Indie Monday

Today’s guest: Andrew H. Kuharevicz

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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 Andrew H. Kuharevicz, author, poet, editor, blogger, and book-buyer and manager for the indie bookstores The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague, Michigan, and The Book Nook Too in downtown Muskegon. Andrew is also the editor-in-chief of West Vine Press. He is the author of many volumes of poetry and prose, including most recently Okay Birds Quiet Please, a book of poems; Pickpocket of Reality, his fourth poetry and prose collection; and the novel, The Future Book of War, the final volume of the Adventures of a Dying Young Man series.

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

DL: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

AHK:A little about myself? What … self? Ok, where to start. Right off the bat a very loaded question but here I go:

I’m an American citizen, a human and all around pretty normal sorta guy who lives in a sleepy sorta town in Michigan named Montague. I run a bookstore called, The Book Nook & Java Shop. In my opinion, one of the best indie bookshops in the world. I’m biased but yeah, we’re on the smaller side but we do move a lot of books. There’s a full bar and a stage, which in non-pandemic years features author readings and music three or five days a week. Basically, my life feels like a dream. I mean I get to sell books for a living, something numerous people said wasn’t possible in the modern United States economy.

Today, I live a much different life than I did when I was younger. Instead of a wandering writer where I prepared for chaos each day I woke up, I now live a somewhat reasonable stable existence, I’m a father to two great kids, Sawyer (2) and Lucy (6 weeks), so they keep my wife and me pretty darn busy. Often it feels like real life is the novel, and that somehow, I just ended up here.

Prior to the Book Nook, I worked in a crazy pharmacy for a couple years in Downtown Muskegon, but before that I traveled the country as an idealistic young writer for about ten years. That happened after I moved to Ann Arbor and was fired from a job at a wine store. Back then I wanted to write and not sell wine, drink wine, not sell wine. I wasn’t ready to settle down yet so getting the boot I got on the road. I graduated from Western Michigan University, majoring in Sociology and Criminal Justice, with a minor in philosophy. Furthering my education, because I didn’t want to get stuck in my hometown, I started grad school studying Philosophy of the Mind. I dropped out, though, by the second semester because get this, I just wanted to write.

I grew up in Roosevelt Park in Muskegon, going to Catholic School from grades 1-12. Other than my parents, my grandmother was the most important person in my life. She was one of the only people who would sit and listen to me read my material. But writing isn’t something I developed when I was young. My first love was baseball, and during the summer I’d ride my bike every day with the other kids in the neighborhood to the little league field and we’d play until sunset. I continued playing baseball in high school and my first year of college.

During my last semester in university, The Stranger by Albert Camus was assigned by a criminology professor. I stayed up all night devouring the book, and when I got to the end, I decided that I was going to be a writer. After that I lived in many states, and worked many strange jobs. As they say, it’s a long and winding road, but I’ll stop there.

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

AHK: Most recently, the end of 2019, I published a big novel that I worked on for about six years, The Future Book of War. It’s a stand-alone novel that takes place in the world of the main protagonist named Henry Oldfield. You can call it a series because he is featured in more than one book I’ve written, but you don’t have to read any others to enjoy the others. Each of the five novels that make up The Adventures of a Dying Young Man Saga is a complete story with a beginning and an end. But if you want to know more, you can read another one, which layers the story with a fuller picture. The overall story is about a boy born dumb who wanders the last years of what we know as the United States before it becomes something different and new. The Future Book of War is a book I’m very proud of and was influenced by Kurt Vonnegut and also, e.e. Cummings’s The Enormous Room.

Other than my novel-length books, I also work on poetry, mostly spontaneous and in the vein of the Beat Generation. My most recent book-bound publication was a book titled Pickpocket of Reality, words about Manhattan, where I go just about every year for the Book Expo. Inside of Pickpocket of Reality you’ll read words about cats and there’s also poems about water, writing, and running a bookshop during the technological age. Basically, just life ya dig.

Also, my best-selling collection is a book that I got to read in the Village in Manhattan at this Lit-Pub named The KGB. It was the highlight of my writing career reading with other poets and friends at a place that is rich with so much history of great writers. The book I was reading from is called Okay Birds Quiet Please, and is more of the same. Just a book about writing, the love of life and the world at large, as well as the society we live in. It’s full of contradictions, just as we as a people are. It’s about silence and the moment before you start the tap… tap … tap, which is what I call typing on a typewriter.

Lastly, and briefly, I’ll be having a new book coming out in the next couple months. It’s a mix of creative nonfiction, poetry and journalism, typed up on a typewriter and titled, In Madness We Spring: Novel Words During A Pandemic. It tells the story of the first days of the Covid-19 outbreak up until the Michigan Stay at Home Order ended. It’s from the perspective of a small business owner and the pandemic, really uncharted and crazy times; In Madness We Spring will be out the end of September/Early October, published by West Vine Press, an indie from Michigan, for which I also act as an editor.

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

AHK: The question why I write is a good question. Also, a question I’ve forgotten about as my writing life has aged. So, I’ve written or edited in ninety-five percent of the days that make up the last ten years or so of my life. Hemingway said (and I paraphrase) that a writer is only a writer if they write, also, that when you are a writer you should restrain from talking so much. So maybe that’s why I write. To communicate with both myself and my expanded human family.

Writing is of course artistic, but art is still created for some kind of cause. A reason, if you will, and as you get older you often forget about the why; simply, art becomes part of you, a routine, something you do, like breathing, there’s always a reason but when it becomes habit, the reason disappears. Like brushing your teeth. Not sure if that’s a good answer, but I write to see what’s going on. I write to dig into my mind. I write to have fun. I write to talk and I write to predict the future. Ha.

Honestly, I write because I love to write, and as far as what I want to accomplish with my writing, well, back when I was just starting out I did it because I wanted to be the best writer to ever live. How outrageous is that? I was young and words were magic back then. I wanted to write the Great American Novel, living a life like Hunter S. Thompson and Henry Miller had done. Of course, that was naïve, but I had one hell of a time believing that was possible. But these days I just want to release books and try and get better with every new project I start. Being a specific type of writer, a so-called big-time successful author, isn’t Important to me, I just want to write and the only way to accomplish that is by, well, writing.

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

AHK: I have two ways I write. One for long-form (fiction, novel, short stories, and creative nonfiction) and another process for poetry.

For long-form writing projects, first, I mentally prepare for the writing process weeks and sometimes months before I even start the first draft. In the morning on some random day, I come up with a story in my head, I think it over, and play it out in my mind. I let it simmer if you will. Then when I’m ready to write, I pick a typewriter, each new book I write needs a new typewriter, one just right, fitting of the vibe if that’s possible, one to match the feeling of the story I’m going to tell.

Then, I place the typewriter somewhere in an isolated room, with no internet, no distractions, nature can be there but that’s it. Next, I place a blank piece of paper in, and just start typing. No breaks, little care for spelling and punctuation; I type for one straight hour every day until the story is done. I end each session during the first draft when I know what will happen next, so tomorrow I can pick up where I last ended and have no road blocks following the story.

It takes a good year for the first draft. Often more than one, and when I’m done there’s a stack of paper that I take and copy-write/edit into the second draft into the computer. After that’s done I edit it again multiple times and pick out a good font and change the size of the paper. Writing a long-form book is like sculpting, or building a good house, it takes time.

When I was in college, my friend who taught at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, said he liked my writing, but I needed to learn to edit more. So, I took that to heart and now my favorite part of the writing process is editing, I don’t know why, most writers say they dislike that aspect but to me that’s when what you’ve written really becomes something real, a world in-itself, self-sustaining with ozone and all.

As far as my poetry, I use whatever I have. I sketch ideas and pseudo-haikus down in notepads, type some disorganized poetics on a typewriter, write on my hand if I have an aha moment.

Writing poetry is like journalism to me, most of the truest pieces I’ve written have happened during the waiting moments of life, such as in airports, on flights, waiting for the bus, or just sitting by Lake Michigan for fifteen minutes during the middle of the afternoon. I can write a poem anywhere, it’s much freer than the long-form writing process.

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

AHK: The label of being a writer means nothing to me. I write because I like to do it. I have things to say, stories to tell, so I say and write them. But if I try to give you a better answer…

Writing has made me who I am, opened my mind, refined my critical thinking skills, opened up the world, like a Copernican Revolution, and it’s humbled me, connected me to other writers and poets all around the world. Writing has created a path for me, and writing, it’s how I ended up here, today, now.

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

AHK: Below are links to my blog, and my publisher, West Vine Press; a Facebook page of the creative process of my current project; and direct links where you can purchase some books if you’d like to. 

Andrew H. Kuharevicz blog: adventuresinamericanwriting.com

The Future Book of War: https://www.buybooknookbooks.com/product/the-future-book-of-war-by-andrew-h-k-/4662?cs=true

Pickpocket of Reality: https://www.buybooknookbooks.com/product/pickpocket-of-reality-by-andrew-k-/4794?cs=true

Okay Birds Quiet Please: https://www.buybooknookbooks.com/product/okay-birds-quiet-please-by-andrew-k/4795?cs=true

More can be found here . . . go to Buy Books Here and scroll to bottom of page: westvinepress.com

The Novel streaming first draft From Author Andrew H. K.: https://www.facebook.com/thenovelahk/

Indie Monday

Today’s guest: Elizabeth Wehman

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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 author, journalist, and editor Elizabeth Wehman. The President/Founder of Shiawassee Area Writers, Elizabeth is the author of five novels: Under the Windowsill (2014), Promise at Daybreak (2015), Just a Train Ride (2017), Mere Reflection (2019), and The Year the Stars Fell (2020), all published by Summit Street Publishing.

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

DL: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

EW: I’m a born and raised Michigander. Besides my writing, I’m a trucker’s wife and mother of three grown children. I’ve worked in the newspaper business as a reporter and editor for twelve years, and also am the President/ Founder of the Shiawassee Area Writers here in Owosso. I love to garden, mow the lawn, and be outside whenever possible. I’m smelling retirement, just around the corner, but don’t see myself stopping the creative juices of fiction writing anytime soon. I’ve dreamed of being a writer for my entire life. In first grade, I read 100 books and it was then that I fell in love with stories and story-telling. 

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

EW: My latest book came out on April 15, 2020, and is titled, The Year the Stars Fell. It is my first complete historical fiction and is based on the first settling family to enter Shiawassee County in 1833. I will soon be starting the second in a three-part series, continuing to tell the complete story of a little village in Shiawassee County that no longer exists, before it went extinct around 1880. The series is called, “North Newburg Chronicles.” I am also helping my writing group, mentioned above, publish their third anthology and that is titled, Summer in the Mitten. The group has previously published, Winter in the Mitten and Spring in the Mitten. We hope to publish Autumn in the Mitten in September 2021.

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

EW: Like I’ve said earlier, I love to write. Creating stories from my imagination is something I love to do. I also hope to instill good hometown values, the helping hand someone gets from a neighbor/friend, and the value of lessons learned from days long ago. I like to instill good, solid beliefs in God that help us through all of life’s trials, and show that within the words of my stories. My ultimate goal is to give insights on how to maneuver through life at our best, but with the help of our Creator and to give Him the praise when we do.

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

EW: I sit and write. I don’t let writer’s block or lack of ideas stop me from writing. I like to push through those roadblocks and see what can come from the days I feel off or when writing doesn’t come easy. My favorite part is the first time I sit down and begin a novel. I love creating believable and unique characters and then fleshing them out in the story. As a newspaper reporter/editor, I loved the research part of the story. When a small tidbit would release the thoughts of…what if’s…better than anything else. That’s why I’m so excited to write about this village, and hopefully more, that once existed and now does not…for whatever reasons.

Some of my greatest ideas come while I’m in the shower or on the lawnmower. The shower is my greatest thinking place. I can often get through difficult ideas/scenes by working them out while doing those two mundane things. Also walking often helps me create as well.

My least favorite is the editing part. When I’ve gone over edited my book over and over again and then I send it off to a formal editor and she/he sends me back with a million changes. I thought it was at a successful point, until someone else takes a look and changes my mind. LOL! Hard to be critiqued on something you thought was fairly good. It somehow discourages me the most and my confidence wanes.

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

EW: Being a novel writer is a dream come true for me. I’ve always told people that someday I hope to write books. Ever since college. So this job is literally a dream come true for me. The reward is seeing my writing as a useful/helpful tool in people’s lives. If they are touched, enlightened, affected, or even changed due to something I have written, that makes the process even more fulfilling for me. I used to go into the bookstore or library and push the books aside at the location on the shelf where my name would fit. I would tell my child, if they were with me, that’s where my books will be someday. To see them there now, just makes me smile. What a gift I’ve been given to have the opportunity to now have five books on the shelf of a bookstore or library.

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

EW: My website is: http://www.elizabethwehman.com.My Facebook wall is Elizabeth Wehman/Author. I’m on Twitter @elizabethwehman, Instagram at summit.street.writer and Facebook. I’m also on Amazon and Good Reads at Goodreads.

Here are links to my books:

Under the Windowsill

Promise at Daybreak

Just a Train Ride

Mere Reflection

The Year the Stars Fell

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). 
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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

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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).

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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: Andy Lockwood

 

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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 Andy Lockwood, author of horror and supernatural fiction. A prolific writer, Andy has published the novels Empty Hallways (2013), House of Thirteen (2015), and the newly-arrived Threshold (2020). He has also published At Calendar’s End: Omnibus (2017), a compilation of his twelve-part At Calendar’s End serial begun in 2016. He has also contributed short fiction to several anthologies.

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

DL: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

AL: Obviously, I’m an author—independently so and Michigan-based. I write horror and supernatural fiction. I’m a horror buff, so it was only natural for me to gravitate to that genre. I recently published my fourth novel, and have numerous stories in anthologies.

I’m also a pop culture and multimedia addict. I absorb creativity in all its forms: movies, tv, art, video games, comics, books, songs, podcasts . . . you name it, I love it all.

I have two degrees in film and have made a few short indie films. I’ve created comics in my off-time. I love to draw and design and create. I have a million side-hustles—screen printing, woodworking, painting, etc.—that I pick up and put down constantly. It’s a wonder I’ve gotten anywhere with any of them.

I’m one of your typical “I’ve always been a storyteller” people. I started telling stories when I was young. I’ve played with comics and video and written narratives, bouncing from one medium to the next because I couldn’t settle. Studying film opened my eyes to some amazing subtleties in writing and narrative, and has heavily influenced my writing style. I’m told quite often that my writing “is like watching a movie.” I really appreciate that.

When I write, I’m not creating; it’s more like transcription. In a way, every story I write is a novelization of a film—it’s just that those films are all in my head. I’m putting down what I see playing out before me. Often, I’m discovering the plot right alongside the characters; I try to have an idea of what is going on, but I’m rarely included in the plot development.

By trade, I’m an eLearning Developer. Not the most common profession, even now, but it’s gotten some attention in recent months. All those courses people are taking from home? That’s kind of what I do, more or less. I’ve been working in the industry for thirteen years, and absolutely love it. I love balancing learning with fun, tempering education with interaction. There’s as much science in there as there is art.

Most importantly, I’m happily married. Bailey is my wife, editor, partner-in-crime, and steadfast supporter. She’s my Swiss Army Wife—whatever the problem is, she’s got a tool to help me fix it. Whether I am struggling with my writing, or art, or depression; maybe I’m being indecisive or high-strung or—heaven forbid—melodramatic; Bailey has some method of helping me through it. She’s always been a helper like that. She’s also one of the most fun, smart, interesting people I know. I’m lucky she tolerates me.

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

AL: My latest book, Threshold, came out May 1. It’s been a very strange release, but interesting nonetheless. It’s certainly given me an opportunity to find new ways to get the word out about my book, rather than relying on face-to-face events. I certainly appreciate the opportunities I’ve been given to promote myself through other people’s blogs and social media outlets. It’s amazing how gracious and supportive fellow writers like you are, so thank you. I genuinely appreciate it.

On the surface, Threshold is a story about a young woman who acquires an antique mirror—one that is more than it seems. As the story unfolds, we learn that her reflection has a personality of its own. But is that real? Or is it all in her head?

My stories all stem from my own fears and fascinations. Threshold is no exception. I’ve always been fascinated by reflections—not in an egotistical way, but by the clarity of the room beyond the mirror’s surface. A perfect parallel to our own. That there is such a thin surface separating us from that world and what might lie beyond it is always scratching at the back of my brain, so I tried to let that fascination loose on the page to see what might happen.

This story is also the continuation of an on-going experiment. It is very much a love story folded into elements of supernatural horror. Since I started my first novel, Empty Hallways, I started consciously working from a position of, “I don’t write horror stories, I write love stories where horrific things happen.” Threshold is a testament to that. It’s more than a story about an ancient mirror with supernatural properties—I want my readers to care about what happens to the people involved: Cate, Lucas, their friends and family. I want to know that the story affects my readers.

I think every author has that desire and that longing. I hear how creepy my stories are. How readers leave the lights on, jump their own shadows . . . I’m not complaining—that’s great. That’s exactly what I want. But there’s another part of the story that I worry everyone is missing out on: that human element. I always want to know about the rest, how everything else affected them. I’ve worked at that in my other novels, but I think it really came together in Threshold.

I’m always in some stage of writing on a couple of short stories. One is currently for the next installment of Recurring Nightmares, an anthology produced by the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers.

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

AL: I write because I’m a storyteller. Because to not write—to not weave tales and create—is detrimental to my health. Creativity is part of my existence.

Sometimes, I write because the stories I experience don’t satisfy me. Maybe I didn’t like the ending. Or maybe they wasted too much time with extraneous details. I don’t need origin stories, let’s just cut to the story. These are my hangups, obviously, we all love different things for different reasons. But when something doesn’t sit well, it sticks with me. I think about what I would have done differently, what I wish would have happened. Eventually, I start writing my own version—a completely new story on those old bones.

The great thing about this is it can work for anyone. If you don’t like a story, analyze it. Figure out what you don’t like, what would be better to you, and start writing. Make your own story out of those bones and make it better than what you read.

I guess this is what it comes down to for me: I want to show people that it can be done. I meet people all the time who find out I’m a writer and they say something like, “Oh, I wish I had what it takes to write.” You do. Everyone does. There is no difference between me and any other writer on the planet except time spent at the keyboard and the number of words put on the page. I refuse to accept “I can’t” when it comes to writing because you can. If you can post an opinion on Facebook, you can write a novel, you have all the tools necessary. You just have to take the time to do it.

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

AL: My ideas come from everywhere. From other people’s stories, from nightmares and daydreams, from silly thoughts spoken out loud on car rides. There’s a million ideas in my head and on my notepads at any given time, but it’s the ones that are too loud to ignore that get turned into stories. They take up the most space in my head and need to get out. It’s why I have a list of stories that I *want* to write, but I haven’t gotten around to them yet.

My favorite part of the process is the ideas: it’s fun to conjure up ideas. Even bad ones. The bad ones can actually build into the best stories. You know what is terrible about a bad idea, so you can start picking it apart and fixing it right away. it’s harder with a good idea that isn’t good enough. We like good ideas. We’re proud of them. They’re harder to throw away when they’re flawed. We’re already attached.

The worst part of the process is editing. I just want it to be polished and done. I don’t want to fix plot holes and correct issues and add more elements that I don’t want to be there. I just want to write the first draft and be done. I know that’s not how it works, but it’d make me happier if it did.

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

AL: *laughs* It’s certainly made my eccentricities easier for people to accept. “Why’s he like that?” “He’s a writer.” “Ohhh.”

In some ways, not much has changed. It’s one more thing to juggle, and one more thing I have to make time for. But there is always something occupying those hours, so why not writing?

In other ways, it’s been a nice change. Writing is a solitary existence. It’s you, alone with your thoughts a lot of the time while you are working. So, one of the nicer things to come out of being a writer has been connecting the Michigan author community, and the indie author community at large.

It’s an amazing comfort to be part of a network that understands what I am going through—even if we aren’t in the same genre. There are frustrations that only authors have. Things that sound insane to non-writers. It’s a relief to have a community that you can vent to. That shared experience can carry you through a lot of strife, and it creates bonds that wouldn’t exist otherwise.

I’ve made some good friends in this community. Every book event is like a reunion. I look forward to seeing everyone, their new books, and new booth setups. It’s been hard not being part of these events this year. I still have the community online, of course, but it’s not the same.

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

Website/blog: https://www.happierthoughts.com/

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Andy-Lockwood/e/B00EZAVBEU

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/happierthoughts/

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/randomgauge/

Indie Monday

Today’s guest: Marie LaPres

LaPres author

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 Marie LaPres, novelist and educator. From Western Michigan, Marie is the prolific author of books for pre-teens through adults: Though War Shall Rise Against Me: The Turner Daughters Book 1 (2015); Be Strong and Steadfast: The Turner Daughters Book 2 (2017); Plans for a Future of Hope: A Vicksburg Story: The Turner Daughters Book 3 (2018); Forward to What Lies Ahead: The Turner Daughters Book 4 (2019); Wherever You Go: The Turner Daughters Prequel Novella (2018); Beyond the Fort: The Key to Mackinac Book 1 (2018); Beyond the Island: The Key to Mackinac Book 2 (2020); Whom Shall I Fear: Sammy’s Struggle: A Gettysburg Story (2017); and A Teacher Guide to Whom Shall I Fear: Sammy’s Struggle (2019).

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

DL: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

ML: My name is Erica Marie LaPres Emelander, but I write under the middle part of my name, Marie LaPres. I am a Middle School (6-8th grade) teacher at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic School in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I teach Social Studies and Religion. I love my job, and am totally the teacher who will dress up in historic costumes. I love learning about history, so my focus in writing is Historic Fiction. I’ve attended historic reenactments and worked for the Mackinac State Historic Parks years ago.

I am extremely close to my family, both my parents, my two sisters, one brother, my three in-laws, and my three nieces and three nephews. Family is extremely important to me, and I feel that is reflected in my writing. I also enjoy watching sports and coaching. My faith is also very important to me and that also shows up in my writing. I help out at my church with the High School Youth Group. I also love listening to music and living in West Michigan, as I love the changing seasons and the Great Lakes.

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

ML: My latest works include Plans for a Future of Hope, which concludes my Turner Daughter Series. This series follows the Turner family, and each of the four books takes place in a city that was hit especially hard during the Civil War (Gettysburg, PA; Fredericksburg, VA; Vicksburg, MS; and Petersburg, VA). In these books, one of the main characters is a part of the family, so the books are all linked, though they follow the same timeline. One of the main characters of each of these is also a historic figure, and these books are as historically accurate as possible. I plan on writing other books in what I call the “Turner Daughter World,” including one of my WIPs.

Another newly released book is Beyond the Island. This is the second book of four in my The Key to Mackinac series. It is a Young Adult time travel novel, all set in the Mackinaw Straits. The first, Beyond the Fort, focuses on 1775 at Fort Michilimackinac on the mainland, and the newly released one takes place in 1814 on Mackinac Island. The final two will take place at Historic Mill Creek and the Mackinac Point Lighthouse. These are individual adventure stories, but there is also an overarching story as well.

I actually have three-six works in progress: one being edited, one being written, and two in the planning stages. The one being edited is a loose retelling of the classic Pride and Prejudice. It takes place in 1928/1929 America. Ellie Bennett lives on the family ranch outside Spearfish, South Dakota, in the Black Hills. Wealthy new neighbors bring excitement and the possibility of relationships, but class differences, pride, and prejudices may cause problems. Ellie will also travel to Biltmore manor in the Pisgah National Forest of North Carolina, and St. Louis, Missouri, in her story.  It’s pretty different from any of my other writings, but I am really excited about it.

The one I am currently writing is Young Adult Historical Fiction. It follows cousins Cassandra and Matthew during the four years of the Civil War. Cassandra is left to care for the family farm in Winchester, Virginia, which was constantly changing hands throughout the conflict. Matthew lies about his age and joins up with the Confederate Army and quickly learns that it is not all glory. This book is basically everything I teach to my students in the Civil War in awesome story form.

I am also planning my last two novels in the Key to Mackinac Series.

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

ML: I love everything about literature. Reading and writing and creating stories have always been important to me. I incorporate what I am thinking and feeling in my books, and if you were to ask me “Which main character do you think is most like you?” my response is: all of them in, different ways. Writing is a way to express myself and perhaps help others get through their lives as well. I also write to teach. My books are Historical Fiction, and I am a huge history nerd! I love to share this love of history and teach using stories. Since I am a middle school teacher, I know that a lot of people learn best through stories.

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

ML: I am always writing and usually writing and planning. My ideas come from my experiences. The idea for my first book came when I was on a family vacation to Gettysburg and heard the story of Ginny Wade. I never intended for it to grow from there, but then I went on vacation and we stopped in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where I got to the idea for doing the series. I also get ideas for learning and researching current writing projects. There are characters in my Turner Daughter World that beg to have their own full stories told, so I have those ideas. I write a monthly Michigan History article for the Buy Michigan Now website and constantly get new ideas. I have an ideas notebook so full of ideas it’s crazy.

Once I get a general idea, I do my research. I use a lot of primary documents, such as journals, articles, and letters from the past. This is where I can get my actual historic characters that I like to both focus on and weave in my stories. While I am doing that, I use note cards to outline the story. I like using note cards because I can move some scenes around if I feel it is needed. I also usually write out some scenes that really stick out in my head at this time. I handwrite all of my prewriting notes, note cards, and first drafts. It is how my brain works. I then work on the first draft, then convert it to a typed document. This can also count as the first round of editing.

My favorite part is developing the characters. They really do become a part of you, and there are many times that they take the story in a different direction that I did not originally intend.

After my first draft, my mother/top editor/everything else other than the first draft writer edits it and gives her input. I edit and fix things and add things as needed. Then it goes back for another round of editing. We eventually edit it to a point and get it out to some beta readers for final read-throughs. Then on to formatting.

My least favorite part is the last draft editing, mainly because by that time I am so ready to get it out to the readers and want to feel that sense of accomplishment once again. It takes a little too long sometimes, and I often get frustrated that I didn’t catch the typos/mistakes earlier.

I have many favorite parts. Researching, creating the stories, developing and exploring the characters are all great, and I also love the feeling of accomplishment when I hold the final draft in my hand and can share it with all my loyal readers. Hearing their feedback is great too!

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

ML: I never anticipated being a writer. While I have enjoyed writing books and telling stories for as long as I can remember, I just didn’t think I would be good enough or that anyone other than myself and my Mommy would like my books. That has been the pleasantest of surprises. It has opened many doors to me, and it has made me a better person.

I still find it hard to reach out and sell my books/myself, but I am getting better. I find it easier to small talk with people and being a part of the writing community has been a blessing in my life. There are a lot of great writers/awesome people, especially in the Michigan writing community. Because of my books and selling, I have met a lot of great people in the Civil War Reenactment world as well. I am also now able to teach in many ways I never thought possible. I can teach through my actual stories, but this has also opened up opportunities for me to give speeches and presentations on my books and research practices, as well as historic topics. Writing and traveling to events has also allowed me to deepen my relationship with my mother. None of this would have happened if not for her, and I am so lucky that we get to spend so much time together.

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

Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Marie-LaPres/e/B075J5VTX6%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Website: https://sites.google.com/view/marielapres/home

YouTube Page: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMovDGPKxKKcoWQP9lT3V8g

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

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14923931.Marie_LaPres

Blog: https://authormarielapres.blogspot.com/

Thank you so much for this opportunity. I really appreciate it!

Indie Monday

Today’s guest: Andrew Allen Smith

Andrew Smith - Author 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 honored to host Andrew Allen Smith, novelist, short story writer, and poet. Originally from Anderson, Indiana, Andrew currently lives in Michigan. After several successful ventures in IT, research, and business, Andrew has become a prolific and creative author. He is the author of four novels in the Masterson Files series, combining action, adventure, and mystery: Vengeful Son (Book 1, 2016), Sinful Father (Book 2, 2018), Deadly Daughter (Book 3, 2018), and Fateful Friend (Book 4, 2019). A fifth entry in the series is in the works, as well as a number of other books, as Andrew describes below. 

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

DL: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

AAS: My name is Andrew Allen Smith. My quest is to learn, write, and have fun doing everything I do. My favorite color is blue, no red, no blue. Ooops, ahhhhh.

In all seriousness I have always been a storyteller, but as a writer I face something that many writers seem to face, focus. I have a significant number of partially completed books, short stories, novellas, poems, prose pieces, and inspirational items and have to focus to keep from pushing each pebble forward a little and not completing items. I went to college for Computer Science, and do very well with machines. My early goal was to develop AI and work in robotics, but I ended up working in hard core IT, and research. I have written a lot, and I only recently began collating and completing my writings. After huge successes and several business ventures I moved to Michigan in 2015 and was assisted by two friends in finishing my first book, Vengeful Son.

Since then I work, write, and hang out with my wife, two dogs, and cat. My children are all grown up, so it is a relatively peaceful life.

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

AAS: My most recent book is the fourth in the Masterson Files series. Fateful Friend is about a series of unpredictable events that accidently get our antihero, Jonathon Michael Masterson, involved in an attempted assassination. The book and my characters continue to grow and though this book was painful, it was another improvement in the series. I have enjoyed having the characters grow and have a lot invested in this work. It was more difficult because the story grew sideways for a while. It does involve some ancillary characters, but I had created a side story about race that I reduced simply because it was far too complex and did not add to the story.

I am currently working on several items. Book 5 of the Masterson files is complete and edited. I need a cover and have found a few people who are willing to work on it with me. Silent Sister is a pure roller coaster ride. My villain was a huge success with my editor and a beta reader, and my hero for this book was truly a semi-side character until now. Michael is still a major part, but my hero takes on more than he should, and there are several substories about family, trust, and how people sometimes need help and need to ask for that help.

I am also working on Burial Ground, a Young Adult story about a young lady who moves to the country next to an Indian reservation, makes some awesome friends, and is slowly possessed by a deceased Indian chief. It is a labor of love and will be out before the Muskegon Art fair in July (if that ends up happening).

Stealth Ride is about a man who lost his wife to a car accident while he stayed home and took care of his car. The story is existential as it questions the meaning of life, possessions, and relationships. I started this years ago and the story has been stuck in my mind to the last line, I just need to get it completed.

As if that is not all, I am working on Adam, a book about a man who find himself in a unique situation. He is immortal and can save a woman if he just acts, but there are consequences. In this first of the series, Adam tells his story. This book is all written in first person from Adam’s point of view, making it a different approach to my normal style of writing.

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

AAS: I write because I enjoy writing. Each night I dream, and usually it is a new story. As you can guess, I am a bit behind in putting them all down. I love the feeling of words flowing onto paper. The goal of each story is to entertain. It is the best feeling in the world to have someone come up and say, “Where is the next book,” or to tell me how engrossed they got in the story.

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

AAS: Oops, I jumped ahead didn’t I. Usually I am inspired by dreams, but sometimes it can be items or a thought or person. I write each day at an inspirational site and those ideas come from everywhere. From people who say a few words to me to the passions of my life, and other people’s lives. To quote “The Seven Faces of Doctor Lao,” “Every time you pick up a grain of sand you hold a universe in the palm of your hand.”For me, every moment is like a grain of sand, and every moment has a story to tell about the universe.

I had a vivid dream once about death, the most vivid I have ever had, and the concepts and ideas were amazing, and my inspiration worked them out even further. Death as a person, an entity. Yes, it has been done in movies and books, but my dream was different, and the resulting “A Conversation with Death” was fairly unique.

I love getting the ideas out, and then shaping them into a cohesive story. My books grow themselves. I am not out to baffle readers with new words they never wanted to know, I am out to tell a story and, in the process, show my readers something fun, exciting, scary, amazing, horrible, passionate, and even uplifting.

I dislike editing and have had bad experiences with editors. A wonderful young lady, Jenny Bynum, reviewed my first book after it was published and loved the book but pointed out the errors. I spent a considerable amount of the books’ earnings on editors. Each has had their own challenges, and I blame myself each time. I can do perfect at work writing a quality document, but do not do as well editing my own books. I also dislike some of the dealings I have had with reviews. I have had dozens of good reviews, but the company that has my books online (Amazon) often removes those for no apparent reason, so it goes up and down a lot.

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

AAS: In my opinion, touching someone with words is making a difference. In the early 90s, I owned a social network and spoke on television about interacting mind-to-mind. Great writers and good writers are not just throwing words on a page, they are sharing their mind through words and painting a picture that can only be seen in the back of someone’s mind. To me that is amazing. Having someone come up to me and say, “I love Alan, who did you base him on?” and me saying he was created from the back of my mind, gives me a sense of satisfaction.

If you consider it, we are all like Doctor Frankenstein and our characters truly come alive. In my second book, Sinful Father, one of the main characters dies. I cried like a baby writing about a character giving a eulogy about a character I created killed by another character I created that broke the heart of yet another. None of the people existed, but in my mind they did, and the feedback I have gotten from people is similar. No, I will not get rich from writing, well, unless someone says “Oh wow! Read this now,” and I go viral, but I will feel with people as my stories progress.

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

AAS: You can see my inspirational blog daily at www.29000sunsets.com, short stories at www.shortstorysite.com, and books at  https://www.amazon.com/Andrew-Allen-Smith/e/B01KTVUFQS%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share (New site coming soon!)