Posted in indie author, Jessica Conwell, Uncategorized

Three Sharp Knives

By: Jessica Conwell

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!” -Jack Kerouac

Johnny– Hey Jessica, first I want to thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me about your book ‘Three Sharp Knives’. Having read your book I understand the name, and what it stands for, do you have any particular story behind the term/brand? where did “3SK” come from?

Jessica– Hey Johnny! Thanks for reading, I’m always happy to answer questions! The title Three Sharp Knives comes from the idea that certain people are considered ‘dangerous’ to society simply for existing, like sharp knives sitting on a counter. The three narrators are all such people, three women who fall just outside the bounds of what the world wants to understand.

Johnny– You are such a charming writer, you have a way when you developed your characters that is so real and strong that I feel invested, “bought in” and very close to them, what do you attribute to that?

Jessica– Thank you. I’ve always been of the view that characters are more important than plot. I’ll read a book with interesting characters and a thin plot well before I will finish a book with a fascinating plot and flat characters. I think the number one thing I try to remember when developing my characters is that people don’t make sense. People are messy. People are illogical. People act in ways contrary to their own values. People screw up. But despite it all, most people in the world are trying to do their best to work toward what they envision “good” to be. Whether that is a moral good, a spiritual good, or just a personal good varies person to person. But I try to start with asking myself, “What does this character define as their ‘good’ and what does it look like when they try to work towards it? How will they screw up along the way?” I think that might be why my characters are relatable. I think most people can understand the feeling of knowing the good, wanting the good, but having no effing idea how to go about achieving the good.

Johnny– This book is written in a different format than most, separated into four sections with no chapters, (which, by the way, works!), is this your style when you are writing? Or is it unique to this book?

Jessica– I tend to work with sections more than chapters. My earlier novel, Cluster, works this way as well. I think I fits my stories structure-wise better than breaking them up into chapters. I want the narrative to flow in a series of long arcs, mainly to create the feeling that everything is connected, nothing separated from anything else. Past mixes with present.

Johnny– What motivated you to write Three Sharp Knives?

Jessica– So, the most simplistic answer to that question is that after I finished Cluster, a friend of mine said, “I think you should write a story about ghost hunters.” Naturally, I took that in the least logical, barely connected direction I could.

The larger answer is that I wanted a story about unconventional people and unconventional love. Obviously, there is a lot of LGBTQ+ representation in 3SK, but even beyond that, I wanted to write a book for people who feel like they don’t really fit anywhere, people who want to love and be loved, but find it difficult to be understood.

Johnny– I want to talk about your characters again, they are so damn believable, and likable, did you have inspirations or muses when you created them, or were they strictly products of your imagination?

Jessica– Way back when I was younger writer, I made the mistake of basing characters entirely on people I knew. This, predictably, blew up in my face when said people read the stories, mainly because I was not yet a strong enough writer to mask what I was doing. So, I now have a strict policy for myself against writing biographical (or autobiographical) characters. However, there are, of course, scraps and snipping’s of people I have known or encountered in my life. I don’t think any author can truly avoid that. And, honesty time, there is a bit of me in each of my narrators.

Johnny– Without giving anything away, what was the hardest part of this book to write?

Jessica– Ha! That’s a difficult one to answer without giving anything away, because the truth is that the most difficult part of the book to write was the ending. In part it was because I couldn’t decide how to execute it. It was a eureka moment on a long walk that finally gave me the ‘nested circle’ structure of the flashbacks in the last section. The other reason it was difficult was—and this will be very difficult to say without spoiling anything—because, well, authors tend to get emotionally invested in their own characters, too. I’ve had people tell me how hard they have taken various unkind things I have done to characters of mine they connected with. My knee-jerk response is, “I know! I’m a monster!”

Johnny– You did it beautifully! Although, I gotta admit, I was a little surprised at the ending, so I’m guessing your going to be that writer that likes to shock your readers?

Jessica– I actually try not to, typically. Otherwise there isn’t much of a surprise since the reader is expecting a surprise, you know? I’m completely of the mindset that surprise endings have to be earned. They need to be a surprise only due to the reader not putting the pieces together ahead of time.

Johnny– My thought is that this book was written through the eyes of three different individuals, which narration was the hardest to write for?

Jessica– Heather, actually, who is also my favorite character. She was hard to write because of how bleak her worldview is at the beginning of her section. In a lot of ways, it mirrored my own thoughts during darker, lower moments of my life, and it wasn’t always enjoyable to access those while I was writing her.

Johnny– Was it therapeutic for you to write her?

Jessica– It actually was. It is good to speak dark feelings aloud sometimes.

Johnny– I did this when I interviewed Rebecca Hefner and it was a lot of fun so I’d like to try it with you if you don’t mind. You get a call from Hollywood, your book is going into production to become a movie, you are chosen to cast it, you can use any artists you want, who do you pick?

Jessica– I’ve been asked about before actually! I think my main demand that would be that all of my trans characters be portrayed by trans actors. Beyond that, if Saoirse Ronan isn’t Heather and Katey Sagal isn’t Mari, I just don’t know that I could sign off on the production.

Johnny– Ha! Katey Sagal would be perfect! Good call for Heather, NOW, who would play Seph and Lia?

Jessica– She’s a bit older than the character, but I think Jamie Clayton from Sense8 would be a great Seph. For Lia, I’ve never been able to lock down who I think would be good for her role. But I’m open to suggestions.

Johnny– I’m curious, because your book centers around this, are you a fan of puzzle rooms?

Jessica– I am a huge fan of puzzle rooms, verging on being evangelical about them. I’ve done enough of them that I have formed strong opinions regarding their quality.

Johnny– What advise do you have for someone that wants to become a writer?

Jessica– Write the stories you think only you will be interested in. That won’t be the case. Write the books you wish you’d had at your lowest moments. Also, immediately stop thinking about writing as some mystical art. Like any craft, it needs to be honed and developed. Practice.

Johnny– What advise do you have for someone that might be struggling with gender identity?

Jessica– Trust yourself. A million voices will tell you that you don’t know yourself, that they know you better than you could. Surround yourself with the people who love and support you, discard the ones who don’t. Never be afraid to seek additional support. Hold in your mind the truth that no matter what, you have intrinsic value and are worthy of love and respect.

Johnny– I hope I’m asking this right, because I am ignorant about transgender people, I’ll be the first to admit that, but, at what age did you drop the gender society given you (because of the anatomy you were born with), to become the woman you are today?

Jessica– That’s a tricky one, because I spent a long time knowing and being in active denial. I was 33 when I finally came out, though.

Johnny– Was your family supportive? are you close with your family?

Jessica– The members of my family I am close with were very supportive, even if they didn’t understand right away. I, of course, had some members who were less so (especially among my then-in-laws) but the people who knew me the best knew that this wasn’t something I had decided based on some whim I was having.

Johnny– As a transgender woman do you feel accepted by society?

Jessica– In certain segments, sure. Otherwise, no, no I don’t. For one thing, the US government itself is currently hostile toward trans people. Aside from that, the background noise of life as a trans person is a cacophony of microaggressions, threats of violence, discrimination, distrust, and prejudice. So, we find our pocket communities. We build our “found families” and we do everything we can to try to change the way things are. But we have a hell of a long way to go.

Johnny– When you say “currently hostile” was it more-so after the 2016 election than before?

Jessica– Absolutely. Before 2016, things weren’t great, but it seemed like progress was being made, if only in an ‘inch at a time’ way. After the election, not only were protections and rights we had been granted under constant attack, it was almost as if a license had been given to not hide your prejudices.

*(I’d like to add a side note here, as a veteran who served in the US Army it breaks my heart and angers me to my core that you have to deal with this sort of hate and hostilities. When I joined, I joined so EVERYONE regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation could live in this country freely, peacefully, without fear or harassment from bigots and their hate, intolerance, and prejudice.) JS

Johnny– Jessica where do you want to be in 10 years?

Jessica– Watching my daughter start college (if that’s what she wants), going on adventures with my partner, and always, always, always still writing. Even if my audience can still be counted on one hand.

Johnny– You keep writing like you do I’m predicting that you will need a “few” hands to count your audience on. What are you wanting your readers to take away with them after reading 3SK?

Jessica– I hope they leave with more empathy and understanding for people different than they are, as well as more openness to love in all of its bizarre, beautiful forms. I hope I can make some people who have never felt understood seen, even if just a little.

Johnny– Who is your favorite writer?

Jessica– That is tough one, because every time I think I know the answer, my brain yells, “Wait! Wait! But what about…?” A short list would have to include Richard Russo, Carmen Maria Machado, Tillie Walden, and Neil Gaiman.

Johnny– Do you have any projects planned for 2020?

Jessica– Roughly a thousand of them, though I am favoring a project that does have a loose tie-in to 3SK (much as 3SK has some loose connections to my earlier book, Cluster). Unfortunately, it is in the form of bringing back probably the last character 3SK readers wanted to see return, so….

Johnny– So… we might not see Seph and Heather again?

Jessica– You may, but they will be wandering through the background of a scene. I have this long-standing belief that everyone is the background character in someone else’s life. All of my novels have a shared universe, but rarely will I bring a main character from one book into the forefront of another. However, you may see someone who was a minor character in 3SK play a more major role.

Johnny– Do you mind giving a quick elevator pitch for Cluster?

Jessica– A group of misfit friends run a music venue/coffee shope/vintage toy store together while coping with love and loss of many different flavors. Also, there’s a lengthy discussion about ghost sex.

REVIEW

Every once in a while I get the pleasure to come across a book that totally catches me off guard. Three Sharp Knives was one of those books.

Upon opening this book, I was carried away with a narrative that was so mesmerizing, characters so endearing, a plot well-groomed that it belongs on a Hollywood screen, I could not help but fall in LOVE with this book! I think you will too.

Three against the world was a reoccurring theme that ran across my mind time after time while I was reading this. Love, defined on their terms was what I was left with.

I love this book! It has earned the five stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐rating that I’ve given it on Goodreads and Amazon. I’m proud to say that I am a HUGE fan of Jessica Conwell.

If a good story and strong characters is your thing, then Three Sharp Knives is the book for you. I can’t wait to read and review Jessica’s other book Cluster.

Great job on writing a great book Jessica! I’m a fan!!

You can buy Jessica’s books here

Follow Jessica on Twitter

✌❤

Posted in indie author, Shaun McCoy, Uncategorized

Electric Blues

By: Shaun O McCoy

“What all of us have to do is to make sure we are using AI in a way that is for the benefit of humanity, not to the detriment of humanity.”  –Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

Johnny– Hello Shaun, thank you for taking the time to talk with me about your book, where did the idea for Electric Blues come from?

Shaun– Ha!  I don’t think I’ve admitted this before, but I wrote this story right after smartphones were coming into the mainstream.  I had a little android phone that I adored, and I wondered what it would be like if it was sentient.

Johnny– LOL, that’s pretty cool. Did you by any chance hang on to it over the years?

Shaun– I did! In fact, even seven or so years later, it still works 😀 

Johnny– That is awesome! And it still works… that’s pretty cool. The opening lines in your book reads: “I can’t love. That’s okay, if you ask me, most humans can’t either.” That is profound, what is Arty telling us in this opening line?

Shaun– Well, first, let’s all hope that Arty is wrong there. The world is a lonely enough place as it is! It’s a little hard to answer this question without dorking out completely, but essentially, I imagine Arty here is dealing with the fact that most people have a romanticized view of love—and even Arty can tell that the people around him don’t have that Romeo and Juliet stuff at their disposal.  Like all of us, I hope, Arty, as he meets new people and sees more relationships, will grow in his understanding of what human love really is.

Johnny– Just so you know, dorking out is completely allowed, in-fact is very much encouraged here, lol. Tell me more about Arty, he seems interesting. He lives in a storage unit due to his unemployment circumstance; it sounds like he is improvising, adapting and overcoming his current situation, which is rather amazing since he seems to be running on a rather dated program.  

Shaun– Well, to be fair, he’s running a pretty darn advanced program compared to what we have today 😀 It just depends on your perspective, I suppose. 

Johnny– I’m constructing that question from Arty’s narration, I guess; he had mentioned that other A.I. models having a more updated programming than he.  As a reader he just seemed like what he lacked in his program he made up through improvising. Was this intentional? Or is Arty pulling a Captain Kirk during his ‘Kobayashi Maru? (LOL)

Shaun– Ha!  I don’t feel Arty is winning the unwinnable Kobayashi Maru scenario here.  Certainly, a Denizen H could come up with the plan that Arty did, and perhaps even a more cost effective one.  That being said, I did envision Arty’s AI as sufficiently complex to display a level of creativity. To use human beings as an analogy, the ability to succeed and be employable is more complex than just how good our pattern recognition (intelligence) is or how good our education is.  Those things help, but they’re not the end all be all.  So too, for an AI, I don’t think that processing power and updated software are always going to win the day.  Maybe most days, but not all of them!

Johnny– There are so many good points to talk about in this book I’m having a hard time choosing one to start with, we know where the idea came from, what was your motivation to write Electric Blues?

Shaun– While I started with the idea of my phone, the story really is a reflection of a lot more than that.  As a child who moved a lot, I’ve definitely lived the fish-out-of-water story, which, to an extent, Electric Blues is.  And, as an analytical person, sometimes I find myself confused, or even occasionally estranged by the people around me who are more intuitive.  Arty, as a robot, works as a pretty good vehicle for getting that estrangement, and the eventual catharsis of finding a way through the world, across.  Social situations are hard, insanely complicated, and yet, people are expected to understand them perfectly.  So, I think it’s easy for a lot of us to feel for Arty because so many of us have walked that same path. 

Johnny– I love the dialog between Arty and the Veterinarian, is Arty starting to develop a personality or is he being logical?

Shaun– Oh yes!  I don’t think you can really have intelligence as we think of it WITHOUT having personality or character.  And, a lot of those character points are going to look like emotions.  That may sound crazy to say about an AI, but hear me out!  Our emotions serve certain purposes.  Anger helps us keep boundaries for our emotional and physical safety, affection helps us treat our friends well, sadness helps us reflect on our life choices, etc. etc.  Arty may not feel anger, but he has to develop habits which keep his boundaries.  He may not feel sadness, but he has to look back on his choices, and his relationships, and see if he can learn better ways, he can handle his next set of choices and relationships.  So, while Arty doesn’t feel like we do, it’s sort of a moot point because he’s thinking in the ways that are the root of our emotions.  I think this is one of the reasons why people can empathize with how Arty feels, even though he isn’t really feeling.  And THAT, I believe, gets back to the first line of the book where Arty says most people can’t love. What that’s really about is the misconception of what love is, and maybe we all have a bit of a misconception of what it means to feel.

Johnny– You seem like a pretty philosophical person so I’m really interested in hearing your thoughts, Knickers basically tells Arty to go help the underprivileged in order to keep his Government assistance, (how revolutionary is that?), do you consider that to be socialism or maybe, responsible, creative government? Or, is it something else?

Shaun– I wasn’t trying to make a point about governments there!  For many people getting government assistance in the US, their assistance is contingent on them looking for work.  I just updated our current laws as if a legislative body were to try and get them to encompass AI.  BUT SINCE YOU ASKED, I think the fact that AI might be able to take jobs from us in a way that automation never could before, we really should be ready to transition to a universal basic income if the need arises 😀

Johnny– I read on your social media profile that you are a former MMA fighter? How did you get started in that? Was this something you did full-time?

Shaun– OH!  Those were beautiful days 😀 The beginnings of that were pretty tragic though.  I was nearly killed by an infection when I was 20.  I was in a coma and hospitalized for two weeks.  When I came out of it, I had trouble walking more than 100 yards.  My Aunt and Uncle, Tori and Barry Polinitza, agreed to let me stay on their horse ranch during the day and train at their martial arts dojo in the nights.  I fell in love with the puzzle of fighting, and eventually just had to try it out in practice.

I never did do MMA as a living/full time though.  I think it’s entirely possible I could have opened up a studio and taught, but though I won all my fights, I don’t think I was good enough to live off of the purses. 

Johnny– That an amazing story Shaun, thanks for sharing, very inspirational! What discipline did you practice?

Shaun– I studied quite a few disciplines!  Shootfighting, Jiu jitsu, Wrestling, Boxing and Mui Thai were the arts which helped me the most.  Almost everyone I was training and competing with had learned one art a youngster, so it was always a puzzle for me to make sure I had the skills to avoid or neutralize what my opponents were bringing to the table. 

Johnny– Do you still train and/or compete?

Shaun– I do a little boxing, but I’m retired from fighting now!  I play tournament chess to satisfy my competitive drive.

Johnny– Which is more vicious? I’ve heard chess tournaments can be downright brutal. Are they that competitive?

Shaun– Brutal is certainly the right word for competitive chess!  Imagine taking the Bar to become a lawyer, but that the exam is taking you back.  You’re thinking as hard as you can for over five hours at times, and the toll it takes is difficult to explain.  The brain is a top calorie using organ in the human body, and when measured, it apparently eats up as much calories in a professional chess game as an NBA basketball player’s entire body will burn in their game.   Which is more vicious?  Definitely MMA!  After a few days rest, you’re going to be recovered from almost any chess game.  That’s not true for huge number of fights! 

Johnny– What made you want to become a writer?

Shaun– I feel like I have a million answers to that question, and maybe they all come together into one giant answer!  My father and grandfather told me stories growing up which lit my mind on fire.  My mother would always find time to read to me.  My friends and I would play make believe growing up, so storytelling was baked into my early socializing.  I played a ton of dungeons and dragons and had to run and write the campaigns for my friends.  I read the entire fiction section of my middle school library in sixth grade and it started to leak out of my ears in prose.  There are ideas I experience which are so beautiful I feel like I have to share them with other people.  I feel alive after I write. 

But, if there’s anything the research on consciousness I did for Electric Blues has taught me, it’s that people are particularly terrible at giving the reasons for why they do things.  So, who knows?

Johnny– Ha! Fair enough, have any of the stories told to you by your father and grandfather ever made it into any of your writing?

Shaun– Not the stories themselves, but my father’s world building and my grandfather’s way of building a character certainly come through a good bit in what I do.

Johnny– Was Electric Blues your first book?

Shaun– Not by a long shot!  The first book I wrote was in seventh grade.  I don’t know that anyone should read it though.  My first full length novel that was published is Even Hell Has Knights.

Johnny– What writing plans have you got for the upcoming year? Any projects in the works?

Shaun– Oh yes!  Wasteland, a book in my Hellsong Universe, is in its final editing stage.  It should be a beaut!

Johnny– Oh sweet, any release date ETS’s?

Shaun– We’re working on late first quarter next year!  That gives you guys plenty of time to catch up!  You can start the series here:

Johnny– Who inspires you?

Shaun– I have a ton of heroes!  Some from the sports I’ve competed in.  Garry Kasparov in Chess, who branched out to fight for fair elections in Russia and who helped move his home village to safety during regional unrest.  Mirko Filipović, a fighter who got elected to the Croatian Parliament.  Epicurus, who’s philosophy is so strangely modern!  But it’s not just my heroes who inspire me!  I have a friend who quit his job and gave up his dreams because he felt what he was being asked to do was unethical.  And I have friends who are actually raising decent human beings!  How the crap are they doing that?  I could never do that! 

Johnny– Who is your favorite author/writer?

Shaun– Frederik Pohl, I think, is amazing.  I really think his material is right up there with Asimov and Bradbury, but he’s not as well known.  I’d recommend Gateway to anyone looking to get into him. 

Johnny– Do you have a sequel planned or written for Electric Blues?

Shaun– I do!  There is a sequel out now for Arty called Binary Jazz.  I have a third one planned, called Digital Muse, which is on the backburner.  I feel that it wouldn’t be a good Arty story if the theme didn’t in some way tackle an emotion.  Electric Blues deals with depression, while Binary Jazz is primarily about how positive and negative emotions build friendships.  The third story will touch on the idea love and how human beings in love look from Arty’s perspective. 

Johnny– I notice Electric Blues was on Audible, (Great performance by Gabrielle Olexa btw), are any other books been converted to audio?

Shaun– They’re not!  Electric Blues is the only one so far!  I agree that Gabe did a fabulous job on the audio.  Getting someone to be monotone for that long and still keep the story exciting to listen to was no easy task!

https://www.audible.com/pd/Electric-Blues-Audiobook/B00GR9GGLA

Johnny– Absolutely! Her monotone was nothing short of phenomenal! (I’ve included a link above for anyone wanting to listen to this amazing performance). Shaun, what is your process when you begin writing a book from an idea?

Shaun– For me, it seems different for each story.  Sometimes there’s an image or scene that burns its way into my consciousness, and I play the detective to see what came before it and after it.  For the Hellsong series, the setting came first, and the story-lines emerged as I imagined how people would handle that particular damnation.  At other times there’s a concept or emotion I have that I want to share, and the story is just the best way to communicate it with another person. 

Johnny– Any advice for inspiring writers, cage fighters, or chess players?

Shaun– All three pursuits straddle the line between science and art.  They require both phenomenal discipline and unfettered passion.  Most people I meet have one of the two requirements down.  My advice to anyone who is chasing one of these three endeavors is to find the area you are most lacking, whether it be discipline or passion, and feed the weaker of the two. 

Review

Electric Blues is a fun futuristic tale of an A.I. that is looking for his purpose. In doing so Arty teaches us all the possible meaning of life. To think that this whole story came about because of a smartphone blows me away, and so does this book.

With plenty of room for this franchise to grow I can hardly wait to see what Arties next adventure will be.

Dynamic narration is necessary to make this book work for the reader. Logical and engaging dialog are entwined presenting a believe-ability that will easily hold your interest to the end. Shaun has done a wonderful job with Electric Blues.

Personally, I love the fact that coping with his current reality Artie is teaching me the basics principles of philosophy. While searching for his purpose in an ever advancing world, Artie has taught me that adapting is surviving, when one door closes another opens, it’s just depend on how one chooses to view it.

I’m giving Electric Blues five stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ on both Goodreads and Amazon because of it is original, humorous, and intelligent. I walk away from this book feeling both amused and charmed, but most importantly, entertained.

Shaun proves that sometimes the little things that come into our lives can provide some great opportunities. He also proved that with hard work and determination you can overcome adversity. Good luck 🍀 with all your endeavors Shaun, I’m a Fan! 🙏

Be on the look-out for these other books by Shaun McCoy.

Be sure to follow him on Twitter

✌❤

Posted in Antara, indie author, Uncategorized

Ghost Stories

By: Antara Roy O

“A scene should be selected by the writer for haunted-ness-of-mind interest.
If you’re not haunted by something, as by a dream, a vision, or a memory, which are involuntary, you’re not interested or even involved.” ― Jack Kerouac

I don’t know about you, but I love a good ghost story. Growing up in the Ozarks I remember hearing stories that made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. There were no explanations, no reasoning, just a story, and it was scary. Naturally when I came across Ghost Stories, I jumped at the chance to talk with author, Antara Roy O.

Johnny– Hi Antara, thank you for taking the time to talk with me. This was so much fun! What made you want to write Ghost Stories?

Antara– Hi Johnny, it’s always a pleasure to talk to fellow ghost story enthusiasts, and good to be here! 

   I have always been a keen ghost story enthusiast. Perhaps, growing up in a small, quaint town with majestic pine trees all around me helped to nurture my interest in the paranormal. There was my grandma’s old, rambling bungalow up on a hill that is said to be haunted, and then there were plenty of ghostly tales that I listened to while sitting around bonfires during winter nights.

 You could say that the atmosphere I grew up in was perpetually infused with countless supernatural tales. The ghosts were everywhere, part of my growing years, and I never stopped being intrigued by them. 

Johnny– That sounds like a beautiful place. Has any of the stories you heard growing up ever been solved or explained scientifically?

Antara– None that I know of. It is hard to explore these inexplicable terrains and in a small town like ours, no one was up for exploring or finding a scientific perspective to things. Those who sighted the ghosts or experienced the hauntings told their stories, and those who were afraid kept out of the way! You could say that we mortals maintained a respectful distance from the supernatural beings.

Johnny– Are these stories that you’ve heard, or did you create them?

Antara-Most of these stories are inspired by true life encounters I have heard through the years, while some are works of my imagination. 

Johnny– Are the works of your imagination inspired by something you may have experienced in real life?

Antara– Most of my stories are inspired by the eerie and majestic setting of my home town. I have once heard a door open all by itself in the dead of the night in my childhood home. Also, the true-life encounters of my immediate family members and relatives were enough to keep my creative spirit going.

Johnny– If you had to pick one out of your book, which would be your favorite?

Antara– My favorite would be ‘The girl by the lake.’ This story is inspired by a local legend about a beautiful girl who wanders around the highway, by a lake. She waylays travelers who are much smitten by her beauty and follow her into the depths of a forest. 

Johnny– That one is my favorite as well. What made you a fan of the paranormal and supernatural? Have you ever experienced anything like that?

Antara– I have always been fascinated by the paranormal and supernatural. I have had a couple of experiences which have left me both terrified and intrigued. When I was in school, there was a ghost visiting our house and like I mentioned, I heard a door creaking and opening in the middle of the night. When we turned on the lights, there was no one around. Needless to say, such experiences are unnerving but they also make me feel alive and strangely curious about the otherworldly.

Johnny– Was this the only ghostly or paranormal experience you ever encountered?

Antara– There was one more, and this was much away from my original home. It happened here in the city that I now live in, Bangalore. A dear friend had lost his life in an accident and that very day I had seen a vision of him across the road. This experience chilled me to the bones and at the same time I was grateful that his spirit had appeared to come to bid me goodbye.

Johnny– Are you more fascinated or frightened by the unexplained?

Antara– I would say a good measure of both. At times my fascination helps me bridge over my fears and at times my fears keep my fascinations in check!

Johnny– In your opinion, what makes a good ghost story?

Antara– While there are no set rules to writing a good ghost story, but it helps to have the element of suspense. It is also important to create an apt eerie atmosphere, to draw the reader in and offer a completely satisfying, spooky experience. One of my readers told me once of how he loved the way one of my stories transported him to another world, as he sat waiting for his doctor’s appointment for a nasty ear infection. 

Johnny– How do you collect ghost stories? Do people contact you or do you try to go out and experience it yourself?

Antara– Whenever I can, I speak to people of their supernatural experiences. Also, a really fascinating thing happened after I began to write and publish ghost stories. I started to receive messages on Facebook and Twitter from strangers who said they enjoyed reading my ghost stories and would like me to hear their stories. While some of these I have listened to and respected them for their personal details, the rest I plan to turn into stories, with the permission of the narrators.

Johnny– Tell me a little something about yourself , (where are you from, what do you do for fun, favorite foods, hobbies, pets etc…)

Antara– I come from the Eastern valleys of India, and although I have traveled far away from my home and have moved towns and cities ever since, my heart always belongs to my native valleys.

 Other than my fascination with the paranormal, I love writing poetry. I write a lot of nature poems, some of which are motivational and inspirational. You can find my poems on Instagram (antara.ro). It does sound funny- my two interests, nature and the supernatural, but one does strangely complement the other, and I always believe that everything in the universe is inter-connected. I also enjoy playing the guitar and the piano. One of my favorite things to do is to head out on long drives with the music on. I enjoy baking and cooking new, exotic cuisines. When a newly cooked dish turns into a disaster, my dear husband is always there to encourage me to keep going.

my dear husband is always there to encourage me to keep going.

Johnny– He sounds like an awesome individual. When you go out on long drives what kind of music do you listen to?

Antara– I am a devoted fan of Rock and blues music and my favorite bands include The Allman Brothers Band, Counting Crows, Blind Melon, Lemonheads, Nirvana, The Cranberries, and many others.

Johnny– Great bands! Sounds like a 90’s roadtrip waiting to happen. Is Ghost Stories the only book you’ve written?

Antara– I have written another book of short stories. These are mostly stories of childhood adventures. The book is named, ‘Simply, Bahadur,’ inspired by the character of an old, quirky gardener who worked in my grandma’s garden. These are gentle, feel good childhood tales describing the picturesque beauty of the valleys and the many delightful, eccentric people I met through my growing years.

Johnny– That sounds like a good read. It almost sounds like what we call around here,  folk-stories, does the study of human behavior and customs interest you?

Antara– I’m immensely drawn to the study of human nature and folklore. There is so much magic in this world and I believe that one lifetime isn’t enough to thoroughly revel in it all!

Johnny– What other books do you have planned? Are you currently working on anything?

Antara– Presently, I’m working on a paranormal mystery novel. The story is set in an old, quaint town and there will be plenty of black magic and witchcraft thrown in. I’m truly excited to complete it and get it out into the world!

Johnny– Oh that sounds interesting, will this be released in 2020?

Antara– Yes, most definitely, and I hope it appeals to the lovers of spook and witchcraft out there!

Johnny– I’m sure it will! Thank you so much Antara for taking the time to talk to me, it has been a pleasure!

REVIEW

What can I say, I’m a sucker for the supernatural.

Growing up in the Ozarks nothing delighted me more than hearing a tale that made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. It was exhilarating.  It made me feel alive.

This is what delights me about Ghost Stories, Antara has captured in this book everything that I love, it’s both frightful and delightful!

Warning! 👻 Enter at your own risk. ⚠

From her native India she share tales that were passed down through local folklore and legend. Her prose is smooth and calm, her openings are so clear I feel as though I see the lay of the land a half a world away. The beauty of this book it that it’s without boundaries.

❤❤❤

Ghost Stories does what governments has been trying to do for hundreds if not thousands of years, it unites us as people, it brings us together if only for a short amount of time as humans sharing a spine tickling experiences.

I’m giving Ghost Stories five stars⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ on both Amazon and Goodreads. It fascinates me, it makes me feel young, it made me feel alive.

If you haven’t already read Ghost Stories I highly recommend that you do.

Antara has proven that she is a master of storytelling, passing along the spoken word of her ancestors to this written work of art.

https://twitter.com/antara_oruganti

Be sure and Follow Antara on Twitter

https://www.instagram.com/antara.or/

Purchase Simply, Bahadur,’ HERE.

Visit her Authors Page on Amazon.

✌❤

Posted in indie author, Random stuff about my blog, Uncategorized

My Summer Friend

By Ophelia Rue

In the midnight hour she cried more, more, more Billy Idol

My Summer Friend is a fast 60 page read that takes us into the life and struggles of a young man who also happens to be an introvert that is coping with the loss of his grandparent and a negligent mother.

Johnny– Hello Ophelia and thank you for taking the time to talk to me. This book covers a lot of relevant topics in the world today. What inspired you to write My Summer Friend?

Ophelia– My degrees are in Psychology and Education so I work with high school students with social/ emotional issues. I think it was a combination of that, and my own upbringing having been raised by a 19 year old single mother.

Johnny– You seem like a focused and driven individual; do you think being raised by a single mother made you a stronger person.

Ophelia– It meant a lot of time spent alone. She worked full time and earned her BA part time at night so I had a lot of time to think, to use imagination and form my own opinions. The solitude was positive in that regard but led to a pretty serious lack of social skills. We lived with my grandparents early on so she was gone before I would wake up and I was in bed before she got home. The one thing she stressed was that education was the only way to escape being poor so I was held to a pretty high standard in that regard, but once the pre-teen years hit, it become much more difficult to maintain the confidence necessary to do well in school when there are so many instabilities and inequities in your life.

Johnny– This book expresses (with what I believed to be) the misunderstanding of being an introvert. Was one of your goals to bring awareness to this personality facet?

Ophelia– Yes. I think introverts, especially young males, can struggle socially. People may assume introverts don’t like other people or are shy with poor coping mechanisms. At the same time, I think young introverts may assume extroverts are less introspective and shallow and it can be upsetting to them when extrovert’s traits are favored by society.

Johnny– How difficult was it for you to create your main character, Ed? What kind of homework did you have to do? (If any)

Ophelia– Ed came pretty naturally. I spent a few years after college working at a school for juvenile sex offenders and fire setters so he is a combination of me and some of my former students.

Johnny– Working with either of those groups sounds pretty intense. How intimidating was it to go to work there straight out of college?

Ophelia– It was pretty intense. You go through the restraint training and read their profiles as part of the orientation but nothing really prepares you. You need to just jump in and be willing to screw up and grow. It’s a lot of violence and sadness. You see the results of the cycle of abuse. It takes a toll on you. The two images that stick with me most from that time are my first restraint when this 16 year old kid was trying to injure himself by lying down and repeatedly banging his head really hard on the gym floor. We restrained him with two holding him down and another bracing his head so he couldn’t bang it while we tried to talk him down. He got so mad that he couldn’t move his head that he bit through his tongue and started spitting blood at us. I can still picture him vividly, laying on the floor laughing with all that blood in his teeth.

The other incident that sticks with me was when I was getting something out of one of the residences for the younger kids. It was empty because they were having a Christmas party in another building with the staff and a few of the parents that showed up. The rooms had no doors and I saw this little kid’s basketball trophy on his bureau and I couldn’t help but think, who did he show that to when he got it? I just stared at it for a while in this cold institutional room trying to stop crying so I could go back to work.

Johnny– Wow, that is intense. Your heart is in the right place and I praise you for that. Who is the villain in this book? When I first got into this, I was thinking his mom was a bad seed, in the end you changed my mind. Then I was thinking the rich kid, then society for always favoring the upper class, who do you consider to be the anti-hero?

Ophelia– I think if you had to choose a character to be the villain it would be Paul Wheeler because he acts purely out of self interest. The rich kid is as much a product of his environment as Ed. I see the main conflict in our society being between individuals and their own identity. People seem to establish whatever identity will result in the greatest social benefit within their peer group. This is why I think adolescence is so difficult and adults are so rigid when presented with information that challenges the basis of their identity. Any change to how you see yourself may have social implications. That is the one thing I have found that people cannot tolerate and leads to the creation of justifications that can become problematic. This is most obvious to me on the macro scale of the socio/political but starts with the establishment of individual identity within a person’s peer group. Social media exposes people to a wider variety of perspectives which may challenge beliefs and therefore identity, so I think things will be rocky on the macro before it settles down. These little shells of identity are cracking and the reaction is quite polarizing and intense.

Johnny – I totally agree with your comment of Paul Wheeler acting purely out of self-interest. It seems we see this too often unfolding out each time we turn on the news. Was this social observation done on purpose or did it just work out that way in your story?

Ophelia– It wasn’t intentional. The twist wasn’t even in the original outline. It came as I wrote it. I look for themes and layers when editing. For example, once that twist became part of the story I was able to go back and add all of the broken home imagery every time Ed went on a date with Elise, like the condemned house in the woods, broken lighthouse at the airport bar, dilapidated house in Newport, and burning house in Providence.

Johnny– On the back of your book cover, it reads: “This edgy novella is a modern American love story that offers a glimpse into the psyche of a disturbed young man.” Is he disturbed or misunderstood?

Ophelia– He is disturbed in the sense that the identity he has worked to establish when he is finally free of his past, becomes challenged when he returns home. He is misunderstood in that I don’t think he is acting in an abnormal way given the circumstances of his situation.

Johnny– You portray an attempted date rape situation on the beach. How hard was it for you to write that scene? (Good job btw, I don’t know why, but that was uncomfortable).

Ophelia– Thanks. I wrote it from a distance because I wanted to focus on Ed’s reaction to it. That part was difficult. What would it feel like to value someone so much that is taken for granted by another? I wanted to capture the sense of worthlessness and powerlessness.

Johnny– What are you wanting your readers to take away from this book?

Ophelia– Question your identity. How do your beliefs benefit you within the context of your immediate peer group? Have you established these beliefs purely for personal social benefit or because they are true? Are you willing to be vulnerable enough to change and grow? Can you incorporate that willingness to change and grow into your identity rather than live a comfortably dogmatic existence? Can you understand how identity functions in others and have the patience to help them grow rather than dismiss them entirely? Can you recognize when someone is not willing to change and disengage rather than engaging in pointless conflict to reinforce your own identity?

Johnny– Was Elise an obsession or a crush?

Ophelia– She is an obsession because she checks all the boxes for him. She is his only connection to society. She is attractive. She validates his rejection of society by crossing the lake. She also fills the void his mother left. This is why no one else compares to her in his mind.

Johnny– What advise do you have for unpublished authors who are trying to get started?

Ophelia Write like no one will ever read it.

Johnny– Ophelia I feel as though I’ve learned a lot from and about you, professionally, throughout our conversation, what do you like to do to for fun or to unwind?

Ophelia– I unwind with exercise, music and watching Patriots games.

Johnny– Thank you Ophelia for taking the time to talk with me, I really enjoyed My Summer Friend, I’m recommending it to everyone I know. Do you have any other books in the works?

Ophelia– Thanks Johnny, these are great questions. I appreciate the opportunity. I wrote a book called Something in the Water. It’s a book of short stories about other misfits that live around the lake from My Summer Friend. The stories all intertwine in subtle ways and have twist endings. Right now, I’m working on a novella named Exuvia which is related to the Something in the Water stories. It is about a photojournalist who enters the world of a group of young rich people under the guise of doing a story on them, but he has a hidden motive. I also released book three of my sci-fi series in June. Its title is The Infinite Eye, which is a sequel to Eclipse and Typhon. It is a dark sci-fi adventure similar to the tone of the Expanse or Culture series. They are all available on Amazon in ebook and paperback. I also have some hidden prizes on my website opheliarue.com

REVIEW

Ophelia has penned a story that is as beautiful as it is tragic. Ed’s reality comes to him through the lens of a telescope, it’s not until he’s forced to come out of his make-believe world that he meets the object of his desires face-to-face.

As you can read from our conversation, Ophelia defiantly knows what she’s talking about, she’s lived it, and she’s not afraid to talk about it. Written with a cynical styled cleverness, Ophelia has created a character deserving of both our admiration and pity.

I love this book and highly recommend it. Coming in at 60 pages it is a fast afternoon read that will satisfy while indulging your reading desires.


I’m giving My Summer Friend five stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ on both Goodreads and Amazon. It’s gritty, raw, and it’s real. I LOVE IT!

Maybe there is a little of Ed in all of us, maybe that’s whats drawn me in, mental health is a real world issue, it’s not going away no matter how hard we try to ignore it. Thank you Ophelia, for allowing us to see the world through your MAGNIFICENT eyes.


If you haven’t read it you should. Ophelia is defiantly an author that I WANT read again.

FOLLOW OPHELIA ON TWITTER

https://twitter.com/opheliarue1?lang=en

Be sure to check these other books by Ophelia.

Amazon

✌❤

Posted in indie author, Rebecca Hefner, Uncategorized

THE END OF HATRED BY Rebecca Hefner

Upon entering into this book, I was magically swept away into a dimension created by the mind of Rebecca Hefner. It was a very beautiful place.

Johnny– Hello Rebecca! Thank you for taking the time to talk with me. The title of your book is: The End of Hatred: Etherya’s Earth, Book 1. How many books did you envision when you start writing this?

Rebecca– I wasn’t sure exactly how many books it would turn out to be.  All I knew was that the characters were so vivid in my mind.  Miranda and Sathan appeared first in my imagination, followed shortly by Lila and Latimus.  I knew immediately that the second book in the series would be about Lila and Latimus.  In my mind, the first four books of the series were really one long book in my head!

Johnny– What inspired you to write this book?

Rebecca– I’ve always been a voracious reader.  My two favorite genres are romance and sci-fi/fantasy.  I love steamy romance, because I think that seeing two characters get intimate is the deepest you can go into their soul.  However, I need a slow burn, where I really get to know the characters, and see their relationship develop, before I see them get to those intimate scenes.  I also really like a fantasy world, filled with creatures with magical powers and mysterious history.  I wanted to write a book that combined a sweeping fantasy with the intimate romance that I loved

Johnny– I’m glad you mentioned that you are a fan of steamy romance, because there are parts of this book that get SMOKING. Do you find yourself having to re-editing some of your “spicier” scenes, to keep them from getting to hot? I ask because your romance scenes get super vivid but never really get explicit.

Rebecca– Great question!  I have always loved a steamy love scene, and believe that this is a natural thing that everyone experiences, so I want the scenes to be vivid.  However, my mother reads these books, and that’s always in the back of my mind when I’m writing them.  I’ll usually go back over my love scenes as I remind myself, “Mom will be reading this…”, and edit from there.  I don’t want to sacrifice the steam and intimacy, but I also want to be tasteful.  It’s a fine line that I’m always working hard to balance!

Johnny– In the prologue you wrote that Etherya had created a flawless species, the Slayera, but since she was imperfect, the universe objected. How was the Goddess flawed? Or are you saving that for something later?

Rebecca– Oh, yes.  As the series progresses, we definitely begin to see Etherya’s flaws.  In Book 4, The Reluctant Savior, there’s a big revelation about Etherya’s past.  But I love a good twist and don’t want to give that away, so keep reading!

Johnny– What visual references did you use when you created the Vampyres and the Slayera?

Rebecca– I just knew that I wanted the Vampyres to be tall and hulking and I wanted the Slayera to appear more human-like.  That physical discrepancy would help cement the Slayera’s dependency upon the Vampyres for physical protection.

Johnny– Obviously from your description the Vampyres would be noticeable, Slayera, I’m guessing more human-ish, how do you picture them in your mind? 

Rebecca– In my mind, the Slayera were created as the best version of humans.  However, due to Valktor’s murderous actions, they lose their almost-perfect status and become fallible.  I equate it to death of Icarus in Greek mythology or the fall of Sampson in the Bible.  These age-old stories exist to remind us not get too complacent in our “perfection”.  The Slayera had become so and, once their kingdom fell, they were thrust into a thousand-year war.

Johnny– I really love that this book occurs inside the boundaries of a parallel universe. You’re obviously a well read and well thought out individual, what are your thoughts on interdimensional travel and parallel universe?

Rebecca– I love that you asked this question!  I’m a super-science dorkI went to Space Camp when I was a teenager and went to Governer’s School for physics when I was in high school.  To say that I love all things to do with relativity (time travel!) and parallel universes (string theory, anyone??) would be an understatement.  In fact, the current series I’m working on has a heroine who’s a theoretical physicist trying to figure out time travel.  I believe that we, on this pale blue dot (as Carl Sagan would say), represent such a dichotomy.  We are conscious beings, who feel so deeply and contemplate our existence but, in the vastness of the universe, I truly believe we are only a small, insignificant speck of dust amongst other universes and dimensions.  This isn’t to say that we’re not important.  Instead, it’s an opportunity for us to see everyone on the planet as one species:  human.  If we allow ourselves, our shared moment in time on this planet could be something so beautiful.  I think we’re at a precarious moment in our evolution right now where we have the opportunity to choose unity or division.  One will further our species and one could extinguish us.  I love to write about these themes in my books!

Johnny– Well said. Super-science dork authors are the best! Do you have a release date planned for your current series?

Rebecca– I don’t have firm dates yet.  I’d like to have my next two books out by Spring 2020.  That would be Book 5 in the Etherya’s Earth series and Book 1 in my new series.  But I also don’t want to rush the writing.  That leads so underdeveloped plots and characters, and it’s important to me that everything is well thought out.  Also, it takes my editor about a month to edit, then I have to revise, and then my proofreader takes about another month, so it’s a long process to get these books from my computer into reader’s hands.  But I’m furiously working on them and am really excited to get them out there!

Johnny– If you were casting this as a movie, and could choose anyone you want, who would your stars be?

Rebecca– Oh, I play this game on Instagram sometimes with my followers.  It’s so fun!  Okay, here we go:

Miranda:  Kate Beckinsale

Sathan:  Henry Cavill

Latimus:  Jason Momoa

Lila:  Nicole Kidman

Arderin:  Megan Fox

Darkrip:  Tyler Hoechlin

Evie:  Scarlett Johansson

Kenden:  Scott Eastwood

I mean, it’s not like I’ve thought about this or anything… 😊

Johnny– Ah, Evie, please tell us something about Evie. (Great cast btw, Nichole Kidman as Lila, be still my heart) ❤

Rebecca– Ha!  Yes, those are some great actresses.  Evie has been my absolute favorite character to write in the series (followed closely by Darkrip).  At first glance, she seems so evil and broken, but over the series the reader gets to know her.  By the time we reach Book 4 in the series, we really see inside her mind and understand how complex she really is and why she became that way.  Her journey is a really interesting one, and it was extremely fun to write.

Johnny– This book deals with a few topics that are (sadly) relevant in the world today, two of them being, racism and gender equality. I once read that Gene Roddenberry had used racism and culture intolerance when he was developing Star Trek. Was this an intentional goal of yours?

Rebecca– Absolutely.  It was really important to me that we see Miranda’s journey against sexism in this book.  One of the main themes is her gaining the courage to defy her father and claim her throne.  As someone who grew up in the South, there was constant “programming” of what roles a woman should play (wife, mother, college graduate, etc.).  Those are all fine if the person chooses them, but they shouldn’t be forced.  I wanted to show Miranda coming into her own and gaining the strength to claim the throne that was rightfully hers. And yes, I wanted to use the two different species as metaphors for the racism we see in our society.  In the beginning of the book, we learn that the species stay separate.  As Miranda and Sathan fall in love, they contemplate what that will mean for those age-old traditions.  They must have the strength to realize that they are one people—immortals—instead of two different races.  It goes back to what I was saying above about our planet’s place in the universe.  No one looking at the human race from outer space would identify us as black, white, Mexican, Indian or Asian; they would identify us as humans.  Eventually, Miranda and Sathan begin to understand that their people are much stronger as Immortals rather than separating themselves into Slayers and Vampyres.

Johnny– What was the first book you ever written? Did it get published?

Rebecca– This is the first book I’ve ever published!  I’m a self-published author and that was definitely the right path for me.  There are many advantages to being self-published and to being traditionally published.  I firmly believe that each author must research and determine what path is right for them.

Johnny– Do you use beta-readers?

Rebecca– I don’t use beta readers, just because I’m so ready to get the books out once they’re back from my editor and proofreader, that I usually get them up for sale when they’re ready.  However, I have a group of awesome readers and reviewers who will accept an ARC copy of my book and leave honest reviews.  They are the first people I reach out to when I publish a new book and I always welcome their feedback. 

Johnny– Are you a self-editor?

Rebecca– I definitely am, but I also like to let the story flow.  I’ll usually write a section or chapter, and let the words flow onto the page, and then go back and read and edit it.  I also have an amazing editor who I send my books to once they’re ready.  She always comes back to me with great edits that make the story even better!

Johnny– What advice do you have for unpublished authors looking to get started?

Rebecca– Wow.  Such a loaded question.  I might actually write a book like this one day and title it something like, “What I Wished I’d Known Before I Published My First Book.”  I made so many mistakes in the beginning but now, I’ve pretty much figured it out.  My advice would be a few things:

  • Go on YouTube and search “self-publishing”.  There are about a million videos on there by people who want to help fellow authors just starting out.
  • You can also search for “better writing” and learn how to write more efficiently.  The written word is more concise than conversation and learning how to compose your thoughts on paper effectively makes all the difference.
  • Join the #writingcommunity on Twitter and interact with everyone you can.  I’ve met so many other amazing authors there!

Johnny– Good tips, how do you plan your book once you’ve locked in on an idea and have decided to write it? What’s your process?

Rebecca– I do a rough outline, and reference that as I write, but I usually just let my fingers tap and let the characters lead me.  They always lead me to a place that is a thousand times better than what I originally plotted.  They’re like real, live people who live in my head!

Johnny– Tell me something about yourself that not everyone knows.

Rebecca– Hmmm.  I love solo travel and have visited many places in the world.  I spent the entire month of September 2018 in Japan and that’s where I wrote most of The Elusive Sun! I also saw the most amazing sunset of my life while I was there and used that exact backdrop for a scene in The Darkness Within.  There’s something about travel that just refills my soul.

Johnny– What an amazing story, now when I read those books, they will even be a little more special. Have you got any other wonderful journeys planned?

Rebecca– For now, I’m just excited to head to Colorado for Christmas with my family.  My brother, his wife and their daughter live there, and my mother and I will be flying in to spend the holiday with them.

Johnny– What is the everyday Rebecca like?

Rebecca– I’m a tireless perfectionist who’s decided to pursue a full-time writing career.  It’s so fun, but extremely challenging.  I write a lot, and also focus on marketing my books, but I also take time to ensure that I’m doing yoga or taking some time to be active.  This is the first thing I’ve ever done that isn’t an “active” job, so I have to remember to get up and get the blood moving.  But that’s pretty much it right now—writing and living each day to the fullest.  I really want to build this into a career and am trying my best to do that every day!

Pepper

BONUS QUESTION

Johnny– There is an internal battle that Miranda struggles with, does she follow tradition or follow her heart. We know which path she chose, now, are you a traditionalist or are you someone who follows her heart?

Rebecca– Someone who follows my heart, definitely.  It’s so important to remember that no one is going to live your dreams for you.  Although it’s tough and scary, it’s important to listen to your inner-voice and pursue your passions.  Although I believe in taking calculated risks, I believe that challenging yourself and stepping outside of your comfort zone only makes you better!

Rebecca Thank you for taking the time to talk to me, you have been an absolute delightful!

Review

I don’t think it would take a rocket scientist to figure out that I love this book. To be perfectly honest it blew me away.

There is something about Rebecca’s writing that leaves me in awe. It’s both comfortable and yet somewhat familiar.🤷‍♀️ We spoke about it during our conversation, using fantasy, science, and adventure her manuscript speaks to us in metaphors, and if only we would listen, it would make us all better at being human.

I’m hooked. I’m more that hooked I’m enamored.

I can not believe that before I read this book I have never heard of Rebecca Hefner. After reading her book I feel like I’ve known her my whole life. Very few authors can make their readers that comfortable. Yet, Rebecca makes it look easy. That is a beautiful thing that has came from a beautiful mind that has only begun to blossom. I’ve already started book two, The Elusive Sun 🔥🔥🔥🔥 and love it just as much.

I’m giving The End of Hatred five stars⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ on Goodreads and Amazon because it’s a smart Sexy fun book to read!

If you haven’t read this book you should, I highly recommend it. Follow the link below to enter the wonderful world of Rebecca Hefner. You won’t regret it. 😉

Be on the look out for the rest of this 🔥 series… ❤❤

Follow Rebecca Hefner   Facebook I Instagram I Twitter I Amazon I Goodreads I BookBub I Website

✌❤

Posted in Lois Snelling, Random stuff about my blog, Uncategorized

Lois Snelling

Mysterious Author

As a kid growing up in the 70’s I lived next door to a witch. Let me rephrase that, I believed my family and I lived next door to a witch.

Growing up in Rogers Arkansas during the 70’s probably wasn’t much different then growing up in another small town in America. Walmart was still in its development stage so downtown was full of mom and pop shops, there was four elementary schools, two junior highs, and one high school.

Wal-Mart Store 1 Rogers, Arkansas

Lake Atlanta housed the town swimming pool. It cost fifty cents to enter, it opened at eleven o’clock everyday and was “the place to be” during the summer. Across the lane from the pool sat Lake Atlanta Skating Rink. It to cost fifty cents to enter, if you needed to rent skates you could for an additional twenty-five cents.

Lake Atlanta Pool

During the summer months the skating rink was usually abandoned so the owner had installed a miniature golf course next door, he would also rent the skating rink out for dances, wedding receptions, etc. during this down time. During the school year the place was filled to capacity every Friday and Saturday night. It was another the place to be”.

Hopping with the latest 70’s fashion the patrons of this fine establishment wore the latest rock-band T’s or flashy disco shirts, along with Levi jeans, and feathered hair doo’s, Oh yeah, fashion was on parade at Lake Atlanta Skating Rink. Of course, the cooler you looked on skates determined your level of popularity, and if you skated or sat out during couples skate.

Lake Atlanta at time of construction , the skating rink is the building on the right.

The place was owned by a guy named Dennis. He was typical seventies. A skinny white guy, permed Afro, bell bottom slacks, satin shirt the was unbuttoned down almost to his mid stomach and shiny half boots that zipped on the side. He was cool! Dennis drove an awesome Stingray Corvette and was the envy of every adolescent male youth that hung around his establishment. I think he use to date my aunt Connie when they were in high school, he always asked about her.

We lived in a dry county so the only drinking night life for adults happened at a privately-owned spot in Rogers called The Anchor Club.

Rogers Arkansas was the typical bible belt town.

Everyone went to church on Sunday morning, if you didn’t you were a heathen. Our town had our share of heathen also, of course, I thought they were cool.

OH, THE HUMANITY

If you were male and between the ages of twelve and eighteen (or the youngest male that fell in between those ages, congratulations, you were that families designated lawn mower.

Lawns were to be mowed once a week, if you were creative enough there was always a couple of lawns on your block that was needing to be mowed, easy pickins for the up-and-coming entrepreneurs, they could rake in an extra three to five bucks per yard to fund his summer time goings-on. ✌

My families next-door neighbor had lived in an old rickety small white house that set on the corner of Nineteenth and Oak Street, her yard was thick with dense bushes, scraggly trees with very little little room left for a lawn, everything was overgrown and the place oozed with creepiness. This was where the neighborhood “witch” lived, her name was Lois Snelling.

She was a witch, we had evidence. She was old, had white wiry hair, she never looked or talked to any of the neighborhood kids, she didn’t have a car, she never went anywhere and no one ever came to see her. Need more proof, she didn’t go to church on Sunday, such Witchcraft.

Lois Snelling wasn’t a witch; she was however a bit of a recluse, or so she seemed, she lived next door to her sister and brother-in-law, (happens more than you think) they had lived on the corner of Oak Street and New Hope Road. This explains a few things, I later learned they would all go to town and do their shopping together and that Lois was active in the community and contributed to the local newspaper.

You see, Lois Snelling was a published author. She had written ten books mostly mystery, a few non-fictions, one of them was a biography of a colorful local founder by the name of William HopeCoin” Harvey. My school librarian had once told me that her books had been published in at least six different languages.

Lois Snelling

Oh, the lost opportunity to talk to such a person. The stories she could have told. In 1980 Lois Snelling had donated to the University of Arkansas thirty-six research items she used to write Harvey’s biography.

Not a lot is known about Lois nowadays, but I want to change that.

Newspaper clipping Rogers Daily News

I’m looking for her books, scouring the internet to learn more about this forgotten character, that has forever, been etched into my mind.

I owe that to her.

To be continued…..

✌❤

Posted in Barbara Avon, indie author, Uncategorized

Timepiece by: Barbara Avon

“Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.” … William Shakespeare

Timepiece begins with two soulmates living in the 1930’s, (pre-wall street-crash), married, in love, then they come across a means to travel across time and choose to take it before troubled times erupt.

Johnny– Hi Barbara, thank you for taking time to talk with me. I noticed on Amazon that you have written a few books. How many books have you written? 

Barbara– Thank you for this opportunity, Johnny!  I have written and self-published seventeen books of various genres.  Three are children’s books.  I began with romantic suspense but quickly felt the urge to branch out from there.  I tacked Fantasy next (time travel), and several other genres after that. Timepiece is my fourth time travel book.

Johnny– Which would describe this book best in your opinion? That time (no matter how you get there, natural or manipulated) time effects everything, even love? Or, this is the direct consequence and effect of someone running away from their troubles? 

Barbara– I’d say it’s the latter.  Matthew and Anna have a solid relationship.  Even by the end of the book, when it seems that all is lost, they are still in love with one another.  Matthew made a hasty decision that catapulted them into impossible situations.  However, as we can read in the last few lines, the love is ever-present. 

Johnny– This book haunts me, and I love it. It starts off like a “Dickens classic” and end in a full-blown “Burroughs Beat” titling towards “Poe”. What author has had the biggest influence on you as a writer? 

Barbara– I’m so thrilled you enjoyed it! I actually adore Dickens, and Shakespeare.  I wouldn’t say that any one author influenced me, but it’s more like I’m in love with the written word and the way authors can weave words into a story.  That said, Jack Finney’s “Time and Again” is my favorite Time Travel book.  It inspired me to try my hand at it.  

Johnny– This is the first book by you that I have read, (so far), so I don’t know if your other books deal with this or not, but do you have an artistic or personal interest with time travel? 

Barbara– The idea of it has always fascinated me. I’m always interested in television shows, movies or books that deal with Time Travel.  I wrote my first Time Travel story three years ago, and I was hooked after that.  Unlike other authors, I do leave science out of it, and focus on the “magic of it all”. 

Johnny– Your two main characters, Matthew and Anna, what was your inspiration while creating these two? 

Barbara– Part of my brand includes advertising the notion that “love is the most remarkable magic – even in horror”.  Matthew and Anna are simply two people in love.  As the book opens in the 1930s, I simply made sure to have their speech and mannerisms match the decade in which they lived.  I used to watch a lot of classic movies.  The rest is simply born of my imagination.  

Johnny– At the end of the first chapter there is a little sexual tension between Mathew and Martha, what is the back-story there? is there a back-story there? (maybe in another book) or is it just a “is what it is” situation?  

Barbara– I wanted the reader to know early on that Matthew would always stay loyal to his wife.  That idea circles around, and we see it again at the very end of the story.  It’s also a nod to Matthew’s good looks. A reader will often form a picture in their head of how the characters look.  I wanted to make it clear that Matthew is a handsome man.  

Johnny– Handsome and loyal are awesome qualities, would you say it was his loyalty, to not disappoint Anna, that put them in their situation?

Barbara–  Absolutely!  Matthew is a proud man.  Given the era, think James Stewart or Cary Grant.  Times were different then and it was common for the man to head the family and take care of his family both financially and emotionally.  The thing that intrigued him most about the watch was not what it could do, but what it could do FOR him.  

Johnny– Your descriptive narrative of the late 60’s is raw and very real. Are you a fan of that era? 

Barbara– Actually, not really!  I prefer the 70s, 80s, and 90s, which is when my other novels are set.  It was fun to challenge myself though.  I used Google (a writer’s best friend) to find the jargon of the era.  

JohnnyShakespeare, Kerouac, Ginsberg. Three names mentioned during the interview for The Daily Rag, if you could have lunch with one of them, which would you pick? 

Barbara– That’s a tough one! But I’d have to go with The Bard.  

Johnny– Why did you pick the 3 moments in time that you did while writing Timepiece?

Barbara- One of my favourite movies of all time is “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  This is the first time that I wrote a story set in that time period.  Matthew and Anna naturally found themselves in the 1960s and I had to end it in the 80s.  Most people know that I’m an 80s lover.  It even says so in my Twitter bio!  

Johnny– What do you want the reader to take away from this book?

Barbara– Love conquers all.  That’s usually the message in all of my books.  Whether dark, or more in tune with a “happily ever after”, love is the only thing that matters.  

Johnny– When did you first decide that you were going to be a writer?

Barbara– It wasn’t really a decision.  More of a calling?  I started out dabbling in poetry.  Then, one day, in grade 9 English Class, my teacher praised a short story I had written.  He even made me read it out loud which was excruciating for an awkward, shy teen!  But my classmates loved it.  I penned my first book in 2002.  My husband encouraged me to published it in 2015, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Johnny– Tell me something about yourself that the average person doesn’t know. (where you are from, what do you do for fun, hobbies, what’s your favorite binge-watch, pets etc…) 

Barbara– We live in Ottawa, Canada, but I was born in Switzerland to Italian parents.  We immigrated to Canada when I was two.  I still speak Italian daily, and there’s always at least one Italian character in my books.  (Anna, in the case of “Timepiece”.)  Our only pet is a tarantula that my husband named “Betsy”.  (No, she’s not poisonous and stays in her aquarium.)  I love to cook and I’m big on cooking shows, but we recently discovered Netflix, and love Stranger Things, Black Mirror and we’re currently bingeing The 100.  We recently saw Joker in theaters, and it was right up my alley!  It was dark, yet brilliant, and breathtaking.  

Johnny– You have already published a few books. What is your process when you start developing an idea to the point you start writing it down as a book? 

Barbara– I pick a title first.  Then I create the book cover.  Both those things inspire the rest of the story. I create a brief outline using bullet points that I email to myself.  The story may change from there as I’m generally a panster, but that’s about it! 

Johnny– What was the first book you ever written? And did it get published?

Barbara– ”My Love is Deep” is my first book.  The title was inspired by the famous Bee Gees song “How Deep is Your Love?”  Although I wrote it in 2002, “life happened” and I put it away.  Back then, I didn’t know about self-publishing.  I’m not sure it even existed.  In 2015, my husband encouraged me to publish it.  There are now three other books in that series revolving around Peter Travis and his quest to find true love.  It’s set between Ottawa and Niagara Falls.  Last Christmas, I wrote “The Christmas Miracle” and I’m pretty sure that’s the last book I’ll write with Peter as my protagonist.  Fun fact: Peter makes an appearance in my latest book, “Postscript”.  

Johnny– Have you ever received a dreaded “rejection” letter? If so, how did you cope, and what advise do you have for unpublished writers if they ever get one? 

Barbara– At first, I did briefly query.  The rejection only added fuel to my creative fire.  I am happily self-published now, and wouldn’t have it any other way.  The creative freedom is what my soul screams for.  For writers who follow the traditional publishing path, I can only say, don’t let rejections quash your spirit.  There’s an audience for everything. 

...don't let rejections quash your spirit.  There's an audience for everything.

Johnny– I love the fact that rejection only added to your creative fire, is this something that all indie authors need to have in order to break through?

Barbara– Fear serves no purpose, except to paralyze us and inhibit our growth.  As we all have different reasons for writing, I don’t want to share a blanket statement.  However, if fear is preventing a writer from sharing or querying (or whatever their goal is), yes, they must overcome it to reach the next stage in their career. 

Johnny– How do you go about editing work, do you do your own self-editing?

BarbaraI do self-edit!  One of the greatest compliments I ever received was from a fellow writer.  She sent me a private message and asked me if I didn’t mind sharing the name of my editor since my work is “flawless”.  I told her I self-edit.  That message that day brought me so much joy.  It really was priceless

Johnny– What are your thoughts on beta-readers? Do you use?

Barbara– I don’t use any.  Picture the author slumped over their typewriter, or scribbling in their notebook.  The one who bleeds their soul on paper.  That’s who I relate to.  Once those words are down, I share them.  I don’t look for feedback prior to publishing.  I don’t know, it’s sort of like a chef.  Their diners don’t sample the food before deciding to eat the whole plate, do they?  I see it more as a “surprise…I hope you like it!”  And keeping with the food analogy, just as there can be too many cooks in the kitchen, I feel like there’s such a thing as too much feedback for writers.  The magic sort of dissipates.  This is also what I mean about confidence being key.

Johnny– Do you recommend self-publishing to anyone that is starting out? If so, how does someone self-publish?

Barbara– I’ve been known to say this a lot, but self-publishing is not “something to fall back on”.  It’s not the first step for a novice.  It’s a career in itself and a hell of a lot of work.  However, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I’m too stubborn!  The creative freedom is exhilarating.  Therefore, I recommend it to everyone who wants their story out there on their own schedule, and doesn’t mind doing all their own marketing, etc.  As far as “how”?  There are so many different outlets available, so I will just say, find the one that works for you, and learn the technical ropes.  The rest is simply your artistic expression come to life, and that is a very beautiful thing.

Johnny– Artistic expression is definitely something that you know about. Barbara, thank you so much for taking this time to talk with me. It has been an absolute pleasure talking with you!

REVIEW

As I stated earlier; This book haunts me, and I love it. It starts off like a “Dickens classic” and ends in a full-blown “Burroughs Beat” titling towards “Poe”. I ended this book feeling much the way one feels when exiting a roller-coaster, and no, not queasy, but rather: full of wonder and wanting more.

In a generation of writers pursuing to publish a new franchise it is so refreshing to come across such daring and originality. Timepiece draws you in with its loveliness and keeps you by it’s desirability. Splendidly written with eloquent historical-appropriate language, it swept me across the fabric of time as true love was put to the “ultimate” test.

Barbara has displayed everything that is truly wonderful and unique about indie authors. Her self published world is where the literary meets the fantasy, the contemporary meets the classic, merging, to becomes a tour d’ force for the imagination.

Honestly I love it!

I’m giving Timepiece 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ on Goodreads and Amazon because of it’s sheer beauty and artistic-flow. This book is an absolute must for anyone who yearns for a really good discussion worthy composition.

WARNING this writer possess the following: originality, tenacity, and charm.

You have met the writer: Barbara Avon

Now read the book: Timepiece

Elegant and beautify written. Check it out for yourself.

Barbara on TWITTER

Barbara on FACEBOOK

Barbara_on Goodreads

Barbara on AMAZON

✌❤

Be sure to check out Barbara’s new Book.

If you enjoyed Timepiece be sure to check out Postscript.

✌❤