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

 

 

Indie Monday

Today’s guest: Linda Jarkey

Jarkey photoWith 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 multi-talented children’s author, educator, travel writer, photographer, and world traveler Linda Jarkey. A resident of metropolitan Detroit, Linda has served as a secondary language arts teacher, public school administrator, and assistant professor at the university level. She earned her Master of Arts in Teaching from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, and her doctorate in leadership in administration from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. She is the author of the first book in a projected series, Sadie Sees Trouble (Front Edge Publishing, 2019; illustrated by Julie Jarkey-Kozlowski).Sadie 2

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

DL: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

LJ: I was born and raised in Michigan, and my sister, Julie and I grew up on the east side in what is now called Eastpointe. My childhood was a bit unorthodox, as I didn’t live in a house until I started school. Our dad was an entertainer, a stand-up comedian and Master of Ceremonies, and we traveled across the U.S. living in hotels. The love of travel and learning about people whose ways were different from ours undoubtedly sprang from these early experiences.

My career was spent mostly in education as a teacher, administrator and assistant college professor. I’ve also worked in retail, sales and marketing, and as a travel company spokesperson at trade shows. Travel writing and photography are also great enthusiasms of mine, and through the travel company advertising, my photographs have appeared in magazines such as The Smithsonian and National Geographic.

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

LJ: My book, Sadie Sees Trouble, is a story in verse about a little dog, Sadie, whose life is turned upside down when her little girl Penny gets a tablet for her birthday and stops paying attention to Sadie. It’s an invitation to parents to engage children with the tale of Sadie as she tries to lure Penny back into active play around their home. Responding to nationwide calls by educators to reduce screen time among young children, my sister, illustrator Julie Jarkey-Kozlowski, and I developed this first book in a projected series of Sadie stories so that it literally opens doors in family literacy.

What doors? Well, first, the doors to your kitchen cabinets! My sister Julie did the illustrations using food items, such as mustard for Sadie, and strawberries, blueberries, coffee, and beet juice. The components are listed at the back of the book. Young readers, using Q-Tips, can color the pages this way, too. After reading the story, readers can also visit this website to download free black-and-white illustrations of Sadie and Penny to become a lively part of their story.

I currently have three works in progress. The first is a photo essay about The Hill of Crosses in Lithuania. What started in the late 1800’s as a small memorial to local men lost in the fight for freedom, has turned into an international monument to all those lost in the fight for liberation. It is quite an experience to walk among the hundreds of thousands of crosses of all sizes placed there by folks from all over the world.

The second project is the second “Sadie” story, and the third is a book about my journey through Iran.

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

LJ: I don’t know why I write. It’s just something I’ve always done, even as a child. Early on, I wrote mostly for fun and friends in the form of comic poems, song parodies and mental musings. Sadie Sees Trouble was the first serious piece of writing I had the confidence to share. I felt the messages in the story were timely and relevant; parents and educators around the world were waking up to the need to limit children’s screen time. I also felt the story could provide parents a fun and interactive way to approach a difficult topic such as reduced screen time and making healthy choices.

What I hope to accomplish with the travel writing is to open windows on the world for readers. I especially want to share how people across the globe are really more alike than we are different. Governments and politics aside, people share many of the same  hopes and dreams for a better life for their children. From Azerbaijan to Uzbekistan, I have been impressed with the kindness and hospitality of the people, the richness of the unique cultures and the amazing food. Ah, the food!

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

LJ: This may sound silly, but most of my ideas come to me in dreams, or in that half- awake state just this side of dreamland. A person or incident may be the catalyst for an idea. For example, I observed a family in a restaurant. Both the mom and dad were focused on their phones. Their little boy, about 4 years of age, kept trying to get his mom’s attention. Finally, he squirmed out of his seat, crawled under the table, and tried to climb into his father’s lap. That scene made my heart hurt. It bounced around in my head for a while and one day, the story of Sadie and Little Penny came to me in a dream, complete with illustrations.

I keep a notebook by my bed to catch ideas. The hardest part is forcing myself to get up and write them down immediately. Then comes the fleshing out of the details, and the rewriting, rewriting, rewriting. My least favorite part of the writing process is just getting started. Putting those first words and ideas down can be so difficult at times. The best part is when the project starts to come together.

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

LJ: Although I’ve had articles published in educational journals and magazines, I never really thought of myself as a writer. It wasn’t until the publication of Sadie Sees Trouble, and being introduced as an author that it became real to me. I had wanted to be a writer/journalist in high school, and it’s taken decades for that dream to come true. Being a published author has been one of the great joys of my life.

Doing school readings and coloring crafts and seeing how the children respond to the story of Sadie has been very rewarding and encouraging. The positive feedback on the travel writing validates that I have something share that is informative and entertaining. It is a heady feeling that brings not only joy, but the responsibility to keep going.

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

LJ: The website for the book is: www.sadieseestrouble.com.

My Amazon page is: https://www.amazon.com/Linda-Jarkey/e/B07H24PYYT?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1593201609&sr=1-1

My Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/LindaJarkeyAuthor/.

Indie Monday

Today’s guest: A. Kidd

headshot for A. Kidd 2

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 children’s author A. Kidd. A resident of the Detroit metropolitan area, she has a B.S. in Written Communication with a minor in Language, Literature, and Writing from Eastern Michigan University, and an MLIS with a specialization in children’s librarianship from Wayne State University. Her poetry has been published in literary magazines. She is also an artist and a performance poet. She is the author of her debut novel, The Healing Star (Quiet Storm Publishing, 2019).

coverFINAL_0722_web_A.Kidd

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

DL: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

AK: I’m a dreamer and a kid at heart, thus my name suits me. I’ve been going on adventures, some planned and some unplanned, since I was little. I’m the middle child of three girls, so I’ve always struggled to have a voice. But once I found it, specifically through writing, there was no stopping it. I made up stories before I could write and even drew the pictures. I created my first picture book in high school Spanish class. Imagine trying to write a story in a language you barely understand!

I’m also a published poet. I learned how to tell an engaging story through performance poetry. I studied journalism, which helped me see the value in research. I loved talking to people to discover their stories, until one day I realized I wanted to tell my own stories. I’m also a children’s librarian. As you can imagine, being around all those books was very inspiring!

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

AK: My debut novel is The Healing Star, a light middle-grade fantasy for grades 3-6. In it, stars with healing powers are falling from the sky. Feisty 4thgrader Julia is trying to catch one to save her grandma’s life. Grammu has the invisibility illness and will eventually completely disappear. But if Julia catches a falling star, then her wish will be granted, and her grandma will become well again.

The book is a timeless tale that can be read together as a family.

I don’t like to reveal too much about my works in progress, but I’m currently revising a YA environmental dystopian with dual perspectives. I also have another middle-grade fantasy percolating about a girl born during a hurricane who is trying to save her family, and possibly the entire world, from falling apart.

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

AK: I write because I can’t NOT write. It pours out of me, sometimes in drips and drabs, other times in gushes. Especially right now, when the world seems a little bit off its axis, so to speak.

I write the way I see the world and hope to share my insights with others: to make people laugh until they cry, or cry until they laugh.

I especially want to encourage children and adults to write their own stories and to find the courage to share them.

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

AK: Is it annoying if I say my ideas come from the ether and that I pluck them from the sky like wishes? But truly, I often come up with ideas while jogging or doing dishes or daydreaming. Anytime I quiet my mind and give it a chance to speak.

I love the idea stage and letting my hand run across the page while I try to keep up with it. I’m less fond of revising, but I’m starting to get the courage to do it. When I’m able to carve away at those initial ideas and refine my work into something even deeper and more satisfying than my initial vision, I know the extra effort was worth it.

My advice to children and anyone is to write the most exciting part first. Then fill in the rest. The connections and details will follow.

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

AK: Writing has saved my life over and over. One time I quite literally fell on my face while jogging, and it was only through writing that I had the courage to get back up. I was terrified of the sidewalk for a while. I had to learn to trust my own two feet again. The blank page can be just as scary. Sometimes we have to learn to embrace the unknown. And to find our voice in the chaos swirling around us. It starts with just one step or one word.

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

My FaceBook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/A.Kiddwrites/

Twitter: @AKiddwrites

Instagram: a.kiddwrites

Email: a.kiddwrites@gmail.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50161788-the-healing-star

Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/dp/1733899200

Universal Book Link for eBook: https://books2read.com/TheHealingStar

 

 

Indie Monday

Today’s guest: J. Q. Rose

Me in mustang 400 x 300

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 author J. Q. Rose. A resident of Western Michigan, she has written both fiction and nonfiction. Her nonfiction books include Girls Succeed!: Stories Behind the Careers of Successful Women (2014), Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing: Tips on the Writing Process, Publishing and Marketing (2015), Your Words, Your Life Stories: A Guide for Sharing Memories (2019), and Quick Tips on Vegetable Gardening: Starting Your Garden (2015). Her mysteries published by Books We Love Publishing are Terror on Sunshine Boulevard (2nd ed., 2019), Deadly Undertaking (2nd ed., 2019), and Dangerous Sanctuary (2nd ed., 2019).

Jan. 2020 JQ's books

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

DL: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

JQR: Hello Readers! Thank you, Don, for hosting me on your blog today! The trip from beautiful West Michigan to your place in cyberspace was lovely. I look forward to interacting with your readers.

Whether the story is fiction or non-fiction, I am “focused on story.”  I offer readers chills, giggles, and quirky characters woven within the pages of my mystery books. Using my storytelling skills, I provide entertainment and information in articles featured in books, magazines, newspapers, and online magazines. With my non-fiction book for girls, Girls Succeed! Stories Behind the Careers of Successful Women, I returned to my first love, writing about real people.

I taught elementary school for several years and never lost the love for teaching passed down from my teacher grandmother and mother. I satisfies the teaching aspect of my character by presenting workshops on Creative Writing and Writing Your Life Story.

When I’m not writing, I enjoy photography, playing Pegs and Jokers board games, and traveling with my husband. We spend winters in Florida and summers up north with our four grandsons and granddaughter.

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

I am a life storytelling evangelist! I believe every person’s story is important and should be shared as a gift to family and friends and/or published to get their message out into the hands of readers.

In November I self-published a journal, Your Words, Your Life Story: A Journal for Sharing Memories.The low content paperback book offers folks who are interested in telling their life story ways to begin what seems like an overwhelming project. I break it down into small bites. For folks who are not writers, I encourage them to use audio or video to tell their stories and suggest programs (apps) to do so.

For those who prefer to read eBooks, Your Words, Your Life Story: A Guide for Sharing Memories is also available with all the information, inspiring quotes and exercises as in the journal. You will have to provide your own journal or notebook. This is available at Amazon and major online booksellers.

At the moment I am writing a memoir, which is just one slice of a person’s entire life story. My husband and I pursued our dream of being entrepreneurs in the floral industry. So the story of the first year is about our move to a small town in Michigan to start our business. We did not have friends or family there, nor did we have any experience in selling flowers or operating a business. The only way to explain our bold move is that we were young. The book, Arranging a Dream: A Memoir,will be released January 2021 by BWL Publishing.

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

JQR: Because I am a wordsmith and love putting words together to make a story. What do you hope to accomplish with your writing? My purpose in writing fiction and non-fiction is to entertain and enlighten readers.

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

JQR: My mysteries are sparked by news stories. Real life can be as unbelievable as fiction, so I tweak and twist the true life story to a fictional story filled with quirky characters and humor. My non-fiction books are about what interests me such as gardening, inspiring young girls to follow their dream and encouraging folks to write life stories.

My favorite part of the process is beginning the story where so many possibilities for characters, settings and twists in the story are available. My least favorite is culling out all the words, paragraphs or chapters that do not add anything to the premise of the book.

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

 JQR: Connections. Writing is a solitary job. I am so glad my crit group talked me into trying to publish my first novel. I almost felt guilty if I didn’t try after all the meetings we’d had together and the suggestions and thoughts they had on that story. If I hadn’t continued to write and publish, I would have missed so much. I made friends through writing that I could never have made. My horizon has widened by meeting folks from all over the world! I have plugged into thoughts from very smart people who share their world view so different from mine. I have connected with readers.

But the best part . . . my granddaughter thinks I’m famous! I took her with me to visit a talented children’s author in our town. My granddaughter chose a picture book and Jane autographed it for her. When we returned to the car, Aubrey said, “Now I know two famous people.”

“Two famous people? Who are they?”

She replied, “Jane and You!”

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

JQR: An up-to-date list of my books with blurbs and buy links is available on the page on my blog: https://www.jqrose.com/p/fiction-sunshine-boulevard-available.html.

Readers can connect online with me at my JQ Rose Blog—Focused on Story https://www.jqrose.com/.

Readers can click here to sign up for the J.Q. Rose Courier, delivered once a month to your inbox to keep up-to-date on news, sneak peaks, giveaways and fun from JQ: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/m7v2z3

Your Words, Your Life Stories: A Journal for Sharing Memories is available at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1702360571. The e-book version is available at Amazon and major online booksellers: https://books2read.com/u/4ExnDY.

My Facebook group to support those who are telling their stories, “Telling Your Life Story and Memoirs Circle” group, is accessible at https://www.facebook.com/groups/telllifestories/.

Indie Monday

Today’s guest: Brenda Hasse

Hasse author photoWith 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 Brenda Hasse, a prolific, multi-award-winning author and freelance writer. Brenda has written and published young adult historical romance, pre-teen historical mystery, and adult metaphysical/visionary novels. She is also the author of several picture books for children. Brenda volunteers her time researching the history of Fenton, Michigan, and writing scripts for the Fenton Village Players to perform during the Ghost Walk and Historical Cemetery Walk. She is a guest teacher at Fenton High School, and resides in Fenton with her husband and cats.

Brenda’s novels include The Moment of Trust (2020), From Beyond the Grave: An Afterlife Journey, Part 2 (2019), A Lady’s Destiny (2018), On the Third Day: An Afterlife Journey (2017), The Freelancer (2014), and Wilkinshire (2010). Her books for children are A Unicorn for my Birthday (2009), My Horsy and Me, What Can We Be? (2006), and Yes, I Am Loved (2005).

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

DL: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

BH: It was difficult for me to learn to read as a child and I hated it. I was one of five students who had to be pulled from my class several times a week to work with a paraprofessional to improve my reading skills. Throughout my education, I relied on notes to pass a class. Upon graduation from college, I worked for General Motors as a computer programmer analyst. I didn’t appreciate the written word until my mid-30s (so, like yesterday, lol) I enjoy reading now, though. I think it is quite ironic that I write for others to read.

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

BH: My latest book is titled, The Moment Of Trust. It is a young adult historical romance, which was published on April 21, 2020. I am also working on the third book of a trilogy titled, Until We Meet Again: An Afterlife Journey, Part 3, which I have set a goal of publication by the end of June. The trilogy’s genre is metaphysical/visionary with the first book, On The Third Day, soon to be made into an audiobook.

I am also writing a book based on the true experience of human trafficking titled, A Victim Of Desperation, and hope to publish it by the end of September/October.

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

BH: I mostly write young adult historical romance. I have always enjoyed history, especially the medieval time period. Even though it was a dirty and oftentimes brutal era, there is a distinct romance about that time that I like to bring to life.

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

BH: My writing process begins with knowing how the story will end, creating relatable characters for the reader, and a loose outline. Next, I write an extended outline, rewrite adding on the average 10,000 words with each pass-through of the manuscript before passing it onto my beta readers. Once I receive feedback from my betas, I take their comments into consideration, make changes, edit several times, and format the manuscript for printing before passing it onto a professional editor. Once I update the edits, I give the manuscript to another editor to ensure most, if not all of the typos and mistakes are found. Unfortunately, some may still slip through.

While waiting for feedback from beta readers and editors, I am busy writing the synopsis for the back of the cover and designing the front cover. My graphic illustrator helps to layout my design for the print and ebook covers. All of my files must be converted to pdf, jpg, and ebook for submission.

My favorite part of the process is designing the cover and promotional video. The least favorite part is rewriting and editing, which at times is tedious.

My ideas come from my imagination, life experiences, or at times they find me. The book I am writing about human trafficking formulated through the random meeting with the victim. Since she had not told anyone else about her experience, I like to believe I was chosen to tell her story. I also participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for encouragement and goal setting.

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

BH: It is good to create something, whether through sculpture, composing music, or other forms of art. I like to think when I write, I am painting with words. As someone reads my words, pictures form within their mind. Even though the pictures are intangible, they seem real at the moment they are read. Since writing is usually a solitary craft, it is refreshing to participate in signings and share what I have learned about writing with others in writing groups and lecturing.

Even though I have received several awards for my writing, it is nice to overhear someone who has read one of my books boast about its quality to someone else. I volunteer to write scripts for my city’s community actors to perform during the annual ghost walk and cemetery walk.

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

http://www.BrendaHasseBooks.com

I don’t blog often, but there are a few that I have published via my website.

Thanks for spotlighting me on your blog!

Indie Monday

Today’s guest: D. A. Reed

DA Reed Headshot

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 proud to host D.A. Reed (Deborah Reed), who writes young adult (YA) novels, as well as novels in the mystery/thriller genre. Deborah’s young adult novels are based on challenges children and adults face every day. Her characters touch the hearts of readers even after the last page has been turned, and Deborah’s hope is that the message her novels contain will help and encourage those who read them.

Deborah’s young adult novels have garnered the attention of children’s author Johnathan Rand, who invited her to be a writing instructor at his Author Quest writing camp for young writers in 2016-2020. She is in demand as a presenter at writers’ retreats, workshops, and conferences, and taught creative writing workshops to children in the United Arab Emirates at the Sharjah International Book Fair in 2019. In addition to her novels, Deborah has had short horror stories published in Share Your Scare: A Lulu Anthology, and The Garfield Lake Review.

 

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

DL: Welcome, Deborah. Could you tell us a little about yourself?

DAR: I am an author of five young adult fiction novels (Daisies in the Rain, Dancing with Shadows, The Rejects of Room 5, Dare Accepted, and Nothin’ but Gutters and Pocket Change) and three mystery/thriller adult novels (Web of Deceit is a stand-alone mystery/thriller; When Darkness Killed Her and When Vengeance Reigned are books 1 and 2 of the Caitlin O’Reilly trilogy). I have also published two volumes of short horror stories under the pseudonym H.G. Evans. I am a wife and a mother of a superhero and a princess. Not only do I love writing, but I love reading, and devour books of all genres. I also enjoy running, and plan many scenes from my novels while my feet pound out miles on the pavement!

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

DAR: My latest novel was released April 15th and is titled Nothin’ but Gutters and Pocket Change. It is a young adult novel that portrays the struggles of homeless teens. Here’s the synopsis:

Two separate lives, one goal: survival

 She is afraid for her life…

Summer Jackson and her brother Levi don’t tell anyone about what happens at home, dealing with the fights between their mother and live-in boyfriend Bracken in secret. But when Bracken puts their mom in the hospital, Summer realizes they can’t go back home, even if it means she and Levi end up sleeping in a gutter.

 He is abandoned by his family…

Midas Ramirez may not be rich, but at least he has a place to call home. That is, until he finds out the bank is taking the house, his parents are moving, and Midas isn’t welcome. Abandoned and with nowhere to go, Midas turns to the one thing he knows will get him cash fast – but it could also ruin his life.

 Both are out of options…

When things take a turn for the worse, Summer and Midas realize they have a choice to make – learn to trust others with their secrets…or risk losing everything.

I am currently working on the third and final novel in the Caitlin O’Reilly mystery/thriller trilogy, When Death Whispered Her Name. It will be released in fall of 2020.

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

DAR: I write because I love stories and how they draw me into another world. More often than not, I become so engrossed in the book I am reading and the emotions in brings out in me that someone (my husband…my kids…) can call my name and I won’t hear them. There are several books I have read where the author elicited emotions as if the events were happening to me personally. Words are incredibly powerful, and those books made me want to create that same emotional response in others as well.

While my mystery novels are more purely for entertainment, my young adult novels all deal with real-life issues that kids (and also many adults) struggle with today. I try to incorporate a message in each of my YA novels that will help readers navigate these situations and this crazy thing called life!

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

DAR: I try to write every day, even if it is only for ten minutes. It keeps the writing muscles moving, keeps the story fresh in my mind so when I sit down the next day, I know exactly where to go next.

I am not one to outline my books before beginning them. I tried outlining before and stared at a wall for over two hours before giving up and just going for it. Typically, I know how the novel will start, a few things that happen in the middle, and how it ends. Once I begin, the characters tend to take over and tell me where to go! (They can be rather bossy…) I love when the characters begin to take on a life of their own; they no longer are statistics on a page, they are real with a specific personality, way of talking, etc.

I think my least favorite part of writing is editing. Creating a written work is intensely personal and it can seem like a direct attack against your person when readers and editors critique that work. However, I truly believe that learning and evolving are continual processes–and the only way to improve and grow is to be willing to take a good, honest look at what others have to say. (Even if it hurts!)

My ideas come from everything around me. Conversations I have, things I see, smell…anything can set off a story in my head. One time I was running in downtown Rockford during winter and saw a woman bundled up in a winter coat, hat, scarf, and gloves. She was sitting on a bench and reading a book while holding a coffee cup in her other hand. I thought she was insane! It was only about thirty degrees outside, and the wind made it feel even colder. But she was outside, reading and drinking coffee. That woman stuck with me – and became the main character of a short story I began writing the next day!

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

DAR: Writing has opened up many opportunities for me, for which I am incredibly grateful!

I think the biggest wonder for me is knowing how my writing has touched the lives of others. When I first began writing young adult novels, I was overwhelmed by the response from readers. Many thanked me for writing the stories and for the messages within. A mother contacted me to tell me about how one of my novels not only helped her daughter, but also herself personally. I often hear of my books being passed around to various family members as one person reads it and wants to share it with others. What floored me was also having a high school student approach me and say her friends keep wanting to read my books, but every time they go to the library, they’re already checked out. To know that the messages in my books are helping others is the greatest gift writing has given me.

Through writing I have also been blessed to meet a wonderful community of people who are loving and supportive as we all pour our hearts out through the written word. I have also been able to share my passion for writing with children and adults through writing workshops and presentations, some international.

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

DAR: All of my books are available on www.amazon.com and www.lulu.com.

Readers can follow me on:

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dareedauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dareedauthor

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com (D.A. Reed, Author)

Feel free to sign up for my monthly newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gtszKT

Indie Monday

Today’s guest: Ingar Rudholm

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On occasional Mondays, I’ll be featuring other authors on my blog—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 proud to feature Ingar Rudholm. Ingar is the author of two books, the Traveling Circus (2017), and the brand-new prequel, soon to be released Traveling Circus and the Secret Talent Scroll (2020). Both books are aimed at readers aged ten to thirteen. A talented artist as well as an author, Ingar wrote and illustrated both of these books. Based in western Michigan, Ingar is well-known across the entire Michigan writer community for his creative marketing and publicity ideas, as well as for his great generosity in sharing his knowledge and insights with other writers as he helps them to achieve their goals.

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

DL: Welcome, Ingar. Could you tell us a little about yourself?

IR: I was born and raised in Whitehall, MI. My mom owned Homestead Art Gallery on Mears right across the street from the Howmet Playhouse. (My mom would pay me an allowance so I could go across the street to watch plays like Wind in the Willows and Peter Pan.) My dad built and remodeled homes in the Muskegon County area. When I was a child, my mother encouraged me to take art classes, and my father encouraged me to write. Thanks to my mom’s art gallery, I’ve met several local painters and attended local art fairs from Traverse City to Rockford around the state.

During the day, I’m an engineer for Industrial Assemblies in Fruitport, MI, which manufactures store fixtures and displays for retail chains. And at night, I write and illustrate children’s books.

In 2010, my mother passed away, leaving behind a set of brushes, a box of paints, and several art history books. She had dementia, leaving her unable to paint during the final years of her life. Traveling Circus is my first illustrated novel and includes references to a lot of famous painters, but it is also a tribute to the first artist I’ve ever known and loved: my mom.

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

IR: After positive reviews from parents, I decided to write a prequel to Traveling Circus called Traveling Circus and the Secret Talent Scroll. It’s an origin story of how the circus started and how the ringmaster turned into the “bad” guy.

Here’s the book description:

Buried in the wreckage of a sunken ship, Cordelia finds a skeleton clutching an ammo box. Inside, she discovers a magic scroll that turns any natural talent into a superpower. The scroll transforms an ordinary girl like Cordelia into something extraordinary—a mermaid.

When a tragic car accident shatters Cordelia’s dreams of becoming an Olympic swimmer, her father, Salvatore, is determined to harness the scroll’s magical powers to heal his daughter. But his tampering with the scroll comes at a steep price.

Will Cordelia achieve her Olympic dreams, or remain forever cursed as a mermaid in a circus sideshow?

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

IR: I love books, art, plays, music, and movies. Writing and illustrating are my outlets for being creative. After college, I almost gave up on all of it and I settled for a “day” job. But, like the mafia, creative people draw me back into the family. Crime doesn’t pay, neither does art. I’m kidding!

Luckily, most of the things I wanted to accomplish with writing already became a reality. I have an editorial review from the Detroit Free Press, a guest spots on a few radio/television shows, school visits, and even a fan letter!

Moving forward, I’ve set new aspirations. I plan to create a platform, using books and art, to inspire and entertain kids. Who knows if my goals will work out, but I’ll have fun creating value-tainment. (Okay, so I made-up that last word.)

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

IR: I keep notepads next to my bed, couch, and kitchen. Every time I have an idea, I reach for my notepad. If I encounter writer’s block, I’ll go for a walk. There’s something about being in the fresh air and exercising that stimulates my brain.

My favorite part about writing is coming up with the initial story idea and polishing the final manuscript. During the creative process I encounter what I call serendipitous ideas. These ideas tie characters together with a scene or an emotion. Most of my “happy accident ideas” occur when I’m reading an news article or listening to a podcast, letting the subconscious mind run wild while lying in bed, or in the shower.

The least favorite part is the rough draft. I have to accept my first draft isn’t going to perfect, I’m going to make a lot of mistakes, and all the pieces won’t fall into place right away.

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

IR: I need to stay busy, otherwise I get the “mean reds.” To quote an Audrey Hepburn line from Breakfast at Tiffany’s: “The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid, and you don’t know what you’re afraid of.” By staying creative, it keeps the demons at bay. Also, I’ve always felt comfortable when I was surrounded by artists. Traveling all over Michigan, I meet tons of creative authors, artists, and musicians.

DL: What are links to your books, website, and blog?

IR: Here are some links so readers can learn more about me and my work:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/bookseries/B086X7JKJ3/ref=dp_st_1482077620

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=822qOUnQjUA

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/12106604.Ingar_Rudholm

Indie Monday

Today’s guest: Jordan Scavone

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On occasional Mondays, I’ll be featuring other authors on my blog—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 feature Jordan Scavone. After receiving his undergraduate degree in Children’s Literature and Theater for the Young from Eastern Michigan University, Jordan began working on his first picture book. In April of 2016, Jordan received his M.A. in Children’s Literature from Eastern Michigan University. Currently, he lives with his wife Chelsea, their cat Lizbeth, and soon-to-arrive baby boy (June 2020!).

Jordan is the author of five books. Four are books for children: Might-E (2017, illustrated by Caitlyn Knepka), The Mud Princess (2018, illustrated by Monica Guignard), A Girl Named Adam (2019, illustrated by C.N.J. Zing), and Turtle Day (2019, illustrated by Monica Guignard). His latest publication is a young adult novel, Night Warrior, newly released last month and already getting rave reviews.

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

DL: Welcome, Jordan. Could you tell us a little about yourself?

JS: I am an author with four children’s books out and one brand-new young adult novel! I am a infant/toddler teacher and strive to bring as many new books into my classroom as possible. I like video games, movies, unicorns, and playing Dungeons and Dragons!

DL: Tell us about your latest book and works in progress. Where did the ideas for those works come from?

JS: My latest book is called Night Warrior and it follows a high-school-age girl who is a wannabe fantasy author. However, after some magical shenanigans the characters in her book start to enter her world. Sword and magic adventure in an urban setting! It’s a bit of a contrast from writing children’s picture books, but it was a blast to do and people have been receiving it really well. This book pulls inspiration from playing Dungeons and Dragons, and I even used a campaign to help build the lore of the book.

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

JS: I write because I get too much creative energy and I need to get it out. My brain generates stories and I write them down. I used to just do it for myself so I could experience the stories in a better medium, and then I found out people liked them, so, books! I hope to do my best to allow everyone to find themselves in a character I one of my works. I want to be inclusive and welcoming to as many people as I can.

DL: Please talk a little about your writing process. What is your favorite part of the process? Least favorite?

JS: My writing process is strange, at least I think it is. My favorite part also happens to be my least favorite part. I’ll sit down and write for hours on end and get a lot done, but then find issues with being able to write regularly. So, I love that I can sit and write for hours on end, but I also kind of hate it as it really takes up a whole day! My writing process is very unorganized…

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

JS: Deep down I always wanted to write for others and I think I knew that when I was a kid. I remember we had a program called “Storybook Weaver: DELUX” when I was in elementary school and I would write bad fantasy books with the stock images and characters they had in the program and then show them to everyone in my class. As I got more self-conscious, I stopped showing people my writing as much. I’m still self-conscious about my writing but am more willing to let people see it…clearly. At the end of the day writing has brought me new friends, new experiences, and so much fun. I think the thing that brings me the most joy is when people get happy when they read something I write. When I go to a school and do a reading for 400+ kids and they are silent during it then want me to read more books, it means a lot.

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

JS: Between these links, all the links to my books and contacts can be easily found:
Website: www.jordanjscavone.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/MightEBook

Email Contact@JordanJScavone.com

Twitter @RealJScavone

Indie Monday

Today’s guest: Joe Spraga

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On occasional Mondays, I’ll be featuring other authors on my blog—authors who produce quality work outside the boundaries and strictures of the traditional mass-produced, mass-marketed commercial publishing world and traditional bookstore shelves.

I’m delighted that today’s featured guest is Joe Spraga. Joe is the author/illustrator of two books for children, The Snitch, the Witch, and the One Who Was Rich (2015), and Phrebbel The Phrongol’s Vacation Pictures (coming soon).

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

DL: Welcome, Joe. Could you tell us a little about yourself?

JS: I was raised in the Detroit Metropolitan area. I’ve always been artsy and I’m a graduate of Western Michigan University, with a Bachelor’s of Arts in English (Creative Writing) and a Minor in Philosophy. I’m a former musician who had to reluctantly retire and became legally disabled in 2015 due to health problems. I enjoy spending time with dogs, as should all right-thinking people.

DL: Tell us about your latest book and works in progress. Where did the ideas for those works come from?

JS: I wrote my first book, The Snitch, the Witch, and The One Who Was Rich, because the chorus of the book popped into my head one day while in a painting class in college. It had been an ear worm for me for many years. I knew then that I had to make a story out of it.  My writing style for my children’s literature is verse. However, I make sure to be as didactic as I can be with overtones of social commentary while still keeping it entertaining.

My new book, Phrebbel The Phrongol’s Vacation Pictures, will be out in a couple of weeks. It is a “brain game” style book that promotes critical thinking in a fun and interactive way for children. STAY TUNED FOR THIS ONE!!!

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

JS: I knew I was a writer in college, but I did not start taking it seriously until many years later. I have always observed life, and read books. Seeing the connection between the two is a very natural and important thing for me. I write because I want to make the world a nicer place with quality ideas that can be fun and entertaining for children and adults. I also write because it comes naturally to me and it’s fun!

DL: Please talk a little about your writing process. What is your favorite part of the process? Least favorite?

JS: Well, let’s see here . . . I honestly don’t know if I can explain this clearly, but I’ll give it my best shot. I feel my books are more “written through me” than writing them myself. I have a very “sing-songy” type mind, and things just pop into my head. I feel the universe is using me as an antennae to receive these ideas. Once I have the ideas, my process is very structured. I lay everything out ahead of time, visually, like a story board. Then, I make the words and pictures as entertaining as possible for the reader while being didactic and stimulating at the same time. That’s easy to understand, right? HA!

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

JS: Being a writer has given me a purpose. With all of my health problems, being disabled is a constant struggle. Being a writer gives me a reason to get excited about something and get out of bed in the morning. It is also cathartic for me. I understand my place in the universe better, and it helps me work through my own personal issues. I hope my writing helps my readers do the same.

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

JS: My website is https://joespraga.com/ All of my social media links are on my website. I can also be reached via email at the bottom of my website. My email is joe@joespraga.com.