MAY’S FEATURED AUTHOR: RICHARD CROFTON

Authors

R.C21) Your Journey as an Author…..Since I was little, I’ve always enjoyed writing stories, but I never took the activity seriously enough to save my work. Most of the time, I’d reread what I’d written and cringe at the corniness. But a few years ago, the idea for The Keepers of White series came to me out of nowhere, and I found myself writing while the story in my mind continued to expand. Over a year ago, I had nearly completed the first three books of the series, but I wasn’t sure if I would ever publish. At that time however, I discovered a local short story contest for an anthology that was to be published in my town; the proceeds would all go toward the Christmas Come True Foundation. With nothing to lose and for the sake of charity, I submitted. I was soon contacted by the woman heading the project: she praised my writing skills, amazed I’d never before published, and selected my story as the one of the ten in the collection (it’s titled “The Choice” in A Night Like This: A Flagler County Anthology). This experience encouraged me take a more serious effort at writing.

2) What reading means to you…..As a former English teacher, reading is obviously a very important activity in my eyes. It expands the mind, makes us question, causes us to entertain the enigmatic “What If’s” in life, and offers a healthy escape into amazing, imaginative, and colorful worlds. Whether it be fiction or non-fiction, when we read, we gain knowledge and information, we consider alternate and opposing ideas from our own, helping us to achieve open-mindedness, and we discover a serene enjoyment. In short, reading means self-growth. Regardless of our age, experience, or level of intelligence or wisdom, we can always continue to grow, and reading provides the path to do so.

3) Whats next for you…..Agents of Shadow is the first book in The Keepers of White series. I’ve already completed Books II and III because initially, the three made up one complete story. However, together it was far too large a manuscript to publish as one book, so I had to break it up into three. The second book, The Paladin’s Message, is currently being proofread and, once I can get an artist to create the exact cover I desire for it, will hopefully be released sometime in the summer of 2017. The third book is still without a title, but I’m hoping to publish that one about six months after the second. I’m currently writing the fourth book. I also plan to write an anthology of short stories with a central theme regarding human redemption and spiritual influence, and one of the short stories in that anthology will consist of a quick adventure by the protagonist in The Keepers of White series when he was a teenager. Finally, if I ever brave the non-fiction world, I will one day a humor-toned collection of my experiences as a middle school teacher.

APRIL’S FEATURED AUTHOR: S.P. OLDHAM

Authors

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1) Your Journey as an Author…..It might sound something of a cliché but I have genuinely written stories and poetry of my own volition since my very early childhood, my first poem being published in a local magazine some time later when I was twelve. For many years writing was a private pleasure, something I shared with very few people outside of my family and closest friends. About fifteen years or so ago I joined an online writing site, which helped in building my confidence and honing my skills tremendously; learning from other writers can be a valuable tool. I began having work accepted in various anthologies, in e-zines, magazines, greetings cards and so on. I also had a story professionally read and broadcast on Rutland Radio’s ‘Sunday Night Story.’ Finally, a little over a year ago, having had no luck with conventional publishing routes, I decided to try self-publishing. I have learned a great deal in the time since and whilst I still have a long way to go, at least now I feel I have a chance at success and at finding readers who might enjoy my writing style and what I have to offer.

2) What reading means to you…..Reading is one of my lifelong passions. It is hard to fully describe what it means to me. On one level, it is something for which I will be eternally grateful to my parents for. Both were avid readers and so thanks to them I grew up in a house where there were always books around and where reading was actively encouraged. I used to go to bed feeling lucky if I was allowed to keep the light on for half an hour to read! I can still clearly recall the cover images of some of my favourite childhood books. The recollection always fills me with nostalgia. As an adult, reading is an escape, an education, often a revelation. I have learned so very much about such a wide variety of subjects, especially those that have always held an interest for me, such as history. I have experienced the delicious anticipation of getting all the jobs done so I can curl up with my book. I have fallen asleep countless times with a book on my face! Reading is a reward, a comfort, a reassurance and a privilege, to me.

3) Whats next for you…..My personal health circumstances may well dictate the next phase of my working life, something over which I may not have much control. No matter what, I hope I will always read for the sheer pleasure of it. As far as writing goes, it is as fundamental to me as breathing; a compulsion almost. Whether or not I ‘make it,’ in the orthodox sense, as a writer, will have no bearing upon my work in the end. I will write nonetheless because it is part of who I am and what I do. As for my books, I have just begun a Victorian Romance with something of a difference, and I have plans for another horror/speculative fiction work for later in the year or perhaps early next year. Of course, every writer out there hopes to be read and enjoyed and I am no different. I recently penned a phrase ‘Write like the whole world is reading,’ and that is just what I intend to do.

FEBRUARY’S FEATURED AUTHOR: J.P. Cawood

Authors

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1) Your Journey as an Author…..My journey as an author started with a leap of faith. In the midst of a successful career creating TV shows, my boyfriend received a six-month gig in London. It was a great opportunity for him, and I was supportive of him going. Not wanting to be apart, we decided that I would quit my job and go with him. So I left Los Angeles for London, where I focused full-time on my writing. I had been working on Sam & The Secrets of the Universe in my spare time, so it was such a treat to have no distractions. I finished that book and wrote my second, Love from Mars. The rainy London weather made it much easier to concentrate than the SoCal sun! That leap of faith in quitting my job was so worth it. Not only did I come back to LA with two completed books, I also got engaged!

2) What reading means to you…..Reading is so meaningful because it’s a way to learn and grow through an exchange of ideas. I read a lot of non-fiction books that teach me new ideas, ways of living, and skills. Fiction takes me on an adventure or allows me to see the world from new perspectives. I love stories that embark on an emotional journey because they are like a mirror, allowing me to see myself through the reflection of other characters, their struggles, and how they handle the twists and turns.

3) Whats next for you…..I have two more books outlined and plan to keep writing! I’ll continue to focus in the science fiction genre because it’s exciting to explore themes of consciousness, cosmic conflict, and new frontiers of understanding. I already have the cover designed for my next book so that’s exciting! I’ll soon be producing the audio books for Sam & The Secrets of the Universe and Love from Mars. I’d also like to adapt my stories into screenplays, bringing in my previous experiences in TV and film.

JANUARY’S FEATURED AUTHOR: Calvin Dean

Authors

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1) Your Journey as an Author…..My journey started in high school. When I was a freshman, my English teacher asked each student to write a short story. I wrote a Twilight Zone-esqe story entitled The Epitaph of Jonas Barloff. At about this same time, I began working at a radio station where I wrote advertising copy. By age 18, I won a State Wide Award for a 30-second radio ad. So I’ve been writing short pieces for a long time. About eight years ago, I decided to write a novel. I took the basic premise from the “Epitaph” short story. Five years later—yes, count them—five long years later, I had a novel. I learned so much from that process that I wrote my second book, A Door Unlocked, in four months. I just released a third book, Curses, and now I’m shopping my fourth book, Geriatric Delinquents, to publishers. Stay tuned on that one. I’m really excited about it.

2) What reading means to you…..To many, reading is a social awakening, a learning and growing experience. And while this is true for me too, more than that, reading is simply a pleasure, an escape. I don’t require that an author lead me down the path of knowledge, though if he or she does, that’s great. All I require is that the author takes me on an incredible journey. Tell me an entertaining story. It can be weird, frightening, funny, happy, suspenseful, whatever. I just want to be entertained. That’s why I read. That’s how I try to write.

3) Whats next for you…..That depends on how the public receives Curses and Geriatric Delinquents. I really like the characters in both books. Here’s the strange part, in Curses, my protagonist took the novel in a completely different direction from what I originally planned. I intended to write a typical, old-fashioned ghost story. And while the book contains some freaky scenes, Martin steered me in a humorous direction. I explain this in the acknowledgements section of the book … how he practically conked me on the head and took over the keyboard. In my fourth book, yet to be released, I went completely off the reservation. All of my work so far has dealt with the paranormal. Not so with Geriatric Delinquents. This is a contemporary southern satire. (I’m from Mississippi in the southeastern USA, so I’m eat-up with it). It’s about two sisters who oppose a proposition to legalize marijuana in their small town. To their chagrin, their aging rock star brother returns home to support the measure. Imagine Dolly Parton as the older sister and Goldie Hawn as the younger sister. Then imagine someone like Mick Jagger as the brother. As you might expect, all parties are butting heads and pulling in opposite directions until the day of the election. There’s plenty of conflict, and therefore, plenty of humor. I really like this story and hope to follow up with more.

DECEMBER’S FEATURED AUTHOR: DONNA STEELE.

Authors

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1) Your Journey as an Author…..I have always written, even before I realized that’s what I was doing. I wrote my first novel (which will never see the light of day) at the age of sixteen. When I stumbled upon fanfiction for the X-Files I knew I was home, and wrote those stories for ten years before getting up the courage to submit one of my “real” stories to an actual publisher. Science Fiction and Paranormal have always drawn me-there are no limits to where you can go! My nineteenth book – Another Time (the first in the Guardians of Time Series) is in the final edit stage with Soul Mate Publishing. The second in the series is proceeding.

2) What reading means to you…..Reading is the escape from the real world for me. As an introvert shoved into an extrovert position before I retired, I was always exhausted. Reading (or listening to a book during my commute) kept me sane and grounded. I love that the possibilities are endless – new worlds, history, heroes, even monsters and always heroines to take me away.

3) Whats next for you…..More books. The first sequel to Another Time is well underway; I also have a shifter trilogy in process. The first book is finished and the second and third are shaping up. Since I retired and now write full time the floodgates have opened!

NOVEMBER’S FEATURED AUTHOR: Russ Linton.

Authors

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1) Your Journey as an Author…..In the fourth grade, I wrote down the vague goal of becoming a “writer and an artist” when I grew up. When I finally embarked on that journey it led me from philosopher to graphic designer to stay at home parent, and even a stint with the FBI. It wasn’t until after all that, I finally got around to the “writing” part. That journey has shaped and informed what I write and what I read. My style is an eclectic mix: fantasy and science fiction with a dose of realism tempered by a quasi-literary style. I write for adults who are young at heart and youngsters who are old souls. I write about the struggles of life and try to impart a touch of magic to them. I am a guide on this journey and hope to invite as many people as possible along the way.

2) What reading means to you…..Like many writers, I was an early bloomer when it came to reading skills. As a child my mom made reading to myself and twin sister a priority along with ensuring frequent trips to the public library. I recall many of those early readers, from the whimsy of Seuss to the poetry of Silverstein. But the first chapter book I ever read that left a lasting impression was C.S. Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew. I didn’t realize how deeply that story affected me until on this full time writing journey, I sat down to re-read it. I’m not an overly emotional person, but I was moved to tears when I read the description of the Wood Between the Worlds after so many years. The thing that got me was when the children surface and you realize that they came from a single pool and the wood is filled with pools and the possibilities are endless. That’s at the heart of what reading means to me and why I want to open up those other worlds as a writer.

3) Whats next for you…..More books. I’m in the final stages for book three of my Stormblade Saga, a tale about a bugman monk raised by humans who struggles to find his place in the world. I’m also working on the second novel in my Crimson Son Universe. Spencer, the powerless son of the world’s toughest superhero is back. Events which he helped bring about have reshaped the world of Augments and he and Eric face a super-villain they’re not sure is truly their enemy. Once I’ve gotten those words out, I’m excited about the prospect of diving into another one of those pools. I have to avoid thinking about it for now because I might jump too soon and leave the rest of them behind.

OCTOBER’S FEATURED AUTHOR: Luna Saint Claire.

Authors

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1) Your Journey as an Author…..The Sleeping Serpent is my debut novel. I wrote the story that compelled me. It had been trying to escape for several years. I wasn’t ready to allow it to emerge until January 2013 and then I wrote unwaveringly for three years until publishing The Sleeping Serpent in October of 2015. It is a psychological erotic thriller about a narcissistic abusive yoga guru who seduces women for his personal gain.

The story flowed out of me without any obstacles. Then it was easy to go back and work on making beautiful sentences, and tweaking structure. I love richly written detail that describes place and enhances the character development, such as what people are wearing, eating, music they are listening to, and even what car they drive. I have been praised by readers for exquisite description and I have also been criticized for it.

I consider myself a Creator. In my life I have been a ballet dancer, painter, experimented with poetry, interior design and crafting, and made a living creating the wardrobe looks for characters. I feel that writing The Sleeping Serpent has stretched me creatively. This has been probably the most creative process I have experienced.

2) What reading means to you…..I usually read two or three books at a time—non-fiction on subjects that interest me or are research for what I am writing. And always a novel. Right now I am reading The Hero with a Thousand Faces for a greater understanding of the hero’s journey. Cutting for Stone a novel. And the new Elizabeth Gilbert book Big Magic, about creativity written with Liz’s wit and spiritual insight.

I rarely read disposable genre fiction. I love beautiful sentences, character description, the psychological workings driving motivation, and a thought provoking story. I adore the works of Jhumpa Lahiri that are rich in character description. Ian McEwan never fails to take my breath away with beautiful sentences that reveal the dark side of the soul. I love Elizabeth Gilbert for her wit and eloquence. Her memoir, Eat Pray Love, is inspired. I can add to that Hemingway for simplicity and Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa for eloquence and vivid description. Donna Tart’s Goldfinch was magnificent. Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina inspired The Sleeping Serpent, and The Death of Ivan Ilyich is an inspiration for the book I am writing now. I could go on…

3) Whats next for you…..Recently, I have been reading about affliction—suffering that imbues one’s soul—in an essay by the French philosopher Simone Weil. I am exploring the spiritual question how humans can have hope or faith when suffering something so internally painful. Can it be surmounted? In the novel I am currently writing, the hero is deeply afflicted and goes on The Hero’s Journey in a quest for redemption. These are iconic themes in mythology and literature from The Odyssey to Lord of the Rings. One of the greatest examples of a classic redemption story is the poem by Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner which explores the themes of shame and guilt and the spiritual process of redemption. I am enjoying reading these classic stories and allowing the spirit to move through me. This next novel will take some time to come to fruition.

September’s Featured Author: Terry Lynn Thomas.

Authors

 

Terry Lynn

1) Your Journey as an Author…..I dreamt of being a writer for as long as I can remember. This childhood vision consisted of me slaving away in a charming attic studio, while the rain pounded against the windows, and the steam wafted from the mug sitting at my elbow. I have always loved books, and (like all writers) am pretty introverted, so I spent my childhood reading. I spent a lot of my life wanting to be a writer, but never doing the actual work needed to get anywhere. Day-to-day adult responsibilities soon took over my life, and writing creatively (I work as a paralegal, so I do write at work.) slipped further and further out of reach. I did tinker around and wrote a handful of bad novels, and even went so far as to secure agent representation, but nothing ever came of it. Flash forward 20 years when I met my husband, a talented artist in his own right, in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I am originally from.

 

He was homesick and wanted to live nearer his parents. So when he asked me if I would move to Mississippi with him, I said yes! (This is true: He promised to buy me a horse if I moved with him. He kept his promise.) Relocating to the South was a huge uprooting for me, and while I was sad to say goodbye to the friends, restaurants, bookstores, and libraries I had frequented my entire adult life, I embraced my new adventure, especially since I was being handed a golden opportunity to bow out from responsibilities and write. I now consider myself a full-fledged, real life writer, and I will never quit. Writing is now a priority for me. I am so grateful that I was given the time and the opportunity to pursue this dream. (My husband gets a lot of credit for this.)

So I went to work and wrote three crappy novels in the course of two years. (I burned them. They will NEVER see the light of day.) I’ve always loved the Gothic fiction from the 1930s through the 1970s. (Think Georgette Heyer, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Mary Stewart, Dorothy Eden, and the like). Those were the books that I reached for, those were the books that I found myself reading over and over. I set out to create the Sarah Bennett Mysteries with those type of books in mind. I really love writing about an era where there are no cell phones or computers, and revisiting a time when people were much more connected to one another, both individually and as a community. I hope that young readers who pick up a Sarah book will visualize what it was like to live in a time before everyone was so plugged in. As a writer, this is really important to me. In many ways technology is a good thing, but we got along without it. It’s important to remember the past, and how things used to be.

2) What reading means to you…..A lot of my feeling about this question is encapsulated in my writers’ journey question above. Reading means the world. It is the thing that keeps me sane. Reading is my sanctuary, my intellectual comfort food, if that makes sense. We don’t have a television, and although we do watch shows via Netflix on our computer, my husband and I are both readers. The world would be a better place if more people read.

3) Whats next for you…..Book three of the Sarah series is drafted, and I am getting ready to edit it. (I let my books sit for a while before I start the editing process.) I hope to write at least another three Sarah stories. I also have a passion for middle-grade literature, and hope to do some collaborating in 2017 with a really talented writer in that genre. I also have an idea for a mystery series featuring an older woman, which takes place in the UK. Research trip! I love this job….

August’s Featured Author: Sylvia Hubbard.

Authors

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1) Your Journey as an Author…..According to my mother, since I was six I used to tell lies to her all the time. After whooping me within an inch of my life, as a further punishment I had to write the lie down and then come back and retell her the lie so I could be embarrassed. My pain turned into my passion and I stopped lying (which now I have very little friends), but I write down my lies all the time (and get paid for it.) Thanks Momma.

2) What reading means to you…..Reading means a way for me to go where no one else can go. Only can see those images as I read and I can relax into the bliss of my imagination. Reading means strength. I exercise my brain as I take in each word, making the muscle remember words, sentences and phrases, while I learn new and exciting things.

3) Whats next for you…..To write more, of course, and to create more book chats for my readers so they may interact with me on the over 37 novels I’ve written. I continue to be an active blogger and in the Metro Detroit area, I’m referred to as “A Literary Diva” by Detroit City Council and donned “Cliffhanger Queen” by my readers, I find solace in speaking and educating on a variety of topics. Subjects range from Social Media, Internet Marketing, Creative Intimacy, Single Parenting, Blogging, E-Books, Publishing (all aspects i.e.: writing, publishing, marketing & promoting online & offline), with inspiration mixed in.

July’s Featured Author: Tonya Clark

Authors

 

1) Your Journey as an Author…..My journey as an Author has been amazing. I need to kind of answer this question and the next one together. What reading means to me… Growing up I had severe dyslexia. I read way under grade level for all of elementary and middle school. In high school I read my first romance novel. I was hooked. By my senior year of high school, I was in a AP English class reading without problems. I have had the honor to speak to many people who have dyslexia and letting them know that it doesn’t need to stop you. It doesn’t mean you will never learn to read. Becoming an author, I have been able to reach so many others and hopefully show them anything is possible and with a good book and a little imagination, you can read anything.

2) What reading means to you….. ?

3) Whats next for you…..What’s next for me is to finish the Sign of Love Series which will include four books altogether. Book 1 Silent Burn (Now Available), Book 2 Silent Distraction (Releasing late July or early Aug. 2016), Book 3 Silent Protection, and Book 4 Silent Forgiveness. From there I am hoping to next year attend book signings, I love meeting all of the readers I believe that’s my favorite part of being an author. Then continue with encouraging those with dyslexia to never give up.




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