Brad Carl

Brad Carl, author and all-around great guy, recently invited me to appear on Backstage. It was a real treat and he graciously agreed to pop into Ink Drop Interviews in return. He offers a bit about himself, his work, and tips and tricks he’s learned along the way…

IDI – Good morning, Brad, it’s great to have you here. Let’s start with right now. What are you currently working on?

BC – It’s nice to be working with you again so soon.

I’m currently finishing up what I would describe as a psychological drama titled Craft Beer Burning. It’s about two young men who grow up best friends and end up opening a craft brewery together as adults. The storyline is somewhat of a departure from my debut, Grey Areas – The Saga, because it lacks any major crime elements. Instead, it relies heavily on loyalty, trust, and respect for some scandalous conflict. I originally hoped to have Craft Beer Burning released before the end of 2016, but it’s been a busy year for me and now looks like it will be January 2017. I can’t wait to share it with everyone!

IDI – You’re not too far off course, and it’s always better to be a bit late and have it be right than to rush it when it’s not.

How important are your reading habits to your writing habits?

ga-saga-cover-digital-800BC – When I first started getting serious with my writing a few years ago I wasn’t taking the time to read many books. I used the excuse that I was too busy writing to also read. I didn’t understand the value of the relationship between the two. At the time I was drawing a lot of my inspiration from lengthy popular television cable shows like Breaking Bad, Dexter, and Sons of Anarchy. I thought that was all I needed because the stories were deep and phenomenal. Since then, though, I’ve realized how important it is to soak up books and stories from others. Being a reader helps put the shoe on the other foot, so to speak. I can see what works for other authors as well as what doesn’t work. Reading helps spark ideas. It expands my vocabulary and also enlightens me with ways to handle the things I struggle with regarding my own writing. In 2016 my goal was to read 12 books – any subject or style. I’m going to come very close to reaching that mark, and I’m looking forward to upping the ante in 2017.

IDI – Absolutely! It’s very important to read often and widely. So many authors either don’t make the time to read, or only read within their preferred genre and I think it inhibits their work. I also agree about drawing inspiration from (well-crafted) television shows. Some of the best writers in the world work in television.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned about writing and how has it helped you in your own writing?

BC – I’ve learned that it’s all about the storyline. If your story stinks it doesn’t matter how elegant your prose is or how many times you go to the thesaurus to find a fancy word – no one will care. I believe readers will overlook typos, misspellings, and the like (to a degree) if you still tell them a good story. Not that I suggest skimping on editing and proofreading – it’s very important and I work very hard to give my readers a “clean” reading experience. It’s imperative to worry first and foremost about the story. Seems obvious, doesn’t it? But I think a lot of writers distract themselves so much that they lose sight of this. Remaining aware of this has helped me stay focused on my main goal: to give the reader an emotional ride they can relate to.

IDI – We all draw from within, there is an element of us in everything we write. How much of you will a reader find in your work?

BC – This might sound silly, but I feel there’s an element of me in almost everything I write. Being able to feel emotions strongly is a major part of writing. If you can’t relate to people and their experiences and feelings, you can’t possibly express it on paper for someone else to read and experience. Basically, every character I create is developed from my own experiences in one manner or another. It might not be from a direct personal encounter, but it could be based on observing others or hearing stories from or about others. This is probably why I enjoy dialogue so much. The interaction of people – both in real life and in my writing – fascinates me.

IDI – It doesn’t sound silly at all. I agree. And like you, my writing also tends to be dialogue-heavy.

Is there a particular area of writing (getting ideas, research, revision, editing, and such) where you seem to struggle most and how do you overcome it?

BC – I love writing dialogue so much that I sometimes find myself struggling with the narrative. I’m a details kind of guy in real life, but when it comes to writing (and reading) I’m not a fan of too much description. How much is too much? I like to give the readers just enough information so they can develop their own images in their mind.  I have a big fear of boring readers with too much narrative and description. I’d rather hold their attention by moving the story forward with interesting dialogue and explanatory but brief narrative and description.

IDI – What advice would you give to new/unpublished writers?

BC – Don’t do it to get famous. Entertain people, tell a good story, listen to your audience and readers, make it all about them. Don’t neglect any piece of the writing or publishing process – especially the expense of editing. Find an editor that you can learn from – someone who makes you a better writer. Last but certainly not least: Read your work out loud.

IDI – Excellent advice.

Everyone has their own style and voice (if we’re doing our jobs right). That being said, if someone would compare you, who do you think they’d most likely compare you to?

BC – I’ve been told my efforts resemble those of the late Robert B. Parker, creator of the

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Brad Carl

Jesse Stone series and Spenser novels. When I first heard this comparison I was flattered but had not read anything by Parker. When I read Night Passage it all made sense. It’s cool to be compared to a successful author, but it doesn’t mean I’m done growing. In fact, it only makes me want to read more so I can continue to learn and pick up things from others.

IDI – Not too shabby. I don’t know a writer who would have an issue being compared to him.

Can you tell us three interesting things about yourself you’re sure we don’t already know?

BC – I am listed on imdb.com under the pseudonym “Brad Westmar” for my supporting role in the 2013 movie House of Forbidden Secrets as well as for the lead role in a short titled The Request that appears on a DVD horror compilation, Hi-8.

Give me an acoustic guitar and you will wind up playing and singing with me for hours – whatever you want to hear. I have been playing, singing, writing, performing, and recording off and on since I was about 16 years old.  Always for fun, never for money. Strangely, I still feel to this day that I very well might be a better songwriter than I am an  author.

In addition to being a disc jockey in the 90s, I had an internet radio show from 2005 to 2008 and a podcast from 2011 to 2014. Both were sarcastic/comedy/variety shows. If you Google search “Brad Westmar” you can probably still find some audio or video clips.

IDI – I admit, I went to imbd and checked you out. Impressive.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

BC – Keep writing. Don’t stop. Don’t get discouraged. You will get better and better at the craft. By the time the publishing landscape changes when you’re in your forties, you’ll have a ton of material to put out there for people.

IDI – Amen!

Okay, time to fess up. How many unpublished and half-written books do you have sitting around your house?

BC – A lot. For fun, I’ll give you a quick rundown.

I have two short stories that I wrote about 12 years ago for a Writer’s Group I was in. I’m also looking for another story that was hand written in 1990 or 1991. This one is special to me because it’s more controversial in today’s day and age than it was back then. I’d like to re-work all of these stories in the near future.

I also have a series of short stories and micro fiction that’s collectively titled Company Man. It’s a fictitious look at the ridiculous (and often comedic) side of business.

I have a free-verse poem I’d like to do something with. I’m not sure if it’s any good, but maybe some day we’ll find out…

I think this covers it, aside from the numerous ideas I have.

IDI – Trust me, I can relate.

Where is your favorite place to write, and what are your writing quirks?

BC – It varies. Sometimes I like to go to my local Starbucks and sit with a cup of coffee for a few hours. Other times I’ll sit at home. If I’m out of town I might write in my hotel room or possibly in a bar or at another coffee shop. There are two necessities (quirks): I need to have music (usually earphones unless I’m home alone) and I absolutely must be comfortable. This means sitting in a comfortable chair (some coffee shops and bars have) and putting my feet up if possible. (recliner, foot stool, coffee table)

Truman Capote declared himself “a completely horizontal author.”  He claimed he couldn’t think unless he was lying down. I can somewhat relate, though he also wrote everything in longhand – no thanks!

IDI – Like you, I can write anywhere. Unlike you, I cannot listen to music while I write. I have more than 2000 songs on iTunes that shuffle on a loop 24/7, but the minute I sit to write, I hit the mute button. I find myself either singing along or being taken back through the years depending on the song (I grew up in the 70s and still prefer the music of the era).

Brad, I am so happy you agreed to chat with me and share a bit about yourself with my readers. Best of luck with your upcoming release and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

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Would you like to know more about Brad and his work?

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The Art of Keeping Secrets

It seems I go through reading ‘spurts’ where I tend to read compulsively. Then I write. The last month or so has been a spurt. My latest reading, a book by an author I’ve read in the past, The Art of Keeping Secrets, by Patti Callahan Henry.

Synopsis:

Since a plane crash killed her husband two years ago, Annabelle Murphy has found solace in raising her two children. Just when she thinks the grief is behind her, she receives the news that the wreckage of the small plane has been discovered and that her husband did not die alone. He was with another woman. Suddenly, Annabelle is forced to question everything she once held true.

Sophie Parker knows the woman who was on that plane. A dolphin researcher who has lived a quiet life, Sophie has never let anyone get too close. But when Annabelle shows up on Sophie’s doorstep full of painful questions, both women must confront their intertwining pasts, and find the courage to face the truth.

Review:

This is a story about two women: one who doesn’t know the truth, and one who knows it but can’t share it.

the-art-of-keeping-secretsAnnabelle is living on autopilot since her husband died in a plane crash. She has her friends, her kids, and her job and is quite content to live a predictable life filled with memories. Sofie is trying to find her way through life. She has a job she loves, a man who loves her (even if it isn’t exactly healthy love), and a lifetime of secrets. The one thing these women have in common is that they are both weak characters. Annabelle can’t stand up for herself or to anyone, including her obnoxiously entitled daughter, while Sofie can’t fight her way out of a relationship where she is treated like the cute new puppy of a much older man.

For what the story was, it took the author a long time to get there, especially considering Annabelle found Sofie so early on. It was a bloated story filled with stiff characters. In far too many cases, the dialogue was too formal to feel real.

I hate to see one book take away from an otherwise good author, but this one did. I have read her work in the past and enjoyed it, but found little to redeem this title. The book was extremely predictable, the characters less than believable, and it took the very long way to get to the meat of the story.

I believe this is one of Henry’s earlier works. Although I haven’t read her titles in order, it seems to me that the more she writes, the better she gets – as it should be. Unfortunately, for some that isn’t the case.

This book wasn’t a horrible read. It simply did not stand up to the standards of many of her titles. Don’t let that fact keep you from picking up a Henry book, but in my opinion, make sure it was published 2012 or later.

Patti Callahan Henry is usually a 4+ star writer, but The Art of Keeping Secrets fell a bit flat at 3-stars (Just okay).

Visit Kathy’s Website


The Innocent Sleep

I hope you all are having a wonderful Thanksgiving and were able to spend it with loved ones. I was able to come home for a short stay to see my daughter and her family. Until he teaches me how to fly the plane (I say that like I’m serious), I’ll spend my in-air hours reading.

Karen Perry, the author of The Innocent Sleep is actually two authors: Paul Perry and Karen Gillece, both prize-winning authors and both having written critically acclaimed books. I didn’t know that fact before reading this title and only learned of it as I read the back matter of the book. The reason I mention this fact is that it runs parallel to my review.

Synopsis:

Tangiers. Harry is preparing his wife’s birthday dinner while she is still at work and their son, Dillon, is upstairs asleep in bed. Harry suddenly remembers that he’s left Robin’s gift at the café in town. It’s only a five-minute walk away and Dillon’s so tricky to put down for the night, so Harry decides to run out on his own and fetch the present.
Disaster strikes. An earthquake hits, buildings crumble, people scream and run. Harry fights his way through the crowd to his house, only to find it razed to the ground. Dillon is presumed dead, though his body is never found.
Five years later, Harry and Robin have settled into a new kind of life after relocating to their native Dublin. Their grief will always be with them, but lately, it feels as if they’re ready for a new beginning. Harry’s career as an artist is taking off and Robin has just realized that she’s pregnant.
But when Harry gets a glimpse of Dillon on the crowded streets of Dublin, the past comes rushing back at both of them. Has Dillon been alive all these years? Or was what Harry saw just a figment of his guilt-ridden imagination? With razor-sharp writing, Karen Perry’s The Innocent Sleep delivers a fast-paced, ingeniously plotted thriller brimming with deception, doubt, and betrayal.

Review:

the-innocent-sleep

The story follows Harry and Robin in a non-linear fashion through their relationship. It switches viewpoints at almost every chapter, between Harry and Robin, but not always in chronological order. This isn’t a huge problem, although there were a couple times I had to pause to figure out if I was reading ‘now or then’.

The characters were fleshed out enough to sympathize with, their personalities different and consistent. There was not a lot of setting description, which I liked, as I am not one who wants every little detail written out. I’d rather garner a few details from the book and imagine the rest for myself.

When I say the fact that there were two authors for this title runs parallel to my review, I am referring to the actual writing. The first three-quarters of the book are written out, a pace set and maintained, until the three-quarter mark. At that point, it changes. It begins to read like elaborate bullet points, the narrator telling the sequence of events one paragraph at a time. It reads like a narration to no one in particular, even though it is basically precise details being told to one particular person, in most cases Dillon. Even after Harry is killed, he relays the account of what happened to his son. I found that awkward as the entire book was written in real time, so this transfer of information did not seem to fit. It was obviously for the reader’s benefit. I saw it as a lazy way to reveal what had happened in as few words as possible. At one point, the thought crossed my mind that it wasn’t reading like the same author anymore. I have no way of knowing how these authors split the writing, and I may very well be wrong about one person writing the last quarter of the book, but learning there were two authors somehow vindicated my initial impression.

At one point near the end, a new POV character, Garrick, is introduced. Even though it is not the first mention of him in the book, the fact that a new POV was introduced so late in the story had an odd feel to it. It went from being Harry and Robin’s story and all of a sudden, it was Garrick’s story, too.

Entertainment Weekly said, “You won’t see the twist coming.” I don’t agree. The main storyline was predictable, and a little drawn out. What I didn’t see coming and saw no real reason for other than shock value, was Harry’s death.

There were reasons to keep reading, but there were also things that slowed it down. The Innocent Sleep was not a bad read and worthy of 3.5 stars on Amazon’s review system.

Have you read The Innocent Sleep? Share your thoughts…


Troubleshooting Your Novel… by Steven James

I own a number of writing reference books. A ridiculously, too-large (457) number if I were being honest. I suppose you could say I collect them as others might collect tiny spoons emblazoned with artwork of their corresponding state or coasters from their favorite bars.

I haven’t read each one in its entirety, although I have reads parts of each of them. I use them for exactly what the genre suggests: reference. Sometimes I turn to them for an answer to a question I am grappling with. Other times, I skim through and read particular sections that seem to jump-start my mind when it has stalled. But every once in a slim while, I read one because it is just THAT informative (and useful). I recently purchased one such book. This is going to sound more like a plug for the book rather than a review, but it is just that good.

Troubleshooting Your Novel just came out. Actually, it was in bookstores before the publication date Amazon has listed. It’s so new that, who knows, I may have actually been the very first person to purchase it!

Writer’s Digest puts out some of the best writing reference/guides on the market. They make use of many authors, Steven James (author of Story Trumps Structure)  being one of them.

I am not going to give a blow-by-blow of what is offered within the pages of the book, as there is just so much, but I will highlight some of my favorite parts.

First, my personal favorite part: Fine Tuning My Manuscript. This section ends each chapter of the book. Rather than tell you what you should be doing, it engages you by making you ask yourself the how, what, where, why type questions that are the basis of your novel. At least for me, it caused me to look at my current WIP a bit differently, seeing crucial aspects that had gone unnoticed up until that point.

Another section I really like is the Fixing _____ Issues, which correlated with each chapter heading (transitions, symbolism, theme, etc.)

There are eighty different sections divided into five parts to help you troubleshoot any issue you could possibly find within your manuscript.

I can’t think of a single aspect of storytelling that isn’t covered within the pages of this book. I rarely review reference books, but felt compelled to do so with this book because it is so new on the market and at the time of this review, there aren’t any on Amazon to help a potential reader make their decision.

As I said, I have far too many (useless) reference books on my shelves. If I had to pare down, this book would definitely make the cut. I’d even go as far as to say it’d make the top 10. It’s. That. Good.

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Troubleshooting Your Novel


Kenyan Smith

It’s been so long since I’ve done an interview, I almost feel like a newbie again! I have been so busy lately between a move, a new job, and a new release that I have had to learn to juggle a few more balls.

Today, after my hiatus from Ink Drop, I am happy to have Kenyan Smith with me. I interviewed Kenyan five years ago (You can check out that interview Here).

IDI – Welcome back, Kenyan. Those five years flew!

KS – Thank you for having me, again.

IDI – We all like to receive positive reviews. What is your reaction to a negative review? Be honest.

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Kendra’s Diaries

KS – It’s like a punch in the gut. The first time I received a negative review I felt sick the entire day. But you learn you will get negative reviews everybody does. So you have to read/listen with an open mind.  You pick out what you can use to improve and shake off the rest. It’s not always easy but in order to move past negative reviews you must do it.

IDI – Think back to the first book you wrote and then the last book you wrote. In what ways have you grown?

KS – In 2011 when I wrote my first book, I was greener than grass in many ways. One of the most important ways was back then I was focused far too much on writing the book and not enough on what comes next.

Writing and marketing can’t be mutually exclusive. And marketing isn’t screaming “buy my book!” But it’s developing and nurturing relationships that can and should go beyond me as just a writer.

My writing is a reflection of who I am. But the key to attracting and maintaining my readers/fan base is to give them me. The biggest way I’ve grown has been to expand my capacity to give of myself.

IDI – What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt maybe to tickle our taste buds?

KS – I’m currently working on my first non-fiction book tentatively titled Gurl Let Him Goooo! It’s nonfiction however it’s based on one of my real life relationships.

The book will discuss what happens when you fall in love, then realize the relationship is not good for you and the pain and process of letting go.

IDI – I’ve had one of them! (As I’m sure many of us have). The only difference for me was the pain came during. Letting go was the relief from it.

What works for you? Give us a rundown of your ‘writing process’ from beginning to finished product.

KS – It would look like this:

  1. Develop a concept for a book/What I want the book to say/do.
  2. Outline each chapter
  3. Write each chapter with paper and pen
  4. Type out each chapter
  5. Complete the manuscript
  6. Have it edited by professional editor
  7. Redo based on edits
  8. Final proof

IDI – What is the kindest comment/compliment you have ever received from a fan regarding your work?

KS – A young lady told me she felt like she was Kendra (the main character of my Young Adult Growing Pains Series). She felt as if she was reading about herself. She totally identified with her.

IDI – Favorite author, and why?-Sidney Sheldon.

KS – He was a master story teller.

IDI – What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about writing? How has this helped you as a writer?

KS – The most beneficial thing I can be for my readers is real. I believe I have something positive and valuable to offer the world and I want to share it.

It helped me as a writer because I’m not trying to be this writer or that writer; I’m being me. I have confidence in that.

IDI – How much time/effort do you give to social media as a means of self-promotion?

KS – I believe you are always self-promoting whether you mean to or not. So, I spend a lot of time on social media connecting and sharing about life in general.

IDI – Is there a particular area of your writing (getting ideas, revision, editing, et cetera) where you seem to struggle the most and how do you overcome it?

KS – I don’t like editing. For me it’s the most painful part of the writing process.

I try to take more care with the initial manuscript which can make editing a much less egregious process.

IDI – I’ve heard that more than a few times!

What’s the best advice ever given to you, and by whom?

KS – One of my closest friends told me when I was struggling with the fear of making a wrong decision, “What you think you are going to go through the rest of your life without making another mistake? You will make mistakes but you will do what you always do. You’ll learn and grow from them.”

It was one of the most freeing moments of my life. I’m free to move forward with what I know and can do at any given time. When I make mistakes I learn, grow, and move on.

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New Beginnings

IDI – That’s sound advice.

Have you ever wanted to give up? What stopped you?

KS – Absolutely but not anymore. It’s easy to give up. It takes strength and courage to keep going no matter what. That’s who I am so that’s what I do.

IDI – In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions new authors have about the publishing industry?

KS – The same two I had when I began.

1. If I write a great book interested readers will just somehow magically appear.

2. Social media followers automatically = paying customers. They can be but there is a process a bridge between the two and that’s developing and nurturing the relationships.

IDI – They are misconceptions many new authors have, among others.

You’ve said that editing is your least favorite aspect of the writing process, what is the hardest or most frustrating aspect of writing: ideas, getting started, writer’s block, re-writing?

KS – Fortunately I’ve never had a problem with coming up with ideas or have experienced writer’s block. The hardest thing for me is finding significant amounts of time to write. My blocks are finding blocks of time to steal away and release all the ideas and thoughts inside. When I can find the time everything just flows.

IDI – Why don’t you tell the readers a bit about your other profession.

KS – I’m also a life/relationship coach. I allowed a major wrong decision take too many years from me. I’m committed to helping people not to fear making decisions. But to have confidence in their decision making ability and to see each decision as a step forward on their path to their individual destiny.

I want to help each person I’m fortunate to come in contact with to Live Their Best Life Possible.

IDI – Fun question. Your last book is racing up the best seller list. You’ve been invited to a sit down with Oprah. Describe your reaction to the news and your preparation for the show.

KS – I scream for about an hour really I would. Oprah is my girl crush!!

Honestly, my prep wouldn’t be that much. Oprah can smell a line a mile away. I would mainly focus on staying calm and being myself. I believe that would ensure an awesome interview!

IDI – I don’t know of an author who hasn’t dreamed of sitting on Oprah’s couch at some point!

One last question, what is the single most important thing you share with others?

KS – Life is truly what you make it. We can’t sit idly by while life happens to us and then complain when we don’t get what we want.

We are the captain of our own ship. It’s up to each one of us to be accountable for our own lives, success and happiness.

IDI – Thank you so much for joining me again, Kenyan. You’re one busy lady and we wish you the very best with your current and future endeavors.

To learn more about Kenyan and her work, please visit her at the following links:

http://www.iamkpsmith.com/
https://twitter.com/IAMKPSmith
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4825693.K_P_Smith
http://www.thegrowingpainsseries-shortstories.com/

K.E. Garvey is the award-winning author of Lily White Lies, The Red Strokes, and her latest release, Cry Like A Girl.

www.kegarvey.com


Keepsake, by Kristina Riggle

Keepsake is a book that covers a real issue. The issue has even been covered in a television show named Hoarders. This will be another brief review that states the important aspects without irrelevant additions due to time constraints.

Synopsis:

For her previous novels (Things We Didn’t Say, The Life You’ve Imagined, Real Life & Liars), author Kristina Riggle has garnered fabulous reviews and established herself as a rapidly rising star of contemporary women’s fiction. In Keepsake, she explores that most complicated of relationships, as two sisters raised by a hoarder deal with old hurts and resentments, and the very different paths their lives have taken. As always, Riggle approaches important topics poignantly and honestly—including hoarding and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in her remarkable Keepsake—while writing with real emotional power and compassion about families and their baggage. For readers of Katrina Kittle and Elin Hildenbrand, Kristina Riggle’s Keepsake is a treasure.

Review:

The book wasn’t horrible, but it tends to become dull in places. Trish is a hoarder. I got that from the beginning. After a while, I grew tired of hearing about the stacks of storage containers, or how she resisted parting with anything. I felt the emotion in the book was what carried it through. The family tensions and dynamics were well done, but the repetitive hoarding sequences wore on me. I never liked the television show for the same reason. Once the camera panned the piles of ‘stuff’ it went from disbelief to disgust. I didn’t need to see one half hour of it. *A note: I would absolutely read another title from this author as I felt the writing itself was good. It was the subject matter that turned me off.


A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman

It’s been a while since I have given a review… but then, it’s been a while since I’ve had time to read for pleasure. I took advantage of a recent break in my work schedule and caught up on my reading. The first book I read was A Man Called Ove.

I’m going to keep my review brief due to time constraints, and vague as not to give away spoilers.

Synopsis:

In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet lovable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time? Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations. A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others.

Review:

This book was a little different than many of the books I read. If you can stick it out, it is a good book. But for some, the beginning will be too hard to stick with. It starts off slow and other than to be a truly stand-up guy like his father before him, there wasn’t much to hold my interest in Ove or his life. I don’t want to give spoilers, but I will say, stick it out. Touching and heartfelt, overall worth the read.


Why I’d Vote For A Man I Don’t Care For…

This weekend, Louisiana, Kentucky, Kansas, Maine, and Puerto Rico will have the chance to have a voice and let America know who they want to run our country. It is OUR vote, don’t let anyone take that away!

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~Mahatma Gandhi Quote

Although some voters have yet to make their decision as to who they want to serve as the next POTUS, many of us have made up our mind and it is highly doubtful that our decisions will change from this point on regardless of how many times we hear Little Marco Rubio use the phrase ‘Hair Force One’ (it was funny the first dozen times, but then, he does like to repeat himself!) or how many different dishonest tactics Canadian Cruz uses and blames on a staff member when caught.

I am a democrat. Have always been a democrat like my father and his father before him. I’ll be honest, I am a democrat solely for that reason. I am not embarrassed to admit I have not voted in every election since I was of legal voting age. It was hit or miss. I was unable to vote in the 1980 election because of my September birthday. Although I was old enough to vote by the time the general election rolled around, I was not old enough for the primaries, disqualifying me to vote in November. But, in 1984 I was able (and did) vote for the same man I would have voted for in 1980 had I been able. And he was a Republican. So even though I am a democrat, my vote will always go to the best ‘candidate’, even if the best candidate isn’t necessarily the best man.

When Donald J Trump announced his candidacy last summer, I thought it was a publicity stunt. Seriously. I didn’t give it a second thought. Then, when I realized “WTH, he’s serious?” I decided right then and there that I would  not be voting for him. Not only I wasn’t going to vote for him, I would have bet real money against him winning the nomination, let alone the presidency.

Then I started paying attention.

I’ve never been one to get all passionate about politics or even any particular candidate. I’d listen with one ear. Yes, every vote counts and so on, I get it. Maybe because I didn’t understand politics well enough or maybe because I lacked respect for many of the politicians, whatever the reason, it didn’t get or keep my interest.

Until this year.

I started listening to the candidates. Tuning in to the debates. Staying up to see results from the primaries. Surfing the web for the latest news and polls. I became a politic junkie.

Because of Donald Trump.

This is where many readers will begin scribbling down their counter opinions. You’re entitled. I will undoubtedly also lose Twitter and Facebook followers. I seem to lose a dozen or so every time I post anything ‘Pro Trump’… c’est la vie. But, in all fairness, let me finish so that your retorts will be applicable.

(A post for another time: Why I couldn’t/wouldn’t vote for my first choice)

Come November, I will be voting for Donald Trump – the candidate. Not the man. There is a difference. As little as a month ago, I would have been embarrassed to admit that. (A month ago I was still hoping that Ben Carson could pull it together, as I believe he had much more to offer than people realized, but was too laid back to assert himself among the wolves) Now, I am not ashamed. I have heard Donald J Trump – the man, described as a narcissist. An egomaniac. Arrogant. A liar. A fraud. A bully, among many other negative adjectives (like having really small hands? Really Rubio?) I can’t say I disagree with most of them (But then, almost all of the candidates, blue and red, are these things to varying degrees.) Since I have never met him personally, I can only base my opinion on what I’ve seen from him during debates and interviews and what the media has shared (keeping in mind the media is seriously flawed).

Donald J Trump – the candidate, is also all of those things. And that is why so many people will be voting for him. He is not politically correct, he tells it like it is. He doesn’t care if you agree with him or even like him for it. He won’t kowtow and is not looking to become part of the good ‘ole boys establishment of Washington. Politics have been a part of our government for so long and our country is failing. Politicians can run around laying claim that we are the greatest country in the world, but we’re not. Most of us realize this. Trump realizes this.

People want to talk about Trump’s failures in business. Big deal. I’ve never heard of a businessman who didn’t experience failures, but that doesn’t necessarily make them a failure. Without failure, we never learn. Then we have “he didn’t do this or that, he won’t tell us about ____, he said the opposite ten years ago, yada, yada, yada”. We can sit and rip apart every candidate on things they did or said in the past. THE PAST. I don’t know about you, but I’ve said or done things in the past that I wouldn’t agree with or say/do again. We change. From change, we grow.

Donald Trump possesses the exact qualities I want to see in my next president. Those qualities may make him a lousy husband. Possibly a lousy friend. But, that doesn’t concern me since I don’t have to live my day-to-day life with him. I want a president who is assertive, confident, and won’t back down. (That leaves Rubio out) I want a president who isn’t part of and doesn’t want to be part of the Washington elite. (That leaves Cruz out) I want a president who understands that delivering on his promises is what will make him popular with the people. Someone who can not only engage, but bring new people on board, which is exactly what he’s done. Even the GOP admits that the party has grown by millions during the election season. Let’s be fair, we all know why that is. If not for Donald Trump all of those converted voters would be voting Democrat as they always do (like me) and without a doubt, Hillary would be our next president. Is that what you want? Those new voters are here for Trump. I want a president who wants AMERICA TO BE GREAT AGAIN. (And it doesn’t hurt that Trump has been willing to spend millions of his own money to accomplish this)

But, aside from those reasons for voting for Donald Trump, my main reason is what he’s done to me. For me. As I mentioned, I haven’t always voted, especially in recent years. Donald Trump has brought out an energy in America (they’re calling it a movement) that has been long-missing. His passion has engaged Americans (like me) who have long thought the process stopped working or who believed their vote made no difference. So many disparage him for the things he says, but the things he says have been said in living rooms all over the country for decades. I want a president who isn’t afraid to speak for the people without regards to stepping over the line of political correctness.

Many will fault me for this open letter, but ask yourself something. If there aren’t many, many people who feel this way and everything those in opposition say is true, why is his support base growing every day? Those in opposition would like to have you think that America is just full of stupid people. Unrealistic. (And if he WAS able to con so many millions of American’s into believing he was the best candidate when he’s really this horrible person who is out to destroy the party, damn, sign him up! That would make his powers of persuasion the best I’ve ever seen and certainly good enough to talk other countries into his way of thinking.) America is however full of fed up people. As Einstein would say, insanity is repeating an action over and over expecting a different result (paraphrased). Isn’t that what we’ve been doing?

Maybe it’s time to try something different. His popularity is growing because his message rings true.

Something a lot of people don’t realize is that many of the traits Donald Trump is faulted for constantly, are the very traits that will make America great again. He won’t quit. He won’t be bullied into something that isn’t in our best interest. And, most importantly, the man’s ego won’t allow him to lose. Once he wins POTUS, he will have to show everyone who doubted him that he WAS the best candidate for the job. And once he does that, he will have to go bigger and better than any past president. And when his four years are up, he WILL go for four more. A man like Donald Trump never wins enough. For himself or whatever he takes on. It is his nature. Many of his traits make for an unlikable man, but are exactly what we need in a president.

I am not trying to sway anyone and I am not a Trump volunteer. I am one woman who has been given a new reason to care about politics, polls, and elections. A new reason to care about her country and the person to bring about that change was Donald J Trump.

*The reason many people lose interest or give up on the entire process is because they feel their voice doesn’t matter, that their vote doesn’t count. In keeping up with the election process, I’ve heard that if Donald Trump does win the nomination, the GOP is looking for ways to take it from him. Brokering, asking the voters of Florida to ban together and have them all vote for Rubio, not for who THEY truly want. That isn’t the actions of a democracy. So, they tell us our voice matters, but what they mean is it only matters if we are speaking the words they WANT to hear. The GOP needs to get over it, as Herman Cain has said. If the people choose Trump, then Trump it is. Who is the GOP to say who we should want? And a side note – bringing Romney in to talk trash on Trump was not only foolish, but pathetic. He couldn’t pull the nomination out of the basket for himself 4 years ago. If the people didn’t like him enough to vote for him then, what makes the GOP think anyone will listen to anything he has to say now? This is just my opinion, but after begging Trump for an endorsement 4 years ago, and turning on him now, what it tells me is that he was a ‘wanna-be’ turned ‘has been’. Hoping for another fifteen minutes at the expense of someone who was very good to him when he needed it.

It seems establishment Republicans are rather self-serving and turn on each other whenever it suits them.

I can tell you this, if the party finds a way to strip Donald Trump of what he has rightfully earned, his supporters are going to turn on the party. Maybe not every one of them, but enough of them that Hillary will skate into the White House. Mark my words.

It’s gone beyond an election. It’s a Movement!

MAGA

EVERY VOTE COUNTS!

 


How to Set Yourself Up in One Easy Lesson

Thank you so much, Diane!

dianegallagherwritings

Last night I was on the Facebook page of author, Kathy Reinhart. Kathy was the winner of the 2009 Brighid’s Fire Books  Fiction Manuscript Contest for her book Lily White Lies (great title btw). On her Facebook page she has announced the summer 2016 release of her new book, Cry Like a Girl

This got me thinking.  I don’t think I have mentioned that I am currently working on two collections – one is a collection of flash fiction and the other is a collection of humorous (I hope) haiku and tanka poetry – a collaboration with my husband if he would ever get off his butt and write some when he gets the time to write.  I only have some control over the haiku collection but I have total control of the flash fiction collection… it’s just a matter of putting my butt in the seat and writing…

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Sha Renee

Recently I had the opportunity to talk with Sha Renee, author of Forbidden Kisses, which is part of the Story of A Kiss anthology.

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Sha Renee

IDI – First, let me thank you for taking the time out to chat with me. I hear your short story, Forbidden Kisses was recently released.

SR – It was. It released on February 1st as part of the Story of a Kiss Anthology, which features 13 short stories by 13 different authors. Each of the stories focuses on an unforgettable kiss, although some of the stories feature more than kissing. Within 48 hours of release, Story of a Kiss hit Amazon’s top ten lists in two separate categories.

The story I contributed is entitled Forbidden Kisses. In it, Layla, who is an enlisted member of the Navy, meets the perfect guy while she is on leave. After several fun-filled days and passionate nights, she discovers that Ethan is also in the Navy and he’s an officer. According to military regulations personal relationships between officers and enlisted members is prohibited. In order to avoid disciplinary action and protect both of their careers, they need to put an end to their relationship. Unfortunately, they’ve already fallen in love.

IDI – New releases are always exciting. What works for you? Give us a rundown of your ‘writing process’ from beginning to finished product.

SR – My story ideas almost always come to me completed from beginning to end. By the time I begin writing, I know the course the story is going to take and how it will turn out. So the first thing I do is write an outline: girl meets boy, boy gets into fight with girl’s father, girl has to choose between two men she loves, etc. Once I have the full outline written out, I can fill it in later with character names, dialogue, city names and the gist of the action which takes place within the story. But this doesn’t always happen if I sit at my laptop and will myself to fill in the outline of my story. My scenes come to me while I’m going about my daily life -driving, showering, working – so I end up scrambling to write down information before I lose it.

IDI – What is the hardest or most frustrating aspect of writing: ideas, getting started, writer’s block, re-writing?

SR – Ideas coming to me faster than I can get them written down is both a blessing and a curse. Scenes and sometimes entire stories will unfold in my mind from beginning to end while I’m driving or while I’m assisting my boss in a dental procedure. I don’t always have a way to make notes and my memory is not great, so I often miss out on good information. Sometimes I am able to jot down a few notes, though. When this happens, and it’s a new story rather than a scene of a current story, I absolutely cannot rest until the entire outline is written beginning to end. Then I can leisurely fill in the body of the story with dialogue and action.

IDI – There are magazines and blogs full of what’s new and what’s hot in the publishing industry. Do you keep up with the latest news, advice, trends and such? What are your thoughts?

Box Set Book Photo

Story of a Kiss

SR – As far as advice and tips for writing, publishing or building a social platform – definitely. If I come across information that pertains to me and can help improve my writing, then I’m willing to try it. As far as trends, no. I won’t use a certain software, website, or style or technique just because it’s popular at the moment or it’s what everyone is using or doing. I don’t allow myself to be swayed by the latest trends because it may be something that doesn’t work for my writing style, my lifestyle or my budget.

IDI – Do you have a blog and if so, what types of posts would a visitor find on it?

SR – I do: http://sharenee.com/

Right now my blog has random topics about life and about writing. I have info about my published work, my works-in-progress and since I love taking pictures of nature scenes, I also have a page where I’ve uploaded some of my photos.  In the near future however, I plan to have blog posts that feature military personnel and veterans. I’d like to know how they feel about their service, adjusting to civilian life and for those who are authors, I’d love to post about their work.

IDI – How much time/effort do you give to social media as a means of self-promotion?

SR – I love connecting with people via social media. In fact, I have very few ‘tangible’ friends. Except for a very small handful, my friends are online. Making connections via social media is great for promoting my work and I try to share and post information regularly to keep my peers up to date with my projects. The downside though, (and this is huge for me) is the higher the number of people I “meet” online, the less I’m able to connect personally with each of them. If two thousand tweets come through my feed in a day, and I have a 15 minute break to look at it, there’s no way I’m going to see everyone’s posts. So there are people I follow who I never re-tweet or even get to see what they’re up to. I’m also a firm believer in “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” I try to ‘like’, ‘share’ and ‘re-tweet’ because we all need support. We need to help promote each other – whether it’s an author with a new book being released, a musician trying to get his music heard, or just someone hoping to draw people to their blog.

IDI – Online cafés or writers groups (aside from social networking). Do you belong to any and if so, help or harm?

SR – I love being a member of Scribophile. I’ve met wonderful people, I read some awesome stories and I love the fact that it’s a community where the “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” comes into play. But we don’t help each other (by critiquing work and answering questions) only to get help in return, we help each other because we genuinely want to see our peers grow and succeed.  Since I write Erotic Romance, this is the one place I know I can ask questions about relationships and sex – very direct, detailed questions, and not be judged.

IDI – Can you tell us three interesting things about you that you’re sure we don’t already know?

SR – The first is that I absolutely love my job. I work as a dental assistant, for a wonderful boss, in a nice office, in great location, with the best hours. HOWEVER, if someone said to me, “Pick a job. Any job and it’s yours.” Without a doubt, I would be a driver in a car commercial. You know, the ones that have three or four cars doing synchronized driving, zig zag, down the hill, around the bend, high speed. Yeah.

The second is that I feel somewhat uncomfortable when people thank me for my military service. After I enlisted, I traveled, I made friends, fell in love, got married, had a baby, even had ‘mandatory fun’.  I didn’t see combat. I never set foot on a ship. I don’t feel like I did anything significant in support of my country. Of course, in my head I know military service is a team effort. As for standing security watch, accounting for tools to ensure no foreign items end up on the flight line, washing aircraft, etc. I know these were significant to the overall mission, but I still wish I’d done more. So when people say, “Thank you for your service,” it takes a lot for me not to say, “I really didn’t do anything.”

Lastly, I used to feel guilty about what I write and about letting people know what I write -especially people I go to Church with. My characters engage in sex outside of marriage, which clashes with my Christian beliefs. There is a lot of judgement, whether it’s expressed or not, when an author reveals that they write Erotic Romance or Erotica. I’ve even been accused of leading people to sin by what I write. I disagree with this completely. First, because my work is for adults who should be able to read the warnings and decide whether or not reading about sex is going to make them have sex. If they feel weak in this area, they shouldn’t read erotic material or watch anything in which the characters have sex. Second, I don’t think (and this is my opinion because I don’t know everything about everything) that people – no matter what their religious beliefs – should refrain from writing murder mysteries, because it will cause people to commit murder. I don’t believe authors shouldn’t write stories about kidnapping because someone might not be able to control their urge to kidnap. I’m not encouraging anyone to mimic the actions of my characters, whether they’re having sex, singing karaoke or drinking coffee.  And if authors who write about murder and bank robberies are not judged by the actions of the characters they write about, then I will continue to write what I like.

IDI – Define a great book.

SR – One that evokes strong emotion in me especially early in the story. I recently read a story in which I felt deep sympathy for the MMC right from the first chapter, possibly even the first scene.

A great book makes me think about the characters and their situations even after I’ve closed the book and I’m engaged in other activity. And a great book is one that I never want to end. When I see that I’m nearing the last chapter, I tend to read more slowly, savoring those last few scenes. So I guess I’d say a great book is like great sex. It evokes emotion, we want it to last, taking measures to delay the culmination and we think about it and even talk about it long after it’s over.

IDI – Who is your favorite of the characters you’ve written?

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Forbidden Kisses

SR – Ethan from Forbidden Kisses. Besides the fact that I’ve made him physically attractive – with dimples, dark hair, thick eyebrows, over deep-set eyes which are the color faded blue jeans. He’s got a good sense of humor. He’s playful and fun loving. He’s got a good heart, caring for his best friend’s widow as well as his girlfriend’s mother. He’s romantic and loves intensely. One of his great qualities – something Layla really loves about him, is his take-charge attitude. If there were a hurricane, a fire or any type of disaster or urgent situation, he’d be the one who immediately steps up and makes decisions. He’d give everyone directions, let them know what they should be doing. He’s a leader and he leads with confident authority. But from those who fall under his authority – including Layla, he requires compliance without any question.

IDI – What does success as an author mean to you?

SR – Of course a shit-load of money from my writing would be great, but I’d consider myself successful when I hear that people know and enjoy my work. When readers – who are not friends or family – excitedly discuss my characters or a particular scene in my story (and like it) then I’ll consider myself successful.

IDI – Thank you so much, that was great.

If you’d like to learn more about Sha and her work, here are a few links that you’ll find interesting.

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShaShaRenee

My Blog: http://sharenee.com/

My E-mail: ShaRinay@yahoo.com

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1SLa63D

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1nitKb6

Story of a Kiss Teaser: http://bit.ly/1ZKHVY7

Order my first short story: http://amzn.to/1KDs7KA

Order Story of a Kiss:  http://amzn.to/1VjrlIg

 

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