Author Spotlight – Kevin Morris

Welcome! 

Please introduce yourself.

I was born in the city of Liverpool on 6 January 1969.

Having attended Saint Vincents School for the Blind in Liverpool, and the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford, I went on to read history and politics at University College of Swansea.

Having graduated with a BA (joint honours) in history and politics, and an MA in political theory, I moved to London in 1994 where I now live and work.

Being blind and unable to read print, I use software called Job Access with Speech (JAWS) which converts text into speech and braille, enabling me to use a Windows laptop. All of my poems are written using JAWS.

When did you start writing?

I began writing seriously in 2012-2013, although I do remember composing a poem entitled “The Snake” whilst at school in Liverpool. I recollect that it began, “slithering through the wet grass comes the snake”.

What motivates you to write?

I enjoy the act of writing (the creation of poems). Indeed I sometimes believe that I have an itch which must be scratched, for when I do not write for a few days I feel a compulsion to put virtual pen to virtual paper.

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

Most of my writing falls within the genre of poetry. I recollect with great pleasure leafing through works of poetry such as “Palgrave’s Golden Treasury” and “The Oxford Book of English Verse” in the school library. Reading these anthologies kindled in me a love of poetry which has stayed with me ever since, and has grown over the years.

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

I write for the joy of the craft. I hope also that my poetry gives pleasure to others and perhaps encourages those unfamiliar with poetry to read more poetry. As for dreams, I am delighted that a number of my poems will be published in a forthcoming anthology of verse. Whilst I have, myself published several poetry collections, it is wonderful to know that my poems will appear alongside the work of other poets in an anthology.

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

Fortunately I rarely suffer from writer’s block (he says touching wood)! However, when tired I turn off my computer as I know that if I do manage to write, what is written is likely to be of inferior quality.

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

I would say to new authors “believe in yourself. By all means listen to what others have to say about your work and learn from that. But, ultimately you have to rely on your own judgement. If someone tells you to change something (and you believe that it works as written) then trust your own judgement. Also read widely”.

Please, tell us about your work.

Many of my poems (perhaps the majority) are written in my home which overlooks an historic park in the Upper Norwood area of Greater London. Norwood derives it’s name from The Great North Wood, and is still possessed of many fine trees.

I have written many poems inspired by the area in which I live, including the below poem which is entitled “The Path Through the Woods”:

 

“The path taken less often than I should,

This tranquil place through a nearby wood.

A spot with trees for walls

Where sunlight through the branches falls.

An oasis from the urban din

I find a quiet place within.

An inner space where the heart can be still,

A peaceful spot on this wooded hill.

The path to the road ascends.

A cloud of gloom on me descends.

I must return to this rented land

Where advertising hordings stand.

A world where empty vessels make most noise,

And people play with broken toys.”

—–

(Copyright Kevin Morris – Please respect the author’s right on his own word)


Kevin Morris’ Books:

“The Selected Poems of K Morris”, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WW8WXPP/.

 

 

 

 

 

“Light and Shade: Serious (and Not so Serious) Poems”, https://www.amazon.com/Light-Shade-serious-not-poems-ebook/dp/B08B4X3GVX/


Connect with Kevin Morris:

Author website, https://kmorrispoet.com/

Twitter, https://twitter.com/drewdog2060_

Goodreads, https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6879063.K_Morris

Promote On Writer’s Treasure Chest

It’s 2020 and ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’ is five years old.

I am very proud to have this blog up and its success and progress are significant. I thank all followers and readers for making this such a pleasurable experience and great adventure for me.

There is, however, one thing that I’d like to extend even more: The chance for many other writers to use “Writer’s Treasure Chest” as a promotional platform.

Do you feel like trying how it is to publish blog posts?

Do you have anything important to say?

Would you like to show up on this blog?

Do you have a book to promote?

Use “Writer’s Treasure Chest” and contact me for

a Blog Tour

a “Featured Author Interview”

a “Guest Post”

So many things are possible, and I’d like to give you a chance to introduce yourself and your work here!

For once I used the contact form within a blog post and hope you will use it!

 

Generally, ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’ does have a contact form on the right side, as a widget.

It is always there! Check it out and contact me, I’ll be delighted to work with you on your plans, your guest post, your blog tour or send you the sheet with the interview questions!

I will be proud to have you as a guest on ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’.

How To Pitch Radio And Become A Talk Show Guest – Written By Sandra Beckwith

Sandra Beckwith provides us with advice on how to pitch radio and become a talk show guest. Thank you very much for sharing, Sandra.


Looking for a way to reach most Americans with your book’s message? Consider radio publicity.

According to Nielsen Media Research, 89 percent of Americans age 12 or older — nine out of 10 — listen to radio in a given week. Radio reaches 94 percent of adults in the 35 to 49 age group — only slightly more than those ages 18 to 34 and 50 plus. Even better, news/talk radio is the second most popular format.

There’s no question that radio is a tremendous publicity vehicle for authors with something to say.

Add the growth in podcasting to the mix and you’ll have many interview opportunities.

Continue reading HERE

Promote On Writer’s Treasure Chest

It’s 2019 and ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’ soon will celebrate its 4th anniversary.

I am very proud to have this blog up and its success and progress are significant. I thank all followers and readers for making this such a pleasurable experience and great adventure for me.

There is, however, one thing that I’d like to extend even more: The chance for many other writers to use “Writer’s Treasure Chest” as a promotional platform.

Do you feel like trying how it is to publish blog posts?

Do you have anything important to say?

Would you like to show up on this blog?

Do you have a book to promote?

Use “Writer’s Treasure Chest” and contact me for

a Blog Tour

a “Featured Author Interview”

a “Guest Post”

So many things are possible, and I’d like to give you a chance to introduce yourself and your work here!

For once I used the contact form within a blog post and hope you will use it!

 

Generally, ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’ does have a contact form on the right side, as a widget.

It is always there! Check it out and contact me, I’ll be delighted to work with you on your plans, your guest post, your blog tour or send you the sheet with the interview questions!

I will be proud to have you as a guest on ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’.

4th Halloween Poem Contest – 5th Group Of Submitted Poems —


Please respect each authors’ and poets’ copyright. The rights remain with the writers. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from each of the poems author’s is strictly prohibited and violates copyright laws in the country you are reading this work in as well as in the country you are trying to re-publish this work in. – Aurora Jean Alexander


Halloween Poem – by Johnny Ojanpera

On this night, a century past
We rode home from harvest
As if the crisp air was ours
To breathe in like the stars

My belly did tingle and turn
At the sight of the village
As we approached home
It seemed to be moved

I clenched my eyes tight
To blink out the shocking
A sight like horror stories
My cabin was surely gone

We rode around the back
Behind the drooping tree
On the edge of my fields
Just to be certain of this

The stable stood emptied
No horse or chicken left
Puzzled with fear, I ride
To old man Harold’s home

A single candle burned
Common room desserted
So I dismounted and thought
What spell has been cast?


Ghosts In The Attic – by Lisa Reynolds

The ghosts were residents
in the attic of
Grandma Murray’s house
for years.
Each Halloween she
would go and party
with the ghosts,
knew all their names,
met the new residents
over drinks and toffee apples
each year.

Halloween 2018 arrived
and Grandma Murray
joined the ghosts in the attic
permanently.
She wasn’t nervous when the time came,
her best friend ghost Geraldine held her
fragile, frail bones and helped her
descend from her body
up to the attic.
This year they continue
to dance, drink and be happily spooky
together.
The ghosts in the attic,
friends in death.


Happy Halloween – by Billy Campbell

A night for goblins
ghosts and ghouls
When monsters and boogeymen
forego all the rules
.
Leaving their closets
and underneath beds
Walking the streets
as living dead
.
Wizards and fairies
the creatures of lore
Dark shadows approaching
to knock on your door
.
Witches and vampires
walk hand in hand
Spreading their terror
across the land
.
Laughter of children
playing a part
on an evening of horror
that touches the heart
.
Never quite knowing
who you might meet
in the joyful shouts
of Trick or Treat
.
It’s not the small demons
or zombies we fear
It’s when they grow up
we all shed a tear

Feast of Treats – by Jennifer Collins

The children are coming!
The children are coming!
Hurry and grab one before they start running!
It’s Halloween and the witches are watching and are waiting for something!
The tables are ready and the cauldrons are bubbling!
One, two, three…I’m a monster ready to eat!
Four, five, six…kids want treats but we’ve got tricks!
We’ll have Frogmore stew and witches brew, mini meat pies and boiled eyes too!!!
Pumpkin puffs, and marshmallow mush, lady fingers and little tarts too!
But the best part of all is that our main dish is YOU!!
One, two, three…I’m a monster ready to eat!
Hurry up kids!
I’ve got your tricks you’ll be my treat!

4th Halloween Poem Contest – 4th Group Of Submitted Poems —

Picture courtesy of: http://preventioncdnndg.org/

Please respect each authors’ and poets’ copyright. The rights remain with the writers. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from each of the poems author’s is strictly prohibited and violates copyright laws in the country you are reading this work in as well as in the country you are trying to re-publish this work in. – Aurora Jean Alexander


skeleton dance – by Jasmin T.
the lights in the lab-come
on one two three
Mr. Skeleton shuffles-bows
elegantly-I
do not want tricks
nor treats, she says
Mr. Skeleton does not retreat
music starts-skips
stops and starts again
Mr. Skeleton
dips as moonlight dips
holds his arms like
window panes-framing
his partner as he
shuffles whirls
slow tornado circles
that song-in
her ear she-travels
slips off her shoes
curls her toes
puts her picture
in his frame-she
dances one two three
one two three-doesn’t
mind feeling lonely
as long as the dance
goes on
her eyes close-she
hears the clatter
opens-finds bones
silent again
again

Halloween Poem – by Bruce Louis Dodson

It’s strange about humans
At this time of year
It’s supposed to be scary
But I have no fear
The days of the month do not matter to me
But sometimes it’s strange
The odd things that I see.
Like this thing on the floor
And what’s on the TV
It’s orange and it’s huge
Almost bigger than me.

I don’t have a clue as to why is it here
The same things appear
At the same time each year
Whatever it’s good for is far beyond me
In a couple more months they will bring in a tree.


While Mama Slept – By Elizabeth Jacobson

Oh Halloween! Halloween!
When souls roam no longer unseen
The night of All Hallows Eve
See the dead we grieve
Come home come home
Spend a moment before you roam
Set at the table’s head
A moment we mingle with the dead
With lantern soul lights
Softly quell the fright
No need for vengeance
Just a moment of transience
Staring deeply at the flame
and start the divination game
Look away and back in the mirror
to catch a glimpse of the future
just a little clearer
Teach the children Allhallowtide
To pray for those for whom we’ve cried –those who’ve died
The night of Summer’s end
One last goodbye before they once again descend

Moon Delight – by Larry Sells

Full moon smiles at night
waiting for us to go to sleep
so, he can bare his fangs and
sink them into our necks for
a red liquid meal. We die
a dry fleshly shell. A shell
people cry over and place
into the ground. Their tears
water the plants, which grow.pas
Four faces of the moon attract
his victims. During harvest
season when the vampires, werewolves,
and humans hunt for meat and blood.
Moon gorges itself until it grows
into a huge full moon, which turns dark red.
Harvest Moon, blood moon comes around Halloween
when spirits and other monsters can gather blood
for the full moon, so it can get full
enough to reach Harvest Moon, when the moon becomes full
of blood from people who sleeping or past out fangs
enter the neck either way. The full moon feeds without noise.
The moon rests on the new moon
so, it can feed again on the full moon.

Author Spotlight – Merlin Fraser

Welcome!

Please introduce yourself.

Hi my name is Merlin Fraser, Scottish born but brought up in the Cotswold Hills of Gloucestershire before leaving to join the Royal Navy in 1963.
After the Navy, I joined the new UK oil industry that was starting to blossom in the North Sea and at last I found his true niche in life. Then as now, I enjoyed solving puzzles and challenges and found the oil business supplied both in abundance. Never a great lover of routine, I turned this skill of solving problems into a vocation that was to last for the next 30 years.

Writing is my third career and one where instead of solving puzzles I get to create them for my story characters and hopefully my readers.

When did you start writing?

Probably more years than I care to admit to but in truth I have always been a bit of a scribbler, I tried my hand at creating a Ships Newspaper but with only a manual typewriter and a hand cranked Gestetner printing machine to hand, that and being the sole member of staff to boot it was doomed.
Serious writing only started after 9/11 and the collapse of my oil industry career, not that I knew it was over at the time, but sitting watching children’s TV in the afternoons is a great motivator to get off your butt and try something new.

What motivates you to write?

Waking up in the middle of the night with a story idea that won’t quit, but also the notion that if I don’t act upon the idea immediately the thought will evaporate like the other dreams of the night. Of course, I am also a great people watcher and sometimes the things I see and hear create new characters that get stored away until needed. In addition, I am a undisciplined ‘Google’ wanderer, I may start doing some serious research but after a few key strokes, I am usually off track and visiting new places. However, it has to be said that such random wandering led me to the Pagan and paranormal worlds that fascinate me.

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

Tough question, I have had most success with my Inner Space Police Detective Nick Burton Murder Mystery stories, but this was not my first attempt at genre selection. Earlier I said I had spent, or wasted time watching Children’s TV in the afternoons, this led to the thought ‘what utter tosh this is’ and the thought that I could do better. Yeah right! Writing for the screen is not like writing a story, for a start you need to know what you are doing and I didn’t. However, by this time the story was in my head, so I started to write it down instead. Genre wise it crossed too many boundaries for an agent to promote to potential publishers, it was a sort of romantic, magical, fantasy, a bit like Harriet Potter meets the Walton’s if you can work that out. Anyway, it lays gathering dust on a memory stick somewhere. In addition, of course, there is also my sortie into stories for children with my creation of ‘Dust Bunny’ characters who take a young human girl into their world, something else that totally failed to capture anyone’s imagination. Finally, I have ventured into the ‘Non Fiction’ world of local history, limited interest but important to me.

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

All writers have dreams, at least when we start out; we are all going to be the next Mark Twain or Earnest Hemingway, and perhaps in the days before Amazon and the internet who knows ? Trouble these days is that anyone with a keyboard and a link to the internet can flood the marketplace. There is now just so much available online that it is almost impossible for anybody unknown to shine through, no matter how brilliant his or her work might be. Not sure, I had any dreams other than perhaps the usual ones of ‘Fame and Fortune’, although I would prefer fortune to fame, retirement is an expensive business, but a little bit of fame might not hurt.

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

I think all writers hit that wall at some time in their projects, I know I do. Sometimes, especially in fiction where you are trying to confound or misdirect the reader you can be too clever and write yourself into a corner. Life is another constant distraction and can play havoc with creative juices. When it happens to me I have found that the simple answer is to walk away, trying to force things just makes it worse. Do or start something else, I created the Dust Bunnies during a dark moment of total plot block in the second Nick Burton story, I didn’t go back to that story for four months. I then reread everything from my plot line, character creation notes, and the first six chapters then slept on it. At four thirty the following morning I switched the computer on, cut out two whole chapters and started from there. In the night, my brain had come up with an ending that I eventually reached eighteen chapters later. I guess what I’m saying is never give in to writer’s block, there is usually a logical reason it happens.

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

Another tough question, but an important one nonetheless. Practice your art, write for fun, start with Blogs and see if you can gain a following, which happens if you are amusing or entertaining your audience. Don’t expect miracles, remember we are all minnows in a vast ocean and if you cannot take disappointment and rejection in your stride find another hobby.

Please, tell us about your work.

When I started writing and trying to break into that world the publishing industry was in turmoil. No one took new writers seriously; especially the mainline Book Publishers, they and literary agents were all looking for sure things. Things like ‘Celebrity Kiss and Tell Cookery Books’. Of course, at the same time Amazon was establishing themselves as the new road to market and the world of the 99¢ ‘Self-Publishing’ exploded onto the online market.
I could not have picked a worse time to start out. I tried the conventional way to market before I too turned to Self-Publishing. I probably made every mistake possible, even falling foul of the Sharks in the ‘Vanity Press’ scam. (Be careful they are still around, no one who asks for money to publish your book is your friend). Yet in spite of all the expensive errors, I finally got myself into print with my Inner Space Murder Mystery series. However once there you cannot rest on your laurels you have to push, push, and push all the time. The minute you stop, you slip down and disappear. Of course, in the wonderful digital world, there are always ways of reinventing yourself and every now and then, you come across someone genuine to help you.

In my case it was a couple of guys who took an interest in my Inner Space stories and suggested that they could turn them into Audio Books. I just about bit their hands off. It has been hard work bringing that to fruition, they had one or two ideas on how to improve the story, something no writer ever wants to hear, but they were right and between us, we revamped and revised without destroying my original story or plotline. The first book is complete and to compliment the Audio version I have renamed and released a new print version with a new cover.

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


Connect with Merlin:

www.linkedin.com/in/merlin-fraser-92a0b7b/

www.facebook.com/Merlin-Fraser-1389201244731921/

merlinfraser123@aol.com


Links to the new “Inner Space” books:

www.amazon.com/Inner-Space-Merlin-Fraser/dp/1999719522

Audio

www.amazon.com/Inner-Space/dp/B07FDPG3KD

 

Looking for Guest Posts…

Allan Krummeracker’s blog is expecting guests. Apply for guest posts folks, it’s such a GREAT chance!! He’s an amazing writer and I love his blog.

Musings Of Two Creative Minds

Calling-All-Authors

Running a blog can be tiring work…  and running a second one:

“The Vampyre Blogs – Private Edition” link: https://thevampyreblogs.wordpress.com/)

can be exhausting

983b7-tired-dog


So having guest bloggers who wish to get exposed to a wider audience is a real plus, plus it gives our readers a better idea of what other books and authors are out there.  So if you’re interested in doing a guest post about writing, or wish promote your work here on this blog, please let us know in the comment section below.

Or you can e-mail us at: allan.krummenacker@gmail.com.  Tell us about yourself and what you’d like to share and how soon you’d like the post to run.  We’ll do our best to accommodate your needs and if we can’t we’ll let you know.   Keep in mind NO PORNOGRAPHY.  We have readers from many age ranges and backgrounds so we need to keep things within…

View original post 34 more words

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 – 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.