Authors' Lounge

Connect with Authors:

Damon Marbut   Brook Syers  Jodie Pierce  Alesha Escobar  Engelia McCullough  Sebastian Briglia  Dylan Morgan  Marquita Herald  Edward Petty  Melissa McCarter  David Jester William Bortz Robert Fuller Clive Hindle Alan Phillips JB Stilwell Mark Sasse Clarissa Cartharn Caliph Shaquel Mark Knight John Harper Tim Chante

And Find Cheap Books:

Meet the Drifter, Dabbler, and Inspirational Writer, Tim Chante

So why don't you tell us about yourself... what defines you?

It’s hard to define me, even for me. As soon as I say I’m this or that, it feels redundant, or a lie. I guess basically most would see me as a sort of reject from the UK middle class, who’s had over 25 different and unrelated jobs, lived in numerous places both here and abroad and basically spent a lot of his life drifting and watching what everyone else is up to.

Seems you've been around the block. So how about your writing? 

My writing is intended to be upbeat and inspirational. It feels good to write, so I hope feels good to read. I don’t like writing that creates feelings of pain or fear – real life does that well enough. For me, writing is about helping us connect, not separate.

And what's your fuel? 

Saying things I want to say; showing my insides. It comes in fits and bursts. I don’t plan a story or book; a story tends to grow around something I want to say. In the end, the main reason I write is to hopefully know I’m not alone.

Speaking of not being alone, what advice can you offer to other passionate writers?

Write for yourself. It is an act that’s a bit like open heart surgery. If you can pretend no one else will ever read it, it’s easier.

What has been the biggest bump in the road for you?

Sometimes it can be hard to slow down and really explain or express something. I am more interested in story than description, so tend to underwrite the backgrounds.

Do your characters' struggles usually reflect your own life's?

Very much. Each one represents an aspect of me – although I see parts of me in everyone. But yes, I play out my internal worlds through my writing. I think most writers must do: writing seems to be making the inner world visible, or at least, the most interesting writing is.

Who or what is the source of your inspiration?

Observation. Questions and the previous incorrect answers I’ve temporarily believed.
‘Why’ interests me more than ‘what’, so I write to share, to explore, to free myself (and hopefully others), and to have fun with who and what we are.

Alright... Now give us a delicious morsel that nobody would guess about you! BOOM:

I’ve run over myself, with my own car, and got pinned underneath it.

Well, that's...

Connect with Tim

Kindle US -

Paperback US - 

Kindle UK -

Paperback UK - 

Meet Game Fiction Writer, John Harper   
For those who don't know you... who are you and from where have you come?

My name is John Harper and I hail from Wellington, New Zealand.

Tell us about your work.

I'm writing a novel that is an official tie-in novel for Elite:Dangerous, a computer game being released in March 2014. It's a story about space travel set in 3300 and it involves a race against the clock and a journey of personal discovery. One of the major themes of the work is freedom and history, being bound by your past, and how your past dictates your future.

What fuels your craft?

I've always wanted to be a writer. When I was five years old I stood up before school assembly and read out my 'novelisation' of the movie Short Circuit. It had a wall paper cover and was about ten pages, complete with illustrations by yours truly. From that point on writing has always been a part of my life.

For this project in particular, it comes down to one word: passion. The original game of Elite was something of a life changer for me. I started playing it in 1988 ish as a 6-7 year old. It was so completely different to any other game in history. As a small kid I had my own space ship and complete and unrestricted access to the in-game galaxy. There were no rules. I could do what I want, make money how I wanted, go where I wanted. It was freedom and it was space. My love of space grew from this game. But I also learnt a lot of life lessons from this game. How economies worked, what classical music was, I learnt about velocities and celestial mechanics and fancy words like platinum and alloys and industrial. I played this game to the destruction of my Atari ST, trying to get across the in-game galaxy in one afternoon. Smoke poured from the vents and the game went bye-bye. I played the sequels with equal passion and I've co-written a large (we're talking approaching one millions words) space opera style fan fiction piece for the game. This game is in my blood. And now I'm writing official fiction for the game universe.

What advice can you offer to other passionate writers?

Everyone will have advice for you and it will all conflict. You have to apply a sanity check against every lesson you learn. A better way, in my opinion, is to ignore online advice. Instead find an author and a book that YOU think is written well. Find good sequences in the book and type them out, word for word, line for line. At that level you can actually see how the sentences are pieced together, how long they are, where they pause, where they speed up, and then you can figure out how to emulate their structural greatness.

What do you find to be the best promotional tool?

I think a regularly updated website is your best tool. With a website you can collect a database of email followers and really involve fans in your progress in writing and editing with progress updates and the link. I do a podcast as well where I talk to people in the Elite community and involving them in this is a real hit too.

What has been the biggest bump in the road for you?

The biggest bump was probably coming up with a genius synopsis and getting it black flagged by the developer of the computer game. I basically had to redesign the last half of the story. But it was a blessing in disguise as it made me come up with an even better idea.

Do your characters' struggles usually reflect your own life's?

No, not really, but all my characters have an important relationship with their father, either positive or negative, as being a father this is something of deep personal interest to me. I view myself as a father first above all else and doing a good job at that is paramount to me. I like to explore both directions in my stories.

Who or what is the source of your inspiration?

There are a few authors out there whose work I enjoy and I try to take the good parts of how they do what they do to my own text. But what inspires me? The dream of being a full time novelist, of writing stories that I want to read and have others read them. I guess you could say that Space itself is my inspiration. I used to pour over space books, stare up at the sky, day and night, and just imagine. . .

Alright... Now give us a delicious morsel that nobody would guess about you! BOOM:

I'm a pretty boring person . . . these days. My youth was filled with stupid and sometimes illegal things, but that’s par the course for a teenage male. How about: Once I'm finished this novel I'm going to get back into running and run a full Marathon in May next year.

Connect With John: 

Mark Knight author.jpg
Paranormal Powers: Getting to know Mark Knight

For those who don't know you... who are you and from where have you come?

Well, I grew up in America, living everywhere from California to Boston, son of an Irish father and a British mother who had immigrated to the US shortly before I was born. It was while I was still a young teenager living in Massachusetts that I discovered that I wanted to write, because I loved strange tales, be it science fiction, ghost stories, or horror. I started with short stories, then novels. Of course, those early ones were dire. But I knew I wanted to be a published author one day. Our family moved to Ireland where I finished school and also completed my first novel, a space adventure. In the early 80s I moved to the UK. Since then, I have been writing novels, screenplays, and the occasional short story. Now I concentrate mostly on Young Adult urban fantasy, which I found to be the most fun to write.

Tell us about your book, Blood Family.

Blood Family is a different kind of vampire book. That was always my premise. I wanted to write about vampires, keeping all the tried-and-tested cool elements intact – the vampire’s strength, blood-lust, etc – but adding new elements to the lore, especially to what vampires were, their origins. The theory of other dimensions have always fascinated me. What if, I thought, vampires were interdimensonal creatures that took over the bodies of humans, transforming them and making them into the fanged bloodsuckers we know and love? And what if one of those bloodsuckers then sired a child with a human? That half-vampire child would have quite a life, especially if he knew nothing of his true parentage. Daniel Dark starts off that way, a normal teenager. Then he finds out what he is, and everything changes. That sets him on a quest, and an extremely perilous one, to confront his vampire father and find his birth mother, utilizing his emerging vampire powers along the way.

What fuels your craft?

Really, I just wanted to write a vampire story that would entertain me, that was new and fresh and exciting. I loved vampire tales but always longed to see new elements added, or a fresh approach. I guess I started off by asking myself what if I found out that I was part vampire. What would I do? Would I freak out? Would I keep it quiet? Would I totally go for it and rip up the town, showing off my powers? I knew it would be important to make my main character very normal at the start, so that the reader could relate to that. We then discover his dormant vampire powers as Daniel discovers them. I think that is very important. If we meet Daniel as a powerful vampire right from page one, we can’t really relate. We have to have to meet him, first, the person. Warts and all.

What advice can you offer to other passionate writers?

Do lots of research! I knew nothing of self publishing until I read what actual, successful self-published authors did. Like Lindsay Buroker. She has a podcast series and blog which explains what she did, and what works. I did everything she did, and avoided what she said to avoid. Other than that, don’t give up. Your first ever novel won’t be your opus. You will have to write several. You only find out how to write novels by writing novels. But the process is fun, not a chore. Or it certainly shouldn’t be!

What do you find to be the best promotional tool?

If you write something good, people will love it enough to tell their friends. Social networking if fine, but in the end it is down to good old world of mouth!

What has been the biggest bump in the road for you?

I signed to an agent who then got me a meeting with a publisher. Well, in the end, it didn’t work out. The publisher wanted too many changes made to the heart of my book. Maybe I should have just bitten the bullet and made the changes. It was hard to give that up, but now I am an indie author and it is turning out to be an exciting ride!

Do your characters' struggles usually reflect your own life's?

Yup! I always see myself in my characters; they are all facets of myself, especially the main character. I guess, in a way, you are living vicariously through them. There are things which you fantasize about, powers you would have. But ultimately you end up creating avatars of yourself where you throw obstacles at them and see how they—you—overcome them. It is very therapeutic. Isn’t there some weird theory that says that we are all characters that someone else is writing about? That would explain a lot of the obstacles in our lives!

Who or what is the source of your inspiration?

I do love some of the older authors like Tolkien, John Christopher, and John Wyndham. Something about that older style of writing that really gets to me. And you can’t beat Jules Verne and HG Wells! They were the fathers of wonderfully weird storytelling.

Alright... Now give us a delicious morsel that nobody would guess about you! BOOM:

I have had quite a few paranormal experiences myself in my life. UFO sightings, ghostly presences, weird voices. And I am pretty skeptical – most of the time you can explain stuff away, but there are times when you just can’t. When I was researching Blood Family, I stayed at a 14th century inn located in Devon, which was the basis for the Old Rectory Inn which Daniel stays in. At night, while trying to sleep, I could feel someone close to my bed, moving about. I turned on the light and – no one there. Later I found out that not only was the Inn reputed to be haunted, but my room was the haunted one. If I weren’t so into this subject, I might have freaked. But really I just become intrigued and want to know more!

mark knight book pic.jpgConnect with Mark

Mark's website:

Blood Family website:

Purchase Blood Family:

Meet Vampire Writer JB Stilwell

JB Stilwell's profile photoLet's begin with your life. Who are you outside of writing?

I'm a career mom. I have a job outside of writing and a family - which often makes it difficult to find time to write. My family comes first and unfortunately my second job comes next so I can financially help to support my family. My dream is to be able to write full-time so I can spend more time at home with my daughter.

Now tell us about your latest work.

My debut novel "The Source - A Mountain State Vampire Novel" was released in August 2012. It's a paranormal romance/thriller set in the heart of Appalachia. The story follows Dr. Emma Burcham who takes a research job with the U.S. government to develop a type of weapon to be used for vampire crime prevention. The book takes place after vampires have gone public and are being accepted into U.S. society. Yet there is still the problem of criminal vampires who pose a greater challenge because no human prison can contain them. As the story develops, Emma is forced to question her own beliefs about things as she works closely on the project with another scientist, Dr. Rick Allstedt, who just happens to be a vampire. "The Source" is the first book in a series I'm developing - The Mountain State Vampire Series. I'm currently working on the sequel, entitled "Mining the Dark," which is scheduled to be released Spring 2013.

What drives your writing?

My daydreams inspire my writing. Since I was young my mind would always wander and develop different scenarios and sometimes those scenarios would build upon one another until I had a full story with a distinct beginning and ending. One day I start writing these daydreams down and that's how I got my start as an amateur storyteller.

How would you advise like-minded authors?

My best advice is just write. I spent so many years making excuses or convincing myself that I didn't have time, wasn't good enough or that my ideas were already overplayed by other writers. Where did that get me? Twenty years of time where I could've published but didn't, and I have no one to blame but myself. Regardless of the negative internal dialog, just write! Get your stories out there. You'll be surprised at the people you find who enjoy your work, even if you think others have done it better.

What do you find to be the best promotional tool?

Word of mouth is the best promotional tool. One person sees your work and tells others. Those people see it and tell even more. In the digital age, Twitter is the best vehicle for this. I also use Facebook and my blog on Wordpress. But so far I haven't been able to get the reach in those social media like I have on Twitter.

What do you consider the biggest roadblock?

The biggest roadblock is me. Letting myself listen to any negative internal dialog. That's the biggest way to ruin a career of any sort. Finding ways to turn the volume down on that dialog will open you up to so many possibilities. One of my favorite things to do is when those negative things come to mind, I do the exact opposite of what they're telling me. It's a great way to challenge yourself and there's amazing success to be had in that - in everything you do in life.

Do your characters' struggles usually reflect your own life's?

Sometimes. I like to build my characters based on personality types, but I can definitely see different aspects of my own personality in a couple of the characters. It's always cathartic when one of my characters is confronted with a situation that I can relate to; unfortunately the characters don't always react the way I would. But, that's how I know I'm keeping true to the characters and not writing a story that is just me with different names.

What authors have inspired you?

My biggest inspirations growing up were Mary Shelley and Anne Rice. Today I read various paranormal authors like Charlaine Harris, Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Keri Arthur, P.C. & Kristin Cast, Richelle Mead and my biggest current inspiration, J.R. Ward. To me she is a true author. She transcends storytelling into the realm of literary affect. Her use of simile and metaphor in her writing outshines most authors writing today.

Alright... Now give us a delicious morsel that nobody would guess about you! BOOM:

I met my husband online in 2005, which isn't shocking in this day and age. What makes my story slightly different is that we met online while I was in the U.S. and he was in India. As coincidence would have it, my company asked me to work in India for six months right after he and I had started chatting. And it just so happens that they sent me to a location that relatively close to where he lived. During a weekend trip with coworkers, he and I met face to face and we have been together ever since.

Thanks again for the opportunity!

Connect with JB

"The Source"


Goodreads Profile

Facebook Fan Page

Twitter @JBStilwell

Meet Caliph Shaquel

So let's start with you. How would you describe yourself? 

I would describe myself as a creative writer and a leader. 

Who are you and what drives you, outside of writing? 

I'm driven by teaching others and being a good example for young men who are lost with no direction. Creativity also drives me.

Tell us about your latest book. What's it about and who does it target? 

I just released The Coochie Blizzard in November of 2012, and the book targets women, by informing them of what to look for in a relationship.It also teaches them  how to know the difference between Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now

What inspired this work? 

I was inspired by my daughters difficulties in selecting quality men as teens. I felt it was important to share with all women, the same lessons I had shared with them.

When it comes to writing in general, what fuels you? 

I'm fueled by frustration, the frustration that causes men to hate one another based off of false stories that were told in history. That alone, drives me to write and to write the truth.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors? 

I would tell aspiring authors to learn how to tell a good story in their own words rather than trying to write the next great novel. Being honest to themselves will open the doors to many great opportunities. 

What have you done to promote your work? 

We advertise through social media, newspaper ads, and word of mouth. But right now we are working with book clubs, and radio stations, and we are schedule to do tv interviews this month.

What do you consider the biggest roadblock in the process? 

The biggest road block is developing a viable marketing strategy that will peek the public's interest enough to buy the book.

How closely does your writing reflect your life? 

My writing is very reflective of the way I feel. I make it a point to talk about subject matters that interest me, and I hope that I tell the story well enough that it will interest other people as well.

What authors have inspired your writing? 

Alex Haley, Lerone Bennett Jr, Dr John Henry Clark, and David Walker.

Anything shocking to share? 

All of the stories in my new book The Coochie Blizzard is true, and I had to change the names of people to protect their innocence. 

CoochieBlizzard cover.jpgConnect with Caliph

Meet the Worldly Mark Sasse

So let's start with you. How would you describe yourself? Who are you and what drives you, outside of writing?

Teacher. Dad. Baseball lover. A little eclectic, actually. I have wide interests. I taught ESL in Vietnam for 10 years and then came back to America and taught history. From history I moved into teaching drama and drama writing which brought me full circle to love as an undergraduate – creative writing. Thus, the novel.  I currently teach history and drama in Malaysia with my amazing family (I have three kids.) Life is good!

Tell us about your latest book. What's it about and who does it target?

My novel Beauty Rising directly has arisen from my experiences of living in Vietnam which profoundly impacted my way of thinking and my outlook on life. I wanted to create a Vietnam novel that is not about the war – there a many novels about that. I wanted to put flesh and blood on modern day Vietnam and let people see what an amazing country it is. I wrapped it all around a fascinating story of  Martin, a young man from PA who is tasked by his dying father (a Vietnam vet) to take his ashes and spread them in Vietnam. As he steps out to do this, he has his wallet stolen by the troubled Vietnamese girl My Phuong. This puts both of their lives on an unlikely collision course.

Beauty Rising is a work of general/literary fiction with strong themes of love, family, & redemption. I’d like to believe that anyone who likes a plot-driven story, told at a fast pace with rigidly drawn characters will appreciate it. At least I hope!

When it comes to writing in general, what fuels you?

It really doesn’t take much to fuel my writing. Typically it is one simple idea that randomly pops in my head and I know immediately what I need to do with it. From there, I find that writing is actually more about discovery.  I never know where my stories will take me.  Writing is a type of creative discovery for me. It’s just fun, so I’ve learned to write for myself. If other people enjoy, all the better!

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Just write. That sounds simple, but I went 20 years without heeding my own advice. I had the classic writer’s self-doubt. “I have nothing original to say.” “Somebody else can say it better.” “I’m not good enough.” I’ve come to realize that none of that matters. If you love to write, just write. Use it as your creative outlet and I promise you that if you have the passion to be a writer, you’ll surprise yourself and maybe a few others along the way.

What have you done to promote your work?

We all love promotion, don’t we? Well, I’m going all-in on Beauty Rising because it’s a story I believe in. I’ll be doing some blog tours, guest posts and author interviews on various sites. I’m building up the number of respected bloggers and sites who have agreed to review it. I’ve started doing some targeting advertising which will increase in the coming months. And, of course, word of mouth. I have a wonderful base of readers who have read it already and they have been diligently passing on the word.

What do you consider the biggest roadblock in the process?

I think the biggest roadblock is being an unknown author.  Readers don’t know who Mark W. Sasse is.  Is my book worth it? That’s what I have to prove.  But I’m planning on being in the business for the long haul. That’s why I already finished writing my second novel even though I’m just releasing my first. And the third one is on the way in 2013. Hopefully the wave of quality work over a few year period will build up a loyal following. If not, I’m still having a blast.

How closely does your writing reflect your life?

Beauty Rising is personal in many ways because it reflects a lot of the experiences I had in Vietnam. Even the opening chapter of the novel where Martin’s wallet is stolen is based exactly on a situation that happened to me. So the framework of Vietnam and Martin’s hometown of Lyndora, PA very much reflects my upbringing and experiences. Then I just let my imagination run wild.

What authors have inspired your writing?

I’ve always loved Hemingway. His simple, readable style which is dialogue driven definitely influenced me. I never liked to read long chapters and so my style reflects that. Some people like it. I suppose some don’t, but that’s who I am.

Anything shocking to share?

My life is not so shocking. I like to keep the shocking circumstances and  the unforeseen twists and turns for my plotlines! Lol

Connect with Mark

Beauty Rising link:

Amazon author page:

Author Blog:

Meet Clarissa Cartharn 

Let's start by getting to know you. What's life like outside of your writing?

Outside of writing is basically everyday and regular. Mother and wife duties which would include the common routines that most women in similar roles would likely be carrying through. However, I quite enjoy it and see it as an exciting extension of myself. I humorously call them my alter egos. My real life is the world my characters from my stories live in.

Now what about your work?

Work is what I used to do- my legal career. I have taken a break from that to pursue my passion for writing. Although I do intend to return to it someday as I quite enjoyed that aspect of life as well.

What inspires your writing?

I suppose anything. The thing is I genuinely love to write. So I kind of find inspiration anywhere.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Ultimately the one that can make your dreams to become an author is you, yourself. So keep believing in yourself and never stop dreaming. Dreaming is the essence of creativity.

How do you typically promote?

Connecting with authors through social networking and bloggers.

What do you consider the biggest roadblock?

As an author, my biggest roadblock is writer's block. I hate it when it happens. There is no creativity flow. Nothing and absolutely nothing happens when I suffer from one.  What could be murderous to a writer than killing their creativity? Urgh!!

How much of your life is reflected in your characters?

There is a little of me and my life in each of my characters. I suppose it can't be avoided can it? I mean they both sprout from this one brain that I have. I think it would be terribly difficult to completely sever yourself from the characters that you create. There is bound to be a little of yourself in each of them.

What writers have inspired you?

I don't know if there is any one writer that has inspired me. I am more inspired by their works rather. For example I love Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice. But I find her "Emma" infuriating to read and terribly boring. After so many years, I still am struggling to complete it.

But as a brief scope I would say:

Romance: Pride & Prejudice, Elizabeth Gaskell's North & South

Action/Thriller: Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Identity

Adventure: William Golding's Lord of the Flies

Crime: Franz Kafka's The Trial

Realism: Thomas Hardy's Return of the Native

Horror: Stephen King's The Shining

Fantasy: J.R.R Tolkien's The Hobbit

Meet the man of many stories, Alan Phillips

Alright, so we're gonna get personal here. Tell the awesome viewers of this blog what you're all about.

First let me say that I hate talking about myself and so this question has sent my heart rate soaring and at my age, 75, that could be a problem. A truthful description would be that I am a loner. I am single and always have been, I don't have a wide circle of friends but those I do have I tend to hang on to them for grim death. Most I have known for over fifty years, one guy I met in the RAF before he was married so I have known him longer than his wife, but not as well! Judi was lodging with my grandmother when I met her, she was eighteen – I was around twenty-seven – although she now lives in Switzerland we still keep in touch. Other friends are all ex work colleagues and as I retired twenty-two years ago, you can see I have known them for quite a time too.

I have always travelled a lot and from 1960 after I was demobbed from the Royal Air Force, I have been abroad every year for at least one holiday usually on my own as the friends I did have were too busy getting married and raising their families. I liked the idea of exploring the places I visited and so would always venture into the parts of town where the tourists avoided. I remember in the early sixties I was staying in Cascais in Portugal and one evening I ventured into a downstairs bar to discover Fado being sung. The bar had nearly all local people who joined in with the sometime dismal tunes and I sat enthralled at the bar with a bottle of green wine, something I had never heard of at the time.

My other passion is the theatre. From the tender age of about fifteen I used to go to the West End on a Saturday night and buy a ticket, at the best seat I could afford, to any musical that was showing. I remember seeing Lional Bart's Blitz which was the first show to have revolving sets I believe, to watch the scenes change like that instead of the curtain being lowered and the actors continuing the story was amazing. To see such shows as The Pyjama Game and South Pacific, Hello Dolly, often with the original Broadway cast was very thrilling to a shy fifteen/sixteen year old. I remember later what I was in the Royal Air Force travelling back to the West End to see West Side Story, the musical that changed it all. It was also plays for example Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Death of a Salesman along with some of Steinbeck's work, that started me reading the more classic works. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway.

Now, onto your books...

I have three other books on the go. Fruits of War is the nearest ready to be published. It is centred around a 27year old Zanda Petrakis gay soldier, all my books have gay or bisexual characters in them. The action takes place in the Balkans War 1995. Captain Petrakis is leading a patrol for the UN in Bosnia. His task is to keep the fragile peace between the Serbian Nationalists and the Muslim minority. He leaves his men to search a farm that appears deserted and runs into an Army patrol looking for escaped Muslims. He hides and manages to keep himself hidden allowing the Serbs to return to their camp. While returning to his own base Zanda runs into five young boys aged between 7 and 17. Muslims. He knows that if they are caught by the Serbs they will be shot. It leaves him no alternative but to fire a warning shot towards the Serbs hoping that the boys would take flight and disappear from the area. His shot ricochets and kills a Serb soldier. The chaos that follows leaves Zanda running for his life, hoping that the boys were too. Norvak, the eldest brother was looking for an Army camp that was not Nationalist. He found it and found Zanda.

Zanda and his corporal escort the boys to the headquarters in Sarajevo to be transferred to a refugee camp. They all become very close and when they are stopped by a Bosnian petrol Norvak warns Zanda that he was told to leave the area as soon as possible as there was something planned, he did not no exactly what. When Zanda returns to normal duty he is on patrol and is called to a bar by the Bosnian owner to quell a riot that is going on between the Serbs and the Bosnians. It is the same soldiers that Zanda ran into in the forest. He is recognised by one of the men who'd been chasing him and he tells his leader. Shots are fired and the Serbian leader is dead. Zanda charged and stands at a court martial, he is quickly found guilty and dishonourably discharged. Proclaiming self defence Zanda is bitter.

Returning to England he realises that he must find work and somewhere to live. As a temporary basis he books into a hotel off Oxford Street. A waiter, Havel, is Bosnian. Zanda has a lot on his mind and goes into a bar for a quiet drink to think. He is suddenly accosted by a man who knows his name. Convinced he is not one of Zanda's one night stands he accepts the man's card which has only a name C.R. Parker and a phone number.

From that not so casual meeting Zanda finds himself back working for the establishment and is cleared with his record expunged. He asks about the Bosnian family he took to the refugee camp and is told that he is to help them find their uncle a young man who left home to come to England earlier. It is for Zanda to find out if there is any underlying tendency of terrorism in the Muslim community. He uncovers a plot of a suicide bomber in a town in the North and traces routes to madrassah's in Pakistan. With the help of Norvak he rescues Illia, Norvak's uncle, from the clutches of the radical clerics and stops the suicide plot before he takes Illia back to London for interrogation. Norvak works with Zanda on a trip back to Bosnia and meets his childhood sweetheart. He refuses to leave unless she can live in England too. C. R. Parker pulls some strings and Norvak marries his girlfriend to enable her to remain in the country.

The other two books that are near completion are Destiny Awaits Everyman which is about a serial killer in Spain and London who attacks an Advertising Exec in his holiday villa. Drug smuggling and a secret from the past connect Luke Gardener and Drew Holden to the killer and the police.

Fallen Hero is another book about the Belmont Brothers. After Porky is imprisoned Charles Hamilton is employed to take over the front man for the Belmonts, but Charles is not all he seems as Frankie the Greek and Charlie Fitzpatrick discover. An abduction of four yuppies goes wrong with Charles losing control. The four guys are all well connected to the aristocracy. Set more in Soho than Hackney the underbelly of crime is rife. 

In each case my books are targeted at the modern reader who is prepared to accept that there is a gay community and that life and language is not always pure and untainted. I see the holiday reader enjoying them as they are not to profound. I try to write in an easy style concentrating on the characters making them real people with real problems.

What inspired this work? 

The Fruits of War, I think, was that I wanted to show that injustice whether real or imagined could cause dreadful consequences. Illia was converted into a radical Muslim by clerics who had blind faith in their religion. And yet we could see that in the case of Raj and the more moderate of the faith there approach was different. The boys from London were all grateful to be away from the fighting and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and wanted to live in England. The problem with British Muslim young men is their lack of identity and work caused by their mixed upbringing.

When it comes to writing in general, what fuels you? 

I like to keep my mind working, it is so easy in old age to get up go down the pub every day and talk to the same people all the time without analysing or forming an opinion about anything.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Don't take any notice of me!! If I had to be serious, read the papers, listen to the news and take note of what's going on around you and then write about it. Develop you characters to fit those situations. We've all heard of muggings, murders, financial fraud, extreme weather conditions, sexual scandals.

What have you done to promote your work? 

Nothing. I'm afraid marketing and promotion is not my field. I don't have the knowledge of the confidence as to where to start.

What do you consider the biggest roadblock to the process? 

If you mean writing, it's getting started. Once you have a chapter or two on paper, or a screen, re read it and see where it can be improved. If you mean in selling your book, it has to be the closed shop of the traditional publishers and book sellers. Literary agents and publishers glibly advertise for new authors and manuscripts and yet reject it seems out of hand anything that is sent to them, unless you are a ten year old who has come second in a reality show!

How closely does your writing reflect your life? 

That is the question, I remember seeing an interview with Dirk Bogarde, asked a pointed question about his life he replied read my books. You will find everything you want to know there if you read it properly. I think that applies to me. I've always been gay but I don't think that is the business of anybody else. Ryan Lucas life in The Second Phase shows my interest in theatre, the villa is Spain in Destiny Awaits Everyman could be mine. The service background of Zanda of Charles Hamilton could reflect my experience in the RAF.

What authors have inspired your writing? 

The first books I remember reading as a child were the Five books by Enid Blyton so I suppose she must take some credit. I tend to like authors who write clearly and develop their characters making them believable and who can tell a story an author who I think does that is Jeffrey Archer. A classic example of writing about what you know; Prisoner Diaries, a bad time in his life I'm sure that he utilised.

Anything shocking to share? 

I thought long and hard about that and all the things I can think of that might blow your socks off I am not prepared to share!!

Meet the laws and lessons of Clive Hindle

So let's start with you. How would you describe yourself? Who are you and what drives you, outside of writing?

In professional and work terms I am a solicitor with a broad base of work from human rights to commercial. I used to be Crown Counsel with the Hong Kong Government. I have my hands full with my own law firm. I have done some cutting edge cases in my time and the day job informs and colours a lot of my literary work. The job has also brought me into conflict from time to time with authority and makes me question hierarchy and the exercise and even the concept of power. I believe that the desire to write first came to me in my teens. When I was at university I intended to become a poet because of the influence of Basil Bunting.

I became a prose writer in my 20's and I had some some ideas for complicated plots but in those days they were too complicated to bring to to a proper conclusion. I still have those original books and I want to go back to them. I still have this tendency to start a book as if blowing on hot coals and then seeing how the flames dance. They don't always move as I intend and can take on a life of their own. I am perhaps more disciplined now and can handle this process.

Tell us about your latest books. What are they about and who do they target?

I have a number of books as yet unpublished. I have three published, The Lawyer’s Tale, The Eighth Square (both about a fictional North East lawyer called Jack Lauder) and a third which is called Dark Side Crossing and is best described as a rites of passage book.

My books usually contain more than one plot - usually three but they are not necessarily equal. One of them will come to me more or less as the Lord's day will come and then the others will almost naturally, almost automatically, thread in.

The Eighth Square appears as a crime thriller seen from a lawyer's perspective but is also a psychological thriller, an adventure story and a romance rolled into one.

What inspired this work?

Life generally and experience.

When it comes to writing in general, what fuels you?

I usually get some form of inspiration for the work in question. It just happens and when it odes you need the energy to see it through.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

I am not sure I am qualified to give advice but I would say that the most important thing to do is write because you want to and not necessarily with any other end in mind.

What have you done to promote your work?

Not a great deal I am afraid. It is one area in which I am distinctly deficient.

What do you consider the biggest roadblock in the process?

Getting someone to read your work in a more than casual way. Too many publishers are looking for the quick fix, the next best seller and don’t really have any breadth to their portfolio. They tend to go for the tried and tested rather than branch out.

How closely does your writing reflect your life?

Pretty much.

What authors have inspired your writing?

Of prose writers, Austen, Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Alain-Fournier, John Fowles, W.G Sebald, Cormac McCarthy, Roberto Bolano. Of poets Chaucer, Shakespeare, the KJB, Emily Dickinson, Ezra Pound, Robert Frost, Stevie Smith.

Anything shocking to share?

I tend to keep these for the books. I remember being on the last Air Siam flight into Bangkok and being told we had to divert into war-torn Cambodia , not a great place for a Westerner then. I was kidnapped once in Lithuania . Rockfall the size of houses coming at me on the Eiger. Flying a plane in a gathering storm over the North Sea when all the instruments went down. Taking on the RAF in Cessna aerobats over Loch Ness. Life is a series of snapshots.

Connect with Clive 

Dark Side Crossing:

  Meet Robert and the Daughter of the Dragon

Let's start by getting to know you. 

What's life like outside of your writing? 

I’m equally obsessed with music and movies. I take one day a week and see up to 2 or 3 movies in a day. My personal best is 5 movies in a single day. When it comes to music, I listen to just about everything. On my Facebook page I call Wednesday’s, my new music day by listing some of the music I’m enjoying at that time. My wife of 12 years is extremely patient with my compulsions. My 23 year old son does his best to keep me on my toes, as do my 2 feline writing companions.

What inspires your writing?

Having spent years writing and re-writing my first book, I’d say my inspiration is real life. Even though it includes vampires and witches, it is still grounded in real life. At the beginning of the process, I asked myself…what would someone do if they were confronted with the reality that vampires were real? I went back to my youth and my love of old horror films to recreate the fearsome vampires of another era and simply placed them within aspects of my own life.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Keep writing and don’t give up. I tried for 5 years to solicit my manuscript to agents and publishers with no interest. I kept writing; mostly to keep my sanity, but in the end I decided to self-publish. I found a great publisher who went out of their way to assist me in bringing out the best book I could write. I kept writing and believing that I had a story to tell. Tell your story, tell it well, and your reward may be to simply see your name in print, but it’s still a reward.

How do you typically promote?

Writing is the easy part of being an author. As an author, you have control. You decide who lives, who dies, whether the hero gets the girl, or the villain takes over the world. In promotion and marketing, the power shifts, and you as the author, have little to no control. Writing is like tossing a pebble in a lake. The more ripples, the more interest. For me, I did advance work on social media, and my website, to promote and wet some appetites. I’m still waiting for book events and mass media interest, but being featured on blogs such as yours, has been the best way to get my name out there.

What do you consider the biggest roadblock?

There’s an adage in publishing that states, “In a year, more people get struck by lightning than get their debut books published, and people are actually trying to get published.” In a down economy and the problems within the print medium, too many publishing houses are less willing to take chances on new authors. When we turn to self-publishing, we’re hit with the stigma that we paid to get our books published, so the quality must be poor. The decidedly nasty catch twenty two is to get published by a major house, you have to have an agent, but to secure an agent; you have to be published by a major house.

How much of your life is reflected in your characters?

My main character in “Valerie” suffers from self-esteem issues and isn’t quite sure of how she fits in society. By all accounts, she’s successful, has someone in her life that loves her, and maintains a wide circle of friends, but something gnaws at her that she’s not deserving of all of those things. That’s me in a nutshell. My vampire represents sexuality, adventure, and self-confidence and yet, my main character holds back because she’s afraid of those things.

What writers have inspired you?

Stephen King is my biggest inspiration. His books require the reader to become invested in them. You simply can’t pick up, The Cell or Lisey’s Story and breeze through them in an afternoon. You read his books to immerse yourself in the world he’s created. On the opposite end of the spectrum, my other inspiration is James Patterson. His books are breezy weekend reads that are merely entertaining. They contain short chapters that are quickly devoured. For “Valerie” I crafted a 700 page epic, but filled it with enough action and twists, that it moves along briskly.

Alright... Hit us with something crazy!

I’m not sure how crazy this is, but it was the first time my writing was ever recognized by an outside organization. I went to an inner-city school system in the mid-80’s. Michael Jackson had just broken through the MTV barrier, and caused a stir by appearing on an awards show with Brooke Shields, so the country wasn’t as progressive as it is now. As a school project, our social studies class was assigned to write a paper about the struggles of slavery in America. I took to the project wholeheartedly and wrote a 2 page report. After I turned it in, I thought nothing more about it. A month later, I received an invitation to The Akron Urban League’s Black History Festival. My paper had won first place. I remember standing at the front of the hall, being one of only a handful of white people in attendance, and having my paper read to those gathered. After it was read, the room exploded into cheers, not a standing ovation, but cheers. Here I was, a scrawny white kid with glasses, being praised by a roomful of African-American city leaders and dignitaries. I still proudly display that trophy, as a testament that you never know what you can achieve and who you can touch with your words. 

Connect with Robert

Twitter: @RFullerAuthor

Get to know the up-and-coming William Bortz

Why don't we start by getting chummy. Tell us what you do when you aren't writing.

Well I love music. I love everything about it! I also play guitar and work with my roommate on songs and write together. Living in Iowa makes being outside all the time pretty difficult, especially this time of year, but I love the outdoors. I love hiking, adventuring, camping, anything to do with being outside. I love traveling as well, I’ve been a lot of places and just love the unfamiliar sense about being somewhere you’ve never been. A couple of my friends and myself are also working on starting up a radio station, which we will broadcast starting next month. I really just like doing everything, I’m young so I want to take advantage of that.

What fuels your desire/need to write?

I have been writing for a long time, since I was in second grade I
think. I used to make comic books, like a series. You could say it was
Captain Underpants fan fiction. So that writing bug has always been
there, it has just evolved a lot since then. As I aged I noticed the
tone of my writing change too, which is probably super normal, but it
continues to change, and pretty quickly. A lot of events in my life
have pinpointed a change in the writing, which is the leading
inspiration behind my writing for that time, and from then on out.
It’s natural, and it’s nice. When I was writing my first book that’s
when I kind of felt like I was meant to be a writer. I remember being
at work, or driving, or sleeping, and my mind was always in the state
it would be in while writing. It almost felt like a curse, especially
being so young. It took a while before I really adapted to that. I
didn’t do the best job answering that question, but I think it’s hard
to describe why you need or need to do something, it’s just natural
and beyond words.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

I don’t have like the holy grail of advice, but if there’s one thing I
know for certain it’s that no matter what you write, or how you write,
just write what you love. You can’t force writing, well you can, but
it will lack heart, and that’s the main reason why people read. To
feel. Also, don’t ever doubt your ability to write, because everyone
has a story.

How do you like to promote?

The transition from writing books to promoting them is a difficult
one. It took me a while to get into a groove of promoting, but it was
easy to tell what worked for me and what didn’t. It’s just like
writing, you have your niche, and you stick to it. Same goes for
promoting. Stick to what works for you, and it may take a while to
figure that out, but once you do it’s like striking gold. The ways I
find work the best for me is promoting myself before my books. Selling
poetry is difficult, to let’s say a novel, in a novel you sell the
characters and story and have all those elements to back you up, but
with poetry it’s all personal, it’s all you. So it’s a different
environment of promoting.

What do you consider the most daunting part of this whole
writing/publishing game?

The thing that was the hardest for me in the beginning was defining
what success meant for me. Looking around and watching out author’s
get reviews and all those other things that author’s live for made it
seem like that bar for success was super high. When my first book
‘These Ties’ came out that was the hardest thing for me to get over. I
was new to the publishing world so I didn’t have my own defined sense
of “success”, so I looked at everyone else’s, which only made my work
feel worthless. It was difficult to find the value of my words and
stories, very hard. After awhile I learned that success is
personal-that was probably the best lesson I have ever learned.
Success isn’t defined in reviews and dollar signs. For me it was
knowing that my work meant something to somebody. When anybody would
say something to me about my writing, anything, that it touched them
or made them think it meant the world to me. Even now when people say
something it brings a little tear to my eye. It’s crazy, really. It
almost makes me embarrassed thinking back sitting at my computer being
frustrated about my sales and focusing on that, and ever since I
realized what success was to me, and knowing that I Reached that point
it brought in sales. People saw that, and that was the hardest and
most frustrating thing I have done.

How much of your life is reflected in your characters?

All of it. All the stories about people or experience is completely
personal, or in some cases indirectly personal. Writing poetry and
short stories there isn’t a lot of room to define a character, unless
you make it, but I don’t aim to establish characters, but lessons and
moments, and those are all based off of real life people.

What authors keep you focused and driven?

There are a few! One of my favorite authors is John Green. I love the
way he writes; it’s effortless, flawless. The moments and people he
creates are impossible not to fall in love with. Every time I finish
one of his books I fall into this week long slump knowing that it’s
over, which usually leads to me rereading it a few months later. Also,
being apart of the indie writer community is amazing. Everyone aims to
help each other and stay positive. That’s so inspiring. Some of the
authors I have met through promoting or just chatting helped me out a

Alright... Now hit us with something nobody knows!

Hmmmmm. Well I really love tattoos. In fact, I have around 30 of them.
I got my first one when I was 14 in my good friend’s apartment with a
gun made from a remote control car, a cassette player, and a needle. A
lot of the tattoos are music related. I have a few animals, a flower,
and even a piece by Picasso, which covers my entire back.

Step Into the Mind of David Jester

So let's start with you. How would you describe yourself? Who are you and what drives you, outside of writing?

I’m quiet, calm, relaxed. I keep myself to myself. I live with my long-term fiancee in Northumberland, UK and spend most of my time writing. I’m 27 and have been writing for nearly ten years now. I was lucky enough to have the first thing I ever wrote (a short story) published and was inspired to carry on since then. 

Tell us about your latest book. What's it about and who does it target?

The Line, the Itch and the Rabbit Hole is a memoir of my experiences growing up with Tourette Syndrome and Borderline Personality Disorder. It also chronicles my time with drug & alcohol addiction and a number of other ‘events’. I know there is an audience out there who can relate to the experiences, but the reality is that I just want to the book to entertain.

It’s not a one-off book. I’m a writer by trade and have been writing for ten years now. I wrote the book so that anyone, whether they typically read memoirs or not, (I don’t) could pick it up and enjoy it.

What inspired this work?

I started writing it just a year or two after the diagnosis of Tourette’s. At the time I was withdrawing from Valium after being hooked on the stuff for 8 years. I guess I was in a retrospective mood...

When it comes to writing in general, what fuels you?

Silence. If I can find a few moments of it and force myself into the correct mindset, then I can normally get a couple of thousand words done in just over an hour. I also read a lot and always have done, it helps.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Give KDP a try. If you’ve been stuck trying to get agents/publishers to read your work and are fed-up with the fact that it takes them 4 months just to send you a form rejection letter, then try to do it yourself. I’ve had a couple of agents contact me since “The Line, the Itch and the Rabbit Hole” was published. One of them rejected it three times before it was published (I was persistent) and then actually requested a copy after seeing the book on Amazon. A sure sign that most of them pay little to no attention to an author unless they have a presence online.

What have you done to promote your work?

Let me see… I’ve created Facebook accounts and Twitter accounts. I’ve joined Book Blogs, Shelfari, WLC and Goodreads. I started a blog. I wrote a number of press releases. I’ve contacted mental health charities, forums, FB groups and communities. I made a few guest blog posts. I’ve tweeted, emailed, PM’d and DM’d newspapers and news sites. And a number of other things that escape me at this time. I’m also about to start a blog tour in the next few days. It never ends.

What do you consider the biggest roadblock in the process?

For me the biggest roadblock in the writing process is procrastination. When there’s no one pressuring you to work and you only have your own -- sometimes idle -- concentration to motivate you, it’s easy to slip. The roadblock for this book in particular was an experience with Dystonia which, quite frankly, scares the shit out of me to this day. That wasn’t an easy memory to relive.

How closely does your writing reflect your life?

It usually doesn’t. Obviously it did with this memoir (although I’m a completely different person now compared to the one chronicled in the book) but my other work is a far cry from my own life. I like to put a bit of myself into each of the characters -- a cynical or a stupid side that I don’t let anyone see -- but usually they aren’t like me and don’t lead lives anything like my own. I guess you could call it escapism, but the truth is my life is no longer exciting enough to warrant filling the pages of a book.

What authors have inspired your writing?

My three favorite writers write in three completely different genres: Philip K. Dick, Terry Pratchett and Stephen King, and they have all influenced me in their own ways. I think my writing style mirrors Philip K. Dick, whilst I get my twisted intrigue from Stephen King and my sense of humor from Terry Pratchett.

Anything shocking to share?

There’s plenty of it in the book, trust me! There are many more shocking stories that I didn’t put in the book as well, some were edited out to save on space; some were just too strange to ever think about putting in, and some completely escaped my mind until I had completed the Manuscript. Maybe I’ll share them one day. 

Connect with David

Get to Know the Awakened Damon Marbut

Let's start with you. Tell us about the 'real-world,' it's pits, it's pinnacles, and how you fit in.

The "real world," on a personal note, took a drastically different form after I completed graduate school. Going in to college, I worked two, sometimes three jobs and expected to no easy ride during school or after, but I also was in school when the economy was strong and working hard, paying your dues, etc. was sure to lead to a career-track job. After finishing my Master's program, I didn't want to leave school, because I dared to study what I loved with no real fear of my (minimal) charisma and analytic wits being next to useless during and following the tech boom. I couldn't compete with CIS majors when all I knew was how to use MS Word, so I went back to school for Psychology and then burned out. The benefit of this, and I choose to see it as a benefit now, is that it forced me to do what I was best at doing, and what I was going to do anyway: write. The experiences from that realization to this point in my life have taught me that as far as I've always perceived my own intellectual integrity, I think I kept it in one piece because, in the end, I actually did study what I loved and capitalized on my strongest abilities to do the work I'm meant to do.

And what about your books? What does it mean to you to be "awake"?

The word "awake," as far as the title Awake in the Mad World goes, certainly serves to illuminate the required clarity, or search for clarity, in a world determined to define itself for the individual if the person isn't daring enough to ask questions, challenge reason, dream, create, and so on. It implies the boldness to engage in your own life instead of accepting what's given you. 

What words of wisdom do you offer to our generation? To the post-college youngins?

Diversify your academic credentials, learn as much as you can about as much subject matter that both applies to the world you'll enter after graduation, but also, that's important and interesting to you on a personal level. And DON'T live by your devices. Get out and breathe some fresh air, laugh often and loudly. Leave the phones and tablets and laptops at home.

How about your creative process? What keeps the juices flowing?

Studying human behavior. People fascinate me more than any book I can discover. I love the impression of a novel I can revisit, dog-ear, scribble in, etc. But a facial expression, a laugh, an argument--sometimes witnessing that in a blur might be the only time you get to see it. So, people. Certainly.

What's the worst part of writing?

Everything I allow myself to think in the middle of it that prevents something pure to sneak through to the page. Authors compete against themselves, mostly. Same with me. But sometimes, if you let your imagination turn to what others might think of what you're doing during a particular segment of the book, you're writing with fear and/or anxiety, and the work suffers. I'm not as bad about this as I once was. Seems I do better work now when I set deadlines for myself. And I NEVER was like that until Awake in the Mad World started getting attention. Now I've got two other fiction books at presses for review, plus a collection of poems at five different places, and I'm over halfway through this New Orleans books. I barely recognize myself these days.

What do you find to be the most useful way to self-promote?

Online is easiest, of course, so joining online writing communities and networking like that can be good. But NOTHING, in my opinion, beats starting with local bookstores, contacting old college colleagues, local magazines, etc. and going from there. If you don't currently live in your hometown, use your new location and your hometown as starting points. The more personal the contact, I think, the more lasting the relationship, which is ideal for a writing career.

Give one piece of advice for aspiring authors.

Trust in your own ability to succeed based on how you personally define success.

What process did you take for seeking publishers?

I sent out query letters by direct mail, a few emails. I approached a couple of small, reputable presses. Awake in the Mad World is unique in structure, as are the characters. And so after a while I took the advice of a few professor friends across the country and worked with a friend in Austin, Texas to release it myself.

Now to other authors. Who has had the most influence on you?

Salinger, Baldwin, Kerouac, Marquez, Morrison.

And last but not least... hit us with something crazy/shocking/utterly unique about you.

Without my work, I'm just a fairly nice guy who likes to laugh a lot. I'm honestly so boring, in my opinion, that I hide behind my work. I suppose what's unique about me is that I haven't given up on what I'm doing, even though it's been ten years of fighting to get to this moment where I'm talking about my work with good people like you. Cheers!

Connect with Damon 

Facebook Author Page:
Amazon Author Page:
Twitter: @dfmnola

Get to know the Multi-Talented Melissa McCarter

So tell us about yourself. Your triumphs, your struggles, your day-to-day happenings.

My name is Melissa Miles McCarter and I am an author, editor, publisher and academic. My triumphs include getting a doctorate in rhetoric and composition, publishing two books, a memoir and a novel, and starting a small press, Fat Daddy's Farm. Having bipolar disorder, which I write about in my memoir, Insanity: A Love Story, means I have particular challenges. I have to make sure I get enough sleep, monitor my moods, and have some sort of daily structure, even if it is self-imposed. I also struggle with medication management, including side effects and going to the doctor frequently. I also must deal with the stigma with mental illness, however, coming out with a mental illness has made this less of a daunting experience. For the last few years while I have been writing my dissertation, I have struggled with how to balance my desire to write and publish with my other professional goals. In some ways, my academic and creative sides complement each other, using two different sides of my brain. For the last few years, my day to day happenings have consisted of writing my dissertation and editing an anthology on motherhood and loss, Joy, Interrupted. (This anthology is a way to deal with another challenge I have had in life, having lost my infant daughter to SIDS about ten years ago, and dealing with secondary infertility.) Now that I am done with my dissertation, I look forward to having more day to day time editing and publishing non-academic works.

Now tell us about your book.

My book, Insanity: A Love story, chronicles my first experience in a mental hospital, when I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It is a memoir, but also has certain essay and fiction aspects. It examines, in particular, the fine line between sanity and sanity. In 1998, I struggled with symptoms of depression after graduating from college and having a series of failed relationships. To cope with these challenges, I was prescribed Paxil, an antidepressant. I was consequently launched into my first mania-induced psychotic break. I was hospitalized, which revealed the underlying mood disorder of bipolar...I had unknowingly struggled with this disorder my whole life. My memoir is representative of a series of mental health narratives, including Girl, Interrupted, I never promised you a rose garden, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's nest. I ask my readers who haven't been in a mental hospital to be willing to "cross over" into a world that doesn't always make sense. With those who have had similar experiences as mine, I hope my book helps validate their own struggles and challenges to hold onto reality, no matter how painful or disorienting it might seem.

What inspired you to finally express your experiences in this way? 

The stigma of being mentally ill was one of the biggest challenges to writing this memoir. It took a number of years to be able to process the experience of my diagnosis. I felt I needed to share my story, partly to overcome the feeling I had to hide my disorder, but also because I thought it was an important story to tell.

Dealing with the creative process, what's your least favorite part?

Accepting the moments when I couldn't express myself exactly how I wanted to. One way I did this was in revising. I had to be willing to see my experiences in a different light, in order to find ways to reveal aspects of my self and my experiences that I didn't first realize were there.

And the best part?

When I was actually "in the groove", and when I had finished the book and realized, I'm a pretty good writer. It was so good to feel like I have accomplished something important, even if it was just important to me.

How do you normally promote? What is your opinion of Amazon?

I promote through social media mostly. I also use my small press as an extended way to promote my memoir, trying to build a brand and promote our growing catalog. I like publishing with Amazon, although I know some people have criticisms about doing so. I like how my work is read by people all over the world, which I think is greatly facilitated by Amazon.

What words of advice can you offer aspiring authors?

To be patient, but to get in a habit of writing. What I mean by being patient is to accept that you won't always make sense or have something exactly the way you want on first go around, and that writing is a growing process, which develops slowly and in fits and spurts. I encourage writers getting in a habit of writing...the more you do it, the more you want to do it, and the easier the process becomes. I suggest writing in journals, blogs, letters, anything to "keep the juices flowing."

Do you have any particular life mantras?

That we are co-creators in our realities, that our dreams manifest destinies, and that the tragedies in our life don't define us, but do provide the building blocks for our characters.

How about your favorite authors? Who's inspired you?

My favorite writer is Madeleine L'Engle, who I named my daughter after. Many people think I am referring to L'Engle's children books, like a Wrinkle in Time. These books are some of my favorites growing up, but I particularly like her memoirs. I am also inspired by the work of Anne Tyler, Orson Scott Card and Ayn Rand. All three are so great at characterization, and being a deeply psychologically oriented writer, this is important to me.

Alright, now hit us with something stunning:

Here are two very different excerpts from my memoir, Insanity: A Love Story

"Delusions, I have come to believe, are part fantasy, part emotional release, and part how we get through the day. It would be impossible to function without some element of delusional beliefs. Knowledge is so uncertain; to know anything means having a particular amount of faith in the validity of one's perceptions and in order to navigate life itself. We don’t know when we will die, we don’t know what meaning our lives and choices have, and we don’t know how much control we really have over our destiny. Happiness and hopefulness can be fleeting and unreal as any delusional framework. "

"So little actually occurs in a mental hospital. Not only is the energy level of people on medication low, any drama to be created has to come from within me. The craziness and insanity of the other patients is so normalized, it will take a lot to surprise me. My interest threshold is low in such an environment, and other people’s delusions and emotional outbursts can only entertain me so much. The nurses lead me through to a room, where a “nice woman” is staying, according to one nurse. I huddle in my bed, listening to the woman snore. In the morning, I discover this noise comes from blind woman who says she was in a near fatal truck accident. She is crippled, her body covered in scars from the fire caused by the accident. She has spent months recovering on the medical side of the hospital. She is now recuperating emotionally in the mental ward. I have been so sheltered in my lifetime; except when watching the news on television, I have never seen someone who has been so physically damaged by an event in life. I feel incredible sympathetic to this woman, and she proceeds to be sweet to me. I make her out to be a saint in my mind, which is not fair to her. But I can’t help equating tragedy with virtue in another human being. Just like with the Biblical slogans my aunt put all over my parents’ house, I wonder how rooming with this woman will help me get sane. The sight of her maimed body and her sightless self maneuvering throughout the room and hallways makes me shudder. I get to know her, and she asks me to rub lotion on her hands and feet—the only unburned or un-scarred parts of her body. I do, feeling like I am doing a good deed. The tide turns. I am always writing in my journal at this point and she gets a hold of it and asks me what it is. I tell her it is about being in the hospital and she asks me if I am writing about her, which I haven't. I want to respect her privacy. She can't read it to see if I am telling the truth, and she makes it clear she doesn't believe me. One day, I discover my journal is missing. Another patient told me my roommate had stolen it and was passing it around, showing people what I wrote. I feel violated, and ask the woman about it. She denies it. The next day, the journal appears on my bed. I try to forgive her and feel resentful about putting lotion on her feet."

Connect with Melissa

My book on Amazon --
My book on Smashwords -- 
Press blog --

Get to know Brook Syers and the "eSitcom"

Alright, so tell us a little about yourself.

I've been married to my beautiful wife (Julie) for 13 years and we have a very sassy son who just turned five.  I've always loved numbers and work as a CPA/Audit Manager for a local government municipality in Houston, Texas.  I have a wicked sense of humor that permeates throughout my books and blog posts.  I love to make others laugh and have a good time.  I don't take life too seriously.  We're here for such a short time, we might as well have some fun.  

What are you currently working on?

My latest work is what I've coined an "eSitcom," which is basically like a TV sitcom in ebook format.  I call it The All-American Family and  try and release a new episode each month.  It follows the typical American family and all the crazy things that happen to them.  You can purchase the first episode here:  They're only 99 cents each and guaranteed to make you laugh or you get your money back.  Actually, that's not true.  I'm keeping the 99 cents, but you will laugh.

What inspired this concept?

I'm a huge fan of Modern Family and thought; "Why couldn't this concept work in ebook format?"  Then I challenged myself to make it as funny as possible.  In Episode 1, the parents decide to drag the family to Facebook therapy with some unexpected results.  Subsequent episodes deal with sexless marriages, Twilight obsessions, and senior citizens trying to use technology.     

What's the worst part of the creative process?

Every once in a while I get writer's block.  I usually take a week off and start back at it again.  The creative process is hard, there's no way around it.  

And the best part?

The best part is when someone writes me a favorable review or sends me an encouraging note.  It brightens up my entire day.

How do you typically promote yourself?

I do a combination of the Kindle Select program and author interviews.  Occasionally I buy ads on some of the indie writer sites.  Word-of-mouth is usually the best form of marketing.  I like Amazon a lot, they've really made it easy for indie writers to publish.  They've disrupted the entire publishing industry.  If they ran the country, I think we'd be much better off.  

What advice do you offer to all those aspiring authors out there?

Focus on the writing.  You can get so caught up in the marketing and promotions.  If you concentrate on creating the best product, the sales will come. 

How closely does your writing reflect your life?

I wouldn't say it is a mirror of my life, but it's pretty close.  As a writer, your experiences definitely show up in your writing in one form or another.  It's inevitable.  What's funny is when your friends and family confront you and demand to know if characters in your books are based on them.  I always say; "Yes, you're on page 173."  It takes them a while to realize that ebooks don't have page numbers.  

Who has had the most influence on you?

Sitcom writers have had more influence on me.  The writers of Modern Family in particular.  It's amazing to me how sharp and edgy they keep the show from week-to-week.   

1...2... Tell us something few people know about you!

When I was eleven, I wanted to be a ninja more anything else in the world and asked my parents to send me to Japan for training.  Luckily my parents didn't grant my request, because you know, ninjas kill people for a living.  

Connect to Brook

Get to know the Grey Tower Trilogy by Alesha Escobar

Let's start with you, Alesha the person. What do you do when not writing?

Taking care of four children who will insist that there's no such thing as nap time! When I do steal some time away, I enjoy reading, crafts, and watching movies.

Now Alesha, the author. What's your book all about? Give us the goods.

My current book is the second installment in the Gray Tower Trilogy--DARK RIFT which will be available November 30. It's the continuation of the story of Isabella George, an alchemist hired by British intelligence to spy against the Nazis in a World War II where Hitler has allied with warlock vampires to win the war. Besides trying to stay alive and avoid having her powers drained by these warlocks, she's also trapped in a deadly game with those in the Gray Tower who trained her. The Master Wizards want the Time Wizard dead--someone they fear could be used as a powerful weapon against the entire world--and she's doing everything to ensure the exact opposite. Book #1, THE TOWER'S ALCHEMIST, left off on a cliffhanger and my readers are dying to know who the traitor is (among other things). DARK RIFT satisfies those questions as well as gives readers another wild, magical escape into this world. 

Does reading play a role in your writing?

I believe it does. I remember coming across an interesting piece of advice for writers--that we should read not only books from our genres, but across many genres. One day you'll be reading a fantasy or thriller, and the next an essay or political satire. I think this helps with familiarizing yourself with different styles of writing, as well as with acquiring knowledge and research. It can also be your lead to your next story idea!

When it comes to writing, what is your biggest pet peeve?

When I get a thumbs down from my husband, Luis, when he looks over my drafts. He can be snarky as hell sometimes, but he has such a good eye for story-telling, and he has been my unofficial editor from the beginning. On the interwebs, you can find him giving drawing lessons and dishing the goods about his job on The Simpsons television show.

What advice would you give to indie authors?

1. Keep writing, and keep practicing writing. It's a skill you have to put to use.
2. Find your unique voice and style, and don't feel pressured to write like someone else.
3. Network with other authors and with bloggers. They are a great resource and are supportive.
4. Marketing plays a huge role, so know your target audience and where and how to reach them.

How do you promote/market yourself?

Social media, guest blogging, and building an opt-in email list of readers and fans. All of these must have as their foundation an actual relationship, whether it's between me and other authors, me and bloggers/reviewers, and especially me and the readers. We indies know how annoying the spammy promotions can be, but besides smart marketing techniques, you need to build relationships which will not only result in promotion on your behalf, but also meaningful connections.

Do you have any 'ultimate' writing goals?

I'm a former teacher and a current at-home mom, so what else is there to do but write a bestseller and make loads of money? (Just kidding--sort of). I want to continue writing, continue evolving, and five or ten years from now I want to still love doing it.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your creative process?

Sometimes during the process a sudden inspiration takes hold of me and I run with it...and then I try to fit it in with the story. This doesn't always work, and sometimes results in scenes being cut.

What authors have inspired your writing?

Interestingly enough, I am a great lover of the classics, from Dante's Divine Comedy to Shakespeare and crazy William Blake. Love them. My favorite fantasy authors include Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Robert Jordan (YES the five-page descriptions of clothing got to me as well), and I'm a fan of Jim Butcher's urban fantasy.

Tell us one thing most people don't know about you (within reason ;)

I secretly wish I were taller by at least 3-4 inches. I'm only 5'2" and it's unfair, I tell ya! 

Connect to Alesha 

Don't be shy about messaging me and friending me on Goodreads:

The Tower's Alchemist, (The Gray Tower Trilogy, #1) available at Amazon:

Get to know The Vampire Queen, Jodie Pierce

So let's get chummy?  Where are you from and what do you do (besides writing)?  

I'm from Cleveland, Ohio and I'm a family gal when I'm not writing.

Tell us about your book.  

My book is the third installment in my Vampire Queen trilogy. Demise of theVampire Queen is a continuation of the Vampire Queen's journeys. The Queen is once again ruling her subjects only this time it is a school for the ‘different’ children in Scotland. A school full of vampires, witches, warlocks, elves and fairies, one that is feared and hated by all who attend. A new group of witches and warlocks show up to her gates and cause all kinds of havoc within the school.Vampires and witches are at odds and only a few can see the survival of the school. An ancient lover and the Queen are reunited but at what costs? A new, as well as an old lover unite to attempt to take the Queen off her throne. Will it work? Will the Queen maintain her horrendous rule over the students? Can the spells woven work and change history? All will be told in the end. 

What inspired you to write it? 

I wrote book 1 and 2 originally as 1 book but then later broke it up into two books. I decided I wanted to be able to say I had a trilogy so I started writing and also tied up some loose ends from book 1 & 2.

When it comes to writing, what makes you tick?  

Vampires! All of my writing has to do with vampires. If there are no vampires, I get bored and just draw blanks.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?  

Keep plugging along. If you want to be published by a traditional house, keep working at it. Giving up gets you no where and if it's meant to be, it will be.

What have you done to promote your book? 

I'm on so many book websites, all over online, have various personal sites promoting my books, worked with other authors for exposure and am constantly still working on it.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your creative process?  

Finding the time to promote and write.

How closely does your writing reflect your life?  

Many aspects of my characters  reflect those around me.

What authors have inspired your writing?  

Anne Rice and Christine Feehan have been the biggest influences.

Connect with Jodie Pierce

Get to know The Truth Finder by Engelia McCullough

Where are you from and what do you do (besides writing)?

I’m from Maryland where I’ve been a recruiter for seven plus years.

Tell us about your latest book. 

The first manuscript which is in the editing stages is called The Truth Finder and it is the first book in The Truth Series. It’s about cold case detective, Sarah Markes, who is known for her ability to solve even the toughest of cases.

What inspired you to write it?

A few years ago, my aunt was murdered. The individuals assigned to her case were not the most helpful. Sarah Markes is exactly the type of detective we could have used at that time.

When it comes to writing, what makes you tick?

I love to tell a great story. I’ve always been a creative person with my first piece being published at the age of five. There is nothing better than when your characters develop or the story becomes something you didn’t plan.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Just sit down and write. Worry about the other things later.

What have you done to promote your book?

In preparation for my debut book, I’ve started to create a social media platform.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your creative process?

What we tend to call writer’s block but for me is just a point in time when my energy is low and my procrastination is high. It’s not a good look.

How closely does your writing reflect your life?

I do incorporate certain things from my life into my writing. Writing is also a therapy of sorts.

 What authors have inspired your writing?

This definitely takes me back to the days of RL Stine, Ann M. Martin, and the list goes on. I was an avid reader of The Babysitters Club, Nancy Drew Mysteries, Sweet Valley High and anything that took me to another world or introduced me to characters I could relate to. I thought the coolest thing was to create a fictional world that at the same time seemed so real.

Anything stunning to share?

I’m a total adrenaline junkie. I just knocked sky diving off of my list. Next is to swim with sharks. Also, I own a snake. It’s a baby ball python named Snakey.

Connect with Engelia

Get to know a new wave, 

Sebastian Briglia.

 So let's get chummy.  Where are you from and what do you do (besides writing)?

I met a big guy in rehab who used to say he was "born all over the place," and my response at the time was that considering his size his birth may have been so excruciating that it required more than one location. Now I feel like I was born all over the place. Evidence suggests that the city of Varna, Bulgaria was the first place, though I don't remember that particular birth. I did live there until I was 13 years old. After a few births I do remember (and some deaths too) I ended up in New York City. I was convinced New York was heaven at first, but four years down the line I'm starting to think I may have been dead wrong about that one.

Writing was supposed to be all I did. My guidance counselor in high school suggested I take up journalism. By the time I had some local writing gigs under my belt the industry started to die. Now I listen to its death groans as I find news clips at night for a service that delivers media research first thing in the morning to people I dreamed of becoming when I came to America (like celebrities and their PR teams). For peanuts, of course. 

Tell us about your book.       
New Wave and the Art of Heroin Maintenance is a result of me shelving my sci-fi opus and simply writing about my junkie past. I realized that I am not capable of realistically editing, polishing and finishing my material unless I actually put it out there for everyone to see, so I decided to self publish it in three parts to make the prospect less daunting. The first one emphasizes the sexual aspect of addiction. The second one, which I'm releasing now, called "Fires of 2001," focuses on addiction's artistic side. It features sculptures by modern Bulgarian / Armenian artist Agop Gemdjian.

What inspired you to write it?

About six years into recovery I started to realize that I was thinking of myself as some kind of an alien, belonging to this "addict" race, that something was missing from my re-entry into society. Around that time I decided to take a break from this sci-fi project I had been nursing for ever and to put some junkie war stories down on paper, just to see how that feels. Only once I started writing they didn't seem like war stories at all - after all these years in sobriety I was unable to glorify addiction even if I tried. 

What I found was that at the root of my heroin obsession was a compassionate aspiration: not wanting to need anything from anybody, to just be able to meet everyone as a human being, without emotional manipulation. Of course, what I did start to need from everybody was money for drugs, but there was no need to throw out the baby with the bath water. I was human then, and I am human now, only slightly less deluded. I figured investigating that margin of a difference could be useful as well as entertaining.

When it comes to writing, what makes you tick?

Lately I've been fascinated with the art of depicting the passing of time. What used to make me tick about writing was just letting the world know about my crazy ideas about the nature of reality. Who was it that said "If you have a message, use Western Union, don't write a book?" Google doesn't know, but somebody did say it, I'm positive.

Right now I'm pretty convinced that there is nothing else to literature except creating the feeling of time. You get that right and characters will develop themselves and all kinds of plot-holes and half-baked ideas will be forgiven. Just look at the top Hollywood movies.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

I certainly have some advice on what not to do: a) Don't buy into conspiracy theories that just a handful of Illuminati control who gets mainstream publishing deals, even if they're true. b) Ask for feedback but don't change anything unless you truly believe it should be changed. It hurts much less if you have only yourself to blame. c) Do not assume that publishers will get the gist of your genius idea from anything less than a perfect final draft. 

What have you done to promote your book?

The only thing that has worked for me so far has been putting up physical posters in New York City subways. Until I got busted. Now I have to go to court for unauthorized posting. My friends find it's funny to picture me all shady, getting tapped on the shoulder by the police, but I do not. Somewhere in the back of my mind I think I'm going to jail for this. My research suggests it's a $75 to $200 fine.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your creative process?

Maintaining my energy even when I'm positive that all I'm doing by writing is providing conclusive proof of my idiocy. I work on multiple projects simultaneously to keep hope alive. Wait until my sci-fi mind bender makes it's debut.

How closely does your writing reflect your life?

Everything I write is biographical, even science fiction. I recently got married, so I'm discovering how little I know about real communication or being an adult, and these things make their way into my musings and tangents, regardless of the subject matter.

What authors have inspired your writing?

I love Kurt Vonnegut because he manages to be sentimental, straight forward, and to blow your mind at the same time. I love the way John Updike uses language. I love how Hemingway implies things without describing them - both plot and imagery. Douglas Adams is especially inspiring because he manages to create an elaborate style of rhythmic humor and catharsis in every paragraph. I can never get tired of rereading the Hitchhiker's Guide or Dirk Gently novels.

Anything stunning to share?

I find it fascinating that the classic four act structure of plot and character development resembles the four noble truths of Buddhism:Act I - Suffering (Dissatisfaction) The problem. Act II - The Cause of Suffering (Desire) Nothing works so the character indulges. The pause. Act III - The Cause of Suffering Must Be Abandoned (Reaction) The character tries to be proactive and makes everything worse. Act IV - There is a Path to the End of Suffering (Response) The character finds balance and success.

Connect with Sebastian

Facebook: ; 
Agop Gemdjian's Facebook:


Get to know the dark visions of Dylan Morgan

Where are you from and what do you do (besides writing)?

I was born in Christchurch, on New Zealand’s South Island, and still consider myself a New Zealander despite my passport stating differently. My parents were originally from the UK, and it was inevitable they’d return there, so at the age of 9 I continued my life in Wales, a country which is part of the United Kingdom. After growing up there, I fell in love with a Norwegian lady, we had kids, and I’m now living a few clicks north of Oslo, in Norway. I work as a warehouse manager in my spare time, between 8am and 4pm . . . To relax, I listen to music or play video games.

So what's your book all about? Give us the goods.

I actually have three books available, so I’ll give a quick rundown on all three.
My debut novel, Hosts, was first released as an e-book back in 2009 but is now available in both print and Kindle formats through Amazon. It tells the story of a small skiing community ravaged by a mutated form of parasite, and Sheriff Andrew Keller’s battle against this danger, his struggle with a tumultuous romance, and deadly conflict with his girlfriend’s ex-lover.
My latest novel, Blood War, was released in 2011 by Pill Hill Press, and is available in print, Kindle, and Nook formats. Described as “a well-written, highly entertaining action movie of a novel” by Shroud Book Reviews, the novel traces the history of a six hundred year war between vampires, werewolves and hybrids, illegitimate offspring of forbidden unions between vampire and werewolf. It spans the globe, and the novel starts in the year 1287 AD before moving swiftly to the present day. Think of the Underworld franchise; and then think bigger with a better cast and you’re close to Blood War.

I also have a novella out, October Rain, which is currently available on the Kindle through Hazardous Press. It was previously published by Sonar4 Publications, but to be honest they made a hash of it. It tells the story of Steele, a bounty hunter on Mars during mankind’s final era, as man struggles to avoid extinction. Steele has three more contracts to fulfill before being granted a new life with his wife and child, away from the violence—but, of course, things spiral terrifyingly out of control.

What inspired you to write them?

I used to write a lot of short stories, but one short story about a group of skiers trapped in a ski lodge took off and spiraled out of control. It evolved into Hosts. I haven’t written many short stories since then. The inspiration for Blood War came from a vision of a young girl returning home one rainy night to find her town overrun by bogeymen. The young girl became Deanna (a character in the Blood War book) and the bogeymen first became vampires, and then hybrids, and that vision became one of the early chapters in the novel. I love werewolves, and after watching Underworld I wanted to create my own vampire-werewolf war story, only bigger and better. I think I’ve achieved that and the best thing is, the war isn’t over. My inspiration for October Rain came from a dream (probably the only story of mine that has originated from a dream) where I was on Mars trying to reach Saturn to save my daughter from the impact of one of Saturn’s moons. Strange dream, but I’m glad I had it.

When it comes to writing, what makes you tick?

I simply must write, I have no other choice. My stories are images and visions in my head and they will plague me until the day I die if I don’t get them out and onto paper. The images and the characters within drive the stories; I never plot, but let the story take me where it needs to go. That makes me tick, not knowing where I’m going. I have a rough idea of where the novel will end up, but the journey is a mystery and it’s always exciting getting to know my characters and experience their pain and misery along the way. Reading other books is a good way to find inspiration, too. I can’t stress enough how important it is to read, preferably in different genres than what you write in.

What advice would you give to indie authors?

Be professional. You’re your own boss, getting your own books published and marketing them, so they have to be the best you can make them. Get beta readers to go over your work, trusted people who won’t sugar-coat anything. Pay for a professional editor to go through your work and tighten it to within an inch of its life. Pay to get professional cover art done, so that the book cover grabs people’s attention. Professional editing and cover art is what you would expect if your book was picked up by a publishing house, afford yourself nothing less.

What have you done to promote your book?

Not enough! There is so much to do and so little time in which to do it. I have a website which contains a blog and I am trying to generate traffic there. I use Twitter daily and I am a member of Goodreads. I have also recently joined other online writing and book communities hoping to “get my name out there”. It’s all about exposure. The more people see your name the more interested they’ll be in checking out your work. A website won’t cut it anymore; you need to be active daily on the internet. Writing stories has become the hobby, promoting them has become the job.

As an author, how do you rate Amazon in facilitating your goals?

Excellent. Amazon has opened so many doors for indie writers and I thank them for it. I can now get my books out to the public in both print and eBook format without the worry of publishers screwing up the formatting or giving me a substandard cover. With that said, as easy as it is to get published on Amazon, I’m not fool enough to rush in to it. I’ll still get my work edited to a professional standard with great looking cover art before getting it out to the masses. I’m 75% my own publisher now, and I want my work to be the best, for my sake and Amazon’s.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your creative process?

Being a family man I find that finding the time to write can be a challenge. Thankfully my family understands that this is what I do in my spare time and they support it 100% so they allow me the freedom to hide myself away and create. That doesn’t mean I’m not disturbed: with 15 and 13 year old daughters in the house there’ll always be disturbances. Discipline makes a big difference—don’t wait for the time to write, make the time to write.

What authors have inspired your writing?

Early Stephen King inspired me a lot: Carrie, Salem’s Lot, The Shining—all those good stories he wrote when inebriated half the time. Dean Koontz is another author who had a big influence on my writing. He’s so descriptive and there’s never a problem with him pulling me into the worlds he creates. I don’t read so much of their stuff anymore, but modern writers like Scott Nicholson, Brian Keene, and Kealan Patrick Burke are authors that always inspire me to write.

Tell us one thing most people don't know about you (within reason ;)

My boyhood dream was to be a rock star. I love music, grew up listening to bands like Motley Crue, Iron Maiden and tons of other 80’s heavy metal acts. I learned the drums, joined garage bands and wanted desperately to tour the world and play sold out shows and drink whiskey. Unfortunately some dreams don’t even get off the ground! 

Connect with Dylan

Twitter: @dylanjmorgan

Get to know transformative author, Marquita Herald

Where are you from, and what do you do (besides writing)?

I’m originally from California, but moved to Maui when I was quite young and have now lived here longer than I did on the mainland; so in a very real sense I consider Maui my hometown. In addition to my books, I am blogger, an artist, hula dancer (seriously), avid supporter of perpetuating the Hawaiian culture and a voracious reader. 

Tell us about your book. What's it about?

The title of my latest book is It’s Your Time Now - A Guide to Living Your Life by Design. The basic premise is living with greater intention rather than letting life simply happen to you. A lot of people still cling to the notion that “life design” is all about chucking the job and living footloose and on the move around the world. In reality, it’s about becoming really clear about what you want out of this life, accepting the power you have to create your own life experience, and then having the courage to make intentional choices each day in order to become the person you are meant to be

What inspired you to write it?

My readers are always my greatest inspiration. They told me they “got” the value of making intentional choices about their life; what they struggled with was how to going about doing it when you’re already an adult and up to your eyeballs in demanding relationships, commitments and a lifetime of personal baggage. So, I wrote the book with that challenge in mind. In fact, it really is a workbook, because at the end of each chapter there are questions and simple exercises to nudge the reader into becoming proactive about his/her life experience.

When it comes to writing, what makes you tick?

I’m a very cerebral writer, and often I’ll work out entire articles or chapters in my head before I ever sit down to my computer. I prefer to write without external noise or distractions, so once I do start writing I tend to lose track of time; fortunately my little dog Lucy periodically drags me back into reality for trips outside for some fresh air!

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Just do it. I’m in a lot of writer/author groups and when I hear someone keep talking about how they want to be a writer, or they intend to write a book, I can’t help but reflect on advice a seasoned author gave me at the first writer’s conference I ever attended. I’d just uttered those infamous words - I want to be a writer - and she looked at me and said, “You are already a writer, now you have to do the work to let the world know what you have to say.”

What have you done to promote your book?

My blog serves as my branding tool and the basis for growing my platform. In addition, I’m active in social media, especially Twitter and Pinterest, and in a variety of author and reader groups. I do a fair amount of article marketing, and I’ve recently begun doing guest posts. I’d like to do more of that in the future, and maybe give a virtual book tour a try.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your creative process?

I’d have to say it’s shifting from the research phase to writing. I love doing research, so if I’m not careful, I lose all track of time and end up in a scheduling bind.

How closely does your writing reflect your life?

There are very few things I write about that I haven’t already experienced firsthand. In fact, there are articles on my blog that mirror what was going on in my own life at the time, though I try not to let that happen very often. My determination to present a balanced viewpoint is one of the reasons I spend so much time researching the themes I write about.

What authors have inspired your writing?

The two that come to mind are John Maxwell and Peter McWilliams. Both write about personal transformation, and both have a no-nonsense style with a touch of humor that I value and strive for with my own writing.

Anything stunning to share?

I’d love to share that I have a new book coming out later this month about the power of self-belief! We are born into this world with no sense of what we can or cannot do. Then, bit by bit life begins to embed the notion of limits. The good news is self-belief is learnable, and we can overcome those self-imposed limits. Ultimately, the book is about having the courage to become the hero of your own life story.

Connect with Marquita

Amazon Author Page:


Get to know poet and fiction writer, Edward Petty

So let's get chummy.  Where are you from and what do you do (besides writing)?

I'm a native Texan.  I like to write poetry, prose and song lyrics, mainly for catharsis more than for money.  I like to read Stephen King's works, and to watch Lucille Ball's comedy series.

Tell us about your book.  What's it about?

My poetry book is my soul being laid bare.  I express a gambit of emotions in all of the poems.  It's mainly about how I deal with life as I see it, for better or worse.

What inspired it?

I wrote all the poems over many years mainly because I needed an outlet.  I feel such empathy for all people who're struggling in any way.  I needed for all my words to be heard (or read).

When it comes to writing, what makes you tick?

I write when I'm inspired.  Things that are shameful, like all forms of bigotry, need to be addressed.  I feel inspired to write about things that usually would anger people.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

I'd tell them all to strive for perfection, even if they fall short of it.  Speak from your heart, and with conviction.  Writing's nevereasy, and yet it can be so rewarding to know that what's written is someone's best effort.

What have you done to promote your book?

I listed my poetry book on through its Kindle Direct Publishing program.  I then promoted it by advertising that it's available for purchase via blogs, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Twitter, Youtube and other outlets.  I created book trailers that I posted to  A link to my AuthorCentral page is here:  

What is the biggest challenge you face in your creative process?

I almost always strive for a perfection that's almost never reached.  I also struggle with finding character attributes and names.

How closely does your writing reflect your life?

The poetry reflects my life more than any of my other writing.  I completely allowed all my emotions to be exposed in it.  There's also a character who's inside my novella that's entitled Jared's Little Playground who's very similar to me.

What authors have inspired your writing?

Stephen King greatly inspires me.  I consider most of his work to be brilliantly written.  I admit that I don't read too many other authors' works.  I've read Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx, though.

Anything stunning to share?

 I was once in a TV commercial with ex-Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach when I was five years old.

Connect with Edward:  

All likes, purchases and reviews are greatly appreciated.

No comments:

Post a Comment