“Don’t use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry.” ― Jack Kerouac
HAPPY NEW YEARS EVE!
I’m not for sure how many books I read during 2019, I know it was a few. Around the end of August I had decided to start this blog honoring and featuring Indie Authors, it was then I started logging and reviewing through Goodreads and Amazon, Goodreads has me down for reading 52 between the months of August thru December.
Although my site reviews Indie Authors and supports Indie Books there were a couple on books on my reading list that did not fall into the Indie category, in the end only Indies made the list. This list does not reflect that the book was written or published in 2019, it just happens to be when I read them.
After reading so many good book this year it can almost be overwhelming try to only pick 10 as the top picks. There are so many others that deserve an Honorable Mention. However, in the end there could only be 10 and these 10 have made a lasting impression on me unlike any of the others.
Honorable Mention– Electric Bluesby: Shaun O McCoy, Although it didn’t make it into the top 10 it defiantly deserves to be mentioned. This is a futuristic tale about a depressed out of work A.I. named Arty that is sure to put a smile on your face. Gabrielle Olexa had recommended this book, said that it was a cute book, and she’s right. It’s well written and Shaun is a fascinating individual that I had the privilege to interview. Defiantly worth a look.
10– Bird Wingby: Dreena Collins, This is a book of Flash Fiction and I love it. It was way back when I first read Black Coffee Blues by: Henry Rollins, that I realized how much I enjoy reading flash fiction. This book brought it all back to me. Thank you Dreena!
9- Ascendby: Leia Gose, Fun and Magical are two words that best describe Ascend. Leia has done a ridiculously good job creating this world that I want to live in, written for YA this book is fun enough for everyone. Good news is that she’s writing a sequel!
8- The Desert in the Glassby C.C. Luckey, This book is surprisingly good. If not mistaken it is a debut novel and CC brings it. I’m really excited that I had the opportunity to interview her in 2019 and can’t wait to see what she publishes next. If you haven’t read it you should, it’s a lot of fun!
7- Jenny of Lebanon by: Gabrielle Olexa I know Gabrielle takes a lot of heat because this book is identified as literary fiction. Looking at the reviews for Jenny of Lebanon readers either hate it or love it, if you are looking for something to rival Twilight or Harry Potter, this book will be a waste of your time, however, if you love words and wordplay I highly recommend this book.
6- Depths of Darkness(Saints and Sinners Book 2) by: Crystal L. Kirkham, this is book 2 of the Saints and Sinners series and I found it to be just as good if not better than the first. I consider Crystal to be a writer on the move, she is as talented as she is creative and her new book Feathers and Fae will be reviewed on my blog in early 2020.
5- Three Sharp Knives by: Jessica Conwell, This was a pleasant surprise to me, Three Sharp Knives introduced me to my first transgender main character as well as the struggles within their community.I love the book as well as Jessica and her writing style. The interview I published with her on 12/8/19 is my favorite of the year, hoping to have her back after reading her other novel, Cluster. My advise, Read this BOOK!
4- The Van Helsing Paradoxby: Evelyn Chartres, This is such a fun book, the flow is incredible and very engrossing. There will be more about Evelyn during 2020 on my site because I think her writing is phenomenal, I will be reviewing her work in the near future.
3- A Dress the Color of the Skyby: Jennifer Irwin WOW! is about all I can say about A Dress the Color of the Sky. Jennifer also will be my first interview / review featured in 2020. Really impressed with this book!
2- Postscriptby: Barbara Avon, I love Barbara! Her writing JUST does it for me. Every time I finish one of her books it has become my new favorite. I picked Postscript because the evolution of her writing style has STOLEN MY HEART with this tale, it’s also filled with hidden gems that kept me on my toes. ❤
1- The End of Hatredby: Rebecca Hefner, this book has earned my number one spot because it was the book that stole my soul to romance, it’s not just this book either, it’s the whole series. I love it and can’t wait until she writes another. Rebecca is going to be a writer that we will hear of for a long, long time.
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.-Jim Morrison
Johnny– Hi C.C. thanks for taking the time to talk to me. Straight out of the gate I want to ask, where did the idea for The Desert in the Glass come from?
CC- I love adventure stories. Reading a book set in a detailed fictional world feels like the best kind of vacation. I wanted to write a book that felt real, but integrated some believable fantasy elements featuring characters the reader could relate to. The Desert in the Glass is written for people who love to explore.
Johnny– I don’t think I’m giving to much away by asking this, but basically this book is made up of three different stories that come together to complete this novel. All three are good enough to be stand-alone works, how hard of a decision was it to use these three in one book? were they originally independent stories or stand-alone works?
CC- Part 1, Terata, was originally a novella. As soon as I finished, I knew there was more to be told. I love road movies and I wanted my book to have legs, which led to the second part, The Red Road to Vegas. Part 3, The Birdhouse Keeper, was the most personally difficult to write, yet my readers say it’s their favorite. I see each part as following not a story-line but rather the unique life of a person, and all three of those people are critical pillars of the book’s structure.
Johnny– Where on earth did you come up with the “event” that takes place in Part 2, The Red Road to Vegas? That was very creative!
CC- We’re very, very small in the universe. Infinitesimal. Sometimes I’m surprised these kinds of terrifying incidents don’t happen a lot more often. Best not to think about that too hard, perhaps.
Johnny– How hard was it to develop the characters for this book? You get really detailed about them as individuals, I really like that.
CC- My writing process generally involves a brief initial description of a scenario and world before even thinking about characters. Once I have that idea in my head—which could be stated in as little as a single sentence—I ask myself, who is the actor? This person could be old or young, male or female. Eventually, someone in my head raises their hand. Then I put myself in their shoes, and get moving.
Johnny– Which was the hardest character to create?
CC- The main character of Part 3 worried me a little because she is a mother, and I am not. That’s an experience you can’t really understand unless you have it yourself—no pretending. I had trouble with her until I fell in love with her daughter, and realized that was something we had in common. After that, I knew her well enough to write her.
Johnny– You did very well, I personally believed her to be genuine. Which of the three stories proved to be the most difficult to write?
CC- A couple sections of Part 3 made me cry. Is it arrogance to cry at your own writing? The story digs deep into neurological issues, which I based on my personal experiences as a caregiver for a brain damaged family member.
Johnny– I don’t think it’s arrogance, it does say a lot about your passion, though. Let’s talk about the title for a moment, where did the name, ‘The Desert in the Glass’ come from?
CC- I knew from the start that I wanted time to be a constant theme of the book. There are many references to the counting of time in the book, from age differences between characters, whole sections set in different years throughout history, and the generally urgent pace. The other running theme of the book is the desert, which almost serves as a character itself. So, the book is an hourglass filled with desert sand, measuring the passage of time.
Johnny– How long did it take you to write this novel?
CC- I wrote Part 1 during a time when I was a caregiver for a family member. It was hard to hold down a regular job or any other commitments, so I turned to writing to keep me sane and give me an escape. The other two parts were written and edited over a period of just four months.
Johnny– Let’s talk about your writing process and habits, are you big on journaling? Do you start out writing by hand or digital all the way?
CC- I don’t do any personal journaling, but I always have pens and paper close at hand in case I have a lightning-flash idea that I need to record it right away. When I’m writing a story, I use a tablet and keyboard because my brain works faster than I can write by hand. I’m most comfortable typing because I’ve been using computers for writing since 1985. My father was an engineer so when I was a kid we always had the latest technology.
Johnny– Do you edit your work yourself?
CC- Yes, I do my own editing. I am protective of my work, yet I am a very strict taskmaster for myself. I read and re-read my work dozens of times, interspersed with breaks away from the manuscript and reading other authors’ books to clear my mind. If something doesn’t work in my story—if it doesn’t feel exactly right—I cut it and throw it away. And I’m crazy for grammar and spelling. I absolutely love editing, it’s my favorite part of writing. Sure, first drafts are fun and interesting and you never really know what’s going to happen. But when you edit, you really get to hone your craft, to take that raw material and make it glow. I feel little pride during my initial writing, but editing fills me with euphoria as I watch my story come to life.
Johnny– Does this love for editing help or hinder your ability or creativity while writing?
CC- It probably hinders it. It can be difficult to resist stopping and going back to double check the flow of the story, the quality of my sentences, and my grammar. Sometimes the frequent stops make for a better first draft, but it can also kick me out of my creative head-space. Drinking coffee helps, actually. It makes the story in my head play out in fast-forward, and if I stop typing, I won’t keep up and it will get away from me.
Johnny– If you were given the chance to go back and change any part of this book, regardless of how big or small, is there any part that you would change or alter?
CC- No. I’m not saying my work is perfect, of course. But every single step I take is forward, not back. And something that looks like a mistake to me may be an enlightenment to someone else, so I’ll let my work lay as it falls.
Johnny– Is there a bottom-line lesson to be learned from “The Desert in the Glass”?
CC- While my background is in philosophy, I try not to include overt morals in my adventure stories. But I do admit to a certain agenda; I love to feature characters in roles which may be surprising. A majority of my characters are female, but my writing is not romantic or “chick lit.” Not all of my characters are neurotypical, but my stories aren’t really about that. It’s okay for characters to be incidentally female, or unusual, or genius or broken in some way without the story being about that. And if the story ends up being about a normal typical guy, that’s okay, too. I write about regular people in irregular situations, and to me that means diversity without apology.
Johnny– I think you did an awesome job! Any chance you will be revisiting any characters or parts of this book in the future?
CC- No, The Desert in the Glass is a very self-contained story. But you’ll have to read to the end to find out why.
Johnny– What or who inspires you?
CC- I am in awe of the writers who have come before me, not because of what they’ve written but because of the circumstances under which they created their work. Writers are an odd bunch; they are compelled to create, perhaps even against their own will, like they have whole universes bouncing around in their heads that will burst out through their ears if not released through their fingertips. This process isn’t always fun or lucrative, but an impassioned writer doesn’t have any choice but to write—and, sometimes, drink to excess. I feel a kinship with the struggling writers who have come before me, and I hope to have the perseverance they did in sharing my stories with the world.
Johnny– Any particular writers you consider to be your favorite?
CC- Stephen King had a big effect on me when I was a teenager, not because of his horror themes but because of how he wrote his characters with such empathy even when he had little in common with them. I am also a big Richard Adams fan. But my favorite book of all time is actually by a very obscure author, Walter Wangerin Jr. He wrote a story in two books, The Book of the Dun Cow and The Book of Sorrows, which I highly recommend to pretty much everyone in the world. I’ve been known to buy copies of them at used book stores and randomly give them to friends.
Johnny– What can we expect next from C.C. Luckey?
CC- So many more adventures! I am just starting a massive multi-book series that will take readers on an epic journey to another world. I can’t wait to visit, myself. I’ll be the first one there, but I’ll be clearing the path and sending directions as soon as it’s ready to come visit.
Johnny– I cannot wait to see where your journey will take us C.C. I know one thing, it’s going to be great. Other than writing, what do you like to do for fun?
CC- I enjoy making miniature dioramas, like faux specimen jars and creepy scenes in tiny rooms where a crime has just taken place. I’m also very into video games, especially massive open-world RPGs.
Johnny– Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me! It has been a pleasure. Before we wrap this up is there any final thoughts or parting wisdom you’d like to share?
CC- It can take a long time to realize what you really want from life. The important thing is to keep trying until you find it, and don’t let anyone else tell you who you should be. For some people it’s creating a certain type of art, for others it’s having kids, and some people simply yearn for a return to nature. It can take decades to figure out where you fit in the world, and there’s no shame in learning late who you are. Just don’t give up until you figure it out.
Johnny– You are an awesome writer C.C. it has been an honor to visit with you.
CC– Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts and my book!
I knew there was something special about CC Luckey when I read her book. Then in her opening line during our conversation she said “I love adventure stories.” Well, well, well, so, do I.
There is nothing that I didn’t like about this book. It’s an evocative adventure that beacons my soul to the dusty deserts of Nevada. I could almost feel the heat on my skin and the sun on my face as I read…
Divided into three sections each more beautiful and troubling than the next, I found it hard to pick a favorite. In the end it didn’t matter though, what happened was “The Desert in the Glass” tied together as neatly as a professionally tied bow around a beautifully wrapped box. A work of art.
If there was one thing that stood out about this book it would be this, the expressive narrative in which C.C. introduces her characters that she had created to star in this impressive tale. Vivid portrayal, well established cast and a plot that is as solid as a rock I found this book to be nothing more than remarkable.
I’m giving The Desert in the Glass five stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ on both Amazon and Goodreads. It’s an adventure, not just that, it’s creative, it’s fun and I found it to be addictive. I love it and highly recommend it.
Below you will find links to contact and follow CC Luckey on social media as well as links to buy her books. If you are a fan of adventure, macabre and the unexplained you will not be disappointed.
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– 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.
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!!
A Funny Memoir of Missteps, Inadequacies, and Faux Pas
Comedy is surprises, so if you're intending to make somebody laugh and they don't laugh, that's funny. -Norm MacDonald
Johnny– Amy Lyle is an author, comedienne, actor, and screenwriter, in her spare time she’s married and a mother to 4, (are you kidding me)! That is absurd, (lol), (other than finding short titles for your books), how do you find time to do anything? Is your whole day pretty much a scheduled routine?
Amy– YES! Two of the four kids are in college now and the two at home drive so it is getting much more manageable. I try to get most of my work done during the day. My husband is a fabulous cook, so we try to get all of us together as much as possible for dinners.
Johnny– With everything going on in your busy world, what do you do to keep yourself grounded?
Amy– I grew up in Appalachia, and when I’ve done independent films, my compensation was tacos, I’m pretty grounded.
You have a very comedic outlook
towards life, how does that affect you as a parent?
Amy– People are often shocked that I’m so silly yet so strict (as a parent). I think they see that everything, given enough time, can be funny. We have been lucky that they have never taken themselves too seriously and have a “this too shall pass, and my mom will tell this story in a stand-up routine within six months” attitude.
Johnny– That’s awesome, do they ever make
suggestions to you about adding something into your stand-up routine?
Amy– Yes. They text me stories all the
time, normally about their siblings.
Johnny– Did your parents have a sense of humor?
Johnny– What was your parents’ reaction
when you went into comedy?
Amy– My mother was mortified that I was “airing my dirty laundry.” When I told my dad that I was co-hosting a tv show, he said, “Interesting. Have you guys had any rain there?”
Johnny– Do your kids think your funny?
Amy– It depends on the day.
Johnny– Are any of them planning on following in your footsteps?
Amy– Not to my knowledge.
Johnny– How important of a role does social media play, with your career?
Amy– I don’t have any proof, but I do think social media has helped me land speaking engagements, film roles and sell a lot of books. I rarely pay for paid advertising, other than on Amazon for my books, so the social media must be helping.
Johnny– Do you have plans on increasing
your presence YouTube?
Johnny– This book reads different than most memoirs, did you write your chapters as skits?
Amy– That is an interesting observation. People have left reviews stating that my books read like SNL skits. I was a screenwriter and a stand- up comic before becoming an author so I have been trained that if you can say something in 5 words, do not use six. I try to get to the point quickly. I did have a firm ask me if they could turn The Book of Failures into a sitcom or film. I replied to their email in less than five seconds and have not heard back from them since. So, no. I did not set out to write the chapters as skits but it seems as if they have that flavor.
Johnny– When I’d first started read your book, I was thinking you had written it with an essay format, then I watched one of your stand-ups on YouTube, that kind of tweaked my thought process and pushed me towards skits, is auditioning for SNL a dream of yours?
Amy– Only every waking moment.
Johnny– This book is brutally honest, and honestly that is one of the reasons it’s so appealing to me, (it actually helped me with issues that I have). When you wrote this, did you realize or intend for this to be a self-help book also?
Amy– I did not. I wrote the book because of a Hollywood attorney rejected me as a client because I was a nobody that did not have any money or know anyone. He told me to write a book and get lots of press. Immediately my thoughts went to, “I have had a lot of failures, I could write about those.” In hindsight, and in writing my second book, I DID realize the healing power of sharing your worst moments. People were writing to me saying how they had felt so much shame for getting fired, or dumped in a relationship when really, all of these terrible things that happen to us just get us to where we need to be. I’m not saying it is easy. I cried in the bathtub every night for a year after my husband divorced me. But now, (over a decade later) I see that our time together was not wasted, we just wanted different things.
Johnny– You mention early on in your book that you have issues, one of
them is pronunciation, how does that affect when you are writing and performing
your Stand Up?
Amy– I write my own stand-up so I keep the GRE words for print use only.
Johnny– After I read this I went and purchased it on Audible, was this the reason you didn’t narrate your book?
Amy– I tried to record it on my own, but I sounded like a second grader and telling a story is different than reading a story.
Johnny– When did you first know, or make the decision, that you wanted to be a stand-up comedienne? Was this something you wanted to do since you were little?
Amy– My parents were strict German protestants that reminded my sister and me how very un-special we were since our births. They did this by saying, “Remember you are not special.” Comedy was a survival tactic for us. We used to put on complete “Late Night Comedy Shows” in our basement for our friends. They were a combination of imitating our parents, lip-synching to Barbara Mandrel, and roller skating to the soundtrack of Grease.
Johnny– Do you think that being raised by strict parents triggered you to be as focused or determined as you are now? You seem to be pretty thick skinned.
Amy– I do not know anyone with thicker skin than authors, comedians and salespeople and I’m all three. I pick on my parents frequently, but I have to admit that they both have incredible work ethics.
Johnny– Let’s talk about your “unconscious zone” you wrote about an
improv performance during a class you took, it happened, and “was appreciated
by the audience but I was mortified by exposing what I suppose is my dark
side.” Why were you mortified by this?
Amy– People that perform improv well are geniuses. I can write stand-up, books and screenplays because I can rework it, again and again, there’s no such luxury in improv. I do think improv can be studied and practiced; your mind would adapt to the medium. I have only taken one class and did one performance. And as you know, I was humiliated by what was flying out of my mouth- complete storylines about STD’s and little people. Improv is not for me.
Johnny– Is improv important for a stand-up comic? (It seems like it would be if there was a heckler in the audience.)
Amy– I love Paula Poundstone, she’s able to work the crowd really, really well on the fly. However, now that I have seen her perform several times, I have noticed that even her “on the fly”has tried and true jokes. It’s interesting, every comic must address hecklers and such, but each performer seems to handle them in their own way, which is the same way, every time.
Johnny– Have you ever been heckled?
Amy– Only by my teenage children that were sitting in the front row at The Basement Theater when I was telling a joke about them. The audience was shocked when I said, “All of those people (pointing them out) are my children,” The kids and the audience loved it.
Johnny– There was an incident that happened with your friend Shannon at Chipotle, by far one of the funniest scenarios I’ve ever read, how did you not just laugh-your-ass-off when that happened to your friend? Or did you?
Amy– I checked to make sure she was breathing and then laughed.
Johnny– Not to be a spoiler, but when she
goes to refill her drink, the Russian Businessmen cleaning their ties… To steal
a line from Kenny Bania “that’s gold, Amy… Gold!” Now the screen writer
in you has got to be salivating over the possibilities of what you can do with
Amy– I’m so thrilled that you were able to “see” that story in your head. I would love to make my books into films or sitcoms.
Johnny– Using your philosophy, “everything, given enough time, can be funny” is there an exception to that? Take away human suffering, death, misery, etc… let’s say, there’s a situation that happens with friend or family, even though no physical harm occurred, just great embarrassment, would this be off limits to you to use as part of your material, even though you know it’s comedy gold?
Amy– Nothing is off limits. Think of it as “What does not kill us will eventually make us laugh.” I’m don’t do insult comedy so I’m not offending people on purpose, I just prefer more self- deprecating bits.
Johnny– You had said earlier you love Paula
Poundstone, is she your favorite stand-up comedian? (If not who?)
Amy– I cannot pick just one. What is incredibly crazy to me is that many of the stand-up comedians, and comedians in general, that I love have bestselling books on Amazon and are next to my books. The list includes Tina Fey, Kevin Hart, Jim Gaffigan, Paula Poundstone, Trevor Noah, Mindy Kaling, Carol Burnett and Betty White, to mention a few. A few days ago, all of the “Amy’s” were lined up in a row on Amazon’s bestselling Humor & Entertainment books; Amy Schumer, Amy Lyle and Amy Poehler- that was a very good day.
Johnny– I bet it was. You deserve it Amy! Thank you for taking this time to talk with me, I’ve really enjoyed this time together.
Every so often you come across a book that will literally make you “laugh out loud” Amy’s Book of Failures had done that to me, at 4am.
This book is laugh packed and a fun read. It was created out of a rejection, turning a negative situation into a positive result. From this result I find it hard to believe that Amy will do nothing but succeed.
Written as a memoir Amy is brutally honest. She truly embraces her own philosophy of: “what doesn’t kill us will eventually make us laugh” and goes for it. Her light heart spirited approach to current life situation has become an inspiration to many, myself included.
Written in a different format than most memoirs, (another advantage Amy has going for herself), her narrative flow across the pages as a witty satire, allowing the readers an escape, as the scenes play out before them. Her refreshing style is a sheer delight.
Never taking herself too seriously Amy reveals to us that we should never be so critical about our lives that we forget that sometimes, it’s alright to laugh. If recognizing and exposing our flaws only makes us stronger, she’s Hercules on steroids. If your talented and creative enough, it makes an interesting memoir. Great job Amy, I’m a fan!
BEWARE: VERY FUNNY LADY AHEAD!
I’m given Book of Failures 5 stars on Amazon and Goodreads for creativity, originality and plain AWESOMENESS.
You’ve met the writer: Amy Lyle
Now read her book: The Amy Bingar-Kimmes-Lyle Book of Failures
Fresh and amazingly funny. Check her out for yourself.
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” –Benjamin Franklin
L.M. Gose is a writer, wife, mother, editor, (Horse whisperer lol) She can be found on Twitter @LaPetiteWolfe and her website www.authorlmgose.com She’s a busy lady who recently published her book titled Ascend.
Johnny– Hello Leia welcome and thank you for taking some time to talk with me, you recently released Ascend, was this your first book?
Leia– First published. I’ve written others that didn’t make it to this stage.
Johnny– That being said, the “others that didn’t make it to this stage” are you ever tempted to revisiting those earlier books and fine-tune them into something that works? or do you move on, possibly reviving and integrating them into other ventures later?
Leia– I’ll likely go back eventually but it’s not a concern at the moment. So far I’ve plenty of ideas before I need to recycle some.
Johnny– I noticed, at one time that you listed on your Twitter bio that you’re an editor… did you edit Ascend yourself?
Leia– I sent it to someone but I felt it wasn’t thorough enough so in the end, I did red ink everything myself. I have also edited three other books by other authors as well as a few Thesis papers and many graduate level papers.
Johnny– That is remarkable, and very well done might I add. Is it safe to say you’ll be editing your future books as well?
Leia– With the help of my BETA readers.
Leia– Yes, it was preferable to the defeatism in the industry.
Johnny– Would you recommend self-publication to somebody that is looking to get published?
Leia– Everyone needs to make their own choices. They have to be confident with the decision to publish however they feel is best for them. I prefer creative control so this works for me.
Johnny– I’m a huge fan of cover art, do you design your covers?
Leia– No, actually, my niece-in-law LeÁnne Pelletier did. You can find out how to contact her on my website.
Johnny– How fortunate to have that kind of talent in the family. When your picking your cover, did you go to her with a certain design or style in mind?
Leia– Yes, I knew exactly what I wanted but lack the skills necessary to create. She was able to make my vision come to life perfectly.
Johnny– This is really a fast-paced book that covers a lot of territory, Biblical, Gnostic, Mythology, Folklore, there are a lot of references / research that had to happen in order to prep for this book. How long did it take you to develop and write Ascend?
Leia– I honestly believe this book has been trying to come out in one way or another for years, but I did zero research specifically for Ascend. It took me about 5 months from start to finish to write, edit and publish.
Johnny- That’s astounding, has writing always been easy or “naturally” for you?
Leia– I’d say yes. Writing, and reading, has always been linked to my survival in this world.
Johnny– This book caught me by surprise. I really wasn’t expecting the “depth” that you brought with it. What inspired you to write Ascend? Was it an idea that just come to you out of nowhere?
Leia– I can’t say there was any one thing except this year, I took a really long trip and reconnected with family I’d long since lost touch with. It was healing and I think that healing helped inspire me.
Johnny– I’m a fan, please tell me that there is another book coming out in this series.
Leia– Yes, I’m currently working on Descend, which is the sequel to Ascend and picks up right where the first book ends.
Johnny– Do you have an ETA for Descend?
Leia– Spring 2020.
Johnny– “Ascend” has so many good characters, (descriptions for each is spectacular), do you have a favorite?
Leia– Madoc Weatherly. I love his personality and ever-changing beard.
Johnny– Defiantly one of my favorite characters as well. Was there a specific inspiration behind your creation of Madoc?
Leia– I had a German Teacher that was a bit unusual who inspired the depth of the character. His beard was Pride parade inspired. I loved the idea of an ever-changing mood beard.
Johnny– Do you use family or friends when you developed your characters? You’re a mother with four kids, (and two horse), was Arya and Xavier inspired by any of your children?
Leia– Yes and no. The relationship between a boy and girl twin was inspired by my older two children, who are Irish Twins (but honestly, everyone has mistaken them for twins for 11 years now so it counts). I wanted to have a story that wasn’t focused on romance or even had the kindling of a spark of romance between the Main Characters. Having siblings allowed me the freedom from that.
Johnny– How are your horses? They had to have inspired you in this book, lol. Especially when creating Persephone.
Leia– I love my horses, and yes, I have to admit, they did help, but more my connection with horses my entire life. In Canada, my uncle and auntie who helped raise me have a herd of 12 strong and I was able to spend a lot of time with them in early February. Persephone actually inspired me to get a horse. I adopted my mare, Molly, in early June, which was about a month before I finished Ascend. I adopted my gelding, Durango, right after.
Johnny– What is your process? When you have a story or idea and you decide you want to make it a book, do you journal it down, let it percolate, or go to your computer and start banging it out?
Leia– I am terrible about explaining my process, but I’ll try. I write when I’m inspired and I sit down for about an hour a day to try to write something, but that’s very structured and I’m not. I like to use guided dreams to help me sort out issues with my characters. It inspired the battle scene in Ascend.
Johnny– We you say “guided dreams” are you talking about meditation?
Leia– No, it’s a therapeutic technique I learned to help me cope with nightmares. I’ve learned to use it to explore ideas that needed more development before writing.
Johnny– I think you had mentioned earlier that you use beta readers as part of your writing process? are these friends of yours?
Leia– Yes and yes. I wouldn’t trust anyone I didn’t know with my brain-babies. They earned the right to be part of my group though because they’ve me such amazing feedback. I’ve included a few others in my group this time too, to help make Descend even better.
Johnny– Some writers say that they edit and/or send to beta readers in chunks during their writing process, others wait and do both after completion so not to interfere with their flow. How do you handle that?
Leia– I do a chapter at a time. This allows me to focus on the chapters as a whole. I don’t edit until after the book is halfway at the minimum though. Otherwise, you get stuck in a horrible habit of hating your work.
Johnny– Any advice for any young writers that might be looking up to you as a role model?
Leia– Be kind in your life, not only to others but to yourself and that includes how you rate your own writing.
Johnny– Great advise, what genre do you enjoy reading?
Leia– Fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction and dystopias are some of my favorites.
Johnny– In today’s world, how important is a “Social Media presence” for Indie writers?
Leia– It’s obviously very important. Social Media is a real aspect of this world.
Johnny– Very generic question, who inspires you?
Leia– It might be generic but it’s very difficult to answer. I’m inspired by so many different people. I’ve been gifted with an extraordinary life of travel and met so many incredible human beings on this planet, from different countries and from different cultures and backgrounds. I’m inspired by them all.
Johnny– Where do you want to be in 10 years?
Leia– In the house I’m about to move into and in my third series, maybe. I hope to be successful enough to pay the mortgage at least once a year.
Johnny– Thank you Leia, it has been a pleasure talking to you. Best of luck to you. I loved Ascend and anxiously awaiting Descend due out Spring of 2020. Hopefully you will come back and talk with me again…
This book has everything that is desired when digesting, the story flows like a river, I don’t remember it dragging once, descriptive characters, I felt like I knew everyone that was introduced in this book. In the beginning I remember thinking I would have liked a little more description about Morningstar, however, in the end it all worked out.
So why mention it?
I said that to say this, stick around, about every question I had was answered during her telling of the story.
Going down the list, Ascend has something for everybody. It contains Heroes, Villains, Damsel in distress, a King, a Queen, Vampires, Werewolves, Witches, Warlocks along with an assortment of mythical creatures, just an all-around good time and good read.
About my only complaint turned out to be my only regret and it was that it had to end. 😒
Que Sera, Sera, I suppose that’s why there are sequels. 😉
Great job Leia! 🎉 I can’t sing your praises loud enough. You captured my imagination and made me a FAN.
Written as YA Fiction, Ascend joins the ranks of mainstream novels that will be enjoyed by all ages.
I’m giving Ascend 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ on both Amazon and Goodreads. **If you enjoy indie authors as much as I do please be sure to buy their books, leave reviews, share and retweet.
You’ve met the writer – Leia M Gose
Now read her book – Ascend: Children of Lilith Book One (you won’t regret it). ✌❤
I am getting excited about the upcoming conversation and review of Gabrielle Olexa and her new book Jenny of Lebanon. (🤞) Spoiler alert, I already gave it a 5 star review on GoodReads , (Click the link to read, everything else will have to wait).
If you haven’t already you should pick up a copy Free on Kindle Unlimited. click here.
This review will be complete with interview. Please stay tuned.......
Actual reviews from GoodReads has it rated 4.47 ⭐’s