them, but I have them in as many local venues as possible; Book stores, gift shops, local stores.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre: I am wide beyond the limited perspective of “wide or exclusive to Amazon.” I could go on for hours, days, and weeks explaining it. You’re better off reading my budgie-basher of a book released in 2021 called Wide for the Win: Strategies to Sell Globally via Multiple Platforms and Forge Your Own Path to Success.

What factors help to determining the pricing of your book?

Paul Kane: I have absolutely no idea honestly. My second thriller, Her Husband’s Grave, has been available for about a year now at just £2 in paperback – and I have no idea why. I’m just delighted it is, because it’s been my biggest seller to date. It’s something to do with price matching, but I have no idea how it all works.

Bobby Nash: The base cost is your starting point. From there, you see the cost the bookstore or Amazon will take. Then, I round up a bit. I make about $1.50 profit per book. That’s why sales quantity is important.

Robbie Cheadle: My publisher prices my books and I am not able to run promotions for free or discounted downloads of my ebooks.

Nancy Oswald: I look at similar books and make my best guess about the market. On my two most recent books, I considered inflation.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre: When it’s a self-published title (ie, when I get to determine the price), it’s a combination of understanding the markets (the global markets, and not just the US markets) and the genres. So country, genre, size and format of the book all play a factor in determining the right price.

One thing I like to remind authors is that they should think of price as a verb rather than a noun. It’s fluid, and can and should change over time to match market conditions and other factors.

Which self- publishing platforms have you used? Please tell us about your experiences with them?

Bobby Nash: I mostly use Amazon/KDP. I have used Smashwords for ebooks in the past and Lulu for hardcovers. The experiences are generally good.

Robbie Cheadle: I have only self-published through Amazon, but I had assistance with the typesetting, cover, and administration.

Nancy Oswald: Only KDP (Create Space first, then KDP) Great experience both times. Books look good, hold up, and I like the POD aspect of ordering.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Again, for a blow-by-blow of the majority of them, read Wide for the Win. It’ll take dozens of pages to try to go through them in detail.

But in a nutshell, by default, here’s how I self-publish.

  • I publish direct to Amazon via KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) for eBook and Print
  • I publish direct to Kobo via KWL (Kobo Writing Life) for eBook (and for selected audio titles)
  • I publish direct to Google Play for eBook (and for selected audio titles)
  • I use Draft2Digital for distributing to numerous other eBook retail platforms (Apple Books, B&N Nook, a handful of others), and most of the major library platforms (OverDrive, Baker & Taylor, hoopla, Bibliotheca, BorrowBox, etc) as well as for print via D2D Print (which is partnered with Ingram Lighting Source)
  • I also do print distribution via a combination of Ingram Spark and Ingram Lighting Source direct. (This is a side effect of being doing it for so long that I have different titles in different systems based on what was and wasn’t available at the time)

When seeking out a traditional publisher, what should an author look for? What should they beware of?

Paul Kane: I think you need to look at the publishers who are releasing books like the one you want to write and sell. You probably wouldn’t approach a religious publisher with a book about demons or zombies, say, but one that’s had some success in this area would definitely be more open to it. As for things to be aware of, run a mile if any agent or publisher asks you for money to look at or publish your book. They should be paying you, not the other way around.

Bobby Nash: What does the traditional publisher offer? If you like what they can do for your book, then go for it. Do they help with promotion? Do they offer an advance? What is their distribution platform like? Where are their books sold? Ask questions and research before signing. Reach out to other authors they publish and ask questions. Never pay to be published though. That’s not traditional publishing.

Robbie Cheadle: I am very careful of the publishing contract. I do not want my characters and ideas becoming the property of the publishing house and my stories continuing to be written by another writer if I die. I retain the rights to my characters in my publishing contracts.

Nancy Oswald: For me, I was lucky to find a small publisher who liked what I wrote. So, I’d say look for a good match. Do your homework in terms of other books the publisher puts out. When I started out, I targeted only big companies with a name, but have since learned that there are lots of small and mid-press companies that can be rewarding to publish with. With that said, trust is a huge issue. I entered into one joint publishing enterprise with my small press publisher, but that is only because we had similar goals and years of trust built up before we agreed to do this. There’s never a crystal ball, and I was lucky. Besides researching the publishers and their lists, you might consider locating and reaching out to some of the authors a certain publisher has worked with and ask them about the publishing experience they’ve had with company X. I have a friend who publishes with X Libris which some experts say you should NEVER do. But she has had a great experience, now has 6-8 books out and is completely happy. Find the publishing match that fits your goals and project.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre: First and foremost, if it’s a proper traditional publisher, the money should always flow TO the author from the publisher, and NEVER, EVER, from the author to the publisher. No exceptions. If there’s any money paid to a publisher, they’re not a real publisher, no matter how much they protest or wave their arms around and explain some asinine and convoluted reasons for it. End of story.

Anyone can hang up a shingle and call themselves a publisher, but if they do not have “old school” traditional publishing supply chain distribution through bookstores where there’s a very likely chance and easy availability for the book to be stocked in a bookstore, they’re typically not offering you any better chance of having a book in stock in a bookstore than you can do on your own. (Yes, they might pay for editing, design, etc, but the “in store” distribution is a MAJOR hurdle).

Also be aware of signing over the rights to formats that the publisher is not actually using. IE, if they want audio rights but don’t publish audiobooks, don’t sign away your audio rights. You can earn more selling them to someone who does.

Any publishing advice for new authors?

Paul Kane: Just to hang in there, and never give up. It can be a hard business with ups and downs, so you need a thick skin and you need staying power. It’ll happen for you eventually if you’re good enough and just keep going. Also, don’t take rejections personally; it’s all subjective and what one editor hates another might love. Just look at some of the big releases that have been rejected so many times before being given a chance.

Bobby Nash: Have fun and enjoy the experience. Yes, writing is my job and there are days it’s a tough job, but t’s still a job I love. That’s what keeps me going.

Nancy Oswald: Just start, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way. Do your homework if traditional publishing is what you want to do. Go to conferences and take advantage of one-on-one interviews with publishers and agents. When a book is returned, even if it’s a form letter without comments, sit down and re-write your book all the way through. You’ll be surprised at how those re-writes will improve your writing.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Patience, Practice, and Persistence are three of the main traits needed for a long-term publishing career. Also, you’ll never stop learning and there is no magic bullet for any of the hard work that is required to be successful. So, stop wasting your time looking for one.

Publishing, regardless of whether or not you choose traditional publishing or self-publishing/indie publishing (or, ideally, some combination of both), takes a lot of work, a lot of constant learning and re-learning, and dedication to continuing to work at it even when nothing seems to be working or all the cards are stacked against you.

To get through those times, which will happen to every single writer as the markets continue to shift and change and bend and flow, you need to believe in yourself and never give up on the dream and desire. And, ideally, if you get intrinsic pleasure in the act of actual writing itself, that could be enough to sustain you through the process during those “dry” periods.

What are the advantages of creating your own publishing imprint? Do you recommend it? Why or why not?

Bobby Nash: I started BEN Books to get some of my older, out of print works back into print. Eventually, I realized that I could launch projects there that I might not be able to pitch to a traditional publisher. When I started writing crime novels, I was known for doing comics, sci-fi, horror. It was a hard sell to convince publishers I could write a crime thriller. BEN Books became a way to get those stories told. Now, I’m more known for the crime thrillers. Go figure.

Nancy Oswald: The jury’s out for me on this. I just recently created an imprint and registered it with the state of Colorado. I have no idea what I’m doing, and it’s weird for me to associate with and imprint and not myself as an author which I’ve done most of my years publishing with a small press.

Do you use crowd sourcing or subscription services to fund your publishing endeavors?

Paul Kane: A couple of things I wrote have had Kickstarters, but they’ve been a short film and a comic and the people behind bringing them to life have handled the campaigns. All seemed to go well, though, so I can’t complain.

Bobby Nash: I haven’t crowdsourced any novels yet, but I’m considering it for a box set next year. I’m still working out the logistics. I do have a Patreon page ( www.patreon.com/bobbynash ) that works like a subscription service.

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That’s all for this week’s “Ask the Authors” blog segment. Thank you all for hanging with us. Next Saturday we’ll be wrapping up this Saturday series with an introduction to YA and middle grade author, L. Jagi Lamplighter, whose anthology contribution discusses “The Trouble with Troupes”, and a Q & A session on the most formidable of subjects, book marketing.

This must have writing reference is available through Barnes & Nobel, Rahkatan Kobo, the Apple Store, Amazon, Scribd and many more. As the “Ask the Authors 2022” blog series is drawing to a close, be sure to get your copy of Ask the Authors 2022 at the special send-off price of $3.99 for the digital edition, from your favorite book distributor through the Books2Read UBL: https://books2read.com/u/3LnK8e

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

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

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

https://www.puckpublishing.com

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

Introduction

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

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

https://www.puckpublishing.com

Give-Away!

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

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

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

Interview with author Sara W. McBride

Why do you write?

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

Please tell us a bit about your publishing journey?

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

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

What made you decide to self-publish?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is there anything unique or unusual about your writing process?

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

Is your writing process plot driven or character driven?

Sara: Character driven! Definitely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Besides writing, what are your favorite things to do?

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

What is the biggest challenge of being a writer?

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

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

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

Sara: Move to Venice and write more!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What goals do you set for yourself in your writing?

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

Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard

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

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

Guest Post by Author Sara W. McBride

Inspiration for “A Dowry for Saffron”

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ferrara city’s regimen against the plague

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

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

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

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

Something fun for readers:

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

Will Write for Wine

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

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

Hope for the Tarnished Book Blog Tours

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

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

Let’s Meet Ann Chiappetta

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

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

Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kaye: How did you decide on this title?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

$11.50/3.99 Purchasing links: Amazon/Kindle Smashwords

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

Day 1 : Writing to be Read – Welcome and Review

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

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

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Treasuring Poetry: Meet poet and author Abbie Taylor

Today, I am delighted to introduce poet and author, Abbie Taylor, to discuss her favourite poems and poetry in general.

Which of your own poems is your favourite?

“The Bedroom” is one of those red herring poems that makes you think it’s about one thing, then turns out to be about another. It illustrates how much my late husband Bill depended on me after suffering two strokes that paralyzed his left side. It’s my favorite because even today, almost ten years after his passing, I’m amazed that I was able to meet his needs for six years after his strokes, despite my limited vision. Here’s the poem:

The Bedroom

At three in the morning,

I’m mildly aroused

by the gentle touch of his hand.

He only has one good arm and leg

but still knows how to please me.

As he strokes me,

and I breathe the scent of his sweat,

I purr with anticipation.

The mood is shattered

when he whispers, “I need to pee.”

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

Every night, after I brought Bill home from the skilled nursing facility, where he recuperated after his strokes, he woke me at least once, sometimes more than once, during the night, because he needed assistance to sit on the side of the bed and use a urinal. He was never demanding during this time. He gently woke me by rubbing my back and shoulders. Once I was fully awake, he said, I need to pee.” After he heard me read the poem during a public event, when he woke me, he would say, “What does your poem say I have to do?” Eventually, he was able to use the urinal in bed without sitting up first. So, all I had to do was get up and empty the urinal periodically, which made life a lot easier.

What are your plans for your poetry going forward?

I don’t have any definite plans. I’ve put together several collections but haven’t had much time to do anything with them. I imagine I’ll eventually publish them.

What is your favourite poem?

I’m assuming you want to know about my favorite poem by another author. Well, that would be “The Lanyard” by Billy Collins. Here it is, along with a link to a video of him reading it.

The Lanyard

BY BILLY COLLINS

The other day I was ricocheting slowly

off the blue walls of this room,

moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,

from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,

when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary

where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist

could send one into the past more suddenly—

a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp

by a deep Adirondack lake

learning how to braid long thin plastic strips

into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard

or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,

but that did not keep me from crossing

strand over strand again and again

until I had made a boxy

red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,

and I gave her a lanyard.

She nursed me in many a sick room,

lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,

laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,

and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,

and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.

Here are thousands of meals, she said,

and here is clothing and a good education.

And here is your lanyard, I replied,

which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,

strong legs, bones and teeth,

and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,

and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.

And here, I wish to say to her now,

is a smaller gift—not the worn truth

that you can never repay your mother,

but the rueful admission that when she took

the two-tone lanyard from my hand,

I was as sure as a boy could be

that this useless, worthless thing I wove

out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

Why do you like this poem?

In a humorous way, it emphasizes the idea that our mothers do so much for us but we feel we don’t do enough for them.

About Abbie Taylor

Abbie Johnson Taylor is the author of three novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir. Her work has appeared in The Avocet and Magnets and Ladders. She lives in Sheridan, Wyoming, where, for six years, she cared for her totally blind  late husband who was partially paralyzed by two strokes soon after they were married. Before that, she worked for fifteen years as a music therapist in nursing homes and other senior facilities. During that time, she also facilitated a support group for blind and visually impaired adults, taught Braille, and served on the advisory board to a state trust fund providing adaptive equipment to blind and visually impaired children and adults.

Contact Abbie Taylor

Website: https://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com

Blog: https://abbiescorner.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Abbies-Corner-of-the-World-988391584616528/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Abbie-Johnson-Taylor/e/B00GDM1BWK/#nav-tophttp://

My review of The Red Dress by Abbie Taylor

The Red Dress is a lovely novel about a woman, Eve Sawyer, who has become a best selling author and has a devoted husband and three children, but who has never been able to move on from an unfortunate incident in her younger years when, in a fit of embarrassed irritation, she gave away the red dress that her mother had made for her to wear to her prom. Although Eve was goaded by her selfish roommate, Charlene, into giving her the dress, her mother has never forgiven her for this transgression and it has impacted heavily on their relationship. Her mother is now suffering from dementia and is being cared for in a home for the elderly, but she still remembers that Eve gave away this dress and holds it against Eve.

Eve wore the dress to her prom and she associated the dress with bad memories as her date had disappeared with her best friend, Adele, and she had found them in a compromising position in the back of his father’s car. Eve cuts Adele out of her life and has not contacted her in many years, even though Adele had returned to their home town to raise her son, conceived on the night of the prom.

The story starts with Eve receiving a Facebook request to connect with her old roommate, Charlene. She accepts the request, although she had doubts because she didn’t like Charlene. Before long, her daughter, Ashley, is in touch with Charlene’s daughter, Brenda, and the situation is irreversible. Eve is having her own problems with overwork and issues with her older daughter, Julie, who feels neglected as a result. Her husband is also irritated with her because he feels she favours their younger daughter and son and is harsh with Julie.

This is a story that tackles the themes of working mothers, unresolved grudges and situations from the past, raising teenage children, forgiveness, terminal illness, and death. The author does a good job of sharing Eve’s frustration at her mother and older daughter, irritation at Charlene for the trouble she has caused her, and hurt at Adele’s betrayal of their friendship.

Eve has to confront her negative emotions to resolve these lingering troublesome relationship issues from her past and move on with her future.

I enjoyed the character of Eve and found her to be realistic and relatable. Her situation vividly establishes the difficulties that can result from unsettled emotional problems from the past and juggling work and motherhood.

I enjoyed this story and would recommend it to readers of family dramas.

What Amazon says

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again. Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

Purchase The Red Dress

Amazon US

My review of How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver (Poetry)

How to Build a Better Mousetrap is a memorable book of poetry which covers two distinct time periods in the author’s life.

Part 1: On Being a Family Caregiver, revolves around the poet’s role as caregiver to her husband following his having two strokes, a year apart, and becoming partially paralysed.

The second section section of the book comprises of Part 2: Recollections, Part 3: Reflections and Part 4: In the End which describes through the medium of freestyle poetry, the various states of the poet’s life from her early childhood through to her old age. There is little mention throughout the book of the author’s visual impairment, but I am aware of it as I have previously read an anthology, Understanding edited by Stevie Turner, that disclosed this information.

The poetry in this book is compelling and quite fascinating in its honesty as the poet ventures to express feelings and emotions that many people might seek to hide. It is refreshing to read expressions of helplessness and even the occasional anger and resentment towards a set of circumstances that have so drastically and unexpectedly impacted on the poet’s life. These emotions are overwhelmed by the poet’s clear devotion and love for her partner.

These verses from three different poems in this collection illustrate this internal conflict:

“In the beginning, you knew all about me
which buttons to push,
how to hook me up,
install programs, fix problems.

Now, you hesitate,
push the wrong buttons.
When I don’t give you the desired response,
you beat my keyboard, proclaim I don’t work.”
From Before and After

“I open my eyes,
gaze upon his sweet sleeping face,
long to hold, kiss him,
caress his hair, his cheek.”
from Awakening

“I’ll never tell you you’re stupid
when you forget something or don’t understand.
I’ll never tell you you’re lazy
when you sit at the kitchen table in your wheelchair
while I fix dinner, clean up.
I’ll never tell you you’re a baby
when I must do most things for you.”
from Things I’ll Never Tell You

What Amazon says

In January of 2006, Abbie Johnson Taylors husband suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed on his left side. After months of therapy in a nursing facility, he returned home in September of that year. Although he still had little use of his left arm and leg, it was hoped that through outpatient therapy, he would eventually walk again. In January of 2007, he suffered a second stroke that wasnt as severe, but it was enough to impact his recovery. In August of that year, his therapy was discontinued because he showed no progress. He has never walked since.

The first five poems tell the story of how Taylor found her husband when he suffered his first stroke, detail events in the first few months afterward, and describe Taylor and her husbands reactions. The rest of the poems in the first part were inspired by Taylors experiences while caring for her husband. Covering such topics as dressing, feeding, toileting, their relationship, and his computer, they often provide a humorous outlook. Some poems are from the husbands point of view. Poems in the next two parts cover childhood memories and other topics. The last section of poems was inspired by Taylors fifteen years of experience as a registered music therapist in a nursing home before marrying her husband.

Purchase How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

Amazon US

About Robbie Cheadle

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find Robbie Cheadle

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

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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Treasuring Poetry – Meet poet and artist, Smitha Vishwanath

Which of your own poems is your favorite?

There are quite a few poems I like – some for the flow, some for the imagery and some for the memories they bring back with them, there’s one poem that has stood the test of time. It’s a poem I penned when my girls were one and three respectively. Seventeen years later, the girls have grown – each into young ladies with a distinct personality, but it’s beautiful how the description of them in the poem still holds true. It’s special because this poem is one thing that the girls agree about.

Tender Moments

I sneak silently into the room
A quick peak I take of my budding blooms
Their breathing soft – rises and falls, a melodious rhapsody
To the soothing sound of a Spanish symphony

Their countenance silken smooth; serene
Tugs my heart, an enticing scene
Each distinctly different, yet subtly the same
Contrasting as night and day; asleep, they look- Oh! So tame


Their striking silhouette, in the mellow moonlit night
Slightly stirring, they curl; enraptured I gaze at the sight
One’s creamy-white skin peeps from the warm woollen quilt above
And the other’s little chocolaty toe pushes its way from below


One, strong and athletic; the other, dainty and petite
Poles apart in every way; a miracle I behold, a divine treat

The window slightly ajar, lets in the wintry wind
Blowing their untied tresses over their satiny skin; I lean


O’er their tender frames, and sweep the bouncy, brown curls away 
And the silk-smooth strands of the other, as in deep slumber they lay

Both unique, both special, both a part of me
Peas in a Pod, they are and shall forever be

What inspired you to write this poem?

I had walked into the children’s room one night, sometime in 2008; the girls were asleep. The curtains were drawn, and the moonlight cast a soft glow on them. I looked at them and I scribbled a version of the poem in my diary. However, it was only later, in 2017, that I reworked on the poem and published it on my blog for the NaPoWriMo prompt, ‘Write a poem that explicitly incorporates alliteration,’ on 12th April.

What are your plans for your poetry going forward?

I co-authored a poetry book ‘Roads- A Journey with Verses’ which was published in 2018. My poems have been published in various journals since then, but I haven’t got to publishing a solo book as yet. I’d like to do that, but I have a lot of starting trouble, and so, it’s taken me longer than I expected, to do it. Hopefully, I can do it this year.

What is your favorite poem?

It’s difficult to choose a favorite. I have quite a few that never fail to speak to me. However, if I have to choose it will be Emily Dickinson’s ‘Hope is a thing with feathers’ (copied from the poetry foundation)

“Hope” is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –

And sore must be the storm –

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –

And on the strangest Sea –

Yet – never – in Extremity,

It asked a crumb – of me.

Why do you like this poem?

No matter how many times I read it I can not help being in awe of the choice of words, the simplicity and most importantly, how easily and perfectly ‘hope’ is described. Every line in the poem is a gem and anyone who has ever experienced ‘hope’ will vouch for it.

Roads: A journey with verses

ROADS : A Journey with Verses by [Vandana Bhasin, Smitha Vishwanath]

What Amazon says

“Roads” is a poetic rendezvous that takes the reader on a panoramic journey, making one pause, ponder and celebrate life.

The book is a light, alluring read that instantly strikes a chord and elevates one’s spirits. A trove of 60 poems, it is quilled with beads of nine virtues: Courage, Wisdom, Serenity, Love, Hope, Strength, Joy, Compassion and Gratitude. The verses encapsulate life’s ebbs and flows while prompting the reader to enjoy its simple pleasures.

“Roads” is a book that you would want to keep on your bedside, for a quiet read before retiring for the night or for the morning wisdom to seize the day. With poems revolving around emotions that each of us experiences, “Roads” very easily develops a personal connect with the reader that is defiantly refreshing.

“Roads” is a journey with verses. Take it on yours.

My review

Roads: A Journey With Verses is a beautiful book of mainly freestyle poetry written by Smitha Vishwanath and Vandana Bhasin. I have read and enjoyed a lot of poetry on Smitha’s blog in the past, but this was my first introduction to Vandana’s poetry.

I thought this was a wonderful combination of work by two talented poets and I enjoyed the different styles of writing by the two contributors. Smitha writes delicately beautiful poems in which her messages are subtly shrouded as if within a loving cocoon of words. Vandana’s writing is more strident and forthright, but I enjoyed her style equally and her strong messages for women’s rights moved me greatly.

This book is divided into sections as follows: Courage, Wisdom, Serenity; Love, Strength, Compassion and Joy, Hope, Gratitude. Each section is divided into subsections setting out an arrange of delightful poems in each subcategory. Each subsection is introduced with a short introductory verse which conveys its meaning for the poets and each poem is introduced with a paragraph setting out the the meaning and purpose of the specific poem to the writer. I really enjoyed reading about the inspiration and meaning behind each poem.

A selection of my favourite verses from this book are as follows:

From the sub-section Strength –

Believe in yourself by Vandana Bhasin

“They’ll laugh at you, and even ridicule you

They’ll even endeavor to enervate your spirits

But let the force of their dissuasion empower your faith

and the sound of their derision echo your beliefs

Believe in yourself, even when none believes in you.”

From the sub-section Compassion –

Help! She’s calling by Smitha Vishwanath

“Her eyes shone a tear, her lips quivered with

fear; down her face ran a scar, like a spear.

Her leg bruised, her hand bleeding, she felt a

shooting pain.”

From the sub-section Joy –

Tender moments by Smitha Vishwanath

“Their countenance silken smooth; serene

Tugs my heart, an enticing scene

Distinctly different, yet subtly the same –

Contrasting as night and day; asleep, they look

– Oh! So tame

Their striking silhouette, in the mellow moonlit night

Slightly stirring, they curl; enraptured, I gaze at the sight

One’s creamy-white skin peeps form the warm woolen quilt above

And the other’s little chocolaty toe pushes its way from below

One, strong and athletic; the other, dainty and petite

Pole apart in every way; a miracle I behold, a divine treat.

From the sub-section Hope –

Wings of freedom by Vandana Bhasin

“Wings of freedom are all I need

I want to live and not just breathe

I want to fly high like a bird

I want to dream big, not chase the world”

Purchase Roads: A Journey with verse

Amazon US

About Smitha Vishwanath

Smitha Vishwanath is your quintessential ‘bored banker’ turned writer. After a rewarding career in Banking in the Middle East where she worked for leading banks in senior positions, she quit and moved to India in July 2018 with her husband who had been transferred to the country on an International assignment. Therein began her writing journey.

‘Roads’ is the first book she has co-authored. Having lived and studied in different countries and different states within India and worked with different cultures, Smitha understands that ‘change’ and ‘ups and downs’ are very much a part of life. It is this experience that reflects in her poems and her writing which are filled with positivity, acceptance and willingness to change for the better.

She also writes regularly through her blog : https://lifeateacher.wordpress.com

Smitha’s art

Smitha is also a wonderful painter. I wrote a blog post about one of her painting that I have hanging in my bedroom here: https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/2021/07/10/a-new-painting/

You can find more of Smitha’s artwork here: https://www.spacesbysmithav.com/

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find Robbie Cheadle

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

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

______________________________________________________________________________________________

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.


Day 4 of the WordCrafter “Lingering Spirit Whispers” Book Blog Tour: Interview with author Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Lingering Spirit Whispers Book Blog Tour

Welcome to Day #4 of the WordCrafter Lingering Spirit Whispers Book Blog Tour, where we’re celebrating the release of the Lingering Spirit Whispers paranormal anthology set. This unique paranormal set combines three paranormal anthologies into a single set for ghosties galore, and you can get your copy here.

Lingering Spirit Whispers

Today we’re over at Un dawnted, where D.L. Mullen interviews contributing author, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, the only author beside myself to contribute stories to all three anthologies.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is writer of young adult and adult fiction in the supernatural fantasy, historical horror, and historical supernatural genres.To date, Roberta has published two novels, Through the Nethergate and A Ghost and His Gold, and several short stories in various anthologies including Whispers of the Past and Spirits of the West, and Where Spirits Linger edited and compiled by Kaye Lynne Booth, and Spellbound, compiled by Dan Alatorre.Roberta has a historical supernatural novel set during the Second Anglo Boer War in South Africa coming out in early 2021.When she is not writing, Roberta enjoys working in the garden and creating fondant and cake artworks.

Her stories of chilling encounters, “The Last of the Lavender” and “Missed Signs”, were featured in Whispers of the Past.

Cheadle also has two stories of paranormal encounters on treks through the South African bush are featured in Spirits of the West – “The Thirstyland Journey” and “The Ghost in the Mound”.

And her tale of the completion of business left unfinished, “Listen to Instructions” is featured in Where Spirits Linger.

You can join in on DL Mullen’s interview with Roberta over at Un dawnted here: http://www.undawnted.com/2021/12/wordcrafter-lingering-spirit-whispers_2.html

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Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


Day 3 of the WordCrafter “Lingering Spirit Whispers” Book Blog Tour: Interview with author Jeff Bowles

Lingering Spirit Whispers Book Blog Tour

Welcome to Day #3 of the WordCrafter Linger Spirits Whisper Book Blog Tour, where we’re celebrating the release of Linger Spirits Whisper paranormal anthology set. Connoisseurs of ghost stories will want to add this unique paranormal set to their collections. The release is today and you can get your copy here.

Lingering Spirit Whispers

Today we’re over at Un dawnted, where D.L. Mullen is interviewing contributing author Jeff Bowles, who has stories in two of the three anthologies included in this set.

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

His story “A Peaceful Life I’ve Never Known” was the winning story in the 2019 WordCrafter Paranormal Short Fiction Contest and is featured in Whispers of the Past.

And his story “Wenekia” is featured in Spirits of the West.

I hope that you will join us and follow the rest of the tour to learn more about the stories included in this set and their authors. Undawnted does not have commenting abilities, but feel free to leave any comments you have on the interview here: http://www.undawnted.com/2021/12/wordcrafter-lingering-spirit-whispers.html

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Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


Welcome to the WordCrafter “Lingering Spirit Whispers” Book Blog Tour: Interview with author Stevie Turner

Lingering Spirits Whisper Book Blog Tour

Thank you for joining us for Day #1 of the WordCrafter Lingering Spirit Whispers Book Blog Tour. This tour celebrates not one, but three different anthologies offered together in one anthology set. This unique paranormal set combines three paranormal anthologies into a single set for ghosties galore. A must have for lovers of paranormal fiction.

Whispers of the Past

As you may know, every year WordCrafter Press runs a short fiction contest, and each year there is a resulting anthology. For 2019, it was Whispers of the Past, with paranormal stories from contributing authors including myself, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, Stevie Turner, Laurel McHargue, Julie Goodswen and author of the winning story, Jeff Bowles.

Spirits of the West

For 2020, it was Spirits of the West, with western paranormal stories from contributing authors including myself, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, Jeff Bowles, Arthur Rosch, Tom Johnson, and author of the winning story, Enid Holden.

Where Spirits Linger

For 2021, it was Where Spirits Linger, with paranormal tales from contributing authors including myself, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, Stevie Turner, Enid Holden, S.L. Kretschmer, and author of the winning story, Christa Planko.

You can get all three in one anthology set, Linger Spirit Whispers, to be released on December 1 and available for pre-order now.

Lingering Spirit Whispers

And join us for the tour to learn more about the stories contained within these three paranormal anthologies and their authors. D.L. Mullen will be doing interviews on her Un dawnted blog site Monday through Thursday and we will finish up her with a guest post from 2021 contest winner, Christa Planko discussing the inspiration behind her winning story, “Olde-Tyme Village”, featured in Where Spirits Linger. Un dawnted does not have comments enabled, but feel free to post any comments you have on the interviews here. Interviews with authors Roberta Eaton Cheadle, Kaye Lynne Booth, Stevie Turner and Jeff Bowles will be featured. I hope you will join us today and follow us through the rest of the tour.

Today’s author guest is contributing author Stevie Turner, who has stories in two out of three anthologies included in this set.

Stevie Turner is a British author of suspense, paranormal, women’s fiction family dramas and darkly humorous novels, and likes to find subjects to write about that are not often covered. Stevie is married and lives in the wilds of East Anglia, England, and enjoys cycling about the countryside when she is not busy writing. 

Her story “Partners in Time” is featured in Whispers of the Past – a paranormal romance where past and present cross.

And her story “David’s Revenge” is featured in Where Spirits Linger – a tale of revenge from the grave.

You can join in on Stevie’s interview with D.L. Mullen here: http://www.undawnted.com/2021/11/wordcrafter-lingering-spirit-whispers.html

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Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!