Indie Monday

Today’s guest: Angela K. Berent

Berent photo

With so many cancellations of in-person author events due to World War C, I’m devoting my blog to Indie Monday interviews for the coming months to help my fellow authors with promotion. I’ll be featuring indie and small-press authors who produce quality work outside the boundaries and strictures of the traditional mass-produced, mass-marketed commercial publishing world and traditional bookstore shelves.

Today I’m delighted to host author and educator Angela K Berent. A midwesterner at heart (and onetime Californian), Angela is the author of two works of nonfiction: List Your Life: A Modern-Day Memoir (2018) and Trace Your Travels: An Adventure Journal (2019).
Berent

Recently I posed some questions to Angela. Here’s what she told me.

DL: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

AKB: I dwell in my memories, those that I’ve collected along the way and those that I’m creating with my family of four. I am thankful for my Michigan childhood, an amazing few years in California, and that my path brought me back home. I think about how I’m formed because of my memories. To remember is to savor and let those memories rest on me as I go forward.

Celebrating is the best! I work at taking time to notice the happy moments in my days, as well as the bigger moments—it’s all worth relishing. In this time of life, we can be swallowed up and consumed by pressures around us, or we can make a choice for creating peace and joy, with consideration for our responsibility for our fellow beings and actively participating in our world. Conscious choices for a happy, content life where I am proud of who I am always has been and will continue to be my driving force.

Sharing my stories and inviting others to find a way to write for themselves is my purpose for writing. I enjoy learning stories from others, and I encourage everyone to write their life.  Everyone has a story, and, whether writing grand memoirs or jotting bits of our days, it is important to document our legacy—we’re all creating one!

DL: Tell us about your latest book and works in progress.

AKB: I have written two journals, List Your Life: A Modern-Day Memoirand Trace Your Travels: An Adventure Journal. I am excited to announce two new projects: journal calendars.

My calendars are designed with the same sentiment as my journals: we all want to write, but no one has the time. While the journals invite readers to respond to various topics of life and travel using a quick listing format, the calendars are designed to allow for memories to be recorded quickly and easily as life unfolds day-to-day and month-to-month.

In my journals, there is no lofty writing commitment, instead, just an invitation to write memories in short, quick lists of three ideas at a time. To guide readers in writing their memories, I write my Lists of 3 beside theirs. A variety of prompts encourage memories of all kinds: three most important pieces of advice you’ve been given to three gifts you’ve received and three favorite road trips to three beloved souvenirs.

Journal calendars include blank templates. Each month is attractively designed in a simple format to record the days. Mark Your Miles: A Fitness Journalis created as a place to keep track of day-to-day achievements, while Notes From the Nursery: A Keepsakeis where new parents will jot key moments during the blurry and chaotic first eighteen months of baby’s life. From my personal experience in each category, I absolutely want a record of every workout so I can see my progress. As for the baby days, this idea came about from a blank journal that a dear friend gave me as a gift when my twins were born, and that journal is splashed with sloppy notes from my boys’ first year. As messy as it is, I have an enduring record of some of the most memorable days of my life.

DL: Why do you write? What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?

AKB: My hope is that my stationery items provide an easy way to write memories, in an inviting format, by way of an attractive archive.

I had long wanted to write, but I struggled with the direction and form it would take.  While I had many starts and stops, I just wasn’t finishing anything. I had the amazing fortune to hear a few key pieces of advice when my ears and heart were open, and it was just enough to propel me forward.

Write for yourself first.

Get your stories on the page before age 55.

For some reason, the first piece of advice opened a floodgate for me. It felt like I was granted a permission that I didn’t know I needed. I let any idea of lofty publication goals fall away.  With that pressure removed, I was able to explore what would truly make me happy to write. The second bit of advice makes me laugh a little more each year as I inch toward that milestone. The very most important thing that I could think that I had to say was an expression of gratitude and love. I set out to write my first book, List Your Life, as an homage to those who matter most to me.

What I discovered in writing that first journal was a form that I realized might help others find success in writing for themselves, too.

DL: Please talk about your writing process. Where do your ideas come from? What is your favorite part of the process? Least favorite?

AKB: Notecards and spiral-bound notebooks! And, of course, a pencil. Pen doesn’t really work for sketching ideas for me. Which is kind of funny because I never erase, only cross off, in case I need that idea again. I have journaled throughout my life—there is nothing better than having that chance to pop back into a moment in my past and remember who I was with and the memories we were making—but my daily writing now consists of the three-part list format that I started with my self-published journals. Every day, I give myself the freedom to stop after a List of Three. Often I go on, but I’m never overwhelmed at the start. 

As a middle school teacher, I write with my students regularly. They know that I am committed to their success—I write everything that they do, which lets me find seeds of stories and I am continuously working at my writing fluency right along with them. 

I could brainstorm and make lists and outline all day long. Moving forward on the content of a new piece requires tremendous discipline for me. Now that I have completed two projects, I know what an undertaking the whole process is, so that can be daunting. Once I’m into it, I like to be immersed, which makes summers as a teacher extra helpful.

Ideas are all around. It’s a matter of taking the time to choose a direction and stick with it!

DL: Could you reflect a bit on what writing or being a writer has meant for you and your life?

AKB: There are so many occasions in daily life where we swim along. There are limitless obligations as a wife and mother at home—all the things that I want to do well to make a happy family. As a teacher, my work is unending and, while fulfilling, can be all-consuming. Writing my books was something that I did just for me, and that is far out of the mold of my life. These books took an enormous amount of time and energy, and I had to be committed to make it happen. It would have been far easier to quit, but, once I started, I really wanted to keep going and see it through.

A control that I set for my peace of mind was that I would make sure it stayed fun, that I didn’t let my writing projects become a burden. There are too many other things that I want to do already in my days, that I knew it wouldn’t work, not the way I wanted it to, so it has been very helpful to recognize the times of year when I am most productive in my personal writing, and the ways that I can keep it fresh during the school year, such as while my sons are busy at practice or some other time when I feel like I’m not taking away from family time. That said, I am lucky to have some very strong role models in my life, and they have been instrumental in showing me that taking care of my happiness is essential and valid, too.

Writing is me-time. A place for me to stretch my imagination all on my own. To think of an idea and move it through the various stages that it takes to accomplish tall tasks. When I finished writing List Your Lifeand gave it to those who held a place in my heart and found a root in my book, I was proud that they had a tangible object to validate my affection for them.

DL: What are links to your books, website, and blog so readers can learn more about you and your work?

AKB: Here are the links:

Angela K. Berent Website

List Your Life: A Modern-Day Memoir on Amazon

Trace Your Travels: An Adventure Journal on Amazon

Angela K. Berent Facebook Author Page

Angela K. Berent on Instagram

Angela K. Berent on Twitter

 

 

Indie Monday

Today’s guest: Yvonne Glasgow

Yvonne Glasgow

With so many cancellations of in-person author events due to World War C, I’m devoting my blog to Indie Monday interviews for the coming months to help my fellow authors with promotion. I’ll be featuring indie and small-press authors who produce quality work outside the boundaries and strictures of the traditional mass-produced, mass-marketed commercial publishing world and traditional bookstore shelves.

Today I’m delighted to host author, poet, writer, artist, crafter, and healer Yvonne Glasgow. Yvonne is the author of Carry Our Virus in Death: 19 Pandemic Poems (2020), Following Frankie The Firefly (2019), No Longer Fighting With Myself (2018), Possessive Repose (2018), The Jealousy Remedy: A Guide to Finding Happiness Within (2018), My Life in Haiku: Poetic Visions from the Soul (2018), Reconnecting with Yourself: A Guide to Finding a Truer You (2017), Shallow Graves And Ghosts: A Collection Of Dark Poetry And Short Stories (2017), Observations Of The Living: Poetry Inspired By Life (2017), Fighting With Myself: The Healing Power of Poetry (2017), and Michigan Monsters: A Collection of 13 Campfire Tales (2012). 
COVID-19 Cover

Recently I posed some questions to Yvonne. Here’s what she told me.

DL: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

YG: I’m Yvonne Glasgow, a full-time writer with a passion for poetry and art. My entire life revolves around creativity, from writing lifestyle articles for my “day job” and working on books I self-publish to creating collage art and packing eclectic grab bags of goodies that I sell locally. This year, I started writing short stories and poetry to submit to anthologies (I’ve been in two so far) and entering contests (I was a top-ten finalist and got a short “opening line” story published in Writer’s Digest).

DL: Tell us about your latest book and works in progress. 

YG: Poetry is how I process feelings. It’s how I get through life without completely losing my mind. My most recent book is titled Carry Our Virus In Death – 19 Pandemic Poems. It’s a collection of nineteen poems reflecting on the start of the 2020 pandemic. There’s a little comedy mixed in, which is something new for me, but it’s mostly a serious collection of poetry about fear and change.

The books on my Works-in-Progress and To-Do lists that are getting the most attention right now fall into the categories of wellness and short stories. I came up with a great idea for a short-story collection. My wellness book is all about getting yourself on the right path in life and learning to be happy again.

I also write divination books and am starting a major project that includes a book and an accompanying set of oracle cards. I love combining my passion for writing with my passion for art. The project requires that I travel around Michigan this summer and next (which has been inhibited a bit by COVID-19). I am running a GoFundMe to help with expenses (since artist residencies aren’t happening this year) and will be running a Kickstarter campaign once the art is done to help cover the cost of printing card decks (which isn’t cheap).

DL: Why do you write? What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?

YG: I am a prolific writer, so I like to write about anything and everything. I write about lifestyle topics and strange history for my day job. My short stories usually revolve around horror, science fiction, and speculative fiction. I am a poet, and that’s where my passion for writing started. I also love to write wellness articles (that are posted on Vocal.com) and books.

I write because I want to share my creativity with people. I write because I want to help people.

DL: Please talk about your writing process. Where do your ideas come from? What is your favorite part of the process? Least favorite?

YG: Most of my ideas come from everyday life. Sometimes I am inspired by something I see; other times, it’s by something I read.

I used to love to do research, but now it’s my least favorite thing to do. I do it Monday through Friday for work, so I’d rather write my own projects about stuff I am already super knowledgeable about (I have a Ph.D. in Holistic Life Coaching, a D. Div. in Spiritual Counseling, and took a plethora of college courses on nutrition, physical wellness, and alternative health while working toward a degree in health and wellness).

My favorite part of the writing process is when the creativity just flows onto the paper (or through the keyboard). Then the editing process gives me a huge headache, but it always ensures an amazing final product!

DL: Could you reflect a bit on what writing or being a writer has meant for you and your life?

YG: Writing has gotten me through so many of life’s trials. I don’t know what I would do without it. It’s not only a way to get out your own ideas (and sometimes demons), but also a way to let other people know they’re not alone. It’s a chance to take someone away to a different world; to help them forget about life, even for a few minutes.

DL: What are links to your books, website, and blog so readers can learn more about you and your work?

YG: Here are links to my works:

If you want links for the things I mention above:

Indie Monday

Today’s guest: Jeffrey Schoenherr

pig ride

With so many cancellations of in-person author events due to World War C, I’m devoting my blog to Indie Monday interviews for the coming months to help my fellow authors with promotion. I’ll be featuring indie and small-press authors who produce quality work outside the boundaries and strictures of the traditional mass-produced, mass-marketed commercial publishing world and traditional bookstore shelves.

Today I’m happy to host prolific children’s book author Jeffrey Schoenherr. A native of Michigan, Jeffrey is the author of five well-received illustrated books: Lillie Saves the Day (2013), Lillie and Hamlet Meet Their Special Friends (2016), Hamlet Goes to School (2019), Lillie and Hamlet and the Baby in the Tree (2019), and his newest, Lillie’s Big Parade (2020). 

Recently I posed some questions to Jeffrey. Here’s what he told me.

DL: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

JS: I was raised on a farm in White Cloud, Michigan. I came from a family of eight, so you know the fun never stops. We are close and I always use them to throw around my ideas for books. It helps to keep me on track. I now live in Mt Clemens, Michigan. I have two children. My daughter is in college, and my son just finished his degree. I have five Lillie book’s out now: Lillie Saves the Day, Lillie’s Big Parade, Lillie and Hamlet Meet Their Special Friends, Lillie and Hamlet and the Baby in the Tree, and Hamlet Goes to School. There is also a new series on the way.

DL: Tell us about your latest book and works in progress.

JS: My latest children’s book should be out by early August.  It’s called Smitty’s Great Escape.

It’s a true story about my grandfather and his dog. This was something that happened when I was a young kid. I almost always use real-life events for my books. The story is about a boxer dog who knows how to escape from his dog pen.

I am working on a story about a Scottish lad as well. I hope to have it out this year as well. I have several more Lillie books in the works and I am working on a story of a Gulf War veteran. This book is a little more challenging.

DL: Why do you write? What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?

JS: I had these memories in my mind about things that happened when I was growing up, and I always thought they would make great stories. When something stands out so much in your mind, I knew I had to get the stories out there. My mother won the Detroit News spelling bee long ago and was an avid reader. She really was and is the inspiration for all of my Lillie books. Her name was Lillian, a very kind woman who shared the value of treating people and animals with love and care.

One time we had a baby piglet that wasn’t going to make it. My mom brought the piglet in the house and started feeding it with an eyedropper. Pretty soon we had an eight-pound piglet in the kitchen! The piglet thought that my mom was his mom as well.

My hope is that these books will help children learn to read and be better people. When you hear numbers like 50% of children can’t read, it’s time to help change the trend.

DL: Please talk about your writing process. Where do your ideas come from? What is your favorite part of the process? Least favorite?

JS: My writing process is more or less using memories I have and composing the thoughts to paper. It’s usually writing the outline of the story, then rereading it. I usually write the stories out freehand and then I can move the pieces around until I’m happy with the results. Then I type it out. With children’s books, the slow process is the illustrations. So it’s a bit of hurry up and wait. I also have stories that have just popped into my mind and I again put the ideas on paper. The average children’s book takes about a year to complete, start to finish.

My favorite part of the process is seeing the story come to life and my least favorite is waiting to complete it.

DL: Could you reflect a bit on what writing or being a writer has meant for you and your life?

JS: As I reflect on writing, I never really thought that I would be a writer. I sort of think that the stories chose me. I was compelled to write the first book, Lillie Saves the Day. To be honest, when I saw the book finally completed, I cried. I never felt so accomplished.  That lead me to write the next book, and then it made me push to get more books out.

What helped was when I had a Name the Pig Contest. I asked the kids from my old elementary school, White Cloud Elementary, to come up with several names. The teachers loved the idea. The kids came up with fifteen names. I chose the name that I thought fit the story. (I actually asked my oldest sister what name she liked out of the fifteen names the kids gave me. She chose the same one that I did.) The kids had all voted on the names.

I went to the school and announced the winning name. There was a whole gym filled with kids and teachers. When I announced “Hamlet” was the name, they all cheered. It was amazing. I never felt that way. It was overwhelming. As all the kids left the gym, the kids hugged me, they thanked me, they high-fived me. I knew then that I would continue to put out good feel-good stories for these little people. I’m proud to be a writer.

DL: What are links to your books, website, and blog so readers can learn more about you and your work?

JS: As of now I have my books on Amazon and am working on a new website. My Amazon Author’s Page is:

https://www.amazon.com/Jeffrey-Schoenherr/e/B00GHZ3FZY/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1