Author Spotlight – Mackenzie Flohr

authorphotoWelcome!

 

Please introduce yourself. 

Thank you for the invitation! I’m happy to be here. My name is Mackenzie Flohr and I am a fantasy author through BHC Press.

 

  1. When did you start writing? 

I have always dreamed of writing a book and being an author, but seeing it actually get published? That part I wasn’t sure would ever happen. It’s one thing to start a book, but it’s another thing to actually finish it!

My parents nurtured a love for the creative arts from a very young age. From the time I could hold a pencil, I was already creating pictorial interpretations of classic stories, and by the age of nine, a childhood friend and I were authors and reviewers of our own picture books.

 

  1. What motivates you to write? 

What motivates me is being told I won’t succeed. I know that sounds odd, but I’ll elaborate. Back in 2006, I was at the airport in Orlando waiting for the plane to arrive to take my Dad and I back to Cleveland, OH. I was working on a scene, which happens in a later book in the series. There was a young girl who looked about my age with her Dad sitting across from us. They asked what I was writing about, so I mentioned a little bit about it. Afterward, my Dad smiled and told them that I was writing a fantasy series, and that I would never finish it. I was shocked, embarrassed and hurt by the outburst. Even as I am recalling that moment now, it still angers me! But that’s where he went wrong. Not only did I write it, not only did I finish it, I found a company to PUBLISH it!

 

  1. What genre do you write in and what made you chose this particular genre? 

Fantasy. I admit I have a strong fascination, or maybe even obsession, with swords and sword fighting. I also admire the elaborate fashion from that time. And of course, who doesn’t like a wee bit of magic?

 

  1. What is your goal in writing? Do you have dreams where your writing should take you? 

I really hope someday The Rite of Wands will become popular enough to either inspire a movie trilogy or a television series by the BBC. In particular, I’d like to see Matt Smith in the role of Mierta McKinnon and David Tennant in the role of Orlynd O’Brien.

 

  1. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if yes, how do you deal with it? 

As author Rachel Caine said during a writing panel at Wizard World Chicago in 2015, there is no such thing as writer’s block. There is nothing preventing you from writing, YOU are preventing yourself from writing by allowing this ‘block’ become an excuse.

That being said, I usually look for what inspires me to help rejuvenate my muse. When I writing the first book of The Rite of Wands, for example, I would often play the video game Bloodborne because my series kind of has a bit of that same hopeless atmosphere minus the beasts. I would also watch something with actor Matt Smith in it because my MC was written for him. That particular habit has become so effective that people often joke and say Matt Smith IS my muse.

 

  1. What advice would you like to give new, hopeful authors? 

Writing is A LOT harder than it looks. If someone tells you that writing is easy, don’t believe them. It’s one thing to write a story, it’s another thing to actually finish it. There are so many people out there who falsely believe they will write the next bestseller on the first try. But don’t let that discourage you. Don’t give up, keep pressing on, and if someone tells you can’t do something, don’t believe it. As one of my dear friends has said, sometimes in order for something to happen, you have to give to the universe, and the universe in turn, gives back.

 

  1. Please, tell us about your work.  

The Rite of Wands is the first in a new YA fantasy series, coming out on March 10th in both paperback and eBook through BHC Press/Indigo. It will appeal to fans of The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and even Doctor Who (specifically fans of the Eleventh Doctor).

 

Here’s a little teaser: 

One boy…one Rite… And a world of deadly secrets that could change the course of history—forever 

And so begins the tale of Mierta McKinnon. When a horrible fate reveals itself during his Rite of Wands ceremony, he must find a way to change not only his destiny but also the land of Iverna’s. 

Forbidden from revealing the future he foresees to anyone, he is granted a wand and his magical powers, but still must master the realm of magic in order to save himself and those he loves. 

But Mierta is not the only one with secrets…especially when it’s impossible to know who to trust.

 

Thank you for being my guest. It was such a pleasure to have you here!!


Keep in touch with Mackenzie Flohr:

 

Website: http://www.mackenzieflohr.com

WordPress: https://mackenzieflohrblog.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MackenzieFlohrAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mackenzieflohr

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16247559.Mackenzie_Flohr

 


Mackenzie Flohr’s publisher’s page and book:

 

bhc_press_final_blue_small_no_tm

 

 

 

 

riteofwandscoverPublisher’s Page:

http://www.bhcauthors.com/Author_Mackenzie_Flohr.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Author Spotlight – D. E. Haggerty

author-photo-2016Welcome!

Please introduce yourself.

I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on from my mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although I did manage, every once in a while, to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. After surviving the army experience, I went back to school and got my law degree. I jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. But being a lawyer really wasn’t my thing, so I quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out being a B&B owner wasn’t my thing either. I decided to follow the husband to Istanbul for a few years where I managed to churn out book after book. But ten years was too many to stay away from ‘home’. I packed up again and moved to The Hague where I’m currently working on my next book. I hope I’ll always be working on my next book.

 

  1. When did you start writing?

I can’t actually remember a time I didn’t write. I even remember writing stories in a notebook on the yellow school bus on the way to elementary school. Although I had to stop writing stories for a while when life just got too busy, I always kept reading (even if I had to sneak a book into my Army rucksack) and making up stories in my head.

 

  1. What motivates you to write? 

I love making up stories. Seriously, I am always thinking up a story. If I’m out to eat, I’ll spend half the time coming up with background stories for the other dinners. Obviously, I need help.

 

  1. What genre do you write in and what made you chose this particular genre? 

I actually write in a few genres. The majority of my books are cozy mysteries, but I write romantic comedies as well. I’ve also written a military suspense novel and an historical novel. No matter what genre you categorize my books in, there’s always some romance in there somewhere and a bit of a mystery as well. I’m completely and utterly fascinated with the world. I’ve studied everything from history to law to international relations to environmental studies to nutritional counseling. I guess you could say this ‘fascination’ is reflected in the range of genres in which I write. You could also just say I’m crazy. You wouldn’t be the first.

 

  1. What is your goal in writing? Do you have dreams where your writing should take you? 

I’m super-duper lucky that I can write full-time even though I don’t actually make enough money off my books to support myself. It would be completely and totally awesome if I could earn sufficient royalties to actually support myself, although then I’d have to curb my one-click addiction.

 

  1. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if yes, how do you deal with it? 

Everyone suffers from writer’s block. If they say they don’t, they lie! There’s really only one solution to writer’s block – Just. Keep. Writing. It doesn’t have to be on your work in progress, but write something, anything! A blog article, an outline for a new book idea, it doesn’t matter. Just do it.

 

  1. What advice would you like to give new, hopeful authors? 

Do not expect miracles. Sure, there are those rare and beautiful creatures who have an international bestseller with their first novel but that’s the exception and not the rule. Most of the writers I know write as a hobby because they need to support themselves. It’s also important to realize being an author is not only about writing. Whether you’re self-published or not, you need to do a lot of marketing and networking yourself. Be prepared for the reality that is being an author in today’s world.

 

  1. Please, tell us about your work.  

I just released a bundle of my second cozy mystery series, Death by Cupcake. The bundle contains the three books in the series: Never Trust a Skinny Cupcake Baker, Bring Your Own Baker, and Self-Serve Murder. The novels take place at Callie’s Cakes, a cupcake bakery owned by the heroine of Never Trust A Skinny Cupcake Baker. Each novel contains a serving of mystery with a side of romance and a sprinkling of laughs. Cupcakes are not included.

 

Thank you for being my guest. It was such a pleasure to have you here!!


Connect with D. E. Haggerty:

Website: http://dehaggerty.wordpress.com

Blog: https://dehaggerty.wordpress.com/category/mymusings/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dehaggerty

Twitter: https://twitter.com/denaehaggerty

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+DEHaggerty/posts

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/denahaggerty/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7210211.D_E_Haggerty

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/D.E.-Haggerty/e/B00ECQBURU/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_5?qid=1438239628&sr=8-5

Email: dena@dehaggerty.com

 


D. E. Haggerty’s books:

coverSeries Name: Death by Cupake

Books in Series:

Never Trust a Skinny Cupcake Baker

Bring Your Own Baker

Self-Serve Murder

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Humor

 

Bundle buy link:

https://www.amazon.com/Death-Cupcake-Books-D-E-Haggerty-ebook/dp/B01N4JBZYX/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1485849636&sr=8-1&keywords=D.E.+Haggerty

 

Cupcakes not included. Get all three books of Death by Cupcake series in one bundle! A cozy mystery series with a heap of laughs, a generous portion of romance, and just a smidgeon of suspense. The bundle includes Never Trust a Skinny Cupcake Baker, Bring Your Own Baker, and Self-Serve Murder. Come join us at Callie’s Cakes, where murder investigations are on the menu.

Synopsis Never Trust a Skinny Cupcake Baker:

A mystery with a heap of laughs, a generous portion of romance, and just a smidgeon of suspense. Callie’s life is rather awesome. She owns a successful bakery and teaches German literature at the local university. There’s just one tiny problem. She has no self-confidence when it comes to her body. And then there’s the little matter of her being accused of murdering her pole dancing instructor. There’s no way Callie’s going to risk losing her teaching position and thus she embarks, with her best baker bud Anna, on a journey to discover the real killer. Between stripper auditions and a detective who insists Callie is the woman of his dreams, it’s a roller coaster adventure. Cupcakes not included.

 

Buy links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Never-Trust-Skinny-Cupcake-Baker-ebook/dp/B01CNZ75DE/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1457501176&sr=8-9&keywords=D.E.+Haggerty

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/620975

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/never-trust-a-skinny-cupcake-baker-de-haggerty/1123498864?ean=2940152907117

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/never-trust-a-skinny-cupcake-baker

 

Synopsis Bring Your Own Baker:

Anna just wants to earn enough money on the side to buy into the bakery, Callie’s Cakes, where she works together with her best nerd pal Callie. The last thing she expects to see when she walks into Arthur’s apartment to do some moonlighting is a blood bath. Callie’s ready to jump into the investigation into Arthur’s murder, and she’s bringing another bakery worker, Kristie, into their hijinks whether Kristie wants to or not. But things aren’t as they seem. There are gang affiliations, illegal gambling dens, and ladies of the night to wade through. Will Anna and Callie discover who murdered Arthur or will Callie’s detective boyfriend and Anna’s self-appointed protector put a stop to such aspirations?

Come join us at Callie’s Cakes, where murder investigations are on the menu, but make sure to bring your own baker, because Anna’s a bit preoccupied at the moment.

Warning: This is NOT your mom’s cozy mystery. Bring Your Own Baker may be a ‘clean’ read, but if gangs, illegal gambling, and pimps make you turn your nose up at your e-reader, you might want to skip this one. Although you’ll be missing some sizzling chemistry between Anna and her protector. Not to mention a whole bunch of witty dialogue.

Buy links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Bring-Your-Baker-Death-Cupcake-ebook/dp/B01FJVGWXI?ie=UTF8&keywords=d.e.%20haggerty&qid=1463315568&ref_=sr_1_5&sr=8-5

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/636073

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bring-your-own-baker-de-haggerty/1123795411?ean=2940153018690

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/bring-your-own-baker

 

Synopsis Self-Serve Murder:

Kristie is kind with a capital K, so it’s quite the surprise when she wakes up next to a dead man with no recollection of the previous night. Even worse? She’s naked. Kristie may be a sweetheart out to save the world, but sticking her nose into an investigation of rapes across campus makes her the target of a murderer. Before she knows it, Kristie is smack dab in the middle of a murder investigation with her colleagues Callie and Anna. If that’s not enough to drive a sane person up the wall, a friend has decided he’s going to keep her safe whether she wants him to or not. And, oh yeah, he’s her man and that’s that.

Come join us at Callie’s Cakes, where murder investigations are on the menu. You are most welcome, but you may need to serve yourself as our barista Kristie is busy trying to save the world.

Warning: Although there are plenty of moments that will make you shake your head and laugh at the antics of the ladies of Callie’s Cakes, the subject matter – rape on college campuses – is very real and somewhat darker than your usual cozy mystery.

Buy links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Self-Serve-Murder-Death-Cupcake-Book-ebook/dp/B01M8K0RYR/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1477376496&sr=8-7&keywords=D.E.+Haggerty

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/673189

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/self-serve-murder-de-haggerty/1124934721?ean=2940153788715

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/search?Query=Self-Serve%20Murder%20(D.E.%20Haggerty)&ac=1&acp=Self-Serve%20Murder


 

Author Spotlight – Jill Sammut

jill-head-1Welcome! 

 

  1. When did you start writing? 

I wrote my first books at the kitchen table around the age of six.  Constructed with paper, crayons, and random staples, I even managed to design advertisements for future “books” in my series on the back of each creation.

 

  1. What motivates you to write? 

My current work is a series of chapter books for tweens.  The books celebrate children living with issues such as anxiety and cerebral palsy while encompassing a diverse set of characters.  Someone needs to tell the story of kids who are not typically well-represented in traditional literature.  Every time I hear from a reader who saw themselves reflected in my work, it motivates me.

 

  1. What genre do you write in and what made you chose this particular genre? 

I am currently writing books that target tweens.  A particular child with anxiety who couldn’t find a book with a main character that mirrored her own experiences led to my choice of genre.  I could see myself expanding to other age ranges in the future.  However, the characters in my current series still have many more adventures ahead of them.

 

  1. What is your goal in writing? Do you have dreams where your writing should take you? 

I want my books to help kids see that they are not alone in their experiences.  I would love to write from a warm, tropical island at some point in the future.

 

  1. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if yes, how do you deal with it? 

I usually worry at the start of each new book that I won’t have enough to say.  Somehow, the story falls into place and I have the words to tell the tale.

 

  1. What advice would you like to give new, hopeful authors?

Don’t write a book trying to impress a certain market or follow a trend.  Write a book you truly love and others will feel your passion.

 

  1. Please, tell us about your work.  

As a teacher in Flint, a mother, and a foster parent, I have seen many kids who struggle to find themselves represented in popular culture.

A child I have known and loved has battled anxiety from an early age.  As she struggled through a difficult time period, I looked for ways to help.  I wanted to find a kid’s chapter book for her where the main character worked through similar issues in a compassionate manner.  I wanted a series where the main characters were a little different, and lived in a neighborhood where everyone didn’t look the same.  When I was unable to find what I needed, I decided to write it myself.

The Cloud at the End of My Rainbow follows a young girl named Elliot McIntire.  Elliot lives on a horse farm with her family, including her nearly famous little sister Daisy.  The only problem is Elliot is terrified of horses and is fearful in other areas of her life too.  A new friend, Em, who lives with cerebral palsy, makes a bet with her that involves Elliot riding a horse for the first time in years.  Their newfound friendship is tested.

The series continues with my second novel, When the Rain Falls, due out this summer. 

 

Thank you for being my guest. It was such a pleasure to have you here!!

  

__________________________________________________________________

 Connect with Jill:

 

My website:  www.jillsammut.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thecloudattheendofmyrainbow/

You Tube: www.youtube.com/channel/UC2o-Kbks8NFBfhijjAnaeOg


Jill Sammut’s book:

 

50554131_kindle-ready-front-cover__-jpeg_6193413Amazon paperback: www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Jill+Sammut

 

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Cloud-End-My-Rainbow-ebook/dp/B01KAOUKJ6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1486244381&sr=8-1&keywords=jill+sammut+kindle

Author Spotlight – Allan Hudson

allan_hudson_color2Welcome!

 

Please introduce yourself. 

Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog Aurora. It’s an honor to be included in your Writer’s Treasure Chest. My name is Allan Hudson and I live on the east coast of Canada in the province of New Brunswick. My home is in a small village called Cocagne and is situated across the road from the Northumberland Strait. I’m fortunate to have a loving, supportive family and consider myself a very lucky man.

 

  1. When did you start writing? 

Like many avid readers, I always felt there were stories I’d like to tell. I participated in a creative writing course at our local trade school, an eight week evening class, many years ago hoping to kick start my desire to get those ideas down on paper but more important things occupied my time. It was only after I discovered that my favorite author, Bryce Courtenay, started writing when he was 56 years old. He went on to write 20 best sellers before he died last year. That was eight years ago and was the inspiration for my own writing. I knew then that I needed to sit and get started. I was 55.

 

 

  1. What motivates you to write? 

I’ve come to realize that wanting to get the stories out of my head and onto paper is what motivated me to write but as time passes, it is for the sheer joy of writing, of getting lost in the world of my characters. When I sit and write, the story is all I think about, hoping that somewhere, someone will enjoy reading the story as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. I also get inspiration from my surroundings, the east coast of Canada where there are fabulous sunrises and sunsets on the waters near my home and the people in my life.

 

 

  1. What genre do you write in and what made you chose this particular genre? 

I have two favorite genres, action/adventure and historical fiction. As a reader I’ve been drawn to action novels from such authors as Dennis LeHane, Harlan Coben, Peter May and Chuck Bowie to name a few of my favorites. These types of stories are ones I enjoy writing. My first novel, Dark Side of a Promise, is an action/adventure novel as is my second, Wall of War.

I equally enjoy historical fiction such as Bryce Courtenay, Edward Rutherford, James Michener and Beth Powning. I very much like novels that begin early in time and carry the reader along in the growth and development of the main characters, as well as their surroundings, while teaching me about the past. My WIP is such a story.

 

 

  1. What is your goal in writing? Do you have dreams where your writing should take you? 

At present my goal is to write as often as I while I maintain a full time career to pay the bills. I look forward to retirement soon when I can spend more time near a keyboard. I’ve dreamt so long of holding a book I wrote in my hands and with my first novel and subsequent short story collections, I’ve done that. My second novel is presently at the editors and will be self-published. My goal with my WIP is to have it traditionally published.

 

  1. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if yes, how do you deal with it? 

I must admit, that writer’s block has never been a real issue for me. There are times when I stare at the cursor on the computer screen and wonder where I’m going next and the words seem to stall. I usually walk away from the screen, maybe even turn it off. Sometime I only need a few moments to stop thinking about the story or maybe a day or two but that is the extent of any type of block I experience.

 

 

  1. What advice would you like to give new, hopeful authors? 

I’m still a new, hopeful author myself so I’m not sure if my advice is sound. I feel that the best strategy is to write. Write as often as possible, get the story down on paper. Find a few beta readers you can trust, polish your work the best you can. Get professional services like editing and cover design. Turn to your fellow authors, like this friendly blog, and share, share, share. Discover other authors, comment and review their books so that they will be happy to help you along.

 

  1. Please, tell us about your work.  

In my action series, my main character is Drake Alexander. I am fascinated by foreign cultures and try to share my own wonder of travel through my novels. Dark Side of a Promise takes the readers from the shores of Canada to the young country of Bangladesh and around the world. The second novel in the series is called Wall of War and like Dark Side of a Promise, is an international thriller. It takes place mainly in Peru. At present it is being edited and I hope to publish this summer.

 

My WIP, my third novel, is a history of his family beginning in 1911 with his grandfather who lives in Scotland and eventually immigrates to Canada. It is a different genre from my earlier action/adventure stories but will explain the history of the Alexander family in a format similar to the historical authors I’ve mentioned above. My own work history is diversified by having dual careers in the jewellery industry and construction.  My central character in The Alexanders will be involved in similar businesses with the up and downs of beginning in a new country. There is much tragedy in his earlier years but the will to overcome and succeed is the theme of this new series.

 

I love short stories as well and always have several on the go. My short story, The Ship Breakers, received Honourable Mention in The WFNB short story contest and was picked up by Ryerson Hill-McGraw to be part of their iLit digital series available to high school teachers across North America as part of their curriculum. I have three collections published simply called SHORTS, Vol 1,2 & 3. Each are dedicated to one of my grandchildren.

 

I have published the beginning of a new detective serial on a separate page on my blog (South Branch Scribbler) and will be adding to it at regular intervals featuring Detective Josephine (Jo) Naylor. It is titled The Shattered Figurine. 

 

 

Thank you for being my guest. It was such a pleasure to have you here!!

  

__________________________________________________________________

 Contact Allan Hudson: 

 

www.southbranchscribbler.ca

 

https://www.facebook.com/southbranchscribbler/

 

https://twitter.com/hudson_allan

 

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+allanhudson1953

 

https://www.wattpad.com/user/allanhudson

 


wall-of-war4Allan Hudson Books:

 

https://www.amazon.com/Allan-Hudson/e/B00HP8FSEI/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1485787317&sr=1-1

 

 

 

 

 

cid_327bab6641c34f439bd52a9c08ceab39allanhudsonpc

 

 

Featured Author – Interview – The return of Don Massenzio

don_massenzio_author_picWelcome back!

 

You were a guest on ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’ before, where we learned about writing in your life and your projects.

 

Let’s see what you can tell us today: 

 

 

 

  1. Are you still writing in the same genre as you did before, and if not, why did you switch – or would you ever think to change genres?  

Interestingly enough, a couple of months before last year’s interview, I had released a terrorist thriller Blood Orange which, after writing three detective mystery novels, was a change in genre. I have since released another two detective mysteries, but I am writing a follow-up to that thriller as readers seemed to like the main character and his team. It will, however, crossover into the universe of my detective novels.

 

  1. Please, tell us a little about your writing process. 

It’s chaotic. I work full-time in a 50-60 hour per week consulting job that has me traveling 45 weeks per year. I’m not a good hotel sleeper so I spend much of my travel and insomnia time writing. I write whenever I have free moments. This makes continuity a challenge sometimes, especially because I’m not a traditional outliner. But, hey, I was able to publish three books last year, so it works for me.

 

  1. What is important to know for young, new authors and writers? 

Great question. My advice would, just do it. My eight-year-old came to one of my book signings and said she wanted to write a book someday. With my help, she published her first children’s book a couple of months ago, and now she has the fever to do it again. If my writing accomplishes nothing else, I’m truly happy.

 

  1. Your experience in the writing world, do you think it has already taken you where you wanted to go? 

Writing takes me away from the real world and that is exactly where I want to go occasionally. In terms of success, I’m happy with where my sales place on Amazon for the moment. Would I like to take it to a higher level of success? Of course. I don’t know many authors that wouldn’t, but I am content when I look at my bookcase and see my name on a book.

 

  1. In your opinion, are you a writer or an author – and what is the difference for you? 

I am both. A Writer puts word on the page. An author lets other people read those words.

 

  1. Please, tell us about your projects again. Was there progress since the last interview or are there even completely new projects? 

I have published two more books in my Frank Rozzani detective series since the last interview on your blog. I have a follow-up to Blood Orange written and going through the polishing stage and ideas for more ‘Frank’ books on the way. There will always be new projects until I run out of time to complete them.

 

Thank you for being my guest. It was such a pleasure to have you here!! 

 

__________________________________________________________________

Contact Don:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authordonmassenzio/

Twitter: @dmassenzio

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Don-Massenzio/e/B00JJVN0UI/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Blog: http://donmassenzio.wordpress.com

Web Site: www.donmassenzio.com

 


Don Massenzio Books:

(click on the cover to be linked to the book page to get more information and buy it. Thank you)

 

frankly_speaking

let-me-be-frank

frank_inscensed

frank_immersed

 blood-orange

random-tales


 

Author Spotlight – Phillip T. Stephens

pts-portraitWelcome! 

Glad to be here.

 

  1. When did you start writing?

The first story I remember writing was a parody of Miles Standish for a fifth-grade assignment. It went over well enough to encourage me to finish the parody of the entire book. I was inspired by a stage-based spoof of Gun Smoke called Pistol Mist that my dad wrote for the church youth group. He repeated it at every church he ministered so it had a great impression on me.

The long version was terrible, which taught me some projects have a limited span. Before that, however, I wrote comedy sketches for my tape recorder and tried to convince my sisters and friends to perform.

No one cooperated.

I wrote seriously in high school, including a novel (75 pages). My creative writing teacher hated everything I wrote. She wanted flowery prose sprinkled liberally with Latinate words. I preferred a Hemingway style—shorter, Anglo-Saxon words and direct sentences. (She also heaped praise on her son, who was in my class, as a model for our writing.)

I began to read writers like Anthony Burgess, Terry Southern, Philip Roth, John Fowles and John Le Carré. I reread Catch-22, which I first read in eighth grade (it took the entire summer). The second reading convinced me my writing was juvenile, so I threw it away.  I didn’t discover I could write well until I took my first college creative writing class.

 

  1. What motivates you to write?

I can’t not write. I write daily, whether it be a series of posts for a Twitter novel, a blog post, or articles for Medium. Perhaps as a child no one paid the attention I wanted so I knew I could preserve my thoughts on paper for a time they would. Perhaps, like the Hebrew prophets I’m compelled to speak and writing is my platform. I know I never wrote to be cool or admired because when I first shared my writing, I received little positive feedback. Most of my friends thought it was stupid.

I might go a day every two or three weeks where I finally say, rest. But it’s hard.

 

  1. What genre do you write in and what made you chose this particular genre? 

I call my genre “wry noir.” Dark novels with a sardonic twist. My first published novel, Raising Hell, was a dark fantasy novel about an optimist who drives Lucifer crazy, (as was the follow up novella, The Worst Noel). My second, Cigerets, Guns & Beer, was a Western mystery/suspense novel. Ironically, my latest novel Seeing Jesus is a light-hearted YA novel (although bullying by adults and peers is a major theme).

I know not settling on a genre hurts my brand marketing. Wit and wry observation defines my brand, which is much harder to market. But I read every genre growing up, and personally enjoy writing in several.

 

  1. What is your goal in writing? Do you have dreams where your writing should take you?
  • I want to create intelligent books that any reader will enjoy.

 

  • I want to change readers’ perceptions of the world in some small way: to help them recognize that the world is not about us and it never was. Because of this we have a responsibility to leave something of value in this world and not take from it.

 

  • I also hope to help them recognize that other people don’t see the world in the same way that we do, they process information differently, form different values. We’re responsible for our own actions and not for theirs.

 

I was raised a Baptist Preacher’s Kid and everyone expected me to follow my father, grandfather and every uncle into the ministry. Fooled them. I took one message from my faith—Life is about service, not self-fulfillment, a message that seems sorely lacking in Christianity (not to mention the current political climate). I wouldn’t write if I didn’t think my writing served the world at large in some small way.

In grad school, studying literature, art and philosophy, the reigning aesthetic theory proclaimed, “Art for art’s sake.” I still adhere to that, especially given the current beliefs that art should be profit-making and reflect a narrowly-defined set of values. I also believe artists share a responsibility to make our work transformative. Our art should stand on its own; our vocation requires us to put our work in the larger frame of cultural revolution.

 

  1. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if yes, how do you deal with it?

Not really, although I will confess to procrastination. When I sit down to write, even if it’s two in the morning, I write. My first college fiction teacher John Vandezande (who wrote the book Night Driving, now out of print) said to write anything, no matter how bad. Start at the middle of your story, the end, at whatever point you can put words on paper.

I agree. You can fix bad prose. You can’t fix what isn’t written. Write paragraphs stream-of-conscience, outline, jot down notes and impressions. Anything to get your thoughts moving through the pipe. This is the only advice I ever give writers that I believe will benefit everyone.

I’ve thrown away entire chapters, sometimes as many as three or four. I stopped novels after ten or twelve chapters. I never thought they were failures. They got me to the chapters I needed and I wouldn’t have written the books I finished without them.

 

  1. What advice would you like to give new, hopeful authors?

Most writers never make a living writing fiction. (Few make a living selling books at all.) You need to seriously evaluate the role of writing in your life. If you want to write for self-fulfillment, recognize that, but be honest about your talent. If you don’t spend your free time thinking about your work, how to improve your work and studying other writers to see how they make their art, you probably aren’t ready to be a professional.

If, however, you’re determined to sell your work to the world, show your work to writers and readers who won’t pat you on the back and say, “this is good.” Find readers who will find the flaws and recommend improvement.

When you think you’re ready to publish, hire an editor and proofreader.

Most of all, don’t blindly follow the advice of every blog post. Most advice contradicts a blog posted the week before. Good writers take any number of approaches to writing—some from the seat of their pants, others with outlines and notes; some write 500-2000 words a day no matter the circumstances, others try to find a quiet space to concentrate when time permits; some write rough drafts by hand, others word process everything. Explore different approaches until you find techniques that work and stick to them. It’s okay to try something new, but if it doesn’t work for you, don’t trade it for something that works on that writer’s say so.

 

  1. Please, tell us about your work.  

I just finished a Twitter Novel, Doublemint Gumshoe (which I’m still Tweeting #TweetNovel), about a hapless, hopeless detective who stumbles onto a missing persons case that’s way over his head. I wanted the challenge of composing a story 144 characters at a time. When the last Tweet is posted, it will run more than 800 installments. I may rewrite it and re-release it as a real novel. I haven’t decided yet.

My biggest seller (which is like saying the biggest ant in the hill)—Cigerets, Guns & Beer—features an ex-con whose car breaks down in a small Texas town and ends up neck deep in the fallout from a thirty-year-old bank heist and murder. To make the novel more fun, I threw in a UFO and back story that connects the murder to Roswell.

During the seventies and early eighties, gas stations would sell Texas drivers beer from oil barrels next to the pump. They’d pack the barrels with ice, singles and six-packs. Drivers fill their tanks, grabbed their six-pack and popped a top as soon as they hit the highway. I joked to a friend that all we needed was guns and we’d hit the Texas Holy Trinity.* That line planted the seed for the novel. I’d been kicking around the idea of a stranger and thirty-year-old crime since grad school but couldn’t find an angle into the story that I liked.

I lived Raising Hell. I escaped from the worst job in the world, with a micromanager from hell, only to walk into a situation with four different managers with four competing agendas and every one expecting me to jump to their beck and call in a second.

From that came the idea of an optimist sent to hell by accident and Lucifer trying to find a way to destroy his optimism. Unfortunately, the hero, Pilgrim, believes that he’s already in hell so it can’t get any worse. He might as well make his punishment the most enjoyable form of eternal damnation that he can.

An agent suggested I write Seeing Jesus. We spent some time discussing my desire to write a non-fiction book about the way metaphoric thinking unconsciously drives our belief systems. She recommended that I read Gaarder’s Sophie’s World, and write something similar. (She rejected it, of course.) In the novel Sara Love learns to cope with bullying by adults and children through lessons provided by a homeless man no one else can see.

I plan to release an extended adult version this year, with a different ending, appendices and discussion questions.

 

Thank you for being my guest. It was such a pleasure to have you here!! 

How could I resist? Sharing on a great blog like this? I’d be a fool not to.

*Readers have just witnessed the joy of fiction writing. I’ve shared this anecdote dozens of times, but I just now made up the line, “Texas Holy Trinity.” I intend to use it with the anecdote from here on out, but that’s what all fiction writers should do—strive to improve your story at every opportunity.


Contact Phillip T. Stephens:

 

Twitter: @stephens_pt

cigeret-coverPhillip T. Stephens’ books:
on kindle
Cigerets, Guns & Beer http://amzn.to/1QG7t4m
The Worst Noel http://amzn.to/239NCNF
paperback
Cigerets, Guns & Beer https://t.co/7kTafuZEGp
The Worst Noel http://bit.ly/1mmJQAn
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Doublemint Gumshoe #TweetNovel

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seeing-jesus-medal-cover

Seeing Jesus also recently won three Human Relations Indie Book Awards

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Phillip T. Stephens will be one of the writers featured at this month’s #MysteryThrillerWeek, this month Feb. 12-17. Join him and others for advice, blogs, networking, reviews and links to hundreds of novels.


Author Spotlight – Mick Canning

portraitWelcome! 

Please introduce yourself. 

Hi Aurora. I’m Mick Canning, an English writer living in England, who writes and blogs especially about India.

 

  1. When did you start writing? 

During my childhood I used to write short stories and poems that I would read aloud to my parents, and then submit to my junior school magazine. They were kind enough to publish a few of these, possibly to keep me quiet. And then I never stopped.

 

  1. What motivates you to write? 

As the cliché goes, I write because I have to! There are so many stories and ideas milling around in my head that I want to share with other people. And now that I finally have a novel published, and can therefore claim to be an author, this urge seems to have increased rather than diminished.

 

  1. What genre do you write in and what made you chose this particular genre? 

I tend to write what is usually called ‘literature’, which sounds awfully grand and pompous, but really means no more than that it does not fit into any of the usual categories of fantasy or crime or what-have-you. It is probably due more than a little to my reading habits, which are frequently also ‘literature’. Not that I don’t read plenty of other genres, of course. Some crime, some fantasy, horror, humour, and plenty of non-fiction; mainly travel and history. I will write short stories in these other genres occasionally, too, but I feel my best work is usually ‘literature’. This probably sounds dreadfully pretentious!

 

  1. What is your goal in writing? Do you have dreams where your writing should take you? 

My goal? Always to finish the current work in progress, and to make as good a job of it as I am able. I have no particular wish to publish dozens of books, but I’d like the few that I do publish to be good! My dreams, well, if my writing can take me to India or Nepal, that would be good! I suspect that is not quite what the question means, though.

 

  1. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if yes, how do you deal with it? 

Oh, yes. I‘m sure every writer does. My method is to go for a walk, preferably on my own, in the countryside. Whatever the problem I have with my writing, be it not knowing where the plot is going, or how my characters will act in a situation, or even something about the geography or history of the setting, a walk will infallibly enable me to sort it out.

 

  1. What advice would you like to give new, hopeful authors? 

Write! Write! Write! And read! Read! Read! The more you read, and the more widely, the more you learn how writing works. And the more you write, the better you get at it. It really helps to get feedback from someone you trust, too.

 

  1. Please, tell us about your work.  

So far, I have one self-published novel, ‘Making Friends with the Crocodile’. The title comes from an Indian proverb, and the story deals with the attitudes to and treatment of women in society, in this case specifically Rural India. It is told through the relationship between a mother and her daughter-in-law, and how a violent incident impacts upon them and the rest of the family. I wrote it in the first person, through the eyes of the older woman. And if that is not a real cheek coming from a western male writer, I don’t know what is! The book has been well received, though, even by Indian female reviewers, so perhaps I’ve succeeded in what I set out to do.

Otherwise, I have a large number of finished short stories, quite a few of them set in India, and am working on a couple of novels – one set in an Indian hill station, the other a rather over-ambitious one set in a time-scale of some four hundred years up until late Victorian times, and in England, India and Persia. I must be mad.

 

Thank you for being my guest. It was such a pleasure to have you here!! 

It’s been my pleasure to be here, Aurora. Thank you very much for having me!

 

__________________________________________________________________

 Contact Mick:

 

My blog is www.mickcanning.co

 


making-friends-with-the__-crocodileMick Canning Book:

 

My author’s link:  http://author.to/mickclink

 

The book is available as Kindle and Print-On-Demand Paperback on Amazon (the link takes you to the author page there), and also on Kobo as well as, in India, Pothi and Flipkart